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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 378)

Maher panics, says Nikki Haley has gone ‘full-on Team Deplorable’: ‘This is so scary to me’

Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-HBO Maher panics, says Nikki Haley has gone 'full-on Team Deplorable': 'This is so scary to me' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/politics-on-late-night fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 36c70905-1600-53bd-a64a-610a344f796b

“Real Time” host Bill Maher sounded the alarm Friday night in reaction to former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s repeated defense of President Trump during the launch of her book tour.

“I thought she was one of the more reasonable ones,” Maher began, referring to Haley, author of the newly released, “With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace.”

“She kind of acquitted herself at her job at the U.N.,” Maher added. “She went full-on Team Deplorable this week.”

Maher then played clips of Haley’s recent interviews, in which the Republican former South Carolina governor claimed that Trump had always been “truthful” to her and defended her former boss amid the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

MAHER ASKS IF COUNTRY WILL HAVE ‘INVESTIGATION FATIGUE’ AFTER FIRST WEEK OF IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS

“Show me the proof,” Haley has said, challenging Democrats and other critics to produce evidence that Trump did something wrong in his interactions with Ukraine.

“This is the scariest thing this week,” Maher said, “because this is somebody who is betting that there is no more Republican-Classic Party, there is only Trump, and she thinks, ‘Well, after he’s gone, I’ll be able to rejoin polite society. But when you do this, you’re destroying polite society. This is so scary to me.”

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Maher went on to predict that the 2024 GOP nominee will be Donald Trump Jr., which sparked laughter from the audience.

“Yeah, they laughed when I said Trump would win too,” Maher told the panel in complete seriousness. “Because that’s what Third World dictators do.”

Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-HBO Maher panics, says Nikki Haley has gone 'full-on Team Deplorable': 'This is so scary to me' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/politics-on-late-night fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 36c70905-1600-53bd-a64a-610a344f796b   Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-HBO Maher panics, says Nikki Haley has gone 'full-on Team Deplorable': 'This is so scary to me' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/elections/republicans fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/politics-on-late-night fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 36c70905-1600-53bd-a64a-610a344f796b

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Mark Levin blasts ‘absurd’ media analysis of impeachment hearings: ‘It’s disgraceful … They sound like the Russian media’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6104778475001_6104780079001-vs Mark Levin blasts 'absurd' media analysis of impeachment hearings: 'It's disgraceful ... They sound like the Russian media' Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/life-liberty-levin fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 667a4da4-6465-5318-a8e0-9a2387e1056a

Life, Liberty & Levin” host Mark Levin took aim at House Democrats and the media Friday in response to the televised impeachment inquiry testimony by former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanavich.

“I hope the American people know what you’re witnessing is tyranny,” Levin said on “Hannity.” You can have tyranny of the legislature. You can have tyranny of the executive branch. You can have tyranny of the judiciary. You’re witnessing tyranny in the House of Representatives, in the Intelligence Committee, that doesn’t do intelligence work anymore.”

Levin compared the American media to Russian media and accused them of being unfair to President Trump.

TRUMP ATTACKS MARIE YOVANOVITCH DURING IMPEACHMENT HEARING, SAYS EVERYWHERE SHE WENT ‘TURNED BAD’

“I mean … to listen to the media analysis of what’s taking place in these hearings is absurd. It’s disgraceful,” Levin said. “They talk about Russia. They sound like the Russian media.”

“I mean … to listen to the media analysis of what’s taking place in these hearings is absurd. It’s disgraceful. … They sound like the Russian media.”

— Mark Levin

The host defended the president’s tweet during the hearing saying it’s the only way to combat the press, which is targeting him.

Yovanovitch delivered a dramatic personal account Friday of her ouster as America’s Ukraine ambassador amid a campaign against her by Trump associates, but the testimony was largely overshadowed by a snowballing fight over a presidential tweet that attacked her record.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” Trump tweeted Friday. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

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“So the president’s never going to get a break from the media. So he tweets,” Levin said. “President’s not allowed to tweet to defend himself. Well, then he can’t defend himself.”

