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Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.


Trump-Ukraine Affair Page 5


Donald J. Trump used the powers of the presidency to bully Ukraine into digging up damaging information on a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden; that is an abuse of power and an impeachable offence, that is an abuse of power is against the law and the constitution of the United States. Donald J. Trump is pushing the Russian version of the 2016 election interference to protect Trump and defend Putin. Donald J. Trump has corrupted the white house, the DOJ, the state department and other government departments and agencies to protect and defend Donald J. Trump. Instead of putting America first, they are putting Trump and Putin first. Anyone who is a government employee that puts Donald J. Trump before America and the constitution is not patriot. The oaths they have taking are to America and the constitution not to any individual.

Anyone who puts Donald J. Trump above America and the constitution are not protecting nor defending America have broken the oath they have sworn to America and the constitution. Donald J. Trump and many in the Republican Party believe Trump is above our laws he is not. Donald J. Trump has committed abuse of power, obstruction of justice, bribery, extortion, illegal use of public monies, betrayed the public trust. Donald J. Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors numerus times; the Trump-Ukraine Affair is just the latest example. Donald J. Trump is up to it again seeking help from a foreign government remember when Trump asked the Russians for help to get Hillary Clinton’s emails, 5 Hours later Russian hackers went after Hillary Clinton's emails, then he blamed her for seeking help from the Russians.

We have heard this story before remember the last cover story it was about adaptions, this time the cover story is they were trying to find out about corruption. Once again, Trump has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and once again, he tried to place the blame on someone else as he always does, never taken the blame not matter what he does. Get informed read the information provide below to make you own determination on the Trump-Ukraine Affair.

Read more about the Trump-Ukraine Affair:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More is revealed about the president and Rudy Giuliani’s alleged efforts to get Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to do their dirty work against Joe Biden.
By Sam Brodey, Allison Quinn
President Donald Trump abused the power of his office to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 election—and White House officials covered it up, according to a shocking U.S. government whistleblower’s complaint revealed Thursday. The anonymous whistleblower says multiple “deeply disturbed” White House officials raised alarm about Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into potential White House rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s activities in Ukraine. The effort centered on a July 25 phone call with Zelensky in which Trump asked Ukraine’s leader to do him a “favor” and investigate the Bidens, according to a previously released transcript. That call was so disturbing that White House officials began discussing with administration lawyers how to handle it because of the likelihood “that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain,” the complaint said. Within days, the whistleblower alleged, officials moved to “lock down” the transcript of the conversation within days, transferring records of it to the White House’s most secure servers. “This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call,” the whistleblower wrote. The complaint also says White House officials told the whistleblower that this wasn’t even the first time that a transcript of a talk between Trump and a world leader had been placed into the White House’s most secure system “for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive… information.”

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

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

by Jacob Pramuk
The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint that has embroiled President Donald Trump in an impeachment inquiry and clouded his political future.The nine-page document details an “urgent concern” that the president is “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” It not only details Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president during which he asked his counterpart to investigate the Biden family, but also alleges administration efforts to “lock down” records of the conversation. The complaint, based on the accounts of more than half a dozen U.S. officials, implicates more than Trump. It calls his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani a “central figure” in the effort and says Attorney General William Barr “appears to be involved as well.” Concerns that the document would show Trump trying to get a foreign state to investigate one of his chief political rivals — and accusations that the White House improperly stonewalled efforts to see it — led House Democrats to accuse the president of abusing his power. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that the chamber would start impeachment proceedings into Trump, alleging a “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of integrity of our elections.” Shortly after the document’s release, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified about the complaint at the House Intelligence Committee. Members of congressional intelligence panels had a chance to review the document Wednesday. In a statement Thursday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “Nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings—all of which shows nothing improper.” She said the president released a memorandum summarizing the call Wednesday “because he has nothing to hide.”

Chief question: Will Barr protect Trump from the Ukraine scandal?
By Sean Collins
Just months after public scrutiny over his part in the rollout of the Mueller report had faded, Attorney General William Barr is back in the spotlight. The release of a readout of a July call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has once again put Barr at the center of a scandal involving the US and a foreign government. On that call, Trump repeatedly encourages Zelensky to have his government work with Barr to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s role in the firing of a former Ukrainian top prosecutor. And Trump concludes the conversation by telling his Ukrainian counterpart he will instruct his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani (who does not hold any government office) and Barr to give Zelensky a call to discuss the matter. It is not clear whether Barr ever did speak with the Zelensky administration about the matter, a conversation that would have involved the president’s attorney general collaborating with a foreign government to investigate a potential political rival. But Barr’s statements to Congress, particularly those he gave during May testimony about his handling of the release of the Mueller report, have many Democrats concerned the attorney general will attempt to shield the president from inquiries — including a recently launched impeachment inquiry — into potential wrongdoing and that he will refuse to investigate the allegations Trump faces. Here are five questions he could answer to assuage those concerns.

