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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 365)

Nothing Has Technically Changed, But Impeachment Is Still Entering A New Stage

WASHINGTON ― There was a “seismic shift” on impeachment in the House on Tuesday, even if lawmakers themselves are struggling to explain what’s changed.

After a day in which more than a dozen Democrats came out for impeaching President Donald Trump in response to reports that he sought political dirt from a foreign country, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday night that she is supporting “an official impeachment inquiry.”

That would seem to be a significant development, given the reluctance Pelosi has shown for months toward moving forward with any part of impeachment. But it’s also notable that Pelosi only came out for an impeachment inquiry. She even emphasized those words. 

“The House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” she said in a formal, on-camera statement. “I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella, of impeachment inquiry.”

Lawmakers insisted the announcement was significant. “All cylinders go, or whatever that phrase may be,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Tuesday before a closed-door meeting with all Democrats. But after the meeting, even though Jayapal still thought the news was momentous, she struggled to explain why.

“I think she’s saying full steam ahead on an impeachment inquiry, which you know, obviously we’re in an impeachment inquiry, but there has been some confusion,” Jayapal said. 

Westlake Legal Group 5d8a9a4224000032007d1eea Nothing Has Technically Changed, But Impeachment Is Still Entering A New Stage

Alex Wong via Getty Images “What’s big and different is that the speaker of the House ― the speaker of the House! ― has said the impeachment word,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), pictured here.

The House Judiciary Committee already voted in favor of an inquiry on its own earlier this month, which was supposedly enough to help it with the open court cases in which the committee is seeking information from the Trump administration. (The Trump administration has argued that Democrats lack a “legitimate legislative purpose” for information like Trump’s tax returns, and Democrats contend that the possibility of impeachment is that legislative purpose.)

But Tuesday does mark a new chapter in the impeachment effort. 

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who’s been a strong advocate of impeachment since early 2017, said that even though nothing is changing statutorily on impeachment, this is a big change.

“She’s been crystal clear in the last many months that you don’t start an inquiry unless you got the goods, and unless you’ve got the votes to get it over the finish line,” Huffman said of Pelosi. “And she’s now saying, ‘Start the inquiry.’”

Huffman emphasized that the fast-moving Ukraine story ― in Trump seems to acknowledge that he discussed Joe Biden’s son’s Ukranian business dealings with Ukraine’s president and may have even held back $250 million in U.S. military aid until the country helped dig up political dirt on Hunter Biden ― has unified the Democratic Caucus.

The real big change for impeachment wasn’t Pelosi or another dozen lawmakers coming out for the constitutional remedy; it was Trump’s behavior.

She’s been crystal clear in the last many months that you don’t start an inquiry unless you got the goods. … And she’s now saying, ‘Start the inquiry.’ Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)

But again, nothing legislatively has yet changed.

“We’re in the midst of impeachment inquiry, which we are intensifying, and we’re moving aggressively,” Judiciary committee member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said when asked if there would be a House vote. 

While the development that Pelosi supports a (supposedly) already ongoing impeachment inquiry wasn’t quite as seismic as billed, Democrats clearly left their caucus meeting satisfied.

“Symbolism matters. Words matter,” longtime impeachment supporter Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) told HuffPost. “I think by the end of the week, you would have to say we have begun an impeachment inquiry, an impeachment investigation of the president of the United States.”

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said there might actually be a vote on some kind of resolution, but he didn’t know what it might say. 

“If anyone tells you they know exactly how it’s going to play out this week, they’re mistaken,” Quigley told HuffPost. 

“What’s big and different is that the speaker of the House ― the speaker of the House! ― has said the impeachment word,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) said. “I’m on record that I’ve felt the president’s behavior has warranted an impeachment. Now, for our leader, the speaker of the House, to say this, has clearly defined that he reached that benchmark of being impeached.”

Asked what changes from what Democrats have already been doing with their committee investigations, Lawrence said, “Well, we’re all together.”

If anyone tells you they know exactly how it’s going to play out this week, they’re mistaken. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)

“What changed, if I had to put my finger on it, is there’s unity like I haven’t seen before with regard to how we’re going to deal with this piece of misconduct,” added Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a longtime proponent of an impeachment inquiry. “It’s clarifying.”

But as to whether he felt the day’s news means the House is more likely to vote on an impeachment resolution, he couldn’t say.

“Nothing was discussed in specifics,” Krishnamoorthi said.

There are no current plans for the full House to vote on an impeachment inquiry, but the developments seem to be coming fast, so that could always change.

The White House has said it plans to release a transcript of the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And the whistleblower who originally made a complaint about the phone call has asked the acting director of national intelligence for permission to speak to the House Intelligence Committee.

“We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week,” Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a tweet Tuesday.

If the reality is as damning as the allegations, the House could move quickly. While Democratic leaders dithered for months after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, this whistleblower complaint about Ukraine has captured their attention and seemed to cross a new line.

As Jayapal said Tuesday, the Ukraine situation is particularly egregious because it’s the president himself breaking the law, not some underling.

“Donald Trump is the smoking gun,” she said.

