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Latest from Rick Couri

    The biggest crowd to cram into HA Chapman stadium will be on hand as the Cowboy’s visit Tulsa for the first of several games in the newly renewed series. Take a look below for all the info you need. THE GAME CAPSULE: The Game: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium on the TU campus Game time: 2:35 p.m. Hurricane Alley: Opens at 11:30 a.m. on Chapman Commons Team Walk: Approximately 12:15 p.m. from Collins Hall on 8th Street (east of the Fountains) Gates Open: 1:00 p.m. For Tickets: Online at www.TulsaHurricane.com or call 918.631.GoTU (4688) Tickets on Game Day: The Reynolds Center Ticket Office will be open on Saturday from 9-12 p.m. Stadium ticket booths will open at 1:00 p.m. The ticket booths are located at the four corners of the stadium. CASH only is accepted at the ticket booths on east side; credit cards will be accepted at the west side ticket booths. Will Call Windows: Open at 1:00 p.m. Ticket Prices: $75 TV Coverage: ESPN 2 Radio: Big Country 99.5 FM  CAIN’S ON CHAPMAN CONCERT SERIES: Hurricane Alley is located on Chapman Commons and provides fans an entertainment area prior to the game. Hurricane Alley will open at 11:30 a.m. for the Tulsa-Oklahoma State game. Concert with past American Idol contestant and Nashville Recording Artist Emily Brooke will begin at 12:30 p.m. Inflatable games for kids, TU Alumni Association Tent and Beer Garden Open and more is part of the pre-game festivities on Chapman Commons. 11th STREET BLOCK PARTY PRESENTED BY COX: The 11th Street Block party presented by COX will take place on 11th street from 11-2 p.m. (11th street between Harvard and Delaware Avenues will be closed beginning at 7 a.m.) The block party features food trucks, beer & wine, seating areas, inflatable and vendors. TEAM WALK: The Tulsa Team Walk from Collins Hall (east of the Fountains) to the locker room down 8th Street takes place at approximately 12:15 p.m.  PARKING: PAY lots are open on the north side of campus at East 4th and Harvard Ave. and the East 4th Place and Harvard/Keplinger Lot. Other parking lots on campus are designated as credentialed lots.  CLEAR BAG POLICY… The University of Tulsa has implemented a clear bag policy that limits the size and types of bags that may be brought in by fans to ticketed venues. The University strongly encourages all fans not to bring unauthorized types of bags to H.A. Chapman Stadium Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12' x 6' x 12' are allowed.  Fans are able to carry the following style and size of bag, package, or container into the stadium: · One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar). · Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand (4.5” x 6.5”), with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the venue with one of the clear plastic bags. · An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection. · Spectators also will be able to carry other items allowed in such as binoculars and cameras, but their cases will not be allowed. · Working personnel, including accredited news media, will continue to enter through designated gates where they will be subject to screening and bag inspections of the same manner as in the past.  GAMEDAY TWITTER: For up-to-date game day information including stadium information, parking and weather updates follow the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Gameday Operations Twitter Account @TULSA_GameOps  HYDRATION STATIONS: Complimentary hydration stations and cool zones will feature free water and misters for fans to battle the heat.  THE KIDS ZONE: The Kids Zone Area inside the stadium is located behind Section 114 (southwest side of the stadium). This area features bounce houses, games and more.  SEASON TICKET HOLDERS/OTHER VISITORS: Season Ticket Holders and other visitors to the stadium are requested to enter through Gates 1, 1A, 2, 3, 5, 6A & 7.  TICKET PURCHASES: Tickets may be purchased at the ticket booths located at each of the four corners of the stadium beginning 1.5 hours prior to prior to kickoff. Cash only is accepted at the east side ticket booths, credit cards will be accepted at the west side ticket booths.  Will Call: General Will Call tickets can be picked up at the Reynolds Center ticket office. TU Player Pass Will Call (Gate 2) and Visitors’ Will Call (Gate 6). Will Call opens 1.5 hours prior to kickoff.  Student Gate (GATE 6A): TU students are encouraged to enter the stadium through Gate 6A. Students must present a valid TU Student ID card, which will be scanned upon entry.  Handicap: Special entrances are provided at Gates 1, 1A, 6A and 7 for those guests with special needs and disabilities. Handicap Parking is available in the south corner of the Lorton Village Parking Lot, west of the stadium. These spaces are reserved strictly for those vehicles displaying a valid Handicap Parking Permit. Handicap seating is available on the west side of the stadium in Sections 114-117, south end zone in Sections 109, 110 and 113, and Sections 105-108 on the east side of the stadium. Contact the TU Athletic Ticket Office at 918.631.4688 for tickets in the handicap seating areas.  