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Trump Spins Court Ruling on Trump Foundation
By D'Angelo Gore - factcheck.org

President Donald Trump downplayed the findings in a case against his namesake charitable foundation, claiming the judge had found only “some small technical violations.” Actually, in a settlement announced this week, the judge ruled that Trump “breached his fiduciary duty” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in service of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The ruling was part of a settlement to a June 2018 case filed by the office of the New York state attorney general against Trump, his three eldest children and their charitable foundation. The lawsuit alleged that the Trump Foundation had long “operated in persistent violation of state and federal law governing New York State charities” by, among other things, allowing Trump’s 2016 campaign committee to direct and coordinate the foundation’s televised fundraiser for veterans in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Nov. 7, Trump called the lawsuit a form of “politically motivated harassment,” and seemingly dismissed the judge’s ruling as insignificant. “All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes,” Trump’s statement read.

There was more to it than that.

In her ruling on Nov. 7, state Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla wrote that the parties resolved most of the attorney general’s claims on their own, but left it to her to determine what Trump would have to personally pay for his alleged misuse of his foundation.

“A review of the record … establishes that Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and that waste occurred to the Foundation,” she wrote. “Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.” Full Story

Stone Trial Opens With Information Indicating Donald Trump May Have Lied to Robert Mueller
“The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”
By Dan Friedman, David Corn

Roger Stone is on trial, and the proceedings are bad news for President Donald Trump, with federal prosecutors citing evidence that suggests Trump might have lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And that sort of lying can be a crime.

The trial kicked off on Wednesday at a federal courthouse in Washington, DC, with a bit of a circus atmosphere. The neo-fascist Proud Boys were there, as well as other luminaries of the alt-right, to support Stone, the dirty trickster and conspiracy theorist who has been a Trump adviser since the 1980s. Facing seven felony counts, Stone is charged with lying repeatedly to the House Intelligence Committee, obstructing justice, and witness tampering. But this case goes beyond Stone’s alleged lies: prosecutors have revealed new information about how Trump tried to benefit from the Russian operation during the 2016 campaign that hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers. And they are producing material undercutting Trump’s claim to Mueller that he has no recollection of talking to Stone during the campaign about WikiLeaks. This information also presents a new wrinkle in the Trump-Russia scandal: Trump might have thought in 2016 that his campaign, in effect, was colluding with WikiLeaks. That’s because the campaign was communicating with Stone about WikiLeaks’ plans and intentions and campaign officials (and perhaps Trump) believed Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks.

“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad,” lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said in his opening statement on Wednesday. “The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”

One of the key points Mueller investigated was whether the Trump campaign had interacted with WikiLeaks or Russian intermediaries in 2016 when Moscow was using WikiLeaks for its operation to subvert the US presidential campaign (which was mounted in part to help Trump win). Trump refused to be questioned in person by Mueller and his investigators. Instead, he agreed to answer written questions on a limited number of subjects. Several of the queries Mueller submitted to Trump focused on whether he was ever told Stone had been in touch with WikiLeaks and whether he or anyone associated with his campaign had spoken to Stone about WikiLeaks. In his written response, Trump replied, “I do not recall being told during the campaign that Roger Stone or anyone associated with my campaign had discussions with any of the entities named in the question regarding the content or timing of release of hacked emails.” He also noted, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.” And Trump, who has boasted of possessing a prodigious memory, claimed to have “no recollection of the specifics of any conversations I had with Mr. Stone between June 1, 2016” and Election Day. The impression Trump provided: as far as he knew, he and his campaign had had nothing to do with Stone and WikiLeaks. Full Story

Prosecutors try to tie together Roger Stone, Russian hacking, and Trump
Andrea Mitchell Reports

NBC's Ken Dilanian joins Andrea Mitchell to share the latest reporting out of the trial for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, where prosecutors have introduced phone records allegedly showing Trump and his aides speaking with Stone, while Stone was allegedly attempting to obtain stolen DNC emails from Wikileaks. Ken also talks about his new reporting that members of the intel community are calling on CIA director Gina Haspel to do more to protect the whistleblower. Video

Trump made 50 false claims last week, 13 about the whistleblower
By Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump keeps making a systematic effort to convince Americans to reject the actual facts of his dealings with Ukraine. Trump made 50 false claims last week. Thirteen were related to Democrats' Ukraine-centric impeachment inquiry. This was the fifth consecutive week that Trump made more false claims about the impeachment inquiry or Ukraine than about any other subject. Fifty false claims from the President in seven days is not good, per se, but it is an improvement from his recent barrage of dishonesty, which included an October week of 129 false claims. Fifty false claims is the fourth-lowest total for the 17 weeks we have fact checked at CNN since July 8 Trump made 16 of the 50 false claims at his campaign rally in Mississippi. He made 11 on Twitter.

The most egregious false claims: On the whistleblower

The whistleblower who complained about Trump's Ukraine-related behavior has been the primary target of his multi-front effort to rewrite the reality of the story. Just last week, Trump said on three more occasions that the whistleblower's account of his phone call with the president of Ukraine was "sooo wrong" and "very inaccurate" (in fact, the rough transcript Trump released proved the whistleblower's account was highly accurate); that the whistleblower "has disappeared" (no); and that Democrat Adam Schiff was, somehow, the one to "pick" the whistleblower (also no).

The most revealing false claim: The Dunns' non-meeting

Trump, a former reality television star who has demonstrated better instincts for drama than for empathy, apparently tried to stage a surprise encounter between Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, and the parents of Harry Dunn, the British 19-year-old who was killed in a car crash in which police believe Sacoolas was involved.

The Dunns had accepted an invitation to the White House. They were aghast, though, when Trump unexpectedly told them Sacoolas was also in the building, and they declined Trump's offer to bring her into the room. Trump compounded the offense in an interview on British radio last week with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage. Trump said: "Well, I had a meeting set up but all of a sudden, I guess, lawyers got involved. But I had a meeting set up." There was never a meeting set up, said family spokesman Radd Seiger, who told CNN that Trump's claim was "a lie." Full Story

Attorney General William Barr declined Trump’s request to defend Ukraine call in a press conference, report says
By Kevin Breuninger

President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed a report from what he called The Washington Post that he had asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference defending his controversial call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The president, through his subordinates, indirectly asked Barr to publicly declare that Trump had broken no laws in the July 25 call, The Washington Post reported Wednesday night, citing people familiar with the matter. That phone call is now at the center of the House impeachment probe into Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 presidential election.

The Post reports that Barr decided not to hold the presser. Trump tweeted Thursday morning that “Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine” — disputing Barr’s reported refusal while appearing to acknowledge that he did ask the attorney general to discuss Ukraine publicly.

But in a follow up, Trump seemed to broaden his denial. “The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr to hold a news conference. Never happened, and there were no sources!” Trump tweeted. Full Story

Thanks to Rand Paul, Russian Media Are Naming the Alleged Whistleblower
Outing “the whistleblower” is the most egregious, but certainly not the only, example of Kremlin-funded media cheerleading the fight against impeachment. They love “their” Trump.
By Julia Davis

Standing beside an approving Donald Trump at a rally in Kentucky on Monday night, Republican Sen. Rand Paul demanded the media unmask the whistleblower whose report about the president’s alleged abuse of power dealing with Ukraine sparked impeachment proceedings.American news organizations resisted the pressure, but—in a 2019 re-play of “Russia, if you’re listening”—Kremlin-controlled state media promptly jumped on it.

Shortly after Sen. Paul tweeted out an article that speculated in considerable detail about the identity of the whistleblower—with a photograph, a name, and details about the purported political history of a CIA professional—Russian state media followed suit. As if on cue, the Kremlin-controlled heavy hitters—TASS, RT, Rossiya-1—disseminated the same information. But unlike Rand Paul, one of the Russian state media outlets didn’t seem to find the source—Real Clear Investigations—to be particularly impressive, and claimed falsely that the material was published originally by The Washington Post.

This was the most egregious, but certainly not the only example of Kremlin-funded media cheerleading for Trump’s fight against impeachment as proceedings against him unfold with growing speed. As a chorus of talking heads on Fox News have picked up on Trump’s talking points, which is predictable—they’ve also been echoed across the pond, albeit with a tinge of irony.  “Have you lost your minds that you want to remove our Donald Ivanovych?” asked Vladimir Soloviev, the host of the television show Evening with Vladimir Soloviev.

