Tsunami of breaking news hits involving Trump scandals: all are troubling
A virtual tsunami of developments and news stories have hit involving President Donald Trump, top administration officials, and the administration’s efforts to
contact pressure foreign governments for dirt on his political opponents, the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community. The White House is trying to stack up sandbags to halt the flood. But developments and news stories are breaking at a quick pace.
Despite the news media’s tendency to pick up a narrative that may or may not be correct and pepper it with assumptions (until the vote it is not a given Trump will be impeached, removal in the Senate is unlikely to happen and no matter what occurs Trump could still win election due to a variety of factors, including the Democrats’ ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory) it is a fact that the number of stories breaking quickly is astounding.
And the expectation is that a lot more is to come.
Some headlines and excerpts:
Washington — A series of rapid-fire developments brought the House impeachment inquiry into clearer focus Monday afternoon, with Democrats issuing new demands for evidence and new revelations about the circumstances of the president’s call with Ukraine coming to light.
Just before 4 p.m., three House committees announced they had subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, for documents related to his work on behalf of President Trump to persuade Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. The committees also requested material about Giuliani’s work to secure Ukraine’s cooperation into a Justice Department review of the origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Shortly after the subpoena was announced, The Wall Street Journal reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between the president and the Ukrainian leader. CBS News has confirmed Pompeo was on the call.
The New York Times reported Mr. Trump had called the prime minister of Australia to request assistance in the Justice Department review. The call came at the behest of Attorney General William Barr.
A Justice Department official then told CBS News that Barr had asked Mr. Trump to reach out to a number of foreign officials to request their assistance in his review, which is being led by the U.S. attorney in Connecticut. A source familiar with the matter said Barr traveled to Italy as part of his effort, and The Washington Post reported he has also reached out to intelligence officials in the United Kingdom.
In the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Mr. Trump repeatedly asked him to work with Barr to pursue a fringe conspiracy theory about the origins of the 2016 U.S. counterintelligence investigation that would became the Mueller probe.
“I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it,” Mr. Trump told Zelensky, according to the summary released by the White House.
It was in that conversation that Mr. Trump also urged Zelensky to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, and said he would put him in touch with both Giuliani and Barr.
President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.
The White House curbed access to a transcript of the call — which the president made at Mr. Barr’s request — to a small group of aides, one of the officials said. The restriction was unusual and similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Like that call, Mr. Trump’s discussion with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia shows the president using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests.
The discussion with Mr. Morrison shows the extent to which Mr. Trump views the attorney general as a crucial partner: The president is using federal law enforcement powers to aid his political prospects, settle scores with his perceived “deep state” enemies and show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt, partisan origins.
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The Justice Department inquiry and a parallel but unconnected effort by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani represent a kind of two-front war. Mr. Trump has said that Mr. Barr can help him validate his 2016 electoral victory, and Mr. Giuliani has been trying to unearth damaging information about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in anticipation of the 2020 race.
As part of his efforts, Mr. Barr in recent months has asked the president to facilitate communications with foreign officials and has made at least one trip to Italy to secure cooperation, according to a department official. The inquiry is examining American intelligence and law enforcement activity around the Trump campaign and whether it was legal.
Lawyers for the House of Representatives revealed on Monday that they have reason to believe that the grand-jury redactions in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report show that President Donald Trump lied about his knowledge of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks.
The attorneys made the stunning suggestion in a court filing as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bid for Mueller’s grand-jury materials, which have remained secret by law.
“Not only could those materials demonstrate the president’s motives for obstructing the special counsel’s investigation, they also could reveal that Trump was aware of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks,” the lawyers wrote in the filing, which was in response to the Justice Department’s opposition to the disclosure of the grand-jury information.
To back up their claim, the House’s legal team — led by House General Counsel Douglas Letter — cited a passage in Mueller’s report about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s testimony that he “recalled” Trump asking to be kept “updated” about WikiLeaks’ disclosures of Democratic National Committee emails. There is a grand-jury redaction in that passage, the lawyers note.
“The text redacted … and any underlying evidence to which it may point are critical to the committee’s investigation,” they wrote.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July phone call where President Donald Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden and his son, a senior State Department official told NBC News.
The July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a related whistleblower complaint are now at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Pompeo’s involvement in the call — during which Trump told Zelenskiy that Biden’s conduct sounded “horrible” to him — was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. It’s not unusual for the nation’s top diplomat to be on a president’s call with a foreign leader, but Pompeo has not acknowledged his involvement.
Pompeo dodged questions about the phone call and the complaint during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sept. 22, days before the White House released a summary of the call which showed Trump asking about the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine.
Pompeo had argued against releasing the transcript, saying it would set a bad precedent — never acknowledging he knew exactly what was in the call.
Asked about reports of the substance of the conversation, Pompeo said he wasn’t familiar with them and couldn’t comment on them. “You just gave me information about a [intelligence community] report, none of which we’ve seen,” he said.