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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 148)

House Requests Documents From Pence in Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 04dc-impeach2-facebookJumbo House Requests Documents From Pence in Impeachment Inquiry Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Giuliani, Rudolph W Biden, Joseph R Jr Atkinson, Michael K (1964- )

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of three House committees on Friday requested documents from Vice President Mike Pence for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, asking him to turn over a wide-ranging batch of material that could shed light on Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, and any role that Mr. Pence played in it.

In a letter to Mr. Pence, the chairmen asked for a lengthy list of documents detailing the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, to be produced by Oct. 15. It came as House Democratic leaders were readying a subpoena for the White House for a vast trove of documents in the inquiry, which is investigating attempts by Mr. Trump and his administration to pressure Ukraine’s president to help dig up dirt on his political rivals.

“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the president’s stark message to the Ukrainian president,” said the letter to Mr. Pence, signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman; Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman; and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the Oversight and Reform Committee chairman.

The lawmakers released their latest request as the Intelligence panel questioned the intelligence community watchdog who first fielded the whistle-blower complaint that has spurred the formal impeachment inquiry.

Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, had received the complaint and conducted his own preliminary investigation into its validity before seeking to deliver it to Congress. He arrived Friday morning for a briefing behind closed doors in the basement of the Capitol.

The meeting kicked off another day of fast-moving developments in the impeachment investigation.

In addition to speaking with Mr. Atkinson and requesting documents from Mr. Pence, lawmakers were expected to subpoena the White House, and hinted at other requests. A significant subpoena deadline for the State Department to hand over similar material in its possession was also scheduled to arrive by the end of the day.

Even as they worked, lawmakers from both parties continued Friday morning to try to make sense of a tranche of text messages between American diplomats and a top aide to the Ukrainian president. Those text messages were released late Thursday night, and called into question the truthfulness of Mr. Trump’s claim that there had been no quid pro quo attached to his pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats.

As more information came to light, Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, one of the few members of Mr. Trump’s party who has been critical of the conduct at the center of the impeachment inquiry, condemned the president’s public comments on Thursday inviting China as well as Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Mr. Romney said in a statement. “By all appearances, the president’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill hoped Mr. Atkinson’s account would boost their efforts to build a fuller narrative of what transpired between the two countries.

A Trump appointee, Mr. Atkinson set off the present saga less than a month ago when he notified Congress’s intelligence committees that he had received an anonymous whistle-blower complaint that he deemed to be “urgent” and credible. The acting director of national intelligence intervened initially to block Mr. Atkinson from sharing the complaint with Congress, but ultimately the Trump administration relented and allowed its public release.

In the complaint, the whistle-blower wrote that multiple government officials had provided him information that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Specifically, he said that Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had pressed Ukraine to conduct the investigations, potentially using the prospect of a meeting that the new Ukrainian president badly wanted with Mr. Trump and withholding $391 million in security aid earmarked for the country as leverage to secure the investigations. The White House tried to cover up aspects of the events, the complaint said.

Mr. Atkinson has already appeared once before the House Intelligence Committee, but he was barred then from speaking in detail about the complaint. Now, lawmakers expect him to detail what steps he took to verify elements of the complaint and conclude it was credible. He could possibly identify other government officials with knowledge of the events described in it.

Details of the complaint, including a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, have already been verified. The text messages released late Thursday also appeared to comport with elements of the complaint.

As they debriefed Mr. Atkinson, Democrats prepared to issue an unusually long and expansive subpoena to the White House for documents related to the Ukraine matter, any attempts to hide evidence related to it, as well as other conversations between Mr. Trump and foreign leaders that touched on similar topics.

Republicans accused Democrats of not giving them a chance to provide input on the subpoena.

How the White House and the State Department respond to their respective requests could significantly shape the impeachment investigation going forward. Many of the records the Democrats are requesting are highly sensitive and would typically be subject in almost any White House to claims of executive privilege.

Under normal circumstances, the White House could make such a claim and mount a competitive defense in court.

