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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 36)

How Not to Plot Secret Foreign Policy: On a Cellphone and WhatsApp

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-rudycyber1-facebookJumbo How Not to Plot Secret Foreign Policy: On a Cellphone and WhatsApp United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Taylor, William B Jr Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Nuland, Victoria J National Security Council Morrison, Timothy A (1978- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Cyberwarfare and Defense

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor at the center of the impeachment investigation into the conduct of Ukraine policy, makes a living selling cybersecurity advice through his companies. President Trump even named him the administration’s first informal “cybersecurity adviser.”

But inside the National Security Council, officials expressed wonderment that Mr. Giuliani was running his “irregular channel” of Ukraine diplomacy over open cell lines and communications apps in Ukraine that the Russians have deeply penetrated.

In his testimony to the House impeachment inquiry, Tim Morrison, who is leaving as the National Security Council’s head of Europe and Russia, recalled expressing astonishment to William B. Taylor Jr., who was sitting in as the chief American diplomat in Ukraine, that the leaders of the “irregular channel” seemed to have little concern about revealing their conversations to Moscow.

“He and I discussed a lack of, shall we say, OPSEC, that much of Rudy’s discussions were happening over an unclassified cellphone or, perhaps as bad, WhatsApp messages, and therefore you can only imagine who else knew about them,” Mr. Morrison testified. OPSEC is the government’s shorthand for operational security.

He added: “I remember being focused on the fact that there were text messages, the fact that Rudy was having all of these phone calls over unclassified media,” he added. “And I found that to be highly problematic and indicative of someone who didn’t really understand how national security processes are run.”

WhatsApp notes that its traffic is encrypted, meaning that even if it is intercepted in transit, it is of little use — which is why intelligence agencies, including the Russians, are working diligently to get inside phones to read the messages after they are deciphered.

But far less challenging is figuring out the message of Mr. Giuliani’s partner, Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, who held an open cellphone conversation with Mr. Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine, apparently loud enough for his table mates to overhear. And Mr. Trump’s own cellphone use has led American intelligence officials to conclude that the Chinese — with whom he is negotiating a huge trade deal, among other sensitive topics — are doubtless privy to the president’s conversations.

But Ukraine is a particularly acute case. It is the country where the Russians have so deeply compromised the communications network that in 2014 they posted on the internet conversations between a top Obama administration diplomat, Victoria Nuland, and the United States ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Geoffrey R. Pyatt. Their intent was to portray the Americans — not entirely inaccurately — as trying to manage the ouster of a corrupt, pro-Russian president of Ukraine.

The incident made Ms. Nuland, who left the State Department soon after Mr. Trump’s election, “Patient Zero” in the Russian information-warfare campaign against the United States, before Moscow’s interference in the American presidential election.

But it also served as a warning that if you go to Ukraine, stay off communications networks that Moscow wired.

That advice would seem to apply especially to Mr. Giuliani, who speaks around the world on cybersecurity issues. Ukraine was the petri dish for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the place where he practiced the art of trying to change vote counts, initiating information warfare and, in two celebrated incidents, turning out the lights in parts of the country.

Mr. Giuliani, impeachment investigators were told, was Mr. Trump’s interlocutor with the new Ukrainian government about opening investigations into the president’s political opponents. The simultaneous suspension of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which some have testified was on Mr. Trump’s orders, fulfilled Moscow’s deepest wish at a moment of ground war in eastern Ukraine, and a daily, grinding cyberwar in the capital.

It remains unknown why the Russians have not made any of these conversations public, assuming they possess them. But inside the intelligence agencies, the motives of Russian intelligence officers is a subject of heated speculation.

A former senior American intelligence official speculated that one explanation is that Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Sondland were essentially doing the Russians’ work for them. Holding up military aid — for whatever reason — assists the Russian “gray war” in eastern Ukraine and sows doubts in Kyiv, also known as Kiev in the Russian transliteration, that the United States is wholly supportive of Ukraine, a fear that many State Department and National Security Council officials have expressed in testimony.

But Mr. Giuliani also was stoking an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Mr. Putin has engaged in, suggesting that someone besides Russia — in this telling, Ukrainian hackers who now supposedly possess a server that once belonged to the Democratic National Committee — was responsible for the hacking that ran from 2015 to 2016.

Mr. Trump raised this possibility in his July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. It was not the first time he had cast doubt on Russia’s involvement: In a call to a New York Times reporter moments after meeting Mr. Putin for the first time in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017, Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Putin’s view that Russia is so good at cyberoperations that it would have never been caught. “That makes sense, doesn’t it?” he asked.

