The words Trump had to hear: Investigations, Biden, Clinton — There were three words President Donald Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine president: Investigations, Biden, Clinton. That’s according to the transcript, released Thursday, of an impeachment inquiry interview with career State Department official George Kent. “Potus wanted nothing less than President Zelenskiy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,” Kent testified. “Basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand.” Kent told investigators that that was his understanding of what Trump wanted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to say in order to unlock U.S. military aid, as relayed to the official by others, including those in direct contact with the president.
Envoy in Syria highly critical of troop withdrawal — A senior American diplomat has written a highly critical assessment of the Trump administration’s abrupt withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria last month, a decision that paved the way for an attack on U.S.-allied forces in the area, officials said Thursday. In an internal memo, William Roebuck, the top American diplomat in northern Syria, takes the Trump administration to task for not doing more to prevent Turkey’s invasion or protect the Kurds, who fought alongside U.S. forces in the battle against the Islamic State group, according to two U.S. officials.
Bloomberg opens door to run for president — Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is opening the door to a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, warning that the current field of candidates is ill equipped to defeat President Donald Trump. Bloomberg, who initially ruled out a 2020 run, has not made a final decision on whether to jump into the race.
Judge fines Trump $2M for misusing foundation — A judge Thursday ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million to an array of charities as a fine for misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests. New York state Judge Saliann Scarpulla imposed the penalty after the president admitted to a series of abuses outlined in a lawsuit brought against him last year by the New York attorney general’s office.