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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 7)

In Prime Time, Two Versions of Impeachment for a Divided Nation

Westlake Legal Group 16SPLITSCREEN-01-facebookJumbo In Prime Time, Two Versions of Impeachment for a Divided Nation Williams, Brian Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Television News and News Media MSNBC Maddow, Rachel Hannity, Sean Fox News Channel Carlson, Tucker Baier, Bret

For a glimpse at the country’s divided political reality, look no farther than a pair of television studios on opposite sides of the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.

From her set inside MSNBC headquarters, Rachel Maddow opened her prime-time coverage of the Trump impeachment hearings by calling the first day’s testimony “a double-barreled problem for the president — triple-barreled, maybe.” President Trump, she said, had been “caught doing something illegal” at the “direct expense of the country’s national interest.”

One block south, from a Fox News studio, Sean Hannity welcomed viewers by declaring “a great day for the United States, for the country, for the president — and a lousy day for the corrupt, do-nothing-for-three-years, radical, extreme, socialist Democrats and their top allies known as the media mob.”

These distinct visions — delivered simultaneously from skyscrapers roughly 1,000 feet apart — were beamed at the 9 p.m. hour into millions of American living rooms. It was a striking reflection of today’s choose-your-own-news media environment, and a far cry from the era when Americans experienced major events through the same television hearth.

Viewers are flocking to opinionated outlets with irreconcilable differences. Although every major TV station broadcast the hearings, Fox News and MSNBC were far and away the most popular networks for Americans to watch the opening round of public testimony this past week, outdrawing CNN and the “Big Three” networks of ABC, CBS and NBC, according to Nielsen.

On Wednesday, a pair of veteran foreign service officers testified that Mr. Trump had pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate his domestic political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. On Mr. Hannity’s show, the right-wing radio pundit Mark Levin compared the officers to “two homeless guys.” A guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program said the men “looked like people who sat by themselves at recess.”

On MSNBC, the host Chris Hayes praised the officers, telling viewers they had revealed “brand-new evidence of the president’s plot to extort Ukraine.”

“Today, the American people got a fuller picture of the corrupt abuse of power by the president of the United States,” Mr. Hayes said, around the time that Mr. Carlson was telling his audience that the testimony was “pointless and tiresome.” Mr. Carlson added, “It made you realize that Democrats really have no master plan for impeachment.”

Television played a crucial role in framing impressions of the nation’s last two impeachment dramas. The Watergate hearings of 1973, now viewed with nostalgia as a moment when Americans could more or less agree on facts, were broadcast in sober tones on PBS. (ABC, CBS and NBC rotated coverage to avoid losing daytime ad revenue.)

Bill Clinton’s impeachment and Senate trial, which focused on a sensational sex scandal, came at a time of expansion for 24-hour cable news. The circus boosted ratings for then-fledgling Fox News and MSNBC and made celebrities of feisty partisan commentators, including future Trump-era figures like Kellyanne Conway and Laura Ingraham.

Now comes Mr. Trump’s impeachment, at a moment of profound fractionalization in the news business.

Many viewers have come to prefer partisan media venues, and the divide extends beyond cable. An entire news pipeline — from message threads on Reddit to chatter on Twitter and partisan Facebook groups — allows Americans to consume information that confirms their own biases and beliefs.

And tribal allegiances to news outlets mean that any hint of heresy can provoke an outcry. When NBCNews.com published an analysis arguing that Wednesday’s impeachment hearing lacked “pizazz,” many liberals seized on the phrase, objecting to the notion of assessing impeachment as entertainment. Even Stephen Colbert weighed in, mocking the article on his CBS late-night show.

A similar backlash occurred on Friday among conservatives, during the testimony of the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch.

When Mr. Trump tweeted an attack on the ambassador while she spoke to lawmakers, the Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted on-air that it might hurt the president’s case. Mr. Baier wrote on Twitter that the president’s message could be viewed as “witness tampering or intimidation — adding an article of impeachment real-time.”

Mr. Baier, the chief political anchor at Fox News, works in the network’s news division, not its partisan commentary ranks. But his remarks yielded a rash of frustration and disbelief among pro-Trump Fox viewers who took it as a kind of betrayal.

