I will be releasing the transcript of the first, and therefore more important, phone call with the Ukrainian President before week’s end!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2019
This makes no sense. Why is it more important because it was the first? It was a perfunctory phone call taking place in April, just after Zelensky was elected, and before Trump talked to Putin. After Trump talked to Putin, his view of Zelensky changed, and he started with the whole Biden investigation extortion.
Trump is focusing on the whistleblower, apparently unaware that much of the testimony was firsthand accounts, and not all Never Trumpers. By the way, are pro-Trumpers the only people who can report wrongdoing by Trump?
On a related note, this just happened…
Mulvaney reverses and drops plans to sue over subpoena; says he will abide by Justice and WH demands not to comply with House impeachment inquiry. “After further consideration, Mr. Mulvaney does not intend to pursue litigation … he will rely on the direction of the President”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 12, 2019
Back to Trump rants…
Here’s a decent response to that….
Just like Schiff fabricated my phone call, he will fabricate the transcripts that he is making and releasing!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2019
A little problem with the present and future tense there, Mr President. In any event, NOBODY is joining Trump on this absurd claim that the transcripts (which have almost all been released now) are fabricated. In any event, the live public hearings will lay to rest any doubt.
Prior to the launch of the public impeachment hearings on Wednesday, Margaret Sullivan has some sage advice for the media. She highlighted four things they should keep in mind when covering this important story.
- Stress substance, not speculation.
- Don’t let stunts hijack the coverage.
- Avoid Barr-Letter Syndrome.
- Beware mealy-mouthed and misleading language.
That first one captures one of my biggest pet peeves about how the media tends to cover politics. Sullivan is suggesting that reporters should focus on the substance of what Americans need to know from the hearings—not their own (often faulty) speculation about how it might play with voters in the so-called “swing states.” Impeachment hearings are a sobering historical moment, not simply another way to frame our addiction to horse race politics.
But I want to zero in on Sullivan’s second piece of advice about not letting the coverage get hijacked. Trump’s enablers are already salivating over something they assume will be a major distraction from the impeachment inquiry: the release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FISA application to surveil Carter Page.
Over the weekend, Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova told Lou Dobbs that the report would be “devastating” and “worse than you can imagine.” Of course, those two have their own personal reasons for peddling a distraction from the impeachment hearings, since they are up to their eyeballs in the extortion racket that was orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani. Similarly, Jason Chaffez was ruminating with Sean Hannity about the slam-dunk evidence against Obama administration officials that is about to surface.
What is likely to happen is that, when the report is released, it will spark a re-litigation of the whole issue of the Steele dossier and its role in enabling the “deep state” to spy on the Trump campaign. Before the time comes to focus our attention on the impeachment hearings, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that all of the right wing talking points about that are lies. The following evidence comes from a memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee in January 2018.
- The Steele dossier did not prompt the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation. That began in July 2016 and the team didn’t receive the dossier until mid-September.
- When the FISA application was submitted in October 2016, Carter Page was no longer working for the Trump campaign.
- Carter Page had an extensive record as someone of interest to U.S. intelligence services because Russia had previously attempted to recruit him as an agent.
- The role of the Steele dossier in the application was to point to meetings Page held with high level Russians in the summer of 2016, during the time he served as an advisor to the Trump campaign.
- Page initially lied about those meetings, but eventually confirmed that they happened.
- DOJ did, in fact, inform the FISA court that Steele was hired by politically motivated people and that his research appeared intended for use to discredit Trump’s campaign.
All of that has been part of the public record for almost two years. Nevertheless, Attorney General Barr said that an investigation was required to learn whether the “spying” on the Trump campaign was adequately predicated and the president’s minions are certain that “deep state” heads are going to roll when that investigation is completed.
That brings us to a piece of advice that I’d like to add to Sullivan’s list: there is no need to give the same weight to these distractions as you give to actual evidence about Trump’s abuse of power and corruption. That is not partisan advice, but an attempt to affirm, once again, that the media’s job is to report the truth, not to give equal weight to lies in an effort to find balance.
Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia:
The full testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Cooper can be found here.
In March, the Connecticut Supreme Court put the gun industry on notice: If you advertise your weapons as alluring tools for mass slaughter, you will face consequences—at least in this state.
By a 4–3 vote, the court revived a lawsuit by the families of Sandy Hook victims alleging that Remington recklessly marketed its Bushmaster AR-15–style weapon for “illegal, offensive purposes,” contributing to Adam Lanza’s murder of 26 people at their elementary school. The majority ruled that a federal law does not shield Remington from liability for wrongful advertising, permitting a jury to determine whether Remington can be held liable. Its decision is a stunning blow to the firearms industry, which has long claimed near-absolute immunity from such lawsuits. And it allows the plaintiffs to uncover private, potentially damning communications that will reveal how Remington peddles its lethal products to the public.
That case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Today, SCOTUS decided NOT to review the case, in essence letting the case go forward.
Team MAGA has already sunk to promoting propaganda and disinformation from a Russian-inspired effort designed to exonerate Russia’s role in interfering with the 2016 elections. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Fla.) is the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. He has made clear he plans to shrug off Trump’s endangering national security and possible violations of law as justified by Trump’s “documented belief that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 election.”
Michelle Goldberg explains:
The conspiracy theories that undergird the president’s “documented belief” aren’t really coherent, but they don’t have to be to serve their purpose, which is sowing confusion about the well-established fact that Russia assisted Trump’s campaign. They posit not just that [Paul] Manafort was set up, but also that Democrats worked with Ukraine to frame Russia for hacking Democrats’ emails, a dastardly Democratic plot that led to Trump’s election. Naturally, George Soros, perennial scapegoat for the far right, is also involved.
“George Soros was behind it. George Soros’s company was funding it,” Giuliani said on ABC in September, spinning tales of Hillary Clinton’s collusion with Ukraine. Speaking to The Post, Giuliani accused Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, of “working for Soros.” Indeed, Hill in her testimony suggested that a sort of Infowars-era McCarthyism has been loosed on the national security bureaucracy, with “frankly an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about George Soros” used to “target nonpartisan career officials, and also some political appointees as well.”
Some of these conspiracy theories originated with Manafort colleague Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Russian intelligence officer, and worked their way into Trump’s already fevered brain.
Fortunately, I guess, some Repubicans are trotting out a more serious defense.
Republicans on the three House committees conducting the Trump-Ukraine investigation have settled on “four key pieces of evidence” that they claim will undermine Democrats’ arguments for why the president should be impeached, according to a staff memo circulated to committee members Monday night.
The first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry will take place this week. The Republican memo previews how committee members plan to defend Trump on the substance of the Ukraine allegations, in addition to the “process” attacks on the Democratic-led inquiry that have defined much of the GOP’s defense strategy thus far.
The Republicans claim these four pieces of evidence are “fatal” to the allegations that Trump used military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.
“The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure;
President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call;
The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call; and
President Trump met with President Zelensky and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 — both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating President Trump’s political rivals.”
The memo fails to consider counterarguments that Democratic members have been making in the media for weeks.
- For example, it cites witnesses like Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, to bolster the argument that Ukraine was not aware of the hold on military aid. It does not, however, address the core claims at the heart of several explosive testimonies.
- Chief among them is the fact that top officials involved in Ukraine policy, including Taylor and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, were under the impression that there was a quid pro quo involving aid, and that they communicated that understanding to their Ukrainian counterparts.
Here’s an exchange from the Cooper testimony showing that Ukraine likely knew of the money hold-up earlier than previously known.
The claim that there was nothing improper about Trump’s phone with Zelensky — one that the president has parroted and urged allies to adopt — also fails to reflect the body of evidence that there was a coordinated, months-long campaign to push Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
Multiple witnesses have corroborated that this is the case, testifying they were disturbed that Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was leading a shadow foreign policy outside the normal channels of government.
The memo also provides a section titled “Background” that delves into the context of why Trump has held a “deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine and U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign aid.” As the New York Times and others have reported, Trump’s fixation with Ukraine has been driven in part by unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about its involvement in the 2016 election.
An important element of the House GOP argument is that “Trump holds a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption.” The memo repeatedly casts doubt on whether Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden.
It should be noted that just after the memo went public, Trump promptly undercut that argument by tweeting that, yes, he did want Ukraine to investigate Biden. Trump claimed the summary of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows that there was “no pressure” on him.
“He and others also stated that there was ‘no pressure’ put on him to investigate Sleepy Joe Biden even though, as President, I have an ‘obligation’ to look into corruption, and Biden’s actions, on tape, about firing the prosecutor,” Trump added. Emphasis mine.
As expected, retaliation.— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) November 10, 2019
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who gave a bombshell testimony in the House impeachment investigation last month on President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, will be removed from his post at the White House National Security Council.https://t.co/tVmWffAcCA
A lesson and a warning.
Donald Trump Jr ventured on to the University of California’s overwhelmingly liberal Los Angeles campus on Sunday, hoping to prove what he had just argued in his book – that a hate-filled American left was hell-bent on silencing him and anyone else who supported the Trump presidency.
