US Politics in Trump era
President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone on Friday, using the extensive powers of the presidency to protect a felon and political ally while also lashing out against a years-long probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
In his new book, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, describes instances when the president sought to halt criminal inquiries. He also says President Trump’s loyalists mocked him behind his back.
President Trump is firing the intelligence community inspector general whose insistence on telling lawmakers about a whistle-blower complaint about his dealings with Ukraine triggered impeachment proceedings last fall, the president told lawmakers in a letter late Friday.
The decision to move Colonel Vindman out of the White House complex, reported previously by Bloomberg News and The Washington Post, came as Mr. Trump and his allies have made clear that they will seek to exact payback against those he blames for triggering his impeachment and trial.
President Trump fired two of the most prominent witnesses in the impeachment inquiry within hours of each other Friday evening, moves that amounted to retribution against those he holds responsible for his attempted removal.
President Trump called the plan, which would discard the longtime goal of granting the Palestinians a full-fledged state, a “win-win” for both sides. The event in the East Room of the White House had a Kabuki-theater quality to it as Mr. Trump ended years of suspense over a highly anticipated peace plan. But rather than viewing it as a serious blueprint for peace, analysts called it a political document by a president in the middle of an impeachment trial working in tandem with a prime minister under criminal indictment and about to face his third election in the span of a year.
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.
Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who played a central role in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rivals of President Trump, completed his break with the White House on Wednesday, asserting for the first time in public that the president was fully aware of the efforts to dig up damaging information on his behalf.
Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.
An official from the White House budget office directed the Defense Department to “hold off” on sending military aid to Ukraine less than two hours after President Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to internal emails.
This is the letter President Trump sent to Nanci Pelosi on the eve of the impeachment vote in the house of representatives. The editorial board has fact checked Trump's assertions and defense and found 19 false, misleading and exaggerated statements and called it a rambling angry letter.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Senate Republicans of violating their oath to be impartial jurors in an impeachment trial, as GOP senators defended their right to work for President Trump’s acquittal. Senators take an oath to “do impartial justice” at the start of any impeachment trial — but several Republican senators argued that impartiality doesn’t cover politics.
House Democratic leaders on Tuesday formally called for President Trump’s removal from office, asserting that he “ignored and injured the interests of the nation” in two articles of impeachment that charged him with abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”
House Democrats on Tuesday asserted that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election, releasing a 300-page impeachment report that found that Mr. Trump “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”
“The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” the report states. “The Democrats are trying to impeach a duly elected president based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.”
The refusal to send lawyers Wednesday continues a pattern of stonewalling by Mr. Trump, who has sought to block witnesses and documents, as he and his allies call the proceedings “deranged” and a “witch hunt.” People familiar with the president’s legal strategy have said privately that his lawyers are deeply suspicious of taking part in a process they view as unfair to Mr. Trump.
The White House’s former top Europe and Russia expert sharply denounced what she called a “fictional narrative” embraced by President Trump and his Republican allies that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 elections, testifying that the claim at the center of the impeachment inquiry was a fabrication by Moscow that had harmed the United States.
Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers Friday that when she read how President Trump had talked about her to his Ukrainian counterpart in a July phone call — saying ominously that “she’s going to go through some things” — the color drained from her face.“It sounded like a threat,” she said.Even as Yovanovitch testified, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”
A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier.
House Republicans’ latest plan to shield President Trump from impeachment is to focus on at least three deputies — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and possibly acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who they say could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy.
Days after a decorated Army lieutenant colonel offered damaging testimony about President Trump’s conduct on a July phone call with Ukraine’s leader, Mr. Trump stood on the South Lawn and issued a vague but ominous warning.“You’ll be seeing very soon what comes out,” Mr. Trump said on Saturday, referring to the officer, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman.
Trump Is Committing ‘Felony Bribery’ by Giving Fundraising Cash to GOP Senators Ahead of Impeachment Trial: Ex-Bush Ethics Lawyer
Attorney Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, warned on Thursday that President Donald Trump appeared to be committing "felony bribery" by giving Republican senators fundraising cash ahead of an increasingly likely impeachment trial in the Senate.
