By Robert A. Vella
Fallout from the CIA whistleblower’s exposure of President Trump’s attempt to coerce a foreign leader for personal political gain has now triggered the resignation of U.S. special envoy Kurt Volker, the House Foreign Affairs Committee to subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an uncomfortable predicament for Senate Republicans, Ukraine’s government to try to appease Trump by announcing an investigation of Joe Biden’s son Hunter, intense criticism of Trump’s “personal lawyer” Rudy Giuliani, and congressional scrutiny of the National Rifle Association’s activities and nonprofit tax status.
WASHINGTON — Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine who got caught in the middle of the pressure campaign by President Trump and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to find damaging information about Democrats, abruptly resigned his post on Friday.
Mr. Volker, who told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday that he was stepping down, offered no public explanation but a person informed about his decision said he concluded that it was impossible to be effective in his assignment given the developments of recent days.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as part of its impeachment inquiry.
The subpoena, which demands Pompeo provide documents by Oct. 4, was accompanied by a plan to depose five State Department officials, including Ambassador Kurt Volker, who reportedly arranged for Trump’s personal lawyer to meet with high-level Ukrainian officials, and Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by Trump.
WASHINGTON — Former Republican Senator Jeff Flake said that he thinks at least 35 Republican senators would vote for President Donald Trump to be removed from office if they could vote in private.
Speaking at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival Thursday, Flake was responding to comments made by Republican political consultant Mike Murphy on MSNBC who said that if there was a secret vote, at least 30 GOP Senators would back impeachment.
“That’s not true. There would be at least 35,” Flake said.
KIEV, Ukraine —Lawmakers in Ukraine are seeking to launch probes into some of the same allegations at the heart of the Trump administration’s dirt-digging efforts, including possibly reopening inquiries into the Ukrainian natural gas firm with connections to Hunter Biden.
The Ukraine push, however, could draw the country deeper into Washington’s whistleblower battles even as President Volodymyr Zelensky tries to thread a careful path with one of Ukraine’s most important allies.
A separate probe by Ukraine also has the potential to add sizzle to White House efforts to charge up President Trump’s base and lend legitimacy to his demands for Ukrainian prosecutors to look again at corruption allegations — despite no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden.
National Rifle Association funds paid for lodging and travel of Russian nationals throughout 2015 and 2016, as part of a relationship that allowed foreign actors looking to influence the U.S. election, including now-convicted Maria Butina, to infiltrate the gun-rights group, a new report asserts.
The report, released Friday by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, also says NRA leaders traveled to Moscow in December 2015 partly on the NRA’s dime, even though some went there to pursue their own personal business opportunities. This raises questions, the report says, about whether they violated laws on how nonprofit funds can be used.
The trip to Moscow gave Russians an opening to the organization as the election was ramping up, as well as access to other events involving Republican party leaders, the Democrats say.
U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birrote Jr. on Friday issued a permanent injunction barring ICE from relying solely on databases when issuing so-called detainers, which are requests made to police agencies to keep people who have been arrested in custody for up two days beyond the time they would otherwise be held.
ICE is also blocked from issuing detainers to state and local law enforcement in states where there isn’t an explicit statute authorizing civil immigration arrests on detainers, according to the judge’s decision.
The decision affects any detainers issued by an ICE officer in the federal court system’s Central District of California.
A federal judge Friday blocked new regulations that would have let the Trump administration indefinitely detain migrant children and families through the length of their immigration proceedings.
U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California issued a permanent injunction against the Trump administration’s rule, which would have placed no limit on the detention of children and changed the licensing authority for facilities housing them.
Gee found the regulations violated the terms of a 1997 settlement known as the Flores agreement that sets standards for the treatment of migrant children, including that they must be released from non-licensed facilities within 20 days.
Porn star Stormy Daniels settled her lawsuit against the city of Columbus, Ohio, over her arrest last year at a strip club, officials said Friday.
Daniels will receive $450,000 and drop all claims made in her federal civil complaint against the city, according to her attorney, Chase Mallory, and a spokeswoman for City Attorney Zach Klein.
Her lawyer said that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, could have reached a settlement for more than $450,000, but she was satisfied with changes implemented by the Columbus Police Department following her arrest.
Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper returned the fire: “[Secretary of State] Frank LaRose himself has acknowledged thousands of errors with his voter purge, and instead of trying to get to the bottom of what happened, he’s attacking the groups and individuals who helped raise awareness of the errors. That level of arrogance in a public official is what’s really scary.”
The vast majority of names on the list are believed to belong to voters who are no longer eligible to vote in Ohio. However, the most controversial portion consists of those who are losing their eligibility simply because they have not voted in six years, a process upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Problems emerged with the purge process after LaRose required county boards of elections to provide the list of registrations they intended to cancel. He merged those registrations into a single list of more than 235,000 people whom individuals and groups could contact and encourage to update their registrations.
But once that list was assembled, The Dispatch, voting rights groups and others discovered problems, including a vendor error that resulted in about 1,600 registrations being improperly on the purge list.