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By Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday he was listening in on the controversial phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's leader, Volodymyr Zelensky – a conversation that sparked the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "I was on the phone call," Pompeo told reporters at a news conference in Rome. It marked the first time Pompeo has publicly disclosed his own knowledge of allegations that Trump pressured Zelensky for damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden. Pompeo had previously side-stepped questions about Trump's dealings with Zelensky and said he was not familiar with the details of a whistleblower complaint sparked by the July 25 call. The Trump-Zelensky call and the whistleblower complaint are now at the center of an impeachment inquiry examining whether Trump sought foreign interference in the 2020 election. That phone call prompted a whistleblower to file an anonymous complaint alleging that Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election," according to the complaint. At the news conference in Rome, Pompeo did not answer a question about whether Trump's remarks to Zelensky raised any red flags for him. Instead, he talked broadly about U.S. policy toward Ukraine, which he said has been "remarkably consistent" and focused on two goals: countering Russian aggression against the eastern European ally and helping Ukraine fight its endemic corruption. Pompeo's remarks came a day after he engaged in a high-stakes confrontation with House Democrats over their demands to depose five State Department employees as part of the impeachment inquiry. Democrats are seeking documents and interviews with Trump officials who could shed light on the State Department's role in connecting Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, with Ukrainian government officials.

By Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
It's been six days since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over a whistleblower complaint related to Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. After the impeachment probe was announced last week, the White House released a summary of the phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the whistleblower's complaint was declassified and made public. Phone call: What Trump and Zelensky said on July 25. Complaint: Key takeaways from the now-released whistleblower complaint. Timeline: The events that led up to Trump's fateful phone call Additional details around the inquiry and related storylines seem to develop each day; here's what you missed over the weekend: The whistleblower will speak to Congress. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that the still anonymous whistleblower has reached an agreement to testify before Congress "very soon." A key concern for Congress will be to ensure the whistleblower's identity can remain secret, Schiff said. No date or time has set for an appearance yet. The whistleblower's complaint said not only that Trump had "used the powers of his office" to ask Zelensky to investigate a leading contender for the 2020 presidential election, but that the White House had taken steps to conceal records of the call. Whistleblower's attorneys concerned about safety, anonymity. As the impeachment inquiry moves forward, one of the whistleblower's attorneys has sent a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire expressing concern about the safety of the whistleblower.

By Stephanie Baker and Sara Khojoyan
The website of the consulting firm that forged business contacts for Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine and Russia for more than a decade vanished suddenly after his communications were subpoenaed. Giuliani was dubbed “America’s Mayor” because of his New York City perch in the days after 9/11, but later he built a lucrative career in the private sector as a foreign security consultant. The genesis of many of those foreign connections was TriGlobal Strategic Ventures. The firm was set up in the U.S. in 2003 by a group of Russians and emigres from the former Soviet Union. Using the group’s network, Giuliani amassed security contracts around the globe, which continued even after he became the U.S. president’s unpaid lawyer last year. On Tuesday, the company’s website reverted to “TGSV – Coming Soon.” On Wednesday morning, after this article was published, the site was restored, though sometimes hard to reach. Giuliani’s contracts, and who paid for them, are now coming under heavy scrutiny by Congress as it tries to trace his shadow diplomatic work for President Donald Trump in Ukraine. House Democrats have demanded documents and communications among Giuliani, TriGlobal and its co-founder and president, Vitaly Pruss, going back to the beginning of the Trump presidency. Pruss has played a pivotal role in connecting Giuliani to the Ukrainians who make up the backbone of the House’s subpoena request. The Democrats are moving quickly with their impeachment inquiry of Trump over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival.

By Ben Mathis-Lilley
A few days short of three years ago, WikiLeaks released emails that had been stolen by Russian intelligence operatives from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta—a release that took attention away from the revelation of Donald Trump’s lewd comments during an Access Hollywood taping and may have contributed to Clinton’s surprise election loss. A day short of one year ago, Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi security forces after being tricked into entering the country’s consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote for the Washington Post and had children who were U.S. citizens, but other than issuing perfunctory statements of regret about his death Donald Trump did little to investigate or retaliate against the top Saudi officials who may been involved in ordering it. A day short of a week ago, we learned that Trump badgered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July about launching a bogus investigation into potential 2020 election opponent Joe Biden—and that, according to a whistleblower, the White House hid its transcript of the that conversation on a top-secret classified server not because it contained actual classified content but because it was potentially politically and legally incriminating. (If true, this would apparently violate classification laws.) Shortly after that, the Washington Post reported that Trump had told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. in 2017 that he had no problem with the hacking operation their country ran in 2016—and that “a memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly.” Finally, CNN reported that the administration has also taken unusual steps to limit access to accounts of Trump’s conversations with Vladimir Putin and with Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince (Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Mohammed bin Salman, respectively). The network says no transcript of the Saudi calls were made at all, though there were likely other top administration officials present while they were taking place, and that a transcript of “at least one” Trump-Putin call was “tightly restricted” and kept from officials who would ordinarily have seen it. (It’s not clear if any information about the Putin/Saudi calls was put on the top-secret server discussed by the whistleblower, though his complaint does say that he was told other documents had been put on it for the sole purpose of hiding “politically sensitive” information.”) Trump was also previously have known to have taken the unusual step of requiring a translator to hand over notes taken during a 2017 face-to-face meeting between Trump and Putin in Germany.

