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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 87)

Russian Operatives Drank Champagne, Said They ‘Made America Great’ After Trump Win

Westlake Legal Group 5d9cffb32100003d07ac789f Russian Operatives Drank Champagne, Said They ‘Made America Great’ After Trump Win

Russian social media trolls working to boost the candidacy of now-President Donald Trump celebrated the real estate mogul’s win on election night 2016 with champagne, according to a message disclosed in a new report from the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.

According to the committee’s report, released Tuesday, an employee of Russia’s Internet Research Agency sent a message indicating that they “uncorked a tiny bottle of champagne” when they found out that Trump had won. “We uttered almost in unison: ‘We made America great.’” The exchange was highlighted by Bloomberg

Robert Mueller’s extensive special counsel investigation laid out a mountain of evidence showing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Like the Mueller investigation, the new report from the Intelligence Committee found that the Internet Research Agency “sought to influence the presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the committee, said in a statement Tuesday that Russia is “waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election” and that their goal was to “sow societal discord and erode public confidence” in government. 

Trump has been publicly skeptical of intelligence community conclusions about Russian interference in the 2016 election because he believes it takes away from his victory.

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A Hard Lesson in Silicon Valley: Profits Matter

Westlake Legal Group 08valley-facebookJumbo A Hard Lesson in Silicon Valley: Profits Matter Wilson, Fred (1961- ) WeWork Companies Inc Venture Capital Union Square Ventures Start-ups Silicon Valley (Calif) Initial Public Offerings Entrepreneurship Computers and the Internet Bird Rides Inc Benchmark Capital

SAN FRANCISCO — Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures, recently published a blog post titled “The Great Public Market Reckoning.” In it, he argued that the narrative that had driven start-up hype and valuations for the last decade was now falling apart.

His post quickly ricocheted across Silicon Valley. Other venture capitalists, including Bill Gurley of Benchmark and Brad Feld of Foundry Group, soon weighed in with their own warnings about fiscal responsibility.

At some start-ups, entrepreneurs began behaving more cautiously. Travis VanderZanden, chief executive of the scooter start-up Bird, declared at a tech conference in San Francisco last week that his company was now focused on profit and not growth. “The challenge is to try to stay disciplined,” he said.

The moves all point to a new gospel that is starting to spread in start-up land. For the last decade, young tech companies were fueled by a wave of venture capital-funded excess, which encouraged fast growth above all else. But now some investors and start-ups are beginning to rethink that mantra and instead invoke turning a profit and generating “positive unit economics” as their new priorities.

The nascent change is being driven by the stumbles of some high-profile “unicorns” — the start-ups that were valued at $1 billion and above in the private markets — just as they reached the stock market.

The most visible of those was the office rental start-up WeWork, which dramatically ousted its chief executive and withdrew its initial public offering last month. At the same time, shares of Peloton, a fitness start-up, and SmileDirectClub, an online orthodontics company, immediately cratered after the companies went public. And Uber, Lyft and Slack — which also listed their stocks this year — have similarly dealt with falling stock prices for months.

The lackluster performances have raised questions about Silicon Valley’s start-up formula of spending lots of money to grow at the expense of profits. (All of those companies lose money.) Public market investors, it seemed, just weren’t having it.

“A lot of these highly valued companies have run into the buzz saw of Wall Street, where they’re questioning or reminding us that profitability matters,” said Patricia Nakache, a partner at Trinity Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

She added that she anticipated a “ripple effect” on private start-up valuations that would start with the largest, most valuable companies and trickle down to the smaller, younger ones.

For start-ups and investors that were used to heady times and big spending, that means it may be time for a reset.

Aileen Lee, an investor at Cowboy Ventures, a venture capital firm in Palo Alto, Calif., said she considered dusting off a four-year-old “winter is coming” email she had sent to start-ups in 2015, telling them to prepare for a downturn. She hasn’t revived the warning yet, she said, because “I worry about becoming the boy who cried wolf.”

Other venture capitalists are being more forward. At Eniac Ventures, a venture firm in New York and San Francisco, the partners recently combed through their companies and identified the “gross margins” — a measure of profitability — for each one, said Nihal Mehta, general partner of the firm. This was not something the firm regularly looked at, he said, but they were inspired by Mr. Wilson’s cautionary blog post.

