Розділ: Політика

Trump Insists He Did Nothing Wrong in Call with Ukrainian Leader

U.S. President Donald Trump admitted talking about corruption with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, but stopped short of saying they talked about investigating 2020 leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

A Wall Street Journal report says Trump urged Zelenskiy eight times to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, and whether a Ukrainian gas company tried to win favors by hiring Hunter while Joe Biden was U.S. vice president.

The reports say Trump was looking to get Zelenskiy to collaborate with Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, to investigate the Bidens.

Trump telephoned Zelenskiy in July, two months after he took power in Ukraine.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden puts on a Beau Biden Foundation hat while speaking at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption…and largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump said Sunday.

He said the White House will “make a determination” whether to release a transcript or details of the telephone call.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denies Trump pressured Zelenskiy, saying Ukraine would not take sides in U.S. politics.

Joe Biden is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, hoping to derail Trump’s re-election bid.

Trump critics, including a number of Democratic lawmakers, say if Trump urged Zelenskiy to investigate Biden to discredit the former vice president, that would be a direct appeal to a foreign government to interfere in a presidential election — a potentially impeachable offense. Democrats also want to know if Trump promised Zelenskiy anything in return for an investigation.

Trump had frozen $250 million in military aid to Ukraine. Congress voted to release those funds last month.

An angry Biden said “there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.” Referring to next year’s election, Trump knows “I’ll beat him like a drum” Biden said.

“I’m not looking to hurt him with respect to his son. Joe’s got enough problems,” Trump said Sunday without specifying what those problems are.

The newest controversy surrounding Trump began last week when reports emerged that an unidentified whistleblower in the national intelligence community became alarmed about a series of actions inside the Trump administration. They include what is now known to be Trump’s telephone call with Zelenskiy.

FILE – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, gestures next to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, during a bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

This person contacted the intelligence inspector general, who called the complaint “serious” and “urgent.”

But acting National Intelligence director Joseph Maguire has refused to turn over the inspector’s report to Congress, which the law requires him to do.

Trump says he does not know who the whistleblower is, but called that person “partisan” and committing “just another political hack job.”

But congressional Democrats want to know why the inspector general’s report is being kept from them if Trump did not do anything wrong and want to know who Maguire and the Justice Department may be trying to protect.

Trump is also accusing Democrats and the media of avoiding the reports about Joe and Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian ties.

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat (sic) Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate…a story about me.”

As vice president under Barack Obama, Joe Biden went to Ukraine in 2016 and threatened to withhold billions of dollars in U.S. loan guarantees unless the government cracked down on corruption. Biden also demanded that Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin be fired.

Shokin had previously investigated the gas company on which Hunter Biden served on the board. But the probe had been inactive for a year before Joe Biden’s visit. Hunter Biden has said he was not the target of any investigation and no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens has surfaced.

Wayne Lee contributed to this report.

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By Polityk | 23/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Trump Says He Did Nothing Wrong in Call with Ukrainian Leader

U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday he did nothing wrong in a telephone conversation with the new president of Ukraine amid news report that Trump allegedly urged him to investigate the son of former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Speaking to reporters, Trump described his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky as “absolutely perfect.”

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to newly elected Ukrainian parliament deputies during parliament session in Kyiv, Aug. 29, 2019.

According to news reports, Trump urged Zelensky about eight times during their conversation to investigate Biden’s son. Sources were quoted saying Trump’s intent was to get Zelensky to collaborate with Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani on an investigation that could undermine Biden.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko on Saturday denied Trump had pressured Zelensky during the call, telling the media outlet Hromadski that Ukraine would not take sides in U.S. politics even if the country was in a position to do so.

Trump and Guiliani have pushed for an investigation of the Bidens for weeks, following news reports this year that explored whether a Ukrainian energy company tried to secure influence in the U.S. by employing Biden’s younger son, Hunter.

Democrats are condemning what they perceive as a concerted effort to damage Biden, who has been thrust into the middle of an unidentified whistleblower’s complaint against Trump. Biden is currently the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Trump administration has blocked procedures under which the whistleblower complaint would have normally been forwarded by the U.S. intelligence community to members of the Democrat-controlled Congress, keeping its contents secret.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden puts on a Beau Biden Foundation hat while speaking at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

Biden said late Friday that if the reports are accurate, “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.” Biden also called on Trump to disclose the transcript of his conversation with Zelensky so “the American people can judge for themselves.”

When asked about releasing the transcript,  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC News that  “those are private conversations between world leaders and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so except in the most extreme circumstances.”

The intelligence community inspector general has described the whistleblower’s August 12 complaint as “serious” and “urgent,” conditions that would normally require him to forward the complaint to Congress. Trump has characterized the complaint as “just another political hack job.”

 

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By Polityk | 22/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Trump Heads to UN With Long List of Deals Yet to Close

President Donald Trump, a self-described deal-maker, is saddled with a long list of unresolved foreign policy deals he has yet to close heading into his U.N. visit this coming week.

There are challenges with Iran, North Korea, the Afghan Taliban, Israel and the Palestinians — not to mention a number of trade pacts. Some are inching forward. Some have stalled.

Trump has said repeatedly that he is in “no rush” to wrap up the deals. But negotiations take time. He is nearly three years into his presidency and the 2020 election looms, which will crimp his ability to tend to unfinished foreign business.

FILE – Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns announces his retirement at the State Department in Washington, Jan. 18, 2008.

“I don’t blame the president for having so many deals open,” said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state who has worked for Republican and Democratic presidents. He gives Trump credit for going after China on its trade practices and talking to the Taliban to try to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

“But I do think you have to be tough-minded as citizens and grade him,” Burns said. “How’s he doing? Well, in my book, he doesn’t have a single major foreign policy achievement in more than 2½ years in office.”

Trump’s critics say that lack of success means the president is going to the United Nations in a weakened position.

Some foreign policy experts give Trump credit for opening up international negotiations. Yet there is plentiful criticism of his brash negotiating style — blasting foreign leaders one day, making nice the next — because they think it makes the global chessboard more wobbly.

In his defense, Trump says: “It’s the way I negotiate. It’s done very well for me over the years, and it’s doing even better for the country.”

Trump’s “America first” mantra hasn’t gone over well at the United Nations before. Now, as tensions escalate between the U.S. and Iran, the president needs international support to help put pressure on Tehran.


