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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 191)

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.

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Donald Trump to Nancy Pelosi: No cooperation on impeachment until investigation improves

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Donald Trump to Nancy Pelosi: No cooperation on impeachment until investigation improves

Whistleblowers have been at time essential and detrimental to a country’s democracy, but what makes them different than a leaker? We explain. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The White House will not provide documents or witnesses to House impeachment investigators because it considers their investigation to be unfair and illegitimate, President Donald Trump and his team told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders on Tuesday.

“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Pelosi and the chairmen of three key House committees.

House Democrats have said Trump is using a House vote as an excuse to refuse to cooperate with investigators. Some said Trump’s refusal to answer subpoenas and provide documents could constitute an impeachable offense in and of itself as they investigate the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

Just before the White House release, Pelosi sent House colleagues a letter protesting Trump’s actions, saying the president “is obstructing justice, abusing power and diminishing the office of the presidency.”

More: Jimmy Carter: Trump shouldn’t ‘stonewall’ Congress during impeachment inquiry

More: Lindsey Graham wants Rudy Giuliani to testify before Senate Judiciary on Ukraine corruption findings

Democrats scoffed at Trump’s objections, and indicated they may go to court to try and enforce subpoenas and document requests.

“Let’s say it again, all together, for the slower learners: The President doesn’t get to dictate how Congress investigates him,” tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. 

In his letter, Cipollone described as a number of irregularities in the investigation, slamming Democrats for not allowing the administration to cross-examine witnesses, receive transcripts of testimony or have access to evidence. The process used by the Democrats, Cipollone argued, is an overreach of congressional authority.

Echoing political arguments Trump has made on the campaign trail, Cipollone accused the Democrats of seeking “to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen.”

He added: “Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away.”

In discussing the letter last week, officials said Trump might demand a full House vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry. The letter itself stopped short of such a demand, but did protest the absence of a full vote as one of the unfair things about the letter.

Pelosi has not ruled out a full House vote, telling the Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial board last week: “If we want to do it, we’ll do it. If we don’t, we don’t. But we’re certainly not going to do it because of the president.”

The White House released the letter hours after it acted to prevent a key witness from providing testimony to House members. Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, had dealings with Ukraine as Trump asked it to investigate U.S. political opponent Joe Biden.

House Democratic investigators said they would now subpoena Sondland.

Defending his decision to block Sondland’s testimony, Trump tweeted that he “would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away.” 

More: Merriam-Webster defines “kangaroo court” after GOP uses it as impeachment defense

How did we get here

The investigation revolves around Trump’s request that the government of Ukraine investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had business interests in Ukraine. House Democrats have cited evidence that Trump withheld U.S. aid from Ukraine until it agreed to investigate Biden, effectively injecting the issue into the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign.

More: Read the summary of President Trump’s call with Ukraine president about Biden

Trump is also under criticism for asking China to investigate Biden and his son, who also had business dealings in that country. Chinese officials have rejected Trump’s request.

Biden has said Trump is asking foreign countries to dig up dirt because he fears the former vice president will defeat him in 2020.

The White House letter sent Tuesday underscores the political pressures surrounding impeachment.

White House and Republican officials have said they want to get all House members on the record about whether they favor an impeachment investigation, particularly Democrats who represent districts carried by Trump in 2016.

Republicans also question whether Pelosi and the Democratic leadership could get their impeachment inquiry authorized by the full House.

Pelosi has repeatedly said that committees are free to conduct their own impeachment investigation, and “there’s no requirement that there be a floor vote.”

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The investigation began after a whistleblower complained about a Trump phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked to have the government in Kiev investigate Biden.

A group of House committee chairmen released text messages from diplomats describing an effort to lobby Zelensky into a public pledge to take up the investigation in exchange for the nearly $400 million in aid as well as a private meeting with Trump.

Trump has denied wrongdoing, and described the impeachment drive as a “coup” designed to drive him from office.

