John T. Bennett

At Dallas rally, embattled Trump calls 2020 a fight for ‘survival of American democracy’
President hauls in $5.5 million in 2020 campaign cash at two Texas fundraisers

President Donald Trump wasted little time Thursday at a campaign rally in Dallas attacking Democrats leading an impeachment probe against him, saying “Crazy Nancy” and “Shifty Schiff” hate the United States.

“The Democrats have betrayed our country,” he said to cheers, adding the 2020 election is about the “survival of American democracy.”

Rick Perry to resign as Energy secretary
Trump was holding a fundraiser in Texas, a state where Perry once was the governor, when his resignation was first reported

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has informed President Donald Trump that he intends to step down, the president said Thursday ahead of a campaign rally in Texas.

The resignation notification came just hours after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Trump instructed Perry to consider his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, the lead on all Ukraine policy matters.

Mulvaney acknowledges 2016 election investigation was tied to Ukraine aid freeze
Former GOP rep to Dems: ‘Get over it’ — politics will always shape U.S. foreign policy

President Donald Trump’s acting White House chief of staff contended Thursday the administration’s hold on a nearly $400 million military aid package to Ukraine had “absolutely nothing” to do with Trump’s desire for Kyiv to investigate his then-top Democratic rival. But it was linked to the 2016 U.S. election.

Mick Mulvaney acknowedged Trump held up the aid, in part, because of his concerns — rooted in conservative media — that Ukrainian officials worked to aid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and prevent him from winning the White House. Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate whether a hacked Democratic National Committee server that was penetrated in 2016 resides in that country. The conservative conspiracy theory has been widely debunked.

White House picks Trump resort in Florida for G-7 summit
Democrats and others have said holding major summit at Trump property could violate Constitution

The White House has selected Trump National Doral Miami as the site of next year’s G7 summit despite criticism from Democrats and others that President Donald Trump owns the resort.

The summit will be held June 10-12. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said there were about 12 candidate sites. Democrats and others have said holding any major summit at a Trump property could violate the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which bars presidents from receiving compensation from foreign governments.

Rare, and unapologetic, bipartisan congressional rebuke for Trump on Syria
Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Lindsey Graham, Liz Cheney all part with president

“I think Lindsey should focus on Judiciary,” President Donald Trump said Wednesday when asked about criticism from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of his decision to effectively side with Turkey over the Kurdish population of Syria.

Graham, who is often an ally of the president, was comparing Trump’s move to pull back U.S. forces supporting the Kurds to the Obama administration policy of withdrawal from Iraq. The senator is chairman of both the Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the State Department.

Dems say Trump has meltdown at Syria meeting, calls Pelosi a ‘third-rate politician’
Amid impeachment inquiry, speaker says president appeared ‘very shaken’

Wednesday’s White House meeting on Syria deteriorated into a “meltdown” as Republican and Democratic leaders presented a unified front against President Donald Trump on his decision to abandon Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The two top House Democrats and the party’s top senator emerged from the West Wing following what they said was a substance-free and insult-filled few minutes with Trump. In a reverse of their last meeting with Trump on infrastructure in which he stormed out on the Democratic leaders, this time they walked out on him.

Kurds are ‘no angels’ and their fight with Turkey is ‘not our problem,’ Trump says
In rare split, McConnell had sharp words about president’s decision to abandon Kurds in Syria

President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued distancing the United States from Kurdish forces in Syria who once were Washington’s chief ally in fighting the Islamic State group.

Trump’s decision to remove American forces who were positioned between Turkish troops and the Kurds has angered both Republican and Democratic members. Both chambers are expected to soon approve a resolution condemning his decision, which he says is necessary to help bring an end to what he calls America’s post-9/11 “endless wars.”

Taking lead on impeachment legal message, Trump gives GOP cover to defend him
Campaign official says GOP is benefitting from inquiry with voter registration, donation surges

Senior White House officials and House Republicans are basing their counter-impeachment arguments on House Democrats’ process rather than legal arguments — but President Donald Trump is again doing his own thing and arguing the probe is invalid because, he says, he committed no crimes.

The president has no formal legal training, but that is not stopping him from leading his own legal defense, using tweets and public comments to claim House Democrats have no grounds to impeach him — and the Senate no reason to remove him — because he never outright asked Ukraine’s new president to investigate a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for U.S. aid.

McAleenan out at Homeland Security, Trump says
Trump to name new acting secretary next week

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is leaving his job, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter.

“We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump wrote.

Trump announces 'substantial' trade deal with China - but it's weeks from being final
U.S. won't raise some existing tariffs to 30 percent, Mnuchin says

President Donald Trump on Friday announced his administration has reached a “substantial” trade pact with China that includes some backing off of tariffs, but he signaled work remains to finalize the elusive pact.

The Trump administration has agreed to keep existing tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese-made goods at current levels rather than raising them to 30 percent, as Trump had threatened to when talks previously stalled.

White House warns Turkey it might ‘shut down’ its economy over Kurdish strikes
Trump to sign order giving himself ‘very significant authorities’ to impose stiff sanctions

Treasury Steven Mnuchin announced Friday that President Donald Trump has given himself broad new sanctions powers to slap “primary and secondary sanctions” on senior Turkish officials over that government’s military strikes in Syria, which were enabled by the U.S. pullback of its own troops.

Mnuchin described the powers, which Trump will codify later Friday via an executive order, as “very significant authorities.” The EO will not, however, put new sanctions in place.

Profanity and personal attacks: 3 takeaways from Trump’s raucous Minneapolis rally
President signals he sees Joe Biden as his biggest — perhaps only — 2020 threat as he tries to flip state

ANALYSIS — Donald Trump was in a mood Thursday night when he stepped on stage in Minneapolis, the first time he had campaigned since facing his own possible impeachment. What played out was a plethora of presidential profanities and personal attacks.

As Trump veered from topic to topic at the Target Center, he hit the usual themes of a thriving economy and his get-tough trade talks with China. He vowed to win Minnesota, a state he lost to Hillary Clinton by only 1.5 percentage points in 2016. And he accused House Democrats of engaging in an impeachment “crusade” to block what he often describes in so many words as a second term to which he’s somehow entitled because they know — deep down — they can’t defeat him at the ballot box.

After ‘Lock him up’ chant, Trump describes Democrats’ impeachment probe as ‘crusade’
President rallies supporters in Minnesota, a state his campaign sees as winnable in 2020

President Donald Trump on Thursday night painted House Democrats as “desperate” and cashing in an “insurance policy” by launching an impeachment inquiry in a last-ditch effort to block him from securing a second term.

“Democrats are on a crusade to destroy our democracy,” the president said to boos from an arena crowd in Minneapolis. “We will never let that happen. We will defeat them.”

Trump to Congress: See you in court
Trump predicts White House impeachment fight with Congress will become a ‘Supreme Court’ case

President Donald Trump, answering questions from reporters for the first time in several days, predicted a letter the White House sent Tuesday to Democrats announcing it will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry likely will become a “Supreme Court case.”

Democrats have said they’ll consider White House refusal to cooperate as obstructing justice as it builds its case against President Donald Trump.

Biden, for the first time, backs Trump impeachment
Former VP answers critics who say he has been too soft in countering president's charges about Ukraine

Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the 2020 Democratic frontrunners, on Wednesday made his first outright statement in support of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying he poses a “threat” to the United States and “has already convicted himself.”

Biden has said previously only that he backed the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. 

Former ethics czar warns impeachment letter ‘mistakes Trump for a king’
Georgetown prof: ‘Politically, the letter is strong;’ former GOP staffer calls it ‘bananas’

ANALYSIS | Experts agree a letter the White House sent to House Democrats stating a refusal to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry is legally flimsy and is mostly about politics.

“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and two other senior Democrats.

White House to House Dems: Impeachment inquiry ‘violates the Constitution’
Speaker Pelosi has rejected GOP claim that a floor vote is required to launch a formal probe

White House officials announced Tuesday they will refuse to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry focused on President Donald Trump’s request that Ukraine’s president investigate Joe Biden and son Hunter.

The move amounts to the latest escalation in the three-week-old impeachment saga, with the White House arguing Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set up a “legally unsupported” probe by opting against holding a floor vote on whether to launch a formal impeachment inquiry.

Trump on defense as impeachment gains support, Syria decision gets friendly fire
Expert: Removing U.S. troops as buffer could lead to ‘massacre’ of Kurds by Turkish forces

With more and more Americans supporting his impeachment and Republican lawmakers slamming his decision to remove U.S. protection of Kurds in Syria, President Donald Trump is in a defensive crouch.

A Washington Post-Schar School poll released Tuesday shows that a clear majority (58 percent) of those surveyed support House Democrats’ decision to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. That is up from 39 percent in a Post-ABC News poll conducted in May. And that figure is larger than the 47 percent of those who responded to a late-September CNN-SSRS poll who say they favor the inquiry.

Trump contends ‘no quid pro quo’ with Ukraine is ‘whole ballgame’ on impeachment
Democratic Sen. Murphy: President used ‘access to the White House’ to ‘help destroy his political rival’

President Donald Trump on Friday declared his requests that foreign governments investigate his domestic political foes are in bounds, and said a probe of the Bidens would not be required of China before a possible trade deal is finalized.

His comments came as Republican and Democratic lawmakers sparred over text messages released late Thursday night showing U.S. diplomats in Ukraine discussing offers to — and demands of — that country’s new government for a pledge to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in return for diplomatic prizes President Volodymyr Zelenskiy desperately wanted from Trump.

Trump cites ‘obligation to end corruption,’ but ex-ethics official says he’s digging deeper hole
‘There’s no more debating the facts. He did it,’ Walter Shaub says

President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed criticism from House Democrats and others over his renewed calls for foreign governments to investigate his domestic political rivals, even as text messages from U.S. diplomats suggest he insisted of trading a White House visit with Ukraine’s president for just that.

Experts see a president and administration only digging a deeper hole — and unable to help themselves or build a strategy to allow congressional Republicans to counter House Democrats’ message that Trump is corrupt and putting his own interests over those of the United States.