Ensnarled in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump Thursday called on another nation to probe former Vice President Joe Biden: China.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in remarks to reporters outside the White House. Trump said he hadn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Biden and his son Hunter but said it’s “certainly something we could start thinking about.”
Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence that the former vice president benefited financially from his son’s business relationships.
Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden, as well as Giuliani’s conduct, are at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week.
Trump’s comments came as he publicly acknowledged that his message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials was to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential contender. Trump’s accusations of impropriety are unsupported by evidence.
“It’s a very simple answer,” Trump said of his call with Zelenskiy. “They should investigate the Bidens.”
Trump has sought to implicate Biden and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.
Jaw thrust forward and ready to rumble, President Donald Trump plowed his way through a day of questions Wednesday about his controversial phone call with Ukraine’s leader, his private anger about the House impeachment effort bursting into full public view.
“Did you hear me? Did you hear me? Ask him a question,” the president, pointing to his counterpart from Finland, irritably told a reporter who pressed Trump to answer a question during a surreal and scorching White House news conference.
For days, the president had seethed about the Democrats’ rapidly moving inquiry that threatens to overwhelm his presidency. He insisted he did nothing wrong in what he repeatedly dubbed “a perfect call” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he asked for an investigation of political opponent Joe Biden. Trump’s rage behind closed White House doors found myriad targets: Democrats, the media, his own staff, the faltering performances of Republicans trying to defend him on television.
Though the president had let off some steam on Twitter, it took until Wednesday’s meetings with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto for Trump to erupt. Lacking a strong White House response team or many allies willing to make his case, while always believing that he is his own best spokesman, Trump became a one-man war room as the afternoon went on.
The news conference, taking place in the East Room on an unseasonably warm early October day in Washington, started innocently enough.
It featured the usual talk about strong cooperation between the two nations. Trump offered America’s condolences for an attack the day before at a vocational school in Finland in which a man wielding a sword and a firearm killed a woman and wounded nine others.
But Niinisto, who appeared bewildered in the Oval Office hours earlier during a previous Trump tirade, found his footing at the news conference. He seemed to send a subtle message when he remarked how he had spent part of his time in Washington prior to his White House meeting by visiting a couple of museums.
“You have here a great democracy. Keep it going on,” he told the president.
Trump soon turned to trade. The president, as he often does, complained about the trade deficit in goods with EU countries, which hit $169.3 billion last year.
“We’re gonna have to start doing something with the European Union because they have not been treating this country right for many, many years. And they know it,” Trump said.
But Niinisto tried to emphasize a different story: “Well, we all know Europe needs USA, but I say that USA needs also Europe,” Niinisto said. “We know the price of everything. We should recognize also the value of everything. We share the same values: democracy, human rights, rule-based order. And in that we are very similar.”
But those grand sentiments soon gave way to questions about dirty politics.
Furious about the impeachment inquiry, Trump said he was under attack for three years, blasted the completed special counsel’s Russia probe and said he was considering filing a major lawsuit, though he didn’t say who it would be against.
“We’ve been investigating the corruption having to do with what they did to my people,” Trump said. “They destroyed many people. They came down to Washington to do a great job and they left home, they left Washington dark.”
He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands out subpoenas like they’re cookies. “Every day, you get subpoenas.”
His ire only grew when one reporter, Jeff Mason from Reuters, asked Trump to make clear what he wanted the president of Ukraine to do with regard to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Trump dodged with a non-answer, saying he did not like giving money to a corrupt country. “I don’t like being the sucker country,” he said. “European countries are helped far more than we are and those countries should pay more to help Ukraine.”
But when the reporter followed up about what he wanted Ukraine to do about the Bidens, Trump angrily tried to stop the inquiry, backing away from the podium and asking, “Are you talking to me?” while trying to badger Mason to stop.
Preferring to take his questions in informal settings, like the White House lawn against the backdrop of a whirring helicopter, making it easier to skip inquiries he didn’t like, Trump seemed ill-prepared to handle Mason’s follow-ups.
“Did you hear me? Did you hear me? Ask him a question,” Trump ordered, pointing to Niinisto.
Minutes later, the news conference ended and Trump stalked off the stage, again alone.