By Maureen Groppe and Ledyard King, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Congressional Republicans on Wednesday dismissed a call between President Donald Trump and the leader of Ukraine as much ado about nothing, despite a summary of the call showing Trump repeatedly pressing for an investigation into a political rival. “What a nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “Democrats have lost their minds when it comes to President @realDonaldTrump.” House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries labeled the call a “textbook abuse of power” but declined to say whether it’s evidence enough to impeach the president. “We are in the midst of an impeachment inquiry,” Jeffries said. The next step, he said, is getting a complaint filed by a whistleblower in the intelligence community.  “We can only imagine what is in that document,” Jeffries said, hours before the administration delivered the complaint to lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees. The Democratic-controlled House passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the Trump administration to turn the complaint over to Congress immediately as required by law. It was the first chance for the House to weigh in on the controversy since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday.

By Jordan Novet
George Kurtz, co-founder and CEO of cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, was at a meeting Wednesday morning when his email inbox was suddenly bombarded with news alerts. “I’m like ‘what, what? What’s going on?’” Kurtz told CNBC in an afternoon interview in San Francisco. “I had no idea.” Kurtz’s inbox was blowing up and he got bombarded with text messages from friends after CrowdStrike’s name appeared in the summary of a July call between President Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine. The White House released the summary amid pressure from House Democrats, who have placed Trump’s conversation with Zelensky at the center of an impeachment inquiry. “It was unintelligible, to be honest,” Kurtz said of Trump’s comments. “But it was a bit of a shock this morning.” CrowdStrike’s name was likely invoked by Trump because the company assisted the Democratic National Committee in investigating a 2016 hack by Russian operatives. Trump has previously suggested that the DNC should have turned over the email servers to the FBI instead of having CrowdStrike investigate, implying that the lack of cooperation should cast doubt on findings that the Russians helped him win the election. CrowdStrike responded on Wednesday by saying in a statement that it “provided all forensic evidence and analysis to the FBI,” and that “we stand by our findings and conclusions that have been fully supported by the US intelligence community.” Kurtz told CNBC that government work makes up a significant amount of the company’s revenue, though he said it doesn’t break out the numbers. He said CrowdStrike works with governments on the local, state and federal level, both in the U.S. and abroad. And he emphasized that the company is “nonpartisan.” “We protect both Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

The secretary of state is facing scrutiny from lawmakers over his involvement in the unfolding scandal.
Lawmakers trying to unravel the controversy over President Donald Trump's discussions with the leader of Ukraine are increasingly homing in on exactly what role Mike Pompeo played in the drama. And few have as much to lose as the secretary of state, a man with huge political ambitions who has closely aligned himself with Trump. Questions about Pompeo and the State Department's role have spread thanks to Trump’s point man on Ukraine, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. A memorandum made public on Wednesday documented what appeared to be Trump's efforts to convince his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. "Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great," Trump tells Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at one point in the memo. On Tuesday night, Giuliani told Fox News that he had gotten in touch with Ukrainian officials at the behest of the State Department. It was one of several times Giuliani has claimed that State officials had tasked him with the mission. "I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it," the former New York City mayor told Fox News, without naming names. Democrats jumped on that to demand answers, even as some Hill staffers privately say they are leery of believing Giuliani. "Rudy Giuliani needs to explain this under oath. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee should call a hearing ASAP," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire tweeted while linking to the clip of Giuliani's interview.

By Laurence H. Tribe, Opinion contributor
Whatever additional evidence against Donald Trump the impeachment inquiry digs up, we already know enough to say: The president must be impeached. Let us count the ways. The White House readout of President Donald Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows that the American president has committed a multitude of high crimes and misdemeanors, all of them impeachable. Even without considering the many prior offenses that were surfaced in the Mueller report and in the special counsel’s prosecutions of numerous Trump allies and associates, including in the Southern District of New York, this readout — which must be the least incriminating version the White House could compose despite its remarkable skills at shading the truth or falsifying it altogether — is utterly devastating. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the readout reveals — to use the Constitution’s term for impeachable offenses beyond “treason” and “bribery” (both of which the readout comes close to establishing) — begin with Trump abusing the foreign policy powers entrusted to the president by Article II in order to serve his own political interests rather than the interests of the American people. Ukraine pressed by Trump, Russia: Those interests were defined here by a bipartisan decision of the Congress we elected to represent us in world affairs using its Article I spending power: Congress decided that it was in our nation’s security interest to provide nearly $400 million in aid to the beleaguered patriots of an American ally fighting a bloody battle with an American adversary. The ally was Ukraine. The adversary was Russia, which had — not so coincidentally — tried to help Trump win office in 2016. Even if this action weren’t payback to Russian President Vladimir Putin and yet another indication of how beholden Trump is to that brutal dictator — which it may well have been — it was a blatant usurpation of Congress’ Appropriation Clause authority for Trump to withhold the aid the Ukranians needed. When asked by Ukraine’s president in this July 25 phone call to purchase more Javelin missiles from the United States for defense purposes, Trump respond that he would gladly do so, although — he actually used the word “though” — he would greatly appreciate that foreign president’s aid in, among other things, gathering evidence to effectively help prosecute Trump’s main rival for the presidency in the forthcoming election.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley on Wednesday described the whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump's communications with Ukraine as "deeply disturbing" after viewing the document. "I can't detail what it involves. Period," Quigley told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "I will tell people that it is deeply disturbing. It reinforces the concerns that what we previously learned and I think it is a blueprint for what we still need to know." Quigley asserted the whistleblower complaint "is the political equivalent" of Trump's claim during his 2016 presidential campaign that he could "stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody" without losing voters. "What the President said during the campaign, he said he could shoot someone on the street and his base would stay with him. I guess what I read, to me, was the political equivalent of that: defying the constitution, committing a criminal act and thinking, 'Well I can get away with it,' " he said. "Some sort of bizarre cult of personality. Deeply disturbing what we read this morning. Alarming." The whistleblower complaint -- which was hand-delivered to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for lawmakers to review -- deals, at least in part, with a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. A transcript of the conversation released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. Even before the whistleblower complaint was made available to lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday declared Trump had betrayed his oath of office and announced she was opening a formal impeachment inquiry intot he President.

