EXCLUSIVE: House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes blasted committee Chairman Adam Schiff for what he called an “alarming” and “blatant disregard” for the rules governing the House impeachment inquiry against President Trump, saying Schiff transmitted his investigative findings to the Judiciary Committee for the next phase in the proceedings without consulting him.
Fox News exclusively obtained the letter Nunes, R-Calif., sent to Schiff, D-Calif., on Sunday night. In the letter dated Friday, Nunes wrote that Schiff chose not to consult with him so that he could meet a “bogus” deadline for impeaching the president. The GOP congressman also accused the Democrat of having a “vendetta” against the president.
“I write in objection to your December 6, 2019 transfer of additional records and other materials relating to the Democrats’ partisan impeachment inquiry to the House Committee on the Judiciary,” Nunes wrote.
He went on to cite the rules governing the impeachment inquiry, passed in the House in October, which stated that “the chair of the Permanent Select Committee or the chair of any other committee having custody of records or other materials relating to the inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution is authorized, in consultation with the ranking minority member, to transfer such records or materials to the Committee on the Judiciary.”
“As the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I received no consultation prior to the transfer of materials, in violation of H. Res. 660,” Nunes wrote. “Accordingly, I expect that you immediately provide me a full accounting of documents that were provided to the Committee on the Judiciary.”
“Your consistent and blatant disregard for the rules is alarming,” Nunes continued. “I can see no reason for you to continue to ignore these rules, which the Democratic majority put in place, other than to meet a bogus deadline of impeaching the President by Christmas.”
He added: “I urge you to put an immediate end to your vendetta against the President, stop your constant rule breaking, and begin treating this Committee and its oversight responsibilities with the seriousness they deserve.”
Last week, the Intelligence Committee voted to adopt and issue a scathing report on its findings from its impeachment inquiry. Democrats on the panel asserted that their inquiry “uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election.”
In their impeachment inquiry, the committee conducted extensive interviews with witnesses connected to the Trump administration’s relationship with Ukraine, after an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint alleging that during a July 25 phone call, Trump tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election.
The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed showed a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing.
The Democrats’ report claimed that Trump withheld nearly $391 million in military aid from Ukraine, conditioning its delivery as well as a White House visit with Zelensky on a public announcement that Zelensky was conducting the investigations. It also accused Trump of obstruction of justice for instructing witnesses not to comply with congressional subpoenas.
Nunes took issue with the issuance of the report to the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., without consulting with him, as well as the transmission of additional underlying investigative material, according to an aide familiar with the matter. Also part of the committee’s report were Nunes’ phone records, which Schiff subpoenaed and released in connection with the impeachment inquiry.
Meanwhile, House Republicans issued their own report earlier this week delivering a point-by-point rebuttal to Democrats’ impeachment efforts.
“The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” Republicans said in their report released Monday.
Nevertheless, Nadler and Judiciary Committee Democrats, in consultation with Intelligence Committee and Oversight Committee Democrats, and at the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have begun drafting articles of impeachment, which are likely to encompass two major themes: abuse of office and obstruction.
The Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing Monday, when counsels for the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees’ Democrats and Republicans are to present evidence in the case.
Acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli was reportedly forced to leave an event on Thanksgiving eve after former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley blasted him for carrying out the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
The incident allegedly took place at the Dubliner, an Irish pub on Capitol Hill where Cuccinelli and O’Malley were said to be attending an event with fellow graduates of Gonzaga College High School, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the encounter.
“Martin O’Malley just drove Ken Cuccinelli out of the Dubliner in DC w/ a passion-laced and shame-invoking tirade on behalf of immigrant refugee children!!!” Siobhan Arnold, who’s identified as a Villanova University media relations associate and was reportedly at the bar, tweeted late Wednesday.
Martin O’Malley just drove Ken Cuccinelli out of the Dubliner in DC w/ a passion-laced and shame-invoking tirade on behalf of immigrant refugee children!!!
Speaking to the Post, Arnold said O’Malley used Cuccinelli’s grandparents in a bid to shame him, a remark which she said Cuccinelli barely responded to.
“O’Malley was shouting,” Arnold told the Post. “I don’t think Cuccinelli was responding. I think he’s like, ‘Time to go. Just got here and I’m leaving.’ He pretty much retreated.”
O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland from 2006 to 2014, and a 2016 presidential candidate who withdrew his White House bid after an early defeat in the Iowa caucuses, defended his actions to the Post.
