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Donald J. Trump White House Page 63
By Elliot Hannon
It’s now abundantly clear that President Trump is actively deploying the resources of the U.S. government explicitly to bolster his chances of reelection in 2020. The recent whistleblower complaint revealed one part of the two-pronged strategy: leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine to compel the Ukrainian government to dredge up old allegations on political rival Joe Biden. The second aspect of the Trump vindication-through-vilification reelection strategy has led Trump and his allies to investigate the investigation by Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election to try to muddy the water sufficiently that Trump looks clean by comparison—or by confusion. That effort is also being propelled by the power vested in the highest offices of the U.S. government, including, of course, the presidency. Yet another example, the New York Times reports, is a recent phone call made by President Trump to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking the foreign leader to assist Attorney General Bill Barr in the investigation of the Mueller investigation. “The discussion with [Australia’s prime minister] shows the extent to which Trump views the attorney general as a crucial partner,” the Times notes. “[T]he president is using federal law enforcement powers to aid his political prospects, settle scores with his perceived ‘deep state’ enemies and show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt, partisan origins.” If there was any inkling that this was an investigation being done in good faith of the origins of the Mueller investigation, the fact that the White House has reportedly buried the transcript of the call under layers of frivolous national security classification similar to its efforts to hide the Ukraine call indicates the Trump inner circle knows what they’re doing here is outside the law, certainly the spirit of it, and certainly doesn’t look good.

By Kathryn Watson, Stefan Becket, Emily Tillett
Washington -- A series of rapid-fire developments brought the House impeachment inquiry into clearer focus Monday afternoon, with Democrats issuing new demands for evidence and new revelations about the circumstances of the president's call with Ukraine coming to light. Just before 4 p.m., three House committees announced they had subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, for documents related to his work on behalf of President Trump to persuade Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. The committees also requested material about Giuliani's work to secure Ukraine's cooperation into a Justice Department review of the origins of Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Shortly after the subpoena was announced, The Wall Street Journal reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between the president and the Ukrainian leader. CBS News has confirmed Pompeo was on the call. The New York Times reported Mr. Trump had called the prime minister of Australia to request assistance in the Justice Department review. The call came at the behest of Attorney General William Barr. A Justice Department official then told CBS News that Barr had asked Mr. Trump to reach out to a number of foreign officials to request their assistance in his review, which is being led by the U.S. attorney in Connecticut. A source familiar with the matter said Barr traveled to Italy as part of his effort, and The Washington Post reported he has also reached out to intelligence officials in the United Kingdom. In the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Mr. Trump repeatedly asked him to work with Barr to pursue a fringe conspiracy theory about the origins of the 2016 U.S. counterintelligence investigation that would became the Mueller probe. "I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it," Mr. Trump told Zelensky, according to the summary released by the White House.

By Molly Olmstead
It was another busy afternoon of news for Donald Trump’s associates caught up in the House’s impeachment inquiry. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listened in on the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that triggered the whistleblower complaint at the heart of the matter. House Democrats on Monday also announced they had subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for his records related to the call in which Trump asked the country’s president to “look into” his political rival Joe Biden. Pompeo and Giuliani are both strident defenders of the president, but Giuliani’s unwillingness to stick to careful talking points has placed the two men somewhat at odds. Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and attack dog who has repeatedly confirmed his own guilt in the Ukraine story while muddling the White House’s messaging, placed some of the blame for the scandal on the State Department. He insisted that he had “40 texts from the State Department asking me to do what I did.” He asserted repeatedly that when he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden, he was doing so for upright, officially sanctioned reasons. “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job,” Giuliani tweeted after one bizarre CNN interview. The news about Pompeo, at first glance, might make one believe that Giuliani’s seemingly out-of-control ramblings on cable news had more validity than it appeared. While it was known there were State Department officials on the call, Pompeo’s presence—and the fact that he had conveniently failed to mention it even when asked directly about the whistleblower complaint—seems to point to greater State Department involvement. But the transcript of the phone call still indicates that Giuliani’s directive came from Trump and not the State Department. Pompeo has not yet addressed the news, but last week, when asked about the whistleblower’s complaint, he said that he had not fully read it and defended the State Department’s actions as “consistent” with the administration’s goal of improving relations with Ukraine, according to the Journal. Pompeo received a subpoena last week and has until Oct. 4 to produce his records. Giuliani must turn over his documents by Oct. 15. Giuliani said on Friday that if he were subpoenaed, he would follow Trump’s advice as to whether he cooperates. On Monday, he tweeted that the subpoena was only signed by Democrats had “prejudged this case” and that he would give the subpoena “appropriate consideration.” Letters were also sent out on Monday to three of Giuliani’s associates.

Dems believe the special counsel's grand-jury materials could aid their Ukraine investigation, according to a court filing.
Lawyers for the House of Representatives revealed on Monday that they have reason to believe that the grand-jury redactions in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report show that President Donald Trump lied about his knowledge of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks. The attorneys made the stunning suggestion in a court filing as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bid for Mueller’s grand-jury materials, which have remained secret by law. “Not only could those materials demonstrate the president’s motives for obstructing the special counsel’s investigation, they also could reveal that Trump was aware of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks,” the lawyers wrote in the filing, which was in response to the Justice Department’s opposition to the disclosure of the grand-jury information. To back up their claim, the House’s legal team — led by House General Counsel Douglas Letter — cited a passage in Mueller’s report about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s testimony that he “recalled” Trump asking to be kept “updated” about WikiLeaks’ disclosures of Democratic National Committee emails. There is a grand-jury redaction in that passage, the lawyers note. “The text redacted ... and any underlying evidence to which it may point are critical to the committee’s investigation,” they wrote. “Those materials therefore have direct bearing on whether the president was untruthful, and further obstructed the special counsel’s investigation, when in providing written responses to the special counsel’s questions he denied being aware of any communications between his campaign and WikiLeaks,” they added. In a text message to POLITICO, Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney, said the suggestion that Trump lied to Mueller’s investigators is “absurd.”

A mystery whistleblower, a former comedian and the president of the United States. These are some of the main players in a story that is becoming ever more complex - and could see the president being impeached. 1) Donald Trump Who is he? The president of the United States of America. What's his role? Without him, there would be no story. Here's what we know about his involvement: Mr Trump himself has acknowledged that he personally blocked nearly $400m in military aid to Ukraine. At about the same time, he spoke by phone with Ukraine's new president. In the call, Mr Trump pushed Ukraine's president to investigate his leading domestic political rival, Joe Biden. A complaint by a whistleblower in the intelligence community, who spoke with White House sources about the call, alleges Mr Trump used "the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the US 2020 election" Mr Trump says the investigation is part of a "witch-hunt" against him, and he denies that military aid was withheld in order to put pressure on Ukraine. He has also demanded to know who gave information to the whistleblower, saying the source was "close to a spy".