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Trump Lashes Out On Twitter In Response To Impeachment Inquiry Announcement

Westlake Legal Group 5d8a749b24000057007ce8ec Trump Lashes Out On Twitter In Response To Impeachment Inquiry Announcement

President Donald Trump tweeted out several angry messages Tuesday just minutes after Congress announced a long-discussed formal impeachment inquiry into him.

“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking new Witch Hunt garbage,” he tweeted. “So bad for our Country!”

The president’s tweets included “Witch Hunt” and “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT,” two phrases he often uses to describe Democrats’ push for impeachment. He also tweeted a video compilation of various lawmakers calling for his impeachment, alleging that such a call will only help him win the 2020 election.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that the House will open an “official impeachment inquiry” and called the president’s conduct regarding the Ukraine phone call a “violation of law.”

Pelosi asked the six House committee chairs to continue their own investigations under the “umbrella” of an impeachment inquiry and send their cases to the House Judiciary Committee, which would then package it together and decide whether to send articles of impeachment to the full House.

“Can you believe this?” Trump said in one of his tweets, name dropping Pelosi, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

The inquiry announcement came in response to news that Trump allegedly called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pressure him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s son, Hunter Biden, just days after withholding millions in military aid to Ukraine.

Trump confirmed to reporters at the United Nations earlier Tuesday that he did withhold nearly $400 million and urge Zelensky to probe into Biden’s family, but he denied that he threatened to withhold U.S. military aid to the country if Ukraine did not investigate Biden.

According to the Washington Post, when asked about impeachment earlier Tuesday before Pelosi’s announcement, Trump said: “They say it’s a positive for me. How can you do this and you haven’t even seen the phone call?” He also said in his string of tweets that Congress “never even saw the transcript of the call.”

The call with Zelensky is at the center of an intelligence whistleblower complaint that surfaced last week and was first reported by the Post. The whistleblower, who had knowledge of the phone call, reportedly approached Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson with concerns that Trump made certain “promises” while communicating with a foreign leader, among other incidents.

Trump said throughout the day Tuesday that he will release the “unredacted transcript” of his call with Zelensky the next day. But Democrats have said the transcript is not enough, demanding that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire release the whistleblower complaint that Atkinson called “urgent.” Maguire has so far refused to turn over the complaint.

While announcing the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi said that Maguire must turn over the whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee by Thursday. The GOP-controlled Senate also unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday demanding the Trump administration release the complaint.

The reports about Trump’s request for foreign intervention in U.S. elections and potential bribery led a wave of more Democratic lawmakers to call for a full impeachment inquiry in Congress, making a total of at least 172 House members demanding the proceeding. Pelosi’s announcement was a change on her own stance, as she’s been a consistent opponent of impeachment and an advocate for long committee investigations.

Nearly a dozen of those new lawmakers supporting impeachment are freshmen, including several from districts that Trump won in 2016. 

Trump’s reelection campaign wasted no time using the impeachment inquiry announcement to fundraise for 2020, telling voters: “I need you on my Impeachment Defense Team.”

A couple of hours after the impeachment announcement, the White House released a full statement related to the House investigation.

“In a far departure from all the work and results of this President, House Democrats have destroyed any chances of legislative progress for the people of this country by continuing to focus all their energy on partisan political attacks,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, calling the impeachment inquiry “pathetic.”

This story has been updated with a statement from the White House.

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House Democrats will launch an impeachment inquiry. Here’s what we know so far

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close House Democrats will launch an impeachment inquiry. Here's what we know so far

President Donald Trump is denying that he told the president of Ukraine that his country would only get U.S. aid if they investigated the son of Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump said emphatically: “I didn’t do it.” (Sept. 23) AP, AP

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday evening the U.S. House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over allegations he sought help from a foreign leader to damage a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. 

“I can say with authority, the Trump administration’s actions undermine our national security and intelligence,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters after meeting Democratic leadership. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

The announcement came after a string of Democrats stepped forward in recent days voicing support to begin impeachment proceedings amid reports that Trump tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his former vice president Joe Biden, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president. 

Trump faced more scrutiny on Tuesday after a Washington Post report stated he told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold congressional-approved military aid for Ukraine just days before his phone call with Zelensky. According to the report, the president sought to use the money as leverage to force Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden and his son.

Here’s what we know about the brewing political storm. 

What are Democrats saying? 

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close House Democrats will launch an impeachment inquiry. Here's what we know so far

Impeaching a U.S. president might not be the be all end all for their career. Not only can a president remain in office after impeachment, but even see higher approval ratings. We explain. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

Pelosi, who has resisted support for Trump’s impeachment for months, met with six committee chairmen, who are leading several investigations into the president, to discuss consensus on whether to proceed with a formal inquiry. 

A member of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said no mechanics of the investigation were discussed during the caucus meeting.

“The news here, obviously, is that Speaker Pelosi has a new position on impeachment,” Welch said. “But the step by step of how we do it was not discussed.”

Democrats say the allegation that Trump sought to leverage military aid to Ukraine in an effort to dig up political dirt on Biden is an abuse of power and an impeachable offense. 

