PI firm claims Hunter Biden is subject of criminal probes, whistleblower was on ex-VP’s secret Ukraine flight

closeMedia plays defense for Joe Biden amid Ukraine scandalVideo

Media plays defense for Joe Biden amid Ukraine scandal

Reaction and analysis from Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt and Women for Trump national co-chair Gina Loudon.

A private investigation firm made a bizarre intervention in an Arkansas court case concerning custody of Hunter Biden's alleged love child Monday, claiming in an explosive filing that former vice president Joe Biden's son is dodging their discovery requests and is "the subject of more than one criminal investigation involving fraud, money laundering and a counterfeiting scheme."

On the same day that D&A Investigations filed its "Notice of Fraud and Counterfeiting and Production of Evidence", which was first reported by The Daily Mail and obtained by Fox News, Lunden Alexis Roberts authored her own motion seeking "primary physical and legal custody" of the child she said she had with Biden. Lunden also demanded attorneys' fees and a hearing concerning visitation rights.


The court in Independence County, Ark. quickly struck the D&A filing from the record, saying it violated state procedural rules for joining an ongoing case as an intervening party. Ordinarily, the rules require that intervening parties share a "question of law or fact in common" with the existing case.

Hunter Biden, in his own motion to strike the firm's claims, told the court that the allegations were false and scandalous, and a transparent attempt to garner media attention.

D&A told Fox News Tuesday to expect an additional filing soon — and hinted that more incriminating details concerning Hunter Biden's business dealings would soon come to light.


The firm, which worked with Casey Anthony's defense team, separately told Fox News that its investigators have found that the intelligence community whistleblower at the center of the Democrats' impeachment against President Trump accompanied Joe Biden when he traveled to Ukraine in March 2016 and pressured the country's government to fire its top prosecutor by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid.

"I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars," Biden boasted at a conference after leaving office. "I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in –, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a b–ch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time."

However, publicly available records show that Joe Biden did not officially travel to Ukraine in 2016.

Hunter Biden and Joe Biden pictured in April 2016. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

Hunter Biden and Joe Biden pictured in April 2016. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

In its filing, D&A investigations asserted that Hunter Biden and his business associates "established bank and financial accounts with Morgan Stanley et al" for the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings Limited for a "money laundering scheme," among other ventures.

One alleged scheme "accumulated $156,073,944.24," according to the document.

D&A claimed its filing was necessary because Biden was failing to answer "reasonable" and "basic" questions, and said it had been "actively investigating" Biden and his partners "since 8 August 2016."

Hunter Biden was a board member of Burisma, which had been under investigation before then-Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor. In his July 25 call with Ukraine's president that ultimately led to his impeachment, President Trump suggested the Ukrainians look into the circumstances of the prosecutor's termination, including Joe Biden's boast that he had the prosecutor fired.

"Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me," Trump said on the phone call. State Department officials flagged Hunter Biden's apparent conflict of interest at the time but were shrugged off by the vice president's office.

Joe Biden has denied knowing anything about his son's business dealings. Fox News has obtained a photograph showing the former vice president golfing with Hunter and a Burisma executive, and Hunter Biden has previously said he discussed his business dealings on one occasion with his father.


The 28-year-old Roberts, in her filing, said Hunter Biden has "had no involvement in the child's life since the child's birth, never interacted with the child, never parented the child," and "could not identify the child out of a photo lineup."

DNA tests have allegedly confirmed "with scientific certainty" that Hunter Biden is the biological father of Roberts' baby, according to court documents filed in November.

Joe Biden tangled with a Fox News reporter when asked about that development.

Joe Biden on son Hunter's paternity case: 'That's a private matter, I have no comment'Video

“I’m wondering if you have a comment on this report, and court filing, out of Arkansas that your son Hunter just made you a grandfather again,” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked.

“No, that’s a private matter and I have no comment,” Biden fired back before attacking the reporter.

“Only you would ask that,” Biden said. “You’re a good man. You’re a good man. Classy.”

Earlier this month, Hunter Biden's private life again spilled out into the public sphere when Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., brought up his admitted past substance abuse issues.

The Florida lawmaker referenced an article published this past July in The New Yorker, which included interviews with Hunter Biden and reported on a 2016 car accident the younger Biden was involved in. According to that story, employees at a rental car agency claimed they found a crack pipe inside the vehicle. It also quoted Hunter Biden describing his attempts to buy crack cocaine in a Los Angeles homeless encampment.


“I found this very extensive profile in The New Yorker,” Gaetz said before detailing some of the article’s more sordid details on Biden. “I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues, I know the president is working real hard to solve those throughout the country, but it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.”

Republican lawmakers have questioned why Hunter Biden was being paid upwards of $50,000 a month by Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, neither the former vice president nor his son has been formally accused of breaking the law.

Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report.

Original Article

Jeff Flake claims Senate Republicans, not just Trump, are on trial

closePresident Trump takes aim at House Speaker Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to the SenateVideo

President Trump takes aim at House Speaker Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to the Senate

Trump accuses Nancy Pelosi of 'playing games' with impeachment; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.

Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is warning his former colleagues in the Senate that they, along with President Trump, will be on trial when the articles of impeachment eventually move from the House to the upper chamber.

“President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong,” Flake writes in an op-ed for The Washington Post Friday.


Flake, who left the Senate this year after having staked out a vocally anti-Trump stance, wrote after the House voted for two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The articles are expected to soon go to the Senate for a trial, although there are indications House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may delay the articles being transmitted. In the Senate, Trump is almost certain of acquittal unless there is a sudden and dramatic shift of Republicans in favor of impeachment.

Flake urges Republicans to consider the evidence, but at the same time not to repeat House Republican assertions the president hasn’t done anything wrong: “He has.”

“The willingness of House Republicans to bend to the president’s will by attempting to shift blame with the promotion of bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories has been an appalling spectacle,” Flake argues. “It will have long-term ramifications for the country and the party, to say nothing of individual reputations.”


He asks what Republicans would have done if President Barack Obama had engaged in the same behavior, in regards to Ukraine.

Breaking down media coverage of impeachment voteVideo

“I know the answer to that question with certainty, and so do you. You would have understood with striking clarity the threat it posed, and you would have known exactly what to do,” he says.

While Flake says he does not envy Republican senators’ task, he urges them to avoid “an alternate reality that would have us believe in things that obviously are not true, in the service of executive behavior that we never would have encouraged and a theory of executive power that we have always found abhorrent.”

“If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now,” he writes. “And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it’s too late.”

There have been no public signs so far of any mass defection against Trump by GOP senators. Despite rumors that a number of Republicans in the House may break off, no GOP members in the lower chamber voted for impeachment — while a few Democrats voted against.


It isn’t the first time Flake has indicated he believes that a Senate conviction of Trump is in the realm of possibility. He claimed in September that close to three dozen Republican senators would back ousting the president if the vote was held in private.

"I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes. That's not true," Flake said on Slate's "What Next" podcast. "There would be at least 35."

Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump admin proposes further restrictions on asylum claims from criminal migrants

closeAppeals court sides with Trump administration on asylum ruleVideo

Appeals court sides with Trump administration on asylum rule

An appeals court has sided with President Trump on an asylum rule to limit claims from Central America.

The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed a rule that would expand the list of crimes, including some misdemeanors, for which a migrant can be barred from being granted asylum in the U.S.

"Because asylum is a discretionary benefit, aliens who are eligible for asylum are not automatically entitled to it," the rule says. "Rather, after demonstrating eligibility, aliens must further meet their burden of showing that the Attorney General or Secretary should exercise his or her discretion to grant asylum."

The proposed regulation, announced by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, would provide seven additional restrictions for asylum eligibility to those already in place.


The rule would then bar any migrants convicted of a felony under federal or state law, as well as offenses including alien smuggling, illegal re-entry or a crime involving criminal street gang activity.

