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These Are the Key U.S. and Ukrainian Players in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry



President Donald Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in the wake of a recent whistleblower complaint alleging that he asked Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election by investigating Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

Central to the inquiry is a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky has denied that anyone pressured him to investigate Biden’s son, but many lawmakers are not convinced.

As Congress probes deeper and House Democrats begin issuing subpoenas and scheduling depositions, a dizzying array of Ukrainians and Americans—some already high-profile and others largely unknown to the general public until now—have emerged as key players.

Here’s a breakdown of who’s who in the Ukraine investigation.

Hunter Biden

Paul Morigi&mdash Getty Images for World Food Program USAHunter Biden speaks at a World Food Program USA award ceremony on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Who is he?

Hunter Biden, 49, is the younger son of former Vice President and 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden.

How is he involved?

Hunter Biden is at the center of Trump’s claims of corruption against his father—which the President and his allies continue to make without evidence. Joe and Hunter Biden are also key individuals in the whistleblower complaint, which accuses Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate them.

Hunter Biden’s position as a paid board member for a Ukrainian energy company has raised questions about a possible conflict of interest for his father. The younger Biden earned a reported $50,000-a-month salary from Ukrainian energy company Burisma for his advice on corporate governance and best practices.

Trump has suggested in unproven but nettlesome allegations that Hunter Biden was under Ukrainian prosecutors’ scrutiny for corruption and that his father protected him by pressuring Ukraine to oust Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor who had opened an investigation into the owner of Burisma.

In a White House summary of the July phone call between Trump and Zelensky, the American president was noted as saying, “there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son” and Joe “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… it sounds horrible to me.”

Claims that Biden stepped in to block the inquiry are widely disputed, including by Joe Biden himself.

In a March 2016 trip to Kiev, Joe Biden had told Ukrainian leadership to fire Shokin, the country’s top prosecutor. Biden, like other officials in the U.S. and Western nations, believed Shokin was not doing enough to root out corruption. With international pressure mounting, Shokin was replaced later that month after a vote in Ukraine’s parliament.

Shokin had previously opened an investigation into the owner of Burisma, the Associated Press reported.

Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukranian energy company Burisma in 2014, but is no longer on the board, as of early 2019, according to the Washington Post.

Hunter Biden’s hiring in 2014 coincided with the launch of a new effort by Burisma to lobby the U.S. Congress about the role of the company in Ukraine and the country’s quest for energy independence. A Burisma spokesman said at the time that Hunter Biden had not been involved in contacting members of Congress or the Obama Administration about the company.

What has he said?

Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to help Burisma, according to the Associated Press. Joe Biden’s campaign has said that the former Vice President’s work in foreign policy was not affected by his son’s activities in the country and they never discussed it either, the New York Times reported.

Joe Biden has also denied the president’s allegations, saying that Trump was “lying about his family” in a fundraising message.

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani
Tasos Katopodis—Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani speaks at the Conference on Iran on May 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Who is he?

Rudy Giuliani is the President’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York City.

How is he involved?

The whistleblower complaint describes Rudy Giuliani as a “central figure” in Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.

Giuliani was subpoenaed Monday by the House Intelligence Committee. The subpoena stated that the committee is investigating “credible allegations” that Giuliani “acted as an agent of the President in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power” of his office. The letter highlighted Giulianni’s declaration on CNN that he “asked the government of Ukraine” to investigate Biden—a claim that Giulianni appeared to walk back and forth while on air. When prodded by anchor Chris Cuomo to clarify his position, Giuliani eventually said he asked Ukraine to “investigate the allegations that relate to the false charges against” Trump and that “those allegations tangentially involve Biden.”

House investigators, in a subpoena, also asserted that Giulianni said he possessed evidence (text messages, phone records and other communications) suggesting that “other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme” and demanded that he produce these “communications” and “other related documents” by Oct. 15.

The whistleblower complaint alleges that in several instances, Giuliani unofficially reached out to Ukrainian officials and relayed messages to and from Trump.

The whistleblower complaint said Giuliani’s alleged interference created so much confusion and harm that U.S. State Department officials allegedly spoke with Giuliani in an effort to “contain the damage” to America’s national security.

They also met with members of the Ukrainian administration to help them understand and respond to inconsistent messages received from official channels and through Giuliani, according to the whistleblower.

What has he said?

Giuliani has been defiant in the face of allegations of wrongdoing, and told CNN the day the whistleblower’s complaint was released that he has “no knowledge of any of that crap.”

He specifically denied that State Department officials spoke with him to “contain the damage.” “At no time did either one of them say they wanted to ‘contain damage,’” Giuliani told CNN.

Giuliani has also said multiple times that he would only testify in relation to the impeachment inquiry if Trump gives him permission and that the president “was framed by the Democrats,” the Associated Press reports.

Giuliani has continued to say in television appearances that the focus should be on Joe Biden and his son’s private business dealings in Ukraine—despite no evidence of wrongdoing. He has been emphatic about his alleged innocence, even telling The Atlantic in an interview that “It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not. And I will be the hero! These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero.”

The Biden campaign has reached out to television networks, demanding that Giuliani be kept off the air so he can no longer “spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,” the New York Times reported.

William Barr

U.S. Attorney General William Barr
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesU.S. Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks during a White House ceremony Sept. 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Who is he?

