Reporter’s Notebook: Senate impeachment trial could be biggest reality TV show of all time

closeFitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attackedVideo

Fitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attacked

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton reacts to House vote on impeachment articles.

The Senate has a specific set of 25 rules which dictate operations for a Senate impeachment trial. But the Senate’s only conducted 17 impeachment trials in history. No one knows how President Trump’s prospective Senate trial may look. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have wrestled for days about the possibilities of a Senate trial. So far, neither side is giving any quarter.

Senate impeachment trial rules are vague. They only say the Senate holds the trial six days a week, starting at 1 in the afternoon, Saturdays included.

There are only a few things the Senate has to do with the trial. One of them is present the House’s impeachment articles to the Senate out loud. Former Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar announced that the House was “exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States” on January 7, 1999. On January 14, 1999, the late House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., laid out the House’s case to the Senate.

“We the managers of the House are here to set forth the evidence in support of two articles of impeachment against President William Jefferson Clinton,” said Hyde.

And after the managers speak to the Senate, pretty much anything can happen.

Clinton’s Senate trial ran about five weeks in January and February 1999 before the Senate voted to acquit. But no one is quite sure how long Trump’s trial could run. After the Senate verbally announces the charges and receives the House managers, anything can happen.

“Impeachment trials of the president of the United States are extremely rare. We really do not have a great deal of precedent on which to rely,” said former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin, the body’s head referee. “The potential playing field is as yet defined. The lines are not on the field yet. I don't know if it's going to be 100 yards or 200 yards field and whether you can get a first down or a series of first downs and keep going.”

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over any Senate trial. But no one will have more influence over a Senate trial than McConnell.

“We don’t create impeachments. We judge them,” said McConnell.

But the Kentucky Republican says he’s coordinated with the White House about what the administration wants in a Senate trial.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Nancy Pelosi speaks after House votes to impeach President TrumpVideo

Trump says he’s open to either a short or long trial. There’s been talk of the president appearing himself in a trial. Maybe calling the Bidens, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as witnesses.

Schumer tried to preempt GOP messaging on a Senate trial by making requests for when a trial should start, how much debate the Senate should allocate for closing arguments which witnesses the Democrats would like to see testify.

Schumer is executing an interesting gambit. Schumer and Democrats have long portrayed McConnell as keeper of the legislative “graveyard,” capitalizing on his self-assigned nickname as the “Grim Reaper.” Schumer essentially dared McConnell to say no to Democratic demands. The New York Democrat suspects McConnell would:

  1. Fail to implement any of the Democrats requests.
  2. Rush the Senate trial to the point that Democrats think senators never gave the House charges a fair hearing and abused the impeachment process.
  3. Conducts a trial which favors the president, since McConnell says he’s working with the administration to implement about what Trump wants from the GOP-controlled Senate.

Schumer then will attempt to add to the narrative that McConnell is indeed “the Grim Reaper.” Moreover, Democrats will weaponize such the Senate’s handling of a trial (and perhaps actual roll call votes in a Senate trial) against vulnerable Republicans facing challenging reelection bids in 2020: Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

Schumer wants Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify – among others.

McConnell is cool to the idea.

“If the Senate volunteers ourselves to do House Democrats’ homework for them, we will only incentivize an endless stream of dubious partisan impeachments in the future,” said the majority leader.

A Senate trial with witnesses could produce one of the most surreal spectacles in American history.

That’s why even some key Republicans are leery of an unorthodox scene, and what it could mean for the integrity of the Senate.

Graham: Pelosi would lose her job if she didn't move toward impeachmentVideo

“I'm getting a lot of pushback from the right on this,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “You know everybody's dying to hear from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and prove that there was corruption on their part, and to get Schiff. Shifty Schiff and all that good stuff. I'm really worried about where this could take the country.”

Like Graham, senators who served more than two decades ago also fretted about Clinton’s impeachment trial. Then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. says there were concerns about publicly airing salacious details about Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“There were some that wanted to have witnesses on the floor of the Senate in the well. Bill Clinton. Monica Lewinsky. And I said, no. We're not going to demean this institution to that degree,” said Lott.

That’s why Lott and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., forged a pact. The leaders convened a conclave of all 100 senators in the Old Senate chamber. Lott and Daschle forged a pact on how to conduct Clinton’s trial. It’s unclear if senators can form a bipartisan accord for Trump’s trial in today’s toxic political climate.

“If they don’t do this in the right way and they have witnesses on the floor, I think it takes on a context that could be harmful,” observed Lott. “It's bad enough and if this turns into an absolutely mudslinging process, it'll make things even worse.”

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A Senate trial isn’t expected to begin until January. And, Lott and Daschle didn’t reach their agreement until just before Clinton’s trial started two decades ago. And if there’s no pact on a Senate trial, Trump could find himself in a familiar spot: the star in a Senate trial.

Perhaps the biggest political reality TV show of all time.

Original Article

Could Dems defect in Trump impeachment trial? McConnell sees opening

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Speaking on impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says House Democrats are conducting

The Democratic senators who hail from states won by President Trump in 2016 are being eyed as possible acquittal votes in a Senate impeachment trial, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he believes at least a Democrat or two could defect.

It comes as the House barrels toward a floor vote on impeachment planned for Wednesday. If articles of impeachment are approved as expected, the Senate would follow with a trial in early 2020 where senators act as jurors.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell, R-Ky., said during a recent appearance on Fox News' “Hannity."

HANNITY EXCLUSIVE: MCCONNELL SAYS 'ZERO CHANCE' TRUMP IS REMOVED, 'ONE OR TWO DEMOCRATS' COULD VOTE TO ACQUIT

The most popular parlor game right now in Washington focuses on the House side — specifically, on which Democrats from Trump-won districts would vote to impeach, or defect, even though impeachment is widely seen as inevitable. On the Senate side, where Republicans hold the majority and the threshold for conviction is a steep two-thirds majority, Trump is expected to easily be acquitted. But Republicans nevertheless would like to peel off a Democrat or more in the upper chamber, which could make the vote bipartisan.

A source familiar with Senate impeachment trial plans told Fox News that Republicans believe the Democrats most likely to vote to acquit are Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both of whom represent red states that went for Trump in 2016.

Manchin is still undecided, according to a source familiar with his thinking. In a recent appearance on CNN, Manchin said, "I'm very much torn on it. I think it weighs on everybody."

Another source said they believe Jones — who is up for re-election next year in the pro-Trump state and is often considered the most vulnerable incumbent — is likely to be the first Democrat defection.

Jones told a local interviewer this week that “I’m concerned that the impeachment inquiry is going to hurt the country," lamenting how it has become such "a partisan issue now."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Other Democratic senators believed to be in play are Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Trump carried both states in 2016.

Sinema is the first Democrat elected to represent the typically red-leaning state in the Senate since 1995. Sinema has not signaled publicly which way she would vote on impeachment.

Peters recently told local journalists that, "It’s important to collect all of the facts regarding the situation, and certainly what facts are out there are very troublesome."

“Those four Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” a senior GOP aide told Fox News, referring to Manchin, Jones, Peters and Sinema. “They will have to resist the Trump derangement syndrome that is consuming their Democrat colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are making the case that Republicans could join them in a vote to convict Trump. Those most often mentioned as possibilities are Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has not shied from criticizing Trump; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who sometimes crosses party lines in votes.

But Republican sources told Fox News that none of those lawmakers have signaled any movement on the final Senate vote on whether to remove the president from office, and McConnell has said it has been his goal from the beginning to keep Republicans together on the issue.

The source also told Fox News that a recent letter penned by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., laying out his proposed parameters for what a Senate impeachment trial would look like and which witnesses should be included did not move the needle one way or the other for Republicans whose votes could be wavering.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE GOP COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

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“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles in the House,” McConnell told “Hannity,” while also saying that the impeachment case is “so darn weak” and that the outcome is easy to predict.

“There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office,” McConnell said last week, noting that he has “no choice but to take it up” but the trial would be “in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically related investigations—regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

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The House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final roll call in the full House is expected Wednesday.

A massive impeachment report issued this past weekend by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., stated: "This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain."

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: Congress, on overdrive, could see its busiest week ever

closeThe spinning of impeachmentVideo

The spinning of impeachment

Support slips despite saturation coverage.

CAPITOL HILL – This could be the week that broke Congress.

The ambition of the schedule reflects what usually goes down in December. The 12th month is almost always the most hectic on the calendar on Capitol Hill as lawmakers race to finish things before the end of the year. The crush is often a byproduct of a lack of focus and procrastination by lawmakers. This week’s docket certainly reflects that on some fronts.

However, the most significant factor this week is impeachment. That would be enough to tackle in any one week, but the complexity of the coming week takes things to a new level.

In chronological order:

Avoiding a government shutdown

Fox News expects the text of spending packages to avoid a government shutdown to be filed midday Monday. The plan would be to break the 12 annual spending bills into two “mini-buses” – as opposed to an omnibus, in which they rope all of the bills into one stash. President Trump has opposed an omnibus, so lawmakers would tether a batch of appropriations bills together as one minibus. The rest of the bills would be in the other pile. It’s unclear which of the 12 bills will fall where.

The House Rules Committee likely will meet late Monday to prepare these spending bills and send them to the floor for debate Tuesday.

It’s key for the House to get a jump on appropriations. The Senate requires time to process the spending bills later in the week.

Also, check the holiday spirit of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul and other senators may try to require that the bills clear various procedural traps. If everyone agrees, the Senate can move fast, but all it takes is one senator to slow things down. The deadline to fund the government is 11:59 p.m. ET Dec. 20. These bills would fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 – ending Sept. 30, 2020.

Impeachment

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee is set to meet at 11 a.m. to prepare the parameters of debate for the articles of impeachment. The Rules Committee is the gateway to the House floor for many bills, and, in this case, articles of impeachment.

The “rule” authored by the Rules Committee would establish how much time the House would devote to the articles and if any amendments would be in order for debate.

Eric Shawn: President Trump's impeachment edgeVideo

The House did not go to the Rules Committee for the articles of impeachment written for then-President Clinton in 1998. The Judiciary Committee summoned the articles to the floor in that instance through a parliamentary phenomenon known as “privilege.” The House then forged a unanimous consent agreement, in which all 435 members agreed to debate the articles over a two-day period. In all, 283 House members participated in the impeachment debate.

It would be nearly impossible to secure a similar unanimous consent agreement in today’s hyper-toxic climate. Receiving a “rule” from the Rules Committee would establish the structure for the debate and give Democrats more control over the process on the floor.

Going to the Rules Committee on Tuesday generally would mean the issue hitting the floor Wednesday. However, a senior House Democratic source would not rule out debate on the articles – and thus, a final vote, drifting into Thursday.

The House is expected to vote on two distinct articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Expect separate periods of debate and votes on both articles of impeachment.

If the House, in fact, votes on the articles Thursday, Dec. 19, that would come 21 years to the day that the House impeached Clinton.

Once the House adopts articles of impeachment, a couple of things must happen. The House must approve a separate resolution that dispatches the articles to the Senate – and names the “impeachment managers.” Impeachment managers are seen as “prosecutors” whom the House sends to the Senate to present the case. Historically, impeachment managers have been House members, but the rules are silent on whether the managers are required to be House members.

