‘If I were in the House, I would vote to impeach’ Trump: Former Republican Gov. John Kasich

Toshe_O/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich said if he were in the House of Representatives today, he would vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

“I have no problem with the president of the United States withholding aid if it’s related to policy, but to withhold aid because you want some political operation to occur, I just think is dead wrong, and it just goes too far for me,” Kasich said on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. “So if I were in the House, I would vote to impeach.”

Kasich, who sought the 2016 GOP presidential nomination and has been a frequent critic of Trump, said that while coming to the decision that an impeachment inquiry was necessary was “a piece of cake for” him, the decision to support impeaching the president was something he’d been struggling with.

While he said he didn’t really see the quid pro quo “at the time,” acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s comments Thursday, “compounded by so many other things,” finally led Kasich to a decision.

“The final, final act was Mulvaney saying, ‘Yes, we did withhold this aid, because we wanted this investigation done about the 2016 election,'” he told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein.

On Thursday, in an exchange with Karl during a press briefing, Mulvaney admitted there was a quid pro quo as it relates to Ukraine, saying that part of the reason Trump withheld military aid was to put pressure on the foreign government to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory from 2016 involving a hacked email server that belonged to the Democratic National Committee.

While Mulvaney said that the “driving factors” in Trump’s decision were his distaste for foreign aid in general — especially if it’s used in a corrupted way — and that he didn’t think European nations were giving enough financial assistance to Ukraine, he added, “Did he also mention to me in pass the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.”

Karl pressed for clarity: “But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.”

Mulvaney replied, “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”

Later, he claimed the media “decided to misconstrue” what he said, saying in a statement: “There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.”

 “I’ve now concluded there was a quid pro quo that was absolutely unacceptable,” Kasich told the hosts.

While Kasich supports impeaching the president, he hasn’t been happy with the way House Democrats have gone about conducting the investigation, taking issue with there not having been a formal vote, calling it a political move.

“When you’re going about impeaching a president, investigating a president, we don’t have time for politics,” he said, but added that he does think the House will move on impeachment.

As far as the timeline of the investigation goes, and contrary to others who have spoken out, the former lawmaker doesn’t think there should be a rush to get this done.

“I don’t think they should be in any hurry. I think they ought to do their job the right way,” Kasich said. “This is our country. There’s an investigation. Do it right. You shouldn’t have some calendar. You shouldn’t worry that you’re going to put your vulnerable members at risk. Tough. If you can’t do that then you shouldn’t have started this thing, OK? Plain and simple.”

 When asked if he thought Republicans would ever vote to remove Trump from office, Kasich said he’s “not a fortune teller,” but referred back to his time in the House during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, which he voted in favor of. He said that back then, the fact that Clinton was likely to be acquitted wasn’t the issue for him in making his decision.

And he noted that the impeachment inquiry into Trump is just starting.

“There’s going to be lots of hearings that are going to continue, more witnesses. Who knows what’s going to come out? Every day, there’s another — I mean, almost another bombshell, so I can’t predict what’s going to happen next week. … Next week, who knows what’s going to happen?” he said.

Klein and Karl also asked Kasich about Tuesday’s Democratic debate, which was held in the Ohioan’s hometown, Westerville.

He said that debates are a “silly way to pick a president.”

“You want to pick a president based on the sound bites? I mean, that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “These debates are pushing everybody to extremes to come up with a snarky answer, and it’s just — it’s just, you know, what’s there to watch?”

 He took a shot at “Medicare for All,” a signature proposal for top-polling 2020 Democratic candidates Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying the American people don’t want to give up their private insurance for a government-run option. He also criticized a wealth tax supported by Warren, Sanders and billionaire candidate Tom Steyer, and made a slight pass at former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s proposal to institute a mandatory buy-back program for assault weapons, like a AR-15s and AK-47s.

“The way it’s going right now, they’re going hard left, which means they can’t win,” Kasich said of the Democratic primary field.