William Barr is Attorney General of the United States — making him the nation’s top law enforcement officer and the head of the U.S. Department of Justice. He was appointed to the position by Trump on February 2019 and confirmed by a 54-45 vote in the Senate.

How is he involved?

The whistleblower complaint alleged that Barr “appears to be involved” with Trump’s alleged efforts to pressure the Ukranian government.

The complaint did not specifically detail Barr’s involvement, as it did with Giuliani. But it did state that White House officials with direct knowledge of the call between Trump and Zelensky mentioned that the President pressured Zelensky to meet Barr, who was “named explicitly” as the President’s “personal envoy,” along with Giuliani.

Trump suggested to Zelensky during the July phone call that he follow up with the Attorney General about looking into Biden and his son, according to a summary of the conversation released by the White House. “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” the summary noted Trump as saying. That document also mentioned that Trump had told Zelensky that he would tell Barr to call him.

Barr’s possible involvement has raised concerns about his impartiality among key players related to the inquiry. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that Barr had “gone rogue”, was part of a “coverup of the coverup” and questioned his ability to make decisions “about how the complaint would be handled.”

Barr was previously criticized for how he handled the Mueller report, with some Democrats accusing him of choosing to “be the President’s lawyer,” instead of maintaining a degree of necessary independence from the White House.

The Justice Department said Monday that Trump recently asked the Australian prime minister and other foreign leaders to help Barr investigate how the Russia probe began, according to the Associated Press.

Barr assigned U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the probe.

What has he said?

The Justice Department has denied that Barr ever spoke with Trump “about having Ukraine investigate anything related to” Biden or his son in a statement last week.

“The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine – on this or any other subject,” said Kerri Kupec, spokesperson for the Department of Justice. “Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.”

Volodymyr Zelensky

Sean Gallup—Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media on Oct. 1, 2019 in Kiev, Ukraine.

Who is he?

Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian who formerly played the President of Ukraine on television, was elected to the office in reality earlier this year with 73% of the vote—the highest margin in the country’s post-Soviet history. He is a member of the Servant of the People party (which he founded, and named after his TV show). His party holds a majority of seats in the Ukrainian parliament. His campaign strongly emphasized fighting the country’s endemic corruption.

How is he involved?

Zelensky was on the other end of the Trump phone call that sparked the whistleblower’s complaint. The complaint said that Trump had used the call “to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid” by pushing Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and others.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited allegations that Trump requested that Zelensky “take actions which would benefit [Trump] politically” in her announcement that the House had launched a formal impeachment inquiry into the President’s conduct.

The whistleblower’s complaint also alleged that Zelensky met with the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who talked to him about how to “navigate” the President’s demands. U.S. officials also said that Zelensky’s advisors met with Giuliani, the complaint said.

The Ukrainian leadership was “led to believe” that whether or not Zelensky would have a call with Trump hinged on Zelensky’s “willingness to ‘play ball’” with the issues Giuliani and Lutsenko had raised, the whistleblower complaint said.

What has he said?

Zelensky has denied that anyone pressured him to investigate Biden’s son. Sitting with Trump at the United Nations on Sept. 25, Zelensky declared “nobody pushed me” and said that the call with Trump was “normal.”

He added that he does not have the authority to put pressure on Ukrainian law enforcement, even if he had been pressured.

“We have an independent country and independent general security. I can’t push anyone,” Zelensky said.

Yuriy Lutsenko

Former General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko
STR—NurPhoto/Getty ImagesFormer Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko speaks during a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 7, 2019.

Who is he?

Yuriy Lutsenko served as the Ukrainian Prosecutor General from May 2016 until Aug. 29 this year, a few months after Ukraine’s new president, Zelensky, took office. He formerly served as the head of the country’s Ministry of Interior (which oversees the Ukrainian police, National Guard, and State Border Service) and was a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

He was arrested in December 2010 and received several charges, including for financial crimes, although the European Union argued that the cases against him were politically motivated, and he was pardoned in 2013 by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

How is he involved?

Starting in March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko made a series of public allegations—many of which he later walked back—about the Biden family’s activities in Ukraine, Ukrainian officials’ purported involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, and the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, according to the whistleblower complaint.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, met with Lutsenko at least twice—once in New York in January and again in Poland in February—the complaint said.

The whistleblower complaint also alleges that Trump praised Lutsenko during his July 25 phone call and suggested that Zelensky retain him as prosecutor general.

In the summary of Trump’s call that the White House released, Trump does not refer to Lutsenko by name, but he tells Zelensky, “I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.”

When Zelensky tells Trump that he is thinking of replacing the Prosecutor General, Trump tells him that he heard the prosecutor was “treated very badly” although he was “very fair.”

What has he said?

Lutsenko has given numerous interviews to American news media—including several that appear to be contradictory. Some of the interviews include talking points that Trump brought up in his call with Zelensky.

Lutsenko told the Hill in March that he was launching an investigation into allegations that an Ukrainian official attempted to help Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The whistleblower’s complaint said Lutsenko and other Ukrainian officials claimed that Biden had pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire the previous Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in an effort to “quash” an investigation of Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board.

Lutsenko’s deputy told the New York Times in May that Lutsenko was investigating “millions of dollars of payments from Burisma to the firm that paid Hunter Biden.” Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company embroiled in scandal, paid $3.4 million to a company called Rosemont Seneca Bohai in 2014, the Times reported, referring to financial data from the Ukrainian deputy prosecutor. The Rosemont Seneca Bohai, in turn, paid Hunter Biden as much as $50,000 a month, the Times said, citing bank records.