“When they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him.”
— Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of Mosfilm Studio and a prominent fixture on Russian state television

Russian experts, government officials, and prominent talking heads often deride the American president for his Twitter clangor, haphazard approach to foreign policy, clownish lack of decorum, and unfiltered stream of verbalized consciousness. But all the reasons they believe Trump “isn’t a very good president” for America are precisely their reasons for thinking he is so great for Russia.  

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian client whose regime teetered on the brink of collapse only to be saved definitively by Trump’s chaotic approach to the Middle East, recently said that “President Trump is the best type of president for a foe.” The Russians heartily agree. The Trump presidency has been wildly successful for Russia, which is eagerly stepping into every vacuum created by the retreat of the United States on the world stage. Full Story

Judge Scraps 'Conscience' Rule Protecting Doctors Who Deny Care For Religious Reasons
By Selena Simmons-Duffin, Colin Dwyer

In a blow to the Trump administration, a federal court in Manhattan has knocked down a rule that would make it easier for doctors and other health care workers to refuse care for religious reasons. U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the regulation earlier this year, exceeded its authority and "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in promoting it.

The department's violations of federal law, according to the judge's opinion, were "numerous, fundamental, and far-reaching" — and he vacated the rule entirely, just over two weeks before it was set to take effect on Nov. 22. The Trump administration had asserted that the rule would give health care providers the freedom to opt out of providing care or services — such as abortions — that violate their conscience. Employers that did not comply with the rule could have had their federal funding withdrawn.

"This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won't be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life," Roger Severino, director of HHS's Office for Civil Rights, argued in a written statement when the regulation was issued in early May. The rule's critics, however, saw it as a means of allowing health care workers to circumvent rules against discrimination. And they quickly took the Trump administration to court — with more than two dozen states, cities and organizations such as Planned Parenthood filing lawsuits against Severino and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Those suits were later consolidated into one case, which Engelmayer oversaw.

There's also another lawsuit against this rule, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs in that consolidated case include the state of California, Santa Clara County and organizations such as Lambda Legal. It wasn't immediately clear what Wednesday's ruling means for the case in California.

As NPR has reported, this rule was part of a big push from the Office for Civil Rights to bolster "religious freedom" in health care. Severino, who is Catholic and formerly of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has argued that previous administrations did not fully enforce existing law that protected what supporters call health care workers' "conscience rights." Full Story

Nuclear deal crumbles: Iran steps away from landmark pact
Here are key restrictions imposed on Iran under JCPOA and measures it has taken to suspend compliance.

Iran is taking a significant new step in reducing its commitments to a landmark nuclear deal following the United States's pullout last year, with President Hassan Rouhani announcing it will begin injecting uranium gas into more than 1,000 centrifuges at the underground Fordow plant as of Wednesday. The centrifuges previously spun empty without gas injection under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated between Iran and world powers in 2015.

It was one of the many restrictions imposed on Iran with the aim of extending the time the country would need to produce a nuclear bomb - if it chose to - to a year from roughly two to three months. In exchange for compliance, Iran was offered relief from global sanctions. However, with US President Donald Trump's decision last year to abandon the agreement and reinstate punishing sanctions against Iran, including on its oil and banking sectors, Tehran has begun a phased suspension of its obligations. The resumption of atomic activity at Fordow is the fourth move announced by Iran since May, a year after the US pullout. The moves are aimed at trying to pressure the remaining signatories - the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia - to deliver on JCPOA's promised economic benefits. Here are the key restrictions imposed on Iran under the landmark nuclear deal and the status of its compliance. Full Story - Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal to spite Obama now Iran is expanding its nuclear program because of Trump’s pettiness.

Ivanka Trump: First Daughter's secret meetings held as ‘leverage’ against her and Kushner
IVANKA TRUMP and husband Jared Kushner’s secret meetings were exposed by Robert Mueller and almost used against them by Steve Bannon as “leverage”.
By Naomi Adedokun

President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, took a vacation in Croatia “with a Russian oligarch” and Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, Wendi Deng. This is according the documents released from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump administration’s corruption. The information was discovered by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who planned to use it as “leverage” against the couple.

Ivanka and Jared took the Croatia vacation with a mystery 'Russian billionaire' and Ms Deng during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to Mueller’s documents, Mr Bannon raised questions about the vacation and wanted to use the knowledge to his advantage. A summary of an investigative interview with him read: “Bannon knew Kushner was on vacation off the coast of Croatia with a Russian Billionaire when Bannon took over the campaign.” Mr Bannon told friends in the intelligence community that he thought Kushner's choice of vacation company was 'questionable,' according to the interview summary.

The former Breitbart Editor contacted a colleague from the far-right news site to plan what to do with the information. In an email from 2017, he wrote: “Jared was on 'vacation' off the coast of Croatia with a Russian billionaire when I took over the campaign.” The Breitbart employee replied: “How do we prove that? That's game set match.” Mr Bannon was widely known to be in a bitter power struggle with Jared and Ivanka while serving in the White House. Full Story

Audio tape reveals Richard Spencer is, as everyone knew, a racist
The recording shows once again that the racism and anti-Semitism of the “alt-right” or “dissident right” is just racism and anti-Semitism.
By Jane Coaston

In audio first put online by right-wing pundit and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on Saturday, white nationalist Richard Spencer can allegedly be heard ranting about Jewish people and mixed-race people. The audio — purportedly from an emergency meeting that took place on August 13, 2017, the day after the far-right “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, disintegrated into violence, resulting in the murder of a counterprotester named Heather Heyer — features Spencer screaming racist and anti-Semitic slurs he has generally avoided using in public in an effort to more politely argue for “the creation of a White Ethno-State.”

Spencer is perhaps the most prominent and arguably the most successful of the so-called “alt-right” white nationalist activists attempting to inject overtly racist ideas into mainstream political thought. In fact, Spencer can be credited (alongside Peter Brimelow and Paul Gottfried) with inventing the term “alt-right,” resulting in the magazine Alternative Right in 2010. I emailed Spencer for comment and will update if I hear back.

Milo just uploaded leaked audio of Richard Spencer reacting to the death of Heather Heyer and the negative press it did to his movement. Just in case there was any question of the so-called "dapper white nationalist" being a raged fuelled hateful monster.

Explicit warning. pic.twitter.com/KpVk2fLYSu
— BAILEY, THE LIBTARDTARIAN (@atheist_cvnt) November 4, 2019

By appearing polite and somewhat well dressed (with multiple ill-fitting waistcoats, for example) and using watered-down terminology like “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” the “self-styled prophet” of the alt-right has waged a media campaign for the last several years to build his own reputation and that of his movement, using Donald Trump’s campaign as a vehicle to make the case for a seemingly kinder, gentler white nationalism.

In interviews Spencer and other white nationalists give to mainstream audiences (like those watching him on CNN and on college campuses), white nationalism is simply a civil rights movement for white people, taking a stand for white Americans in need of defending — at the very least, a differing viewpoint worthy of contemplation and analysis. That was a lie, as has been blatantly obvious for more than a decade. But now, the mask — or perhaps more aptly, the hood — has dropped, hopefully for good. Full Story

Trump could get whacked by legal losses in coming months
Court rulings could say Trump is illegally profiting from foreign governments, that he must hand over financial records and that lawmakers should see more Russia probe evidence.

The final year of President Donald Trump’s first term will be loaded with legal landmines — and it’s not just the impeachment cases. Trump could face court rulings that say he is illegally profiting from foreign governments, that he must hand over his tax returns and that lawmakers should see more of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe evidence. He may even get hit with Supreme Court decisions that rebuff his administration’s bold claims of presidential immunity from prosecution and congressional investigations.

Nothing is certain with the courts, of course. The Supreme Court might not take up every case, while others could drag out beyond Election Day 2020. Judges could rule narrowly in some matters and Trump could prevail in others. But the president’s no-compromise, litigation-first defense strategy has created a queue of potentially perilous disputes that could force embarrassing testimony or unflattering document disclosures at the peak of his bid for a second term.

Bigger issues are at play, too.

Any Supreme Court ruling on these cases could define the contours of executive branch power for Trump and his successors, setting precedents on heated questions such as whether a sitting president can be criminally investigated and when the White House can resist a congressional subpoena. It could also offer some clarity to the Constitution’s vague and largely untested emoluments clause, which bars federal officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.

