Trump floats taking case to Supreme Court to stop impeachment

President Trump on Monday questioned whether he and his allies could go to the Supreme Court to halt the House impeachment inquiry. 

Trump tweeted shortly after arriving in the United Kingdom for two days of NATO meetings that he had read House Republicans’ draft defense in which his allies insist there was no evidence of wrongdoing in Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.

“Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE,” Trump tweeted. “Read the Transcripts. Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”

The tweet marked the second time that Trump has raised the possibility of appealing his case to the Supreme Court to avert a possible impeachment. There’s no precedent for a president taking his impeachment case to the high court, and legal experts have previously said it’s unlikely the justices would hear such a case.

The president’s comments came as the impeachment proceedings enter a new phase while he is overseas meeting with world leaders and reflected the difficulty Trump will have restraining himself from weighing in on the House hearings while abroad.

Lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee are expected to begin reviewing a draft version of the panel’s report summarizing its findings after private depositions and public hearings with a dozen current and former administration officials.

The committee will then vote Tuesday on whether to adopt the report, which would be sent to the Judiciary Committee thereafter.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry, titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.” The panel will hear from legal scholars as Democrats weigh whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles aimed at removing the president from office. 

The White House said it will not participate in the hearing, though it did not rule out taking part in future hearings.

House Democrats are examining whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that could benefit him politically, including by conditioning a White House meeting or aid for Ukraine to those investigations.

But House Republicans argue in their draft defense that the president’s actions were not politically motivated and that the evidence does not support Democrats’ assertions.

The president’s GOP allies at no point over the course of the 123-page document concede any wrongdoing by Trump, instead insisting that with proper context the administration’s actions were “entirely prudent.”

Trump himself has maintained that his much-scrutinized July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect.” On the call, Trump asks Zelensky to look into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about 2016 election interference.

Trump in April first tweeted that he would take Democrats to the Supreme Court if they tried to impeach him. That assertion came on the heels of former special counsel Robert Mueller releasing his full report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But legal experts cast doubt on the chances of the Supreme Court taking up such a case. They noted that the Constitution grants impeachment powers to the House and that Chief Justice John Roberts would be expected to preside over a Senate trial.

[The Hill]

Trump wastes no time distorting Zelensky statement

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an unmistakable rebuke to President Trump in an interview published Monday by Time and three European news outlets. Then Trump, as is his wont, declared himself totally exonerated.

According to the partial transcript posted by Time, Zelensky mostly discussed the war with Russian-backed rebels along Ukraine’s eastern border. When he got onto the topic of the United States’ role, he started by saying he didn’t want Ukraine to be a pawn in a great-powers game of chess. But then he got into how Trump and other U.S. officials had been publicly labeling Ukraine a “corrupt country” and the difficulties that this causes with global investors and businesses.

”This is a hard signal,” Zelensky said. “For me it’s very important for the United States, with all they can do for us, for them really to understand that we are a different country, that we are different people. It’s not that those things don’t exist. They do. All branches of government were corrupted over many years, and we are working to clean that up. But that signal from them is very important.”

In other words, the chaff thrown up by Trump and his allies in defense of his attempt to persuade Zelensky to announce two investigations that could help Trump’s reelection bid — “Ukraine is corrupt, and Trump was just trying to protect taxpayers’ money” — is at least as harmful to Ukraine’s new housecleaning government as it is helpful to Trump.

But that comment wasn’t the one that got Trump’s attention. It was one at the end of the interview, when Zelensky was asked the $300-million question: “When did you first sense that there was a connection between Trump’s decision to block military aid to Ukraine this summer and the two investigations that Trump and his allies were asking for? Can you clarify this issue of the quid pro quo?”

There’s a great deal of confusion over this precise point. The White House froze nearly $300 million in security aid to Ukraine about two weeks before Trump spoke with Zelensky and asked for “a favor” in the form of those two investigations. But the hold on the aid didn’t become public until Politico broke the news in late August.

Here’s Zelensky’s response, according to Time’s transcript: “Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing.… I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”

There are a million different ways to parse that, but the meaning seems clear: Zelensky really, really, really wants to get out of the middle of this controversy. Yet it’s also clear that he’s not forgiving Trump for delaying the aid approved by Congress, more than 10% of which is apparently still on hold.

Trump, though, offered a completely different read:

Nothing wrong? How about “If you’re our strategic partner, you can’t go blocking anything for us”? How about Zelensky imploring Trump to stop driving capital away from Kyiv?

But that’s how Trump operates, counting on people not to take the extra step and read the Zelensky interview for themselves.

