Jack Phillips


The Senate failed Thursday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a bill that would curb his ability to take military action against Iran.

The Senate came up short of the two-thirds majority, and it voted 49-44, with seven GOP senators joining Democrats.

Seven Republicans broke with Trump: Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Todd Young of Indiana, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined Democrats in February to pass the bill, but he did not vote Thursday.

Trump on Wednesday night, in announcing the veto, said that Republicans who voted alongside Democrats were tricked by them. He also argued that the measure would hamper the executive branch’s ability to protect allies in the Middle East against the Iranian regime.

“The resolution implies that the president’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack,” he said in a statement. “That is incorrect. We live in a hostile world of evolving threats, and the Constitution recognizes that the president must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!”

A man holds a picture of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with Iranian Revolutionary Guards Major General Qassem Soleimani (L) during a demonstration in Tehran on Jan. 3, 2020. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

The resolution came weeks after Trump authorized a strike to kill top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who U.S. officials said had been plotting attacks against American assets in the region and had blamed him for the deaths of hundreds of troops over the years. Iran launched a barrage of missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers, causing brain injuries to more than 100.

Before Soleimani’s death, Iraqi militia groups directed by Tehran attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and tried to set structures on fire. And days after the Iran missile attack, a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane was shot down and dozens of people were killed—including Canadian nationals. Tehran later claimed responsibility for the attack.

In February, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who sponsored the war powers bill, argued that it wasn’t about Trump but about how much power the executive branch should have in declaring war. He said Congress should be responsible for declaring war.

“What I find so notable about that statement is that the president could not see Congress expressing an opinion about war through any lens other than himself and his reelection,” Kaine said on the Senate floor before the vote on Thursday, according to a live stream.

The Senate passed the first war powers bill 55 to 45, and the House later approved it 227 to 186.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Senate Fails to Override Trump’s Veto on Iran War Powers Bill

President Donald Trump said Thursday that former adviser Roger Stone won’t be pardoned after he was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States, I want the process play out, I think that’s the best thing to do,” Trump said in Las Vegas. “Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”

Stone was convicted on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the House investigation into Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election season.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, denied that Stone was being punished for his politics or allies, saying that “he was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”

Earlier this week, Trump told reporters that he hasn’t given “any thought” to commuting Stone’s sentence, but said that “somebody has to stick up for the people.” At the same time, the Department of Justice last week withdrew his initial recommended sentence of seven-to-nine years in prison, prompting Democrats to call for investigations and hearings.

In the wake of the judge’s decision, several top Democrats reacted to a potential presidential pardon to Stone, who was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of Trump’s leading opponents in Congress, wrote on Twitter that Stone’s sentencing on Thursday was “justified” and said that if Trump pardons Stone, “when his crimes were committed to protect Trump [it] would be a breathtaking act of corruption.”

“If President Trump pardons Roger Stone, it’ll be a green light to Trump’s accomplices to keep breaking the law & covering up for him. If any Republican actually cares about preserving rule of law—they’ll take their head out of the sand & stand up to Trump,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.

Stone chose not to speak when he was given the opportunity in a Washington court and showed no emotion when the sentence was read aloud.

His attorney, Seth Ginsberg, downplayed the charges against him and said there was no planning involved in the obstruction conviction.

Stone’s case doesn’t end with the sentencing as Jackson indicated this week that she would delay the implementation of his penalty until after she decides whether he should get a new trial.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Says He Won’t Use Powers to Exonerate Roger Stone

Senate Democrats have asked the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to expand an investigation into Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

Ten Democrats sent a letter to Horowitz’s office to determine whether Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, had “improper communications” with top-level Department of Justice officials.

Ten Democrats signed off on the letter (pdf), led by ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and expressed concerns “that Mr. Giuliani’s interactions with senior DOJ officials may have unduly influenced or created conflicts of interests with regard to DOJ activities.” According to the letter, “At a minimum, Mr. Giuliani’s access creates an appearance of impropriety that could undermine trust in the agency.”

“If his contacts do not violate one or more of these provisions, further internal guidance may be needed to ensure that DOJ delivers ‘fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans,’” they added.

Nine other Democrats on Judiciary Committee, including Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Christopher Coons (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Cory Booker (N.J.), and Kamala Harris (Calif.), signed the letter.

The Democratic senators included reports that made references to Giuliani’s contacts with Justice Department officials.

“These reports suggest that Mr. Giuliani has used his relationship with the President, including his representation of the President as a private citizen, to gain improper access to attorneys and investigators in the agency, particularly political appointees who serve at the President’s pleasure,” they wrote. They said that some federal laws and regulations were put in place to prevent conflicts of interest.

Late last year, Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was concerned about leaks from FBI field offices to Giuliani.

“We are investigating those contacts. We’ve issued a couple of public summaries so far about people we’ve found violated FBI policy. We have other investigations ongoing,” Horowitz said in a public hearing.

Meanwhile, Giuliani emerged as a central figure during the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. In a July 25 phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak with Giuliani and “look into” corruption allegations surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden.

Democrats’ call for an expanded investigation comes after the Justice Department sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, informing him that Attorney General William Barr “has not discussed matters relating to Ukraine with Rudolph Giuliani” before adding that the department “remains vigilant against the significant threat of disinformation.”

“As always, the Department will reject information it finds to be non-credible while continuing to discharge its duty to pursue all meritorious leads and investigations,” the letter added

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Senate Democrats Ask IG to Investigate Communication Between Giuliani and DOJ

Several Republican senators on Wednesday claimed the Senate may vote to end the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by the end of the week after securing enough votes from key swing-vote senators.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News that “the president will be acquitted, and I think it will be this week, but you’ve unleashed the forces of partisan hell on future presidents if we legitimize this.”

“We’re going to get it done by Friday, hopefully,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told The Hill following a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday before the start of the impeachment trial.

Rounds also told the same publication that they would be able to bypass calling witnesses. “I think we’ll be OK,” he said.

“If I had to guess, no witnesses,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said. “We’ll be in a place where I think everyone is going to have their mind made up and I believe that we’ll be able to move to a verdict, and the witness question will be clear at that point,” Braun added.

McConnell has not publicly said if he officially has 51 votes to avoid calling new witnesses.

But Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said in a press conference on Wednesday after the first break in the trial that “it’s obvious we don’t have the votes yet.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), meanwhile, indicated that he will not support voting for witnesses. Gardner, ahead of the trial, was viewed as a possible GOP senator who would vote to call more witnesses, as Democrats have proposed.

“I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” Gardner told Colorado Politics. “I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses.”

Democrats have said they need four Republicans to force votes on additional witnesses.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have been floated as possible swing voters in favor of witnesses. Romney has said that he wants former national security adviser John Bolton to testify after the New York Times published details of his forthcoming book, alleging that the president told him about withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into political opponents. Trump has strongly denied the latest claim on Twitter.

Alexander told reporters Monday he would decide on witnesses after the question-and-answer period on Thursday.

“After we’ve heard all the arguments, after we’ve heard the questions and the answers to the questions, after we’ve studied the record, then we’ll have that vote. And at that time I will make a decision about whether we need additional evidence,” Alexander said.

Murkowski, meanwhile, hasn’t indicated how she would vote on witnesses, while Collins has suggested she would like to hear what Bolton has to say.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Republican Senators Believe They Have the Votes to Block Impeachment Witnesses

President Donald Trump in an early morning Twitter post on Sunday called on Iranian leaders to halt a crackdown on protesters.

“To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free!” Trump wrote.

He then urged Iran’s leadership to “stop the killing of your great Iranian people!” His message came about a day after he wrote a post in Farsi expressing support for the protesters who demonstrated in Tehran after the regime announced it was responsible for downing the Ukrainian Airlines jetliner that killed 176 people earlier this week.

“To the brave and suffering Iranian people: I have stood with you since the beginning of my presidency and my government will continue to stand with you,” Trump also said on Saturday. “We are following your protests closely,” he added. “Your courage is inspiring.”

Iran also must allow human rights organizations inside the country to monitor and report on the facts on the ground as Iranian authorities crack down, he wrote.

Over the weekend, Iran arrested Britain’s envoy to Tehran, Rob Macaire, and according to state-run media, he was accused of “provoking suspicious acts in a gathering held in front of Tehran Amir Kabir University.”

But in a statement, Macarie wrote that he was not involved in any demonstrations. “Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects- some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting,” he wrote on Twitter.

His boss, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, condemned Macaire’s arrest as a “flagrant violation of international law” and noted that Iran was heading towards “pariah status,” The Guardian reported.

