Pentagon official testifies that she was told Ukrainians were alarmed by stalled aid

(CNN)A key Pentagon official told House impeachment investigators that former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker told her Ukrainian officials were alarmed in August that US security aid was being held up an indication Kiev was aware of the delay earlier than it was reported publicly, according to a deposition transcript released Monday. Cooper’s deposition was one of three transcripts released Monday by House Democrats. They also made public the interviews last month of two former deputies of Volker, Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson. According to his opening statement, Anderson told lawmakers last month that then-national security adviser John Bolton cautioned about the influence Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani had on US-Ukraine policymaking during a meeting in mid-June with …

Washington Post/New York Times: ‘Anonymous’ author claims officials considered resigning last year to sound alarm about Trump

Washington (CNN)The anonymous senior Trump administration official claims in their forthcoming book that Trump officials considered resigning together last year in a “midnight self-massacre” in hopes to sound an alarm about President Donald Trump, according to an excerpt obtained by The Washington Post. In excerpts published by the Post, which obtained a copy of the book, the author writes: “I was wrong about the ‘quiet resistance’ inside the Trump administration. Unelected bureaucrats and cabinet appointees were never going to steer Donald Trump the right direction in the long run, or refine his malignant management style. He is who he is.” The book describes the President as dealing with each new political crisis “like a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control …

Trump’s focus on Biden also highlights his own questionable business arrangements

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has spent the last few weeks holding up former Vice President Joe Biden as the poster child of political corruption, relentlessly harping on discredited allegations that Biden abused his powers to protect his son’s business interests. Hunter Biden announced on Sunday that he would resign from the board of a Chinese-backed company and pledged that he would not do business with any foreign-owned companies if his father is elected in 2020. This plan, if Hunter Biden sticks to it, offers a much cleaner break from foreign business entanglements than Trump’s family has pursued during his first term in office. It looks like Trump’s family has done some of the same things that he now says create …

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar say they ‘see pathway’ to Brexit deal

Taoiseach convinced UK and Ireland want an agreement in interests of all parties Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar have agreed there is a pathway to a possible Brexit deal, surprising sceptical EU officials with their upbeat assessment after more than three hours of private talks. The British prime minister hosted his Irish counterpart at a country house in the north-west of England for talks on Thursday that had been expected to break down. But when the pair emerged from discussions they painted a more optimistic picture, suggesting the Brexit logjam could be broken by the end of the month. The pair issued a positive joint statement, although Varadkar said afterwards that while he believed the outline of a deal would …

Trump raised Biden with Xi in June call housed in highly secure server

Washington (CNN)When President Donald Trump suggested without prompting that China should investigate Joe Biden and his son, he thrust another political grudge into what was already the world’s most complicated and consequential relationship. The White House record of that call was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s President and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint that’s led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Asked earlier this week about Trump’s call with Xi, the White House did not deny that he raised Biden. “World leaders need to be able to speak freely in their conversations with the President–that is a key component to effective diplomacy. And that is …

Lessons from Obama’s tan suit 5th anniversary

Washington (CNN)It’s been five years since then-President Barack Obama gave a news conference at the White House and announced “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS in Syria. It was a serious and consequential development, which, Obama added, he hoped to remedy shortly by meeting with his military and national security advisers. The crux of the issue was the shock of seeing Obama stepping out on his normal, traditional blue or gray suits that it caused such a divisive disturbance in America’s normal sartorial acceptance of the President’s choices. New York Rep. Peter King zeroed in on it during a CNN appearance at the time, saying it made the country look less serious about taking on ISIS. “(Obama) …

Owner of SoulCycle and the Miami Dolphins faces outrage and calls for boycott over Trump fundraiser

(CNN)The billionaire owner of Equinox is planning a high-dollar Hamptons fundraiser for President Donald Trump, leading to calls for a boycott of the luxury gym and its associated businesses SoulCycle and Blink Fitness. “Sorry @soulcycle … you can’t peddle ‘inspiration’ in your classes and have an owner funding hate and racism in the back room,” actor Conrad Ricamora wrote. “Byyyeeeeeeeeeee.” Ross responded in a statement to CNN, saying that “I have always been an active participant in the democratic process. … I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions. … I have been, and will continue to …

Robert Mueller tells Congress his report did not exonerate Trump

(CNN)Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that his investigation did not “totally exonerate” President Donald Trump as the President has claimed. After weeks of negotiations, twists and turns over Mueller’s appearance and a pair of subpoenas, the former special counsel is now answering questions about his probe for the first time before the House Judiciary Committee, and will appear at noon ET before the House Intelligence Committee. The former special counsel’s testimony is the closest thing to a make-or-break moment as it gets for Democrats in their investigations into the President. It’s a potential turning point for the House Democratic impeachment caucus that’s banking Mueller can reset the conversation about the special counsel investigation and convince the …

Donald Trump met with Twitter’s CEO

Can you picture a scenario in which Oreo cookies are discussed at a House Financial Services Committee hearing? No? That’s OK. No need to imagine hypotheticals, because as it turns out, on Tuesday HUD Secretary Ben Carson name-dropped the popular Nabisco sandwich cookie on the stand. He accidentally mixed Oreo cookies up with REO, a common real estate term. Casual! After California Congresswoman Katie Porter asked Carson to explain a disparity in REO rates, she took the time to confirm that he actually knew what REO stood for. And it’s a good thing she double checked, because Carson most certainly did not know. pic.twitter.com/GPsOCgQDxT — Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 21, 2019 After the hearing, Carson tried to recover from the …

Elizabeth Warren’s first law review article blasted an anti-busing court ruling

Washington (CNN)The most dramatic showdown during the first Democratic debate was between Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden over his decades-long opposition to desegregation busing. At the time, busing was a highly unpopular policy in the US. Public polling in the mid-1970s found about three-quarters of Americans opposed it. Warren’s communications director Kristen Orthman told CNN that Warren stood by the article today and supported the Strength in Diversity Act, a bill which would “support voluntary local efforts to increase racial diversity and socioeconomic diversity.” “In addition, if localities are not taking action to desegregate schools, Elizabeth believes the federal government has a constitutional obligation to step in to deliver on the promise of Brown v. Board, …

Drone shooting raises risk of war, exposes Iran divides in Trump team

Washington (CNN)Iran’s downing of a US drone takes the bitter foes one step higher in a cycle of escalation that could soon overwhelm each side’s reassurances that they have no desire to tumble into war. Already, it is making Trump’s protests that everything is just fine look out of date and superficial — at a time when his 2020 campaign’s claims to have restored leadership in the world are being outpaced by events. “Don’t worry about a thing, everything’s under control, don’t worry about a thing,” Trump told Fox’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday. The events of recent weeks, including attacks on several energy tankers in the Gulf of Oman — which Iran has been blamed for and denied — and …