Posts tagged with "MSNBC"

Parnas: Trump gave the orders on Ukraine; Giuliani, Pence, and Barr were ‘on the team’

January 17, 2020

The White House reeled as more damning evidence on the Ukraine plot emerged this week, even as the House voted to release its two articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Lev Parnas—the indicted associate of the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has been implicated in an alleged attempt to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC in an exclusive and explosive interview aired on January 15, “… Trump knew exactly what was going on.”

“He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials,” Parnas revealed.

“I mean, they have no reason to speak to me. Why would President Zelenskiy’s inner circle or Minister Avakov or all these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret that they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work,” Parnas said.

Zelenskiy was elected president in April, defeating incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Arsen Avakov is Ukraine’s interior minister, NBC News reported.

On Tuesday, the network said, House Democrats released records as part of the evidence that attorneys for Parnas turned over to House impeachment investigators, which show that Giuliani requested a private meeting with Zelenskiy, then the president-elect, with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”

The evidence appears to bolster Democrats’ argument that Giuliani was doing Trump’s bidding by trying to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

In response to Parnas’ interview, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday morning, “These allegations are being made by a man who is currently out on bail for federal crimes and is desperate to reduce his exposure to prison.”

“The facts haven’t changed — the president did nothing wrong and this impeachment, which was manufactured and carried out by the Democrats has been a sham from the start,” Grisham said.

In a statement to “The Rachel Maddow Show” while the program was airing, Giuliani denied that he told Ukrainian officials that Parnas spoke on behalf of Trump.

“Never,” Giuliani responded when asked whether Parnas was speaking for Trump.

Asked whether he believed Parnas was lying, Giuliani said, “All I can say is the truth.” Giuliani said of Parnas, “He’s a very sad situation.”

The president, himself, continued to stick to the same script, tweeting, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer just said, “The American people want a fair trial in the Senate.” True, but why didn’t Nervous Nancy and Corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff give us a fair trial in the House. It was the most lopsided & unfair basement hearing in the history of Congress!”

The impeachment articles against Trump center on an alleged campaign by Trump to pressure Zelenskiy to announce investigations into Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma in 2014 until he left last year.

“Yeah, it was all about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and also Rudy had a personal thing with the Manafort stuff. The black ledger,” Parnas told Maddow.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, is serving a 7½-year prison sentence for tax evasion and violating federal lobbying laws after having been charged

Parnas also told the MSNBC anchor that Vice President Mike Pence’s planned trip to attend Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May was canceled because the Ukrainians did not agree to the demand for an investigation of the Bidens. “Oh, I know 100% . It was 100%,” he said.

Asked whether Pence was aware of a “quid pro quo” around the visit, Parnas replied by quoting Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who said during the House impeachment inquiry: “Everybody was in the loop.”

Maddow said her show asked for comment from Pence and had not received a response.

Parnas said Attorney General William Barr was also likely aware of what was going on. Parnas said that he never spoke with Barr but that “I was involved with lots of conversations” that Giuliani and another person had with Barr in front of him.

“Mr. Barr had to have known everything. I mean, it’s impossible,” Parnas told Maddow. “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.”

Asked about Trump’s denial that he knows him, Parnas said, “He lied.”

Parnas said he wants to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. “I want to get the truth out,” he said, “because I feel it’s important for our country.”

The impeachment trial has been scheduled to start on January 21.

Research contact: @NBCNews

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

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

Moscow Mitch denies he is aiding Kremlin

August 1, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is angered by his new nickname, Moscow Mitch. On July 29, he strode to the Senate floor to defend his decision to block an election security bill and lashed out at critics who suggested he was helping Russia—complaining that they had engaged in “modern-day McCarthyism” to “smear” his record.

“The[y] … [don’t] let a little thing like reality get in their way,” said McConnell in a nearly 30-minute speech , according to a report by The Washington Post.

The Republican ringleader—who has blocked every bill passed by the Democratic House during this session—saw fit to say, “They [perceived] the perfect opportunity to distort and tell lies and fuel the flames of partisan hatred, and so they did.”

McConnell was responding primarily to an opinion column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, published July 26 under the headline, “Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.”

