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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.


Donald J. Trump White House Page 6

By Sonam Sheth
The United States in late August withdrew its recommendation to restore some of Ukraine's trade privileges, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The move came after John Bolton, then President Donald Trump's national security adviser, informed the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, that Trump would most likely oppose any action that benefited Ukraine's newly elected government headed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, the report said. It's unclear whether Trump directed Bolton to convey that message to Lighthizer or whether he was even aware of it. But The Post's reporting adds yet another layer to a growing portrait of the Trump administration's actions as it tried to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that would politically benefit Trump ahead of the 2020 election. At the time the US was said to withdraw its recommendation to restore certain trade privileges to Ukraine, the president and his allies were engaged in what has been called a shadow foreign-policy campaign that involved stalling a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine. Bill Taylor, the US's chief envoy to Ukraine, testified to Congress this week that the decision to freeze aid was part of Trump's effort to force Zelensky to cave to his demands for investigations. The Post's reporting indicates that the pressure campaign may have extended to more than just the security assistance. Taylor was one of nearly a dozen current and former government officials who testified as part of Congress' impeachment inquiry examining claims that Trump used his public office for private gain. A career foreign-service officer and war veteran, Taylor gave the most damning testimony to date against the president, directly implicating him as ordering the US to freeze military aid unless Zelensky acceded to his demands. Taylor's testimony appears to be at odds with what Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, told lawmakers last week, and at least one House Democrat said it could open Sondland up to a perjury charge. Taylor testified that shortly after he became the US's acting ambassador to Ukraine in June he realized there were two channels through which US policy toward Ukraine was conducted: an official one, which was spearheaded by Taylor, and an unofficial one led by Sondland, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and the US's special representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. more...

By Julia Arciga
The White House is reportedly planning to instruct federal agencies not to renew their subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post. “Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving—hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told The Wall Street Journal. It’s not clear how many subscriptions the federal government has to each newspaper, or how the White House would direct agencies to cut the subscriptions. The Post and the Times declined to comment. On Monday evening, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he doesn’t want the Post or the Times to be in the White House. “We’re going to probably terminate that and The Washington Post. They’re fake,” he said. Aides told the Journal that they expect Trump will read both newspapers despite the move. more... - Oh, they must have hurt the little baby’s feelings. Trump is the pettiest person in the world and as Americans; we should be ashamed to have him as our president.

Summer Zervos presented evidence in court filings to support claims the president assaulted her in a hotel room in 2007
By Guardian staff
A former contestant on The Apprentice, Donald Trump’s reality TV show, has presented evidence in court filings to support her claims that the president sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in 2007. Summer Zervos is suing Trump, accusing him of defaming her by denying her allegations. The court filings appeared in a report on Thursday afternoon by the Hollywood Reporter. Trump accuser tells court she has corroborating documents – live She is one of several women who came forward during the 2016 presidential election campaign accusing Trump of sexual misconduct of varying degrees of seriousness. Trump denies all such allegations against him and, contrary to Zervos’s allegation that he attacked her in a hotel room in 2007, the now president has said: “I never met her at a hotel.” Trump has tried and failed to prevent the lawsuit from moving forward and it could go to trial next year. Court papers filed on Thursday present evidence that Zervos said will corroborate her report on the meeting with Trump. The filings include emails with Trump’s secretary, Rhona Graff, about the meeting and calendar entries noting a stay by Trump at the Beverly Hills hotel in December 2007. Zervos’s attorney, Mariann Wang, noted to the court that the information points “line up with Ms Zervos’s detailed public account with striking accuracy”. Further documents purport to corroborate more details but are currently still under wraps. A memorandum with the court states: “The plaintiff reported the defendant’s assaults to family members and close friends immediately after they occurred and then again over the years.” It adds: “She confronted the defendant about his inappropriate behavior, both in a phone call shortly after the assaults and in an email sent through his secretary, Rhona Graff, in April 2016. The plaintiff also considered taking more formal legal action with respect to defendant many years ago and in fact reached out to multiple lawyers back in 2011, including to Gloria Allred, whose records reflect that contact. more...

By Evan Perez, CNN
(CNN) - Attorney General William Barr's probe into the intelligence and origins of the 2016 Trump-Russia investigation is now a criminal investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The so-called investigation of the investigators is led by John Durham, a Connecticut-based federal prosecutor, who so far has conducted some interviews but also has run into some obstacles from witnesses who have declined voluntary interviews, CNN reported last week.
The move to make it a criminal inquiry was always anticipated, and it allows Durham to use subpoenas to compel testimony and comes as President Donald Trump faces an onslaught of negative headlines stemming from the House impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine. It's not clear what, if any, part of the Trump-Russia investigation is a target of Durham's criminal probe. The New York Times was first to report on the new stage of the investigation. The investigation has been driven by Barr's suspicions that some of the officials overseeing the counterintelligence probe of the 2016 Trump campaign may have acted improperly. Barr's embrace of these theories aligns with Trump's chief grievance that he was the victim of a "deep state" spy operation that has clouded his presidency. The President has publicly called for investigations of former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, among others. And in recent weeks the President's eagerness for the Justice Department to focus on his perceived critics has caused awkward issues for Durham and the department. Department officials have said Barr didn't know that Trump had mentioned his name in a July call with Ukraine's President, suggesting he work with the attorney general and Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal attorney, whose activities are near the center of the congressional impeachment inquiry. And a senior Justice official disavowed comments from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who linked a freeze of Ukraine aid to the Justice Department probe. more...

Democrats have slammed White House insistence that Trump was focused on corruption — not Bidens — when he blocked Ukraine aid funds.
By Erica Werner
The Trump administration has sought repeatedly to cut foreign aid programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas, White House budget documents show, despite recent claims from President Trump and his administration that they have been singularly concerned with fighting corruption in Ukraine. Those claims have come as the president and his administration sought to explain away a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressured his counterpart to open investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into a debunked conspiracy theory involving a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server. “I don’t care about politics, but I do care about corruption. And this whole thing is about corruption,” Trump told reporters earlier this month when discussing the Ukraine issue. “This whole thing — this whole thing is about corruption.” The phone call is central to the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. The Democrats have accused Trump of holding back a congressionally approved military aid package for Ukraine until Zelensky publicly committed to launching investigations into the Bidens. On Tuesday, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine — acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. — told lawmakers that Trump made the release of military aid to Ukraine contingent on public declarations that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election. Trump, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other administration officials have insisted repeatedly that their goal in delaying the military aid package to Ukraine was to ensure corruption was addressed in that country — not to produce political benefit to Trump. “There were two reasons that we held up the aid. We talked about this at some length. The first one was the rampant corruption in Ukraine,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Corruption is a big deal; everyone knows it,” he said. (The second reason was to ensure that other nations contributed to Ukraine’s defense, Mulvaney said.) more...

