Tag Archives: White House

Zero evidence of any wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in impeachment hearing: White House

he White House on Friday said that “zero evidence” of any wrongdoing by President Donald Trump was presented at the impeachment hearing by a Congressional panel, asserting that the former US envoy to Ukraine deposed that she was unaware of any criminal activity involving the president.

“The second public hearing of Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Schiff’s impeachment charade was as useless and inconsequential as the first. Zero evidence of any wrongdoing by the president was presented,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said after the conclusion of the second public hearing on impeachment against Donald Trump.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the House-initiated impeachment hearing against Donald Trump.

Referring to her testimony, Grisham said that Yovanovitch deposed under oath that she was unaware of any criminal activity involving President Donald Trump.

“She was not on the July 25 phone call and had no knowledge about the pause on aid to Ukraine. It is difficult to imagine a greater waste of time than today’s hearing, and yet unfortunately, we expect more of the same partisan political theater next week from House Democrats,” Grisham said.

On Friday, Yovanovitch was the third witness to appear before the House Committee headed by Congressman Adam Schiff in the Democrat’s impeachment against Trump.

The public hearing of the probe kicked off on Wednesday as William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, testified for more than five hours before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Yovanovitch told lawmakers that she advocated the US position that the rule of law should prevail, and Ukrainian law enforcement prosecutors and judges should stop wielding their power selectively as a political weapon against their adversaries and start dealing with all consistently and according to law.

“Untrue are unsourced allegations that I told unidentified embassy employees or Ukrainian officials that President Trump’s orders should be ignored because he was going to be impeached or for any other reason. I did not and I would not say such a thing. Such statements would be inconsistent with my training as a foreign service officer and my role as an ambassador,” she said.

The previous Obama administration, she said, did not ask her to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign, she said.

“Nor had I taken any such steps if they had. The partisanship of this type is not compatible with the role of a career foreign service officer,” she said.

The former diplomat said that she never met Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice-President Joe Biden, nor she had any direct or indirect conversations with him.

“And although I have met former Vice-President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government service, neither he nor the previous administration ever raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me,” she said.

Responding to questions, Yovanovitch said that fighting corruption in Ukraine was a key element of US policy.

“It was important, and it was actually stated in our policy and in our strategy. It was important because corruption was undermining the integrity of the governance system in Ukraine. And as I noted in my statement, countries that have leaders that are honest and trustworthy make better partners for us,” she said.

“Countries, where there is a level playing field for our US business, makes it easier for our companies to do business there, to trade and to profit in those countries. And what had been happening since the Soviet Union — and this is very much a Soviet legacy — is that corrupt interests were undermining not only the governance, but also the economy of Ukraine. We see enormous potential in Ukraine and would like to have a more capable, more trustworthy partner there,” the former US diplomat said, during her testimony that lasted for more than five and half hours.

Following the testimony, Congressman Schiff said that this is a story about “an effort to coerce, condition, or bribe a foreign country into doing the dirty work of the president, investigations of his political rival, by conditioning US taxpayer money, by conditioning a meeting that President Zelensky desperately wanted and needed to establish that relationship with the most powerful patron of Ukraine, the United States of America.

“The fact that they failed in this solicitation of bribery doesn’t make it any less bribery. It doesn’t make it any less immoral or corrupt. It just means it was unsuccessful,” he said.


Trump regrets not raising tariffs on China higher, White House says

President Donald Trump wishes he had raised tariffs on Chinese goods even higher last week, the White House said on Sunday, even as Trump signaled he did not plan to follow through with a demand that U.S. firms find ways to close operations in China.

Trump raised eyebrows on the sidelines of a G7 summit when he responded in the affirmative to questions from reporters on whether he had any second thoughts about raising tariffs on Chinese goods by 5%.

“President Trump responded in the affirmative – because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement afterward that sought to clarify the president’s remarks.

Trump announced the additional duty on some $550 billion in targeted Chinese goods on Friday, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.

The move was the latest round in a tit-for-tat trade war between the world’s two largest economies that has damaged global growth, upset allies, and raised market fears that the world economy will tip into a recession.

It came just hours after Trump said he was ordering U.S. companies to find “alternatives” to China, including closing operations there and moving production to the United States.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump could order companies out of China under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act if he declared a national emergency.

Trump indicated on Sunday that he was not planning such a step at this time, however.

“I could declare a national emergency. I think when they steal and take out, and – intellectual property theft, anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year, and where we have a total loss of almost a trillion dollars a year … in many ways, that’s an emergency,” he said.

“I have no plan right now. Actually, we’re getting along very well with China right now. We’re talking,” Trump said.

Mnuchin said the president did want U.S. businesses to start looking to shift investments away from China, saying they would be better off in the event the U.S.-China trade war lasted for a long time.

