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By Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump has made a blizzard of claims about Ukraine. Many of them have been attacks on Democrats, and many of them have been incorrect. Here is a brief readers' guide to our fact checks on all things related to Trump's Ukraine controversy. We will update this page as events unfold. Hunter Biden and the investigation: Trump has repeatedly claimed that former vice president Joe Biden had called for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was "investigating his son." There is no evidence Hunter Biden was ever under investigation. The investigation was into the business dealings of the owner of a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden sat on the board of directors. In addition, a former Ukrainian deputy prosecutor and top anti-corruption activist have said the investigation was dormant at the time. And Shokin's successor, Yuriy Lutsenko, has said in interviews this year that Hunter Biden didn't violate any Ukrainian laws. Full fact check here.Joe Biden's pressure on Ukraine Trump has also claimed that Biden pressured Ukraine to take chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin "off the case." Biden pressured Ukrainian leaders to fire Shokin -- the Obama administration, US allies and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists saw Shokin as unwilling to prosecute elite corruption -- but there is no public evidence that Biden sought to get Shokin removed from any particular case. Joe Biden's boasting: Trump claimed in his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky that Biden had boasted about having "stopped the prosecution." Biden had boasted about getting Shokin fired, but he did not say he had stopped any prosecution. Shokin had been controversial precisely because he was unwilling to bring corruption prosecutions. Joe Biden's previous comments: Trump said Joe Biden contradicted himself when he said in September that he had "never" spoken to his son Hunter about his son's overseas business dealings; Trump claimed Joe Biden had previously said the opposite. That is not true. Hunter Biden, however, did tell the New Yorker that there was one father-son conversation about his business dealings in Ukraine. The delay in aid to Ukraine: Before he began justifying his decision to delay military aid to Ukraine, Trump told reporters that there was no delay at all -- an assertion obviously contradicted by the facts. Trump suggested on September 23 that he froze the funds because he was worried about "corruption" and whether "that country is honest." He explicitly said on September 24 that the funds were withheld, this time claiming he was waiting for "Europe and other nations" to spend their own money on Ukraine.

Trump’s Big Lie About Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Ukraine Falls Apart
In pushing to oust the former prosecutor, Biden did the right thing, no matter the personal cost.
By Casey Michel
The big lie spouted by Donald Trump and his allies in the unfurling Ukraine affair—an unprecedented abuse of public trust, which has now led directly to an impeachment inquiry—is that former Vice President Joe Biden urged the Ukrainians to fire the Kyiv general prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to save Biden’s son's hide. Many of Trump’s cronies and foot soldiers have already spun this line, from Donald Trump Jr. to Rudy Giuliani to Arthur Schwartz. Others have rightly pointed out that, in reality, Biden was not simply relaying the message pushed by the Obama administration, but that his position was supported by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, European allies, and even groups like the International Monetary Foundation (IMF). As Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state under Obama, recalled this week, “All of us working on Ukraine wanted this prosecutor gone, because he was NOT prosecuting corruption. So did the Europeans. So did the IMF. This didn't come from Joe Biden—he just delivered our message.” That’s all, of course, true. Anyone interested in the success of Ukraine’s democratic transition, and its efforts to clean up rampant corruption, wanted Shokin gone. But here’s something that seems to have been lost in this geopolitical shuffle. Not only was Biden not trying to protect his son, Hunter, who was then working at a Ukrainian energy company named Burisma. If anything, what the former vice president did was make the prosecution of his son’s company more likely, not less—a fact that seems to have been overlooked, but which flips Trump’s lies on their head.

By Manu Raju and Alex Rogers, CNN
(CNN) - House Democrats are developing a new plan to deal with any White House stonewalling to their upcoming demands for records and testimony: They will use it as evidence for an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, according to sources involved in the discussions.
Democrats are hoping that the tactic will force White House officials to make a choice: They could provide records to bolster the Democratic investigation, or they can resist the House subpoenas and add to the Democrats' case that Trump has sought to obstruct Congress. On Friday, three Democratic chairmen signaled their plans in the first round of subpoenas issued since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry earlier this week. "Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry," the chairmen wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the impeachment inquiry for now, is focused on allegations that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July to initiate an investigation that he thought could benefit his reelection. The panel's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, and other Democrats are signaling they won't put up with efforts to drag out the probe, as the Trump administration has done during its other battles with Congress this year. If the Trump administration does not comply with their subpoenas and turn over records, House Democrats are considering citing that as part of an article of impeachment on defying congressional subpoenas -- similar to an article against then-President Richard Nixon, Democratic sources say. Schiff is preparing for hearings, subpoenas and depositions as soon as next week as Democrats try to finish the probe this fall. When asked how he would handle any White House stonewalling, Schiff told CNN: "It'll just strengthen the case on obstruction." If the White House blocks all their requests, it may only speed up consideration of articles of impeachment, which Democrats are hoping to advance in the House as soon as this fall. "If everything we've seen in the last few days turns out to be the case, and it seems that the President is pretty much admitting it, there is overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors that we can act on now," said Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. "And so we don't necessarily need to wait on all of the litigation." The discussions amount to a shift in strategy from how Democrats handled the fights between the Trump administration and the House Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating Trump's alleged efforts to obstruct former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. For months, the White House stymied congressional investigations with broad claims of executive privilege and absolute immunity. It blocked numerous requests for records and witness interviews, namely with former White House counsel Don McGahn, prompting the House to sue the Trump administration. Also In April, Trump summed up the strategy with the vow, "We're fighting all the subpoenas."

By Ben Mathis-Lilley
Right now, House Democrats have a lot of things they need to figure out about how to carry out impeachment proceedings. Should upcoming hearings, and the eventual articles of impeachment the hearings produce, cover other subjects (tax returns, federal spending at Trump properties, etc.) besides Donald Trump’s Rudy Giuliani–abetted efforts to browbeat/extort Ukraine’s president into investigating Joe Biden? How much more time should be taken investigating the Ukraine case itself given that Trump essentially already handed over a confession when he released the White House’s notes on his call with Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday? In a Thursday piece for GQ, former Democratic Senate aide Adam Jentleson—he worked for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and frequently criticizes current caucus leaders for passivity—makes a case not to drop the other investigations, but to return to them later after a Ukraine-specific blitz that will force Republicans to talk about the quite incriminating facts of this particular case, rather than the as-yet-hazier issues involved in other inquiries. As to the scope of the Ukraine investigation, he writes, “the length of the hearings … should be determined by a simple test: Are we driving the news? Do we have control of the narrative? If so, keep going. If not, wrap it up and vote.” Luckily for the Democrats, two key figures in the case have already been telling them exactly which potential avenues of investigation should be most narratively fruitful: Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Both the president and his personal lawyer have been behaving for months in a way that could not have been more effective in identifying co-conspirators and disgruntled potential witnesses—and in generally exposing the existence and purposes of their scheme—if they’d done it on purpose. • First, in April, Giuliani said on Fox News that he wanted Attorney General William Barr to look into Biden’s history with Ukraine and into something Ukraine-related that is connected to the 2016 Democratic National Committee email hack in a way that is only comprehensible to truly devoted right-wing conspiracy theorists. Then, in May, he out and told the New York Times that he was going to Ukraine to try to hassle the government there into investigating those two subjects.

Kurt Volker was a well-regarded diplomat trying to solve one of the world’s hottest conflicts. Then he met with Rudy Giuliani.
Shortly after being named the U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations in mid-2017, Kurt Volker attended an invitation-only strategy session at the Atlantic Council with a small group of foreign-policy hands. There, he encouraged the people gathered at the downtown D.C. think tank to publicly praise President Donald Trump for his handling of Russia and Ukraine. It might have been in jest, but Volker’s point was obvious: Flattering Trump might lead him to “do the right thing” and act in the U.S. interest, as one attendee put it. Two years later, Volker has resigned the envoy role after becoming ensnared the Ukraine-related scandal that is consuming Trump’s presidency and fueling an impeachment drive by House Democrats. It’s an ominous turn for the widely respected diplomat, who joined the Trump team even as dozens of veterans of past Republican administrations shunned the new president. The envoy's resignation came as three House committees slapped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with a subpoena, demanding information on the controversy and scheduling depositions for five State Department officials, including Volker. The news of Volker's departure was first reported by a student news organization at Arizona State University and confirmed to POLITICO by a person familiar with the issue. A congressional aide said Democrats still expect Volker to appear for his deposition despite his resignation. Volker's decision to leave comes a day after Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, claimed that Volker had asked him to talk to Ukrainian officials — discussions that may have involved demands that Ukraine dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, the current Democratic 2020 frontrunner. On Thursday, Giuliani publicly shared what he said were text messages from Volker. One of the messages, dated July 19, shows Volker telling Giuliani he “really enjoyed breakfast this morning” before adding: “As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky. I suggest we schedule a call together on Monday – maybe 10am or 11am Washington time?” Giuliani revealed the text messages, he said in a Fox News appearance on Thursday evening, to bolster his claim that he was fulfilling a State Department request to meet with Ukrainian officials. “He should step forward and explain what he did,” Giuliani told host Laura Ingraham, referring to Volker.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump told two top Russian officials that he was unconcerned about the country's interference in the 2016 election during a 2017 Oval Office meeting, a remark that caused White House officials to tightly restrict access to his comments, The Washington Post reported Friday. The Post, citing conversations with three former officials with knowledge of the matter, said Trump made the statement to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the same meeting in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with the foreign officials. The former officials told the paper that a summary of the meeting was kept highly restricted to keep Trump's comment from getting out to the public, the Post reported. According to the paper, Trump told the officials that he was unconcerned about Russia's interference because the US "did the same in other countries." The White House's handling of records of Trump's communications with foreign officials has come under scrutiny in recent days after a whistleblower complaint about a call between Trump and Ukraine's President and the remarkable steps aides took to keep the conversation from becoming public led to a House impeachment inquiry into the President's conduct. The Post said it was unclear whether the summary of the meeting was placed in the same highly secured electronic system that the whistleblower alleges held the phone call with Ukraine's President. According to the three former officials the paper spoke with, White House officials were especially concerned with Trump's election interference remarks because it seemed to them that Trump was forgiving the Russians for interfering in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller determined the Russians had interfered in the election and had worked to elect Trump, though there was no evidence the campaign conspired with the Russians.

