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Responding to Lt. Col. Vindman about my Ukraine columns … with the facts

I honor and applaud Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s
service to his country. He’s a hero. I also respect his decision to testify at
the impeachment proceedings. I suspect neither his service nor his testimony
was easy.

But I also know the liberties that Lt. Col. Vindman fought on
the battlefield to preserve permit for a free and honest debate in America, one
that can’t be muted by the color of uniform or the crushing power of the state.

So I want to exercise my right to debate Lt. Col. Vindman about
the testimony he gave about me. You see, under oath to Congress, he asserted all
the factual elements in my columns at The Hill about Ukraine were false, except
maybe my grammar

are his exact words:

“I think
all the key elements were false,” Vindman testified.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y, pressed him about what he meant. “Just so I understand what you mean when you say key elements, are you referring to everything John Solomon stated or just some of it?”

“All the
elements that I just laid out for you. The criticisms of corruption were false….
Were there more items in there, frankly, congressman? I don’t recall. I haven’t
looked at the article in quite some time, but you know, his grammar might have
been right.”

Such testimony has been injurious to my reputation, one earned during 30 years of impactful reporting for news organizations that included The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and The Daily Beast/Newsweek.

And so Lt. Col. Vindman, here are the 28 primary factual elements in my Ukraine columns, complete with attribution and links to sourcing. Please tell me which, if any, was factually wrong.

Fact 1: Hunter Biden was hired in May 2014 by Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, at a time when his father Joe Biden was Vice President and overseeing US-Ukraine Policy. Here is the announcement. Hunter Biden’s hiring came just a few short weeks after Joe Biden urged Ukraine to expand natural gas production and use Americans to help. You can read his comments to the Ukrainian prime minister here. Hunter Biden’s firm then began receiving monthly payments totaling $166,666. You can see those payments here.

Fact 2: Burisma was under investigation by British authorities for corruption and soon came under investigation by Ukrainian authorities led by Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

Fact 3: Vice President Joe Biden and his office were alerted by a December 2015 New York Times article that Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma and that Hunter Biden’s role at the company was undercutting his father’s anticorruption efforts in Ukraine.

Fact 4: The Biden-Burisma issue created the appearance of a conflict of interest, especially for State Department officials. I especially refer you to State official George Kent’s testimony here. He testified he viewed Burisma as corrupt and the Bidens as creating the perception of a conflict of interest. His concerns both caused him to contact the vice president’s office and to block a project that State’s USAID agency was planning with Burisma in 2016. In addition, Ambassador Yovanovitch testified she, too, saw the Bidens-Burisma connection as creating the appearance of a conflict of interest. You can read her testimony here.

Fact 5: The Obama White House invited Shokin’s prosecutorial team to Washington for meetings in January 2016 to discuss their anticorruption investigations. You can read about that here. Also, here is the official agenda for that meeting in Ukraine and English. I call your attention to the NSC organizer of the meeting.

Fact 6: The Ukraine investigation of Hunter Biden’s employer, Burisma Holdings, escalated in February 2016 when Shokin’s office raided the home of company owner Mykola Zlochevsky and seized his property. Here is the announcement of that court-approved raid.

Fact 7: Shokin was making plans in February 2016 to interview Hunter Biden as part of his investigation. You can read his interview with me here, his sworn deposition to a court here and his interview with ABC News here.

Fact 8: Burisma’s American representatives lobbied the State Department in late February 2016 to help end the corruption allegations against the company, and specifically invoked Hunter Biden’s name as a reason to intervene. You can read State officials’ account of that effort here

Fact 9: Joe Biden boasted in a 2018 videotape that he forced Ukraine’s president to fire Shokin in March 2016 by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid. You can view his videotape here.

Fact 10: Shokin stated in interviews with me and ABC News that he was told he was fired because Joe Biden was unhappy the Burisma investigation wasn’t shut down. He made that claim anew in this sworn deposition prepared for a court in Europe. You can read that here.

Fact 11:  The day Shokin’s firing was announced in March 2016, Burisma’s legal representatives sought an immediate meeting with his temporary replacement to address the ongoing investigation. You can read the text of their emails here.

Fact 12: Burisma’s legal representatives secured that meeting April 6, 2016 and told Ukrainian prosecutors that “false information” had been spread to justify Shokin’s firing, according to a Ukrainian government memo about the meeting. The representatives also offered to arrange for the remaining Ukrainian prosecutors to meet with U.S  State and Justice officials. You can read the Ukrainian prosecutors’ summary memo of the meeting here and here and the Burisma lawyers’ invite to Washington here.

Fact 13: Burisma officials eventually settled the Ukraine investigations in late 2016 and early 2017, paying a multimillion dollar fine for tax issues. You can read their lawyer’s February 2017 announcement of the end of the investigations here.

