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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 319)

Trump called former Ukraine diplomat ‘bad news’ … and now she’s set to testify

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Kiev and someone President Trump has privately called “bad news,” is scheduled to sit for a potentially explosive transcribed interview with lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill on Friday as Democrats intensify their impeachment inquiry.

But after the White House abruptly blocked U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland from testifying shortly before his planned appearance on Tuesday, it remained unclear whether Yovanovitch would appear at all. The White House announced this week it would not comply at all with what it called Democrats’ “unconstitutional” proceedings.

However, multiple sources told Fox News late Thursday that Sondland will indeed appear for a transcribed interview before House investigators next Wednesday.

As of now, Fox News is told that the plan is for only House Intelligence Committee staff and members to pose questions to Yovanovitch, should the ex-diplomat show up as scheduled at 10 a.m. ET. No staffers from the Foreign Affairs or Oversight Committees, majority or minority party, are expected to be able to ask questions.

But Republicans will be allowed to have a second aide in the room after complaining last time, Fox News is told. It’s unclear how long the session is likely to run.

HERE’S WHY THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS IT WON’T COMPLY WITH DEMS’ IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

Trump and his surrogates have painted Yovanovitch as a rogue State Department employee with an anti-Trump political bias. Her ouster in May came amid alleged attempts by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to press Ukraine into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Those efforts triggered the impeachment inquiry.

The former New York mayor labeled Yovanovitch a political hack bent on undermining Trump’s efforts, charges that apparently resonated with the president.

Westlake Legal Group 40aba875-AP19270594642501 Trump called former Ukraine diplomat 'bad news' ... and now she's set to testify Gregg Re fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox news fnc/politics fnc article 787021dc-7ce5-553a-81fa-8afd4529afae

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

On Thursday, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment alleging in part that two donors to a pro-Trump fundraising committee were engaged in lobbying efforts in the U.S. on behalf of a Ukrainian politician to seek Yovanovitch’s ouster.

The Soviet-born defendants, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are U.S. citizens who helped Giuliani’s efforts to pursue an investigation of Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president insisted Thursday that he faced “no blackmail” from Trump in the July 25 phone call between the two men that led to an impeachment inquiry.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy said for the first time that his country will “happily” investigate the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that it was Ukrainians, not Russians, who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And he encouraged U.S. and Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss investigating the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.

GIULIANI ASSOCIATES TIED TO UKRAINE PROBES INDICTED ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS

Biden has acknowledged that in spring 2016, when he was vice president and spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings — where Hunter had a lucrative role on the board despite limited relevant expertise. The vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.

The impact of any news from the interview with Yovanovitch may be blunted temporarily because both the House and Senate formally remain on recess until next Tuesday. The House Democratic Caucus and Republican Conferences will hold their formal meetings and press conferences on Wednesday morning.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news.”

— President Trump, on Marie Yovanovitch

Yovanovitch, a State Department employee for 33 years who also led U.S. embassies in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, has drawn praise from colleagues for her past work on international affairs.

She is “a top-notch diplomat, careful, meticulous, whip-smart,” and unlikely to have badmouthed Trump, either to Ukrainian officials or her colleagues, said John Herbst, a predecessor as ambassador in Ukraine who worked alongside Yovanovitch there in the early 2000s.

That reputation is all but impossible to square with what some view as a smear campaign, capped by the Trump administration’s removal of Yovanovitch from her post this year.

BIDEN CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO BAR GIULIANI FROM TV … THEN GOES AFTER NEW YORK TIMES

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news,” Trump told Ukraine President Zelenskiy during their July 25 call, according to a partial transcript released by the White House. “She’s going to go through some things.”

Currently a State Department fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Yovanovitch was declining all requests to speak with reporters in advance of her planned testimony.

Yovanovitch, 60, was raised in a household that helped prepare her for a career in international relations.

Born in Canada to immigrant parents — her father from the former Soviet Union, her mother from Germany — she grew up speaking Russian at home. The family moved to Connecticut when she was a young child, and she later became a U.S. citizen.

