The Impeachment Story Is Simple. Republicans Are Trying To Confuse You.

WASHINGTON ― The story behind why Democrats are moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is simple.

The president repeatedly pressured a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 U.S. election to help him win. It’s all there in the White House summary of Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. It’s corroborated by the subsequent whistleblower complaint. And Trump keeps telling other countries to do it, too, on live television.

The Republican strategy to respond to this is to create total confusion, namely by focusing on the arcane legal process of whistleblower law. Not only are their claims false, they are irrelevant to the facts of Trump’s abuse of power.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is out in front trying to lose people in the arcana of process and distract from what Trump did. He seized on a Wednesday New York Times report that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) got advance word of the whistleblower’s report and falsely claimed that Schiff orchestrated the complaint.

“Democrats have rigged this process from the start,” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, linking to the Times story.

What the story actually said was that the whistleblower initially approached an Intelligence Committee staffer with a vague accusation. The staffer told the whistleblower to file a formal complaint through proper channels, per protocol, and then shared some of what the whistleblower said with Schiff, who never even knew the whistleblower’s identity.

The whistleblower did exactly what they were supposed to do. The intelligence community whistleblower process lists the congressional intelligence committees as a venue that a whistleblower may take their complaint or approach about how to proceed with a complaint.

Republicans already know that whistleblowers are encouraged to go straight to committees with a complaint. The GOP’s own page on the House Oversight and Reform website prominently features a link that literally says “blow the whistle” and offers a form for filing a complaint.

“In my experience, it’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing,” Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert at the Government Accountability Project, told HuffPost.

“The process by which intelligence community employees and contractors can report wrongdoing is extremely complex and convoluted,” he added. “You need someone that can help usher you along that process, whether that is a congressional intelligence committee staff or an experienced attorney.”

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is among the GOP leaders spreading false information about the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. It’s all part of a strategy to take attention off of what Trump actually did.

Aides to Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member, said on Wednesday that the whistleblower followed proper procedure by asking the House Intelligence Committee for guidance on how to file a complaint. That’s on top of the intelligence community inspector general and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, both publicly stating that the whistleblower had done everything by the book.

Another glaring hole in McCarthy’s claim is that the White House, Trump’s personal attorney and Trump himself have all separately corroborated the whistleblower’s claims. Even before releasing the transcript, the president admitted that he brought up Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has repeatedly said he was right to do so.

The president said his conversation with Zelensky was about corruption, too. “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption [sic] already in the Ukraine,” Trump said on Sept. 22.

Additionally, the call summary revealed Trump tying talks about U.S. military aid to Ukraine to his request for investigations into his potential 2020 rival Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. At the time of the call, Trump had suspended the provision of all aid to Ukraine. Zelensky was not aware of the U.S. suspension of aid until weeks after the call.

It’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing. Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert

Republicans are trying to paper over these facts with confusion, conspiracies and flat-out lies about how Democrats are proceeding in their investigation.

“This is looking more & more like a deep state scheme,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tweeted Wednesday, invoking an insane conspiracy theory as an explanation for how Schiff got wind of a whistleblower complaint before it was filed.

“Schiff told the media on September 17: ‘We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.’ He lied. The question is why?” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, falsely claiming Schiff had spoken with the whistleblower when he had not.

GOP senators, meanwhile, have been spreading misinformation to try to smear the credibility of the whistleblower. They have argued that in order to be considered a “real” whistleblower, you have to have firsthand information of a situation, which is false.

“By definition, he’s not a whistleblower because he was reporting hearsay,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) incorrectly told reporters last week. “I think that we are giving too much credence, or at least credit, to someone who does not meet the definition of a whistleblower.”

“It’s not a whistleblower because he wasn’t in the room. He wasn’t on the phone call,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said last week, also falsely.

They were publicly corrected on Tuesday by one of their own colleagues, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime advocate of whistleblower safeguards.

“The distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones,” said Grassley. “It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy.”

He added, “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

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‘We’re not fooling around’: Pelosi and Schiff stand firm as Trump fumes

Were not fooling around: Democratic pair say inquiry will not be slowed and condemn president over blatant effort to intimidate witnesses

Democrats

Donald Trump has been accused of incitement to violence and threatened with obstruction charges in the fast-escalating battle over impeachment, as the president maintained his aggressive counter-attack against Democratic leaders and the whistleblower who precipitated the inquiry.

Were not fooling around here, Adam Schiff, the chair of the powerful House intelligence committee, said in Washington on Wednesday.

Elijah Cummings, the chair of the House oversight committee, revealed that it would issue a subpoena to the White House if it failed to hand over documents on contacts with Ukraine by Friday.

I do not take this step lightly, Cummings said, saying the White House had stonewalled on demands for cooperation for several weeks.

The Democrats investigative steps have infuriated Trump, who was live-tweeting their press conference on Capitol Hill. He denounced the impeachment process, in block capitals, as BULLSHIT and later repeated an extreme claim that Schiff should be investigated for treason.

The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the start of the impeachment inquiry eight days ago, focusing on a whistleblower complaint that emerged the week before about a July phone call between Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The complaint and a memo of the call issued by the White House have since been released, indicating that Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, a leading rival for the White House in the 2020 election, while the US was withholding vital aid from Ukraine.

Schiff insisted on Wednesday that the inquiry would not be slowed down by presidential stonewalling or threatening language against potential witnesses.

Were very busy, Schiff said. We are proceeding deliberately but at the same time we feel a real sense of urgency here.