It’s kind of like Trump’s fallback line, “Read the transcript.” If people actually read the reconstructed transcript that the White House released, they would see Trump telling Zelensky how dependent Ukraine is on the United States, then find him asking Zelensky to conduct two investigations that are clearly beneficial to Trump politically — including one specifically into the Democrat who’s leading the race to oppose Trump in 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Granted, some folks may not be troubled by a president using the power of his office to try to persuade a foreign government to help him win reelection. But even they would have to concede it’s something less than “perfect.”

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump repeats Ukraine conspiracy theory and more debunked lies on 53-minute “Fox & Friends” call

President Trump spent 53 minutes of his Friday morning on the phone with the hosts of “Fox & Friends” — his latest call-in to one of his favorite TV shows.

Driving the news: President Trump spent a chunk of the interview repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “That’s what the word is,” he claimed without evidence.

  • The debunked conspiracy theory — frequently referred to as CrowdStrike, the security firm at its center — is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, said during his impeachment hearing that the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is “a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
  • Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, said during her impeachment hearing that the conspiracy theory is “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Worth noting: Trump also said that Crowdstrike is owned by “a very wealthy Ukrainian,” but it’s actually a publicly-traded company. Its largest outside shareholder is Warburg Pincus, a New York City private equity firm from which Trump plucked one of his top economic advisors.

Impeachment-related highlights:

  • The president once again slammed former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, claiming she was “not an angel.” During her impeachment testimony , she agreed that it was Trump’s prerogative to fire ambassadors at will, but asked, “What I do wonder is why was it necessary to smear my reputation also?”
  • Trump said that during a Senate impeachment trial he only wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify more than Hunter Biden.
  • Trump said that he knows “exactly” who the Ukraine whistleblower is — and insinuated that the “Fox & Friends” hosts did as well — prompting them to attempt to steer the conversation away from the topic live on air.

Other highlights:

  • Trump predicted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t pass the USMCA trade deal, despite it being a priority for some Democratic lawmakers ahead of 2020.
  • He tried to find a middle ground between supporting pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and not offending Chinese President Xi Jinping as the U.S. attempts to close a “phase one” trade deal with China. “We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” he said.
  • Trump denied rumors surrounding his health after a surprise visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center last weekend, calling it “fake, disgusting news.”

2020 lightning round:

  • Joe Biden: “I don’t know if Joe can make it mentally. He’s off.”
  • Pete Buttigieg: “I don’t see him dealing with President Xi. I don’t see him dealing with Kim Jong-un. But maybe he is.”
  • Elizabeth Warren: “I think Pocahontas has come up from the embers.”
  • Michael Bloomberg: “I think his time has come and gone.

[Axios]

Reality

There was multiple fact checks some could only refer to this call as “bananas.”

Media

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY Trump says he will ‘strongly consider’ testifying in House impeachment probe

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is “strongly” considering testifying before the impeachment probe in light of recent comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said he is more than welcome to present his case personally before the House Intelligence Committee.

“Our Crazy, Do Nothing (where’s USMCA, infrastructure, lower drug pricing & much more?) Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, who is petrified by her Radical Left knowing she will soon be gone (they & Fake News Media are her BOSS), suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt,” Trump tweeted. “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”

Speaking with CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an interview that aired Sunday, Pelosi said Trump can “come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants, if he wants to take the oath of office, or he could do it in writing.”

“He has every opportunity to present his case,” she said, adding that if Trump “has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it.”

But Pelosi, calling Trump’s efforts at having Ukraine investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election, said the president’s conduct “was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did.”

“At some point, Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognize that this could not continue,” she said.

Public calls for the president to testify before the committee have ramped up recently. After an extended rant during Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in which the Trump ally said investigators need to have “the person who started” the probe, meaning the first whistleblower, come testify, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., retorted, “I’d like to see the person who started it come testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

Speaking with Fox News on Monday, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., one of Trump’s top allies in battling impeachment, said his advice to the president on testifying before impeachment investigators would be “heck no.”

Earlier this month, Trump decried the idea of the whistleblower providing written answers to Congress, saying they would be “not acceptable.” Trump refused to supply former special counsel Robert Mueller with live testimony, instead opting to provide written answers to a series of questions related to Russian electoral interference. In his more than 400-page report, Mueller said those written answers were “inadequate.”

[NBC News]

Trump attacks ambassador on Twitter as she testifies that his words in Ukraine call made her feel threatened

President Donald Trump lashed out at former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday as she testified in a public impeachment hearing that his words about her in a phone call with the Ukraine president “sounded like a threat.”

