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Support Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren't on the Bandwagon. Colin Powell, George W. Bush and Senator Mitt Romney For Biden in 2020!
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AlleyCat
2021-01-05 18:08:40 UTC
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Vote for Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren’t on the Bandwagon

Former President George W. Bush and Senator Mitt Romney won’t support Mr.
Trump’s re-election. Colin Powell will vote for Joe Biden, and other
G.O.P. officials may do the same.


By Jonathan Martin

Published June 6, 2020
Updated June 7, 2020, 2:00 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — It was one thing in 2016 for top Republicans to take a stand
against Donald J. Trump for president: He wasn’t likely to win anyway, the
thinking went, and there was no ongoing conservative governing agenda that
would be endangered.

The 2020 campaign is different: Opposing the sitting president of your own
party means putting policy priorities at risk, in this case appointing
conservative judges, sustaining business-friendly regulations and cutting
taxes — as well as incurring the volcanic wrath of Mr. Trump.

But, far sooner than they expected, growing numbers of prominent
Republicans are debating how far to go in revealing that they won’t back
his re-election — or might even vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the
presumptive Democratic nominee. They’re feeling a fresh urgency because of
Mr. Trump’s incendiary response to the protests of police brutality, atop
his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people who spoke
on the condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.

Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr.
Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote, say people familiar with
their thinking. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah won’t back Mr. Trump and is
deliberating whether to again write in his wife, Ann, or cast another
ballot this November. Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is
almost certain to support Mr. Biden but is unsure how public to be about
it because one of her sons is eying a run for office.

And former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Sunday that he
will vote for Mr. Biden, telling CNN that Mr. Trump “lies about things”
and Republicans in Congress won’t hold him accountable. Mr. Powell, who
voted for former President Barack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, said
he was close to Mr. Biden politically and socially and had worked with him
for more than 35 years. “I’ll be voting for him,” he said.
ImageFormer Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would vote for Joe
Biden, telling CNN that President Trump “lies about things.”
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would vote for Joe Biden,
telling CNN that President Trump “lies about things.”Credit...Drew
Angerer/Getty Images

None of these Republicans voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, but the reproach of
big Republican names carries a different weight when an incumbent
president and his shared agenda with Senate leaders are on the line.

Former Republican leaders like the former Speakers Paul D. Ryan and John
A. Boehner won’t say how they will vote, and some Republicans who are
already disinclined to support Mr. Trump are weighing whether to go beyond
backing a third-party contender to openly endorse Mr. Biden. Retired
military leaders, who have guarded their private political views, are
increasingly voicing their unease about the president’s leadership but are
unsure whether to embrace his opponent.

Mr. Biden himself, while eager to win support across party lines, intends
to roll out his “Republicans for Biden” coalition later in the campaign,
after fully consolidating his own party, according to Democrats familiar
with the campaign’s planning.
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The public expressions of opposition to Mr. Trump from parts of the
Republican and military establishment have accelerated in recent days over
his repeated calls for protesters to be physically constrained,
“dominated,” as he put it, and his administration’s order to forcefully
clear the streets outside the White House so he could walk out for a photo
opportunity. His conduct has convinced some leaders that they can no
longer remain silent.

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s blistering criticism of Mr. Trump
and the admission this week by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that she
is “struggling” with whether to vote for the sitting president of her own
party have intensified the soul-searching taking place, forcing a number
of officials to reckon with an act that they have long avoided: stating
out loud that Mr. Trump is unfit for office.

“This fall, it’s time for new leadership in this country — Republican,
Democrat or independent,” said William H. McRaven, the retired Navy
admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “President
Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good
commander in chief.”

Admiral McRaven, in an interview on the 76th anniversary of D-Day, noted
that those wartime leaders inspired Americans with “their words, their
actions and their humanity.”

In contrast, he said, Mr. Trump has failed his leadership test. “As we
have struggled with the Covid pandemic and horrible acts of racism and
injustice, this president has shown none of those qualities,” Admiral
McRaven said. “The country needs to move forward without him at the helm.”
Image
Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is likely to support
former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November.
Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is likely to support
former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November.Credit...Francisco
Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune, via Associated Press

Mr. Trump won election in 2016, of course, in spite of a parade of
Republicans and retired military officers who refused to support him. Far
more current G.O.P. elected officials are publicly backing Mr. Trump than
did four years ago. Among his unwavering supporters are Republican leaders
like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and past foes like
Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. And polls today indicate that rank-
and-file Republicans are squarely behind the president, although that is
in part because some Republicans who can’t abide Mr. Trump now align with
independents.