But that may not help Mr. Trump’s case politically under the present circumstances. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen leading the inquiry have consistently warned the White House that noncompliance with their requests will be viewed as obstruction of Congress, a potentially impeachable offense in and of itself.

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Hiring Slowed in September as Unemployment Rate Fell to a 50-Year Low

The cavalcade of payroll gains continued for the 108th month in September, pushing down the jobless rate to a half-century low and countering anxieties that had been piqued by slowing global growth, declining factory orders and a jittery stock market.

Employers kept hiring at a steady if unremarkable pace, adding 136,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported on Friday. And the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent.

The report capped a week of otherwise disappointing economic news. Manufacturing activity in the United States fell for the second month in a row, while the World Trade Organization predicted that the growth in global trade would slacken significantly. A key measure of activity in the services sector — which accounts for two-thirds of the country’s output — also cooled.

“It’s great news to hit a record low on unemployment,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said. The tightening labor market, though, failed to lift wages; the 12-month growth rate fell to 2.9 percent, from 3.2 percent in August.

Clearly, the economy’s employment engine has lost some of its spark. Last year, an average of 223,000 jobs were created each month, thanks in part to the temporary pick-me-up delivered by tax cuts and increased government spending. The average for the first nine months of this year is 161,000.

That falloff alone is not cause for alarm. A decline was expected now that the recovery has passed its 10-year anniversary, and there are more job postings than job seekers. The unemployment rate has been skimming along the baseboards. The jobless rates for Hispanics and for workers without a high-school diploma were the lowest on record. And many Americans who had dropped out of the labor force because they were too discouraged to look for work or couldn’t find sufficiently attractive offers, have now rejoined.

President Trump celebrated the report, while taking a swipe at critics who want Congress to impeach him.

Still, the government’s monthly roundup contained enough conflicting data that optimists and pessimists around the country and in Washington could find evidence to support their outlook.

Federal Reserve policymakers will be parsing its contents before their scheduled meeting at the end of October.

Central bank officials have been split about the need for a third cut in their benchmark interest rate. On Friday, Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said, “While not everyone fully shares economic opportunities and the economy faces some risks, overall it is — as I like to say — in a good place.” He added: “Our job is to keep it there as long as possible.”

On Wall Street, expectations that the Fed would pare borrowing costs have been building this week as news about slowing growth rolled in.

[Analysis from The Upshot: Jobs numbers have something for everyone.]

Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, described the latest report as reassuring. “All of us have been on edge a little bit with declines on readings in the service sector, fearing that the trade problems would jump the fence from heavy to lighter industries,” he said.

Friday’s report revised job figures for July and August, adding 45,000 to the totals. “We’re on a three-month track of over 150,000 jobs per month, and that says to me that the economy is still expanding well,” Mr. Tannenbaum said.

The report helped buoy investors, after the S&P 500 had fallen more than 2 percent in the first three days of October. The index was up 1.4 percent Friday afternoon.

Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, was unconvinced that the clipped pace of hiring was the natural byproduct of an economy at full capacity. “The problem with that story is that wage growth dropped quite significantly,” he said. “Trade uncertainty is why we’re seeing a jobs slowdown and why the wage numbers are slowing.”

Mr. Trump set off another retaliatory volley in his trade war last month when he increased tariffs on consumer goods from China and threatened to extend the import tax to even more products.

When Mr. Slok saw that new export orders had declined recently, he said: “I almost fell out of my chair. That can only be driven by trade.”

“The economy is still doing O.K.,” he said. “But the uncertainty from the trade war continues to be a cloud. Manufacturing is certainly is trouble.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly placed manufacturing at the center of his economic strategy. Nonetheless, that sector is suffering the most from prolonged trade tensions. Companies in the business of making goods — as opposed to those that deliver services like hospitals and restaurants — are much more dependent on sales to other countries and supply chains that wend around the globe.

Last spring, manufacturers were adding as many as 25,000 jobs a month. In recent months, the average trickled to a few thousand, and in September, the sector lost 2,000 jobs. (The United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors began after the government completed its survey of employers and is not reflected in this report.)

But Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America, a staffing firm, is not convinced that trade friction is responsible for the drop.

“The number of manufacturing jobs we have open outpaces the number of candidates,” she said. “It’s become more difficult to fill a job in the last four months.”

Banner Metals, a tool-and-die maker in Columbus, Ohio, plans to add three people to its 40-person staff next year. “Our business has not slowed down in any way,” said Bronson Jones, the chief executive and a part owner. “We’re actually growing.”

With a little less than 13 million workers, the manufacturing sector accounts for roughly 11 percent of the country’s output, but it tends to loom larger in policy debates.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161013891_742a81ae-4740-4568-afad-183152c2270e-articleLarge Hiring Slowed in September as Unemployment Rate Fell to a 50-Year Low Wages and Salaries United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing

Applicants talked to recruiters last month at a job fair in Miami for people 50 or older. Monthly hiring has slowed this year, but the labor market remains tight.CreditLynne Sladky/Associated Press

The health and education sectors remain the economy’s most potent job creators.

Before this month’s stall, wage growth over all had been picking up, putting more money in consumers’ pockets. As long as Americans continue to spend, the economy will keep humming.

But economic confidence can be fickle. Worries about tariffs and the general direction of the economy are spooking those outside the manufacturing sector, according to the Institute for Supply Management, which conducted the survey of service businesses.

The dissonant economic cues are pulling some employers in different directions.

“What I’m hearing is different from what I’m seeing,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm in Chicago. With so much uncertainty, some chief executives say they are afraid of having too much capital invested in their business.

“But what I’m seeing is that people are still hiring,” he said. His firm’s revenue, he said, is up 15 percent from last year, and placements are up 8 percent.

Hiring in professional and business services has kept pumping jobs into the economy at a steady rate, averaging 35,000 a month since the start of the year.

The global accounting firm EY, formerly Ernst & Young, plans to hire 15,000 workers by the end of June, said Dan Black, global recruiting leader. “There’s a lot of signals of a slowdown,” he said, “but we continue to be very bullish on hiring here.”

“No matter what the economy is doing,” he added, “you still need your taxes done, and you still need your books audited.”

The retail trade sector, by contrast, continued to contract, losing 11,000 jobs.

The government’s monthly estimates, which are based on two separate surveys, one of households and the other of employers, will be revised twice more.

The president’s trade strategy has support from some sectors that embrace his get-tough approach — even if they are suffering from the fallout. But several industries and small businesses are worried.

Adam Briggs, vice president for sales and marketing for Trans-Matic, a precision metal stamper in Holland, Mich., said the family-owned firm is feeling the strains of the tariffs and a slowing economy. The company has had to raise prices because the cost of raw materials not available in the United States has gone up, Mr. Briggs said. At least one of his clients left to look for a supplier in Europe.

“We’re struggling, but our customers are struggling with it too,” he said.

Last year, the company employed more than 300 people in Holland. That number is down to 275, through a combination of attrition and voluntary separations, Mr. Briggs said.

Unpredictability disquiets business managers and markets. “Anything that relates to uncertainty is not good for business and household spending, said Ellen Zentner, chief United States economist at Morgan Stanley. And trade tensions — as well as the political turmoil surrounding Mr. Trump as congressional Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry — fuel uncertainty, she said.

Politics is something that Chris Murphy, managing director of ThoughtWorks, a global software and digital transformation consultancy, rarely talks about with clients. The one exception? “The uncertainty created across industries by the trade war in China,” he said. “People are keen to see it resolved and go away sooner rather than later.”

Matt Phillips and Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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Russia helping China build missile warning system, Putin says

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-96eb5ad251d14ade8ab1eaa134ad6617 Russia helping China build missile warning system, Putin says Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox news fnc/world fnc fe3c8429-02d5-50c7-877a-59d12b554e66 article

Moscow has plans to help China build a system to help detect when an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

“This is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defense capability,” Putin said at an international affairs conference.

The only countries that currently have capabilities to detect ballistic missile launches are the U.S. and Russia, as the systems involve space satellites and ground-based radars.

PUTIN AGAIN THREATENS TO DEVELOP PREVIOUSLY BANNED MISSILES IF US DOES

Putin’s remarks signal that the two nations are increasing their military ties and defense cooperation, something the United States is keeping an eye on, officials have said.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News in August that China is the Pentagon’s “number one priority,” and that the United States is watching Beijing “very carefully” in order to safeguard America.

Esper also spoke about Russia’s nuclear ambitions, saying Moscow was “clearly […] trying to expand their strategic nuclear arsenal […] to deal with the United States.”

Putin has threatened that Russia will develop short- and intermediate-range land-launched nuclear missiles if it got word the United States had started building such weapons.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM 

The Pentagon chief also warned about Russian and Chinese ambitions to overtake U.S. systems in space and threaten not just the U.S. military but also the economy and commerce.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-96eb5ad251d14ade8ab1eaa134ad6617 Russia helping China build missile warning system, Putin says Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox news fnc/world fnc fe3c8429-02d5-50c7-877a-59d12b554e66 article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-96eb5ad251d14ade8ab1eaa134ad6617 Russia helping China build missile warning system, Putin says Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox news fnc/world fnc fe3c8429-02d5-50c7-877a-59d12b554e66 article

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Jodi Arias’ murder conviction could be overturned because of prosecutor misconduct claims

Jodi Arias may get another chance to plead her case.

The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed to consider how numerous allegations of misconduct against Maricopa County prosecutor Juan Martinez could overturn Arias’ conviction. 

Arias was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for murdering Travis Alexander in his Mesa home in 2008. The trial, full of tales of sex and violence, made headlines nationwide.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not initially provide comment when contacted by The Arizona Republic. 

Separate from the Arias criminal case, Martinez faces a series of ethics complaints by the State Bar of Arizona and Arias’ lawyers for behavior in multiple criminal cases.

Among the ethics allegations that stem from the Arias trial: He provided information to a blogger covering the Arias trial, provided false testimony during an investigation and made sexual remarks to a Maricopa County Superior Court employee. 

Westlake Legal Group  Jodi Arias' murder conviction could be overturned because of prosecutor misconduct claims

The Arizona Supreme Court’s disciplinary panel will determine whether Martinez violated professional conduct rules. If the panel finds Martinez in violation, it will decide sanctions. 

Background:Arias defense attorney says she received death threats

Jodi Arias case:Victim’s family says, ‘There is no justice.’

Karen Clark, Arias’ attorney in the ethics case, said the disciplinary case and the criminal case seem to be converging on the same issue – whether Martinez violated the rules and if he should be held accountable for it.

“It appears that the court of appeals has focused on the issue of prosecutorial misconduct by Juan Martinez,” she said Thursday. “It’s appropriate … I’m encouraged that the court is focusing on his misconduct because the record supports it.”

Martinez was transferred out of the capital litigation bureau to the auto theft division of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to have more time to focus on the ethics complaints.

The Court of Appeals order in the Arias case stated that it will look at a series of issues concerning prosecutorial misconduct, including:

  • Is Arias is entitled to a new trial if there was intentional prosecutorial misconduct, and would double jeopardy play a role? 
  • What factors are relevant in determining whether Arias was denied a fair trial based on prosecutorial misconduct? Does publicity around the trial affect the decision? 
  • Was she deprived of the ability to present her defense to the jury? 
  • If there was prosecutorial misconduct, did it contribute to her guilty verdict?
  • Should the publicity outside the courtroom be considered when deciding if the atmosphere of the trial was “circus-like”? Can publicity outside the courtroom grant a reversal? 

The court has not scheduled a date for the oral arguments.

Follow Lauren Castle on Twitter: @Lauren_Castle.

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House Asks Pence For Ukraine-Related Documents

Westlake Legal Group 5d97a2b72100005000a95d13 House Asks Pence For Ukraine-Related Documents

Three House committees have asked Vice President Mike Pence to produce documents related to President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as part of their impeachment inquiry.