But the appearance backfired when his own supporters, diehard Make America Great Again conservatives, raised their voices most loudly in protest and ended up drowning him out barely 20 minutes into an event scheduled to last two hours.
The audience was angry that Trump Jr and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, would not take questions. The loud shouts of “USA! USA!” that greeted Trump when he first appeared on the stage of a university lecture hall to promote his book Triggered: How The Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us quickly morphed into even louder, openly hostile chants of “Q and A! Q and A!”
The 450-strong audience had just been told they would not be allowed to ask questions, “due to time constraints”.
It gets better.
At first, Trump and Guilfoyle tried to ignore the discontent, which originated with a fringe group of America Firsters who believe the Trump administration has been taken captive by a cabal of internationalists, free-traders, and apologists for mass immigration.
Yup. Not lefties.
When the shouting would not subside, Trump Jr tried – and failed – to argue that taking questions from the floor risked creating soundbites that leftwing social media posters would abuse and distort. Nobody was buying that.
In minutes, the entire argument put forward by the president’s son – that he was willing to engage in dialogue but that it was the left that refused to tolerate free speech – crumbled.
“I’m willing to listen…” Trump began.
“Q and A! Q and A!” the audience yelled back.
“We’ll go into the lion’s den and talk …” Trump tried again.
“Then open the Q and A!” came the immediate response.
Guilfoyle, forced to shout to make herself heard, , told students in the crowd: “You’re not making your parents proud by being rude and disruptive.”
She and Trump Jr. left the stage moments later
So it seems like Don Jr’s book tour is going well pic.twitter.com/m0mZQQMHSi— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 11, 2019
Were you triggered Donnie?
In all seriousness, this points to a problem that the right wing is facing by embracing bizarre conspiracy theories and the politics of destruction — i.e., it was only a matter of time before a schism of the conservatives would start eating its own:
The fiasco pointed to a factional rift on the Trump-supporting conservative right that has been growing rapidly in recent weeks, particularly among “zoomers” – student-age activists. On one side are one of the sponsors of Trump Jr’s book tour, Turning Point USA, a campus conservative group with a track record of bringing provocative rightwing speakers to liberal universities.
On the other side are far-right activists – often referred to as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, although many of them reject such labels – who believe in slamming the door on all immigrants, not just those who cross the border without documents, and who want an end to America’s military and diplomatic engagement with the wider world.
A number of the loudest voices at Sunday’s event were supporters of Nick Fuentes, a 21-year-old activist with a podcast called America First that has taken particular aim at Turning Point USA and its 25-year-old founder, Charlie Kirk. In a number of his own recent campus appearances, Kirk has faced questions accusing him of being more interested in supporting Israel than in putting America first. He has responded by calling his detractors conspiracists and racists.
On Sunday, Kirk appeared alongside Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle but said nothing.
Two Fuentes supporters, delighted with the outcome of Trump Jr’s appearance, later told the Guardian the pro-Trump movement was being infected with “fake conservatism” and that the president himself was at the mercy of a cabal of deep state operatives who wouldn’t let him do many of the things he campaigned on.
The pair, who called themselves Joe and Orion Miles, said: “It was an absolute disaster for them. We wanted to ask questions about immigration and about Christianity, but they didn’t want to face those questions.”
Also, if Trump Jr was expecting “triggered” leftwingers to clamour for his silence, he did not get it. No more than 35 protesters showed up and, despite making a lot of noise with drums and whistles and shouts of “Trump-Pence Out Now!”, resisted taunts and insults from provocateurs in Make America Great Again hats from across a line of metal barriers.
How do you like your right-wing buddies now, Donnie?
Devin Nunes sent his witness list to Chairman Adam Schiff last week for witnesses he wanted included in the House Impeachment Investigation.
The list includes:
- Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s business partner
- Hunter Biden
- Alexandrea Chalupa, the DNC consultant who conducted oppo research on Manafort [corrected] via non-official sources
- Undersecretary of State David Hale, who gave a private deposition the details of which have not yet leaked
- Tim Morrison, the NSC staffer who was on the Trump call but has said (in part because saying anything else would implicate him criminally) nothing he heard was a problem
- Nellie Ohr, whom Nunes falsely accuses of assisting with the Steele dossier, but who collected oppo research on Trump based off leads which were in turn based off open source research
- Kurt Volker
- The whistleblower
- The whistleblower’s sources
Schiff’s response was to the point:
The idea behind bringing Hunter Biden into the impeachment inquiry is to create a “good faith” defense for Trump. Republicans hope to show that Trump had a reasonable basis to be concerned about Joe Biden’s actions, and that he had legitimate grounds for wanting Zelensky to look into Biden’s alleged corruption. The idea there would be that as long as Trump was acting even in part in the public interest (that is, “fighting corruption”), then any personal benefit that he might receive as a result — say, in the form of election assistance because of a public smear on his potential opponent — is ancillary and irrelevant.
The problem is that Trump’s basic premise undercuts his defense: The “good faith” standard Trump hopes to argue would apply equally to Joe Biden. After all, in calling for Shokin to be fired, Biden was also acting in his official capacity as vice president and carrying out the foreign policy directives of the Obama administration to encourage Ukraine to fight corruption — something that the European Union had already been calling for and welcomed when Ukraine followed through. Biden’s “good faith” is even more evident than Trump’s, since he conducted his actions publicly, through official channels, and in conjunction with international partners. By Trump’s own argument, all of these factors would negate any self-serving benefit to the Bidens that came as a result. In other words, the “good faith” defense concedes that Trump had no reason to ever call for an investigation into the Bidens in the first place.
But that’s giving to much credit to the “good faith” defense to begin with. Ideally, the reason for bringing in Biden is to muddy the waters.
House Republicans acknowledged that they have no witnesses and no documents to dispute the main facts concerning President Trump’s impeachable conduct: a demand from Ukraine for dirt on a political rival; withholding of aid vital to Ukraine’s defense against Russia; concealing evidence of the scheme by moving a transcript to a secret server; and threatening the tipster who alerted Congress to gross malfeasance. They admitted all that? Well, in a manner of speaking they did.
Hunter Biden lacks any direct knowledge of anything that occurred in the Trump White House, and hence he cannot rebut evidence of Trump’s demand that Ukraine interfere with our election. By Republicans’ own admission, the whistleblower lacks first-hand knowledge of events. (“Witnesses who testified out of public view have corroborated the crux of the case against Trump — that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals — so the Democrats see no need for the whistleblower, who heard the story secondhand, to testify. Three career State Department officials are returning next week for the public hearings.”)
All Republicans have are distractions, stunts to generate claims of unfairness, and gimmicks to threaten the life and career of the whistleblower. It’s remarkable, really, that they could stipulate to every fact about which the witnesses testified under oath.
Republicans implicitly admit that there is no disputing Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony. Vindman testified that, in the July 25 call, “there was no doubt” Trump made a demand of the Ukrainian president to initiate an investigation of a U.S. citizen, a “deliverable” to help his presidential reelection. “When the president of the United States makes a request for a favor, it certainly seems — I would take it as a demand,” Vindman testified. There are apparently no witnesses to contradict his testimony and none to dispute it was of such concern that Vindman went to John Eisenberg, the top national security lawyer in the White House.
Republicans apparently have no evidence to contradict the testimony of Fiona Hill, who served as a top Russia adviser to the White House. She testified that former national security adviser John Bolton, in a meeting following an exchange between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Ukrainian officials that made explicit that any White House meeting was conditioned on an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens, “basically said — in fact, he directly said: Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up. He did make it clear that he didn’t feel that there was anything that he could personally do about this.” In other words, the national security adviser knew hijacking foreign policy for Trump’s political gain was wrong and likely illegal.
Sure, in demanding irrelevant witnesses and continuing their campaign of intimidation against the whistleblower, Republicans threaten to make the entire proceeding a three-ring circus, something Schiff will try to prevent. However, it is a helpful reminder that Republicans should be able to stipulate to all of the facts presented by all of the witnesses Schiff has summoned. There is no factual defense to articles of impeachment that would include bribery, extortion and obstruction of justice.
Good to know, and good to know that the Republican Party stands foursquare behind a president soliciting a bribe, endangering U.S. national security and attempting to intimidate witnesses and cover his tracks.
This scandal is over an month old and Republicans have yet to coalesce around a solid defense to the extortion. That can’t be good.
The man is unhinged,
The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT. Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2019
Trump is attacking here the ONLY viable defense to impeachment — that what he did, while dishonorable, did not rise to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. To him, it was a perfect call.
The New York Times had a great editorial out this weekend about Trump’s defenses:
The Disorienting Defenses of Donald Trump
The president and his allies ask Americans to reject the evidence before their eyes.
The case for weighing the impeachment of President Trump boils down to a few simple points: In an effort to win re-election in 2020, Mr. Trump apparently attempted to extort a foreign government into announcing an investigation of his top political rival. The president did so while also trying to revive a conspiracy theory that casts doubt over whether the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf. Witnesses have already testified that in order to achieve those goals, Mr. Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid against the bipartisan wishes of Congress. All the while, the president and his staff have refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation into what transpired.