Yet it would be a sharp rebuke for former Trump administration officials
and well-known Republicans to buck their own standard-bearer.
Individually, they may not sway many votes — particularly at a time of
deep polarization. But their collective opposition, or even resounding
silence, could offer something of a permission structure for Trump-
skeptical Republicans to put party loyalty aside.

John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff and a retired Marine
general, would not say whom he would vote for, though he did allow that he
wished “we had some additional choices.”

Dan Coats, the former Republican senator who was Mr. Trump’s director of
national intelligence, “has been concerned about the negative effect on
the intelligence community by the turmoil of turnover at D.N.I.,” said
Kevin Kellems, a longtime adviser to Mr. Coats, adding that the former spy
chief is “encouraged by the confirmation of a new D.N.I. and career
intelligence deputy.”

As for whom Mr. Coats will vote for, “ultimately he remains a loyal
Republican but he believes the American people will decide on Nov. 3,”
said Mr. Kellems.

Joseph Maguire, a retired three-star admiral who served as Mr. Trump’s
acting intelligence chief, invoked the comments of Mr. Mattis and two
former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also criticized the
president this week.

“Jim Mattis, Mike Mullen and Marty Dempsey are all good friends, and I
respect them tremendously,” Admiral Maguire said in an interview. “I am in
alignment with their views.”

Asked who Mr. Boehner and Mr. Ryan will vote for in November,
representatives to both former House speakers declined to say.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asked if she would support Mr.
Trump for re-election, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that she didn’t
want to discuss politics right now, adding that her focus was on
addressing divisions in the country. She did not support Mr. Trump in
2016.

A number of current G.O.P. lawmakers and governors are also wrestling with
what to do — and what to say — as they balance conscience, ideology and
the risk to themselves and their constituents that comes from confronting
Mr. Trump.

Representative Francis Rooney of Florida has donated millions of dollars
to Republican candidates over the years, served as President Bush’s
ambassador to the Vatican and hasn’t voted for a Democrat in decades.

But Mr. Rooney said he is considering supporting Mr. Biden in part because
Mr. Trump is “driving us all crazy” and his handling of the virus led to a
death toll that “didn’t have to happen.”

Mr. Rooney is not seeking re-election, so he is not worried about future
electoral prospects. He said his hesitation with Mr. Biden owes to
uncertainty about whether left-wing Democrats would pull the former vice
president out of the political mainstream.

“What he’s always been is not scary,” said Mr. Rooney. “A lot of people
that voted for President Trump did so because they did not like Hillary
Clinton. I don’t see that happening with Joe Biden — how can you not like
Joe Biden?”

Mr. Rooney has been gently lobbied by one of Mr. Biden’s closest allies in
Congress: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who has effectively become the
former vice president’s emissary to current and recent Republican
lawmakers.

Mr. Coons said a number of G.O.P. senators, regardless of their public
comments, would ultimately not pull the lever for Mr. Trump in the privacy
of the ballot booth.

“I’ve had five conversations with senators who tell me they are really
struggling with supporting Trump,” said Mr. Coons, who declined to give
names.
Image
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she is “struggling” with the
decision of whether to vote for Mr. Trump.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she is “struggling” with the
decision of whether to vote for Mr. Trump.Credit...Al Drago for The New
York Times

Indeed, one Republican senator, who is publicly supporting the president,
said in an interview that he might prefer a Biden victory if the G.O.P.
managed to preserve its Senate majority. This lawmaker, like a number of
Republicans, is uneasy with Mr. Trump’s behavior and weary from the near-
weekly barrage of questions from reporters about the latest presidential
eruption.

As former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a moderate Democrat who
was friends with a number of her former Republican colleagues, put it:
“It’s easier to count the ones who are definitely voting for Trump.”

Among the anti-Trump Republicans now out of office, recent events have
only vindicated their sense of alarm — and nudged them toward embracing
Mr. Biden.

“For people who were long waiting for that pivot, the last week has shown,
if anything, he’s dug in and not even making an attempt to appeal to
anybody outside his hard base,” said former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona,
who is close to Mr. Coons and in conversation with him about how and when
to formalize his support for Mr. Biden.

Former Representative Mark Sanford, who briefly challenged the president
in the Republican primary, said last year that he’d support the president
if he won the nomination.