He expressed doubts again in 2018, in a news conference with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland. That was only days after the Justice Department indicted a dozen Russian intelligence officers for their role in the hack; the administration will not say if it now believes that indictment was flawed because there is evidence that Ukranians were responsible.

Whether or not he believes Ukraine was involved, Mr. Giuliani certainly understood the risks of talking on open lines, particularly in a country with an active cyberwar. As a former prosecutor, he knows what the United States and its adversaries can intercept. In more recent years, he has spoken around the world on cybersecurity challenges. And as the president’s lawyer, he was a clear target.

Mr. Giuliani said in a phone interview Monday that nothing he talked about on the phone or in texts was classified. “All of my conversations, I can say uniformly, were on an unclassified basis,” he said.

His findings about what happened in Ukraine were “generated from my own investigations” and had nothing to do with the United States government, he said, until he was asked to talk with Kurt D. Volker, then the special envoy for Ukraine, in a conversation that is now part of the impeachment investigation. Mr. Volker will testify in public on Tuesday.

Mr. Giuliani said that he never “conducted a shadow foreign policy, I conducted a defense of my client,” Mr. Trump. “The State Department apparatchiks are all upset that I intervened at all,” he said, adding that he was the victim of “wild accusations.”

Mr. Sondland is almost as complex a case. While he is new to diplomacy, he is the owner of a boutique set of hotels and certainly is not unaware of cybersecurity threats, since the hotel industry is a major target, as Marriott learned a year ago.

But Mr. Sondland held a conversation with Mr. Trump last summer in a busy restaurant in Kyiv, surrounded by other American officials. Testimony indicates Mr. Trump’s voice was loud enough for others at the table to hear.

But in testimony released Monday night, David Holmes, a veteran Foreign Service officer who is posted to the American Embassy in Kyiv, and who witnessed the phone call between the president and Mr. Sondland, suggested that the Russians heard it even if they were not out on the town that night.

Asked if there was a risk of the Russians listening in, Mr. Holmes said, “I believe at least two of the three, if not all three of the mobile networks are owned by Russian companies, or have significant stakes in those.”

“We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored,” he said.

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White House Denies Trump Health Emergency

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-trump1-facebookJumbo White House Denies Trump Health Emergency United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Reed, Walter, National Military Medical Center Diet and Nutrition Cholesterol

WASHINGTON — The White House sought on Monday night to quell a torrent of speculation about President Trump’s health two days after a mysterious, unannounced visit to the hospital, denying that he was treated for an emergency and insisting that it was just “regular, primary preventive care.”

“Despite some of the speculation, the president has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues,” Cmdr. Sean P. Conley, the president’s Navy physician, wrote in a memo released by the White House in an unusual late-night statement. “Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.”

Mr. Trump was taken on Saturday to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in his motorcade in a trip that had not been listed on his public schedule. He stayed for about two hours for what White House officials said were routine tests, but since the visit had not been revealed in advance and came only nine months after his last annual physical, it touched off much discussion about whether the president had an undisclosed health issue.

Mr. Trump, 73, is the oldest man ever sworn in for a first term as president, and he is not known for a healthy diet or exercise other than weekend golf. At his February checkup, he weighed in at 243 pounds, which is considered obese for a man of his reported height of 6-foot-3. He has been reported in the past to be taking rosuvastatin, a lipid-lowering drug, to control his cholesterol.

Dr. Conley reported that his latest test showed Mr. Trump’s cholesterol at 165, down from 196 in February. His LDL has fallen to 84, from 122, while his HDL was 70, up from 58. The doctor did not release results of any other tests, if conducted, including an updated weight.

In his memo, Dr. Conley called Saturday’s visit “a routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year.” He said it was not announced in advance “due to scheduling uncertainties,” without explaining further.

Dr. Conley also made no mention of whether Mr. Trump underwent a routine colonoscopy, which his physician at the time said in January 2018 would be conducted at his next regular exam. The president’s doctors did not say in February whether he had one then.

After the February exam, Dr. Conley described Mr. Trump as being in “very good health.” He made no characterization one way or the other in Monday night’s statement, but brushed off concerns generated by the Saturday visit.

“Primary preventative medical care is something that occurs continuously throughout the year, it is not just a single annual event,” Dr. Conley said. “As such, I will continue to monitor the president’s health, planning on a more comprehensive examination after the new year.”