Republicans find themselves in a tough spot. Lawmakers swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, which obliges them to act as a check on the executive branch and any abuses of its power. Yet instead of considering the testimony, many Republicans have chosen reflexively to defend Mr. Trump — not an easy task in the face of such strong evidence of inexcusable behavior.
Here’s a field guide to some of the lines of attack that Republicans have used so far. See if you can recognize them if they appear during the public hearings scheduled to begin this week.
There was no quid pro quo.
This was the first and cleanest defense of Mr. Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Trump and his allies offered it up after the White House released a partial summary of the call.
Yet no matter how many times Mr. Trump exhorts Americans to “read the transcript,” the call summary itself establishes that immediately after Mr. Zelensky brought up the military aid, Mr. Trump said he wanted him to “do us a favor though,” and then mentioned investigating the Bidens and a conspiracy theory about the Democratic National Committee server in 2016.
Don’t believe the president’s own words? Multiple government officials have attested that there was indeed a quid pro quo, and it involved the withholding of nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine until Mr. Zelensky agreed to go on TV and announce the investigations Mr. Trump wanted.
William Taylor Jr., the top envoy to Ukraine, testified to the House Intelligence Committee that it was his understanding that “security assistance would not come until [Zelensky] committed to pursue the investigation.” Representative Adam Schiff, the committee chairman, asked Mr. Taylor, “So if they don’t do this, they are not going to get that, was your understanding?” Mr. Taylor replied, “Yes, sir.” Mr. Schiff then asked him whether he was aware that a quid pro quo literally means “this for that,” and Mr. Taylor replied, “I am.”
How could it have been a quid pro quo if the Ukrainians didn’t know about it?
John Ratcliffe, a congressman from Texas, tried this line on Fox News last month, which the president tweeted. No witness, Mr. Ratcliffe said, “has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.’”
Except the Ukrainians did know. The Times reported that “the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations.”
This week, Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, testified that he explicitly told a top Ukrainian official that release of the aid was contingent on a public announcement of an investigation.
It’s all just hearsay. And the whistle-blower is a partisan Democrat.
Not just hearsay, but “triple hearsay.” This argument first appeared in October, as the outlines of the whistle-blower’s complaint came into focus. “Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings,” said the White House Press secretary, Stephanie Grisham.
What about the anonymous whistle-blower? The president’s allies and conservative media outlets have been speculating about the person’s identity and motivations. But the truth is that the whistle-blower could have been Joe Biden himself at this point. What matters isn’t the motivation but the substance of the complaint. Virtually every element has been corroborated by multiple people.
It was a quid pro quo. But so what? This happens all the time.
“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server?” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, offered this during an October news conference. “Absolutely. No question about that,” he said. “That’s why we held up the money.”
For good measure, he added, “Get over it.”
To their credit, not even Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies have signed on to this particular defense, at least not yet. Mr. Mulvaney, realizing the depth of the hole he had dug, later claimed he had not said what he said. Still, his claim did serve one important function, which was to pivot the administration’s basic case away from “no quid pro quo” to “yes, quid pro quo, but so what?”
It was a quid pro quo, but President Trump was only interested in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.
It’s difficult to imagine Mr. Trump — who just agreed to a $2 million settlement for using his own charity as the family A.T.M. — as an anti-corruption crusader. It’s that much harder to buy given that he has not expressed a similar concern with corruption in any other country, including the United States. Also, Mr. Trump appears to have cared less about an actual investigation than a televised announcement of one.
No one outside the president’s party appears to believe that anti-corruption was the objective. In closed-door testimony before Congress on Thursday, George Kent, the State Department’s top Ukraine official, said there was no doubt what was going on: Mr. Trump “wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton.” This was wrong, Mr. Kent said. “As a general principle, I do not believe the U.S. should ask other countries to engage in politically associated investigations and prosecutions.”
It was a quid pro quo, but Mr. Trump had nothing to do with it.
“When I get to ask questions, and when you see all of the transcripts, you will understand that there is no direct linkage to the president of the United States,” said Mark Meadows, a Republican congressman from North Carolina.
Mr. Meadows was quick to point the finger at Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. “There are a whole lot of things that he does that he doesn’t apprise anybody of.”
It’s true that Mr. Giuliani has been openly talking about efforts to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens since earlier this year. But Mr. Taylor also testified that Mr. Giuliani, who is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors, was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump.
The same day Mr. Taylor’s testimony was released, Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter that he was acting “solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges.” In September, he told The Washington Post, “I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.” Of course, Mr. Giuliani can’t withhold military aid to a foreign power. As Mr. Taylor testified, “The directive had come from the president.”
Fine. It was a quid pro quo. Trump ordered it. He did so for his own political benefit. The Ukrainians knew about it. That’s bad, but it’s not an impeachable offense.
Seriously? As described so far by several witnesses, President Trump’s behavior, consorting with a foreign government for his own personal benefit, is literally what the framers had in mind when they established the power to impeach a president for high crimes and misdemeanors. Whether that warrants removal from office is another matter.
It wasn’t a real quid pro quo because the Trump administration is too disorganized to pull off such a scheme.
Senator Lindsey Graham said this last Wednesday. “What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent, it depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo. So no, I find the whole process to be a sham and I’m not going to legitimize it.”
“I hardly know the gentleman.”
This is Mr. Trump’s go-to excuse when, as so often seems to happen, the people he surrounds himself with implicate him in wrongdoing or get accused of malfeasance themselves. On Friday, Mr. Trump made this assertion about Mr. Sondland, his ambassador and a million-dollar donor to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee.
That’s the same Gordon Sondland whom Mr. Trump called “a really good man and great American” only one month ago. That was just before Mr. Sondland’s original testimony to Congress, during which he claimed he was not aware of any quid pro quo involving military aid. After multiple witnesses called this account into question, Mr. Sondland suddenly remembered that, yes, in fact, there had been a quid pro quo, and that he had personally delivered that message.
This is a coup by the Deep State! A decorated American soldier is a Ukrainian agent! The witnesses who have testified are “Never Trumpers”!
The barrage of allegations and finger-pointing is so frenzied that it is disorienting for anyone trying to keep up. That’s the point. Let’s hope the hearings this week help sort truth from all the many lies.
Trump’s insanity continued this morning with two more bizarre defenses:
Yup. The transcripts that were released last week were doctored. Now that is a new one. NOBODY has floated that one, even on the most extreme fringes of the Internet.
And then whistleblower’s lawyer is behind it all? How is that even possible?
These two tweets alone are signs of an unsound mind.
Trump must be feeling the pressure, as reports this weekend reveal that Lev Parnas, one of Rudy’s henchmen, actually took part in another extortion relating to Ukraine and Trump:
Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country’s new leadership, a lawyer for the associate said.
The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.
The claim by Mr. Parnas, who is preparing to share his account with impeachment investigators, challenges the narrative of events from Mr. Trump and Ukrainian officials that is at the core of the congressional inquiry. It also directly links Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to threats of repercussions made to the Ukrainians, something he has strenuously denied.
But Mr. Parnas’s account, while potentially significant, is being contradicted on several fronts. None of the people involved dispute that the meeting occurred, but Mr. Parnas stands alone in saying the intention was to present an ultimatum to the Ukrainian leadership.
Another participant in the meeting, Mr. Parnas’s business partner, Igor Fruman, said Mr. Parnas’s claim was false; the men never raised the issues of aid or the vice president’s attendance at the inauguration, lawyers for Mr. Fruman said.
Mr. Giuliani denied Mr. Parnas’s contention that he had delivered the warning at the direction of Mr. Giuliani. “Categorically, I did not tell him to say that,” Mr. Giuliani said.
The dispute represents the clearest indication yet that Mr. Parnas, who was indicted along with Mr. Fruman last month on campaign finance charges, has turned on Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani.
Not good news for Team Trump.
This week, House Democrats released transcripts of eight depositions, and announced a schedule for public hearings next week. As support for impeachment plateaued, Democrats tentatively planned to fast-track hearings, with a vote on articles of impeachment before the holiday break. Republicans meanwhile, careened from varying defenses of Trump, from it was not a bad quid pro quo, to he is not competent enough to carry out quid pro quo, to targeting witnesses and the whistleblower, to considering sacrificing a fall guy in Trump’s stead.
The Mueller probe was again back in the news, as the Justice Department released FBI 302 summary reports of interviews, and the trial of Roger Stone got underway. Documents revealed the source of the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election was actually Konstantin Kilimnik, an employee of Paul Manafort who the FBI determined has ties to Russian intelligence. Stone and Trump’s possible involvement in seeking emails stolen by Russia from WikiLeaks was also back in the spotlight.
Election night provided victories for Democrats, taking control of the Virginia legislature for the first time in 26 years, winning the governorship of red state Kentucky, and historic victories in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As we head toward the 2020 election, U.S. intelligence again warned of election interference underway, something that Trump, and Republicans who continue to block legislation to protect voting, oddly seem to welcome.