Most important is a traditional January deadline that looms for securing a coveted spot on the Supreme Court’s April calendar, which comes with the prospect of a decision in late June, well before voters go to the polls. Any case it doesn’t take for this term is highly unlikely to be decided before next November’s election. Here’s a look at the court cases and where they stack up with respect to potential Supreme Court review.

Impeachment witnesses

Who has the ultimate power to get witnesses to talk — or to keep them quiet? That’s the question at the heart of a court battle stemming from the House’s impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers are looking at whether Trump pressured Ukraine to launch politically advantageous probes and has subpoenaed a slate of current and former White House officials involved in those efforts.

But the White House has issued a blanket, do-not-comply order to anyone who ever worked in the administration, leaving potential congressional witnesses in a tough spot: Do they follow the boss or risk the legal ramifications of being a no-show on Capitol Hill? In an effort to get clarity, Trump adviser Charles Kupperman last month went to the courts to request a ruling on the matter. Should he comply with the House subpoena or the White House no-show directive?

District Judge Richard Leon, appointed by President George W. Bush, set a Dec. 10 hearing in the case and indicated he’d like to rule by late December or early January. There’s an added wrinkle. Kupperman shares a lawyer with his former boss, John Bolton, the former Trump national security adviser who is also expected to get a congressional subpoena to discuss the Ukraine affair. During a preliminary hearing on the Kupperman case last week, the attorney for both men acknowledged Bolton could soon join the case. Full Story

Trump ‘invents insane conspiracy theory’ in wild impeachment outburst
‘Democracy erodes when previously unthinkable conduct becomes so routine,’ academic says
By Zamira Rahim

Donald Trump has accused Adam Schiff, the congressman leading the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, of corruption. The president is under increasing pressure from Congress over his alleged behaviour during a call with the leader of Ukraine. In a series of increasingly angry tweets Mr Trump said congressional testimony from inquiry witnesses should not be released publicly.

“If Shifty Adam Schiff, who is a corrupt politician who fraudulently made up what I said on the ‘call’, is allowed to release transcripts of the Never Trumpers [and] others that are [and] were interviewed, he will change the words that were said to suit the Dems purposes,” he wrote on Sunday evening. In an extraordinary claim, the 73-year-old alleged that Mr Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, could manipulate witness transcripts. Full Story

Trump threatens smear campaign against Alexander Vindman, the Purple Heart recipient who said the White House left out some phrases from its Ukraine call memo
By Alexandra Ma, Business Insider US

US President Donald Trump has threatened to release damaging intelligence against the White House national security aide who testified that the White House omitted some phrases from its summary of the phone call that sparked Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient who is a top official on the White House National Security Council, testified last Tuesday that the White House left out some information from its memo summarizing Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Examples included direct mentions by Zelensky of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter worked, and by Trump of the elder Biden discussing Ukraine corruption. Hours after news outlets reported on Vindman’s testimony, Trump claimed that the White House aide was a “Never Trumper,” or a member of the Republican movement that opposed Trump’s candidacy in 2016. There is no evidence that Vindman was part of this group. But when reporters asked about it Sunday, Trump threatened to release information “real soon.”

Here’s how the exchange went down, as can be seen in the video below: Reporter: Sir, what evidence do you have that Col. Vindman is a Never Trumper? Trump: We’ll be showing that to you real soon, OK? The president then ignored a follow-up request to describe the information he claimed to have. Full Story

Amid impeachment drive, the pro-Trump search for dirt on Ukraine and the Bidens goes on
Those working in common cause with the president's and Giuliani's campaign to get Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponents are moving ahead.
By Josh Lederman

KYIV — While Congress heard closed-door testimony last week about President Donald Trump pushing Ukraine to investigate his opponents, Rudy Giuliani was holding his own private Ukraine meeting in his Manhattan office. Giuliani, the Trump personal lawyer at the center of the firestorm as Trump faces likely impeachment, met with former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko, who alleges that Ukraine's government conspired with the Democratic National Committee to hurt Trump in 2016.

"We discussed what's happening in Ukraine, political updates, what the new (Ukrainian presidential) team is up to, what are the reforms going to be," Telizhenko said in an interview with NBC News. Giuliani has interviewed him for hours about his Ukraine allegations, although Telizhenko said their most recent meeting wasn’t focused on investigations. "We're friends now. He respects our country."

Far from keeping their heads down, those working in common cause with the president's and Giuliani's campaign to get Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponents are moving ahead unabated, interviews in Kyiv and Washington with several of those involved reveal. Their efforts come despite intense scrutiny from Congress, law enforcement and the media. Under oath, a parade of current and former U.S. officials have testified that Trump and his envoys leveraged a coveted White House meeting and military aid to Ukraine to pressure new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to commit publicly to investigations into both the 2016 election and the Biden family.

In Ukraine, a group of parliamentarians are even working to stand up a new investigative commission — the Ukrainian analogue to a congressional select committee — to probe what they say was a Ukrainian government campaign to smear former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in a bid to take down Trump in 2016. They also want to investigate the Bidens.

"Ukraine was involved in like the biggest scandal in recent U.S. political history, let alone Ukrainian. Definitely most of my colleagues here pretend it doesn't exist," said Oleg Voloshin, a lawmaker and Manafort associate, in an interview just outside the Rada, Ukraine's Parliament. "It started here, and it should finish here." In Telizhenko's case, it's the continuation of a collaboration that started earlier this year when he said he saw Giuliani appear on Fox News alongside Victoria Toensing, a pro-Trump lawyer who State Department inspector general documents show worked with Giuliani on Ukraine. Full Story

Iran announces new centrifuges on 40th anniversary of US embassy siege
By Bianca Britton and Sara Mazloumsaki, CNN

(CNN) - Iran has launched a new generation of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, the nation's nuclear chief announced Monday, the latest in a series of violations of the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015. The announcement came as Iran marked the 40th anniversary of the US embassy siege, when Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 90 people hostage, including 66 Americans. "Today we are launching the 30-series chain of IR6 centrifuge machines," Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi of the Atomic Energy Organization told state television IRIB.

"The number of centrifuges we have installed during these two months is about 15 new generation centrifuges, which is a huge achievement." The advanced centrifuge machines allows Iran to speed up its uranium enrichment. Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Tehran cannot use IR-6 centrifuges, among other models, to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. The deal allowed Iran to enrich uranium with just over 5,000 of its first-generation IR-1 centrifuge machines and the nation was allowed to use advance centrifuges for research purposes only.

Scaling back commitments
Tehran has gradually scaled back its commitments to the nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. US sanctions have crippled Iran's economy, causing the nation's currency to plummet and prices to soar. As a result, the economy has contracted and food and medical shortages are rampant. Full Story

Trump wants whistleblower to do what he wouldn't: Answer questions in person
"He must be brought forward to testify," Trump tweeted. "Written answers not acceptable!"
By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump said Monday that written answers from the whistleblower to Congress would be unacceptable — although such answers were fine for the president when dealing with former special counsel Robert Mueller.

"The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff," Trump tweeted. "He must be brought forward to testify. Written answers not acceptable! Where is the 2nd Whistleblower? He disappeared after I released the transcript. Does he even exist? Where is the informant? Con!"

Trump was responding to news that Mark Zaid, the attorney for both known whistleblowers who came forward with concerns about Trump's conduct toward Ukraine, said the first whistleblower offered to provide written answers to House investigators to protect his or her identity. Zaid told NBC News on Sunday that he had not yet received a substantive response from House Intelligence Committee Republicans about his offer.

Trump's actions with regard to Ukraine, which included placing a months-long hold on military aid and asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had business dealings in the country, as well as a debunked conspiracy involving Democrats and the 2016 election, are at the center of the House impeachment probe. The inquiry began after the existence of the first whistleblower's complaint, which focuses on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, became known. Trump has repeatedly claimed the whistleblower made false claims, though the complaint was corroborated by the call summary his White House released.