Fox News’ judicial analyst disappointed his colleagues by explaining there’s nothing wrong with “secret” impeachment hearings.
By Matt Wilstein - the daily beast
After Republican members of the House literally stormed the gates of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, Judge Andrew Napolitano stopped by Fox & Friends Thursday morning to deliver a harsh wake-up call: Democrats are just “following the rules”—rules written by Republicans. “I read the House rules,” Napolitano said. “And as frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors—the hearings over which Congressman Schiff is presiding—they are consistent with the rules.” “They can make up any rules they want?!” Brian Kilmeade replied. Speaking more slowly, Napolitano told him, “Well, they can’t change the rules, they follow the rules.” He went to explain that those rules were last written in January 2015 when Republicans held the majority and the Speaker of the House was John Boehner. “The rules say that this level of inquiry, this initial level of inquiry, can be done in secret,” Napolitano said, effectively dismantling the primary talking point of both Fox News and the Trump White House. “Secret evidence doesn’t work in this world, so eventually there will be a public presentation of this,” he added, “at which lawyers for the president can cross-examine these people and challenge them.” “So I get it, the Republicans are frustrated, they wanted to make a point and they made their point, but this is just not the most effective way to show respect for what your colleagues are doing,” Napolitano said. As the Fox & Friends hosts continued to protest, he added, “I know this is going to sound weird, these are not the impeachment hearings. The impeachment hearings have to be held in public by the House Judiciary Committee. This is the initial interview of witnesses to see what they have to say, to determine whether or not they are even worthy of presenting evidence of impeachment.” more...

“The people who are against him, and who have been against him, and have been working against him since the day they took office are just that.”
By Andrew Kirell - The Daily Beast
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Thursday doubled down on her boss’ “human scum” attack on so-called “Never Trump” Republicans and seemingly expanded it to include anyone who has worked against the president’s agenda. “The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.“Watch out for them, they are human scum!” The president’s tweet set off a firestorm about the his rhetoric—in this case about a notably small subset of Republicans, some of whom are likely to vote for him anyhow—and so Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade asked the top White House flack: “Does he regret that?” more...  - Those who support Trump and his lies are the real scum.

After William Taylor’s testimony, Trump’s allies are reduced to saying things like “abuse of power is not a crime.”
By Zack Beauchamp
Ambassador William Taylor’s testimony on the Ukraine scandal is the most devastating account to emerge so far from the affair — and maybe even the entire Trump presidency. Taylor, a top US diplomat in Ukraine, lays out a detailed timeline of the scandal, one that makes it clear that President Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into opening up an investigation into Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. Trump’s defense prior to this largely consisted of the catchphrase “no quid pro quo” — the argument that there was never any attempt to trade favors from the US, like military aid or a White House invitation, for a Burisma investigation from Ukraine. This was always deeply implausible, as the White House’s own summary of Trump’s July call with Zelensky is strong evidence that this is what Trump was seeking. Taylor’s testimony pretty much seals the deal. Now the president and his defenders are left flailing, trying to salvage the wreckage of their position through a combination of lies and tortured logic. Take Trump’s tweet on Wednesday morning, largely a quote from a Fox News appearance by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX): Neither he (Taylor) or any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.” Congressman John Ratcliffe @foxandfriends Where is the Whistleblower? The Do Nothing Dems case is DEAD! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019. This is not what Taylor said. The ambassador testifies that Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, met with a senior adviser to Zelensky on September 1 and informed him that “the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.” According to Taylor’s testimony, Sondland and Trump made this clear to the Ukrainians at the highest level while insisting, in one of the testimony’s most darkly comedic passages, that this was “not a quid-pro-quo,” as if you get immunity from murder charges by yelling “I’m not committing a crime” while stabbing someone: more...

By Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti
Bill Barr’s ‘secularists’ speech runs counter to key themes of Catholic, and more broadly, Christian theology. The US attorney general William Barr’s speech at the University of Notre Dame last week has been widely decried by liberal commentators for violating the separation between church and state. In his speech, Barr portrayed “secularists” as enemies of American democracy. Yet few seem to have grasped the deeper political significance of Barr’s remarks. On their face, none of Barr’s claims appear particularly new. The idea that “militant secularism” undermines the moral fabric of society, leading to all sorts of “social pathologies,” and the idea that “free government” requires the “moral discipline” afforded by religious belief, have been central tenets of official Catholic doctrine for at least a century and a half. What is more original – and troubling – is the political use the US’s chief law-enforcement officer has made of these traditional religious themes. By subtly reworking some of the core tenets of Catholic social doctrine, he has constructed a new political theology in the service of Trumpism – one which aims to offer conservative Christians a set of principled, not just pragmatic, reasons for supporting the current US administration. Three intellectual moves define this new political theology. First, by describing “secularists” as engaged in an “unremitting assault on religion and traditional values”, Barr presented an American majority group (self-identified Christians) as a victimized social group. This feeds into Trump’s broader appropriation of the logic of identity politics, which has converted it into a tool for defending the interests of previously dominant social groups by tapping into anxieties about “cultural replacement”. Second, by establishing an equivalence between morality and religion, and between religion and Christianity (or, as he sometimes also put it, “Judaeo-Christian values”), Barr excluded two key social groups from the remit of those he deemed capable of “free government”: non-believers and non-Christians. For anyone keyed into the mainstays of Trump’s discourse, it should be clear who is here being stigmatized as a “threat”, not just for religion but for American freedom in general: urban elites and recent immigrants. Take these two groups out and you have a pretty good cross-section of Trump’s electorate. Finally, by talking of a “wreckage of the family”, “record levels of depression and mental illness” and “an increase in senseless violence”, Barr also echoed the idea of an “American carnage” employed by Trump during his inaugural address to present himself as a providentially ordained “savior” called upon to re-establish “order” and “civility”. Although Trump – a twice-divorced former pro-choicer – might seem an unlikely champion for this religious mission, Barr also implicitly appealed to the biblical theme of the “imperfect vessel”, which has been widely used by evangelical Christians to justify their support for the current president. While jokingly telling the story of the rocambolesque way in which Trump informed him about his nomination, he also made sure to reassure the audience that: “As long as I am attorney general, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of [the] fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.” more...

By JOSH GERSTEIN
The National Archives and Records Administration has launched an investigation into Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ use of private email for official business, according to a letter made public this week. The inquiry was triggered by an unflattering profile of Ross last month in the Washington Post, which cited government-related emails the watchdog group Democracy Forward received from Ross’ private account. The group obtained the messages through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. “The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has become aware of a potential unauthorized disposition of U.S. Department of Commerce records,” Archives official Laurence Brewer wrote in an Oct. 9 letter to Jennifer Jessup, who serves as Commerce’s Chief Information Officer. Brewer, who holds the title of Chief Records Officer of the U.S. Government, cited the Washington Post article and noted that it asserted that Ross “used personal email for official business.” Brewer asked for a response from Commerce within 30 days. Word of the National Archives inquiry comes as a court fight escalates over Ross’ emails, creating parallels with legal battles during the Obama administration over access to government officials’ personal email accounts. The most famous showdown was over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal account, which she used in lieu of an official State Department email address during her four years in the Cabinet. In a court filing Wednesday night, Justice Department attorneys said the Commerce Department should not be required to conduct a direct search of Ross’ personal email accounts even though searches of Commerce Department accounts found 280 email chains over a 16-month period that contained references to one of more of the four private accounts he used. Many of the messages pertain to Ross’ travel arrangements through a jet-sharing service, NetJets, and were also sent to government accounts to update Ross’ official calendars, the court submissions say. Other emails involve outsiders, including at least one reporter, who initiated contact with Ross through his private accounts. more...