US-Iran Tensions Could Overshadow Push for Climate Action at UN video player.
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WATCH: At United Nations, US-Iran Tensions Could Overshadow Push for Climate Action

Ever since Trump pulled the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and reinstated crippling economic sanctions, Iran has lashed out. Iran downed an American drone, has impounded ships in the Persian Gulf and is being blamed for the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

“He’s argued in the past that each country should act solely in its own interest, and he’s argued that American might, combined with his negotiating skill, would build U.S. power,” said Jon Alterman, Middle East program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Now we have a General Assembly meeting where the president really needs allies on Iran.”

The prospect of Trump talking with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly has evaporated.

Alterman said the best-case scenario of another negotiation with Iran would be one leading to the end of Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the Mideast, new limits on its nuclear program and greater visibility into its missile program. The worst-case scenario, he said, is that the president alienates his allies and Iran carries out more attacks on U.S. interests and allies.

FILE – Rex Tillerson, then-chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, testifies about the company’s acquisition of XTO Energy before the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired by Trump, told a group at Harvard University recently that successful negotiations occur when both parties leave with an acceptable outcome. In a comment seemingly aimed at Trump, Tillerson said: “If you ever think about a negotiation as a win/lose, you’re going to have a terrible experience, you’re going to be very dissatisfied, and not very many people are going to want to deal with you.”

Trump’s other disarmament talks — with North Korea — have hit a wall, too.

Trump’s initial summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore was a first, as was Trump’s historic step inside North Korea at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea.

Still, the U.S. and North Korea have failed to gain traction on nuclear talks. Negotiations to get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons have been stalled since a February summit in Hanoi, which collapsed over disagreement about sanctions relief in exchange for disarmament measures.

On Friday, Trump claimed that his three-year relationship with Kim is the “best thing that’s happened” to the United States.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump added. “It might work out. It might not work out.” But Trump stressed that since they started talking, Kim has not conducted nuclear tests and has only fired short-range, not long-range missiles.

FILE – Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, speaks during the TIME 100 Summit in New York, April 23, 2019.

Trump’s Mideast peace negotiations also have no momentum.

The administration’s long-awaited peace plan, developed by Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, has not come out and the path forward is unclear.

Tentative plans to release the proposal had been scrapped at least twice. The plan is facing rejection by the Palestinians, who cut off ties with the administration after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians have accused his administration of losing its standing as an honest broker by repeatedly siding with Israel.

And then there is the long-running conflict in Afghanistan.

While Trump has public backing to end the war, he just cut off nearly a year of U.S. talks with the Taliban. He said the Taliban were ramping up violence to gain leverage in the negotiations.

“They made a mistake,” Trump said Friday. “I was totally willing to have a meeting.”

FILE – Members of a Taliban delegation, led by chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, center, leave after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow, May 30, 2019.

Trump has the public’s support for withdrawing U.S. troops, but he was harshly criticized for planning to host the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat just before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban were harboring al-Qaida when al-Qaida orchestrated 9/11.

Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said that where international affairs are concerned, the president appears more interested having something showy to announce than in long-term problem-solving.

“Once he has a partner engaged, he’ll likely announce something that sounds important,” D’Antonio said. “Others will clean up the details after the election.”

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By Polityk | 22/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Steak, Beer and Politics: 2020 Democrats Look to Impress Iowans

With marching bands, drum lines, hundreds of yard signs and at least one fire truck, Democratic presidential candidates made a colorful and often loud pitch to Iowa Democrats at the Steak Fry fundraiser in Des Moines on Saturday.

The event, a fundraiser for the Polk County Democratic Party and one of the biggest remaining opportunities for candidates to flex their organizing muscles in Iowa before the caucuses, comes as a number of candidates are facing an uncertain future in the race and shaking up their campaign strategies in an effort to break out of the pack.

Warren gains in poll

A new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll Saturday shows Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren challenging Joe Biden’s dominance in the field. Warren stands at 22% to the former vice president’s 20% in a poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker waits to speak at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

On Saturday morning, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker warned he may need to end his campaign if he’s unable to raise $1.7 million by the end of the third fundraising quarter. His announcement came soon after California Sen. Kamala Harris announced she’d be going all-in on Iowa in hopes of finishing in the top three. Both have been stagnant in national and Iowa surveys, with Harris polling in the middle of the pack and Booker struggling to move beyond low single digits.

In the new poll, Harris sits at 6% and Booker, along with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, has 3%.

At the Steak Fry, however, Harris turned out her fans in force, marching into the event with hundreds of supporters and a drum line. Booker had a smaller crowd gathered to see him into the event, and the portrait the candidate painted to reporters after speaking to the Steak Fry crowd was dire.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. speaks at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

“I don’t believe people should stay in this just to stay in it,” he said. “You either have a trajectory to win or not. And right now if we don’t raise $1.7 million we won’t be able to make the investments necessary. He added: “If we don’t have a pathway to win we should get out of this race.”

Part parade

The event Saturday is part parade, part organizing show of force — and quintessentially Iowa, home of the 2020 race’s leadoff caucuses in February.

It began as a fundraiser for Tom Harkin’s first congressional bid, where the 53 attendees could buy a steak and a foil-wrapped baked potato for $2.

Harkin has retired from the Senate and is out of politics, but the steak fry lives on, now more than four decades strong.

This year, more than 12,000 people were expected to join in addition to 19 presidential candidates. Attendees enjoyed the traditional steaks — 10,500 were grilled by volunteers — but they also had the option to order from a food truck or visit a craft beer tent.

There are even camping grounds, where supporters of former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke spent Friday night.

The county’s Democratic chairman, Sean Bagniewski, said the event has a “modern twist.”

“That’s the future of the party — it’s gonna be more women in positions of leadership, it’s gonna be more people of color, and it’s going to be more young people,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden puts on a Beau Biden Foundation hat while speaking at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

Part show of force

What hasn’t changed is the event’s significance for the candidates. When Barack Obama marched into the 2007 Iowa steak fry flanked by 1,000 supporters, skeptical Iowans were put on notice that he could win the state’s caucus. Bagniewski said that, like 2007, Democrats are looking for someone who can show they have the organizational strength to win.