Karl asked Kasich if his political days were behind him, and while he threw cold water on getting into this presidential election, he left open the possibility for trying to run again in the future.

“The only thing I really have an interest in is president, and I see no path at this point in time,” he said. “I’ll be younger when the next election comes around than all these top front runners running for president today.”

Kasich ended with this question, “Can somebody who doesn’t hold public office have a big enough voice to move the public? Is there a way to do it?”

Citing all many methods of communication now used — podcasts, YouTube, TV, Twitter — Kasich said voices are what matter.

“We’ll see,” he said. “All of my options are on the table.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Perry rejects congressional subpoena, insists resignation not related to Ukraine

Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Friday that his plans to resign are not related to the ongoing congressional impeachment inquiry into his role in the Ukraine affair, but because he wants to spend more time with family in Texas.

The comments from Perry, who said he plans to step down by the end of the year, came on the same day he and Energy Department lawyers told Congress they would not comply with a Friday deadline to respond to a congressional subpoena to provide information related to his work in the former Soviet republic.

Last week, the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees subpoenaed Perry to provide documents related to his role in U.S. energy policy in Ukraine and whether he was involved in decisions to withhold military aid.

But Perry responded Friday in a letter to the committees that, in accordance with a previous White House letter rejecting other subpoenas, he would not comply until the House votes to authorize the impeachment inquiry. Department lawyers also argue some of the documents requested are covered by executive privilege.

“Pursuant to these concerns, the Department restates the President’s position: “Given that you inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” the Energy letter says, citing the White House letter.

With regard to his leaving Washington, Perry said, “I’ve been looking at this for some time,” in an interview on CNBC Friday.

“I don’t think anybody’s surprised that, you know, I’ve got a rather intense love affair with this state, my wife, this little town of Round Top where we have chosen to live. And so the lure became overwhelming for me to come back home and to spend time with the people that I really love,” he said.

President Donald Trump announced Friday on Twitter that he plans to nominate Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to replace Perry. Brouillette is an Army veteran from San Antonio, Texas, and has previously worked in the energy sector including as assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the Energy Department from 2001 to 2003. More recently he worked as an executive for Ford Motor Company and USAA.

As part of the impeachment inquiry, Perry has been subpoenaed to provide documents related to his work in Ukraine and meetings with other officials involved in the region.

Perry has said previously that he planned to cooperate with the congressional requests. But since then, the White House has defied those requests because it regards the impeachment inquiry as illegitimate without an official House vote.

Perry has been referred to by some of his colleagues as one of the “three amigos” of the administration’s policy in Ukraine. Members of Congress are investigating whether the White House withheld military aid to the country or offered a White House summit on the condition Ukrainian officials investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Perry has not been accused of wrongdoing and insists his efforts in Ukraine were focused on advancing American interests in the region by promoting reforms to address corruption and bringing in American energy companies to get Ukraine away from Russian natural gas.

Perry said he’s happy with the goals he’s accomplished in his time at the Energy Department, including pushing for more American natural gas in Europe and for Ukraine to tackle corruption in the country.

“The timing was right for me. I got these big things done, the agency is in great shape, it’s going to continue to be focused on the areas that are important to America. So it was a right time for me to come back home,” he said in the interview.

In recent months, Perry and the Energy Department have frequently denied reports he planned to resign. Perry said Thursday morning he was one day closer to stepping down “but it ain’t today.” He gave Trump his resignation notice later that day.

Perry has defended the administration’s handling of Ukraine, saying the Biden name was not brought up in his conversations with the president and other officials. Perry told Fox News he never heard the Biden name in conversations with Ukrainian officials or the White House, but that the U.S. was pushing Ukraine to crack down on corruption in the country.

He also defended White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who said Thursday the administration did ask Ukraine for an investigation of Democrats in the 2016 election before aid money would be released. Mulvaney later said in a statement that his comments did not mean there was a “quid pro quo” but Perry said Friday that Mulvaney was being “straight up” and that the administration was “hammering” Ukraine to tackle corruption.