Agitated and angry, President Donald Trump squared off against House Democrats, packing his increasingly aggressive impeachment defense with name-calling and expletives. Quietly but just as resolutely, lawmakers expanded their inquiry, promising a broad new subpoena for documents and witnesses.
Democratic leaders put the White House on notice that the wide-ranging subpoena would be coming for information about Trump’s actions in the Ukraine controversy, the latest move in an impeachment probe that’s testing the Constitution’s system of checks and balances. They said they’d be going to court if necessary.
Amid the legal skirmishing, Wednesday was a day of verbal fireworks.
The president complained that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was handing out subpoenas “like cookies,” railed against a government whistleblower as “vicious” and assailed the news media as corrupt and the “enemy.” All that alongside a presidential tweetstorm punctuated with an accusation that congressional Democrats waste time and money on “BULL—-.”
Pelosi said Democrats had no choice but to take on the most “solemn” of constitutional responsibilities to put a check on executive power after the national security whistleblower’s complaint that recently came to light. The administration and Congress are on a collision course unseen in a generation after the whistleblower exposed a July phone call the Republican president had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump pressed for an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his family.
“We take this to be a very sad time” for the American people and the country, Pelosi said. “Impeaching the president isn’t anything to be joyful about.”
Standing beside her, intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused Trump of “an incitement to violence” with his attacks on the unnamed whistleblower, who is provided anonymity and other protections under federal law. He said the investigation is proceeding “deliberately” but with a sense of “urgency.”
Unlike Trump, Schiff never raised his voice but said firmly: “We’re not fooling around here.”
Pelosi, in a “Good Morning America” interview that will air Thursday, said Trump is “scared” of the impeachment inquiry and the arguments that can be made against him.
Democrats are now talking of basing an impeachment charge of obstruction on the White House’s slow-walking of documents and testimony _ administration actions that echo the months of resisting Congress in its other investigations into special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and Trump’s business dealings.
Ahead of the new subpoena, the chairmen of three House committees accused the administration of “flagrant disregard” of previous requests for documents and witnesses and said that refusal could be considered an impeachable offense.
The standoff took on a defiant tone this week when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would not stand for Democrats “bullying” his employees into appearing before the congressional committees, even as he acknowledged that he, too, had been among those U.S. officials listening on the line during the Trump’s phone call with the Ukraine leader.
Pompeo’s admission is complicating his situation, and House leaders now consider him a “witness” to Trump’s interaction with Ukraine.
One former State Department official, Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, will appear Thursday for a closed-door interview with House investigators. He is said to be eager to tell his side of the story. That’s ahead of next week’s deposition of ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Maria “Masha” Yovanovitch.
The circumstances of Yovanovitch’s sudden recall from Ukraine are the subject of conspiracy speculation, and the State Department’s Inspector General Michael Steve Linick sought an “urgent” meeting Wednesday to brief staff of several committees.
During that private session, Linick told them he received a packet of materials from the State Department’s Counsel T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, according to one person granted anonymity to discuss the closed-door session.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said the package contained information from debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election. Trump has long pursued those theories, a topic he discussed with Zelenskiy in the phone call that sparked the impeachment inquiry.
It was unclear where the package originated, but it was in a White House envelope and included folders from Trump hotels, according to another person familiar with the briefing, a Democrat. That person said the White House sent the envelope to Pompeo and it contained notes from interviews that took place in the New York City office of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with various Ukrainians about the debunked conspiracies.
“It raises more questions than it answers,” said Raskin.
Brechbuhl has also been called to give a deposition to the House.
Trump, in appearances in the Oval Office and a joint press conference with the president of Finland, displayed an unusual show of anger as he defended what he has called his “perfect” phone call with Zelenskiy and decried the impeachment inquiry.
He demanded that a reporter pressing him on his dealings with Ukraine move on, labeling the journalist “corrupt.” Earlier in the day he said even though he popularized the phrase “fake news,” he now preferred to say “corrupt” news. “This is a hoax,” Trump said.
Later he called himself, as he has before, a “very stable genius” who always watches what he says in conversations.
