Oct 27, 2019

Pence denies Ukraine quid pro quo despite testimony from top officials

Vice President Mike Pence said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that there was no quid pro quo involved in President Trump's desire for Ukraine to open political investigations, despite testimonies from top State Department officials that suggest otherwise.

The exchange:

MARGARET BRENNAN: "We have had at least four U.S. officials under oath say that they had knowledge of a deal being offered that made military aid and a meeting with the president contingent on opening an investigation that relates to the company Joe Biden's son served on the board of. Are they all lying?"
PENCE: "I can only tell you what I know. And what I know is that the transcript of the president's call with President Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo. He did nothing wrong. In all of my interactions with President Zelensky, we focused entirely on President Zelensky's agenda to bring about reforms to end corruption in Ukraine and to bring together the European community to provide greater support for Ukraine. President Zelensky said there was no pressure."

Why it matters: Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified to House investigators this month that nearly $400 million of congressionally approved military aid was contingent on Ukraine opening investigations into allegations of interference in the 2016 election and the natural gas company Burisma, where Hunter Biden sat on the board. U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland testified that there was a quid pro quo involving the investigations and a White House visit for Zelensky.

  • Pence argued that the summary of Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president does not show any quid pro quo, but the testimonies collected in the House impeachment investigation thus far go beyond the phone call.
  • Several officials have alleged there was a months-long pressure campaign led by Rudy Giuliani — in effect, a shadow foreign policy run outside of traditional administration channels.

Go deeper: Ukraine felt early Trump pressure and knew of military aid freeze

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George Floyd updates

Thousands of protesters march over the Brooklyn Bridge on June 4 in New York City. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All four former Minneapolis police officers have been charged for George Floyd’s death and are in custody, including Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

The latest: Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and other federal officials on behalf of Black Lives Matter and other peaceful protesters who were forcibly removed with rubber bullets and chemical irritants before Trump's photo-op at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

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The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.