They ultimately decided that in future meetings with entrepreneurs, they would push for more detailed financial models, even though the companies are very young, Mr. Mehta said. While Eniac had looked at this when making investments before, “now it’s more important,” he said.

Tech start-ups have long gone through different cycles of fear and loathing. When the 2008 recession began, Sequoia Capital, one of the highest-profile venture firms, called a mass meeting with its start-ups and presented a slide deck, titled “R.I.P. Good Times,” that featured a graphic of a “death spiral” and a skull.

The event was intended as a way to shock the start-ups into reining in costs to survive the downturn. Sequoia’s presentation quickly became the talk of Silicon Valley, which did not fall into as deep an economic funk as other parts of the United States.

Yet other alarms about the state of the start-up economy fell on deaf ears.

In 2015, as unicorn start-ups sucked in billions of dollars in funding and soared to stratospheric valuations, Mr. Gurley of Benchmark bemoaned “the complete absence of fear” in Silicon Valley and said “dead unicorns” would soon appear. In 2016, Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist who was an early Facebook investor, also predicted “blood in the water” for the unicorns.

But the money continued to flood into tech start-ups from overseas investors, private equity firms, corporations and SoftBank’s behemoth Vision Fund. That allowed founders to command higher valuations and delay going public. By the end of 2018, start-ups in the United States had raised a record $131 billion in venture funding, surpassing the amount collected during the late 1990s dot-com boom, according to Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association.

Mr. Gurley gave up on his warnings of excess. “You have to adjust to reality and play the game on the field,” he said in an interview last year.

(Complaining about high valuations is a longstanding pastime among venture capitalists, of course, since most prefer to invest their money in cheaply priced start-ups rather than expensive ones.)

This year, the warnings are being revived. In his recent blog post, Mr. Wilson wrote that many of today’s start-ups were focused on traditional physical industries like real estate, exercise or transportation. They should not command the high valuations that pure software companies — which tend to have less overhead — have, he wrote.

In several message exchanges, Mr. Wilson said he had already seen that as criticism of WeWork mounted over the last month, some start-up fundings were taking place at lower valuations and with stricter terms than the companies had hoped for.

“What I would like to see is a bit more rationality, and I’m hopeful we are going to get it,” he said.

By last week, his words appeared to be sinking in elsewhere.

At a start-up conference held by the tech publication TechCrunch at a San Francisco convention center, around 10,000 founders, investors and “innovators” watched interviews with slightly more famous founders, investors and “innovators” from a dark, cavernous room. Onstage, entrepreneurs lamented the unforgiving stock market and challenging investment environment.

Postmates, a food delivery start-up that confidentially filed to go public in February, attended the confab. The company has not yet gone public because the markets have been “choppy when it comes to growth companies,” said Bastian Lehmann, Postmates’ chief executive, at the event.

Bird, the scooter start-up, announced $275 million in fresh funding at the conference. But its chief executive, Mr. VanderZanden, said he had been able to raise that money only because his unprofitable company had taken steps this year to shore up its losses. Many scooter companies have lost their shine this year because of regulatory pushback and safety issues.

The shift toward making a profit wasn’t easy, Mr. VanderZanden said. “I’m an ex-growth guy, and sometimes it’s painful for me,” he said.

But spending fast to grow fast was just no longer feasible, he added. It is now difficult for “a growth-at-all-costs company burning hundreds of millions of dollars with negative unit economics” to get funding, he said. “This is going to be a healthy reset for the tech industry.”

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Bernie Sanders says he would legalize marijuana by executive order

Westlake Legal Group SpLpWSXvqqhSwI8eXNVBH0UFhx0kTEuSrf_fvMzdD4I Bernie Sanders says he would legalize marijuana by executive order r/politics

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Megathread: White House Says It Will Not Cooperate With House Impeachment Inquiry

The White House said on Tuesday it would refuse to cooperate with a “baseless, unconstitutional” congressional impeachment inquiry, setting Republican President Donald Trump on a collision course with the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives.

In the White House’s letter to congressional Democrats, President Trump’s lawyers say the President and his administration won’t cooperate in an ongoing impeachment inquiry, arguing the proceedings amount to an illegitimate effort to overturn the 2016 election results.

