Politics

Ominous video at #AMPFest19 shows Trump ‘offing’ reporters in ‘Church of Fake News’

October 15, 2019

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Donald Trump shooting, stabbing, and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents inside a Church of Fake News was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort, the Trump National Doral, last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

According to the Times’ report on October 13, the video combines a series of memes and shows the president’s head superimposed on a mass shooter’s body. The president in the video then goes on to slaughter his political and media critics.

The conference was organized by American Priority, a pro-Trump group, and it was attended by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was speaking at the event, and the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.—neither of whom would admit to seeing the video, which supposed “was shown in a side room at #AMPFest 19,” the organization said.

In its official statement, AMP describes the video as “unauthorized” and says that it was never “approved, seen, or sanction by the #AMPFest 19 organizers,” who were “not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the NYT.”

The extremely violent video can be seen in this embedded tweet.

After news of the video broke, many politicians took to Twitter to condemn the video, including Democratic presidential candidate @Beto O’Rourke, who said: “ At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church. Last year, a Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN—and a shooter entered a church yesterday. This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) added his own outrage, tweeting: “Every mother and father in America should watch video. Play it all the way to end. Know that this is the re-election message of your President. And then ask yourself – how you sit your kids down and tell them you want this person to lead us. “

On Monday morning, the White House Press Secretary (@PressSec) Stephanie Grisham weighed in, trying to distance the president from the violent clip, which contained a Trump campaign logo. She tweeted, “Re: the video played over the weekend: The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Democrats deploy new impeachment plan of attack after White House refuses to cooperate

October 11, 2019

House Democrats are now saying that they don’t need any help from the White House to make a case for impeachment, NBC News reports.

To circumvent Executive Branch efforts to impede and obstruct the House impeachment inquiry, Democrats have launched a fresh offensive: They intend to inundate the White House with subpoenas; as well as requests for interviews with people who no longer work in the administration.

Democrats issued additional subpoenas for testimony and relevant documents on October 10 to Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas —two associates of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, both of whom are alleged to have helped Giuliani dig for dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine. They were requested to appear for depositions this Thursday and Friday before Congress, but before they could appear on Capitol Hill, they were arrested Wednesday night on charges tied to campaign finance violations, NBC News says.

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) formally announced the impeachment inquiry last month, Democrats have so far issued eight subpoenas—including those to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Office of Management and Budget Acting Chief Russell Vought, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland In addition, they have requested documents from Vice President Mike Pence.

However, few, if any, of the current administration leaders are expected to respond to the Democrat’s subpoenas and requests. Just this week, Ambassador Sondland declined to testify, on orders from the State Department and President Donald Trump.

Therefore, the Democrats are targeting former officials,  who are now private citizens, and would not fall under the White House ‘s claims of executive privilege. Kurt Volker, who recently resigned as U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, testified before Congress last week, several days after he left the administration.

On Monday, Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill, volunteered to meet in a closed-door session with several congressional committees. A letter addressed to Hill, obtained by NBC, requested that she turn over several documents that date back to January 2017.

Congress returns next week from a two-week recess and Democrats are expected to speed up their investigation that could lead them filing articles of impeachment against the president. Two sources told NBC News that Pelosi will hold another caucus-wide conference call on Friday afternoon, so rank and file members can receive an update about the impeachment inquiry.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Graham to gather signatures for letter to Pelosi saying GOP won’t impeach Trump over Ukraine call

October 10, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who has been playing the role of golf partner and crony-in-chief to President Donald Trump—on Wednesday said that he is sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to warn her that Senate Republicans won’t impeach the POTUS over his call with Ukraine, The Hill reported.

In an appearance on the Fox News morning show, Fox & Friends, Graham said that he would ask other Senate Republicans to sign the letter—claiming that GOP lawmakers “do not believe the transcript of the phone call between the president and the Ukraine is an impeachable offense.”

