House Democrats Not Easing Up on Their Impeachment Probe

The impeachment inquiry is revealing vivid new details about the high-level unease over President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and those of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as the swift-moving probe by House Democrats shows no signs of easing.
 
The testimony from the witnesses, mainly officials from the State Department and other foreign policy posts, is largely corroborating the account of the government whistleblower whose complaint first sparked the impeachment inquiry, according to lawmakers attending the closed-door interviews.
 Former White House advisor on Russia, Fiona Hill, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 14, 2019.One witness, former White House aide Fiona Hill, testified that national security adviser John Bolton was so alarmed by Giuliani’s back-channel activities in Ukraine that he described him as a “hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up.”
 
Another, career State Department official George Kent, testified Tuesday he was told by administration officials to “lay low” on Ukraine as “three amigos” tied to the White House took over U.S. foreign policy toward the Eastern European ally.
 
A former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to testify Wednesday.
 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite intensifying calls from Trump and Republicans to hold a formal vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, showed no indication she would do so. She said Congress will continue its investigation as part of the Constitution’s system of checks and balances of the executive.
 
“This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious. We’re on a path that is taking us, a path to the truth,” Pelosi told reporters after a closed-door session with House Democrats.
 
With Ukraine situated between the United States’ Western allies and Russia, Pelosi noted the inquiry raises fresh questions about Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
“All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president,” she said.
 
Democratic leaders had been gauging support for a vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry after Trump and Republicans pushed them for a roll call. Holding a vote would test politically vulnerable Democrats in areas where the Republican president is popular.
 
Trump calls the impeachment inquiry an “illegitimate process” and is blocking officials from cooperating.
 
But several Democratic freshmen who are military veterans or had careers in national security before joining Congress spoke up during the meeting Tuesday, warning Pelosi and her leadership team a vote was unnecessary and would be playing into Republicans’ hands, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private session.
 
The inquiry is moving quickly as a steady stream of officials appears behind closed doors this week, some providing new revelations about the events surrounding the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. It is on that call that Trump urged Zelenskiy to investigate a firm tied to political rival Joe Biden’s family and Ukraine’s own involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
 FILE – Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, flanked by lawyers, aides and Capitol police, leaves the Capitol, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington.In a daylong session Tuesday, House investigators heard from Kent, who was concerned about the “fake news smear” against the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump recalled in May, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.
 
Kent told the lawmakers that he “found himself outside a parallel process” and had warned others about Giuliani as far back as March. He felt the shadow diplomacy was undermining decades of foreign policy and the rule of law in Ukraine and that was “wrong,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.
 
Connolly said Kent described the results of a May 23 meeting at the White House, organized by Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, where three administration officials — U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — declared themselves the people now responsible for Ukraine policy.
 
 “They called themselves the three amigos,” Connolly said Kent testified, and they said as much to Zelenskiy in Ukraine when they visited.
 
Kent also told them that Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney previously led, was holding up military aid to Ukraine while pressing Zelenskiy to investigate a company linked to Biden’s son.
 
 “He was clearly bothered by the role Mr. Giuliani was playing,” Connolly said.
 
In 10 hours of testimony Monday, Hill, the former White House aide who was a top adviser on Russia, recalled to investigators that Bolton had told her he was not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,'' an apparent reference to talks over Ukraine.
 
  She testified that Bolton asked her to take the concerns to National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg.
 
As White House lawyers now try to learn more about the handling of the Ukraine call, Eisenberg is coming under particular scrutiny, said one White House official. He was both the official who ordered that the memorandum of the call be moved to a highly-classified system, and the one who involved the Justice Department in a complaint from the CIA general counsel. The latter caught the attention of the president, according to the official.
 
Giuliani said Tuesday he was "very disappointed" in Bolton's comment. Bolton, Giuliani said,
has been called much worse.”
 FILE – Rudy Giuliani is seen with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, Sept. 20, 2019.Giuliani also acknowledged he had received payments totaling $500,000 related to the work for a company operated by Lev Parnas — who, along with associate Igor Fruman, played a key role in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Biden and his son Hunter. The two men were arrested last week on campaign finance charges as they tried to board an international flight.
 
