W

November 16, 2019

Week 157

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

This week public impeachment hearings started, with three career diplomats testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Senate Republicans were notably quiet in their defense of Trump, while Republican House members focused mostly on the process, especially for the third witness, Maria Yovanovitch, who proved unassailable. William Taylor testified about a previously unknown phone call on July 26 overheard by his staffer David Holmes, in which Trump asked about “the investigation,” and Sondland assured him Ukraine would comply. Closed door hearings continued as well, as more career officials came forward to testify.

This week, Trump faced threats on other fronts, as longtime ally Roger Stone was found guilty on all charges of lying to Congress, tampering with witnesses, and concealing evidence in an effort prosecutors said was to shield Trump. Stone’s conviction was the sixth of a senior Trump official arising from the Mueller probe. This week Trump lawyers appealed two cases to the Supreme Court, both of which would require him to turn over eight years of his tax returns.

The world order continued to shift, as Trump hosted and praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, weeks after Turkish-forces invaded Northern Syria, and notably in contrast to having not yet hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. French President Emmanuel Macron announced France would host a Ukraine summit on December 9, inviting leaders of Ukraine, Russia, and Germany, while pledging unwavering support to Zelensky.

  1. On Saturday, CNN reported John Bolton, who refused to testify in the impeachment inquiry in Week 156, has landed a book deal. Bolton’s book will be published before the 2020 presidential election.
  2. On Saturday, Chair Adam Schiff said the whistleblower would not be called to testify, saying, “It remains the duty of the Intelligence Committee to protect whistleblowers,” and it would be “redundant and unnecessary.”
  3. On Saturday, NYT reported State Department officials are showing their support for Maria Yovanovitch, who is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry Friday, using the hashtag #GoMasha.
  4. Employees also have raised money for department officials testifying, and share supportive notes about William Taylor and George Kent. Rarely have State officials been at the center of a revolt against a president and his top appointees.
  5. On Sunday, Nikki Haley claimed in a new book that John Kelly and Rex Tillerson tried to recruit her to undermine Trump, saying, “they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country.”
  6. Haley also claimed that while serving as Secretary of State, Tillerson told her people would die if Trump went unchecked. At the time she was U.S. ambassador to the UN, and refused.
  7. On Sunday, Donald Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle were booed offstage by far right students at an event for his book, “Triggered,” at UCLA, after he refused to take questions.
  8. The scene contradicted the central thesis of Donald Jr.’s book on the left’s intolerance, and revealed a fissure between conservatives in Turning Point USA and self-professed nationalists in the “America First” movement.
  9. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham told “Fox News Sunday” that if House Democrats keep the whistleblower’s identity private then impeachment is “dead on arrival” when it reaches the Senate.
  10. On Sunday, Republicans complained about House Republicans not being able to call their chosen witnesses. Sen. John Kennedy said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chair Schiff are “doubling down on stupid.”
  11. Sen. Rand Paul told “Meet the Press” not being able to call Hunter Biden and the whistleblower is “sort of a sham,” adding, “That’s not really even a trial.”
  12. Shortly after, Trump also complained, tweeting, “Corrupt politician Adam Schiff” wants White House staffers “to testify in his and Pelosi’s disgraceful Witch Hunt,” but will not “allow ANY of our requested witnesses.”
  13. Trump also tweeted, “The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT. Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong,” adding, “NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!”
  14. Trump also warned, “Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable.” WAPO reported so far 14 Republicans and Trump appointees have said the call was not perfect.
  15. On Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson said on “State of the Union” that he would take impeachment inquiry testimony from Gordon Sondland, Fiona Hill, and Alexander Vindman “with a grain of salt.”
  16. On Sunday, NYT reported Lev Parnas claimed he told a representative from the incoming government in Ukraine that VP Mike Pence would not come to the inauguration and aid would be frozen unless they announced an investigation of the Bidens.
  17. Parnas claimed he delivered the warning in Kiev, shortly before the inauguration in May. If his claim is corroborated, it would be the earliest instance of U.S. aid being tied to demands Ukraine investigate.
  18. Lawyers for Igor Fruman said Parnas’s claim, which contradicts the narrative of Trump and Rudy Giuliani and would directly link Giuliani to threats, was false, saying the demand did not come up in the meeting.
  19. On Sunday, Rep. Peter King, who served in Congress for almost three decades, said he would retire and not run in 2020. King was the 20th House Republican to announce their plan not to run in 2020.
  20. On Sunday, Bill Moyers told CNN for the first time in his life he fears for the country, saying, “a society, a democracy, can die of too many lies. And we’re getting close to that terminal moment.”
  21. On Monday, Axios reported a poll found 74% of Democrats say politics is making them angry, and 71% say they feel like “strangers in their own land.” For Republicans, the numbers were 57% angry, 52% like strangers.
  22. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “So with one Rally by me at the end of the campaign, I lift the poll numbers of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin by 19 points.” This is false. A poll before had Bevin up by five points.
  23. On Monday, Trump attacked the impeachment probe, tweeting, “lawyer for the Whistleblower takes away all credibility from this big Impeachment Scam!” saying he and Schiff “should be investigared [sic] for fraud!
  24. Trump also falsely claimed “Shifty Adam Schiff” had “doctored transcripts,” and “Republicans should put out their own transcripts!” and “Schiff must testify as to why he MADE UP a statement from me.”
  25. On Monday, House investigators released transcripts of testimony for Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, and Christopher Anderson. Cooper said she first learned at a mid-June meeting with Trump about aid being withheld.
  26. Cooper said she got “Follow-up from POTUS meeting” questions from Mick Mulvaney on which U.S. industries were involved in the aid, what other countries were contributing, and which agencies provided the funding.
  27. Cooper testified she and other Pentagon officials repeatedly warned the White House during the summer that failing to release aid to Ukraine that had been approved by Congress could violate the Impoundment Control Act.