“Like so many, including those in the Ukrainian-American community, my parents’ lives were changed forever by Communist and Nazi regimes,” Yovanovitch said during a Senate confirmation hearing in 2016, attended by her 88-year-old mother. “They survived poverty, war and displacement, and finally arrived in the United States, with me in tow, in search of freedom, opportunity, dignity and accountability.”

Yovanovitch attended Princeton, where she majored in history and Russian studies. She joined the Foreign Service six years later, working as deputy director of the Russian desk before being posted to Canada, Russia, Great Britain and Somalia.

From 2001 to 2004, she worked as the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Ukraine, as second in charge to Herbst, before being named ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, then to Armenia. She returned to Ukraine after President Barack Obama nominated her to be ambassador in 2016.

FOX NEWS POLL SHOWS RECORD SUPPORT FOR IMPEACHMENT

She arrived in Kiev two years after Russia’s forced annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its continuing military intervention. As an envoy, Yovanovitch sought to reassure Ukrainian officials of U.S. support, while pushing them to root out widespread corruption.

“The old oligarch system is still clinging to life, and corruption is its life support,” she said in a speech in January to new graduates of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy. “Ukraine must continue to pursue economic reforms in line with European standards and fully empower all of its anti-corruption institutions.”

Some Ukrainian officials, including the country’s top prosecutor, bridled at the pressure from the U.S. ambassador.

In March, the prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, claimed that Yovanovitch had given him a list of people he should not prosecute. The State Department dismissed the statement as baseless and Lutsenko later recanted his claim.

But critics, led by Giuliani, accused her of working to undermine Trump’s interests. “The embassy in Ukraine was a ‘Hillary Clinton for president’ office. And they were looking to dig up dirt on President Trump,” Giuliani said. “There was a lot more collusion with Ukraine than in Russia, where there doesn’t appear to be any. They were trying to bring Trump down.”

As part of Senate confirmation hearings to ambassadorial posts, Yovanovitch reported that she made several small contributions to Democratic candidates in the early 2000s, but none more recently.

She returned to Washington in 2012 and 2013, serving as the State Department’s day-to-day contact with U.S. officials in Europe. Lee Feinstein, the U.S. ambassador to Poland at the time, recalled extended conversations with Yovanovitch about how to calibrate negotiations over missile development and a continuing U.S. military presence there.

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“She was always the kind of person who was very, very supportive of her ambassadors and looking to help them do their jobs better,” said Feinstein, now dean of the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Relations at Indiana University. “Never somebody who was trying to pursue her own agenda.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19270594642501 Trump called former Ukraine diplomat 'bad news' ... and now she's set to testify Gregg Re fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox news fnc/politics fnc article 787021dc-7ce5-553a-81fa-8afd4529afae   Westlake Legal Group AP19270594642501 Trump called former Ukraine diplomat 'bad news' ... and now she's set to testify Gregg Re fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox news fnc/politics fnc article 787021dc-7ce5-553a-81fa-8afd4529afae

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Minneapolis police union boss hits back at mayor ahead of Trump rally

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093887954001_6093888836001-vs Minneapolis police union boss hits back at mayor ahead of Trump rally Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/minnesota fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 0e4a5825-77c8-5fac-8942-7f9db54215cb

The head of the Minneapolis police union delivered impassioned remarks prior to President Trump’s reelection rally Thursday night, praising him for championing the rights of law enforcement officials across the country, before being called up on stage later on in the night to be recognized by the president.

“We’re seeing a lot of red cop shirts out here tonight because of the hypocrisy,” Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the  Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said at the “Keep America Great rally” at the Target Center in Minnesota. “They don’t want the police here when it’s a Republican who stands up for the police, but if it’s a Democrat we get a different story. Our cops are here as much as they could be in full force across the state.”

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE BAR OFF-DUTY COPS FROM WEARING UNIFORMS AT POLITICAL EVENTS AHEAD OF TRUMP RALLY

Just last week, the city rolled out a new rule that barred officers from appearing in uniform at political rallies or events, a move that raised eyebrows among Trump supporters, particularly cops, who questioned the timing of the new rule.

Kroll and other officers appeared at the rally in bright red “Cops for Trump” T-shirts, which Trump pointed to during the rally.

“I love you guys,” Trump said, giving Kroll a shoutout along with the rest of the police force before inviting him to join him and other union officers on the stage. “You are so great, so respected, you don’t even know how much our public loves you.”

“How can you thank this guy for everything he’s done for law enforcement? Wonderful president,” Kroll said in return.

Kroll also condemned Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who released a statement denouncing Trump’s visit to the city last week.

“Our entire city will not stand behind the president, but behind the communities and people who continue to make our city — and this country — great,” said Frey, a Democrat. “While there is no legal mechanism to prevent the president from visiting, his message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis.”

“The mayor said the president wasn’t welcome but the Police Federation of Minneapolis begs to differ,” Kroll said as the crowd cheered.

Kroll slammed the Democratic Party, which has held sway in the state for close to 47 years, and which Trump is determined to flip in the upcoming election.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093887954001_6093888836001-vs Minneapolis police union boss hits back at mayor ahead of Trump rally Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/minnesota fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 0e4a5825-77c8-5fac-8942-7f9db54215cb   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6093887954001_6093888836001-vs Minneapolis police union boss hits back at mayor ahead of Trump rally Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/minnesota fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 0e4a5825-77c8-5fac-8942-7f9db54215cb

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Man who had pro-Hong Kong sign confiscated at NBA game in Washington says league is ‘afraid’ of China

Westlake Legal Group Carlson-Scheweppe Man who had pro-Hong Kong sign confiscated at NBA game in Washington says league is 'afraid' of China fox-news/world/world-regions/hong-kong fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/washington-dc fox-news/sports/nba/washington-wizards fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 9e8ed3c0-73dc-5c44-af76-e40e836a0382

A spectator at the Washington Wizards’ exhibition game versus the Guangzhou Long-Lions reacted to having security take away his pro-Hong Kong signage.

Jon Schweppe told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” the NBA regularly allows its players to take politcal stances, but would not allow any free expression against the Chinese government in this particular case.

“I think it was done by someone up top,” he said of the decision to take the signs. “They don’t want to talk about it,” he said of Beijing’s alleged human rights abuses. “They’re afraid to upset their bottom line with China.”

During the interview, host Tucker Carlson wondered aloud how free expression could be restricted in Washington of all places.

PRO-HONG KONG PROTESTERS CAUSE DISRUPTIONS IN CROWD DURING NBA WASHINGTON WIZARDS GAME

“This is in the nation’s capital… and you can’t protest mainland China — in the capital of the United States,” Carlson said.

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Schweppe agreed with the sentiment, pointing to the NBA previously pulling its All-Star Game out of North Carolina amid the battle over Raleigh’s transgender bathroom law.

He also recalled his interaction with security at the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington.

Schweppe claimed security guards were talking to each other when he and his friends unveiled their first banner, and then took action when a second sign was taken out.

PRO-HONG KONG NBA FAN BOOTED FROM 76ERS PRESEASON GAME AGAINST CHINESE TEAM

During the interview, Carlson played video from Schweppe, which showed part of their interaction with security.

“What is the reasoning?” a man is heard asking when a security guard tells him he wants to take away the banner.

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“It’s Capital One Arena, we understand — we respect your freedom of speech,” the guard said. “We are just personally not having — we don’t have any stance on it, so we’re just asking any signed related to that not be in here tonight.”

At the game, after the Chinese national anthem was played, one person shouted: “Freedom of expression! Freedom of speech! Free Hong Kong!” A second person also shouted for a free Hong Kong from the second level during the second quarter of the contest.

Security guards at the Capital One Arena then confronted a fan holding up a “Free Tibet” sign and another holding up the Tibet flag. Security tried to take the sign, but the fan resisted and they walked away from their seats and were followed by security.

Westlake Legal Group Carlson-Scheweppe Man who had pro-Hong Kong sign confiscated at NBA game in Washington says league is 'afraid' of China fox-news/world/world-regions/hong-kong fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/washington-dc fox-news/sports/nba/washington-wizards fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 9e8ed3c0-73dc-5c44-af76-e40e836a0382   Westlake Legal Group Carlson-Scheweppe Man who had pro-Hong Kong sign confiscated at NBA game in Washington says league is 'afraid' of China fox-news/world/world-regions/hong-kong fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/world/religion/islam fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/washington-dc fox-news/sports/nba/washington-wizards fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 9e8ed3c0-73dc-5c44-af76-e40e836a0382

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Billy Porter may join ‘Cinderella’ as the Fairy Godmother: report

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1176500175 Billy Porter may join 'Cinderella' as the Fairy Godmother: report Variety fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/genres/musicals fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc Dave McNary article 0029437b-554a-5323-98fc-5a8e47a7054d

“Pose” star Billy Porter is in negotiations to join Camila Cabello in Sony’s reimagined musical version of “Cinderella.”

If the deal goes through, Porter will play Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Sony had no comment.

Cabello came on to the project in April with “Blockers” director Kay Cannon attached to helm and pen the script. Cabello will be involved in the music for the project, which grew out of an original idea from James Corden. The film will be produced by Corden and Leo Pearlman through their Fulwell73 banner.

‘MATRIX 4’: YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II LANDS LEAD ROLE

The new “Cinderella” will be a music-oriented version of the traditional tale of the orphaned girl with an evil stepmother. Disney’s 1950 animated drama has received two live-action remakes: 1997’s iteration starring Brandy and Whitney Houston and Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 version with Lily James. The latter grossed $543 million worldwide.

HOLLY HUNTER TO PLAY SALLY YATES IN CBS STUDIOS’ JAMES COMEY MINISERIES

Porter won his first Emmy in the lead actor in a drama series last month for his performance as Pray Tell on Ryan Murphy’s “Pose.” His stage credits include “Angels in America” and his Tony Award-winning portrayal of Lola in “Kinky Boots.”

WAYNE BRADY TO RECUR ON ‘BLACK LIGHTNING SEASON 3

Porter will return for the third season of FX’s “Pose” and will also appear next year in Paramount’s comedy “Like a Boss” opposite Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek and Rose Byrne. He is repped by CAA and Industry Entertainment.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1176500175 Billy Porter may join 'Cinderella' as the Fairy Godmother: report Variety fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/genres/musicals fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc Dave McNary article 0029437b-554a-5323-98fc-5a8e47a7054d   Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1176500175 Billy Porter may join 'Cinderella' as the Fairy Godmother: report Variety fox-news/entertainment/movies fox-news/entertainment/genres/musicals fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc Dave McNary article 0029437b-554a-5323-98fc-5a8e47a7054d

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Andrew Yang rips Chinese government’s ‘ridiculous’ decision not to broadcast NBA games

Westlake Legal Group Andrew-Yang Andrew Yang rips Chinese government's 'ridiculous' decision not to broadcast NBA games Sam Dorman fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/media fnc article 9a02b67b-81e6-5db3-9fdc-2649d9059204

Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang condemned the Chinese government’s decision not to broadcast two NBA preseason games Thursday, claiming that the Communist nation was mainly hurting its own people.

“The Chinese government banning NBA games because of a deleted tweet by a franchise employee is ridiculous,” Yang, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, told The Hill. “The main losers would be the Chinese fans who would find another way to watch the games. The NBA should feel confident in its position and stand up for the free speech rights of its employees.”

Yang’s comments were just the latest perspective added to an ongoing controversy surrounding Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s support for pro-democracy, anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong.