The rule would also bar migrants from claiming asylum who had been convicted of offenses including driving under the influence (DUI) and domestic violence.

Most controversially, the rule would also apply to misdemeanors related to false identification, drug possession and welfare fraud — something likely to raise the ire of pro-migrant and other civil rights groups.


The rule would only apply to crimes that had been committed in the U.S., meaning it would mostly target those migrants already in the U.S. or who had been removed from the U.S. and then attempted to re-enter.

These restrictions would be in addition to existing barriers already in place — including for terrorist activity and for “particularly serious crimes.” The rule would also remove provisions that require the reconsideration of a discretionary decision to deny asylum by officials — a move that officials say would reduce costs and make the courts more efficient.

Inside newly converted ICE detention center in Louisiana where migrants await their fatesVideo

It marks the latest move by the administration to cut down on dangerous or fraudulent asylum seekers coming into the country. The administration has secured a series of regional agreements that involve migrants sent to other countries for asylum claims, including with Mexico and Guatemala.


Within the homeland, the administration has taken a tougher line on "sanctuary cities," or jurisdictions that do not comply with detainers filed by federal immigration officials requesting that criminal illegal immigrants be held by local authorities until federal officials can take them into custody and begin deportation proceedings.

The proposed rule will be up for publication consideration and the comment period ends on Jan. 21.

Original Article

Biden slams Warren, claims she’d rule by ‘executive order,’ refuse to work with GOP to unite country if elected

closeCould Biden take 2020 if he promised to only serve one term?Video

Could Biden take 2020 if he promised to only serve one term?

'The Daily Briefing' host Dana Perino reacts to the Biden campaign's bold strategy.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., would take the unorthodox approach of ruling “by executive order,” if elected president after she scoffed at the idea of working together with Republicans to unite the country on a slew of her progressive policy proposals.

Top-tier Democratic rivals have begun swiping at each other amid tightening polls ahead of February's presidential primary and caucus in New Hampshire and Iowa, respectively, when the 2020 election season — and the battle to take on President Trump next November — gets underway in earnest.


Biden, who trailed Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in a University of California at Berkeley poll released this week, made the remarks about Warren at a fundraiser in the San Francisco Bay Area — one of three such events he had scheduled for the day in one of the Democratic Party's stronghold regions. He took aim at Warren without mentioning her by name.

“I read a speech by one of my — good person — one of my opponents, saying that, you know, 'Biden says we’re going to have to work with Republicans to get stuff passed,’” Biden said in Palo Alto. “I thought, ‘Well, OK — how are you going to do it, by executive order?’”

“This particular person said, ‘He thinks he can actually unify the country. You can’t unify the country.’ Well, guys, if we can’t unify the country you all ought to go home now, because nothing’s going to happen except by executive order,” Biden continued.

“And last time I knew it, a president is not allowed to say, ‘This is how I’m changing the tax structure; this is how I’m changing the environment.’ … You need to actually get a consensus in the constitutional process,” Biden said. “And we can unify the country.”

"Last time I knew it, a president is not allowed to say, ‘This is how I’m changing the tax structure; this is how I’m changing the environment.’ … You need to actually get a consensus in the constitutional process.”

— Joe Biden

Biden seemed to react to a comment made earlier in the day in New Hampshire by Warren who — also without naming her targets – took aim at Biden before refocusing her remarks on an opponent they have in common, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“We know that one Democratic candidate walked into a room of wealthy donors this year to promise that ‘nothing would fundamentally change’ if he’s elected president,” Warren said of Biden during her address at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

Referring to Buttigieg, she continued: “Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I’m not betting my agenda on the naive hope that if Democrats adopt Republican critiques of progressive policies or make vague calls for unity, that somehow the wealthy and well-connected will stand down.”

Elizabeth Warren critiques rivals in New Hampshire policy speechVideo

Warren — who has eschewed fundraisers with top-dollar donors during her presidential bid as she instead focuses nearly entirely on small-dollar grassroots contributions — once again criticized Biden and Buttigieg for mingling with wealthy donors.

Though ranking third in California, Biden remains the narrow Democratic front-runner in national polls, according to the Mercury News of San Jose. Biden also is capitalizing on big-money donors in Silicon Valley after their home-state Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., dropped out of the primary race, according to a report in Politico this week.

On Thursday, Biden appeared at an event at the home of Sarah and Greg Sands, founder of the venture capital firm Costanoa Ventures. He then attended a fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and her husband, financier Richard Blum, before heading to a third event across the city hosted by attorney Joe Cotchett, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.


Biden took heat from Warren and Sanders in October for forming a super PAC to accept unlimited donations from billionaires and corporate elites to cure his fundraising woes. He had previously promised not to accept super PAC donations when he first announced his candidacy in April.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Biden raised $38 million from April through September. That figure means Biden falls in fifth place when it comes to fundraising dollars among Democratic presidential candidates. He has only raised about half as much as Sanders, who does not accept super PAC donations.

Biden’s campaign also has struggled with shortcomings in available cash on hand. The most recent federal fundraising report said he has just $8 million in cash on hand compared to Sanders’ $33 million, Warren’s $25 million and Buttigieg’s $23 million.

Democrats are also now contending with the seemingly limitless potential funding of campaign newcomer Michael Bloomberg, a multibillionaire who joined the race in late November — though the former New York City mayor has struggled in the polls.

Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and Tara Prindiville contributed to this report.

Original Article

Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims

closeSupreme Court to hear arguments in private insurers’ suit against US governmentVideo

Supreme Court to hear arguments in private insurers’ suit against US government

USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy fellow Christen Young weighs in.

Private health insurers are poised to prevail Tuesday at the Supreme Court over claims the federal government owes them billions of dollars from a now-defunct financial incentive program in the Affordable Care Act.

It is the fifth time the justices have heard legal challenges to the 2010 Affordable Care, but the current issue has little of the partisan rancor of previous disputes, such as individual mandates and contraception coverage.


At issue now is whether Congress appropriately limited funding to private companies after earlier promising them a financial stopgap against losses.

Health providers in six states say they are the victims of a federal "bait-and-switch," by agreeing to participate in an Obamacare program designed to expand coverage plans to uninsured and underinsured customers.

Those companies say they are owed $12 billion in subsidies from the pooled funds, to compensate for losses. But the Trump administration argues Congress properly made the choice to stop funding, and that the companies were never in a contractual relationship with the government.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the insurers went into the so-called "risk corridor" program with its eyes wide open.

"You make a case at some length about the reliance of the insurance companies, they were basically seduced into this program, but they have good lawyers," he said. "I would have thought at some point they would have sat down and said: well, why don't we insist upon an appropriations provision before we put ourselves on the hook for $12 billion?"


But Justice Elena Kagan was skeptical.

"Are you saying the insurers would have done the same thing without the promise to pay?" she asked, turning aside the government's argument. Insurance firms "pay in, that's obligatory. We [the government] commit ourselves to paying out. It turns out, if we feel like it. What kind of a statute is that?"

The original funding program was designed as a safeguard to lure private insurers into the health market exchanges, amid initial uncertainty over how many people would participate and how much it would cost. Those companies with customers with more expensive medical needs would be reimbursed, while companies with lower costs would pay into the pool.

But Congress in 2016 let the program expire amid concern over the program's rising deficits, and stopped further government payments.

At issue in the high court's subdued oral arguments was what further financial obligation the government had, and the limits of "must pay" reimbursement in the initial language of the law.

Justice Samuel Alito wondered whether courts should offer "special solicitude for insurance companies" to bring these kinds of cases.

Justice Stephen Breyer countered, "Why does the government not have to pay its contracts, just like anybody else?"

Justice Brett Kavanaugh worried about the broader implications.

"If we were to rule for you, everyone will be on notice going forward, private parties and Congress itself, that "shall pay" doesn't obligate actual payments," he said. "If we rule against you, Congress also will be on notice going forward that it needs to include 'subject to appropriations' kind of language in any mandatory statute. My question is, if we rule against you, are there other existing statutory problems lurking out there in the interim?"

