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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.


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Posted By Ian Schwartz
MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman said President Trump's press conference Wednesday with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto will go down in the "annals of the dangers to democracy." Fineman called it his "duty" as a student of history to warn that we are not taking Trump seriously enough. "Listen, I've spent a lot of time over the years in totalitarian countries," Fineman said. "In the old Soviet Union, if somebody became inconvenient as a witness, they disappeared either in reality or from the top of the Lenin mausoleum."

By Jamie Ross
Rudy Giuliani turned to President Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for help on Ukraine several times over the past few months, The Washington Post reports. Trump’s personal attorney is reported to have repeatedly consulted with Manafort through the prisoner’s lawyer in an attempt to gather information that would support his speculative theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to support Hillary Clinton. Giuliani and Manafort both have an interest in undermining the Mueller investigation. The inquiry led to Manafort’s imprisonment on tax- and financial-fraud allegations, while Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team in April 2018 to help defend the president against the probe.

North Korea has confirmed it test-fired a new type of a ballistic missile, a significant escalation from the short-range tests it has conducted since May. The missile - which was able to carry a nuclear weapon - was the North's 11th test this year. But this one, fired from a platform at sea, was capable of being launched from a submarine. Being submarine-capable is important as it means North Korea could launch missiles far outside its territory. According to South Korean officials, the missile flew about 450km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910km before landing in the sea. That means the missile flew twice as high as the International Space Station, but previous North Korean tests have gone higher. It came down in the Sea of Japan, also known in South Korea as the East Sea. Japan said it landed in its exclusive economic zone - a band of 200km around Japanese territory. The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with the US would resume. What do we know about this missile? The missile was launched from the sea soon after 07:00 on Wednesday (22:00 GMT Tuesday), about 17km north-east of the coastal city of Wonsan. North Korea's state news agency KCNA said on Thursday the missile was a Pukguksong-3 test-fired at a high angle, designed to "contain external threat and bolster self-defence". It added there was "no adverse impact on the security of neighbouring countries".

The House is investigating whether groups tried to curry favor with Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never using them.
By ANITA KUMAR
House investigators are looking into an allegation that groups — including at least one foreign government — tried to ingratiate themselves to President Donald Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never staying in them. It’s a previously unreported part of a broad examination by the House Oversight Committee, included in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, into whether Trump broke the law by accepting money from U.S. or foreign governments at his properties. “Now we’re looking at near raw bribery,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a House Oversight Committee member who chairs the subcommittee with jurisdiction over Trump’s hotel in Washington. “That was the risk from Day One: foreign governments and others trying to seek favor because we know Trump pays attention to this. ... It’s an obvious attempt to curry favor with him.” The investigation began after the committee received information that two entities — a trade association and a foreign government — booked a large quantity of rooms but used only a fraction of them, according to a person familiar with the allegation who isn't authorized to speak for the committee. The emoluments clause of the Constitution forbids a president from profiting from foreign governments or receiving any money from the U.S. government except his or her annual salary. Rep. Ro Khanna, (D-Calif.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, said if Trump or his staff solicited the hotel reservations, they could have broken the law. But even if they didn’t, it’s still a problem.

By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN
(CNN) - A newly unearthed letter from 2016 shows that Republican senators pushed for reforms to Ukraine's prosecutor general's office and judiciary, echoing calls then-Vice President Joe Biden made at the time. CNN's KFile found a February 2016 bipartisan letter signed by several Republican senators that urged then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to "press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General's office and judiciary." The letter shows that addressing corruption in Ukraine's Prosecutor General's office had bipartisan support in the US and further undercuts a baseless attack made by President Donald Trump and his allies that Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire then Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to stop investigations into a Ukrainian natural gas company that his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden, nor is it clear whether Hunter was under investigation at all. Trump called the 2016 dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor "unfair" in his July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying, "A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved," according to the rough transcript of the phone call. The 2016 letter, sent by members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, was signed by Republican Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson, as well as Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Murphy, Sherrod Brown, and Richard Blumenthal and focused on longstanding issues of corruption in Ukraine and urged reforms of the government. "Succeeding in these reforms will show Russian President Vladimir Putin that an independent, transparent and democratic Ukraine can and will succeed," the letter reads. "It also offers a stark alternative to the authoritarianism and oligarchic cronyism prevalent in Russia. As such, we respectfully ask that you address the serious concerns raised by Minister Abromavičius. We similarly urge you to press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General's Office and judiciary. The unanimous adoption by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Basic Principles and Action Plan is a good step." Kirk is no longer in Congress. But Johnson signed onto a letter with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley last week to Attorney General Bill Barr asking him to investigate, in part, allegations surrounding Biden and Ukraine. Johnson's office did not respond to a request for comment. Portman's office did not comment. Ukraine's legislature voted to fire Shokin in March 2016, a month after the letter was sent. The letter was posted on the website of Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who in a tweet the same day expressed US support for anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. "Ukraine's US friends stand w/#Ukraine in fight against corruption," Portman wrote. "Impt to continue progress progress made since #EuroMaidan." In December of 2015, in a speech to Ukraine's parliament, Biden made similar calls for changes to the judiciary and the General Prosecutor's office. "It's not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a special prosecutor fighting corruption," Biden said. "The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform. The judiciary should be overhauled."

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - The pressure and stress of the House's impeachment inquiry and ongoing questions about his conversations with the Ukrainian president seem to be getting to President Donald Trump. Otherwise, it's hard to explain his angry and raw press conference alongside the president of Finland on Wednesday. I went through the transcript and highlighted the lines you need to see. They're below.

By Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – A whistleblower complaint centering on President Donald Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president has spurred a number of allegations and counterallegations as Republicans and Democrats jockey for position amid an impeachment inquiry. At the heart of Congress' probe into the president's actions is his claim that former Vice President and 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden strong-armed the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor in order to thwart an investigation into a company tied to his son, Hunter Biden. But sources ranging from former Obama administration officials to an anti-corruption advocate in Ukraine say the official, Viktor Shokin, was ousted for the opposite reason Trump and his allies claim. It wasn't because Shokin was investigating a natural gas company tied to Biden's son; it was because Shokin wasn't pursuing corruption among the country's politicians, according to a Ukrainian official and four former American officials who specialized in Ukraine and Europe. Shokin's inaction prompted international calls for his ouster and ultimately resulted in his removal by Ukraine's parliament. WASHINGTON – A whistleblower complaint centering on President Donald Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president has spurred a number of allegations and counterallegations as Republicans and Democrats jockey for position amid an impeachment inquiry. At the heart of Congress' probe into the president's actions is his claim that former Vice President and 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden strong-armed the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor in order to thwart an investigation into a company tied to his son, Hunter Biden. But sources ranging from former Obama administration officials to an anti-corruption advocate in Ukraine say the official, Viktor Shokin, was ousted for the opposite reason Trump and his allies claim. It wasn't because Shokin was investigating a natural gas company tied to Biden's son; it was because Shokin wasn't pursuing corruption among the country's politicians, according to a Ukrainian official and four former American officials who specialized in Ukraine and Europe. Shokin's inaction prompted international calls for his ouster and ultimately resulted in his removal by Ukraine's parliament.

