The Department of Justice revealed in a court filing late Friday that it has two dozen emails related to the President Donald Trump’s involvement in the withholding of millions in security assistance to Ukraine — a disclosure that came just hours after the Senate voted against subpoenaing additional documents and witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial, paving the way for his acquittal.
The filing, released near midnight Friday, marks the first official acknowledgment from the Trump administration that emails about the President’s thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress
As Donald Trump’s legal team begins its second day of oral arguments in the Senate impeachment trial, some Republicans in the Senate were roiled by the report from the New York Times that the White House had been sitting on a copy of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book which apparently asserts that Trump did condition the release of military aid for Ukraine on an announcement of investigations into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
By Monday morning, several Republican senators had angrily called the White House trying to determine who at the administration knew about Mr. Bolton’s manuscript, which aides there have had for several weeks, and what was in it. They told the White House they felt blindsided, according to people briefed on the calls who insisted on anonymity to describe private discussions.
One reason for their ire is that Mr. Bolton’s account flies in the face of the rationale the president’s lawyers have offered the Senate for his actions, and which many Republicans have latched onto themselves as a defense of his conduct.
Trump, of course, denies Bolton’s version of the story. He tweeted, “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
Trump’s lawyers now have to somehow argue that the Donald didn’t do what he’s accused of doing after Bolton has said he did.
It’s difficult to see how some GOP senators won’t vote in favor of Bolton testifying at the impeachment trial now, especially since he’s said he would testify if asked.
Even folks over at Fox News see the bad timing of the Bolton news.
I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book. With that being said, the…
…transcripts of my calls with President Zelensky are all the proof that is needed, in addition to the fact that President Zelensky & the Foreign Minister of Ukraine said there was no pressure and no problems. Additionally, I met with President Zelensky at the United Nations…
…(Democrats said I never met) and released the military aid to Ukraine without any conditions or investigations – and far ahead of schedule. I also allowed Ukraine to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles. My Administration has done far more than the previous Administration.
Fox News' Chris Wallace on the shift since bombshell Bolton news: "If you want a sense of how big the news is that we've heard in the past 12-14 hours, listen to the Trump supporters…spinning like crazy that it isn't big news…” #AmericansWantWitnessespic.twitter.com/8YXTv4nOsf
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.
The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.
Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates.
The recording appears to contradict statements by President Trump and support the narrative that has been offered by Parnas during broadcast interviews in recent days. Sources familiar with the recording said the recording was made during an intimate April 30, 2018, dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Trump has said repeatedly he does not know Parnas, a Soviet-born American who has emerged as a wild card in Trump’s impeachment trial, especially in the days since Trump was impeached.
“Get rid of her!” is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
Trump supporters have maintained until now that no evidence exists that directly ties Trump to the current allegations that led to his impeachment.
Parnas and Fruman are currently under federal indictment in New York in a campaign finance case, but Parnas has been cooperating with authorities by releasing text messages and communications between himself and Trump’s team.
Trump has claimed he doesn't know Parnas, but here he is apparently giving him a direct order to "get rid of" a U.S. ambassador. https://t.co/LFiEkLom3V
Not that this needs to be explained but maybe it does, “Take her out” means put a hit on or kill her. That’s standard mob speak. I litigated a wrongful death/civil rights case on behalf of an Estate of someone who was murdered by the mob. NYPD personnel were involved 1/
Who among us that has been fired before, had their boss say, “Take her out.”#TakeHerOut is a hit job ordered by a mob boss. This is not a stretch to say Trump ordered a veiled assassination of a US Ambassador.
President Donald Trump and aides sought Thursday to distance him from a Soviet-born businessman who said Trump knew all about efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating U.S. political rival Joe Biden – a pivotal point in the Senate impeachment trial of the president.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to him,” Trump told reporters about Lev Parnas, taking questions after an event announcing new federal guidance he has said will “safeguard” the rights of students to pray in school.
Parnas said Trump knows him well and there are pictures of the two of them at various events. In an interview with CNN, Parnas said that every time Trump denies knowing him, “I’ll show him another picture. He’s lying.”
Here’s Trump telling reporters he meets thousands of people and doesn’t remember them, and that’s followed by tweets of photos and video showing the two men together.
