Senior Trump admin official Mina Chang resigns after embellishing resumé
Mina Chang resigned Monday, six days after an NBC News report about her resume inflation and hours after NBC asked her about newly discovered false claims.
Trump and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham initially billed Trump's visit as the first part of the President's annual physical. But two days later, the President's doctor described the hospital visit as an "interim checkup," a term physicians told CNN implies a separate visit that is not part of an annual physical.
In a bid to quell concerns and speculation surrounding the visit, the White House released a memo from Dr. Sean Conley, the President's physician, describing the visit as "a routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year."
Despite speculation otherwise, he said Trump "has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues."
The immediate effect of Conley's memo was to bolster the White House's claims that Trump was not being treated for an urgent medical issue. But the memo also revealed a shift in the White House's explanations for the purpose of Trump's visit to Walter Reed.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Tuesday he wishes the President "well" from "whatever he's recovering from."
While the White House has maintained since Saturday that Trump's visit to Walter Reed was "routine" and that Trump had no symptoms that prompted the visit, Grisham initially claimed that Trump was getting a head start on "portions of his routine annual physical exam."
"Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed," Grisham said in a statement on Saturday.
Trump made the same claim in a tweet late Saturday night, calling the visit "phase one of my yearly physical" and saying he would complete his physical "next year."
But on Monday, while Grisham continued to insist that Trump's visit was "routine," she called it a "checkup" and made no mention of it being part of Trump's "annual physical." And then came Conley's memo.
Trump on Tuesday continued to refer to the visit as a "very routine physical," despite the new language used by Grisham and Conley's memo.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, former Vice President Dick Cheney's longtime cardiologist, said he remains "very skeptical" of the White House's explanation, particularly because the White House did not disclose what exam Trump underwent beyond having blood drawn.
"The President has a physician with him every day and access to 24/7/360 care," said Reiner, who was in touch with the White House on Monday about Trump's visit to Walter Reed. "I have no doubt he was taken to Walter Reed to do something specific and separate from 'a quick exam and some bloodwork.' All that can be done at the White House."
Dr. Jennifer Peña, who served as physician to Vice President Mike Pence until May 2018, called the "interim checkup" and "annual physical" characterizations "very" different.
"Routine annual is where we do a comprehensive history and physical exam, with any necessary labs and studies," she said, while noting that an "interim checkup" suggests a "follow up" visit for a condition or medication that is being monitored.
Dr. John Sotos, a cardiologist who studies the medical history of US presidents, said he was reassured by the memo on Trump's health and that "the most serious concerns are largely eliminated."
He said the need for an "interim checkup" between annual physical exams nonetheless raised questions.
"He described this as a routine, planned interim checkup ... the question is why would they plan an interim checkup? In other words, if his state of health in February is so good, why would there be the need for an interim?" said Sotos, who is currently the CEO of Expertscape. "We obviously haven't had a full explanation of the decision-making that went into this."
It's still not clear exactly what testing Trump underwent on Saturday and why he was unable to get the exam done at the White House, which has a clinic that can handle most preventive care needs.
Conley only said that the medical portion of Trump's visit to Walter Reed lasted "a little more than an hour" and that he "did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations."
Sotos noted that certain cardiac exams, such as an electrocardiogram, are not considered specialized. Trump has a common form of heart disease.
Conley also disclosed that Trump got a blood test, revealing a decrease in his cholesterol levels after his doctors earlier this year increased the dosage of his cholesterol-lowering medication.
Multiple sources and experts have said that the President's trip to Walter Reed was abnormal or outside of the protocol for routine visits to Walter Reed. The White House has not denied this, but Conley claimed "due to scheduling uncertainties, the trip was kept off the record."
(CNN) The question coming into Wednesday was whether Gordon Sondland would try to save himself or save President Donald Trump.
He chose himself.
Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, in his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee, laid out in no uncertain terms how he was part of a broader effort to force the Ukrainians to open an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for a White House meeting.
"I followed the directions of the President," said Sondland.
Later, he added:
"Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19, days before the Presidential call. As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to 'run a fully transparent investigation' and 'turn over every stone' were necessary in his call with President Trump."
Which, well, wow.
