Donald Trumphas said he is “strongly considering” taking up House speakerNancy Pelosi‘s invitation for him to testify to theimpeachment inquiryand “speak all the truth he wants”, a welcome also extended by Senate minority leaderChuck Schumer, who said the president should give his side of the story onUkrainerather than grumble about the proceedings on Twitter.
The White House has meanwhile scrambled to deny speculation the Mr Trump’s sudden visit to a Maryland hospital on Saturday for a medical check-up was initiated in response to a more serious health complaint.
The president otherwise spent his weekend hitting out atFox NewshostChris Wallaceover his treatment of GOP representativeSteve Scalise, as his acting chief of staffMick Mulvaneyin turn comes under fire from House Intelligence Committee chairmanAdam Schifffor snubbing a subpoena and obstructing the investigation.
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‘Democrats, there are easier ways than wealth tax to reduce financial inequality’
ForIndy Premium, Hamish McRae has a warning for the Democratic 2020 contenders on obsessing over taxing the wealthy.
Court considering release of redacted Mueller report materials to Congress
A federal appeals court in Washington is set to consider whether the Justice Department must immediately release secret grand jury materials from ex-FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to Congress.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit is due to review a lower-court ruling that requires the disclosure of evidence the House Judiciary Committee says it needs in its “urgent efforts” to determine whether President Trump committed impeachable offences.
Last month, Judge Beryl A Howell, chief of the US District Court for DC, found that the House was legally engaged in a judicial process that exempts Congress from grand jury secrecy rules.
The Justice Department’s appeal will be heard today by a three member panel and is just the latest legal battle involving the administration that could go to the Supreme Court. Trump is already seeking to block the release of his tax returns to New York prosecutors and to stop a House subpoena seeking to claw free his personal and business records.
The Judiciary Committee first went to court in July in a bid to obtain the information blacked out from the version of the Mueller report released by attorney general William Barr in April. Barr refused to answer a subpoena demanding the redacted portions on the basis that any impeachment trial they might be used in were not “judicial proceedings”.
Impeachment inquiry public hearings: Week Two
Struggling to keep track of the impeachment inquiry? This is who’s on the menu:
–Tuesday morning (9am EST / 2pm GMT): Lt Col Alexander Vindman, Ukraine expert on National Security Council (NSC), and Jennifer Williams, aide to vice president Mike Pence
– (Tuesday afternoon) 2. 30 PM EST / 7. (PM GMT): Kurt Volker, ex-Ukraine special envoy, and Tim Morrison, ex-NSC aide
– Wednesday morning (9am EST / 2pm GMT): Gordon Sondland , US ambassador to EU
– Wednesday afternoon (2. 30 PM EST / 7. 30 pm GMT): Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary to the Defense Department, and David Hale, under secretary of state for political affairs at the State Department
– Thursday morning (9am EST / 2pm GMT): Fiona Hill, ex-Russia expert at NSC
Gordon Sondlan d (Olivier Douliery / AFP / Getty)
Currently , assumingTrump isn’t serious, that is all the testimony the House investigators plan to hear, which would mean the House Intelligence Committee moving on to draw up its report, before passing it on to the Judiciary Committee to assess the conclusions and recommendations of Adam Schiff’s team.
Pardoned soldier offers warning to Trump
Lieutenant Clint Lorance,pardoned by Trump on Fridayand released from military prison at Fort Leavenworth , Kansas, after serving six years following his conviction for committing a war crime, has been onFox and Friendsthis morning.
He gave a heartfelt thanks to the president but said he needs more people “watching his back”.
Minimal public appearances scheduled for Trump after sudden medical exam
DefiniteDeath of Stalinvibes about the president’s currently rather barren schedule, although it should be hastily reiterated that the White Houseinsists he remains in rude health.
Our man in DC, Andrew Feinberg, has this observation:
“A good way to gauge how well (or poorly) folks in the Trump White House think things are going is to check the driveway for cameras in the morning.
“The lack there of [pictured below] is a sign that no one is willing to go on TV from the North Lawn to speak for the president (and speak to reporters afterwards) on a day when he has zero public events scheduled and questions about his heath are swirling after that unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “
Trump will ‘strongly consider’ testifying to impeachment inquiry
Well this is unexpected. Trump is now saying he will “strongly consider” taking upSpeaker Pelosi’s offerto testify before the impeachment inquiry.
