US Monthly Headline News October 2019 Page 9
By Elliot HannonIt’s not Trump’s taxes, the whole enchilada, but ProPublica got ahold of property tax documents of the Trump Organization, adding to the growing corpus of financial info on the president that strongly points to Trump deploying a secret financial weapon to maintain the appearance of “successful businessman”—fraud. ProPublica collated financial info from public sources and found the president was reporting different numbers on his properties to lenders and tax authorities. Trump arranged the numbers to paint a rosier picture of his buildings’ performance for lenders to secure cheaper loans, and then rearranged those numbers to look less profitable when reporting to the taxman in order to lower his property taxes. “The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records,” ProPublica reports. “We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.” The site reviewed records for four Trump buildings and found noticeable discrepancies at two properties in particular—40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
ProPublica: Trump Organization fudged revenue and occupancy figures on buildings to reduce tax bill for financial gainBy Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN(CNN) - President Donald Trump's real estate business reported different financial figures for two of his Manhattan properties to lenders than to New York tax authorities, according to documents obtained by ProPublica. The different sets of numbers on expenses, profits and occupancy figures resulted in the two buildings appearing more lucrative to lenders and less so to city officials assessing property taxes, ProPublica found in an investigation published Wednesday. ProPublica obtained the property tax documents through the state of New York's Freedom of Information Act law and loan records after Trump's lender sold the debt on the properties, making them public. The Trump Organization did not respond to questions from ProPublica or CNN. ProPublica had reviewed the documents for four Trump properties, finding discrepancies involving two of them -- 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Trump has not publicly released his tax returns, claiming that he's barred from doing so because he's under IRS audit. Being under IRS audit does not prevent someone from making their tax returns public. CNN previously reported that Trump believed in 2013 and 2014 that releasing his tax returns as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time. According to ProPublica, Trump's company reported to New York City tax officials that it made about $822,000 in 2017 renting out space in the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- which Trump owns only a portion of -- to two commercial tenants. However, the company told Ladder Capital that it made $1.67 million that same year — more than twice as much reported to tax authorities, ProPublica reported. ProPublica also found that Trump had given conflicting occupancy figures for 40 Wall Street, recently rebranded as "The Trump Building." The Trump Organization told the lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased as of December 31, 2012. A few years later, the occupancy level had been raised to 95%. The company reported to tax officials that the building was 81% rented as of January 5, 2013. The figures in the tax and loan reports finally matched up in January 2016, ProPublica noted. The portrayal of an increase in occupancy and prediction that revenue would surge were critical to helping Trump secure a refinance loan for 40 Wall Street, according to ProPublica. Experts told ProPublica that there can be legitimate reasons for the differences in tax and loan documents but that the multiple inconsistencies lacked a clear explanation. As President, he has faced numerous legal challenges seeking the release of his tax returns, including from House Democrats and the Manhattan district attorney. Trump on Friday lost his appeal to stop a House subpoena of his tax documents from his longtime accountant Mazars USA. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling saying the firm must turn over eight years of accounting records.
NBC News' timeline of events leading up to and following House Speaker Pelosi's announcement that the House would launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump and his dealings with Ukraine.By Elizabeth JanowskiOn Sept. 24, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would launch an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and his dealings with Ukraine. Here is a timeline of the events leading to and following that decision. The timeline will be updated as new information becomes available. Trump impeachment inquiry: A timeline of events:
Chuck Schumer said the dramatic moment unfolded after Trump referred to Pelosi as a "third-rate politician."By Rebecca ShabadWASHINGTON — Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday angrily walked out of a White House meeting with President Donald Trump after he had a "meltdown," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say," Pelosi told reporters outside the White House with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer said the dramatic moment unfolded after Trump referred to Pelosi as a "third-rate politician."
Father of boy killed in Newtown school shooting sued James Fetzer and Mike Palacek over their book Nobody Died at Sandy HookThe father of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting has been awarded $450,000 by a jury in Wisconsin after he sued a conspiracy theorist who claimed the massacre never happened. Leonard Pozner, whose six-year-old son Noah was among the 26 victims at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, sued James Fetzer and co-author Mike Palacek over their book Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, which claimed Noah’s death certificate is fake and Pozner lied about his son being dead. While Palacek reached an undisclosed settlement with Pozner last month, the defamation suit proceeded against Fetzer. In court, Pozner, a retired Minnesota professor, claimed the statements and the harassment he had received because of the book had given him post-traumatic stress disorder. Among them were death threats he received from Lucy Richards, a member of a group that believes Sandy Hook is a hoax used to push support for gun control. In a separate case in 2017, Richards admitted to sending Pozner a threatening message that read, “LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH.” She was sentenced to five months in prison followed by three years on supervised release. On the stand this week, Pozner said his two daughters were with him when the voicemails began playing, and he was concerned for their safety. “It said a lot of ugly things. And I felt like I needed to defend my son,” he said on the stand. On the stand, Pozner testified he had been “doing well” – and initially interacting with Sandy Hook deniers to try to defuse the situation. “I had attempted to be transparent. I published Noah’s death certificate on a social media page I used as a memorial page. And after doing that I was accused of being a fake and a fraud and that changed everything,” he said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The court heard from Dr Roy Lubit, a forensic psychiatrist, who testified that Pozner’s mental state “went downhill after he was confronted by the denials that it happened”. Fetzer, however, argued that the statements in his book aren’t defamatory “because they’re true” and maintained there was no proof that Pozner’s harassers were inspired by the book.
By Zack BudrykFederal prosecutors have charged a Turkish bank with ties to a former client of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in connection with an alleged scheme to evade sanctions on Iran, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. The six-count indictment alleges that Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS (Halkbank) was part of a conspiracy to give Tehran access to billions of dollars in defiance of sanctions that it concealed from U.S. regulators. “As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court,” Berman added. Reports last week said that in 2017, Trump pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help convince the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was himself charged in a sanctions-evasion scheme and represented by Giuliani. Zarrab eventually pleaded guilty and testified against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who headed international banking at Halkbank, also claiming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was aware of the laundering effort.
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN(CNN) - The White House is launching a new effort to slow the speeding Democratic impeachment push, but its noncooperation strategy is being constantly thwarted by a daily stream of explosive secrets being spilled behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Current and former officials are painting an ever more damning picture of a wider than originally perceived scheme by President Donald Trump and his crew to pressure Ukraine that they warned could amount to a trampling of US law. Vice President Mike Pence launched a new effort Tuesday to bolster White House hopes of stalling the House inquiry long enough for Trump to turn public opinion against it. He refused to turn over documents related to Trump's now notorious call with the President of Ukraine on July 25. But White House officials are becoming increasingly frustrated at revelations from the closed-door hearings. Given that there is no presidential counsel in the room, they struggle to frame a defense, learning about almost daily bombshells only from news reports, CNN reported on Tuesday. And the possibility that former national security adviser John Bolton -- who may have little incentive to shield the President who recently ousted him -- could soon be called to testify will do little to ease the impression among White House officials that they are flying blind. Fresh testimony in recent days has elevated the crisis for Trump. It has appeared to expose an off-the-books effort to perform an end run around US foreign policy officials with political appointees that predated his notorious phone call with the President of Ukraine in which he sought dirt on his possible 2020 foe Joe Biden. On Monday, former senior White House Russia aide Fiona Hill testified that she had tried to raise the alarm about possibly illegal activity -- and had been encouraged to do so by Bolton. A senior State Department official, George Kent, testified Tuesday that he'd been told by a supervisor to lie low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's meddling in Ukraine, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who sits on the House Oversight Committee. More peril looms for the White House on Thursday, when Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, is expected to tell lawmakers that a text he sent to a colleague insisting there was no quid pro quo offered to Ukraine was dictated by the President himself. The most worrying development so far this week for the Trump team is that Hill's stunning mention of Bolton raises the possibility that a possibly disgruntled former national security adviser, who was forced out under a cloud, may have an incentive to offer testimony that could damage his former boss. Trump's rather worn defense of his actions exemplifies the depth of his problem. The Ukraine story has outpaced the President's attacks on a whistleblower who first exposed the story and his defense of his "perfect" call with Ukraine's President. Trump's allies are bemoaning what they say is a lack of due process in the Democratic impeachment investigation -- but they often seem unable to effectively parry the damaging tidbits leaking out of depositions. Trump's defense is beginning to look insufficient: The President stuck to generalities on Tuesday. "We just hit the greatest economy we've ever had. 'Let's impeach the President' -- isn't that a good idea?" Trump said during an event with the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. "I wouldn't worry about it, fellas. I wouldn't worry about it," the President told several senators in the audience, referring to impeachment -- raising questions as to whether he understands the seriousness of his plight.
By Sonam Sheth and John HaltiwangerThe past month has been the worst stretch of time in Donald Trump's entire presidency.A little over a week ago, Trump abruptly decided to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria. The move prompted bipartisan criticism in Washington, including rare blowback from congressional Republicans, who accused the president of effectively abandoning US-allied Kurdish forces to a Turkish military invasion. The Kurds bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against the terrorist group ISIS, losing roughly 11,000 fighters, and Trump was promptly accused of betraying US allies. Meanwhile, Trump was warned by US lawmakers and former officials that his decision could catalyze the resurgence of ISIS and create a power vacuum that Russia would be happy to fill. Turkey invaded Syria last Wednesday, and within a week the situation has spiraled into a humanitarian catastrophe that ISIS and Moscow have already exploited. Beyond the criticism of Trump's Syria retreat in Congress, leaders in Europe have said the president has significantly undermined the US's credibility by leaving the Kurds to fend off the Turkish assault. Trump officials come out of the woodwork, defying his orders to stonewall Congress All this comes as the president is besieged on the domestic front by an escalating congressional impeachment inquiry examining whether Trump used his public office for private gain. At the heart of the investigation is an unprecedented whistleblower complaint filed by a US intelligence official. The controversy exploded in mid-September, when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff revealed the existence of the complaint to the public. Specifically, the intelligence official alleged that Trump repeatedly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to investigate corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump also asked Zelensky to help discredit the FBI's finding that Russia secretly worked to help elect Trump. Beyond asking a foreign power for dirt against a political rival ahead of an election, Trump is battling allegations that he held up a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine days before the phone call to maintain leverage over Zelensky. In the weeks since, Trump officials have come out of the woodwork — defying his and other top officials' orders to stay silent — to offer testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
FBI officials were 'rattled' and 'blindsided' by Trump's call for Ukraine to manufacture dirt on Joe BidenBy Sonam ShethThree years ago, the FBI launched an unprecedented investigation focused on one question: Did President Donald Trump's campaign help a foreign power interfere in the 2016 election? Now, just months after that investigation was formally closed, FBI officials are stunned the president is openly calling for another country to intervene in another presidential election. One special agent, who spoke with Insider on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press, said officials were "rattled" not just by the nature of Trump's actions but also by his brazenness. "You walk down the halls and there was this sense of dread, and everyone's kind of thinking, did the president really do this?" the agent said. The agent was one of four current and former officials Insider spoke with about the matter. In addition to feeling undermined by the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into the Russia probe's origins, sources also said FBI officials were frustrated with how the Justice Department handled a criminal referral related to a whistleblower's allegations against Trump, saying it added to a sense that the bureau was being "neutered." At the heart of the controversy are Trump's repeated efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Biden is one of the 2020 Democratic front-runners and Trump's chief political rival. Trump ordered his administration to hold up a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine in July. A few days later, on July 25, the president had a phone call with Zelensky, during which Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart the US "does a lot for Ukraine." Zelensky acknowledged that and said Ukraine wanted to purchase more Javelins — a powerful US-made anti-tank missile — from the US. Trump immediately followed up and told Zelensky he would like Ukraine to "do us a favor, though," and investigate Biden. Trump made no direct mention of the aid package, but his request was alarming enough to White House officials and others on the call that they began discussing how to "lock down" all records of the conversation, and White House lawyers immediately began working on damage control, according to a whistleblower complaint a US intelligence official filed against Trump in August. Officials are concerned about whether the FBI is being 'neutered as an organization' One US official who works in counterintelligence told Insider that staff at the bureau were not only "blindsided" by the contents of Trump's call with Zelensky but also frustrated with the Justice Department's handling of the matter. Michael Atkinson, the intelligence-community inspector general, and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, sent the whistleblower's complaint to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation because of concerns that the president may have violated campaign-finance laws by asking the Ukrainian government to manufacture dirt on his political opponent. The Justice Department's criminal division reviewed the whistleblower's complaint and determined that there were no grounds for an investigation of Trump's behavior. Officials are said to have decided that the White House summary of Trump's phone call with Zelensky didn't constitute a campaign-finance violation because he didn't ask for a financial contribution or an "item of tangible value." They did not interview any witnesses or gather more facts outside of reviewing the summary of the call. The Justice Department's actions were a departure from the norm because typically, in such cases, the FBI investigates if there was criminal wrongdoing and makes a recommendation to the Justice Department on whether or not to press charges. Here, the US official said, "the DOJ made the decision right off the bat, and that was viewed by many as a slap in the face and usurping the FBI's independence and judgment." It also added to concerns about whether the FBI was being "neutered as an organization," the official said. 'Everyone says they did their jobs, and yet they're being accused of treason' Complicating matters is the fact that all this occurred against the backdrop of Attorney General William Barr spearheading a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. There is no evidence that the FBI or the Justice Department acted inappropriately while investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election. But Trump and his allies in Congress and the media have long called for an investigation into purported corruption and anti-Trump bias within the Justice Department, which they claim was the catalyst for the Russia probe.
By Kevin McCoy, USA TODAYNEW YORK — President Donald Trump lacks authority to block a subpoena that seeks his tax returns and financial records for a criminal investigation, attorneys for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued Tuesday in a federal appeals court filing. Responding to an argument last week by Trump's lawyers that sitting presidents have complete immunity from criminal investigations, Vance's legal team argued, "This extravagant claim is unsupported by constitutional text, statute or case law, and is equally absent from historical texts and government memoranda." Even the U.S. Department of Justice, which has backed other legal arguments raised by Trump, "stops far short of endorsing this view," Vance's legal team wrote in a 52-page brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The brief also challenged an argument by Trump's lawyers that the only constitutional method to deal with allegations of misconduct by sitting presidents is through the impeachment process. "The reality is that" Trump "has refused to participate in the very impeachment process that he presents here as the bulwark against placing a president above the law," Vance's lawyers argued. "His core position on every one of these matters is that the United States Presidency places him beyond the reach of the law." Trump would not suffer "irreparable harm" if the financial records and tax returns are turned over because they would be destroyed or returned, with no public disclosure, if federal courts upheld his immunity claim, the Vance brief said. However, the New York grand jury that issued the subpoena could be harmed because statutes of limitations on pursuing potential crimes could expire while the case is being appealed, the brief added. Trump "has made it abundantly clear that his litigation tactics will be to pursue indefinite delay in an effort to frustrate the grand jury," Vance's team argued. Appeal has been fast-tracked because of its importance: The battle features high personal and political stakes for Trump, who is fighting on multiple fronts with Congress and other parties to keep his tax returns and financial records private. The New York case has been fast-tracked because of its legal significance. It was just over a week ago that Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero ruled Trump could not shield his tax returns from Vance's investigation. Marerro's 75-page ruling rejected what he called Trump's "extraordinary claim" that "the person who serves as president, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind." That, wrote Marrero, would represent "virtually limitless" protection from criminal investigations – not only for sitting presidents but for associates who might have collaborated in illegal actions. He ruled that Trump was unlikely to succeed on the legal merits of his claim.
Al Jazeera English - China wants to hold more talks to hammer out the details of “phase one” of a trade deal touted by Donald Trump. The US has delayed tariff increases that were scheduled to come into effect on Tuesday. But after months of losses and uncertainty, businesses in China are still under pressure to branch out to new markets. Al Jazeera's Rob Matheson reports from Shanghai.
By Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAYAfter a violent video depicting President Donald Trump on a murder rampage against members of the media and political opponents was shown during a conference at a Trump resort, the people "killed" in the video have called on him to denounce it. It's an edited version of the film "Kingsman: The Secret Service," featuring a church massacre scene. In the video, Trump's face is superimposed over the body of a shooter who brutally attacks and kills congregation members with faces of media organization logos and critics. The White House said Monday morning that Trump had not yet seen the video but would see it soon. Based on what he had heard, though, he strongly condemned it. Here's what we know so far about the video and how it ended up being played in a room at Trump's Miami-based resort during a conference put on by a pro-Trump group. Where did the video come from? The group TheGeekzTeam is a pro-Trump meme video generator with nearly 20,000 YouTube subscribers. Its Youtube page has several videos featuring Trump violently attacking Democrats and media organizations. In a similar one, musician and actor Donald Glover's music video for the song "This is America" is spoofed to again show Trump shooting members of the media. The first existence of the "Kingsman" video appears to be in a YouTube upload from the meme group in July 2018, which was also tweeted out at the same time. The caption of the video reads, "Fake News is very real and very present. Even through all the hate thats thrown at Trump daily, he still wants to help this nation back on it's feet and make it great again!" How did the video end up at the conference? The American Priority conference organizer, Alex Phillips, says organizers were not aware of the video and did not approve its usage at the event. Phillips said it was part of a "meme exhibit" that was played in a "side room" and submitted by third parties. The conference agenda did include a breakout session called "Memetics." Phillips said the first time organizers were aware of the meme was when The New York Times, which first reported on the video, contacted them. Phillips told The Times that "this matter is under review." The Times said that it obtained footage of the clip being played at the conference by an attendee, who passed it onto an intermediary, who then sent it to a reporter. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech," Phillips said. Who is in the video? The lawmakers depicted being shot, stabbed and set on fire in the video include a plethora of Trump critics from both sides of the aisle. Republicans Sen. Mitt Romney and the late Sen. John McCain are among them. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama are some of the many progressives attacked in the video. Celebrity comedian Kathy Griffin, who was in the video, condemned it as more than just a joke. "I'm depicted as being murdered by The President of the United States in this video," Griffin tweeted late Sunday. "The left, right & center left me hanging out to dry regarding the Trump mask photo. Please don’t let it happen again. No, this video isn’t a joke to his followers. And it will not be taken as such."
By Chris Isidore and Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN BusinessNew York (CNN Business) - Negotiators from General Motors and the United Auto Workers union have reached a tentative deal to end a 31-day strike by nearly 50,000 workers. Details of the agreement were not immediately available. The deal was confirmed by Terry Dittes, the UAW's chief negotiator with GM. The tentative agreement needs the approval of both union leadership as well as the rank-and-file union members at GM before it can take effect. UAW officials from across the country were already set to meet in Detroit on Thursday. That had been taken as a sign that the two sides were getting close to a deal. It is not yet certain when workers will start returning to work. The union statement say it will be decided at Thursday's meeting whether they should return to work or remain on strike until the rank-and-file ratification vote takes place. The ratification process can take a week or more to complete. "The No. 1 priority of the national negotiation team has been to secure a strong and fair contract that our members deserve," said Dittes. The strike has been the largest at a US business since the last strike at GM in 2007. But that strike was over within three days. This is has been the longest major strike in the auto industry in more than 20 years. It could be difficult to win rank-and-file approval for the deal, although strikers will probably want to return to work after missing four weeks of paychecks. But membership has been known to reject tentative agreements reached by union leaders. That happened in the last round of auto contract talks four years ago when members at Fiat Chrysler rejected the initial deal presented to them. GM was careful not too say too much about the deal, perhaps out of concern that praising it would convince some workers that it was too much in the company's favor. "We can confirm the UAW's statement regarding a proposed tentative agreement. Additional details will be provided at the appropriate time," said GM's lone statement on the agreement. But GM investors liked the news. Shares of GM (GM) rose were up nearly 2% in midday trading, with most of the gain on the news of the deal. Shares of GM are still down 5% since the start of the strike. The strike has halted work at 31 GM factories and 21 other facilities spread across nine states, mostly in the middle of the United States. It also led to layoffs at other GM plants in Mexico and Canada that had to shut because of the disruption in their supply chains. Many of the 10,000 US suppliers that provide auto parts and other goods and services to GM laid off staff as well. That may have idled as many as 200,000 additional workers at those companies, according to estimates.
