September 25, 2019

President Trump is now facing a formal impeachment inquiry, Trump national security officials are blaming his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Giuliani is pointing the finger at ... George Soros. In another wild night of interviews, this time on Fox News, Giuliani responded to a Washington Post report that many Trump administration national security officials blame him and his "shadow" Ukraine machinations for Trump's impeachment problems, insisting that everything he did on Trump's behalf in Ukraine was done "at the request of the State Department."

"I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it," Giuliani told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. "And then I reported every conversation back to them." He held up his phone as purported proof.

Ingraham asked, reasonably, why Trump's personal lawyer is his point man on Ukraine, and how Giuliani is defending Trump by going after Biden.

If you're confused at how George Soros fits in to all this — spoiler: he doesn't — Robert Mackey has a thorough rundown of Giuliani's allegations at The Intercept, and another one of Giuliani's Ukrainian targets rebutted his accusations in The Washington Post. Giuliani went on to say that Trump shouldn't be impeached, but Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) should be because he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky it would be inappropriate for Kiev to interfere in America's election, as Trump was apparently requesting.

You can watch the entire interview at Fox News, but later on Ingraham's show, Giuliani made a cameo after a liberal guest, Chris Hahn, pointed out that Giuliani had just accused the State Department of directing him "to go meet with the Ukraine to get evidence on the president's political opponent," then said if the Bidens weren't public figures, they should sue Giuliani for libel. That last part really set Giuliani off. Watch below. Peter Weber

11:02 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany is walking back comments she made in 2015, when she called Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, then the vice president, "a man of the people" who is "funny and likable."

CNN's KFile reports that in August 2015, McEnany appeared on New York's AM970 to discuss what would happen if Donald Trump became the Republican presidential nominee and Biden, who was mulling a run for president, became the candidate for the Democrats.

McEnany said this would be "a problem" for the GOP, because "Joe Biden, one of the things he is remarkable at is really kind of being a man of the people and resonating with middle class voters. ... His gaffes, as much as we make fun of them, to a certain extent they make him look human." With Biden against Trump, "I think the juxtaposition of kind of the man of the people and kind of this tycoon is a problem," she added. Earlier that week, CNN reports, McEnany was on Fox Business Network, and said Biden was "funny and likable and can resonate with the middle class, he really can speak to the average, everyday American, versus Hillary Clinton, who's cold and somber."

After the 2016 election, McEnany became a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee and joined the Trump team, and has blasted Biden at every opportunity, calling him a "radical socialist" and "sleepy." When CNN asked her to comment on her 2015 remarks about Biden, she accused him of being corrupt and called him "an empty vessel for the liberal elites and far left."

McEnany has also changed her tune when it comes to Trump; in 2015, after Trump said Mexico was sending "rapists" to the U.S., she said on CNN "a racist statement is a racist statement. I don't like what Donald Trump has said." In another interview on CNN, she called Trump "a Republican in name only" and said she didn't "want to claim this guy." As Trump's poll numbers began to go up, McEnany had a change of heart, and defended Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants. After becoming press secretary earlier this year, she explained away her earlier criticisms of Trump, saying she "very quickly came around and supported the president." Catherine Garcia

10:06 p.m.

After the Senate voted on Monday night to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice, she spoke at a White House event, saying she was "truly honored and humbled" to be selected for the position.

Before Barrett spoke, Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath to her; on Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the judicial oath during a private ceremony. Several Republican senators attended the event, held outside on the White House's South Lawn.

During her remarks, Barrett said it is "the job of a senator to pursue her policy preferences" but "it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences," and "the oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences. I love the Constitution and the democratic republic that it establishes, and I will devote myself to preserving it." Catherine Garcia

9:12 p.m.

The Supreme Court on Monday night refused to reinstate a Wisconsin federal court's order to extend the deadline for absentee ballots in the state.

The district court's order was put on hold by a federal appeals court. The justices split 5-3, with the conservative justices opposing the extension, which would have let election officials count mail-in ballots as long as they are received up to six days after the Nov. 3 election.

Democrats have argued that because of the coronavirus pandemic, more voters will use mail-in ballots and there needs to be additional time to count them all. Wisconsin is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, and hospitalizations have reached a record high.

In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the Supreme Court "has failed to adequately protect the nation's voters," adding that in April, Wisconsin allowed a six-day extension during primary voting, and about 80,000 ballots were received on the day after the primary election. Justice Neil Gorsuch said while "no one doubts that conducting a national election amid a pandemic poses serious challenges," that does not mean "individual judges may improvise with their own election rules in place of those the people's representatives have adopted." Catherine Garcia

8:25 p.m.

The Senate on Monday night confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as the 115th justice to the Supreme Court, succeeding the late liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

It was a 52-48 vote, with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine the only Republican to join Democrats in opposing Barrett's confirmation. Barrett, 48, was President Trump's third nominee to the Supreme Court, and increases the conservative majority on the court to 6-3.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved at lightning speed to ensure Barrett was confirmed ahead of the Nov. 3 election, despite refusing to allow a vote in 2016 when former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. At that time, McConnell said the next Supreme Court justice should be selected by the next president, elected in November. Catherine Garcia

7:45 p.m.

Zeta, the earliest ever 27th named storm of the Atlantic season, strengthened to a hurricane Monday afternoon, and is centered about 90 miles southeast of Mexico's Cozumel island, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Zeta has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph and is moving northwest at 10 mph. Forecasters expect the storm to make its way over the Yucatan Peninsula late Monday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. Zeta will likely approach the Gulf Coast by Wednesday, but could weaken by that point.

The storm could bring four to eight inches of rain to Mexico, parts of Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, and could make landfall in the United States anywhere from Louisiana to Florida's Panhandle. Zeta is the 11th hurricane of the 2020 season; during an average season, there are six hurricanes and 12 named storms, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia

7:09 p.m.

Republican Voters Against Trump released a new ad on Monday afternoon featuring several former Trump administration officials who are backing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The three ex-staffers — Miles Taylor, Olivia Troye, and Elizabeth Neumann — have appeared in their own ads, but this is their first video together. In it, they share their insights into President Trump, with Troye, a former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, saying if he had taken the coronavirus "seriously, he would have saved lives," and Taylor, who once served as chief of staff to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, revealing that whether it's a cyber attack or terrorism threat, Trump "wasn't interested in these things because they didn't benefit him personally."

Neumann, a former assistant secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security, says Trump's "divisive language is indirectly tied to some of the attacks that we have seen in the last two years," with his words giving "permission to white supremacists" to get violent. The ad's narrator intones that the three Republicans "saw Trump up close" and voters should "listen to their warnings," and the video ends with Taylor cautioning that inside the White House, "it is so much worse than it looks," and Troye stating "we will no longer be America after four more years of Trump." Watch the ad below. Catherine Garcia

6:17 p.m.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows seems to have developed a strong rapport with President Trump, who has mostly bestowed effusive praise on the former congressman. But those sentiments aren't shared by many Trump administration staffers and re-election campaign officials, The Washington Post reports.

Per the Post, Meadows' critics think he's been ineffective when it comes to executing his actual job requirements and instead serves more as a political adviser to and confidant of the president. One example of that apparent ineffectiveness occurred during Trump's hospitalization after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Four anonymous administration officials told the Post Meadows failed to communicate anything to staff about the president's condition for several days.

He also reportedly failed to provide logistical details at the time, such as if the West Wing would partially close amid the outbreak and whether people should work from home, what precautions were in place to curb the spread, and even how many other staffers had contracted the virus themselves. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads