Trump says he would cooperate if Democrats ‘give us our rights’; Biden makes most direct demand for impeachment thumbnail

Trump says he would cooperate if Democrats ‘give us our rights’; Biden makes most direct demand for impeachment

Trump, meanwhile, continued to take aim at Biden and House Democrats, suggesting that he would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry unless Democrats “give us our rights.”The developments came a day after the White House said in a scathing eight-page letter that it would not cooperate with the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal on the grounds that it lacked merit.The letter was the latest escalation in a standoff with Congress, where Democrats are vowing to hold Trump accountable for pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been suspended.● White House escalates standoff with Congress, says it will not cooperate with impeachment inquiry of Trump.● Former national security officials fight back as Trump attacks impeachment as“deep state” conspiracy.● The revealing splits in GOP senators’ reactions to impeachment.7 p.m.: Vice President Pence dodges questions about whether he was aware of Trump’s interest in foreign countries investigating BidenIn a rare back and forth with reporters in Iowa, Pence refused to answer repeated questions about whether he was aware of Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.Pence mostly regurgitated White House talking points, according to a pool report. He said he never discussed Biden on his call with President Zelensky and said he’d be open to releasing that transcript.“What I can tell you is, all of our discussions internally, between the president and our team, and our contacts and my office with Ukraine, were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of European support and corruption,” Pence said.Asked if it was okay with him that the president said he wants a foreign country to investigate his political opponent, Pence said, “I don’t believe that’s the case.”“He said it,” a reporter pressed.“And again, I know that’s the way Chairman Schiff characterized it in his manufactured version of the transcript, but the American people should read the transcript and they will see that the president did nothing wrong, there was no pressure, there was no quid pro quo. The president simply raised issues of importance and interest to the American people,” Pence said and then ended the gaggle.5:30 p.m.: Whistleblower’s attorneys push back against claims of political biasAndrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, the lawyers representing the whistleblower whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, issued a statement Wednesday evening disputing claims that their client is politically biased.The whistleblower “has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party” and “has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch,” they wrote.They added that “in these positions our client has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials — not as candidates.”Bakaj and Zaid also said the whistleblower “voluntarily provided relevant career information” to the inspector general of the intelligence community “in order to facilitate an assessment of the credibility of the complaint.” The inspector general, they noted, concluded that the complaint “was both urgent and credible.”“Finally, the whistleblower is not the story,” they said. “To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.”5 p.m.: Trump repeats ‘electric chair’ claim about BidenIn an exchange with reporters after an event at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump repeated an unsubstantiated claim he made last month about Biden, arguing that if a Republican behaved in a manner similar to the former vice president, that person would “be getting the electric chair.”“Here’s a man who is on tape saying exactly what he’s going to do, in terms of corruption,” Trump said. “And he gets away with it. If that ever happened to a Republican, they’d be getting the electric chair right now. They’d be right now being walked into the electric chair. It’s a whole different standard.”Biden’s son Hunter served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.As vice president, Joe Biden had pressured Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, whom Biden and other Western officials, including Republicans, accused of not sufficiently pursuing corruption cases. At the time, the investigation into Burisma was dormant, according to former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.On Wednesday, Trump also went after Biden’s son personally, alluding to his struggles with drug addiction.“His son, who is at best incompetent, who was thrown out of the Navy … don’t want to say why, but it’s a subject we just discussed,” Trump said. Trump had just spoken about opioids.4:45 p.m.: Trump predicts his refusal to cooperate with inquiry will become a Supreme Court case
In his remarks at the White House, Trump said his refusal to answer House Democrats’ requests during the impeachment inquiry “probably ends up being a big Supreme Court case.”The remarks suggest that Trump does not plan to back down on his demands that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hold a House vote on starting an impeachment inquiry.At the same event, Trump appeared to open the door to cooperating with House Democrats — if they meet certain conditions.“We would, if they give us our rights,” he said.Trump and Republicans have criticized Democrats for not holding a vote to formally open their impeachment inquiry. They have also taken aim at Democrats for hearing witness testimony behind closed doors, even though some, such as acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, have testified publicly.“It’s the most unfair situation people have seen,” Trump said, contending that Democrats “have eviscerated the rules.”4:15 p.m.: Harris, Blumenthal call on Trump Cabinet members to preserve evidenceDemocratic Sens. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) sent a letter Wednesday to Trump’s Cabinet officials urging them to preserve evidence, protect whistleblowers and inspectors general and cooperate with “all ongoing and future investigations” into potential wrongdoing by the president.Both Harris, who is running for president, and Blumenthal are former state attorneys general.“The president has referred to the Intelligence Community whistleblowers as partisans and traitors, which is a clear attempt to intimidate them and additional whistleblowers from coming forward,” they said in the letter. “Just as whistleblowers should not be threatened by administration officials, inspectors general should not be interfered with or intimidated.”3:35 p.m.: Graham threatens to call Volker to testifySenate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday afternoon that he will call former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker to testify unless House Democrats release a full transcript of Volker’s closed-door deposition last week.“If House D’s refuse to release full transcript of Volker testimony as requested by Congressman Jordan, it will be an abuse of power,” Graham said in a tweet. He added: “If this continues, I will call Volker before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify publicly to ensure the full story is told.”Following Volker’s 10-hour deposition last week, Democrats said the former envoy had provided sufficient evidence of a quid pro quo by Trump in which military aid to Ukraine would be released in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens.But House Republicans, including Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), have contended that nothing Volker had said damaged the president and that there was no proof Trump had sought a quid pro quo. Jordan has in recent days ramped up his calls for Democrats to release Volker’s testimony.3:20 p.m.: Hillary Clinton presses Trump, Barr on election integrity Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton pressed Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr on election security after the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report that delivered a sobering assessment about the weaknesses that Russian operatives exploited in the 2016 campaign.“I’d love to hear how @realDonaldTrump and Secretary Barr are going to take steps to protect our elections in light of this bipartisan report on the attack on our election integrity,” Clinton tweeted.The report said in blunt language that Russians worked to damage Clinton while bolstering Trump — and made clear that fresh rounds of interference are likely ahead of the 2020 vote.3:10 p.m.: Trump campaign releases new ad attacking Biden and son
HunterWithin minutes of Biden’s scathing remarks about the president, Trump tweeted “Sleepy Joe Biden!” and embedded his campaign’s latest attack ad against the former vice president. The ad repeats Trump’s unfounded accusation that Biden had leaned on Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor to benefit his son Hunter, who was working for a Ukrainian gas company. The company had been investigated by the prosecutor.The ad is part of an $8 million TV commercial push by the Trump camp, which is airing this and another anti-Biden ad nationally and in local markets in early primary states.The ad also shows a montage of Democrats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and accuses them of wanting to overturn the 2016 election.3 p.m.: Sen. Joni Ernst refuses to say whether it’s ‘appropriate’ to ask for foreign campaign helpSen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wouldn’t answer a CNN reporter who repeatedly asked whether the senator thought it was appropriate for
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