On May 7, Lutsenko’s spokesperson denied to Bloomberg that the office had reopened the investigation into Burisma Holdings or its owner.

Lutsenko then told reporters after Trump’s Ukraine call leaked, that he does not feel that Ukraine has reason to investigate Joe or Hunter Biden. He did, however, acknowledge meeting with Giuliani.

Lutsenko told the BBC on Sept. 29 that he had “nothing, certainly” to prove that Hunter Biden violated Ukrainian law.

Viktor Shokin

Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin
Sergii Kharchenko—NurPhoto/Getty ImagesFormer Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin holds a press conference on Feb. 16, 2015 in Kiev

Who is he?

Viktor Shokin was Ukraine’s Prosecutor General from 2015 to 2016. He was succeeded by Lutsenko.

He was removed from his position by Ukrainian parliament after accusations that he was soft on corruption following pressure from then-Vice President Joe Biden and other western governments.

How is he involved?

Shokin’s firing is central to claims Trump has made, without evidence, that Biden used his position as Vice President to protect his son Hunter’s private business dealings.

Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate these allegations, according to the whistleblower complaint.

As Vice President, Joe Biden had been vocal about rooting out corruption in Ukraine. He traveled to Kiev in March 2016 and pressed for Shokin’s removal. Biden later said during a 2018 speech before the Council on Foreign Relations that he had threatened to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee until he was assured the prosecutor was ousted. The Ukrainian parliament eventually voted to remove the prosecutor, that same month, in March 2016, after international pressure. Shokin faced widespread accusations of allowing corruption to fester, according to a statement by at least one former Obama Administration official.

Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state in the Obama Administration, tweeted on Sept. 25 that “all of us working on Ukraine wanted this prosecutor gone, because he was NOT prosecuting corruption. So did the Europeans. So did the IMF.”

As chief prosecutor, Shokin had opened an investigation into the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, the Associated Press reported.

There is disagreement over whether Shokin would have actually gone after Burisma.

Daria Kaleniuk, co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Ukrainian organization that works on anti-corruption initiatives in the country, told the BBC that Shokin was not a “tough prosecutor who was willing to investigate Burisma.” If anything, the opposite was true and Shokin was “dumping this investigation,” she said, adding that she has been following the investigation since 2014.

What has he said?

Shokin told the Washington Post earlier this year that he believes he lost his position because he was investigating Burisma. He said that if he was still prosecutor he would have looked into the younger Biden’s qualifications to be a board member, citing Hunter Biden’s lack of experience in working in Ukraine or the energy sector, the Post reported.

Mykola Zlochevsky

Ukrainian businessman Mykola Zlochevsky
Pavlo Gonchar—SOPA Images—LightRocket/Getty Images Ukrainian businessman and founder of the Burisma Holdings company, Mykola Zlochevsky at a media conference on Sept. 24, 2019

Who is he?

Mykola Zlochevsky is a former Ukrainian ecology and natural resources minister and the owner of Burisma Holdings, an oil and gas industry holding company.

Since Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, joined the board of Burisma Holdings in the spring of 2014, some of the former Vice President’s critics have called the connection inappropriate.

While Joe Biden and the Obama Administration were calling for a crackdown on corruption in Ukraine, Zlochevsky was among the subjects of a money laundering investigation by the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office.

The investigation lasted from 2014 until June 2018, when it was closed due to a lack of evidence. Burisma had announced in winter 2017 that the investigation of Burisma and Zlochevsky had closed. In 2015 remarks about corruption, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, criticized the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office for failing to release documents that could have supported the seizure of Zlochevsky’s money, which was being held in the case. He did not say when this occurred.

How is he involved?

The whistleblower’s complaint said that Lutsenko had accused Joe Biden of trying to “quash a purported criminal probe” into Burisma Holdings by pressuring the former Ukrainian President to fire Lutsenko’s predecessor, Shokin.

Trump appears to have referred to these allegations during his July 25 phone call with Zelensky. Trump said that Joe Biden “stopped the prosecution” of a case concerning Hunter Biden, according to the summary of the call.

“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said.

After the whistleblower’s complaint emerged, Lutsenko told multiple news outlets that he did not have any evidence that the Bidens violated Ukrainian law.

What has he said?

Zlochevsky has not spoken to U.S. news outlets about the controversy.

After Hunter Biden joined the company’s board, the chairman of the board of directors said in a statement, “The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals.”

The law firm representing Zlochevsky in the United Kingdom, Peters & Peters, said in a statement to the Guardian in 2017 that their client did not violate the law during his time as a minister, saying that he had made his wealth before his time in office.

“Mr. Zlochevsky has followed the letter and spirit of the law in his role as civil servant and has, at all times, held himself to the highest moral and ethical standards in his business dealings and public functions,” the statement said, adding that he had “fallen victim to an entrenched and a cynical programme of smear campaigns and misinformation.”

Marie Yovanovitch

Marie Yovanovitch
NurPhoto—NurPhoto via Getty ImagesFormer U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a meeting with former Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman Kyiv, on Nov. 12, 2018

Who is she?

Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan before being named ambassador to Ukraine in Aug. 2016.

She was recalled from the post in May. Eliot L. Engel, the Chairman of the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, in a joint statement, called the White House decision to recall her a “political hit job.”

How is she involved?