“People are trying to connect dots. By basically saying that there was no quid pro quo in the sense of what those folks out there would like for it to be. That we’ll give you this money unless you go investigate Joe Biden and his son. I never heard that anywhere, any time, in any conversation,” he said on Fox News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Mexican authorities release ‘El Chapo’s’ son as violence breaks out during attempted arrest

hudiemm/iStock(MEXICO CITY) — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador defended local authorities’ decision to call off a deadly raid in Sinaloa Cartel territory and release Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s fugitive son, saying one criminal wasn’t worth risking the lives of others in the area.

“They made decisions that I support, that I endorse, because the situation became very difficult and many citizens, many people, many human beings, were at risk. And, it was decided to protect people’s lives. I agreed with that because it’s not about massacres — that is over,” Obrador said during a news conference Friday. “They (local authorities) took that decision and I supported it.”

A deadly gunfight erupted in the Mexican city of Culiacán, Sinaloa state, late Thursday afternoon, after cartel fighters attacked security forces who were trying to arrest Ovidio Guzmán López, one of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s sons. Guzman Lopez is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges, according to reports.

A deadly gunfight erupted in the Mexican city of Culiacán, Sinaloa state, late Thursday afternoon, after cartel fighters attacked security forces who were trying to arrest Ovidio Guzmán López, one of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s sons. Guzman Lopez is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges, according to reports.

“El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in the U.S. in July, after he was found responsible for violence, including murders, and the smuggling of narcotics into the U.S., by a New York jury.

In a statement Friday that criticized the police effort, calling it “rushed and badly planned,” the Mexican Security Cabinet said that about 30 to 35 members of the National Guard and the Mexican Army were patrolling in the capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state Thursday around 3:45 p.m. Mexico City time, when they were fired on from a house. The security cabinet said the group was waiting for a search warrant for the home when the gunfire began.

Officers fired back and were able to enter the house, where they found Guzman Lopez inside, the cabinet said.

Authorities said Thursday that while officers in the home were under siege, other “organized crime groups” attacked residents in other parts of Culiacan, “generating a situation of panic.”

Video posted online from the city showed children hiding with their parents behind cars waiting for the gunfire to stop and terrified residents abandoned their cars on the streets and ran as shooting sounded behind them. Images showed the skies above Culiacan darkened with smoke from burning vehicles.

At least eight people were killed and at least 16 were injured, according to El Universal newspaper.

Mexico’s Security Cabinet said Friday that after seeing the violence raging, authorities ordered the team to leave the house. Afterward, the criminal group stopped the assaults and freed the Army personnel that had been held, the security cabinet said Friday.

Police suspended the operation between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Mexico City time. There was no formal arrest of Guzman Lopez, authorities said.

The security cabinet said that one civilian had been killed in the shootout. There had also been “19 roadblocks; 14 gun attacks against the Mexican Army and the National Guard; seven members injured; and nine members detained by the cartel [but] then freed without injuries,” the cabinet said Friday.

A state police officer and two municipal police officers had also been injured and eight vehicles and one helicopter were hit by firearms.

“This decision was made to protect citizens. You can’t fight fire with fire. That’s the difference with this strategy compared with what previous governments have done. We don’t want deaths. We don’t want war,” Mexico’s president said Friday. “The strategy that had been applied turned the country into a cemetery and that’s not what we want anymore.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Ancient city uncovered in Cambodia

DannyIacob/iStock(NEW YORK) — Researchers have uncovered an ancient city in Cambodia that was one of the first capitals in the Khmer Empire.

The sprawling city of Mahendraparvata, which has long been rumored to exist, was identified on the Phnom Kulen plateau using airborne laser scanning that had a “unique ability to ‘see through’ vegetation and provide high-resolution models of the forest floor,” according to a report from the scientists.

“Here, we confirm the hypothesis, based on this accumulated body of evidence, that Mahendraparvata — the eighth- to ninth-century AD capital of the Khmer Empire — was located on the Phnom Kulen massif,” the report read.

The Khmer Empire, at its peak, governed much of what is today Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam.

The discovery gave scientists a detailed look at the city.

Their findings revealed “a formally planned, densely inhabited urban core surrounded by an extensive network of low-density neighborhoods, water-management systems, agricultural networks and transportation links to settlements around other major temple sites.”

The most striking discovery, the scientists said, was that the city was built on linear axes that corresponded to cardinal directions, similar to a more modern city.

The centrally-planned urban area spanned around 9,800 to 12,000 acres on the plateau.

Phnom Kulen had long been under-researched, according to the report.

The site is difficult to access and covered with dense vegetation. Moreover, it was believed that landmines had been placed there by the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, causing scientists to stay away.

However, the research efforts from the scientists revealed the city that had been there.

“We should soon be able to construct finer-grained demographic models and finally resolve basic questions concerning the extent and population of Angkor, and how that changed over the centuries,” the report concluded.

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Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Over 1,000 goats needed to clear dry brush from California to help prevent wildfires

eyecrave/iStock(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) — There a number of ways to prevent wildfires, but for the city of Laguna Beach, California, fire officials used a unique method, in fact,1,000 of them.

As of Friday, more than 1,000 goats were chewing their way through dry weeds and grass, vegetation that Laguna Beach’s Fire Marshall, James Brown is calling “fuel” for fire. Best suited for the geography and topography of the city due to their ability to maneuver steep and rocky slopes, goats and herders from Peru have cleared 80% of this year’s 250-acre goal.

Laguna Beach’s goat program began in 1992, a year after the city of Oakland tested its own goat program in response to the Oakland-Berkley fire of 1991. Brown told ABC News that with 250 goats, the Laguna Beach fire officials moved forward with the program after it proved extremely effective during the fire season.

This is largest group of goats they’ve had in the history of the program. Officials even added a third herd to cover more acres, Brown told ABC News.

“The Laguna Beach residents appreciate what the goats do to protect their community, and are very supportive of our program,” Brown said. “They have also been very supportive of the herders who tend to the goats, and welcome the herders each year when they come through the neighborhood.”

This year, Laguna Beach experienced a wet season prompting a super bloom. Brown says while a super bloom may seem great, the vast growth becomes fuel for a fire when it dries out.

 This is where the goats come in.

The goats are just one of five prongs of fire-prevention methods used by the city. Other prongs include hands crew, weed abatement, complaint-based removal and enforcing building development requirements for fire safety landscaping.

“The City of Laguna Beach has been using goats for fuel modification for over 25 years, and they have proven very effective at reducing the dead vegetation fuel load and helping to protect our City,” Brown said. “They have also been very cost-effective, and typically are 10% or less per acre of what a hand crew charges.”

Brown says he looks forward to expanding the department’s fuel modification program over the next 10 years with the goal to cover the entire perimeter of Laguna Beach.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Ambassador to EU Sondland told Congress quid pro quo described by Mulvaney would be improper

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators he believed it would be improper for the White House to withhold military aid until Ukraine conducted an investigation related to the 2016 election, according to sources familiar with his testimony.

Sondland testified for more than nine hours on Capitol Hill Thursday, as Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that the president had cut off military aid to Ukraine in part to pressure Ukrainian officials to probe Democrats, and an unsubstantiated theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the Democratic National Committee in the 2016 election.

Asked about the comments from Mulvaney, Sondland said that the arrangement, if described accurately, would be improper, but did not say whether he believed it to be illegal, according to sources familiar with his remarks.

Mulvaney tried to walk back his White House comments in a statement Thursday denying what he had said in the press briefing room constituted a quid pro quo, though not walking back any of those original remarks. And Democrats seized on his initial remarks.

“You can’t exert pressure on a foreign government to do anything for your election benefit,” Rep. Raka Krishnamoorthi, D-Illionis, told reporters.

Republicans, including some who were startled by Mulvaney’s initial comments, quickly pointed to his follow up statement, and insisted he had misspoken.