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Ex-Envoy to Testify He Didn’t Know Ukraine Aid Was Tied to Investigations

Westlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACH-facebookJumbo Ex-Envoy to Testify He Didn’t Know Ukraine Aid Was Tied to Investigations Zelensky, Volodymyr Volker, Kurt D Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Senate Johnson, Ron (1955- ) impeachment Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, plans to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that he was out of the loop at key moments during President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to turn up damaging information about Democrats, according to an account of his prepared testimony.

As the House Intelligence Committee opens its second week of public impeachment hearings, Mr. Volker will say that he did not realize that others working for Mr. Trump were tying American security aid to a commitment to investigate Democrats. His testimony, summarized by a person informed about it who insisted on anonymity to describe it in advance, will seek to reconcile his previous closed-door description of events with conflicting versions offered subsequently by other witnesses.

Mr. Volker will be one of four witnesses appearing before the committee on Tuesday as it ramps up its investigation into the president’s effort to extract domestic political help from a foreign power while holding up $391 million in American security aid. The committee, which already had eight witnesses set for this week, added a ninth on Monday by calling David Holmes, a senior American Embassy official in Ukraine who overheard a conversation in which Mr. Trump asked about whether Ukraine was going to agree to carry out the investigations he wanted.

Mr. Trump, who remained out of public sight on Monday for the third straight day, wrote on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Ms. Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

While Gerald R. Ford testified in 1974 about his decision to pardon Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton responded in writing to questions from the House when it investigated him for perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998, no president has testified in person in his own defense in an impeachment hearing. Mr. Trump, who enjoys flashes of showmanship, appeared intrigued by the possibility.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Mr. Trump wrote.

That does not mean he will actually agree to do so, however. During the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into ties between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign, the president repeatedly suggested he might testify in person, but ultimately refused to do so and instead submitted written answers drafted with the help of his lawyers.

On Monday, the top lawyer for House Democrats said in a legal filing that impeachment investigators are exploring whether Mr. Trump lied in those written answers to Mr. Mueller.

The addition of Mr. Holmes to the witness list follows a closed-door deposition he gave Friday describing a cellphone conversation he listened to in July. While sitting on the outdoor patio of a restaurant in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital also known as Kiev, Mr. Holmes said he heard the president ask Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, if President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine would move forward with the investigations Mr. Trump sought.

Late Monday, the House Intelligence Committee released transcripts of the testimony of Mr. Holmes and David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs.

Mr. Holmes called the cellphone conversation he overheard in Kyiv between the president and Mr. Sondland “remarkable,” and he testified that it was clear to him that officials in Ukraine “gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something in exchange for the meeting and the security assistance hold being lifted.” His account underscored that, contrary to Mr. Trump’s claim that Ukraine’s leaders never knew American aid was being withheld, top officials there were well aware that it was, and that they had to do what the president wanted before they could receive it.

Mr. Holmes gave a vivid account of the cellphone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, and of a subsequent conversation in which the ambassador told Mr. Holmes that Mr. Trump did not care about Ukraine, only about “big things,” such as investigations of the Bidens.

“There’s just so much about the call that was so remarkable that I remember it vividly,” Mr. Holmes said, according to the transcript. He said he recounted the conversation to his boss at the embassy after the lunch and said she was “shocked” by it. Mr. Holmes said that in morning embassy staff meetings, he would often refer back to the call as a way of trying to explain Mr. Trump’s reluctance to schedule a White House meeting with Mr. Zelensky.

“I would say, ‘Well, as we know, he doesn’t really care about Ukraine. He cares about some other things,’” Mr. Holmes testified.

Mr. Hale offered new details about deliberations within the State Department over the recall of Marie L. Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine. By the end of March, he said the department was debating whether to issue a statement of support for her amid unrelenting attacks by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and others.

In his testimony, Mr. Hale said that he had reviewed two call records indicating that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke directly with Mr. Giuliani on March 28 and 29. He did not know the content of the calls. He also believed that Mr. Pompeo had called Sean Hannity, the conservative Fox News commentator.

Mr. Hale said that he advocated a strong statement of support, but that ultimately, no statement was issued because officials believed it would make things worse. “Our plan at that point was to try to contain this and wait it out,” he said. Mr. Hale is scheduled to testify publicly on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Holmes will sit at the witness table beside Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the National Security Council, when the committee convenes its final hearing of a jam-packed week on Thursday.

Republicans previewed an early rebuttal on Monday in the form of a meandering but at times caustic 11-page letter from Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. On the eve of testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a national security aide, Mr. Johnson suggested the colonel perhaps participated “in the ongoing effort to sabotage” the president’s policies “and if possible, remove him from office.”

