Trump praises Kennedy after Chuck Todd links senator’s Ukraine remarks to Putin

President Trump on Monday praised Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) for his appearance a day earlier on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where anchor Chuck Todd questioned the senator for pushing the unsubstantiated claim that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

“Thank you to Great Republican @SenJohnKennedy for the job he did in representing both the Republican Party and myself against Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd on Meet the Depressed!” Trump tweeted.

The president tweeted his thanks as he flew to London for NATO meetings. He also praised two House Republicans for defending him against the impeachment inquiry in television interviews.

Kennedy has been part of controversial interviews each of the past two Sundays after making claims about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election.

Kennedy last week suggested that there was still a possibility that Ukraine was responsible for the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack. He walked back those comments days later but has continued to insist Ukraine interfered in other ways. 

On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Kennedy asserted that reporting in outlets such as Politico and The Economist indicated that the former Ukrainian president favored Clinton over Trump.

“The fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton,” he said.

Todd appeared exasperated with the senator and pushed back on his argument, suggesting Kennedy was furthering a narrative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Are you at all concerned that you’ve been duped?” Todd asked. 

“No, just read the articles,” Kennedy said. 

The Intelligence Committee has concluded that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 election and was seeking to aid the Trump campaign. Former special counsel Robert Mueller determined he could not establish that the Trump campaign worked with Russia.

In the aftermath of that investigation, Trump and some of his allies have continued to claim Ukraine meddled in the 2016 race despite the insistence to the contrary of national security officials. 

[The Hill]

Trump repeats Ukraine conspiracy theory and more debunked lies on 53-minute “Fox & Friends” call

President Trump spent 53 minutes of his Friday morning on the phone with the hosts of “Fox & Friends” — his latest call-in to one of his favorite TV shows.

Driving the news: President Trump spent a chunk of the interview repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “That’s what the word is,” he claimed without evidence.

  • The debunked conspiracy theory — frequently referred to as CrowdStrike, the security firm at its center — is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, said during his impeachment hearing that the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is “a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
  • Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, said during her impeachment hearing that the conspiracy theory is “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Worth noting: Trump also said that Crowdstrike is owned by “a very wealthy Ukrainian,” but it’s actually a publicly-traded company. Its largest outside shareholder is Warburg Pincus, a New York City private equity firm from which Trump plucked one of his top economic advisors.

Impeachment-related highlights:

  • The president once again slammed former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, claiming she was “not an angel.” During her impeachment testimony , she agreed that it was Trump’s prerogative to fire ambassadors at will, but asked, “What I do wonder is why was it necessary to smear my reputation also?”
  • Trump said that during a Senate impeachment trial he only wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify more than Hunter Biden.
  • Trump said that he knows “exactly” who the Ukraine whistleblower is — and insinuated that the “Fox & Friends” hosts did as well — prompting them to attempt to steer the conversation away from the topic live on air.

Other highlights:

  • Trump predicted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t pass the USMCA trade deal, despite it being a priority for some Democratic lawmakers ahead of 2020.
  • He tried to find a middle ground between supporting pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and not offending Chinese President Xi Jinping as the U.S. attempts to close a “phase one” trade deal with China. “We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” he said.
  • Trump denied rumors surrounding his health after a surprise visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center last weekend, calling it “fake, disgusting news.”

2020 lightning round:

  • Joe Biden: “I don’t know if Joe can make it mentally. He’s off.”
  • Pete Buttigieg: “I don’t see him dealing with President Xi. I don’t see him dealing with Kim Jong-un. But maybe he is.”
  • Elizabeth Warren: “I think Pocahontas has come up from the embers.”
  • Michael Bloomberg: “I think his time has come and gone.

[Axios]

Reality

There was multiple fact checks some could only refer to this call as “bananas.”

Media

Trump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell

President Trump on Thursday renewed his attacks against Fox News over its coverage of the impeachment inquiry, taking issue with the network’s decision to interview Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) about the process. 

