Fmr. Ukraine diplomat Yovanovitch to publish memoir

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. She was awarded the 2020 J. Raymond “Jit” Trainor Award for Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:43 PM PT — Friday, February 21, 2020

Another former Trump administration official has reportedly been working on a book deal in the wake of the impeachment battle. Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who testified in the House hearings about the president’s Ukraine dealings, has been drafting a memoir.

On Friday, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt confirmed its intent to publish the currently untitled book. The memoir is expected to detail Yovanovitch’s career leading up to her retirement last month.

The president removed her from her post in May of last year. In her first public comments since her departure, the former ambassador took a swipe at President Trump and issued a warning.

“We need a vigorous Department of State, but right now the State Department is in trouble. Senior leaders lack policy vision, moral clarity and leadership skills. The policy process has been replaced by decisions emanating from the top with little discussion.” – Marie Yovanovitch, Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is sworn in to testify to the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

According to the publisher, Yovanovitch’s book seeks to point out issues facing America today. It also will share her thoughts on strengthening our democracy.

“This is about much more than just the recent controversy,” stated Houghton Mifflin Vice President Bruce Nichols.

The book will reportedly be released next spring after the 2020 elections.

MORE NEWS: Democrats Hope To Limit President’s Powers To Recall Ambassadors

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Former Ukraine Envoy Bill Taylor says CrowdStrike server theory wasn’t probed because State Dept. didn’t take it seriously

File – Former American diplomat to Ukraine William Taylor is pictured. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:21 PM PT — Tuesday, February 18, 2020

According to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, the State Department did not properly investigate the country’s role in alleged election meddling.

In a recent interview, Taylor said U.S. diplomats were not directed to find out if CrowdStrike servers could be located in Ukraine because nobody took the issue seriously. He also pointed out that Ukraine’s alleged involvement in U.S. elections was deemed “Russian propaganda.”

Taylor served as the top envoy to Ukraine between 2006 and 2009 as well as in June 2019 until January of 2020. Meanwhile, President Trump was concerned about alleged events from 2016.

“Hybrid war is more than tanks and soldiers…hybrid war is information war, it’s cyber war, it’s economic war, it’s a tax on elections,” said Taylor. “As we know, they’ve attacked our elections.”

Taylor also said there is a lot of disinformation around Ukraine and its war with the Kremlin. He warned the U.S. should be very careful about those kinds of stories.

RELATED: Outdated software could leave 2020 elections vulnerable to hacking

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Ukraine, Canada urge Iran to release black box recordings of Flight 752

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks on the first day of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:36 AM PT — Saturday, February 15, 2020

Several countries are demanding that Iran release the black boxes from the plane crash that killed 176 people back in January. On the sidelines of Friday’s security conference in Germany, foreign ministers from Canada and Ukraine urged Iran to be transparent.

The country has refused to release the final recordings of the January plane crash to the international community, despite its lack of expertise or technology to decode them.

Officials have encouraged Iran to send the black boxes to France, which has the equipment necessary to assess these recordings.

“The type of equipment you need is not something you can transport to another location. This is more like a lab, you need to go there physically in order to have the download and get the latest equipment to do that. Now that we’ve passed the 30 days mark, we think there’s urgency for that to happen as quickly as possible.” – François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

This came after Iran admitted its military accidentally shot down the plane after initially denying blame for the incident.

RELATED: Canada’s Trudeau Demands From Iran Independent Probe Into Downed Airliner

A rescue worker searches the scene where an Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

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Sen. Lindsey Graham pushes to open investigation into the Biden’s alleged ties to Ukraine

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:22 AM PT — Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has renewed his push to open an investigation into the Biden family’s alleged ties to corruption in Ukraine. One America’s Emily Finn breaks down his latest comments.



RELATED: Ukraine’s Former Top Prosecutor Says Joe Biden Demanded Dismissal Over Burisma Probe

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Attorney General Barr confirms DOJ is evaluating information from Ukraine provided by Rudy Giuliani

Attorney General William Barr calls on a reporter during a news conference, at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:59 AM PT — Monday, February 10, 2020

U.S. Attorney General William Barr confirmed the Department of Justice is reviewing information from Ukraine provided by Rudy Giuliani regarding Joe and Hunter Biden.

