U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, in the latest wave of clemency to benefit longtime associates and supporters.
The actions, in Trump’s final weeks at the White House, bring to nearly 50 the number of people whom the president in the last two days has granted clemency.
Pardons are common in the final stretch of a president’s tenure, but Trump has proven himself determined to use his clemency power not only to reward his allies but to support the causes of convicts championed by his friends.
The pardons of Manafort and Roger Stone, who months earlier had his sentence commuted by Trump, underscore the president’s determination to use the power of his office to unravel the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and to come to the aid of associates he feels were wrongly pursued.
Trump has now pardoned four people convicted in that investigation, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Manafort, who led Trump’s campaign during a pivotal 2016 period before being ousted over his ties to Ukraine, had been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine.
He was among the first people charged as part of Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. He was released to home confinement last May because of coronavirus concerns in the U.S. prison system.
Though the charges against Manafort did not concern the central thrust of Mueller’s mandate — whether the Trump campaign and Russia colluded to tip the election — he was nonetheless a pivotal figure in the investigation.
His close relationship to a man U.S. officials have linked to Russian intelligence, and with whom he shared internal campaign polling data, attracted particular scrutiny during the investigation, though Mueller never charged any Trump associate with conspiring with Russia.
Mr. President, my family & I humbly thank you for the Presidential Pardon you bestowed on me. Words cannot fully convey how grateful we are.
Manafort, in a tweet, thanked Trump and lavished praise on the outgoing president, declaring that history would show he had accomplished more than any of his predecessors.
Trump did not pardon Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, who was sentenced last year to 45 days in prison but extensively co-operated with prosecutors, or former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance crimes related to his efforts to buy the silence of women who said they had sexual relationships with Trump. Both were also convicted in the Mueller probe.
Kushner is the father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a wealthy real estate executive who pleaded guilty years ago to tax evasion and making illegal campaign donations. Trump and the elder Kushner knew each other from real estate circles, and their children were married in 2009.
Trump’s legally troubled allies were not the only recipients of clemency Wednesday night.
The long list included people whose pleas for forgiveness have been promoted by people supporting the president throughout his term in office, among them former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Clashes broke out in Hong Kong’s legislature Monday for a second time this month as a pro-Beijing lawmaker was elected as chair of a key committee that scrutinizes bills, ending a prolonged struggle for control with the pro-democracy camp.
The legislature’s house committee, which vets bills and decides when to present them for a final vote, had been without a chairperson for more than six months. The central government in Beijing criticized deputy chairman and pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok for deliberately delaying matters and causing a backlog of bills that affect public interest.
Kwok was replaced Friday by Chan Kin-por, who was appointed by the legislature’s president to preside over Monday’s election. After scuffles and shouting matches led to Chan ejecting most of the pro-democracy lawmakers, the election took place, with pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee winning easily.
Her election will likely speed up the passing of a controversial bill that would criminalize abuse of the Chinese national anthem. Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said last week that passing the bill was a priority for the government, and the bill will be presented to the committee on May 27.
The move “highlights how Beijing aims to reassert control over Hong Kong,” said political and corporate risk consultant Steve Vickers, the CEO of Steve Vickers and Associates. Besides the anthem bill, he noted a recent call by the Chinese central government’s top representative in Hong Kong to enact a national security law.
At Monday’s meeting, pro-democracy lawmakers held up placards that read “Abuse of Power” and “CCP tramples HK legislature,” referring to China’s ruling Communist Party. Within minutes, at least five lawmakers were ejected for disorderly behaviour, with at least one lying injured on the ground as the meeting was briefly suspended.
“Hong Kong is marching toward the beginning of the end of `one country, two systems’,” pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo aid after the meeting ended. The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework that gives Hong Kong its own legal system and greater rights than in the mainland.
Mo urged Hong Kong residents to vote out those who “don’t care about Hong Kong’s future” in the legislative elections in September.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Tanya Chan accused security guards at Hong Kong’s legislature of “losing their impartiality,” after the guards surrounded the bench where the chairperson was seated and prevented pro-democracy lawmakers from getting close.