Trump singled out Fox News host Shannon Bream, asking why she would “waste airtime” by featuring a failed presidential candidate, referencing Swalwell’s short-lived 2020 campaign. 

“Fox should stay with the people that got them there, not losers!” he said. 

Beam interviewed Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, following a day in which the panel heard testimony from three administration officials about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. 

The House impeachment inquiry has centered around allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden over unfounded allegations of corruption. House Democrats are also probing whether Trump tied military aid to Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations. 

While speaking on Fox News, Swalwell adamantly pushed back against Republicans’ argument that a quid pro quo didn’t take place because Ukraine eventually received the security aid. 

“The president got caught. The only reason the aid was released was because the whistleblower came forward,” Swalwell said, referencing a government whistleblower complaint that led to the launch of the impeachment inquiry. 

Swalwell also emphasized new statements from Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, who testified that her staff received questions from the Ukraine Embassy about “security assistance” on July 25. That is the same day Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call to open investigations. 

Trump has repeatedly dismissed allegations of wrongdoing, often characterizing officials testifying in the impeachment inquiry as “Never Trumpers.” In a separate tweet early Thursday morning, he claimed the “fake” and “corrupt” news media weren’t covering the impeachment hearings fairly. 

While Trump has enjoyed a cordial relationship with many of Fox News’s opinion hosts, he’s also shown a willingness to target some of its news anchors. Earlier this week, he blasted “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace as “nasty” and “obnoxious” over an interview in which he persistently grilled House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) about the implications of the impeachment inquiry. 

Trump claimed that the “dumb and unfair interview would never have happened” in the past, prompting a rebuttal from Wallace’s colleague Neil Cavuto. 

“The best we can do as journalists is be fair to all, including you, Mr. President,” Cavuto said on Fox News on Monday. “That’s not fake doing that. What is fake is not doing that. What is fake is saying Fox never used to do that. Mr. President, we have always done that.”

[The Hill]

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY Trump says he will ‘strongly consider’ testifying in House impeachment probe

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is “strongly” considering testifying before the impeachment probe in light of recent comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said he is more than welcome to present his case personally before the House Intelligence Committee.

“Our Crazy, Do Nothing (where’s USMCA, infrastructure, lower drug pricing & much more?) Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, who is petrified by her Radical Left knowing she will soon be gone (they & Fake News Media are her BOSS), suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt,” Trump tweeted. “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”

Speaking with CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an interview that aired Sunday, Pelosi said Trump can “come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants, if he wants to take the oath of office, or he could do it in writing.”

“He has every opportunity to present his case,” she said, adding that if Trump “has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it.”

But Pelosi, calling Trump’s efforts at having Ukraine investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election, said the president’s conduct “was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did.”

“At some point, Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognize that this could not continue,” she said.

Public calls for the president to testify before the committee have ramped up recently. After an extended rant during Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in which the Trump ally said investigators need to have “the person who started” the probe, meaning the first whistleblower, come testify, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., retorted, “I’d like to see the person who started it come testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

Speaking with Fox News on Monday, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., one of Trump’s top allies in battling impeachment, said his advice to the president on testifying before impeachment investigators would be “heck no.”

Earlier this month, Trump decried the idea of the whistleblower providing written answers to Congress, saying they would be “not acceptable.” Trump refused to supply former special counsel Robert Mueller with live testimony, instead opting to provide written answers to a series of questions related to Russian electoral interference. In his more than 400-page report, Mueller said those written answers were “inadequate.”

[NBC News]

Trump Lies About Fact Checkers

President Donald Trump slammed The Washington Post late on Wednesday night over their report claiming that he wanted to have Attorney General William Barr hold a press conference and publicly clear him of any wrongdoing from his July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying that the story was “totally untrue.”

The Washington Post reported late on Wednesday evening:

The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.

…As the rough transcript was released, a Justice Department spokeswoman said officials had evaluated it and the whistleblower complaint to see whether campaign finance laws had been broken, determined that none had been and decided “no further action was warranted.” It was not immediately clear why Barr would not go beyond that statement with a televised assertion that the president broke no laws, nor was it clear how forcefully the president’s desire was communicated.