No Re-Entry: There is NO Re-entry allowed, other than for medical emergencies. To ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone at H.A. Chapman Stadium, re-entry will not be allowed once you have left the stadium.  Emergencies: Medical assistance is available in the southwest corner of H.A. Chapman Stadium (near Gate 1). EMSA is present during each game. If an emergency arises, ask the nearest usher for assistance. The emergency phone number for H.A. Chapman Stadium is 918.631.3664 or 918.631.5555.  Telephones: Cell phone charging stations provided by Lexus will be located on the east and west sides of the stadium. There are no public pay phones located in H.A. Chapman Stadium.  ATM: ATM’s are located west of the Press Box, behind Section 116 on Thomas Plaza, and behind Section 107 on the east side of the stadium.  Public Address System: The PA system is intended primarily for spectators’ information concerning the game. Please do not request use of the PA system to make social contacts.  Restrooms: Restrooms are located underneath the stands on the east side of H.A. Chapman Stadium. On the west side, restrooms are located next to the concession stands along Thomas Plaza.  Lost and Found: Lost and found items can be dropped off and claimed at the Security Command Post on the west side of the stadium, north of the Thomas A. Johnston Atrium, behind Section 118.  Concession Stands: Concession stands and food vendors are located throughout the stadium. Main concession areas include underneath the east stands, in the lower level of the apartments west of Thomas Plaza, and throughout Thomas Plaza on the west side of the stadium. Stand-alone beer stands are also available on both sides of the stadium. Beer is sold through the 3rd quarter.  Prohibited Items: The following items are prohibited in H.A. Chapman Stadium: bags larger than 12”x6”x12”, firearms or weapons of any type, camcorders, umbrellas, folding chairs, outside food and beverages, alcoholic beverages, thermos jugs and ice chests. Artificial noisemakers of any kind are prohibited. Use of any tobacco product (including electronic cigarettes) is prohibited in all seating areas, restrooms, elevators, press box levels and on the field. Heightened security measures are in effect. Bag and purse checks will occur prior to entering the stadium.  Banners: H.A. Chapman Stadium banners must be approved the week prior to the game. For approval, contact Drew Friedman via email at drf149@utulsa.edu or by calling 918.631.2323. Unapproved banners may be removed from the stadium by event personnel.  Field Regulations / Press Box: No person is permitted on the playing field before, during, or after the game without proper credentials as issued by The University of Tulsa Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or unless accompanied by athletics personnel. Press Box access is strictly prohibited without proper credential.  Request for Assistance: Requests for assistance should be directed to the ushers located throughout the stadium, or to the Security Command Post (located under the west stands).    
  • Linde Oktoberfest, the annual celebration of German food, music, and culture is less than two months away, and assistance putting on the party is needed! Both USA Today and Condé Nast Traveler Magazine have rated Tulsa’s Oktoberfest as top five in the nation. Title sponsor Linde engineering brings out dozens of people to help, but more than 1,000 volunteers are still needed. Those involved will pour, sell, guide, lift, and Chicken Dance through the run of the show. Everyone pitching in will get a few perks, like a volunteer t-shirt, admittance to the volunteer hospitality zone, and a special invitation for you and a guest to attend the post-festival thank-you party. You can find a way to take part here. Linde Oktoberfest takes over River West Festival Park from October 17th through the 20th.
  • KRMG just received the following note from Sand Springs police. Our 911 service and non-emergency lines have been affected by a fire at the AT&T offices in Tulsa. YOU MAY CALL (918-246-2546) FOR ASSISTANCE from SSPD/SSFD or EMSA. We will only have one line operational right now, so please do not call this number for general questions, only for emergencies. We will stage officers and firefighters who are not assigned to calls to the following locations that you can go to if you need help: City Hall - 100 E. Broadway QT North - 200 S. Highway 97 Charles Page High School - 500 n. Adams Road QT South - 2 E. 41st Corner of 41st and 129th W. Ave.
  • NASA is sending a rover flight to the Red Planet in 2020. They want you to be part of it. On the web page NASA 2020, the agency writes;  'As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,' said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. ‘It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.’ The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and 'frequent flyer' points. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA's journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each 'flight,' with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA's InSight mission to Mars, giving each 'flyer' about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers). From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here. Good luck, we’re not sure if there will be snacks on the flight.