That statement disrupts -- actually, destroys -- the defenses of both the White House and congressional Republicans who have insisted that the Ukrainians had no clue that there were any preconditions to getting what they wanted most -- a meeting between Zelensky and Trump and then, later, the release of the nearly $400 million in military aid from the US to Ukraine.
And just in case there is any doubt as to what Sondland is saying, he made it plain:
"I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes."
Before we go any further, it's important to note that Sondland was appointed to his ambassadorial role by Trump. Sondland had financially supported Trump's inauguration -- to the tune of a $1 million donation. Sondland isn't part of the so-called "Deep State." He isn't a "Never Trumper" (although he did originally support Jeb Bush in the 2016 primary.) Sondland was also testifying under oath, meaning that if he lies, he is committing a felony -- a lesson that Roger Stone learned the hard way last week.
Now for the bigger question: Where do we go from here?
The quid pro quo -- announce an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for a White House meeting -- is now beyond doubt. The next step seems to be figuring out just how high it went.
To that end, two other excerpts from Sondland's opening statement seem relevant.
"Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these pre-requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements."
"Within my State Department emails, there is a July 19 email that I sent to Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, Brian McCormack (Perry's Chief of Staff), Ms. Kenna, Acting Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney (White House), and Mr. Mulvaney's Senior Advisor Robert Blair. A lot of senior officials. Here is my exact quote from that email:
"'I Talked to Zelensky just now... He is prepared to receive Potus' call. Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will 'turn over every stone'. He would greatly appreciate a call prior to Sunday so that he can put out some media about a 'friendly and productive call' (no details) prior to Ukraine election on Sunday." Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney responded: 'I asked NSC to set it up for tomorrow.'"
In just those two chunks, Sondland makes clear that the President's personal lawyer, his energy secretary, his secretary of state and his acting chief of staff were all made aware of the need for the Ukrainians to announce an investigation into the Bidens in order to get the White House meeting they wanted.
And according to Sondland, Trump himself was well aware of all of this. "Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky," said Sondland, adding: "Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the President."
The timing of all of this is important, too. The email Sondland sent came six days before Trump and Zelensky got on the phone for that now-infamous phone call -- in which Trump asks the Ukrainian President for a "favor" (to look into a debunked conspiracy theory that the Ukrainians had the hacked Democratic National Committee server) and where Trump makes clear that he wants the Ukrainians to look into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
So it is beyond any doubt that the Ukrainians understood -- before their president got on the phone with Trump on July 25 -- that it in order to get what Zelensky wanted most (a White House meeting with Trump) he would need to announce the investigation into the Bidens.
Sondland's testimony, put simply, changes the game. It is now impossible for Republicans to claim that there was no quid pro quo. Or to suggest that the likes of Sondland were acting solely of their own accord, with no coordination from the higher-ups back in Washington. Or to suggest that this was all just normal stuff that happens every day in the world of international diplomacy.
The question now is not whether there was a quid pro quo. There quite clearly was. The question is whether Congress (and Republicans in Congress, specifically) believes that is an impeachable offense.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday there was clear evidence President Donald Trump had used his office for personal gain and undermined national security, but that no final impeachment decision had been made as House Democrats continued their impeachment inquiry into the Republican president.
Pelosi, speaking at her weekly press conference, reiterated that it was up to the House Intelligence Committee to determine how to proceed with the investigation as lawmakers continued to gather facts and hear from witnesses.
“The evidence is clear … that the president has used his office for his own personal gain and in doing so undermined the national security,” she told reporters.
The Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee on Thursday was conducting its fifth and final scheduled day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry centered on Trump’s request in a July 25 phone call that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy conduct probes of Trump’s political rivals. https://globalnews.ca/news/6201564/alaska-drilling-expansion-proposal/
The inquiry is also examining whether Trump’s withholding of $391 million in security aid to Ukraine was meant to pressure Zelenskiy to undertake the investigations.
Trump has denied wrongdoing.
The inquiry could lead the House to approve formal charges against Trump, known as articles of impeachment.
The Republican-controlled Senate would then hold a trial on whether to remove him from office, although few Republican senators have been critical of Trump so far.
Asked by a reporter whether the House was now ready to advance articles of impeachment against Trump, Pelosi said: “We haven’t made any decision.”
