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  • Democrats Reject GOP Subpoena Requests: Impeachment Update

    Democrats Reject GOP Subpoena Requests: Impeachment Update

    (Bloomberg) -- The House Intelligence Committee heard from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on the fourth day of public testimony Wednesday in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.Sondland testified first, and his opening statement is here. Later in the day, the panel resumed its session to hear from Laura Cooper, the Defense Department’s top official on Russia and Ukraine, and David Hale, the under secretary of State for political affairs. Cooper’s opening statement is here.Here are the latest developments:Democrats Reject GOP Subpoena Requests (8:29 p.m.)At the close of a full day of testimony, House Intelligence Committee Democrats voted down Republican efforts to subpoena the unidentified whistle-blower and Joe Biden’s son Hunter to appear for closed-door depositions.Also rejected along party lines were GOP subpoena requests for records on Democratic National Committee communications with Ukrainian government officials and for records from a company related to Hunter Biden’s position on the Burisma Holdings board of directors.Republicans say they’ve been barred from calling witnesses they contend could show that Trump had reason to seek investigations of the Bidens and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. They also want to question the whistle-blower about factual issues and the person’s motives for acting.Democrat Says Emails Undercut GOP Defense (7:33 p.m.)Democrat Eric Swalwell said Cooper’s disclosure about the July 25 inquiry by Ukraine about U.S. aid “destroys two of the pillars of the president’s defense.”The first pillar was the “no harm, no foul” argument that Ukraine didn’t know the aid was being withheld, Swalwell said. The second was the idea that Trump cares about fighting corruption in Ukraine, he said.Cooper said that on May 23, the Defense Department certified that Ukraine had met the standard for reducing corruption as required for providing military aid.“Inexplicably, the president puts a hold on security assistance,” said Swalwell of California.Republican John Ratcliffe of Texas noted that those emails didn’t specifically mention a hold being placed on the aid. He asked whether Cooper could be certain the Ukrainians’ question was about the freeze.“I can’t say for certain it was about the hold,” she said. “It’s the recollection of my staff that they likely knew” before a report in Politico on Aug. 28.Fellow Democrat Mike Quigley of Illinois said the surfacing of the emails underscores why the State Department and other agencies should have to turn over documents requested by House investigators. The Trump administration has refused to do so.Cooper Discloses Ukraine Query on Aid Freeze (6:19 p.m.)Cooper disclosed that her staff received two emails from the State Department inquiring about aid to Ukraine on July 25 -- the same day of Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine.One email said the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and House Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about “an issue” involving security assistance. The second one said the Ukrainian embassy and the Hill newspaper knew about the aid situation, she said.Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said this is the first time anyone has placed Ukrainian knowledge of the hold on security assistance as far back as the same day Trump talked to Zelenskiy.The July 25 date of Ukrainian knowledge about the freeze is significant because a central argument by Republicans has been that Ukraine didn’t know about the block on funds until much later. Therefore Trump’s demand for investigations couldn’t have been a quid pro quo, GOP lawmakers contend.Schiff said Cooper was the third witness to testify that the Ukrainians “found out about a problem or hold in the security assistance prior to it becoming public,” and that she was “the first to indicate that it may go back as early as the date of the president’s call to President Zelenskiy.”Cooper said she doesn’t recall being made aware of the emails at the time. Her staff told her about them after her deposition was made public and they read the transcript, she said.Cooper Describes Learning of Hold on Aid (6:09 p.m.)Cooper said she became aware of the hold on funds for Ukraine in July. She said she “made clear” to interagency leaders at a July 31 meeting that there were “only two legal ways” to discontinue the funds, and either one would require notification to Congress. She said she never heard that either alternative was being pursued.Cooper said she advocated a Cabinet-level meeting with Trump to explain why the aid should go forward.“Although I heard to attempts to discuss the issue with the president, I never received details about any conversations other than a status update that the hold had not been lifted,” she said.She said the aid is “critical” for “bolstering Ukraine’s security and deterring Russia.”House Hearing Resumes With Cooper, Hale (5:40 p.m.)The Intelligence Committee reconvened to hear testimony from Cooper and Hale.Trump Calls Sondland Testimony ‘Fantastic’ (5:04 p.m.)Trump said Sondland’s testimony was “fantastic” and that the impeachment inquiry should end now.The president spoke to reporters while visiting an Apple Inc. plant in Austin, Texas.Sondland ‘Completely Exonerates’ Trump, Aide Says (4:47 p.m.)Sondland’s testimony “completely exonerates” Trump of wrongdoing, says a statement from Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.Sondland’s statement that Trump told him “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo” on Sept. 9 should be the “only takeaway from today’s sham hearing,” Grisham said.Sept. 9 was the day that lawyers for a whistle-blower notified the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about an “urgent” matter filed with an inspector general.“In his July 25 call with President Zelenskiy, President Trump did not condition any part of the United States-Ukraine relationship on a quid pro quo,“ the press secretary said.Sondland Says Trump Would Benefit From Probe (3:48 p.m.)Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a New York Democrat, lectured Sondland about his forthrightness as it took several tries to get Sondland to say who would benefit from an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden.Eventually, Sondland offered, “I assume President Trump.”Maloney then asked what position the demand would put the Ukrainians in.“A terrible position,” Sondland said. “Obviously, they’re not receiving ultimately what they thought was coming to them, and they’re put in a position that jeopardizes their security.”Maloney responded, “You might say they’re being asked to give him a personal benefit in exchange for an official act.”Sondland said he wasn’t in charge of the policy during questioning minutes later by Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi.“If I had been in charge, I would have asked President Trump to have the meeting without preconditions and the meeting would have occurred a long time ago,” Sondland said. “The president, through Mr. Giuliani, as conveyed through Mr. Giuliani, wanted the investigations.”Krishnamoorthi got a moment of levity from Sondland by saying, “On October 8 of this year, the president tweeted you were a really good man and a great American.”“November 8, one month later, he said I hardly know the gentleman,” the lawmaker said.“Easy come, easy go!” responded Sondland.Giuliani Rips GOP Lawyer Over His Questions (2:18 p.m.)Rudy Giuliani criticized the Republicans’ staff lawyer, Steve Castor, for saying that Giuliani had business interests in Ukraine in addition to his representation of Trump.Castor, while questioning Sondland, said, “Granted, Mr. Giuliani had business interests in Ukraine, correct?”“Now I understand he did; I didn’t know that at the time,” said Sondland.Castor mentioned two Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who have since been indicted in New York on allegations that they hid the source of campaign donations.Giuliani wrote on Twitter: “Republican lawyer doesn’t do his own research and preparation, and is instead picking up Democrat lies, shame. Allow me to inform him: I have NO financial interests in Ukraine, NONE! I would appreciate his apology.”Pompeo Stays Silent on Sondland’s Testimony (1:34 p.m.)Secretary of State Michael Pompeo refused to address an impeachment witness’s testimony putting him at the heart of Trump’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine but said he was confident about U.S. policy toward the country.“I didn’t see a single thing today, I was working -- sounds like you might not have been,” Pompeo told reporters in Brussels when asked his response to the testimony from Sondland.Sondland provided an email exchange putting Pompeo within the loop of getting Ukraine’s president to appease Trump’s demand for investigations into Democrats. Sondland also faulted the State Department for refusing to turn over other documents relevant to the investigation.Pompeo has repeatedly refused to answer questions about details of the impeachment inquiry, arguing that Democrats have orchestrated a process that’s unfair to the president. He said Wednesday he knew “precisely what American policy was with regards to Ukraine.”“I’m proud that President Trump led that effort to get our policy on Ukraine right,” Pompeo said. “Our focus at the State Department is making sure we get the policy right, execute it flawlessly.”Perry Aide Says Sondland Misrepresented Role (1:05 p.m.)Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s press secretary said Sondland “misrepresented” Perry’s interactions with Rudy Giuliani and the secretary’s instructions from Trump.“Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the president’s request,“ aide Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement. “No one else was on that call. At no point before, during or after that phone call did the words ‘Biden’ or ‘Burisma’ ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry.”Sondland Can’t Recall Talk Morrison Outlined (12:55 p.m.)Sondland said he can’t recall telling special envoy Kurt Volker and National Security Council official Tim Morrison that Trump himself instructed that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, not the country’s prosecutor general, must make a public announcement of investigations.Morrison testified Tuesday that Sondland said on July 26 that this instruction came directly in a telephone call from Trump, that Zelenskiy had to “clear things up” and make the announcement in public.Sondland said Wednesday he can’t remember, but that he has no reason to dispute that he told them Zelenskiy needed to be the one to make the announcement. Sondland said Trump “never told me directly the aid” was tied to the demand for investigations.Giuliani Says Sondland is ‘Speculating’ (12:34 p.m.)Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Sondland’s testimony was speculation based on little contact between the two.“I came into this at Volker’s request. Sondland is speculating based on VERY little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker,” Giuliani wrote on Twitter, referring to Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.“Volker testified I answered their questions and described them as my opinions, NOT demands. I.E., no quid pro quo!”Giuliani later deleted the tweet.Sondland testified earlier Wednesday that Trump told him and other U.S. officials to work with Giuliani on Ukraine issues, and that they “weren’t happy” that they had to do so.No One Said to ‘Back Off,’ Sondland Says (12:10 p.m.)Sondland said nobody ever told him to hold back on actions regarding Ukraine.“No one said back off of Ukraine, this is dangerous, you are doing something untoward, we have concerns,“ he said during questioning by a GOP staff attorney. “No one ever said that to me, by phone, by text, by email.”“I don’t remember anybody sounding an alarm bell,” Sondland said. “I would have sat up and taken notice.“During his testimony, Sondland repeatedly said he was unable to recall specifics because the administration has refused to release notes and records related to the inquiry. He also said, though, that he doesn’t take many notes and prefers to conduct complicated discussions by phone.“This is like the trifecta of unreliability,” Castor said.“I think I’ve filled in a lot of blanks,” Sondland responded.“A lot of it’s speculation,” Castor said.GOP Questions Sondland on Trump’s Conditions (11:58 a.m.)A Republican staff lawyer zeroed in on Sondland’s statement that he never heard Trump specifically tie financial aid to a demand that Ukraine conduct investigations.