  28. Cooper said Kurt Volker let her to make a “very strong inference” Ukraine knew aid was being withheld long before the information was made public, and Taylor sounded “alarm bells…that there were Ukrainians who knew.”
  29. Cooper said on July 18 the Pentagon sought clarification from the White House on why aid was being held up. On July 23, the Office of Management and Budget told agencies Trump had “concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance.”
  30. Cooper was asked by Steve Castor, one of the House Republican lawyers, about the whistleblower. Cooper said she was unaware of the complaint before it was made public. Much of her related testimony was redacted.
  31. Anderson, an adviser to Volker, testified he heard warning from Bolton on the influence Giuliani was having on Trump related to Ukraine, saying, “every time Ukraine is mentioned, Giuliani pops up.”
  32. Anderson testified Bolton told him Trump called him at home to complain about a CNN story that the Navy was pushing back against Russian aggression in the Black Sea. The operation was later canceled.
  33. Anderson said he was concerned that Giuliani’s presence with Trump would make it harder for the U.S. to push Russia back to the negotiations table to end its armed conflict with Ukraine.
  34. Croft, who succeeded Anderson, said she was “trepidatious” about taking the job, saying, “it was possible that the Trump administration would choose to change its policy to suit domestic politics.”
  35. Croft testified the Ukrainians “found out very early on” that Ukraine aid had been frozen. She said the decision by the OMB was made at Trump’s behest, and was widely circulated on July 18.
  36. Croft also testified Mulvaney, as then head of the OMB, put a hold on sending lethal Javelin missiles to Ukraine, citing, “Russia would react negatively to the provision of Javelins to Ukraine.”
  37. Croft noted it was “rather unusual to have OMB expressing concerns that were purely policy-based and not budget-oriented.” OMB staffers also started to regularly attend meetings on Ukraine, which was atypical.
  38. Cooper also said it was unusual for OMB to be out of step on withholding aid, after the Pentagon gave its approval in May, and approval of Ukraine’s anti-corruption work was “unanimous” from the ­other agencies.
  39. Shortly after, Trump reiterated his call for the whistleblower to testify, tweeting, “Where is the Whistleblower who gave so much false information? Must testify along with Schiff and others!”
  40. Trump also tweeted, “To think I signed the Whistleblower Protection Act!” Trump signed the the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law, which has nothing to do with the whistleblower’s complaint.
  41. Trump also tweeted, “Read the Transcript. It is PERFECT!” and added, “Schiff is giving Republicans NO WITNESSES, NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS!” calling it “a totally one sided Witch Hunt.”
  42. Trump also repeated his false claim about Schiff altering transcripts, tweeting, “Just like Schiff fabricated my phone call, he will fabricate the transcripts that he is making and releasing!”
  43. Trump again teased about releasing a second Ukraine call transcript, tweeting, “In order to continue being the most Transparent President in history” he would release it, and “I am sure you will find it tantalizing!”
  44. On Monday, Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state under George W. Bush, said reports of shadow diplomacy in Ukraine were “deeply troubling,” and said of Trump’s July 25 call, “it is really murky.”
  45. On Monday, Trump returned to New York to kick off the 100th annual New York City Veterans Day Parade. Protestors gathered along the streets, carrying signs for impeachment, and shouting “Shame!”
  46. As Trump delivered his speech, protestors booed and jeered. Others shouted “Lock him up!” and “traitor,” and blew whistles, drowning out part of his 18 minute speech, delivered from behind a thick plexiglass shield.
  47. On Sunday, WAPO reported Mulvaney’s effort to join Charles Kupperman’s lawsuit upset allies of John Bolton, who has the same lawyer. Bolton views Mulvaney as a key participant in the Ukraine pressure campaign.
  48. On Monday, the lawyer for Kupperman said in a filing that Mulvaney should not be able join their lawsuit since Mulvaney had spoken publicly about the impeachment inquiry at the White House briefing room.
  49. On Monday, House Democrats also filed saying Mulvaney should not be able to join, citing “the subpoena…has been withdrawn,” and “Mulvaney is differently situated from Kupperman in several important respects.”
  50. On Monday, Mulvaney filed a notice of withdrawal of his motion in Week 156 to join Kupperman’s lawsuit. On Tuesday, a notice filed by Mulvaney said he planned to file as a separate, related case.
  51. On Monday, WAPO reported on a rift between Mulvaney’s office and White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s camp over how to counter impeachment. The infighting has left the White House without a coherent strategy.
  52. Mulvaney and OMB officials who have been called to testify have refused. Mulvaney feels Cipollone is not doing enough to stop others. Cipollone feels Mulvaney made things worse with his October 17 press conference.
  53. On Tuesday, Mulvaney reversed course, saying he will not sue to block the impeachment subpoena, and instead he will “rely on the direction of” Trump and government lawyers in not appearing for a deposition.
  54. On Tuesday, in a series of tweets, Trump said, “Why is such a focus put on 2nd and 3rd hand witnesses, many of whom are Never Trumpers, or whose lawyers are Never Trumpers,” offering no evidence this is the case.
  55. Trump also tweeted, “all you have to do is read the phone call (transcript)” adding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “no pressure” was put on him to investigate “Sleepy Joe Biden,” and “I have an “obligation” to look into corruption.”
  56. Trump also tweeted Hunter Biden has “no knowledge or talent” and took millions from Ukraine and China, adding, “Both Bidens should be forced to testify in this No Due Process Scam!
  57. Trump sent a fourth tweet at 6:30 a.m., again referencing the second call, saying, “I will be releasing the transcript of the first, and therefore more important, phone call with the Ukrainian President before week’s end!”
  58. On Monday, Hillary Clinton called UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s delay in releasing a report on possible Russian interference in the Brexit vote “damaging, inexplicable and shaming.”
  59. On Monday, James Le Mesurier, a former British army officer who helped start the “White Helmets” aid group in Syria, was found dead, three days after Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman accused him of being a spy.