“I believe that a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style,” Mr. Johnson wrote, later adding, “It is entirely possible Vindman fits this profile.”

The letter comes after the top Republicans on the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees requested Mr. Johnson provide them with “any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.” The Wisconsin Republican traveled to Ukraine as part of a delegation attending Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration this year and joined phone calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, who is to testify publicly on Wednesday.

The senator has said that after Mr. Sondland told him the security aid was linked to investigations, he confronted Mr. Trump in a phone call in late August. The president, Mr. Johnson said, flatly denied it so vigorously that he uttered a number of curse words and insisted that he “barely knew” Mr. Sondland.

The hearings on Tuesday will start with a morning panel featuring Mr. Vindman and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who were both disturbed when Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But the afternoon panel will give Republicans their first chance to question witnesses they believe will undercut the allegations. Mr. Volker has previously said he knew of no quid pro quo between the security aid and the investigations. Tim Morrison, a former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, has said he found nothing inherently problematic about the July 25 call, although he testified that he was concerned that it might leak out and cause political problems.

Still, both have also provided testimony harmful to the president. Mr. Volker has said he warned Mr. Giuliani that there was nothing to the issues he wanted investigated. And Mr. Morrison has said Mr. Sondland told the Ukrainians that the release of the aid was probably tied to the investigations, forcing Mr. Sondland to revise his testimony and confirm that.

Mr. Volker will modify his account as well, addressing disparities between his testimony and that of other witnesses. While he has been lumped together with Mr. Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry as “the three amigos” working on behalf of the president, he plans to try to distinguish his role, insisting that he was not part of any inappropriate pressure and that he was unaware of certain events that he has only now learned about through other testimony.

In his testimony on Tuesday, according to the person informed about it, Mr. Volker plans to say that he never knew that Mr. Sondland told the Ukrainians that the aid and investigations were linked and that he did not know that Mr. Zelensky was being pressed to appear on CNN and announce that he would open the investigations Mr. Trump sought.

He also will seek to explain why his description of a key July 10 meeting in the White House with Ukrainian officials differed from those provided by several others. According to other witnesses, John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, abruptly ended the meeting when Mr. Sondland raised the investigations. Mr. Sondland then took the Ukrainians downstairs to the White House Ward Room, where he also discussed investigations.

Ms. Hill testified that she challenged Mr. Sondland about that in the Ward Room and later reported the conversation back to Mr. Bolton, who instructed her to tell a White House lawyer and make clear that he wanted nothing to do with the “drug deal” Mr. Sondland was devising.

Mr. Volker, who offered a blander description of the meeting in his original testimony, plans to say on Tuesday that he does not challenge any of the new testimony but did not remember hearing the comments. He plans to say that he may have been talking with Mr. Perry at the time and simply missed the exchanges.

He also will address his past statement that he was not aware of any effort to urge Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden specifically, even though others have testified that Mr. Volker was part of conversations involving Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that had been investigated for corruption and that put Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, on its board.

Mr. Volker plans to tell lawmakers that while others interpreted any mention of Burisma to be synonymous with the Bidens, he did not make that assumption, perhaps because he was more steeped in Ukraine and the company’s role there, not focused on domestic American politics.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

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Houston Police Department changes dress code to allow religious clothing in honor of fallen Sikh deputy

The Houston Police department announced Monday that the department is changing its dress code policy to be more inclusive in honor of a fallen Sikh deputy.

The department will now accommodate Sikh officers by letting them wear their articles of faith while on duty, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. The announcement was made at a news conference on Monday morning.

The city of Houston tweeted that “Houston Police is now the largest law enforcement agency in Texas to adopt a policy allowing officers to wear articles of faith on duty.”

“I know that Sikhs have a proud history as first responders & members of the military. #HPD [Houston Police Department] can be their home,” Turner said.

Sandeep Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and its first Sikh deputy, was shot multiple times while conducting a traffic stop in September.

TRAILBLAZING SIKH DEPUTY SHOT AND KILLED DURING TEXAS TRAFFIC STOP 

Dhaliwal’s dashboard camera captured video that showed the officer speaking with the driver in what appeared to be a conversational tone with “no combat, no arguing,” Sheriff’s Maj. Mike Lee said. The driver’s door was opened at one point, and Dhaliwal shut it as the driver remained in the vehicle. When Dhaliwal turned to walk back to his patrol car, the driver steps from the car “almost immediately running with a gun already out,” Lee said. The driver shot the deputy from behind, hitting him in the back of the head. The driver got back in his car and drove away.