Daytime viewers of Fox News and MSNBC on Friday would have encountered some overlap in the channels’ commentary.

The MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, who often criticizes Mr. Trump on her program, was a co-anchor of her channel’s coverage. On Fox News, viewers heard some tough words for Mr. Trump, too. Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host, said, “If you are not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today, you don’t have a pulse.” And Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton and a frequent guest on Fox News, criticized Mr. Trump’s tweet as showing “extraordinarily poor judgment.”

By Friday prime-time, though, Fox News was back to ardently defending the president. Mr. Carlson opened his show with an onscreen graphic reading, “Media Fawns Over Yovanovitch’s ‘Poise, Charisma.’”

Historians and media scholars say the current moment is in some ways a throwback to an era long before the rise of mass media, when partisan newspapers were the way Americans received their news.

Coverage of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, in 1868, was dominated by outlets with strident agendas; some papers were controlled outright by leaders of political parties.

“One of the things I find very amusing about the coverage today is when I hear about how divided the electorate is,” said Brenda Wineapple, a historian whose chronicle of the Johnson impeachment, “The Impeachers,” was published this spring. “It was equally divided, if not more so, in 1868.”

Ms. Wineapple said in an interview that contemporary coverage of Johnson was marked by character smears and misinformation intended to deceive the electorate. “All kinds of rumors and allegations that were largely unfounded,” she said. “There have been people staking out polarized sides for a very long time.”

In 1973, ABC said it received angry calls from viewers who opposed the network’s broadcast of the Watergate hearings. Among the objections: “You’re hurting our president,” “Watergate is being shoved down our throats” and “It’s Democratic propaganda.”

Jon Meacham, the journalist and historian who recently helped write a book on the history of impeachment, said that, in a way, history had come full circle.

“The Johnson impeachment unfolded in a Wild West of partisan media,” Mr. Meacham said in an interview. “Nixon unfolded in a consensus era,” when media outlets were broadly in step. “The reaction to that consensus on the right helped build the institutions and pipelines that were beginning to operate under Clinton and are now at full throttle under Trump.”

“Therefore, in a media sense, we’re all the way back to Johnson,” Mr. Meacham said. “You choose your reality by the paper to which you subscribe, or the channel which you watch.”

Michael M. Grynbaum is a correspondent covering the intersection of media and politics. @grynbaum

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

In Prime Time, Two Versions of Impeachment for a Divided Nation

Westlake Legal Group 16SPLITSCREEN-01-facebookJumbo In Prime Time, Two Versions of Impeachment for a Divided Nation Williams, Brian Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Television News and News Media MSNBC Maddow, Rachel Hannity, Sean Fox News Channel Carlson, Tucker Baier, Bret

For a glimpse at the country’s divided political reality, look no farther than a pair of television studios on opposite sides of the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.

From her set inside MSNBC headquarters, Rachel Maddow opened her prime-time coverage of the Trump impeachment hearings by calling the first day’s testimony “a double-barreled problem for the president — triple-barreled, maybe.” President Trump, she said, had been “caught doing something illegal” at the “direct expense of the country’s national interest.”

One block south, from a Fox News studio, Sean Hannity welcomed viewers by declaring “a great day for the United States, for the country, for the president — and a lousy day for the corrupt, do-nothing-for-three-years, radical, extreme, socialist Democrats and their top allies known as the media mob.”

These distinct visions — delivered simultaneously from skyscrapers roughly 1,000 feet apart — were beamed at the 9 p.m. hour into millions of American living rooms. It was a striking reflection of today’s choose-your-own-news media environment, and a far cry from the era when Americans experienced major events through the same television hearth.

Viewers are flocking to opinionated outlets with irreconcilable differences. Although every major TV station broadcast the hearings, Fox News and MSNBC were far and away the most popular networks for Americans to watch the opening round of public testimony this past week, outdrawing CNN and the “Big Three” networks of ABC, CBS and NBC, according to Nielsen.

On Wednesday, a pair of veteran foreign service officers testified that Mr. Trump had pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate his domestic political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. On Mr. Hannity’s show, the right-wing radio pundit Mark Levin compared the officers to “two homeless guys.” A guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program said the men “looked like people who sat by themselves at recess.”