“You name one newsroom in this country … that’s calling it straight here,” Levin added, “None of them.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6104778475001_6104780079001-vs Mark Levin blasts 'absurd' media analysis of impeachment hearings: 'It's disgraceful ... They sound like the Russian media' Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/life-liberty-levin fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 667a4da4-6465-5318-a8e0-9a2387e1056a   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6104778475001_6104780079001-vs Mark Levin blasts 'absurd' media analysis of impeachment hearings: 'It's disgraceful ... They sound like the Russian media' Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/life-liberty-levin fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 667a4da4-6465-5318-a8e0-9a2387e1056a

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Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mason Rudolph declines to file criminal charges against Cleveland Browns’ Myles Garrett

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph said Friday he will not press criminal charges against Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, deferring to the National Football League all decisions regarding disciplinary action against the player who struck him in the head with his own helmet during Thursday night’s game.

“#Steelers QB Mason Rudolph won’t take legal action against #Browns DE Myles Garrett after last night’s melee, source said. Rudolph considers the situation to be exclusively an NFL matter,” Ian Rapoport, an NFL insider and host of “RapSheet,” wrote on Twitter.

CLEVELAND BROWNS’ MYLES GARRETT SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY AFTER BRAWL WITH STEELERS, TEAMS FINED $250G EACH

Rudolph, 24 — who became the Steelers’ starting quarterback earlier this season after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury — said he was feeling OK after the hit with the helmet and was “good to go” for Pittsburgh’s next game, Nov. 24 at Cincinnnati, ESPN reported.  But he had strong words regarding Garrett’s action.

“I thought it was cowardly and bush league,” Rudolph said. “There is plenty of tape out there to watch. I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t know what the rules are. I know it was bush league and a total coward move on his part. It’s OK, I’ll take it. I’m not going to back down from any bully out there. We will see what happens.”

The blow to the head was a particular concern because Rudolph had been briefly hospitalized in October after taking a blow to his head during a game against the Baltimore Ravens. The third-quarter hit knocked Rudolph out cold and left some of his Steelers teammates emotional as he lay motionless on the field.

In Thursday’s game, Rudolph had just completed a short pass to running back Trey Edmunds when he was tackled by Garrett. While on the ground, Rudolph appeared to try and grasp Garrett’s helmet. The two then got into a scuffle which ended with Garrett removing Rudolph’s helmet and hitting him with it.

Garrett, 23, was suspended indefinitely at a minimum for the remainder of the regular season and postseason, the NFL said in a statement Friday, for his role in the ugly brawl with the Steelers, in a game that Cleveland won 21-7.

He must also meet with the commissioner’s office prior to a decision on his reinstatement, the NFL said. He was fined an undisclosed amount. The league also fined the Browns and the Steelers $250,000 each over the incident. Garrett also apologized to “Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL” in a statement Friday.

Westlake Legal Group d0b09b21-MNF-cropped-1204am Pittsburgh Steelers' Mason Rudolph declines to file criminal charges against Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett fox-news/sports/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers fox-news/sports/nfl/cleveland-browns fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/ben-roethlisberger fox news fnc/sports fnc Danielle Wallace d07c11a9-7cce-5ea2-9f31-db02ea1876b7 article

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) hits Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) with a helmet during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (Associated Press)

Garrett’s teammate Larry Ogunjobi and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey were also suspended and fined. Ogunbjobi received a one-game ban without pay and an undisclosed fine for shoving Rudolph during the out-of-control melee. Pouncey received a three-game suspension and was fined an undisclosed amount for “fighting, including punching and kicking an opponent.”

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Pouncey then entered the skirmish and punched and kicked Garrett in the helmet. Garrett, Ogunjobi and Pouncey were all ejected.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group d0b09b21-MNF-cropped-1204am Pittsburgh Steelers' Mason Rudolph declines to file criminal charges against Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett fox-news/sports/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers fox-news/sports/nfl/cleveland-browns fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/ben-roethlisberger fox news fnc/sports fnc Danielle Wallace d07c11a9-7cce-5ea2-9f31-db02ea1876b7 article   Westlake Legal Group d0b09b21-MNF-cropped-1204am Pittsburgh Steelers' Mason Rudolph declines to file criminal charges against Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett fox-news/sports/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers fox-news/sports/nfl/cleveland-browns fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/ben-roethlisberger fox news fnc/sports fnc Danielle Wallace d07c11a9-7cce-5ea2-9f31-db02ea1876b7 article

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Bill Maher says Trump impeachment hearings could give voters ‘investigation fatigue’

Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-season-17-4-HBO Bill Maher says Trump impeachment hearings could give voters 'investigation fatigue' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/politics-on-late-night fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a8d692e3-6569-573a-b717-934c71636319

“Real Time” host Bill Maher wondered Friday night whether this week’s televised Trump impeachment hearings could cause “investigation fatigue” to set in among the public.