Trump has tweeted in recent days that he wants to “find out about” the whistleblower and question him or her, though the person’s identity is protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Schiff’s spokesman acknowledged that the whistleblower had gone to the intelligence committee before filing the formal complaint but said the staff advised the person to contact an inspector general and seek counsel, and at no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance.
Trump suggested, without any evidence, that Schiff “probably helped write” the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower’s lawyers said the person had never met or spoken with Schiff about the matter.
The new subpoena coming Friday from House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings will be directed toward acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and request 13 separate batches of documents concerning the July call and related matters. The call came against the backdrop of a $250 million foreign aid package for Ukraine that was being readied by Congress but stalled by Trump.
The whistleblower alleged in August that the White House tried to “lock down” Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president because it was worried about the contents being leaked to the public. The acting director of national intelligence eventually made the complaint public.
In recent days, it has been disclosed that the administration similarly tried to restrict information about Trump’s calls with other foreign leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, by moving memos onto a highly classified computer system.
In Russia, Putin said scrutiny over the phone call showed that Trump’s adversaries are using “every excuse” to attack him.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Rome, Angela Charlton in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Laurie Kellman, Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire, Alan Fram and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump is rapidly confronting a decision at the core of House Democrats’ nascent impeachment inquiry: Should he comply with congressional demands and risk disclosure of embarrassing information? Or should he delay and possibly deepen his legal and political predicament?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, the intelligence committee chairman, issued a blunt warning to the president Wednesday, threatening to make White House defiance of a congressional request for testimony and documents potential grounds for an article of impeachment.
With the prospect of new subpoenas coming as soon as Friday, Trump’s official policy of deliberate non-cooperation, and his view of executive power, could be tested quickly.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that any effort by (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo), by the president or anyone else to interfere with the Congress’ ability to call before it relevant witnesses will be considered as evidence of obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress,” Schiff said in a Wednesday news conference.
For his part, Trump maintained, “Well, I always cooperate,” without explicitly saying he would comply with the request. He then derided Pelosi, saying she “hands out subpoenas like they’re cookies.”
The White House strategy toward congressional oversight has often been open scorn. The Republican president’s aides have ignored document requests and subpoenas, invoked executive privilege _ so far as to argue that executive privilege extends to informal presidential advisers who’ve never held White House roles _ and all but dared Democrats to hold them in contempt.
As the impeachment inquiry accelerates, the White House’s stonewalling appears likely to continue.
“This is a hoax,” Trump said, immediately after professing his commitment to cooperation. He then launched into a diatribe on the impeachment inquiry, which has centered on his request for Ukraine’s president to assist in digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. “This is the greatest hoax. This is just a continuation of what’s been playing out since my election.”
In public and private, Trump has angrily dismissed the impeachment investigation as an illegitimate, purely partisan effort to topple him, according to three White House officials not authorized to speak about private conversations. And he praised Pompeo’s initial combative response to the Democrats’ requests this week, one of the officials said.
It’s part of an emerging political and legal strategy informed by Trump’s time in the two-year crucible of the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
The president’s first team of lawyers was inclined to cooperate with Robert Mueller, believing it would help bring the investigation to a swift conclusion. But once Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani took over, they largely ceased cooperation, attacked Mueller’s integrity and shielded Trump from testifying in person. They believe the moves inoculated the president legally and solidified his standing politically. Giuliani and Sekulow remain part of the president’s outside counsel.
Trump’s legal team privately cheered as the Mueller investigation bled into its third year in 2019 _ in part because of their stall tactics on whether Trump would consent to the Mueller interview. Now they are bent on ensuring the current probe is anything but the quick process desired by Democrats, who are wary of its impact on the 2020 presidential campaign.
“We’re not fooling around here,” Schiff said. “We don’t want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the administration’s strategy.”
White House allies argue that the Democratic demands are overly broad and raise issues of executive privilege and immunity, jeopardizing the longstanding interests of the co-equal branch of government. But Democrats are making the precise counter-argument, that Trump is claiming superiority of the executive branch over the legislative in a manner that defies the Constitution.
It’s a foot-dragging response that also serves Trump’s political interests _ he has hoped to use impeachment as a rallying cry for his supporter base in the election year.
Democrats have sought to use their declared impeachment investigation to bolster their case to access all sorts of documents from the administration, most recently secret grand jury information that underpinned Mueller’s report. And where courts have generally required congressional oversight requests to demonstrate a legitimate legislative purpose, impeachment requests could be wide-ranging.
Some Republicans have raised doubts that the unilateral declaration of impeachment would grant the House those powers. Trump allies have questioned the form of the impeachment investigation, which, unlike those into Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, was begun without a formal vote of the House.
They suggest that without a formal vote, the House is merely conducting oversight. The Justice Department raised similar arguments last month, though it was before Pelosi announced the impeachment investigation.
There’s no clear-cut procedure in the Constitution for launching an impeachment inquiry, leaving many of these questions about obstruction untested in court, said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University.
“There’s no specification in the Constitution in what does and does not constitute a more formal impeachment inquiry or investigation,” he said. “One can argue if they’re in an impeachment investigation, they’re in an impeachment.”
It is unclear if Democrats would wade into a lengthy legal fight with the administration over documents and testimony _ or if they would just move straight to considering articles of impeachment.
Schiff said Democrats will “have to decide whether to litigate, or how to litigate.”
Democrats might have a marginally stronger case in court fights over documents they want from the administration now that they’ve initiated an impeachment inquiry. But more important is the prospect of incorporating into impeachment itself the White House’s refusal to cooperate, said Elliot Mincberg, senior counsel for the liberal People for the American Way.
If the White House won’t provide fuller transcripts of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, for example, that could serve “both as evidence to support other allegations and itself impeachable conduct. That’s leverage the Democrats did not previously claim that they have now quite explicitly claimed,” said Mincberg, who previously served as a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee.
Jennifer Victor, a political science professor at George Mason University, said the impeachment inquiry “ups the ante in a checks-and-balances political game with the executive branch. The heightened public spotlight makes it more difficult for the executive branch to skirt requests to appear or deliver documents.”
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
Kurt Volker was little known outside of foreign policy circles as the special U.S. envoy to Ukraine until last week, when the whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump recast the once obscure diplomat as a central figure in the unfolding impeachment inquiry.
Volker is scheduled to testify in private Thursday to congressional investigators who want to ask about any role he may have played in Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian officials for damaging information about the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Volker resigned Friday after being asked to testify to Congress about the complaint, which describes how Trump in a July 25 phone call repeatedly prodded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for an investigation of Biden and his son, while his administration delayed the release of military aid to help Ukraine fight Russia-backed separatists. The complaint says Volker met in Kyiv with Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian political figures a day after the call and he provided advice about how to “navigate” Trump’s demands.
“I think he was doing the best he could,” said retired senior U.S. diplomat Daniel Fried, who described the actions of his former colleague as trying to guide Ukrainians on “how to deal with President Trump under difficult circumstances.”
Volker’s role, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s confirmation that he was also on Trump’s July 25 call, deeply entangles the State Department in the impeachment inquiry now shadowing the White House.
The State Department said Volker has confirmed that he put a Zelenskiy adviser in contact with Rudy Giuliani, at the Ukraine adviser’s request, and Giuliani has said he was in frequent contact with Volker.
Separately, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Volker met last year with a top official from the same Ukrainian energy firm that paid Biden’s son Hunter to serve on its board. The meeting occurred even as Giuliani pressed Ukraine’s government to investigate the company and the Bidens’ involvement with it.
Pompeo accused the congressional investigators of trying to “bully” and “intimidate” State Department officials with subpoenas for documents and testimony, suggesting he would seek to prevent them from providing information. But the committee managed to schedule the deposition with Volker as well as one next week with Marie Yovanovitch, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until she was removed from the post last spring.
The spotlight is an unlikely place for Volker, who was brought into the Trump administration by Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to serve as envoy for Ukraine. He worked in a volunteer capacity and had retained his job as head of the John McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.
Though his name may not have been known before last week to most Americans, Volker had a long diplomatic career, often working behind the scenes. He was a principal deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs before becoming the U.S. ambassador to NATO in 2008.
In his most recent role as envoy to Ukraine, he spoke openly of U.S. support for Ukrainian sovereignty. Last year, he criticized the expansion of Russian naval operations and Russia’s resistance to full deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine to monitor the fight against the Russia-backed separatists.
