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"Seeking liberty and truth above suppression and mendacity!"
"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 White House Page 10

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - President Donald Trump, facing an ever-deepening scandal that threatens to swallow his presidency, appears to have lost a key ally in conservative media: The Drudge Report. The narrative-setting news aggregation website, founded in 1995 by Matt Drudge, has spotlighted an overwhelming amount of negative news for the Trump White House in the last several weeks. It's marked a major shift from how the outlet had previously covered the President. "He's reacting to changing circumstances," a person close to the media mogul, who said Drudge had grown exasperated with Trump, told CNN Business. This should worry Trump as he faces an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives for pushing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential contender, and Biden's son Hunter.  In the coming weeks and months, right-wing media will be crucial to whether Trump is able to survive the growing scandal. If he loses support in that space, it would offer Republicans wiggle room to turn on him, which could endanger his presidency. Drudge, who did not return requests for comment, is especially influential in conservative media, having the ability to shape or even create news cycles. Drudge's website has for years helped set the agenda and worked as a gravitational force that has drawn other media outlets to his preferred narrative. The power he has wielded has led observers to characterize him as the de-facto assignment editor of the conservative media. "He's one of the dominoes that would have to fall for the right-wing media to allow Trump to be removed from office," said John Ziegler, a conservative who was an occasional guest host on Drudge's old radio show and writes columns on media for Mediaite. Drudge rarely reports or writes stories himself. Instead, he and his site serve as an aggregator, linking to other news organizations — and often providing them with large volumes of traffic. Drudge's views can be ascertained by looking at which stories he links to and how he frames those stories with his headlines. Previously, Trump could count on Drudge to be in his corner. During the 2016 presidential election, and in the early days of the Trump administration, Drudge was a fervent supporter. On the Drudge Report, Trump could do no wrong. The sun was almost always shining.  There were signs that the honeymoon period was wearing thin in the summer of 2017, but despite some wobbliness in their relationship, Drudge ultimately seemed to be staying loyal to the President. At least until now. Not only is Drudge's website aggressively covering the impeachment news, it is doing so by featuring commentary from some of the president's fiercest critics or the harshest criticism of him. For instance, on Friday the top link on the Drudge Report, colored in red, was a link to Fox News judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano calling Trump's behavior "criminal and impeachable." Other links Drudge featured that day included Fox host Shepard Smith suggesting Trump may have violated the law on live television and "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd saying the current scandal is a "national nightmare." The change in tone toward Trump hasn't gone unnoticed. Jim Hoft, the founder of the right-wing Gateway Pundit blog, recently published a blog post asking, "What Happened to Matt Drudge?" Contending that the website had taken a "pro-impeachment slant," Hoft wrote, "Dear Matt Drudge -- Please come home." Jerome Corsi, a prominent right-wing conspiracy theorist, has repeatedly tweeted about the change in coverage, saying Drudge has "lost his mind," "turned left," and become a "leftist hack beating [the] impeachment drum."

By Evan Perez, Michael Warren, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
Washington (CNN)Even as the White House appears to settle on the legal tactics to stave off Democrats' impeachment demands, uncertainty and unease over Trump's messaging approach remains high among his Republican allies, who see the ever-growing inquiry consuming the White House. Trump has offered scant indication he is turning his focus to governing, despite his lawyers writing in a letter to Democrats that "he remains focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people." Instead, the President has spent hours tweeting about the impeachment and lighting up the phone lines of his allies on Capitol Hill -- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to whom he's stressed the importance of Republican unity. In private, Trump is increasingly leaning on the Republican leader in the Senate. In a return to the President's panicked behavior during the height of the Mueller investigation, Trump is calling McConnell as often as three times a day, according to a person familiar with the conversations. McConnell has told a small number of Republicans about the President's calls. "This story, based on a single anonymous source, is categorically false. Leader McConnell never said anything like this," Doug Andres, a McConnell spokesman, said. Trump has been lashing out at GOP senators he sees as disloyal, according to the person familiar with the conversations, telling McConnell he will amplify attacks on those Republicans who criticize him. McConnell faces his own dilemma of having to preserve the Republican majority in the Senate, while also placating an erratic President who demands nothing short of total loyalty. That will become harder as more details about Trump's dealings with Ukraine trickle out. Trump has already demonstrated his willingness to go after Republican defectors. After Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said it was "wrong and appalling" for Trump to suggest Ukraine and China investigate Joe Biden, Trump unloaded, calling Romney a "pompous ass" and suggesting Romney himself be impeached. Trump has also been mistrustful of Republicans who are reticent to defend him publicly, often lamenting that Democrats are much better at staying in line with their party heads than his own.