The House of Representatives held two open-door hearings into President Trump‘s conduct with Ukraine, with U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent testifying Wednesday and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifying Friday.

Maher kicked off the panel discussion on Friday’s show by suggesting there was a lack of interest in the latest impeachment developments.

MAHER WARNS DEMS PURSING IMPEACHMENT: THE COUNTRY WILL BE ‘PARALYZED FOR A LONG TIME’

“So 81 percent of the people in America have made up their minds about impeachment, 13 million watched, so we’re not doing this for a helluva lot of people,” Maher said. “And I think a lot of the people who are watching think this is the impeachment trial, you know? And I worry that, OK, we went through this once when the transcripts came out, when we first heard the story, those of us who were following it. Now we’re going through it again with [the] impeachment inquiry, then we’ll go through it again with the trial.

“It’s three times with the same people, the same story. Do you worry that maybe we’re going to match Trump fatigue with investigation fatigue?”

This isn’t the first time the liberal host suggested that the pursuit of impeachment could backfire on Democrats. Earlier this month, Maher warned Democrats that impeaching Trump was a “loser” issue in swing states, according to polls.

“Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona — those are the states that’s going to decide this election,” Maher said. “Impeachment? Fifty-three percent oppose in those states. It’s a loser where this election is going to be decided.”

But he added: “I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it.”

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Back in September, Maher predicted the impeachment process would “paralyze” the country “for a long time.”

“If we do this, the country is going to be paralyzed,” Maher said at the time. “I’m not saying don’t. … It’s going to be paralyzed for a very long time and all of the oxygen in the room will be taken by this.”

Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-season-17-4-HBO Bill Maher says Trump impeachment hearings could give voters 'investigation fatigue' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/politics-on-late-night fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a8d692e3-6569-573a-b717-934c71636319   Westlake Legal Group bill-maher-season-17-4-HBO Bill Maher says Trump impeachment hearings could give voters 'investigation fatigue' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/entertainment/politics-on-late-night fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a8d692e3-6569-573a-b717-934c71636319

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Jim Jordan asks why Adam Schiff hasn’t released transcripts of 4 closed-door depositions

Westlake Legal Group AP19319739840267 Jim Jordan asks why Adam Schiff hasn't released transcripts of 4 closed-door depositions fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/jim-jordan fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 6da5edf0-34d5-5e70-a147-351661961bb8

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, expressed frustration Friday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has not yet released the transcripts of depositions from four witnesses who gave testimony behind closed doors in the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

“The chairman has promised that we’d get to see the transcript,” Jordan said during Friday’s televised impeachment hearing, “but there are still four people that we have not been able to see their transcripts.

“Therefore, the testimony they provided, we’re not able to use in these open hearings,” Jordan added. “If it’s an open hearing, all the available testimony of depositions that has been taken by the committee should be available to be discussed, for the American people to see.”

JORDAN CONTINUES CALLS FOR UKRAINE WHISTLEBLOWER TO TESTIFY: SCHIFF ‘WASN’T SQUARE WITH US’

“If it’s an open hearing, all the available testimony … should be available to be discussed, for the American people to see.”

— U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio

Jordan was referring to the closed-door testimony given by Tim Morrison, the National Security Council’s outgoing senior director of European and Russian affairs and White House deputy assistant; Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia; David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs; and Philip Reeker, a top State Department diplomat in charge of U.S. policy for Europe.

Both Morrison and Williams were on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s Biden’s conduct regarding Ukrainian oil company Burisma.

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Schiff’s team has said they will release those transcripts “shortly,” without providing a specific date, according to Axios.

Morrison, Hale and Williams are all scheduled to publicly testify next week.

