November 29, 2019

DOJ Report Will Describe ‘Spygate’ Professor Stefan Halper’s Contacts With Trump Campaign Advisers: Report

The Justice Department report that will be released in December regarding FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign will include information about Stefan Halper, the former Cambridge professor who established contact with multiple Trump campaign aides in 2016 while serving as an FBI informant, people who reviewed a draft of the report told The New York Times.

The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the FBI did not attempt to plant informants or undercover agents inside the Trump campaign, according to The NYT.

But the bureau did rely on at least one informant, Halper, to obtain information from two Trump campaign advisers, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, about any possible ties they had to Russia.

An undercover government agent who worked with Halper during meetings he had with Papadopoulos worked for the FBI, The NYT reported. Halper introduced the agent, Azra Turk, to Papadopoulos in September 2016.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported March 25, 2018, that Halper first met Page on July 10, 2016, at a political event held at Cambridge. Halper reached out to George Papadopoulos on Sept. 2, 2016, with an offer to fly the Trump aide to London to discuss writing an academic paper.

Papadopoulos accepted the offer, and flew to London on Halper’s dime. While there, Papadopoulos met with Halper and Turk.

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November 27, 2019

Fusion GPS Founders Still Think Dossier Allegations About Michael Cohen Are ‘Credible’ And ‘Unresolved’

The founders of Fusion GPS said Tuesday they still consider the Steele dossier’s explosive allegations about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be “unresolved” and “credible,” even though special counsel Robert Mueller’s report all but debunked them.

“Did Michael Cohen go to Prague? Where do we stand on that question?” ABC News producer Matthew Mosk asked Fusion co-founders Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson during an interview on Tuesday.

Mosk was referring to former British spy Christopher Steele’s claim that Cohen met with Kremlin operatives in Prague in August 2016 to discuss paying off Russian computer hackers. Cohen has vehemently denied ever visiting Prague, or of conspiring with Russians to hack and release Democrats’ emails. The special counsel’s report cited Cohen’s denials, and also found that there was no evidence that any Trump associates conspired with Russians in 2016.

Though the Cohen-Prague theory is widely considered to be debunked, Fritsch and Simpson say they consider it “unresolved.”

“I mean, it’s unresolved. If you look at the Mueller report, Mueller report reports what Michael Cohen told him,” Fritsch said. Asked if they are sticking by the Cohen-Prague allegation, Fritsch said that “we’re sticking by the credibility of Chris’s reporting” — a reference to Steele. “We believe it’s credible. Whether it’s true or not is another matter,” said Fritsch.

Simpson and Fritsch also dodged questions about the dossier’s inaccuracies during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday.

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November 26, 2019

Schiff Plans To Send Impeachment Report To House Judiciary After Thanksgiving

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Monday that he expects to send a report laying out evidence to support impeaching President Donald Trump to the House Judiciary Committee soon after Thanksgiving.

In a letter to his congressional colleagues, Schiff said that evidence gathered from depositions with 17 current and former U.S. officials has revealed “a months-long effort in which President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest.”
The House voted largely along partisan lines on Oct. 31 to open an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached over his actions towards Ukraine. Democrats have accused the president of improperly pressuring Ukraine’s president to open politically charged investigations in order to secure a White House meeting, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.
As the evidence conclusively shows, President Trump conditioned official acts — a White House meeting desperately desired by the new Ukrainian president and critical U.S. military assistance — on Ukraine announcing sham, politically motivated investigations that would help President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign,” Schiff wrote in his letter.
A whistleblower complaint released on Sept. 26 kicked off the impeachment push. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
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November 25, 2019

DOJ Watchdog Addresses At Least One Of The Conspiracy Theories About Joseph Mifsud In Upcoming Report

  • The Justice Department inspector general concluded that Joseph Mifsud was not working for the FBI when he made contact with former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in 2016. 
  • It is unclear whether the report addresses the other conspiracy theory about Mifsud: that he was a Russian agent. 
  • Mifsud told Papadopoulos during a meeting in London on April 26, 2016 that he had learned that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails. 
  • The special counsel’s team ultimately found no evidence that Papadopoulos or anyone else on the Trump team conspired with Russia to obtain Clinton’s emails. 

