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New evidence shows why Senate must hear from John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney on Ukraine scandal

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Newly revealed evidence shows President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to help his re-election campaign threw his administration into chaos — and ended only after a whistleblower revealed the scheme.

The New York Times interviewed dozens of current and former administration officials, congressional aides and others, and examined previously undisclosed emails and documents, to map out an account of the 84-day period from Trump’s first inquiry about withholding Ukraine aid and his decision to release the funds.

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Trump’s demands set senior administration officials against one another as they expressed alarm over the scheme or worked to carry out the president’s orders — which formed the basis of his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Opposition to the order from his top national security advisers was more intense than previously known,” the Times reported. “In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, for a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting with the president where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid was in interests of the United States.”

In one previously unknown episode, top lawyers at the Office of Management and Budget developed an argument — with assistance from White House lawyers and the Justice Department — that Trump, as commander in chief, could simply override Congress, which had approved the Ukraine aid.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff and director of OMB, was deeply involved in transmitting Trump’s orders on the freeze to other administration officials, the newspaper reported.

“The interviews and documents show how Mr. Trump used the bureaucracy to advance his agenda in the face of questions about its propriety and even legality from officials in the White House budget office and the Pentagon, many of whom say they were kept in the dark about the president’s motivations and had grown used to convention-flouting requests from the West Wing,” the Times reported. “One veteran budget official who raised questions about the legal justification was pushed aside.”

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By late summer, administration officials were facing pressure from Congress to release the aid they had approved — and then White House lawyers notified the president of the whistleblower complaint against him.

White House officials still did not expect Trump to release the aid, because he had been rejecting the advice of his national security team to do so.

Then, on Sept. 11 — the day after Bolton was forced out of the White House — the president suddenly released the aid.

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“I have no doubt about why the president allowed the assistance to go forward,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). “He got caught.”


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Trump is living in a ‘COVIDless la-la land’ — and can’t understand why he isn’t being taken seriously: CNN’s Cuomo

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," Chris Cuomo slammed President Donald Trump for demanding people take him seriously as he ignores his own health experts and tries to override recommendations on school closures.

"Another day gone without the president deciding to lead us with a plan of action to fight the pandemic," said Cuomo. "Instead, we now know what he meant by pressuring states to reopen schools, ready or not, without ever offering them a plan to help. If they don't reopen, he will punish the poorest students. He said he's going to pull federal aid, and the kids that get most of that aid are the neediest. Many of them are white, by the way, and from families that may be Trumpers."

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There’s about to be another shortage in masks and gloves as COVID-19 explodes — but Trump’s team says it’s nothing: report

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After the United States erupted, COVID-19, masks, gowns and gloves started disappearing. It wasn't merely the medical professionals on the front lines that needed the personal protective equipment; Americans were hoping to get them too. Finally, more were made, but now the problem is back.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that there's about to be another shortage.

"Nurses say they are reusing N95 masks for days and even weeks at a time," said the Post. "Doctors say they can't reopen offices because they lack personal protective equipment (PPE). State officials say they have scoured the U.S. and international suppliers for PPE and struggle to get orders filled. Experts worry the problem could worsen as coronavirus infections climb, straining medical systems."

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‘He doesn’t care about those kids at all’: Anderson Cooper tears into Trump for pressuring schools to reopen

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On CNN Wednesday, Anderson Cooper blasted President Donald Trump's attempts to push schools to reopen without a plan to keep students safe.

"Today the president of the United States did something rare: he expressed a notion that we can all agree on, that kids belong in the classroom," said Cooper. "But then made it quite clear beyond what it means to himself and his re-election, he doesn't actually care about those kids at all. He doesn't care about their health and safety, nor the health of their teachers and parents, and federal guidelines for keeping them safe."

"The president bragged today about getting the CDC to change their guidelines to weaken them, and lo and behold, the CDC, which used to be a world-respected organization, they are going to come up with new guidelines, less difficult ones," said Cooper. "Just think about that. The CDC puts together guidelines based on science to protect kids and teachers, staying six feet apart and masks and having air flow in rooms and washing hands, and because the president thinks it's too difficult, the CDC is going to weaken them."

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