5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • GOP Sen. Johnson tries to undermine impeachment inquiry witness Alexander Vindman

  • Trump's doctor says unannounced hospital visit was a 'planned interim checkup'

  • IRS whistleblower reportedly met with Senate staffers

  • Pompeo: Israeli settlements in West Bank not 'inconsistent with international law'

  • Chick-fil-A cuts off donations to 2 charities considered anti-LGBTQ

On the eve of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's public testimony before House impeachment investigators, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent a letter to House Republicans on Monday, questioning Vindman's credibility. Vindman is the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert and a Purple Heart recipient. He listened to President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and shared his concerns over Trump's request that Zelensky launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. In his letter, Johnson opines that there are "bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch" who have "never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their 'turf.' They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile."

Source: Politico

Hoping to end speculation about President Trump's surprise weekend visit to Walter Reed Medical Center, the White House released a memo on Monday night written by Trump's physician, who said the "trip was kept off the record" due to "scheduling uncertainties." On Saturday, Trump underwent a "routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year," Dr. Sean Conley said. Trump has "not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues," he continued. "Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations." Several doctors who treated former presidents and vice presidents said they found the unannounced hospital visit concerning.

Source: CNN, YouTube

A career official at the Internal Revenue Service who filed a whistleblower complaint over the summer, accusing at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department of trying to interfere with an audit of President Trump's tax returns, met with Senate Finance Committee staff members earlier this month, a congressional aide told The New York Times. The whistleblower spoke with staffers for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Finance Committee. The whistleblower contacted the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee in July, claiming that political appointees were getting involved in the audit and putting pressure of some kind on senior IRS officials, the Times reports. Details of the allegations remain unclear, and the House Ways and Means Committee is still reviewing the complaint.

Source: The New York Times

The United States will no longer automatically consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be "inconsistent with international law," as they were found under a 1978 State Department legal opinion, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday. The Trump administration has taken a softer stance on several issues related to Israel's interests in the region; Washington in 2017 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy to the city in 2018. Pompeo's words were not received warmly among Palestinians. Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, criticized the announcement on Twitter. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, said the announcement "rights a historical wrong."

Source: Reuters

Chick-fil-A is ending its donations to two charities frequently regarded as anti-LGBTQ after years of protests over their ties. While it didn't acknowledge the groups' allegedly anti-LGBTQ records, the fast food chain said Monday it will stop donations to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as it reworks its charitable giving arm. The Salvation Army and FCA were major recipients of Chik-fil-A Foundation donations in 2018. But next year, the foundation says it will shift its donations to "key organizations that address education, homelessness and hunger," and those charities aren't on the list. The move comes after years of boycotts and protests over Chik-fil-A's ties to these and other organizations. The Salvation Army has denied claims that it is discriminatory.

Source: The Washington Post
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