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George Kent, a career official at the State Department, told House investigators conducting the impeachment inquiry against President Trump that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s lucrative service on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company — but was told that it wasn’t appropriate to discuss the matter because of the health struggles of Biden’s eldest son, Beau.

According to a transcript of his Oct. 15 closed-door deposition released Thursday, Kent confirmed that he had no “direct knowledge” that U.S. aid to Ukraine was ever connected to the opening of a new investigation against the Bidens concerning their business dealings there.

Kent said that in January or February 2015, he “became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board” of Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings while his father Joe Biden was overseeing Ukraine policy as vice president.

“I did not know that at the time,” Kent testified. “And when I was on a call with somebody on the vice president’s staff and I cannot recall who it was, just briefing on what was happening into Ukraine, I raised my concerns that I had heard that Hunter Biden was on the board of a company owned by somebody that the U.S. Government had spent money trying to get tens of millions of dollars back, and that could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”

After discussing those concerns with Biden’s staff, Kent testified, “The message that I recall hearing back was that the Vice President’s son Beau was dying of cancer and that there was no further bandwidth to deal with family-related issues at that time.”

Kent, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and was defying the State Department’s instruction that he not testify, additionally confirmed that “nobody in the Ukrainian Government became aware of a hold on military aid” until Aug. 29th — a month after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Democrats have alleged Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed to investigate the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine, although Zelensky has said he felt no such pressure.

Kent testified that to the best of his knowledge, the aid issue was ultimately “resolved by the president,” and U.S. military aid was released to Ukraine in September. However, there was a period when Ukraine was on notice that the aid was suspended: Politico reported in August that the Ukraine aid was being held up — two weeks before it was released.

Kent further acknowledged that it is appropriate for the Trump administration to “look at the level of corruption” in foreign countries when determining whether to provide, or withhold financial assistance. Speaking to Zelensky, Trump noted Ukraine’s history of corruption and urged his counterpart to probe any potential election interference efforts originating from the country.

“Part of our foreign assistance was specifically focused to try to limit and reduce corruption,” Kent said. “And we also tried, to the best of our knowledge and abilities, to do due diligence to make sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent for the purposes that they were appropriated and that they are as effective as they can be.”

Fox News is told the GOP will likely focus on the fact that Kent testified he was getting second-hand information from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman regarding concerns about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader. Republicans are expected to argue that while Vindman expressed reservations about the July call, Kent was giving House investigators nothing more than his own interpretation of how Vindham perceived the conversation.

Republicans are also focusing on how Kent was evidently upset about being pushed to the side on Ukraine policy, and arguing that while there may have been “irregular channels” for diplomacy, such an arrangement is not an impeachable offense.

During his deposition, Kent asserted that he was told to “lay low” on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels.

He claimed was told by a Ukrainian official that Giuliani had conspired with Yuriy Lutsenko, the then-prosecutor general of Ukraine, to “throw mud” as part of a “campaign of slander” against former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

“Well, Mr. Giuliani was almost unmissable starting in mid-March,” Kent told investigators. “As the news campaign, or campaign of slander against, not only Ambassador Yovanovitch unfolded, he had a very high a media promise, so he was on TV, his Twitter feed ramped up and it was all focused on Ukraine.”

High-level Ukrainians, Kent asserted, wanted “revenge” against the diplomat. Yovanovitch, recalling her termination as Ukraine’s diplomat, choked up during a closed-door hearing last month.

“Based on what I know, Yuriy Lutsenko, as prosecutor general, vowed revenge, and provided information to Rudy Giuliani in hopes that he would spread it and lead to her removal,” Kent testified. “I believe that was the rationale for Yuriy Lutsenko doing what he did. Separately, there are individuals that I mentioned before, including Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who started reaching out actively to undermine Ambassador Yovanovitch, starting in 2018 with a meeting with former Congressman Pete Sessions on May 9th, 2018, the same day he wrote a letter to Secretary Pompeo impugning Ambassador Yovanovitch’s loyalty and suggesting that she be removed.”

Kent added: “And others also in 2018 were engaged in an effort to undermine her standing by claiming that she was disloyal. So that’s the early roots of people following their own agendas and using her as an instrument to fulfill those agendas.”

Yovanovitch was recalled from her post in May, and Trump told Ukraine’s leader in July that she was “bad news” and would “go through some things.” Yovanovitch has separately told House investigators that “people with clearly questionable motives” tried to get rid of her, and that she was “shocked” by Trump’s actions concerning Ukraine.

Kent, Yovanovitch and diplomat William Taylor are expected to appear in the public sessions as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Concerning Talyor, Kent testified that “he told me he indicated to [U.S. envoy to the EU] Gordon [Sondland], he said, This is wrong. That’s what I recall him saying to me, again, orally reading out of a conversation of which I was not a part. And Gordon had told him, Tim [Morrison], and Tim told Bill Taylor, that he, Gordon, had talked to the President, POTUS in sort of shorthand, and POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelenskyy to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.”

Kent said he told diplomat Kurt Volker that “asking another country to investigate a prosecution for political reasons undermines our advocacy of the rule of law.”

On Wednesday released a transcript of testimony from Taylor’s closed-door deposition, in which he claimed to have a “clear understanding” that Trump wanted to leverage military aid to Ukraine in return for investigations that could benefit him politically — while acknowledging that, like Kent, he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of “what was in the president’s mind.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, returns to a secure area after speaking to reporters after witnesses defied a subpoena to appear before House impeachment investigators following President Donald Trump’s orders not to cooperate with the probe, in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. John Eisenberg, the lead lawyer for the National Security Council, and National Security Council aide Michael Ellis, were scheduled to testify early Monday but not appear. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said.

Taylor is a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who has emerged as a key figure of interest in the Trump impeachment inquiry, having alleged a quid pro quo was at play despite White House denials.