The Justice Department’s inspector general has reportedly concluded that a Maltese professor who established contact in 2016 with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was not an FBI informant, as some Trump allies have theorized.

The reports about the inspector general’s findings do not say whether Inspector General Michael Horowitz found evidence to support a competing conspiracy theory about Joseph Mifsud: that he was a Russian agent. The special counsel’s team suggested in court filings and in its final report that Mifsud was suspected of working on behalf of Russians when he made contact with Papadopoulos in 2016.

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November 22, 2019

Fusion GPS Founders Say A ‘Handful’ Of Dossier Allegations Are ‘Doubtful’

The founders of Fusion GPS acknowledged in a book to be released Nov. 26 that a “handful” of allegations in the infamous Steele dossier “now appear to be doubtful,” according to a review of the book.

Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch are still largely defensive of the dossier, according to The Atlantic, which obtained an advance copy of “Crime In Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump.”

“After three years of investigations, a fair assessment of the memos would conclude that many of the allegations in the dossier have been borne out,” they wrote in the book, adding that some of dossier author Christopher Steele’s allegations have “proved remarkably prescient.”

But other details of the dossier “remain stubbornly unconfirmed, while a handful now appear to be doubtful, though not yet disproven,” they wrote.

The admission is significant because Simpson and Fritsch have not previously acknowledged flaws in the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats. 

The special counsel’s report undermined several of the dossier’s bombshell claims about Trump and members of his campaign. Steele said the Trump campaign took part in a “well-developed conspiracy of coordination” with the Kremlin. The special counsel’s report said there was no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy.

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November 21, 2019

Report: FBI Wants To Speak With Trump Whistleblower

The FBI reached out last month to the CIA analyst who filed a whistleblower complaint against President Trump, according to reports.

Yahoo! News reports that an FBI agent from the Washington, D.C., field office contacted the whistleblower’s lawyers, seeking an interview.

An interview has not been scheduled, and it is unclear whether the whistleblower will agree to a meeting, according to Yahoo!

CNN also reported that the FBI reached out to the whistleblower, who filed a complaint against Trump on Aug. 12 that raised concerns about a July 25 phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The whistleblower was not on the call, but relayed concerns from White House officials who were.

House Democrats and the whistleblower’s lawyers have tried to limit speculation about the identity of the whistleblower.

On Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff shut down Republicans when they asked Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, about an intelligence officer he said he spoke with on July 26, a day after Trump’s call with Zelensky.

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November 20, 2019

Memo Given To Fusion GPS Described Ukrainian Lawmaker As Potential ‘Conduit’ For Publicizing Information

  • A memo given to Fusion GPS in May 2016 includes information from Serhiy Leshchenko, a former journalist and Ukrainian lawmaker.
  • The memo could shed light on Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr’s testimony where she said Leshchenko was a source for Fusion, which is best known for its work on the Steele dossier. 
  • The author of the memo suggested Leshchenko could be used as a “conduit” to publicize information about Paul Manafort. 
  • Leshchenko, who has denied being a witting source for Fusion GPS, is best known for his role in publicizing the “black ledger,” which purported to show illicit payments from Ukrainians to Paul Manafort.

A May 2016 memo provided to Fusion GPS could help settle an enduring mystery about how a Ukrainian lawmaker served as a source for the opposition research firm, which investigated Donald Trump and his campaign on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

The memo, which the Daily Caller News Foundation obtained earlier in 2019, cited information from multiple Ukrainian sources regarding Paul Manafort, the now-former Trump campaign chairman. One of the sources named in the document is Serhiy Leshchenko, a former Ukrainian journalist who served in 2016 as a member of the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.

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November 19, 2019

Senate Sets Date For FISA Abuse Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Dec. 11 to examine the findings from a Justice Department inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court during the Trump investigation, the committee said Monday.

The report of the investigation is expected to be released soon after Thanksgiving. Attorney General William Barr said on Nov. 13 that the release of the report is “imminent.”

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, has recently invited FBI and Justice Department witnesses interviewed as part of the investigation to review the report for accuracy. That is considered a final step before the report will be released.