Trump’s team won’t comply with the Democratic inquiry. Giuliani and Vice President Mike Pence became the latest officials refusing to cooperate, saying through their lawyers they would not provide information requested by House Democrats as part of the impeachment inquiry.
 
The chairman leading the impeachment investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the stonewalling simply bolsters the charge that Trump is obstructing Congress.
 
“The case for Congress continues to build,” Schiff said. He said Defense Secretary Mark Esper told investigators Sunday that he would comply with a subpoena request, only to be “countermanded” by a higher authority, likely Trump.
 
Sondland, whose text messages with other diplomats are part of a cache released by Volker and made public earlier this month, is scheduled to appear for an interview Thursday.
 
The interviews Monday and Tuesday, like the others conducted by House impeachment investigators, took place behind closed doors. Republican lawmakers have aimed their ire at the process, saying witnesses should be interviewed out in the open.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats were trying to “cancel out” Trump’s election with the march toward impeachment.
 
Five more officials are scheduled this week, mostly from the State Department, though it is unclear if they will all appear.
 Michael McKinley, right, the top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, arrives testify at a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 16, 2019.Michael McKinley, a former Pompeo aide who resigned last week, is set to testify Wednesday. McKinley, a career foreign service officer and Pompeo’s de facto chief of staff, resigned Friday, ending a 37-year career.
 
Once Democrats have completed the probe and followed any other threads it produces, they will use their findings to help determine whether to vote on articles of impeachment.

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White House Assigned ‘3 Amigos’ to Head Ukraine Policy, Top Diplomat Says

A top U.S. State Department official told House investigators privately Tuesday administration officials told him to “lay low” on matters involving Ukraine in deference to the “three amigos” who assumed control of foreign policy toward the Eastern European ally, Democratic Congressman Gerald Connolly said.Connolly told reporters George Kent described a May 23 White House meeting during which President Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, put Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and U.S. envoy to Ukraine  Kurt Volker in charge of Ukrainian affairs.Kent testified, “they called themselves the three amigos” and did so in the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in meeting in Kyiv, Connolly said.Connolly recounted that Kent also told lawmakers the Trump administration was holding up military aid to Ukraine while pressing Zelenskiy to investigate a company linked to the son of political rival Joe Biden.   The Trump-Ukraine scandal was set off when an intelligence whistleblower expressed concern to the inspector general about Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which Trump urged a corruption investigation into the Bidens, including Hunter Biden’s job with a Ukrainian energy company.Trump has described his call with as “perfect” and accuses the Democratic-led house of a witch hunt.U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.On Monday,  a former White House aide reportedly told House investigators that former National Security Advisor John Bolton called Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani “a hand grenade who is going to blow up everybody.”People familiar with her testimony said Hill told the lawmakers that Bolton and others in the Trump administration were troubled by Giuliani’s efforts regarding Ukraine. Bolton reportedly said he was not part of any “drug deal” Giuliani and Mulvaney “are cooking up.”Democrats investigating Trump, and even some inside the White House, suspect Giuliani is running a shadow foreign policy outside the State Department on Trump’s behalf.Hearings continue Wednesday with testimony from Michael McKinley, a former senior advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.Michael McKinley, right, the top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, arrives testify at a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 16, 2019.The case for obstruction by the Trump administration continues to build, House Democrat Adam Schiff says, even after senior administration officials and Giuliani defied subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry, according to House Democrat Adam Schiff.Subpoena ‘too broad’Vice President Mike Pence’s office called the Democratic-led House inquiry “self-proclaimed” and the subpoena “too broad.”The Pentagon said it is “unable to comply” at this time for legal reasons.The White House budget office also rejected a request, as did Giuliani in response to a subpoena for documents related to his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son.The White House has demanded the full House of Representatives vote on whether there should be an impeachment inquiry.Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Tuesday nothing requires such a vote and there will not be one at this time. She said the House is honoring its responsibilities and the constitution.Other officials are scheduled to testify this week, including Sondland, who exchanged a series of text messages with other diplomats who were enlisted to help get Ukraine to investigate Biden.In one message, Sondland wrote that Trump insists there would be no quid pro quo with Ukraine. He is now expected to testify that Trump himself dictated that message. 