By Bart Jansen and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – After President Donald Trump said Monday he is trying to find out who reported concerns about his Ukraine phone call, whistleblower advocates said that person must be protected from retaliation and should be allowed to remain anonymous. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday that “we’re trying to find out ” who the whistleblower is. He reiterated that his July 25 call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” despite asking his counterpart to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. On Thursday, Trump was recorded telling a group that the whistleblower should be punished, noting that “spies and treason” in the past were handled “a little differently than we do now.” Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight, called Trump’s apparent desire to unmask the whistleblower “horrific and chilling.” “It’s the last thing a president should be doing if he really wanted to root out waste, fraud and abuse,” she said. Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA officer who is representing the whistleblower, tweeted Monday that the person “is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.” John Kostyack, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said “threats of reprisals by the president and his allies against the intelligence community whistleblower are contrary to our nation’s core ideal of freedom of speech.” “If we want to know about lawbreaking, we need to gather evidence from the people who have it," Kostyack said. "Any time we send a message that they are going to be punished, we are essentially discouraging people who have this evidence from stepping forward. We need them. We need whistleblowers."

By David Jackson and John Fritze, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – It's not your imagination: President Donald Trump is tweeting more. Amid calls for his impeachment and preparations for his reelection bid, Trump tweeted or retweeted nearly 800 times during an eventful September, about 100 posts beyond what he published in any previous month of his presidency, according to a USA TODAY analysis. His monthly tweet frequency has steadily risen for months. The president tweeted in his own words 500 times last month, twice his average monthly frequency in 2018. His September slew of tweets came in response to calls for his impeachment based on his efforts to encourage Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner. "Again, the President of Ukraine said there was NO (ZERO) PRESSURE PUT ON HIM BY ME. Case closed!" Trump posted Monday, the last day of his record-setting month. The president and the White House are scrambling to push back on the fast-moving Ukraine scandal that could upend the rest of his first term and redefine the political landscape for his 2020 reelection bid. Trump insisted that his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was appropriate. In more than 320 tweets and retweets since the story broke of a whistleblower report on Trump’s phone call in July with Zelensky, Trump used or repeated the word “treason” five times and the word "Ukraine" more than four dozen times. In two dozen instances, Trump raised the name of Biden or his son Hunter, who had business interests in Ukraine. Though he hasn't provided evidence, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Biden, as vice president, tried to stop an investigation into a Ukrainian energy company where his son Hunter served on the board of directors.

By Dan Mangan
The FBI on Friday released nearly 750 pages of documents from the bureau’s file on the the late Roy Cohn, the controversial, hyper-aggressive lawyer whose high-profile clients included President Donald Trump when Trump was a fledgling real estate mogul in New York City. “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump has been quoted lamenting when he was faced with political and legal pressures. Cohn was famous — and infamous — for his work for Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin in the 1950s investigating suspected infilitration by communists in U.S. government agencies, as well as his role prosecuting Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for stealing American atomic secrets. In the Rosenberg case, Cohn later admitted to conversations with the trial judge outside of the presence of the Rosenberg lawyers — a serious ethical breach by both Cohn and the judge. The Big Apple bon vivant Cohn also was an associate of the admitted Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone, another Trump ally. Stone currently is under indictment for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice, charges related to his alleged efforts to get WikiLeaks to release emails stolen from Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty in that case. The release of the FBI’s Cohn files comes on the heels of a new documentary that uses Trump’s quote “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” as its title. The vast majority of the FBI files include details of an investigation into Cohn for perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in connection with a grand jury probe of an alleged $50,000 bribe Cohn paid the then-chief assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan to keep several stock swindlers from being indicted in 1959. Cohn was found not guilty after a trial in that case in 1964. A number of the files were sent directly to J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s director at the time, and reflect the bureau’s painstaking efforts to acquire information about trips by Cohn to Las Vegas in 1959, and other evidence, in connection with the bribery case.

