In response to criticism, Pete Buttigieg will open private fundraisers to press and publish names of bundlers

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Facing mounting pressure to open his closed-door fundraisers, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has announced that future private fundraisers will be open to press beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

“In a continued commitment to transparency, we are announcing today that our campaign will open fundraisers to reporters, and will release the names of people raising money for our campaign,” Campaign Manager Mike Schmuhl said in a statement released on Monday. “Fundraising events with Pete will be open to press beginning tomorrow, and a list of people raising money for the campaign will be released within the week.

While campaigning in Iowa over the weekend, Buttigieg was repeatedly asked by reporters about the lag in making a decision. He said that his team was working through options to open the high-dollar events.

“Just want to make sure we do it in the, you know, if we approach this that we do in the right.”

For weeks, Buttigieg was fending off attacks from his 2020 Democratic presidential competitor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as she continued to even call him out by name over the weekend, asking him to open up those doors for transparency.

“No closed-door fundraisers where they make promises no one can see. Every candidate needs to reveal what their bundler program is, where rich people get together and squeeze other rich people to be able to pull in money for the candidate, and in return get all sort of special perks from the campaign,” Warren said in Rye, New Hampshire, on Saturday.

Buttigieg used to release the name of his bundlers early on his presidential campaign, but eventually stopped disclosing that information.

In response to the attacks from Warren, Buttigieg would strike back with a call for the Massachusetts senator to release tax returns from her years as a corporate lawyer. Something Warren says she will not do.

“I certainly think it would be a good idea for her to release tax returns as I have, covering your entire career and in the private sector. I think that’s one way to show your transparency. And I believe in transparency again and being as – as open as I can about my story, and what I’ve proposed today,” the mayor said in Grinnell, Iowa.

Warren did however disclose documents on Sunday night, showing that she received nearly $2 million from her private legal work over three decades.

Schmuhl says the Buttigieg campaign “strives to be the most transparent in the field,” pointing to examples of their three open press bus tours in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the mayor was on the record with reporters aboard the bus as it traveled to events, and the release of 12 years of his tax returns that cover all of the 38-year-old’s professional life.

“No other candidate for president has released the entirety of their tax returns since their education concluded. No other current candidate for president has released the names of people raising money for their campaign. There are important differences in this race among Democratic candidates, from creating a choice of affordable health care choices for all to removing cost as a barrier to college for those who need it, but transparency shouldn’t be one of them,” Schmuhl said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

In response to criticism, Pete Buttigieg will open private fundraisers to press and publish names of bundlers

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Facing mounting pressure to open his closed-door fundraisers, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has announced that future private fundraisers will be open to press beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

“In a continued commitment to transparency, we are announcing today that our campaign will open fundraisers to reporters, and will release the names of people raising money for our campaign,” Campaign Manager Mike Schmuhl said in a statement released on Monday. “Fundraising events with Pete will be open to press beginning tomorrow, and a list of people raising money for the campaign will be released within the week.

While campaigning in Iowa over the weekend, Buttigieg was repeatedly asked by reporters about the lag in making a decision. He said that his team was working through options to open the high-dollar events.

“Just want to make sure we do it in the, you know, if we approach this that we do in the right.”

For weeks, Buttigieg was fending off attacks from his 2020 Democratic presidential competitor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as she continued to even call him out by name over the weekend, asking him to open up those doors for transparency.

“No closed-door fundraisers where they make promises no one can see. Every candidate needs to reveal what their bundler program is, where rich people get together and squeeze other rich people to be able to pull in money for the candidate, and in return get all sort of special perks from the campaign,” Warren said in Rye, New Hampshire, on Saturday.

Buttigieg used to release the name of his bundlers early on his presidential campaign, but eventually stopped disclosing that information.

In response to the attacks from Warren, Buttigieg would strike back with a call for the Massachusetts senator to release tax returns from her years as a corporate lawyer. Something Warren says she will not do.

“I certainly think it would be a good idea for her to release tax returns as I have, covering your entire career and in the private sector. I think that’s one way to show your transparency. And I believe in transparency again and being as – as open as I can about my story, and what I’ve proposed today,” the mayor said in Grinnell, Iowa.

Warren did however disclose documents on Sunday night, showing that she received nearly $2 million from her private legal work over three decades.

Schmuhl says the Buttigieg campaign “strives to be the most transparent in the field,” pointing to examples of their three open press bus tours in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the mayor was on the record with reporters aboard the bus as it traveled to events, and the release of 12 years of his tax returns that cover all of the 38-year-old’s professional life.

“No other candidate for president has released the entirety of their tax returns since their education concluded. No other current candidate for president has released the names of people raising money for their campaign. There are important differences in this race among Democratic candidates, from creating a choice of affordable health care choices for all to removing cost as a barrier to college for those who need it, but transparency shouldn’t be one of them,” Schmuhl said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Despite DOJ watchdog finding origins of FBI’s Russia investigation proper, Trump claims ‘attempted overthrow’ of government

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Even though a major Department of Justice inspector general report released Monday determined the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was launched with an authorized purpose, President Donald Trump claimed that the report “was far worse than I ever thought possible.”

“It’s a disgrace what’s happened with respect to the things that were done to our country,” Trump told reporters at the White House Monday afternoon. “It should never again happen to another president.”

He called the report’s findings “an embarrassment” and “dishonest” and said it was “a very sad day.”

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog found the Russia investigation was not improper, despite significant allegations of wrongdoing in how agents handled the counterintelligence probe of Trump’s presidential campaign.

But despite Trump’s claims, the report did not vindicate months of allegations Trump and his allies made about the origins of the FBI’s investigation. Rather, the department’s inspector general exonerated FBI leadership of the president’s accusations they were engaged in a conspiracy to sabotage his campaign.

Despite the findings, Trump labeled the investigation an “attempted overthrow” of the government.

“It was concocted, and you say what you want, that was probably something that’s never happened in the history of our country,” Trump said.

In an exclusive broadcast interview with ABC Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, FBI Director Chris Wray said he did not think the agency had treated the Trump campaign unfairly.

Even as the president sought to characterize Monday’s findings as a bombshell, he also teased a separate, forthcoming report from a U.S. attorney appointed by Attorney General William Barr to look at the conduct of intelligence agency officials who initiated the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

The attorney, John Durham, said in a statement Monday that even though his investigation was ongoing, based on the evidence his team had collected so far, “last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

Trump said Monday that he believed Durham’s report would prove more significant.

“I look forward to the Durham report, which is this information plus plus plus,” he said. “I’m going to put this down as one of our great achievements.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Despite DOJ watchdog finding origins of FBI’s Russia investigation proper, Trump claims ‘attempted overthrow’ of government

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Even though a major Department of Justice inspector general report released Monday determined the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was launched with an authorized purpose, President Donald Trump claimed that the report “was far worse than I ever thought possible.”

“It’s a disgrace what’s happened with respect to the things that were done to our country,” Trump told reporters at the White House Monday afternoon. “It should never again happen to another president.”

He called the report’s findings “an embarrassment” and “dishonest” and said it was “a very sad day.”

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog found the Russia investigation was not improper, despite significant allegations of wrongdoing in how agents handled the counterintelligence probe of Trump’s presidential campaign.

But despite Trump’s claims, the report did not vindicate months of allegations Trump and his allies made about the origins of the FBI’s investigation. Rather, the department’s inspector general exonerated FBI leadership of the president’s accusations they were engaged in a conspiracy to sabotage his campaign.

Despite the findings, Trump labeled the investigation an “attempted overthrow” of the government.

“It was concocted, and you say what you want, that was probably something that’s never happened in the history of our country,” Trump said.

In an exclusive broadcast interview with ABC Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, FBI Director Chris Wray said he did not think the agency had treated the Trump campaign unfairly.

Even as the president sought to characterize Monday’s findings as a bombshell, he also teased a separate, forthcoming report from a U.S. attorney appointed by Attorney General William Barr to look at the conduct of intelligence agency officials who initiated the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

The attorney, John Durham, said in a statement Monday that even though his investigation was ongoing, based on the evidence his team had collected so far, “last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

Trump said Monday that he believed Durham’s report would prove more significant.

“I look forward to the Durham report, which is this information plus plus plus,” he said. “I’m going to put this down as one of our great achievements.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Judiciary Committee Trump impeachment hearing: Live updates

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The House Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear testimony from Democratic lawyers laying out their case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, setting off a busy two weeks on Capitol Hill expected to end with a House floor vote on the charges ahead of Christmas.

As they prepare to release articles of impeachment against Trump — as early as this week — lawmakers will hear attorneys from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees lay out evidence from the Democrats’ Ukraine investigation and argue their case that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically.

With the White House refusing to participate in the House hearings and accusing Democrats of launching unfair and “baseless” proceedings, Republicans from the same House panels are expected to argue against Democrats’ impeachment efforts and could offer some defense of the president’s actions towards Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Here is how the hearing is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

2:03 p.m.

In his line of questioning, Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins repeatedly asked Goldman, the Democrats’ investigator, to explain why Democrats sought phone records between members of Congress and journalists as part of the investigation.

The report released by the House Intelligence Committee showed multiple calls between the top Republican on that committee Rep. Devin Nunes and Rudy Giuliani.

Goldman declined to give details on how Democrats conducted the investigation.

“I am going to go on record and tell you I’m not going to reveal how we conducted this investigation,” Goldman said.

Collins implied Goldman doesn’t want to answer because it would incriminate himself or Schiff and that Schiff should have been the one to testify.

“You’re here without a pin because your chairman will not testify. That says all we need to hear. He doesn’t stand behind his report so he sends you,” Collins said, referencing the pins worn by members of Congress.

Collins also referenced a part of Goldman’s testimony earlier in the day when he referenced Sondland’s donation to the president’s inauguration, which Sondland testified was to help secure a ticket to the event. Collins noted that Goldman has donated money to Democrats.

When Goldman asked Collins what he was implying about his personal role, Rep. Matt Gaetz interjected to say “the point is, we want Mr. Schiff in that chair, not you.”

Goldman asked to be given time to respond but Nadler did not interject and Collins handed over questioning to Republican Counsel Ashley Hurt Callen.

1:18 p.m.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel in the hearing room note more fireworks during the first round of questioning.

Democratic Counsel Barry Berke has been aggressively questioning Republican Counsel Steve Castor and this time the interruption came from GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner.

Berke was questioning Castor about Jennifer Williams, the aide to Vice President Mike Pence, calling President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s President Zelensky “unusual.”

He accused Castor and Republicans of inaccurately representing Williams’ description of the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call, as part of a larger batch of questions casting aspersions on the GOP report.

“Do you have an explanation, sir, where you said Ms. Williams said that the call was unusual when, in fact, she said it was unusual and inappropriate and of a political nature?” Berke asked.

“We described what Ms. Williams said,” Castor replied.

“No you didn’t,” Berke shot back.

After a number of contentious exchanges with Castor, Berke has periodically returned to Goldman to underscore his points.

“Is it important to be fair to the American people to accurately report what they said?” Berke asked him before questioning Castor about Williams.

“Of course,” he replied.

Nadler then shot back and said that sharp cross examination of a witness is not badgering.

In another testy back-and-forth, Castor suggested Trump wasn’t asking for a Biden investigation.

“Was the president requesting an investigation into Joe Biden?” Berke asked.

“I don’t think the president was asking for an investigation into Joe Biden. It was just a comment,” Castor said dismissively.

Then, questioning Goldman, Berke pointed out that Trump was prepared to discuss corruption on the call via White House talking points, but did not mention it once.

“Did he mention looking into anything other than the two investigations that were politically helpful to him, the 2016 election investigation and the investigation of his political rival, former vice President Joe Biden?” Berke asked.

“No, he did not,” Goldman said.

12:50 p.m.

Castor also argues that Democrats don’t have a case for obstruction of justice charges against the president because the administration has released transcripts of the July 25 call and the earlier call between Trump and Zelenskiy and allowed U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland to testify.

Even so, the White House has refused to cooperate with the inquiry in other ways by declining to provide documents and blocking other administration officials from testifying. “The report presents a story as if the evidence is clear when, in reality, it’s anything but,” Castor says as he wraps up his statement.

After Castor’s presentation, the committee has started the extended round of questions. Nadler and Collins, along with their counsels, will have up to 45 minutes each to question the witnesses.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, tried to object to the fact that Berke, who presented on behalf of the Judiciary Committee, is now seated at Nadler’s side for this round of questioning.

“I know that you don’t get to be a witness and judge in the same case,” Gohmert, a former judge who has accused Democrats of orchestrating a “coup,” shouted at Nadler.

“That’s not a point of order,” Nadler replied.

12:20 p.m.

As the hearing resumes, Steve Castor is now making his second opening statement in his role representing Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

He’s summarizing the report they produced that found no evidence the president committed an impeachable offense.

“The inquiry has returned no direct evidence that President Trump withheld a meeting or security assistance in order to pressure President Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Biden. Witnesses who testified in the inquiry have denied having awareness of criminal activity or even an impeachable offense,” Castor says.

11:32 a.m.

The committee is in a short recess.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders tweets out a letter from Chairman Nadler to Ranking Member Collins saying there is no need for the GOP’s requested witnesses since President Trump isn’t requesting any. Nadler also says there is no need for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to appear.

Even after Nadler has denied Republican requests to hold a hearing with their own witnesses, including, they’re not letting go of that talking point.

During the break a new sign appeared on the Republican side of the dais with Schiff’s face on a milk carton. It reads “Missing” and says “if found contact Jerry Nadler.” according to Faulders and ABC’s Benjamin Siegel in the hearing room.

10:47 a.m.

The committee is now hearing summations of the evidence from both sides, starting with the Director of Investigations for the House Intelligence Committee, Daniel Goldman.

He’ll be followed by the Republican presentation.

“We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, abused the power of his office—the American presidency—for his personal political benefit.” Goldman says.

“President Trump directed a months-long scheme to solicit foreign help in his 2020 reelection campaign, withholding official acts from the government of Ukraine in order to coerce and secure political interference in our domestic affairs,” he begins. “As part of the scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts.

