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US Monthly Headline News October 2019 Page 2

By Paul Brandus
The Russians attacked us. If the commander in chief who swore to defend us said it didn't bother him, this was 'giving them aid and comfort.' Let’s say we had a president who did the following: Redistributed wealth by taxing the rich and giving to the poor. Boosted entitlements. Signed a law to strengthen workplace safety. Poured money into cleaning up the environment. Even helped finance National Public Radio. Liberals would be pleased, right? We did have such a president. His name was Richard Nixon. Of course, all this is largely forgotten today, overshadowed by Nixon’s involvement in Watergate — the scandal that drove him from office in 1974, as impeachment and possibly even Senate conviction were nipping at his heels. Because of this mixed legacy, Nixon ranks as the 28th best president (or the 16th worst, depending on how you look at it) in a 2017 C-SPAN survey of historians. In 10 categories, he scores near the middle for most, though 10th for “International Relations.” But in terms of “Moral Authority” he’s near the bottom, ranked 42nd. Lying to the American people and covering up a Constitution-shredding crime will do that to a guy. How will historians rate Trump? President Donald Trump will be included in the next survey, which is taken every time we have a new president. Where do you think he'll rank? For starters, let's compare his actions with all the Nixon accomplishments mentioned above. Trump is the anti-Nixon. After lying through his teeth in 2017 about how “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan," he gave them (and himself) a huge tax break. Entitlements? He has reportedly told Senate Republicans that cutting Social Security and Medicare could be a second-term project. We got a preview of his plans to do just that in his 2020 budget blueprint in which he proposed cuts. Funny, Trump likes to run his mouth on Twitter and at his rallies, but this is something he hasn’t blabbed to his wide-eyed, believe-whatever-he-says base. Strengthen workplace safety? “We want to protect our workers,” Trump said in 2017. But that was another lie. His administration has rolled back worker protections, making already dangerous jobs like coal mining, working on oil rigs and in meat processing plants even more so. Overall, "they've done more things to hurt workers than they have to help them. And that's unfortunate," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said last month on Fox News Sunday. Trump vs. Nixon is no contest And cleaning up the environment? Nixon proposed a new Environmental Protection Agency in July 1970, and it began operations five months later. Trump has gutted it, and when he brags about all the regulations he has cut — to the wild applause of his base — what he’s not telling them is that he is endangering the air they breathe and the water they drink. They applaud and then go home, apparently oblivious to the 85 (and counting) rules he has rolled back. Air pollution, water pollution, toxic substances, on and on and on. There's more, but you get the point: Trump is worse than Nixon. And I haven't even gotten to the scandals. What Trump has done is far more damaging to our country. To me, it can be summed up from just one event: his infamous meeting in the Oval Office in May 2017 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It was bad enough that Trump revealed highly classified information that, according to two unnamed officials cited in The New York Times, exposed an intelligence source in the Middle East. But we’ve since learned — based on three sources obtained by The Washington Post — that Trump told his Kremlin guests he didn't care that the Russians had interfered in our 2016 election. more...

President Donald Trump called for Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden
By Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller
Ensnarled in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump Thursday called on another nation to probe former Vice President Joe Biden: China. “China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in remarks to reporters outside the White House. Trump said he hadn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Biden and his son Hunter but said it’s "certainly something we could start thinking about.” Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence that the former vice president benefited financially from his son’s business relationships. Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden, as well as Giuliani’s conduct, are at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week. more... - It is against the law to seek help from a foreign government to win an election, but Trump does not care. Trump is once again seeking help from foreign government to win an election, same as he did in the 2016 elections. That should scare the hell out of all Americans that the president of the United States is seeking foreign help to defeat a political rival. Trump and Republicans should worry they might investigate them and used what they find to help the Democrats.

By QUINT FORGEY
Australia’s ambassador to the U.S. confirmed to Sen. Lindsey Graham that the Australian government is assisting Attorney General William Barr’s investigation of foreign interference in the 2016 election — but disputed the lawmaker’s reference to an Australian diplomat involved in the Russia probe’s origins. Graham on Wednesday had asked the prime ministers of Australia, Italy and Britain to continue to aid Barr in his inquiry, which critics say represents another effort by President Donald Trump to discredit the work of former special counsel Robert Mueller. “It appears that the United States law enforcement and intelligence communities relied on foreign intelligence as part of their efforts to investigate and monitor the 2016 presidential election,” the South Carolina Republican wrote in his letter to the leaders. Graham added that those efforts by American officials included “accepting information from an Australian diplomat who was … directed to contact [Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George] Papadopoulos and relay information obtained from Papadopoulos regarding the campaign to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” It has been reported that Papadopoulos had revealed to an Australian diplomat, believed to be Alexander Downer, details of his April 2016 conversations with Josef Mifsud, a London-based professor with ties to the Kremlin. Mifsud allegedly told Papadopoulos that Moscow had “thousands of emails” damaging to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In a letter responding to Graham dated Wednesday, Ambassador Joe Hockey wrote that the Australian government “is cooperating” with Barr’s inquiry and has “been public about our willingness to cooperate.” Hockey added: “In your letter you made mention of the role of an Australian diplomat. We reject your characterisation of his role.” more... - Its official Lindsey Graham is carrying the water for Trump.

By Justin Wise
A satirical advertisement that says "Need A Lawyer? Call Crazy Rudy" has been spotted on a New York City subway train. The ad takes direct aim at President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and includes an image of the former New York mayor with a wide-eyed expression. The satirical advertisement was first spotted on one of the city's subway trains Tuesday afternoon, according to The New York Daily News. A photo of the blue-banner shows Giuliani alongside a list of legal services, which include "back-channel deals" and "cable news appearances." The ad also declares that Giuliani "has no shame" and "will work for free!" The website listed on the advertisement directs to a page that says the "law offices of Crazy Rudy Giuliani" are in Washington, D.C. It is unclear who is behind the advertisement and website. After dialing a phone number listed on the site, a voicemail said: “You’ve called the law offices of Crazy Rudy! We specialize in back-channel deals, cable news appearances and will work when drunk." No one immediately returned The Hill's request for comment on the advertisement. more...