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused House Democrats of trying to “intimidate, bully, and treat improperly” State Department employees in their impeachment inquiry, his words rang hollow to more than a few staffers in Foggy Bottom. If anything, critics inside and outside the department say, Pompeo has done little to protect U.S. diplomats from a virtual war waged on them by President Donald Trump’s administration. His abrupt withdrawal earlier this year of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine — whom Trump disparaged in a call at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry – also has raised questions about Pompeo’s willingness to stand up for staffers facing political attacks. That ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch , is due to be deposed later this month by House staffers, according to a committee aide. Her case, meanwhile, has already rattled career government staffers. Many of them believe Yovanovitch, a veteran diplomat, is one of the most prominent victims of what they say is the contempt and paranoia with which Trump and his aides view the Foreign and Civil Service. “What the administration appears to want are political operatives who are loyal not to the United States but to the president in furthering his personal, political and financial goals,” said Philip Gordon, a former senior official in the Obama administration who co-authored a recent op-ed defending Yovanovitch. “That’s where it’s demoralizing for the career diplomats.” A current State Department staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his job, described the Pompeo letter as “the height of irony.” Pompeo’s rebuff of Hill Democrats follows a report that his department has ramped up a probe into emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 White House rival, in ways that are ensnaring some career diplomats. In addition, State’s inspector general is due to soon release a major report into alleged political retaliation against career staffers under Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson. The inspector general recently released a separate report that found an assistant secretary of state, Kevin Moley, acted abusively toward career staff. Pompeo, however, has not fired Moley.

“Volker was the easier guy to let go,” said one former State Department official. “But just because it is an easy choice doesn’t mean it is the right choice.”
By Erin Banco
When President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared on cable news programs last week, he deflected questions about his work in Ukraine and instead hammered home one talking point over and over again: The State Department knew he was trying to dig up dirt on 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Giuliani waved his phone on air, flashing text messages between himself and State Department representatives and saying it was the department that connected him to a close adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Giuliani’s on-air appearances threw the department into a tizzy, forcing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to try to put a lid on the crisis of confidence bubbling up under him, according to three senior U.S. officials. For Pompeo, solving the problem meant finding someone to blame—and there was only one individual who fit the mold, according to those same sources: former U.S. representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker. Volker resigned on Friday. But despite his resignation, the State Department has scrambled to correct course, according to these same officials, especially after news that Pompeo was on the now-infamous call between President Trump and Zelensky in July. Pompeo had previously denied knowing about it on national television. On top of that, three congressional committees subpoenaed Pompeo for documents related to Trump and Giuliani’s work in Ukraine and demanded that five current and former department officials appear for depositions. In response, Pompeo tried a time-tested Trump White House strategy: stonewalling Congress. The secretary said Tuesday that Congress was “bullying” career officials and suggested they would not appear for questioning. (The State Department’s inspector general is currently investigating members of Pompeo’s department for pushing career officials out of their posts for perceived political bias.) The State Department did not respond to a request for comment for this story. Pompeo’s plan appears to have backfired. Despite the secretary’s efforts to block several of his current and former officials from speaking to Congress, Volker is set to go to Capitol Hill on Thursday with the backing of a cadre of current and former diplomats. Some of those diplomats spoke to The Daily Beast and requested anonymity because they feared reprisals from Pompeo and other Trump administration officials. The inspector general recently released a separate report that found an assistant secretary of state, Kevin Moley, acted abusively toward career staff. Pompeo, however, has not fired Moley.

By Anthony Kuhn
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday — possibly from a submarine — just days ahead of the expected resumption of nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea after a seven-month hiatus. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says the missile was fired from waters off the peninsula's east coast, near the port city of Wonsan, and traveled about 280 miles to the east before landing in the Sea of Japan. South Korea's National Security Council standing committee held a meeting after the test and voiced its "strong concern." This would appear to be the most powerful weapon North Korea has tested since a February summit in Vietnam between President Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. That meeting ended without a denuclearization agreement. The test came just hours after North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui was quoted by state media as saying that working-level denuclearization talks would begin with a day of preparatory meetings on Friday, before getting underway on Saturday. Choe did not mention a possible venue for the talks. While Trump has downplayed Pyongyang's series of missile and rocket launches since then, Wednesday's test prompted speculation that talks could be delayed. North Korea has issued an ultimatum, threatening to abandon negotiations for good if the U.S. does not show a more flexible strategy and come to the table with concessions by year's end. Trump has indicated he is willing to adopt a "new method" in talks, and last month fired national security adviser John Bolton, the administration's chief opponent of partial denuclearization deals with both North Korea and Iran. The projectile fired Wednesday is believed to belong to North Korea's Pukkuksong, or North Star, class of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), believed first tested with solid fuel in August 2016. South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told a parliamentary committee that the Pukkuksong class is capable of flying distances up to about 910 miles, but this time the missile was launched in a 565-mile high arc, shortening its horizontal trajectory. Solid-fuel SLBMs can be launched more quickly than liquid-fueled missiles and the underwater launch platform makes them harder to detect and target. North Korea is not known to be able to launch them from a submarine yet, but has used submersible barges for tests. The Pukkuksong class of missiles is intended to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

