Posts tagged with "Impeachment inquiry"

Republican group pummels Trump with derogatory ad: ‘What Is He Afraid Of?’

December 2, 2019

Republicans for the Rule of Law—a nonprofit group of lifelong conservative GOP members who are “dedicated to defending the institutions of our republic”— has called out President Donald Trump with a critical TV ad.

In its new 32-second clip released online November 27, The Huffington Post reports, the group questions the White House’s refusal to allow key witnesses in the Ukraine scandal to testify before Congress in the impeachment inquiry that targets Trump.

“These witnesses must testify,” the voiceover says, referring to a lineup of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, along with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

“What is Trump afraid of?” the narrator adds.

The ad is slated to air on Fox News’ flagship morning show “Fox & Friends” for several days after Thanksgiving.

Republicans for the Rule of Law Executive Director Sarah Longwell said in a statement that the House impeachment hearings “have presented startling evidence” that Trump “abused his power, strong-arming a foreign government to interfere on his behalf in the upcoming election, and damaging national security in the process.”

“The president denies the allegations, but won’t let key administration officials― including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney―testify to Congress,” Longwell added. “If the president did nothing wrong, what does he have to hide? If they tell the truth, what is he afraid of? Most importantly, will Republicans in Congress allow the president to simply ignore their constitutionally mandated oversight role?”

According to the HuffPost, the group last week launched a campaign that aimed to educate GOP voters―who polls have shown remain steadfast in their support of Trump―on the facts of the Ukraine scandal that prompted the impeachment inquiry.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Write a note in Trump’s distinctive handwriting with this font generator

November 27, 2019

In reaction to Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s damning public testimony on November 20 in the impeachment inquiry—and amid growing evidence of a quid pro quo—President Donald Trump talked to a press gaggle outside the White House the next day. During that press conference, the president referred frequently to a list of talking points that he had handwritten in advance on Air Force One letterhead, according to a report by Lifehacker.

“I WANT NOTHING I WANT NOTHING,” one page read. “I WANT NO QUID PRO. TELL ZELENSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING. THIS IS THE FINAL WORD FROM THE PRES OF THE U.S.”

Now that list has gone viral—not only because of the content, but mainly because of the all-caps list written in bold Sharpie, in Trump’s distinctive style.

In case you want to write like Trump (and who doesn’t?)—or send a nice and unforgettable card for the holidays—here’s a tiny hack: You can now write your own note in Trump’s style, using this website.

Lifehacker advises: Just write your note, click “Download the poster,” and you will have your very own Trump-memo, signed as Trump did with his.

Jones Knowles Ritchie, the global design agency that created the website, also produced a download function, so you can download Trump’s handwriting as a font and use it whenever you like—in emails, in Word documents … the options are endless.

Research contact: @lifehacker

Sondland: ‘Everyone was in the loop’ and ‘followed Trump’s orders,’ pressed for a ‘quid pro quo’

November 21, 2019

The team on the ground in Ukraine was following President Donald Trump’s orders, Ambassador Gordon Sondland said in no uncertain terms in his dramatic testimony in the impeachment inquiry on November 20. And those orders included working with the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to extract a quid pro quo from the new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Specifically, the United States would provide a meeting with Trump in the White House and close to $400 million in military aid in exchange for a public announcement by Zelensky on CNN that Ukraine would investigate the 2016 election, the energy company Burisma; and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, along with his son Hunter.

Indeed, Ambassador Gordon said in his opening statement, obtained by The New York Times, that the first thing his interlocutors should know is that, “Secretary [of Energy Rick] Perry, Ambassador [Kurt] Volker, and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.”

“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani, “Sondland noted. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that, if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders.”

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ ” Sondland said in sworn testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the European Union—described by The Washington Post as “a longtime Republican donor who gave $1 million to the presidential inaugural committee and was confirmed by the Republican Senate”—gave the House Intelligence Committee an account of the president’s culpability in leveraging the power of the Oval Office for his own political gain.

According to the Post’s report, Democrats said Sondland’s testimony pulled back the curtain on the extent of the Ukraine pressure campaign—implicating not just the president but Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

“We now can see the veneer has been torn away,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters during a break in the testimony, arguing that the situation as described by Sondland “goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”

“I think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry,” he added.

Sondland said “there was no secret” about the work within a much larger circle of Trump’s Cabinet. Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said

Digging a deeper hole for the secretary of state to climb out of, Sondland said that Pompeo was involved at several points, including the key point of withholding security assistance—and that he “was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing.”

The ambassador said that he was never privy to the White House meetings where the aid was frozen—but that he became convinced it was being held up as leverage and thought that was inappropriate, the Post said.