The transcript shows that Taylor testified he had been told by other officials that the White House was willing to hold up both military aid and a prospective White House meeting with Ukraine’s president to extract a public announcement from Kiev that probes related to election interference and Burisma Holdings were underway.

FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent leaves Capitol Hill after appearing before a joint House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee on Oversight and Reform for a deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington. House impeachment investigators released a transcript from Kent, a career official at the State Department on Nov. 7. He testified that he was told to “lay low” on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

“That’s what Ambassador Sondland said,” Taylor said, referring to E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland. “He said that they were linked. They were linked.”

But Republicans have pushed back that Taylor did not have primary knowledge regarding the key events in question, but rather based his testimony off conversations with others.

In one exchange between GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin and Taylor during his deposition, Taylor was asked whether he had any firsthand knowledge of Trump conditioning an investigation into the 2016 election and the Bidens on military aid.

Taylor said he did not speak to the president, or have any direct communication with the president regarding the requests for investigations. Instead, he said he was basing much of his testimony on what former United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and Sondland told him.

“What I know is what Ambassador Sondland was able to tell me about those investigations and Ambassador Volker,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what was in the president’s mind.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: State Dept. official flagged Hunter Biden’s ‘conflict of interest’ in Ukraine, testimony shows

A federal judge in Kentucky on Monday partially reopened Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann’s $250 million defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post, which the same judge dismissed in July.

The new ruling, by District Judge William O. Bertelsman, is based on an amended complaint filed by Sandmann’s legal team. The decision permitted Sandmann to obtain documents from The Post during an upcoming discovery process, as his lawyers have sought to argue that the paper negligently covered Sandmann’s interactions with a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, while the student wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat and stood outside the Lincoln Memorial in January.

“The ruling bodes well for the NBC and CNN cases, as well,” Todd V. McMurtry, one of the lawyers for the Sandmann family, tweeted, referring to other outstanding lawsuits concerning those outlets’ coverage of the episode.

The Post did not immediately comment.

Sandmann was one of a group of Covington students from Park Hills, Ky., attending an anti-abortion March for Life in Washington, D.C. Phillips was attending the Indigenous Peoples’ March on the same day.

Videos documenting Sandmann’s encounter with Phillips went viral — including some clips that did not show the full incident. Incomplete video clips posted online prompted widespread accusations that Sandmann was a racist who had approached Phillips and mocked him; the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School quickly condemned Sandmann’s behavior and vowed discipline.

Within days, though, more complete footage from the day showed several members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, a fringe religious group, heckling Sandmann and his classmates with homophobic and racist language.

Then, Philips could be seen approaching Sandmann and banging a drum just inches from his face, while Sandmann stared ahead.

Judge Bertelsman’s ruling specifically concerned reporting by The Post, citing claims by Phillips that Sandmann had “blocked” him and “would not allow him to retreat.”

The judge ruled that an amended complaint submitted by Sandmann’s attorneys “alleged in greater detail than the original complaint that Phillips deliberately lied concerning the events at issue, and that Phillips had “an unsavory reputation which, but for the defendant’s negligence or malice, would have alerted defendant to this fact.”

This Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image shows Nicholas Sandmann staring at Nathan Phillipps, the Native American man who approached him banging a drum. (Survival Media Agency via AP)

The judge noted that the new complaint “also alleges that [Sandmann] could be identified as the subject of [Phillips’ statements] by reason of certain photographs of [Sandmann] and the videos” of the episode.

In a 36-page ruling in July that dismissed all of Sandmann’s claims based on his initial complaint, Judge Bertelsman said that The Post never mentioned Sandmann by name in its initial coverage of the incident, referring only to groups of “hat-wearing teens.” The judge maintained that “the words used contain no reflection upon any particular individual” and thus could not be constituted as defamation.

Thirty other statements reported by The Post that Sandmann alleged to have been defamatory are not covered by the reconsidered ruling, and they remained dismissed.

“Nicholas Sandmann deserves his day in court against WaPo. Now he will get it.”

— Sandmann attorney Lin Wood

The lawsuit had also claimed The Post falsely labeled Sandmann a racist by publishing articles that “falsely accused Nicholas of … ‘accost[ing]’ Phillips by ‘suddenly swarm[ing]’ him in a ‘threaten[ing]’ and ‘physically intimidat[ing]’ manner … ‘taunting the dispersing indigenous crowd,’ [and] chanting, ‘Build that wall,’ ‘Trump2020,’ or ‘Go back to Africa.'” (The judge ruled that the newspaper used language that was “loose, figurative,” and “rhetorical hyperbole” which is protected by the First Amendment.)

But, Judge Bertelsman said in his new ruling, discovery should be undertaken concerning the “context” of the claims that Sandmann had blocked Phillipps. After discovery, the judge could make a summary-judgment ruling — or send the case to trial.

In a statement to The Washington Times, McMurty said the ruling “preserves the heart of Nicholas Sandmann’s claims.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Judge reopens Covington Catholic High student’s defamation suit against Washington Post

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after meeting with the House Democratic caucus on Tuesday that there will be no vote — at least for now — on the launch of formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi said. “We’re not here to call bluffs — we’re here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious.”

The move was seemingly a boon for moderate Democrats in swing districts, who have been reluctant to have a formal vote in favor of the proceedings as the 2020 elections approach — even as several of them have also sought to appease liberal constituents by vocally backing the ongoing inquiry.

A congressional aide familiar with House Democrats’ discussions told Fox News that many House Democrats did not want to be seen as letting the White House dictate how the House conducted itself. Last week, the White House sent a fiery letter to House Democrats announcing that it would not cooperate with their inquiry, for several reasons — including that, contrary to past precedent, no formal vote had been held on whether to begin impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi ripped those arguments: “They have no substance. They can’t defend the president, so they’re going to process,” she said.

