As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.
Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.
But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.
It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts. And it’s unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.
But the affair shows how those with ties to Trump and his administration were pursuing business deals in Ukraine that went far beyond advancing the president’s personal political interests. It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry resigned late last week, as this news was breaking.
You know, this administration is the master of projection. If they accuse someone of child molestation, you can be pretty sure they themselves are child molesters.
A federal judge just dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the Manhattan District Attorney from obtaining the president’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump’s argument that the presidency makes him immune to any investigation by any prosecutor.
In his 75-page ruling, Marrero called such a claim “extraodinary” and wrote that “This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process.”
Rather, the judge suggests there is a better balance between protecting the president’s interests and ensuring justice >>> pic.twitter.com/hHOenzvbYo
Trump’s lawyers say the release of his tax returns would cause him “irreparable harm.” He has long said he’s happy to release them but that they’re being audited and he can’t. If they are so explosive, as his lawyers say, doesn’t that buttress the public need to see them? https://t.co/Sp3sNiWz3M
UPDATE: The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York granted an emergency stay, after U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero earlier in the day rejected Trump’s request for an injunction blocking the subpoena for the records. The Second Circuit will hear the appeal on an expedited basis.
The Radical Left Democrats have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump. A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!
But I’ll give dollars to donuts he talked to Putin about this.
This morning, Americans woke to this… out of the blue:
So President Trump has given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria. Basically, we’re fucking the Kurds hard. The Kurdish fighters, which are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., have been the United States’ most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic corner of northern Syria
Trump’s decision goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department who have sought to keep a small troop presence in northeast Syria to continue operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and to act as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia
And it is happening fast. Witnesses in Syria saw United States forces withdrawing from two positions in northeastern Syria: observation posts in Tel Abyad and Ein Eissa
Trump tried to explain…
Getting rid of the ISIS Caliphate means nothing if you leave tens of thousands of ISIS fighters behind, and unchecked.
With the betrayal of the Kurds and Trump’s full-on America first tweet storm this morning, is there a single principled internationalist, a single believer in American global leadership somewhere in the Trump Administration who will resign in protest?
Here are reactions, from all quarters:
Let us be clear: The president has sided with authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Russia over our loyal allies and America’s own interests. His decision is a sickening betrayal both of the Kurds and his oath of office.
Syria Kurdish official told us, reacting to Trump’s overnight decision. “The Americans are traitors. They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre. We can no longer fight against isis and have to defend ourselves. This could allow isis to return to the region.”
We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend
With not one but two Trump Towers in Turkey, it begs the obvious question: is Trump abandoning Kurdish allies and leaving them to a dire fate because he thinks it’s in the US national interest, or because he fears the consequences to Trump Org profits if he alienates Turkey? https://t.co/GIAKKCPvyQ
Brett McGurk was a special envoy within the Bush, Obama and Trump Administrations before he resigned at the end of last year because Trump pulled troops from Syria:
Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.
Bottom line: Trump tonight after one call with a foreign leader provided a gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS. FWIW, I warned of this here in @ForeignAffairs — and recommended alternatives given the hard realities on the ground and in this White House. https://t.co/QHYzI7dgEi
Much focus on the President’s boast about his wisdom. But this threat–” I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”–should be the focus. “Unhinged” is a euphemism here. Can’t wait to hear Hannity, Hobbs, Giuliani explain this one.
Aaand Trump just responded, obviously stung by the notion that this helps Russia:
….down, watching over a quagmire, & spending big dollars to do so. When I took over, our Military was totally depleted. Now it is stronger than ever before. The endless and ridiculous wars are ENDING! We will be focused on the big picture, knowing we can always go back & BLAST!
….the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!
If the leader of a major corporation publicly explained that a controversial action was taken “in my great and unmatched wisdom,” the board would call an emergency meeting to reassure shareholders and discuss next steps. For elected officials to ignore this is Russian roulette.
Much focus on the President’s boast about his wisdom. But this threat–” I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”–should be the focus. “Unhinged” is a euphemism here. Can’t wait to hear Hannity, Hobbs, Giuliani explain this one.
One State Department person said that Erdogan in Turkey seemed to expect US troops to assist him in entering Syria, and Trump would make it right with international sentiment. Jesus. I wonder what has to been said to Erdogan in the past to make him think that!
With impeachment looming, Trump started this week by attacking the credibility of House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and the whistleblower, both of whom he also endangered with his rhetoric. Midweek, Trump shifted strategy, openly soliciting foreign help from China and Ukraine in the 2020 election on national television, speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of White House. Republicans remained silent on Trump’s unprecedented request, which the head of the Federal Election Commission reminded the country, in a tweet, is illegal.
This week others in the regime became ensnared in the inquiry, as reporting revealed the involvement of not only Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, but also Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and possibly Vice President Mike Pence, among others. Three House committee chairs sent subpoenas to Pompeo, Pence, and at the end of the week, the White House, and witnesses started to appear before House investigators in private hearings. Polling showed a dramatic shift in attitudes towards impeachment, with the majority of Americans now in favor.