By Molly Olmstead
Liberty University, the Evangelical Christian college run by Jerry Falwell Jr., has hired a disgraced former reporter who was fired for making racist remarks. The reporter, Emily Austen, lost her job at Fox Sports in Florida in 2016 when she appeared on a Barstool Sports broadcast. On that appearance, she repeatedly called Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love a “little bitch,” remarked that the “Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class,” and said she “didn’t even know that Mexicans were that smart.” She also discussed “Jews in Boca” who “bitched about everything” and were “stingy.” The university announced the hiring Wednesday night on its Facebook page. Austen will join the staff of the university’s “Game On” sports program as an anchor and reporter. “This is much more than a second chance at my ‘dream career,’” Austen said in the university’s statement. “I am here to honor God, share the Gospel through athletics, and promote Liberty student-athletes, coaches and staff and their walks with Christ.” Her hiring is latest one by the university to involve officials who lost their jobs for offensive or neglectful actions. In 2016, Liberty hired Ian McCaw, who oversaw Baylor University’s athletic department during its infamous scandal involving athletes who committed numerous sexual assaults. McCaw faced allegations he swept away reports of sexual violence by players and failed to protect women at the university from players who were known to be predators. Baylor’s Board of Regents told the Wall Street Journal in 2016 that 17 women had been the victim of assaults (including gang rapes) by 19 players since 2011, and a lawsuit alleged 52 rapes by 31 players between 2011 and 2014. The law firm Pepper Hamilton, which held an independent investigation of the program, found “a failure to…take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players.” McCaw resigned in May 2016. Liberty hired him as its athletic director that November, even as he continued to defend himself against lawsuits. more...

Ashley Boucher - People
Tushar Atre, the Santa Cruz-based tech executive who was kidnapped from his home on Tuesday, is dead. Hours after Atre was taken from his home early Tuesday morning, sheriff’s deputies found the white BMW he was last seen in, along with a dead body, miles inland from his coastal home. While authorities did not identify the body on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office confirmed that it was Atre on Wednesday. “That person has now been identified as 50-year-old Santa Cruz County resident, Tushar Atre,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday. “The investigation is still ongoing, but we have reason to believe the motive was robbery,” the statement continued. Atre lived on the scenic Pleasure Point Drive, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz, and where homes are listed on Zillow for nearly two million dollars. After the sheriff’s office updated a previous post about the kidnapping on Facebook, grief-filled messages began pouring in. “RIP sweet friend,” one person commented. Another commented with the question, “What the hell is happening to our lovely beach town???” Atre is the owner of Atrenet, which according to the company’s LinkedIn page has “been serving the web design and development needs of many of the most innovative and successful high tech companies in Silicon Valley since 1996.” From Atre’s online presence, the New York University graduate was a lover of the outdoors, surfing and had been called “one of a kind” by clients endorsing him on LinkedIn. He also wrote several blog posts for Atrenet’s website. more...

By Hannah Knowles
CHARLOTTESVILLE — A Monticello tour guide was explaining earlier this summer how enslaved people built, planted and tended a terrace of vegetables at Thomas Jefferson’s estate when a woman interrupted to share her annoyance. “Why are you talking about that?” she demanded, according to Gary Sandling, vice president of Monticello’s visitor programs and services. “You should be talking about the plants." At Monticello, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and other plantations across the South, an effort is underway to deal more honestly with the brutal institution that the Founding Fathers relied on to build their homes and their wealth: slavery. Four hundred years after the first enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia, some sites are also connecting that ugly past to modern-day racism and inequality. The changes have begun to draw people long alienated by the sites’ whitewashing of the past and to satisfy what staff call a hunger for real history, as plantations add slavery-focused tours, rebuild cabins and reconstruct the lives of the enslaved with help from their descendants. But some visitors, who remain overwhelmingly white, are pushing back, and the very mention of slavery and its impacts on the United States can bring accusations of playing politics. “We’re at a very polarized, partisan political moment in our country, and not surprisingly, when we are in those moments, history becomes equally polarized,” Sandling said. The backlash is reflected in some online reviews of plantations, including McLeod in Charleston, S.C., where one visitor complained earlier this summer that she “didn’t come to hear a lecture on how the white people treated slaves.” The review sparked shock as it made rounds on the Internet. But stories of guests’ discomfort are familiar to many on the front lines at historical sites steeped in slavery: the tour guides, reenactors and other staff with an up-close view of how Americans think and talk about a shameful past. A shifting message: There was a time when visitors “would not have heard the word ‘slave’ in this house,” David Ronka said early on in a 105-minute dive into the lives of the best-known enslaved family at Monticello, the Hemingses. Visitors might have heard references to “Mr. Jefferson’s people,” said the veteran guide. Or maybe “the souls of his family,” a phrase from the author of the Declaration of Independence who owned more than 600 enslaved people over his lifetime. Now, Monticello’s guides, called “interpreters,” tell their nearly half a million visitors a year about “enslaved people.” “Slave” is a noun, Ronka said as other tour groups’ footsteps shuffled overhead. “Enslaved” is a condition, he added: a way to talk about people defined by more than their bondage. “We’ve been waiting, you know, for this story, for this amount of truth about the past,” said Niya Bates, Monticello’s director of African American history. The truth came gradually, starting in the 1990s with an effort to gather oral histories and a tour on slavery. Last year, Monticello opened a room once home to Sally Hemings amid growing evidence that Jefferson fathered her children. Interpreters talk about what Ronka calls the “central irony” of the nation’s third president, who said he hated slavery, at some points advocating against it, but freed just seven of the hundreds of men and women he owned. more...

By Zack Budryk
The Dallas police department will soon conduct an internal investigation into police behavior exposed in the trial of former officer Amber Guyger, who was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean. "I can only imagine the community's perception of who we are as a Dallas police department and, if we're truly honest with one another, what law enforcement is or who law enforcement is across this country," Chief U. Reneé Hall said in a press conference shortly after the sentencing, adding that an internal investigation is in the works, according to The Texas Tribune. Evidence presented at the trial included texts from Guyger joking about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and discriminatory comments about black officers. Hall said the evidence was not "reflective of the men and women of the Dallas Police Department” but said the internal affairs division would investigate the testimony and make any necessary recommendations on structural changes. Guyger was found guilty in the fatal shooting of Jean, a black man whose home she entered last year. more...

By Marina Pitofsky
Footage of former President Obama mocking Republicans by suggesting they would want to build a moat between the U.S. and Mexico resurfaced this week, after media reports emerged that President Trump had asked aides about the possibility of a moat filled with alligators or snakes on the southern border. “This was literally a joke that Obama used in 2011 to mock Republicans on border security,” former Obama speechwriter and “Pod Save America” podcast host Jon Favreau tweeted Tuesday night, linking to a CBS News article on a speech Obama gave at the time saying that Republicans would “never be satisfied” with his administration’s border security policies. more...

Local officials deny the claims. The notice is the latest salvo in a feud between the Trump administration and Democrat-controlled California.
By Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration ratcheted up its feud with California on Wednesday as the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice accusing San Francisco of violating the federal Clean Water Act. Last month, President Donald Trump warned of a potential violation notice, saying the city was allowing needles and human waste to go through storm drains to the Pacific Ocean — an allegation fervently denied by city officials. The violation notice came in the form of a letter to Harlan Kelly, Jr., general manager of the city’s Public Utilities Commission. It said the EPA had identified violations in the city and county wastewater treatment and sewer system, including lack of proper operation and maintenance that has allowed raw and partially-treated sewage to flow onto beaches into the ocean and sometimes into streets and homes. The letter alleged that some discharges contained heavy metals and bacteria and said the city hasn’t kept up proper cleaning, inspection and repair schedules for the system nor properly reported or issued public warnings for sewage diversions. It’s the latest salvo in a feud between the administration and Democrat-controlled California, which has filed more than 50 lawsuits opposing Trump initiatives on the environment, immigration and health care. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom last week alleging waste left by the homeless in big cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles was being improperly handled. more...

By Michele Kelemen
On paper, Kurt Volker's job in the Trump administration was to support Ukraine and help end a war started by Russia in the east of the former Soviet Republic. Volker is now caught up in a political battle at home over President Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Volker will be deposed Thursday behind closed doors as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Volker, 54, was a career diplomat who focused on Europe and was tapped by then-President George W. Bush in 2008 to serve as the U.S. ambassador to NATO, a position he held for less than a year. By the time Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and sent troops to foment an uprising in eastern Ukraine, Volker was out of government, running the McCain Institute, a think tank in Washington run by Arizona State University. He was critical of the Obama administration's approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression. "The most frequent phrase you hear out of mouths now is there is no military solution, and I think we just have to reject that," he told NPR in a 2015 interview. "We are seeing a military solution play out before our eyes on the ground in Ukraine, and it happens to be one that we don't like. It's Putin's military solution." Volker returned to the State Department in July 2017 when he was tapped by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to serve as U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations. Andrew Weiss, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Volker was an unlikely fit in the Trump administration. "It was indicative of just how hard it was to get credentialed middle-of-the-road or right-of-center Republicans to serve in this administration," Weiss said. "So there was a real shortage of talented experienced people coming in. Kurt was one of the exceptions to that." Kurt was appointed with a specific role in mind, Weiss said: halting the conflict in eastern Ukraine. But that mandate broadened over time. "He ended up having a far wider portfolio that involved running U.S. policy on Ukraine writ large," Weiss said. more...

By Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – An aide to Vice President Mike Pence listened in on the phone call by the president that sparked an impeachment inquiry, the Washington Post reported in an article Wednesday that provides new details on Pence's involvement in the controversy. The report said President Donald Trump used Pence in his attempt to pressure the new Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, but is not conclusive on how much Pence knew about Trump's efforts. Pence's spokeswoman, Katie Waldman, dismissed the article as an attempt to "glorify a grand conspiracy being concocted by a select number of disgruntled former employees." Waldman said Pence's actions vindicate the administration by showing that Ukraine received military aid after Pence "directly and effectively delivered the president's anti-corruption and European burden sharing messages" to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a September meeting. But the vice president's office declined to comment on whether Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, listened to the Zelensky call.ffice declined to comment on whether Pence's national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, listened to the Zelensky call. House Democrats on Wednesday threatened to subpoena the White House if it doesn't turn over by Friday a host of documents that include any communication Pence's office had about the July call with Zelensky. Democrats also want information on Trump's decision not to send Pence to Zelensky's May inauguration and information on Pence's meeting with Zelensky during a trip to Poland in September. more...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once accused the Obama administration of obstructing a House inquiry and letting politics override national interests. He now faces similar charges.
By Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger
WASHINGTON — As a member of Congress, Mike Pompeo drove the Republican inquiry into the killing of a United States ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and made clear there was no place for politics in American diplomacy. Nor, he said, would he tolerate “dithering” by an Obama administration State Department that he called “deeply obstructive of getting the American people the facts that they needed.” Now, as secretary of state, Mr. Pompeo is facing a political crisis that directly challenges his leadership of the department he once excoriated. He is accused by House Democrats of blocking their impeachment inquiry by resisting the release of information to Congress that may shed light on the Trump administration’s shadow foreign policy with Ukraine. And career diplomats, some of whom blame the Trump administration for dismembering the Foreign Service and undercutting American diplomacy, are expected to be among the first witnesses telling their stories to Congress during its inquiry. “In many ways this seems to be a situation where he’s reaping what he sowed,” said Derek Chollet, the executive vice president of the German Marshall Fund, who served in both the State and Defense Departments under President Barack Obama. During the Benghazi hearings in 2016, Mr. Pompeo bombarded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with questions about whether the State Department had failed to put adequate security on the ground, leading to the death of an American ambassador. Now Mr. Pompeo is being asked whether his State Department was part of an effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The details are different, but lawmakers in both cases accused the State Department of obstruction and not supporting its diplomats. With the tables turned,  the House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected on Thursday to query  Kurt D. Volker, a longtime diplomat, former ambassador to NATO and, until last week, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine. Mr. Volker is the man who put Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in touch with the new government in Kiev, though he appeared to have deep reservations about how Ukraine policy was veering off course. His testimony is expected to be followed over the coming days by that of Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled early as the American ambassador to Ukraine and dismissed by Mr. Trump as “bad news,” someone he promised would “go through some things.” Both will be asked whether they had evidence that Mr. Trump or his representatives were dangling American support — and suspending congressionally approved military assistance — to get political dirt from the Ukrainian government to undercut the presidential campaign of Mr. Biden. more...

The president lashed out at Hill Democrats as House leaders announced a fresh round of potential White House subpoenas.
By Shannon Pettypiece and Adam Edelman
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's growing frustration with Democrats' amped up impeachment efforts was on stark public display Wednesday as he spent the day openly raging against the media and his political rivals. In the stretch of a few hours, Trump called Democratic impeachment efforts "BULLSHIT," got into a verbal altercation with a reporter during a press conference, and delivered unfounded claims about his political rivals. His anger was visible — his face flushed at times, his voice raised, his gestures increasingly animated. “Nancy Pelosi and shifty Schiff, who should resign in disgrace, and Jerry Nadler and all of them, it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” the president said at a White House event, the visiting Finnish president by his side. “They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I’ve been going through this for three years.” Trump's advisers have looked to downplay the seriousness of the impeachment threat, with his lawyer Jay Sekulow describing it as a "skirmish" and counselor Kellyanne Conway saying the White House doesn't need a war room, since the president is "the most battle-tested person I've ever met." Still, Trump's sharp reactions Wednesday suggested the process might be having an impact. The day started with Democrats outlining the next steps in their impeachment efforts, and signaling that the White House's refusal to comply with their requests would be used as evidence against him. That sparked a tweetstorm from Trump moments in which he called House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a “low life,” blamed declines in the stock market on the Democratic impeachment efforts and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening to his phone calls. “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016,” Trump tweeted as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill. “[G]et a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!" he added. more...

By Jordain Carney
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is urging three foreign governments to cooperate with the Justice Department probe into the origins of the Russia investigation. Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter on Wednesday to the governments of Italy, Australia and the United Kingdom defending outreach from Attorney General William Barr as part of the investigation. "That the attorney general is holding meetings with your countries to aid in the Justice Department's investigation of what happened is well within the bounds of his normal activities. He is simply doing his job," Graham wrote in the letter. He added that he was requesting "your country's continued cooperation with Attorney General Barr as the Department of Justice continues to investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election." Graham noted in his letter that "it appears" the United States used "foreign intelligence as part of their efforts to investigate and monitor the 2016 election." Graham had said earlier this week that he was planning to send the letters in the wake of The New York Times reporting that Trump had reached out to the Australian government to assist Barr as part of the Justice Department's investigation. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed the report. more...

By Jessica Campisi
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s federal security detail is reportedly expected to cost U.S. taxpayers more than $26 million by the end of President Trump’s first term. The total cost of DeVos’s security detail for fiscal 2019 came out to $6.24 million, marking a lower amount from the U.S. Marshals Service’s projection of $7.74 million and a decrease from the $6.79 million total in fiscal 2018, Politico reports. Her security detail is projected to total nearly $7.9 million between now and the end of September 2020, a U.S. Marshals Service spokesperson told Politico. It is unclear why the agency’s projection increased for the following fiscal year. The service did not disclose the number of officials who make up the detail but added that it is “commensurate with the existing threat and based on USMS protective service requirements, experience and methodology.” The service “regularly conducts threat assessments on Ms. DeVos to determine threats to the secretary’s safety,” according to an official statement obtained by Politico. It’s rare for cabinet members in a president’s administration to receive a security detail from the Marshals Service, as these officials typically get protection through their own agencies, Politico notes. more...

Reuters
By Noel Randewich
Oct 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes suffered their sharpest one-day declines in nearly six weeks on Wednesday after employment and manufacturing data suggested that the U.S.-China trade war is taking an increasing toll on the U.S. economy. Adding to trade concerns, the United States won approval on Wednesday to levy import tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European goods over illegal EU subsidies handed to Airbus , threatening to trigger a tit-for-tat transatlantic trade war. All 11 major S&P sector indexes fell, with energy and financials each down more than 2%. The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls growth in August was not as strong as previously estimated, and said "businesses have turned more cautious in their hiring," with small enterprises becoming "especially hesitant." That added to fears sparked on Tuesday when a report showed U.S. factory activity contracted to its lowest level in more than a decade. "The fact the manufacturing side of the economy in the U.S. and globally is doing badly shouldn't come as a newsflash to anybody. But the extent of the miss yesterday is something that's driven this two-day move," said Greg Boutle, head of U.S. equity and derivative strategy at BNP Paribas. The recent weak data has shaken investor faith in the strength of the domestic economy, which had shown relative resilience in the face of slowing global growth. Confidence in the U.S. economy has helped support Wall Street this year. more...

