Day 977: "It doesn't matter."
1/ Trump admitted that he discussed getting dirt on Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that he is withholding the whistleblower complaint from Congress. Trump pressed Zelensky to dig up potentially damaging information against Biden during a July 25th phone call, baselessly accusing the former vice president of corruption related to his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and whether they affected his diplomatic efforts. Trump said that “it doesn’t matter” what he discussed with Zelensky and that while the he would “love” to release a transcript of the call, “you have to be a little bit shy about doing it.” Trump’s phone call with Zelensky occurred while Ukraine was awaiting $250 million in security aid, raising the possibility Trump was attempting a quid pro quo arrangement. The phone call led to the whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community due to a “promise” that Trump made to Ukraine. Trump eventually agreed to release the money after coming under bipartisan pressure from Congress and immediately before the existence of the whistleblower complaint was revealed. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)
What is going with Trump, Biden, and Ukraine: Trump pressured Ukraine’s government, both directly and indirectly, to investigate Biden’s son and potentially did so using military aid as a means of leverage. (BuzzFeed News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
🚨 TRUTH CHECK:
Did Joe Biden do anything wrong? The issue is whether Biden used his position as vice president to help a Ukrainian energy company that was paying Hunter Biden by pushing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office had oversight of investigations into the oligarch who owned the company. As reported on May 1, 2019, no evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor’s dismissal. (New York Times)
Did Hunter Biden do anything wrong? Hunter Biden has not been accused of legal wrongdoing related to his work for Burisma, which paid him as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his service on the board of the directors. But he has been criticized by government watchdog groups in the United States and Ukraine for what they characterize as the perception of a conflict of interest, and trading on his family name by allowing it to be used to burnish the reputations of Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky. (New York Times)
May 16, 2019: Ukraine’s prosecutor general said that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son. Yuriy Lutsenko, the current prosecutor general, said that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma Group, one of the country’s biggest private gas companies, were the focus of an investigation. (Bloomberg)
2/ Trump insisted that he did “absolutely nothing wrong” and denied that he had withheld security aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure its president to investigate Biden’s family. Trump repeated his debunked corruption claims against Biden and accused the media of being “crooked as hell” for not reporting the false accusations as fact. Trump added that “If a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair probably right now.” Earlier, Trump defended his “perfect” conversation with the Ukrainian President about investigating Biden’s family, saying there was “no quid pro quo, there was nothing.” Trump previously suggested that he had withheld military aid from Ukraine because he wanted to “make sure that country is honest” and “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” (Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / New York Times)
3/ Rudy Giuliani “can’t say for 100%” that Trump didn’t threaten to cut off aid to Ukraine over an investigation into discredited allegations against Biden and his son. Trump asked Zelensky “about eight times” in the call to work with Giuliani to investigate the former vice president’s son Hunter over his past role with a Ukraine-based natural gas company. Throughout the spring and summer, Giuliani pressed the Ukrainian government behind the scenes to renew an investigation into Hunter Biden, gathering information about Biden and briefing Trump on his findings. (Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post)
- 📌 Day 974: Trump pressured the leader of Ukraine eight times to investigate Joe Biden’s son. Trump used a July 25th phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky to repeatedly pressure the recently elected leader to work with Rudy Giuliani on an investigation that Trump believed would deliver political dirt against Biden. Trump told Zelensky that Ukraine could improve its reputation and “interaction” with the United States by investigating a Ukrainian gas company with ties to Biden’s son Hunter, who served on the board of directors. In June and August, Giuliani met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation. Toward the end of August, the White House considered blocking $250 million to support Ukraine’s military in its war against Russian-backed separatists. On Sept. 12, however, that funding was released. Separately, lawmakers have been investigating whether Trump or Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue probes in an effort to benefit Trump’s re-election bid. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast / CNN)
4/ The White House is considering whether to release the transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian President. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, however, said that releasing the transcript would set a “terrible precedent” and be “highly inappropriate,” because Trump said “he said nothing inappropriate.” (CNN / Talking Points Memo / HuffPost / The Hill)
5/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Trump’s “grave new chapter of lawlessness” will “take us into a whole new stage of investigation” if acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire fails to deliver the whistleblower complaint when he testifies in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the House may have now have “crossed the Rubicon” when it comes to impeachment. Schiff added that “There is no privilege that covers corruption. No privilege to engage in underhanded discussions,” and that the “only remedy” to such behavior is impeachment. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Axios)
- The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees threatened to subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to allegations that Trump and Rudy Giuliani pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. (Axios)
poll/ 69% of voters say they don’t like Trump personally regardless of their feelings about his policies. 50% say they dislike him personally and dislike his policies, while another 19% say that they dislike him but approve of his policies. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
Trump’s Twitter attacks on the Federal Reserve have had a “statistically significant and negative effect” on the markets, according to a new study. Trump’s tweets have knocked 10 basis points off the expected fed funds futures contract – or about .30 basis points per tweet. (Bloomberg)
A New York judge ordered Trump to “appear for a videotaped deposition” under oath for a civil suit involving his security guards. A group of protesters allege that they were assaulted by Trump’s security guards outside Trump Tower during a 2015 protest over the then-candidate’s comments about Mexican immigrants. (NBC News)
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that she is unlikely to conduct a White House press briefing anytime soon. Grisham suggested that reporters’ criticisms of Trump’s previous press secretaries, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played a role in Trump’s decision to discontinue the briefings. (Politico)
The Republican National Committee paid more than $160,000 to a law firm that is defending Corey Lewandowski. The payment was made a month before Trump’s former campaign manager testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee. (CNBC)
Conservative leaders are circulating new polling data that suggests a ban on vaping would turn voters against Trump in the 2020 election. The number of adults who vape living in key battleground states vastly outweighs the margins by which Trump won in those states, and conservative leaders are worried that a ban may cost Trump the election. (Axios)
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