By Sinéad Baker
Colorado's governor mocked President Donald Trump for saying he was building the US-Mexico border wall in the state, suggesting that he needed "basic geography" lessons like a kindergartner. Trump said in a speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday that the US was "building a wall in Colorado." "And we're building a wall on the border of New Mexico," he said. "And we're building a wall in Colorado. We're building a beautiful wall. A big one that really works — that you can't get over, you can't get under." Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, pointed out on Facebook that Colorado did not share a border with Mexico. "Well this is awkward...Colorado doesn't border Mexico," he wrote. "Good thing Colorado now offers free full day kindergarten so our kids can learn basic geography," he said. Other politicians including John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor who ended his 2020 presidential bid in August, also mocked Trump's statement. Hickenlooper tagged Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico in a tweet, pointing out that Colorado shared a border with the US state of New Mexico — and not the country of Mexico. more...


by Jerry Dunleavy
The Justice Department is defending the role played by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and by the FBI in determining that Russia hacked Democratic systems in 2016, assuring Congress it got the information it needed to carry out its investigation into Russian interference. Adam Hickey, the deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s National Security Division, made the comments while appearing on a panel before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to discuss election security for the upcoming 2020 presidential election. President Trump has long said he believes in a conspiracy theory that posits without evidence CrowdStrike is owned by a wealthy Ukrainian and that a missing DNC server is hidden in Ukraine. “Looking back at the FBI’s activities investigating the 2016 election, it has been reported that the FBI never obtained the original servers from the Democratic National Committee that had allegedly been hacked by Russia, instead relying upon imaged copies,” Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko asked. “First of all, is that correct?” Hickey replied that federal investigators were able to obtain evidence on Russian interference, noting that “it’s pretty common for us to work with a security vendor in connection with an investigation of a computer intrusion,” a reference to CrowdStrike. CrowdStrike, a large California-based cybersecurity firm that was co-founded by a Russia-born U.S. citizen and is used by both Republicans and Democrats, examined the DNC’s systems in 2016 and concluded that Russian state actors were responsible for months of cyber intrusions. The DNC did not provide the FBI with access to its servers, but CrowdStrike did provide the bureau with forensic copies. Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress in early 2017 that “our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that’s involved” and testified a few months later that his FBI investigative team “had gotten the information from the private party [CrowdStrike] that they needed to understand the intrusion.” The U.S. Intelligence Community and special counsel Robert Mueller agreed with CrowdStrike’s assessment that the Russian government hacked the DNC. The DOJ has argued in court that Mueller’s investigation did not rely solely on CrowdStrike’s determinations but rather uncovered evidence of their own pointing to Russia during the investigation. Lesko followed up on Tuesday by asking whether CrowdStrike “still has possession of the Clinton servers,” and Hickey said he didn’t know. The DNC claimed in 2018 court filings that the Russian hack in 2016 led them to “decommission more than 140 servers, remove and reinstall all software, including the operating systems, for more than 180 computers, and rebuild at least 11 servers.” The DNC has now put one of the decommissioned servers on display in its D.C. headquarters alongside one of the filing cabinets from the Watergate break-in. There is no evidence that any of the servers are in Ukraine, as Trump has claimed. In the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that has sparked an impeachment inquiry, Trump asked Zelensky for a “favor," which was to look into CrowdStrike and any possible Ukrainian election interference in 2016, immediately after Zelensky expressed interest in purchasing anti-tank weaponry, known as Javelins, from the U.S. Trump urged Zelensky later in the call to investigate “the other thing,” referring to allegations of corruption related to Joe and Hunter Biden. more...

By David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Having attacked some of his critics as "Do Nothing Democrats," President Donald Trump reserved a harsher term Wednesday for "Never Trumper Republicans" who continue to opposed him amid an impeachment inquiry. "Human scum." "The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Watch out for them, they are human scum!" Trump has ratcheted up his criticism of Republicans in recent weeks, as some GOP lawmakers question his decisions to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, pressure Ukrainian officials to weigh into U.S. politics and select a Florida property he owns to host the next G-7 summit of world leaders. Trump later reversed himself on the Florida resort and has described his July 25 phone call with Ukraine as "perfect." During a mid-day tweet storm, Trump identified one of his Never Trumper critics as Bill Taylor, the diplomat who told House impeachment investigators Wednesday he was "alarmed" by the linking of aid to investigations of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden. Other Republicans who oppose Trump proudly claimed the mantle the president bestowed on them. The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019. more...

By David Shortell, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department sued California on Wednesday, claiming that the state bypassed federal authority when it entered into an environmental agreement with the Canadian province of Quebec to combat air pollution. In a complaint filed in California federal court, Justice Department prosecutors argued that the 2013 program, which established a cap-and-trade system between the Golden State and the eastern Canadian region that limited the amount of greenhouse gases that industrial and power plants could emit, was illegal because it amounted to a treaty or compact between a US state and a foreign power. "The state of California has veered outside of its proper constitutional lane to enter into an international emissions agreement. The power to enter into such agreements is reserved to the federal government, which must be able to speak with one voice in the area of US foreign policy," said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark, the head of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "California's unlawful cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec undermines the President's ability to negotiate competitive agreements with other nations as the President sees fit." The lawsuit is the latest broadside by the Trump administration against California. Leaders in the liberal state have feuded with President Donald Trump as he has challenged their progressive environmental policies and criticized them for a homelessness problem. Last month, Trump said that he was revoking California's authority to set its own vehicle emission standards, leading to concern from environmentalists that the state's downward trend in air pollution could be affected. California, as well as New York, is fighting that move in court. more...

By Asher Stockler
The New York City Bar Association demanded Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr recuse himself from any Justice Department review of the whistleblower complaint involving President Donald Trump, saying he appeared to view "his primary obligation as loyalty to the President individually rather than to the nation." "Regardless of whether Mr. Barr was in fact aware of or part of the President's plans, either before, at the time of, or after the July 25, 2019 telephone call, it is clear that Mr. Barr was obligated to recuse himself from any involvement in DOJ's review of either the whistleblower complaint or the substance of the President's actions once the President offered Mr. Barr's services to President Zelensky," the association said in a statement. Barr was invoked on the July 25 call which, among other communications, prompted an intelligence community whistleblower to lodge a complaint against President Donald Trump for alleged improprieties related to his dealings with Ukraine. On the phone call, the president appeared to suggest that military aid for the Eastern European country would be contingent upon an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his chief 2020 rival, or a DNC server central to a conspiracy theory. Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he should communicate with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, "a highly respected man," in addition to the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr. The Justice Department later distanced itself from the call, claiming that Barr had not spoken with Trump about his wishes regarding Ukraine. "The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine, on this or any other matter," Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in late September. "The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine, on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani." The Justice Department has been involved in some of the fallout from the phone call, advising that the whistleblower's complaint need not be referred to Congress and could instead be managed by the department through a criminal referral. Ultimately, the department ruled out criminal prosecution after assessing that no campaign finance laws were broken with Trump's offer to Zelensky. more...