The unrest was triggered after Iranian officials denied shooting down the plane for several days before making the stunning admission that it was, in fact, accidentally responsible for the disaster, according to reports in state media on Saturday.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also blamed the United States and wrote that “human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

An Iranian lights candles for the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 during a gathering in front of the Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, on January 11, 2020. – Iran said it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people aboard, in an abrupt about-turn after initially denying Western claims it was struck by a missile. President Hassan Rouhani said a military probe into the tragedy had found “missiles fired due to human error” brought down the Boeing 737, calling it an “unforgivable mistake”. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranians light candles for the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 during a gathering in front of the Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, on January 11, 2020. – Iran said it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people aboard, in an abrupt about-turn after initially denying Western claims it was struck by a missile. President Hassan Rouhani said a military probe into the tragedy had found “missiles fired due to human error” brought down the Boeing 737, calling it an “unforgivable mistake”. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

The downing of the plane came hours after Tehran fired more than a dozen missiles at American troops in Iraq after the United States carried out a drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

The victims of the downed plane include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three UK nationals.

Iranian military officials also claimed that American military flights increased around Iran’s borders after it launched the missiles into Iraq.

“The aircraft came close to a sensitive IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting,” the statement said, reported CNN. “Under these circumstances, the aircraft was unintentionally hit, which unfortunately resulted in death of the many Iranian and foreign nationals.”

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Warns Iran: ‘Do Not Kill Your Protesters’ After Tehran Admits Plane Was Shot Down

AFRICOM blames al-Shabaab, says two DOD members were also injured

The U.S. military’s Africa Command confirmed that one American serviceman and two Department of Defense (DOD) contractors were killed on Sunday when the al-Shabaab terrorist group attacked the Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya.

Two DOD members were also wounded in the assault, according to a Sunday afternoon statement from Africa Command, adding that they are being evacuated and are in stable condition.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” said U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, the chief of Africa Command. “As we honor their sacrifice, let’s also harden our resolve. Alongside our African and international partners, we will pursue those responsible for this attack and al-Shabaab who seeks to harm Americans and U.S. interests. We remain committed to preventing al-Shabaab from maintaining a safe haven to plan deadly attacks against the U.S. homeland, East African, and international partners.”

Earlier in the day, the military said that U.S. and Kenyan forces were able to repel the al-Shabaab attack.

“Al-Shabaab resorts to lies, coercion, and the exertion of force to bolster their reputation to create false headlines,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler in a statement. “It is important to counter al-Shabaab where they stand to prevent the spread of this cancer.”

Reports suggested there was also damage done to infrastructure and equipment.

The Manda Bay base is an area where American forces provide training and counter-terrorism support for its East African partners.

The Kenya Defence Forces issued a statement saying “the attempted breach was successfully repulsed” and that four “terrorists [sic] bodies” were found.

“The airstrip is safe. Arising from the unsuccessful breach a fire broke out affecting some of the fuel tanks located at the airstrip. The fire has been put under control and standard security procedures are now on-going,” according to its statement.

“Al-Shabaab is a brutal terrorist organization,” said Gayler. “It is an al-Qaeda affiliate seeking to establish a self-governed Islamic territory in East Africa, to remove Western influence and ideals from the region, and to further its jihadist agenda. U.S. presence in Africa is critically important to counter-terrorism efforts.”

The base attack follows a truck bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Dec. 28 that left at least 79 people dead. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The United States announced four al-Shabaab militants were killed a day later in airstrikes that “targeted al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with al-Qaeda,” the military announced in late December.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: American Service Member, DOD Contractors Killed in Terrorist Attack in Kenya

Some Senate Republicans have indicated they are still working for a speedy acquittal of President Donald Trump in the lead-up to his impeachment trial.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters over the weekend that his goal is “to have as short a trial as possible.”

“I think there’s a desire by senators, quite honestly, to get this chapter closed and moved forward,” Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Hill.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told the political website that “shorter is better for a lot of reasons” before adding that Americans “are ready to move on.”

House Democrats earlier this month voted to approve two articles of impeachment against Trump: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. They allege that Trump misused his office by withholding military aid in exchange for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, which Trump has repeatedly denied, and they’ve also said his administration blocked Congress during its investigation. No Republican in the House voted in favor of the articles, and a few Democrats voted with Republicans against one or both of the articles.

