"Where you can find almost anything with A Click A Pick!"
Go to content
"Seeking liberty and truth above suppression and mendacity!"
"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump White House Page 49
By James LaPorta
Donald Trump got "rolled" by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a National Security Council source with direct knowledge of the discussions told Newsweek. In a scheduled phone call on Sunday afternoon between President Trump and President Erdogan, Trump said he would withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. The phone call was scheduled after Turkey announced it was planning to invade Syria, and hours after Erdogan reinforced his army units at the Syrian-Turkish border and issued his strongest threat to launch a military incursion, according to the National Security Council official to whom Newsweek spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. withdrawal plays into the hands of the Islamic State group, Damascus and Moscow, and the announcement left Trump's own Defense Department "completely stunned," said Pentagon officials. Turkey, like the United States, wants regime change in Syria. Russia and Iran support the Assad regime. "President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something," the National Security Council source told Newsweek. "The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that's the bottom line." Newsweek granted the National Security Council official anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The source said it would not be surprising to see a Turkish incursion in the next 24 to 96 hours. Turkey has long considered the Kurdish militia in Syria to be a terrorist insurgency, despite the United States providing military and financial aid to the group in its fight against ISIS, the Islamic State militant group. A battle with the vastly superior military of Turkey, a NATO ally, could drive the Kurds into the arms of Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator that Washington wants ousted, and by extension into an alliance with Russia and Iran, two U.S. rivals with forces in Syria. The White House said late Sunday evening in a statement that Turkey will soon invade northern Syria but both the Defense Department and Trump on Twitter said they made clear to Turkey that they do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria. "As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," said Trump on Twitter Monday. "They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families...it is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory." According to the NSC official, who had first-hand knowledge of the phone call, Trump did not endorse any Turkish military operation against Kurdish Forces, but also did not threaten economic sanctions during the phone call if Turkey decided to undertake offensive operations. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial "Caliphate," will no longer be in the immediate area." The New York Times reported Monday that about 100 to 150 American forces would withdraw from northern Syria but not completely from the country. Newsweek confirmed the Times reporting but the National Security Council official said the number was closer to 230 service members, among them U.S. Special Forces and reconnaissance units. more...

“They’re all over the world,” the “Daily Show” host said of Trump’s sons. “It’s like The Amazing Race with no running and no chins.”
By Matt Wilstein
With Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings in the news, Trevor Noah turned his attention to the issue of nepotism Wednesday night. “The truth is, your name could be a big reason that you get a leg up in life,” The Daily Show host began. “With that said,” he added, “you can’t deny, it’s not a good look that a Ukrainian company hired Hunter Biden just months after Joe Biden became the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. Because it looks very much like he got this business because of his father’s position.” “And I understand why a lot of people would complain about that,” he continued. “What I don’t understand is why these people are complaining about that.” With that, he cut to a clip of Donald Trump Jr. accusing Hunter Biden of trading on his name and Eric Trump arguing that he and his brother are exempt from criticism because they do not sit on any corporate boards. “First of all, I’m not surprised nobody has put Beavis and Forehead on any corporate boards,” Noah said. “I don’t even think they’re allowed on diving boards.” But more importantly, the host said, “If there was ever an example of people who got opportunities because of their names, it’s these two.” For instance, if Donald Trump Jr. was not Donald Trump’s son, Noah asked why anyone would be paying him $50,000 to make a speech. “To share his expertise on bad beards?”  “Also, if Trump’s sons are actually concerned, like truly concerned about children of politicians doing business overseas,” Noah added, “then can someone please explain to me why they have been doing this?” He then allowed various news reports to lay out the details of continued foreign projects currently being carried out by Eric and Don Jr. on behalf of the Trump Organization. “Yeah, that’s right, even with their dad in office, the Trumps are still growing their business in places like India, Philippines, Indonesia, Uruguay,” Noah said. “They’re all over the world. It’s like The Amazing Race with no running and no chins.” But “at least Donald and Eric are one step removed from the Trump presidency,” Noah said before turning his attention to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who have official roles in the White House and yet still have entanglements with businesses that benefit from foreign money. more...

By Tami Luhby, CNN
(CNN) - The Trump administration has acknowledged that its proposed changes to the food stamp program could leave nearly 500,000 children without access to free school lunches. The US Department of Agriculture released an analysis late Tuesday afternoon that showed the agency's proposed rule would mean nearly 1 million children would no longer be directly certified for free school meals based on their participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps. About half of those children would continue to be eligible to receive free meals because they come from families with annual household incomes of no more than 130% of the federal poverty level, or $33,475 for a four-person family in 2019. However, another 497,000 kids would only be eligible for reduced-price meals since they come from households with annual income of between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty level, or no more than roughly $47,650. These students would have to pay a maximum of 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. Another 40,000 students from families with higher incomes would have to pay for their meals. The proposed rule, unveiled in July, curtails so-called broad-based categorical eligibility, which makes it easier for Americans with somewhat higher incomes and more savings to receive food stamps. It could strip more than 3 million people of their benefits. Republicans have long argued that this expanded eligibility option is a "loophole" that permits those with higher incomes and assets to get public assistance. Consumer advocates, however, say that the option helps low-income working Americans get the help they need. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, first raised concerns in July that half a million kids could be affected by the proposed rule. He called on the agency to revise its proposal to include the estimate. more...

William Barr’s Wild Misreading of the First Amendment
By Jeffrey Toobin
William P. Barr just gave the worst speech by an Attorney General of the United States in modern history. Speaking at the University of Notre Dame last Friday, Barr took “religious liberty” as his subject, and he portrayed his fellow-believers as a beleaguered and oppressed minority. He was addressing, he said, “the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; this is organized destruction.” Historically illiterate, morally obtuse, and willfully misleading, the speech portrays religious people in the United States as beset by a hostile band of “secularists.” Actually, religion is thriving here (as it should be in a free society), but Barr claims the mantle of victimhood in order to press for a right-wing political agenda. In a potted history of the founding of the Republic, Barr said, “In the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people—a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order.” Not so. The Framers believed that free government was suitable for believers and nonbelievers alike. As Justice Hugo Black put it in 1961, “Neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against nonbelievers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.” But the real harm of Barr’s speech is not what it means for historical debates but what it portends for contemporary government policy. The real giveaway of Barr’s agenda came near the end of his speech when he said, with curious vagueness, “Militant secularists today do not have a live-and-let-live spirit—they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.” What’s he really talking about here? Barr and the Trump Administration want religious people who operate businesses to be allowed to discriminate against L.G.B.T.Q. people. The Trump Justice Department supported the Colorado bakers who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple (in a case that the Supreme Court basically ducked last year), but more such lawsuits are in the pipeline. Innkeepers, restaurant owners, and photographers are all using the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment to justify their refusal to serve gay customers. This is Barr’s idea of leaving “religious people alone to practice their faith.” The real beleaguered minorities here are gay people who are simply trying to be treated like everyone else, but Barr twists this story into one about oppression of believers. The heart of Barr’s speech is devoted to a supposed war on religion in education. “Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me, this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty,” he said. He asserted that the problem is “state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options.” Again, Barr engages in a measure of vagueness to obscure his real subject. Historically, parochial schools have flourished largely outside of government supervision and, just as important, without government funding. This reflects the core meaning of the establishment clause, which enshrines the separation of church and state. But, in recent years, a key tenet of the evangelical movement (and its supporters, like Barr) is an effort to get access to taxpayer dollars. In a major case before the Supreme Court this year, the Trump Administration is supporting religious parents who want to use a Montana state-tax-credit program to pay for their children’s religious schools. This effort is also a major priority of Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, who is pushing for the increased availability of taxpayer vouchers to pay for religious schools. Barr portrays these efforts as the free exercise of religion when, in fact, they are the establishment of religion; partisanship in the war between the religion clauses is one of the signatures of Trump’s tenure in office. Of course, the necessary corollary to providing government subsidies to religious schools is starving the public schools, which are open to all children, of funds. more...

Lawmakers said the measure was necessary to ensure state investigations don't get derailed by the president.
By Allan Smith and Dareh Gregorian
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure Wednesday that would allow the state to pursue charges against people who have received a presidential pardon — a law seen as a direct shot at President Donald Trump. Multiple ex-Trump aides or associates are imprisoned or facing legal scrutiny in New York. The president, whose business and campaign are both headquartered in New York, also is facing numerous federal, state and congressional investigations related to his administration, campaign and business dealings. The newly signed law creates a narrow exception in the state's double jeopardy law, which prohibits the prosecution of a person who's been tried for the same crime by the federal government. The change takes effect immediately. "No one is above the law and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them," Cuomo said in a statement. "The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law." The New York measure was introduced by state Attorney General Letitia James, who began investigating the finances of the president and the Trump Organization earlier this year. That probe came after Cohen told Congress that Trump had inflated the worth of his assets in financial statements to secure bank loans. James has said the law was necessary because double jeopardy "exists to prevent someone from being charged twice for the same crime, not to allow them to evade justice altogether." "We have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who commit crimes under New York state law are held accountable for those crimes," James said in a statement Tuesday. "This critical new law closes a gaping loophole that could have allowed any president to abuse the presidential pardon power by unfairly granting a pardon to a family member or close associate and possibly allow that individual to evade justice altogether. No one is above the law, and this commonsense measure will provide a reasonable and necessary check on presidential power today and for all presidents to come." Trump has dismissed her efforts as "presidential harassment." The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News. more... - That is not presidential harassment job, but what Trump did to Obama was presidential harassment.

By Sonam Sheth
Newly uncovered tax documents from President Donald Trump contain several discrepancies that real-estate experts said could point to financial fraud, ProPublica reported on Wednesday. The documents obtained by ProPublica were part of records for four Trump properties in New York City: Trump International Hotel and Tower, 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and 1290 Avenue of the Americas. Tax records for 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower reportedly contained discrepancies that could raise some red flags — specifically, the numbers made the properties look more valuable to lenders and less valuable to tax authorities, ProPublica said. In one instance in 2017, according to ProPublica, Trump told a lender that he got twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities that year. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, told the outlet she couldn't see why there were inconsistencies in the first place, adding that they looked like "versions of fraud." Trump has been at the center of several financial scandals. The New York Times reported last year that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield a $400 million inheritance from the IRS. And in September, Mother Jones published an investigation that found that Trump might have fabricated a loan to avoid paying $50 million in income taxes. But Trump has long maintained that he has committed no financial or tax crimes. He has said he can't release his tax returns because they are under audit, even though there is no rule to prevent him from doing so. But the president may soon be forced to give his tax returns to investigators. On October 7, US District Judge Victor Marrero ordered Trump to turn over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors investigating whether he violated state laws by fabricating business records. Days later, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the president to turn over the past eight years of his tax returns to the House Oversight Committee, saying lawmakers have the right to see the documents. Trump's lawyers have said they will fight both decisions and take them to the Supreme Court if they have to. But the public may still get a window into the president's closely held financial documents thanks to an employee at the IRS who recently blew the whistle on "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's audit of Trump's tax returns. According to The Washington Post, the person accused of trying to interfere with the audit is a political appointee at the Treasury Department. more...

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday redirected an attack from President Donald Trump on Twitter, turning a photo he had tweeted of her during a contentious White House meeting with the caption "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!" into her Twitter cover shot. The image released by the White House shows the California Democrat standing with her finger pointed at a seated Trump during a meeting in which congressional Democratic leaders said the President had a "meltdown." Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill noted the change on Twitter, writing, "Thanks for the new cover photo @realDonaldTrump!" Reporters were not allowed in the meeting Wednesday and CNN does not typically report on photos released by the White House because they cannot be independently verified as an accurate depiction of the events in the room. Pelosi reclaiming and promoting the image that Trump meant as an attack, however, marks a notable -- and newsworthy -- exception. Democratic leaders were at the White House for a meeting on Syria, which came shortly after the House overwhelmingly in a bipartisan vote passed a resolution opposing the Trump administration's troop withdrawal. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the top congressional Democrats said they had walked out. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said they had done so when Trump "started calling Speaker Pelosi a third-rate politician." "He was insulting, particularly to the speaker. She kept her cool completely, but he called her a third-rate politician," Schumer said. "This was not a dialogue, it was sort of a diatribe. A nasty diatribe, not focused on the facts." Pelosi later said Trump had actually referred to her as a "third-grade politician." more...

By Rachel Layne
In announcing a preliminary trade agreement with China last week, President Donald Trump touted the accord as "the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country." Yet questions remain about how great and big the pact ultimately will prove to be for U.S. farmers. The deal calls for China to buy between $40 billion and $50 billion a year in American farm products, according to U.S. trade officials. Experts are skeptical such a goal is achievable. The reason: Chinese imports of U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural commodities peaked in 2013 at $29 billion, according to U.S. government data. The trade war pushed that figure down to $9 billion last year. As a result, simply restoring Chinese purchase of U.S. farm products to 2013 levels would be a "big achievement," Arthur Kroeber, an analyst with investor advisory firm Gavekal Research, said in a note to clients this week. Another potential wrinkle is that China's commitment to buying more U.S. farm goods is contingent on their needs and on market prices, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. China may be pushing for the U.S. to drop plans for new 15% tariffs on $156 billion in consumer goods due to take effect December 15, using the farm purchases as leverage, the Journal noted. "Shocking! You mean China's not going to buy $40-50 billion in ag products until our tariffs are lifted? Couldn't have seen that one coming," Farmers for Free Trade, a lobbying group that opposes the tariffs, said in a sarcastic tweet Wednesday. more...

'Don't be a fool!' the letter reads. The president concluded by saying, 'I will call you later.'
By Dareh Gregorian and Peter Alexander
President Donald Trump wrote Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an extraordinary letter warning him not to be "a tough guy" or "a fool" as his forces launched their attack on northern Syria, a White House official confirmed to NBC News. "Dear Mr. President," the Oct. 9 letter began, "Let's work out a good deal! You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will." Trump then referred to economic sanctions his administration used on the country to push for the release of an American pastor who'd been locked up in Turkey, calling it "a little sample" of what could be in store. "I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal," Trump wrote, asserting that the commander of the Kurdish forces is "willing to negotiate with you." "History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way," Trump wrote to Erdogan. "It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" "I will call you later," the letter concludes. It's signed, "Sincerely, Donald Trump." The letter was first reported by Fox Business Network, and the White House official confirmed its contents. Trump appears to be proud of the missive — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the president handed out copies of it during a heated meeting with Congressional leaders on Wednesday. more...

By Elliot Hannon
It’s not Trump’s taxes, the whole enchilada, but ProPublica got ahold of property tax documents of the Trump Organization, adding to the growing corpus of financial info on the president that strongly points to Trump deploying a secret financial weapon to maintain the appearance of “successful businessman”—fraud. ProPublica collated financial info from public sources and found the president was reporting different numbers on his properties to lenders and tax authorities. Trump arranged the numbers to paint a rosier picture of his buildings’ performance for lenders to secure cheaper loans, and then rearranged those numbers to look less profitable when reporting to the taxman in order to lower his property taxes. “The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records,” ProPublica reports. “We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.” The site reviewed records for four Trump buildings and found noticeable discrepancies at two properties in particular—40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. more...

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump's real estate business reported different financial figures for two of his Manhattan properties to lenders than to New York tax authorities, according to documents obtained by ProPublica. The different sets of numbers on expenses, profits and occupancy figures resulted in the two buildings appearing more lucrative to lenders and less so to city officials assessing property taxes, ProPublica found in an investigation published Wednesday. ProPublica obtained the property tax documents through the state of New York's Freedom of Information Act law and loan records after Trump's lender sold the debt on the properties, making them public. The Trump Organization did not respond to questions from ProPublica or CNN. ProPublica had reviewed the documents for four Trump properties, finding discrepancies involving two of them -- 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Trump has not publicly released his tax returns, claiming that he's barred from doing so because he's under IRS audit. Being under IRS audit does not prevent someone from making their tax returns public. CNN previously reported that Trump believed in 2013 and 2014 that releasing his tax returns as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time. According to ProPublica, Trump's company reported to New York City tax officials that it made about $822,000 in 2017 renting out space in the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- which Trump owns only a portion of -- to two commercial tenants. However, the company told Ladder Capital that it made $1.67 million that same year — more than twice as much reported to tax authorities, ProPublica reported. ProPublica also found that Trump had given conflicting occupancy figures for 40 Wall Street, recently rebranded as "The Trump Building." The Trump Organization told the lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased as of December 31, 2012. A few years later, the occupancy level had been raised to 95%. The company reported to tax officials that the building was 81% rented as of January 5, 2013. The figures in the tax and loan reports finally matched up in January 2016, ProPublica noted. The portrayal of an increase in occupancy and prediction that revenue would surge were critical to helping Trump secure a refinance loan for 40 Wall Street, according to ProPublica. Experts told ProPublica that there can be legitimate reasons for the differences in tax and loan documents but that the multiple inconsistencies lacked a clear explanation. As President, he has faced numerous legal challenges seeking the release of his tax returns, including from House Democrats and the Manhattan district attorney. Trump on Friday lost his appeal to stop a House subpoena of his tax documents from his longtime accountant Mazars USA. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling saying the firm must turn over eight years of accounting records. more...

Chuck Schumer said the dramatic moment unfolded after Trump referred to Pelosi as a "third-rate politician."
By Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday angrily walked out of a White House meeting with President Donald Trump after he had a "meltdown," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say," Pelosi told reporters outside the White House with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer said the dramatic moment unfolded after Trump referred to Pelosi as a "third-rate politician." more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - The White House is launching a new effort to slow the speeding Democratic impeachment push, but its noncooperation strategy is being constantly thwarted by a daily stream of explosive secrets being spilled behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Current and former officials are painting an ever more damning picture of a wider than originally perceived scheme by President Donald Trump and his crew to pressure Ukraine that they warned could amount to a trampling of US law. Vice President Mike Pence launched a new effort Tuesday to bolster White House hopes of stalling the House inquiry long enough for Trump to turn public opinion against it. He refused to turn over documents related to Trump's now notorious call with the President of Ukraine on July 25. But White House officials are becoming increasingly frustrated at revelations from the closed-door hearings. Given that there is no presidential counsel in the room, they struggle to frame a defense, learning about almost daily bombshells only from news reports, CNN reported on Tuesday. And the possibility that former national security adviser John Bolton -- who may have little incentive to shield the President who recently ousted him -- could soon be called to testify will do little to ease the impression among White House officials that they are flying blind. Fresh testimony in recent days has elevated the crisis for Trump. It has appeared to expose an off-the-books effort to perform an end run around US foreign policy officials with political appointees that predated his notorious phone call with the President of Ukraine in which he sought dirt on his possible 2020 foe Joe Biden. On Monday, former senior White House Russia aide Fiona Hill testified that she had tried to raise the alarm about possibly illegal activity -- and had been encouraged to do so by Bolton. A senior State Department official, George Kent, testified Tuesday that he'd been told by a supervisor to lie low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's meddling in Ukraine, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who sits on the House Oversight Committee. More peril looms for the White House on Thursday, when Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, is expected to tell lawmakers that a text he sent to a colleague insisting there was no quid pro quo offered to Ukraine was dictated by the President himself. The most worrying development so far this week for the Trump team is that Hill's stunning mention of Bolton raises the possibility that a possibly disgruntled former national security adviser, who was forced out under a cloud, may have an incentive to offer testimony that could damage his former boss. Trump's rather worn defense of his actions exemplifies the depth of his problem. The Ukraine story has outpaced the President's attacks on a whistleblower who first exposed the story and his defense of his "perfect" call with Ukraine's President. Trump's allies are bemoaning what they say is a lack of due process in the Democratic impeachment investigation -- but they often seem unable to effectively parry the damaging tidbits leaking out of depositions. Trump's defense is beginning to look insufficient: The President stuck to generalities on Tuesday. "We just hit the greatest economy we've ever had. 'Let's impeach the President' -- isn't that a good idea?" Trump said during an event with the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. "I wouldn't worry about it, fellas. I wouldn't worry about it," the President told several senators in the audience, referring to impeachment -- raising questions as to whether he understands the seriousness of his plight. more...