“We want them to be in places where they’re trading partners that respect us and trade with us fairly,” he said on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

During his meeting with Johnson on Sunday in France, Trump was asked if he had second thoughts about his latest escalation.

“Yeah, sure. Why not?” he said.

The reporter repeated the question and Trump replied: “Might as well. Might as well.”

A second reporter followed up again, asking if he had second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China.

“I have second thoughts about everything,” Trump responded.

Asked to clarify Trump’s remarks, Mnuchin, who is one of the lead U.S. negotiators in trade talks with Beijing, said Trump remained resolute in trying to force concessions from China.

Another top official said he did not think Beijing would retaliate for the latest increase in tariffs.

“I think his was an action to respond to their action. So I doubt whether they’re going to take another step,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Mnuchin said Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were now “enemies” on trade, despite an otherwise good relationship.

“President Xi is still his friend,” he said. “But as it relates to financial issues and trade, we have become enemies. We’re not making progress.”


Reporter Says He’ll Sue Over Suspension of White House Pass

A Washington reporter for Playboy says he’ll sue over his one-month suspension from the White House.

A lawyer for reporter Brian Karem announced plans in a statement Friday to challenge the suspension in federal court.

The White House suspended Karem for a month after his heated Rose Garden discussion with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka on July 11.

Attorney Theodore Boutrous calls the suspension a violation of First Amendment principles protecting freedom of the press.

The White House accuses Karem of escalating the exchange with Gorka, which the reporter denies.

Trump Meeting With Aides on Afghanistan ‘Went Very Well’, Talks Proceeding – White House

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US President Donald Trump’s meeting with top security advisers and cabinet officials on Afghanistan peace talks went well and negotiations will proceed, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

“Trump just concluded a meeting at Bedminster, NJ, with members of his national security team, including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Defence Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford, National Security Advisor Bolton, and Ambassador Khalilzad, United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. Discussions centered around our ongoing negotiations and eventual peace and reconciliation agreement with the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan. The meeting went very well, and negotiations are proceeding”, Gidley said in a statement on Friday.

The peace plan is reportedly expected to end almost 18 years of conflict and formalize a significant withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

The Newsweek magazine reported earlier this week that it had learned from senior Pentagon officials US troops had been ordered to limit nearly all combat operations against the Taliban and stop advising the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. However, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan denied the reports.

The United States and Taliban are attempting to reach a peace deal that would include the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the movement’s guarantee that the country will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists. The eighth round of talks ended earlier this week with no apparent breakthrough.

Afghan Defence Minister Asadullah Khalid has said that even if there are no foreign forces in the country, the Islamic republic will still be able to protect itself.

For almost two decades, Afghanistan has suffered instability due to the continuous insurgency of the Taliban movement and the Daesh terrorist organization.


White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham weighing daily press briefings

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is willing to consider bringing back daily White House press briefings, a tradition in prior administrations.

In an interview with Sinclair’s Eric Bolling, her first since becoming press secretary, Grisham said of restoring the daily briefings, “We’re going to talk about it. That’ll be ultimately up to the president.”

Grisham went on to question whether bringing them back was necessary, saying, “The president’s also — he’s so accessible, so right now I think that’s good enough.”

Grisham replaced Sarah Huckabee Sanders as press secretary in June, when Sanders announced she would be departing the role.

Before announcing her departure, Sanders had not held a press briefing since March, although she had been mulling the idea of no longer holding them since January.

At the time, President Trump came to Sanders’ defense in a tweet.

“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press,” he wrote.Enlarge Image

“I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

Following news of Sanders’ departure, however, the New York Times reported that White House officials were considering whether to reinstate the daily briefings.


Trump wants Israel to block Omar and Tlaib from visiting: Report

“The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Saturday.

Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are expected to travel to Israel on Aug. 18 to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Both are supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement to isolate Israel, which the House voted 398-to-17 to condemn on July 23. Omar and Tlaib voted against the resolution.

Trump has feuded with Omar and Tlaib in recent months, targeting them and their fellow freshmen lawmakers Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.

On July 14, Trump tweeted that the four lawmakers should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Democrats and some Republicans criticized the tweets as racist, and 235 House Democrats and 4 Republicans voted to condemn the president’s remarks.


Trump: ‘There’s no strategy’ in attacks on Cummings

President Trump on Tuesday said his ongoing barrage of attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and the city of Baltimore are not part of a larger political strategy, telling reporters he’s “pointing out facts” in repeatedly criticizing the city’s conditions.

“There’s no strategy. I have no strategy. There’s zero strategy,” Trump said upon returning to the White House from a trip to Jamestown, Va.

All it is is I’m pointing out facts,” he added. “The most unsafe city in our country is Baltimore.”

He repeated his assertion that Cummings, who represents parts of Baltimore, should use his power as House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman to investigate the city’s use of federal funds.

Asked why he has focused his rage on Cummings instead of local leaders over the plight of Baltimore, Trump initially denied he was angry but later chastised the lawmaker for his fierce criticism of conditions at the southern border.