By Rene Marsh, CNN
(CNN) - Two weeks before taking office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his team discussed the pressure they were already feeling from the Trump administration and President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to publicly launch investigations that would benefit the US leader, according to a source familiar with discussions at the meeting. The source told CNN that Zelensky and his team specifically mentioned the pressure they were feeling to open "corruption" investigations into Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company on whose board former Vice President Joe Biden's son sat. The source said the meeting was originally scheduled to discuss energy issues but the meeting evolved into a discussion on how to handle the pressure from Trump's orbit. Among those present in the May 7 meeting were Zelensky advisers Andriy Yermak and Andriy Bogdan. Also involved were an executive for the Ukrainian state-owned natural gas company and American Amos Hochstein, a former diplomat and energy expert. The Associate Press first reported this story, citing three people familiar with the meeting. The meeting happened about two weeks after Zelensky and Trump spoke for the first time. A White House readout of that call said the two leaders discussed working together to "root out corruption." Trump has said he did not pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. It is not clear whether the President specifically asked for investigations of Ukraine's role in the 2016 election or the energy company that had hired Biden's son, Hunter, to its board. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden in Ukraine. The President has said the White House would release the call transcript but that has not happened to this point. The White House has released a transcript of a separate call that took place on July 25, in which Trump repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. The source said that even in those early weeks, Zelensky and his team realized Ukraine's relationship with the US -- including a potential face-to-face meeting with Trump -- could be at stake if they did not support the continuation of investigations like Burisma. more...

The Damage Report - Geraldo Rivera destroys Sean Hannity on-air. John Iadarola and Jayar Jackson break it down on The Damage Report. Follow The Damage Report on Facebook: more...

How Jim Mattis, “iced out” and blindsided by Trump, finally concluded the president was weakening the nation.
By BRYAN BENDER
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, "iced out” and blindsided by presidential decisions he disagreed with, grew increasingly wary of President Donald Trump's leadership, even losing his cool in private meetings and plotting to quit nearly half a year before he finally resigned, according to a new book by a close aide. Asked in a private meeting in June 2018 whether he thought the commander in chief was strengthening America, Mattis responded: "No, I don’t. I do not think Trump’s policies will make America stronger." The conversation occurred after the president's first summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Trump’s subsequent decision to cancel war games with South Korea. The retired general went to great lengths to align the Pentagon's message with the president’s, Guy Snodgrass recounts in "Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis," which will be published on Oct. 29. But Mattis' public solidarity crumbled in private as his frustration grew at Trump's dismissal of allies and shoot-from-the-hip pronouncements, writes Snodgrass, a retired Navy commander and fighter pilot and Mattis' former speechwriter at the Pentagon. During the summer of 2018, Snodgrass writes, Mattis confided to then-White House chief of staff John Kelly in a secret meeting that he was quitting the Cabinet at the end of the year — making his departure far more premeditated than the supposedly abrupt resignation that Mattis would later announce in December. The book is the first account from inside the highest reaches of the Pentagon of how Trump has remade the American national security apparatus, reporting that Mattis respected the president for having highly tuned political skills but came to believe his policies were undermining the nation. And it reveals that even a Cabinet member like Mattis, a four-star general with ample experience in wartime, found himself unable to make a difference in shaping major decisions. POLITICO obtained an early copy of the book and published an excerpt from it Monday. Mattis did not immediately respond to a request for comment about this story, and the White House did not respond to inquiries. The book went through a review by the Pentagon, which released it for publication only after Snodgrass threatened legal action this summer, but Defense Department officials warned him of the consequences of violating the trust of Mattis and other senior leaders. Snodgrass' account portrays a seldom-displayed side of the famously stoic Mattis, who has been loath to criticize Trump publicly since leaving the administration. “The White House is not to be trusted right now," Mattis said in a meeting with close aides in his office in March 2018, when Trump appointees such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn — the colloquial “adults in the room,” to the president’s detractors — were departing the administration or had been fired. "It’s too undisciplined at the moment.” more...

Trump’s lawyer just told a federal appeals court that a sitting president is above the law.
By Ian Millhiser
President Trump’s lawyer argued in court on Wednesday that he should, as president, be immune from criminal prosecution — even if he murders someone in broad daylight with a gun. The argument was made as part of Trump v. Vance, a case asking whether Manhattan prosecutors can subpoena Trump’s tax records as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. In the case, as Judge Victor Marrero explained in an opinion, Trump’s lawyers argued that “the person who serves as President, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.” (Marrero rejected that argument.) On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard Trump’s appeal of Marrero’s decision. During that hearing, Trump lawyer William Consovoy confirmed just how far his argument goes. In response to a question by appellate Judge Denny Chin, Consovoy argued that Trump is immune from criminal investigation even if he were to shoot someone on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue:  Here is Trump's lawyer, William Consovoy, telling Judge Denny Chin that if Trump were to shoot someone on fifth avenue, he could not be criminally investigated while in office. Very normal argument. pic.twitter.com/xlDBwmCUnR — Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) October 23, 2019. The question is a callback to Trump bragging in January 2016 that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and ... wouldn’t lose voters.” Consovoy did concede that “once a president is removed from office” then he could be subject to criminal investigation. “This is not a permanent immunity,” in Consovoy’s words. Nevertheless, when Chin asked whether “nothing could be done” while Trump remains in office, Consovoy stated, “That is correct.” To be clear, Consovoy is not correct about the law. As the Supreme Court explained in Clinton v. Jones (1997), “it is settled law that the separation-of-powers doctrine does not bar every exercise of jurisdiction over the President of the United States. Moreover, the Court added that “we have never suggested that the President, or any other official, has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity.” more...

by Jerry Lambe
In a jarring protest of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, House Republicans on Wednesday delayed the process by storming a secure facility during a witness deposition and refusing to leave. The reckless, pizza-fueled, rule-breaking, and potentially law-breaking maneuver was reportedly supported by President Trump. According to Bloomberg News, Trump was made aware in advance of the planned intrusion and “supported” it: Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter. Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said. CNN also reported that the president had advance knowledge of what was going to happen. The faction of approximately two dozen House GOP members, reportedly led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), barged into the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, also known as a SCIF, interrupting the deposition of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, yelling and shouting down the procedure as a “sham process.” WATCH: here's the video of when 2 dozen GOP members, led by @mattgaetz entered the secure hearing room (SCIF) to interrupt witness testimony in the #ImpeachmentInquiry as they demand access, despite not being committee members. They're complaining it's a "Soviet-style process". pic.twitter.com/8KddYz3r9D — Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) October 23, 2019. Gaetz was booted nine days ago when attempting to crash Fiona Hill’s deposition. At least some of the congressional protestors brought their personal cell phones into the SCIF, a major violation of House procedural rules which baffled experienced national security professionals, many of whom noted that the stunt could potentially compromise U.S. national security. SCIFs are secure facilities specifically designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping to enable members of Congress to freely receive and discuss highly classified information relating to national security, such as information collection methods and details in ongoing intelligence operations. Mieke Eoyang, the Vice President of the National Security Program for Washington think tank Third Way, further explained why Wednesday’s ploy potentially endangered U.S. interests. “Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the U.S. knows about them, to out U.S. high-level sources in their governments, to know what the US government knows and use it against us,” Eoyang remarked. She explained that members of Congress, many of whom do not generally utilize sophisticated security measures, are extremely high-value targets for foreign intel services. “This means they may not know they have been compromised. For example, their phones can be turned into listening devices without their knowledge,” she wrote. “But in ‘storming the SCIF’ without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al., endangered our national security [and] demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information. I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is.” more...