“We all let him know how we felt about him putting refugee immigrant kids in cages — certainly not what we were taught by the Jesuits at Gonzaga,” O’Malley said in a text to the Post, adding that Cuccinelli is “the son of immigrant grandparents who cages children for a fascist president.”
A DHS spokesman did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Cuccinelli has been known as one of the Trump administration’s most vocal immigration hardliners. He was appointed acting deputy DHS secretary earlier this month under new acting Secretary Chad Wolf, after serving as acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director. Cuccinelli, along with acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, had been one of the favorites among immigration hawks to lead the department.
But Cuccinelli is not the first Trump administration official to be harassed for his work involving enforcement of President Trump’s immigration policies.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was repeatedly heckled for her role in the administration, and was forced, last year, to cut a working dinner short at a Mexican restaurant in Washington after protesters harassed her, shouting “shame!” Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was also forced to leave a Virginia restaurant during the same time period. Those incidents took place after Trump signed an executive order to stop the administration’s controversial family separation policy.
The president has repeatedly said that the administration has no plans to reinstate that policy and has sought to place blame on former President Barack Obama instead.
“Obama separated the children, just so you understand. President Obama separated the children,” Trump said in April. “The cages that were shown, very inappropriate, they were built by President Obama and the Obama administration –not by Trump.”
He added: “The press knows it, you know it, we all know it. I’m the one that stopped it.”
Initial images of cages with children inside that spread on social media last year indeed were from the Obama administration. The photos, taken in 2014 by The Associated Press, were wrongly described as illustrating imprisonment under the Trump administration.
But while family separations happened under Obama, it became more widespread during the border crisis that occurred during the early part of the Trump administration.
U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the intelligence and law enforcement communities’ handling of the Russia probe is quietly but steadily expanding under the shadow of the high-profile House impeachment inquiry against President Trump—and could represent something of a wild card in the president’s attempts to fight back.
Attorney General Bill Barr appointed Durham, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut, to ensure intelligence collection activities by the U.S. government related to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign were “lawful and appropriate.”
His probe reportedly will soon focus on the roles of key Obama administration intelligence officials like John Brennan and James Clapper. And it converges with other simultaneous investigations, including Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s probe of alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, which, coupled together, could give the president ammunition to attack his critics, even if the material does not directly relate to the Ukraine controversy fueling the impeachment push.
“If the rumors are true that IG Horowitz’s report and findings in Durham’s review will blast the conduct of the FBI’s Russia investigation, it will give Trump a lot of ammo to support his argument that he was unjustly targeted then and is being unjustly targeted now,” a House GOP source told Fox News on Tuesday. “It will justify Trump’s warnings about the Deep State acting to hobble his presidency.”
Trump claimed Tuesday that the impeachment push amounted to a “lynching” — which touched off a round of fiery condemnation from Democratic critics.
“The president should not compare a constitutionally mandated impeachment inquiry to such a dangerous and dark chapter in American history,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters.
But as Trump and Democrats loudly clash over the probe, Durham has pressed forward quietly with an investigation that could ding the reputations of some of Trump’s biggest critics.
Durham was appointed to review the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and through Trump’s January 20, 2017 inauguration. But Fox News has learned that he’s since expanded his investigation to cover a post-election timeline spanning the spring of 2017—when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel.
Durham is “gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, who also acknowledged that Trump has helped to facilitate communications for Barr and Durham with foreign powers.
“At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” Kupec said last month.
Barr and Durham have already traveled to Italy to speak with law enforcement officials, and have also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the probe, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.
Durham also has reportedly expressed interest in interviewing several current and former intelligence officials. Former CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News that Durham plans to interview him and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
A spokesman for Clapper did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Meanwhile, Horowitz is expected to release his long-awaited review of alleged FISA abuses by the Department of Justice and the FBI during the Russia investigation—there has been speculation that his report could drop any day.
Horowitz, for more than a year and a half, has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Justice Department and FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump campaign official that the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.
Horowitz’s highly anticipated findings could spark new congressional investigations and deliver critical information to Durham’s probe.
Horowitz has been probing how the salacious anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016, as well as three renewals. Horowitz also has looked into why the FBI may have regarded Steele – funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie – a credible source, and why the bureau used news reports to bolster Steele’s credibility before the FISA court.