By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Ashley Parker
President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said. Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said. Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information about Biden and his son, who had served on the board of an obscure Ukrainian gas company, when his father was overseeing U.S. policy on Ukraine. Pence’s activities occurred amid several indications of the president’s hidden agenda. Among them were the abrupt removal of the U.S. ambassador to Kiev; the visible efforts by the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to insert himself in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship; as well as alarms being raised inside the White House even before the emergence of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint about Trump’s conduct. Perhaps most significantly, one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours, officials said. Trump’s deployment of Pence is part of a broader pattern of using both executive authority and high-ranking officials in his administration to advance his personal or political interests — even in cases when those subordinates appear not to know that another agenda is in play. Officials close to Pence contend that he traveled to Warsaw for a meeting with Zelensky on Sept. 1 probably without having read — or at least fully registered — the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine. White House officials said that Pence likely would have received the detailed notes of the president’s call in his briefing book on July 26.The five-page document also should have been part of the briefing materials he took with him to Warsaw to prepare for the meeting, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Washington, DC (CNN) - It ain't easy being friends with Donald Trump.
Australia, Britain, and Italy are being sucked into the conspiracy-filled quagmire of impeachment-era Washington, after Trump and his Attorney General William Barr reportedly leaned on friendly governments to assist a probe widely seen as intended to discredit the FBI's investigation into the 2016 elections. Trump enlisted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's help over the phone, and now he's already under fire at home.** Critics say his desperation to be mates with Trump is taking Australia into dangerous territory, and the flap has limited Morrison's political dividend from his big state dinner at the White House last month. Normally there'd be nothing to see here -- US attorneys general huddle with foreign counterparts all the time. But Trump and Barr appear to be chasing a conservative media concoction that US allies plotted with rogue American spies to thwart him in the 2016 elections (a claim shot down by the British government in 2017.) This puts allied leaders in a tough position -- right next to Ukraine, whose President was also asked by Trump to investigate multiple unsubstantiated theories. All must choose between playing along with a powerful and vengeful US President, or risk permanent damage to their national interests in the fetid swamp of Washington politics. And those are just the countries we know about. **Morrison is on the spot because back in 2016, a Trump campaign aide told an Australian diplomat rumors about alleged dirt from Hillary Clinton's emails. The diplomat passed the tip back to US intelligence and the rest is history. "You're making me look like an idiot!" That's Donald Trump back in March, shouting during a panicked meeting over migration, according to the New York Times. The report says Trump also speculated over shooting migrants in the legs. At that same meeting, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner tried to reason with the President. "All you care about is your friends in Mexico," the President reportedly responded. more...

By TED HESSON
A proposed rule that recently completed review at the White House budget office will provide a framework for the broad collection of DNA from immigration detainees, a senior Homeland Security Department official told reporters Wednesday. The proposed rule, developed by the Justice Department, comes after the Office of Special Counsel found that federal border officials failed to collect DNA samples from detained criminal immigrants as required under federal law. The letter, sent by Special Counsel Henry Kerner in August, said that federal law enforcement agencies are required to obtain samples from detainees under the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005. more...

The president lashed out at Hill Democrats as House leaders announced a fresh round of potential White House subpoenas.
By Shannon Pettypiece and Adam Edelman
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's growing frustration with Democrats' amped up impeachment efforts was on stark public display Wednesday as he spent the day openly raging against the media and his political rivals. In the stretch of a few hours, Trump called Democratic impeachment efforts "BULLSHIT," got into a verbal altercation with a reporter during a press conference, and delivered unfounded claims about his political rivals. His anger was visible — his face flushed at times, his voice raised, his gestures increasingly animated. “Nancy Pelosi and shifty Schiff, who should resign in disgrace, and Jerry Nadler and all of them, it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” the president said at a White House event, the visiting Finnish president by his side. “They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I’ve been going through this for three years.” Trump's advisers have looked to downplay the seriousness of the impeachment threat, with his lawyer Jay Sekulow describing it as a "skirmish" and counselor Kellyanne Conway saying the White House doesn't need a war room, since the president is "the most battle-tested person I've ever met." Still, Trump's sharp reactions Wednesday suggested the process might be having an impact. The day started with Democrats outlining the next steps in their impeachment efforts, and signaling that the White House's refusal to comply with their requests would be used as evidence against him. That sparked a tweetstorm from Trump moments in which he called House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a “low life,” blamed declines in the stock market on the Democratic impeachment efforts and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening to his phone calls. “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016,” Trump tweeted as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill. more...

By Jon HealeyDeputy Editorial Page Editor
Not for the first time in his tenure, President Trump is accusing his critics of trying to stage a coup. And not for the first time, he is betraying a fundamental misunderstanding not only of what a coup is, but also of what the presidency is. He’s not alone on this; some of his supporters have floated the “coup” idea on Fox News and other sympathetic media outlets, to attack the legitimacy of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and now the impeachment inquiry soft-launched by House Democrats in the wake of a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s July 25 call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (For those who’ve spent the last two weeks in a medically induced coma, Trump asked Zelensky for “a favor” that involved investigating Trump’s potential 2020 rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son, as well as helping pursue a bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory meant to discredit Mueller’s findings, in particular the one about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign.) This is so sad. The point of a coup d'état is to replace one government with another. In banana republics run by strongmen, that’s a matter of ousting one guy, typically one who likes to wear a uniform adorned with medals. In this country, however, the end result of an impeachment is the congressional equivalent of an indictment. And even if the Senate convicts and removes the president from office — something that has never happened — the office will be filled by the vice president from the same party. In other words, impeachment isn’t designed to change who holds the reins in the federal government. It’s designed to hold individuals accountable for bad behavior, whether it be corrupt acts or abuses of power. more...