“Everyone wants to beat Donald Trump,” he said. “Everyone has a top five, but when you actually see that your candidate of choice has 1,000 people supporting them at the steak fry, it gives you more liberty to make that decision.”

A few hours before the candidates began their speeches, gray clouds swirled overhead at the Des Moines Waterworks.

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

People wore campaign T-shirts and chanted the names of their preferred candidates as smoke hovered over the thousands of cooking steaks at the riverside park.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was hoping to make a big splash Saturday as he steps up his Iowa presence, addressed hundreds of supporters sporting his campaign’s signature gold and blue T-shirts. In the new CNN/Des Moines Register poll, Buttigieg has 9%. O’Rourke, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang all have 2%

Against this festive backdrop, former Vice President Joe Biden commented on the whistleblower’s complaint in Washington that involved Trump’s phone conversation with Ukraine’s leader. Although the complaint is under wraps, Trump is known to want Ukraine to investigate business dealings there by Biden’s son, Hunter, during his vice presidency.

“The fact of the matter is that that fellow in the White House knows that if we get the nomination we’re gonna beat him like a drum,” Biden said. “So be prepared for every lousy thing that’s coming from him.”

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By Polityk | 22/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Steak, Beer and Politics: 2020 Democrats Look to Impress Iowans at Fundraiser

With marching bands, drum lines, hundreds of yard signs and at least one fire truck, Democratic presidential candidates made a colorful and often loud pitch to Iowa Democrats at the Steak Fry fundraiser in Des Moines on Saturday.

The event, a fundraiser for the Polk County Democratic Party and one of the biggest remaining opportunities for candidates to flex their organizing muscles in Iowa before the caucuses, comes as a number of candidates are facing an uncertain future in the race and shaking up their campaign strategies in an effort to break out of the pack.

Warren gains in poll

A new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll Saturday shows Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren challenging Joe Biden’s dominance in the field. Warren stands at 22% to the former vice president’s 20% in a poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker waits to speak at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

On Saturday morning, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker warned he may need to end his campaign if he’s unable to raise $1.7 million by the end of the third fundraising quarter. His announcement came soon after California Sen. Kamala Harris announced she’d be going all-in on Iowa in hopes of finishing in the top three. Both have been stagnant in national and Iowa surveys, with Harris polling in the middle of the pack and Booker struggling to move beyond low single digits.

In the new poll, Harris sits at 6% and Booker, along with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, has 3%.

At the Steak Fry, however, Harris turned out her fans in force, marching into the event with hundreds of supporters and a drum line. Booker had a smaller crowd gathered to see him into the event, and the portrait the candidate painted to reporters after speaking to the Steak Fry crowd was dire.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. speaks at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

“I don’t believe people should stay in this just to stay in it,” he said. “You either have a trajectory to win or not. And right now if we don’t raise $1.7 million we won’t be able to make the investments necessary. He added: “If we don’t have a pathway to win we should get out of this race.”

Part parade

The event Saturday is part parade, part organizing show of force — and quintessentially Iowa, home of the 2020 race’s leadoff caucuses in February.

It began as a fundraiser for Tom Harkin’s first congressional bid, where the 53 attendees could buy a steak and a foil-wrapped baked potato for $2.

Harkin has retired from the Senate and is out of politics, but the steak fry lives on, now more than four decades strong.

This year, more than 12,000 people were expected to join in addition to 19 presidential candidates. Attendees enjoyed the traditional steaks — 10,500 were grilled by volunteers — but they also had the option to order from a food truck or visit a craft beer tent.

There are even camping grounds, where supporters of former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke spent Friday night.

The county’s Democratic chairman, Sean Bagniewski, said the event has a “modern twist.”

“That’s the future of the party — it’s gonna be more women in positions of leadership, it’s gonna be more people of color, and it’s going to be more young people,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden puts on a Beau Biden Foundation hat while speaking at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

Part show of force

What hasn’t changed is the event’s significance for the candidates. When Barack Obama marched into the 2007 Iowa steak fry flanked by 1,000 supporters, skeptical Iowans were put on notice that he could win the state’s caucus. Bagniewski said that, like 2007, Democrats are looking for someone who can show they have the organizational strength to win.

“Everyone wants to beat Donald Trump,” he said. “Everyone has a top five, but when you actually see that your candidate of choice has 1,000 people supporting them at the steak fry, it gives you more liberty to make that decision.”

A few hours before the candidates began their speeches, gray clouds swirled overhead at the Des Moines Waterworks.

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2019.

People wore campaign T-shirts and chanted the names of their preferred candidates as smoke hovered over the thousands of cooking steaks at the riverside park.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was hoping to make a big splash Saturday as he steps up his Iowa presence, addressed hundreds of supporters sporting his campaign’s signature gold and blue T-shirts. In the new CNN/Des Moines Register poll, Buttigieg has 9%. O’Rourke, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang all have 2%

Against this festive backdrop, former Vice President Joe Biden commented on the whistleblower’s complaint in Washington that involved Trump’s phone conversation with Ukraine’s leader. Although the complaint is under wraps, Trump is known to want Ukraine to investigate business dealings there by Biden’s son, Hunter, during his vice presidency.

“The fact of the matter is that that fellow in the White House knows that if we get the nomination we’re gonna beat him like a drum,” Biden said. “So be prepared for every lousy thing that’s coming from him.”

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By Polityk | 22/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Q&A: Trump, Ukraine and the Whistleblower

Very behind the scenes, a whistleblower from the intelligence community voiced urgent concern about a matter involving a conversation between Ukraine’s leader and President Donald Trump. It’s so hush-hush that even Democrats won’t say all that they know, or suspect.

Very much out in the open, Trump is calling for an investigation that involves Ukraine and could help him win re-election if it breaks his way.

Trump’s interest in getting dirt from abroad on prospective Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden has been hiding in plain sight for months. His fealty to standards that other presidents have either lived by or pretended to — as when it comes to chats with foreign leaders, for example — is thin.

This is, after all, the man who openly encouraged Russia to snoop on Hillary Clinton’s email and much more recently said that, sure, he’d listen to foreigners who come to him with dirt on an opponent. Why not? he wondered.

As the contours of the episode roiling the capital begin to flesh out, here are some questions and answers at the intersection of Trump, Ukraine and the whistleblower.

Why the whistle?

Because someone in the government, who is under the umbrella of U.S. intelligence, saw or heard something that raised a credible and “urgent concern” about how someone else in government did or said something that “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community.” That’s according to Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for intelligence.

It’s no more spelled out than that so far, because the complaint remains a closely held secret.

FILE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is pictured in a meeting with law enforcement officers in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 23, 2019.

But the complaint was based on a series of events, one of which was a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the issue by name and were granted anonymity.

What does Trump say about the complaint?

“Just another political hack job.”

“I have conversations with many leaders. It’s always appropriate.”

As for the July 25 phone conversation he had with Zelenskiy: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed.”

What do Democrats say?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says if reports about the complaint bear out, Trump faces “serious repercussions” and the U.S. will have “grave, urgent concerns for our national security.”

As the leader at the center of a months-long Democratic debate over whether to impeach Trump — she has resisted pressure from members to do so — Pelosi will find her every word on this matter scrutinized for signs of whether this makes her want to move ahead.

Where do Ukraine and Biden come into it?

Biden was vice president, with some influence over U.S. policy on Ukraine, when son Hunter was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian businessman. Trump for months has been calling for more scrutiny of that period and imputing corrupt motives to the business and government work of the Biden family, without putting forward evidence of wrongdoing.

“Someone ought to look into Joe Biden,” he said again Friday, undeterred by the revelation of the whistleblower complaint.

The question arising from this matter is whether Trump personally pressed Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens in that phone call or other times and, if so, whether seeking or accepting such help from a foreign leader to benefit his re-election constitutes a misuse of presidential power. That question can’t be answered with what’s known so far.

Is this Russia redux, just a different country?

There are some similarities to the episode investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller as he tracked an aggressive effort by Russia to tilt the 2016 U.S. election to Trump. There are also differences, as well as much that remains unknown.

FILE – Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, July 24, 2019.

The Mueller report informed or reminded everyone that it’s illegal for a political campaign to accept a “thing of value” from a foreign government. It could be argued that an investigation by a foreign government meant to harm a political opponent would be a thing of value, and pressing for one could be perilous for a U.S. president.

It could also be argued that it is not. The Trump administration has had longstanding complaints about corruption in Ukraine and asking for corruption to be investigated is, on the surface, different than the potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign that Mueller looked into.

One striking twist here is that pressure for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens has come most publicly not from the government or the campaign, but from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani has been working for months to get Ukraine’s leadership to probe the Bidens.

How?

In May, Giuliani scrapped plans to take his case for a Biden investigation directly to authorities in Kyiv, when word got out about the trip. But he’s been talking to Ukrainians about it.

At the time, he tweeted: “Explain to me why Biden shouldn’t be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while He was VP and point man for Ukraine.”

Trump tag-teamed him on the Biden matter, telling Fox News, “I’m hearing it’s a major scandal, major problem.”

FILE – Rudy Giuliani, center, leaves Trump Tower, Nov. 11, 2016, in New York.

Asked Thursday on CNN whether he’d pressed Ukrainian leaders to probe the Bidens, Giuliani said: “Of course I did,” seconds after saying, “No, actually I didn’t.”

Where’s the complaint?

Under wraps. Only bits and pieces of information about it have emerged because the administration has balked at showing it to Congress, much less to the public.

The timeline is this: Atkinson, the inspector general, received the complaint Aug. 12, reviewed it, found it credible and urgent, and forwarded it two weeks later to Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence. Maguire’s office decided the complaint was outside the agency’s jurisdiction and not urgent, and informed Congress Sept. 9 of the situation without showing it the complaint. Atkinson said that was a break from normal procedure, which is to disclose the contents to lawmakers.

That’s when House Democrats began to suspect that Trump was the subject of the complaint and quickly followed with a subpoena, yet to be satisfied.

Atkinson appeared before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to tell lawmakers the substance of the complaint. Maguire has agreed to give public testimony Sept. 26 and both are expected to talk to the Senate intelligence committee during the week.

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By Polityk | 22/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Trump Denies Pressuring Ukraine to Probe Company Linked to Biden’s Son

U.S. President Donald Trump is denying he said anything “wrong” in a telephone conversation with the new president of Ukraine during which Trump allegedly urged him to investigate the son of former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Democrats meanwhile stepped up their criticism of the president for what they characterized as an attempt to engage a foreign leader in a scheme to damage the candidacy of Trump’s leading rival in the 2020 campaign.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning he had a “perfectly fine and routine conversation” on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and that, “Nothing was said that was in any way wrong.”

Trump accused Democrats and the news media of ignoring allegations against the Bidens and creating a false story about him.

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat (sic) Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate … a story about me …”

The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2019

Trump urged Zelenskiy about eight times during their conversation to investigate Biden’s son, according to news reports citing people familiar with the matter. The sources were quoted saying Trump’s intent was to get Zelenskiy to collaborate with Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani on an investigation that could undermine Biden.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko on Saturday denied Trump had pressured Zelenskiy during the call, telling the media outlet Hromadski that Ukraine would not take sides in U.S. politics even if the country was in a position to do so.

FILE – Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, Nov. 14, 2016.

Trump and Giuliani have pushed for an investigation of the Bidens for weeks, following news reports this year that explored whether a Ukrainian energy company tried to secure influence in the U.S. by employing Biden’s younger son, Hunter.

Democrats are condemning what they perceive as a concerted effort to damage Biden, who has been thrust into the middle of an unidentified whistleblower’s complaint against Trump. Biden is currently the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Trump administration has blocked procedures under which the whistleblower complaint would have normally been forwarded by the U.S. intelligence community to members of the Democrat-controlled Congress, keeping its contents secret.

FILE – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, gestures next to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, during a bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland, Sept. 1, 2019.

However a series of leaks have indicated the complaint is based on multiple events, including the July telephone conversation between Trump and Zelenskiy, two people familiar with the matter said. The sources were granted anonymity in order to discuss the issue.
 
One person briefed on the call said said Trump urged Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The controversy unfolded amid a White House-ordered delay in the delivery of lethal military assistance to Ukraine, but the unnamed source was quoted saying Trump did not mention U.S. aid in his conversation with Zelenskiy.

