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Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

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Giuliani tried to get ahead of the whistleblower scandal. He ended up making things worse.
By Aaron Rupar
On Thursday, the Washington Post broke news that a whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump’s communications with a foreign leader “centers on Ukraine” and involves a “promise” Trump made that was so alarming, a US intelligence official felt compelled to report it to the intelligence community inspector general. While the precise details of the complaint remain murky, the Ukraine revelation prompted Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — who was in the news months ago for his dealings with Ukraine — to go on CNN and made a disastrous attempt to get ahead of the story. If anything, Giuliani made it worse, by seemingly confirming the long-standing, but vaguely sourced reports, that Trump’s administration was trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating former vice president (and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination) Joe Biden — perhaps by withholding military aid to Ukraine unless they complied. Giuliani insisted to CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he didn’t ask Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden — but then, less than 30 seconds later, did a complete about-face and admitted that “of course” he did just that. “You just said you didn’t!” Cuomo replied, disbelievingly, as Giuliani struggled to make a distinction between Ukraine investigating Biden and “look[ing] into allegations that related to my client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive bribery scheme.”

By Dan Mangan
President Donald Trump repeatedly urged Ukraine’s president during a telephone call in July to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his involvement with a Ukraine natural gas company, a new report says. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump encouraged Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky “about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.” Biden is the current front-runner in the race to win the Democratic presidential nomination and face the Republican nominee, expected to be Trump, in the 2020 election. Biden on Friday, when asked about Trump’s claims about him and his son, said, “Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his assertions. Not one single one. So I have no comment except the president should start to ... be president.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about the Journal report. The Journal report came amid a widening controversy in Washington over another report, by The Washington Post, that Trump had been the subject of a complaint by a whistleblower related to a purported promise he had made related to Ukraine in a conversation with a foreign leader. The Post did not identify who the leader was, but it noted that the whistleblower complained two and a half weeks after Trump spoke with the newly elected Ukraine president, Zelensky. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyer Giuliani said in a television interview that he had asked Ukraine officials to investigate Joe Biden. The Journal’s new report came as a top Ukraine official reportedly said that Trump “is looking” for Ukraine officials to investigate business dealings of Biden’s son in that country in an effort “to discredit” Biden as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination. The official, Anton Geraschenko, told The Daily Beast that Ukraine is ready to investigate Hunter Biden’s relationship with the Ukraine gas company “as soon as there is an official request.” But, he added, “Currently there is no open investigation.”

By Kevin Liptak, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's interactions and decisions on Ukraine are under new scrutiny following reports that an intelligence whistleblower's complaint is related to the country. Trump downplayed on Friday a complaint submitted by an intelligence whistleblower that reportedly involves Ukraine, claiming the complainant is partisan and his conversations with foreign leaders are "appropriate." It was a robust self-defense against accusations that remain, for now, veiled in mystery. An intelligence watchdog has said the claims are "urgent" and "serious," but the acting top intelligence official has declined to provide them to Congress. Below is a timeline of recent key events and stories surrounding Trump, Ukraine and the intelligence whistleblower.

The whistleblower controversy reveals the limits of our system’s defenses.
By Asha Rangappa
On the surface, the latest confrontation between Congress and the White House involves the Trump administration’s refusal to hand over to the House Intelligence Committee a whistleblower complaint deemed an “urgent concern” by the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community. But what the showdown is really about is the government’s inability to cope with an unprecedented problem: what to do when the president of the United States poses a national security threat. The case involves a complaint by an intelligence official about communications between President Trump and a foreign leader and a “promise” Trump made, which the intelligence official found alarming enough to notify the inspector general about it. People familiar with the case told The Washington Post that it centers on Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelensky, spoke with Trump two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed. We don’t yet know the details of the communications or the promise — only that it was, apparently, troubling. Presidents have, of course, acted inappropriately in the past, and our constitutional system has a framework in place for addressing misconduct by the chief executive. But it’s designed to deal with straightforward criminal activity, not national security threats. The special counsel regulations, for example, were created to deal with a Watergate-like situation as a worst-case scenario. So they take into account the need for an investigation insulated from political influence and give special counsels the ability to make prosecutorial decisions independently of the rest of the Justice Department or the attorney general. The rules even envision a report that might be made public. This approach is appropriate when an investigation involves collecting evidence that can hold up in a court of law. But it is inadequate to address potentially noncriminal conduct that may nevertheless endanger the national security of the United States. This split was evident in the report on the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, submitted by then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Although Mueller’s mandate was broad, and potentially encompassed a counterintelligence investigation, he narrowed the scope of his inquiry to criminal matters. The final report lays out only the decisions to charge or not charge individuals based on the evidence collected, noting only briefly that counterintelligence information was shared with the FBI for use in its (presumably ongoing) classified investigation. As a result, the public remains in the dark on whether Trump may be wittingly or unwittingly compromised in his dealings with Russia, or if the FBI and the intelligence community have information to explain his oddly submissive behavior with world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin. Very few people seem to know what’s going on with the counterintelligence investigation: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has said that his panel doesn’t know the status of the probe, or even if it’s still going on, even though the law requires the administration to keep the lawmakers up to date. But counterintelligence investigations are stymied if they involve the president.