The administration’s letter to Pelosi echoed a request made last week by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Criticizing “the swiftness and recklessness” of the impeachment drive, McCarthy asked Pelosi if Republicans would be let into the process and if administration lawyers could cross-examine witnesses.

“Unfortunately, you have given no clear indication as to how your impeachment inquiry will proceed – including whether key historical precedents or basic standards of due process will be observed,” McCarthy said in his letter.

In replying to McCarthy, Pelosi said the majority is proceeding under authority it already has.

“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 said in a letter to the House Republican leader.

In discussing the letter last week, Trump demurred when asked if he would ever comply with subpoenas.

“That’s up to the lawyers,” he said, adding that his lawyers have never seen something “so unfair.”

In her letter to colleagues on Tuesday, Pelosi said: “President Trump must know that no one is above the law. The president will be held accountable.  When it comes to impeachment, it is just about the facts and the Constitution.”

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/08/impeachment-donald-trump-say-no-evidence-nancy-pelosi-until-things-improve/3911234002/

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Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal

A married couple who paid $125,000 to have their daughter’s college entrance exam scores altered so she could get into an elite university was sentenced Tuesday to a month each in prison.

Gregory and Marcia Abbott are the sixth and seventh parents to be sentenced in the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admission scandal that saw wealthy parents pay bribes to get their children into top colleges. They each pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to impose an eight-month sentence and a $40,000 fine. Lawyers for the couple asked for probation and community service.

In addition to prison time, the Abbotts were ordered to pay $45,000 each in fines, perform 250 hours apiece of community service and will remain on supervised release for one year.

LORI LOUGHLIN WAS ‘OBSESSED’ WITH GETTING DAUGHTERS INTO USC, REPORT CLAIMS

Westlake Legal Group AP19277807089047 Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast fox-news/us/crime/trials fox-news/topic/college-admissions-scandal fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Fone 8a7646fa-3bc8-584b-b5d9-6980c29a63d7

Marcia and Gregory Abbott leave federal court after pleading guilty in the college admissions scandal (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Gregory Abbott requested he serve his sentence in a correctional facility near Otisville, N.Y. while his wife requested doing her time near Dublin, Calif. He also asked the judge to stagger the sentences so a parent can remain with their daughter.

Marcia Abbott will report to prison on Nov. 6 and Gregory Abbott on Jan. 3.

Authorities contend the Abbotts paid  $50,000 to have a corrupt test proctor correct their daughter’s ACT exams in 2018 and another $75,000 to rig her SAT subject tests in math and literature. The daughter was unaware of the scheme.

Prosecutors said the couple used the fact that their daughter had Lyme disease to allow her extra time to take the ACT in West Hollywood, Calif, about 1,000 miles from her Aspen, Colo., home.

Marcia Abbott was hoping to use the higher scores to get her daughter into her alma mater, Duke University, according to the Boston Herald.

Gregory Abbott acknowledged his wrongdoing in a Sept. 27. letter to the court.

“I share the same sensibilities as most people and, strange as it may sound, identify with the public outrage over my own actions,” he wrote.

Gregory Abbott lives in New York City while his wife stays in Aspen. He was chairman and CEO of International Dispensing Corp. until taking a leave of absence in March. Marcia Abbott is a former magazine editor and writer.

The scandal has engulfed wealthy couples and celebrities and put a microscope under the college admissions process. Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison last month after admitting to paying $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score.

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Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told a Boston TV station Sunday that he plans to ask for a stiffer sentence for former “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

Both are fighting charges that they paid $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake athletes.