Pompeo himself mentioned Volker during an appearance in Rome on Wednesday when he confirmed his participation in the call, saying he had been focused on “taking down the threat that Russia poses” in Ukraine and to help the country build its economy.
Fried described Volker as a “dedicated public servant and professional, a problem solver.”
“In all of the years I’ve worked with him, we never had a partisan conversation,” Fried said. “He’s an utter professional.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured supporters Wednesday night that his message to President Donald Trump is “I’m not going anywhere” as he laid out his most forceful pushback yet to Trump’s baseless attacks.
In a rebuke of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the former vice president said during a 20-minute speech at a rally that he’s not surprised Trump asked a foreign government for help to defeat him. Trump’s effort to enlist Ukraine has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House.
Trump and his allies have accused Biden and his son Hunter, without evidence, of participating in the kind of corruption that has plagued Ukraine. They point to Hunter Biden’s service on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Yet no one has produced evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
“Let me make something clear to Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me. I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said to loud cheers.
“It’s not about Donald Trump’s antics. It’s about what has brought Donald Trump, and the nation, to this sobering moment in our history and to the choice facing us in 2020,” he said. “What has brought us here is simply this: the abuse of power.”
A complaint by a government whistleblower helped make public Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president. House investigators said Wednesday they will issue a subpoena demanding all White House and Trump administration documents related to efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.
“Desperate and defensive, Trump sends one crazed tweet after another _ insinuating that the whistleblower should be dealt with extensively, using the word ‘executed,’ threatening to prosecute the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warning direly of civil war if he is impeached,” he said.
Biden praised the whistleblower and accused Trump of repeatedly smearing the Biden family.
“Now because of the courageous actions of a whistleblower, Trump’s scheme has been exposed,” he said. “He did it because, like every bully in history _ he’s afraid. He’s afraid of just how badly he may be beaten in November.”
More than 400 people crowded into the student center at Truckee Meadows Community College for Biden’s rally after he joined eight other White House hopefuls at a gun policy forum in Las Vegas earlier in the day. It marked the first time this year the early Democratic presidential front-runner had brought his campaign to northern Nevada.
Nevada’s caucuses in February follow Iowa and New Hampshire as third in the nominating process. It was one of the few key swing states that Trump failed to carry in 2016. Biden historically has enjoyed strong support from labor unions and others in Washoe County, including Reno and Sparks.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign said Wednesday that the Democratic presidential candidate had a heart procedure for a blocked artery and was canceling events and appearances “until further notice.”
The 78-year-old Sanders experienced chest discomfort during an event Tuesday and sought medical evaluation, according to a campaign statement. It said two stents were “successfully inserted” and that Sanders “is conversing and in good spirits.”
Sanders’ wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, was en route to Las Vegas on Wednesday and said in an email to The Associated Press that her husband was “doing really well.”
The Democratic field’s oldest candidate, Sanders sometimes jokingly refers to his age at town halls and other events, especially when interacting with younger participants. His aides have tried to project him as a candidate with energy levels that surpassed his 2016 presidential campaign.
He is one of three candidates over age 70 in the Democratic primary, which has spurred debate over whether the party should rally behind a new generation of political leaders, and President Donald Trump is 73. Sanders’ health issue is certain to revive that discussion in the weeks before the next presidential debate this month.
Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, was on a telephone call with supporters Tuesday night but didn’t mention any health concerns about the candidate. Shakir said the “state of the campaign is strong” and he played up Sanders’ strong fundraising total for the third quarter. The Vermont Senator’s campaign raised $25 million, the highest among the candidates who have reported so far, and scheduled its first television ads in Iowa. On Wednesday, it suspended those spots, too.
Sanders had been among 10 Democratic candidates scheduled to appear later Wednesday at a forum on gun control in Las Vegas. He recently canceled some appearances in South Carolina because he lost his voice. The campaign said at the time he felt fine.
During the first debate in June, Sanders heatedly defended his 76-year-old rival, Joe Biden, after California Rep. Eric Swalwell, 38, said it was time to step aside for a new generation. Sanders told reporters later the question smacked of “ageism.”