“They’re about to destroy the nation for no good reason,” Graham said, according to The Hill. “And I want Nancy Pelosi to know that Republican senators are not going to impeach this president based on this transcript, so she can stop now before she destroys the country.”

House Democrats are in the early stages of an impeachment inquiry into how and why Trump asked the Ukrainian government to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as well as with Attorney General Bill Barr, to provide dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden—while concurrently withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Kiev to launch such a probe.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that; so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump told Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky during the July 25 call.

The White House ramped up the fight over the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, sending a letter to Pelosi and the House committee chairs overseeing the investigation saying that it would refuse to cooperate further with the probe, The Hill said.

In the letter, the White House argued Democrats were pursuing a “constitutionally invalid” investigation of a duly elected president.

Graham, who is one of Trump’s most vocal allies on Capitol Hill, blasted House Democrats on Wednesday, saying they couldn’t “care less about fairness.”

Research contact: @thehill

Invisible man: House Dems consider extraordinary steps to conceal whistleblower’s identity from GOP

October 9, 2019

House Democrats are weighing extraordinary steps to secure testimony from the whistleblower whose complaint prompted their impeachment inquiry—considering masking his identity to prevent President Donald Trump’s congressional allies from exposing him, according to three officials familiar with the deliberations, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

As the GOP continues its political posturing and plotting, as well as obstruction of witness testimony, Democrats deem it imperative to have the whistleblower testify from a remote location; and to conceal his appearance and voice, these officials told the DC-based news outlet. Two other possibilities include having the whistleblower sit behind a screen or partition or conducting audio-only testimony.

“Schiff does not want to burn his identity,” a senior congressional official told the newspaper.

“There are lots of different protocols and procedures we’re looking into to find out what works and doesn’t work to protect the identity of the whistleblower,” a person familiar with the talks told the news outlet. “That is paramount.”

The whistleblower’s complaint centered on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressed the new leader eight times to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee was told that the testimony of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had been blocked b y the State Department. The whistleblower said that Sondland met with Zelensky to give “advice” about how to “navigate” Trump’s demands, working behind the scenes to carry out the president’s wishes in a country that’s not a member of the European Union.

In text messages provided to Congress, Sondland insisted that Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was not a quid pro quo—as diplomat William B. “Bill” Taylor had said he feared.

Trump told Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, to hold back the military aid for Ukraine shortly before his July call. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a “quid pro quo” between the military assistance and the request to investigate the Bidens.

At the White House on Monday, Trump lashed out at Democrats over their impeachment inquiry.

“You can’t impeach a president for doing a great job. . . . This is a scam,” he said at an event on trade with Japan.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Weekend curveball: New whistleblower(s)

October 8, 2019

President Donald Trump got bushwacked again last weekend—this time, as a “new whistleblower,” came forward, also being represented by Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, the lawyers for the original whistleblower, according to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pamela Brown and Zachary Cohen.

The new witness is said to have   first-hand knowledge that supports the claims of the initial whistleblower, and to have been on the line during the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

If this is the case, it would , it totally undermine the main defense that has been used to date by Republicans—that all information was secondhand in the original whistleblower complaint.

CNN reports that the new whistleblower works in the intelligence community and that he or she already has spoken to the intelligence community’s inspector general.

The individual has not filed another complaint, but the lawyers argue anyone who speaks to the intelligence community watchdog is considered to have made a protected disclosure, and is a whistleblower under law.

According to the cable news outlet, Zaid has acknowledged a second whistleblower and his partner, Andrew Bakaj, described “multiple” whistleblowers in a tweet Sunday, but will not specify if that is more than the two we now know.

Bakaj: “I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the intelligence community inspector general. No further comment at this time.”

Research contact: @CNN

FEC chair states unconditionally that accepting ‘oppo research’ from a foreign national is illegal

October 7, 2019

We told him so: Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chair Ellen Weintraub on October 4 stated unconditionally that accepting any kind of “opposition research” from a foreign national or government is illegal under U.S. elections law.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Weintraub again refuted President Donald Trump’s position that there is nothing wrong with listening to foreign intelligence about his 2020 political opponents.

As far back as June 16, in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, the president reacted to a question about whether he would accept information from foreigners—such as China or Russia—for his reelection campaign, or choose to hand it over to the FBI, by saying, “I think maybe you do both.”

He added at the time, “I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent.’—oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

And this week, he called on China publicly to provide that information.

“The law is pretty clear,” Weintraub said to co-host Willie Geist. “It is absolutely illegal for anyone to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with any election in the United States.”

“I don’t want to comment on the specifics,” Weinstein added of Trump’s call for Biden to be investigated by foreign governments, including Ukraine, the UK, and China. “I’m just here to explain the law. That’s part of my job, and I think this is a moment in America where it’s really important that the American people understand what the law is.”

According to a report by The Hill, the FEC chief has weighed in on social media in the past on statements made by Trump, including earlier this year when Trump talked to ABC.

“Is this thing on?” Weintraub tweeted at the time.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump’s impeachment tantrums disengage key 2020 supporters

October 4, 2019

Women across the nation are viewing President Donald Trump’s impeachment-incited tirades with consternation and concern, Politico reports. And they do not represent the only key voting bloc that has backed off since the whistleblower report was released to Congress in late September.

Indeed, nearly a half-dozen polls conducted since September 24—when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced the official launch of an impeachment inquiry—have found female voters rallying behind her call to action; intensifying concerns among White House allies that the white women who helped carry Trump to victory in 2016 can no longer be counted on next November.

Specifically, 57% of registered female voters strongly or somewhat approved of impeachment in a CBS survey released September 30; and  62% of women in a Quinnipiac University survey released Monday said they thought “Trump believes he is above the law.”

The development comes, according to Politico, just as two more key demographics—Independent voters and college-educated whites—are exhibiting ever-larger “fault lines” in their resistance to impeachment.

What’s more, the allegations against Trump—that he leveraged U.S. aid to Ukraine, holding back funding unless the eastern European nation agreed to supply “opposition research” on Joe Biden, a Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 presidential election—also are changing the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

Should impeachment gain the support of an undeniable majority of likely voters, Republicans legislators who previously declined to distance themselves from the president could quickly change their calculus, the news outlet says—setting Trump on the same lonely course that led to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate-era resignation in August 1974.

“From my point of view as a Republican pollster, the president’s base has been solid so far,” Micah Roberts, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, which oversaw an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last week, told Politico during an interview. “But college-educated whites have electoral significance for us in the suburbs and can completely shift the dynamic and the conversation just by virtue of shifting the overall numbers.”

In some cases, that shift already has started: Fifty percent of college-educated whites in an NPR/Marist College survey said they approved of House Democrats’ decision to launch the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. That compares to a narrower margin of support for the move (45-43) in a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday.

“If you look at college-educated whites, those are probably some of the most engaged voters. They are a big and important chunk of the electorate and they have shifted the most resolutely toward impeachment so far,” Roberts said.

“I really don’t like where we are right now,” said one prominent Republican pollster.

To be sure, Politico says, some of the same polls include evidence suggesting impeachment could become a political risk for Democrats as they head into a heated election year. And the rapid-pace environment in which the impeachment process has already unfolded, combined with varying levels of understanding of the process itself, mean a lot of voters are still in “wait-and-see mode,” according to Roberts.

Finally, some polls have underscored mixed feelings among voters toward the former vice president, which would be a positive sign for the president. For example, 42% of voters in a Monmouth survey said Biden “probably exerted pressure on Ukrainian officials to avoid investigating” his son during his time in office; but only 26%t of voters in a Reuters/Ipsos poll said they believe Biden is attempting to conceal a potential scandal ahead of 2020.

With Elizabeth Warren already ahead by several percentage points in key primary and caucus areas, the opinions on Biden may, in the end, be moot.

