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President Trump on Thursday pressed Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham to call former President Barack Obama to testify amid new developments surrounding the origins of the Russia investigation and efforts at the time to “unmask” Michael Flynn‘s name in intelligence reports.

“If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “He knew EVERYTHING.”

“Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it,” he continued. “No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!”

The extraordinary demand comes as Trump has increasingly sought to link his predecessor to efforts to investigate his associates in 2016 and 2017, dubbing it “Obamagate.” The tweet comes after Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., made public a list of Obama officials who purportedly requested to “unmask” the identity of Flynn, who at the time was Trump’s incoming national security adviser.

The list was declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and sent to Grassley and Johnson.

The roster featured top-ranking figures including then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Obama’s then-chief of staff Denis McDonough.

But Graham, in a detailed statement early Thursday afternoon, expressed reluctance to go so far as calling Obama to testify.

He said he is “greatly concerned about the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight.”

“No president is above the law,” Graham said in the statement. “However, the presidency has executive privilege claims against other branches of government. … As to the Judiciary Committee, both presidents are welcome to come before the committee and share their concerns about each other. If nothing else it would make for great television. However, I have great doubts about whether it would be wise for the country.”

Nevertheless, Graham said that his panel will “begin holding multiple, in-depth congressional hearings regarding all things related to Crossfire Hurricane starting in early June.”

Crossfire Hurricane was the FBI’s internal code name for the investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign were coordinating or colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

The president, earlier Thursday, blasted the Obama administration over the unmasking revelations and claimed that “it was the greatest political crime in the history of our country.”

“If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would have been in jail a long time ago, and I’m talking with 50-year sentences. It is a disgrace what’s happened. This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country,” Trump said during an exclusive interview Thursday with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “People should be going to jail for this stuff and hopefully, a lot of people are going to have to pay.”

As Fox News previously reported, Grenell had made the decision to declassify information about Obama administration officials who were involved in the “unmasking” of Flynn — whose calls with the former Russian ambassador during the presidential transition were picked up in surveillance and later leaked. His case has returned to the national spotlight after the DOJ moved to dismiss charges against him of lying to the FBI about those conversations, despite a guilty plea that he later sought to withdraw.

The declassified list, released Wednesday, specifically showed officials who “may have received Lt. Gen Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017 to unmask an identity that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report,” the document said.

“Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request,” the document said. “Only certain personnel are authorized to submit unmasking requests into the NSA system. In this case, 16 authorized individuals requested unmasking for [REDACTED] different NSA intelligence reports for select identified principals.”

The document added: “While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information. This response does not include any requests outside of the specified time-frame.”

Officials requesting such a name in this process do not necessarily know the identity in advance.

In a statement on Wednesday, Andrew Bates, Biden’s director of rapid response, downplayed the latest Flynn revelations.

“These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed — any suggestion otherwise is a flat out lie,” Bates said. “What’s more, it’s telling that these documents were selectively leaked by Republicans abusing their congressional powers to act as arms of the Trump campaign after having them provided by a partisan official installed for this very purpose.”

Meanwhile, Graham said earlier this week that he wants to know “how many unmasking requests were made, if any, beyond General Flynn regarding members of the Trump campaign team, family, or associates.”

Graham has been leading his committee’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation for months. A source told Fox News this week that the committee is considering inviting Brennan, Clapper and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to testify before the committee.

The source told Fox News that the committee would invite the ex-officials to appear but would subpoena them if they encounter resistance. The source told Fox News that Senate investigators are looking at “various pieces” coming from “various sources” as part of their investigation.

“This is a multilevel puzzle,” the source said. “They are looking at layer upon layer, and you have to be able to tell the story of exactly what was going on, and who was doing what, when, and why.”

Officials in the Obama administration have acknowledged that they moved to unmask some Americans in intelligence reports, but insisted that their reasons were legitimate. Thousands of unmasking requests have been made during both the Obama and Trump administrations, complicating any efforts to determine if certain requests may have been somehow improper.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump calls for Obama testimony amid unmasking controversy; Graham cool to idea

U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham is going “full throttle” with his review into the origins of the investigation into suspected Russia-Trump coordination in the 2016 election, with additional top prosecutors involved in looking at different components of the original probe, sources told Fox News.