Trump's presidency is disintegrating as he faces his worst 30 days since taking office
By Sonam Sheth and John Haltiwanger
The past month has been the worst stretch of time in Donald Trump's entire presidency.
A little over a week ago, Trump abruptly decided to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria. The move prompted bipartisan criticism in Washington, including rare blowback from congressional Republicans, who accused the president of effectively abandoning US-allied Kurdish forces to a Turkish military invasion. The Kurds bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against the terrorist group ISIS, losing roughly 11,000 fighters, and Trump was promptly accused of betraying US allies. Meanwhile, Trump was warned by US lawmakers and former officials that his decision could catalyze the resurgence of ISIS and create a power vacuum that Russia would be happy to fill. Turkey invaded Syria last Wednesday, and within a week the situation has spiraled into a humanitarian catastrophe that ISIS and Moscow have already exploited. Beyond the criticism of Trump's Syria retreat in Congress, leaders in Europe have said the president has significantly undermined the US's credibility by leaving the Kurds to fend off the Turkish assault. Trump officials come out of the woodwork, defying his orders to stonewall Congress All this comes as the president is besieged on the domestic front by an escalating congressional impeachment inquiry examining whether Trump used his public office for private gain. At the heart of the investigation is an unprecedented whistleblower complaint filed by a US intelligence official. The controversy exploded in mid-September, when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff revealed the existence of the complaint to the public. Specifically, the intelligence official alleged that Trump repeatedly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to investigate corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump also asked Zelensky to help discredit the FBI's finding that Russia secretly worked to help elect Trump. Beyond asking a foreign power for dirt against a political rival ahead of an election, Trump is battling allegations that he held up a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine days before the phone call to maintain leverage over Zelensky. In the weeks since, Trump officials have come out of the woodwork — defying his and other top officials' orders to stay silent — to offer testimony in the impeachment inquiry. more...

FBI officials were 'rattled' and 'blindsided' by Trump's call for Ukraine to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden
By Sonam Sheth
Three years ago, the FBI launched an unprecedented investigation focused on one question: Did President Donald Trump's campaign help a foreign power interfere in the 2016 election? Now, just months after that investigation was formally closed, FBI officials are stunned the president is openly calling for another country to intervene in another presidential election. One special agent, who spoke with Insider on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press, said officials were "rattled" not just by the nature of Trump's actions but also by his brazenness. "You walk down the halls and there was this sense of dread, and everyone's kind of thinking, did the president really do this?" the agent said. The agent was one of four current and former officials Insider spoke with about the matter. In addition to feeling undermined by the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into the Russia probe's origins, sources also said FBI officials were frustrated with how the Justice Department handled a criminal referral related to a whistleblower's allegations against Trump, saying it added to a sense that the bureau was being "neutered." At the heart of the controversy are Trump's repeated efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Biden is one of the 2020 Democratic front-runners and Trump's chief political rival. Trump ordered his administration to hold up a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine in July. A few days later, on July 25, the president had a phone call with Zelensky, during which Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart the US "does a lot for Ukraine." Zelensky acknowledged that and said Ukraine wanted to purchase more Javelins — a powerful US-made anti-tank missile — from the US. Trump immediately followed up and told Zelensky he would like Ukraine to "do us a favor, though," and investigate Biden. Trump made no direct mention of the aid package, but his request was alarming enough to White House officials and others on the call that they began discussing how to "lock down" all records of the conversation, and White House lawyers immediately began working on damage control, according to a whistleblower complaint a US intelligence official filed against Trump in August. Officials are concerned about whether the FBI is being 'neutered as an organization' One US official who works in counterintelligence told Insider that staff at the bureau were not only "blindsided" by the contents of Trump's call with Zelensky but also frustrated with the Justice Department's handling of the matter. Michael Atkinson, the intelligence-community inspector general, and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, sent the whistleblower's complaint to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation because of concerns that the president may have violated campaign-finance laws by asking the Ukrainian government to manufacture dirt on his political opponent. The Justice Department's criminal division reviewed the whistleblower's complaint and determined that there were no grounds for an investigation of Trump's behavior. Officials are said to have decided that the White House summary of Trump's phone call with Zelensky didn't constitute a campaign-finance violation because he didn't ask for a financial contribution or an "item of tangible value." They did not interview any witnesses or gather more facts outside of reviewing the summary of the call. The Justice Department's actions were a departure from the norm because typically, in such cases, the FBI investigates if there was criminal wrongdoing and makes a recommendation to the Justice Department on whether or not to press charges. Here, the US official said, "the DOJ made the decision right off the bat, and that was viewed by many as a slap in the face and usurping the FBI's independence and judgment." It also added to concerns about whether the FBI was being "neutered as an organization," the official said. 'Everyone says they did their jobs, and yet they're being accused of treason' Complicating matters is the fact that all this occurred against the backdrop of Attorney General William Barr spearheading a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. There is no evidence that the FBI or the Justice Department acted inappropriately while investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election. But Trump and his allies in Congress and the media have long called for an investigation into purported corruption and anti-Trump bias within the Justice Department, which they claim was the catalyst for the Russia probe. more...

By Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump lacks authority to block a subpoena that seeks his tax returns and financial records for a criminal investigation, attorneys for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued Tuesday in a federal appeals court filing. Responding to an argument last week by Trump's lawyers that sitting presidents have complete immunity from criminal investigations, Vance's legal team argued, "This extravagant claim is unsupported by constitutional text, statute or case law, and is equally absent from historical texts and government memoranda." Even the U.S. Department of Justice, which has backed other legal arguments raised by Trump, "stops far short of endorsing this view," Vance's legal team wrote in a 52-page brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The brief also challenged an argument by Trump's lawyers that the only constitutional method to deal with allegations of misconduct by sitting presidents is through the impeachment process. "The reality is that" Trump "has refused to participate in the very impeachment process that he presents here as the bulwark against placing a president above the law," Vance's lawyers argued. "His core position on every one of these matters is that the United States Presidency places him beyond the reach of the law." Trump would not suffer "irreparable harm" if the financial records and tax returns are turned over because they would be destroyed or returned, with no public disclosure, if federal courts upheld his immunity claim, the Vance brief said. However, the New York grand jury that issued the subpoena could be harmed because statutes of limitations on pursuing potential crimes could expire while the case is being appealed, the brief added. Trump "has made it abundantly clear that his litigation tactics will be to pursue indefinite delay in an effort to frustrate the grand jury," Vance's team argued. Appeal has been fast-tracked because of its importance: The battle features high personal and political stakes for Trump, who is fighting on multiple fronts with Congress and other parties to keep his tax returns and financial records private. The New York case has been fast-tracked because of its legal significance. It was just over a week ago that Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero ruled Trump could not shield his tax returns from Vance's investigation. Marerro's 75-page ruling rejected what he called Trump's "extraordinary claim" that "the person who serves as president, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind." That, wrote Marrero, would represent "virtually limitless" protection from criminal investigations – not only for sitting presidents but for associates who might have collaborated in illegal actions. He ruled that Trump was unlikely to succeed on the legal merits of his claim. more...

Al Jazeera English - China wants to hold more talks to hammer out the details of “phase one” of a trade deal touted by Donald Trump. The US has delayed tariff increases that were scheduled to come into effect on Tuesday. But after months of losses and uncertainty, businesses in China are still under pressure to branch out to new markets. Al Jazeera's Rob Matheson reports from Shanghai. more...

By Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
After a violent video depicting President Donald Trump on a murder rampage against members of the media and political opponents was shown during a conference at a Trump resort, the people "killed" in the video have called on him to denounce it. It's an edited version of the film "Kingsman: The Secret Service," featuring a church massacre scene. In the video, Trump's face is superimposed over the body of a shooter who brutally attacks and kills congregation members with faces of media organization logos and critics. The White House said Monday morning that Trump had not yet seen the video but would see it soon. Based on what he had heard, though, he strongly condemned it. Here's what we know so far about the video and how it ended up being played in a room at Trump's Miami-based resort during a conference put on by a pro-Trump group. Where did the video come from? The group TheGeekzTeam is a pro-Trump meme video generator with nearly 20,000 YouTube subscribers. Its Youtube page has several videos featuring Trump violently attacking Democrats and media organizations. In a similar one, musician and actor Donald Glover's music video for the song "This is America" is spoofed to again show Trump shooting members of the media. The first existence of the "Kingsman" video appears to be in a YouTube upload from the meme group in July 2018, which was also tweeted out at the same time. The caption of the video reads, "Fake News is very real and very present. Even through all the hate thats thrown at Trump daily, he still wants to help this nation back on it's feet and make it great again!" How did the video end up at the conference? The American Priority conference organizer, Alex Phillips, says organizers were not aware of the video and did not approve its usage at the event. Phillips said it was part of a "meme exhibit" that was played in a "side room" and submitted by third parties. The conference agenda did include a breakout session called "Memetics." Phillips said the first time organizers were aware of the meme was when The New York Times, which first reported on the video, contacted them. Phillips told The Times that "this matter is under review." The Times said that it obtained footage of the clip being played at the conference by an attendee, who passed it onto an intermediary, who then sent it to a reporter. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech," Phillips said. Who is in the video? The lawmakers depicted being shot, stabbed and set on fire in the video include a plethora of Trump critics from both sides of the aisle. Republicans Sen. Mitt Romney and the late Sen. John McCain are among them. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama are some of the many progressives attacked in the video. Celebrity comedian Kathy Griffin, who was in the video, condemned it as more than just a joke. "I'm depicted as being murdered by The President of the United States in this video," Griffin tweeted late Sunday. "The left, right & center left me hanging out to dry regarding the Trump mask photo. Please don’t let it happen again. No, this video isn’t a joke to his followers. And it will not be taken as such." more...