By jonathan karl, james gordon meek, katherine faulders and john santucci
When the transcripts of two phone calls President Donald Trump had with foreign leaders leaked in the early days of his presidency, the procedure to store those logs changed, multiple sources familiar with the process told ABC News. One former career intelligence official added that the administration "changed the dynamics of how these transcripts had been secured." The two calls in early 2017, with leaders from Australia and from Mexico, leaked early in Trump's administration, and sources said the procedure to store them quickly changed -- many calls between the president and world leaders instead were stored in a secure server to avoid leaks. The sources who talked to ABC News did caution that it's unclear if the calls being stored were done so for national security or for political concerns. One source said it became "basically standard operating procedure" for many of the conversations Trump has had during his time in office. The sources would not specify if any countries were treated differently than others. Decisions on which calls were put into the server, according to sources, were handled by members of the NSC, State Department and White House Counsel's office. The former career official said the measures taken seemed to solve the leak problem.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza
(CNN) - It's always a challenge to understand why Donald Trump says and does things. He is a hugely impulsive figure who often acts on a whim. There is no long-term strategy that informs his daily tactical decisions -- just Trump, well, doing stuff. But even by that haphazard standard, the President's decision this week to release a rough transcript of his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky makes zero political sense -- either in the moment he did it or in the after-action report. The rough log of the call makes quite clear to any fair-minded person that Trump did the following things: 1) Repeatedly reminded Zelensky of how much the United States does (and can do) for Ukraine. 2) Asked Zelensky to investigate debunked allegations of corrupt activity by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. 3) Said he would put Attorney General William Barr and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in touch with Zelensky to follow up about the Biden probe. That's not an interpretation of what Trump said or a second-hand account of the call. It is an, admittedly rough, transcript released (and presumably blessed) by the White House. In which the President of the United States says things like "I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time" and "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me." (There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.) That we have the President's actual words here -- undisputed -- makes this whole matter so, so much worse for Trump. Remember that in the Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump's possible role in obstructing that investigation, we never had a transcript of, say, the conversation between the President and then-FBI Director James Comey in which Comey alleges Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. Or of Trump's conversation with Corey Lewandowski, in which the President told his former campaign manager to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself in the probe.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Attorney General William Barr and the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani are likely to be called to testify in the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and Ukraine, according to a House Democrat who sits on the committee.
Rep. Mike Quigley told CNN's Jim Sciutto on Friday that he has "several questions" for Giuliani including whether the President's personal lawyer has a security clearance. "Rudy may be the best source of information, because he doesn't know what he shouldn't say," Quigley said, adding that he thinks Barr is "part of that list" of officials the committee will call to testify. Asked if the committee would enforce subpoenas or hold the two men in contempt should the White House attempt to block their testimony, Quigley said, "I think the committee will take whatever actions are necessary." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who launched the formal inquiry this week, told CNN on Friday that the intelligence committee will decide who to call as witnesses, also adding that she believes Barr "has gone rogue." Illinois Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, another committee member, told reporters on Capitol Hill Friday that it "makes sense" for the committee to invite Barr or Giuliani to testify since "both are obviously central figures." "I'm going to probably defer to the chairman on this on who he thinks should come before the committee," he added. According to a White House-released transcript, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July phone call to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, though there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. Trump asked Zelensky to work with Giuliani and Barr, even suggesting four times during the call that Barr will call Zelensky. The call was also part of a whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General that was publicly released Thursday in which the whistleblower alleged that Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up.

Trump's obsession with Ukraine may have begun with a right-wing conspiracy theory that DNC faked Russia hack
by Igor Derysh
The partial call transcript and whistleblower complaint released this week revealed that President Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help him discredit the Russia investigation. The White House released a partial transcript of a phone call between Trump and Zelensky on Wednesday, with the whistleblower complaint that has now triggered an impeachment inquiry into the president being released by Congress on Thursday. Though much of the focus has been on Trump urging Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family over a debunked conspiracy theory, the documents also revealed that Trump had pushed Ukraine to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The whistleblower complaint revealed that Trump asked Zelensky to “assist in purportedly uncovering that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine, with a specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm Crowdstrike, which initially reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC's networks in 2016.” The partial transcript revealed that Trump asked Zelensky to work with Attorney General Bill Barr to “get to the bottom of it.” “I would like you to do us a favor though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump said on the call. “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation in Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people. … The server, they say Ukraine has it.” Trump added that “they say” that the Mueller investigation “started with Ukraine.” The reference was to a conspiracy theory pushed by far-right pundits who have alleged that the Democratic National Committee fabricated the evidence of Russia’s 2016 hack into the DNC network. “The hoax has its roots in a GRU persona, ‘Guccifer 2.0,’ created to cast doubt on Russia’s culpability in the DNC hack,” The Daily Beast reported.

The whistleblower complaint released Thursday charges that White House officials attempted to limit access to potentially damaging details about President Trump's call with Ukraine's president by using a classified system reserved for highly sensitive information. If this allegation is true, former National Security Council officials say, it would represent a highly unusual misuse of procedures that were created to keep America's most important intelligence secrets safe. According to the complaint, senior White House officials intervened to "lock down" records of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. To do this, the whistleblower said, the rough transcript was loaded into an electronic system meant for classified information "of an especially sensitive nature." "I have never seen it done in my time in the White House, and I doubt that other presidents have engaged in this, although you never know what happened in the Nixon White House," former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told NPR's Here & Now on Thursday. Panetta also previously served as the director of the CIA and White House chief of staff, all in Democratic administrations. A former Trump NSC official confirmed to NPR that the Trump White House does use such a system. That official, who spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity, said about four to six people in the White House likely had access to the system. Access is so tightly controlled that not even the president's national security adviser can input or retrieve information from it — though high-ranking officials could direct information there. Information stored in the system is shared in person and not over email or secure phone lines. "The only reason to do that is to possibly obstruct justice," Panetta said. "When these kinds of tapes are isolated this way, there was a recognition that they contained possible evidence of wrongdoing." "I had never heard of anything like that," said Ned Price, who was a senior director for strategic communications at the NSC during the Obama administration. Price said then-President Obama's phone calls with world leaders were classified, but they weren't stored on the top-secret system. Another former NSC official, Michael Green, also described the alleged storage of the rough transcript on this separate system as "deeply disturbing." Green served as director for Asia at the NSC between 2001 and 2005, when George W. Bush was president.