“Let’s say she goes through to trial: If it’s after trial, I think certainly we’d be asking for something substantially higher. If she resolved her case short of trial, something a little lower than that,” Lelling told WCVB-TV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

Westlake Legal Group AP19277807089047 Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast fox-news/us/crime/trials fox-news/topic/college-admissions-scandal fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Fone 8a7646fa-3bc8-584b-b5d9-6980c29a63d7   Westlake Legal Group AP19277807089047 Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast fox-news/us/crime/trials fox-news/topic/college-admissions-scandal fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Fone 8a7646fa-3bc8-584b-b5d9-6980c29a63d7

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

A snowstorm will wallop central USA this week, plunging temps as much as 60 degrees in one day

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close A snowstorm will wallop central USA this week, plunging temps as much as 60 degrees in one day

Steve Gadsby, owner of FurnaceUSA, a heating and cooling installation company, shares his top tricks to keep your home warm and your heating bill down. USA TODAY

Forget fall. Portions of the central USA will feel downright winterlike over the next few days as a potent snowstorm and bitter cold take aim on the region.

The powerful system is expected to produce heavy snow, as much as 12 inches, from the north-central Rockies into the northern Plains, the National Weather Service said. Winter storm warnings and watches are already widespread across the region, all the way from Idaho to Minnesota. 

Significant travel impacts, tree damage and sporadic power outages will be possible where the heaviest snow occurs, the weather service in Grand Forks, North Dakota, warned.

Both Denver and Minneapolis could see their first snow of the season.

Read this: Raking leaves again this fall? Stop right now

Temperatures will also plunge by as much as 60 degrees in the span of 12 to 24 hours as the cold air swiftly replaces preceding mild conditions, AccuWeather said.

“Within 48 hours, Denver may go from 80 degrees and sunshine on Tuesday to 20 degrees and snow Wednesday night,” AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

The snowstorm will come in two parts: According to AccuWeather, after the first part of the storm clobbers the northern and central Rockies and High Plains into Thursday, the second part of the storm will ramp up over the eastern portions of the Dakotas to western Minnesota late this week.

“There’s a chance blizzard conditions unfold in part of this area as temperatures plummet, winds increase and rain changes to heavy snow to end the week,” Sosnowski said.

Travel could be extremely hazardous, the weather service warned. 

Teeth-chattering cold will also spread across the northern tier of the U.S., all the way from the Northwest to the Midwest. By late in the week, high temperatures may be stuck in the 40s over the northern Great Basin, 30s over a large part of the northern Plains and 20s over parts of the Rockies and northern High Plains, the Weather Channel said. 

A number of daily record lows will be in jeopardy in such cities as Denver; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City. 

Meanwhile in California: Power may be shut off for more than 700,000 customers to prevent wildfires

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/10/08/october-winter-storm-snow-central-united-states/3907570002/

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Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal

A married couple who paid $125,000 to have their daughter’s college entrance exam scores altered so she could get into an elite university was sentenced Tuesday to a month each in prison.

Gregory and Marcia Abbott are the sixth and seventh parents to be sentenced in the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admission scandal that saw wealthy parents pay bribes to get their children into top colleges. They each pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to impose an eight-month sentence and a $40,000 fine. Lawyers for the couple asked for probation and community service.

In addition to prison time, the Abbotts were ordered to pay $45,000 each in fines, perform 250 hours apiece of community service and will remain on supervised release for one year.

LORI LOUGHLIN WAS ‘OBSESSED’ WITH GETTING DAUGHTERS INTO USC, REPORT CLAIMS

Westlake Legal Group AP19277807089047 Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast fox-news/us/crime/trials fox-news/topic/college-admissions-scandal fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Fone 8a7646fa-3bc8-584b-b5d9-6980c29a63d7

Marcia and Gregory Abbott leave federal court after pleading guilty in the college admissions scandal (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Gregory Abbott requested he serve his sentence in a correctional facility near Otisville, N.Y. while his wife requested doing her time near Dublin, Calif. He also asked the judge to stagger the sentences so a parent can remain with their daughter.

Marcia Abbott will report to prison on Nov. 6 and Gregory Abbott on Jan. 3.

Authorities contend the Abbotts paid  $50,000 to have a corrupt test proctor correct their daughter’s ACT exams in 2018 and another $75,000 to rig her SAT subject tests in math and literature. The daughter was unaware of the scheme.

Prosecutors said the couple used the fact that their daughter had Lyme disease to allow her extra time to take the ACT in West Hollywood, Calif, about 1,000 miles from her Aspen, Colo., home.

Marcia Abbott was hoping to use the higher scores to get her daughter into her alma mater, Duke University, according to the Boston Herald.

Gregory Abbott acknowledged his wrongdoing in a Sept. 27. letter to the court.

“I share the same sensibilities as most people and, strange as it may sound, identify with the public outrage over my own actions,” he wrote.

Gregory Abbott lives in New York City while his wife stays in Aspen. He was chairman and CEO of International Dispensing Corp. until taking a leave of absence in March. Marcia Abbott is a former magazine editor and writer.

The scandal has engulfed wealthy couples and celebrities and put a microscope under the college admissions process. Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison last month after admitting to paying $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told a Boston TV station Sunday that he plans to ask for a stiffer sentence for former “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

Both are fighting charges that they paid $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake athletes.

“Let’s say she goes through to trial: If it’s after trial, I think certainly we’d be asking for something substantially higher. If she resolved her case short of trial, something a little lower than that,” Lelling told WCVB-TV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

Westlake Legal Group AP19277807089047 Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast fox-news/us/crime/trials fox-news/topic/college-admissions-scandal fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Fone 8a7646fa-3bc8-584b-b5d9-6980c29a63d7   Westlake Legal Group AP19277807089047 Husband, wife each get one month in jail in college admissions scandal Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast fox-news/us/crime/trials fox-news/topic/college-admissions-scandal fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Fone 8a7646fa-3bc8-584b-b5d9-6980c29a63d7

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More Details Emerge About How White House Officials Reacted To Trump’s Call With Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 5d9cf64d210000a807ac74c7 More Details Emerge About How White House Officials Reacted To Trump’s Call With Ukraine

Two new reports published on Tuesday shed light on the alarm raised in the White House by President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has prompted two whistleblower complaints, a House impeachment investigation and widespread concern across party lines.

The intelligence official who filed the first of the complaints wrote in a two-page memo that a White House official was “visibly shaken” after listening in on the call, according to ABC News.

“The official, who listened to the entirety of the phone call, was visibly shaken by what had transpired and seemed keen to inform a trusted colleague within the U.S. national security apparatus about the call,” the whistleblower wrote in the memo.

The memo noted that the official “described the call as ‘crazy,’ ‘frightening,’ and completely lacking in substance related to national security.”

The official also told the whistleblower that he or she suspected the administration was taking unusual steps to restrict access to documents pertaining to the call. Subsequent reports have indicated the White House did take “remarkable steps” to prevent Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders from being made available to White House officials.

According to the second Tuesday report, at least one National Security Council official and a number of White House aides and lawyers were alarmed after the call and were aware that it might have overstepped the bounds of normal foreign policy.

Trump had ordered that almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine be withheld roughly a week before his phone call with Zelensky. During the conversation, Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate unsubstantiated allegations that Biden used his power as vice president during the Obama administration to kill an investigation into a gas company for which his son worked. 

A National Security Council official alerted White House lawyers about concerns over potential fallout from the call, CNN reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

As concern mounted at the White House, national security lawyers initially moved to block access to a transcript of the call by storing it in a code-word classified server, a move usually reserved for the most sensitive materials pertaining to national security.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in his negotiations with Ukraine, calling all his conversations with the country’s leaders “perfect.” The president also dismissed the first whistleblower’s complaint because he said it contained only secondhand knowledge.

A second whistleblower who is believed to have firsthand knowledge of the allegations has since come forward to speak with the intelligence community’s inspector general.

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White House announces it will not comply with ‘illegitimate and unconstitutional’ impeachment inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092947937001_6092939625001-vs White House announces it will not comply with 'illegitimate and unconstitutional' impeachment inquiry John Roberts Gregg Re fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox news fnc/politics fnc article afd3c50b-4fc4-5a5b-b712-3e0edccdb934

The White House outlined in a defiant eight-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats on Tuesday why it will not participate in their “illegitimate and unconstitutional” impeachment inquiry, charging that the proceedings have run roughshod over congressional norms and the president’s due-process rights.