As noted last week, I had always thought as we approached the end of Trump’s time in power, the lists would balloon: following last week’s 225 not normal items — 20 items longer than any previous list — this week we hit 240 items. In addition to the news on impeachment, this week’s list has many important stories on the continued degradation of American values and the regime’s cruelty, which got lost in the chaos of the news cycle.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted a video calling impeachment “the single greatest scam in the history of American politics,” adding, “It is disgraceful what the Do Nothing Democrats are doing (the Impeachment Scam).”
Giuliani told “This Week” of Bossert, he “doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” and “Everything I did was to defend my client and I am proud of having uncovered what will turn out to be a massive pay-for-play scheme.”
Also Monday, Giuliani told Fox Business News that Schiff “stood in front of the American people with millions of people listening and he lied,” adding, “just like he lied when he said he had direct evidence of Russian collusion.”
The letter from the three chairs cites “credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President.”
People at the meeting included Kirstjen Nielsen; Pompeo; Kevin McAleenan; Stephen Miller; Jared Kushner, and other senior staffers. Trump said “I ran on this” and “You are making me look like an idiot!”
On Thursday, a second Republican senator, Joni Ernst, also from Iowa, joined Grassley, saying, “I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place,” adding, “Whistleblowers should be protected.”
As Schiff was speaking, Trump tweeted, “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT,” adding he “got overwhelmingly elected.”
Pence’s actions came as the U.S. ambassador to Kiev was abruptly recalled, Giuliani inserted himself into the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and alarms were raised inside the White House about the whistleblower complaint.
The Trump regime dismissed the complaint as flimsy because it was based on conversations with other government officials, but House Democrats were alarmed by the complaint which was flagged in a federal court filing.
Trump also tweeted, “This is a fraud against the American people!” However, documents, firsthand witness accounts, and public statements by Trump over two weeks have bolstered the facts outlined in the complaint.
From yesterday. It is very unconvincing in several places, particularly read in conjunction that makes it clear there was a quid pro quo tied to security assistance and aid. Most charitably, it reads like the narrative of someone whose intentions were good, but in denial about his actions in service of an ultimate outcome — the continued provision of aid to Ukraine.
The key new detail in Volker’s statement, beyond what we already knew, is confirmation that not only did OMB freeze assistance to Ukraine, but it also froze notifications about security assistance to Congress, effectively hiding the fact that Trump was using the aid authorized by Congress to extort election assistance from Ukraine
Republicans should be furious that, first, Trump ignored the stated will of Congress on something they all claimed to care about and, second, that Trump’s OMB very specifically froze them out of notice they were entitled to have, as Congress.
Again, this scandal is not just about Trump demanding that other countries help him get reelected. It’s also about Trump defying the will of Congress to obtain leverage to extort that aid. Now we know that he even deliberately kept Congress in the dark about what he was doing.
The media has not picked up on this, but it goes a long way to explaining Lindsay Graham, who once said that if Trump is elected, it will be the end of democracy. Now, he is hardcore Trump. Is this why?
I have doubts that Trump will be impeached, let alone removed. The bar is so low, but it has moved incrementally. He almost would have to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue before Republicans in Congress get a backbone.
I mean, here’s the latest:
Two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine worked on a statement for the country’s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, according to three people briefed on the effort and documents released Thursday night.
Their work on the statement is new evidence of how Mr. Trump’s fixation with conspiracy theories linked to Ukraine began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the president’s political agenda in the weeks after a July 25 call between the two leaders.
President Trump ordered the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine after months of complaints from allies outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that she was undermining him abroad and obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter.
The recall of Marie Yovanovitch in the spring has become a key point of interest in the House impeachment inquiry. A whistleblower complaint by a CIA officer alleges the president solicited foreign interference in the 2020 elections by pressing Ukraine’s president in a July 25 call to pursue investigations, including into the activities of Mr. Biden, a Democrat who is running for president.
Here is a document dump of texts given at the Kurt Volker deposition showing the political pressure put on Ukraine.
This is what really scandalous text messages look like. And guess what? Not even one of them is sent or received by @petestrzok or Lisa Page.
The texts indicate that the U.S. ambassador to the EU and the former State Department special envoy to Ukraine were actively working to persuade Ukraine to publicly commit to an investigation as an explicit condition for an in-person meeting between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The messages provide the clearest picture yet of how the State Department worked with Giuliani in order to advance President Trump’s political goals.
“Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington,” former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker said in one exchange with a top Zelensky aide on July 25, just before the now-infamous call between Trump and Zelensky. That call formed the initial basis of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Volker — who resigned from the State Department on Sept. 27 and provided a deposition before Congress on Thursday — even worked to draft language for a potential Zelensky statement announcing the probe. Zelensky never made the announcement.
