A video shows Prince Charles shaking hands with a number of dignitaries attending at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz — before skipping over Vice President Mike Pence.
Playbook: “As far as we know, there are no plans to allow those Republicans who are troubled by Trump’s actions in Ukraine to express their disapproval in some formal way — be it a resolution or another official action. All they can do is go on the record with their concerns.”
“What this means is that unless the dynamics in the Senate change in the coming days, or something jolts the proceedings — John Bolton coming forward with shocking new information, for example — the U.S. Congress will soon say it’s OK to use the power of the presidency to conduct opposition research on an opponent.”
“Precedent matters in Washington. Just look at how Bill Clinton’s Senate trial became the blueprint for Trump’s. The next president will now be able to argue that it’s no problem to lean on a foreign government for political help. After all, Congress said so.”
Lev Parnas told Reuters that Rudy Giuliani urged Justice Department prosecutors to go easy on businessman Alejandro Betancourt for money laundering and bribery because he had close ties to opposition figures looking to oust Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro, a key objective of President Trump.
Giuliani declined to the confirm meeting with U.S. prosecutors on Betancourt’s behalf: “Lev Parnas has no right to be talking about that meeting. It was a confidential meeting — if it did happen.”
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent Jeff Bezos a photograph of woman loosely resembling the one he was having an affair with months before the National Enquirer published a report exposing the liaison, according to a United Nations investigation,” the Daily Beast reports.
“Two United Nations special rapporteurs released a statement Wednesday detailing forensic evidence linking MBS to the Bezos hack, which suggests the future king of Saudi Arabia may have been threatening the owner of The Washington Post and founder and CEO of Amazon.”
“Officials at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget were laying the groundwork to freeze military aid to Ukraine the night before President Trump’s controversial phone call with the Ukrainian President, newly released, heavily redacted emails show,” CNN reports.
“On the evening of July 24, the night before the call, OMB officials shared a ‘Ukraine Prep Memo’ with Michael Duffey — the office’s associate director of national security programs, a political appointee and the budget official who would play a direct role in carrying out Trump’s funding freeze.”
Daily Beast: “For months, Team Trump and Hill Republicans have sought to cast Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, as an unscrupulous individual engaging in nefarious activity in Ukraine.”
“The nearly four-and-a-half minute slot, narrated by the Biden campaign’s rapid response director, Andrew Bates, walks through a historical timeline dating back to 2014, when Russia invaded the country and the U.S. joined in protecting Ukraine against aggression. Thirty seconds into the video, Bates plainly outlines the case they have long used against Trump’s claims on Hunter.”
“President Trump said Tuesday that he is serious about imposing tariffs on European automobiles if he can’t strike a trade agreement with the European Union,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said Trump: “They know that I’m going to put tariffs on them if they don’t make a deal that’s a fair deal.”
However, Trump declined to say what deadline he is imposing: “They know what the deadline is.”
“President Trump delivered a dramatic account of the airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, joked that he doesn’t care if construction projects kill all the rattlesnakes and noted his indifference to the budget during a private dinner with deep-pocketed donors Friday night at Mar-a-Lago,” according to audio files obtained by the Washington Post.
“Trump, his tone subdued and conversational, explained his motivation for attacking Soleimani and recounted listening to an anonymous military official countdown to the Jan. 3 strike.”
“The president said nothing about an ‘imminent attack’ on U.S. interests or threats to four U.S. embassies as he previously has to justify the unilateral military strike that escalated tensions in the region and opened debate on presidential war powers.”
Iran’s supreme leader said President Trump is a ‘clown’ who only pretends to support the Iranian people but will “push a poisonous dagger” into their backs, as he struck a defiant tone in his first Friday sermon in Tehran in eight years, the AP reports.
“The Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement,” Axios reports.
“The deal now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature, allowing the president to accomplish one of his biggest policy goals ahead of his 2020 re-election battle — hours before the official start of his impeachment trial.”
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that the Trump administration broke the law when it put a hold on aid to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reports.
New York Times: “The impoundment law limits a president’s power to withhold money that has been allocated by Congress, requiring that he secure approval by the legislative branch if he wishes to do so.”
“Ukrainian authorities said Thursday they had opened a criminal investigation into whether the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance by associates of Rudy Giuliani while in Kyiv last spring,” BuzzFeed News reports.
Said a Ukraine official: “Ukraine’s position is to not interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States… Ukraine cannot ignore such illegal activities on its territory.”
Associated Press: “In another move touching on the Trump impeachment, Ukraine said it was opening an investigation into reports that Russian hackers gained access to computers of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.”
Politico: “Some Trump confidants privately admit that the president is hyping a modest deal as he faces intense pressure de-escalate with China ahead of a campaign in which Trump will face Democratic criticism that the China tariffs have harmed blue-collar Americans.”
“These allies also fear the tariffs could put a dent in the economy — which they see as Trump’s strongest selling point — though they note several important economic indicators, like the stock market, have stayed relatively strong despite the trade war.”
HuffPost: Americans shrug over Trump’s new trade deal.
“If one thing was clear about the resignation of Russia’s prime minister on Wednesday, it was that a step had been taken toward President Vladimir Putin remaining in power after his term ends in 2024,” Politico reports.
“The proposed constitutional changes would weaken the presidency while giving greater power and independence to the parliament and state council, both of which have been seen even before now as possible landing spots for Putin. He could head a revamped state council comprised of regional governors, most of whom were appointed by Putin. Or else the Kremlin-loyal parties in parliament, which is chaired by a former Putin aide, could name him prime minister.”
Reuters: “Mikhail Mishustin, President Vladimir Putin’s surprise choice to become Russia’s prime minister, is a tax chief with almost no political profile who analysts say could be a “technocratic placeholder.”
CNBC: What’s Putin up to?
“A week before Germany, France and Britain accused Iran of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration privately threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles if they didn’t, according to U.S. and European officials,” the Washington Post reports.
“The U.S. effort to coerce European foreign policy through tariffs represents a new level of hardball tactics with America’s oldest allies and could result in the reimposition of sanctions against Iran.”
“The State Department abruptly canceled a classified congressional briefing Wednesday that was supposed to focus on embassy security, infuriating Capitol Hill staffers seeking answers on alleged Iranian threats to U.S. missions overseas,” Politico reports.
Bloomberg: “Vladimir Putin outlined a raft of proposed constitutional changes aimed at strengthening the powers of the parliament and other government bodies, fueling speculation that he’s laying the groundwork for keeping power beyond the end of his current term in 2024.”
“The plans, announced unexpectedly at the end of his annual state-of-the-nation speech Wednesday, come as Putin is widely expected to seek a way to hold onto control in some form beyond the constitutional limit at the end of his current term.”
CNN: “The entire Russian government is resigning.”