In a head-turning moment, Pelosi told reporters, “All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president” — even though Democrats began their probe because of the president’s actions concerning Ukraine, not Russia.

Pelosi last month unilaterally held a news conference announcing that impeachment proceedings were in progress. House rules do not require a vote to begin an impeachment inquiry, but it remains unclear whether the courts will agree that an impeachment inquiry has begun without such a vote. If courts do not find that a formal inquiry is in progress, they could curtail Democrats’ evidence-gathering efforts.

However, the House speaker heralded a series of recent court victories by Democrats, including a key win in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that reaffirmed congressional authority to subpoena several years of Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm, Mazars.

“The rulings that we won last week — three of them were against the president’s hateful public charge rule from taking effect,” Pelosi said, referring to the administration’s immigration policy. “A ruling against the president’s sham national emergency declaration to build his wasteful border wall. A ruling in the Mazars case led by [House Oversight Committee] Chairman [Elijah] Cummings. … so again, five victories on Friday, one today, in terms of Emoluments.”

Separately at the press conference on Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., accused the White House of “stonewalling” despite those rulings.

“Were it not for the fact that at least some witnesses have given us documents, we would not know there is a paper record of efforts to condition this meeting, and perhaps condition military support itself, on these political investigations Donald Trump wanted,” Schiff said, referring to Trump’s fateful July call with Ukraine’s leader. “Those documents would have been completely bottled up by the State Department. … The evidence of obstruction of Congress continues to mount.”

Schiff said the Office of Management and Budget has refused to provide evidence concerning whether the Trump administration withheld aid to Ukraine, contingent on the country conducting an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden’s business dealings there.

“The Constitution is clear. … the House will have the sole power of impeachment,” Schiff said later, when asked why there would be no floor vote on an impeachment inquiry.

The White House has strongly suggested it will take the fight over the Democrats’ subpoenas to the Supreme Court.

“In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step,” the White House letter to Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders stated.

It continued: “Without waiting to see what was actually said on the call, a press conference was held announcing an ‘impeachment inquiry’ based on falsehoods and misinformation about the call.”

Despite Pelosi’s claim that there was no “House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” several previous impeachment inquiries have been launched only by a full vote of the House — including the impeachment proceedings concerning former Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

White House officials told Fox News the vote opening the proceedings was a small ask, considering the implications of potentially overturning a national election.

Responding to the letter, Pelosi accused Trump of “trying to make lawlessness a virtue” and added, “The American people have already heard the President’s own words – ‘do us a favor, though.’” (That line, from a transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader, in reality referred to Trump’s request for Ukraine to assist in an investigation into 2016 election interference, and did not relate to Biden.)

Pelosi continued: “This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections. … The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction. Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”

Just before Pelosi took the microphone on Tuesday, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office emphasized some of the White House’s other objections to Democrats’ inquiry.

Separately, the letter asserted multiple alleged violations of the president’s due-process rights. It noted that under current impeachment inquiry proceedings, Democrats were not allowing presidential or State Department counsel to be present.

Among the GOP’s complaints are that Democrats’ procedures did not provide for the “disclosure of all evidence favorable to the president and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses called to testify in the inquiry,” according to the White House. And “the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence, and to respond to evidence and testimony” has also been obstructed.

The White House asserted that Democrats also have not permitted Republicans in the minority to issue subpoenas, contradicting the “standard, bipartisan practice in all recent resolutions authorizing presidential impeachment inquiries.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Pelosi announces House won’t vote now on whether to begin impeachment inquiry

A Louisiana Republican congressman introduced a resolution Tuesday to expel Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., from the House of Representatives, the latest sign that frustration in the GOP is building as Democrats continue their impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Rep. Ralph Abraham’s resolution stands no realistic chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled House. Likewise, Republicans have argued that Democrats’ potential articles of impeachment are all but certain to stall if they ever reach the Senate.

“Nancy Pelosi’s vicious crusade against our lawfully-elected President is nothing more than a politically-motivated witch hunt and it must be stopped,” Abraham said in a statement. “She has disgraced the people’s House and weaponized the Speaker’s gavel for her party’s political gain.”

Abraham added: “House Democrats spent nearly three years obsessed with election meddling only to dwarf any such efforts with their own deceitful plan to nullify the 2016 election and prevent President Trump from winning in 2020. I have introduced a resolution calling for her to be expelled from the House and for the Speaker’s Office to be vacated.”

Fox News is told that the resolution has been closely held, and hasn’t secured many Republican cosponsors — but that Abraham’s office expects it to gain traction.

Abraham is running for Louisiana governor, along with fellow GOP candidate Eddie Rispone. A primary election will be held Saturday, and President Trump will visit Louisiana on Friday for a rally on behalf of both candidates as they seek to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The text of the resolution reads simply: “Resolved, That pursuant to Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, Representative Nancy Pelosi be, and she hereby is, expelled from the House of Representatives and the Office of the Speaker is declared to be vacant.”

That constitutional clause holds that “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”

The Trump administration has mirrored congressional Republicans’ aggressive approach in response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. The State Department on Tuesday barred Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, from appearing before a House panel conducting the probe.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The strategy risks further provoking Democrats in the impeachment probe, setting up court challenges and the potential for lawmakers to draw up an article of impeachment accusing Trump of obstructing their investigations. California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that Sondland’s no-show would be grounds for obstruction of justice and could give a preview of what some of the articles of impeachment against Trump would entail.

But as lawmakers seek to amass ammunition to be used in an impeachment trial, the White House increasingly believes all-out warfare is its best course of action.

“What they did to this country is unthinkable. It’s lucky that I’m the president. A lot of people said very few people could handle it. I sort of thrive on it,” Trump said Monday at the White House. “You can’t impeach a president for doing a great job. This is a scam.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham introduces resolution to expel Nancy Pelosi from House

EXCLUSIVE: A photo obtained by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” shows former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter golfing in the Hamptons with Devon Archer, who served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings with Hunter.