Trump administration officials called the letter, which was written by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and obtained by Fox News, perhaps the most historic letter the White House has sent. The document tees up a head-on collision with Democrats in Congress, who have fired off a slew of subpoenas in recent days concerning the president’s apparent efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political foe Joe Biden.

“President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process,” the letter stated. “Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. 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 document concluded: “The president has a country to lead. The American people elected him to do this job, and he remains focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people.”

Substantively, the White House first noted in the letter that there has not been a formal vote in the House to open an impeachment inquiry — and that the news conference held by Pelosi last month was insufficient to commence the proceedings.

“In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step,” the letter stated.

It continued: “Without waiting to see what was actually said on the call, a press conference was held announcing an ‘impeachment inquiry’ based on falsehoods and misinformation about the call.”

SCHIFF SAYS ‘WE’ DIDN’T TALK TO WHISTLEBLOWER — THEN BACKTRACKS

Despite Pelosi’s claim that there was no “House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” several previous impeachment inquiries have been launched only by a full vote of the House — including the impeachment proceedings concerning former Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

White House officials told Fox News the vote opening the proceedings was a small ask, considering the implications of potentially overturning a national election.

The letter went on to note that “information has recently come to light that the whistleblower had contact with [House Intelligence Committee] Chairman [Adam] Schiff’s office before filing the complaint,” and that Schiff’s “initial denial of such contact caused The Washington Post to conclude that Chairman Schiff “clearly made a statement that was false.”

The letter added: “In any event, the American people understand that Chairman Schiff cannot covertly assist with the submission of a complaint, mislead the public about his involvement, read a counterfeit version of the call to the American people, and then pretend to sit in judgment as a neutral ‘investigator.'”

The letter then dinged Schiff for reciting a fictional version of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader during a congressional hearing. Schiff later called his statements a “parody.”

“Perhaps the best evidence that there was no wrongdoing on the call is the fact that, after the actual record of the call was released, Chairman Schiff chose to concoct a false version of the call and to read his made-up transcript to the American people at a public hearing,” the letter stated. “The chairman’s action only further undermines the public’s confidence in the fairness of any inquiry before his committee.”

Separately, the letter asserted multiple alleged violations of the president’s due-process rights. It noted that under current impeachment inquiry proceedings, Democrats were not allowing presidential or State Department counsel to be present.

Democrats’ procedures did not provide for the “disclosure of all evidence favorable to the president and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses called to testify in the inquiry,” the letter noted, nor did the procedures afford the president “the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence, and to respond to evidence and testimony.”

Democrats also have not permitted Republicans in the minority to issue subpoenas, contradicting the “standard, bipartisan practice in all recent resolutions authorizing presidential impeachment inquiries.”

“President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

— Pat Cipollone, counsel to President Trump

The letter claimed that House committees have “resorted to threats and intimidation against potential Executive Branch witnesses,” by raising the specter of obstruction of justice when administration employees seek to assert “long-established Executive Branch confidentiality interests and privileges in response to a request for a deposition.”

“Current and former State Department officials are duty bound to protect the confidentiality interests of the Executive Branch, and the Office of Legal Counsel has also recognized that it is unconstitutional to exclude agency counsel from participating in congressional depositions,” the letter stated.

EXCLUSIVE: WHISTLEBLOWER WRITES WH OFFICIAL DESCRIBED TRUMP CALL AS ‘FRIGHTENING’

Additionally, the letter noted that Democrats reportedly were planning to interview the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry at an undisclosed location — contrary, the White House said, to the constitutional notion of being able to confront one’s accuser.

According to a White House official, the bottom line was: “We are not participating in your illegitimate exercise. … If you are legitimately conducting oversight, let us know. But all indications are this is about impeachment.”