By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
The House of Representatives has begun to gather evidence in an effort to determine if President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. The Constitution defines an impeachable offense as "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The president need not have committed a crime in order to be impeached, but he needs to have engaged in behavior that threatens the constitutional stability of the United States or the rule of law as we have come to know it. Has Trump committed any impeachable offenses? A CIA agent formerly assigned to the White House – and presently referred to as the "whistleblower" – reported a July 25, 2019 telephone conversation that Trump had with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. That conversation manifested both criminal and impeachable behavior. The criminal behavior to which Trump has admitted is much more grave than anything alleged or unearthed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and much of what Mueller revealed was impeachable. What has Trump admitted? The whistleblower’s revelation caused the White House to release a near-verbatim summary of the conversation between the two presidents. By releasing it, Trump has admitted to its accuracy. In it, Trump asked Zelensky for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who at this writing is Trump's likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential election. Trump also admits to holding up $391 million in aid to Ukraine – $250 million in the purchase of already approved and built military hardware and $141 million in a congressionally authorized grant. This is aid that Trump's own secretaries of state and defense, his own director of national intelligence and director of the CIA, and his own National Security Council unanimously asked him to release. Trump has also admitted to accusing the as-yet publicly unnamed whistleblower of treason, and suggesting that the whistleblower and those who have helped him are spies and ought to be treated as spies were in "the old days" (Trump’s phrase) – that is, by hanging.

Opinion by Peter Eisner
(CNN) - To be fair to Mike Pence, he probably never dealt with someone like Donald Trump before 2016. Now Pence is hearing Trump's critics compare the president to an organized crime boss. Whether or not he agrees, thanks to the movies, everyone knows how the game works and so the vice president surely had an inkling about President Trump's modus operandi. In fact, he had more than a hint of what was to come. "He was going into this with his eyes open," a source close to Pence told me in 2018 referring to Pence's decision to accept Trump's offer in 2016 to run for vice president. "He knew exactly who Trump was and what he faced." Pence already knew that Trump had come to the Republican nomination with lies and slander, starting with his campaign to claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States; and by 2016 Trump had denigrated Mexican immigrants, saying "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." But Pence's ambition was stronger than any possible concerns about the character of the man he would have to support, and wavered but did not back out even after the Access Hollywood tape was published in October 2016. Pence and his wife had already prayed for guidance—and decided he had a purpose and a mission, from God, to serve the country as vice president, said the source. "Once he got to that point, he never looked back." Pence should have expected that at some point his patron would make him get his hands dirty. It may have happened in the case of Trump's scandalous, and perhaps impeachable, request that Ukraine investigate his political rival Joe Biden. Trump's Ukraine gambit appears to be a variation on classic extortion that started with his decision to freeze the roughly $400 million in military and security aid approved to help Ukraine fight its ongoing war against Russian invaders. "I would like you to do us a favor, though," said Trump after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned the aid in a phone call. Trump wanted Zelensky to look into the allegation that Ukrainians stole the Democratic National Committee email server during the 2016 campaign. This is a debunked conspiracy theory. He also asked Zelensky to work on the matter with Attorney General William Barr and Trump's own personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Although Trump's words were imprecise -- he never said "Do this or you don't get the $400 million" -- his meaning was clear. A White House memo reconstructing the conversation showed the president returned to the subject of investigating former Vice President Biden repeatedly during their talk, Zelensky promised that his yet-to-be-named chief prosecutor would look into the matter.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump is hardly acting like a very stable genius.
Instead, his unleashed fury, fact-bending rants and persecution complex are conjuring an image of someone seeing his presidency slipping through his hands. While current political conditions seem unlikely to lead to his ouster from office, Trump appears increasingly powerless to save himself from the historical scar of impeachment. He has crushed just about every norm since descending his golden escalator to launch his 2016 presidential campaign. Now he's reinventing how presidents deal with an existential scandal. And it seems to be leading him deeper into the darkness. Part of Trump's frustration may stem from the unusual nature of his current plight. Since taking office, Trump has kept Washington hopping, with his adversaries never knowing what wild gyration will rock the capital next. But in the week since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally initiated impeachment hearings, the President has seemed out of sorts. It is the Democrats who are doing all the running, and Trump can't catch up. "We are not fooling around," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff warned on Monday, in a grave news conference with Pelosi that contrasted with Trump's fireworks and turned on complex constitutional justifications for the Democrats' decision to seek the President's impeachment. The painful truth for Trump is that the machinery of impeachment is grinding on, and there is not much he can do about it. Convention suggests that Trump should ignore the storm and get on, like Bill Clinton did when impeachment threatened, to do the work of the American people. A President on thin ice ought to avoid any public behavior that deepens his jeopardy. That's not Trump's way. In  a pair of combustible public appearances Wednesday -- alongside the unfortunate Finnish President Sauli Niinistö -- Trump, as he always does, met a crisis with all guns blazing. The President bickered bitterly with reporters, mocked his enemies with juvenile nicknames, twisted the facts of his own conduct and bemoaned how unfairly he'd been treated. His unhinged mood was encapsulated in an encounter between the President and Jeff Mason of Reuters, one of the most down-the-line and courteous reporters in Washington. Mason wanted to know the answer to the question that Trump refuses to address and that is at the center of the impeachment storm. What did he want from Ukraine's President if it was not, as it appears from a transcript of their July 25 telephone call, dirt on his potential 2020 election rival Joe Biden? When Mason, repeatedly but respectfully tried to follow up, Trump snapped: "Ask this gentleman a question. Don't be rude." "I've answered everything. It's a whole hoax, and you know who's playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country," the President added. For all of the tantrums and feuds and demagoguery and fury, it still shocks to see a President conducting himself this way, against the backdrop of the golden curtains of the East Room, scene of some of the most solemn, and decorous occasions in the history of the White House. Self-pity: When not raging, the President was feeling sorry for himself. "The political storm, I've lived with it from the day I got elected," he told a Finnish reporter, who drew gasps when she asked what favors he'd demanded from his visitor -- a backhanded reference to his attempt to get Ukraine to play in the 2020 election. "I have done more and this administration has done more than any administration in the history of this country in the first two-and-a-half years," Trump said, though the presidents whose portraits stare down at him in the White House every day might have begged to differ. "I'm used to it. For me it's like putting on a suit in the morning," Trump said of the tsunami of political disruption to which he has subjected the nation for nearly three years. In another comment that will astound the historians of the future, Trump tweeted on Wednesday that Democrats were wasting America's time with "BULLSHIT." Accusing Schiff of treason, which he did several times on Wednesday, without offering any credible justification for accusing a fellow American of this most heinous of crimes, is unlikely to deflect House Democrats from their process. Nor will the President's arguments that Schiff is making up details of conduct that are laid out in the transcript of Trump's call with Ukraine's President that he released himself. "Believe it or not, I watch my words very carefully. There are those that think I am a very stable genius," Trump said, though his furious mood seemed to suggest exactly the opposite.

