RAND PAUL: Biden Doesn’t Have the Power To Bring Us Into War

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PELOSI: Trump Tax Debt ‘Matter of National Security’

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday said President Donald Trump’s alleged tax debts were not only an issue of public concern but a “matter of national security,”

Responding to a New York Times report which detailed the president’s financial records over the past two decades, Pelosi, (D)-Calif., called the revelations a matter of “grave concern.”

“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt, $420 million whatever it is,” Pelosi told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question.”

“We take an oath to protect and defend, Pelosi continued. This president is commander in chief. He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to whom? The public has a right to know.”

The Times report suggested that the president has paid no income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, primarily due to financial losses, and that the president is facing a decades long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could wind up costing him more than $100 million.

Pelosi went on to question whether any of the debts in question were tied to Russia.

“The question is what does Putin have on the president politically, personally, financially in every way that the president would try to undermine our commitment to NATO, give away the store to Russia and Syria, try to cast blame on Ukraine for interfering in our elections when he knows full well with the consensus from the intelligence community that it is Russia. The list goes on and on. The annexation in the Crimea, and the rest of that that the president just turns away from,” Pelosi said. “So, he says he likes Putin and Putin likes him. Well, what’s the connection? We’ll see.”

In a series of tweets, the president defended himself and his financial records, referring to the New York Times report as “fake news.”

WITCH HUNT: Dems demand records detailing communications between Trump and Putin

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are pressing to receive communication records related to President Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Democratic leaders announced on Monday.

The move follows allegations by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that the president had at one point attempted to have the records of those communications destroyed.

“President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal the details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials, Congress, and the American people,” the trio wrote, citing a Washington Post report that claimed such.

The lawmakers further alleged that Trump “may have been manipulated or withheld from the official record in direct contravention of federal laws, which expressly require that Presidents and other administration officials preserve such materials.”

Democrats claim manipulating or withholding such records would violate the Presidential Records Act, which was instituted as a result of President Nixon’s Watergate controversy.

“These allegations, if true, raise profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing active measures campaign to improperly influence American elections,” the chairmen wrote in separate letters to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Schiff and his cohorts are also demanding that White House and State Department employees with knowledge of the Trump-Putin talks and interpreters who were present at such meetings make themselves available for interviews with the committees.

Republicans swung back at the allegations Monday, calling the effort just another ploy by Democrats to try to impeach Trump.

“With their Russian collusion allegations imploding, the Democrats are weaponizing congressional committees to try to manufacture some new case to use to impeach the president,” Jack Langer, a spokesperson for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement to The Hill. “After they hyped the collusion hoax for more than two years, I don’t know how anyone can view them as honest investigators as opposed to zealous, partisan operatives.”

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KREMLIN: Allegations Trump worked for Russia ‘nonsense’

MOSCOW — The Kremlin on Wednesday scoffed at allegations put forth by U.S. Democrats that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election as “nonsense”.

Addressing questions from the media, President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, denounced suggestions that Trump had been working on Russia’s behalf.

“What kind of nonsense are you asking about? That’s stupid,” Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “How can the president of the United States be an agent of another country? Just think yourself.”

Lavrov’s comments follow those of Trump who on Monday told reporters that he “never worked for Russia” after reports surfaced that the FBI had quietly begun a counterintelligence investigation into his ties to Moscow.

Lavrov also addressed the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which he pointed out has produced no evidence that would prove Trump’s collusion with Russia.

“It’s quite obvious that the situation is absurd,” Lavrov said about the Mueller probe.

Lavrov then attacked the mainstream American media, accusing them of “lowering their journalistic standards” in their biased coverage of the matter and called out U.S. lawmakers for inhibiting Trump’s right as president to direct foreign policy.

“This right is under attack from Congress, Lavrov said, “and this doesn’t make these attacks constitutional or less illegal.”

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‘WITCH HUNT!’: Trump delays Puting meeting until 2019 citing Mueller probe

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his intent to delay the upcoming DC visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Citing the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Trump said he thought it best to delay Putin’s scheduled visit to the US this autumn.

In a statement, National security adviser John Bolton said Trump believed his next meeting with Putin should take place “after the Russia witch hunt is over”.

“The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” Bolton said.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Trump had directed Bolton to extend an invitation to Putin to visit Washington later this year, days after the two met for a summit in Helsinki, Finland, which quickly turned controversial.

In comments following the meeting, the president appeared to suggest that he believed Russia played no role in influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, despite the findings of US intelligence officials.

Trump’s decision to invite Putin for a second meeting came as the White House sought to quell the controversy that arose over the president’s comments.

Trump later clarified his previous statement, stating that he had simply misspoke.

Mueller’s team has been for months investigating nearly everyone associated with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and has thus far found no proof of wrongdoing by the president.

However, earlier this month, a federal grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on allegations of hacking emails belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC during the 2016 election. All 12 defendants have been identified as members of GRU, a Russian intelligence agency.

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REPORT: Trump asks Bolton to bring Putin to DC

WASHINGTON, D.C (The Hill) — President Trump has asked his national security adviser John Bolton to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington for a second summit.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that plans are underway for a second summit after Trump floated the news in an earlier tweet on Thursday.

