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Donald J. Trump White House Page 36
By Kevin Breuninger

If the past week is any indication, President Donald Trump has indeed learned a lesson from his impeachment — but perhaps not the one that GOP Sen. Susan Collins had in mind. Rather than growing “much more cautious,” as Collins predicted he would, Trump appears to be throwing caution to the wind since being acquitted Feb. 5 by the Republican-led Senate on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump has ramped up attacks on his perceived political enemies and dismissed multiple officials in his administration who testified in the impeachment proceedings. Critics have characterized the moves as a campaign of “revenge.” He also weighed in on the sentencing of Roger Stone, his longtime friend and political advisor, who was convicted of lying to Congress about his contacts with the document disclosure group WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential elections. Trump’s salvos against the prosecutors in Stone’s case prompted accusations that he is putting his thumb on the scale in a federal criminal trial and politicizing the Department of Justice. “No serious person believes President Trump has learned any lesson,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “He doesn’t learn any lessons. He just does what he wants, what suits his ego at the moment.

Trump said Kelly has a "military and legal obligation" to "keep his mouth shut."
By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump blasted his former chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday after the ex-top aide said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman did the right thing in reporting his concerns about Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's president. "When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head," Trump tweeted. "Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do." "His incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that 'John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you,'' Trump continued. "Wrong!" Trump was responding to comments Kelly made during a 75-minute speech and question-and-answer session at a Wednesday night event before students and guests at Drew University in New Jersey, which The Atlantic reported. The retired Marine Corps general, who also served as Trump's Homeland Security secretary prior to taking on his job as chief of staff, said Vindman was simply following his military training in reporting concerns about Trump's call. That phone call, in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats, led to Trump's impeachment. Last week, the Senate acquitted the president on two charges, although it was the first time in history a member of a president's own party— Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah— voted to convict. Vindman "did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave," Kelly said. "He went and told his boss what he just heard." Vindman, who was the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council and testified in the House impeachment inquiry, was escorted out of the White House last week. Trump later attributed Vindman's removal to the impeachment. Kelly said Vindman was right to flag the call because it marked a huge change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine and suggested the content of that call was akin to hearing "an illegal order."

“War is the most solemn responsibility we have, and it cannot be outsourced to anyone,” Tim Kaine says.

The Senate on Thursday passed a resolution limiting President Donald Trump’s authority to attack Iran without congressional approval, delivering the president another bipartisan foreign-policy rebuke and flexing its constitutional power over military actions. The 55-45 vote came nearly six weeks after Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general who led the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds force. The strike drew immediate condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans, and it prompted Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to introduce a War Powers resolution aimed at re-asserting Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war.  Kaine’s resolution requires the president to cease all hostilities targeting Iran within 30 days unless explicitly approved by Congress. It is expected to pass the House later this month, but Trump is likely to veto the measure. It needed only a simple majority to clear the Senate. “War is the most solemn responsibility we have, and it cannot be outsourced to anyone,” Kaine said ahead of the final vote. “We have a special obligation to make sure we deliberate — and deliberate carefully — before we send troops into harm’s way.” In the years following the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force against al Qaeda and Iraq, Congress has largely abdicated its war-making powers to the executive branch. If Kaine’s bill clears through the House as expected, it will be the second time a War Powers resolution has reached Trump’s desk — after last year’s House and Senate passage of a similar bill to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. Trump vetoed that measure. Thursday’s vote capped a weeks-long push by Kaine and other senators to respond to Trump’s decision to strike Soleimani in Iraq, where administration officials claimed he was plotting attacks against Americans.

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said Wednesday that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry, was right to raise concerns about Trump's July call to Ukraine's president, The Atlantic reported. Kelly also believes that Vindman, who was fired from White House last week, told the truth during testimony before House investigators last fall. "Having seen something 'questionable (in the call),' Vindman properly notified his superiors," Kelly said at an event at Drew University, according to the magazine. "When subpoenaed by Congress in the House impeachment hearings, Vindman complied and told the truth." "He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave," he said, according to the magazine. "He went and told his boss what he just heard." Kelly said that when Vindman heard Trump tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he wanted the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, the ask was for the aide "tantamount to hearing 'an illegal order,'" The Atlantic reported. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted corruptly in Ukraine. "We teach them, 'Don't follow an illegal order. And if you're ever given one, you'll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss,'" Kelly said, according to the magazine. The comments by Kelly, a retired Marine general who left the White House in January 2019, come as Trump has suggested Vindman could face disciplinary action, though a US defense official with knowledge of the matter told CNN there is no Army investigation into the Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient. Although Kelly has previously voiced criticism of Trump since leaving the White House last year, he touched upon a wide array of subjects in the new interview and prompted a Twitter blast from the President later Thursday morning.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff offered a forceful rebuke of President Donald Trump's praise for the Justice Department's intervention in sentencing recommendations for longtime Trump associate Roger Stone, calling it a "direct attack" on the rule of law. "I'm struck by the fact that it's all out in the open. I mean, we will certainly learn about what's taking place behind the scenes, the sort of clandestine effort to weigh in and help the President's friends and hurt the President's enemies," the California Democrat told CNN's David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast. "But the fact that this is being done in the open in a way makes it more insidious, because it is normalizing this attack on the independence of our justice system." The lead House impeachment manager's comments come after Trump congratulated Attorney General William Barr on Twitter for "taking charge" of the sentencing recommendation for Stone -- a stunning endorsement of the controversial and politically charged decision to reduce prosecutors' recommended sentence. The intervention prompted the four federal prosecutors who had successfully taken Stone's case to trial to withdraw their involvement Tuesday. Stone is set to be sentenced next week for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional committee proceeding. "We now have a President, and an attorney general who's willing to go along with him, that is in the business of investigating political opponents. That is in the business of providing lenient sentences for those that will commit crimes to cover up for the President and try to get harsher sentences on people like Michael Cohen or others that will speak out against the President," Schiff said. "I've never witnessed in my lifetime or my consciousness -- I mean, we saw some elements of this, I guess, during Watergate -- such a wholesale assault on the rule of law here," he said, adding that "it's hard, when you see this going on in real time, to be optimistic."

By Kevin Breuninger

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks, a favorite former aide of President Donald Trump’s, is rejoining the administration to work for the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Hicks, 31, was hired as the chief communications officer at Fox after she left the White House in April 2018. She had worked for Trump since the 2016 election. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Hicks will serve as “counselor to the president and senior advisor, working for Jared Kushner’s office.” Kushner told NBC News in a statement: “There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks. We are excited to have her back on the team.” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior advisor, tweeted “Welcome back Hope!” on Thursday, after The New York Times first reported Hicks’ career switch. The Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted later Thursday that another ex-Trump official is expected to return to the White House: Johnny McEntee, Trump’s onetime personal assistant who was fired amid a reported Secret Service probe into his finances.

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