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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump Impeachment Inquiry Page 6

The Trump-Ukraine Affair shows Trump is more than willing to accept help from a foreign government, which is against the law. It also shows trump is willing do anything he has to get that help and anything he has to prevent the truth from coming out. It also shows he may have conspired with the Russians to help him win the 2016 election. Donald J. Trump used Russian talking points during his 2016-election campaign and now Trump is using Russian talking points on election interference to dismiss Russian election interference while advancing the Russian agenda around the world. Last time the lie was about adaptions this time it the lie is about corruption. Donald J. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency. Donald J. Trump has corrupted the white house, the DOJ, the state department and other government departments and agencies to protect and defend Donald J. Trump. Instead of putting America and the constitution first, they are putting Donald J. Trump first. Any government employee who puts Donald J. Trump before America and the constitution is not patriot. The oaths they have taking are to America and the constitution not to any individual. Any government employee who puts Donald J. Trump above America and the constitution is neither protecting nor defending America and the constitution. Moreover, they have broken the oath they have sworn to America and the constitution. Republicans continue to protect Trump and subvert justice while the Democrats have started an impeachment inquiry into the actions of Donald J. Trump. We know from the Mueller Investigation that Donald J. Trump committed obstruction of justice at least 10 times. Donald J. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency to make money and to prevent access to information that could show his action arise to level of impeachment. The GOP, the party of obstruction is helping protect Trump by obstructing justice to prevent the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Donald J. Trump should be impeached before he does any more damage to our country. Here you can track the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the constitution. This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C. more...

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN more...

The latest updates, breaking news stories and videos about Democrats' efforts to impeach President Donald Trump. more...


An impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, the 45th and current president of the United States, was initiated on September 24, 2019, by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. It began after a whistleblower report alleged that President Donald Trump and top administration officials had pressured the leaders of foreign nations, most notably Ukraine, among other ways, in order to abuse the power of the presidency to advance Trump's personal interests. These allegations have been corroborated by testimony so far by Trump-appointed White House administration official Fiona Hill, at least six other White House officials, and other witnesses. Additional allegations of misconduct emerged in the days afterwards.Pelosi initiated the inquiry in the wake of a whistleblower report alleging an ongoing widespread abuse of power and subsequent cover-up by Trump and his administration during Trump's presidency. The whistleblower's report was largely based upon information given to them by more than "half a dozen" U.S. officials and has been largely corroborated. The report also implicated Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr as part of a more widespread pressure campaign directed towards the Ukrainian government. The first whistleblower's complaint was given to Congress on September 25, 2019, and released to the public the next day. A second whistleblower came forward on October 5, with "first-hand knowledge of allegations" associated with the call between Trump and Zelensky. From May to August 2019, Trump and Giuliani repeatedly pressed the Government of Ukraine to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden, a former U.S. vice president and candidate for the 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden's son Hunter. On July 18, 2019, through his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, Trump instructed his staff to place a hold on congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine. During a phone call a week later, he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch two investigations, including one into the actions of the Bidens. The whistleblower also accused the White House of attempting to cover up the contents of this phone call. In response, the Trump administration released a memorandum of the call, confirming that Trump had asked Zelensky to "look into" Biden. Two close associates of Trump told The New York Times that his alleged behavior was "typical" of his interactions with foreign leaders. The whistleblower's report recorded that Trump's violations were "so obviously egregious" that White House officials immediately attempted to cover it up. One such action was intentionally misclassifying the transcript of the call, and other evidence of presidential misconduct and politically damaging material, so as to place it on top secret servers where very few people would have access to it. Administration officials had begun placing transcripts of conversations with world leaders onto these servers following high-profile leaks in 2017. The White House officially responded to the impeachment proceedings with a letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to House Speaker Pelosi that it would cease all cooperation with the investigation due to a litany of concerns, including there not being a vote of the full House, and that the proceedings were being conducted behind closed doors. more...