Contrary to Trump's assertion, the existence of a second whistleblower was revealed two weeks after the White House released the partial transcript. While Trump decried the idea of the whistleblower providing written answers, he refused to provide Mueller with anything more than that during his years-long probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump's attorneys warned the president against doing a live interview with Mueller, saying he could be setting up a "perjury trap" for the president. Full Story

Trump loses appeal in New York tax case, must hand over returns
The president had filed appeal after losing the initial case at the district court level.
By Allan Smith

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that President Donald Trump's tax returns must be turned over to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who had subpoenaed the documents from Trump's accounting firm as part of an investigation into the pre-election payoffs to two women who alleged affairs with Trump. Full Story

Trump's obsession with Ukraine has deep roots: Is it all a cover-up for his 2016 crimes?
Mueller documents reveal that Paul Manafort pushed Ukraine conspiracy theory on Trump during the 2016 campaign
By Heather Digby Parton

During the 2016 campaign candidate Donald Trump was always a bit odd about Russia. He claimed he knew Russian President Vladimir Putin, then denied he knew him a dozen different times. He insisted that the Russian president thought he was a genius based upon a mistranslated comment. We now know that the entire top tier of Trump's campaign was eager to accept "dirt" from Russia on his Democratic opponent in June of 2016. But in real time one of the first clues that something was weird with Trump and Russia was the fact that his campaign changed only one aspect of the Republican platform: military aid to Ukraine, of all things.

Robert Mueller was unable to prove there was anything nefarious about that request, only concluding that the Trump campaign adviser who made it had conversations with the Russian ambassador and had called Trump's top foreign policy adviser, Jeff Sessions, at the time. Why this was the only policy change in the entire convention remained a big mystery.

It's now been reported that Ukraine has been on Trump's mind since at least June of 2016, when news reports started to surface about Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee. According to documents released to BuzzFeed under the Freedom of Information Act, Trump's campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, told him that Ukraine was likely responsible for the hacking, not Russia. As time went on and it became obvious that the hackers were actively helping his campaign, Trump latched on to that alternative narrative.

According to interviews with Manafort's deputy Rick Gates, who participated in the campaign at the highest level, this theory was first shared by none other than Konstantin Kilimnik, a pro-Russian Ukrainian with apparent ties to Russian intelligence who served as Manafort's conduit to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to whom Manafort owed millions of dollars. This theory was evidently passed around at meetings with top campaign officials as they tried to figure out how to access the hacked material themselves.

Gates also told Mueller's team that Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, agreed that it was likely Ukraine had done the hack, because U.S. intelligence agencies were so incompetent that their conclusion it was the Russians had to be incorrect.  Apparently, Flynn believed he could use his intelligence sources to get hold of those "missing emails." It never occurred to any of them, apparently, that Russia wasn't trying very hard to hide its tracks for a reason.

Just after the Republican convention in July 2016, Trump was asked about the Russian invasion of Crimea. In fact, it was at the same press conference when he made the famous "Russia, if you're listening" comment that he said this: Full Story

CNN reporter: This Trump claim at rally 'is fascinating to me'
CNN - President Donald Trump touted several false claims during a GOP rally in Mississippi, including an attack on the media before insisting CNN turned off the live feed. CNN's Daniel Dale joined New Day Weekend to fact-check the President's false claims. Video

Jared Kushner gave Saudi Prince PERMISSION to arrest Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed - but Turkey intercepted the call and used it to force Trump to leave Syria, report claims
By Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com and Reuters

Jared Kushner gave permission to Saudi ruler Mohammad bin Salman to arrest Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed and dismembered, a whistleblower claims. However, Turkish intelligence intercepted the call and President Recep Erdogan then used the information to force President Trump to remove his troops from northern Syria, according to the Spectator. The report claims that investigators on the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee are aware of these allegations and are planning to dig further into them while pursuing the impeachment inquiry over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

It also claims that the number of intelligence whistleblowers who are willing to give evidence to the impeachment committee is seven. The three already known are the original anonymous CIA officer, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Tim Morrison, the NSC’s director for European and Russian Affairs. The Khashoggi whistleblower takes that tally up to four, meaning there are three others waiting in the wings. Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who at one point was considered close to the ruling Saudi royal family but later became disillusioned by its powerful young prince. In October 2018, Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort documents before he was to be married to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. He never emerged.

The Turkish government said it has evidence that Khashoggi was killed and his body was dismembered. The Central Intelligence Agency and other Western governments believe that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing. In recent interviews with American media outlets, bin Salman said he bears responsibility for the Khashoggi killing ‘because it happened under my watch.’ But he denies ordering the murder. ‘It happened under my watch,’ he told PBS. ‘I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch. After initial denials, the official Saudi narrative blamed the murder on rogue operatives. Full Story

Trump Admits His Border Wall is Not Impenetrable after Reports Parts Have Been Sawed Through: 'You Can Cut Through Anything'
By Khaleda Rahman

President Donald Trump has admitted his border wall is not as impenetrable as he had initially claimed after reports that some parts had been sawed through. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that smuggling gangs have used commercial power tools to cut through the new parts of Trump's controversial wall along the Mexican border. The gangs used a cordless reciprocating saw, which can be purchased at hardware stores starting from as little as $100, to make gaps big enough for people and drugs to pass through, U.S. agents and officials who have knowledge of the situation told the newspaper.

Once fitted with specialized blades, the saws can cut through the steel-and-concrete bollards of the barrier in minutes, according to the unnamed agents. Trump, who spent years insisting his border wall would be impenetrable, conceded that any wall can be cut through but insisted the damage could be "easily fixed." "We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness," Trump told reporters in Washington, D.C. before his departure for New York City on Saturday evening. "We have a lot of people watching,' Trump added, according to Politico. "Cutting is one thing, but it's easily fixed. One of the reasons we did it the way we did it, it's very easily fixed. You put the chunk back in."

But according to the Post, smugglers have learned how to cut the bollards and then return them to their positions so that the damage goes unnoticed, allowing the passage to be used multiple times. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents reportedly drive along the barrier and kick the bollards with their boots to check for any defects in the metal. If any are found, welding crews are sent in to fix the damage. But smugglers have also returned to the same bollards once they have been fixed and cut through the welds as the metal on those bollards is softer, the Post reported. They have also tried to trick agents by using a putty that looks like welding to make a bollard that has been cut look as if it is still intact. Full Story

GOP lawmakers guide a White House grappling with closed-door impeachment
By Jeremy Diamond and Pamela Brown, CNN

Washington (CNN)As House Democrats build their case for impeaching President Donald Trump through a succession of closed-door depositions, a pair of Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill are quietly offering guidance to the White House lawyers responsible for crafting the President's defense strategy. Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who have attended the depositions, have been informally helping attorneys in the White House Counsel's office sort through publicly reported aspects of the testimony to the extent they can, according to four administration officials.

The conversations are primarily aimed at helping White House lawyers get a better grasp of the allegations being leveled at Trump and potential weak points as the White House begins to craft a legal strategy to defend Trump during his impeachment trial, two administration officials said. White House lawyers have not been permitted to attend the closed-door depositions -- a top GOP complaint about the impeachment inquiry -- and people familiar with the matter said the conversations are aimed at helping the White House gauge the seriousness of leaked allegations from the testimony that have painted a damning picture of the President's conduct.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Meadows said he has only shared "broad characterizations" and is "not sharing specifics" of the testimony with the White House, pointing to House rules preventing him from disclosing details of the testimony, which are held in secure rooms called Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, or SCIFs. When some witnesses -- such as US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland -- have backed up aspects of the President's defense of his conduct, he has pointed that out. Full Story

US debt surpasses $23 trillion for first time
By Niv Elis

The federal government's outstanding public debt has surpassed $23 trillion for the first time in history, according to data from the Treasury Department released on Friday. Growing budget deficits have added to the nation's debt at a speedy rate since President Trump took office. The debt has grown some 16 percent since Trump's inauguration, when it stood at $19.9 trillion. It passed $22 trillion for the first time just 10 months ago.

Of the $23 trillion figure, just under $17 trillion was in the category of debt held by the public, which is a more useful gauge of the debt the government has to pay down, and the number typically used in calculating the nation's debt burden. The other $6 trillion comes from loans within government bodies.