New reports from the New York Times and Washington Post shed light on this effort.
By Andrew Prokop
Attorney General Bill Barr has been personally urging foreign governments to cooperate with an investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe during trips abroad — and President Donald Trump himself asked the prime minister of Australia to help Barr out, several news outlets reported Monday. Though this is being breathlessly mentioned in the same context as Trump’s request that the Ukrainian president investigate Joe Biden, it’s a somewhat different situation, one that raises its own concerns about whether Barr is politicizing the Justice Department to serve Trump’s electoral needs. What Trump is talking about here is a probe from US Attorney John Durham into the origins of the Russia interference investigation. The scope and the nature of Durham’s probe aren’t entirely clear, but Trump supporters have high hopes that this investigation will reveal some sort of malfeasance that will vindicate the president’s claims that he was the victim of a “witch hunt.” Trump himself has been calling for such a probe for years, and Barr launched it earlier this year. Now, the Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris, and Matt Zapotosky reported Monday that Barr has been personally involved in meeting foreign intelligence officials to try to get their help with Durham’s probe. This involved a trip to Italy just last week, as well as a previous trip there, and requests to both British and Australian officials. The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner, meanwhile, reported that Trump recently “pushed” Australia’s prime minister to help Barr with Durham’s investigation. Trump did so at Barr’s request, they report. And the AP reports that Trump has made other introductory phone calls for Barr in relation to the Durham probe. So unlike the Ukraine scandal that launched House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, this isn’t a free-range effort to get a foreign government to provide dirt on one of Trump’s 2020 opponents. But it is an investigation with political implications, one that the president and his attorney general have taken a keen interest in. And Trump’s requests may well have been perceived by these foreign officials as requests for “favors,” as with the Zelensky call. So to the extent that Trump and Barr’s demands have taken an inordinately high priority in American foreign policy, they may weigh on House Democrats’ minds going forward as they pursue their impeachment inquiry.

By Brett Samuels
The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) on Monday appeared to push back on allegations that the rules regarding whistleblower reports had been changed shortly before the complaint regarding President Trump's dealings with Ukraine was filed. The Office of the Inspector General issued a four-page news release in which it made clear that the whistleblower complaint focused on Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president was processed under procedures put in place in May 2018. The inspector general wrote that under the statute, a complainant is not required to have first-hand knowledge of the matter they are referring. However, the anonymous author of the Aug. 12 complaint wrote that they had both first-hand information and information from others about the subject. "The ICIG reviewed the information provided as well as other information gathered and determined that the complaint was both urgent and that it appeared credible," the Office of the Inspector General said in Monday's news release. "From the moment the ICIG received the whistleblower’s filing, the ICIG has worked to effectuate Congress’s intent, and the whistleblower’s intent, within the rule of law. The ICIG will continue in those efforts on behalf of all whistleblowers in the Intelligence Community." The clarification came as Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have claimed the rules for filing a complaint were changed just before the whistleblower on the Ukraine call came forward. "This is a sham as far as I am concerned," Graham said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "I want to know who told the whistleblower about the phone call. 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." Trump echoed the senator on Monday, asking in all caps "who changed the long standing whistleblower rules just before the submittal of the fake whistleblower report?"

He is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.
Donald Ayer - Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush
Buried behind our president’s endless stream of lies and malicious self-serving remarks are actions that far transcend any reasonable understanding of his legal authority. Donald Trump disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review. More blatant yet are his recent assertion of a right to accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments, and his declaration of a national emergency, when he himself said he “did not need to do this,” he just preferred to “do it much faster.” Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will. To the contrary, in securing his confirmation as attorney general, Barr successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected to hold the Trump administration to established legal rules. Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true. But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular his handling of the Mueller report, suggest something very different—that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president. On March 24, just two days after he received the Mueller report, Barr issued a terse four-page letter purporting to summarize the report’s major conclusions—and drawing one more that was critical—while offering virtually no facts. It was not until 25 days later, on April 18, that the redacted report itself appeared, after a stage-setting press conference by Barr the same morning. Its 448 pages raised severe doubts about the accuracy of some of Barr’s characterizations, and his ensuing testimony on Capitol Hill was an exercise in curmudgeonly obfuscation, as he held his ground while explaining almost nothing. Barr’s March 24 letter stated accurately that “the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” with regard to proven Russian efforts to hack computers and influence the election. He has since repeatedly misstated this conclusion as a finding of “no collusion,” which it is not. Mueller documented plenty of collusion between Russians and Trump’s agents, even as he failed to find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of a conspiracy (meaning agreement) to disrupt the election.

By Justine Coleman
Attorney General William Barr has requested assistance from foreign intelligence officials as part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) inquiry into U.S. intelligence agencies' probes of Russian interference in the 2016 election, the DOJ confirmed on Monday. In private meetings, Barr personally sought help from these officials for an inquiry President Trump wanted to discredit the U.S. intelligence community's handling of the Russian probe, The Washington Post reported. The Justice Department confirmed Barr's outreach, saying in a statement that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is leading the DOJ’s inquiry, is "gathering information from numerous sources including a number of foreign countries." "At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials," DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. The Justice Department sought to emphasize that the outreach is unrelated to Russian meddling itself. Barr and Durham reportedly met with senior Italian government officials, the Post reported. Sources told the paper that they asked for assistance in the inquiry and that this was not Barr's first in-person meeting with Italian intelligence officials. White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the department asked the president to make connections between it and foreign officers to move forward with the inquiry and that "he did so, that's all." "I’m old enough to remember when Democrats actually wanted to find out what happened in the 2016 election," Gidley said in a statement. "The Democrats clearly don't want the truth to come out anymore as it might hurt them politically, but this call relates to a DOJ inquiry publicly announced months ago to uncover exactly what happened." Following the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller's report earlier this summer, the White House has sought to pivot to investigating the origins of that probe, with Trump making unsubstantiated allegations that the Obama administration spied on his campaign. Trump's supporters have long called for an investigation into the beginnings of the U.S. intelligence community's investigation into Russian interference. The president and his administration have continued to speak out against those who investigated his connections with Russia, saying they should be charged. The Post report came hours after another news story that Barr also asked the president to request that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison look into the origins of the Mueller investigation. The reports come amid the ongoing fallout over the president's controversial call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked him to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 White House candidate, as well as Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

By Holmes Lybrand and Zachary Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory suggesting the rules for whistleblowing had recently changed in order to accommodate the recent whistleblower complaint against him; specifically, so that someone with secondhand knowledge could now submit these complaints. "WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!" Trump tweeted. Monday's tweet was at least Trump's second reference to the theory, which apparently was initially propagated by the right-wing website The Federalist on September 27. The article claims that "between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings." Facts First: This is false. The Federalist reading of the form is inaccurate and although the submission form that whistleblowers from the intelligence community fill out was revised in August 2019, the revision did not change the rules on who can submit a whistleblower complaint. Even so, pro-Trump pundits and lawmakers spread the theory on Twitter and TV over the weekend as evidence of some nefarious plot against Trump. Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio told Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" that whistleblowers no longer need firsthand knowledge because "they changed the form." Tapper pushed back, fact-checking Jordan. "Experts say it has never been true that you need to have firsthand knowledge to be a whistleblower," Tapper said. In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, the inspector general of the intelligence community (ICIG) said that the form submitted by the whistleblower on August 12, 2019, was the same one the ICIG has had in place since May 24, 2018. The statement reiterated the fact that having firsthand knowledge of the event has never been required in order to submit a whistleblower complaint. "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." "In fact," the ICIG's statement continues, "by law the Complainant...need not possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern. The ICIG cannot add conditions to the filing of an urgent concern that do not exist in law."

By Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris and Matt Zapotosky
Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter. Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries. But the high level Justice Department focus on intelligence operatives’ conduct will likely cheer Trump and other conservatives for whom “investigate the investigators” has become a rallying cry. The direct involvement of the nation’s top law enforcement official shows the priority Barr places on the investigation being conducted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who has been assigned the sensitive task of reviewing U.S. intelligence work surrounding the 2016 election and its aftermath. The attorney general’s active role also underscores the degree to which a nearly three-year old election still consumes significant resources and attention inside the federal government. Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm Monday that the head of the Justice Department was taking such a direct role in re-examining what they view as conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of misconduct. Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met senior Italian government officials and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham, according to one person familiar with the matter. It was not Barr’s first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials, the person said. The Trump administration has made similar requests of Australia, these people said.