The 1,000 elite US troops in Syria are making a chaotic and demoralizing retreat after Trump canceled their missionBy Mitch ProtheroIn 24 hours, the estimated 1,000 elite US troops based in northeastern Syria to fight the Islamic State have found themselves overrun by Syrian, Turkish, and Russian military units. It follows an abrupt series of confusing orders to conduct an immediate withdrawal, taken in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the region and allow Turkey to invade. US troops had occupied a series of command and observation posts along the Syria-Turkey border as part of a mission to lead the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish militia, against the Islamic State. The region was thrown into chaos in the past week, however, by a Turkish incursion into the area designed to confront the armed Kurdish groups there. The hasty withdrawal was announced Saturday by President Donald Trump, who said all US troops in Syria would withdraw as soon as possible, barring a single base in the desert along the Syria-Jordan border. US units were soon faced with heavy artillery strikes by Turkey that on Sunday appeared to target US positions. They also had to deal with fast-shifting control of cities and major motorways that were their pathway out of the country. As of Tuesday at least one small unit of US forces, estimated to consist of 50 to 100 soldiers, was trapped by advances from two sides: by the Turkish forces along the border and Russian-backed Syrian government forces, who began arriving into the formerly Kurdish controlled cities of Raqqa, Manbij, Kobani, Qamishli, and Ayn Issa. "Two [observation posts] were located in the area around Kobani and these units were cut off from the rest of Rojava by the Turkish advance on one side and the arrival of regime militias from the west into Manbij," said a Western military official who until recently had worked closely with the SDF.
By Christina ZhaoCNN analyst Bakari Sellers—a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives—called 2020 candidate Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard "a puppet for the Russian government" during a panel appearance on Tuesday, hours before the fourth Democratic debate is set to take place in Westerville, Iowa. "There is a change that Tulsi's not just working for the United States of America, but I digress," Sellers said during a CNN panel discussion of the upcoming debate. "What does that mean?" CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked. "That's not just an allegation. I firmly believe that Tulsi Gabbard stands on that stage and is the antithesis to what the other 11 individuals stand for. Especially when it comes to issues such as foreign policy," Sellers explained. "There is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government." "Woah oh oh, that is strong," CNN political analyst April Ryan said. "How is there no question?" Camerota asked, clearly stunned by Sellers' remarks. Sellers replied by pointing to Gabbard's alleged "affection" for people like Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. "Her admiring somebody who we know to be a war criminal propping them up," he said. "I think that those are questions that will have to be answered." "That was very strong," Ryan said again.
As she injects chaos into the 2020 Democratic primary by accusing her own party of “rigging” the election, an array of alt-right internet stars, white nationalists and Russians have praised her.By Lisa LererWASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, is impressed with her political talent. Richard B. Spencer, the white nationalist leader, says he could vote for her. Former Representative Ron Paul praises her “libertarian instincts,” while Franklin Graham, the influential evangelist, finds her “refreshing.” And far-right conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich see a certain MAGA sais quoi. “She’s got a good energy, a good vibe. You feel like this is just a serious person,” Mr. Cernovich said. “She seems very Trumpian.” Among her fellow Democrats, Representative Tulsi Gabbard has struggled to make headway as a presidential candidate, barely cracking the 2 percent mark in the polls needed to qualify for Tuesday night’s debate. She is now injecting a bit of chaos into her own party’s primary race, threatening to boycott that debate to protest what she sees as a “rigging” of the 2020 election. That’s left some Democrats wondering what, exactly, she is up to in the race, while others worry about supportive signs from online bot activity and the Russian news media. Perhaps strangest of all is the unusual array of Americans who cannot seem to get enough of her. On podcasts and online videos, in interviews and Twitter feeds, alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard. They like the Hawaiian congresswoman’s isolationist foreign policy views. They like her support for drug decriminalization. They like what she sees as censorship by big technology platforms. Then there is 4chan, the notoriously toxic online message board, where some right-wing trolls and anti-Semites fawn over Ms. Gabbard, calling her “Mommy” and praising her willingness to criticize Israel. In April, the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, took credit for Ms. Gabbard’s qualification for the first two Democratic primary debates. Brian Levin, the head of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, said Ms. Gabbard had “the seal of approval” within white nationalist circles. “If people have that isolationist worldview, there is one candidate that could best express them on each side: Gabbard on the Democratic side and Trump on the Republican side,” Mr. Levin said. Ms. Gabbard has disavowed some of her most hateful supporters, castigating the news media for giving “any oxygen at all” to the endorsement she won from the white nationalist leader David Duke. But her frequent appearances on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show have buoyed her support in right-wing circles.
When the two brothers saw the other driver pull over to write down their license plate number, one of them fired at least three shots at him, authorities said.By Ben KesslenTwo brothers have been charged in connection with the shooting of a man in front of his four children in an alleged road rage incident in St. Louis County, Missouri. Nicholas Marino, 27, and Joseph Marino, 24, face charges from the county prosecutor in the shooting about 3 p.m. Monday in Green Park, about 12 miles southwest of the city of St. Louis, county police told NBC News. The father of four is recovering, and his children, ages 3, 6, 9, and 11, were not injured. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cites charges and police in reporting that Joseph Marino was driving and Nicholas Marino was in the passenger seat at the time of the road rage incident. After they saw the other driver pull over and begin to take down their vehicle’s license plate number, Joseph Marino allegedly pulled the car over and pointed a gun at the man while Nicholas allegedly got out of the car and fired at least three shots at him.
By Michael Warren and Evan Perez, CNN(CNN) - Rudy Giuliani will defy House Democrats' impeachment subpoena, a letter his attorney sent to Congress on Tuesday said.Jon Sale, Giuliani's attorney sent a letter to Congress informing them that Giuliani will not be providing documents that were requested by subpoena.The Office of Management and Budget also does not plan to turn over the documents that impeachment committees subpoenaed, a spokeswoman said, pointing to a letter earlier this month from White House counsel Pat Cipollone saying it speaks for OMB as well. The White House letter slammed the impeachment investigation as "constitutionally illegitimate" and made clear the administration does not plan to cooperate. Giuliani is also now parting ways with his personal attorney Jon Sale who has represented him in impeachment matters, Giuliani told CNN. Sale will stop representing the former New York City mayor shortly, Giuliani told CNN. Sale had been working for Giuliani after the House of Representatives subpoenaed Giuliani for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry. "Jon was helping me with assessing (the) congressional request. He will submit his letter and he will be finished with what I asked him to do," Giuliani said. People close to Giuliani are advising him to hire a criminal lawyer as questions linger about his connections to two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, who were indicted last week for campaign-finance violations. Giuliani, who is President Donald Trump's personal attorney, has been resisting that advice, according to those people.
Key witnesses are ignoring Trump and delivering bombshell testimony in Democrats’ Ukraine investigation.By KYLE CHENEY and ANDREW DESIDERIODonald Trump's impeachment blockade has collapsed. The president's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats' investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has detailed for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kyiv to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump's top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy. And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, testified for nearly 10 hours about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by Trump administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, complied. According to people familiar with his testimony, Kent told House impeachment investigators that he was alarmed at the role Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was playing in Ukraine. In particular, one lawmaker in the room said Kent was concerned because the president was apparently listening to Giuliani, who had mounted a months-long campaign to discredit Joe Biden on unfounded charges. “He was concerned at the undue influence a private attorney — not an official with the United States government and not someone charged with the responsibility of U.S. relations with Ukraine — was exerting, and that Giuliani was listening to discredited sources and had ties to some questionable characters in Ukraine, and nonetheless had the ear of the president,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a brief interview as he emerged from Kent’s deposition. Kent’s appearance on Tuesday was just the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats now have a new sense of momentum.
White House directed ‘three amigos’ to run Ukraine policy, senior State department official tells House investigatorsBy Paul Kane, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael BadeActing White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting this spring in which officials were determined to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels, putting Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in charge instead, a top State Department official told lawmakers Tuesday. George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, told House investigators he was instructed to “lay low,” focus on the five other countries in his portfolio and defer to Volker, Sondland and Perry — who called themselves the “three amigos” — on matters related to Ukraine, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters Tuesday. Kent took that as a sign, Connolly added, that having been critical of the plan he was being pushed aside “because what he was saying was not welcome” at high levels of the government. Mulvaney’s meeting, which Kent told lawmakers took place on May 23, according to Connolly, was just days after the administration recalled Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch spoke to House investigators last week about the campaign against her, which she and other former diplomats have said was organized by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. The revelations from Kent’s testimony suggest the decision to wrest Ukraine policy away from career diplomats and put it in the hands of officials seen as more sympathetic to the president was taken several weeks before Trump spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In their July 25 call, Trump appeared to pressure the Ukrainian leader to launch probes into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden. Administration officials informed the Ukrainians of their decision to shift authority for Ukraine policy in June, according to two people familiar with Kent’s testimony. “For some Americans from the embassy, that was news to them,” he added. Perry, who was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for an unrelated briefing, told reporters he “was involved in that [Ukraine policy] more than anybody. And I never saw or heard anything that was untoward, not by the president, not by anybody.” Kent spoke for several hours Tuesday in a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, which together are conducting an impeachment probe into whether Trump abused his office to pressure a foreign government into doing work that could affect the election. The longtime Foreign Service official had been summoned for a deposition in the investigation, with Democrats expected to question him about a campaign by Giuliani to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it was unable to share documents with the House of Representative committee pursuing an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, citing “legal and practical concerns.” In a letter seen by Reuters, the Pentagon said the House of Representatives did not have a resolution authorizing an impeachment investigation, adding that it could not produce documents in the eight days it was given to comply with the subpoena.