Two sources told Fox News that Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri who was tapped by the Justice Department in February to review the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, is continuing to help with Durham’s investigation even after the DOJ’s move last week to drop the case against Flynn.

The sources told Fox News that interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea is also assisting with components of the investigation.

“They farmed the investigation out because it is too much for Durham and he didn’t want to be distracted,” one of the sources told Fox News.

“He’s going full throttle, and they’re looking at everything,” the source told Fox News.

The Justice Department declined to comment on Jensen and Shea’s involvement.

Any indication that Durham could be building a case against anyone involved in the original Russia probe, however, is sure to inflame tensions between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats — who already are ramping up accusations that these Justice Department reviews have become politicized. They slammed Attorney General Bill Barr for the DOJ’s decision Thursday to drop the Flynn case.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who was a key figure during Trump’s impeachment proceedings, called the decision “outrageous.”

“The evidence against General Flynn is overwhelming,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement. Nadler and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Friday also formally requested that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz launch an investigation into Barr’s “pattern of conduct that includes improper political interference.”

The DOJ determined that the bureau’s 2017 Flynn interview — which formed the basis for his guilty plea of lying to investigators — was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

The retired Army lieutenant general for months has been trying to withdraw his plea, aided by a new attorney aggressively challenging the prosecution’s case and conduct.

Breadcrumbs were being dropped in the days preceding the decision that his case could be reconsidered. Documents unsealed the prior week by the Justice Department revealed agents discussed their motivations for interviewing him in the Russia probe – questioning whether they wanted to “get him to lie” so he’d be fired or prosecuted, or get him to admit wrongdoing. Flynn allies howled over the revelations, arguing that he essentially had been set up in a perjury trap. In that interview, Flynn did not admit wrongdoing and instead was accused of lying about his contacts with the then-Russian ambassador – to which he pleaded guilty.

Jensen reportedly was the one who recommended dropping the case to Barr.

Meanwhile, Barr, during an interview with CBS News on Thursday, was asked whether he felt the FBI conspired to get Flynn fired from the Trump administration.

“I think, you know, that’s a question that really has to wait [for] an analysis of all the different episodes that occurred through the summer of 2016 and the first several months of President Trump’s administration,” Barr told CBS News, while adding that Durham is “still looking at all of this,” in reference to the Flynn case.

“This is one particular episode, but we view it as part of a number of related acts … and we’re looking at the whole pattern of conduct,” Barr said, noting that they were investigating before “and after … the election.”

Meanwhile, a source said that the “pattern of conduct” Durham is investigating includes misrepresentations made to the FISA court to obtain warrants to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

“Barr talks to Durham every day,” one source recently told Fox News. “The president has been briefed that the case is being pursued, and it’s serious.”

President Trump on Friday offered a vague, but ominous, warning as the Durham probe proceeds.

“It was a very dangerous situation what they did,” Trump said during an interview with “Fox & Friends” Friday. “These are dirty politicians and dirty cops and some horrible people and hopefully they’re going to pay a big price in the not too distant future.”

Trump was specifically reacting to newly released transcripts of interviews from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation that revealed top Obama officials acknowledged they knew of no “empirical evidence” of a conspiracy despite their concerns and suspicions.

The officials’ responses align with the results of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — which found no evidence of criminal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016, while not reaching a determination on obstruction of justice.

The transcripts, which were released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., revealed top Obama officials were questioned over whether they had or had seen evidence of such collusion, coordination or conspiracy — the issue that drove the FBI’s initial case and later the special counsel probe. They generally said they had not.

“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in 2017. “That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence. … But I do not recall any instance where I had direct evidence.”

As for Durham’s probe, multiple sources familiar told Fox News that he is expected to wrap up his investigation by the end of the summer.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Durham moving ‘full-throttle’ on Russia probe review, top federal prosecutors involved: sources

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday appointed several high-profile Democrats who have been outspoken advocates of impeachment in the past to sit on a new committee overseeing the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting House Republicans to blast the effort as “impeachment 2.0.”

Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who will chair the committee, announced six Democrats to serve on the committee:

House Financial Service Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., and Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Andy Kim, D-N.J.

The House voted last week to approve the creation of the committee to oversee the federal response, even as Republicans blasted the idea as politically motivated and argued Democrats would use it as a forum to attack the president.

Pelosi said the committee was designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery. She compared the panel to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.