The Democrats' case for impeachment

The Democrats' case for impeachment

Rep. Madeline Dean on casting her vote to impeach President Trump.

The selection of impeachment managers would be a big deal, and it’s likely their identities will be revealed later this week. The impeachment managers usually come from the Judiciary Committee, but it’s possible others could score this plum assignment – like Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Keep an eye on Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and even Justin Amash, I-Mich., who left the Republican Party earlier this year.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT PROBE

The House still has two impeachment managers left over from Clinton’s impeachment trial: Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was an impeachment manager for the Clinton trial when he served in the House.

Schiff came to Congress in 2001 after defeating another Clinton impeachment manager, former Rep. James Rogan, R-Calif. Democrats specifically targeted Rogan for defeat after he helped prosecute Clinton in the Senate.

The House does not have to send the separate resolution to the Senate right away. It could hold the resolution if it wanted to do so. That could be weird — but anything can happen in this environment. The resolution is “privileged.” That means other members could try to force a vote to advance the measure to the Senate, but one wonders if the House may hold the paper to see if there’s an agreement on the structure of a Senate trial between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

In 1998, the House approved the secondary resolution moments after adopting the articles of impeachment against Clinton. Consequently, the Senate must also approve a separate resolution, indicating it’s ready to receive the House materials. It is unclear if the Senate action could happen immediately or after the first of the year when a Senate trial is expected to begin in earnest.

Regardless, it’s doubtful anything significant will happen in the Senate until after the first of the year, or, as McConnell said the other day, when the “bowl games end.”

USCMA

The House Ways and Means Committee – which has had jurisdiction over trade – scheduled a “markup” session to prepare the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement for the House floor on Thursday. The USCMA has enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The markup is set to take place in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building, the same spot where the House held impeachment hearings and markups for weeks.

America's dairy farmers hopeful on new USMCA trade dealVideo

After the markup, the USMCA package likely will go to the Rules Committee for a “rule” and then to the floor for adoption late in the week, maybe Thursday or Friday. The USMCA could be the exclamation point for the House at the end of a challenging week.

McConnell has indicated he won’t consider the USMCA until a Senate trial is complete.

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He’s kind of playing 3-D chess with the USCMA. On one hand, McConnell is challenging Trump about the length of a Senate trial. By holding out passage of the USCMA, McConnell is subtly pushing for a shorter trial so the Senate can advance the package as quickly as possible in early 2020. By the same token, McConnell is also trying to score points against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. McConnell is simultaneously suggesting that the Senate could take up the USCMA expeditiously – if it weren’t bogged down in an impeachment trial foisted on the Senate by House liberals.

This is likely the week that broke Congress – perhaps in more ways than one. And, if the workload doesn’t break Congress this week, it can always break on Christmas week, too, if lawmakers don’t wrap by by Friday.

Original Article

Biden blames staff, says nobody ‘warned’ him son’s Ukraine job could raise conflict

closeBiden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trialVideo

Biden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trial

2020 Democrat hopeful Joe Biden tells Fox News' Peter Doocy he will not voluntarily appear if called to testify in a Senate impeachment trial for President Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed in a new interview that when his son Hunter was a board member of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while he was in office, no one informed him that it could pose a problem.

Biden insisted again that Hunter did nothing wrong, but this time appeared to fault his staff for not cluing him in that there could be concerns about his son's involvement with the foreign company that had been under investigation while Biden was in office and dealing with Ukraine policy.

FORMER VP BIDEN DISMISSES CLAIMS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS TURNING HARD LEFT

"Nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest. Nobody warned me about that," Biden told NPR in a story posted Monday.

State Department official George Kent addressed this during his testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, acknowledging that he told staff members there was concern over the appearance of a conflict of interest, but that no one told the vice president because his older son Beau was suffering from what was ultimately a fatal battle with brain cancer.

"They should have told me," Biden says now. Hunter's dealings and the elder Biden's role ousting a prosecutor looking into Burisma are being used by Trump and his supporters against the now-2020 presidential candidate, even as Trump's effort to press for an investigation into that conduct has spurred the impeachment inquiry.

"The appearance looked bad and it gave folks like Rudy Giuliani an excuse to come up with a Trumpian kind of defense, while they were violating the Constitution," Biden said.

Trump's impeachment inquiry has focused primarily on his request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, as well as Democratic activities during the 2016 election. Democrats have accused Trump of using a White House visit for Zelensky and the delay of military aid to Ukraine as leverage.

JOE BIDEN GETS JOHN KERRY 2020 ENDORSEMENT

Trump insists he did nothing wrong and that he never called for any quid pro quo with the investigations. His administration claims that Trump was simply concerned about corruption within the Ukrainian government, asserting that is part of why he delayed the aid. Trump has also hammered the Bidens for alleged impropriety, blasting the former vice president for pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.

In the past, Biden has bragged publicly about threatening to withhold money from Ukraine in order to force the prosecutor's termination, but he claims it was due to suspicions of corruption, not because of his son's role with Burisma.

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Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently endorsed Biden for president, also claimed following a Biden campaign event Sunday that he "had no knowledge" of Hunter's involvement with Burisma while he was secretary.

This, despite Kerry's stepson Christopher Heinz reportedly notifying two of Kerry's aides after Hunter Biden became a Burisma board member. Heinz and Hunter Biden had been business partners, co-owning the private equity firm Rosemont Seneca. According to the Washington Examiner, an email from Heinz to Kerry's aides distanced Heinz from Burisma, saying "there was no investment by our firm in their company," and claiming ignorance as to why Hunter became involved in the Ukrainian firm.

Fox News' Rob DiRienzo contributed to this report.

Original Article

Could House impeachment proceedings drag on into 2020? The timing’s unclear

closeConstitutional experts clash in House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachmentVideo

Constitutional experts clash in House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment

Professor Jonathan Turley rebuts bribery, obstruction claims against President Trump; reaction and analysis from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel.

CAPITOL HILL – Is there enough time for lawmakers to deposit articles of impeachment on the House floor this calendar year? Or, could this wait? Finally, do Democrats have the votes to impeach?

If a House impeachment vote drifts into 2020, analysts likely will crow that it would be extraordinary for the House to attempt to impeach President Trump in “an election year.” But, it’s tough to calibrate the political advantages or disadvantages of doing impeachment in December or when the calendar flips.

It’s doubtful that in the future, the public would recall precisely when the House voted to impeach. Republicans would assert that Democrats were so brazen that they “impeached the president in an election year.” Putting impeachment on the floor in, say, October, just before a November general election, may be a real no-no. However, nobody on the Hill has suggested that scenario would be in play.

Heretofore, few actions on impeachment by either side have altered the public’s perception of impeachment. So, if the “needle” never moves, then it might not matter when the House considers articles of impeachment on the floor.

Democrats may prefer to complete the impeachment process expeditiously and push it to the Senate.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., presented his panel’s impeachment report to the caucus of Democrats on Wednesday morning – receiving a standing ovation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked rank-and-file Democrats to give one another time and space to reach their own conclusions about impeachment. Democrats who spoke in the meeting indicated they wanted the inquiry to continue on what was described as a “deliberate path.”

Doug Collins spars with Jerry Nadler after Louie Gohmert tries to speakVideo

The Intelligence Committee concluded its probe this week. During Wednesday’s inaugural Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said the panel will “reconvene and hear from the committees that worked to uncover the facts before us.” Fox News is told the committee will invite the majority and minority sides to present their cases in a public forum.

Intelligence Committee Democrats released their report Tuesday. Republicans published a “pre-buttal” response ahead of time, on Monday.

It’s impossible to judge if the panel may hold additional hearings with witnesses. Nadler said if members determined there were “impeachable offenses, then we must move swiftly to do our duty and charge him accordingly.”

Hearings and other public sessions may not be required in the impeachment process, but if Democrats intend to impeach the president on the floor, they first must craft actual articles of impeachment.

The Judiciary Committee would write articles of impeachment in what’s called a “markup” session. Markups aren’t hearings. There are no witnesses. It’s just all of the members of the committee, sitting on the dais, offering articles of impeachment, amendments to those proposals and debating the merits or demerits of various plans. For instance, the Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment for then-President Richard Nixon in 1974, but the panel ultimately approved only three.

So, if the full House were to impeach the president this year, the time crunch is real.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced earlier this week the body will stay in session until almost Christmas. Democrats emerging from their caucus meeting Wednesday morning told reporters they were advised to stick around Washington through Dec. 21 or 22. It should be noted that the House impeached then-President Bill Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998, in a rare Saturday session, just before Christmas. So, a Christmastime impeachment would be plausible.

Doug Collins presses Jerry Nadler over demand for Republican day of witnessesVideo

But, would Democrats have the votes for impeachment? Pelosi has been a master at reading her caucus. If Pelosi has the votes, she’ll likely give the green light to impeach on the floor. If Pelosi doesn’t have the votes, impeachment could wait – conceivably until the new year. Voting to impeach – or not impeach – could hinge on precisely what articles the Judiciary Committee were to draft.

The key would be having the votes. There are currently 431 members of the House. It takes 216 to impeach. There are presently 233 Democrats. That means Democrats can afford to lose only 17 of their own and still impeach. Democrats could lose 18 if Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., voted to impeach. Such parliamentary algebra also would mean a swath of the 31 Democrats representing districts that Trump carried in 2016 would have to vote to impeach.

LEGAL SCHOLARS CLASH OVER WHETHER TRUMP COMMITTED IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES

In addition to the math, Democrats are facing another conundrum.

Impeachment would consume an enormous amount of time on the House floor. The legislative freight demanded by impeachment is one of the most significant responsibilities facing the House. An impeachment debate can’t run for just an hour or two on the floor.

Here’s what else the House may have to tackle in the coming days:

Democrats have been trying to approve the annual defense bill, consuming floor time. The House and Senate have to figure out a way to fund the government before 11:59:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 20. Otherwise, there would be another holiday shutdown like last year.

It’s possible the House and Senate could approve a handful of the annual 12 spending bills and then do an interim spending bill for the remainders. Or, lawmakers could weave together a clump of outstanding appropriations bills and fund the government that way. No matter the path, funding the government takes time.

Bret Baier says impeachment hearing becomes a ping-pong match between Democrats and RepublicansVideo

And, here’s the big issue: Analysts point out congressional Democrats simply cannot allow a government shutdown this time and impeach the president. Otherwise, Trump and Republicans would proclaim that Democrats were too busy impeaching the president and not on conducting the most basic of congressional tasks: funding the government. Democrats have been aware of this quandary. So, in some ways, the impeachment of Trump in 2019 could hinge on whether there’s an agreement on government spending.

Also gravitating in the congressional ether: the new trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, known as the USMCA. If Democrats sprint ahead with the USMCA this month, which isn’t likely, there’s almost no way the House could tangle with impeachment on the floor.

Democrats could face a messaging problem heading into the holidays. The floor traffic is vexing. That’s why some senior Democratic sources have suggested impeachment could wait until the new year — although it’s not a sure thing.

One source close to Pelosi was skeptical of moving impeachment this month.

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“I just don’t see it,” the Democratic source said about advancing impeachment before Christmas. “It’s too big.”