During a press conference Monday, Barr said the agency has the obligation to have an “open door'” to anybody who wishes to provide information they think is relevant. He also said the Justice Department has to be very careful with information coming from Ukraine and can’t take anything from the Eastern European nation at face value.

Barr pointed out that a process to evaluate such information has been established.

“We had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the department and its Intelligence Community, community partners, so that we could assess its provenance and its credibility,” he stated. “And, you know, that is true for all information that comes to the department relating to the Ukraine.”

Giuliani notably visited Ukraine back in December to gather more information about the Biden’s activities in the nation.

RELATED: ‘I Spoke To President Trump ‘A Couple Of Times’ About Yovanovitch Corruption,’ says Giuliani

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Ukraine’s former top prosecutor says Joe Biden demanded dismissal over Burisma probe

Jill Biden watches as her husband Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a caucus night campaign rally on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:21 AM PT — Thursday, February 6, 2020

Former Ukrainian chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin has claimed Joe Biden committed bribery and extortion in his country.

In an interview with Rudy Giuliani Wednesday, Shokin said Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to get him fired over an investigation into energy company Burisma.

Shokin said Biden was threatening to withhold the loan guarantees that Ukraine needed at the time. Giuliani added, Biden admitted to that himself.

Shokin also said Poroshenko had no choice but to dismiss him, allowing Hunter Biden to continue his corrupt dealings at Burisma under the protection of Joe Biden who was vice president at the time.

RELATED: Watch the unraveling of the biggest political scandal in U.S. history.

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Bolton’s interview from 2019 describes Ukraine call as ‘warm and cordial,’ ‘no sign of pressure’

FILE – In this May 1, 2019 file photo, National security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters outside the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 5:50 PM PT — Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A 2019 interview with former National Security Advisor John Bolton has resurfaced online. The video revealed the former adviser’s assessment of the July 25th Ukraine phone call before he was fired from the White House. In August of last year, Bolton told Radio Liberty President Trump had spoken with Ukraine’s president twice and assured audiences that both conversations were friendly.

“The president called to congratulate President Zelensky on his election and on his success in the parliamentary elections,” he said. “They were warm and cordial calls.”

Bolton recently claimed President Trump may have intended to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. However, at the time of the call, the former adviser didn’t mention any signs of alleged “pressure.”

“We’re hoping that they’ll be able to meet in Warsaw and have a few minutes together,” he said. “The success of Ukraine, maintaining its freedom, its system of representative government, freed market economy free of corruption…are high priorities for the United States.”

Bolton’s remarks from last year also refuted Democrats’ claims that the president abandoned Ukraine to help Russia.

President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump posted his reaction to the video on Twitter, saying, “Game over!”

RELATED: White House: Bolton’s Book Contains ‘Significant Amounts Of Classified Information’

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Sen. Rick Scott: Democrats are skipping over Joe Biden’s shady business in Ukraine

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:00 PM PT — Friday, January 24, 2020

Florida Sen. Rick Scott took a hit at Democrat lawmakers during day three of the Senate impeachment trial. On Thursday, Scott called out House impeachment manager Adam Schiff for trying to keep President Trump from being reelected. He emphasized that Schiff doesn’t trust American voters.

The lawmaker went on to say Schiff and his colleagues’ arguments were completely flawed. Scott also pointed out the hypocrisy of Democrats portraying Joe Biden as someone who could do no wrong while presenting President Trump as a criminal.

“It didn’t matter that his son had a job at Burisma. Didn’t matter that he had, you know, got the prosecutor he had no control over removed. Joe Biden did the right thing. But Donald Trump, even though there’s no evidence, had to be sinister to get rid of an ambassador he had a right to get rid of.” – Rick Scott, U.S. Senator (FLA.)