The nation’s leading Democrat also left open the possibility of additional hearings by the House Intelligence Committee or the interviewing of additional witnesses.
“We are not finished yet. The day is not over and you never know what testimony of one person may lead to the need for testimony of another,” Pelosi said.
She again issued an invitation to Trump to come forward, saying, “if you have any information that is exculpatory … because it seems as if the facts are uncontested to what happened. Now if you have contrary, if you have reason to convince people that something was different, under oath, please let us know.”
A former White House national security official excoriated Republican members of Congress at the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump for promoting a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.
Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former Russia point-person, told the House intelligence committee Thursday that “some of you” appear to believe Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in 2016.
As part of their defence of Mr. Trump, some committee Republicans have pushed one of the same conspiracy theories – that Ukraine interfered to help the Democrats in 2016 – that Mr. Trump had demanded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” Ms. Hill warned. “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
The Thursday session, which also included testimony from diplomat David Holmes, capped a week of public impeachment hearings that revealed the extent of Mr. Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to tarnish the Democratic Party and Joe Biden, a potential rival in next year’s elections.
The inquiry has heard evidence that Mr. Trump withheld both US$400-million in military aid and a White House invitation to Mr. Zelensky in an effort to press him into announcing on CNN that he would launch probes into Mr. Biden and the Democrats.
Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the panel, fired back at Ms. Hill that “it’s entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time.”
That Russia interfered in the 2016 election has been found by all U.S. intelligence agencies. They have not found any basis for the conspiracy theories on Ukraine, which have been promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ms. Hill also told the inquiry that efforts by Mr. Trump’s envoys to pressure Ukraine alarmed former national security adviser John Bolton.
On one occasion while discussing attempts by Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer, to push the Ukraine conspiracy theory, Ms. Hill said Mr. Bolton “looked pained” and that he said “Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade which was going to blow everyone up.”
At a July 10 White House meeting, Ms. Hill said, Ukraine’s then-national security adviser raised a request for Mr. Zelensky to be invited to the Oval Office to meet with Mr. Trump. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, “leaned in” to say there was an agreement that Mr. Zelensky would receive a White House invitation once he announced the investigations Mr. Trump wanted. Ms. Hill said Mr. Sondland told her the arrangement had been made through Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff.
Mr. Bolton promptly ended the meeting, Ms. Hill said, and later told her to report Mr. Sondland’s comments to White House lawyers. “Tell them I am not part of whatever drug deal Mulvaney and Sondland are cooking up,” Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton as telling her.
Mr. Holmes, meanwhile, detailed a key conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland on July 26. Mr. Holmes, a staffer in the American embassy in Kyiv, said he was shut out of a meeting at the embassy that day between Mr. Sondland and an adviser to Mr. Zelensky because Mr. Sondland had asked that there be no one in the room taking notes.
At a subsequent lunch on a restaurant terrace, Mr. Holmes said Mr. Sondland took out his mobile phone and called Mr. Trump at the White House. The President was speaking so loudly that Mr. Sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear.
According to Mr. Holmes’s account, Mr. Sondland told Mr. Trump that Mr. Zelensky “loves your ass.” Mr. Trump asked “so he’s going to do the investigation?” and Mr. Sondland replied “he’s going to do it. President Zelensky is going to do everything you want him to do.”
Subsequently, Mr. Holmes said he asked Mr. Sondland for Mr. Trump’s views on Ukraine. Mr. Sondland, he said, told him Mr. Trump did not care about the country and only cares about “big stuff that benefits the President – like the Biden investigation.”
Mr. Holmes also said he understood the President’s decision to freeze military aid was an effort to pressure Mr. Zelensky for the investigations. He said he believed the Ukrainians had the same impression.
“When they received no explanation they would have drawn that conclusion,” he said.
And she also effectively warned that the Republican defense of the President -- by peddling Ukraine conspiracy theories -- was in danger, in itself, of becoming an extension of the 2016 Russian election scheme that is tearing American politics apart and draining public confidence in its democracy.
Hill -- a British-born, non-partisan Russia expert who also wrote a book on Vladimir Putin -- was the star witness in a day of testimony that brought many of the threads of the Democratic case together. Using authoritative and clear language, Hill -- who left the Trump administration earlier this year -- spelled out her reactions to the pressure campaign unfolding before her eyes. But Hill said she only really began to understand the scandal herself while watching testimony from Trump's ad hoc messenger to the new government in Kiev Gordon Sondland.
