JIPLogo

Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative December 2019 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this. 

January


Jan. 18

Impeachment News 

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Michael Pence and operatives Igor Fruman (second from the left) and Lev Parnas (between Fruman and Trump) pose in better times for them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nunes aide, Parnas communicated about Ukraine campaign, messages show, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Greg Miller, Jan. 18, 2020. Lev Parnas, who functioned as Rudolph W. Giuliani's emissary to Ukrainian officials, had extensive contact with Derek devin nunes grimacingHarvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, right, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

House Democrats released new documents Friday evening showing extensive contact between an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney and an aide to the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee regarding the effort to obtain material from Ukrainian prosecutors that would be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden.

The text messages between Lev Parnas, who functioned as Rudolph W. Giuliani’s emissary to Ukrainian officials, and Derek Harvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, indicate Nunes’s office was aware of the operation at the heart of impeachment proceedings against the president — and sought to use the information Parnas was gathering.

The newly released texts show that Parnas was working last spring to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were feeding Giuliani information about Biden.

  • Washington Post, ‘Shove it,’ Rep. Ted Lieu tells Nunes in response to lawsuit threat, Jan. 18, 2020.

devan nunes hearing Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: New text messages put Devin Nunes on the hot seat, Aaron Blake,  Jan. 18, 2020. A month ago, when phone records showed contact between Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Lev Parnas, Nunes said he didn’t recall Parnas’s name and couldn’t confirm the call. On Wednesday, with Parnas about to appear on TV for the first time, Nunes (shown above in a file photo) suddenly offered a (very conveniently timed) confirmation, but he downplayed the call as being about “random things.”

republican elephant logoNow, Nunes’s claims about his ties to Parnas are even more questionable.

Newly released documents Friday night showed Parnas in repeated contact with a Nunes aide, Derek Harvey. He appeared to be looping Harvey into the Ukraine effort led by Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the messages show the three of them met at the Trump hotel in Washington. Parnas also set up calls for Harvey with the same Ukrainian prosecutors who were working with Giuliani.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Senate must not ignore the new evidence on Ukraine, Editorial Board, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). New evidence in djt impeached wapo 12 19 19 front page Customthe Ukraine affair has revealed several important new facts. One is that President Trump’s firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch last spring was part of an explicit trade-off with a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who promised dirt on Joe Biden. Another is that Mr. Trump’s demand that Ukraine’s president announce an investigation of Mr. Biden, along with the threat of retaliation if he did not, was communicated to the Ukrainians months earlier than previously known.

The new evidence significantly bolsters the case that Mr. Trump abused his office. It also underlines how much more there is still to learn about the dealings he and his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, undertook in Kyiv, even as the president’s trial on impeachment charges is set to begin in the Senate on Tuesday.

lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020Much of the new evidence comes from Lev Parnas, left, a former collaborator with Mr. Giuliani and donor to Mr. Trump who turned against them after his indictment on federal campaign finance charges. The White House dismisses Mr. Parnas as a man with a motive to lie, and it’s true that some of his allegations need verification. But the Soviet emigre businessman also gave House investigators texts, emails, calendars and other documents that appear to substantiate key charges.

Texts between Mr. Parnas and Yuri Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor, make clear that Mr. Lutsenko made allegations about Mr. Biden in the expectation that he would be rewarded with the firing of Ms. Yovanovitch, who had accused him of blocking corruption investigations. “If you don’t make a decision about Madam

— you are bringing into question all my allegations. Including about B,” one Lutsenko text to Mr. Parnas read. He got his wish: “He fired her again,” read a text from Mr. Giuliani to Mr. Parnas in April, shortly before Ms. Yovanovitch was recalled on Mr. Trump’s orders.

msnbc logo CustomMr. Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he also played a key role in conveying Mr. Trump’s demand for an investigation of Mr. Biden to Volodymyr Zelensky, who became Ukraine’s president last May. Mr. Giuliani had sent Mr. Zelensky a letter asking for a meeting but called off the trip after it was publicized. Mr. Parnas said he was then dispatched by Mr. Giuliani in early May to deliver a tough message to an aide to Mr. Zelensky: Unless he announced a Biden investigation, relations would sour, starting with the cancellation of Vice President Pence’s attendance at Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Starr Returns to the Impeachment Fray, This Time for the Defense, Peter Baker, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). Ken Starr, whose investigation led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, is one of the best known and most polarizing lawyers in the U.S.