Several Democrats, including some freshmen lawmakers who flipped Republican-controlled districts in the 2018 midterm election, have joined growing support for impeachment. 

More: Biden calls for Trump to face impeachment if he doesn’t comply with Congressional inquiries

More: Trump says he’ll release transcript of call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. the No.2 Democrat in the Senate, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, an icon of the civil rights movement, also threw their support behind impeachment on Tuesday. 

How’d we get here?        

The saga began last week when The Washington Post reported that a whistleblower complaint filed Aug. 12 to the inspector general for national intelligence warranted “urgent concern” regarding Trump.

The secret complaint is reportedly related to Trump’s phone call with Zelensky on July 25, in which the president has said he discussed corruption and Biden. Over the last week, reports emerged that Trump pressured Zelensky during the phone call to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings with a Ukrainian oil and gas firm. 

Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have pushed uncorroborated claims for months that Biden as vice president sought the ouster in 2016 of Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general Viktor Shokin to stop an investigation into the oligarch behind Burisma Group, a Ukrainian energy company where the vice president’s son Hunter served on the board of directors.

The push by the vice president came alongside calls for Ukraine to get rid of Shokin from European diplomats and the U.S. State Department because international leaders said Shokin did too little to fight corruption in the Eastern European country.

The Ukrainian Parliament voted Shokin out. Ukrainian officials have found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son. 

The drama escalated when reports surfaced Monday that Trump had instructed Mulvaney to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine days before the July phone call, fueling speculation that he did so to pressure Zelensky into investigating Biden. Trump maintains that he delayed the funding because other countries were not contributing funds to Ukraine.

Before Pelosi’s meeting on Tuesday, Trump authorized the release of the transcript of his phone call with Zelensky, calling it a “very friendly and totally appropriate call.” The transcript is expected to be released this week.

What happens next?

Democrats are expected to bring to the floor Wednesday a nonbinding resolution expressing disapproval of the administration’s blocking release of the complaint filed by the whistleblower. The law requires that such complaints be transmitted to Congress.

The Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House intelligence committee, where he is likely to be pressed by Democrats to produce the whistleblower complaint. 

House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted Tuesday that the whistleblower’s lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, offered to have his client meet with the panel and has requested guidance from Maguire. Schiff said the meeting could happen as soon as this week.

The House needs a simple majority among its 435 members to recommend articles of impeachment to proceed to a trial in the Senate. Democrats hold a 235-197 majority in the House, giving them far more than the 218 votes needed to impeach.

All eyes will also be on Trump on Thursday, when he is set to meet Zelensky in person at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Following Pelosi’s announcement, the president tweeted the move is “Witch Hunt garbage” and “bad for our Country.”

Contributing: Aamer Madhani and John Fritze

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/24/pelosi-house-democrats-mull-trump-impeachment-over-ukraine-phone-call/2427086001/

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Thomas Cook Would Be ‘Shocked,’ Biographer Says, to See His Travel Agency’s Fall

The demise of Thomas Cook, Britain’s most venerated travel agency, is shaping up as one of the country’s greatest corporate fiascos.

When the agency went out of business on Monday, it left some 150,000 vacationers stranded on foreign soil. It put about 21,000 jobs at risk. It prompted calls for an investigation of its management and clawback of executive pay.

So what would Thomas Cook, the man, think of what has became of Thomas Cook, the company?

“He would be shocked and appalled,” said Piers Brendon, author of “Thomas Cook: 150 Years of Popular Tourism.” “Greed and incompetence have wrecked a fine company which has a name that resonated for nearly 200 years.”

Not surprisingly, the company has different theories for its collapse. In May, it reported a gargantuan loss of 1.5 billion pounds, about $1.9 billion, for the first half of the year. The heat wave of 2018 had “reduced customer demand for winter sun.” More important, its chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, cited uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

“There is now little doubt that the Brexit process,” Mr. Fankhauser wrote in the report, “has led many U.K. customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer.”

Some observers are, in fact, calling Thomas Cook the first major Brexit casualty. The contemporaneous decline in the pound, widely considered a Brexit side effect, has also made holidays more financially daunting.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161344764_fabd3f21-ce93-4011-be38-fa256ef5a86d-articleLarge Thomas Cook Would Be ‘Shocked,’ Biographer Says, to See His Travel Agency’s Fall Travel and Vacations Travel Agencies and Agents Thomas Cook Group PLC Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain Fankhauser, Peter E-Commerce Cook, Thomas Brendon, Piers Bankruptcies

Thomas Cook check-in desks at Gatwick Airport in Sussex, England, on Monday.CreditVickie Flores/EPA, via Shutterstock

But others maintain that the company’s fate was sealed long before the referendum was even put up for a vote. For years, Thomas Cook played a somewhat frantic and fantastically expensive game of catch-up as it tried to pivot into the digital age. In the end, Thomas Cook was groaning under $2.1 billion of debt, according to the company, most of it accumulated in pricey, ill-timed investments made years ago.

