WASHINGTON — At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the president raged about treason. At the other, the methodical march toward impeachment proceeded apace.
Democrats on Monday subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who was at the heart of Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden’s family. That was after one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said he would have “no choice” but to consider articles of impeachment if the House approved them.
With Congress out of session for observance of Jewish holidays, Democrats moved aggressively against Giuliani, requesting by Oct. 15 “text messages, phone records and other communications” that they referred to as possible evidence. They also requested documents and depositions from three of his business associates.
Meanwhile, the circle of officials with knowledge of Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s president widened with the revelation that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listened in on the July 25 conversation.
Pompeo’s presence on the Ukraine call, confirmed by two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal matter, provided the first confirmation that a Cabinet official heard Trump press President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. It is that call, and the circumstances surrounding it, that are fueling the new Democratic drive for impeachment.
McConnell nonetheless swatted down talk that the GOP-controlled Senate could dodge the matter of impeachment if the House approved charges against Trump.
“It’s a Senate rule related to impeachment. It would take 67 votes to change, so I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said on CNBC. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.”
Trump took to Twitter to defend anew his phone call with Zelenskiy as “perfect” and to unleash a series of attacks, most strikingly against House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. The Democrat, he suggested, ought to be tried for a capital offense for launching into a paraphrase of Trump during a congressional hearing last week.
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people,” the president wrote. “It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?”
Trump tweeted repeatedly through the day but was for the most part a lonely voice as the White House lacked an organization or process to defend him. Senior staffers, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, were to present Trump this week with options on setting up the West Wing’s response to impeachment, officials said.
A formal war room was unlikely, though some sort of rapid response team was planned to supplement the efforts of Trump and Giuliani. But Trump was angry over the weekend at both Mulvaney and press secretary Stephanie Grisham for not being able to change the narrative dominating the story, according to two Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
Democrats have orders from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep momentum going despite a two-week recess that started Friday. Staff for three committees are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday to depose Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was removed by the Trump administration earlier this year, and Kurt Volker, who resigned last week as America’s Ukrainian envoy. Members of the Intelligence Committee on Friday will interview Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community who first received the whistleblower’s complaint.
Democrats are driving the proceedings toward what some hope is a vote to impeach, or indict, Trump by year’s end. They have launched a coordinated messaging and polling strategy aimed at keeping any political backlash in closely divided districts from toppling their House majority.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund, an outside group that supports GOP House candidates, was starting anti-impeachment digital ads on Monday against three House Democrats from districts Trump won in 2016.
The ads by the Congressional Leadership Fund accuse Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan of “tearing us apart” and are among the first in which Republicans are trying to use the impeachment issue against Democratic candidates.
However, support across America for impeachment has grown significantly from its level before the House launched its formal inquiry last week.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows 47% of registered voters say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 47% say he should not be. Just a week before, it was 37% for impeachment and 57 percent against. That was before the White House released its rough version of the call between Trump and Ukraine’s president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry.
In a CNN poll, 47% said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, up from 41% in May.
Both polls show that dramatic partisan polarization remains on impeachment, with most Democrats expressing support and the vast majority of Republicans opposed. The polls disagree over whose opinions are changing — Quinnipiac showing increased impeachment support coming more from Democrats, CNN from Republicans.
Schiff said on Sunday that his intelligence panel would hear from the still-secret whistleblower “very soon” but that no date had been set and that other details remained to be worked out.
A day after Trump demanded to meet the whistleblower, whom he has repeatedly assailed, he said when asked about the person: “Well, we’re trying to find out about a whistleblower” who made his “perfect” call “sound terrible.”
The whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, said Monday that the person “is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this, and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.”
Separately, the Justice Department disclosed that Trump recently asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other foreign leaders to help Attorney General William Barr with an investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation that has shadowed his administration for more than two years.
Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Trump made the calls at Barr’s request.