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Wisconsin Jury Awards $450,000 in Sandy Hook Defamation Case

A jury in Wisconsin has awarded $450,000 to the father of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting after he filed a defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist writers who claimed the massacre never happened.A Dane County jury on Tuesday decided the amount James Fetzer must pay Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.Fetzer, a retired University of Minnesota Duluth professor now living in Wisconsin, and Mike Palacek co-wrote a book, “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” in which they claimed the Sandy Hook shooting never took place but was instead an event staged by the federal government as part of an Obama administration effort to enact tighter gun restrictions. A judge earlier ruled Pozner was defamed by statements in the book that claimed he fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate.Fetzer called the damages amount “absurd” and said he would appeal.Palacek reached a settlement with Pozner last month, terms of which were not disclosed.
 
Pozner thanked the jury “for recognizing the pain and terror that Mr. Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting,” and emphasized that his case was not about First Amendment protections, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.”Mr. Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened,” he said. “He has the right to express his ignorance. This award, however, further illustrates the difference between the right of people like Mr. Fetzer to be wrong and the right of victims like myself and my child to be free from defamation, free from harassment and free from the intentional infliction of terror.”Pozner testified during the trial that he’s been repeatedly harassed by people who don’t believe the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, including through messages posted to photos of his son on a memorial website. He said Fetzer’s writing caused him to worry about his safety and his family’s safety and how his surviving children could be treated. One of his two daughters is Noah’s twin.

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Лідер КНДР Кім Чен Ин піднявся на білому коні на священну гору перед «великою операцією» – ЗМІ

Лідер Північної Кореї Кім Чен Ин піднявся верхи на білому коні на священний вулкан Пекту, повідомили державні медіа КНДР.

Радник Кіма запевняють, що лідер Північної Кореї планує «велику операцію». Втім, подробиці цієї операції північнокорейські ЗМІ не повідомляють.

Раніше Кім відвідував Пекту перед важливими рішеннями. Наприклад, у 2013 році – перед стратою свого дядька, у 2017 – перед запуском найбільшої північнокорейської міжконтинентальної балістичної ракети, у 2018 – перед переговорами із Південною Кореєю та Сполученими Штатами.

Фотографії з’явилися через кілька днів після перших за більш ніж сім місяців переговорів КНДР зі США про денуклеаризацію.

У лютому 2019 року у В’єтнамі під час своїх других переговорів із президентом США Дональдом Трампом Кім Чен Ин вимагав скасування деяких найбільш болючих санкцій в обмін на демонтаж головного північнокорейського ядерного комплексу. Трамп відмовився від пропозиції, і саміт завершився без підписання угод.

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Протести в Барселоні: десятки людей постраждали, понад 50 – затримані

У ході нічних протестів у Кааталонії й сутичок протестувальників із поліцією постраждали понад 70 людей. Міністерство внутрішніх справ Іспанії повідомило про затримання 51 активіста.

16 жовтня протестувальники продовжили так звані «марші за свободу».

За даними видання El Pais, всього в протестах брали участь десятки тисяч людей, близько 40 тисяч тисяч – у Барселоні. Також мітингувальники вийшли на вулиці Жирони, Таррагони, Льєйди і Сабаделя. У деяких містах протестувальники підпалювали сміттєві баки і перекидали загородження.

 

У Таррагоні близько 500 протестувальників закидали адміністративну будівлю кульками з фарбою. Поліцейські стріляли у них небойовими кулями, повідомляє газета EL Mundo.

В.о. голови уряду Іспанії Педро Санчес висловив рішучий осуд насильства і заворушень на акціях протесту.

Як заявила офіційний представник уряду Каталонії Мерічель Будо, уряд цього іспанського регіону вважає рух прихильників незалежності «миролюбним». Однак вона підкреслила, що «є групи організованих осіб, які завдають шкоди іміджу руху».