Democratic-run House committees heard from the state departments inspector general, an independent watchdog, on Wednesday, followed by the former special envoy on Ukraine on Thursday and the former ambassador to Kyiv next week. But they are battling with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, about other depositions by state department officials and the handover of relevant documents.

Schiff and Pelosi condemned Trump for rhetoric directed at an intelligence agency whistleblower who revealed details of the phone call at the core of the impeachment proceedings.

Trump has referred to the whistleblower and the officials who provided information included in the complaint as spies and implied they should face the death penalty. Senior officials and some leading Republicans have confirmed the whistleblower used recommended legal channels but Trump repeated the spy allegation on Wednesday.

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Donald Trump at the White House with the Finnish PM on Wednesday. Pelosi and Schiffs press conference infuriated the president. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Schiff said the president was engaging in a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses.

Its an incitement of violence, he said.

The president probably doesnt realize how dangerous his statement is, Pelosi added.

Trump, who was clearly watching the press conference live, unleashed an expletive-laced Twitter tirade.

The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyones time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, he said.

The president continued to tweet every few minutes, lashing out at Schiff, who he called a lowlife, until it was time to greet the visiting Finnish president Sauli Niinist. The fury of Trumps commentary reflected how impeachment has come to consume his focus and attention.

At a press conference at the end of his meeting with Niinist, Trump, who repeated one of his favourite self-descriptions as a very stable genius, repeatedly refused to answer a question about what he had been asking Zelenskiy to do in relation to the Bidens, and lost his temper at the Reuters journalist asking it.

Are you talking to me? Trump shouted. Did you hear me? he demanded, telling the journalist to ask the Finnish president a question instead.

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‘Are you talking to me?’: furious Trump takes aim at journalist over Ukraine question video

In his own struggle with Congress, Pompeo was forced to admit on Wednesday he took part in the July phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

Pompeo made the admission while on a trip to Rome, after his participation in the call had been reported in the US press. When asked in a television interview 10 days ago about the Trump conversation with Zelenskiy, Pompeo had looked quizzical and implied he was hearing about it for the first time.

On Wednesday, Pompeo said: As for was I on the phone call? I was on the phone call. But he presented the conversation as part of normal state department business, trying to bolster a new Ukrainian government against the threat of Russia.

He referred dismissively to the growing scandal engulfing the Trump administration as all this noise.

It has become clear Pompeo has only limited power to stop committees from gathering evidence for an impeachment inquiry.

One of the five witnesses deposed, Kurt Volker, former special envoy for Ukraine who resigned last week, confirmed he would speak to the committees in closed session on Thursday. The Daily Beast reported on Wednesday that Volker resigned as Pompeo was attempting to push him out of his post, in the hope of reducing the pressure on the state department.

Schiff said Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Kyiv, would appear next week. Press reports said she was due to give a deposition on 11 October.

The state departments inspector general, Steve Linick, went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to brief Congress on documents related to relations with Ukraine. After the briefing, the Maryland Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin described the material as a collection of unfounded allegations involving the Bidens and Yovanovitch.

Its essentially a packet of propaganda and disinformation spreading conspiracy theories, Raskin said.

The presidents personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has played a central role in the Ukraine scandal, later told CNN that he had sent at least some of the material to Pompeos office earlier this year and that it included information he had been given by previous Ukrainian prosecutors.

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Hillary Clinton Blasts Pompeo, Giuliani for Aiding Trumps Alleged Crimes

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton made a rare joint late-night appearance on The Late Show Monday evening to promote their new Book of Gutsy Women, which takes a historical look at women who helped change the world for the better. But of course, host Stephen Colbert couldnt help but get the former secretary of states reaction to the latest developments in the Trump whistleblower scandal.

Moments before the Clintons joined Colbert on stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, The Wall Street Journal reported that current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was listening in on President Trumps phone call with the Ukrainian leader that has now prompted a formal impeachment inquirydespite the fact that he previously pleaded ignorance about the whistleblower complaint.

How many times when you were secretary of state did you have to say to Obama, You cant extort foreign countries to get dirt on your political enemies? Colbert asked, prompting a belly laugh from Clinton.

Yeah, that never happened, she replied, shaking her head. She added that the secretary of states job in that moment is to make sure he knows, number one, what the president is going to say on those calls, implying that the Trump administration may not be as prepared for talks with foreign leaders as the previous White House was.

But because youve got a president who doesnt listen to anybody and doesnt follow instructions whatsoever, Clinton said, Im not sure they havent just given up on trying to give him any sort of preparation.

From there, Clinton pushed back on the Republican defenders of the president who are claiming the charges against him are hearsay. As she put it, It was an admission from the White House! I mean, the transcript of the phone call was put out by the White House. And the whistleblower has a depth of understanding that needs to be taken seriously about what happened.

I think if the secretary of state was on the call as is now being reported, he should have been one of the very first people to say, Wait a minute, weve got to clean this up. You cant let that stand, she added. But we dont know what he did.

As for Rudy Giuliani, who has been reportedly running what amounts to a shadow State Department on behalf of Trump, Clinton said, That would be a big problem if it had happened under Obama.

Presidents often useas do secretaries of statethey might use an envoy or a special adviser to deliver a message, she said. But again, it is supposed to be carefully thought through. And from what weve seen on television, carefully thinking through is not one of Rudys strong points.

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Rudy Giuliani Laughs At Subpoena On Fox News: They Seem To Forget That Im A Lawyer

Just hours after being issued a subpoena from top congressional Democrats, Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News to defend his involvement with Ukraine, actions that have become central to an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump

Trump’s personal attorney appeared on Sean Hannity’s program as part of his latest effort to distance himself from the political whirlwind surrounding Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

During the “Hannity” segment, Giuliani appeared to question the motives behind the subpoenas while defending his communications with officials in Ukraine about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a top Trump rival in the 2020 presidential campaign. He also reminded viewers that he was a professional lawyer as he pushed unfounded conspiracy theories targeting a spate of his boss’s political rivals.

“These people are such intellectual heavyweights, I don’t know if I could handle Schiff,” Giuliani said Monday, appearing to joke about Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee who recently sent him a subpoena.

Giuliani went on to push unfounded claims about the Biden family, Trump’s 2016 political rival Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

“Wake up, Democrats. You are covering up corruption, and by the time this is over, you’re going to be the party of corruption,” Giuliani said. Earlier in the show, he noted that lawmakers “seem to forget that I’m a lawyer. If I were defending a terrorist, they’d be going crazy that I was called before a committee.”

The chairs of multiple House committees subpoenaed Giuliani and three of his associates Monday as part of the inquiry, demanding he produce communications and other documents related to his work for the president. The subpoena pertains to material from Jan. 20, 2017, the day before Trump’s inauguration, to the present.

“Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president,” said the letter, signed by Schiff and two other Democratic congressmen: Eliot Engel (N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Elijah Cummings (Md.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Giuliani must comply with the subpoena by Oct. 15, although the former New York City mayor has already pushed back on its merits, claiming on Twitter that it raised “significant issues concerning legitimacy.”

House Democrats are investigating Giuliani’s role in the unfolding scandal over Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as part of their impeachment inquiry.

During the July conversation, Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for five years. A reconstruction of the call released last week showed Trump asking Zelensky for a “favor” shorty after Zelensky brought up millions in military aid the U.S. had appropriated for Ukraine.

Neither Biden has been accused of any wrongdoing, despite Giuliani’s claims.

Giuliani appears to be one of the central figures related to that favor, which Democrats have called an unprecedented quid pro quo for political dirt. The attorney is mentioned multiple times in a formal whistleblower complaint about the call, and he has admitted in television interviews that he met with Ukrainian operatives. But Giuliani has recently said he did so at the behest of the State Department. Trump has also denied any impropriety and moved to discredit the unnamed whistleblower.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been issued a subpoena by House Democrats.

Giuliani’s whirlwind media appearances have prompted frustration from Democrats in recent days, including from the Biden campaign. The former vice president’s staff recently asked news executives to stop booking Giuliani on their shows, saying he was using the appearance to spread “false, debunked conspiracy theories.”

“Giuliani is not enlightening your viewers in any way. He’s not offering a unique or informed perspective,” the Biden camp wrote in the letter last week. “He’s certainly not introducing new facts, since his relationship with the truth is casual at best.”

House Democrats have, however, pointed to the lawyer’s own statements on CNN to back up their request for the subpoena.

“You stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence ― in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications ― indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme,” they wrote.

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Whistleblower says White House tried to cover up Trump’s abuse of power

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Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up, according to a stunning whistleblower complaint released Thursday.

The complaint has been at the center of a controversy that has spurred Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. The White House on Wednesday also released a rough transcript of the call that shows Trump repeatedly pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Caving to Democratic demands, the Trump administration let Congress release a declassified version of the complaint, one day after releasing a rough transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call. The developments triggered a flood of Democratic lawmakers to publicly support impeachment.
    Trump has maintained that he didn’t do anything wrong, while simultaneously promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the Bidens, Ukraine, and Russian meddling in 2016.
    There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

    White House lawyers asked to remove transcript

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    The complaint notes White House lawyers were “already in discussion” about “how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”
    White House lawyers also directed officials to remove the transcript of the call from a computer system that stores them for Cabinet-level officials and instead put the transcript in a system for especially sensitive information, the whistleblower alleges.
    This move concerned some officials, who shared their worries internally that this was an “abuse of the system.”
    The whistleblower said they heard from other White House officials that this was “not the first time” that the Trump administration used this storage system to hold politically sensitive documents. The codeword-level system is meant to hold files of national security importance.
    There weren’t additional details in the complaint, and some of the details came from secondhand sources. Republicans on Capitol Hill have used that point to question the veracity of the complaint, though the intelligence community inspector general already deemed it credible.

    Rudy Giuliani’s role worried State Dept officials

    US officials were concerned, the whistleblower said, with Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his contacts with Ukrainian officials. The whistleblower alleges the US officials believed Giuliani was a conduit for messages between the President and officials in Kyiv and that he was at the helm of a problematic “circumvention of national security decisionmaking processes.”
    For most of the past two years, Giuliani has played a peculiar role as Trump’s personal attorney, a pro-Trump surrogate on television, and as an informal diplomat of sorts. This year, he has used his position to promote conspiracy theories about Ukraine, Biden, and the 2016 election.
    Whistleblower says White House tried to cover up Trump's abuse of power - CNNPolitics
    The whistleblower said they heard that two State Department officials intervened with Giuliani in an effort to “contain the damage” he was doing to national security. The complaint also said US diplomats worked with the new Ukrainian leaders to help them navigate the strange situation, where they juggled outreach from Giuliani with US diplomacy coming through official channels.
    State Department officials met with Ukrainian political figures and provided advice “about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of” Zelensky, the whistleblower wrote.
    Little is known about the identity of the whistleblower, which is even still hidden from some of the most senior US intelligence officials. The Justice Department has said there are some indications that the whistleblower opposes Trump’s reelection, but the complaint was indeed credible. They used lawful channels to file the complaint and get the message to Congress.