"He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged."
The day's testimony, from Hill and US embassy official David Holmes who is stationed in Kiev, was a fitting coda to a dramatic week of testimony on Capitol Hill as the impeachment inquiry went under the bright lights of televised public hearings. Democrats are now meeting to decide if they have enough evidence to proceed toward writing articles of impeachment while the GOP appears to be more entrenched than ever in its defense of Trump.
Hill also helped the Democratic case by exposing the core of the defense of Trump built by GOP lawmakers.
She slammed the "fictional" conspiracy theories that Ukraine meddled in the US election that she said were dreamed up by Moscow in another attempt to fulfill Putin's goal of stoking political division and diminishing America's prestige.
Such claims were hyped by Republican House members who struggled to counter evidence of abuses of power by the President who demanded Ukraine's new government investigate Joe Biden.
They also sparked the Ukraine scandal itself -- since witnesses have claimed Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani put such stories in Trump's head, leading the President to wield his authority to set foreign policy not in US interests but for his own political ends.
"I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a US adversary, and that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016," Hill said.
Republican arguments debunked
Hill's testimony was a fitting conclusion to the televised hearings in the House Intelligence Committee as the focus now shifts to an almost certain full House vote to impeach the President.
Two weeks of dramatic hearings starring steely career officials braving the conservative media storm to tell the truth have left Trump's anti-impeachment offensive in tatters. In recent days, testimony has built a convincing case that Trump directed an effort to force Ukraine into investigating Biden by withholding an Oval Office presidential visit and military aid.
Sondland confirmed that there was a quid pro quo asked of Ukraine in return for a White House visit. He also said that Trump, acting through Giuliani directed the scheme and that other officials including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were all in the loop.
Other witnesses called by Republicans, including former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, did not as Trump's supporters hoped, clear the President.
Days of hearings also challenged Republican claims that the case is built on hearsay, that Trump never withheld recognition from Kiev and that its new government didn't even realize it.
The ultimate effect of all the new evidence is to cast Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, in which he asked for a "favor" in an even more sinister light.
Republicans have managed to land a few blows. They seized for instance on Sondland's admission that Trump never told him directly to use military aid over Ukraine for political leverage -- even though he said he presumed that was what was happening.
Trump and supporters ignored the entirety of the evidence in recent days to seize on that moment -- as if an entire court case could be undermined by a single less damning fact.
But the hearings often appeared to deepen Trump's plight by drawing out the kind of behavior that left him in danger of being only the third impeached President in the first place. Such antics make Trump difficult to defend among Senate Republicans running in swing states who are in trouble because of an unpopular President.
Trump's tweeted threats against several witnesses, including the former US Ambassador to Kiev Marie Yovanovitch, who was apparently fired to make way for the corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine, could be folded into articles of impeachment.
Trump slams Democrats as 'human scum'
Most often, Republicans were reduced to simply denying there was any evidence against Trump -- in a false narrative picked up by conservative media -- and attacking the credibility and patriotism of dutiful US public servants.
Their tactic was a sign that at a time of tribal politics and during a presidency that has evolved into a constant assault on the truth, a President shored up by a loyal party may enjoy impunity, no matter how significant the evidence.
"Keep fighting tough, Republicans, you are dealing with human scum who have taken Due Process and all of the Republican Party's rights away from us during the most unfair hearings in American History," Trump tweeted on Thursday.
But Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who steered the hearings, said that a clear case of presidential abuse of power was established.
And he challenged Republicans to take the charges seriously, reasoning that Trump's alleged offenses were worse than the Watergate crimes that led to Richard Nixon's resignation.
"What we're talking about here is the withholding of recognition in that White House meeting, the withholding of military aid to an ally at war. That is beyond anything Nixon did," Schiff said.
"The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump, it's the difference between that Congress and this one."
The next steps
Schiff's comments served as recognition that another turning point is looming for the impeachment effort.
The question going forward becomes not whether Trump abused his power for political gain -- the Democrats who hold a House majority ahead of any impeachment vote say he has.