 

Раніше протестувальники заблокували дорогу до аеропорту «Ель-Прат», через що були скасовані десятки рейсів. Люди були змушені добиратися до терміналів пішки.

Прихильники незалежності Каталонії мають намір продовжити акції протесту.

Читайте також: Затишшя перед бурею: чого чекати від протестів у Каталонії

Протести почалися після того, як 14 жовтня Верховний суд Іспанії виніс вироки каталонським політикам у зв’язку з їхньою роллю в організації референдуму про незалежність регіону в жовтні 2017 року.

Дев’ять каталонських політиків були визнані винними в підбурюванні до заколоту і отримали тюремні терміни – від 9 до 13 років позбавлення волі. Суд також видав європейський ордер на арешт колишнього глави каталонської адміністрації Карлеса Пучдемона, який живе в еміграції.

 

Референдум про незалежність пройшов у Каталонії в жовтні 2017 року всупереч забороні іспанської влади. За незалежність регіону проголосувало більше ніж 90% каталонців, проти – близько 8%.

Мадрид вважає голосування незаконним і не визнає його результати. Після того, як каталонський парламент спробував їх затвердити, іспанська влада запровадила пряму управління в Каталонії. Після дострокових виборів автономні права Каталонії були відновлені.

10 листопада в Іспанії пройдуть чергові дострокові парламентські вибори. Вони стануть четвертими в країні за чотири роки.

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Захист Фірташа допоміг адвокатові Трампа атакувати Байдена – Time

Джуліані передали матеріали зі свідченнями колишнього генпрокурора України Шокіна

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Democratic Debates: Comments by Each Candidate

The fourth Democratic presidential candidate debates took place Tuesday in Ohio. The Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, discussing the need for the country to be reliable in foreign relations, said, “If you’re Kim Jong Un, for example, why in the world would you believe anything that this president says to contain your nuclear weapons program when he tore up an Iran nuclear agreement we just signed four years ago, which was the strongest agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and now he’s abandoned the very people we’ve given our word to.”Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, when asked about her desire to pull U.S. troops from Syria, said, “The slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we’ve been waging in Syria.  Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand.  But so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011, along with many in the mainstream media who have been championing and cheerleading this regime change war.”Senator Kamala Harris, talking about the impeachment probe against Trump, said, “He has consistently, since he won, been selling out the American people, he’s been selling out working people, he’s been selling out our values, he’s been selling out national security, and on this issue with Ukraine he has been selling out our democracy.”Senator Amy Klobuchar, on the issue of what Democrats must do to defeat Trump, brought up campaigning in key swing states from the last election, saying, “I do it not by going just where it’s comfortable, but by going where it’s uncomfortable.  And that’s why I have been in Pennsylvania, and in Michigan, and in Wisconsin, and all over Ohio and in Iowa.  Because I believe we need to build a blue Democratic wall around those states and make Donald Trump pay for it.”ImmigrationFormer Congressman Beto O’Rourke, talking about gun control and plans for buybacks and seizures of high-powered weapons, said, “If the logic begins with those weapons being too dangerous to sell, then it must continue by acknowledging with 16 million AR-15s and AK-47s out there they are also too dangerous to own.  Every single one of them is a potential instrument of terror.”Senator Bernie Sanders, addressing his recent heart attack and questions about running for president at age 78, said, “We are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country.  That is how I think I can reassure the American people.  But let me take this moment if I might to thank so many people from all over this country including many of my colleagues up here for their love, for their prayers, for their well-wishes.”Climate ChangeBillionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, connecting U.S. cooperative foreign policy with addressing climate change, said, “Any problem that we’re going to do, but specifically climate, we’re going to have to lead the world morally, we’re going to have to lead it technologically, financially and commercially.  This is the proof that this kind of America first, go it alone, trust nobody and be untrustworthy, is the worst idea that I’ve ever heard and I would change it on day one in every single way.”Senator Elizabeth Warren, on the topic of her health care plan amid challenges she has not made its costs clear, said, “I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle class families costs will go down.”Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, discussing big tech companies and whether they have become too powerful, said, “There are absolutely excesses in technology and in some cases having them divest parts of their business is the right move.  But we also have to be realistic that competition doesn’t solve all the problems.  It’s not like any of us wants to use the 4th best navigation app.  That would be like cruel and unusual punishment.