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Martin Liao said the opposition camp had “assaulted some of the security officers” and disrupted “legitimate” election proceedings.
Lawmakers clashed over the same issue on May 8, when Lee occupied the chair’s seat more than an hour before the meeting was scheduled to start, saying that external legal counsel had advised that she had the power to preside over house committee meetings.
Pro-democracy lawmakers accused her of abusing her power and staged a walkout, leaving Lee and the pro-Beijing camp to clear several bills.
Also Monday, 15 pro-democracy figures, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, appeared in court to face charges relating to months of anti-government protests last year sparked by an extradition bill that has since been withdrawn. The bill would have allowed residents of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, to be sent to mainland to stand trial.
Lai, whose Apple Daily newspaper is critical of the Communist Party, and former lawmaker Martin Lee stood together as they tried to get through a media scrum outside the court in West Kowloon district. They and the other activists were arrested on April 18.
“We want to announce to the world that the root of disturbance in Hong Kong is the Chinese Communist Party, destroying, interfering with ‘one country, two systems,”‘ activist Lee Cheuk-yan said as the group stood together before going in.
Vickers, the consultant, said some see the arrests as an attempt to neutralize key opposition leaders ahead of the legislative elections in September.
Interpol issued a wanted notice Thursday for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon rather than face trial on financial misconduct charges, in a dramatic escape that has confounded and embarrassed authorities.
Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan told The Associated Press in an interview that the Red Notice for the ex-automotive titan was received earlier in the day by the prosecution. Red Notices are requests to law enforcement agencies worldwide that they locate and provisionally arrest a wanted fugitive.
Serhan said the Lebanese prosecution “will carry out its duties,” suggesting for the first time that Ghosn may be brought in for questioning, but also said Lebanon and Japan don’t have an extradition treaty, ruling out the possibility that Beirut would hand Ghosn over to Japan.
The Interpol notice is the latest twist in Ghosn’s daring escape, which spanned three continents and involved private planes, multiple passports and international intrigue. Turkey made several arrests Thursday as part of an investigation into how he passed through the country.
Ghosn skipped bail and fled before his trial on financial misconduct charges. He issued a statement Thursday that said his family didn’t play a role in his escape.
“There has been speculation in the media that my wife Carole and other members of my family played a role in my departure from Japan. All such speculation is inaccurate and false,” the statement read.
“I alone arranged for my departure. My family had no role whatsoever.”
Ghosn, who is Lebanese and also holds French and Brazilian passports, was set to go on trial in Japan in April. He arrived in Lebanon on Monday via Turkey and hasn’t been seen in public since.
In a statement released Tuesday, Ghosn said he left for Lebanon because he thought the Japanese judicial system was unjust, and he wanted to avoid “political persecution.” He said he would talk to reporters next week.
A Japanese court had granted him bail — despite prosecutors fighting against it — with conditions he be monitored and could not meet with his wife, who is currently in Lebanon, according to media reports. The court previously allowed them to speak by video calls.
Ghosn’s $ 14-million US bail, which he posted on two separate instances to get out of detention, is being revoked.
A hero in Lebanon
Ghosn, who grew up in Beirut and frequently visited, is a national hero to many in this Mediterranean country. He has close ties to senior politicians and business stakes in a number of companies. People take special pride in the auto industry executive, who is credited with leading a spectacular turnaround at Nissan beginning in the late 1990s and rescuing the automaker from near-bankruptcy.
Even as he fell from grace internationally, politicians across the board mobilized in his defence after his arrest in Japan in November 2018, with some suggesting his detention may be part of a political or business-motivated conspiracy. Lebanon’s foreign minister repeatedly called for his release.
Serhan said prosecutors will summon Ghosn and listen to him, and “at a later stage if there are any measures to be taken, then the precautionary measures will be taken.”
“We are a country of law and respect the law and … I can confirm that the Lebanese state will implement the law,” the justice minister said.
At the same time, Serhan said that Lebanon has not received an official extradition request from Japan, and he noted that the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.