Trump was requesting help for U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The investigation outraged Trump, who cast it as a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
The Russia probe remains Trump’s motivating factor, according to Tom Bossert, the president’s former homeland security adviser.
“I honestly believe this president has not gotten his pound of flesh yet from past grievances on the 2016 investigation,” Bossert said Sunday on ABC. “If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”
Iron Gate on Archer opened its doors in late August, but the nonprofit kitchen and food pantry was officially dedicated in a ceremony Monday morning.
“They say if you build it, they will come,” Executive Director Carrie Vesely Henderson told a crowd. “And, boy, have they.”
The 41-year-old nonprofit opened its new location at 501 W. Archer St. on Aug. 26, and since then, volunteers have provided almost 22,000 meals, more than 3,000 bags of groceries and more than 1,000 Kids’ Packs, Vesely Henderson said.
Father Jack Powers opened the ceremony with a prayer, thanking God for the generosity of donors, before Vesely Henderson shared the story of how Iron Gate came to be.
More than four decades ago, Powers, Keenan Barnard and Gene Buzzard walked outside of a Sunday School class at Trinity Episcopal Church and saw a hungry homeless man. They fed him a sandwich, and they haven’t stopped feeding people since, she said.
“The word then spread,” Vesely Henderson said. “If you’re hungry, go to the church with the iron gate.
“That’s how Iron Gate came to be: A need met by a simple act of kindness.”
Jason Milligan was one of hundreds who took part in the meal after the ceremony, and he stopped to bow his head before he began eating on the patio.
“It isn’t guaranteed to us,” he said, reflecting on the years he spent in and out of the penitentiary and the fact that people are willing to help feed him. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes.”
Iron Gate’s guiding words are showcased on an outer wall above the patio seating: “We are all guests on this earth, and guests treat one another with courtesy, kindness and respect.”
Jeff Carr, who has been homeless in Tulsa since he retired in January, ate lunch and ice cream next to a string quartet in the dining area.
He said he has been homeless in large cities on both coasts before, but the hospitality he’s found in Tulsa is unlike any he’s experienced anywhere else.
“You know God’s got his hand on Tulsa,” he said.
Bill Major, executive director of the Zarrow Family Foundations, told the crowd he was pleased that the facility is open. Although it was challenging to find the right place, Major said the location is “great” for collaboration with other facilities along Archer, such as the Day Center for the Homeless.
Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith called the facility an “incredible labor of love” and said it will serve well to lift the Archer corridor in development.
Shane Saunders read a city proclamation declaring Sept. 30 “Iron Gate Day,” and Board Chair Mindy Morrison Taylor ended the ceremony with an open invitation.
“Join us,” she said. “Join us in our mission to feed the hungry every day. We need you. Please volunteer. Please donate.”
For more information or to volunteer at Iron Gate, visit irongatetulsa.org.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Jennifer Murphy talks about the Tulsa Police new reading program and school supply handout at the Darlington Apartments.
On a day when the California governor signed a controversial bill allowing college athletes to profit from endorsements and hire agents, coaches in Oklahoma were unsure of what the long-term impact on their programs would be.
“I know it’s several years before it goes into effect,” OU football coach Lincoln Riley said Monday. “It’ll be interesting to see. I don’t know. I don’t know that I’ve put a ton of thought around it right now. We’ve got a little time to do that.”
While the measure is set to take effect in California in 2023, similar bills are being introduced in other states, setting the stage for a major clash with the NCAA likely to be resolved in court.
“The issue you have is what if one state does it and a different state doesn’t?” said Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State’s football coach. “What does the NCAA do? There’s your attorneys on a state and federal level making a killing. They’re lined up out there saying, ‘I’d love to take that case.’ ”
Gundy said players wouldn’t make as much on autographs, for example, as people think but “if the players get a chance to make a little money, pay ’em a little money. I don’t see a big deal in that.”
The NCAA responded to the California bill by saying “a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field” — a significant concern for colleges across the country.