Whether he means it or is just attempting to lead the conversation away from his health is another matter.
Here’s Phil Thomas’s report.
Conservative talk radio host sacked for criticizing Trump
Colorado talk radio host Craig Silverman lost his job mid-way through a segment of his own show on Saturday criticizing the president. “You’re done,” his boss at KNUS told him.
A Trump supporter in 2016, Silverman “stepped back off the Trump train” and rebranded his show as the “Island of Independence” after becoming dismayed by the reality TV star and real estate mogul’s performance in the Oval Office.
Trump backs away from flavored e-cigarette ban over 2020 fears
Trump has rolled back a proposed ban on flavored e-cigarettes over fears of damaging his re-election chances.
Under pressure from advisors and lobbyists, the president was persuaded against moving forward with plans to tackle America’s youth vaping crisis on the grounds there could be a backlash from voters in crucial battleground states, (The Washington Post) *********************** (reports.)
A loss of jobs tied to the ban could affect his popularity, as well as America’s economic growth,The Postadds, two factors of which Trump is keenly awar
Sam Lovett reports.
President accused of setting ‘harmful’ precedent by pardoning military service personnel accused of war crimes
The president pardoned three US servicemen accused of war crimes on Friday, a popular gesture that many in military legal circles privately fear could be “institutionally harmful”.
President ‘backs Stephen Miller’ amid accusations of racist ideology
Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, the man behind many of the administration’s most despicable “zero tolerance” anti-immigration measures, reportedly continues to enjoy the backing of the president after the South Poverty Law Center reported the content of some900 leaked emailshe sent toBreitbart Newsbetween 2015 and 2016, in which Miller encourages the right-wing site to push stories pressing a white nationalist agenda.
Here’s more from Chris Riotta.
Fox Business host calls Trump ‘big dumb baby’
We can only assume he missed this clip of Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy denouncing his Twitter attack on Marie Yovanovitch on Friday, saying his tweets make him sound like “a big dumb baby”.
Trump slams ‘great fraud being played out against the American people’
The president’s first tweets of the day are a retweet of Steve Scalise, whose defense he came to yesterday, and an insistence that the Republican Party has never been “so united as it is now”.
He again characterises the impeachment inquiry as “a great fraud being played out against the American people by the Fake News Media & their partner, the Do Nothing Democrats” and libels Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff with a vague corruption allegation.
Trump enjoysJokerscreening at White House
The president took a break from livetweeting Fox News and fast-forwarding through Jean Claude Van Damme movies to get to the violent bits to sit down and watch Todd Phillips’s controversial new supervillain origin storyJokerstarring Joaquin Phoenix.
He liked it, you’ll be shocked to learn.
White House budget official defies Trump to give Saturday deposition on Ukraine aid
The impeachment inquiry did not slow down over the weekend.
In addition to the release of new transcripts from Morrison and Williams, theaforementioned Mark Sandygave a closed-door deposition to Congress.
He was the first OMB official to testify on the office’s role in holding up the $ (m) £ 302 m) in congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine.
Here’s Chris Riotta’s report.
Giuliani associate boasted of ‘James Bond mission’ to Ukraine on behalf of ‘the big guy’
Rudy Giuliani’s Soviet-born associate Lev Parnas reported boasted of being on a “secret mission” for Trump,CNN reports.
Parnas is understood to have made the remark at the White House’s annual Hanukkah party last year , following a private meeting he had with Trump and his own business partner Igor Fruman.
CNN’s sources say Parnas bragged that “the big guy” had tasked him and Fruman with a “James Bond mission” to Ukraine.
Lev Parnas (Drew Angerer / Getty)
“Parnas viewed the assignment as a great crusade,” said one. “He believed he was doing the right thing for Trump.”
Giuliani, through his lawyer, Robert Costello, denies that the private meeting reported on took place . Costello also dismissed Parnas by saying he is “no Sean Connery” and suffered from “delusions of grandeur”.
Joseph A Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, told CNN, “Mr Parnas at all times believed that he was acting only on behalf of the president, as directed by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of any Ukrainian officials.”
Trump publicly stated that he did not know Parnas and Fruman the day after they werearrested at Dulles International Airportlast month on campaign finance violation charges.
Sunday shows fixate on upcoming Gordon Sondland testimony
The conversation was otherwise focused on the upcoming testimony of Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU, which is due to take place on Wednesday morning.