On MSNBC, the host Chris Hayes praised the officers, telling viewers they had revealed “brand-new evidence of the president’s plot to extort Ukraine.”

“Today, the American people got a fuller picture of the corrupt abuse of power by the president of the United States,” Mr. Hayes said, around the time that Mr. Carlson was telling his audience that the testimony was “pointless and tiresome.” Mr. Carlson added, “It made you realize that Democrats really have no master plan for impeachment.”

Television played a crucial role in framing impressions of the nation’s last two impeachment dramas. The Watergate hearings of 1973, now viewed with nostalgia as a moment when Americans could more or less agree on facts, were broadcast in sober tones on PBS. (ABC, CBS and NBC rotated coverage to avoid losing daytime ad revenue.)

Bill Clinton’s impeachment and Senate trial, which focused on a sensational sex scandal, came at a time of expansion for 24-hour cable news. The circus boosted ratings for then-fledgling Fox News and MSNBC and made celebrities of feisty partisan commentators, including future Trump-era figures like Kellyanne Conway and Laura Ingraham.

Now comes Mr. Trump’s impeachment, at a moment of profound fractionalization in the news business.

Many viewers have come to prefer partisan media venues, and the divide extends beyond cable. An entire news pipeline — from message threads on Reddit to chatter on Twitter and partisan Facebook groups — allows Americans to consume information that confirms their own biases and beliefs.

And tribal allegiances to news outlets mean that any hint of heresy can provoke an outcry. When NBCNews.com published an analysis arguing that Wednesday’s impeachment hearing lacked “pizazz,” many liberals seized on the phrase, objecting to the notion of assessing impeachment as entertainment. Even Stephen Colbert weighed in, mocking the article on his CBS late-night show.

A similar backlash occurred on Friday among conservatives, during the testimony of the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch.

When Mr. Trump tweeted an attack on the ambassador while she spoke to lawmakers, the Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted on-air that it might hurt the president’s case. Mr. Baier wrote on Twitter that the president’s message could be viewed as “witness tampering or intimidation — adding an article of impeachment real-time.”

Mr. Baier, the chief political anchor at Fox News, works in the network’s news division, not its partisan commentary ranks. But his remarks yielded a rash of frustration and disbelief among pro-Trump Fox viewers who took it as a kind of betrayal.

Daytime viewers of Fox News and MSNBC on Friday would have encountered some overlap in the channels’ commentary.

The MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, who often criticizes Mr. Trump on her program, was a co-anchor of her channel’s coverage. On Fox News, viewers heard some tough words for Mr. Trump, too. Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host, said, “If you are not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today, you don’t have a pulse.” And Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton and a frequent guest on Fox News, criticized Mr. Trump’s tweet as showing “extraordinarily poor judgment.”

By Friday prime-time, though, Fox News was back to ardently defending the president. Mr. Carlson opened his show with an onscreen graphic reading, “Media Fawns Over Yovanovitch’s ‘Poise, Charisma.’”

Historians and media scholars say the current moment is in some ways a throwback to an era long before the rise of mass media, when partisan newspapers were the way Americans received their news.

Coverage of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, in 1868, was dominated by outlets with strident agendas; some papers were controlled outright by leaders of political parties.

“One of the things I find very amusing about the coverage today is when I hear about how divided the electorate is,” said Brenda Wineapple, a historian whose chronicle of the Johnson impeachment, “The Impeachers,” was published this spring. “It was equally divided, if not more so, in 1868.”

Ms. Wineapple said in an interview that contemporary coverage of Johnson was marked by character smears and misinformation intended to deceive the electorate. “All kinds of rumors and allegations that were largely unfounded,” she said. “There have been people staking out polarized sides for a very long time.”

In 1973, ABC said it received angry calls from viewers who opposed the network’s broadcast of the Watergate hearings. Among the objections: “You’re hurting our president,” “Watergate is being shoved down our throats” and “It’s Democratic propaganda.”

Jon Meacham, the journalist and historian who recently helped write a book on the history of impeachment, said that, in a way, history had come full circle.