Just because there’s smoke doesn’t mean there’s fire.
By Emily Stewart
Questions and conspiracies about potential insider trading going on around President Donald Trump’s market-moving policy decisions aren’t new, but they’ve recently gained extra momentum thanks to a Vanity Fair story. So much so that some Democratic lawmakers are calling for regulators to look into what’s going on. But the issue isn’t so clear-cut; many financial experts and Wall Street observers say there’s nothing to see there at all. Here’s what’s happening: On October 16, Vanity Fair published an article by William Cohan suggesting a mysterious group of unidentified futures traders have made billions of dollars off of some conspicuously timed trades made just ahead of some major political developments. The story quotes an unnamed trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where the fishy deals are alleged to have taken place, declaring that there is “definite hanky-panky going on.” Cohan published a similar story in July about investors wondering whether there was some inside information being passed around related to Trump. While the summertime story didn’t make many waves, this latest one has. Critics say the allegations made in Cohan’s articles don’t make sense: The trades he’s flagging aren’t particularly notable, they argue, and these are just unfounded conspiracies. The CME has denied the article’s claims as “patently false.” Meanwhile, some Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate are pushing government regulators to look into what’s going on, calling the traders’ allegations “troubling” and demanding an investigation into “whether any rules, laws, or regulations were violated” by investors with inside knowledge from the Trump administration. Cohan, the article’s author, is pushing back against the criticism. He says he was just reporting what his sources told him, and at the very least, regulators should take a peek behind the curtain to see who is behind the trades. “I’m surprised at how controversial this became, or seems to be becoming,” Cohan told me. “This is what reporters do. We should want to raise issues where there’s smoke and see if there’s fire.” The Vanity Fair article and the pushback, briefly explained: Cohen’s October article on the “fantastically profitable mystery of the Trump chaos trades” lays out observations made by some traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a derivatives market for futures and options trading, about a handful of transactions in S&P 500 e-mini futures — electronically traded futures contracts that track the S&P 500 index and sort of seek to predict where it’s headed. For example, it notes that someone bought 420,000 e-minis on June 28, before Trump announced trade talks with China were “back on track,” and potentially made $1.8 billion. Or on September 13, someone shorted 12,000 e-minis (meaning they essentially bet the market would go down), before a drone strike on two Saudi Arabian oil installations, and made $180 million off of the deal. Cohan wrote that transactions such as these had sparked speculation among CME traders that something was afoul: more...

Analysis by Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
Erbil, Iraq (CNN) - The Syrian Democratic Forces. It's a term that encapsulates the mess that awaited the US-led counter ISIS campaign when finally it wound down. The SDF -- as it was always clumsily known -- never really existed. At its inception, the Pentagon needed a force on the ground to fight ISIS. They tried for years to find disciplined, Sunni Arab fighters, but failed repeatedly. The Syrian Kurds, however, were both disciplined and pragmatic. But they could not be harnessed as a purely Kurdish force, plowing into Sunni Arab areas held by ISIS. So a fig leaf was created -- a new name for the Syrian Kurdish fighting units, normally called the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG. So the SDF was born, with the exaggerated claim that there were many Arabs in their ranks, and the omission of Turkish Kurds -- the PKK, proscribed by Turkey -- fighting there too. The need for a fudge was a tell that the urgent anti-ISIS campaign would end up with some problems. Fast forward four years, and now the SDF means something entirely different. It's an acronym that spells betrayal. Reflecting how little the Trump administration cared for the details as it rushed to clean up its self-inflicted mess, Vice President Mike Pence mistakenly referred to the SDF as the "Syrian Defence Forces" several times as he announced a ceasefire that further betrayed them. And, earlier, President Donald Trump blurted out the poorly-kept secret that the PKK were in their ranks. America's imperfect pact with the Kurds was always going to fall apart one day. But nobody could have imagined the SDF's 10,000-plus dead sons and daughters would have been betrayed by overwhelming ignorance, fealty to Turkish and Russian interests, and the toxic aversion to details that the Trump administration displayed. The window for Russian dominance in Syria was jammed open by the pitfalls of the US-brokered ceasefire. No deal works on a battlefield if the area covered by it isn't agreed upon. Turkey thought it got all the areas it wanted on the border. The Syrian Kurds thought they had to stop shooting and let Turkey keep the ground it already had -- the latter something it had little say over militarily. It was the perfect scene-setter for Russia to step in. Russian President Vladimir Putin's Sochi deal with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took in the military reality on the ground. Turkey likely didn't want urban warfare in four to five cities on its border for months to come. To that, Putin added the Syrian regime with Russia at its back -- the keepers of an ugly peace. more... - You have to wonder if the reason Trump is doing what Putin wants is that Putin has something on him or for help in the 2016 election or both.

By Zachary Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A federal judge Wednesday gave the State Department 30 days to release Ukraine-related records, including communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. In response to an emergency motion from the watchdog group American Oversight, Judge Christopher Cooper ordered lawyers for the group and the State Department to come together to narrow the scope of the documents in the request -- eliminating those that would likely be exempt from release -- and produce documents in the next 30 days. Cooper said that he could not think of a third party exemption that would prevent the release of correspondence between Giuliani and top State Department officials regarding Ukraine. "The judge zeroed in on communications with Rudy Giuliani to be most subject to public disclosure. Why? Because he doesn't work for the government," American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers told reporters after the hearing. more...