ANDREW YANG RAISES $10M IN LAST QUARTER, TRIPLES PREVIOUS FUNDRAISING FIGURE

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That support, expressed in a now-deleted tweet, caused a massive backlash in China, where state-run China Central Television (CCTV) said it would not air two exhibition games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. The outlet also took aim at NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who defended Morey’s right to free speech.

“We voice our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Adam Silver offering as an excuse the right to freedom of expression,” CCTV said, according to The New York Times. “We believe that no comments challenging national sovereignty and social stability fall within the scope of freedom of expression.”

Others in the NBA have faced American criticism for their responses. ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann had scathing criticism for Rockets player James Harden after he apologized to China.

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“The @NBA’s obsequiousness on this, from [Nets owner] @joetsai1999 to the smarmy league Statement on @dmorey to this Harden remark, is embarrassing beyond words. To stand up for the democratic freedoms we have here is to risk alienating those who would suppress them,” Olbermann tweeted on Monday.

Normally outspoken Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr also provoked backlash when he declined to comment on the issue.

Westlake Legal Group Andrew-Yang Andrew Yang rips Chinese government's 'ridiculous' decision not to broadcast NBA games Sam Dorman fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/media fnc article 9a02b67b-81e6-5db3-9fdc-2649d9059204   Westlake Legal Group Andrew-Yang Andrew Yang rips Chinese government's 'ridiculous' decision not to broadcast NBA games Sam Dorman fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/person/andrew-yang fox news fnc/media fnc article 9a02b67b-81e6-5db3-9fdc-2649d9059204

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Senior adviser to Pompeo resigns

Westlake Legal Group Z4kS-iiYnyR5SAW4pCXhUyhRQcnfOgrA91JkGF7qB84 Senior adviser to Pompeo resigns r/politics

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Opinion: Case for Colin Kaepernick is more like a Hail Mary for out-of-work QB

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Opinion: Case for Colin Kaepernick is more like a Hail Mary for out-of-work QB

SportsPulse: If there was ever a week to bet Week 6 may be one of the best. Lorenzo gives his locks for the weekend. USA TODAY

You can picture Colin Kaepernick dodging tacklers behind the line of scrimmage.

His receivers sprinting furiously toward the end zone.

His right arm launching the football skyward as the clock winds down.

Because it feels like Kaepernick is attempting a Hail Mary, as the clock winds down on his hopes of playing quarterback again in the NFL.

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.”

Those are the words atop a two-page document entitled “Facts to Address the False Narratives Regarding Colin Kaepernick.” His agent, Jeff Nalley, and PR director, Jasmine Windham, released it Thursday.

For Immediate Release? Really? Why now?

Kaepernick, 31, has been working out five days a week for three years in preparation to play again, according to the two-page document. So what has compelled him and his representatives to go this route?

As usual, Kaepernick is unavailable to field questions and clarify his position. Granted, his representatives suggest the document is necessary only because the news media has failed to do its job.

“There have been so many false narratives in the media regarding Colin,’’ the document reads. “We believe it is important to set the record straight, again. Nothing below is open for interpretation or debate, it’s the truth and nothing else.’’

The truth is, the news media has largely showered Kaepernick with praise since August 2016, when he first knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against African Americans and social injustice. But now, five games into the 2019 NFL season, Kaepernick is taking his case to the public because apparently he feels has no other choice.

His agent has reached out to all 32 teams “with little of no response from teams about an opportunity for Colin,’’ according to the document.

Fans might assume Kaepernick can’t play in the league because he filed a grievance against the NFL for alleged collusion. But, as the document points out, Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate, filed the same grievance — which was settled between the parties — and he now plays for the Carolina Panthers.

“Colin has the same skill set that many of the young mobile quarterbacks flourishing in the NFL right now,’’ reads the document. 

True, indeed. Although Kaepernick is no longer young.

Many of the “false narratives’’ have been corrected or clarified long ago.

For example, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers after the 2016 season when the team told Kaepernick it planned to cut him. Not because the 49ers refused to meet any contractual demands.