By Paul Brandus
The Russians attacked us. If the commander in chief who swore to defend us said it didn't bother him, this was 'giving them aid and comfort.' Let’s say we had a president who did the following: Redistributed wealth by taxing the rich and giving to the poor. Boosted entitlements. Signed a law to strengthen workplace safety. Poured money into cleaning up the environment. Even helped finance National Public Radio. Liberals would be pleased, right? We did have such a president. His name was Richard Nixon. Of course, all this is largely forgotten today, overshadowed by Nixon’s involvement in Watergate — the scandal that drove him from office in 1974, as impeachment and possibly even Senate conviction were nipping at his heels. Because of this mixed legacy, Nixon ranks as the 28th best president (or the 16th worst, depending on how you look at it) in a 2017 C-SPAN survey of historians. In 10 categories, he scores near the middle for most, though 10th for “International Relations.” But in terms of “Moral Authority” he’s near the bottom, ranked 42nd. Lying to the American people and covering up a Constitution-shredding crime will do that to a guy. How will historians rate Trump? President Donald Trump will be included in the next survey, which is taken every time we have a new president. Where do you think he'll rank? For starters, let's compare his actions with all the Nixon accomplishments mentioned above. Trump is the anti-Nixon. After lying through his teeth in 2017 about how “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan," he gave them (and himself) a huge tax break. Entitlements? He has reportedly told Senate Republicans that cutting Social Security and Medicare could be a second-term project. We got a preview of his plans to do just that in his 2020 budget blueprint in which he proposed cuts. Funny, Trump likes to run his mouth on Twitter and at his rallies, but this is something he hasn’t blabbed to his wide-eyed, believe-whatever-he-says base. Strengthen workplace safety? “We want to protect our workers,” Trump said in 2017. But that was another lie. His administration has rolled back worker protections, making already dangerous jobs like coal mining, working on oil rigs and in meat processing plants even more so. Overall, "they've done more things to hurt workers than they have to help them. And that's unfortunate," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said last month on Fox News Sunday. Trump vs. Nixon is no contest And cleaning up the environment? Nixon proposed a new Environmental Protection Agency in July 1970, and it began operations five months later. Trump has gutted it, and when he brags about all the regulations he has cut — to the wild applause of his base — what he’s not telling them is that he is endangering the air they breathe and the water they drink. They applaud and then go home, apparently oblivious to the 85 (and counting) rules he has rolled back. Air pollution, water pollution, toxic substances, on and on and on. There's more, but you get the point: Trump is worse than Nixon. And I haven't even gotten to the scandals. What Trump has done is far more damaging to our country. To me, it can be summed up from just one event: his infamous meeting in the Oval Office in May 2017 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It was bad enough that Trump revealed highly classified information that, according to two unnamed officials cited in The New York Times, exposed an intelligence source in the Middle East. But we’ve since learned — based on three sources obtained by The Washington Post — that Trump told his Kremlin guests he didn't care that the Russians had interfered in our 2016 election.

President Donald Trump called for Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden
By Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller
Ensnarled in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump Thursday called on another nation to probe former Vice President Joe Biden: China. “China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in remarks to reporters outside the White House. Trump said he hadn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Biden and his son Hunter but said it’s "certainly something we could start thinking about.” Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence that the former vice president benefited financially from his son’s business relationships. Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden, as well as Giuliani’s conduct, are at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week. - It is against the law to seek help from a foreign government to win an election, but Trump does not care. Trump is once again seeking help from foreign government to win an election, same as he did in the 2016 elections. That should scare the hell out of all Americans that the president of the United States is seeking foreign help to defeat a political rival. Trump and Republicans should worry they might investigate them and used what they find to help the Democrats.

By Marina Pitofsky
Footage of former President Obama mocking Republicans by suggesting they would want to build a moat between the U.S. and Mexico resurfaced this week, after media reports emerged that President Trump had asked aides about the possibility of a moat filled with alligators or snakes on the southern border. “This was literally a joke that Obama used in 2011 to mock Republicans on border security,” former Obama speechwriter and “Pod Save America” podcast host Jon Favreau tweeted Tuesday night, linking to a CBS News article on a speech Obama gave at the time saying that Republicans would “never be satisfied” with his administration’s border security policies.

Local officials deny the claims. The notice is the latest salvo in a feud between the Trump administration and Democrat-controlled California.
By Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration ratcheted up its feud with California on Wednesday as the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice accusing San Francisco of violating the federal Clean Water Act. Last month, President Donald Trump warned of a potential violation notice, saying the city was allowing needles and human waste to go through storm drains to the Pacific Ocean — an allegation fervently denied by city officials. The violation notice came in the form of a letter to Harlan Kelly, Jr., general manager of the city’s Public Utilities Commission. It said the EPA had identified violations in the city and county wastewater treatment and sewer system, including lack of proper operation and maintenance that has allowed raw and partially-treated sewage to flow onto beaches into the ocean and sometimes into streets and homes. The letter alleged that some discharges contained heavy metals and bacteria and said the city hasn’t kept up proper cleaning, inspection and repair schedules for the system nor properly reported or issued public warnings for sewage diversions. It’s the latest salvo in a feud between the administration and Democrat-controlled California, which has filed more than 50 lawsuits opposing Trump initiatives on the environment, immigration and health care. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom last week alleging waste left by the homeless in big cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles was being improperly handled.

By Michele Kelemen
On paper, Kurt Volker's job in the Trump administration was to support Ukraine and help end a war started by Russia in the east of the former Soviet Republic. Volker is now caught up in a political battle at home over President Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Volker will be deposed Thursday behind closed doors as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Volker, 54, was a career diplomat who focused on Europe and was tapped by then-President George W. Bush in 2008 to serve as the U.S. ambassador to NATO, a position he held for less than a year. By the time Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and sent troops to foment an uprising in eastern Ukraine, Volker was out of government, running the McCain Institute, a think tank in Washington run by Arizona State University. He was critical of the Obama administration's approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression. "The most frequent phrase you hear out of mouths now is there is no military solution, and I think we just have to reject that," he told NPR in a 2015 interview. "We are seeing a military solution play out before our eyes on the ground in Ukraine, and it happens to be one that we don't like. It's Putin's military solution." Volker returned to the State Department in July 2017 when he was tapped by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to serve as U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations. Andrew Weiss, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Volker was an unlikely fit in the Trump administration. "It was indicative of just how hard it was to get credentialed middle-of-the-road or right-of-center Republicans to serve in this administration," Weiss said. "So there was a real shortage of talented experienced people coming in. Kurt was one of the exceptions to that." Kurt was appointed with a specific role in mind, Weiss said: halting the conflict in eastern Ukraine. But that mandate broadened over time. "He ended up having a far wider portfolio that involved running U.S. policy on Ukraine writ large," Weiss said.

By Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – An aide to Vice President Mike Pence listened in on the phone call by the president that sparked an impeachment inquiry, the Washington Post reported in an article Wednesday that provides new details on Pence's involvement in the controversy. The report said President Donald Trump used Pence in his attempt to pressure the new Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, but is not conclusive on how much Pence knew about Trump's efforts. Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Waldman, dismissed the article as an attempt to "glorify a grand conspiracy being concocted by a select number of disgruntled former employees." Waldman said Pence's actions vindicate the administration by showing that Ukraine received military aid after Pence "directly and effectively delivered the president's anti-corruption and European burden sharing messages" to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a September meeting. But the vice president's office declined to comment on whether Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, listened to the Zelensky call.ffice declined to comment on whether Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, listened to the Zelensky call. House Democrats on Wednesday threatened to subpoena the White House if it doesn't turn over by Friday a host of documents that include any communication Pence's office had about the July call with Zelensky. Democrats also want information on Trump's decision not to send Pence to Zelensky's May inauguration and information on Pence's meeting with Zelensky during a trip to Poland in September.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once accused the Obama administration of obstructing a House inquiry and letting politics override national interests. He now faces similar charges.
By Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger
WASHINGTON — As a member of Congress, Mike Pompeo drove the Republican inquiry into the killing of a United States ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and made clear there was no place for politics in American diplomacy. Nor, he said, would he tolerate “dithering” by an Obama administration State Department that he called “deeply obstructive of getting the American people the facts that they needed.” Now, as secretary of state, Mr. Pompeo is facing a political crisis that directly challenges his leadership of the department he once excoriated. He is accused by House Democrats of blocking their impeachment inquiry by resisting the release of information to Congress that may shed light on the Trump administration’s shadow foreign policy with Ukraine. And career diplomats, some of whom blame the Trump administration for dismembering the Foreign Service and undercutting American diplomacy, are expected to be among the first witnesses telling their stories to Congress during its inquiry. “In many ways this seems to be a situation where he’s reaping what he sowed,” said Derek Chollet, the executive vice president of the German Marshall Fund, who served in both the State and Defense Departments under President Barack Obama. During the Benghazi hearings in 2016, Mr. Pompeo bombarded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with questions about whether the State Department had failed to put adequate security on the ground, leading to the death of an American ambassador. Now Mr. Pompeo is being asked whether his State Department was part of an effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The details are different, but lawmakers in both cases accused the State Department of obstruction and not supporting its diplomats. With the tables turned, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected on Thursday to query Kurt D. Volker, a longtime diplomat, former ambassador to NATO and, until last week, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine. Mr. Volker is the man who put Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in touch with the new government in Kiev, though he appeared to have deep reservations about how Ukraine policy was veering off course. His testimony is expected to be followed over the coming days by that of Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled early as the American ambassador to Ukraine and dismissed by Mr. Trump as “bad news,” someone he promised would “go through some things.” Both will be asked whether they had evidence that Mr. Trump or his representatives were dangling American support — and suspending congressionally approved military assistance — to get political dirt from the Ukrainian government to undercut the presidential campaign of Mr. Biden.

By Selena Simmons-Duffin
President Trump gave a speech and signed an executive order on health care Thursday, casting the "Medicare for All" proposals from his Democratic rivals as harmful to seniors. His speech, which had been billed as a policy discussion, had the tone of a campaign rally. Trump spoke from The Villages, a huge retirement community in Florida outside Orlando, a deep-red part of a key swing state. His speech was marked by cheers, standing ovations and intermittent chants of "four more years" by an audience of mostly seniors. Trump spoke extensively about his administration's health care achievements and goals, as well as the health policy proposals of Democratic presidential candidates, which he characterized as socialism. The executive order he signed had previously been titled "Protecting Medicare From Socialist Destruction" on the White House schedule but has since been renamed "Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation's Seniors." "In my campaign for president, I made you a sacred pledge that I would strengthen, protect and defend Medicare for all of our senior citizens," Trump told the audience. "Today I'll sign a very historic executive order that does exactly that — we are making your Medicare even better, and ... it will never be taken away from you. We're not letting anyone get close."

The president lashed out at Hill Democrats as House leaders announced a fresh round of potential White House subpoenas.
By Shannon Pettypiece and Adam Edelman
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's growing frustration with Democrats' amped up impeachment efforts was on stark public display Wednesday as he spent the day openly raging against the media and his political rivals. In the stretch of a few hours, Trump called Democratic impeachment efforts "BULLSHIT," got into a verbal altercation with a reporter during a press conference, and delivered unfounded claims about his political rivals. His anger was visible — his face flushed at times, his voice raised, his gestures increasingly animated. “Nancy Pelosi and shifty Schiff, who should resign in disgrace, and Jerry Nadler and all of them, it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” the president said at a White House event, the visiting Finnish president by his side. “They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I’ve been going through this for three years.” Trump's advisers have looked to downplay the seriousness of the impeachment threat, with his lawyer Jay Sekulow describing it as a "skirmish" and counselor Kellyanne Conway saying the White House doesn't need a war room, since the president is "the most battle-tested person I've ever met." Still, Trump's sharp reactions Wednesday suggested the process might be having an impact. The day started with Democrats outlining the next steps in their impeachment efforts, and signaling that the White House's refusal to comply with their requests would be used as evidence against him. That sparked a tweetstorm from Trump moments in which he called House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a “low life,” blamed declines in the stock market on the Democratic impeachment efforts and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening to his phone calls. “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016,” Trump tweeted as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill. “[G]et a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!" he added.