"The Firtash thing is a smear job," Giuliani told NBC News, denying that he had discussed the matter with Trump.
By Allan Smith President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Monday denied being involved with a Ukrainian oligarch whose ethical issues have dovetailed with the ongoing impeachment inquiry into the president. Giuliani also told NBC News he was not planning on visiting Dmitry Firtash, who is currently wanted on corruption charges in the U.S., during a trip to Vienna he planned last week. He said he could not speak for his two Soviet-born business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested last week on campaign-finance charges in Virginia as they were about to board one-way flights to Vienna. Giuliani has said their similarly timed Austrian trips were not in conjunction. "I wasn't planning to go see him," Giuliani said. "That was the last thing from my mind on why I was going to Vienna. There was a very important reason I was going that I'm not at liberty to disclose right now that will make it quite clear [Parnas and Fruman] were not fleeing. And I don't know, I can't speak for them, they have their own businesses. I actually do two things with them. I represent their company, and they help me find people. But I'm pretty sure they were going just for the purpose I knew about." Giuliani insisted he has "nothing to do with Firtash," whose legal team includes Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, the pro-Trump husband and wife attorneys who Fox News reported were "working off the books" with Giuliani as part of his Ukrainian venture. "So, Firtash, I know nothing about," Giuliani said. "I'm not going to answer any questions about because I'm probably going to get it wrong, and you can ask them." Giuliani also said he has "never" brought up Firtash's extradition battle with Trump. "I'm not even sure the president is aware of him," Giuliani said. "I think if you asked the president 'who is Dmitry Firtash?' He would say 'I don't know.' As far as I know, we've never discussed him." One of Ukraine's wealthiest businessman, Firtash has battled extradition charges to the U.S. for the past two years as the Department of Justice seeks to prosecute him over allegations he bribed Indian officials to land a lucrative mining deal. Federal prosecutors labeled him as an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime." Firtash has denied that label and the charge, fighting them from Vienna, where he has lived for the past five years. more...

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday said that testimony from the intelligence community whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry against President Trump may no longer be necessary. "Given that we already have the call record, we don't need the whistleblower who wasn't on the call to tell us what took place during the call," he told Margaret Brennan during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation." "Before the president started threatening the whistleblower ... we were interested in having the whistleblower come forward. Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected," he added.  The whistleblower wrote a complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressed his counterpart to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. more...

Hill's appearance has caused concern among those close to Trump, a former senior White House official told NBC News.
By Allan Smith and Josh Lederman
Fiona Hill, who until August served as President Donald Trump's top Russia analyst, is set to testify to the House privately on Monday under subpoena as part of the impeachment inquiry into the president. Previously, she agreed to testify at Congress' written request. Hill plans to tell Congress that Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland circumvented the administration to pursue a shadow foreign policy on Ukraine, a person familiar with her expected testimony told NBC News last week. A former senior White House official told NBC News that Hill's appearance has caused concern among those close to Trump because she played a central role in the administration's Russian and Ukrainian policy. Hill's testimony comes after Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told House investigators last week that Trump pressured the State Department to remove her. Pushing for Yovanovitch's ouster was central to an effort from two Soviet-born business associates of Giuliani who now face federal charges over campaign-finance violations. more...

By QUINT FORGEY
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday signaled that he would attempt to comply with a subpoena from House Democrats related to their impeachment inquiry, but did not commit to honoring the order’s deadline for documents from the Pentagon. “We will do everything we can to respond to their inquiry, Chris,” Esper told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “My general counsel a week or two ago sent out a note, as we often do in these situations, to the key members in the Pentagon to say, ‘Retain your documents and institute other controls,’” he continued. “So again, we will respond as we can.” Congressional Democrats have demanded that Esper, as well as acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, produce any documents having to do with the administration’s decision over the summer to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Lawmakers are probing whether the freezing of those funds marked an effort by President Donald Trump to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into pursuing investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump pushed Zelensky to scrutinize the Bidens over unfounded allegations of corruption in a July phone call between the two leaders that lies at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment push. more...

By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Washington (CNN)The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is expected to tell Congress this week that President Donald Trump relayed to him directly in a phone call the content of a text message that Sondland sent denying quid pro quo, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing a person familiar with his testimony. Sondland's text message was sent to the top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who raised concerns in a text to Sondland about the US withholding nearly $400 million of US military and security aid. This text message exchange has become a major focal point of the impeachment inquiry into the President. Sondland is expected to testify to Congress that he has no knowledge of whether Trump was telling him the truth at the time, the Post reports. "It's only true that the President said it, not that it was the truth," the person familiar with Sondland's planned testimony, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic matters, told the Post. The congressional testimony by Sondland, a key witness within the State Department and to the President's action in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, could prove damaging to the President and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the Post reports. Sondland intends to testify to the House under subpoena Thursday, according to his lawyers. Sondland is a Trump donor and hotelier who has been EU ambassador since 2018. He exchanged messages with former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and a senior US diplomat in Ukraine about setting up the call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. He also exchanged messages about whether foreign aid was being withheld while Trump and Giuliani pushed for Ukraine to open an investigation into business activity by the son of one of the President's 2020 Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. CNN previously reported Sondland called Trump to find out what was going on after Taylor raised his concerns about the US withholding assistance, according to a source with knowledge. Trump emphatically told him no quid pro quo, the source said. "Whether (Trump)'s deciding it's getting too hot to handle and he backs off whatever his position really was a month earlier, I don't know," the person familiar with Sondland's understanding told the Post. Sondland is expected to tell Congress that for months before that text message exchange, he worked at the direction of Giuliani to secure a public statement from Ukraine that it would investigate corruption, according to the Post. In exchange for the statement, the President would grant Ukraine's new president a White House audience, the Post reported. "It was a quid pro quo, but not a corrupt one," the person familiar with Sondland's testimony told the Post. more...