    Trump potentially exposed to blackmail

    In a letter accompanying the whistleblower’s complaint, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson wrote that the alleged conduct by Trump “would also potentially expose” the President “to serious national security and counterintelligence risks with respect to foreign intelligence services aware of such alleged conduct.”
    The implication is that US adversaries are always spying on the US and trying to intercept sensitive phone calls by US officials. If a hostile government possesses a recording or is aware of the details of Trump’s phone call, they could use it to blackmail Trump. The gravest risk is from Russia, which is essentially at war with Ukraine and has strong intelligence capabilities.
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    Atkinson also wrote in his letter that that the whistleblower’s complaint amounts to a “serious or flagrant problem [or] abuse” under US laws regarding the inspector general’s office.
    The comments were made in an August 26 letter sent to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Atkinson explains the reasoning behind his determination that the information amounted to an “urgent concern,” which triggered its eventual transmission to Congress.

    Whistleblower confused by Trump’s CrowdStrike interest

    The whistleblower expresses confusion about Trump’s references to CrowdStrike during his calls with Zelensky. The Democratic National Committee hired CrowdStrike in 2016 to investigate hacks to its computers, which were later blamed on the Russian government.
    In the call, Trump mentioned the US cybersecurity firm and said, “the server, they say Ukraine has it.” Trump also encouraged Zelensky to “find out what happened” with the server.
    “I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine,” the whistleblower wrote in a footnote. The whistleblower added that Trump had previously connected the DNC server to Ukraine in television interviews.
    Trump’s interest in CrowdStrike and the DNC server, more than three years after the hacks, is part of a larger effort to undermine the notion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help him win. He has repeatedly rejected the assessment from CrowdStrike, which was later confirmed by US intelligence agencies, that Russia was behind the DNC hacks and leaks.
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    The complaint demonstrates in stark terms how people who work inside the US government, with access to highly sensitive materials, have struggled to figure out what was going on in an unconventional White House administration with a president who goes around official channels.
      The complaint contains a blend of information that was observed firsthand, details that were provided secondhand from other officials, and information that comes from public sources, like Giuliani’s appearances on television and news articles about his activities surrounding Ukraine.
      This story is breaking and will be updated.

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      Trump’s right-wing media diet is a factor in the impeachment inquiry

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      New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

      The whistleblower’s complaint says “I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine.”
      Well, he must not be an avid consumer of the MAGA media universe.
        As The Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen explained here, Trump was “referencing a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian trolls and far-right pundits that imagines the Democratic National Committee fabricating all the evidence in Russia’s 2016 breach of the DNC network.” In other words, it’s a Russia-friendly theory that contradicts all of the U.S. intel community assessments about Russia’s meddling in the election.
        It went “from the depths of 4chan, promoted by Russian media, to the president’s mouth,” BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick wrote.
        This is how the president’s alt-right media diet actively hurts his presidency and the public.

        John Solomon’s contributions

        WaPo’s Philip Bump zeroed in on this point on Thursday. “There’s little indication at this point that Trump’s media diet is anything other than a buffet of conservative television and Internet articles. That diet might just have contributed to the most significant threat Trump’s presidency has seen,” Bump wrote.
        The allegations in the whistleblower complaint “include a significant number of news articles published by a popular conservative opinion columnist for the Hill” — that’s John Solomon, a Fox regular — “articles that the whistleblower seems to think contributed to the fervency of the Trump-Giuliani effort.”
        Bump said it’s clear that “Solomon’s reporting and the stories he helped advance were simultaneously politically useful to Trump and potentially influenced his thinking.” And he pointed out that former chief of staff John Kelly specifically tried to keep these sorts of “unvetted” stories off of Trump’s desk. It doesn’t seem like anyone is trying to do that now…
        → For more on Solomon, WaPo’s Paul Farhi is out with a new story… It says Solomon “has had a long, and occasionally decorated, career as an editor and investigative reporter in Washington, though his more recent work has been trailed by claims that it is biased and lacks rigor…”

        What Trump’s favorite TV shows are telling him

        Right now they’re telling him that he’s a hero. That the Democrats just hate him no matter what. That, as Dan Bongino said, “this was a professional hit on Donald Trump. I have no doubt.” And that, as Mark Meadows told Lou Dobbs, “the president didn’t do anything wrong.” Trump tweeted out three different clips from Dobbs’ show on Thursday… and two clips from Sean Hannity’s show…
        → Gabriel Sherman reported on Thursday that Fox’s Shep Smith was told to stop critiquing Tucker Carlson. A Fox spokesperson denied that management had any direct conversation with Smith. At issue: The question of whether Trump is in legal jeopardy.
        → Oliver Darcy writes: A chyron on Laura Ingraham’s show said ‘Legal Experts: Both Call And Complaint Show No Criminality or Basis for Impeachment.’ Fox’s senior legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano has said Trump admitted to a crime. Shep Smith has cited other experts who agree. It’s nuts how it has become totally normal for Fox’s biggest stars to totally undermine and contradict the reporting and analysis from their own colleagues…

        NYT’s banner headline on Friday

        The front page says “COMPLAINT ASSERTS A WHITE HOUSE COVER-UP.”
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        …And that’s arguably the biggest headline from Thursday: The whistleblower’s allegation that senior White House officials tried to “lock down” a record of Trump’s call, and that other politically sensitive info may have been treated the same way…

        NYT criticized for identifying whistleblower’s workplace

        Who is the whistleblower? Where does he work? What were his motives? Reporters have been chasing these Q’s for more than a week. On Thursday the NYT came out with a story describing the whistleblower as a CIA officer, though not naming him. The paper was widely criticized for sharing the details. The man’s lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, said the report was “reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way.” The WSJ later matched the NYT’s reporting.
        Times exec editor Dean Baquet initially defended the reporting this way: “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country — whether the president of the U.S. abused power and whether the W.H. covered it up.”