By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Ashley Parker
President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said. Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said. Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information about Biden and his son, who had served on the board of an obscure Ukrainian gas company, when his father was overseeing U.S. policy on Ukraine. Pence’s activities occurred amid several indications of the president’s hidden agenda. Among them were the abrupt removal of the U.S. ambassador to Kiev; the visible efforts by the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to insert himself in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship; as well as alarms being raised inside the White House even before the emergence of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint about Trump’s conduct. Perhaps most significantly, one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours, officials said. Trump’s deployment of Pence is part of a broader pattern of using both executive authority and high-ranking officials in his administration to advance his personal or political interests — even in cases when those subordinates appear not to know that another agenda is in play. Officials close to Pence contend that he traveled to Warsaw for a meeting with Zelensky on Sept. 1 probably without having read — or at least fully registered — the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine. White House officials said that Pence likely would have received the detailed notes of the president’s call in his briefing book on July 26.The five-page document also should have been part of the briefing materials he took with him to Warsaw to prepare for the meeting, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

By Jordain Carney
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is urging three foreign governments to cooperate with the Justice Department probe into the origins of the Russia investigation. Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter on Wednesday to the governments of Italy, Australia and the United Kingdom defending outreach from Attorney General William Barr as part of the investigation. "That the attorney general is holding meetings with your countries to aid in the Justice Department's investigation of what happened is well within the bounds of his normal activities. He is simply doing his job," Graham wrote in the letter. He added that he was requesting "your country's continued cooperation with Attorney General Barr as the Department of Justice continues to investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election." Graham noted in his letter that "it appears" the United States used "foreign intelligence as part of their efforts to investigate and monitor the 2016 election." Graham had said earlier this week that he was planning to send the letters in the wake of The New York Times reporting that Trump had reached out to the Australian government to assist Barr as part of the Justice Department's investigation. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed the report.

By Jessica Campisi
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s federal security detail is reportedly expected to cost U.S. taxpayers more than $26 million by the end of President Trump’s first term. The total cost of DeVos’s security detail for fiscal 2019 came out to $6.24 million, marking a lower amount from the U.S. Marshals Service’s projection of $7.74 million and a decrease from the $6.79 million total in fiscal 2018, Politico reports. Her security detail is projected to total nearly $7.9 million between now and the end of September 2020, a U.S. Marshals Service spokesperson told Politico. It is unclear why the agency’s projection increased for the following fiscal year. The service did not disclose the number of officials who make up the detail but added that it is “commensurate with the existing threat and based on USMS protective service requirements, experience and methodology.” The service “regularly conducts threat assessments on Ms. DeVos to determine threats to the secretary’s safety,” according to an official statement obtained by Politico. It’s rare for cabinet members in a president’s administration to receive a security detail from the Marshals Service, as these officials typically get protection through their own agencies, Politico notes.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Washington, DC (CNN) - It ain't easy being friends with Donald Trump.
Australia, Britain, and Italy are being sucked into the conspiracy-filled quagmire of impeachment-era Washington, after Trump and his Attorney General William Barr reportedly leaned on friendly governments to assist a probe widely seen as intended to discredit the FBI's investigation into the 2016 elections. Trump enlisted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's help over the phone, and now he's already under fire at home.** Critics say his desperation to be mates with Trump is taking Australia into dangerous territory, and the flap has limited Morrison's political dividend from his big state dinner at the White House last month. Normally there'd be nothing to see here -- US attorneys general huddle with foreign counterparts all the time. But Trump and Barr appear to be chasing a conservative media concoction that US allies plotted with rogue American spies to thwart him in the 2016 elections (a claim shot down by the British government in 2017.) This puts allied leaders in a tough position -- right next to Ukraine, whose President was also asked by Trump to investigate multiple unsubstantiated theories. All must choose between playing along with a powerful and vengeful US President, or risk permanent damage to their national interests in the fetid swamp of Washington politics. And those are just the countries we know about. **Morrison is on the spot because back in 2016, a Trump campaign aide told an Australian diplomat rumors about alleged dirt from Hillary Clinton's emails. The diplomat passed the tip back to US intelligence and the rest is history. "You're making me look like an idiot!" That's Donald Trump back in March, shouting during a panicked meeting over migration, according to the New York Times. The report says Trump also speculated over shooting migrants in the legs. At that same meeting, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner tried to reason with the President. "All you care about is your friends in Mexico," the President reportedly responded.

By TED HESSON
A proposed rule that recently completed review at the White House budget office will provide a framework for the broad collection of DNA from immigration detainees, a senior Homeland Security Department official told reporters Wednesday. The proposed rule, developed by the Justice Department, comes after the Office of Special Counsel found that federal border officials failed to collect DNA samples from detained criminal immigrants as required under federal law. The letter, sent by Special Counsel Henry Kerner in August, said that federal law enforcement agencies are required to obtain samples from detainees under the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005.

The president lashed out at Hill Democrats as House leaders announced a fresh round of potential White House subpoenas.
By Shannon Pettypiece and Adam Edelman
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's growing frustration with Democrats' amped up impeachment efforts was on stark public display Wednesday as he spent the day openly raging against the media and his political rivals. In the stretch of a few hours, Trump called Democratic impeachment efforts "BULLSHIT," got into a verbal altercation with a reporter during a press conference, and delivered unfounded claims about his political rivals. His anger was visible — his face flushed at times, his voice raised, his gestures increasingly animated. “Nancy Pelosi and shifty Schiff, who should resign in disgrace, and Jerry Nadler and all of them, it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” the president said at a White House event, the visiting Finnish president by his side. “They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I’ve been going through this for three years.” Trump's advisers have looked to downplay the seriousness of the impeachment threat, with his lawyer Jay Sekulow describing it as a "skirmish" and counselor Kellyanne Conway saying the White House doesn't need a war room, since the president is "the most battle-tested person I've ever met." Still, Trump's sharp reactions Wednesday suggested the process might be having an impact. The day started with Democrats outlining the next steps in their impeachment efforts, and signaling that the White House's refusal to comply with their requests would be used as evidence against him. That sparked a tweetstorm from Trump moments in which he called House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a “low life,” blamed declines in the stock market on the Democratic impeachment efforts and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening to his phone calls. “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016,” Trump tweeted as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill.

By Jon HealeyDeputy Editorial Page Editor
Not for the first time in his tenure, President Trump is accusing his critics of trying to stage a coup. And not for the first time, he is betraying a fundamental misunderstanding not only of what a coup is, but also of what the presidency is. He’s not alone on this; some of his supporters have floated the “coup” idea on Fox News and other sympathetic media outlets, to attack the legitimacy of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and now the impeachment inquiry soft-launched by House Democrats in the wake of a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s July 25 call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (For those who’ve spent the last two weeks in a medically induced coma, Trump asked Zelensky for “a favor” that involved investigating Trump’s potential 2020 rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son, as well as helping pursue a bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory meant to discredit Mueller’s findings, in particular the one about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign.) This is so sad. The point of a coup d'état is to replace one government with another. In banana republics run by strongmen, that’s a matter of ousting one guy, typically one who likes to wear a uniform adorned with medals. In this country, however, the end result of an impeachment is the congressional equivalent of an indictment. And even if the Senate convicts and removes the president from office — something that has never happened — the office will be filled by the vice president from the same party. In other words, impeachment isn’t designed to change who holds the reins in the federal government. It’s designed to hold individuals accountable for bad behavior, whether it be corrupt acts or abuses of power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday defended President Trump over accusations the U.S. leader pressured Kiev to dig up dirt on a rival, saying there was "nothing compromising" in transcripts of the call. - Is Putin defending a Russian asset?