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Афганістан: двоє поліцейських загинули, 20 дітей травмовані через вибух

Щонайменше двоє поліцейських загинули, близько 26 людей травмовані через вибух автомобіля біля поліцейського відділку на сході Афганістану, повідомили представники влади. Серед постраждалих – 20 дітей.

16 жовтня вибух у провінції Лагман частково пошкодив релігійну школу, розташовану поруч із відділком.

«Студенти були поранені уламками скла», – розповів речник губернатора провінції.

Наразі жодне угруповання не взяло відповідальності за вибух. Водночас Міністерство внутрішніх справ Афганістану звинуватило в нападі «Талібан».

Афганістан наразі чекає на результати першого туру виборів президента, які відбулися наприкінці вересня. Під час виборчої кампанії «Талібан»​неодноразово здійснював напади.

Атаки талібів в Афганістані пожвавилися після того, як мирні переговори «Талібану» зі Сполученими Штатами щодо мирної угоди завершилися провалом.

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Ердоган може відвідати Росію в жовтні – Кремль

Президент Туреччини Реджеп Таїп Ердоган може у жовтні відвідати Росію, повідомив речник Кремля Дмитро Пєсков.

Заяву прессекретаря президента Росії Володимира Путіна цитують російські державні агентства новин.

В офісі президента Туреччини про планований візит не повідомляють.

Напередодні в Кремлі повідомили, що під час телефонної розмови з Ердоганом 15 жовтня Путін запросив його приїхати до Росії найближчим часом, і президент Туреччини запрошення прийняв.

 

За повідомленням, під час телефонної розмови йшлося про наступ Туреччини на північному сході Сирії, який вона почала 9 жовтня.

Як заявили в Кремлі, під час розмови Путін поскаржився на гуманітарну ситуацію на турецько-сирійському кордоні і наголосив на необхідності уникати зіткнень між турецькими і сирійськими урядовими силами.

Путін, який є союзником президента Сирії Башара Асада, також сказав Ердоганові, що ситуацією можуть скористатися ув’язнені члени екстремістських організацій, зокрема «Ісламської держави», які «роблять спроби вирватися на свободу і проникнути в сусідні країни».

Президент Туреччини раніше заявив, що не відмовиться від своїх планів у Сирії, незважаючи на будь-які санкції, заборони на постачання зброї його країні з боку Заходу і попередження з Москви.

 

Турецькі війська продовжують наступ на позиції сирійських курдів. Кінцева мета військової операції Анкари – створення на півночі Сирії зони безпеки глибиною в 30 кілометрів від південної турецького кордону, щоб убезпечити себе від нападу «терористів».

Також операція «Джерело миру», за словами Ердогана, дозволить майже двом мільйонам сирійських біженців (із 3,2 мільйона, що живуть в таборах в Туреччині сьогодні) повернутися додому.

 

14 жовтня, відповідаючи на питання журналістів про те, чи немає небезпеки, що Росія може бути залучена в збройний конфлікт із Туреччиною, і чи не час турецьким військовим, з точки зору Москви, залишити сирійську територію, речник російського президента сказав, що не може на нього відповісти, «це можуть зробити тільки військові».

За словами Пєскова, Кремль зараз «не хотів би навіть думати» про можливість військового зіткнення з Туреччиною в Сирії.

 

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Democrats Target Trump and Each Other in Latest Debate

A dozen Democratic presidential contenders took part in what was at times a contentious debate Tuesday in Ohio. The Democrats took several rhetorical shots at U.S. President Donald Trump, but they also did not hesitate to challenge each other on issues like health care, income inequality and the pullout of U.S. forces from Syria. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

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