The House is legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a federal judge ruled on Friday, delivering a major victory to House Democrats and undercutting arguments by President Trump and Republicans that the investigation is a sham.
After the bombshell news that emerged from U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s testimony, the network’s hosts and personalities took their spin to a new level, peddling absurd conspiracies about the diplomat and declaring reports on his testimony to be fake news.
The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told lawmakers Tuesday that President Trump made the release of military aid contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Thursday that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election.
Current and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, said Mulvaney contributed substantially to the unfolding political crisis, both through his connection to key events related to the attempt to pressure Kiev and through his general approach to the chief of staff job, which was driven by a perceived reluctance to displease the president.
Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine in May, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”
The White House declared war on the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, announcing that it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election” and setting the stage for a constitutional clash with far-reaching consequences.
President Trump on Thursday publicly called on China to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an extraordinary presidential request to a foreign country for help that could benefit him in the 2020 election.
In the first skirmish in what promises to be an epic impeachment struggle between the executive and legislative branches, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at three congressional committees that are seeking to depose diplomats involved in American policy toward Ukraine, calling their demands for confidential interviews “an act of intimidation.”
Multiple news outlets reported on Monday that Barr’s Italy trip focused on urging the country’s officials to help his Justice Department investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation for an effort that appears aligned with long-festering conspiracy theories on the matter. The campaign to squeeze foreign countries for information that would discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation also extended to a July 29 meeting that Barr had in London with British officials.
Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington would need Russian consent to publish transcripts of phone calls between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The Democratic-led House last week launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump in the aftermath of a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump had solicited interference by Ukraine in the 2020 U.S. election for his own political benefit.
President Trump has turned American foreign policy into an extortion racket, abusing his powers to goad foreign leaders into persecuting his domestic rivals and improve his political standing. The proof for this in the case of Ukraine is irrefutable.
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.
It’s strange to see my journalism twisted, perverted, and turned into lies and poisonous propaganda by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and their enablers. But that’s what has happened to a news story I wrote four years ago.
After hearing that President Trump tried to persuade Ukraine to investigate a 2020 campaign rival, senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call, a whistle-blower alleged in an explosive complaint released Thursday.
After months of caution, Ms. Pelosi has become convinced that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, left the House no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry that has the potential to reshape his presidency and cleave an already divided nation just a year before he plans to stand for re-election.
Democrats called Sunday for a new investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in response to a New York Times piece that said Kavanaugh was seen sexually harassing a female student while at Yale.Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro, Democratic presidential candidates, pushed for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.
The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his political downfall, when he is revealed to be “not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag”.
The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York's Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause.
House Republicans plan to privately question the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, about discussions last year where he suggested secretly taping President Trump to expose a chaotic White House and removing him from office under the 25th Amendment. House Democrats complained that they were left out of the planning and pledged to push to attend the meeting. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said his Republican colleagues “cannot be left alone in a room” with Mr. Rosenstein.
Memos written by Andrew McCabe, then the acting FBI director, say deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein suggested he secretly record his talks with President Trump, and that Rosenstein discussed possibly trying to remove him from office, according to people familiar with the matter.
President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
Unfortunately for Pence — but fortunately for everyone in America who likes women’s rights, their gay uncle Sal, and R-rated movies — his future looks bleak as well. It’s not just Trump who should be worried about his connections to Paul Manafort, or indeed, to the occurrences at Trump Tower or during the transition period between Obama’s presidency and Trump’s.
Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, in a move that marks a dramatic escalation in the battle over the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The effort, led by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also sets up a showdown with House Republican leaders, who have distanced themselves from calls to remove Rosenstein from office.
A lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by maintaining a financial interest in his company’s Washington hotel cleared a critical hurdle on Wednesday when a federal judge allowed the case to move forward.The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, say that Mr. Trump’s profits from the Trump International Hotel, just blocks from the White House, violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution and take business from local convention centers and hotels.