  • With more than 160,000 cubic feet of water per second gushing out of Keystone Dam and more rain expected over the next few days, the city if Tulsa wants you to know more about flooding. The city released an updated flood map you can access by tapping on the link below. Keystone Dam Inundation Map  The map shows the path of the Arkansas river from Keystone Lake all the way past Muskogee, Webers Falls, and into Ft. Smith. The city suggests using the map to get a good idea about how much any property you own or rent could be affected by the release. With more severe weather possible tonight, keep KRMG close-by so you can be prepared and  know the latest about the weather.
  • Reports began coming in to emergency workers just before 8 am, saying the workers platform was “swinging wildly out of control,” at the Devon Energy building in Oklahoma City.  The Oklahoma City Fire department tweeted the video below showing the platform smashing into the building, breaking glass. Crews now report the basket is once again secured and the two workers inside are secure and being checked by medics.
  • Police say Sarah Hill, a non-custodial parent, picked Austin up from school Monday and went missing.  Cops tell is Sarah was driving a maroon, 2007 Mazda CX-7 with license plate EKP237. Police ask anyone with information to call 918-968-2733.                    
  • It’s been a productive first 100 days for Jenks businessman Kevin Stitt. That’s according to the man himself, and those working for him.  “We’ve gone from legislature vs governor, cabinet secretary vs cabinet secretary, to everyone working together,” Commerce secretary Sean Kouplen told us.  Stitt believes his biggest step forward is requiring accountability. But he tells the KRMG Morning News he’s also enjoying the job. “People ask me what’s the biggest surprise, and I tell them it’s how much fun I’m having,” he began. “It’s so cool to get a new job and to really be enjoying it.” Joining the KRMG Morning News for an in-depth hour on his first 100 days, Stitt told us work is getting done in a different way.  “I am bringing a different environment and atmosphere to the capitol.” Lieutenant governor Matt Pinnell is pleased to see the governor instill a sense of accountability. “I come into my cabinet meetings every week and we’re not just sitting around shooting the breeze,” he told KRMG. “We have real metrics,” he added. “ What are our one month goals, what are our two month goals, what are our quarterly and one-year goals,” he went on. Stitt promises to continue his high energy approach, something Kouplen believes will happen. “If I’ve heard him say ‘move the needle’ once, I’ve heard him say it 100 times,” Kouplen chuckled. Join the KRMG Morning News from 8 am-9 am today to hear governor Stitt and some of his key cabinet members as we cover their biggest achievements, and plans for the future. Listen to the entire hour here.
  • Employees at the Skunk Grow Supply near Memorial and 51st say they are hoping to identify a man and woman who allegedly burglarized their business. Officials told FOX23 and KRMG the two walked in and stole a grow tent, worth about $130. But this is the second time they’ve had a similar situation. The first time someone walked out with more than $2,000 worth of equipment. Surveillance video captured the moment the two suspects started running out the door and toward their car in the parking lot. That’s when one of the owners and a customer who had been helping expand the location started chasing the two. One of the men jumped on top of the car. The owner says they’re  concerned for their safety, and plan to take extra safety precautions in the future.
  • The Woody Guthrie Center showcase of memorabilia includes movie posters, movie props, and other items from the Outsiders movie. “We’re thrilled to help support and promote this incredible addition to the Tulsa arts,” Deana McCloud told us during a recent visit to the museum. Her personal favorite in the collection is clear. “Dallas Winston,” she exclaimed while pointing at the leather jacket worn by actor Matt Dillon as he portrayed the character. “Who didn’t love watching Dallas Winston just saunter with that swag, just right down the street,” she went on. The exhibit offers a sneak peek at other items from the Francis Ford Coppola film based on the S.E. Hinton novel McCloud connected with so completely. “I can see myself in this story,” she began. “I can see my friends, this is the real world, not just something an adult wrote.” Included are screen-worn wardrobe items such as Matt Dillon's leather jacket, a hooded sweatshirt worn by C. Thomas Howell in the 'Rumble,' as wells as behind-the-scenes photography, call sheets, and a signed script. The exhibit will remain on display until the opening of the museum, that date is not yet been announced. Listen to the entire interview with Deana here.
