Trump blasts ‘Crooked Hillary’ for ignoring swing-state Michigan in 2016, ponders her 2020 run

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President Trump used Wednesday night's rally in Michigan as a chance to take aim at his 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton, as well as a slew of other Democrats, as the U.S. House back in Washington voted along party lines to impeach him.

Trump addressed thousands of supporters who waited out in the cold to attend his “Merry Christmas” rally in Battle Creek. About 40 minutes after the rally began, the Democrat-controlled House voted – without any Republican support – to impeach Trump for "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress" related to his dealings with Ukraine.

HILLARY CLINTON SAYS TRUMP IMPEACHMENT MAKES 2020 ELECTION 'MORE COMPLICATED'

“The radical left in Congress is consumed with hatred and envy and rage. You see what's going on. I'll tell you, these people are crazy. You ever hear it's the economy, stupid?” Trump said, touting the country’s successful economy before pivoting to Clinton.

“I have the greatest economy in the history of this country. And nobody talks about it,” Trump said. “Let me just tell you a little secret. If Crooked Hillary would have won, your economy would have crashed.”

Trump also suggested that Bill Clinton calls his wife “Crooked Hillary” – and further scolded her for ignoring Bill's advice to visit key swing states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, during the 2016 presidential election.

“You horrible human being, you better start listening to me, or you’re gonna get your a– whooped,” Trump said, imagining a conversation between the Clintons.

“In all fairness to Bill Clinton, you know, he used to be a friend of mine until I ran for office,” Trump added.

According to Trump, Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama made last-ditch attempts to win over voters with an “emergency trip” to Michigan on Election Day – generating a crowd of only about 500 people.

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Trump claimed that about 2,000 people — who had lined up in the cold to see him Wednesday — were turned away because the arena could accommodate only about 5,500 people.

Original Article

Paul Manafort’s state fraud charges dismissed, New York judge cites double jeopardy

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IG report reveals Paul Manafort was under investigation before he joined the Trump campaign

Why didn't the FBI warn Trump? Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow John Malcolm weighs in.

A New York judge has dismissed a state mortgage fraud indictment against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, citing double jeopardy laws.

Manafort, 70, was previously sentenced in a pair of federal cases earlier this year as part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

EX-TRUMP CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL RICK GATES SENTENCED TO 45 DAYS IN JAIL, PROBATION IN MUELLER PROBE

Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that state law precludes prosecution because the criminal case was too similar to that which landed Manafort in federal prison, writing that the factual overlap between the state and federal cases “is extensive — if not total.”

Manafort didn’t appear in court for Wednesday’s ruling due to a health problem. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images, File)

Manafort didn’t appear in court for Wednesday’s ruling due to a health problem. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images, File)

The 16-count New York indictment alleged Manafort gave false and misleading information in applying for residential mortgage loans, starting in 2015 and continuing until three days before Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Prosecutors had argued that the case was based on allegations that were never resolved in Manafort’s 2018 federal trial in Virginia that found him guilty of eight counts of tax- and bank-fraud charges. The jury couldn't reach a verdict on 10 other charges, resulting in a mistrial on those counts.

Following the ruling, Todd Blanche, Manafort's attorney, said: “We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.

GOP PUSH TO REFORM FISA GAINS STEAM AFTER HOROWITZ REPORT

"We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort. This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions.”

John Yoo says President Trump would be 'out of his mind' to pardon Paul ManafortVideo

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said they would appeal the decision.

The move to turn back the case is a blow to what had widely been seen as an attempt by Vance, a Democrat, to hedge against the possibility that Trump might pardon Manafort for federal crimes.

MANAFORT SENTENCED ON FOREIGN LOBBYING CHARGES

The case was dismissed a day after former Trump campaign official Rick Gates, who had worked closely with Manafort, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years of probation after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and conspiracy as part of the Russia investigation. The counts related to his role concealing millions of dollars he made from lobbying work he and Manafort had done for Ukraine.

Manafort was sentenced in March to a total of roughly seven years in prison in connection with two cases. A federal jury in Virginia convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, while he pleaded guilty in a Washington court to charges related to foreign lobbying and witness tampering.

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Manafort didn’t appear in court for Wednesday’s ruling due to a health problem. He had a heart-related condition and was moved last week to a hospital from a federal prison in Pennsylvania, two people familiar with the matter earlier told The Associated Press.

Fox News' Lissa Kaplan, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Democrats’ impeachment manager selection

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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UPDATED 9:03 AM PT — Monday, December 16, 2019

As the House prepares for its historic impeachment vote, Democrats are already planning ahead for the potential trial in the Senate. At the top of their agenda is who should stand before senators, who will be serving as jurors, and who will argue why President Trump should be removed from office.

That decision will ultimately be made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She’s expected to choose Democrats, likely some in the Judiciary or Intelligence Committee, who have been involved in the impeachment process. However, a group of 30 Democrats is urging her to go a different route — one that ends with naming independent congressman Justin Amash as an impeachment manager. Amash famously left the Republican Party this year to register, instead, as an independent.

“I think people need to stand up for what’s right, stand up for what they believe in, and be independent of these party loyalties that really divide us,” he stated.

FILE – In this June 12, 2019 file photo, independent Rep. Justin Amash listens to debate on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Before this move, however, he was the first Republican congressman to call for the president to be impeached. Some have argued that putting Amash front and center in the trial would send a statement that the impeachment inquiry is bipartisan, which is something Republicans say the investigation hasn’t been.

“What we’ve seen in the House was a partisan show trial,” stated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “It was one-sided.”

Meanwhile, others say choosing Amash is too much of a risk. The Washington Post reported that Amash is open to the task if he’s asked, but according to CNN it likely won’t be offered to him.

With that pivotal decision coming down to Speaker Pelosi, it’s unclear if she will take the gamble or pick someone safer. Either way, we won’t have to wait very long to find out as Pelosi is likely to announce her picks this week.

RELATED: President Trump: ‘The Impeachment Hoax Is The Greatest Con Job In The History Of American Politics’

Original Article

Supreme Court to review congressional, state subpoenas for Trump financial records

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Supreme Court to take up case on President Trump's financial records

Supreme Court to hear subpoena fights over financial records; John Roberts has the details.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether President Trump can be shielded from congressional and state subpoenas for his personal banking and accounting records, in what could be a major test of separation powers between the executive branch, Congress, and the states.

At issue is the extent a sitting president can be subject to congressional oversight– under "valid legislative purposes"– of his private business dealings before he took office. The high court will also look at the extent a sitting president can be subject to state and local grand jury investigations and prosecutions.

