US politics in the news ticker: US President Donald Trump praised his political record after three years in office. “The state of our nation is stronger than ever,” Trump said in a speech to the United States Congress on the state of the nation. The impeachment proceedings against him were dismissed in the Senate. Everything important to the US policy in the ticker of VIP News.
Trump confidant Stone sentenced to more than three years in prison
7 p.m .: A long-time confidant of U.S. President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for his crimes related to the Russia affair. This was reported by several US media after the judge’s decision on Thursday, including the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post”. The prison sentence, which is reported to be 40 months, is significantly lower than the prosecutors had recommended.
The Stone case had become a political issue. The prosecutors had recommended that the federal court in Washington be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison because of the seriousness of Stone’s offenses. Trump had sharply criticized the proposed sentence and spoke of a “misconduct of the judiciary”. Although the Ministry of Justice does not usually oppose prosecutors ‘recommendations, the agency then said that the prosecutors’ proposal was “excessive and unjustified”. The ministry recommended the court a “significantly lower” sentence. All four public prosecutors then went on to resign.
Stone had already been found guilty by a jury on several charges in November. In connection with contacts with the disclosure platform Wikileaks, he is charged with false statements, hindrance to investigations and influencing witnesses. Stone had rejected the allegations. The background is the investigation by special investigator Robert Mueller into whether the Trump camp had colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election campaign. Stone worked for Trump in 2015 and continued to be in contact with him afterwards as a kind of informal advisor.
Trump makes Ambassador Grenell the secret service coordinator
Thursday, February 20, 1:35 p.m .: The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, becomes the executive secret service coordinator in the White House. This was announced by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening (local time) on Twitter. “Rick represented our country extremely well and I look forward to working with him,” Trump wrote.
Grenell succeeds incumbent coordinator Joseph Maguire, who replaced Dan Coats in August. Grenell is considered extremely loyal to Trump and always boasts good connections to the White House. On Sunday he wrote on Twitter that Trump had just called him. During his time as ambassador to Germany, Grenell repeatedly made headlines with polarizing statements and, for a diplomat, unusually harsh criticism of German government policy when it conflicted with American interests.
The Director of Intelligence (DNI) is responsible for coordinating the various U.S. intelligence agencies. Maguire also only has the position of managing director, which means that he has not been confirmed for the task by the Senate. That’s why he can only stay in office until March 12, according to the “New York Times”.
Coats has held the top position since March 2017. Towards the end of his term, disagreements between him and Trump repeatedly became public, including the conflict with Iran. After Coats’ departure, his deputy Sue Gordon also resigned. Trump originally proposed Republican MP John Ratcliffe to replace Coats, but he gave up on his past after numerous critical media reports. Trump then lifted Maguire to the post, then director of the Counter Terrorism Center.
Trump cuts detention for controversial ex-governor Blagojevich
Tuesday, February 18, 9:20 p.m .: US President Donald Trump has ordered that a controversial ex-governor be reduced in prison. This would allow Democrat Rod Blagojevich to return home to his family after eight years in prison, Trump said on Tuesday at Andrews’ military base near Washington. At first it was not clear when exactly Blagojevich should be released. The White House said Blagojevich had “shown exemplary status in detention and is trying to improve the lives of his fellow prisoners.”
Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison in a corruption case. As Governor of the State of Illinois, he had tried, among other things, to sell Barack Obama’s Senate post, which had been freed by the 2008 presidential election, for money. Obama represented Illinois in Congress. In addition to false testimony, Blagojevich had been accused of extortion, fraud and criminal profiteering. He started his prison term in 2012. Blagojevich was governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009.
The U.S. president can pardon criminals sentenced to federal law or reduce their sentences.
Trump demands Russia to be cautious in Syria
Monday, February 17th, 4:09 a.m .: US President Donald Trump has spoken out for more restraint in Russia in the Syria conflict. Speaking to Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said after a White House announcement on Sunday that the US wanted Russia to end its support for “regime atrocities” by Bashar al-Assad. He also advocated a political solution to the conflict.