The whistleblower’s complaint said that Yovanovitch might have lost her ambassadorship as a result of accusations against her by Lutsenko.

The complaint notes that Yovanovitch was among the targets of allegations made by Lutsenko and his colleagues in interviews with the Hill. According to the complaint, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, and Yovanvitch in particular, had been accused of obstructing corruption cases by providing a “do not prosecute” list and by blocking Ukrainian prosecutors from traveling to the United States to provide “evidence” about the 2016 election.

The State Department denied that Yovanovitch was recalled early, saying in a statement to reporters that she was “concluding her three-year diplomatic assignment in Kiev in 2019 as planned.”

The complaint also said that Yovanovitch’s time as ambassador was “curtailed because of pressure stemming from Mr. Lutsenko’s accusations.”

Trump criticized Yovanovitch during his phone call with the Ukrainian President. According to the White House’s summary of the call, Trump said, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news.” Yovanovitch is the first and only female ambassador to Ukraine.

What has she said?

Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. She has not commented on the allegations against the President publicly.

Joseph Maguire

Joseph Maguire at House Intelligence Hearing
Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty ImagesJoseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on a whistleblower complaint about a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.

Who is he?

Joseph Maguire is the acting Director of National Intelligence, who stepped in to lead the agency in August after his predecessor Dan Coats stepped down, along with Coats’ deputy. He was previously serving as the head of the National Counterterrorism Center. He has a 36-year military career under his belt and his former colleagues described him as someone who is “not a political hack.”

How is he involved?

Maguire came under fire from House Democrats for withholding the whistleblower complaint from lawmakers for weeks. The Director of National Intelligence is legally required to submit a complaint from the Inspector General to the requisite oversight committee within seven days. But the Inspector General noted in his Sept. 9 letter to the House Intelligence committee that he believed Maguire determined he would not be required to pass along the concern to Congress because for him, the allegations did not meet the standard of an “urgent concern,” as written in law.

What has he said?

Maguire testified before the House Intelligence committee Sept. 26 after being subpoenaed. The retired Navy vice admiral defended his reluctance to share the report during the hearing, saying he believed it may have been covered by executive privilege. He said repeatedly that he sought guidance from officials from the White House and the Justice Department on the matter.

But Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff argued that the law still required Maguire to pass along whistleblower complaints to the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Maguire told lawmakers he believed that the whistleblower is “operating in good faith” and “did the right thing.” But he would not explicitly say whether he found the allegation to be “credible” when asked by Schiff. Maguire instead said “it’s not for me to judge” and added that he does not criticize the inspector general for finding the allegation to be credible.

Maguire would not tell lawmakers whether he had spoken to Trump about the complaint, noting that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the matter because his conversations with Trump are privileged because of his role as acting Director of National Intelligence.

Michael Atkinson

Michael Atkinson
Jacquelyn Martin—APNational intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson leaves a closed intelligence briefing, Sept. 26, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Who is he?

Atkinson is the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, a position created within the office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2010 to provide oversight.

How is he involved?

Atkinson alerted Congress to the whistleblower complaint in September, calling the document and its contents “credible and urgent.”

Atkinson flagged the complaint in two letters sent to the House Intelligence Committee in September, in which he noted that he could not resolve his differences about how to handle the complaint with Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence.

What has he said?

Atkinson said in one of the letters that it appeared that Maguire had no “present intention” of directing the whistleblower on how to contact congressional intelligence committees directly “in accordance with appropriate security practices.” He added that it was his “statutory responsibility” as inspector general to make sure that these committees are “kept currently and fully informed of ‘significant problems and deficiencies relating to programs and activities within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence.’”

Atkinson had received the whistleblower’s complaint on Aug. 12 and passed it onto Maguire on Aug. 26, according to a letter Schiff wrote to Maguire. The Director of National Intelligence is legally required to submit a complaint from the IG to the requisite oversight committee within seven days.

Kurt Volker

Kurt Volker
Sergei Supinsky—AFP/Getty ImagesFormer US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker speaks during a press conference in Kiev on July 27, 2019.

Who is he?

Kurt Volker resigned as the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine on Sept. 27, two days after the White House released a summary of Trump’s call with Zelenksy, the Associated Press and other outlets reported. He was appointed to the post by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 to help support the terms of the Minsk agreements, which were intended to achieve peace in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Volker is also the former U.S. permanent representative to NATO and is currently runs the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

How is he involved?

The whistleblower alleges that Volker and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, met with Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials the day after the call with Trump and gave him advice on how to “navigate” the demands Trump had made. The whistleblower wrote that he’d been told about the meetings by U.S. officials who had viewed readouts of the meetings.

The complaint also said that Volker spoke to Giuliani to try and “contain the damage” allegedly caused to American national security by Giuliani’s contact with Ukraine. Volker also spoke with Ukrainian officials and “sought to help Ukrainian leaders understand and respond to the differing messages they were receiving from official U.S. channels on the one hand, and from Mr. Giuliani on the other,” the complaint said.

What has he said?

Volker was scheduled to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry on Oct. 3. He has not yet spoken publicly about the Ukraine scandal.

