In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

11/18

  • Gordon Sondland, President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, reportedly kept top officials in the Trump administration updated on efforts to persuade Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Biden ahead of Trump’s much-publicized July call with the country’s president. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Sondland updated officials, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, via email on the results of his efforts, which have become the center of House’s impeachment inquiry.
  • Jennifer Williams, Special adviser to Vice President Pence, who was listening in on the July 25 phone call, told House impeachment investigators that Trump’s request that Ukraine open a Biden probe was “unusual and inappropriate.”
  • Trump claims that a China Phase 1 trade deal is very close.  The Chinese keep insisting that a deal is far away.
  • In September, President Trump said he was moving to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes as vaping among young people continued to rise. But two months later, under pressure from his political advisers and lobbyists to factor in the potential pushback from his supporters, Mr. Trump has resisted moving forward with any action on vaping, while saying he still wants to study the issue.
  • In reply to Speaker Pelosi’s call for the President to testify in the impeachment hearings, Trump Tweeted : “Nervous Nancy Pelosi…suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt. She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”
  • The House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House’s general counsel said in federal court Monday.
  • Reversing decades of US policy on West Bank, the Trump administration will stop treating Israel’s West Bank settlements as a violation of international law, a step that may doom peace efforts with Palestinians.
  • The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a ruling that requires an accounting firm to turn over President Donald Trump’s taxes taxes to Congress. Trump has refused to show his tax returns since announcing his run for president in 2015, although those documents are customarily made public by presidential candidates. The president has asked the Supreme Court to keep his tax returns shielded from congressional investigators and prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
  • Staff members for Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D -Oregon), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with an IRS whistleblower earlier this month regarding the whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Mina Chang, a high-ranking State Department staffer who inflated her resume, has resigned from her position. Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, was accused of overstating her academic credentials.
  • Congressional aides working on the impeachment inquiry announce that David Holmes, the man who overheard the Sondland/Trump phone call, will testify alongside Fiona Hill on Thursday.
  • U.S. State Department officials were informed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden even before the July phone call that has led to impeachment hearings in Washington, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press. In early May, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were told Zelenskiy was seeking advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in.
  • According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Amazon will pay nothing in federal income taxes for the second year in a row. Thanks to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Amazon’s federal tax responsibility is 21% (down from 35% in previous years). But with the help of tax breaks, according to corporate filings, Amazon won’t be paying any taxes despite posting more than $11.2 billion in profits in 2018.

In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

11/15

  • President Trump is taking his efforts to block the release of his tax returns to the Supreme Court, setting up a historic separation-of-powers test.
  • Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for campaign finance violations and possibly breaking laws against bribing foreign officials.
  • Turkish media are seizing on President Erdoğan’s comments that President Trump had “no reaction” to his returning the American leader’s notorious letter to him, saying it shows a clear victory over Trump. A headline in Sabah Daily said that international media were reporting that Erdoğan returned the “scandalous” letter to Trump and the American president was “silent.” A headline in Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily quoted the Turkish leader talking about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “I told him what he needed, he learned his lesson.”
  • The Justice Department inspector general’s office has told witnesses who are set to review draft sections of its long-awaited report on the FBI investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign that they will not be allowed to submit written feedback — one in a series of unusual restrictions that some fear could make the final document less accurate. As is the case in most inspector general probes, witnesses are being invited to review draft sections of the report and offer comments and corrections. But, unlike most cases, they are being told those comments must be conveyed only verbally.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced a new commission that he said will decide which human rights are more important to U.S. foreign policy. Every member of the commission is an anti-LGBTQ activist.
  • Mark Sandy, a longtime career employee at the White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to testify Saturday in the House impeachment inquiry, potentially filling in important details on the holdup of military aid to Ukraine. Sandy  would be the first OMB employee to testify in the inquiry, after OMB acting director Russell T. Vought and two other political appointees at the agency defied congressional subpoenas to appear.
  • The US has warned Egypt of pos­si­ble sanc­tions over Cairo’s de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with a pur­chase of Russ­ian war­planes.A letter obtained by WSJ says the buy may “complicate future US defense transactions with and security assistance to Egypt.”
  • Trump is demanding that South Korea pay roughly 500% more in 2020 to cover the cost of keeping US troops on the peninsula. The price hike has frustrated Pentagon officials and deeply concerned Republican and Democratic lawmakers, according to military officials and congressional aides. It has angered and unnerved Seoul, where leaders are questioning US commitment to their alliance and wondering whether Trump will pull US forces if they don’t pay up.
  • President Trump on Thursday moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an aide to former national security adviser John Bolton seeking a ruling on whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. In the filing, he sought to have a judge dismiss White House official Dr. Charles Kupperman lawsuit seeking guidance on whether he should comply with the subpoena or the president’s directive not to comply.
  • After news surfaced that President Trump’s phone call with U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was overheard by others in a restaurant in Ukraine, top former national security officials say Russian spies almost certainly overheard at least some of the president’s conversation.
  • The White House announced Friday that President Trump will attend the NATO leaders meeting in the United Kingdom early next month, where he is set to address shared costs between NATO member countries and attend a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
  • President Trump denigrated Marie Yovanovitch on Twitter even as she testified about how she felt threatened by him, leading Democrats to accuse him of trying to intimidate a witness in real time. While Ambassador Yovanovitch was testifying before the House, President Trump live Tweeted: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.” 
  • Roger Stone, the right-wing provocateur and longtime associate of President Trump, was convicted of 7 counts of lying to Congress and witness tampering. The verdict is another victory for former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose legal team alleged that Stone had tried to conceal from Congress his contacts with the Trump campaign and Wikileaks.
  • President Trump complained of a historic “double standard” after his longtime associate Roger Stone was convicted on seven felony counts, including lying to Congress and witness tampering related to his efforts to feed the Trump campaign information on WikiLeaks in 2016.
  • President Trump claimed the identity of the whistleblower who first raised concerns about his relationship with Ukraine is known to everyone in D.C. Trump told “The Dan Bongino Show,” “Everyone in Washington knows who it is, by the way. The whistleblower is no great secret. Everybody knows who the whistleblower is, and [it] has to be revealed.”
  • In a historic move, President Donald Trump announced Friday that hospitals will be required to disclose the rates they privately negotiate with insurers. Part of a larger transparency push aimed at reducing health care costs, the controversial requirement has already raised the ire of the powerful industry. Four hospital groups quickly promised to file a legal challenge, arguing the rule exceeds the administration’s authority.
  • Trump said he watched some of Friday’s proceedings and said, “I thought it was a disgrace. When we have great Republican representatives…and they’re not allowed to even ask a question. They’re not allowed to make a statement.”