The consolidated cases argued Monday are: Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. (18-1023); Moda Health Plan, Inc. v. U.S. (18-1028); Land of Lincoln Mutual Health v. U.S. (18-1038). A ruling is expected by spring 2020.

There are currently a range of legal challenges to other provisions of the ACA, including executive orders by the Trump administration seeking to eliminate or reduce sections of the law.

And the Supreme Court is likely to be confronted in coming months with another Obamacare case, one with far greater implications.

A federal judge in Texas late last year struck down the law’s individual mandate, and with it the entire ACA. A federal appeals court is now expected to issue a ruling shortly, and the justices could then put it on the docket and rule on the merits next year.


Texas and 19 other states had brought suit, saying when Congress eliminated the tax penalty for Americans who fail to purchase health insurance, the main funding mechanism of the law made the entire law invalid.

The Trump administration is no longer defending the law in court, leaving it to about 21 other states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to serve as main plaintiffs.

Original Article

Comey claims vindication after Horowitz FISA report: ‘So it was all lies’

closePresident Trump says findings from DOJ inspector general's report are far worse than imaginedVideo

President Trump says findings from DOJ inspector general's report are far worse than imagined

Trump speaks after Department of Justice watchdog releases report on Russia investigation.

Former FBI director James Comey seized on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) report findings Monday to claim vindication over the bureau’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe in 2016, saying criticism of the probe “was all lies” — even though the inspector general also faulted the FBI’s handling of surveillance warrants in the report.

DOJ inspector general Michael E. Horowitz’s report, released Monday, said investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding efforts to launch that 2016 probe.

“So it was all lies,” Comey tweeted, in an apparent reference to President Trump’s claims that the FBI wrongly investigated his ties to Russia. “No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trumps wires. It was just good people trying to protect America.”


Comey, in his tweet and in a Washington Post op-ed, appeared to downplay the “significant concerns” cited in the report over the bureau’s efforts to seek the highly controversial FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the investigation. The IG probe identified at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications and said a new audit into the FISA process would take place.

“Although it took two years, the truth is finally out,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

Others investigating the origins of the probe were less charitable.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” U.S. Attorney John Durham said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr ripped the FBI’s “intrusive” investigation after the release of Horowitz’s review, saying it was launched based on the “thinnest of suspicions.”


“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement.

The release came as Washington has been consumed with an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee was holding the inquiry’s latest hearing Monday, days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats were moving forward with plans to bring articles of impeachment against the president over his dealings with Ukraine. The president repeatedly has denied doing anything wrong.

Original Article

Doubts raised after Schiff claims phone records prove Giuliani’s White House budget office calls

closeDoes Adam Schiff's report show a case for impeachment?Video

Does Adam Schiff's report show a case for impeachment?

Gregg Jarrett, AshLee Strong and Kevin Walling debate on 'Fox & Friends' as the House Judiciary Committee begins the next phase of the Trump impeachment inquiry.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee claimed in their impeachment inquiry report this week that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the summer had contact with a phone number for the White House budget office where military aid to Ukraine was temporarily being withheld. However, Trump administration officials are disputing that finding, saying the phone number presented as evidence for the claim is not linked to that office.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., released the panel’s findings from the months-long impeachment inquiry into Trump on Tuesday before transmitting the report to the House Judiciary Committee for the next phase of the process.


In that report, Democrats provided call logs that appeared to show that on August 8, Giuliani “texted several times with a number associated with the White House.”

The report notes that the committee was unable to identify the specific White House official associated with the phone number, but said that, later, a number associated with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) called Giuliani for a phone discussion that lasted almost 13 minutes.

The report also states that Giuliani called “the OMB number” “several more times” that evening, but did not connect for more than “a few seconds.”

But “the OMB number,” according to the Wall Street Journal was not directly associated with the Office of Management and Budget, and Giuliani, instead, could have been having a call with another part of the White House. The New York Times also reported that “the OMB number” was actually a general White House switchboard number, which makes it difficult to determine who Giuliani was speaking with at the White House.

“No one from OMB has talked to Giuliani,” a White House spokesperson told RealClearPolitics this week, noting that the calls were not coming from their office.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Meanwhile, an aide on the House Intelligence Committee told The Wall Street Journal that they characterized the phone number as being “associated with OMB” based on “public directories.”


The section of the report referencing the Giuliani calls, however, is being used as evidence of his direct involvement and regular contact with the White House during the critical period over the summer when nearly $400 million in military assistance was being withheld from Ukraine—an arrangement Democrats have cited as a “quid pro quo.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call when he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.

Is Trump leveraging his own impeachment to get a trade deal over the finish line?Video

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement, and argue that military aid and an Oval Office meeting with Zelensky was being withheld until the public announcement of an investigation into the Bidens and issues related to the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday morning that Democrats will proceed with articles of impeachment against President Trump, claiming the president’s conduct left Democrats with “no choice but to act.”

Original Article

Sen. Kennedy claims former Ukraine leader ‘actively’ worked with Hillary Clinton in 2016

closeSen. Kennedy reacts to McGahn subpoena, clarifies Ukraine election meddling commentsVideo

Sen. Kennedy reacts to McGahn subpoena, clarifies Ukraine election meddling comments

Republican Sen. John Kennedy reacts on 'America's Newsroom' to White House counsel Don McGahn being subpoenaed to testify on Capitol Hill and clarifies his comments on the DNC server hacking in 2016.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on Sunday walked back an erroneous comment he made last weekend touting the debunked theory that Ukraine hacked the Democratic National Committee's emails in 2016, but then quickly followed that up with another unproven theory accusing former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of actively working for Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential run.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Kennedy admitted he was wrong when he told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” last week that Ukraine could have been responsible for meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.


“I walked it back because I was wrong,” Kennedy said, adding that he thought Wallace asked if Ukraine had meddled in the U.S. elections, not about discredited theories of Ukrainian hacking. “I went back and looked at the transcript and realized Chris was right and I was wrong.”

New report raises questions about timing of President Trump's decision to release US aid to UkraineVideo

Kennedy, however, went on to make another unfounded accusation when he accused Poroshenko of “actively” working with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her White House bid in 2016.

“Russia was very aggressive and they're much more sophisticated,” he said. “But the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.”


A flabbergasted NBC anchor Chuck Todd countered that the only other person pushing this narrative of Ukrainians working to get Clinton elected is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Witnesses shoot down claims of Ukraine meddling in 2016 electionVideo

“You've done exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do,” Todd said. “Are you at all concerned that you've been duped?”

Kennedy countered naming a number of news publications who have reported on the theory, including the Financial Times, the Washington Examiner and Politico. A 2017 Politico article has been widely referenced in supporting claims of a pro-Clinton bias from Poroshenko and the government in Kiev at the time.

“You should read the articles,” Kennedy said. “They're very well documented.”

Politico’s reporting since the 2017 article has stated that “no evidence has emerged” to support the claims that Ukrainian officials were working with the Clinton camp. In a statement to the Washington Examiner, the news website added that the previous reporting indicated that Ukraine worked with intermediaries at the DNC to spread dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump.

Original Article

Bloomberg claims US needs immigrants to ‘improve our culture’

closeBloomberg campaign chief says Trump is currently on the path to a 2020 victoryVideo

Bloomberg campaign chief says Trump is currently on the path to a 2020 victory

Fox News contributor and former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reacts on 'Hannity.'

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week that the U.S. needs "an awful lot more immigrants rather than less."

Bloomberg, who formally hopped on the 2020 campaign trail earlier this week, made the comment during a stop at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Ariz., adding immigrants are needed "to take all the different kinds of jobs that the country needs — improve our culture, our cuisine, our religion, our dialogue and certainly improve our economy."


