Posts tagged with "Rudy Giuliani"

DOJ issues 40 subpoenas in a week—expanding its January 6 inquiry

September 14, 2022

Justice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the inquiry, reports The New York Times.

The seizure of the phones—coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Trump after the 2020 election—represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it often has been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records—including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, the Mar-a-Lago Club.

Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Trump’s legal efforts; and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.

Epshteyn and Roman have been linked to a critical element of Trump’s bid to hold onto power—the effort to name slates of electors pledged Trump from swing states won by Joe Biden in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Epshteyn and Roman did not respond to requests for comment. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

The names of those receiving the latest round of subpoenas in the investigation related to January 6 have dribbled out gradually, with investigators casting a wide net on a range of issues, including Trump’s postelection fund-raising and the so-called fake electors scheme.

One of the recipients, people familiar with the case said, was Dan Scavino, Trump’s former social media director who rose from working at a Trump-owned golf course to become one of his most loyal West Wing aides, and has remained an adviser since Trump left office. Stanley Woodward, one of Scavino’s lawyers, declined to comment.

Another was Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. Kerik, who promoted claims of voter fraud alongside his friend Rudy Giuliani, was issued a subpoena by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., his lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said on Monday, September 12. Parlatore said his client had initially offered to grant an interview voluntarily.

The subpoenas seek information in connection with the fake electors plan.

For months, Trump associates have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But in a new line of inquiry, some of the latest subpoenas focus on the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fund-raising conduit for Trump since he left office.

The fact that the Justice Department is now seeking information related to fund-raising comes as the House committee examining the January 6 attack has raised questions about money Trump solicited under the premise of fighting election fraud.

The new subpoenas encompass a wide variety of those in Mr. Trump’s orbit, from low-level aides to his most senior advisers.

The Justice Department has spent more than a year focused on investigating hundreds of rioters who were on the ground at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But this spring, it started issuing grand jury subpoenas to people like Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer with the pro-Trump Stop the Steal group, who helped plan the march to the Capitol after Mr. Trump gave a speech that day at the Ellipse near the White House.

While it remains unclear how many subpoenas had been issued in that early round, the information they sought was broad.

According to one subpoena obtained by The New York Times, they asked for any records or communications from people who organized, spoke at, or provided security for Trump’s rally at the Ellipse. They also requested information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rally, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede, or delay” the certification of the presidential election.

By early summer, the grand jury investigation had taken another turn, as several subpoenas were issued to state lawmakers and state Republican officials allied with Trump who took part in a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in several key swing states that Biden actually won.

At least 20 of these subpoenas were sent out and sought information about, and communications with, several lawyers who took part in the fake elector scheme, including Giuliani and John Eastman.

Around the same time, federal investigators seized Eastman’s cellphone and the phone of another lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump had sought at one point to install as the acting attorney general. Clark had his own role in the fake elector scheme: In December 2020, he helped draft a letter to Governor Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia, saying that the state’s election results had been marred by fraud and recommending that Kemp convene a special session of the Georgia Legislature to create a slate of pro-Trump electors.

At least some of the new subpoenas also requested all records that the recipients had turned over to the House January 6 committee, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Research contact: @nytimes

Striking contrast: Trump officials then and now

June 16, 2022

Many officials have told the January 6 committee that they tried to dissuade the former president from his bid to overturn the election. But in public at the time, their words were far different, reports The New York Times.

For example, when Bill Barr stepped down as attorney general in December 2020, he showered then-President Donald Trump with praise for his “unprecedented achievements” in a flowery letter and vowed that the Justice Department would continue to pursue the president’s claims of voter fraud “to ensure the integrity of elections.”

However, 18 months later, Barr sounded more than slightly different. In videotaped testimony played at the first two public hearings held by the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Americans have now learned what Barr avoided saying publicly about Trump at the time.

“I was somewhat demoralized,” Barr said in testimony played on Monday, June 13—describing his reaction to a monologue from Trump in December 2020 that the voting machines were rigged.