Ultimately, a 2019 impeachment of the president could depend on bandwidth.

Original Article

Dems’ doomsday scenario: Could anxious moderates scuttle impeachment push?

closeKarl Rove: Democrats 'overplayed their hand' with impeachment pushVideo

Karl Rove: Democrats 'overplayed their hand' with impeachment push

Fox News contributor and former deputy chief of staff during President George W. Bush's administration Karl Rove discusses why support for impeachment is weaker in battleground states, which points to the Democrats' inability to prove an impeachable case.

With impeachment proceedings moving swiftly after a spree of dramatic hearings, the expectation that the House will vote to impeach President Trump and trigger a Senate trial has been treated as a fait accompli — but the president's allies still see a scenario, however remote, wherein congressional Democrats could fall short.

As with so many debates in Washington, it could all come down to the moderates.

A senior administration official claimed Friday, after the apparent conclusion of House Intelligence Committee hearings, that it's "not clear the House is going to impeach."

DEM REVERSES COURSE ON IMPEACHMENT AGAIN, NOW SUPPORTS AFTER SAYING IT HAD NO VALUE

This, despite House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., declaring the "evidence of Trump's misconduct is already overwhelming" — and many Democrats playing up testimony that linked top officials to a pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and asserted an Oval Office meeting, and possibly aid, were used as leverage.

Yet as with the Russia investigation, while the hearings have been covered extensively — featuring analysis replete with phrases such as “game over” and “the walls are closing in” — the polling suggests the needle isn’t moving much in the court of public opinion.

Among critical independents, there are troubling signs for impeachment backers. Fifty percent of independents questioned in an NPR/PBS/Marist poll conducted Nov. 11-15 did not support impeaching and removing Trump from office, with just 42 percent backing such a move. That’s a slight dip in support compared with the previous NPR/PBS/Marist poll – conducted the first week in October – when support stood at 45 percent.

While that poll was conducted before last week’s high-profile testimony, it raises the possibility that the hearings in Washington are not resonating so much outside the Beltway.

Report: Vulnerable Democrats alarmed by GOP's barrage of anti-impeachment adsVideo

Under pressure from aggressive GOP ads, it remains unclear whether vulnerable Democrats in districts Trump won would have the stomach to go through with impeachment in the end even if the party appears united against Trump now.

A window into the pressure campaign to keep Democrats in line came over a 48-hour period this week when Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., changed her tune twice on impeachment.

On Sunday, Lawrence said she no longer saw any value in the process and called on Democrats to back a symbolic censure resolution instead.

"We are so close to an election," Lawrence said Sunday on a Michigan radio program, noting that Trump stands little chance of being convicted by the GOP-controlled Senate. "I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don't see the value of taking him out of office. But I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable."

While Lawrence presented a censure as a “marker,” it would also mark a climbdown for Democrats, whose impeachment push has sidelined almost every other political issue since the summer.

AS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY BREAKS FOR THANKSGIVING, CONVERSATIONS OVER TURKEY COULD DICTATE NEXT STEPS

But on Tuesday Lawrence issued a new statement, saying she continues to support impeachment.

"I was an early supporter for impeachment in 2017," Lawrence said in a statement. "The House Intelligence Committee followed a very thorough process in holding hearings these past two weeks. The information they revealed confirmed that this President has abused the power of his office, therefore I continue to support impeachment."

Asked by Fox News whether Democratic leadership pushed for the latest statement, an aide said: "Not that I know of." But the aide suggested the congresswoman still likes the idea of a censure, saying, "What she was trying to say is that because she doesn't think the Senate will convict, that maybe censure would be a viable option."

The Republican National Committee promptly sent out an email blast crowing that Democrats are getting "cold feet" and "vulnerable" members "should listen to their constituents and be the next group to abandon ship."

Other Democrats have expressed some uncertainty without tipping their hands. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., told The Washington Examiner that she doesn’t know if the impeachment hearings will change voters' minds.

“I’ll have to see,” she said. “Whether it will shift their minds one way or the other, I don’t know that.”

The next few weeks are key.

Lawmakers are likely to keep a close eye on how public opinion shifts or doesn’t over the Thanksgiving break. Democrats in pro-Trump districts could face difficult decisions — and while the math is in the pro-impeachment favor, it isn’t a slam dunk.

A simple majority — 216 of 431 members — is needed to impeach. There are 233 Democrats, meaning that presuming anti-Trump independent Rep. Justin Amash backs impeachment, Democrats can lose 18 of their own and still impeach the president.

Thirty-one of those Democrats represent districts carried by Trump in 2016. Those members will be watched closely as the House Judiciary Committee takes up the case and considers articles of impeachment as soon as next month.

As for Republicans, it seems extremely unlikely that any will break off. Republicans such as Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, who was eyed as a possible break-off from the GOP, recently indicated he will vote against impeachment.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Democrats also face the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate trial, in which Republicans could use the proceedings to go on offense and call their own witnesses to make their case that there was Ukrainian interference in 2016, or that former Vice President Joe Biden or his son's conduct in the country was inappropriate.

Sensing a possible opening, the Republican National Committee is ramping up the pressure on Democrats in pro-Trump districts. As reported by The Daily Caller, the RNC is running ads urging voters to pick a lawmaker who “won’t waste taxpayer $$$ on partisan impeachment.”

“[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi herself said impeachment must be ‘compelling,’ ‘overwhelming,’ and ‘bipartisan,’" RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted.

“After 2 weeks of sham hearings, the Democrats’ case against @realDonaldTrump is dead — and the only thing that’s 'bipartisan' is the opposition to their entire charade,” she said.

Fox News' Gregg Re and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA report drop could scramble Trump impeachment effort

closeHorowitz report on FISA abuses to have limited redactionsVideo

Horowitz report on FISA abuses to have limited redactions

Horowitz's report nearing completion.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz plans to drop his long-awaited report on FBI surveillance during the 2016 campaign just as House Democrats are moving toward likely articles of impeachment.

For allies of President Trump, the timing could be perfect.

No matter how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act review judges the actions of law enforcement with regard to Trump campaign associate surveillance, the report will give Trump the opportunity to shift focus once more to the Russia "witch hunt" — and, as he has before, attempt to link that to Democrats' escalating impeachment inquiry over his dealings with Ukraine.

HOROWITZ REPORTEDLY FINDS FBI LAWYER FALSIFIED FISA DOC

“What they have coming out is historic,” Trump himself teased last week, in an interview with "Fox & Friends."

Previewing his rhetorical line of attack, he said: “This was spying on my campaign. … This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency.”

As he's already telegraphing, Trump is poised to argue anew that he has been the victim of unfair investigations since he was a candidate for president — and allies say he'll be able to hammer home those claims, at a time when he'll need to keep any wavering Republicans by his side should impeachment head to the Senate for trial.

Horowitz has been investigating alleged FISA abuses related to the Justice Department and FBI's surveillance of Trump associates during the 2016 campaign for more than a year and a half. The report, which is said to have few redactions, is expected to be made public on Dec. 9.

'This was spying on my campaign. … This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency.'

— President Trump

One House Republican source involved in impeachment proceedings told Fox News on Monday that the president is likely to seize on the findings to argue to lawmakers and the public that he has been unfairly targeted.

“It will be damning evidence that government officials really were trying to sabotage Trump, which is what he’s been saying all along, including during the impeachment debate,” the source told Fox News.

The individual added: “It’ll make it easy for Trump to portray impeachment as yet another political hit job by the Resistance meant to undermine him and oust him—which of course it is.”

Last week, multiple news reports said that Horowitz had found evidence that an FBI lawyer manipulated a key investigative document related to the FBI’s secretive surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. In its initial 2016 FISA warrant application, the FBI described Page as an “agent of a foreign power.”

Horowitz, in the course of his review, found that the FBI employee who allegedly manipulated the document falsely stated that he had “documentation to back up a claim he had made in discussions with the Justice Department about the factual basis” for the FISA warrant application, according to a report by The Washington Post. Then, the FBI employee allegedly “altered an email” to substantiate his inaccurate version of events. The employee has since been forced out of the bureau.

At the same time, the Post reported that the alleged conduct did not affect an underlying finding that the surveillance application for Page "had a proper legal and factual basis."

The details suggest the report could present a mixed picture — a document members of both parties will likely mine for information favorable to their argument.

Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — who believes he, separately, was surveilled during the 2016 election through human sources while doing work overseas — said the leaks surrounding the report were meant to reflect favorably upon law enforcement but warned there is likely damaging information forthcoming.

Papadopoulos: IG report won’t be pleasant for FBIVideo

“I think these leaks were incredibly timed,” Papadopoulos said on “Fox & Friends” Monday. “I think the report is not going to be as pleasant as many think it’s going to be for the FBI. And it’s actually probably going to lead into criminal prosecutions that [prosecutor John] Durham is going to end up taking over for.”

Horowitz is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, another event that will keep the FISA matter in the headlines. Horowitz has said that his final report would be released publicly, with few redactions, and noted that he did not anticipate a need to prepare or issue “separate classified and public versions of the report.”

Horowitz's report could even spark new congressional investigations while offering information to other federal reviews probing allegations of abuse by the Justice Department and the FBI, giving Republicans yet another chance to turn the tables on Democrats amid the impeachment probe — something they've already sought to do by focusing on allegations against the Bidens, as opposed to the allegations Trump wrongly pressured Ukraine to investigate the same issue.

The Justice Department and the FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to monitor Page. Page told Fox News earlier this month he was "frustrated" he had not been interviewed in Horowitz's probe.

According to a House GOP memo released in 2018, the unverified anti-Trump dossier “formed an essential part” of the approval of the warrant. The dossier was authored and compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and was created on behalf of Fusion GPS—the firm that was hired to conduct opposition research funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie.

Additionally, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unable to substantiate key claims in the dossier, including that the Trump campaign employed hackers in the United States, that there was a compromising recording of the president in a hotel room, and that ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen flew to Prague to build a conspiracy with hackers. Cohen has denied ever heading to Prague, and no public evidence has contradicted that claim.

Meanwhile, sources told Fox News last month that U.S. Attorney John Durham’s separate, ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation—and that Horowitz’s report will shed light on why Durham’s probe has become a criminal inquiry.

IN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

Durham has reportedly taken up Horowitz’s findings concerning the falsified FISA document, meaning the ex-FBI lawyer who made the changes is now under criminal investigation.

The FISA report comes after a packed spree of impeachment hearings led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. He announced a report is now being prepared for the Judiciary Committee, signaling that his panel is wrapping up its work. That committee could eventually draft articles of impeachment for a floor vote; if approved, the debate would shift to the Senate.

There, Trump’s allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are already indicating they will look more closely at allegations involving Democrats.

Graham penned a letter last week to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the natural gas firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. 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.

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. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Fox News' Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Original Article

As impeachment inquiry breaks for Thanksgiving, conversations over turkey could dictate next steps

closeDo Democrats have any actual articles of impeachment?Video

Do Democrats have any actual articles of impeachment?

Reaction and analysis with former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray and Trump 2020 campaign adviser Harmeet Dhillon.

“Ambassador Sondland,” warned Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., from the dais on day four of the open impeachment hearings. “You are here to be smeared.”

Nunes is the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. But it wasn’t clear at that moment to U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, that Republicans may be doing the smearing.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

Sondland told lawmakers that there was indeed a quid pro quo. He testified that Rudolph Giuliani said requests for a quid pro quo were linked to possible White House meetings for Ukrainian leaders and to prompt investigations of the Bidens. Sondland announced that U.S. aid would not flow to Kiev unless there were probes. Sondland even testified he told Vice President Mike Pence in early September of harboring concerns about connecting the aid to investigations.

But then Mark Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, unloaded on Sondland.

“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” said Short. “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.”

Sondland testified that he pieced together what was going on: a linkage between aid to Ukraine and an investigation of the Bidens.

“It was a presumption,” said Sondland. “Two plus two equals four in my mind.”

Nunes seized on Sondland, divining President Trump’s approach toward Ukraine – without really grasping the policy.

Nunes said it would be “great” if Sondland actually knew the status of the foreign aid “rather than doing funny little math problems here. Two plus two equals four.”

The Republican attorney for the impeachment inquest, counsel Steve Castor, called into question the veracity of Sondland’s interpretations – since the ambassador conceded he rarely took notes.

“You don’t have records. You don’t have your notes because you didn’t take notes. You don’t have a lot of recollections. I mean, this is like the trifecta of unreliability. Isn’t that true?” hectored Castor. “It’s a lot of speculation. A lot of it is your guessing. And we’re talking about impeachment of the President of the United States. So the evidence should be pretty darn good.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, challenged precisely what Sondland thought he may have known about the status of military assistance to Ukraine – and what factors were in play about its release.

Trump says 'it's all over' for impeachment inquiry after Sondland testimonyVideo

“No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no?” asked Turner.

WHITE HOUSE WANTS ITS LAWYERS TO CROSS-EXAMINE, CALL WITNESES IF IMPEACHMENT GOES TO HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

“Yes,” replied Sondland.

“So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?” continued Turner.

“Other than my own presumptions,” answered Sondland.

It wasn’t long after Sondland concluded that more Republicans off Capitol Hill began to muddy the ambassador’s testimony.

“Gordon Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the President was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry emerged in the Ukraine affair as one of the “three amigos” who were crafting U.S. policy with Ukraine – potentially beyond the bounds of regular diplomatic channels. The other two “amigos” were Sondland and former envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker. But Perry’s team pushed back on Sondland as well.

“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry’s interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump,” said Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. “As previously stated, Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the President’s request. No one else was on that call. At no point before, during or after that phone call did the words ‘Biden’ or ‘Burisma’ ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry.”

Secretary Rick Perry on Gordon Sondland's impeachment testimony: He's surmisingVideo

There are problems with Sondland’s testimony. Much of it is predicated on interpretations and perceptions. And, to be fair, Republicans may not really be “smearing” Sondland here. Both sides are fighting to frame their arguments. Like in a court case, GOPers are naturally trying to undercut the credibility of witnesses. Any good counsel would poke holes in testimony, question credibility of the witness and cast doubt.

Before Messrs. Sondland, Perry and Volker rode as the “three amigos,” children of the ‘80s recall a critically-panned, but now cult classic comedy movie titled the “Three Amigos.” The film starred comedy legends Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase. Martin, balladeer Randy Newman and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels wrote the script. But the passing reference to the ‘80s comedy was far from the only pop cultural reference in the impeachment hearings.

Sondland may have lacked concrete information about U.S. Ukraine policy. But what Sondland seemed to remember most from his phone call with President Trump on July 26 from a Kiev restaurant, was discussion of rapper A$AP Rocky. Sondland testified he didn’t initially mention the phone call when House investigators first deposed him in October. But discussion by others about A$AP Rocky jogged his memory.

“That’s the way memory works,” observed Intelligence Committee Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman.

In fact, Sondland testified that much of his conversation with President Trump centered on the legal status of A$AP Rocky, held by Swedish authorities after an alleged assault.

A$AP Rocky emerged as a fringe figure in the impeachment inquiry after U.S. diplomat to Ukraine David Holmes, lunching that day with Sondland in Kiev, testified that A$AP Rocky’s detention appeared prominently in President Trump’s phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

Holmes told the Intelligence Committee that Sondland said to Mr. Trump “the President of Sweden ‘should have released (A$AP Rocky) on your word,’ but that ‘you can tell the Kardashians you tried.’”

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And you thought all President Trump cared about was an investigation of the Bidens.

But, these discussions may have created a special moment in American history. Neither the Kardashians nor A$AP Rocky came up during the impeachment investigations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. However, the historical record is a little unclear as to whether the Kardashians played a side role in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Congress is out until early December for the Thanksgiving recess. Perhaps the biggest thing to watch now is where public opinion goes over the Thanksgiving recess. Expect lots of debate – and maybe actual arguments about impeachment – at dinner tables over turkey, gravy, stuffing, cornbread and pumpkin pie.

Those Thanksgiving conversations could dictate where impeachment is headed.

And there may even be chatter about A$AP Rocky, too.

Original Article

In Trump impeachment trial, Senate Republicans could turn tables on Dems

closeTrump, supporters in Congress may be coming to terms with Senate impeachment trialVideo

Trump, supporters in Congress may be coming to terms with Senate impeachment trial

With impeachment all but a certainty in the House, leading Republicans agree with White House officials that there should be a full trial and not a motion to dismiss; Kevin Corke reports from the White House.

House Democrats are entering what may be the final phase of their impeachment inquiry, after wrapping up a spree of hearings where witnesses tied top officials — including President Trump — to efforts to pressure Ukraine on political investigations while military aid was being withheld.

But the tables could turn, should the House approve impeachment articles and trigger a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. There, Trump’s allies are already indicating they will look more closely at allegations involving Democrats.

"Frankly, I want a trial," Trump declared Friday on “Fox & Friends.”

TRUMP CALLS FOR SENATE TRIAL, SEEKS WHISTLEBLOWER AND SCHIFF AS IMPEACHMENT WITNESSES

There’s a reason for that.

Democrats have controlled everything during marathon proceedings in the House, frustrating GOP attempts to call witnesses pertaining to the matters Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate — specifically, the Bidens’ business dealings in that country and Kiev’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.

But that changes on the Senate side, where Republicans have the majority and Trump allies chair key committees. Already, they’ve signaled their interest in exploring issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings.

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Public opinion shifts further from favoring impeachment amid public hearingsVideo

This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the natural gas firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.

On the House side, Republicans likewise encountered challenges digging into allegations of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. While Trump has sought to press an unsupported theory that Ukraine was tied to Democratic National Committee hacking, GOP lawmakers have sought details on other issues that are more grounded in published reports — like whether former DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa was improperly digging up dirt on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others with Ukraine’s help at the time.

Democrats did not grant GOP requests to call Biden's son Hunter, Chalupa and others on the House side.

But while it’s unclear if Senate Republicans will at least attempt to call these and other witnesses, high-ranking members are showing their early interest in exploring the issues.

Aside from the Graham letter, Senate Oversight Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have penned a letter to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration to request records of multiple White House meetings that took place in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives and Democratic National Committee officials.

GRAHAM DEMANDS DOCUMENTS ON UKRAINE, BIDENS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FROM 2016

Johnson and Grassley wrote that during a meeting in 2016, officials “brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings.” The senators added that a Ukrainian political officer working in the Ukraine Embassy in Washington said U.S. officials in that meeting asked that "Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.”

They added that White House records revealed that Chalupa had attended “numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with President Obama.”

The new requests from Senate Republicans come as the House ended its series of scheduled hearings on Thursday. The Intelligence Committee could announce additional hearings and depositions, but at this time, nothing has been scheduled.

The committee may now write and transmit its report to the House Judiciary Committee, which could begin writing articles of impeachment ahead of a floor vote.

“What the House ends up passing will drive a lot of what we end up doing over here,” a senior Republican aide familiar with the ongoing discussions told Fox News Friday.

The aide told Fox News that the White House made a “positive” and “significant” development this week, as officials indicated “what they want” for the trial.

In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.

“It is impossible for us to come up with contours for impeachment without input from the White House,” the aide said. “Their input is a very positive step so we can try to control this as much as possible.”

The White House, on Thursday, signaled that they would like a Senate trial to last no longer than two weeks. The impeachment of former President Bill Clinton lasted for six weeks.

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

“We all want speedy,” the aide said. “This is the first indication the White House has given and that’s a positive — before it was radio silence from them, and now they’re starting to indicate what they want this thing to look like.”

The aide explained that the Senate, once they receive articles of impeachment, will begin working on two resolutions — one that governs the timeline of the trial, and the other that sets up witnesses for closed-door depositions, as well as which witness will be required to testify on the stand.

The aide explained that the resolutions are “significant,” noting that they will “be the main avenue that evidence is admitted.”

The aide suggested that Republican senators like Graham, Grassley and Johnson could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial.

Graham: I will insist Senate calls on whistleblower to testifyVideo

A senior administration official, though, claimed Friday there’s “ample reasons” for the Senate to simply dismiss the case – though GOP senators have indicated that’s unlikely to happen.

Yet the official still maintained it’s “100 percent to our advantage to have [a] full trial” in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said sending articles of impeachment to the Senate was "good news."

“Everyone knows what they’re going to do next. They’re going to impeach the president and send it onto the Senate, but that is the good news. That’s good news,” Stewart said. “In the U.S. Senate, there won’t be any secret testimony or dishonest leadership … or to deny a defense.”

He added: “So we’ll finally be able to get to the truth.”

Stewart went on to list several witnesses he hoped the Senate would call to testify, including the whistleblower, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Hunter Biden, Burisma board member Devon Archer, Chalupa, and Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr.

And the president, himself, seems to be welcoming the trial as well.

“There’s nothing there,” Trump said Friday during an interview with “Fox & Friends,” saying “there should never be an impeachment,” and echoing GOP requests for the whistleblower, Schiff and Hunter Biden to appear as witnesses.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted the 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.

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. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Original Article

Dems could draft 4 articles of impeachment, GOP plans for full Senate trial, sources say

closeChris Wallace: Censure instead of impeachment seems like 'reasonable compromise'Video

Chris Wallace: Censure instead of impeachment seems like 'reasonable compromise'

'Fox News Sunday' anchor Chris Wallace says Democrats standing down on impeachment in favor of a censure might be a more favorable option for lawmakers.

Abuse of power. Bribery. Contempt of Congress. Obstruction of justice.

Those the four potential articles of impeachment that House Judiciary Committee Democrats could draw up against President Trump as soon as next month, Fox News is told, after all scheduled public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee wrapped up on a testy note Thursday.

At a meeting with top GOP senators and Trump administration officials at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Fox News is told there was a consensus that should Trump be impeached by the House, the GOP-controlled Senate should hold a trial rather than tabling the issue.

Reports have surfaced that Republicans were considering even holding a long trial to disrupt the 2020 presidential primaries. Several Democrats seeking to unseat Trump — including Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — are senators who would need to divert at least some of their campaigning time toward a potential trial.

"I think most everybody agreed there's not 51 votes to dismiss it before the managers get to call their case," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News after huddling with other top Republican senators and White House officials. "The idea you would dismiss the trial before they presented the cases is a non-starter. You're not going to get a motion to dismiss."