Research contact: @politico

Times of London: Trump personally called Boris Johnson in effort to discredit Mueller report

October 3, 2019

Say what? Just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office last July, President Donald Trump telephoned his ‘mini-me” to ask for help in discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, The Times of London reported on October 2.

Trump is said to have called Johnson on July 26—two days after the prime minister assumed residency at 10 Downing Street—and to have asked the British PM for help in gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign’s links to Russia.

The Daily Beast noted on Wednesday the call was placed just one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in the phone call that sparked the impeachment proceedings against him.

Trump also contacted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help with an investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry. The Times  said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump’s call with Johnson to attend a meeting of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. Barr allegedly informed British officials that he suspected the source of the information that led to the Mueller investigation was British intelligence agencies.

Research contact: @thetimes

Graham will ask Australia, Italy, and UK to aid and abet AG Barr’s probe into Russia investigation

October 2, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) obviously is “drinking the Kool-Aid,” along with the president, the attorney general, and the secretary of state.

On October 1, The Hill reports, Graham laid out plans to send a letter asking other nations to cooperate with the Justice Department’s probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Graham, during an on-air interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday, knocked a report by The New York Times that alleged that President Donald Trump had asked the Australian government to assist Attorney General William Barr as part of the DOJ investigation.

“Barr should be talking to Australia. He should be talking to Italy. He should be talking to the U.K. to find out if their intelligence services worked with our intelligence services improperly to open up a counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign. If he’s not doing that he’s not doing his job,” Graham said according to The Hill. 

“So I’m going to write a letter to all three countries … asking them to cooperate with Barr,” he added. 

Graham’s Fox News interview comes after The New York Times reported that Trump urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr, according to two officials with knowledge of the call. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed that Trump had contacted foreign governments at Barr’s request.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has emerged as a Trump crony, blasted the Times piece, The Hill said—characterizing it as “the beginning of an effort to shut down Barr’s investigation.”

“This New York Times article is an effort to stop Barr. … What are they afraid of? This really bothers me a lot that the left is going to try to say there’s something wrong with Barr talking to Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom,” he added.

In addition to the Times story, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut, who is leading the DOJ’s inquiry, met with senior Italian officials.

Barr also has reportedly requested assistance from British intelligence officials in connection with the inquiry.

Research contact: @thehill

Ex-RNC chairman: ‘Trump is wetting his pants’

October 1, 2019

Former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman  (2009-2011) Michael Steele on Monday mocked the GOP’s response to a whistleblower complaint that led to the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, The Hill reported.

“On this particular day, the GOP decided on a new strategy to address the #WhistleblowerComplaint,” Steele tweeted, at 10:16 a.m. (ET), posting a gif of a woman trying to sweep away ocean waves.

Steele, who is now an analyst with MSNBC, as well as a columnist for the The Root, also commented on an interview conducted by Fox News with White House Advisor Stephen Miller—who said on air: “The president of the United States is the whistleblower, and this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a democratically elected government.”

To that, Steele tweeted, “What a load of crap. Yeah, Trump has been the whistleblower in his own Admin. Just stupid.”

Indeed, on Sunday morning, talking to host Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC, Steele said that President Trump’s constant tweets about the whistleblower showed that the leader of the free world was “wetting his pants a little bit. This has him nervous. There’s real concern here.

After the president tweeted at 6:53 p.m. (ET) on Sunday that he deserved to meet his accuser and claimed that “they”—meaning the media and the U.S. House of Representatives’ leadership—“represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Steele noted that “flashing tweets” from President Trump were “his way of trying to get control of something he’s losing his grip on.”

The whistleblower tweets from Trump also raised concern in other quarters—from the “Deep Throat” of this impeachment case. Indeed, Newsweek reported that Andrew Bakaj, the whistleblower’s lawyer, said, “The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way.

However, the Trump tirade continued. At 8:30 a.m. (ET), the president tweeted: #FakeWhistleblower.

Research contact: @thehill