“The Johnson impeachment unfolded in a Wild West of partisan media,” Mr. Meacham said in an interview. “Nixon unfolded in a consensus era,” when media outlets were broadly in step. “The reaction to that consensus on the right helped build the institutions and pipelines that were beginning to operate under Clinton and are now at full throttle under Trump.”

“Therefore, in a media sense, we’re all the way back to Johnson,” Mr. Meacham said. “You choose your reality by the paper to which you subscribe, or the channel which you watch.”

Michael M. Grynbaum is a correspondent covering the intersection of media and politics. @grynbaum

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

Impeachment Investigators Question Budget Official About Withheld Aid

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16impeach-image2-articleLarge Impeachment Investigators Question Budget Official About Withheld Aid Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Office of Management and Budget (US) Mulvaney, Mick House Committee on Intelligence Defense and Military Forces

Mark Sandy, an official at the White House budget office, arriving at the Capitol on Saturday for a closed impeachment hearing.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — House impeachment investigators met for a rare weekend session on Saturday to privately question a senior official from the White House budget office about President Trump’s decision this summer to freeze $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

Why precisely Mr. Trump withheld the congressionally allocated funding in mid-July as he pressed Ukraine for politically beneficial investigations and what his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told the agency about the decision remain central unanswered questions in the inquiry.

Democrats leading the proceedings hope that the budget official, Mark Sandy, can at least offer a glimpse into deliberations at the Office of Management and Budget over carrying out the order.

Other witnesses with significant roles in American diplomacy toward Ukraine, including some working closely with Mr. Trump, have already testified that the aid was delayed as part of a broad pressure campaign meant to extract a public commitment from Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.

Democrats have marshaled that testimony to begin arguing that Mr. Trump may have committed bribery to get what he wanted from Ukraine. But they have yet to hear from a witness who can speak directly to the president’s order and stated rationale.

Mr. Sandy testified after the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed him Saturday morning, a day after the former American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, described in stark and personal terms how the president and his allies sought to undermine her and push her out of her job. The budget office had directed him not to appear, according to an official working on the inquiry.

Mr. Trump continued his scorched-earth defense on Saturday, denouncing those involved in the proceedings. In one tweet, he misspelled the name of the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee leading the inquiry, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, to what sounds like a vulgarity, claiming the stock markets would collapse if he were impeached. And the president, attributing a quotation to the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, suggested that nonpartisan diplomats who have testified were aggrieved members of the Washington “Swamp” merely trying to exact their revenge.

“It is paramountly obvious watching this, these people have to go,” Mr. Limbaugh said, according to the president. On Friday, Mr. Trump targeted Ms. Yovanovitch on Twitter as she was testifying, prompting heavy criticism, including from Democrats who accused him of witness intimidation.

Mr. Sandy is the first budget official to speak with impeachment investigators, in defiance of a Trump administration directive not to cooperate.

At least three higher-profile Trump administration officials connected to the budget office have stiff-armed investigators: Russell T. Vought, the agency’s acting director; Michael Duffey, who helped carry out Mr. Trump’s directive to freeze the aid; and Mr. Mulvaney, who retains the title of budget director.

Mr. Sandy is the deputy associate director of the budget office’s national security division who once served as the agency’s acting director. Unlike others from his agency who have refused to show up, he is a career official, not a political appointee of Mr. Trump’s. Records in the possession of House investigators indicate that Mr. Sandy signed paperwork on July 25 enforcing the hold, but that Mr. Duffey, a political appointee, signed such paperwork going forward.

Ahead of Mr. Sandy’s testimony, a senior Trump administration official complained that Democrats were “threatening” career officials with subpoenas and depositions without granting the agencies they work for the right to send a lawyer to take part. The official added that Democrats would be “sorely disappointed” when they could not substantiate “their latest false narrative.”

Congress allocated the security assistance funds on a bipartisan basis this year to help Ukraine in its continuing military conflict with Russia. The decision by Mr. Trump to hold up the money indefinitely in July alarmed officials across the government, including at the Defense and State Departments, where the aid is viewed as vital not just to Ukraine’s national security but also to that of the United States.

A Defense Department official has already testified that she and others involved in Ukraine policy raised concerns about whether the hold would present legal problems if it was not reversed. Other witnesses have described how the president’s most senior advisers, including the secretaries of state and defense, pushed him to unfreeze the aid in August.