The majority leader used what is usually a speech on the Senate’s upcoming workweek to issue an angry denunciation of the column and some liberal commentators on MSNBC—accusing Senate Democrats of helping fan the liberal flames, the news outlet reported.

Last week, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about whether President Trump had tried to obstruct the inquiry. Casting Russian sabotage as a serious threat to the United States, Mueller warned that interference efforts were happening “as we sit” in the hearing rooms.

Hours after Mueller’s testimony, Democrats tried to get the Senate to vote on bipartisan election security legislation. Republicans objected. The next day, Democrats tried to get a vote on a bill that would have authorized hundreds of millions of dollars to update voting equipment. McConnell objected, The Washington Post noted.

Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor, defended Milbank’s column and criticized the GOP leader for invoking McCarthyism.  “Dana Milbank’s column was a legitimate exercise in commentary, making the argument that Senator McConnell’s blocking of elections-security legislation will harm the United States and work to Russia’s advantage. Of course it’s equally legitimate for Mr. McConnell to express a contrary view, but the Milbank argument has nothing to do with McCarthyism,” Hiatt said in a statement.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Harris hits hard at Biden at Miami debate; leaves frontrunner reeling

July 1, 2019

All of the Democratic hopefuls piled on their criticisms of the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, during the June 27 presidential debate, hosted by NBC News in Miami—but Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) bested her 19 rivals, a longtime Republican pollster told CNBC on Friday.

“She owned the stage, and Joe Biden should have known it was coming, ” Frank Luntz said in a Squawk Box interview the morning after the second round of debates..

Harris, a first-term U.S. senator and former California attorney general, bashed Biden for his comments at a June 25 New York City fundraiser, at which he reminisced about the atmosphere of political fellowship when he was a senator in the 1970s and 1980s—comparing it to today’s climate, in which political rivals are considered “the enemy.”

At that event, Biden cited his ability to work with such staunch segregationists as Senator James Eastland (D- Mississippi), who Biden said was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

“I was in a caucus with … Eastland,” Biden said and then, imitating a Southern accent, added that the senator “never called me ‘boy,’” a racial epithet used against black men (but not against Caucasians such as Biden).

At Thursday night’s debate, Harris left Biden chagrined and disconcerted after she pressed him on his July 25 comments—as well as on his record on school desegregation.

As the only black candidate on the stage, Harris recounted her own experience with integration and told Biden it was “hurtful” that he had worked with segregationist senators and led anti-busing efforts, NBC News reported.

At the end of her attack, she threw a curveball that knocked both Biden and the audience off their feet: ““There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said.

“She was very effective in that moment,” said one of the other candidates, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).

Biden called Harris’s blitzkrieg “a mischaracterization of my position across the board,” arguing, “I did not praise racists.”

As NBC news reported, the former vice president also reiterated the argument he has made in the past: that the federal government should not have been empowered to force schools to use busing as a means of desegregation..

By the end of the back and forth, the usually loquacious Biden cut himself off. “My time is up,” he said abruptly. “I’m sorry.”

 “That was a brilliant debate performance,” Luntz said to CNBC of Harris. “She’s the winner of both nights.”

So, would Harris be the best adversary to Trump in a future debate?

 “Don’t focus on the national numbers,” said Luntz, who refused to say which Democratic candidate would present the toughest challenge to Trump’s reelection campaign.At this point, it’s all about convincing primary voters in key early-voting states, the pollster said. “What really matters is IowaNew HampshireSouth Carolina. ”

In handicapping Harris’ primary chances, Luntz said, “South Carolina is 40% African American, the Democratic primary. She has now staked a clear claim to that vote. A number of them have been supporting Biden up to this point.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Pelosi meets with caucus to discuss strategies on Trump and impeachment

May 22, 2019

Following former White House counsel Don McGahn’s failure to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on May 21, Congressional Democratic leaders said they had worn out their patience—and that President Donald Trump had exhausted his options for stonewalling legislators.

Outraged over White House obstruction of their investigative efforts, House Democrats began urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to address the looming Constitutional crisis by launching impeachment proceedings immediately.

“We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American history,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. If a House inquiry “leads to other avenues, including impeachment,” the Maryland Democrat said, “so be it,” according to a report by Stars and Stripes.