Biden said late Friday that if the reports are accurate, “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.” Biden also called on Trump to disclose the transcript of his conversation with Zelenskiy so “the American people can judge for themselves.”

The intelligence community inspector general has described the whistleblower’s August 12 complaint as “serious” and “urgent,” conditions that would normally require him to forward the complaint to Congress. Trump has characterized the complaint as “just another political hack job.”

The standoff  raises new questions about the extent to which Trump’s appointees, including the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, are protecting the Republican president from congressional oversight.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, speaks to reporters after the panel met behind closed doors about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019.

Democrats maintain the administration is legally required to give Congress access to the complaint. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said any attempt by Trump to urge a foreign country to “dig up dirt” on a political foe while withholding aid is inappropriate.

“No explicit quid pro quo is necessary to betray your country,” Schiff tweeted Friday.

House Democrats are also battling the administration for access to witnesses and documents in ongoing impeachment investigations.

The whistleblower case has lawmakers investigating whether Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure the government to help Trump’s reelection chances by investigating Hunter Biden and whether his father intervened in the country’s politics to help his son’s business.

Late in the administration of then-President Barack Obama in 2016, Joe Biden was sent to Kyiv armed with a threat to withhold billions of dollars in government loan guarantees unless the country cracked down on corruption. Biden’s primary demand was to fire the chief prosecutor at the time, Viktor Shokin, for ineffectiveness. Shokin was fired shortly thereafter.

But before the vice president arrived in Kyiv, Shokin had already opened an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company on which Hunter was a board member receiving $50,000 per month. Burisma is owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a Ukrainian businessman and politician.

While Republicans are suggesting the senior Biden used the loan money as leverage force an end to the Bursima investigation, Bloomberg News, citing a former Ukrainian official and Ukrainian documents, reported that the probe had been dormant since 2015, long before Biden’s trip to Kyiv.

Giuliani  had meetings this year in New York with Shokin’s successor, Yuriy Lutsenko. Around the same time, Ukraine revived the case against Burisma. The New York Times reported Lutsenko relaunched the probe to “curry favor from the Trump administration for his boss and ally.”

The reported timeline appears to be more consistent with Biden’s contention that he was pushing for the ouster of a prosecutor who was failing to rein in rampant corruption, instead of seeking the firing of a prosecutor threatening a company linked to his son.

During a CNN interview Thursday,  Giuliani initially said “No” when asked if he had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, but said seconds later, “of course I did.”

 

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By Polityk | 21/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Will US Republicans Feel the Heat from Climate Change?

Francis Rooney is a Republican congressman from a conservative Florida district who opposes federal funding for abortions and supports President Donald Trump’s plans for construction of a wall along the Mexican border.

But he also recently co-sponsored a carbon pricing bill and is one of a handful of lawmakers from his side of the aisle who have bucked orthodoxy and acknowledged human beings are responsible for global warming.

The modern Republican Party is one of the few political forces in the world whose leadership denies manmade climate change, but there are now small yet perceptible signs of changes within its ranks, driven by an increase in extreme weather events and shifting public opinion.

FILE – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., second from left, poses during a ceremonial swearing-in with Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 3, 2019.

“Seventy-one percent of the people in my district say that climate change is real. We’re scared of sea-level rise and we want the government to do something about it,” Rooney, citing recent polling, said at a talk this week organized by the World Resources Institute.

In late July, he along with Democrat Dan Lipinksi of Illinois introduced a new bill aimed at setting a price on carbon emissions, one of several similar proposed laws currently before the House of Representatives.

Extreme weather

For now, the legislation has no hope of passing: fellow Republicans are highly unlikely to take it up in the Senate, and even if it did clear the upper house, Trump would almost certainly exercise his veto. 

But the bills “indicate that Republicans and Democrats are beginning to agree that a price on carbon is the most efficient way to reduce America’s emissions,” the Citizens’ Climate Lobby wrote in a blog post on the subject.

FILE – A man hangs his clothes after washing them at the Mudd neighborhood, devastated after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, Sept. 6, 2019.

“Republicans are getting very nervous about their lack of any serious policy on climate change, because climate change is beginning to have huge costs to average everyday Americans,” Paul Bledsoe, a former staffer for ex-president Bill Clinton and lecturer at American University, told AFP.  

There is a broad scientific consensus that warmer oceans are supercharging hurricanes, making Category 4 and 5 storms more common. 

New research suggests that warming may also be affecting global atmospheric currents, thus increasing the frequency of ultra slow-crawling hurricanes like last month’s Dorian and 2017’s Harvey.

Rooney and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who also supports a carbon tax, are the two most outspoken Republican lawmakers on climate change, but in recent months others have begun talking about the need to reduce emissions.

These include Senator John Barasso from deep red Wyoming, who earlier this year introduced a bill to expand nuclear power, in part citing the need to address climate change, and a handful of others including Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and John Cornyn of Texas who have made similar calls to expand renewables.

But if the majority of the party of Lincoln remains ostensibly skeptical of the science surrounding climate change, it was not ever thus.

FILE – The coal-fired Plant Scherer in Juliette, Ga., June 3, 2017. The Trump administration is doing away with a decades-old air emissions policy opposed by fossil fuel companies, a move that environmental groups say will result in more pollution.

Rightward lurch

Karolyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute told AFP that when Americans first became conscious of it in the late 1960s, environmentalism was a non-partisan cause — indeed, it was under President Richard Nixon that the Environmental Protection Agency was created. 

The practice of imposing taxes to reduce emissions was later used to great effect by former president George H.W. Bush, who in 1990 signed an amendment to the Clean Air Act that placed a price on sulfur dioxide to address the then-serious problem of acid rain, a wildly successful policy.

But Republicans then assumed a harder tack driven by lobbying from special interest groups funded by the likes of the Koch brothers, along with the emergence of an anti-taxation wing under the Republican Congress of the 1990s and the Tea Party movement of the late 2000s.

The question of what happens next is up for debate. 

A Trump victory in 2020 would put to rest any chance of a serious climate policy becoming law in the U.S., according to Bledsoe, even if younger Republicans are starting to care more about the issue.

But David Karol, the author of “Red, Green and Blue: The Partisan Divide on Environmental Issues,” said the emergence in Congress of the bipartisan “Climate Solutions Caucus” in 2016 was an interesting development, even if some environmentalists have deemed it a way for Republican legislators to “check a box and claim to care.”