The most problematic was a 2007 merger with MyTravel, a major British competitor. The idea was to create a juggernaut, but combining the two companies proved a hugely expensive misstep. By 2010, debt at the newly christened Thomas Cook Group had more than doubled, to the equivalent of $1 billion. As recently as this year, the deal’s aftershocks were still being felt. Most of that £1.5 billion loss announced in May was attributed by the company to the MyTravel merger.

In 2010, Thomas Cook pulled off another deal, this time with the Co-operative Travel, which operated 400 stores located in areas of prime shopping real estate, or what is known in Britain as high streets. Added to Thomas Cook’s 800 shops, the company became the king of brick-and-mortar travel retail just as much of the clientele was headed online.

“The company had a large number of high street locations, and that’s historically where people would book holidays,” said Julie Palmer, a regional managing partner at Begbies Traynor, a corporate restructuring firm. “They’d go in, have a chat, look over some brochures for a couple hours to get some advice. Then they’d come back the next day and book their trip through a travel agent. I can’t remember the last time I booked a holiday like that.”

A cash crunch was underway by 2011, when Thomas Cook asked lenders for an injection worth about $125 million. And in 2012, the folly of the company’s high street strategy was laid bare when the company announced a turnaround plan that included the closing of 200 shops.

All of this would not merely exceed the imagination of Mr. Cook, a one-time cabinet maker and lay Baptist preacher, born in 1808. It would have been contrary to his nature, said his biographer, Mr. Brendon. The origins of his company could hardly have been more humble. It started with a kind of anti-booze cruise.

Mr. Cook considered alcohol a singularly malign force in the Victorian era, and at the age of 32, he organized a group of 500 like-minded citizens to go by train to a temperance meeting 12 miles away.

For the next three summers, Mr. Cook’s efforts were break-even civic acts inspired by a zeal for social reform, not profits. He considered travel the best alternative to the demon drink. By 1845, he started making money, first with a trip to Liverpool, then Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and later beyond the United Kingdom — to the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

At Reus Airport near Tarragona, Spain, Thomas Cook customers lined up for flights.CreditAlbert Gea/Reuters

With railroads transforming travel, his timing was impeccable. The company was soon targeting the wealthiest demographics.

“The company quickly moved upmarket, into the aristocracy, and became known as the travel agents to the British Empire,” Mr. Brendon said. “It was almost like part of the civil service. It was the company that transported all of the most important people to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.”

In 1928, the Cook family sold out to a Belgian company, Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. When Germany occupied Belgium in World War II, the British government nationalized Thomas Cook. Government management was criticized as slow-footed, but the 1950s and ‘60s were boom years for overseas travel.

“There was a huge desire to get away from the gray, from the austerity and rationing of postwar Britain,” said Roger Bray, a writer for Silver Travel Advisor, billed as a website for mature travelers. “People had more money, and they wanted to spend it.”

Thomas Cook went private again in 1972. The business changed radically with the advent of the internet, making a la carte vacations easier to book at home. But packaged holidays — those all-in deals on flights and hotels, which have been the core of Thomas Cook’s business in recent decades — are still popular. The number of United Kingdom travelers who took this kind of holiday stood at 18 million in 2018, up four million from eight years earlier, according to ABTA, an association of travel agents and tour operators.

“If you go back 25, 30 years ago, it’s true that about 90 percent of holidays were packaged tours,” said Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the association. “It’s less than half now, but record numbers of people are taking vacations. So it’s still a strong business.”

The British government is spending £100 million, roughly $125 million, to fly stranded Thomas Cook customers home in what is being called the largest peacetime repatriation in the country’s history. The price tag could go up, but Grant Shapps, the secretary of state for transport, said it was far cheaper than a full bailout of the company.

For those who sank money into Thomas Cook, all that’s left is investor’s remorse.

Neset Kockar, a Turkish businessman, recently took an 8 percent stake in the company, seeking a role in its rescue. After its collapse, he told the website turizmguncel.com, “I didn’t know it was this badly run. You can’t make so many mistakes, one after another.”

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Trump’s Ukraine Explanations Are All Over The Map As House Gears Up For Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 5d8a8aca2300005a006ddd30 Trump’s Ukraine Explanations Are All Over The Map As House Gears Up For Impeachment

According to President Donald Trump, his conversation in July with the new Ukrainian president was about:

  1. Withholding $400 million in U.S. aid;
  2. Not withholding aid, actually;
  3. Ukraine needing to investigate Trump’s leading Democratic opponent;
  4. Ukraine needing to crack down on corruption;
  5. Europe having to pay more;
  6. He can’t say, but it was perfect;
  7. All of the above.

As is frequently the case with Trump, the correct answer is “all of the above,” and all in a span of just 96 hours, which again highlights his credibility problem as the House starts the process of organizing a formal impeachment effort.

Trump said Tuesday on Twitter that he would release “the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” on Wednesday ― but made no mention of the intelligence community inspector general’s report about the incident, a report Trump is keeping secret despite a law that requires its release to Congress.