Dhaliwal, 42, was pronounced dead at an area hospital. The deputy was a father of three children.

“Deputy Dhaliwal taught us all a valuable lesson about inclusion. It was an honor to know him,” Turner said on Monday.

The sheriff had implemented a religious accommodation policy that allowed Dhaliwal to wear the traditional turban and beard of the Sikh religion.

“We know the spirit, the soul, the delight that that man emitted,” Fox 26 reported Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

TEXAS KIDS PLAYING ‘HIDE AND SEEK’ FIND A BODY, POLICE SAY

Dhaliwal was known as being one of the first law enforcement officers in the nation to wear his turban while on the job, the station reported.

Westlake Legal Group Deputy-Sandeep-Dhaliwal Houston Police Department changes dress code to allow religious clothing in honor of fallen Sikh deputy Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us fox news fnc/us fnc fe15af78-946a-54f0-b068-723ec94a9e4a article

Sandeep Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and its first Sikh deputy, was shot multiple times from behind while conducting a traffic stop in September. (Harris County Sheriff’s Office)

“We have seen Sikhs across the country proud to show their children that here in America, Sikhs can serve as an officer in the law enforcement without compromising their faith,” the television station reported Kiran Kaur Gill of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund said.

“What it really means to people like me is: we love you, we respect you, and your turban is a part of the fabric of this nation,” Army Reserve Lt. Col. Kamal Singh Kalsi of New Jersey reportedly said.

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Robert Solis, 47, had been charged with capital murder in Dhaliwal’s death, according to the sheriff’s office. Solis was wanted on a parole violation warrant dating back to January 2017, when he was reportedly accused of threatening his girlfriend and possessing a prohibited weapon, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. Click2Houston reported that Solis was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in 2002 for aggravated kidnapping but was released on parole in 2014. His parole would have expired in 2022.

Fox News’ Melissa Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Deputy-Sandeep-Dhaliwal Houston Police Department changes dress code to allow religious clothing in honor of fallen Sikh deputy Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us fox news fnc/us fnc fe15af78-946a-54f0-b068-723ec94a9e4a article   Westlake Legal Group Deputy-Sandeep-Dhaliwal Houston Police Department changes dress code to allow religious clothing in honor of fallen Sikh deputy Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us fox news fnc/us fnc fe15af78-946a-54f0-b068-723ec94a9e4a article

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Mark Levin: Founding Fathers had ‘grave concerns’ House would go ‘rogue’ with impeachment

Westlake Legal Group Mark-Levin1 Mark Levin: Founding Fathers had 'grave concerns' House would go 'rogue' with impeachment fox-news/science/archaeology/history fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 84eedb1b-2b35-5244-92db-377c3f351641

Life, Liberty & Levin” host Mark Levin said on Monday’s edition of “The Mark Levin Show on Westwood One” that the framers of the Constitution foresaw the possibility that a future House of Representatives would go “rogue” when it came to the impeachment of a president.

At the time of America’s founding, the Senate was intended to be elected by state legislators, while members of the House would be elected by popular vote of each district.

Levin said the founders thought long and hard about how to — and in some cases whether or not to — craft the impeachment process.

“One of the grave concerns during the debate over the impeachment clause at the Constitutional Convention … was what you see today,” he said.

DEMOCRATS’ SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST TRUMP SPARKED WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN UKRAINE, NUNES SAYS

“One of the objections to impeachment at all was that the president is up for election on a cyclical basis — should he choose, or she, to run [for] more than one term — so the people would be the ultimate judge.”

However, the founders writ large rejected that argument and decided to implement a process for removing a president if a grave act was committed.

At the same time, they were concerned about the House of Representatives using a simple majority vote to summarily remove a president.

“They were looking at monarchies, and when they looked back at British history,” Levin said. “They saw the tyranny of monarchy but they also saw the tyranny of mobocracy, because there were times the Parliament was tyrannical”

REP. DINA TITUS SLAMS TRUMP AT NEVADA CONFERENCE: ‘I’D LIKE TO IMPEACH THE BASTARD RIGHT NOW’

“This is why our founders didn’t create a Parliament … they created a republic.”

To prevent the House of Representatives from removing a president they simply disagreed with politically with or wanted to “harass,” as Levin put it, the Founding Fathers prescribed the Senate to be a “check” on the House’s actions. A two-thirds vote to convict and remove is not insurmountable but is not intended to be an easy threshold either, the former Reagan White House official said.

“What if the House of Representatives goes rogue? What if they just want to harass they guy? They thought about this.”