“The story in the Amazon Washington Post, of course picked up by Fake News CNN, saying ‘President Trump asked for AG Barr to host a news conference clearing him on Ukraine,’ is totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story with anonymous sources that don’t exist,” Trump tweeted. “The LameStream Media, which is The Enemy of the People, is working overtime with made up stories in order to drive dissension and distrust!”

Trump added, “Years ago, when Media was legitimate, people known as ‘Fact Checkers’ would always call to check and see if a story was accurate. Nowadays they don’t use ‘Fact Checkers’ anymore, they just write whatever they want!”

[The Daily Wire]

Trump claims bribery isn’t an impeachable offense — but it’s in the Constitution as an example

President Donald Trump went off on Twitter Sunday against the idea that “some” reports are incorrectly citing Republican senators believe he tried to extort Ukraine.

“False stories are being reported that a few Republican Senators are saying that President Trump may have done a quid pro quo, but it doesn’t matter, there is nothing wrong with that, it is not an impeachable event. Perhaps so, but read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo!”

Quid pro quo” is a Latin word that simply describes extortion or bribery. The Constitution outlines “high crimes and misdemeanors” as impeachable offenses and gives examples in Section 4 of Article II.

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

[Raw Story]

Trump rails against impeachment inquiry as key White House witness testifies

President Trump on Tuesday railed against the impeachment inquiry into his alleged abuse of power ahead of key testimony from a White House official that threatens to deepen the president’s problems.

Trump tweeted or retweeted dozens of messages denying wrongdoing, chastising Democrats for their handling of the impeachment proceedings thus far and questioning the credibility of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who will meet behind closed doors with lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call ‘concerned’ today’s Never Trumper witness,” Trump tweeted. “Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!”

In another tweet, Trump questioned “How many more Never Trumpers will be allowed to testify” and asked “why so many” people were listening in on his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The president repeatedly urged his followers on Tuesday to read a White House rough transcript of the call, which was released in September. The document shows Trump urging Zelensky to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and a company with ties to the Russia investigation.

Vindman on Tuesday will become the first official who was on the call to testify. He will tell lawmakers that he was troubled by Trump urging Zelensky to investigate a political rival and reported it to his supervisor, worrying that the president’s conduct threatened to undermine U.S. national security, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The Hill.

Vindman is a Ukrainian American immigrant and received the Purple Heart for his service in Iraq.

The July 25 call, a whistleblower complaint about the conversation and testimony from several administration officials have formed the basis of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. The House is scheduled to vote this week to formalize the inquiry and lay out rules to govern the process.

Republicans and White House allies have spent recent weeks hammering Democrats over transparency and questioning the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry without a formal vote. But in light of Democrats agreeing to hold such a vote, the president’s backers have shifted their message.

Trump on Tuesday retweeted dozens of messages from Republican lawmakers and conservative voices blasting the process as a “sham” and disputing that holding a formal vote at this point in the process changes that.

“A vote now is a bit like un-Ringing a bell as House Democrats have selectively leaked information in order to damage President @realDonaldTrump for weeks,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted in one message shared by Trump.

“Codifying a sham process halfway through doesn’t make it any less of a sham process,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in another message the president retweeted.

While Republicans have largely focused their complaints on process, Trump has fixated on the substance of the investigation and repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

“I’d rather go into the details of the case rather than process,” Trump said Monday. “Process is good. But I think you ought to look at the case. And the case is very simple. It’s quick. It’s so quick.”

The president’s insistence that he has done nothing wrong puts Republicans in a difficult spot, particularly in the Senate, where some GOP lawmakers have been hesitant to defend Trump’s actions.

Most Republican senators backed a resolution last week condemning the impeachment inquiry against Trump and calling on the House to hold a formal vote on the inquiry. But the document largely focused on process, and a few key senators have yet to sign on to it in support.