The White House has maintained that Mr. Trump held up the money out of generalized concerns about corruption in Ukraine and a frustration that European governments were not providing more money to the nation.

But in October, Mr. Mulvaney cited a third reason: The aid, he said at a news conference, was withheld in part until Ukraine investigated an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic Party emails in 2016. He later tried to walk back that statement.

Mr. Trump eventually released the hold in September after intense bipartisan pressure from Congress that he do so and after an anonymous whistle-blower had filed a complaint based in part on the aid. Republicans now point to that fact to argue that his behavior was not impeachable.

Saturday’s interview was expected to cap what was a remarkable week on Capitol Hill, where the House Intelligence Committee convened the first full-blown public impeachment hearings in two decades. A top State Department official, the United States’ top envoy to Ukraine and his predecessor, who was abruptly removed from her post by Mr. Trump amid a smear campaign, helped put a public face on the inquiry in describing what they say amounted to a shadow foreign policy. The testimony, though, appeared to have done little to bridge the stark divide between Democrats and Republicans over the significance of the events in question.

The deposition of Mr. Sandy came after investigators worked late Friday night interviewing David Holmes, an official from the United States Embassy in Kiev, who described a call he overheard in July in which Mr. Trump asked his ambassador to the European Union whether the Ukrainian president had committed to an investigation into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. that Mr. Trump had personally pressed him to conduct a day earlier.

As of Saturday morning, House Democrats, who control the inquiry, had not scheduled any additional private witness interviews. But there will be three days of public hearings in the coming week, featuring some of the biggest names ensnared in the inquiry.

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

Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Holmes also described frustrations among American officials.

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

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

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

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

Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Holmes also described frustrations among American officials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Trump blew up the plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Trump blew up the plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barr Suggests Impeachment Inquiry Undermines Voters’ Intent

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-barr-facebookJumbo Barr Suggests Impeachment Inquiry Undermines Voters’ Intent United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidents and Presidency (US) Justice Department impeachment federalist society Ethics and Official Misconduct Constitution (US) Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday vigorously defended President Trump’s use of executive authority and suggested that House Democrats were subverting the will of voters by exploring whether to remove the president from office for abusing his power.

Mr. Trump campaigned on a vow to upend Washington, and voters were aware of his agenda when they elected him president, Mr. Barr said.

“While the president has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook and punctilio, he was up front about what he wanted to do and the people decided they wanted him to serve as president,” Mr. Barr said in a speech at a conference hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group influential in Republican politics.

Mr. Trump’s opponents “essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government,” Mr. Barr added.

His forceful defense of the president came after some of Mr. Trump’s allies have in recent weeks accused Mr. Barr of failing to vociferously back the president. Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated that Mr. Barr urged him to release a reconstructed transcript of the July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the center of the impeachment case. The president also wanted Mr. Barr to hold a news conference to say the president had violated no laws, only to have Mr. Barr rebuff the request. Mr. Trump has denied that account.

Speaking for an hour at the upscale Mayflower Hotel a few blocks from the White House, Mr. Barr hit back at the president’s critics on an array of fronts as he argued that Mr. Trump, in his capacity as president, has not overstepped his authority.

While Mr. Barr never uttered the word impeachment, he castigated those he sees as stalling Mr. Trump’s agenda. He defended the president’s right to set policies, steer the country’s diplomatic and military relations and keep executive branch conversations confidential from congressional oversight.

“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Mr. Barr said.

He noted that opponents labeled themselves “the resistance” immediately after Mr. Trump was elected and accused them of “using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.

“Resistance is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power,” Mr. Barr said. He added that it connotes that the government is not legitimate. “This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion.”

Mr. Barr spoke as the second public impeachment hearing wrapped up on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of abusing the power of his office for personal gain.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified that she was the target of a smear campaign engineered to get Mr. Trump to remove her; she was recalled from Kiev in the spring. She said that her dismissal from the post put national security at risk by opening the door for Russia to further influence Ukraine, a strategic American ally.