“They said, ‘we cannot allow a situation where a president of the United States either follows what the House of Representatives says or he’s impeached. The president is answerable to the people,'” he continued.

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Levin said the Democrat-run House’s leaders of the impeachment inquiry — Reps. Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi — like to talk about President Trump allegedly misusing his power but never reflect on their legislature’s own actions.

“The framers didn’t want a House of Representatives of the sort we have today — a mob that rejects all experience, all history and just plows ahead,” he said.

“Why reject witnesses? Why prevent the president’s lawyer from participating?… Why cover up the individual who started it all? No — not the whistleblower — Adam Schiff,” Levin added.

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Later in the program, Levin revisited the 1868 impeachment of then-President Andrew Johnson.

A Tennessee Democrat, Johnson — who had a history of racist statements and sentiments — was not as respected as Republican Abraham Lincoln, whom Johnson succeeded when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

Levin said the Republican-controlled House and Senate did not like Johnson, who among other perceived indiscretions incensed the GOP by trying to terminate the tenure of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a respected Lincoln holdover.

The House impeached Johnson on grounds that violated the Tenure of Office Act by dismissing Stanton. However, Johnson was spared a Senate conviction by a narrow margin.

Levin said many now consider the Johnson impeachment a politically motivated blemish on the House of Representatives.

Westlake Legal Group Mark-Levin1 Mark Levin: Founding Fathers had 'grave concerns' House would go 'rogue' with impeachment fox-news/science/archaeology/history fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 84eedb1b-2b35-5244-92db-377c3f351641   Westlake Legal Group Mark-Levin1 Mark Levin: Founding Fathers had 'grave concerns' House would go 'rogue' with impeachment fox-news/science/archaeology/history fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 84eedb1b-2b35-5244-92db-377c3f351641

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Newt Gingrich: Pelosi, Schiff and Democrats ‘living out their fantasies’ with impeachment inquiry

Westlake Legal Group Gingrich-Hannity Newt Gingrich: Pelosi, Schiff and Democrats 'living out their fantasies' with impeachment inquiry Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 5f6d40b1-9689-5be8-acb3-1a531fde3595

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Monday, saying they were “living out their fantasies” through the Trump impeachment inquiry.

“They have an absolute deep, passionate need … I would argue a pathological need, to try to destroy the president, even if in the process they cripple themselves,” Gingrich said on “Hannity.” “This is a drama in which Schiff and Pelosi and others are living out their fantasies largely out of desperation, because I think deep down, they think Trump is going to get reelected.”

‘CANNOT BE TRUE’ — MAJOR INCONSISTENCY EMERGES IN BILL TAYLOR’S TESTIMONY

Gingrich also claimed Democrats do not care about “facts” or “arguments,” added that the whole proceedings weren’t “real.”

“They’re just faced with a nightmare. And so none of this stuff is real. People shouldn’t judge it as real,” Gingrich said. “It’s a theater and it’s a theater of hate [for] Trump led by Schiff and Pelosi.”

The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first of five hearings Tuesday morning. Eight witnesses — including several who have provided inconsistent accounts of key events — are set to testify over three days in what could be a make-or-break week in House Democrats‘ impeachment investigation.

To add to the drama, President Trump tweeted Monday he would “strongly consider” testifying or providing written answers to questions after Pelosi challenged him to testify before Congress if he wants to set the record straight.

On Monday, Gingrich argued the inquiry would ultimately affect the American news media the most.

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“I think the biggest impact, ironically, may be the destruction of the American news media,” Gingrich said. “Over 50 percent of the country now sees the news media as deliberately anti-Trump, having no interest in the facts, not covering the news, [and] serving as propaganda.”

“I mean, the news media today is weaker than it’s been at any time in my lifetime,” Gingrich added. “And that ultimately is a huge disadvantage for the Democrats because the Democrats are in a position where they need the news media to be believable.”

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Gingrich-Hannity Newt Gingrich: Pelosi, Schiff and Democrats 'living out their fantasies' with impeachment inquiry Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 5f6d40b1-9689-5be8-acb3-1a531fde3595   Westlake Legal Group Gingrich-Hannity Newt Gingrich: Pelosi, Schiff and Democrats 'living out their fantasies' with impeachment inquiry Victor Garcia fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 5f6d40b1-9689-5be8-acb3-1a531fde3595

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Climate Change Is So Real There’s A New Pokémon Based On Dead Coral

Climate change has begun to wreak so much havoc around the globe that references to the phenomenon have started to pop up in the most unlikely of places. The latest instance: The newest entry in the Pokémon franchise features a creature based on dead coral that was “wiped out” by sudden global warming.