        Did the W.H. already know where the man worked?

        On Thursday evening, the NYT came out with more: “The White House learned that a C.I.A. officer had lodged allegations against President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine even as the officer’s whistle-blower complaint was moving through a process meant to protect him against reprisals, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.”
        Baquet updated his statement to note, “We also understand that the White House already knew he was a C.I.A. officer.” If that’s the case, it takes some of the heat off the NYT, for sure…

        The LAT’s scoop

        Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times was the first reporter with quotes from Trump’s shocking remarks to a group of diplomatic officials on Thursday. The NYT followed a few minutes later. The LAT was also first with the audio. “When I heard it for the first time today, it just took me aback,” Stokols told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, calling it “casually menacing.”
        → In his remarks, Trump also said “many” reporters are “scum,” a word that he has mostly deployed against MS-13 gang members and other criminals in the past. He also called members of the press “animals” and “some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.”

        Coming up on Friday…

        — Nancy Pelosi will be on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” at 7:30am…
        — Pelosi and House Dems will be holding a presser on 200 days of “Senate GOP Inaction” at 9:30am…
        — BTW, Friday marks 200 days without an on-camera White House press briefing…

        FOR THE RECORD

        — TIME’s cover this week has Trump painting himself into an orange corner…
        — Greg Miller’s analysis: “The whistleblower has by some measures exceeded in weeks what Mueller accomplished in two years: producing a file so concerning and sound that it singlehandedly set in motion the gears of impeachment.” (WaPo)
        — Lester Holt at the end of “Nightly News” on Thursday: “If history is any guide, this will only get uglier. And louder. And yes, further leach at this country’s political divide. Which makes our collective challenge even more important: To listen. To ask. To examine the facts and demand nothing short of the truth. That’s what we endeavor to do here every night. And will continue to do as this story unfolds…” (Mediaite)
        — Tim Naftali, former director of the Nixon library: “The Whistleblower complaint is from a patriot who understands and fears Abuse of Power. If even 50 % of his fears are accurate, we are in a variation of Nixonland again…” (Twitter)
        — Samantha Storey in praise of the whistleblower’s complaint: “It’s well written. It’s clear. The sentences are easy to read. Its point ― that the president of the United States has undermined America’s democracy ― screams off the page…” (HuffPost)

        McConnell’s silence

        “Sen. Mitch McConnell, who often ignores reporters’ questions but sometimes engages, just ignored three of mine,” CNN’s Manu Raju reported Thursday afternoon. “I asked him if he’s concerned the whistleblower alleged Trump sought help from a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 elections. I asked if he’s concerned that the WH allegedly sought to conceal the president’s conversations And I asked if he has any concerns with Trump asking the Ukraine president to talk [to] Rudy Giuliani.” McConnell “walked in silence…”
        → Related, and the headline of the day, from the WSJ: “Everyone In Washington Is Reading the Whistleblower Complaint — Except Senate Republicans.”

          Romney is not alone, but…

          Jonathan Martin is out with a must-read story about Mitt Romney. He says Romney’s public statements of concern “reflect what many in his party believe privately but are almost uniformly unwilling to say: that they are faced with damning revelations about the president that are difficult to explain away, and are unsure of whether there is more damaging material to come.” This calls to mind what Mike Murphy said on MSNBC the other day: “One Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump.”

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          Ukraines Top Independent Corruption Fighters Shocked by Trumps Phone Calland His Ignorance

          KYIV, UkraineOne of this countrys leading independent anti-corruption fighters says she was shocked at the partial transcript of Donald Trumps July 25 phone call to the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

          It was mind-blowing to read Trumps requests to do him a favor and say hed have the U.S. attorney general call Zelensky to push the investigation that Trump would benefit from politically, said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of Ukraines Anti-Corruption Action Center, the major watchdog monitoring officials who abuse their authority and steal from the state.

          Trump spoke like a mafia don, and Zelenskly probably knew what was coming. Trumps lawyer Rudolph Giuliani already had been in touch with Zelenkys people.

          The memo of the conversation released Wednesday by the White House, makes it apparent Zelensky was doing all he could to humor the president of the United States. The former star of a TV comedy show in which he played a common man who became an uncommon president, which he then proceeded to become in real life, Zelensky said hed learned a lot from Trumps political techniques. He tried out a couple of ironic jokes. And paraphrasing Trumps campaign pledge he volunteered, We wanted to drain the swamp here in our country.

          That wasnt enough to get a clear commitment from Trump to supply the kinds of arms Ukraine needs to fight Russian backed insurgents and covert Russian military units. Trumps idea of the swamp in Ukraine was very different from the way Zelensky sees it. Indeed, Trumps only interest was in digging dirt he believed might be found about his future opponent Joe Biden and Bidens son, Hunter, or even about his past opponent Hillary Clintons emails.

          Zelensky said he was ready to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles for Ukraines defense. Trump immediately pivoted: I would like you to do us a favor. Speaking distractedly, as if someone was pushing notes under his nose, Trump said, I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.

          As The Daily Beast reported, Trump is referencing a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian trolls and far-right pundits that imagines the Democratic National Committee fabricating all the evidence in Russias 2016 breach of the DNC network. No doubt Zelensky was confused.