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday defended President Trump over accusations the U.S. leader pressured Kiev to dig up dirt on a rival, saying there was "nothing compromising" in transcripts of the call. more... - Is Putin defending a Russian asset?

Why did it take a whistleblower to get our attention?
The Ukraine whistleblower illuminated and solidified a story that was buried in reports dating several months back. more...

A conspiracy theory about the "deep state" got shared widely by the president and his supporters.
By Bethania Palma
The intelligence community "secretly eliminated" a requirement that whistleblowers provide firsthand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings, allowing the complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine to be filed is a false claim made by Trump and conspiracy theorist. In September 2019, whistleblower allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump held back military aid to Ukraine in an effort to obtain damaging information on a political rival led to an impeachment inquiry and an ongoing scandal. It wouldn’t be the 2010s if the fallout didn’t include a conspiracy theory circulating in the right-wing media ecosystem. In this case, the conspiracy theory was given a major platform in the form of a tweet by Trump that his supporters widely shared: The claim originated on The Federalist website, which published a story on Sept. 27 that was not only inaccurate but played on the “deep state” conspiracy theory, an idea now popular among both fringe fanatics and White House officials alike. It posits that U.S. intelligence agencies are scheming against Trump. The Federalist story implied that the intelligence community changed existing rules so that the “anti-Trump complaint” could be filed on Aug. 12 using secondhand information. “Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings,” The Federalist reported. more...

ABC News - The president called the impeachment inquiry a "coup" and demanded to interview the whistleblower as new documents on Ukraine are expected to be given to Congress. more... - Trump is willing to put someone’s life in jeopardy to protect himself. Trump may not care but it is the law you cannot go after whistleblowers. Trump has once again shows us he does care about our laws when it comes to himself.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - In a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked his counterpart to look into debunked allegations of corruption by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. This is a fact. The Truth. How do we know? Because the White House released a rough transcript of the conversation last week in which Trump said this: "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me." See, it's right there. In the transcript the White House released itself. All of which makes this next fact absolutely mystifying and terrifying: In a new national Monmouth University poll just four in 10 self-identified Republicans believe that Trump mentioned Biden in his call with Zelensky. Are. You. Kidding. Me. It is right there in the transcript that the WHITE HOUSE released of the call! Remember that we aren't talking here about whether Trump pressured Zelensky to look into the Bidens. He did, but there is a little bit of wiggle room there in that Trump didn't say "Unless you do this, I will withhold military aid from you." This poll question deals only with whether Trump actually mentioned Biden's name in the call. Which he 100% did! How can so many Republicans say he didn't? Because Trump has conditioned them to not believe things that are, quite literally, right in front of their faces. "Stick with us," Trump told a group of veterans last July. "Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. ... What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening." When you consider that the American President actually told people that "what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening," this poll finding doesn't seem so unbelievable. The primary work of Trump's candidacy -- and his presidency -- has been to erode the idea that objective truth exists. This is an administration that said the words "alternative facts" with a straight face. And a President who has misled or lied more than 12,000 times in his tenure in the White House. Virtually every day, Trump takes to Twitter to push ideas that are simply and provably false. No independent fact checker gives credence to the idea that Joe Biden called for the firing of Ukraine's top prosecutor to avoid an investigation into his son. There is zero evidence that the whistleblower in this Ukraine story is either a) a partisan or b) already proven wrong in his or her claims. (If anything, the whistleblower's credibility has gone up of late -- as his/her recounting of the Ukraine call was very, very close to the rough transcript released by the White House.) more...

By Nathan Hodge, Olga Pavlova and Mary Ilyushina, CNN
Moscow (CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin poked fun at the ongoing political crisis in the US by joking about election meddling Wednesday.
When asked about concerns the Russia might interfere in the 2020 US elections, he replied: "I'll tell you a secret: Yes, we'll definitely do it," Putin said. "Just don't tell anyone," he added, in a stage whisper. Putin was appearing on a panel at Russian Energy Week, along with OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo and others. "You know, we have enough of our own problems," Putin continued. "We are engaged in resolving internal problems and are primarily focused on this." Moscow 'asked US to release details of conversation' Putin also commented on the scandal surrounding US President Donald Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying Moscow asked the White House to release details of his 2018 conversation with Trump in Helsinki. "Look, I haven't been president all my life, but my previous life taught me that any of my conversation can become public," said Putin when asked to about the Trump-Ukraine scandal and ensuing impeachment inquiry. "I always proceed from this." more...

CNN - Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tells CNN's Jake Tapper that President Trump has been "very abusive" of the Whistleblower Protection Act and that his rhetoric is on the verge of "bringing harm" to the whistleblower that raised concerns about a phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian President. more....

CNN - President Donald Trump scolded a reporter after he repeatedly asked Trump about his goal of speaking to the Ukrainians about presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. more...

MSNBC - A top Trump 2020 aide, Marc Lotter, is questioned about Trump’s Ukraine collusion plot against Joe Biden, his remarks about treating whistleblowers as traitors, whether Trump campaign staff would take foreign help – a crime – and whether the Trump campaign stands by Corey Lewandowski’s admission that he lies to the press and has no obligation to tell the truth in the future. The “cross examination” interview was with MSNBC anchor Ari Melber, on the day of the explosive release of a whistleblower complaint that Trump abused his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election”. more...