Bloomberg entered the race relatively late and observers have speculated he was nervous about the other candidates' ability to beat Trump. Bloomberg's own campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, said on Monday that Trump was "winning" the 2020 election.

"It’s very tough for people who don’t live in New York or California to understand that, but that is what’s happening," Sheekey told CNN. "Mike was doing everything he could from the sidelines and he finally decided it wasn’t enough to sit on the sidelines and he needed to do what he could to alter that dynamic."

The billionaire Bloomberg is a perceived moderate who has run for office as a Republican and would be competing in a field of Democrats that have pushed sweeping progressive policies.

He also blasted Trump’s policies that resulted in the separation of families arriving at the border. “Ripping kids away from their parents is a disgrace,” he said.

Trump won after touting a hard-line immigration policy, including the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. His immigration policies have come under continuous fire from Democrats.

Bloomberg also reiterated his Nov. 17 apology for supporting New York’s "stop-and-frisk" police strategy, a practice that he embraced as mayor and continued to defend despite claims that it had a disproportionate impact on people of color.


He said it was a mistake but also credited it with reducing New York’s murder rate.

“How many times do you hear elected officials say, ‘I made a mistake’?” Bloomberg said. “None of us do everything perfectly. I’m sorry it happened, I can’t rewrite history. Let’s get on with it.”

Fox News' Nick Givas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Adam Schiff claims case against Trump is ‘ironclad’ but won’t say if he’ll be impeached

closePresident Trump wants Rep. Adam Schiff, Ukraine whistleblower to testify in Senate impeachment trialVideo

President Trump wants Rep. Adam Schiff, Ukraine whistleblower to testify in Senate impeachment trial

The whistleblower's attorneys say protecting their client's identity is critical to prevent a chilling effect on future whistleblowers; Kristin Fisher reports from the White House.

Despite claiming to have an "ironclad" case for impeachment against President Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., refused to say if the commander in chief will be impeached, when asked point-blank during a Sunday television interview.

"This president has now twice sought foreign interference in our election… when [Trump] invited the Russians to hack Hillary’s emails and later that day they attempted to do exactly that. There is a sense of urgency when you have a president who's threatening the integrity of our elections," he said on CNN's "State of the Union"

"We need to act now if we're going to act, and we can’t allow this obstruction to succeed," Schiff continued. "The other point I would make is, the case in terms of the Ukraine misconduct is ironclad, but so is the case of the president’s obstruction of the Congress."

Despite displaying supreme confidence in Trump's guilt, the California Democrat was unable to answer host Jake Tapper when asked if Trump would eventually be impeached, earlier in the interview.


"If the facts aren’t contested and your committee is writing up the report and you don't, at least as of now, have any scheduled witnesses or depositions — do you think President Trump should be impeached?" Tapper asked.

More form Media

Schiff said he still had to confer with his congressional colleagues and home state constitutes before rendering a final verdict.


"I want to discuss this with my constituents and my colleagues before I make a final judgment on it," he replied. "But there are a couple of really important things we need to think about.

"And one is, are we prepared to say that soliciting foreign interference, conditioning official acts like $400 million of taxpayer money, White House meetings to get political favors is somehow now compatible with the office? Because if we do, it's basically carte blanche for this president and anyone who comes after him. But are we also prepared to say that Congress will tolerate the complete stonewalling of an impeachment inquiry or our oversight? Because if we do, it'll mean that the impeachment clause is a complete nullity and… our oversight ability, is really an ability in name only."

Original Article

Anonymous book ‘A Warning’ claims Trump bashed migrants, didn’t care about Ukraine ‘corruption’

closeHannity: Impeachment inquiry an embarrassing spectacle for entire countryVideo

Hannity: Impeachment inquiry an embarrassing spectacle for entire country

Public hearings fail to increase support for impeachment.

A scathing tell-all about President Trump entitled "A Warning" — written by an anonymous administration official — hit bookstores on Tuesday and alleges that Trump has repeatedly made derisive remarks about migrants, mimicking their accents and calling them "useless," according to excerpts of the book.

The book's author, who also penned a now-infamous op-ed in the New York Times in 2018 claiming that he or she was "part of the resistance" to undermine Trump– wrote in the book of an instance where Trump mocked the flood of migrants coming across the border.

""We get these women coming in with like seven children," Trump told his listeners, briefly attempting a Hispanic accent. "They are saying, 'Oh, please help! My husband left me!' They are useless. They don't do anything for our country. At least if they came in with a husband we could put him in the fields to pick corn or something," an excerpt from the book read.


The anonymous writer also enumerated several other instances where Trump took fiery and flippant stances on major public or policy issues and called the president's outward stance on combatting corruption in Ukraine as "barely believable to anyone around him."

"The obvious corruption was in the Oval Office. The president had apparently learned nothing from the Mueller saga. Only we did. We learned that, given enouhg time and space, Donald J. Trump will seek to abuse any power he is given," the book reads.

The White House slammed the book ahead of its release and attempted to undermine the author's credibility because of their decision to remain anonymous.

“The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Nov. 7. "Real authors reach out to their subjects to get things fact checked – but this person is in hiding, making that very basic part of being a real writer impossible. Reporters who choose to write about this farce should have the journalistic integrity to cover the book as what it is – a work of fiction."

Nikki Haley discusses future political aspirations, urges 'Anonymous' author to come forwardVideo

Still, the author's book includes a number of colorful anecdotes and details about their tenure working at the White House, painting a picture of Trump as "uncomfortable" to be around.

"He stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information, not occasionally but with regularity," the book said.

In one instance, the author alleges that Trump asked his legal team to draft a bill to send to Congress that would reduce the number of federal judges across the country, a request that was ultimately ignored by staff members.

""Can we just get rid of the judges,? Let's get rid of the f—–g" judges," Trump fumed one morning. "There's shouldn't be any at all,"" the author wrote.

The book also talks about Trump's alleged derogatory demeanor towards women, asserting that he "comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and round his orbit. He uses words like "sweetie" and "honey to address accomplished professionals."

The author also declares that less than halfway through Trump’s term “top advisers and Cabinet-level officials contemplated what might be called a midnight self-massacre, resigning en masse to call attention to Trump’s misconduct and erratic leadership,” but the plan was scrapped, adding that a lot of staffers had "draft resignation letters in our desks or on our laptops."

“The idea was abandoned out of fear that it would make a bad situation worse. It got worse anyway,” the anonymous author wrote.

"I cannot overstate the consequences of reelecting Donald Trump," the author warned. "The Trump administration is an unmitigated catastrophe, and the responsibility rests entirely at his feet…I believe firmly that whatever benefits we may have gained from individual Trump policies are vastly outweighed by the incalculable damage he has done to the fabric of our republic. I cannot yet say who will turn the ship, but four more years of Trump could very well sink it."


Fox News' Kristin Fisher contributed to this report.

Original Article

Ex-Obama aides clash with Grisham over claims Trump team was left taunting messages

closeStephanie Grisham joins 'Justice with Judge Jeanine'Video

Stephanie Grisham joins 'Justice with Judge Jeanine'

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wraps up the first week of public impeachment inquiry hearings.

Former White House aides are pushing back after White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed members of the Obama administration left disparaging notes for their replacements.

“We came into the White House. I’ll tell you something, every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail,’ ‘you aren’t going to make it,’” Grisham told conservative radio show host John Fredericks in an interview Tuesday.

High-profile officials including former National Security Adviser Susan Rice denied the claim. “This is another bald faced lie,” Rice tweeted. She also defended herself, retweeting a claim that she left a supportive note for her successor, Michael Flynn.


Grisham took over as press secretary after her predecessor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, resigned earlier this year. After President Trump entered the White House in 2017, Grisham served as deputy press secretary and worked as a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump.

Cody Keenan, a speechwriter for former President Obama, tweeted that he left behind an iPhone charger, but that “nobody left unimaginative notes written at a sixth-grade level.”