Still, the $23 trillion figure marks a milestone. “Reaching $23 trillion in debt on Halloween is a scary milestone for our economy and the next generation, but Washington shows no fear," said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the fiscally conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation. "Piling on debt like this is especially unwise and unnecessary in a strong economy," he added. Full Story

Released Mueller documents reveal Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump enjoyed a vacation in Croatia 'with a Russian oligarch' and Wendi Deng - a meeting Steve Bannon thought was so dubious he planned to 'leverage' it against Trump's son-in-law
By Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com

A tranche of newly released documents from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation have revealed that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump took a vacation in Croatia with a mystery 'Russian billionaire' during the 2016 campaign. Also on the trip was and Rupert Murdoch's former wife Wendi Deng. According to the notes, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon raised questions about the vacation and found it so dubious that he planned to 'leverage' the meetup with the Russian against Donald's Trump's son-in-law, Jared.  The documents, including 274 pages of Mueller team interview notes, emails and other documents related to the investigation, were released on Saturday in response to a lawsuit from CNN and Buzzfeed.

'Bannon knew Kushner was on vacation off the coast of Croatia with a Russian Billionaire when Bannon took over the campaign,' a summary of an investigative interview with Bannon read. The summary said that Kushner was with Deng, the Russian billionaire, and the Russian's girlfriend, but it does not name the Russian. Bannon told friends in the intelligence community that he thought Kushner's choice of vacation company was 'questionable,' according to the interview summary. Kushner's and Ivanka Trump's vacation in August 2016 was previously documented in photos obtained by DailyMail.com, but the presence of a Russian billionaire had not been reported.

Throughout the trip, Deng was photographed with Kushner and his wife Ivanka. In an email dated July 24, 2017 to an individual with a Breitbart domain email, Bannon referenced Kushner's vacation and appeared to indicate that the information, if reported and confirmed, could be valuable against Kushner. Full Story

Fact-checking Eric Trump's claim The Trump Organization has no business ties overseas
By Tara Subramaniam

Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's business is back in the spotlight. Less than a week after the President reversed course on his plan to host next year's G-7 at his Trump National Doral Miami in Florida, reports surfaced that his company plans to sell its DC Hotel, which has been the subject of several lawsuits alleging the President is profiting from it in violation of the Constitution. Trump's defense is that he says he's put his business "stuff" in a trust and that his family runs it. As of 2018, the President held more than $130 million in foreign assets in this trust, according to an analysis compiled by Open Secrets. As a trustee, Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr., who is also executive vice president of The Trump Organization, is responsible for looking after the beneficiary (the President) and the business's bottom line. This arrangement has raised concerns that Trump and his family could use the presidency to profit personally.

Since the 2016 election, Trump and his family members have defended the decision, claiming there is nothing improper about their business operations. The recent controversy surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter and his international business ties has added a new layer to conversations about the ethics around business done by the families of powerful politicians while they're in office. It's also spurred the President's family to attempt to defend their own holdings.

In a recent Fox News interview, Eric, discussing Hunter's dealings, noted that "the difference between us and Hunter is when my father became commander-in-chief of this country, we got out of all international business, right?" Not quite. Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-profit government watchdog group, told CNN that Eric's claim was the "worst lie I've heard in a while."
Facts First: President Trump's three oldest children have all been involved with international business in some manner since his election. Furthermore, the President has made millions of dollars from foreign assets associated with the Trump Organization in 2017 and 2018, according to his public financial disclosure reports. The Trump Organization also continues to market, promote and expand Trump-branded properties all over the world, as recently as last month.

International footprint:

On October 10, The Trump Organization firm TIGL Ireland Enterprises received approval for a new development that the Irish Times reports will double the size of the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland. Per The Trump Organization's website, the Trump brand is associated with an estate in Scotland, residential property in India, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, the Philippines and Uruguay, and public golf courses in Scotland, Ireland, Dubai, Bali and Indonesia. The golf courses in Ireland and Scotland have accompanying Trump hotels. There's also a Trump International Hotel & Tower in Vancouver, British Columbia which formally opened in February 2017. As executive vice presidents of The Trump Organization, Trump's eldest sons have continued to conduct international deals for the family company, despite the President's initial promise to the contrary. Full Story

In February 2017, Eric went to the resort island of Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, where The Trump Organization has had ties since 2007. After the visit, the president and vice president of Cap Cana's Council said the relationship between the two organizations "remains incredibly strong, especially with Eric, who has led the project since its inception," adding that "we are excited to be working with the Trump Organization in the future phases of the project."

Licensing agreements

While the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Vancouver was the first property to open with the Trump name after President Trump was sworn in, it was not the last. The month after their father's inauguration, the Trump sons attended the grand opening of a Trump-branded golf course in Dubai. While The Trump Organization did not itself develop the course, the Trump brand is associated with the property as part of a licensing agreement. Full Story

Trump Attends UFC Championship in NYC Only to Be Met With Loud Boos at Second Sporting Event This Week
Donald Trump Jr. says he was told his father's entrance was actually “the most electrifying entrance” seen in the past several decades.
By Allison Quinn

Fresh off his not-so-enthusiastic reception at the World Series Game 5 in Washington earlier this week, President Trump attended a UFC Championship in New York City on Saturday night only to once again be greeted by jeers and boos, according to reporters at the event.

Accompanied by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Mark Meadows, Rep. Peter King, and his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, the president reportedly faced a crowd of angry protesters outside Madison Square Garden before getting largely the same response inside the venue, where fighters were due to duke it out for a new belt and the title of “BMF” or “Baddest Motherfucker.”

Video posted to Twitter by Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire captured the sound of shouting and booing as the president took his seat, though Lemire noted there were some cheers as well. Trump’s appearance in the city came just two days after he announced that he’d be switching his permanent residency from New York City to Florida, suggesting the “political leaders” in the city were partly to blame and later going on to call the city “dirty & unsafe.” It also came less than a week after he was met with chants of “lock him up” at Game 5 of the World Series in Washington. Full Story

Pro-Trump Channel One America News Deploys a Former Kremlin Propagandist to Blast the 'Russia Hoax'
The Trumpist cable channel enlisted an alum of the Putin propaganda machine to undercut a report about Russian propaganda.
By Kevin Poulsen

News out of the UK about Russian propaganda targeting that county’s politics is a new “Russia hoax” being perpetrated by liberals and the mainstream media, according to One America News. The pro-Trump network put its very best alum of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine on the story.

One America News’ Kristian Rouz covered the controversy in Britain surrounding an unreleased parliamentary report investigating Russia’s interference in UK politics and its online trolling in support of the 2016 Brexit vote. Lawmakers are accusing prime minister Boris Johnson of slowing-walking the report to keep it under wraps until after the December 12 election.

“The mainstream media continues attempts to revive the failed Russia hoax, designating as a Russian agent none other than British prime minister Boris Johnson,” Rouz reported.

As The Daily Beast reported in July, Rouz, a graduate of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, was a regular contributor to the Kremlin-run propaganda site Sputnik while simultaneously working in the San Diego, California offices of OAN, a Trumpist cable channel with a history of regurgitating conspiracy theories and Russian propaganda. Full Story

Trump’s New Favorite Network Embraces Russian Propaganda
One America News Network has no qualms with playing the mouthpiece for Kremlin-hatched conspiracy theories. And one of its most loyal viewers lives in the White House
By Kevin Poulsen

When it comes to putting disinformation in front of American eyeballs, Vladimir Putin has long been able to count alt-right social media stars like Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich as reliable allies. Now the One America News Network, a pro-Trump cable news and commentary channel, is joining them in embracing some of Moscow’s most vile fake news.

On Wednesday OANN aired a segment claiming to reveal that dozens of members of the Syrian Civil Defense, a humanitarian group known as the White Helmets, have confessed to faking chemical weapons attacks in Syria to frame Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator propped up by Putin.

“At least 40 members of the terrorist-linked White Helmets have admitted they staged fake chemical attacks to provoke retaliation against the Syrian Government,” began the report by OANN correspondent Pearson Sharp. “Members of the group, who won an Oscar for their Netflix documentary, came out in recent interviews for a study presented to the United Nations and confessed they had in fact faked the attacks.”

In the real world, the White Helmets are a humanitarian group whose rescue workers are credited with saving at least 100,000 civilians caught in the crossfire of Syria’s bloody civil war. Until recently group was partly funded by the US State Department, and it’s routinely praised as heroic by Western world leaders. A 2016 Netflix documentary on the White Helmets won an Oscar for its British producer.

This cable news smear traces directly to a frenzied disinformation campaign by Russia aimed at linking the White Helmets to a broad range of wrongdoing: things like running a black market in human organs, colluding with terrorists and faking Assad’s chemical weapons attacks. Moscow has been relentless in pushing these claims, tirelessly falsifying videos and photographs, creating phony news outlets and fake think tanks to do so. Some of the same GRU officers involved in the 2016 election interference created fake freelance journalists to pitch stories smearing the White Helmets to legitimate news outlets. Full Story

Trump defends border wall design after report smugglers are sawing through it

After years of touting the impenetrability of a border wall, President Donald Trump said Saturday that "you can cut through any wall" as reports surfaced of smugglers sawing through newly erected barriers with readily available power tools. "We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching. You know cutting, cutting is one thing, but it's easily fixed. One of the reasons we did it the way we did it, it's very easily fixed. You put the chunk back in,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

A Washington Post report published Saturday said smugglers have repeatedly sawed through newly built sections of the wall using a widely available cordless reciprocating saw that costs as little as $100. Gangs are also using makeshift ladders to scale the barriers, the Post reported. Trump's statement is a far cry from years of campaigning that a border wall would be nearly impossible for smugglers to overcome. In a visit to one of the construction sites in September, Trump said the border wall is "virtually impenetrable" and could not be climbed. Full Story

Trump said the new border wall was “impenetrable.” Smugglers are sawing through it.
Smugglers have found that all you need to cut through the wall is a $100 saw.
By Catherine Kim

President Donald Trump promised a wall on the border would radically change undocumented immigration and customs enforcement. But it turns out newly built sections of the president’s wall aren’t as sturdy as he promised: Smugglers have been using a commercial saw to cut through it, according to the Washington Post. Smuggling people and goods into the US is a profitable industry for criminal organizations, which is why they are motivated to innovate when it comes to breaching barriers. Of late, smugglers have reportedly been cutting through the wall — which is made of steel bollards that are partially filled with concrete — to make gaps large enough for people and goods to pass through.

To do so, smugglers are reportedly using a reciprocating saw that can be bought for as little as $100. The tool can cut through the wall’s steel and concrete in minutes when fitted with the appropriate blades, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have said. After cutting the steel bollards, smugglers have taken to returning them to their original positions in hope of reusing the passage without being detected by border officials.

Agents now reportedly patrol the wall in search of defects, which are mended. However, those repaired sections of wall are prime targets for smugglers, as it is easier to cut through the welded metal than it is to make new cuts. And the repair policy has also been targeted by smugglers who attempt to fool agents into believing a severed bollard has been fixed by applying putty to the site of the cut. All of this should be unsurprising to the Trump administration. NBC News has reported border barrier prototypes tested in 2017 were found to be vulnerable to reciprocating saws. At the time, CBP spokesman Ralph DeSio argued that no wall, however well designed, would be impenetrable.

That didn’t stop Trump from touting the wall as “virtually impenetrable” when he visited a construction site close to San Diego in September, according to NBC News. At the time, he said the wall — which has cost roughly $10 billion so far and has been mostly funded by taxpayers — would successfully block human traffickers from entering the US. He added that not even world class climbers would be able to scale the structure, especially because the materials that comprise it would become too hot to hold in the desert sun. Yet smugglers have also found ways of climbing the wall. A method that involves using rebar ladders to scale one side and rope ladders to descend the other has become especially popular near San Diego, despite the risk of falling from the height of a three-story-building (the barrier can be up to 30 feet tall).

It is unclear how many breaches there have been so far because the US government has yet to disclose any incidents. Some officials who spoke to The Washington Post anonymously played down the situation, saying there had been only “a few instances” and the wall has “significantly increased security and deterrence.” Full Story

Manafort pushed conspiracy theory blaming Ukraine for election hacking as far back as 2016
By Katelyn Polantz and Kevin Bohn, CNN

Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort blamed Ukrainians for the hack into computers of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign rather than the long-held conclusion of US intelligence that the Russians played a role in the election meddling, newly released documents from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation show.

The documents are notes from interviews the Mueller team conducted with witnesses, including former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, who served alongside Manafort. "Gates recalled Manafort saying the hack was likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the Russians," read a summary of one interview done with Gates. Manafort has extensive ties to Ukrainian politicians and businessmen and is serving prison time for fraud and for illegally lobbying in the US on their behalf, among other crimes. The newly released documents show how far back some people in the Trump political operation theorized Ukraine's unsubstantiated role in the Democratic hacking.

Read the interview notes

Trump has continued pushing this conspiracy theory as he has asked for investigation into Ukraine's possible role in the 2016 campaign and as he has also called for investigations of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden. The newly released documents are part of a group of Mueller interview notes released Saturday to CNN, after CNN and BuzzFeed sued the Justice Department seeking the records from the Mueller investigation. Full Story

Trump officials propose rule to let faith-based adoption groups bar LGBT parents
By Rebecca Klar

The Trump administration is proposing a rule that would allow faith-based foster care and adoption groups to exclude LGBT parents. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the proposal Friday, citing concerns about religious freedom. The rule would allow organizations that deny LGBT parents adoption rights to continue getting federal funding, rolling back an Obama-era rule that included sexual orientation as a protected trait under anti-discrimination protections. The proposed rule was first reported by The Associated Press.

"HHS is committed to fully enforcing the civil rights laws passed by Congress. The proposed rule would better align its grants regulations with federal statutes, eliminating regulatory burden, including burden on the free exercise of religion," the agency said in a statement. "HHS is affirming that it will comply with all applicable Supreme Court decisions in administering its grants programs," it added. The agency said it had heard concerns that language adopted by the Obama administration violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Constitution and exceeded the department's authority. Full Story

As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction
By Philip Rucker, Rachael Bade and Rosalind S. Helderman

President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as “Never Trumpers” and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.” To the Democratic leaders directing the impeachment proceedings, Trump’s actions to stymie their investigation into his conduct with Ukraine add up to another likely article of impeachment: obstruction.

The centerpiece of House Democrats’ eventual impeachment charges is widely expected to be Trump’s alleged abuse of power over Ukraine. But obstruction of Congress is now all but certain to be introduced as well, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides, just as it was five decades ago when the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against then-president Richard Nixon. But Nixon resigned before the full House vote. “It’s important to vindicate the role of Congress as an independent branch of government with substantial oversight responsibility, that if the executive branch just simply obstructs and prevents witnesses from coming forward, or prevents others from producing documents, they could effectively eviscerate congressional oversight,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.). “That would be very dangerous for the country.”

Democrats argue that the Trump administration’s stonewalling — including trying to stop subpoenaed witnesses from testifying and blocking the executive branch from turning over documents — creates a strong case that the president has infringed on the separation of powers and undercut lawmakers’ oversight duties as laid out in the Constitution. Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional law scholar at Harvard Law School who has informally advised some Democratic House leaders, said Trump’s actions are unprecedented.

“I know of no instance when a president subject to a serious impeachment effort, whether Andrew Johnson or Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, has essentially tried to lower the curtain entirely — treating the whole impeachment process as illegitimate, deriding it as a ‘lynching’ and calling it a ‘kangaroo court,’ ” Tribe said. “It’s not simply getting in the way of an inquiry,” he added. “It’s basically saying one process that the Constitution put in place, thanks to people like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, for dealing with an out-of-control president is a process he is trying to subvert, undermine and delegitimate. That, to me, is clearly a high crime and misdemeanor.” Full Story

"It's not like he paid taxes here anyway": Governor of New York reacts to Trump moving to Florida
By Caitlin O'Kane

Lifelong New Yorker Donald Trump has officially changed his primary residence from Trump Tower in Manhattan to Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is one of the people who is glad to see the high-profile resident go. "Good riddance," Cuomo tweeted. "It's not like [Trump] paid taxes here anyway... He's all yours, Florida." Cuomo is a born-and-bred New Yorker whose father, Mario Cuomo, also served as governor. Though the governor is politically at odds with Mr. Trump, the two actually have something in common: they were both born in Queens.

Good riddance.

It’s not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway...

He’s all yours, Florida. https://t.co/9AX0q1aBkQ
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) November 1, 2019

Former GOP Rep. Justin Amash Slams Republicans: 'History Will Not Look Kindly' on 'False Defenses' of Trump
By Jason Lemon

Independent Representative Justin Amash called out his Republican colleagues ahead of Thursday's House vote on a resolution laying out the rules for the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, warning them that "history will not look kindly" on their defenses of President Donald Trump. Amash, who has been described as one of the most conservative members of the House, was elected as a Republican but formally declared himself an independent on July 4. The Michigan congressman parted ways with the vast majority of GOP lawmakers following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report regarding Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian election interference. Like many Democrats, he believed the report showed that the president had engaged in impeachable conduct.

