1/ Trump urged China to investigate Joe Biden and his son despite already facing impeachment for using the office of the presidency to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival. Trump said he hadn't directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate the Bidens, but it's "certainly something we could start thinking about." Trump, Pence, and Attorney General William Barr have now solicited help from Ukraine, Australia, Italy, Britain, and China for assistance in discrediting Trump's political opponents. Trump also doubled down on pressuring the Ukrainian president, saying that "if it were me, I would recommend that [Ukraine] start an investigation into the Bidens." Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate Biden in a July phone call set off the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, who are looking at whether Trump abused the power of his office for political gain. (New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / Axios / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff: Trump's call for China to investigate the Bidens is "repugnant" and "ought to be condemned by every member" of Congress. (Axios)

  • Ukraine's former President said Biden never asked him to open or close any criminal cases. Petro Poroshenko refuted Trump's claims that Biden abused his power to pressure Kiev to dismiss a federal prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas company of which Biden's son was a board member. "The former vice president, at least in personal conversations, didn’t raise any requests to open or close any concrete cases," Poroshenko said. (Bloomberg / The Hill)

  • Pence claimed that he did not discuss Biden during a September meeting with the Ukrainian President. Pence instead suggested that the unfounded allegations against Biden and his son should be investigated. (Reuters / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 986: Trump repeatedly involved Pence in his efforts to pressure the Ukraine president at a time when Volodymyr Zelensky was seeking recognition and support from Washington. In May, Trump instructed Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration, and, months later, Trump had Pence tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was being withheld while demanding for an investigation Biden and his son. Officials close to Pence insist that he wasn't aware of Trump's efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information. One of Pence's top advisers, however, was on the July 25th call and should have had access to the transcript within hours. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 986: Trump called Boris Johnson to ask for help discrediting the Mueller investigation. On July 26th – two days after the prime minister took office and one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky – Trump called Johnson to ask for help gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia. Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump's call with Johnson and told British officials that he believed that information from British agencies led to the Mueller investigation. (The Times / Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 986: Attorney General William Barr traveled to Italy to meet with Italian secret service agents and listen to a taped deposition by the professor who promised George Papadopoulos he could deliver Russian "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Joseph Mifsud applied for police protection in Italy after leaving Link University, where he worked. He gave a taped deposition to explain why people might want to harm him. Since the completion of Mueller's probe in March 2019, Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut have worked to undermine the Mueller investigation and investigate the investigators behind it. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 984: Trump pressured Australia's prime minister to help Barr gather information for a Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Mueller investigation. Trump initiated the discussion – with Barr's knowledge and at his suggestion – in recent weeks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia's help in the Justice Department review that Trump believes will show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins. Similar to the call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, the discussion with Morrison shows Trump using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests. The White House restricted access of the transcript to a small group of Trump's aides. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / Associated Press)

2/ Trump brought up both Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 18th. The White House record of the call was moved to the highly secured electronic system used to also store the phone call with Ukraine's President. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet about the Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed. (CNN)

3/ House investigators questioned the State Department's former special envoy for Ukraine behind closed doors about his interactions with the Ukrainians and Rudy Giuliani. The whistleblower's complaint alleged that Kurt Volker went to Kiev to advise the Ukrainians on how to "navigate" Trump's demands and put Giuliani in touch with Zelensky aides. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wanted to know what Volker knew – and when – about Giuliani's work in Ukraine, Trump's decision to withhold $391 million in security assistance while pressing for investigations into political rivals, and the Trump administration's decision to recall the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Volker shared a September 9th text exchange with Congress in which Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, alluded to Trump's decision to freeze a military aid package to the country. Taylor told Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union and Volker: "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Volker resigned last week and has not been accused of taking part in Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine. (New York Times / ABC News / NBC News)

  • Trump dismissed the ambassador to Ukraine after complaints from Giuliani and allies outside the administration. Marie Yovanovitch was recalled in the spring for allegedly undermining and obstructing Trump's efforts to persuade Kiev to investigate Biden. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ Two of Trump's top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement in August that would have committed Ukraine to investigating Hunter Biden. The statement, drafted by Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, would have also committed the Ukrainian government to look into what Trump and Giuliani believe was interference by Ukrainians in the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton. The statement was written with the awareness of a top aide to the Ukrainian president, as well as Giuliani, but it's unclear if it was delivered to Zelensky. (New York Times)