Earlier this week, President Trump cited concerns about corruption as his rationale for blocking security assistance to Ukraine. But in a letter sent to four congressional committees in May of this year and obtained by NPR, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood informs lawmakers that he has "certified that the Government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption [and] increasing accountability." The certification was required by law for the release of $250 million in security assistance for Ukraine. That aid was blocked by the White House until Sept. 11 and has since been released. It must be spent before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. more...

By Justin Wise
Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), an Independent who formally left the Republican Party earlier this year, said Wednesday that a memo of President Trump
Donald John Trump Amash responds to Trump: 'It's not about the transcript of a call' Warren announces expansion of presidential campaign Colbert on Ukraine controversy: 'It might be the thing' that gets Trump's conversation with the leader of Ukraine was a "devastating indictment" of the president. "Again, it’s not just about a call, but even the call is a devastating indictment of the president," Amash, who previously argued that the controversy surrounding Trump was more so about his "continuing abuse of the office of the presidency," said on Twitter just moments after the White House released a memo of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodmyr Zelensky. Amash, an outspoken critic of Trump, zeroed in on a portion of the conversation in which the president asked for a "favor" immediately after Zelensky thanked the president for military support. The lawmaker highlighted sections of the discussion, noting that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate CrowdStrike, a U.S.-based Internet security company that initially examined the breach of the Democratic National Committee’s servers in 2016. Trump later called on the Ukrainian leader to work with Attorney General William Barr to look into allegations of corruption against Biden's son, Hunter Biden. Trump's phone call with Zelensky is said to be at least part of a whistleblower complaint that has embroiled his administration in controversy over the last week. Reports first surfaced last week that Trump allegedly pressured the Ukrainian leader to find dirt on a political rival, spawning increasing calls from Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings. The call occurred around the same time that the Trump administration withheld millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, raising additional speculation as to whether the aid was used as leverage in the leaders' talks. Trump has acknowledged speaking with Zelensky about Biden, but has denied addressing military aid during their conversations.

Trump is facing allegations that he tried to strong-arm a foreign leader into launching an investigation that might hurt Democratic contender Joe Biden.
By NBC News
Here is the full, five-page transcription memo released by the White House Wednesday detailing the July 25 phone conversation between President Donald Trump of the United States and Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine. Trump is facing allegations that he tried to strong-arm a foreign leader into launching an investigation that might hurt Democratic contender Joe Biden. In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday for the first time endorsed impeachment proceedings.

Analysis by Nathan Hodge, CNN
Moscow (CNN) - US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Tuesday has set the stage for an intensely partisan fight in Washington. Regardless of the outcome, one clear winner seems to be emerging from scandal over Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky that is engulfing the administration: Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin thus far has refrained from commenting on the Beltway political crisis. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesperson, said Tuesday Moscow was simply "observing another series of internal American political frictions," almost as if he were describing a new season of "House of Cards." But Putin is not a passive observer in the Ukraine drama. At the center of the political storm in Washington is a major allegation: That Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it opened an investigation into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his son. We now know that Trump ordered a hold on nearly $400 million of military and security aid to Ukraine roughly one week before a call with Zelensky. While we can't read Putin's mind, we can safely guess that the news of a possible postponement on military assistance to Ukraine must have been welcome. "They are definitely [thinking] open the champagne, for them it is the best way to drive a wedge in our unique and I really mean unique, bipartisan support for Ukraine," former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told CNN. "The US for all the past five years has been the most important ally, not only in the sense of military aid, not only in the sense of pressure and sanctions but fundamentally leading the international community, so now the Russians should be crazy happy about it." For starters, it's worth remembering that Putin is on the opposite side of a proxy conflict with Zelensky. Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and has backed separatist rebels in the Donbas region of Ukraine's east. The burst of patriotic fervor that accompanied the annexation of Crimea gave Putin a massive popularity boost. And the so-called Crimea "reunification" appeared to be part of a larger project for the Kremlin leader: Counteracting the breakup of the Soviet Union, something Putin has called the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.
On many occasions, Putin has made it clear he does not consider Ukraine to be a legitimate state.