“We must be sure that the money we put forth goes to those who need it most, in a way that addresses disparities in access to health care and credit,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “We also owe it to the American people to prevent waste, fraud and abuse and to protect against price-gouging and profiteering.”

She added: “As we respond to this unprecedented pandemic, there will be other opportunities for Member participation which have been suggested for inclusion in legislation.”

The members appointed to serve on the committee, however, were outspoken during the House impeachment inquiry, with some, like Waters, advocating for the president’s removal throughout his administration.

Waters, last year, tweeted that impeachment was “not good enough for Trump.” She said: “He needs to be imprisoned & placed in solitary confinement. But for now, impeachment is the imperative.”

Raskin was also in contention to be a House impeachment manager, though did not actually get the job. Maloney called for an impeachment inquiry in June 2019, even before the Ukraine controversy developed that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment trial.

Pelosi did not announce any Republicans for the committee. That decision is expected to be left to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

But a spokesman for McCarthy on Wednesday blasted the creation of the committee altogether.

“Instead of looking for innovative ways to help the American people, Speaker Pelosi has chosen to pursue ‘impeachment 2.0’ with a partisan and unnecessary oversight committee,” the McCarthy spokesman told Fox News.

The McCarthy spokesman noted to Fox News that the House already “has a standalone Oversight Committee, oversight authority in each committee, and three new oversight bodies established in the CARES Act.”

“The roster the Speaker has chosen makes clear that this is not an honest effort at transparency and accountability, but rather another attempt to politically damage the Trump administration,” the spokesman said. “During a time of unprecedented crisis, Congress must come together to speak with one voice – the Speaker’s so-called coronavirus oversight task force is simply another partisan pursuit.”

It is unclear which Republicans, if any, will be on the committee.

The Clyburn committee is just one of several methods created for oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also announced their intention to create a 9/11-style commission, set to launch in February 2021 “hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.”

That commission would be granted subpoena power to compel cooperation from federal, state and local government officials, as it examines government preparedness in advance of the pandemic.

The more than $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed last month also created the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz appointed Robert Westbrooks to lead.

Horowitz recently announced the launch of a website to track the trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief spending and “promote transparency” in the federal response.

The website also promotes a hotline, where individuals can submit allegations of fraud, waste, abuse or whistleblower reports, as well as a form where individuals can submit feedback on the federal government’s response to COVID-19.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: GOP decries ‘impeachment 2.0’ as Pelosi names top Trump critics to coronavirus oversight panel

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and nine other Democratic senators called for investigations into the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, demanding answers over whether “political expediency” rather than the country’s urgent public health needs have driven the administration’s decisions.

Warren, D-Mass., penned a letter to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Wednesday, saying that the Trump administration has been unable to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) and urgently needed medical supplies throughout the coronavirus crisis. She also accused the administration of creating “confusion and distress among states by seizing equipment orders and providing little transparency about decision-making.”

“The Trump administration appears to have made decisions about distributing life-saving supplies based on the electoral concerns of President Trump and his political allies rather than the most urgent public health needs,” Warren wrote.

Democratic Sens. Tom Udall, Ed Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Chris Van Hollen joined Warren in her letter.

“This confusion has been exacerbated by President Trump’s public statements suggesting that governors’ political support for his administration could influence how much support they receive from the federal government,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to HHS and FEMA inspectors general. “This obfuscation underscores the need for clarity as to how decisions regarding the seizure and redistribution of supplies are being made, and whether or not they are tainted with political interference.”

Warren, Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Markey, D-Mass., also called for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), the new entity established by the CARES Act passed last month, to investigate the “partisan and political nature of the White House’s actions.”

Warren, Blumenthal and Markey also raised additional concerns regarding reports that “the Trump administration may have delayed payments to American taxpayers in order to attach President Trump’s name to their checks, solely for either vanity or political benefit; and President Trump inserted crass political propaganda into his public briefings, which, if created during employee work hours, could be in violation of campaign laws, like the Hatch Act.”

“These incidents appear to indicate that the Trump administration has infused political and partisan interests into its response to both the public health and economic crises,” they wrote to PRAC. “Americans should not have to wonder whether their lives are being put at risk by the president’s concern for his political prospects amidst a public health and economic calamity.”

The call for additional investigations into the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus comes after several other congressional lawmakers have already set up panels dedicated to investigating and providing oversight of the federal efforts.

Earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris announced legislation Friday that would create a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to probe the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

The commission, according to the three Democrats, will “examine U.S. government preparedness in advance of this pandemic, the federal government’s response to it, and provide recommendations to improve our ability to respond to and recover from future outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics.” The commission will also examine state and local governments’ preparedness and response.

The commission is modeled after the 9/11 Commission, which was formed in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The commission would hold public hearings and events to obtain information, and, as Schiff suggested last week, would “possess subpoena power” to compel cooperation from federal, state and local governments.

The commission, though, is not expected to be established until February 2021 “hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election,” they said.

That announcement came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that she would create a separate House committee to oversee the administration’s coronavirus response, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn D-S.C.

Pelosi said that committee is designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery, and compared it to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.

Meanwhile, Trump earlier this month removed Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, who was tasked with monitoring the coronavirus economic relief plan. The president temporarily appointed the inspector general for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor the implementation of the new law.

A Congressional Oversight Commission and other positions, though, have been established to supervise spending by the Department of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Warren, Senate Democrats call for investigation into Trump administration response to coronavirus

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, in an interview Wednesday, would not rule out a new impeachment effort against President Trump over his alleged interference in the criminal case of his former associate Roger Stone.

Federal prosecutors on Monday had recommended a sentence of between 87 and 108 months in prison for Stone’s conviction on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress on charges that stemmed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But in a stunning reversal, as Fox News first reported, leadership at the Justice Department overruled the prosecutors on the case, scaling back the proposed sentence for Stone, which immediately led Democrats to accuse Trump of interfering in the process by tweeting about his displeasure with the DOJ. Trump denies it, and the case lately has been complicated further by questions over possible juror bias.

During an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Swalwell, D-Calif., was asked whether Democrats would look to launch a new impeachment inquiry on the new controversy.

“You know, we’re not going to take our options off the table,” Swalwell, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, told CNN. “We don’t wake up in the morning wanting to impeach him.”

He added: “We want to work with him on prescription drugs, background checks, and infrastructure, but we’re not going to let him just torch this democracy because he thinks that he’s been let off once and we’re not going to do something about it.”

Swalwell’s comments come as several Democrats on Capitol Hill have demanded investigations — and even the resignation of Attorney General Bill Barr — after the move to scale back the Stone sentence.

“Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted Wednesday. “Barr should resign or face impeachment.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also slammed Barr, saying he “ought to be ashamed and embarrassed and resign as a result of this action directly interfering in the independent prosecution of Roger Stone.” He also said the controversy was yet another example of “political interference by the president to alter the independent decisions of the Department of Justice.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., didn’t answer a question on whether Barr should resign but said: “I think the behavior is extremely egregious.”

The latest Democratic fervor comes after four career prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case, including one quitting outright, after leadership at the Justice Department (DOJ) overruled them.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., immediately called for an investigation into Trump’s alleged political intervention into Stone’s sentencing.

Schumer also took to the Senate floor and torched Senate Republicans who acquitted Trump on two articles of impeachment for enabling Trump’s conduct.

“Republicans thought the president would learn his lesson,” Schumer said in a veiled jab at Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “It turned out that the lesson he learned was not that he went too far — not that he needed to rein it in. The lesson the president learned was that the Republican Party will not hold him accountable no matter how egregious his behavior. Not now, not ever.”

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham wasn’t too keen on Schumer’s demand for an emergency hearing.

“Like I take everything with him [with] a grain of salt,” said Graham, R-S.C.

Fresh off of weeks of impeachment, Democrats raised similar alarm bells and phrases as during the Ukraine saga, saying the Stone matter is another example of political interference, abuse of power and President Trump thinking he’s above the law.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff ripped Trump for trying to influence the judicial system.

“It’s a shocking undermining of the rule of law in this country,” Schiff said, adding it’s “an abuse of the powers of his office.”

Another impeachment manager, lawyer and former judge, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, told Fox News: “This president’s behavior is just totally out of control. This is one of the most egregious things that I’ve ever seen.”

She stopped short of calling for Barr’s resignation but said: “We can’t sit back and not do something. The question is what.”

She ticked off the oversight tools House Democrats still have.

“It’s hearings. It’s investigation. It’s litigation. It’s subpoenas. It’s contempt. It’s all the same ones we’ve always had, but it’s a question of making sure that we’re strategic in what we do,” she said.