Republicans have been eagerly awaiting the release of the report, which will look at whether the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in applications for warrants to spy on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. Investigators relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier to argue that there was probable cause to believe that Page was working as a Russian agent while he was on the Trump team.

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November 18, 2019

Star Witness At Roger Stone Trial Says He Feels ‘Horrible’ About Guilty Verdict

The government’s star witness in the trial against Roger Stone said he feels “horrible” that the longtime Trump confidant was convicted in federal court Friday.

“I hate to see the guy go to jail because of me,” Randy Credico told Yahoo! News’s Michael Isikoff moments after a jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Stone on seven separate felony charges.

Credico, a left-wing radio host, testified earlier in November about his interactions with Stone during the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as in 2017 and 2018 regarding the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election.

Stone was convicted on five counts of making false statements to the House panel in September 2017. He was also convicted on an obstruction charge, and a witness tampering related to Credico.

Prosecutors said StonThey pointed to text messages that Stone sent Credico pressuring him to plead the Fifth in order to avoid testifying to Congress. Prosecutors also cited a text message that Stone sent Credico on April 9, 2018, in which he said he would “take that dog away from you” — a reference to Credico’s 12-year-old therapy dog, Bianca.

Credico testified that he did not perceive Stone’s remarks about his dog as a threat, and that he knew Stone as a “dog lover.”

“I know he wouldn’t have ever touched that dog. It was hyperbole by him,” Credico testified. He also said Stone was one many associates, including his attorneys, who urged him to plead the Fifth.e threatened Credico to prevent him from cooperating with House investigators as well as the special counsel’s team.

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November 15, 2019

MSNBC Hires Former Mueller ‘Pit Bull’ Andrew Weissmann As Legal Analyst

MSNBC added to its roster of former government officials-turned-analysts Wednesday with the hiring of Andrew Weissmann, one of the lead investigators on the special counsel’s probe.

Weissmann, who earned the nickname of Robert Mueller’s “pit bull,” made his debut as a legal analyst on the liberal network to discuss testimony given in the Trump impeachment hearings.

Weissmann, who earned the nickname of Robert Mueller’s “pit bull,” made his debut as a legal analyst on the liberal network to discuss testimony given in the Trump impeachment hearings.

Weissmann joins a stable of MSNBC analysts that includes former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI assistant director for Frank Figliuzzi, and Malcolm Nance, a former intelligence officer who has pushed the now-debunked conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.

On the special counsel’s team, Weissmann handled the case against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted on financial crimes related to money he received while consulting for the Ukrainian government years before he joined the Trump team.

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November 14, 2019

Joseph Mifsud May Have Finally Resurfaced

  • A newspaper in Italy published an audio statement provided by someone claiming to be Joseph Mifsud.
  • In the seven-minute recording, the man said he did not knowingly have contact with any intelligence services in 2016. 
  • Mifsud has not been heard from publicly in more than two years, since he was first linked to Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. 
  • The special counsel’s team suggested Mifsud was a possible Russian agent. Trump allies have asserted the Malta-born professor might have worked with Western intelligence agencies to set up the campaign. 

An Italian newspaper released an audio statement provided by someone claiming to be Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor whose contacts in 2016 with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos were a central but unresolved aspect of the special counsel’s Russia probe.

In the seven-minute recording, published by the outlet Corriere della Sera, the person cryptically said it was “extremely important that somebody somewhere decides to let me breathe again.”

The man said he had limited public contact in the two years since the special counsel revealed links between Mifsud and Papadopoulos as part of the Trump aide’s plea deal with the government.

He also denied knowingly having contact with anyone in “secret service, intelligence service, or anybody of this sort.” The statement, if it is from Mifsud, would be a rebuttal of two competing theories about what the academic was up to during the 2016 campaign.

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November 13, 2019

Schiff Rejects GOP Request For Whistleblower To Testify In Impeachment Proceedings

Rep. Adam Schiff rejected House Republicans’ request Saturday to call the

Trump whistleblower to testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, calling the testimony “redundant and unnecessary.”