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump claimed in a two-part tweet blast.

“She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” the president wrote.

The time stamp on the tweet is 10 a.m., 30 minutes after Yovanovitch started her opening statement at the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearing.

Yovanovitch, whose career of service to the U.S. spanned more than three decades, was asked at the hearing about the tweets.

“I actually think that where I served over the years I and others have demonstrably made things better for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I served in,” she said.

“It’s very intimidating,” she added when asked again about the president’s tweets.

“I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously,” said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Yovanovitch had served the U.S. in Ukraine from August 2016 until May 2019, when Trump ousted her. She testified that she “had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals” during her tenure and said she was the victim of a “smear campaign” pushed in part by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Trump, in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called Yovanovitch “bad news” and offered the cryptic remark that “she’s going to go through some things.”

That call is now at the center of the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his office by asking Zelenskiy to announce investigations involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Yovanovitch, who was already removed as ambassador by the time of Trump’s July 25 call, said that Trump’s remark about her “didn’t sound good. It sounded like a threat.”

“It’s not a very precise phrase,” she added. “It kind of felt like a vague threat.”

[NBC News]

Trump knocks testimony from ‘Never Trumpers’ at Louisiana rally

President Trump on Thursday attacked Democratic lawmakers in personal terms and ridiculed the first two witnesses to testify publicly in the House’s impeachment inquiry as “Never Trumpers.”

In his first campaign rally since the Wednesday hearing, Trump riffed about the spectacle and insisted to a crowd of adoring supporters that he had done nothing wrong.

“The absolutely crazed lunatics, the Democrats, radical left and their media partners standing right back there are pushing the deranged impeachment witch hunt for doing nothing wrong,” Trump said during the event in Bossier City, La.

Trump briefly addressed the testimony of diplomat William Taylor and State Department official George Kent, who told the House Committees about their concerns regarding Trump’s policy in Ukraine, the focus on investigations into his political rivals and the actions of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

“You saw yesterday how about when they asked these two Never Trumpers, ‘what exactly do you think you impeach him for?'” Trump said. “And they stood there and went like, ‘what?'”

“But they’re unraveling and their sinister plans will fail,” Trump added. “They’ve already failed as far as I’m concerned.”

The president avoided addressing any specific claims in the testimony from Taylor and Kent. Instead, he turned his ire toward House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whom he mocked at length.

“He’s got the little 10-inch neck,” Trump said of the Democratic lawmaker, who is overseeing the impeachment hearings.

“He will not make the LSU football team, that I can tell you,” Trump added.

The president also read aloud from a post on The Daily Wire, a conservative publication that published quotes from a Ukrainian official that distanced the country from allegations against Trump.

Trump rallied in Louisiana for the second time in a week and the third time in a month as he makes a final push for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone. Thursday’s event came one day after the first public hearing in the House impeachment inquiry. 

Taylor in particular laid out in rich detail the timeline of events that led him to believe the president’s policy in Ukraine was inappropriate.

He delivered a damning new piece of testimony when he told the House Intelligence Committee that one of his staffers overheard a call between Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in which the president asked about investigations. The Associated Press reported earlier Thursday that a second staffer overheard the call as well.

But Trump and his allies have landed on a clear talking point in the aftermath of the hearing, noting that neither Taylor nor Kent had direct interactions with the president or first-hand information about potential wrongdoing.

Trump is facing a gauntlet of upcoming witness testimony that could produce more damaging revelation. Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is set to testify in public on Friday morning. She has previously told lawmakers behind closed doors that Giuliani led a concerted effort to smear her and remove her from her post.

Several more witnesses, including Sondland, will testify in public next week. The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry will also hear private deposition from additional administration officials in the coming days.

Earlier on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) portrayed Trump’s actions as a clearly impeachable offense.

“What President Trump has done on the record — in terms of … [asking] a foreign power to help him in his own election and the obstruction of information about that, the cover up — makes what Nixon did look almost small,” she said at a press conference. “Almost small.”

Trump reiterated his belief that the impeachment process will ultimately benefit Republicans at the polls, despite public polling showing an even split among those in favor of impeachment and those opposed to it.

But in what appeared to be a more sincere moment from the free-wheeling president, Trump indicated to the crowd that the process has been difficult for his family and that he’d be happy to see it conclude.

“What a life I lead,” Trump said to the crowd. “You think this is fun, don’t you? But it’s been very hard on my family.”

[The Hill]

Fact-checking Trump’s barrage of anti-impeachment tweets

President Donald Trump has lashed out again at Democrats’ impeachment push, tweeting a rapid-fire series of arguments in his own defense over three tweets Tuesday morning.Trump has made these same claims (or very close) before. But since public impeachment hearings are beginning on Wednesday, it’s worth breaking down his case.Let’s go point by point:

“Why is such a focus put on 2nd and 3rd hand witnesses…”

Various witnesses who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have had firsthand knowledge of various components of the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine.For example, witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Tim Morrison of the White House’s National Security Council both listened to Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; so did witness Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence.The former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testified about what she had been directly told about why Trump was abruptly removing her from her post.Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, testified about his own comments to Ukrainian officials about how US military aid would not “likely” be issued until Ukraine declared that it was conducting an investigation related to Joe Biden. (Sondland described this proposed declaration as an “anti-corruption statement.”) Among other firsthand testimony, Trump’s current top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified about his own concerns about the role Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was playing in relations with Ukraine.

“…many of whom are Never Trumpers…”

There is no evidence that “many” of the impeachment witnesses are “Never Trumpers” under the traditional definition of the term: longtime Republicans who refuse to support Trump.Though we can’t be certain of the private political beliefs of people who have testified, the witnesses have included Trump’s own appointees; administration aides; and career diplomats with no history of public support of or opposition to political candidates.Trump appears to be trying to redefine the term “Never Trumper” so that it applies to anyone who criticizes his actions.

“…or whose lawyers are Never Trumpers…”

Trump has a better case here. After Trump was elected, Taylor’s lawyer John Bellinger joined “Checks and Balances,” a group of conservative lawyers formed to speak out against Trump. Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the whistleblower, has represented both Democrats and Republicans and sued both Democratic and Republican administrations, but he has been open about his opposition to Trump: “Anti-Trump. Worst presidential choice in modern history. Not a repub or dem issue,” he wrote on Twitter in 2017.

“…all you have to do is read the phone call (transcript) with the Ukrainian President and see first hand?”

The document the White House released says on its first page that it is “not a verbatim transcript.” Vindman has testified that some details were omitted from the document.Regardless, Trump’s frequent contention that the phone call was “perfect” is highly questionable. Contrary to Trump’s repeated assertions, the call document shows that the whistleblower’s allegations about the call were highly accurate: Trump sought to get Zelensky to investigate Biden, to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory about Democratic computer servers, and to speak to Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.The whistleblower described these requests as pressure, which Trump is entitled to dispute. But the underlying facts are not in dispute.

“He (Zelensky) and others also stated that there was ‘no pressure’ put on him to investigate Sleepy Joe Biden…”

Zelensky has indeed said that he did not feel pressured by Trump. “Nobody pushed me,” he told reporters while sitting beside Trump at a meeting at the United Nations in September. (When CNN’s Clarissa Ward asked Zelensky the next week if he felt pressure from Trump to investigate the Bidens to get the aid, Zelensky responded indirectly, saying, “I’d like to tell you that I never feel pressure. I have lots of people who’d like to put pressure on me here and abroad. But I’m the president of an independent Ukraine and I’d like to think and my action suggests, no one can put pressure on me.”)CNN, the The New York Times and others have described a difficult internal debate within Zelensky’s team about how to handle Trump’s push for an announcement of investigations.

“…as President, I have an ‘obligation’ to look into corruption, and Biden’s actions, on tape, about firing the prosecutor…are certainly looking very corrupt (to put it mildly!) to me.”

There is no evidence of Biden acting corruptly.Trump appeared to be referring to a 2018 video of Biden telling the story of how he used a threat to deny Ukraine a $1 billion loan guarantee to successfully pressure Ukrainian leaders to fire a chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was widely seen by the US government, its European allies and Ukrainian activists to be ineffective in fighting corruption.”He was executing U.S. policy at the time and what was widely understood internationally to be the right policy,” Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, testified.All that aside, nothing would have obligated Trump to push a foreign leader to investigate an American political rival or announce an investigation into that person, nor to link such an investigation or announcement to the execution of American foreign policy.

“His son’s taking millions of dollars, with no knowledge or talent, from a Ukrainian energy company, and more millions taken from China, and now reports of other companies and countries also giving him big money…”

Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, did make significant money from his role on the board of directors of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma; he has not denied reports that his salary was $50,000 per month.Hunter Biden, a lawyer who had worked in the Commerce Department and served on the Amtrak board, acknowledged in October that he would “probably not” have been invited to join the Burisma board if his father were not Joe Biden; he said he had done “nothing wrong at all” but had used “poor judgment” in getting involved in such a “swamp.”It is not clear how much money Hunter Biden has earned from China. Trump has repeatedly claimed that Hunter Biden pocketed $1.5 billion, but he has not presented evidence for this claim; Hunter Biden told ABC that it has “no basis in fact,” adding, “No one ever paid me $1.5 billion, and if they had, I would not be doing this interview right now.”A lawyer for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, says the investment company in which his client has held a 10% stake was capitalized with a total of about $4.2 million in Chinese money at today’s exchange rates, “not $1.5 billion.” (Even this investment — made when Biden was a member of the company board, not a part-owner — was not a direct payment to him, and Mesires says Biden has not made a profit from his investment.)There is no evidence of illegal behavior by Hunter Biden.

“Both Bidens should be forced to testify in this No Due Process Scam!”

Trump didn’t specify here what he was referring to, but he has previously alleged that he is being denied due process because his lawyers are not being permitted to participate in the impeachment hearings.Trump is entitled to make this subjective argument. The Constitution, however, does not mandate the House of Representatives to allow the President’s lawyers to participate in impeachment proceedings. The Senate holds a trial after the House votes to impeach; the House is not obligated to treat its own process as if it were a trial.Democrats are beginning their public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee. Their rules will permit Trump lawyers to submit evidence and ask questions of witnesses once the process moves to the House Judiciary Committee, which will make the decision about whether to draw up articles of impeachment.Trump’s campaign has noted that lawyers for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were permitted to cross-examine witnesses. That happened in the Judiciary Committee; those impeachment processes did not begin with the House Intelligence Committee.

[CNN]

Trump claims Adam Schiff is faking the transcripts he’s putting out from Intelligence Committee depositions

President Donald Trump tweeted out another conspiracy theory about Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Monday as two more transcripts were released from those testifying in the House Intelligence Committee as it prepares for impeachment.

“Just like Schiff fabricated my phone call, he will fabricate the transcripts that he is making and releasing!” Trump tweeted.

Trump also claimed that Shiff will not allow Trump any witnesses. The president’s lawyers haven’t explained to him that the House does not hold the trial for impeachment, it’s the Senate that holds the trial. That’s where witnesses will be presented and the White House can refute the claims. Schiff is having a hearing around the impeachment inquiry and investigation.

Last week Republicans demanded that the depositions be made public. Once Shiff announced that the hearings would be public and he would release the transcripts of the depositions to the public, Republicans then said the hearings should be behind closed doors and the president claimed the depositions were fake.

Republicans were present during the depositions and are quoted in the transcripts.

Trump did not present any evidence of his claim.

[Raw Story]

On Veterans Day, Trump Laments Passing Whistleblower Law Meant to Improve VA: ‘To Think I Signed!’

On Veterans Day, President Donald Trump lamented passing a whistleblower law meant to increase protections for employees who uncovered wrongdoing in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“To think I signed the Whistleblower Protection Act!” Trump said Monday, stepping on an announcement from the White House twitter account praising Trump’s accomplishments for veterans.

The actual Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in 1998, but Trump has passed at least two laws related to whistleblower protections, according to a review of the congressional record.

The White House tweet is apparently referring to the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which was sponsored by GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. The law passed the Senate via voice vote.

The law established a new special office in the VA to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and makes it easier to fire employees accused of misconduct. However, an Inspector General report released late last month found the office had largely failed in its mission to protect whistleblowers and conducted corrupt investigations.

Trump also signed the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 into law, which is named for a VA doctor who was ousted and later killed himself after he blew the whistle on the over-prescription of opiates at his VA facility.

[Mediaite]

Trump on Megadonor and Ambassador Sondland: ‘I Hardly Know the Gentleman’

President Donald Trump, when asked about Gordon Sondland’s damaging testimony in the impeachment inquiry, claimed “I hardly know” his ambassador who gave a million to his inauguration.

“Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman,” Trump told reporters Friday. “But this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still said that. And he said that I said that.”

In addition to Sondland donating $1 million to the Trump inaugural committee, Trump tweeted about Sondland last month–calling him “a really good man and great American” when he directed him not to testify.

Sondland was eventually subpoenaed and testified behind closed doors. A transcript of his testimony was released earlier this week.

Trump also alluded to another phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he floated also releasing a transcript of to the public.

“What they want is they want my first phone call. I had another phone call. And it’s a very important phone call,” Trump said. “They found out there’s another phone call and that’s the first phone call and they want it released and we’re considering them.”

[Mediaite]

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