“Mr. Ghosn arrived to Lebanon as any ordinary citizen.… Lebanese authorities have no security or judiciary charges against him. He entered the border like any other Lebanese using a legal passport,” he added.
Turkey detains 7 as part of investigation
Earlier Thursday, Turkish police detained seven people — including four pilots — in an investigation into how Ghosn transited through Istanbul en route to Lebanon after fleeing Japan, a police spokesperson told Reuters.
The spokesperson said the other detainees were two airport ground workers and one cargo worker and all seven were expected to give statements before a court on Thursday.
Media reports said Turkey’s Interior Ministry had begun an investigation into Ghosn’s transit.
It is unclear how Ghosn avoided the tight surveillance he was under in Japan and showed up in Lebanon. Ghosn’s lawyers in Japan said they had no knowledge of the escape, and they had all his passports. Ghosn has French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship.
However, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported Thursday that authorities allowed Ghosn to carry a spare French passport in a locked case while out on bail, shedding some light on how he managed his escape to Lebanon.
A plane carrying Ghosn arrived at 5:30 am local time Monday at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Turkish news website Hurriyet reported, adding that prosecutors ordered the arrests after widening their investigation.
Flight tracking data from that time suggests that Ghosn used two different planes to fly into Istanbul and then on to Lebanon.
Hurriyet, citing an interior ministry official, said Turkish border police were not notified about Ghosn’s arrival, and neither his entry nor exit were registered.
The businessman was smuggled out of Tokyo by a private security company days ago, the culmination of a plan that was crafted over three months, Reuters has reported.
The Lebanese minister for presidential affairs, Selim Jreissati, told the An-Nahar newspaper that Ghosn entered legally at the airport with a French passport and Lebanese ID.
Japanese prosecutors raid Tokyo home
Japanese prosecutors on Thursday raided Ghosn’s Tokyo home, but prosecutors and police did not immediately comment as government offices in Japan are closed this week for the New Year’s holidays.
Japanese media showed investigators entering the home, which was Ghosn’s third residence in Tokyo since he was first arrested a year ago. Authorities have now searched each one.
Ghosn, who was charged in Japan with underreporting his future compensation and breach of trust, has repeatedly asserted his innocence, saying authorities trumped up charges to prevent a possible fuller merger between Nissan Motor Co. and alliance partner Renault SA.
In Beirut’s affluent residential neighbourhood of Ashrafieh, several security guards stood outside Ghosn’s rose-coloured mansion Thursday along with about two dozen journalists. Since news of his arrival, journalists, including many from the Japanese media, have flocked outside the building, trying to capture any proof of his presence.
At one point, a Lebanese lawyer who said he worked for Nissan appeared, claiming the building belonged to the auto company, not to Ghosn.
One of Ghosn’s neighbours, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they are “split as to whether they are with or against his return.”
This is almost as big, if not bigger, than climate change.– Brett Finlay, panel chair
This increase is expected to cost Canada 396,000 lives, $ 120 billion in hospital expenses and $ 388 billion in gross domestic product over the next three decades.
“This is almost as big, if not bigger, than climate change in a sense because this is directly impacting people. The numbers are just staggering,” Brett Finlay, a University of British Columbia microbiology professor who chaired the panel, said in an interview. “It’s time to do something now.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada commissioned the report on the socio-economic impacts of antimicrobial resistance and the Council of Canadian Academies assembled the independent panel. The 268-page document released Tuesday represents the most comprehensive picture to date of the country’s resistance rate, as well as its costs to the health system and economy.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, evolve to resist the drugs that would otherwise kill them. Unnecessary antimicrobial use in humans and agriculture exacerbates the problem, and widespread international travel and trade help resistant bacteria spread around the world.
The most common antimicrobials are antibiotics, which treat infections caused by bacteria. The report focuses on resistant bacteria, but uses the broader term antimicrobial because surveillance data tend to be collected under this heading.
Canada slow to act
An investigation by The Canadian Press last year revealed Canada has been sluggish to act on the growing threat. At that time, the government did not know how many Canadians were dying of resistant infections and it had not produced a plan that lays out responsibilities for provinces and territories.
