Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

McConnell tells Hannity he’ll let Trump’s lawyers call the shots in impeachment trial

December 16, 2019

President Donald Trump won’t get a “fair or “impartial” trial in the Senate, after impeachment passes the House this coming week. He’ll get the trial that his lawyers and White House advisers tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) say he wants and needs–unburdening him of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice before the 2020 campaign gains steam.

When the trial commences in the Republican-controlled Senate, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will presidebut the GOP will be able to control much of the length and substance of the process, The Washington Post has reported.

And appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on December 12, McConnell made no bones about saying he’ll endeavor to give the White House whatever kind of trial it wants.

Indeed, according to a report by the Post, McConnell made a point of saying that he would be coordinating with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone every step of the way.

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” McConnell said. “There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.”

He added later that “exactly how we go forward I’m going to coordinate with the president’s lawyers, so there won’t be any difference between us on how to do this.”

And then he said that “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”

McConnell also, notably, said there is “no chance” Trump will be removed from office. This, he indicated, is why he’s not treating the trial with much regard.

The repetition of the first talking point made pretty clear that McConnell very much intended to say all of this. But it’s worth taking stock of how remarkable a statement it is, The Washington Post opined —noting that “giving the White House any say over how the trial would be handled would be something, but McConnell says he’ll coordinate everything ( and how discordant it is relative to many of his fellow GOP senators).”

The newspaper went on to point out, “Those senators have, in many cases, declined to comment on impeachment and the Ukraine scandal because they will serve as jurors in the Senate trial. For some, it was certainly a cop-out to avoid having to comment on the substance of the Ukraine scandal, which, however you slice it, doesn’t look good for Trump. But now that McConnell is effectively saying he’ll let the defendant’s lawyers dictate how the trial will be handled, those professions of respect for the process ring pretty hollow.”

“I’m a juror, and I’m comfortable not speaking,” Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) told The Washington Post in late October. Pressed again, he said, “I said I’m comfortable not speaking.”

“I don’t need a strategy for impeachment, because I may be a juror someday,” Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) commented to the news outlet

“I’d be a juror, so I have no comment,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) added.

Earlier on Thursday, McConnell met with Cipollone and the administration’s Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. And McConnell said in his Thursday news conference he had not yet sat down with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) to negotiate on the process.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Even as articles of impeachment are divulged, Trump brazenly hosts Russian official Sergei Lavrov

December 12, 2019

President Donald Trump tweeted out a grinning photo of himself during an Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on December 10—the same day on which the House Democratic Leadership Team held a press conference announcing two articles of impeachment  against the POTUS.

The question remains, Did Vladimir Putin set up the photo opportunity the day after his arbitration talks with Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine? The visit by the top Russian minister would have signaled to the world that Russia—not Ukraine—is the nation that currently is receiving American backing. What’s more, this was Lavrov’s second meeting in the Oval Office, while Zelensky still awaits his first.

Or did President Trump, himself, seek to play Russian roulette—documenting his close relationship with Putin’s enemy nation, even while the U.S. Congress made a case against him for advancing his own political agenda instead of supporting an ally.

The photo shows a smiling Trump seated at the Resolute Desk, with Vladimir Putin’s top foreign policy emissary standing to his right. Both men are looking forward, presumably toward an official White House photographer.

The official explanation for the meeting from the White House? In a readout, the administration said that President Trump had warned Lavrov against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections and urged Russia to resolve the conflict with Ukraine.

But Trump chose a weaker verb—

‘meddling’ in his own personal assessment of the encounter. He tweeted: ‘Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Look forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future!’

And after the meeting, Lavrov, himself, said that the elections had not come up during his private meeting with the president.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the narrative of Russian election interference in 2016, and blasted the Russia probe as a ‘witch hunt.’ He is captured in a call transcript with the president of Ukraine pushing a theory of Ukrainian election interference.

By publishing the photo himself, the UK’s Daily Mail reports, “Trump got to shape the narrative. Back in 2017, it was Russian news agency TASS that [distributed] jovial photos

Research contact: @DailyMailUK

Democrats set to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

December 11, 2019

President Donald Trump—aka Teflon Don—has managed to sidestep every scandal in his campaign and administration over the past three years. But now it’s time for him to show his base some really fancy footwork: House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled two articles of impeachment against Trump—accusing him of abusing his office for personal political gain and all but guaranteeing that he will become just the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached, The Hill reported.