“He applied this pressure himself and through his agents within and outside of the U.S. government by conditioning a desperately-sought Oval Office meeting and $391 million in taxpayer-funded, congressionally-appropriated military assistance—vital to Ukraine’s ability to fend off Russian aggression—on the announcement of political investigations helpful to his personal interests.” Goldman says.

10:18 a.m.

Republican Counsel Steve Castor presents the counterargument to Berke’s conclusions, saying he would provide context to support that the evidence does not support Democrats’ allegations.

“Overall, at best, the impeachment inquiry record is riddled with hearsay, presumptions, and speculation. There are conflicting and ambiguous facts throughout the record—facts that could be interpreted in different ways,” Castor says in his opening statement.

He argues that Democrats’ haven’t proven Trump acted with malicious intent in his dealings with Ukraine and cited comments from President Zelenskiy that he did not feel pressured on the July 25 call.

Castor also cites testimony from legal experts last week, specifically from George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, who raised concerns Democrats are pushing for impeachment too quickly to fully build a case and pursue more information.

“The artificial and arbitrary political deadline by which Democrats are determined to finish impeachment by Christmas leads to a rushed process. And missed opportunities to obtain relevant information,” Castor said.

9:52 a.m.

Barry Berke, the majority counsel for the Judiciary Committee, argues the evidence collected in the impeachment inquiry so far shows President Trump’s behavior fits the description of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and constitutes an impeachable offense.

Berke specifically says the president abused his power, betrayed the national interest, and took actions that would compromise American elections.

“The scheme by President Trump so brazen, so clear, supported by documents, actions, sworn testimony, uncontradicted, contemporaneous records, that it’s hard to imagine that anybody could dispute those acts, let alone argue that conduct does not constitute an impeachable offense or offenses. This is a big deal. President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do,” he says.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders in the hearing room reports: The overwhelming theme from Democratic Counsel Berke was this: President Trump thought he got away with the Ukraine scheme. He used his powers to interfere with the investigation, but then he got caught. And his abuse of power is an impeachable offense.

Berke played multiple clips of the president, including one where Trump said: “Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” referring to the Constitution.

Berke said that the president’s “excuse” is that the military aid to Ukraine was ultimately released but Berke argue the aid was released only “after President Trump got caught doing the scheme.”

“He put his political re-election interests over the nation’s national security and the integrity of its election. He did it intentionally. He did it corruptly. He abused his powers in ways that the founders feared most. No person in this country has the ability to prevent investigations and neither does the president,” Berke says.

9:25 a.m.

Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins continues to attack Democrats’ for pursuing a predetermined outcome in the impeachment inquiry, saying they already decided to vote to impeach President Trump.

“For anyone to think that this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves,” he says in his opening statement.

“At the end of the day all this is about is a clock and a calendar, ” Collins says.

9:17 a.m.

As he gets back to his opening statement, Nadler cites testimony from constitutional experts from last week’s hearing, setting up the Democrats’ argument that President Trump’s behavior exactly fulfills the type of abuse of power the framers had in mind when they laid out the process for impeachment.

“As we heard in our last hearing, the framers of the Constitution were careful students of history and clear in their vision for the new nation. They knew that threats to democracy can take many forms, that we must protect against them,” Nadler says.

“The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office,” he continues.

“Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action. When combined, in a single course of action, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office,” he says.

9:08 a.m.

The New York Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, gavels the hearing into session at 9:08 a.m.

Republicans raise an objection within seconds of Nadler beginning his opening statement, setting the stage for more objections to come.

A protester starts shouting from the back of the room: “Jerry Nadler you’re the one committing treason” and “We voted for Donald Trump” — interrupting Nadler. Capitol Police remove him from the room.

9 a.m.

The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. but relatively few committee members are in the room.

Republicans have set up a large sign with the words “Where’s Adam?” in white letters against a black background, signaling their displeasure that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will not be testifying as they wanted. They have repeatedly accused him of lying about whether he knew and coordinated with the intelligence community whistleblower who triggered the impeachment probe.

ABC’s Mary Bruce reports this might the last chance Democrats have to persuade the American public on such a nationally-televised scale before a vote on articles of impeachment.

8:40 a.m.

ABC’s Benjamin Siegel and Allison Pecorin reported a Democratic official told reporters on Saturday that Democrats intend to use Monday’s hearing to make their “theory of the case” against President Donald Trump and his abuse of power.

Democrats, according to the official, plan to argue on Monday that Trump’s use of his office for personal political gain ahead of the election represents the “framers’ nightmare,” by acting in a way that “betrays our national security and corrupts our elections using a foreign power.”

They will argue that Trump’s actions were part of a “repeated pattern,” and that the Ukraine episode is important because it represents a “future pattern,” highlighting the urgency of moving quickly to impeach the president ahead of the 2020 election.

8:35 a.m.

As members start to take their seats in the hearing room, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a difficult challenge making the final call on how broad articles of impeachment will be.

She says Pelosi has to be especially mindful of the views of Democrats in swing districts.

GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tells ABC News’ Tom Llamas that there is no evidence of any impeachment conduct, that Democrats can’t point to any “crimes committed.”

“This whole thing has been a farce,” she says.

Democratic members and aides spent the weekend in Washington preparing for the upcoming hearings. Judiciary Committee Democratic staff also released a report highlighting the historical and legal arguments behind their impeachment efforts against Trump.

On Saturday, they huddled with Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who’s been advising the caucus throughout the impeachment process. They also prepared for the upcoming hearing in the stately Longworth Office Building hearing room, which has hosted weeks of public impeachment proceedings.

Working with committee and leadership staff behind closed doors, they prepared their questions for Monday’s hearing, with former Hill staffers playing the roles of committee Republicans, according to sources familiar with the preparations.

They also discussed the potential charges against Trump, which they’re expected to introduce and approve in the Judiciary Committee later this week.

“We need to make it clear within those articles that there is a pattern of conduct here, that Ukraine was the most egregious example of the president abusing his office while he was president of the United States, shaking down a foreign nation to interfere in our elections,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Sunday. “We need to be focused, we need to be clear, we need to present the best possible case if we are moving in this direction.”

In an interview with CNN Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., did not commit to including evidence of obstruction of justice from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the forthcoming articles.

“We have a very rock-solid case,” Nadler said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.”

House Republicans are expected to argue that the Democrats’ case falls short, that they lack sufficient firsthand evidence to conclusively charge Trump with abusing his power and undermining U.S. national security in his dealings with Ukraine.

In requests for additional witnesses and information, they have outlined a potential GOP strategy for a Senate impeachment trial that could focus on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in Ukraine, as well as the intelligence community whistleblower behind the complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Judiciary Committee Trump impeachment hearing: Live updates

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The House Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear testimony from Democratic lawyers laying out their case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, setting off a busy two weeks on Capitol Hill expected to end with a House floor vote on the charges ahead of Christmas.

As they prepare to release articles of impeachment against Trump — as early as this week — lawmakers will hear attorneys from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees lay out evidence from the Democrats’ Ukraine investigation and argue their case that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically.

With the White House refusing to participate in the House hearings and accusing Democrats of launching unfair and “baseless” proceedings, Republicans from the same House panels are expected to argue against Democrats’ impeachment efforts and could offer some defense of the president’s actions towards Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Here is how the hearing is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

2:03 p.m.

In his line of questioning, Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins repeatedly asked Goldman, the Democrats’ investigator, to explain why Democrats sought phone records between members of Congress and journalists as part of the investigation.

The report released by the House Intelligence Committee showed multiple calls between the top Republican on that committee Rep. Devin Nunes and Rudy Giuliani.

Goldman declined to give details on how Democrats conducted the investigation.

“I am going to go on record and tell you I’m not going to reveal how we conducted this investigation,” Goldman said.

Collins implied Goldman doesn’t want to answer because it would incriminate himself or Schiff and that Schiff should have been the one to testify.

“You’re here without a pin because your chairman will not testify. That says all we need to hear. He doesn’t stand behind his report so he sends you,” Collins said, referencing the pins worn by members of Congress.

Collins also referenced a part of Goldman’s testimony earlier in the day when he referenced Sondland’s donation to the president’s inauguration, which Sondland testified was to help secure a ticket to the event. Collins noted that Goldman has donated money to Democrats.

When Goldman asked Collins what he was implying about his personal role, Rep. Matt Gaetz interjected to say “the point is, we want Mr. Schiff in that chair, not you.”

Goldman asked to be given time to respond but Nadler did not interject and Collins handed over questioning to Republican Counsel Ashley Hurt Callen.

1:18 p.m.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel in the hearing room note more fireworks during the first round of questioning.

Democratic Counsel Barry Berke has been aggressively questioning Republican Counsel Steve Castor and this time the interruption came from GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner.

Berke was questioning Castor about Jennifer Williams, the aide to Vice President Mike Pence, calling President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s President Zelensky “unusual.”

He accused Castor and Republicans of inaccurately representing Williams’ description of the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call, as part of a larger batch of questions casting aspersions on the GOP report.

“Do you have an explanation, sir, where you said Ms. Williams said that the call was unusual when, in fact, she said it was unusual and inappropriate and of a political nature?” Berke asked.

“We described what Ms. Williams said,” Castor replied.

“No you didn’t,” Berke shot back.

After a number of contentious exchanges with Castor, Berke has periodically returned to Goldman to underscore his points.

“Is it important to be fair to the American people to accurately report what they said?” Berke asked him before questioning Castor about Williams.

“Of course,” he replied.

Nadler then shot back and said that sharp cross examination of a witness is not badgering.

In another testy back-and-forth, Castor suggested Trump wasn’t asking for a Biden investigation.

“Was the president requesting an investigation into Joe Biden?” Berke asked.

“I don’t think the president was asking for an investigation into Joe Biden. It was just a comment,” Castor said dismissively.

Then, questioning Goldman, Berke pointed out that Trump was prepared to discuss corruption on the call via White House talking points, but did not mention it once.

“Did he mention looking into anything other than the two investigations that were politically helpful to him, the 2016 election investigation and the investigation of his political rival, former vice President Joe Biden?” Berke asked.

“No, he did not,” Goldman said.

12:50 p.m.

Castor also argues that Democrats don’t have a case for obstruction of justice charges against the president because the administration has released transcripts of the July 25 call and the earlier call between Trump and Zelenskiy and allowed U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland to testify.

Even so, the White House has refused to cooperate with the inquiry in other ways by declining to provide documents and blocking other administration officials from testifying. “The report presents a story as if the evidence is clear when, in reality, it’s anything but,” Castor says as he wraps up his statement.

After Castor’s presentation, the committee has started the extended round of questions. Nadler and Collins, along with their counsels, will have up to 45 minutes each to question the witnesses.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, tried to object to the fact that Berke, who presented on behalf of the Judiciary Committee, is now seated at Nadler’s side for this round of questioning.

“I know that you don’t get to be a witness and judge in the same case,” Gohmert, a former judge who has accused Democrats of orchestrating a “coup,” shouted at Nadler.

“That’s not a point of order,” Nadler replied.

12:20 p.m.

As the hearing resumes, Steve Castor is now making his second opening statement in his role representing Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

He’s summarizing the report they produced that found no evidence the president committed an impeachable offense.

“The inquiry has returned no direct evidence that President Trump withheld a meeting or security assistance in order to pressure President Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Biden. Witnesses who testified in the inquiry have denied having awareness of criminal activity or even an impeachable offense,” Castor says.

11:32 a.m.

The committee is in a short recess.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders tweets out a letter from Chairman Nadler to Ranking Member Collins saying there is no need for the GOP’s requested witnesses since President Trump isn’t requesting any. Nadler also says there is no need for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to appear.

Even after Nadler has denied Republican requests to hold a hearing with their own witnesses, including, they’re not letting go of that talking point.

During the break a new sign appeared on the Republican side of the dais with Schiff’s face on a milk carton. It reads “Missing” and says “if found contact Jerry Nadler.” according to Faulders and ABC’s Benjamin Siegel in the hearing room.

10:47 a.m.

The committee is now hearing summations of the evidence from both sides, starting with the Director of Investigations for the House Intelligence Committee, Daniel Goldman.

He’ll be followed by the Republican presentation.

“We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, abused the power of his office—the American presidency—for his personal political benefit.” Goldman says.

“President Trump directed a months-long scheme to solicit foreign help in his 2020 reelection campaign, withholding official acts from the government of Ukraine in order to coerce and secure political interference in our domestic affairs,” he begins. “As part of the scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts.

“He applied this pressure himself and through his agents within and outside of the U.S. government by conditioning a desperately-sought Oval Office meeting and $391 million in taxpayer-funded, congressionally-appropriated military assistance—vital to Ukraine’s ability to fend off Russian aggression—on the announcement of political investigations helpful to his personal interests.” Goldman says.

10:18 a.m.

Republican Counsel Steve Castor presents the counterargument to Berke’s conclusions, saying he would provide context to support that the evidence does not support Democrats’ allegations.

“Overall, at best, the impeachment inquiry record is riddled with hearsay, presumptions, and speculation. There are conflicting and ambiguous facts throughout the record—facts that could be interpreted in different ways,” Castor says in his opening statement.

He argues that Democrats’ haven’t proven Trump acted with malicious intent in his dealings with Ukraine and cited comments from President Zelenskiy that he did not feel pressured on the July 25 call.

Castor also cites testimony from legal experts last week, specifically from George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, who raised concerns Democrats are pushing for impeachment too quickly to fully build a case and pursue more information.

“The artificial and arbitrary political deadline by which Democrats are determined to finish impeachment by Christmas leads to a rushed process. And missed opportunities to obtain relevant information,” Castor said.

9:52 a.m.

Barry Berke, the majority counsel for the Judiciary Committee, argues the evidence collected in the impeachment inquiry so far shows President Trump’s behavior fits the description of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and constitutes an impeachable offense.

Berke specifically says the president abused his power, betrayed the national interest, and took actions that would compromise American elections.

“The scheme by President Trump so brazen, so clear, supported by documents, actions, sworn testimony, uncontradicted, contemporaneous records, that it’s hard to imagine that anybody could dispute those acts, let alone argue that conduct does not constitute an impeachable offense or offenses. This is a big deal. President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do,” he says.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders in the hearing room reports: The overwhelming theme from Democratic Counsel Berke was this: President Trump thought he got away with the Ukraine scheme. He used his powers to interfere with the investigation, but then he got caught. And his abuse of power is an impeachable offense.

