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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 177)

Kamala Harris asks audience if America is ‘ready’ for her presidency, crowd shouts ‘no’

Westlake Legal Group kamala-harris-getty Kamala Harris asks audience if America is 'ready' for her presidency, crowd shouts 'no' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox news fnc/media fnc article 2c551975-4813-5e54-93b7-b19fdc452431

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., may have had what some are calling her “please clap” moment on Thursday when she got a not so favorable response to the question if America was “ready” for her to be president.

Speaking at a town hall event in Reno, Nev., Harris told attendees she wanted to “engage in real talk” about the state of the 2020 race.

“In this election, in the last couple- I mean, maybe couple of months, certainly a few weeks, there’s this whole conversation that has been coming up about electability focused on our campaign,” Harris said. “Is America ready for that?”

Several audience members were then heard responding “No” throughout the room, with Harris visibly shocked by what she heard.

“Well, yes they are,” Harris told the crowd, sparking some laughter.

KAMALA HARRIS DEFENDS BIDEN, RIPS TRUMP: ‘JOE HAS MORE PATRIOTISM IN HIS PINKY FINGER THAN YOU’LL EVER HAVE’

The exchange received mockery on social media, many comparing it to the memorable moment from the 2016 election when former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Flor., urged a crowd at a campaign stop to “please clap.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Harris has seen a dramatic drop in the polls in recent weeks. In the latest Fox News poll, she received seven percent of support among likely Democratic voters while former Vice President Joe Biden maintains a double-digit lead with 29 percent while Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has 18 percent support and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has 16 percent.

Westlake Legal Group kamala-harris-getty Kamala Harris asks audience if America is 'ready' for her presidency, crowd shouts 'no' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox news fnc/media fnc article 2c551975-4813-5e54-93b7-b19fdc452431   Westlake Legal Group kamala-harris-getty Kamala Harris asks audience if America is 'ready' for her presidency, crowd shouts 'no' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/kamala-harris fox news fnc/media fnc article 2c551975-4813-5e54-93b7-b19fdc452431

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Trump Envoys Pushed Ukraine to Commit to Investigating Biden

Westlake Legal Group 03diplosub2-facebookJumbo Trump Envoys Pushed Ukraine to Commit to Investigating Biden Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Giuliani, Rudolph W Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — Two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine worked on a statement for the country’s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, according to three people briefed on the effort and documents released Thursday night.

Their work on the statement is new evidence of how Mr. Trump’s fixation with conspiracy theories linked to Ukraine began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the president’s political agenda in the weeks after a July 25 call between the two leaders.

The statement was worked on by Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, according to the documents and the three people who have been briefed on the statement. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and the de facto leader of a shadow campaign to push the Ukrainians to press ahead with investigations, provided the critical element of the language, Mr. Volker told House Democratic investigators on Thursday, a person familiar with his testimony said.

The Ukrainians never released the statement. But if they had, Mr. Trump’s aides would have effectively pressured a foreign government to give credence to allegations intended to undercut one of the Democratic Party’s leading 2020 presidential candidates — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — without leaving Mr. Trump’s fingerprints on it.

Mr. Volker spent Thursday on Capitol Hill being questioned by House investigators as Democrats pursued their impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s actions.

Late Thursday, House Democrats released a series of texts between Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and Andriy Yermak, a top aide to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that also showed that officials in both countries understood that Mr. Trump would not grant Mr. Zelensky an Oval Office meeting he was seeking until Ukraine agreed to make a public commitment to the investigations being sought by the American side.

The texts also showed the three men discussing language for the proposed statement. On the morning of Aug. 13, Mr. Volker sent Mr. Sondland language they wanted added to an earlier draft sent by the Ukrainians.

“We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future,” Mr. Volker said in what appears to be the language he was proposing.

Mr. Sondland quickly replied, “Perfect,” adding that they should send it along to an adviser to the Ukrainian president.