“Based on my conversations, not only with Mick Mulvaney but others, in addition to the five witnesses we’ve had, I have zero concern – zero concern – that aid was withheld for any political reason,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Friday. “I don’t think he’s incorrect, I know he’s incorrect.”

Sondland, who despite his official title, played a large role in the administration’s Ukraine policy and events at the center of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, told investigators Trump had directed him and others to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to push Ukraine to conduct investigations, but that he wasn’t aware of the efforts and their motives, according to his opening statement obtained by ABC News.

He told investigators that he and other senior administration officials disagreed with Trump’s request to work with Giuliani, but said that he felt he could not ignore a directive from the president.

“Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the President’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine,” he told lawmakers, according to his opening statement.

“However, based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns.”

Other diplomats and former administration officials who have appeared before Congress have suggested that Sondland was a key player in efforts to push Ukraine to conduct investigations outside of normal diplomatic channels.

Sondland told lawmakers he was not aware of a connection between the push to investigate Ukrainian energy company Burisma and the Biden family, and did not know initially that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the company board – a claim that some lawmakers were skepitcal of, in light of Giuliani’s many social media posts and interviews on the subject at the same time.

“I read the opening statement, and everything that followed, as Mr. Sondland engaging in a C.Y.A. operation for himself,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said.
“Giuliani made no secret of what he was doing,” he added, referencing an appearance Giuliani made on Fox News in April.

House investigators have heard from other witnesses who have raised questions about Sondland’s role in the administration’s Ukraine policy and work with Giuliani and other senior officials.

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for European and Russian affairs, told House impeachment investigators that she believed Sondland was a potential national security risk, given his inexperience and extensive use of a personal cell phone for official diplomatic businesses, sources familiar with her testimony earlier this week told ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Tropical Storm Nestor takes aim at Florida: ‘Residents should prepare now’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico strengthened to Tropical Storm Nestor Friday afternoon as it takes aim at the Florida Panhandle.

Nestor is moving quickly and is set to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle near Panama City on Saturday morning, bringing tropical storm-force winds and dangerous storm surge.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

Bands of rain will move in Friday night, and by Saturday morning, Floridians will see heavy rainfall and strong, gusty winds.

In the impact zone is Mexico Beach, Florida, which was devastated by Category 5 Hurricane Michael last year.

Mexico Beach resident Gail Evans lost her three-bedroom home from Michael and has been living in her RV for over a year — and now she’s worried about Nestor.

“I hope that it’s not that bad,” she told ABC News Friday. “I’m hoping there’s not a lot of wind to lift anything … everything depends on if it strengthens coming in, which is what Michael did.”

If the wind is significant, Evans said, “I’ll have to leave.”

The biggest threat with this storm will be storm surge, as ocean water could rise up to 5 feet from Apalachicola to Cedar Key, Florida. Water could also rise up to 4 feet as far south as Clearwater.

Storm surge warnings have been issued from Apalachicola to Clearwater.

“Residents should prepare now for the chance of flooding & power disruption,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Thursday.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards added, “Until we know the exact track of the storm & the potential impact areas, it is important for everyone to stay informed & prepare now. Hopefully, most of the severe weather will remain south of Louisiana, but we must stand ready in case the conditions change.”

Up to 6 inches of rain is possible in the Florida Panhandle.

Winds aren’t forecast to be too strong, with gusts near 50 mph possible.

Because the storm is moving quickly, conditions will improve along the Florida Panhandle mid-day Saturday.

Saturday evening, what’s left of Nestor move through Georgia and the Carolinas, bringing about 2 to 4 inches of rain.

By Sunday morning, Nestor’s remnants will sweep across eastern North Carolina, then move off the mid-Atlantic coast and out to sea.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Hillary Clinton says Russians are ‘grooming’ a 2020 candidate for third-party run

Martin Holverda/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Former Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, without naming names — and just ahead of the debate — said that a female 2020 candidate is a “favorite of the Russians”–comments that picked up steam on Friday on social media.