By John Cassidy
ust when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes a Trump development to trump them all—or most of them. On Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that a complaint from an anonymous intelligence whistle-blower, which has been the subject of a bitter oversight dispute between the Trump Administration and Congress, centers on a phone call that Trump had on July 25th, with Ukraine’s recently elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky. Many details about this story remain murky, but the implication seems to be that the whistle-blower is alleging that Trump promised to release two hundred and fifty million dollars in stalled aid for Ukraine if Zelensky would launch a corruption investigation into matters involving Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. You might think that sounds too outrageous to be plausible: a President who spent just under two years being investigated for possibly colluding with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election putting the squeeze on another foreign country to interfere in the 2020 race. But hang on a minute. Shortly after the Post’s story dropped, Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has for months been claiming (without any real evidence) that Joe Biden bribed Ukrainian officials to drop a corruption investigation involving his son, went on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show and said, “It is perfectly appropriate for a President to say to a leader of a foreign country, ‘Investigate this bribe, that was paid by a former Vice-President, that our media in America is covering up.’ ” For the past few days, reporters have been trying to get more details about the whistle-blower’s complaint. Joseph Maguire, the acting director of National Intelligence, has ordered the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community not to pass it along to Congress, a decision that he says was based on legal advice from the Justice Department. The Administration’s refusal to coöperate has caused a mighty row with the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff, Democrat of California. Of course, the Trump Administration and the Democrats on Capitol Hill are involved in many disputes arising from congressional investigations into Trump and his associates. But until now none of them have involved the suggestion that Trump may have exerted pressure on a foreign leader to take actions to help his 2020 reëlection bid, and may have even pledged something in return. Even before this latest revelation, however, Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, a former comedian and screenwriter who was elected President of Ukraine in April, had attracted the attention of congressional Democrats, who were investigating what Trump and Giuliani were up to on the Kiev front. In August, reports emerged that Trump was threatening to withhold two hundred and fifty million dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which was supposed to be used to deter Russian aggression in the east of the country. On September 9th, the leaders of three Democrat-controlled House committees demanded the transcript and a list of participants on the July 25th call. The Democrats said that Giuliani and Trump “appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels.” The Democrats also referred to a Ukrainian government readout from the July 25th call, which said that Trump told Zelensky he was “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

By David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday it "doesn't matter" if he asked the government of Ukraine to investigate Democratic opponent Joe Biden and that it should be done anyway. "Someone ought to look into Joe Biden," Trump told reporters while declining to discuss investigations into whether he and aides are pressuring Ukraine to investigate one of his most prominent political opponents. That question is the subject of an ongoing congressional investigation and, reportedly, the still-secret complaint of a whistleblower in the intelligence community. Trump said he doesn't know who the whistleblower is, but described him or her as "partisan." The president also said his conversations with world leaders are “always appropriate, at the highest level always appropriate.” Asked whether he discussed Biden in this conversation, Trump said: "It doesn’t matter what I discussed." The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to Trump's comments. Other Democrats – including Hillary Clinton, Trump's opponent in the 2016 general election – accused him of soliciting help from a foreign government for his re-election bid in 2020. They cited Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign, seeking to help Trump. "The president asked a foreign power to help him win an election. Again," Clinton said. Trump has denied colluding with Russia, the subject of previous investigations that he has denounced as part of a "witchhunt." As Democrats look at allegations that Trump and aides are pressuring Ukraine into helping the president's re-election bid, they are also seeking details of a still-secret complaint by an unnamed intelligence official regarding the president's talks with foreign leaders. "We're determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Cal., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Trump has denied wrongdoing in his interactions with foreign leaders, and described various allegations as "harassment" by political opponents. Meanwhile, the Ukraine government announced that its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, will meet with Trump next week at the United Nations.    