The texts show that Volker and Sondland — both Trump political appointees — repeatedly discussed the need to settle on the exact wording that Zelensky should use to announce a potential probe into the origins of allegations that were a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that Hunter Biden joined the board of in 2014 while his father was vice president and overseeing the U.S.’s relations with Ukraine. Trump has repeatedly lobbed allegations of corruption in relation to the arrangement, but there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
The two ambassadors settled on the following language for the announcement that never transpired, according to the texts: “We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections.”
The messages also show an alarmed Zelensky advisor, Andrey Yermak, contacting Volker in late August after Trump decided to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid from the country. Trump has claimed that he withheld the funds to try to force European countries to contribute more to Ukraine’s defense. But in the July call with Zelensky, Trump explicitly asks for a favor when the Ukrainian president asks about more military defense weapons.
The series of texts show U.S. Charges D’affaires for Ukraine Bill Taylor expressing discomfort with the developments. “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” he asked on Sept. 1.
“Call me,” Sondland replied.
On Sept. 9, Taylor texted Sondland again. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Sondland replied. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s (sic) of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”
He continued, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give [Executive Secretary in the Office of the Secretary of State] Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.”
Note that Taylor is a career diplomat. Sondland is a political appointee and a Trump loyalist. He obviously thinks it’s unwise to discuss this via text message.
And there you have it. Crime and attempt to hide it (stop texting)
My sense is that the public grows weary. “Yeah, but what if Hunter Biden is doing something corrupt? Don’t we have the right to know?” — that’s what I hear and see on social media. They are saying, essentially, that it is okay to investigate people who just happen to be your political enemies. After all, they say, isn’t that what the Obama DOJ did when it started looking into Trump-Russia collusion?
There are a couple of big differences.
For one thing, it was the United States investigating its own people. We weren’t urging or pressuring foreign governments to investigate OUR people. And we weren’t withholding money to fight Russia (which is in our interest) to do so. And Obama wasn’t sending his private lawyer out to do the legwork. And Obama, as far was we know, never targeted Trump for investigation, but rather, allowed his DOJ to follow the hacks where they led.
To simplify: It’s perfectly fine for the POTUS to ask foreign governments to cooperate with open DoJ investigations. It is inappropriate for POTUS to ask foreign governments to open investigations into specific people. It is a major abuse to leverage US policy to force those investigations.
If this is true, Congress should conduct some oversight regarding this investigation, given that Trump turned to foreign governments *instead* of the FBI, and a FBI investigation could help him politically. https://t.co/NvZMDtCetY
The poll numbers are in on impeachment, and it’s not good news for President Donald Trump. A clear plurality of Americans approve of the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump, and they are split on whether they want to impeach and remove him from office. Americans are more eager to impeach Trump now than they were at similar points in the impeachment sagas of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.
Impeachment actions usually start off as being unpopular with the American public. After the House voted to start an impeachment inquiry of Clinton in October 1998, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 45% approved and 53% disapproved. But with Trump, those numbers are reversed. In an average of polls taken since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal inquiry last week, 51% support an impeachment inquiry. A minority, 44%, are against it.
When it comes to impeaching and removing Trump from office, the difference is even more dramatic. An average of polls taken since early last week shows that 46% support impeaching and removing Trump from office. That’s about equal with the 45% who are against such an action.
Some of the support for impeaching Trump and the impeachment inquiry against him may be because of polarization and dislike for the President. Trump’s strongly disapprove rating has consistently been around 50%, and most of the people who disapprove of Trump are for some sort of impeachment action.
Polarization, however, is probably not the root cause of the polling we’re seeing on a possible Trump impeachment. Politics were polarized during Barack Obama’s administration, and not many wanted him impeached and removed. Only 33% of Americans wanted Obama impeached and removed in a July 2014 CNN poll. Most, 65%, didn’t feel that way.
That split came even though Obama was about as a popular (42% approval rating) as Trump is today.
The bottom line: Americans think Trump did something wrong that, at a minimum, deserves to be looked into for possible impeachment. He is in historically unprecedented waters. The impeachment numbers he’s facing now are really not good for him, given where we are in the process.
I guess my problem with the polls is that Trump’s wrongdoing is so blatant. There should be shouting in the streets.
Or maybe everybody else is just tired like me.
UPDATE: Hey! Look who came to the party? Will he stay?
So does he support an impeachment inquiry? Or is the appropriate response to “wrong and appalling” conduct sending some concerned tweets?
UPDATE: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson tells the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. ambassador to the EU (Sondland) told him in August that the status of aid to Ukraine was tied to Trump’s interest in having Kiev investigate certain matters. Johnson confronted Trump, who denied it. (The July 25 call, however, says otherwise).
If Johnson is correct, then Sondland was telling a different story to Taylor.
The cryptically worded request marked urgent from the State Department’s independent watchdog set Congress on edge.
The message, according to Steven A. Linick, the department’s inspector general, was that he needed to meet — and right away — with senior congressional staff members to give them copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine. He signaled that they could be relevant to the House investigation into whether President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.