The justices held a private conference Friday, where they considered a New York state subpoena, and two other related appeals involving separate congressional subpoenas. A lower federal court had separately ruled Trump must comply with the subpoenas, but his personal lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

"We are pleased that the Supreme Court granted review of the President’s three pending cases," Counsel to the President Jay Sekulow said in a statement. "These cases raise significant constitutional issues. We look forward to presenting our written and oral arguments."

One case involves requests for documents sought by the House Oversight and Reform Committee after the president's former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified that Trump underreported or overstated the extent of his financial holdings to the government. Cohen is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for lying to Congress and financial-related offenses.

A second subpoena involves House Financial Services Committee and House Intelligence Committee requests for 10 years of records from various banks that did business with Trump, his adult children, and his businesses. The committee is probing lending practices by major financial institutions, and allegations of Russian money laundering.

Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has empaneled a state grand jury seeking eight years of tax records relating to allegations of hush money payments to two women claiming prior sexual affairs with Trump, allegations he has denied.

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Lawyers for the House committees had urged the high court to intervene now, saying the Democrat-led panels are actively pursuing the extent of any foreign interference in U.S. politics, which may be key to legislative safeguards ahead of next year's elections.

The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week

Oral arguments will likely be scheduled for March, with a ruling on the merits by early July, just four months before the presidential election.

Fox News' John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story, check back for more updates.

Original Article

California AG’s anti-Trump lawsuits are political, have cost taxpayers $21M, state GOP says

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More than 60 lawsuits filed by California against the Trump administration in less than three years have cost the state's taxpayers $21 million, according to reports.

Since Trump took office in 2017, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sued the administration over issues including Trump's travel ban, protecting DACA and sanctuary cities, fighting family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border and plans to construct the border wall, according to FOX 40 of Sacramento.

Earlier this year, California challenged Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the southern border and most recently, Becerra sued the administration over the rollback of the Endangered Species Act.

CALIFORNIA AG BECERRA PLANS TO SUE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER NATIONAL EMERGENCY DECLARATION

Republican strategist Tim Rosales says Becerra’s lawsuits are more about politics than policy, FOX 40 reported.

“This is politics,” he told the station. “It’s politics by Becerra. He wants to make a national name for himself. He wants to get himself on the evening news and this is how you do it if you're the attorney general of California.”

"It’s politics by Becerra. He wants to make a national name for himself. He wants to get himself on the evening news and this is how you do it if you're the attorney general of California.”

— Tim Rosales, GOP strategist

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, left, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Associated Press)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, left, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Associated Press)

He added that the Trump campaign is fundraising off California’s lawsuits in every other state.

“He’s gaining support in dozens of other states that look at California and they say, ‘Hey, look what California is doing,’” Rosales said. “And California is kind of leading the way in terms of the progressive left and the far left, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Becerra’s office claims the state's lawsuits have never added up to more than 1 percent of the state Department of Justice’s budget.

"He’s protecting our values,” Democratic political consultant Ed Emerson told FOX 40. “Separating children from their families, detaining them for unlimited amounts of time and keeping them in cages. This is not who we are and California has to step in.”

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He said that while the Trump campaign may be fundraising off California’s lawsuits, “so are we.”

In a statement to FOX 40, Becerra said, “The fact is, I don’t wake up in the morning planning to pick a fight with the administration. We file lawsuits to stop the Trump administration from breaking the law and taking actions which would hurt Californians.”

As of last May, California has gotten favorable rulings in at least 25 of the cases, The Mercury News of San Jose reported.

California's lawsuits against the Trump administartion surpass the 48 lawsuits that Texas filed against the Obama administration, according to FOX 40.

Original Article

Democratic state senator in Pennsylvania to become Independent over increasingly liberal party

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A Democratic state senator in Pennsylvania who represents a district that flipped to President Trump in 2016 said he plans to become an Independent and caucus with the state’s Republicans because he’s tired of “purist” politicians and felt a disconnect with an increasingly liberal party.

“As an Independent, I will continue to put people above politics," state Sen. John Yudichak, who represents Pennsylvania’s 14th senatorial district in the northeastern part of the state, said. "I will continue to support Democratic ideas as well as Republican ideas when it is clear that they serve the greater good and help government work for people rather than the narrow interests of partisan purists.”

PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRAT APOLOGIZES FOR CALLING EARLY MISCARRIAGES ‘JUST SOME MESS ON A NAPKIN’

John Yudichak represents Pennsylvania's 14th district, 

John Yudichak represents Pennsylvania's 14th district,

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said Democrats were “extremely disappointed” by Yudichak’s decision to turn away from their “big tent” values.

Yudichak responded that the Democrats’ “tent is shrinking every day.”

The Republicans will likely have a 29-21 majority next year with the Yudichak and a January special election in a solidly Republican district.

“This is unique,” Yudichak said. “I’m an independent. I’m going to be fiercely independent. I’ve been independent by nature, now it’s going to be by party.”

Yudichak won re-election to a third term in 2018 in the district without any challengers.

He said his stances on issues won’t change and he'll continue to support some of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s policies.

Democrats picked up six seats in the state in 2018, causing the party to look at potentially getting the majority for the first time in almost 30 years.

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Yudichak will be up for re-election in 2022.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

No mention of Bidens, Burisma while Ukraine military aid was held up, State official testifies

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Democrats' impeachment spectacle returns to Capitol Hill

Key witnesses set to testify before Congress in week 2 of the public impeachment hearings; reaction and analysis on 'The Five.'

David Hale, the State Department’s No. 3 official, testified in a closed-door deposition that no one in the Trump administration or any "government channel" ever mentioned former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter as a reason for withholding aid from Ukraine, according to a transcript of his remarks released late Monday by House Democrats in their impeachment probe.

Democrats have argued that the White House improperly pressured Ukraine to look into the Bidens and Burisma Holdings, the natural gas company where Hunter Biden held a lucrative role despite limited expertise.

However, Hale said, he saw the Bidens referenced in media reports — as well as in a speculative email from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Hale is scheduled to testify publicly Wednesday.

Yovanovitch "mentioned that Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani might have been motivated to sully Vice President Biden's reputation by reminding the world of the issue regarding his son's activities in Ukraine," Hale testified, referring to President Trump's personal attorney.

KEY WITNESS APPEARS TO DIRECTLY CONTRADICT DIPLOMAT IN DEMS' IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

"When the whistleblower reports and all that came out of that, that's when I first saw this," Hale testified.