By Jason Lemon
A former prosecutor who previously defended President Donald Trump's attorney general, William Barr, said on Wednesday that he was "flat-out wrong" and that he was "deeply disappointed." "I had said for months that...Barr was a principled institutionalist," said Chuck Rosenberg, who previously served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia as well as the Southern District of Texas, during a segment of MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I was flat-out wrong," he continued. "I had it wrong. I have been deeply disappointed by what I've seen." Rosenberg said the "first thing" that really "shook" him was when he saw Barr's "mischaracterization" of special counsel Robert Mueller's final report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. "Once that lie is out there, it's really hard for the truth to catch up," said the former prosecutor, who also served in the Obama and Trump administrations as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "We saw that with the Mueller report," Rosenberg said, noting that people "still don't understand" what was found in the investigation. Democrats, and some conservatives, were highly critical of the attorney general's handling of the release of Mueller's report. Even members of Mueller's investigatory team expressed their frustration with Barr's actions, and the former special counsel himself urged Barr to move more rapidly to release significant portions of the document to avoid the spread of misinformation.

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. - Barr is protecting Trump.

Trump Boasted That His Border Wall Was 'Virtually Impenetrable.' Then an 8-Year-Old Girl Climbed a Replica
By Tara Law
When President Donald Trump announced that his signature wall at the U.S.’s southern border would be “virtually impenetrable” while visiting San Diego last month, Rick Weber, who co-founded the Muir Valley rock climbing park in Rogers, Kentucky, was listening. “You don’t tell a bona fide rock climber something’s impossible to climb,” Weber tells TIME. Weber took the President’s claim as a challenge. He says he constructed his own replica of the wall, relying on the wall’s official dimensions as well as recent images of the structure. This weekend, Weber is planning to invite climbers attending the “Rocktoberfest” rock climbing festival at the nearby Red River Gorge canyon system in Kentucky to climb the model. Guests will be challenged to compete to climb up and over the wall in the fastest time. Several people have already managed to climb up the wall replica, including 8-year-old Lucy Hancock. Hancock didn’t use any ropes or other tools to climb the wall, but wore a belay, a safety device designed to catch a falling climber. An adult climber, Erik Kloeker, was up and over the wall in about 40 seconds. Lucy’s mother, Karla Hancock, tells TIME that her daughter has shown a natural inclination toward politics and rock climbing from a young age. Recently, Karla says Lucy has been interested in immigration, although the third-grader has found the national dialogue about immigration policy to be confusing. “To her, it’s black and white: If somebody’s hungry, and you have the means to give to them, why couldn’t you?” Hancock says.

By Morgan Chalfant
President Trump on Wednesday criticized the Kurds, saying they didn't help the United States during World War II and that they were only fighting for their land in Syria during the battle against ISIS. “The Kurds are fighting for their land,” Trump told reporters at the White House during an event in the Roosevelt Room. “And as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example. They mentioned names of different battles. But they’re there to help us with their land and that’s a different thing.” Trump did not specify to which article he was referring, but some on Twitter pointed to an article written in TownHall by conservative Kurt Schlichter that included a reference to the Kurds and Normandy. The remarks from Trump at the White House came as Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish forces that had been allied with the United States in the fight on terror. Trump paved the way for the Turkish offensive when he announced earlier this week, to a GOP furor, that he was withdrawing U.S. forces from that part of Syria. Some of Trump's staunchest Republican allies have ripped the move, calling it a betrayal of a loyal U.S. ally in the Kurds. Trump insisted the U.S. has spent “tremendous amounts of money” helping the Kurds purchase ammunition and weapons.