Some Democrats prepared for an explosive revelation that might show top administration officials had tried to obstruct their work. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers on a caucus conference call that news reports were confirming that the heart of the briefing was about the White House retaliating against State Department staff who complied with the investigation. Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called Mr. Linick’s request “significant” and told lawmakers to “stay tuned.”
So what congressional aides received — a roughly 40-page packet of documents sheathed in a manila envelope decorated with cursive script and manipulated to look aged, with a return address portraying that it had come from the White House — may have been a bit of a letdown.
The packet included documents laying out a record of contacts between Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Ukrainian prosecutors, as well as accounts of Ukrainian law enforcement proceedings. Some of it was established fact and some was unsubstantiated speculation that cast the Bidens in a bad light.
The packet contained a mysteriously curated collection of conspiratorial memos, news clippings and pages photocopied so poorly they were barely legible, according to a review of the dossier. The papers, contained in folders that appeared to be from a Trump hotel, were delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office in May — care of his secretary — by an unknown sender. The inspector general also included a series of emails between State Department officials that were not in the original file.
The memos referred to names that have played prominently in recent weeks, including Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine; Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor general of Ukraine; Hunter Biden; and George Soros, a frequent target of conspiracies.
Perhaps most interestingly, a number of the memos listed a New York address — the Park Avenue office belonging to Mr. Giuliani.
Mr. Giuliani confirmed on Wednesday that the documents summarizing his interviews with the Ukrainian prosecutors were produced by a “professional investigator who works for my company.” Previously, Mr. Giuliani had recounted the interviews in a manner similar to that reflected in the documents. And he had previously described how his team had produced interview summaries modeled after those used by F.B.I. agents.
By the end of the day, some lawmakers, like Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, were calling for further action. “We also need to understand Secretary Pompeo’s role, given that it appears that he discussed these documents with at least one of his top aides and that the documents were distributed at the highest levels of the State Department,” Mr. Menendez said.
But others, like Mr. Raskin, had reached a somewhat more cynical conclusion. This, he told reporters, was an “irrelevant distraction.”
The packet was in an envelope labeled White House and addressed, in calligraphy, to Pompeo with “attn: Ruth” written underneath the secretary’s name. The envelope also included folders labeled “Trump Hotel,” creating another mystery.
What was the urgency in the first place?
Part of me wonders if this was an operation to get the bullshit conspiracy theories — the ones that Rudy, Pompeo and possibly Barr are chasing down in their junkets to Europe — in front of Congress and the public. They are trying to create a “Rudy Dossier” in the hopes that someone will take it up and investigate it, or to justify then fact that Pompeo and Barr are investigating it.
And then the obvious questions: Why was Secretary of State Pompeo in possession of this packet of disinformation? Why did he distribute and circulate it? To whom else did he distribute and circulate it?
One thing that seems clear from the packet is that The Hill‘s John Solomon is clearly part of the misinformation campaign:
In March, The Hill’s investigative reporter John Solomon published a story claiming that the U.S. government had pressured Ukrainian prosecutors to drop a probe of a group funded by the Obama administration and liberal billionaire George Soros. The story was published at 6 p.m., according to a timestamp on the paper’s website. Solomon himself didn’t share it on his Twitter account until 6:56 p.m. that night. The earliest cache of the story in the Internet Archive is from 7:42 p.m. Eastern time.
But hours before that, at 12:52 p.m. Eastern time, Solomon appears to have sent a version of the article to Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and the Trumpworld lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. The email was titled “Outline of Soros reporting, including embedded documents” and included the headline and the text of his piece.
Two congressional sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that Solomon’s email was part of a roughly 50-page package of material that was turned over to lawmakers on Wednesday by the State Department’s Inspector General’s office. Reuters was the first to report the email’s inclusion in the packet.
This might be the end of it. Or it might explain things. Or maybe it is nothing.
Shortly after taking office, Donald Trump asked his aides whether Ukraine, and not Russia, might have hacked Democratic National Committee emails as part of a false-flag operation. Then–Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert tried to stop the idea in its tracks.
“It’s not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked,” Bossert said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. Bossert brought in the director of the National Security Agency to brief Trump, according to The New York Times. The president, Bossert thought, seemed to grasp the truth.
The latest Trump scandal demonstrates how incapable Trump is of learning—either facts or lessons—and how dangerous that is. Trump’s refusal to accept the truth about Ukrainian hacking (which did not happen) arose from his refusal to accept the truth about Russian hacking (which did happen). That is, Trump’s obsession with Ukraine began as a search for vindication over allegations of foreign interference in the 2016 election, and led directly to Trump importuning foreign interference in the 2020 race. […] Trump’s troubles stem from a temperamental aversion to displeasing information, and an inability to sort reliable sources from bad ones. He shows notable lack of interest in his official briefing materials, which have been shrunk down to minimal form. He eagerly consumes conspiracy theories and humbug, though. Former Chief of Staff John Kelly attempted to keep bogus information away from Trump, but his successor, Mick Mulvaney, wants to let Trump be Trump—even, apparently, if that includes taking up debunked nonsense.