By Mitch Prothero
In 24 hours, the estimated 1,000 elite US troops based in northeastern Syria to fight the Islamic State have found themselves overrun by Syrian, Turkish, and Russian military units. It follows an abrupt series of confusing orders to conduct an immediate withdrawal, taken in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the region and allow Turkey to invade. US troops had occupied a series of command and observation posts along the Syria-Turkey border as part of a mission to lead the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish militia, against the Islamic State. The region was thrown into chaos in the past week, however, by a Turkish incursion into the area designed to confront the armed Kurdish groups there. The hasty withdrawal was announced Saturday by President Donald Trump, who said all US troops in Syria would withdraw as soon as possible, barring a single base in the desert along the Syria-Jordan border. US units were soon faced with heavy artillery strikes by Turkey that on Sunday appeared to target US positions. They also had to deal with fast-shifting control of cities and major motorways that were their pathway out of the country. As of Tuesday at least one small unit of US forces, estimated to consist of 50 to 100 soldiers, was trapped by advances from two sides: by the Turkish forces along the border and Russian-backed Syrian government forces, who began arriving into the formerly Kurdish controlled cities of Raqqa, Manbij, Kobani, Qamishli, and Ayn Issa. "Two [observation posts] were located in the area around Kobani and these units were cut off from the rest of Rojava by the Turkish advance on one side and the arrival of regime militias from the west into Manbij," said a Western military official who until recently had worked closely with the SDF. more...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it was unable to share documents with the House of Representative committee pursuing an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, citing “legal and practical concerns.” In a letter seen by Reuters, the Pentagon said the House of Representatives did not have a resolution authorizing an impeachment investigation, adding that it could not produce documents in the eight days it was given to comply with the subpoena. more...

By Nathaniel Weixel
A federal judge on Tuesday overturned ObamaCare protections for transgender patients, ruling that a 2016 policy violates the religious freedom of Christian providers. Judge Reed O’Connor in the Northern District of Texas vacated an Obama-era regulation that prohibited insurers and providers who receive federal money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity or termination of pregnancy. It also required doctors and hospitals to provide “medically necessary” services to transgender individuals as long as those services were the same ones provided to other patients. O’Connor, the same judge who last year ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, said the rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. His ruling is likely to be appealed. The ObamaCare rule was initially challenged in court in 2016 by a group of Christian providers called the Franciscan Alliance as well as five conservative states. They argued that the rule forces insurers to pay for abortions and compels doctors to perform gender transition services even if they disagree with those services on moral or medical grounds. O’Connor agreed and issued a nationwide injunction against enforcing the rule. The injunction meant that even though the provisions remained in effect, the Obama administration could not sue a hospital or provider for not complying. President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services initially defended the rule, but the Trump administration decided to drop its defense and argued the rule should be sent back to the agency to be rewritten. more...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has vetoed a joint resolution of Congress that sought to terminate his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border with Mexico, the White House said on Tuesday. Trump declared the emergency to circumvent Congress and take money already designated for other programs to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall he promised to build during his 2016 campaign. Last month, the Democratic-led House passed the joint resolution by 236-174, as 11 Republicans and one independent joined Democrats to vote in favor. The Republican-led Senate had approved the measure days earlier, by 54-41. Eleven of the Senate’s 53 Republicans joined Democrats favoring the resolution. “The situation on our southern border remains a national emergency, and our armed forces are still needed to help confront it,” Trump said in his veto message. Trump used the very first veto of his presidency in March to strike down a similar measure that had cleared the House and Senate. Congress was unable to muster the two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override that veto and is not expected to do so this time. more...

The president had hoped to surprise the parents of dead British teen Harry Dunn with a meeting with the woman who killed him—all in front of the media.
By Barbie Latza Nadeau
You can almost imagine the reality-show excitement that surely went into the ill-considered plan to introduce Anne Sacoolas, the American diplomatic wife who killed 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn when she drove down the wrong side of an English lane in August, to Dunn’s grieving parents. Sacoolas left the U.K. in early September under diplomatic-immunity protections and has not been seen in public since. The Dunn family, now in the United States to drum up support to send Sacoolas back to the U.K. to face justice, had accepted an “urgent” invitation by the White House from National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, to visit Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Trump, it seems, thought he could convince the Dunns to meet the woman who killed their son, and would do so by opening a side door through which she would walk. The whole scene would be captured by a pool of photographers who had been summoned for the meeting. But the Dunns would have none of it and refused to meet her. Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger said that the family felt “ambushed” when the “bombshell” was dropped that Sacoolas was next door. They had envisioned meeting her one day, but as Seiger told The Daily Beast, “only on British soil” and “only with mediators, counselors, and their legal team in tow.” In a statement on the Dunn’s Justice4Harry GoFundMe page, Seiger explained what happened. “The family had four surprises yesterday,” he wrote. “Firstly, being invited to the White House in the first place which came right out of the blue.” In fact, Dunn’s father Tim had suggested on CBS News earlier in the day that he would like to meet the president “man to man, father to father” to plead with him to send Sacoolas back to face justice. more...

A federal appeals court will re-hear a lawsuit that challenges President Trump's ownership of a luxury hotel five blocks from the White House.
By Pete Williams
A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia that challenges President Donald Trump's ownership of a luxury hotel five blocks from the White House. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case dismissed in July. But the full appeals court agreed late Tuesday to re-hear the case, which has the effect of wiping out the panel's ruling and giving Maryland and DC another chance to argue their case, claiming that Trump's holdings present a conflict between his business profits and the nation's interest. DC Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh praised the appeals court's action. "We look forward to arguing our case before the full panel to stop President Trump from violating the Constitution and profiting from the presidency.” They claim that Trump's hotel ownership violates the Constitution's emolument's clauses, which bar the president from receiving "any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state" or any state in the US. Their lawsuit, filed in 2017, said he improperly benefits financially whenever foreign or state governments patronize the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. more...

By Jason Lemon
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough pointed to President Donald Trump's vast international business empire as the leading influencer on his foreign policy decisions, saying people simply need to "follow the money." "Donald Trump does not look at foreign policy as a way to help the United States of America," Scarborough, who previously served as Republican congressman from Florida but now identifies as an independent, claimed during his show Morning Joe. "I've said for years, that if you want to understand his moves when it comes to foreign policy, you've got to follow the money." Scarborough pointed out that Trump has been a strong supporter of Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom being behind the grisly murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. Khashoggi was killed and cut into pieces with a bonesaw by a team of Saudi agents, widely believed to be linked directly to the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, shortly after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just over a year ago. The president has repeatedly defended the kingdom, calling them a "great ally." "Donald Trump bragged on the campaign trail that the Saudis love his quote toys [or apartments] and paid him $150 million, paid his businesses in the past," Scarborough said. He then pointed to Trump's business interests in Russia, the Philippines and Turkey, arguing that these have a significant bearing on his foreign policy decisions as well. The Trump Organization opened a $150 million, 57-story skyscraper in the Philippines capital of Manila in 2017. Back in 2012, his company opened Trump Towers in Istanbul. The president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, personally tweeted her thanks to then-Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, now the nation's president, for attending the launch party. During Trump's presidential campaign, his company was actively pursuing a deal to launch a tower development in Moscow. "We don't know all that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has on Trump, but we do know this, that [Trump's oldest son] Don Jr. said several years ago ... that they get most of their money from Russians," the MSNBC host explained. He went on to suggest that the president's recent decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, allowing Turkey to advance into the country, was related to his business interests in Istanbul. "Istanbul, you've seen the picture of Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump going and opening up Trump Towers," he said. Scarborough and many other Trump critics have repeatedly raised concerns about the president's domestic and international business interests, and the potential influence they could have on his decisions as commander in chief. Going against precedent, Trump chose to remain the sole-owner of the Trump Organization after he was elected, instead of divesting or placing the company into a blind trust. His sons, Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, currently manage the day-to-day operations and the president has stated he is not involved with any decision-making for the company. more...

By Jason Lemon
MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle confronted Republican Senator Rand Paul with President Donald Trump's own children's foreign business deals after the congressman suggested Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine should be investigated. "Hunter Biden made $600,000 from a Ukrainian company," Paul said, after he was asked by Ruhle about Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani being paid $500,000 to work for the company of Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, who was arrested last week over alleged campaign finance violations. "So, if we want to investigate Rudy Giuliani's financial dealings, by all means do it. But at the same time, you should, if you want to be fair, investigate Hunter Biden's economic dealings in Ukraine as well," he argued. Ruhle jumped on Paul's point and asked the senator if Trump's children's foreign business deals should also be investigated thoroughly. "Does that mean we should be looking deeper into how Jared Kushner's family got foreign money for 666 Fifth Avenue? How Ivanka Trump got 13 trademarks from the Chinese government, how she was able to expand her brand since the president took office?" the MSNBC anchor said. "I mean, giddy-up, let's do it." Paul, who represents Kentucky, then suggested that investigating those concerns would be "going down the road of the politics of self destruction" and would somehow "criminalize all politicians." "Nobody really should excuse themselves and say 'we're holier than thou and Trump is evil,' instead of saying 'it looks like there's been a lot of self-dealings throughout history," the congressman added. Trump and his family's vast international business empire has raised alarm bells from ethics and legal experts since the president's election. Going against precedent, Trump chose to forgo divesting from his company or placing it in a blind trust while he is in office. Although he has handed over day-to-day operations to his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president remains the sole-owner of the Trump Organization. Legal experts have argued that foreign governments paying to host events or to stay at Trump's properties violates the Constitution's Emoluments Clauses, which stipulate that the president cannot accept gifts from foreign countries or use their office to enrich themselves. Additionally, ethics experts have raised their eyebrows as Ivanka Trump, who serves as a senior adviser to her father, has been granted numerous trademarks in China as the White House remains embroiled in a trade dispute with the Asian superpower. more...