“Even if that’s true, the fact that the GOP politicians felt a need to do this says something about where they think public opinion is,” Karol said.
 

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By Polityk | 21/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Judge: Trump Must Give Deposition in Protesters’ Lawsuit

A New York judge has ordered President Donald Trump to give a videotaped deposition in a lawsuit filed by protesters who claim they were roughed up outside Trump Tower.

State Supreme Court Judge Doris Gonzalez of the Bronx on Friday denied Trump’s effort to quash a subpoena seeking the president’s testimony.

She ordered Trump to videotape a deposition before the trial, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

The lawsuit was filed by six activists who say they were assaulted by Trump security staff during a Sept. 3, 2015, protest by people upset over comments Trump made about Mexican immigrants.

The judge says Trump’s testimony is “indispensable” as someone in charge of the business and his campaign.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately return a phone message.
 

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By Polityk | 21/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Source: Trump, in Call, Urged Ukraine to Investigate Biden’s Son 

President Donald Trump urged the new leader of Ukraine this summer to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a person familiar with the matter said Friday. Democrats condemned what they saw as a clear effort to damage a political rival, now at the heart of a whistleblower complaint against Trump. 
 
It was the latest revelation in an escalating controversy that has created a showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration, which has refused to turn over the formal complaint by a national security official or even describe its contents. 
 
Trump defended himself Friday against the intelligence official’s complaint, declaring it had come from a “partisan whistleblower,” though he also said he didn’t know who had made it. The complaint was based on a series of events, one of which was a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to a two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the issue by name and were granted anonymity. 
 
Trump, in that call, urged Zelenskiy to probe the activities of potential Democratic rival Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company, according to one of the people, who was briefed on the call. Trump did not raise the issue of U.S. aid to Ukraine, indicating there was not an explicit quid pro quo, according to the person. 
 
Biden’s response

Biden reacted strongly late Friday, saying that if the reports were true, “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.” He said Trump should release the transcript of his July phone conversation with Zelenskiy “so that the American people can judge for themselves.” 
 
The government’s intelligence inspector general has described the whistleblower’s Aug. 12 complaint as “serious” and “urgent.” But Trump dismissed it all on Friday, insisting “it’s nothing.” He scolded reporters for asking about it and said it was “just another political hack job.” 
 
“I have conversations with many leaders. It’s always appropriate. Always appropriate,” Trump said. “At the highest level, always appropriate. And anything I do, I fight for this country.” 
 
Trump, who took questions in the Oval Office alongside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whom he was hosting for a state visit, was asked if he knew if the whistleblower’s complaint centered on his July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy. The president responded, “I really don’t know,” but he continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was “perfectly fine and respectful.” 
 
Trump was asked Friday if he brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, “It doesn’t matter what I discussed.” But then he used the moment to urge the media “to look into” Biden’s background with Ukraine. 

U.N. meeting
 
Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Trump pressed Zelenskiy about Biden. 
 
The standoff with Congress raises fresh questions about the extent to which Trump’s appointees are protecting the Republican president from oversight and, specifically, whether his new acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is working with the Justice Department to shield the president.  

FILE – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, speaks to reporters after the panel met behind closed doors about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019.

Democrats say the administration is legally required to give Congress access to the whistleblower’s complaint, and Representative Adam Schiff of California has said he will go to court to try to get it if necessary. 
 
The intelligence community’s inspector general said the matter involves the “most significant” responsibilities of intelligence leadership. 

House Democrats also are fighting the administration for access to witnesses and documents in impeachment probes. 
 
In the whistleblower case, lawmakers are looking into whether Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure the government to aid the president’s re-election effort by investigating the activities of Biden’s son. 
 
During a rambling interview Thursday on CNN, Giuliani was asked whether he had asked Ukraine to look into Biden. He initially said, “No, actually I didn’t,” but seconds later he said, “Of course I did.” 

‘On my own’
 
Giuliani has spent months trying to drum up potentially damaging evidence about Biden’s ties to Ukraine. He told CNN that Trump was unaware of his actions. 
 
“I did what I did on my own,” he said. “I told him about it afterward.” 
 
Still later, Giuliani tweeted, “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job.” 

Democrats have contended that Trump, in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, may have asked for foreign assistance in his upcoming re-election bid. 
 
Trump further stoked those concerns earlier this year in an interview when he suggested he would be open to receiving foreign help. 

The inspector general appeared before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal to members the substance of the complaint. 

Chilling effect
 
Schiff, a California Democrat, said Trump’s attack on the whistleblower was disturbing, and he raised concerns that it would have a chilling effect on other potential exposers of wrongdoing. He also said it was “deeply disturbing” that the White House appeared to know more about the complaint than its intended recipient — Congress. 
 
The information “deserves a thorough investigation,” Schiff said. “Come hell or high water, that’s what we’re going to do.” 
 
Among the materials Democrats have sought is a transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy. A readout of the call released from the Ukrainian government said Trump believed Kyiv could complete corruption investigations that have hampered relations between the two nations, but did not get into specifics. 
 
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who in May called for a probe of Giuliani’s effort in Ukraine, said in an interview on Friday it’s “outrageous” the president has been sending his political operative to talk to Ukraine’s new president. Murphy tweeted that during his own visit it was clear to him that Ukraine officials were “worried about the consequences of ignoring Giuliani’s demands.” 
 
The senator tweeted that he told Zelenskiy during their August visit it was “best to ignore requests from Trump’s campaign operatives. He agreed.” 
 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump faces “serious repercussions” if reports about the complaint are accurate. She said it raises “grave, urgent concerns for our national security.”  

FILE – Retired Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire appears at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 25, 2018. Maguire serves as acting national intelligence director.

Letters to Congress from the inspector general make clear that Maguire consulted with the Justice Department in deciding not to transmit the complaint to Congress, a further departure from standard procedure. It’s unclear whether the White House was also involved, Schiff said. 
 
Maguire has refused to discuss details of the whistleblower complaint, but he has been subpoenaed by the House panel and is expected to testify publicly next Thursday. Maguire and the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, also are expected next week at the Senate intelligence committee. 
 