The document came as the White House aggressively has parried Democrats’ inquiry efforts. One of the administration’s first moves: the State Department on Tuesday barred Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, from appearing before a House panel conducting the probe into Trump.

GOP INTRODUCES RESOLUTION TO KICK PELOSI OUT OF THE HOUSE

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see,” Trump tweeted.

THE LATEST REPORTING FROM FOX NEWS IN THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY AND UKRAINE CONTROVERSY

The strategy risked further provoking Democrats in the impeachment probe, setting up court challenges and the potential for lawmakers to draw up an article of impeachment accusing Trump of obstructing their investigations. Schiff said Sondland’s no-show would be grounds for obstruction of justice and could give a preview of what some of the articles of impeachment against Trump would entail.

But, as lawmakers sought to amass ammunition to be used in an impeachment trial, the White House increasingly has signaled that all-out warfare was its best course of action.

“What they did to this country is unthinkable. It’s lucky that I’m the president. A lot of people said very few people could handle it. I sort of thrive on it,” Trump said Monday at the White House. “You can’t impeach a president for doing a great job. This is a scam.”

House Democrats, for their part, issued a new round of subpoenas on Monday, this time to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting White House budget director Russell Vought. Pelosi’s office also released an open letter signed by 90 former national security officials who served in administrations from both parties, voicing support for the whistleblower who raised concerns about Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to look into Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

“A responsible whistleblower makes all Americans safer by ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated and addressed, thus advancing the cause of national security to which we have devoted our careers,” they wrote. “Whatever one’s view of the matters discussed in the whistleblower’s complaint, all Americans should be united in demanding that all branches of our government and all outlets of our media protect this whistleblower and his or her identity. Simply put, he or she has done what our law demands; now he or she deserves our protection.”

The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees were investigating Trump’s actions alleging he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, potentially interfering in the 2020 election. The former vice president, for his part, has accused Trump of “frantically pushing flat-out lies, debunked conspiracy theories and smears against me.” And, Biden’s campaign has sought to have Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has accused Biden of possible corruption, removed from the airwaves.

PROOF OF LINKS: PHOTO OBTAINED BY FOX NEWS SHOWS BIDEN GOLFING WITH UKRAINE EXEC

Biden has acknowledged on camera that in spring 2016, when he was vice president and spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings — where Hunter had a lucrative role on the board despite limited relevant expertise. Critics have suggested Hunter Biden’s salary bought access to Biden.

The vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin, who was widely accused of corruption, was not fired.

“Well, son of a b—h, he got fired,” Biden joked at a panel two years after leaving office.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092947937001_6092939625001-vs White House announces it will not comply with 'illegitimate and unconstitutional' impeachment inquiry John Roberts Gregg Re fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox news fnc/politics fnc article afd3c50b-4fc4-5a5b-b712-3e0edccdb934   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6092947937001_6092939625001-vs White House announces it will not comply with 'illegitimate and unconstitutional' impeachment inquiry John Roberts Gregg Re fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox news fnc/politics fnc article afd3c50b-4fc4-5a5b-b712-3e0edccdb934

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Blizzard Suspends Gaming Pro After He Showed Support For Hong Kong Protests

Westlake Legal Group 5d9ce051210000420733df92 Blizzard Suspends Gaming Pro After He Showed Support For Hong Kong Protests

Gaming giant Blizzard booted a professional gamer from one of its tournaments and took away his prize money after the player expressed support for pro-democracy protests happening in Hong Kong. 

“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” said Chung Ng Wai ― or “Blitzchung,” as he’s known in the community ― during a post-game interview on Saturday. Blitzchung had been competing in the online card game Hearthstone’s Asia-Pacific Grandmasters when he made the comment.

On Tuesday, Blizzard suspended Blitzchung for a year and said he had forfeited approximately $10,000 in prize money won in the tournament up to that point, CBS News reported.

Blizzard, the creator of such wildly successful games as World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo, said in its statement that Blitzchung violated a competition rule against engaging in an act that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.”