“As soon as Horowitz is done with his review of the FISA warrant application, the counterintelligence investigation, the Trump campaign, we’ll have a hearing in public with Horowitz and we’ll call a bunch of witnesses,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox Business Network’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Graham has vowed to probe alleged FISA abuses at the start of the Russia investigation, saying earlier this year that his Senate committee would look for answers on how much money the Democrats paid research firm Fusion GPS to commission the dossier compiled by Steele, or if the contents of the dossier have been verified.
It is unclear if Graham, amid the House impeachment inquiry, has begun this investigation. But Graham has said that he could call on Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former FBI Director James Comey to appear before his panel.
The president and his allies are already touting the progress being made by Durham, and are hoping Horowitz’s report will provide new fodder to counter impeachment talk.
“Democrats are afraid that the reports will validate what the president has been saying for years—his enemies in Congress are so desperate to undo the results of the 2016 election that they will manufacture conspiracies and sell them to the American people,” a senior Republican aide told Fox News on Tuesday.
Trump has the authority to declassify and release as much of the report as he wants, and has been hyping its forthcoming release.
“I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe, the level of corruption—whether it’s [James] Comey; whether it’s [Peter] Strzok and his lover, [Lisa] Page; whether it’s so many other people—[Andrew] McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself,” Trump told reporters last week.
“Let’s see whether or not it’s President Obama. Let’s see whether or not they put that in,” he added.
The president has sought to shift focus on the current impeachment inquiry in the House to potential misconduct that could be found in these ongoing investigations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the formal process last month, following revelations surrounding the president’s summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he pressed for politically charged investigations.
As detailed in a whistleblower complaint and transcript of the call, Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over their dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why the elder Biden pressured the former Ukrainian president to fire a top prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas firm where Hunter sat on the board.
The president’s request also came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, something critics have cited as evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement. The White House and the president’s allies have denied a quid pro quo — though Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to say otherwise, before walking it back — and the Bidens have maintained that they did “nothing wrong.”
The fired prosecutor at the center of the Ukraine controversy said during a private interview with President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani earlier this year that he was told to back off an investigation involving a natural gas firm that was linked to Joe Biden’s son, according to details of that interview that were handed over to Congress by the State Department’s inspector general Wednesday.
Fox News obtained a copy of Giuliani’s notes from his January 2019 interview with fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in which he claimed that his “investigations stopped out of fear of the United States.”
“Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,” the notes from the interview stated. The notes also claimed Shokin was told Biden had held up U.S. aid to Ukraine over the investigation.The fired prosecutor at the center of the Ukraine controversy said during a private interview with President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani earlier this year that he was told to back off an investigation involving a natural gas firm that was linked to Joe Biden’s son, according to details of that interview that were handed over to Congress by the State Department’s inspector general Wednesday.
Fox News obtained a copy of Giuliani’s notes from his January 2019 interview with fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in which he claimed that his “investigations stopped out of fear of the United States.”
“Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,” the notes from the interview stated. The notes also claimed Shokin was told Biden had held up U.S. aid to Ukraine over the investigation.
Shokin was fired in April 2016, and his case was “closed by the current Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko,” according to the notes. Despite his claims, Shokin, on both sides of the Atlantic, had been widely accused of corruption.
But Biden’s role is back in the spotlight after Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry over Trump’s efforts to convince Ukraine to look into Biden’s actions.
Biden, who has been seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020, once famously boasted on camera that when he was vice president and spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin who was the top prosecutor at the time. He had been investigating the founder of Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden had a lucrative role on the board.
Allies of the Democrat, though, maintained that his intervention prompting the firing of Shokin had nothing to do with his son, but rather was tied to the corruption concerns. The Biden campaign has also slammed Giuliani and blasted media outlets for giving him air time. The campaign wrote to NBC News, CBS News, Fox News and CNN to voice “grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump.”
“The substance of President Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s claims has been roundly discredited,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said last week. “This is not a claim from the campaign or Joe Biden. This is an irrefutable fact.”
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that by the time of Biden’s intervention, the Burisma probe had been dormant.
However, Shokin, at the time, according to the interview, was investigating Mykola Zlochevsky, the former minister of ecology and natural resources of Ukraine — also the founder of Burisma. Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of the firm, which Shokin claimed was an appointment made by Zlochevsky “in order to protect himself.”