By alexander mallin and jonathan karl
As a part of his review of the origins of the investigation into members of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, Attorney General William Barr asked President Trump on several occasions to initiate introductions between him and the leaders of Australia and Italy, among other countries, a Department of Justice official told ABC News on Monday. The official confirmed to ABC News that Barr, while on a trip to Italy last week, met with senior Italian intelligence officials in the government along with U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr has tasked with overseeing the review. According to public readouts released by the White House, Trump last spoke to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sep. 5. “As the Department of Justice has previously announced, a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the U.S. counterintelligence probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement. "At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” she said. The official would not say what other countries Barr has asked for the president's assistance in initiating contact with, but downplayed the requests as common and disputed any notion that Barr would want the president to pressure foreign leaders. But it's not clear whether there's any other example of the country's lead law enforcement official traveling overseas to personally investigate an issue that the president believes could benefit him politically.

By Evan Perez and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump pressed Australia's Prime Minister during a recent phone call to help Attorney General William Barr with his review of the origins of the Russia probe, according to an official familiar with the call. The call happened with Barr's knowledge and at his suggestion, says the official. The New York Times first reported this call. The official notes this is seeking assistance with the review, which is being conducted by US Attorney John Durham, and so is seen as appropriate and completely different from the Ukraine matter. Justice Department officials say that it is appropriate for the attorney general and the President to seek help from foreign countries with an investigation of 2016 election interference. Durham is examining what intelligence came from other countries that propelled the investigation that eventually became the Trump-Russia probe. An official briefed on the matter said the attorney general has asked the President to request the help of several countries, including Australia, with the Durham review. Officials believe that requesting foreign help with a retrospective look at 2016 election interference differs vastly from Trump's request made in the Ukraine call transcript released last week. A rough transcript released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's potential 2020 political rival, and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.

By David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday he is still trying to learn the identity of the whistleblower whose allegations over Ukraine and Joe Biden have triggered an impeachment inquiry – a comment that some critics regarded as a presidential threat against the informer. "We're trying to find out about a whistleblower," Trump told reporters after an Oval Office swearing-in ceremony for new Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. Trump again attacked Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accusing him of "making up" words about his phone call with the president of Ukraine – but Trump did not again accuse Schiff of "treason" as he did earlier in the day. After Trump spoke, Andrew Bakaj, the attorney for the unidentified whistleblower, tweeted that his client "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." Critics said Trump's comments, as well as repeated attacks on the whistleblower's motives, amount to a threat of reprisal against someone seeking to expose government wrongdoing. "We have a centuries-old bipartisan consensus that those with evidence of wrongdoing should be encouraged to step forward, not intimidated from doing so," said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, a nonprofit group that promotes whistleblower protection laws. Kostyack urged lawmakers from both parties "to affirm that this whistleblower deserves the highest level of protection from retaliation, including the ability to maintain anonymity.” In his brief Oval Office comments, Trump claimed his accuser misrepresented his July 25 telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. - This should scare all Americans that a sitting president is using the power of the presidency to retaliate against a whistleblower because the president was caught possibly committing a crime(s). For the people protecting and supporting Trump over America, what if this were Obama would you let him get away with that, no you would not.

A former member of the Ukrainian parliament and adviser to Ukraine's president told CBS News it was a "well-known fact" there that President Donald Trump wanted "compromising" information on former Vice President Joe Biden. Serhiy Leshchenko added that Ukraine's president knew that U.S. aid to his country was at stake. "I am sure that issue of Biden was forever on the table between Zelensky and Trump," said Leshchenko. As a former lawmaker and adviser to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, Leschenko believes it was clear that President Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. "Of course, he wanted political privileges, favors, for his re-election from Ukraine," he said. "In return for military aid?" asked correspondent Roxana Saberi. "I would say yes," Leshchenko replied. "Do you have any evidence of that?" asked Saberi. "It was, like, well-known fact in Ukraine," Leshchenko replied. In 2016, Leshchenko was at the center of exposing Paul Manafort's dealings in Ukraine. He said he recused himself from working with Zelensky in May this year, after it became clear that could threaten relations with President Trump's administration. Ukraine relies heavily on U.S. aid in its war against Russia. But in July, Mr. Trump ordered nearly $400 million of that support withheld. Days later, in a phone call, he asked Ukraine's president to investigate the Bidens. According to the whistleblower's complaint, Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made or attempted contact with at least seven Ukrainian officials, including then-prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko. Lutsenko told the BBC that Giuliani asked him to investigate the Bidens. BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher asked Lutsenko, "Have you got any evidence that Joe Biden acted in any way which supported Hunter Biden's company, Burisma?" "It is not my jurisdiction," he replied. "Under Ukrainian law, you've got nothing?" "Nothing, certainly," Lutsenko said. But Serhiy Leshchenko says the two men were circumventing official channels. He also told Saberi that Giuliani wanted to meet President-elect Zelensky before his inauguration in April, but that Zelensky said no, because he realized that "everything behind the story is toxic."

The unusual alliance between Trump and Pence gained a new layer of intrigue with the House's impeachment inquiry — and with an offhand remark from the president.
As Donald Trump stares down impeachment, allies of Vice President Mike Pence claim he is as calm and poised as can be. The vice president’s allies say he has proved his fealty over and over again, reciting the countless moments when Pence has locked arms with his unruly boss instead of joining other Republicans who turned away. Often in the darkest moments of Trump’s presidency — amid controversies stemming from his brazen actions or divisive rhetoric — Pence has declined to show daylight between them. Sometimes, Trump’s smooth-talking sidekick has even doubled down with him. Trump thrust his relationship with the vice president back into the spotlight last week, when the embattled president nudged reporters during a United Nations news conference to “ask for VP Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple conversations also” with Ukrainian officials. The out-of-the-blue reference triggered questions about the vice president’s role in the latest mess and the unusual relationship between the pair of leaders. If Trump falls alone, Pence becomes the 46th president of the United States — a development many mainstream Republicans would prefer. If Trump and Pence go down together or in quick succession, it’s President Nancy Pelosi — a prospect that would not be lost on Senate Republicans voting on whether to oust their party’s leaders. Trump’s offhand remark was a stark reminder of the eternal risks to the people in his orbit, particularly as the notoriously unpredictable president navigates the delicate politics of impeachment. Responding to a question about the president’s U.N. news conference, Tom LoBianco, author of the new Pence book “Piety and Power,” asked, “You mean when he gutted Pence on live TV?”

Ukrainians have been having doubts about Western commitment to Ukrainian democracy; the recent scandal confirmed them.
by Leonid Ragozinby Leonid Ragozin
For days now international media has been dominated by a political earthquake triggered by a July phone call between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It has not only wreaked havoc on the political scene in both countries but it is also likely to undermine the very idea of Western leadership in Eastern Europe. President Trump is the most obvious casualty of this calamity, which is entirely of his very own making. His attempt to pressure the leader of a country currently in conflict with Russia in order to acquire compromising material on a political rival has outraged even members of his own party. It has also given ammunition to the opposition, the Democratic Party, to start an impeachment process against him. It would seem that Joe Biden, potentially Trump's opponent in the upcoming 2020 elections, might be the main beneficiary of his self-inflicted misery, but he may not emerge unscathed from the scandal either. The media spotlight has shifted back to the Ukrainian stint of his son, Hunter Biden. Burisma, the company Biden Jr worked for, belongs to businessman/politician Mykola Zlochevsky, who occupied various posts in the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, ousted by the Maidan revolution of 2013-2014. With no experience in the region, he got his post at the time when Zlochevsky was fighting off a court case in the UK touted as a part of the British effort to prevent Yanukovych's entourage from laundering embezzled cash in the West. Hunter's appointment on the board did feel a lot like a dogged oligarch buying himself an expensive political cover in the West. Perhaps the least affected of the three main characters in the story is Zelensky. Yes, there are several embarrassing moments in the conversation, which the president of Ukraine certainly didn't expect to be published. That includes his criticism of Germany and France for their lack of support to Ukraine. These and a few other statements in the transcript are unlikely to affect his sky-high rating at home, although they might come back to haunt him in future. Apart from casting a shadow on Zelensky's presidency in its first months, the scandal has disturbed Ukrainian politics in another, much more dramatic way. Ukrainians often complain about "Ukraine fatigue" in the West after five years of conflict with Russia and no resolution reached. That now there is renewed interest in Ukraine in Western media is hardly a welcome development given the circumstances.