Berke played multiple clips of the president, including one where Trump said: “Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” referring to the Constitution.

Berke said that the president’s “excuse” is that the military aid to Ukraine was ultimately released but Berke argue the aid was released only “after President Trump got caught doing the scheme.”

“He put his political re-election interests over the nation’s national security and the integrity of its election. He did it intentionally. He did it corruptly. He abused his powers in ways that the founders feared most. No person in this country has the ability to prevent investigations and neither does the president,” Berke says.

9:25 a.m.

Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins continues to attack Democrats’ for pursuing a predetermined outcome in the impeachment inquiry, saying they already decided to vote to impeach President Trump.

“For anyone to think that this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves,” he says in his opening statement.

“At the end of the day all this is about is a clock and a calendar, ” Collins says.

9:17 a.m.

As he gets back to his opening statement, Nadler cites testimony from constitutional experts from last week’s hearing, setting up the Democrats’ argument that President Trump’s behavior exactly fulfills the type of abuse of power the framers had in mind when they laid out the process for impeachment.

“As we heard in our last hearing, the framers of the Constitution were careful students of history and clear in their vision for the new nation. They knew that threats to democracy can take many forms, that we must protect against them,” Nadler says.

“The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office,” he continues.

“Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action. When combined, in a single course of action, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office,” he says.

9:08 a.m.

The New York Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, gavels the hearing into session at 9:08 a.m.

Republicans raise an objection within seconds of Nadler beginning his opening statement, setting the stage for more objections to come.

A protester starts shouting from the back of the room: “Jerry Nadler you’re the one committing treason” and “We voted for Donald Trump” — interrupting Nadler. Capitol Police remove him from the room.

9 a.m.

The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. but relatively few committee members are in the room.

Republicans have set up a large sign with the words “Where’s Adam?” in white letters against a black background, signaling their displeasure that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will not be testifying as they wanted. They have repeatedly accused him of lying about whether he knew and coordinated with the intelligence community whistleblower who triggered the impeachment probe.

ABC’s Mary Bruce reports this might the last chance Democrats have to persuade the American public on such a nationally-televised scale before a vote on articles of impeachment.

8:40 a.m.

ABC’s Benjamin Siegel and Allison Pecorin reported a Democratic official told reporters on Saturday that Democrats intend to use Monday’s hearing to make their “theory of the case” against President Donald Trump and his abuse of power.

Democrats, according to the official, plan to argue on Monday that Trump’s use of his office for personal political gain ahead of the election represents the “framers’ nightmare,” by acting in a way that “betrays our national security and corrupts our elections using a foreign power.”

They will argue that Trump’s actions were part of a “repeated pattern,” and that the Ukraine episode is important because it represents a “future pattern,” highlighting the urgency of moving quickly to impeach the president ahead of the 2020 election.

8:35 a.m.

As members start to take their seats in the hearing room, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a difficult challenge making the final call on how broad articles of impeachment will be.

She says Pelosi has to be especially mindful of the views of Democrats in swing districts.

GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tells ABC News’ Tom Llamas that there is no evidence of any impeachment conduct, that Democrats can’t point to any “crimes committed.”

“This whole thing has been a farce,” she says.

Democratic members and aides spent the weekend in Washington preparing for the upcoming hearings. Judiciary Committee Democratic staff also released a report highlighting the historical and legal arguments behind their impeachment efforts against Trump.

On Saturday, they huddled with Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who’s been advising the caucus throughout the impeachment process. They also prepared for the upcoming hearing in the stately Longworth Office Building hearing room, which has hosted weeks of public impeachment proceedings.

Working with committee and leadership staff behind closed doors, they prepared their questions for Monday’s hearing, with former Hill staffers playing the roles of committee Republicans, according to sources familiar with the preparations.

They also discussed the potential charges against Trump, which they’re expected to introduce and approve in the Judiciary Committee later this week.

“We need to make it clear within those articles that there is a pattern of conduct here, that Ukraine was the most egregious example of the president abusing his office while he was president of the United States, shaking down a foreign nation to interfere in our elections,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Sunday. “We need to be focused, we need to be clear, we need to present the best possible case if we are moving in this direction.”

In an interview with CNN Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., did not commit to including evidence of obstruction of justice from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the forthcoming articles.

“We have a very rock-solid case,” Nadler said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.”

House Republicans are expected to argue that the Democrats’ case falls short, that they lack sufficient firsthand evidence to conclusively charge Trump with abusing his power and undermining U.S. national security in his dealings with Ukraine.

In requests for additional witnesses and information, they have outlined a potential GOP strategy for a Senate impeachment trial that could focus on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in Ukraine, as well as the intelligence community whistleblower behind the complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Cruz floats debunked narrative about which country meddled in 2016 election

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (NEW YORK) — GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won praise from President Donald Trump on Monday after he became the latest Republican senator to suggest Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, a widely debunked conspiracy theory that the U.S. intelligence community has also notably disputed.

“I do. And I think there’s considerable evidence of that,” Cruz said when he was asked on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday if he believes Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

“Russia clearly interfered in our election. But here’s the game the media is playing. Because Russia interfered, the media pretends nobody else did. Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election,” Cruz said.

Cruz pointed to a 2016 op-ed written by a former Ukrainian ambassador blasting President Donald Trump as proof that interference occurred. In the op-ed, the ambassador expressed concern about then-candidate Trump’s comments that he would consider recognizing Putin’s military annexation of Crimea.

His television interview did not go unnoticed by Trump, who thanked Cruz during a roundtable discussion on education policy at the White House on Monday.

“By the way you were great on television this weekend. I admired that very …. you did a fantastic job. Everyone’s talking about it in a very positive way, too, so, congratulations,” Trump said to Cruz.

Cruz’s assertions about Ukraine were endorsed last week by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who also insisted “both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.”

Kennedy asserted that news media reports indicated that the former Ukrainian president favored the former secretary of state to win the presidency over then-Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“I think it’s been well documented in the Financial Times, in Politico, in the Economist, in the Washington Examiner, even on CBS, that the prime minister of Ukraine, the interior minister, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, the head of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption League, all meddled in the election on social media and otherwise,” Kennedy said last week.

“The fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton,” the Louisiana Republican added.

Despite Kennedy and Cruz’ claims, there is no evidence that suggests the Ukraine government aided Clinton in 2016.

At the Kremlin’s direction, Russian intelligence services waged a pro-Trump disinformation campaign on social media and secretly stole tens of thousands of private emails from the Democratic National Committee, the U.S. intelligence community concluded.

Cruz was asked if he had participated in any intelligence briefings provided to members of Congress on Russia’s efforts to shift blame to Ukraine over election interference.

“I have been in multiple briefings. I have been in multiple briefings, year after year after year, about foreign interference in our election. Russia has tried to interfere in our elections. China’s tried to interfere in our elections. North Korea’s tried to interfere in our elections. Ukraine has tried to interfere in our elections,” Cruz said. “This is not new. 2016’s not the first year they did it. And they’re going to keep trying. And so we need to be strong in dealing with it. But the media needs to actually report facts.”

A handful of Republican senators have refuted the unfounded claims in recent days.

“I saw no evidence from our intelligence community, nor from our representatives today from the Department of State, that there is any evidence of any kind that suggests Ukraine interfered in our elections,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Ut., said last week. “We have ample evidence that Russia interfered in our elections.”

Even the president’s top Republican ally in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, said he’s seen no evidence suggesting election interference by Ukraine.

“I have no knowledge that the Ukraine did anything to interfere with our elections other than the press reports,” Graham told reporters, “and to suggest that we know that, I think, would be a stretch, because I don’t think anybody does.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, G-Fla., told POLITICO last week that it’s common for countries to prefer one presidential candidate over another.

“I think it’s important to distinguish op-eds… from the systemic effort to undermine our election systems,” Rubio said. “There’s no way to compare any other efforts to what Russia did in 2016. … There’s nothing that compares not even in the same universe.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in at a Monday news conference.

“The President’s defenders have repeated this conspiracy anyway, including shamefully several of my colleagues in the Senate, in an effort to protect the president at all costs, the Grand Old Party in the Senate has become the conspiracy caucus. One conspiracy theory after another, none of them with basis and fact. It’s no laughing matter. These conspiracies are not harmless, they are sinister, they are insidious, they damage our democracy,” Schumer said.

“The fact that Senate Republicans are willing to put wild wind into the sails of these baseless conspiracy theories is beyond alarming, it hurts our country. It hurts our country,” he said.

Cruz’s comments come after several administration officials have warned against Russia’s efforts to pit the blame on Ukraine.

The No. 3 State Department official, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he wasn’t aware of Ukraine meddling in 2016.

“Are you aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election?” the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, asked Hale during a committee hearing last week.

“I am not,” Hale replied.

The White House’s former top Russia expert, Fiona Hill, who testified before the House Intelligence Committee last month as part of the House impeachment inquiry, also said the theory that Ukraine interfered in 2016 is “a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Cruz floats debunked narrative about which country meddled in 2016 election

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (NEW YORK) — GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won praise from President Donald Trump on Monday after he became the latest Republican senator to suggest Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, a widely debunked conspiracy theory that the U.S. intelligence community has also notably disputed.

“I do. And I think there’s considerable evidence of that,” Cruz said when he was asked on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday if he believes Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

“Russia clearly interfered in our election. But here’s the game the media is playing. Because Russia interfered, the media pretends nobody else did. Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election,” Cruz said.

Cruz pointed to a 2016 op-ed written by a former Ukrainian ambassador blasting President Donald Trump as proof that interference occurred. In the op-ed, the ambassador expressed concern about then-candidate Trump’s comments that he would consider recognizing Putin’s military annexation of Crimea.

His television interview did not go unnoticed by Trump, who thanked Cruz during a roundtable discussion on education policy at the White House on Monday.

“By the way you were great on television this weekend. I admired that very …. you did a fantastic job. Everyone’s talking about it in a very positive way, too, so, congratulations,” Trump said to Cruz.

Cruz’s assertions about Ukraine were endorsed last week by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who also insisted “both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.”

Kennedy asserted that news media reports indicated that the former Ukrainian president favored the former secretary of state to win the presidency over then-Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“I think it’s been well documented in the Financial Times, in Politico, in the Economist, in the Washington Examiner, even on CBS, that the prime minister of Ukraine, the interior minister, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, the head of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption League, all meddled in the election on social media and otherwise,” Kennedy said last week.

“The fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton,” the Louisiana Republican added.

Despite Kennedy and Cruz’ claims, there is no evidence that suggests the Ukraine government aided Clinton in 2016.

At the Kremlin’s direction, Russian intelligence services waged a pro-Trump disinformation campaign on social media and secretly stole tens of thousands of private emails from the Democratic National Committee, the U.S. intelligence community concluded.

Cruz was asked if he had participated in any intelligence briefings provided to members of Congress on Russia’s efforts to shift blame to Ukraine over election interference.

“I have been in multiple briefings. I have been in multiple briefings, year after year after year, about foreign interference in our election. Russia has tried to interfere in our elections. China’s tried to interfere in our elections. North Korea’s tried to interfere in our elections. Ukraine has tried to interfere in our elections,” Cruz said. “This is not new. 2016’s not the first year they did it. And they’re going to keep trying. And so we need to be strong in dealing with it. But the media needs to actually report facts.”

A handful of Republican senators have refuted the unfounded claims in recent days.

“I saw no evidence from our intelligence community, nor from our representatives today from the Department of State, that there is any evidence of any kind that suggests Ukraine interfered in our elections,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Ut., said last week. “We have ample evidence that Russia interfered in our elections.”

Even the president’s top Republican ally in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, said he’s seen no evidence suggesting election interference by Ukraine.

“I have no knowledge that the Ukraine did anything to interfere with our elections other than the press reports,” Graham told reporters, “and to suggest that we know that, I think, would be a stretch, because I don’t think anybody does.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, G-Fla., told POLITICO last week that it’s common for countries to prefer one presidential candidate over another.

“I think it’s important to distinguish op-eds… from the systemic effort to undermine our election systems,” Rubio said. “There’s no way to compare any other efforts to what Russia did in 2016. … There’s nothing that compares not even in the same universe.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in at a Monday news conference.

“The President’s defenders have repeated this conspiracy anyway, including shamefully several of my colleagues in the Senate, in an effort to protect the president at all costs, the Grand Old Party in the Senate has become the conspiracy caucus. One conspiracy theory after another, none of them with basis and fact. It’s no laughing matter. These conspiracies are not harmless, they are sinister, they are insidious, they damage our democracy,” Schumer said.

“The fact that Senate Republicans are willing to put wild wind into the sails of these baseless conspiracy theories is beyond alarming, it hurts our country. It hurts our country,” he said.

Cruz’s comments come after several administration officials have warned against Russia’s efforts to pit the blame on Ukraine.

The No. 3 State Department official, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he wasn’t aware of Ukraine meddling in 2016.

“Are you aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election?” the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, asked Hale during a committee hearing last week.

“I am not,” Hale replied.

The White House’s former top Russia expert, Fiona Hill, who testified before the House Intelligence Committee last month as part of the House impeachment inquiry, also said the theory that Ukraine interfered in 2016 is “a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump keeps friendly tone with Saudis even as attack by Saudi national investigated as terror

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

CIL868/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Even as the FBI investigates Friday’s Pensacola Navy base shooting on the presumption it was an act of terror, President Donald Trump has maintained a trusting tone toward Saudi Arabia, emphasizing the condolences of the Saudi royal family and highlighting their offers of assistance.

After speaking with Saudi King Salman after the shooting, the president said the king and people of Saudi Arabia were “devastated” after a Saudi student national shot and killed three U.S. sailors at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way, shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people, who love the American people so much,” the president said in remarks on Friday.

The president even suggested in comments on Saturday that the Saudi royal family would be providing financial assistance to the victims’ families.

“The King will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly,” the president. “I think they’re going to help out the families very greatly.”