A U.S. judge has temporarily blocked a California law aimed at forcing President Trump to release his personal income tax returns in order to appear on the 2020 primary ballot. U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. issued a written opinion Tuesday saying the law likely violates the U.S. Constitution. England said in September that he would temporarily block the law that requires candidates for president or governor to file copies of their personal income tax returns with the California secretary of state's office. England wrote that the state's concerns about seeing elected officials' tax returns are "legitimate and understandable." But he said the court's job is to rule on the law's constitutional merits, not whether it is good policy or makes political sense. A spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla said his office is reviewing the ruling.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat of California on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump should be put in "solitary confinement" because "impeachment is not good enough" after House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against the President last week amid the mounting Ukraine controversy. "I'm calling on the GOP to stop Trump's filthy talk of whistleblowers being spies & using mob language implying they should be killed," Waters tweeted. "Impeachment is not good enough for Trump. He needs to be imprisoned & placed in solitary confinement."
"But for now, impeachment is the imperative," she added. Waters' extreme rhetoric comes amid intense interest in a whistleblower complaint released this past week that alleged Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. A rough transcript released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden, Trump's potential 2020 political rival, and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden. In the days since the public release of the complaint, Trump has repeatedly attacked the anonymous whistleblower, asserting that he deserves to "meet my accuser." The Presiden said last week that whoever provided the whistleblower with information about his call with Zelensky is "close to a spy," and said that in the old days spies were dealt with differently. Waters tweeted later Tuesday that "Trump has corrupted so many members of his admin." "The lies, coverups, shaking down foreign countries & undermining our democracy will be recorded as one of the worst periods in the history of our country, all led by a dishonorable con man," she said. "Follow the facts, impeachment on the way."

By John Haltiwanger
Attorney General William Barr in April called President Donald Trump and urged him to tell his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to tone it down in TV appearances, according to the Wall Street Journal. The attorney general is the country's top law enforcement official and it's unusual for someone in his position to offer the president political or legal advice on such a personal level. Barr has repeatedly been accused by congressional Democrats and other critics of stepping outside of his purview and behaving more as the president's personal lawyer than the attorney general.  At the time of the phone call, Giuliani was being critical of former White House counsel Don McGahn over his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators in the probe on Russian election interference. McGahn's name appeared 529 times in the 448-page report on the special counsel's investigation. Mueller ultimately concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to show the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. And though Mueller declined to make a conclusion on whether the president committed obstruction of justice, he also did not exonerate Trump and outlined 11 instances of potential obstruction. In short, though the conclusions the special counsel offered are complicated, Mueller did not explicitly accuse Trump of a crime. Along these lines, Barr in the April phone call reportedly asked Trump why Giuliani was on TV attacking McGahn and drawing attention to himself rather than declaring victory and moving on from the Mueller probe.

CBS This Morning - There’s new information about President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president that triggered the House impeachment investigation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was listening to that phone call. This indicates he knew months ago that the president wanted Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden. Paula Reid reports.

Don’t get confused: This is about Trump co-opting the powers of the presidency for personal gain.
By Zack Beauchamp
It’s been roughly a week since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, and the underlying Ukraine scandal keeps spiraling in new directions. Recent reports about Trump and Attorney General William Barr’s contact with leaders in Australia, Italy, and the UK have created a sense of sprawling mess, making it seem like a tough-to-follow meta-scandal akin to the Trump-Russia morass. But despite the new developments — which involve Trump and Barr attempting to enlist foreign leaders’ help in investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia probe — the scandal remains straightforward. President Trump has turned American foreign policy into an extortion racket, abusing his powers to goad foreign leaders into persecuting his domestic rivals and improve his political standing. The proof for this in the case of Ukraine is irrefutable. The other news stories are supporting evidence that Trump has systematically twisted US foreign policy into a tool for furthering his 2020 reelection bid. The elegant simplicity of this narrative, the way in which it neatly encapsulates so many things wrong with the Trump presidency, is what gives these allegations the potential to bring this administration down. It is important not to let the seeming complexity and international breadth of what’s happening get in your way, in part because confusion and apathy are the White House’s best hope for containing the fallout from recent revelations. Don’t let the flurry of news confuse you: This a clear, straightforward, and politically devastating scandal. Eye on the ball: We know that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden on the basis of a debunked nonsense allegation during a July phone call — and then tried to cover it up. We know this because of a federal whistleblower complaint, citing testimony from a number of officials who heard the call and witnessed the White House’s attempts to hide it by moving the call transcript to a server designed for classified information. We know the whistleblower is correct because of a call summary released by the White House, as well as a White House statement admitting the call transcript was transferred to a classified server. These basic facts are all you really need to know to understand the Ukraine scandal: The president of the United States asking for “a favor” (his words) from a foreign leader — an intervention in the 2020 US election on his behalf. His administration then hid this fact by using powers of classification that were designed to protect state secrets, not politically damaging information. This is an abuse of power, and we know it happened.

By David Shortell, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department will produce 500 pages of memos documenting what witnesses told special counsel Robert Mueller's office and the FBI during their investigation next month. The documents, known as 302s, memorialize interviews conducted by the office and form the backbone of much of the Mueller report. CNN and BuzzFeed News had sued for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, and on Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington, DC, ordered the Justice Department to produce their first tranche of documents by November 1. The 500 pages could shed new light on what key government cooperators like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former White House counsel Don McGahn told federal investigators, but represents only a fraction of the underlying interview records that Mueller's office made: there were a total of 800 302 forms created by the special counsel's office, potentially numbering some 44,000 pages, Justice Department attorney Courtney Enlow said at a hearing Tuesday morning. Enlow said the FBI had already begun to process the records but said a host of potential exemptions that had to be considered before their release, including national security implications, certain privileges, and exposure to ongoing prosecutions and investigations. "We have been going through 302s line by line," Enlow said. "It's a very intensive process." The future production schedule for the remaining interview forms, as well as other records requested by the news outlets, is a matter of contention. Judge Reggie B. Walton lamented the Justice Department's suggested rate of 500 pages per month -- which Enlow said was routine for the FBI -- calculating that it would take years for all of the 302s to reach the public.

US attorney general raised review of Trump-Russia inquiry at meeting in London, say sources
By Patrick Wintour and Luke Harding
The US attorney general met UK intelligence agencies in the summer to discuss Britain potentially cooperating with Donald Trump’s administration on an inquiry examining the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia, according to sources. William Barr met British intelligence officials in London on 29 July at a meeting attended by intelligence agencies from the Five Eyes group. He was accompanied by the US homeland security department’s acting deputy secretary, David Pekoske. The meeting was formally about the risks and opportunities of new technologies but Barr also raised his inquiries into the FBI investigation. New reports reveal wider role for Barr and Pompeo in impeachment scandal. A Whitehall official said the issue of UK cooperation was discussed informally and only on the margins of the meeting. US officials have said Barr’s role is confined to ensuring that the official inquiry team members are introduced to the right people. It has been reported that Barr is pressing a range of foreign powers to cooperate with his effort to piece together the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s links with Russia. Barr’s critics claim he is seeking to discredit the FBI investigation by constructing a vast conspiracy theory that foreign powers were working to secure Hillary Clinton’s election in 2016. The inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, showed that Russia was attempting to swing the presidential election in favour of Trump.

By conor finnegan and katherine faulders
The State Department’s inspector general is expected to give an "urgent" briefing to staffers from several House and Senate committees on Wednesday afternoon about documents obtained from the department’s Office of the Legal Adviser related to the State Department and Ukraine, sources familiar with the planned briefing told ABC News. Details of the briefing, requested by Steve Linick, the inspector general at State, remain unknown. Linick is expected to meet with congressional staff in a secure location on Capitol Hill. The unusual nature and timing of the briefing – during a congressional recess – suggests it may be connected to a recent intelligence community whistleblower allegation which describes, in part, the State Department’s role in coordinating interactions between Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, and Ukrainian officials. The inspector general is the department's internal investigator and watchdog, and the office generally operates independently of the department's political leadership.

By Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis
WASHINGTON — The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day. The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next. Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. “The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button,” said Thomas D. Homan, who had served as Mr. Trump’s acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recalling that week in March. “The president wanted it to be fixed quickly.” Mr. Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, around-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him. Today, as Mr. Trump is surrounded by advisers less willing to stand up to him, his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active. “I have absolute power to shut down the border,” he said in an interview this summer with The New York Times.

The president has joked about shooting and throwing rocks at migrants to secure the border in the past.
By Antonia Blumberg
President Donald Trump in March reportedly suggested soldiers shoot migrants in the leg in order to prevent them from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new book, an excerpt of which The New York Times published on Tuesday. “Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate,” write Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis in their forthcoming book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration.”