“The president never told you about any preconditions for the aid to be released?” GOP lawyer Steve Castor asked Sondland. No, Sondland replied, nor did Trump directly tell him about conditions for a White House meeting.Everything was “funneled through others” including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Sondland said.“When the president says talk to my personal attorney,” and then Giuliani “makes certain requests or demands, we assume it’s coming from the president,” Sondland said.“This is speculation, right?” Castor said.“It was a presumption,” Sondland said. “Two plus two equaled four in my mind” because “the aid wasn’t being released and we weren’t getting anywhere with the Ukrainians.”Trump Says He Doesn’t Know Sondland ‘Well’ (11:42 a.m.)Trump attempted to distance himself from Sondland after his European Union ambassador testified that the president directed an effort to compel the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.“This is not a man I know well,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House to visit an Apple Inc. factory in Austin, Texas.Trump nominated Sondland for his European Union post after the Oregon hotelier donated $1 million to the president’s inauguration committee.The president read excerpts of Sondland’s testimony that had been written on a note pad with a Sharpie. He didn’t take any questions.Pence Aide Alleges Sondland Lied to Congress (11:38 a.m.)Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff alleged that Sondland lied to Congress, saying a conversation with Pence that the European Union ambassador related in testimony on Wednesday “never happened.”“The vice president never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland aboutinvestigating the Bidens, Burisma or the conditional release of financial aidto Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short said in a statement.Pence has maintained that he wasn’t involved in Trump’s alleged scheme to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals. Pence met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sept. 1 in Warsaw, as Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was working with Sondland and other officials to secure an announcement by Zelenskiy of the investigations.Short’s statement also distanced Pence from Trump, who asked Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to investigate a discredited allegation that Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 election via a cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike, and also to investigate Burisma Holdings, a company connected to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelenskiy before, during, or after the Sept. 1 meeting in Poland,” Short said.Sondland Says Trump Didn’t Mention Aid (11:16 a.m.)Sondland said he never directly heard Trump spell out conditions for the release of military aid.”I don’t recall President Trump ever talking to me about any security assistance, ever,” Sondland said.But Sondland said it was clear to him and others that the aid was tied to Trump’s desire for an announcement of investigations by Ukraine.”By the 8th of September it was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link,” he said. “We were discussing the chicken-and-egg issue of should the Ukrainians go out on a ledge and make the statement that President Trump wanted them to make and then they still don’t get their White House visit or their aid, that would be really bad for our credibility,” he said of his texts at the time with the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, William Taylor, who testified publicly last week.Sondland Says Probe Announcement Was Key (10:54 a.m.)Sondland said Trump wasn’t necessarily insisting that Ukraine carry out the investigations on Burisma and the 2016 election.“He had to announce the investigations, he didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland said during questioning by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.Later, he stressed the point, saying he never heard “anyone say that the investigations had to start or be completed.”Schiff sought to show that the White House meeting and military aid amounted to official acts that were being withheld by Trump while the president sought a Ukrainian promise to conduct investigations. An official act would be an element of a charge of bribery of a public official.“The military aid was also an official act, right?” Schiff said.Sondland was asked by a Democratic staff lawyer to confirm an embassy aide’s testimony that he overheard Sondland tell Trump over the phone on July 26 that Ukraine’s president “loves your ass.”“It sounds like something I would say,” Sondland said, drawing a laugh from the audience. “That’s how President Trump and I communicate, a lot of four-letter words, three-letter.“Envoy Says He Told Pence Aid Tied to Probe (9:41 a.m.)Sondland will say he expressed his concerns about the delay in U.S. aid to Vice President Mike Pence before they met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Warsaw on Sept. 1.“I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations,” Sondland will say, according to his opening statement. “I recall mentioning that before the Zelenskiy meeting.“During the meeting, Zelenskiy raised the issue of security aid with Pence, and the vice president said he would speak to Trump about it, Sondland will say.Sondland will also say that he pulled Zelenskiy aide Andriy Yermak aside and told him that Sondland believed U.S. aid wouldn’t resume until Ukraine took action on the public statement sought by the U.S.Sondland also will say, “I really regret that the Ukrainians were placed in that predicament, but I do not regret doing what I could to try to break the logjam and to solve the problem.”Sondland Confirms Account of Trump Call (9:27 a.m.)Sondland confirms an account from other witnesses that he called Trump from a restaurant in Kyiv on July 26 but he said he didn’t remember key details. He said he didn’t recall later discussing Joe Biden and his son with David Holmes, the embassy staffer who described the incident.“I have no reason to doubt their accounts,” Sondland will say in his opening statement. “I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the president’s concerns. However, I have no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after the call ended.”Holmes testified that Sondland called Trump to assure him that the Ukrainian president would commit to “the investigations” that Rudy Giuliani was pushing.Sondland Says ‘Everyone Was in the Loop’ (9:18 a.m.)Sondland will say that “everyone was in the loop” on the demand for investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election in exchange for a White House call and a meeting for Ukraine’s president. “It was no secret.”Sondland will say that among those who got his July 19 email about the demand were Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.“We all understood that these pre-requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements,” Sondland will say.Sondland Says Pompeo Knew of Demands for Aid (9:10 a.m.)Sondland also provides an email exchange putting Secretary of State Michael Pompeo within the loop of getting Ukraine’s president to appease Trump’s concerns and “break the logjam” on providing the security funds. That would include setting up a meeting in Warsaw “for a short pull-aside” for Trump to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.“I would ask Zelenskiy to look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine’s new justice folks are in place (mid-Sept), that Ze should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to Potus and to the US,” Sondland told Pompeo on Aug. 22. “Hopefully, that will break the logjam.”Pompeo replied “Yes,” according to Sondland’s opening statement.Sondland Confirms ‘Quid Pro Quo’ for Probe (9:01 a.m.)Sondland will say, “as I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelenskiy.”“Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma,” Sondland will say. “Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president.”He will say that he learned in July and August that U.S. security aid to Ukraine was being suspended. Sondland plans to say he was “adamantly opposed” to the suspension and never received a “clear answer” of why it was delayed.“I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded,” Sondland’s opening statement says. He will say he shared his concerns with the Ukrainians and with Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.Sondland Worked With Giuliani on Trump Order (8:53 a.m.)Sondland will tell the committee that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. envoy Kurt Volker worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at Trump’s “express direction.”“We played the hand we were dealt,” Sondland will say, according to his prepared opening statement obtained by Bloomberg.“We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders,” he will say.Bondi Says Trump Probably Won’t Testify (8:47 a.m.)President Trump would relish the opportunity to testify in the impeachment probe before Congress under oath but probably won’t because the proceedings are tantamount to a “sham court,” White House aide Pam Bondi said.“I know why he wants to testify, because he did nothing wrong,” Bondi said on CBS in one of her first interviews after being hired by the White House to manage communications and strategy on impeachment.Separately, Bondi distanced Trump from Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the EU, who is at the center of the impeachment inquiry and is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Cmte on Tuesday. Trump knows Sondlland, but “does not know him well,” Bondi said.Sondland to Say Pompeo Looped In on Ukraine (8:01 a.m.)Sondland looped in Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy into making public commitments to appease Trump so he would grant an Oval Office meeting, the New York Times reported Wednesday.Sondland advised Pompeo in August about drafting a statement with Ukrainian officials that they hoped would satisfy Trump, the newspaper said, according two anonymous people briefed on the matter. Sondland also discussed pressure on Zelenskiy to take steps Trump sought prior to a scheduled meeting between the two leaders in Poland that was later canceled.It’s unclear how detailed Sondland was in his communications with Pompeo, who is said to have approved of the plan, according to the report. The previously undisclosed details link Pompeo more directly to the Trump administration’s campaign to push Ukraine to make commitments that House Democrats say would benefit Trump politically and possibly damage U.S. national security. -- Elizabeth WassermanSondland to Be Questioned on Call With Trump (7 a.m.)Sondland has put Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the center of the effort to extract a promise from Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.Sondland, a Trump donor, is likely to come under intense questioning after new information emerged about a telephone call he had with Trump on July 26, the day after Trump’s phone conversation with Zelenskiy.David Holmes, a member of the embassy staff in Kyiv, told House investigators last Friday that he overhead Trump asking Sondland about “the investigations.” Holmes said that Sondland told him after he hung up that the president “didn’t give a s--- about Ukraine” and that Trump only cares about the “big stuff” that benefits him “like the Biden investigation.” -- Billy HouseCatch Up on Impeachment CoverageKey EventsKurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, said Tuesday he wasn’t initially aware of attempts to prod that country into investigating Biden but later realized the anti-corruption efforts sought by the administration meant probes of the former vice president.The Sondland transcript is here and here; Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of Holmes, a Foreign Service officer in Kyiv, is here. The transcript of Hale is here. The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here.Taylor’s opening statement is here; Kent’s statement is here. Yovanovitch’s opening statement is here. Kurt Volker’s opening statement is here; Tim Morrison’s statement is here. Alexander Vindman’s statement is here. Jennifer Williams’s opening statement is here. Gordon Sondland’s opening statement is here. Laura Cooper’s opening statement is here.\--With assistance from Caitlin Webber, Nick Wadhams and Josh Wingrove.To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Trump Debuts Aggressive Impeachment Response With New Hires