By Greg Miller, Shane Harris and Karoun Demirjian
The acting Director of National Intelligence threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testifies Thursday about an explosive whistleblower complaint about the president, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The revelation reflects the extraordinary tensions between the White House and the nation’s highest-ranking intelligence official over a matter that has triggered impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The officials said that Joseph Maguire, who was thrust into the top intelligence post last month, warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress, where he is scheduled to testify in open and closed hearings on Thursday. Maguire denied that he had done so. In a statement, Maguire said that “at no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019. I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation.” The White House also disputed the account. “This is actually not true,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet. But other officials said that Maguire had pushed the White House to make an explicit legal decision on whether it was going to assert executive privilege over the whistleblower complaint, which centers on a call that Trump made with the leader of Ukraine in late July. Maguire has been caught in the middle of a fight between Congress and the executive branch over the contents of the whistleblower report since it reached his office late last month. He has at times expressed his displeasure to White House counsel Pat Cipollone and others that the White House had put him in the untenable position of denying the material to Congress over a claim that it did not fall within his jurisdiction as leader of the intelligence community.

By Evan McMullin, Opinion contributor
Trump joins a cadre of corrupt Western leaders intent on undermining democracy to stay in power. One of the vital lessons I learned as an undercover CIA officer, and later as an adviser to Republicans in Congress, was how corrupt leaders escalate their abuses of power at the expense of their citizens’ freedom while trying to retain power. It motivated my service at the time and continues to drive my work to protect and improve American democracy now. It also informs my grave concern about recent reporting that President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pressured the government of Ukraine to help them dig up dirt on Trump’s primary political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Despite Trump and Giulani’s cajoling and claims to the contrary, Ukrainian prosecutors are not investigating Biden and do not have evidence of wrongdoing. Following in the footsteps of others: Some of the most extreme cases of such corrupt leaders are Syria’s Bashar Assad, Iran’s Ali Khamenei and North Korea's Kim family dynasty. In recent years, aspiring authoritarian leaders and movements have also risen to power closer to home in Hungary, Turkey and Poland. Each is in a unique position on the spectrum of corruption, but they have many traits in common, including attacks on the independent news media, attempts to dismantle other power centers within their own governments, self-dealing and various efforts to weaken their people’s ability to vote them out of office. A sober assessment of Trump’s presidency checks all of these boxes and easily places him among this latter group of rising Western strongmen. What appears to be an attempt to abuse the powers of his office to compel the Ukrainian government to help him politically by harming his main rival is alarming evidence that his corrupt efforts to hold onto power are escalating. That trend is unlikely to stop on its own.

By Pete Gelling
The truth is, an impeachable offense is whatever the US Congress decides it is. That’s because impeachment isn’t really a legal response to perceived misconduct, it’s a political one.And House speaker Nancy Pelosi has finally decided. “The House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” she said this afternoon. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”“ The catalyst was the news that Trump used military aid to Ukraine to leverage his efforts to uncover information that could be used against his potential Democratic rival for the presidency in 2020, former vice president Joe Biden. Impeachment is a thing because the framers of the Constitution created an avenue to remove presidents, judges and other federal officeholders, even if the offense they are accused of isn’t addressed by the legal code. That’s why the impeachment article of the Constitution is so insanely vague: Impeachment, it says, is limited to “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To quote Benjamin Franklin: The articles of impeachment are needed to remove a president who has “rendered themselves obnoxious.” That’s hardly limited at all. The only thing Congress needs in order to begin the impeachment process is the political will. And unfortunately for Trump, the political will is now there. At latest count 172 members of the House of Representatives have publicly said they would support an impeachment inquiry. A simple majority in the Democrat-led House would force the president to stand trial before the Republican-held Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict. Lawmakers don’t usually think impeachment is a good idea, even when a president has clearly broken the law. Former president Bill Clinton, for instance, was dishonest in grand jury testimony about his sexual relationship with a White House intern. Perjury is a crime, of course. But many lawmakers didn’t think the offense rose to the level of impeachment and Clinton was acquitted by the Senate. Measured politically, impeachment ultimately becomes about proportional response. Lawmakers must decide if a presidential offense merits removal from office, and that the scale of it merits throwing the country into a political crisis. Usually, they don’t think so. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia was, for instance, while unseemly, not enough for the House to move toward impeachment. Trump’s most recent scandal, however, is changing some minds on Capitol Hill. And while it looks bad, it might just be the sum total of the offenses Trump has racked up that is changing the tide. The details of the latest scandal remain secret. And a lot of what the public does know is based on media reports quoting anonymous sources. What’s been confirmed by the Trump team’s own admission, however, could be enough. The reason for impeachment Here’s what is for certain: Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine at some point over the summer, blindsiding Ukrainian officials. A short while later, on July 25, he phoned up Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The president pressured his counterpart to investigate Biden’s calls for Ukraine to dismiss one of the country’s notoriously corrupt prosecutors. Trump says he believes Biden—widely viewed as his most likely 2020 election opponent—was improperly trying to protect his son Hunter, who had business interests in Ukraine This theory, it’s worth noting, has been soundly disproved. So it looks a lot like the president was searching for dirt on his potential rival.

BBC News - The Trump administration has released details of a phone conversation in July that has triggered a US impeachment inquiry against the president. According to the notes, Donald Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to look into corruption claims involving the son of Joe Biden, Mr Trump's possible rival in next year's presidential election. Concerns about the call were initially raised by a whistleblower. The Democrats accused Mr Trump of seeking foreign help to smear a rival. Under the US constitution, a president can be impeached for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours" - a procedure that can lead to removal from office. In July, Mr Trump froze military aid to Ukraine but he has insisted that this was not used to put pressure on the new government in Kiev. What does Trump say about Biden in the call? Mr Trump discusses with his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, the 2016 removal of a prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, according to notes of their 25 July telephone conversation released by the White House. The US president is quoted as saying in the call: "I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. "A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved." He continues: "The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution [of Mr Biden's son] and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the [US] Attorney General would be great. "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me." Mr Zelensky says in response: "We will take care of that and we will work on the investigation of the case." Thanking Mr Trump, Mr Zelensky says he stayed in Trump Tower in New York City during a previous visit to the US. During the call, the US president also asks Mr Zelensky to work with US Attorney General William Barr and Mr Trump's personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, to look into the matter, according to the notes. The Department of Justice said on Wednesday that Mr Trump had not spoken with the attorney general about having Ukraine investigate Mr Biden, and Mr Barr had not communicated with Ukraine.

By Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence on Monday defended his own and the president’s conversations with the Ukrainian president, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that there was no quid pro quo when Trump brought up former Vice President Joe Biden during Trump’s congratulatory call to the newly-elected president in July. “He mentioned Vice President Biden and his son in the context of us wanting to see honest government,” Pence said on Hannity’s show. “That’s exactly what the American taxpayer would expect.” Trump himself denied Tuesday using military aid as a pressure tactic to get Ukraine to investigate Biden. "I didn't do it," Trump said in brief remarks with reporters before delivering a speech at the United Nations. Trump said he held up the funds because the U.S. was paying too much while other countries were not paying enough. Pence had his own conversation with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a trip to Poland this month. He told reporters after the meeting that he had not discussed Biden with Zelenskiy. He did not directly respond when asked if he could assure Ukraine that the holdup of military assistance was not related to an effort to dig up dirt on the Biden family.

By Olivia Beavers and Tal Axelrod
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that the whistleblower who reportedly first raised alarm about President Trump’s conversations with the Ukraine’s leader, wants to speak to the panel, and that they are expecting the whistleblower’s testimony "as soon as this week." “We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting [director of national intelligence] DNI as to how to do so,” Schiff tweeted. “We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.” The announcement comes shortly after Trump said he had authorized the release of the official transcript of his July conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump said he brought up former Vice President Joe Biden’s ties to Kiev. But at the center of the scandal is not the transcript of their phone call, but rather the whistleblower’s complaint, which could contain more information and context in addition to the contents of their phone conversations. Acting DNI Joseph Maguire has so far withheld the complaint from Congress, arguing that the allegations do not fall within the intelligence community whistleblower statute. His determination runs counter to that made by intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who testified about the handling of the complaint before the Intelligence panel last week. He had determined after a preliminary investigation that the allegations were both credible and an "urgent concern." Democrats and some legal experts say Maguire, who is set to testify Thursday, exploited a loophole in order to overrule the intelligence community watchdog.

BBC News - There's a new political controversy in the US - involving Donald Trump, foreign nationals, questions about legal and ethical behaviour, and allegations against a political rival. This feels a bit like déjà vu from 2016, with Russia, then-candidate Trump and Hillary Clinton, but it's a new country (Ukraine) and a new cast of characters (Joe Biden and his son Hunter). Mr Trump is still right smack in the middle, of course. The story can be difficult to follow, so here are some answers to the most pressing questions. Why is this important? Mr Trump's most ardent critics accuse him of using the powers of the presidency to bully Ukraine into digging up damaging information on a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden. There's a new political controversy in the US - involving Donald Trump, foreign nationals, questions about legal and ethical behaviour, and allegations against a political rival. This feels a bit like déjà vu from 2016, with Russia, then-candidate Trump and Hillary Clinton, but it's a new country (Ukraine) and a new cast of characters (Joe Biden and his son Hunter). Mr Trump is still right smack in the middle, of course. The story can be difficult to follow, so here are some answers to the most pressing questions. Why is this important? Mr Trump's most ardent critics accuse him of using the powers of the presidency to bully Ukraine into digging up damaging information on a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden. Where does this row stem from? Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a phone conversation on 25 July this year. The US president is alleged to have pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice-President Biden. Mr Trump may have also discussed the $250m (£201m) in military aid Congress approved for Ukraine - aid that the Trump administration had delayed releasing until mid-September. The Washington Post and other US media say Mr Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back the aid at least a week before the phone call. Has Mr Trump confirmed any of this? Sort of. Mr Trump said that he spoke to Mr Zelensky about the problem of corruption and also about Mr Biden and son Hunter among other issues. It was a "nice conversation" on the phone - a "perfect" call.