Fact 14: In March 2019, Ukraine authorities reopened an investigation against Burisma and Zlochevsky based on new evidence of money laundering. You can read NABU’s February 2019 recommendation to re-open the case here, the March 2019 notice of suspicion by Ukraine prosecutors here and a May 2019 interview here with a Ukrainian senior law enforcement official stating the investigation was ongoing. And here is an announcement this week that the Zlochevsky/Burisma probe has been expanded to include allegations of theft of Ukrainian state funds.  

Fact 15: The Ukraine embassy in Washington issued a statement in April 2019 admitting that a Democratic National Committee contractor named Alexandra Chalupa solicited Ukrainian officials in spring 2016 for dirt on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in hopes of staging a congressional hearing close to the 2016 election that would damage Trump’s election chances. You can read the embassy’s statement here and here. Your colleague, Dr. Fiona Hill, confirmed this episode, testifying “Ukraine bet on the wrong horse. They bet on Hillary Clinton winning.” You can read her testimony here.

Fact 16: Chalupa sent an email to top DNC officials in May 2016 acknowledging she was working on the Manafort issue. You can read the email here.

Fact 17: Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington, Valeriy Chaly, wrote an OpEd in The Hill in August 2016 slamming GOP nominee Donald Trump for his policies on Russia despite a Geneva Convention requirement that ambassadors not become embroiled in the internal affairs or elections of their host countries. You can read Ambassador Chaly’s OpEd here and the Geneva Convention rules of conduct for foreign diplomats here. And your colleagues Ambassador Yovanovitch and Dr. Hill both confirmed this, with Dr. Hill testifying this week that Chaly’s OpEd was “probably not the most advisable thing to do.”

Fact 18: A Ukrainian district court ruled in December 2018 that the summer 2016 release of information by Ukrainian Parliamentary member Sergey Leschenko and NABU director Artem Sytnyk about an ongoing investigation of Manafort amounted to an improper interference by Ukraine’s government in the 2016 U.S. election.  You can read the court ruling here. Leschenko and Sytnyk deny the allegations, and have won an appeal to suspend that ruling on a jurisdictional technicality.

Fact 19: George Soros’ Open Society Foundation issued a memo in February 2016 on its strategy for Ukraine, identifying the nonprofit Anti-Corruption Action Centre as the lead for its efforts. You can read the memo here.

Fact 20: The State Department and Soros’ foundation jointly funded the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. You can read about that funding here from the Centre’s own funding records and George Kent’s testimony about it here.

Fact 21: In April 2016, US embassy charge d’affaires George Kent sent a letter to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office demanding that Ukrainian prosecutors stand down a series of investigations into how Ukrainian nonprofits spent U.S. aid dollars, including the Anti-Corruption Actions Centre. You can read that letter here. Kent testified he signed the letter here.

Fact 22: Then-Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in a televised interview with me that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during a 2016 meeting provided the lists of names of Ukrainian nationals and groups she did want to see prosecuted. You can see I accurately quoted him by watching the video here.

Fact 23: Ambassador Yovanovitch and her embassy denied Lutsenko’s claim, calling it a “fabrication.” I reported their reaction here.

Fact 24: Despite the differing accounts of what happened at the Lutsenko-Yovanovitch meeting, a senior U.S. official in an interview arranged by the State Department stated to me in spring 2019 that US officials did pressure Lutsenko’s office on several occasions not to “prosecute, investigate or harass” certain Ukrainian activists, including Parliamentary member Leschenko, journalist Vitali Shabunin, the Anti-Corruption Action Centre and NABU director Sytnyk. You can read that official’s comments here. In addition, George Kent confirmed this same information in his deposition here.

Fact 25: In May 2018, then-House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions sent an official congressional letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking that Yovanovitch be recalled as ambassador to Ukraine. Sessions and State confirmed the official letter, which you can read here.

Fact 26: In fall 2018, Ukrainian prosecutors, using a third party, hired an American lawyer (a former U.S. attorney) to proffer information to the U.S. government about certain activities at the U.S. embassy, involving Burisma and involving the 2016 election, that they believed might have violated U.S. law. You can read their account here. You can also confirm it independently by talking to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan or the American lawyer representing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ interests.

Fact 27: In May 2016, one of George Soros’ top aides secured a meeting with the top Eurasia policy official in the State Department to discuss Russian bond issues. You can read the State memos on that meeting here.

Fact 28: In June 2016, Soros himself secured a telephonic meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to discuss Ukraine policy. You can read the State memos on that meeting here.

Lt. Col. Vindman, if you have information that contradicts
any of these 28 factual elements in my columns I ask that you make it publicly
available. Your testimony did not.

If you don’t have evidence these 28 facts are wrong, I ask that you correct your testimony because any effort to call factually accurate reporting false only misleads America and chills the free debate our Constitutional framers so cherished to protect.

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Trump Warns of ‘Trivializing’ Impeachment as House Panel OKs 2 Charges

The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday morning along party lines to impeach President Donald Trump, sending two charges to the House floor for what is expected to be another party-line vote next week to set up a Senate trial in January.

Now attention turns to the 31 House Democrats who were elected last year in congressional districts Trump won in 2016. Democrats can lose no more than 17 “yes” votes in order to impeach Trump.

“For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House will act expeditiously,” Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters in brief remarks after the committee votes.  

In two separate actions following 14 hours of contention Thursday between the committee’s Democrats and Republicans, the panel voted 23-17 Friday to approve two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The committee first voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power over his July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. During the conversation, the two leaders talked briefly about Trump’s interest in Ukraine’s investigating the conduct of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, as a highly paid board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while the senior Biden was President Barack Obama’s point man for Ukraine policy. 

Democrats contend Trump was trying to pressure and coerce the newly elected Zelenskyy to announce a politicized investigation at a time when Trump had put a hold on $391 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine. 

However, both Trump and Zelenskyy insist there was no pressure. Trump released the aid in September.

Speaking to the press pool after the committee votes, Trump said the actions will “trivialize” impeachment from this point forward. 

“To be using this for a perfect phone call where the president of that country [Ukraine] said there was no pressure at all, didn’t even know what we were talking about. It was perfect,” Trump said, adding:

The relationship [with Zelenskyy] was perfect. I’ve done much more for them than Obama did for them. It’s a scam. It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed, and you are trivializing impeachment. And I’ll tell you what, someday there will be a Democrat president and there will be a Republican House, and I suspect they are going to remember it. That’s what happens when you use impeachment for absolutely nothing—other than to try and get political gain.

In its second action, the Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Trump for obstruction of Congress for not allowing subpoenaed administration witnesses to testify and otherwise not cooperating with House Democrats’ impeachment investigation. 

Two Democrats had joined all Republicans in opposing the House’s formal impeachment inquiry.

The committee’s votes come after a two-month House investigation led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

The Judiciary Committee debated the two articles for about 14 hours Thursday during a “markup” session that lasted until almost midnight. 

Friday morning, Nadler essentially gaveled in, held the two votes, and gaveled the meeting to a close in about 10 minutes. 

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the votes a “desperate charade” by House Democrats.             

“This desperate charade of an impeachment inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee has reached its shameful end,” Grisham said. “The president looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process which continues to be disgracefully denied to him by the House.”          

Some moderate Democrats are expected to defect in the House floor vote next week, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs only a simple majority to approve articles of impeachment.

In the Senate, 67 votes—a two-thirds majority—are needed to convict and remove a president. 

If the House approves articles of impeachment next week, Trump will become only the third president in American history to be impeached. 

In 1868, the House impeached President Andrew Johnson for firing a Cabinet official without Senate approval—a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson survived a Senate trial by one vote. 

In 1998, the House impeached President Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his attempts to cover up an affair with a White House intern. Neither article of impeachment gained a Senate majority. 

The House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1974 related to the Watergate scandal, but Nixon resigned before the full House voted.

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Trump lawyer Giuliani at White House as U.S. lawmakers vote on impeachment charges

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was at the White House on Friday, the same day that a Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives panel approved impeachment charges against Trump.

Giuliani, who has emerged as central figure in the Democratic-lead impeachment investigation, was caught on television cameras entering the West Wing.

The White House did not immediately provide a reason for the visit and a lawyer for Giuliani declined to comment on the reason.

Trump has asked Giuliani to brief Republican senators and the Justice Department about information he collected on a visit to Ukraine last week. Giuliani has played a key role in trying to collect dirt on a potential Democratic political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the 2020 elections.

Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters she was not sure why Giuliani was at the White House but noted he is one of Trump’s personal attorneys and had just returned from Ukraine.

Trump faces impeachment by the full House next week on charges that he abused his power to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who was a board member of a Ukrainian gas company.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that when Giuliani returned to New York from Ukraine on Saturday, the president called him as his plane was still taxiing down the runway.

“‘What did you get?’” Giuliani said Trump asked, according to the Journal. “More than you can imagine,” the former New York mayor replied. He told the newspaper he is putting his findings into a 20-page report.

Reporting by Steve Holland, additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; editing by Ross Colvin, Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler

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Millions in military aid at center of impeachment hasn’t reached Ukraine

More than $20 million of the Pentagon aid at the center of the impeachment fight still hasn’t reached Ukraine.

The continued delay undermines a key argument against impeachment from President Trump’s Republican allies and a new legal memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Initially, Trump directed officials to withhold roughly $400 million in assistance to Ukraine as he and aides pressured its new government under President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals. The White House released the hold on the aid in September, but not before sparking a whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry.