    Trump Debuts Aggressive Impeachment Response With New Hires

    (Bloomberg) -- The White House is engaging in a more aggressive and organized response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry after hiring two new aides, though his congressional allies say the effort remains handicapped by President Donald Trump’s own unpredictable reactions.Trump recently hired Tony Sayegh, formerly the top spokesman at the Treasury Department, and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to coordinate the White House’s communications on impeachment. They help supervise a “rapid response” team for the impeachment hearings that issues talking points and statements in real time, attempting to undermine the credibility of witnesses or contradict testimony.But the challenge the pair faces was on display Wednesday, as Trump addressed reporters at the White House while his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, testified that the president directed an operation to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals.Trump, reading from notes he had written himself, said that he didn’t know Sondland very well. Mike Pence’s office, meanwhile, issued a statement from his chief of staff alleging that Sondland had lied to Congress about a conversation with the vice president.Sayegh is on leave from Teneo, a public relations and strategy firm in Washington, and Bondi resigned from a lobbying firm, Ballard Partners, to join the White House. They’re expected to assist with strategy, public messaging and other projects for about three months. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said they report to her, although other people familiar with the situation say the two new aides also confer with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and senior adviser Jared Kushner.“The team we put together a month ago has always been unified and ready to be aggressive when the time was right,” Grisham said in an email. “I am thrilled to have Tony and Pam join the team for a short time to help us in those efforts.”CBS InterviewSayegh’s role is behind the scenes, while Bondi’s duties include making television appearances to defend the president. They both coordinate with congressional Republicans and Trump’s allies outside the White House, according to people familiar with the matter.Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller has also participated in calls with conservative groups to coordinate impeachment communications, two of the people said.Bondi stumbled in her debut on Wednesday, misstating Sondland’s title in an interview with CBS News as she struggled to answer a question about how well Trump knows his ambassador.“He was ambassador to the Ukraine. He is ambassador to the Ukraine. And the president knows him, the president does not know him very well,” Bondi said in the interview. “He’s a short term ambassador. Of course he knows him, he’s the ambassador.”Bondi had 18 years’ experience prosecuting criminal cases including murder and domestic violence before becoming Florida’s top law enforcement officer. She said she was aware that she misspoke in the CBS interview.She’s scheduled to appear on Laura Ingraham’s program on Fox News later on Wednesday.Sayegh declined to comment.Rapid ResponseBondi and Sayegh, who share an office, are involved in directing the West Wing’s “rapid-response” team during televised public hearings in the House inquiry. The group includes members of Grisham’s staff.On Tuesday, that operation issued talking points to supporters declaring that a key witness who still works at the White House, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, “has major credibility issues.”On Wednesday, the team highlighted parts of Sondland’s testimony it considered exculpatory for Trump, including the ambassador saying that he was only making a “guess” about why the president withheld military aid Congress had directed him to provide to Ukraine.Sayegh speaks multiple times each day with congressional Republican communications aides to try to sync their messages with the White House, according to people familiar with the matter, and has met with both large groups of Senate and House GOP staff as well as a smaller working-group of aides focused on impeachment.Related: Trump’s Top Aides Clash Over Impeachment as House Probe ExpandsSayegh, 43, and Bondi, 54, aren’t the only Trump allies helping him battle impeachment. But their roles may expand given that Trump’s personal lawyer and most vocal defender, Rudy Giuliani, faces his own legal jeopardy related to his activity in Ukraine.Bondi is a longtime Trump supporter who has previously been eyed for an administration job. She came under scrutiny in 2016, as Florida attorney general, after she declined to pursue claims by state residents that Trump University had defrauded them.Her decision came shortly after Trump’s charitable foundation made a $25,000 donation to a political group associated with Bondi in 2013. His foundation paid a $2,500 fine to the Internal Revenue Service for the donation. A Bondi spokeswoman said in 2017 that her office had only received one official complaint about the university and had referred it to the attorney general in New York, which was pursuing its own case against the the institution.She joined Ballard Partners after her second term as attorney general ended in January. Justin Sayfie, a managing partner for the firm, said she has separated from Ballard and de-registered as a lobbyist for her clients. He said she also sent a letter to the Department of Justice to say that she’s no longer an agent for the government of Qatar.White House InfightingSayegh and Bondi’s involvement in the White House impeachment response has heartened some Republicans on Capitol Hill who were previously dissatisfied with the president’s team, according to two congressional officials. Trump’s effort to blunt the Democratic-led inquiry has been marked by infighting between aides and untimely tweets from the president’s personal account.Before Bondi and Sayegh were hired, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Cipollone clashed over who should direct the impeachment response, fueling concern among the president’s allies that the West Wing was ill-equipped to defend Trump.Some of Trump’s tweets have caused discomfort among congressional Republicans, especially an attack on former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday during her testimony, a missive Democrats said could amount to an attempt to intimidate the witness.Trump has said he has a right to defend himself and that he didn’t intend to intimidate Yovanovitch. Some House GOP lawmakers have also refused to echo the White House’s attacks on Vindman as unreliable and a possible leaker.Additionally, Trump’s directive that the administration not participate in the inquiry has been ignored by many officials following subpoenas from House Democrats.And even on the White House grounds, impeachment messages are not entirely coordinated. For example, Pence’s office did not ask Trump’s communications officials to review the statement by his chief of staff, Marc Short, before it was issued on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. In addition to challenging Sondland’s testimony, Short’s statement sought to distance Pence from the Ukraine scandal.In a July 25 phone conversation, the president asked Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a discredited allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and to probe Burisma Holdings, a company connected to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.Short said Pence raised none of those issues in a subsequent Sept. 1 meeting with Zelenskiy in Warsaw.“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelenskiy before, during, or after the Sept. 1 meeting in Poland,” Short said.Zero to 100Sayegh has strong ties to Capitol Hill from his time at the Treasury Department, where he helped the White House win passage of its 2017 tax overhaul, and that familiarity has helped to encourage congressional Republicans, according to the two congressional aides.One of them described the hires as accelerating the White House’s response from zero to 100, adding that it showed the West Wing is finally taking the impeachment probe seriously. Trump had previously resisted creating a “war room” or bringing on additional staff to fight impeachment, essentially leaving himself in charge of the response.“I’m the team,” he told reporters in October, before Bondi and Sayegh were hired.While Republicans in Washington largely acknowledge there is no reining in Trump or his Twitter account, many believe a better-coordinated White House response can help the party win the battle for public opinion. A slight plurality of Americans, 46.6%, support Trump’s removal from office, compared to 45.5% who don’t, according to an analysis of polling by the website away at public support for Trump’s removal would likely assure the president isn’t convicted by the GOP-controlled Senate, should the House pass articles of impeachment as expected. It could also shore up his chances of re-election in 2020. He has already tried to appeal for public sympathy, portraying himself as the victim of an attempted Democratic “coup” and pointing out that some of his opponents have promoted his impeachment since nearly the start of his presidency.(Updates with additional information on Bondi beginning in 19th paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Saleha Mohsin in Washington at;Jordan Fabian in Washington at;Josh Wingrove in Washington at;Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at, Joshua GalluFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Dan Snyder Makes a Bundle Mismanaging the Redskins

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s a grim time in Washington, and not just because of the impeachment hearings. The Washington Redskins, for decades the city’s most beloved institution, are simply awful.So far this season, they’re 1-9, and with six games left, they’ll be lucky to win another. Last Sunday they were thoroughly outplayed by the lowly New York Jets, losing 31-17. That loss prompted the Washington Post’s great sportswriter Thomas Boswell to declare that, with the Washington Nationals winning the World Series this year and the Washington Capitals the Stanley Cup in 2018, Washington no longer lives and dies by the Redskins.The game photograph that accompanied Boswell’s column showed something that has rarely been seen at Redskins games: lots and lots of empty seats.Everyone in Washington knows exactly who to blame for this state of affairs: 54-year-old billionaire owner Dan Snyder. After making his fortune with a marketing business (he eventually sold it for $2.1 billion), Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999 for $750 million. In the subsequent 20 years, they’ve had six winning seasons, eight last-place finishes, and exactly two playoff victories — and the last one was in 2005.Snyder has hired bad coaches and fired good ones. He’s made terrible free-agent signings. He would sometimes dictate to his coaches who to bench and who to play. In early October, when Snyder fired head coach Jay Gruden five games into the season, Mark Cannizzaro, the New York Post’s pro football columnist, wrote, “If the Redskins owner truly wanted what was best for his franchise, he would have fired himself.”But why would he? Despite Snyder’s 20-year record of football ineptitude, he’s made a boatload of money as the team’s owner. Last year, according to Forbes, which publishes annual rankings of sports franchises, the Redskins had $120 million in operating income(1)on $493 million in revenue. Among the 32 teams in the National Football League, only six teams earned more. Forbes also ranks the Redskins the seventh-most-valuable franchise, with an estimated valuation of $3.2 billion. (The Dallas Cowboys are ranked first with a $5.5 billion valuation.) Last year, despite another losing record, the team still rose 10% in value, according to Forbes.Which leads to the obvious question: Does it even matter whether Snyder — or any other pro football owner — has a winning team or a losing one? From a financial standpoint, the answer, plainly, is no. As the sports consultant Marc Ganis told me, “NFL teams don’t lose money.”This is in large part because the NFL has a “share the wealth” philosophy. (Or to put it the way the late Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell once did, the NFL is run “by a bunch of fat-cat Republicans who vote socialist on football.”) The NFL has multiyear, multibillion-dollar contracts with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and DirecTV. That money is equally divided among the 32 teams, along with certain marketing and licensing deals negotiated by the NFL. In 2018 that pool of money amounted to $8.1 billion, or $255 million per team.The biggest expense for any team is player contracts. But don’t forget the salary cap, which places a limit on how much any NFL team can collectively pay all the players on its roster. It is currently $188.2 million. Michael Ozanian, who compiles the sports franchise rankings at Forbes, told me that when you include insurance, pensions and the like, most teams pay well over $200 million in salary-related expenses. Even so, the national TV contract alone more than covers the owners’ biggest expense.Then there’s gate revenue. In the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, the home team keeps all the money generated from ticket sales. In the NFL, the visiting team gets 40 percent of the gate. The Redskins, for instance, had $43 million in gross ticket sales last year, and netted $28.5 million after giving the visiting teams their cut.All told, about 75% of the revenue that a team gets comes via money that is shared among all the teams. That still means that the other 25% has to be self-generated. Here is where you would think the Redskins would have a problem, given the way they’ve alienated their fans.But you would be wrong. One of the first things Snyder did after buying the team was cut a $205 million, 27-year deal with FedEx Corp. to change the name of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to FedEx Field. (Cooke owned the team from 1974 until his death in 1997.) Snyder has since plastered FedEx Field with corporate sponsorships. In 2002, he cut a deal with Diageo Plc, the big liquor company, to put billboards in FedEx Field; they were strategically located to make sure that TV cameras would have to show them.The median ticket price for a Redskins game is $235. By one estimate, when you throw in parking and food, two people will pay $567 to attend a game, the ninth-highest cost for attending a league game. Snyder charges for fans to attend preseason practices (he charges for parking, too). He has come up with all kinds of schemes to extract fees from fans: fees to cut the security line on game day, for instance, or to get season tickets ahead of people who had signed up earlier. Indeed, all those empty seats may be held by season ticket holders who decided not to bother going to the game.One area where revenue has fallen for the Redskins is their haul from premium seating and luxury suites. In 2016 and 2017, that number was around $70 million, according to league data. More recently, it has dropped to around $65 million. It is hard to know whether that’s a function of the Redskins’ losing ways or the result of the elimination of the 50% tax deduction for client entertainment expenses that was part of the 2018 tax bill (corporations have traditionally liked booking suites to entertain clients).Of course, what smart team owners understand is that the best way to field a winning team is to hire really good football minds — and get out of their way. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was a meddler like Snyder in the early years of his ownership. But once he hired Bill Belichick as his head coach, he stopped getting involved in most football decisions.Twenty years in, it seems unlikely Snyder will ever learn that lesson. Redskins fans loathe him and most other NFL owners view him as a lightweight. But given the NFL’s business model, none of this matters. Most likely, Snyder will keep wrecking a once-great franchise while he keeps raking in the profits. Why should he change when there’s no consequence?(1) Forbes defines operating income as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • A Tech Company Now, Disney Has to Tackle Password Thieves

    A Tech Company Now, Disney Has to Tackle Password Thieves

    (Bloomberg) -- Some customers who signed up for Walt Disney Co.’s new Disney+ streaming service have seen their usernames and passwords sold online to third parties and have been locked out of their newly opened accounts.Disney said its system hasn’t been hacked and that it’s working to quickly address the issue. It’s possible that hackers obtained the names and passwords from data breaches at other companies.“Disney takes the privacy and security of our users’ data very seriously, and there is no indication of a security breach on Disney+,” the company said in a statement.Disney+ is the company’s effort to build a direct connection to consumers, as many people shift to watching movies and shows on demand rather than on cable and satellite TV. The $7-a-month service launched a week ago and quickly signed up more than 10 million customers, a number far exceeding predictions.Still, the debut was marred by many complaints from customers who couldn’t log on or had trouble watching programs. But the number of gripes collected by the website Downdetector has dropped sharply over the past week and now amounts to just a few dozen.Growing ExposureSpeaking at the Code Media conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Disney’s direct-to-consumer chief blamed the initial troubles on faulty coding in the app that the company is working to fix. Kevin Mayer said Disney executives were “very surprised” by the number of people who subscribed.The sign-up process was complicated, he said, because some customers already had subscriptions to Disney services such as Hulu and wanted to add the new one. Many customers also forgot they already has Disney accounts.“Not only was it huge demand, but the complexity,” Mayer said. “If you were a current subscriber, how does it work? Those were legitimate questions.”While Disney has long collected customers’ names and passwords for its theme parks and online games, the expansion into online video on a global basis brings the potential for more technology snafus.ZDNet reported over the weekend that Disney+ users’ accounts were being put up for sale on hacking forums within hours of the service’s launch at prices of $3 to $11 each. Some customers reported they had used old passwords, but others said they hadn’t, according to the website.While there may be few thousand compromised Disney accounts, that’s small compared with the hundreds of thousands of usernames and passwords on the black market hijacked from platforms like Hulu, Netflix and HBO, said Andrei Barysevich, chief executive officer and co-founder of the security firm Gemini Advisory.‘Very Effective’Reusing names and password combinations from previous attacks at other sites can be a “very effective method” for hackers, he said.“This is one of the biggest problems, not just streaming services, but pretty much every e-commerce business has been battling for the last couple of years, because there’s an abundance of compromised emails and passwords on the dark web,” Barysevich said.At Code Media, a conference for media executives, operators of rival services praised the Disney+ launch. David Nevins, chief creative officer at CBS Corp., called the sign-ups “impressive,” while AT&T Inc. President John Stankey said that while Disney+ “was off to a good start,” keeping customers happy and subscribed will be an ongoing issue.“How many of the 10 million customers are there six months from now?” Stankey asked. “It’s managing churn.”(Updates with executive comments starting in sixth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at;Kiley Roache in New York at kroache@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at, Rob GolumFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Testimony of Two Diplomats Is Released: Impeachment Update

    Testimony of Two Diplomats Is Released: Impeachment Update

    (Bloomberg) -- The House Intelligence Committee plans to hear from eight witnesses in open hearings this week in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.The first ones, testifying Tuesday, will be Jennifer Williams of Vice President Mike Pence’s office, National Security Council official Alexander Vindman, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and NSC official Timothy Morrison.Here are the latest developments:Testimony Cites Lack of Support for Yovanovitch (8:40 p.m.)Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale told impeachment investigators at a closed-door session that Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted by Trump, did not have the support of the State Department when she came under attack by the president’s allies. He said that he pushed for a department statement in support of Yovanovitch, but “the impression we had was that if would only fuel negative reaction.” “So, I think the judgment was that it would be better for everyone, including the ambassador, to try to just move past this,” Hale said, adding that, “I mean, one point of view was that it might even provoke a public reaction from the president himself about the ambassador.”Trump has since posted disparaging remarks about Yovanovitch on Twitter. The House on Monday night released transcripts of testimony by Hale and David Holmes, a foreign service officer in Kyiv, who testified that he overheard a key phone conversation between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who has also given testimony in the inquiry. Hale and Sondland are scheduled to appear at a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Holmes on Thursday. The Hale transcript can be found here, the Holmes transcript here.Testimony of Top Diplomat Is Released: (8:08 p.m.)The House on Monday night released the transcript of testimony by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, who appeared at a closed door session of the impeachment inquiry on Nov. 6. Hale bucked the official White House policy to not cooperate with the investigation and complied with the congressional request.Hale is scheduled to appear at a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.The transcript can be found here.GOP Senator Doesn’t Recall Trump Comment (5:37 p.m.)Republican Senator Ron Johnson said Monday he doesn’t remember Trump telling diplomatic officials to talk to his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about Ukraine during a meeting last May.U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland has testified that during a May 23 meeting with Trump at the White House, the president told U.S. officials to “talk to Rudy” about Ukraine policy.Johnson, in a written statement to Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, said he also attended the meeting and added, “I have no recollection of the president saying that during the meeting.”“It is entirely possible he did, but because I do not work for the president, if made, that comment simply did not register with me,” Johnson said. He also said that Sondland stayed behind to speak to the president as others left the meeting.Johnson also said that when he met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his advisers in Ukraine in early September -- while U.S. military aid was on hold -- there was no mention by any Ukrainian officials “that they were feeling pressure to do anything in return for the military aid.”Embassy Aide Holmes to Testify in Public (4:31 p.m.)The impeachment inquiry’s public session on Thursday will hear from David Holmes, a staff member in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, who testified in private last week that he heard Trump ask Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about “the investigations” -- a reference to probes about Joe Biden and the 2016 election.According to a copy of his opening statement, Holmes said Sondland told him in July that Trump “did not give a s--- about Ukraine” and that the president only cares about the “big stuff” that benefits Trump “like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”Pompeo Says He’s ‘Proud’ of Work in Ukraine (2:55 p.m.)Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he’s “proud of the team” at the State Department even as he refused to discuss the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and the department employees who defied his orders by testifying in the impeachment investigation.“I always defend State Department employees,” Pompeo said in a press briefing at the department on Monday. But he refused to answer substantive questions about the ouster of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from Kyiv at Trump‘s demand as the president pressed Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and other Democrats.Pompeo also declined to say whether he agreed with Trump’s tweet during Yovanovitch’s testimony last week, when the president wrote that “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”House Lawyer Implies Trump Lied to Mueller (11:53 a.m.)The House Judiciary Committee needs to see materials and transcripts from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury including, potentially, evidence that Trump might have lied, an attorney for House Democrats told a U.S. appeals court in Washington on Monday.The lawyer, Douglas Letter, made that claim in opposing the Justice Department’s request to keep those materials under seal while it appeals a lower court order granting the committee’s request for the records last month.Chief Judge Beryl Howell on Oct. 25 rejected Justice Department arguments that the House impeachment process doesn’t qualify as a judicial proceeding for the purposes of turning over grand jury materials that are ordinarily kept sealed.Justice Department lawyer Mark Freeman reiterated that argument Monday before a three-judge panel. The panel includes one judge appointed by a Democratic president and two appointed by Republicans. One, Neomi Rao, was placed on the court by Trump earlier this year.Defending Howell’s ruling, Letter told the court there’s evidence that “very sadly, the president might have provided untruthful answers” to the Mueller probe. -- Andrew HarrisTrump Says He’ll Consider Testifying in Probe (9:10 a.m.)President Donald Trump, in a tweet on Monday morning, said that he’d “strongly consider” testifying in the House’s impeachment inquiry after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that he’s welcome to do so.“The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants -- if he wants to take the oath of office or he could do it in writing,” Pelosi said in a interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation” broadcast on Sunday. “He has every opportunity to present his case.”Trump on Monday criticized the hearing, questioned the House’s progress on passing the U.S. Mexico-Canada trade agreement and referenced Pelosi’s comments. “Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”Trump similarly suggested repeatedly that he’d agree to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. But his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani later said he’d only answer limited questions on whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election. Trump -- via Giuliani -- demanded in return that he isn’t asked questions about obstruction of justice. -- Mario ParkerPoll Finds 70% Say Trump’s Ukraine Bid Wrong (7:30 a.m.)After the House’s first week of public impeachment hearings, 70% of Americans think Trump’s request that Ukraine‘s president investigate political rival Joe Biden was wrong, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll has found.Just over half of Americans -- 51% -- said Trump should be impeached and removed from office over those actions.Another 19% deemed Trump’s actions wrong, yet said he should either be impeached by the House but not removed from office by the Senate, or that he should neither be impeached nor removed.Underscoring the continued divisiveness in America, the poll found that 25% don’t think Trump did anything wrong.The House is conducting an inquiry into whether the Trump administration tried to get newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into Biden and his son, in exchange for releasing nearly $400 million in U.S. security aid or scheduling a meeting between the two leaders.The Nov. 16-17 survey of a random national sample of 506 adults has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.8 percentage points. -- Elizabeth WassermanCatch Up on Impeachment CoverageKey EventsFormer U.S. envoy to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told the House impeachment inquiry Friday she felt intimidated by Trump’s attacks on her work, only to have the president launch a fresh broadside against her as she testified in a public hearing.The Gordon Sondland transcript is here and here; former special envoy Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here.Taylor’s opening statement is here; Kent’s statement is here. Yovanovitch’s opening statement is here.\--With assistance from Mario Parker and Andrew Harris.To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at, Anna Edgerton, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Disney+ is so hot right now that it's helping this toymaker's sales pop
    Yahoo Finance

    Disney+ is so hot right now that it's helping this toymaker's sales pop

    Yahoo Finance speaks with Funko CEO Brian Mariotti inside its new 400,000-square-foot Hollywood mega store.

  • Trump Weighs Testifying on Impeachment After Silencing His Aides

    Trump Weighs Testifying on Impeachment After Silencing His Aides

    (Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump said Monday that he’s “strongly considering” testifying in his own impeachment inquiry, responding in a tweet to a suggestion from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after again insulting her and congressional Democrats for pursuing his removal from office.Trump indicated that he thinks his testimony -- possibly in writing -- would be a way to resolve the inquiry and get Congress focused on issues he’d like to advance before his 2020 re-election campaign, including a new North American trade deal and drug prices.The president’s tweet contrasts with his defiant approach to the impeachment inquiry thus far. The White House has refused to provide access to documents and witnesses, creating a stand-off between the two branches of government and leaving current members of the administration stuck in the middle.Some, including the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, Alexander Vindman, have defied the order not to comply with congressional subpoenas. Others, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and his deputy Charles Kupperman, have sued to force a court decision on whether they should testify.Read more of the latest updates from the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry/Trump’s suggestion, though, echoes his move during Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. After months of negotiation between his lawyers and Mueller, the president agreed only to answer a limited set of questions in writing.Pelosi said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Trump “has every opportunity to present his case,” including by testifying under oath or submitting a written statement to impeachment investigators.Trump and many congressional Republicans have demanded public testimony by the anonymous whistle-blower who first raised alarms about the president’s effort to force the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals. Pelosi said she wouldn’t allow the person’s identity to be exposed.“I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistle-blower,” the California Democrat said. “This is really important, especially when it comes to intelligence, that someone who would be courageous enough to point out truth to power.”Several witnesses in the inquiry have corroborated the whistle-blower’s allegation that Trump sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy into investigating a company once connected to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The effort was led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.(Updates with White House blocking testimony in third and fourth paragraphs)To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at, Joshua Gallu, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Trump Slams Pence Aide Set to Testify at Impeachment Hearing

    Trump Slams Pence Aide Set to Testify at Impeachment Hearing

    (Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump used Twitter on Sunday to slam Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who’s due to testify in the public impeachment inquiry into the president’s actions with Ukraine.Trump called Williams a “Never Trumper.” The longtime State Department employee -- currently a special adviser to Pence -- was on the July 25 phone call that’s at the center of the inquiry, and said in closed-door testimony on Nov. 7 that she found some of the discussion between Trump and Ukraine’s president “unusual and inappropriate.”She’s due to testify on Tuesday alongside Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council. They are among eight witnesses to testify before the committee this week.Trump’s tweet echoed one he sent on Friday about Marie Yovanovitch while the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was testifying before the panel. The tweet was described as witness intimidation by many Democratic lawmakers. The president has also tweeted about William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine and, indirectly, about Vindman.Asked in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether Trump was trying to intimidate Yovanovich, House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi said she doesn’t have time to pay attention to Trump’s tweets but “that was totally wrong and inappropriate and typical of the president.”Pelosi also said Trump can make his case directly to the Intelligence Committee, but she vowed to protect the whistle-blower whose complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry of the president’s actions with Ukraine.“The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants -- if he wants to take the oath of office or he could do it in writing,” Pelosi said in a interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “He has every opportunity to present his case.”Trump and Republicans in Congress have demanded that the whistle-blower be compelled to testify so that the president knows who made the accusations. Pelosi, in the interview recorded Friday, ruled out any steps that would expose the person who filed the complaint.“I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistle-blower,” the California Democrat said. “This is really important, especially when it comes to intelligence, that someone who would be courageous enough to point out truth to power and then through the filter of a Trump-appointed inspector general who found it of urgent concern...and then took it to the next steps.”Pelosi headlined a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers who appeared on Sunday morning political shows to argue, respectively, that the case for impeachment against Trump is building or to defend the president and criticize the way Democrats are conducting the inquiry.Republican Representative Mike Turner of Ohio, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week’s testimony from witnesses including William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, that connected the withholding of military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political investigations didn’t implicate Trump.“He offers nothing new -- still no quid pro quo, still no smoking gun, still the same information,” Turner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”‘Goes to Die’Democratic Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, another member of the Intelligence panel, said on ABC’s “This Week” that evidence of impeachable offenses against Trump is building. He criticized Republican efforts to dismiss it as “it happens all the time” and “so what?”“I’m telling you, ‘so what?’ is where our democracy goes to die,” Maloney said.Maloney urged fellow committee member Chris Stewart, a Republican of Utah also appearing on ABC, to join him in calling for the State Department to release all emails, notes, call records and calendar items that the committee has subpoenaed. Stewart replied, “You bet, because I don’t think there’s anything there at all that is going to implicate the president” -- and that in return, the Democrats should call the whistle-blower and former Vice President Joe Biden to testify.Republicans have said the fact military aid to Ukraine was released without an investigation is proof Trump did nothing wrong, but Pelosi said the money was released after the whistle-blower complaint and “the whistle was blown.”Was LegitRepublican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a vocal Trump ally who was recently added to the Intelligence Committee, suggested on CBS that the aid was released after Trump and U.S. officials spoke with newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and became convinced he “was legit and he was worth the risk” of U.S. funding.“So there was never this quid pro quo that the Democrats all promise existed,” Jordan said.Trump had no public events Sunday but was active on Twitter. He criticized Democrats and said Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian foreign minister “both said there was no pressure placed on them whatsoever” and that “they didn’t even know the money wasn’t paid, and got the money with no conditions.”Pelosi said the public phase of the House Intelligence Committee hearings would continue for another week, while additional depositions are taken from other witnesses. But she said she didn’t know how long the hearings would continue.“I guess it depends on how many more witnesses they have,” she said. “That’s up to the committee. I don’t guide that.”Hearings ResumeThe schedule this week also includes public testimony on Wednesday from Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who witnesses have said had a phone call with Trump they overheard, during which the president directly discussing Ukrainian investigations into Biden and his son and the 2016 presidential election.Sondland will have to decide “whether his primary loyalty is to America or whether his primary loyalty is to president of the United States,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said on CNN.Pelosi invoked the name of Richard Nixon, the Republican president who resigned in 1974 after a House committee approved articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress tied to the Watergate burglary two years earlier -- during his re-election campaign. He quit before the House voted.“It’s really a sad thing,” Pelosi said. “I mean, what the president did was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did, that at some point Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognize that this could not continue.”\--With assistance from Hailey Waller, Tony Czuczka and Ben Bain.To contact the reporters on this story: Steve Geimann in Washington at;Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at, Ros Krasny, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Pelosi warns Trump over intimidation of Ukraine whistleblower

    Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said she would “make sure” President Donald Trump does not “intimidate” the whistleblower who first sparked an impeachment inquiry as public hearings launch into their second week. Speaking on CBS, Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump was welcome to appear before the impeachment inquiry.

