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Trump Defends His Witness Intimidation of Ukraine Ambassador He Fired by Demanding He Have ‘Total’ Freedom of Speech

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President Donald Trump is defending himself from strong and sharp criticism being fired from Democrats an Republicans alike, after he posted tweets attacking former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Friday as she was testifying before Congress. Even Fox News anchors called it witness intimidation, as did Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.

Asked Friday afternoon if he was intentionally trying to intimidate the diplomat he fired and had ordered “on the next plane” out of Ukraine, Trump launched into a rant.

“I just want to have a total – I want freedom of speech, that’s a political process,” Trump, trying to defend himself, told reporters.

The President went on to falsely claim Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been blocked from asking questions of Yovanovitch. They have been granted equal time, but Chairman Schiff has not broken the rules enough to their liking to favor their outbursts.

Watch:

EARLIER:

Press Secretary Claims Trump Tweet ‘Not Witness Intimidation’ Because It’s ‘Not a Trial’ – But President Says It Is

Fox News Anchor: ‘President’s Tweet Ripping’ Ukraine Ambassador Yovanovitch Added ‘An Article of Impeachment Real-Time’

Trump Slammed for ‘Criminal Witness Intimidation’ of Ukraine Ambassador in Real Time During Impeachment Hearing Testimony

 

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YOU CAN'T DO THAT

US Diplomat Fired by Trump-Appointed Ambassador for Merely Mentioning Obama in a Speech: Report

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A career foreign service officer says he got fired by a Trump-appointed ambassador simply for mentioning former President Barack Obama during a speech.

Journalist Julia Ioffe reports in GQ that Lewis Lukens, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London, was fired shortly after delivering a speech at an English university in which he touted the benefits of America’s relationship with the United Kingdom.

During the speech, Lukens told a brief story about how Obama had handled a disagreement over LGBT rights with the government of Senegal. The former diplomat tells Ioffe that Woody Johnson, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the U.K., approached him shortly after and told him to pack his things, seven months before he was scheduled to take on a new assignment.

The State Department declined to comment when Ioffe asked them to verify Lukens’s account.

“This incident, which has not been previously reported, offers a stark example of the politicization of the foreign service under Trump,” writes Ioffe. “It’s also a grim illustration of how the administration — through three years of attempted budget cuts, hiring freezes, and grotesquely personal attacks — has eviscerated the country’s diplomatic corps and put highly sensitive matters of national security in the hands of politically appointed novices.”

Read the whole report here.

Image by Penn State via Flickr and a CC license

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White House Secretly Meeting With Republicans to Limit Impeachment Trial as President Courts GOP Senators

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The Trump White House is in secret  talks with top Senate Republicans to draft a strategy on how the impeachment trial will be conducted after the House passes what are expected to be damning articles of impeachment. The president has been focused the past few weeks on sitting down with Senate Republicans individually or in small groups to take the temperature of the caucus and to woo those who have occasionally suggested they might be uncomfortable with the actions he has taken that have led to the current impeachment inquiry.

“A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks,” The Washington Post reports late Thursday afternoon.

Among the Republican Senators who clandestinely met with top Trump White House advisors are: Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). The six strong Trump supporters met, according to the Post, “with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.”

Earlier Thursday Politico reported “Trump cozies up to GOP during impeachment,”noting the President has been “aggressively courting Senate Republicans” including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, both seen as potentially dangerous to Trump should the Senate hold an impeachment trial.

In a separate Politico article Politico suggests the White House attempted to convince the majority-Republican Senate to immediately dismiss any articles of impeachment and hold no trial.

Senators “informed the White House that there simply aren’t the votes to approve a motion to dismiss the trial; it would take just three Republicans to block any impeachment vote on the Senate floor.”

The Washington Post echoed that reporting, explaining that “even a two-week trial could run counter to what Trump has expressed privately. The president is ‘miserable’ about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings right away.”

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Trump Considered Firing ‘Disloyal’ Inspector General for Reporting Whistleblower Complaint to Congress

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President Donald Trump has considered firing the Intelligence Community Inspector General for reporting the now-infamous whistleblower complaint to Congress. Trump appointed Michael Atkinson in 2017 but now sees him as “disloyal,” according to The New York Times.

“Mr. Trump first expressed his dismay about Mr. Atkinson around the time the whistle-blower’s complaint became public in September. In recent weeks, he has continued to raise with aides the possibility of firing him,” the Times reports.

Mr. Atkinson’s handling of the anonymous whistle-blower’s complaint was a major factor in the decision by House Democrats to initiate an impeachment inquiry. After conducting an investigation that led him to believe the complaint was credible, he forwarded it to the government’s top intelligence official, Joseph Maguire, who did not provide it to Congress in the time frame required under the law, but did allow Mr. Atkinson to alert lawmakers about the existence of the complaint.

Atkinson worked for the DOJ for 15 years before Trump appointed him IG.

You can read the Times full report here.

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

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