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Ukraine blows up key Trump defense: Top officials knew of military aid freeze before it became public

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Top Ukrainian officials were alerted in early August that $391 million in U.S. military aid had been frozen as President Donald Trump sought to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden.

That undercuts the president’s latest defense arguing that the foreign ally couldn’t have felt pressured because Ukraine was not yet aware that the aid had been frozen, reported the New York Times.

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Former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor told Congress on Tuesday that the freeze was directly related to Trump’s demand for an announcement that Biden was under investigation.

But Trump approvingly quoted Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), who told Fox News on Wednesday morning that Taylor and other witnesses had been unable to provide evidence that Ukraine was aware of the delay.

However, the Times reported that high-level Ukrainian officials were aware of the aid freeze, based on interviews and documents obtained by the newspaper.

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky became aware of the pause days after Trump asked him in a July 25 phone call that he wanted an investigation of Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as the newly elected foreign leader sought military aid and a possible White House visit.

Taylor testified that Ukrainian officials were told on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Zelensky and Vice President Mike Pence that the aid was dependent on announcing an investigation into Burisma, the natural gas company that had employed Hunter Biden.


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‘America is out of its mind’: Texas doc goes on viral rant about pushing schools to reopen during pandemic

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A doctor based in Austin, Texas this week uncorked an angry rant about President Donald Trump's push to force schools to reopen in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Writing on Twitter, Dr. Pritesh Gandhi argued that American schools are in no condition to reopen at the moment, especially given that the disease is still infecting tens of thousands of people every day.

"America is out of its mind thinking we are even remotely prepared for school this fall," wrote Gandhi, who earlier this year made an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for the House of Representatives in Texas's 10th Congressional District. "We are definitely NOT ready & if people say we are, it's either out of ignorance or arrogance."

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2020 Election

‘Is that even legal?’ GOP senator slams ‘problematic’ Trump plan to hold RNC speech at White House

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A Republican senator on Wednesday cast doubt about the legality of President Donald Trump accepting the Republican nomination for president at the White House.

Trump revealed in an interview on Fox News that he is considering a nationally televised address from the White House to accept his party's nomination.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who is the Senate Republican whip, was asked about the idea later on Wednesday.

"Well, I don't. Is that even legal?" Thune replied. "I assume that's not something that you could do."

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Bill Barr blatantly disregarded the rule of law in Roger Stone case by seeking ‘the president’s desired result’: former federal prosecutor

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In the federal criminal case the U.S. v. Stone, veteran GOP operative Roger Stone — a long-time ally of President Donald Trump — went from facing a U.S. Department of Justice recommendation of seven to nine years in prison to being sentenced to three years and four months to having his sentence commuted by Trump. The “Trump ally” part, according to former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, is why Attorney General William Barr favored leniency for Stone — and Weissmann, in a scathing article for The Atlantic, argues that Barr showed a blatant disregard for the rule of law in Stone’s case.

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