Separately, Hale recalled that representatives from key executive departments — including the Treasury Department, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Homeland Security and State Department — "endorsed the resumption of military aid" to Ukraine.

Under questioning from Democrats, Hale acknowledged that he was "out of the loop" on a variety of matters, and that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland didn't brief him about "discussions he was having with his Ukraine counterparts to either condition the White House meeting or the aid on these investigations." Additionally, Hale noted that he was similarly "out of the loop" on White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's discussions with the president concerning Ukraine aid.

David Holmes appearing on Capitol Hill last week to testify before congressional lawmakers. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

David Holmes appearing on Capitol Hill last week to testify before congressional lawmakers. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Also late Monday, Democrats released testimony from State Department official David Holmes, who said the conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland during a lunch in Ukraine was so distinctive — even extraordinary — that nobody needed to refresh his memory.

"I've never seen anything like this," Holmes told House investigators, "someone calling the president from a mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language. There's just so much about the call that was so remarkable that I remember it vividly."

Holmes testified that after a bottle of wine, “Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times, along the lines of: ‘Gordon Sondland holding for the President.’ It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistances. I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor change, and understood that he had been connected to President Trump.”

TRUMP 'STRONGLY' CONSIDERING PELOSI INVITE TO TESTIFY IN IMPEACHMENT PROBE

The conversation between the president and the ambassador July 26 came one day after the call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to the impeachment inquiry.

Holmes' account of the conversation in Kiev was the first to include Trump personally calling about the investigations into Democrats and Joe Biden.

House investigators release excerpts of Volker, Sondland transcripts from impeachment inquiryVideo

Holmes, who joined Sondland and others during the lunch meeting, told investigators Trump was talking so loudly he could hear the president clearly on the ambassador's phone.

"I then heard President Trump ask, quote, 'So he's going to do the investigation?'" Holmes testified. "Ambassador Sondland replied that 'He's going to do it,' adding that President Zelensky will, quote, 'do anything you ask him to.'"

Holmes said he didn't take notes of the conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland but remembered it "vividly."

Pressed during the interview if anyone helped him recall the details, Holmes said, "that wouldn’t have been needed, sir, because, as I said, the event itself was so distinctive that I remember it very clearly."

Holmes said that Sondland announced that the president was “in a bad mood.” And, Holmes said he “asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the President did not give a sh– about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland agreed that the president did not give a sh– about Ukraine..nope, not at all, doesn’t give a shi–about Ukraine.”

Holmes said that the President “only cares about ‘big stuff.’” Holmes testified that Sondland said that didn’t mean war with Russia, but “this Biden investigation that Giuliani is pushing.”

During a meeting between National Security Advisor John Bolton President Zelensky’s top aide Andriy Bogdan in Kiev, Holmes served as note taker. Holmes indicated Bolton was frustrated “about Giuliani’s influence with the president, making clear that there was nothing he could do about it.”

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Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, is scheduled to testify publicly Thursday.

Fox News' Ashley Cozzolino, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Texas Gov. Abbott opens homeless campsite on state land in fight with Austin

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Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday he would create a temporary homeless campsite on state land in the capital city of Austin, after sparring with city officials over the clean up of camps throughout the city’s downtown area.

DALLAS, TX - JULY 08: Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

DALLAS, TX – JULY 08: Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The 5-acre camp will be located 3 miles outside Austin and will have portable restrooms, hand washing stations and food provided by local charities throughout the day.

Homeless advocates said they weren’t aware of another state ever making such a move.

“Outside of the national disaster context, I’m not aware of any state setting up an encampment like this,” said Eric Tars, legal director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington, D.C.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat who has publicly quarreled with the governor, said the state's temporary camp "can be constructive" but said the focus should remain on permanent housing.

AUSTIN PLAN TO ALLOW HOMELESS CAMPS FACES BACKLASH

Democratic state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, who represents an Austin district that includes the new homeless campsite, said the state's help was welcome but doesn't fix the long-term issue.

“I know politics when I see it, and that’s what it seems like to me,” Rodriguez said. “There’s no love lost between the governor and the city of Austin.”

In July, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance allowing homeless residents to camp on public streets as long as they do not pose a threat to themselves or others. The action sparked immediate backlash spearheaded by Abbott, who has voiced his frustration on Twitter for months.

“Feces & used needles are piling up & residents are endangered,” Abbott tweeted in October. “If not fixed by Nov.1, I'll use State authority to protect Texans’ health & safety."

Abbott said he sent a letter to Adler, demanding the city take action or the state would step in.

AS TX CLEANS UP HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS IN AUSTIN, LONG-TERM SOLUTION IS UNCLEAR

Adler has fought back against claims that the city is seeing an increase in syringes or feces from the homeless population. He said his ordinance didn’t “create” homeless people, but rather brought them out into the open.

"Certainly, [housing] prices have been going up in Austin," the mayor said. "The ordinance that we passed didn’t create more people experiencing homelessness. It did make people that were experiencing homelessness more visible."

Abbott said on Oct. 29 that the Texas Department of Transportation had begun posting notices that the state would begin cleaning up homeless encampments under highways.

"Safety will improve soon," he had said.

Abbott tweeted a photo on Monday of his team beginning the cleanup.

“Our goal is to make Austin safer while also providing better alternatives for the homeless," he said.

City business leaders said earlier Thursday they would raise $14 million for a new shelter that could sleep up to 300 people.

Homelessness is up 5 percent this year in Austin, to more than 2,200 people.

On Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson weighed in on Austin's homeless issue.

"Some people think that being compassionate means allowing these people to just be wherever they want to be. That's not real compassion. Compassion is figuring out why they're in that situation and correcting the situation," he said.

"Let's just agree that this is a problem and let's look at things that work. If we based policy on evidence and not on ideology, we'd get a lot farther," Carson added.

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Other major U.S. cities have faced similar crises, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

On Wednesday Las Vegas made it a crime to sleep on streets or sidewalks when beds are available at city-sanctioned shelters. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who sponsored the law, called it "flawed" but "a start."

President Trump promised in September during a California visit to do "something" about the crisis.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening," he had said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

State Dept. official flagged Hunter Biden’s ‘conflict of interest’ in Ukraine, testimony shows

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Daytime drama coming to Capitol Hill when open impeachment hearings begin

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent will kick off the public testimony; Mike Emanuel has the details.

George Kent, a career official at the State Department, told House investigators conducting the impeachment inquiry against President Trump that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's lucrative service on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company — and confirmed that had no "direct knowledge" that U.S. aid to Ukraine was ever connected to the opening of a new investigation.