By Nathaniel WeixelA federal judge on Tuesday overturned ObamaCare protections for transgender patients, ruling that a 2016 policy violates the religious freedom of Christian providers. Judge Reed O’Connor in the Northern District of Texas vacated an Obama-era regulation that prohibited insurers and providers who receive federal money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity or termination of pregnancy. It also required doctors and hospitals to provide “medically necessary” services to transgender individuals as long as those services were the same ones provided to other patients. O’Connor, the same judge who last year ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, said the rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. His ruling is likely to be appealed. The ObamaCare rule was initially challenged in court in 2016 by a group of Christian providers called the Franciscan Alliance as well as five conservative states. They argued that the rule forces insurers to pay for abortions and compels doctors to perform gender transition services even if they disagree with those services on moral or medical grounds. O’Connor agreed and issued a nationwide injunction against enforcing the rule. The injunction meant that even though the provisions remained in effect, the Obama administration could not sue a hospital or provider for not complying. President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services initially defended the rule, but the Trump administration decided to drop its defense and argued the rule should be sent back to the agency to be rewritten. .
By Julia ArcigaFormer Rep. Pete Sessions has been subpoenaed by a grand jury for materials related to his dealings with President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his associates. According to The Wall Street Journal, Sessions' subpoena is part of an investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into Giuliani's Ukrainian business dealings. The subpoena reportedly requests documents related to Giuliani's business in the country and his efforts to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. It also asks for records of interactions between himself, Giuliani, and Giuliani's associates who were recently indicted. There is reportedly no indication that Sessions is the target of the investigation. Last week, two of Giuliani's associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were indicted for making illegal campaign donations to a certain congressman in what prosecutors say was a bid to have Yovanovitch removed from her post. Public records indicated the congressman in question was Sessions, and the former representative reportedly sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming that Yovanovitch was biased against Trump after he received a financial commitment from Parnas and Fruman. But he has denied any wrongdoing and said he was not aware of the “scheme” Parnas and Fruman are accused of. A spokesman for Sessions said the ex-congressman was cooperating with prosecutors and would be “providing documents to their office related to this matter over the next couple of weeks as requested.”
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”by Heather VogellDocuments obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax. For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street. Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013. A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.” New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.” The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate. “Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law. Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims. That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns. ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities. ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out. There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has vetoed a joint resolution of Congress that sought to terminate his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border with Mexico, the White House said on Tuesday. Trump declared the emergency to circumvent Congress and take money already designated for other programs to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall he promised to build during his 2016 campaign. Last month, the Democratic-led House passed the joint resolution by 236-174, as 11 Republicans and one independent joined Democrats to vote in favor. The Republican-led Senate had approved the measure days earlier, by 54-41. Eleven of the Senate’s 53 Republicans joined Democrats favoring the resolution. “The situation on our southern border remains a national emergency, and our armed forces are still needed to help confront it,” Trump said in his veto message. Trump used the very first veto of his presidency in March to strike down a similar measure that had cleared the House and Senate. Congress was unable to muster the two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override that veto and is not expected to do so this time.
The president had hoped to surprise the parents of dead British teen Harry Dunn with a meeting with the woman who killed him—all in front of the media.By Barbie Latza NadeauYou can almost imagine the reality-show excitement that surely went into the ill-considered plan to introduce Anne Sacoolas, the American diplomatic wife who killed 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn when she drove down the wrong side of an English lane in August, to Dunn’s grieving parents. Sacoolas left the U.K. in early September under diplomatic-immunity protections and has not been seen in public since. The Dunn family, now in the United States to drum up support to send Sacoolas back to the U.K. to face justice, had accepted an “urgent” invitation by the White House from National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, to visit Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Trump, it seems, thought he could convince the Dunns to meet the woman who killed their son, and would do so by opening a side door through which she would walk. The whole scene would be captured by a pool of photographers who had been summoned for the meeting. But the Dunns would have none of it and refused to meet her. Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger said that the family felt “ambushed” when the “bombshell” was dropped that Sacoolas was next door. They had envisioned meeting her one day, but as Seiger told The Daily Beast, “only on British soil” and “only with mediators, counselors, and their legal team in tow.” In a statement on the Dunn’s Justice4Harry GoFundMe page, Seiger explained what happened. “The family had four surprises yesterday,” he wrote. “Firstly, being invited to the White House in the first place which came right out of the blue.” In fact, Dunn’s father Tim had suggested on CBS News earlier in the day that he would like to meet the president “man to man, father to father” to plead with him to send Sacoolas back to face justice.
CBS News - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman New York congresswoman with a massive national following, is set to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for president on Saturday, according to a person familiar with the plans. The endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez is a coup for Sanders, but not surprising given that the two lawmakers agree on a wide range of issues.
A federal appeals court will re-hear a lawsuit that challenges President Trump's ownership of a luxury hotel five blocks from the White House.By Pete WilliamsA federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia that challenges President Donald Trump's ownership of a luxury hotel five blocks from the White House. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case dismissed in July. But the full appeals court agreed late Tuesday to re-hear the case, which has the effect of wiping out the panel's ruling and giving Maryland and DC another chance to argue their case, claiming that Trump's holdings present a conflict between his business profits and the nation's interest. DC Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh praised the appeals court's action. "We look forward to arguing our case before the full panel to stop President Trump from violating the Constitution and profiting from the presidency.” They claim that Trump's hotel ownership violates the Constitution's emolument's clauses, which bar the president from receiving "any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state" or any state in the US. Their lawsuit, filed in 2017, said he improperly benefits financially whenever foreign or state governments patronize the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.
By Erin Jensen, USA TODAYCarl Cameron, a former Fox News reporter who was with the channel for more than 20 years, is voicing his concerns after Shepard Smith shocked by announcing his departure Friday. Cameron, who says his "Campaign Carl" moniker came courtesy of Smith, appeared on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday to discuss the impact his former colleague's exit may have on the channel. "There are an awful lot of really good journalists at Fox News Channel. It's just that they're vastly outnumbered by the opinion makers, and the opinion makers are more interested in playing to people's bias than anything else," said Cameron. "And it makes it very difficult for journalists to actually give people honest facts when the air time is shrinking constantly." Cameron also expressed his concern over those who will be filling Smith's slot. "If they're actually news journalists, then that'll be a good sign for the 3:00 hour," Cameron said, "and if it's not, if it's opinion mavens, then that'll be just another big chunk of real journalism that won't exist there." Until the network names a permanent replacement, it will become an hour-long news show titled "Fox News Reporting," featuring a rotating cast of anchors, the network announced in a news release. "Over the course of the Trump administration, more and more, the opinion hosts have been criticizing the journalists," Cameron said, "and so, that really pits bias against straight journalism… That's a huge part of what frustrates the journalists at Fox News because they shouldn't be arguing with people who are there to comment on the news and completely neglect what was just by the journalists."
Trump's Foreign Policy Makes Sense If You 'Follow the Money,' MSNBC Host Points to Trump Business With Saudi Arabia, Russia, TurkeyBy Jason LemonMSNBC host Joe Scarborough pointed to President Donald Trump's vast international business empire as the leading influencer on his foreign policy decisions, saying people simply need to "follow the money." "Donald Trump does not look at foreign policy as a way to help the United States of America," Scarborough, who previously served as Republican congressman from Florida but now identifies as an independent, claimed during his show Morning Joe. "I've said for years, that if you want to understand his moves when it comes to foreign policy, you've got to follow the money." Scarborough pointed out that Trump has been a strong supporter of Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom being behind the grisly murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. Khashoggi was killed and cut into pieces with a bonesaw by a team of Saudi agents, widely believed to be linked directly to the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, shortly after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just over a year ago. The president has repeatedly defended the kingdom, calling them a "great ally." "Donald Trump bragged on the campaign trail that the Saudis love his quote toys [or apartments] and paid him $150 million, paid his businesses in the past," Scarborough said. He then pointed to Trump's business interests in Russia, the Philippines and Turkey, arguing that these have a significant bearing on his foreign policy decisions as well. The Trump Organization opened a $150 million, 57-story skyscraper in the Philippines capital of Manila in 2017. Back in 2012, his company opened Trump Towers in Istanbul. The president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, personally tweeted her thanks to then-Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, now the nation's president, for attending the launch party. During Trump's presidential campaign, his company was actively pursuing a deal to launch a tower development in Moscow. "We don't know all that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has on Trump, but we do know this, that [Trump's oldest son] Don Jr. said several years ago ... that they get most of their money from Russians," the MSNBC host explained. He went on to suggest that the president's recent decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, allowing Turkey to advance into the country, was related to his business interests in Istanbul. "Istanbul, you've seen the picture of Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump going and opening up Trump Towers," he said. Scarborough and many other Trump critics have repeatedly raised concerns about the president's domestic and international business interests, and the potential influence they could have on his decisions as commander in chief. Going against precedent, Trump chose to remain the sole-owner of the Trump Organization after he was elected, instead of divesting or placing the company into a blind trust. His sons, Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, currently manage the day-to-day operations and the president has stated he is not involved with any decision-making for the company.