Earlier this month, Joe Biden told Fox News in Iowa that he never discussed his son’s foreign business dealings with him.

“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden said, pointing the finger at President Trump. “I know Trump deserves to be investigated. He is violating every basic norm of a president. You should be asking him why is he on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader. You should be looking at Trump.”

Hunter Biden told The New Yorker previously that he and his father had spoken “just once” about his work in Ukraine.

A source close to Archer told Fox News the photo was taken in August 2014. Contemporaneous news reports indicate the vice president was in the Hamptons at the time.

Hunter Biden and Archer joined the Burisma Holdings board in April 2014.

Earlier this month, Trump suggested that despite his claims, Joe Biden seemingly discussed Ukraine matters with his son. The White House has sought to point to possible corruption by the Bidens, amid the House Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry against the president.

Devon Archer, far left, with former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, far right, in 2014.

“And now, he made a lie when he said he never spoke to his son,” Trump said. “Of course you spoke to your son!”

Biden has acknowledged on camera that in spring 2016, when he was vice president, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings — where Hunter had a lucrative role on the board despite limited relevant expertise.

The vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.

“Well, son of a b—h, he got fired,” Biden joked at a panel two years after leaving office.

Shokin himself had already been widely accused of corruption.

Critics alleged Hunter Biden might have been selling access to his father, who had pushed Ukraine to increase its natural gas production.

“Impossible to justify $50k/month for Hunter Biden serving on a Ukrainian energy board w zero expertise unless he promised to sell access,” political scientist Ian Bremmer tweeted.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, on Sunday, suggested Shokin was the target of an international smear campaign to discredit his work.

In a combative interview on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Giuliani presented what he said was an affidavit signed by Shokin that confirmed Hunter Biden was being investigated when Shokin was fired.

“I have an affidavit here that’s been online for six months that nobody bothered to read from the gentleman who was fired, Viktor Shokin, the so-called corrupt prosecutor,” Giuliani said. “The Biden people say that he wasn’t investigating Hunter Biden at the time. He says under oath that he was.” The Shokin affidavit purportedly said the U.S. had pressured him into resigning because he was unwilling to drop the case.

Later, Giuliani added: “I have another affidavit, this time from another Ukrainian prosecutor who says that the day after Biden strong-armed the president to remove Shokin, they show up in the prosecutor’s office — lawyers for Hunter Biden show up in the prosecutor’s office and they give an apology for dissemination of false information.”

After anchor George Stephanopoulos expressed skepticism, Giuliani fired back: “How about if I — how about if I tell you over the next week four more of these will come out from four other prosecutors? … No, no, no, George, they won’t be [investigated], because they’ve been online for six months, and the Washington press will not accept the fact that Joe Biden might have done something like this.”

Speaking separately to Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Giuliani brought up the affidavits and called the situation Clintonesque.

“The pattern is a pattern of pay for play. It includes something very similar to what happened to the Clinton Foundation,” Giuliani said, “which goes to the very core of, what did Obama know and when did he know it?”

Giuliani referred to a December 2015 New York Times article about Hunter Biden, Burisma and a Ukrainian oligarch, and how the younger Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian company could undermine then-Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption message.

“The question is,” Giuliani asked, “when Biden and Obama saw that article, about how the son was pulling down money from the most crooked oligarch in Russia, did Obama call Biden in and say, ‘Joe, how could you be doing this?'”

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” producer Alex Pfeiffer contributed to this report.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Joe, Hunter Biden seen golfing with Ukraine gas company exec back in 2014, photo shows

President Trump issued a full-throated call for resignations and changes in management at The New York Times during a fiery rally in Democratic-leaning New Mexico on Monday night, after the paper published a bombshell allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — before later acknowledging, under pressure, that the alleged victim said she had no recollection of the event.

The slew of Democrats running for president who quickly called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment over the weekend based on the Times’ reporting indicated later on Monday they weren’t backing down, despite the Times’ major revision to the story.

“The left tries to threaten, bully, [and] intimidate Americans into submission,” Trump began. “They try to blacklist, coerce, cancel, or destroy anyone who gets in their way. Look at what they’re doing today to Justice Kavanaugh. Do you see — the Democrats are calling for his resignation. They’re calling for his impeachment, and the woman involved said she doesn’t know anything. So the New York Times had to put out a major apology, and they had to change their story … and they still want him to be impeached!”

Trump added: “I call for the resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh smear story, and while you’re at it, the Russian witch hunt hoax, which is just as phony a story. They’ve taken the old Grey Lady, so prestigious, and broken her down, destroyed her virtue, and ruined her reputation. She can never recover, and will never return to greatness under current management. The Times is dead, long live the New York Times.

“Think of it — they wrote a story about somebody and she said, ‘I don’t remember this,'” Trump concluded. His remarks echoed his statements earlier in the day on social media.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, appeared to throw cold water on the idea of impeaching Kavanaugh. Nadler remarked on a radio show Monday: “We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now.”

That effort also appeared to be stalled, with top Democrats unable to agree on whether impeachment proceedings are currently occurring.

The explosive rally in suburban Albuquerque came hours after New York City prosecutors went on the offensive by subpoenaing Trump’s tax returns. But Trump’s presence in the Democratic-leaning state was itself an aggressive maneuver that signaled a new campaign strategy.

The event is the first stop on a three-day swing that will also take him to California for fundraisers expected to raise more than $15 million. The county where the rally is being held, Rio Rancho, went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, if only by just 1,800 votes.

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Rio Rancho, N.M. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“We will win the great state of New Mexico in 2020,” Trump said at the outset of the rally, before touting the state’s economic progress under his administration.

New Mexico is in the midst of an oil-production boom that has boosted employment and spurred a state government spending spree from first-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on public education, roadway projects and tax rebates for film productions.