A pan-Canadian action plan has still not materialized, but the new report estimates an annual death toll in Canada. The panel used the current resistance rate of 26 per cent to calculate resistant infections contributed to over 14,000 deaths in 2018, and of those, 5,400 were directly attributable to the infections — only slightly less than those caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
The panel’s economists used a more cautious model to project the impacts than a well-known international report by British economist Jim O’Neill, which predicted up to 10 million global deaths annually by 2050.
The Canadian report’s findings on the economic and social toll of antimicrobial resistance are stark. Currently, the problem costs the national health-care system $ 1.4 billion a year, and by 2050, that figure is projected to grow to $ 7.6 billion, the report says. The cost to GDP is expected to jump from $ 2 billion to up to $ 21 billion annually.
Resistant infections decrease quality of life while increasing isolation and stigma and the impact will be unequally distributed as some socio-economic groups are more at risk, the report adds. These groups include Indigenous, low-income and homeless people, as well as those who travel to developing countries where resistant microbes are more common.
“Discrimination may be targeted at those with resistant infections or deemed to be at risk of infection,” the report warns. “Canadian society may become less open and trusting, with people less likely to travel and more supportive of closing Canada’s borders to migration and tourists.”
Antimicrobial resistance has the potential to impact everyone, Finlay says.
“It’s going to change the world,” he says. “We all go to hospitals and we all get infections.”
The report notes that resistance could increase the risk and reduce the availability of routine medical procedures including kidney dialysis, joint replacement, chemotherapy and caesarean section. These procedures all carry a threat of infections for which antibiotics are commonly prescribed.
Limiting the impacts of antimicrobial resistance requires a “complete re-evaluation” of health care in Canada, the report concludes.
The panel states that Canada lacks an effective federal, provincial and territorial surveillance system of antimicrobial resistance and use, with little comprehensive data describing the number of resistant infections and their characteristics.
It also calls for improved stewardship involving careful use of antimicrobials to preserve their effectiveness, strict infection prevention and control through hand hygiene, equipment cleaning and research and innovation for new treatments.
The report notes it’s unlikely that new broad-spectrum antimicrobials will be discovered. None have been found in decades and there’s little profit incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in drugs that quickly cure patients. However, the panel calls for more flexible regulations and incentives to promote discovery of new antimicrobials that treat infections caused by specific bacteria.
Alternative therapies are also being developed to treat or prevent resistant infections, including vaccines and treatments using phages, which are viruses that attack bacteria, the report adds.
Canada should immediately invest $ 120 million in research and innovation. and up to $ 150 million in stewardship, education and infection control, matched by the provinces and territories, says Dr. John Conly, a panel member and University of Calgary professor specializing in chronic diseases.
The government and public should “absolutely” be as concerned about antimicrobial resistance as they are about climate change, Conly says.
“It’s a slow-moving tsunami. Like a tidal wave, it’s out at sea but it’s going to land on us much sooner than climate change.”
Boeing chair Dave Calhoun said on Tuesday the company’s board believes chief executive Dennis Muilenburg “has done everything right,” just days after Muilenburg came under attack from U.S. lawmakers and repeatedly refused to step down at a hearing on two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 Max airliners.
“He has our confidence,” Calhoun said in a CNBC interview, adding that Muilenburg called him on Saturday and offered to give up much of his compensation for 2019. The board had stripped Muilenburg of his chair title last month.
“From the vantage point of our board, Dennis has done everything right.”
Boeing did not plan to cut the production rate of the 737 Max or to rebrand it, Calhoun said.
Last week, several U.S. lawmakers urged Muilenburg to resign, pressed him on whether he would refuse compensation, and criticized him and Boeing for not being entirely candid.
This week, Boeing’s CEO testified about what his company knew about the failures that led to the fatal crashes of two of its 737 Max 8 aircraft. Our Second Look panel examines whether the company has done enough to win back the trust of both the flying public and regulators. 12:07
Muilenburg repeatedly said last week his focus was on seeing the Max through to returning to service and told Congress: “It’s not about the money for me.”
