Bernie Sanders summons team to discuss 2020

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Bernie Sanders convened his top political advisers in Washington on Saturday for a planning meeting that included a discussion of the feasibility and shape of a possible 2020 presidential campaign, half a dozen senior Democrats familiar with the gathering confirmed to POLITICO.

The top-line message the Vermont senator received from the operatives gathered during the government shutdown was a more formal version of the one they’ve been giving him regularly for months: You would be one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. And if you want to run, it’s time to start seriously planning accordingly.

The Democratic socialist’s response to the series of presentations, according to multiple Democrats: I haven’t yet made a decision about 2020, but I still think beating Donald Trump is the most important thing for this country. And I want to be ready if I do decide to run.

Sanders regularly speaks with a close group of advisers and periodically brings top allies in to discuss his political maneuvers, but Saturday’s get-together included planning for the rest of 2018 as well as a specifically slated 2020 component, said Democrats familiar with the session, which was scheduled for the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. Part of the discussion included gaming out how the rest of the field might look, since 2016’s landscape — effectively pitting Sanders directly against Hillary Clinton — was far more straightforward than the expected 2020 free-for-all. – READ MORE

The federal probe into a 2010 land deal orchestrated by former Burlington College president Jane Sanders, wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has deepened. VTDigger has confirmed that a grand jury has compelled sworn witness testimony in the case.

The Vermont U.S. Attorney’s office has interviewed at least one witness before the grand jury to determine whether indictments should be handed down.

Former Burlington College board member Robin Lloyd says she testified for about an hour on Oct. 26 before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Burlington.

Paul Van de Graaf, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont, questioned Lloyd about her role as the development chair of the college’s board of trustees during a period when Sanders was collecting donations and pledges for the purchase of a $10 million city lakefront property.

Lloyd, who is publisher of the progressive website Toward Freedom, kept copious board meeting minutes as the development chair for the college. In the interview with Van de Graaf, Lloyd said he “was focused on what I knew about who had been approached for contributions.”

“I helped provide a timeline of what happened — and when — in terms of development,” Lloyd said. “It was general questions about donors, and money coming in.”

Jane and Bernie Sanders have vehemently denied any impropriety surrounding the land deal.

Jeff Weaver, a spokesman for the Sanders and former campaign manager, told Seven Days Sunday night, “We have absolutely no reason to believe that there is a grand jury empaneled to examine Burlington College, Jane Sanders, or any aspect of Dr. Sanders’ service as president of Burlington College. As best we can tell, the current news reports are simply recycling an account of a government interview of a witness from several months ago. Nothing new here.”

Lloyd’s appearance is the first public confirmation that the federal government has compelled a grand jury.

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