The full letter can be found here.


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The White House is refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

Westlake Legal Group 5d9d008e2000003a064fa8df The White House is refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

The White House is pushing back against the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump by refusing to cooperate with lawmakers’ demands for documents and interviews related to the investigation, setting up a constitutional crisis.

The eight-page letter, signed Tuesday by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, also accused Democratic lawmakers of using the investigation to overturn the 2016 election results and demanded they abandon all impeachment efforts.

The administration’s letter ― which consisted more of the president’s political attacks than substantive legal arguments ― alleged that Democrats have denied Trump the right to “see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses” and to object to “the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence.”

“President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice,” the letter stated. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

The letter is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Those three committees are in charge of the impeachment inquiry.

In response, Pelosi said Tuesday that the letter’s allegations are “manifestly wrong” and constitute the White House’s latest “unlawful attempt to hide” the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure foreign governments to intervene in the 2020 elections.

“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”

The White House’s refusal to cooperate at all is almost sure to wind up in court.

“The White House says there is nothing wrong with pressuring a foreign government to intervene in a US election,” Schiff tweeted in response to the Cipollone letter, which also attacked the congressman’s character. “They say: they will not cooperate with an impeachment inquiry unless it’s on their terms. They mean: the President is above the law. The Constitution says otherwise.”

The letter is the latest uptick in the political battle over Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A reconstruction of the call released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pressuring his counterpart to investigate one of his main political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. The call took place shortly after Trump ordered his aides to block military funding to the country, as detailed in a complaint filed by a whistleblower from the intelligence community.

The call prompted Pelosi to finally launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s behavior, although the president has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and moved to delegitimize the effort.

House committees have issued multiple subpoenas as part of their investigations, which have already produced bombshell documents. Officials who received subpoenas include Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Office of Management and Budget acting Director Russell Vought. The House Oversight Committee also subpoenaed the White House for Ukraine-related documents.

Just after the White House released the letter Tuesday, the House announced that it had subpoenaed Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, for both documents and a deposition. Trump blocked Sondland earlier that day from testifying to lawmakers about the president’s communications with Ukraine.

Last Thursday, the chairs of three committees released text messages they obtained from Kurt Volker, who was until last month the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine. The missives appear to show clear instances of the Trump administration pressuring Ukraine for political favors.

Axios reported that the White House wants congressional Democrats, particularly those holding vulnerable seats, to go on the record in support of impeachment. Republicans will reportedly also have more sway over the inquiry once it is formalized. 

Pelosi’s office has so far resisted those calls. On Oct. 3, she wrote a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reiterating that House committees had the “full authority to conduct investigations for all matters under their jurisdiction, including impeachment investigations.” 

“There is no requirement under the Constitution, under House Rules, or House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi wrote. “We hope you and other Republicans share our commitment to following the facts, upholding the Constitution, protecting our national security, and defending the integrity of our elections at such a serious moment in our nation’s history.”

Republicans have thus far stood by Trump and moved to minimize the fallout from the call. GOP lawmakers who have fallen out of lockstep have been immediately castigated by their party.

Read the letter below:

This article has been updated with Rep. Adam Schiff’s response, a House subpoena being sent to a former ambassador, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response.

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Pennsylvania homeowner finds naked milk-drinker singing in his kitchen, authorities say

Westlake Legal Group milk Pennsylvania homeowner finds naked milk-drinker singing in his kitchen, authorities say Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/us fnc fbf19812-9df7-5ce4-978d-ff796feed146 article

Police say a Pennsylvania homeowner went to investigate the sound of singing coming from the first floor of his home early Monday morning — only to find a naked man drinking milk in his kitchen.

Erie police said the homeowner heard the singing at around 3 a.m. He grabbed his pistol and headed down the stairs to find the man sitting on his kitchen floor.

The homeowner called the police and the man was taken into custody. Erie police could not immediately be reached for comment, but authorities told the Daily News the suspect appeared to be under the influence of an undisclosed substance and was acting confused.

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The intruder was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. No injuries were reported.