By Betsy Klein, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump admitted Monday that he delayed aid to Ukraine ahead of a call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when he pushed the leader to look into potential rival Joe Biden and his son's work, giving the excuse that he was waiting for European nations to contribute their fair share of aid and claiming there was "never any quid pro quo." "As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. They were fully paid. But my complaint has always been, and I'd withhold again and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they're not doing it," Trump said Tuesday as he arrived at the United Nations ahead of his speech to the General Assembly. Trump remained defiant Tuesday that he's done nothing wrong and has no regrets about his behavior when it comes to Ukraine and seeking an investigation into Biden's son's dealings. On Monday, The Washington Post first reported that the President had directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to freeze nearly $400 million of US military and security aid to Ukraine in the days before he spoke with Zelensky. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. Later Tuesday, when pressed again on why he blocked aid to Ukraine ahead of the call, Trump emphasized that other countries should contribute and noted that the aid was ultimately paid. "Nobody has given, I believe, more to Ukraine ... We think it is very important. And by the way, I don't know if you know it or not but that payment was made," Trump said during a bilateral meeting with embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "But I wanted to get other countries -- other countries should also pay because, frankly, it affects them more," the President added.
Trump said he took these concerns to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Other countries should contribute, Trump said, which he claimed led to the delay in Ukraine aid. "So I said hold it up. Let's get other people to pay. And then everybody called me, 'Oh please, can we pay?' And there was never any quid pro quo," he said. Asked his reaction to the growing momentum toward impeachment, Trump again borrowed a phrase from his characterization of the Mueller investigation: "Witch hunt." "I think it's ridiculous, it's a witch hunt. I'm leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me, the only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before," Trump claimed.

By Philip Bump and Aaron Blake
We learned late Monday that President Trump ordered the withholding of military aid to Ukraine about one week before his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. It’s a detail that will add to questions about whether Trump was tying the aid to the Eastern European country investigating former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. A whistleblower complaint alleges that someone — apparently Trump — might have made an inappropriate “promise” to a foreign leader. Trump has denied this, but he has admitted to discussing the Bidens with Zelensky on that call, and he has suggested that it would be okay for him to withhold money from a country that doesn’t root out “corruption.” The situation has Democrats inching closer to impeachment of Trump, whom they accuse of leveraging his office for personal political gain. With everything evolving quickly, we’ve put together the following timeline. It will be updated as needed. 2014-2015: Feb. 22, 2014. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is ousted from power during a popular uprising in the country. He flees to Russia. Yanukovych came to power with the assistance of political consultant Paul Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. After his ouster, Ukrainian officials begin a wide-ranging investigation into corruption in the country. May 13, 2014. Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, joins the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. It is owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, one of several subjects of the Ukrainian corruption probe. Sept. 24, 2015. The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, blasts Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in a speech in Odessa, Ukraine. He points to a “glaring problem” that threatens the good work regional leaders are doing: “the failure of the institution of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine to successfully fight internal corruption."

Former Vice-President Joe Biden says impeachment proceedings should begin against Donald Trump if he does not comply with an inquiry into a call he made with the Ukrainian president. The Democratic presidential front-runner is the latest top party member to join impeachment calls. Democrats accuse President Trump of improperly pressuring the Ukrainian president to undermine Mr Biden. No US president has ever been removed from office by impeachment. Impeaching Mr Trump "would be a tragedy", Mr Biden said. "But a tragedy of his making." President Donald Trump has acknowledged withholding US aid to Ukraine and pressing his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his would-be White House challenger Joe Biden. But he denied using the funds as political leverage, insisting he only wanted Europe to step up assistance to the Eastern European country. House Democrats are meeting shortly and US media report that the most senior Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will launch a formal impeachment inquiry. What exactly did President Trump say? On Tuesday, Mr Trump said he only froze military aid to Ukraine because he wanted European countries to contribute funds, too. "We're putting up the bulk of the money, and I'm asking why is that?" he said, adding: "What I want, and I insist on it, is that Europe has to put up money for Ukraine also." The Republican president also acknowledged pressuring newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call on 25 July to investigate US Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. "That call was perfect, it couldn't have been nicer," said Mr Trump, who is up for election next year. "There was no pressure put on them whatsoever. "But there was pressure put on with respect to Joe Biden. What Joe Biden did for his son, that's something they should be looking at." Mr Trump later tweeted he had authorised the release "of the complete, fully declassified transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine". "You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call," he wrote. Mr Trump and his conservative allies have pointed out that Joe Biden, while US vice-president, threatened in 2016 to withhold aid to Ukraine unless it fired a top prosecutor whose office had been investigating a natural gas company where Hunter Biden was a board member. Other Western officials had called for the same prosecutor to be removed on the grounds that he was soft on corruption. Ukraine's current prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Bloomberg News in May he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Biden or his son.