“Crude oil production has more than doubled, and it’s going up higher, quickly,” Trump said. “And your state’s energy revenues are up by nearly two-thirds. Think of that.”

Chants of “Four more years!” broke out. Trump said the current spat with Iran in the Middle East would have caused a “panic” under previous administrations, when the U.S. was not a net exporter of energy and had not attained energy independence.

“Thank you very much, President Trump,” Trump said. “Now, under the Green New Deal, all of that goes away. No more cows. No more airplanes.”

“Thank you very much, President Trump.”

— President Trump

Trump’s efforts in New Mexico will provide a test of how well his often-harsh rhetoric about immigrants will play with Hispanic voters, who comprise nearly 40 percent of New Mexico’s electorate.

“Yesterday marked the beginning of the Hispanic Heritage month,” Trump said at the rally. “Who is Hispanic here? Latinos for Trump, right? Incredible people.”

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at a campaign event in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Trump added: “The unemployment for Hispanic Americans is right now at the lowest level in the history of our country. Hispanic American poverty reached a brand-new all-time low in history. And after years of stagnation that you know very well, wages for Hispanic Americans are rising really fast, up nearly 8 percent since my election. Those are unheard-of numbers. And median income for Hispanic Americans surpassed $50,000 for the first time ever. That’s not bad.”

The president went on to praise Mexico’s efforts to assist in border enforcement, which commenced after Trump threatened the country with punishing tariffs. Border apprehensions have plunged as a result of that assistance, administration officials said, citing the latest data from the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump is looking to find the next Wisconsin or Michigan — states that Democrats generally win in presidential elections but that can surprise under certain conditions, as they did in 2016. Also on the Trump team’s shortlist: Nevada, New Hampshire and Minnesota.

New Mexico has not tilted toward a Republican in the presidential election since 2004. Trump captured just 40 percent of the state vote in 2016.

Hillary Clinton fell short of a majority victory, with 48 percent support in a state she did not visit.

Recent indicators have not been favorable fo the GOP. Last year, Republicans lost a House seat and the governor’s mansion. Last week, a congressional candidate went viral by taunting the president by name in an ad.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running in an open Senate primary to replace retiring Democrat Tom Udall, greeted news of Trump’s rally in New Mexico at first with mocking disbelief, and then with a tweeted string of stern warnings.

“Rio Rancho is in my district, and anyone who undermines the safety, security, or way of life of our communities, isn’t welcome here,” he wrote.

Still, campaign officials say a Trump rally in nearby El Paso, Texas, last February was well attended by female and Hispanic voters and travelers from New Mexico, suggesting that New Mexico is in play.

Hundreds of people showed up early Monday to claim a place in line ahead of the evening event in Rio Rancho. Protesters, for their part, vowed to step up acts of civil disobedience and demonstrations.

Trump’s first visit to New Mexico as president drew visitors from Colorado, California and all parts of New Mexico, according to local media reports.

“This is New Mexico. A lot of people in New Mexico really like Trump because he’s fighting for them,” an attendee told local station KRQE-13.

Some observers, however, have their doubts.

“Bush had much higher favorable opinions by Hispanics,” said Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, who noted Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry 15 years ago by winning over large rural swaths of the state. “He was from Texas, not New York, and so he had more regional ties. … Trump paints a very different portrait.”

Among those waiting for the president in New Mexico was former CIA operative Valerie Plame, the top contender in a crowded Democratic primary race for New Mexico’s northern congressional district, which Luján currently represents. Plame noted she has a “few scores to settle” with the president in a swaggering new video that shows her speeding across the desert in a muscle car — in reverse — before spinning forward in a swirl of dust. The campaign advertisement’s accuracy was questioned.

The Trump campaign said that the situation on the ground in the state has changed significantly since 2016. In August, Vice President Pence declared New Mexico was back “in play” politically in a visit to the Permian Basin, a booming petroleum production zone overlapping portions of southern New Mexico and western Texas.

“We have the opportunity because of our fundraising and infrastructure to not only defend the states we carried in 2016, but to extend the map in 2020,” said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for a fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said he believes the president’s standing has improved since 2016. He credited the economy, including the fact that Latino unemployment is at an all-time low, as well as the president’s stance on immigration enforcement.

“The most valuable commodity that we have as a campaign is the president’s time. And he will not travel all the way to New Mexico for a head fake,” Murtaugh said.

Gorka said New Mexico is a big part of that strategy, as are Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada.

President Trump boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base for his trip to Albuquerque on Monday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Lujan Grisham, meanwhile, took aim at Trump ahead of his visit, describing the president as being demeaning to Hispanics and immigrants since being elected. She also said Trump’s policies had resulted in increased taxes for some New Mexicans.

Specifically, she has pilloried Trump’s border wall while withdrawing most National Guard troops from the border and suing the U.S. Homeland Security Department to recoup spending by local governments to shelter and feed asylum-seeking migrants released into southern New Mexico towns such as Las Cruces and Deming.

Trump will stay in Albuquerque on Monday night, then follow up his rally by flying to the San Francisco Bay area on Tuesday for a luncheon fundraiser. He’ll then attend a fundraising dinner that evening in Beverly Hills at the home of real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer. He has two more fundraisers planned in Los Angeles and San Diego on Wednesday.

The fundraisers will benefit Trump Victory, the joint entity that funds Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump demands resignations at NYT amid Kavanaugh outcry: ‘The Times is dead, long live the New York Times’

President Trump, in remarks broadcast Sunday, said former President Obama “certainly must have known about” what he characterized as high-level efforts by “FBI guys that were low-lifes” and other intelligence operatives to undermine his presidency.

Speaking in a contentious interview with ABC News’ “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, Trump blunted his accusation by adding, “I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet.” But, as two Justice Department inquiries actively probe the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump hinted more facts would soon come out.