          Daria Kaleniuk, one of Ukraines most respected independent corruption fighters, says she was deeply upset when she saw the partial transcript. She studied financial law in the United States and has looked up to the country as a paradigm of democratic rule. She said she had not thought the situation there was so degraded.

          A spokesperson for Attorney General William Barrs Department of Justice said Wednesday that in fact Barr never followed up. But Trump also plugged for his personal lawyer, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who appears to be acting as a consigliere at the center of the effort to shift attention to Ukraine and the Democrats, and away from Russias well-established efforts to help Trump get elected in 2016. Zelensky said hed welcome Giuliani in Ukraine, and Giuliani has said publicly many times in recent days that his aim was to uncover incriminating information about the Bidens.

          This scandal is harmful for Ukraine, said Kaleniuk. Dont forget, we are at war with Russia, she said, suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be enjoying the current storm of news over Ukraine.

          Among the many cases Kaleniuk has watched over the last five years is that of Burisma, a natural gas company that named then-Vice President Joe Bidens son Hunter Biden, well known as something of a black sheep, to its board in 2014.

          But the transcript made it clear to Kyivs anti-corruption experts that Trump really had very little idea what he was talking about.

          Zelensky tried in general terms to assure Trump the new administration in Kyiv would be serious about fighting corruption. Good, said Trump, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that

          Prosecutors in Ukraine have been infamous for using the states power to investigate crimes, then demanding a payoff from the target, and closing the case.

          Kaleniuk notes that three Ukraine prosecutor generalsVitaly Yerema, Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenkohave dumped the Burisma case, each in his turn, one after another. I dont think Mr. Trump knows the name of the very good prosecutor he was talking about.

          When Kyivs corruption fighters see that the Burisma case and what Trump called Ukraines horrible law enforcement system have become an obsession of the president of the United States, they feel lost, said Kaleniuk: This is like a movie, I would never predict anything like it!

          One of Ukraines recent prosecutor generals, Yuriy Lutsenko, closed the Burisma investigation himself when there was still a chance to define the truth and then gave an interview to the Washington website The Hill complaining it was the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who gave him a do not prosecute list.

          That is the exact opposite of what happened in the case, which Kaleniuk has followed closely.

          She is convinced that Trump and his helpers had been preparing the Biden scandal for a long time. They started plotting it in October last year, possibly even earlier, she said. One of the messages Lutsenko conveyed, Kaleniuk told The Daily Beast, was that President Trumps lawyer Rudolph Giuliani had consulted with Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraines then-Prosecutor General, for months.

          Trump and Giuliani needed him to convey a message that Ukraine had intervened in American elections, she said. Lutsenko and prosecutor Konstantin Kulik have been giving Giuliani information on this case purely with an agenda to save their careers, inventing the story about the Biden investigation.

          In 2016 Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Ukraine fire Prosecutor General Victor Shokin, who Trump might have meant as very good prosecutor, but he was seen by reformers in Kiev as a disaster. A year earlier Kalemniuks watchdog organization had pushed to dismiss Shokin for neglecting multiple corruption cases.

          Here is why I do not say anything about Hunter Biden, Kaleniuk explained. Vice President Biden called for Ukraine to fire Shokin not because of the Burisma investigation, absolutely not, but because Ukraines prosecutor general did not investigate Burisma. U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt insisted [in early 2016] that Shokin should be investigating Burisma. The U.S. government had a clear position: the Burisma probe was killed by Shokin. And the U.S. thought it and other cases should not have been closed.

          Under the circumstances, and hopeful that Zelensky is as serious about reforms as he has said, Kaleniuk said she understood his reaction to Trump: The leader of the most powerful state, our biggest partner, called with a request, so Zelensky tried not to contradict any of Trumps words, agreed with everything.

          Many in Ukraine were upset by revelations of Zelenskys painful answers to Trump, especially when Zelensky said: The next prosecutor will be 100 percent my person, my candidate, who will be approved by parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. Prosecutors are supposed to be independent.

          Journalists at the Hramadske television network were arguing emotionally in the newsroom Wednesday night.

          Andrey Saychuk, one Hramadske correspondent, told The Daily Beast he wondered how the newly appointed prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka must feel about the way Zelensky talked about the question of his independence.

          During the Trump-Zelensky press opportunity at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, Zelensky said he was not pushed by Trump in the July phone call, but the pressure on him was obvious. I am sorry, but I dont want to be involved in the elections in USA, he said.

          We should keep our distance from this highly political Burisma case used in the political massacre in United States, any move on it can be used for political purposes, Kaleniuk said. Let American citizens and institutions judge whether their president was pushing Zelensky or not.

          As for Hunter Biden, his affiliation with Burisma seems at a minimum to have been ill considered. The oligarch behind the company, Mykola Zlochevsky, was the minister of ecology and natural resources from July 2010 until April 2012 under the hugely corrupt pro-Putin President Viktor Yanukovych, overthrown by the Maidan revolution in 2014. (One of his close advisors was Trump campaign chairman and international political operative Paul Manafort, now serving a seven and a half year prison term in the United States.)

          Zlochevsky used his authority to give his own company licenses basically the minister gave himself a permit for producing natural resources, and the licenses are at Burisma Holding, said Kaleniuk.

          When Hunter Biden started working with the company in May of 2014, it had just had its assets frozen in the United Kingdom, where it was investigated for money laundering.

          I realize that it is very strange that Hunter Biden was working for Burisma, says Kaleniuk. I might be the first one to say bad things about Joe Bidens movements in regard to this case, but I dont.