“After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” the company said.

The two individuals who interviewed Blitzchung on the broadcast were also fired, even though their actions ― they hid their faces ― suggested they were not aware of the gamer’s planned protest. Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost. 

Hong Kong has been rocked for months as thousands of citizens have repeatedly flooded the streets in anti-government protests. What started as demonstrations against a proposed law on extradition to mainland China have widened into a pro-democracy movement against the Chinese government and its efforts to limit Hong Kong’s autonomy. Clashes between protesters and authorities have grown increasingly violent as the demonstrations have intensified, with a viral video from last week showing a Hong Kong police officer shooting a teenage protester in the chest.

The Chinese government recently banned face coverings on protesters. In an apparent reference to that, Blitzchung can be seen in the interview wearing a mask and a pair of goggles.

As CBS noted, Blizzard, a California-based company, is partly owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent. 

Public criticism of the company’s decision has been swift, and the official Blizzard subreddit closed following Blitzchung’s suspension, Kotaku reported. It’s not immediately clear if that closure was in response to the suspension. 

Reddit users upset with Blizzard’s decision have discussed boycotting its games. There’s also online talk of protesting at BlizzCon, the company’s official fan expo, which is set to kick off next month.

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Hillary Clinton admonishes Trump after he urges her to run again: ‘Don’t tempt me’

Westlake Legal Group trump-Clinton-AP Hillary Clinton admonishes Trump after he urges her to run again: 'Don't tempt me' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/media fnc article 5205fd7e-1699-585f-bdee-edd79c47dce2

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had an apparently contemptuous response to President Trump Tuesday after he mocked her and called for her to run again in 2020.

“Don’t tempt me. Do your job,” Clinton tweeted back. Trump had tweeted that Clinton — “The Crooked one” — could return if she explained her “high crimes and misdemeanors,” referring to her email scandal.

“I think that Crooked Hillary Clinton should enter the race to try and steal it away from Uber Left Elizabeth Warren. Only one condition. The Crooked one must explain all of her high crimes and misdemeanors including how & why she deleted 33,000 Emails AFTER getting ‘C’ Subpoena!”

MICHAEL GOODWIN: HILLARY CLINTON NEEDS TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT AGAIN — OR GET OVER IT ALREADY

Clinton famously lost the 2016 presidential election after a long and contentious battle during which Trump repeatedly accused her of wrongdoing and suggested he would prosecute her after winning the White House. Clinton, for her part, later described the email controversy as a “witch hunt.”

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Amid Trump’s tweet, polling showed a tight race between Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Vice President Joe Biden as they vie for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Clinton previously said that she has advised multiple candidates during the primary race. Her Tuesday tweet fueled speculation that she might try and run, although she’s said she wouldn’t. In March, a report surfaced that Clinton hadn’t completely shut the door on 2020 and was waiting for the release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

When Trump tweeted about her possible run, Clinton mocked him with a gif from the movie, “Mean Girls.”

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Clinton previously took responsibility for her 2016 loss but has maintained that other factors — like Russia and former FBI Director James Comey — contributed to her loss. Most recently, she’s gained publicity for releasing a book with her daughter, Chelsea.

During an appearance on “The View,” she backed Congress’ impeachment inquiry, arguing that it was unavoidable after the president tried to “extort” Ukraine into investigating Biden.

Westlake Legal Group trump-Clinton-AP Hillary Clinton admonishes Trump after he urges her to run again: 'Don't tempt me' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/media fnc article 5205fd7e-1699-585f-bdee-edd79c47dce2   Westlake Legal Group trump-Clinton-AP Hillary Clinton admonishes Trump after he urges her to run again: 'Don't tempt me' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/politics fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/media fnc article 5205fd7e-1699-585f-bdee-edd79c47dce2

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NBA Commissioner Says Free Speech Remains Vital After Rift With China

TOKYO (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league is not apologizing for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet showing support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, even after China’s state broadcaster canceled plans to show a pair of preseason games in that country later this week.