Atkinson wrote in letters that Schiff released that he and Maguire had hit an “impasse” over the acting director’s decision not to share the complaint with Congress. Atkinson said he was told by the legal counsel for the intelligence director that the complaint did not actually meet the definition of an “urgent concern.” And he said the Justice Department said it did not fall under the director’s jurisdiction because it did not involve an intelligence professional. 
 
Atkinson said he disagreed with that Justice Department view. The complaint “not only falls under DNI’s jurisdiction,” Atkinson wrote, “but relates to one of the most significant and important of DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.” 

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By Polityk | 20/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Trump Administration Blocks ‘Urgent’ Whistleblower Disclosure

The Trump administration plunged into an extraordinary showdown with Congress over access to a whistleblower’s complaint about reported incidents including a private conversation between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader. The blocked complaint is “serious” and “urgent,” the government’s intelligence watchdog said.

The administration is keeping Congress from even learning what exactly the whistleblower is alleging, but the intelligence community’s inspector general said the matter involves the “most significant” responsibilities of intelligence leadership. A lawmaker said the complaint was “based on a series of events.”

The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Thursday that at least part of the complaint involves Ukraine. The newspapers cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter. The Associated Press has not confirmed the reports.

The inspector general appeared before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal to members the substance of the complaint.

The standoff raises fresh questions about the extent to which Trump’s allies are protecting the Republican president from oversight and, specifically, if his new acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is working with the Justice Department to shield the president from the reach of Congress.

Trump, though giving no details about any incident, denied Thursday that he would ever “say something inappropriate” on such a call.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was prepared to go to court to try to force the Trump administration to open up about the complaint.

“The inspector general has said this cannot wait,” said Schiff, describing the administration’s blockade as an unprecedented departure from law. “There’s an urgency here that I think the courts will recognize.”

Schiff said he, too, could not confirm whether newspaper reports were accurate because the administration was claiming executive privilege in withholding the complaint. But letters from the inspector general to the committee released Thursday said it was an “urgent” matter of “serious or flagrant abuse” that must be shared with lawmakers.

The letters also made it clear that Maguire consulted with the Justice Department in deciding not to transmit the complaint to Congress in a further departure from standard procedure. It’s unclear whether the White House was also involved, Schiff said.

Because the administration is claiming the information is privileged, Schiff said he believes the whistleblower’s complaint “likely involves the president or people around him.”

Trump dismissed it all.

“Another Fake News story out there – It never ends!” Trump tweeted. “Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!”

He asked, “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially `heavily populated’ call.”

House Democrats are fighting the administration separately for access to witnesses and documents in impeachment probes. Democrats are also looking into whether Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure the government to aid the president’s reelection effort by investigating the activities of potential rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.

During an interview Thursday on CNN, Giuliani was asked whether he had asked Ukraine to look into Biden. Giuliani initially said, “No, actually I didn’t,” but seconds later he said, “Of course I did.”

Later, Giuliani tweeted, “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job.”

Among the materials Democrats have sought in that investigation is the transcript of a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj on July 25.

This new situation, stemming from the whistleblower’s Aug. 12 complaint, has led to their public concerns that government intelligence agencies and the recently named acting director might be under pressure to withhold information from Congress.

Trump tapped Maguire, a former Navy official, as acting intelligence director in August, after the departure of Director Dan Coats, a former Republican senator who often clashed with the president, and the retirement of Sue Gordon, a career professional in the No. 2 position.

Maguire has refused to discuss details of the whistleblower complaint, but he has been subpoenaed by the House panel and is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26. Maguire and the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, also are expected next week at the Senate intelligence committee.

Atkinson wrote in letters that Schiff released Thursday that he and Maguire had hit an “impasse” over the acting director’s decision not to share the complaint with Congress.

While Atkinson wrote that he believed Maguire’s position was in “good faith” it did not appear to be consistent with past practice. Atkinson said he was told by the legal counsel for the intelligence director that the complaint did not actually meet the definition of an “urgent concern.” And he said the Justice Department said it did not fall under the director’s jurisdiction because it did not involve an intelligence professional.

Atkinson said he disagreed with that Justice Department view. The complaint “not only falls under DNI’s jurisdiction,” Atkinson wrote, “but relates to one of the most significant and important of DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

The inspector general went on to say he requested authorization to at the very least disclose the “general subject matter” to the committee but had not been allowed to do so. He said the information was “being kept” from Congress. These decisions, the inspector general said, are affecting his execution of his duties and responsibilities.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, a member of the panel, said Atkinson said that the complaint was “based on a series of events.”

In calling the inspector general to testify, Schiff said Atkinson determined the whistleblower complaint was “credible and urgent” and should be “transmitted to Congress.”

The inspector general’s testimony was described by three people with knowledge of the proceedings. They were not authorized to discuss the meeting by name and were granted anonymity.

Several lawmakers suggested the failure to disclose the complaint’s contents amounted to a failure to protect the whistleblower, another violation. However, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, wrote in a letter Tuesday to the committee that the agency was indeed protecting the whistleblower.

Andrew Bakaj, a former intelligence officer and an attorney specializing in whistleblower reprisal investigations, confirmed that he was representing the whistleblower but declined further comment.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said on MSNBC that the acting director “broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the inspector general’s report to Congress.”

That’s “never been done before in the history of inspector general reports to the Congress,” Himes said. “And the American people should be worried about that.”

Himes said, “We don’t know exactly what is in the substance of this complaint. It could be nothing. It could be something very, very serious.”

 

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By Polityk | 20/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика

Latinos May Determine Next US Presidential Election Outcome

 

Henry Hernandez contributed to this report.

READING, PENNSYLVANIA — Café owner Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, the only Latino on the six-member city council in Reading, Pennsylvania, says it has been a struggle to educate her community about its bulked-up voting muscle.

“People feel disenfranchised. And they always feel like their vote does not count and their vote does not matter,” she said.

More than a half century ago, a group of Puerto Ricans moved to Reading to work the nearby mushroom fields. Since then, the Latino population of the city itself has mushroomed to 65%, supplanting the traditional base of conservative Protestant whites of German ancestry.

Although she is a city official, Cepeda-Freytiz, born in New York City of parents from the Dominican Republic, recounts how some non-Latino constituents suspect she is not a citizen, accusing her of “buying her papers.”