Westlake Legal Group AP19319739840267 Jim Jordan asks why Adam Schiff hasn't released transcripts of 4 closed-door depositions fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/jim-jordan fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 6da5edf0-34d5-5e70-a147-351661961bb8   Westlake Legal Group AP19319739840267 Jim Jordan asks why Adam Schiff hasn't released transcripts of 4 closed-door depositions fox-news/world/conflicts/ukraine fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/jim-jordan fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 6da5edf0-34d5-5e70-a147-351661961bb8

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Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-holmes-facebookJumbo Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Republican Party KIEV, Ukraine impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Holmes, David (Diplomat) Foreign Service (US) Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — An official from the United States Embassy in Kiev confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he had overheard a call between President Trump and a top American diplomat in July in which the president asked whether Ukraine was going to move forward with an investigation he wanted.

The official, David Holmes, testified privately that he was at a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when he overheard Mr. Trump on a cellphone call loudly asking Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals. Mr. Sondland, who had just come from a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and the country’s president, replied in the affirmative.

“So, he’s going to do the investigation?” Mr. Trump asked, according to a copy of Mr. Holmes’s opening statement posted by CNN and confirmed by The New York Times.

Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and political donor turned ambassador, told Mr. Trump that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine “loves your ass,” and would conduct the investigation and do “anything you ask him to,” according to Mr. Holmes’s statement.

After the call ended, Mr. Holmes asked if it was true that the president did not care about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland, he testified, agreed. According to Mr. Holmes’s account, the ambassador said Mr. Trump cared only about the “big stuff.” Mr. Holmes noted Ukraine had “big stuff” going on, like a war with Russia.

But Mr. Sondland had something else in mind. He told Mr. Holmes he meant “‘big stuff’ that benefits the president,” like the “Biden investigation” that his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was pushing for, because it affected him personally.

The account could prove significant as Democrats continue to build an impeachment case against Mr. Trump. It illustrates how preoccupied he was with persuading Ukraine’s president to go along with his demand that the country commit publicly to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading political rival, and how he actively used his power and the instruments of American foreign policy to see that it happened.

It adds significant new detail to a conversation that was first revealed on Wednesday during public testimony by Mr. Holmes’s boss, William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in Ukraine. Mr. Taylor said then that he had only recently learned of the episode from Mr. Holmes. And it raised the possibility that Mr. Holmes could be called to testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry and presented Democrats with new leads to track down even as they conduct a string of high-profile public hearings with other witnesses.

Mr. Holmes, a career Foreign Service officer who is the political counselor in the American Embassy in Kiev, said he had been following the impeachment inquiry from afar in recent weeks and came to understand only belatedly that he had pertinent information to share. He testified under subpoena by the House Intelligence Committee after the State Department directed him not to appear, according to an official working on the inquiry.

“I came to realize I had firsthand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported, and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the president did, in fact, have knowledge that those officials were using the levers of our diplomatic power to induce the new Ukrainian president to announce the opening of a particular criminal investigation,” he testified.

Mr. Holmes’s account of the relationship between the two countries in his opening statement was broader, though, and closely resembles that offered by other top officials who have offered public and private testimony to the House.

He described how Mr. Sondland and two other American officials — Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Kurt D. Volker, the United States special envoy to Ukraine — styled themselves as the “Three Amigos” and took charge of Ukraine policy within the administration. On the outside, Mr. Giuliani exercised significant influence over what they did.

“Beginning in March 2019, the situation in the embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically,” Mr. Holmes said, according to his statement. “Specifically, our diplomatic policy that had been focused on supporting Ukrainian democratic reform and resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda being promoted by Rudy Giuliani and a cadre of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House.”

The conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland took place on July 26, one day after Mr. Trump personally pressed Mr. Zelensky in a now-famous phone call to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as unproven allegations that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump specifically wanted an investigation into unsubstantiated corruption allegations related to Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma Holdings.

Mr. Sondland did not mention the episode to investigators last month when he answered their questions in private. He will almost certainly be asked about it next week when he appears for public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

He has already revised his initial testimony once, admitting to the panel last week that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country would probably not receive a package of nearly $400 million in security assistance Mr. Trump froze in July unless it committed publicly to the investigations Mr. Trump sought. And Republicans have argued that he may be overstating his access to and influence with the president.