In addition to speaking with the king, the president also spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Sunday. The White House said in a statement that the president expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s alliance and their assistance in the investigation during the call.

“The Crown Prince reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to working with the United States to prevent a horrific attack like the Pensacola shooting from ever happening again. The President thanked the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia’s assistance with the investigation and continued partnership,” the statement said.

The president’s defense of Saudi Arabia comes as the FBI has said they are investigating the incident on the presumption that it was terror.

“We are, as we do in most active-shooter investigations, working with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism,” Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said.

The shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, was a student naval flight officer in the U.S. as part of a program under which the U.S. military provides training forces of allied countries that purchase American-made military aircraft. There are currently more than 850 Saudi nationals in the US for military training and 5,181 total foreign military students.

The shooter had been in the U.S. since 2017 as part of the training program and was scheduled to complete his training in August 2020.

While the president has maintained only a friendly tone toward Saudi Arabia, one of the president’s staunchest congressional allies, Rep Matt Gaetz, has called on the U.S. to hit the pause button on accepting more Saudi students until the U.S. can establish confidence in its vetting program. He also suggested the incident could change the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“Of course, what happened is Pensacola has to inform on our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia. That is the message I directly delivered to the Saudi Ambassador when she called to offer her condolences,” Gaetz said on ABC’s This Week.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump keeps friendly tone with Saudis even as attack by Saudi national investigated as terror

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

CIL868/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Even as the FBI investigates Friday’s Pensacola Navy base shooting on the presumption it was an act of terror, President Donald Trump has maintained a trusting tone toward Saudi Arabia, emphasizing the condolences of the Saudi royal family and highlighting their offers of assistance.

After speaking with Saudi King Salman after the shooting, the president said the king and people of Saudi Arabia were “devastated” after a Saudi student national shot and killed three U.S. sailors at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way, shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people, who love the American people so much,” the president said in remarks on Friday.

The president even suggested in comments on Saturday that the Saudi royal family would be providing financial assistance to the victims’ families.

“The King will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly,” the president. “I think they’re going to help out the families very greatly.”

In addition to speaking with the king, the president also spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Sunday. The White House said in a statement that the president expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s alliance and their assistance in the investigation during the call.

“The Crown Prince reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to working with the United States to prevent a horrific attack like the Pensacola shooting from ever happening again. The President thanked the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia’s assistance with the investigation and continued partnership,” the statement said.

The president’s defense of Saudi Arabia comes as the FBI has said they are investigating the incident on the presumption that it was terror.

“We are, as we do in most active-shooter investigations, working with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism,” Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said.

The shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, was a student naval flight officer in the U.S. as part of a program under which the U.S. military provides training forces of allied countries that purchase American-made military aircraft. There are currently more than 850 Saudi nationals in the US for military training and 5,181 total foreign military students.

The shooter had been in the U.S. since 2017 as part of the training program and was scheduled to complete his training in August 2020.

While the president has maintained only a friendly tone toward Saudi Arabia, one of the president’s staunchest congressional allies, Rep Matt Gaetz, has called on the U.S. to hit the pause button on accepting more Saudi students until the U.S. can establish confidence in its vetting program. He also suggested the incident could change the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“Of course, what happened is Pensacola has to inform on our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia. That is the message I directly delivered to the Saudi Ambassador when she called to offer her condolences,” Gaetz said on ABC’s This Week.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

House Judiciary Committee holds second impeachment hearing

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The House Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear testimony from Democratic lawyers laying out their case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, setting off a busy two weeks on Capitol Hill expected to end with a House floor vote on the charges ahead of Christmas.

As they prepare to release articles of impeachment against Trump — as early as this week — lawmakers will hear attorneys from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees lay out evidence from the Democrats’ Ukraine investigation and argue their case that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically.

With the White House refusing to participate in the House hearings and accusing Democrats of launching unfair and “baseless” proceedings, Republicans from the same House panels are expected to argue against Democrats’ impeachment efforts and could offer some defense of the president’s actions towards Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Here is how the hearing is unfolding:

9:25 a.m.

Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins continues to attack Democrats’ for pursuing a predetermined outcome in the impeachment inquiry, saying they already decided to vote to impeach President Trump.

“For anyone to think that this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves,” he says in his opening statement.

“At the end of the day all this is about is a clock and a calendar, ” Collins says.

9:17 a.m.

As he gets back to his opening statement, Nadler cites testimony from constitutional experts from last week’s hearing, setting up the Democrats’ argument that President Trump’s behavior exactly fulfills the type of abuse of power the framers had in mind when they laid out the process for impeachment.

“As we heard in our last hearing, the framers of the Constitution were careful students of history and clear in their vision for the new nation. They knew that threats to democracy can take many forms, that we must protect against them,” Nadler says.

“The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office,” he continues.

“Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action. When combined, in a single course of action, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office,” he says.

9:08 a.m.

The New York Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, gavels the hearing into session at 9:08 a.m.

Republicans raise an objection within seconds of Nadler beginning his opening statement, setting the stage for more objections to come.

A protester starts shouting from the back of the room: “Jerry Nadler you’re the one committing treason” and “We voted for Donald Trump” — interrupting Nadler. Capitol Police remove him from the room.

9 a.m.

The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. but relatively few committee members are in the room.

Republicans have set up a large sign with the words “Where’s Adam?” in white letters against a black background, signaling their displeasure that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will not be testifying as they wanted. They have repeatedly accused him of lying about whether he knew and coordinated with the intelligence community whistleblower who triggered the impeachment probe.

ABC’s Mary Bruce reports this might the last chance Democrats have to persuade the American public on such a nationally-televised scale before a vote on articles of impeachment.

8:40 a.m.

ABC’s Benjamin Siegel and Allison Pecorin reported a Democratic official told reporters on Saturday that Democrats intend to use Monday’s hearing to make their “theory of the case” against President Donald Trump and his abuse of power.

Democrats, according to the official, plan to argue on Monday that Trump’s use of his office for personal political gain ahead of the election represents the “framers’ nightmare,” by acting in a way that “betrays our national security and corrupts our elections using a foreign power.”

They will argue that Trump’s actions were part of a “repeated pattern,” and that the Ukraine episode is important because it represents a “future pattern,” highlighting the urgency of moving quickly to impeach the president ahead of the 2020 election.

8:35 a.m.

As members start to take their seats in the hearing room, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a difficult challenge making the final call on how broad articles of impeachment will be.

She says Pelosi has to be especially mindful of the views of Democrats in swing districts.

GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tells ABC News’ Tom Llamas that there is no evidence of any impeachment conduct, that Democrats can’t point to any “crimes committed.”

“This whole thing has been a farce,” she says.

Democratic members and aides spent the weekend in Washington preparing for the upcoming hearings. Judiciary Committee Democratic staff also released a report highlighting the historical and legal arguments behind their impeachment efforts against Trump.

On Saturday, they huddled with Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who’s been advising the caucus throughout the impeachment process. They also prepared for the upcoming hearing in the stately Longworth Office Building hearing room, which has hosted weeks of public impeachment proceedings.

Working with committee and leadership staff behind closed doors, they prepared their questions for Monday’s hearing, with former Hill staffers playing the roles of committee Republicans, according to sources familiar with the preparations.

They also discussed the potential charges against Trump, which they’re expected to introduce and approve in the Judiciary Committee later this week.

“We need to make it clear within those articles that there is a pattern of conduct here, that Ukraine was the most egregious example of the president abusing his office while he was president of the United States, shaking down a foreign nation to interfere in our elections,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Sunday. “We need to be focused, we need to be clear, we need to present the best possible case if we are moving in this direction.”

In an interview with CNN Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., did not commit to including evidence of obstruction of justice from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the forthcoming articles.

“We have a very rock-solid case,” Nadler said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.”

House Republicans are expected to argue that the Democrats’ case falls short, that they lack sufficient firsthand evidence to conclusively charge Trump with abusing his power and undermining U.S. national security in his dealings with Ukraine.

In requests for additional witnesses and information, they have outlined a potential GOP strategy for a Senate impeachment trial that could focus on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in Ukraine, as well as the intelligence community whistleblower behind the complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

House Judiciary Committee holds second impeachment hearing

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

drnadig/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The House Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear testimony from Democratic lawyers laying out their case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, setting off a busy two weeks on Capitol Hill expected to end with a House floor vote on the charges ahead of Christmas.

As they prepare to release articles of impeachment against Trump — as early as this week — lawmakers will hear attorneys from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees lay out evidence from the Democrats’ Ukraine investigation and argue their case that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically.

With the White House refusing to participate in the House hearings and accusing Democrats of launching unfair and “baseless” proceedings, Republicans from the same House panels are expected to argue against Democrats’ impeachment efforts and could offer some defense of the president’s actions towards Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Here is how the hearing is unfolding:

9:25 a.m.

Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins continues to attack Democrats’ for pursuing a predetermined outcome in the impeachment inquiry, saying they already decided to vote to impeach President Trump.

“For anyone to think that this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves,” he says in his opening statement.

“At the end of the day all this is about is a clock and a calendar, ” Collins says.

9:17 a.m.

As he gets back to his opening statement, Nadler cites testimony from constitutional experts from last week’s hearing, setting up the Democrats’ argument that President Trump’s behavior exactly fulfills the type of abuse of power the framers had in mind when they laid out the process for impeachment.

“As we heard in our last hearing, the framers of the Constitution were careful students of history and clear in their vision for the new nation. They knew that threats to democracy can take many forms, that we must protect against them,” Nadler says.

“The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office,” he continues.

“Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action. When combined, in a single course of action, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office,” he says.

9:08 a.m.

The New York Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, gavels the hearing into session at 9:08 a.m.

Republicans raise an objection within seconds of Nadler beginning his opening statement, setting the stage for more objections to come.

A protester starts shouting from the back of the room: “Jerry Nadler you’re the one committing treason” and “We voted for Donald Trump” — interrupting Nadler. Capitol Police remove him from the room.

9 a.m.

The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. but relatively few committee members are in the room.

Republicans have set up a large sign with the words “Where’s Adam?” in white letters against a black background, signaling their displeasure that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will not be testifying as they wanted. They have repeatedly accused him of lying about whether he knew and coordinated with the intelligence community whistleblower who triggered the impeachment probe.

ABC’s Mary Bruce reports this might the last chance Democrats have to persuade the American public on such a nationally-televised scale before a vote on articles of impeachment.

8:40 a.m.

ABC’s Benjamin Siegel and Allison Pecorin reported a Democratic official told reporters on Saturday that Democrats intend to use Monday’s hearing to make their “theory of the case” against President Donald Trump and his abuse of power.

Democrats, according to the official, plan to argue on Monday that Trump’s use of his office for personal political gain ahead of the election represents the “framers’ nightmare,” by acting in a way that “betrays our national security and corrupts our elections using a foreign power.”

They will argue that Trump’s actions were part of a “repeated pattern,” and that the Ukraine episode is important because it represents a “future pattern,” highlighting the urgency of moving quickly to impeach the president ahead of the 2020 election.

8:35 a.m.

As members start to take their seats in the hearing room, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a difficult challenge making the final call on how broad articles of impeachment will be.

She says Pelosi has to be especially mindful of the views of Democrats in swing districts.

GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tells ABC News’ Tom Llamas that there is no evidence of any impeachment conduct, that Democrats can’t point to any “crimes committed.”

“This whole thing has been a farce,” she says.

Democratic members and aides spent the weekend in Washington preparing for the upcoming hearings. Judiciary Committee Democratic staff also released a report highlighting the historical and legal arguments behind their impeachment efforts against Trump.

On Saturday, they huddled with Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who’s been advising the caucus throughout the impeachment process. They also prepared for the upcoming hearing in the stately Longworth Office Building hearing room, which has hosted weeks of public impeachment proceedings.

Working with committee and leadership staff behind closed doors, they prepared their questions for Monday’s hearing, with former Hill staffers playing the roles of committee Republicans, according to sources familiar with the preparations.

They also discussed the potential charges against Trump, which they’re expected to introduce and approve in the Judiciary Committee later this week.

“We need to make it clear within those articles that there is a pattern of conduct here, that Ukraine was the most egregious example of the president abusing his office while he was president of the United States, shaking down a foreign nation to interfere in our elections,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Sunday. “We need to be focused, we need to be clear, we need to present the best possible case if we are moving in this direction.”

In an interview with CNN Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., did not commit to including evidence of obstruction of justice from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the forthcoming articles.

“We have a very rock-solid case,” Nadler said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.”

House Republicans are expected to argue that the Democrats’ case falls short, that they lack sufficient firsthand evidence to conclusively charge Trump with abusing his power and undermining U.S. national security in his dealings with Ukraine.

In requests for additional witnesses and information, they have outlined a potential GOP strategy for a Senate impeachment trial that could focus on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in Ukraine, as well as the intelligence community whistleblower behind the complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DOJ inspector general to release report on Russia investigation origins

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

robertcicchetti/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The long-awaited Department of Justice Inspector General report examining the origins of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is set to be released Monday, in a moment sure to draw intense political scrutiny on the activities of law enforcement agents tasked with probing contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

The investigation by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, first announced in March 2018, initially sought to examine the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s surveillance of a then-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — who had lived and worked in Russia.

Horowitz’s review questioned the role that a controversial “dossier” played in the FBI’s investigation, a compilation of memos authored by former British spy Christopher Steele that included claims that Page and other Trump campaign officials were colluding with Russians to assist President Donald Trump in his White House run while boosting his businesses.

In October 2016, the FBI filed a surveillance warrant with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court against Page, and provided a series of materials to the court that agents said supported their belief that Page was “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” according to a since-declassified copy of the application.

A since-declassified copy of the warrant indicated its monitoring of Page’s communications was part of a broader investigation of Russia’s alleged efforts to, “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law.”

The FISA application was renewed a total of three times, each time with the approval of Republican-appointed judges, before it was allowed to expire in September 2017.