He also wrote, “I mean, if they read the ‘how to do your job’ memos and briefing books we actually left, they’d at least know how to write a coherent speech, vet their appointees, and maybe fewer of them would be indicted or heading to jail.”


Another Obama speechwriter, Jon Favreau, and Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also pushed back against Grisham’s claim.

Grisham's East Wing predecessor, Joanna Rosholm, tweeted the note she left: “Welcome to the small family of White House staffers, past and present.”

She responded to Obama aides by saying: “I’m not sure where their offices were, and certainly wasn’t implying every office had the issue.”


Grisham clarified that she was referring specifically to her experience in the lower press office. “At the time, we saw it as kind of a prank and something that always happened. We were so busy trying to learn where the bathrooms were and how to turn on the lights, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

As Grisham noted, pranks in the White House would be nothing new. The General Accounting Office previously reported that the White House saw “damage, theft, vandalism and pranks” between the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The agency noted some of the damage was intentional and costs reached upwards of $14,000. That included nearly $5,000 for computer keyboards, with some that had damaged or missing “W” keys.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Yovanovitch testifies of being ‘kneecapped’ as ambassador, as Trump claims everywhere she worked ‘turned bad’

closeWATCH: Trump impeachment inquiry hearingsVideo

WATCH: Trump impeachment inquiry hearings

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, pointed her finger at Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani while detailing her sudden removal from her diplomatic post during Friday's nationally-televised impeachment testimony, as President Trump fired back at the diplomat and said every place she worked "turned bad."

During her appearance, Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, relayed her story of being suddenly recalled by Trump in May, saying she believes Giuliani played a key role in telling people she was not sufficiently supportive of the president.

“I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” Yovanovitch said.

She argued the efforts against her by the president's allies hindered her work.

“If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States,” Yovanovitch said.

After the hearing started, Trump began attacking her, tweeting, "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad." He added, "It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors."

At the same time the hearing began Friday, the White House released a new transcript of the president’s first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which showed Trump agreeing to meet with Ukraine’s president-elect — without preconditions — in the first official phone call between the two leaders.

Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., read the entire letter in his opening statement. A separate call between the two leaders ignited the impeachment inquiry, and Republicans suggested the new transcript is helpful to the president's argument he did nothing wrong in his conversations with Zelensky.


Amb. Marie Yovanovitch set to testify in public impeachment hearingVideo

Yovanovitch's removal is one of several events at the center of the impeachment effort.

"These events should concern everyone in this room," Yovanovitch said in her opening remarks. "Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want."

Democrats have worked to connect the circumstances of Yovanovitch’s ouster to Trump’s alleged pressure campaign to enlist Zelensky in the effort to damage 2020 rival Joe Biden.

“Some have argued, that a president has the ability to nominate or remove any ambassador he wants, that they serve at the pleasure of the president. And that is true,” Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said. “The question before us is not whether Donald Trump could recall an American ambassador with a stellar reputation for fighting corruption in Ukraine, but why would he want to?”

Republicans portrayed the hearing as a waste of time.

“It’s unfortunate that today, and for most of next week, we will continue engaging in the Democrats’ day-long TV spectacles instead of solving the problems we were all sent to Washington to address,” Nunes said.


In particular, Yovanovitch and others have described Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, as leading what one called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

Giuliani and others had claimed Yovanovitch was not supportive of the president and that she had criticized him to others. Trump, in a conversation with Zelensky, referred to her as “bad news.”

Asked on Friday what she thought of those comments from Trump, she said, “I couldn’t believe it. Shocked appalled. Devastated.”

Schiff claimed Friday she was "too tough on corruption for some, and her principled stance made her enemies” and it became clear Trump “wanted her gone."

Lawmakers, as they have in previous meetings, on Friday clashed with each other over procedure. Before the testimony began Friday, Schiff shut down New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik after Stefanik asked if he would “continue to prohibit witnesses from answering Republican questions.” Schiff said it wasn’t a “proper” point of order, and then declined to recognize Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan who also tried to raise a parliamentary question.

Americans are deeply entrenched in two camps over impeachment, resulting in a mounting political battle that will further test the nation in one of the most polarizing eras of modern times.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday brushed aside the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” that Democrats have been using to describe Trump’s actions with a more colloquial one: Bribery.

Trump continued to assail the proceedings as “a hoax” on Thursday, and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed the witness testimony as hearsay, at best second-hand information.

At its core, the impeachment inquiry concerns Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky that first came to attention when an anonymous government whistleblower filed a complaint.

Ken Starr: Democrats are using impeachment as a political weapon of destructionVideo

In the phone conversation, Trump asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later, it was revealed that the administration was also withholding military aid from Ukraine.

The president flatly denied the latest revelations. During Wednesday’s hearing, William Taylor, the top diplomat who replaced Yovanovitch in Ukraine testified that another State Department witness overheard Trump asking about “the investigations” the day after his phone call with Kiev.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that a second U.S. Embassy official also overheard Trump’s conversation.

During the first day of testimony, Taylor and another seasoned foreign service officer, George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state, delivered somber accounts about recent months.

Fox News’ Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

GOP reps to zero in on Ukraine meddling claims, after diplomats stumped at hearing

closeRep. Nunes: Elements of the civil service have decided that they, not the president, are really in chargeVideo

Rep. Nunes: Elements of the civil service have decided that they, not the president, are really in charge

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Republican Devin Nunes makes his opening statement during the first public impeachment hearing.

House Republicans plan to sharpen their focus on allegations of Ukraine meddling in the 2016 presidential election during the open phase of impeachment inquiry hearings, voicing frustration after top diplomats said Wednesday they had no knowledge of the issue.

A senior Republican official told Fox News on Thursday that the issue of Ukrainian election meddling would be a “theme” of questions asked by GOP members on the House Intelligence Committee moving forward.


During the first public hearing on Wednesday, Republican members ventured into that territory when they asked State Department official George Kent and acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor questions about Alexandra Chalupa—a former Democratic National Committee consultant who allegedly had meetings during the 2016 campaign with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington to discuss incriminating information about Trump campaign figures.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., asked Taylor a series of questions related to Ukraine and Chalupa, reminding the diplomat that in his closed-door deposition, he testified he was unfamiliar with Chalupa’s actions at the Ukrainian embassy.

“It is correct that I had not known about this before,” Taylor said. He also confirmed that he was disappointed by the allegations when they were presented to him at the deposition.

Kent, meanwhile, testified that he saw no factual basis to support allegations of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election.

“Democrats have all these people and officials they are parading as witnesses, who are so concerned about Trump and his people making inquiries about this, but they all say they had no idea of these reports, and deny any type of Ukrainian election meddling,” a GOP source said. “We will continue to press this thing forward.”

Fox News, over the weekend, first reported on the Republicans’ proposed witness list for the upcoming public impeachment hearings, which included Chalupa.

“Given President Trump’s documented belief that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 election to oppose his candidacy, which forms the basis for a reasonable desire for Ukraine to investigate the circumstances surrounding the election and any potential Ukrainian involvement, Ms. Chalupa is a prime fact witness who can assist Congress and the American public in better understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election,” Nunes wrote over the weekend when proposing Chalupa as a witness.

Chalupa was first brought into the conversation in January 2017, after Politico published a report exposing her as a DNC operative, who once worked in the Clinton White House and during the 2016 campaign met with officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in an effort to expose ties between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russia.

In 2017, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, penned a letter to former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, citing that same Politico report and questioning Chalupa’s alleged actions, which he said seemed to show that she “was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S. voting population but U.S. government officials.”


Grassley also questioned why Chalupa was not forced to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)–a move her attorney, at the time, told Fox News was "inapplicable" to her actions.

Chalupa's attorney Conrad Nowak, in 2017, told Fox News that “Chalupa was nothing more than an individual involved in ethnic relations, not unlike countless other ethnic and heritage communities throughout the United States.” Nowak also said, at the time, that "if there was anything to this Ukraine red herring, we would’ve heard about it a long time ago.”

At the time, the DNC told Fox News that the Ukraine narrative was simply an effort to "distract" from the Russia probe looming over the Trump White House.

But Republicans are homing in on Chalupa, referring back to the Politico report and past GOP efforts to investigate allegations.

“The Democrats will have a hard time continuing to dismiss the Chalupa affair as a conspiracy theory, seeing as Chalupa admitted to it and Ukrainian officials confirm it,” a senior GOP source involved in the impeachment hearings told Fox News. “It’s a problem for them because it shows Ukrainians were cooperating with the Democrats in election meddling, and therefore Trump was justified in making inquiries about it.”

But Democrats are pushing back at Republicans’ strategy and their claims.

“First, there’s not a shred of evidence of Ukrainian election meddling,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News. “Second, even if Donald Trump irrationally believed that, Tom Bossert, his former senior homeland security official, has said he told Trump that this belief was nonsense.”

It is highly unlikely Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Democrats on the panel will approve Republicans’ request to have Chalupa appear as a witness. Schiff and Democrats, as per a newly passed resolution governing the impeachment inquiry, have the final stamp of approval as to who can testify as part of the formal inquiry.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House.

On the call, Trump pressed Zelensky to open an investigation into Ukrainian election meddling in the 2016 presidential race (related to an allegation separate from the Chalupa meeting) and into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have cited as a quid pro quo arrangement.

Zelensky, though, has said he felt no pressure during the call. The White House has maintained no wrongdoing, and the president has repeatedly said the call was “perfect,” arguing that it contained “no quid pro quo.” The plot thickened when Taylor testified Wednesday that a staffer overheard a phone call where Trump discussed such "investigations," the day after his controversial phone call.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that a second U.S. Embassy staffer in Ukraine also overheard the call.

A Republican source told Fox News that GOP members of the Intelligence Committee will likely question subsequent witnesses on the Ukraine meddling topic. Up next, on Friday, is former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich.

Original Article

Rep. Jordan chides diplomat on quid pro quo claims: ‘Your clear understanding was obviously wrong’

closeRep. Jim Jordan questions Amb. William Taylor during impeachment hearingVideo

Rep. Jim Jordan questions Amb. William Taylor during impeachment hearing

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, presses Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor over how he formed his 'clear understanding' of linkage between U.S. aid to Ukraine and an investigation of the Bidens.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan led some of the toughest questioning during Wednesday's impeachment hearing, challenging Ukraine ambassador William Taylor over his claims that he understood President Trump to be holding up aid and more as he sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce a Biden-related probe.

Taylor has said he had a "clear" understanding that the release of aid to Ukraine was linked to a request for investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that counted the younger Biden as a board member. Jordan brought up three meetings that Taylor had with Zelensky between the time the aid was delayed and eventually released, and Taylor confirmed that "there was not discussion of linkage" during any of them.


"Now, with all due respect, Ambassador, your clear understanding was obviously wrong," Jordan said, noting that Zelensky also never made any announcement of an investigation prior to Trump releasing the aid on Sept. 11, 2019.

Taylor then gave a further explanation of what his "clear understanding" was based on.

"As I testified, Mr. Jordan, this came from Ambassador [Gordon] Sondland,” Taylor said, recalling that Sondland told him that he said to Zelensky, "that while this was not a quid pro quo, if Mr. Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate.”

Taylor also referred to how Sondland "told me that it was a mistake to have told the Ukrainians that only the meeting with the president in the Oval Office was held up in order to get these investigations. No, it was not just the meeting, it was also the security assistance."

Jordan, who was only recently added to the House Intelligence Committee that is holding the hearing, pointed to an addendum to Sondland's closed-door testimony, in which he discussed how Taylor recalled that he mentioned a linkage between the investigation and the release of aid to Ukraine.

"Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky," Jordan read out loud from Sondland's statement.

“We got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding,” Jordan said. "And you're their star witness."

Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany seized on the moment, using it to argue against Taylor's understanding of social media.


Sondland responded "that I don’t consider myself a star witness or anything," and that "my understanding is only coming from people that I talked to."

He explained that the confusing nature of Sondland's clarification was "because he said he didn't remember this," but Taylor believes that Sondland's recollection is similar to his own.

"The way I read this, he remembers it the same way I do," Taylor said.

Original Article

Impeachment hearing: Taylor claims staffer overheard Trump asking about ‘investigations’

closeTrump impeachment inquiry hearingsVideo

Trump impeachment inquiry hearings

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified on Wednesday that a staff member recently told him that they overheard a phone conversation between President Trump and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in which the president asked about “the investigations.”

Taylor, who was appearing in the first public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry, said some of his staff were at a restaurant in Ukraine with Sondland when he made a phone call to Trump. The staffer told Taylor they could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations,” he said.

Sondland purportedly replied that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor said. The phone call took place the day after Trump had his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that sparked a whistleblower complaint. The new claim from Taylor would connect Trump more closely to the pursuit of investigations from Ukraine; Taylor clarified that he understood "investigations" to refer to the Biden family.

Republicans, however, noted that Taylor was still not providing first-hand information to the committee.


“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine,” Taylor said in his opening statement. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which [Trump’s personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for.”

Taylor’s comment was immediately picked up by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., following the ambassador’s statement.

"I think you said that after the call when your staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought of Ukraine, his response was that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, is that right?" Schiff asked.

George Kent: US, Ukrainian national interests undermined by attacks from AmericansVideo

"And Burisma, yes, sir," Taylor responded, in reference to the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings — where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was on the board.

"And I take it the import of that is he cares more about that than he does about Ukraine? Schiff then asked.

"Yes, sir," Taylor said.

Taylor has already testified behind closed doors to congressional investigators that the president pushed Ukraine to investigate election interference, Joe and Hunter Biden, and their Ukraine dealings. The ambassador said that at the time of his closed-door testimony, he was not aware of the information regarding the phone call.


Republicans have been critical of Taylor’s testimony, arguing that the acting ambassador does not have first-hand knowledge of the events in question, pointing out that he was not on the call between Trump and Zelensky that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

“Neither of [Schiff 's] witnesses testifying today listened to the original Ukraine call,” Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., tweeted. “Both admitted ZERO firsthand knowledge of a ‘quid-pro-quo.’ They have as much inside knowledge about Ukraine call as you and me, since we can all read the transcript.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent also appeared Wednesday. Kent testified behind closed doors last month and told the committees he had concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma Holdings in 2015 but was rebuffed by the former vice president’s staff, which said the office was preoccupied with Beau Biden’s cancer battle.

At the heart of the impeachment inquiry is Trump's attempt to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens' dealings in the country, and whether that was linked to military aid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump claims impeachment making him ‘stronger,’ rails against whistleblower

closeWhistleblower attorney under new scrutiny for anti-Trump textsVideo

Whistleblower attorney under new scrutiny for anti-Trump texts

Attorney warned a 'coup has started'; reaction from House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes.

President Trump, ahead of the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, maintained Friday that the all-consuming political storm is actually making him “stronger” by energizing the base—claiming the parade of witnesses to date has not hurt him while turning up his attacks on the whistleblower who triggered the probe.

"The whistleblower is a disgrace to our country," Trump told reporters outside the White House, before leaving for a political event in Georgia. He went on to declare the whistleblower's lawyer "should be sued, and maybe for treason."


The comments reflect a White House defiant over the escalating impeachment inquiry, which moves into a public phase next week with two hearings scheduled in the House.

His fiery criticism of the anonymous whistleblower, whose identity Trump said should be revealed, comes despite the whistleblower's legal team sending a cease-and-desist letter to the White House demanding Trump stop the attacks — and warning about the possibility the whistleblower could be "physically harmed," according to The Hill.

But Trump asserted Friday that the entire investigation is backfiring for Democrats.


“What they’re trying to do is weaken me, but it’s actually made me stronger,” Trump said.