Trump said on the phone call with Erdogan on Saturday that he was concerned about the violence in Idlib. At the same time, he thanked his Turkish colleague for Turkey’s efforts “to prevent a humanitarian disaster”.
In the fighting for the province of Idlib there have recently been clashes between Syrian government forces and units of the Turkish armed forces. Ankara has threatened Assad with retaliation if Syrian troops continue to attack the Turkish army. “The regime needs to know that: Turkey will have no borders there should such attacks continue on our troops,” said Vice President Fuat Oktay on Saturday. This message was also sent to Russia, which supports the Syrian government.
Secretary of Justice demands: President Trump should tweet less
Friday, February 14, 7:56 a.m .: Attorney General William Barr has asked President Donald Trump to stop interfering in ongoing litigation via Twitter. The ongoing comments from the site made it “impossible to do my job,” Barr told ABC News Thursday. However, the president never directly asked him to intervene in criminal proceedings, he said. He said he would not be intimidated – either by Congress, newspapers or the President – and would continue to work for the integrity of the judiciary, said Barr.
“I think it’s time to stop tweeting about Justice Department criminal cases,” said Barr. He was “naturally” aware that the President might dislike this statement, he added. Barr’s comments received much attention in Washington. Public criticism from the cabinet has become extremely rare under Trump, especially since the head of state Deviator likes to show off with biting tweets.
Republican Senate Mighty Leader Mitch McConnell backed Barr. The president “should listen to his advice,” he told Fox News about Barr’s statement. “If the Attorney General says it is hindering his work, then maybe the President should listen to the Minister of Justice,” said McConnell.
After two years, Hope Hicks is now back on the Trump team
Thursday, February 13, 5:10 p.m .: Former President Donald Trump’s chief communications officer, Hope Hicks, is set to return to the White House in a new role. “I’m thrilled to welcome Hope back to the White House,” Trump’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in Washington on Thursday. Hicks is one of the most talented and smartest people you have ever met. Hick’s future role was told from the White House that she would not work in the communications department again, but would work closely with the president’s adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, on strategic issues, among other things.
Upon request, Kushner said, “There is no one more dedicated to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks. We are very excited to have her back on our team.” The White House made no statements as to exactly when Hicks should start again at the US government headquarters.
Hicks had worked as communications director for the president for several months, leaving the White House in spring 2018. Afterwards she worked for the media company 21st Century Fox.
Overall, she had worked for Trump for more than three years and had also done public relations work for his 2016 campaign team. She was one of the few people who did not belong to Trump’s family, but still belonged to the inner circle of his confidants. Trump had once called her “another daughter”. She started her relationship with the family as an employee and model for the fashion line of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
Four accusers are thrown in after the Trump tirade
06.39 a.m .: US President Donald Trump has caused outrage with a statement in favor of his ex-adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted in the Russia affair. The four prosecutors in charge of the case announced their withdrawal from the trial on Tuesday after Trump’s statements. The opposition Democrats sharply criticized the fact that the Ministry of Justice now wants to mitigate the punitive claim against the 67-year-old.
The public prosecutor’s office on Monday demanded seven to nine years in prison for Stone, who was found guilty of false testimony and interference with witnesses in November. Trump shortly thereafter criticized this claim. “This is a terrible and very unfair situation,” wrote the president in the short message service Twitter. He could not allow such a “mistake in justice”.
A senior Justice Department official who did not want to be quoted by name then criticized the claim as “extreme, exaggerated and disproportionate” a few hours after Trump’s tweet. In a document later submitted to the court, investigators proposed Stone’s sentence of only 37 to 46 months.
However, Trump denied having intervened directly with the Justice Department over Stone: he hadn’t spoken to the Ministry about the case, the president said on Tuesday. At the same time, however, he affirmed that he considered the first complaint to be “ridiculous”. The four prosecutors gave no reason for their move in their declaration of withdrawal.
