Zachary Stieber


Gordon Sondland became the latest impeachment witness to affirm Republican concerns about a possible conflict of interest by Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma from 2014 to 2019. His father was in office from 2008 to 2016. In 2016, Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine unless the country ousted prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was probing Burisma. The case was closed by Shokin’s replacement, Yuriy Lutsenko.

“Do you believe that Hunter Biden having a position on the board of Burisma has the potential appearance of a conflict of interest?” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Wednesday in an open impeachment hearing.

“I don’t want to characterize Hunter Biden’s service on the board one way or another, I just don’t know enough,” Sondland said.

“So you disagree with every other witness who has testified ‘yes, there is a potential appearance of conflict of interest?” Stefanik asked.

“You asked if there was a conflict or an appearance?” Sondland asked. When Stefanik repeated “a potential appearance of a conflict of interest,” Sondland said “I didn’t hear the word appearance. Clearly it’s an appearance of conflict.”

“This is something that every witness has answered yes to or agreed with it could have a potential appearance and yet we are not allowed to call Hunter Biden to answer questions in front of this committee,” Stefanik said.

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 20, 2019. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Gordon Sondland — whose appearance before Congress is being watched especially closely as he was a Trump ally — said he believed the president was pressing Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

The day prior, National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams, a National Security Council official assigned to Vice President Mike Pence, told Stefanik that they agreed there was the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“Certainly the potential, yes,” Vindman said. “Yes,” Williams said.

State Department official George Kent said last week he raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s position with the vice president’s office because of “the possibility of the perception of a conflict of interest.”

Republicans have asked House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to schedule Hunter Biden to testify but so far Schiff has refused. Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said earlier Wednesday that the GOP submitted subpoena requests to Schiff for Hunter Biden and the whistleblower.

Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s business partner, was also among the witnesses requested by Republicans.

Democrats have publicly defended the Bidens, who have both denied wrongdoing.

“Let’s be clear, Hunter Biden didn’t do anything illegal and his father, the vice president, didn’t do anything illegal or unethical,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said over the weekend on CNN.

“And all of these attacks on the Bidens and the effort to bring the whistleblower in to testify are just an attempt to try to put more chum in the water and distract from the corrupt scheme that is at the heart of this inquiry.”

Author: Zachary Stieber

Source: The Epoch Times: Every Impeachment Witness Has Said Yes to Possible Hunter Biden Conflict of Interest: Stefanik

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said no Republican senators will vote to remove President Donald Trump from office if the House votes to impeach or formally charge him.

The Senate, in that case, would conduct an impeachment trial, after which it would vote to acquit him or remove him from office. Two-thirds of the senators present would need to vote to convict Trump to remove him from office.

Graham said on Oct. 29 that “not one vote” to remove Trump among GOP members in the Senate exists “because he did nothing wrong.”

Before making his assertion, Graham said that House Democrats have been unable to accept the result of the 2016 presidential election.

“You have to accept that President Trump is president,” Graham said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

“That’s the problem. They don’t accept that President Trump won the election, and America hates a sore loser as much as any country on the planet. This is an unfair process being driven by sore losers and there is not one vote in the United States Senate to impeach President Trump based on this phone call because he did nothing wrong.”

Graham added that he meant Republicans in the Senate, not the entire Senate.

The Senate is currently composed of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two Independents who vote with the Democrats.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) walks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 22, 2019. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Graham has circulated a resolution condemning the impeachment inquiry, garnering 50 co-sponsors.

Three Republicans have not signed onto the measure: Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Graham also criticized the resolution the House is slated to vote on this week approving the next phase of the impeachment inquiry. The inquiry has not been approved by the body with a vote as of yet.

The resolution was released on Tuesday and showed strict rules governed by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

“The president’s denied right to counsel and Republicans can’t call witnesses without Schiff agreeing, so this whole thing is a sham,” Graham said.

Schiff and Democratic leaders argued the same day that the resolution will enable the inquiry to proceed in public.

“Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct,” they wrote in a joint statement.