“In the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, I came to the conclusion that the aid, like the White House visit, was jeopardized,” Sondland said. “My belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention” to launch the investigations Trump wanted, “then the hold on military aid would be lifted.”

Following the testimony, in brief remarks to reporters outside the White House, Trump distanced himself from Sondland, saying, “This is not a man I know well.” He noted that Sondland testified that the president had denied to him there was a quid pro quo.

“That means it’s all over,” Trump said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Repudiate or remove? 70% of Americans say Trump’s demands to Ukraine were ‘wrong’

November 19, 2019

A majority of Americans think they have Donald Trump’s number—and that’s not good news for the president. An overwhelming 70% of Americans believe that he was “wrong” to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, an ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted November 16-17 has found.

A slim majority of Americans,(51%) believe Trump’s actions were both wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office. But only 21% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely.

In addition to the 51%, another 19% think that Trump’s actions were wrong, but that, at worst, he should either be impeached by the House and not removed from office. The survey also finds that 25% of Americans think that Trump did nothing wrong.

Still,about one-third (32%) say they made up their minds about impeaching the president before the news broke about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The poll asked Americans how closely they were following the first week of public impeachment hearings in the House, their assessments of Trump’s actions; and whether those actions warranted impeachment and removal from office. The survey also asked Americans when they decided on the matter.

ABC News notes that House Democrats are investigating whether the administration withheld nearly $400 million in aid and promised a White House summit between the two leaders in exchange for an investigation into the president’s political rival, Biden, and his son, for his place on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Overall, the poll found, 58% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely or somewhat closely (21% and 37%, respectively); and 21% say they made up their minds about impeachment after the first week of public hearings. Among those who said this, 60% think that Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Of those following the House impeachment hearings very closely, 67% think Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office.

Among Democrats, 41% say they made up their minds about impeachment before Trump’s actions related to Ukraine became public. And 41% of those who support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office say they made up their minds before the matter came to light.

The unfolding political drama between congressional Democrats and the White House reveals a polarized populace, with Democrats more united in their belief that Trump should be impeached and convicted than Republicans are in their belief that the president has committed no wrongdoing: 85% and 65%, respectively.

Research contact: @ABCNews

After spiteful tweet during Yovanovitch testimony, Schiff accuses Trump of ‘witness intimidation’

November 18, 2019

In a shocking display of animus during the testimony of ousted Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on Friday morning, November 15, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted an accusation, with no supporting evidence, that she had caused havoc during her diplomatic tours prior to her most recent assignment.

Even as Yovanovitch bore witness as part of the impeachment inquiry, the president tweeted: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him.”

It was an attack that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff characterized as “witness intimidation”—and which the former ambassador clapped back on: When asked to comment on the tweet, Yovanovitch said, “I actually think that where I’ve served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”

She described herself as a dedicated public servant during her opening statement, asserting, “I come before you as an American citizen, who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love. Like my colleagues, I entered the Foreign Service understanding that my job was to implement the foreign policy interests of this nation, as defined by the President and Congress, and to do so regardless of which person or party was in power. I had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals.

Then, as The Wall Street Journal reported, she went on to portray herself as the victim of a plot by corrupt Ukrainians in partnership with Americans to oust her because of her advocacy for rule of law issues in her role as ambassador.

“Individuals, who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do our mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting ambassador, using unofficial back channels,” she said.

“Not all Ukrainians embraced our anticorruption work. Thus, perhaps, it was not surprising, that when our anticorruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me,” she said.

“What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador,” Yovanovitch said.

“How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” she asked. “Which country’s interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail? Such conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin.”

“Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.”

She said that “with respect to Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani,”—the president’s personal attorney, who had traveled to the Ukraine to obtain “oppo research” on the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter—“I have had only minimal contacts with him …. None related to the events at issue. I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me.”

In describing her departure, the former ambassador said “I was … abruptly told … in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane.’”

She attributed the reason for her ejection to “Individuals , who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do the mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting Ambassador, using unofficial back channels. As various witnesses have recounted, they shared baseless allegations with the President and convinced him to remove his Ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect.”

And despite those false allegations, Yovanovitch made it clear that she had gotten no support from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noting, “It is the responsibility of the Department’s leaders to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution the most effective diplomatic force in the world. And Congress has a responsibility to reinvest in our diplomacy. That’s an investment in our national security, an investment in our future.

“These events, “the former ambassador told the House Intelligence panel, “should concern everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad, the personal representatives of the President. They should always act and speak with full authority to advocate for U.S. policies. If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States. This is especially important now, when the international landscape is more complicated and more competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

“Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American Ambassador who does not give them what they want. After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the Ambassador represents the President’s views? And what U.S. Ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they cannot count on our government to support them as they implement stated U.S. policy and defend U.S. interests?”