Barr’s thinking, he said, was that the president had “become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff. On the other hand, when I went into this and would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”

Barr’s testimony, as well as that of several aides played at the hearing, represented candid, more brutal versions of what they were saying in public shortly after the election, the Times said.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, and Jason Miller, a top adviser, testified to the committee that they failed to keep Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, away from him on election night. Giuliani, whom Mr. Miller described as “definitely intoxicated,” told Trump that he should declare victory. “It was far too early to be making any calls like that,” Mr. Stepien testified.

Stepien also testified that it became clear after the election that Trump did not have any realistic avenue to overturn the election. But in the days immediately after the vote, he did not publicly challenge Trump or Giuliani. And two days after Election Day, Miller raised the idea on a call with reporters that mysterious bags of ballots were showing up in states where Trump was still contesting the results.

Both appeared to believe that there was an opportunity for challenges that passed in the middle of November. Both continued working with the campaign, but receded from the forefront as Trump put Giuliani in charge of the efforts to overturn the results.

The change for some of the aides reflects the legal consequences of lying to a congressional committee, and how much Trump’s grip on his former aides has loosened in the 17 months he has been out of office.

The testimony so far reflects only what has been released publicly, and it is unclear what else the committee may have. In books written about the election in the last year, Trump’s aides are portrayed as believing that the data showed a likely victory until the afternoon of November 5, when it changed.

Barr, who testified to the committee voluntarily, spoke on the record to Jonathan Karl of ABC News in 2021 about his exasperation with Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud. Barr also recounted tense private conversations with Trump in his memoir this year.

In other cases, people such as Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka began to look toward a life after the White House in Florida, while staying inside the Administration. They tried to solidify policy issues they had worked on and, according to their colleagues, said little to try to dissuade Trump from his bid to stay in power.

And yet they remained silent in public as the president, his advisers and political allies pushed the claims on Americans and used them for fund-raising for Trump.

“After the election, he’s advised by his own people not to go out and declare victory, that they needed time for the votes to come in,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, who led the questioning at the second committee hearing on Monday.

She added: “They directly told the president over and over again, they were false. These were his people. This is Trump World, telling the president that what he was saying was false. And he continued to say the same thing.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Dominion Voting wins key decision in lawsuit against Fox News

December 20, 2021

A judge in Delaware has found that Fox News‘ coverage of election fraud after the 2020 election may have been inaccurate—and is allowing a major defamation case against the right-wing TV network to move forward, reports CNN.

Judge Eric Davis of the Delaware Superior Court declined to dismiss Dominion Voting Systems‘ lawsuit against Fox News in a significant ruling on Thursday, December 16.

The ruling will now allow Dominion to attempt to unearth extensive communications within Fox News as they gather evidence for the case, and the company may be able to interview the network’s top names under oath.

At this stage, CNN notes, the court must assume Dominion’s claims about Fox News are true. Still, Davis called out in the 52-page opinion that Fox News may have slanted its coverage to push election fraud, knowing the accusations were wrong.

Dominion alerted the network’s anchors and executives to information that disproved accusations of widespread vote-switching following Donald Trump’s re-election loss, the judge noted.

“Nevertheless, Fox and its news personnel continued to report Dominion purported connection to the election fraud claims without also reporting on Dominion’s emails … Given that Fox apparently refused to report contrary evidence, including evidence from the Department of Justice, the Complaint’s allegations support the reasonable inference that Fox intended to keep Dominion’s side of the story out of the narrative,” the judge wrote.

The court rejected Fox News’ claims that it was able to discuss Trump advisers’ election fraud conspiracies under principles of news reporting.

Fox News reacted to the ruling saying in a statement, “As we have maintained, FOX News, along with every single news organization across the country, vigorously covered the breaking news surrounding the unprecedented 2020 election, providing full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear-cut analysis. We remain committed to defending against this baseless lawsuit and its all-out assault on the First Amendment.”

The lawsuit alleges Fox News personalities including Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity and their on-air guests Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell spread lies about fraud in the 2020 election that hurt Dominion’s business. It is one of several lawsuits Dominion has brought related to right-wing claims after the election, and is a major win for the company.

The case will continue to move forward toward a final judgment, as both sides gather evidence. The judge still is considering whether Dominion can be considered a well-known entity, which could give Fox News some protection under the law.