Other Republicans criticized the resolution, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

“Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff have turned the House Intelligence Committee into the Impeachment Committee,” he said in a statement. “It appears they are more concerned with removing President Trump from the White House than they are with removing terrorists from the battlefield.”

Author: Zachary Stieber

Source: The Epoch Times: Graham Says No Senate Republicans Would Vote to Remove Trump ‘Because He Did Nothing Wrong’

Several House Republicans said they were blocked from the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including one who said it was the first time in nearly 17 years in Congress he was blocked from reviewing documents.

“This morning, I was denied access to any and all classified documents related to impeachment. In my nearly 17 years in Congress, this is the first time that I’ve been unable to review documentation being held at the House Intel Committee. This is completely unacceptable,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said he tried to join the impeachment inquiry closed-door session being held on Oct. 16 but was denied access.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) gained access to an impeachment inquiry hearing on Monday but was thrown out.

Biggs told reporters that the inquiry is not formal because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t hold a House vote authorizing the inquiry. There are major discrepancies between what’s happening and the normal course of events in Congress, he alleged.

This morning, I was denied access to any and all classified documents related to impeachment. In my nearly 17 years in Congress, this is the first time that I’ve been unable to review documentation being held at the House Intel Committee. This is completely unacceptable.

— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) October 16, 2019

I was just denied access to Adam Schiff’s secret chamber where he is running the unauthorized impeachment inquiry of @POTUS @realDonaldTrump.

Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi are intentionally running Soviet-style hearings to deprive the American people of representation.

— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) October 16, 2019

“If you had a formal impeachment inquiry you wouldn’t be having Soviet-style secret hearings where we have to go plead and say, ‘Can we come in?’ Because normally, every member of Congress can go into any committee hearing that’s ongoing and we can sit there and we can actually go up to somebody sitting at the stand and say, ‘How about this question, you might consider this.’ You can’t do that here.”

Biggs also hit Democrats for refusing to release transcripts from the closed-door depositions of current and former State Department personnel who have testified before several committees in the hearings.

“Why can’t we see the transcript? They don’t know why we can’t see the transcript, only that we can’t see the transcript!” Biggs said.

Biggs said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who fabricated portions of the Trump phone call transcript, is holding back the deposition transcripts to dictate what’s happening.

“By delaying the release and preventing us from participating he makes everything move at the speed and direction he wants it to move,” he said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House intelligence chairman, hold a press conference about the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, at the Capitol in Washington on Oct. 2, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) said on Wednesday that Republican representatives tried to gain access to transcripts of testimony but were denied.

“I think one of the really important things to recognize about the impeachment effort is the extent to which the materials are being kept in secret, not just from the public, but kept in secret from other members,” she told reporters at a press conference.

“The Constitution of the United States does not say that the power of impeachment resides with Speaker Pelosi, it doesn’t say it resides with the speaker of the house, it doesn’t say that it resides with the chairman of the intel committee, it says it resides with the House of Representatives.”

Democrats have said the testimonies need to be kept hidden from most to prevent witnesses from aligning stories.

“The Republicans would like nothing better because they view their role as defending the president being the president’s lawyers. If witnesses could tailor their testimony to other witnesses. They would love for one witness to be able to hear what another witness says so that they can know what they can give away and what they can’t give away,” Schiff said during an interview over the weekend.

“There’s a reason why investigations and grand jury proceedings for example, and I think this is analogous to a grand jury proceeding, are done out of the public view initially. Now we may very well call some of the same witnesses or all the same witnesses in public hearings as well. But we want to make sure that we meet the needs of the investigation and not give the president or his legal minions the opportunity to tailor their testimony and in some cases fabricate testimony to suit their interests.”

Author: Zachary Stieber

Source: The Epoch Times: House Republicans Say They’re Being Blocked From Impeachment Inquiry

President Donald Trump took aim at the polls on June 12, calling them fake.

“The Fake News has never been more dishonest than it is today. Thank goodness we can fight back on Social Media,” he began in a missive posted on Twitter. “There [sic] new weapon of choice is Fake Polling, sometimes referred to as Suppression Polls (they suppress the numbers). Had it in 2016, but this is worse.”