“I’m just telling you the facts,” Trump said. “I’m not angry at anybody. I’m just saying Elijah Cummings has been there for 26 years. … He’s seen these mayors get thrown out, thrown out, thrown out. They’re all friends of his.”

While some allies have argued Trump is making a case to black voters and might view stoking racial tensions as politically advantageous, the president’s comments on Tuesday suggest he was merely lashing out at a vocal critic.

The president has waged a days-long onslaught of criticism directed at Cummings and the city of Baltimore. He has denigrated the city as a “very dangerous & filthy place” where “no human being would want to live” and claimed Cummings is racist.

The comments have drawn widespread backlash among Democrats, some of whom have decried Trump’s attacks on their colleague as racist. 

The president asserted again on Tuesday afternoon that “many” African Americans had called to thank him for bringing attention to Baltimore, but he did not elaborate further.

He also rejected the findings of a new Quinnipiac University poll that found 80 percent of black voters believe Trump is racist, blaming “the fake news” for failing to properly report what he’s done for African Americans.

“If the news reported it properly of all of the things I’ve done for African Americans … I think I’d do very well with the African Americans,” Trump said. “And I think I’m doing very well right now.”

The president and his allies regularly cite low unemployment rates and criminal justice reform as accomplishments benefiting minority communities.


Senate sustains Trump veto of three bills blocking Saudi arms deal

The Senate voted Monday to sustain President Trump’s veto of three measures blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, providing a victory for the administration and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in their efforts to bolster security in the Middle East.

Lawmakers in both parties passed the measures blocking the sales earlier this summer, but Republican opposition was far too weak to threaten Trump’s vetoes.

The House cleared the measures to block Trump on July 17 with just a handful of GOP votes. The Senate passed the resolutions a month earlier with the backing of about half a dozen GOP lawmakers.

The trio of votes on Monday to override the measure again earned the support of only a handful of GOP lawmakers. A two-thirds vote in favor of each of the three veto override measures was needed for passage, and it fell far short of that with about 45 votes each.

Staunch opponents of the arms sales argued the U.S. must take a firm stand against extremism and human rights violations committed by the Saudis, namely the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, whose killing was carried out with the knowledge and approval of the king, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Congress voted to block the president after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo authorized $8.1 billion in arms sales to Middle Eastern allies, including the Saudis and the UAE.


Mueller fallout: Highest-ranking House Democrat to date calls for Trump impeachment

Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., became the highest-ranking House Democrat to call for opening an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

“I deeply respect the committee work of House Democrats to hold the president accountable, including hearings, subpoenas and lawsuits. All of our efforts to put the facts before the American people, however, have been met with unprecedented stonewalling and obstruction,” the sixth-ranking House Democrat said in a statement Thursday evening, adding, “That is why I believe we need to open an impeachment inquiry that will provide us a more formal way to fully uncover the facts.”

Clark made her announcement the day after the former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before two House committees about his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, possible coordination with the Trump campaign and subsequent efforts by the president to obstruct the probe.

“Since the release of the Mueller report in April, it has been clear that the president committed impeachable offenses by welcoming interference from a hostile foreign power in the 2016 election and then attempting to obstruct the investigation into his unpatriotic actions,” Clark said. “Moreover, he said he would do it all again if given the chance.”

Three other House Democrats also publicly called for moving ahead with impeachment since Mueller’s testimony — Reps. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware — which brings the number to 93 Democrats who are backing an impeachment inquiry, according to an NBC News count.

There has been an active discussion for several months inside the House Democratic caucus about whether a formal impeachment inquiry should be launched.


Joe Biden: Donald Trump ‘Won Fair and Square’ in 2016

Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted that President Donald Trump won the 2016 election “fair and square” through the Electoral College.

Biden, one of the few Democrats running for president who has not expressed support for abolishing or tinkering with the Electoral College, discussed why he believed Trump did so well in the Midwest during an interview with the Indianapolis Star on Thursday.

“I think he made headway because we stopped talking to our base,” Biden said regarding Trump’s 2016 performance. “And that’s not a criticism of Hillary [Clinton]. It’s just the way in which we got sucked into the last election talking about whether he touched women or whether, you know, it all got into … we didn’t talk much about the issues.”

Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Warren said at the time.

Her endorsement was quickly echoed by other 2020 Democrats, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) struck a slightly less definitive stance, but still admitted she was open to the idea.

While his competitors were jumping over themselves to signal their support for majority rule, Biden remained quiet. Since announcing his campaign in late April, the former vice president has likewise not discussed the issue.

His Senate voting record, though, indicates that Biden opposed a similar push during the early portion of his career. As the Daily Signal reported last month, Biden was among a handful of Democrats to cross party lines in 1979 and kill a constitutional amendment to scrap the Electoral College.