Research contact: @CNN

Rudy Giuliani suspended from practicing law in New York over ‘Stop the Steal’ messaging

June 25, 2021

A New York court on Thursday suspended Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in New York State because of his “false and misleading statements” about the election loss of former President Donald Trump, his client.

According to a report by CNBC, “The suspension is a stunning blow to Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who previously served as a top Justice Department official, and the head prosecutor for the federal Southern District of New York.”

Indeed, The Daily Beast reports, Giuliani and Trump have since last November made false claims about the legitimacy of the election of President Joe Biden–—leading a “Stop the Steal” movement among Republicans nationwide.

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division’s grievance committee filed a summary of disciplinary proceedings on Thursday, June 24, outlining multiple “uncontroverted” instances of professional misconduct.

“[W]e conclude that there is uncontroverted evidence that respondent communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020,” the five-member Attorney Grievance Committee said in its filing.

.“These false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client. We conclude that respondent’s conduct immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law, pending further proceedings before the Attorney Grievance Committee.”

All licensed attorneys in New York must abide by professional rules of conduct, which are upheld by judicial departments of the Supreme Court’s Appellate Divisions.

In its 33-page ruling, the grievance committee outlines—and then systematically debunks—a long list of statements Giuliani made during his months-long crusade to overturn Joe Biden’s election win, The Daily Beast notes.

For example, Giuliani claimed in several interviews and state legislature hearings that more absentee ballots came in during the election in Pennsylvania than were sent out before the election—a statement that the committee easily proved was “simply untrue.”

In response, Giuliani told the committee that an unidentified member of his “team” had “inadvertently” taken misleading information from Pennsylvania’s website.

In other examples, Giuliani repeatedly claimed that dead people voted in Georgia, at times quantifying it as 800;  6,000; or 10,515 dead people. (In truth, officials were investigating two potential cases of votes being cast in the name of dead people.) In Pennsylvania, he put the number at 8,021 dead people and then 30,000 dead people.

Public records “unequivocally show that respondent’s statement is false,” the committee said. (Giuliani argued during disciplinary proceedings that he didn’t know the statements were false but he failed to provide “a scintilla of evidence” to support his claim, the filing says.)

The probe was initiated in January, in the wake of the Capitol riot, when State Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman urged the grievance committee to investigate Giuliani’s role.

“I will be filing a formal complaint with the Appellate Division of the Unified Court System asking them to consider revoking Rudy Giuliani’s license to practice law in New York due to rampant and egregious violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct related to his participation in a scheme to unlawfully overturn the results of a free and fair election and his complicity in inflaming a violent coup attempt in our seat of federal government,” Holyman said.

Separately, the New York State Bar Association launched an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer after receiving hundreds of complaints about his role in the Capitol riot.

In a statement in January, NYSBA blamed the mob on Trump’s repeated false claims about the results of the 2020 election—but notes that the “president did not act alone.”

“Hours before the angry mob stormed the Capitol walls, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, addressed a crowd of thousands at the White House, reiterating baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the presidential election and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs,” the association, which counts 24,000 lawyers among its members, said.

While the grievance committee said it wanted to immediately boot Giuliani from practicing law, it said the suspension was only temporary pending a full formal disciplinary proceeding. Giuliani will be able to appeal to decision.

esearch contact: @thedailybeast

Hanging Rudy out to dry: Trump has blown off Giuliani’s pleas for help as feds circle

May 18, 2021

In the weeks since the feds raided Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and office in late April, close allies have tried to ferry a slew of emergency requests to former President Donald Trump and his advisers.

But according to three people familiar with the matter, Trump, as well as several of his legal advisers and longtime confidants, have been hesitant about swooping in to help the embattled Giuliani, who for years worked as Trump’s personal lawyer, a political adviser, and attack dog, The Daily Beast reports.

Indeed, Giuliani also served as a major player in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and as a key driver in the former president’s efforts to nullify Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election.

Team Trump’s reluctance to intervene comes at a time when federal investigators have ramped up their probe into whether Giuliani’s Ukraine-related work during the Trump Administration amounted to an unregistered and illegal lobbying operation on behalf of foreign figures. So far, no charges have been brought against the former New York City mayor as a result of this investigation, which began in 2019.