The Pokémon, a coral-like being known as Corsola, first appeared in the 1999 generation of the flagship games and has appeared in various versions ever since. But this month’s highly anticipated games in Pokémon Sword and Shield feature a new variation of the creature specific to the generation’s Galar region in the Pokémon world.

The Galarian version of Corsola is bleached white, mouth in a frown and is now a “ghost”-type Pokémon.

“Sudden climate change wiped out this ancient kind of Corsola,” a description of the Pokémon, which is found exclusively in the Shield version of the game, reads. “This Pokémon absorbs others’ life-force through its branches.”

Westlake Legal Group 5dd35467210000bc6f34d548 Climate Change Is So Real There’s A New Pokémon Based On Dead Coral

Pokémon Sword / Tristan Davis The Galar variant of the Corsola Pokémon.

The Pokémon Co. International declined to comment on its decision to include a creature linked to climate change.

The company has regularly included bizarre creatures with links to the real world as it has expanded the compendium of Pokémon to more than 800. There are beings based on bags of trash, melted candles, ice cream cones and an anthropomorphic ring of keys.

But the inclusion of a coral Pokémon based on the planet’s endangered sea life is a bleak new frontier.

The planet’s coral reefs are in a dire state, spurred by runaway climate change researches have urgently warned must be stopped. As much as half of the world’s coral has disappeared since 1980, and a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that climate change is heating the oceans so dramatically that the planet is changing in “unprecedented ways.”

Corals become bleached under stress as the colorful algae that live inside them leave, often when water temperatures become too hot. The coral is left ghostly white but can often fully recover. But if temperatures remain too high, the creatures are effectively cooked to death, leaving mass graveyards just beneath the surface of the ocean.

Recently, mass bleaching events have hit structures around the globe with increased regularity, prompting scientists to toll alarm bells about the future of coral reefs.

<img class="image__src" src="https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5dd355b72500006010d2d762.png?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale" alt="The original version of Corsola was a "coral" type b”>

The planet’s most iconic reef system, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, has been struggling for years after back-to-back mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. The events left large swaths of the reef dying or dead, and scientist likened the episode to an underwater apocalypse.

Things have not improved in recent years. The federal agency that oversees the reef downgraded its outlook for the structure from “poor” to “very poor” in August, warning that climate change was dramatically escalating and had become the “most significant threat” to the region’s long-term stability.

“Without additional local, national and global action on the greatest threats, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem will remain very poor, with continuing consequences for its heritage values,” the report, written by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, stated. “The window of opportunity to improve the Reef’s long-term future is now.”

UNESCO, the United Nations’ body that oversees the planet’s most iconic sites, is set to determine the Great Barrier’s future status as a World Heritage Site next year.

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‘Meth. We’re on it’ campaign rolls out in South Dakota to confusion, ridicule

Westlake Legal Group Meth-Campaign-logo 'Meth. We're on it' campaign rolls out in South Dakota to confusion, ridicule Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/south-dakota fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox news fnc/us fnc article 22f57824-396f-57f4-bdd0-64202fdb567b

An anti-drug campaign in South Dakota intended to steer viewers away from crystal methamphetamine instead inspired a backlash and ridicule.

The $1.4 million campaign, featuring people saying, “Meth, I’m on it,” in coffee shops, and on a football field, paid nearly $500,000 to Broadhead Co., the Minnesota-based ad agency that created the tagline.

“We didn’t want this to look like every other anti-drug campaign,” said Laurie Gill, the secretary for the Department of Social Services, which oversaw the campaign.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, described the state’s methamphetamine epidemic in a video announcing the campaign rollout, saying the problem was “growing at an alarming rate.”

AOC TWEETS IN FAVOR OF LEGALIZING POT — DAY AFTER SKEPTICAL BIDEN SAYS HE WANTS MORE DATA

“This is our problem, and together, we need to get on it,” she said. “It is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity while destroying people and their families.”

Some users online were not as enthusiastic about the campaign as Noem.

One Twitter user asked if South Dakota was actually advertising the drug as opposed to deterring its use.

“Is South Dakota trying to advertise meth?” the post read.

“The only way to explain South Dakota’s new anti-Meth ads is that everyone involved in their creation is on meth,” wrote another.

“Surprising anti-meth campaign in South Dakota. With the theme “Meth. I’m on it,” what could go wrong?” one post read.