The interview purportedly conducted by Giuliani took place on Jan. 23, 2019 at an office on Park Avenue in New York City. Shokin was interviewed over the phone, and interpreters were used — one in Ukraine and one in New York, according to the notes obtained by Fox News.
In a statement to Fox News after this report was first published, Giuliani said the details were gathered before Biden announced his presidential run and the allegations were brought to him.
“I explored them as part of my duty as an attorney to show that the crimes committed, were not by my client, but by Democrats. I was not seeking to investigate Joe Biden. I was not investigating Joe Biden,” Giuliani said.
He also confirmed that he brought the documents to the State Department, saying that he was disappointed they had not been investigated.
“Maybe they will now,” he said.
The new documents were shared with Fox News by sources familiar with the “urgent” briefing held by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Wednesday.
Linick gave a closed-door briefing on Ukraine to aides from the Senate committees on Intelligence, Foreign Relations, Appropriations and Homeland Security, as well as aides from the House committees on Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Appropriations and Oversight. The briefing lasted over an hour and took place in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.
Linick shared a file with those who attended the briefing, containing multiple folders with the Trump Hotel logo on them. Inside the folders were notes from an interview conducted by Giuliani in January 2019 with Shokin, as well as Lutsenko. Another folder contained news clips, as well as several timelines about investigations related to Burisma.
A State Department spokesman on Wednesday confirmed to Fox News that the “relevant” materials Linick shared with Congress “were provided by the Department to the Inspector General on May 3, 2019 for his review and for such action as the Inspector General deemed appropriate.”
Linick told aides in the meeting that he received the package of information in the spring but did not know the sender. Linick sent it to the FBI because it included allegations of improper activities in Ukraine that were outside of his jurisdiction, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Last week, though, Linick was given permission by the FBI to share the files with Congress and said they were relevant to the congressional interviews being conducted, according to sources.
The documents came amid the uproar surrounding Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he sought an investigation into Biden’s Ukraine dealings, as well as his son’s. That phone call sparked a formal impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives and had the Trump administration facing a new round of subpoenas.
Amid the rapidly moving impeachment inquiry being led by House Democrats, the details included in the folder turned over by the State Department inspector general could be used by the Trump administration to fuel its claim that the real scandal surrounded the Bidens. However, Democrats already have cast the files as “debunked conspiracy theories” and “propaganda.”
“The briefing and documents raise troubling questions about apparent efforts inside and outside the Trump Administration to target specific officials, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Masha Yovanovitch, who was abruptly removed as Ambassador in May after a sustained campaign against her by the President’s agent, Rudy Giuliani,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a statement late Wednesday.
“The documents provided by the inspector general included a package of disinformation, debunked conspiracy theories, and baseless allegations in an envelope marked ‘White House’ and containing folders labeled ‘Trump Hotel.’ These documents also reinforce concern that the president and his allies sought to use the machinery of the State Department to further the president’s personal political interests.”
Meanwhile, the sources also shared pages of the Shokin interview with Fox News which revealed that in February 2016, prior to his firing, there were warrants placed on the accounts of “multiple people in Ukraine.”
“There were requests for information on Hunter Biden to which nothing was received,” Shokin said, according to the notes. “It is believed that Hunter Biden receives a salary, commission plus one million dollars. There were no documents or information on Hunter Biden, and Mr. Shokin stated he was warned to stop by Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt.”
The notes add that “President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko told Mr. Shokin not to investigate Burisma as it was not in the interest of Joe and/or Hunter Biden. Mr. Shokin was called into Mr. Poroshenko’s office and told that the investigation into Burisma and the Managing Director where Hunter Biden is on the board, has caused Joe Biden to hold up one billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine.”
Shokin then told Giuliani, according to the notes, that “in or around April of 2016” Poroshenko “told him he had to be fired as the aid to the Ukraine was being withheld by Joe Biden.”
Biden reportedly threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.
Shokin also claimed, according to the notes, that Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch denied him visa travel to the U.S., and claimed it was because “she is close to Mr. Biden.”
Meanwhile, Trump is facing a rapidly escalating House investigation after an intelligence community whistleblower filed a complaint regarding his call with Zelensky, claiming he had solicited a foreign power to help influence the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats have claimed that the Trump-Zelensky call revealed a quid pro quo, saying Trump tied his request to investigate the Bidens to military aid. Trump reportedly even ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine a few days before the phone call with Zelensky, a detail that fueled impeachment calls. However, the call transcript did not show Trump explicitly mentioning the aid as a bargaining chip.