Impeachment now becomes a debate over whether the evidence amassed by Democrats has reached the bar required to throw the President out of office -- less than a year before an election. In effect the American people must make a decision that is critical for impeachment in the short term and the 2020 election more broadly -- whether it is permissible for a President to use his vast authority to set foreign policy to demand political favors from another country.
"The evidence is clear that the President -- the President has used his office for his own personal gain and in doing so undermined the national security of the United States," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
She accused Trump of helping the Russians by temporarily withholding military assistance to Ukraine and of undermining the integrity of US elections.
"There is something very sad about all of this because the President is undermining and threatening the fabric of our democracy and the patriotism of so many of the American people."
But Democrats hoping to peel away GOP lawmakers in a House impeachment vote were disappointed to hear the assessment of former CIA operative Will Hurd, who is stepping down at the next election and would be less susceptible to conservative public opinion.
The Texas Republican said that Trump's call with Zelensky was "inappropriate, misguided foreign policy."
But he still thinks it's not impeachable.
"I have not heard evidence proving the President committed bribery or extortion," Hurd said.
House Intelligence Committee officials are now redoubling the work of writing a report laying out the Democratic case.
After Thanksgiving, the scene is expected to shift to the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee and hearings that will be used to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump.
Party leaders believe that despite lacking testimony from key players such as Pence, Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton they already have sufficient evidence to move ahead.
It may take some time to see whether the dramatic events of recent weeks have done anything to shift public opinion about Trump in a polarized nation. Democrats point to national polls showing a slim majority in favor of impeachment. Republicans brandish state surveys showing majority opposition.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy predicted Thursday that his party would lose no votes in an impeachment vote. That's one reason why the White House is confident that Trump will not be removed from office after a subsequent Senate trial, as reported by CNN's Jim Acosta Thursday.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he had saved Hong Kong from being destroyed by persuading Chinese President Xi Jinping to hold off on sending in troops to crush its anti-Beijing movement.
"If it weren't for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes," Trump said in a scattershot early morning interview with Fox News.
Trump's comments come as he mulls signing congressionally approved legislation in support of the anti-Beijing activists — or bow to Beijing's threats of retaliation if the laws pass.
Asked whether he would veto the legislation, green-lit by an overwhelming margin in Congress on Wednesday, Trump equivocated.
"I'll tell you we have to stand with Hong Kong but I'm also standing with President Xi. He is a friend of mine. He is an incredible guy," Trump said.
"I would like to see them work it out. We have to see them work it out," he added.
Trump cast his relationship with Xi as the bulwark keeping China from moving against the anti-Beijing movement that has rocked Hong Kong during almost six months of increasingly violent protests.
He added that a "million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong are not going only because I asked him, 'Please don't do that. You will be making a big mistake. It will have a tremendous negative impact on the trade deal.'"
Trump acknowledged that the tension over the former British colony — handed back to China in 1997 — has complicated efforts to strike a trade deal with Beijing, a source of economic uncertainty as Washington heads into an election year.
US and Chinese trade negotiators are "potentially very close" to a deal, he said.
President Donald Trump on Friday promoted a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, a day after a former White House adviser called it a "fictional narrative" and said it played into Russia's hands.
Trump called in to Fox & Friends and said he was trying to root out corruption in the Eastern European nation when he withheld aid over the summer. Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is at the centre of the House impeachment probe, which is looking into Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate political rivals as he held back nearly $400 million.
He repeated his assertion that Ukrainians might have hacked the Democratic National Committee's network in 2016 and framed Russia for the crime.
"They gave the server to CrowdStrike, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian," Trump said. "I still want to see that server. The FBI has never gotten that server. That's a big part of this whole thing."
Trump's claim on Ukraine being behind the 2016 election interference has been discredited by intelligence agencies.
CrowdStrike is an internet security firm based in California. They investigated the DNC hack in June 2016 and traced it to two groups of hackers connected to a Russian intelligence service — not Ukraine.
One version of the debunked theory holds that CrowdStrike is owned by a wealthy Ukrainian. In fact, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a Russian-born U.S. citizen who immigrated as a child and graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Continues to criticize former ambassador
The president repeated his claim one day after Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser on the White House National Security Council, admonished Republicans for pushing unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did," Hill testified before the House impeachment inquiry panel. "This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
Democrats have said the so-called Crowdstrike theory makes little sense, the latest being Ted Lieu of California.