Trump has at his command the full information-gathering capabilities of the U.S. government, perhaps the most powerful data operation in world history. The intelligence community is not infallible, with several notable failures in recent memory, but it’s far better than the alternative: Giuliani’s credulous, harebrained solo investigations. Because Trump never accepted the reality of Russian interference despite the unanimous judgment of his own experts, he was also unable to grasp the danger in asking Zelensky to do him a “favor.” Nor did the Mueller experience teach him the dangers of attempting a cover-up.
The paradox is that the stubbornness Trump shows when he refuses to grapple with new information is tightly related to his success as a politician. During the 2016 presidential race, the search by some pundits for a “Trump pivot,” when the candidate would drop his bigoted and wild-eyed rhetoric and adopt a more somber tone, became a running joke. Trump never pivoted, because he was constitutionally incapable of it. But his consistency contributed to an appearance of authenticity that his supporters love, even though, as Gilad Edelman recently wrote, he is “an inveterate fabricator born to fabulous wealth who poses as the self-made tribune of the working class.” Obstinacy helped Trump succeed in 2016, but it threatens to cut him down in 2019.
As if this day isn’t crazy enough with impeachment news and a plunging stock market, the 2020 Election had a significant development:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, was hospitalized in Las Vegas.
“During a campaign event yesterday evening, Sen. Sanders experienced some chest discomfort. Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted,” said Sanders’ senior adviser Jeff Weaver on Wednesday in a statement.
“Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days,” Weaver said. “We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”
Sanders remains hospitalized, a source told ABC News.
Weaver led an all-staff phone call this morning to inform the entire campaign, according to a source familiar with the call. An additional source familiar described the call as subdued.
I am using the word “heart attack” — the media seems to be avoiding that word.
In any event, even if he stays in the race, it will raise questions about his health. Obviously.
Yup. A coup. This rhetoric is pure Trumpian but many like me wonder if he is not-so-subtly engaged in a call-to-arms. You just know that there are more than a few rightwing gun nuts who will do what they can to suppress the “coup”.
It looks like Trump is laying off the whistleblower lately, and making about Democrats. He’s got a new phrase he was trying out this morning:
House Democrats have passed 255 pieces of legislation which languishes in the Senate. The bills include everything from universal background checks on guns to lowering drug prices.
Whooop, he just used it again as I typed this:
“Bullshit”? Okay. He went there. And the final electoral vote was 304-227.
His attacks on Pelosi and Schumer right now are because of a press conference they just gave. They slammed Trump’s remarks aimed at a whistleblower who came forward about Trump’s Ukraine-related conduct. The Democratic leaders called Trump’s comments “dangerous,” witness intimidation, and an “incitement of violence.”
Trump has equated the whistleblower’s sources to spies, suggested that those sources committed treason punishable by death, and demanded the he get to interview the whistleblower.
“This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said a press conference on Wednesday, adding that those comments were an “incitement of violence.”
Nancy Pelosi on the anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing: “It’s such a very sad thing—and at the same time you see the administration schmoozing with the very people who perhaps orchestrated that.” Via CBS pic.twitter.com/DGLE9X8cKo
Chairman Schiff: “Any effort by [Pompeo] or by the president or anyone else to interfere with the Congress’ ability to call before it relevant witnesses will be considered as evidence of obstruction.” Via ABC pic.twitter.com/E8fjgLZgzd
Chairman Schiff on Trump’s Ukraine call: “It’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would have alarmed the Founders more than what’s on that call … It’s hard to imagine a more corrupt course of conduct.” Via CBS pic.twitter.com/LC2Rc2JTaI
Insanity: “Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate.” Also, shooting people in the legs?! https://t.co/cQPCWRmt21 via
The State Department’s inspector general is expected to give an “urgent” briefing to staffers from several House and Senate committees on Wednesday afternoon about documents obtained from the department’s Office of the Legal Adviser related to the State Department and Ukraine, sources familiar with the planned briefing told ABC News.
Details of the briefing, requested by Steve Linick, the inspector general at State, remain unknown. Linick is expected to meet with congressional staff in a secure location on Capitol Hill.
That was last night. The meeting has presumably already taken place, but we don’t know what it is about, but these are the rumors:
Since the memo detailing Trump’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart was released, dozens of Foreign Service officers have joined a private Facebook group for those considering quitting their jobs, a member of the group told POLITICO. https://t.co/eWblGclr8s via @politico
The House threatened on Wednesday to subpoena the White House if it did not comply by Friday with broad requests for documents related to President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son and any attempt by the administration to conceal his actions.
Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, notified his committee of the impending subpoena on Wednesday. He said the White House had thus far ignored Congress’s voluntary requests.