Representatives Joaquin Castro of Texas and Diana DeGette of Colorado added their voices to the chorus. “It’s time for Congress to open an impeachment inquiry. There is political risk in doing so, but there’s a greater risk to our country in doing nothing,” Castro said on Twitter. “This is a fight for our democracy.”

Indeed, according to a report by The Hill, all told, at least 25 Democrats are now on record supporting the start of proceedings to oust Trump. That list includes several committee chairs and members of the Speaker’s own leadership team.

While Pelosi had hoped for a slower, more orderly process, she recognizes that starting an inquiry may be the only way for House Democrats to obtain the documentation and testimony on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and obstruction of justice by the administration.

In a sign that she may be reaching her tipping point, Pelosi invited some members of the House Democratic Caucus to a meeting on Wednesday, May 22, to assess strategy, Stars and Stripes reported.

“This isn’t about politics, it’s not about passion, it’s not about prejudice,” she said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “It’s about patriotism and it’s about the presentation of the facts, so that the American people can see why we’re going down a certain path.”

Research contact: @starsandstripes

He says, she says: First Democratic presidential debate set for Miami in June

May 13, 2019

The first Democratic presidential debate will take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami on the nights of June 26 and June 27, NBC News announced on May 10.

NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo—all three, divisions of NBCUniversal—are hosting the first official debate of the primary season, which will air live across all three networks from 9p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) each night. The debate will be broadcast simultaneously on all three networks, with real-time Spanish translations on Telemundo.

A maximum of 20 candidates will have the opportunity participate—ten on each night. To qualify, candidates must meet one of two thresholds: Either confirm at least 1% support in at least three major polls; or collect at least 65,000 online donations.

So far, at least 18 candidates have qualified, according to an unofficial analysis by NBC News.

If more than 20 qualify, which looks increasingly likely as the Democratic 2020 field keeps growing, then candidates who meet both qualifications will be given a preference, followed by those who have the highest polling average, then those with the most online donations.

According to NBC News, “The debate is expected to be a defining moment in Democrats’ nomination battle to take on President Donald Trump, and the crowded field of candidates view making the stage as crucial to their overall campaigns.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said, “ I am committed to running an open and transparent primary process.  To that end, we’ve spent months working with media partners to provide this unprecedented opportunity for candidates and voters to get to know each other. Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grassroots, we also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before.”

A July debate will be broadcast on CNN, CNN International, and CNN en Español in prime time on back-to-back weeknights if more than one night is needed. An unauthenticated live stream of the debate also will  be available for all users on CNN’s website, mobile apps and connected TVs via CNNgo.

Information for those interested in attending the NBC debate will be announced at a later date. Moderators, format, and logistics of the first and second debates will be announced at a later date.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Swalwell: Congress is working to extend criminal statute of limitations for sitting presidents

March 20, 2019

Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) revealed during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on March 19 that House lawmakers are penning legislation to extend the statute of limitations for crimes committed by presidents—allowing them to be charged once their terms end, Politico reported.

With the Russia investigation expected to wrap up in the coming weeks, Swalwell told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mica Brzezinski that Congress is preparing for the prospect that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-awaited report will conclude that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

“I don’t think any person should be above the law,” Swalwell said, adding, “What concerns me is that right now the president may escape criminal liability because he could win a reelection and the statute of limitations could run” out.

Indeed, freezing the statute of limitations during a president’s term—a move that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) said he was considering last year—could allow for prosecution once a president leaves office.

When asked whether he is writing the proposed legislation, Swalwell said it is “in the works,” according to Politico.

“But I do believe there are indictments waiting for this president,” said Swalwell, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

The statute of limitations in most federal cases is five years, a deadline that could play a role, Politico said, in any case involving Trump.

Swalwell — who is mulling a 2020 presidential run — said he believes circumstantial evidence of collusion exists and that he feels confident the public will see Mueller’s report once the probe is complete.

Research contact: @politico

Travelers ask agents to book other aircraft after Boeing 737 MAX is grounded

March 14, 2019

Travel agents and websites have begun to respond to consumer concerns by rerouting passengers on other aircraft after the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes by nations worldwide—including China, Singapore, India, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union—Reuters reports (and finally, the USA).