NOTE: Time to make statements and ask questions are allotted to both Democrats and Republicans equally. 

For full coverage of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, visit The Hill http://bit.ly/2Qo4tyc

In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

11/7

  • President Trump was more personally involved in his campaign’s effort to obtain Democratic emails stolen by Russian operatives in 2016 than was previously known, phone records introduced in federal court suggested.
  • Rudy Giuliani Tweeted, “The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another were disproven.”

NOTE: As Republicans are espousing that investigating the Bidens was of legitimate state interest, Rudy steps in to confirm that the requests he and the State Dept were making of Ukraine were simply to advance Trump’s personal interests.

  • It was reported that Trump wanted Attorney General Barr to hold a news conference declaring that Trump had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so. The request for the news conference came sometime around Sept. 25, when the administration released a rough transcript of the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.

NOTE: In response, Trump Tweeted: “Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine. The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an “anonymous” source that doesn’t exist. Just read the Transcript. The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good. We don’t have freedom of the press!”

  • Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general and more recently a lobbyist at a firm with extensive ties to Trump, will join the White House communications staff temporarily to help with messaging during the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
  • The Trump administration has sued Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company that sells H.I.V.-prevention drugs, accusing it of earning billions from research funded by taxpayers without paying taxpayers back
  • Trump repeated the false claim that a large liquified natural gas project in Louisiana couldn’t get approval under Obama and that he had it approved almost immediately. The plant got its final federal go-ahead June 2014.
  • Republicans intend to subpoena the government whistleblower to testify in the House’s impeachment investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, according to GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.
  • Interviews in Kiev have revealed high-level Ukrainian officials ultimately decided to acquiesce to Trump’s request for a public announcement about investigations, because the need for aid was so great. By a stroke of luck, they never had to follow through.
  • Trump has had talks of having a post-presidency reality show. One of the ideas kicked around was shooting a new version of The Apprentice, tentatively titled ‘The Apprentice: White House,’ and to produce it shortly after the president leaves office.
  • Trump Tweeted: “It was just explained to me that for next weeks Fake Hearing (trial) in the House, as they interview Never Trumpers and others, I get NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS. It is a Pelosi, Schiff, Scam against the Republican Party and me. This Witch Hunt should not be allowed to proceed!”

NOTE: Trump hasn’t been charged with a crime and impeachment isn’t a legal proceeding, so he doesn’t have any of the rights, including due process, associated with a criminal case. As a matter of law, a president has essentially no claim to any kind of participation in the impeachment process. 

  • A federal judge has ruled the Trump administration must provide mental health services to migrant families that have undergone trauma as a result of being separated from their families at the border.
  • A NY state judge has ordered Trump to pay $2 million to a collection of non-profit organizations as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office to resolve a civil lawsuit that alleged “persistent” violations of charities law.

NOTE: In 2018 Trump Tweeted: “The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!”

  • R&B singer, Ray J, in talks to meet with the Trump administration to get Suge Knight pardoned for manslaughter conviction.
  • Roger Stone’s trial has begun and prosecutors are citing evidence that Trump lied to Special Counsel Mueller.
  • In the released transcript, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent confirms Ambassador to the European Union Sondland was told by Trump to seek quid pro quo: “Gordon [Sondland], had talked to the President, POTUS in sort of shorthand, and POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.”
  • Kent corroborates that Sondland told Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovitch to send a supportive tweet about Trump to save her job.
  • The House Impeachment Committee is moving on from their efforts to obtain testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton. Though Bolton was scheduled to voluntarily testify Thursday, he did not. A lawyer for Bolton threatened to file a lawsuit if their client was subpoenaed.
  • The Government Accountability Office is looking into the Trump administration’s hold on nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to see if the freeze, which is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, was illegal.