“They’re also going to do third-party again. And I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far…” Clinton told David Plouffe on “Campaign HQ”, a podcast run by the 2008 Obama campaign manager.

Clinton does not mention Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard by name and there are five Democratic women running for president this cycle: Gabbard, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Kloubuchar, California Sen. Kamala Harria and author Marianne Williamson. However, the comment appeared to be aimed at Gabbard.

Gabbard fired back on Twitter on Friday afternoon.

The Hawaiian lawmaker recently addressed criticism that her campaign is being aided by Russian propaganda efforts– a narrative that has appeared recently in such places as the New York Times. The news outlet reported last week that some Democrats worry about Russian bot influence due to Gabbard’s apparent popularity on and mentions in Russian news media and on such places as 4chan, an online message board popular with right-wing groups.

Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill told CNN in response to a question about whether the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard: “If the nesting doll fits.”

“This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality,” Merrill told CNN. “If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation.”

Gabbard addressed speculation about being boosted by Russia on ABC’s “This Week” in May, after being asked about an article published in The Daily Beast titled “Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists.”

The Daily Beast article said that Gabbard’s campaign was being “underwritten by some of the nation’s leading Russophiles,” and highlighted donations from supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The piece says that those donors’ views are likely to align more closely with Gabbard’s on subjects like Syria. As a member of Congress, she has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and criticized a U.S. strike against the Syrian government, receiving backlash from other Democrats in Congress.

“You know, it’s unfortunate that you’re citing that article, George, because it’s a whole lot of fake news,” Gabbard said. “What I am focused on is what is in the best interest of the American people. What is in the best interest of our national security. Keeping the American people safe.”

Clinton’s team has not responded to a request from ABC News for comment.

ABC News has also reached out to Gabbard’s campaign for a response.

Gabbard has previously said on multiple occasions that she will not run as a third-party candidate should she fail to net the Democratic presidential nomination.

Last week, Gabbard threatened to boycott the fourth Democratic debate, hosted by CNN and the New York times, accusing them of “rigging” the 2020 election.

“I am seriously considering boycotting October 15 debate to bring attention to DNC/corporate media’s effort to rig 2020 primary,” she tweeted.

Last Saturday, Gabbard tweeted, “As if to prove my point, NYT just published a “greatest hits” smear piece. All your favorite hits in one article! These are the folks who will be acting as the “neutral” questioners/ moderators of Tuesday’s debate lol”

Gabbard ended up joining the other candidates on the stage Tuesday night.

Some of Gabbard’s Democratic competitors weighed in on Twitter, too. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker tweeted a GIF in response to Gabbard.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Jane Fonda arrested again at another U.S. Capitol climate protest

iStock/rarrarorro(WASHINGTON D.C.) — Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda, 81, was arrested by police with a group of about a dozen protesters Friday after being warned repeatedly to leave the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Inspired by young climate activists like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, Fonda recently told ABC News that every Friday while she’s in the nation’s capital, she’ll attend “Fire Drill Friday,” a weekly event featuring scientists, celebrities and activists addressing the various facets and impacts of climate change.

Fonda, who has a long career in activism, told ABC News in an earlier interview about her planned effort, “11 o’clock every Friday morning come get arrested with me, or choose not to — it doesn’t matter.”

The actress reportedly decided to leave her home and move to Washington for four months, because she wanted to “make a commitment to” the issue of climate change.

“Fire Drill Friday” is a reference to Thunberg saying during a speech at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January, “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”

In an interview with ABC News Deputy Political director MaryAlice Parks for an episode of of ABC News Live’s The Briefing Room, Fonda said that it’s the kids who are leading the charge when it comes to fighting climate change.

“And so, grandmas unite,” she said. “I want to stand with them and raise up…their message. This is serious…this is a crisis unlike anything that has ever faced humankind.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 18 Oct 2019

Trump dismisses Mulvaney admitting Ukraine quid pro quo: ‘I think he clarified it’

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s stunning admission that there was a quid-pro-quo in regard to U.S. military aid for Ukraine and investigating Democrats, contradicting the president’s consistent denials about a key subject of the House impeachment inquiry.