Four days later, Mr. Sondland texted Mr. Volker, asking if they still wanted the Ukrainian president “to give us an unequivocal draft” specifically citing the two issues that Mr. Trump has been focused on: Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that had put Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter Biden, on its board, and Mr. Trump’s belief that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 American elections to benefit Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Volker replied: “That’s the clear message so far …”

Under questioning on Capitol Hill, Mr. Volker told House Democratic investigators that the language including specific references to Burisma and the 2016 election had come from Mr. Giuliani, the person familiar with his testimony said.

Mr. Volker told the House investigators that the Ukrainians had earlier proposed language promising a statement on fighting corruption that did not specifically mention Burisma and 2016. When Mr. Giuliani was shown that original language, Mr. Volker told the House, he indicated to Mr. Volker that it was not sufficient and said the Ukrainians should be asked for specific public commitments to investigate Burisma and 2016.

By Mr. Volker’s account, according to the person familiar with his testimony, he was eventually told by Mr. Yermak that the Ukrainian government could not agree to the language being sought by Mr. Giuliani. Mr. Volker told Mr. Yermak that he was right, and the idea was dropped, according to the account Mr. Volker provided the House.

The idea behind the statement was to break the Ukrainians of their habit of promising American diplomats and leaders behind closed doors that they would look into matters and never follow through, the people briefed on it said. According to the account provided by Mr. Volker to the House, the idea of the Ukrainians providing a statement had originated with Mr. Giuliani in a conversation he had with Mr. Yermak.

It is unclear if the statement was delivered to Mr. Zelensky, but no statement was released publicly under his name. Around that time, the Ukrainian officials indicated to the Americans that they wanted to avoid becoming more deeply enmeshed in American politics.

The drafting of the statement, which came in the weeks after the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, was an effort to pacify Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani and to normalize relations between the two countries as Ukraine faced continuing conflict with Russia. Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker believed that Mr. Giuliani was “poisoning” Mr. Trump’s mind about Ukraine and that eliciting a public commitment from Mr. Zelensky to pursue the investigations would induce Mr. Trump to more fully support the new Ukrainian government, according to the people familiar with it.

The texts released by House Democrats late Thursday night corroborated this characterization.

In the hours before the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Volker texted Mr. Yermak that he had “Heard from White House” that “we will nail down date” for the official Oval Office visit coveted by the Ukrainians, “assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate” the claims that Ukrainian officials tried to sabotage Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The topic of the investigations came up during the July call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, and Mr. Zelensky appeared open during the conversation to Mr. Trump’s request that he coordinate with Attorney General William P. Barr and Mr. Giuliani. Within weeks Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland were strategizing about the draft statement with Mr. Yermak.

The texts suggest that, after the presidential call, negotiations picked up about a statement that would mention the investigations and satisfy Mr. Trump.

On Aug. 10, Mr. Yermak expressed a willingness “to make this declaration and mention all these things,” but noted that, first, the Ukrainians wanted to receive “guarantees for future visit” to Washington. “Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations,” Mr. Yermak texted.

Mr. Volker replied, “Sounds great!”

Mr. Giuliani said he was aware of the statement but that it was not written at his behest.

Mr. Giuliani said that the statement was being handled by Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker, and that he was not sure if Mr. Trump was involved in it.

“I don’t have any information that would suggest that it was at his request, but I can’t tell you it wasn’t, either,” he said.

He said he believed that the statement was intended to be delivered as part of a series of announcements by Mr. Zelensky’s government about the confirmation of new prosecutors and other officials.

“He was supposed to do something, or say something, to assure everybody — meaning our people — that he was going to take serious action about corruption,” Mr. Giuliani said. “I know that the investigations — which would be the collusion, the Burisma investigation — would be included in it, but it would have been part of an overall statement about dealing with corruption in an aggressive way.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Aides to Mr. Zelensky did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent in the overnight hours in Ukraine.

Despite Mr. Trump’s accusations of corruption on the part of the Bidens, no evidence has surfaced that the former vice president knowingly took any steps to help his son or the gas company that paid him as a board member.