Adam Schiff calls out attacks, smears on impeachment witnessesVideo

It remained possible the House Intelligence Committee could schedule more hearings, although no additional hearings are expected during Thanksgiving week. Or, the committee could prepare a report on its findings for the House Judiciary Committee — which would have the option of holding its own hearings or simply drafting articles of impeachment outright.

Under a resolution passed by House Democrats on the Rules Committee this past October, Trump and the White House potentially would have more rights to defend themselves in Judiciary Committee hearings. For example, attorneys for the president could participate in such hearings. But, in a bid for leverage, Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would be allowed under the rules to deny "specific requests" by Trump representatives if the White House continued refusing to provide documents or witnesses sought by Democratic investigators.

A possible timetable for impeachment has been unclear. It’s generally thought the Judiciary Committee may hold a "markup" in which it writes articles of impeachment in mid-December. If that were to happen, it's possible the full House could vote on articles of impeachment sometime close to Christmas. That would be a similar timeframe to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton: The House impeached Clinton just before Christmas in 1998. The Senate trial then began in January 1999.

KEY WITNESSES UNDERCUT CLAIMS OF 'QUID PRO QUO' …. DIPLOMAT THEN CLAIMS 'QUID PRO QUO,' BUT ADMITS IT'S BASED ENTIRELY ON HIS PRESUMPTIONS

However, the House theoretically could pass articles of impeachment, but delay a vote to send them to the Senate for consideration — perhaps to delay handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., control over the proceedings.

Graham, coming out of the White House discussion, added that "we didn't talk about" how to mount a case to "defend the president."

Instead, Graham said, the discussion centered around "how would the trial start — you know, they'll make a request for witnesses, but that would have to be granted by the Senate, I guess that's the way we did it before."

Graham continued, "My preference was to try to follow the Clinton model as much as possible."

Clinton was acquitted on both perjury and obstruction counts in February 1999, with each vote falling fall short of the two-thirds majority required for removal.

In the Senate, impeachment procedures would allow witnesses to be called by the president's defense lawyers, GOP senators and a team of House Democrats who essentially would serve as prosecutors. The big catch: Republicans would need enough votes from the 53 GOP senators to muster a majority and prevent Democrats from blocking them.

Assuming Republican senators would stay united — not a guarantee — Trump's defenders could try refocusing the inquiry by seeking testimony from people like Hunter Biden, the son of 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Rep. Hurd: 'I’ve not heard evidence the president committed bribery or extortion'

Rep. Hurd: 'I’ve not heard evidence the president committed bribery or extortion'

Rep. Turner tells Holmes he 'embarrassed' Zelensky by disclosing the 'Zelensky loves your ass' remark

Rep. Turner tells Holmes he 'embarrassed' Zelensky by disclosing the 'Zelensky loves your ass' remark

Devin Nunes presses Fiona Hill over the Steele dossier and its origins

Devin Nunes presses Fiona Hill over the Steele dossier and its origins

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes questions Dr. Fiona Hill, former National Security Council aide, during her public testimony in the House impeachment inquiry.

During his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to a whistleblower complaint touching off the impeachment inquiry, Trump suggested Zelensky investigate Joe Biden's dealings in Ukraine, including the former vice president's successful push to have Ukraine's top prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid while the prosecutor was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board.

Hunter Biden held that lucrative role despite limited expertise while his father oversaw Ukraine policy as vice president. If Senate Republicans could put forward evidence showing the president's concerns about the Bidens' potential corruption were legitimate, they could undercut Democrats' central argument for impeachment.

On Thursday, Graham strongly signaled that Hunter Biden would be a key GOP focus. He sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting documents "related to contacts between Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, other Obama administration officials and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified behind closed doors last month that he and other officials had qualms about Hunter Biden's lucrative role on the board of Burisma at the time.

STATE DEPT OFFICIAL SAYS BIDEN, BURISMA NOT MENTIONED REGARDING AID HOLDUP

"What Republicans want to do is broaden the story," said David Hoppe, who was chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., during Clinton's impeachment trial.

And, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Thursday he'd like Senate testimony from the still-anonymous whistleblower, whose House appearance Democrats have blocked. Cramer said he might also like to hear from both Bidens and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

The White House has signaled it will mount an aggressive defense. "When this goes over to the Senate, you know, the people that actually started this thing, they are going to be put on the stand," Eric Trump, the president's son, told reporters Thursday. He said that would include "heads of the Democratic Party."

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

For his part, Trump has argued that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's testimony before the Intelligence Committee was a total exoneration."I just noticed one thing and that would mean it’s all over," Trump said on the White House lawn before reading from handwritten notes taken during Sondland’s testimony. Sondland testified about a conversation with Trump during which he asked the president what he wanted from Ukraine.

"It was a very short, abrupt conversation," the ambassador said. "He was not in a good mood, and he just said, 'I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.' Something to that effect."

Fox News' Jason Donner, Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump says trade deal with China ‘could happen soon,’ but only if good for US

closeStocks rise despite US-China trade uncertaintyVideo

Stocks rise despite US-China trade uncertainty

Leland and Gillian weigh in on the state of the U.S. economy.

President Trump said on Tuesday that he is hopeful that a trade deal with China will soon be reached amid concerns in the global stock markets over the continuing trade war.

Speaking at the Economic Club of New York, Trump slammed Beijing for having “ransacked” the United States’ economy and jobs, but said that his administration has made a “tremendous amount of progress” in trade talks with China.

“A significant trade deal with China could happen soon, but only if it’s good for the U.S.,” Trump said.

TRUMP STANDS FIRM ON CHINA TRADE WAR AS TALKS POISED TO RESUME, SAYS CRITICS 'DON'T HAVE THE GUTS'

Trump also defended the tariffs his administration has slapped on imports from China, saying that the moves are hurting China’s economy and not U.S. consumers.

“We’re taking millions and millions of dollars in tariffs that China is paying for,” he said.

Trump’s speech came amid a trade war between the two countries that has roiled the international market for months, while straining companies and consumers on both sides.

US-China reach partial trade dealVideo

Trump said recently that the U.S. and China are working to secure a new site to sign a tentative trade truce and the location will be announced soon.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators wanted to finalize the deal in time for Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign it at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile in mid-November. But Chile announced last week that it was canceling the event due to ongoing mass demonstrations.

U.S. and Chinese officials are trying to settle details of the modest trade deal that sidesteps some of the biggest issues dividing the countries.

The world's two biggest economies have wrangled for more than 15 months over U.S. allegations that China steals technology, forces businesses to hand over trade secrets and unfairly subsidizes its technology companies in an aggressive drive to supplant American technological dominance.

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Washington and Beijing have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods in a trade fight that has slowed global economic growth.

When can 'phase two' of the US-China trade deal be expected to be done?Video

On Oct. 11, the sides reached a tentative cease-fire that reassured jittery financial markets. Trump agreed to suspend plans to raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports, and China agreed to buy American farm products. The Trump administration says the Chinese also agreed to do more to protect intellectual property rights.

But nothing was signed Oct. 11, and few details have emerged on the terms of the so-called "phase one" agreement. Chinese leaders have been reluctant to agree to the substantive changes that Washington wants to see. Doing so would likely require scaling back their aspirations to make China a leader in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and driverless cars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Hunter Biden could be collateral damage as Trump impeachment hearings begin

closeDemocrats push back on GOP calls for whistleblower, Hunter Biden to testifyVideo

Democrats push back on GOP calls for whistleblower, Hunter Biden to testify

Democrats are not expected to approve every name on the GOP's impeachment probe witness list; Garrett Tenney reports from Washington.

The Trump impeachment hearings set to launch in full public view this week will give Democrats the chance to make the case for why President Trump should face the prospect of removal from office — but the reputation of Hunter Biden, whose dealings in Ukraine touched off the chain of events leading to this point, could also take a beating by the time the hearings are through.

Republicans signaled their intent to focus on the younger Biden when they sought him as a hearing witness in a letter sent over the weekend. Democrats are unlikely to approve the request, but his conduct may be an unavoidable topic in this week's hearings, given that witnesses' closed-door testimony to date has made clear some in the administration held concerns about his role on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.

REPUBLICANS WANT HUNTER BIDEN, UKRAINE WHISTLEBLOWER AS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY WITNESSES

Even without Hunter Biden in the hearing room, Republicans will be eager to publicly pry into those concerns, if only to offer justification for the act at the heart of the impeachment inquiry: Trump's request for Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden's role, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden's connection to the firing of a prosecutor looking into the firm's founder.

"I think this is absolutely worth looking into," Republican Rep. Michael Waltz, of Florida, said Sunday on Fox News' "America's News HQ," regarding the Hunter Biden controversy. "Yet the mainstream media and the Democrats just want to say 'nothing to see here'."

House impeachment inquiry moves to public phaseVideo

One of the first impeachment witnesses, State Department official George Kent, could be pressed by Republicans about Hunter Biden's work. He is one of two witnesses scheduled for the first day of public hearings Wednesday.

Republicans are likely to zero in on his prior closed-door testimony, where he discussed his concerns about Biden’s work with Burisma, but said he was told it wasn’t appropriate to discuss the matter because of the health struggles of former Vice President Joe Biden’s eldest son, Beau, who died of brain cancer.

According to a transcript of his Oct. 15 deposition released last week, Kent said that in January or February 2015, he “became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board” of Burisma Holdings while his father was overseeing Ukraine policy as vice president to former President Barack Obama.

“I did not know that at the time,” Kent testified. “And when I was on a call with somebody on the vice president’s staff and I cannot recall who it was, just briefing on what was happening into Ukraine, I raised my concerns that I had heard that Hunter Biden was on the board of a company owned by somebody that the U.S. government had spent money trying to get tens of millions of dollars back, and that could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”

After discussing those concerns with Biden’s staff, Kent testified that “the message that I recall hearing back was that the vice president’s son Beau was dying of cancer and that there was no further bandwidth to deal with family-related issues at that time.”

Kent also told congressional investigators that he had repeatedly raised concerns with the Obama administration about Burisma, and also discussed the administration’s efforts to remove Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin from his post. At the time, Shokin was investigating Mykola Zlochevsky, the former minister of ecology and natural resources of Ukraine— also the founder of Burisma.

Shokin was fired in April 2016, and his case was closed by the prosecutor who replaced him, Yuriy Lutsenko (though Ukraine is now reviewing such cases). Biden once famously boasted on camera that when he was vice president and leading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin.

Biden allies, though, maintain that his intervention had nothing to do with his son, but rather was tied to corruption concerns.

House investigators release George Kent's closed-door impeachment inquiry testimonyVideo

Shokin was widely accused of corruption on both sides of the Atlantic. Biden has said that the international community was supportive in pushing for his firing. The former vice president has repeatedly defended himself and his son, saying that neither of them did anything wrong when it came to work in Ukraine.

"My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong," Biden said during a Democratic primary debate in October. "I carried out the policy of the United States government, which was to root out corruption in Ukraine and that's what we should be focusing on."

He added: “Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven they are flat-out lying."

Hunter Biden has also defended his role, saying he did nothing improper, while acknowledging that it was "poor judgment" to have joined Burisma's board.