At least one Republican senator told The Hill that he doesn’t just want the articles dismissed but wants Trump to be acquitted.

“I’m ready to get this thing and get it done,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “It’s time for him to have his day in court. … I don’t want to a vote to dismiss. I want a vote to acquit. The president deserves to have due process.”

Another senator said that if the White House doesn’t want witnesses in the trial, it’s fine by him.

“I’m ready to vote now,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, adding that he doesn’t agree with the two articles of impeachment.

However, at least one GOP senator had critical words for a Republican plan to coordinate the Senate trial with the White House.

“When I heard that, I was disturbed,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) told reporters last week. Murkowski is considered a key swing vote among Republicans.

“To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so when I heard [of the coordination plan] I happened to think that further confused the process,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing for a trial with testimony from witnesses such as White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former Trump adviser John Bolton. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has shot down those claims in public remarks.

In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not yet delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate and won’t do so until Democrats see “the process that is set forth in the Senate.”

The move triggered confusion among legal experts and even constitutional scholars, including Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, who argued in an opinion piece that Trump could conceivably make the case that he hasn’t been impeached yet.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Senate GOP Unites Behind a No-Witness Trump Impeachment Trial

A new poll has found that most Americans believe President Donald Trump will not be removed from office during the Senate impeachment trial.

“Even Democrats consider it highly unlikely that the Republican-run U.S. Senate will remove President Trump from office now that he has been impeached by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives,” wrote Rasmussen Reports, a pollster that Trump often cites on social media.

It noted that a mere 24 percent of all Americans, including Democrats, think the Senate trial will result in Trump’s removal. Only 12 percent view it as very likely.

An overwhelming 73 percent of respondents told Rasmussen that they believe he will be acquitted.

“Sixty percent of Democrats see Trump’s removal from office as unlikely, although that compares to 81 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party,” the pollster also wrote.

Rasmussen said it surveyed 1,000 likely voters on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, and the poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points in either direction.

In the history of the United States, no president has ever been convicted and removed by the Senate, which requires a 67-vote supermajority vote. The House needs a simple majority to pass articles of impeachment.

On Dec. 24, Rasmussen’s daily tracker poll revealed that 48 percent of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing, showing that his approval rate has remained unchanged amid the impeachment inquiry and vote.

Another Rasmussen poll released on Dec. 20, two days after the House impeached the president for alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a partisan vote, found that a slight majority believe it is the Democratic House members who are abusing their power, not Trump.

Some 51 percent of those who were surveyed agreed with Trump’s statement about impeachment: “This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat lawmakers unequaled in nearly two-and-a-half centuries of American legislative history.”

About 48 percent agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), when she said, “Our democracy is what is at stake. … The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”

Rasmussen found 46 percent disagreed with Pelosi, as compared with the 40 percent who disagreed with Trump’s statement.

In the days after the historic House vote, Pelosi told reporters she would hold the articles of impeachment before sending them to the Senate, saying she will only name her House managers in the trial after the Senate votes on rules. Republicans and Trump have accused her of using a politically motivated strategy to try and put more pressure on Senate Republicans.

Pelosi’s move also triggered confusion among legal experts. Impeachment witness and Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman wrote that Trump hasn’t actually yet been impeached because the House hasn’t provided the Senate with the articles of impeachment. That means, he argued, Trump could claim “with strong justification that he was never actually impeached. And that’s probably not the message Congressional Democrats are hoping to send.”

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Poll: Voters View Impeachment as Dead on Arrival in Senate

President Donald Trump has responded to a video that appeared to show Justin Trudeau and other world leaders mocking him at the NATO summit in London. At the same time, Trump said he would cancel the final scheduled NATO press conference.

“He’s two-faced,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday, a day after the hot-mic video surfaced. “I find him to be a very nice guy but the truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2 percent [on Canada’s defense budget] and I guess he’s not very happy about it.”

Trump added, “He’s not paying 2 percent and he should be paying 2 percent. It’s Canada, they have money and they should be paying 2 percent. So I called him out on that and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it but that’s the way it is.”

He made the remark while speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 2019 NATO summit in London.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after announcing the government plans to build up to 18 new coast guard ships, in Vancouver, on May 22, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

“Look, I’m representing the U.S. and he should be paying more than he’s paying. And he understands it. So I can imagine he’s not that happy. But that’s the way it is,” President Trump remarked.