The document also presents compelling statistical data showing just how effective Kaepernick was in 2016, when he was recovering from surgery on his right thumb, left knee and on his left shoulder. Of course that was nearly three years ago.

But here’s one bullet point not addressed in the statement: Kaepernick remains unemployed because he risked alienating the league and its fans with his protests. It was a noble thing to do, and the most obvious reason why he has yet to get an offer to return.

Surely there is no better unemployed quarterback on the planet. Kaepernick, after all, has 12,271 passing yards, a 4-2 record in the playoffs and, of course, a Super Bowl appearance

But of his 72 passing touchdowns, there was not a game-winning Hail Mary among them.

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Joe Biden will be Democrats’ ‘collateral damage’ in quest to impeach Trump, Charles Lane says

Westlake Legal Group Joe-Hunter-GettyImages-520783510 Joe Biden will be Democrats' 'collateral damage' in quest to impeach Trump, Charles Lane says fox-news/shows/special-report fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 33e0b194-438f-5989-ae3a-5134718a39af

Former Vice President Joe Biden will be collateral political damage as Democrats continue their push to impeach President Trump, according to the Washington Post’s Charles Lane.

Hunter Biden’s connections to Ukraine and China continue to be a headache for the Delaware Democrat, and his name will not go away in the media anytime soon, Lane said on “Special Report.”

“Joe Biden is absolutely collateral damage out of this whole situation and out of the whole impeachment thing because Hunter’s name will come up every time it’s written about,” he said.

BIDEN ADVISER DEFENDS CANDIDATE’S CALL FOR TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Biden, he said, ” has not had a good two or three weeks.”

Pointing to a recent Fox News Poll showing Biden continuing to lead Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Lane expressed surprise at the ex-vice president’s performance.

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“I’m a little surprised because there has been so much in the press about how Warren is charging,” he said.

In addition, Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt said Biden continues to nonetheless hold a strong position as a candidate in the “non-socialist, less insane lane” of the primary contest.

He projected the Democrats’ eventual nominee will come from that side of the party.

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In a recent New Hampshire radio interview, Biden continued to deny engaging with his son about the 49-year-old’s dealings in Ukraine.

I never had a discussion with my son about it. He did say at one point that it came out that he was on the board. I said, ‘I sure hope to Hell you know what you’re doing’ — period,” he told New Hampshire Today.

Westlake Legal Group Joe-Hunter-GettyImages-520783510 Joe Biden will be Democrats' 'collateral damage' in quest to impeach Trump, Charles Lane says fox-news/shows/special-report fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 33e0b194-438f-5989-ae3a-5134718a39af   Westlake Legal Group Joe-Hunter-GettyImages-520783510 Joe Biden will be Democrats' 'collateral damage' in quest to impeach Trump, Charles Lane says fox-news/shows/special-report fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 33e0b194-438f-5989-ae3a-5134718a39af

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Giuliani Pressed for Turkish Prisoner Swap in Oval Office Meeting

Westlake Legal Group merlin_128860991_515f45cd-79d9-4cb1-8039-df1c6a6e01e9-facebookJumbo Giuliani Pressed for Turkish Prisoner Swap in Oval Office Meeting Zarrab, Reza (1983- ) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Turkey Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Tillerson, Rex W Sessions, Jefferson B III Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nuclear Weapons Mukasey, Michael B Iran Giuliani, Rudolph W Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Embargoes and Sanctions Brafman, Benjamin Bharara, Preet Atilla, Mehmet Hakan

During a contentious Oval Office meeting with President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017, Rudolph W. Giuliani pressed for help in securing the release of a jailed client, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, as part of a potential prisoner swap with Turkey.

The request by Mr. Giuliani provoked an immediate objection from Mr. Tillerson, who argued that it would be highly inappropriate to interfere in an open criminal case, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

The gold trader, Reza Zarrab, had been accused by federal prosecutors of playing a central role in an effort by a state-owned Turkish bank to funnel more than $10 billion worth of gold and cash to Iran, in defiance of United States sanctions designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

But at the White House meeting in early 2017, Mr. Giuliani and his longtime friend and colleague, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, pushed back on Mr. Tillerson’s objections.