By Alexandra Hutzler
President Donald Trump's recent tweet quoting a longtime evangelical pastor who warned of a "Civil War" if Democrats seriously pursue removing him from office could actually be grounds for impeachment, one Harvard Law professor said. "If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal," Trump tweeted on Sunday night. The tweet was a quote from Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist pastor who gave the comment during an appearance on Fox & Friends Weekend. Trump added his own parenthetical aside to Jeffress' quote, in which the president asserted that Congress won't be successful in their impeachment efforts. The president's tweet was immediately met with backlash, and Harvard Law professor John Coates argued that the social media post itself is an "independent basis" for lawmakers to remove him from the White House. "This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment - a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power," Coates wrote on Twitter on Monday.

By James Walker
A former chairman of the Republican Party has claimed Donald Trump is "wetting his pants" after the president launched a Twitter tirade against the whistleblower whose complaint set off the Trump-Ukraine scandal. Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman and now a political analyst for MSNBC, said yesterday that the tweets showed President Trump was "wetting his pants a little bit" and "trying to get control of something he's losing a grip on." He also argued that the Trump administration started the Ukraine scandal—which prompted the Democrat-led House's decision to start an impeachment inquiry into the president—by "putting out a document they thought was innocuous and unimportant." Steele made the remarks on MSNBC after host Ayman Mohyeldin asked him about comments Trump made about the whistleblower on Sunday in an attempt to discredit them. In a series of tweets, the president said he deserved to meet his accuser and claimed they "represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way." "I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the 'Whistleblower.' Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!" Trump said. Speaking about the tweets on MSNBC, Steele said: "That's the president wetting his pants a little bit. This has him nervous. There's real concern here. "The conflation of a legal, criminal proceeding where under our constitution you have a right to confront your accuser, that happens in a court room, not during an investigation."

Lies, nonsense, and a threat to arrest his opponents in Congress.
By Matthew Yglesias
President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, rarely a scene of what you’d call appropriate content, has kicked things up a notch ever since the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry into his apparent effort to hold up military aid to Ukraine in search of dirt on political rival Joe Biden. Over the past several days, the self-proclaimed “stable genius” has been on a nonstop Twitter binge, lying about what’s going on in Congress, lying about what happened in Ukraine, and escalating his inappropriate conduct by threatening the country with a civil war and threatening his enemies in Congress with criminal charges. He also posted a rapid-fire set of Fox News clips, complaining furiously about a brief moment of Fox content that displeased him. The Ukraine scandal is about one specific area of policy, but it’s a window into the inherent problem with having a president in office who so routinely expresses inappropriate ideas. And the scandal breaking through is merely causing him to express more and more of them. Trump retweeted a bot that inserts “shark” into Trump tweets: The Ukraine story is damaging to Trump not necessarily because it’s the worst thing he’s done as president. But the assistance to Ukraine that Trump imperiled is something many Republicans favor, and the facts of the case are so plain that it has slightly punctured the bubble of right-wing alternative facts that normally shields the president from criticism. That makes Trump particularly vulnerable to mildly critical commentary like what Fox News host Ed Henry offered on Sunday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends. Fortunately for Trump, radio host Mark Levin was also on the air ready to go to bat with arguments like, “What crime was violated? It’s not illegal. The question is whether Biden did something illegal. The president didn’t do anything illegal.” Trump was so incensed by Henry that he or a staffer went to search Twitter for any random person criticizing Henry or praising Levin, including a number of “egg” accounts with no avatars, real names, or reputation, and few followers.

By Rebecca Klar
The Kremlin on Monday reportedly said that U.S. lawmakers would need Russian consent to publish transcripts of calls between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Congress is looking to get ahold of the calls between Trump and Putin after a whistleblower alleged the White House directed officials to put a call between Trump and foreign leaders on a highly classified server. In response to Schiff’s comments, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Washington would need Russia’s approval for such a move, according to Reuters. “Of course their publication is to some extent only possible by mutual agreement of the parties. This is a certain diplomatic practice,” Peskov said. “To be more specific, perhaps, diplomatic practice, in general, does not envisage their publication. If there are some signals from the Americans, then we will discuss [them],” he added. The House launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump after a whistleblower complaint alleged Trump solicited possible interference from Ukraine in the 2020 election. The White House released a memo summarizing a portion of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showing Trump asked the foreign leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 candidate. A whistleblower alleges the White House directed officials to put a transcript of the call on a highly classified server.

By Christina Zhao
Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger condemned President Donald Trump on Sunday for quoting Pastor Robert Jeffress' warning that impeachment might cause a "Civil War-like" fracture in the U.S. "If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.' Pastor Robert Jeffress,@FoxNews," the president wrote on Sunday evening in a series of tweets. In response, Kinzinger tweeted: "I have visited nations ravaged by civil war.@realDonaldTrump. I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant." The president's tweet came shortly after Jeffress' appearance on Fox News, where he spoke about the impeachment inquiry into Trump announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday. Jeffress, a prominent evangelical pastor of a Texas megachurch who's also a vocal supporter of Trump, has been accused on numerous occasions of making controversial and offensive remarks. In March, he said Christian followers of Trump have "deeper convictions" than other devotees during an interview on Fox News. "Even though the evangelical number has dropped as a whole, the number of evangelicals turning out at the ballot box is greater than other groups, and it's because evangelicals have deeper convictions," Jeffress said. "They believe in absolute moral and spiritual truth, and they tend to vote those convictions at the ballot box." In August, Jeffress condemned a church denomination for sheltering migrants and fighting deportations as the White House cracked down on illegal immigration. "The church has no business in doing that. And look, the Bible is very clear about this," Jeffress said. "In Romans 13, Paul says, 'Government is established by God. To resist government is to resist God himself.'" According to a CBS News poll, released on Sunday morning, a majority of Americans say they support the Democrat-led House's recently-announced impeachment inquiry, with 55 percent of respondents approving of the impeachment inquiry and 45 percent disapproving of the move.

By Chantal Da Silva
President Donald Trump escalated his attacks against the anonymous whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine call controversy that could soon see the U.S. leader impeached. The president's comments came on Sunday, just a day after the whistleblower's lawyer warned that the president's earlier remarks were already putting their client's "personal safety" at risk. In a letter addressed to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of National Intelligence, the anonymous whistleblower's lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, warned on Saturday that Trump's public outrage over the whistleblower's report had already created "serious concerns for our client's personal safety." "The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client's identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm's way," Bakaj said of the whistleblower, who flagged concerns around Trump pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son in a July phone call. Of particular alarm, the lawyer said, were Trump's comments on Thursday, demanding to know "who's the person that gave the Whistleblower the information, because that's close to a spy." "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right?" Trump said at the time. "We used to handle them a little differently than we do now." "The fact that the President's statement was directed to 'the person that gave the Whistleblower the information' does nothing to assuage our concerns for our client's safety," Bakaj said in the letter. "Moreover, certain individuals have issued a $50,000 'bounty' for 'any information' relating to our client's identity," he said. "The purpose of this letter is to formally notify you of serious concerns we have regarding our client's personal safety," Bakaj said, before suggesting that the National Intelligence office had already offered support "to activate appropriate resources to ensure [the whistleblower's] safety."