Sondland, one of the “Three Amigos” and a central figure of interest over the Ukraine scandal, has revised his original deposition to House investigators to include the admission that a quid pro quo was in play after all, prompting Trump defenders like Lindsey Graham to speculate he might be a “double agent”. Ridiculous, especially given that the man donated $ 1m (£ 771, 000) to the persident’s inauguration committee.
On ABC’sThis Week, New York Democrat Sean Maloney, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told George Stephanopoulos that Sondland could cast new light on what he argued amounts to “solicitation of a bribe”
OnState of the Union, Democratic senator Chris Murphy said the ambassador would be spending his weekend deciding, “whether his primary loyalty is to America or whether his primary loyalty is to the president of the United States “.
And onFox News Sunday, another Connecticut Democrat, Jim Himes, denied that the opposition’s case rested on Sondland. “I don’t think it blows a hole in the case… there is ample evidence that there was a corrupt deal being cooked up,” he told Chris Wallace.
Republican congressman Mike Turner admits impeachment developments ‘alarming’
Also on the Sunday talk shows, Ohio Republican Mike Turner admitted to Jake Tapper on CNN’sState of the Unionthat the juicy details emerging from the impeachment hearings – notably the transcript of National Security Council official Tim Morrison’s deposition – were “alarming”.
He also said the president’s tweets are “generally unfortunate”, a sentiment with which it’s hard to disagree.
Adam Schiff calls out Mick Mulvaney for not complying with subpoena
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff issued a fairly stunning rebuke to Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Saturday for snubbing a subpoena and obstructing the impeachment investigation.
Schiff praised Mark Sandy, a senior official within the Office of Management and Budget, for coming forward to testify, saying his decision “stands in stark contras to the actions of [Mulvaney] … who not only has refused to testify, but actively worked to block others from complying with subpoenas, and refused to provide Congress with documents relating to Trump’s suspension of Congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. “
Trump attacks Pence aide and ‘nasty & obnoxious’ Fox News host but unexpectedly defends Joe Biden on busy Twitter weekend
Trump of course can’t stay away from Twitter and spent his weekend on the attack.
His targets including Jennifer Williams, a senior aide to vice president Mike Pence due to appear before the inquiry on Tuesday, whom he baselessly labeled a “Never Trumper” – as he had previous witnesses Bill Taylor and George Kent – after a transcript of her damning private deposition to investigators was released on Saturday.
He also went afterFox News Sundayhost Chris Wallace for giving his ally Steve Scalise a rough time.
You can see their exchange below.
The president otherwise spent his time posting Fox interview clips with Republican cronies like Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Doug Collins and Kevin Ratcliffe and friendly pundits Tom Fitton, Steve Hilton and Dan Bongino. It was very much a case of business as usual as Trump sought to fire fight the damaging press coverage arising from the impeachment hearings.
He also rewarded New York GOP member Elise Stefanik for her performances niggling Adam Schiff at the public hear ings last week with a generous shoutout.
Perhaps more surprisingly, he came to the defense of Joe Biden (!) After North Korea branded him a “rabid dog”.
Here’s Liam James on that last point.
Nancy Pelosi invites president to testify at impeachment inquiry
Trump has meanwhile been invited by House speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify to the impeachment inquiry and “speak all the truth he wants” during an extended interview with Margaret Brennan for CBS’sFace the Nation.
She also attacked the president for tweeting during Friday’s appearance by ousted Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, stopping short of agreeing it amounted to “witness intimidation” but saying the posts in question were “totally wrong and inappropriate and typical of the president.”
The GOP did not get off lightly either.
“I really have a real discomfort level of responding to what Republicans say because they are in denial about what has happened in the country, ”Pelosi said. “So if you want to ask me about where we’re going on this, I’m happy to respond to that. But I find it a waste of my time and yours to just be talking about what Republicans say. ”
That welcome to Trump was also extended by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who said the president should give his side of the story on Ukraine rather than grumble about the proceedings on Twitter.
“I think the hearings have brought up many many troubling allegations, “he said at a press conference in New York. “If Donald Trump doesn’t agree with what he’s hearing, doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he shouldn’t tweet. He should come to the committee and testify under oath and he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath. “
“You’ve got to ask the question: What is he hiding?” Schumer added. “What, is he afraid to confront what these people have said?”