Rather than side with his secretary of state, Mr. Trump told them to work it out themselves, according to the two people briefed on the meeting. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

In the end, no such prisoner swap took place. But the episode has opened a new chapter in Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to interject himself into the Trump administration’s diplomacy while at times representing clients with a direct interest in the outcome.

The Oval Office meeting occurred before Mr. Giuliani became Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for the special counsel’s Russia investigation. In recent weeks, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign to press Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of one of Mr. Trump’s political rivals, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., has thrust him into the middle of the House impeachment inquiry. And on Wednesday, two of Mr. Giuliani’s associates in that campaign were arrested on charges of violating federal campaign finance laws.

Mr. Giuliani, in an interview on Thursday, defended his actions in the gold trader case, which were first reported on Wednesday by Bloomberg.

Mr. Giuliani, well known for his hawkish views on Iran, said he had been willing to represent Mr. Zarrab because the proposed prisoner swap would have secured the release of an American pastor who was being held in Turkey on terrorism-related charges the United States considered fabricated.

He likened his efforts — which also included apprising Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, of what he wanted — to maneuvers during the Cold War to trade enemy spies for Americans detained overseas.

Mr. Giuliani questioned how his actions were any different. “It happened to be a good trade,” he said. “I expected to be a hero like in a Tom Hanks movie.”

But his involvement, as a private citizen and friend of the president in the months after Mr. Trump passed him over for the role of secretary of state, left some in the administration uncomfortable, given the strained and complicated relationship between the United States and Turkey.

Mr. Giuliani’s moves also ran counter to a long-running American effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program as the United States was trying to punish players, like Mr. Zarrab, who helped the regime evade sanctions.

The case, called the single largest evasion of Iranian sanctions in United States history, revolved around a scheme by the Turkish bank in 2012 and 2013 to send billions of dollars in gold and cash to Iran in exchange for oil and natural gas.

Mr. Zarrab, who has Turkish and Iranian citizenship, was arrested in Florida in March 2016 on a family trip to Disney World, and was accused of an illicit operation that relied on false documents and front companies to move the assets to Iran from the accounts of Halkbank, the second-largest state-owned lender in Turkey.

Getting him out of the United States was a high priority for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because Mr. Zarrab had information that would later implicate senior bank officials, as well as Turkish government officials, in the scheme.

Indeed, after the prison swap failed, Mr. Zarrab became a key witness and testified that in 2012, Mr. Erdogan, then Turkey’s prime minister, had ordered that two Turkish banks be allowed to participate in the sanction-evasion scheme.

Mr. Giuliani said that he was brought into the effort by Mr. Muskasey, who had been hired by Mr. Zarrab’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.

The two men had been pressing their case with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early 2017 when Mr. Tillerson joined the conversation, according to the two people briefed on the meeting. Mr. Tillerson, who could not be reached for comment, was surprised to find Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey at what he thought would be a regular private meeting with the president, the people said.

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Giuliani to tell Mr. Tillerson what he wanted, which prompted Mr. Tillerson’s objections.

Mr. Mukasey’s spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Mr. Giuliani, in the interview on Thursday, disputed the account provided to The New York Times of his discussion with Mr. Tillerson about Mr. Zarrab — and the assertion that Mr. Tillerson replied that such a step was inappropriate. But Mr. Giuliani did not specify what aspects of the account he found inaccurate, saying he could not discuss the meeting because of attorney-client privilege.

“This is a completely malicious story coming from the consistent attack on me to try to destroy my credibility,” Mr. Giuliani said.

He added that at the time, “nobody ever complained” to him from the Trump administration about his role in the case.

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey were persistent in the effort. Court filings show that they discussed the matter with State Department officials in Turkey before meeting with Mr. Erdogan himself, and that Mr. Sessions and Preet Bharara, then the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, were informed “on a confidential basis.”