“The issue is, who has the guts to take on Wall Street, to take on the fossil fuel industry, to take on the big money interests who have unbelievable influence over the economic and political life of this country?” Sanders said on the stage that night.
The hospitalization also comes as Sanders’ campaign has been trying to turn a corner after a summer that saw him eclipsed as the premier liberal in the field by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 70. Sander has dropped well behind Warren and Biden in most polls and recently reshuffled his staffing in early states to become more competitive.
“Given his recent stalls in the polls, the timing is pretty bad here,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley said of Sanders’ heart procedure.
Sanders’ rivals were quick to wish him well. “We want to send our best wishes for a quick recovery to @BernieSanders today,” tweeted Julian Castro, an Obama administration housing chief. Added Sen. Kamala Harris of California: “If there’s one thing I know about him, he’s a fighter and I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail soon.”
Sanders’ 2016 campaign nearly overtook Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination. He is a top contender in the 2020 primary, and announced Tuesday that he raised more than $25 million over the past three months. But he is facing stiff competition from former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have overtaken him in many polls.
Sanders is not the first candidate to face health issues in recent years while seeking the presidency. Clinton had to take time off from campaigning in 2016 after being treated for pneumonia.
In 2000, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, the leading Democratic challenger to then-Vice President Al Gore, had to cut short a campaign swing for treatment of an atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that is treatable but potentially serious. Bradley later resumed his campaign.
In Sanders’ case, when doctors insert a stent, they first thread a tiny balloon inside a blocked artery to widen it. The stent is a small wire mesh tube that then is propped inside to keep the artery open. The number of stents needed depends on the size of the clog.
The treatment can immediately improve symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The stents are threaded into place through blood vessels in the groin or wrist, requiring only a tiny incision. Most are coated with medication to prevent the targeted artery from reclosing. That is still a risk, requiring monitoring, and patients also often are prescribed blood thinners to prevent clots from forming in the stents.
A letter released by Sanders’ physician in 2016 cited a history of mildly elevated cholesterol but no heart disease.
Zeke Miller and Will Weissert in Washington, DC and Wilson Ring in Burlington, Vermont contributed to this report.
House Democrats pursuing an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump say they will subpoena the White House on Friday for documents related to his dealings with Ukraine, citing “flagrant disregard” of their previous requests for information.
House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memo to committee members Wednesday that the action is necessary because the White House has ignored multiple requests. Given the “stark and urgent warnings” the inspector general for the intelligence community has delivered to Congress, Cummings said, the panel has “no choice but to issue this subpoena.”
The subpoena is directed toward acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. It requests 13 separate batches of documents related to a July phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and related matters. The Oversight panel will issue the subpoena in coordination with the House intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, Cummings said.
The action came as House and Senate staff prepared to meet with the State Department’s inspector general on Wednesday. A State Department invitation to the meeting, which was reviewed by The Associated Press, requested an “urgent” meeting with staff from eight House and Senate panels.
The invitation said only that the inspector general, Steve Linick, “would like to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine.” The documents were obtained from the State Department’s acting legal adviser, according to the email.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday he was on the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry. He said that as America’s chief diplomat he is well-versed in U.S. policy toward Ukraine. But Pompeo continued to push back against what he said was Democrats’ “bullying and intimidation.”
The Trump administration has set a defiant tone, resisting Congress’ access to witnesses, even as House Democrats warn such efforts themselves could amount to an impeachable offense.
Democrats have scheduled closed-door depositions Thursday with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week with ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Rome; Angela Charlton in Kyiv, Ukraine; and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this report.
Setting a defiant tone, the Trump administration resisted Congress’ access to impeachment witnesses, even as House Democrats warned such efforts themselves could amount to an impeachable offense.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to delay five current and former officials from providing documents and testimony in the impeachment inquiry that could lead to charges against President Donald Trump. But Democrats were able to set closed-door depositions for Thursday for former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week for ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
The escalating exchange of accusations and warnings on Tuesday signaled yet another stiffening in the confrontation between the executive and legislative branches amid the Democrats’ launching of the impeachment inquiry late last week. That followed a national security whistleblower’s disclosure of Trump’s July phone call seeking help from the new Ukrainian president in investigating Democratic political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.