There’s another whistleblower complaint. It’s about Trump’s tax returns.
By Catherine Rampell
Hey, have you heard about this whistleblower complaint? An unnamed civil servant is alleging serious interference in government business. If the allegations are true, they could be a game-changer. They might set in motion the release of lots of other secret documents showing that President Trump has abused his authority for his personal benefit. Wait, you thought I meant the whistleblower from the intelligence community? Nope. I’m talking about a completely different whistleblower, whose claims have gotten significantly less attention but could prove no less consequential. This whistleblower alleges a whole different category of impropriety: that someone has been secretly meddling with the Internal Revenue Service’s audit of the president. In defiance of a half-century norm, Trump has kept his tax returns secret. We don’t know exactly what he might be hiding. His bizarre behavior, though, suggests it’s really bad. Maybe these documents would reveal something embarrassing but not criminal (e.g., the relatively puny size of his fortune). Maybe they’d reveal that some of his financial dealings are legally dubious or even fraudulent, which would be consistent with past Trump-family tax behavior. Most significantly, they might reveal that Trump has been profiting off the presidency. Among the relevant conflict-of-interest questions that Trump’s taxes could answer: whom he gets money from, whom he owes money to (and on what terms) or how his 2017 tax overhaul enriched him personally. Not that you’d know it from the administration’s stonewalling, but Congress actually has unambiguous authority to get Trump’s returns. In fact, it has had the authority to get any federal tax return, no questions asked, for nearly a century. Under a 1924 law, Treasury “shall furnish” any tax document requested by the House Ways and Means or Senate Finance Committee chairs. That’s exactly what the House Ways and Means chairman, Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), did in the spring. The statute doesn’t require him to state any legislative purpose for his request, but he provided one anyway: He said that committee needed to make sure the IRS, which it oversees, is properly conducting its annual audit of the president and vice president, as the IRS manual has required post-Watergate.

Barr Went to Rome to Hear a Secret Tape from Joseph Mifsud, the Professor Who Helped Ignite the Russia Probe
By Mandel Ngan/Getty
ROME–When Attorney General William Barr showed up at the U.S. embassy’s Palazzo Margherita on Rome’s tony Via Veneto last week, he had two primary requests. He needed a conference room to meet high level Italian security agents where he could be sure no one was listening in. And he needed an extra chair for U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut who would be sitting at his right hand side. Barr was in Rome on an under-the-radar mission that was only planned a few days in advance. An official with the embassy confirmed to The Daily Beast that they had to scramble to accommodate Barr’s sudden arrival. He had been in Italy before, but not with such a clear motive. Barr and Durham are looking into the events that led to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and suddenly all roads were leading to Rome.

Grassley: Whistleblower Followed the Law and Should Be Heard
By John McCormack
Iowa Republican senator Chuck Grassley issued the following statement today: “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality. Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest—even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks. “No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country. “When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility. “As I said last week, inquiries that put impeachment first and facts last don’t weigh very credibly. Folks just ought to be responsible with their words.”

The House wants a trove of documents and communications from Sam Kislin, who helped Trump stave off bankruptcy and helped fund Giuliani’s political campaigns.
By Anna Nemtsova, Adam Rawnsley, Christopher Dickey
KYIV, Ukraine—Such is the swamp of corruption in Ukraine that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, in their many dealings with its businessmen, have been only one degree of separation from what’s generally called the Russian Mob. Or maybe less. And that’s not new. It goes back decades, to Trump’s years as a real-estate developer and Giuliani’s campaigns for mayor of New York City. Now that Trump is president, with Giuliani acting as his lawyer and shadow envoy to Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on Democratic rivals past and present—an effort leading to alleged abuse of the president’s office and impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives—those shady connections take on a whole new significance. One of the central figures in the Trump-Giuliani-Ukraine nexus is Sam Kislin, a businessman and philanthropist often identified with the Russian émigré community of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn—and with alleged mob connections. On Monday, the three House committees pursuing the impeachment inquiry sent a “request” to Kislin for a potentially vast trove of documents and communications with Trump, Giuliani, and scores of Ukrainians. Kislin was not immediately available for comment. Giuliani responded to a text message: "You are investigating people who may or may not have contributed to me 20 years ago." In fact, the contributions to his campaigns are a matter of public record. Giuliani suggested this line of inquiry is in itself some kind of coverup. "Why not focus on Biden’s shocking pay to play scheme, not how I uncovered it," he asked. "You should applaud my getting these serious allegations attention." The Biden allegations have not been substantiated by Ukrainian officials, although some in the Kislin circle would like to help make the case.