The ambassador was responding to the senior diplomat's remark that it would be “crazy” to link Ukraine assistance to help with a political campaign.
By Josh Lederman, Heidi Przybyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell
Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland consulted directly with President Donald Trump before telling the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine that there had been "no quid pro quo” regarding the administration's pressure campaign on the country and urging the diplomat to stop texting about his concerns, a person with knowledge of the call confirmed to NBC News. Sondland spoke to Trump by phone on Sept. 9 before responding to acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor's remark that it would be “crazy” to link Ukraine assistance to help with a political campaign, the person said. When Sondland responded several hours later, he told Taylor that Trump had been “crystal clear” that there had been no quid pro quo. The conversation between Trump and Sondland was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The Trump administration's alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son while the U.S. withheld military aid to the country have given rise to an impeachment investigation in the House. According to the individual and two congressional aides, Sondland, Taylor and former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker also used the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp, in addition to regular text messages, to communicate about the administration's Ukraine efforts. The use of WhatsApp has raised questions about the potential problems it could pose for complying with federal record-keeping requirements. Volker turned over a score of text messages to Congress last week as part of his joint deposition to three House committees leading the chamber's impeachment investigation. House Democrats made some of those text messages public, and congressional officials say they have more text messages between the three administration officials that have not been released. Sondland, who has emerged as a central player in Trump's bid to persuade Ukraine’s new government to commit publicly to investigate corruption and the president's political opponents, was scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday by the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry, but was barred from doing so by the State Department. A statement distributed by his attorney, Robert Luskin, on Tuesday made clear that the State Department was blocking Sondland from testifying over his objections. The statement said Sondland was “profoundly disappointed” he couldn’t testify, having traveled to Washington from Brussels to do so. Sondland was ready to testify “on short notice” once the State Department’s concerns about his testimony are resolved, Luskin said.

Trump, Pentagon Have No Contingency Plan for ISIS Jailbreakers As Turkey Attacks U.S. Allies in Syria
By W.J. Hennigan and John Walcott October 9, 2019
As Turkish warplanes bomb U.S.-backed Kurdish allies in northeastern Syria, the Trump Administration has yet to draw up a strategy to safeguard and maintain the more than 30 detention camps that hold tens of thousands of ISIS fighters, families and sympathizers spread across the region. The Kurds, part of the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, control facilities holding about 11,000 ISIS detainees across northern Syria. They also run a camp for internally displaced persons known as al-Hol, in northeastern Syria, that holds nearly 70,000 people. Among them are thousands of ISIS family members, according to a recent Defense Department Inspector General’s report. The U.S. military has no plans to take over these camps and, with only about 1,000 total troops inside Syria, is not prepared to do so, U.S. officials told TIME. If the Kurds abandon their guard posts to defend their homes against the Turkish military incursion, thousands of ISIS operatives are likely to escape, U.S. military, diplomatic and intelligence officials have concluded. Past and present U.S. military commanders have shared that assessment directly with President Donald Trump, but he has rebuffed the warnings and demanded that Turkey take control of the camps, the officials say. Most of the camps remain outside the area that Turkey is expected to occupy, and the Kurds have said they will remain in control over the detainees. But that may prove difficult if fighting in their home territory intensifies. In early 2018, hundreds of Kurds opted to abandon fighting positions against ISIS in eastern Syria to assist Kurdish forces fighting Turkish military in another skirmish in Afrin, in northwestern Syria.

By Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Rudolph Giuliani’s ties to Ukraine stretch back to at least 2008, when he announced that his firm was advising a former boxing champion who was running to be mayor of the capital city of Kiev. Then, in 2017, about a year before President Donald Trump hired him to be his personal attorney, Giuliani Safety & Security began working for the city of Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine. Press releases described the firm as a consultant on Kharkiv's emergency response and security issues. Giuliani’s emergence as a central figure in an effort to push Ukraine to investigate Trump’s potential presidential rival – a scandal that has led to an impeachment inquiry – has raised fresh questions about the former New York City mayor’s business ties and public appearances in Ukraine and other countries. One possible line of inquiry – and one that Senate Democrats have been pushing – is whether Giuliani's activities violate a federal law that requires Americans who work on behalf of foreign governments to register with the Justice Department. This comes as the Justice Department has stepped up its use of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, an 80-year-old law that Democrats say Giuliani may be violating. Once toothless and antiquated, the statute found its way into the public consciousness in the last two years at the height of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and has been used to prosecute several people, including two men who once were close Trump advisers. The ramped-up enforcement has dramatically changed the landscape not only for lobbyists for foreign governments, but also for others with foreign clients: international law firms, consultants and public relations specialists who, for years, have ignored FARA, experts say. Some don't register because of the administrative burden and the stigma of being labeled a “foreign agent,” experts say. Parties also avoid registering in order to keep relationships with foreign governments and officials secret.