CNN - Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tells CNN's Jake Tapper that President Trump has been "very abusive" of the Whistleblower Protection Act and that his rhetoric is on the verge of "bringing harm" to the whistleblower that raised concerns about a phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian President.


Why did it take a whistleblower to get our attention? The Ukraine whistleblower illuminated and solidified a story that was buried in reports dating several months back.

MSNBC - A top Trump 2020 aide, Marc Lotter, is questioned about Trump’s Ukraine collusion plot against Joe Biden, his remarks about treating whistleblowers as traitors, whether Trump campaign staff would take foreign help – a crime – and whether the Trump campaign stands by Corey Lewandowski’s admission that he lies to the press and has no obligation to tell the truth in the future. The “cross examination” interview was with MSNBC anchor Ari Melber, on the day of the explosive release of a whistleblower complaint that Trump abused his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election”.

By Terry Gross
President Trump made building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign. But when, after the election, efforts to build the wall stalled, he turned to other possible options — including constructing a trench filled with snakes and alligators — according to a forthcoming book. "He would raise this idea of a trench — and [that] maybe we could have a water-filled trench," New York Times journalist Julie Hirschfeld Davis told Fresh Air on Wednesday. "And he raised [the idea] so many times that actually his aides finally went and got a cost estimate for what a trench would cost." Davis notes that thoughts of a border trench were cast aside after it was estimated that it would cost three times as much as a wall. Davis and her Times colleague Michael Shear have covered the Trump administration from its earliest days. They chronicle the president's attempts to upend the nation's immigration system in their new book, Border Wars: Inside Trump's Assault on Immigration, publishing on Oct. 8.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - In a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked his counterpart to look into debunked allegations of corruption by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. This is a fact. The Truth. How do we know? Because the White House released a rough transcript of the conversation last week in which Trump said this: "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me." See, it's right there. In the transcript the White House released itself. All of which makes this next fact absolutely mystifying and terrifying: In a new national Monmouth University poll just four in 10 self-identified Republicans believe that Trump mentioned Biden in his call with Zelensky. Are. You. Kidding. Me. It is right there in the transcript that the WHITE HOUSE released of the call! Remember that we aren't talking here about whether Trump pressured Zelensky to look into the Bidens. He did, but there is a little bit of wiggle room there in that Trump didn't say "Unless you do this, I will withhold military aid from you." This poll question deals only with whether Trump actually mentioned Biden's name in the call. Which he 100% did! How can so many Republicans say he didn't? Because Trump has conditioned them to not believe things that are, quite literally, right in front of their faces. "Stick with us," Trump told a group of veterans last July. "Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. ... What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening." When you consider that the American President actually told people that "what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening," this poll finding doesn't seem so unbelievable. The primary work of Trump's candidacy -- and his presidency -- has been to erode the idea that objective truth exists. This is an administration that said the words "alternative facts" with a straight face. And a President who has misled or lied more than 12,000 times in his tenure in the White House. Virtually every day, Trump takes to Twitter to push ideas that are simply and provably false. No independent fact checker gives credence to the idea that Joe Biden called for the firing of Ukraine's top prosecutor to avoid an investigation into his son. There is zero evidence that the whistleblower in this Ukraine story is either a) a partisan or b) already proven wrong in his or her claims. (If anything, the whistleblower's credibility has gone up of late -- as his/her recounting of the Ukraine call was very, very close to the rough transcript released by the White House.)

By Rebecca Beitsch
Federal judges dealt a blow to the Trump administration late Tuesday, finding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t done enough to limit cross-state air pollution. A panel of judges for the D.C. Circuit Court, which includes a Trump appointee, ordered the EPA to come up with a new plan for how to address smog that travels to the densely populated Northeast, where states are failing to meet federal air quality standards. The decision follows a similar ruling in a Wisconsin case a few weeks ago that said the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor provision” compels EPA action. The states that brought the case — New York, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware — argue the EPA hasn’t done enough to help them meet a 2021 deadline for reducing ozone pollution, more commonly referred to as smog. The EPA argued states are on track to meet those standards by 2023. “Those states pointed out to the court that it was irrelevant and insufficient for EPA to say ozone levels would be reduced sufficiently by 2023 because of course there is a two year disconnect,” said John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. An EPA spokesperson said, “We are reviewing the opinion.” Walke said the EPA historically has required downwind states to install better pollution control on coal burning power plants. But this decision comes as the EPA is facing other legal challenges after replacing an Obama-era power plant pollution rule with one that critics say does almost nothing to stem pollution.

A conspiracy theory about the "deep state" got shared widely by the president and his supporters.
By Bethania Palma
The intelligence community "secretly eliminated" a requirement that whistleblowers provide firsthand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings, allowing the complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine to be filed is a false claim made by Trump and conspiracy theorist. In September 2019, whistleblower allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump held back military aid to Ukraine in an effort to obtain damaging information on a political rival led to an impeachment inquiry and an ongoing scandal. It wouldn’t be the 2010s if the fallout didn’t include a conspiracy theory circulating in the right-wing media ecosystem. In this case, the conspiracy theory was given a major platform in the form of a tweet by Trump that his supporters widely shared: The claim originated on The Federalist website, which published a story on Sept. 27 that was not only inaccurate but played on the “deep state” conspiracy theory, an idea now popular among both fringe fanatics and White House officials alike. It posits that U.S. intelligence agencies are scheming against Trump. The Federalist story implied that the intelligence community changed existing rules so that the “anti-Trump complaint” could be filed on Aug. 12 using secondhand information. “Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings,” The Federalist reported.

By Nathan Hodge, Olga Pavlova and Mary Ilyushina, CNN
Moscow (CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin poked fun at the ongoing political crisis in the US by joking about election meddling Wednesday.
When asked about concerns the Russia might interfere in the 2020 US elections, he replied: "I'll tell you a secret: Yes, we'll definitely do it," Putin said. "Just don't tell anyone," he added, in a stage whisper. Putin was appearing on a panel at Russian Energy Week, along with OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo and others. "You know, we have enough of our own problems," Putin continued. "We are engaged in resolving internal problems and are primarily focused on this." Moscow 'asked US to release details of conversation' Putin also commented on the scandal surrounding US President Donald Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying Moscow asked the White House to release details of his 2018 conversation with Trump in Helsinki. "Look, I haven't been president all my life, but my previous life taught me that any of my conversation can become public," said Putin when asked to about the Trump-Ukraine scandal and ensuing impeachment inquiry. "I always proceed from this."

The manufacturing sector is contracting and analysts are blaming Trump’s trade war.
By Aaron Rupar
New polling indicates a plurality of Americans not only support President Donald Trump’s impeachment but his removal from office. Meanwhile, amid a rapidly widening abuse of power scandal, Trump’s approval rating is hitting all-time lows. But arguably the most troubling survey for Trump has nothing to do with impeachment or his approval rating. The latest numbers from the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) closely monitored survey of the country’s manufacturing firms (the Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI) shows not only that manufacturing activity has contracted for two consecutive months, but that August was the lowest point for the sector since June 2009 — a time in which the economy was mired in the Great Recession.