While Horowitz’s investigation was initially believed to be narrowly targeted in its review of the Page FISA application, it expanded over the past year and a half into a broader review of the conduct of senior FBI and Department of Justice officials in the early days of the Russia investigation. Horowitz’s original mandate noted that, “if circumstances warrant, [he would] consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”

According to sources familiar with the review, Horowitz looked into whether FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who privately exchanged anti-Trump text messages while working on the Russia probe, were guided by politics in their official actions. He also probed whether senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr improperly tried to influence the probe by sharing Steele’s information with the FBI, even though the agency had already received much of Steele’s information from elsewhere.

Attorney General William Barr has additionally announced a separate investigation led by U.S. attorney John Durham looking at the conduct of intelligence agency officials who initiated the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

The scrutiny has provided political fodder for many Republican lawmakers who have argued the investigation into the Trump campaign was tainted by political bias. Trump has taken that claim even further, repeatedly suggesting without evidence that Horowitz’s review will be explosive and validate his unfounded claims that senior FBI and DOJ officials were looking to undermine his campaign and eventually sabotage his presidency.

“I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe,” Trump said in October. “The level of corruption — whether it’s (former FBI Director James) Comey; whether it’s (former FBI agent Peter) Strzok and his lover, (former FBI lawyer Lisa) Page; whether it’s so many other people — (former FBI deputy director Andrew) McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself.”

Horowitz delivered a draft version of his report to the Department of Justice in mid-September, and ABC News confirmed last month that it includes at least one criminal referral. The referral alleges former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered a document related to Page’s FISA application, though sources emphasized that the alleged alteration did not have had any material impact on the overall appropriateness of the FISA warrant.

Sources say Horowitz’s draft report is hundreds of pages in length and includes significant criticism of the conduct of FBI and DOJ officials involved in the investigation, however Horowitz is not expected to argue that the decision to launch the investigation was without proper cause.

Horowitz will testify regarding his findings before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, and committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he expects the inspector general will personally make “recommendations as to how to make our judicial and investigative systems better.”

Republicans are expected to seize on the report as validating some of their long-expressed concerns about the investigation amid the backdrop of the ongoing impeachment inquiry over the alleged pressure campaign by Trump to have Ukraine announce an investigation into 2020 presidential political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden.

In Tuesday’s impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary committee, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested, without providing evidence, that Horowitz’s report would be so damning that it would shift the focus of impeachment to former President Barack Obama.

“If wiretapping political opponents is a political offense, I look forward to reading that inspector general’s report because maybe it’s a different president we should be impeaching,” Gaetz said.

With Durham’s investigation still ongoing, it’s unlikely Horowitz’s report and testimony will provide any definitive closure for critics of the investigation like Gaetz and Trump.

“As you know, the big one that’s going to come out is the Durham report,” Trump told reporters last Wednesday. “And I don’t know Mr. Durham. I’ve never spoken to him. But he’s one of the most respected law enforcement or U.S. attorneys anywhere in the country. He’s a tough guy.”

It’s unclear whether Durham has uncovered significant information beyond what Horowitz found, though in late October, ABC News confirmed that his investigation had formally turned into a criminal probe, at least in part due to the criminal referral of Clinesmith, sources say.

The move provides Durham powers that Horowitz lacked, such as convening a grand jury and issuing subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

But it has also been a source of concern among Democrats who have cast Barr as an unreliable and partisan attorney general, who has made clear through his public statements of his skepticism to how the investigation was handled.

“I assumed I’d get answers when I went in and I have not gotten answers that are, well, satisfactory,” Barr said in a May interview. “In fact probably have more questions, and that some of the facts that- that I’ve learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.”

A source familiar with the process said that Barr is not currently expected to offer a formal response to the Horowitz report upon its transmission to Congress that the DOJ at times includes with IG reports critical of the department.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DOJ inspector general to release report on Russia investigation origins

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

robertcicchetti/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The long-awaited Department of Justice Inspector General report examining the origins of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is set to be released Monday, in a moment sure to draw intense political scrutiny on the activities of law enforcement agents tasked with probing contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

The investigation by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, first announced in March 2018, initially sought to examine the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s surveillance of a then-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — who had lived and worked in Russia.

Horowitz’s review questioned the role that a controversial “dossier” played in the FBI’s investigation, a compilation of memos authored by former British spy Christopher Steele that included claims that Page and other Trump campaign officials were colluding with Russians to assist President Donald Trump in his White House run while boosting his businesses.

In October 2016, the FBI filed a surveillance warrant with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court against Page, and provided a series of materials to the court that agents said supported their belief that Page was “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” according to a since-declassified copy of the application.

A since-declassified copy of the warrant indicated its monitoring of Page’s communications was part of a broader investigation of Russia’s alleged efforts to, “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law.”

The FISA application was renewed a total of three times, each time with the approval of Republican-appointed judges, before it was allowed to expire in September 2017.

While Horowitz’s investigation was initially believed to be narrowly targeted in its review of the Page FISA application, it expanded over the past year and a half into a broader review of the conduct of senior FBI and Department of Justice officials in the early days of the Russia investigation. Horowitz’s original mandate noted that, “if circumstances warrant, [he would] consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”

According to sources familiar with the review, Horowitz looked into whether FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who privately exchanged anti-Trump text messages while working on the Russia probe, were guided by politics in their official actions. He also probed whether senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr improperly tried to influence the probe by sharing Steele’s information with the FBI, even though the agency had already received much of Steele’s information from elsewhere.

Attorney General William Barr has additionally announced a separate investigation led by U.S. attorney John Durham looking at the conduct of intelligence agency officials who initiated the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

The scrutiny has provided political fodder for many Republican lawmakers who have argued the investigation into the Trump campaign was tainted by political bias. Trump has taken that claim even further, repeatedly suggesting without evidence that Horowitz’s review will be explosive and validate his unfounded claims that senior FBI and DOJ officials were looking to undermine his campaign and eventually sabotage his presidency.

“I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe,” Trump said in October. “The level of corruption — whether it’s (former FBI Director James) Comey; whether it’s (former FBI agent Peter) Strzok and his lover, (former FBI lawyer Lisa) Page; whether it’s so many other people — (former FBI deputy director Andrew) McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself.”

Horowitz delivered a draft version of his report to the Department of Justice in mid-September, and ABC News confirmed last month that it includes at least one criminal referral. The referral alleges former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered a document related to Page’s FISA application, though sources emphasized that the alleged alteration did not have had any material impact on the overall appropriateness of the FISA warrant.

Sources say Horowitz’s draft report is hundreds of pages in length and includes significant criticism of the conduct of FBI and DOJ officials involved in the investigation, however Horowitz is not expected to argue that the decision to launch the investigation was without proper cause.

Horowitz will testify regarding his findings before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, and committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he expects the inspector general will personally make “recommendations as to how to make our judicial and investigative systems better.”

Republicans are expected to seize on the report as validating some of their long-expressed concerns about the investigation amid the backdrop of the ongoing impeachment inquiry over the alleged pressure campaign by Trump to have Ukraine announce an investigation into 2020 presidential political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden.

In Tuesday’s impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary committee, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested, without providing evidence, that Horowitz’s report would be so damning that it would shift the focus of impeachment to former President Barack Obama.

“If wiretapping political opponents is a political offense, I look forward to reading that inspector general’s report because maybe it’s a different president we should be impeaching,” Gaetz said.

With Durham’s investigation still ongoing, it’s unlikely Horowitz’s report and testimony will provide any definitive closure for critics of the investigation like Gaetz and Trump.

“As you know, the big one that’s going to come out is the Durham report,” Trump told reporters last Wednesday. “And I don’t know Mr. Durham. I’ve never spoken to him. But he’s one of the most respected law enforcement or U.S. attorneys anywhere in the country. He’s a tough guy.”

It’s unclear whether Durham has uncovered significant information beyond what Horowitz found, though in late October, ABC News confirmed that his investigation had formally turned into a criminal probe, at least in part due to the criminal referral of Clinesmith, sources say.

The move provides Durham powers that Horowitz lacked, such as convening a grand jury and issuing subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

But it has also been a source of concern among Democrats who have cast Barr as an unreliable and partisan attorney general, who has made clear through his public statements of his skepticism to how the investigation was handled.

“I assumed I’d get answers when I went in and I have not gotten answers that are, well, satisfactory,” Barr said in a May interview. “In fact probably have more questions, and that some of the facts that- that I’ve learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.”

A source familiar with the process said that Barr is not currently expected to offer a formal response to the Horowitz report upon its transmission to Congress that the DOJ at times includes with IG reports critical of the department.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elizabeth Warren discloses she made nearly $2 million in legal work

Posted on: December 9th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

JasonDoiy/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has revealed the majority of the paychecks she received during her time as a lawyer, a move that comes on the heels of repeated pressure from South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Warren made around $1.9 million in compensation from private legal work dating back to 1985, according to documents released Sunday night.

Warren represented, consulted for or provided expert witness to a handful of big corporations from 1985 through 2009, around the time she was teaching law at Harvard University. According to the documents released by the campaign, Warren’s income from the casework ranged from less than $10,000 to as much as $212,000.

For five different cases, her campaign reported it was unable to find compensation records. In a handful of cases, the campaign also pointed out that some of the money Warren made as a corporate lawyer was included in the tax returns, dating back to 2008, she’s already released.

According to the campaign, the income details were pieced together from public records and campaign research. ABC News has not independently confirmed the compensation details.

 “Any candidate who refuses to provide basic details about his or her own record and refuses to allow voters or the press to understand who is buying access to their time and what they are getting in return will be seen by voters as part of the same business-as-usual politics that voters have consistently rejected,” Kristen Orthman, Warren’s campaign communications director, said in a statement.

Warren’s campaign first released a list of her former corporate clients in 2012, as she came under pressure from Republican opponents to be more transparent. At the time, Warren had called on her opponents to disclose their own corporate ties.

This latest move Sunday evening comes after Buttigieg called for Warren to release her tax returns from before 2008 and detail compensation earned by representing different corporations, a move Buttigieg’s campaign argued was in the interest of transparency.

Buttigieg, however, has also separately been under pressure to put out more details about his time working for a large corporation, the consulting firm McKinsey and Co.

Many have called on the candidate to break a non-disclosure agreement he signed with his former employer and disclose for whom he worked and when. Though he has not committed to releasing the names of former clients, he recently told reporters the company is putting him “in a difficult position” and that it’s “very important” to offer “as much transparency as possible.”

Warren dismissed Buttigieg’s calls to see more of her tax returns, instead pointing to the closed-door fundraisers held by his campaign.

“Look, I understand he would like to deflect from what he’s doing right now, but he’s gonna be in New York next week. And he’s gonna do three big fundraisers with rich people,” Warren told reporters on Friday. “He should open up the doors and let someone from the press come in and hear what promises he’s making to rich folks and what he’s saying that’s different from what he says when he’s out on the trail.”

As a candidate for the presidency, Warren has pledged not to attend closed-door, high-dollar fundraisers for her campaign. She does, however, attend Democratic National Committee fundraisers and her campaign has held fundraisers where she is not in attendance.

In recent days, Buttigieg has told reporters his campaign is considering opening up fundraisers typically closed to press.

Warren also has defended her decision not to release her tax returns prior to 2008, saying she’d already put out 11 years of returns.

“That’s exactly 11 years more than Donald Trump. It is three years more than Barack Obama did at the same point. And I have already put out a list of all of the legal work that I did in all the years that I was in teaching, at least everything that I could find,” Warren told reporters in New Hampshire Saturday.

Warren doesn’t intend to release additional returns. Her campaign on Sunday emphasized that point, adding that her returns also don’t itemize income earned from individual cases as do the documents just released.

The release reveals a range of work Warren did in each case, from testifying as an expert witness against Phillip Morris International, a tobacco company, to representing a plaintiff on toxic waste dumping in Massachusetts during the 1980s, to her work with Dow Corning as the chemical company sought to staunch its liability in a large class-action suit over silicone breast implants.

The case summaries put out by the Warren campaign buttress her brand of working-class advocacy, though that’s not how some involved with the cases recall Warren’s role.

“Elizabeth served as a consultant to ensure adequate compensation for women who claimed injury from silicone breast implants who otherwise might not have received anything when Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy,” according to the description of one case from the Warren campaign. “Thanks in part to Elizabeth’s efforts, Dow Corning created a $2.35 billion fund to compensate women claiming injury from Dow Corning’s silicone breast implants. The vast majority of women with claims against Dow Corning supported the creation of this fund.”

But Sybil Goldrich, a top consumer advocate and the trustee for the 138,000 plaintiffs in the Dow settlement, told ABC News in October that Warren’s work effectively froze all lawsuits nationwide — both individual and class-action litigation — and that the first settlement checks weren’t issued until years later, in 2004. Part of the delay involved appeals to the settlement agreement lodged by individual plaintiff attorneys.

During that time, many of the older women — some who got breast implants as far back as the early 1960s — passed away, while another 20% of plaintiffs continued to suffer from breast cancer.

Warren’s compensation for that case was $19,942, according to the campaign.

In another case, on behalf of plane manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft after a crash that killed four people, including NASCAR star Alan Kulwicki, Warren argued that the manufacturer should be shielded from liability because the plane that went down was made by a company that had gone bankrupt. The court ruled against that stance, later vacating the decision. Warren was paid $9,812 for that case.

“Elizabeth represented the company in a lawsuit to try to protect hundreds of jobs at the company after new investors had saved it from closing its doors and laying off its workers,” the Warren campaign wrote in its description of the case. “In the end, the company survived and 1,000 people had jobs because of it.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Artificial barriers’ winnowing Democratic presidential field: Sen. Cory Booker

Posted on: December 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Days after his Senate colleague Kamala Harris suspended her presidential campaign, Sen. Cory Booker decried the “artificial barriers” winnowing the Democratic presidential field, and argued that voters in Iowa and elsewhere should be determining the candidates’ success.

“Something’s wrong with the system,” Booker, D-N.J., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos during an appearance on “This Week,” noting that other metrics, such as a campaign’s field organization or endorsements, were being discounted in favor of fundraising and poll numbers.

Mired in the low, single digits for much of the year and facing the prospect of missing this month’s debate in Los Angeles, Booker maintained optimism about his chances, pointing to the campaigns of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, who came from behind to capture the Democratic nomination.

