“Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that a senior prosecutor failed to convince him that the FBI’s 2016 investigation of President Trump’s campaign was improperly opened, revealing new details about internal tension among senior officials over the politically explosive case,” the Washington Post reports.
Politico: “Horowitz also seemed to criticize a senior prosecutor Barr has tasked to examine some of the same events, U.S. Attorney John Durham, suggesting that it was improper for Durham to issue a highly unusual statement Monday disagreeing about the basis for the Russia probe. The watchdog said he knew of Durham’s view but was taken aback that he would announce it publicly while his investigation is still underway.”
“Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas got $1 million from Russia in September, a month before he was charged with conspiring to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, according to U.S. prosecutors who asked a judge to jail him for understating his income and assets,” Bloomberg reports.
From the court filing: “Parnas failed to disclose, in describing his income to the government and pretrial services, the fact that in September 2019, he received $1 million from a bank account in Russia into Account-1.”
FiveThirtyEight looks at each of the senators to see who would be most likely to vote for President Trump’s removal.
“There are a lot of competing incentives at work in the Senate regarding impeachment. The way it all shakes out, however, is that the removal vote is at about 56-44 in Trump’s favor. That could, of course, change based on additional evidence emerging, public opinion shifting and Republican senators changing their minds. But right now, it’s just hard to see the Senate trial of Trump taking place with any real chance that 67 senators will support removing him from office.”
“Senate Republicans say there is an early consensus building within their ranks for a short impeachment trial that could see the GOP-led chamber vote on a likely acquittal of President Trump without hearing from any witnesses,” Bloomberg reports.
“Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said a growing number of the Senate’s 53 GOP members want to simply let House Democrats make their case to impeach the president and then hear a rebuttal from Trump’s team before moving immediately to a vote on the articles of impeachment.”
CNN: Senate Republicans come around to idea of not having witnesses in impeachment trial.
Vox: “Over the course of a more than 90-minute delivery, Trump pushed conspiracy theories and blatant lies, trashed law enforcement officials that aren’t blindly loyal to him, exhibited thuggish tendencies toward protesters, made misogynistic remarks, and demonstrated that he fundamentally misunderstands the Constitution.”
“It was one of his most troubling performances in recent memory and served as a stark illustration of just how ugly Trump’s reelection campaign will be.”
“Lawmakers in India enacted a fundamental change to its citizenship law to include religion as a criterion for nationality for the first time, deepening concerns that a country founded on secular ideals is becoming a Hindu state that treats Muslims as second-class citizens,” the Washington Post reports.
“The new legislation creates a path to citizenship for migrants who belong to several South Asian religions but pointedly excludes Islam, the faith practiced by 200 million Indian citizens.”
Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg was named Time magazine’s 2019 “Person of the Year,” the Today Show reports.
Time: “For decades, researchers and activists have struggled to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously. But this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world’s attention.”
Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, called Attorney General William Barr a “threat to democracy” and warned he may try to interfere in the 2020 presidential election to benefit President Trump, the HuffPost reports.
Said Shaub: “It’s important not to make the same mistake twice. Some people underestimated Barr’s ruthless partisanship before. No one should do that again. Like Trump, Barr is capable of doing anything he can get away with— and that includes interfering in the 2020 election, if we let him.”
ProPublica reports Donald Trump Jr. Went on a hunting trip in Mongolia last summer where he shot and killed an argali, an endangered sheep beloved for its giant curving horns.
“His adventure was supported by government resources from both the U.S. and Mongolia, which each sent security services to accompany the president’s eldest son and grandson on the multiday trip. It also thrust Trump Jr. directly into the controversial world of Mongolian trophy hunting — a polarizing practice in a country that views the big-horned rams as a national treasure. The right to kill an argali is controlled by an opaque permitting system that experts say is mostly based on money, connections and politics.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked by The Hollywood Reporter about Hollywood’s role in creating Donald Trump.
Said Pelosi: “Well, let me say I’ve never seen his reality show, so I don’t know if it was any good or what. I do think that he was assisted by the communications industry, not just Hollywood, but the press as well, because all they do is enable him, and that is really a sad thing.”
She added: “I’ve said to many of my friends in the press, ‘You’re accomplices, whether you want to be or not,’ and they say, ‘If he’s saying it, then it’s news.’ I don’t think it’s news, but it monopolizes the airwaves. So there is a lot of responsibility to go around in terms of the creation of whatever that is in the White House.”
One America News, the pro-Trump television network that sent a camera crew with Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine last week, tried to get Ukrainian multimillionaire Oleksandr Onyshchenko a visa to travel to the United States, the Daily Beast reports.
However, German authorities arrested him because of a warrant from Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutors.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the creation of a “true European army” to allow the EU defend itself from threats ranging from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin, the Independent reports.
“The legal team for the whistleblower whose account kicked off the impeachment inquiry is preparing for the possibility that lawmakers will call their client to testify in the Senate,” two people familiar told CNN.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass legislation meant to prevent Russia and other countries from interfering in elections, The Hill reports. Senators first introduced the legislation in early 2018, but that the bill has stalled amid pushback from GOP senators and members of leadership.
“The battle for control of Libya threatened to escalate further this week as Turkey said it might intervene to stop the Russian-backed forces now closing in on Tripoli,” the New York Times reports.
“In comments to Turkish television networks on Monday night and again on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointedly raised the possibility that Turkey might send troops to counter the Russians if the United Nations-recognized government headquartered in Tripoli formally requested it.”
“The Knesset missed its deadline to nominate a candidate for prime minister, officially launching a third election in less than a year overnight Wednesday,” the Jerusalem Post reports.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, asked a federal judge to reduce his three-year prison term while claiming that Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department are biased against him, CNN reports.