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John Bolton went around Mick Mulvaney — and released aid to Ukraine before resigning: report

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Composite image of John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, photos by Gage Skidmore.

The timeline in the administration’s Ukraine scandal changed again on Saturday with a bombshell new report from Bloomberg News.

“President Donald Trump says he lifted his freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, but the State Department had quietly authorized releasing $141 million of the money several days earlier,” Bloomberg reported, citing “five people familiar with the matter.”

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“The State Department decision, which hasn’t been reported previously, stemmed from a legal finding made earlier in the year, and conveyed in a classified memorandum to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. State Department lawyers found the White House Office of Management and Budget, and thus the president, had no legal standing to block spending of the Ukraine aid,” Bloomberg explained.

The report highlights how the administration was divided over the funding, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who is also the director of the Office of Management and budget supporting Trump’s decision to block the aid, while others, including then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, reportedly wanted the funds released.

“The OMB has argued all along that the congressional notification by the State Department was only one step and it still had the power to hold the money after it was sent because of its authority to apportion — or distribute — the funds,” Bloomberg explained. “But the State Department disagreed. Taylor, the envoy to Ukraine, said in his testimony that it was remarkable that the legal offices at the State and Defense departments had decided ‘they were going to move forward with this assistance anyway, OMB notwithstanding.’”

“The memo to Pompeo had determined that State had the authority to spend the money — regardless of what Trump was saying through the OMB — and would start the process by Sept. 7. But State officials were also wary of provoking a confrontation with OMB and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff who still leads the budget office, whose team argued they could block the money through a process known as apportionment,” Bloomberg reported.

The new report suggests that Bolton went around Mulvaney to release the aid.

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“What they didn’t know, according to one of the people, was that shortly before Sept. 9, Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who resigned from the job a week later, did so with Trump’s approval,” Bloomberg noted.

Read the full report.


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2020 Election

Steve Mnuchin extends his overseas trip — despite failing to reach a deal on coronavirus stimulus

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Raw Story reported on Oct. 16 that U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin left the United States after repeatedly failing to reach a stimulus agreement with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Now, it appears Mnuchin has extended his trip to the Middle East by an extra day. The media has not been given any information on his whereabouts or with whom the meetings are taking place.

Mnuchin was expected to travel to Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates from Oct. 17 through Oct. 20. Negotiations were expected to resume upon his return to the U.S. on Oct. 20.

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2020 Election

Trump makes his closing pitch to ‘suburban housewives’ at rally: ‘Women, I like women — I like women!’

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President Donald J. Trump made his closing pitch to who he called "suburban housewives" at his Arizona rally Monday. He bellowed, "Women, I like women -- I like women!" in a classic Trumpian move while his supporters cheered.

"Listen, here's the story. They said 'suburban women' -- I used to call them 'suburban housewives,' I got killed all the time. I said, 'ugh, I better go politically correct.' Is there one woman here who minds being called, if you're married at least, a 'suburban housewife' 'cause..."

The crowd erupted with "No!"

"The only ones who mind are those characters... there's a lot of people up there - the press, right? Those are the only ones. The rest of them don't."

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‘Backing out again?’: Trump ridiculed for trying to ‘wimp’ out of debate with whiny letter about the topics

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President Donald Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien sent a long, rambling letter to the Presidential Debate Commission attacking them for being all-in for Vice President Joe Biden and demanding that they change the debate topics.

Moderator Kristen Welker said that the topics they intend to discuss will be fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, issues facing American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership in general. Stepien complained that "national security" or "leadership" doesn't have enough to do with foreign policy as he would prefer.

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