“This country is a testimony to the constant achievement of the impossible. So, we’re doing like a lot of candidates have done in the past that were discounted by national media and press,” he said, adding that in the aftermath of Harris’ decision he’s had a strong fundraising week and required “overflow rooms” for his campaign stops.

The New Jersey senator — one of only two African American candidates remaining in the Democratic field — campaigned in Iowa this weekend under a spotlight after Harris suspended her presidential campaign on Tuesday.

Booker lamented Harris’ exit and the Democratic primary’s waning diversity at his first Hawkeye State stop in Des Moines on Thursday.

“It is a problem when an immensely qualified, widely supported, truly accomplished black woman running to lead the party — a party that is significantly empowered by black women voters — didn’t have the resources that she needed to continue here to Iowa,” he said. “It is a problem that we now have an overall campaign for the 2020 presidency that has more billionaires in it than black people.”

 As he did with his own campaign, Booker compared Harris to a presidential campaign predecessor on “This Week” Sunday, noting that she was in a similar situation to John Kerry in 2004, but that Kerry was able to lend his campaign the funding to continue — ultimately capturing the party’s nomination.

“Kamala Harris cannot loan herself $5 million,” Booker said. “Kamala Harris stopped her campaign because of the campaign finance rules and the fact that she couldn’t do what we see billionaires doing in this race, which is flooding ads to jack up their poll numbers and get in (to the debates).”

One of those billionaires, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, created controversy this week when he invoked Booker while addressing the field’s diversity during a CBS interview that aired on Thursday morning. After describing the senator as “well-spoken,” Bloomberg faced backlash from critics who argued the comment was a racist trope. The former mayor later acknowledged he “probably shouldn’t have used the word,” and on Friday Booker shared with ABC News his disappointment with the incident.

“It’s not up to me to be his teacher on this issue,” the senator said. “Whoever is our nominee should not have to be explained to about why comments like that could be found to be offensive to a very important part of our constituency.”

Along with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Booker’s campaign has been particularly outspoken about the racial makeup of the participants in December’s debate in Los Angeles. As of this weekend, only six candidates have gained entry to the debate, all of whom are white. Booker, who has reached the fundraising threshold to gain entry, is still four qualifying polls of 4% shy of qualification ahead of next Friday’s deadline.

Booker joked on Thursday with supporters about how they can ensure his involvement in future debates.

 “I’m asking you, when your caller I.D. is showing that some pollster’s calling you, pick up the phone and answer, please,” he said. “Choose me. Choose us.”

As some Democrats raise concerns over the electability of the presidential field’s candidates, the senator has pitched himself in recent days as someone who can build a “broad coalition” of diverse voters similar to that which first carried former President Barack Obama to victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses and, later, that year’s general election.

“I’m hoping folks will see that within me, no matter who you are, that I’m the best person in this race to revive your — what some people call the Obama coalition — but I’m talking about a bolder, broader coalition,” he told reporters in Iowa earlier this week, referring to his desire to ensure the Democratic nominee draws support from a diverse range of voters.

With his campaign headed toward a critical juncture, Stephanopoulos asked Booker if he could “go all in on Iowa” when serving as a juror in the president’s impeachment trial could make that strategy “almost impossible.”

Booker acknowledged that he may be pulled off the trail should the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump lead to a Senate trial, but noted that he takes his Senate oath “very seriously.” “I’m going to be in the Senate and do my job” and “trust” that we will “continue to build on this momentum” in Iowa.

‚ÄčThe senator was additionally critical of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the backchannels by which Giuliani has participated in U.S. foreign policy. Giuliani was in Ukraine this past week meeting with current and former Ukrainian officials as part of a documentary series by far-right network One America News Network.

On Sunday, Booker further denounced Giuliani because he has yet to publicly testify on his actions.

“What’s going on right now is just unacceptable to anybody who’s going to be a fair observer of fact,” Booker told Stephanopoulos. “And the fact that we can’t get to the truth of this matter is Giuliani is not willing to testify and the president of the United States is holding back witnesses that could give the American people insights into the true breadth and depth of this corruption is just — should be frustrating to everyone.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Artificial barriers’ winnowing Democratic presidential field: Sen. Cory Booker

Posted on: December 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Days after his Senate colleague Kamala Harris suspended her presidential campaign, Sen. Cory Booker decried the “artificial barriers” winnowing the Democratic presidential field, and argued that voters in Iowa and elsewhere should be determining the candidates’ success.

“Something’s wrong with the system,” Booker, D-N.J., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos during an appearance on “This Week,” noting that other metrics, such as a campaign’s field organization or endorsements, were being discounted in favor of fundraising and poll numbers.

Mired in the low, single digits for much of the year and facing the prospect of missing this month’s debate in Los Angeles, Booker maintained optimism about his chances, pointing to the campaigns of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, who came from behind to capture the Democratic nomination.

“This country is a testimony to the constant achievement of the impossible. So, we’re doing like a lot of candidates have done in the past that were discounted by national media and press,” he said, adding that in the aftermath of Harris’ decision he’s had a strong fundraising week and required “overflow rooms” for his campaign stops.

The New Jersey senator — one of only two African American candidates remaining in the Democratic field — campaigned in Iowa this weekend under a spotlight after Harris suspended her presidential campaign on Tuesday.

Booker lamented Harris’ exit and the Democratic primary’s waning diversity at his first Hawkeye State stop in Des Moines on Thursday.

“It is a problem when an immensely qualified, widely supported, truly accomplished black woman running to lead the party — a party that is significantly empowered by black women voters — didn’t have the resources that she needed to continue here to Iowa,” he said. “It is a problem that we now have an overall campaign for the 2020 presidency that has more billionaires in it than black people.”

 As he did with his own campaign, Booker compared Harris to a presidential campaign predecessor on “This Week” Sunday, noting that she was in a similar situation to John Kerry in 2004, but that Kerry was able to lend his campaign the funding to continue — ultimately capturing the party’s nomination.

“Kamala Harris cannot loan herself $5 million,” Booker said. “Kamala Harris stopped her campaign because of the campaign finance rules and the fact that she couldn’t do what we see billionaires doing in this race, which is flooding ads to jack up their poll numbers and get in (to the debates).”

One of those billionaires, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, created controversy this week when he invoked Booker while addressing the field’s diversity during a CBS interview that aired on Thursday morning. After describing the senator as “well-spoken,” Bloomberg faced backlash from critics who argued the comment was a racist trope. The former mayor later acknowledged he “probably shouldn’t have used the word,” and on Friday Booker shared with ABC News his disappointment with the incident.

“It’s not up to me to be his teacher on this issue,” the senator said. “Whoever is our nominee should not have to be explained to about why comments like that could be found to be offensive to a very important part of our constituency.”

Along with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Booker’s campaign has been particularly outspoken about the racial makeup of the participants in December’s debate in Los Angeles. As of this weekend, only six candidates have gained entry to the debate, all of whom are white. Booker, who has reached the fundraising threshold to gain entry, is still four qualifying polls of 4% shy of qualification ahead of next Friday’s deadline.

Booker joked on Thursday with supporters about how they can ensure his involvement in future debates.

 “I’m asking you, when your caller I.D. is showing that some pollster’s calling you, pick up the phone and answer, please,” he said. “Choose me. Choose us.”

As some Democrats raise concerns over the electability of the presidential field’s candidates, the senator has pitched himself in recent days as someone who can build a “broad coalition” of diverse voters similar to that which first carried former President Barack Obama to victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses and, later, that year’s general election.

“I’m hoping folks will see that within me, no matter who you are, that I’m the best person in this race to revive your — what some people call the Obama coalition — but I’m talking about a bolder, broader coalition,” he told reporters in Iowa earlier this week, referring to his desire to ensure the Democratic nominee draws support from a diverse range of voters.

With his campaign headed toward a critical juncture, Stephanopoulos asked Booker if he could “go all in on Iowa” when serving as a juror in the president’s impeachment trial could make that strategy “almost impossible.”

Booker acknowledged that he may be pulled off the trail should the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump lead to a Senate trial, but noted that he takes his Senate oath “very seriously.” “I’m going to be in the Senate and do my job” and “trust” that we will “continue to build on this momentum” in Iowa.

‚ÄčThe senator was additionally critical of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the backchannels by which Giuliani has participated in U.S. foreign policy. Giuliani was in Ukraine this past week meeting with current and former Ukrainian officials as part of a documentary series by far-right network One America News Network.

On Sunday, Booker further denounced Giuliani because he has yet to publicly testify on his actions.

“What’s going on right now is just unacceptable to anybody who’s going to be a fair observer of fact,” Booker told Stephanopoulos. “And the fact that we can’t get to the truth of this matter is Giuliani is not willing to testify and the president of the United States is holding back witnesses that could give the American people insights into the true breadth and depth of this corruption is just — should be frustrating to everyone.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

President Trump ‘abused his power to improperly to put his thumb on the scale for the election’: Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Posted on: December 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) —  President Donald Trump “hits all the buttons” on high crimes and misdemeanors, abusing his presidential power in a way similar to President Richard Nixon, said House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., on ABC’s “This Week.”

“In the case of President Trump, not only has he abused his power to improperly put his thumb on the scale for the election, he used a foreign power to do it. And that really hits all of the buttons that the founding fathers were concerned about,” Lofgren told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

“The Constitution says, the Congress shall have the sole authority when it comes to impeachment. And so the question is, with the evidence we have, can we make a sound conclusion? I think we can,” the California Democrat added.

In response, a key defender of the president’s dealings in Ukraine, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., criticized Democrats’ standards of impeachment for Trump.

“What is so dizzying, George, is the evolving standard for impeachment from Democrats. Through most of 2019, Nancy Pelosi said she opposed impeachment, not because the Mueller facts weren’t strong enough in her view, but because it wasn’t bipartisan,” Gaetz told Stephanopoulos.

Both representatives serve on the House Judiciary Committee, the congressional panel tasked with drawing up articles of impeachment against the president.

Lofgren has played a role in every impeachment inquiry in recent United States history. During the early 1970s Watergate scandal, Lofgren helped draft articles of impeachment for President Richard Nixon while working as a congressional staffer to a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

At the time of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, Lofgren had served in Congress for four years. Sitting on House Judiciary, the congresswoman watched as the Republican-controlled committee drafted and approved articles of impeachment for the Democratic president.

The two representatives also disagreed on whether Trump should call witnesses to the panel.

“The president has improperly withheld important witnesses,” Lofgren said on “This Week” Sunday. “The idea of absolute immunity is preposterous.”

Gaetz disagreed, telling Stephanopoulos, “The president has to make decisions not only for him but for the presidency.”

“I think it would inure to the president’s advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him, but they — we want to preserve an executive branch where there are out-of-the-box strategy sessions where people come up with crazy ideas and reject those ideas and hone them,” he added.

During the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing on Wednesday, four legal scholars evaluated whether the president’s involvement with Ukraine constituted an impeachable offense. Three of the witnesses, invited by the Democrats, argued that President Donald Trump abused presidential power in his dealings with Ukraine. The other witness, invited by Republicans, disagreed. He said that he believed there was not enough evidence to remove Trump from office.

On “This Week,” the Florida Republican also called “odd” the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine this past week, which Gaetz had previously question in an interview on CNN.

“But it is weird that he is over there,” Gaetz said on of Giuliani’s trip on Sunday. “I’m very grateful that very soon after I made those comments on CNN, the president put out a statement that said Rudy Giuliani does want to come into Congress and explain his role, explain what he’s been up to.”

“And I believe that the president urging Mayor Giuliani to provide that clarity to the Congress will be helpful in resolving what seems to be odd having him over there at this time,” Gaetz added.

The Judiciary Committee will hold its second public impeachment hearing on Monday when lawyers for the Democrats and Republicans from the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees will present findings from their investigations.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

President Trump ‘abused his power to improperly to put his thumb on the scale for the election’: Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Posted on: December 8th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) —  President Donald Trump “hits all the buttons” on high crimes and misdemeanors, abusing his presidential power in a way similar to President Richard Nixon, said House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., on ABC’s “This Week.”

“In the case of President Trump, not only has he abused his power to improperly put his thumb on the scale for the election, he used a foreign power to do it. And that really hits all of the buttons that the founding fathers were concerned about,” Lofgren told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

“The Constitution says, the Congress shall have the sole authority when it comes to impeachment. And so the question is, with the evidence we have, can we make a sound conclusion? I think we can,” the California Democrat added.

In response, a key defender of the president’s dealings in Ukraine, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., criticized Democrats’ standards of impeachment for Trump.

“What is so dizzying, George, is the evolving standard for impeachment from Democrats. Through most of 2019, Nancy Pelosi said she opposed impeachment, not because the Mueller facts weren’t strong enough in her view, but because it wasn’t bipartisan,” Gaetz told Stephanopoulos.

Both representatives serve on the House Judiciary Committee, the congressional panel tasked with drawing up articles of impeachment against the president.

Lofgren has played a role in every impeachment inquiry in recent United States history. During the early 1970s Watergate scandal, Lofgren helped draft articles of impeachment for President Richard Nixon while working as a congressional staffer to a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

At the time of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, Lofgren had served in Congress for four years. Sitting on House Judiciary, the congresswoman watched as the Republican-controlled committee drafted and approved articles of impeachment for the Democratic president.

The two representatives also disagreed on whether Trump should call witnesses to the panel.

“The president has improperly withheld important witnesses,” Lofgren said on “This Week” Sunday. “The idea of absolute immunity is preposterous.”

Gaetz disagreed, telling Stephanopoulos, “The president has to make decisions not only for him but for the presidency.”

“I think it would inure to the president’s advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him, but they — we want to preserve an executive branch where there are out-of-the-box strategy sessions where people come up with crazy ideas and reject those ideas and hone them,” he added.

During the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing on Wednesday, four legal scholars evaluated whether the president’s involvement with Ukraine constituted an impeachable offense. Three of the witnesses, invited by the Democrats, argued that President Donald Trump abused presidential power in his dealings with Ukraine. The other witness, invited by Republicans, disagreed. He said that he believed there was not enough evidence to remove Trump from office.