Bombshell testimony shows alarm over White House-Ukraine shadow diplomacy was early and deep
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Some of the White House's most senior foreign policy officials were trying to raise the alarm about the administration's potentially illegal activity in Ukraine well before President Donald Trump's now notorious call with his counterpart in Kiev, according to stunning new testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, said in a startling deposition Monday that then-national security adviser John Bolton told her to tip off White House lawyers about the activities of Giuliani and others, according to sources familiar with her testimony. Bolton's advice followed a meeting two weeks before the call between the two presidents on July 25, one source said. The detail suggests that senior figures inside Trump's White House were deeply concerned that the activities by the President and those close to him could reach the level of illegal behavior -- a potentially significant turn in the three-week-old impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. While it remains unclear whether Trump or his lawyer Rudy Giuliani did actually break the law in going around official channels to deal with Ukraine, much of the conduct now emerging at least appears unethical, off-the-books of regular diplomatic activity and more expansive than it initially appeared. On Tuesday, Giuliani's lawyer informed Congress the former New York City mayor will defy House Democrats' impeachment subpoena. The Office of Management and Budget also does not plan to turn over the documents that impeachment committees subpoenaed, a spokeswoman said. The new testimony could seriously challenge White House arguments that Trump did not abuse his power by asking a foreign leader for dirt on a domestic political foe: Joe Biden. It adds to a growing tapestry of evidence that suggests that the call between the US and Ukrainian Presidents and a whistleblower account of behind-the-scenes activity in the White House represents just the tip of the iceberg of what may have been going on. According to sources familiar with the testimony, Hill quoted Bolton as saying that Trump's lawyer, who was freelancing on Ukraine policy apparently at the President's request, was a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up." Bolton is now almost certain to be called as a witness -- a dangerous prospect for a President who ousted him after disagreements over North Korea and Russia policy. According to the sources familiar with Hill's testimony, she also said Bolton warned her that he would not get caught up in what he referred to as a "drug deal" being cooked up on Ukraine by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Hill also testified that the public discord over issues like Ukraine sowed confusion about American policy and was the kind of corruption that the Russians could exploit, according to another source with knowledge of the testimony. Hill said "corruption is how Putin accesses our system," the source said, although the source did not specify to what exactly Hill was referring. Hill is a former intelligence official and Russia scholar who specializes in the Russian President. The new details were first reported by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Danger sign for the White House: The testimony of Hill, formerly senior director for Russian and European Affairs on the National Security Council, may also be a sign that the White House will not succeed in its effort to prevent all former officials from testifying as part of a strategy of blanket non-cooperation with the inquiry. In a letter to the White House counsel's office, Hill's lawyer rejected the idea that much of her testimony would be subject to executive privilege since many details of the affair were now public -- including Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 -- a rough transcript of which was released by the White House itself. And in an eye-opening warning, the lawyer, Lee Wolosky, cited precedent to the effect that privilege disappears if "government misconduct occurred," in an apparent suggestion of possible criminal activity within the White House. One source told CNN that Hill, a Trump appointee, saw "wrongdoing" in the White House approach to Ukraine and tried to report it to officials. Hill was concerned that Giuliani was circumventing the State Department to run what some Democrats have labeled a "shadow foreign policy" by seeking the removal of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and pushing for Ukraine to open an investigation into the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Ukraine by either Biden. Two of Giuliani's associates who helped to investigate Biden's role in Ukraine were arrested at Dulles Airport outside Washington last week as they tried to leave the country and were indicted on campaign finance charges. What makes Hill's testimony especially interesting is the fact that she was not on Trump's call with Zelensky on July 25. She had officially left her post by then. That means that her account relates to the period before the telephone call -- suggesting that the scheme to pressure Ukraine was much longer in the making than it first appeared. more...

Giuliani is staunchly opposed to cashing in on political connections — unless he’s doing it.
By Aaron Rupar
For months, Rudy Giuliani has played a leading role in the ongoing effort by President Donald Trump and his allies to gin up a scandal surrounding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. But new reporting about Giuliani’s own business dealings with shadowy Ukraine-linked figured shines a light on just how hypocritical his posturing has been. On Monday, both Reuters and the Washington Post reported that Giuliani received $500,000 from a company founded by a man at the center of a scheme to funnel foreign payments to Republican groups, including the pro-Trump super PAC “America First Action,” in 2018. The company in question has the unfortunate name of Fraud Guarantee and was founded by Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American associate of Giuliani’s who was arrested with Igor Fruman (another Giuliani associate) last week. Both men were charged with making false disclosures related to hundreds of thousands of dollars of political contributions that were meant to conceal their foreign origins. As my colleague Andrew Prokop wrote, Parnas and Fruman are often described as “fixers” for Giuliani, and the three men collaborated in a successful effort to oust the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, amid the Trump administration’s efforts to cajole the new Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. Reuters reports that Fraud Guarantee marketed itself as helping clients “reduce and mitigate fraud,” but details surrounding the company remain murky. In interviews with the Post and Reuters, Giuliani insisted the payments he received for consulting and legal services did not originate from foreign sources — but he had a remarkably hard time explaining where else they might have come from. From Reuters: more...

By Selena Simmons-Duffin
The very day President Trump was sworn in — Jan. 20, 2017 — he signed an executive order instructing administration officials "to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay" implementing parts of the Affordable Care Act, while Congress got ready to repeal and replace President Obama's signature health law. Months later, repeal and replace didn't work, after the late Sen. John McCain's dramatic thumbs down on a crucial vote (Trump still frequently mentions this moment in his speeches and rallies, including in his recent speech on Medicare). After that, the president and his administration shifted to a piecemeal approach as they tried to take apart the ACA. "ObamaCare is a broken mess," the president tweeted in the fall of 2017, after repeal in Congress had failed. "Piece by piece, we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!" Two years later, what has his administration done to change the ACA, and who's been affected? Below are five of the biggest changes to the federal health law under President Trump. more...

George Kent reportedly testified to House intelligence committee that he warned colleagues about ‘disinformation’ campaign back in March
By Joanna Walters
George Kent arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday to testify before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. Giuliani under investigation: Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges, Giuliani has told Reuters today. The businessman, Lev Parnas, is a close associate of Giuliani and was involved in his effort to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Giuliani said Parnas’ company, “Fraud Guarantee”, based in Boca Raton, Florida, whose website says it aims to help clients “reduce and mitigate fraud”, engaged Giuliani Partners, a management and security consulting firm, around August 2018. Giuliani said he was hired to consult on Fraud Guarantee’s technologies and provide legal advice on regulatory issues. Federal prosecutors are “examining Giuliani’s interactions” with Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, who was also indicted on campaign finance charges, a law enforcement source told Reuters on Sunday. The New York Times reported last week that Parnas had told associates he paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for what Giuliani said was business and legal advice. Giuliani said for the first time on Monday that the total amount was $500,000. more...

Florida Republican gets kicked out of meeting he was never supposed to be in at the first place
By Chris Riott - independent
A loyal supporter of Donald Trump has been removed from a closed-door impeachment hearing after House officials ruled he had no right to be there. Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, had attempted to crash a meeting put together by the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees — the official congressional panels spearheading an impeachment inquiry into the president. There was just one problem: Mr Gaetz does not serve on any of the three panels handling the inquiry. He was swiftly ejected from the room and stayed outside shortly after to complain to reporters about the situation. Mr Gaetz argued that, because the House judiciary committee, of which he is a member, has previously led impeachment enquiries, he should have been allowed in the room. “It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Mr Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?” The Republican congressman was attempting to enter the closed-door hearing with Fiona Hill, Mr Trump’s British-born former top aide on Russia and ex-deputy assistant to the president. Mr Gaetz has repeatedly called for an end to the impeachment inquiry, and on Monday was roundly mocked on Twitter for trying to crash the meeting. Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, tweeted: “I suspect there is concern that Gaetz entered the room to be Trump’s eyes and ears.” Elie Honig, another former federal prosecutor, said: “This is a mob tactic - send a tough guy into the courtroom to glare at the witness.” “I’ve seen much tougher guys than Gaetz do it,” he added. As the former prosecutor noted, Mr Gaetz previously tweeted a seemingly threatening message to Mr Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen the night before he was set to testify before the House oversight committee. “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat,” he wrote at the time. “I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot.” The House ethics committee later launched an investigation into incendiary tweets he posted about the president’s former attorney. He later apologised and was cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida bar. Ms Hill was testifying before the House panels surrounding Mr Trump’s phone call with Ukraine, which sparked allegations of the president abusing his power by seeking foreign aid in his 2020 re-election efforts. A memorandum of a phone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed Mr Trump requesting a “favour” from Mr Zelensky before discussing one of his political rivals, Joe Biden, a 2020 contender for the White House. The memorandum shows Mr Trump urging Mr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Mr Biden and his son, Hunter, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them. more...

Shredding allegedly took place in first week of December 2016 Publisher American Media calls story ‘completely untrue’
By Martin Pengelly
American Media and the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper shredded sensitive documents about Donald Trump shortly before the 2016 election, the reporter Ronan Farrow alleges in a book published on Tuesday. Ronan Farrow on investigating Harvey Weinstein: ‘When family issues are thrown at me, it’s a dirty move’ In Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow writes that the shredding happened in the first week of November 2016, on the day the Wall Street Journal reported a Playboy model’s claim to have had an affair with Trump and American Media’s role in keeping the story quiet. That process is referred to in the title of Farrow’s book. According to Farrow, Dylan Howard, then editor of the Enquirer, ordered a staffer to “get everything out of the safe” and said “we need to get a shredder down there”. Farrow writes: “The staffer opened the safe, removed a set of documents, and tried to wrest it shut. Later, reporters would discuss the safe like it was the warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones, but it was small and cheap and old.” Farrow quotes an employee of the Enquirer as saying “a larger than customary volume of refuse” was collected from the Enquirer offices later the same day. He also quotes a “senior AMI employee” as saying: “We are always at the edge of what’s legally permissible. It’s very exciting.” On CNN on Monday morning, Farrow said the safe contained details of alleged consensual affairs and payoffs and also allegations of assault by Jill Harth, who in a 1997 complaint accused Trump of “attempted ‘rape’”. In October 2016, amid a flood of allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump, she stood by that allegation in an interview with the Guardian. The Enquirer endorsed Trump and published negative stories about his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Farrow’s claims were reported before the book’s publication by outlets including Politico, CNN and the Daily Beast. An attorney for Howard said in a statement the former editor would not comment, “while all legal options and jurisdictions are being considered”. A spokesman for American Media said in a statement: “Mr Farrow’s narrative is driven by unsubstantiated allegations from questionable sources and while these stories may be dramatic, they are completely untrue.” Catch and Kill has also sparked intense controversy over its coverage of sexual assault allegations against the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and NBC host Matt Lauer, which both men deny. Ronan Farrow reveals extreme measures Weinstein took to bury alleged crimes The book is the subject of legal threats around the world but still went on sale on Tuesday. In an interview with the Guardian published last weekend, Farrow said the factchecking process had been so rigorous, one factchecker “got a stress nosebleed”. “I’ll let the reporting in the book stand on its own,” Farrow told CNN. Farrow writes that the safe which held the Trump material belonged to Barry Levine, then executive editor of the Enquirer. Levine is now co-author, with Monique El-Faizy, of the forthcoming book All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator. more...

CBS This Morning - We're learning about former National Security Adviser John Bolton's alarm over the Trump administration's Ukraine policy. Bolton reportedly wanted White House lawyers to be alerted in July when he learned about efforts to pressure Ukraine. Bolton's former aide, Fiona Hill, testified Monday before House impeachment investigators. Nancy Cordes reports. more...

CNN - A source tells CNN that Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser, testified that former national security adviser John Bolton referred to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up," as first reported by The New York Times. more...

By Nicole Gaouette and Michael Callahan, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday giving the Treasury Department "very significant new sanctions authorities" against Turkey, but the US doesn't have any immediate plans to use them, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday. "We are not activating the sanctions," Mnuchin said. "These are very powerful sanctions. We hope we don't have to use them, but we could shut down the Turkish economy if we need to." News of the potential sanctions, which could be used to target any part of the Turkish government or any person associated with it, fell flat. In a flurry of bipartisan criticism, some lawmakers said "conditional sanctions" were insufficient, while others charged the move was an attempt to stymie Congress. Senators and former officials pointed out that Ankara already appears to have blasted through the administration's threshold for triggering penalties on multiple fronts, from attacks on civilians to undermining counterterrorism operations in northeastern Syria. Meaningless nonsense' Some senators questioned Trump's seeming reluctance to sanction Turkey and raised an eyebrow at his administration's decision to team up with Russia on Thursday to oppose a UN Security Council resolution by European countries condemning Turkey's actions. One critic called the gesture "meaningless nonsense" and noted it came on a day when the Pentagon confirmed that US Special Forces had come under fire from Turkish positions. Trump, who has a well-established affinity for authoritarian leaders, has invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House in November. The sanctions order comes as the administration struggles to respond to a backlash against Trump's decision to pull US troops out of northeastern Syria. Analysts say the pullout has given Erdogan room to act on his long-held goal of attacking the Kurds who fought for and with the US against ISIS. "President Trump gave Turkey the green light to attack the Syrian Kurds the moment he agreed to Erdogan's request to move American Special Forces away from key Kurdish-controlled areas," said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. "The idea that the Administration is now going to sanction Turkey to protect the Kurdish people rings totally hollow," Van Hollen said. "This is nothing but an effort to stop the Congress from taking action to try to prevent further loss of life and get a Turkish withdrawal." Republican lawmakers in particular have harshly denounced Trump's decision as a betrayal of the Kurds and a strategic blunder that will weaken American credibility, reverse gains against ISIS, make it harder for the US to build alliances and give a boost to Russia, China and Iran. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, issued a statement Friday saying that "conditional sanctions aren't appropriate for the threat we face. When it comes to dealing with Erdogan and protecting our Kurdish allies, the Trump Administration needs to up their game." Otherwise, Graham said, "the conditional sanctions ... will be viewed by Turkey as a tepid response and will embolden Erdogan even more." Graham was among those who pointed to abuses that surpassed the administration's benchmark for levying penalties against Turkey. The Treasury statement had said that Trump's threat of sanctions was meant to dissuade Turkey from actions that included "the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, targeting of civilian infrastructure, targeting of ethnic or religious minorities." Graham pointed to the fact that Turkey is clearly engaged in targeting ethnic minorities, as the point of its attack on Kurds in northeastern Syria is to target Kurds. "We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in Syria by Turkey, the destruction of a reliable ally in the Kurds, and the reemergence of ISIS," he said. 'What's the bar?' On Thursday, a senior State Department official said the US would not stand for "inhumane" and "disproportionate" activity by the Turks, which would "include ethnic cleansing" and "indiscriminate artillery, air and other fires directed at civilian populations." more...

Do Republicans want to count the population or not? Trump's doing everything he can to screw up the census
By Sophia Tesfaye
One of the first changes Donald Trump made after inheriting the White House from Barack Obama was to hang a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. The president viewed as a vicious racist even by the standards of his time once pushed back at a Supreme Court chief justice following a decision involving Jackson's treatment of the Cherokee nation, saying: “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Almost 200 years later, Trump stood in the White House Rose Garden hours after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had voted with the "liberal" justices to stop the administration’s attempt to rig the 2020 census — and declared his own intention to go around that ruling. After a two-year-battle to politicize the census by including a question about citizenship status, which experts say would result in an undercount, the Trump administration dropped its pursuit following the Supreme Court’s decision. The administration had initially argued it needed citizenship data to help prepare for voting rights cases, but because Trump's Department of Justice had never engaged in such litigation, Roberts determined that rationale “seems to have been contrived.” He remanded the case to lower courts to be reconsidered, but no time was left before scheduled printing began. Instead Trump signed an executive order directing the Commerce Department, which houses the Census Bureau, "to strengthen its efforts ... to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship." So in August, the Census Bureau entered a proposal for a general clearance to acquire state administrative records, such as those of recipients of public-assistance programs, into the federal registry. Although the bureau already receives some administrative records from states, it has complained that the records it receives are stripped of identifiable information. With more than a month left open for public comment and consideration on the proposal, the Associated Press reported on Monday that the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators confirmed that nearly every state has recently received additional requests from the Census Bureau for information including citizenship status, race, and home address. This move is strongly reminiscent of the request for sensitive voter data from every state made by Trump's now-defunct “election integrity” commission, led by notorious vote-suppression guru Kris Kobach, and is clearly meant to serve as an end-run of the Supreme Court’s ruling. While acquiring citizenship data through a direct inquiry on the census was not ruled illegal — Roberts instead determined that bureau officials were not honest in their answers to the district court — collecting citizenship information through the census bureau still presents similar problems. more...

By Jessica Campisi
President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he was paid $500,000 for his work at a company co-founded by an associate who was arrested on campaign finance charges. Giuliani told Reuters that Fraud Guarantee, Lev Parnas’s Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, took on Giuliani Partners as a management and security consulting firm around August 2018. Giuliani was hired to consult with the company and provide legal advice. Giuliani also said he received two payments within weeks of each other but did not say when they were made. Parnas, a Ukraine-born businessman, was one of two Giuliani associates who helped the former New York City mayor in efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry after revelations that Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son. The latest development comes after The New York Times noted last week that Parnas told associates he paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for his work. Parnas and Igor Fruman, another Florida-based businessman, were arrested last Wednesday at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets. They arrests came hours after they had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. more...

Published Mon, Oct 14 20195:05 PM EDTUpdated an hour ago
By Tyler Clifford
An Ohio farmer and former Republican Party official told CNBC on Monday that President Donald Trump can’t win his vote back, even if the president went above and beyond what’s humanly possible. Chris Gibbs, a soybean and corn farmer whose family owns and operates 560 acres of farmland, said on “Power Lunch” he’s “dubious” about the $40 billion to $50 billion worth of agricultural buys from China that the Trump administration last week announced after another round of trade talks. “I’m not going to vote for the president, and I’m on record for saying that,” said Gibbs, a former chairperson of the Shelby County Republican Party. “He could come up with this $50 billion, he could walk across my pond and not get wet, and I’m still not going to vote for him because, you know, at the end of the day my name is Chris Gibbs, it’s not Judas, and I’m not going to sell my political moorings for 30 pieces of silver.” Gibbs was one of millions of voters who gave Trump Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, helping him win the White House in the 2016 election against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Republican president won more than 78% of the vote in Shelby County, which is on the west side of the state. Ohio is historically seen as a critical path for both Republicans and Democrats to win presidential elections. “I’m out,” Gibbs said. more...

By Sinéad Baker
President Donald Trump escalated his war on Fox News again, slamming the anchor Chris Wallace for his coverage of the Ukraine scandal and comparing Wallace unfavorably to his father, who died in 2012. Trump tweeted on Sunday: "Somebody please explain to Chris Wallace of Fox, who will never be his father (and my friend), Mike Wallace, that the Phone Conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was a congenial & good one. "It was only Schiff's made up version of that conversation that was bad!" he added, referring to Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Trump has rejected that there was any wrongdoing during his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which was the basis of an explosive whistleblower complaint that last month prompted Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump. The White House's notes of the call showed that Trump, shortly after saying the US does "a lot for Ukraine," asked Zelensky to investigate the dealings of Joe Biden, the former US vice president who's now Trump's election rival, in Ukraine while Biden's son was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Schiff, who's leading the inquiry stemming from the whistleblower complaint, has described Trump's call with Zelensky as a "classic Mafia-like shakedown." Trump has repeatedly accused Schiff of treason. Mike Wallace, who died in 2012 at age 93, was a longtime CBS journalist who interviewed Trump when he was still a businessman for "60 Minutes." Following his father's death, Chris Wallace described him as "the best reporter I have ever known." more...