As part of the impeachment inquiry, House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for key documents related to the Ukraine controversy. They also have subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and are expected to receive depositions from nearly half a dozen State Department officials named in the whistleblower complaint.
One source told Fox News that prior to the “urgent” briefing Wednesday, it was reported that Linick would discuss alleged retaliation against those State Department officials ahead of their depositions, but the source told Fox News that Linick said that there had been no complaints of retaliation filed with his office.
Reaction and analysis from Republican strategist Ned Ryun on ‘Fox & Friends First.’
President Trump’s campaign operation raised a whopping $24.8 million in less than 24 hours amid his 2020 re-election launch in Florida on Tuesday — a figure that blows past what any of the Democratic candidates raised in the entire first quarter.
“@realDonaldTrump has raised a record breaking $24.8M in less than 24 hours for his re-election. The enthusiasm across the country for this President is unmatched and unlike anything we’ve ever seen! #trump2020 #KeepAmericaGreat,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted early Wednesday morning.
According to an RNC spokesman, the fundraising — at a clip of $1 million an hour — came through the Trump re-election campaign and joint-fundraising committees Trump Victory and Trump MAGAC (Make America Great Again Committee). A Trump campaign official told Fox News on Wednesday that the campaign raised more than $14 million, and that the joint-fundraising committees raised more than $10 million.
Ahrens was referring to the top five polling Democratic candidates’ fundraising during the 24 hours after they announced their presidential bids. Among them, former Vice President Joe Biden raked in $6.3 million and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., brought in $5.9 million, with the others raising significantly less than that.
But none of the candidates hit $20 million even in the first quarter.
Sanders brought in $18.2 million in the first 41 days of his campaign; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., brought in $12 million during the first three months of this year; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas raised $9.4 million; and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised $7.1 million.
Democratic presidential primary front-runner Biden, who announced after the first quarter, hinted this week at raising roughly $20 million so far, as he tours the fundraising circuit with a series of top-dollar events.
But the Trump campaign re-launch surpassed that in 24 hours, counting various fundraising committees, coinciding with his energetic rally in Orlando to a packed arena crowd.
The fundraising numbers underscore what has, since before the Democratic candidates even started campaigning, been a huge cash advantage for the incumbent. Going into Trump’s rally on Tuesday, the re-election campaign had $40.8 million in cash-on-hand at the start of second-quarter fundraising on April 1. Combined with the RNC’s joint fundraising committees, they have a combined $82 million cash-on-hand for the second quarter.
But despite Trump’s massive war chest, the latest Fox News Poll shows Biden topping the president by 10 points and Sanders ahead of the president by 9 points.
But Trump’s campaign and the president himself have dismissed recent polling.
“Our country is soaring to incredible new heights,” Trump said Tuesday night, to loud applause. “Our economy is the envy of the world, perhaps the greatest economy we’ve had in the history of our country, and as long as you keep this team in place — we have a tremendous way to go — our future has never, ever looked brighter or sharper.”
Trump continued: “The fact is, the American Dream is back. It’s bigger, and better, and stronger than ever before.”
Fox News’ Blake Burman and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
In the days since the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress, more and more Democratic lawmakers have opened the door to the possibility of arresting the Justice Department leader in a bid to force cooperation — despite party powerbrokers signaling opposition to such a radical step.
The committee last week voted to hold Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report and underlying materials, as President Trump asserted executive privilege to protect those same files from release.
The panel’s party-line decision sent the measure to the House floor for a final vote. If approved, the measure would be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia—who could choose not to act. House Democrats could also pursue a lawsuit.
But there’s a more drastic step that has been gaining traction among some of Barr’s fiercest critics — the possibility of dragging Barr in to testify or jailing the AG for defying the subpoena.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., was one of the first calling for the House to pursue “inherent contempt,” which would have Barr arrested by the sergeant at arms—a tactic reportedly not employed since the 1930s.
Several other lawmakers are now warming to the idea.
“We know how to arrest people around here,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Politico. “And if we need to arrest someone, the [House] sergeant-at-arms will know how to do it. I’m not afraid of that.”
He added: “If they can arrest my constituents, we can arrest someone else who’s disobeying the law.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., also touted Congress’ “inherent authority,” which she said was “at our disposal.”