In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump cast the impeachment inquiry as a coup “intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” In fact, a coup is usually defined as a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of government power. The impeachment process is laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
Pompeo said the Democrats were trying to “intimidate” and “bully” the career officials into appearing and claimed it would be “not feasible” as demanded. House investigators countered that it would be illegal for the secretary to try to protect Trump by preventing the officials from talking to Congress.
Some Trump supporters cheered Pompeo’s muscular response to the Democrats. But it also complicated the secretary’s own situation, coming the day after it was disclosed that he had listened in during Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy that helped trigger the impeachment inquiry.
“Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” said three House chairmen, Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee, Eliot Engel of Foreign Affairs, and Elijah Cummings of Oversight.
They said that if he was on Trump’s call, “Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the House impeachment inquiry.” And they warned, “He should immediately cease intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President.”
On Wednesday, the State Department’s inspector general is expected to brief congressional staff from several House and Senate appropriations, oversight, foreign affairs and intelligence committees on their requests for information and documents on Ukraine, according to an aide familiar with the planning. The inspector general acts independently from Pompeo.
The committees are seeking voluntary testimony from the current and former officials as the House digs into State Department actions and Trump’s other calls with foreign leaders that have been shielded from scrutiny.
In halting any appearances by State officials, and demanding that executive branch lawyers accompany them, Pompeo is underscoring Attorney General William Barr’s expansive view of White House authority and setting a tone for conflicts to come.
“I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals,” Pompeo wrote.
When issuing a separate subpoena last week as part of the inquiry, the chairmen of the three House committees made it clear that stonewalling their investigation would be fought.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the three chairmen wrote.
Democrats often note that obstruction was one of the impeachment articles against Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency in 1974 in the face of almost certain impeachment.
Volker played a direct role in arranging meetings between Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump’s personal lawyer, and Zelenskiy, the chairmen said.
The State Department said that Volker has confirmed that he put a Zelenskiy adviser in contact with Giuliani, at the Ukraine adviser’s request.
The former envoy, who has since resigned his position and so is not necessarily bound by Pompeo’s directions, is eager to appear as scheduled on Thursday, said one person familiar with the situation, but unauthorized to discuss it and granted anonymity. The career professional believes he acted appropriately and wants to tell his side of the situation, the person said.
Yovanovitch, the career diplomat whose abrupt recall from Ukraine earlier this year raised questions, is set to appear next week. The Democrats also want to hear from T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a counselor at the State Department, who also listened in on the Trump-Zelenskiy call, they said.
It’s unclear whether Pompeo will comply with the committees’ request for documents by Friday. He had declined to comply with their previous requests for information.
Pompeo, traveling in Italy to meet with the country’s president and prime minister, ignored shouted question about the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.
The House investigators are prepared for battle as they probe more deeply into the State Department to try to understand why the administration sought to restrict access to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders.
The whistleblower alleged in an Aug. 12 letter to Congress that the White House tried to “lock down” Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president because it was worried about the contents being leaked to the public.
In recent days, it has been disclosed that the administration similarly tried to restrict information about Trump’s calls with other foreign leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, by moving memos onto a highly classified computer system.
“It’s going to be one heck of a fight to get that information,” Schiff told House Democrats during a conference call over the weekend, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private session.
As Trump continued to rage against the impeachment inquiry, there was little evidence of a broader White House response. And few outside allies were rushing to defend the president.
Trump has long measured allies’ loyalty by their willingness to fight for him on TV, and he complained bitterly this week that few had done so. And those who did, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” he believed had flubbed their appearance, according to a person not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.
Though there has been growing discontent with Giuliani in the West Wing and State Department, where some officials blame him for leading Trump into the Ukraine mess, the president continued to stand by his personal lawyer.
Giuliani, who hired former assistant special Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale a day after being hit with his own subpoena, continued to push false Biden corruption accusations and promised to fight against Democratic investigators.
The Ukraine matter remains the central focus as Democrats investigate whether Trump’s suggestion that the east European country’s new president be in touch with Giuliani and Barr to “look into” Biden amounts to a solicitation of foreign interference in the upcoming 2020 election.