On Thursday, as lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee debated articles of impeachment, Republicans on the panel continued to assert that Trump did not abuse his power because the aid was released before Ukraine’s new government announced any investigations.

“They got the money on Sept. 11,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said of Ukraine in the Thursday hearing. “That’s what happened. You can make up all the things you want, but those are not the facts.”

But $20.2 million of the Pentagon’s $250-million portion of the aid has yet to reach Ukraine and remains in U.S. accounts, according to the Department of Defense and Senate aides.

The OMB also released a new legal memo Wednesday night arguing it did not violate the law because the aid to Ukraine was released after a temporary pause “to study whether the spending complied with U.S. policy.”

“At no point during the pause” did Defense Department lawyers tell the OMB that the hold on the Ukrainian funding “would prevent DOD from being able to obligate the funds before the end of the fiscal year,” according to the memo, first reported by the Washington Post. Accordingly, the memo asserts, withholding the aid had little impact.

Several OMB officials resigned in part due to their concerns that the withholding was illegal, and witnesses from the Defense Department and other parts of the administration testified publicly in the impeachment inquiry that there was widespread concern that the aid could not be spent by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, and would expire.

When the Trump administration ultimately dropped its hold on the aid on Sept. 11, Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike had to scramble to save the money. Just days shy of the deadline, they passed — and Trump signed into law — a yearlong extension to allow the Pentagon to disburse the aid. But in late November The Times reported that $35.2 million of the initially withheld Ukraine assistance still sat in the U.S. Treasury.

About $15 million has since been contracted out, leaving $20.2 million remaining in U.S. accounts, according to the Pentagon and Senate aides.

Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Carla M. Gleason told The Times on Thursday that the remaining Ukraine aid that has yet to be transferred to the U.S. military services and contracted out “will be implemented as quickly as possible in accordance with contracting procedures and applicable law,” echoing earlier statements from October and November.

Letters from lawmakers to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other officials seeking answers on the continued delay to disbursing the aid to Ukraine have gone unanswered, according to the Senate aides. A federal judge separately ruled late last month that the Defense Department and OMB must provide documentation regarding the aid holdup by Thursday in response to public records requests.

“We still don’t have a clear understanding of why this is taking so long,” one Senate aide said.

Gleason said the delay was due to requirements in the law that granted the Pentagon the extension to spend the Ukraine aid.

“Specifically, we needed to reach out to prospective vendors to obtain updated pricing data,” she said. “Delays in obtaining this information is impacting our overall time lines.”

But Senate staffers said that law contained no such requirements for the Pentagon to essentially start over on contracts.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine aid remains a political football in the impeachment fight.

At Thursday’s hearing, where members are expected to approve forwarding the impeachment articles for a full House vote, Republicans continued to argue that Trump was doing his job by withholding aid because of corruption concerns.

Several Democrats noted that Trump didn’t hold up millions of dollars in similar congressionally approved aid for Ukraine in his first two years in office. And the attempts to get Ukraine to investigate Ukrainian energy company Burisma and board member Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, only began after polls showed the elder Biden beating Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Democrats said.

“He released aid in 2017, he released aid in 2018 and suddenly he became concerned in 2019 right after Vice President Biden announced that he was going to run,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) responded that what changed is that Ukraine elected a new president, and Pentagon assurances that the money would be properly spent came under the previous administration. He said Trump released the aid on Sept. 11 after Zelensky had signed new anti-corruption policies a few days before.

“There was a concern whether Mr. Zelensky was the real deal,” Biggs said.

The Defense Department certified to Congress on May 23 that Ukraine had made the progress on corruption that was legally required to get the aid released — more than a month after Zelensky won the presidency and days after his inauguration. That was two months before his July call with Trump that kicked off the historic events expected to culminate in a vote next week by the Democratic-led House to impeach the U.S. president.

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Trump impeachment inquiry latest: This week on “Face the Nation,” December 15, 2019: Graham, Durbin

Judiciary Committee makes impeachment a reality

After nearly a month of hearings and contentious debate, the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee moved to approve articles impeachment of President Trump, moving the impeachment process into full gear. The votes Friday fell along party lines, passing 23 to 17.

“Today is a solemn and sad day. For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House will act expeditiously,” Nadler said in a brief statement to reporters after the vote.  

The full House of Representatives will move to vote on the articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — sometime next week, making it all but certain that Mr. Trump will become the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. 

The White House slammed the move by the House panel, calling it a “desperate charade of an impeachment inquiry.”

“The President looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process which continues to be disgracefully denied to him by the House,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

The committee passed the procedural amendment that precedes the final vote on the two articles shortly before midnight on Thursday by a voice vote.

Ranking Member Doug Collins condemned the postponement as inappropriate” on Thursday evening, and argued that Democrats only moved the vote to get greater media attention.