The Justice Department should have shared a campaign-finance investigation with the Federal Election Commission.
By Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer
One of the first things new prosecutors at the Justice Department learn is that cover-ups are rarely singular. There is often a cover-up of the cover-up. Allegations of one cover-up, then another, emerged last week. Officials in the Trump administration tried to “lock down” the phone call memo between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine (the first cover-up), and then officials in the executive branch made efforts to keep this information from reaching Congress (the second cover-up). Now we have discovered what may be a third cover-up. In its handling of the investigation and a potential campaign-finance violation, the Department of Justice appears to have ignored a rule that a matter under investigation must be referred to the Federal Election Commission. Critically, if the department had followed the rule, the Ukraine affair would have been disclosed to the American public. Were it not for the efforts of the whistle-blower, everything about this would have been hidden from the F.E.C. and the American people. Here’s how the Justice Department failed to follow the rule. As part of the scramble in the executive branch caused by the whistle-blower’s complaint, the Justice Department secretly investigated Mr. Trump for a potential campaign-finance violation. The department reportedly cleared him because the contributions solicited from a foreign government to his campaign were not quantifiable “things of value.” That’s the key phrase in one of the most important campaign-finance laws. Remember that Mr. Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general — a former federal prosecutor — determined that the whistle-blower complaint was an “urgent concern.” Further, the complaint set out facts suggesting that Mr. Trump had indeed violated the federal statute that criminalizes soliciting any “thing of value” from a foreign citizen in connection with an election. A thorough investigation seemed warranted.

ABC News - The president called the impeachment inquiry a "coup" and demanded to interview the whistleblower as new documents on Ukraine are expected to be given to Congress. - Trump is willing to put someone’s life in jeopardy to protect himself. Trump may not care but it is the law you cannot go after whistleblowers. Trump has once again shows us he does care about our laws when it comes to himself.

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – As the House and Senate intelligence committees prepare for hearings with the whistleblower who complained about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the negotiations focused attention on how Congress protects anonymous witnesses. The intelligence panels routinely hold closed meetings with unannounced witnesses. Other committees have accepted anonymous testimony about issues such as foreign affairs or drug use. In rare circumstances, steps to protect the witnesses included placing them behind screens and altering their voices electronically. Those steps aren’t foolproof: An IRS whistleblower ran into her supervisor on the way to a hearing and blew her cover. The stakes are high for the Ukraine whistleblower, whose career relies on anonymity and who fears retaliation. Trump has said he’s trying to identify the person. Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA officer who represents the whistleblower, tweeted Monday that the person “is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.” The whistleblower’s complaint is at the heart of the impeachment investigation of Trump at the House of Representatives. The complaint filed Aug. 12 alleged Trump abused the power of his office when he urged Ukraine's president to gather dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's political rival. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal impeachment investigation based on news reports about the complaint. The intelligence committees haven’t described how they will conduct the hearings. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the whistleblower’s lawyers need to obtain security clearances. Schiff voiced concerns on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday about congressional Republican contacts with the White House after Trump compared the sources who informed the whistleblower to spies. “This is serious business here,” Schiff said. The panel is determining the logistics “to do everything humanly possible” to protect the whistleblower’s identity, which is “our paramount concern here,” he said.

By Ben Mathis-Lilley
A few days short of three years ago, WikiLeaks released emails that had been stolen by Russian intelligence operatives from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta—a release that took attention away from the revelation of Donald Trump’s lewd comments during an Access Hollywood taping and may have contributed to Clinton’s surprise election loss. A day short of one year ago, Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi security forces after being tricked into entering the country’s consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote for the Washington Post and had children who were U.S. citizens, but other than issuing perfunctory statements of regret about his death Donald Trump did little to investigate or retaliate against the top Saudi officials who may been involved in ordering it. A day short of a week ago, we learned that Trump badgered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July about launching a bogus investigation into potential 2020 election opponent Joe Biden—and that, according to a whistleblower, the White House hid its transcript of the that conversation on a top-secret classified server not because it contained actual classified content but because it was potentially politically and legally incriminating. (If true, this would apparently violate classification laws.) Shortly after that, the Washington Post reported that Trump had told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. in 2017 that he had no problem with the hacking operation their country ran in 2016—and that “a memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly.” Finally, CNN reported that the administration has also taken unusual steps to limit access to accounts of Trump’s conversations with Vladimir Putin and with Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince (Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Mohammed bin Salman, respectively). The network says no transcript of the Saudi calls were made at all, though there were likely other top administration officials present while they were taking place, and that a transcript of “at least one” Trump-Putin call was “tightly restricted” and kept from officials who would ordinarily have seen it. (It’s not clear if any information about the Putin/Saudi calls was put on the top-secret server discussed by the whistleblower, though his complaint does say that he was told other documents had been put on it for the sole purpose of hiding “politically sensitive” information.”) Trump was also previously have known to have taken the unusual step of requiring a translator to hand over notes taken during a 2017 face-to-face meeting between Trump and Putin in Germany.

By Erin Banco
Two diplomatic figures named in the whistleblower complaint that’s at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump over his interactions with Ukraine’s president are slated to appear before Congress, The Daily Beast has learned. According to a senior Democratic aide, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine—Kurt Volker—will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was previously scheduled to appear before the committee Wednesday, but will now appear on Oct. 11. The State Department inspector general has also asked for an “urgent” briefing with congressional committees tomorrow. The whistleblower reportedly alleged that Volker was one of the officials attempting to “contain the damage” of the scandal by advising Ukrainians on how to handle the requests of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—who has publicly admitted to pushing for corruption investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The whistleblower also reportedly claimed Yovanovitch was recalled to Washington earlier than expected because of “pressure” from then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who had spoken to Giuliani about the investigations and “collusion.”

By John Fritze and David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump dismissed concerns Wednesday – including from some GOP lawmakers – about protecting the identity of a whistleblower at the center of allegations that he pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Asked about those concerns Trump responded: "I don't care." Trump, who has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the unnamed person who filed a complaint about Trump's phone call with Ukrainian leaders, said "a whistleblower should be protected if the whistleblower's legitimate." The whistleblower’s report is at the heart of the impeachment investigation of Trump at the House of Representatives. The complaint filed Aug. 12 alleged Trump abused the power of his office when he urged Ukraine's president to gather dirt on Biden. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a co-founder of the Senate Whistleblower Caucus, said on Tuesday that the whistleblower deserves to be heard and protected. “We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley said. Trump, in a combative mood on the issue after several days of more subdued messaging, also repeated his attacks on House Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. and the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Trump said Schiff couldn't carry Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's "blank strap," apparently a reference to a "jockstrap." Earlier, Trump blasted a tweet storm minutes after a Democratic news conference, condemning impeachment as an attempt to force him from office that will damage the country. Trump challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's stated desire to work on trade and drug prices, saying Democrats are obsessed with impeachment. Pelosi is "incapable" of working on other issues, the president wrote. "It is just camouflage for trying to win an election through impeachment. The Do Nothing Democrats are stuck in mud!" - Trump is willing to put someone’s life in jeopardy to protect himself. Trump may not care but it is the law you cannot go after whistleblowers. Trump has once again shows us he does care about our laws when it comes to himself.