The call unfolded against the backdrop of a $250 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine that was being readied by Congress but stalled by the White House.
Ukraine’s president told reporters Tuesday he has never met or spoken with Giuliani.
Zelenskiy insisted that “it is impossible to put pressure on me.” He said he stressed the importance of the military aid repeatedly in discussions with Trump, but “it wasn’t explained to me” why the money didn’t come through until September.
Not all business was halted between the White House and Congress. Even as the impeachment confrontation boiled, House Democrats briefed White House staffers on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prescription drug legislation. Lowering drug costs is a top policy priority for both the speaker and the president. Joe Grogan, a top Trump domestic policy adviser, called it a “very productive start.”
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Rome; Angela Charlton in Kyiv, Ukraine; and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this report.
After back-to-back mass shootings in Ohio and Texas this summer, gun control burst back on the scene as a major political issue for Democrats. Now it risks taking a back seat as impeachment fever overtakes Washington.
Gun control advocates are determined to prevent that from happening.
Ten White House hopefuls will be in Las Vegas for a forum on gun policy on Wednesday, almost two years to the day after a gunman killed 58 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The event is being hosted by MSNBC, March for Our Lives and Giffords, the advocacy organization set up by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot and gravely wounded during a constituent meeting in 2011.
The forum is an effort to keep gun violence front and center of the debate and gives 2020 presidential candidates a chance to showcase their plans to combat the epidemic. Polls show that a majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, while even more support specific proposals like universal background checks. But negotiations between President Donald Trump’s administration and lawmakers have halted over background checks legislation, an effort that faced long odds even before the impeachment inquiry began.
“Impeachment sucks everything out of the room. Certainly it’s the focus of Trump’s attention,” said Jack Citrin, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of California-Berkeley. “If you need to reach some kind of bipartisan agreement and one party is determined to throw the president out of office, rightly or wrongly, it’s a little hard to see how that builds the kind of goodwill that’s necessary on this or any other issue.”
Ariel Hobbs, a 21-year-old student organizer with March for Our Lives in Houston, said her group wants “to hear from the candidates that they are taking this seriously and they understand they can no longer ignore America’s gun violence epidemic.” She doesn’t think the impeachment inquiry is a reason for lawmakers to stop their push for a bipartisan solution.
The 10 candidates slated to participate in the forum are former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Obama Housing Secretary Julián Castro; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and businessman Andrew Yang.
O’Rourke recast his campaign around gun control after the August shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, where a gunman targeting Hispanics killed 22 people. O’Rourke even vowed to ban assault weapons, saying at a debate in Houston in September, “Hell, yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47, and we’re not going to allow it to be used against your fellow Americans anymore.”
One expert said he doesn’t see a downside for O’Rourke or any of his fellow presidential candidates to talk about impeachment alongside other issues like gun control.
“If (O’Rourke) is pointing out that because of impeachment, the president has decided not to work at all on an issue that involves people’s lives, he could make the argument if he wanted that this is itself an impeachable offense,” said Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Las Vegas-Nevada focused on state and national politics. “If you are trying to get your base, your base probably does not mind the idea of impeachment.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has been leading negotiations with the White House on a background checks deal and will attend the forum. The conversations have gone silent in the past two weeks, but he’s told the White House that he’s still willing to talk. Trump himself has accused Democrats of ignoring other issues to focus on impeachment.
“The Democrats are so focused on hurting the Republican Party and the President that they are unable to get anything done because of it, including legislation on gun safety, lowering of prescription drug prices, infrastructure, etc. So bad for our Country!” he tweeted Sept. 24.
Murphy says reaching consensus may still be possible.
“I think that the president is going to have some pressure to show that impeachment isn’t consuming him, and a breakthrough on a background checks deal that nobody thought was possible would probably be a pretty good tonic for the administration right now,” he said.
While his fellow Democrats may not be keen on the idea of giving Trump a win, Murphy said he’ll keep pushing because gun control remains top of mind for voters.
“Our party needs to find mechanisms to keep our focus on the issues that matter to voters, and guns is right at the top of that list,” he said. “The forum is an effort to try to keep the primary dialogue focused on an issue that is absolutely going to be top of mind for swing voters.”