He went on to say the House managers’ arguments are nothing the Senate hasn’t heard before. The lawmaker added every time they hear Democrats’ position, it’s like “Groundhog Day all over again.”

Original Article

‘The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, Mass Murder’ debuting this weekend on OAN

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 4:18 PM PT — Friday, January 24, 2020

OAN’s Jack Posobiec sat down with Michael Caputo to discuss his new special, “One America News Investigates – The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, Mass Murder.”

In the documentary, Caputo exposes the cover-up that led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump and mass murder. The Democrats’ crusade to kick our duly elected president out of office didn’t start with a phone call. It began with Ukrainian corruption, election meddling and a bloody coup that cleared a path for Hunter Biden to get rich.

Tune in this weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 10PM EST / 7PM PST – only on One America News!



Original Article

Sen. Ernst blasts Democrats over double standards when it comes to Ukraine aid

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, walks in the U.S. Capitol on the first full day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:34 AM PT — Friday, January 24, 2020

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is slamming Democrats for applying a double standard when it comes to how the Obama administration handled Ukraine aid compared to President Trump.

While taking to Twitter Thursday, she called Democrat House managers hypocrites and slammed them for criticizing the president over his decision to withhold aid to Ukraine when multiple Democrats voted against the very same bill that granted aid to the country in the first place.

Democrats have made President Trump’s brief decision to stop aid from entering Ukraine last year the key talking point in their impeachment trial. The Iowa senator also told reporters outside the hearings, the president has actually done more to help the people of Ukraine than the Obama administration did. He made the following comments:

“When did Russia roll their tanks into Crimea? That was 2014: Obama administration. How did the Obama administration react to that invasion of ukraine? they reacted by sending blankets. Blankets don’t throw lead down range. this administration, President Trump, provided lethal aid to the Ukrainian people, actually provided them an opportunity to defend themselves.”

While the Trump administration has sent what Sen. Ernst calls “lethal aid” to Ukraine, including high-powered anti-tank missiles, Obama opted to sent non-lethal aid during the 2014 invasion of Crimea.

The Iowa lawmaker also blasted multiple House Democrats for voting against numerous defense spending and aid bills, which would have provided military assistance to Ukraine. This included Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who has been extremely vocal against the president throughout the impeachment process.

Although the Obama administration did send millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine between 2014 and 2016, Republicans have argued the aid was non-lethal materials such as blankets, gas masks and night vision goggles. This is something Ukraine’s previous president blasted by saying, “one cannot win a war with a blanket.”

RELATED: GOP senators sound off on impeachment trial

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Joe Biden admits Ukraine dealings ‘look bad’

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on foreign policy at a VFW post Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Osage, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:00 PM PT — Thursday, January 23, 2020

On Wednesday, Joe Biden finally admitted his conflict of interest over his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine. While speaking on the campaign trail in Iowa, the former vice president said the Burisma scheme appeared to “look bad.” However, he reiterated his claim that Hunter did “nothing wrong.”

“There’s nobody that’s indicated there’s a single, solitary thing he did that was inappropriate or wrong, other than the appearance,” stated Biden. “It looked bad that he was there.”

Newly released State Department emails suggested Biden was selling his office to pocket the proceeds of Ukrainian corruption. A February 2016 email used Hunter Biden’s name in order to arrange a meeting between a senior State Department official and Burisma lobbyist Karen Tranmontano.

File – Then-Vice President Joe Biden, right, and his son Hunter Biden, left, are pictured at a street dedication ceremony in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo, on Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Republican senators are now calling for a probe into the Bidens’ dealings.

“I can promise you no one has looked at whether or not there was a conflict of interest,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “No one has taken the time to explain how Hunter Biden got rich in the Ukraine, and his father didn’t know anything about it.”

State Department emails also showed Tranmontano wanted to lobby the U.S. government for Burisma after it faced anti-corruption scrutiny by the Ukrainian government.

Reports claimed several Democrat witnesses were involved in the Biden-Ukraine corruption and benefited from it.