- On Saturday, the Department of Justice released the first installment of documents related to the Mueller probe to BuzzFeed News in response to a court order, after five separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
- The documents were FBI 302 report summaries of interviews. Rick Gates said Paul Manafort pushed the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016.
- Gates said Manafort “parroted a narrative” told to him by Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort employee who the FBI determined has ties to Russian intelligence and indicted on witness tampering in the Muller probe.
- Gates also said Michael Flynn was “adamant” Russia was not responsible for the hacking, and told Trump U.S. intelligence “was not capable of figuring it out,” and that Ukraine, not Russia likely carried it out.
- Gates also said shortly after the Democratic convention and Russia hacking the DNC server, while in a car with Trump to the airport, Trump received a call related to WikiLeaks and said more leaks were coming.
- Michael Cohen said before he testified to Congress, he was told “to keep TRUMP out of the messaging related to Russia and keep TRUMP out of the Russia conversation.” Cohen said false testimony was “not his idea.”
- Steve Bannon testified that Manafort worked on the campaign until days before the election, and they needed to hide it. Bannon wrote in an email, “They are going to try to say the Russians worked with wiki leaks to give this victory to us.”
- Also close to the campaign as more on Russia interference came out, Erik Prince suggested to Bannon “an alternative narrative” about Russia’s efforts, that they wanted Clinton to win. Trump used this narrative.
- On Tuesday, the trial for Roger Stone got off to an unusual start in Washington, as Stone left the courtroom twice to use the restroom during jury selection, and later was excused for the day citing food poisoning.
- Stone’s case is the last filed in the Mueller probe. On Wednesday, in opening statements, prosecutors said Stone lied to Congress “because the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” linking the case to Trump.
- Prosecutors said on June 14, 2016, the day the DNC server was hacked, Stone called Trump, and again in July after WikiLeaks began releasing DNC material. An hour later he tried to make contact with Julian Assange.
- On Wednesday, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said on his InfoWars broadcast that he had the name of a jurist in the Stone trial who was anti-Trump, threatening, “We’ve got her name, and we’re going to release it.”
- On Thursday, prosecutors said Stone had lied and obstructed, threatening Randy Credico about testifying in a message: “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends,” and, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die…”
- On Friday, Bannon testified for 40 minutes, saying he was doing so under subpoena. He said the campaign viewed Stone as “an access point” to WikiLeaks, citing his implied relationship with WikiLeaks and Assange.
- Bannon said Stone implied he could get information from WikiLeaks. He said Stone was an expert in opposition research and dirty tricks, “the type of things that campaigns use when they have to make up some ground.”
- On Friday, Paul Manafort’s son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai was sentenced to nine years in prison for an array of scams. The judge said Yohai was a serial scammer whose “horrific” crimes posed a significant threat to the public.
- On Saturday, while entering Madison Square Garden for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Trump was greeted by loud boos in his former home state of New York. There were roughly 150 protestors outside.
- On Monday, the World Series champion Washington Nationals visited the White House. Eight of the key players chose not to attend.
- On Wednesday, ahead of Trump’s visit to the Alabama vs LSU football game on Saturday, the Alabama Student Government Association warned protestors risk losing their reserved seating for the rest of the season.
- On Saturday, WAPO reported when Rick Perry and other top advisers met with Trump in May to say the new Ukraine leader could be an ally, Trump said, “They tried to take me down,” and “are horrible, corrupt people.”
- In 2017 Trump tried to block aid to Ukraine saying it was not a “real country” and was “totally corrupt,” and claiming “everyone” was telling him it would anger Russia, although the opposite was true.
- On Saturday, Trump continued his attacks on the whistleblower, tweeting, “The Whistleblower has disappeared. Where is the Whistleblower?”
- On Sunday, Trump continued, tweeting, “The Whistleblower got it sooo wrong that HE must come forward,” and “Fake News Media knows who he is but, being an arm of the Democrat Party, don’t want to reveal him.”
- Trump also tweeted, “Many people listened to my phone call,” and “I never heard any complaints,” adding, “The reason is that it was totally appropriate, I say perfect. Republicans have never been more unified.”
- Trump also tweeted, “The Angry Majority!” — a phrase he first used athis rally Friday to describe supporters angered by the impeachment inquiry.
- Later Sunday, speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump threatened to expose information on Alexander Vindman, calling him a “Never Trumper,” and saying, “We’ll be showing that to you real soon.”
- Trump also told reporters the whistleblower “hated Trump,” and “You know who it is. You just don’t want to report it. CNN knows who it is, but you don’t want to report it…You’d be doing the public a service if you did.”
- Trump also said, “The whistleblower should be revealed because the whistleblower gave false stories. Some people would call it a fraud. I won’t go that far. But when I read it closely, I probably would.”
- Later Sunday, Mark Zaid, the attorney for both known whistleblowers, told NBC News the first whistleblower had offered to provide written answers to questions by House investigators, to protect his or her identity.
- On Monday, Trump tweeted, “The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff,” adding, “He must be brought forward to testify. Written answers not acceptable!”
- Trump also tweeted, “Where is the 2nd Whistleblower? He disappeared after I released the transcript. Does he even exist?” adding, “Where is the informant? Con!”
- On Monday, Zaid tweeted, “we have offered to Rep. Devin Nunes,” the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, written answers, saying the whistleblower “is not a partisan..nor is impeachment an objective.”
- On Sunday, an NBC/WSJ poll found net approval for impeachment and removal up 9% from last month, to 49% approve and 46% disapprove, up from 43% approve and 49% disapprove.
- On Sunday, Trump dismissed polls showing growing support for impeachment, telling reporters, “I have the real polls. The CNN polls are fake. The Fox polls have always been lousy.”
- On Monday, Fox News host Sean Hannity parroted Trump, blasting Fox News polling on his radio show, saying the methodology used by the network was “really wrong” and was “oversampling” Democrats.
- On Sunday, as wildfires rages in California, Trump tweeted, “The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management,” saying he told Newsom “he must “clean” his forest floors.”
- Trump also again threatened to pull federal aid from California, tweeting: “Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more.”
- On Sunday, Republicans shifted strategy to saying quid pro quo is not impeachable. Rep. Tom Cole told “Meet the Press” that “Concern is different than rising to the level of impeachment.”
- Trump tweeted, “False stories” are claiming “Trump may have done a quid pro quo,” and added, “but it doesn’t matter, there is nothing wrong with that, it is not an impeachable event.”
- On Saturday, a federal judge blocked the Trump regime’s plan set to go into effect on Sunday that would require immigrants to prove they have health care or the financial resources to get it in order to obtain a visa.
- On Sunday, the White House slammed the court, saying, “Once again, a nationwide injunction is permitting a single judge to thwart the President’s policy judgment,” calling it “wrong and unfair.”
- On Saturday, officials in Norway arrested Greg Johnson, a high-profile U.S. white supremacist, hours before he was scheduled to give a speech at the Scandza Forum, a network known for its anti-Semitic and racist views.
- On Sunday, NBC News reported a group of white people carrying a white nationalist flag were caught trying to record a video in front of the Emmett Till memorial. An official of the memorial called it a propaganda video.
- On Monday, ABC Milwaukee reported Mahud Villalaz, a U.S. citizen and Latino, suffered second-degree burns to his face when a white man threw acid at him, accusing him of being in the country illegally.
- On Monday, Buffalo Wild Wings fired employees in Naperville, Illinois who asked a black family and their party to change tables, because a white man did not “want black people sitting near him.”
- On Monday, NBC News reported Richard Holzer, 27, a white supremacist, was taken into custody and charged with plotting to blow up Temple Emanuel, the oldest synagogue in Colorado.
- Holzer told undercover investigators he was planning for a “racial holy war,” after investigators reached out to him after he promoted racially motivated acts of violence on Facebook.
- On Monday, Adrian Vergara, 26, pleaded guilty to a hate-crime for striking a teenage Syrian refugee who was speaking Arabic on a cellphone in the face five or six times while riding a trolley in Encanto, California.
- On Monday, former evangelical megachurch pastor and author Joshua Harris said the support Trump has gotten from the evangelical community has been “incredibly damaging to the Gospel and to the church.”
- On Monday, WSJ reported Navajo people took control of the San Juan County, Utah commission, 2-1, for the first time in 150 years in 2017 and plan to oppose Trump’s plan to develop federal lands like Bear’s Ears.
- Conservative white people, a minority who are pro-Trump, sought to dilute the commission by growing it from three to five seats through Proposition 10 in Tuesday’s election. Prop 10 failed in a close election.
- On Monday, the first day possible under the accord’s rules, the Trump regime formally served notice to the United Nations that it would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
- On Monday, a report by 11,258 scientists in 153 countries declared the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency,” and provided six broad policy goal to address the crisis.
- On Tuesday, USA Today reported millions of poor people lost access to a cellphone service through Lifeline, one of a number of federal assistance programs being targeted by the regime. Enrollment has dropped 21% since 2017.