Pompeo says State Dept. officials won’t show up for scheduled impeachment depositions this week
By Karen DeYoung
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.” The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.” A spokesman for the committee had no immediate comment. The statements came as Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine investigation broadened with reports that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation. Before that report, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Pompeo had brushed off questions about the incident, saying last week that he had not yet read the transcript of the telephone call released by the White House, or the whistleblower complaint that it sparked. - What are they hiding? Makes you wonder how bad it is.

Judge to DOJ: Decide on charging Andrew McCabe by Nov. 15, or face release of FBI records
By Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky
A veteran federal judge on Monday warned U.S. prosecutors either to charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe or to drop their investigation into whether he lied to investigators about an unauthorized media disclosure, saying their indecision was undermining the credibility of the Justice Department. If a decision is not made, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton of Washington, D.C., said at a hearing that he would order the Justice Department to release internal FBI documents related to McCabe’s firing by Nov. 15. The extraordinary warning by Walton — a 2001 President George W. Bush appointee and former presiding judge of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — marked the latest turbulence in an investigation that McCabe’s defenders say is a move by the Trump administration to punish the president’s perceived political enemies.

The Iowa Republican is one of the few GOP senators defending the whistleblower.
As President Donald Trump and his allies attack the whistleblower that kicked off the House's impeachment inquiry, the still unidentified person gained a powerful ally on Tuesday: Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. The most senior GOP senator has fashioned a career on protecting whistleblowers during presidencies of both parties. And in the middle of one of the most tempestuous political storms in two decades, the seventh-term Iowan is sticking to his position even if it’s at odds with the president himself. In a Tuesday statement, Grassley moved to stave off attacks and the unmasking of the federal whistleblower who first divulged Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president. Trump and many of his allies in Congress and outside have been working to chip away at the whisleblower’s credibility, calling his complaint “hearsay” and playing down its validity. Grassley is, so far, having none of it. He said Tuesday that the fact that the individual’s knowledge of Trump’s phone call and the White House restricting records came secondhand should not invalidate his reporting. “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers,” Grassley said. “Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility.” Grassley also said that media reports on the identity of the whistleblower “don’t serve the public interest—even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks.” The New York Times and Washington Post both reported that the whistleblower is a CIA officer but did not identify him by name. For now, Grassley is something of a lonely voice in the party, though Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pushed back forcefully against Trump’s suggestion last week that the whistleblower’s sources are spies. The whistleblower claimed administration sources said Trump moved to “abuse his office for personal gain” when speaking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about former Vice President Joe Biden in July, then tried to restrict the conversation. The complaint and a transcript of the call are the basis for House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. On Tuesday at a short Senate session, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said he left it up to reporters on whether media should reveal more about the whistleblower and said much more should be learned about this person. “I’d assume if you were going to dig into this you’d want to know who the sources are that the whistleblower relied on. And I’d assume we’d want to know whom the whistleblower himself or herself is and if they’re credible,” Hawley said. Last week, a number of Republicans mounted attacks on the whistleblower as a secondhand source with no direct knowledge of the inner workings of the administration.

By John Harwood
The Republican defenses for President Donald Trump’s conduct on Ukraine simply don’t hold up. At first glance, that can be hard to discern. Trump, his aides and select allies in Congress have feverishly sought to redirect a whistleblower’s complaints toward Democratic adversaries. “It is the height of insanity for the Democrats to try and bogusly impeach President Trump for simply calling out this corruption,” a Republican National Committee spokesman asserted over the weekend. Yet even cursory scrutiny of evidence that has emerged so far knocks down assorted GOP arguments like shanties in a hurricane. Here’s a brief review: It was hearsay: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy notes that “the whistleblower wasn’t on the call” between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart. “Hearsay,” Sen. Lindsey Graham insists, cannot be a basis for impeachment. Both observations are irrelevant. In the partial transcript of the call released by the White House itself, Trump’s own words affirm the whistleblower’s account. That is direct evidence, not hearsay. “If they thought it would be exculpatory, they miscalculated badly,” GOP former Sen. Jeff Flake told me. Biased whistleblower: The president says the still-unidentified whistleblower harbors “known bias” against him. This observation, which the intelligence community inspector general called “arguable,” does not discredit the whistleblower’s allegations, which the inspector general found “credible.” If the whistleblower’s information is accurate, his motivation doesn’t matter. Trump’s own former homeland security advisor, Thomas Bossert, has described himself as “deeply disturbed” by the president’s behavior, too.

