Posts tagged with "The Hill"

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

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

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

October 2, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research contact: @thehill

Support for Trump impeachment rises 12 percentage points in new poll

September 30, 2019

A new Hill-HarrisX survey released on Friday, September 27, found that support for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump rose 12 percentage points, following the release of a whistleblower report to Congress and the American people last week—as compared to a similar poll conducted three months ago.

The survey was conducted on September 26 and September 27—just a couple of days after House Democrats announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry, specifically to look into Trump’s July phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, among other allegedly illegal Oval Office activities.

Trump also released a transcript of that telephone call, during which the POTUS requested that Zelensky provide “oppo research” about Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent in the upcoming 2020 U.S. election; as well as on the former vice president’s son Hunter.

Until that request was acted upon, the U.S. president made it clear that he would not release more Javelins for defense purposes to the Ukraine (and implied that also would wait to release $400 million in Congressionally approved military aid to the eastern European nation).

The poll asked Americans, “Do you support or oppose the decision of House Democrats to start a formal impeachment inquiry on President Trump?”Fully 47% of respondents supported the inquiry, up 12 percentage points from a similar survey in June, which asked whether Democrats should begin impeachment proceedings.

Meanwhile, opposition to impeachment dipped 3 points to 42%, while 11 percent of those polled in the new survey said they weren’t sure or didn’t know.

Support for impeachment grew among Democratic, Republican and Independent voters alike. Democratic support jumped from 59%  to 78%, a 19-point increase. The number of Republicans backing impeachment jumped 5 points to 18 percent.

The number of independents back impeachment doubled to 41 percent.

According to a report by The Hill, the whistleblower, who is believed to be a former CIA official, alleges that Trump tried to persuade Zelensky to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, to help boast Trump’s reelection chances in 2020.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and the GOP  has largely come to the president defense.

The Hill-HarrisX survey surveyed among 1,001 voters and the margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.

Research contact: thehill

Pelosi forewarns of ‘new stage of investigation,’ if Trump continues to block whistleblower

September 24, 2019

Patience has its limits: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who has remained reluctant to start impeachment proceedings until a majority of the U.S. electorate demands them, may just have been pushed too far.

Indeed, Pelosi has said in a letter to House members that—unless the White House allows Acting Director of National Security Joseph Maguire to hand over a whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee, as required by law—she is prepared to take steps.

The complaint, it has now been revealed, relates to phone calls by President Donald Trump last summer to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

During those conversations, the POTUS allegedly asked Zelenskyy numerous times to investigate Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden and his son Hunter—or he would not release $250 million in Congressionally approved military aid to the Eastern European nation.

In her letter of September 22, Pelosi said, “The Administration is endangering our national security and having a chilling effect on any future whistleblower who sees wrongdoing”

She noted that the White House’s efforts to block the House Intelligence panel from seeing the complaint “must be addressed immediately” and warned of a “new stage of investigation” if the administration continues to block the whistleblower. 

“This violation is about our national security. The Inspector General determined that the matter is ‘urgent’ and therefore we face an emergency,” Pelosi wrote.

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower … they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,”she said. 

Pelosi also called on congressional Republicans “to join us” in asking the acting director of national intelligence to “obey the law as we seek the truth to protect the American people and our Constitution.”

To date, Trump has not confirmed whether he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, and the White House has not released the complaint or a transcript of the call, according to a report by The Hill.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday received a briefing from the intelligence community’s inspector general but did not receive information about the complaint’s contents, the news outlet said.

Trump told reporters Sunday he would consider releasing the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president.

In her letter, Pelosi, who has been cautious of calling for impeachment, fails to go as far as some of her fellow Democrats, The Hill said —many of whom have accused Trump using the presidency to bully foreign leaders into digging up information on

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) has been similarly cautious to back impeachment, but said Sunday that if allegations over Trump reaching out to Ukraine are true, impeachment “may be the only remedy.”

Research contact: @thehill

New York appeals court allows Trump emoluments case to move forward

September 16, 2019

President Donald Trump has never been one “to look a gift horse in the mouth”—but now, his avarice may have consequences. On September 13, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that a lawsuit accusing the POTUS of violating the Emoluments ClauseArticle I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution—could proceed after a lower court had thrown out the case.

Specifically, the clause “prohibits any person holding a government office from accepting any present, emolument, office, or title from any King, Prince, or foreign State, without congressional consent. Its purpose is to prevent external influence and corruption of American officers by foreign states

According to a report by The Hill, a panel of judges with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which alleged that the president violated the constitutional clause by refusing to put his business assets in a blind trust while in office and profiting off the presidency.

