The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Asked about the arrest of his two associates —who are also connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine about presidential candidate Joe Biden — President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN, "I can’t comment at this point.”
The two associates of Giuliani, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were arrested Wednesday on criminal charges for violating campaign finance rules.
The case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York. You can read the indictment here.
Two associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, were arrested Wednesday on criminal charges for violating campaign finance rules, according to the spokesperson for the Southern District of New York's federal prosecutor's office.
Both associates are connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were detained at Dulles airport outside of Washington and are expected to appear in court in Virginia on Thursday.
The investigation was conducted by the SDNY.
Parnas was Giuliani's fixer in Ukraine, introducing him to current and former officials as far back as 2018, according to CNN's reporting
The two men gave hundreds of thousands in donations to a Trump-allied super PAC, according to the Miami Herald.
President Trump is attacking Fox News this morning for their poll on impeachment, tweeting “whoever their Pollster is, they suck” adding that the network is “much different than it used to be in the good old days.”
Trump named specific Fox News hosts and analysts who he disagrees with, including Andrew Napolitano, Shep Smith and Donna Brazile.
“@FoxNews doesn’t’ deliver for US anymore. It’s so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!” Trump added.
What is this all about: Fox News released a poll Wednesday night that found 51% of registered voters want Trump to be impeached and removed from office. That’s a new high in Fox’s polling, up 9 points since July, with increases coming across party lines.
The poll also finds that 51% feel the Trump administration is more corrupt than previous administrations, up 6 points in the last month.
Asked to rate how “troubling” Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian president are, 51% rate them extremely or very troubling, while just 26% say they are not at all troubling.
President Trump tweeted a link to a Fox News story of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying there was “no blackmail” in the controversial July phone call.
Trump adds that Zelensky’s comments should “immediately end the talk of impeachment!”
Zelesnky said Thursday morning that there was “no blackmail at all” during his phone call with US President Trump in July.
Furthermore, Zelensky said he was unaware that US military aid was being held up at the time.
“No we didn’t speak about it. I didn’t know about it. This information I got from our minister and this information I got before September, before the meeting in Warsaw with the Vice President Mr. Pence,” Zelensky said. The subject of military aid to Ukraine “was not the subject of the phone call.”
More context here: When he was asked by a journalist during a press conference in Kiev on Thursday about the US and Ukrainian transcripts of the call that was published, Zelensky said the call was strictly about improving relations between the two countries.
“Honestly speaking, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t check. I’d think they [the transcripts] correspond, they correspond completely. I remember the main highlights: I wanted strong support from the United States," Zelenskey said. "I said: we have to.. there was no conditions to the meeting around Burisma, not Burisma, or military aid. There was none of that. We had to improve our relations, we had to have our first meeting. that’s all.”
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the US has not supplied any evidence of President Trump’s claims around corruption at natural gas company, Burisma involving Hunter Biden—who has sat on the company's board since 2014—or election interference by the Ukraine in 2016.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden or formed Vice President Joe Biden.
Asked by CNN whether the US has supplied any information regarding either Burisma or election interference in 2016, Zelensky said, "the USA gave me nothing, no details of Burisma… I didn’t get any details about involvement in your previous elections.”
“I always said: Super. Give me the details. We will look into this. Ukraine is not like that. We don’t interfere. If the last government interfered, give us the details we will happily investigate," Zelensky said.
Zelensky said Donald Trump would not influence investigations in Ukraine by its independent judicial system. “He can say: ok, we’ve got details, we have a vision that Ukraine interfered in US elections 2016 but you have to be responsible with your words.”
Vice President Mike Pence is defending President Trump for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — even when faced with his past comments on foreign interference in US politics.
In Iowa on Wednesday, CNN asked Pence if he stood by his comments during the 2016 election that foreign governments "cannot participate" in the US political process.
"Well, I do," Pence replied. "I think that's why President Trump is so concerned about a foreign interference in our election in Ukraine."
During the 2016 vice presidential debate, Pence attacked the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
"This is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process," Pence said at the time.
Some background: Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry over a July 25 phone call where he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a "favor" in investigating Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, despite no evidence of wrongdoing by both. Trump also asked Zelensky to investigate a cybersecurity company that had publicly sounded the alarm about Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The White House had released a transcript of the call last month.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said there was “no blackmail at all” during his July phone call with his US counterpart Donald Trump. Zelensky added that he was unaware US military aid was being held up at the time.
“No, we didn’t speak about it. I didn’t know about it. This information I got from our minister and this information I got before September, before the meeting in Warsaw with the Vice President, Mr. (Mike) Pence,” Zelensky said during a press conference in Kiev on Thursday.
Zelensky added that the subject of military aid to Ukraine “was not the subject of the phone call.”
Trump pressured Zelensky during the July 25 phone call to investigate former US vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, setting off an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused the power of his office in order to damage a political rival. Hunter Biden was once a board member of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden, nor that Hunter Biden himself was ever under investigation.
Trump's lawyers may have written a letter to Democrats saying that the President "remains focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people" but Trump himself has shown few signs he is redirecting focus to governing.
Similar to his erratic behavior during the Mueller probe, the President has spent hours tweeting about the impeachment and lighting up the phone lines of his allies on Capitol Hill -- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump is calling the Majority Leader up to three times a day and making political threats, a source says.
McConnell has told a small number of Republicans about the President's calls.
However, a spokesperson for McConnell has denied that Trump is increasingly leaning on the Republican leader in the Senate.
This story, based on a single anonymous source, is categorically false. Leader McConnell never said anything like this," Doug Andres said.
Trump has been lashing out at GOP senators he sees as disloyal, according to the person familiar with the conversations, telling McConnell he will amplify attacks on those Republicans who criticize him.
McConnell faces his own dilemma of having to preserve the Republican majority in the Senate, while also placating an erratic President who demands nothing short of total loyalty. That will become harder as more details about Trump's dealings with Ukraine trickle out.
Trump has already demonstrated his willingness to go after Republican defectors. After Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said it was "wrong and appalling" for Trump to suggest Ukraine and China investigate Joe Biden, Trump unloaded, calling Romney a "pompous ass" and suggesting Romney himself be impeached.
Trump has also been mistrustful of Republicans who are reticent to defend him publicly, often lamenting that Democrats are much better at staying in line with their party heads than his own.
Late on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump tweeted about the impeachment probe, making his signature claims about having strengthened the US economy and military.
"Impeached for what, having created the greatest economy in the history of our country, building our strongest ever military, cutting taxes too much?" he tweeted.
Earlier on Wednesday, he had tweeted that only 25% of the country supported impeachment.
Fact check: A Washington Post poll Tuesday found that 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support an impeachment inquiry. But a Fox News poll, released Wednesday, found that more than half of US voters want Trump impeached and removed from office.