The Democrats see Trump’s actions in the Stone case as an alleged violation of the separation of powers between the government and the judiciary. The chairman of the House Secret Service Committee, Adam Schiff, said that if Trump actually intervened to reverse the punishment, it would be a “blatant abuse of power”. It would send the message that the President was protecting those who lie to Congress to cover up his “wrongdoing”.
Prosecutor wants nine years in prison for Trump’s confidante
Tuesday, February 11, 2:21 p.m .: A long-time confidant of US President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, is set to receive a long prison sentence for his role in the Russia affair. The prosecutor’s office recommended on Monday that Stone should be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison. This took into account the seriousness of his offenses, it was said. A Washington court wanted to sentence this month.
Stone had been found guilty by a jury on several charges in November. In connection with contacts with the disclosure platform Wikileaks, he is charged with false statements, hindrance to investigations and influencing witnesses. Stone had rejected the allegations. The background is the investigation by special investigator Robert Mueller into whether the Trump camp had colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election campaign. Stone worked for Trump in 2015 and continued to be in contact with him afterwards as a kind of informal advisor.
The allegations against Stone are linked to a hacker attack on Democrats’ email accounts during the 2016 election campaign, for which US intelligence agencies blamed Russia. E-mails from the environment of the democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were stolen, which were later published by Wikileaks. Mueller accused Stone of giving false information to the US Congress about what he knew about it and with whom he had communicated and how. He is also said to have pressured another witness to make false statements in the case.
Primaries in New Hampshire: Democrats attack in TV debate
5.20 a.m .: In the middle of the first two primaries in the US presidential race, seven Democratic presidential applicants exchanged blows in a television debate on Friday evening (local time). The round in Manchester, New Hampshire, was attended by the four Democrats leading up to the primaries, ex-Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and ex-Vice President Joe Biden.
The first area code had been in Iowa last Monday. Buttigieg and Sanders were head to head in the end. Warren finished third in Iowa, while Biden – who leads in national surveys – only came in fourth. The publication of the election results in Iowa had been delayed for days due to technical problems. The next area code is due in New Hampshire next Tuesday (February 11).
In the TV debate, Biden tried to play down the slip. He took a blow and would likely have to take another in New Hampshire. But the candidate race is long. Candidates spoke about foreign policy, healthcare, and who was best placed to beat US President Donald Trump in the fall presidential election.
Several candidates attacked Buttigieg in the debate and accused him of inexperience. The 38-year-old replied: “We now need a perspective that will finally allow us to leave the politics of the past in the past”. Looking at Sanders, Senator Amy Klobuchar said the Democrats needed someone to take people with them instead of excluding them. Left-wing Senator Sanders, on the other hand, emphasized that people are brought together by presenting an agenda that is good for the people of the country and not for billionaires.
Trump fires two witnesses who testified against him in the impeachment process
Saturday, February 8, 2:13 p.m .: After his acquittal from impeachment, US President Donald Trump released two key witnesses who testified against him from their duties. The US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told several US media on Friday (local time) that he had been told that the president wanted him to act as ambassador with immediate effect. Sondland, a key witness, contradicted Trump in the impeachment investigation.
Earlier on Friday, it was announced that Trump had banned Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, an adviser to the National Security Council, from the White House. Vindman, 44, was the leading Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. In November, the officer, as a witness to the impeachment hearing, reiterated his criticism of Trump’s testimony over the telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selensky.
House spokeswoman Democrat Nancy Pelosi sharply criticized the White House decision against Vindman: “The shameful dismissal of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was a clear and brazen act of revenge that expresses the President’s fear of the truth.” House chief prosecutor Adam Schiff said: “These are the actions of a man who believes he is above the law.”
Report: Trump drives out White House impeachment witnesses
Friday, February 7, 9:06 a.m .: According to media reports, US President Donald Trump plans to ban a National Security Council adviser from the White House who testified against him after the impeachment process. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman should soon be informed that he will be transferred to the Pentagon, the Washington Post reported late Thursday evening (local time), citing two people familiar with the decision. This will remove a key figure in the impeachment process from the White House.
Vindman himself has told employees that he expects to return to the Department of Defense in the next few weeks, CNN reported. It is open whether this is done voluntarily or at the instigation of the government. Vindman was only scheduled to leave the National Security Council in July when his two-year appointment expired.
The 44-year-old officer confirmed his criticism of Trump’s statements during a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj in November as a witness at the impeachment hearings. “It was inappropriate to ask the President to request an investigation into a political opponent,” he said at the time. Vindman, the leading Ukraine expert in the National Security Council, said he had heard the conversation live.
The U.S. Senate, in which Trumps Republicans hold the majority, cleared the president of all charges in the impeachment process on Wednesday. After months of investigations and an almost three-week trial in the Senate, the impeachment process is over. The background to the Ukraine affair was: Trump is said to have pressed Selenskyj into investigations against his democratic rival Joe Biden in order to influence the 2020 US presidential election in his favor.
Trump replies to his lightning acquittal in his very own way
06.43 a.m .: It’s over. And Donald Trump answers in his own way. As a first reaction to his impeachment impeachment, the US President posted a short video clip on Twitter. In it: Trump on a counterfeit cover of the magazine “Time” with advertising signs for his election campaign, beginning with the election year 2024, then 2028, 2032 and so on, until the end the inscription “Trump forever” comes. So that’s his message: Now nobody can do anything to me. From now on, is it literally governed? The US Senate has cleared Trump of all allegations in the impeachment process. His Republicans in the Chamber saved him and he remains in office – the Senate ultimately only needed 30 minutes to make this decision on Wednesday.
10:34 pm: The final result of the second allegation is: With 53 to 47 votes, the senators vote “not guilty”.
In the impeachment proceedings against the US President, the Senate has thus exonerated Trump from all charges. As expected, the congressional chamber dominated by Trumps Republicans did not have the two-thirds majority required on Wednesday (local time) to convict Trump for abuse of power or interference with congressional investigations.
The highest acquittal is a great victory for Trump at the beginning of the election year in the United States.
The US House of Representatives had charged Trump with the majority of Democrats for abuse of power and interference with the Congress investigation: Trump is said to have pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj into an investigation against his democratic rival Joe Biden in order to influence the 2020 US presidential election in his favor , The Democrats see it as proven that Trump has made the release of military aid to Kiev and a meeting with Selenskyj in the White House dependent on the announcement of such an investigation. When that came out, Trump had done everything possible to block the House investigation. Trump vehemently rejected the allegations.
The affair was drawn up over months. At the end of September, the Democrats first opened an impeachment investigation against Trump. The House of Representatives dominated by them interviewed witnesses for weeks and gathered documents and information. In December, the plenum of the Trump Chamber finally indicted the majority of the Democrats. In mid-January, the actual proceedings began in the Senate – the other congress chamber, which plays the role of a court in the case of impeachment and has to make a final decision on the charges against the House of Representatives.
In the process, the Democrats had urged that witnesses be summoned to the Senate and that new documents be requested. They hoped for more information that would be stressful for Trump, but failed because of the majority of Trumps Republicans who prevented the hearing of witnesses.
10.30 p.m .: The vote is still ongoing, but the charges can no longer reach a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
10:26 p.m .: Voting on the second charge has just started.
10:17 p.m .: In the first charge, the allegation of abuse of office, the Senate has just declared Trump not guilty. The senators decided “not guilty” with 52 to 48 votes.
10:16 p.m .: The crucial session of the Senate has begun in impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump. The 100 senators will decide on Wednesday whether Trump is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction to the Congressional investigation into the Ukraine affair. Trump’s acquittal is expected due to the Republican majority in the chamber. To convict Trump, 67 senators would have to vote for at least one of the two charges. This two-thirds majority is not foreseeable.