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Trump official who heard Ukraine call to offer ‘damning testimony’ to House impeachment investigators

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A White House National Security Council official who listened to President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader plans to tell House impeachment investigators in a sworn deposition Tuesday that he was so alarmed by the conversation that he reported it to his superiors and the NSC’s top lawyer.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an active-duty Army officer and the NSC’s top Ukraine expert, will be the first White House official to testify as part of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump. Vindman will also be the first official who heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to testify before the committees leading the impeachment probe.

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“The facts are damning. The facts must be followed, and the law. And the committees must do their work and the Congress must do its constitutional duty.”
—Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

“I was concerned about the call,” Vindman plans to say, according to a copy of his opening statement (pdf) obtained by Politico.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman will say, referring to Trump’s request that Ukraine launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. “This would all undermine U.S. national security.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Vindman’s “damning testimony… reinforces the fact that the president of the United States sought to have Ukraine provide dirt” on Biden.

“His efforts were not for the people of the United States, not for the safety and security of Ukraine, but for simply and purely selfish reasons to win a presidential election,” said Jackson Lee. “The facts are damning. The facts must be followed, and the law. And the committees must do their work and the Congress must do its constitutional duty.”

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In addition to corroborating the details of the whistleblower complaint prompted by Trump’s call with Zelensky, Vindman’s opening remarks also appear to contradict the sworn testimony of Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

Vindman plans to say he told Sondland that Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden was “inappropriate.”

Earlier this month, Sondland told House impeachment investigators that no one on NSC staff “ever expressed any concerns to me about our efforts.”

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Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that the evidence suggests Sondland is guilty of a crime.

“Based on all the testimony so far,” said Castro, “I believe that Ambassador Gordon Sondland committed perjury.”

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2020 Election

‘She’s fire’: Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe explains her endorsement of Elizabeth Warren

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Soccer star Megan Rapinoe explained her endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for president during a Friday evening interview with CNN's Don Lemon.

"Elizabeth Warren picking up a big endorsement today from Megan Rapinoe, the soccer star and social activist who was named Sports Illustrated's 2019 'Person of the Year' earlier this week," Lemon reported.

Lemon played a clip of Rapinoe talking to Warren that was posted earlier in the day on Twitter.

I truly believe the best things in life are a result of being bold and being real. I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren today, for being bold, for being real, for listening to ALL of us, and for being prepared to navigate the unique challenges we face today as a country @ewarren pic.twitter.com/9hX3gQYjvo

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Why Rudy Giuliani has always been — and will always be — ‘a small man in search of a balcony’

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Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times journalist Clyde Haberman explained on Friday why the antics of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are part of a pattern that has defined his career during an interview with MSNBC's Ari Melber on "The Last Word."

Haberman wrote a twice-a-week column about New York City for The Times during the majority of Giuliani's time as mayor.

Melber asked him about a new piece Haberman wrote for BuzzFeed News titled, "Ask Any New Yorker: Rudy Giuliani Was Always This Bad."

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2020 Election

Barney Frank unveils the slogan Democratic candidates can use to win the Senate in 2020

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Former Rep. Barney Frank suggested a slogan that Democrats could use to end the reign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Frank suggested the slogan during a Friday appearance on MSNBC.

"The Republican electorate -- and what happens is the dynamic as the Republicans get harder and harder in this far-right Trump fealty, some people leave the Republican Party, so that means the remainder are this hardcore," Frank replied.

"Mitch McConnell is going to pay a price," he said. "And frankly, I think the way this is going to play out the Republican senators are now making the toughest choice a politician can make, between the primary and the final -- between making sure you can get renominated and the winning in November."

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