Among several State Department employees testifying to congressional committees in October 2019, William B. Taylor Jr., the chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, testified that soon after arriving in Ukraine in June 2019, he found that Zelensky was being subjected to pressure from a private initiative directed by Trump and led by Giuliani. According to Taylor and others, the goal was to coerce Zelensky into making a public commitment to investigate the company that employed Hunter Biden, as well as rumors about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He said it was made clear that until Zelensky made such an announcement, the administration would not release scheduled military aid for Ukraine and not invite Zelensky to the White House. Zelensky denied that he felt pressured by Trump.
Before and during his presidency, Trump has repeatedly accused China of taking unfair advantage of the U.S. During his presidency, Trump has launched a trade war against China, sanctioned Huawei for its alleged ties to Iran, significantly increased visa restrictions on Chinese nationality students and scholars and classified China as a "currency manipulator". In the wake of the significant deterioration of relations, many political observers have warned against a new cold war between China and the U.S.More Info
Two of Trump's 15 original cabinet members were gone within 15 months: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign in September 2017 due to excessive use of private charter jets and military aircraft, and Trump replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo in March 2018 over disagreements on foreign policy. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018 amidst multiple investigations into his conduct, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned five months later as he also faced multiple investigations.More Info
The connections between Trump associates and Russia have been widely reported by the press. One of Trump's campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked from December 2004 until February 2010 to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych win the Ukrainian presidency. Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.Members of Trump's campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election. On December 29, 2016, Flynn talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that had been imposed the same day; Flynn later resigned in the midst of controversy over whether he misled Pence. The Washington Post reported that Trump had told Kislyak and Sergei Lavrov in May 2017 he was unconcerned about Russian interference in U.S. elections.More Info
American Media, Inc. (AMI) paid $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal in August 2016, and Trump's attorney Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016. Both women were paid for non-disclosure agreements regarding their alleged affairs with Trump between 2006 and 2007. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to breaking campaign finance laws, saying he had arranged both payments at the direction of Trump in order to influence the presidential election. AMI admitted paying McDougal to prevent publication of stories that might damage Trump's electoral chances. Trump denied the affairs, and claimed he was not aware of Cohen's payment to Daniels, but reimbursed him in 2017. Federal prosecutors asserted that Trump had been involved in discussions regarding non-disclosure payments as early as 2014. Court documents showed that the FBI believed Trump was directly involved in the payment to Daniels, based on calls he had with Cohen in October 2016. In July 2019, a federal judge disclosed that prosecutors had stated in a court filing they had closed the investigation, but days later the Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed the Trump Organization and AMI for records related to the hush payments and in August subpoenaed eight years of tax returns for Trump and the Trump Organization.More Info
In a Rose Garden speech on June 1, 2020, President Trump said he would deploy the U.S. military to stop violence if a city or state refused to do so, and declared himself the ally of peaceful protestors, following the police killing of George Floyd. While he was speaking, federal law enforcement officials used batons, rubber bullets, pepper spray projectiles, stun grenades, and smoke to remove a largely peaceful crowd from Lafayette Square, outside the White House. The removal had been ordered by Attorney General William Barr. Trump then walked to St. John's Episcopal Church where the night before a small fire had been set in the basement nursery of its parish house. He posed for photographs holding a Bible, with Cabinet members and other officials later joining him in photos. Trump, who had attended services at the church three times since taking office, did not enter the church or inspect the damage to the basement.More Info
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