House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recapped Wednesday’s tumultuous White House showdown with President Trump over Syria, saying she told him his troop pullout was a gift to Vladimir Putin, and questioned him about helping Saudi Arabia, before Trump had what she called “a meltdown.”
However, according to President Trump and others in the meeting, it was “Nervous Nancy” who had the “meltdown.” After Pelosi walked out on the meeting, the president took to Twitter, responding to the latest Democrat attacks questioning his mental health and saying that it was he who had the “meltdown.” Trump tweeted that either Pelosi has mental problems or she and other Democrats deliberately put their partisan interests above the interests of those of the country.
Pelosi reportedly stormed out of the meeting with top White House officials, citing disrespectful treatment by President Trump. Republican lawmakers who were at the meeting, however, have said Pelosi’s claims make no sense.
“Inside the meeting, what I listen to, the speaker referred to the President I thought was unbecoming. The only thing that happened in this meeting was the Democrat leadership got up and walked away. When there was a time of crisis, leaders should stay whether they like what is said or not and actually work to solve a problem.”
— Representative Kevin McCarthy ( R-Calif.)
Meanwhile, Democrats are increasingly focusing on the 2020 elections, while also continuing their push for presidential impeachment. Pelosi defended her party’s impeachment effort, saying it was about the rule of law, not electoral politics.
“I keep saying to people impeachment is about the truth and the Constitution of the United States. Any other issues that you have disapproving of the way the president has dealt with Syria, whatever the subject is, the reluctance and cowardice to do something about gun violence, the cruelty of not wanting to help our Dreamers and transgender people, the denial about the climate crisis we face, the list goes on,” she said. “That’s about the election. That has nothing to do with what is happening in terms of our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.”
Trump has slammed the impeachment process as a witch hunt and scam by the Democrats, because they know they can’t beat him at the ballot box.
As reported by the Associated Press and other news outlets, Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68 years old. Cummings was a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the powerful chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings often found himself at odds with President Trump. Cummings led investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.
Cummings died at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate. As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he was one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, and he has played a key role in the House Democrats’ ongoing efforts to impeach Trump.
Tributes poured in Thursday from lawmakers and others in politics on both sides of the aisle.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn the news this morning of my dear friend’s passing,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a fellow Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. “Elijah Cummings was a man of principle, patriotism, and conviction, whose loss will be deeply felt throughout the State of Maryland and our country.”
At the White House, the flag was lowered to half-staff. Despite Cummings and Trump often tossing unkind words at one another, the president had nothing but praise for the deceased congressman.
“My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings,” Trump tweeted. “I got to see first-hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
Cummings Had “Longstanding” Health Issues
Cummings’ office said in a brief statement that he died “due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” Cummings had been in ill health the past few years, navigating the Capitol in a motorized cart and using a walker.
“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity,” his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said Thursday.
Cummings did not return to work after an undisclosed medical procedure that he said would only keep him away for about a week. The New York Times reported that Cummings had heart surgery in 2017 and had a bacterial infection in his knee.
However, Cummings had not been seen the past few weeks at closed-door interviews, alongside House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel. Yet, every subpoena, document request or statement which was issued on impeachment of late was done in the name of all three committee chairs. New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney is next in seniority to take over the gavel of the committee.
The committee postponed a planned hearing Thursday.
Rudy Giuliani said that he was “disappointed” in former National Security Adviser John Bolton, after reports emerged that he had called Giuliani a “hand grenade” over his Ukraine investigations and that Bolton had told a top aide to alert a lawyer in the National Security Council over Giuliani’s apparent meddling in State affairs.
“I am disappointed in John,” Giuliani said in a statement to Fox News. “I’m not sure he realizes I received all this evidence as part of my representation of the president. It was all part of the evidence, and suppression of evidence, involving Ukrainian collusion and the origin of some of the false information against the president.”
The comments from the president’s personal attorney came after it emerged that Fiona Hill, a former senior director to Russian and Eurasian affairs, told lawmakers Monday that a meeting between Ukrainian and U.S. officials left her and Bolton so concerned that he told her to alert John Eisenberg, a lawyer at the NSC. According to the New York Times, Hill said Bolton told her to notify Eisenberg about the efforts by Giuliani, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton allegedly told Hill, according to the Times. Hill said Bolton had previously called Giuliani a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up.”
The dramatic testimony demonstrated how Giuliani and others’ efforts to investigate activity in Ukraine — particularly that of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter– has split the White House.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry last month, alleging that Trump withheld crucial US military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to force the Ukrainians into investigating his political opponent — specifically Biden’s role in the firing of a top prosecutor who had been investigating a Ukrainian gas company, where Hunter Biden sat on the board.
