Trump Throwing Everything At The Wall Seeing What Will Stick

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Political Scandals, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment

Trump sounds upset this morning:

Yeah, I won’t even go into how Trump called Schiff “Liddle’ Adam Schiff” and then chastised people who commented on the tweet, and in doing so, Trump called the punctuation mark in “Liddle'” a hyphen…. and also misspelled “describing”.

Anyway, Trump & Co are going to the Mueller playbook. The basic tactics deployed by the short-staffed White House: Attempt to discredit government officials at the heart of the story. Dispatch Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies to muddy the picture. Lean on Republicans in Congress to provide cover.

I expect this to be a slower day — impeachment-wise — now that the whistleblower complaint is public.

Not much developed late yesterday, except the revelation that the White House knew there was blowback about the call pretty early on. That’s because the whistleblower shared his concerns with the C.I.A.’s top lawyer through an anonymous process, some of the people said. The lawyer shared the officer’s concerns with White House and Justice Department officials, following policy. Around the same time, the officer separately filed the whistle-blower complaint.

A lot of people are commenting on the complaint, and its thoroughness. The whistleblower has by some measures managed to exceed what former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III accomplished in two years of investigating Trump: producing a file so concerning and factually sound that it has almost single-handedly set in motion the gears of impeachment.

A couple Republican governors have joined the call for impeachment, indicating that a crack may be starting. But most Senate and House Republicans dodged questions, saying they haven’t read the whistleblower complaint.” Yeah, the thing is only nine pages long, so I don’t that excuse lasting very long.

And… is this true?

And a lot of focus in on Attorney General Bill Barr and his role, both in the Ukrainian extortion as well as the cover-up. He has been very silent. It gets dicey when the Attorney General is involved in possible crimes., but they got John Mitchell.

Update — maybe this is why Barr is radio silent:

On another front, this struck me as amusing – Fox New is “bedlam”:

Inside Fox News, tensions over Trump are becoming harder to contain as a long-running cold war between the network’s news and opinion sides turns hot. Fox has often taken a nothing-to-see-here approach to Trump scandals, but impeachment is a different animal. “It’s management bedlam,” a Fox staffer told me. “This massive thing happened, and no one knows how to cover it.” The schism was evident this week as a feud erupted between afternoon anchor Shepard Smith and prime-time host Tucker Carlson. It started Tuesday when Fox legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Smith on-air that Trump committed a “crime” by pressuring Ukraine’s president to get dirt on Biden. That night, Carlson brought on former Trump lawyer Joe diGenova, who called Napolitano a “fool” for claiming Trump broke the law. Yesterday, Smith lashed back, calling Carlson “repugnant” for not defending Napolitano on air. (Trump himself is said to turn off Fox at 3 p.m., when Shep Smith airs.) Seeking to quell the internecine strife before it carried into a third day, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace communicated to Smith this morning to stop attacking Carlson, a person briefed on the conversation said. “They said if he does it again, he’s off the air,” the source said. (Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti denied that management had any direct conversation with Smith).

Couldn’t happen to a nicer network.

And I guess should earmark this….

Donald Trump Actually Has 2 Whistleblowers To Worry About

WASHINGTON ― An intelligence community whistleblower has stunned Washington with possible evidence that President Donald Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own personal gain. 

But there’s another whistleblower ― one with possible evidence that Trump tried to corrupt an Internal Revenue Service audit of his personal tax returns ― who has received relatively little attention. 

The tale of two whistleblowers reflects the Democrats’ differing strategies, as well as the whistleblowers’ own approaches. 

The intelligence whistleblower brought the complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, who told Congress about the report but didn’t hand it over because of objections from the White House. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, immediately brought the case to wide attention

The tax whistleblower, meanwhile, went straight to Congress ― specifically to the House Ways and Means Committee, which had sued the Trump administration for refusing to provide copies of the president’s tax returns in response to a formal request. Democrats say they need Trump’s returns to make sure the IRS properly enforces tax laws against the president. 

But Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) is far less outspoken than Schiff, and his approach to the tax case has been cautious. He decided to stay focused on the lawsuit, using the whistleblower’s material to bolster that case. 

In a brief last month, the committee told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that a “federal employee” had approached them with “evidence of possible misconduct” and “inappropriate efforts” to influence an IRS audit of the president. The document provided no further detail about the whistleblower, but in a footnote, Democrats offered to tell U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden all about it in private. 

A spokesman for the committee said this week that McFadden, a Trump nominee who donated to the Trump 2016 campaign and volunteered for the Trump presidential transition, has so far not asked to hear more about the whistleblower. He denied a Democratic motion to speed up the case. 

Neal declined to discuss the whistleblower this week, citing guidance from House lawyers. Other Ways and Means members who said they closely follow the tax returns issue have said they don’t know anything about the person. 

“I think that Chairman Neal has appropriately kept that very close since that person’s job could be in serious jeopardy,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) told HuffPost. 

Oh, Donald. You bad impeachable boy.

Oh and Michael Cohen has some Ukraine information he wants to share.

Meanwhile, there has been some focus on the Bidens, which the Trump team says is the (justifiable) reason for asking for Ukrainian collusion. So fat, there seems to be no there there, and Rudy’s appearance on TV makes the whole thing sound crazy.

Anders Åslund, an economist and author of “Russia’s Crony Capitalism,” describes what he believes happened in Ukraine regarding the Bidens. To sum up, Åslund says that in a bid to keep his job as prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko acquiesced to the Giuliani/Trump demand to allege wrongdoing by the Bidens and US Ambassador Yovanovitch. Lutsenko later rescinded those claims, but he got fired anyway:

The point is that Lutsenko’s strange lies about VP Biden & US Ambassador Yovanovitch were PLANTED by Giuliani. Lutsenko tried to leverage his relationship with Giuliani (=Trump) in order to stay on as prosecutor general…

The essence of the Giuliani-Lutsenko story is that Giuliani persuaded a corrupt prosecutor general in Ukraine to lie about prominent US citizens to the political benefit of Trump & his own pecuniary benefit…

Obviously, Giuliani operated at the instruction of Trump. What crimes did they commit?

The big lessons [Zelensky] needs to draw from his unfortunate encounters with Trump are that Trump always lies & stands on Putin’s side against Ukraine, Europe & the US. Zelenskyy has little choice but to act with all US forces BUT Trump with a maximum of transparency.

The ultimate verdict is that the Giuliani conspiracy in Ukraine is not only criminal but also more sophisticated than one could have expected. Presumably the Trump gang operates in a similar fashion in other favorite parts of the world, such as Israel & Saudi Arabia.

And China. In short, we’re going to need a bigger boat.

MORE — here’s a nice explainer


You know, I am beginning to think that Russia is pulling Trump’s strings on Ukraine (who Russia is fighting).

The polls are already moving in favor of impeachment — and moving fast. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll shows a plurality (49 to 46 percent) favors impeachment, a large bump from April, when 39 percent favored and 53 percent did not. Likewise, the Morning Consult polls shows 43 percent favor and 43 percent oppose impeachment, including a small plurality of independents. These figures are stunning insofar as the rough transcript and whistleblower complaint have been out for only a couple of days.

UPDATE again:

And the hits keep on coming…