By Daniel Dale
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump said again on Friday that Americans need identification to buy groceries, which remains not true. "You know, if you want to go out and buy groceries, you need identification. If you want to do almost anything you need identification. The only thing you don't need identification for is to vote, the most important single thing you're doing -- to vote," Trump said at a campaign rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Trump added: "You know why? Because they cheat like hell, that's why." Voter fraud is exceedingly rare, and there is no evidence of mass cheating by Democrats. Friday wasn't the first time that Trump claimed Americans need identification for their grocery purchases. He said the same at a Florida rally in July 2018. The day after the Florida rally, his then-press secretary, Sarah Sanders, told reporters that Trump was referring to purchases of "beer or wine." But three months after that, Trump told the conservative Daily Caller that ID is required "if you buy, you know, a box of cereal." Grocery stores require identification for alcohol and tobacco purchases (for proof that customers are of legal age), purchases of certain medications, and when customers are paying by check. Costco, the membership chain, requires identification to become a member. And shoppers at other stores might occasionally be asked for identification when paying by credit card. But these are exceptions, not the rule. Millions of Americans buy groceries every day without being asked for any ID. Other false claims: It's not true that "you don't need identification" to vote anywhere in the country. Thirty-five states -- including Louisiana, where Trump was speaking on Friday -- have some kind of voter identification requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of these states require photo identification, while some allow other forms of identification. Trump made other false claims at the Friday rally. more...

By Rachel Frazin
The U.S. census bureau is asking states for drivers’ license records, which normally includes citizenship data, and information on people who receive government assistance The Associated Press reported Monday. The reported requests follow a recent Supreme Court decision earlier this year that said the Trump administration can't put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. After the ruling, Trump signed an executive order directing the Commerce Department, which houses the census bureau, "to strengthen its efforts ... to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship." The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators told the wire service that most states were given requests for information such as citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. Spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey told the AP in an email that “each state is making their own determination how to respond.” Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) told AP he would not turn over the information. “We, as a general rule, are not comfortable with giving out our data, certainly not in such a huge amount. That was the overriding concern,” his spokesman told the AP. A Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokeswoman told the AP the department has received the request but hasn't responded. Andrea Senteno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which has contested the executive order, told the AP that motor agency vehicle records are "bad at determining when someone is not a citizen.” “The Census Bureau usually plans for these types of big changes in their operations many, many years in advance, but they don’t have enough time right now to actually plan and provide clear information to the public about how they are going to use these administrative records,” Senteno said. “They’re flying by the seat of their pants right now.” more...

By Kevin Breuninger
President Donald Trump signed an executive order sanctioning Turkish officials, hiking tariffs on Turkish steel up to 50% and “immediately” halting trade negotiations with the country, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Monday. Trump had announced the order in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter earlier Monday afternoon. “This Order will enable the United States to impose powerful additional sanctions on those who may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home, forcibly repatriating refugees, or threatening the peace, security, or stability in Syria,” Trump’s statement read. The retaliatory measures followed Trump’s decision to order the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria’s northern border with Turkey, which has enabled Turkish forces to launch an offensive against the U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria. Turkey and Kurdish groups have clashed for years, and Ankara recently signaled that it planned to carry out operations against the Kurds near Syria’s northern border with Turkey. The White House announced Oct. 6, following a call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that it would pull U.S. troops out of the area. The abrupt foreign policy shift drew a rare wave of bipartisan criticism against the president, including from some of his most committed allies in Congress. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for instance, publicly trashed Trump’s move and announced plans to work with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a joint resolution to overturn the withdrawal. Spokesmen for the Kurds have accused the U.S. of having “abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.” Trump took to social media to defend himself against the torrent of criticism. He pushed back on the more hawkish voices against him, writing Sunday: “Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight.” Shortly before announcing the sanctions and tariff hikes, Trump wrote in a thread of tweets that “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte.” “I hope they all do great,” Trump said of whoever might come to help the Kurds, a stateless ethnic group that was integral to helping the U.S. defeat the ISIS caliphate in the Middle East. “We are 7,000 miles away!” more...

The Supreme Court earlier this year blocked the Census Bureau's plans to include a citizenship question in its 2020 population count.
By Associated Press
The U.S. Census Bureau is asking states for drivers' license records that typically include citizenship data and has made a new request for information on recipients of government assistance after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked plans to include a citizenship question in its 2020 population count. The two approaches, documented by The Associated Press, alarm civil rights activists. They caution that inaccuracies in state motor vehicle records make them a poor choice for tracking citizenship, if that is the bureau's goal, and they see the requests as an extension of earlier efforts that could chill Latino participation in the 2020 Census. After the U.S. Supreme Court nixed the plan by President Donald Trump's administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the president signed an executive order in July requiring the U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to compile citizenship information through state and federal administrative records. Specifically, it ordered the department to increase efforts "to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship." The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators told The AP that most, if not all, states recently received requests for information including citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. The association has advised members to consult their privacy officers when deciding how to respond. "Each state is making their own determination how to respond," association spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey said in an email. In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White denied the request. "We, as a general rule, are not comfortable with giving out our data, certainly not in such a huge amount. That was the overriding concern," said spokesman Dave Drucker. Other states are weighing what to do. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received the request but hasn't responded, spokeswoman Beth Frady said. The request has alarmed Latino advocacy groups. Motor vehicle agency records are notoriously inaccurate and "bad at determining when someone is not a citizen," said Andrea Senteno, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is challenging Trump's executive order. more...

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah
(CNN) - There was an interesting development about Fox News in recent days, and it wasn't just about the sudden departure of anchor Shephard Smith. Why did Attorney General Bill Barr meet Wednesday night with Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch, and (as the New York Times reported) do so at the media mogul's home? Neither would publicly comment, but the meeting — between a public servant who has shown himself increasingly as a Trump loyalist, and the owner of the President's longtime favorite, cheerleading, cable news network — has raised a few eyebrows, and with good reason. As Rep. Harley Rouda, a California Democrat who serves on the House Oversight committee, bluntly declared on my SiriusXM radio show Friday: "What the hell is the attorney general of the United States doing meeting with the head of Fox? And for what purpose could that possibly be, especially in light of the fact this is happening exactly at the same time the president of the United States is saying Fox News isn't being kind enough to him?" Rouda added he believes it's within the purview of the House Oversight committee to investigate this meeting. A key — and consequential — question that might be answered by the committee is whether was this a legitimate meeting concerning the government business or was it to help Trump's 2020 campaign? Recall that the attorney general of the United States, per the Justice Department's own website, serves as the "chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government." Barr himself testified in May, under oath, before Congress about his focus as attorney general, "I'm in the business of determining whether a crime has been committed." Was Barr investigating potential crimes in his meeting with Murdoch and if so, were they so significant that the AG himself had to travel to New York, as opposed to sending FBI agents? Or maybe the visit with Murdoch — a Trump supporter and confidant — was about something else altogether. As he fends off an impeachment inquiry while trying to run for reelection, Trump has indeed become increasingly critical of Fox News. He slammed a Fox News poll last week that showed 51% of those surveyed think he should be impeached and removed from office. "Whoever their Pollster is, they suck," Trump explained on Twitter. In mid-August, he told reporters, "Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it." Trump followed up that criticism with numerous similar tweets over the past few months, one criticizing what he dubbed the "new" Fox News for — in his view — allowing the DNC's communications director to appear on the network and go unchallenged. "We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn't working for us anymore!" he groused. More recently, in late September, Trump went after Fox News's Ed Henry — including retweeting a tweet that described Henry as a "lying shit head" — for simply asking a guest if he was OK with Trump asking Ukraine's president in his July 25 phone call to "dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden and his son." more....

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

By Mark Joseph Stern
One of Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees unleashed a bizarre and embarrassing dissent on Friday that seeks to shield the president from congressional oversight while flouting Supreme Court precedent. The author of Friday’s dissent, Neomi Rao, was Trump’s choice to fill Brett Kavanaugh’s old seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Her opinion marks a lawless effort to insert the judiciary into the House of Representatives’ investigations into Trump, limiting lawmakers’ ability to access potentially incriminating evidence. It also implies that federal courts could stop the House from impeaching Trump. In short, Rao is running interference for the president who put her on the bench. Trump v. Mazars, Friday’s decision, revolves around the House Oversight Committee’s subpoena of Trump’s financial records at Mazars, his former accounting firm. The committee provided four reasons for the subpoena: It wished to determine whether Trump accurately reported his finances, has maintained conflicts of interest in office, illegally accepted payments from foreign governments, or committed crimes. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that Congress’ constitutional authority permits it to conduct investigations so long as they’re related to a “valid legislative purpose.” Again, here, the committee provided several such purposes: It sought to learn whether the House should pass stricter ethics reforms or demand the disclosure of foreign payments to the president that might violate the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause. Trump intervened to attempt to shoot down the subpoena, and the Justice Department backed him up. By a 2–1 vote, the D.C. Circuit found that the subpoena must be enforced because it furthered a “valid legislative purpose.” Writing for the majority, Judge David Tatel noted that the Office of Government Ethics has “identified an error in one of the several reports that President Trump had filed since he became a presidential candidate in 2015.” His former attorney, Michael Cohen, later testified before Congress that Trump manipulated his finances, inflating or deflating assets “when it served his purposes.” The House has already passed H.R. 1, a sweeping ethics bill that would implicate the issues in question. But the Cohen incident, among others, led lawmakers to speculate that more reforms—like more exacting disclosure rules for presidents and presidential candidates—may be necessary. As Tatel wrote, “Information revealed by the subpoena could inform the Senate as it considers the bill, as well as any subsequent conference committee or the House itself, should it reconsider the bill post-conference.” more...

