Pompeo postpones meeting with Ukrainian president
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is delaying a trip to Ukraine to meet with its president, the State Department announced Wednesday.
Pompeo’s trip to that country and other former Soviet republics is being postponed so he can “continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
Pompeo had been scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his foreign and defense ministers in Kyiv on Friday, where he had planned to reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"Secretary Pompeo’s trip will be rescheduled in the near future and he looks forward to the visit at that time," Ortagus said.
The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, was told to leave his post by Jan. 1, a week before his term in the post was set to expire. A congressional aide told NBC News last month that the timing of Taylor's departure was not coincidental. President Donald Trump criticized the diplomat as a "Never Trumper" after he testified in the House impeachment inquiry.
“Pompeo is not going to want to be in a photo with Taylor,” the aide said.
It's not the first time the administration has put off a planned meeting with Zelenskiy, whose country is warring with Russian-backed separatists. Trump was slated to meet with him earlier this year in Poland, but backed out of the trip, citing the impending arrival of Hurricane Dorian.
They later met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, as Trump released a call summary of their July 25 phone conversation in which he asked Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden and his son.
Klobuchar, Booker call for witnesses in impeachment trial
They're both Democratic senators running for president, and both want to hear witnesses when they're jurors at President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial.
"We're simply asking for four witnesses," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at a town hall in Keene, New Hampshire on Tuesday.
The Minnesota senator said she'd just spoken to some of her colleagues about the impending trial on the phone.
"We are dismayed," Klobuchar said. "I just got the news that there still has not been any agreement on witnesses."
Klobuchar noted that Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency before he could be impeached, had allowed his top people to testify before Congress.
"And that's what we're asking for, which is people that have unique knowledge that the president claims he should be exonerated, then he should let them speak," Klobuchar said. Among the witnesses she said she wants to hear from is Trump's "acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who is the one that ordered that the aid be withheld from Ukraine."
Sen. Cory Booker, attending a New Year's Eve house party in Johnston, Iowa, issued a similar call.
"Let them testify under oath of what they saw and what they heard. That's going to shed light," Booker said.
The New Jersey senator also praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to hold back the articles of impeachment from the Senate as she tries to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., into agreeing to have witnesses testify, saying she'd done a "phenomenal job."
"I actually think she's doing the right thing trying to do everything she can, you know, in her power to make sure there is going to be a trial" that's fair, he said.
Trump offered a different take on Pelosi, D-Calif., before a New Year's Eve celebration at his Florida resort.
"Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself. She’s a highly overrated person. I know her well; she’s highly overrated," he said.
Giuliani says he'd testify at Trump's Senate trial, adds, 'I'd love to try the case'
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he'd be willing to testify at his client's Senate trial, but he would "love" to represent Trump in the proceedings.
"I would testify, I would do demonstrations, I'd give lectures, I'd give summations, or I'd do what I do best, I'd try the case. I'd love to try the case," Giuliani told reporters as he made his way into a New Year's Eve celebration at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Tuesday night.
Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, suggested that he'd lead the president's defense with a prosecution.
"I don't know if anybody would have the courage to give me the case, but if you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case, which I kind of invented anyway," he said, referring to his pioneering use of racketeering laws to take down New York mob leadership in the 1980s.
Read the full story.
Trump: 'I look forward to' the Senate trial
President Donald Trump said late Tuesday that he's looking forward to the upcoming Senate impeachment trial and defended his dealings with Ukraine as aimed at fighting corruption and motivated partly by his desire for major European countries to step up their foreign aid.
"The impeachment thing is a hoax. It’s a big, fat hoax," Trump said when asked during a New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago whether he was spoiling for a fight in the Senate trial, expected to begin in January.
"I look forward to it," the president added after noting that the House vote to impeach him was almost entirely along party lines. "I mean, we’ll see. We have absolutely — we did nothing wrong. All you have to do is read the transcripts. If you read the transcripts — or you could also do something else. You could go see or speak to the president of Ukraine, and the president of Ukraine said, loudly and boldly — and I appreciate his statement — he said it many times: There was no pressure."
Trump emphasized that he thinks European countries should contribute a more equitable share of foreign aid and that he raised the issue on the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the center of the impeachment proceedings.
"I do say two things: We have to check corruption, and we also have to find out why is it that the United States is always giving foreign countries money," Trump said. "And Germany and France and all of Europe — they’re not doing much. In fact, they’re not doing anything, relative to this. Why is it always the United States? I’ve been asking you those questions and making those statements for a long time to everybody standing here. Nobody ever mentions that. That was part of it. In fact, that’s in the transcript also. I talk about — a very good woman, to be honest with you — Chancellor Merkel. But I said, 'Where is Chancellor Merkel? Where is President Macron of France? Why aren’t they putting up money? Why is it always the United States?' Nobody ever covers that, but that’s a big factor.
"So I think that’s going to go very quick. I think it’s going to go very easy," Trump said, referring to Republican support in Congress.
President Donald Trump's 10 biggest false claims in 2019 — and one that finally became true
President Donald Trump advanced a dizzying number of wrong or misleading claims in 2019, but none so central to his legacy — and the news cycle — as the torrent of falsehoods about the dealings with Ukraine that led to his impeachment.
Here are 10 baseless, misleading or confounding claims Trump made this year, and the facts — plus one oft-repeated claim that finally, in late October, became true.