She also said that she felt devastated and threatened to learn that Mr. Trump had vilified her to Mr. Zelensky, testimony that Mr. Trump underscored by attacking her on Twitter as she sat before lawmakers.

In his address, Mr. Barr suggested the president has acted within his powers and that his opponents were willing to bend the law to stop him.

Mr. Barr is known as an executive power maximalist and a believer in the unitary executive theory, which posits that the Constitution imbues the presidency with broad powers that are subject to relatively little oversight.

He has argued, for example, that Congress cannot make it a crime for a president to exercise executive powers corruptly; and that presidents have authority over law enforcement investigations even when investigators are scrutinizing their activity.

On Friday, Mr. Barr hit back against criticisms of his view of executive authority.

“Some of you may recall when I was up for confirmation, all these Democratic senators saying how concerned they were about my adherence to the unitary executive theory,” Mr. Barr said.

“This is not new and it’s not a theory,” Mr. Barr said, calling his viewpoint a straightforward description of the powers that the Constitution gives the president. “Whatever the executive power may be, those powers must be exercised under the president’s supervision,” he said.

Mr. Barr’s assessment was a “highly contestable — and in my view, seriously mistaken — reading of history,” said Peter M. Shane, a former Justice Department official and Ohio State University law professor who specializes in the separation of powers.

“He over-reads the vesting of executive power, ignores the limitations on executive power implicit in other clauses, and ignores evidence of what voters in favor of ratification would have expected from the text,” Mr. Shane said. “He is, indeed, a maximalist.”

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Labeled ‘Bad News’ by the President, an Ambassador Headlines a Bad Day for Trump

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-scene1-facebookJumbo Labeled ‘Bad News’ by the President, an Ambassador Headlines a Bad Day for Trump Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department impeachment House Committee on Intelligence

WASHINGTON — “In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation,” Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted American ambassador to Ukraine, said on Friday. “This has been a very painful period.”

It was just after 9 a.m. and the career diplomat and self-declared “private person” found herself engulfed in a ritual camera burst. She had entered the hearing room by a side door, as if she could avoid a fuss.

After a career of far-flung postings and a diplomat’s ease for sizing up exotic cultures, her mission before the House Intelligence Committee still resembled that of a wayward stopover in a strange land. Known as Masha, Ms. Yovanovitch, 61, looked every bit the outsider in a dangerous village.

She walked to her seat with a story to tell. She exited nearly seven hours later — after a presidential tweet denigrating her drew gasps from the audience — to applause.

Ms. Yovanovitch started with some basic housekeeping, the kind you could easily skip past in a less suspicious time. “I come before you as an American citizen,” she said in her opening statement. She also came as a human story, a witness to collateral damage — namely her own.

Ms. Yovanovitch would be the first to assert there is nothing spectacular about her 33 years at State. She was but one of many unsung Foreign Service officials who toiled with distinction on behalf of the country. “Like my colleagues, I entered the Foreign Service understanding that my job was to implement the foreign policy interests of this nation,” she said. “I had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals.”

President Barack Obama gave her Ukraine in 2016, where she would become the highest-ranking female ambassador at the State Department. By nearly all accounts she served with professionalism and a commitment to anti-corruption. Then along came Mr. Trump.

The president, by way of his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, targeted Ms. Yovanovitch as an impediment to the investigations they were trying to advance in Ukraine at the expense of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter — the events leading Mr. Trump to the brink of impeachment.

Ms. Yovanovitch was disdained by Mr. Trump’s allies as an Obama-appointed stooge (Don Jr. called her a “joker”). She was accused without proof of disparaging the president and said she was warned (by Ukraine’s interior minister) to “watch her back.”

When, according to her closed-door testimony, she asked the Trump-appointed ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, how she might improve her crippled standing in Washington, he suggested she tweet something nice about the president. Not normal.

After being derided as “bad news” by Mr. Trump in a fateful July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Trump said ominously that “she’s going to go through some things.”

Friday was quite a thing.

“I was shocked and appalled,” the former ambassador said when she learned that Mr. Trump had disparaged her to the Ukrainian president. “The woman,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelensky, “was bad news.”

“The woman.”

“It was a terrible moment,” Ms. Yovanovitch said of her reaction. She quoted a person who observed her at the moment she learned of the president’s characterization of her: “The color drained from my face.”