  • CBS NFL broadcaster James Brown: Kaepernick tryout is not a PR stunt
    Yahoo Finance

    CBS NFL broadcaster James Brown: Kaepernick tryout is not a PR stunt

    CBS NFL broadcaster James Brown says Colin Kaepernick's workout this weekend is a chance for him to prove he can still play in front of NFL scouts.

  • Bloomberg

    Impeachment Hearing Draws About 13 Million TV Viewers, 33% Fewer than James Comey

    (Bloomberg) -- Almost 13.8 million TV viewers watched the first day of public testimony in the House impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, falling short of the mammoth audience that tuned in to see James Comey’s congressional testimony in 2017.Fox Corp.’s Fox News, whose prime-time shows often champion the president, drew the biggest audience, with 2.9 million viewers. It was followed closely by Comcast Corp.’s MSNBC, with 2.7 million, based on Nielsen ratings.The total viewership figure roughly compares with the 19.5 million viewers who watched Comey, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, more than two years ago.It’s harder to say how the audiences compare with earlier high-profile hearings, since the TV landscape has changed so much over the years. Today, many people watch clips of events on social media or they stream them online. In contrast, 71% of Americans said they saw the Watergate hearings live on TV, according to Gallup.On a Saturday in 1998, CNN’s audience for a House of Representatives vote on the Clinton impeachment averaged 1.8 million homes, according to the New York Times. When CBS switched from the impeachment hearing that year to an NFL game, its viewership quadrupled.Wednesday’s hearing featured two experienced diplomats detailing their concerns that the president tried to leverage his office for personal political gain, including a new account of Trump stressing his desire for Ukraine to investigate a rival.While Democrats had released transcripts of their previous testimony as part of their impeachment inquiry, the lawmakers had hoped that having the witnesses speak in front of a large televised audience would help build more public support for their case.(Updates with final Nielsen numbers starting in first paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at, Kara WetzelFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Is Your TV Service a Streaming, Confusing Mess, Too?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- When I read my colleague Tara Lachapelle’s column on Wednesday about how the “great unbundling” of cable television could turn into the “great re-bundling,” I had to chuckle. It was inevitable that once consumers got a taste of what an unbundled world looked like, they would begin to appreciate some of the virtues of the once-despised cable bundle.Yet not many people realized that a decade or so ago, when talk about a-la-carte television (as unbundling was then called) was all the rage. Back then, it seemed so simple. As cable bills grew more expensive, consumers questioned why they were forced to take — and pay for — 300 channels when they only really watched 9 or 10. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just get the stations they cared about? More to the point, wouldn’t it be cheaper once they were rid of the 290 stations they didn’t want? Obviously, the bundle was the problem.In Washington, two successive Republican chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, were big advocates of a-la-carte television back in the 2000s. Gene Kimmelman, an executive with Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports,  told me in 2007 that a-la-carte television “would create marketplace pressure to reduce prices.”  I wrote about cable television frequently in the mid-2000s, and the reader feedback was almost unanimous. “What we really need is a la carte TV,” one reader wrote. “That way I can buy what I want rather than what someone forces into my TV.”The one person I knew who never bought the hype was a Wall Street analyst named Craig Moffett. Today, Moffett is a partner at MoffettNathanson LLC, a research boutique he co-founded in 2013. When I first got to know him, he was with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC(1) covering the telecom and cable industries. I recently went back and looked at his old research — not only because it has turned out to be prophetic, but because a-la-carte television is a good example of why we should be careful of what we wish for.What Moffett understood, and unbundling’s proponents didn’t, was that the economics of cable was, in one important sense, illusory. Cable companies paid stations based on the number of total subscribers — not on the number of people who actually watched. This system had two big benefits. It allowed niche stations without a lot of advertising to reap enough revenue to make a go of it. And it allowed the more popular stations to charge more for advertising than if they were unbundled.Without the cable bundle, Moffett said, many of the niche channels wouldn’t survive. And the bigger ones would have to charge so much that it wouldn’t be long before consumers were paying more for their 10 channels than they had for 300.One example he used in a note to clients in 2007 was Black Entertainment Television.  Without the cable bundle, Moffett estimated that BET would need to raise its subscription price by 588% to maintain its revenue at the time — and that would have only been possible if every African-American household in the U.S. subscribed. “If just half opted in — a wildly optimistic scenario — the price would rise by 1,200%,” he wrote.Moffett saw early on that streaming, barely a blip on the horizon, would disrupt the bundle. During this past decade, millions of American households have cut the cord. Perhaps more important, according to one survey, almost three-fourths of all U.S. households subscribe to at least one streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.Streaming obviously has a lot of upside. The quality of a typical, streamed TV show today is superior to the vast majority of shows the networks used to offer. Being able to watch on demand is a blessing. The fact that shows on Amazon Prime or Netflix have no ads, well, who doesn’t love that?But there have also been downsides, just as Moffett predicted. Let’s face it: you’re not really saving money. I pay $15.99 a month for a Netflix premium subscription, $11.99 for Hulu premium (which means no ads), $14.99 for HBO NOW, $11 for Showtime, and $4.99 for the new Apple TV service. If I decide to add Disney+ that’ll be another $6.99 a month.Because I’m a sports fan, I need a way to get ESPN and ESPN 2, which remain tethered to the bundle because their costs are so enormous they would simply be unaffordable as stand-alone streaming services. I’ve been using PlayStation Vue’s mini-bundle, which costs $54.99. Sony Corp. recently announced it will be ending the service at the end of January, so I’ll have to find a replacement. But they’re all in the same basic price range.When you add it all up — something I’d avoided doing until I wrote this column — it comes to $113.95. A month. Ouch. And that doesn’t include the $12.99 a month I pay to be an Amazon Prime member, which gives me access to shows like “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”Here’s another data point. Remember Moffett’s prediction about what would happen if BET left the bundle? We now have the proof.  Cable subscribers pay 27 cents a month for BET, according to research from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. A subscriber to its spanking new streaming app, BET Plus: Try $9.99. So much for all the money we were going to save.The other problem, as Tara noted in her column, is the frustration that has come with dealing with all these different services. It means “knowing which TV programs and movies reside where, having to toggle among those different apps — which isn’t as smooth as simply channel-surfing — and managing multiple monthly subscriptions,” Tara wrote.Wouldn’t you know it: Moffett saw this coming too. In 2006, he wrote a tongue-in-cheek note to clients from sometime in the future. Streaming, he predicted, had become a burden:The complexity was overwhelming. Forgotten passwords. Balky navigation. And lord, were the subscription fees astronomical, what with the average consumer having to sign up for six or seven different companies’ offerings in order to satisfy all the different members of the family.The solution, Moffett projected, would come from a clever entrepreneur with a once-in-a-lifetime idea:What if we could aggregate all the channels in one place? Disney, Fox, Turner, ABC, NBC, YouTube, CBS, MTV, the whole works, accessible from a single source. For one monthly subscription, we could bring viewers all of this amazing content, smoothly and easily! One navigation framework. A single interface. One bill. All the channels at your fingertips. And even huge libraries of content, available on demand!!!We’re not there yet. But we’re heading in that direction. It won’t be cheap. But I have my own prediction: This time around, nobody’s going to be complaining about the bundle.(1) The firm is now known as AllianceBernstein L.P.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Deval Patrick Joins Crowded 2020 Presidential Contest

    Deval Patrick Joins Crowded 2020 Presidential Contest

    (Bloomberg) -- Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joined the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential campaign Thursday amid growing concerns in the party that the existing field won’t produce a nominee strong enough to beat President Donald Trump.Patrick, who resigned Wednesday as a managing director at Bain Capital LP, said in a video that he is running “to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American dream for the next generation.”He’s expected travel to New Hampshire either Thursday or Friday before the filing deadline to get on the primary ballot there, according to two Democrats familiar with his plans.“I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field. They bring a richness of ideas and experience and a depth of character that makes me proud to be a Democrat,” Patrick said. But instead of the character of the candidates, this election “is about the character of the country.”“This time is about more than removing an unpopular and divisive leader, as important as that is, but about delivering instead for you,” Patrick said.Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said Patrick called him early Thursday, and said he would be in Iowa next week. The Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 are the first nominating contest and voters, as well as state and party officials, expect candidates to campaign there in person.Patrick, 63, would appeal to moderate voters who worry whether former Vice President Joe Biden is up to the task of facing Trump head-on, and worry that South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg lacks the proper experience.Patrick, who is African-American, also could cut into Biden’s strength with black voters. He could make a case that he could boost turnout of black voters in the general election better than Biden, who currently leads among that slice of the electorate.Patrick’s decision is “an implicit criticism of the whole field and Biden, Booker, Harris in particular,” said former Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank. “It’s going to make a lot of people angry.”Of his prospects for breaking through a crowded Democratic field, Patrick told CBS’s “This Morning” on Thursday that “you can’t know if you can break through until you try.”Patrick said he doesn’t support Medicare for All and favors increasing taxes on “the most prosperous and most fortunate.”He said he spoke with former President Barack Obama on Wednesday before announcing his candidacy. Patrick has close ties to Obama and his move is being perceived as a sign that the former president and his allies are worried about Biden’s ability to beat Trump.Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, the two black candidates in the race, are polling in the low single digits.Patrick, who served two terms as governor, had previously ruled out a bid for president, citing the impact of the “cruelty of our elections process” on his family. But, in recent days, Patrick has told allies and party leaders he sees an opening for a candidate that can unite the Democratic Party.Patrick faces an uphill battle to winning the nomination, with no staff on the ground in the early states and limited name recognition. He left office in 2015 to join Bain Capital, the firm co-founded by another Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, now a Republican senator from Utah.Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is another possible late entry into the field. He has filed paperwork required for the Democratic primaries in Alabama and Arkansas. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.Patrick also faces the difficulty of raising money to finance a national campaign and qualifying for the party debates, which have increased their fundraising and polling thresholds.Patrick was the second elected black governor in U.S. history and would need a strong performance in South Carolina, where the majority of the Democratic electorate is black.Before serving as governor, Patrick worked as a U.S. assistant attorney general for the civil rights division under President Bill Clinton and worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.Patrick traveled to early states last year and allies of Obama were urging him to run, but he decided against a bid last November.(Updates with Patrick resigning as managing director in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Joshua Green and Caitlin Webber.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Epstein in Washington at;Tyler Pager in Washington at tpager1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Company News For Nov 13, 2019