          Why? Because far from trying to protect his son from the broader investigation that might establish Hunter received money gained illegally by Burismas founder, Joe Biden wanted to prove it, that Burisma was crooked. He tried to make Shokin investigate that, Kaleniuk said.

          One thing should be clear for everybody today: Joe Biden wanted to fire the prosecutor who did not want to investigate Burisma, where his son was working. That is very important. Kaleniuk added that everybody wanted Shokin fired.

          In May 2014, when Kaleniuks watchdog group of progressive lawyers discovered Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma Holding, they also found he was in interesting company. Polands former President Aleksander Kwasniewsky was on that board, along with a few retired CIA agents, Kaleniuk said. So many names. But, still, It was strange for us to discover that Bidens son appeared to be working at Burisma, most probably as a faade to defend Zlochevskys reputation.

          At a meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the spring of 2014, Ukrainian corruption fighters told him about their many issues. We did not talk about Zlochevskys corruption specifically, he was just one of the bastards who had robbed our country, said Kaleniuk. It is unclear if the father Biden knew about [the investigation of] Burisma, she said.

          At that time all foreign partners who tried to help Ukraine investigate corruption knew that both Shokin and his predecessor Vitaly Yarema had dumped the Burisma case. The British embassy, the American embassy knew exactly what was going on. I think that Zlochevsky had to pay a lot for closing the case against him, Kaleniuk said.

          But, heres the thing about the vast breadth and depth of corruption in UkrainePresident Zelensky himself is hardly immune. His great patron has been the oligarch who owned the television station where he became a star.

          If somebody asked us about the priority for the investigation today, I would say billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, and not Biden, should be the priority, said Kilaniuk. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations has looked into Kolomoiskys investments in the United States. Formerly exiled in Israel, Kolomoisky now feels perfectly comfortable in Zelenskys Ukraine.

          Kilaniuk insisted that none of Trumps agents, including Rudolph Giuliani really understood how Ukraine functions. I dont think that Giuliani was the one who plotted the scandal, I think he just was just promoting this story; obviously, Donald Trump has no idea how things really work in Ukraine. I believe that Zelensky understands what has happened, I hope the President can distance himself from billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky.

          The risk is always that before the swamp can be drained, Zelensky will drown in it.

          Christopher Dickey also contributed to this story.

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          Giuliani This Morning: Ukraine Transcript Was Read to Me, Maybe President of Ukraine Brought Up Biden First

          President Donald Trumps personal attorney Rudy Giuliani continued on his non-stop television tour Wednesday to stick up for his client-in-chief on the growing Ukraine scandal. After telling Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday night that no, he didnt have his own shadow Ukraine agenda, and in fact that it was the State Department that had asked him to meddle in foreign policy affairs, he got up early to stay on message.

          With evidently very little sleep, Giuliani was back at Fox studios on the couch with Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade bragging that the infamous transcript of the July 25 conversation between Trump and Ukraines president had been read to him. (The text is purportedly being released by the White House sometime today.)

          When you read the conversation, theres no mention of $250 million, theres no mention of military aid, theres no quid pro quo, Giuliani stated as Doocy tried to clarify.

          This is the transcript? he asked while Giuliani continued on unabated.

          Kilmeade then made an attempt, touching the mayors arm to get him to pause. So can I just back up for a second? Mr. Mayor, can I ask you, did you read the transcript?

          Giuliani then stopped and smiled. Uh, lets say it was read to me.

          Kilmeade asked for further clarification. It was read to you, he said. The whole thing?

          After a moments pause, Giuliani responded, Uh, I hope so!

          And then he was off again, sticking up for his client and accusing the Obama administration of dereliction of duty.

          If the president hadnt discussed the things he discussed with the president of the Ukraine, hed be a president like Obama who closed his eyes to corruption, he said, pivoting to accusing the 44th president of possibly having a role in alleged and unproven wrongdoing by Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

          He then went on to say that only Trump could have raised the issue of corruption with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

          Now who else can raise it with the president of the Ukraine? Giuliani asked. The head of the FBI cant call the head of the Ukraine and talk to him.

          When I needed something done with the Italian government when I was investigating the mafia, Ronald Reagan made the calls to the president of Italy, not me, he offered by way of precedent on such matters.

          Then Kilmeade cut to the chase. So the president did bring up Joe Biden on the calls?

          Giuliani then hesitated. Er, maybe he didnt bring it up, he said with a belly laugh. Could be possible the president of the Ukraine brought it up.

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          Democrats Home In On Rudy Giuliani’s Meddling In Ukraine

          Democrats are demanding more information about Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine following the release of a controversial call summary between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

          A group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to review Giuliani’s consulting work abroad following repeated mentions of Trump’s personal attorney in the summary. Earlier this week, three congressional House committees also jointly sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatening a subpoena if he refuses to produce documents related to Trump’s and Giuliani’s interactions with Ukrainian officials.

          “Rudy Giuliani seems to be working on behalf of the United States as an emissary from the president while at the same time benefiting the president’s personal political agenda,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the senators who made the request, said Wednesday.

          Giuliani’s name comes up repeatedly in summary of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky that was released Wednesday. Zelensky first brings up Giuliani on the call and invites him to visit Ukraine. Later in the conversation, Trump urges Zelensky to work with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Giuliani in pursuit of dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

          “Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening, and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great,” Trump said, according to the call summary.

          On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an article about Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy in Ukraine and how it had alarmed State Department officials who were in the dark about his work there. Giuliani seemed to acknowledge his mission to help Trump politically in an interview in May.

          Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. President Trump to Ukraine’s president, according to a summary of their call

          “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani said in the May 9 New York Times article. “I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

          In an interview on Fox News this week, Giuliani held up a cellphone, waved it around and told host Laura Ingraham that he was working on behalf of the State Department and said his phone records would confirm his contacts.

          “You know who I did it at the request of?” he asked. “The State Department. I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called and asked me to do it. And then I reported every conversation back to them.”

          But the State Department later pushed back on those claims, saying Giuliani did not speak for the U.S. government and calling him a “private citizen” who is acting in a “personal capacity as a lawyer for President Trump.”

          Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine also puzzled some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

          “I honestly have no idea. None,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Wednesday when asked why the president’s personal attorney got involved with U.S. policy in a foreign country. In an earlier interview on MSNBC this week, Kennedy called Giuliani “wilder than a March hare.”

          Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an ally of Trump who argued the president did nothing wrong in asking Zelensky to get involved in a U.S. election, also took issue with Giuliani’s wild series of television appearances this week.

          “I don’t know what [role] he played,” Graham said. “Rudy’s saying a lot of things, and I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes.”

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          Ground Zero Memorial and Rebuilding Fast Facts

          Architecture

          (CNN)Here’s a look at the rebuilding of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan and the memorial to the victims of the September 11 attacks.

          April 28, 2003 – The World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition launches.
          June 2003 – The Memorial Competition submission period closes. 5,201 submissions are received from 63 nations.
            November 19, 2003 – Eight prospective plans chosen from the submissions are displayed for the public in the World Financial Center in New York.
            January 6, 2004 – The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announces its choice of “Reflecting Absence” by Israeli-born architect Michael Arad.
            September 10, 2005 – Supporters of the Take Back the Memorial campaign protest the inclusion of an International Freedom Center in plans for the memorial.
            September 28, 2005 – In a written statement, Governor George Pataki announces that plans for the International Freedom Center adjacent to the planned memorial at the World Trade Center site have been abandoned.
            July 12, 2011 – More than 42,000 passes to the memorial are reserved in the first 24 hours they are made available.
            September 11, 2011 – The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the dedication of the memorial.
            September 12, 2011 – The memorial opens to the public.
            2012 – A dispute between the Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey delays construction of the 9/11 museum planned for the memorial site. The museum was originally supposed to open on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
            September 10, 2012 – The budgetary dispute delaying the opening of the museum is resolved when all parties enter into a “memorandum of understanding,” an agreement that allows them to restart construction.
            May 15, 2014 – The National September 11 Memorial & Museum opens its doors for the 9/11 community — survivors, families and rescuers. Within it are 12,500 objects, 1,995 oral histories and 580 hours of film and video.
            May 21, 2014 – The museum opens to the public.
            Redevelopment of Lower Manhattan:
            Fall 2001 – New York Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani create the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The mission of the LMDC is to “help plan and coordinate the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan.”
            The LMDC also administers the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition, a separate process from that of rebuilding the World Trade Center area.
            A 15-member board of directors governs the LMDC. The governor of New York and the mayor of New York City each appoint half of the members. The LMDC is also assisted by nine advisory councils.
            According to an audit conducted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the rebuilding cost grew from approximately $11 billion in 2008 to $14.8 billion in 2012.
            August 12, 2002 FEMA and the Federal Transit Administration announce $4.55 billion in federal aid for transportation improvements in Lower Manhattan.
            September 26, 2002 Six design teams are hired, out of 407 submissions, to create land use plans for the 16-acre site.
            December 18, 2002 An exhibit of nine possible designs opens at the World Financial Center.
            February 27, 2003 Daniel Libeskind’s “Memory Foundations” is selected as the new design for the site.
            September 17, 2003 The LMDC releases a revised Master Plan for the site.
            November 23 2003 – PATH train service is restored, linking Lower Manhattan and New Jersey. Trains operate out of a temporary station in the area.
            December 19, 2003 Plans for the Freedom Tower to be built at Ground Zero are revealed.
            January 22, 2004 – Architect Santiago Calatrava unveils his plans for the area transportation hub.
            July 4, 2004 Construction at Freedom Tower begins. A 20-ton slab of granite, inscribed “the enduring spirit of freedom,” is laid as the cornerstone of one of the new skyscrapers that will stand on the site.
            May 4, 2005 Governor Pataki calls for a redesign of the new tower for safety reasons.
            June 29, 2005 – New York officials release the latest design for the signature building at the site after revising it to make the tower more secure.
            September 6, 2005 Architect Santiago Calatrava and public officials dedicate the first steel rail for the future transportation station.
            December 15, 2005 Architect Lord Norman Foster agrees to design the next major building planned for the site. Foster will design a 65-story tower for the northeast corner of the 16-acre site.
            April 26, 2006 The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and developer Larry Silverstein reach an agreement about the financing of Freedom Tower, resolving problems that had delayed construction.
            April 27, 2006 The formal groundbreaking of Freedom Tower takes place.
            March 26, 2009 The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announces dropping the name “Freedom Tower,” and that the first commercial lease in the building has been signed. Upon completion, the building will be named One World Trade Center.
            May 10, 2013 Construction workers bolt the last pieces of a 408-foot spire into place atop One World Trade Center, bringing the building to a height of 1,776 feet. This height references the year the United States declared its independence. It also makes the building the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the third tallest in the world.
            November 3, 2014 – One World Trade Center opens for business, when the first tenant, Conde Nast, moves in.
            May 29, 2015 – The observatory opens in the top three floors of One World Trade Center.
              March 3, 2016 – The first phase of the World Trade Center transportation hub opens.
              June 29, 2016 – Liberty Park opens to the public.

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