Testimony, subpoenas, a refusal to cooperate: Here's a look at this week's developments in the Trump impeachment probe.
by William Roberts
Washington, DC - Friday marked Day 18 of the US House of Representatives impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, and despite Congress being in recess, the investigation escalated quickly this week with some major developments. House Democrats launched the inquiry in late September following reports of a whistle-blower complaint that alleged Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government in investigating a political opponent. The complaint, which has since been made public, centred on a summer phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. According to the White House log of the call, Trump asked for help investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic frontrunner, and his son. In the weeks before the call, Trump ordered the freeze of hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine, prompting speculation the US president was using the money as leverage. Trump maintains he has done nothing wrong and has labelled the inquiry "witch-hunt garbage". There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Since its launch, the impeachment inquiry has moved rapidly as House investigators work to determine whether they will recommend articles of impeachment against the president. From testimony to fresh subpoenas and a refusal to cooperate, here are 10 things from the impeachment inquiry you may have missed this week. more...

By Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade
Several key players in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump were the strongest proponents of Republicans’ iron-fisted oversight of the Obama administration, culminating in a two-year House probe into the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Now, faced with a politically charged investigation into a president of their own party, they have dropped their formerly stout defense of congressional prerogatives and have joined Trump in endorsing a campaign of massive resistance to the impeachment probe — a turnabout that has left many Democrats and even some Republicans aghast. Among those who participated in the select committee that probed the attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya were Mike Pompeo, then a Kansas congressman and now secretary of state and a key target of the current Democratic investigation, and Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. The panel’s chairman, then-Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), who has since left Congress, was poised to serve as an outside lawyer for Trump. The president said Thursday that Gowdy would have to wait until January to start due to lobbying rules. “The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong,” Gowdy said in 2012, as a House panel moved to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with its probe of a botched gunrunning operation. “Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles.” Gowdy did not respond to requests for comment but criticized the House investigation last week in Fox News Channel appearances — calling its leader, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), “deeply partisan” and accusing him of leaking information “like a sieve.” In a 2016 addendum to the House Benghazi probe’s findings, Pompeo and Jordan thrashed Democrats, saying they “showed little interest in seeking the truth” and “spent the bulk of their time trying to discredit the Republican-led committee and leveling baseless personal attacks.” But in past weeks, the two have used similar tactics to undermine the House impeachment probe by, in Pompeo’s case, accusing Democrats of “bullying and intimidating State Department employees” in justifying a decision to block testimony and, in Jordan’s case, accusing the probe’s leader of misconduct and disqualifying political bias. “There is obviously a massive hypocrisy here,” said Jen Psaki, an Obama administration veteran who served as State Department spokeswoman during the Benghazi probe. Pompeo, she added, “was one of the ringleaders of a massive political circus around Benghazi; he was responsible for dragging countless Foreign Service officers, civil servants — people who had been serving Democrats and Republicans for decades — in front of Congress, through the mud. Now he’s claiming that he’s defending the institution? That irony is not lost.” more...

The first two officials who came forward about the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine seem to be just the beginning, according to Hill sources.
By Spencer Ackerman, Sam Brodey, Sam Stein - the daily beast
New potential whistleblowers are coming forward to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, two congressional sources tell The Daily Beast. They seem to be emboldened by the actions of the whistleblower whose explosive account of President Donald Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky about investigating Trump’s domestic political rivals ignited the impeachment inquiry. Another whistleblower is known to have come forward. Congressional investigators are currently vetting the new accounts they’ve received for credibility. Accordingly, knowledgeable sources would not discuss where in the government these new would-be whistleblowers come from, nor what they purport to have to say. It’s also unknown if their accounts are as significant as that of the intelligence whistleblower whose alarm over President Trump’s July 25 phone call sparked the impeachment probe. Investigators often encounter cranks as well as those with genuine knowledge of wrongdoing. Nor is it clear if these new ostensible whistleblowers have contacted any inspectors general, as the original two whistleblowers did. “There are clearly numerous whistleblowers out there and many people who possess firsthand relevant information who could come forward, and I expect some will,” said attorney Mark Zaid, who represents those two whistleblowers (and also represents The Daily Beast in freedom-of-information lawsuits). more...