  60. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors asked a grand jury to issue a superseding indictment, alleging Russia-based Internet Research Agency conspired to interfere with more than one function of the Federal Election Commission.
  61. Prosecutors said IRA also tried to interfere with an FEC ban which prohibits spending on U.S. elections by foreign nationals. The case stemmed from the Mueller probe which indicted 13 Russian individuals and three firms.
  62. On Tuesday, a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee found Russian GRU hackers who stole tens of thousands of sensitive Democratic Party documents in 2016 struggled to disseminate them on social media.
  63. The report analyzed Facebook data, and found the Russian military hackers tried to post information on June 14 but got little traction. They then used Twitter persona Guccifer 2.0 to direct message U.S. journalists.
  64. On July 22, WikiLeaks published the documents and tweeted to its 3.2 million followers, and the documents went viral. Committee Chair Richard Burr called the threat of foreign interference “persistent and evolving.”
  65. On Monday, Politico reported a new report by consumer rights group Public Citizen found 200 mostly conservative campaigns and political groups have spent $8 million at Trump properties since 2016.
  66. The report found between 2012 and 2014, the groups spent just $69,000 at Trump businesses, but after he announced his run for president in 2015, the amount was $19 million, including monies spent by his campaign.
  67. On Monday, NYT reported a new draft of an EPA proposal, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would significantly limit the scientific and medical research used to write public health rules.
  68. Scientists and physicians protested, saying the rule, which would be retroactively applied, would undermine science in policy making, noting studies on mercury, lead in paint, and air pollution would be excluded.
  69. On Monday, Politico reported Trump’s new national security adviser Robert O’Brien is moving to dramatically shrink the National Security Council, raising concerns the move is related to the impeachment inquiry.
  70. In the coming months, several dozen policy roles will be eliminated, and at least two NSC divisions are being phased out and a third moved to the White House. O’ Brien claims the changes are about improving efficiency of government.
  71. On Monday, AP reported a month after Energy Department Sec. Rick Perry visited Ukraine for Zelensky’s inauguration, two of his political supporters, Michael Bleyzer and Alex Cranberg, were awarded a gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government.
  72. During that trip, Perry handed Zelensky a list of people he recommended as energy advisers. Bleyzer and Cranberg got the lucrative Varvynska deal despite offering millions of dollars less than their competitor to the Ukrainian government.
  73. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “A great try by @seanspicer. We are all proud of you!” after the former White House press secretary was voted off of “Dancing With the Stars.”
  74. On Tuesday, the Scotsman reported after four years and the case going to Scotland’s highest court, Trump’s firm lost a battle to stop an offshore wind farm, and must pay the Scottish government £225,000 for its legal bills.
  75. On Tuesday, Politico reported according to new documents, at least eight former Trump White House and campaign officials were hired by Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma as consultants.
  76. The contractors were among at least 40 PR consultants hired on a $2.25 million contract to improve Verma’s personal brand and improve “strategic communications.” The contract was halted in April after Politico’s reporting.
  77. On Tuesday, Trump said at a speech at the Economic Club of New York that Ivanka “created 14 million jobs.” Since Trump took office, the economy has added about 6 million jobs.
  78. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Mina Chang, a top Trump appointee at the State Department, significantly embellished her resume and created a fake Time cover with her image, another example of the regime’s lax vetting.
  79. On Thursday, CNN reported the RNC will host its annual meeting at the Trump National Doral, according to an email to members. Trump abruptly reversed his decision to hold the G7 summit at the Doral in Week 154.
  80. On Sunday, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, stickers shaped like yellow Jewish stars saying “Jude” were found at multiple Jewish cemetery sites in Denmark and Sweden, and also found at some homes.
  81. On Tuesday, the FBI annual report showed hate crimes reached a 16-year high in 2018, including a 37% rise in attacks on people with disabilities and 34% rise in attacks against transgender people.
  82. On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on over 900 emails sent by Stephen Miller to Breitbart editors from March 2015 to June 2016, suggesting he promoted white nationalism and far-right extremist ideas.
  83. Katie McHugh, a former Breitbart editor, leaked the emails, which were mostly related to race or immigration. Miller focused on crimes committed by nonwhites, and severely limiting or ending nonwhite immigration.
  84. The emails showed Miller used information from white supremacist sources like American Renaissance and VDARE and sent it to Breitbart and others for them to use in framing stories.
  85. Emails also show Miller reached out to anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller, and had ties to white nationalist figures, including Duke classmate Richard Spencer, a relationship he tried to hide to protect Trump.
  86. On Tuesday, AP reported the U.S. government held a record number of migrant children in custody in 2019: an unprecedented 69,550 children in the past year.
  87. The number of migrant children is up 42% from fiscal 2018 to 2019. United Nations researchers said the U.S. has detained more children away from their parents than any other country.
  88. On Wednesday, CNN reported immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli was expected to be elevated to acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, the number two post in the department, giving him greater latitude on Trump’s signature issue.
  89. Chad Wolf was named acting secretary of DHS — the fifth person to hold the position under Trump. Republican and Democratic senators called on Trump to stop the “widespread use of temporary leadership.”
  90. On Tuesday, as the Supreme Court was about to hear a case to end DACA, Trump tweeted, “Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels,’” adding, “Some are very tough, hardened criminals.”
  91. On Tuesday, it appeared the Supreme Court’s conservative majority would allow Trump to end DACA, which shields 700,000 young immigrants from deportation as has broad, bipartisan support.
  92. Trump’s two nominees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, said they would not second guess the regime’s reasoning and ask for further explanation. The decision will address Trump’s power over immigration.
  93. Later Tuesday, Trump quoted Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, tweeting, “DACA recipients with arrest records: 53,792!,” a misleading claim, and added, “Not good, but we will be able to make a deal with the Dems!”
  94. Trump also quoted Dobbs on the impeachment hearings starting Wednesday, tweeting, “This ridiculous Impeachment is a travesty, it’s not an inquiry. Just read the transcript.”