“We have a number of steps we’re looking at that we can take,” Jayapal told Politico. “People feel like we’re progressing at the appropriate pace.”
But despite rank-and-file Democrats calling for the arrest of Barr, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., seems cool to the idea. Last week, she pushed back when asked about the potential step.
“We do have a jail in the basement of the Capitol, but if we were arresting all of the people in the administration, we would have an overcrowded jail situation,” she said. “And I’m not for that.”
Inherent contempt is one of three contempt options available, along with criminal contempt (under which an individual is charged with a crime) and civil judgment (leading to a civil court process).
And while inherent contempt has not been used in decades, some lawmakers suggest it’s appropriate to consider in this situation.
“There’s a reason why we don’t do it, but there’s a reason why we haven’t had to even talk about it,” Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., told Politico. “Because we’ve had administrations that have negotiated in good faith and tried to work for the good of the American people rather than the good of a particular incumbent.”
Last week, Cohen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Barr needs to be “locked up until he agrees to participate” and come to a hearing before the committee.
Several op-eds, including one by former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, also supported such a move.
Many Democrats including Pelosi are also claiming that Barr lied to Congress.
“He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi told reporters last month. “Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States. Not the attorney general.
Pelosi’s public comments came after she, according to Politico, told Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., during a private caucus meeting Thursday: “We saw [Barr] commit a crime when he answered your question.”
She was referring to an April 9 hearing, where Crist had asked whether Barr knew what prompted reports that prosecutors on the special counsel team were frustrated with his initial summary. Barr said he did not.
But earlier this month, The Washington Post first reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller contacted Barr, both in a letter and in a phone call, to express concerns after Barr released his four-page summary of Mueller’s findings in March. Mueller pushed Barr to release the executive summaries written by the special counsel’s office. However, according to both the Post and the Justice Department, Mueller made clear that he did not feel that Barr’s summary was inaccurate. Instead, Mueller told Barr that media coverage of the letter had “misinterpreted” the results of the probe concerning obstruction of justice.
Pelosi was also asked if Barr should go to jail for the alleged crime.
“There is a process involved here and as I said, I’ll say it again, the committee will have to come to how we will proceed,” Pelosi said.
“Speaker Pelosi’s baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible and false,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in response.
Democrats have blasted Barr for weeks over his handling of the special counsel’s report. Barr initially released a four-page summary of Mueller’s findings, announcing in late March that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice, but Barr said the evidence was not sufficient to charge the president with such an offense.
While Democrats have criticized Barr for that swift conclusion, they have sought the completely unredacted version of the report in a bid to learn more about what information Mueller gathered regarding the obstruction probe. The report released publicly last month had redactions covering sensitive sources and methods, grand jury material, and other areas to protect the reputational interests of “peripheral players” in the investigation.
Barr and his deputies, however, have countered that they’ve made available to select members a version with minimal redactions — and Democrats have declined to look at it.
Former DHS public affairs deputy assistant secretary Lauren Claffey weighs in on the crisis at the border.
President Trump responded to reports Friday that his administration proposed releasing immigrant detainees in sanctuary cities by not only confirming the plan but saying it remains under “strong” consideration.
Further, the president tweeted that relocating illegal immigrants to these districts should make the “Radical Left” happy.
The comments came after The Washington Post first reported that the White House proposed sending the detainees to sanctuary cities twice in the last six months. The proposal was first floated in November amid reports of a large migrant caravan from Central America making its way to the southern border. The idea was again considered in February, amid the standoff with Congress over a border wall.
The Post said the plan was shot down both times. But on Friday, Trump signaled the proposal isn’t dead.
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted.
“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy—so this should make them very happy!” he continued.
Trump repeated the remarks later at the White House: “We can give them an unlimited supply…let’s see if they have open arms.”
The president doubled down as Democrats fumed over the relocation idea.
“The extent of this Administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said in a statement Friday. “Using human beings—including little children—as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal.”
She added: “The American people have resoundingly rejected this Administration’s toxic anti-immigrant policies, and Democrats will continue to advance immigration policies that keep us safe and honor our values.”
Pelosi’s district—San Francisco—was among the sanctuary cities the administration considered sending detainees to.
White House officials, though, stressed earlier Friday that the plan never went anywhere. A source familiar with discussions told Fox News that Democrats who advocate leniency toward illegal immigrants should work with the administration to find ways to transport those set for release, including in their states and districts.