Silver, speaking Tuesday at a news conference in Tokyo before a preseason game between the Rockets and NBA champion Toronto Raptors, went as far as to say that he and the league are “apologetic” that so many Chinese officials and fans were upset by Morey’s tweet and comments that followed — but insisted that Morey has the right to freedom of expression.

“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees,” Silver said. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”

Among those consequences: CCTV said it would not show the games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, who will play Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen. Basketball is wildly popular in China and those two teams — largely because of LeBron James starring for the Lakers and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s co-founder Joe Tsai now owning the Nets — almost certainly would have been a huge television draw.

“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” CCTV said in a statement. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.”

The broadcaster is also reviewing all its cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA, said the statement posted to CCTV Sports’ official social media account.

Westlake Legal Group 5d9cea1f210000f407ac6ed4 NBA Commissioner Says Free Speech Remains Vital After Rift With China

VCG via Getty Images SHANGHAI, CHINA – JULY 20: (CHINA OUT) Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey attends Yao Ming’s press conference announcing his retirement from basketball on July 20, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images)

The NBA is not the first major corporation to deal with criticism from China over political differences. Mercedes-Benz, Delta Air Lines, hotel operator Marriott, fashion brand Zara and others also have found themselves in conflicts with China in recent years.

Silver is going to Shanghai on Wednesday and said he hopes to meet with officials and some of the league’s business partners there in an effort to find some sort of common ground. He said he hopes Chinese officials and fans look at the totality of the impact of the three-decade-plus relationship between the league and their country, and urged them to see his response while acknowledging there are political differences between the countries.

“I’m sympathetic to our interests here and our partners that are upset,” Silver said. “I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles.”

Silver said the NBA did not expect CCTV to cancel plans to show the Lakers-Nets games. “But if those are the consequences of us adhering to our values, I still feel it’s very, very important to adhere to those values,” Silver said.

The rift between China and the NBA started late last week when Morey tweeted a now-deleted image that read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” in reference to months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the semiautonomous Chinese territory that has been mired in escalating violence between protesters and law enforcement.

Efforts were quickly made to defuse the impact; Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Morey does not speak for the Rockets, and Morey returned to Twitter on Monday in an effort to clarify his meaning. But damage was clearly done: At least one Chinese sporting goods company said it was no longer cooperating with the Rockets, NBA streaming partner Tencent ― which has a $1.5 billion contract with the league over the next five seasons ― said it would not show Rockets games and a sports news website in China said it was no longer covering the team.

Further complicating the matter is this: China’s best-known basketball player is Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who spent his NBA career with the Rockets. Yao is now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has said it is suspending its relationship with the Rockets as part of the response to Morey’s tweet. The CBA also canceled plans to have the G League affiliates from Houston and Dallas play preseason games in China later this month.

“I’m hoping that together Yao Ming and I can find an accommodation,” Silver said. “But he is extremely hot at the moment, and I understand it.”

A ceremonial NBA Cares event for an educational center in Shanghai with the Nets was canceled Tuesday, though the Nets participated in other events as scheduled. The Lakers were arriving there Tuesday. Silver said NBA Cares would still honor its bigger mission surrounding that event, including providing a gift of new computers.

“How can it be possible to carry out exchanges and cooperation with China without knowing China’s public opinion?” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday. “NBA’s cooperation with China has been going on for quite a long time, so for what should be said and what should be done, they know best.”

Silver also released a statement before his news conference, saying “those who question our motivation” should know that the NBA’s stance is about more than business. Many U.S. lawmakers have called for the league to take action — some even suggesting the games in China should be canceled by the NBA.

“We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression,” Silver said. “I regret — again, having communicated directly with many friends in China — that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans. At the end of the day, we come with basketball as an opportunity to sell dreams, sell hopes … that we are causing disruption in people’s lives and that we are causing disharmony, that’s something I regret.”

Reynolds reported from Miami. Associated Press writer Yanan Wang and AP researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.

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