Calhoun said Muilenburg is giving up his bonuses this year and will not receive one until after the Max flies again.
In the wake of the criticism by lawmakers, Muilenburg called Calhoun on Saturday to suggest he not be awarded any bonuses for 2019 or any equity grants “until the Max in its entirety is back in the air and flying safely,” which Calhoun said could be by the end of 2020 or in early 2021.
Remember, Dennis didn’t create this problem.– Dave Calhoun, Boeing Co chairman
“It was a significant move on his part,” Calhoun said, adding Muilenburg “always does the right thing.”
In 2018, Muilenburg received $ 23.4 million US in total compensation.
Boeing spokesperson Gordon Johndroe confirmed the board has endorsed Muilenburg’s proposal to significantly reduce his compensation.
The board is not seeking to claw back any of his prior compensation, Calhoun said.
Muilenburg faced intense grilling by U.S. lawmakers over what the company knew about its MCAS stall-prevention system linked to the two deadly crashes, and about delays in turning over internal 2016 messages that described erratic behaviour of the software in a simulator.
“Our job is to fix MCAS,” Calhoun said.
Supply questions after Max returns
Calhoun said a decision on compensation for U.S airlines, like Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc, that cancelled thousands of flights because of grounded 737 Max planes was “way long out from now.”
The two crashes, off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia, prompted the grounding of Boeing’s bestselling plane in March. A total of 346 people were killed, including 18 Canadian citizens.
“Something went drastically wrong, a total of 346 people died, and we have a duty to fix it,” Democratic congressman Peter DeFazio said last week.
Boeing is updating flight control software at the centre of both crashes. This must be approved by regulators before the plane can fly commercially again.
The planemaker has said it aims to return the 737 Max to service by the end of 2019 after making software changes.
The board is getting daily updates on the effort to return the airplane to service, said Calhoun, who has suggested Muilenburg could remain as CEO after the 737 Max begins flying again, saying: “Remember, Dennis didn’t create this problem.”
Two devastating crashes, five months apart, left 346 people dead. Both Ethiopian Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 went down shortly after take off. The victims’ families are still looking for answers. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testified in front of two committees in Washington this week about the 737 Max. Today on Front Burner, CBC correspondent Susan Ormiston tells us what he said, and how the families responded. 23:23
Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Transportation Department’s inspector general and several blue-ribbon panels are investigating the 737 Max’s certification.
The Max could return to service in Europe during the first quarter of 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Monday.
While the European regulator expects to give its approval in January, preparations by national authorities and airlines may delay the resumption of commercial flights by up to another two months, EASA executive director Patrick Ky indicated.
“If there are training requirements [and] coordination to be done with the EU member states to make sure everyone does the same thing at the same time, this will take a bit of time,” Ky said. “That’s why I’m saying the first quarter of 2020.”
Until now, most concern has focused on whether regulators would permit an orderly return to service by avoiding gaps in approvals by different countries.
But one analyst has warned of the risks in opening floodgates too quickly and overwhelming fragile growth in travel demand.
Rob Morris, global head of consultancy at U.K.-based Ascend by Cirium, said the combination of any rapid rebound in deliveries of the Max, economic worries and an accumulation of market pressures dating back before the crashes could make it hard to absorb the jets.
“Next year is the challenge. When the dam breaks and the Max starts to flow, there are going to be a lot of aircraft,” Morris told financiers at a Hong Kong briefing.
“There could potentially be as many as 1,000 surplus aircraft next year.”
The forecast is based on both a rebound in Max deliveries and a potential glut of second-hand airplanes flooding back onto the market after standing in for the Max during the grounding.
The crisis has rekindled demand for older and less efficient jets, with airlines using more than 800 planes that are more than 15 years old, compared to conditions four years ago, Morris told the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers conference on Tuesday.
Still, Morris and other delegates at back-to-back aviation finance gatherings in Hong Kong agreed it would take Boeing 18 months or longer to deliver all the stranded aircraft.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday escalated his attacks against the Democratic lawmaker leading the impeachment inquiry against him, suggesting on Twitter that House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff be arrested for “treason.”