With the House Democrats' launch of a formal impeachment inquiry last month, Amash has been a lonely conservative voice in Congress supporting the investigation. "This president will be in power for only a short time, but excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name," he tweeted on Thursday. "To my Republican colleagues: Step outside your media and social bubble. History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous, and false defenses of this man."

This president will be in power for only a short time, but excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name. To my Republican colleagues: Step outside your media and social bubble. History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous, and false defenses of this man. — Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 31, 2019

Despite the urging by Amash and Democrats, the impeachment rules vote in the House passed along partisan lines, with 232 in favor and 196 opposed. All GOP representatives voted against the resolution, except for three who abstained. Almost all Democrats voted in favor, except for two congressmen who chose not to vote on the resolution. Amash, the chamber's lone independent, voted "yes" along with Democrats.

We swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath to support and defend Donald Trump’s abuse of the office of the presidency. — Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 30, 2019. Full Story

The 5 People Who Could Have Stopped Trump
Gambling regulators once contemplated yanking Trump’s casino licenses. Why they didn’t holds a lesson for lawmakers today.

In the spring and summer of 1991, a handful of state watchdogs in Atlantic City, New Jersey, considered whether to put an end to Donald Trump. The members of the Casino Control Commission, in a series of hearings in the Arcade Building on the corner of Tennessee Avenue and Boardwalk, had to determine whether or not Trump was sufficiently “financially stable” to merit renewals of his licenses to own and operate his three casinos in the perpetually ground-down regional gaming capital. The stakes hardly could have been higher.

Trump was in his mid-40s and only four years earlier had published the pure brand boost of The Art of the Deal, but now he was in trouble. He needed the licenses to keep his casinos open to have any shot at staving off personal bankruptcy and potentially permanent reputational stain. No licenses would have meant no casinos would have meant less collateral for the banks as Trump tried to dig out from under billions of dollars of debt. And the regulators had overwhelming reason to question his financial stature and overall fitness to continue. In addition to Trump’s dismal individual straits, the cash flow at his debt-riddled casinos wasn’t enough to make them profitable as the industry sagged in the throes of a recession. Trump’s “financial viability,” Steven P. Perskie, the chairman of the commission, stated at a meeting in May, “is in serious peril.” He and his fellow commissioners had a choice to make: renew Trump’s licenses and hope his bottom line improved—or strip him of them and risk delivering a debilitating blow to Atlantic City’s wheezing economy.

Today, more than a generation later and a year out from the 2020 election, Trump in the White House is staring at a fundamentally similar scenario—the growing probability that his fate will be decided by a group of regulators, albeit of a different, more high-profile ilk but nonetheless obligated to determine whether he can remain in office long enough for voters to decide if he deserves a second term. Just as there are people who are empowered to stop him now—members of Congress, in particular Republicans—there were people who could have stopped him then. And didn’t.

What the casino commissioners—Perskie and vice chair Valerie H. Armstrong along with W. David Waters, James R. Hurley and Frank J. Dodd—opted for instead was a different form of oversight, enacting stricter monitoring, mandating a regimen of daily, weekly and monthly updates and reports from Trump and his upper-tier staff. Some of the commissioners, too, engaged in occasional harrumphing and finger-wagging, logging into the record words like “incomplete,” “confusing,” “disappointing” and “disheartening,” sounding at times like precursors to GOP lawmakers’ mostly toothless tsk-tsking toward Trump these last few years. In the end, though, worried about the prospect of shuttered casinos, thousands of jobs lost and general area economic disarray that might have rippled on account of his ousting, they essentially let him skate. “I move that the Commission find the Trump Organization financially stable,” Perskie said at a decisive meeting in late June. Full Story

FBI chief warns Congress of danger from 'self-radicalized' domestic terrorists
By Caitlin Dickson
Federal law enforcement and homeland security officials warned about the growing threat of domestic terrorism at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday. “The prevalent trend of Americans driven by violent extremist ideologies or personal grievances” to commit racially and ethnically-motivated attacks has become “one of the most significant emergent threats” to national security, said Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. “We see domestic terrorism as [a] persistent, evolving threat,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. He said domestic terrorists have committed more fatal attacks than international terrorists in the U.S. in recent years.

These concerns were echoed by Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and David Glawe, under secretary in charge of DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Wray clarified that “international terrorism is very much alive and well and something we need to stay focused on too.” But he and the other witnesses emphasized how rapidly advancing technology and the increasingly disorganized nature of terrorism in general make home-grown terrorism uniquely dangerous at this time.

“Terrorism today moves at the speed of social media,” Wray said. While there have been cases of American white supremacists traveling overseas to train with groups in Eastern Europe as well as some known ties “between U.S.-based neo Nazis and their overseas analogues,” Wray said that for the most part, interactions between individual U.S. based extremists and like-minded individuals overseas is limited to social media, internet forums and, increasingly, encrypted messaging technology. “They’re not working together but they’re inspired by each other,” he said. Full Story...

Trump tweets doctored image of himself giving medal to 'American hero' dog wounded in al-Baghdadi raid
By William Cummings, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Wednesday shared an altered image on Twitter of himself giving what is being interpreted as a canine version of the Medal of Honor to the military dog that suffered minor wounds in the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "AMERICAN HERO!" read the all-caps tweet accompanying the photo. The Belgian Malinois joined in the U.S. special operations raid on the Islamic State leader's compound near the Syria-Turkey border. Al-Baghdadi's death was made public on Sunday when Trump delivered a televised address from the White House. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the canine's "tremendous service" and said it was "still in theater." He declined to share the animal's gender or name for security reasons. Photoshop skills are not known to be part of Trump's social media repertoire. Though it's possible a president can learn new tricks, the image bears a watermark from the conservative news site The Daily Wire, which shared the image in a Tuesday tweet. The original image appears to be an Associated Press photo of Trump giving the Medal of Honor to Vietnam veteran James McCloughan in 2017. more...

'Not qualified' rating and accusation from American Bar Association moves Trump nominee to tears
By Ariane de Vogue and Alex Rogers, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A federal appeals court nominee broke down in tears during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, reacting to a scathing letter against his confirmation by the American Bar Association after it conducted 60 interviews and concluded that he was "not qualified" for the judicial branch. Lawrence J.C. VanDyke grew emotional, with his face turning red as he defended himself against the letter's conclusions that he could would not treat LGBTQ litigants fairly. "I do not believe that," VanDyke said. "It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God," adding, "they should all be treated with dignity and respect." The rare outburst comes as the ABA is under continued attack from conservatives who question its methodology and argue that the group that has rated potential nominees for decades is biased against conservatives. It also comes as the President and Senate Republicans have pushed through a record number of judicial nominees as Democrats have questioned their qualifications. President Donald Trump nominated VanDyke, who currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice, last month for the post on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The President has repeatedly attacked the liberal-leaning 9th Circuit for rulings that have blocked administration initiatives, especially on immigration. The ABA on Tuesday night issued a blistering analysis of the nomination. "Mr. VanDyke's accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules," William C. Hubbard, chair of the ABA's standing committee on the federal judiciary, wrote. "There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an 'entitlement' temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful." more...

Trump promised to eliminate the national debt. It has risen by $3 trillion
By caroline cournoyer
President Trump pledged to eliminate the national debt within eight years. Almost halfway to his self-imposed deadline, it has actually increased. The U.S. is $3 trillion more in debt than it was when Mr. Trump entered the White House. In nearly three years, it rose 15% — from $19.9 trillion to $22.9 trillion, according to the latest numbers from the Treasury Department. But Mr. Trump, a Republican, can claim a small victory: The nation's debt has risen at a slower pace under him than under recent presidents. At the same point in their presidencies, the debt increased 41% under Democrat Barack Obama, 20% under Republican George W. Bush and 19% under Democrat Bill Clinton. Mr. Obama came into office shortly after the start of the worst recession since the Great Depression in which tax revenues plummeted. The president and Republicans argued that the tax cuts would pay for themselves, but Representative Kevin Brady, who helped craft the 2017 bill, admitted this year that that has yet to happen. more...