- On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Citrus County, Florida commission voted 5-0 to block a librarian’s request for a NYT subscription on Oct 24, the same day the Trump announced canceling federal agency subscriptions.
- The vote took place before reporting on agencies, but after Trump’s public statements. The commissioner said, “Do we really need to subscribe to the New York Times?” and another added, “it’s fake news, and I’m voting no.”
- On Tuesday, 70% of Kansas City voters voted to remove Dr. Martin Luther King’s name from one of the city’s most historic boulevards, less than a year after The Paseo was renamed for King.
- On Tuesday, Somali refugee Safiya Khalid, 23, won a seat on the Lewiston City Council in Maine, after enduring vile abuse during her campaign by online trolls from as far away as Alabama and Mississippi.
- On Wednesday, the EPA’s inspector general said Ryan Jackson, the chief of staff to administrator Andrew Wheeler, refused to cooperate with an inquiry into whether he pressured a scientist to alter her Congressional testimony.
- In a letter, the IG said Jackson was in “open defiance” of two separate inquiries, an audit and an investigation, calling his actions a “flagrant problem” and referring the matter to Congress.
- On Thursday, the San Diego Union Tribune reported, in at least 14 cases, Customs and Border Protection agents in CA and TX are writing fake court dates on asylum seekers’ paperwork and sending them back them Mexico.
- On Monday, CNN reported the DOJ sent a letter to the agent of the upcoming book “A Warning,” saying the author may be violating “one or more nondisclosure agreements” with their anti-Trump book.
- On Monday, Hillary Clinton told Guardian that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “should pay a price” for what he is doing to democracy, and said false information, or “propaganda,” will have an impact on elections.
- On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported Russian FSB Gen. Alexander Bortnikov, Vladimir Putin’s top spy, is continuing to publicly push that Russia has a behind-the-scenes cooperation with the U.S. on cybersecurity.
- On Wednesday, an investigation by OpenDemocracy revealed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has received a surge in donations from Russians with ties to Putin in recent months.
- Johnson is also under increased scrutiny for his refusal to sign off on the public release of a report on possible Russian interference in the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum, ahead of the December 12 election.
- On Wednesday, in a joint statement by the DOJ, Department of Defense, DHS, FBI, and the NSA said “Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors” will seek to interfere in the 2020 election.
- On Wednesday, a complaint unsealed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco revealed the Saudi government, frustrated by criticism of its leaders and policies, recruited Twitter employees to spy on its critics.
- The Saudis sought employees to look up private Twitter data on its critics, including news personalities and a popular personality, including their email address and internet protocol addresses that can reveal a location.
- Two employees Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, were charged as acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering. They got designer watches and tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for their spying.
- A third man who ran a social media marketing company that did work for the Saudi royal family was also charged. This marks the first time the Kingdom has been accused of spying in America.
- On Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously upheld a lower court decision that Trump’s accountant must turn over his tax returns to New York prosecutors.
- Later Monday, attorney Jay Sekulow said Trump will ask the Supreme Court to take up the case. The appeals court rejected the argument that Trump is immune from criminal investigation while in office.
- On Friday, Trump’s personal lawyers told a federal judge they intend to petition the Supreme Court next week to appeal the decision.
- On Monday, E. Jean Carroll said she would sue Trump for defamation, after Trump countered her allegations of rape by calling her a liar who wanted to sell books, said he never met her and “she’s not my type.”
- On Tuesday, Summer Zervos said new public cell phone records released by the Trump Org “corroborate” her allegations of sexual assault by Trump. Records show six calls made by Trump in late 2007 and early 2008.
- On Thursday, a federal judge in New York said Trump misused the Trump Foundation to further his political and business interests, and ordered him to distribute the remaining $1.7 million in funds to other charities.
- In the settlement, Trump admitted to giving his campaign complete control over $2.8 million the foundation raised at a fundraiser for veterans in Iowa in January 2016, saying it was campaign event.
- Trump also admitted to using the foundation funds to settle the legal obligations of his companies and Mar-a-Lago. Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric will go through training to ensure they do not repeat his improprieties.
- On Thursday, in a speech at an annual gathering, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said Trump’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms,” adding, “We are in unchartered territory.”
- He added, Trump “criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him,” and views courts “as obstacles to be attacked and undermined…not as a coequal branch.”
- On Monday, four White House officials scheduled to testify in the impeachment probe refused to appear: John Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Robert Blair, and Brian McCormack.
- An attorney for Ellis said his client was instructed by the White House not to appear, calling the congressional subpoena “invalid,” citing Democrats have not allowed Trump’s counsel at depositions and other concerns.
- Eisenberg’s attorney, William Burck, who also represents Don McGahn, said the DOJ advised him Sunday that as a senior adviser to Trump, Eisenberg is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.”
- On Monday, NYT reported at an “Off the Record” dinner for the Republican National Committee, officials shared they swamped House Democrats phone lines in recent weeks with anti-impeachment calls.
- The effort targeted nearly three dozen House Democrats and generated roughly 11,000 automated calls, in an effort to defend Trump by shaping opinion on impeachment and tying up phone lines.
- On Monday, the House released transcripts of its depositions with Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley. McKinley said he repeatedly tried to get Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come to Yovanovitch’s defense publicly.
- Pompeo did not, and McKinley resigned citing the State Department being used for politics. Pompeo recently said in an interview on ABC McKinley never expressed concerns, saying, “I never heard him say a single thing.”
- Yovanovitch said she got a call at 1 a.m. in April from the Director General of the Foreign Service telling her to get the next flight home, citing control of her “security.” When she asked why, she was told, “I don’t know.”
- When asked about Pompeo’s refusal to defend her, Yovanovitch said she was told Pompeo or someone around him would need to call Fox News host Sean Hannity to find out about allegations against her on his show.
- Yovanovitch said Gordon Sondland urged her to tweet support of Trump to save her job, saying, “you know the sorts of things that he likes. You know, go out there battling aggressively and, you know, praise him or support him.”
- Yovanovitch said she felt threatened by Trump telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky she was “bad news” and would “go through some things,” and feared Trump could retaliate: “I didn’t know what it meant. I was very concerned. I still am.”
- Yovanovitch said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov expressed concern to her in February about the country getting embroiled in U.S. politics, citing Manafort’s “black ledger” and a Biden investigation.
- Yovanovitch said Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, teamed up with Rudy Giuliani to work around the system, and worked to smear her as undermining Trump’s agenda with Ukraine, which he later recanted.
- On Monday, NYT reported Pompeo faces his most perilous time in office as the impeachment inquiry looks into what he knew, and diplomats are revolting against his leadership and testifying in the inquiry.
- Notably as CIA director, Pompeo testified to Congress that Russia interfered in the election. Now as Secretary of State, he has reversed and is openly backing the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, did the hacking.
- Pompeo helped Trump and Giuliani oust Yovanovitch. McKinley testified Pompeo refused to “say a single thing” about her ouster. Pompeo has also tried to block State Department officials from testifying in the inquiry.
- Career officials accused Pompeo of abandoning veteran diplomats and allowing Trump’s personal agenda to infect foreign policy. He is facing a revolt as officials say he has damaged the department and morale is at rock bottom.
- He has also drawn fire for four trips to Kansas while he considers a Senate run , most recently with Ivanka. The Kansas City Star Editorial Board wrote, “Pompeo should quit and run for Senate or do his job at State.”
- On Monday, Reuters reported lawyers for Lev Parnas said he will comply with the impeachment inquiry. Parnas helped Giuliani look for political dirt on Joe Biden.
- Parnas’s new attorney, Joseph Bondy, who replaced John Dowd, explained the change of heart, saying, “Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him.”
- NYT reported Trump had signed off on Parnas using Dowd in an October 2 email. Dowd had said Trump’s support was sought “simply as a courtesy.” Parnas had previously been in Trump’s camp, and refused to cooperate.
- On Monday, Reuters reported Ukraine plans to fire prosecutor Kostiantyn Kulyk, who led the investigations into Burisma. The decision comes as Ukraine tried to avoid getting drawn into U.S. partisan politics.
- On Monday, Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox News that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, and “the State Department’s role in all of this.”
- On Tuesday, Michael Duffey, a top official on the White House budget office, and Wells Griffith, a senior aide to Energy Department Sec. Rick Perry, refused to appear before the House impeachment inquiry.
- On Tuesday, the impeachment depositions of Kurt Volker and Sondland were released by the House. The day prior, Sondland released four pages of new sworn testimony, laying out his involvement in the quid pro quo.
- Sondland claimed reading the testimony of William Taylor and Timothy Morrison had “refreshed my recollection.” He provided a description of his involvement in telling Ukraine military aid was dependent on opening investigations.
- Sondland said he was not forthcoming in his testimony about his texts to Taylor, acknowledging he did know by then that military aid to Ukraine was contingent on the investigations.
- His new testimony contradicted that he was pushing the quid pro quo as a lone wolf, instead claiming he was just the messenger, who understood that aid was linked to investigations, and articulated it that way to others.