By Miranda Green and John Bowden
A coalition of state attorneys general is suing the Trump administration after it moved earlier in the week to revoke the California's authority to set its own vehicle emission standards, first granted under former President Obama. The lawsuit filed by California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) along with the leaders of 23 other states, D.C., Los Angeles and New York City, argues that the Trump administration unlawfully removed the state's waiver granted under the Clean Air Act. The suit also alleges that the decision to remove California's waiver, which is currently adopted by 12 other states, exceeds the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) authority. NHTSA, under the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly drafted the new emissions rule. Trump first tweeted the decision to remove the Golden State's waiver on Wednesday when he was visiting the state. DOT and EPA formally announced the decision on Thursday. "State Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Preemption Regulation be declared unlawful and set aside because it exceeds NHTSA’s authority, contravenes Congressional intent, and is arbitrary and capricious, and because NHTSA has failed to conduct the analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act," the suit filed in the D.C. District Court reads. Becerra said in a press release Friday that the Trump administration "insists on attacking the authority of California and other states to tackle air pollution and protect public health."  

While Trump grabs headlines, his Cabinet members quietly use transphobia to shore up white evangelical support
By Amanda Marcotte
The white evangelical vote is almost certainly a lock for Donald Trump in 2020, but it appears the president is taking no chances of losing this critical voting block. One major part of that strategy appears to be quietly deploying his Cabinet members, especially those associated with the Christian right, to generate stories highlighting the Trump administration's overt bigotry toward trans people, and its eagerness to deprive trans Americans of basic rights. Just this week, both Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson snagged coverage by making community visits that were ostensibly for noble purposes, but were clearly meant to signal to Christian right voters their hostility to trans rights. Carson, in particular, made sure that there was no mistake about his purpose in visiting HUD's offices in San Francisco this week, a city whose name is frequently used in right-wing circles as shorthand for the alleged excesses of the LGBT rights movement. Multiple people who attended an internal meeting at the HUD offices in San Francisco told reporters that, in his remarks to staff, Carson claimed that "big, hairy men" are trying to infiltrate women's homeless shelters. This was understood by those at the meeting to be a reference to the urban legend that cis men pretend to be trans women in order to gain access to women's spaces, a myth that has been repeatedly debunked by researchers. In fact, the opposite is true — a recent study shows that denying trans people the right to use spaces that align with their gender identity increases their risk of being sexually or otherwise assaulted.

Giuliani tried to get ahead of the whistleblower scandal. He ended up making things worse.
By Aaron Rupar
On Thursday, the Washington Post broke news that a whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump’s communications with a foreign leader “centers on Ukraine” and involves a “promise” Trump made that was so alarming, a US intelligence official felt compelled to report it to the intelligence community inspector general. While the precise details of the complaint remain murky, the Ukraine revelation prompted Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — who was in the news months ago for his dealings with Ukraine — to go on CNN and made a disastrous attempt to get ahead of the story. If anything, Giuliani made it worse, by seemingly confirming the long-standing, but vaguely sourced reports, that Trump’s administration was trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating former vice president (and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination) Joe Biden — perhaps by withholding military aid to Ukraine unless they complied. Giuliani insisted to CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he didn’t ask Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden — but then, less than 30 seconds later, did a complete about-face and admitted that “of course” he did just that. “You just said you didn’t!” Cuomo replied, disbelievingly, as Giuliani struggled to make a distinction between Ukraine investigating Biden and “look[ing] into allegations that related to my client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive bribery scheme.”