By James Walker
A former CIA official who oversaw the agency's Russia operations has claimed Vladimir Putin benefits the most from Donald Trump's latest foreign policy moves and suggested the Russian president wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks he must be dreaming. Steven L. Hall, a retired CIA chief of Russian operations and CNN national security analyst, told network anchor Anderson Cooper that Putin likely believed Trump's decisions around Syria and Ukraine have been "absolutely fabulous." He also criticised Trump for reportedly consulting with Putin and "two-bit autocrats" like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Ukraine, and described the U.S. president's overall dealings with Ukraine as a "veritable buffet of horribleness." The Washington Post reported that President Trump's view on corruption in Ukraine was influenced by conversations about the country with Orban and Putin, according to unnamed officials. It also revealed that George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, had made similar assertions at a closed-door testimony in front of the House impeachment inquiry. Asked by Cooper whether the decision to seek advice from the two leaders had jeopardized national security, Hall said: "You've got this veritable buffet of horribleness in front of us, and it's difficult for me to say which is the most horrible thing. "That is certainly a terrible, terrible thing when you've got the president of the United States of America reaching out to a foreign leader and asking for that help, regardless of whether there's a quid pro quo." Retired CIA Chief of Russian Operations Steve Hall calls President Trump's recent foreign policy actions a “veritable buffet of horribleness." https://t.co/dOmRQN0Loa pic.twitter.com/hhtBLGWSHF  — Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) October 22, 2019. The former CIA official went on to say there had been a "decimation" of Trump administration officials who understood Ukraine and Russia. After criticising Trump for reportedly consulting with Putin and Orban over Ukraine instead of State Department officials, and mockingly describing the leader and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as "brain surgeons," Hall said: "[Trump] says, yeah I believe what Vladimir Putin tells me about this, and so I'll hold the [Ukraine aid money] money they need so badly. "Why? To thwart Russian invasions and for their annexation of Crimea. How is this good for U.S. security? I do not understand." When Anderson Cooper tried to draw the former CIA official's thoughts on whether Trump was a "puppet" of Putin, Hall said "none other than Vladimir Putin" had benefitted from Trump's harsher view on Ukraine and his decision to pull U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. "Vladimir Putin is now running up and down the Syrian border with his military forces opposite Turkey with Russian flags, going into abandoned U.S. bases there and making a big propaganda deal of it," the retired CIA operative said. more...

By Alexander Bolton
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging Republicans to focus on Democrats and their tactics in seeking to mount an effective defense of President Trump on impeachment. One GOP lawmaker, summing up McConnell’s message to Republicans at a private lunch meeting Tuesday, quoted the GOP leader as saying, “This is going to be about process.” McConnell recognizes that some members of his conference are uncomfortable defending Trump on charges his administration linked aid to Ukraine to that country’s government running politically motivated investigations meant to help the White House. As a result, he’s telling his members they have plenty of reason to offer a vigorous defense of Trump, as the president publicly urged them to do Monday, by focusing on Democratic tactics that McConnell and Trump view as unfair. Senate Republicans also privately make the point that it’s difficult to defend Trump on the substance of the charges against him because so much remains unknown. GOP lawmakers don’t know the identity of the whistleblower who filed a complaint against Trump or what exactly House Democrats have discovered in their investigation, which has been conducted largely behind closed doors. There are also outstanding questions about the nature of interactions between Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials over an investigation of Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. At the private lunch, McConnell and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) drew a contrast between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and past Speaker Carl Albert (D-Okla.), who served during the impeachment of President Nixon. Albert in 1973 and 1974 gave Republicans much more of an opportunity to participate in the process, they said. McConnell also said Democrats in the minority were treated better by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) during the impeachment of President Clinton than today’s Republicans. “What is clear and not in dispute, as Sen. Blunt has pointed out, is the process in the House to which the president is being subjected is totally unprecedented and totally unfair,” McConnell told reporters after the lunch. “Speaker Albert laid out procedural guidelines during the Nixon episode — Speaker Gingrich during the Clinton impeachment episode — all of which included the kind of basic procedural safeguards that one associates in our country with being treated fairly,” he said. more... - Republicans cannot defend Trump on facts so there going to try to use the process to defend Trump. If Bill Barr had done his job and investigated the whistleblower’s compliant Democrats would not have to do the investigation needed before and impeachment vote. Republicans do not believe our laws and constitution applies to them. Republicans only care about our laws and the constitution when they are using it to attack democrats.

Nunes protégé fed Ukraine info to Trump
By NATASHA BERTRAND
A protégé of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to President Donald Trump earlier this year, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats. Kashyap Patel, a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February, was so involved in the issue that at one point Trump thought he was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council, according to congressional testimony by Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs whose portfolio included Ukraine. Hill’s testimony was described to POLITICO by a person with direct knowledge of her recent deposition, and who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the closed-door hearing. Hill declined to comment. Several White House officials raised alarms internally about Trump undermining the U.S.’ official policy of support for Ukraine in exchange for political favors, with former national security adviser John Bolton instructing Hill to inform White House lawyers about backchannel efforts he compared to a “drug deal.” The official who replaced Hill in early September, Tim Morrison, formally held the Ukraine portfolio at the NSC. Testimony before House lawmakers has depicted Morrison, a Bolton acolyte, as similarly unnerved by Trump’s desire to withhold all assistance from Ukraine. Morrison also kept the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, abreast of developments inside the White House. But Patel’s involvement demonstrates that the president had at least some support for the scheme from within the NSC, and has given House impeachment investigators yet another name to add to their witness list—a name they are already familiar with, given Patel’s previous work in Congress to discredit the Russia investigation. Patel joined the National Security Council’s International Organizations and Alliances directorate in February and was promoted to a senior counterterrorism role around the same time as Trump’s fateful call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urged the newly elected leader to investigate Biden and “get to the bottom of” Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. The type of Ukraine work Patel was doing that Hill described would not be within his purview as a senior counterterrorism adviser, said Joshua Geltzer, who held Patel’s position early on in the Trump administration. “If true, this sort of activity seems wildly outside the scope of anything a counterterrorism senior director at NSC should be spending their time on,” Geltzer said. “What’s more, it politicizes a piece of the NSC staff that administrations of both parties have worked for decades to keep as apolitical as possible.” Patel’s name has been brought up in several recent depositions, according to another person with direct knowledge of the interviews, in connection with the shadow foreign policy campaign Trump allegedly directed in an effort to extract political favors from the newly elected Zelensky. On Tuesday, Taylor — who remains the acting ambassador in Kiev — gave lawmakers one of the most detailed timelines to date of how Trump and his allies sought to leverage American military and diplomatic might to coerce Zelensky into a coordinated campaign to damage Joe Biden, Trump’s chief political rival. Taylor testified that he was told that Trump wanted to withhold security assistance to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed to announce an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter served. more...

"I don’t recall any conversations with the president about that phone call," McConnell says.
By BURGESS EVERETT
President Donald Trump claimed earlier this month that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him that his phone call with the Ukrainian president was “the most innocent phone call that I’ve ever read.” But McConnell said Tuesday he’s never discussed the phone call with the president. “We’ve not had any conversations on that subject,” McConnell told reporters. Democrats are using the call to bolster their impeachment inquiry into Trump, claiming the president abused his power when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate political rival Joe Biden. McConnell has been one of the most outspoken opponents of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, arguing it is hindering passage of a new North American trade agreement and that the president and his team are not being afforded procedural protections. After reviewing the rough transcript of the call earlier this month, McConnell said it is “laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense” and that it’s “clear there is no quid pro quo that the Democrats were desperately praying for.” But Trump said on Oct. 3 that McConnell had gone further. “He put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he's read, and I spoke to him about it too. He read my phone call with the president of Ukraine. Mitch McConnell — he said, 'That was the most innocent phone call that I've read.' I mean, give me a break,” Trump told reporters. McConnell was asked Tuesday whether the president was lying when he made that statement. The GOP leader replied: “You’ll have to ask him. I don’t recall any conversations with the president about that phone call.” more...