Trump’s silence has led to simmering frustrations among members of Giuliani’s inner orbit, who privately allege that the ex-president’s team is working to convince him to hang Giuliani out to dry in his hour of need, says The Daily Beast.

“It’s a question now of whether or not [the former president and his team] want to leave Rudy to fend for himself or if they’re going to take a stand against this,” one person close to Giuliani said last week. “Right now, we don’t know.”

Among Giuliani allies’ pleas, the three sources said, have been for Trump to issue a strong verbal or written statement saying Giuliani’s work during the Trump-Ukraine saga was done on behalf of then-President Trump—and therefore not part of an illegal foreign lobbying effort. In other words, Trump’s corroboration would be more than good public relations for Giuliani, it would back up a key pillar of Giuliani’s legal argument that he wasn’t lobbying and is innocent of the allegations.

Other asks have included having the ex-president sign on to a legal motion to have federal investigators throw out any seized communications that Giuliani and his lawyers argue are covered by attorney-client privilege. Further, there have been repeated requests that Trump and his team financially aid Giuliani’s ballooning legal defense and help cover the mounting, sizable expenses.

Two people close to Trump say they have urged the former president to lay low on the matter and to refrain from making too many statements or commitments on Giuliani and the federal probe.

These people have told Trump that it’s unclear what the feds have and that any statement could backfire both on him and on Giuliani. They have been trying to convince the former president for years that Giuliani has been too great a liability for him, and they have suggested that he cut the lawyer loose.

Many of them still blame Giuliani and his Ukraine shenanigans for getting Trump impeached the first time, and the attorney helped lead the Trumpworld and GOP charge in falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the 45th U.S. president.

In the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, both Trump and Giuliani have been slammed with lawsuit after lawsuit over their roles in firing up the mob that committed the anti-democratic assa, The Daily Beast notes.

In recent weeks, Trump himself has argued behind closed doors that he wouldn’t want to say Giuliani was doing all of the Ukraine work—which included a trans-Atlantic dirt-digging expedition on the Biden family that led to Trump’s first impeachment—on Trump’s behalf, according to one of the people close to the former president. Trump’s reasoning, this source relayed, is based in the ex-president’s insistence that he didn’t always know what Giuliani was doing during the Ukraine effort or concocting with his Ukrainian pals, several of whom Trump has privately dinged

The two sources close to the former president each said Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for Giuliani’s ongoing woes but has not committed to overtly assisting his personal lawyer yet. Another person familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that Giuliani has said he remains convinced that Trump won’t abandon him and will step up when the time is right.

Research contact: @thedauilybeast

Michael Cohen predicts Rudy Giuliani will flip on Trump

May 3, 2021

On April 29, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer,” gloated on CNN about the FBI raid on Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan home and office in New York City.

Having been through the experience, himself, Cohen had warned Giuliani—who replaced him as Trump’s personal attorney and fixer from 2016 through 2020 during his White House years—that he was likely to be the next fall guy.

“Rudy, I told you so,” Cohen said on CNN, according to a report by HuffPost. “…What I told him was that Donald Trump doesn’t care about anyone or anything, that he will be the next one to be thrown under the bus. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

Federal agents seized electronic devices in the April 28 early morning raids on Giuliani’s properties —a major escalation in the investigation of his dealings with Ukraine. It’s believed to be linked at least in part to his involvement with the country when Trump was trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, who had been on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“Who knows what Rudy was involved with,” Cohen said. “What we’re going to find out is there are text messages, there are emails, there are different types of communication apps that the FBI knows how to reestablish, even if Rudy, who I don’t think is technological, tried to delete or what have you.”

Indeed, HuffPost reports, Cohen speculated that investigators would be looking at conversations between Giuliani and his Ukrainian associates but might expand their search to others in Trump’s orbit who could be implicated by Giuliani’s correspondence.

Giuliani is notorious for his technological slip-ups and lack of cellphone security, having revealed sensitive information to multiple journalists via butt dials.

“Rudy’s an idiot,” Cohen said. “Rudy behaves in such an erratic manner that who knows what’s on those telephones or what’s on his computers.”

Cohen said he believed that Giuliani would turn on Trump, if necessary.