  95. Trump also quoted Fox News host Sean Hannity, saying, “The circus is coming to town,” blaming “The corrupt, compromised, coward & congenital liar Adam Schiff,” and “raging psychotic Democrats,” and “the Media Mob.”
  96. Trump added, “Everything you’re going to see in the next two weeks is rigged,” adding, “This is a phony showtrial” with “zero due process,” and “another fraudulent hoax conspiracy theory. It is another Witch Hunt.”
  97. Trump also added from Hannity that all Democrats have done for three years is “hurt Donald Trump and we, the people that support him. The Left has never accepted the results of the 2016 Election.”
  98. On Tuesday, House Democrats announced eight more witnesses will testify next week in the impeachment hearings, including Jennifer Williams, Vindman, Volker, Tim Morrison, Sondland, Cooper, David Hale, and Hill.
  99. On Wednesday, Trump continued to tweet from Fox News in the early morning, quoting “Fox & Friends,” tweeting, “‘Millions of Americans will see what a partisan sham this whole thing is.’ Rush Limbaugh”
  100. Trump also quoted “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy, tweeting: “The Democrats have stacked the deck against President Trump and the Republicans. They have leaked out everything.”
  101. Trump also quoted Charles Hurt on “Fox & Friends,” tweeting, “Nancy Pelosi cares more about power than she does about principle,” adding, “there was no quid…Ukraine got it’s money…there was no investigation.”
  102. Trump also tweeted, calling William Taylor and George Kent who were about to testify “NEVER TRUMPERS!” Politifact reported there is no evidence that either career foreign service officials are anti-Trump.
  103. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters Trump is “in the Oval in meetings. Not watching. He’s working.” Trump tweeted and retweeted dozens of times during the hearings.
  104. On Wednesday, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NBC broadcast networks pre-empted regular programming for the hearings. Cable-TV also broadcast it live — Fox News topped there with 2.9 million viewers, double an average day.
  105. On Wednesday, Giuliani wrote an op-ed in the WSJ, saying Trump’s “call with the Ukrainian president was innocent, and the House inquiry is a travesty,” claiming a “false narrative” from selectively leaked information.
  106. On Wednesday, a poll by Priorities USA found a plurality support impeachment in battleground states Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania: 49% support impeachment and removal, 45% oppose it.
  107. On Wednesday, Sen. John Cornyn told reporters despite there being 53 GOP senators, Republicans do not have the 51 votes needed to dismiss impeachment articles, saying it would be better to have the trial.
  108. On Wednesday, William Taylor, acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the State Department’s top official on Ukraine policy, were the first two witnesses called in the House impeachment hearings.
  109. During the hearing, House committees announced two new closed door depositions for David Holmes, an official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and Mark Sandy, an official working in the OMB.
  110. Taylor said a member of his staff overheard a phone conversation between Trump and Sondland at a restaurant in Kyiv. After, Taylor said Sondland told the staffer, “Trump cares more about the investigations” than about Ukraine.
  111. Taylor said Sondland told Trump from his cellphone that the Ukrainians were “ready to move forward.” This was the first mention of the call which took place on July 26. The staffer was identified as David Holmes.
  112. Taylor testified Sondland explained to him Trump was a “businessman,” and since he felt he had “been wronged by the Ukrainians” during the 2016 election, “he thought they owed him to fix that wrong.”
  113. Taylor spelled out the importance of U.S. aid to Ukraine, saying “Russian-led forces continue to kill Ukrainians in the war, one or two a week,” and “More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the US assistance.”
  114. Kent said during the Obama administration, he raised concerns about perception of conflicts of interest with Hunter Biden serving on the board of Burisma, but Joe Biden followed U.S. policy and did nothing wrong.
  115. The GOP’s rebuttal was that Ukraine did receive the aid, and there was no investigation of the Bidens. Republicans also complained on multiple occasions that the whistleblower was not scheduled to testify.
  116. Democrats shifted from using the words “quid pro quo” to “bribery” and “extortion.” Taylor noted aid to Ukraine was not only critical to that country, but also to America’s national interests.
  117. Both witnesses had resumes of bipartisan careers in foreign service. Kent noted of future witnesses, “Masha, Alex, and Fiona were born abroad before their families or they themselves personally chose to immigrate”
  118. On Wednesday, Trump was the only White House official to push back on the impeachment inquiry, telling reporters, “I don’t have teams…I’m the team,” and calling the inquiry a “sham,” and it “shouldn’t be allowed.”
  119. Trump also told reporters he did not “recall” the July 26 call with Sondland referenced by Taylor, saying, “No, not at all, not even a little bit.”
  120. Republicans emphasized that neither Taylor nor Kent directly spoke to Trump. Former Trump attorney John Dowd called Taylor “A pitiful, ignorant, insubordinate gossip with no trustworthy information.”
  121. On Wednesday, when asked about new revelations at the hearing, Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters, “when we start to look at the facts, everybody has their impression of what truth is.”
  122. On Wednesday, Trump lawyer Joe diGenova blamed George Soros for Kent and Taylor’s testimony on Fox Business, saying he “controls a large part of” the State Department and “activities of FBI agents overseas.”
  123. George Soros’s Open Society Foundations requested Fox News and Fox Business ban diGenova from appearing over his anti-Semitic rant, and requested an on-air retraction.
  124. On Wednesday, Fox News’ prime time hosts all panned the hearings, calling them a “disaster,” “stupid,” “a national disgrace,” “DEM’S IMPEACHMENT COLLAPSE,” and a “cataclysmic mistake.”
  125. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will not cut the impeachment trial short, and said with many GOP senators facing difficult reelection races, not to make motions that could divide the party.
  126. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Sondland’s cellphone call to Trump was a stunning breach of security. Calling a president from a cellphone violates protocols set up to protect senior officials’ communications.
  127. Russia has also shown an ability to monitor U.S. diplomats’ calls in Kyiv, and leak content to suit its interests. Trump has repeatedly shown a disregard for protocols, making him susceptible to spying.