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - Some times when President Donald Trump talks, all you can do is shake your head in amazement.
Take his comments Friday morning in the Oval Office, for one. Trump was trying to downplay the raging controversy over a whistleblower's complaint that deals with communication between Trump and a foreign leader. It didn't work. Start here: Trump described the complaint as filed by a "partisan whistleblower." And he referred to the complaint as a "political hack job." Which is interesting! Was Trump telling us that he knew the identity of the whistleblower? And did he have information that proved that this person was, in fact, a partisan out to get Trump? Man, big story! "I do not know the identity of the whistleblower," Trump then said. Wait, what? So: a) the whistleblower is definitely a partisan engaging in a "political hack job". b) Trump doesn't know who the whistleblower is This all checks out! But, Trump wasn't done. Far from it. Remember that up until Trump started talking, all we knew for sure was that the whistleblower complaint centered on several interactions between Trump and a foreign leader. The New York Times and The Washington Post had reported that the foreign leader was the head of Ukraine. Enter Trump. Asked about whether the conversation in question was with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump said this: "I don't want to talk about any conversation. It was a great conversation. A totally appropriate conversation. It couldn't have been better." So, then, there was a conversation with the Ukrainian president. Which confirms the reporting of the Times and the Post! (Sidenote: Trump, in Friday's press availablity, said that the "media is laughed at all over the world," adding: "You're a joke." He then went on to take more than 10 minutes more of questions.)

By ANNA PALMER and JAKE SHERMAN
IT’S UKRAINE … The Washington Post and The New York Times posted stories within one minute of each other Thursday night reporting that the conversation that caught the ear of an intelligence whistleblower was between President DONALD TRUMP and the Ukrainians. WaPo’s posted at 8:04 p.m. and NYT’s at 8:05 p.m. -- WAPO: “Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter,” by Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol Leonnig: “A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch. “The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a ‘promise’ that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said. “Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.” WaPo. -- NYT's story, by Julian Barnes, Nick Fandos, Mike Schmidt and Matthew Rosenberg: “While the allegation remains shrouded in mystery, it involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and includes other actions, according to interviews. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said.” THEN … RUDY GIULIANI went on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show Thursday night, and Twitter exploded. Asked whether he asked Ukraine to look into Joe Biden, Giuliani first said he didn’t, then reversed himself within seconds and said: “Of course I did.” More from Kyle Cheney … The epic video. GIULIANI on Twitter, at 7:54 p.m.: “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job. Maybe if Obama did that the Biden Family wouldn’t have bilked millions from Ukraine and billions from China; being covered up by a Corrupt Media.” -- WAPO’S BOB COSTA (@costareports): “Checked in w/ Giuliani a few mins before midnight. Said he hasn't spoken w/ Trump since Cuomo. But expects to see him Fri. Said his tweet doesn't confirm anything but ‘only that if he did do it, it'd be appropriate.’ Declined to discuss timing of last convo w/ POTUS on Ukraine.” CUOMO to RUDY: “You who, my whole lifetime, stood up for one single ideal when you were at your best, and that was character counts and leadership.” -- FLASHBACK … NYT, OCT. 25, 1994: “GIULIANI, DEFYING HIS PARTY, BACKS CUOMO FOR 4TH TERM; SEES PATAKI AS BAD FOR CITY” (hat tip: Maggie Haberman). MAYBE IT’S JUST SO SIMPLE … WAPO EDITORIAL, from Sept. 5: “[W]e’re reliably told that the president has a second and more venal agenda: He is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine’s help with his presidential campaign; he is using U.S. military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.” WaPo. -- NYT, AUG. 21, by Ken Vogel in D.C. and Andrew Kramer in Kyiv: “Giuliani Renews Push for Ukraine to Investigate Trump’s Political Opponents” THE QUESTION EVERYONE IS ASKING: What do Democrats do here? The intelligence community has balked at providing the whistleblower report, and Rep. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) has threatened a lawsuit. His threat.

By Kevin Breuninger
President Donald Trump on Friday said he has ordered sanctions on Iran’s central bank at “the highest level.” The president made the remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, where he and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison were scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the office that the central bank was Tehran’s last source of funds. “This is very big,” Mnuchin said. “We’ve now cut off all source of funds to Iran.” Trump, who had initially said the sanctions applied to Iran’s “national bank,” said the new penalties on Iran mark the “highest sanctions ever imposed on a country.” The president’s remarks at the White House came two days after he announced via Twitter that he had instructed Mnuchin “