By Dan Mangan
A counterterrorism analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested Wednesday on federal charges that he leaked top secret and other classified information — including details of a foreign country’s weapons systems — to two reporters in 2018 and this year. The worker, Henry Kyle Frese, 30, held top-secret clearance at the DIA, where he began as a contractor in January 2017, and eventually became a full-time employee. One of the journalists who allegedly received secret information from Frese had apparently been involved in a romantic relationship with him, authorities said. That reporter ended up writing at least eight articles based on at least five compromised intelligence reports leaked by Frese, according to a criminal indictment. Frese retweeted a link to the first article that reporter wrote based on information he had allegedly leaked to her, the indictment says. “Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security. An indictment alleges that Frese accessed classified intelligence reports, some which were not connected to his job duties, in spring 2018 and provided top-secret information about another country’s weapons systems to a journalist who lived at the same Alexandria, Virginia, residential address as Frese. The Justice Department said that “based on reviews” of the public social media pages of Frese and that reporter, “it appears that they were involved in a romantic relationship for some or all of that period of time” in which Frese allegedly leaked the information to her. “The unauthorized disclosure of TOP SECRET information could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security of the United States,” the Justice Department said in a press release announcing Frese’s indictment in U.S. District Court in Virginia.

By John Fritze and David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – China has reportedly rejected President Donald Trump's request to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, with officials saying the country doesn't want to get involved in U.S. domestic politics. “We have no intention of intervening in the domestic affairs of the United States. Our position is consistent and clear," China foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a report in the South China Morning Post, the main English-language newspaper in Hong Kong. Already under investigation for asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, Trump on Thursday said on the South Lawn of the White House that China should also investigate his political foe. "By the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine," Trump told reporters.

by John Fritze and Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump brushed aside warnings from the United Nations on Wednesday that the 74-year-old organization risks being unable to pay its staff and bills if member nations don't cough up their annual dues soon. The biggest delinquent payer in the world? The United States. Washington owes the U.N. $381 million in back payments and $674 million this year, according to the U.S. mission to the U.N. As the largest contributor to the 193-member organization, the U.S. has long sought to pressure the U.N. to rein in spending. Trump, who has openly questioned the value of the U.N., has made skepticism of multinational organizations a central component of his foreign policy. Trump has demanded European countries contribute more to NATO and has pressed allies in Asia and the Middle East to rely less on U.S. military might and spend more on their own security. Responding to reports of deep U.N. budget deficits, Trump returned to the theme. "So make all Member Countries pay, not just the United States!" he wrote Wednesday. U.N. officials say 129 countries have paid their 2019 dues, two-thirds of all members. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said that nearly $2 billion has been paid to the organization this year and that the outstanding balance for other countries amounts to another $1.3 billion. Dujarric described the financial situation as "the worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade" and said it "runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors."

By Justine Coleman
More than 100 progressive Christian leaders signed a statement supporting the impeachment inquiry and a National Day of Prayer Sunday to "reveal the truth." The Red Letter Christians, a justice-focused movement, initiated the petition after hosting a revival last weekend in Goldsboro, N.C., according to the group's website. The statement calls for Christian leaders to support the impeachment inquiry launched in Congress last month. The Christian leaders are urging their congregations to pray for the members of Congress and invite them to services this Sunday while they are in their home districts. "We welcome the light of truth, honesty, and transparency that this moment affords our country, whatever may be revealed," the signed statement reads. "We call for an open inquiry that shines light on this administration’s dealings behind closed doors and petition people of faith and integrity to join us in calling forth this light." The statement calls the controversy surrounding the president's dealings with Ukraine as "not a matter of partisanship, but of deepest principle." It says there has been enough evidence to show the allegations are "both serious and credible."