“You clearly believe there was a group of people working against you,” Stephanopoulos asked. “Do you think President Obama was behind it?”

“I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain,” Trump responded. “But, you’re gonna find that out. I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet. But I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”

In May, Trump issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.

As part of its ongoing “multifaceted” and “broad” review into potential misconduct by U.S. intelligence agencies during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department revealed last week it also was investigating the activities of several “non-governmental organizations and individuals.”

After Trump pointed out he had turned over more than a million documents and chose not to exert executive privilege over any aspect of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his level of cooperation with investigators.

“You didn’t sit for an interview. You didn’t answer questions on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, said.

“Now, wait a minute,” Trump shot back. “Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing.”

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos repeated twice.

Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a “lowlife,” Trump said Sunday, adding that President Obama likely was aware of his activities. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“Look, George, you’re being a little wise guy, okay, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump responded. “Just so you understand, very simple, it’s very simple, there was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”

Trump continued: “I hope it’s gonna come out. We are going to find out very soon, because I really believe it’s gonna come out. When you look at [Peter] Strzok, these FBI guys that were lowlifes, when you look — ’cause the FBI’s the greatest. But these — the top people were absolutely lowlifes. When you look at Strzok and [Lisa] Page and they’re talking about an insurance policy just in case she loses, that was the insurance policy,” referring to the former FBI agent and attorney.

The DOJ has announced that its probe, let by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, also was looking into the involvement of “foreign intelligence services.” Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos told Fox News last month that an informant who was likely “CIA and affiliated with Turkish intel” had posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 and tried to “seduce him” to obtain information linking the Trump team to Russia.

The DOJ also has indicated it was looking closely at work performed by Fusion GPS, the firm retained by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) to conduct opposition research against the Trump campaign.

Fusion GPS, in turn, hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce an unverified and largely discredited dossier that the FBI went on to cite in secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

Internal FBI text messages, obtained by Fox News, showed that FBI brass tussled with a senior DOJ official over the apparent “bias” of a key FISA source at that time. Reporting by The Hill, confirmed by Fox News, has since revealed that Steele met with a State Department official shortly before the FBI obtained the Page FISA. The official then promptly communicated numerous concerns about Steele’s credibility to the FBI, including that some of his claims were self-evidently false and that his client was “keen” to see his work product surface prior to Election Day.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told Fox News that Durham has been “very dialed in” and “asking all the right questions.” Separately, sources within the Justice Department confirmed to Fox News that Barr has met “on multiple occasions in recent weeks” with Durham in Washington, D.C.

The DOJ’s internal watchdog has been conducting an independent inquiry into potential surveillance abuses and misconduct. Previously the DOJ Inspector General (IG) found numerous actual and apparent violations of policy by FBI officials and agents, including taking inappropriate gifts and leaking without authorization to the media.

In May, the IG released an investigative summary finding that an unnamed former FBI deputy assistant director engaged in “misconduct,” including leaking “sensitive” information to the media, violating federal law by disclosing sealed court records and taking a gift from someone in the media. The IG declined to recommend prosecution without explanation.

“Do you believe that President Obama spied on your campaign?” Stephanopoulos asked toward the end of the interview after Trump remarked that “a previous administration used the intelligence data and the intelligence agencies to spy on my campaign.”

“I don’t know,” Trump said. “But, hopefully we’re gonna find out.”

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump claims ‘Obama had to know about’ efforts to undermine presidency

Donald Trump Jr. has reached an eleventh-hour agreement to testify before the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, most likely in June, Fox News has learned.

The development capped a contentious episode that began when the panel, led by Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Ranking Member Mark Warner, D-Va., subpoenaed the president’s son over remarks he made while testifying before the committee in 2017.

Trump Jr. had been concerned about an open-ended time and subject commitment, Fox News is told. In addition, Fox News has learned Trump Jr. was prepared to make the committee hold him in contempt and had a defiant letter drafted and ready to send — but at the last minute, the committee reached out to resolve the dispute.

Ultimately, the panel agreed to limit questioning to 1 to 2 hours, with narrow room for follow-ups, Fox News has learned. A source familiar with the discussions told Fox News the panel never would agree to limit topics.

Trump Jr.’s letter of refusal – which was never sent — cited the 20-plus hours of testimony and thousands of documents that he has already given to congressional committees, as well as his exoneration in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The committee’s demand to have Trump Jr. testify again reportedly is related to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony earlier this year. Cohen, who reported to prison this week to begin a three-year sentence, told a House committee that he had briefed Trump Jr. approximately 10 times about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The committee’s demand to have Trump Jr. testify reportedly is related to the earlier testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, seen here. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

But, in 2017, Trump Jr. told the Senate Intelligence Committee he was only “peripherally aware” of the proposal.

In his draft letter to the committee, Trump Jr. pointed out that Cohen has pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes, including lying to Congress.

The Intelligence Committee’s demand rankled top Republicans, including President Trump and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.

“Anything based on what Michael Cohen said is worthless testimony. Michael Cohen is a worthless witness, and if I were Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer I would tell him, ‘You don’t need to go back into this environment anymore, you’ve been there for hours and hours and hours. And nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation,'” Graham, R-S.C., said. “I would call it a day.”

Trump Jr. has testified before congressional committees multiple times as part of their Russia investigations. Trump Jr. first fell under scrutiny in the early summer of 2017, after it was revealed that he helped to organize, and then attend, a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower in New York City.

The meeting initially was billed as one where Trump Jr. and members of the Trump campaign could obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton for their benefit in the 2016 election. The meeting apparently did not reveal any dirt on Clinton, but Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort attended the June 2016 meeting. Special Counsel Robert Mueller also investigated the meeting.