However, Trump on Wednesday denied interfering in Stone’s criminal case, while declining to say whether he’d consider a pardon for the GOP political operative.

“The fact is that Roger Stone was treated horribly and so were many other people,” Trump said. “Their lives were destroyed.”

“I want to thank the Justice Department — and I didn’t speak to them, by the way — they saw a nine-year sentence… nine years for something nobody can even define what he did,” Trump continued. “They put a man in jail, destroy his life, his family, his wife.”

He added: “Roger Stone — nobody even knows what he did… Frankly, they ought to apologize to a lot of people whose lives they’ve ruined.”

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Feb. 20.

Earlier this month, after a weeks-long Senate trial, the president was acquitted on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection to his pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this report.

Author: Brooke Singman, Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Democrat won’t rule out new Trump impeachment over Roger Stone case

President Trump easily defeated his primary rivals in Monday’s Iowa Republican caucuses, in the first indication that those attempting to take on the president inside his own party stand a slim chance of making headway against the incumbent.

Iowa results showed the president winning with roughly 97 percent of the vote over former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. The primary challengers walked away with about 1 percent each.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel congratulated the president, vowing he’ll carry the state in November.

While the focus has been on the Democratic contest Monday, Iowa Republicans also caucused at precincts throughout the state.

“The president has record support among Republican voters,” Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka told Fox News on Monday. “I am not concerned with those embarked on a vanity project.”

When asked how long he would stay in the Republican primary race after his defeat Monday night, Walsh campaign spokesman Charles Siler told Fox News on Monday that the former congressman “is keeping every option open.”

“He sees President Trump as the greatest threat to our republic, the exact thing our Founders feared in a leader,” Siler said, noting that the campaign has spent the last three weeks in Iowa and Walsh has visited the state nearly every week since he announced his candidacy in August.

“We’re leaving straight from Iowa to go to New Hampshire,” Siler said, noting that Walsh has been campaigning in New Hampshire “regularly” since he announced his run.

“We know this is a long-shot effort, but it’s an important one for the nation,” Siler said. “That’s why it’s so distressing that the GOP has canceled so many primary elections and blocked challengers in many other states.”

The Weld campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

During the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Trump came in second place — trailing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by nearly 4 percentage points.

While Weld and Walsh are not expected to pose a tough challenge for the president this primary season, the Trump campaign and more than 80 Trump surrogates were sprinkled across Iowa, speaking at Republican caucus locations. They were geared toward planting a flag in Iowa for the general election as much as ensuring a strong showing in the caucuses.

“We are training activists as staff in every corner of the state. We have held over 230 Trump Victory Leadership Initiative Trainings with over 1,700 attendees,” Gorka told Fox News. “The Iowans form the backbone of our program and are the keys to our success in November.”

“After the results tonight, the Democrat machine/attention leaves Iowa and will not be back until there is a nominee,” Gorka continued. “Meanwhile, Republicans will continue to work to keep Iowa in the president’s column in November.”

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale was joined in recent days in Iowa by a slew of Trump officials, like White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and five other members of Trump’s Cabinet.

Others out making the case for the president’s reelection were House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Lynne Cheney, R-Wyo.; Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; former Texas governor and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry; Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr.; and Mike Lindell, the inventor of “My Pillow.”

Iowa is considered a swing state in the general election. It was narrowly carried by the Democrats in the 2000 election and narrowly by Republicans in 2004. Then-Sen. Barack Obama captured the state by 6 points in 2012. And Trump won Iowa in 2016 by nearly 10 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump easily wins Iowa Republican caucuses

President Trump’s campaign raked in a whopping $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, fueled in part by a backlash from his base against House Democrats’ impeachment efforts and blowing past any of his would-be Democratic rivals.

The incumbent now starts the election year sitting on a nearly $103 million war chest.

Trump’s reelection campaign touted their fundraising efforts Thursday, noting that the fourth quarter marked the best fundraising quarter for the campaign in the 2020 cycle.

“President Trump’s unprecedented fundraising is testament to his wide grassroots support and his stellar record of achievement on behalf of the American people,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Democrats and the media have been in a sham impeachment frenzy and the President’s campaign only got bigger and stronger with our best fundraising quarter this cycle.”

He added: “The President’s war chest and grassroots army make his re-election campaign an unstoppable juggernaut.”