Trump ordered hold on military aid days before call with Ukrainian President, senior administration officials say
By Paul LeBlanc, Jim Acosta, Jeremy Diamond and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump asked his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a hold on millions in military aid to Ukraine roughly one week before a call with the Ukrainian president in which he pressured the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, two senior administration officials said on Monday. Trump, who was in the middle of a broad review of foreign aid programs when he singled out Ukraine specifically this summer, was primarily concerned with "corruption" in Ukraine and Europe shouldering more of the financial burden for supporting Ukraine's defense, according to one of the officials. News of Trump's order to withhold aid to the Ukraine ahead of his July 25 call may trigger questions -- and speculation -- about the President's motive in doing so. Trump had ordered a hold on nearly $400 million of military and security aid to Ukraine at least a week before the call in question, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN. The Washington Post first reported the figure. The administration was looking at harnessing multiple foreign packages, several aides believed, when Trump took a special interest in Ukraine, at times railing about how the country wasted money in his eyes. This surprised several staffers because, as CNN has reported, Trump had not been interested in engaging with Ukraine in the past, believing Ukraine was a corrupt country that wasn't committed to reform. But his attentiveness to the country had ramped up in recent weeks as his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed muddled corruption accusations against Biden, who was leading in national polls against Trump, and his son Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. On Friday, CNN reported Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, according to a person familiar with the situation. On the day of Trump's call with Zelensky, word began to spread that Trump was reviewing a plan to cut foreign assistance to Ukraine.

Trump's Ukraine call mentioning Biden is the strongest reason yet for impeachment
The allegations would be tantamount to bribery if proved, something the Constitution clearly lists as cause for removing a president.
By Leah Litman, assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School
Here we go again. President Donald Trump once again stands accused of using a foreign government to influence American elections. Whereas last time he invited the Russian government, on public television, to try and find Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails, among other things, this time he has reportedly sought to have the Ukrainian government announce a criminal investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, perhaps by using U.S. financial and military support as leverage. But not everyone is singing the same tune this go round. Last time, Republicans largely defended the president even as special counsel Robert Mueller was named to investigate whether Trump or his campaign had colluded with Russia. And after Mueller avoided making an explicit statement of guilt, Democrats were hesitant to launch a full-fledged impeachment inquiry. This time, Trump’s actions on Ukraine have already drawn some criticism from Republicans (like Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah), and they have also increased calls for impeachment from Democrats (such as from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chair of the House intelligence committee). And rightfully so. So what’s changed? There are potentially significant legal differences and practical distinctions between the two situations. And these differences indicate that the allegations regarding Ukraine fit more clearly into the Constitution’s preconditions for impeachment — and that Congress will not only have an easier time making a case against the president, but also a greater legal imperative to do so. Using the office of the president for personal political benefit comports with both the standard understandings of bribery and the broader category of high crimes and misdemeanors.

The U.S. Is Corrupting Ukraine
Trump's alleged meddling in the country's notoriously corrupt political system is setting its new president up for failure.
By Leonid Bershidsky
The scandal over Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival might ultimately have no consequences for the U.S. president. It could, however, undermine a historical opportunity for Ukraine’s new leadership to drain its own swamp. Various U.S. news outlets reported this week that Trump ordered his administration in July to withhold about $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. Later that month, he reportedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the alleged involvement of Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his son Hunter in influence-peddling in Ukraine. This is a problem for Trump if someone can demonstrate corrupt intent — that is, that he was using the state’s resources as a lever to achieve his personal campaign goals. Naturally, Trump denies it. And he has valid arguments in his defense. For one, he can say he had legitimate reasons to delay the aid. At that time, for example, Chinese companies were about to buy a majority stake in Motor Sich, the Ukrainian maker of engines for aircraft and missiles — a deal that the U.S. had actively sought to block. That would be a credible motive for withholding aid. Also, Trump released the payment on Sept. 11, with no apparent conditions. So corruption will be hard to prove to any legal standard. That said, corruption often doesn’t operate explicitly. Faced with a U.S. military aid delay on the one hand and Trump’s demand for a Biden investigation on the other, Zelenskiy could have figured out what was required of him. The same goes for the Biden case. A wealthy Ukrainian businessman hired the U.S. vice president’s son to be on the board of his natural gas company. Could Ukraine’s leadership not understand, without being told, that pursuing a money-laundering investigation into that businessman might have repercussions for relations with the U.S. administration?