Ousted national security adviser John Bolton put on display the deep schisms between himself and President Donald Trump on North Korea, publicly breaking with his former boss on Monday about how best to get Kim Jong Un’s regime to wind down its nuclear weapons program. At one of his first public appearances since his abrupt and rocky departure from the White House, Bolton did not name the president but delivered an unmistakable airing of grievances. Specifically, he threw cold water on the president’s assertion that North Korea is ready to make a deal and gave his “unvarnished” view that Kim would not voluntarily give up his nuclear weapons under current conditions. Bolton told attendees at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event that Kim "has not made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons.” In fact, he argued, “the strategic decision Kim Jong Un is operating through is that he will do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further.” Bolton, who was ousted earlier this month after a year and a half as Trump’s top security aide in part because of his hawkishness, began his remarks by joking that North Korea’s leadership was likely “delighted” by the fact he was there in a private capacity. “Perhaps they’ll be a little less delighted now that I can speak in unvarnished terms about the grave and growing threat that the North Korean nuclear weapons program poses to international peace and security," he added. Bolton alluded to several of the policy disagreements he had with his former boss, most notably that Kim was not ready to give up his nuclear weapons program, as Trump has frequently insisted after a handful of meetings with the reclusive leader. Trump has so far held two summits with Kim, and has teased the possibility of a third before next year’s election. Neither meeting has yielded any concrete progress toward a deal, with North Korea suggesting that it would like to see relief from sanctions before taking any steps to denuclearize.

By David Jackson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump opened another week of impeachment turmoil with slashing attacks on his accusers – including a suggestion that a leading investigator be arrested for "treason." Claiming that Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, falsely described his phone call with the president of of Ukraine, Trump tweeted Monday: "Arrest for Treason?" Schiff did not immediately respond, but others called it an outrageous comment. "Out. Of. Control," tweeted Republican strategist Mike Murphy. "Treason? A POTUS saying this? #UnfitAndUnstable." Alleged "treason" was part of a series of tweets on Sunday night and Monday morning in which Trump raised the specter of "civil war," said some of his own aides may be "SPYING" on him, and accused the Democrats of trying to "destabilize" the country a year ahead of his 2020 re-election. "They are lying & cheating like never before in our Country’s history in order to destabilize the United States of America & it’s upcoming 2020 Election," Trump said in one of many harsh missives. "If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,'" Trump quoted pastor Robert Jeffress as saying. That tweet drew criticism from Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger. "I have visited nations ravaged by civil war.@realDonaldTrump," tweeted Kinzinger, a Republican House member from Illinois. "I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant."

Michael J. Stern, Opinion columnist
Trump needs the protection that comes with staying president. But Ukraine has accomplished what Robert Mueller could not: America is paying attention. The thing about being president is that your every move, past and present, is subject to microscopic examination. That can be a problem if your closet is filled with skeletons …or decomposing bodies. In Donald Trump’s case, his skeletons often include legal jeopardy. The most recent example of his legal exposure is the whistleblower complaint that detailed Trump’s efforts to persuade the president of Ukraine to produce dirt on political rival Joe Biden, possibly in exchange for the release of U.S. financial aid. Trump’s solicitation could well be a violation of federal campaign contribution laws. While the whistleblower allegations are at the center of the newly official congressional impeachment inquiry, the president’s latest legal breach is preceded by a long line of similar activities. Who could forget the New York U.S. Attorney’s “porngate” indictment in which Trump is named as an unindicted co-conspirator, “Individual 1,” alongside his former personal attorney? Or the multiple examples of criminal obstruction set forth in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report? Trump can be indicted for past crimes While it appears to many Americans that Trump is above the law, this status is only conferred on him as long as he remains president. An Office of Legal Counsel opinion forbids the indictment of a sitting president but offers no protection to a former president. Once he leaves office, Trump can be indicted for past crimes, including those he committed as president. At that point, his only legal protection will be the statute of limitations — the time limit for charging a crime. The federal statute of limitations for most crimes, including campaign finance and obstruction violations, is five years. Any crimes Trump might have committed early in his campaign will not be chargeable if he leaves office in 2021. But paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, firing FBI Director James Comey, and ordering the White House counsel to fire Mueller are all fair game for indictment if Trump does not win a second term. This sobering recognition on Trump’s part could be fueling what appears to be his escalating desperation to ensure that he secures another four years in the White House. He'll burn the house down to win 2020: The cards, as Trump has played them, leave him in a predicament. If he loses the 2020 election, he will be red meat for a Democratic president and attorney general eager to hold him accountable for his flagrant abuses of power. To avoid being fed to the Democrats, Trump’s best bet is to follow the tried-and-true playbook that secured his 2016 win. This means illegally soliciting foreign assistance in the upcoming election.

Rep. Adam Schiff said the House Intelligence Committee wants to know more about about Trump’s calls with Putin.
By Catherine Kim
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) would like to obtain more of President Donald Trump’s phone calls with world leaders — especially those with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although that’s the last thing the Kremlin wants. The White House has released a record of a phone call Trump held with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to rebut a whistleblower’s allegations Trump asked a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent. The White House’s record of that call did contain Trump asking Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and the whistleblower claims the administration placed its notes from the call in a system meant only for highly classified material in order to keep the request secret. The whistleblower’s allegations ultimately led to calls for an impeachment inquiry, and Schiff is concerned Trump’s conversation with Zelensky may just be the tip of the iceberg. On NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Schiff, who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is leading investigations into the Ukraine matter, said he wanted to better understand whether the White House was trying to hide any more calls with foreign leader — and if so, why. “The paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether, in the conversations with other world leaders and, in particular, with Putin, that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign,” Schiff said. “If those conversations with Putin or with other world leaders are sequestered in that same electronic file that is meant for covert action, not meant for this, if there’s an effort to hide those and cover those up, yes, we’re determined to find out,” he added. Over the past three years, Trump has had 11 phone calls with Putin, according to The New York Times. The content of those conversations has mostly been kept in secret — and the Kremlin wants to keep it that way. Two days after the White House released its summary of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters that he hoped conversations with Putin would remain private, according to the Times. Conversations between presidents are not usually shared with the public, and the release of the call with Zelensky is a “quite unusual” exception, Peskov added. “We would like to hope that we would not see such situations in our bilateral relations, which already have plenty of quite serious problems,” he said. Peskov did not give a definite answer on whether the Kremlin would agree to releasing a record of Putin and Trump’s calls. The disclosure of the contents would be handled case-by-case, although he hasn’t received any requests like that so far, Peskov said. In general however, conversations between the president and world leaders are not usually shared with the public, in order to give both parties the freedom to speak candidly. The release of the call with Zelensky is a “quite unusual” exception, Peskov said. The whistleblower’s allegations have placed the contents of Trump’s calls in doubt There have always been calls for the White House to release conversations between Trump and Putin, although these demands have largely blown over in the past, in part because, as the Washington Post’s Greg Miller has reported, notes from some Trump-Putin conservations may not exist: “US officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.” The Ukraine, scandal, however, has renewed calls for the review of what notes may exist due to the whistleblower’s allegation the Trump administration has, on more than one occasion, placed records from phone calls with foreign leaders in a secure system reserved for top state secrets. This was done, the whistleblower says, to protect the president from the contents of those notes.