“I do not take this step lightly,” Mr. Cummings wrote. “Over the past several weeks, the committees tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents, but the White House has refused to engage with — or even respond to — the committees.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Wednesday that he had listened in on President Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine — a call that has become the subject of a whistle-blower’s complaint and is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
“I was on the phone call,” Mr. Pompeo said at a news conference in Rome — the first time he has addressed the topic publicly since reports surfaced that he had heard the exchange.
He did not elaborate on the conversation and did not answer a question about whether anything in it had raised a red flag for him.
In the July 25 call, Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the activities in Ukraine of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter.
In the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 46 percent of voters said Congress should begin impeachment proceedings vs. 43 percent who said they should not. Eleven percent had no opinion. That support represented a 3-point bump from last week, when voters were evenly split.
Donald Trump’s day so far:
– Crazed meltdown about alligators – Thinks a moat is called a “Moot” – What the fuck is happening? – Stock market down 500 points – State Department Inspector General testifying – Mike Pompeo confesses – Trump is going to prison – It’s still only 11am
Trump will have a press conference with the Finnish president shortly. I’m sure questions will be asked. And I will update.
UPDATE: Nah. It’s mostly Schiff and Pelosi bashing. He bashed Schiff for criticizing Mike Pompeo, saying “he couldn’t carry his blankstrap,” meaning jockstrap.
FINNISH REPORTER: “Finland is the happiest country in the world.” TRUMP: “Finland is a happy country.” FINNISH REPORTER: “What can you learn from Finland?” TRUMP: “Well, you got rid of Pelosi and you got rid of shifty Schiff. Finland is a happy country. He’s a happy leader, too.” pic.twitter.com/n8PRmE99QH
Asked about whistleblower protections, Trump says a whistleblower should be protected “if the whistleblower’s legitimate.” That kind of begs the question, doesn’t it? Trump says “the person” who gave the whistleblower his information is “a spy.”
About 2020, Trump says “I’d rather run against Biden than almost any of those candidates.” He says Biden has “never been a smart guy” and is “less smart now than he was.”
Rails against Washington Post and the story about the fence/moat/etc. Fake news blah blah blah but now he is going to change the term to “corrupt media” which is “the enemy of the people.”
And that’s over.
I have to wonder how many State Dept may have *already* filed complaints under the WB statute, which would have triggered legal protections (and hence involving both Legal Adviser and IG)
It makes me ask which side in this is the REAL “Deep State”? The ones who wish for transparent open government, or the ones trying to squirrel away information and evidence into inaccessible dark corners?
Mike Pompeo literally spent years bullying scores of State Department employees from the Hill over Benghazi and continues to enable pointless investigations of State employees who emailed Hillary Clinton. He is a gaslighting hypocrite. https://t.co/72aycmwieY
Aides say Volker has confirmed he will appear this Thursday; Ambassador Masha Yovanovitch who was scheduled to be deposed will now appear Oct. 11. Volker will be the first witness to be deposed on Ukraine affair
Oh joy! ANOTHER joint press conference with Trump and the Finnish President.
After talking about his visits to the African American History and Culture museum and National Museum of the American Indian, Finland’s president Niinisto told Trump, “Mr. President, you have a great democracy. Keep it going on.”
Finnish President is now politely delivering a mini-lecture to Trump on the environment and arms control; Trump has to stand next to him and take it.
As often, Trump gives the first question to John Roberts of Fox News. Roberts asks about subpoenas to the White House. “I always cooperate,” Trump says (?), and calls all this a “fraudulent crime on the American people.” He promises to “work together with Shifty Schiff.”
Trump says Schiff’s rendition of his phone call has to be a crime. It very much is not. He also says some people even say it was treason. Those people are not people who understand what treason is.
Trump is now attacking the Mueller investigation. “I get three days of peace,” he complains, and now “I hear about the word impeachment. I said, ‘What did I do now?'” He says he learned it was about a “beautiful conversation.”
Fox news guy has to beg Trump to let him ask a friendly question. Trump gives Fox’s John Roberts a hard time about asking a second question, tells him to ask a question of the Finnish president, then says it seems like Roberts might have a good question and lets him ask it.
Responding to NY Times report that Schiff know about the whistleblower’s complaint days before it was even filed, Trump accuses Adam Schiff of helping the whistleblower write his complaint: “I’d go a step further, I think that he probably helped write it.”
Trump says that shows the whole thing is a scam. Like Russia. “You can ask Putin: nobody’s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump,” Trump says. He says that, “with that being said,” it’d be good to get along with Russia.”
Trump bragging on himself now about how well he is handling all the scandal.
Trump said they produced the “exact transcript, word for word, comma for comma” — that’s a lie — and that it showed the whistleblower is wrong — that is wrong, too.
Trump is repeating his usual lie about getting the Veterans Choice program passed. It was signed into law by Obama; Trump signed a modification of the program; Trump has said this more than 100 times now.