By Jessica Taylor
Former Vice President Joe Biden called for President Trump's impeachment and removal from office, on Wednesday. Up until now, Biden had reserved judgment, saying he supported the House's impeachment inquiry and wanted to see what the facts showed. But in a campaign speech in Rochester, N.H., Biden was unequivocal, saying that "to preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, [Trump] should be impeached." Biden said the case was already clear before the public. "With his words and his actions, President Trump has indicted himself. By obstructing justice, refusing to comply with the congressional inquiry, he's already convicted himself," Biden said. "In full view of the world and the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts." Biden later argued that "impeachment isn't only about what the president has done — it's about the threat the president poses to the nation if allowed to remain in office." Accordingly, Biden said, Congress should remove him before voters go to polls to choose the president on Election Day next year. Biden and his family were the subject of an effort by Trump to request political assistance from the government of Ukraine that was connected to U.S. military assistance and offers of engagement with Trump himself. Trump, his aides and some State Department diplomats were involved with an effort to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch investigations into Biden's family and into a conspiracy theory believed by Trump about the political interference in the 2016 presidential race. Trump has defended the propriety of those actions and also called for the government of China to investigate the Biden family, too. Trump and his supporters have sought to call attention to what they call the questionable business dealings of Biden's son Hunter. The president mocked the Bidens on Wednesday on Twitter in a response to the campaign speech.

Economists calculate richest 400 families in US paid an average tax rate of 23% while the bottom half of households paid a rate of 24.2%
By Dominic Rushe
They were billed as a “middle-class miracle” but according to a new book Donald Trump’s $1.5tn tax cuts have helped billionaires pay a lower rate than the working class for the first time in history. In 2018 the richest 400 families in the US paid an average effective tax rate of 23% while the bottom half of American households paid a rate of 24.2%, University of California at Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman calculate in their new book, The Triumph of Injustice. Taxes on the rich have been falling for decades. In 1960 the 400 richest families paid as much as 56% in taxes, by 1980 the rate had fallen to 40%. But Trump’s tax cuts – his most significant legislative victory – proved a tipping point. Thanks to the controversial tax package the top 0.1% of US households were granted a 2.5% tax cut that pushed their rate below that of the lower 50% of US earners. “This is a revolutionary change and the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country, as companies start competing for American labor, and as wages start going up at levels that you haven’t seen in many years,” Trump said in September 2017 as he fought to pass the tax package. But the tax cuts have not led to a significant uptick in economic growth, hiring has slowed and wage growth has remained lackluster. In the meantime the national deficit has swollen to $1tn.

By Andy Sullivan, Mark Hosenball, Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been traveling internationally to help investigate President Donald Trump’s complaints that his campaign was improperly targeted by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies during the 2016 presidential election. Democrats and some former law-enforcement officials say he is using the Justice Department to chase unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that could benefit Trump politically and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Mueller’s investigation found that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump, and led to criminal convictions of several former campaign aides. But Mueller concluded that he did not have enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy with Russia. Some potential witnesses say they will not cooperate voluntarily with the Barr probe, which was announced after several congressional committees, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog and another U.S. prosecutor launched their own reviews. That could pose problems for John Durham, the prosecutor tapped by Barr to lead the effort. WHAT IS BEING INVESTIGATED? Durham is examining whether U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies acted properly when they examined possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which ultimately led to Mueller’s investigation.

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.

By katherine faulders, justin fishel and anne flaherty
A White House official listening to President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president described the call as “crazy” and “frightening” and was “visibly shaken,” according to notes taken by the intelligence official who filed a formal whistleblower complaint after speaking with the official, and others. ABC News has learned that the two-page memo, written by the whistleblower a day after Trump’s call, suggests that at least one aide to the president feared that Trump’s own words in the call were damning. According to a rough transcript of the call released by the White House, Trump asked Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation into a political opponent, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his son. The notes were based on a brief conversation between the whistleblower and the White House official and described “highlights” from the president’s call. The document was later provided to the intelligence community’s inspector general, who reviewed the whistleblower’s complaint. The IG has determined the complaint “appeared credible” and of “urgent concern.”  The White House had not responded to a request for comment. Trump has defended the call as acting on his duty as president to end corruption “even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries.” “This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens,” Trump tweeted Oct. 4. This does have to do with their corruption!”  Trump also has dismissed the whistleblower’s account of the phone call because he says the complaint was based on second-hand information. According to the IG report, the individual had both first and second-hand information. This week a second whistleblower has come forward with what that person’s lawyer describes as first-hand knowledge. “The President urged Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens and stated that [Trump's personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani would discuss this topic further with Zelenskiy during his trip to Kyiv,” the unnamed White House official told the first whistleblower, according to the notes.