By Rex Huppke
I had to unhinge my jaws just to take a bite of this week’s gargantuan news-burger. It was greasy and gross and left me once again asking: “What the (BLEEP) just happened?” Whistleblower has whistle silenced while Trump tweets away. President Donald Trump, never a big fan of intelligence, is at odds once again with the intelligence community. There’s a complaint filed by a whistleblower that, according to the Washington Post and other news outlets, involves Trump making some kind of promise to a foreign leader in a phone conversation. Per the Post: “Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of ‘urgent concern,’ a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.” So what did director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire do? He refused to share the complaint with the House Intelligence Committee, claiming it contains “potentially privileged information.” Generally speaking, this is not how any of this is supposed to work and the complaint, filed in August, should have been shared with the intelligence committee within 10 days. Responding to the scandal, Trump tweeted: “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!” He followed that tweet with another: “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call.” Putting aside the fact that the answer to that question is, “Yes, many would think you’re exactly dumb enough to do that,” it was odd for the president to effectively say: “Hey, man, you think this is my first act of corruption? I’m a pro at this stuff and I’d never be dumb enough to do crimes when people are listening.” Also, if whatever happened during the call was “No problem!”, why would the administration not allow the complaint to go to the intelligence committee?   

By Rachel Frazin
President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani gave conflicting answers in an interview on CNN on Thursday night as to whether he asked Ukraine to look into former Vice President Joe Biden, saying at one point "of course I did." After CNN host Chris Cuomo questioned whether Giuliani had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, Giuliani said, "No, actually I didn't. I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton." "You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden?" Cuomo followed up. "The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko ... dismissed the case against AntAC," Giuliani said, referring to former Ukrainian prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and the Ukrainian-based Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC). "So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden," Cuomo said. "Of course I did," Giuliani replied. "You just said you didn't," Cuomo responded. "I didn't ask them to look into Joe Biden," Giuliani shot back. "I asked them to look into the allegations that related to my client which tangentially involved Joe Biden."

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - Washington's newest scandal, over a whistleblower's complaint about President Donald Trump, intensified Thursday amid revelations that the White House and Justice Department tried to keep it quiet. The affair, centering on Trump's contacts with a leader of a mystery foreign nation -- identified in two reports as Ukraine -- has also injected a toxic element into relations among the President, the intelligence community and Congress.
It is hard to see how any of this ends well. Six months after special counsel Robert Mueller shut up shop, the White House again faces suspicion over Trump's dealings with a foreign power and seems to be taking steps to stop the full story from coming out. Democrats are rummaging for new skeletons in Trump's closet and yet another showdown is developing between the executive and Congress that appears almost certain to play out in the courts.
The details of the controversy unleashed when a whistleblower sounded the alarm about the President are complex, disputed according to political allegiance and largely not public. The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Thursday that the contacts at issue between Trump and the foreign leader involve Ukraine. In the past, some of Trump's supporters, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have urged the Kiev government to open investigations that the President could use to raise suspicions about his political rivals, including Joe Biden. In a heated exchange with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Thursday night, Giuliani denied asking Ukraine to investigate the former vice president, before admitting he had done just that.
The US and Ukraine were in discussions about $250 million in military aid to Kiev this summer that had been delayed by the White House. Giuliani said he didn't know anything about the package, but that if Trump had used it as leverage to benefit himself politically in any way he would not have done anything wrong. "The reality is that the President of the United States, whoever he is, has every right to tell the president of another country you better straighten out the corruption in your country if you want me to give you a lot of money. If you're so damn corrupt that you can't investigate allegations -- our money is going to get squandered," Giuliani said.

According to public records, the hotline received 563 contacts last year, and numbers for the latest fiscal year are on pace to be even higher.
By Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON — The number of complaints made to a confidential hotline designed to allow the reporting of waste, fraud and abuse in the intelligence community has skyrocketed since Donald Trump took office, government records show. According to the latest public report by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, the hotline received 563 contacts last year, up from 251 in 2016 and 369 in 2017. The numbers for the latest fiscal year are on pace to be even higher: There were 297 complaints in just the first six months — from October 2018 through last March, according to the report. The report doesn't describe the complaints or tally how many of those rose to the level of an "urgent concern"—a category of serious complaints that must be turned over to Congress. Officials involved in the process say that designation is rare. Intelligence agencies whose employees might use the hotline include the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, among others.

By Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Kevin Liptak and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - The White House and the Justice Department have advised the nation's top intelligence agency that a controversial complaint involving President Donald Trump isn't governed by laws covering intelligence whistleblowers, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The revelation is the first known evidence of the White House's involvement in the standoff between Congress and the intelligence agency. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said he didn't know whether the White House was involved. So far, the director of national intelligence has not allowed lawmakers access to the complaint, which earlier a source familiar with the case said was prompted by communication Trump had with a foreign leader. Trump responded to the reports Thursday, tweeting he would never "say something inappropriate" on a phone call with a foreign counterpart. The White House Counsel's office and Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel have both been involved in discussing the complaint with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which has refused to reveal the nature of it to Congress. In explaining their position, ODNI has suggested there is a question of privilege. The agency wrote in a letter to lawmakers on September 13 the complaint "involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community." The letter ends by noting the agency would work toward "protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests." The refusal to provide the information to lawmakers has enraged Democrats, who emerged from a closed-door briefing with the agency's watchdog on Thursday accusing the administration of suppressing potentially damaging information. "There is an effort to prevent this information from getting to Congress," Schiff said. The California Democrat and other lawmakers said neither the nature nor the specific details of the complaint were revealed during the closed session. Previously, the White House has cited longstanding precedent in refusing congressional requests for documents related to Trump's meetings with foreign leaders, including his Russian counterpart. "It is settled law that the Constitution entrusts the conduct of foreign relations exclusively to the Executive Branch, as it makes the President 'the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations,' " White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Democrats in May. The complaint had spurred a standoff between Congress and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence.

Since automakers operate on a global scale and battery cars are being mandated in much of the rest of the world, it makes more sense to bring them to market in the U.S.
By Paul A. Eisenstein
The Trump administration formally announced plans Thursday to strip away the waiver that had allowed California to set its own fuel economy mandates, while also confirming that a rollback of federal mileage rules will be revealed in the coming weeks. Echoing the words of President Donald Trump, two senior White House officials said the moves would make tomorrow’s cars cleaner and safer, while also creating more U.S. jobs. As for the battery-electric vehicles the Obama-era rules would have encouraged, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dismissed them as little more than toys for the rich being subsidized by less affluent American motorists. While Wheeler said he hopes the administration’s moves will gain widespread support, that seems questionable. Several major automakers have already laid out plans to expand production of electric vehicles and other high-mileage models, despite Trump's rollback, and 14 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted the tougher California standards. The EPA chief stressed that the move to block California from setting greenhouse gas standards will not impact its ability to regulate other pollutants, such as ozone, adding that, “We hope the state will focus on these issues rather than trying to set fuel economy standards for the rest of the country.” The elimination of California’s ability to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases was announced first, administration officials acknowledged, in order to make it easier to defend against the anticipated legal challenges. On Wednesday, during a news conference in Sacramento, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra made it clear the state will not readily accept losing its emissions waiver. “For us, this is about survival,” said Becerra. “Our communities are screaming for help to address the climate crisis. Unlike the Trump administration, we don’t run scared. We’re prepared to lead. We’re prepared to fight. We’ll do what we must.” The administration will announce the second part of the mileage rules change in a matter of weeks, explained Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who appeared with Wheeler in Washington Thursday morning. Both the EPA and the DOT are jointly charged with regulating CAFE, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations. “The updated standards will be reasonable,” said Chao, indicating they likely will not be rolled back as much as the administration had first suggested during a news conference late last year.

A war over the limits of Trump’s power is about to get real.
By Ian Millhiser
On Tuesday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit challenging the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — taking the same side as the people suing the government in a major constitutional dispute. The administration essentially threw in the towel in the challenge to the consumer protection agency started by senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. As a general rule, the Justice Department has a duty to defend federal laws challenged in court. The administration, however, decided not to defend the law at issue in this case. With the Justice Department urging the Court to weigh in, it is now very likely that the justices will do so. The policy implications of this suit, Seila Law v. CFPB, are unclear. In the narrowest sense, Seila Law is a case about whether a federal agency can be led by a single director that the president cannot remove at will. More broadly, however, the case is the most recent skirmish in a war over what kind of government our Constitution permits. Most likely, the Supreme Court will hold that the president may remove the CFPB director. In the short term, that could give a big boost to a future Democratic president — potentially allowing a President Warren to replace Trump’s CFPB director with her own on the first day of her presidency. But the Court could also go much further. There is a chance — albeit a very small one — that the Supreme Court could strike down the CFPB in its entirety. There’s a somewhat greater chance that the Supreme Court could disallow “independent” agencies in which the leaders of those agencies are protected against removal by the president. President Trump, in other words, could gain the power to fire members of the Federal Reserve board who refuse to inject steroids into the economy while Trump is running for reelection. Looming over all of this is an ideological battle over the “unitary executive,” the theory that all executive power in the United States government must be vested in the president, and over the legacy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The fight over who can fire the CFPB director: Most federal agencies are led by a Cabinet secretary or some other senior official who can be fired by the president. By contrast, independent agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are often led by bipartisan boards whose members serve staggered terms. Often, the members of such boards can only be fired by the president “for cause,” which typically prevents a president from removing a board member simply because they disagree with that board member’s policy views. The CFPB is unusual. It is led by a single director, not by a board. But that director also is protected from a president who wants to fire them. By law, the president may only remove the CFPB Director “for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” This unusual arrangement enrages many conservatives. Indeed, one particularly conservative federal judge claimed that “consent of the governed is a sham” if the CFPB’s structure is allowed to stand.