    Company News For Nov 13, 2019

    Companies In The News Are: ROK, CBS, DHI, LIN.

  • CBS Q3 Earnings Surpass Estimates, Revenues Increase Y/Y

    CBS Q3 Earnings Surpass Estimates, Revenues Increase Y/Y

    CBS Corp's (CBS) third-quarter 2019 results reflect growth in direct-to-consumer businesses like CBS All Access and Showtime OTT.

  • How and When to Watch the House Impeachment Hearings

    How and When to Watch the House Impeachment Hearings

    (Bloomberg) -- Americans will see live testimony Wednesday in House Democrats’ bid to show that President Donald Trump abused his office and should be impeached for pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival while withholding U.S. aid.In public hearings starting at 10 a.m. Washington time, Democrats on the Intelligence Committee will try to make the case that Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” -- the U.S. Constitution’s standard for impeachment by the House and a Senate trial on whether to convict and remove a president from office.Trump is accused of withholding security aid to Ukraine and a coveted invitation to the White House while pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.Republicans have stood by the president, arguing there was no link -- no “quid pro quo” -- between the aid and the investigation request. Some say that even if there was, it’s not an impeachable offense. Republicans also call the process unfair, as the GOP can call defense witnesses only with majority Democrats’ approval and the president’s lawyer will not be allowed to participate in this phase.Where to WatchWatch the hearings live on the Bloomberg Terminal at LIVE or streaming on the web at The Intelligence Committee will stream the video on YouTube here. PBS will carry the hearings live, as will C-SPAN3, and C-SPAN Radio. NBC News, ABC News and CBS News plan to interrupt regular broadcasting with special reports on the hearings; CNN, Fox News and MSNBC plan more extensive airings.The WitnessesTop U.S. envoy to Ukraine William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent will testify on Wednesday.Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify Friday.Taylor has said that during his first several months in the post he grew increasingly concerned that Ukraine aid was being held hostage to White House demands for politically motivated investigations. He said he “always kept careful notes.”Kent is significant because he testified that Trump “wanted nothing less than President Zelenskiy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton.” He didn’t directly speak to Trump about it, however.Yovanovitch described Rudy Giuliani‘s activities in seeking an investigation of Biden and the events that led Trump to remove her from her job in the spring.Additional hearings are scheduled next week. On Nov. 19, the lineup is Jennifer Williams, an aide to the vice president; Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s director for European Affairs; former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker; and Tim Morrison, a White House aide with NSC. On Nov. 20, testimony is expected from U.S. Ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland; Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense; and David Hale, under secretary of State. Former NSC director for Europe, Russia, Fiona Hill is to appear Nov. 21.Hearing ProcessThe House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will conduct the hearings, taking the lead after closed-door depositions conducted with the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.The hearing will follow rules set by a resolution approved Oct. 31 by the House, as well as by the House’s standing rules.The resolution gives Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and top Republican Devin Nunes, both of California, equal time in 90-minute rounds to question each witness, though they can hand over the questioning to committee staff.The 20 other members of the Intelligence Committee will get five minutes each to question the witness per round. There may be multiple rounds.Republicans have sought permission from Democrats to call at least nine witnesses. Already, Schiff has said he won’t allow Biden’s son Hunter or the anonymous whistle-blower to be called. Nunes asked for Hale, Morrison and Volker to testify and Schiff has agreed to hear testimony from these witnesses next week.Key LawmakersSchiff, by releasing transcripts of testimony, created a steady flow of negative news about Trump and Ukraine over weeks of closed-door depositions. The public hearings will be a test for the chairman, who drew criticism for an earlier public hearing on Ukraine. He parodied Trump’s call with the Ukrainian leader, giving the president an opening to say Schiff lied about the call.Nunes is one of Trump’s most staunch defenders in Congress. As Intelligence chairman during Republican control, Nunes had to turn the investigation into Russian interference over to colleague Mike Conaway after Nunes was accused of revealing classified information while defending Trump. He played a lead role in investigating the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, a probe that did political damage to Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election. Clinton was secretary of State at the time of the assault.House Republicans appointed Jim Jordan of Ohio to the Intelligence Committee so he can participate in the public hearings. Jordan, a combative House veteran, is the top Republican on the Oversight Committee and participated in the closed-door depositions.California Democrat Eric Swalwell emerged as an attack dog for the majority during numerous media interviews. Swalwell abandoned a presidential campaign earlier this year.The QuestionersDan Goldman, a former Russian-mob-busting federal prosecutor from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, will lead the opening 45 minutes of questioning controlled by Democrats. He was hired this year as senior adviser and director of investigations for the Intelligence Committee.Steve Castor, general counsel for Republicans on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for more than 14 years, will lead the next 45 minutes of questioning. He has investigated matters including Internal Revenue Service targeting of Tea Party groups and the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.Key DocumentsWilliam Taylor deposition transcriptGeorge Kent deposition transcriptMarie Yovanovitch deposition transcript is here and hereRough White House transcript of July 25 conversation between Trump and ZelenskiyTrump’s PlansTrump is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the first day of House hearings Wednesday. He’s also sure to weigh in on the proceedings.Next StepsAfter completing the hearings, the Intelligence Committee is to send a report summarizing its findings to the Judiciary Committee. That could come later this month.The Judiciary Committee then can hold public hearings, where Trump and his lawyers will be invited to attend, question witnesses and offer testimony. The committee would decide whether to draft articles of impeachment and vote on whether to send them to the full House for a vote to impeach the president.If the Senate receives articles of impeachment from the House, it must immediately begin a trial. Senators would sit as a jury, listening to the case from House managers and the White House defense, with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. A two-thirds majority is required to convict in the Senate, which Republicans control 53-47. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if the vote were held now, Trump would be acquitted.The HistoryOnly two presidents have been impeached by the U.S. House. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for firing his secretary of war over Congress’s objections and for other decisions related to the reconstruction of the American South after the Civil War. Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice related to his sworn statements related to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Both were acquitted by the Senate.Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment related to the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building and the subsequent cover-up. His advisers had warned him that impeachment and removal were likely.The Trump inquiry differs from the Nixon and Clinton investigations because in those cases, the Judiciary Committee held hearings relying on evidence compiled and turned over by special prosecutors. In Trump’s case, House committees conducted the investigation themselves.(Updates with additional testimony scheduled starting in 11th paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at, Laurie Asséo, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Yemen Gets A Rare Shot at Peace

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Yemen is a graveyard of optimism. In five years of war, a cessation of hostilities — even if temporary — seemed possible several times. There was a truce in the summer of 2015, two ceasefires and peace talks in Kuwait in 2016, and talks in Stockholm at the end of 2018.Each time, the hopes raised were just as quickly snuffed out, interred along with the 100,000 people killed in the fighting.So it would be easy, even expedient, to regard with skepticism the reports of back-channel negotiations between two key belligerents, Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels. But a flurry of other developments in the past two weeks allow for a resurrection of hope.First, a quick reminder of how we got here. In 2014, the Houthis, a Shiite sect from northern Yemen backed by Iran, took Sana’a from the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. A Saudi-led Arab coalition joined the fighting on Hadi’s side, with intelligence and logistical support from the U.S. The Houthis advanced all the way south to Aden, where they encountered stiff resistance from a combination of Hadi’s forces, southern militias and the Arab coalition.But earlier this summer, that coalition was frayed by divisions between Hadi and the southerners, leading to the prospect of a civil war within a civil war. This played right into the hands of the Houthis and their Iranian patrons.Meanwhile, elements of the Arab coalition, especially the United Arab Emirates, were tiring of the endless war. The Houthis, now receiving more support from Tehran, were launching missile, rocket and drone attacks deep into Saudi territory.Now for the fresh signs of hope. In late September, the Houthis announced they were suspending attacks on Saudi territory. Shortly afterward, the Saudis announced a limited cease-fire in some parts of Houthi-controlled Yemen, including Sana’a. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he was open to “all initiatives for a political solution in Yemen.” Houthi leaders echoed the sentiment.The Saudis then turned to the crisis in the south, and sponsored a peace deal between Hadi and the southern separatists. This allowed the UAE to pull some troops out of Aden.The Emiratis also declared that the Houthis were “a part of Yemeni society and they will have a role in its future” — the most conciliatory language from Abu Dhabi in a long time. And the Saudis said they had “an open channel” to the rebels.Alert readers will have noticed that one key voice is missing: Iran’s. The Islamic Republic has been somewhat distracted in recent weeks by mass protests in Lebanon and Iraq over the role of Iranian proxies — Hezbollah and Shia militias — in national affairs. Iran also finds itself sidelined from the conversation in Syria, where Russia and Turkey seem to be calling the shots.Whether the softening of the Houthi stance meets full approval from Tehran is hard to know. Compared with its proxies elsewhere in the Middle East, Iran’s relationship with the Yemeni rebels is relatively new; it is also more opportunistic and transactional than ideological. Unlike Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, the Houthi leadership doesn’t pay open obeisance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Nor does Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian military commander who manages the proxies, travel around Yemen as he does in Iraq.The real test of Houthi agency, independent from Iran, lies in whether the rebels can make a long-term deal with the Saudis — even if that doesn’t fit into Tehran’s plans. Equally, reaching that deal will be a test of Riyadh’s ability to pry a proxy away from the Iranian grip, using diplomacy where kinetic means have failed.There’s little the U.S., or any other nation, can do to help beyond encouraging the Saudis to stick to the jaw-jaw instead of the war-war. But the international community can, and should leap at the opportunity to get more humanitarian assistance to the Yemenis. Rescuing optimism from its Yemeni grave will take time, but this is as good a time as any to start digging.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • As Trump and Erdogan Meet, Russia’s Putin Looms in Background