But now Mr. Sanford believes Mr. Trump is threatening the stability of the
country. “He’s treading on very thin ice,” said Mr. Sanford, also a former
South Carolina governor, who is engaged in frequent conversations with
other Republicans about how to proceed.

There are already a number of Republican groups dedicated to defeating Mr.
Trump, and former lawmakers, strategists and policymakers who are plotting
what and when to say about the election.

“There is an organized effort about how to make our voices useful in
2020,” said Kori Schake, who worked at the National Security Council and
State Department under President George W. Bush and was an editor with Mr.
Mattis of the book “Warriors and Citizens,” about the civil-military
divide.

She said a number of officials who worked for both Presidents Bush and
Reagan, many of whom signed a 2016 letter opposing Mr. Trump, were on Zoom
chats and group emails trying to determine how to express their opposition
and whether it should come with an endorsement for Mr. Biden. The effort
to gather more anti-Trump Republicans to speak out is being spearheaded by
John B. Bellinger III, who also worked in George W. Bush’s N.S.C. and
State Department.

Some Republicans believe Mr. Mattis made their task easier.

“It laid the cornerstone of fighting back against Trump,” said former
Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who noted that as Navy secretary he
once served as “boss” to Mr. Mattis, then a youthful Marine officer. “He
said: ‘I can judge the man.’”

Yet neither Mr. Mattis, nor any other former Trump official, is likely to
be able to prod Mr. Bush to publicly state his opposition. Freddy Ford, a
spokesman for Mr. Bush, said the former president would stay out of the
election and speak only on policy issues, as he did this week in stating
that the country must “examine our tragic failures” on race.

Notably, though, while the former president, whom Mr. Trump has never
reached out to while in office, may be withdrawn from presidential
politics, he is not totally disengaged from campaigns: he has raised money
for a handful of Republican senators, including John Cornyn of Texas,
Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

Mr. Romney this week lavished praise on Mr. Mattis but stayed mum about
who he would actually support for president.

As for Mrs. McCain, she has sought to stay out of partisan politics.
“Picking a fight with Trump is no fun,” said Rick Davis, a longtime McCain
adviser who’s close to the family.