By Jacob Pramuk, Kayla Tausche
The U.S. will impose tariffs on European Union products following a victory at the World Trade Organization, according to senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The USTR plans to release a product list as early as Wednesday night. The duties would take effect Oct. 18. The U.S. is expected to add a 10% tariff on EU aircraft and a 25% duty on agricultural and other products, according to the officials. Earlier, the WTO gave the Trump administration the right to put tariffs on $7.5 billion in European goods. The U.S. had lodged complaints, first in 2004, over what it called illegal subsidies for aircraft maker Airbus by several European governments. U.S. officials argue the EU has “no basis” to retaliate against the planned duties. The two sides plan to meet for trade talks on Oct. 14. The action escalates conflicts the Trump administration has waged around the globe as it tries to get major trade partners to change their practices. The U.S. is locked in a trade war with China as it struggles to strike a new agreement with the world’s second largest economy. The news of a widening trade conflict follows a day of trading when major U.S. stock indexes fell more than 1.5% amid fears of a slowing economy. Investors have worried about sustained trade wars dragging on global growth and potentially pulling the U.S. into a recession. Reacting to the WTO decision earlier, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said new U.S. tariffs would be “short-sighted and counterproductive.” She left the door open to the EU levying retaliatory duties.

By Donie O'Sullivan and David Shortell, CNN
(CNN) - The FBI is running ads on Facebook in the Washington DC area seemingly designed to target and recruit Russian spies as well as those who know about their work, CNN has learned. One ad seen by CNN features a stock photo of a young woman at her graduation with her family. Russian text overlaid on the image reads, "For your future, for the future of your family." Another shows a picture of a chess set, with Russian text that translates to, "Isn't it time for you to make your move?" And another includes a drawing of a man walking over a bridge, with a Russian caption that reads, "Time to draw bridges." Some of the Russian in the ads is awkwardly phrased or contains typos -- an indication they may not have been written by a native Russian speaker. The ads direct to a page on the FBI Washington DC field office's website that has details in English and in Russian about the counterintelligence team and the address of the FBI field office in the city, "visit us in person," it reads. The FBI had three ads in Russian running on Facebook when they were discovered by CNN earlier this week, but a source familiar with the ad-buy confirmed they have been running throughout the summer. The FBI did not confirm any details about the ad campaign, how many people saw the ads or if anyone responded to them. However, the ads, which are run from the FBI's verified Facebook page are publicly viewable through a Facebook tool that tracks active advertising campaigns on the platform.

By Bart Jansen and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – After President Donald Trump said Monday he is trying to find out who reported concerns about his Ukraine phone call, whistleblower advocates said that person must be protected from retaliation and should be allowed to remain anonymous. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday that “we’re trying to find out ” who the whistleblower is. He reiterated that his July 25 call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” despite asking his counterpart to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. On Thursday, Trump was recorded telling a group that the whistleblower should be punished, noting that “spies and treason” in the past were handled “a little differently than we do now.” Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight, called Trump’s apparent desire to unmask the whistleblower “horrific and chilling.” “It’s the last thing a president should be doing if he really wanted to root out waste, fraud and abuse,” she said. Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA officer who is representing the whistleblower, tweeted Monday that the person “is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.” John Kostyack, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said “threats of reprisals by the president and his allies against the intelligence community whistleblower are contrary to our nation’s core ideal of freedom of speech.” “If we want to know about lawbreaking, we need to gather evidence from the people who have it," Kostyack said. "Any time we send a message that they are going to be punished, we are essentially discouraging people who have this evidence from stepping forward. We need them. We need whistleblowers." The whistleblower’s complaint is at the heart of the impeachment investigation of Trump at the House of Representatives. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 with the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson. The complaint reported the “urgent concern” that alleged Trump was abusing the power of his office to urge Ukraine to gather dirt on Biden.

By David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – As a new book details his efforts to stop illegal immigration, President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday he did not propose lining the Mexican border with a moat filled with snakes and alligators. "Now the press is trying to sell the fact that I wanted a Moot stuffed with alligators and snakes, with an electrified fence and sharp spikes on top, at our Southern Border," Trump tweeted, misspelling the word "moat." "I may be tough on Border Security, but not that tough," the president added. "The press has gone Crazy. Fake News!" Trump later sent out the same tweet with the correct spelling of "Moat," though he needlessly capitalized it. The book says that, in addition to closing the entire southern border, Trump at one point suggested radical and even violent ways to stop illegal crossings – including the snake-and-alligator-filled moat as well as shooting migrants in the legs. "Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate," according to the book "Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration."

by Jamie Ross - The Daily Beast
President Trump called Boris Johnson to ask for help in discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, The Times of London reports. Trump is said to have called Johnson on July 26, two days after the prime minister took office, and reportedly asked Johnson for help in gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign’s links to Russia. That call also was one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in the phone call that sparked the impeachment proceedings against him. Trump also contacted the Australian prime minister for help with an investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry. The Times reports Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump’s call with Johnson to attend a meeting of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. Barr reportedly told British officials that he suspected the information that led to the Mueller investigation came from British agencies.

By Jennifer Hansler and Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)Steve Linick, the State Department's inspector general, is set to hold an "urgent" briefing Wednesday with senior congressional staff members after Secretary Mike Pompeo Tuesday accused lawmakers of "intimidating and bullying" State Department officials by calling them for depositions related to the Ukraine inquiry. The meeting comes hours after Pompeo admitted earlier Wednesday that he was on the July 25 phone call in which President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, though this is no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president. Although Linick serves at the pleasure of the President, there are safeguards to prevent him from being quickly removed. "The President must communicate the reasons for the action in writing to both Houses of Congress at least 30 days before the removal or transfer," according to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. "These safeguards are meant to prevent IGs from being removed for political reasons or simply because they are doing an effective job of identifying fraud, waste, and abuse," it said. Linick, who was appointed to his post in September 2013 has a history of serving in oversight positions. At the State Department he oversaw the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. His May 2016 report on the probe was critical of Clinton, saying the former secretary failed to follow the rules or inform key department staff regarding her use of the private server. "At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department's policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act," the report stated. Clinton has long maintained that she had permission to use personal email.

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