"Emails stolen from that server hurt Clinton & HELPED TRUMP," said Lieu.
Trump in the interview also worked to undercut witnesses at the hearings, including the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump recalled from her post in Kyiv. The president called her an "Obama person" and claimed without evidence that she didn't want his picture to hang on the walls of the embassy.
"There are a lot of things that she did that I didn't like," he said, adding that he asked why administration officials were being so kind to her. "'Well, sir, she's a woman. We have to be nice,' he said they told him. Without providing details, Trump said he viewed her differently. "She's very tough. I heard bad things," he said.
He previously lashed out at Yovanovitch on Twitter while she was appearing before the House intelligence committee on Nov. 15, leading intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff to get her reaction in real time.
Trump said he does not expect to be impeached, claiming Democrats have "absolutely nothing" incriminating, despite days of public testimony by witnesses who said Trump withheld aid from Ukraine to press the country to investigate his political rivals.
"I think it's very hard to impeach you when they have absolutely nothing," Trump said, adding that if the House did vote to impeach him, he would welcome a trial in the Senate.
Trump told Fox & Friends that "there was no quid pro quo," in his efforts to push Ukrainian President Zelensky to open investigations of former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son's dealings in Ukraine.
The president's assertion is at odds with sworn testimony by impeachment witnesses.
An FBI lawyer is suspected of altering a document related to surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.
President Donald Trump, who has long attacked as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” the FBI’s investigation into ties between Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign, immediately touted news reports about the allegations to assert that the FBI had tried to “overthrow the presidency.”
The allegation is part of a Justice Department inspector general investigation into the early days of the FBI’s Russia probe, which was ultimately taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller and resulted in charges against six Trump associates and more than two dozen Russians accused of interfering in the election.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release his report on Dec. 9. Witnesses in the last two weeks have been invited in to see draft sections of that document.
The release of the inspector general report is likely to revive debate about the investigation that has shadowed Trump’s presidency since the beginning. It is centred in part on the FBI’s use of a secret surveillance warrant to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“This was spying on my campaign — something that has never been done in the history of our country,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on Friday. “They tried to overthrow the presidency.”
The allegation against the lawyer was first reported by CNN. The Washington Post subsequently reported that the conduct of the FBI employee didn’t alter Horowitz’s finding that the surveillance application of Page had a proper legal and factual basis, an official told the Post, which said the lawyer was forced out.
A person familiar with the case who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke to AP only on the condition of anonymity confirmed the allegation. Spokespeople for the FBI and the inspector general declined to comment Friday.
The FBI obtained a secret surveillance warrant in 2016 to monitor the communications of Page, who was never charged in the Russia investigation or accused of wrongdoing. The warrant, which was renewed several times and approved by different judges in 2016 and early 2017, has been one of the most contentious elements of the Russia probe and was the subject of dueling memos last year issued by Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
Republicans have long attacked the credibility of the warrant application since it cited information derived from a dossier of opposition research compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy whose work was financed by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“They got my warrant — a fraudulent warrant, I believe — to spy on myself as a way of getting into the Trump campaign,” Page said in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox’s “Mornings with Maria.” “There has been a continued cover-up to this day. We still don’t have the truth, but hopefully, we’ll get that soon.”
FBI Director Chris Wray has told Congress that he did not consider the FBI surveillance to be “spying” and that he has no evidence the FBI illegally monitored Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election. Wray said he would not describe the FBI’s surveillance as “spying” if it’s following “investigative policies and procedures.”
Attorney General William Barr has said he believed “spying” did occur, but he also made clear at a Senate hearing earlier this year that he had no specific evidence that any surveillance was illegal or improper. Barr has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate how intelligence was collected, and that probe has since become criminal in nature, a person familiar with the matter has said.
But Trump insists that members of the Obama administration “at the highest levels” were spying on his 2016 campaign. “Personally, I think it goes all the way. … I think this goes to the highest level,” he said in the Fox interview. “I hate to say it. I think it’s a disgrace. They thought I was going to win and they said, ‘How can we stop him?’”