By benjamin siegel, katherine faulders and conor finnegan
The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine has told House investigators that she was “incredulous” that she was removed based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” according to her reported prepared remarks at her deposition Friday before three House committees as part of their impeachment investigation. Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled in the spring, said she was told President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to remove her based on allegations by associates of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. "Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” she said, according to her opening statement reported by The New York Times and other news outlets. The Times posted the statement although it's not clear how much Yovanovitch read from it. Yovanovitch said, after being told in late April that she needed to leave immediately -- "to be on the next plane" -- she met with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. "He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018," according to the remarks. "He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause." "Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump," she said. "Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives," she said in the statement. "To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed." Yovanovitch , arrived on Capitol Hill earlier Friday surrounded by news cameras for the closed-door deposition with House committees looking into whether President Trump committed impeachable offenses in asking a foreign country to investigate his political rivals, according to multiple congressional officials with knowledge of the probe. more...

By Steven A. Cash
The Congress is now investigating various facets of the president’s political, business, and personal affairs, all in the context of impeachment. I suggest that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) consider looking to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as an organizing principle, and way to articulate why impeachment is moving forward, and how it can be framed. There is impassioned discussion (at least among Democrats) about what the focus of impeachment should be: a sharp focus on Ukraine, or a wider approach which encompasses the myriad potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” which the president may have committed: Ukraine extortion or bribery, Moscow building projects, contacts with Russian diplomats, the various wrongdoings of Trump foundation, accepting funds in the context of hotels throughout the world in exchange for policy change; funds spent on the inauguration, the use of undocumented workers at Trump properties… the list goes on and on. But perhaps the Congress (and the public), like the fabled blind men touching an elephant, are actually looking at various parts of a single whole. We have a set of laws for such a situation, and we should be thinking about them now: RICO. RICO provides powerful criminal penalties for persons who engage in a “pattern of racketeering activity” and who have a specified relationship to an “enterprise” that affects interstate or foreign commerce. Under the RICO statute, “racketeering activity” includes state offenses such as murder, robbery, extortion, and several other serious offenses, punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, and more than 100 serious federal offenses including extortion, interstate theft, narcotics violations, mail fraud fraud, securities fraud, currency reporting violations, certain immigration offenses, and terrorism related offenses. A “pattern” may be comprised of any combination of two or more of these state or federal crimes committed within a statutorily prescribed time period. The basic thrust of RICO is to address situations where the enterprise takes on a criminal life of its own. Although usually associated with organized crime (what the FBI used to call “La Cosa Nostra”), it has been used, with great success in a variety of situations. Rudy Giuliani, of course, the the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York was the great pioneer of the use of RICO. Why is RICO a good framework to think about Trump? RICO was originally conceived to recognize (in the economic sphere) that organization crime was particularly significant. Congress said: “What is needed here . . . are new approaches that will deal not only with individuals, but also with the economic base through which those individuals constitute such a serious threat to the economic well-being of the Nation. In short, an attack must be made on their source of economic power itself, and the attack must take place on all available fronts.” more...

By Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe
At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter. The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president. At the time, the officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; subsequent efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to promote Ukraine-related conspiracies; as well as signals in meetings at the White House that Trump wanted the new government in Kiev to deliver material that might be politically damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Those concerns soared in the call’s aftermath, officials said. Within minutes, senior officials including national security adviser John Bolton were being pinged by subordinates about problems with what the president had said to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Bolton and others scrambled to obtain a rough transcript that was already being “locked down” on a highly classified computer network. “When people were listening to this in real time there were significant concerns about what was going on — alarm bells were kind of ringing,” said one person familiar with the sequence of events inside the White House, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. “People were trying to figure out what to do, how to get a grasp on the situation.” It is unclear whether some or all of the officials who complained to Eisenberg are also the ones who later spoke to the whistleblower. The accounts are sharply at odds with Trump’s depiction of the call as a “perfect” exchange in which he “did nothing wrong,” despite appearing to link U.S. support for Ukraine to that country’s willingness to investigate the family of the former vice president. On Thursday, Trump renewed his attacks on Twitter, describing the impeachment inquiry as a “Democrat Scam.” But new details about the sequence inside the White House suggest that concerns about the call and events leading up to it were profound even among Trump’s top advisers, including Bolton and then-acting deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman. Bolton and Kupperman did not respond to requests for comment. Officials said that within hours of the 9 a.m. conversation, a rough transcript compiled by aides had been moved from a widely shared White House computer network to one normally reserved for highly classified intelligence operations. According to the whistleblower’s complaint, White House lawyers “directed” officials to move the transcript to the classified system. At the same time, officials were seeking ways to report what they had witnessed, an undertaking complicated by the lack of a White House equivalent to the inspector general positions found at other agencies. more...

By Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Rick Perry became the latest member of President Donald Trump's cabinet to be subpoenaed by House Democrats in the rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry. Perry on Thursday was subpoenaed by the three House committees — Oversight, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs — leading the investigation into whether Trump abused his power by pushing Ukraine to investigate political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden. The subpoena demands a number of documents pertaining to Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the president pushed for a Biden investigation, and Perry's potential role in reinforcing that request during a trip to Ukraine. The committees gave until Oct. 18. The subpoena also demands documents detailing Perry's role, outlined in news reports, in changing the management structure at a Ukrainian energy company, a move that may hold benefits for officials working with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. "Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President’s stark message to the Ukrainian President," the chairmen of the committees wrote in the subpoena. They continued: "These reports have also raised significant questions about your efforts to press Ukrainian officials to change the management structure at a Ukrainian state-owned energy company to benefit individuals involved with Rudy Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to interfere in our 2020 election." Perry first became wrapped up in the impeachment inquiry when he was mentioned in the anonymous whistleblower complaint, which brought Trump's call with the Ukrainian president to light. In mid-May, the whistleblower learned from U.S. officials, Trump instructed Vice President Mike Pence to cancel his plans to attend Zelensky’s May 20 inauguration. Perry went instead. more...

By Caroline Kelly
(CNN) - George Conway, husband to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, slammed the White House's letter refusing to cooperate in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry as "an excuse to prevent evidence, damning evidence, from reaching the public."
"This was trash," Conway said to former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara that was recorded for Bharara's "Stay Tuned with Preet" podcast airing Thursday and shared in advance by Bharara on CNN Wednesday ngiht. "The thrust of (the letter) is that there are some kind of constitutional obligations that the House has failed to meet that therefore render its impeachment inquiry illegitimate and unconstitutional, which is complete nonsense, because all the Constitution says is that the House has the sole power over impeachment," he added. The accusation from Conway -- a vocal conservative lawyer who's often at odds with his wife's boss, President Donald Trump -- come as the White House looks to put pressure on House Democrats for choosing not to hold a vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry. A vote is not officially needed because the Democratic caucus already has more legal authority compared to past impeachment inquiries. more...

By Justin Wise
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said his government would "happily" open an investigation into potential interference from Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election. The comments from Zelensky come more than two months after Trump asked the foreign president to look into matters related to Ukraine and the U.S. election during a phone call between the two leaders. The phone call is at the center of a whistleblower complaint that prompted an impeachment inquiry in the House. Speaking to reporters, Zelensky said Ukraine could not make a determination on whether it was involved in election interference without an investigation, according to The Associated Press. There is no evidence that suggests Ukraine committed any interference during the 2016 U.S. election. The U.S. intelligence community found that Russia sought to interfere in the election to hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and to help Trump. Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security adviser in the Trump administration, said last month that the assertion that Ukraine was responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was a "conspiracy theory" that has been "completely debunked." He added in an interview with ABC that he communicated this point to Trump while working in the administration. Bossert also blamed Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and other officials for pushing the theory. "At this point, I am deeply frustrated with what [Giuliani] and the legal team are doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president," Bossert said. "It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity let me just repeat that it has no validity." Giuliani has pushed back hard at Bossert, saying he doesn't know what he's talking about. During a July 25 phone call with Zelensky, Trump called on the Ukrainian president to look into matters related to CrowdStrike — a U.S.-based internet security company that initially examined the breach of the DNC servers in 2016 — after the Ukrainian leader asked about buying U.S. anti-tank missiles. "I would like you to do us a favor though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it," Trump said, according to a White House memorandum of the call. CrowdStrike determined in 2016 that Russian agents broke into the DNC's network and stole emails that were later released by WikiLeaks. Trump's broad effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son prompted House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry last month. more...