  128. On Tuesday, NYT reported Trump has discussed firing the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whom he appointed, citing Atkinson reported the whistleblower complaint to Congress.
  129. Trump first surfaced the idea of firing Atkinson around when the complaint was made public, and he has raised the idea with aides again in recent weeks, saying he is not loyal. Some aides say Trump is just venting.
  130. Trump has started complaining about Atkinson publicly, questioning his integrity and accusing him of working with Democrats. Trump tweeted he should testify at impeachment hearings: “I.G.” should “be part of the list!”
  131. On Wednesday, WAPO reported senior aides are counseling Trump not to fire Mulvaney as chief of staff, after he has been threatening to do so for weeks. Trump is especially upset about Mulvaney’s news conference.
  132. Aides caution replacing Mulvaney during the impeachment inquiry would be unwise, especially given that he played an integral role in withholding aid from Ukraine, and cite Bolton as an example of why not to do it.
  133. On Wednesday, while the impeachment hearings were happening, Trump hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a daylong visit at the White House, despite the authoritarian leader’s recent attack in Syria.
  134. The visit comes as Turkish forces have engaged in ethnic cleansing, and 180,000 have been forced to flee. McConnell said, “I share my colleagues’ uneasiness at seeing President Erdogan honored at the White House.”
  135. At a joint news conference with Erdogan, Trump called the impeachment hearings a “witch hunt,” saying, “I hear it’s a joke. I haven’t watched.” Trump added, “This is a sham and shouldn’t be allowed.”
  136. Trump also said, “I want to find out who is the whistleblower,” saying they got a lot wrong about his “perfect call,” and find out “why the IG” presented the complaint when “all he had to do was check the call.”
  137. Trump also said “great lawyers” like Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett and conservative commentator Mark Levin say the call with “Ukraine was a perfect one,” and said of the hearing, “I hear that it’s a hoax.”
  138. Trump heaped praise on Erdogan, saying, “I’m a big fan of the president,” and said like himself, Erdogan has “great relationship with the Kurds,” and sided with him in believing that Europe should help him pay for the 3 million refugees.
  139. The day before the visit, Erdogan threatened to purchase Russian military fighter jets. Trump said this caused “very serious challenges for us,” and “We’ll be talking about it.”
  140. On Wednesday, Sen. Graham blocked a resolution in the Senate recognizing Armenian genocide that had passed 405-11 in the House, after meeting with Trump, Erdogan, and other GOP senators.
  141. On Thursday, Axios reported at a meeting in the Oval Office with five GOP senators, Erdogan took out an iPad and made the group watch an anti-Kurd propaganda film. Trump watched and said nothing.
  142. On Thursday, Turkish media reported Erdogan’s visit as a victory, saying Trump was “silent” when Erdogan returned his “scandalous” letter, and Erdogan told Sen. Graham “what he needed, he learned his lesson.”
  143. Late Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Wow! Was just told that my son’s book, “Triggered,” is Number One on The New York Times Bestseller List. Congratulations Don!” The RNC had made a bulk purchase of the book.
  144. On Thursday, Trump attacked the Federal Reserve, tweeting, “Walmart announces great numbers. No impact from Tariffs,” after Walmart said it raised consumer prices, adding, “Inflation low (do you hear that Powell?)”
  145. On Thursday, AP reported a second diplomatic staffer, Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv, also overheard Trump’s July 26 with Sondland at a restaurant in Kyiv.
  146. The first diplomat referenced by Taylor, David Holmes, a political counselor at the embassy in Kyiv, will testify before House investigators on Friday behind closed doors.
  147. On Thursday, Trump tweeted Rep. John Ratcliffe asked the two “star” witnesses, “where is the impeachable event in that call?” but they said nothing, adding, “That would be the end of a case run by normal people!”
  148. Trump also quoted Fox Business “Varney & Co.,” tweeting, “Neither one of the Democrat star witnesses at the Impeachment hearings could point out an impeachable offense. That’s the result!”
  149. Trump also quoted Dan Henniger of the WSJ, tweeting, “we’ve now had 3 years of the Democrats chasing Donald Trump,” adding Nancy Pelosi should “Look at her own story in the House. What have they done?”
  150. Trump also tweeted, “Where’s the Fake Whistleblower?
  151. On Thursday, at her weekly news conference, Speaker Pelosi said Trump committed “bribery” in the Ukraine scandal, saying what Trump “has admitted to and said it’s perfect — it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”
  152. Pelosi added, “The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections.” Bribery is identified in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.
  153. Pelosi also said, “The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery,” saying Trump “abused his power and violated his oath” in a “clear attempt” to “give himself an advantage in the 2020 election.”
  154. Pelosi also explained the meaning of the word ‘exculpatory’ to Trump, saying, “Mr. President, that means you have anything that shows your innocence — then he should make that known … so far we haven’t see that.”
  155. Pelosi said “We haven’t made a decision to impeach,” noting Nixon had strong public support in the weeks before he resigned, and adding what Trump did and the cover up “makes what Nixon did look almost small.”
  156. Pelosi said “The whistleblower is there to speak truth to power and have protection for doing that,” adding, “any retribution or harm coming to a whistleblower undermines our ability to hear truth about power.”
  157. On Thursday, WAPO reported Sondland’s attorney said Sondland had no plans to resign, and “has the full confidence” of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While some Republicans have turned on him, officials say he has a close relationship with Trump.
  158. Career diplomats in Brussels were appalled at Sondland’s leadership, saying he worked with Stephen Miller on a plan for more “skilled and wealthy” immigrants from Europe, as code for it being racially motivated.
  159. The plan, which Trump tasked him with in June 2018, would have encompassed all E.U. countries, but was scrapped. Sondland, who also worked on it with Jared Kushner, claimed he did not know the intention.
  160. On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr told reporters, “I don’t remember” Trump making a request for him to do a news conference and say there was no wrongdoing in Ukraine.