In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

11/5

  • Lev Parnas, one of two Ukrainian-American associates of Rudy Giuliani who were indicted last month, is now prepared to comply with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, his lawyer says.
  • Former State official Michael McKinley in sworn testimony says he spoke with Secretary of State Pompeo three times about a public statement for Yovanovitch, including on Sept. 26 when Pompeo offered no response. Pompeo, to ABC in Oct., says he “never heard” McKinley say a “single thing about his concerns.”
  • Former National Security Advisor John Bolton will testify as part of the impeachment probe this Thursday, per an official working on the inquiry.
  • Trump says there is “nothing wrong” with a quid pro quo, because “it is not an impeachable event.”

NOTE: Bribery is impeachable. It’s actually one of the only two specified offenses listed as impeachable.

  • Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, Sen. Rand Paul demanded the news media print the whistleblower’s name as he delivered a speech at Trump’s rally in Kentucky.

NOTE: Under Federal Law, an intelligence whistleblower is protected from retaliation so long as he or she follows the protocol when filing a complaint.

  • Trump Tweeted, “The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff. He must be brought forward to testify. Written answers not acceptable!”

NOTE: Trump provided written answers to the Mueller investigation that were incomplete and misleading.

  • Trump said the US is ready to “wage war” on the drug cartels and “wipe them off the face of the earth” after at least 10 members of a prominent Mormon family, including three women and seven children, were killed in an ambush attack near the US-Mexico border.
  • Trump offered Putin aid to fight forest fires in Siberia while threatening to withhold aid from California.
  • House impeachment investigators asked Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to appear for a deposition later this week
  • Jennifer Williams, a senior adviser to Vice President Pence, is likely to comply with a request to testify on Thursday in front of the committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
  • Trump has set the lowest refugee cap in history despite record numbers of refugees globally.

NOTE: America was conceived as a haven of refugees, people fleeing repression and persecution.

  • The Justice Department opened a new front in the legal battle between congressional impeachment investigators and the White House by announcing that Congress must allow government attorneys to accompany executive branch witnesses who testify about Trump’s relations with Ukraine.
  • Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland says he told Ukraine that aid was conditioned on announcing an investigation that would help Trump politically
  • Ambassador Kurt Volker texted to a top Ukrainian official the script they wanted Zelensky to read to announce the Burisma (i.e. Biden)/2016 election investigations.
  • Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he won’t read any of the transcripts, and dismissed Sondland’s testimony. “I’ve written the whole process off … I think this is a bunch of B.S.”

In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

10/30

  • In rare bipartisan rebuke of Trump, The House approved sanctions against Turkey over its offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish forces. The measure passed 403-16, with 176 Republicans voting in support and just 15 opposing the bill. The sanctions offer a rare bipartisan rebuke of President Trump’s policies while underscoring the growing divide between Congress and a NATO ally.
  • Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified that President Trump’s demand for political dirt from Ukraine was so damaging to US National Security that he had a “duty” to relay his objections up the chain of command.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told House investigators that the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases, including a reference to Burisma, and that his attempts to restore them failed.
  • Vindman was instructed not to debrief Trump on Zelensky’s inauguration because Trump’s advisers were worried it might confuse him. Nunes ally Kash Patel had “misrepresented” himself as NSC’s Ukraine expert, despite no relevant experience, Vindman testified. Trump believed that Kash Patel, a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February and had no discernible Ukraine experience or expertise, was actually the NSC’s top Ukraine expert instead of Vindman.
  • EU Amb. Gordon Sondland now tells Congress that there was a quid pro quo involved with Ukraine after previously denying it, Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos who pleaded guilty last year for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russia-linked officials and served 12 day in prison has launched a congressional campaign to run for the House seat vacated Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.). 
  • EU Amb. Gordon Sondland now tells Congress that there was a quid pro quo involved with Ukraine after previously denying it, Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Trump said “over the last 2 years, the number of murders in America and America’s major cities has dropped, unlike (Chicago), by more than 10%.” 

NOTE: Chicago has seen murders this year decrease by 27% than it had at this time two years ago.

  • The number of uninsured children grew by more than 400,000 between 2016 and 2018, an unprecedented decline in health coverage for the youngest Americans.
  • For the 12-month period ending September 2019, Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies totaled 580 filings, up 24% from the prior year and the highest level since 676 filings in 2011.
  • U.S. economy slowed to a modest growth rate of 1.9% in the summer, above some expectations but far below the 3%-plus increases Pres. Trump has set as a benchmark.

NOTE: Regarding the 1.9% Growth, Trump Tweeted: “The Greatest Economy in American History.”
NOTE: In May 2012 when growth rate was exactly the same, Trump Tweeted: “Q1 GDP has just been revised down to 1.9%. The economy is in deep trouble.” 

  • The Federal Reserve announced that it will cut interest rates for the third consecutive time this year as the U.S. economy continues to slow. Trump has pressured for further cuts.
  • Former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton will testify next week in the impeachment inquiry.