The campaign raised a total of $143 million in 2019.

The new figures represent only funds raised by the Trump reelection campaign and do not include funds raised by the Republican National Committee or any authorized joint fundraising committees.

Last month, however, Fox News exclusively reported on the RNC’s record-breaking fundraising numbers amid the impeachment drive against the president. The RNC hauled in $20.6 million in November and reported having $63.2 million in cash — marking the most cash-on-hand the party has had since before the 2012 presidential election.

“Democrats’ baseless impeachment charade has only served to bolster our base and attract more voters to our cause and the result is another record-breaking fundraising month,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News last month.

The GOP fundraising underscores how Republicans have sought to turn the impeachment fight to their advantage, tapping into an outraged base to fuel not only the president’s 2020 reelection effort but also a political offensive against congressional Democrats. Republicans were specifically using their November success to bolster their “Stop the Madness” campaign, a national counter-impeachment push targeting House Democrats that was launched in September.

As for Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls, Bernie Sanders’, I-Vt., campaign announced an eye-popping fourth quarter haul on Thursday of $34.5 million — the largest quarterly figure to date for any of the Democrats seeking to take on Trump. Sanders’ fourth-quarter fundraising numbers were $9 million more than he brought in during the third quarter.

The campaign noted that Sanders has raised over $96 million from over 5 million individual donations since he launched his campaign. The team added that the average contribution was $18 — and over 99.9 percent of donors have not maxed out and could contribute again. The Sanders campaign added that the overall haul did not include an additional $12.7 million the senator transferred from his other federal fundraising accounts, including his 2018 Senate reelection campaign.

While Sanders’ massive fundraising haul is still lower than the Trump campaign’s fourth-quarter figure, Democrats are at a comparative disadvantage because the large field of primary candidates is essentially divvying up the donor pool, while the Trump campaign faces little primary competition as it raises re-election funds.

Meanwhile, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign announced Wednesday that they brought in more than $24.7 million during the fourth quarter. Buttigieg’s fourth-quarter effort was roughly equal to his fundraising in the second quarter, but that figure dipped to just $19.1 million in the third quarter.

His campaign, this week, touted that the fourth quarter haul brought his total amount raised since he launched his campaign early in 2019 to over $76 million.

One candidate who could see a dip in fundraising for the fourth quarter is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who raised nearly $25 million in the third quarter but appeared to be scrambling to reach $20 million in the fourth, as her campaign made the unusual move of releasing its total to date early in order to drum up more cash.

“So far this quarter, we’ve raised a little over $17 million. That’s a good chunk behind where we were at this time last quarter,” an email sent Friday from the Warren campaign read. “Elizabeth Warren needs your help. Right now. The goal is $20 million for the quarter — that’s how much the campaign needs to keep our plans on track.”

But former Vice President Joe Biden will likely enjoy a boost in fundraising after bringing in just $15 million during the third quarter.

“We have the chance to make Q4 our biggest fundraising quarter yet. That would certainly be a big deal,” the former vice president said Sunday in a fundraising email to supporters.

Biden’s best fundraising quarter to date was the April-June period, when he brought in $21.5 million in the nine weeks after he declared his candidacy in late-April.

Fox News’ Sally Persons, Paul Steinhauser, and Andrew Craft contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump campaign blows past 2020 Dems with latest fundraising haul, sitting on over $100M

President Trump on Thursday challenged House Democrats to impeach him “fast” and ship the process over to the Senate, where he threatened to seek testimony from top Democrats including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy,” Trump tweeted, just before Pelosi announced that she wants the Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment.

“Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and so that our Country can get back to business,” he continued. “We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is.”

He added: “I was elected to ‘Clean the Swamp,’ and that’s what I am doing!”

The president’s tweets followed an hourslong hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, in what set the stage for the next phase of the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry, with majority-invited law professors making the case that the president did abuse the office of the presidency by asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens while withholding aid. But the sole witness called by Republicans argued the contrary — he said the legal case to impeach Trump was “woefully inadequate” and even “dangerous.”

Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday morning then dramatically called for the House to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.

“The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power,” Pelosi said.

“Our president leaves us no choice but to act,” she continued. “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.”

Trump hit back again following Pelosi’s announcement, accusing her party of trying to impeach him over “NOTHING” and warning that it could set a dangerous precedent.

“This will mean that the beyond important and seldom used act of Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind,” he tweeted.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in concurrence with the other chairs of committees involved – Schiff, D-Calif., and Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. – will now draft articles of impeachment. Should the House pass those articles, the impeachment inquiry would transform into a full-fledged Senate trial.

“@SpeakerPelosi & the Democrats should be ashamed. @realDonaldTrump has done nothing but lead our country – resulting in a booming economy, more jobs & a stronger military, to name just a few of his major accomplishments. We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted after Pelosi’s announcement.

Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and Trump allies hold chairmanships on key committees, with many of them signaling their interest in exploring issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings — such as the Bidens’ business dealings in Ukraine and alleged Ukraine interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But despite his threats, the president does not, alone, have the power to call witnesses to testify in those proceedings. In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.

A senior Senate Republican aide told Fox News last month that once they receive articles of impeachment, they will begin working on two resolutions — one that governs the timeline of the trial, and the other that sets up witnesses for closed-door depositions, as well as which witnesses will be required to testify on the stand.

The aide suggested that Republican senators – like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis. – could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial in their recent attempts to obtain documents and information from the administration and companies related to Hunter Biden.

Last month, Sen. Graham penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the natural gas firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.

Also last month, Johnson and Grassley penned a letter to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration to request records of multiple White House meetings that took place in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and Democratic National Committee officials

While Trump has sought to press an unsupported theory that Ukraine was tied to Democratic National Committee hacking, GOP lawmakers have sought details on other issues that are more grounded in published reports — like whether former DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa was improperly digging up dirt on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others with Ukraine’s help at the time.

Democrats did not grant GOP requests to call Biden’s son Hunter, Chalupa and others on the House side, and it’s unclear if Senate Republicans will at least attempt to call these and other witnesses.

But Thursday was not the first time the president has threatened to have Rep. Schiff appear as a witness. Last month, during an exclusive interview with “Fox & Friends,” the president said there was “only one person” he wanted to testify more than Hunter Biden.

“And that is Adam Schiff,” Trump said during that interview, also calling for the still-anonymous whistleblower to come forward to testify as well.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted the whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the call transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump threatens to have Schiff, Bidens, Pelosi testify in Senate trial as he dares House to impeach

President Trump on Tuesday defended blocking top officials from testifying as part of the House impeachment inquiry, arguing the decision was made to protect the office of the presidency and “future presidents” — even as he claimed he’d otherwise support the testimony.

“The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress. I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

“Other than that, I would actually like people to testify,” he continued.

He claimed that former national security adviser John Bolton, whom Democrats have sought for testimony due to his involvement in discussions central to the impeachment inquiry, could actually back his claims. While Democrats allege Trump delayed aid to Ukraine in order to seek the launch of politically advantageous investigations, Trump said Bolton “may know that I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country, & I wanted to know why nearby European countries weren’t putting up money also” — an argument Trump allies have made.

He added: “Likewise, I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony Impeachment Hoax. It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!”

The president’s tweet comes as the House is winding down its impeachment inquiry. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was largely leading the inquiry, said Monday that the panel would be working on its report to transmit to the House Judiciary Committee, which could prepare potential articles of impeachment, after Thanksgiving.

Democrats have subpoenaed top administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for records or testimony — but the administration has blocked them.

When asked Tuesday about the president’s tweet on testimony, Pompeo said cryptically, “When the time is right, all good things happen.”

Top current and former administration officials who testified last week as part of public impeachment hearings suggested that officials like Pompeo, Mulvaney and Perry were involved in efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations of Democrats.

The plot thickened as a federal judge on Monday ordered former White House counsel Don McGhan to comply with a congressional subpoena issued earlier this year in a separate matter.

The White House and McGhan have argued his testimony was protected by executive privilege, and therefore he was not able to testify as part of any congressional probes.

But U.S. District Court Judge Ketanki Brown Jackson ruled on Monday that if he wanted to assert executive privilege to avoid testifying, he would need to appear before Congress and do it himself, on a question-by-question basis.

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News the department would appeal Jackson’s decision and seek a stay pending that appeal. The order stirred immediate speculation about the implications for impeachment proceedings.

Should a higher court uphold the ruling, it could set a binding precedent affecting future disputes between Congress and the White House involving executive privilege, which generally allows the president and high-level officials to refuse to answer certain questions that might impair deliberative processes or compromise presidential communications and the separation of powers.