  • Rick Couri

    Managing Editor

    Rick Couri began his career with KRMG in 1982 and has since done "everything you could do" at the station. Rick has covered top sporting events such as the Olympic Games, the World Series, football bowl games and championship tennis. He even spent a day with boxing great Muhammad Ali. On the news side Rick was in Joplin and Moore hours after F-5 tornados. He’s also covered political conventions and a presidential visit.

    Rick is entering his 32nd year as the color voice for TU basketball, and 16th year as the play-by-play voice for Union football. He’s also broadcast Tulsa basketball, Oklahoma State football, and spent seven years as the voice of the Tulsa Talons Arena league football team.

    Rick and Christine, his wife of 28-years, have three children. Son Kelly (38), and his wife Jill, are the parents of granddaughters Hayden, and Hannah. 34-year-old daughter Lindsey works for Union public schools, and 21-year-old daughter Delaney Catalina is a senior education major at Texas A&M University. When away from the microphone, Rick is a 22 year PADI scuba instructor. He and his family have a dive instruction company, http://www.okiescuba.com/. While Rick will tell you he is a "sports guy", those familiar with the Tulsa market know Rick's influence extends well outside the circle of sports. As Co-host of the KRMG Morning News, Rick has interviewed everyone from local celebrities to national figures.  A community leader who gives of his time and talent, Rick's commitment to the annual funding campaign for Operation Aware has resulted in over $1.3 million dollars being raised for this important charity. KRMG listeners have learned to appreciate Rick's insightful reporting and have developed a trust unique in today's media personalities. 

    Read More
  • The first day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump will feature two State Department witnesses who raised questions about actions in Ukraine by the President's personal lawyer, with one alarmed by Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine the former U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, and another who saw Giuliani leading an effort to press for investigations desired by Mr. Trump. 'Mr. Giuliani was almost unmissable starting in mid-March,' Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified, saying Giuliani conducted a 'campaign of slander' against former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. 'I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani,' said William Taylor, now the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who said he was worried about entering a 'snake pit' involving Giuliani. Here is some of what we might expect from these two witnesses in the first day of impeachment hearings. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE GEORGE KENT - After working at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, Kent returned to the State Department in the second half of 2018, taking on a post where he was responsible for Ukraine and five other eastern European nations often targeted by Russia. It was in that position where Kent said he witnessed the media attack which unfolded, spurred by Giuliani and conservative news media organs. In his impeachment deposition, Kent said an article by conservative journalist John Solomon spurred a sudden attack on Ambassador Yovanovitch and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine in general, which was then amplified by Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Kent said much of what was alleged, that Yovanovitch was bad mouthing President Trump, that she was working against Ukraine prosecutors, was simply false. 'It was, if not entirely made up in full cloth,' Kent testified, 'it was primarily non-truths and non-sequiturs.' Kent described how U.S. diplomats were blindsided by what was clearly a concerted campaign against the U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, spread over four days in March of 2019. It started first with arrows aimed at Ambassador Yovanovitch, but then spread to accusations against former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter, along with other charges mentioning conservative bogeyman George Soros - all of it given a push by President Trump, his son, conservative websites, and Fox News. The attacks on Yovanovitch came two weeks after she had been asked by the State Department to stay on in Ukraine until 2020 - but her extension would not survive the conservative media attacks against her. 'I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine 'on the next plane,'' Yovanovitch told Congressional investigators. She will testify on Friday. + WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires IN UKRAINE. With the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch, Taylor is the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Ukraine - basically the acting Ambassador. Several months after Yovanovitch had been ousted, Taylor described how the work of Giuliani had seemingly led to a situation where U.S. military aid for Ukraine was being withheld - in an effort to gain a quid pro quo - where the government of Ukraine would launch investigations sought by President Trump. 'By mid-Ju1y, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian influence in the 2016 elections,' Taylor said, referring to a focus on the Bidens, and the debunked theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - was behind the hacks of Democrats in 2016. Taylor said the impetus for the situation was obvious. 'It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani,' Taylor said in his closed door deposition. Mr. Taylor said he had determined that link in 'mid-July' - it was on July 25 that President Trump spoke with the leader of Ukraine, and spelled out the need for Ukraine to launch investigations into the Bidens, and the Ukraine-2016 elections theory, which included the evidence-free allegation that the hacked computer server from the Democratic National Committee was being hidden in Ukraine. Some Republicans have mocked the choice of Taylor as an opening witness, saying he has no firsthand knowledge of why the President would want investigations conducted related to the Bidens or the 2016 elections. 'No, I've never talked to the President,' Taylor said in his deposition. Look for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) to bring this up during the first day of questioning with Taylor. Three hearings have also been set for next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with eight different witnesses.
