Is Nikki Haley auditioning to replace Pence on Trump’s 2020 ticket? By Dylan Stableford Senior Writer•Haley memoir alleges disloyalty among Trump’s team Less than three months ago, Nikki Haley, President Trump’s first U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, shut down speculation that she was seeking to replace Vice President Mike Pence on the Republican 2020 ticket.“Enough of the false rumors,” Haley tweeted on Aug. 21. “Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years. He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support.”But the speculation has resumed during Haley’s promotional tour for her new book, which some observers believe is doubling as an audition for the role of Trump’s running mate.The cover of Haley’s new book. (Image: Amazon.com)Haley’s book, “With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit and Grace,” which was released Tuesday, is respectful toward Trump and dismissive of some of his Cabinet members, including former White House chief of staff John Kelly and ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who she says tried to recruit her to “save the country” by undermining Trump.“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley writes. “We are doing the best we can do to save the country, they said. We need you to work with us and help us do it.”Both Kelly and Tillerson denied they were trying to undermine Trump. (Kelly told the Washington Post that if providing the president “with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice … is ‘working against Trump,’ then guilty as charged.”)Haley says she refused to go along with the idea.“Go tell the president what your differences are, and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing,” Haley told CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell. “But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing.”In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, the former South Carolina governor said she told Trump about Kelly and Tillerson’s backdoor approach.In the same interview, she defended Trump’s requests for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for military aid — the basis of the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry.While she refused to say whether she agreed with Trump that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” Haley echoed a White House talking point that there was no pressure put on Zelensky.“I think it’s never a good practice for us to ask a foreign country to investigate an American,” she said. “Having said that, there’s no insistence on that call. There are no demands on that call. It is a conversation between two presidents that’s casual in nature.”Haley was also asked if she believes Trump — who the Washington Post estimates has made more than 13,000 false or misleading claims as president — is truthful.“Yes, in every instance that I dealt with him, he was truthful,” she said.
For those speculating about Pence’s future, Haley’s overtly pro-Trump PR tour has not gone unnoticed. The president’s change of his official residence from New York to Florida last month also removes the constitutional obstacle to running with Haley, who now lives in New York. The 12th Amendment creates a procedural difficulty for candidates for president and vice president who are residents of the same state.
“It’s about currying favor,” Steve Schmidt, a former GOP strategist, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “She wants to be vice president. She wants to be vice president on the Republican ticket in 2020. And I think there’s an overwhelming chance that Trump will dump Pence to put Nikki Haley on the ticket.
“[Trump] has an enormous problem with women, suburban women particularly,” Schmidt continued. “He’s entirely transactional. Loyalty is a one-way street. So she’s clearly angling for the job. And when you look at the politics of it, she would serve his immediate political interests in a way that Pence can’t. So I would suggest that he’s going to be gone and she’ll be in. And I think this book is about that.”“Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough agreed.“This was an audition,” he said. “She’s putting herself in position to be Mike Pence’s replacement if the president decides he needs to replace Mike Pence. … That’s exactly what this book is all about.”_Download the Yahoo News app to customize your experience.
Trump says he hasn’t watched ‘one minute’ of impeachment hearings
WASHINGTON — President Trump defiantly declared that he did not watch the impeachment hearings that took place on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when he appeared shortly after the proceedings at a press conference alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump also denied he participated in a phone call that was described in the hearings. The president addressed the hearings when a reporter asked him for a “general reaction” to them. “You’re talking about the witch hunt, is that what you mean? Is that what you’re talking about?” Trump asked, adding, “I hear it’s a joke. I haven’t watched. I haven’t watched for one minute because I’ve been with the president, which is much more important as far as I’m concerned.”Trump and Erdogan spent more than four hours in meetings on Monday. The pair came out for the press conference roughly 10 minutes after the public impeachment hearings concluded. Trump went on to describe the hearings as a “sham” that “shouldn’t be allowed.” He also criticized the unnamed whistleblower whose complaint to the intelligence community inspector general sparked the impeachment probe.“It was a situation that was caused by people that shouldn’t have allowed it to happen. I want to find out who is the whistleblower because the whistleblower gave a lot of very incorrect information, including my call with the president of Ukraine, which was a perfect call and highly appropriate,” said Trump.Trump said he wants to “find out why” the inspector general presented the complaint to Congress. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Trump has considered firing the intelligence community inspector general.“All he had to do was check the call itself and he would have seen it,” Trump said of the inspector general.