“In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs,” Sanders tweeted. “President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.”

Sanders’s tweet came three days after the two leaders held talks in Finland, igniting a political firestorm in the United States after Trump appeared to put equal weight in Putin’s denial of involvement in the 2016 election with the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere.

Since then, Trump and his aides have sought to walk back his comments in Helsinki. On Tuesday, the president insisted that he misspoke when he said that he saw no reason why Russia would meddle in U.S. political affairs, explaining that he meant to say he did not know why Moscow “wouldn’t” interfere.

He also insisted that he believed the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the 2016 election – a remark that he appeared to undercut almost immediately by saying that it “could be other people also.”

He faced criticism again on Wednesday when he appeared to respond to a reporter’s question about whether Russia was still trying to interfere in U.S. political affairs with a blunt, “no.” Sanders later said that the president was declining to answer the question when he said “no,” and was not giving his opinion on the interference issue.

Despite the criticism swirling around his summit with Putin, Trump hailed the meeting on Thursday as a “great success” and said he wanted to meet with his Russian counterpart again so they could begin “implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

The series of controversial statements and subsequent reversals from the president and the White House have continued to ripple through Washington. The notion that Trump could allow Americans to be interviewed by Russian authorities, for example, drew a rebuke from his own State Department and prompted Sanders to distance the president from the proposal on Thursday.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said.

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‘IMPEACH HIM!’: Calls for Trump’s impeachment grow as fall out from Putin meeting continues

Washington, D.C. (Fox News) — Liberal lawmakers and pundits, emboldened by bipartisan outrage over President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, have kicked up calls to pursue impeachment — indicating the issue could fast become the next litmus test for Democratic candidates.

The discussion follows the recent political frenzy over calls to “abolish” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That effort briefly served as a similar litmus test in the wake of Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which led to family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The GOP-controlled House countered on Wednesday with a vote on a resolution expressing support for ICE, effectively daring Democrats to go on the record with opposition to the agency. The measure passed, with a total of 133 Democratic representatives voting “present” — amounting to a procedural refusal to take a position despite weeks of heated anti-ICE rhetoric from party leaders.

But where abolishing ICE fizzled for now as a progressive cause, the impeachment controversy could have sturdier legs. At the least, it has forced Democratic leaders to confront and carefully manage pressure from the base.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Tuesday charged that Trump’s remarks in Helsinki, Finland, were “nothing short of treason” and marked a “dark day” in American history.

Hoyer characterized impeachment, though, as a “distraction,” while still keeping the door open for the process in the future. “There will be time enough to deal with other issues and oversight of the president’s performance when we take back control of the House of Representatives,” he said.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, toed the same line on Monday.

“I think that’s premature at this point — we should do all we can to make sure that he’s held accountable, that we conduct the investigations the Republicans have been unwilling to do,” Swalwell said in an interview with The Hill.

“If impeachment is the case,” he added, “it’s because we found impenetrable evidence that we take to the American people and will be accepted by both Republicans and Democrats.”

Elsewhere, the calls are getting louder.

Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan all but endorsed impeachment when he tweeted that “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors'” and was “nothing short of treasonous.”

Ron Fein, with Free Speech for People, wrote in The Washington Post that while Trump’s conduct might not rise to the level of treason, “it might still be impeachment-worthy regardless.”

In perhaps the most dramatic sign that the impeachment fight may go mainstream, Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke — he is running to unseat GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in November in the deep-red, pro-Trump state — has both advocated impeaching Trump and downplayed the Democratic consequences of such an effort.

“Impeachment, much like an indictment, shows that there is enough there for the case to proceed,” O’Rourke said this week, “and at this point there is certainly enough there for the case to proceed.”

Trump and his team have sought to manage and clean up after the Russia summit controversy. Trump sparked the biggest backlash for seeming to suggest he had accepted Putin’s denial of U.S. election meddling. But he later said he backed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions, insisting he’d misspoken during a joint press conference with the Russian leader.

For her part, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the Helsinki summit would increase calls for impeachment “perhaps in the country” — but added that in Congress, “we want to stay focused on honoring our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and our country.”

The momentum in some quarters suggests, though, that trying to remove Trump from office is no longer an effort relegated to the far-left fringes of the party.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., for example, has long advocated for Trump’s impeachment, telling the California Democratic Party’s annual convention in San Diego in Februrary that “it’s time to get ready for impeachment.”

Waters, who came under fire last month for openly advocating that anti-Trump protesters confront administration officials in public, had struggled to take the impeachment talk mainstream.

However, there are signs that the impeachment litmus test — like the ICE wedge before it — might ultimately falter, as fractures in the party prevent a unified and effective front from forming.

Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Calif., vice chairperson of the House Democratic Caucus, warned that discussing impeachment is still premature.

“We don’t know all the facts yet,” Sanchez told Politico this week. “And until the time that we do, we can’t make a decision on whether or not impeachment is warranted.”

Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is seeking Republican Dean Heller’s seat in the Senate in November, has treaded carefully on the subject, saying she wants to see where Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian political meddling ends up.

Rosen issued a statement after the Helsinki summit calling Trump’s performance “embarrassing” but stopping short of calling for his removal.

In what could be a replay of the “abolish ICE” battle, Republicans have already shown a willingness to use that kind of measured, “wait-and-see” approach against Democrats who buck firebrands’ calls for more decisive action.

“Being afraid of losing an election is no excuse for Jacky Rosen to hide where she stands on impeachment,” Heller campaign spokesman Keith Schipper said in a statement last month, pre-summit. “If she supports impeaching President Trump, she needs to say it.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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TRUMP BACK TRACKS: President says he ‘misspoke’ on Russia scandal; Accepts US intel findings, but denies collusion

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a rare take back of words, President Donald Trump on Tuesday reversed his comments regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, saying he now accepts the findings of the U.S. intelligence community on the matter.

Speaking with lawmakers during a meeting at the White House, the president said he “misspoke” in comments he made in Helsinki a day earlier when he said he “see any reason why” Russia would want to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Those comments quickly led to outrage from both sides of the political spectrum from those who claimed the president was taking Russia’s side over that of his own intelligence team.

“I came back and said ‘What is going on, what’s the big deal?’” Trump said, adding that he had reviewed transcripts of his comments and “realized that there is a need for some clarification.”

I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’ … sort of a double negative,” Trump claimed, adding that he used the wrong choice of words. “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” he said, but added: “It could be other people also.”

In an effort to end the meeting on a high note, the president touted the good news that came as a result of his meeting with NATO allies abroad.

“We are going to have peace, that’s what we want, and that’s what we’re going to have. I say peace through strength,” Trump said, adding the talks brought a “great spirit that we didn’t have before.”

The president’s supporters have come out in droves in an effort to help undo the damage done during Monday’s speech, claiming the scandal is just further proof of a “witch hunt” to bring the president down.

“[The investigation] has shown there was absolutely no collusion with the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence activity leading up to the election,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “That’s what I think has got the president so spun up, is because he feels this is an attack on him personally.”

Meanwhile, the president took to Twitter to vent his frustrations over the controversy.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way—the Fake News is going Crazy!”

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BRENNAN: Trump presser with Putin a ‘treasonous’, ‘impeachable’ offense

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Obama Administration’s CIA director John Brennan came out swinging against President Donald Trump on Monday, calling the president’s high profile press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin an “impeachable offense”.

“Donald Trump’s press performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,'” Brennan tweeted. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Moments after issuing the scathing tweet, Brennan appeared on MSNBC and demanded Trump cabinet officials resign in protest.

“I thought that there was nothing Donald Trump could say that would shock me, but I was wrong,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

“I was just totally shocked at the performance of Donald Trump in Helsinki at a press conference with Vladimir Putin,” Brennan continued. “I just found that it was outrageous. And even when the press — and thank goodness the press asked the right questions — even when the press gave him an opportunity to hold Russia accountable for anything, he chose to talk about Hillary Clinton, about his election, about servers.”

“He criticized American citizens, Secretary Clinton and others as opposed to really taking advantage of a world stage, with all the world’s eyes upon them, to point out how unacceptable Russia’s behavior and interference in our election and the elections of other democratic countries around the globe is. But he just shirked those responsibilities,” Brennan went on.

“I cannot understand how the national security team can continue to abide by this and how Pompeo and Bolton and Kelly can continue in their jobs,” Brennan added. “This, I think, rises to the point of good American patriots resigning in objection to that performance by Donald Trump. I’m at a loss of words to describe just how outrageous his words, his statements, his behavior has been. And one can only conclude that he fears Vladimir Putin. And that one-on-one discussion, who knows what was discussed there. And how Mr. Putin now is the master puppeteer of Donald Trump, the person who is in our Oval Office. Outrageous.”

Brennan has been a vocal critic of President Trump and his administration, claiming that his former position with the Obama administration gives him an obligation to “speak out” against the president’s “treasonous behavior”.

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GOVERNMENT DENIES KNOWLEDGE: Putin dismisses allegations of election meddling during one on one with Trump

HELSINKI — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday denied allegations that he interfered in the 2016 U.S. election during a face to face meeting with American president Donald Trump.

Speaking at a press conference following the meeting in Finland, Putin said Trump raised the issue of election meddling but stood firm on his stance that he had done nothing wrong.

“I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process,” Putin said. “Any specific material, if such things arise, we are ready to analyze together.”

The Russian president, who has remained at the center of controversy since Hillary Clinton’s loss to Republican challenger Trump in 2016, went on to say that the Russian government would be willing to collaborate with the US to help “improve cybersecurity”.

Putin’s claims come just days after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of alleged hacking of Democratic officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite Mueller’s indictments, Trump continues to slam allegations of Russian meddling as part of a “witch hunt”.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” the president tweeted just prior to his much anticipated meeting with Putin.

For his part, Putin said he looks forward to working with the 45th president, and referred to the cold war a “thing of the past”.

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