The comment is likely to inflame criticism of Trump’s handling of the scandal engulfing his presidency, stemming from a telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son.
The telephone call was included in an intelligence officer’s whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about whether the president sought to leverage U.S. aid to Ukraine for a political favour.
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in the tweet about the California representative.
Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?
The Republican president has increasingly lashed out at political opponents since House Democrats announced on Tuesday they would pursue an impeachment inquiry.
He likened the whistleblower and White House officials who gave information to the whistleblower to spies, and suggested they committed treason.
The inspector general for the director of national intelligence, Michael Atkinson, deemed the whistleblower complaint credible and urgent, while the top U.S. intelligence officer said the whistleblower acted in good faith.
The Intelligence committee is leading the inquiry in the Democratic-led House that could lead to approval of articles of impeachment against the Republican president and a subsequent trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.
Schiff said on Sunday he expects the whistleblower to appear before the panel very soon.
House committees meet during recess
The U.S. Congress is on a two-week recess, but members of the intelligence committee will return to Washington this week to carry out an investigation that is likely to produce new subpoenas for documents and other material.
The committee is scheduled to hold a closed-door hearing on Friday with Atkinson.
House investigators are set to take the first witness testimony from two people mentioned in the whistleblower’s complaint.
On Wednesday, three House committees — intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight — are due to get a deposition from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump labelled “bad news” during his call with Zelensky.
On Thursday, the committees are set to get a deposition from Kurt Volker, who resigned last week as Trump’s special representative for Ukraine after the whistleblower complaint named him as one of two U.S. diplomats who followed up with Ukrainian officials a day after Trump’s call to Zelensky.
Some House Democrats said articles of impeachment against Trump could move to the House floor as soon as next month.
“In my mind, it’s several weeks,” Democratic judiciary committee member David Cicilline of Rhode Island told reporters last week. “He has already admitted that he contacted a foreign leader and discussed with him ginning up a fake story about one of his political opponents.”
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hizono reacts to Trump tweet
Every time <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@realDonaldTrump</a> opens his mouth, the urgency of the impeachment inquiry becomes clearer.<br><br>- hurling false accusations of treason<br>- amplifying conspiracy theories<br>- intimidating a whistleblower<br><br>The President is so out of bounds, mere words of criticism don’t suffice.
Last Friday, the foreign affairs committee issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to the Ukraine scandal. House Democrats also have sought material from the White House and Justice Department.
Schiff said any effort by Trump to stonewall the probe could be used to impeach him for obstructing Congress.
Ukraine unlikely to publish transcript
On Monday, Zelensky said Kyiv was unlikely to publish its version of a transcript of the July 25 phone call with Trump.
Speaking to journalists at an event at a military site near Ukraine’s capital on Monday, Zelensky said he felt it would be wrong to share the Ukrainian summary or transcript of the call.
“Prior to the presidency I was never a diplomat, but I think I have had many such conversations in my life and will have many more,” Zelensky said.
“There are certain nuances and things which I think it would be incorrect, even, to publish.”
Asked whether Kyiv would open an investigation into the claims against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, per Trump’s request, Zelensky said Kyiv would not act solely on the orders of other countries.
“We can’t be commanded to do anything. We are an independent country,” Zelensky said.
“We are open, we are ready to investigate [but] it has nothing to do with me. Our independent law enforcement agencies are ready to investigate any case in which the law was broken.”
The lead U.S. House investigator is predicting the whistleblower who sparked impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump will testify “very soon.”
Intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff said on Sunday news talk shows on NBC and ABC that the panel and the whistleblower’s lawyers are still working out their clearances and how to keep the person’s identity secret, in talks confirmed by one of the whistleblower’s lawyers.
Lawyers continue to work with both parties in the House and Senate, “and we understand and all agree that protecting [the] whistleblower’s identity is paramount,” lawyer Mark Zaid said in a tweet Sunday.
The person’s testimony would be at the heart of a formal inquiry into whether Trump abused his office when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrat Joe Biden’s family during a phone conversation.