By Terry Gross
President Trump made building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign. But when, after the election, efforts to build the wall stalled, he turned to other possible options — including constructing a trench filled with snakes and alligators — according to a forthcoming book. "He would raise this idea of a trench — and [that] maybe we could have a water-filled trench," New York Times journalist Julie Hirschfeld Davis told Fresh Air on Wednesday. "And he raised [the idea] so many times that actually his aides finally went and got a cost estimate for what a trench would cost." Davis notes that thoughts of a border trench were cast aside after it was estimated that it would cost three times as much as a wall. Davis and her Times colleague Michael Shear have covered the Trump administration from its earliest days. They chronicle the president's attempts to upend the nation's immigration system in their new book, Border Wars: Inside Trump's Assault on Immigration, publishing on Oct. 8. more...

Opinion by John Dean
(CNN) - Let me tell you how it used to be for a White House whistleblower.
In 1973, a few weeks before my testimony to the Senate Watergate Committee, the chairman, Sam Ervin of North Carolina, became concerned for my safety. There had been a steady stream of death threats against me that he felt could not be ignored. The committee had thought the Capitol Police could protect me during the hearings, but Ervin did not think that was enough. He talked with the newly appointed Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, about the situation. There was a relatively new program, authorized in 1970, to protect federal witnesses. It was run by the US Marshals Service, an agency of the Justice Department, which reported to President Richard Nixon. Ervin and the attorney general, Elliot Richardson, were confident that even though I would be a witness against the President, the marshals would protect both my safety and privacy. My wife and I agreed. I was under the protection of two marshals, sometimes 24/7, for the next 18 months. Those marshals were consummate professionals, and I am sure their successors are, too. The Marshals Service is an organization that takes great pride in its quiet but effective work. Now we have a different president and a different whistleblower. President Trump says he wants to find out who it is -- the person who filed a seven-page complaint in August accusing the President of "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." But thanks to the Whistleblower Protection Act, Trump has no legal right to know this person's name. Attorney General William Barr, who was named in the telephone call by President Trump as well as in the whistleblower complaint, has refused to recuse himself from this matter. So his shadow hangs large over the Department of Justice's dealing with the whistleblower. The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, investigated the complaint and found it "credible" and also of "urgent concern" -- a term employed by the Whistleblower Protection Act to designate a "serious or flagrant problem, abuse, [or] violation of law or Executive Order...." When the Acting Director of National Intelligence requested advice from Barr's Justice Department on Atkinson's conclusion, the department disagreed. It decided that the WPA did not apply and that the case should not be criminally investigated. This is deeply troubling, given that Barr is so prominent in these documents, and that the Justice Department's reasoning so severely strains credulity. On their face, the actions reported by the whistleblower and the rough transcript of Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky look like bribery and extortion and campaign law violations. Trump, who was withholding some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine at the time of his call, asked Zelensky for a "favor" -- help in investigating a discredited right-wing conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's email servers. more...

By Rebecca Beitsch
Federal judges dealt a blow to the Trump administration late Tuesday, finding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t done enough to limit cross-state air pollution. A panel of judges for the D.C. Circuit Court, which includes a Trump appointee, ordered the EPA to come up with a new plan for how to address smog that travels to the densely populated Northeast, where states are failing to meet federal air quality standards. The decision follows a similar ruling in a Wisconsin case a few weeks ago that said the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor provision” compels EPA action. The states that brought the case — New York, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware — argue the EPA hasn’t done enough to help them meet a 2021 deadline for reducing ozone pollution, more commonly referred to as smog. The EPA argued states are on track to meet those standards by 2023. “Those states pointed out to the court that it was irrelevant and insufficient for EPA to say ozone levels would be reduced sufficiently by 2023 because of course there is a two year disconnect,” said John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. An EPA spokesperson said, “We are reviewing the opinion.” Walke said the EPA historically has required downwind states to install better pollution control on coal burning power plants. But this decision comes as the EPA is facing other legal challenges after replacing an Obama-era power plant pollution rule with one that critics say does almost nothing to stem pollution. more...

By Jacob Pramuk, Kayla Tausche
The U.S. will impose tariffs on European Union products following a victory at the World Trade Organization, according to senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The USTR plans to release a product list as early as Wednesday night. The duties would take effect Oct. 18. The U.S. is expected to add a 10% tariff on EU aircraft and a 25% duty on agricultural and other products, according to the officials. Earlier, the WTO gave the Trump administration the right to put tariffs on $7.5 billion in European goods. The U.S. had lodged complaints, first in 2004, over what it called illegal subsidies for aircraft maker Airbus by several European governments. U.S. officials argue the EU has “no basis” to retaliate against the planned duties. The two sides plan to meet for trade talks on Oct. 14. The action escalates conflicts the Trump administration has waged around the globe as it tries to get major trade partners to change their practices. The U.S. is locked in a trade war with China as it struggles to strike a new agreement with the world’s second largest economy. The news of a widening trade conflict follows a day of trading when major U.S. stock indexes fell more than 1.5% amid fears of a slowing economy. Investors have worried about sustained trade wars dragging on global growth and potentially pulling the U.S. into a recession. Reacting to the WTO decision earlier, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said new U.S. tariffs would be “short-sighted and counterproductive.” She left the door open to the EU levying retaliatory duties. more...