Although she presented as someone who was not easily flustered, she said that this was difficult to discuss, even months later. The room fell silent as Ms. Yovanovitch paused. For a moment it seemed that she might tear up, as a few spectators did in the back of the hearing room.

Dan Goldman, the majority counsel, invited her to continue, hopefully “without upsetting you too much.’’ Ms. Yovanovitch then spoke of her disbelief that an American president would talk like this to a foreign head of state about his own diplomat. And not just any diplomat.

“It was me,” she said, her voice creeping off, as she appeared to relive her shock.

And then the president tweeted. About the witness. As she testified, in real time, a little after 10 a.m. It is safe to assume this was another first.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” came the president’s just-discharged words.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who is chairman of the intelligence committee, jumped in to narrate the breaking tweet: “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” There were head shakes and maybe a grimace or two from even the staunchest Republicans on the panel.

This was not your parents’ impeachment (Clinton) or grandparents’ (Nixon).

Perhaps it should not have been a surprise, but the ambassador appeared freshly shaken. “I don’t think I have that power,” she said after Mr. Schiff asked about the president blaming her for “turning bad” every place that she served. “I made things better,” she countered, less with conviction than disbelief.

“It’s very intimidating,” she said a minute later, of what it was like to have the president of the United States denounce your entire career by tweet and learn about it, along with millions of other people, on live television. She rocked slowly in her chair.

As the hearing wore on, Republicans repeatedly disparaged the proceeding as a “performance.” Representative Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican from California, called it a “show trial.” He predicted “low ratings,” the ultimate nod to the Audience of One in the White House.

But Ms. Yovanovitch did not seem eager to perform. “I really don’t want to get into that but thank you for asking,” Ms. Yovanovitch said after Representative Terri A. Sewell, Democrat of Alabama, asked how this experience has affected her family.

There were some Republicans on the panel who seemed compelled to bolster the witness, especially after the president’s tweet. They thanked her for her service. Her ordeal made her no less a public servant, patriot or vital part of the nation’s foreign policy machinery, they said. They made clear, with a few exceptions, that their beef was with Democrats, not with her.

As the inquiry neared its close, the process devolved into shouting. Members yelled back and forth, interrupting each other, trading objections and points of order. Mr. Schiff wielded his gavel like a jackhammer. Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas, kept insisting to be recognized, complaining of “disparaging remarks” made against his party. Finally, Mr. Conaway’s microphone was shut off, and the men lingered, jawing inaudibly at each other before they walked off.

Evidently pleased to leave the theatrics to the professionals, Ms. Yovanovitch allowed herself a tiny smile, like an anthropologist amused by the spectacle of wrestling bears. She walked off to a partial standing ovation from the gallery — also not normal.

She had been “through some things,” for sure.

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

Labeled ‘Bad News’ by the President, an Ambassador Headlines a Bad Day for Trump

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-scene1-facebookJumbo Labeled ‘Bad News’ by the President, an Ambassador Headlines a Bad Day for Trump Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department impeachment House Committee on Intelligence

WASHINGTON — “In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation,” Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted American ambassador to Ukraine, said on Friday. “This has been a very painful period.”

It was just after 9 a.m. and the career diplomat and self-declared “private person” found herself engulfed in a ritual camera burst. She had entered the hearing room by a side door, as if she could avoid a fuss.

After a career of far-flung postings and a diplomat’s ease for sizing up exotic cultures, her mission before the House Intelligence Committee still resembled that of a wayward stopover in a strange land. Known as Masha, Ms. Yovanovitch, 61, looked every bit the outsider in a dangerous village.

She walked to her seat with a story to tell. She exited nearly seven hours later — after a presidential tweet denigrating her drew gasps from the audience — to applause.

Ms. Yovanovitch started with some basic housekeeping, the kind you could easily skip past in a less suspicious time. “I come before you as an American citizen,” she said in her opening statement. She also came as a human story, a witness to collateral damage — namely her own.

Ms. Yovanovitch would be the first to assert there is nothing spectacular about her 33 years at State. She was but one of many unsung Foreign Service officials who toiled with distinction on behalf of the country. “Like my colleagues, I entered the Foreign Service understanding that my job was to implement the foreign policy interests of this nation,” she said. “I had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals.”