Trump has denied any quid pro quo, and claims instead that he was only looking to crackdown on corruption. He has instead attempted to direct attention to Hunter Biden’s activities in both Ukraine and China.
As the impeachment inquiry has heated up, it has also brought more scrutiny to Giuliani’s role in spearheading a separate investigation into Ukraine. The New York Times reported Friday that prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether the former New York City mayor broke lobbying laws in his own dealings with Ukraine. On Monday, Reuters first reported that Giuliani’s firm had been paid $500,000 in 2018 by one of the two Ukrainian-American businessmen arrested last week on campaign finance charges.
Trump gave his backing to Giuliani on Saturday, tweeting that he was a “great guy and wonderful lawyer.”
“So now they are after the legendary “crime buster” and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer,” he tweeted. “Such a one-sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”
As the White House reels, and the press swarms like angry bees around the Impeachment Inquiry of President Donald Trump, many have forgotten that the draft report on potential abuse by FISA by IG Horowitz remains in review, and now set to be released by “the end of this week.”
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo says the report by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to be published on Friday, October 18th, and she says her sources expect it to cover “more than just FISA abuse.”
Bartiromo tweeted this thing is “as thick as a phone book.”
As the Washington Examiner reports, “it has been exactly one month since Horowitz announced the completion of the investigation by his team, who pored over more than 1 million records and conducted 100-plus interviews. The inspector general gave a draft to the Justice Department and FBI for a classification review. Upon the completion of that process, the report will first be delivered to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who has pledged to do a “deep dive” of his own into FISA that will run concurrently with U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the early stages of the Russia investigation. The South Carolina Republican said his “No. 1 goal” is to have as much of the report declassified as possible.”
Last week, U.S. District Judge John Bates praised IG Horowitz for what he said was a thorough job, and what he expects to be a “fair and accurate” report.
“I expect a very thorough report — a very fair report from Michael Horowitz. He’s a good inspector general. He’s careful,” Bates said. Bates added later that he expects the report to be “pretty lengthy.”
Bates’ assessment of Horowitz bolsters the watchdog’s credibility at a time when he will find himself yet again at the center of a political firestorm when the FISA report is released to the public next week, if Bartiromo’s sources are accurate.
Horowitz Has Already Taken Fire
Bates’ compliments of Horowitz ahead of the report’s release come as the IG’s integrity has already been called into question, most notably by someone mentioned in his probe — disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired last year after a report from Horowitz found that he made unauthorized disclosures to the media and misled investigators. In a legal fight against the Justice Department over his ouster, McCabe’s lawyers slammed Horowitz’s report as being “deeply flawed.”
Horowitz has been talking with U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is handling any criminal referrals from the investigation. As to what exactly the report says, Bates could not guess. Despite the rumors of a coming bombshell that could hit Democrats hard, “I don’t have a prediction for whether he is going to find fault and mistakes or worse and at what levels. Because remember that the sign-offs on these applications in the Department of Justice and the FBI were pretty high levels,” he said.
Satunch Trump supporter, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., literally got the boot on Monday when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a Fiona Hill, former top National Security Council expert on Russia who was appearing on Capitol Hill as part of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.
Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, attempted to attend the testimony of Hill, but was told that because he was not a member of the House Intelligence Committee that he had to leave. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
A frustrated Gaetz aired his disappointment to reporters after being told he was not welcome to sit in on the hearing, venting his anger over what he says are “selective leaks” by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and questioning why he was not allowed to be present during Hill’s testimony. Gaetz added that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., was involved in the impeachment inquiry.
“It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?”
A visibly annoyed Gaetz followed his comments with a tweet calling the impeachment inquiry a kangaroo court and using one of Trump’s favorite nicknames for the intelligence committee chairman, “Shifty Schiff.”
“Judiciary Chairman [Jerry Nadler] claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz tweeted. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it. And yes – my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”
Republicans Rally Around Trump
Other Republicans closely aligned with Trump continued on Monday to complain about Schiff and his handling of the impeachment inquiry – with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also lambasting the California Democrat for excluding some congressional Republicans from the testimonies and for leaking “cherry-picked” information from the closed-door hearings to the press.
“She was going to come voluntarily but he’s going to subpoena her I believe so he can ask certain questions and again keep those secret except for the certain things that he wants to leak, the cherry-picked information to the American people,” Jordan said of Schiff before Hill appeared on Capitol Hill to testify. “The tragedy here and the crime here is that the American people don’t get to see what’s going on in these sessions,” Jordan said.