By Donie O'Sullivan and David Shortell, CNN
(CNN) - The FBI is running ads on Facebook in the Washington DC area seemingly designed to target and recruit Russian spies as well as those who know about their work, CNN has learned. One ad seen by CNN features a stock photo of a young woman at her graduation with her family. Russian text overlaid on the image reads, "For your future, for the future of your family." Another shows a picture of a chess set, with Russian text that translates to, "Isn't it time for you to make your move?" And another includes a drawing of a man walking over a bridge, with a Russian caption that reads, "Time to draw bridges." Some of the Russian in the ads is awkwardly phrased or contains typos -- an indication they may not have been written by a native Russian speaker. The ads direct to a page on the FBI Washington DC field office's website that has details in English and in Russian about the counterintelligence team and the address of the FBI field office in the city, "visit us in person," it reads. The FBI had three ads in Russian running on Facebook when they were discovered by CNN earlier this week, but a source familiar with the ad-buy confirmed they have been running throughout the summer. The FBI did not confirm any details about the ad campaign, how many people saw the ads or if anyone responded to them. However, the ads, which are run from the FBI's verified Facebook page are publicly viewable through a Facebook tool that tracks active advertising campaigns on the platform. more...

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

The manufacturing sector is contracting and analysts are blaming Trump’s trade war.
By Aaron Rupar
New polling indicates a plurality of Americans not only support President Donald Trump’s impeachment but his removal from office. Meanwhile, amid a rapidly widening abuse of power scandal, Trump’s approval rating is hitting all-time lows. But arguably the most troubling survey for Trump has nothing to do with impeachment or his approval rating. The latest numbers from the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) closely monitored survey of the country’s manufacturing firms (the Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI) shows not only that manufacturing activity has contracted for two consecutive months, but that August was the lowest point for the sector since June 2009 — a time in which the economy was mired in the Great Recession. more...

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – As the House and Senate intelligence committees prepare for hearings with the whistleblower who complained about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the negotiations focused attention on how Congress protects anonymous witnesses. The intelligence panels routinely hold closed meetings with unannounced witnesses. Other committees have accepted anonymous testimony about issues such as foreign affairs or drug use. In rare circumstances, steps to protect the witnesses included placing them behind screens and altering their voices electronically. Those steps aren’t foolproof: An IRS whistleblower ran into her supervisor on the way to a hearing and blew her cover. The stakes are high for the Ukraine whistleblower, whose career relies on anonymity and who fears retaliation. Trump has said he’s trying to identify the person. Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA officer who represents the whistleblower, tweeted Monday that the person “is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.” The whistleblower’s complaint is at the heart of the impeachment investigation of Trump at the House of Representatives. The complaint filed Aug. 12 alleged Trump abused the power of his office when he urged Ukraine's president to gather dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's political rival. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal impeachment investigation based on news reports about the complaint. The intelligence committees haven’t described how they will conduct the hearings. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the whistleblower’s lawyers need to obtain security clearances. Schiff voiced concerns on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday about congressional Republican contacts with the White House after Trump compared the sources who informed the whistleblower to spies. “This is serious business here,” Schiff said. The panel is determining the logistics “to do everything humanly possible” to protect the whistleblower’s identity, which is “our paramount concern here,” he said. more...

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

ADP says U.S. businesses more cautious about hiring
By Jeffry Bartash
The numbers: The nation’s businesses added a modest 135,000 private-sector jobs in September, ADP said, in another sign that hiring is slowing along with the broader U.S. economy. Economists polled by Econoday had forecast a gain of 152,000. DP also reduced its estimate of new jobs created in August to 157,000 from an original 195,000. The mediocre increase in hiring added to a negative vibe on Wall Street, one day after a closely followed manufacturing barometer fell to the lowest level since the last recession. Stocks opened sharply lower. ADP is the country’s largest processor of paychecks for thousands of companies and millions of workers. What happened: Big companies added 67,000 jobs, mid-sized firms hired 39,000 new workers and small businesses filled 30,000 positions. more...

The Justice Department should have shared a campaign-finance investigation with the Federal Election Commission.
By Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer
One of the first things new prosecutors at the Justice Department learn is that cover-ups are rarely singular. There is often a cover-up of the cover-up. Allegations of one cover-up, then another, emerged last week. Officials in the Trump administration tried to “lock down” the phone call memo between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine (the first cover-up), and then officials in the executive branch made efforts to keep this information from reaching Congress (the second cover-up). Now we have discovered what may be a third cover-up. In its handling of the investigation and a potential campaign-finance violation, the Department of Justice appears to have ignored a rule that a matter under investigation must be referred to the Federal Election Commission. Critically, if the department had followed the rule, the Ukraine affair would have been disclosed to the American public. Were it not for the efforts of the whistle-blower, everything about this would have been hidden from the F.E.C. and the American people. Here’s how the Justice Department failed to follow the rule. As part of the scramble in the executive branch caused by the whistle-blower’s complaint, the Justice Department secretly investigated Mr. Trump for a potential campaign-finance violation. The department reportedly cleared him because the contributions solicited from a foreign government to his campaign were not quantifiable “things of value.” That’s the key phrase in one of the most important campaign-finance laws. Remember that Mr. Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general — a former federal prosecutor — determined that the whistle-blower complaint was an “urgent concern.” Further, the complaint set out facts suggesting that Mr. Trump had indeed violated the federal statute that criminalizes soliciting any “thing of value” from a foreign citizen in connection with an election. A thorough investigation seemed warranted. more...

By Erin Banco
Two diplomatic figures named in the whistleblower complaint that’s at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump over his interactions with Ukraine’s president are slated to appear before Congress, The Daily Beast has learned. According to a senior Democratic aide, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine—Kurt Volker—will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was previously scheduled to appear before the committee Wednesday, but will now appear on Oct. 11. The State Department inspector general has also asked for an “urgent” briefing with congressional committees tomorrow. The whistleblower reportedly alleged that Volker was one of the officials attempting to “contain the damage” of the scandal by advising Ukrainians on how to handle the requests of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—who has publicly admitted to pushing for corruption investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The whistleblower also reportedly claimed Yovanovitch was recalled to Washington earlier than expected because of “pressure” from then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who had spoken to Giuliani about the investigations and “collusion.” more...


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