By Naomi Jagoda
The Trump administration is considering rolling back an Obama-era tax rule aimed at cracking down on offshore tax deals, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the discussions. The news outlet reported that Treasury Department officials are weighing narrowing the regulations or repealing them and replacing them with new rules that would be more business-friendly. Bloomberg also reported that IRS Chief Counsel Michael Desmond has said that Treasury and the IRS are looking at addressing the rules in some way this fall. In 2016, then-President Obama's Treasury Department issued rules that were aimed at preventing U.S. companies from moving their headquarters overseas for tax purposes after merging with foreign companies — transactions known as corporate inversions. The rule Treasury is reportedly considering changing was designed to go after a tax-avoidance strategy companies often used after inverting known as "earnings stripping." Under this strategy, companies would move U.S. earnings to lower-tax countries through the use of debt. Business groups have long had issues with the rule, expressing concerns that it impacts transactions that have nothing to do with inversions. And Bloomberg reported that some critics of the rule have argued that it's no longer necessary in light of President Trump's 2017 tax law.

By Justine Coleman - The Hill
Billionaires paid less in taxes than the working class last year for the first time in U.S. history, a study found. Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found in their book-length study "The Triumph of Injustice" that the average tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was lower than the rate paid by the bottom half of American households in 2018, The Washington Post reported. The wealthiest 400 families had a 23 percent tax rate, compared to the bottom 50 percent, which had a 24.2 percent rate. The richest 400 families experienced a 47 percent tax rate in 1980 and a 56 percent tax rate in 1960, while the working class's tax rate has remained relatively stable, according to the Post.

A year ago, the U.S.’ surveillance court ruled that the FBI violated Americans’ privacy by broadly sifting through dragnets of intercepted communications.
By Spencer Ackerman
Some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s warrantless searches through the National Security Agency’s enormous troves of communications data violated the law and the Constitution, according to secret surveillance court rulings partially declassified on Tuesday. The bureau’s so-called backdoor searches, long regarded by civil libertarians as a government end-run around warrant requirements, were overly broad, the court found. They appear to have affected what a judge on the court called “a large number of individuals, including U.S. persons.” On one day in December 2017 alone, the court found, the FBI conducted 6,800 queries of the NSA databases using Social Security numbers. The government, in secret, conceded that there were “fundamental misunderstandings” among some FBI personnel over the standards necessary for the searches. The redacted ruling was kept secret for a year. It represented the latest legal battle over the scope of post-9/11 mass surveillance that affects American freedoms in the name of counterterrorism. It was one of several secret court documents released Tuesday by the ODNI. Judge James Boasberg of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court found last October that elements of FBI procedures for querying the databases and then purging irrelevant results–a mechanism to protect Americans’ privacy–“inconsistent with statutory minimization requirements and the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” which protects Americans against unreasonable searches. “On one day in December 2017 alone, the court found, the FBI conducted 6,800 queries of the NSA databases using Social Security numbers.” As early as March 2018, the FISA Court identified to the government that the FBI was not sufficiently documenting which of its queries were tied to people inside the United States, despite a statutory obligation to do so. Nor were the searches “reasonably designed” to find evidence of crimes or foreign spying. “Without such documentation and in view of reported instances of non-compliance with that standard, the procedures seemed unreasonable under FISA's definition of minimization procedures’ and possibly the Fourth Amendment,” Boasberg wrote. Boasberg’s ruling represented a rare defeat for the government before the FISA Court, and the government appealed it to the FISA Court of Review, another rarity. The appeals court sided with the lower court in July, and the FBI agreed to change its querying, documentation, and related procedures. The subsequent changes now require the FBI to explain why searching Americans’ data is necessary to find foreign-spying information or potential evidence of criminal activity, as well as to distinguish between its searches involving Americans and its searches involving foreigners. Civil libertarians questioned the ability of those changes to adequately protect American privacy.  

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.