“The Fake (Corrupt) News Media said they had a leak into polling done by my campaign which, by the way and despite the phony and never ending Witch Hunt, are the best numbers WE have ever had. They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist. WE WILL WIN AGAIN!” he added.

The missive came as a number of polls claimed that Trump would lose against any of the top six Democratic presidential candidates in 2020. Most polls leading up to the 2016 presidential election had Trump losing to his opponent, former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Media outlets and polling companies began pegging Trump’s odds at winning the presidency in 2015, with one claiming in mid-2015 that he only had a 1 percent chance to nab the Republican nomination, much less the general election.

After he won the GOP primary, Trump was repeatedly reported on as a longshot, with the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, and other popular left-leaning outlets reporting that he had little chance of beating Clinton.

The openly liberal and anti-Trump New York Times reported on Oct. 18, 2016, that Clinton had a 91 percent chance of winning. On election day, it said Clinton had an 85 percent chance of winning. Princeton University professor Sam Wang, a top election forecaster, gave Clinton a 98 percent to 99 percent chance of winning.

Nate Silver’s 538, perhaps the most popular data-driven media outlet, had Clinton’s chance of winning at 71.4 percent and Trump’s chance at just 28.6 percent. It said there was just a 10 percent chance that Clinton would win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College, which is what happened. The forecast relied in part on polls from the openly anti-Trump HuffPost, the nonpartisan RealClearPolitics, and other polling firms.

“The polls were largely bad, including mine,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, told 538.

“It is real error and the public’s right to question polls is justified,” added Nick Gourevitch of Global Strategy Group.

Murray told the left-leaning Business Insider: “Polls might not be capable of predicting elections.”

Quanta writer Pradeep Mutalik said that prediction models can provide accurate forecasts “but they depend on a crucial assumption—that the data points are all independent.”

“This year we saw something different: Almost all the swing state polls overscored Clinton’s numbers by two to six percent. This error is called ‘systematic’ or ‘correlated error.’ Since it affected most or all polls, it was probably caused by some common disrupting factor or factors that were outside the well-established and hitherto reliable poll methodology itself. It was this correlated error that completely threw off the prediction models,” he wrote.

It wasn’t just polls, either. Outlets like CNN would report that Trump couldn’t win the office. For example, Maeve Reston wrote on Oct. 14, 2016, that “Trump’s path to the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency is looking more and more impossible by the day.” She used polling, a Republican pollster, and a former Barack Obama adviser to support her claim.

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Author: Zachary Stieber

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Slams ‘Fake Polling,’ Says Pollsters ‘Suppress the Numbers’

President Donald Trump saluted, shook hands with, and spoke with every graduating member of the Air Force Academy in Colorado on May 30.

The president traveled to the academy to give a commencement speech and stuck around to salute the graduates one-by-one as they were announced.

That part of the graduation took over an hour. There were nearly 1,000 cadets graduating on Thursday

Trump said he was told he didn’t have to stay for the rest of the ceremony.

“They gave me a choice. They said, ‘Sir, you don’t have to shake any hands, some people do that.’ Some people do that. Those are the smart ones. They’re out of here.” Trump told the audience, prompting laughter.

“You can shake one hand, to the one person, top of the class. You can shake 10, 50 or 100, and you could also stay for 1,000, OK?” Trump added as the crowd cheered.

During the speech, the president praised the cadets for choosing the Air Force.

“To the nearly 1,000 cadets who will soon become Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force: You could have chosen any school, any career you wanted, but you chose a harder path and a higher calling: to protect and defend the United States of America. I know what you’ve been through, and it’s tougher. But you know what? In the end, it’s better. You’re going [to] see. You’ll see,” he said.

“When you choose the Air Force, you choose the noble road of service and duty and devotion. You choose to break old boundaries, and unlock new frontiers, and live life on the cutting edge.”

“And that is what your time at this great academy has been all about: preparing you to do whatever it takes to learn, to adapt, and to win, win, win. You’re going to win so much. You’re going to get so tired of winning, but not really. Not really. We never get tired of winning, do we?” he added.