The last time a president was on trial, few were more responsible for putting him in the dock than Ken Starr. Now the former independent counsel whose investigation led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment two decades ago will come to the defense of another president charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.

ken starr baylorIn adding Mr. Starr, right,to his legal team, President Trump enlisted one of the best known and most polarizing lawyers in the country, someone who in recent months has become a regular defender of the president on Fox News. Mr. Starr will argue that while Mr. Clinton’s impeachment was legitimate, Mr. Trump’s was out of bounds.

But Mr. Starr’s return to the public stage 21 years after Mr. Clinton’s trial was just the latest head-spinning turn in a saga that at times has echoed the dramatic battle of the late 1990s in oddly distorted ways. Many players from that impeachment are leading figures in this one, though on the other side. Democrats now make arguments often heard last time from Republicans and vice versa.

Media / Propaganda

national archives womens march blurred Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives exhibit blurs signs in Women’s March image critical of Trump, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). The large color photograph that greets visitors to a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage shows a massive crowd filling Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts national archivesto show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement.

But a closer look reveals a different story.

The Archives, right, acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at HHS secretary after briefing shows Democrats leading on health care, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). The president complained Democrats would “kill us” on health care if the administration did not do more to lower drug prices and enact other reforms.

alex azar hhs oPresident Trump lashed out at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, right, for not doing enough on health care and drug pricing during a campaign meeting this week after he was briefed on polling that showed the public trusted Democrats more than Republicans on the issue, according to four people present at or briefed about the meeting.

Campaign advisers were updating Trump at the White House on Thursday on polling from battleground states, including Florida, that showed which party voters trusted more on various issues. One of those issues was health care, which often polls as the top voter concern, and the data showed the public trusted Democrats more than Republicans.

Trump reacted furiously and said the Democrats would “kill us” on health care, according to the four people, who requested anonymity to candidly describe the private meeting. The president then picked up the phone, called Azar and put him on speakerphone in the middle of the meeting, the people said.

“You’re not getting it done,” Trump told Azar, referring to lowering drug prices, according to one of the people in the meeting and another briefed on the discussion. He told Azar he needed to “hurry up” on lowering drug prices and more quickly allow for the importation of drugs from Canada. “Why aren’t we getting these drugs from Canada?”

Azar reminded Trump he had rolled out a final rule allowing states, distributors and wholesalers to import select drugs from Canada during a December event in Florida with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has pushed for the policy for months. Azar emphasized to the president that he also wanted the rule done as fast as possible and noted the rule was in the middle of a 75-day comment period and that other states had expressed interest in it.

washington post logodjt maga hatWashington Post, Oklahoma state senators want MAGA license plates — which might violate federal campaign finance rules, Katie Mettler​, Jan. 18, 2020. The Trump-themed license plates, if approved by the state legislature, would be added to a list of 98 other specialty designs that Oklahoma drivers can buy for $35.

Jan. 17

Impeachment News 

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Kenneth Starr, Alan Dershowitz to join Trump’s legal team, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey​, Jan. 17, 2020. The ken starr baylorexpansion of President Trump’s team will also include Robert Ray, according to someone familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak. Ray and Starr, right, investigated President Bill Clinton.

  • Washington Post, Leahy says Starr’s addition to Trump’s legal team is a ‘weird choice
  • Washington Post, Congress shows the ability to legislate through impeachment
  • Washington Post, Analysis: How one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats approaches impeachment
  • Washington Post, Perspective: Trump can’t stop John Bolton from testifying
  • Washington Post, Parnas ties Pence’s snub of Ukraine to pressure campaign

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Michael Pence and operatives Igor Fruman (second from the left) and Lev Parnas (between Fruman and Trump) pose in better times for them.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC "Must Watch," Staff reports, Jan. 17, 2020.