Mr. Trump’s regular suggestions that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was responsible for the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee have been thoroughly debunked. While some Ukrainian officials expressed opposition to Mr. Trump in 2016, claims by Mr. Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, that documents released in Ukraine that year implicating Mr. Manafort in financial fraud were falsified or doctored have not been substantiated.

But Mr. Trump’s continued efforts to press Ukraine to investigate those matters has drawn in a growing number of his aides, including Mr. Volker, who stepped down last week at the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine, and Mr. Sondland, who has taken an increasingly prominent role in dealing with Kiev.

Mr. Sondland, 62, made a fortune in hotels, and has been a prominent Republican donor and fund-raiser for years.

He backed out of his role as a host of a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump in 2016 citing Mr. Trump’s disparaging comments toward immigrants and the family of a slain Muslim American soldier.

But Mr. Sondland donated $1 million through his companies to the inaugural committee for Mr. Trump, who subsequently tapped Mr. Sondland last year to be United States ambassador to the European Union.

The role traditionally has not focused heavily on Ukraine, which is not part of the European Union, but Mr. Sondland increasingly worked to establish himself as a central figure in Ukraine policy, administration officials said.

Mr. Sondland came to be seen in the administration as more loyal to Mr. Trump than was Mr. Volker, an acolyte of Senator John McCain, an outspoken critic of the president.

Mr. Sondland told reporters last month that he saw Ukraine as among a handful of “low-hanging fruit” policy areas where the European Union could work together with Washington to improve relations.

Mr. Sondland raised some hackles at the State Department and in the National Security Council when he asked to be included in the United States delegation that attended Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration, according to people familiar with the events. Mr. Sondland attended an Oval Office meeting afterward with other members of the delegation — which also included Mr. Volker; the energy secretary, Rick Perry; and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin — to brief Mr. Trump on the delegation’s impressions of Mr. Zelensky.

When the delegation praised Mr. Zelensky and urged Mr. Trump to fully support the new Ukrainian government, the president was dismissive. “They’re terrible people,” Mr. Trump said of Ukrainian politicians, according to people familiar with the meeting. “They’re all corrupt, and they tried to take me down.”

Mr. Sondland continued building a relationship with Mr. Zelensky, hosting him at a June dinner at the United States mission to the European Union in Brussels, and meeting him again in Kiev in July with Mr. Volker on the day after Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky.

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Devin Nunes slams Dems’ impeachment inquiry as ‘not real’: ‘It’s a partisan adventure’

Westlake Legal Group Carlson-Nunes Devin Nunes slams Dems' impeachment inquiry as 'not real': 'It's a partisan adventure' fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/devin-nunes fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 6f72def2-00bf-5a96-90b6-b5122cdf0a88

The Trump impeachment inquiry heralded by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is a “partisan adventure” rather than a legitimate congressional process, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., asserted Thursday night.

The inquiry is not being carried out in the same way that previous impeachment probes were, Nunes said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“It is a partisan adventure and it’s not a real impeachment the way that impeachment process has worked the other times it’s been used,” Nunes said.

EX-UKRAINE ENVOY VOLKER MEETS WITH LAWMAKERS AMID IMPEACHMENT PROBE

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, both Democrats, were subject to impeachment votes.

Nunes also told host Tucker Carlson that he participated in Thursday’s multi-committee Capitol Hill interview of former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.

More from Media

“I just came from the Capitol and we had, I mean, nine hours of Ambassador Volker, which, if you listen to the mainstream media and the Democrats, this was gonna be the guy that was gonna give up all the goods on Rudy Giuliani, because this was the special envoy to Ukraine on behalf of the Trump administration,” Nunes said.

“Of course they went on and on and on. Why did they keep going on and on? Because they weren’t getting what they wanted.”

“Why did [Democrats] keep going on and on? Because they weren’t getting what they wanted.”

— U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Instead, Nunes suggested Volker should be praised for his years of responsible public service — rather than be subjected to marathon testimony.