“I just think we haven’t figured it out yet, in terms of how to handle some of the issues in college athletics,” Tulsa basketball coach Frank Haith said. “I don’t have a strong opinion (on the bill) one way or the other … but I think it’s going to be hard to do that and have a level playing field.”
Under the current model, the NCAA has amateurism rules in place that prevent college athletes from being compensated as a result of the use of their name, image or likeness. Receiving money for those would result in a loss of eligibility.
“We all complain about the NCAA at times, but it has been uniform,” Gundy said. “The speed limit’s the speed limit. That’s one great thing about this country — for the most part we try to stay uniform. We all follow the same laws. The NCAA, people complain about it, but they have done that. The system is in place.”
The move by California is making waves and prompting debate on a hot topic in college sports, but it’s also raising more questions than answers.
“I would hope that for the sake of sports and all that’s good with college sports that everybody doesn’t just think about themselves or trying to win a vote or this or that,” Riley said. “I hope everybody really thinks about the big-picture view of this, because this is a big deal, obviously. We have a great thing going and hopefully don’t screw it up.”
Tulsa Police Sgt. Jennifer Murphy talks about the Tulsa Police new reading program and school supply handout at the Darlington Apartments.
The city of Tulsa initially said Monday that it would adhere to a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling clearing the way for women to be topless in public.
Then Mayor G.T. Bynum received word that the state Attorney General’s Office had a different opinion of the ruling, and like that, the city changed its position.
“When the attorney general of the state of Oklahoma tells you that state law still applies, then I take that very seriously,” Bynum said. “So we will continue to enforce state law based on that guidance from the AG.”
In response to the federal court ruling, approximately 40 to 50 topless men and women participated in a Topless Trail Skate in Tulsa on Sunday evening.
The event was sponsored by Skate the 918 and was reportedly in support of the national “Free the Nipple” movement.
Bynum said he knew being mayor would come with challenges. But topless roller skaters? That one surprised him — and irked him.
“Honestly, I just thought, ‘I just want to fix our streets and make the city safer and bring great employers to Tulsa and great employees to Tulsa,’ ” the mayor said. “And this is not the kind of thing as mayor you wake up in the morning hoping that this is the issue that you will have to spend a bunch of time working on.
“But, unfortunately, you have some judges sitting in chambers making decisions that have the potential to impact cities all over the country. I was just annoyed this was something that we would have to spend time working on when I can list 100 things that are a better use of public employees’ time and taxpayer dollars.”
Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a press release Monday saying the 10th Circuit court ruling striking down a Colorado city’s ban on women going topless in public does not automatically invalidate Oklahoma state and local laws.
“The Tenth Circuit’s preliminary decision in the Fort Collins case — a case that has now ended without a full adjudication — does not change local and state laws in Oklahoma on the subject,” Hunter said. “The majority of courts around the country that have examined this issue have upheld traditional public decency and public nudity laws.
“These courts have recognized that states and political subdivisions have a legitimate interest in prohibiting public nudity as traditionally defined.”
Two women, Brittiany Hoagland and Samantha Six, sued the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, arguing that a ban there violated their equal protection rights. The city decided it would not appeal the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which upheld a previous federal court ruling in the women’s favor.
The 10th Circuit has jurisdiction over federal cases in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma, and its rulings are binding on all federal district courts in those states.
The Oklahoma attorney general’s news release states that the 10th Circuit made a preliminary conclusion about the Fort Collins ordinance but did not ultimately decide the constitutionality of the law.
“Because the Fort Collins ordinance was repealed, the 10th Circuit’s ruling likely cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court,” the press release says. “In conclusion, the 10th Circuit’s ruling is not binding on Oklahoma state courts.”
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar ordinance in Springfield, Missouri, prohibiting women from exposing their breasts in public, the AG’s press release notes. In 2017, the 7th Circuit upheld a topless ban in Chicago, according to the AG’s Office.
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings are not binding outside the circuits in which they were issued.