On Thursday, two people familiar with the matter said that a second embassy official, Suriya Jayanti, also overheard the call and could corroborate Mr. Holmes’s account. It is unclear if investigators will also call her to testify. On Friday, Mr. Holmes indicated there was a third person present who would have overheard it, as well.

Mr. Holmes told investigators that he did not take notes during the conversation, but said he immediately told other embassy officials about it.

The conversation took place not long after Mr. Sondland had met directly with Mr. Zelensky and other officials. Mr. Holmes’s account gave hints that Mr. Trump’s request may have been on Mr. Zelensky’s mind, but it does not indicate what, if anything, he or his aides may have communicated to Mr. Sondland. In the meeting, Mr. Holmes recalled, Mr. Zelensky said that Mr. Trump had raised “some very sensitive issues” “three times” on the call — issues the Ukrainian leader noted they would have to follow up on in person.

Mr. Holmes described sitting on the terrace of a Kiev restaurant a little while later during lunch with Mr. Sondland, sharing a bottle of wine, when Mr. Sondland called Mr. Trump. The president was speaking so loudly, he said, that Mr. Sondland held the phone away from his ear and Mr. Holmes and others could hear Mr. Trump’s voice.

In addition to discussing the investigations, Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland discussed ASAP Rocky, an American rapper imprisoned in Sweden at the time on charges of assault. Mr. Sondland told the president the rapper “should have pled guilty,” according to Mr. Holmes’s written statement.

Mr. Sondland then advised Mr. Trump that he should “let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker-tape when he comes home,” Mr. Holmes testified. The ambassador added that Sweden “should have released him on your word,” and added, referring to an American reality show celebrity family pressing for Mr. Trump’s help in the case, “you can tell the Kardashians you tried.”

Mr. Sondland noted after the call that the president was in a “bad mood.”

Mr. Holmes’s account included other potentially significant details new to investigators about Trump administration officials using a White House meeting and the frozen military assistance as leverage for what Mr. Trump wanted. He testified that Mr. Taylor told him at the time about a June 28 call with him, the “Three Amigos” and Mr. Zelensky in which “it was made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting.”

Mr. Taylor described the same call in his testimony, saying that Mr. Sondland had said he “wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring” the call. But Mr. Taylor did not say that investigations or preconditions had been discussed.

“It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical to President Zelensky,” Mr. Holmes said. “He needed to demonstrate U.S. support at the highest levels both to advance his ambitious anti-corruption agenda at home and to encourage Russian President Putin to take seriously President Zelensky’s peace efforts.”

By late summer, Mr. Holmes testified, he had a “clear impression” that a hold on the military aid was also “likely intended by the president either to express dissatisfaction that the Ukrainians had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigations or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so.”

Mr. Holmes also described frustrations among American officials.

At one point, he said, Mr. Sondland vented: “Dammit, Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f—s everything up.”

He said that John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, openly discussed strategies for marginalizing Mr. Giuliani on a trip to Kiev during the summer. Mr. Holmes testified that he also complained about Mr. Sondland’s “expansive interpretation of his mandate.” And he recalled Mr. Bolton saying that a hold on the security assistance would be lifted only if Mr. Zelensky could “favorably impress” during a face-to-face meeting scheduled for early September. The meeting never happened.

Other witnesses have described similar concerns by Mr. Bolton, and investigators would like to speak with him, but he has declined to appear given White House orders not to.

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Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-holmes-facebookJumbo Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Republican Party KIEV, Ukraine impeachment House Committee on Intelligence Holmes, David (Diplomat) Foreign Service (US) Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — An official from the United States Embassy in Kiev confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he had overheard a call between President Trump and a top American diplomat in July in which the president asked whether Ukraine was going to move forward with an investigation he wanted.

The official, David Holmes, testified privately that he was at a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when he overheard Mr. Trump on a cellphone call loudly asking Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals. Mr. Sondland, who had just come from a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and the country’s president, replied in the affirmative.

“So, he’s going to do the investigation?” Mr. Trump asked, according to a copy of Mr. Holmes’s opening statement posted by CNN and confirmed by The New York Times.

Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and political donor turned ambassador, told Mr. Trump that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine “loves your ass,” and would conduct the investigation and do “anything you ask him to,” according to Mr. Holmes’s statement.