According to a transcript of his Oct. 15 closed-door deposition released Thursday, Kent said that in January or February 2015, he "became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board" of Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings while his father Joe Biden was overseeing Ukraine policy as vice president.

"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, "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, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and was defying the State Department's instruction that he not testify, confirmed that "nobody in the Ukrainian Government became aware of a hold on military aid" until Aug. 29th — a month after Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Democrats have alleged Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate the Bidens during that call with the threat of withholding military aid, although Zelensky has said he felt no such pressure.

READ KENT'S FULL DEPOSITION

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. House impeachment investigators released a transcript from Kent, a career official at the State Department on Nov. 7. He testified that he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. House impeachment investigators released a transcript from Kent, a career official at the State Department on Nov. 7. He testified that he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Kent further acknowledged that it is appropriate for the Trump administration to "look at the level of corruption" in foreign countries when determining whether to provide, or withhold financial assistance. Speaking to Zelensky, Trump noted Ukraine's history of corruption and urged his counterpart to probe any potential election interference efforts originating from the country.

"Part of our foreign assistance was specifically focused to try to limit and reduce corruption," Kent said. "And we also tried, to the best of our knowledge and abilities, to do due diligence to make sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent for the purposes that they were appropriated and that they are as effective as they can be."

Kent went on to assert that he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels.

'COUP HAS STARTED,' WHISTLEBLOWER ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES IN 2017

He claimed was told by a Ukrainian official that Giuliani had conspired with Yuriy Lutsenko, the then-prosecutor general of Ukraine, to "throw mud" as part of a “campaign of slander” against former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

"Well, Mr. Giuliani was almost unmissable starting in mid-March," Kent told investigators. "As the news campaign, or campaign of slander against, not only Ambassador Yovanovitch unfolded, he had a very high a media promise, so he was on TV, his Twitter feed ramped up and it was all focused on Ukraine"

AT LOUISIANA RALLY WEDS NIGHT, TRUMP QUOTES FOX NEWS ARTICLE ON 'SLEAZEBALL' WHISTLEBLOWER ATTY

High-level Ukrainians, Kent asserted, wanted "revenge" against the diplomat. Yovanovitch, recalling her termination as Ukraine's diplomat, choked up during a closed-door hearing last month.

"Based on what I know, Yuriy Lutsenko, as prosecutor general, vowed revenge, and provided information to Rudy Giuliani in hopes that he would spread it and lead to her removal," Kent testified. "I believe that was the rationale for Yuriy Lutsenko doing what he did. Separately, there are individuals that I mentioned before, including Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who started reaching out actively to undermine Ambassador Yovanovitch, starting in 2018 with a meeting with former Congressman Pete Sessions on May 9th, 2018, the same day he wrote a letter to Secretary Pompeo impugning Ambassador Yovanovitch’s loyalty and suggesting that she be removed."

John Bolton unlikely to appear for closed-door impeachment depositionVideo

Kent added: "And others also in 2018 were engaged in an effort to undermine her standing by claiming that she was disloyal. So that’s the early roots of people following their own agendas and using her as an instrument to fulfill those agendas."

Yovanovitch was recalled from her post in May, and Trump told Ukraine's leader in July that she was "bad news" and would "go through some things.” Yovanovitch has separately told House investigators that "people with clearly questionable motives" tried to get rid of her, and that she was "shocked" by Trump's actions concerning Ukraine.

Kent, Yovanovitch and diplomat William Taylor are expected to appear in the public sessions as part of the impeachment inquiry.

UKRAINE ENVOY CLAIMS 'CLEAR KNOWLEDGE' OF QUID PRO QUO, BUT NO 'DIRECT KNOWLEDGE' OF TRUMP PLANS

Concerning Talyor, Kent testified that "he told me he indicated to [U.S. envoy to the EU] Gordon [Sondland], he said, This is wrong. That's what I recall him saying to me, again, orally reading out of a conversation of which I was not a part. And Gordon had told him, Tim [Morrison], and Tim told Bill Taylor, that he, Gordon, had talked to the President, POTUS in sort of shorthand, and POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelenskyy to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton."

Kent said he told diplomat Kurt Volker that "asking another country to investigate a prosecution for political reasons undermines our advocacy of the rule of law."

On Wednesday released a transcript of testimony from Taylor's closed-door deposition, in which he claimed to have a “clear understanding” that Trump wanted to leverage military aid to Ukraine in return for investigations that could benefit him politically — while acknowledging that, like Kent, he didn't have firsthand knowledge of "what was in the president's mind."

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, returns to a secure area after speaking to reporters after witnesses defied a subpoena to appear before House impeachment investigators following President Donald Trump's orders not to cooperate with the probe, in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. John Eisenberg, the lead lawyer for the National Security Council, and National Security Council aide Michael Ellis, were scheduled to testify early Monday but not appear. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, returns to a secure area after speaking to reporters after witnesses defied a subpoena to appear before House impeachment investigators following President Donald Trump's orders not to cooperate with the probe, in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. John Eisenberg, the lead lawyer for the National Security Council, and National Security Council aide Michael Ellis, were scheduled to testify early Monday but not appear. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said.

Taylor is a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who has emerged as a key figure of interest in the Trump impeachment inquiry, having alleged a quid pro quo was at play despite White House denials.

TRUMP-UKRAINE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY TO START 'OPEN HEARINGS' NEXT WEEK

The transcript shows that Taylor testified he had been told by other officials that the White House was willing to hold up both military aid and a prospective White House meeting with Ukraine's president to extract a public announcement from Kiev that probes related to election interference and Burisma Holdings were underway.

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent leaves Capitol Hill after appearing before a joint House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee on Oversight and Reform for a deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington. House impeachment investigators released a transcript from Kent, a career official at the State Department on Nov. 7. He testified that he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent leaves Capitol Hill after appearing before a joint House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee on Oversight and Reform for a deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington. House impeachment investigators released a transcript from Kent, a career official at the State Department on Nov. 7. He testified that he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

"That's what Ambassador Sondland said," Taylor said, referring to E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland. "He said that they were linked. They were linked."

But Republicans have pushed back that Taylor did not have primary knowledge regarding the key events in question, but rather based his testimony off conversations with others.

READ THE TAYLOR TRANSCRIPT

In one exchange between GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin and Taylor during his deposition, Taylor was asked whether he had any firsthand knowledge of Trump conditioning an investigation into the 2016 election and the Bidens on military aid.

Taylor said he did not speak to the president, or have any direct communication with the president regarding the requests for investigations. Instead, he said he was basing much of his testimony on what former United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and Sondland told him.