Here’s who the House needs to hear from during its inquiry.
By The Editorial Board - The New York Times
President Trump’s assaults on democracy are rarely solo endeavors. His schemes often entangle, by chance or by choice, an array of accomplices, enablers, observers and victims — many of whom will need to be heard from as House members begin investigating the Ukraine scandal as part of the impeachment inquiry announced last week. “There is a whole host of people apparently who have knowledge of these events,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, who is spearheading the inquiry as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Thursday. Fortunately, said Mr. Schiff, the complaint filed by the administration whistle-blower provides “a pretty good road map of allegations that we need to investigate.” Indeed it does. Among the many persons of interest in this investigation: whichever White House and State Department staff members who were listening in on Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky; those who subsequently received a readout of that call; and those involved in the effort to “lock down” the record of it. The lines of inquiry quickly spiral. But here are a few notable figures — in addition, of course, to the whistle-blower himself — who could prove particularly useful to House investigators. Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney/fixer. As the point person on the push to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Mr. Giuliani likely knows more about the origins, scope and details of the effort than almost anyone. Some of the more targeted mysteries he could shed light on include: When and from whom did the president first get the idea to pressure Ukraine? How did Mr. Giuliani first become involved? Was he being paid for his work, and if so, by whom? Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney/fixer. As the point person on the push to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Mr. Giuliani likely knows more about the origins, scope and details of the effort than almost anyone. Some of the more targeted mysteries he could shed light on include: When and from whom did the president first get the idea to pressure Ukraine? How did Mr. Giuliani first become involved? Was he being paid for his work, and if so, by whom? When the whistle-blower complaint citing him by name was referred to the Justice Department, Mr. Barr should have formally recused himself from any involvement with it. Why didn’t he? Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff. In July, Mr. Trump directed Mr. Mulvaney to arrange for Ukraine’s military aid to be put on hold. What explanation did he give Mr. Mulvaney? Whom did Mr. Mulvaney contact at the Departments of Defense and State to make that happen? What explanations did he offer them? Mike Pompeo, secretary of state. Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has already issued a raft of questions that he’d like Mr. Pompeo to address, including: Was Mr. Pompeo concerned that America’s Ukraine policy had been partially outsourced to the president’s personal lawyer? When did Mr. Pompeo first learn of Mr. Giuliani’s work? Did he approve it, and was he aware that State Department officials were involved with it? What explanation was he given for the withholding of aid to Ukraine?

A Ukrainian ex-prosecutor general has told the BBC there is no reason for his country to investigate President Donald Trump's political rival Joe Biden. Yuriy Lutsenko said any investigation into Mr Biden and his son would have to start in the US. "I don't know any reason to investigate Joe Biden or Hunter Biden according to Ukrainian law," he said. Mr Trump's efforts to have Ukraine investigate the pair prompted an impeachment inquiry by the Democrats. A transcript of a call Mr Trump made to Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky on 25 July shows he urged him to investigate discredited corruption allegations against Mr Biden and his son. Mr Trump and his allies have been suggesting that Mr Biden, as Barack Obama's vice-president, encouraged the firing of Ukraine's top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because he had been investigating Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, which employed Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden became a director at Burisma in 2014, while his father held a key role in US policy towards Ukraine. Mr Biden is currently frontrunner to be the Democrat to take on Mr Trump in the November 2020 presidential election. What did Lutsenko say? Speaking to BBC Kiev correspondent Jonah Fisher, Mr Lutsenko - who succeeded Mr Shokin and stood down last month - said there was no plan to open the investigation into Burisma, and that any investigation into Hunter Biden would have to start in the US. "It is the jurisdiction of the US," he said, adding that any "possible embezzlement" at Burisma "happened two or three years before Hunter Biden became a member of the board".

By Shawn Donnan, Jenny Leonard, and Saleha Mohsin
The Trump administration has issued a partial -- and qualified -- denial to the revelation that it is discussing imposing limits on U.S. investments in Chinese companies and financial markets as China vowed to continue opening its markets to foreign investment. Bloomberg News on Friday reported that Larry Kudlow, the head of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, was leading deliberations inside the White House over what some hawks have labeled a potential “financial decoupling” of the world’s two largest economies. The options discussed have included forcing a delisting of Chinese companies from U.S. exchanges, imposing limits on investments in Chinese markets by U.S. government pension funds and putting caps on the value of Chinese companies included in indexes managed by U.S. firms, according to people familiar with and involved in the discussions. In a statement emailed to Bloomberg over the weekend, a spokeswoman for U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there were no current plans to stop Chinese companies from listing on U.S. exchanges. “The administration is not contemplating blocking Chinese companies from listing shares on U.S. stock exchanges at this time,” Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said. Crowley did not address any of the other options reported and declined to offer any further details of the discussions. The response came after Friday’s initial Bloomberg report, which was later matched by other news organizations including the Financial Times and New York Times, unnerved markets in the U.S. and led to a slump in U.S.-listed Chinese firms. The S&P 500 Index closed down about 0.5% on Friday with the U.S. shares of companies like Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu Inc. tumbling. China’s stock market declined ahead of a week-long National Day holiday.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez CBS News
President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him he was aware of his unorthodox diplomatic campaign to pressure Ukraine's government to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. "I did not do this on my own. I did it at the request of the State Department and I have all of the text messages to prove it. And I also have a thank you from them from doing a good job," Giuliani said on "Face the Nation." "When I talked to the secretary last week, he said he was aware of it." Transcript: Rudy Giuliani on "Face the Nation" Giuliani's claim on Sunday echoes recent allegations that he and others, including a whistleblower whose compliant is at the center of an impeachment push against Mr. Trump, have made about the State Department's supposed involvement in his behind-the-scenes outreach to Ukraine, a staunch U.S. ally dealing with a Russian-backed insurgency in its eastern territory. Along with denouncing a call in July in which Mr. Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigative the Bidens, the whistleblower in the complaint said senior State Department officials — including the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker — reached out to Giuliani to "contain the damage" of his rogue communication with the Ukrainian government. Giuliani has said the State Department's involvement in his outreach to the Ukrainian government started in July, when he said Volker connected him with a top Zelensky aide. Soon after meeting with the aide, Andriy Yermak, Giuliani said he called both Volker and the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, to brief them on his conversation. After that phone call, Giuliani said he participated in a "full debriefing" on the matter on August 12.

Prominent figures on Russian TV have been openly putting out the same ideas that we now know the American president was privately pursuing.
By Julia Davis
Elements of the bombshell whistleblower report outlining various aims pursued by the Trump administration with respect to Ukraine keep connecting back to Russia. Several of the reported objectives of President Donald Trump, his administration officials, and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, would benefit the Kremlin and not the United States or its national security. Namely, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was urged to make a deal with Putin, pressured “to play ball” with respect to providing or manufacturing compromising materials about Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, and essentially tasked with concocting “the evidence” to disprove the well-established fact that the Democratic National Committee server was hacked by Russian intelligence agents in 2016. The unconscionable demand for Ukraine to make “a deal” with an invader— which has annexed and occupied its territory and continues to fuel an armed conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives—would mean a surrender of Ukraine’s national interests for the benefit of the Kremlin. It would also lead to the lifting of sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. Casting doubt on Russia’s involvement in the hack of the DNC server would potentially lead to the lifting of sanctions against Russia for its election-meddling and other malign activities. Attacking the credibility of Biden, frequently described by Kremlin-controlled state television as “Trump’s most dangerous rival,” would also benefit Putin, who openly admitted that he wanted President Trump to be elected in 2016. That preference remains intact, in spite—or perhaps because—of multiple missteps by America’s bumbling commander in chief. Dmitry Kiselyov, the host of Russia’s most popular Sunday news program, Vesti Nedeli, urged Trump to keep digging in Ukraine for “the sweetest” kompromat of all: “Proving that Ukraine—not Russia—interfered in the U.S. elections.” The pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden has been not only from Trump, but also from the Kremlin. One of the expectations, voiced on Russian state-television channel Rossiya 24 by analyst Alexander Kareevsky, was that taking down Biden would inevitably lead to the “revelation”—in fact, an outrageous fantasy—that the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was ordered by the Obama administration and carried out by Ukraine, not Russia. In another fantasy, pundits on Russian state television continually assert that Trump’s impeachment is all but “impossible.” In the meantime, the impeachment fallout is beneficial for the Kremlin, creating a spectacle of unprecedented political turmoil in the United States while placing Ukraine in the untenable position of alienating both parties, as well as the country’s European allies, and distracting from Russian election interference and the imposition of any additional sanctions.