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Trump Mulls Metro NYC Quarantine; U.K. Cases Surge: Virus Update



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For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here. For BNEF’s view of the impact on energy, click here.U.S. Mulls Metro NYC Quarantine (12:23 p.m. NY)President Trump said he’s considering an enforced quarantine in areas of New York and New Jersey to curb the outbreak.Trump told reporters he had spoken with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo before departing the White House to send off a Navy hospital ship bound for New York City from Norfolk, Virginia.The president said he’d rather not impose such a quarantine but that the country may need it. Asked about his ambition to urge many Americans to return to work by the Easter holiday on April 12, Trump said “we’ll see what happens.”New York and New Jersey have more than half the U.S. Covid-19 cases.Northern Italy Deaths Near 6,000 (12:10 p.m. NY)Deaths in Italy’s northern Lombardy region rose by 542 to 5,944, according to a person familiar with the matter. 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The peak of infections may occur at the end of May, based on current data, she said. “This indicates that the containment measures that we’ve adopted, namely that people stay at home except to go to work, are being effective,” Temido said.Trump Clears State Funding (9:15 a.m. NY)President Trump approved disaster declarations for Michigan and Massachusetts on Friday. He has approved declarations for more than a dozen states, making them eligible for certain federal funding.Earlier, Trump complained that Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, as well as her counterpart in Washington, don’t appreciate his administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic, and said Vice President Mike Pence shouldn’t take their calls.Namibia Shuts Mines, Quarries (8:45 a.m. NY)Namibia, the world’s top producer of marine diamonds and the fifth-biggest of uranium. halted mining and quarrying operations to curb the outbreak, Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo said. The semi-arid southwest African nation will allow minimal operations and critical maintenance work. Namibia, with eight virus cases, imposed a partial lockdown of the capital, Windhoek.Study Cuts U.K. Death Estimate (7:47 a.m. NY)The number of coronavirus fatalities in Britain could be much lower than previously estimated thanks to social distancing, according to a new paper from statisticians at Imperial College London, the Times reported. That’s a sharp drop from previous analysis that suggested fatalities from the virus could be 260,000 if Britain maintained its previous policy of less restrictive interventions.Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first world leader to reveal he has Covid-19 yesterday.Sweden Begins Random Testing (7:27 a.m.)Swedish health authorities have begun random testing in Stockholm to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, Sveriges Radio reported.About 1,000 people will undergo testing, the broadcaster reported, citing state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. Switzerland is also going to start testing for antibodies next week to see if people have already had the virus, and once the test is more readily available, those tests will be done on a grander scale, the health ministry said on a webcast.Spain’s Deadliest Day (6:42 a.m. NY)Spain said 832 people died from coronavirus in the last 24 hours, its deadliest day since the outbreak began. That brings total fatalities to 5,690 after the country recorded 769 deaths on Friday.Health Minister Salvador Illa warned on Friday that the pandemic has yet to reach its peak in Spain.Germany to Stay Locked Down (6:37 a.m. NY)German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country’s lockdown rules are unlikely to be relaxed because they are needed to protect the health-care system.Her chief of staff, Helge Braun, separately told newspaper Der Tagesspiegel it has been decided to keep the current measures largely in place until April 20.Loss of Smell Key Symptom (6:30 a.m. NY)The coronavirus is capable of attacking key cells in the nose, which may explain the unusual finding that some Covid-19 sufferers lose their ability to smell and taste, Harvard Medical School researchers found.Their study of human and mice genomic data found certain cells at the back of the nose harbor the distinctly shaped proteins that the coronavirus targets to invade the body. Infection of these cells could directly or indirectly lead to an altered sense of smell, they said in a paper published Saturday.Japan Stimulus to Exceed Financial Crisis (5:30 p.m. HK)Japan will extend economic stimulus on an “unprecedented scale” in response to the outbreak, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.There will be cash handouts for citizens and the government will act to protect regional employment, he said in a televised press briefing on Saturday. The government actions will be on a larger scale than that of the financial crisis more than a decade ago, he said.Abe said a supplementary budget will be passed as soon as possible, as he cautioned that the battle against the virus will be a long one. Japan is preparing its virus-related policities with the worst-case scenario in mind, the prime minister said.Dutch Hospitals to Reach ICU Bed Capacity (5 p.m. HK)Dutch hospitals will probably reach full capacity of intensive care unit beds on Sunday due to the pandemic, local newspaper Trouw writes, citing numbers from a medical association. The government is currently in talks with Germany to see if it can transfer intenive-care patients. Doctors have also started calling elderly people at home to ask if they want to be treated in the hospital or at home if they get Covid-19, causing panic among older citizens, newspaper Telegraaf reported.Later, Philips delivered the first 100 of 1,000 ventilators to the Netherlands from the U.S. The devices will help to increase the number of ICU beds.Hubei Border Clash After Quarantine Lifted (3:45 p.m. HK)Dozens of people clashed on the Hubei border after the Chinese government lifted a two-month quarantine on the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The conflict began Friday morning on a bridge connecting Hubei and neighboring Jiangxi province as policemen from both sides argued over how to verify if people were allowed to enter Jiangxi, according to local media reports.The two counties issued a joint statement on Saturday, saying checkpoints between them would be removed and no special documentation would be needed to cross.Tokyo Sees Biggest Daily Increase in Cases (3:30 p.m. HK)New coronavirus infections in Tokyo rose by more than 60 on Saturday, the biggest daily increase yet, according to Kyodo News. The rise comes amid a critical weekend for the capital, where people have been asked — though not forced — to stay at home.Iran to Punish Those Who Ignore Social Distancing Rules (3 p.m. HK)Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said people who ignore social distancing rules aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus would be punished.“Anyone who doesn’t want to listen or chooses to resist will face harsher measures this time around,” Rouhani said in a television broadcast. “Punishments are in place to that end, but hopefully we will never get there.”This week authorities introduced stricter measures to combat the outbreak, including a ban on intercity travel and the closing of parks and other public spaces.The country’s oil, power facilities and fuel supply have been unaffected by the outbreak, the president added.Singapore Advises Public to Stay Indoors, Shop Online (1:05 p.m. HK)Singapore advised its public to stay at home in its latest effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the city state is facing a grave economic challenge posed by the pandemic.The public should only head to malls for essential items such as food, the government said in an advisory on its official WhatsApp channel, suggesting that people “buy food and groceries online.”Mexico’s AMLO Encourages Shopping in Public Markets (11:19 a.m. HK)Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said people should shop in public markets to support small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.“Those at the top know how to defend themselves; they can resist,” he said in a video posted on Facebook. “Those at the bottom have a hard time in times of crisis”The president has been criticized for his response to the virus, though he appeared to be changing tone recently. The Health Ministry has advised people to maintain social distance from one another to inhibit the virus’s spread.China Signals Ramped-Up Stimulus (10:26 a.m. HK)China’s top leaders pledged to widen the fiscal deficit and sell sovereign debt, signaling that Beijing is preparing larger-scale stimulus to counter the economic fallout from the virus.China will increase its fiscal deficit as a share of gross domestic product, issue special sovereign debt and allow local governments to sell more infrastructure bonds as part of a package to stabilize the economy, according to a Politburo meeting on Wednesday, Xinhua reported late Friday.Singapore Defense Forum Called Off (10 a.m. HK)The Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-profile regional security forum held annually in Singapore, has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.The forum, usually attended by ministerial-level delegates and top defense officials globally, was scheduled to be held from June 5-7. This is the first time the event is being canceled since its inception in 2002.Australian State Introduces Social Distance Fines (9:45 a.m. HK)In the Australian state of Victoria, police have been given power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to A$1,652 ($1,020) for individuals and A$9,913 for businesses who don’t follow rules on social distancing or limits on gatherings. Premier Dan Andrews said he wouldn’t hesitate to close beaches after police were forced to disperse hundreds of people sunbathing on Melbourne’s St. Kilda beach on Friday.Australia’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 14, according to government figures released Saturday. The number of confirmed infections stood at 3,635 as of Saturday afternoon, an increase of 469 from Friday afternoon.China Says All New Virus Cases on March 27 Imported (9:30 a.m. HK)China’s National Health Commission said all 54 new coronavirus cases reported on March 27 were imported, as an order to seal the borders to most foreigners takes effect Saturday.China had 81,394 confirmed cases as of March 27, with 649 of those imported, according to a statement on NHC’s website. The death toll rose by three to 3,295, with all new deaths reported in Hubei province. Discharged patients rose by 383 to 74,971.Abbott Launches Five-Minute Virus Test (7:31 a.m. HK)Abbott Laboratories is unveiling a coronavirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting.The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1, said John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics. The molecular test looks for fragments of the coronavirus genome, which can be detected in as little as five minutes when it’s present at high levels. A thorough search to definitively rule out an infection can take up to 13 minutes, he said.Read full story hereFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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How Can You Safely Grocery Shop in the Time of Coronavirus? Here’s What Experts Suggest



As coronavirus spreads globally, grocery shopping has become one of the most anxiety-producing but necessary activities for millions of people around the world.

With many governments enforcing shelter-in-place orders in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, heading to the store for food and essential supplies has become one of the only times many people leave their homes. Prepping for the trip can feel overwhelming: Should you wear gloves or a mask? Should you wipe down that tomato? What’s the safest way to pay?

To answer these questions and more, TIME reached out to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts about what steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you while grocery shopping. Here’s what to know.

Is it better to order groceries online or go to the store?

If you can afford to, it’s best to order food online, experts say. Delivery services dramatically reduce your contact with other people: you pay online, it’s packaged elsewhere and the food is left outside your door.

“I’ve heard there are wait times, but if you can use that option it would definitely be better than going out,” says Dr. Joshua Petrie, an assistant research professor of epidemiology at University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

A spokesperson for the CDC also tells TIME in an email that ordering online can be a good alternative for high-risk people. She adds, “And if you have any symptoms of illness, please stay home to protect your own health, as well as the health of others.”

However, as Dr. Craig Hedberg, a professor in the environmental health sciences division of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, writes in an email, “[You] are still relying on the health and hygiene habits of the people who assemble your order and deliver it.”

A spokesperson for the CDC tells TIME that “[currently] there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging.” However, you should always wash your hands before and after handling food. The CDC also recommends you wash your hands again after you unload your groceries, and clean kitchen surfaces like countertops, cabinet handles and light switches.

What are the best ways to practice social distancing at the store?

Many people have no choice but to visit a grocery store in person. Dr. Lauren Sauer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says your primary concern while shopping should be the risk of contracting the virus from other people, not from food or surfaces in the store. While there’s a chance the virus could be transmitted on a surface, “you’re most likely to get this from another person,” she explains.

So try to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people, the CDC spokesperson says. Sauer also adds that it’s incumbent for people to “take responsibility” to social distance, as “not everyone is going to be respectful of that six feet.” If you see a crowded aisle, skip it or wait for people to leave.

“Avoid racing to get the last of an item on the shelf. Follow guidelines that may be posted at the store. Be patient,” Hedberg writes.

Standing so far apart from people might feel uncomfortable, Dr. Jessica Justman, an associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at Columbia University, warns. People in the U.S. tend to have conversations two or three feet apart, she explains, so doubling that can feel alien. Still, it’s necessary right now.

Sauer suggests shopping at a store that’s already enforcing social distancing, such as requiring people to stand six feet apart in line or only allowing a certain number of customers in at once. Many national chains have announced precautions they’ll be taking moving forward, and you can also call your local store and ask ahead before you leave the house. “You want to pick a store that’s really paying attention and making it safer for customers to go in,” Justman says.

Sauer also suggests that, when possible, leave your kids and other family members at home. It’s probably safest if only one person in each household does all the shopping, not only because it lowers the household’s exposure but also because it reduces the total number of people in stores, she says. “We don’t really understand how kids transmit the virus,” Sauer adds. “It could be that little kids are sick and we just don’t know, so you want to reduce their interaction more broadly.”

And definitely don’t go to the store if you’re feeling sick, Petrie stresses. Ask someone else to go for you.

What are the best ways to safely touch things in the store?

While you should be most concerned about the other people in the store, the virus can also live on surfaces, says Dr. Christopher Gill, an associate professor of global health at the Boston University School of Public Health. It’s possible someone who is infected coughs, and droplets containing the virus land on a surface that you then touch. A March 17 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus could live for two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to four hours on copper.

So it’s best to be cautious. A spokesperson for the CDC recommends people clean their shopping cart or basket—specifically the handles and other surface areas—either with their own disinfectant wipes or wipes provided by the store. (Many stores have already started providing wipes near the carts.)

Sauer recommends bringing hand sanitizer to the store if it’s available to you, and using it after every time you come in contact with “high touch surfaces” — like cart handles.

Gill says you should assume the virus has gotten on surfaces around the store, so try to touch as few things as possible, and avoid touching your nose, face and mouth. Hedberg also suggests placing raw food in a bag “to prevent direct contact with the cart.”

Sauer also recommends using a paper shopping list, rather than your phone, while you’re in the store. You can throw the list away when you’re done, and it doesn’t risk transferring viral particles to your phone. “The less you can touch your personal items in public spaces, the better,” she explains. She also suggests using hand sanitizer the moment you leave the store—especially before you get in the car and touch the steering wheel.

Then, make sure to wash your hands as soon as you can. The CDC spokesperson recommends people wash their hands with soap and water “for at least 20 seconds before and after shopping.”

Keep up to date with our daily coronavirus newsletter by clicking here.

Should people wear a mask or gloves to the store?

If you’re sick and have to leave your house—which experts strongly advise against—you should wear a mask to stop the spread of infectious droplets.

But what if you’re not sick? The CDC currently does not recommend people wear gloves or a face mask in public unless they “have been exposed and are displaying symptoms of the virus,” according to an agency spokesperson

Personal protective equipment like gloves or masks can give people “a false sense of security,” Sauer explains. You might be less determined to not touch your face or wash your hands. “You [also] have a higher risk of exposing yourself to something if you take the gloves and mask off wrong,” she adds.

Hedberg writes that wearing a mask will “do little to prevent you from exposure to a virus” if you are near people who are infected.

While gloves stop the virus from getting on your skin, they don’t stop you from touching the cart handle then touching your face, which could transmit the virus. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is not touch your face, use hand sanitizer and wash your hands as soon as possible, Gill says.

Petrie also points out that gloves and masks are much more necessary for healthcare workers, and “there’s already lots of shortages of those sort of supplies in our hospitals where they’re really needed.”

“I don’t think [gloves or masks] would reduce your risk enough to warrant using them,” he says.

How can you pay safely?

You want to minimize your contact with other people as much as possible, experts say. If you can go cashless, go cashless. Something like Apple Pay, where you just tap your iPhone, is a good option because you don’t have to exchange your credit card, Sauer says. While you should try to keep your phone out of your hands as much as possible while shopping, she says using something like Apple Pay is a “trade off” because it’s better to have as little contact with the cashier as possible.

If you don’t have a mobile payment service, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, a professor of health policy and management at the University of California Los Angeles’s School of Public Health, says the next best option is a credit or debit card that’s “wiped clean both before and after use.”

If you have to use cash, the CDC spokesperson recommends you “thoroughly wash your hands after handling [it].”

Sauer also suggests you try to keep as much distance as possible between yourself and the cashier. “It’s less about the surfaces and more about how close in contact you are with the people,” she explains. Cashiers don’t have the freedom to move around like shoppers do, so be mindful to make space for them, she adds.

Hedberg also suggests using self-service checkout, which reduces contact with a cashier. “However you pay, wash your hands,” he adds.

Should you wipe down all items when they get home?

Experts tell TIME it’s not necessary. “You want to keep those cleaning supplies for when you really need them,” Sauer explains. Certain containers, like cardboard boxes, also can’t be decontaminated with just a wipe because they’re porous, she adds. Instead, Sauer recommends prioritizing using your cleaning supplies on “high touch surfaces,” like shopping cart handles. Hedberg also advises being careful to not wipe hazardous chemicals on food. “Using bleach on packaging materials or foods may create more problems than it could theoretically solve,” he writes in an email.