Fed Cuts Rates Again To Boost A Slowing Economy
By Scott Horsley
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a quarter percentage point Wednesday in an effort to support an economy that continues to tap the brakes. In announcing the move, the central bank pointed to weak business investment, which has been a drag on the economy, even as consumer spending has held up relatively well. This is the Fed's third interest rate cut since July, and it brings the federal funds rate target down to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. Falling interest rates have contributed to a modest rebound in the housing market and big-ticket consumer purchases. But they've done little so far to boost business investment. Many businesses are wary about spending money in the face of slowing global demand and uncertainty surrounding the president's trade war. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that economic growth slowed in the third quarter to just 1.9%. The report showed the Fed's preferred measure of inflation reached 2.2% during the quarter, slightly above the central bank's 2% target. "Although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports remain weak," the Fed said in a statement. more...

What Vindman's testimony shows us about Trump's idea of loyalty
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump wants a Lt. Col. Oliver North. What he's got is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. North was a Marine officer detailed to the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan who was convicted of obstructing a congressional inquiry into the Iran-Contra scandal. Vindman is an Army officer detailed to the National Security Council who just testified about his efforts to document Trump's pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. Trump's the kind of man who sees nothing wrong with holding up US aid to corner a foreign government to help him against his political rival. Facing the testimony of an immigrant in uniform who isn't waiting until he leaves the White House to tell his fact-based, nonpartisan truth, it's entirely predictable that the first thing Trump did was attack him. Trump cast Vindman as a "never Trumper," despite also claiming that he never met the man. It's directly in line with the idea he's repeatedly pushed that a "deep state" of entrenched bureaucrats is out to get him. On cue, pundits who defend Trump's responsiveness to the whims of Vladimir Putin immediately questioned Vindman, who sought refuge in the US as a very young child, along with many other Jews fleeing the Soviet Union. Where do his loyalties lie, they openly asked. Vindman made that clear on Tuesday. While the whistleblower and the anonymous New York Times op-ed writer are keeping their identities hidden, Vindman -- still a White House employee -- showed up to testify in person. He arrived on Capitol Hill in a dress uniform displaying a Purple Heart and declared himself an American patriot in his opening statement. Vindman making the choice to testify about his concerns that Trump was inappropriately pressuring Ukraine and his efforts to fix omissions in the July 25 call transcript that proves the point. The vile attacks on his patriotism were dismissed even by Trump's Republican allies on Capitol Hill. But Trump has a well documented history of either lashing out at or rejecting military men who tried to stand up to him. The main foil of Trump's time in office has been Sen. John McCain, the POW turned US senator, who often criticized Trump's foreign policy and who wasn't afraid to crush Republican hopes of repealing Obamacare with a dramatic thumbs down in the Senate chamber. Those policy differences drove them apart, but Trump is unique among American politicians for being unafraid to mock another man's war service, particularly McCain's. Apparently unashamed of his own Vietnam record, Trump made fun of McCain for being captured and tortured. Trump did it when McCain was vibrant and his opponent, when he was sick, and after he died. But all of that is ancient history at this point. But there is something underneath the attack dog mentality Trump turned on Vindman. As with his prior attacks on the "deep state," he demonstrated his complete disregard for the idea of public service and misunderstanding of the concept of loyalty. In Trump's worldview, where he has saved the country from his predecessors and where all victories are his and there are no defeats, there's no room for loyalty to anyone or anything else. But in the military, where soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines pledge allegiance to the flag and show up for work regardless of who is President, it's meant to be the opposite. more...

State Department officials to provide details about Giuliani's role in Ukraine
Catherine Croft, a special adviser for Ukraine, and Christopher Anderson, a former special adviser, were both scheduled to testify.
By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — A current State Department official and a former one were set to testify Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry, a day after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that he had raised concerns to his superiors about the phone call between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine that prompted the inquiry. Catherine Croft, a special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department, was expected to begin her closed-door deposition on Wednesday morning before the three House committees leading the inquiry. Christopher Anderson, who was a special adviser to former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, was scheduled to testify in the early afternoon. Anderson left his position in mid-July and was succeeded by Croft. According to their opening statements obtained by NBC News, neither Anderson nor Croft listened firsthand to the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelinskiy. Croft, who joined the National Security Council in July 2017 and stayed there through the first half of 2018, was expected to tell lawmakers that she received multiple calls from Robert Livingston — a lobbyist and former GOP member of Congress who resigned in 1998 — who told her that Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, should be fired. “He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an 'Obama holdover' and associated with George Soros," she planned to say, according to prepared remarks. "It was not clear to me at the time — or now — at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch." Croft was expected to say that she had documented those calls and told her boss, Fiona Hill, then a top White House adviser for Europe and Russia, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and that she was not aware of any action that was taken in response. Trump removed Yovanovitch as ambassador in May. more...

Vindman says White House omitted Trump's reference to Biden tapes in transcript of Zelensky call
By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
(CNN) - The National Security Council's top Ukraine expert told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he tried to make changes to the White House's rough transcript of the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's President, including that Trump mentioned tapes of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that one example of his attempts to change the transcript was to include Trump telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky there were tapes of Biden, which The New York Times reported occurred where there's an ellipsis in the transcript that was released. The change was not made. The assertion that some portion of the conversation was replaced by an ellipsis contradicts the White House's statement in September that the ellipses in the transcript did not represent missing words or phrases. It also contradicts the President who has insisted the transcript the White House released was an exact depiction of the call, even though the memo itself describes it as rough. Vindman also said that he would have edited the transcript to specifically show that Zelensky mentioned Burisma -- the company that hired Hunter Biden -- rather than just "the company," according to sources. "He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue," the rough transcript cites Zelensky as saying. Vindman's testimony that some specific details were left out of the rough transcript adds further insight about how the White House handled the call and Democrats' concerns that the Trump administration engaged in a coverup. more...

Here’s How Dumb Bill Barr’s Great Mifsud Conspiracy Story Really Is
Mifsud’s deep connections with Putin’s foreign policy establishment and his glowing appraisals of Russia’s role in global affairs show Barr has barked up the wrong tree.
By Amy Knight
Attorney General William Barr has been looking into the Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, whose discussion with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos helped set off the FBI investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. It was Mifsud who told Papadopoulos about the dirt the Russians had on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails," a tip Papadopoulos blurted out to an Australian diplomat in an indiscretion that reached the FBI and started the ball rolling. Barr’s interest is all part of a broader effort pushed obsessively by President Donald J. Trump in an effort to prove, at least in the public mind, that he was the victim of a conspiracy in 2016 rather than the beneficiary of one. Trump’s pressure on the recently elected government in Ukraine to promote this line features in the impeachment proceedings against him. But that has only led his administration and supporters to push harder the notion of a sinister “deep state” conspiracy to derail his presidential campaign. Where the pressure on Ukraine was partly the work of Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani operating outside official channels, Attorney General Barr’s probe is now a criminal investigation into the origins of the counterintelligence probe into Trump’s Moscow connections. And Professor Mifsud is right in the middle of it. The teams led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI reported that Mifsud, who disappeared from public view in late 2017,  received his information about the Clinton emails through highly placed members of the Russian government, and ex-FBI Director James Comey, fired by Trump, even said that Mifsud was a Russian agent.  Barr and his boys are operating on a different theory—that Mifsud was part of a setup by the CIA and FBI to smear Trump.  Pursuing this theory, Barr even went abroad recently to talk with Italian and British intelligence officials about Mifsud, who taught at universities in both Britain and Italy. But Mifsud's deep, long-standing connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy establishment and the highly favorable views he has expressed publicly about Russia's role in global affairs show just how far Barr has barked up the wrong tree. more...

Mnuchin Pressed on ‘Alleged Rampant Corruption’ at Treasury Department
The Fiscal Times
By Michael Rainey
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) on Tuesday asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for more information related to a report in The New York Times alleging that Mnuchin personally intervened to provide the financier Michael Milken with tax breaks through the federal “opportunity zone” program meant to direct investment to distressed neighborhoods. In a letter to Mnuchin, Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he was writing regarding “alleged rampant corruption” at the Treasury Department and questioned how Mnuchin sees his role: “[D]o you see your job as protecting the interests of the entirety of the American people or a handful of plutocrats and personal friends? Do you think it is appropriate for the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States to seek special favors for one of the most prolific financial criminals in world history?” more...

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