“The chairman’s integrity is gone,” Collins told reporters after the meeting. “Words cannot describe how inappropriate this was.”

Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, argued Friday morning that “the American people deserve an impeachment vote in the light of day.”

Trade negotiations 

While the White House continues to play defense against the Democratic caucus, they appeared to give him a small win this week with the announcement of a tentative deal on the United States Mexico Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. 

The trade agreement, signed by the leaders of those countries last year but not yet approved by Congress, is a revamp of NAFTA and a fulfillment of a key campaign promise by the president who has vowed to take down the long-held trade pact during his tenure in office. 

On top of the achievement for Mr. Trump and the Democrats — the White House announced Friday that the United States and China have agreed on a trade agreement in principle after months of back-and-forth retaliatory tariffs. The “Phase One” trade deal requires structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange, according to White House negotiators. 

And as part of the U.S.-China trade deal, the White House will leave 25% tariffs on $250 billion in imports in place, while cutting some existing tariff rates to 7.5%. The pact still requires a final signature from key administration officials. 

While it’s yet to be seen if the administration will comply with Congressional budget negotiators in order to avert a government shutdown next week, the trade successes signal another win for the administration that Mr. Trump will hail victory on just weeks before the holiday break. 

“Face the Nation” Guest Lineup:

And, as always, we’ll turn to our political panel for some perspective on the week:

How to watch “Face the Nation”

  • Date: Sunday, December 15, 2019

  • TV: “Face the Nation” airs Sunday mornings on CBS. Click here for your local listings

  • Radio: Subscribe to “Face the Nation” from CBS Radio News to listen on-the-go

  • Free online stream: Watch a rebroadcast of the show on CBS’ streaming network CBSN at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET.

With the latest news and analysis from Washington, don’t miss Margaret Brennan (@margbrennan) this Sunday on “Face the Nation” (@FaceTheNation). 

And for the latest from America’s premier public affairs program, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

CBS News’ Richard Escobedo contributed   

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Moderate Republicans Can Save America

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A dozen document troves that could change the Ukraine scandal if Trump released them

There are still wide swaths of documentation kept under wraps inside government agencies like the State Department that could substantially alter the public’s understanding of what has happened in the U.S.-Ukraine relationships now at the heart of the impeachment probe.

As House Democrats mull whether to pursue impeachment articles and the GOP-led Senate braces for a possible trial, here are 12 tranches of government documents that could benefit the public if President Trump ordered them released, and the questions these memos might answer.