“What I know is what Ambassador Sondland was able to tell me about those investigations and Ambassador Volker,” Taylor said. “I don't know what was in the president's mind.”

Fox News' Bill Mears, Alex Pappas, Brooke Singman, and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Original Article

Virginia Democrats win control of both the state House and Senate

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Democrats have won control of all of Richmond.

In a major victory for the party, Democrats in Virginia on Tuesday flipped both the state Senate and the House of Delegates, giving them control of both the governor’s office and the legislature for the first time in more than two decades, The Associated Press projected.

GOP'S BEVIN REFUSES TO CONCEDE AS KENTUCKY GUBERNATORIAL RACE GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE

"We did it," tweeted former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. "We got them both. Hard work pays off. VA is ALL BLUE!"

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Republicans had a slim majority in both the state House and Senate, but Virginia has been trending blue for years thanks to growth in more diverse, liberal suburbs and cities, and population declines in more rural, conservative areas.

Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, was not up for reelection Tuesday but actively campaigned for Democrats in his state, after surviving the blackface scandal earlier this year.

"I'm here to officially declare today, November 5, 2019, that Virginia is officially blue," Northam told a crowd of supporters in Richmond.

Democrats have promised that, with control of the state legislature, they could pass an agenda that Republicans have blocked for years, including stricter gun laws and a higher minimum wage. They also have aimed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, making Virginia the final state needed for possible passage of the gender-equality measure.

VIRGINIA CYCLIST WHO FLIPPED OFF TRUMP'S MOTORCADE APPEARS TO HAVE WON RACE FOR LOCAL OFFICE

Also in Virginia on Tuesday, Juli Briskman, the female cyclist who flipped off President Trump’s motorcade last year, defeated a Republican incumbent for a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

Briskman launched her campaign for office after she was fired from a government contracting firm for violating the “code of conduct policy." She'd revealed to her bosses at Virginia-based Akima LLC that she was the woman in a viral photo on social media who was flipping off President Trump's motorcade.

Fox News' Vandana Rambaran and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Virginia Democrat wins state House seat after 2017 election loss in random drawing

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A Virginia Democrat who lost her 2017 bid for a seat in the state's House of Delegates in a random drawing following a tie is the projected winner of Tuesday's election.

Shelly Simonds ousted her Republican opponent Del. David Yancey to flip the 94th District seat, garnering 58 percent of the vote to Yancey's 40 percent, according to a New York Times projection.

Democrats also took control of the state Senate on Tuesday for the first time in 25 years.

Virginia House of Delegates candidate Shelly Simonds speaks to members of the press following a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections in 2018. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Virginia House of Delegates candidate Shelly Simonds speaks to members of the press following a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Elections in 2018. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Simonds won her third bid for the House of Delegates in a rematch against the four-term Yancey, who was reelected after winning a random drawing following a tie vote in 2017. Both candidates had received 11,608 votes each in the Newport News district.

Simonds initially led by one vote, but a recount and a court challenge determined that both candidates received the same number of votes.

This year's election featured harsh rhetoric between the progressive Simonds, a seven-year veteran of the Newport News School Board, and her GOP opponent, the Daily Press reported Tuesday.

GOP wins Virginia House election by random drawingVideo

She accused Yancey of being as untruthful as President Trump, while he blamed her for the poor record of Newport News schools, according to the publication.

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Simonds also ran on a gun control platform, promising to introduce gun legislation to crack down on firearms trafficking and increase penalties for those who sell stolen guns or use them in crimes.

She was one of several candidates endorsed by former President Barack Obama.

Original Article

State Dept. blocked statement backing ex-US envoy to Ukraine, diplomat testifies: report

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A top U.S. diplomat testified to Congress on Saturday that the U.S. State Department blocked a statement in support of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine before President Trump ousted the ambassador from her position last May, according to reports.

Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said he tried to get the State Department to “issue a strong statement in support of” Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to keep her from being forced out over "false" claims.

JOHN KELLY WARNED OF IMPEACHMENT FOR TRUMP IF HE HIRED 'YES MAN': 'I FEEL BAD THAT I LEFT'

He said he heard from staffers for David Hale,undersecretary of state for political affairs, that the State Department wouldn’t be releasing a statement in her defense, Politico reported.

Reeker testified behind closed doors for more than eight hours.

Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for Europe, leaves the Capitol in Washington after a closed-door interview Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (Associated Press)

Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for Europe, leaves the Capitol in Washington after a closed-door interview Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (Associated Press)

“More or less his first day on the job, the Yovanovitch situation blows up,” a person familiar with Reeker’s testimony who spoke on condition of anonymity reportedly told Politico.

Yovanovitch testified to Congress earlier this month that there was “a concerted campaign” against her based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

Reeker, who started his position in March, said the attacks were launched by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer.

The State Department tried to keep Reeker from testifying but he appeared Saturday under subpoena, Politico reported.

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House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into the president over a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and potentially withheld military aid until an investigation was started.

Original Article

Judge orders State Department to produce Ukraine documents

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Increasing tension between congressional Democrats and the State Department

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses House Democrats of bullying State Department employees; chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill.

A U.S. district judge on Wednesday ordered the State Department to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents regarding Ukraine and the Trump administration.

The records, requested by ethics watchdog American Oversight, must be produced within 30 days, District Judge Christopher Cooper said, agreeing with the watchdog that the documents were of public importance.

The organization sued the State Department on Oct. 1 for documents relating to President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine. The government has said it doesn't know how many records exist.

The former mayor of New York City, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The former mayor of New York City, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. (2015 Getty Images)

The Democratic chairs of three House committees subpoenaed Giuliani on Sept. 30 for key documents as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

GIULIANI SUBPOENAED BY HOUSE DEMS FOR UKRAINE DOCS IN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

The former New York City mayor is alleged to have "pressed the Ukrainian government to pursue two politically motivated investigations” against the former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for foreign aid.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and now-deceased Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said Giuliani claimed he admitted to being "in possession of evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records and other communications — indicating that [he was] not acting alone and that other Trump administration officials may have been involved in this scheme."

“This wasn’t just one phone call or Rudy Giuliani acting on his own,” American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers said. “This was a monthslong, coordinated effort across multiple federal departments that hijacked American foreign policy to benefit Trump’s campaign, and the public needs to know who else was involved."

Giuliani reportedly being investigated for work in Ukraine; McAleenan resigns as acting homeland security secretaryVideo

The Democratic chairs' subpoena is one of several issued over the past month for documents related to Ukraine that they say pertain to the impeachment inquiry.