It wasn’t clear how the man entered the home or how long he had been in the residence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group milk Pennsylvania homeowner finds naked milk-drinker singing in his kitchen, authorities say Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/us fnc fbf19812-9df7-5ce4-978d-ff796feed146 article   Westlake Legal Group milk Pennsylvania homeowner finds naked milk-drinker singing in his kitchen, authorities say Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/us fnc fbf19812-9df7-5ce4-978d-ff796feed146 article

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Elizabeth Warren Is Right. In The 1970s, Pregnant Teachers Didn’t Keep Their Jobs.

Westlake Legal Group 5d9cf1272000003a064fa30f Elizabeth Warren Is Right. In The 1970s, Pregnant Teachers Didn’t Keep Their Jobs.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign is on the offensive against a report that questions a compelling piece of her origin story: her account of being pushed out of her first teaching job because she was six months pregnant.

Although the reports don’t contain evidence that Warren is lying, they show there is no written evidence she was fired from her elementary school job and they open the door to the possibility that she voluntarily resigned to raise a family.

What’s missing, though, is a crucial fact about the time period when Warren says she was shown the door: In 1971, teaching wasn’t just another profession where women experienced pregnancy discrimination. It was the national model for how employers could systematically discriminate against pregnant workers and get away with it.

School districts around the country followed plain-as-day policies that terminated pregnant teachers or forced them to take unpaid leave, usually around the fifth month of pregnancy when they were obviously pregnant. A National Education Association survey in 1970 found that a majority of school districts had such a policy, and that most of those policies came with no guarantee that a teacher would get her job back after giving birth.

That placed school teachers on the front lines of the fraught legal and cultural battles for better protections for working women, writes legal historian Deborah Dinner. National women’s groups took up the treatment of pregnant teachers as an organizing cause. Women’s legal advocates recruited teachers as civil rights test cases. The Supreme Court’s first pregnancy discrimination case, argued in 1973, pitted three pregnant teachers against a “five month” policy. That case, and the questions it left unanswered, became the basis for the landmark Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

In other words, when a pregnant Warren left her teaching job, pregnancy discrimination against teachers was rampant, controversial and inextricable from the much larger battle on the overall status of working women. The question isn’t why her school board would lie about forcing her out — it’s why wouldn’t it? 

Warren’s story of being shuffled out of her first teaching job goes like this: In 1971, she was a teacher — her dream job — at a special-needs school for public school students at Riverdale Elementary in New Jersey. In April, when she was pregnant but not obviously, the school renewed her teaching contract for another year. By the summer, she was six months pregnant — “visibly pregnant” — and the job was no longer hers.

“The principal did what principals did in those days: wished me luck, showed me the door, and hired someone else for the job,” she said at a recent town hall. In some recent appearances, she has dropped the “showed me the door” line, but she defended her characterization in an interview with CBS News.

“When someone calls you in and says the job that you’ve been hired for for the next year is no longer yours, ‘We’re giving it to someone else,’ I think that’s being shown the door,” Warren said.

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet, cast doubt by noting that Warren had once described her exit differently: “[I] said, ‘I don’t think this is going to work out for me.’ I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years,” she said in a 2007 interview. (Warren told CBS that she wasn’t comfortable opening up about the discrimination aspect until recently.)

And it pointed to contemporaneous reports from 1971 that also paint her exit as voluntary. A local news item said Warren was “leaving to raise a family,” while another said the school board hired Warren’s replacement after she “resigned for personal reasons.”

The question isn’t why her school board would lie about forcing her out — it’s why wouldn’t it?

Of course, what really matters here is whether Warren had a choice to keep her job at all. And to read just those two news items is to miss the reality that in 1971, it was the de facto or actual expectation in the majority of American school districts that a teacher who became pregnant would resign. “Voluntary resignations” were many teachers’ only alternative to automatic dismissal — and Warren’s school district was reportedly no exception.

“The rule was at five months you had to leave when you were pregnant. Now, if you didn’t tell anybody you were pregnant, and they didn’t know, you could fudge it and try to stay on a little bit longer,” Trudy Randall, a retired Riverdale Elementary teacher, told CBS. “But they kind of wanted you out if you were pregnant.”

Certainly, by 1971, Warren’s principal would have known that to openly fire her because she was pregnant was to court trouble. “In the early 1970s,” the country at large was embroiled in a “major cultural and legal debate over the rights of pregnant workers,” according to a history of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act published in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

The American Federation of Teachers denounced mandatory pregnancy dismissals at its annual convention in 1970. By the next year — the year Warren left her job — the federation and the National Organization for Women were coordinating local name-and-shame campaigns against school boards with retrograde policies.