Regarding Schiff, Nunes said the California Democrat — who chairs the House Intelligence Committee — had two private opportunities to disclose the fact he or his staff had had contact with the unidentified “whistleblower” at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

“It looks like he knew something beforehand,” Nunes said, regarding Schiff and the whistleblower’s complaint.

“He clearly gave no indication that he had ever met with the whistleblower or anybody on his team had ever met with the whistleblower.”

Westlake Legal Group Carlson-Nunes Devin Nunes slams Dems' impeachment inquiry as 'not real': 'It's a partisan adventure' fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/devin-nunes fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 6f72def2-00bf-5a96-90b6-b5122cdf0a88   Westlake Legal Group Carlson-Nunes Devin Nunes slams Dems' impeachment inquiry as 'not real': 'It's a partisan adventure' fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/devin-nunes fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 6f72def2-00bf-5a96-90b6-b5122cdf0a88

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Newly Revealed Trump Administration Texts on Ukraine Appear To Show Clear Quid Pro Quos

Newly released text messages sent by senior Trump administration officials appear to show clear instances of the White House brazenly pressuring Ukraine for political favors in exchange for cooperation from the U.S. government, the chairs of three House committees wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday.

The missives were largely sent by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, who was until last month the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, to Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky has become the flashpoint for a Democratic impeachment inquiry after a reconstruction of the call showed multiple instances of Trump pressuring his counterpart to investigate a prime political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

Westlake Legal Group 5d96c5672100005000a90db8 Newly Revealed Trump Administration Texts on Ukraine Appear To Show Clear Quid Pro Quos

House of Representatives

The texts were attached to a letter condemning Trump’s effort to minimize his call with Ukraine. It was signed by Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee; Eliot Engel (N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Elijah Cummings (Md.), who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“We hope every Member of the House will join us in condemning in the strongest terms the President’s now open defiance of our core values as American citizens to guard against foreign interference in our democratic process,” they wrote.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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LA airport to shuttle Uber, Lyft, taxi customers between terminals and new pickup area: reports

Westlake Legal Group 24a5138d-167200460 LA airport to shuttle Uber, Lyft, taxi customers between terminals and new pickup area: reports fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/los-angeles fox-news/travel/general/airports fox news fnc/travel fnc Dom Calicchio article 69597cee-960f-5a5e-9a64-3e6d8aa89c12

Need a quick ride home from the airport? If you’ve just arrived in Los Angeles, you’ll soon have to take a shuttle to a parking lot away from the terminal to catch your Uber, Lyft or taxi.

Officials at Los Angeles International Airport plan Friday to announce details of their effort to steer arriving passengers away from traditional curbside pickups, reports say.

Increasing airport traffic congestion – sparked by the emergence of ride-hailing services — is partly to blame, Keith Wilschetz, deputy executive director of the Operations and Emergency Management Division at Los Angeles World Airports, told the Los Angeles Times.

CONGRESS MMEBERS LOOKING TO PUT AN END TO ‘THE MOST-HATED FEE IN TRAVEL’

In addition, LAX has seen passenger traffic rise from 59 million in 2010 to 87.5 million in 2018, according to Skift, a news site that covers the travel industry.

“We understand that trying to get into the central terminal area is a challenge and has been for a long time, and we’ve been working to make that much better,” Wilschetz told The Times. “This is a way we can do that.”

“We understand that trying to get into the central terminal area is a challenge and has been for a long time, and we’ve been working to make that much better. This is a way we can do that.”

— Keith Wilschetz, deputy executive director, Operations and Emergency Management Division, Los Angeles World Airports

According to the plan, passengers will wait three to five minutes for a shuttle trip that will take no longer than 15 minutes, the Times reported – or they can choose to walk to the pickup lot instead, a journey estimated to take up to 18 minutes, depending on which terminal the passenger walks from.

Twitter users were expressing mixed reactions to the LAX plan.

“That curbside shuttle from the terminal to the ride share parking lot at LAX is going to run smoooooooooooth,” one Twitter user wrote.