By Tom Porter
US President Donald Trump is so paranoid about leakers in the White House that he has repeatedly suggested that all staff members should undergo a lie-detector test, Politico reported Tuesday. Four former administration staffers told the publication that Trump had often raised the possibility of making staff members and aides take a polygraph test after news stories with leaked information about his presidency appeared. "He talked about it a lot," a former official told the publication, adding that after reading and watching reports about his presidency, "he'd be angry and ask, 'Why can't we stop these things?'" "He wanted to polygraph every employee in the building to unearth who it was who spoke to the press," another former official told Politico. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, told Politico: "I have been with the president since July 2015 and can say unequivocally that I have never heard suggesting polygraphs as a way to stop leaks."

By CRISTIANO LIMA
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping new bipartisan report detailing Russian efforts to boost Donald Trump's White House bid on social media during the 2016 U.S. elections, dealing an indirect blow to a push by the president and his allies to shift focus toward claims of anti-Trump meddling by Ukraine. The report corroborates past findings by researchers and the intelligence community that the notorious Internet Research Agency troll farm, as the committee wrote, "sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton's chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin." The findings mark the second installment of the committee's five-part report outlining the scope of Russian election meddling in 2016, the result of an expansive investigation that has spanned over two years and included interviews with over 200 witnesses. The committee in July unveiled the first chapter, which detailed Russian efforts to attack state elections systems and spread disinformation. The second installment focuses on the Kremlin's documented attempts to sow political discord on social media. The report arrives as Trump and his allies have sought to publicly downplay the role the Kremlin played in the 2016 elections and amp up scrutiny of unsubstantiated theories that Ukraine may have sought to interfere to undermine the president's candidacy. Some Ukrainian officials have been linked to anti-Trump messaging going into the 2016 election, but there's no evidence of collusion between Ukraine and U.S. Democrats, as Trump and some of his associates have proposed. Such claims have played a key role in the House's rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry, which centers on Trump's efforts to have Ukraine investigate 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. Attorney General William Barr is also embarked on a probe into the origins of the Robert Mueller-led inquiry into Russian meddling, suggesting it may have been politically motivated rather than a sincere attempt to confront an actual threat. The report dispenses with deflections, however, and reiterates the widely held consensus that Russia launched a coordinated attack on the integrity of the 2016 election. It comes with the sign-off of the full Senate Intelligence Committee, including members like Trump-friendly Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), who have taken to the press to explain the president's questioning of Russian meddling and apparent invitations to Ukraine and China to investigate Biden as either jokes or legitimate fields of inquiry. And it stresses that the threat of foreign electioneering is far from over. The GOP-led panel outlined recommendations for how legislators, the federal government and tech companies can combat future online meddling, including calling on the Trump administration "reinforce with the public the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election." The committee called on candidates running for office and their campaigns to more carefully probe the information they share on social media to prevent the spread of election-related disinformation — an effort Democratic presidential candidates say has been under siege by Trump and his campaign’s postings on Ukraine and other issues. “It’s time for Trump to stop using Twitter to play into our adversaries’ hands,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who sits on Senate Intel, tweeted after the report debuted. “With every deranged tweet, he advances foreign interests by dividing Americans.”

Increasingly paranoid about leaks, the president has repeatedly mused about administering lie detector tests to White House officials.
By DANIEL LIPPMAN - Politico
President Donald Trump has compared White House leakers with spies and mused obliquely to other officials about executing them. He’s attacked reporters by name. He rails frequently against media accounts of his administration, dismissing them as “fake news.” But privately, the president is so obsessed with the leaks about him that he has frequently discussed whether to order polygraphs of White House staffers after major disclosures, according to four former White House officials — in what would be a stark and politically risky departure from past practice. Trump “constantly” talks about ordering polygraphs during major leaks, according to a former White House official. “He talked about it a lot,” the former official said. After reading and watching reports about his presidency, “He’d be angry and ask, ‘Why can’t we stop these things?’” “He wanted to polygraph every employee in the building to unearth who it was who spoke to the press,” said another former official, who noted that the president tends to be especially irate when he knows specific news accounts are true. Some White House staffers have even volunteered to take a polygraph, also called a lie-detector test, to prove their innocence after they were suspected of leaking, according to the former official. The new details of Trump’s repeated interest in polygraphing provide important context on the president’s state of mind as Democrats demand answers about the White House’s handling of records of his interactions with foreign leaders. A whistleblower has accused White House officials of improperly storing transcripts of the president’s phone calls in a system meant for highly classified intelligence secrets, including a conversation with the president of Ukraine that has set off a spiraling impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. Trump’s interest in polygraphing his own White House staffers began amid constant reports in the first six months of his presidency of infighting and his behind-closed-doors raging about various news stories — especially the Mueller investigation and how the firing of former FBI Director James Comey went down — according to the first former White House official. In particular, Trump has been upset about how certain call transcripts, draft executive orders and other palace intrigue stories have made their way to the media. Each time, aides all the way up to the chief of staff level have been able to persuade him not to launch such a drastic step, arguing it would be counterproductive. But since those early months, multiple former officials said, he has continued to regularly ask whether his staffers should be polygraphed. Accounts differ as to just how literally, and seriously, those requests were taken.