MSNBC Anchor Confronts Rand Paul With Trump Children's Foreign Business Deals After He Calls for Hunter Biden to Be InvestigatedBy Jason LemonMSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle confronted Republican Senator Rand Paul with President Donald Trump's own children's foreign business deals after the congressman suggested Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine should be investigated. "Hunter Biden made $600,000 from a Ukrainian company," Paul said, after he was asked by Ruhle about Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani being paid $500,000 to work for the company of Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, who was arrested last week over alleged campaign finance violations. "So, if we want to investigate Rudy Giuliani's financial dealings, by all means do it. But at the same time, you should, if you want to be fair, investigate Hunter Biden's economic dealings in Ukraine as well," he argued. Ruhle jumped on Paul's point and asked the senator if Trump's children's foreign business deals should also be investigated thoroughly. "Does that mean we should be looking deeper into how Jared Kushner's family got foreign money for 666 Fifth Avenue? How Ivanka Trump got 13 trademarks from the Chinese government, how she was able to expand her brand since the president took office?" the MSNBC anchor said. "I mean, giddy-up, let's do it." Paul, who represents Kentucky, then suggested that investigating those concerns would be "going down the road of the politics of self destruction" and would somehow "criminalize all politicians." "Nobody really should excuse themselves and say 'we're holier than thou and Trump is evil,' instead of saying 'it looks like there's been a lot of self-dealings throughout history," the congressman added. Trump and his family's vast international business empire has raised alarm bells from ethics and legal experts since the president's election. Going against precedent, Trump chose to forgo divesting from his company or placing it in a blind trust while he is in office. Although he has handed over day-to-day operations to his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president remains the sole-owner of the Trump Organization. Legal experts have argued that foreign governments paying to host events or to stay at Trump's properties violates the Constitution's Emoluments Clauses, which stipulate that the president cannot accept gifts from foreign countries or use their office to enrich themselves. Additionally, ethics experts have raised their eyebrows as Ivanka Trump, who serves as a senior adviser to her father, has been granted numerous trademarks in China as the White House remains embroiled in a trade dispute with the Asian superpower.
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNNWashington (CNN) - Some of the White House's most senior foreign policy officials were trying to raise the alarm about the administration's potentially illegal activity in Ukraine well before President Donald Trump's now notorious call with his counterpart in Kiev, according to stunning new testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, said in a startling deposition Monday that then-national security adviser John Bolton told her to tip off White House lawyers about the activities of Giuliani and others, according to sources familiar with her testimony. Bolton's advice followed a meeting two weeks before the call between the two presidents on July 25, one source said. The detail suggests that senior figures inside Trump's White House were deeply concerned that the activities by the President and those close to him could reach the level of illegal behavior -- a potentially significant turn in the three-week-old impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. While it remains unclear whether Trump or his lawyer Rudy Giuliani did actually break the law in going around official channels to deal with Ukraine, much of the conduct now emerging at least appears unethical, off-the-books of regular diplomatic activity and more expansive than it initially appeared. On Tuesday, Giuliani's lawyer informed Congress the former New York City mayor will defy House Democrats' impeachment subpoena. The Office of Management and Budget also does not plan to turn over the documents that impeachment committees subpoenaed, a spokeswoman said. The new testimony could seriously challenge White House arguments that Trump did not abuse his power by asking a foreign leader for dirt on a domestic political foe: Joe Biden. It adds to a growing tapestry of evidence that suggests that the call between the US and Ukrainian Presidents and a whistleblower account of behind-the-scenes activity in the White House represents just the tip of the iceberg of what may have been going on. According to sources familiar with the testimony, Hill quoted Bolton as saying that Trump's lawyer, who was freelancing on Ukraine policy apparently at the President's request, was a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up." Bolton is now almost certain to be called as a witness -- a dangerous prospect for a President who ousted him after disagreements over North Korea and Russia policy. According to the sources familiar with Hill's testimony, she also said Bolton warned her that he would not get caught up in what he referred to as a "drug deal" being cooked up on Ukraine by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Hill also testified that the public discord over issues like Ukraine sowed confusion about American policy and was the kind of corruption that the Russians could exploit, according to another source with knowledge of the testimony. Hill said "corruption is how Putin accesses our system," the source said, although the source did not specify to what exactly Hill was referring. Hill is a former intelligence official and Russia scholar who specializes in the Russian President. The new details were first reported by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Danger sign for the White House: The testimony of Hill, formerly senior director for Russian and European Affairs on the National Security Council, may also be a sign that the White House will not succeed in its effort to prevent all former officials from testifying as part of a strategy of blanket non-cooperation with the inquiry. In a letter to the White House counsel's office, Hill's lawyer rejected the idea that much of her testimony would be subject to executive privilege since many details of the affair were now public -- including Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 -- a rough transcript of which was released by the White House itself. And in an eye-opening warning, the lawyer, Lee Wolosky, cited precedent to the effect that privilege disappears if "government misconduct occurred," in an apparent suggestion of possible criminal activity within the White House. One source told CNN that Hill, a Trump appointee, saw "wrongdoing" in the White House approach to Ukraine and tried to report it to officials. Hill was concerned that Giuliani was circumventing the State Department to run what some Democrats have labeled a "shadow foreign policy" by seeking the removal of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and pushing for Ukraine to open an investigation into the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Ukraine by either Biden. Two of Giuliani's associates who helped to investigate Biden's role in Ukraine were arrested at Dulles Airport outside Washington last week as they tried to leave the country and were indicted on campaign finance charges. What makes Hill's testimony especially interesting is the fact that she was not on Trump's call with Zelensky on July 25. She had officially left her post by then. That means that her account relates to the period before the telephone call -- suggesting that the scheme to pressure Ukraine was much longer in the making than it first appeared.
Giuliani’s $500,000 payout from Fraud Guarantee reveals the hypocrisy of his attacks on Hunter BidenGiuliani is staunchly opposed to cashing in on political connections — unless he’s doing it.By Aaron RuparFor months, Rudy Giuliani has played a leading role in the ongoing effort by President Donald Trump and his allies to gin up a scandal surrounding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. But new reporting about Giuliani’s own business dealings with shadowy Ukraine-linked figured shines a light on just how hypocritical his posturing has been. On Monday, both Reuters and the Washington Post reported that Giuliani received $500,000 from a company founded by a man at the center of a scheme to funnel foreign payments to Republican groups, including the pro-Trump super PAC “America First Action,” in 2018. The company in question has the unfortunate name of Fraud Guarantee and was founded by Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American associate of Giuliani’s who was arrested with Igor Fruman (another Giuliani associate) last week. Both men were charged with making false disclosures related to hundreds of thousands of dollars of political contributions that were meant to conceal their foreign origins. As my colleague Andrew Prokop wrote, Parnas and Fruman are often described as “fixers” for Giuliani, and the three men collaborated in a successful effort to oust the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, amid the Trump administration’s efforts to cajole the new Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. Reuters reports that Fraud Guarantee marketed itself as helping clients “reduce and mitigate fraud,” but details surrounding the company remain murky. In interviews with the Post and Reuters, Giuliani insisted the payments he received for consulting and legal services did not originate from foreign sources — but he had a remarkably hard time explaining where else they might have come from. From Reuters:
By Daniel Moritz-RabsonFox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade initally joined the chorus of voices condemning President Donald Trump's decision earlier this month end support for Kurdish fighters in Syria. But now, Kilmeade is accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for criticizing the president's decision to abandon Kurdish forces who served as key allies in U.S. efforts to weaken the Islamic State group. "Just keep in mind, too, as you see Nancy Pelosi and others outraged, I thought Buck Sexton's tweet was right on the money, when he said around 500,000 human beings were killed in Syria while Barack Obama was president and leading for a political settlement to that civil war. Media has been outraged in the last 72 hours over our Syrian policy. They're more outraged over the last 72 hours over our Syria policy than they were at any point over the last seven years of slaughter. Let alone the millions that have flooded in and destabilized portions of Europe," Kilmeade said on Tuesday, reading a tweet from Sexton, a conservative talk show host. Despite condemning regime conduct in Syria, the U.S. focused its military activities on ISIS to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia. Obama's policy towards Syria was established to avoid prolonged involvement in the country, a tactic that generated criticism as humanitarian crises spread across the country. Despite the vast humanitarian concerns, many Democrats did, in fact, continue to push for a diplomatic settlement. Yet the current outrage is focused on Trump's rapid abandonment of Kurdish fighters who worked with U.S. troops and, for five years, were relied upon as a key ally. Kilmeade, as well as the other Fox & Friends hosts have regularly deflected criticism of Trump by saying Democrats are being political opportunists or hypocrites. Despite his rebuke of the left's response to Trump's decision to withdraw support from the Kurdish fighters and pull troops from Syria, Kilmeade was critical of Trump's policy as recently as Monday.
By Selena Simmons-DuffinThe very day President Trump was sworn in — Jan. 20, 2017 — he signed an executive order instructing administration officials "to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay" implementing parts of the Affordable Care Act, while Congress got ready to repeal and replace President Obama's signature health law. Months later, repeal and replace didn't work, after the late Sen. John McCain's dramatic thumbs down on a crucial vote (Trump still frequently mentions this moment in his speeches and rallies, including in his recent speech on Medicare). After that, the president and his administration shifted to a piecemeal approach as they tried to take apart the ACA. "ObamaCare is a broken mess," the president tweeted in the fall of 2017, after repeal in Congress had failed. "Piece by piece, we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!" Two years later, what has his administration done to change the ACA, and who's been affected? Below are five of the biggest changes to the federal health law under President Trump.
By Jessie Yeung, CNN(CNN) - We may have already discovered the essence of life on Mars 40 years ago, according to a former NASA scientist. Gilbert V. Levin, who was principal investigator on a NASA experiment that sent Viking landers to Mars in 1976, published an article in the Scientific American journal last Thursday, arguing the experiment's positive results were proof of life on the red planet. The experiment, called Labeled Release (LR), was designed to test Martian soil for organic matter. "It seemed we had answered that ultimate question," Levin wrote in the article. In the experiment, the Viking probes placed nutrients in Mars soil samples -- if life were present, it would consume the food and leave gaseous traces of its metabolism, which radioactive monitors would then detect. To make sure it was a biological reaction, the test was repeated after cooking the soil, which would prove lethal to known life. If there was a measurable reaction in the first and not the second sample, that would suggest biological forces at work -- and that's exactly what happened, according to Levin. However, other experiments failed to find any organic material and NASA couldn't duplicate the results in their laboratory -- so they dismissed the positive result as false positives, some unknown chemical reaction rather than proof of extraterrestrial life. "NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life," said Levin in his article. "Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA's subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results." But now, decades later, there are more and more promising signs. NASA's Curiosity rover found organic matter on Mars in 2018, and just last week it found sediments that suggest there were once ancient salty lakes on the surface of Mars. "What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars?" Levin wrote. "The astonishing fact is that there is none." Levin, a maverick researcher who has often run afoul of the NASA bureaucracy, has insisted for decades that "it is more likely than not that we detected life." Now, he and LR co-experimenter Patricia Ann Straat are calling for further investigation. "NASA has already announced that its 2020 Mars lander will not contain a life-detection test," Levin wrote in the Scientific American article. "In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible."