GUILIANI, PENCE, ESPER REBUFF DEMS AMID SUBPOENA, DOCUMENTS DEMANDS

On Sept. 27, the trio of Democrats subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding State Department correspondence and documents dating from Jan. 20, 2017, to the present. The documents, they said, relate to reports that Trump pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate his potential 2020 election rival, his son and the family's business activity in Ukraine.

The Democratic lawmakers also requested any copies of the transcript of Trump's July 25 controversial call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and a list of State Department officials who might have been involved with the conversation, according to a letter sent to Pompeo last month. The chairmen additionally asked for any State Department records about Giuliani and anything relating to U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

The White House has said it will not comply with any requests for the "illegitimate and unconstitutional" impeachment inquiry.

POMPEO MISSES DEADLINE TO TURN OVER STATE DEPT. DOCS ON UKRAINE, GIULIANI IN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

Trump has called the probe "another witch hunt," and has repeatedly said his call with Zelensky was "perfect." The president has also denied withholding military aid from the Eastern European country as a condition of a probe of the Bidens for a "quid pro quo." Zelensky has said that "nobody pushed me" during his July call with Trump.

President Trump on Democrats' Ukraine hypocrisyVideo

An intelligence community whistleblower filed a complaint and accused Trump of "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." House Democrats launched their impeachment probe following the complaint.

A memorandum of the Trump-Zelensky call was later made public. It showed that while Trump sought an investigation into the Biden family for corruption, he did not explicitly leverage military aid in order to get Ukraine to investigate.

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Fox News' Brooke Singman, John Roberts and Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.

Original Article

Elijah Cummings to ‘lie in state’ in Capitol’s Statuary Hall in new arrangement

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Remembering Elijah Cummings

Cummings passed away at 68 due to longstanding health complications.

CAPITOL HILL – The late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will “lie in state” this Thursday in Statuary Hall of the Capitol ahead of his funeral in Baltimore on Friday, officials announced.

Lawmakers from both parties are set to speak in remembrance of the House Oversight Committee chairman at a Statuary Hall arrival ceremony Thursday morning, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.

In addition, a public viewing has been scheduled for this Wednesday at Morgan State University in Baltimore; the congressman had served on the university's Board of Regents.

Cummings, a longtime congressman, civil rights leader and frequent foe of President Trump, died last Thursday at the age of 68 after complications from longstanding health problems.

House Speaker Pelosi mourns Rep. Elijah Cummings: He's now with the angelsVideo

The concept of having a decedent “lie in state” in Statuary Hall, the old House chamber, is new in Congress.

The Capitol Rotunda, located in the middle of the U.S. Capitol, and controlled by both the House and Senate, has been used periodically for major American figures to “lie in state.” Such was the case with the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and President George H.W. Bush in 2018, along with the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, in 2012. The late Rev. Billy Graham “laid in honor” in the Capitol Rotunda in early 2018. “Lying in honor” is considered one level below “lying in state.”

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY WILL STAY ON TRACK, ACTING OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN SAYS

Both the House and Senate have held various memorials for fallen members over the years. The late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., laid “in repose” in a flag-draped casket in the Senate chamber in 2010. The body of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., also laid “in repose” in the Senate after he died in 2013.

Elijah Cummings' death a 'terrible loss for the country,' Rep. Kildee saysVideo

Granted, the House has conducted various memorial services for former members in Statuary Hall over the years. Some of the most recent included former House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., in 2013, former Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, in 2016, former House Minority Leader Bob Michel, R-Ill., in 2017 and former Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the following year.

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However, bringing a casket into Statuary Hall for a service is a bit different. The closest modern models appeared to be what the Senate did with Byrd and Lautenberg. Though Cummings is to “lie in state,” his casket will reside neither in the Rotunda nor in the House chamber, officials have said. Usage of the Capitol Rotunda would require the adoption of a joint resolution by both the House and Senate, but since this service is scheduled to take place in a space controlled by the House, only the House must sign off on usage of Statuary Hall. However, Pelosi has chosen the designation of “lie in state” for Cummings.

The Senate on Monday approved a joint resolution, with the House expected to follow suit, for use of the catafalque for Cummings’ services in Statuary Hall. The catafalque is a wooden platform first used at the Capitol when President Lincoln lay in state, with his casket resting on top of it. The catafalque has has been used for most “state funerals” since.

Fox News' Mike Arroyo contributed to this report.

Original Article

State Department report on Clinton emails finds hundreds of violations, dozens of individuals at fault

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Hillary Clinton claims she could beat Trump 'again'

Clinton threatens to enter 2020 race; The Collective PAC founder Quentin James reacts.

A State Department report into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business, obtained by Fox News on Friday, found dozens of individuals at fault and hundreds of security violations.

The report summarized an administrative review of the handling of classified information relating to Clinton’s private email server used during her tenure as the nation’s highest-ranking diplomat between 2009 and 2013. The report, dated Sept. 13., was delivered to the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee until last year.

The report reflected only approximately 30,000 emails that the State Department was able to physically review, and found 38 individuals were responsible for 91 violations.

Another 497 violations were also found, although the report was not able to assign responsibility in those cases, in part because many of those involved had already left the department during the time it took to receive the emails and review them.

HILLARY CLINTON FLOATS CONSPIRACY THAT TULSI GABBARD IS BEING 'GROOMED' BY RUSSIANS

The report described an investigation fraught with obstacles — including delays — employees who left the department and more than 30,000 deleted records.

The Clinton email controversy dogged her throughout her failed 2016 presidential bid. Clinton and her aides have claimed the controversy was overblown and denied any wrongdoing, but President Trump and allies have consistently referred back to it as an example of a criminal endeavor for which no one was properly punished.

The FBI began investigating Clinton’s handling of emails in 2015 after it was revealed she had used a homebrew server for her government emails. Then-FBI Director James Comey announced in July 2016 that the agency would not recommend charges, but famously described Clinton as having been "extremely careless" in her conduct.

Hillary Clinton says she could beat Trump in an election rematchVideo

The department received the emails in December 2014, well after Clinton left the department in early 2013.

The department concluded that the use of a private email system “added an increased degree of risk of compromise, as a private system lacks the network monitoring and intrusion detection capabilities of [the] State Department.”

“While the use of a private email system itself did not necessarily increase the likelihood of classified information being transmitted on unclassified systems, those incidents which then resulted in the presence of classified information upon it carried an increased risk of compromise or inadvertent disclosure,” the report said.

However, while there were instances of classified information being introduced into an unclassified system, the report said that by and large the individuals interviewed “did their best” to implement security policies. There was no “persuasive evidence” of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information, according to the report.

