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President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was — once again — at the center of the political storm swirling around the impeachment inquiry on Thursday.
Catch up on the day’s news here:
Bombshell of the day: Feds scrutinizing Giuliani business ties to indicted Ukrainians
Two of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine contacts were arrested on charges of violating campaign finance laws. Now the feds are looking at Giuliani’s financial dealings with the men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They introduced President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer to Ukrainian officials who pushed unfounded theories about corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, report CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz and Evan Perez.
Trump, on his way to a rally in Minneapolis, told reporters he had no knowledge of the situation and hadn’t spoken to Giuliani about it. “I don’t know them,” he said. “I don’t know about them, I don’t know what they do. But, I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy. I just don’t know.”
Let’s back it up: What happened Wednesday night? This story is wild
Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles airport outside Washington late Wednesday.
They had one-way tickets to Frankfurt.
Now they’re being held in Virginia.
The Soviet-born, Florida- and New York-dwelling, US citizens are accused of breaking finance law along with a Ukrainian-born American and a US-born American. A Russian investor is also involved, but wasn’t indicted.
The lawyers negotiating their $1 million bail deals represented Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who’s now in federal prison after being convicted of tax fraud.
They paraded their access to Trump. There are pictures of them with the President all over social media. Trump said today he doesn’t know them.
They allegedly gave an illegal $325,000 contribution to Committee-1, which turns out to be a Trump-aligned super PAC whose staff includes Sean Spicer and other former White House officials. The super PAC, America First Action, says it hasn’t spent the money and put it in a separate account.
They allegedly set up a scheme to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Congressman-1 (former Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions) before he lost reelection in 2018. They pushed him to get former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch recalled to Washington — successfully, it turned out. She was recalled in May.
Sessions today denied knowing about any wrongdoing.
It is a bizarre story, even before you get to the failed scheme for a chain of marijuana shops.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he’ll give the $11,000 his Protect the House committee got from Parnas and Fruman to charity.
Catch up on all of the details in the indictment here.
Rick Perry subpoenaed
The energy secretary’s turning into a key figure in this mess since he was pushing with the diplomats for Trump to be more engaged on Ukraine. Perry says he never pushed Biden theories with Trump. A House subpoena will likely run up against the same stonewalling from the White House that’s greeted other subpoenas.
Spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes says: “The Department of Energy is aware of the House Committees’ letter to Secretary Perry and it is currently under review by DOE’s Office of General Counsel.”
Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser resigns –– Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has resigned, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN on Thursday. The Washington Post first reported McKinley’s resignation, adding that it came in the midst of growing discontent at the State Department in response to Pompeo’s perceived lack of support for department officials caught up in investigations linked to Ukraine.
Trump’s former top Russia adviser to testify she was unaware of some aspects of Ukraine scandal — Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump’s former top Russia adviser, will explain to Congress when she testifies next week that she was unaware of some aspects of the escalating Ukraine scandal, according to a source close with Hill who spoke to her Thursday.
National security officials raised concerns about Trump’s Ukraine policy before call — At least four national security officials were so concerned by the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they shared their discontent with a White House lawyer both before and after President Donald Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s President, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing US officials and other people familiar with the matter.
H.R. McMaster says it’s “absolutely not” appropriate for presidents to ask for foreign help — The former national security adviser to President Donald Trump said it is “absolutely not” appropriate for a president to ask other countries to interfere in the political process of the US.
Trump rallies in Minnesota — President Donald Trump used his rally in Minneapolis Thursday night to hit some of his favorite campaign trail targets — railing against Democrats, reasserting his support for law enforcement and criticizing immigration policies, including targeting Somali refugees. He also responded to the latest news in the impeachment inquiry, taking aim the Bidens and insisting that he has done nothing wrong.
Whistleblower lawyers float written testimony — House impeachment investigators have floated a variety of ways to keep the whistleblower’s identity under wraps and still let the individual testify on Capitol Hill. His lawyers suggested just letting him testify in writing.
All but 7 House Democrats now support the impeachment inquiry — Support from Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico brings the tally to 228 of 235 Dems. Just 1 non-Democrat, former Republican Justin Amash of Michigan, is on board.
Sen. Cory Gardner has no answer on foreign influence — He’s running for reelection in Colorado, one of the most hotly contested states, and Gardner would not answer if it’s improper for a politician to ask foreign government for help. Says it’s political.
Sen. Lamar Alexander criticizes Trump — He’s retiring and he thinks impeachment is a mistake, but Alexander became the fifth Senate Republican to express frustration with the President asking foreign governments to investigate Biden.
Pranked — Sen. Lindsey Graham was duped by some Russian radio hosts. They did something similar to Democrat Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, a while back.
Yovanovitch, the recalled Ukraine ambassador, is scheduled to testify before House investigators — Will the State Department and the White House let her? That’s the key question heading into Friday. Her prominence in the indictment against Giuliani’s Ukraine middlemen makes her possible testimony that much more interesting.
She’s still on the schedule, but here’s what Trump said Thursday: “I just don’t think, you’re running a country, I just don’t think that you can have all of these people testifying about every conversation you’ve had.”
What are we doing here?
The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election.
Democrats want to impeach him for it.
It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what’s acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.