“I canceled the news conference. I’ve done so many,” Trump also told reporters.

Late on Tuesday, a video surfaced, allegedly showing French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and Trudeau discussing Trump’s press conference with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

The leaders apparently didn’t realize they were being recorded. Johnson asked Macron, “Is that why you were late?” and Trudeau replied with “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.” It’s not exactly clear who he was referring to, but it has been widely speculated it was Trump.

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau also apparently says in the clip. It’s also not clear which team he was referring to.

President Donald Trump (R) and France’s President Emmanuel Macron talk during a meeting at Winfield House, London on Dec. 3, 2019. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

“Where are you at? What is your number?” Trump also asked Trudeau during their sidelines meeting at the NATO summit, NPR reported. Trump pressed on: “Where are you now in terms of your number?”

Trump and past American presidents have called on NATO members to spend 2 percent or more on defense. NPR noted that just seven of the 29 NATO members have reached that target, and the United States is by far the largest contributor. Canada, meanwhile, has pledged only 1.4 percent of its spending, the CTV reported.

And during a press conference with Trudeau on Tuesday, Trump told reporters that Canada is “slightly delinquent” on the spending. “They’ll be OK. I have confidence,” Trump added.

“Just slightly delinquent. But, no, some are major delinquent. Some are way below 1 percent and that’s unacceptable. And then if something happens, we’re supposed to protect them and it’s not really fair,” Trump continued.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Responds to Trudeau’s Hot Mic Comments at NATO Summit, Wants More Spending

If House Judiciary Republicans get their way, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) would be the first witness called as the impeachment inquiry moves forward.

That’s according to Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who told “Fox News Sunday” that he would like to see Schiff—the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and main architect of the inquiry into President Donald Trump—testify when the Judiciary Committee effectively takes over in the coming weeks.

“The first and foremost person who needs to testify is Adam Schiff,” Collins said while adding that Schiff had “compared himself to a special counsel.” Then-special prosecutor Ken Starr, who was involved in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, had testified during the House impeachment of Clinton in the late 1990s.

“[Schiff] has put himself into that position … If he chooses not to [testify], I really question his veracity and what he’s putting in his report,” Collins added.

“It’s easy to hide behind a report… but it’s going to be another thing to actually get up and have to answer questions about what his staff knew how he knew, what he knew about the whistleblower report,” Collins said.

The inquiry was set off by reports that an anonymous intelligence staffer filed a complaint that Trump allegedly misused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine in favor of politically advantageous investigations, which Trump and officials in Kyiv have denied. Recently, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker told Schiff’s committee that he doesn’t believe there was any quid pro quo involved.

(L-R) Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) stands next to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as he speaks to reporters following a closed-door hearing with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 4, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

When questioned whether he was aware Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for a White House meeting or U.S. military aid, Reeker replied, “I do not recall that specifically, no,” according to transcripts (pdf) released last week by the House Intelligence Committee.

Hunter Biden sat on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings while his father was the vice president. In an interview with ABC News last month, he said that his tenure on the board was a political error but defended his work in Ukraine and China.

Reeker was later asked by Daniel Goldman, the House Democrats’ lawyer, about whether he knew of any Trump administration official withholding aid. “I did not come to that understanding. I heard that. I saw that in the press, the suggestions of it,” Reeker responded.

Schiff is slated to release his report on Monday and provide members 24 hours to look at it before a vote sends it to the Judiciary Committee, headed by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who would then be tasked with drafting articles of impeachment.

Fox host Chris Wallace asked Collins in the interview he saw “anything wrong with the president conditioning support of Ukraine to that country investigating some of the president’s political rivals?” However, Collins suggested that Wallace had asked him a loaded question.

“The premise of your question is based on witnesses who agree with your premise,” Collins responded.

“I do not believe it, so I’m not going to answer a hypothetical which is designed to simply say that the president did something improper,” Collins remarked, adding that “he did nothing improper.”

Collins noted in the interview that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, previously said Trump didn’t condition the aid on anything.

“President Trump has always been concerned about foreign aid,” he told Fox.

Author: Jack Phillips

Source: The Epoch Times: Top Judiciary Republican on Impeachment: ‘My First and Foremost Witness Is Adam Schiff’

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