“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President’s stark message to the Ukrainian President,” read a letter to Pence sent by the House oversight, intelligence and foreign affairs committee chairs.

It continued: “The reports include specific references to a member of your staff who may have participated directly in the July 25, 2019, call, documents you may have obtained or reviewed, including the record of the call, and your September 1, 2019, meeting with the Ukrainian President in Warsaw, during which you reportedly discussed the Administration’s hold on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.”

The committees are currently investigating a request the president made of Ukraine, asking that country to look into Trump’s Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Pence has been asked to comply with the request by Oct. 15. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Opinion: Simone Biles penalized for having skills other gymnasts can’t pull off

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Opinion: Simone Biles penalized for having skills other gymnasts can't pull off

SportsPulse: Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast her sport has ever seen and over the weekend she further cemented herself alone at the top. USA TODAY

STUTTGART, Germany — Simone Biles is the last person international gymnastics officials should be using to try and make a point.

In an effort to deter other gymnasts from trying skills they are not physically capable of doing, the International Gymnastics Federation watered down the value of a new element Biles plans to do at the world championships. That’s right. Penalize the reigning world and Olympic champion, who is almost cautious when it comes to adding difficulty, for the potential recklessness of others.

“Am I in a league of my own? Yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t credit me for what I’m doing,” Biles told NBC after learning of the decision this week by the women’s technical committee.

“They keep asking us to do more difficulty and to give more artistry, give more harder skills,” she added. “So we do, and then they don’t credit it, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Every element in gymnastics is assigned a letter, which corresponds to a numerical value. An “A” skill is worth a tenth of a point, and every letter in the alphabet that follows is an additional tenth. So a “D” skill is four-tenths of a point while the rare “J” skill is worth a full point.

Biles is doing two new skills at worlds: a triple-twisting, double somersault on floor exercise and a double-twisting, double somersault dismount off balance beam. The triple-double was valued as a J skill, while the double-double was only deemed to be an H.

NEVER GETS OLD: 44-year-old gymnast has to wait to see if she qualified for Olympics

After widespread criticism of its decision, the women’s technical committee (WTC) released a statement Friday explaining its reasoning:

“In assigning values to the new elements, the WTC takes into consideration many different aspects; the risk, the safety of the gymnasts and the technical direction of the discipline,” it said. “There is added risk in landing of double saltos for beam dismounts (with/without twists), including a potential landing on the neck.

“Reinforcing, there are many examples … where decisions have been made to protect the gymnasts and preserve the direction of the discipline.”

Translation: Some gymnasts are trying to pad their scores by chucking skills they have no business doing, and we need to protect them from themselves.

There’s no shortage of hypocrisy in that rationale. If the federation is so concerned with athlete safety, why allow I and J skills in the first place? If Biles’ double-double is going to encourage gymnasts to take risks they shouldn’t, wouldn’t her triple-double do the same?

And, while we’re at it, why not allow gymnasts to do a warm-up on the floor before event finals?

Most bothersome, though, is that the federation has ignored the means it has to keep irresponsible impulses in check.

In addition to the difficulty score – the sum value of all the elements in a routine – there is an execution score. If a gymnast insists on trying a skill he or she has no business doing – some of you vaulters, you know who you are – hammer them on the E score.

Give them a three or a four – a normal E score for an elite gymnast is in the 8s or 9s – and it will nullify whatever advantage there was in the added difficulty.

But no. The federation would rather shortchange Biles of the true value of her accomplishment. 

“This is an incredibly difficult dismount and you make it look ‘too easy,’ ” Cecile Landi, who coaches Biles along with her husband, Laurent, said on Twitter. “Keep doing YOU.”

The great irony in all of this is that Biles is decidedly prudent when it comes to increasing her difficulty.

The new skills she’s doing at worlds are ones she “played around with” long before she considered putting them in a routine. Even once she warmed to the idea, it took months, sometimes years, for her to decide the skill was ready to be done in competition.

“He has all these crazy ideas,” Biles said of Laurent Landi. “Then he has to kind of push me toward it until I’m ready to do it myself. And then I’m like, `OK, it’s not that bad.’ ” 

There are plenty of times the federation would do well to hold Biles up as an example. This is not one of them. 