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Original Article

State Department official told Congress he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings in 2015 but was ignored

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Hunter Biden admits to poor judgement in Ukraine dealings but has no regrets

The son of 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden breaks his silence before his father takes the debate stage in Ohio; reaction and analysis on 'The Five.'

A State Department official focused on Ukraine policy told Congress this week he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas firm in 2015, but was rebuffed by former Vice President Joe Biden’s staff, Fox News has confirmed.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who testified behind closed doors before committees spearheading the formal House impeachment inquiry, told congressional investigators that he had qualms about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

HUNTER BIDEN BREAKS SILENCE ON UKRAINE BUSINESS DEALINGS, CLAIMS HE DID 'NOTHING WRONG AT ALL'

The Washington Post first reported details of Kent’s testimony on Friday, which included his concerns that the younger Biden’s role in the company could complicate U.S. diplomatic efforts with Ukrainian officials, and raised the issue of a possible conflict of interest. Kent also testified that he was worried that Hunter Biden’s position would make Ukrainian officials think he was a channel of influence to his father, who was vice president at the time.

A congressional source confirmed to Fox News on Friday that Kent testified that when he brought his concerns to the office of the vice president in 2016, his staff “blew him off” and ignored the issue involving the younger Biden's role at the firm.

Hunter Biden breaks silence on Ukraine business dealingsVideo

Meanwhile, during his deposition on Tuesday, sources told Fox News that Kent spoke extensively about accusations of corruption linked to Burisma, noting it was a “big problem” as it relates to Ukraine.

Kent had repeatedly raised concerns with the Obama administration about the company, specifically providing an example in 2016, when he raised concerns with the Obama administration’s USAID about dropping a planned event with Burisma. Kent testified that the event involved children, and he did not feel comfortable with photos of children in conjunction with Burisma.

Sources also told Fox News that Kent told congressional investigators about the Obama 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.

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Shokin was fired in April 2016, and his case was closed by the prosecutor who replaced him, Yuriy Lutsenko. 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 — who was investigating Burisma Holdings while Hunter sat on the board.

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

However, Kent testified that while Shokin faced accusations of corruption, his replacement, Lutsenko, did too, and that both ex-prosecutors were godfathers to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s children. However, according to sources, Kent said that while the United States pushed hard for Shokin to be fired, no one ever pushed for Lutsenko to be fired.

Shokin was widely accused of corruption on both sides of the Atlantic. Biden has said that the international community was supportive and pushing for his firing, but sources told Fox News that Kent testified that it was the United States who led that international effort to get him removed. Kent also noted, according to sources, that the international community was deferential to the U.S. on the topic.

Kent's testimony comes amid the House's formal impeachment inquiry, launched earlier this month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after revelations surrounding President Trump's highly-controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The impeachment inquiry is being led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, and acting Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney–who filled the post after Rep. Elijah Cummings' death on Thursday.

The Ukraine controversy, which sparked the impeachment inquiry, began when a whistleblower reported that the president had pushed Zelensky to launch an investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why Biden pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin, who was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter was on the board. The president's request 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 whistleblower's complaint stated their concerns that Trump was soliciting a foreign power to influence the 2020 presidential election.

The White House and the president's allies have denied any sort of quid pro quo, and the Biden's have maintained that they did "nothing wrong."

JOE BIDEN DEFENDS SON'S UKRAINE WORK

During Tuesday night's Democratic primary debate, Biden was asked about his son's role at Burisma, to which he stated: “My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. 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.”

Earlier that day, Hunter Biden. during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” likewise defended his role, claiming he did nothing improper, though he did acknowledge it was "poor judgment" to have joined the company's board.

Original Article

Presidential pardons less of an obstacle for NY state prosecutors under new law: report

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So you’ve committed a crime but received a pardon from the president of the United States.

That might no longer help you in New York state.

In what appeared to be an action aimed squarely at President Trump, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law Wednesday that lets the state’s prosecutors bring charges against those who’ve received presidential pardons for the crimes in question.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO USES UNCENSORED N-WORD DURING LIVE INTERVIEW: 'PARDON MY LANGUAGE'

According to Politico, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that state prosecutors can bring charges against people who have already faced similar federal charges. But New York’s state law had included ways of blocking the state-level trials.

Cuomo’s signature Wednesday helped erase those obstacles, the report said.

One test of the new law could come if Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani eventually faces charges of lobbying violations under the federal probe he is reportedly facing regarding business dealing in Ukraine, Politico reported.

"This critical new law closes a gaping loophole that could have allowed any president to abuse the presidential pardon power by unfairly granting a pardon to a family member or close associate and possibly allow that individual to evade justice altogether,” New York state Attorney General Tish James said in a statementWednesday. “No one is above the law, and this commonsense measure will provide a reasonable and necessary check on presidential power today and for all presidents to come.”

In August, President Trump criticized The Washington Post after the newspaper printed a story saying the president claimed he would pardon aides if they broke the law in order to speed the process for building a U.S.-Mexico border wall before the 2020 presidential election.

“Another totally Fake story in the Amazon Washington Post (lobbyist) which states that if my Aides broke the law to build the Wall (which is going up rapidly), I would give them a Pardon,” Trump wrote at the time. “This was made up by the Washington Post only in order to demean and disparage – FAKE NEWS!”

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Earlier this month Trump posthumously pardoned Zay Jeffries, a World War II scientist who helped develop tank-piercing artillery that helped defeat the Nazis. After the war, Jeffries was convicted of business actions that violated Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Other recipients of Trump pardons have included Joe Arpaio, a former sheriff in Arizona; Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney; Jack Johnson, a champion boxer; and Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative author and filmmaker.

Fox News' Danielle Wallace and Melissa Leon contributed to this story.

Original Article

Trump to name State Dept. official John Sullivan as next ambassador to Russia

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President Trump will soon announce that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, a senior administration official confirmed to Fox News Friday.

Sullivan will replace Jon Huntsman, who left the post last week. Fox News reported in August that Trump intended to nominate Sullivan. The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday that Moscow agreed to accredit Sullivan — a precursor to a formal nomination.