“this is the best news i’ve heard in years,” another Twitter user commented.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

The LAX plan follows a similar move at San Francisco International Airport for pickups from its domestic terminals, and an announcement that Boston’s Logan International Airport has a similar plan in the works, the L.A. Times reported.

It’s also part of LAX’s $14 billion effort to modernize ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Los Angeles, according to Skift.

Westlake Legal Group 24a5138d-167200460 LA airport to shuttle Uber, Lyft, taxi customers between terminals and new pickup area: reports fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/los-angeles fox-news/travel/general/airports fox news fnc/travel fnc Dom Calicchio article 69597cee-960f-5a5e-9a64-3e6d8aa89c12   Westlake Legal Group 24a5138d-167200460 LA airport to shuttle Uber, Lyft, taxi customers between terminals and new pickup area: reports fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/los-angeles fox-news/travel/general/airports fox news fnc/travel fnc Dom Calicchio article 69597cee-960f-5a5e-9a64-3e6d8aa89c12

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Read: Text messages between US diplomats and Ukrainians released by House Democrats

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Read: Text messages between US diplomats and Ukrainians released by House Democrats

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In general, be courteous to others. Debate/discuss/argue the merits of ideas, don’t attack people. Personal insults, shill or troll accusations, hate speech, any advocating or wishing death/physical harm, and other rule violations can result in a permanent ban.

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Rick Perry To Resign As Energy Secretary: Reports

Westlake Legal Group 5cb8d3662400001901c898c8 Rick Perry To Resign As Energy Secretary: Reports

Rick Perry is expected to resign by the end of the year as secretary of the Department of Energy, Politico and The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Perry said earlier this week that he’d cooperate with lawmakers investigating an explosive whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump’s communications in July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Perry has met with Zelensky at least three times, according to CNN. 

The Energy Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. But in an email statement to The Washington Post, Energy Department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said, “While the Beltway media has breathlessly reported on rumors of Secretary Perry’s departure for months, he is still the Secretary of Energy and a proud member of President Trump’s Cabinet. One day the media will be right. Today is not that day.”

Perry, who Politico reported will leave by end of November, had reportedly been planning an exit since mid-April, when several sources with knowledge of his plans told Bloomberg that the former Texas governor was “finalizing the terms and timing of his departure.”

During his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2012, Perry had vowed to eliminate the Department of Energy (despite infamously forgetting the department’s name and uttering “oops” during a November 2011 debate). Roughly five years later, he was Trump’s pick for energy secretary.

Perry, an Air Force veteran and former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant, was initially unclear on what the department he was tasked with leading actually did. According to a New York Times report in January 2017, Perry believed his new job would entail championing the U.S. oil and gas industry, as he’d done during his 14 years as the governor of Texas.

He quickly learned the role’s primary responsibilities would involve overseeing nuclear weapons and nuclear waste, with very little pertaining to either fossil fuels or renewable energy.

“If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, ‘I want to be an advocate for energy,’” Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who advised Perry during his 2016 presidential campaign, told the Times. “If you asked him now, he’d say, ‘I’m serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.’ It’s been a learning curve.”

Unlike many other Cabinet members, Perry reportedly enjoyed amicable relations with Trump during his tenure as energy secretary. The president named Perry as “designated survivor” for the 2019 State of the Union address ― a custom in which one Cabinet member hides in an undisclosed location during the address in case a catastrophe occurs in the House chamber.

Trump also weighed Perry as a possible head for the Department of Veterans Affairs before ousting its secretary, David Shulkin, last year. 

Perry reportedly declined a request from Trump to take over as Department of Homeland Security secretary before Kirstjen Nielsen resigned earlier this month.

Perry’s departure is the latest major shake-up in the Trump administration and follows Nielsen’s resignation, as well as the departures of national security adviser John Bolton, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAttorney General Jeff Sessions, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly.

