Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

Trump tied Ukraine military aid to political inquiries on Bidens, Bolton book says

January 28, 2020

Someone has leaked the manuscript of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new tell-all book—and the revelations are damaging to President Donald Trump’s defense, as the Senate impeachment inquiry goes into its second week.

Indeed, according to the unpublished manuscript, the president told Bolton in August—just about one month before the adviser’s resignation—that “he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens,” The New York Times reports.

The president’s statement, as described by Bolton, makes it crystal clear that any release of military aid was contingent on Ukraine announcing investigations into Trump’s political enemies—including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

According to the Times, Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Multiple people told the news outlet about Bolton’s personal, written account of the Ukraine affair. The book presents an outline of what the former advsier might testify to, if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said.

Or not: The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.

Just after midnight on Monday, January 27, the president denied telling Bolton that the aid was tied to investigations. “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” he wrote on Twitter, reprising his argument that the Ukrainians themselves felt “no pressure” and falsely asserting that the aid was released ahead of schedule.

Over dozens of pages, Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

For example, the Times reported, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt.

As for Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, he was present for at least one phone call durng which the president and Giuliani discussed the ambassador, Bolton wrote. Mulvaney has told associates he would always step away when the president spoke with his lawyer to protect their attorney-client privilege.

Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents, the Times said. “It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles Cooper, said Sunday night.

The White House has ordered Bolton and other key officials with firsthand knowledge of the president’s dealings not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Bolton said in a statement this month that he would testify if subpoenaed.

Research contact: @nytimes

Senate passes Midnight Mitch’s impeachment rules at nearly 2 a.m.

January 23, 2020

The Senate voted along party lines to pass Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s game plan for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the early hours of Wednesday morning—following nearly 13 hours of contentious debate between House prosecutors and attorneys for the White House.

According to a report by NBC News, the Republican majority had voted down several amendments proposed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have required the Senate to subpoena documents and call witnesses.

The vote came just before 2 a.m. Wednesday—after Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), one of the House impeachment managers, suggested that senators were voting for a “cover-up;” which drew sharp responses from the president’s legal counsel.

Indeed, the mood in the chamber and the language became so vile that Chief Justice John Roberts admonished House managers and Trump’s counsel “in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Robert said, “I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”

Under the terms of the organizing resolution, NBC News said, the House case managers will have 24 hours over three days—up from the 24 hours over two days that McConnell originally had proposed—to make their arguments to remove the president from office on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Attorneys for the White House likewise will have 24 hours over three days to state their case for acquittal.

Senators will then have 16 hours to submit questions to both sides before they decide whether to call witnesses or subpoena documents.

The plan proposed by the Majority Leader—nicknamed “Midnight Mitch” for his preference for trying the president in a slot later than TV’s prime time—had been opposed by Democrats, who wanted a guarantee that they would be able to call witnesses and demand documents that the administration withheld during the House impeachment inquiry. 202006:28

The vote wasn’t a total loss for Democrats, however. Not only did McConnell change the two-day rule for arguments; but he also rescinded another that could have barred evidence gathered by the House.

Democrats complained that the two-day limit would have meant that they would be making arguments until 1 a.m. or later, depriving much of the public of the chance to watch the proceedings.

The other provision could have barred entering all of the evidence House Democrats gathered against Trump into the Senate record. The evidence now will be admitted automatically unless there’s an objection, rather than depend on a proactive vote to

The House case managers were expected to begin their opening arguments Wednesday afternoon, NBC News said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

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

Republicans abandon outright dismissal of impeachment charges

January 15, 2020

Despite President Donald Trump’s best efforts to attain an immediate dismissal of both articles of impeachment, the stage has been set in the U.S. Capitol for a tribunal—and the leading players for the House and the Senate will be chosen this week.

Indeed, according to a report by The New York Times , rank-and-file senators and party leaders made clear on Monday, January 13, that even if they wanted to pursue dismissal of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the votes simply were not there to succeed—at least not at the outset of the trial.

Senate Republicans indicated that they would not seek to summarily dismiss the impeachment charges against President Trump, proceeding instead to a trial with arguments and the possibility of calling witnesses that could begin as soon as Wednesday, the Times said.

Dismissal was always a long shot given Republicans’ narrow control of the Senate, but it was the subject of renewed discussion after Trump said on Sunday that he liked the idea put forward by some conservatives as a way to deny the House’s case the legitimacy of a trial.

 “Our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a top Republican leader, told the Times. “They think both sides need to be heard. They believe the president needs to be heard for the first time in a fair setting.”

In the House on Monday, Democrats leaving meetings with Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the chamber was most likely to vote on Wednesday to name lawmakers to prosecute the case and to send its two impeachment charges to the Senate.

Behind the scenes, aides in the House and Senate were carefully choreographing the next steps, and some Democrats in the House cautioned that a vote could still slip to Thursday, as the Senate seeks to deal with a pending War Powers Resolution and President Trump’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

In any case, a trial would not be expected to start in earnest, with opening oral arguments, until next week.

