Posts tagged with "The Hill"

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

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

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

November 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research contact: @thehill

No harm, no foul: Schumer asks Army to provide Vindman with same protections as whistleblower

October 31, 2019

Fearing that a crucial witness may now be in harm’s way, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) has asked the U.S. Army to provide Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman—who testified behind closed doors as part of the House impeachment inquiry on October 29—with the same protections against retaliation that a whistleblower would receive.

According to a report by The Hill, Schumer sent a letter on Wednesday to Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff of the Army General James McConville raising concerns that Vindman could face retaliation for his testimony from President Donald Trump, his political base, and GOP supporters on Capitol Hill.

“I … ask that you provide me with a briefing on what actions the Army is taking to ensure that LTC Vindman and whistleblowers like him are afforded appropriate protections— both from retaliation and for the personal safety of him and his family,” Schumer wrote.

The Senate Minority Leader added that he also wants the Army leaders to “issue public statements indicating your support for him and others in the U.S. Armed Forces who fulfill their duty to tell the truth when asked to do so.”

Vindman told the three committees that he had raised concerns more than once about Trump and other officials pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically motivated investigations that would benefit Trump, according to a copy of his opening remarks.

Trump and some of his allies attacked Vindman, questioning his credibility and patriotism and sparking bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill.

Trump railed against Vindman on Tuesday, calling him a “Never Trumper witness.”

“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call ‘concerned’ today’s Never Trumper witness,” Trump tweeted. “Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!”

Schumer, in his letter on Wednesday, called the criticism “outrageous.”

“These attacks are outrageous and unacceptable, but more importantly, this vitriol toward LTC Vindman may result in professional reprisals and threats to his personal safety and that of his family,” he wrote.

“It is incumbent on the Army to ensure that he is afforded the same protections as whistleblowers and protected from reprisal for testifying before Congress.” 

Research contact: @thehill

Trump retracts decision to host G-7 at Doral resort after GOP kicks up a fuss

October 22, 2019

Following bashing by his own party, President Donald Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) Summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida, The Washington Post reported.

However, he was unrepentant about scheduling a major diplomatic event at one of his properties—refusing to acknowledge that the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments.

“I don’t think you people, with this phony Emoluments Clause—and by the way, I would say that it’s cost anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, The Hill said.

The decision to bring the world leaders to his resort —and to require them, as well as their staffs and the media covering the summit, to pay the Trump Organization for their stays—was an unprecedented one in modern American politics, the Post noted: The president awarded a huge contract to himself. The White House promoted Doral as the single best venue in the United States to host the G-7 summit in June, and the meeting would have brought thousands of guests in the offseason to a resort that is struggling financially.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended Trump’s selection of Doral, explaining that Trump still thinks of himself as working in the “hospitality business” even though he is president.

“He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback,” Mulvaney told anchor Chris Wallace on  Fox News Sunday.  “At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business, and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could, and he was very comfortable doing it at Doral.”

Now, Trump said, he and his administration will search for a new location. In a tweet, he attributed the concession to “Irrational Hostility” from Democrats as well as the media, although the revolt among Republicans may well have been the trigger.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

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