- Sondland said on September 1, while PresidentZelensky was meeting with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss aid, he discussed the linkage to aid to opening investigations with Andriy Yermak, a top Zelensky adviser.
- On Tuesday, the White House pushed back on his new testimony, saying Sondland failed to cite a “solid source,” and “no amount of salacious media-biased headlines” change that Trump “has done nothing wrong.”
- On Wednesday, Graham questioned why Sondland changed his testimony on Fox News, musing, “Was there a connection between [Sondland] and Democratic operatives,” or “Did he talk to Schiff” or his staffers?
- On Tuesday, the transcripts revealed both Volker and Sondland testified that at a May 23 meeting, Trump complained about suspicions Ukraine tried to undermine his 2016 campaign, and they were “trying to take him down.”
- Volker also testified that Trump said of Ukraine, “They are all corrupt, they are all terrible people,” and “I don’t want to spend any time with that.” Volker said Giuliani amplified Trump’s “negative narrative” about Ukraine.
- Volker said he told Giuliani the theories on Ukraine were “not credible.” And said Ukrainians asked to be put in touch with Giuliani, saying because they believed “that information flow would reach the President.”
- Volker said he was surprised and troubled by what was said on the July 25 call, but claimed he did not have a conversation about quid pro quo “because I didn’t know that there was a quid pro quo.”
- Volker said he became aware of the hold-up of aid on July 18, saying although it “struck me as unusual,” he claimed, “Nobody ever gave a reason why.”
- Volker said “the news about a hold on security assistance did not get into Ukrainian government circles” until “the end of August” — bolstering a Trump defense there was not a quid pro quo since Ukraine did not know.
- On Wednesday, WAPO reported Giuliani was cited 480 times in Sondland and Volker’s testimony, and appears to have played a central role in driving Ukraine policy. Trump seemed to refer to him too, saying, “Talk to Rudy.”
- Their testimony showed Trump grew disinterested and pushed responsibility for Ukraine to Giuliani, who took the lead over the State Department, even checking the statement Zelensky was prepared to give.
- On Wednesday, Giuliani announced on Twitter that he has assembled a legal team for the criminal investigation into his activities related to Ukraine, including his longtime friend, Robert Costello.
- Giuliani tweeted, “The evidence…will show that this present farce is as much a frame-up and hoax as Russian collusion, maybe worse.” Hiring counsel shows how seriously Giuliani is taking the inquiry in Manhattan.
- NYT reported it took Giuliani weeks to find lawyers willing to represent him. At least four prominent lawyers turned him down, including Mary Jo White, Theodore Wells Jr., Daniel Stein, and Paul Shechtman.
- On Wednesday, NYT reported the $500,000 paid to Giuliani’s firm by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman’s Fraud Guarantee in September and October 2018 came from lawyer Charles Gucciardo, a GOP donor and Trump supporter.
- On Monday, at a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, Trump again attacked the whistleblower, saying they “said lots of things that weren’t so good, folks. You’re going to find out,” adding, “These are very dishonest people.”
- WAPO reported Trump has made the false claim that the whistleblower misrepresented the call more than 100 times in the past six weeks. Experts noted a form of gaslighting: repeating the falsehood to make a lie credible.
- Trump has called the whistleblower’s allegations “false,” “fraudulent,” “wrong,” “incorrect,” “so bad,” “very inaccurate,” and “phony.” At the rally, supporters behind him wore t-shirts saying, “Read the Transcript.”
- Trump also told supporters that Matt Bevin losing “sends a really bad message” adding, “you can’t let that happen to me!” The most recent Kentucky governor poll had Bevin up by five points.
- Also at the rally, Sen. Rand Paul demanded the media expose the whistleblower, saying, “do your job and print his name.” The whistleblower’s lawyer said Paul “betrays the interests of the Constitution and the American people.”
- On Tuesday, Paul told reporters he “probably will” disclose the name. He later said on Fox News that he “may” disclose the name, saying, “There’s nothing that prevents me from saying it now.”
- Shortly after, Paul tweeted an article by Real Clear Investigations which speculated on the whistleblower’s identity and gave considerable detail including the name, photograph, and political history of a CIA professional.
- Shortly after, Russia state media outlets TASS, RT, and Rossiya-1 disseminated the information speculating on the whistleblower, but falsely claimed the source was the Washington Post.
- On Wednesday, Donald Jr. tweeted a Breitbart story that named the person believed to be the whistleblower, and added the name to the text of his tweet. Fox News hosts have been instructed not to mention the name.
- On Wednesday, a lawyer for the whistleblower said, “Identifying any name for the whistleblower will simply place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm,” and “we will not confirm or deny any name.”
- A second lawyer called Donald Jr. speculating on the identity “disgusting and reckless,” adding, “It puts the individual in danger, no matter if he is the whistleblower or not, and is an insult to the federal whistleblower law.”
- On Thursday, Donald Jr. defended himself on “The View.” When a co-host called the outing “something dictators do,” he responded “For days, he’s been out there in the media,” and “I’m a private citizen.”
- On Wednesday, Paul blocked a Senate resolution put forward by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Mazie Hirono which acknowledged “the contributions of whistleblowers” protected them from retaliation.
- On Wednesday, NYT reported Donald Jr. also retweeted an unsubstantiated claim shared by right-wing commentator Jack Posobiec that Alexander Vindman had bashed America to Russian officers in 2013.
- On Tuesday, Election Day, Democrats won control of the Virginia House and Senate, giving Democrats control of the state government for the first time in 26 years. Democrats also won the Kentucky governor seat.
- Democrats won decisively in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Democrats won control of the Delaware County Council for the first time since the Civil War. Pennsylvania is an important swing state.
- On Wednesday, WAPO reported the outcome in Kentucky embarrassed Trump who had just campaigned there, and worried Republicans for 2020. Trump won the state by 30 points in 2016.
- While aides tried to spin the loss as an anomaly, saying the candidate was unpopular, the GOP candidate had run on embracing Trump and his agenda, and ran against the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
- On Wednesday, Trump held a ceremony at the White House to mark that more than 150 of his judicial picks had been confirmed by the Senate, musing, “How ‘bout adding another 100 or so?”
- Trump said his picks might only be topped by George Washington, and lamented liberal “activist” judges, including ones who have blocked his travel bans and attempts to limit immigration.
- Trump also said he will host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 13 at the White House, despite Turkey’s invasion of Syria, on the same day public impeachment hearings begin.
- On Thursday, NYT reported in a searing internal memo, the top American diplomat in Syria, William V. Roebuck, criticized the Trump regime for not doing enough to stop the Turkish military offensive.
- Roebuck said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing,” and Trump’s policy shift left Syrian Kurdish allies abandoned and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence.
- Roebuck added, “One day when the diplomatic history is written” people will wonder why officials did not do more to stop “an unprovoked military operation” that killed 200 civilians and displaced over 100,000 people.
- On Thursday, Foreign Policy reported the position of U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, formerly held by Kurt Volker, is expected to be scrapped, and its responsibilities taken up by someone else at the State Department.
- On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron told the Economist that Europe can no longer count on the U.S. to defend its NATO allies, after Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.
- Macron said Trump “doesn’t share our idea of the European project,” and “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” and Europe needs to needs to start thinking of itself as a geopolitical power.
- On Wednesday, WSJ reported the White House is bringing on Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general, and Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department spokesman, to bolster Trump’s impeachment strategy.
- Bringing on Bondi and Sayegh is a tacit acknowledgement by the Trump regime that it needs a strategy and coordinated response to impeachment. Trump has resisted forming a team despite pressure from GOP lawmakers.
- On Wednesday, a Morning Consult poll found support for impeachment fell to 47% from a mid-October high of 51%. Voters who heard “a lot” about the House vote were more likely to support impeachment.
- On Tuesday, Roll Call reported according to the transcripts released in the inquiry, most GOP members of the three committees have not shown up. Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2-to-1 during Sondland’s testimony.
- On Tuesday, CBS News reported Republicans are considering moving Rep. Jim Jordan to the House Intelligence Committee, and having him take the lead role from Rep. Devin Nunes as the impeachment inquiry heats up.
- On Thursday, a professional referee became the second person who said he told Jordan about sexual misconduct at Ohio State by a former doctor who allegedly sexually abused nearly 300 men over 17 years.
- On Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that Jordan would officially be joining the House Impeachment Committee for hearings next week, replacing Rep. Rick Crawford.
- On Wednesday, David Hale, the State Department’s third-ranking official, testified behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry for more than six hours, and was expected to testify about Yovanovitch’s ouster.
- AP reported Hale was expected to say Secretary Pompeo and other senior officials determined publicly defending Yovanovitch would hurt efforts to free up military aid to Ukraine, and would upset Giuliani.
- On Wednesday, two other witnesses who were scheduled to testify — Russ Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Energy Department Sec. Rick Perry — did not show up.
- On Wednesday, the House released a 300-page transcript of William Taylor’s testimony. Taylor said it was Giuliani’s idea to have Zelensky commit to the political investigations.
