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Capitol Ink | Full Speed Ahead

Trump thumbs nose at impeachment, Dems by hosting Putin’s top diplomat
Russia expert on Oval meeting: ‘It could either enable or obstruct progress on Ukraine’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference to unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

As President Donald Trump live-tweeted his reaction to House Democrats’ impeachment articles, his spokeswoman vowed he would “continue to work on behalf of this country.” Hours later, that business included huddling privately with Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat in the Oval Office.

Trump essentially thumbed his nose at Democrats as they continued linking his July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine’s president to an alleged affinity for Russia’s as he hosted Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s minister of foreign affairs. If Lavrov steps foot in the Oval Office, it’s a safe bet there is a controversy nearby.

DOJ watchdog finds problems, not politics in Trump campaign probe
Report does not back president’s most sweeping criticisms of FBI investigation

Michael Horowitz, inspector general of the Justice Department, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The FBI had enough evidence to launch a criminal probe into members of President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election, and political bias did not motivate that decision, a Justice Department watchdog concluded.

But DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz also identified “significant concerns” with how the FBI handled aspects of the investigation, particularly how it handled applications to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to a secret court that oversees such requests.

White House tells Dems it won’t cooperate with Judiciary impeachment hearings
Top lawyer tells Congress to end proceedings

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone indicated the White House would not participate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone signaled to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler Friday that President Donald Trump will not have his attorneys take part in his panel’s remaining impeachment hearings.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” he wrote in a brief letter that never states the White House will not participate but makes Trump’s feeling about the probe clear.

Trump jokes about White House ‘Russian Room’ at UN lunch
‘We’ll take care of that,’ US president tells Moscow’s ambassador to UN

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump just can’t help himself sometimes — not even when it comes to Russia, the country that has dogged his entire presidency.

Amid an impeachment scandal related to his dealings with Ukraine — which the Kremlin invaded in 2014 — Trump dropped a quip Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s homeland.

White House says it’s ready for impeachment votes and trial
However, one Trump aide says: ‘We don’t know if Pelosi has the votes or not’

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone leaves the Capitol after attending the Senate Republicans' lunch  Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump and senior aides reacted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that articles of impeachment are coming by essentially calling for a vote and a Senate trial.

The White House messaging is similar to that used by President Bill Clinton and his aides in 1998: pressing lawmakers to expedite the impeachment process and Senate trial so Washington can focus on other matters.

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A tale of two days — and tones — for Trump as he wraps wild NATO meeting
As president urges alliance to ‘get along with Russia,’ GOP chairman warns relations between two countries are at ‘low point’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, gestures to Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, right, while President Donald Trump looks on as NATO leaders leave the stage after having a group photo taken at the summit in London on Wednesday. (Peter Nicholls/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump shifted from an aggressive and attacking offense on the first day of a NATO summit in London to a more defensive posture on its second and final day.

Trump resorted to name-calling Wednesday as he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed their on-again/off-again feud. The president called Trudeau “two-faced” after the Canadian prime minister was caught on a hot mic Tuesday evening mocking his American counterpart for delaying other leaders by holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters that altered the agenda.

Washington Democratic Rep. Denny Heck not running for reelection
Heck said investigating Russian election interference and impeachment ‘have rendered my soul weary’

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., is not running for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Denny Heck announced Wednesday that he is not running for reelection. The Washington Democrat, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, cited the impeachment investigation as part of the reason for his retirement.

“The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary,” Heck wrote in a Medium post.