The impeachment hearings are focused on concerns Trump pressed the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently mounting a White House bid. Those allegations were first raised in the whistleblower complaint, which suggested Trump pushed for an investigation in a phone call with Zelensky on July 25 and subsequently withheld military assistance to Ukraine.
Trump released a transcript of the call on Sept. 25, the day after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally launched an impeachment inquiry based on the whistleblower complaint. Multiple officials who testified in the closed-door phase of the inquiry corroborated portions of the whistleblower’s complaint. More than $400 million in assistance to Ukraine was held up in recent months, and it was only released following the complaint.In the White House transcript of the call, which was not a verbatim copy, Trump brings up allegations of corruption regarding a company linked to the former vice president’s son. The president also urged Zelensky to work with his allies on a potential probe into the matter. As he spoke with Erdogan, Trump also promised to release a transcript this week detailing an earlier call he had with Zelensky. In that call, which took place April 12, Trump congratulated the Ukrainian leader on his election.The earlier call is not related to any of the issues raised in the impeachment probe. Trump also noted many of the officials who have testified as part of the investigation had “thirdhand information” and were not participants on the July 25 call. He also noted the transcript “was analyzed by great lawyers” and cited a pair of conservative pundits who are attorneys as an example. “It was analyzed by everybody. They said this statement that I made, the whole call that I made with the president of Ukraine was a perfect one,” said Trump.
Trump also expressed frustration that the impeachment hearings were being discussed during Erdogan’s visit. “We have to waste this gentleman’s time by even thinking about it, talking about it,” Trump said. “I’d much rather focus on peace in the Middle East.”Trump and Erdogan discussed several issues in the region during the press conference, including the recent Turkish invasion of northern Syria. They also addressed Erdogan’s treatment of Kurdish people in that area, many of whom have been killed by Turkish forces. Erdogan, who repeatedly referred to Trump as his “dear friend,” referred to Kurdish forces in Syria as “terrorist groups.” Traditionally, Trump’s press conferences with foreign heads of state involve each leader picking two reporters from their country to ask questions. Trump chose two Americans from conservative outlets: a correspondent from One America News Network and a reporter from Fox News.Trump was asked by Fox News about testimony today from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who told lawmakers an aide overheard Trump on the phone asking Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, for an update on a potential Ukrainian investigation of Biden. The president vehemently denied making those remarks. “I know nothing about that,” Trump said. “First time I’ve heard it.” _Download the Yahoo News app to customize your experience.
The Man Trump Trusts for News on Ukraine
WASHINGTON — In weeks of closed-door testimony, U.S. officials who worked in Ukraine kept circling back to the work of one journalist, John Solomon, whose articles they said appeared to have considerable currency with President Donald Trump’s inner circle.
They had never known Solomon to be an authority on Ukrainian politics before, and certainly not someone with particular insights into the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was a frequent target of his. So when Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and the president himself started talking about his stories, those officials began closely following what he wrote.
Asked how she first learned of Giuliani’s interest in Ukraine, Fiona Hill, Trump’s former adviser on Russia and Europe, replied, in part, “John Solomon.”
Solomon has been a surprisingly central figure in the impeachment proceedings so far. But the glare has not been so kind.
One witness testified to Congress that an article of his was full of “non-truths and non sequiturs.” Another witness said that he could not recall a single thing that was correct in one of Solomon’s stories, then added sarcastically, “His grammar might have been right.”
So who exactly is John Solomon? A Washington-based reporter and Fox News personality who had until recently been working at the politics outlet The Hill, Solomon, 52, is not well known outside conservative media. But, according to interviews and testimony, his writing and commentary helped trigger the chain of events that are now the subject of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Though he worked for years at The Associated Press and briefly at The Washington Post, he moved on from mainstream outlets and now sits at the center of a network of conservative journalists, radio hosts, cable news pundits and activists whose work reaches millions of Americans every day, and shapes the way a large swath of the country sees this pivotal moment.
Understanding their work is key to explaining how Trump’s approval ratings remain so durable with his base — and why, as some polls suggest, far more direct and damaging evidence would have to emerge from the impeachment hearings that begin their public phase on Wednesday for that support to crack.
According to transcripts released last week, Solomon and his pieces for The Hill are a focus for congressional investigators as they look into Trump’s efforts to push Ukrainian officials to investigate his rivals. One particular area of interest for Democrats, the transcripts show, is Solomon’s role in advancing claims by Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, that former Vice President Joe Biden and his family deserved to be investigated for their own dealings in Ukraine.