On “This Week,” the Florida Republican also called “odd” the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine this past week, which Gaetz had previously question in an interview on CNN.

“But it is weird that he is over there,” Gaetz said on of Giuliani’s trip on Sunday. “I’m very grateful that very soon after I made those comments on CNN, the president put out a statement that said Rudy Giuliani does want to come into Congress and explain his role, explain what he’s been up to.”

“And I believe that the president urging Mayor Giuliani to provide that clarity to the Congress will be helpful in resolving what seems to be odd having him over there at this time,” Gaetz added.

The Judiciary Committee will hold its second public impeachment hearing on Monday when lawyers for the Democrats and Republicans from the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees will present findings from their investigations.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Buttigieg calls on McKinsey to release information about his consulting work in Middle East

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg called on his former employer to release information about his time working for them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buttigieg has said he is personally unable to discuss what he did due to a non-disclosure agreement he signed with McKinsey & Company before ending his employment with the firm in 2010.

As ABC News previously reported, from 2007 to 2010, Buttigieg was working in the Middle East on behalf of McKinsey. But Buttigieg has said relatively little about his time in the region.

The South Bend mayor’s civilian work for the consulting company — and his silence on the matter — has faced increased scrutiny as his popularity rises among the pool of 2020 Democratic primary contenders.

Asked by ABC News’ Whit Johnson on Friday whether Buttigieg believes the American people should know about his work for McKinsey, Buttigieg said he believes it is important for this information to be released, and that he was urging McKinsey to release him from his non-disclosure agreement.

“I don’t think that McKinsey should force me to choose between keeping my word in a legal document that I signed din good faith and the need for the American people to know,” Buttigieg told Johnson. “They can fix this by releasing it and getting that information out there.

On Friday morning, Buttigieg addressed the issue in an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio.

“Right now I am calling on McKinsey to release that information,” Buttigieg said. “Maybe they’re not used to doing that, but they’re not used to having somebody who used to work there being seriously considered for the American presidency. This information should come out and I’m happy to speak to it when it does.”

Reached by ABC News on Friday, a spokesperson for McKinsey had no comment on Buttigieg’s request to be released from the NDA with his former employer.

Buttigieg continued to emphasize his calls for McKinsey to release him from his non-disclosure agreement at campaign events throughout the day.

“I believe in keeping your word,” Buttigieg said Friday at a campaign event at a house party in Concord, New Hampshire. “And I signed a legal document about client names and I am calling on McKinsey to release me from that.”

Buttigieg’s comments came shortly after the Thursday publication of a New York Times editorial that called on the mayor to tell voters about his time abroad with McKinsey.

“Mr. Buttigieg owes voters a more complete accounts of his time at the company,” the Times editorial board wrote. “Voters seeking an alternative to Mr. Trump should demand that candidates not only reject Mr. Trump’s positions, but also his behavior — including his refusal to share information about his health and his business dealings.”

Buttigieg’s senior communications adviser, Lis Smith, tweeted Friday that the campaign was “working on” a way to get Buttigieg out of the non-disclosure agreement.

In November, a campaign official told ABC News the campaign had reached out to McKinsey to inquire about what Buttigieg’s non-disclosure agreement encompasses.

In response to their inquiry, the campaign official said the consulting firm said in essence that all McKinsey employees agree to keep their client work confidential, including who they serve, the nature of their projects, and each client’s confidential information.

The Buttigieg campaign reached out to McKinsey a second time to ask about the Democratic presidential candidate’s release from the NDA, according to the campaign official, who added that McKinsey has yet to respond to their inquiry on that matter.

In Buttigieg’s book, “The Shortest Way Home,” he scarcely mentions his consulting but does drop hints about his work in “war zone economic development to help grow private sector employment” in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also refers to a “safe house” in Baghdad. The book doesn’t say exactly when or how long Buttigieg was in either country.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Buttigieg calls on McKinsey to release information about his consulting work in Middle East

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg called on his former employer to release information about his time working for them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buttigieg has said he is personally unable to discuss what he did due to a non-disclosure agreement he signed with McKinsey & Company before ending his employment with the firm in 2010.

As ABC News previously reported, from 2007 to 2010, Buttigieg was working in the Middle East on behalf of McKinsey. But Buttigieg has said relatively little about his time in the region.

The South Bend mayor’s civilian work for the consulting company — and his silence on the matter — has faced increased scrutiny as his popularity rises among the pool of 2020 Democratic primary contenders.

Asked by ABC News’ Whit Johnson on Friday whether Buttigieg believes the American people should know about his work for McKinsey, Buttigieg said he believes it is important for this information to be released, and that he was urging McKinsey to release him from his non-disclosure agreement.

“I don’t think that McKinsey should force me to choose between keeping my word in a legal document that I signed din good faith and the need for the American people to know,” Buttigieg told Johnson. “They can fix this by releasing it and getting that information out there.

On Friday morning, Buttigieg addressed the issue in an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio.

“Right now I am calling on McKinsey to release that information,” Buttigieg said. “Maybe they’re not used to doing that, but they’re not used to having somebody who used to work there being seriously considered for the American presidency. This information should come out and I’m happy to speak to it when it does.”

Reached by ABC News on Friday, a spokesperson for McKinsey had no comment on Buttigieg’s request to be released from the NDA with his former employer.

Buttigieg continued to emphasize his calls for McKinsey to release him from his non-disclosure agreement at campaign events throughout the day.

“I believe in keeping your word,” Buttigieg said Friday at a campaign event at a house party in Concord, New Hampshire. “And I signed a legal document about client names and I am calling on McKinsey to release me from that.”

Buttigieg’s comments came shortly after the Thursday publication of a New York Times editorial that called on the mayor to tell voters about his time abroad with McKinsey.

“Mr. Buttigieg owes voters a more complete accounts of his time at the company,” the Times editorial board wrote. “Voters seeking an alternative to Mr. Trump should demand that candidates not only reject Mr. Trump’s positions, but also his behavior — including his refusal to share information about his health and his business dealings.”

Buttigieg’s senior communications adviser, Lis Smith, tweeted Friday that the campaign was “working on” a way to get Buttigieg out of the non-disclosure agreement.

In November, a campaign official told ABC News the campaign had reached out to McKinsey to inquire about what Buttigieg’s non-disclosure agreement encompasses.

In response to their inquiry, the campaign official said the consulting firm said in essence that all McKinsey employees agree to keep their client work confidential, including who they serve, the nature of their projects, and each client’s confidential information.

The Buttigieg campaign reached out to McKinsey a second time to ask about the Democratic presidential candidate’s release from the NDA, according to the campaign official, who added that McKinsey has yet to respond to their inquiry on that matter.

In Buttigieg’s book, “The Shortest Way Home,” he scarcely mentions his consulting but does drop hints about his work in “war zone economic development to help grow private sector employment” in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also refers to a “safe house” in Baghdad. The book doesn’t say exactly when or how long Buttigieg was in either country.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court rejects Trump administration’s plan to resume federal executions

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request from the Trump administration to lift an injunction on federal executions, blocking the government’s plan for five convicted murderers to be put to death by mid-January.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh issued a statement concurring with the decision, saying “in light of what is at stake, it would be preferable for the District Court’s decision to be reviewed on the merits by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit before the executions are carried out.”

Daniel Lewis Lee, 46, a white supremacist convicted in 1999 along with co-defendant Chevie O’Brien Kehoe in the killings of three members of an Arkansas family, including an 8-year-old girl, had been scheduled to be the first prisoner in 16 years to be executed by the federal government.

Lee’s execution, originally scheduled for Monday at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, has now been put on hold indefinitely. He remains housed on federal death row at the prison along with 61 other condemned inmates.

The decision by the Supreme Court came just days after U.S. Attorney General William Barr asked the justices to set aside a district court’s injunction preventing it from carrying out lethal injections as planned.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington temporarily halted the executions after four of the five prisoners the government had scheduled for executions filed a lawsuit challenging a new lethal injection protocol.

“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” Barr said in July when he announced the government was set to resume executions.

The death row inmates slated for execution sued, arguing the government’s new drug protocol to be used in lethal injections violates the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act, a law that leaves it up to the state where a capital crime was committed to prescribe the method of execution.

Chutkan sided with the inmates’ argument that the federal government was attempting to circumvent proper methods for execution in a rush to carry them out.

The judge, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, ruled that the federal government likely exceeded its authority by implementing a single uniform method of execution, rather than adhering to the state-by-state approach under the FDPA.

“There is no statute that gives the (federal government) the authority to establish a single implementation procedure for all federal executions,” Chutkan wrote in her ruling. “To the contrary, Congress, through the FDPA, expressly reserved those decisions for the states of conviction.”

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia denied the Trump administration’s plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to be carried out. Just hours after the appeals court upheld Chutkan’s ruling, the Department of Justice asked the nation’s highest court to lift the stay.

In July, Barr announced that federal executions would resume under a new lethal injection protocol in which a single drug, pentobarbital sodium, would be used.

The last prisoner to face federal execution was Louis Jones Jr., 53, a Gulf War veteran convicted in federal court of kidnapping Air Force Pvt. Tracie Joy McBride, 19, in 1995 from the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, raping her and then beating her to death with a tire iron.

Jones was executed on March 18, 2003, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, where the only federal death chamber is located.

Following Jones’s death, federal executions went dormant due to controversy over the humanness of using the old three-drug cocktail for lethal injection and a shortage on one of the drugs, sodium thiopental.

On Wednesday, 14 states which use the single-drug protocol in lethal injections, filed a joint brief supporting the Trump administration’s failed request to carry out the death sentences. The states include Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Texas.

Lee’s execution was opposed by loved ones of his victims — Nancy Mueller, her husband William Mueller, and her 8-year-old daughter Sarah Powell.

Amnesty International, which calls the death penalty “the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment,” released a statement in July decrying the move by the Trump administration to resume federal executions.

According to the Justice of Department, other inmates that were scheduled to be executed prior to getting the reprieve from the Supreme Court’s included Lezmond Mitchell, who fatally stabbed a 63-year-old Arizona woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter; Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped, murdered and dismembered a 16-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, girl and bludgeoned to death a 80-year-old Missouri woman; and Alfred Bourgeois who tortured, sexual molested and murdered his toddler daughter.

Mitchel, Purkey and Bourgeois had all been scheduled to be executed in December.

Dustin Lee Honken, who shot and killed five people in Iowa in 1993, including a single mother and her 10- and 6-year-old daughters, was slated to be executed on Jan. 15.

While federal executions have been frozen for 16 years, the death penalty has been carried out in several states during that time, including more than 100 in Texas and Missouri since 2012.

On Thursday, Tennessee executed 53-year-old Lee Hall in the electric chair. Hall, who went blind in prison, killed his estranged girlfriend, Traci Crozier, 22, 1991 when he set her car with her inside. He was the second blind prisoner to be executed in the United States since the nation reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court rejects Trump administration’s plan to resume federal executions

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request from the Trump administration to lift an injunction on federal executions, blocking the government’s plan for five convicted murderers to be put to death by mid-January.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh issued a statement concurring with the decision, saying “in light of what is at stake, it would be preferable for the District Court’s decision to be reviewed on the merits by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit before the executions are carried out.”

Daniel Lewis Lee, 46, a white supremacist convicted in 1999 along with co-defendant Chevie O’Brien Kehoe in the killings of three members of an Arkansas family, including an 8-year-old girl, had been scheduled to be the first prisoner in 16 years to be executed by the federal government.

Lee’s execution, originally scheduled for Monday at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, has now been put on hold indefinitely. He remains housed on federal death row at the prison along with 61 other condemned inmates.

The decision by the Supreme Court came just days after U.S. Attorney General William Barr asked the justices to set aside a district court’s injunction preventing it from carrying out lethal injections as planned.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington temporarily halted the executions after four of the five prisoners the government had scheduled for executions filed a lawsuit challenging a new lethal injection protocol.

“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” Barr said in July when he announced the government was set to resume executions.

The death row inmates slated for execution sued, arguing the government’s new drug protocol to be used in lethal injections violates the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act, a law that leaves it up to the state where a capital crime was committed to prescribe the method of execution.

Chutkan sided with the inmates’ argument that the federal government was attempting to circumvent proper methods for execution in a rush to carry them out.

The judge, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, ruled that the federal government likely exceeded its authority by implementing a single uniform method of execution, rather than adhering to the state-by-state approach under the FDPA.

“There is no statute that gives the (federal government) the authority to establish a single implementation procedure for all federal executions,” Chutkan wrote in her ruling. “To the contrary, Congress, through the FDPA, expressly reserved those decisions for the states of conviction.”

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia denied the Trump administration’s plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to be carried out. Just hours after the appeals court upheld Chutkan’s ruling, the Department of Justice asked the nation’s highest court to lift the stay.

In July, Barr announced that federal executions would resume under a new lethal injection protocol in which a single drug, pentobarbital sodium, would be used.

The last prisoner to face federal execution was Louis Jones Jr., 53, a Gulf War veteran convicted in federal court of kidnapping Air Force Pvt. Tracie Joy McBride, 19, in 1995 from the Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, raping her and then beating her to death with a tire iron.

Jones was executed on March 18, 2003, at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, where the only federal death chamber is located.

Following Jones’s death, federal executions went dormant due to controversy over the humanness of using the old three-drug cocktail for lethal injection and a shortage on one of the drugs, sodium thiopental.

On Wednesday, 14 states which use the single-drug protocol in lethal injections, filed a joint brief supporting the Trump administration’s failed request to carry out the death sentences. The states include Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Texas.

Lee’s execution was opposed by loved ones of his victims — Nancy Mueller, her husband William Mueller, and her 8-year-old daughter Sarah Powell.

Amnesty International, which calls the death penalty “the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment,” released a statement in July decrying the move by the Trump administration to resume federal executions.

According to the Justice of Department, other inmates that were scheduled to be executed prior to getting the reprieve from the Supreme Court’s included Lezmond Mitchell, who fatally stabbed a 63-year-old Arizona woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter; Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped, murdered and dismembered a 16-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, girl and bludgeoned to death a 80-year-old Missouri woman; and Alfred Bourgeois who tortured, sexual molested and murdered his toddler daughter.