- Taylor said there was clear quid pro quo, saying, “that was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation.”
- Taylor also said there was a second quid pro quo, involving a meeting with Trump: “By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations.”
- Taylor also mentioned a “nightmare” scenario where Zelensky would publicly promise an investigation, which got him into “big trouble” in the U.S. and Ukraine, and ultimately benefited Russia.
- Taylor said Giuliani spearheaded the drive to get Zelensky to announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals, and that Giuliani was acting on behalf of Trump.
- Taylor said Bolton “was very sympathetic” to his concerns about aid, and Bolton “was also trying, with the two secretaries [Pompeo and Defense Sec. Mark Esper] and the director of the CIA, to get this decision reversed.”
- Taylor said an NSC meeting to discuss Ukraine aid was hard to schedule because the focus was on Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, and there was “discomfort” in the State Department about Sondland’s role in Ukraine.
- Taylor said he kept “careful notes” in a “little notebook where I take notes on conversations.” He also had “handwritten notes…on a small, little spiral notebook in my office of phone calls that take place in my office.”
- On Wednesday, Sen. Graham, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will not read the transcripts of testimony, calling the process an illegitimate “sham” and “bunch of B.S.”
- Graham also tried a new defense of Trump, claiming Trump’s Ukraine policy was “incoherent,” and saying, “They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo.”
- On Wednesday, Trump held a rally in in Monroe, Louisiana. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana stood on stage with Trump, and said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “I don’t mean any disrespect but it must suck to be that dumb.”
- Trump raged against House Democrats for pursuing a “deranged, delusional, destructive, and hyper-partisan impeachment witch hunt,” adding, “It’s all a hoax, it’s a scam.”
- Trump also accused Democrats of “ becoming increasingly totalitarian,” accusing them of “staging show trials” and “trying to overthrow American democracy to impose their socialist agenda.”
- Trump also said, “I had a perfect phone call, a totally perfect phone call,” and said the whistleblower made a “horrible statement” about his July 25 call, and then “disappeared” after the transcript was released.
- Trump also falsely claimed that Joe Biden pushed for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son, saying, “That’s called a quid pro quo. Not here.”
- Trump made a brief mention of Hillary Clinton, whom he called “Crooked Hillary,” leading his supporters to chant, “Lock her up!” He also referred to Democratic 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.”
- Reporters indicated that starting around halfway through Trump’s 72-minute speech, a steady stream of supporters stood up and left. The venue was filled to capacity according to Trump’s campaign.
- On Wednesday, WAPO reported around September 25, when the White House released the July 25 call transcript, Trump wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference and say Trump did not break the law in the call.
- The request traveled from Trump to White House officials, who then passed it on to the DOJ. Barr declined to do so, but the DOJ issued a statement saying it would not investigate for campaign finance violations.
- The DOJ pushed to release the transcript following reporting on the whistleblower complaint, wrongly assuming it would quell the controversy since Trump did not explicitly push for quid pro quo.
- Trump has mentioned Barr’s unwillingness to make a statement to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished he had done so, but the two remain on good terms. The DOJ had tried to distance itself from Trump and Giuliani on the matter.
- Later Wednesday, just after midnight, in a series of tweets, Trump pushed back on the story, tweeting, “Years ago, when Media was legitimate…“Fact Checkers” would always call to check and see if a story was accurate.”
- Trump also tweeted now, “they just write whatever they want!” adding, “The story in the Amazon Washington Post, of course picked up by Fake News CNN…is totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story.”
- Trump also again evoked the phrase “enemy of the people,” tweeting, “the LameStream Media, which is The Enemy of the People,” of “working overtime with made up stories in order to drive dissension and distrust!”
- On Thursday, Trump continued his attacks in the morning, tweeting, “Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine,” calling it a “Fake Washington Post con job with an “anonymous” source that doesn’t exist.”
- Trump also tweeted, “The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr,” adding,“Never happened, and there were no sources!” In a separate tweet, Trump wrote “Read the Transcript!”
- Shortly after, Trump continued, tweeting, “The Amazon Washington Post and three lowlife reporters, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, and Carol Leonnig, wrote another Fake News story, without any sources.”
- Trump also called WAPO, “a garbage newspaper!” and accused “The Radical Left Dems and LameStream Media” of making it harder for him to win, and citing the “new Impeachment Hoax” turning against them.
- In a statement, WAPO Executive Editor Marty Baron responded, saying the Post fully stands by the story and its reporters. The story was also later confirmed by NYT and ABC News.
- On Friday, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, and Sheldon Whitehouse filed a FOIA request seeking documents related to Trump’s alleged call for Barr to hold a press conference.
- In their filing, the three cited “serious concerns” about Trump’s perception of the DOJ “as a partisan political instrument and his willingness to use the power of federal law enforcement in pursuit of his own objectives.”
- Trump also called for the end of the impeachment inquiry, citing a 2017 tweet by Mark Zaid, “the Fake Whistleblowers attorney,” predicting his impeachment, and tweeting “the Impeachment Hoax should be ended IMMEDIATELY!”
- Trump also falsely claimed, “I get NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS. It is a Pelosi, Schiff, Scam against the Republican Party and me,” adding, “This Witch Hunt should not be allowed to proceed!”
- On Thursday, Daily Beast reported Trump and “Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett have discussions about doing another TV series together, possibly “The Apprentice: White House.” Trump misses being a reality TV host.
- On Thursday, in response to a request for witnesses sent by Chair Adam Schiff to ranking member Nunes, Jim Jordan responded instead, saying Republicans want to subpoena the whistleblower.
- On Thursday, NYT reported Zelensky met with two U.S. Senators in early September and was told if the $400 million in military aid was not released by Trump by September 30, it could be lost entirely.
- All of Zelensky top aides were in favor of bowing to Trump’s demands except Alexander Danyliuk, the director of the NSC, who resigned and said Zelensky would need to “correct the mistakes” in U.S. relations.
- Negotiations for a statement for Zelenksy happened between Kurt Volker and his senior aide Andriy Yermak in August. U.S. diplomats agreed to drop mention of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election.
- Taylor testified that Trump wanted the statement made on CNN. Aides for Zelensky, cautious not to upset Trump, noted his negative tweets about CNN, but then also noticed Trump was attacking Fox News.
- Zelensky decided to make a statement on September 13 on CNN show hosted by Fareed Zakaria. Two days before, news had been leaked out about the aid, Congress was in an uproar and aid was released. Zelensky canceled the interview.
- On Thursday, Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer and special adviser to Pence for Europe and Russia, appeared before the House committees on the impeachment inquiry. She was issued a subpoena.
- Williams likely would have briefed Pence ahead of his meeting with Zelensky on September 1. She was also the second on the July 25 call to testify. Pence claimed he was not aware of Trump’s demands to Zelensky.
- John Bolton however did not appear for his scheduled impeachment deposition. Bolton has not been issued a subpoena. WAPO reported Bolton is willing to appear if the federal court clears the way.
- On Thursday, House Democrats dropped efforts to get testimony from Bolton, after his lawyer threatened to file a lawsuit if he was subpoenaed. Both Democrats and Republicans have said they want to hear from Bolton.
- House Democrats also withdrew their subpoena from Charles Kupperman on Wednesday, citing the drawn out time for a legal battle. Oral arguments would have started December 10.
- Instead the House will rely on the outcome of a similar ongoing case with Don McGahn, heard by a different judge in the same courthouse. She is likely to issue an opinion in November.
- On Thursday, CNN reported House Democrats plan to fast-track the impeachment inquiry, limiting the number of witnesses and avoiding court battles. Sources say the timeline has not been finalized.
- Democrats plan to hold public hearings for two weeks, write a report over Thanksgiving break, have two weeks for debate, and then a full House vote before Christmas. Trump would be the third president to be impeached.
- On Thursday, House investigators released the transcript of George Kent’s testimony. Kent said he had written contemporaneous memos of specific conversations he had witnessed related to quid pro quo.
- Kent testified he believed the Trump-Ukraine conduct was “injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S.” His notes are in the property of the State Department, and have not been turned over despite a subpoena.
- He told Catherine Croft on August 15, on asking Ukraine to investigate, “that goes against everything that we are trying to promote in post Soviet states for the last 28 years, which is the promotion of the rule of law.”
- Kent also testified Giuliani started a “campaign of slander” against Yovanovitch in mid-March, and was aided by journalist John Solomon, and Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
- On Thursday, WAPO reported House Republicans’ strategy to shield Trump is raise motives about his deputies — Sondland, Giuliani, and Mick Mulvaney — and say they could have acted alone, and make them the fall guy.
- On Thursday, Pence denied allegations in the anonymous author’s book that he would have backed removal of Trump under the 25th Amendment, and added, “I never heard any discussion in my entire tenure.”
- Pence also told reporters there was “no quid pro quo,” adding Trump “made military support available for Ukraine,” and, “The American people have the transcript” of Trump’s call.