  • Hongjin Tan pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to committing theft of trade secrets from his employer.  Investigators say Tan used a thumb drive to copy hundreds of files.  His job at the company was to develop next generation battery technologies for stationary energy storage.  Tan’s LinkedIn profile lists his employer as Phillips 66 in Bartlesville.  Prosecutors say the defendant stole information on a development downstream energy market product worth more than $1 billion.  “Industrial spies like Hongjin Tan engage in espionage to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property born out of the innovation that is innate in our free market system,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores for the Northern District of Oklahoma.  'Trade secret theft is a serious crime which hurts American businesses and taxpayers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Melissa Godbold of the Oklahoma City Field Office. Sentencing is set for Feb. 12, 2020.
  • While President Donald Trump will welcome the Turkish leader to the White House on Wednesday, the last visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May of 2017 still echoes in Washington, D.C., when security guards for the Turkish President openly attacked protesters in an unprecedented act of violence less than two miles from the White House. With video that showed Erdoğan watching the pitched battle along what's known as 'Embassy Row' in the middle of Washington, D.C. - the Turkish leader's planned return drew sharp comments from Capitol Hill in recent days, as none of his guards were ever held accountable for the violence. 'This behavior is sadly routine for President Erdoğan on Turkish soil,' said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter this week to 'immediately' expel any of the guards involved in that 2017 violence if they are on this week's trip to Washington. 'The Erdoğan regime's use of violence against innocent civilians anywhere is inhumane, uncivilized, and unacceptable,' Cheney wrote. This was what the scene looked like on May 16, 2017, as Turkish security forces broke through police lines, and openly attacked protesters on the streets of the nation's capital. Some of the most graphic video was shot by the Voice of America's Turkish Service. At least nine people were injured in the attacks, which took place several hours after the Turkish leader met with President Trump. An in-depth review of multiple videos of the May 16, 2017, violence left no doubt as to the actions of the Erdoğan security detail, with descriptions of guards who 'punched a protestor' or 'kicked man on ground,' and 'knocked over woman, kicked man,' or 'choked, slammed woman.' You can see the New York Times video analysis of the violence at this link. In court documents revealed in recent days, U.S. security officials said the Turkish bodyguards also attacked American Secret Service agents during the incident, but were quickly spirited out of the country, and thus avoided any legal charges. A grand jury in Washington, D.C. indicted 15 Turkish security guards, but most of the charges were ultimately dropped. Several months after the incident, the Turkish leader said in an interview that President Trump had apologized for the incident - the White House denied that had occurred.
  • Voters who braved the cold for an off-year bond election overwhelmingly passed three propositions extending the Improve Our Tulsa package Tuesday.  The three bonds approved include one which addresses streets and transportation systems, a second which will fund improvements to parks and replace old city vehicles, and a third which directs new money into the city's “rainy day” fund. The list of projects is extensive; about 70% of the money, however, is earmarked for roads and transportation, a priority clearly established by voters during a series of town hall meetings held by the mayor and city council before - and after - they drafted the proposal. The majority of the funds will come from bond sales, funded by property taxes; the rest from the extension of existing sales taxes. The city's sales tax rate will remain the same, however the .05 cent (one-twentieth of a penny) sales tax which will fund the “rainy day” account becomes permanent. The Improve Our Tulsa package has a timetable of about six and a half years, at a cost of an estimated $639 million. 

Washington Insider

  • The first day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump will feature two State Department witnesses who raised questions about actions in Ukraine by the President's personal lawyer, with one alarmed by Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine the former U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, and another who saw Giuliani leading an effort to press for investigations desired by Mr. Trump. 'Mr. Giuliani was almost unmissable starting in mid-March,' Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified, saying Giuliani conducted a 'campaign of slander' against former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. 'I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani,' said William Taylor, now the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who said he was worried about entering a 'snake pit' involving Giuliani. Here is some of what we might expect from these two witnesses in the first day of impeachment hearings. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE GEORGE KENT - After working at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, Kent returned to the State Department in the second half of 2018, taking on a post where he was responsible for Ukraine and five other eastern European nations often targeted by Russia. It was in that position where Kent said he witnessed the media attack which unfolded, spurred by Giuliani and conservative news media organs. In his impeachment deposition, Kent said an article by conservative journalist John Solomon spurred a sudden attack on Ambassador Yovanovitch and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine in general, which was then amplified by Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Kent said much of what was alleged, that Yovanovitch was bad mouthing President Trump, that she was working against Ukraine prosecutors, was simply false. 'It was, if not entirely made up in full cloth,' Kent testified, 'it was primarily non-truths and non-sequiturs.' Kent described how U.S. diplomats were blindsided by what was clearly a concerted campaign against the U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, spread over four days in March of 2019. It started first with arrows aimed at Ambassador Yovanovitch, but then spread to accusations against former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter, along with other charges mentioning conservative bogeyman George Soros - all of it given a push by President Trump, his son, conservative websites, and Fox News. The attacks on Yovanovitch came two weeks after she had been asked by the State Department to stay on in Ukraine until 2020 - but her extension would not survive the conservative media attacks against her. 'I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine 'on the next plane,'' Yovanovitch told Congressional investigators. She will testify on Friday. + WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires IN UKRAINE. With the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch, Taylor is the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Ukraine - basically the acting Ambassador. Several months after Yovanovitch had been ousted, Taylor described how the work of Giuliani had seemingly led to a situation where U.S. military aid for Ukraine was being withheld - in an effort to gain a quid pro quo - where the government of Ukraine would launch investigations sought by President Trump. 'By mid-Ju1y, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian influence in the 2016 elections,' Taylor said, referring to a focus on the Bidens, and the debunked theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - was behind the hacks of Democrats in 2016. Taylor said the impetus for the situation was obvious. 'It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani,' Taylor said in his closed door deposition. Mr. Taylor said he had determined that link in 'mid-July' - it was on July 25 that President Trump spoke with the leader of Ukraine, and spelled out the need for Ukraine to launch investigations into the Bidens, and the Ukraine-2016 elections theory, which included the evidence-free allegation that the hacked computer server from the Democratic National Committee was being hidden in Ukraine. Some Republicans have mocked the choice of Taylor as an opening witness, saying he has no firsthand knowledge of why the President would want investigations conducted related to the Bidens or the 2016 elections. 'No, I've never talked to the President,' Taylor said in his deposition. Look for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) to bring this up during the first day of questioning with Taylor. Three hearings have also been set for next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with eight different witnesses.
  • While President Donald Trump will welcome the Turkish leader to the White House on Wednesday, the last visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May of 2017 still echoes in Washington, D.C., when security guards for the Turkish President openly attacked protesters in an unprecedented act of violence less than two miles from the White House. With video that showed Erdoğan watching the pitched battle along what's known as 'Embassy Row' in the middle of Washington, D.C. - the Turkish leader's planned return drew sharp comments from Capitol Hill in recent days, as none of his guards were ever held accountable for the violence. 'This behavior is sadly routine for President Erdoğan on Turkish soil,' said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter this week to 'immediately' expel any of the guards involved in that 2017 violence if they are on this week's trip to Washington. 'The Erdoğan regime's use of violence against innocent civilians anywhere is inhumane, uncivilized, and unacceptable,' Cheney wrote. This was what the scene looked like on May 16, 2017, as Turkish security forces broke through police lines, and openly attacked protesters on the streets of the nation's capital. Some of the most graphic video was shot by the Voice of America's Turkish Service. At least nine people were injured in the attacks, which took place several hours after the Turkish leader met with President Trump. An in-depth review of multiple videos of the May 16, 2017, violence left no doubt as to the actions of the Erdoğan security detail, with descriptions of guards who 'punched a protestor' or 'kicked man on ground,' and 'knocked over woman, kicked man,' or 'choked, slammed woman.' You can see the New York Times video analysis of the violence at this link. In court documents revealed in recent days, U.S. security officials said the Turkish bodyguards also attacked American Secret Service agents during the incident, but were quickly spirited out of the country, and thus avoided any legal charges. A grand jury in Washington, D.C. indicted 15 Turkish security guards, but most of the charges were ultimately dropped. Several months after the incident, the Turkish leader said in an interview that President Trump had apologized for the incident - the White House denied that had occurred.