By Daniel Politi
The emails are back. Just when you thought the issue that engulfed much of the 2016 presidential election was gone, if not forgotten, State Department investigators are reviving it all and targeting current and former senior officials who sent emails to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Overall, investigators have contacted as many as 130 officials in recent weeks to tell them emails they sent years earlier have been retroactively classified and their actions could add up to security violations, reports the Washington Post.  The officials, who range from senior officials who reported to Clinton to lower-level government employees whose emails got forwarded to the then-secretary of State, received letters in August saying, “You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability” in “security incidents,” according to The Post. In pretty much all the cases, the letters had to do with emails that were sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox. And so far at least there isn’t any evidence that these violations actually involved sensitive information. The contacts to former officials began around 18 months ago but then were dropped, only to be revived again last month. State Department officials deny this has anyting to do with the White House. Yet for the targets of the revived probe, the whole effort appears to be just the latest example of how the Trump administration is using its power to target political rivals. Plus, many see it as particularly rich that an administration that has had “its own troubled record of handling classified material,” as the Post puts it, is going to such lengths with this issue. A former senior US official told the Post the email investigation is an effort by Republicans “to keep the Clinton email issue alive” and “a way to tarnish a whole bunch of Democratic foreign policy people.” At the very least it seems like the issue is still very much in Trump’s mind. “I think that one of the great crimes committed is Hillary Clinton deleting 33,000 emails after Congress sends her a subpoena,” Trump said earlier this week alongside Ukraine’s president. “Think of that. You can’t even do that in a civil case; you can’t get rid of evidence like that.”

By Dahlia Lithwick
On Friday night the Washington Post dropped another blockbuster report in the midst of a fast-unspooling scandal involving Donald Trump’s improper communications with foreign officials. It raises a worrying question: Was there a memorandum that should have been produced to the Mueller probe that was never turned over? We learned Thursday, by way of a 9-page whistleblower report, about conversations between Trump and the Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump seems to have conditioned the receipt of military aid on Zelensky’s pledge to reopen “cases” that would investigate Joe Biden’s son for Trump’s own electoral benefit, that in the wake of the July phone call with Zelensky, “senior White House officials had intervened to “lock down” all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced – as is customary.” We further learned from the whistleblower complaint that White House officials were ordered by “White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.” Further we know now that although it contained no classified information from a national security perspective, “the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.” That latter bit is almost a bigger scandal than the fact that the president tried to extort a foreign ally to produce fake opposition research in order to win the election. It directly implicates White House lawyers in hiding embarrassing documents under the pretext of protecting national security information. Beyond which, it’s explicitly illegal to classify things for the purpose of covering up embarrassing behavior or misconduct. Presumably the House Intelligence Committee will now have to figure out who these lawyers were, and Russia, if you’re listening, maybe you can track down the emails. But here’s where Friday night’s Washington Post story perhaps magnifies the Ukraine scandal: The report, by Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima, alleges that there is a memorandum summarizing the White House meeting on May 10, 2017, between Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a meeting at which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a foreign agent, and at which he also told Lavrov and Kislyak that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him. The Post goes on to note that “it is not clear whether a memo documenting the May 10, 2017, meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was placed into that system, but the three former officials said it was restricted to a very small number of people.” Here’s the problem: That May 10 White House meeting was the subject of intense scrutiny by the Mueller probe because it went directly to the question of why Comey was fired. Page 71 of the second volume of the Mueller report notes, “In the morning on May 10, 2017, President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office.” The footnote cites to a White House Document entitled “Working Visit with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia” which is dated 5/9/17, the day before the meeting, and to an email (5/9/17 White House Document, “Working Visit with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia”); SCR08_001274 (5/10/17 Email, Ciaramella to Kelly, et al.). That’s the only document that seems to have been produced in reference to the May 10 meeting. There is confirmation of Trump’s remarks about Comey’s firing being a relief from Sean Spicer and Hope Hicks.

By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Karoun Demirjian
The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said. As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials. Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post. In virtually all of the cases, potentially sensitive information, now recategorized as “classified,” was sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox. State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said. Senior State Department officials said that they are following standard protocol in an investigation that began during the latter days of the Obama administration and is nearing completion. “This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” said a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing probe. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years.” To many of those under scrutiny, including some of the Democratic Party’s top foreign policy experts, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the Clinton email case represents a new front on which the Trump administration could be accused of employing the powers of the executive branch against perceived political adversaries. The existence of the probe follows revelations that the president used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine to pursue investigations that Trump hoped would produce damaging information about Democrats, including potential presidential rival Joe Biden.

The Trump-friendly scribe and his Biden-Ukraine conspiracies were cited multiple times in the whistleblower memo. Many of his co-workers are ashamed to be associated with him.
Maxwell Tani, Justin Baragona
Beltway-centric newspaper The Hill employs a team of dozens of journalists from a variety of backgrounds. But only one has managed to alienate many of his colleagues, fuel the paranoia of Fox News viewers, and inadvertently play a key role in the whistleblower complaint and President Donald Trump’s potential impeachment. Over the past several years, John Solomon, a long-time journalist with bylines at the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Newsweek/The Daily Beast, has pivoted to becoming the Trumpian right’s favorite “investigative reporter.” And now, thanks to several mentions in the whistleblower’s complaint, his work has come under intense scrutiny following the revelation that a series of his stories about Ukraine, along with his Fox News appearances promoting them, may have led to the president asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to team up with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate the Biden family. Over the past several months, and with the benefit of substantial airtime from Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity, Solomon has peddled a series of Ukraine-based conspiracy theories and allegations that have primarily taken aim at two of Trumpworld’s biggest targets: Biden and Hillary Clinton. In the process, his questionable reporting, which often seems specifically tailored to stoke the flames of right-wing paranoia, has enraged many of his colleagues at The Hill who have for years seen his tactics and reporting as overtly ideological, convoluted, and often lacking in crucial context. “He’s a lightning rod of anxiety for us,” one Hill insider told The Daily Beast.

Stephen Miller struggles on Fox News, and other lowlights from the Sunday morning efforts to defend the president.
By Aaron Rupar
Following a week in which an abuse of power scandal about President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings pushed Democrats toward impeachment, Trump loyalists joined the Sunday morning news talk shows to try and defend the president. Their efforts did not go well, and produced a number of cringeworthy moments. In fairness, Trump defenders faced an uphill battle. This weekend, Trump’s dismissiveness about Russian election interference came under new scrutiny. And the whistleblower complaint at the center of the growing Ukraine scandal about Trump trying to strongarm the Ukrainian government into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has already been corroborated in key respects by the White House. The whistleblower accused Trump of using a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “advance his personal interests” by pushing for an investigation of Biden, and a memo about the call released by the White House indicates that did in fact happen. The whistleblower also alleged that officials went to extraordinary lengths to restrict the dissemination of information about that call, and the White House has acknowledged that happened as well. But even granting the difficulty of their task, Trump loyalists were still remarkably unequipped to make a case for their president. Notably, White House adviser Stephen Miller was taken to task by Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday. In stark contrast to the way Trump loyalists are usually treated by Wallace’s network, the Fox News Sunday host wouldn’t let Miller get away with the deflections he tried to use to twist Trump’s Ukraine scandal in one about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “This is an exercise in obfuscation,” Wallace said at one point, after Miller repeatedly refused to answer questions about why Trump would ever think it was appropriate to use his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to push for investigations of Biden, and about why Trump went against the guidance of his own Pentagon and State Department and decided to temporarily withhold aid to the country — aid that Trump appears to have used as leverage to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden.