George Kent reportedly testified to House intelligence committee that he warned colleagues about ‘disinformation’ campaign back in MarchBy Joanna WaltersGeorge Kent arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday to testify before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. Giuliani under investigation: Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges, Giuliani has told Reuters today. The businessman, Lev Parnas, is a close associate of Giuliani and was involved in his effort to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Giuliani said Parnas’ company, “Fraud Guarantee”, based in Boca Raton, Florida, whose website says it aims to help clients “reduce and mitigate fraud”, engaged Giuliani Partners, a management and security consulting firm, around August 2018. Giuliani said he was hired to consult on Fraud Guarantee’s technologies and provide legal advice on regulatory issues. Federal prosecutors are “examining Giuliani’s interactions” with Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, who was also indicted on campaign finance charges, a law enforcement source told Reuters on Sunday. The New York Times reported last week that Parnas had told associates he paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for what Giuliani said was business and legal advice. Giuliani said for the first time on Monday that the total amount was $500,000.
KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas - The Nevada Gaming Control Board says Steve Wynn has brought "discredit" upon the state and its gaming industry, according to a complaint filed in court on Monday.
By TANYA SNYDERA senior House Democrat has asked the Transportation Department's internal watchdog to investigate whether Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao showed undue favoritism to Kentucky constituents of her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Friday, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the top Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, wrote the DOT's inspector general asking him to probe any conflicts of interest Chao has. Specifically DeFazio cited two POLITICO stories, one detailing Chao's disproportionate number of meetings with Kentucky officials during her first year in the position, and another suggesting she had designated a member of her senior staff to serve as a point person for Kentucky issues, which the agency denies. "I would expect Secretary Chao to meet with individuals from her home state more regularly than other states, but the sheer volume … is troubling,” Defazio said. “Even more troubling is the fact that Senator McConnell’s campaign touted the POLITICO article on social media.” DeFazio's request to the inspector general also raised concerns about previous reporting by the New York Times detailing Chao’s financial conflicts of interest related to her family’s shipping business and her failure to divest from Vulcan Materials Co.
Roseville, California — A man went to a police station in California on Monday with a body in his car and told authorities he killed four people, CBS Sacramento reports. Police said the suspect walked into the Mt. Shasta Police Department at 12:11 p.m. and reported he committed a homicide at his residence in Roseville, more than 200 miles away. Three victims were later found dead at the suspect's apartment. Some in the apartment complex were saying it was like a horror movie. They're stunned multiple people lost their lives in what's usually a quiet complex. "Yeah that's absolutely insane," neighbor Eric McDermid said. "It's starting to give me a panic attack now." A Roseville police spokesperson said the suspect, whose name has not yet been released, is in custody in Siskiyou County. Additionally, police said the suspect was known to the victims, whose names have also not been released. Police said they believe this was an isolated incident and that there was no threat to the public.
Trump loyalist accused of being president’s ‘eyes and ears’ after crashing closed-door impeachment hearingFlorida Republican gets kicked out of meeting he was never supposed to be in at the first placeBy Chris Riott - independentA loyal supporter of Donald Trump has been removed from a closed-door impeachment hearing after House officials ruled he had no right to be there. Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, had attempted to crash a meeting put together by the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees — the official congressional panels spearheading an impeachment inquiry into the president. There was just one problem: Mr Gaetz does not serve on any of the three panels handling the inquiry. He was swiftly ejected from the room and stayed outside shortly after to complain to reporters about the situation. Mr Gaetz argued that, because the House judiciary committee, of which he is a member, has previously led impeachment enquiries, he should have been allowed in the room. “It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Mr Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?” The Republican congressman was attempting to enter the closed-door hearing with Fiona Hill, Mr Trump’s British-born former top aide on Russia and ex-deputy assistant to the president. Mr Gaetz has repeatedly called for an end to the impeachment inquiry, and on Monday was roundly mocked on Twitter for trying to crash the meeting. Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, tweeted: “I suspect there is concern that Gaetz entered the room to be Trump’s eyes and ears.” Elie Honig, another former federal prosecutor, said: “This is a mob tactic - send a tough guy into the courtroom to glare at the witness.” “I’ve seen much tougher guys than Gaetz do it,” he added. As the former prosecutor noted, Mr Gaetz previously tweeted a seemingly threatening message to Mr Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen the night before he was set to testify before the House oversight committee. “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat,” he wrote at the time. “I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot.” The House ethics committee later launched an investigation into incendiary tweets he posted about the president’s former attorney. He later apologised and was cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida bar. Ms Hill was testifying before the House panels surrounding Mr Trump’s phone call with Ukraine, which sparked allegations of the president abusing his power by seeking foreign aid in his 2020 re-election efforts. A memorandum of a phone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed Mr Trump requesting a “favour” from Mr Zelensky before discussing one of his political rivals, Joe Biden, a 2020 contender for the White House. The memorandum shows Mr Trump urging Mr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Mr Biden and his son, Hunter, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them.
Shredding allegedly took place in first week of December 2016 Publisher American Media calls story ‘completely untrue’By Martin PengellyAmerican Media and the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper shredded sensitive documents about Donald Trump shortly before the 2016 election, the reporter Ronan Farrow alleges in a book published on Tuesday. Ronan Farrow on investigating Harvey Weinstein: ‘When family issues are thrown at me, it’s a dirty move’ In Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow writes that the shredding happened in the first week of November 2016, on the day the Wall Street Journal reported a Playboy model’s claim to have had an affair with Trump and American Media’s role in keeping the story quiet. That process is referred to in the title of Farrow’s book. According to Farrow, Dylan Howard, then editor of the Enquirer, ordered a staffer to “get everything out of the safe” and said “we need to get a shredder down there”. Farrow writes: “The staffer opened the safe, removed a set of documents, and tried to wrest it shut. Later, reporters would discuss the safe like it was the warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones, but it was small and cheap and old.” Farrow quotes an employee of the Enquirer as saying “a larger than customary volume of refuse” was collected from the Enquirer offices later the same day. He also quotes a “senior AMI employee” as saying: “We are always at the edge of what’s legally permissible. It’s very exciting.” On CNN on Monday morning, Farrow said the safe contained details of alleged consensual affairs and payoffs and also allegations of assault by Jill Harth, who in a 1997 complaint accused Trump of “attempted ‘rape’”. In October 2016, amid a flood of allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump, she stood by that allegation in an interview with the Guardian. The Enquirer endorsed Trump and published negative stories about his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Farrow’s claims were reported before the book’s publication by outlets including Politico, CNN and the Daily Beast. An attorney for Howard said in a statement the former editor would not comment, “while all legal options and jurisdictions are being considered”. A spokesman for American Media said in a statement: “Mr Farrow’s narrative is driven by unsubstantiated allegations from questionable sources and while these stories may be dramatic, they are completely untrue.” Catch and Kill has also sparked intense controversy over its coverage of sexual assault allegations against the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and NBC host Matt Lauer, which both men deny. Ronan Farrow reveals extreme measures Weinstein took to bury alleged crimes The book is the subject of legal threats around the world but still went on sale on Tuesday. In an interview with the Guardian published last weekend, Farrow said the factchecking process had been so rigorous, one factchecker “got a stress nosebleed”. “I’ll let the reporting in the book stand on its own,” Farrow told CNN. Farrow writes that the safe which held the Trump material belonged to Barry Levine, then executive editor of the Enquirer. Levine is now co-author, with Monique El-Faizy, of the forthcoming book All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator.
By Nicole Gaouette and Michael Callahan, CNNWashington (CNN) - President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday giving the Treasury Department "very significant new sanctions authorities" against Turkey, but the US doesn't have any immediate plans to use them, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday. "We are not activating the sanctions," Mnuchin said. "These are very powerful sanctions. We hope we don't have to use them, but we could shut down the Turkish economy if we need to." News of the potential sanctions, which could be used to target any part of the Turkish government or any person associated with it, fell flat. In a flurry of bipartisan criticism, some lawmakers said "conditional sanctions" were insufficient, while others charged the move was an attempt to stymie Congress. Senators and former officials pointed out that Ankara already appears to have blasted through the administration's threshold for triggering penalties on multiple fronts, from attacks on civilians to undermining counterterrorism operations in northeastern Syria. Meaningless nonsense' Some senators questioned Trump's seeming reluctance to sanction Turkey and raised an eyebrow at his administration's decision to team up with Russia on Thursday to oppose a UN Security Council resolution by European countries condemning Turkey's actions. One critic called the gesture "meaningless nonsense" and noted it came on a day when the Pentagon confirmed that US Special Forces had come under fire from Turkish positions. Trump, who has a well-established affinity for authoritarian leaders, has invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House in November. The sanctions order comes as the administration struggles to respond to a backlash against Trump's decision to pull US troops out of northeastern Syria. Analysts say the pullout has given Erdogan room to act on his long-held goal of attacking the Kurds who fought for and with the US against ISIS. "President Trump gave Turkey the green light to attack the Syrian Kurds the moment he agreed to Erdogan's request to move American Special Forces away from key Kurdish-controlled areas," said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. "The idea that the Administration is now going to sanction Turkey to protect the Kurdish people rings totally hollow," Van Hollen said. "This is nothing but an effort to stop the Congress from taking action to try to prevent further loss of life and get a Turkish withdrawal." Republican lawmakers in particular have harshly denounced Trump's decision as a betrayal of the Kurds and a strategic blunder that will weaken American credibility, reverse gains against ISIS, make it harder for the US to build alliances and give a boost to Russia, China and Iran. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, issued a statement Friday saying that "conditional sanctions aren't appropriate for the threat we face. When it comes to dealing with Erdogan and protecting our Kurdish allies, the Trump Administration needs to up their game." Otherwise, Graham said, "the conditional sanctions ... will be viewed by Turkey as a tepid response and will embolden Erdogan even more." Graham was among those who pointed to abuses that surpassed the administration's benchmark for levying penalties against Turkey. The Treasury statement had said that Trump's threat of sanctions was meant to dissuade Turkey from actions that included "the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, targeting of civilian infrastructure, targeting of ethnic or religious minorities." Graham pointed to the fact that Turkey is clearly engaged in targeting ethnic minorities, as the point of its attack on Kurds in northeastern Syria is to target Kurds. "We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in Syria by Turkey, the destruction of a reliable ally in the Kurds, and the reemergence of ISIS," he said. 'What's the bar?' On Thursday, a senior State Department official said the US would not stand for "inhumane" and "disproportionate" activity by the Turks, which would "include ethnic cleansing" and "indiscriminate artillery, air and other fires directed at civilian populations."