By Jeremy Stahl
The White House efforts to obstruct Congress’ impeachment investigation reached new and dramatic heights both on the Hill and in federal court on Tuesday. In a story that garnered widespread attention, the State Department in the morning blocked a critical witness in Congress’ impeachment inquiry from testifying about President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and potentially tie critical military aid to those investigations. Meanwhile, in a less-noticed federal court hearing later in the day, the Department of Justice sought to block the release of the remaining redacted materials of the Mueller report and underlying evidence from Congress, arguing that if Watergate happened today, it would be able to prevent the release of grand jury evidence to Congress and the public. To keep the evidence from Congress, the Justice Department is seeking to overturn a critical Nixon-era case that allowed the Watergate grand jury to turn over evidence to congressional investigators as part of an impeachment inquiry. The government’s “extraordinary position” made Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the District Court for the District of Columbia say, “Wow.” The exasperated moment came as part of a hearing on the House Judiciary Committee’s request for Howell to issue an order commanding the DOJ to turn over the remaining redacted portions of the Mueller report along with critical underlying evidence. The precedent in question rests on the 1974 case Haldeman v. Sirica. In March 1974, shortly after Congress initiated its impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon, then-Chief Judge John Sirica, ordered materials from the Watergate grand jury turned over to Congress in what would come to be known as the “Watergate road map” for impeachment. Defendants accused of and eventually convicted for trying to cover up Watergate argued that Rule 6(E) of the federal code governing grand juries, which lays out limited exceptions that allow the disclosure of grand jury materials, prevented the release. Sirica ruled that an impeachment, as a judicial proceeding, qualified as one of those exceptions and thus the materials had to be released to Congress. more... - Barr is protecting Trump.

By CNN
(CNN) - In the White House's letter to congressional Democrats, President Donald Trump's lawyers say the President and his administration won't cooperate in an ongoing impeachment inquiry, arguing the proceedings amount to an illegitimate effort to overturn the 2016 election results. more...

By Richard Cowan, David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Tuesday it would refuse to cooperate with a “baseless, unconstitutional” congressional impeachment inquiry, setting Republican President Donald Trump on a collision course with the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. In a letter to House Democratic leaders, White House lawyer Pat Cipollone cited in part the decision by lawmakers to proceed without a full vote of the House of Representatives. “You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” he said, adding House Democrats had left Trump “no choice.” “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” he said. The letter came shortly after the Trump administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before a congressional impeachment inquiry. The U.S. State Department said the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, a Trump political donor, would not be allowed to appear, even though he had already flown from Europe to do so. Trump decried the Democratic-led inquiry into whether he abused his office in the pursuit of personal political gain as a “kangaroo court.” Democratic lawmakers denounced the effort to block Sondland’s testimony, calling it an attempt to obstruct their inquiry and said they would subpoena Sondland, to compel him to submit to questions. The State Department did not respond to requests for comment on why Sondland had been blocked from speaking to lawmakers just hours before his scheduled appearance. The move and subsequent letter were the White House’s most aggressive responses yet to the inquiry, which has cast a pall over Trump’s campaign to win back the White House in 2020. A whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, prompted the inquiry. more...

By DARREN SAMUELSOHN
A federal judge signaled Tuesday that she might give House Democrats access to some of Robert Mueller’s remaining secrets. During a two-plus hour hearing, Beryl Howell, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court, pointedly challenged the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March. Grand jury material is protected by law, but judges can release information under special circumstances. If Howell ultimately rules in Democrats’ favor, it would represent a major legal victory for them that could help expand Congress’s impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. While the probe initially started earlier this year with a broader focus on Mueller’s findings, the Democrats in recent weeks have homed in on the president’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. Howell on Tuesday said that under both Supreme Court and federal appellate court precedent, she must give “enormous deference” to House Democrats and their interest in the grand jury materials because of their impeachment inquiry. She even indicated that the impeachment probe was a precursor for releasing the Mueller materials. The judge, an appointee of President Barack Obama, didn’t issue an opinion Tuesday in the Democrats’ three-month lawsuit, but her comments offered the House a glimmer of hope that it may still get to see several blacked-out words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and entire pages from the report Mueller released in April summarizing his probe. During Tuesday’s hearing, the top lawyer for the Democrats told Howell that the House impeachment inquiry still includes issues tied to the Mueller probe and hasn’t just been whittled down to Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine into launching investigations of his political opponents. "I can't emphasize enough — it’s not just Ukraine," House counsel Doug Letter said, adding that the Judiciary Committee "could easily" adopt articles of impeachment against Trump that deal with the Mueller-related themes of obstruction of justice and election interference. House Democrats filed their initial lawsuit seeking the Mueller grand jury materials in late July, arguing that they need to peer behind hundreds of redactions from Mueller’s nearly 450-page report to help them determine whether Trump and other key witnesses have been telling the truth in their sworn testimony. One example Letter gave Tuesday was the president’s public statements claiming that his former top White House lawyer, Don McGahn, lied to Mueller’s investigators. If the Democrats determine Trump wasn’t telling the truth, it could end up being another impeachment article against him, Letter said. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - Washington's impeachment battle over President Donald Trump's conduct with Ukraine is intensifying with news of a second whistleblower while new testimony this week brings the prospect of more stunning revelations to deepen the crisis. Yet nearly all Republicans, taking advantage of a congressional recess, are staying silent despite more and more evidence that the President used his power to pressure a foreign nation for personal political gain. Most of the few Republicans who have broken cover are struggling to come up with a logical defense of the President's actions — but his grip on the GOP is evident in the unwillingness of most to criticize him. And the President's assault on former GOP nominee and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney -- who he branded as a "pompous 'ass'" is underscoring the price Republicans will pay for rebuking the commander in chief. Trump is meanwhile hyping rallies this week in Minnesota and Louisiana that are likely to stress his powerful support among his base and will hike new pressure on any wavering Republicans before most of them return to Washington next week. The weekend's political exchanges suggested that despite a week of barely believable drama, Trump's feverish efforts are having some success in stopping any serious slippage in support among Republican lawmakers, especially ahead of any eventual Senate impeachment trial. But recent developments also sharpen the core questions at stake in the impeachment saga that are critical to the office of the presidency going forward and US democracy itself. Given the evidence that is already public, the question is becoming — is it permissible for a President to use his power, sometimes even in public — to pressure foreign governments to investigate political opponents before an election? There is a sense that the history with which future generations will judge today's leaders is being written every day. more...