After the call ended, Mr. Holmes asked if it was true that the president did not care about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland, he testified, agreed. According to Mr. Holmes’s account, the ambassador said Mr. Trump cared only about the “big stuff.” Mr. Holmes noted Ukraine had “big stuff” going on, like a war with Russia.

But Mr. Sondland had something else in mind. He told Mr. Holmes he meant “‘big stuff’ that benefits the president,” like the “Biden investigation” that his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was pushing for, because it affected him personally.

The account could prove significant as Democrats continue to build an impeachment case against Mr. Trump. It illustrates how preoccupied he was with persuading Ukraine’s president to go along with his demand that the country commit publicly to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading political rival, and how he actively used his power and the instruments of American foreign policy to see that it happened.

It adds significant new detail to a conversation that was first revealed on Wednesday during public testimony by Mr. Holmes’s boss, William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in Ukraine. Mr. Taylor said then that he had only recently learned of the episode from Mr. Holmes. And it raised the possibility that Mr. Holmes could be called to testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry and presented Democrats with new leads to track down even as they conduct a string of high-profile public hearings with other witnesses.

Mr. Holmes, a career Foreign Service officer who is the political counselor in the American Embassy in Kiev, said he had been following the impeachment inquiry from afar in recent weeks and came to understand only belatedly that he had pertinent information to share. He testified under subpoena by the House Intelligence Committee after the State Department directed him not to appear, according to an official working on the inquiry.

“I came to realize I had firsthand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported, and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the president did, in fact, have knowledge that those officials were using the levers of our diplomatic power to induce the new Ukrainian president to announce the opening of a particular criminal investigation,” he testified.

Mr. Holmes’s account of the relationship between the two countries in his opening statement was broader, though, and closely resembles that offered by other top officials who have offered public and private testimony to the House.

He described how Mr. Sondland and two other American officials — Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Kurt D. Volker, the United States special envoy to Ukraine — styled themselves as the “Three Amigos” and took charge of Ukraine policy within the administration. On the outside, Mr. Giuliani exercised significant influence over what they did.

“Beginning in March 2019, the situation in the embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically,” Mr. Holmes said, according to his statement. “Specifically, our diplomatic policy that had been focused on supporting Ukrainian democratic reform and resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda being promoted by Rudy Giuliani and a cadre of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House.”

The conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland took place on July 26, one day after Mr. Trump personally pressed Mr. Zelensky in a now-famous phone call to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as unproven allegations that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump specifically wanted an investigation into unsubstantiated corruption allegations related to Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma Holdings.

Mr. Sondland did not mention the episode to investigators last month when he answered their questions in private. He will almost certainly be asked about it next week when he appears for public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

He has already revised his initial testimony once, admitting to the panel last week that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country would probably not receive a package of nearly $400 million in security assistance Mr. Trump froze in July unless it committed publicly to the investigations Mr. Trump sought. And Republicans have argued that he may be overstating his access to and influence with the president.

On Thursday, two people familiar with the matter said that a second embassy official, Suriya Jayanti, also overheard the call and could corroborate Mr. Holmes’s account. It is unclear if investigators will also call her to testify. On Friday, Mr. Holmes indicated there was a third person present who would have overheard it, as well.

Mr. Holmes told investigators that he did not take notes during the conversation, but said he immediately told other embassy officials about it.

The conversation took place not long after Mr. Sondland had met directly with Mr. Zelensky and other officials. Mr. Holmes’s account gave hints that Mr. Trump’s request may have been on Mr. Zelensky’s mind, but it does not indicate what, if anything, he or his aides may have communicated to Mr. Sondland. In the meeting, Mr. Holmes recalled, Mr. Zelensky said that Mr. Trump had raised “some very sensitive issues” “three times” on the call — issues the Ukrainian leader noted they would have to follow up on in person.

Mr. Holmes described sitting on the terrace of a Kiev restaurant a little while later during lunch with Mr. Sondland, sharing a bottle of wine, when Mr. Sondland called Mr. Trump. The president was speaking so loudly, he said, that Mr. Sondland held the phone away from his ear and Mr. Holmes and others could hear Mr. Trump’s voice.