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What We Know About Hunter Biden’s Business in China

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162077214_fcec7317-a8f0-4cf9-b59e-09f9c3b59048-facebookJumbo What We Know About Hunter Biden’s Business in China United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment Conflicts of Interest China Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s latest broadside against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter appears to center on a joint venture that involved the younger Mr. Biden and some of China’s leading state-owned financial companies.

But the president’s claims bear little if any relation to the known facts.

Without presenting any evidence, Mr. Trump suggested on Thursday that China showered $1.5 billion on Hunter Biden in order to influence his father and win favorable trade deals with the United States.

“That’s probably why China for so many years has had a sweetheart deal where China rips off the U.S.A.” because they deal with people like “Biden where they give the son a billion and a half dollars,” Mr. Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. He added: “You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

Companies associated with Hunter Biden or his business partners have struck several deals involving China over the past decade. So, in fact, have Mr. Trump’s own relatives — a point that Mr. Trump does not mention in his now almost-daily accusations against the former vice president, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son.

But while the extent of Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China is not entirely clear, no evidence has emerged of how much money the younger Mr. Biden may have earned. In fact, his lawyer says he has earned nothing from the venture that the president is apparently citing. Nor is there any evidence that his father traded favors with the Chinese government to help his son.

Mr. Trump’s latest attacks follow weeks in which he has accused Hunter Biden of improperly profiting in Ukraine from his father’s position. The younger Mr. Biden collected roughly $50,000 a month for serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm at a time when his father was helping to shape the Obama administration’s foreign policy toward Ukraine.

Mr. Trump’s efforts this past summer to pressure Volodymyr Zelensky, the new Ukrainian president, to investigate Mr. Biden and his son — at the same time that Mr. Trump was withholding $391 million in American military aid to Ukraine — set off the fast-moving impeachment inquiry now underway in the House of Representatives.

The president’s attacks also come after a string of controversies involving members of Mr. Trump’s extended family and China, most of them unfolding after he was elected. A company run by his daughter Ivanka has been awarded dozens of potentially valuable trademarks by the Chinese government. A real estate company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, tried to sell its troubled investment in a Manhattan skyscraper to a prominent Chinese firm. And Nicole Meyer, Mr. Kushner’s sister and an executive in the family firm, invoked her connections to the president when she pitched Chinese investors in Beijing to buy into a development in New Jersey.

The $1.5 billion figure to which Mr. Trump referred on Thursday appears to be the amount of money that a Shanghai-based private-equity company, BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co., aimed to raise in 2014. The company, which says its biggest shareholder is the state-controlled Bank of China, pools money and invests in companies, many of which are also state owned.

Hunter Biden has been a member of the board of BHR since it was formed in late 2013. In October 2017, after his father had left the vice presidency, he bought 10 percent of the firm, investing the equivalent of $420,000.

But his lawyer, George Mesires, said on Thursday that he has never been paid for his role on the board, and has not profited financially since he began as a part-owner.

“He has not been compensated for being on the board of directors, nor has he received any return on his investment to date,” Mr. Mesires said. Although BHR has been involved in a number of business deals, he said, “there have been no distributions to the shareholders since Hunter has been an equity owner.”

With his latest attacks on the Bidens, Mr. Trump is “desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organizations,” Kate Bedingfield, Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.

Still, the fact that Chinese state-owned firms were interested in linking arms with Hunter Biden while his father was vice president fits a long pattern of companies owned by or closely tied to foreign governments courting the families of high-ranking American officials. In 2002, for example, when George W. Bush was president, his brother Neil won a $400,000 consulting contract to advise a Chinese semiconductor company co-founded by the son of the man who was then China’s president.

“Almost any senior name that I start researching, I run into practices like this. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Sarah Chayes, the author of the book “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security,” said in an interview on National Public Radio on Thursday. “How did we all convince ourselves that this isn’t corrupt?”

Asked if there was any conflict of interest, Mr. Mesires, said: “Hunter has been repeatedly clear on this point. Hunter has not and does not discuss his business interests with his father.”

A spokesman for the Biden campaign also said that the former vice president never discussed the China venture with his son.

