Congressional report cites ‘overwhelming’ evidence against Trump

UNTV News   •   December 4, 2019   •   353

US President Donald Trump leaves 10 Downing Street during the NATO Summit in London on Tuesday, 3 Dec. 2019. EFE-EPA/WILL OLIVER

WASHINGTON — The Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives said Tuesday that its impeachment probe of President Donald Trump uncovered “overwhelming” evidence that the occupant of the White House has engaged in misconduct.

“The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress,” the Democratic-led panel said in its 300-page report.

The members of the committee, including Trump’s Republican allies, are due to vote Tuesday evening on whether to accept the report and forward it to the House Judiciary Committee as the basis for drafting articles of impeachment against the president.

Trump, according to the document, withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into launching an investigation of 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

That investigation – which never materialized – would have focused on Hunter Biden’s acceptance of a position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company in 2014, when his father was coordinating US policy toward Kiev as vice president under Barack Obama.

The intelligence committee report describes a “drastic” increase in pressure on Ukraine during the period between the July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the public revelations about that conversation due to the whistle-blower complaint filed by a US government official.

“In the weeks following the July 25 call, the President’s hand-picked representatives increased the President’s pressure campaign on Ukrainian government officials – in person, over the phone, and by text message – to secure a public announcement of the investigations beneficial to President Trump’s re-election campaign,” according to the document.

“To compel the Ukrainian President to do his political bidding, President Trump conditioned two official acts on the public announcement of the investigations: a coveted White House visit and critical U.S. military assistance Ukraine needed to fight its Russian adversary,” the report says.

Trump denies that delaying the nearly $400 million in eventually disbursed aid to Ukraine or his reluctance to invite Zelensky to the White House had anything to do with a desire that Kiev announce an an investigation of the Bidens.

But the report concludes that Trump did seek to extract such a commitment from Zelensky and that in so doing, he “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”

The text goes on to accuse the president of orchestrating an “unprecedented” effort to obstruct the impeachment probe.

Within minutes of the report’s publication, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the document “reflects nothing more than their (Democrats) frustrations” and “reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.” EPA-EFE

Trump to give TikTok’s Chinese owner 45 days to reach deal to sell — sources

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft Corp, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday (August 2).

U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. Trump said on Friday (July 31) he was planning to ban TikTok in the United States after dismissing the idea of a sale to Microsoft.

But following a discussion between Trump and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the Redwood, Washington-based company said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue negotiations to acquire TikTok from ByteDance, and that it aimed to reach a deal by Sept. 15.

It was not immediately clear what changed Trump’s mind. Banning TikTok would alienate many of its young users ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, and would likely trigger a wave of legal challenges. Several prominent Republican lawmakers put out statements in the last two days urging Trump to back a sale of TikTok to Microsoft.

The negotiations between ByteDance and Microsoft will be overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. government panel that has the right to block any agreement, according to the sources, who requested anonymity ahead of a White House announcement. Microsoft cautioned in its statement that there is no certainty a deal will be reached. (Reuters)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

Trump shifts rhetoric, warns virus is getting worse and urges use of masks

UNTV News   •   July 22, 2020

President Donald Trump warned Americans on Tuesday (July 21) that the toll from the novel coronavirus would get worse before it got better, and encouraged Americans to wear a mask if they cannot maintain social distance from people around them.

In his first briefing in months focused on the pandemic, Trump told reporters at the White House that the virus would probably get worse before it gets better, in one of his first recent acknowledgments of how bad the problem has become.

“Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

In a shift in rhetoric, Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks, and pulled a mask out of his pocket, saying he carries it around.

“I mean I carry the mask,” he said, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a blue face mask. “And I will use it gladly, no problem with it, and I’ve said that. And I say, if you can, use the mask. When you can, use the mask. If you’re close to each other, if you’re in a group, I would put it on when I’m in a group.”

Trump, who downplayed the virus in its early stages and has been focused on reopening the economy in recent months despite an increase in cases, has been reluctant to wear a mask himself in public. He wore one for the first time in public during a recent visit to a military hospital but has otherwise eschewed putting one on in front of the press.

Mask-wearing has become a partisan issue, with some Trump supporters saying being required to do infringes on their liberties.

As coronavirus cases skyrocket across the country, including in politically important states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, the president is shifting his tone to try to get the number of cases under control as he fights for re-election against Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

He urged young Americans to avoid crowded bars where the virus could spread.

“We are imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings. Be safe and be smart,” he said.

Trump again argued that the virus would disappear at some point, but most of his comments on Tuesday were largely a sober recognition of how bad the problem has become.

Trump sought to leave some optimism about scientific developments in vaccines and treatments even as he acknowledged the grim statistics at present.

When asked if the U.S. would cooperate with China on a vaccine, Trump, who several times called the virus “the China virus” during the news conference, said Washington would.

“Yeah, we’re willing to work with anybody that’s going to get us a good result. We’re very close to the vaccine. I think we’re going to have some very good results,” he said.

Nearly 142,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. (Reuters)

(Production: Arlene Eiras)

Trump replaces campaign manager amid slide in opinion polls

UNTV News   •   July 17, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump demoted his longtime campaign manager on Wednesday (July 15), a move aimed at shoring up his re-election bid as he trails Democratic candidate Joe Biden in opinion polls less than four months before the November 3 vote.

Trump said campaign manager Brad Parscale would be replaced by Bill Stepien, who has been the deputy campaign manager. Parscale will shift to a role focused on digital and data strategy, the president said.

A leadership shakeup had long been rumored. Parscale was blamed internally for a botched Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally last month that drew a much smaller crowd than he predicted. A subsequent coronavirus outbreak forced Parscale and other campaign officials who attended to self-quarantine for two weeks.

A source close to the campaign said Trump has been anxious about the polls “and struck at the most visible target he could,” adding that Parscale has been “a straight-shooter about the president’s challenges.”

Stepien, a longtime Republican strategist, is well known to both Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been playing a more active role in the campaign. Stepien was political director at the White House before moving to the campaign.

In his statement, Trump credited both Parscale and Stepien for their involvement in his 2016 victory in the U.S. presidential election and predicted that he would glide to a second term in office. (Reuters)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

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