  161. On Wednesday, AP reported the DOJ’s inspector general Michael Horowitz is close to releasing a report on the early stages of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia.
  162. Horowitz has been examining the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court applications to monitor Carter Page. The report will also test of credibility of Barr’s assertion the FBI’s investigative decisions were problematic.
  163. On Wednesday, Barr said of the report, “it’s my understanding that it is imminent,” adding, “A number of people who were mentioned in the report are having an opportunity right now to comment.”
  164. On Thursday, WAPO reported the DOJ IG told witnesses reviewing the draft sections of the report that they will not be able to give written feedback, only verbal feedback, an unusual step that leaves no paper trail.
  165. Witnesses are also being asked to review their section in a secure area, and say the entire draft document is marked “Top Secret,” so anyone who discusses the report’s contents could be committing a crime.
  166. Some expressed concern the unusual restrictions will make the report less accurate, saying they will not be able to ensure their changes are recorded accurately, and the IG can control the characterization of their comments.
  167. On Thursday, before heading to a rally in Louisiana, Trump had what was described as an “animated” talk with Barr in the Oval Office. The conversation was witnessed by the White House press corps.
  168. White House Counsel Pat Cippollone and press secretary Grisham were also in the meeting. Trump, whose departure was delayed by 45 minutes, passed by the press corps and did not speak to reporters.
  169. Later Thursday, after WAPO reporting, Horowitz changed course and told the Post witnesses can submit written feedback “consistent with rules to protect classified information.”
  170. On Friday, CNN reported, according to two witnesses, Trump was speaking to Barr and Cippollone about the upcoming report to be issued by Horowitz’s office, again raising concerns about the report’s integrity.
  171. Later Thursday, Trump held a rally in Louisiana for the second time in two weeks, as the Republican running for governor faced an unusually tight race. Trump does not have any other rallies scheduled for the rest of year.
  172. Trump told the crowd, “The absolutely crazed lunatics, the Democrats, radical left, and their media partners standing right back there…are pushing the deranged impeachment witch hunt for doing nothing wrong.”
  173. Trump attacked Kent and Taylor, saying, “You saw yesterday how about when they asked these two Never Trumpers, ‘what exactly do you think you impeach him for?’” adding, “they stood there and went like, ‘what?’”
  174. Trump also attacked Chair Schiff, mocking him and saying, “Little Shifty Schiff. He’s got the little 10-inch neck,” adding, “He will not make the LSU football team, that I can tell you.”
  175. Trump also said, “What a life I lead,” adding, “You think this is fun, don’t you? But it’s been very hard on my family.” And told the crowd, “You gotta give me a big win please. Please.”
  176. Later Thursday, just before midnight, Trump referenced in tweets Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko saying Sondland did not explicitly mention linking U.S. military aid to investigations of the Bidens.
  177. Trump tweeted, “Democrats must apologize to USA,” and “THE FAKE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY IS NOW DEAD!”
  178. On Thursday, in an interview with the Guardian, Giuliani said he is confident Trump will stay loyal to him during the impeachment inquiry, and mused he has good “insurance” just in case.
  179. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Giuliani is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations, bribing foreign officials, and failure to register as a foreign agent.
  180. An official said Giuliani’s activities raise counterintelligence concerns, but there probably would not be charges for it. If he is charged or indicted, it could expose Trump to a new level of legal and political jeopardy.
  181. On Friday, WSJ reported federal prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani personally profited from a Ukrainian natural-gas pipeline venture pushed by Parnas and Fruman.
  182. Parnas and Fruman pitched their plans for a pipeline in meetings in Ukraine, saying it had the support of the Trump regime. At the meetings, they also pushed for investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
  183. In conversations over the summer, Parnas and Fruman told Ukrainian officials that Giuliani was a partner in the pipeline venture, a project of their company, Global Energy Producers, and a prospective investor.
  184. On Tuesday, Rick Gates testified at the trial for Roger Stone that Stone told him in April 2016 that WikiLeaks planned to dump information in the heat of the presidential race, two months before they were leaked.
  185. Gates also testified Stone requested contact information in June for Jared Kushner. Gates also said the campaign was elated when it learned more information on WikiLeaks publishing damaging emails, calling it “a gift.”
  186. Gates said Stone and Trump spoke in July 2016, after Trump told him “more information would be coming.” Trump said in his sworn written testimony to Mueller he did not recall getting information in advance.
  187. Testimony by Steven Bannon and Gates revealed how enthusiastic the Trump campaign was about using hacked emails starting in April 2016, and how involved Trump was in encouraging the campaign to seek it out.
  188. On Wednesday, Stone did not testify in his trial; instead his lawyers played audio of his Congressional testimony, arguing candidates use opposition research all the time, saying, “This is what happens in campaigns.”
  189. On Wednesday, a full panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit voted 8-3 to let stand a three-judge decision that the House Oversight Committee can seek eight years of Trump’s tax returns.
  190. Two of the three dissenting judges were Trump appointees. The ruling was put on hold for seven days for Trump to appeal. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said they “will be seeking review at the Supreme Court.”
  191. On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to shield him from having to turn over his return in a separate case involving the Manhattan DA, who is investigating hush-money payments.
  192. Jay Sekulow wrote, “For the first time in our nation’s history” a president has been “subjected him to coercive criminal process,” calling it a perfect illustration of why a sitting president should be “categorically immune.”
  193. On Friday, Trump appealed to the Supreme Court for a second time in two days, relating to the House Oversight Committee, asking that his accounting firm Mazars USA not have to turn over his tax returns.
  194. The requests put the Supreme Court in a position to consider historic separations of power decisions, with two demands for the same information. The DOJ filed a brief in support for the House case.
  195. On Thursday, at a Federalist Society annual dinner honoring Brett Kavanaugh in Washington DC, protestors rolled up a big screen and blared Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony as guests were arriving.