Noem defended the campaign, saying “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working…”

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The campaign is expected to run through May and include a website, billboards and television. Gill justified the price paid to Broadhead Co., by saying meth addiction in her state is a “huge issue.”

The state has seen an uptick in meth use by 12- to 17-year-olds in the last year that is double the national average. From 2014 to 2018, the number of people in the state seeking treatment for meth addiction has doubled.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group Meth-Campaign-logo 'Meth. We're on it' campaign rolls out in South Dakota to confusion, ridicule Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/south-dakota fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox news fnc/us fnc article 22f57824-396f-57f4-bdd0-64202fdb567b   Westlake Legal Group Meth-Campaign-logo 'Meth. We're on it' campaign rolls out in South Dakota to confusion, ridicule Louis Casiano fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/south-dakota fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox news fnc/us fnc article 22f57824-396f-57f4-bdd0-64202fdb567b

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Gisele Bundchen, daughter Vivian look nearly identical in throwback photo

Westlake Legal Group Gisele-Bundchen-ATV Gisele Bundchen, daughter Vivian look nearly identical in throwback photo Nate Day fox-news/person/tom-brady fox-news/entertainment/genres/family fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c81e821c-48fb-5e11-a335-c62e28e8ecac article

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen’s latest throwback picture will have you seeing double.

Bundchen, 39, took to Instagram to share a side-by-side photo of herself as a child and her 6-year-old daughter, Vivian.

“Do you guys think my baby girl and I look alike?” the caption read.

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The two share obvious similarities, right down to the hairstyle. The only difference in the photo seems to be Bunchen’s Cabbage Patch Doll.

Fans caught on quickly, confessing their astonishment in the comments.

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“Completely like mama,” one user commented.

Another person jokingly said: “No resemblance whatsoever @gisele,” before admitting, “Totally twins 👯‍♂️ 😘”

Bundchen’s celebrity friends were quick to comment as well, among them, her NFL star husband, Tom Brady.

“Girlie Girls ❤️ ❤️” he said.

Sportscaster Erin Andrews commented, “Oh my gosh!!! ❤️❤️”

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Bundchen is also mother to Benjamin, 9, and stepmother to Jack, 12.

Westlake Legal Group Gisele-Bundchen-ATV Gisele Bundchen, daughter Vivian look nearly identical in throwback photo Nate Day fox-news/person/tom-brady fox-news/entertainment/genres/family fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c81e821c-48fb-5e11-a335-c62e28e8ecac article   Westlake Legal Group Gisele-Bundchen-ATV Gisele Bundchen, daughter Vivian look nearly identical in throwback photo Nate Day fox-news/person/tom-brady fox-news/entertainment/genres/family fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc c81e821c-48fb-5e11-a335-c62e28e8ecac article

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House Releases Impeachment Inquiry Testimony From David Hale, David Holmes

House investigators on Monday released transcripts of closed-door testimony from two State Department officials ― David Holmes, the political counsel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and David Hale, the State Department’s third-ranking official ― as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. 

Holmes, who testified Friday, told impeachment investigators that he overheard President Donald Trump talking with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about “investigations” in Ukraine. Holmes said Trump was talking so loudly that Sondland had to hold the phone from his ear.

This conversation came a day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressed his counterpart to investigate 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden. A whistleblower’s complaint about that call sparked the announcement of the impeachment inquiry.

“He’s going to do it,” Sondland replied.

Hale, who spoke to lawmakers earlier this month, testified that State Department records show Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, twice in late March. These calls came around the time that Giuliani was involved in a political smear campaign against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Yovanovitch, who testified Friday, said that she tried to get Pompeo to issue a statement of support for her but learned that he declined to do so, purportedly out of concern that Trump could undermine it in a tweet.

Hale also said that Pompeo called Fox News host Sean Hannity, which Hannity has denied

Read David Holmes’s testimony here, and David Hale’s testimony here.

Here you can read the transcript of Hale’s testimony:

Below you can read the transcript of Holmes’ testimony.

In his testimony, Holmes also detailed how Giuliani was promoting a political agenda, including an investigation of former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter and of supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election (a debunked conspiracy theory that Giuliani nevertheless still pushed).

Westlake Legal Group 5dd346d62500005410d2d759 House Releases Impeachment Inquiry Testimony From David Hale, David Holmes

Jose Luis Magana/ASSOCIATED PRESS David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, leaves Capitol Hill on Friday after a deposition before congressional lawmakers.

“The themes that Mr. Giuliani was promoting and his associates were promoting…. In my mind, those were… political things that were not related to the implementation of our policy,” Holmes said.

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