ICE Has Conducted Hundreds of Raids in New York Since Trump Came to Power. Here’s What Those Operations Look Like.
It was approximately 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in early April when the pounding on the front door began. The sun was still coming up over New York City as a man The Intercept will call Michael jumped out of bed to investigate the commotion. Michael opened the door and found three men and one woman wearing tactical vests standing outside. They were accompanied by a man with a camera, already recording.
President Trump on Monday asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do so because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing. In a subsequent tweet Monday, Trump also claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election had been “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, claimed that she couldn’t remember what word Trump used to describe Haiti and African countries in an Oval Office meeting last week. According to Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin, Trump derided those nations as “shithole countries.”
According to Trump’s own tweet, he would have known Flynn had lied to the FBI at the time Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, assuring him Flynn had done nothing wrong. On Twitter, Matthew Miller, a former Department of Justice official, echoes that Trump’s new version of events indicates an effort to obstruct Comey’s investigation.
President Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides. Mr. Trump’s requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides.
Originally commissioned by a private firm as opposition research by Donald Trump’s Republican and then Democratic opponents, the dossier cite a range of unnamed sources, in Russia and the US, who describe the Kremlin’s cultivation over many years of the man who now occupies the Oval Office – and the systematic collusion of Trump’s associates with Moscow to help get him there.
Explosive allegations about Donald Trump made by online writers with large followings among Trump critics were based on bogus information from a hoaxer who falsely claimed to work in law enforcement. Claude Taylor tweeted fake details of criminal inquiries into Trump that were invented by a source whose claim to work for the New York attorney general was not checked, according to emails seen by the Guardian. The allegations were endorsed as authentic and retweeted by his co-writer Louise Mensch.
Shortly after the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller in May, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told several of the highest-ranking managers of the bureau they should consider themselves possible witnesses in any investigation into whether President Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, according to two senior federal law enforcement officials.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Allegedly Lied Under Oath. Will the Justice Department Investigate?
A watchdog organization has asked the Justice Department to investigate Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for allegedly making repeated false statements to Congress about the conduct of OneWest Bank, where he served as CEO and later chair between 2009 and 2015. ”Mnuchin has repeatedly denied that his former bank engaged in robosigning foreclosure documents. The evidence is overwhelming that it did.
The Financial Times reported Thursday morning that Felix Sater, former business partner of President Donald Trump with deep ties to the Mafia and Russian government, is cooperating in an international investigation into an alleged money-laundering network. Sater has a history of channeling money from prominent families in the Eastern bloc into Trump properties. This could pose problems for Trump, given Sater’s history of outing former close associates in exchange for immunity.
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates.
Sources with links to the Justice Department confirm that U.S. intelligence has legal copies of all Donald Trump’s “tapes” of his meetings with Director Comey – and that Comey had his own phone legally hacked in order to record suspects, including Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr, for over a year.
Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, has boasted to friends and colleagues that he played a central role in the firing of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, according to four people familiar with the conversations.
Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland say they will sue President Trump on Monday, alleging that he has violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House.
“When he tells you to do something, guess what? There's no ambiguity in it, there's no, 'Hey, I'm hoping,'“ 39-year-0ld Mr Trump said. - “You and I are friends: 'Hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job.' That's what he told Comey. - “And for this guy [Comey] as a politician to then go back and write a memo: 'Oh, I felt threatened.' He felt so threatened — but he [President Trump] didn't do anything.”
Preet Bharara says there’s “absolutely evidence” to launch obstruction of justice case against President Trump.
Former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who led several high-profile corruption cases until President Donald Trump fired him in March, said there is “absolutely” enough evidence to launch an obstruction of justice case against President Trump for his firing of FBI chief James Comey. “No one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction," Bharara said. “[But] there's no basis to say there's no obstruction.”
The former US director of national intelligence James Clapper says events in Washington now are more serious than the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, and that it is imperative investigators get to the bottom of the Trump administration’s links with the Putin regime. Clapper used a speech to Australia’s National Press Club on Wednesday to launch a critique of the US president, Donald Trump, describing his decision to cultivate Russia and share intelligence with the Putin regime as “very problematic”. He described Trump’s firing of the FBI chief Jim Comey as “egregious and inexcusable”.