“People are angry about it … and it’s made Republicans and people that vote for me, not just Republicans, really angry … because it's a hoax,” he said.

The rhetoric shows Trump deploying the same playbook he used during the Robert Mueller investigation into alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

The impeachment inquiry was opened in September after a whistleblower complaint about the now-infamous July 25 phone call between the president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower alleged that Trump, during the call, pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden—as military aid to the country was being withheld.

The since-released transcript of that call showed Trump urging Zelensky to launch such investigations. But the White House maintains there was no "quid pro quo" tied to military aid, though some witnesses in impeachment proceedings have argued they understood such a quid pro quo was at play.

State Department official George Kent told investigators that his understanding was Trump wanted to hear about the investigations from Zelensky in order to unlock U.S. military aid.

Trump on Friday maintained the testimony to date has not hurt him. "No one seems to have any first-hand knowledge" he said. "Every one of those people canceled themselves out."

Further, he said he's considering releasing the transcript of a separate April call he had with Zelensky. He said if House investigators want to see a summary of the April 21 call, he's "happy to give it to them."

Trump's comments about the whistleblower lawyer, meanwhile, were likely aimed at attorney Mark Zaid.

The president has been blasting Zaid after a Fox News article highlighted a stream of 2017 tweets in which Zaid predicted a "coup" against Trump and promised to “get rid of him.”

Zaid sent Fox News a formal statement Thursday in which he said the social media posts were written with the belief that Trump would likely be “stepping over the line” at some point during his presidency.

“Those tweets were reflective and repeated the sentiments of millions of people,” Zaid said. “I was referring to a completely lawful process of what President Trump would likely face as a result of stepping over the line, and that particularly whatever would happen would come about as a result of lawyers. The coup comment referred to those working inside the Administration who were already, just a week into office, standing up to him to enforce recognized rules of law.“

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump campaign manager claims Dems are ‘freaked out’ over campaign’s digital dominance

closeTeam Trump aims to dominate digital campaignVideo

Team Trump aims to dominate digital campaign

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale believes the campaign and the Republican National Committee have built the most digitally sophisticated operation in history; Kristin Fisher reports from Monroe, Louisiana.

The valuable voter data amassed by presidential campaigns is typically kept secret, but President Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is bucking the trend by tweeting out key data points collected after every rally.

“I don't think hiding gets you anywhere,” Parscale said during a recent interview with Fox News at Trump’s campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va. “You don't see the best NBA teams sitting there going, ‘I'm not going to tell you what our offense is.’ They don't care. They're just going to come beat you.”

Even Democrats concede that the Trump campaign is beating them in the digital advertising wars. Former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, calls it a “DEFCON 1 situation.” Plouffe is now leading a $75 million dollar effort to counter the Trump campaign’s dominance online, but Parscale isn’t worried.


“I think Democrats are freaked out,” Parscale said. “I think we're further ahead than anything that has ever existed.”

The Trump campaign has already spent more than $26 million in ads on Facebook and Google – more than the top four 2020 Democratic contenders combined. According to Parscale, the campaign has also already eclipsed the formidable voter database assembled by the Obama campaign for his reelection in 2012.

“The difference between his (Obama’s) first election and his reelection – he grew his list by about 55 percent,” Parscale said. “We're going to grow ours by about 300 percent, maybe 400 percent. We're already at 150 percent growth with our list size. In 2016, we were hoping to make 80 to 100 million voter contacts. In 2020, we want to make over 200 million voter contacts.”

The campaign grows its list primarily from data collected at Trump rallies across the country. In order to attend, people are required to give the campaign their phone number and email address, which the campaign crosschecks with the Republican National Committee’s massive database. Then, using artificial intelligence, the campaign can build models to find what it calls “lookalikes” – people who may be persuaded to vote for the president.

President Trump attacks whistleblower's attorney over tweetsVideo

“I do think that the Republican Party with the Trump campaign, right now, is the most digitally sophisticated operation in history,” Parscale said.

The more rallies the campaign holds, the more data it collects. Parscale said he’d like to hold two or three rallies a day as it gets closer to Election Day, “if the Secret Service would let us.” Soon, the campaign hopes to collect even more sensitive data by letting rally-goers check-in with their cell phones.

“We can use it as a data mining opportunity,” Parscale said. “Turn every single one of our rally goers into a volunteer on-site for the rally. They can get out there and actually collect data. ‘Hey, who were your ten friends? Who were your hundred friends? Tell us what your friends like about Trump. Give us their phone numbers. That will give us an even greater opportunity to expand the spider web of data.”

Another way the Trump campaign is adding to its voter database is through the sale of merchandise on the campaign’s website. Every purchase is another email address added to the list – and Parscale says they’ve sold almost a million dollars in Trump-branded straws alone.

Parscale said the idea for selling straws came to him and his wife while they were sitting on an airplane: “My straw broke and I was like, ‘This is why I hate frickin’ liberal policies.’ But the idea for the ‘Where’s Hunter’ shirts was all President Trump.”


Part of the campaign’s digital dominance stems from the speed in which it can tweak micro-targeted ads – some last for only two or three seconds – and turn out new products.

“We can get it concepted, produced, out the door, sold, advertised, and marketed all under two hours,” Parscale said.

The campaign employs similar speed after every rally. Parscale is pouring over all the data collected from rally-goers within hours of Trump walking off the stage. After Monday rally in Kentucky, Parscale was struck by one data point in particular: 28 percent of the rally-goers had only voted in one of the last four elections. He tweeted it instantly.

“I don’t think it’s any secret what we’re doing,” the campaign manager said. “I think it’s very important for the public to understand, and Trump supporters to understand, that we’re building something that’s going to change, not only the 2020 election to benefit the president, but change the future of the Republican Party.”

Original Article

Warren under fire on ‘Medicare-for-all’ as she now claims billionaires alone can fund it

closeLiberals call out Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Medicare-for-all planVideo

Liberals call out Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Medicare-for-all plan

Even Democrats are taking notice of the estimated price tag. Dr. Vin Gupta weighs in.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is facing deepening skepticism, including from some in her own party, over her "Medicare-for-all" plan — as she not only claims the middle class won’t be hit with a tax hike but even suggests billionaires alone can fund it.

As Fox News first reported, Warren on Friday outlined a plan costing $52 trillion over the next decade, including $20 trillion in new spending — covered largely by an array of taxes on corporations, the wealthy and employers in general. While insisting the middle class would be spared, Warren, D-Mass., went a step further in Dubuque, Iowa, over the weekend when pressed by reporters.


“It doesn’t raise taxes on anybody but billionaires,” Warren said. “And you know what, the billionaires can afford it, and I don’t call them middle class.”

When pressed again whether anyone with under $1 billion net worth would feel a tax hike, she said: “That’s right—not paying a penny more.”

“Understand this. This is no increase in taxes for anyone except billionaires,” she said. “Period. Done.”

The Joe Biden campaign fired back that Warren's statement was "simply not true."

"Her plan would create a new tax on employers of almost $9 trillion that would come out of workers' pockets, a new financial transaction tax that would impact investments held by middle class Americans, and a new capital gains tax that would affect far more people than she stated tonight," Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

The Warren campaign’s detailed Medicare-for-all plan claims costs can be covered by a combination of existing federal and state spending on Medicare and other health care—as well as taxes on employers, financial transactions, the ultra-wealthy and large corporations, and some savings elsewhere.

Notably, they include what is essentially a nearly $9 trillion payroll tax increase on employers—something economists generally say can hit workers in the form of reduced wages. Biden's campaign argues this would certainly hit the middle class.

Warren’s proposal, as she referenced in Iowa, indeed calls for a tax increase explicitly on billionaires, expanding a previously announced wealth tax to hit them harder.

However, the plan also calls for raising capital gains taxes for the "top 1%."