Both the Moscow project and June 2016 meeting are top priorities for the committee’s questioning, the source said.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re, John Roberts

Source: Foxnews: Trump Jr. reaches last-minute agreement to testify before Senate Intel Committee

Republicans believe he already gave ‘clear, informative testimony’ to the Senate about the Mueller report

The House Judiciary Committee has been informed that Attorney General Bill Barr (shown above right, beside Robert Mueller) will not testify at a planned hearing Thursday, an aide to the panel told Fox News — even as the Democrats who lead the committee vowed to hold the hearing anyway and threatened a possible contempt citation against Barr.

The prospect of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveling a hearing with an empty chair came hours after Barr endured withering questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier on Wednesday.

A key sticking point was that Nadler wants to have House Judiciary Committee staff — rather than members of Congress — question Barr on his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

But DOJ officials said members should conduct the inquiry.

In remarks to reporters Thursday afternoon, Nadler said Democrats had “worked around the clock” to address Barr’s concerns and slammed what he called Barr’s “lack of candor.”

“He’s trying to blackmail the committee into not following the most effective means of eliciting the information we need,” Nadler said. “He is terrified of having to face a skilled attorney.”

Nadler also said the DOJ had denied House Democrats’ request for the full and unredacted Mueller report by Thursday, and said compliance with congressional subpoenas is “not optional.”

Although Barr has not yet been subpoenaed, Nadler said contempt citations could be possible down the road not only if the full Mueller report is not released, but also if Barr does not comply with a possible future subpoena.

“It’s a shame members of the House Judiciary Committee won’t get the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr this Thursday, because Chairman Nadler chose to torpedo our hearing,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said in a statement. “The attorney general gave clear, informative testimony in the Senate Wednesday, as he offered to do more than a month ago in the House tomorrow.”

Collins added, “By rejecting the chance to question Attorney General Barr or read the materials he’s provided, Democrats are trying to prolong an investigation the special counsel completed. Ultimately, though, they’re ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who want Congress to move on and secure our border and continue to strengthen our economy.”

“We’re not torpedoeing this hearing,” Nadler said, responding to Collins’ remarks.

He added that Barr has a “nerve” to challenge the panel’s ability to conduct its own hearing.

Republicans on the panel have echoed Collins’ argument for days.

“Attorney General Barr wasn’t asked to testify before the committee — he offered,” a spokesperson for House Judiciary Committee Republicans told Fox News earlier this week. “He provided the Mueller report voluntarily. He invited Democrat leaders to view the less redacted report in person. Yet the only thing, apparently, that will satisfy Democrats, who refuse to read the less redacted report, is to have staff pinch-hit when a cabinet-level official appears before us.”

The spokesperson continued, “What actual precedent is there for our committee making such demands of a sitting attorney general as part of our oversight duties? The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don’t constitute impeachment, so Democrats have yet to prove their demands anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee.”

It is unusual for committee counsels to question a witness, especially a high-ranking Cabinet official.

“The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don’t constitute impeachment.”

Several top Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, have called for Barr’s resignation in the wake of his Senate testimony on Wednesday. The hearing covered everything from Barr’s decision not to pursue an obstruction case against President Trump to process delays in getting a redacted version of Mueller’s report to the public to Mueller’s apparent concerns about how Barr initially relayed his findings to Congress.

Barr, for his part, called some of Mueller’s comments “a bit snitty,” and suggested that the brouhaha was bizarre political theater, given that the Mueller report has been released publicly already.

Separately on Thursday, Democrats said Carl Kline, the former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, had failed to substantively answer several questions posed by the House Oversight and Reform Committee during a closed-door hearing.

Illinois Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told reporters Kline will have to answer questions “one way or another.”

“I am not happy, since the White House is basically instructing the witness not to answer questions that are very pertinent to our inquiries,” Krishnamoorthi said. “We need to know about specific cases, specific individuals, and there seems to be some kind of blanket assertion that is not lodged in executive privilege or any kind of a recognizable basis for not answering questions. And so today’s a voluntary interview, but I suspect we’re going to be disputing this after today.”

Gregg Re is an editor and attorney based in Los Angeles. Fox News’ Jason Donner and Caroline McKee contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Lifezette: Attorney General Bill Barr Will Not Testify at Planned Thursday Hearing; Dems Threaten Citation

Trump: We can never allow this to happen to another president

President Donald Trump joins ‘Hannity’ in an exclusive interview to discuss to outcome of the Mueller report and the role the FISA abuse scandal played.

President Trump, in an exclusive wide-ranging interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ “Hannity,” vowed to release the full and unredacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and related documents used by the FBI to probe his campaign, saying he wants to “get to the bottom” of how the long-running Russia collusion narrative began.

Trump told anchor Sean Hannity that his lawyers previously had advised him not to take that dramatic step out of fear that it could be considered obstruction of justice.

“I do, I have plans to declassify and release. I have plans to absolutely release,” Trump said. “I have some very talented people working for me, lawyers, and they really didn’t want me to do it early on. … A lot of people wanted me to do it a long time ago. I’m glad I didn’t do it. We got a great result without having to do it, but we will. One of the reasons that my lawyers didn’t want me to do it, is they said, if I do it, they’ll call it a form of obstruction.”

Trump added: “Frankly, thought it would be better if we held it to the end. But at the right time, we will be absolutely releasing.”

Trump also accused FBI officials of committing “treason” — slamming former FBI Director James Comey as a “terrible guy,” former CIA Director John Brennan as potentially mentally ill, and Democrat House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as a criminal.

Redacted versions of FISA documents already released have revealed that the FBI extensively relied on documents produced by Christopher Steele, an anti-Trump British ex-spy working for a firm funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, to surveil Trump aide Carter Page. At least one senior DOJ official had apparent concerns Steele was unreliable, according to text messages exclusively obtained last week by Fox News.