One district that found itself under fire was a school board in New Jersey, the state where Warren had worked. In 1972, the state civil rights commission slapped down a policy forcing teachers to leave school at five months pregnant. An Associated Press story from that time reported the ruling to mean “pregnant teachers can no longer be automatically forced out of New Jersey’s classrooms.”

‘Voluntary resignations’ were many teachers’ only alternative to automatic dismissal — and Warren’s school district was reportedly no exception.

Because teaching was one of a few career options reliably available to women, the treatment of pregnant schoolteachers was at the heart of the broader societal clash over pregnant workers. Schools were also a special battleground because teaching jobs were mostly government jobs — it gave pregnancy discrimination against teachers the sheen of authority.

Among the very first federal cases against pregnancy discrimination was brought in 1973, by a Minnesota teacher named Margo Seaman, who sued her school district for forcing her, when she was seven months pregnant, to take a semesterlong leave of absence. Seaman was able to stay in her job but lost her fight for back pay, in no small part because her teacher’s union had capitulated in 1971 to a policy “providing for permanent ‘termination’ of a teacher after five months of pregnancy, with no guarantee of reinstatement.”

And in 1974, the Supreme Court took up its first pregnancy discrimination suit, which the legal professor Nicholas Pedriana called “a typical early pregnancy discrimination case”: “Public school teachers who became pregnant were required to take maternity leave beginning in the fifth month of pregnancy.” 

The case, Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, involved three teachers from two school districts in Ohio and Virginia who were pregnant in 1970 or 1971 and were forced to take many months of unpaid maternity leave with no guarantee of getting their jobs back. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the five-month rule was arbitrary and unconstitutional.

The questions that case left unanswered — namely, whether pregnancy discrimination was a form of gender discrimination and subject to an even wider array of civil rights laws — led eventually to the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

At the heart of all of these legal fights and retrograde school board policies were traditional ideas about gender, Dinner writes: the notion that pregnancy, a visible sign of women’s sexual activity, wasn’t classroom-appropriate; that pregnant women couldn’t work without endangering their health and their pregnancies; and that new mothers shouldn’t work but focus on their families.

Those ideas started to crumble in the 1970s. But they still persist, and, making it all the more difficult to dismiss Warren’s story, they still result in routine pregnancy discrimination against professional women today.

Pregnancy discrimination remains pervasive, especially for women in low-wage and physically demanding jobs. Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance

Today, the idea of putting a visibly pregnant CEO on the cover of a magazine is still considered trailblazing. Today, the idea that pregnant women place special burdens on their co-workers is still pervasive. Pregnant women often find themselves “mommy tracked,” and paid or promoted less than their peers for equivalent work based on the assumption that their futures belong to their families.

“Pregnancy discrimination remains pervasive, especially for women in low-wage and physically demanding jobs,” said Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, a national legal advocacy organization for women’s rights. “It is a key barrier to gender equality in the workplace, often snowballing into devastating economic consequences for women.”

And it is still prevalent in the teaching profession. Religious schools, for instance, have fought for and often won the legal right to fire pregnant teachers who are unmarried or who conceive using methods, like IVF, opposed by some faiths.

Denine Hasan, who is a New Jersey schoolteacher like Warren was, said she wasn’t at all surprised by Warren’s account. Hasan says that she, too, was shuffled out of her position when she became pregnant — during the 2012-13 school year.

Like Warren, she wasn’t outright fired. Instead, she says, she was assigned to a new school, given unprecedented negative reviews and treated with hostility or punished when she asked for medically recommended accommodations for her high-risk pregnancy. Officials informed Hasan, who was not tenured, that her contract would not be renewed when she went on maternity leave.

(The Asbury Park School District has not admitted wrongdoing, and didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.)

“I don’t think I would get pregnant again. Because you’re just fearful. What’s going to happen? Am I going to lose my job?” Hasan told HuffPost.

“Women are always viewed differently than men,” she continued. “Its natural for us to bear children, and then to be put in situations where now we’re losing jobs because we’re doing something that’s natural. It’s like we can’t win.”