President Barack Obama gave her Ukraine in 2016, where she would become the highest-ranking female ambassador at the State Department. By nearly all accounts she served with professionalism and a commitment to anti-corruption. Then along came Mr. Trump.

The president, by way of his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, targeted Ms. Yovanovitch as an impediment to the investigations they were trying to advance in Ukraine at the expense of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter — the events leading Mr. Trump to the brink of impeachment.

Ms. Yovanovitch was disdained by Mr. Trump’s allies as an Obama-appointed stooge (Don Jr. called her a “joker”). She was accused without proof of disparaging the president and said she was warned (by Ukraine’s interior minister) to “watch her back.”

When, according to her closed-door testimony, she asked the Trump-appointed ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, how she might improve her crippled standing in Washington, he suggested she tweet something nice about the president. Not normal.

After being derided as “bad news” by Mr. Trump in a fateful July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Trump said ominously that “she’s going to go through some things.”

Friday was quite a thing.

“I was shocked and appalled,” the former ambassador said when she learned that Mr. Trump had disparaged her to the Ukrainian president. “The woman,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelensky, “was bad news.”

“The woman.”

“It was a terrible moment,” Ms. Yovanovitch said of her reaction. She quoted a person who observed her at the moment she learned of the president’s characterization of her: “The color drained from my face.”

Although she presented as someone who was not easily flustered, she said that this was difficult to discuss, even months later. The room fell silent as Ms. Yovanovitch paused. For a moment it seemed that she might tear up, as a few spectators did in the back of the hearing room.

Dan Goldman, the majority counsel, invited her to continue, hopefully “without upsetting you too much.’’ Ms. Yovanovitch then spoke of her disbelief that an American president would talk like this to a foreign head of state about his own diplomat. And not just any diplomat.

“It was me,” she said, her voice creeping off, as she appeared to relive her shock.

And then the president tweeted. About the witness. As she testified, in real time, a little after 10 a.m. It is safe to assume this was another first.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” came the president’s just-discharged words.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who is chairman of the intelligence committee, jumped in to narrate the breaking tweet: “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” There were head shakes and maybe a grimace or two from even the staunchest Republicans on the panel.

This was not your parents’ impeachment (Clinton) or grandparents’ (Nixon).

Perhaps it should not have been a surprise, but the ambassador appeared freshly shaken. “I don’t think I have that power,” she said after Mr. Schiff asked about the president blaming her for “turning bad” every place that she served. “I made things better,” she countered, less with conviction than disbelief.

“It’s very intimidating,” she said a minute later, of what it was like to have the president of the United States denounce your entire career by tweet and learn about it, along with millions of other people, on live television. She rocked slowly in her chair.

As the hearing wore on, Republicans repeatedly disparaged the proceeding as a “performance.” Representative Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican from California, called it a “show trial.” He predicted “low ratings,” the ultimate nod to the Audience of One in the White House.

But Ms. Yovanovitch did not seem eager to perform. “I really don’t want to get into that but thank you for asking,” Ms. Yovanovitch said after Representative Terri A. Sewell, Democrat of Alabama, asked how this experience has affected her family.

There were some Republicans on the panel who seemed compelled to bolster the witness, especially after the president’s tweet. They thanked her for her service. Her ordeal made her no less a public servant, patriot or vital part of the nation’s foreign policy machinery, they said. They made clear, with a few exceptions, that their beef was with Democrats, not with her.

As the inquiry neared its close, the process devolved into shouting. Members yelled back and forth, interrupting each other, trading objections and points of order. Mr. Schiff wielded his gavel like a jackhammer. Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas, kept insisting to be recognized, complaining of “disparaging remarks” made against his party. Finally, Mr. Conaway’s microphone was shut off, and the men lingered, jawing inaudibly at each other before they walked off.

Evidently pleased to leave the theatrics to the professionals, Ms. Yovanovitch allowed herself a tiny smile, like an anthropologist amused by the spectacle of wrestling bears. She walked off to a partial standing ovation from the gallery — also not normal.

She had been “through some things,” for sure.

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