President Donald Trump speaks during the 2019 United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony at Falcon Stadium at the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
United States Air Force Academy cadets celebrate after receiving their diplomas during their graduation ceremony at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 30, 2019. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Trump said that only 10 percent of the applicants to the academy are accepted and that many people who think about applying choose not to because of how hard it is to get in. Even for those who are accepted, one out of five do not graduate.

“Only the best survive to the very end. And here, under the majestic peaks of the Rockies, you have risen to every challenge, overcome every single obstacle, and proven yourselves worthy of the bars that will soon adorn your uniform,” Trump said.

“You survived BCT, made it to Recognition, and earned your Prop and Wings. You soared in gliders, piloted aircraft, and launched satellites that are now orbiting way, way above us, looking down on us. You performed advanced research, developed new techniques. You honed your skills as cyber operators, and jumped out of planes thousands of feet above the Earth. Not easy. For America’s airmen, the sky is never, ever the limit.”

The president later noted that he approved funding for 56 new Air Force F-35s, a stealth aircraft, in addition to new Reaper remotely-piloted aircraft and 10 new helicopters, among other things.

“We’re also asking Congress to invest more in hypersonic weapons. We have things under development, the likes of which you’ve never seen; the likes of which you can’t even conceive. Artificial intelligence, nuclear weapons and modernization, and space superiority,” he said. “And we’re soon having, as you know, something that I started. And it started a little slow, and now everybody has embraced it: Space Force. And you’re going to be working with them.”

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Author: Zachary Stieber

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Shakes Hand of Every Air Force Academy Graduate Following Commencement Speech

Attorney General William Barr said that special counsel Robert Mueller was wrong when Mueller said he could not recommend charging President Donald Trump with a crime if enough evidence existed.

Mueller, speaking for the first time since the submission of his report to Barr, claimed on May 29 that his team’s avoidance of a traditional prosecutorial decision—a recommendation to press charges or not—was due to Department of Justice policy.

“Under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited,” Mueller said, citing the department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

“Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” he added.

Barr, the head of the department and therefore Mueller’s boss, said that that simply was not true.

“I personally felt he could’ve reached a decision,” Barr said during an interview with CBS on May 30. Barr said Mueller “had his reasons” for not making a recommendation but declined to explain, adding: “I’m not going to, you know, argue about those reasons.”

Barr said the office’s opinion was relevant but didn’t prohibit what Mueller thought it did.

“The opinion says you cannot indict a president while he is in office, but he could’ve reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity,” Barr said.

When Mueller’s team punted on making the decision on obstruction, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stepped in and reviewed the 10 cases Mueller highlighted in his report. They also reviewed other evidence and found there wasn’t enough to conclude that Trump obstructed justice.

Barr was also asked about Mueller seeming to suggest that Congress continue the investigation, which lasted for about two years and cost tens of millions of dollars.

“I’m not sure what he was suggesting,” Barr said. “But the Department of Justice doesn’t use our powers of investigating crimes as an adjunct to Congress.”

Barr said on May 1 during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he and Rosenstein were surprised that Mueller’s team didn’t reach a decision on obstruction.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives to make a statement about the Russia investigation at the Justice Department in Washington on May 29, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“We did not understand exactly why the special counsel was not reaching a decision and when we pressed him on it, he said his team was still formulating the explanation,” Barr said of the March 5 meeting he and others had with Mueller.

“We don’t conduct criminal investigations just to collect information and put it out to the public,” Barr added. “I think that if he felt that he shouldn’t go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, then he shouldn’t have investigated.”

Barr’s latest statements come as the department and special counsel’s office issued a joint statement seeking to clarify confusion over Mueller’s comments.

“The Attorney General has previously stated that the Special Counsel repeatedly affirmed that he was not saying that, but for the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice. The Special Counsel’s report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination—one way or the other—about whether the President committed a crime,” said Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice and Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel’s Office, in the joint statement.

“There is no conflict between these statements,” they added.

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

Author: Zachary Stieber

Source: The Epoch Times: Barr Says Mueller Was Wrong, ‘Could’ve Reached a Decision’ on Obstruction

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