Several news outlets, including MSNBC,  reported that the United States had not grounded its 737 MAX aircraft, following a call received by President Donald Trump from Boeing President Dennis Muilenburg, imploring him to let them fly. (Editor’s note: That was true until late afternoon on March 13, when the president bowed to pressure and grounded the Boeing 737 MAX planes in the United States.)

However, U.S. passengers have the same fears as their global counterparts: Two of the new Boeing aircraft have crashed within the past five months—both just moments after takeoff—including Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10 and Indonesian Lion Air Flight JT610 on October 28.

The pilots of both flights had reported a technical issue when the controls were switched to autopilot after departure. Indeed, according to flight data from the earlier Lion Air incident, the aircraft took a sudden downward turn after the autopilot was switched on and made a sharp nosedive into the sea.

Boeing, itself, has commented, “[We are] deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team. A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

Among the U.S. carriers that operate the Boeing 737 MAX are Southwest (with 34 of the planes), American Airlines (24), and United (14).

But, whether or not they are ticketing and flying, U.S. travelers do not want to board the aircraft until authorities worldwide have said it is good to go. Therefore, travel agents and websites are moving fast, Reuters says.

Kayak.com, part of the Booking.com stable, was the first big travel search website to say it would modify search filters to allow customers to exclude particular types of planes from queries, Reuters notes.

“We’ve recently received feedback to make Kayak’s filters more granular in order to exclude particular aircraft models from search queries,” a spokesperson for the website told Reuters in an email responding to questions., adding, “We are releasing that enhancement this week and are committed to providing our customers with all the information they need to travel with confidence

Several travel agents said they were dealing with the cancellation of flights due to the grounding of nearly two-thirds of the Boeing 737 MAX planes in most countries outside North America, prompting a wave of re-bookings.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which manages travel for big global businesses, said some clients wished to explore the possibility of temporarily restricting travel on Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

U.S. travel firm Expedia, Germany’s Trivago and Indian online travel agents MakeMyTrip and Yatra did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment about the impact the crash is having on bookings.

According to Reuters, the twin crashes have spooked the airline industry and heaped pressure on Boeing, whose shares have plunged, wiping $25 billion off its market value in the space of less than three days.

Research contact: @Morrison1996

As GOP moves to cut coverage of pre-existing conditions, its candidates say the opposite

October 25, 2018

Republicans candidates are feverishly back-pedaling on their plundering of Obamacare—and are regretting filing lawsuits to relieve insurers of their responsibility to cover pre-existing conditions, according to a report by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC on October 23.

A poll released on October 18 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that fully 71% of U.S. voters say healthcare is the most important issue driving them to the polls in the midterm elections. That’s good for Democrats who are running, but bad for the GOP, Maddow said.

But that’s not stopping Republican candidates—and the president—from misrepresenting their true positions, the cable news anchor said.

In fact, Maddow identified five candidates who, she said, are lying about their overall support for healthcare—and their antipathy toward coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Among those whom Maddow said had voted against the Affordable Care Act, but who now say they support it are Representative Martha McSally (R-2nd District-Arizona); Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas); Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada); Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-48th District-California); and Representative Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota).

In particular, Senator Ted Cruz once spoke for more than 21 hours about his opposition to Obamacare, including a dramatic reading of the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor, The Washington Post reminded readers on October 25. The speech was styled as a filibuster, but was not actually one — no vote was being delayed; Cruz was just making a memorable stink about how much he did not like Obamacare.

President Donald Trump also is prevaricating about his true position: “Republicans will always protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said at a rally on October 23 in support of Senator Dean Heller in Nevada.

However, Maddow’s Producer Steve Benen wrote on her blog on October 24, “In reality, Republicans continue to fight to gut the ACA’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and a total number of zero Democratic officials “have been talking about” scaling back the existing Obamacare safeguards”(although the GOP claims they are).

“This is not a fight in which a complex truth lurks in some gray area in between partisan talking points. Republicans have not only fought for years to strip Americans with pre-existing conditions of their protections; they’re also–right now – trying to get the courts to gut these protections, too,” Benen wrote.

He noted, “If the midterm elections are going to be about which party is sincere about championing protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Republicans are likely to have a rough year.”

Research contact: @stevebenen