By Juliegrace Brufke
A House conservative has introduced a measure to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in an attempt to condemn the Democratic chairman for using "parody" when recounting details of President Trump's call with the leader of Ukraine. House Freedom Caucus Chairman-elect Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) introduced the resolution Friday shortly after Trump took to Twitter to demand Schiff’s resignation over his remarks, which focused on the president's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Schiff had pointed to a reconstituted transcript of the conversation released by the White House, but paraphrased some points and offered an exaggerated version of the discussion, including saying that Trump directed Zelensky to “make up dirt on my political opponent” a full “seven times.” Schiff's remarks during the hearing Thursday were met with backlash from Republicans, who argued it was inappropriate given the nature of the hearing, where acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified on his handling of a whistleblower complaint filed over the Trump call. The whistleblower complaint and mounting scrutiny over Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden were integral in House Democrats' decision to move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry this week. Biggs's measure asserts that Schiff’s comments were an “egregiously false and fabricated retelling" that "had no relationship to the call itself,” alleging “these actions of Chairman Schiff misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties." The resolution also includes language alleging that members of the House Intelligence Committee “have lost faith” in Schiff’s ability to be objective as chairman and that his remarks hindered the committee’s ability to carry out its oversight responsibilities.

By Kat Lonsdorf
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration's effort to expand fast-track deportation regulations for undocumented immigrants without the use of immigration courts. The procedure, known as "expedited removal," has previously been used to deport undocumented immigrants who cross into the U.S. by land without an immigration hearing or access to an attorney if they are arrested within 100 miles of the border within two weeks of their arrival. In July, the administration expanded the rule to include undocumented immigrants who couldn't prove they had been in the U.S. continuously for two years or more, no matter where they were in the country. In a 126-page report issued just before midnight on Friday, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a preliminary injunction on the policy change. She stated that the administration did not follow the correct decision-making procedures, such as the formal notice-and-comment period required for major federal rule changes, and likely violated federal law in failing to do so. She said that "no good cause exists for the agency to have not complied with these mandates in this instance." Jackson, who is an Obama-era appointee, also said that the July notice by the Department of Homeland Security seemed "arbitrary and capricious." "Put in common parlance, if a policy decision that an agency makes is of sufficient consequence that it qualifies as an agency rule, then arbitrariness in deciding the contours of that rule — e.g., decision making by Ouija board or dart board, rock/paper/scissors, or even the Magic 8 Ball — simply will not do," Jackson wrote. "There are well-established legal constraints on the manner in which an agency exercises its discretion to make discretionary policy decisions, and there are also legally established consequences if an agency does not adhere to these procedural requirements when it determines the policies that it imposes." The Department of Homeland Security had argued that the policy change would relieve overburdened immigration courts and "harmonize" existing regulations to apply equally to undocumented immigrants whether they arrive by land or sea.

Trump is following a trail of possible treason blazed in 1968 with Richard Nixon's secret Vietnam negotiations
By Matthew Rozsa
Donald Trump is not the first Republican to abuse American foreign policy to improve his chances of winning a presidential election. At least some of the people around Trump are well aware of this. They are continuing a tradition of ruthless partisanship, always unethical and potentially illegal, that is traceable back more than half a century, when Richard Nixon scuttled a peace process that could have ended the Vietnam War. Nixon, then a former vice president, had the same goal as Trump: To undermine a leading opponent, in that instance Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was the Democratic nominee in the chaotic election of 1968. In a nation already traumatized by the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Humphrey was a compromise candidate tarnished by his association with Lyndon Johnson’s deeply unpopular war in Southeast Asia. Nixon correctly perceived that as a weakness and exploited it. Trump appears to have pursued similar dirty tricks against former Vice President Joe Biden, whom polls have suggested would defeat Trump easily as a potential Democratic nominee next year. In fairness, why wouldn’t Trump pursue such tactics? They worked against Hillary Clinton in 2016, who was perceived by many voters as untrustworthy and plagued by scandal, based largely on false rumors, leaked documents and innuendo. At least until now, Trump has suffered no serious consequences for his 2016 campaign, just as Nixon didn't in 1968. If we don't want another 50 years of Republicans dabbling in borderline treason in search of political advantage, then the consequences must be serious. If Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives, at least 20 Republican senators will have to vote to convict him during the ensuing Senate trial (along with all 45 Senate Democrats and both independents). That’s an exceptionally unlikely outcome, but the only way it happens is if an overwhelming majority of Americans are convinced Trump, like Nixon before him, is guilty of treasonous conduct. That should be the focus of all the pro-impeachment messaging that occurs, from congressional Democrats to any media outlet that claims to cover this story responsibly. To be clear: Trump's arm-twisting and attempted extortion in Ukraine wasn't unprecedented. Other aspects of his presidency are unprecedented in their corruption: the high rate of staff turnover, the ways he has exploited his power and influence to help his private business empire, his pandering to despots and dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yet Trump’s request for a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky — that favor being an investigation of Biden, whom polls generally show has the best chance of beating Trump in the 2020 election — was highly Nixonian. There’s no direct proof that Trump withheld that $391 million in military aid from Ukraine to coerce Zelensky into doing his bidding, but the evidence is highly suggestive. At any rate, what has already been proved is damning enough. If we flash back 51 years, the evidence is even more damning: Richard Nixon was arguably willing to sacrifice thousands of lives to get elected president. Shortly before the Humphrey-Nixon election of 1968, a Republican operative named Anna Chennault — a private citizen, playing a similar role to Rudy Giuliani’s in the Ukraine scandal — served as an intermediary between the Nixon campaign and the U.S.-supported government of South Vietnam. Her mission, which she successfully accomplished, was to convince the South Vietnamese not to participate in any peace talks orchestrated by President Johnson during the campaign, on the grounds that Nixon could get them a better deal.

By Scott Faber, opinion contributor
Standing before a room mostly filled with industry lobbyists last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a clear message to the hundreds of American communities with drinking water contaminated with the highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS: Let them drink polluted water. PFAS are man-made “forever chemicals” that never break down once released and they build up in our bodies. Calling Congressional efforts to clean up legacy PFAS pollution in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 “just not workable,” Wheeler instead will continue to study the matter. Wheeler has so far refused to designate PFAS chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law. By doing so, the EPA would kick-start the cleanup process at contaminated sites and ensure that polluters pay their fair share of cleanup costs. The Department of Defense has cited the absence of a “hazardous substance” designation when refusing to clean up sites contaminated by fluorinated firefighting foams. So far, the Environmental Working Group has documented 297 military installations that are contaminated by PFAS, threatening nearby communities. Even former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt pledged to pursue the designation for some PFAS, vowing in 2018 that it was “a national priority.” But this week Wheeler parroted chemical industry talking points to contend that cleaning up contaminated sites would be putting politics “ahead of the science.” “You don't solve a problem with a chemical by just declaring it hazardous,” Wheeler said. Actually, the EPA has designated hundreds of chemicals as hazardous under federal statutes meant to fulfill the agency’s mission to, you know, protect people. By doing so, the EPA has reduced releases of hazardous substances from industry into the air and water and cleaned up sites that are badly contaminated. As House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noted during a markup last week, a hazardous substance designation is not a ban. Many of the chemicals deemed hazardous by the EPA are still used in products. According to news accounts, Wheeler also relied upon earlier EPA approvals of some PFAS chemicals as proof of their safety — despite recent evidence that the agency knowingly ignored studies showing serious health risks. The EPA’s own inspector general just announced a probe into whether agreements on the production of GenX – a notorious replacement chemical for older PFAS — have been enforced.

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