Democrats are bringing two charges against Trump, which they say rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors: that he abused the power of his office and that he obstructed Congress in its impeachment inquiry. 

Both of the charges, the news outlet noted, are related to the unfolding controversy surrounding Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s government to conduct a pair of investigations that might have helped him politically: one into Trump’s political rivals—including former Vice President Joe Biden—and another into the debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the U.S. elections of 2016.

The historic move, which follows weeks of closed-door and public hearings on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, carries far-reaching implications for a fiercely divided country that’s split roughly in half on whether Trump should be removed from office and ensures that the impeachment debate will carry far into an election year, The Hill noted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)—who had resisted moving for impeachment for most of the year—struck a somber tone when announcing the articles in the Capitol, saying Trump’s handling of foreign policy in Kyiv had left Democrats no alternative.

“On this solemn day, I recall that the first order of business for members of Congress is the solemn act to take an oath to defend the Constitution,” she said aat a press conference situated in the august, wood-paneled Rayburn Room adjacent to the House chamber. 

“It is an impeachable offense for a president to use the powers of his office to seek a personal benefit,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) said in introducing the first article. 

“And when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry,” Nadler continued, pointing to the second article of obstruction of Congress.

The Judiciary chairman said his committee would vote on the articles later this week — likely Thursday, according to several sources —setting up a vote of the full House as early as next week, before Congress leaves Washington for the winter holidays.

Forecasting a nasty battle to come, Trump quickly took to Twitter to attack Democrats’ decision, complaining “To impeach a President who has proven through results, ioncluding producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies eer, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness! #2020Election.” 

However, Democrats allege, Trump withheld nearly $400 million in U.S. security aid to Ukraine and dangled a White House meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to pressure the country’s leader to publicly announce an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter, who worked on the board of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings.

This, they warned, makes clear that Trump believes he is above the law, and will continue this pattern of misconduct if he remains in office.

We stand here today because the president’s continuing abuse of his power has left us no choice,” said Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which led the weeks-long investigation into the Ukraine affair. “To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president’s abuse of his high office, the public trust and our national security.”

But Republicans  argue this is a “sham” impeachment inquiry designed by Democrats to remove a president they cannot defeat at the ballot box.

The articles were announced one day after a Democratic staff counsel, going over the evidence produced by Schiff’s Intelligence Committee, said Trump represented “a clear and present danger” to the nation’s national security, and to fair and free elections, The Hill reported.

Democrats described the move as a hard, but necessary—one they must make to protect the country from a lawless president. “It is rather a question of duty,” Schiff said at the conclusion of the press conference. “The president’s oath of office appears to mean very little to him but the articles put forward today will give us a chance to show that we will defend the Constitution and that our oath means something to us.”

Research contact: @thehill

Rudy to the rescue? Giuliani’s current Ukraine jaunt freaks out Trump’s team—and he doesn’t care

December 9, 2019

Forget Carmen Sandiego. Where in the world is Rudy Giuliani?  The president’s personal attorney’s decision to travel to multiple European countries last week—during the height of an impeachment probe involving his client—was so out of left field that senior administration officials and national security brass began tracking his movements in an effort to get a read on his objectives abroad, The Daily Beast reports.

Indeed, officials in the West Wing and numerous Trump associates learned about Giuliani’s latest foreign escapade, which included a stop in Ukraine, by reading the news, the news outlet said.

Many of them expressed exasperation at the thought of Giuliani—himself reportedly in the crosshairs of federal investigators—continuing to cause headaches for the White House. Others feared he would cause tangible damage to U.S. foreign policy.

 “I do not see why [any] lawyer would see this as serving the best interests of their client,” a senior White House official told The Daily Beast. “Especially now.”

Senior U.S. officials in the State Department and on the national security team were concerned that Giuliani was speaking with politicians in both Budapest and Kiev who have interests in domestic American politics.

According to five Daily Beast sources with knowledge of the situation, there is renewed fear that the president’s lawyer is still shopping for dirt about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as well as speaking with foreign officials who, against all evidence, have promoted the idea that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election. In fact, there are rumors that he is taping a documentary.

The concerns about Giuliani’s trip to Kiev were so pronounced that they reached officials close to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, who were advised by Americans and politicians in Ukraine not to meet with Giuliani when he was in town, according to an individual familiar with those conversations.