Trump calls himself a very stable genius again.
Trump says he’s going to bring “a lot of litigation” against “a lot of people,” apparently related to the Mueller investigation. (He has sued a lot of people in his life; he has also threatened a lot of litigation he has never actually initiated.)
Asked about what he wanted from Ukraine president regarding Biden, Trump gives rambling response full of half-sentences. Says Ukraine was corrupt and he hates giving money to them. Doesn’t want to be the “sucker”.
Wow. Another reporter presses him again for an answer. Trump lashes out at fake media and corrupt media but doesn’t answer the question. Amazing exchange. I will get the video.
Trump says is democracy. And he ends it.
But this was a great moment.
GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLAIN WHY HE ASKED THE PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE HIS OPPONENT AFTER DISCUSSING THE RELEASE OF CASH FOR UKRAINIAN DEFENSE, TRUMP PASSES OVER AND OVER. WILL NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION. HUGE MOMENT. https://t.co/Ie750595gy
Raskin – There are Trump hotel envelopes in the packet of disinformation and conspiracy theories, which is of "mysterious provenance," – there may be misconduct by the Secretary of States. It may have come from the White House pic.twitter.com/7kzDMWLETj
Rep. Raskin says State Department IG handed over to lawmakers a “packet of disinformation” which was being circulated in May of this year, including conspiracy theories about origins of Mueller investigation and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. The origins of said packet are not clear.
Raskin says the packet of propaganda “raises profoundly troubling questions.” “Why was Sec. of State Pompeo in possession of this packet of disinformation? Why did he distribute it and circulate it? … So I’ve got to say that it raises more questions than answers.”
It doesn’t matter that the whistleblower had second hand information about the call. We’ve now seen the transcript of the call, and IT IS TROUBLING. How we got here is irrelevant. But even then, the House committees will talk to first hand sources about the call, and there goes the “second hand information” defense.
Trump said he was trying to “find out about” the whistleblower Monday, the latest move in an increasingly frenetic counterassault targeting the anonymous intelligence officer and top Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry. The comments came as his allies struggled to coalesce around a clear strategy to respond to a fast-moving and quickly mounting threat to his presidency.
The ad hoc counter-impeachment effort developing around Trump underscores the risk the president faces as Democratic leaders plan to launch a probe aimed at proving that Trump abused his presidential powers in asking Ukraine’s president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender, and his family, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that Ukrainians worked with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election.
The White House has not yet set up anything resembling a “war room” to coordinate its response, and officials spent Monday in meetings trying to determine a path forward. The president’s outside legal team played down the threat of impeachment and dismissed the need for the kind of coordinated war-room-based effort that President Bill Clinton relied on 20 years ago.
Yeah> How has the “no war room” approach been going so far?
Some Republican officials have stumbled in recent days in their attempts to defend Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, and others have pushed the White House to offer more guidance to its defenders by standing up a centralized, organized response effort.
Trump’s reelection campaign has taken a de facto lead role in hitting back against the president’s detractors, but it has not been specifically tasked with a coordinating role, according to a person familiar with the matter who, like others, discussed internal strategy on the condition of anonymity
All this is happening as Trump and his defenders faced new revelations that Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials, seeking their help with his department’s inquiry into foreign interference in the 2016 election — a probe that Trump hopes will discredit the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia sought to assist his campaign. It was also reported that the president used a recent phone call to ask Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide help to this ongoing Justice Department.
So we get the crazy tweets. That’s the strategy.
Behind the scenes, the president is sounding out a range of advisers for different options, speaking to friends, outside confidants and Republican lawmakers to get advice about how to proceed, according to a senior administration official.
“There are different ways to bake the cake, depending on what sort of cake you want,” the official said. “Different flavoring, different temperatures, different ingredients yield different types of cake, and the president as the master baker is testing recipes and deciding what type of cake he wants.”
Some Republicans have pushed the White House to set up a more organized approach and have lamented that there’s no clear plan or strategy to follow.
“It’s such a cliche that Trump doesn’t think anyone can defend him the way he can defend himself, but they need to try, because right now it’s just him tweeting about Adam B. Schiff,” said a Republican congressional aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their view of the White House’s plan.
No, it’s not a cliche, anonymous Republican.
It is interesting, however, that nobody is stepping up to the plate, other than Fruity-G. But…
NEW: People close to Barr say is privately mystified by what he sees as Giuliani’s meddling in matters that should be handled by government officials. Barr has privately said he believes Giuliani’s behavior in general isn’t helpful to the administration. https://t.co/WXvGnwJxNw
Trump thinks he has the American people behind him…
But the map, which doesn’t take population density into account, shows great expanses of land and not people.
Also, it’s the Bush 2004 election map.
The other tactic from the Trump team? It looks like resist, resist, resist. This just came out from Pompeo.
Let me be clear: I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State.