  196. Also outside the event, protestors stood dressed up in Handmaid’s Tale costumes as guests entered, while others shouted, “I believe Anita Hill. I believe Dr Ford.” There were also protestors inside who were removed.
  197. On Thursday, political newsletter Popular Information revealed Facebook was a “gold sponsor” for the event, risking employee unrest and negative attention from activists over the companies policies.
  198. On Thursday, WAPO reported Mark Sandy, a longtime career employee of the OMB, is expected to break ranks and testify on Saturday to the House committees on impeachment, the first OMB employee to do so.
  199. Three other OMB employees who were political appointees refused to testify. Sandy was expected to testify behind closed doors in response to a subpoena, and provide information on the holdup of aid to Ukraine.
  200. On Thursday, NPR reported in the era of Trump, career civil servants are frequently targeted by the conservative media and alt-right trolls, saying they are part of the so-called “deep state” trying to undermine Trump.
  201. A State Department IG report concluded the treatment of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a foreign service officer, violated department policy, saying, “perceived political opinions, perceived association” led to her demotion.
  202. Nowrouzzadeh claimed she was falsely portrayed in conservative media as a “Muslim spy,” a member of the “deep state” who was disloyal to Trump. When she complained about the article, she was demoted.
  203. On Friday, Maria Yovanovitch testified in the impeachment inquiry. As the hearing started, the White House released the second transcript Trump had teased, of his April 21 call congratulating Zelensky on the election.
  204. The White House version was not verbatim, but based on the notes of national security council aides who listened in on the conversation. In his opening remarks, Rep. Devin Nunes read the transcript of the call aloud.
  205. The rough transcript released Friday differed significantly from the official readout White House had initially released describing the conversation on the day that it happened.
  206. The initial readout was based on talking points given to Trump, and included that Trump “expressed his commitment” to work with Zelensky to “strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.”
  207. The readout was not adjusted to what Trump actually said. He did not in fact mention U.S. support for Ukraine in its fight over territory with Russia, or Ukraine’s effort to address corruption in the call.
  208. In the version Nunes read aloud, Zelensky invited Trump to his inauguration, and Trump invited him to visit the White House, saying, “We’ll let you know very soon, and we will see you very soon, regardless.”
  209. Trump did not attend, and WAPO reported he pulled Vice President Mike Pence from attending. Ultimately, the U.S. sent a delegation led by Sec. Perry that included Volker, Sondland, and Sen. Ron Johnson.
  210. Trump congratulated Zelensky, who said, “thank you so very much. As you can see, we tried very hard to do our best. We had you as a great example.” Trump then compared his own win, saying, “in a way, I did something similar.”
  211. Trump also bragged, “We have the most tremendous economy ever,” and added, to compliment Ukraine, “When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people,” and “Ukraine was always very well represented.”
  212. After Nunes’s recital, Yovanovitch testified she was the victim of a “smear campaign” against her which was orchestrated by Trump allies working with corrupt Ukrainians, and leading to her recall based on untruths.
  213. She said, “Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect,” adding, “If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States.”
  214. She said an article by John Solomon, quoting Yuri Lutsenko claiming she had spoken ill of Trump, was promoted by Donald Jr. and Fox News, and was false. Asked about it, she said, “Well, I was worried.”
  215. Yovanovitch testified the phone call saying she was recalled came while hosting a ceremony to honor a young anticorruption activist, Kateryna Handziuk, who was attacked with acid outside her home and later died.
  216. State Department Director General Carol Perez told her about “great concern” about her security. In a subsequent call she was told to get the next flight. She said, “I argued, ‘This is extremely irregular.’”
  217. Back home, she was told by deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, “The president has lost confidence in you.” She said she felt “terrible” adding, “After 33 years of service to our country, this is not how I wanted my career to end.”
  218. She said when she read the transcript of Trump’s comments about her on the July 25 call, “It was a terrible moment,” adding, “A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face.”
  219. Yovanovitch added, “As Foreign Service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution is also being degraded,” adding, “This will soon cause real harm, if it hasn’t already.”
  220. As Yovanovitch testified about Trump’s smear campaign against her, he tweeted, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”
  221. Trump added, “Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” adding, “They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.”
  222. Chair Schiff stopped the hearing to read her the tweets and ask what she thought. She responded, “It’s very intimidating,” adding, “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but the effect is to be intimidating.”
  223. Fox News host Brett Baier called it “a turning point in this hearing so far,” saying Yovanovitch “was already a sympathetic witness,” and Trump’s tweet added “an article of impeachment real-time.”
  224. Yovanovitch testified about “a crisis in the state department” saying policy process is “unraveling,” and “leadership vacancies go unfilled, and senior and mid-level officers ponder an uncertain future and head for the doors.”
  225. Trump tweeted in response, saying vacancies are “because we do not want or need as many people as past administrations,” and “Democrats delay the approval process to levels unprecedented in the history.”
  226. Politico noted not a single Republican on the House Intelligence Committee backed up Trump for his Twitter attacks on Yovanovitch, or sought to legitimize the smear attempts at her or her removal.
  227. Republicans all praised Yovanovitch for her service and none tried to undercut her credibility or intentions. In response to their questioning, she said, “I do wonder, why it was necessary to smear my reputation.”
  228. At 3:20 p.m., Schiff gaveled the public hearing to a close. Yovanovitch received cheers and a standing ovation as she left the room.
  229. Later Friday, Trump defended his Yovanovitch attack, telling reporters, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just like other people do,” adding he is “allowed to speak up” if others are speaking about him.
  230. Trump also told reporters, “I watched a little bit of it today. I wasn’t able to yesterday because we had the president of Turkey here,” adding, “I watched some of it this morning and I thought it was a disgrace.”
  231. Later Friday, Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy lashed out at Trump for his tweet attacking Yovanovitch during her testimony, saying “it makes him look like a big dumb baby,” and “makes her look like a victim.”
  232. Speaker Pelosi told “Face the Nation” Trump’s tweet was “a mistake,” saying, “he knows her strength” and was trying to undermine it, adding, “He should not frivolously throw out insults, but that’s what he does.”