The president’s attorney, who has been defiant in the face of criticism for his prior efforts to target the Bidens, was similarly unmoved by the idea that his current expedition was both unseemly and unwise, the news outlet said.

“I would hope they have more important things to do than intrude on the work being done by a lawyer defending his client against another set of false and contrived charges,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast last Wednesday, while still overseas.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Ring of truth: House Intel report reveals Giuliani, Nunes, and White House call records

December 5, 2019

Call records obtained by impeachment investigators have given them new ammo against President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—including details on his interactions with the White House, several Ukraine associates; and Representative Devin Nunes (R-California), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, The Wall Street Journal reported on December 3.

The records of those calls were included in a draft report by the House Intelligence Committee released Tuesday. The panel alleged that Trump had abused his office for personal and political gain by pressuring Ukraine for dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter—with the help of the Giuliani.

According to the Journal,” the phone records suggest Giuliani’s deep involvement in several key episodes that have become a focus of the impeachment probe.” The frequent contacts between Nunes and two figures at the center of the inquiry—Giuliani and one of his indicted associates—are viewed as highly unusual and are likely to redouble calls from Democrats for Nunes to face an ethics inquiry.

A lawyer for the Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, said his client’s conversations with Nunes in April were focused on corruption investigations in Ukraine. However, by that point, Parnas had for months been helping Giuliani push Ukraine to investigate Biden and alleged interference by Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election—the effort that set off the impeachment inquiry.

A spokesman for Nunes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Tuesday that the phone records showed “considerable coordination” among the parties under investigation, including the White House. The records only show the timing and length of calls placed and don’t include their content.

The phone records show that on April 24, the day that Marie Yovanovitch, then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was recalled to Washington, Giuliani spoke at least eight times with a White House phone number. He already has acknowledged pressing the president to remove Yovanovitch from her post, and Trump subsequently ordered her to be recalled, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Giuliani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the news outlet. He and the president have denied any wrongdoing.

Research contact: @WSJ

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

Giuliani henchman is ready to testify that Nunes aides axed Ukraine trip to avoid tipping off Schiff

November 26, 2019

The dominoes are falling: Lev Parnas, who collaborated with President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to find dirt on 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has offered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Parnas says he is prepared to bear witness that aides to Representative Devin Nunes (R-California.)—who is ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting the impeachment inquiry—dropped a planned trip to Ukraine to obtain dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in order to avoid alerting House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California).

Specifically, CNBC reported on November 24 that Lev Parnas plans to tell committee members that aides to Nunes planned to meet with two Ukrainian prosecutors in an effort to obtain evidence to aid Trump’s reelection bid, but abandoned the efforts once they realized that Schiff’s staff would be alerted to the trip.

The offices of Nunes and Schiff did not immediately return requests for comment on Sunday evening, November 24, The Hill reported—noting that Parnas’s planned testimony, if accurate, would implicate Nunes’s staff in the president and Giuliani’s efforts to push Ukrainian officials to open a politically charged investigations into Biden.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have argued that the president’s efforts presented a clear case that he was attempting to solicit foreign interference in a U.S. election, while also allegedly tying up military aid to the country over the issue.

Joseph Bondy, Parnas’s attorney, told CNBC that he hopes the committee will allow his client to testify. Parnas and a fellow Giuliani associate were recently arrested at Dulles International Airport and charged with campaign finance violations.

His client, Bondy told CNBC, wishes to provide “truthful and important information that is in furtherance of justice.”

Research contact: @thehill

Pelosi to participate in CNN Town Hall as House weighs impeachment

November 25, 2019

When Nancy Pelosi speaks, the American people and their president listen.  The House Speaker is widely recognized as one of the strongest and smartest leaders inside the Beltway—and as the savvy architect of the current impeachment inquiry.

Now CNN has announced, Pelosi will participate in a town hall broadcast from Washington, D.C., moderated by Jake Tapper at 9 p.m. (ET) on December 5. As part of the CNN format, the House Speaker will take questions directly from a cross-section of voters.

According to the cable news network’s publicity for the event, “Pelosi has been critical of Trump’s presidency — from his policy initiatives to his personal conduct as commander-in-chief. Earlier this week, the Speaker told CBS that she warned Trump to refrain from intimidating the “whistleblower”—whose complaint about the President’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prompted the impeachment inquiry.”