If Congress doesn't stand up to Trump on Ukraine, his abuse of power will only escalate
By Evan McMullin, Opinion contributor
Trump joins a cadre of corrupt Western leaders intent on undermining democracy to stay in power. One of the vital lessons I learned as an undercover CIA officer, and later as an adviser to Republicans in Congress, was how corrupt leaders escalate their abuses of power at the expense of their citizens’ freedom while trying to retain power. It motivated my service at the time and continues to drive my work to protect and improve American democracy now. It also informs my grave concern about recent reporting that President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pressured the government of Ukraine to help them dig up dirt on Trump’s primary political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Despite Trump and Giulani’s cajoling and claims to the contrary, Ukrainian prosecutors are not investigating Biden and do not have evidence of wrongdoing. Following in the footsteps of others. Some of the most extreme cases of such corrupt leaders are Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s Ali Khamenei and North Korea's Kim family dynasty. In recent years, aspiring authoritarian leaders and movements have also risen to power closer to home in Hungary, Turkey and Poland. Each is in a unique position on the spectrum of corruption, but they have many traits in common, including attacks on the independent news media, attempts to dismantle other power centers within their own governments, self-dealing and various efforts to weaken their people’s ability to vote them out of office.

Deny, divert, discredit: Trump turns to his scandal playbook once again
Analysis: The president has a canned approach for trying to fend off bad news. This time, it's a whistleblower report.
By Shannon Pettypiece
President Donald Trump is turning to what's become a tried-and-true pattern of defending himself against scandal in the latest controversy over a whistleblower's accusation that he made a disturbing promise to a foreign leader. It goes like this: Step one: Deny the reports while arguing that even if true, there is nothing wrong with what was done. Step two: Divert attention to a subplot that implicates political rivals. Step three: Discredit investigators by accusing those involved of a deep state or partisan witch hunt. The playbook has been used by Trump and his surrogates repeatedly against various accusations, including whether his campaign held an improper meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, that he paid hush money to an adult film actress, and that he is profiting off the presidency through his private businesses. The strategy played out in the Oval Office on Friday when Trump was pressed about a whistleblower report by an intelligence officer who raised concerns after learning of an alleged promise Trump made during a phone call to a foreign leader. Ukraine is at the center of the complaint, The Washington Post reported on Thursday evening. Trump denied knowing who the whistleblower is or the date of the conversation in question — but said he never did anything wrong anyway. "It was a totally appropriate conversation, it was actually a beautiful conversation," Trump told reporters. When Trump was asked about speculation he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, the president deflected. He tried to shift to his own accusation that Biden had been involved in a quid pro quo with Ukraine connected to the former vice president son's involvement in a Ukrainian gas company. It was the same pattern of defense Trump used when media reports came out about a meeting arranged between his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer, whom he believed had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Trump initially denied knowing about the meeting and his lawyer denied he knew anything about his son's response to the media reports. When it was later reported, and eventually confirmed by Trump’s lawyers, that Trump helped his son write a misleading statement about the purpose of the meeting, the president and his lawyers shifted their defense to saying that there was nothing wrong with having such a meeting. Throughout the Russia investigation, Trump and his allies sought to discredit any findings saying they were a politically motivated "witch hunt," accusing Robert Mueller's investigators of being "angry Democrats." White House lawyers have since stonewalled subpoenas by House Democrats into the Trump campaign's connections with Russia. And now Trump's used a similar tactic to attempt to discredit the intelligence community whistleblower. "It’s ridiculous, it's a partisan whistleblower," he said. Like with the Russia investigation, where Trump tried to push a counter-narrative about Obama administration spying and rogue Justice Department officials, he is using the controversy to try to further his accusations that Biden was involved in nefarious deals in Ukraine. It was a pattern he also followed when reports came out that Trump paid hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an affair days before the election.

If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is
The president reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against Joe Biden.
By Tom Nichols
The president of the United States reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against an American citizen who might challenge him for his office. This is the single most important revelation in a scoop by The Wall Street Journal, and if it is true, then President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately. Until now, there was room for reasonable disagreement over impeachment as both a matter of politics and a matter of tactics. The Mueller report revealed despicably unpatriotic behavior by Trump and his minions, but it did not trigger a political judgment with a majority of Americans that it warranted impeachment. The Democrats, for their part, remained unwilling to risk their new majority in Congress on a move destined to fail in a Republican-controlled Senate. Now, however, we face an entirely new situation. In a call to the new president of Ukraine, Trump reportedly attempted to pressure the leader of a sovereign state into conducting an investigation—a witch hunt, one might call it—of a U.S. citizen, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. As the Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko told the Daily Beast when asked about the president’s apparent requests, “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.” Clearly. If this in itself is not impeachable, then the concept has no meaning. Trump’s grubby commandeering of the presidency’s fearsome and nearly uncheckable powers in foreign policy for his own ends is a gross abuse of power and an affront both to our constitutional order and to the integrity of our elections. The story may even be worse than we know. If Trump tried to use military aid to Ukraine as leverage, as reporters are now investigating, then he held Ukrainian and American security hostage to his political vendettas. It means nothing to say that no such deal was reached; the important point is that Trump abused his position in the Oval Office. In this matter, we need not rely on a newspaper account, nor even on the complaint, so far unseen, of a whistle-blower. Instead, we have a sweaty, panicked admission on national television by Trump’s bizarre homunculus, Rudy Giuliani, that he did in fact seek such an investigation on Trump’s behalf. Giuliani later again confirmed Trump’s role, tweeting that a “President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job.”

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