In an interview, Giuliani said he turned to Solomon earlier this year with a cache of information he believed contained damaging details about Biden, his son Hunter Biden and the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“I really turned my stuff over to John Solomon,” Giuliani said. “I had no other choice,” he added, asserting that Obama-era officials still “infected” the Justice Department and would not have diligently investigated the information he had compiled.
“So I said here’s the way to do it — I’m going to give it to the watchdogs of integrity, the fourth estate,” he said.
‘The Woodward and Bernsteins of our time’
Solomon’s work has been endorsed by some of the most influential figures on the right like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the president, who has highlighted Solomon’s articles on Twitter.
Mark Levin, the radio and Fox host, recently said that Solomon and Sara Carter, a journalist with whom he frequently appears on television, were “like the Woodward and Bernsteins of our time.”
Media scholars describe the environment that has elevated Solomon’s stories as an information ecosystem entirely sealed off from other news coverage.
Nicole Hemmer, a historian at Columbia University who studies the conservative media, said people often mistakenly refer to the Fox News-talk radio world as an “echo chamber” of opinion when in fact it is more like “an interconnected set of authorities.”
“Sean Hannity talks about John Solomon,” she said, “and then that gets picked up on Rush and Levin.” The effect, she added, is that his reporting carries weight with conservative audiences. “That gives it an authority when they’re hearing it from multiple sources every day.”
When Solomon appears on television and the radio, Hannity and other conservative hosts often identify him as an investigative reporter and cite his decades of experience at organizations like the AP. But his critics see this as a sleight of hand to give his writing a veneer of nonpartisan objectivity.
“Part of the issue is that for years he was identified with the mainstream media,” said James Manley, a former aide to Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader who tangled with Solomon in the 2000s over stories insinuating Reid had benefited inappropriately from his office. The Columbia Journalism Review later singled out Solomon’s reporting, saying it was “much ado about very little.”
An examination of Solomon’s reporting methods and interviews with people who have worked with him during his decadeslong career in Washington show that his techniques blur the boundaries meant to keep journalist-source relationships at an arm’s length. And for some of his biggest stories on Ukraine, he has relied on a prosecutor with a history of making inconsistent statements who is now under criminal investigation.
At one point while he was employed as a columnist for The Hill and publishing regular pieces favorable to the president, Solomon discussed with colleagues a proposal to create a transparency office in the Trump White House. Some colleagues believed he wanted to run this office, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
(Unlike Fox, The Hill put a disclaimer over Solomon’s writing indicating that it was opinion starting in May 2018 after complaints from colleagues about what they saw as one-sidedness in his work, The Post reported at the time.)
Solomon denied that he has ever sought work in any administration and said the transparency office proposal had “nothing to do with seeking a job.” He added, “It had to do with fostering an idea for more transparency.” As for the attacks on his work from the impeachment witnesses, he said, “The NSC and State officials are entitled to their opinions of my reporting.”
A close look at one piece by Solomon shows how far one of his assertions, later called into doubt, can reverberate at the highest levels of the government.
In late March, Solomon and his team published pieces in The Hill making sensational claims of misconduct at the State Department: The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a career foreign service officer who assumed her post during the Obama administration, had privately bad-mouthed Trump and, separately, had previously provided to Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general at the time, a list of individuals that Lutsenko should not prosecute. In conservative circles, where suspicion of anti-Trump officials working inside the government runs high, the allegation fit with the narrative that institutions like the State Department are rife with bad actors.
But there was less to the do-not-prosecute list than it appeared. The State Department dismissed it as “an outright fabrication.” Lutsenko changed his story and acknowledged that what he is quoted describing in Solomon’s report — “a list of people whom we should not prosecute” given to him by the ambassador — did not actually exist.
In an interview with The New York Times last month, Lutsenko blamed the confusion on the interpreter who handled his interview with The Hill. But he insisted that the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, had in fact asked him not to target certain politicians and activists who worked with the embassy on its anti-corruption efforts.
But among Trump’s allies and media boosters, the storyline was set: A corrupt ambassador who did not like the president was misusing her authority to protect her friends. In the whistleblower complaint that set off the impeachment inquiry, those articles and others by Solomon are cited as among the key events leading up to Trump’s demand that the Ukranians do him “a favor” and investigate the Bidens.
Solomon said in an email that Lutsenko was adamant he had not changed his story when the two spoke for a follow-up interview. The back-and-forth over the existence of a formal list, he said, is a “classic he-said, she-said dispute,” which he believes his coverage accurately reflected. “The idea I should have some regret for accurately quoting a major news figure in Ukraine is preposterous,” he said.