  • MSNBC The Beat with Ari: 'He got caught': Pelosi played McConnell on Trump impeachment, (1:52 min. video).
  • MSNBC Day That Was: After sworn oath, historic impeachment trial begins (4:36 min.).
  • MSNBC: Trump responds to Lev Parnas interviews: ‘Don’t know who this man is’ (1:51).
  • MSNBC: Chief Justice John Roberts swears in senators for the impeachment trial of President Trump (0:40).
  • MSNBC: White House violated law by withholding Ukraine aid, government watchdog says (1:49).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Lev Parnas effectively put Bolton, Pompeo, and others on witness list (4:39).
  • MSNBC The Last Word: ‘The question of not listening to witnesses is off the table’ (1:56).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: What Trump knows and doesn't know: A primer (2:07).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: Trump may attend Davos as impeachment gets underway (4:13).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: Ukraine to investigate Burisma hacking (10:20).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: Why Parnas interview was a 'political earthquake' (8:40).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: 'Rudy Giuliani is responsible for the impeachment' of Trump (7:36).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Parnas describes how Trump struggled to fire Amb. Yovanovitch (5:46).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Parnas: Perry fell short in his part in Trump's Ukraine scheme (2:17).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Parnas: 'I don't think Vice President Biden did anything wrong' (1:16).

general accounting office building gao Custom

Roll Call, GAO: Trump’s Ukraine aid pause violated budget law, Paul M. Krawzak, Jan 17, 2020 (print ed.). 1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending. Ukraine aid legal ruling could shake up impeachment trial..

gao seal CustomPresident Donald Trump’s hold on military assistance for Ukraine last summer ran afoul of a 1974 budget law that limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday.

The finding by the GAO (whose headquarters is shown above) comes as the Senate prepares to begin its impeachment trial next week. House Democrats on Wednesday transmitted to the Senate articles of impeachment leveled at Trump for alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, after charging Trump with using the Ukraine aid as a bargaining chip for personal political gain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The GOP said Trump committed no crime. The GAO says he broke the law, Aaron Blake, Jan. 17, 2020 (print ed.). The ruling from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office severely undermined a core Trump impeachment defense.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas has set off a chain reaction that Donald Trump can’t stop, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 17, 2020. Parnas sat down with Rachel Maddow to discuss the Ukraine debacle. According to Parnas, “president” Trump “knew exactly what was going on” in Ukraine. Parnas, left, who lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020was joined by his counsel, said that he was their “on the ground person” in manufacturing dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

In addition to exposing Trump’s involvement in this criminal scheme, Parnas said that AG Bill Barr “was basically on the team” and that John Bolton was also aware. According to the Guardian, which reported on Parnas’ appearance, there are additional documents that have not yet been released that House prosecutors plan to present during the impeachment trial.

Parnas got very specific in his interview. He said that he was instructed by Giuliani to inform Ukraine officials that unless an investigation into the Bidens was announced, Mike Pence would not attend Zelensky’s inauguration. Parnas further alleges that the next day, Trump called Ukraine himself to advise that Pence would be canceling his trip. This means Pence was in on the extortion scheme, though we already expected that to be the case. Parnas claims that Trump’s decision to withhold military aid and cut off all relations came up after Ukrainian officials declined to investigate the Bidens.

bill palmer report logo headerSpeaking of withholding military aid, the Guardian also reported that the Government Accountability Office investigated and concluded that Trump violated the law by freezing those funds. The GOA report specifically stated: “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.”