Mr. Giuliani argued in court filings that “none of the transactions in which Mr. Zarrab is alleged to have participated involved weapons or nuclear technology, or any other contraband, but rather involved consumer goods, and that Turkey is situated in a part of the world strategically critical to the United States.”

And Mr. Mukasey, in an April 2017 court filing, asserted that “senior U.S. officials have remained receptive to pursuing the possibility of an agreement.”

But officials at the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan remained opposed to the Zarrab trade, as did Mr. Tillerson. Mr. Giuliani, in the Thursday interview, said he wasn’t sure why the proposal fell apart.

What’s clear is that Mr. Zarrab pleaded guilty in October 2017 to the charges, and became a key witness in federal criminal cases prosecuted in New York that led to the conviction of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Halkbank.

During Mr. Atilla’s criminal trial in late 2017, the judge overseeing the case criticized Mr. Giuliani’s role in trying to secure Mr. Zarrab’s freedom, noting that such a move might benefit Iran.

“Most respectfully, the Giuliani and Mukasey affidavits appear surprisingly disingenuous in failing to mention the central role of Iran in the indictment, and indeed, failing to mention Iran at all in their affidavits,” the judge, Richard M. Berman, said, citing statements in which the men suggested Mr. Zarrab’s release might help the United States.

Mr. Atilla was sentenced to 32 months in prison. But he was released early from jail in July and then returned to Turkey, where he was greeted at the airport like a hero in Istanbul by Turkey’s treasury and finance minister, Berat Albayrak, who is also Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law. Mr. Zarrab’s whereabouts have not been disclosed by the United States government.

The American pastor, Andrew Brunson, was also released, without a trade involving Mr. Zarrab, in October 2018. The move was credited with an overall improvement in relations between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan.

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Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism

Westlake Legal Group Biden-Scheweizer_AP-FOX Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 9104ed60-991f-5aae-959e-20d6cc76b554

Author Peter Schweizer defended his New York Times op-ed on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s involvement with Ukraine after Biden’s campaign released a letter blasting the paper for giving the author “top billing.”

“The Biden reaction is not a surprise because their entire strategy on this, Martha, has been to attack me to generate a lot of heat but no light,” Schweizer said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” Thursday.

“They’ve not answered any serious questions about this at all with any journalists.”

The deputy manager of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign slammed The Times Wednesday in a letter to the newspaper’s executive editor — focusing on the expanding Ukraine controversy.

HILLARY ON BIDEN-UKRAINE ALLEGATIONS: ‘FAIR GAME’ TO QUESTION JUDGMENT, BUT ‘NO EVIDENCE’ OF WRONGDOING’

The letter, written by Kate Bedingfield to Dean Baquet, criticizes the paper for publishing Schweizer’s Wednesday op-ed, titled, “What Hunter Biden Did Was Legal – That’s the Problem,” according to CNN.

In his piece, Schweizer asserts Biden was “self-dealing” in Ukraine while vice president.

Bedingfield in the letter criticizes The Times’ Ukraine coverage and decries the paper’s “active participation” in a “smear campaign” against Biden.

Schweizer told MacCallum that The Times reached out to him to write the op-ed and that the piece was not the only fact-checked by his Government Accountability Institute but that “every word” was also fact-checked by The Times.

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The author also disagreed with the Biden campaign’s notion that allegations brought up in his book “Secret Empires” were debunked and that Schweizer was “digging” for political reasons.

“We looked at both sides of the aisle. The Biden material though is particularly troubling because it had never been exposed before… the number of deals and the size of the deals that Hunter Biden had in China had never been exposed before,” Schweizer said, bringing up new allegations regarding Hunter’s business dealings with China.”

Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Biden-Scheweizer_AP-FOX Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 9104ed60-991f-5aae-959e-20d6cc76b554   Westlake Legal Group Biden-Scheweizer_AP-FOX Author Peter Schweizer defends New York Times op-ed against Biden campaign after criticism Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 9104ed60-991f-5aae-959e-20d6cc76b554

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