But the case had been dismissed by a lower court in December 2017.

CREW welcomed the reinstatement of the case: “If President Trump would like to avoid the case going further and curtail the serious harms caused by his unconstitutional conduct, now would be a good time to divest from his businesses and end his violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution,” Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

And CREW is just one of the many watchdog organizations that have raised concerns about the president’s decision not to put his company in a blind trust, according to The Hill.

Indeed, several of his actions in recent weeks seem to have been geared to generate profits for his properties—among them, his talk of hosting the next G7 meeting at his Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami; his “suggestion” that Vice President Pence stay at his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland; and his deal with the USAF to do pricey refuels at the nearby airport and layovers at TrumpTurnberry.

Multiple lawsuits have alleged Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause , but none has gone to court until the September 13 decision cleared the way.

“I got sued on a thing called emoluments. Emoluments. You ever hear of the word? Nobody ever heard of it before,” Trump said at a speech in Pennsylvania last month. “And what it is is presidential harassment, because [the presidency] is costing me a fortune, and I love it.”

Chances are, he’ll be familiar with the Emoluments Clause soon.

Research contact: @thehill

Air Force does pricey refuels in Scotland and crews layover at TrumpTurnberry—all on US voters’ dime

September 11, 2019

The Trump Organization and President Donald Trump, himself, were directly involved in developing a partnership between his Turnberry golf resort on the southwest coast of Scotland and Glasgow Prestwick Airport, The New York Times first reported this week.

The partnership, which began a year before Trump’s presidential campaign kicked off, worked to add TrumpTurnberry to a list of hotels used by the airport’s aircrew on stopovers— despite the fact that it is significantly farther away from the airport than other hotels used in a similar manner and has higher advertised prices, according to the Times.

What’s more, the president has arranged with the U.S. Air Force to refuel American aircraft—paying consumer prices for the fuel—at the Glasgow Prestwick Airport, a military maneuver that has not been approved by the Scottish government.

And the Air Force pilots and crew for those planes also are staying at the Trump Turnberry–on the dime of U.S. voters.

“We provide a full handling service for customers and routinely arrange overnight accommodation for visiting aircrew when requested,” the Prestwick airport said in a statement on Monday.

“We use over a dozen local hotels, including TrumpTurnberry, which accounts for a small percentage of the total hotel bookings we make,” it added.

The report comes amid controversy over U.S. military personnel staying at the resort while traveling through the airport in March, The Hill reported..

Trump has repeatedly denied involvement in the move, tweeting Monday, “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!) NOTHING TO DO WITH ME”

However, Air Force plane stops at Prestwick have increased from 180 in 2017 to 257 in 2018—and 259 so far, including 220 overnight stays, in 2019. That means lots of money is being made–both by the Trump resort and the airport.

Air Force officials could not tell the Times how many times crews had been sent to TrumpTurnberry specifically but said they are combing through vouchers to determine the exact count.

According to Natasha Bertrand, a reporter for Politico and an MSNBC contributor, the House Oversight committee has begun an investigation into whether U.S. military expenditures have been propping up TrumpTurnberry.

She says, “A peculiar refueling stop in Glasgow by a U.S. Air Force crew, who stayed overnight at the resort—there&back—tipped them off.’

What’s more, she tweeted, “One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel—markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to—that he texted someone close to him and said the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Research contact: @TrumpTurnberry

 

 

Trump says he’s looking ‘very seriously’ at ending birthright citizenship

August 23, 2019

The United States is the homeland of any baby born on its soil, according to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

But that did not stop President Donald Trump from saying on August 22 that his administration was “very seriously” considering an executive order that would end birthright citizenship, according to a report by The Hill.

“We’re looking at that very seriously,” Trump told a White House press gaggle before he left for a Kentucky rally. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land—walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”

“We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” he added. “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”

The president proposed ending the practice that grants citizenship to those born in the United States during his 2016 presidential campaign. He revived the idea last October, saying he would sign an executive order to enact the change.

It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said at the time during an interview with Axios.

Numerous lawmakers, including several Republicans, quickly pushed back on the idea and argued Trump lacked the authority to make such a change using an executive order, The Hill reported at the time. They cited that birthright citizenship is a right enshrined under the 14th Amendment.

Trump responded to the criticism by saying birthright citizenship would be ended “one way or another,” The Hill reported.

The move is simply another tactic being used in Trump’s war on immigration. The Trump administration announced earlier Wednesday it would unveil a new rule that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires unaccompanied minors to be held no longer than 20 days.