By JAKE SHERMAN, ANNA PALMER, GARRETT ROSS and ELI OKUN
MAYBE SO, MAYBE NOT!, SYRIA EDITION: SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA.) to Sarah Ferris today in a quiet Capitol about President DONALD TRUMP’S plan to pull out of Syria: “I understand he’s reconsidering. I do not think we should abandon the Kurds.” IF YOU LISTEN TO THE WHITE HOUSE, and the parade of people who say they are close to TRUMP, the president does not want to be impeached, because he sees it as a stain on his legacy. BUT, at this point, the Republicans’ strategy is actually making it more likely the president will swiftly be impeached in the House -- though a conviction in the Senate is, of course, another story. AFTER U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. David Sondland was blocked by the Trump administration from testifying on Capitol Hill (read Kyle Cheney), House Intel Chairman ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) said this: “the failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress. A co-equal branch of government.” IN OTHER WORDS: Democrats feel like they can ring TRUMP up right now on charges that he is directing his administration to block Congress. TRUMP’S reason for blocking testimony and document production is that he doesn’t like the process Democrats are using -- a function of Democrats being in the majority. BUT … IF REPUBLICANS HAVE SUCCEEDED in anything in this impeachment process, it’s this: They have forced everyone to talk about process, not substance. REPUBLICANS WHO ARE TAKING THE LEAD in defending TRUMP say the reason the president won’t hand over witnesses is because Schiff’s process is akin to a kangaroo court. Democrats are being forced onto procedural grounds because of the president’s blocking of Sondland. “WE UNDERSTAND THE REASON why the State Department decided not to have Ambassador Sondland appear today,” Rep. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) said this morning. “It’s based on the unfair and partisan process that Mr. Schiff has been running. You think about what the Democrats are trying to do: impeach the president of the United States 13 months prior to an election based on an anonymous whistleblower with no first-hand knowledge who has a bias against the president.” -- KEEPING TRACK: The president had this team defending him today in the Capitol: Reps. Mark Meadows (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.). They answered questions. Schiff spoke to reporters, and didn’t answer questions this time. THE DANGER FOR THE PRESIDENT … NOT WHAT THE NRCC’S TOUTING! -- WAPO’S DAN BALZ and SCOTT CLEMENT: “Poll: Majority of Americans say they endorse opening of House impeachment inquiry of Trump”: “The poll finds that, by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans say the House was correct to undertake the inquiry. Among all adults, 49 percent say the House should take the more significant step to impeach the president and call for his removal from office. Another 6 percent say they back the start of the inquiry but do not favor removing Trump from office, with the remainder undecided about the president’s ultimate fate. The results among registered voters are almost identical. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - Less than an hour before he was scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday regarding his role in the pressure campaign against Ukraine, the State Department banned US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from appearing before the committee. "Ambassador Sondland is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today," said the ambassador's lawyer in a statement. "Ambassador Sondland hopes that the issues raised by the State Department that preclude his testimony will be resolved promptly." That last-minute decision by the State Department seems directly at odds with President Donald Trump's repeated insistence that his phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was "perfect" and that he retained the "absolute right" to ask foreign countries to investigate corruption. If Trump -- and, by extension, his State Department -- are completely certain they were acting appropriately, why keep Sondland from testifying to that effect? If there is truly nothing to hide here and everything that Trump and his people did was "perfect," why not let Sondland tell that story? Could it be that Sondland, in several text exchanges with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who testified before the Intelligence Committee last week, seems to resist putting anything other than Trump talking points in writing when questioned about whether there was an unstated quid pro quo to force Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter? Remember this text exchange from early September between Sondland and Bill Taylor, a US diplomat in Ukraine: Taylor: Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations? Sondland: Call me. Did Taylor call? What did Sondland say to him on that call? What was Taylor's reaction? Was he convinced that there was no aid-for-investigation deal? If so, what convinced him? Those are just a few of the important questions Sondland would have had to answer in his testimony today. And again, if the administration believes -- truly believes -- it has nothing to hide, then why not let Sondland talk? If nothing was wrong and more transparency will show how "perfect" Trump's handling of the Zelensky call truly was, then why not shine as bright a light as possible on Sondland's actions? (Sidebar: This is the exact same argument I made when Trump debated for months whether or not to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller. If you have nothing at all to hide, it is in your best interest to get all the facts out and answer every possible question, right? Right!) more...