“We can’t believe his statements, nor should we,” said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman for the National Security Council under former President Barack Obama. “That’s why many of us who otherwise don’t like the precedent of releasing a presidential transcript are encouraging it in this case. Because there’s no other option than documentary evidence. His constant deception is pushing us towards new and dangerous territory.”

Trump himself told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the impeachment push is “just a continuation of the witch hunt,” and claimed it would actually help his reelection. “They say it’s a positive for me,” he said following a meeting with Iraqi President Barham Ahmed Salih at the United Nations in New York.

How Trump and the White House try to explain the Ukraine episode may matter to congressional investigators, but may not matter much to the general public. A recent CNN poll found that only 28 percent of Americans believe all or most of the information coming from the White House.

Trump had appeared to survive the threat of impeachment when Democrats failed to use the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to respond forcefully. That document detailed Trump’s solicitation and acceptance of help from Russia in his 2016 election, and pointed to 10 specific instances where Trump had worked to obstruct that probe.

The new push, though, is based on his attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, who Trump and his allies believe would be his strongest opponent if he were to win the Democratic presidential nomination next year. The overtures to Ukraine began with efforts by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to speak with Ukrainian officials, including a meeting in Madrid.

In July, Trump put a hold on nearly $400 million in aid, including military hardware, to Ukraine. On July 25 he spoke with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, by phone from the White House.

Trump’s subsequent descriptions of what happened during and around that phone call have varied with the date and time of day he has been asked.

  • On Friday, in the Oval Office, Trump refused to say what he’d discussed, but added: “I don’t know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it’s a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party. But I don’t have any idea. But I can say it was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.”
  • On Sunday morning, leaving the White House, Trump told reporters that he had not withheld the aid, but admitted the call concerned Biden: “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption ― all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
  • On Monday afternoon, he said of Zelensky: “He gets elected on the basis of ending corruption in Ukraine. Well, I think that’s good, and that’s what I want to see. But when Biden does a thing like that, then there’s still corruption, and that’s not good.”
  • And on Tuesday, Trump said that he had, in fact, withheld money, but only because other European countries weren’t paying enough: “My complaint has always been, and I’d withhold again and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they’re not doing it.”

The contents of that phone call would likely have remained secret, had it not been for an intelligence community official who filed a complaint under a whistleblower law. The inspector general, a Trump appointee, found the complaint to be both credible and “urgent,” but the White House blocked him from turning it over to relevant committees in Congress, even though the law requires it.

It wasn’t until House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) publicized the failure to turn over that complaint that news reports began emerging about Trump’s apparent attempts to coerce Ukraine into investigating Biden.

“This raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct,” Schiff said on Sept. 13.

The White House, meanwhile, on Tuesday continued arguing that it does not consider the complaint to be covered under the whistleblower statute. Executive branch employees are not permitted to file such complaints based on a president’s conversation, said one White House official on condition of anonymity.

That refusal, though, was cited by a number of previously impeachment-skeptical Democratic House members from districts Trump won as a reason they changed their minds.

“This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand,” seven first-term Democrats wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post late Monday. “If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.”

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Trump, Duda sign agreement to send 1,000 more US troops to Poland

The United States will send 1,000 more troops to Poland, which has agreed to pay the entire expense, in a move that boosts the nations’ defense ties, President Trump has said.

“We’ll be moving soldiers there,” Trump said during his bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Monday. The two later inked the deal.

American service members will “likely” come from other places in Europe where they’re already stationed Trump said. Officials say other details will be discussed in the coming weeks.

Westlake Legal Group Trump-Duda-3 Trump, Duda sign agreement to send 1,000 more US troops to Poland Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/us/military fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc eae8e773-04f3-5145-8dd2-3e2158ea6b3c article

President Donald J. Trump participates in a signing ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

“Poland came to us, they asked us if we would put some troops there and they will bear the entire expense,” Trump said. “We appreciated that and we worked out a deal.”

“They’re going to be building us facilities that I’m sure will be very beautiful,” the president added.

POLISH ‘FORT TRUMP’ AHEAD? US TROOPS SET FOR DEPLOYMENT

The Joint Declaration on Advancing Defense Cooperation builds on the framework discussed in June when the two leaders met in Washington, D.C

“We continue to develop the plan to bolster Polish–United States military ties and United States defense and deterrence capabilities in Poland. … As noted, this enduring presence is expected to grow by approximately 1,000 additional United States military personnel in the near term,” according to the document.

Westlake Legal Group Trump-Duda-1 Trump, Duda sign agreement to send 1,000 more US troops to Poland Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/us/military fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc eae8e773-04f3-5145-8dd2-3e2158ea6b3c article

President Trump participates in a signing ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda Monday in New York City. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

The two countries have determined six locations where the U.S. troops will be stationed.

“Additionally, Poland and the United States have engaged in extensive dialogue about the most suitable location in Poland for an armored brigade combat team,” the agreement states. “These discussions are ongoing and reflect the close operational and strategic cooperation of Poland and the United States.”

The nations remain “optimistic about identifying the location for the armored brigade combat team,” according to the document.

The agreement ultimately “stream[lines] the functioning of the United States forces in Poland” and strengthens the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it states.

Poland has said in the past that it would pay for a U.S. military facility in its country, unofficially dubbed “Fort Trump.”

“The people of Poland love the United States. We love the people of Poland. We love the Polish people,” Trump said Monday, noting that Poland has been a “great country” as far as the United States is concerned.

Westlake Legal Group Trump-Duda-4 Trump, Duda sign agreement to send 1,000 more US troops to Poland Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/us/military fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc eae8e773-04f3-5145-8dd2-3e2158ea6b3c article

Trump participates in a signing ceremony with Polish President Andrzej Duda Monday. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

There are already about U.S. 4,500 troops stationed in Poland. Trump over the summer said the U.S. would send an additional 1,000 troops there but at the time stopped short of committing to a military facility.

Poland has in the past offered to pay up to $2 billion to build a base or multiple bases for U.S. troops.

7-MONTH-OLD INFANT HEADS TO RUSSIA TO HAVE ‘BATMAN’ MASK MARKINGS TREATED

When visiting the U.S. in June, Duda expressed concerns about neighboring Russia. Poland shares a small northeast border with a Russian territory.

“We would like Russia to be our friend, but unfortunately, Russia again is showing its very unkind, unpleasant imperial face,” Duda said while visiting the White House and discussing the countries’ military deal at the time.

Trump said the thinks Russia and Poland can have a “great relationship.”

“I think it’s possible. I really do,” Trump said at the time. “I think because of what you’ve done, and the strength, and maybe we help also, because of what we’re doing and doing for Poland.”

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Fox News’ Fred Lucas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Trump-Duda-2 Trump, Duda sign agreement to send 1,000 more US troops to Poland Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/us/military fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc eae8e773-04f3-5145-8dd2-3e2158ea6b3c article   Westlake Legal Group Trump-Duda-2 Trump, Duda sign agreement to send 1,000 more US troops to Poland Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/us/military fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/us fnc eae8e773-04f3-5145-8dd2-3e2158ea6b3c article

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Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, saying that he had betrayed his oath of office and the nation’s security in seeking to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said after emerging from a meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. Mr. Trump, she said, “must be held accountable — no one is above the law.”

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Nancy Pelosi’s Statement on Impeachment: ‘The President Must Be Held Accountable’

Sept. 24, 2019

The announcement was a stunning development that unfolded after months of caution by House Democrats, who have been divided over using the ultimate remedy to address what they have called flagrant misconduct by the president. It ushered in the beginning of a remarkable new chapter in American political life, with the potential to cleave an already divided nation, reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and the country’s politics, and create heavy risks both for him and for the Democrats who have decided to weigh his removal. And it could result in Mr. Trump becoming only the third president in modern history to be impeached, after Bill Clinton and Richard M. Nixon, who resigned in the middle of the process.

In this case, with an avalanche of Democrats — including many who had resisted the move — now demanding it, Ms. Pelosi said that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, have left the House no alternative outside of impeachment.

At issue are allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation, practically daring Democrats to try to find an impeachable offense in a conversation that he has called “perfect.” But Democrats, after months of holding back, demanded the full whistle-blower complaint, even as they pushed toward an expansive impeachment inquiry that could encompass unrelated charges.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Ms. Pelosi said.

The president, in New York for several days of international diplomacy at the United Nations, issued a defiant response on Twitter, in a series of fuming posts that culminated with a simple phrase: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”

“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage,” Mr. Trump wrote. “So bad for our Country!

Ms. Pelosi said she had directed the chairmen of the six committees that have been investigating Mr. Trump to “proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” In a closed-door meeting earlier in the day, she said the panels would put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. That could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

The decision to begin a formal impeachment inquiry does not necessarily mean that the House will ultimately vote to charge Mr. Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors — much less that the Republican-controlled Senate will vote to remove him. But Ms. Pelosi and her leadership would not initiate the process unless they were prepared to reach that outcome.

Ms. Pelosi met privately on Tuesday with the leaders of the six key committees involved in investigations of Mr. Trump, and later huddled with the full Democratic caucus. Her announcement came amid a groundswell in favor of impeachment among Democrats that has intensified since late last week, with lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lining up in favor of using the House’s unique power to charge Mr. Trump if the allegations are proved true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

Westlake Legal Group trump-impeachment-congress-promo-1559334647091-articleLarge-v38 Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Complete List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump?

More than two-thirds of House Democrats and one Independent have said they now support impeachment proceedings.

The House Judiciary Committee has been conducting its own impeachment investigation focused on the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as well as allegations that Mr. Trump may be illegally profiting from spending by state and foreign governments and other matters. But that inquiry has never gotten the imprimatur of a full House vote or the full rhetorical backing of the speaker, as Democrats remained divided about the wisdom and political implications of impeaching a president without broader public support.

Now, after the revelation of a conversations between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressed the foreign leader to investigate the Bidens, a cascading flood of Democrats has come out in favor of a formal impeachment proceeding.

The shift in outlook among Democratic lawmakers has been rapid, and could yet still turn away from impeachment if exculpatory evidence comes to light. The developments that have turned the tide began less that two weeks ago, when Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman, first revealed the existence of a secret whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s internal watchdog had deemed “urgent” and credible but that the Trump administration had refused to share with Congress.

Democrats have given Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, until Thursday to turn over the whistle-blower complaint or risk reprisal. And they have threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for a copy of the transcript of the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky and other relevant documents after Thursday if they are not shared voluntarily.

There were also indications the whistle-blower might not wait around for the complaint to be disclosed. Democrats said on Tuesday that a lawyer for the whistle-blower had informed the committee his client wanted to speak with the House and Senate intelligence panels, and had requested directions from the office of the director of national intelligence on how to do so.

Though it has attracted much less fanfare, the Senate Intelligence Committee intends to meet privately with the inspector general and Mr. Maguire this week to discuss the whistle-blower complaint.

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Sept. 24, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161403960_efcade53-f827-491c-8796-331478f8a517-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr
The Impeachment Process, Explained

Sept. 24, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-explainer1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v3 Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr
Trump, Biden and a Whistle-Blower Complaint: Here Are the Basics

Sept. 21, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-whistleblowerqa-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

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Daniel Hoffman: Ukraine and Trump — The essential thing we can’t lose sight of in the midst of the politics

Westlake Legal Group Trump-Ohio Daniel Hoffman: Ukraine and Trump -- The essential thing we can't lose sight of in the midst of the politics fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Daniel Hoffman article 1b498167-afab-553b-a5da-de4fd8c650b6

At this year’s U.N. General Assembly, President Trump plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine has been thrust prominently into the news during the past few days, following revelations about Trump’s July 25 telephone conversation with Zelensky, which focused on corruption and allegedly included references to Vice President Biden and his son Hunter.

While the Biden saga has now turned into an even bigger story the overarching foreign policy issue hanging in the balance is whether Zelensky can successfully reduce the endemic corruption, which calls into question Ukraine’s reliability as a trading partner and ally.

The recent election of Zelensky should be a source of optimism for the people of Ukraine and political leaders in the West. Both in his campaign and since taking office, President Zelensky has been clear that he will champion much-needed reforms within Ukraine. He has called for abolishing parliamentary immunity, ending the moratorium on private land sales and halting corporate raids by state law enforcement.

TRUMP’S UKRAINE CONTROVERSY CAST SPOTLIGHT ON HUNTER BIDEN’S BUSINESS DEALINGS

These serious initiatives demonstrate that an election result, which many viewed as a punch line (because Zelensky was a comedian before he won the presidency) is really no joke.

Ukraine is already seeing increased economic growth and future projections are also relatively upbeat. Meanwhile, Zelensky’s westward leaning government is giving member nations of NATO a cautious but legitimate sense of optimism. As a result, the International Monetary Fund is developing a new financial aid package to assist Ukraine.

Zelensky’s party dominated recent parliamentary elections, but the outlook for continued progress must be tempered.  A very real obstacle potentially stands in the way of success: Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Valeriyovych Kolomoysky.

A wealthy former politician, Kolomoysky may not be a household name outside Ukraine. But he is infamous in Ukraine for having owned – and then lost to nationalization – the country’s largest bank, Privatbank. The lending institution was taken over at the instance of the Central Bank because of billions of dollars in unaccounted-for loans.  The U.S. attorney’s office in the northern district of  Ohio, along with the FBI are investigating Kolomoisky. Kolomoysky, who owns the 1+1 television channel on which Mr. Zelensky starred in his TV sitcom Servant of the People, has been exercising some influence on the staffing of the new Zelensky administration.

Kolomoysky has been accused of:

  • Effectively bankrupting PrivatBank, formerly Ukraine’s top bank, which was nationalized in 2016, something he is hoping to reverse with the help of a proposed $2 billion payment.
  • Persistently corrupt practices, including accusations by the previous government of embezzlementfraud, money laundering, extralegal practices and self-dealing.

In Ukraine, some of Kolomoysk’s associates have been inserted into prominent positions of power in government. This starts near the top with the hiring of Andriy Bohdan, Kolomoysky’s former lawyer, as chief of staff to President Zelensky. Critics have growing concerns that Kolomoysky will continue to bend policy to his favor by placing additional personnel in key positions. Kolomoysky allies hold key anti-corruption positions in government.

The Zelensky presidency has gotten off to a better start than many had anticipated. After all, he comes from a very non-traditional background that includes starring as a fictional president of Ukraine on TV. He would have been given the benefit of the doubt if he had stumbled soon after taking office, but he did not. Instead, his lack of political experience appears to be liberating him.

Perhaps the most iconic photo of President Zelensky shows him holding his two thumbs up in the air. It’s an image that presents optimism for the brighter future Ukraine dearly needs.  Mr. Zelensky appears to be standing firm against additional Russian interventionism, which U.S. and western allies support.

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But questions remain on the corruption front. In particular, accusations surrounding Kolomoysky – and accusations that Mr. Zelensky is a “puppet” of his oligarch associate and supporter – are inviting scrutiny and skepticism that could impede economic and political progress. Mr. Zelensky should consider the value of reassuring his voters and the world community about his political independence and dedication to economic reform.