Hill’s testimony comes ahead of a planned Thursday appearance by Gordon Sondland, Trump’s hand-picked Ambassador to the European Union, and follows the revelation of a cache of text messages from top envoys, which have provided a vivid account of their work acting as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Ukraine’s new president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, to start investigations into a company linked to the family of a chief Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.
One witness who may not be called before Congress is the still anonymous government whistleblower who touched off the impeachment inquiry. Top Democrats say testimony and evidence coming in from other witnesses, and even the president himself, are backing up the whistleblower’s account of what transpired during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy.
Schiff said Sunday, “We don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.” He added it “may not be necessary” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity as the House gathers evidence.
“Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected,” Schiff said.
Despite the shocking news of a recent Fox News poll that found that now 51% of Americans are in favor of President Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, the majority of Republicans, still staunchly support the embattled president.
In reality, the Fox survey is not that different from other recent polls on the subject. But some media types like to say “even Fox” has found such-and-such, as if it’s a survey of the network’s viewers rather than its widely respected professional polling operation.
However, not surprisingly one of those who are displeased with the Fox poll, and their reporting of it, is Trump.
“From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll,” he tweeted. “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days.” He went on to name some of his least favorite network figures–Andrew Napolitano, Shep Smith, Donna Brazile–but added, “Oh well, I’m President!”
But there’s the thing when you drill down on the poll, it reflects the same old partisan chasm that has defined Trump’s presidency since Inauguration Day.
According to the poll, 85% of Democrats support impeachment and removal; independents are split, with 39% in favor, and 36% not in favor. Most importantly, only 13% of Republicans back impeaching and expelling Trump from office.
Now, it may be noteworthy that more than one in 10 Republicans want Trump gone. But if you’re a Republican senator, and the country is almost evenly split on impeachment, and the vast majority of your party opposes it, you’re not exactly under withering pressure to abandon your president.
Another point to note, overall in the Fox poll, the president’s approval drifted down only a couple of points, to 43 percent. And perhaps, most telling, upon closer examination the Fox poll contains a silver lining for the president after all. While 69 percent of those surveyed find Trump’s dealings with Ukraine’s leader extremely, very or somewhat troubling, 62 percent say the same about his allegations against Biden and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.
Fox News has recently reported that an alleged “Chinese spy” who was arrested for trespassing at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was tasked by her handler to target not only the President, but the Clintons.
According to court documents, Yujing Zhang, 33, had been urged by “her handler” to target the Clintons and billionaire businessman Warren Buffett. Zhang, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 22, was caught by Secret Service agents with troves of technology embedded with malware and thousands of dollars in cash after she claimed that she was at Trump’s prestigious club to attend a “United Nations friendship event” that had apparently been canceled. Her bizarre behavior and backstory led to suspicions that she was actually an operative for the Chinese government, but she was not charged with espionage or related crimes.
Zhang apparently purchased a $20,000 travel package from Li Weitian, also known as Charles Lee, who advertised tickets on the Chinese social media site WeChat promising access to events across the U.S. to meet prominent political and business figures.
Lee ran the United Nations Chinese Friendship Association, which is not affiliated with the U.N., and was photographed at least twice with Cindy Yang, a Republican donor and former Florida massage parlor owner who organized events at Mar-a-Lago.
Upon learning that the event at Mar-a-Lago had been canceled, Lee tried to convince Zhang to attend another event on Wall Street in New York City. Text messages between the pair released by the South Florida court that Bill and HIllary Clinton were scheduled to be at that event.
“Regarding the event at the Trump’s estate, it’s been put on hold for now. We can forget about it. We have two other activities now. I sent them to you already,” Lee texted Zhang on March 26, four days before she was arrested on the Trump property.
At the time of her arrest, Zhang told federal agents that she did not know that the event had been canceled, a claim contradicted by her messages.
According to court records, Lee had urged Zhang to go to “Clinton’s event, Clinton and his wife Hillary,” he said, offering her a ticket for $60,000. “There are politicians and the finance people that you talked about wanting to meet in this event. You can meet with these two famous people in one setting. Hillary was the former Secretary of State, equivalent to the Prime Minister. That is very extraordinary. Er… you can stand in between them and have a photo taken.” In the same message, Lee also says, “You can also go to Buffett’s event which is particularly for investment and finance,” referring to business mogul Warren Buffett.
In subsequent messages, Zhang asked Lee for her money back after hearing of the cancellation but ended up traveling from Shanghai to Florida anyway. Her motives for going to the property and lying to Secret Service agents at Mar-a-Lago remain unclear.
President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolf Giuliani, made good on his promise yesterday to provide evidence of Former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s shady dealings with Ukraine.