“I don’t know those gentlemen.” – Trump “He was aware of all my movements.I wouldn't do anything w/o the consent of Giuliani, or the president. Why w Pres Zelenskiy’s inner circle meet me? Who am I?They were told to meet w me. That’s the secret they're trying to keep.” – Parnas pic.twitter.com/PrCxB6YIky
A federal watchdog concluded that President Trump broke the law when he froze assistance funds for Ukraine last year, according to a report unveiled on Thursday.
The Office of Management and Budget blocked the Defense Department from spending money designated by Congress on July 25, “pending a policy decision,” according to OMB General Counsel Mark Paoletta. That hold was lifted on Sept. 12.
But a 1974 law that governs budget procedure within the government “does not permit OMB to withhold funds for policy reasons,” said Thomas Armstrong, general counsel for the watchdog Government Accountability Office.
The law further designates the ways in which Congress has the power of the purse. Under the Impoundment Control Act, it is illegal for OMB to withhold money that has been appropriated by Congress and signed into law.
If the White House wants to delay or deny funds, it must first alert Congress.
Documents and testimony released during and after House impeachment hearings revealed some administration officials had raised concerns that the Ukraine hold might have violated the law known as the Impoundment Control Act.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Center for Public Integrity, a federal judge ordered the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Pentagon to release documents related to the White House freezing military aid to Ukraine.
According to the documents, shortly after President Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, White House aides were tasked with halting the $391 million of military aid.
Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, and the withholding of aid, is at the center of the impeachment proceedings that began in the House and will now move to the Senate in the new year.
The obtained documents contain emails sent by senior White House official Michael Duffey. Duffey, a Trump appointee, works through the OMB and is responsible for overseeing national security money.
“Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Duffey wrote to OMB and Pentagon officials on July 25.
“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction,” Duffey added.
The freeze of the aid apparently raised eyebrows at the OMB and other government agencies, with many worried that the delay of aid would make it hard for the assistance to go through before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
🚨This is breaking news and it’s important. New documents show:
1. Ukraine aid was held just hours after the Trump/Zelensky “do us a favor” call
The attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, represents Lev Parnas, the recently indicted Soviet-born American who worked with Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine. Bondy said that Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes.
“Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” said Bondy.
Shokin was ousted from his position in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including then-vice president Biden, over concerns that Shokin was not pursuing corruption cases.
Nunes denies the allegations calling the report “demonstrably false.”
To sum up: Trump used his office, his administration and GOP members of Congress to pressure Ukrainian government officials to investigate Joe Biden all in an effort to help Trump's 2020 campaign#DevinNunesGotCaught
Apparently, the announcement of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, by the Ukraine government that Donald Trump sought in exchange for previously promised military aid was to have taken place on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show, although at the time CNN didn’t know the full backstory.
Zakaria told his viewers today he felt he owed them an understanding of what he and his team did and didn’t know as they sought the interview with President Zelensky.
It makes sense that Trump’s White House would WANT the announcement on CNN because Democrats watch CNN. Trump wanted as many possible Dem voters to see/hear the allegations to taint support of Biden.
It’s worth noting, again, that journalists from across the political spectrum – even Fox News – have repeatedly said there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden. Trump just wanted his 2020 version of ‘her emails’ to discourage Democratic voters.
The @nytimes has reported that Ukrainian Pres. Zelensky was set to make a public announcement of the investigations sought by Pres. Trump on my @CNN program. So, I think I owe viewers my best understanding of what actually happened.
The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly removed by President Donald Trump earlier this year took center stage on Friday morning to testify in the second public hearing in his impeachment inquiry.
Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, 61, was ousted in May after what her former colleagues describe as a “smear campaign” by Trump’s allies, led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. In a July 25th call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, which sparked the initial whistleblower complaint, Trump described her as “bad news” and someone who was “going through some stuff.”
“I didn’t know what it meant,” Yovanovitch told lawmakers in a closed-door hearing last month in regards to those comments. “I was very concerned. I still am.”
Other diplomats have testified that Yovanovitch, who was known as an outspoken critic of corruption in Ukraine, was unfairly removed after a sustained lobbying campaign from Giuliani and others.
Here is the live feed from the hearing via C-SPAN2: