Jan 16, 2020

Trump claims he didn't know about Giuliani letter to Zelensky

President Trump denied knowing about a May 2019 letter from his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani requesting a private meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, despite Giuliani claiming that he was reaching out with Trump's "knowledge and consent."

Why it matters: The letter, released by the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, says that Giuliani was acting at the express direction of the president when carrying out a campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

  • "I don't know anything about the letter, but certainly Rudy is one of the great crimefighters in the history of our country," Trump said. "I didn't know about the specific letter, but if he wrote a letter it wouldn't have been a big deal."

The big picture: Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who has been indicted on campaign finance charges, alleged in an explosive MSNBC interview Wednesday that Trump was fully aware of and authorized Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine.

  • Trump told reporters that he does not know Parnas, suggesting he was simply one of the thousands of people with whom he's taken pictures at fundraisers.
  • Parnas claimed on MSNBC that Trump is lying about not knowing him and that while he wouldn't consider them "friends," he and the president interacted on numerous occasions at roundtables and fundraising events.

What to watch: Parnas said Wednesday that not all of the records he intends to hand over to the House Intelligence Committee have been released yet. He has signaled that he wants to testify in the impeachment trial, but it's not clear whether the Senate will vote to call him as a witness — especially given that he is under indictment and may not be a reliable narrator.

Read the letter:

Go deeper ... Lev Parnas: "Trump knew exactly what was going on" in Ukraine

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In photos: We've seen images like the protests in Minneapolis before

Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP/MPI/Getty Images

The photos of protests around the country following the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police are hauntingly familiar. We’ve seen them many times before, going back decades.

Why it matters: "What is also unmistakable in the bitter protests in Minneapolis and around the country is the sense that the state is either complicit or incapable of effecting substantive change," Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University writes in the New York Times. The images that follow make all too clear how little has changed since the modern Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,968,693— Total deaths: 365,796 — Total recoveries — 2,520,587Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,749,846 — Total deaths: 102,900 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Economy: The future of mobility in the post-pandemic worldGeorge Floyd's killing and economic calamity are both part of America's unfinished business.
  4. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.
  5. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March.
  6. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  7. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.

The aftermath of George Floyd's death: Everything you need to know

A mural outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, near where George Floyd was killed in an encouner with police. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is in jail under $500,000 bail on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter after a video of him kneeling on George Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes and Floyd's death catapulted the country's major cities into a state of protest.

The big picture: Floyd's fatal run-in with police is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.