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Mulvaney acknowledges 2016 election investigation was tied to Ukraine aid freeze
Former GOP rep to Dems: ‘Get over it’ — politics will always shape U.S. foreign policy

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney reacts to a question during a briefing at the White House on Thursday. Mulvaney took questions relating to the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and other issues during the briefing. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s acting White House chief of staff contended Thursday the administration’s hold on a nearly $400 million military aid package to Ukraine had “absolutely nothing” to do with Trump’s desire for Kyiv to investigate his then-top Democratic rival. But it was linked to the 2016 U.S. election.

Mick Mulvaney acknowedged Trump held up the aid, in part, because of his concerns — rooted in conservative media — that Ukrainian officials worked to aid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and prevent him from winning the White House. Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate whether a hacked Democratic National Committee server that was penetrated in 2016 resides in that country. The conservative conspiracy theory has been widely debunked.

Office of Congressional Ethics has transmitted four matters to Ethics Committee for further review
Cases are deemed by OCE to have a ‘substantial reason’ to believe a violation may have occurred

Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., right, has a campaign finance matter currently before the House Ethics Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The independent investigative entity that examines ethical transgressions of House lawmakers has undertaken five new matters to review potential misconduct and transmitted four cases to the House Ethics Committee for further review in the third quarter.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, according to its latest activity report released Thursday, deemed those four matters contain a “substantial reason” to believe a violation may have occurred. 

Pence says Turkey has agreed to cease fire in northern Syria
Trump has faced a bipartisan backlash over pulling U.S. troops from buffer zone along Turkey-Syria border

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on Thursday as Turkish forces try to extend their control of more of northern Syria, which is currently held by Syrian Kurds. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced later Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a cease fire in the area. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Turkish government that would allow for a cessation of fighting in northeast Syria where Syrian Kurds have been getting hammered for the last week.

Specifics of the ceasefire, which was to last for 120 hours, were initially scarce but Pence at a news conference in Ankara alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was already being implemented.

White House picks Trump resort in Florida for G-7 summit
Democrats and others have said holding major summit at Trump property could violate Constitution

A Trump National Doral sign is seen at the golf resort owned by President Donald Trump’s company in August in Doral, Florida. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the U.S. will host the next G7 gathering at the golf resort. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The White House has selected Trump National Doral Miami as the site of next year’s G7 summit despite criticism from Democrats and others that President Donald Trump owns the resort.

The summit will be held June 10-12. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said there were about 12 candidate sites. Democrats and others have said holding any major summit at a Trump property could violate the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which bars presidents from receiving compensation from foreign governments.

State officials dissolved company long before $500K deal with Giuliani
‘Fraud Guarantee’ linked to Ukrainian American accused of illegal campaign contribution to Trump PAC

Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm reportedly got a $500,000 consulting fee from a company that was reported as inactive years earlier by Florida officials. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

State officials in Florida may have dissolved a company linked to a Ukrainian-American businessman facing campaign finance charges long before Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm reportedly was paid $500,000 to provide business and legal advice.

The company in question is called Fraud Guarantee. Its website lists as its co-founder and CEO Lev Parnas, who allegedly worked with Giuliani to urge Ukrainian officials to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Parnas was indicted last week on charges that included making an illegal campaign contribution through a shell corporation to a PAC that supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 17
Ambassador Sondland on the Hill, investigation goes on despite Cummings’ death

Gordon Sondland, second from left, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives at the Capitol on Thursday for his deposition as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a key player in the investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, is testifying this morning before the three House Committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

Capitol Hill was shocked by the death of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of the three committees conducting the impeachment investigations, but didn't affect the ambassador’s appearance.

Rep. Elijah Cummings fondly remembered by Democrats, Republicans
‘No better friend than Elijah Cummings,’ GOP Rep. Mark Meadows says of late Maryland Democrat

Then-ranking member Elijah Cummings laughs with then-chairman Jason Chaffetz during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting at the beginning of the 115th Congress in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday after longtime health complications, threaded a needle that few recent chairmen and chairwomen of high-profile investigative committees have been able to manage: He remained widely popular among his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform over the last 10 months and a key player in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, Cummings has been on the receiving end of a stream of invective from a frustrated White House.

Can church ever be separate from state at a Franklin Graham rally?
Spiritual leader’s message of love and unity isn’t reaching all backers of the president he supports so strongly

“We live in a political world, so we can’t avoid politics,” the Rev. Franklin Graham said at a recent Charlotte, N.C., rally. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

[OPINION] CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After the Rev. Billy Graham became less a counselor of presidents and more a political player, particularly in the unfortunate case of Richard Nixon, he learned a lesson. The Rev. Franklin Graham, heir to his father’s legacy, has chosen a different path, arguably becoming as well known for his politics as for his role as a spiritual leader.

Considering his remarks as he brought his “Decision America” tour to his hometown this past weekend, it’s a box Graham the younger is not exactly comfortable being placed in. But for the preacher who credited the “God factor,” in part, for Donald Trump’s 2016 win, that narrative is set. Vocal support of the president pre- and post-election exists right alongside his philanthropic and mission outreach — such as recent efforts in the Bahamas — through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

House Democrats sharpen counterattacks to Republican impeachment process complaints
Democrats say this part of the inquiry needs to be conducted behind closed doors but public portions coming

From left, Reps. Andy Harris of Maryland, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Steve King of Iowa speak to reporters Wednesday after being denied access to transcripts because they aren't on the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry. Democrats have begun to change tack on their response to GOP messaging on the probe. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats in recent days have sharpened their counterattacks to Republican assertions that they’re running an illegitimate and nontransparent impeachment process. 

The rebukes represent a shift in messaging strategy as Democrats had largely been trying to avoid engaging in a back-and-forth about process, arguing the GOP was manufacturing concerns to avoid having to defend President Donald Trump on the substance of the impeachment inquiry.

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