But, Mr. Davis, alluding to Mr. Biden, said: “You know where her heart is.
Whether she articulates that or not is still an open question.”
Justin Tyme
2021-01-05 20:53:32 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Vote for Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren’t on the Bandwagon
Former President George W. Bush and Senator Mitt Romney won’t support Mr.
Trump’s re-election. Colin Powell will vote for Joe Biden, and other
G.O.P. officials may do the same.
By Jonathan Martin
Published June 6, 2020
Updated June 7, 2020, 2:00 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — It was one thing in 2016 for top Republicans to take a stand
against Donald J. Trump for president: He wasn’t likely to win anyway, the
thinking went, and there was no ongoing conservative governing agenda that
would be endangered.
The 2020 campaign is different: Opposing the sitting president of your own
party means putting policy priorities at risk, in this case appointing
conservative judges, sustaining business-friendly regulations and cutting
taxes — as well as incurring the volcanic wrath of Mr. Trump.
But, far sooner than they expected, growing numbers of prominent
Republicans are debating how far to go in revealing that they won’t back
his re-election — or might even vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the
presumptive Democratic nominee. They’re feeling a fresh urgency because of
Mr. Trump’s incendiary response to the protests of police brutality, atop
his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people who spoke
on the condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.
Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr.
Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote, say people familiar with
their thinking. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah won’t back Mr. Trump and is
deliberating whether to again write in his wife, Ann, or cast another
ballot this November. Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is
almost certain to support Mr. Biden but is unsure how public to be about
it because one of her sons is eying a run for office.
And former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Sunday that he
will vote for Mr. Biden, telling CNN that Mr. Trump “lies about things”
and Republicans in Congress won’t hold him accountable. Mr. Powell, who
voted for former President Barack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, said
he was close to Mr. Biden politically and socially and had worked with him
for more than 35 years. “I’ll be voting for him,” he said.
ImageFormer Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would vote for Joe
Biden, telling CNN that President Trump “lies about things.”
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would vote for Joe Biden,
telling CNN that President Trump “lies about things.”Credit...Drew
Angerer/Getty Images
None of these Republicans voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, but the reproach of
big Republican names carries a different weight when an incumbent
president and his shared agenda with Senate leaders are on the line.
Former Republican leaders like the former Speakers Paul D. Ryan and John
A. Boehner won’t say how they will vote, and some Republicans who are
already disinclined to support Mr. Trump are weighing whether to go beyond
backing a third-party contender to openly endorse Mr. Biden. Retired
military leaders, who have guarded their private political views, are
increasingly voicing their unease about the president’s leadership but are
unsure whether to embrace his opponent.
Mr. Biden himself, while eager to win support across party lines, intends
to roll out his “Republicans for Biden” coalition later in the campaign,
after fully consolidating his own party, according to Democrats familiar
with the campaign’s planning.
Editors’ Picks
The Top Doctor Who Aced the Coronavirus Test
The Agonizing Question: Is New York City Worth It Anymore?
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The public expressions of opposition to Mr. Trump from parts of the
Republican and military establishment have accelerated in recent days over
his repeated calls for protesters to be physically constrained,
“dominated,” as he put it, and his administration’s order to forcefully
clear the streets outside the White House so he could walk out for a photo
opportunity. His conduct has convinced some leaders that they can no
longer remain silent.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s blistering criticism of Mr. Trump
and the admission this week by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that she
is “struggling” with whether to vote for the sitting president of her own
party have intensified the soul-searching taking place, forcing a number
of officials to reckon with an act that they have long avoided: stating
out loud that Mr. Trump is unfit for office.
“This fall, it’s time for new leadership in this country — Republican,
Democrat or independent,” said William H. McRaven, the retired Navy
admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “President
Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good
commander in chief.”
Admiral McRaven, in an interview on the 76th anniversary of D-Day, noted
that those wartime leaders inspired Americans with “their words, their
actions and their humanity.”
In contrast, he said, Mr. Trump has failed his leadership test. “As we
have struggled with the Covid pandemic and horrible acts of racism and
injustice, this president has shown none of those qualities,” Admiral
McRaven said. “The country needs to move forward without him at the helm.”
Image
Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is likely to support
former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November.
Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is likely to support
former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November.Credit...Francisco
Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune, via Associated Press
Mr. Trump won election in 2016, of course, in spite of a parade of
Republicans and retired military officers who refused to support him. Far
more current G.O.P. elected officials are publicly backing Mr. Trump than
did four years ago. Among his unwavering supporters are Republican leaders
like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and past foes like
Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. And polls today indicate that rank-
and-file Republicans are squarely behind the president, although that is
in part because some Republicans who can’t abide Mr. Trump now align with
independents.
Yet it would be a sharp rebuke for former Trump administration officials
and well-known Republicans to buck their own standard-bearer.
Individually, they may not sway many votes — particularly at a time of
deep polarization. But their collective opposition, or even resounding
silence, could offer something of a permission structure for Trump-
skeptical Republicans to put party loyalty aside.
John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff and a retired Marine
general, would not say whom he would vote for, though he did allow that he
wished “we had some additional choices.”
Dan Coats, the former Republican senator who was Mr. Trump’s director of