Even The New York Times noted this would extend beyond billionaires, reporting: "In 2017, the top 1 percent of tax returns had income above roughly $515,000, according to the Internal Revenue Service — about 1.4 million tax returns in total."

A Warren campaign spokesperson later walked back her weekend statement, telling the Times that the Massachusetts senator was referring specifically to her wealth tax proposal when she said taxes would only increase for billionaires — acknowledging that taxes would increase for the top 1 percent under the plan.

But the campaign faces skepticism beyond the debate over the billionaire burden.

A recent study released by the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget declared it would be "impossible" to finance any such plan using only taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

And The Wall Street Journal editorial board challenged other calculations, especially her claim that the plan would translate to $20 trillion in additional spending, whereas other estimates for Medicare-for-all have put the cost roughly $10 trillion higher.

“That leaves $30 trillion to finance, but Senator Warren waves her wand and says the bill will really be $20.5 trillion. She makes the rest vanish by positing magical savings from things like ‘comprehensive payment reform,’” the Journal wrote.

The Biden campaign also charged that "Senator Warren has been lowballing the cost of her plan by well over $10 trillion while overcounting the revenue that would be gained from the sources she identifies. The bottom line? Even more tax increases on the middle class will be inevitable."

Medicare-for-all’s chief Senate champion Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has pitched a plan estimated to cost an extra $32 trillion over 10 years. Sanders told ABC News over the weekend that his proposal is “far more progressive” than Warren’s, and said that her plan could have a “very negative impact” on the economy and job creation.


“The function of health care is to provide health care to all people, not to make $100 billion in profits for the insurance companies and the drug companies. So, Elizabeth Warren and I agree on that,” Sanders told ABC News. “We do disagree on how you fund it. I think the approach that I have, in fact, will be much more progressive in terms of protecting the financial well-being of middle-income families.”

Sanders has acknowledged that his Medicare-for-all plan would raise taxes on the middle class, but he argues it would lower the cost of health care for most Americans.

Biden himself slammed Warren’s numbers in a Friday interview with PBS. “She’s making it up,” he said.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh blasted Warren's plan Friday as a "total disaster."

“There are 52 trillion reasons why this plan is a total disaster," Murtaugh told Fox News. "Best of luck to the fact checkers who now have to clean up the mess.”

Original Article

Warren’s $52T ‘Medicare-for-all’ plan revealed: Campaign still claims no middle-class tax hikes needed

closeElizabeth Warren looks to raise taxes on all guns and ammunitionVideo

Elizabeth Warren looks to raise taxes on all guns and ammunition

Former special ops sniper Ryan Cleckner reacts to Warren's gun control plan.

EXCLUSIVE: Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s long-awaited "Medicare-for-all" funding plan projects the government-run health care system would cost a staggering sum of "just under $52 trillion" over the next decade, with the campaign proposing a host of new tax increases to pay for it while still claiming the middle class would not face any additional burden.

“We don’t need to raise taxes on the middle class by one penny to finance Medicare for All,” Sen. Warren, D-Mass., said in her plan — a copy of which was obtained by Fox News in advance of its release Friday.

In a tweet posted after this report was first published, Warren reiterated that pledge while asserting she can return $11 trillion to American families.


Some of Warren’s rivals for the nomination are unlikely to buy that claim, after having repeatedly challenged her assertions that the middle class would not be hit by tax hikes and suggested she has not been upfront with voters.

Indeed, the Joe Biden campaign said the "unrealistic plan" would leave only two options: "even further increase taxes on the middle class or break her commitment to these promised benefits."

"The mathematical gymnastics in this plan are all geared towards hiding a simple truth from voters: it's impossible to pay for Medicare for All without middle class tax increases," Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

The Warren campaign's detailed Medicare-for-all proposal, however, insists that the costs can be covered by a combination of existing federal and state spending on Medicare and other health care — as well as myriad taxes on employers, financial transactions, the ultra-wealthy and large corporations and some savings elsewhere. Those measures are meant to pay for a projected $20.5 trillion in new federal spending. Notably, they include what is essentially a payroll tax increase on employers, something economists generally say can hit workers in the form of reduced wages.

Like Medicare-for-all’s chief Senate champion, fellow candidate Bernie Sanders, the Warren campaign argues that many of these costs already are being spent in the existing health care system by governments, employers and individuals in the form of premiums, deductibles and other expenses.

However, unlike Sanders’ plan, Warren’s projects no new tax burden for the middle class. The Warren campaign claims those $11 trillion in individual costs would drop to “practically zero,” while the plan maintains and boosts a funding pipeline from other sources. The plan also carries a total price tag of "just under $52 trillion" over the next 10 years, or slightly less than cost projections for the current system. That factors in current and additional spending; new spending alone would be in the $20 trillion range, compared with roughly $32 trillion for Sanders' plan.

So how would she pay for it?

Among other proposals, Warren calls for bringing in nearly $9 trillion in new Medicare taxes on employers over the next 10 years, arguing this would essentially replace what they’re already paying for employee health insurance. Further, Warren’s campaign says if they are at risk of falling short of the revenue target, they could impose a “Supplemental Employer Medicare Contribution” for big companies with “extremely high executive compensation and stock buyback rates.”

Whether some of those costs, however, still could be passed on to middle-class employees – as economists argue payroll tax costs often are – remains to be seen. As the Tax Policy Center has noted, it is assumed the "employee bears the burden of both the employer and employee portions of payroll taxes."

Bedingfield pointed to that component in alleging the plan "would place a new tax of nearly $9 trillion that will fall on American workers."

Bernie Sanders files for New Hampshire Democratic primaryVideo

Warren also proposes even more taxes on the ultra-rich, expanding on her previously announced signature wealth tax, to tax more of anyone’s net worth over $1 billion (estimated to raise another $1 trillion). Warren also calls for raising capital gains tax rates for the wealthy, taxing more foreign earnings and imposing a tax on financial transactions to generate $800 billion in revenue.

Aside from those and other taxes, the campaign claims they can scrounge up $2.3 trillion with better tax enforcement and policies, as well as additional funds by reining in defense spending.

“When fully implemented, my approach to Medicare for All would mark one of the greatest federal expansions of middle class wealth in our history,” Warren said in her plan. “And if Medicare for All can be financed without any new taxes on the middle class, and instead by asking giant corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected to pay their fair share, that’s exactly what we should do.”

Warren has been teasing this plan for weeks, especially after some of her rivals hammered her campaign on the financing issue during the last primary debate.

"Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything except this," South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg memorably said during last month's Democratic primary debate.

“No plan has been laid out to explain how a multitrillion-dollar hole in this Medicare-for-all plan that Senator Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in,” he charged.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also slammed Warren during that debate, saying “at least Bernie’s being honest here in saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes will go up. And I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.”

Sanders has openly said taxes will increase “for virtually everybody" but argued the system will ultimately cost less than what workers currently pay for premiums and other expenses.

The Warren campaign’s insistence that the middle class will be spared any such costs is likely to face sustained skepticism in the Democratic primary field.


Buttigieg reprised his criticism this week, telling Fox News that his concern about Warren’s plan “is not just the multi-trillion-dollar hole, but also the fact that most Americans would prefer not to be told that they have to abandon their private plan.”

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh also blasted Warren's plan Friday as a "total disaster."

“There are 52 trillion reasons why this plan is a total disaster," Murtaugh told Fox News. "Best of luck to the fact checkers who now have to clean up the mess.”

One Emory University health care expert recently told The Washington Post "there’s no question" a Medicare-for-all plan "hits the middle class" in some way. A new study released by the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget also noted it would be "impossible" to finance any such plan using only taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Aside from the cost issues, Warren did appear to acknowledge this week that Medicare-for-all could result in substantial job losses, calling it “part of the cost issue” when confronted with an estimate that nearly 2 million jobs could be shed.

During that same interview with New Hampshire Public Radio, Warren vowed that she would “not sign any legislation into law for which costs for middle-class families do not go down.”

Original Article