NEWS ALERT: Re: whistleblower contact w/Congress<br><br>We continue to work w/both parties in House & Senate & we understand all agree protecting whistleblower’s identity is paramount. Discussions continue to occur to coordinate & finalize logistics but no date/time has yet been set.
The White House on Thursday released a rough transcript of the July 25 call and made public the whistleblower’s complaint. Trump has said he did nothing wrong, but the material sparked new calls for his impeachment and a process that could generate a vote by Thanksgiving.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, telling the show he would only co-operate with the House impeachment inquiry if his client, the president, wants him to testify.
Giuliani also said he thinks Schiff “has already prejudged” whether Trump linked U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for the probe.
“If he decides that he wants me to testify, of course I’ll testify, even though I think Adam Schiff is an illegitimate chairman. He has already prejudged the case,” Giuliani said.
Schiff has said he hasn’t decided whether he wants to hear sworn testimony from Giuliani.
Central to the Democrat-led inquiry is Giuliani’s effort to have Ukraine conduct a corruption probe into 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings with a Ukrainian energy company.
Trump echoed that request in a July call with Ukraine’s president that has now led to the impeachment drive examining whether Trump linked U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for that probe. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
For now, Schiff, a Democrat from California, is working to strike a deal with the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint, made in mid-August, forms the heart of the proceedings against the 45th president.
For Trump, the developments pose a threat like none he’s encountered before, even from the special counsel Robert Mueller report over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections. The release last week of a rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the whistleblower’s complaint have put Trump’s own words and actions under heightened scrutiny. Democrats are waiting to see how the White House responds to congressional demands for testimony and documents.
Threat of using article of obstruction
“If they’re going to obstruct, then they’re going to increase the likelihood that Congress may feel it necessary to move forward with an article on obstruction,” said Schiff, the committee chair.
While Trump was at his club in Sterling, Va., his former homeland security adviser suggested that Giuliani would be doing the president a disservice by espousing the false story that Ukraine, and not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections.
“I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again,” said Tom Bossert, who also was an adviser to President George W. Bush. “That conspiracy theory has got to go, they have to stop with that, it cannot continue to be repeated.”
Bossert, who is now an ABC News contributor, was speaking to ABC’s This Week program.
During his TV appearances, Giuliani not only repeated the allegations but also brandished what he said were affidavits that support them and claimed that Trump “was framed by the Democrats.”
Trump, in his July 25 conversation with Zelenskiy, made a brief and cryptic reference to CrowdStrike, a security firm hired by the Democratic National Committee. The DNC’s network had been hacked and emails were stolen that were subsequently published by WikiLeaks.
Crowdstrike detected, stopped and analyzed the hack five months before the 2016 election and determined that Russian agents were responsible. Its findings were confirmed by FBI investigators. But conspiracy theorists dispute that and claim the hack is evidence that Trump is being persecuted by “the deep state.”
“I would like to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Trump says, according to the rough transcript of his call with Ukraine’s leader.
The theory espouses that the hack was a setup designed to cast blame on Russia.
Giuliani acknowledged that Ukraine was not to blame for the DNC hack, but that the country peddled misinformation during the campaign.
Bossert, however, said he believes that “this president has not gotten his pound of flesh yet from past grievances on the 2016 investigation,” he said of Mueller’s investigation. “If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”
Last year, Acer showed off the Predator Thronos, a $ 20,000 gaming station with a motorized “Zero-G” reclining system. That was a huge investment, even for the gamer with cash burning a hole in their pocket. Acer has followed up the Predator Thronos with a less expensive version called the Predator Thronos Air. Although, “less expensive” is only an accurate description when comparing the Thronos Air with the original. The new one is still a whopping $ 13,999.
It’s not even obvious what the Predator Thronos Air is when you first see it. The best way to describe the product might be a very, very fancy desk that you sit in instead of at. It doesn’t come with a gaming PC, monitors, or even a keyboard and mouse — you have to provide all that yourself, at which point you could probably have bought a reasonably priced midsize sedan instead.