  1. Daily intelligence reports from March through August 2019 on Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky and his relationship with oligarchs and other key figures. What was the CIA, FBI and U.S. Treasury Department telling Trump and other agencies about Zelensky’s ties to oligarchs like Igor Kolomoisky, the former head of Privatbank, and any concerns the International Monetary Fund might have? Did any of these concerns reach the president’s daily brief (PDB) or come up in the debate around resolving Ukraine corruption and U.S. foreign aid? CNBC, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal all have done recent reporting suggesting there might have been intelligence and IMF concerns that have not been fully considered during the impeachment proceedings.
  2. State Department memos detailing conversations between former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. He says Yovanovitch raised the names of Ukrainians she did not want to see prosecuted during their first meeting in 2016. She calls Lutsenko’s account fiction. But State Department officials admit the U.S. embassy in Kiev did pressure Ukrainian prosecutors not to target certain activists. Are there contemporaneous State Department memos detailing these conversations and might they illuminate the dispute between Lutsenko and Yovanovitch that has become key to the impeachment hearings?
  3. State Department memos on U.S. funding given to the George Soros-backed group the Anti-Corruption Action Centre. There is documentary evidence that State provided funding to this group, that Ukrainian prosecutor sought to investigate whether that aid was spent properly and that the U.S. embassy pressured Ukraine to stand down on that investigation. How much total did State give to this group? Why was a federal agency giving money to a Soros-backed group? What did taxpayers get for their money and were they any audits to ensure the money was spent properly? Were any of Ukrainian prosecutors’ concerns legitimate?
  4. The transcripts of Joe Biden’s phone calls and meetings with Ukraine’s president and prime minister from April 2014 to January 2017 when Hunter Biden served on the board of the natural gas company Burisma Holdings. Did Burisma or Hunter Biden ever come up in the calls? What did Biden say when he urged Ukraine to fire the prosecutor overseeing an investigation of Burisma? Did any Ukrainian officials ever comment on Hunter Biden’s role at the company? Was any official assessment done by U.S. agencies to justify Biden’s threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid if Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin wasn’t fired?
  5. All documents from an Office of Special Counsel whistleblower investigation into unusual energy transactions in Ukraine. The U.S. government’s main whistleblower office is investigating allegations from a U.S Energy Department worker of possible wrongdoing in U.S.-supported Ukrainian energy business. Who benefited in the United States and Ukraine from this alleged activity? Did Burisma gain any benefits from the conduct described by the whistleblower? OSC has concluded there is a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” involved in these activities.
  6. All FBI, CIA, Treasury Department and State Department documents concerning possible wrongdoing at Burisma Holdings. What did the U.S. know about allegations of corruption at the Ukrainian gas company and the efforts by the Ukrainian prosecutors to investigate? Did U.S., Latvian, Cypriot or European financial authorities flag any suspicious transactions involving Burisma or Americans during the time that Hunter Biden served on its board? Were any U.S. agencies monitoring, assisting or blocking the various investigations? When Ukraine reopened the Burisma investigations in March 2019, what did U.S. officials do?
  7. All documents from 2015-16 concerning the decision by the State Department’s foreign aid funding arm, USAID, to pursue a joint project with Burisma Holdings. State official George Kent has testified he stopped this joint project because of concerns about Burisma’s corruption reputation. Did Hunter Biden or his American business partner Devon Archer have anything to do with seeking the project? What caused its abrupt end? What issues did Kent identify as concerns and who did he alert in the White House, State or other agencies?
  8. All cables, memos and documents showing State Department’s dealings with Burisma Holding representatives in 2015 and 2016. We now know that Ukrainian authorities escalated their investigation of Burisma Holdings in February 2016 by raiding the home of the company’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. Soon after, Burisma’s American representatives were pressing the State Department to help end the corruption allegations against the gas firm, specifically invoking Hunter Biden’s name. What did State officials do after being pressured by Burisma? Did the U.S. embassy in Kiev assist Burisma’s efforts to settle the corruption case against it? Who else in the U.S. government was being kept apprised?
  9. All contacts that the Energy Department, Justice Department or State Department had with Vice President Joe Biden’s office concerning Burisma Holdings, Hunter Biden or business associate Devon Archer. We now know that multiple State Department officials believed Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma created the appearance of a conflict of interest for the vice president, and at least one official tried to contact Joe Biden’s office to raise those concerns. What, if anything, did these Cabinet agencies tell Joe Biden’s office about the appearance concerns or the state of the various Ukrainian investigations into Burisma?
  10. All memos, emails and other documents concerning a possible U.S. embassy’s request in spring 2019 to monitor the social media activities and analytics of certain U.S.  media personalities considered favorable to President Trump. Did any such monitoring occur? Was it requested by the American embassy in Kiev? Who ordered it? Why did it stop? Were any legal concerns raised?
  11. All State, CIA, FBI and DOJ documents concerning efforts by individual Ukrainian government officials to exert influence on the 2016 U.S. election, including an anti-Trump Op-Ed written in August 2016 by Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington or efforts to publicize allegations against Paul Manafort. What did U.S. officials know about these efforts in 2016, and how did they react? What were these federal agencies’ reactions to a Ukrainian court decision in December 2018 suggesting some Ukrainian officials had improperly meddled in the 2016 election?
  12. All State, CIA, FBI and DOJ documents concerning contacts with a Democratic National Committee contractor named Alexandra Chalupa and her dealings with the Ukrainian embassy in Washington or other Ukrainian figures. Did anyone in these U.S. government agencies interview or have contact with Chalupa during the time the Ukraine embassy in Washington says she was seeking dirt in 2016 on Trump and Manafort?

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Pres. Trump Welcomes Paraguay Pres. to White House

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.  It’s great to have the President of Paraguay here.  We’re doing a lot of work with Paraguay on terrorism, on drugs, on trade — a lot of different things.  And we’ve had a great relationship.  So, Mr. President, it’s an honor to have you.  Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT ABDO BENÍTEZ:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  It is a great honor for us to be here, for my country; I believe also for the region, Mr. President — for the one who stood firmly defending democracy in the region. 
And the President of Paraguay here reaffirms our bilateral and our historic friendship.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT ABDO BENÍTEZ:  Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Really tremendous.  We look forward to the meeting.
     I want to congratulate Boris Johnson on a terrific victory.  I think that might be a harbinger for what’s to come in our country; it was last time.  I’m sure people will be thrilled to hear that, but a lot of people will be, actually — a very big percentage of people.  Because this was a tremendous victory last night, and it’s very interesting.  The final votes are being tallied right now, but the numbers are tremendous.  So I want to congratulate.  He’s a friend of mine.  It’s going to be a great thing for the United States also, because it means a lot of trade.  A tremendous amount of trade.   They want to do business with us so badly.
     Under the European Union, it was very, very hard for them to do business with us.  We just made our big deal, as you know, with Mexico, Canada.  We have a tremendous trade deal that’s going through the House now.  It’s going to be obviously approved.  And it’s tremendous for our country.  It’s really tremendous for the region, but it’s fantastic for the U.S.
     We have — the China deal, as you know, it was just approved a little while ago.  And it’s — to me, it’s not complicated, but that’s what I do.  It’s a phenomenal deal.  The tariffs will largely remain at 25 percent on $250 billion.  And we’ll use them for future negotiations on the phase two deal, because China would like to see the tariffs off, and we — we’re okay with that.  But they’ll be used as a negotiating table for the phase two deal, which they would like to start immediately, and that’s okay with me.  We were going to wait until the after the election, but they’d like to start them sooner than that, and that’s okay.  So we’ll start that negotiation soon.
     This is a very large deal — the China deal.  It covers tremendous manufacturing, farming — a lot of rules, regulations.  A lot of things are covered.  It’s a phase one deal, but a lot of big things are covered.  And I say, affectionately: The farmers are going to have to go out and buy much larger tractors, because it means a lot of business — a tremendous amount of business.
     And we’ve had a very big week.  A lot of things have done.  Space Force, as you know, was approved.  That’s a tremendous — that’s another branch of the military.  I mean, very few people have that in their legacy.  And we have that, just like the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard.  We have another branch of the military, to think of what that means.  But very vital.  It’s going to be — with time, it’s going to be certainly one of the most important branches.
     We’ll have our own representative.  It will have its own representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  It’s a big deal — something that a lot of people thought couldn’t be done.  But the Space Force will be a very important component of our defense and, frankly, our offense, and it’ll be very important for our country.  So we’re very honored by that.
     And we had many other things that we’ve done this week.  This has been a wild week.  And if you have any questions, please go ahead.
     Q    Mr. President, your reaction to the vote in the House Judiciary this morning?
 PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I was actually, believe it or not, finishing up the final — I was doing the final touches on the China deal.  And that’s going to be one of the great deals ever.  And it’s going to ultimately lead to the opening of China, which is something that is incredible, because that’s a whole, big, untapped market of 1.5 billion people.  And so I was actually doing the finals. 
     But I got to see enough of it, and certainly I spoke to my people.  It’s a witch hunt.  It’s a sham.  It’s a hoax.  Nothing was done wrong.  Zero was done wrong.  I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment, which is supposed to be used in an emergency.  And it would seem many, many, many years apart.
     To be using this for a perfect phone call, where the President of that country said there was no pressure whatsoever — didn’t even know what we were talking about.  It was perfect; the relationship is perfect.  I’ve done much more for them than Obama did for them.  It’s a scam.  It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed.  And it’s a very bad thing for our country.
     And you’re trivializing impeachment.  And I tell you what: Someday there’ll be a Democrat President and there’ll be a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to remember it.  Because when you do — when you use impeachment for absolutely nothing, other than to try and get political gain —
     Now, with that being said, my poll numbers, as you know, have gone through the roof.  Fundraising for the Republican Party has gone through the roof.  We’re setting records.  We’ve never — nobody has ever seen anything like it because the people are disgusted.  The people are absolutely disgusted.  Nobody has ever seen anything like this.
     And I watched yesterday — I got to see quite a bit of it yesterday — and I watched these Democrats on the committee make fools out of themselves.  Absolute fools out of themselves.  And I also saw them quoting, all the time, incorrectly.  They kept saying “me.”  It wasn’t about me, it was about us.  The word was “us.”  So, they would — kept saying “me” instead “us.”  “Can you do ‘us’ a favor?”  “Our country,” comma, “our country.”  Then it talked about seeing the Attorney General of the United States. 
     For these people to say “me” — they would say “me.”  “You said, ‘Do me a favor.’”  No, it didn’t say that.  It said, “Do us a favor — our country.”  Talking about the past election.  Talking about corruption. 
     The other thing nobody remembers and nobody likes to talk about — and I talk about it all the time — is why isn’t Germany, why isn’t France, why aren’t other European countries paying?  Because we’re paying.  The suckers.  You know, for years, we’ve been the suckers.  But we’re not the suckers anymore.  Big difference. 
But why isn’t Germany paying big money?  They’re the ones — I mean, they have a much bigger benefit than we do because Ukraine is really a stoppage between Russia and parts of Europe — the major part of Europe.  Why aren’t European countries paying?  Why isn’t France paying a lot of money?  Why is it always the United States?  We’re 7,000 miles away.  Why is it always the suckers that pay?  So we’ve changed that, but nobody brings that up.
     I think that the whole impeachment thing — “hoax,” I guess you could call it, because it is a hoax.  And Nancy Pelosi and knows it.  By the way, they duped her yesterday.  She was on an interview, and she said, “We’ve been working on this for two and a half years.”  So she’s — she was working on it, in other words, two years before we ever spoke to Ukraine.  She said, “We’ve been working on impeachment for two and a half years.”  And the reporter was shocked when they got this answer, because it showed she’s a liar.
     So it’s — it’s a very sad thing for our country, but it seems to be very good for me, politically.  And again, those people — because I watched some of the dishonest, fake media — they’re saying, “Well, the polls have remained the same.”  No, the polls have not remained the same.  I think you understand that, John.  The polls have gone through the roof for Trump.  Because peop- — especially with independent voters, and especially in swing states.  I could show you numbers that nobody has ever seen numbers like this before. 
     So the impeachment is a hoax.  It’s a sham.  It started a long time ago, probably before I came down the escalator with the future First Lady.  It started a long time ago. 
     And when you look at the IG report and you look at these horrible FBI people talking about, “We got to get him out,”  “insurance policies” — you know, the insurance policy is just in cases she loses — meaning, Crooked Hillary, who’s crooked as a three-dollar bill.  “Just in case Crooked Hillary loses, we’ve got an insurance policy.”  But we’ve been going through the insurance policy now for three years, and it’s a disgrace.
     Thank you very much everybody.  Thank you.
     Q    (Inaudible.)
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Say it?
     Q    Can you say how much China will be buying?  Will they hit $50 billion?
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think they’ll hit $50 billion in agriculture.
     Q    Can you say —
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, much more than 50 [billion], because it’s also manufacturing and other.  But I think, in agriculture, they will hit $50 billion.  Yes. 
     Q    Next year?  Or when?  What’s the timeline for that?
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Pretty soon.  They’ve already stepped it up.  My deal with them was two months ago.  We had it in pretty good form.  I said, “Do me a favor: Start buying agriculture.”  And they started.  If you look — I mean, they’re already buying.  Even before the deal is signed, they’re buying. 
     Q    Are you going to speak about Venezuela, Mr. President?
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we’re with the people of Venezuela 100 percent.  It’s so important to us, and we’re going to be discussing Venezuela today.  It’ll be a big subject.
     Q    Mr. President, do you prefer a short process in the Senate or a more extended process?
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I have heard Lindsey Graham, who’s terrific, and I heard his statement, and I like that.  And I could also — I can do — I’ll do whatever I want. 
     Look, there is — we did nothing wrong.  So I’ll do long or short.  I’ve heard Mitch.  I’ve heard Lindsey.  I think they are very much on agreement on some concept.  I’ll do whatever they want to do.  It doesn’t matter. 
     I wouldn’t mind a long process because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud — the whistleblower wrote a false report, and I really blew it up when I released the transcript of the call. 
     And then Schiff gets up and he — and I blew him up, too — because he went up in front of Congress and he made a statement about what I said that was totally false.  And then a long time after he made it, when he got caught, he said, “Oh, well, that was parody.  Parody.” 
     No, Schiff is a crooked — he’s a corrupt politician and a disgrace.  And because of the fact he’s in Congress, he’s got immunity, so you can’t do anything.  But he went up there — you know that — he made a totally false statement.  The whistleblower wrote a totally false statement.  So it’s a fraud. 
     Then I say, “Where is the informer?” — the one that informed the whistleblower?  He had an informer.  He disappeared.  You know why he disappeared?  Because I released the transcript.  Had I not released that transcript, we would have had an informer; we would have had another whistleblower. 
By the way, where is the second whistleblower?  Remember that?  “We have a second whistleblower.  We have breaking news.”
Look, not all of it, but much of the media is corrupt.  These are bad people.  They’re sick people and they’re corrupt. 
And we’re fighting the Democrats and we’re fighting a lot of the corrupt media.  But I ask the corrupt media: Where’s the second whistleblower?
     Now, had I not had a transcript — I’m lucky we had this transcript, which, by the way, has now been verified by the Lieutenant Colonel — Lieutenant Colonel, okay?  He’s another beauty. 
     So where is — where is all of this stuff that was going to happen?  Once I released it — and I released it quick but — quickly.  But once I released it, all of a sudden the second whistleblower disappeared.  The first whistleblower, who was all set to testify, he — all of a sudden, he becomes this saint-like figure that they don’t need him anymore.  The one that everybody wanted to see, including Schiff, was the whistleblower.  Once I released the text of what happened — the transcript — that was the end.  Everybody disappeared. 
     So now there’s no informer.  There’s no second whistleblower.  Everybody has gone.  And, by the way, a guy like Sondland — nobody ever says it — he said very strongly that I said, “I want nothing” and “no quid pro quo.”  Nobody says that.  That’s what he said.  He said it in Congress.  Nobody ever says that.
     So, look, we’re dealing with a lot of corrupt people.  There was nothing done wrong.  To use the power of impeachment on this nonsense is an embarrassment to this country.  The President just said it.  It’s an embarrassment to our country.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.