AFPLos Angeles (AFP) - Basketball superstar LeBron James was accused of turning a blind eye to Chinese repression on Tuesday after he criticized a Houston Rockets executive for angering China with a "misinformed" tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong. James told reporters that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated" on Hong Kong and should have kept his mouth shut, as the outspoken Lakers forward waded into a charged debate that other high-profile NBA figures have shied away from. "So many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally and spiritually. So just be careful with what we tweet, and we say, and we do," James told reporters when asked for comment in Los Angeles after returning from the NBA's annual China tour. His remarks drew praise from Chinese social media users, who have savaged Morey for butting into the country's affairs, but the US reaction on Twitter was swift and harsh. "@KingJames — you're parroting communist propaganda. China is running torture camps and you know it," said Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, referring to China's reported incarceration of up to one million Muslim Uighurs in prison-like camps. The backlash in China against Morey's comments has cast a cloud over the NBA's lucrative broadcasting, merchandising and sponsorship interests in the country, where it has legions of fans.
CBS This Morning - We're learning about former National Security Adviser John Bolton's alarm over the Trump administration's Ukraine policy. Bolton reportedly wanted White House lawyers to be alerted in July when he learned about efforts to pressure Ukraine. Bolton's former aide, Fiona Hill, testified Monday before House impeachment investigators. Nancy Cordes reports.
CNN - A source tells CNN that Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser, testified that former national security adviser John Bolton referred to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up," as first reported by The New York Times.
Do Republicans want to count the population or not? Trump's doing everything he can to screw up the censusBy Sophia TesfayeOne of the first changes Donald Trump made after inheriting the White House from Barack Obama was to hang a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. The president viewed as a vicious racist even by the standards of his time once pushed back at a Supreme Court chief justice following a decision involving Jackson's treatment of the Cherokee nation, saying: “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Almost 200 years later, Trump stood in the White House Rose Garden hours after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had voted with the "liberal" justices to stop the administration’s attempt to rig the 2020 census — and declared his own intention to go around that ruling. After a two-year-battle to politicize the census by including a question about citizenship status, which experts say would result in an undercount, the Trump administration dropped its pursuit following the Supreme Court’s decision. The administration had initially argued it needed citizenship data to help prepare for voting rights cases, but because Trump's Department of Justice had never engaged in such litigation, Roberts determined that rationale “seems to have been contrived.” He remanded the case to lower courts to be reconsidered, but no time was left before scheduled printing began. Instead Trump signed an executive order directing the Commerce Department, which houses the Census Bureau, "to strengthen its efforts ... to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship." So in August, the Census Bureau entered a proposal for a general clearance to acquire state administrative records, such as those of recipients of public-assistance programs, into the federal registry. Although the bureau already receives some administrative records from states, it has complained that the records it receives are stripped of identifiable information. With more than a month left open for public comment and consideration on the proposal, the Associated Press reported on Monday that the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators confirmed that nearly every state has recently received additional requests from the Census Bureau for information including citizenship status, race, and home address. This move is strongly reminiscent of the request for sensitive voter data from every state made by Trump's now-defunct “election integrity” commission, led by notorious vote-suppression guru Kris Kobach, and is clearly meant to serve as an end-run of the Supreme Court’s ruling. While acquiring citizenship data through a direct inquiry on the census was not ruled illegal — Roberts instead determined that bureau officials were not honest in their answers to the district court — collecting citizenship information through the census bureau still presents similar problems.
By Jessica CampisiPresident Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he was paid $500,000 for his work at a company co-founded by an associate who was arrested on campaign finance charges. Giuliani told Reuters that Fraud Guarantee, Lev Parnas’s Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, took on Giuliani Partners as a management and security consulting firm around August 2018. Giuliani was hired to consult with the company and provide legal advice. Giuliani also said he received two payments within weeks of each other but did not say when they were made. Parnas, a Ukraine-born businessman, was one of two Giuliani associates who helped the former New York City mayor in efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry after revelations that Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son. The latest development comes after The New York Times noted last week that Parnas told associates he paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for his work. Parnas and Igor Fruman, another Florida-based businessman, were arrested last Wednesday at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets. They arrests came hours after they had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Published Mon, Oct 14 20195:05 PM EDTUpdated an hour agoBy Tyler CliffordAn Ohio farmer and former Republican Party official told CNBC on Monday that President Donald Trump can’t win his vote back, even if the president went above and beyond what’s humanly possible. Chris Gibbs, a soybean and corn farmer whose family owns and operates 560 acres of farmland, said on “Power Lunch” he’s “dubious” about the $40 billion to $50 billion worth of agricultural buys from China that the Trump administration last week announced after another round of trade talks. “I’m not going to vote for the president, and I’m on record for saying that,” said Gibbs, a former chairperson of the Shelby County Republican Party. “He could come up with this $50 billion, he could walk across my pond and not get wet, and I’m still not going to vote for him because, you know, at the end of the day my name is Chris Gibbs, it’s not Judas, and I’m not going to sell my political moorings for 30 pieces of silver.” Gibbs was one of millions of voters who gave Trump Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, helping him win the White House in the 2016 election against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Republican president won more than 78% of the vote in Shelby County, which is on the west side of the state. Ohio is historically seen as a critical path for both Republicans and Democrats to win presidential elections. “I’m out,” Gibbs said.
#DeleteFacebook Trends After Report That Mark Zuckerberg Held Secretive Meetings With Conservative InfluencersBy Melissa LemieuxOn Monday afternoon #DeleteFacebook made a comeback as a Twitter trend after it was revealed that Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg had held informal meetings and off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commenters and at least one Republican congressman in a Politico article, including Tucker Carlson and Lindsay Graham. Many in the hashtag either reacted with scorn to the trend or in a supportive manner. "I stopped actively posting on @facebook in 2016 after it was revealed that it helped elect the orange fecal smear. Now #DeleteFacebook seems like the best course of action. Yes, I'm still on IG but I feel it does less to push the trump agenda. Less older white supremacists", said actress Yvette Nicole Brown. Others supported Zuckerberg's dinners. "Don't back down Zuckerburg! You don't have to worry about liberals actually following through with their #DeleteFacebook threats. Not a chance in Hell they can go without harassing people who don't think the same way they do. All social media platforms are safe," said Mary Mariacher. According to Politico, the dinners began in July and are apparently Zuckerberg's attempt at circumventing the notion that Facebook is biased against conservatives. In June, President Trump threatened to sue Facebook and Google for said perceived biases. This is a position disputed by presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who bought advertising space on Facebook that purposefully included false information about Zuckerberg in the hope of pushing Facebook into removing political ads ahead of the 2020 election. Senator Warren's ad not only passed Facebook's factchecking committee but was spread far and wide across the platform. "You're probably shocked, and you might be thinking, 'how could this possibly be true?' Well, it's not," said Senator Warren said in the ad. Her ad was a response to President Trump's recent Joe Biden-related ads, in which he accused Biden and his son Hunter of corrupt dealings in the Ukraine.
By Berkeley Lovelace Jr.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill to lower prescription drug prices would save Medicare $345 billion over 10 years, according to a preliminary analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The savings wouldn’t begin until 2023, assuming the bill gets passed by both the House and Senate and signed by President Donald Trump before the end of this year, the CBO said in the report released late Friday. The greatest savings would come in 2028 at $93 billion, according to the CBO, an independent agency that reviews congressional spending. The CBO said the largest savings would come from the provision that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices on as many as 250 of the most expensive drugs per year and apply those discounts to private health plans across the U.S. The legislation includes a penalty on pharmaceutical companies that refuse to negotiate or fail to reach an agreement with the U.S. government, starting at 65% of the gross sales of the drug in question. The lower prices under the legislation would immediately lower current and expected future revenues for pharmaceutical companies, according to the CBO. The plan would also alter drug manufacturers’ incentives and have broad effects on the drug market, the CBO said. “A manufacturer that was dissatisfied with a negotiation could pull a drug out of the U.S. market entirely, though CBO expects that would be unlikely for drugs already being sold in the United States,” CBO Director Phillip Swagel said in the report. Current rules prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating drug prices on behalf of Medicare — the federal government’s health insurance plan for the elderly. Private insurers use pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate drug rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers in exchange for better coverage. Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders had been working on the plan for months. The legislation is expected to move through House committees to a vote on the floor as soon as the end of this month. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who is currently rallying support for a Senate drug pricing bill backed by Trump, praised Pelosi’s CBO score but noted that any bill that passes would likely need to be bipartisan.