Research contact: @thehill

Scaramucci says he’ll recruit former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump

August 20, 2019

He’s not invoking Constitutional Amendment 25, but former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said on August 19 that he, nonetheless, believes it is time to remove the president: According to a report by The Hill, Scaramucci has said he intends to assemble a coalition of former Cabinet members to speak out against President Donald Trump in an effort to find a Republican challenger to the president in 2020. 

Under Amendment 25, ‘Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

While the amendment provides an immediate (and dramatic) means of removal, Scaramucci is looking toward “primarying” the president out in 2020. There already are two Republicans who have said they are in the running: Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

“I’m in the process of putting together a team of people who feel the exact same way that I do. This is not a ‘Never Trump’ situation, this is not just screeching rhetoric. This is, ‘OK, the guy’s unstable, everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it, let’s see if we can find a viable alternative,’” Scaramucci said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“Moreover, I’ve got to get some of these former Cabinet officials in unity to speak up about it.” 

Scaramucci would not reveal names of former officials that he said feel that Trump is unstable. But he said he expects more to come out publicly in upcoming months.

“I predict in middle or late fall there will be a trove of people who will come together in unity to say this is what’s going on. This is how the person’s acting. This is why there’s nobody inside the White House he’s taking any advice from,” Scaramucci said.

He also did not disclose names of possible candidates he’s looking to back along with the team he’s looking to assemble.

“I don’t think it’s fair to those people,” he said.

Around the same time Scaramucci spoke on CNN, Trump renewed an attack on his former staffer. He tweeted that Scaramucci is a “nut job” whom he “barely knew.”

“He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!” Trump tweeted. 

Trump also tweeted that there is “great cohesion” inside the Republican Party.

Scaramucci had long defended Trump but in recent weeks has spoken out against the president’s rhetoric and actions, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill 

Trump intervenes with Netanyahu, blocking Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel

August 19, 2019

“I don’t know why they would,” President Donald Trump said last week, when asked whether he thought that Israel should provide entrance to two U.S. Democratic representatives for a fact-finding visit.

The freshman lawmakers—Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—are Muslims who have been disparaged, even by many of their fellow Democrats, for their posture on Israel; including their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign designed to press Israel on human rights issues surrounding the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nonetheless, it has been Israel’s position, as a close ally of the United States, to allow members of Congress to freely visit the nation—including the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The visit of the two lawmakers would have followed a visit by the largest-ever U.S. delegation—a group of 41 Congressional Democrats and 31 Congressional Republicans—who traveled to Israel to express solidarity with the Jewish state, following what they characterized as anti-semitic remarks by Tlaib and Omar.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump intervened to urge Israel to block the upcoming admission of the two Muslim observers.

According to a report by The Hill, President Trump “broke new ground [last] Thursday when he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny two Muslim congresswomen entrance to the country for a fact-finding visit, accusing them of harboring hatred toward “Israel & all Jewish people.”

The move reverberated across Washington, as pro-Israel groups condemned the president for threatening U.S.-Israel relations; foreign policy experts chimed in with warnings of frayed diplomatic ties; and stunned Democrats issued waves of statements denouncing Trump for pressuring a foreign government to deny his American political opponents rights of free passage.

Indeed, in a surprise response on August 16, even BDS condemned the move. The  statement from the opposition organization left no doubt that even the Palestinians object to the U.S. president’s unprecedented intervention.

“The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel,” BDS said in its official release, adding, “Israel’s far-right government, with Trump’s collusion, has again put itself on par with apartheid South Africa in the past, and other rogue regimes in the present.”

The statement ended with kudos for the two Muslim lawmakers. “We salute Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and we call for escalating pressure on Congress to implement the Leahy Law, which conditions U,S, military aid to other governments on their respect for human rights, by cutting U,S, military aid to Israel.”

 “I can’t think of any other president, Democrat or Republican, doing something as outrageous as this,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill on August 15 during a phone interview. “If this is just providing cover for Netanyahu, that’s wrong. If this is Donald Trump playing politics, that’s wrong.

“Once again, Donald Trump is denigrating the office of the presidency,” he added.

Some Republicans also broke ranks to criticize the president’s intervention. “Israel is a U.S. ally and a thriving bastion of democracy and hope for freedom-loving people of the world. It would benefit all of us for Reps. Tlaib and Omar to see that firsthand,”  Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said to Reuters’s Patricia Zengerle.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), a staunch ally of Israel who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, called Israel’s decision a “mistake,” while Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) singled out the Trump administration for urging Israel to deny the women entry.

Research contact: @thehill