“I know I did nothing wrong at all. Was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways? Yeah,” the younger Biden said last month.

The Biden family actions in Ukraine, along with a separate issue connected to 2016 election interference, were at the core of what Trump wanted investigated out of Kiev. Trump's now-famous July phone call in which he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch the investigations prompted a whistleblower complaint and, in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and some witnesses have cited as a quid pro quo arrangement.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TOLD CONGRESS HE RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT HUNTER BIDEN'S UKRAINE DEALINGS IN 2015 BUT WAS IGNORED

The whistleblower’s complaint also stated their concerns that Trump was soliciting a foreign power to influence the 2020 presidential election — a concern that U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor directly testified to last month.

House investigators release transcript of Amb. Bill Taylor's impeachment testimonyVideo

Taylor, during his closed-door deposition, testified that he “understood that the reason for investigating Burisma was to cast Vice President Biden in a bad light,” Taylor testified, adding that it would benefit “a political campaign for the reelection of President Trump.”

Taylor is expected to testify with Kent on Wednesday as part of the first round of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

Meanwhile, in a letter penned by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Republicans have also proposed Hunter Biden’s former longtime business partner, Devon Archer, as a witness, claiming he could help to understand “the nature and extent of Ukraine’s pervasive corruption” which could provide “information that bears directly on President Trump’s longstanding and deeply-held skepticism of the country.”

But according to formal rules for the impeachment inquiry passed last month, Democrats have final say over witnesses.

Even outside the impeachment inquiry process, GOP lawmakers are amplifying concerns over the younger Biden’s business dealings. Last week, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, taking issue with Biden and Archer’s roles on the board of Burisma.

“Emails recently obtained and made public through a FOIA request indicate that Burisma’s consulting firm used Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board to gain access and potentially influence matters at the State Department,” they wrote, further requesting State Department information related to Biden and Archer’s work.

They cited a 2016 email, first reported by Fox News contributor John Solomon, from a State Department official describing a request for a meeting from a Burisma representative — the request name-dropped Hunter Biden.

“She noted that two high-profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member)," the email said, saying the representative wanted to get "a better understanding of how the U.S. came to the determination that the company is corrupt" while arguing there was no evidence of corruption.

Meanwhile, on Friday former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich is expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in public. Yovanovich has previously told congressional investigators as part of the probe that former Vice President Biden never "raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden" with her.

Original Article

New Hampshire’s undeclared voters could become ‘silent majority’ in Dem primary

closeNew Hampshire's undeclared voters could become 'silent majority' in Dem primaryVideo

New Hampshire's undeclared voters could become 'silent majority' in Dem primary

The first-in-the-nation primary could be decided by independent or undeclared voters fed up with partisan politics, some argue.

MANCHESTER, N.H. – They say they're fed up with the partisan dysfunction in Washington – and their votes could be pivotal for Democratic hopefuls.

About 1,500 independent, moderate, and undeclared voters converged on the Problem Solver Convention on Sunday in Manchester, N.H. – with the first-in-the-nation primary a little over three months away.

About 42 percent – a plurality of New Hampshire voters – are registered as undeclared, according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State's voter rolls. Under the state's rules, undeclared voters can choose to vote in either party's primary – meaning there's a potential for a different kind of February surprise.

"There's really a silent majority of people out there who are not partisan and really are yearning for people in Washington to get together," said former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was a Democrat before becoming an independent during his last term in office. Lieberman, who helped organize the convention as chairman of the organization No Labels, said he is now a registered Democrat.

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY GETS REAL AS CANDIDATES FLOCK TO FILE BEFORE DEADLINE

In the 2016 campaign, President Trump gave a stump speech at the Problem Solver Convention. This cycle, presidential candidates Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, John Delaney, and Republican Bill Weld made their pitch to voters.

"Year after year, it gets worse and less gets done," Gabbard said of the partisan gridlock in D.C. "It's more about which party can angle the best to take back more seats in the next election."

Lieberman said as a registered Democrat, he's concerned about how the primary race has shifted the party further to the left – adding that the ongoing impeachment inquiry will only serve to intensify bitter political divisions.

"In the middle of an already partisan, divided, unproductive political system," Lieberman said, "it's only going to make it worse."

Moderate voters at the convention seemed to agree – pushing both parties to work together to find common ground.

PARTISAN DYSFUNCTION DRIVES DEMAND FOR NEW CHOICE

"It's extreme left on the Democratic side and extreme right on the Republican side," said Ken Tentarelli, a longtime independent voter from Newbury, N.H. "Unfortunately, the middle doesn't really have much of a voice."

Lieberman thinks the primary contest could change that.

"Independent voters are going to the [Democratic] primary," Lieberman said. "I think they're going to determine who wins."

But Professor Andrew Smith, a pollster at the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, doesn't think there really is such a thing as an independent voter in this hyperpartisan day in age.

"The truth is the independents in New Hampshire are a myth," Smith said. "There aren't anymore independent or independent-minded voters than there are in any other state in the country."

Indeed, the data shows that most undeclared do consistently vote either Republican or Democrat, Smith said.

"You can't rely on those undeclared or independent voters here to win the primary. Nobody's done that," Smith said. "Factions and parties want to motivate their bases in primaries."

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

Come next November, none of the independent voters Fox News spoke to could see themselves voting for a third-party candidate.

"I'm not going to go for a third-party candidate," said New Hampshire moderate voter Frank Stama. "That's just the way to dilute your vote. You know, you're better off not voting than to dilute your vote."

Original Article

Tight Kentucky gubernatorial race could be bellwether for Mitch McConnell

closeHow Kentucky's Gubernatorial race could be Mitch McConnell’s litmus testVideo

How Kentucky's Gubernatorial race could be Mitch McConnell’s litmus test

All eyes are on Kentucky's Gubernatorial Election where the latest Mason Dixie Poll in Kentucky shows that Republican incumbent Matt Bevin and his Democratic challenger Andy Beshear are tied at 46 percent.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As voters head to the polls in Kentucky's gubernatorial contest on Tuesday, Democrats say the results could be a bellwether for what's shaping up to be a closely watched race in 2020: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reelection campaign.

Kentucky is one of only three states electing a governor this year. Polls indicate a tight contest between Republican incumbent Mike Bevin and Democratic challenger Andy Beshear: the latest Mason Dixon Poll in Kentucky shows Bevin and Beshear tied at 46 percent.

Some Democrats, though, are looking ahead to the state's Senate race in 2020 — where they dream of ousting the longtime Kentucky senator and Republican Senate leader — despite his history of beating back Democratic challengers.

TRUMP IS NOT ON THE BALLOT, BUT HE'S FRONT-AND-CENTER IN THIS MONTH’S KEY GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

A tight race to Democratic voters like Susan Jarl translates into a competitive race against McConnell, who, like President Trump, will be on the ballot next year.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell: The missions of our service members do not pause for partisan politicsVideo

“We have to first get past this step in the state because it’s so important what happens at the state and local level," Jarl told Fox News. "Then come back and get Mitch McConnell and Trump out next year. It would be a miracle and such a blessing.”

A spokesman for McConnell did not immediately return a request for comment.

McConnell is the longest-serving Republican Senate leader in history and has been reelected six times. A well-funded challenge by Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes garnered national attention in 2014, but McConnell handily defeated her by 15 points that year.

McConnell’s history, however, hasn’t stopped Democratic opponents from emerging, including retired Marine pilot Amy McGrath. She raised $10 million in just 24 hours of announcing she would run against the Senate majority leader.

But politics professor Dewey Clayton at the University of Louisville said that it’s ambitious for Democrats to equate Kentucky’s close gubernatorial race to the Senate race in 2020.

REPUBLICAN GOV. MATT BEVIN AIMS TO MAKE KENTUCKY HISTORY WITH THIS YEAR’S RE-ELECTION BID

“McConnell is a seasoned politician and even though he's considered to be unpopular, he has deep roots here,” Clayton said. “He knows how to win elections, he knows how to help others winning an election, and he's been in office so long, he helped turn this state from being basically a blue state into being a red state.”

And Republican voters agree.

“I think we’re seeing a trend in our country where we are getting tired of some of the old politicians and I think a lot of us are looking for a change but I support Mitch McConnell,” Kentucky voter Eric Titus said.

His campaign manager Kevin Golden, however, told Roll Call: “Leader McConnell and our campaign have been focused on making sure that Governor Bevin, [state attorney general nominee] Daniel Cameron and the rest of the Republican ticket are successful on election night.”

It's clear McConnell is preparing for a fight: so far he has about $9 million cash on hand for his re-election bid in 2020.

Original Article

Trump: Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal could imperil future trade with UK

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 31Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 31

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 31 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

President Trump warned that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would hamper trade between the U.S. and U.K.

Trump was interviewed by phone on Thursday by Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party and rival of Johnson in the upcoming election on December 12.

The president said that a U.S.-U.K. trade deal would be impossible under the current terms of Brexit, which Johnson reached with the European Union.

“We want to do trade with the U.K. and they want to do trade with us. And to be honest with you, this deal, under certain aspects of the deal, you can’t do it,” Trump told Farage on his radio show on London station LBC, according to the Wall Street Journal. “You can’t trade. We can’t make a trade deal with the U.K.”

'BUMBLING' BORIS JOHNSON SHOWS HIS RUTHLESS STREAK WITH DRAMATIC STEP CLOSE TO SEALING BREXIT

The British government, however, has said that under Johnson’s Brexit agreement, the U.K. would be removed from the EU’s customs area and it would be free of the EU’s regulations, allowing it to sign bilateral trade deals with the U.S. and other countries.

UK PARLIAMENT AGREES TO DEC. 12 ELECTION, AHEAD OF EU'S NEW BREXIT DEADLINE

Trump's appearance on Farage’s show sends a mixed political signal, as Trump and Johnson have typically been closely aligned. Johnson’s left-wing rival, Jeremy Corbyn, accused him in August of intending to lead the U.K. “straight into the arms” of Trump. Farage’s Brexit party criticizes Johnson from the right, calling for an abrupt split from the union rather than any sort of agreement.

On Thursday, Johnson on Twitter accused Trump of “ trying to interfere in UK election to get his friend Boris Johnson elected” after Trump said that Johnson would be “so bad” for Britain if elected.

Britain agreed Wednesday to hold a general election on Dec. 12 in an effort to shake up Parliament and break the months-long Brexit stalemate. The European Union has extended Britain's Brexit deadline to Jan. 31.

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Even so, Trump said Johnson is a “fantastic man” who is “exactly the right guy for the times.” He said he’d like to see an electoral pact between Johnson’s Conservatives and Farage’s Brexit Party, saying the two together would be an “unstoppable force.” Neither party has indicated such a deal is on the table.

Original Article

Tainted beef: How the meat you buy could be supporting Venezuela’s socialist regime

closeAmerican farmers getting crushed by corruption from imported beef monopolyVideo

American farmers getting crushed by corruption from imported beef monopoly

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are leading a push to investigate Joesley and Wesley Batista. The senators sent a letter to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin to request a formal review of the transactions of Brazilian meat-processing conglomerate, JBS S.A. Angela Huffman, the Communications and Research Director for the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), spoke to Fox News about JBS S.A. and its impact on American farmers.