The Trump White House upgraded the security of the National Security Council’s top-secret codeword system in the spring of 2018, according to two former Trump White House officials familiar with the matter, as part of an effort to ferret out and deter leaks. The changes included a new log of who accessed specific documents in the NSC’s system — known as NICE or “NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment” — and was designed in part to prevent leaks of records of the president’s phone calls with foreign leaders and to find out the suspected leaker if transcripts did get disclosed, one of the former officials said. Prior to the upgrade, officials could only see who had uploaded or downloaded material to the system but usually not who accessed which documents. That highly classified system is being newly scrutinized in light of a whistleblower complaint alleging that national security officials used the system—meant for storing information classified at the highest level — to conceal politically embarrassing conversations, including a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 in which President Donald Trump urged Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. If hiding politically embarrassing material, rather than protecting national security secrets, was the motivation, experts and former officials said, it would be an abuse of the codeword system. While not necessarily an illegal act, it does run counter to an executive order signed by President Obama in 2009 that says information can’t be classified to “conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error” or “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency,” they said. POLITICO first reported last week that the White House began to use the codeword system to restrict the number of officials who had access to these transcripts following leaks in 2017. As part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, lawmakers are interested in learning who was involved in uploading the call records to that system—a stark departure from how the system is typically used and how memos of the president’s exchanges have traditionally been handled, former officials and experts said.

By John Wagner and
Colby Itkowitz
October 1 at 12:02 PM
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told House Democrats on Tuesday that State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not show up.
The refusal, in a letter to a Democratic committee chairman, described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.” Pompeo’s letter came as Trump, during a spate of morning tweets, questioned why he is not “entitled to interview & learn everything about” a whistleblower whose identity is protected by federal statute. Trump also again insisted that his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “PERFECT,” dismissing concerns at the core of the whistleblower’s complaint that Trump pressed for an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son. Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter. Trump lashed out at the whistleblower and at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) .

By Sinéad Baker
The intelligence community's watchdog poured cold water on a claim by President Donald Trump that the rules for whistleblower complaints were changed just before a an explosive accusation was lodged about his dealings with Ukraine. The complaint drew attention to a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which the official memo released by the White House showed Trump used to ask Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Details about the call led Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump. On Monday, Trump angrily tweeted the suggestion that the rules had been changed just before the complaint hit, seeming to imply that standards had been lowered in order to admit the case against him. Trump wrote: "WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!" He was echoing claims made by GOP senator Lindsey Graham, who said on Sunday: "I want to know why they changed the rules about whistleblowers not — the hearsay rule was changed just a short period of time before the complaint was filed." Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson also raised the possibility of the rules having changed on Monday, though with less certainty than Trump and Graham. In response, officials for Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Committee, released a four-page statement on Monday shooting down the theory. It did not name Trump or any of the senators. The statement said that having first-hand knowledge has never been a requirement, that the whistleblower used a process that has been in place for more than a year, and added that the whistleblower also does claim to have first-hand information. It said: "Although the form requests information about whether the Complainant possesses first-hand knowledge about the matter about which he or she is lodging the complaint, there is no such requirement set forth in the statute."

By David Knowles - Yahoo News
The first full week of the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump got underway with a rapid-fire succession of bombshell events that are likely to affect the course of the investigation. At 3:53 p.m. in Washington, the Democratic chairmen of three House committees subpoenaed Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for documents related to the president’s request for an investigation by Ukrainian officials into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings cited Giuliani’s cable news appearances, saying the former New York City mayor “admitted on national television that, while serving as the president’s personal attorney, he asked the government of Ukraine to target” Biden. “In addition to this stark admission, you stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications — indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme,” the chairmen wrote. Minutes later, at 4:04 p.m., the Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among those who listened in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is the basis of the House investigation. Last week, when Pompeo was interviewed by ABC News, he denied firsthand knowledge about what Trump and Zelensky discussed. The State Department had not disclosed that Pompeo had been on the call with Zelensky. Democrats are also seeking to learn if State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl was listening in as well. On Friday, Democrats subpoenaed Pompeo for documents related to the administration’s dealings with Ukraine. Thirteen minutes after the Wall Street Journal’s story on Pompeo was published, the New York Times reported that Trump sought additional foreign help with his political troubles. In a recent phone call with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Times reported, Trump sought information that could help discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. That investigation was kicked off, in part, by the disclosure that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had discussed the Russian efforts with an Australian diplomat in London. It wasn’t clear how Trump would benefit from reopening questions about the Mueller investigation, which ended in April with the publication of a report that Trump claimed, inaccurately, exonerated him completely. Just as with Trump’s call with Zelensky, the White House restricted access to transcripts of his call with Morrison.

CNN - Former national security adviser John Bolton criticized President Donald Trump's strategy on North Korea during his first speech since leaving the White House. CNN's Brian Todd reports.

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