As the trial has approached, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has seemed increasingly keen to keep it as tightly controlled and speedy as possible. According to the Times, “He is wary of what could happen if Democrats succeed in picking off moderate Republican senators to form a majority able to call witnesses and prolong the proceeding.”

But he also wants to ensure that those same moderate senators—several of whom are up this fall for re-election in swing states—can credibly claim to voters that they took their constitutional duties seriously.

However, on Twitter, the president warned that holding a full trial “gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Don’t count Schumer out: He plans to force votes on evidence, testimony that will ‘squeeze’ Republicans

January 14, 2020

While, in the run-up to the impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has appeared to be unflinching in his support of President Donald Trump, he should not underestimate his political rival, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Politico reports.

Indeed, although McConnell already has locked up enough Republican votes to ignore demands for a bipartisan framework for the trial, his Democratic counterpart is preparing a counteroffensive. Schumer plans to force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump, the news outlet says.

Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.

Support for obtaining new documents at the trial is “even stronger than we thought, with large numbers of Republicans supporting it,” Schumer said in an interview with Politico. “And when you go against what the American people feel strongly about, on an issue they’re paying attention to, it’s not a good idea.”

Public surveys in key swing states back up Democrats’ claims. Polling from Hart Research found that 63% of voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina would react unfavorably if their senator voted against calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents during the Senate impeachment trial.

Another poll from Morning Consult found 57% of voters believe the Senate should call additional witnesses. That includes 71% of Democrats, 56% of Independents, and 40% of Republicans.

What’s more, the president’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s offer to testify has given some momentum to Democrats’ calls for witnesses and documents about the White House’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Democrats also want to hear from Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey, and Mulvaney Adviser Robert Blair.

“If the Republicans ram through process that ultimately leads to no witnesses, I think they do it at their own peril,” Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), a former chairman of the party’s campaign arm, told Politico. “Some of these members: They have an audience of one. But I think they forgot that there’s a broader audience that they’re going to have to face at election time.”

“The procedural votes may be more important than the vote on removal or acquittal. Because what will matter more to voters than where a senator lands is how he or she got there,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster for Hart Research. “So if Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) or any of the other Republicans vote for acquittal and the takeaway for voters is this is a political or partisan vote on an important issue, that will have a long lasting impact.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she will release the articles of impeachment to McConnell this week.

Research contact: @politico

Trump jeers at Democrats’ outcry about war powers

January 13, 2020

At his first campaign rally of 2020, in Toledo, Ohio, President Donald Trump scoffed at Democrats for insisting that he should have complied with the War Powers Act—a congressional resolution enacted in 1973, designed to limit the U.S. president’s ability to initiate or escalate military actions abroadbefore taking out Iranian Maj Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Had he followed the requirements of that resolution to consult with Congress “in every possible instance” before committing troops to war, the president would have informed, at a minimum, the Gang of Eight about the planned assassination of the commander who had led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps since 1998.

Instead, NBC News reported on January 9,  the president alleged at the campaign event that Democrats would have leaked sensitive national security information, had it been shared with them.

Specifically, the network news outlet said, Trump professed that “he hadn’t had time” to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the attack, adding that “she is not operating with a full deck now.”

He then acted out a parody of how House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff might have leaked the planned killing of Soleimani to reporters.

“Schiff is a big leaker, you know, he leaks like crazy,” Trump said, claiming that Democrats “want us to tell them so that they can leak it to their friends in the corrupt media.”

The White House hasn’t cited any instances of Democrats’ leaking sensitive national security information to the media.

“Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad,” Trump claimed.

Trump’s comments came hours after the House voted mostly along party lines to adopt a new war powers resolution to limit his military actions against Iran.

The five-page non-binding resolution, sponsored by freshman Representatie Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), a former CIA analyst, emphasizes that if a president wants to take the United States to war, he or she must get authorization from Congress.

Specifically, it directs the president to terminate the use of U.S. armed forces to engage in hostilities against Iran unless Congress has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization— or unless military action is necessary to defend against an imminent attack, NBC News reported.

Research contact: @NBCNews

If subpoenaed, Bolton says he would be willing to testify in Senate impeachment trial

January 7, 2020

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday that he would testify in a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, if subpoenaed, The Hill reported.

Bolton, who had resisted the the Trump Administration’s effort to squeeze Ukraine for political help—calling the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up”—had hinted since October that he might cooperate, if prevailed upon to do so through legal channels.

“The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter. It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts,” Bolton, who was ousted by Trump in September, said in a statement.

“I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said. 

Bolton had previously said that he needed a judge to resolve whether a senior adviser to Trump could be compelled to testify, and as a result did not appear before the House as requested in connection with the impeachment inquiry, The Hill clarified.

His former deputy, Charles Kupperman, had filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to decide whether he should obey a congressional subpoena for his testimony but the case was declared moot last month. Bolton was never subpoenaed after his lawyers made clear he would not appear without one.

Bolton said that, now, because there will not be a judicial resolution to a case on the legal question brought by his former deputy before the Senate trial concludes, he is prepared to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed.

The GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to call Bolton to testify, however, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill

Bombs away! Pelosi says Trump launched strike killing Iranian general without authorization

January 6, 2020

Saying that the United States “cannot put the lives of American service members, diplomats, and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi castigated President Donald Trump for ordering a January 2 airstrike at Baghdad International Airport in a formal statement issued the same day

Pelosi (D-California) on Thursday said that an airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was not authorized and Congress was not consulted on the decision, according to a report by The Hill. 

“The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran,” an irate Pelosi remarked in the statement.

“Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress,” the top House Democrat said, adding, “Tonight’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America—and the world— cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return.” 

Pelosi said that Congress must be briefed on the situation and be informed of the next steps that are being considered.

According to the report by The Hill, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had defended the strike, saying that it was in response to “imminent threats to American lives.”

He said in a CNN interview that Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions … that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.”

However, the acting chief of the Department of Homeland Security. Chad Wolf, said on January 3, “There are currently no specific, credible threats against our homeland, “ CNN reported.

Iran, meanwhile, has vowed “harsh retaliation” for the airport strike.

The Pentagon announced Thursday that Soleimani had been killed. Iraqi state TV first reported that Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Popular Mobilization Forces, were killed at Baghdad International Airport.

Research contact: @thehill

Yale psychiatrist: Pelosi ‘has the right’ to submit Trump to an ‘involuntary evaluation’

December 31, 2019

Ya think? Bandy X. Lee, a professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine who also serves as president of the World Mental Health Coalition, is again sounding the alarm about President Donald Trump’s mental health—and warning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not doing enough to respond to the danger it poses, Salon reports.

Lee actually began warning about the dangers posed by the president’s mental health before his election. She then edited the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President and convened a conference on the president’s mental health at Yale shortly after the president’s inauguration.

In addition, she recently joined psychiatrists across the country in calling for the House Judiciary Committee to convene a panel of mental health experts to weigh in on the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

Worried by the tone and content of President Trump’s tweets, Lee  has gone so far as to “translate” some of them on her own Twitter feed, which she described to Salon as a “public service.” Lee said she wants her “translations” to help readers see past Trump’s efforts to muddle reality with his “negative influence.”

She recently “translated” Trump’s scorching six-page letter to Pelosi  in a Medium post.— noting that the president had accused the speaker of trying to “steal the election” ahead of the House vote to impeach him.

Arguing that the letter effectively served as a “confession,” Lee said that Trump’s letter was an example of the president projecting his own motives onto Pelosi. But Lee warned that Pelosi has not done enough to respond to the president.

“As a coworker, she has the right to have him submit to an involuntary evaluation, but she has not,” Lee told Salon. “Anyone can call 911 to report someone who seems dangerous, and family members are the most typical ones to do so. But so can coworkers, and even passersby on the street. The law dictates who can determine right to treatment, or civil commitment, and in all 50 U.S. states this includes a psychiatrist.

While Lee told Salon that Pelosi’s strategy of withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate has been effective, she also warned that the delay risks making Trump even more dangerous.

“I am beginning to believe that a mental health hold, which we have tried to avoid, will become inevitable,” Lee said.

Among the most troubling symptoms? “First, Lee told Salon, he is highly unwell, which I am glad many finally seem to see now. More specifically, you can tell how unwell he is by the degree he cannot deviate from his defenses: mainly, denial and projection. We often say he is “doubling down.” A truly sick person will be unable to show any tolerance of ambiguity, doubt or flexibility in thinking. The letter, like his lengthy interviews or his chronic tweeting over years, is unable to show any variation from the characteristic rigidity of pathology.

She noted, “Some people will dispute the ethics of disclosing what I see, and my response is: danger. We are legally bound to break patient confidentiality for safety reasons, and a president is not even a patient.”

Research contact: @Salon

Trump retweets article that ‘outs’ impeachment whistleblower

December 30, 2019

On December 26, Donald Trump retweeted an article that had appeared in the Washington Examiner earlier this month—allegedly revealing the name of “the whistleblower” who had filed a complaint about the president’s dealings with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The whistleblower made his or her report after a July 25 phone call between the U.S. and Ukraine leaders, during which Trump purportedly extorted Zelensky—withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid and a White House meeting until Zelensky agreed to publicly announce an investigation into the 2016 election; as well as into dealings in Ukraine by Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

According to a report by Mediaite, the Thursday night email represented the first time that Trump had exposed the name of the whistleblower in any manner.

Trump apparently was “goaded” into retweeting the Washington Examiner story after the whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, slammed Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) for her attacks on the informant and called on her to step down from the Senate whistleblower caucus.

When the president’s reelection team, known as the Trump War Room, jumped in to defend Blackburn, Trump also took to Twitter.

Now, there is bound to blowback for Trump. Several conservative outlets to date have identified the person alleged to be the whistleblower. No major news organization has yet reported the name.

Angry tweets from Americans followed the president’s revelation—many asking for another article of impeachment to be drafted for his “outing” of the whistleblower.

Research contact: @Mediaite