By Ledyard King, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – It started with the White House going after a political opponent and ended up with a disgraced president being forced from office. It might be too early to invoke the specter of the Watergate scandal that cost President Richard Nixon his job 45 years ago. But President Donald Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate 2020 presidential challenger Joe Biden is increasingly drawing comparisons to one of America's darkest chapters. Trump's efforts to lean on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is reminiscent of the way Nixon created a team of secret investigators, known as "the plumbers," to find incriminating or embarrassing evidence about his enemies, said Ken Hughes, a leading Watergate authority and research specialist at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. "The difference between Nixon and Trump is that, for Nixon, the plumbers' operation was run and staffed by Americans, but Trump is outsourcing the dirt-digging operation overseas," Hughes said. "So it's actually shockingly similar." The comparisons are flowing more frequently since Wednesday's release of a summary detailing Trump's July 25 call to Zelensky and Thursday's release of a whistleblower complaint that the administration had taken steps to cover up details of the phone conversation. On the call, Trump reminded Zelensky that "we do a lot for Ukraine" before asking the Eastern European leader for "a favor." Later in the call, Trump asks that Zelensky talk with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been investigating the activities of Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The revelations prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to launch an impeachment inquiry Tuesday and accuse Trump of betraying his oath of office and endangering national security. Trump has emphatically denied that he applied any pressure on Ukraine. And he lashed out angrily Thursday at the unnamed officials who provided the whistleblower with details of his phone call, calling the source of the leak “almost a spy” and suggesting the culprit had committed treason. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right?” Trump said, according to published reports. “We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday asserted that Attorney General William Barr had “gone rogue” in his handling of an explosive whistleblower complaint that allegedly implicates him in efforts by President Donald Trump to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. “He’s gone rogue,” Pelosi said of the attorney general in an interview with MSNBC's "Morning Joe." “I think where they're going is a cover-up of the cover-up, and that's really very sad for them,” she added. The attorney general on Wednesday became ensnared in the rapidly escalating controversy surrounding Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when the White House made public a readout of the July conversation. The call summary shows that Trump urged the newly elected leader to to work with Barr to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. An anonymous whistleblower complaint released Thursday reported that Barr “appears to be involved” in Trump’s push for a probe into the Bidens. The complaint also alleges that White House officials were alarmed by Trump’s call with Zelensky, and later tried to "lock down" details of the conversation. The Justice Department denied Wednesday that Barr had been asked to work with Ukraine on a Biden investigation, and a department spokeswoman told POLITICO the president never requested that the attorney general investigate Biden in a matter separate from the Ukraine scandal. Though the intelligence community’s inspector general deemed the complaint’s allegations credible and “urgent,” acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire initially refused to turn over the document to Congress.

Manhattan DA, Trump reach temporary deal on subpoena for Trump's tax returns
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has agreed not to enforce a subpoena for President Donald Trump’s tax returns until a federal court rules on the office’s motion to dismiss Trump’s suit to block the subpoena and an injunction sought by the president. In a letter to federal Judge Victor Marrero today, attorneys in the DA’s office said they “reached a temporary arrangement” with Trump’s attorneys to delay enforcement of the subpoena until 1 p.m. two business days after Marrero rules or until 1 p.m. Oct. 7, whichever comes first. In the meantime, Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, “will resume gathering and preparing all documents responsive to the subpoena,” according to the letter, which was also signed by the president’s attorneys and lawyers for Mazars, which is a defendant in the case. Unless the court orders otherwise, Mazars will begin “a rolling production” of the tax documents “immediately upon the expiration of this agreement,” with the first delivery by hand on 4 p.m. that day.

While many in the Trump White House are battle-tested from the Mueller investigation, this is starting to feel different, aides and advisers said.
By Shannon Pettypiece, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Carol E. Lee
WASHINGTON — White House officials were scrambling Thursday to figure out how to counter the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, with one source familiar with the situation describing a sense of “total panic” over the past week at the lack of a plan to address the new reality. There appears to be rising “anxiety, unease, and concern” — as one person close to the White House described the mood in the West Wing — that the whistleblower’s allegations could seriously wound the president and some of those around him. “There’s not a lot of confidence that there’s no there there,” this person said. White House officials remained unsure of how to proceed, not only because there is no apparent plan to deal with the situation, but because the allegations are so serious that the usual methods the president has used to successfully escape past controversies may not apply: “This doesn’t look like something that’s going to be overtaken by the next news cycle,” the person said. Another person familiar with the discussions described the mood inside the White House as “shell-shocked,” with increasing wariness that, as this impeachment inquiry drags out, the likelihood increases that the president could respond erratically and become “unmanageable.” That concern was echoed by another source, who said that some around the president anticipate he will engage in more “impulsive” behavior, with pressure expected to build on him daily during the impeachment inquiry. That’s sparking worries that Trump could display increasingly unpredictable behavior and lash out in unexpected ways — both a presidential and a political concern in an election year. With his presidency facing what may be its biggest threat yet, Trump has cycled from offense to defense, reviving a strategy that he viewed as effective during Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. He tried to downplay his request for the Ukrainian president to help investigate his political rivals, to divert attention to actions by Democrats and presidential contender Joe Biden, and to discredit the whistleblower as having partisan motives.

The president’s mood has swung between hope for a resolution and desire for vengeance. A senior aide, however, says there won’t even be a “war room” at the White House for now.
By Asawin Suebsaeng, Sam Stein
As President Donald Trump wrapped up his swing through New York City on Thursday, he stopped by the luxury restaurant Cipriani to deliver remarks at a high-roller breakfast fundraiser. Fresh off meetings at the United Nations, the president clearly couldn’t take his mind off a certain anonymous whistleblower whose recently declassified complaint has threatened to blow up his administration. According to an attendee at the breakfast, Trump brandished a printed copy of the memo of his now-infamous Ukraine phone call, flaunting it as he blasted Democratic lawmakers for being mean to him. After waving the document around and receiving cheers from the gathering of Republican donors and supporters, the president boasted about how much money—$13 million in 24 hours—he had raised for his reelection effort, the attendee noted. It was yet another illustration of how Trump’s big week in New York has been overshadowed and bedeviled by revelations that he and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had urged Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Joe Biden, the former vice president who remains likely to be Trump’s 2020 election opponent. Over the past few days, the president has helped raise millions for the 2020 fight and has been lavished with praise by world leaders. And yet he’s remained, through it all, obsessed over the scandal unfolding back in Washington, D.C., as Democratic members of Congress inched closer to impeachment proceedings. According to three people with knowledge of the situation, Trump has compulsively monitored TV and cable-news coverage of the Ukraine-related scandal and has repeatedly asked those around him about the whistleblower and rumors that the complainant is hostile to or biased against him. Through it all, the president’s demeanor and approach to the rapidly unfolding scandal has vacillated between spoiling for a fight and hoping for a détente. Often, it depended on who he was talking to or what setting he found himself in. According to those in attendance at his Thursday breakfast fundraiser, the president was upbeat and fired up, telling donors that he and his political team were ready to punch back hard. In private, however, there was genuine consternation regarding how a brutal impeachment process would affect his legacy and his White House, with much of his staff sharing those same anxieties. Those close to Trump say the president never expected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to back any major impeachment moves—at least not until this week.

By John Cassidy
The anonymous whistle-blower's complaint that the House Intelligence Committee released on Thursday morning is a straightforward and clearly written document. In nine pages, with footnotes, it alleges that Donald Trump, with his sidekick Rudolph Giuliani, was involved in a flagrant abuse of Presidential power for personal gain (precisely the sort of behavior that James Madison and his colleagues were concerned about when they insisted upon including an impeachment clause in the U.S. Constitution) and that White House lawyers tried to cover up some of Trump’s behavior, particularly the contents of a call he had with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, on July 25th. Furthermore, the document implicates Vice-President Mike Pence and casts Attorney General William Barr as a significant player in the Ukraine caper. The complaint, which is dated from August 12th, was written in the form of a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. After referencing a statute that protects whistle-blowers from retaliation, the author, who is apparently an intelligence officer with access to interagency communications, gets right to the point: “In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. The interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well." The whistle-blower goes on to discuss, in detail, the July 25th call, in which Trump told Zelensky, “I would like you to do us a favor,” and then went on to urge him to investigate Ukraine’s possible involvement in the 2016 U.S. election and to speak with Giuliani about former Vice-President Joe Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor. “The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistle-blower writes. “They told me that there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.” The next section of the complaint details the alleged coverup:

His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics.
By Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Julian E. Barnes
WASHINGTON — The whistle-blower who revealed that President Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity. The man has since returned to the C.I.A., the people said. Little else is known about him. His complaint made public Thursday suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law. The whistle-blower’s expertise will likely add to lawmakers’ confidence about the merits of his complaint, and tamp down allegations that he might have misunderstood what he learned about Mr. Trump. He did not listen directly to a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the political firestorm over the president’s mixing of diplomacy with personal political gain. Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous. “Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.” The C.I.A. referred questions to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies. A spokeswoman for the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, said that protecting the whistle-blower was his office’s highest priority. “We must protect those who demonstrate the courage to report alleged wrongdoing, whether on the battlefield or in the workplace,” Mr. Maguire said at a hearing on Thursday, adding that he did not know the whistle-blower’s identity. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said The Times was right to publish information about the whistle-blower. “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country — whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up.” Agents, officers and analysts from the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities routinely work at the White House. Often, they work on the National Security Council or help manage secure communications, like calls between the president and foreign leaders.

CNN Newsroom - The House Intelligence Committee has released the declassified whistleblower complaint regarding President Trump's phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky. CNN's Dana Bash breaks down the allegation from the complaint. Source: CNN

By Chandelis Duster, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Thursday told staff from United States Mission to the United Nations that he wanted to know who gave information to the whistleblower about his call with the Ukranian President, calling the person who did it "close to a spy" and that "in the old days" spies were dealt with differently, The New York Times reported. "I want to know who's the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that's close to a spy," Trump said, according to the Times, which cited a person briefed on what occurred who had notes of what the President said. "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now." Earlier Thursday, a stunning whistleblower complaint alleged Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire also testified before the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower complaint. The identity of the whistleblower remains publicly unknown, but his or her safety was raised at Maguire's testimony. "And of course, you will do anything you can to protect the whistleblower from any attempts to retaliate against him or her, correct?" Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois asked. "I will not permit the whistleblower to be subject to any retaliation or adverse consequences for going to the IG. I am absolutely committed to that," Maguire replied. Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who is now a CNN contributor, told CNN's Brianna Keilar following the Times' report that Trump's implicit threat is "exactly what government officials are not supposed to do." "He's clearly targeting the person who's filed this complaint that affects him seriously and is kind of laying the marker down that he wants this person's identity and he wants to be able to follow-up on this. So absolutely a total contravention of all the protections for whistleblowers," said McCabe, who added that Trump's reported comments in front of US government employees suggests a message to others who might come forward with damaging information in the future. "So you have to ask, was this some sort of a message to all of those folks and indeed a message to all people serving in the government that if they step forward with complaints, they can expect the President to come after them?"