DONALD TRUMP sparked outrage on Twitter after the US President was accused of swearing during an interview with two female astronauts on Friday.
By Bill McLoughlin
Speaking during a live call to the two astronauts, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch who were on the International Space Station, Trump rang to congratulate them for being the first two female astronauts to walk in space. Surrounded by officials and his daughter, Ivanka, Mr Trump said: “We’re thrilled to be speaking live with two brave American astronauts who are making history joining us during their spacewalk outside the International Space Station. “And this is the first time for a woman outside of the space station.” However, one of the astronauts corrected the President and stated they were not the first females to walk in space but rather that it was “the first time that there has been two women outside” at the same time. As Ms Meir corrected the President, Trump scratched his forehead with his middle finger, which some on Twitter labelled as him swearing. One user wrote: “He gives them the middle finger after they correct his erroneous remark. How presidential.” Another commented: “Was Trump giving her the finger as she corrected him?” Quickly, some users insisted that the President was swearing at whoever game him the incorrect information. One user wrote: “Even better, he immediately looked to his right, then scratched his head with his middle finger. “As if to say, you gave me wrong information.” more...

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The U.S. diplomat who called President Donald Trump’s demand for Ukraine to investigate a political rival in exchange for military aid “crazy” takes center stage Tuesday, as the House impeachment inquiry enters its fifth week. Other witnesses scheduled for closed-door depositions with the three committees – Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform – include budget and defense officials. Democrats leading the inquiry have said they want to learn more about how Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid while asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. House Republicans expect to vote Monday on a resolution censuring the leader of the inquiry, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. A Republican leader also proposed to change House rules so that any lawmaker could attend the sessions. Republicans have complained about limited access to the sessions. Monday: GOP calls for Schiff censure: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday there would be a vote Monday on a resolution to censure Schiff. The resolution is unlikely to be approved because Democrats hold a majority in the 435-member chamber, but it is co-sponsored by 165 Republicans. McCarthy said Schiff has lied repeatedly during the investigation of Trump. McCarthy argued that Schiff should be held to a higher standard as chairman of the Intelligence Committee because he is privy to information that rank-and-file members don’t receive. “He has tried to hide so many of the facts, and then when he was put in position to give the facts, he lied about them,” McCarthy said. “He should be held accountable just like every other member.” Despite GOP complaints, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly supported Schiff's leadership in the inquiry. more...

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump's taste for history is moving in new and awkwardly divergent directions as he faces the twin challenges of an impeachment inquiry and a 2020 re-election campaign. He's placing himself alongside the titans of US history one day and comparing himself to the victims of the country's collective sins the next. Trump has always spun his own narrative as either heroic or persecuted. Often both at the same time. Early in his presidency he pushed comparisons with his predecessor Andrew Jackson, who was an outsider in Washington and a populist. He was also a racist and anti-abolitionist. Of all the Presidents to put on a pedestal, Trump chose the one that his predecessor, the first black man to hold the job, was trying to take off the $20 bill. But now Trump has grander vision. He repeatedly put himself alongside George Washington before a Cabinet meeting Monday, and, later that day, compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, in an amazing interview with Fox News. He's eyeing his place in this history books just as he faces the Constitutional penalty of impeachment, the remedy the Founding Fathers offered to rebuke and remove a President. And in Trump's mind, that equals injustice, so hours after comparing himself to the greatest presidents, he said the effort to end his presidency is like a "lynching," an incorrect and supremely insensitive historical comparison. Mobs of racists lynched African-Americans in one of the darker periods of US history, part of an effort intimidate, dehumanize and keep power from those who didn't have it. Trump certainly has power now. The word lynching, given its history, should be repulsive to anyone. Impeachment is a disgusting word to Trump: But it's the word impeachment that repulses Trump, as he said on Fox News, when he told his friend Sean Hannity he should sue Democrats over their impeachment efforts. "The word impeachment is a dirty, disgusting word," Trump said. "It's supposed to be for high crimes and misdemeanors. I can't believe that this wouldn't be a lawsuit." His gripe is that he's being targeted without, as he puts it, "due process." But the Constitution and the courts are pretty clear that the House has leeway to impeach a President and it's the Senate's job to try him or her once they are impeached. That's the whole point of separation of powers. It was in this vein, frustrated about his press coverage, he comparing himself to Lincoln, complaining that Trump, not Lincoln, has gotten the worst press in history. "You know who was covered worse than me? They say Abraham Lincoln. I've heard the one person -- used to be five or six now it's down to one -- Honest Abe Lincoln. They say he got the worst press of anybody. I say I dispute it." He also later talked about how he's not ready to talk about the election campaign yet and he talked proudly of the day he was inaugurated in 2017 and he recalled standing where Lincoln and all the others stood in the White House. "When it's time to run, I'll run," he said, talking wistfully outside the White House about how soon his first term will end. "Can you believe we're getting down to 12 months. Can you believe it? When I first -- right in that corner of that beautiful building and I was in the first night with the first lady and I'm standing in an area where Abe Lincoln was and all of them were and that's the way it was and I'm standing there and I'm saying wow, four years, that's a long time." He doesn't see himself as one of the very few Presidents to face impeachment, but rather as one of the greats. The "phony" thing slipped into the Constitution: Comparing himself to George Washington, inaccurately, on Monday at Cabinet meeting, Trump bragged about giving his salary back to the country. "I give away my presidential salary. They say no other president has done it. I'm surprised, to be honest with you. They say George Washington may have been the only other president to do that. See whether or not Obama gave up his salary. See whether or not all of the other of your favorites, your other favorites gave up their salary. The answer is no." But while he wants to be compared to Washington, he's also frustrated with the Founding Fathers about emoluments. Before the Cabinet meeting he went after the Constitution's "phony" emoluments clause, suggesting even the Founding Fathers were against him. Emolument is Constitution-speak for a salary or benefit derived from public office. Trump is right that the Founding Fathers were against the idea of any President trading on the office of the United States presidency. But he's also, it turns out, right that they didn't really close the loop and spell out how to make sure it didn't happen -- which is how he's been able to remain in possession of his real estate holdings, and to keep his business dealings private, while in office. The Miami Herald reported Congressional Democrats plan to file plan to file a legal brief that alleges Trump's short-lived plan to hold a G7 summit with leaders of other developed democracies at his golf course in Doral, Florida, violates the emoluments clause. Democrats were already suing him for violating the foreign Emoluments Clause, arguing he must get the consent of Congress before accepting money from foreigners. more...

By Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump on Monday exhorted fellow Republicans to get tougher and fight for his presidency, saying the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives wants to impeach him “as quick as possible” over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival. Trump made his comments during a White House Cabinet meeting as Democrats sought to build public support for their fast-moving impeachment inquiry and the administration pressed its efforts to stonewall the probe. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a video and “fact sheet” that may give hints about the articles of impeachment - formal charges - Democrats may pursue against Republican Trump, accusing him of abuse of power, a “shakedown” involving Ukraine and a cover-up. Republicans in the House of Representatives tried to censure one of the inquiry’s leaders, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, but the motion was blocked by Democrats who control the chamber. Few Republican lawmakers have shown an inclination to remove Trump from office even as Democrats focus on his pushing a vulnerable foreign ally to interfere to his benefit in the November 2020 U.S. election by providing political dirt on Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to run against Trump. Senator Mitt Romney is one of the few Republicans who have sharply criticized Trump, who has denied wrongdoing. Other Republicans have expressed misgivings about Trump policies, including criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham of his withdrawal of U.S. troops here in northeastern Syria, which exposed U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters to a Turkish cross-border offensive. Approval of articles of impeachment in the House would prompt a trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office. “The Republicans have to get tougher and fight. We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party before the election,” Trump said. more...

Democrats said Taylor drew a "direct line" between the president's demand that Ukraine investigate his political rivals and distribution of U.S. military aid.
By Rebecca Shabad, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Alex Moe and Haley Talbot
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, offered a "disturbing" portrayal of President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings in closed-door testimony Tuesday to impeachment investigators, according to House Democrats. Democrats described Taylor’s testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimony and depositions but also drew a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid. "I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "It's a direct line." Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., said "without question" it was the most powerful testimony heard to date, because Taylor has "first-hand knowledge” of all the relevant conversations. Members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees questioned Taylor about text messages between him and two other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine. His interview is expected to last throughout Tuesday. Taylor’s opening statement, which NBC News has not viewed, was 15 pages, according to Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif. Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee. After departing the closed-door deposition a few hours in, freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that it was his "most disturbing day in the Congress so far." "Very troubling," Levin added, without elaborating further. "Today's testimony was explosive," Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said Wasserman Schultz also described the testimony as "one of the most" disturbing days she’s had in Congress. Republicans said little or played down Taylor’s testimony. "Nothing new here," Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said. Taylor’s testimony, multiple Democrats say, make it clear that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland needs to return to answer questions from the committee. Sondland refused to answer many questions in his testimony last week, according to multiple lawmakers who listened to his testimony. Sondland told Taylor, who had raised concerns about withholding military aide in exchange for a political campaign, in a text message on Sept. 9 after speaking to the president that the president was clear that there is “no quid pro quo.” As part of text messages between Taylor, Sondland, and then-special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Taylor expressed concern about why U.S. military assistance for Ukraine was held up by the White House. "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor texted Sondland on Sept. 9, according to text messages provided to Congress by Volker and released by the committees involved in the inquiry. Democrats have pointed to the text exchange, a critical piece of the impeachment investigation, as part of burgeoning body of proof that there was a quid pro quo involved between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump held up the military aid in exchange for Ukraine agreeing to conduct probes that would be politically advantageous to Trump. "He was very distressed," according to a source who witnessed firsthand Taylor’s experiences dealing with the Zelenskiy and Trump administrations between May and September of this year. more...

"All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching," Trump tweeted. "But we will WIN!"
By Allan Smith
President Donald Trump has called the House impeachment inquiry a "coup," a "witch hunt" and a "fraud," but he introduced a new phrase to describe the process on Tuesday: "a lynching." "So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights," Trump tweeted. "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!" The president's use of "lynching," which elicits a time when black Americans were murdered by extrajudicial white mobs, was the subject of immediate blowback. "You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING?" Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., tweeted. "What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet." "We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted. "But never should we use terms like 'lynching' here. The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and @realDonaldTrump should retract this immediately. May God help us to return to a better way." According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, more than 4,700 lynchings took place in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968. Of those who were lynched, more than 3,400 were black, though not all lynchings that took place were recorded, the NAACP noted. Many of the whites who were lynched, the organization adds, were killed for helping black Americans or being against lynching. Lawmakers continued to blast Trump's remarks through the morning. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. and the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted that Trump was "comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?" "Using this term draws up some of America’s darkest history — Trump is yet again a disgrace and massively offensive," wrote Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., in a Twitter post. "Nobody is above the law, including him. He has abused his power — and he’s been caught. Do not get caught up in his latest distraction tactic." "It’s beyond shameful to use the word 'lynching' to describe being held accountable for your actions," former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted. Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, echoed that sentiment Tuesday. Speaking on CNN, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said the president's early morning tweet was "another indication" of how "loose" he is "with his words." Clyburn, a top-ranking Democrat, said the president's comparison of impeachment to lynching offended his sense of history. more...

Eight years of financial records are being sought in a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women.
By Tom Winter and Dareh Gregorian
The Manhattan district attorney and attorneys for President Donald Trump have come to an agreement to pause the enforcement of a grand jury subpoena for Trump's tax returns until after an appeals court issues their opinion and perhaps until after the Supreme Court is asked to hear the case. In a letter filed Monday with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers from D.A. Cyrus Vance's office said they'll hold off on trying to enforce the subpoena against Trump's accounting firm until after the court of appeals publishes their opinion and after either one of the sides asks the Supreme Court to examine the case. The two sides are set to face off in oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit on Wednesday, following a lower court's ruling that the accounting firm, Mazars USA, had to turn the documents over to the D.A. Vance's office is seeking to review eight years of tax records as part of a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women who have alleged affairs with Trump before he became president. Trump has denied having the affairs. Trump's lawyers contend the D.A. isn't entitled to the returns and that a sitting president is not "subject to the criminal process" while in office. In a ruling earlier this month, a Manhattan federal court judge found that argument "repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values." Under the terms of the deal announced on Monday, Vance's office say they'd agree to postpone the enforcement of the subpoena until 10 days after the 2nd Circuit issues its opinion to give Trump's team time to appeal to the Supreme Court to hear the case in its current term or for Vance to appeal to the Supreme Court if the opinion isn't in their favor. more...

By MICHAEL CALDERONE
The White House said Tuesday it will not be renewing subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post, two papers the president frequently attacks as “fake” and which he suggested canceling the previous night in a TV appearance. Monday on Fox News’ “Hannity,” President Donald Trump called the Times “a fake newspaper” and said “we don’t even want it in the White House anymore.” “We’re going to probably terminate that and The Washington Post,” Trump said. “They’re fake.” Trump’s “terminate” remarks were interpreted by journalists on Twitter as meaning canceling paper subscriptions, rather than kicking reporters out of the White House. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed to POLITICO that he was talking about subscriptions, “which we won’t be renewing.”’ more...

This collection of pages is dedicated to Donald J. Trump's (aka Don the Con) time in the White House the ups, the downs, the lies, the chaos, the destruction, the devastation and the hatred created by Donald J. Trump the worst businessman in America. Or find out more about the Trump-Russia Affair, the Trump-Ukraine Affair or the Donald J. Trump Impeachment Inquiry.



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