Democrats are doing silly things during this impeachment inquiry phase, things like "following up on threats with subpoenas" and other actual use of powers granted to them
Democrats hit the gas on their impeachment inquiry Friday, subpoenaing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents they demanded weeks earlier that describe a pattern of interactions between President Donald Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and senior Ukrainian officials who they pressured to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Rep Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the subpoena in consultation with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, who have been probing Trump's solicitation of foreign help in the 2020 election.
"The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees. Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the three chairmen wrote in a letter to Pompeo.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The move by the chairmen, however, suggests the House is moving rapidly to advance its fledgling efforts to investigate and draw up articles of impeachment related to Trump's conduct toward Ukraine.
The House subpoena was accompanied by a schedule of depositions for senior State Department officials who have been identified as important players in the Ukraine episode — which was first brought to Congress' attention by an intelligence community whistleblower. The whistleblower, whose story was deemed "urgent" and "credible" by an agency watchdog, indicated that Trump had abused his power to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help his reelection chances during a phone call -- and then the transcript of the call was inappropriately hidden on a highly classified server.
This is the first real big fight for impeachment. If Pompeo refuses both the documents and the depositions, Democrats are going to have to start playing real hardball.
Meanwhile, Trump still can't keep his mouth shut over this, and keeps incriminating himself further on a near daily basis
President Trump, who has alleged that Hunter Biden got the Chinese to put $1.5 billion into an investment fund, said during private remarks this week that he raised the matter with a U.S. executive who has served as his intermediary on trade talks with Beijing.
Trump’s comments could attract interest in light of the impeachment inquiry underway by House Democrats. That investigation is focused on the president’s effort to extract information about Hunter Biden’s job on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at a time when his father was overseeing U.S. policy in that country. Given Trump’s comments, investigators may want to try to learn whether the president similarly sought information about the Bidens in China.
In remarks to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations on Thursday morning, Trump said he discussed Biden’s China work with Stephen Schwarzman, the chief executive of the investment company Blackstone.
“I was with the head of Blackstone . . . Steve Schwarzman,” Trump said, according to a video of the remarks obtained by The Washington Post. After alleging that Hunter Biden got $1.5 billion from the Chinese, Trump said he asked Schwarzman, “ ‘Steve, is that possible?’ ” Trump said Schwarzman asked, “Who got that?” and Trump responded, “Biden’s son.”
Trump said he asked Schwarzman how that could happen, and the executive responded: “Maybe I shouldn’t get involved, you know it’s very political.”
Schwarzman declined to comment. His spokeswoman, Jennifer Friedman, said in a statement that “Steve never spoke to the President about Joe Biden or his family, nor has he had any conversations with the Chinese about Biden or his family.”
Schwarzman wrote in his just-published autobiography “What It Takes” that he traveled to Beijing eight times in 2018 “on behalf” of the Trump administration during trade negotiations. He is unofficially known as Trump’s “China whisperer.”
Schwarzman for years has declined to comment about his many conversations with Trump, so it is unusual for him to dispute Trump’s description of the supposed exchange.
Now maybe this is Trump having a senior moment, but it sounds like to me that Steve Schwartzman just earned himself a House subpoena in this growing impeachment mess.
And the impeachment mess is definitely growing. One of the biggest reveals from the whistleblower complaint is the fact the White House had a separate, classified information system
for Trump's most politically sensitive and potentially damaging transcripts of calls with world leaders, and that Trump's National Security Council directed the Ukraine call with President Zelensky on that server almost immediately after it happened.
The White House acknowledged Friday that administration officials directed a now-infamous Ukraine call transcript be filed in a highly classified system, confirming allegations contained in a whistleblower complaint that have roiled Washington.
In a statement provided to CNN, a senior White House official said the move to place the transcript in the system came at the direction of National Security Council attorneys.
"NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately," the senior White House official said.
White House officials say the transcript was already classified so it did nothing wrong by moving it to another system.
The admission lends further credibility to the whistleblower complaint description of how the July 25 transcript with the Ukrainian president, among others, were kept out of wider circulation by using a system for highly sensitive documents.
But the statement did not explain whether anyone else in the White House was part of the decision to put the the Ukraine transcript in the more restrictive system.
Nor did it delve into an accusation in the complaint that other phone call transcripts were handled in a similar fashion.
Other phone call transcripts.
Now, why would other phone call transcripts be on that classified server? Who would Donald Trump be talking to that he would want those conversations to be hidden oh my god It's Putin and the Saudi crown prince isn't it
White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump's conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter.
Those calls -- both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump -- were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.
In the case of Trump's call with Prince Mohammed, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation.
The call - which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets -- came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence assessments said came at the hand of the Saudi government.
With Putin, access to the transcript of at least one of Trump's conversations was also tightly restricted, according to a former Trump administration official.
It's not clear if aides took the additional step of placing the Saudi Arabia and Russia phone calls in the same highly secured electronic system that held a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine's president and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint made public this week, though officials confirmed calls aside from the Ukraine conversation were placed there.
But the attempts to conceal information about Trump's discussions with Prince Mohammed and Putin further illustrate the extraordinary efforts taken by Trump's aides to strictly limit the number of people with access to his conversations with foreign leaders.
Of course those records were moved to the separate system. Of course the phone calls with Putin and MBS were that bad or worse than the Zelensky calls.
The inn-person meetings? Those were even more awful.
Of course Donald Trump is screwed
President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.
The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.
A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
The White House’s classification of records about Trump’s communications with foreign officials is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats. An intelligence community whistleblower has alleged that the White House placed a record of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, in which he offered U.S. assistance investigating his political opponents, into a code-word classified system reserved for the most sensitive intelligence information.
The White House did not provide a comment Friday.
It is not clear whether a memo documenting the May 10, 2017, meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was placed into that system, but the three former officials said it was restricted to a very small number of people. The White House had recently begun limiting the records of Trump’s calls after remarks he made to the leaders of Mexico and Australia appeared in news reports. The Lavrov memo was restricted to an even smaller group, the former officials said.
This just got blown to hell, guys. Absolute hell.