America’s farmers and ranchers are applauding a bipartisan push to formally review a meat-processing conglomerate's apparent illicit dealings and whether its products are helping support Venezuela’s Socialist regime.

Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., are spearheading a push to investigate Joesley and Wesley Batista. The senators sent a letter to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Oct. 8 requesting a formal review of the transactions of Brazilian meat-processing conglomerate, JBS S.A.

The Batistas are the controlling shareholders of two prominent U.S. companies, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride. JBS USA is one of the four largest meat protein producers in the U.S. JBS USA purchased the American beef and pork processing company Swift Foods Co. in 2007 and in 2015 it purchased Cargill’s pork processing operations.

Operation Car Wash, a sweeping investigation by Brazilian authorities into corruption in the country, exposed the Batista brothers’ role in orchestrating a vast corruption and bribery scandal. The Batista brothers entered into a plea bargain and admitted to bribing over 1,800 politicians, including former Brazilian presidents Michel Temer, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Dilma Rousseff.

BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT SUGGESTS LESS POOPING TO HELP SAVING ENVIRONMENT

The Batista brothers have grown parallel business interests in Venezuela, a country deemed to be a geopolitical adversary by the Trump administration. They are reportedly closely connected to Diosdado Cabello, the president of the Nicolás Maduro-backed Venezuelan National Assembly, through a $2.1 billion meat and poultry contract negotiated in person at Joesley Batista’s home in 2015. Further, it was reported that Cabello put out an assassination order against Rubio, according to U.S. intelligence

Senators Rubio and Menendez highlighted these national security concerns in their letter to Mnuchin.

“JBS S.A. globally has conducted business with a range of dubious partners, including the Venezuelan Corporation of Foreign Trade (CORPOVEX), which was identified by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in September 2017 for its involvement in public corruption,” wrote Rubio and Menendez. “Investigative reporting has documented that Venezuela’s food procurement practices are rife with bribery. The Batista brothers’ personal relationship with sanctioned Venezuelan official Diosdado Cabello only raises further concerns.”

Joesley (left) and Wesley Batista are the controlling shareholders of two prominent U.S. companies, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride.

Joesley (left) and Wesley Batista are the controlling shareholders of two prominent U.S. companies, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride. (Andre Coelho: Bloomberg /Getty Images)

In a statement to Fox News in response to the senators' letter to Mnuchin, JBS US maintained that it is a positive force in U.S. agriculture, and that it has been transparent with U.S. investigators.

"JBS has fully cooperated with all the relevant authorities in the United States regarding events that took place in Brazil in the past," its statement to Fox News said. "The company will continue to cooperate and respond to any subsequent inquiries.

"JBS USA is an important American employer, providing over 62,000 jobs, the majority of which are unionized, and partnering with more than 11,800 farmers, ranchers and poultry producers. The company plays a critical role in U.S. agricultural communities, creating opportunities for rural farmers and ranchers who depend on our business to transform their livestock and poultry into products that consumers trust and enjoy."

Angela Huffman, the Communications and Research Director for the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), in an exclusive interview with Fox News, echoed the senators’ concern regarding Venezuela. Large American brands like Costco, Walmart, KFC, and Publix continue to carry and use their products, while large investors like BlackRock and Capital hold major stakes in these companies.

VENEZUELANS BARTERING FOOD, CIGARETTES TO PAY FOR GAS AMID INFLATION

“Americans could be inadvertently supporting JBS' dealings in Venezuela,” Huffman said. “That's the problem with these global giants. You're supporting a foreign corporation and its influence around the world when you're buying JBS products.”

Rubio and Menendez also accused the Batista brothers of building their U.S. empire and harming American farmers through bribery and corruption in their letter.

“We are troubled that JBS S.A. used the ill-gotten financing that it received from BNDES, which totaled more than $1.3 billion, to acquire American companies,” wrote Rubio and Menendez. “It has been reported that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation on J&F Investimentos for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which only underscores our concerns that the questionable nature of JBS S.A.’s financial practices poses significant risks for its American subsidiaries and the U.S. food system.”

Huffman lauded the bipartisan effort, and reinforced the concerns raised by the senators’ letter on how JBS is harming the health of American citizens and the financial security of American farmers and ranchers.

"Senators Rubio and Menendez are urging the Trump Administration to investigate. JBS, and we applaud them for this effort,” said Huffman. “In 2017, JBS was caught exporting rotten meat worldwide, and covering up the stench, using cancer-causing acid products. They again used bribery to get this meat past food safety officials, and just last year, JBS admitted to cheating America's farmers and ranchers by paying them less than the real value for their cattle at three separate beef processing plants. This amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses per farmer. And this is just when they've gotten caught.”

Back in 2017, Brazilian investigators charged that health inspectors were bribed to overlook the sale of expired meats. Police also allege that the appearance and smell of expired meats was improved by using chemicals and cheaper products like water and manioc flour.

Huffman underscored the potential danger the Batista’s monopoly on meat posed to national security.

“More than 80 percent of the beef industry in the United States is controlled by just four corporations and two of those are Brazilian corporations,” explained Huffman. “So the growing trend of foreign investment in our food system really demands increased attention and scrutiny in order to safeguard our nation's food supply.”

JBS responded to the criticism by touting its role as “an important American employer, providing more than 60,000 jobs and partnering with more than 11,000 U.S. farmers, ranchers and poultry producers.”

However, a review of court records finds that JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride have numerous lawsuits and complaints pending against them filed by American ranchers as well as their own employees.

The lawsuits range from accusations including violations of federal laws and workplace ordinances to anti-competitive behavior, such as price-fixing and employer misconduct. Huffman argued that the JBS meat monopoly leaves American farmers with little choice. Jonathan Buttram, the president of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association and OCM board member, echoed Huffman’s sentiments.

"JBS’ Pilgrim’s Pride is the worse of the worst,” said Buttram. “They act like terrorists with their abusive tactics. When I became President of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, JBS began a process of harassment that ultimately led to their terminating my contracts and putting my family in near bankruptcy. Since then I have counseled numerous farmers who have considered suicide because of JBS’ continued harassment and abuses."

Steve Krajicek is a small, independent cattle feeder living in Nebraska. He is among the ranchers impacted by JBS’ business practices.

“It’s a monopoly, we’ve got all the disadvantages,” said Krajicek. “The farmer is forced to bear all the risk, and the packer controls all the process. Farmers are at their mercy. JBS’ track record is to do everything they can to get everything they can.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

For the full interview with Communications and Research Director for the Organization for Competitive Markets Angela Huffman, watch the full interview above.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Warren agrees Medicare-for-All could result in two million jobs lost: ‘This is part of the cost issue’

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 30Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 30

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 30 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Wednesday that she agrees with a University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist who concluded a Medicare-for-All health care plan could result in substantial job losses, calling it "part of the cost issue."

Robert Pollin of UMass' Political Economy Research Institute told Kaiser Health News earlier this year that most of the job losses would hit administrative positions — about half among insurers and half in hospitals and doctors' offices.

Warren was made aware of Pollin's conclusions during an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS RELEASE PLAN IN BID TO FULFILL TRUMP PROMISE AS 'PARTY OF HEALTH CARE'

“So, I agree," replied Warren. "I think this is part of the cost issue and should be part of a cost plan.

"Although do recognize on this what we're talking about, and that is in effect, how much of our health care dollars have not gone to health care?" she added.

Pollin said supporters of the ambitious health care overhaul would have to think about a "just transition" and what "it would look like" when implemented.

Medicare-for-All has become a point of contention among Democrats vying for the White House. Warren has come pressure from her presidential rivals to explain how she would raise the necessary $30 trillion over 10 years to fund the plan.

BUTTIGIEG, KLOBUCHAR SLAM WARREN FOR NOT SAYING HOW SHE’LL FINANCE 'MEDICARE-FOR-ALL

She failed to answer whether middle-class taxes would increase under her plan during this month's Democratic debate in Ohio and has side-stepped similar questions on the campaign trail.

Warren told McDermott she plans to release a detailed plan soon.

<br>Video

"We will see, most likely, rich people's costs go up, corporations costs go up, but the cost to middle-class families will go down," she said. "I will not sign any legislation into law for which costs for middle-class families do not go down."

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A bipartisan study indicates it will be impossible to finance Warren's plan using only taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has said taxes will increase “for virtually everybody" but will ultimately cost less than what workers are currently paying "for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses."

Fox News' Tyler Olson and David Montanaro contributed to this report.

Original Article

Who could be in Durham’s investigative crosshairs? Obama-era figures have reason to sweat

closeSources: Durham probe now a criminal investigationVideo

Sources: Durham probe now a criminal investigation

Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe says the Justice Department was used by the Obama administration to go after their enemies.

A number of former high-level Obama administration officials could fall into the investigative crosshairs of U.S. Attorney John Durham's team as his probe into the handling of the Russia investigation rises to the level of a criminal inquiry.

The elevation in status means the U.S. attorney for Connecticut will be able to subpoena witnesses, file charges and impanel grand juries.

TRUMP SAYS 'INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS' AS DURHAM PROBE TOUCHES OFF NEW WAR IN CONGRESS

“You do not impanel a grand jury at this point unless you are going to indict,” a source familiar with the investigation told Fox News. “Durham is at a point where he knows he has crimes and now the question is how many people were involved and they have a pretty good idea of that group of people and what the charges can be and whether or not they can get some cooperators.”

The development has prompted allegations from Democrats that the Department of Justice is being politicized. Attorney General Bill Barr, however, rejected those claims and defended the Durham probe in an interview earlier this week with Fox News, while accusing the James Comey-era FBI brass of a "failure of leadership."

Those bureau leaders and others could well be questioned as part of Durham's probe, as speculation runs rampant over who might be at risk of being charged.

For his part, Comey was asked about Durham’s investigation at the recent Politicon convention in Nashville. He said he's “not worried about a single thing in connection with any of the matters under investigation.”

“Gather the facts, write a report and share it with the American people — please do that,” Comey said. “Don’t drip it out. Don’t leak it out. Give it out. And I’m confident that when the American people see the picture of why we did what we did, their confidence in the institution will be maintained, restored and protected.”

Comey also praised Durham as someone who has “a strong professional reputation” and someone he has “for years thought was an excellent prosecutor."

“I would hope Mr. Durham will do everything possible to protect his reputation from being damaged by those in leadership, and the most important way he can do that is give us transparency,” he continued.

One source told Fox News that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s forthcoming report, which will focus on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in connection with the early stages of the Russia probe, will shed light on why Durham’s investigation has become a criminal inquiry.

Horowitz, for more than a year and a half, has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Justice Department and the FBI obtained warrants during the final months of the Obama administration in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump campaign official that the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.

How will the IG report on Comey impact the FISA abuse report?Video

With regard to Page’s FISA application, there was “one initial FISA warrant” targeting his and three other renewals from the FISC. The statute requires that every 90 days a FISA order on an American citizen “must be reviewed.”

Former FBI Director Comey signed three FISA applications for Page, while former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente signed at least one, according to a House Republican memo filed last year.

One source told Fox News that it would be a “necessity” for Durham to interview the majority of those officials as part of his probe.