By Maggie Haberman
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday morning told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations that he wants to know who provided information to a whistle-blower about his phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently. The remark stunned people in the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of what the president said. Mr. Trump made the statement several minutes into his remarks before the group of about 50 people at the event intended to honor the United States Mission. At the outset, he condemned the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked.” He then said the whistle-blower never heard the call in question. “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

By Suzanne E. Durrell and David W. S. Lieberman, Opinion contributors
Evidence is evidence, no matter who brings it to light. Politicians would be well advised to keep that in mind. With the news that the White House whistleblower is willing to speak to Congress, it appears inevitable that his or her identity will become public. Some have argued that the whistleblower should publicly make the case against the president. We and our partners are former government prosecutors who now represent whistleblowers alleging fraud against the government. Together, we have represented scores of whistleblowers raising allegations of impropriety under federal and state law. When necessary we take these cases to trial. That experience has taught us that while the whistleblower’s identity may eventually become public, voluntarily disclosing it, or worse, expecting the whistleblower to “prove” these allegations, would be a strategic error. There are many reasons one would choose to speak out: Our clients speak out against employers, friends and colleagues to report violations of the law. Every whistleblower has his or her own reasons, and the decision to come forward invariably requires great courage. They are heroes — whether or not they carry baggage.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel essentially ignored additional allegations from the whistleblower outside the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call when it determined his complaint should be kept in-house, according to a newly unsealed memo from the department's policy office. Steven Engel of the Office of Legal Counsel was tasked to interpret only whether the whistleblower complaint was indeed an "urgent concern" under the law. The Office of Legal Counsel, the first unit within the Justice Department to learn of the whistleblower's complaint, decided it was not of urgent concern. The OLC's acknowledgement of the other allegations are in two footnotes in the now-declassified September 3 opinion advising the Director of National Intelligence what to do about the complaint. The binding advice was to keep the whistleblower complaint within the Justice Department for a possible criminal probe instead of sending it to Congress in early September. The original September 3 memo acknowledges the whistleblower's accusations that President Donald Trump chose to suspend security assistance to Ukraine because of an improper motive, and that White House officials attempted to lock down the transcript of Trump's July call out of political rather than national security concern. But those accusations aren't part of the OLC's main considerations, instead appearing only in the memo's footnotes. The Office of Legal Counsel posted the redacted September 3 memo on its website Thursday morning, noting it is now declassified. The Justice Department had previously released a slightly rewritten, unclassified version of the same legal opinion that did not include the two footnotes acknowledging the whistleblower's other concerns. "The complainant stated that some officials at the White House had advised that this action may have been an abuse of the system," Engel wrote in the original memo regarding accusation of the White House attempting to bury the transcript, "but the (intelligence community inspector general) did not discuss this allegation in concluding that the complaint stated an urgent concern."

BBC News - Joseph Maguire, acting Director of National Security, says in opening statement: "The American public expects us to keep them safe. The intelligence community cannot do that without this committee's support. "Before we turn to the matter at hand, there are a few things I would like to say. I am not partisan and I am not political. I believe in a life of service and I am honoured to be a public servant." He says he has served in uniform under eight presidents and taken his oath 11 times. Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry against the Republican president on Tuesday, accusing Mr Trump of seeking foreign help in the hope of smearing Mr Biden and of using military aid to Ukraine as a potential bargaining tool. The report's release comes as US lawmakers are beginning to question President Trump's top intelligence official over the issue. Acting national intelligence director Joseph Maguire had initially refused to share the complaint with Congress. President Trump has dismissed the impeachment proceedings as a "hoax" and a "witch-hunt".

By Dan Mangan
Damning allegations against President Donald Trump and White House officials were exposed Thursday with the release by Congress of a complaint by a whistleblower who is a member of the U.S. intelligence community. Among them is the whistleblower’s belief that Trump’s actions were so obviously egregious that White House officials promptly launched a cover-up to minimize the chance that Trump’s efforts to have a foreign power dig up dirt on a leading Democratic presidential contender would become public. The complaint says that “more than half a dozen U.S. officials” provided information detailed in the report over a four-month period. Here are the biggest bombshell claims in the complaint: Trump used the power of the presidency to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election by launching an investigation of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of a Ukraine company. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was a “central figure” in that effort, who reached out to and met with key Zelensky advisers. Officials told the whistleblower that Ukrainian leaders were led to believe that a meeting or call between Zelensky and Trump would depend on whether Ukraine’s president “showed willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues” that Giuliani was raising. Attorney General William Barr appeared to be involved in the effort to get Ukraine to cooperate with Trump’s desire for a probe of Biden. White House officials were “deeply disturbed” by a July 25 phone call Trump had with Zelensky. There were discussions “with White House lawyers because of the likelihood,” in the minds of officials, “that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.” Senior White House officials intervened to “lock down” records of the call with Zelensky, which “underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.” White House lawyers directed White House officials to remove the electronic transcript of the Zelensky call from the computer system where such transcripts normally are stored. That transcript then was loaded into a “separate electronic system” that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. “One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”

By stephanie ebbs
In yet another strike against California, the Trump administration accused the state of "failing to protect Californians from degraded water," specifically citing concerns about waste from homeless populations getting into sewer systems. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote to California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday alleging the state has not addressed water pollution tied to the homelessness crisis in major cities like San Francisco, specifically when the sewer system can overflow during heavy rain and release untreated water into other areas like the San Francisco Bay. The letter specifically cites a report on NPR last year that cited a local news investigation describing concerns with trash, used needles from drug users and human waste on the streets. The letter also cites at least 23 instances in recent months where water districts in California released water that exceeded the allowed levels of pollutants like copper or cyanide. "The EPA is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment. Indeed, press reports indicate that 'piles of human feces' on sidewalks and streets in these cities are becoming all too common," Wheeler said in the letter. "The EPA is concerned about the potential water quality impacts from pathogens and other contaminants from untreated human waste entering nearby waters," the letter added. Newsom's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning.

By Dan Mangan
Damning allegations against President Donald Trump and White House officials were exposed Thursday with the release by Congress of a complaint by a whistleblower who is a member of the U.S. intelligence community. Among them is the whistleblower’s belief that Trump’s actions were so obviously egregious that White House officials promptly launched a cover-up to minimize the chance that Trump’s efforts to have a foreign power dig up dirt on a leading Democratic presidential contender would become public. The complaint says that “more than half a dozen U.S. officials” provided information detailed in the report over a four-month period. Here are the biggest bombshell claims in the complaint: Trump used the power of the presidency to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election by launching an investigation of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of a Ukraine company. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was a “central figure” in that effort, who reached out to and met with key Zelensky advisers. Officials told the whistleblower that Ukrainian leaders were led to believe that a meeting or call between Zelensky and Trump would depend on whether Ukraine’s president “showed willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues” that Giuliani was raising. Attorney General William Barr appeared to be involved in the effort to get Ukraine to cooperate with Trump’s desire for a probe of Biden. White House officials were “deeply disturbed” by a July 25 phone call Trump had with Zelensky. There were discussions “with White House lawyers because of the likelihood,” in the minds of officials, “that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.” Senior White House officials intervened to “lock down” records of the call with Zelensky, which “underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.” White House lawyers directed White House officials to remove the electronic transcript of the Zelensky call from the computer system where such transcripts normally are stored. That transcript then was loaded into a “separate electronic system” that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. “One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”

By Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz, David Shortell, Tammy Kupperman and Michael Callahan, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up, according to a stunning whistleblower complaint released Thursday. Several White House officials were "deeply disturbed" by Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and tried to "lock down" all records of the phone call, especially the word-for-word transcript produced by the White House, the complaint states. The complaint has been at the center of a controversy that has spurred Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. The White House on Wednesday also released a rough transcript of the call that shows Trump repeatedly pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Caving to Democratic demands, the Trump administration let Congress release a declassified version of the complaint, one day after releasing a rough transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call. The developments triggered a flood of Democratic lawmakers to publicly support impeachment. Trump has maintained that he didn't do anything wrong, while simultaneously promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the Bidens, Ukraine, and Russian meddling in 2016. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

By Meg Wagner, Amanda Wills and Mike Hayes, CNN
Fact check: Maguire’s rationale for not sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress within 7 days. During the hearing, Democratic members have pressed Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire on why he did not provide the whistleblower complaint to the committee within the seven-day period required by law. As the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 states, if the Inspector General determines that the complaint is credible and of urgent concern then the DNI “shall, within 7 calendar days…forward such transmittal to the intelligence committees.” The IG determined the complaint was credible on August 26. Yet Maguire didn’t provide it to Congress until Wednesday night, September 25 -- almost a month later. Maguire claimed that because the complaint involved the President, he was required to work with the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel to determine if there was content protected by executive privilege in the complaint. "It appeared that it also had matters of executive privilege," Maguire told the committee. On September 24, the OLC issued an opinion refuting the IG’s determination that the whistleblower’s complaint was of urgent concern. Maguire said that while the complaint was forwarded to the FBI, he was attempting to work out executive privilege concerns. But the law says nothing about the President or the OLC having authority to stop or slow the complaint from being sent to the intelligence committees.

The panel of researchers has plans to continue their studies revealing that 21 million Americans live with unacceptable air pollution
An advisory panel of air pollution scientists disbanded by the Trump administration plans to continue their work with or without the US government. The researchers – from a group that reviewed the latest studies about how tiny particles of air pollution from fossil fuels make people sick – will assemble next month, a year from the day they were fired. They’ll gather in the same hotel in Washington DC and even have the same former staffer running the public meeting. Christopher Frey, a scientist from North Carolina State University who chaired the group, said 21 million Americans live with air that is dirtier than what the government deems acceptable. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting reviews to determine whether those current standards should be tightened or loosened. Frey argued Trump’s EPA has significantly weakened its science review process. “As a public service, we can still tap our expertise and develop advice which we will share with EPA,” he said. The EPA has defended the changes it has made as a drive to encourage consideration of a wider range of viewpoints. The 20-person panel with Frey will include experts in epidemiology and toxicology, as well as people experienced in clinical experiments with humans. One of the dismissed members, Doug Dockery of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, was lead author of the landmark Six Cities study that linked the particle pollution from fossil fuels, called “particulate matter”, to early deaths. Considering after-hours trading? Here's how it might effect your stock market strategy. The Trump administration is accused by at least half a dozen whistleblowers of muzzling climate and pollution science.

Trump’s administration has pursued cuts in environmental protections that are critical to the health of all Americans
Donald Trump is set to hail his administration’s “environmental leadership” on Monday in a speech in which he is expected to declare the US a world leader on the issue. But since taking office two and a half years ago, the US president has been at the helm of an administration that has pursued numerous cuts in environmental protections and last year saw a rise in greenhouse gases of 3.4% – the biggest rise in emissions since 2010. He has also regularly publicly aired his doubts over the existence of climate change – previously calling it a “hoax”, suggesting that the climate could “change back again” and falsely claiming it was a phenomenon invented by China. A report by the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at New York University’s school of law published in March said the Trump administration had “set its sights on watering down or outright repealing a half-dozen health and environmental rules critical to the health and welfare of all Americans as well as the planet”. Here are five of the biggest environmental setbacks under Trump:

By Katie Benner
WASHINGTON — At the end of August, when two top intelligence officials asked a Justice Department lawyer whether a whistle-blower’s complaint should be forwarded to Congress, they were told no, Attorney General William P. Barr and his department could handle the criminal referral against the president of the United States. About four weeks later, the department rendered its judgment: President Trump had not violated campaign finance laws when he urged Ukraine’s president to work with Mr. Barr to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The very same evidence, a reconstructed transcript of a July call between Mr. Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, has whipped Washington into an impeachment crisis in a matter of days. The sharply different responses to the call’s reconstruction, released by the White House on Wednesday, has helped further the perception that Mr. Trump regards Mr. Barr not as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer but as his political ally and legal protector.