national intelligence, “has been concerned about the negative effect on
the intelligence community by the turmoil of turnover at D.N.I.,” said
Kevin Kellems, a longtime adviser to Mr. Coats, adding that the former spy
chief is “encouraged by the confirmation of a new D.N.I. and career
intelligence deputy.”
As for whom Mr. Coats will vote for, “ultimately he remains a loyal
Republican but he believes the American people will decide on Nov. 3,”
said Mr. Kellems.
Joseph Maguire, a retired three-star admiral who served as Mr. Trump’s
acting intelligence chief, invoked the comments of Mr. Mattis and two
former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also criticized the
president this week.
“Jim Mattis, Mike Mullen and Marty Dempsey are all good friends, and I
respect them tremendously,” Admiral Maguire said in an interview. “I am in
alignment with their views.”
Asked who Mr. Boehner and Mr. Ryan will vote for in November,
representatives to both former House speakers declined to say.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asked if she would support Mr.
Trump for re-election, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that she didn’t
want to discuss politics right now, adding that her focus was on
addressing divisions in the country. She did not support Mr. Trump in
2016.
A number of current G.O.P. lawmakers and governors are also wrestling with
what to do — and what to say — as they balance conscience, ideology and
the risk to themselves and their constituents that comes from confronting
Mr. Trump.
Representative Francis Rooney of Florida has donated millions of dollars
to Republican candidates over the years, served as President Bush’s
ambassador to the Vatican and hasn’t voted for a Democrat in decades.
But Mr. Rooney said he is considering supporting Mr. Biden in part because
Mr. Trump is “driving us all crazy” and his handling of the virus led to a
death toll that “didn’t have to happen.”
Mr. Rooney is not seeking re-election, so he is not worried about future
electoral prospects. He said his hesitation with Mr. Biden owes to
uncertainty about whether left-wing Democrats would pull the former vice
president out of the political mainstream.
“What he’s always been is not scary,” said Mr. Rooney. “A lot of people
that voted for President Trump did so because they did not like Hillary
Clinton. I don’t see that happening with Joe Biden — how can you not like
Joe Biden?”
Mr. Rooney has been gently lobbied by one of Mr. Biden’s closest allies in
Congress: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who has effectively become the
former vice president’s emissary to current and recent Republican
lawmakers.
Mr. Coons said a number of G.O.P. senators, regardless of their public
comments, would ultimately not pull the lever for Mr. Trump in the privacy
of the ballot booth.
“I’ve had five conversations with senators who tell me they are really
struggling with supporting Trump,” said Mr. Coons, who declined to give
names.
Image
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she is “struggling” with the
decision of whether to vote for Mr. Trump.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she is “struggling” with the
decision of whether to vote for Mr. Trump.Credit...Al Drago for The New
York Times
Indeed, one Republican senator, who is publicly supporting the president,
said in an interview that he might prefer a Biden victory if the G.O.P.
managed to preserve its Senate majority. This lawmaker, like a number of
Republicans, is uneasy with Mr. Trump’s behavior and weary from the near-
weekly barrage of questions from reporters about the latest presidential
eruption.
As former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a moderate Democrat who
“It’s easier to count the ones who are definitely voting for Trump.”
Among the anti-Trump Republicans now out of office, recent events have
only vindicated their sense of alarm — and nudged them toward embracing
Mr. Biden.
“For people who were long waiting for that pivot, the last week has shown,
if anything, he’s dug in and not even making an attempt to appeal to
anybody outside his hard base,” said former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona,
who is close to Mr. Coons and in conversation with him about how and when
to formalize his support for Mr. Biden.
Former Representative Mark Sanford, who briefly challenged the president
in the Republican primary, said last year that he’d support the president
if he won the nomination.
But now Mr. Sanford believes Mr. Trump is threatening the stability of the
country. “He’s treading on very thin ice,” said Mr. Sanford, also a former
South Carolina governor, who is engaged in frequent conversations with
other Republicans about how to proceed.
There are already a number of Republican groups dedicated to defeating Mr.
Trump, and former lawmakers, strategists and policymakers who are plotting
what and when to say about the election.
“There is an organized effort about how to make our voices useful in
2020,” said Kori Schake, who worked at the National Security Council and
State Department under President George W. Bush and was an editor with Mr.
Mattis of the book “Warriors and Citizens,” about the civil-military
divide.
She said a number of officials who worked for both Presidents Bush and
Reagan, many of whom signed a 2016 letter opposing Mr. Trump, were on Zoom
chats and group emails trying to determine how to express their opposition
and whether it should come with an endorsement for Mr. Biden. The effort
to gather more anti-Trump Republicans to speak out is being spearheaded by
John B. Bellinger III, who also worked in George W. Bush’s N.S.C. and
State Department.
Some Republicans believe Mr. Mattis made their task easier.
“It laid the cornerstone of fighting back against Trump,” said former
Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who noted that as Navy secretary he
once served as “boss” to Mr. Mattis, then a youthful Marine officer. “He
said: ‘I can judge the man.’”
Yet neither Mr. Mattis, nor any other former Trump official, is likely to
be able to prod Mr. Bush to publicly state his opposition. Freddy Ford, a
spokesman for Mr. Bush, said the former president would stay out of the
election and speak only on policy issues, as he did this week in stating
that the country must “examine our tragic failures” on race.
Notably, though, while the former president, whom Mr. Trump has never
reached out to while in office, may be withdrawn from presidential
politics, he is not totally disengaged from campaigns: he has raised money
for a handful of Republican senators, including John Cornyn of Texas,
Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Mr. Romney this week lavished praise on Mr. Mattis but stayed mum about
who he would actually support for president.
As for Mrs. McCain, she has sought to stay out of partisan politics.
“Picking a fight with Trump is no fun,” said Rick Davis, a longtime McCain
adviser who’s close to the family.
But, Mr. Davis, alluding to Mr. Biden, said: “You know where her heart is.
Whether she articulates that or not is still an open question.”
That's because they are deep state and they don't want to go to jail. Justin
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