Emily Peck contributed reporting

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White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Alleging Effort to Undo Trump’s Election

WASHINGTON — The White House declared war on the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, announcing that it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate and partisan effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election” of Donald J. Trump.

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House said the inquiry violated precedent and President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents, a daring move that sets the stage for a constitutional clash.

“Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice,” said the eight-page letter signed by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

The letter came hours after the White House blocked the interview of a key witness, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, just hours before he was to appear on Capitol Hill.

Westlake Legal Group white-house-letter-impeachment-promo-1570570699708-articleLarge White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Alleging Effort to Undo Trump’s Election United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party

Read the White House Response to the Impeachment Inquiry

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House counsel called the House’s impeachment inquiry illegitimate.

Mr. Trump, defiant as investigators dig further into his efforts to pressure Ukraine to find dirt on his political rivals, ridiculed the inquiry as spurious, signaling even before the release of the top White House lawyer’s letter that he planned to stonewall Congress, an act that could itself build the case for charging him in an impeachment proceeding with obstruction.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning around the time Mr. Sondland was to appear, “but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away.”

[Catch up on all the day’s news here.]

Earlier on Tuesday, House Democrats said they would regard the president’s stance as obstruction. Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the administration’s refusal to allow Mr. Sondland to appear was “strong evidence” of “obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a coequal branch of government.”

Mr. Schiff told reporters that the State Department was also withholding text messages Mr. Sondland had sent on a private device that were “deeply relevant” to the inquiry. He later indicated the House would issue a subpoena for his testimony and the messages.

“The American people have the right to know if the president is acting in their interests, in the nation’s interests with an eye toward our national security, and not in his narrow personal, political interests,” Mr. Schiff told reporters. “By preventing us from hearing from this witness and obtaining these documents, the president and secretary of state are taking actions that prevent us from getting the facts needed to protect the nation’s security.”

The decision to block Mr. Sondland from being interviewed was delivered at the last minute, after the ambassador had already flown to Washington from Europe, and lawmakers had returned from a two-week recess to observe the questioning.

Trump administration lawyers and aides have spent days puzzling over how to respond to the impeachment inquiry, and the abrupt move suggested that the president’s team has calculated that he is better off risking the House’s ire — and even an impeachment article focused on the obstruction — than setting a precedent for cooperation with an investigation they have strenuously argued is illegitimate.

The strategy, if it holds, carries substantial risk to the White House. Privately, some Republicans had urged the White House to allow witnesses like Mr. Sondland to appear, in order to deflate Democratic accusations of a cover-up and offer a public rationale for the president’s actions toward Ukraine. Now, some Republicans worry, Democrats have more fodder to argue publicly that Mr. Trump has something to hide.

Mr. Schiff said the Intelligence Committee, working with both the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight and Reform panels, would continue its work regardless. But beyond issuing a subpoena for Mr. Sondland, the chairman did not detail how he might seek to crank up pressure on the White House to comply, and the standoff may create a quandary for Democrats who had hoped to move quickly in extracting crucial evidence and decide in short order whether to push forward on impeaching Mr. Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was too early to know whether Democrats might draft an article of impeachment based on the obstruction issue, akin to one adopted by the House Judiciary Committee in the 1970s impeachment proceedings against Richard M. Nixon.

“The president is obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters in Seattle, where she was holding an unrelated event. “It is an abuse of power for him to act in this way.”

Westlake Legal Group impeachment-investigation-tracker-promo-1570214529724-articleLarge-v3 White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Alleging Effort to Undo Trump’s Election United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party

The Evidence Collected So Far in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

Mr. Sondland has become enmeshed in the burgeoning saga of how the president sought to push the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and Democrats. Although Ukraine is not in the European Union, Mr. Trump instructed Mr. Sondland — a wealthy hotelier and contributor to his campaign — to take a lead in his administration’s dealings with the country.

Democrats consider him a key witness to what transpired, including whether the president sought to use a $391 million package of security assistance and the promise of a White House meeting as bargaining chips to essentially bully President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine into digging up dirt on the Bidens and other Democrats.

Mr. Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill rushed to his defense on Tuesday and condemned Mr. Schiff and the Democrats for running what they described as an unfair process, though they made clear they thought Mr. Sondland would have been a helpful witness for the president’s case.

“We were looking forward to hearing from Ambassador Sondland,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee, adding that Republicans believed Mr. Sondland would “reinforce exactly” what lawmakers and aides heard least week from Kurt D. Volker, the former American special envoy to Ukraine. Mr. Volker told investigators he knew of nothing improper between the two countries, although he turned over a trove of documents that raised further questions.

“But we understand exactly why the administration, exactly why the State Department has chosen to say, ‘Look if it’s going to be this kind of process …,’ ” Mr. Jordan added.

And in the Senate, Mr. Trump’s allies shifted into high gear to orchestrate a counteroffensive on his behalf. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would invite Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer who was deeply involved in the pressure campaign on Ukraine, to testify before his panel. Mr. Giuliani led the push to enlist the Ukrainians to help investigate the business dealings of the Bidens and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

“Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine,” Mr. Graham said.

Democrats did not flinch at the suggestion, and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Mr. Graham’s Democratic counterpart on the committee, said she looked forward to questioning “Rudy Giuliani under oath about his role in seeking the Ukrainian government’s assistance to investigate one of the president’s political rivals.”

It was unclear what the Trump administration’s position would mean for other witnesses expected to testify in the House investigation. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, is currently scheduled to appear on Friday. The State Department has also missed a subpoena deadline to hand over documents the House has demanded related to Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland interacted directly with Mr. Trump, speaking with the president several times around key moments that House Democrats are now investigating, including before and after Mr. Trump’s July call with Mr. Zelensky. The president asked Mr. Zelensky in that conversation to do him “a favor” and investigate the Bidens and matters related to 2016.

Text messages provided to Congress last week showed that Mr. Sondland and another senior diplomat had worked on language for a statement they wanted the Ukrainian president to put out in August that would have committed him to the investigations sought by Mr. Trump. The diplomats consulted with Mr. Giuliani about the statement, believing they needed to pacify him in order to allow the United States to normalize relations with the Ukrainians.

Mr. Sondland was also involved in a back-and-forth with top American diplomats to Ukraine over text last month that suggests some senior State Department officials believed that Mr. Trump may have been holding up the security aid as leverage for getting its leaders to conduct the investigations Mr. Trump wanted.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” William B. Taylor Jr., a top American official in Ukraine, wrote in one exchange in early September.

After receiving the text, Mr. Sondland called Mr. Trump, who asserted it was false.

“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Mr. Sondland wrote in the messages. “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Mr. Sondland added: “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”

There have been conflicting accounts of Mr. Sondland’s views, however. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, told The Wall Street Journal last week that Mr. Sondland had told him in August that the release of the aid was contingent upon Ukraine opening the investigations. Mr. Johnson said he was alarmed and asked Mr. Trump if there was a quid pro quo involved. The president adamantly denied it, he said.

Robert D. Luskin, Mr. Sondland’s lawyer, said in a statement that as a State Department employee, his client had no choice but to comply with the administration’s direction. He said Mr. Sondland was “profoundly disappointed” he was not able to testify, and would do so in the future if allowed.

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White House Refuses To Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry; Constitutional Crisis Looms

Westlake Legal Group 5d9d008e2000003a064fa8df White House Refuses To Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry; Constitutional Crisis Looms

The White House is pushing back against the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump by refusing to cooperate with lawmakers’ demands for documents and interviews related to the investigation.

The eight-page letter, signed Tuesday by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, also accused Democratic lawmakers of using the investigation to overturn the 2016 election results and demanded they abandon all impeachment efforts.

In the letter, the administration said Democrats have denied Trump the right to “see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses” and to object to “the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence.”

“President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice,” the letter stated. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

The letter is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Those three committees are in charge of the impeachment inquiry.

The White House’s refusal is almost sure to wind up in court.

The letter is the latest uptick in the political battle over Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A reconstruction of the call released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pressuring his counterpart to investigate one of his main political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. The call took place shortly after Trump ordered his aides to block military funding to the country, as detailed in a complaint filed by a whistleblower from the intelligence community.

The call prompted Pelosi to finally launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s behavior, although the president has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and moved to delegitimize the effort.

House committees have issued multiple subpoenas as part of their investigations, which have already produced bombshell documents. Officials who received subpoenas include Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Budget Office Acting Director Russell Vought. The House Oversight Committee also subpoenaed the White House for Ukraine-related documents.