US PULLS OUT OF REAGAN-ERA ARMS TREATY, SAYING RUSSIA 'MADE NO EFFORTS' TO COMPLY

Sullivan, a lawyer with a long history of federal service, has been deputy secretary of state since May 2017 when the Senate confirmed him 94-6. He briefly led the State Department in the period between former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s dismissal in March 2018 and Mike Pompeo’s swearing-in the following month.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan (L), flanked by Admiral Craig Faller, who leads the US Southern Command, pose as they speak to a group of reporters in the Southcom headquarters in Miami, on April 12, 2019. (Photo LEILA MACOR/AFP/Getty Images)

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan (L), flanked by Admiral Craig Faller, who leads the US Southern Command, pose as they speak to a group of reporters in the Southcom headquarters in Miami, on April 12, 2019. (Photo LEILA MACOR/AFP/Getty Images)

Sullivan’s career in government dates back to 1991, when he served as counselor to Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Luttig in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. During the administration of President George W. Bush, Sullivan served as deputy general counsel to the State Department before moving on to the role of general counsel at the Department of Commerce.

The Journal reports that he is currently leading a pair of ongoing dialogues with Russia relating to counterterrorism and strategic security. Sources told the outlet that Sullivan played an important role in the expulsion of Russia diplomats after the poisoning of a former double agent and his daughter in England in 2018.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.

Original Article

Top diplomats to testify to Congress despite opposition from State Dept., White House

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Networks refuse to air Trump ads aimed at Biden's ties to Ukraine

The media continue to cave to Democrats as networks refuse to air a Trump campaign ad aimed at opponent Joe Biden. Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce reacts to that and the Biden campaign attacking a new Ukraine op-ed in The New York Times.

Two diplomats at the center of the Ukraine controversy are now set to testify to House lawmakers as part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, despite significant pushback from both the State Department and the White House.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Kiev and someone President Trump has privately called "bad news," is scheduled to sit for a potentially explosive transcribed interview with lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill on Friday — although it was not a definite that she would appear.

TRUMP ALLED FORMER UKRAINE DIPLOMAT 'BAD NEWS'…AND NOW SHE'S SET TO TESTIFY

Trump and his allies have sought to paint Yovanovitch as a rogue employee with an anti-Trump bias. She was ousted in May amid alleged attempts by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to press Ukraine into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Those efforts ultimately led to the impeachment inquiry after the emergence of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — in which Trump asked the premier to “look into” the allegations about Biden's conduct in the country.

While Yovanovitch, a long-time diplomat, has been praised by her colleagues as a "top-notch diplomat," Trump mentioned her in the call with Zelensky as “bad news” and someone who is “going to go through some things.” Giuliani and other critics have accused her of working to undermine Trump’s interests.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, is set to testify on Friday on Capitol Hill. (Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, is set to testify on Friday on Capitol Hill. (Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)

Also Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland announced that he will testify to Congress, a week after the State Department directed him not to appear before lawmakers at a scheduled deposition. The shift comes after House Democrats on Wednesday subpoenaed him to appear before the joint committees to testify. He said in a statement that he is scheduled to appear on Thursday.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BLOCKS AMBASSADOR FROM TESTIFYING IN HOUSE IMPEACHMENT DEPOSITION

“Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,” the statement said. "Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States. He has no agenda apart from answering the Committees’ questions fully and truthfully.”

Trump had dismissed the deposition as a “kangaroo court,” while Democrats warned that a failure for Sondland and other witnesses to appear was evidence of obstruction of Congress.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see,” Trump tweeted.

State Department blocks Amb. Sondland from impeachment testimonyVideo

Democrats claim that Trump used $400 million in military aid as leverage in a quid pro quo for the Ukrainians to investigate a political opponent, and opened an impeachment inquiry, firing off a raft of subpoenas within a few days to top administration and White House officials. While a call transcript shows the president urging a Biden-related investigation, Trump denies any 'quid pro quo' claims.

Sondland is a wealthy hotelier, philanthropist and contributor to political campaigns. He is a key figure as he had texted with Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, arguing over allegations of a quid pro quo.

In early September, Taylor wrote: "Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?"

Days later, he followed up: "As I said over the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."

Sondland responded, defending the president: "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”

It is not clear how much of the change in Sondland’s position is his own, and how much the Trump administration has shifted on the question of whether he should appear. Axios reported Friday that Republicans close to Trump encouraged the president to let the ambassador come before the committees and that his allies believe Sondland's testimony will be helpful to them.

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But the White House has been aggressive in its pushback against the impeachment inquiry, which it sees as illegitimate and politically motivated. On Wednesday the White House issued a defiant letter saying it would not cooperate with the inquiry.

"President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," the letter stated. "Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

Fox News' Gregg Re, Lillian LeCroy, Nick Kalman, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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House Dems subpoena Sondland after State Department blocks him from testifying on Ukraine

closeState Department blocks Amb. Sondland from impeachment testimonyVideo

State Department blocks Amb. Sondland from impeachment testimony

Gordon Sondland's name appears in the whistleblower complaint as a key figure in the president's dealings with Ukraine; chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports from Capitol Hill.

House Democrats have subpoenaed the U.S. ambassador to the European Union for testimony and documents relating to their impeachment inquiry into President Trump over his July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, escalating a clash with the White House which just an hour before said it wouldn't comply with the "illegitimate and unconstitutional" inquiry.

The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees asked Gordon Sondland to produce a laundry list of documents by Oct. 14 and appear at a deposition on Oct. 16, according to a news release.

Sondland's failure to comply with the subpoena "shall constitute further evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the president," the letter read.

President Trump says sending Amb. Sondland to testify would put him before 'compromised kangaroo court'Video

The State Department blocked Sondland from appearing at a scheduled closed-door deposition on Tuesday. President Trump tweeted that he would "love to send Ambassador Sondland […] but unfortunately, he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters Tuesday morning that the move was "yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress."

Adam Schiff argues that Amb. Gordon Sondland is a critical figure in the impeachment probeVideo

Schiff and other Democratic committee chairmen later released a statement saying the administration’s "interference" amounted to "obstruction of the impeachment inquiry."

Democrats have subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who missed a Friday deadline to comply. They also subpoenaed the Pentagon and the White House Office of Management and Budget for Ukraine documents on Tuesday.

HOUSE DEMS BELIEVE THEY HAVE ENOUGH VOTES TO PASS ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT, SENIOR MEMBER SAYS

House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry into President Trump last month after an intelligence community member's whistleblower complaint alleged he took part in a "quid pro quo" with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during their July 25 call.

The whistleblower accused Trump of "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election," claiming the president used $400 million in military aid as leverage to force officials in Ukraine to launch an investigation into 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and their business dealings in Ukraine.

Trump has denied the allegations and hit back at Democrats who have supported the inquiry.

READ THE WHITE HOUSE LETTER

The White House sent an eight-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday that read: "President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice.

"In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

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Fox News' John Roberts, Gregg Re and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Original Article