‘Latino community is going to make a difference’

That and the underrepresentation at the polls among the Latino community may explain why Reading has never had a Hispanic mayor. Eddie Moran, vice president of the Reading school board, is seeking to become the first one in this year’s city election. He also is keeping an eye on next year’s presidential contest.

“I think next year is going to be huge, where the Latino community is going to make a difference in this electoral campaign,” he said.

FILE – President Donald Trump talks with reporters in the Oval Office of the White House, Sept. 4, 2019.

Indeed, the 32 million Latinos registered to vote in next year’s U.S. presidential election will make them the largest racial or ethnic voting bloc, with the potential of determining whether a Democrat is capable of denying President Donald Trump a second term.

“For Democrats, it’s critical that they hold on to the Latino vote, and for Republicans that they gain support among Latino voters,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, at Franklin & Marshall College.

Seventy-three percent of Latinos nationwide plan to vote or are leaning toward voting for a Democrat in the 2020 election, according to a Univision poll this month.

Among the areas that are rich with Hispanic voters deemed most critical for the Electoral College vote that will determine the outcome of the presidential contest are the Texas counties along the border with Mexico, Orange County in Florida and Las Vegas in Nevada.

FILE – Delegates hold Hillary Clinton signs at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., July 28, 2016.

Swing state of Pennsylvania

Then there is the swing state of Pennsylvania, which has seen a 28% increase in its Hispanic population in the last decade. Pennsylvania was one of several blue-collar Rust Belt states that narrowly went for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Those states may prove pivotal again next year.

Many have migrated to the once-prosperous city of Reading, which The New York Times in 2011 deemed poorest city in the nation.

The trend has spread out along what is now known as the Route 222 Latino corridor, encompassing more than half of Pennsylvania’s Hispanic population.

Moran and Cepeda-Freytiz spent the past Saturday hugging supporters and courting undecided voters as they participated in Reading’s first Puerto Rican parade and street festival.

Social entrepreneur Angel Figueroa, the first Puerto Rican elected to Reading’s city council in 2002, organized the parade and festival. Figueroa notes the pivotal role of Reading and Berks County historically in the outcome of presidential elections.

“This election in 2020 is so key with all of the hate and rhetoric that’s been going on,” Figueroa said. “I think it’s time that as a bloc, that we send a message to both political parties.”

While some Hispanics blame Trump for the divisive rhetoric, about 30% nationally voted for him in 2016, and he retains supporters in Reading like Nancy Rodriguez and Junior Cruz-Morales.

A supporter of President Donald Trump holds up a sign during campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center, Sept. 16, 2019, in Rio Rancho, N.M.

“I support him because I’ve seen more opportunities for Latinos, and he’s been focusing more on the Latino community,” Rodriquez said.

Her husband, Cruz-Morales, agreed. “We voted for Donald Trump, and he’s doing a good job. I’m not sure if he’s going to get four more years, but if he does, we welcome that.”

Unemployment among Hispanics nationally is 4.2%, a record low Trump has touted and taken credit for repeatedly at his campaign rallies.

Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by less than 1%, or less than 45,000 votes out of a total of 6 million cast, and the narrowest margin in a presidential election in the state in 176 years.

Hillary Clinton handily won every precinct in Reading.

Many Democrats say they are confident Latino voters in Reading and along the entire Route 222 corridor will overwhelmingly support their nominee next year. Others are sounding a warning.

“Dissatisfaction with the current president will not be enough to get Latinos to vote,” according to Grecia Lima, political director for Community Change Action in Washington. “It will require early engagement, personalized outreach and information from trusted messengers. Latinos are under duress, something that they are relating back to the president.”

Gloria Garces kneels at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas.

According to her organization’s research, 69% of Latino voters believe Trump’s sharp anti-immigrant rhetoric influenced the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where witnesses say the gunman targeted Hispanic-looking shoppers at a Walmart store.

Trump held a rally in El Paso in February and visited the city again after the attack in which 22 people died.

“I’ve continued to say the president’s policies are a win for Latino voters across America,” Trump’s re-election campaign chairman Brad Parscale said, adding, “One of the first symbols of this was the El Paso rally.”

Parscale says “thousands of voters who did not vote for the president in 2016” attended the rally and registered to vote.

Overall in Texas — the state with the second-largest Hispanic population after California — Republican officials say their data show a 20% jump in support for Trump since 2016.

“That means he has nearly 1 million new Hispanic supporters!” tweeted the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel.

Our data shows @realDonaldTrump’s approval among Hispanic Americans in Texas has increased by 20% since 2016.

That means he has nearly 1 million new Hispanic supporters!https://t.co/LTQ2akAFJD

— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) September 13, 2019

The Trump re-election campaign is trying to extend its appeal to other states with large Latino populations, including New Mexico, which Trump lost to Clinton in 2016 by more than 8%.

Despite an affinity among the majority of Hispanics for Democratic candidates, Trump and his supporters insist that many Latino voters share the president’s concern about illegal immigrants.

“The Hispanic Americans understand they don’t want criminals going across the border. They don’t want people taking their jobs. They want security, and they want the wall,” Trump said at a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, on Monday, where most of those placed in tight view of the cameras behind the president wore “Latinos for Trump” shirts.

Hispanics compose nearly half of the population in New Mexico, the highest share of any state. In another closely watched state, Nevada, Latinos are 50% registered Democrats, 20% Republicans and the rest independent.

Culinary Union Local 226 in the state’s biggest city, Las Vegas, represents 60,000 hotel and casino workers — half of whom are Latinos. The union, which endorsed Clinton in 2016, has its own citizenship project for members, then registers them to vote and ensures they get to the polls.

As far as the Republicans in the state trying to put up a challenge to the clout of the Latino-dominated union, David Damore, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas says, “There’s really no point to it.”

For Republicans who think they can capture Nevada next year, Damore asserts, “They’re delusional.”

The only feasible approach for the Republican Party with Latinos in Nevada and most of the rest of the country “will be cutting the margin and trying to suppress the vote,” according to Damore.

One thing is certain about Hispanic voters nationwide between now and November of 2020, according to Madonna, a prominent political pollster in Pennsylvania.

“They’re going to be continually courted by the candidates.”

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By Polityk | 20/09/2019 | Повідомлення, Політика
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