Last Thursday, the chairs of three committees released text messages they obtained from Kurt Volker, who was until last month the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine. The missives appear to show clear instances of the Trump administration pressuring Ukraine for political favors.

Axios reported that the White House wants congressional Democrats, particularly those holding vulnerable seats, to go on the record in support of impeachment. Republicans will reportedly also have more sway over the inquiry once it is formalized. 

Pelosi’s office has so far resisted those calls. On Oct. 3, she wrote a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reiterating that House committees had the “full authority to conduct investigations for all matters under their jurisdiction, including impeachment investigations.” 

“There is no requirement under the Constitution, under House Rules, or House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi wrote. “We hope you and other Republicans share our commitment to following the facts, upholding the Constitution, protecting our national security, and defending the integrity of our elections at such a serious moment in our nation’s history.”

Republicans have thus far stood by Trump and moved to minimize the fallout from the call. GOP lawmakers who have fallen out of lockstep have been immediately castigated by their party.

Read the letter below:

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White House Refuses To Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 5d9d008e2000003a064fa8df White House Refuses To Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry

The White House is pushing back against the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump by refusing to cooperate with lawmakers’ demands for documents and interviews related to the investigation, setting up a constitutional crisis.

The eight-page letter, signed Tuesday by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, also accused Democratic lawmakers of using the investigation to overturn the 2016 election results and demanded they abandon all impeachment efforts.

The administration’s letter ― which consisted more of the president’s political attacks than substantive legal arguments ― alleged that Democrats have denied Trump the right to “see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses” and to object to “the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence.”

“President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice,” the letter stated. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

The letter is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Those three committees are in charge of the impeachment inquiry.

In response, Pelosi said Tuesday that the letter’s allegations are “manifestly wrong” and constitute the White House’s latest “unlawful attempt to hide” the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure foreign governments to intervene in the 2020 elections.

“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”

The White House’s refusal to cooperate at all is almost sure to wind up in court.

“The White House says there is nothing wrong with pressuring a foreign government to intervene in a US election,” Schiff tweeted in response to the Cipollone letter, which also attacked the congressman’s character. “They say: they will not cooperate with an impeachment inquiry unless it’s on their terms. They mean: the President is above the law. The Constitution says otherwise.”

The letter is the latest uptick in the political battle over Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A reconstruction of the call released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pressuring his counterpart to investigate one of his main political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. The call took place shortly after Trump ordered his aides to block military funding to the country, as detailed in a complaint filed by a whistleblower from the intelligence community.

The call prompted Pelosi to finally launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s behavior, although the president has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and moved to delegitimize the effort.

House committees have issued multiple subpoenas as part of their investigations, which have already produced bombshell documents. Officials who received subpoenas include Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Office of Management and Budget acting Director Russell Vought. The House Oversight Committee also subpoenaed the White House for Ukraine-related documents.

Just after the White House released the letter Tuesday, the House announced that it had subpoenaed Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, for both documents and a deposition. Trump blocked Sondland earlier that day from testifying to lawmakers about the president’s communications with Ukraine.

Last Thursday, the chairs of three committees released text messages they obtained from Kurt Volker, who was until last month the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine. The missives appear to show clear instances of the Trump administration pressuring Ukraine for political favors.

Axios reported that the White House wants congressional Democrats, particularly those holding vulnerable seats, to go on the record in support of impeachment. Republicans will reportedly also have more sway over the inquiry once it is formalized. 

Pelosi’s office has so far resisted those calls. On Oct. 3, she wrote a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reiterating that House committees had the “full authority to conduct investigations for all matters under their jurisdiction, including impeachment investigations.” 

“There is no requirement under the Constitution, under House Rules, or House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi wrote. “We hope you and other Republicans share our commitment to following the facts, upholding the Constitution, protecting our national security, and defending the integrity of our elections at such a serious moment in our nation’s history.”

Republicans have thus far stood by Trump and moved to minimize the fallout from the call. GOP lawmakers who have fallen out of lockstep have been immediately castigated by their party.

Read the letter below:

This article has been updated with Rep. Adam Schiff’s response, a House subpoena being sent to a former ambassador, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com