LEARN MORE: One America News Investigates – The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, And Mass Murder With Michael Caputo

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Ambassador Bill Taylor, who testified in impeachment inquiry, leaving Ukraine post

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Trump will be impeached in House, not convicted in Senate: Bill McGurn

Fox News contributor and WSJ editorial board member Bill McGurn discusses impeachment and a Washington Post report saying an average of national polls shows 41 percent of voters oppose impeachment.

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine who testified before the House in the impeachment inquiry, plans to leave his post by the end of the year, a person familiar with his plans told Fox News on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the Vacancies Act, Taylor could have remained in his position until Jan. 8 — and even longer under his current State Department contract — but will hand over his responsibilities to the Deputy Chief of Mission on Jan. 1 and leave Kiev the following day.

Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. 

Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (Reuters)

Taylor’s future plans with the State Department were not immediately clear, nor was it clear who Taylor’s permanent replacement would be.

Taylor was serving as the acting ambassador, having never been formally confirmed by the Senate. Ukraine has been without a permanent ambassador since Marie Yovanovitch was fired from the position in May.

DEM REP. MCGOVERN SAYS IMPEACHMENT INTENDED TO STOP ‘CRIME IN PROGRESS,’ PREVENT ‘RIGGING’ OF 2020 VOTE

Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran who previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine under President George Bush, was tapped by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to replace Yovanovitch in June.

Taylor made headlines last month while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee regarding his knowledge of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that have set in motion an impeachment investigation.

In September, Taylor texted U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland saying it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

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Hours later, Sondland replied: “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Original Article

Biden confronted on Ukraine but doesn’t answer, later links Trump to El Paso massacre

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Joe Biden performed his own version of a Texas two-step at a campaign stop in San Antonio on Friday night, letting a crowd of supporters drown out a protester who confronted him on Ukraine — before the ex-vice president could answer — and then continuing his rhetorical attack on President Trump.

It happened while Biden was assailing Trump’s record on immigration and veteran care.

“America can overcome four years of Donald Trump’s chaos and corruption, but if re-elected it will forever fundamentally change the character of who we are as a nation," Biden told the crowd. "We can’t let this happen. This election is about the soul of our nation and Donald Trump has poisoned our soul.”

JOY BEHAR ACKNOWLEDGES HUNTER BIDEN BENEFITED FROM 'NEPOTISM': 'CALL IT WHAT IT IS'

Soon a man in the crowd – not shown on camera – interjected to ask: “What about corruption in Ukraine?”

The reference was to Biden's past dealings in the country, where his son, Hunter Biden, reportedly held a seven-figure job with Ukraine’s largest natural gas company, Burisma Holdings. At the same time, the elder Biden — as vice president under Barack Obama — was leading an effort to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the company, raising concerns about a possible conflict of interest.

The Bidens' history in Ukraine has been a growing concern for the White House and Republicans as Democrats in Congress pursue the possible impeachment of President Trump over a July phone call in which the president allegedly tried to make an announcement of a Ukraine investigation into the Bidens a condition for the country's new administration to receive military aid from the U.S.

But before Biden could address the Ukraine question on Friday, the crowd booed the protester and began to chant, “We want Joe!”

Biden seemed to follow the crowd's lead.

“This man represents Donald Trump very well. He’s just like Donald Trump,” Biden said of the protester, who appeared to leave the event, with the crowd waving goodbye to him — though it was unclear if he chose to leave or if he was forced out either by security or other attendees.

“A great American,” Biden continued. "Just let him go. … Don’t hurt … Just let him go. … This is not a Trump rally. This is a real rally.”

With Texas considered a battleground state in the 2020 presidential race, Biden refrained from side-swiping any other top-tier Democratic rivals despite tightening polls ahead of February’s primary and caucus in New Hampshire and Iowa, respectively, the first times voters will actually help determine the party’s nominee for the White House.

With the protester gone, Biden resumed his verbal attack on Trump.

“As my mother would say, God bless me. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” Biden said, making the sign of the cross before continuing his rebuke of the president.