    As Trump and Erdogan Meet, Russia’s Putin Looms in Background

    (Bloomberg) -- After a phone call and a testy letter, Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both got what they wanted in northern Syria last month. When they meet at the White House on Wednesday, the next critical issue up for discussion might be harder to crack.Erdogan has relied on his rapport with Trump to ward off another round of punishing American sanctions since he put Turkey’s NATO obligations to one side and took delivery of a missile-defense system made by the bloc’s top foe, Russia.But time is now running out as Turkey plans to deploy the S-400 batteries as early as December, and make them fully operational by April 2020, while both Trump administration officials and Congress remain publicly determined to punish Ankara over the missile purchase.“If Turkey doesn’t get rid of the S-400, I mean, there will likely be sanctions,” U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “There’s no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases. That’s a message that the president will deliver to him very clearly when he’s here in Washington.”The U.S. has already suspended Turkey from development of the advanced F-35 fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp. over its deal with Russia, and blocked Turkish purchases of the stealthy warplanes.The S-400 was designed to shoot down U.S. and coalition aircraft at greater ranges and altitudes than older systems. U.S. officials are concerned that sensitive F-35 technology designed to evade such a system could be compromised and used to improve the Russian air-defense system if Turkey had both.Why U.S. and Turkey, Allies for Decades, Keep Feuding: QuickTakeTough penalties could destabilize the Turkish economy -- U.S. sanctions imposed in 2018 over the detention of an American pastor helped collapse the lira. And some in Turkey are concerned that with Wednesday’s meeting coinciding with the start of public impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, the president will want to appear tough on Erdogan.As he was criticized for abandoning America’s Kurdish allies by withdrawing -- at Erdogan’s urging -- U.S. forces from northern Syria ahead of October’s Turkish military offensive, Trump described Turkey as a “big trading partner” and reliable NATO member.He praised its government for returning Andrew Brunson, the pastor whose detention roiled ties last year, and appeared to raise new doubts about barring the country from the F-35 production line.As well as constructing key components, Ankara had planned to purchase about 100 F-35s to replace its aging F-16 fleet, with the first two arriving later this year. It also needs to obtain spare parts for all its U.S.-made jets and helicopters. The Turkish military is the second-biggest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the U.S.Speaking Tuesday before flying to Washington, Erdogan said he wants to start a “new era over common security issues” with the U.S.Yet he’s given mixed messages, insisting that the S-400s are already part of Turkey’s arsenal, while suggesting he and Trump might be able to find enough common ground to enable Turkey to add U.S. Patriot batteries to its armory.The U.S. has sought to sell Patriots to Ankara since at least 2013, but the Obama administration rejected Turkish demands that they come with a transfer of technology so that Turkey could develop and build its own weapons.Turkey now sees the balance of power shifting away from Europe and the U.S. and envisions itself as a more independent actor in a changing global order, according to two senior Turkish officials who asked not to be named discussing government strategy. Buying the S-400 amounts to a declaration of independence, as one Turkish cabinet minister put it.President Vladimir Putin is eager to offer Erdogan access to some of Russia’s best military hardware, including Sukhoi fighters, if it helps drive a wedge between NATO and Turkey.But that’s an option which brings far-reaching consequences for Turkey’s economy and its relationship with the U.S. and other allies, as will be made clear to Erdogan this week.\--With assistance from Tony Capaccio.To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at, Mark Williams, Bill FariesFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Everyone Gets Paid in CBS-Viacom Except Shareholders

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Is it just me, or does the $100 million “severance” being paid to Joe Ianniello, the acting chief executive officer of CBS Corp., stink to high heaven? For starters, you can make a pretty compelling Elizabeth Warren-esque argument that handing a $100 million “severance” to someone who is not, in fact, leaving the company is exactly why income inequality has become such a hot-button issue.But let’s be old school about this. Let’s focus on the shareholders and how this is their money that’s being handed to Ianniello. It is also an unpleasant reminder of how the father-daughter combo of Sumner and Shari Redstone seemingly can’t resist throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at executives who have not done much for their stockholders.The Redstones, of course, control CBS through their privately held film exhibition company, National Amusements Inc. They also control Viacom Inc., which Sumner Redstone bought for $3.4 billion in 1987. (Viacom acquired CBS in 1999.) Until 2016, Sumner Redstone, now 96, was the executive chairman of both companies, though he had largely disappeared from public view two years earlier amid allegations that he was in serious decline. Shari Redstone, 65, is the vice chairman of both companies.In 2003, when CBS was still part of Viacom — and Sumner Redstone was still in charge — Les Moonves became its CEO, a position he retained when CBS was spun off in late 2005. Between 2007 and 2018, when Moonves was fired for sexual improprieties, the CBS board, led by the Redstones, paid him just shy of $700 million, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg. That’s an average of $63.6 million a year.I happen to think that $63 million a year is an absurd amount to pay a manager to run a company. But even if you accept that entertainment companies pay their executives insane amounts — Discovery Inc. paid its CEO, David Zaslav $129.4 million last year, for crying out loud — it is reasonable to assume that such an outsized paycheck would be justified by outsized performance.Not so. During the Moonves era at CBS, the S&P 500 Index returned an average of 9% a year. CBS returned 8.7% a year. In other words, the Redstones and the CBS board paid hundreds of millions of dollars of its shareholders’ money to a man who could barely keep pace with an index fund. (By comparison, the Walt Disney Co. returned 14.6%, and 21st Century Fox returned 10.5%.)The situation at Viacom is even worse. Remember Philippe Dauman, the former CEO whom Sumner Redstone once called “the wisest man I know”? He ran Viacom for a decade, from 2006 to 2016. According to Equilar, a company that compiles executive compensation figures, his compensation during those 10 years was nearly $500 million — while the stock gained a paltry 2.7% a year on average. You may recall that Dauman wound up in a nasty court fight with the Redstones in 2016, trying to keep his job by contending that Sumner Redstone was no longer mentally competent to make key business decisions. After winning that battle, the Redstones still handed Dauman a parting gift as they pushed him out the door: a $75 million severance package.Which brings us back to Ianniello. Although he has been acting CEO only since Moonves departed late last year, Ianniello has also been the recipient of the Redstones’ largesse: Between 2016 and 2018, as the company’s chief operating officer, his compensation averaged $27 million a year, according to Bloomberg. The stock? It dropped from the low 70s to the mid-40s during those three years. This is what’s known as “pay for pulse.”So why did Shari Redstone feel the need to hand Ianniello an additional $100 million? The reasons are twofold. First, Redstone is recombining Viacom and CBS. She doesn’t want Ianniello to leave — at least not right away — but she also isn’t going to make him the top dog. Second, for legal reasons, she can’t ramrod this deal through by herself, even though she is the controlling shareholder. She needs the CBS board and senior management to support the bid. “You need Joe to get the merger done,” Robin Ferracone, the CEO of executive compensation consulting firm Farient Advisors, told Bloomberg. “So you need to make him indifferent to whether he’s going to lose his job or not.”Yes, $100 million is certainly likely to buy a whole lot of indifference. Then again, $10 million probably could have achieved the same result. And in any case, if Shari Redstone needs $100 million to, er, persuade one of her executives to support her merger plan, maybe that suggests the merger’s success is not exactly a slam dunk.I have a hard time seeing how combining two underperforming media companies with a hodgepodge of assets will create a worthy competitor to powerhouses such as Disney, which rolled out its Disney+ streaming service on Tuesday morning, and AT&T, which next year will bundle its media assets into another streaming entrant, HBO Max. But Shari Redstone wants to combine Viacom and CBS, and with the help of that $100 million, that’s what’s going to happen. When the companies are merged, which is expected to take place next month, the CEO of the combined entity will be Bob Bakish, who is Viacom’s CEO.Since he took over Viacom, Bakish’s compensation has been surprisingly normal, at least by modern CEO standards. According to company filings, he received about $20 million a year in total pay in 2017 and 2018.But fear not. Once the deal is done, Bakish’s pay is set to jump to more than $30 million. I predict that he’ll be in Moonves/Dauman territory in no time. After all, overpaying executives is the Redstone way.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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