5/ Giuliani personally gave Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a file of documents of unproven allegations against Biden on March 28th and claimed that he was told that the State Department would take up an investigation of those claims. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick gave Congress the 79-page packet Wednesday, which included nearly 20 pages of communications between State Department employees working to push back against the "fake narrative" that Giuliani was pushing. Linick told Congress that the department's office of legal counsel had provided the documents to him in May, which he gave to the FBI. The documents were in Trump Hotel folders and included "interview" notes Giuliani conducted with Viktor Shokin, the former General Prosecutor of Ukraine who was pushed out at the urging of Biden because he didn't prosecute corruption. (NBC News / CNN)

6/ Giuliani was told that Ukrainian claims about the Bidens' alleged misconduct were not credible. Volker told House investigators that he tried to caution Guiliani that his sources were unreliable and that he should be careful with believing stories by Shokin, Ukraine's former top prosecutor. Trump and Giuliani contend that, as vice president, Biden pushed for the firing Shokin as part of a corrupt plot to stop investigations into a Ukrainian natural gas company that employed Biden's son Hunter. (Washington Post)

7/ Giuliani consulted with Paul Manafort through the federal prisoner's lawyer about Ukraine. Giuliani was seeking information about a so-called "black ledger" to support his theory that the real story of 2016 was not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 83: $1.2 million in payments from a pro-Russian political party have been linked to Paul Manafort's firm in the US. A handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine last August with dollar amounts and dates listed next to the name of Manafort, who was then Donald Trump's campaign chairman. Manafort originally said the transactions in the ledger were fabricated. Now, he says the transactions corroborated are legal. A Ukrainian lawmaker said $750,000 received by Manafort was part of a money-laundering effort. (Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 256: Paul Manafort attempted to leverage his role on Trump's campaign team to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Putin during the campaign. Emails turned over to investigators show how the former campaign chair tried to please Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign after Manafort’s name was listed in a secret ledger of cash payments from a pro-Russian party in Ukraine that detailed his failed venture with Deripaska. At the time, Manafort was in debt to shell companies connected to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine for some $16 million. (The Atlantic)

  • 📌 Day 978: Ukraine will likely pursue the cases that Trump pressured Zelensky to look into. Valentin Nalyvaichenko, the former head of Ukraine's domestic intelligence agency and a member of Ukraine's parliament, said the country will pursue an investigation related to Burisma gas company's alleged multimillion-dollar corruption deals, but not because of Trump's pressure. Rather, Ukraine wants to know whether the founder, Ukraine's ex-minister of natural resources, had paid to quash earlier investigations into the way he acquired gas licenses. Nalyvaichenko said Ukraine should also be interested in an investigation into the "black ledger" that recorded slush-fund payments to Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager. (Daily Beast)

8/ An Internal Revenue Service official filed a whistleblower complaint that he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of either Trump's or Pence's tax returns. The whistleblower, a career official at the IRS, confirmed that he filed a formal complaint and sent it to the tax committee chairs in both houses of Congress and to the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration on July 29th. The existence of the complaint was revealed in a court filing months ago, but little about it has become public. (Washington Post)

poll/ 45% of Americans support a vote by the House of Representatives to impeach Trump. Similarly, 44% said the Senate should convict Trump and remove him from office. (USA Today)


Notables.

  1. Trump told aides last year he wanted U.S. forces with bayonets to block people from crossing into the United States across the Mexico border. He also suggested the excavation of a border trench, or moat, that could be stocked with dangerous reptiles. The New York Times reported on Trump’s proposal for a moat filled with snakes and alligators, along with his suggestion that U.S. forces could open fire on migrants as they attempted to enter the country, which Trump denied on Twitter yesterday. The Washington Post independently confirmed that the president did, in fact, say those things during border security meetings, including when he demanded the wholesale closure of the Mexico border and appeared prepared to enforce the decree with violence. (Washington Post)

  2. The U.S. announced new tariffs on European goods in retaliation for illegal airplane subsidies from the European Union. The goods include 10% tariffs on Airbus planes and 25% duties on French wine, Scotch and Irish whiskies, and cheese from across the continent. The announcement came after the World Trade Organization gave Washington a green light to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods annually, a move that threatens to set off a tit-for-tat trade war between the U.S. and the EU. The tariffs are set to go into effect on Oct. 18. (Reuters)


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