The CDC also does not recommend wiping down grocery items at home. “Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging,” the CDC spokesperson writes. However, she adds that people should make sure to wash their hands as soon as they get home, especially before eating or preparing food. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer with at like 60% alcohol, she says.

Just make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables like you normally would. If you want to be extra thorough, Fielding suggests using a vegetable brush, and to clean it between using on each individual piece of produce.

Once you’ve unpacked your groceries, you should clean your hands again, the CDC spokesperson says. You should then clean your kitchen surfaces, including countertops, cabinet handles, and light switches. “You should try to clean these surfaces often,” she writes.

When is the best time to visit the grocery store?

Many stores have set aside certain hours just for high-risk individuals, such as senior citizens or people who are immunocompromised. Sauer says that “first and foremost” you should respect those hours, which are meant to protect vulnerable individuals who have no other option but to go to the store.

If you belong to this high-risk category, look up what stores around you have these special hours, Fielding says. When possible, have friends or family go to the store for you, Sauer adds.

If you’re not in a high-risk category, consider shopping at “off-peak hours” to avoid crowds, the CDC spokesperson suggests. These times will depend on where you are. Early in the morning or late at night can often be less crowded. Hedberg suggests calling ahead to ask, or using an online guide to track periods of activity.

How often should you go grocery shopping?

Go as infrequently as possible without resorting to hoarding behavior, experts say. There is plenty of food in storage facilities around the U.S., it’s been reported, so it’s more a matter of getting it off those shelves and into stores. Hoarding is unnecessary and risks taking supplies away from people who need them.

But in general, try to stay home as much as possible. Justman suggests going to the store once a week, or even every few weeks if that’s a financial option. Sauer points out that going as rarely as possible not only reduces your risk of exposure, but also helps reduce the number of people in the store.

Still, make sure you always have enough food to provide safe and nutritious meals for your whole household, Hedberg stresses. Eating well is a crucial component of staying healthy, even if getting that food can feel stressful.

“Every shopping outing has some risk,” Fielding writes. “So grocery shop as infrequently as possible and practical.”

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Moscow Mayor’s Tough Virus Stance May Hasten Russia Lockdown



(Bloomberg) — As Russia steps up its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has emerged as the leading voice for ever harsher measures that may become the model for locking down the country.Sobyanin has ordered restaurants, bars, parks and most stores in Europe’s largest capital city to close temporarily from Saturday and urged Muscovites to stay home. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin embraced his approach on Friday, saying measures adopted by Moscow “should extend to all regions” of Russia as the number of declared coronavirus cases passed 1,000.“We need tough restrictions,” to ensure Russians stay at home during a planned shutdown of most workplaces next week, Mishustin said at a televised meeting with Sobyanin and other top officials charged with containing the outbreak. “We managed to win time thanks to preventative measures.”President Vladimir Putin gave Russians a week of paid leave in his first televised speech on the Covid-19 threat on Wednesday, while also promising benefits to help companies and individuals through the crisis.On Friday, however, the Kremlin walked back the decision amid reports that some Russians planned to travel to the country’s vacation spots or visit relatives, taking advantage of reduced domestic air fares offered by the state airline Aeroflot. Mishustin ordered all Russia’s parks and resorts to shut down.Police EnforcementSobyanin sent a message via email to residents of the Russian capital on Saturday morning with a list of instructions — without any mention of police enforcement — similar to those applicable in European cities under lockdown. These include limiting going out from home to essential shopping at stores, short walks with family members or journeys to and from work.Russia on Saturday reported 228 new cases of coronavirus overnight, bringing the total to 1,264, with four deaths attributed to the virus.Authorities in Moscow are seriously considering shutting down the city, said four people familiar with discussions on the subject. A Moscow government representative declined to comment.Center StageThe president has allowed Sobyanin, a former Kremlin chief of staff who’s led the city of 12.7 million since 2010, to take center stage in advocating intensifying restrictions to head off the greatest public health challenge of Putin’s 20-year rule.“They’re playing good cop and bad cop,” said Alexei Mukhin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Political Information. “Putin is doling out goodies while Sobyanin is in charge of taking unpopular measures.”Until recently, officials have ruled out a lockdown adopted by governments in the worst-afflicted European countries of Italy and Spain as well as in France and the U.K.. Putin’s top public health official, Anna Popova, on Monday called the measure unnecessary.But while Russia’s patient numbers are well below the levels in those countries, Putin made his address to the nation a day after Sobyanin warned him that the official figures understated the true scale of the outbreak and that Moscow had nearly twice as many cases in reality.Nikolai Malyshev, a leading infectious diseases specialist in the Health Ministry, warned on state TV this week that Russia is readying itself for an “explosive development like a nuclear reaction” with the coronavirus epidemic. In the near future, “large numbers of people will fall ill and need medical treatment,” he said.Despite Moscow’s gradual tightening of restrictions, the city so far has remained free of the home confinement imposed in other capitals including Paris, London, Rome and Madrid. The subway is open, even if traffic last week was down by half, and until Saturday there were plenty of cars on the roads.The World Health Organization’s representative in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, said Thursday that if Muscovites and others across the country exercise self-discipline and stay home, then officials may avoid imposing strict quarantine.“If it becomes necessary, I am sure they will take this measure,” she said.(Updates with Moscovites told to stay home in sixth paragraph, new cases in seventh.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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