House Democrats, meanwhile, withdrew a subpoena earlier this month for former White House Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, less than two weeks after Kupperman asked a federal court whether he should comply with the order. Kupperman, who left the administration when Bolton exited in September, was slated to appear before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees as part of their impeachment investigation.

On Tuesday, his attorney said in a statement that the McGahn ruling does not affect his situation, and he continues to seek a ruling “resolving the question whether he is constitutionally obliged to obey the House’s demand that he testify or the President’s conflicting demand that he decline to do so.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Fox News’ Gillian Turner and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump defends move to block impeachment testimony, says he is protecting ‘future presidents’

House Republicans plan to call Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as one of their first witnesses in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump following the adoption of formal rules for the investigation, claiming he is a “fact witness” due to his office’s early involvement with the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the proceedings.

A source familiar with Republicans’ strategy moving forward in the impeachment inquiry confirmed to Fox News on Monday that GOP members plan to call Schiff, D-Calif., for questioning — even if they are unlikely to succeed.

The source told Fox News that Republicans want answers to questions like: “How many times did he meet with the whistleblower? What did they advise the whistleblower to do? How much was Schiff involved in this? Did he recommend the whistleblower give the complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, even though there was no intel component, so that he could be involved?”

Schiff maintains that he has not personally spoken with the anonymous whistleblower. However, it was revealed several weeks ago that the whistleblower at least had early contact with his office, essentially giving them a heads-up about the complaint concerning Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president.

Regarding that early discussion, the GOP source noted that Republicans could be interested in hearing from the “anonymous” Schiff staffer involved.

Republicans’ effort to devise a strategy going forward comes after the House approved rules for the process last week. While Republicans opposed the resolution and complained the rules were unfair, they still gave minority Republicans the ability to subpoena witnesses, with the concurrence of Democratic committee chairs. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee.

This process still gives Democrats final say over witnesses, however, and the GOP source acknowledged it’s unlikely they would go along with the efforts to call Schiff — who is essentially leading the impeachment probe.

But GOP lawmakers for days had telegraphed that they were interested in making the attempt.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Schiff is the “first person” who should be brought in, along with his staff.

Last week, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., publicly challenged Schiff to come before the judiciary panel.

“Come to the Judiciary Committee,” Collins said after the passage of the impeachment rules resolution. “Be the first witness and take every question asked of you. Starting with your own involvement of the whistleblower.”

Schiff’s office last month said that the whistleblower had reached out to them before filing the complaint in mid-August, giving Democrats advance warning of the accusations that would lead them to launch an impeachment inquiry days later. The inspector general complaint about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flagged concerns about efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.

A transcript released by the White House shows Trump making that request, but he and his congressional allies deny, and plan to continue to deny, that military aid was clearly linked to the request, or that there was any “quid pro quo.” Some witnesses coming before House committees as part of the impeachment proceedings have challenged that assertion.

Meanwhile, Republicans are also hoping to call the whistleblower to testify, according to the source, who pointed to Schiff’s recent reversal on the issue.

Schiff in September had previewed testimony from the whistleblower “very soon,” but in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.

The president, repeatedly, has called for the individual to testify.

“The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff. He must be brought forward to testify,” the president tweeted Monday morning. “Written answers not acceptable! Where is the 2nd Whistleblower? He disappeared after I released the transcript. Does he even exist? Where is the informant? Con!”

The whistleblower’s central allegation that Trump in July urged Ukraine to launch politically related investigations, however, has been supported by other witnesses as well as the call transcript released by the White House.

The whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, tweeted over the weekend that his client would provide sworn, written answers under penalty of perjury.

But late Sunday, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan seemingly rejected Zaid’s offer, saying, “written answers will not provide a sufficient opportunity to probe all the relevant facts and cross-examine the so-called whistleblower.”

Republicans also plan to continue to criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not holding a formal floor vote on the impeachment inquiry process until a month after announcing the probe, and for crafting rules they say limit their ability to subpoena witnesses.

According to another GOP source familiar with the impeachment process, Republicans plan to continue arguing that the entire impeachment inquiry against Trump is a “sham,” and push back against the substance of the inquiry itself.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: House Republicans plan to call Adam Schiff to testify in impeachment inquiry, say he is ‘fact witness’

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