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour

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Ex-envoy testified Ukraine never raised quid pro quo concerns with him: source

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092110144001_6092107363001-vs Ex-envoy testified Ukraine never raised quid pro quo concerns with him: source fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Catherine Herridge article Alex Pappas 34298fb7-af83-57ce-840e-41541c085c7d

Former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker told lawmakers during closed-door testimony Thursday that the Ukrainians never indicated concerns to him about President Trump pursuing a quid pro quo — linking military aid to an investigation of Joe Biden — a source familiar with Volker’s transcribed interview told Fox News.

The question has become a pertinent one as House Democrats move forward with an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his authority by asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, the former vice president and a leading Democratic presidential primary candidate for the 2020 election.

Democrats, though, seized on text messages Volker released to Congress that show a top official involved in Ukraine matters later expressing concern that Trump was withholding military assistance — as well as a meeting with the country’s president — to encourage Ukraine to “launch politically motivated investigations.”

TRUMP FIRES BROADSIDE AT ‘PILLAGING’ BIDENS, CLAIMS UKRAINE PUSH WAS ONLY ABOUT ‘CORRUPTION’

“This is not normal or acceptable,” the committee chairmen — Reps. Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, Elijah Cummings of the Oversight Committee and Eliot Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee – wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday. “It is unethical, unpatriotic, and wrong. American Presidents should never press foreign powers to target their domestic political rivals.”

The text messages released by Volker to Congress show U.S. officials involved with Ukraine arguing internally last month over whether Trump was engaged in a quid pro quo. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine Bill Taylor said in one text exchange in a chain with Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland.

But Sondland pushed back. “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.”

Volker, who was Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine, abruptly resigned his post as U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations last week. He voluntarily gave a deposition on Thursday before a House committee as part of the House Democratic impeachment inquiry.

Latest on Trump impeachment inquiry

Volker resigned last week after his name surfaced in a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Hunter Biden, his father and the company Burisma. Biden’s son was a Burisma board director until departing before Joe Biden announced his campaign for the presidency in April.

Fox News on Friday also obtained Volker’s prepared testimony to lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees. In it, he details his interactions with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was probing whether Burisma had sought to garner influence with Biden by paying high fees to his son. He also said he didn’t find then-Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, who he said was fueling those accusations about the Bidens, “credible.”

“In May, 2019, I learned that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani planned to travel to Ukraine to look into these accusations,” Volker said. “I reached out to brief him before his visit – specifically, to tell him that Lutsenko is not credible and will be replaced once a new government takes office.”

In his testimony, Volker sought to distance himself from any investigation, saying, “at no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden.” He also defended Biden’s integrity, saying, “I have known former Vice President Biden for 24 years, and the suggestion that he would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money for his son simply has no credibility to me.”

Still, the source familiar with Volker’s transcribed interview said the diplomat told lawmakers he didn’t believe a Ukrainian-led investigation related to Burisma or 2016 election interference, as Trump has also pressed for, would be improper. Volker also said he believes Trump’s concerns about Ukrainian corruption were valid, the source said.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092110144001_6092107363001-vs Ex-envoy testified Ukraine never raised quid pro quo concerns with him: source fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Catherine Herridge article Alex Pappas 34298fb7-af83-57ce-840e-41541c085c7d   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092110144001_6092107363001-vs Ex-envoy testified Ukraine never raised quid pro quo concerns with him: source fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Catherine Herridge article Alex Pappas 34298fb7-af83-57ce-840e-41541c085c7d

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Microsoft Says Iranians Tried To Hack U.S. Presidential Campaign

Westlake Legal Group microsoftlogo-d327467728efa9d825da9078a1086d0df4b99e22-s800-c15 Microsoft Says Iranians Tried To Hack U.S. Presidential Campaign

Microsoft said it has seen “significant cyber activity” by a hacker group with suspected ties to Iran. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  Microsoft Says Iranians Tried To Hack U.S. Presidential Campaign

Microsoft said it has seen “significant cyber activity” by a hacker group with suspected ties to Iran.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Microsoft says a hacker group with ties to Iran has targeted a U.S. presidential campaign, in the latest sign that foreign governments may try to influence the 2020 election.