We have New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman to thank for the genesis of the sealed indictment against Donald Trump currently being held in the Eastern District of Virginia, which has formed the basis of the case of impeachment already begun against him. This is how that happened: AG Schneiderman began a case of Enterprise Corruption, the state name for RICO, against Donald Trump. The case was based on the activities of Russian mobsters like Semion Moglievich who lived in Trump Tower, Russian oligarchs, and others.
Trump Team and Russia jointly paid Pyotr Levashov to hack the US election. Human accounts pushing out fake memes authorized by Russia were paid, via the Kelhios botnet being operated from Trump HQ, using bitcoin and a spam payments system previously used for pornography;
Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence
President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials. Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. The conversation reinforces the notion that President Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives.
While the latest Comey allegations have forced reluctant Republican leaders to initiate some oversight of Trump, and at least two GOP lawmakers have raised the possibility of impeachment, most members are standing by their man. Here are the some of the arguments GOP members made to reporters as to why Trump’s pressure on Comey to let Flynn off the hook does not constitute an obstruction of justice.
Louise Mensch is among a number of bloggers offering a mix of true and inaccurate stories, forcing readers to discern for truth for themselves. And Mensch’s post was difficult to dismiss outright because she and her co-author, Claude Taylor, had earlier reported a pair of details from the investigations into Trump’s alleged links with Russia that were later confirmed by major mainstream news outlets.
In an interview with me this morning, Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, a persistent Trump critic, argued that this demand for loyalty, if it happened, could constitute an effort to obstruct justice, particularly when viewed in the light of the subsequent firing of Comey. “The demand for loyalty from the head of the organization investigating those around you, when you have the power to fire that person — if you wrote a novel about obstruction of justice, this would almost be too good to be true,” Tribe told me.
A Dutch TV documentary alleges that President Donald Trump has extensive connections to Russia’s ruling oligarchs and a history of illegal racketeering.“Donald Trump’s business partners have included Russian oligarchs and convicted mobsters, which could make the president guilty of criminal racketeering charges,” wrote Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet on Friday.
When it comes to political pundits who claim to have inside sources, I judge them by track record. Liberal pundit Claude Taylor’s sources have recently been proven right about Donald Trump grand juries. Conservative pundit Louise Mensch’s sources have long been proven right on Trump-Russia FISA warrants. So when the two of them say they each have different inside sources telling them the same thing, I listen. And what they’re jointly saying tonight is that a sealed indictment has been delivered against Donald Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. That is the investigation that Sessions promised to stay away from. Firing the man heading the investigation -- especially if Sessions knew that the reason was not the one stated in Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein's May 9 memo -- is a matter "arising from the campaigns for President of the United States." Sessions may have some explanation for why he chose to participate in the firing of Comey. But the attorney general may now be in considerable legal peril.
Donald Trump is either too clueless to understand that today’s firing of James Comey will do nothing to stop the advancement of the Russia investigation, or he’s too egomaniacal and petty to care that the firing won’t help his cause. Either way, this move won’t change anything – other than embolden those working to take him down.
To riff on the bard, a Muslim ban by any other name is still a political and legal problem for President Donald Trump. Trump, in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network almost immediately after signing the order, said that one of its purposes was to make it easier for Christians to enter the United States. "It seems to me the soft underbelly of the legal defense is this business about Christians, because not only is that subject to Equal Protection and Establishment Clause [questions] on its own, but it suggests that this is a Muslim ban,” said Michael Meltsner, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law.
In an agency-wide directive sent to DHS staff early Wednesday afternoon, the IG’s office wrote, “All agency personnel must preserve any document that contains information that is potentially relevant to OIG’s investigation, or that might reasonably lead to the discovery of relevant information relating to the implementation of this Executive Order. For the duration of this hold, any relevant information that is within your possession or control must be preserved in the exact form as it currently exists.”