  • On the eve of convening historic impeachment hearings aimed at President Donald Trump, House Democrats publicly set out guidelines for conduct by lawmakers in the proceedings, seemingly anticipating the possibility of procedural tussles with GOP lawmakers when the hearings begin on Wednesday. In a six page memo released by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff directly warned Republicans not to try to use the hearings to veer into certain areas of interest for the GOP. Schiff wrote, 'it is important to underscore that the House’s impeachment inquiry, and the Committee, will not serve as venues for any Member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference.' In his memo, Schiff said the questions should stick to three main areas of inquiry: The Schiff memo also indicated Democrats are still reviewing the requests of GOP lawmakers to call certain witnesses in the hearings. Republicans asked for a series of witnesses on Saturday, headlined by the son of Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, and the Intelligence Community whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the Ukraine investigation earlier this fall. As for the whistleblower, the Schiff memo warned GOP lawmakers not to make any efforts to use the public hearings to reveal the name of the whistleblower, raising the specter that it could lead to ethics charges. You can read the full memo from Rep. Schiff at this link.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday considers a politically explosive trio of cases on the future of an estimated 700,000 illegal immigrant 'Dreamers' in the United States, and whether the Trump Administration has properly exercised its legal authority to take away the protection those people have had since 2012 to avoid being deported from the United States. Legal experts say the Trump Administration certainly has the right to terminate the DACA program - because it is a discretionary use of authority by the Executive Branch.  But experts also argue that the Trump Administration bungled that simple move, resulting in several years of court challenges, culminating in these arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. 'This is a program put in place by a government agency - it is not something the Congress put in place - which is important, because now the agency says it can get rid of the program,' said Nicole Saharsky, a lawyer who worked on one of the three DACA cases before the Justices. 'It seemed to me the government had such an easy argument,' Saharsky said at a Georgetown University symposium earlier this fall. 'This is discretionary - we're going to exercise our discretion and not have it anymore.' But Saharsky and other legal experts say the way the Trump Administration went about ending the program undermined its authority to easily make a change. For example, it took the Trump Administration months to produce policy points from the Secretary of Homeland Security - used in a later court case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals - to support the reason why the DACA program should be changed. 'Part of the debate is about whether those additional policy reasons are properly before the court or not,' said Irv Gornstein, the Executive Director of the Supreme Court Institute and a Visiting Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. That 'after-the-fact-justification' - as Gornstein labeled it during a Supreme Court preview this fall - is one of a series of administrative matters the Justices must consider, in what otherwise would seem to be a legal slam dunk for the Trump Administration. When lower courts first blocked the feds from changing DACA, law professor Josh Blackman called it 'ludicrous,' denouncing a decision from a federal judge in San Francisco as an 'amateur act of punditry.' But as the issue has wound its way through the courts, Blackman has joined others in acknowledging the Trump Administration fell short in offering the proper rationale for the change. 'Offer other reasons that are legitimate, and the policy can be rescinded,' Blackman argued in a lengthy argument on Twitter earlier this year. The outcome of this case could also find roots in the Supreme Court rebuke of the Trump Administration over the Census, where Chief Justice John Roberts clearly laid out a path for the feds to take without violating the Administrative Procedures Act - which could apply as well to the DACA situation. All of that will play out in 80 minutes of arguments - covering three different cases before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
  • Just days before impeachment hearings are set to begin the U.S. House, President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress continued to be on different pathways when it comes to defending the President's conduct, as Mr. Trump on Sunday again maintained that he did nothing wrong in his phone call with the leader of Ukraine. 'The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT,' Mr. Trump tweeted from Trump Tower in New York. 'Read the Transcript!' But Democrats said the transcript showed behavior which was not acceptable - and there were some GOP lawmakers agreeing in part. 'I believe it was inappropriate,' Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said of the President's request in a July phone call for the government of Ukraine to launch investigations which would have benefited Mr. Trump politically.  'I do not believe it was impeachable,' Thornberry said on ABC's 'This Week.' Mr. Trump argued specifically against that. 'Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable,' he tweeted. The White House document detailing the call - which is not a full, word for word transcript - shows the President clearly asking the leader of Ukraine to investigate the son of Vice President Biden, along with probing the assertion that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats in the 2016 elections. While the White House and Republicans tried to sort out their impeachment arguments, Democrats were blasting the GOP. 'Witness testimony shows that everybody involved in the President’s pressure campaign knew what he wanted,' said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-I), 'political investigations to undermine our free and fair elections.' 'Republicans cried for weeks for open & public impeachment inquiry hearings,' said Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA). 'Now that public hearings begin this week, Trump & GOP don’t want them.