By turning his back on the Kurds, the president has done irreparable damage to America’s standing in the world. That’s by design.
By Fred Kaplan
President Trump didn’t make a “mistake” in pulling troops out of northeastern Syria last week, as many have charged. It’s what he has long wanted to do. The mistake was not understanding—and, more to the point, not caring about—the consequences. Trump’s fateful phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 6, giving him the green light to cross the Syrian border and crush the Kurds without U.S. resistance, did more than any single act has ever done to demolish the post-WWII global order and isolate America from the rest of the world. This, again, has been Trump’s goal since he entered the White House. Until recently, one or more of his advisers—Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster, John Bolton, or Gen. Joseph Dunford—obstructed or dissuaded him from withdrawing. Now all of those advisers are gone, and their replacements lack either the clout or the gumption to push back.  Trump may believe that he’s doing the right thing, that abandoning the rest of the world’s problems will “make America great again.” He doesn’t realize that America’s might and wealth depend, in large measure, on the cooperation it receives from others—either offered or coerced—in pursuing its interests around the world. He is also blind to the fact—or loath to admit—that he, in fact, is not getting out of the world. On Friday, days after abandoning the Kurdish allies to the Turks (and consequently, all of Syria to Bashar al-Assad and the Russians), Trump announced that he was sending 1,800 troops to Saudi Arabia. But to Trump’s mind, there was a big difference in this deployment. “Saudi Arabia, at my request, has agreed to pay us for everything we are doing to help them,” he told reporters. “That’s a first. We appreciate that.” It was as if sending American troops abroad doesn’t count as a commitment if taxpayers don’t have to pay for it. It was as if Trump were telling the world that the U.S. military is now a mercenary force. It was a message to any country currently hosting American troops at least in part at our largesse—because, say, previous presidents have considered it in U.S. interests to keep troops there—that they should start rethinking their options for how to stay secure. Trump has made a practice of abrogating treaties, filching on commitments, and alienating allies, but, more than any single act, the betrayal of the Kurds should tell everyone that—as long as Trump is president and, who knows, perhaps beyond—there is no reason to trust the United States on anything. Western powers, including the United States, have abandoned the Kurds several times over the decades, but Trump’s act was astonishing even by that dismal standard. For the past five years, the main U.S. mission in Syria has been to destroy the ISIS caliphate. The Kurds provided the most potent fighters, and lost 11,000 of them, in that battle; the United States lost a mere eight. And then, with that mission (sort of) completed, Trump allowed the Turks to mow down the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led militia that did the bulk of the fighting and dying. more...

By Daniel Dale, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump is making a brazen attempt to rewrite the reality of his dealings with Ukraine. He has said at least 18 times over the last 15 days that the whistleblower who lodged a highly accurate complaint about his phone call with Ukraine's President had been highly inaccurate. And over the weekend, he pushed three other fictions -- reversing the timing of two events and touting a supposed Nancy Pelosi quote there is no evidence the House speaker ever said. Pelosi's reaction to the call: Trump has been slamming Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for performing a rendition of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that included words Trump did not say. But Trump himself appears to have concocted comments from Pelosi -- repeatedly describing supposed Pelosi quotes that are the opposite of what she has publicly said. Trump claimed last Monday, Friday and Saturday that Pelosi expressed surprise and dismay after Trump released the rough transcript of the call with Zelensky. His suggestion was that Pelosi had found, and said, that the call was more innocent than she was first told. "When she saw it, she said, 'This is not what the whistleblower said,' " Trump told reporters on Monday at the White House. "She was angry as hell when she got to read the transcript. Because she said, 'Wait a minute, that's not what I was told,' " Trump said at his Friday rally in Louisiana. "She was very angry when she read the actual call," Trump said at his Saturday speech to the Values Voter Summit of social conservatives. Facts First: There is no evidence Pelosi said or thought that the rough transcript was underwhelming or substantially different than she expected. "It's complete fiction," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told CNN of Trump's claim. While we can't know what Pelosi might have said in private, Pelosi's public statement on the Trump call was scathing. We've explained that Schiff's account of Trump's call was at very least confusing and that Trump had reasonable cause to be miffed. It's worth noting, though, that Schiff did say he was offering the "essence" of Trump's words, not a verbatim recitation, and that at least some of Schiff's comments closely resembled what the rough transcript shows Trump said. Trump's Pelosi statements, conversely, have no apparent basis in fact. The call and the ambassador: Trump is facing scrutiny over his decision to recall Marie Yovanovitch from her job as ambassador to Ukraine. She testified to Congress on Friday that she had been the victim of "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives," including Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates. Trump offered a different explanation in a Fox News interview on Saturday. He said Zelensky had told him, "out of the blue," that he didn't like Yovanovitch. "But even if you listen to the very good conversation that I had, a very, very good, no-pressure, congenial conversation with the new President of Ukraine, he had some things that were not flattering to say about her. And that came out of the -- out of the blue," he told Fox host Jeanine Pirro. "So, you know, it would be nice to have somebody that he liked, because he's going -- the person will have to deal with the President of Ukraine." Zelensky's criticism of Yovanovitch had not come out of the blue. more...

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

By Rebecca Kheel
Congressional Republicans appear poised to hand President Trump a stinging rebuke of his Turkey and Syria policy when lawmakers return to Washington this week. GOP lawmakers, furious over Trump’s decision to withdraw troops to make way for a Turkish offensive against Kurdish allies, are preparing legislation that would force the administration to impose sanctions on Turkey. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday that Trump would sign an executive order giving the Treasury Department “very significant” new sanctions authorities against Turkey, but it’s unclear whether the move will be enough to placate Republicans on Capitol Hill.  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the announcement “welcome news,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the administration needs to “up their game.” “We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in Syria by Turkey, the destruction of a reliable ally in the Kurds, and the reemergence of ISIS,” Graham tweeted after Friday’s announcement. “The conditional sanctions announced today will be viewed by Turkey as a tepid response and will embolden Erdogan even more,” he added, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “The Turkish government needs to know Congress will take a different path — passing crippling sanctions in a bipartisan fashion.” Graham, alongside Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is expected to introduce harsh sanctions against Turkey this week as a punishment for its incursion into northern Syria against the Kurds, longtime allies of the U.S. more...

By Brendan Cole
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that a new nuclear weapons deal needed to be struck urgently as he criticized the decision by Donald Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which had been in place since the Cold War. In an interview with Arabic-speaking journalists ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Putin reiterated Russia's opposition to the withdrawal in February from the INF, which had been signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan. It banned missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles but the U.S. and Nato had accused Russia of violating the pact by deploying a new type of cruise missile, a claim Moscow denied. Putin said: "It think it was a mistake…and that they could have gone a different path. I do understand the U.S. concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defences, Russia and the U.S. have tied their own hands with this treaty. However, I still believe it was not worth ruining the deal; I believe there were other ways out of the situation." Putin said that the U.S. must back a new START Treaty, which expires in 2021, to restrict a race to acquire strategic nuclear weapons. "The new START Treaty is actually the only treaty that we have to prevent us from falling back into a full-scale arms race. To make sure it is extended, we need to be working on it right now. We have already submitted our proposals; they are on the table of the U.S. administration. There has been no answer so far. "If this treaty is not extended, the world will have no means of limiting the number of offensive weapons, and this is bad news. The situation will change, globally. It will become more precarious, and the world will be less safe and a much less predictable place than today," Putin said, according to a transcript of the interview on the Kremlin website. Putin said that his doubt over the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament stretched back to 2002, when under President George W. Bush, Washington withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which had imposed limits on missile defence systems. more...

Continue reading about Donald J. Trump White House      


Donald J. Trump News   Find out more about the real Donald j. Trump and the Mueller investigation. Is Donald j. Trump a traitor? Was there collusion with the Russians? Did the trump campaign collude or conspire with Putin and the Russians? Trump is the king of fake news alternative facts. Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a racist. Find out more about trump the Mueller investigation Russia. Learn about don the con trump and Russia. Find out about the trump Russia Putin connection. Find out more about don the con, con man don and learn about the trump university, trump foundation, trump Russia, Russian collusion, money laundering, Trump the money launder and more…      

The more you know the better informed you will be to make your own determination on the real Donald J. Trump (aka Don the Con, aka Don the Snake, aka Two face Donnie, aka The Don, aka Criminal Don). Find out all you can about Donald J. Trump, for some you may find he is not the man you thought he was, for others you may be proven right, for others you may find he is far worse than you thought he was.

Polls:  Your opinion matters take one of our free online polls. Free surveys, free polls, free trump polls, polls on trump. Take one of our free polls. Free polls, free on-line surveys Polls for trump polls for democrats polls for republicans. Dems polls and gop polls survey free online survey surveys survey junkie opinions opinion and more… Take a free trump poll. Find free online polls online trump polls online trump poll. Find donald trump polls, donald j trump polls. Polls for trump polls for democrats polls for republicans. Dems polls and gop polls survey free online survey surveys survey junkie opinions opinion and more…   
Your opinion matters take one of our free online polls:
Take one of our Polls
Take one of our Donald J. Trump Polls

Some of Donald J. Trump's Twitter Hashtags: A Small list of Donald J. Trump’s more infamous twitter hashtags #Trump, #TrumpTraitor, #TrumpIsATraitor, #TraitorTrump, #RemoveTrump, #TrumpIsAMole, #TrumpRussia, #TrumpRussianAsset, #TrumpPutin, #TrumpPutinsPunk, #DonTheCon, #LockHimUp, #TrumpFullofBs
See what people really think about Donald J. Trump.
Back to content