The selling point here is immersion. Last year’s Predator Thronos accomplished that with a motorized system that tilted the chair, desktop, and monitors with a single press of a button. Acer trimmed the original’s $ 20,000 price tag by six grand by doing away with all the motors and control panel buttons (there’s still plenty of RGB). Instead, you manually adjust the chair’s position, and the steel armature brings the monitors and peripheral tray along for the ride so they remain in a usable position. It’s not all barebones, though. The Predator Thronos Air has a back massager, because why not? There’s an optional cup holder, too.
The Predator Thronos Air supports up to three monitors, but you can use just one if you prefer. Although, I can’t imagine anyone willing to buy a $ 14,000 immersive gaming desk being satisfied with a single monitor. Likewise, you could connect a laptop to the monitor and play that way, but anyone considering this beast probably has a high-end gaming PC already. There’s a small platform for the PC behind the chair. An integrated cable management system helps you get all the wires where they need to go without ruining the contraption’s look or getting in the way of the moving parts.
Acer plans to launch the Predator Thronos Air late this year in North America and Europe. It’ll probably be quite a production to get the device, though. You still can’t outright purchase last year’s Predator Thronos. You have to fill out a purchase inquiry form and wait for Acer to get back to you.
The Ontario government is slashing Toronto Public Health’s funding by $ 1 billion over a decade as part of a plan to consolidate local public health units across the province, says the chair of the city’s board of health — a move that’s prompting an outcry from city officials.
Chair Joe Cressy said the board was informed of a change in the cost-sharing structure from Premier Doug Ford’s government on Thursday afternoon, which he said amounts to an immediate $ 86-million hole in its latest budget.
The funding cut will impact various programs, he added, including infectious disease initiatives, communicable disease surveillance, immunization programs, food safety and water quality initiatives, as well as sexual health promotion.
“People will die,” Cressy said. “People are going to die.”
In last week’s provincial budget, the Ford government first outlined plans to chop the number of local health units from 35 to 10 over the next two years, coupled with an annual overall funding reduction of $ 200 million.
TPH alone has a gross operating budget of more than $ 250 million, with roughly three-quarters of the funding coming from the province — an element now set to change.
Cressy said various TPH programs fully funded by the province are eventually going to be hit by a 50 per cent cut. Other programs funded roughly 75 per cent by the province and 25 per cent by the city will also drop to a 50-50 split.
Starting immediately, he said, the cost-sharing will be a 60-40 split, with a different model for other units across the province.
Units ‘properly funded,’ province says
In a statement Mayor John Tory called the change “a targeted attack on the health of our entire city” — one he says the city will work to see reversed.
“This change, hidden in the provincial budget and imposed without any consultation whatsoever, will hurt the health and wellness of Toronto residents,” Tory said.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said Toronto Public Health is “extremely disappointed” by the move, citing school immunization programs, keeping beaches and drinking water safe, and inspecting restaurants as part of the city’s public health services.
NDP member of the Legislature Marit Stiles called the news “alarming,” saying the cuts “will make the millions of people who live and work in Toronto less safe.”
“We’ve been down this road before. It isn’t pretty,” echoed Coun. Shelley Carroll in a tweet, citing the deadly SARS outbreak and E. coli contamination of the water supply in Walkerton, Ont., in the early 2000s.
Notice: there is absolutely no exaggeration to the statement below. We’ve been down this road before. It isn’t pretty. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/SARS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SARS</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WALKERTON?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WALKERTON</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/onpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#onpoli</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TOpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TOpoli</a> <a href=”https://t.co/kGCj1tpVbZ”>https://t.co/kGCj1tpVbZ</a>
But all public health units across Ontario, including Toronto, will “continue to be properly funded,” the province maintains.
“We are working directly with our municipal partners as we slowly shift the cost-sharing funding model over the next three years to reflect municipalities’ stronger role,” said HayleyChazan, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott, in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, the province also enacted new health-care legislation, which will integrate multiple provincial agencies — including Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, eHealth Ontario, and 14 local health integration networks, or LHINS — into a single agency dubbed Ontario Health.