No longer hemmed in by aides, Trump has bent the presidency into the mold of the Trump Organization.
By NANCY COOK
The China trade war, talks with the Taliban, the response to Iran after Saudi attacks, gun control, new tax legislation and a long list of other policy issues are up in the air and awaiting decisions from President Donald Trump — and him alone — heading into the 2020 election season. In many ways, it’s the presidency Trump has always wanted. He’s at the center of the action. He’s fully in command. And he’s keeping world leaders on edge and unsure of his next moves, all without being hemmed in by aides or the traditional strictures of a White House. After four national security advisers, three chiefs of staff, three directors of oval office operations and five communications directors, the president is now finding the White House finally functions in a way that fits his personality. Trump doubters have largely been ousted, leaving supporters to cheer him on and execute his directives with fewer constraints than ever before. “It is a government of one in the same way in which the Trump Organization was a company of one,” said a former senior administration official. “In the first year in office, President Trump was new to the job. He was more susceptible to advisers and advice. There were more people urging caution or trying to get him to adhere to processes,” the former senior official added. “Now, there are very few people in the White House who view that as their role, or as something they want to try to do, or who even have a relationship with him.” This Presidency of One is now heading into an election year supported by campaign staffers and White House aides who are quick say Trump is the best political strategist as well as the most effective messenger, and they intend to follow his lead wherever 2020 goes.

By ANDREW DESIDERIO, KYLE CHENEY and CAITLIN OPRYSKO
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Thursday threatened legal action against the Trump administration over its refusal to turn over a whistleblower complaint that reportedly involves President Donald Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader. The intelligence community’s top watchdog refused on Thursday to share details with the panel about the whistleblower complaint, according to multiple lawmakers who attended the classified briefing, which the director of national intelligence has been withholding from Congress. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to turn over the complaint to the panel prompted Schiff to threaten to go to court or even withhold funding from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Schiff issued a subpoena last week for the complaint, which reportedly involves a “promise” that President Donald Trump made to a foreign leader. Schiff accused the White House and Justice Department of intervening to prevent Maguire from sharing the complaint with Congress, and suggested that the House could go to court to obtain it. “Someone is trying to manipulate the system,” Schiff told reporters after the briefing, adding that the Justice Department is not providing an explanation about why it recommended withholding the whistleblower complaint from lawmakers. “There is no privilege that covers whether the White House is involved in trying to stifle a whistleblower complaint.”

By Elliot Hannon
President Donald Trump, known lover of the environment, has some (more) environmental thoughts he’d like to share with you. Following a trip to San Francisco, Trump blamed the city’s homelessness problem for waste, specifically used needles, that he says is getting swept through the city’s storm drains and into the ocean. It’s unclear who told him this was the case—or a real problem—but it was clear Trump liked the idea of big city burn, so whether it’s true or relevant or not doesn’t really matter to the president of the United States. “It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump, who is currently fighting California to reduce state fuel efficiency standards, told reporters on Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco—they’re in total violation—we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.” Trump didn’t give any indication of where he got his information, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the sewer system functions effectively, keeping waste from making it to the Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said.   