“Do I think Rudy will give up Donald in a heartbeat? Absolutely. He certainly doesn’t want to follow my path down into a 36-month sentence for something as innocuous as a hush money payment to a porn star … at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.”

Cohen, now one of Trump’s biggest critics, is under house arrest serving the remaining months of a three-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty in 2018 for crimes that included lying to Congress during the Russia investigation; and campaign finance violations, including the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump and friends got ‘special treatment’—COVID care that many Americans cannot access

December 11, 2020

HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and President Donald Trump are not the strongest candidates to survive the coronavirus: They are older, in some cases overweight, male, and not particularly fit. Yet all seem to have come through COVID-19—thanks to access to an antibody treatment that is in such short supply that some hospitals and states are doling it out by lottery, The New York Times reports.

Now RudyGiuliani, the latest member of President Trump’s inner circle to contract the coronavrius, has acknowledged that he received at least two of the same drugs the president received. He even conceded that his “celebrity” status had given him access to care that others did not have.

“If it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in a hospital frankly,” Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, told WABC radio in New York. “Sometimes when you’re a celebrity, they’re worried if something happens to you they’re going to examine it more carefully, and do everything right.”

According to the Times report, Giuliani’s candid admission once again exposes that COVID-19 has become a disease of the haves and the have-nots. The treatment given to President Trump’s allies is raising alarms among medical ethicists as state officials and health system administrators grapple with gut-wrenching decisions about which patients get antibodies in a system that can only be described as rationing.

We should not have Chris Christie and Ben Carson—and in the case of Carson, with intervention by the president—get access,” said Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist who works with drug companies on how to ration scarce medicines, referring to the secretary of housing and urban development’s admission that the president “cleared” him for the therapy. “That is not the way to secure public support for difficult rationing systems.”

The treatments — a monoclonal antibody developed by Eli Lilly and a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies developed by Regeneron — won emergency use authorization, or an E.U.A., from the Food and Drug Administration last month for outpatients with “mild to moderate” disease who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease or for being hospitalized.

With cases soaring, the pool of potential patients is vast.

“One of the challenges is the E.U.A. criteria really are so broad, it could be half of the people with COVID could qualify, but there is clearly not enough,” Erin Fox, the senior pharmacy director for University of Utah Health, who has helped her state draft criteria to determine who is eligible for the drugs, told the Times. “Unfortunately, that leaves each hospital or each state to develop their own rationing criteria.”

Even some top officials at the F.D.A —both career employees and political appointee —have privately expressed concern in recent months that people with connections to the White House appeared to be getting access to the antibody treatments, according to three senior administration officials.

Giuliani, 76, appeared unaware of the scarcity issues, telling interviewers that politicians have taken masks and business closures too far now that COVID-19 is “a treatable disease.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Swalwell: Barr has taken Michael Cohen’s former job as Trump’s fixer

July 29, 2020

On Monday, July 27—one day before Attorney General Bill Barr was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary CommitteeRepresentative Eric Swalwell (D-15th District-California), a member of that panel, said that ever since President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen has been sentenced to prison (and then, home confinement), Barr “has taken the job.”

“Unfortunately, Bill Barr already had a job—as Attorney General of the United States, our nation’s top law enforcement official,” Swalwell wrote in a Newsweek op-ed published Monday. “And we must not let him do both jobs at once.”

Tuesday is the first time Barr will appear before the committee—where Democrats seek to press him on the alleged politicization of the Department of Justice (DOJ), The Hill reported.

Swalwell maintained that Cohen’s actions to shield the president from ridicule—as in the hush money payout of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016—are similar to actions Barr has taken in public office.

“It was reprehensible, but Cohen has taken responsibility for his actions and now is paying the price,” Swalwell wrote. “Meanwhile, Barr seems to be carrying out similar order—but deploying weapons more powerful than Cohen could’ve dreamed of: the power and authority of the U.S. Justice Department.”

The congressman listed examples in his op-ed that are likely topics during the House hearing, such as the administration’s decision to commute Roger Stone’s sentence and its dismissal Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was leading several investigations into Trump’s associates, including his other personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Swalwell said that during the hearing Barr “will be expected to explain in detail why he has put President Trump’s personal and political needs above the interests of the American people and our justice system.