In addition to discussing the investigations, Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland discussed ASAP Rocky, an American rapper imprisoned in Sweden at the time on charges of assault. Mr. Sondland told the president the rapper “should have pled guilty,” according to Mr. Holmes’s written statement.

Mr. Sondland then advised Mr. Trump that he should “let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker-tape when he comes home,” Mr. Holmes testified. The ambassador added that Sweden “should have released him on your word,” and added, referring to an American reality show celebrity family pressing for Mr. Trump’s help in the case, “you can tell the Kardashians you tried.”

Mr. Sondland noted after the call that the president was in a “bad mood.”

Mr. Holmes’s account included other potentially significant details new to investigators about Trump administration officials using a White House meeting and the frozen military assistance as leverage for what Mr. Trump wanted. He testified that Mr. Taylor told him at the time about a June 28 call with him, the “Three Amigos” and Mr. Zelensky in which “it was made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting.”

Mr. Taylor described the same call in his testimony, saying that Mr. Sondland had said he “wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring” the call. But Mr. Taylor did not say that investigations or preconditions had been discussed.

“It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical to President Zelensky,” Mr. Holmes said. “He needed to demonstrate U.S. support at the highest levels both to advance his ambitious anti-corruption agenda at home and to encourage Russian President Putin to take seriously President Zelensky’s peace efforts.”

By late summer, Mr. Holmes testified, he had a “clear impression” that a hold on the military aid was also “likely intended by the president either to express dissatisfaction that the Ukrainians had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigations or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so.”

Mr. Holmes also described frustrations among American officials.

At one point, he said, Mr. Sondland vented: “Dammit, Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f—s everything up.”

He said that John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, openly discussed strategies for marginalizing Mr. Giuliani on a trip to Kiev during the summer. Mr. Holmes testified that he also complained about Mr. Sondland’s “expansive interpretation of his mandate.” And he recalled Mr. Bolton saying that a hold on the security assistance would be lifted only if Mr. Zelensky could “favorably impress” during a face-to-face meeting scheduled for early September. The meeting never happened.

Other witnesses have described similar concerns by Mr. Bolton, and investigators would like to speak with him, but he has declined to appear given White House orders not to.

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Kanye West Performs In Texas Jail For Over 200 Inmates

Westlake Legal Group 5dcf72902500007f08d2d447 Kanye West Performs In Texas Jail For Over 200 Inmates

HOUSTON (AP) — Kanye West has followed the Johnny Cash route and performed for inmates at a Houston jail.

In secret from the public, the star rapper-turned-gospel singer performed songs Friday from his new gospel album “Jesus is King.” He and his choir performed for more than 200 male inmates at one jail facility before crossing the street to another jail facility and performing for a smaller crowd of female inmates.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said West’s representatives asked jail officials about doing secret shows.

The Friday concerts were performed two days before West is to speak at Joel Osteen’s vast Lakewood Church in Houston

The events were reminiscent of prison concerts given by country singer Johnny Cash in California.

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With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164463414_5b38f580-0e53-49fb-abd6-4fccb348e8e0-facebookJumbo With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations twitter Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

WASHINGTON — Heading into Friday’s impeachment hearing, the Republican strategy for dealing with Marie L. Yovanovitch was simple: treat the ousted ambassador to Ukraine with respect during her testimony on Friday and avoid any appearance of bullying a veteran diplomat who had been vilified and driven from her post.

President Trump blew up the plan.

Ms. Yovanovitch had just begun to recount, in powerful and personal terms, the devastation and fear she felt when she learned Mr. Trump had attacked her during a July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that,” she said.

It was just the kind of human moment that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had anticipated — a political trap they were determined not to fall into. But they apparently didn’t anticipate how Mr. Trump would react.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, sneering at her to his 66 million followers while recounting an earlier posting in her diplomatic career. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

By repeating the same kind of verbal attack that made Ms. Yovanovitch a sympathetic witness for the Democrats in the first place, Mr. Trump undercut his own party’s best chance at minimizing the impact of her testimony. And he handed Democrats another new argument — that his tweet amounted to nothing less than witness intimidation that itself could become an article of impeachment.

“That was not part of the plan, obviously,” said Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump before he retired in 2017. “He can’t help himself. You would think every instinct would be to lay off. She’s a sympathetic witness. But he seems just to be incapable of controlling himself.”