By Elliot Hannon
A U.S. intelligence official alarmed by President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader filed an official whistleblower complaint last month with the inspector general for the intelligence community, the Washington Post reports. Trump’s interactions with the leader, whose identity has not been disclosed, included what the Post described as “a promise” the official “regarded as so troubling” that the official came forward. It’s not clear what form the interaction took place, though one intelligence official told the Post that it was a phone call. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson found the complaint, which was filed on Aug. 12, to be credible and designated the matter of “urgent concern,” a legal classification that is supposed to prompt the notification of oversight committees in Congress. Acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, however, has so far refused to share the whistleblower’s concerns with Congress, setting off yet another power struggle between congressional leaders and the Trump administration, as well as speculation over what leader Trump may have acted inappropriately with.

By Elliot Hannon
President Trump, known lover of the environment, has some (more) environmental thoughts he’d like to share with you. Following a trip to San Francisco, Trump blamed the city’s homelessness problem for waste, specifically used needles, that he says is getting swept through the city’s storm drains and into the ocean. It’s unclear who told him this was the case—or a real problem—but it was clear Trump liked the idea of big city burn, so whether it’s true or relevant or not doesn’t really matter to the president of the United States. “It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump, who is currently fighting California to reduce state fuel efficiency standards, told reporters on Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco, they’re in total violation, we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.” Trump didn’t give any indication of where he got his information, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the sewer system functions effectively, keeping waste from making it to the Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said. President Trump, known lover of the environment, has some (more) environmental thoughts he’d like to share with you. Following a trip to San Francisco, Trump blamed the city’s homelessness problem for waste, specifically used needles, that he says is getting swept through the city’s storm drains and into the ocean. It’s unclear who told him this was the case—or a real problem—but it was clear Trump liked the idea of big city burn, so whether it’s true or relevant or not doesn’t really matter to the president of the United States. “It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump, who is currently fighting California to reduce state fuel efficiency standards, told reporters on Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco, they’re in total violation, we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.” Trump didn’t give any indication of where he got his information, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the sewer system functions effectively, keeping waste from making it to the Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said.

Kevin Breuninger, Dan Mangan, Tucker Higgins
President Donald Trump on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and his longtime accounting firm, days after news broke that the prosecutor had subpoenaed years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns. Vance’s office had issued a subpoena last month to accounting firm Mazars. The firm said in a statement issued Monday that it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.” “In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement Thursday morning. The suit marks the latest attempt by Trump to take legal action against prosecutors and lawmakers who have attempted to acquire tax documents that Trump has avoided publicly disclosing since his presidential campaign. Modern presidential candidates have shared years of their tax returns with the public while on the campaign trail. Trump, the head of a global real estate empire, had promised to release his returns after the completion of an audit — even though an audit was never an obstacle to disclosure. Trump never disclosed those tax returns during the 2016 election, or after, and has fought against attempts by House Committees and state agencies to force their release. A copy of the legal complaint in the new case, filed in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, was not immediately available. William Consovoy, a lawyer in Virginia, had filed a motion Thursday morning, asking to represent Trump in New York federal court. He did not immediately provide a comment to CNBC. In addition to Vance and Mazars, the lawsuit names as a defendant Solomon Shinerock, the prosecutor who is chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau in the DA’s office. - Trump promised to show his taxes to the American people when his faked audit was done. Why does he not want to show his taxes, what is Trump hiding?

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff says he wasn’t properly informed, and he wants answers.
By Andrew Prokop
An internal Trump administration whistleblower has filed a complaint about a troubling “promise” made during a conversation between President Trump and a foreign leader, per the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Shane Harris. The complaint was passed on to the inspector general for the intelligence community, who determined it was credible and a matter of “urgent concern” — a legal standard that normally requires congressional oversight committees be notified. But Trump’s acting director of national intelligence has stepped in to block key congressional committee chairs from receiving the details of the whistleblower complaint — which some legal analysts say could be a violation of the law requiring they be informed. So over the past week, Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been demanding answers. The fact that the complaint involved Trump’s own conduct wasn’t known right away; that important detail was first reported by the Post on Wednesday night and further confirmed shortly after by NBC News. So, this could be a major new scandal in the making. And the two huge questions are: which foreign leader? And what was the promise? On Thursday morning, Trump responded on Twitter, calling the story “Fake News” and saying he wouldn’t have said “something inappropriate” on such a call. What we know so far about the whistleblower complaint about Trump: The saga began on August 12, when a whistleblower inside the government filed a complaint about Trump. All we know about the content of the complaint is that it reportedly involved a communication between Trump and a foreign leader — and that communication involved a “promise” of some kind, according to the Washington Post. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian reports that the communication was a phone call.

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