Free Press? Nope. Biden admin wants to influence media coverage of Kevin McCarthy Impeachment Inquiry

Hunter and Joe

Important Takeaways:

  • Biden’s White House will send letter to CNN, NY Times and other top outlets demanding them to probe ‘lies’ behind GOP’s plan to impeach president
  • The Biden administration has been blasted over plans to send out a letter to major news organizations demanding they probe the ‘lies’ of the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry.
  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an official impeachment inquiry on Tuesday over allegations of corruption and involvement in son Hunter’s business dealings, setting off fiery reactions from Democrats.
  • Ian Sams, a special assistant to the president and senior advisor to the White House Counsel’s Office, penned a letter to both conservative and liberal-leaning outlets, slated to be distributed Wednesday in an apparent attempt to influence their coverage. Among outlets targeted are CNN, the New York Times, the Associated Press and Fox news.

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Trump says he might be willing to testify in impeachment inquiry

Trump says he might be willing to testify in impeachment inquiry
By Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday indicated publicly for the first time that he might be willing to testify in the impeachment inquiry over his efforts to pressure Ukraine “even though I did nothing wrong.”

Lawmakers in the Democratic-led impeachment process in the U.S. House of Representatives have not formally called Trump as a witness in the inquiry into whether he used foreign policy to try to get Ukraine to investigate domestic political opponent Joe Biden.

During former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, Trump said he was willing to testify but ultimately gave only written answers. House Democrats said on Monday they are investigating whether those answers are untruthful, according to CNN.

Denying any wrongdoing, the Republican president has railed on Twitter and elsewhere against the impeachment inquiry and attacked witnesses by name.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on Sunday in a CBS interview that Trump has every opportunity to present his case, including coming before intelligence committee hearings.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump said on Twitter.

At the heart of the inquiry is a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into former U.S. Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

The hearings could pave the way for the House to approve articles of impeachment – formal charges – against Trump. That would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Trump’s removal.

House Speaker Pelosi, in her interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” said: “The president could come right before the committee and speak all the truth that he wants if he wants to take the oath of office … or he can do it in writing. He has every opportunity to present his case.”

Trump’s written answers to federal investigators in the Mueller probe were under renewed scrutiny on Monday, CNN said. The House’s general counsel told a federal court in Washington that lawmakers were examining whether the answers were untruthful, the report said.

Last week, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, testified in the trial of Trump ally Roger Stone that Trump’s 2016 campaign was keen to keep abreast of the release of emails by WikiLeaks website potentially damaging to the Republican’s opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Gates’ testimony appeared to conflict with sworn written statements that Trump gave Mueller, CNN reported.


The public phase of hearings shifts into higher gear this week when a parade of officials will face questioning by Democratic lawmakers seeking details that could link Trump to a pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Eight more witnesses are due to testify in the second week of the televised hearings. They include Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, whose direct interactions with Trump are likely to be a main focus in the investigation of whether the president made security aid to Ukraine contingent on it agreeing to dig up dirt on Biden, who is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in 2020.

Several witnesses testified last week that they were alarmed over the pressure tactics used against Ukraine, as well as the role of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The latest round of hearings will stretch from Tuesday to Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats are looking into whether Trump abused his power in part by withholding $391 million in aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Kiev to investigate Biden. The money, approved by the U.S. Congress to help U.S. ally Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists, was later provided.

At the first impeachment hearing last Wednesday, Republicans repeatedly blasted Democrats for not calling an anonymous whistleblower to testify publicly or behind-closed doors. The whistleblower account of the July 25 call led to Democrats opening the inquiry.

“There’s one witness, one witness that they won’t bring in front of us, they won’t bring in front of the American people, and that’s the guy who started it all, the whistle-blower,” Republican Jim Jordan said on Nov. 13.

Democrat Peter Welch responded at the time, “I would be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick, Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Karen Freifeld, Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey and Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Grant McCool; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Trump may read summary of Ukraine call in ‘fireside chat’: interview

Trump may read summary of Ukraine call in ‘fireside chat’: interview
By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” U.S. President Donald Trump exhorts regularly on Twitter, referring to a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that led to an impeachment inquiry. Now he is threatening to do just that – on live television.

Trump told the Washington Examiner he would not cooperate with congressional impeachment proceedings and might read out loud a transcript of a July 25 call in which Trump asks President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a domestic political rival.

“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump told the Examiner in an interview. “At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”

Trump’s reference to the fireside chat recalled the informal evening radio addresses President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to reassure Americans facing hardships during the Great Depression – a far cry from a U.S. president defending himself against impeachment.

The Trump administration in September released a detailed summary of the 30-minute call – not a precise transcript – based on notes taken by aides, as Democrats in the House of Representatives began looking into Trump’s call following a whistleblower complaint.

The House, which is controlled by Democrats, approved rules on Thursday for the next, more public, stage in the inquiry into the Republican president’s attempt to have Ukraine investigate a domestic political rival.

The inquiry centers on whether Trump solicited foreign interference and aid in a U.S. election, which federal law prohibits. Democrats are also investigating whether Trump withheld $391 million in American aid to vulnerable Ukraine, who faced a military threat from Russian-backed separatists, as leverage to get Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. [

Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 presidential election. Hunter Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing on their part.

Current and former Trump administration officials have testified behind closed doors that the White House went outside normal diplomatic channels to pressure Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. He said his administration would continue to not honor document requests and subpoenas.

He told the Examiner he would fight back with a defense of the Ukraine call and use his well-honed art of the slogan, offering T-shirts emblazoned with “Read the transcript.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)