The president’s tweet was at once surprising and entirely predictable.

Mr. Trump has used Twitter to attack his adversaries nearly 6,000 times since becoming president. He has repeatedly tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is a “hoax” and has lashed out at diplomats and national security officials calling them “never Trumpers” who are out to undermine his agenda. For weeks, he and his allies have obsessed about the identity of the whistle-blower whose complaint about Mr. Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine jump-started the impeachment inquiry.

But his decision to fling the sharp-edged insult an hour into Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was the latest evidence — as if any more was needed — that Mr. Trump’s instincts are rarely in sync with the interests of his party.

White House aides insisted on Friday that the president was too busy to watch the hearing, but in fact, he chose to watch Ms. Yovanovitch, who had stuck in his craw because he saw her as an obstacle to his desire to have investigations into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., people close to Mr. Trump said.

On the first day of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, the president had managed to avoid commenting about the two men who testified — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official.

But his inability to hold his fire on Friday raised fresh doubts among his allies and White House advisers about what he will do next week, when eight witnesses are scheduled to testify in public hearings over the course of three days.

Mr. Trump did not clear his Friday tweet with top White House aides before putting it out, leaving some of his advisers deeply dispirited. Privately, they acknowledged he had done himself damage.

Not long after Mr. Trump’s tweet, his son Donald Trump Jr. fired off his own broadside, tweeting, “America hired ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump‬⁩ to fire people like the first three witnesses we’ve seen. Career government bureaucrats and nothing more.”

Mr. Trump’s congressional allies had largely held back from those kinds of direct attacks on Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent. They had planned to be especially careful with Ms. Yovanovitch.

On Thursday, they met for several hours in Room HVC-215 of the Capitol for a practice session aimed at coordinating their overall message, with members who were not on the Intelligence Committee playing the parts of the former ambassador and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence committee.

One thing they were clear about: They intended to use the same care grilling Ms. Yovanovitch that Republican senators tried to employ during last year’s testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when the two were in high school, according to one person close to the House Republican leadership.

Mr. Trump didn’t get the message — and Democrats seized on the political opportunity he handed them. Not long after the president tweeted his thoughts on Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Schiff read it aloud, to Ms. Yovanovitch and the cameras.

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you,” Mr. Schiff told her. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

Her answer was succinct: “It’s very intimidating.”

Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, used his five minutes of questioning at the hearing to decry what he called the president’s “disgusting” tweet.

“He smeared you when you were in Ukraine,” Mr. Swalwell told Ms. Yovanovitch. “He smeared you on that phone call with President Zelensky on July 25. He is smearing you right now as you are testifying. Ambassador Yovanovitch, are the president’s smears going to stop you from fighting corruption?”

“Well,” she answered, clearly not wanting to take the bait of a direct confrontation with the president, “I will continue my work.”

Following the hearing, some Republican lawmakers defended the president’s decision to tweet at Ms. Yovanovitch even as others grudgingly acknowledged that it wasn’t the kind of message they had hoped to highlight.

“We’re not here to talk about tweets,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, told reporters. “This is not the first or last tweet they are going to complain about.”

But under repeated questioning, she added: “I said I disagree with the tone of the tweet.”

Ms. Stefanik and other Republican members struggled to focus on the message they had hoped to deliver throughout the day: that Democrats had put in place an unfair impeachment process that denied Mr. Trump’s defenders their rights. Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said Mr. Trump was just “fighting back.”

But that was not how the week was supposed to go, especially at the White House, where Mr. Trump had scheduled a series of events to highlight what he said he was doing while the Democrats were focused on impeachment.

The idea was to embrace the strategy that former president Bill Clinton used during his own impeachment fight. Mr. Clinton described that strategy on CNN on Thursday. “I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling this impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it,’” Mr. Clinton said. “‘Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people.’ That’s what I would do.”

Early Friday morning, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement saying that Mr. Trump would watch the opening statement by the top Republican on the committee. She added, “but the rest of the day, he will be working hard for the American people.”

To illustrate that, the White House had scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon on new rules to promote “honesty and transparency” in health care prices. But as soon as the event was over, reporters deluged the president with questions — about his Yovanovitch tweet.

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