The proposal was apparently rejected both times it came up by administration immigration agencies.
A Nov. 16 email from the White House to officials at several agencies reportedly asked whether migrants could be arrested and bused to “small-and mid-sized sanctuary cities” and other Democratic strongholds.
The proposal was intended to alleviate crowded detention centers, the White House told Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The same report said “the attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE.” An ICE official responded, noting that there were budgetary and liability issues, but also said “there are PR risks as well.”
The source familiar with the discussions argued, however, that the White House did not view this as political retribution.
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House told The Post.
In a statement, Deputy ICE Director Matt Albence also pushed back and said he was not pressured by the White House – though indicated such a proposal was put forward.
“As the Acting Deputy I was not pressured by anyone at the White House on this issue. I was asked my opinion and provided it and my advice was heeded. The email exchange is clear and suggesting that it indicates inappropriate pressure is inaccurate,” he said.
It is unclear, at this point, whether immigration agencies would now support the proposal.
Trump has repeatedly blasted sanctuary cities, which are areas where local authorities refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agencies. The cities are typically run by Democrats.
The president was also hit this week with questions over the administration’s past family separation policy at the border. Trump said they have no plans to revive the policy, amid renewed speculation about whether the practice could return amid a shake-up in staffing at the Department of Homeland Security including the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Kevin McAleenan, who was serving as CBP commissioner, is replacing her as acting secretary.
Nielsen’s resignation comes amid an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Nielsen was reportedly frustrated with the difficulty of getting other departments to help deal with the growing number of families crossing the border. But administration officials told Fox News that McAleenan best fits Trump’s requirement of being the “toughest cop” on the frontier, and that Nielsen had been viewed as resistant to some of the immigration measures pushed by the president and his aides.
By Tuesday, DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady also resigned.
And on Wednesday, Nielsen announced that ICE Acting Director Ron Vitiello would be stepping down by the end of the week.
Fox News’ Kristin Brown, Matt Leach, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.
Michael Cohen sued the Trump Organization in New York Supreme Court on Thursday for millions of dollars in legal fees and costs, claiming the company must pay him for “matters arising” from his work for the company — including “multiple congressional hearings” and costs related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Cohen, who is slated to report to prison to serve three years in May, worked for the organization for more than a decade as an attorney. In his suit, he claimed the company violated an agreement that it would compensate him for his work related to the organization and its officers.
“As is common practice in most corporations, the Trump Organization agreed to indemnify me for legal fees and costs incurred in connection with my employment there. When it was publicly reported that I might be cooperating with prosecutors, the Trump Organization breached its agreement and stopped paying fees and costs. My counsel contacted the Trump Organization and asked them to fulfill their obligations to me. They did not respond, so we filed this lawsuit and will pursue it vigorously,” Cohen said in a statement.
“This action arises from the Trump Organization’s failure to meet its indemnification obligations under a contractual agreement between the Trump Organization and Mr. Cohen, pursuant to which the Trump Organization agreed to indemnify Mr. Cohen and to pay attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by Mr. Cohen in connection with various matters arising from Mr. Cohen’s work with and on behalf of the Organization and its principals, directors, and officers,” Cohen’s attorneys wrote in a court filing Thursday. “These matters included multiple congressional hearings, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and others.”
They added that Cohen has “incurred millions of dollars in unreimbursed attorneys’ fees and costs” in addition to other amounts, which he “continues to incur … in connection with various ongoing investigations and litigation.”
The lawsuit comes as Cohen, on the heels of his explosive testimony to Congress last week, prepares to report to prison for his sentence related to bank and tax fraud charges, campaign-finance violations and more.
Cohen’s attorneys claimed that the Trump Organization initially honored its agreement through at least May of 2018. According to the court filing, by Jan. 25, 2019, Cohen’s balance of unreimbursed attorneys’ fees and other costs incurred in connection with Cohen’s work “exceeded $1.9 million.” Cohen’s attorneys said he continues to accrue legal fees and costs.
Cohen’s suit comes as he also faces scrutiny over inconsistencies in his testimony before the House Oversight Committee last week. Republicans on the committee have accused Cohen of “perjury” for a number of allegedly inaccurate statements before the panel and have referred his testimony for a Justice Department review.
Cohen began working for the Trump Organization in 2006, and was Trump’s self-described “fixer.”
As of last week, Cohen was disbarred in New York.
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.