Ten city governments from Arizona to Pennsylvania say the president’s political committee has yet to pay hundreds of thousands in security bills.
By Dave Levinthal
This story was originally published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. WASHINGTON — "Do we love law enforcement or what?" President Donald Trump asked a cheering crowd during his "Make America Great Again" political rally Oct. 12 in Lebanon, Ohio. "Thank you, law enforcement!" the president later told officers, who he called "heroes." But when Lebanon City Hall sent Trump's campaign a $16,191 invoice for police and other public safety costs associated with his event, Trump didn't respond. Trump's campaign likewise ignored Lebanon officials' follow-up reminders to cover the sum — one rich enough to fund the entire police force for nearly two days in this modest city of 21,000, between Dayton and Cincinnati. The bill remains unpaid. "There's a lot of benefit when a president comes here: economic benefits, more visibility for our community," Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer said. "But I would hope and believe the Trump campaign would pay its bills. It's our taxpayer dollars." The red ink Trump poured on Lebanon's thin blue line is no anomaly. At least nine other city governments — from Mesa, Arizona, to Erie, Pennsylvania — are still waiting for Trump to pay public safety-related invoices they've sent his presidential campaign committee in connection with his political rallies, according to interviews with local officials and municipal records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Some invoices are three years old. In all, city governments say Trump's campaign owes them at least $841,219. Must Trump pay? That depends on who you ask. The cities are adamant Trump should pay up. But in many of these cases, there are no signed contracts between the municipal governments and the Trump campaign. The cities dispatched police officers to secure Trump's events because they believe public safety required it — and the U.S. Secret Service asked for it. Reached for comment, Trump campaign Director of Operations Sean Dollman referred questions to the campaign's communications staff, which did not respond to numerous requests.

By Julie Appleby
Vowing to protect Medicare with "every ounce of strength," President Trump spoke last week to a cheering crowd in Florida. But his executive order released shortly afterward includes provisions that could significantly alter key pillars of the program by making it easier for beneficiaries and doctors to opt out. The bottom line: The proposed changes might make it a bit simpler to find a doctor who takes new Medicare patients, but it could lead to higher costs for seniors and potentially expose some to surprise medical bills, a problem from which Medicare has traditionally protected consumers. "Unless these policies are thought through very carefully, the potential for really bad unintended consequences is front and center," says economist Stephen Zuckerman, vice president for health policy at the Urban Institute. While the executive order spells out few details, it calls for the removal of "unnecessary barriers" to private contracting, which allows patients and doctors to negotiate their own deals outside of Medicare. It's an approach long supported by some conservatives, but critics fear it would lead to higher costs for patients. The order also seeks to ease rules that affect beneficiaries who want to opt out of the hospital portion of Medicare, known as Part A. Both ideas have a long history, with proponents and opponents duking it out since at least 1997, even spawning a tongue-in-cheek legislative proposal that year titled, in part, the "Buck Naked Act." More on that later. "For a long time, people who don't want or don't like the idea of social insurance have been trying to find ways to opt out of Medicare and doctors have been trying to find a way to opt out of Medicare payment," says Timothy Jost, emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia.

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!)

This collection of pages is dedicated to Donald J. Trump's (aka Don the Con) time in the White House the ups, the downs, the lies, the chaos, the destruction, the devastation and the hatred created by Donald J. Trump the worst businessman in America. Or find out more about the Trump-Russia Affair, the Trump-Ukraine Affair or the Donald J. Trump Impeachment Inquiry.



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