GOP California Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, listed the whistleblower, who is reported to be a CIA analyst, along with seven other potential witnesses that Republicans want to have testify publicly in the impeachment proceedings.

Along with the whistleblower, Nunes listed Hunter Biden and his business partner, Devon Archer, along with former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr and former Democratic National Committee operative Alexandra Chalupa.

Schiff shot down calling the whistleblower to testify, asserting that many of the allegations in his Aug. 12 complaint “not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint.”

“The whistleblower’s testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary. In light of the President’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk,” Schiff wrote in a letter to Nunes.

That is a reversal for the California Democrat, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and is leading the impeachment investigation for Democrats.

Before the House Intelligence Committee released the whistleblower’s complaint on Sept. 26, Schiff said Congress would want to hear from the whistleblower. But he changed his tune on the matter after it was revealed that the whistleblower had contact with one of Schiff’s aides prior to filing the complaint. Schiff failed to disclose in numerous interviews leading up to the release of the complaint that his aide had contact with the whistleblower.

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November 12, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard Demands Hillary Clinton Retract Russia Remarks

Lawyers for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are accusing Hillary Clinton of defamation over her remarks last month that the Hawaii Democrat is Russia’s preferred Democratic presidential candidate.
Gabbard’s attorneys are calling on Clinton to retract her statement publicly, including on Twitter, according to a letter released Monday by Gabbard’s campaign.
Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately,” Gabbard’s lawyers said in the letter, which was first reported by The Hill.
During a podcast interview in October, Clinton called Gabbard a “favorite of the Russians.”
“And I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” Clinton said.
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November 11, 2019

How The Star Witness In Roger Stone’s Trial Proved ‘Difficult’ For Prosecutors

  • Randy Credico, the government’s star witness in the trial of Roger Stone, undercut several key planks in the case against the longtime Trump confidant.
  • Credico testified that he knew Stone to be a “dog lover,” which counters prosecutors’ allegations that Stone threatened to steal Credico’s dog, Bianca.
  • A court transcript from Friday’s proceedings also shows that the judge overseeing the case privately referred to Credico as a “difficult” witness.
  • Journalists who were in the courtroom reported that Credico’s testimony countered some of the government’s allegations against Stone. 

When the federal judge presiding over the trial against Roger Stone referred to the government’s star witness, Randy Credico, as “difficult” on Friday, none of the members of the jury or others in the Washington, D.C., court room overheard her pointed remarks.

District Judge Amy Berman Jackson made the observation during a side bar discussion with lead government attorney Aaron Zelinsky and Stone lawyer Robert Bushchel, according to a transcript of the court proceedings obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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November 8, 2019

Feinstein Reunites With Ex-Staffer Who Worked With Fusion GPS On Trump-Russia Investigation

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein reunited Tuesday with a former Senate staffer who has worked closely with Fusion GPS and dossier author Christopher Steele. 
  • Feinstein and two other senators attended the premier of “The Report,” which focuses on Daniel Jones, a former Senate investigator who wrote a report about CIA torture.
  • Jones is perhaps less well-known for his work with Fusion and Steele in what he described to one associate as a “shadow media operation” to push the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. 
  • Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson was also spotted at the event. 

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein reunited with a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer who worked with Fusion GPS and dossier author Christopher Steele to continue investigating the now-debunked Trump-Russia conspiracy theory after President Donald Trump took office.

Feinstein and two of her Senate colleagues, Angus King and Sheldon Whitehouse, appeared at the premier Tuesday for “The Report,” a movie about former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel Jones’s work on a report about CIA torture during the George W. Bush administration.

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November 7, 2019

Republicans Dropped Name Of Alleged Whistleblower During Diplomat’s Deposition

The lead Republican attorney in the Trump impeachment inquiry inserted the name of the alleged CIA whistleblower during a line of questioning with Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine and a key impeachment witness for Democrats.

According to a transcript of Taylor’s deposition, which House Democrats released Wednesday, Republican counsel Steve Castor asked the diplomat whether he knew the individual who is rumored to be the whistleblower.

Taylor said he did not recognize the name mentioned to him, and does not recall having contact with the person.