  233. Pelosi also said, “I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter,” adding, “I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.”
  234. Later Friday, in response to the discrepancy in what Nunes read and the readout of Trump’s April 21 call with Zelensky, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley blamed Vindman, who he said prepared the readout.
  235. Vindman said in his closed door testimony the April conversation “was actually a very good call,” and “Everybody was happy, high-fiving from that call because we were moving in the right direction for Ukraine.”
  236. WAPO later reported that Vindman was not responsible for making the final update to the readout, and that then press secretary Sarah Sanders held on to the readout before turning it over for public release.
  237. On Friday, Roger Stone was found guilty on all seven counts of obstructing a Congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The jury deliberated for less than two days.
  238. Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and concealing reams of evidence. Prosecutors asserted Stone’s motive for the falsehoods was to protect Trump, making Trump and his campaign central.
  239. Stone’s defense team had urged jurors to treat the case as a referendum on Mueller’s entire Russia investigation, not him, and repeated there was “no collusion” with Russia, just a campaign interested in information.
  240. Two of the government prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky and Adam Jed, served in the Mueller probe. Several other members of Mueller’s team sat in the courtroom gallery for opening and closing statements.
  241. Stone was released and will be sentenced on February 3. He faces up to 50 years in prison. Fox News host Tucker Carlson and InfoWars host Alex Jones have publicly called on Trump to pardon Stone.
  242. Trump tweeted now they “convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years,” and “what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele.”
  243. Trump also tweeted, and “all of the others, including even Mueller himself?” adding, “Didn’t they lie?” Trump then tweeted, “A double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country?
  244. Stone was the sixth person close to Trump to have been convicted of a crime stemming from the Russia investigation: Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Gates, Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos.
  245. Later Friday, David Holmes testified behind closed doors to the House committees in the late afternoon, telling lawmakers he overheard a phone call in Kyiv between Trump and Sondland on July 26.
  246. CNN obtained Holmes’ opening statement. Holmes said he was asked to be a note taker in a meeting between Sondland and Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak, but when he arrived, he was told it was a one-on-one meeting.
  247. After, he and two others went to lunch with Sondland. On the restaurant terrace, Sondland placed a call to Trump. Holmes said Trump spoke loudly and he could hear his voice though the earpiece on Sondland’s phone.
  248. Holmes said Sondland told Trump that “Zelensky ‘loves your ass.’” Holmes said he heard “Trump ask ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ and Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it.’”
  249. Sondland also told Trump that “Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.’” Holmes added, “Even though I did not take notes of those statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made.”
  250. Holmes also said at a foreign policy meeting, Sondland said: “Damnit, Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f — -s everything up.” And Bolton expressed frustration over Giuliani’s influence with Trump.
  251. Holmes said Taylor told him on September 8: “Now they’re insisting Zelensky commit to the investigation in an interview with CNN,” adding, “I was surprised the requirement was so specific and concrete.”
  252. Holmes said on September 13, two days after aid was released, Taylor saw Yermak and stressed the importance of staying out of US politics. Holmes said Yermak “shrugged in resignation” as if “they had no choice.”
  253. Late Friday, at the end of impeachment hearings, Trump pardoned two Army officers and restored rank to a Navy SEAL, despite opposition by military justice experts and senior Pentagon officials.
  254. Defense Sec. Mark Esper and Army Sec. Ryan McCarthy had asked Trump not to intervene in the cases, citing overriding the Uniform Code of Military Justice could damage the integrity of the military judicial system.
  255. Esper and other military leaders told Trump a pardon could also hamper the ability of military leaders to ensure good order and discipline, and hurt confidence of U.S. allies and partners who host troops.
  256. The White House said Trump acted as commander in chief, and is “ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted.”
  257. On Friday, in a fiery, hour-long speech to conservative lawyers at the Federalist Society, AG Barr delivered a defense of Trump and his expansive views on executive power.
  258. Barr claimed “in waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war,” the Resistance against Trump “is engaged in a systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law.”
  259. Barr said, “Resistance is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power,” adding it connotes a government is not legitimate, and is a “very dangerous” and “incendiary.”
  260. Barr said House Democrats were subverting what “the people,” who knew Trump was untraditional, decided, and Trump’s opponents are “engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government.”
  261. Barr took shots at the legislative and judicial branches’ years of “encroachment” on executive power, blaming the Democrats and the media for wanting those branches to protect from a “would-be autocrat.”
  262. On Friday, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron said France would host a Ukraine Peace Summit on December 9, including Zelensky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  263. Ahead of the summit, Macron promised Zelensky aid and support, telling him in a phone call “that Ukraine could further count on France’s support in all matters.”
  264. On Friday, the Moscow Times reported Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a former U.S. air base in Northern Syria, vacated by Trump. The landing was shown on Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel.
  265. On Friday, CNN reported Trump is demanding South Korea pay roughly 400% more in 2020 to cover the costs of keeping U.S. troops on the peninsula. Aides say Trump’s demand “came out of thin air.”
  266. Trump’s proposed price hike frustrated Pentagon officials and deeply concerned Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and angered and unnerved Seoul, where leaders are questioning the alliance.
  267. On Saturday, CNN reported at last year’s White House Hanukkah Party, Trump had a private meeting with Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman. Parnas shared a photo on social media of him with Trump, Pence, and Giuliani.
  268. Parnas told associates at the meeting, Trump tasked he and Fruman with “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Giuliani would issue directives on behalf of Trump.
  269. On Saturday, Mark Sandy testified behind closed doors to the House committees, after receiving a subpoena which cited “an attempt by OMB to direct [him] not to appear for his scheduled deposition.”
  270. On Saturday, Trump had no public events. He spent the morning at the White House, tweeting about impeachment, promoting books including that of Donald Jr., and urging Republicans in Louisiana to vote.

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Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor, second from right, and career Foreign Service officer George Kent, second from left, testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.