In a blog post published Friday, Tom Burt, a Microsoft security executive, said the company has seen “significant cyber activity” by a group it is calling Phosphorus. Burt said Microsoft believes the group “originates from Iran and is linked to the Iranian government,” although he did not say how the company reached that conclusion.

A Microsoft spokesman declined to name the campaign, citing privacy concerns. Burt said the hackers also tried to break into the accounts of current and former U.S. government officials, journalists covering politics, and prominent Iranians living outside Iran.

The attacks took place in August and September, according to Microsoft. Burt said hackers made more than 2,700 attempts to identify email accounts connected to specific customers, and carried out attacks on 241 of those accounts.

They compromised four accounts, but none were associated with the political campaign or government officials, Microsoft said.

The hackers collected personal information, including phone numbers, in their efforts to gain access to the email accounts using password reset or account recovery functions, the company said.

“While the attacks we’re disclosing today were not technically sophisticated, they attempted to use a significant amount of personal information both to identify the accounts belonging to their intended targets and in a few cases to attempt attacks,” Burt wrote in the blog post. “This effort suggests Phosphorus is highly motivated and willing to invest significant time and resources engaging in research and other means of information gathering.”

Intelligence agencies have warned that foreign governments including Iran may try to influence American politics leading up to next year’s election.

In July, Burt said Microsoft had flagged nearly 800 cyberattacks suspected of being carried out by nation-states on political organizations.

Facebook and Twitter have each suspended hundreds of accounts originating from Iran that were linked to a coordinated disinformation campaign.

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Ron Johnson says he was blocked by President Trump from telling Ukraine foreign aid was coming

Westlake Legal Group Bb7lVjItERTla77TzsiYGAlkO6JLiHEIIM2bw8l6w5k Ron Johnson says he was blocked by President Trump from telling Ukraine foreign aid was coming r/politics

Holy shit, Johnson acknowledges it was extortion:

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was blocked by President Donald Trump in August from telling Ukraine’s president that U.S. aid was on its way in the wake of accusations Trump was withholding it until the eastern European nation investigated his political rival.

Trump rejected Johnson’s request after refusing in May to back new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Johnson told reporters Friday.

“I was surprised by the president’s reaction and realized we had a sales job to do,” Johnson said during a constituent stop in Sheboygan. “I tried to convince him (in August) to give me the authority to tell President Zelensky that we were going to provide that. Now, I didn’t succeed.”

The original Wall Street Journal article has even more:

Mr. Johnson said Mr. Sondland told him, Ukraine would appoint a strong prosecutor general and move to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016—if President Trump has that confidence, then he’ll release the military spending,” recounted Mr. Johnson.

“At that suggestion, I winced,” Mr. Johnson said. “My reaction was: Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined.”

Sondland, a wealthy businessman who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural, was literally the only person in the text messages released last night who suggested that the deal wasn’t a quid pro quo (while desperately trying to get the other ambassadors to stop talking about the quid pro quo in text and call him instead). Now, a GOP Senator just admitted Sondland told him it was.

It’s all falling apart.

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Prince Harry Sues 2 UK Newspapers For Alleged Phone Hacking

Westlake Legal Group 5d9785072100005100a9530a Prince Harry Sues 2 UK Newspapers For Alleged Phone Hacking

“Claims have been filed on behalf of The Duke of Sussex at the High Court regarding the illegal interception of voicemail messages,” a spokeswoman for Harry told Reuters, while declining to give further details.

A representative for The Sun confirmed to Reuters that the duke had issued the claim to the paper.

The announcement of the new legal action comes a few days after his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, announced she is pursuing legal action against the Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter that she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.

Although the exact date of the alleged phone hacking hasn’t been revealed publicly, the BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said, “The presumption is this goes back to the phone hacking scandal of the early 2000s.”

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