'This is all going to blow up': Highlights from Day 5 of impeachment hearings
President Donald Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill urged lawmakers in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry on Thursday not to promote “politically driven falsehoods” that cast doubt on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” said Hill, who until July served as the director for European and Russian affairs at the White House National Security Council.
Hill spoke on the final day of scheduled public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee probing whether Trump asked Ukraine to investigate a political rival in return for a White House meeting or the release of U.S. security aid.
If the committee calls no further witnesses, Hill’s request may set the stage for the Democratic-led House’s wider consideration of whether to draft formal charges known as articles of impeachment against the Republican president.
In her testimony, Hill also said Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, was engaged in a "domestic political errand," and warned him that not coordinating with her or following the proper interagency process would end badly.
"I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, 'I think this is all going to blow up,' and here we are," she told impeachment investigators.
David Holmes, a staffer from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified on Thursday about a July 26 phone call in which he said he overheard Trump ask Sondland about the status of the investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.
“So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Trump asked Sondland, referring to Zelenskiy, Holmes said.
[NFA] U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday declined to say whether he still had confidence in U.S. Attorney General William Barr after the Department of Justice chief this week said there was no sign of major fraud in last month's presidential election. This report produced by Chris Dignam.
In a video released Thursay of the National Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C., U.S. President Donald Trump thanked all those who helped develop a coronavirus vaccine, describing it as a "Christmas miracle."
[NFA] U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed in talks Thursday that a COVID-19 relief package and a government funding bill should pass “as soon as possible." Colette Luke has more.
[NFA] U.S. President Donald Trump's pardoning of his former adviser Michael Flynn has fueled speculation over whether he could pardon other associates, and even members of his family, during his final weeks in office. Emma Jehle reports.
[NFA] A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion COVID relief bill that would fund measures through March 31, but it hasn't been embraced by the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Colette Luke has more.
[NFA] The White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on CBS’s ‘Face The Nation’ Sunday said she is increasingly concerned about a potential new spike in COVID-19 infections after Thanksgiving, as lawmakers continue to stall on legislation that could be crucial to vaccine distribution. Gavino Garay has more.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi went after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday for his decision to end some Federal Reserve COVID-19 emergency lending programs, a move also criticized by many Fed officials. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Dr. Fauci met with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team on Thursday. Fauci will continue in his role under the Biden administration at the National Institutes of Health. Fauci said they discussed “a variety of Covid-related topics.” Fauci said he has spoken previously with Biden's incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain. Fauci added that his Thursday meeting will likely be the first of a series of transition meetings with the team.
The NY Times reports that Pres. Elect Joe Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray on as FBI Director. A senior Biden official told The Times Biden was "not removing the FBI director unless Trump fired him." Business Insider speculated the move is part of the Biden team's broader effort to restore trust intelligence and justice systems. The institutions which have been in place to protect Americans has become overtly politicized under the Trump administration.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said Wednesday that Democrat Joe Biden "will be carrying Georgia, he is our president-elect," noting there were no substantial changes after the state's second recount demanded by Republican President Donald Trump's campaign, and calling out Trump's repeated claims of voter fraud.
Over the course of his campaign for re-election, President Donald Trump has frequently accused opponent Joe Biden of corruption. Despite lacking any evidence, Trump and his allies have focused on Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and his business dealings in Ukraine. According to Business Insider, ardent Trump supporters grew impatient enough with the impasse that they showed up at AG William Barr's home to demand action.
The public should expect a "flurry" of pardons before President Donald Trump leaves office. A source close to the White House suggested this, according to reports at CNN. The reality is that pardons happen at the end of almost all previous administrations. This source said Trump's advisers say it would perfectly fine for Trump to pardon his family members. He may also pardon other associates preemptively, even if they haven't been charged with any crimes.
U.S. President Donald Trump released a lengthy speech recorded at the White House on Wednesday, in which he repeated his unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud, a day after Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread fraud that could change the outcome. This report produced by Chris Dignam.
When asked by a reporter on Wednesday if the White House was setting a good example by holding in-person holiday parties during a pandemic, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said "if you can loot businesses, burn down buildings, engage in protest, you can also go to a Christmas party."
The mayor of Austin, Texas, told his constituents on a video call last month to 'stay home' and avoid unnecessary travel. The message was a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus in the city and across Texas, as COVID-19 patients are already overwhelming hospitals. But according to Business Insider, Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, neglected to mention where he was when he filmed the public service announcement.
On Wednesday, Democrats will pick up a Senate seat when former astronaut Mark Kelly is sworn in as a US senator for Arizona. Kelly defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally last month. Other senators-elect will have to wait until January to be sworn in for the new Congress. CNN reports that Kelly is able to take the oath of office right away since he won a special election. The swearing-in is slated to take place Wednesday afternoon.
Sir Keir Starmer says the Labour Party has presented “a strong united front” over the last few months despite “different opinions” on a Brexit deal. Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on a post-Brexit trade agreement are currently taking place in Westminster. The Labour leader’s comments come amid reports of a shadow cabinet split on support for the deal. Report by Jonesia. Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/itn and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/itn