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee, which is demanding the grand jury evidence behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The panel subpoenaed the evidence as part of the wide-ranging impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, who calls the inquiry a partisan witch hunt. The Judiciary Committee is focusing on potential obstruction of justice, as described in 10 episodes in the Mueller report. But Attorney General William Barr redacted grand jury evidence from the report and argued against disclosing it under the subpoena. U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, chief judge for the D.C. district who oversees the grand jury, is hearing the case. Her ruling could resolve a key dispute about the status of the House's investigation of Trump. Six committees have been conducting investigations of Trump since Democrats regained control of the chamber in January. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Sept. 24 that all of the inquiries now fall under the umbrella of a formal impeachment investigation and that no floor vote is necessary. But Republicans have argued that only the full House can authorize an impeachment inquiry. Mueller’s 22-month investigation found no conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia, despite that country's sweeping and systematic effort to influence the 2016 election. But the report released in April outlined potential obstruction when Trump tried to thwart the special counsel inquiry and have Mueller removed. Mueller made no decision about whether to charge Trump with obstruction because Justice Department policy forbids charging a president while in office. The Judiciary Committee subpoenaed grand jury evidence to explore Trump’s knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the election, the president’s knowledge of potential criminal acts by his campaign or administration, and actions taken by former White House counsel Don McGahn. The Mueller report described episodes when Trump directed McGahn to remove the special counsel, which McGahn ignored. “The full Mueller report provides an essential roadmap for the committee’s efforts to uncover all facts relevant to Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election and to any attempts by the president to prevent Congress from learning the truth about those attacks along with their aftermath,” said the legal filing by Douglas Letter, general counsel for the House. “The committee’s interest in obtaining a limited disclosure of these materials far outweighs any interests in secrecy.” The House included a 1974 letter from the Watergate era as an exhibit. Rep. Peter Rodino, D-N.Y., who was then head of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica asking for grand jury materials in the investigation of President Richard Nixon. Rodino cited a House vote of 410-4 to authorize an impeachment investigation. The Justice Department has argued against releasing the grand jury evidence behind Mueller's report. In a written filing, the department said a “minuscule” 0.1% of the report dealing with potential obstruction of justice was redacted. And the department said releasing the evidence could hurt pending cases that grew out of the Mueller investigation. more...

By Emily Tillett, Kathryn Watson, Stefan Becket, Grace Segers
Washington -- U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was scheduled to be interviewed by Congress Tuesday as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, was ordered not to appear for his deposition by the the State Department, according to a statement issued by his attorney. Sondland was mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint and a key witness to the Trump-Ukraine dealings. Sondland's lawyer, Robert Luskin said in the statement that Sondland "is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today" and went on to say that the ambassador had traveled from Brussels for the testimony and made arrangements with the Joint Committee staff to appear. Sondland "believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States" and remains ready to testify "on short notice," Luskin said. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters on Tuesday that Sondland was in possession of documents on his "personal device" related to Ukraine which the State Department is withholding from the committee. "The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress," Schiff said. Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is considering "extraordinary moves" to protect the whistleblower's identity in a still-unscheduled upcoming interview, according to one lawmaker. "We have to take all precautions, because we cannot burn his or her identity," Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi told CBS News. The potential measures -- including obscuring the whistleblower's appearance and voice -- were first reported by The Washington Post on Monday. more...

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