October 16, 2019

Rudy Giuliani, who says he serves President Trump without financial compensation, insists he isn't a foreign lobbyist, despite working for paying clients in Ukraine, Romania, Bahrain, and other nations at the same time he advises the president. But Giuliani personally pressed Trump to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen so often in 2017, The Washington Post reports, "White House aides worried that Giuliani was making the case on behalf of the Turkish government."

The extradition of Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident, is a top priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Giuliani brought up Gulen with Trump so often, one former administration official called it his "hobby horse," the Post reports. A second former official said "it was all Gulen" for Giuliani, but Trump's other aides were vehemently opposed to extraditing the Erdogan critic, citing legal and political issues. Trump, however, seemed receptive to extradition, reportedly pressing his advisers on Gulen's status and asking why he couldn't be turned over to "my friend" Erdogan.

Giuliani is now under scrutiny from House impeachment investigators and federal prosecutors for his work in Ukraine on behalf of Trump, but his efforts to persuade Trump to hand Gulen to Turkey "represent another instance in which he appears to have been pushing a shadow foreign policy from his perch outside government," the Post reports. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, also pushed Trump for Gulan's extradition (or worse), and had to retroactively register as a foreign agent for his Turkish lobbying work.

Giuliani insisted to the Post that he has never lobbied on behalf of a foreign government — lobbying experts are skeptical — and said he couldn't comment on advocating for Gulan's extradition due to "attorney client privilege," but the idea "sounds wacky." When informed that multiple officials described his conversations with Trump, the Post adds, "Giuliani responded 'Bull,' and then liked the question with a thumbs-up emoji." Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

5:24 p.m.

President Trump now has three chances to keep his financial records a secret.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear Trump's appeal of three cases that involve subpoenas for his financial records, giving no explanation for the decision. Oral arguments for the separate cases are likely slated for March, with a decision expected at the end of June.

In three separate cases, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees requested Trump's financial records from his banks and other businesses he worked with. Trump's lawyers sued to block those subpoenas, but in each case, courts ruled against them. So they appealed the decisions to the Supreme Court, first getting stays on the rulings to block the records' immediate release to the oversight committee, and then getting the whole case accepted Friday.

Previous judges have noted that past presidents released their tax returns to the public, and Trump's lawyers subsequently argued that the subpoenas are not a legitimate legislative inquiry. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:11 p.m.

Hey, I don't know about you, but I'm feeling ... the oppressing crush of mortality.

Taylor Swift celebrated her 30th birthday on Friday, despite being 19, like, yesterday. "WHO'S GONNA TELL HER SHE'S THIRTAY NOW," Swift tweeted, sharing a throwback photo of the sweet little girl who would one day grow up to have complete strangers creepily speculate about her fertility on social media.

Swift didn't note how she plans to celebrate, but seeing as she accepted Billboard's first-ever Woman of the Decade Award last night, she understandably might be sleeping in. Jeva Lange

3:55 p.m.

President Trump has at least three Jewish friends. He just asks them all the same questions.

On at least four occasions over the past few months, Trump has pulled out a story where he's purportedly asking a friend which of his administration's moves have been bigger for the Jewish people. The friend always gives the same answer — but Trump changes the name of who he's talking to each time, The Washington Post reports.

"Charlie, let me ask you what’s bigger for the Jewish people," Trump recalled asking Charles Kushner, the disgraced real estate developer and father of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, at a Hanukkah event on Wednesday. "Giving the embassy to Jerusalem" and recognizing it as Israel's capital or supporting Israel's sovereignty in the disputed Golan Heights. "Neither," Kushner apparently replied. "The biggest thing of all is what you did by ending the Iran nuclear catastrophe."

Yet just a few hours earlier, Trump told nearly the same story, this time involving the even shiftier New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. A few days earlier, it was Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson who Trump asked about Israeli accomplishments. And back in September, it was a nondescript "people" who told him they loved his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Read the full accounts or watch them mashed up side-by-side at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:47 p.m.

Next week's Democratic debate could lose its frontrunners.

Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is currently facing a union boycott against its food service provider Sodexo — the two sides have been in talks for a deal since March. And with the Dec. 19 debate scheduled to take place at Loyola Marymount, four candidates, including three at the top of the polls, say they won't be there.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the first candidate to recognize the conflict at Loyola Marymount, tweeting Friday that he would not cross the Unite Here Local 11 picket line organized against Sodexo.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) soon tweeted that she also wouldn't cross the union's picket line "even if it means missing the debate." Andrew Yang, the underdog tech entrepreneur who was the last candidate to make the stage, said the same, and then former Vice President Joe Biden joined in. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who didn't make this Democratic debate, then called on the remaining candidates to drop as well.

The Democratic National Committee has already faced a union challenge to this debate, deciding in early November to pull it from UCLA over the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees' three-year boycott on speakers at the school. It announced it was moving to Loyola Marymount a few days later. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:11 p.m.

President Trump will have impeachment just the way he wants it.

In an Oval Office meeting with the president of Paraguay on Friday, Trump didn't have much to say about the South American country. Instead, he made it clear to reporters what he'd like out of his impeachment trial in the Senate, saying "I'll do whatever I want" when asked for his impeachment preferences.

After reporting suggested Trump was pushing for a long, "TV spectacle" of an impeachment trial and Senate Republicans just wanted to get it over with, Trump was asked Friday flat-out what he'd prefer. Trump replied by saying he'd heard Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggest a quick trial without any witnesses, "and I like that." In short, "I'll do whatever I want," Trump said.

Trump then repeated his claim that "we did nothing wrong, so I'll do long or short." And then he revealed he did have a preference, saying "I wouldn't mind a long process, because I'd like to see the whistleblower," whose identity is protected by law. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:45 p.m.

Christmas came early this year! While fans of the Kardashian West clan had to wait until Christmas Eve in 2018 to see the family's holiday card (the nerve!), Kim and Kanye shared their annual photo on social media Friday afternoon. Unlike the crazy photo shoots of yore, the family opted this year for a more dressed-down look: Mom, dad, and all four kids — including adorable 7-month-old Psalm, making his Christmas card debut — wore comfy-looking sweats.

"I think this Christmas card will be just ... me, Kanye, and the kids, because it's a lot to wrangle everybody," Kardashian-West had told E! News last month, adding that she planned something "really chill and cozy." Nailed it. Jeva Lange

12:22 p.m.

Mitch McConnell has declared himself judge, jury, and White House coordinator in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

As the House Judiciary Committee continued to debate its articles of impeachment against President Trump on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a shocking statement: He'll be working "in total coordination" with the White House counsel's office on impeachment. That doesn't mesh well with senators' roles as impartial jurors in an impeachment trial, and it unsurprisingly caught Democrats' attention.

"Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel," McConnell said of impeachment in his Thursday segment with Fox News' Sean Hannity. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position in how to handle this." Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) quickly brought up McConnell's comments as Thursday's impeachment debate continued, translating them to mean "the jury — Senate Republicans — are going to coordinate with the defendant — Donald Trump — on how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run."

The next morning, other Judiciary Democrats took a stab at McConnell's comments. "I think it is outrageous for the chief juror who is organizing the trial to be coordinating with the defendant," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told CNN. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) went further, saying because McConnell is "working hand in hand with the White House, with the president's attorney," he should "recuse himself" from the trial. Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads