Secy. Pompeo opens door for greater investments between U.S., Kazakhstan

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Akorda presidential residence in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP)

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UPDATED 2:47 PM PT — Sunday, February 2, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the president of Kazakhstan on Sunday. Pompeo held a joint news conference alongside the nation’s leader, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in the nation’s capital.

He said the United States and Kazakhstan have a long history as partners for peace and allies of NATO.

The secretary urged the country to join the U.S. in reducing its dependence on China and Russia, particularly in its use of oil and gas. He warned that investments with Russia and China could come at a cost to the country’s sovereignty.

“We fully support Kazakhstan’s freedom to choose to do business with whichever country it wants,” said Pompeo. “But I’m confident that the country will get the best outcome when it partners with American companies.”

He went on to praise the nation for its efforts in battling the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China. Pompeo will make his way to Uzbekistan to meet with more top officials in the near future.

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Spending package highlights division between ‘Squad,’ House progressives and Dem leadership

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House Democratic leaders are once again facing an uprising from members who believe the party is compromising too much on key issues.

Both the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) have reportedly signaled they wouldn't support a spending bill that funds parts of President Trump's immigration agenda — in particular, his controversial border wall.

Despite their objections, the House passed a spending package Tuesday that included provisions for both domestic and defense spending. The domestic package received 75 Democratic "nay" votes, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. — all members of the so-called progressive "squad."

Progressive Caucus co-chairs Pramila Jayapal, D-Wa., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., also voted against the measure.

Legislation must be enacted to fund the government and avoid another shutdown beginning this weekend. According to the Washington Examiner, border security funding prompted the CPC to oppose the measure.

"We cannot and will not support more funding for President Trump’s immoral mass detention policies and unchecked and wasteful Pentagon spending," a statement from the group read.


CHC chairman Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., similarly said: “I’m not voting for it." Opposing Democrats also took issue with provisions allowing Trump to maintain funding for detention centers and transfer federal funding to border security projects.

While the bill maintains 2019 funding levels for the border wall and security initiatives, it doesn't grant Trump anywhere near the $8 billion he wanted for the wall. Instead, Trump will get $1.375 billion for a wall that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called "immoral."

Over the past year, Democrats have been beset by intraparty conflicts surrounding the environment, health care, and drug prices.

Pelosi last week compromised on a major Democratic priority — drug pricing — in order to accommodate the demands of her progressive flank. Perhaps her most high-profile clash took place over a border funding bill that her chamber approved earlier this year.


That bill included billions of dollars in funding for immigration enforcement agencies amid criticism of the Trump administration's handling of the ongoing migrant detention crisis. Pelosi previously downplayed the political power of the Ocasio-Cortez group.


But after Ocasio-Cortez announced her opposition to the Speaker's drug pricing plan earlier this month, reports surfaced that Pelosi had negotiated a new plan based on progressive demands.

Republicans have attempted to frame the infighting as emblematic Pelosi's impotence in the face of more dynamic far-left forces in the party.

Original Article

GOP senators seek records on ‘connection’ between Dem operatives, Ukrainian officials in 2016

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President Trump demands 'fast' impeachment in House so there can be a 'fair trial' in the Senate

House Democrats move to draft articles of impeachment; reaction and analysis from Fox News contributors Richard Fowler and Rachel Campos-Duffy.

The GOP chairmen of the Senate committees that would be involved in an impeachment trial are seeking records and interviews related to allegations that a Democratic National Committee consultant solicited derogatory information about the Trump campaign from Ukrainian embassy officials ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

In a news release Friday, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said they are looking to obtain records and transcribed staff interviews with two individuals reportedly involved in an effort by Ukrainian embassy officials to “undermine” the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.


“To believe that the mainstream media will investigate all things Russia or Ukraine is to hope against hope,” Graham said in a statement Friday. “The hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails was done by the Russians and no one else. Whether there’s a connection between Democratic operatives and Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election has yet to be determined.”

He added: “It will only be found by looking. We intend to look.”

The requests from Grassley, Graham and Johnson come as House Democrats are entering what may be the final phase of their impeachment inquiry ahead of introducing articles of impeachment for a vote. Should the House approve impeachment articles and trigger a trial in the Senate, Republicans plan to turn the tables on Democrats, by looking more closely at issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings.

Friday’s requests are a continuation of an inquiry that Grassley launched in 2017 when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Grassley, at the time, was questioning the actions of then-DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa, which he said seemed to show that she was “simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S. voting population but U.S. government officials.”

Chalupa has denied the accusations: “For the record: I have never worked for a foreign government. I have never been to Ukraine. I was not an opposition researcher. In 2008, I knew Manafort worked for Putin’s interests in Ukraine. I reported my concerns about him to the NSC in 2014 & sounded the alarm bells in 2016,” Chalupa tweeted last month.

In addition to the interview and records requests, Johnson, Grassley and Graham are requesting “staff-led transcribed interviews” with Chalupa, and Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer within the Ukrainian embassy at the time. Telizhenko reportedly was ordered to assist in an off-the-books investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which included then-Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort’s prior business dealings in the region.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Friday blasted the latest GOP efforts, saying it "undermines our democracy."

“Putin and his intelligence services disinformation campaign team in Moscow couldn't have cooked up a more useful tool for spreading conjured and baseless conspiracy theories than the one Chairmen Graham, Grassley and Johnson announced today," Schumer said in a statement.

Last month, Johnson and Grassley also requested information from the National Archives and Records Administration regarding meetings that took place in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and Democratic National Committee officials. They also requested Justice Department records related to the FBI’s interactions with Chalupa.

The Republicans emphasized Friday that their interest in Ukraine does not mean they deny Russia's meddling in 2016.

“The senators’ inquiries are unrelated to an uncorroborated theory that Ukraine was also behind the hack of the DNC servers,” the statement from the senators said. “U.S. intelligence officials and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that Russia was responsible for the DNC hack.”

The three senators have also recently requested information related to potential conflicts of interest and political influence by Ukraine, including the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, which employed former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on the board. At the time, the elder Biden was running U.S.-Ukraine relations and policy for the Obama administration.

And Graham, last month, alone, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the founder of Burisma. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though President Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted the whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.


Meanwhile, Trump challenged House Democrats this week to impeach him "fast" so that he can have a "fair trial" in the Senate. He also threatened to seek testimony from the Bidens, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi, D-Calif., then dramatically called for the House to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.

"The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power," Pelosi said.

But despite his threats, the president does not, alone, have the power to call witnesses to testify in those proceedings. In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.

A senior Senate Republican aide told Fox News last month that once they receive articles of impeachment, they will begin working on two resolutions — one that governs the timeline of the trial, and the other that sets up witnesses for closed-door depositions, as well as which witnesses will be required to testify on the stand.


The aide suggested that Republican senators – like Graham, Johnson, and Grassley – could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial in their recent attempts to obtain documents and information from the administration and companies related to Hunter Biden.

Original Article

Evan Bayh suggests compromise between Trump, Dems to avoid impeachment

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Evan Bayh says impeachment is in the eye of the beholder

President Trump's conduct appears more serious than Bill Clinton's actions but less egregious than Richard Nixon's conduct, says former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who served during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, suggested Sunday that a compromise between House Democrats and President Trump could be a satisfactory solution to avoid the “political food fight” of impeachment, but said realistically he doubts it will become a reality.

Bayh claimed that the American people may best be served by the House continuing its investigation with Trump’s participation, and then leaving the ultimate decision to voters instead of the Senate.


“It probably is in the president’s best interest to say ‘Look, I’ll participate, I’ll make all my witnesses available if you’ll agree to just let the voters decide next fall; issue a report, don’t impeach me.' I think there’s the middle ground," Bayh said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures."

Ultimately, however, he was pessimistic about the possibility.

"Will they seize that middle ground? Probably not," the former senator said.

Bayh compared the current situation to that of both Clinton and former President Richard Nixon, pointing out how standards have been set differently in the past when it comes to impeachment due to the vague nature of the Consitution.

Bayh predicted that the House will likely impeach Trump, then the Senate "will almost surely acquit him," leaving the decision to the voters anyway.

"So I think a lot of America will conclude in January or February, look, this is a big political food fight, enough already, let’s get on with actually trying to govern the country," he said.

Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is expected to release a report from his committee's findings on Monday after questioning witnesses as part of their impeachment inquiry.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin its portion of the proceedings on Wednesday, calling legal academics to testify regarding impeachment from a constitutional perspective. President Trump was given until 6:00 p.m. Sunday to decide whether or not to have his legal team participate in the hearing, even though Democrats on the committee apparently do not know who the witnesses would be.


Trump was also given until this Friday to state whether he will be defending himself at future hearings.

Original Article

Fox News Poll: Close races between Trump and Democrats in North Carolina

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North Carolina voters give President Trump mixed reviews on his job performance and about half oppose his impeachment. That leads to tight races in 2020 ballot tests, according to a Fox News Poll of North Carolina voters.

In hypothetical matchups, Joe Biden edges Trump by two points and Bernie Sanders is up by one. The president tops Elizabeth Warren by one point and Pete Buttigieg by four. Each race is within the poll’s margin of error. There is added uncertainty considering no candidate hits 50 percent and 11-18 percent are undecided.

Trump topped Hillary Clinton by nearly 4 points in the Tar Heel State. Ninety-four percent of Republicans voted for him in 2016. Today, 91 percent of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing and 89 percent back him in the matchup against Biden.

“As North Carolina has grown in recent years, it’s developed into one of the most competitive states in the country,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who partners with Democrat Chris Anderson on the Fox News Poll. “It’s difficult to think of a scenario where Trump wins re-election without carrying the state.”

Roughly equal numbers of North Carolina voters approve (47 percent) of Trump’s job performance as disapprove (50 percent).

Forty-two percent want Trump impeached and removed from office, 3 percent say impeached but not removed, and 47 percent oppose impeachment. More Republicans (89 percent) oppose impeachment than Democrats favor (79 percent).


The poll was conducted November 10-13, which includes one night after the House Intelligence Committee held televised hearings Wednesday.

Turning to the Democratic race, strong support among African American voters gives Biden a commanding lead in North Carolina’s primary, which will be held March 3, 2020.

Overall, Biden captures 37 percent among Democratic primary voters, more than double the support of any competitor. Warren receives 15 percent and Sanders 14 percent.

Buttigieg garners 6 percent and Kamala Harris 4 percent. Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang stand at 2 percent apiece. Michael Bennett, Steve Bullock, and Amy Klobuchar each receive 1 percent.

About half of black voters support Biden (49 percent). That’s more than 30 points higher than Warren and Sanders (12 percent each).

Biden also leads among voters over age 65 (+39 points), moderates (+20), and whites (+11).

The only group Warren wins is self-described “very liberals,” and even here she narrowly tops Sanders (by 4 points) and Biden (by 5 points).

Sanders’ only win is among voters under age 35, where he bests Biden by 10.

“Polling outside of the early states illustrates what broad goodwill Democratic primary voters have for Biden, especially among black voters,” says Anderson. “Places where campaigning is currently less intense, he starts with a built-in advantage that could pay dividends once the primaries move beyond the early states.”

North Carolina Democrats split 45-45 percent when choosing between a candidate who will build on former President Obama’s legacy and one who will take a new and different approach.

Biden is the favorite by 29 points among those wanting to build on Obama’s legacy and by 14 points for those favoring a new approach.

Meanwhile, 77 percent of Democratic primary voters say it is extremely important to nominate a candidate who can beat Trump compared to 41 percent who feel it is extremely important the nominee shares their views on major issues.

North Carolina Senate

By a 40-35 percent margin, North Carolina voters approve of the job Republican incumbent Thom Tillis is doing as their senator. One in four (25 percent) is unsure, including 22 percent of Republicans.

Elected in 2014, Tillis is facing two challengers in the senate primary. He leads with the support of 54 percent of GOP primary voters, while Garland Tucker receives 11 percent and Sandy Smith 4 percent. Twenty-six percent are undecided and 5 percent say other.

Things are more uncertain on the other side, as the three declared Democrats are all under 20 percent: Erica Smith receives 18 percent, Cal Cunningham 13 percent, and Trevor Fuller 10 percent. Most Democratic primary voters are undecided (49 percent) or say they will support someone else (10 percent).



Is the U.S. electorate an equal opportunity employer? Two-thirds of North Carolina voters think the country is ready to elect a woman president. That drops to 54 percent for a Jewish president, 49 percent a Latino/Hispanic president, and 30 percent a gay/lesbian president.

By a 24-point margin, more Democrats than Republicans believe the nation is ready for a woman president. Democrats are also more likely to say Americans are ready to elect someone who is Jewish (by 7 points), Latino/Hispanic (by 11 points), or gay (by 17 points).

Conducted November 10-13, 2019 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,504 North Carolina voters who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. Respondents were randomly selected from a statewide voter file, and 669 were screened to identify potential participants in the Democratic primary and 574 the GOP primary. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all registered voters, 3.5 points for Democratic primary voters, and 4 points for GOP primary voters.

Original Article

Giuliani defends ‘innocent’ phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president in WSJ op-ed

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What to expect as impeachment inquiry moves into public phase

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Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday defending the president against allegations of wrongdoing in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.


Giuliani wrote that Trump’s call with Zelensky was “innocent” and “proper,” and Trump was simply asking him to investigate “allegations of corruption at the highest levels of both governments” when he suggested Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden's activities in the country.


He said the push for Zelensky to investigate was simply an “exercise of Mr. Trump’s responsibility as U.S. president.”

Giuliani wrote that Trump and Zelensky discussed alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, including documents related to Paul Manafort released by a Ukrainian lawmaker and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau that were purportedly meant to hurt Trump’s candidacy.

He added that Trump “briefly” brought up the Bidens’ conduct regarding the Ukrainian oil company Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board, and said he thinks the former vice president should be investigated for bribery over allegations of a $900,000 transfer from Burisma to a lobbying firm owned by Hunter Biden “and at the very least both Bidens’ behavior deserves serious scrutiny.”

Giuliani said Trump’s words during the phone call were free of “threat or coercion” and noted that Zelensky said publicly that he didn’t feel any pressure to investigate the Bidens.

“[O]ut of a five-page transcript Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden,” Giuliani added.

He wrote that the left’s inability to accept Trump's 2016 win and "fear" of his policies have pushed Democrats into a “frenzy” and the "double standard" of the impeachment inquiry.


“[I]f the allegations against Joe and Hunter Biden aren’t fully investigated, we won’t have equal justice under the law,” Giuliani concluded.

The first public impeachment hearings will begin Wednesday morning.

Original Article