Research contact: @WSJ

Taylor: Trump cared more about politically motivated Biden ‘investigations’ than ally Ukraine

November 14, 2019

Ambassador William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, on Wednesday said that America’s Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland told a member of his staff in July that President Donald Trump cared more about a politically motivated investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden than he did about longtime ally Ukraine.

According to a report by The Hill, Taylor—who delivered public testimony under oath at the first televised impeachment inquiry—talked to Sondland on July 26.

That conversation came just one day after a now-infamous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25—during which the U.S. president allegedly tried to coerce the new leader into announcing that he would investigate the Biden family by withholding $400 million in congressionally approved military aid to the small nation.

 Taylor said his staffer, whom he did not name, overheard a phone call between Sondland and Trump during which the president asked the EU ambassador about the investigations.

“Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations,’” Taylor said, according to The Hill’s report.

“Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which [Trump attorney Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for,” he continued.

Taylor said that Sondland made the comments following a meeting with a top Zelensky aide, Andriy Yermak, in Ukraine. Taylor said he was not aware of the details when he testified behind closed doors in connection with the impeachment inquiry last month and that he was including it for “completeness.”

“I reported this information through counsel to the State Department’s Legal Adviser, as well as to counsel for both the Majority and the Minority on the Committee. It is my understanding that the Committee is following up on this matter,” Taylor said.

Sondland, who testified privately before the committees before Taylor, has also corrected his remarks to say that he told Yermak during a meeting on September 1 that aid to Ukraine would not likely flow until Kyiv made a public statement about pursuing investigations related to 2016 election interference and Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm with ties to Hunter Biden.

Sondland has sought to distinguish the issue of Burisma from the Bidens, though other witnesses have connected the two. Trump specifically named Biden on the call with Zelensky in July.

As The Hill noted, the Trump Administration eventually released military aid to Ukraine, and Kyiv did not make a public statement about pursuing investigations sought by Giuliani and Trump.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong in his interactions with Zelensky, describing the July 25 phone call as “perfect” and accusing Democrats of a partisan effort to damage him politically. Trump has said he wanted Ukraine to investigate “corruption” and that his comments had nothing to do with politics.

Research contact: @thehill

John Oliver: Lindsey Graham’s defense of Trump is he’s a ‘dumb baby’

November 12, 2019

This has not been a good week so far for “Baby Trump”—either the balloon or the POTUS, The Daily Beast reported on November 11.

On November 9, as the balloon version of Baby Trump floated over throngs of college football fans in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it was attacked, slashed, and brought to ground. (The perpetrator has since been arrested.)

Then, comedian John Oliver opened his Sunday night, November 10, broadcast of HBO’s Last Week Tonight by taking aim at South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham’s latest defense of President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry—which, The Daily Beast said, Oliver likened to Graham calling Trump an “idiot.”

Describing the Ukraine scandal at the heart of impeachment as “Stupid Watergate II: The Scandal That’s Like Getting a Rubber Chicken Stuck in Your Ass,” Oliver first joked about the president seemingly discovering who’s really to blame for everything by playing a clip of Trump during a recent White House lawn press gaggle.

“It’s called the swamp,” Trump yelled. “And you know what happened? And you know what I did? A big favor. I caught the swamp. I caught them all. Let’s see what happens. Nobody else could have done that but me.”

Laughing, the HBO host said this could actually be “Donald Trump at his Donald Trump-iest” as it showed the president shouting something nonsensical before bragging about how great he was at doing it.

“Nothing there made sense,” Oliver declared. “And yet you just know in two days his website will be sold out of ‘I Caught the Swamp’ hats ’cause that’s the f**king world we live in right now.”

“But that wasn’t even the most desperate defense of the president employed this week,” he added. “That honor must go to Lindsey Graham—a man whose very face looks like a nana who just found out what ‘throuples’ are.”

Graham, as Oliver noted, recently insisted that the president was “incapable of forming a quid pro quo” when it came to dangling military aid in return for Ukraine investigating his political rivals, claiming it was because the Trump policy toward Ukraine was “incoherent.”

“So wait, to be clear here, Graham’s defense has gone from ‘there was no quid pro quo’ to ‘Trump is too dumb to do one?’” Oliver wondered aloud.

The comedian quipped that the South Carolina senator is essentially saying “the president’s an idiot” before explaining why Graham’s argument was “terrifying.”

“He’s like a baby, stumbling around aimlessly in a diaper full of his own boom-boom,” Oliver concluded. “And that is why he must stay in office and retain access to the nuclear codes!”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

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