While impeachment proceedings will dominate the headlines in December, Congress will be facing a deadline on funding for the federal government, and mounting pressure to pass a massive trade deal; and to approve legislation to lower the costs of prescription drugs.

The town hall will air exclusively on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN.com’s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV, SiriusXM Channels 116, 454, 795 and the Westwood One Radio Network.

Research contact: @CNN

Lt. Colonel Vindman testifies: ‘I did this out of a sense of duty’

November 20, 2019

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman—the principal White House adviser on Ukraine to the national security staff and the to the president—said in his opening statement in the impeachment inquiry on November 19 that he “was concerned” as he personally listened to President Donald Trump phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

As he sat in the Situation Room along with White House colleagues and heard firsthand the conversation between the two leaders, Vindman told the House Intelligence Committee, “…what I heard was improper.”

He clarified, “It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent. It was also clear that, if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support; undermine U.S. national security; and advance Russia’s strategic objectives in the region.”

He said he never expected to testify about the president’s words and actions, but he did so out of a “sense of duty.”

Indeed, according to a report by NBC News—which obtained a copy of the opening statement and posted it—Vindman’s account is significant because Republicans have attempted to paint previous witnesses as unreliable given their second- or third-hand knowledge about the pressure campaign. Vindman said that he witnessed EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland ask Ukrainian officials to open the investigation in order to get the aid — a meeting then-national security adviser John Bolton cut short. He also said that the July 25 call was “inappropriate” and he reported his concerns immediately

What’s more, he noted, he continued to support the foreign policy objectives of the administration, even after he reported his concerns—both on July 10 about Ambassador Sondland’s message detailing what was expected from Ukraine in return for the nearly $400 million in military aid—and on July 25 about the president’s dialog with Zelensky.

“When I reported my concerns,” Lt. Colonel Vindman said, “my only thought was to act property and to carry out duty. Following each of my reports [to National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg, who placed the transcript of the phone call on a classified server]… I immediately returned to work to advance the President’s and our country’s foreign policy objectives. I focused on what I have done throughout my career, promoting America’s national security interests.”

NBC News reported that Vindman —whose loyalty to the United States has come under attack from some in conservative media—excoriated the “reprehensible” and “cowardly” attacks on career foreign service officers and others who have appeared or were expected to do so, saying they do this work out of patriotism and not partisanship.

In a powerful close, Vindman thanked his father for deciding to emigrate to America from Ukraine, saying his testimony was proof it was the right decision. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” he said looking into the camera directly at his dad.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Is Nikki Haley positioning herself to replace Mike Pence on Trump’s 2020 ticket?

November 13, 2019

She is one of the few Trump Administration headliners who has departed while still on good terms with the president. And on her current book tour, Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, has characterized the POTUS as “truthful.”

Now, political pundits are asking, does Haley have an agenda? And more specifically, is she angling to replace Mike Pence on the 2020 GOP ticket as vice president?

Less than three months ago, Yahoo News pointed out on November 12, Haley shut down speculation that she was seeking to replace VP Mike Pence.

“Enough of the false rumors,” she tweeted on August 21. “Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years. He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support.”

But the speculation has resumed during Haley’s promotional tour for her new book, which some observers—including the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough—believe is doubling as an audition for the role of Trump’s running mate.

Haley’s book, entitled With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit and Grace, which was released on Tuesday, November 12, is respectful toward Trump and dismissive of some of his other cabinet members, including former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom she says tried to recruit her to “save the country” by undermining Trump, Yahoo reports.

She writes, “Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. ‘We are doing the best we can do to save the country,’ they said. We need you to work with us and help us do it.”

Both Kelly and Tillerson have denied that they were on a mission to undermine Trump. (Kelly told The Washington Post that if providing the president “with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice … is ‘working against Trump,’ then guilty as charged.”)

Haley says she refused to go along with the idea. “Go tell the president what your differences are, and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing,” Haley described her response to CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell.  “But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing.”

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, the former South Carolina governor said she told Trump about Kelly and Tillerson’s back-door approach.

In the same interview, Yahoo reports, Haley defended Trump’s requests for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for military aid — the basis of the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry.

While she refused to say whether she agreed with Trump that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” Haley echoed a White House talking point that there was no pressure put on Zelensky.

Research contact: @YahooNews