The only known connection between the elder Mr. Biden and BHR came in early December 2013 in Beijing. Mr. Biden, who had traveled to China on official business as vice president, met and shook hands with his son’s business associate, Jonathan Li, in the lobby of the hotel where the American delegation was staying, according to an account in The New Yorker. The magazine said Hunter Biden had arranged the encounter with Mr. Li, who was headed for a post as BHR’s chief executive.

Hunter Biden went along to Beijing, too, because his young daughter had been invited and needed to be chaperoned, according to Mr. Mesires. He said that his client and Mr. Li met for coffee on the trip but that it was only a social chat. “He conducted no business there,” the lawyer said.

Several days after the trip, BHR won a business license from the Chinese government. Mr. Mesires said that the registration paperwork had already been submitted and that the timing of the approval was purely coincidental. Hunter Biden was not involved in the firm’s registration, and its approval “was not related in any way, shape or form to Hunter’s visit,” he said.

To raise funds, BHR teamed up with some of China’s leading state-owned financial companies, including its biggest indirect shareholder, Bank of China, as well as China Development Bank and the country’s social security fund, according BHR’s website. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 that the firm was seeking to raise $1.5 billion.

That figure was then cited by Peter Schweizer, a conservative author, in a 2018 book detailing the China business ties of some prominent American political families. Mr. Schweizer was also the author of the 2015 book “Clinton Cash.”

Until October 2017, well after his father had stepped down from the vice presidency, Hunter Biden had no equity stake in BHR, Mr. Mesires said. He said Mr. Biden bought a stake in the firm in the name of a company named Skaneateles L.L.C. for the equivalent of about $420,000. That gave him about 10 percent of the company’s registered capital of 30 million renminbi, China’s currency. Skaneateles is the New York hometown of Hunter Biden’s mother, who died in 1972.

BHR has invested in a number of state-owned Chinese companies, including a subsidiary of the oil refiner Sinopec and China General Nuclear Power Group. The business focus of some of them is at odds with American policy.

For example, the company invested in Face++, a division of the Chinese company Megvii, which specializes in facial recognition technology that is promoted for use by China’s police, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. BHR also invested alongside AVIC, a major state-owned aerospace and defense company that builds fighter jets for the Chinese military.

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AOC tells Donald Trump it’s better to be a ‘wack job’ than a ‘criminal who betrays our country’ in Twitter spat

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close AOC tells Donald Trump it's better to be a 'wack job' than a 'criminal who betrays our country' in Twitter spat

Here’s the latest for Thursday October 3rd: President Trump calls for China to investigate the Bidens; House impeachment inquiry hears first witness; new video of Hong Kong protest shooting; baby seals, baby seals, baby seals. AP, AP

WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exchanged words on Twitter on Thursday night after the president sent out of a storm of tweets lashing out at AOC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, “Do Nothing Democrats” and the media.

“AOC is Wack Job!” Trump tweeted. She responded: “Better than being a criminal who betrays our country.” 

That was only one of Trump’s tweets.

“As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” Trump said on the same day he declared that China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

With the tweet, Trump again emphasized that he doesn’t see wrongdoing in asking foreign governments to dig up dirt on his political opponents, though the head of the Federal Election Commission reminded candidates earlier Thursday that asking for help from foreign governments is illegal in an apparent subtweet of Trump. 

Trump’s tweet caught the attention of one Democratic Rep., California’s Katie Hill, who responded on Twitter: “Dude, no. No. Nope. No. Just no.”

Later, Trump threatened to “sue” Pelosi for saying “that Adam Schiffty Schiff didn’t fabricate my words in a major speech before Congress” while further describing that it is “always tough to beat the “Press,” but people are beginning to see how totally CORRUPT they are, and it makes our job a whole lot easier!”

The president tweeted eight times within one hour.

California Sen. and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has called for Trump’s Twitter account to be suspended. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/03/aoc-donald-trump-better-wack-job-than-criminal-twitter/3861231002/

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