Russia weaponizes corruption, using it as a means to gain influence over other countries. For Zelensky corruption is a national security issue of the highest priority.

Make no mistake, Kolomoysky and other Ukrainian oligarchs should have the opportunity freely and fairly within the bounds of Ukrainian law to pursue their business interests.

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Focused on getting the best return on our investment including the recent tranche of aid the U.S. approved, President Trump will surely be making his own assessment of whether Zelensky is truly committed to rooting out corruption.

Here’s hoping, amidst all the partisan scrum over the Biden story, that we will still keep our attention on holding Zelensky accountable for delivering the anti-corruption platform he promised during his campaign, and his country deserves.

CLICK HERE READ MORE FROM DANIEL HOFFMAN

Westlake Legal Group Trump-Ohio Daniel Hoffman: Ukraine and Trump -- The essential thing we can't lose sight of in the midst of the politics fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Daniel Hoffman article 1b498167-afab-553b-a5da-de4fd8c650b6   Westlake Legal Group Trump-Ohio Daniel Hoffman: Ukraine and Trump -- The essential thing we can't lose sight of in the midst of the politics fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Daniel Hoffman article 1b498167-afab-553b-a5da-de4fd8c650b6

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Arctic sea ice minimum tied for second-lowest on record

The amount of Arctic sea ice has reached its annual minimum — a mere 1.6 million square miles.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), this year’s extent is the second-lowest on record, tied with minimums reached in 2007 and 2016.

Since satellite records have been kept beginning in the late 1970s, NSIDC reports that the 13 smallest sea ice minimums have all occurred in the last 13 years. The lowest amount on record came in 2012, sea ice dropped to 1.37 million square miles.

The sea ice minimum area has declined 12.8 percent per decade over the past 40 years, which scientists believe is partially a result of climate change.

TITANIC SECRET CONTAINED IN NORTHERN IRELAND HOUSE

Westlake Legal Group getty-images-sea-ice Arctic sea ice minimum tied for second-lowest on record fox-news/science/planet-earth/oceans fox-news/science/planet-earth/climate fox news fnc/science fnc Christopher Carbone article 04ea1f3e-174a-523b-b720-0bb5bd89c15d

Ilulissat Icefjord at Disko Bay off the west coast of Greenland. (Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

CATS ACTUALLY DO BOND WITH HUMANS, STUDY FINDS

A study published last month claimed that sea ice in the Arctic could completely disappear each summer through September if average global temperatures increase by as little as two degrees Celsius.

“Ice recedes from June to September and then in September, it begins to grow again in a seasonal cycle. And we’re saying we could have no ice in September,” Chang said in a statement.

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Scientists have said carbon pollution is warming the Arctic at a faster rate than the rest of the world, thereby contributing to melting sea ice.

Skeptics have largely dismissed fears of man’s impact on global temperatures and claimed climate change has been going on since the beginning of time. They also claim the dangers of a warming planet are being wildly exaggerated and question the impact that fossil fuels have had on climate change.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.

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Calling Trump a ‘corrupt human tornado,’ Hillary Clinton backs impeachment

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Calling Trump a 'corrupt human tornado,' Hillary Clinton backs impeachment

President Donald Trump is defending his decision to withhold $250 million in aid to Ukraine at the same time he was asking the country’s leader to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden. (Sept. 24) AP, AP

WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, said in an interview exerpt released Tuesday that she is “favor of moving toward impeachment” and that “we are in a crisis.”

“I did not come to that decision easily or quickly, but this is an emergency as I see it,” Clinton told PEOPLE. “This latest behavior around Ukraine, trying to enlist the president of Ukraine in a plot to undermine former Vice President Biden or lose the military aid he needs to defend against Trump’s friend, Vladimir Putin — if that’s not an impeachable offense, I don’t know what is.”

The former first lady called Trump a “corrupt human tornado,” continuing that “the president of the United States is betraying our country on a daily basis.” 

“This man who is in the Oval Office right now is a clear and present danger to the future of the United States,” she added.

The interview was published minutes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son’s business dealings in the Eastern European country. 

“The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law,” said Pelosi, who accused Trump of betraying his oath of office and endangering national security. 

Additionally, Clinton’s comments for impeachment came after a flood of Democrats, some of whom had previously held out against impeachment, joined the effort.

Trump tweeted after Pelosi’s announcement that the inquiry was “presidential harassment” and a “total witch hunt.”  

Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have pushed claims for months that Biden as vice president sought the ouster in 2016 of Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general Viktor Shokin to stop an investigation into Burisma Group, a Ukrainian energy company where his son Hunter served on the board of directors.

The push by the vice president came alongside calls for Ukraine to get rid of Shokin from European diplomats and the U.S. State Department because international leaders said Shokin did too little to fight corruption in the Eastern European country. 

The Ukrainian Parliament voted Shokin out. Ukrainian officials have found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son. 

Contributing: Bart Jansen and Christal Hayes

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