“Unless he can provide us with valid rationales for his actions—beyond the self-serving excuses he has provided publicly so far—we must assume the Attorney General has been reduced to the role of an underworld fixer for Donald Trump, which has terrible implications for the health of our democracy and for Americans’ faith in government,” Swalwell wrote.

Research contact: @thehill

Adam Schiff: ‘Dangerous’ Trump chooses own personal interests over country and Constitution

January 27, 2020

House impeachment manager Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) showed off his prosecutorial chops on Thursday night, January 23, capping the second round of the Senate inquiry, the Huffington Post reports.

Schiff, who is also the chairman of the House Intelligence Commitee, delivered a fervent appeal, the news outlet said; imploring Republicans to vote to remove Donald Trump from office because the president had put his political aspirations ahead of the nation’s interests.

Schiff said that no one was arguing in good faith that Trump wasn’t guilty of putting his personal political interests ahead of the interests of the United States when he withheld aid to Ukraine to pressure its government to smear a political rival.

“He’s done what he’s charged with. He withheld the money, he withheld the meeting, he used it to coerce Ukraine to do these political investigations. He covered it up, he obstructed us, he’s trying to obstruct you, and he’s violated the Constitution,” Schiff said.

“Do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anyone really question if the president is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument ‘Donald Trump would never do such a thing’ because, of course, we know that he would and, of course, we know that he did,” Schiff said.

“That makes him dangerous to us, to our country,” Schiff said. “Why would Donald Trump believe a man like Rudy Giuliani over a man like [FBI Director] Christopher Wray? Why would anyone in their right mind believe Rudy Giuliani over Christopher Wray? Because he wanted to, and because what Rudy was offering him was something that would help him personally, and what Christopher Wray was offering him was merely the truth.”

If Russia tries to interfere in the 2020 election, Schiff said, Trump will choose his own personal interests over the interests of the country yet again.

“Let’s say they start blatantly interfering in our election again to help Donald Trump. Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest? You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country. You know you can’t. You know you can’t count on him,” Schiff said.

“The American people deserve a president they can count on to put their interests first,” Schiff said. “The framers [of the U.S. Constitution] couldn’t protect us from ourselves if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right.”

“No Constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore. And you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to.”

“Right matters. And the truth matters,” Schiff said. “Otherwise we are lost.”

It’s unlikely that Republicans took those words to heart. Were the American people listening? The polling numbers have not been released yet.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Ukraine announces investigation into Trump flunkies amid reports of surveillance of Yovanovitch

January 20, 2020\

Ukraine finally has announced an investigation, but it has nothing to do with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son Hunter. Rather, the small eastern European nation has opened a criminal investigation into allies of President Donald Trump, following reports that they had U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance while she was stationed in Kyiv, the Ukrainian government said on January 16.

According to a report by The New York Times, “The move was a remarkable departure from past practice for the new government of President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has tried hard to avoid any hint of partisanship in its dealings with Washington.”

The current situation has heightened those sensitivities, with Ukraine caught in the middle of the conflict between Democrats and Republicans over the impeachment of Trump for his pressure campaign on Ukraine.

But the recent release of documents in Washington has prompted a change of course, the Times notes. On Tuesday, just before the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate was scheduled to begin, House Democrats published text messages to and from Lev Parnas —who managed the president’s campaign of coercion on the ground in Ukraine for Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer. The texts pointed directly to the surveillance of Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch.

The Internal Affairs Ministry of Ukraine said in a statement released last Thursday that “the published messages contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats on the territory of another state.”

Ukraine “cannot ignore such illegal activities” on its territory, the statement said, adding that the national police had started criminal proceedings after analyzing the new material.

“Our goal is to investigate whether there were any violations of Ukrainian and international laws,” the ministry said in the statement. “Or maybe it was just bravado and fake conversation between two U.S. citizens.”

However, Ukrainian law and international obligations to protect the rights of diplomats serving on its territory forced the country to respond, the statement said. It called on the F.B.I. to provide all available “information and materials” related to people “who may be involved in a possible criminal offense.”

Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister, said the United States should take part in the investigation.

“Ukraine expects the United States of America to respond promptly and looks forward to cooperation,” the Interior Ministry’s statement said.

Research contact: @nytimes