The leaked dossier, and related FBI surveillance, kickstarted a media frenzy on alleged Russia-Trump collusion that ended with a whimper on Sunday, when it was revealed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe concluded finding no evidence of such a conspiracy, despite several offers by Russians to help the Trump campaign. Page was never charged with wrongdoing, and he is currently suing the DNC for defamation.

Citing a high-level source, Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul late Wednesday tweeted that anti-Trump ex-CIA Director John Brennan had internally pushed the dossier. Fox News has not independently verified Paul’s source.

“I think Brennan’s a sick person, I really do,” Trump said. “I believe there’s something wrong with him, for him to come out of the CIA and act that way was so disrespectful to the country and to the CIA. He was not considered good at what he did. He was never a respected guy.”

FILE – In this May 23, 2017, file photo, former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Intelligence Committee Russia Investigation Task Force. President Donald Trump is revoking the security clearance of former Obama administration CIA director Brennan (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Brennan was one of the loudest and most virulent voices to trumpet the Russian collusion theory over the past two years, asserting falsely just weeks ago that Mueller was likely planning to indict members of the Trump administration’s family in a scene reminiscent of the “ides of March” and the assassination of Julius Caesar. Trump, who revoked Brennan’s security clearance last year amid concerns Brennan was improperly hinting that he had inside information about ongoing federal probes, called those remarks “horrible” on Wednesday.

Brennan has since acknowledged he was wrong, but has said inaccurately that Mueller merely could not find evidence meeting the high bar needed for a criminal prosecution — when in fact Mueller found no evidence at all that the Trump team responded to Russians’ numerous efforts to involve them in a conspiracy.

“When I said there could be somebody spying on my campaign, it went wild out there,” Trump told Hannity. “They couldn’t believe I could say such a thing. As it turned out, that was small potatoes compared to what went on. … Millions and millions [spent] on the phony dossier, and then they used the dossier to start things. It was a fraud, paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”

Just hours earlier Wednesday, Trump made clear he was enthusiastic about the idea of appointing a second special counsel to review the origins of the Russia investigation when it came up during a meeting Tuesday with Republican senators, a source familiar with the discussions told Fox News.

Trump, speaking to Hannity, separately raised doubts about the secretive and mysterious June 27, 2016 Phoenix airport tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — which was spotted while Lynch was overseeing the Hillary Clinton email probe.

“I had a lot of planes for a long time. I’ve never stopped the plane on the tarmac to let somebody on the plane,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton said he was there to play golf, but I know the area very well. Arizona. It’s a little warm at that time of year for golf, OK?”

In an apparent shot at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump also told Hannity “this all would not have happened” if Attorney General William Barr had been with his administration from the beginning.

Trump also noted that ratings for several networks that aggressively pushed the Russia narrative have “fallen off” dramatically. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s audience of 2.5 million on Monday was 19 percent below her average this year, and it went down further to 2.3 million on Tuesday, according to the Nielsen company.

“If you wrote this as a novel, nobody would buy it; it would be a failure, because it would be too unbelievable,” Trump said. “We’re getting to the bottom of it. This can never, ever happen to a president again. That was a disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. … Hopefully they won’t get away with it.

“We’ll have to see how it all started, but I’m going to leave that to other people, including the attorney general and others, to make that determination,” Trump continued. “Fifty years, 100 years from now — if someone tries the same thing, they have to know the penalty will be very very great if and when they get caught.”

Trump also lashed out at Schiff, D-Calif., who has pushed strongly for investigations into possible Trump-Russia links. “Schiff is a bad guy, he knew he was lying — he’s not a dummy. For a year and a half he would just leak and call up CNN and others. You know, I watch him, so sanctimonious … He knew it was a lie, and he’d get in the back room with his friends in the Democrat Party, and they would laugh like hell. In one way, you could say it’s a crime what he did — he was making statements he knew were false. He’s a disgrace to our country.”

The president insisted the U.S. should have a “great relationship” with Russia and China, but that the “fake news” and “nonsense” distorted his intentions into something more sinister.

FILE – In this March 22, 2018 photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, exits a secure area to speak to reporters, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump also criticized Comey, whom he’d fired in 2017, as a “terrible guy.” He insisted he did not fire him to obstruct justice, telling Hannity he knew that firing Comey would only increase scrutiny on the White House.

“It was treason, it was really treason,” Trump said, referring to texts between former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page that discussed an “insurance policy” in the event of Trump’s election.

“You had dirty cops, you had people who are bad FBI folks … At the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly.” He said later, “We can never allow these treasonous acts to happen to another president.”

“I do, I have plans to declassify and release.”

— President Trump

Separately, Trump also said he hopes Democrats continue pushing the Green New Deal, which flamed out in a test vote on Tuesday, as most Democrats voted “present” instead of going on record supporting the sweeping transformation of the entire U.S. economy.

“I don’t want to speak badly about the New Green Deal, frankly, because I’m afraid they will stop using it,” Trump said. “I really do want to campaign against it. It’s ridiculous.”

Trump’s interview came as multiple GOP lawmakers have claimed the president may have somewhat undercut perhaps the best week of his presidency by backing the complete overturn of ObamaCare.

On Monday, the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to affirm last year’s ruling by a Texas federal judge stating that the Affordable Care Act was no longer constitutional because the 2017 tax reform legislation eliminated the health care law’s penalty for not having health insurance.

Multiple congressional Republicans told Fox News they were bothered by the timing of the Trump administration’s intervention in the matter, which came on the heels of the Mueller report findings, the House sustaining the president’s veto of a bill to halt the national emergency for the border wall and a Senate vote that shined a spotlight on what conservatives described as problems with the Green New Deal, championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Trump, despite the pushback, vowed that Republicans would soon be the “party of great health care.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Foxnews: Trump vows to release FISA docs now that Mueller probe is concluded, slams ‘treasonous’ FBI

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