Trump still thinks his own intelligence agencies are wrong about who hacked the DNC — and he wanted Ukraine’s help to prove it.
By Aaron Rupar
It hasn’t received as much attention as his efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son, but the “transcript” of President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also indicates that just a day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, Trump was seeking help in trying to undermine the foundations of the Russia investigation. According to the White House’s account of Trump’s July call with Zelensky, the Ukrainian president obliquely brought up military aide that the Trump administration had mysteriously put on hold just days earlier by referring to specific pieces of equipment he intended to buy once the money came through. Trump responded by telling Zelensky, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” He went on to ask him for a confusing favor related to a cybersecurity firm, a billionaire, and a computer server — but its subtext seems to be that Trump wanted help uncovering evidence that he believes would indicate that Russia was framed for hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016. “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people ... The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Trump said, according to the White House. (The ellipses are in the “transcript,” which could be benign pauses or could suggest the White House may have withheld some information, a la Attorney General William Barr’s misleading letter to Congress about the Mueller report ahead of its public release.) CrowdStrike, for those who may not remember, was the cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) used to investigate hacks against it back in 2016. It concluded that Russia was responsible, a finding later backed up by the US intelligence communities and special counsel Robert Mueller. But Trump apparently still believes that his own intelligence agencies have it wrong. CrowdStrike cooperated with the FBI’s investigation of the hacks but Trump has nonetheless repeatedly pushed baseless conspiracy theories suggesting that information was somehow withheld from the bureau because CrowdStrike didn’t turn over a physical server to the FBI, and was therefore involved in a cover-up that resulted in the Russia investigation. (This isn’t how the relevant technology works, but more on that later.)

The special envoy served as the facilitator for Giuliani's talks with Ukrainian officials.
By Josh Lederman and Kristen Welker
WASHINGTON — After President Donald Trump asked Ukraine’s president to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on a possible corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the Ukrainians turned to another American to facilitate the introduction: Ambassador Kurt Volker, Trump’s part-time envoy for Ukraine. “Ambassador Volker called me,” Giuliani told NBC News in an interview Wednesday night. Although Volker has mostly stayed under the radar since taking the job in 2017, his unusual arrangement as Trump’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations is attracting new attention amid revelations of his role in the ongoing Ukraine saga. An unpaid volunteer, Volker spends most of his time engaged in outside projects, including his work at a Washington lobbying firm that continued to represent the Government of Ukraine for almost two years after Volker started as special envoy. Volker’s role in the most recent controversy came to light as Giuliani tried to cast his efforts as fully coordinated and even prompted by the State Department. The State Department has acknowledged that it was Volker who put Giuliani “in direct contact” with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. That introduction ultimately led to a meeting between Yermak and Giuliani in Spain. But the State Department insists that Giuliani “does not speak on behalf of the U.S. government” and that he “acts in a personal capacity” as Trump’s lawyer. The State Department wouldn’t say why Volker made the introduction, other than that the Ukrainian aide requested it. In his interview with NBC News, Giuliani said that Volker called him in late July — right around the time of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky — and asked if it was all right to give Giuliani’s number to Zelensky’s aide. “I was in a unique position to help with some of the things the State Department was working on,” Giuliani said. He declined to say what it was, stating that it was “privileged,” but said it related to “corruption in the Ukraine — and not only about Biden.”

How deeply is Bill Barr entangled in Ukraine mess? Has he forgotten the rule that whatever Trump touches dies?
By Sophia Tesfaye
It’s hard to recall anything that Donald Trump has touched which initially looked bad but eventually turned out to be nothing. With Trump, things are always worse than they appear. Throughout his recent career, that has usually ended up hurting those closest to Trump more than the president himself. If that pattern holds true in the growing Ukraine scandal, then several top members of Trump’s administration should be worried right now. This is likely to get real messy before it ends. While attempting to defend himself from accusations that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for U.S. military aid during at least one phone call — a reconstructed transcript, or "memo" of which was released on Wednesday — Trump gratuitously dragged his vice president into the middle of his mess. "I think you should ask for VP Pence's conversation because he had a couple of conversations also," Trump told reporters during a news conference on the sidelines of the United Nations summit. "I could save you a lot of time. They were all perfect. Nothing was mentioned of any import other than congratulations." Of course, Trump previously described his own call with Zelensky as "perfect.” An aide to the Ukrainian president has since told ABC News that “it was clear that Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case.” Earlier this month, Pence met with Zelensky and promised to relay to Trump just how hard Ukraine was working to fight corruption — a term Trump has repeatedly used to explain his interest in getting Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was formerly employed by a Ukrainian gas company. When Pence was asked if U.S. aid was being held up over Ukraine’s failure to investigate Biden, he acknowledged that “as President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.” A week after Pence met with Zelensky, U.S. military aid was finally released to Ukraine.

After hosting Napolitano to discuss the White House’s release of memo that described Trump’s call, Smith addressed diGenova’s comments. And he didn’t hold back.
By Justin Baragona
Fox News anchor Shep Smith took aim Wednesday at Trump ally and frequent Fox News guest Joe diGenova for calling his colleague, senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, a “fool” during a Tuesday night appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Napolitano declared on Tuesday that Trump effectively admitted to committing a crime with his phone call to the Ukrainian president. That evening, diGenova went off on the judge while reacting to his analysis.

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