[The Hill]

White House to order federal agencies to end NYT and WaPo subscriptions

The White House plans to order all federal agencies not to renew their subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post, two papers that President Trump has repeatedly attacked for their critical coverage of his administration, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The White House said on Tuesday that it would cancel its own subscriptions to the Post and the Times, after Trump complained that they were “fake” during an appearance this week on Fox News’ “Hannity.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email to the Journal: “Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving — hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved.”

Between the lines: Axios’ Sara Fischer notes that the Post and the Times each make around $20 million annually by selling political and issue ads (mostly issue ads) that are geared toward reaching policy makers and opinion leaders at key D.C. institutions, including the White House and federal agencies. Hundreds of copies of the two newspapers are distributed to the White House and agencies.

  • These are expensive ads, and they’re typically the only types of ads with pricing that can’t be negotiated or bartered down.
  • In fact, the Times touts its reach into the White House when selling ads. It even created a separate D.C. edition of its paper printed out of Springfield, Virginia, just to make it cheaper to target federal agencies with ads that could be locally inserted.

The bottom line: This move, if the White House follows through on it, will have an advertising impact on the newspapers at a time when the issue advocacy market is really hot.

[Axios]

Kellyanne Conway threatens to investigate reporter’s personal life in unhinged interview

Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway threatened to investigate a reporter’s personal life during an unhinged interview with the Washington Examiner.

The trouble began after Examiner reporter Caitlin Yilek received a call from Tom Joannou, who serves as Conway’s personal assistant, to complain about a story she’d written that included mentions of husband George Conway, who has become a prominent critic of President Donald Trump.

Joannou asked Yilek if the conversation could be off the record, and she agreed. However, shortly after the two started talking, Kellyanne Conway herself grabbed the phone and started haranguing Yilek.

Because she had only agreed to stay off the record with Joannou, the conversation with Conway was now on the record.

The Trump adviser railed against Yilek for writing about her husband and claimed that he was only now making a name for himself because of her relation with the president.

“Let me tell you something, from a powerful woman,” Conway said. “Don’t pull the crap where you’re trying to undercut another woman based on who she’s married to. He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around.”

Later in the interview, Conway threatened to launch investigations into Yilek’s personal life.

“Listen, if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here,” she said. “If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.”

Read the whole interview at this link.

[Raw Story]

Trump says he doesn’t want NYT in the White House

President Trump said Monday that he doesn’t want to have copies of The New York Times in the White House anymore and suggested he would terminate the subscription.

“We don’t even want it in the White House anymore,” Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Monday night. “We’re going to probably terminate that and the Washington Post.”

Trump also claimed that the Times apologized to its readers for its poor coverage of him, echoing his previous assertions about a letter the newspaper sent to its subscribers following the 2016 presidential election.

The Times has forcefully pushed back on Trump’s accusations as false. The Times’s publisher wrote in the letter to readers that news outlets underestimated Trump’s support among U.S. voters and described his victory as “unexpected.” The letter thanked subscribers and did not include an apology.

Trump, who regularly criticizes the media for unfair coverage of his White House, broadly described the media as “corrupt” during the exchange with Hannity. He also took a shot at CNN’s Anderson Cooper, accusing the anchor of lobbing a question to former Vice President Joe Biden about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings during last Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate.

“I watch this crazy Anderson Cooper during the debate apologize for having to ask the question,” Trump told Hannity.

Cooper has faced some criticism from Republicans for the way he framed a question during last week’s debate. He introduced the question by saying that Trump had “falsely accused” Hunter Biden of impropriety while serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and said there was “no evidence of wrongdoing” by either Biden. 

Trump’s allies, including his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., have claimed Hunter Biden profited off of his father’s official position by obtaining lucrative business deals abroad. Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have also accused Joe Biden of corrupt behavior in his dealings with Ukraine as vice president, without providing specific evidence of it.

House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry focused on a July 25 phone call during which Trump encouraged Ukraine’s leader to look into the Bidens. 

[The Hill]

1 2 3 30