Of course, that does not mean that the complaint itself is inaccurate (it was chillingly accurate about the phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky). The argument that the whistleblower didn’t hear things first hand isn’t exculpatory. And it is only a matter of time before Congress speaks to the FIRST HAND sources which the whistleblower will no doubt reveal.
This weekend was insane with Trump tweets and rants. Things like this:
“Civil war”? That caught a few eyes, and quite possibly, we might have a death toll to this impeachment process, thanks to Trump’s incitement of some grazed gun nut wanting to be the “shot heard round the world.”
Here’s the money quote from that thread. This is the truth. This is where we are. We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war. Like in 1859. That’s where we are. And the Right has ZERO trust or respect for anything the left is doing. We see THEM as illegitimate too.@StewartRhodesOKhttps://t.co/DjB8TY0vCo
The attorney for the intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint fueled a House inquiry into impeaching President Donald Trump says he has “serious concerns” that Trump’s comments had put his client in danger.
Trump also tweeted:
This was in response to Schiff giving a “parody” account of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky while speaking on the House floor on Thursday. Included in Schiff’s hyperbolic interruption of the president’s July 25 call, which can be viewed in the video below, was a comment that Trump asked Zelensky “to make up dirt on my political opponent.”
Hardly a smart move by Schiff, but TREASON??
Then, there is crazy Rudy… FRUITY-G as I call him… with bizarre conspiracy theories. On Sunday, former Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert was sharply critical of Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was also a guest on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos”. He expressed a combination of frustration and bewilderment that some members of the Trump team continue to spout debunked conspiracy theories about the hack of the Democratic National Committee [DNC] computer servers during the 2016 election campaign. Rudy Giuliani explained that he wants to know who in Ukraine provided information damning to Trump during the 2016 campaign.
GIULIANI: I have never peddled it. Have you ever hear me talk about Crowdstrike? I’ve never peddled it. Tom Bossert doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I have never engaged in any theory that the Ukrainians did the hacking. In fact, when this was first presented to me, I pretty clearly understood the Ukrainians didn’t do the hacking, but that doesn’t mean Ukraine didn’t do anything, and this is where Bossert…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, why does the president keep repeating it?
GIULIANI: Let’s get on to the point…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, this was in the phone call.
GIULIANI: I agree with Bossert on one thing, it’s clear: there’s no evidence the Ukrainians did it. I never pursued any evidence and he’s created a red herring. What the president is talking about is, however, there is a load of evidence that the Ukrainians created false information, that they were asked by the Obama White House to do it in January of 2016, information he’s never bothered to go read. There are affidavits that have been out there for five months that none of you have listened to about how there’s a Ukrainian court finding that a particular individual illegally gave the Clinton campaign information. No one wants to investigate that. Nobody cared about it. It’s a court opinion in the Ukraine. The Ukrainians came to me. I didn’t go to them. The Ukrainians came to me and said…
STEPHANOPOULOS: When did they first come to you?
GIULIANI: November of 2016, they first came to me. And they said, we have shocking evidence that the collusion that they claim happened in Russia, which didn’t happen, happened in the Ukraine, and it happened with Hillary Clinton. George Soros was behind it. George Soros’ company was funding it.
1. Talk MORE about impeachment 2. Show no contrition 3. Leave fingerprints everywhere 4. Make no attempt at persuasion 5. Read the stage directions aloud
There seems to be little co-ordination. Maybe that’s why Stephen Miller had to go on TV and get stumped:
"This is an exercise in obfuscation" — Stephen Miller has no response when Chris Wallace presses him about why Trump went against his own Pentagon & State Department and withheld Ukrainian aid pic.twitter.com/kP6ht7LwSJ
Where are Republicans politicians? Still quiet. House Minority Leader McCarthy went on 60 Minutes, and by all accounts, did a horrible job of it.
Oh, and a 6th Republican Congressman from Texas just threw in the towel in the 2020 election.
But at least McConnell said this:
Here’s Mitch McConnell on CNBC saying that if the House passes articles of impeachment, “under the Senate rules we’re required to take it up … I would have no choice but to take it up. How long we’re on it is a whole different matter.” pic.twitter.com/lTVQHZrGxS
St. Louis Post-Dispatch has also called on Trump to resign from office, writing, “The time has come for Republicans to stand up for the Constitution, stand up for America, and tell Trump to step down.” https://t.co/nmeCrqWokL
And in a related note, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump. Tomorrow he pleads guilty to insider trading. Corruption has rotted the Republican Party from top down.
JUST IN: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took part in the Trump phone call with Ukraine's leader, a disclosure that ties the State Department more closely to the House impeachment inquiry – WSJ
3:53pm Giuliani subpoenaed by House in impeachment inquiry 4:04pm Pompeo took part in Trump-Zelensky phone call: DJ 4:17pm Trump pressed Australian leader to help investigate Mueller inquiry's origins: NYT
basically what's happening here is the President putting the full force of the United States, in its foreign policy, and the resources of the Dept of Justice, towards validating a bunch of RT/Infowars nonsense.