The “don’t prosecute” story gained considerable traction in conservative media. It drew the attention of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who in March tweeted that Yovanovitch was a “joker” who should not be in the job. In May, the Trump administration recalled her from her position.
In his testimony, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, seemed alarmed at how quickly Solomon’s story was amplified by high-profile figures like Giuliani and Trump’s son. He testified that the entire thing “smelled really rotten.”
‘Reporting truth’ with unusual methods
Solomon grew up in Connecticut where his father was a police officer and later served as chief of police for the town of Easton. Before working for conservative outlets, he held senior reporting jobs at a number of mainstream organizations, including AP, where he worked for almost 20 years, and The Post, where he pursued investigative projects that often focused on federal law enforcement.
Solomon won an award in 2002 for coordinating the AP’s investigations into the law enforcement failures that preceded the Sept. 11 attacks. He joined The Post in 2007 but stayed only a short period before leaving for the Washington Times, telling his bosses that he could not pass up the large salary the conservative paper was offering.
His work at The Hill since 2017 has generated the most notice and controversy of his career. His reporting was of considerable value to the outlet’s publisher, James Finkelstein, who has been friends with Trump for decades and saw Solomon as a high-profile hire whose frequent Fox News appearances could help generate buzz and traffic for the website.
While Solomon was at The Hill, his relationships with sources were sometimes closer than reporters typically get with the people they cover. In March, according to documents uncovered as part of the impeachment inquiry, he shared a draft of one of his stories before publication with a noteworthy group: people who had helped gather the information that Giuliani had provided to Solomon.
They included Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, two lawyers who have been working with Giuliani to undermine the investigations into Trump, and Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman who helped connect Giuliani to Lutsenko. Solomon said “I do go over stories in advance” with sources for accuracy, not to tip them off to the content.
Solomon left The Hill in September under circumstances that neither he nor the paper have fully described. He has not said what his new venture will be — or how it is being funded — other than to describe it to former colleagues as a media startup. For the time being, he is publishing his work on his personal website. His slogan is “Reporting Truth.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
© 2019 The New York Times Company
Greta Thunberg Will Set Sail Once Again En Route To UN’s Biggest Climate Conference
Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg will soon set sail once again after a whirlwind tour of North America that saw her lead some of the planet’s biggest climate protests and hold world leaders’ feet to the fire over their inaction to address our warming world.
Thunberg said on social media that she would join the crew of a 48-foot catamaran en route to Spain on Wednesday, hoping to make it to the country in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP25), which is set to take place in Madrid in early December.
So happy to say I’ll hopefully make it to COP25 in Madrid.
I’ve been offered a ride from Virginia on the 48ft catamaran La Vagabonde. Australians @Sailing_LaVaga ,Elayna Carausu & @_NikkiHenderson from England will take me across the Atlantic.
We sail for Europe tomorrow morning!
Earlier this month, Thunberg said she was looking for another ride back to Europe after traveling “half around the world, the wrong way.” The Australian couple who have been sailing the world on the boat dubbed La Vagabonde, offered up the vessel after responding to Thunberg’s message on Twitter.
“As #COP25 has officially been moved from Santiago to Madrid I’ll need some help,” the 16-year-old wrote. “Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November… If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”
Thunberg has been in North America since late August after traveling to the U.S. aboard an emissions-free racing yacht to join an international day of climate action that became one of the biggest environmental protests in history. The teen doesn’t travel via plane, citing the high carbon emissions.
“I decided to sail to highlight the fact that you can’t live sustainably in today’s society,” Thunberg told The New York Times on Tuesday, just before her journey was set to begin. “You have to go to the extreme.”
In the intervening months, she has become a beacon of climate activism. Thunberg led protests in New York inspired by her school strike for the climate in her native Sweden last year. During an address before the United Nations, she excoriated world leaders, saying they had “stolen” her dreams with their “empty words.”
“I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Thunberg said at a climate action summit. “Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you!”
She later met with former President Barack Obama (who called her one of the “planet’s greatest advocates”), the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and had a brief run-in with President Donald Trump, who has spent years rolling back America’s environmental laws.
Thunberg had initially intended to stay on this side of the Atlantic for much longer, eventually making her way to Chile, where this year’s U.N. climate summit was meant to be held. But the event was moved to Spain after protests broke out in Santiago, leaving Thunberg in a tough spot with limited time to arrange other eco-friendly travel.
The Times noted that the journey to Spain should take about three weeks, ideally getting her to Madrid when the COP kicks off on Dec. 2.