EXPANSIVE DURHAM PROBE COULD GIVE TRUMP AMMO AMID IMPEACHMENT FIGHT

Brennan, Clapper security clearances in WH crosshairsVideo

Meanwhile, Fox News has learned that Durham is “very interested” in questioning former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. According to a source familiar with the situation, Brennan has received word from his attorney that he may be contacted by Durham’s office, but Clapper has received no such communication at this time.

A prominent Trump critic, Brennan continues to take swipes at the president amid the impeachment inquiry over allegations he improperly pressured Ukraine to launch politically helpful investigations. After Trump questioned the account of a witness who this week voiced concerns about those conversations, Brennan tweeted: "As in previous times of National peril, we rely on our military, diplomats, intelligence officials, law enforcement officers, & other courageous patriots to protect our liberties, freedom, & democracy. May they stay resolute & strong despite corrupt political headwinds they face."

Because Durham’s investigation is focused on a timeline spanning from the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election through the spring of 2017, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok will likely be seen as another key figure. Strzok, on July 31, 2016, officially opened the FBI’s initial Russia investigation.

New Strzok-Page texts suggest intelligence agencies leaked informationVideo

In a separate review led by Horowitz, politically charged text messages between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page were revealed. Page was also involved in the early stages of the bureau’s Russia probe, and she and Strzok both later served on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to investigate Russian meddling and alleged collusion with members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Strzok's role has also come under question regarding the original interview of former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to giving false statements concerning his discussions with Russia's ambassador. His lawyer recently alleged that official FBI files on that interview were manipulated.

Prosecutors have cast doubt on these allegations, though, saying in a Tuesday filing: "In an extraordinary reversal, the defendant now claims that he is innocent of the criminal charge in this case" and "makes this claim despite having admitted his guilt, under oath, before two federal judges."

Also, as part of his probe, Durham has traveled with Attorney General Barr to Italy and had conversations with law enforcement officials in the U.K. and Australia about their investigation, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.

AG Barr confident Durham will get to bottom of Russia probe originsVideo

The team is “gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

This week, during an exclusive interview with Fox News, Barr said that while he’s assisting in connecting Durham with countries that could have valuable information, Durham is running the show.

“He is in charge of the investigation, I’m not doing the investigation,” Barr said, calling Durham “thorough and fair.”

“Some of the countries that John Durham thought might have some information that would be helpful to the investigation wanted preliminarily to talk to me about the scope of the investigation, the nature of the investigation, and how I intended to handle confidential information and so forth,” Barr said. “So I initially discussed these matters with those countries and introduced them to John Durham and established a channel by which Mr. Durham can obtain assistance from those countries.”

But Democrats have blasted Durham’s investigation, and taken direct aim at Barr.

“The Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a joint statement after learning Durham’s probe had become a criminal inquiry. “If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.”

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner also spoke out against Durham’s probe, saying Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee “is wrapping up a three-year bipartisan investigation, and we’ve found nothing remotely justifying this.”

He called on Barr to testify before Congress.

In response to such criticism, Barr said, "It wouldn't be appropriate at this stage for me to discuss the Durham investigation." He said he'd "certainly inform the public and Congress" when possible.

As for the direction of the investigation, he said: "We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”

Fox News' Jake Gibson and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

Original Article

Tulsi Gabbard rips lack of transparency in impeachment inquiry, says it could ‘undermine integrity’ of the process

closeTulsi Gabbard speaks at Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women SummitVideo

Tulsi Gabbard speaks at Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard makes remarks. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was invited to the event but has since backed out.

Democratic 2020 hopeful Tulsi Gabbard criticized the lack of transparency in her own party’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Tuesday night, Gabbard said a lack of clarity could “undermine the integrity” of the investigation.

“Pursuing impeachment for partisan reasons is bad for our country,” she said. “It will be extremely divisive for an already divided country. I looked at the complaint and was very concerned. We need to get to the bottom of it."

CLINTON-GABBARD CLASH RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT 2016 DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE'S ROLE IN 2020

Bernie Sanders, President Trump back Tulsi Gabbard in feud with Hillary ClintonVideo

GABBARD SAYS SHE'S OPEN TO FACE-TO-FACE MEETING WITH CLINTON

“There needs to be a transparent and narrowly focused inquiry — I am disappointed with the lack of transparency," she said. "They have been behind closed doors."

“That has the potential to undermine the integrity of a nonpartisan investigation,” the congresswoman explained.

Gabbard’s appearance came just after she fired the latest shot in her ongoing feud with Hillary Clinton.

In a new campaign video released Tuesday, Gabbard assailed Clinton, calling for her to "acknowledge the damage you've caused" and "step down from your throne."

The video is Gabbard's latest response to Clinton's suggestion that Gabbard was a Russian asset and "favorite of the Russians" in a recent interview.

Clinton also claimed that Russia was "grooming her to be the third-party candidate" in reference to Gabbard's 2020 candidacy.

CLINTON ADMONISHES TRUMP AFTER HE URGES HER TO RUN AGAIN, SAYING 'DON'T TEMPT ME'

Tulsi Gabbard slams claim she's a Russian assetVideo

"Hillary, your foreign policy was a disaster for our country and the world — resulting in the deaths and injuries of so many of my brothers and sisters in uniform, devastating entire countries, millions of lives lost, refugee crises," and more, Gabbard said.

"Yet despite the damage you have done to our country and the world, you want to continue your failed policies directly or indirectly through the Democratic nominee."

She added: "It's time for you to acknowledge the damage you have caused and apologize for it. It is long past time for you to step down from your throne so the Democratic Party can lead with a new foreign policy which will actually be in the interests of and benefit the American people and the world."

Gabbard, an Army veteran who served in the Iraq War, had Monday said she's open to having a "face-to-face" with Clinton. This, after fellow presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and spiritual author Marianne Williamson pushed back on Clinton's unfounded suggestion that she's a secret Russian asset.

AB STODDARD SAYS HILLARY CLINTON'S 'THIRST FRO REVENGE IS UNQUENCHABLE'

President Trump on Monday also weighed in, telling reporters, "She's [Clinton] accusing everyone of being a Russian agent."

Original Article

Expansive Durham probe could give Trump ammo amid impeachment fight

closeJohn Durham expands his Russian origin probeVideo

John Durham expands his Russian origin probe

Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker says he has heard that not only the timeline of John Durham’s scope into the Russian origin investigation but his staff has increased as well.

U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the intelligence and law enforcement communities' handling of the Russia probe is quietly but steadily expanding under the shadow of the high-profile House impeachment inquiry against President Trump—and could represent something of a wild card in the president’s attempts to fight back.

Attorney General Bill Barr appointed Durham, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut, to ensure intelligence collection activities by the U.S. government related to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign were “lawful and appropriate.”

WHERE IS THE FISA REPORT? ANTICIPATION BUILDS AS DOJ WATCHDOG STILL HASN'T RELEASED REVIEW

His probe reportedly will soon focus on the roles of key Obama administration intelligence officials like John Brennan and James Clapper. And it converges with other simultaneous investigations, including Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s probe of alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, which, coupled together, could give the president ammunition to attack his critics, even if the material does not directly relate to the Ukraine controversy fueling the impeachment push.

“If the rumors are true that IG Horowitz’s report and findings in Durham’s review will blast the conduct of the FBI’s Russia investigation, it will give Trump a lot of ammo to support his argument that he was unjustly targeted then and is being unjustly targeted now,” a House GOP source told Fox News on Tuesday. “It will justify Trump’s warnings about the Deep State acting to hobble his presidency.”

Trump claimed Tuesday that the impeachment push amounted to a "lynching" — which touched off a round of fiery condemnation from Democratic critics.

“The president should not compare a constitutionally mandated impeachment inquiry to such a dangerous and dark chapter in American history,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters.

But as Trump and Democrats loudly clash over the probe, Durham has pressed forward quietly with an investigation that could ding the reputations of some of Trump's biggest critics.

Durham was appointed to review the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and through Trump’s January 20, 2017 inauguration. But Fox News has learned that he's since expanded his investigation to cover a post-election timeline spanning the spring of 2017—when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel.

Durham is “gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, who also acknowledged that Trump has helped to facilitate communications for Barr and Durham with foreign powers.

“At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” Kupec said last month.

Barr and Durham have already traveled to Italy to speak with law enforcement officials, and have also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the probe, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.

TRUMP CALLS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY 'LYNCHING,' CLAIMS PROCESS PUTS FUTURE PRESIDENTS AT RISK

Durham also has reportedly expressed interest in interviewing several current and former intelligence officials. Former CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News that Durham plans to interview him and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

A spokesman for Clapper did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Meanwhile, Horowitz is expected to release his long-awaited review of alleged FISA abuses by the Department of Justice and the FBI during the Russia investigation—there has been speculation that his report could drop any day.

Horowitz, for more than a year and a half, has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Justice Department and FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump campaign official that the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.

Horowitz’s highly anticipated findings could spark new congressional investigations and deliver critical information to Durham’s probe.

Horowitz has been probing how the salacious anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016, as well as three renewals. Horowitz also has looked into why the FBI may have regarded Steele – funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie – a credible source, and why the bureau used news reports to bolster Steele’s credibility before the FISA court.

“As soon as Horowitz is done with his review of the FISA warrant application, the counterintelligence investigation, the Trump campaign, we’ll have a hearing in public with Horowitz and we’ll call a bunch of witnesses,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox Business Network’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Graham has vowed to probe alleged FISA abuses at the start of the Russia investigation, saying earlier this year that his Senate committee would look for answers on how much money the Democrats paid research firm Fusion GPS to commission the dossier compiled by Steele, or if the contents of the dossier have been verified.

It is unclear if Graham, amid the House impeachment inquiry, has begun this investigation. But Graham has said that he could call on Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former FBI Director James Comey to appear before his panel.

The president and his allies are already touting the progress being made by Durham, and are hoping Horowitz’s report will provide new fodder to counter impeachment talk.

“Democrats are afraid that the reports will validate what the president has been saying for years—his enemies in Congress are so desperate to undo the results of the 2016 election that they will manufacture conspiracies and sell them to the American people,” a senior Republican aide told Fox News on Tuesday.

Trump has the authority to declassify and release as much of the report as he wants, and has been hyping its forthcoming release.

“I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe, the level of corruption—whether it’s [James] Comey; whether it’s [Peter] Strzok and his lover, [Lisa] Page; whether it’s so many other people—[Andrew] McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself,” Trump told reporters last week.

“Let’s see whether or not it’s President Obama. Let’s see whether or not they put that in,” he added.

The president has sought to shift focus on the current impeachment inquiry in the House to potential misconduct that could be found in these ongoing investigations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the formal process last month, following revelations surrounding the president’s summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he pressed for politically charged investigations.

As detailed in a whistleblower complaint and transcript of the call, Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over their dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why the elder Biden pressured the former Ukrainian president to fire a top prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas firm where Hunter sat on the board.

The president’s request also came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, something critics have cited as evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement. The White House and the president’s allies have denied a quid pro quo — though Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to say otherwise, before walking it back — and the Bidens have maintained that they did “nothing wrong.”

Fox News' Jake Gibson, Bret Baier, and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Original Article