Mitchel, Purkey and Bourgeois had all been scheduled to be executed in December.

Dustin Lee Honken, who shot and killed five people in Iowa in 1993, including a single mother and her 10- and 6-year-old daughters, was slated to be executed on Jan. 15.

While federal executions have been frozen for 16 years, the death penalty has been carried out in several states during that time, including more than 100 in Texas and Missouri since 2012.

On Thursday, Tennessee executed 53-year-old Lee Hall in the electric chair. Hall, who went blind in prison, killed his estranged girlfriend, Traci Crozier, 22, 1991 when he set her car with her inside. He was the second blind prisoner to be executed in the United States since the nation reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Staffer who allegedly posted vulgar tweets no longer with Sanders’ campaign

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A recent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign hire is no longer with the campaign after a series of vulgar tweets allegedly posted by the staffer nearly a decade ago surfaced on his Twitter account, according to the campaign.

The tweets, which contain anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynistic and racist language were originally reported by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative-leaning news outlet. The staffer, who was hired as the campaign’s deputy director of constituency organizing, allegedly posted the tweets in 2010, 2011 and 2012 according to the publication.

The Free Beacon report included screenshots of the tweets. The staffer’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

When asked for comment, Sanders’ Communications Director Mike Casca said, “He’s no longer with the campaign and we wish him the best.”

Attempts by ABC News to reach the staffer were unsuccessful.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Staffer who allegedly posted vulgar tweets no longer with Sanders’ campaign

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A recent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign hire is no longer with the campaign after a series of vulgar tweets allegedly posted by the staffer nearly a decade ago surfaced on his Twitter account, according to the campaign.

The tweets, which contain anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynistic and racist language were originally reported by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative-leaning news outlet. The staffer, who was hired as the campaign’s deputy director of constituency organizing, allegedly posted the tweets in 2010, 2011 and 2012 according to the publication.

The Free Beacon report included screenshots of the tweets. The staffer’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

When asked for comment, Sanders’ Communications Director Mike Casca said, “He’s no longer with the campaign and we wish him the best.”

Attempts by ABC News to reach the staffer were unsuccessful.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Rep. Duncan Hunter to resign shortly after the holidays

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) — Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California will resign shortly after the holidays after pleading guilty earlier this week to one count of conspiracy in a case surrounding his alleged misuse of $250,000 in campaign donations for personal expenses such as family vacations and oral surgeries.

“Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress,” he said in an email sent from his congressional office. ” It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years.”

He once called the investigation a politically-motivated “witch hunt.”

On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee sent a letter to Hunter asking him to cease participation in floor votes following his guilty plea, citing a House rule that advises members convicted of crimes for which, “under federal law, you may receive a sentence of two or more years of imprisonment” to “refrain” from voting.”

The letter cites that though the provision is not mandatory, “If you violate the clear principles of this provision- that is, by voting in the House- you risk subjecting yourself to action by this Committee, and by the House, in addition to other disciplinary action that may be initiated in connection with your… conviction,” the letter reads.

Hunter was the second House Republican to endorse then-candidate Trump during the 2016 election. Trump’s first House endorsement came from GOP New York Rep. Chris Collins, who resigned in September before pleading guilty to insider trading related charges.

Together, the two co-chaired Trump’s House Leadership Committee in 2016, before Trump won the nomination.

He narrowly won re-election in 2018 after being indicted, along with his wife Margaret, on dozens of charges of improperly using campaign funds.

Hunter also allegedly tapped into some of that money to also finance romantic trysts with multiple congressional aides and lobbyists, according to federal prosecutors in court filings.

Hunter told KUSI in an interview that aired on Monday he decided to plead guilty for the sake of his children. Hunter is due to be sentenced in March. His wife, Margaret, who was also charged in the case and pleaded guilty on a single corruption count, is slated to be sentenced in April.

Hunter’s move opens up the possibility of another special election in California, in addition to the one set to take place in the state’s 25th Congressional District, where Democrat Rep. Katie Hill resigned from Congress amid multiple scandals.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called on its GOP counterpart to return the $220,000 in contributions Hunter donated to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Rep. Duncan Hunter to resign shortly after the holidays

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) — Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California will resign shortly after the holidays after pleading guilty earlier this week to one count of conspiracy in a case surrounding his alleged misuse of $250,000 in campaign donations for personal expenses such as family vacations and oral surgeries.

“Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress,” he said in an email sent from his congressional office. ” It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years.”

He once called the investigation a politically-motivated “witch hunt.”

On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee sent a letter to Hunter asking him to cease participation in floor votes following his guilty plea, citing a House rule that advises members convicted of crimes for which, “under federal law, you may receive a sentence of two or more years of imprisonment” to “refrain” from voting.”

The letter cites that though the provision is not mandatory, “If you violate the clear principles of this provision- that is, by voting in the House- you risk subjecting yourself to action by this Committee, and by the House, in addition to other disciplinary action that may be initiated in connection with your… conviction,” the letter reads.

Hunter was the second House Republican to endorse then-candidate Trump during the 2016 election. Trump’s first House endorsement came from GOP New York Rep. Chris Collins, who resigned in September before pleading guilty to insider trading related charges.

Together, the two co-chaired Trump’s House Leadership Committee in 2016, before Trump won the nomination.

He narrowly won re-election in 2018 after being indicted, along with his wife Margaret, on dozens of charges of improperly using campaign funds.

Hunter also allegedly tapped into some of that money to also finance romantic trysts with multiple congressional aides and lobbyists, according to federal prosecutors in court filings.

Hunter told KUSI in an interview that aired on Monday he decided to plead guilty for the sake of his children. Hunter is due to be sentenced in March. His wife, Margaret, who was also charged in the case and pleaded guilty on a single corruption count, is slated to be sentenced in April.

Hunter’s move opens up the possibility of another special election in California, in addition to the one set to take place in the state’s 25th Congressional District, where Democrat Rep. Katie Hill resigned from Congress amid multiple scandals.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called on its GOP counterpart to return the $220,000 in contributions Hunter donated to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elizabeth Warren campaign to hold star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles as Harris exits stage

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

3dfoto/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — The California senator suspended her bid for president in the crowded Democratic race.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is set to host her first campaign fundraiser in the Los Angeles area Saturday. And while Warren won’t be there — she’ll be stumping in New Hampshire — the event is shaping up to have as many stars as a Hollywood movie premiere.

The gathering promises to be replete with celebrity faces — and a life-size cardboard cutout of Warren.

The fundraiser invite obtained by ABC News boasts “lots of co-hosts from the entertainment community, a life-size cutout of Elizabeth, pastrami and burritos and — debuting at this event — a video station where you can opt to tell the campaign why you love Elizabeth and what issues attracted you to the campaign.” The letter is signed by Warren’s finance co-chair, Shanti Fry.

“There is no minimum donation required to attend this event. Some attendees have contributed as little as $3,” according to the campaign.

It’s not uncommon for campaigns to host fundraising events in the candidate’s absence, but what distinguishes this event is the star-studded guest list. Among those expected to be in attendance are actor-comedians Jon and Ike Barinholtz, TV writer-producer Marti Noxon, writer and Crooked Media cohost Kara Brown, actress Elizabeth Banks, actor Ben Feldman, comedian Travon Free, author Jenny Han, director Alexandra Kondracke, film producer Franklin Leonard, playwright Janine Nabers, writer Christopher Noxon, actress Busy Philipps, actress Angela Robinson and actor-comedian Adam Scott.

Warren is not the first candidate to employ star power in her bid for the White House. Other Oval Office hopefuls this cycle — and cycles before — have been fêted and vetted by Hollywood elites whose financial support and red carpet clout offer the kind of boost a competitive candidate might welcome.

During his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, President Barack Obama netted high-profile support from a number of celebrities, like Jay-Z and his megastar wife, Beyoncé. Both were vocal Obama supporters and held a series of celebrity-hosted fundraisers for the president’s reelection campaign.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has played off celebrity endorsements more than anyone so far, including shout outs from Cardi B, Ariana Grande and Mark Ruffalo.

Warren has sworn off big-dollar fundraisers in both the primary and the general election, emphasizing no special access for wealthy donors — and she leans heavily on a grassroots rallying cry. She’s hold Saturday’s event in absentia, leaving her plausible deniability for any pay-for-play face time with donors.

The event comes with the L.A. scene a little less split now that California Sen. Kamala Harris has exited the 2020 race. Before Harris’ departure, Banks, who recently wrote, directed and starred in a new “Charlie’s Angels” remake, donated the maximum amount to her campaign at least twice.

But many big Hollywood donors have not yet settled on a candidate.

Several entertainment executives have told ABC News they are keeping their options open because few want to be on the outs with the eventual nominee’s inner circle.

ABC News has reached out to the Warren campaign for comment on the event.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elizabeth Warren campaign to hold star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles as Harris exits stage

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

3dfoto/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — The California senator suspended her bid for president in the crowded Democratic race.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is set to host her first campaign fundraiser in the Los Angeles area Saturday. And while Warren won’t be there — she’ll be stumping in New Hampshire — the event is shaping up to have as many stars as a Hollywood movie premiere.

The gathering promises to be replete with celebrity faces — and a life-size cardboard cutout of Warren.

The fundraiser invite obtained by ABC News boasts “lots of co-hosts from the entertainment community, a life-size cutout of Elizabeth, pastrami and burritos and — debuting at this event — a video station where you can opt to tell the campaign why you love Elizabeth and what issues attracted you to the campaign.” The letter is signed by Warren’s finance co-chair, Shanti Fry.

“There is no minimum donation required to attend this event. Some attendees have contributed as little as $3,” according to the campaign.

It’s not uncommon for campaigns to host fundraising events in the candidate’s absence, but what distinguishes this event is the star-studded guest list. Among those expected to be in attendance are actor-comedians Jon and Ike Barinholtz, TV writer-producer Marti Noxon, writer and Crooked Media cohost Kara Brown, actress Elizabeth Banks, actor Ben Feldman, comedian Travon Free, author Jenny Han, director Alexandra Kondracke, film producer Franklin Leonard, playwright Janine Nabers, writer Christopher Noxon, actress Busy Philipps, actress Angela Robinson and actor-comedian Adam Scott.

Warren is not the first candidate to employ star power in her bid for the White House. Other Oval Office hopefuls this cycle — and cycles before — have been fêted and vetted by Hollywood elites whose financial support and red carpet clout offer the kind of boost a competitive candidate might welcome.

During his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, President Barack Obama netted high-profile support from a number of celebrities, like Jay-Z and his megastar wife, Beyoncé. Both were vocal Obama supporters and held a series of celebrity-hosted fundraisers for the president’s reelection campaign.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has played off celebrity endorsements more than anyone so far, including shout outs from Cardi B, Ariana Grande and Mark Ruffalo.

Warren has sworn off big-dollar fundraisers in both the primary and the general election, emphasizing no special access for wealthy donors — and she leans heavily on a grassroots rallying cry. She’s hold Saturday’s event in absentia, leaving her plausible deniability for any pay-for-play face time with donors.

The event comes with the L.A. scene a little less split now that California Sen. Kamala Harris has exited the 2020 race. Before Harris’ departure, Banks, who recently wrote, directed and starred in a new “Charlie’s Angels” remake, donated the maximum amount to her campaign at least twice.

But many big Hollywood donors have not yet settled on a candidate.

Several entertainment executives have told ABC News they are keeping their options open because few want to be on the outs with the eventual nominee’s inner circle.

ABC News has reached out to the Warren campaign for comment on the event.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elizabeth Warren campaign to hold star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles

Posted on: December 6th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

3dfoto/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is set to host her first campaign fundraiser in the Los Angeles area Saturday. And while Warren won’t be there — she’ll be stumping in New Hampshire — the event is shaping up to have as many stars as a Hollywood movie premiere.

The gathering promises to be replete with celebrity faces — and a life-size cardboard cutout of Warren.

The fundraiser invite obtained by ABC News boasts “lots of co-hosts from the entertainment community, a life-size cutout of Elizabeth, pastrami and burritos and — debuting at this event — a video station where you can opt to tell the campaign why you love Elizabeth and what issues attracted you to the campaign.” The letter is signed by Warren’s finance co-chair, Shanti Fry.

It’s not uncommon for campaigns to host fundraising events in the candidate’s absence, but what distinguishes this event is the star-studded guest list. Among those expected to be in attendance are actor-comedians Jon and Ike Barinholtz, TV writer-producer Marti Noxon, writer and Crooked Media cohost Kara Brown, actress Elizabeth Banks, actor Ben Feldman, comedian Travon Free, author Jenny Han, director Alexandra Kondracke, film producer Franklin Leonard, playwright Janine Nabers, writer Christopher Noxon, actress Busy Philipps, actress Angela Robinson and actor-comedian Adam Scott.

Warren is not the first candidate to employ star power in her bid for the White House. Other Oval Office hopefuls this cycle — and cycles before — have been fêted and vetted by Hollywood elites whose financial support and red carpet clout offer the kind of boost a competitive candidate might welcome.

During his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, President Barack Obama netted high-profile support from a number of celebrities, like Jay-Z and his megastar wife, Beyoncé. Both were vocal Obama supporters and held a series of celebrity-hosted fundraisers for the president’s reelection campaign.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has played off celebrity endorsements more than anyone so far, including shout outs from Cardi B, Ariana Grande and Mark Ruffalo.

Warren has sworn off big-dollar fundraisers in both the primary and the general election, emphasizing no special access for wealthy donors — and she leans heavily on a grassroots rallying cry. She’s hold Saturday’s event in absentia, leaving her plausible deniability for any pay-for-play face time with donors.

The event comes with the L.A. scene a little less split now that California Sen. Kamala Harris has exited the 2020 race. Before Harris’ departure, Banks, who recently wrote, directed and starred in a new Charlie’s Angels remake, donated the maximum amount to her campaign at least twice.

But many big Hollywood donors have not yet settled on a candidate.

Several entertainment executives have told ABC News they are keeping their options open because few want to be on the outs with the eventual nominee’s inner circle.

ABC News has reached out to the Warren campaign for comment on the event.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.