Biden then seemed to imply that Trump was responsible for the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead.

“Remember in '18, {Trump] claimed there was an invasion of Latinos coming across the border? 'They’re going to invade and pollute America,'" Biden said. "Well guess what? The words presidents say matter. It didn't take long after that, that a guy down in El Paso walked into a parking lot and gunned down a lot of innocent people and he says, 'I’m doing it to prevent the invasion of Texas by Hispanics.'”

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Authorities said the suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, had written a manifesto that said the shooting was fueled by fear of an "invasion" by illegal immigrants, adding that the city's large Hispanic population played a part in their targeting. In October, Crusius pleaded not guilty in connection with the shooting and is due to return to court Nov. 7.

Trump condemned the shooting as “an act of cowardice” on Twitter, adding, “I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”

San Antonio, where Biden spoke Friday, is the city where long-shot Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro served as mayor before joining Obama's administration as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Original Article

Tom Ridge says Trump’s Ukraine call left him ‘disappointed and troubled,’ says he won’t back president in 2020

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President Trump abused the power of his office by asking the leader of Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, the nation’s first homeland security secretary said Tuesday.

Tom Ridge, who led the Department of Homeland Security from its creation in 2003 until February 2005, made the remarks in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, just a short distance from where Trump addressed a rally in Hershey later in the day.

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“I am disappointed and troubled by the very fact that my president – and he is my president – would ask a foreign leader of a troubled country who’s been besieged by an enemy of the United States, to do him a political favor,” Ridge said at a renewable energy event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum, PennLive.com reported. “As far as I’m concerned, it is abuse of power.”

Ridge, now 74, was a Republican governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 until 2001, when he resigned soon after taking the job of homeland security adviser to former President George W. Bush soon after the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The adviser job eventually evolved into the Cabinet-level position it remains today.

Tom Ridge was the inaugural secretary of Homeland Security under former President George W. Bush. (Associated Press)

Tom Ridge was the inaugural secretary of Homeland Security under former President George W. Bush. (Associated Press)

He made it clear that he won’t support Trump in 2020 and has said previously that he didn’t support Trump in 2016. He said his 2020 choice will be whichever candidate can bring “experience and demeanor and global perspective” to the job, when Republican or Democrat.

But he won’t publicly endorse a Democrat, he added.

“I’m going to wait and see what the Democrats do before I make my final decision,” he told PennLive. “People know how I feel about Trump so obviously I will be looking for an alternative. If not, as I’ve said to folks before, I wrote in the names of two Republican governors before because I love govs.”

Ridge added that he thinks Trump’s handling of foreign policy has allowed other countries to assert their own agendas, particularly Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin “has got to be one of the happiest world leaders,” Ridge said.

“Even in his wildest imagination he never imagined when he played in our election in 2016, and he’s playing with it in 2019 and 2020, that he would have four years of incredible political destabilization because of what he did and he’ll keep doing it.”

Original Article

Biden blames staff, says nobody ‘warned’ him son’s Ukraine job could raise conflict

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Biden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trial

2020 Democrat hopeful Joe Biden tells Fox News' Peter Doocy he will not voluntarily appear if called to testify in a Senate impeachment trial for President Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed in a new interview that when his son Hunter was a board member of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while he was in office, no one informed him that it could pose a problem.

Biden insisted again that Hunter did nothing wrong, but this time appeared to fault his staff for not cluing him in that there could be concerns about his son's involvement with the foreign company that had been under investigation while Biden was in office and dealing with Ukraine policy.

FORMER VP BIDEN DISMISSES CLAIMS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS TURNING HARD LEFT

"Nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest. Nobody warned me about that," Biden told NPR in a story posted Monday.

State Department official George Kent addressed this during his testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, acknowledging that he told staff members there was concern over the appearance of a conflict of interest, but that no one told the vice president because his older son Beau was suffering from what was ultimately a fatal battle with brain cancer.

"They should have told me," Biden says now. Hunter's dealings and the elder Biden's role ousting a prosecutor looking into Burisma are being used by Trump and his supporters against the now-2020 presidential candidate, even as Trump's effort to press for an investigation into that conduct has spurred the impeachment inquiry.

"The appearance looked bad and it gave folks like Rudy Giuliani an excuse to come up with a Trumpian kind of defense, while they were violating the Constitution," Biden said.

Trump's impeachment inquiry has focused primarily on his request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, as well as Democratic activities during the 2016 election. Democrats have accused Trump of using a White House visit for Zelensky and the delay of military aid to Ukraine as leverage.

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Trump insists he did nothing wrong and that he never called for any quid pro quo with the investigations. His administration claims that Trump was simply concerned about corruption within the Ukrainian government, asserting that is part of why he delayed the aid. Trump has also hammered the Bidens for alleged impropriety, blasting the former vice president for pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.

In the past, Biden has bragged publicly about threatening to withhold money from Ukraine in order to force the prosecutor's termination, but he claims it was due to suspicions of corruption, not because of his son's role with Burisma.

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Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently endorsed Biden for president, also claimed following a Biden campaign event Sunday that he "had no knowledge" of Hunter's involvement with Burisma while he was secretary.

This, despite Kerry's stepson Christopher Heinz reportedly notifying two of Kerry's aides after Hunter Biden became a Burisma board member. Heinz and Hunter Biden had been business partners, co-owning the private equity firm Rosemont Seneca. According to the Washington Examiner, an email from Heinz to Kerry's aides distanced Heinz from Burisma, saying "there was no investment by our firm in their company," and claiming ignorance as to why Hunter became involved in the Ukrainian firm.

Fox News' Rob DiRienzo contributed to this report.

Original Article

Esper: Delay of Ukraine aid did not have ‘any impact on U.S. national security’

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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was reluctant to discuss details behind the withholding and release of military aid to Ukraine, but he did reject the notion that the delay had any negative effect on national security.

Over the course of the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Democrats have been accusing the president of using the aid and a White House visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as leverage to get them to investigate his political opponents. Democrats claim that by putting political interests ahead of national interest, Trump put national security at risk. Esper was quick to deny such a claim.

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"At the end of the day, the bottom line is most of that aid got out on time and at no time did it have any impact on United States national security," Esper said.

Esper said there were three factors that were considered regarding the aid.

"When I came onto the scene, the three things we were looking at were this: one, was the aid necessary and vital to the Ukrainians in terms of defending against Russia; No. 2, had the Ukrainians addressed corruption, and that was a congressional concern; and No. 3, were other countries in the region, other allies and partners assisting them. And given those three things we decided to support the provision of Ukrainian aid."

Esper would not address whether there were any political factors involved in the delay of the aid's delivery, citing the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"I'll leave that process unto itself," he said.

Esper also discussed a number of other issues related to national security. He addressed the shooting at the naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., where Americans were killed before the suspect, a Saudi Air Force officer, was shot and killed. The defense secretary would not definitively state whether the incident should be classified as terrorism.

"I don't know yet. I think that's why it's important to allow the investigation to proceed, to understand exactly what he was doing and why."

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Esper did say he called on officials to "begin review of what our screening procedures are with regard to foreign nationals coming into the United States." At the same time, he emphasized the need to maintain programs where foreign individuals come to train with U.S. forces.

"The ability to bring foreign students here to train with us, to understand American culture, is very important to us in building those long-term relationships that keep us safer."

Esper also addressed how the U.S. was prepared to respond to potential "bad behavior" on the part of Iran.

"We've reached a point, I think, that we've deterred Iranian bad behavior," Esper said, pointing to an end in recent Iranian aggression that included attacks against ships in the Strait of Hormuz and shooting down of a U.S. drone.

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But when asked about Iran's latest military efforts, including shipping missiles to other countries in the region and the testing of a ballistic missile that has the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon, Esper said that the U.S. is ready to act, if need be.

"We are prepared to respond, depending on what Iran does," he said. "And they need to understand that our restraint should not be interpreted as weakness."

Original Article