- On Thursday, lawyers for the whistleblower sent the White House a cease and desist letter, demanding Trump stop calling for the outing of the whistleblower’s name, and citing his “reckless and dangerous” comments.
- The letter to White House counsel states: “should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client.”
- On Thursday, journalist Bill Moyer called on PBS to televise the impeachment hearings live, and repeat the broadcast in primetime for Americans who work to see, as was done with Watergate.
- On Thursday, a USC Dornsife/LA Times poll found 44% believe the House should vote to impeach, 30% say they should not, and 26% say they do not know or it is too soon to tell.
- On Thursday, advance copies of “A Warning” came out, describing Trump as cruel, inept, and a danger to the nation. Anonymous said the ‘quiet resistance’ inside the regime would not steer Trump in the right direction.
- The author described Trump as unfit, reckless, and without full control of his faculties, saying he is “like a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately.”
- The author claimed senior regime officials considered resigning en masse in a “midnight self-massacre” to sound the public alarm, but decided not to, citing it would destabilize the already fragile government.
- On Friday, Trump said he has not agreed to scrap tariffs on China including finalizing “phase one” of the trade deal, after holding a celebratory ceremony in the Oval Office in Week 152.
- On Friday, before heading to Georgia, Trump stopped and spoke to reporters on the South Lawn, after avoiding the press for two days — highly unusual for Trump.
- Trump told reporters of Sondland, “Let me just tell you: I hardly know the gentleman.” Sondland donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund and has flown several times on Air Force One.
- Trump said of the impeachment hearings next week, after complaining about closed door hearings recently, “they shouldn’t be having public hearings,” adding, “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”
- Trump also said, “Everybody that’s testified, even the ones that are Trump haters, they’ve all been fine. They don’t have anything,” again saying his call “transcript is perfect,” and “My phone call was perfect.”
- Trump also said the whistleblower “is a disgrace to our country,” and their identity “should be revealed,” and their lawyer “should be sued. And maybe for treason. Maybe for treason.”
- Trump also said “Nancy Pelosi should go back to her district, which is horrible. It’s filthy. It’s drug-infested. The stuff’s being flown out to the ocean — it’s being wiped out to the ocean through their drainage systems.”
- Trump said of the WAPO story, “if I asked Bill Barr to have a press conference I think he’d do it,” placing him at odds with Barr. Then he added, “But I never asked him to have a press conference. Why should I?”
- Trump complained about the media and Democrats, saying, “you’ve really shaped my behavior,” citing “phony stuff” and “false investigations,” adding, “a lot of my behavior was shaped by the fake news and by the other side.”
- Trump also told reporters Putin invited him to Russia’s Victory Day parade on May 9, and he is “thinking about it,” adding, “It is right in the middle of political season,” but “I would love to go if I could.”
- Later Friday, Trump courted African-American voters at the launch of “Black Voices for Trump” in Atlanta. Roughly 300 attended. Trump told reporters Democrats’ “sinister effort” to get him out of office will not work.
- Trump said the inquiry is a “deranged, hyperpartisan impeachment witch hunt,” and “failing fast. It’s all a hoax,” and blamed Democrats for urban issues like crime, saying, “Pelosi should go back home to San Francisco.”
- On Friday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defied a House subpoena and skipped his scheduled closed door deposition, saying he was not coming because he had “absolute immunity.”
- On Friday, the transcripts of Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill’s testimony were released by House impeachment investigators. Both Vindman and Hill are in discussion about publicly testifying.
- Hill said after it became public that she would cooperate, she was threatened: “I received…death threats, calls at my home. My neighbors reported somebody coming and hammering on my door.”
- The transcripts showed Chair Schiff sparred with Rep. Matt Gaetz when he attempted to enter the closed door hearing while Hill testified, with Schiff saying, “You’re not permitted to be in the room,” and “absent yourself.”
- Hill testified there was a “good chance” Russia had kompromat on Trump during the 2016 campaign, and it “often is factual,” adding, “then they will sprinkle into that disinformation.”
- Hill testified that Giuliani and Sondland side-stepped typical NSC and White House processes for foreign policy, and Giuliani undercut and derailed U.S. diplomats charged with the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.
- Hill said the ouster of Yovanovitch was a turning point for her leaving, and that Giuliani was behind Yovanovitch’s “defamation.” Bolton’s reaction was Giuliani is a “hand grenade that is going to blow everyone up.”
- Hill also said the campaign against Yovanovitch was “ruthless and nasty,” and had “a really devastating effect” on career diplomats like herself, and on female diplomats in particular.
- Hill said reading the July 25 transcript and Volker’s texts were her “worst fears and nightmares” realized, adding there were “an awful lot of people” involved in turning “a White House meeting into some kind of asset.”
- Hill said Sondland told her on multiple occasions he was overseeing the Ukraine relationship, on Trump’s authority. She worried Sondland would become a “target for foreign powers” for offering White House access.
- Hill and Vindman testified Sondland told Ukrainian officials at a July 10 meeting they would need to open an investigation to secure a White House meeting. Sondland said he was acting at the direction of Mulvaney.
- Hill and Vindman testified that the quid pro quo effort was coordinated by Mulvaney. Vindman said he heard of the first hold on Ukraine aid by July 3, and later learned it came from Mulvaney’s office.
- Vindman said “there was no doubt” that Trump was seeking political investigations of political rivals, and that Zelensky would “need to fulfill this particular prerequisite in order to get the meeting.”
- In total, Democrats released 2,677 pages of testimony from eight impeachment witnesses. Overall, the House committees have called 33 witnesses to testify and 16 have appeared so far.
- Later Friday, in a letter to Congress, Bolton’s attorney said his client knows about “many relevant meetings and conversations” connected to the Ukraine pressure campaign that the House has not yet covered.
- Bolton’s attorney said his client would be willing to testify, but would first need a court ruling hat he should ignore White House objections. The attorney, Charles Cooper, also represents Kupperman.
- Cooper also argued, unlike others who have testified in the inquiry, Bolton and Kupperman did not have the same constraint since they “did not provide direct advice to the president on a regular or frequent basis.
- Late Friday, attorneys for Mulvaney asked to join a federal lawsuit filed by Kupperman seeking a judicial ruling on whether Congress can compel Trump’s senior advisers to testify in the impeachment inquiry.
- In reaction to the House asking the judge to dismiss Kupperman’s case on Wednesday, Cooper said in a letter Friday that Kupperman and Bolton want to get a “definitive judgment” on whether to testify.
- Mulvaney’s attorneys said he and Kupperman face identical competing demands, although Kupperman has left his position. Mulvaney said he fears the House will hold him in contempt for not appearing.
- On Friday, WSJ reported in late February, Parnas and Fruman urged former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to announce investigations in Trump’s political opponents in exchange for a White House meeting.
- The three met at the offices of then Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, shortly after Parnas and Fruman met with Giuliani and Lutsenko in New York in late January, and then again in Warsaw in mid-February.
- Poroshenko was in a tight race and wanted to have a state dinner with Trump, then do an interview with a news outlet, then he would announce the investigations. His approval sagged and the meeting did not happen.
- Lutsenko told the Hill in March that he was opening an investigation into interference by Ukraine in 2016, and had evidence to present to the DOJ on Joe Biden and Burisma. He later found no wrongdoing by the Bidens.
- On Saturday, early in the morning and continuing through the day, Trump sent a flurry of tweets attacking the impeachment probe, witnesses, and Democrats. He retweeted 17 messages in one hour alone, hammering Democrats.
- Trump also tweeted, “Fake News is reporting that I am talking to Mark Burnett about doing a big show,” adding, “which I would assume they mean in 5 years,” and “This is not true,” and “False reporting!”
- Trump also promoted his son’s book, tweeting, “Just finished reading my son Donald’s just out new book, “Triggered.” It is really good! He, along with many of us, was very unfairly treated. But we all fight back.”
- In his book, Donald Jr. wrote that a visit to Arlington National Cemetery reminded him of all his family’s sacrifices, saying, “we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make.”
- Trump also promoted another book, tweeting, “Bringing the word “Nationalism” back into the mainstream — great job by Rich Lowry!” adding, “Very important book.”
- Trump also tweeted, “the Witch Hunt continues. After 3 years of relentless attacks against the Republican Party & me,” adding, “the Do Nothing Dems are losers for America!” and “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
- On Saturday, House Republicans sent a list of witnesses they want to call in the impeachment hearings, including Hunter Biden, Nellie Ohr, a board member of Burisma, Volker, Morrison, and the whistleblower.
- Chair Schiff responded, “This inquiry is not, and will not serve…to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”
- On Saturday, NPR annotated the whistleblower complaint based on public record of testimony in the impeachment inquiry, and found most of the content has already been corroborated.
- On Saturday, Trump told reporters he will “probably” release the transcript on Tuesday of a second call with Zelensky on April 12 after he won the election, saying, “They ask for it, and I gladly give it.”
- Trump also said on the hearings, “I don’t care if public — they should be public. What I said it was misreported as usual. What I said is very simple. There should not be anything. There should not be impeachment hearings.”