At an event in the White House Roosevelt Room Friday afternoon, a reporter asked Trump: “Mr. President, do you want to clarify what Mick Mulvaney said yesterday?”

Trump replied quickly, “I think he clarified it,” before pivoting to off-topic comments about his visit to Texas on Thursday.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham appeared on Fox and Friends Friday morning, praising Mulvaney’s performance at his briefing Thursday, emphasizing that “we put a statement out clarifying some of the things that the media got themselves in a tizzy over.”

While Mulvaney, in a statement issued Thursday evening after his admission set of a political firestorm, claimed the press had decided to “misconstrue” what he had said — despite reporting using the actual words he spoke in the White House briefing room hours earlier — the president, who seemingly attacks the so-called “Fake News” at nearly every opportunity, did not weigh in further about Mulvaney’s admission.

At midday Thursday, Mulvaney had recounted that the president told him he didn’t want to send Ukraine “a bunch of money and have them waste it, and have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets.”

“Those were the driving factors,” Mulvaney told reporters in the White House briefing room. “Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it and that’s why we held up the money.” (The “server” reference is to a debunked conspiracy theory that Trump has long clung to: that the Democratic National Committee’s hacked email server was being held in Ukraine – and that individuals in Ukraine were behind an effort to sabotage his 2016 election. Last month, Trump’s own former homeland security adviser called the theory “completely false.” )

“So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered you to withhold funding to Ukraine?” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked.

“’Look back to what happened in 2016,’ certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with the nation,” Mulvaney said. “And that is absolutely equivalent.”

“What you described is a quid pro quo,” Karl pressed. “It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democrats’ server happens as well.”

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney answered.

In a terse statement issued Thursday evening, Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said, “The President’s legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.”

After hours of backlash, Mulvaney attempted to clarify his comments shortly after Thursday.

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump. Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney noted. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.”

Mulvaney added in the statement that he repeatedly cited the president’s interest in “rooting out corruption in Ukraine, and ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and appropriately” during the news conference.

“There was never any connection between the funds and the Ukrainians doing anything with the server – this was made explicitly obvious by the fact that the aid money was delivered without any action on the part of the Ukrainians regarding the server,” he said. “There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.”

 Mulvaney did not mention that a rough White House transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shows the investigation into alleged corruption Trump and the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, wanted specified a probe of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board.

Asked whether Giuliani’s role was problematic, Mulvaney dismissed questions raised about having a private citizen, not a government official, involved in U.S. foreign policy.

“It is not illegal, it is not impeachable. The president gets to use who he wants to use. If he wants to fire me and hire someone else, he can. The president gets to set foreign policy. He gets to choose who to do so. As long as it does not violate law or laws regarding confidential information or classified material or anything like that the president can use who he wants tom” he argued.

Mulvaney, who stepped into the role of acting chief of staff from his post as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, insisted that an investigation of Joe Biden was not part of the equation, and dismissed the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt.”

“I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said. “That is going to happen. Elections have consequences and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.”

While previous American presidents have pressured foreign leaders in order to achieve U.S. policy objectives, it has not been considered acceptable that they could do so for the personal benefit they might get from an investigation into political opponents, and many Democrats have said doing so, by itself, is grounds for impeachment.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who heads the House Intelligence Committee and is leading the impeachment investigation, called Mulvaney’s blocking of the aid “illicit.”

“With his acknowledgement now that military aid to a vital ally, battling Russia as we speak, was withheld in part out of the desire by the president to have Ukraine investigate the DNC server or Democrats of 2016, things have just gone from very, very bad to much, much worse,” Schiff said. “The idea that vital military assistance would be withheld for such a patently political reason, for reason of serving the presidential election campaign, is a phenomenal breach of the president’s duty to defend our national security.”

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Posted On 18 Oct 2019