The Daily Beast, which first spotted the question to Taylor, previously reported that Republicans had mentioned the name of the rumored whistleblower during depositions with impeachment witnesses.

whistleblower, whom The New York Times identified as a CIA analyst. The whistleblower filed a complaint with the Intelligence Community Inspector General on Aug. 12 regarding President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

The name of the alleged whistleblower has floated around for weeks on social media, and some news outlets, including Real Clear Investigations, Breitbart and the Washington Examiner, have published a name. The Daily Caller News Foundation has not independently verified the identity of the whistleblower and is not following suit.

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November 6, 2019

Roger Stone Judge Refuses To Strike Anti-Trumper From Jury Pool

The judge overseeing the trial of Roger Stone rejected a request from the Trump confidant’s defense lawyers Tuesday to remove a potential juror whose husband works on the Justice Department unit involved in the Russia investigation and who admitted to having negative views of President Donald Trump, according to reports.

At the beginning of jury selection, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, said that she would not remove potential jurors solely on the basis that they work for the federal government or because of their views of Trump.

That position was tested at the very start of jury selection at Stone’s trial, which recessed early after the longtime political operative fell ill.

The potential juror served as a press secretary in the Office of Management and Budget during the Obama administration, according to Politico and Reuters. She also admitted to having a negative view of Trump

The potential juror’s husband also currently works in the Justice Department’s national security division, which was involved in the investigation of the Trump campaign and other Trump associates, including Stone

A grand jury indicted Stone, 67, on Jan. 24 on five counts of making false statements to Congress, one count of witness intimidation and one count of obstructing an official proceeding.

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November 5, 2019

DOJ Requests Information That Could Identify Trump Official Behind ‘Anonymous’ Op-Ed

The Justice Department is asking a publishing company for information that could identify a senior Trump administration official who blasted President Donald Trump in an anonymous New York Times op-ed last year, according to a letter released on Monday.

Joseph Hunt, the assistant attorney general for the civil division, sent the letter, published by the Times, to Hachette Book Group, and Javelin, the author’s literary agency. Hunt asks in the letter whether the administration official signed a non-disclosure agreement before joining the government, and whether they had access to classified information.

The official promises to provide “an unprecedented behind-the-scenes portrait of the Trump presidency” in the book, “A Warning,” which is scheduled for release on Nov. 19. The book is a continuation of the author’s op-ed, entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

Hunt does not ask for the name of the author, but does seek information about the author’s employing agency, and their dates of employment.

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November 4, 2019

Whistleblower Is Willing To Submit Written Answers To House Republicans, Lawyer Says

The intelligence community whistleblower who filed a complaint against President Donald Trump is willing to answer questions from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee in writing, his lawyer said Sunday.

The attorney, Mark Zaid, said he reached out Saturday to GOP California Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, to offer to provide written answers under oath to Republicans.

The proposal would allow Republicans to circumvent the intelligence panel’s Democratic majority, led by California Rep. Adam Schiff, who has unilateral power to call witnesses as part of the impeachment inquiry of Trump. (RELATED: House Democrats Vote To Open Impeachment Inquiry)

Zaid said that the whistleblower, who is reported to be a CIA analyst, will not respond to questions about his identity.

Trump and a handful of House Republicans have called for the whistleblower to be identified. Democrats and the whistleblower’s lawyers argue that the identity of the analyst is irrelevant given testimony given by other witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.

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November 1, 2019

White House Official Testifies He Was ‘Not Concerned That Anything Illegal Was Discussed’ On Ukraine Call

  • Timothy Morrison, the White House’s senior director for European affairs, told Congress on Thursday that he did not believe ‘anything illegal’ transpired in a phone call between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • Morrison is the second White House official who listened in on the July 25 phone call to testify as part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
  • According to Morrison’s prepared opening statement, he was concerned that a transcript of the phone call would be leaked, and damage U.S.-Ukraine relations.

The White House’s top official for European affairs told Congress on Thursday that he was not concerned that “anything illegal” was discussed during the July 25 phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart that is at the center of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” the official, Timothy Morrison, said in an opening statement reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Morrison, who served as senior director for European affairs at White House and National Security Council, was one of several officials who listened in on the phone call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine.

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