Trump escalated his war on Fox News again, slamming anchor Chris Wallace for his coverage of the Ukraine scandal and comparing him unfavorably to his dead fatherBy Sinéad BakerPresident Donald Trump escalated his war on Fox News again, slamming the anchor Chris Wallace for his coverage of the Ukraine scandal and comparing Wallace unfavorably to his father, who died in 2012. Trump tweeted on Sunday: "Somebody please explain to Chris Wallace of Fox, who will never be his father (and my friend), Mike Wallace, that the Phone Conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was a congenial & good one. "It was only Schiff's made up version of that conversation that was bad!" he added, referring to Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Trump has rejected that there was any wrongdoing during his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which was the basis of an explosive whistleblower complaint that last month prompted Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump. The White House's notes of the call showed that Trump, shortly after saying the US does "a lot for Ukraine," asked Zelensky to investigate the dealings of Joe Biden, the former US vice president who's now Trump's election rival, in Ukraine while Biden's son was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Schiff, who's leading the inquiry stemming from the whistleblower complaint, has described Trump's call with Zelensky as a "classic Mafia-like shakedown." Trump has repeatedly accused Schiff of treason. Mike Wallace, who died in 2012 at age 93, was a longtime CBS journalist who interviewed Trump when he was still a businessman for "60 Minutes." Following his father's death, Chris Wallace described him as "the best reporter I have ever known.".
By Daniel DaleWashington (CNN) - President Donald Trump said again on Friday that Americans need identification to buy groceries, which remains not true. "You know, if you want to go out and buy groceries, you need identification. If you want to do almost anything you need identification. The only thing you don't need identification for is to vote, the most important single thing you're doing -- to vote," Trump said at a campaign rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Trump added: "You know why? Because they cheat like hell, that's why." Voter fraud is exceedingly rare, and there is no evidence of mass cheating by Democrats. Friday wasn't the first time that Trump claimed Americans need identification for their grocery purchases. He said the same at a Florida rally in July 2018. The day after the Florida rally, his then-press secretary, Sarah Sanders, told reporters that Trump was referring to purchases of "beer or wine." But three months after that, Trump told the conservative Daily Caller that ID is required "if you buy, you know, a box of cereal." Grocery stores require identification for alcohol and tobacco purchases (for proof that customers are of legal age), purchases of certain medications, and when customers are paying by check. Costco, the membership chain, requires identification to become a member. And shoppers at other stores might occasionally be asked for identification when paying by credit card. But these are exceptions, not the rule. Millions of Americans buy groceries every day without being asked for any ID. Other false claims: It's not true that "you don't need identification" to vote anywhere in the country. Thirty-five states -- including Louisiana, where Trump was speaking on Friday -- have some kind of voter identification requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of these states require photo identification, while some allow other forms of identification. Trump made other false claims at the Friday rally.
By Rachel FrazinThe U.S. census bureau is asking states for drivers’ license records, which normally includes citizenship data, and information on people who receive government assistance The Associated Press reported Monday. The reported requests follow a recent Supreme Court decision earlier this year that said the Trump administration can't put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. After the ruling, Trump signed an executive order directing the Commerce Department, which houses the census bureau, "to strengthen its efforts ... to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship." The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators told the wire service that most states were given requests for information such as citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. Spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey told the AP in an email that “each state is making their own determination how to respond.” Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) told AP he would not turn over the information. “We, as a general rule, are not comfortable with giving out our data, certainly not in such a huge amount. That was the overriding concern,” his spokesman told the AP. A Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokeswoman told the AP the department has received the request but hasn't responded. Andrea Senteno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which has contested the executive order, told the AP that motor agency vehicle records are "bad at determining when someone is not a citizen.” “The Census Bureau usually plans for these types of big changes in their operations many, many years in advance, but they don’t have enough time right now to actually plan and provide clear information to the public about how they are going to use these administrative records,” Senteno said. “They’re flying by the seat of their pants right now.”
The Supreme Court earlier this year blocked the Census Bureau's plans to include a citizenship question in its 2020 population count.By Associated PressThe U.S. Census Bureau is asking states for drivers' license records that typically include citizenship data and has made a new request for information on recipients of government assistance after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked plans to include a citizenship question in its 2020 population count. The two approaches, documented by The Associated Press, alarm civil rights activists. They caution that inaccuracies in state motor vehicle records make them a poor choice for tracking citizenship, if that is the bureau's goal, and they see the requests as an extension of earlier efforts that could chill Latino participation in the 2020 Census. After the U.S. Supreme Court nixed the plan by President Donald Trump's administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the president signed an executive order in July requiring the U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to compile citizenship information through state and federal administrative records. Specifically, it ordered the department to increase efforts "to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship." The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators told The AP that most, if not all, states recently received requests for information including citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. The association has advised members to consult their privacy officers when deciding how to respond. "Each state is making their own determination how to respond," association spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey said in an email. In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White denied the request. "We, as a general rule, are not comfortable with giving out our data, certainly not in such a huge amount. That was the overriding concern," said spokesman Dave Drucker. Other states are weighing what to do. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received the request but hasn't responded, spokeswoman Beth Frady said. The request has alarmed Latino advocacy groups. Motor vehicle agency records are notoriously inaccurate and "bad at determining when someone is not a citizen," said Andrea Senteno, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is challenging Trump's executive order.
Opinion by Dean Obeidallah(CNN) - There was an interesting development about Fox News in recent days, and it wasn't just about the sudden departure of anchor Shephard Smith. Why did Attorney General Bill Barr meet Wednesday night with Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch, and (as the New York Times reported) do so at the media mogul's home? Neither would publicly comment, but the meeting — between a public servant who has shown himself increasingly as a Trump loyalist, and the owner of the President's longtime favorite, cheerleading, cable news network — has raised a few eyebrows, and with good reason. As Rep. Harley Rouda, a California Democrat who serves on the House Oversight committee, bluntly declared on my SiriusXM radio show Friday: "What the hell is the attorney general of the United States doing meeting with the head of Fox? And for what purpose could that possibly be, especially in light of the fact this is happening exactly at the same time the president of the United States is saying Fox News isn't being kind enough to him?" Rouda added he believes it's within the purview of the House Oversight committee to investigate this meeting. A key — and consequential — question that might be answered by the committee is whether was this a legitimate meeting concerning the government business or was it to help Trump's 2020 campaign? Recall that the attorney general of the United States, per the Justice Department's own website, serves as the "chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government." Barr himself testified in May, under oath, before Congress about his focus as attorney general, "I'm in the business of determining whether a crime has been committed." Was Barr investigating potential crimes in his meeting with Murdoch and if so, were they so significant that the AG himself had to travel to New York, as opposed to sending FBI agents? Or maybe the visit with Murdoch — a Trump supporter and confidant — was about something else altogether. As he fends off an impeachment inquiry while trying to run for reelection, Trump has indeed become increasingly critical of Fox News. He slammed a Fox News poll last week that showed 51% of those surveyed think he should be impeached and removed from office. "Whoever their Pollster is, they suck," Trump explained on Twitter. In mid-August, he told reporters, "Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it." Trump followed up that criticism with numerous similar tweets over the past few months, one criticizing what he dubbed the "new" Fox News for — in his view — allowing the DNC's communications director to appear on the network and go unchallenged. "We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn't working for us anymore!" he groused. More recently, in late September, Trump went after Fox News's Ed Henry — including retweeting a tweet that described Henry as a "lying shit head" — for simply asking a guest if he was OK with Trump asking Ukraine's president in his July 25 phone call to "dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden and his son."
"The Firtash thing is a smear job," Giuliani told NBC News, denying that he had discussed the matter with Trump.By Allan Smith President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Monday denied being involved with a Ukrainian oligarch whose ethical issues have dovetailed with the ongoing impeachment inquiry into the president. Giuliani also told NBC News he was not planning on visiting Dmitry Firtash, who is currently wanted on corruption charges in the U.S., during a trip to Vienna he planned last week. He said he could not speak for his two Soviet-born business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested last week on campaign-finance charges in Virginia as they were about to board one-way flights to Vienna. Giuliani has said their similarly timed Austrian trips were not in conjunction. "I wasn't planning to go see him," Giuliani said. "That was the last thing from my mind on why I was going to Vienna. There was a very important reason I was going that I'm not at liberty to disclose right now that will make it quite clear [Parnas and Fruman] were not fleeing. And I don't know, I can't speak for them, they have their own businesses. I actually do two things with them. I represent their company, and they help me find people. But I'm pretty sure they were going just for the purpose I knew about." Giuliani insisted he has "nothing to do with Firtash," whose legal team includes Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, the pro-Trump husband and wife attorneys who Fox News reported were "working off the books" with Giuliani as part of his Ukrainian venture. "So, Firtash, I know nothing about," Giuliani said. "I'm not going to answer any questions about because I'm probably going to get it wrong, and you can ask them." Giuliani also said he has "never" brought up Firtash's extradition battle with Trump. "I'm not even sure the president is aware of him," Giuliani said. "I think if you asked the president 'who is Dmitry Firtash?' He would say 'I don't know.' As far as I know, we've never discussed him." One of Ukraine's wealthiest businessman, Firtash has battled extradition charges to the U.S. for the past two years as the Department of Justice seeks to prosecute him over allegations he bribed Indian officials to land a lucrative mining deal. Federal prosecutors labeled him as an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime." Firtash has denied that label and the charge, fighting them from Vienna, where he has lived for the past five years.
The family of a Texas woman shot and killed inside her own home by police during a wellness check is demanding answers and calling for justice. Fort Worth police released body camera video of the incident where the officer shot Atatiana Jefferson through a window early Saturday. The officer is expected to be questioned Monday. "I mean it's senseless. My daughter… had her whole life in front of her," Marquis Jefferson said. The shooting is reminiscent of the death of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was killed in his Dallas home by a white police officer last year. In this case, Jefferson's family wants to know how and why the 28-year-old pre-med graduate wound up dead, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca. Atatiana Jefferson was up late playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew Saturday. The door was left open, and neighbor James Smith called the Fort Worth police number for non-emergencies about Jefferson's home around 2 a.m. Saturday. "I called because I was concerned for my neighbors," Smith said. "Well, the front doors have been open since 10 o'clock and I haven't seen nobody moving around," Smith could be heard on the call. "What I witnessed was three or four tactical officers come from around the corner seem like… And in less than a minute, I heard gunshots," Smith recounted of the incident. Fort Worth police released body camera video showing an officer outside the house with a flashlight. "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" the officer shouted on the bodycam video before you could hear a gunshot. He never identified himself as police on the video before firing a shot into a window where Jefferson's nephew was steps away.
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