The fired prosecutor at the center of the Ukraine controversy said during a private interview with Rudy Giuliani earlier this year that he was told to back off an investigation involving a natural gas firm that was linked to Joe Biden’s son. The details of that interview were within a packet of documents – apparently amassed by Giuliani — that were handed over to Congress after an urgent request for a meeting by the State Department’s inspector general.
Fox News obtained a copy of Giuliani’s notes from his January 2019 interview with fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in which he claimed that his “investigations stopped out of fear of the United States.”
“Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves,” which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied that he was to “do nothing,” the notes from the interview stated. The notes also claimed Shokin was told Biden had held up U.S. aid to Ukraine over the investigation.
Shokin was fired in April 2016, and his case was “closed by the current Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko,” according to the notes. Despite his claims to the contrary, Shokin had been seen as very corrupt by the international community on both sides of the Atlantic.
But Biden’s role is back in the spotlight after Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry over Trump’s efforts to convince Ukraine to look into Biden’s actions.
It is known that Biden has famously boasted on camera that when he was Vice President and spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin who was the top prosecutor at the time.
Giuliani alleges that Shokin had been investigating the founder of Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden had a lucrative role on the board at the time, although other documents indicate that the investigation into Burisma was already frozen. If Biden had anything to do with that, it remains to be seen.
Dems Rally Around Former Veep
Biden’s supporters have maintained that his intervention prompting the firing of Shokin had nothing to do with his son, but rather was tied to the corruption concerns. The Biden campaign has also slammed Giuliani and blasted media outlets for giving him air time. The campaign wrote to NBC News, CBS News, Fox News, and CNN to voice “grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump.”
“The substance of President Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s claims have been roundly discredited,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said last week. “This is not a claim from the campaign or Joe Biden. This is an irrefutable fact.”
However, the notes of the interview found within the “Giuliani Files,” seem to dispute this account. At the time, according to the interview, Shokin was investigating Mykola Zlochevsky, the former minister of ecology and natural resources of Ukraine. Zlochevsky also happens to be the founder of Burisma.
Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of the firm, which Shokin claimed was an appointment made by Zlochevsky “in order to protect himself.”
While President Trump has been furious lately about possible “moles” in the White House, maybe he needs to be just as concerned about mice!
In one of the lighter stories coming out of Washington in the past few days, a mouse fell into the lap of an NBC reporter while he was in the White House on Tuesday, causing quite a bit of a stir for him and his colleagues.
“A mouse literally fell out of the ceiling in our White House press booth and landed on my lap,” NBC reporter Peter Alexander announced on Twitter.
The tiny rodent then appeared to run behind electrical cords and eventually caused a commotion in the White House briefing room. Images posted to social media stories from the briefing room, show reporters gathering around and searching for the mouse after it landed on Alexander.
“The most excitement in the White House briefing room in months. Reporters attempt to capture a baby mouse that fell on @PeterAlexander lap moments ago,” NBC reporter Shannon Pettypiece tweeted.
The mouse incident came after several months of the White House refusing to hold press briefings, citing the reporters’ own behavior at the events.
The mouse was not captured and could not be reached for comment.
Fox News is reporting that the inspector general (IG) of intelligence has revealed a significant discrepancy in the now infamous whistleblower complaint.
The IG released a statement late Monday indicating that the whistleblower, whose complaint touched off the current impeachment inquiry of President Trump, claimed to have “firsthand knowledge” of misconduct — a claim that appears to starkly conflict with documents sent to Congress, the director of national intelligence, and recently released to the public.
The lengthy statement, which was posted on Sept. 30, was in response to questions raised in the media and by congressional Republicans about the disclosure form filed by the whistleblower. The IG said the whistleblower stated on an initial form Aug. 12 “that he or she possessed both first-hand and other information.”
According to the IG, the whistleblower “checked two relevant boxes” on the form, one stating, “I have personal and/or direct knowledge of events or records involved”; and the other box stating, “other employees have told me about events or records involved.”
However, the declassified whistleblower complaint sent to Congress last week stated, “I was not a direct witness to most of the events described. However, I found my colleagues’ accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.”
Additionally, Inspector General Michael Atkinson’s letter sent on Aug. 26 to the director of national intelligence asserted that “the Complainant’s letter acknowledges that the Complainant was not a direct witness to the President’s telephone call….Other information obtained during the ICIG’s preliminary review, however, supports the Complainant’s allegation that, among other things, during the call the President ‘sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader.'”
While the declassified complaint left open the possibility of having some firsthand knowledge — by saying he or she was not a direct witness to “most” events — the latest ICIG statement suggests the apparent direct knowledge composed a key part of the initial filing. This would be at odds as well with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s testimony describing the claims as “hearsay.”
Fox has said that neither the IG, nor the Director of National Intelligence have responded to requests to comment on the apparent discrepancies.