Not surprisingly, the Office of Budget Management “disagrees” with the report. Rachel Semmel, OMB spokesperson, claims that “OMB uses its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the President’s priorities and with the law.” The problem is that with this “president,” those two things rarely, if ever, coincide.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll finds black Americans determined to limit Trump to one term, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Vanessa Williams, Dan Balz and Scott Clement, Jan. 17, 2020. The Washington Post-Ipsos poll of African Americans reveals fears about whether their children will have a fair shot and a belief that whites don’t fully appreciate the discrimination they face.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: ‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals, Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Jan. 17, 2020. The new book A Very Stable Genius documents how President Trump lashed out at attempts by military leaders and diplomats to teach him about U.S. alliances and obligations around the globe.

There is no more sacred room for military officers than 2E924 of the Pentagon, a windowless and secure vault where the Joint Chiefs of Staff meet regularly to wrestle with classified matters. Its more common name is “the Tank.” The Tank resembles a small corporate boardroom, with a gleaming golden oak table, leather swivel armchairs and other mid-century stylings. Inside its walls, flag officers observe a reverence and decorum for the wrenching decisions that have been made there.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump’s knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.

So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day crystallized the commander in chief’s berating, derisive and dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran.

The Tank meeting was a turning point in Trump’s presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate America’s traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses.

washington post logoWashington Post, These Mormon twins worked together on an IRS whistleblower complaint over the church’s billions — and it tore them apart, Michelle Boorstein and Jon Swaine, Jan. 17, 2020 (print ed.). After a lifetime of shared aims, the decision by one Nielsen twin to go public with their confidential complaint has opened a rift so deep that they stopped speaking.

• Washington Post, Evangelical groups try new IRS strategy that keeps salaries hidden

U.S. Law, Courts

Palmer Report, Opinion: Wait, what’s going on with Michael Flynn? Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2020. The saga of Michael Flynn [[Trump's first National Security Advisor]] just keeps getting stranger – michael flynn prison palmer graphicand worse for him. He had a cooperating plea deal that was going to give him no prison time. Then he went off the deep end and screwed that up, and found himself looking at six months in prison.

Now he’s seeking to withdraw his guilty plea entirely, which would likely result in him doing years in prison. Now the judge has thrown a new curveball into the mix.

Yesterday, Michael Flynn [shown in a Palmer Report graphic] formally asked Judge Emmet Sullivan for approval to withdraw his guilty plea. In response, the judge delayed sentencing until late February, giving Flynn’s attorneys time to make their case. So what’s really going on here?

bill palmer report logo headerThe judge [shown below at right] has known this request from Flynn was coming for some time. We suspect that if the judge were going to grant Flynn’s request, he’d have done so today. We further suspect that the judge is only giving Flynn this window of time so that he can look reasonable when he eventually denies Flynn’s request. That said, we could be entirely wrong, and Flynn could end up successfully withdrawing his plea and ending up on trial.

If that happens, Michael Flynn’s worst nightmare is going to come true. During his trial, prosecutors will bring out all the evidence against Flynn emmet sullivan 2012that didn’t see the light of day due to his plea deal. They’ll also likely bring a superseding indictment against Flynn, adding the criminal charges that he avoided when he cut the deal. Keep in mind that he only had to plead guilty to his least serious crime, which is why he was only going to get zero to six months.

Michael Flynn could now end up going to prison for a very long time. If he’s doing this because he thinks he’s magically going to get pardoned by Donald Trump, he should consider that Trump has pardoned precisely zero of his co-conspirators, and has let them all rot behind bars. That’s probably because Trump isn’t willing to run the risk of triggering a court battle and screwing up his ability to pardon himself on his way out the door. Flynn is trying to throw his life away based on a false promise. Flynn will be very lucky if the judge rejects his request and sentences him to just the six months in prison.

Jan. 16

Blockbuster Impeachment News

 djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Michael Pence and operatives Igor Fruman (second from the left) and Lev Parnas (between Fruman and Trump) pose in better times for them.

 msnbc logo CustomMSNBC / Rachel Maddow Show, Lev Parnas: 'President Trump knew exactly what was going on,' Rachel Maddow, Jan. 15, 2020 (3:06 min.). Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, talks with Rachel Maddow in an exclusive interview about the extent of Donald Trump's knowledge of the work he was doing to manipulate the president of Ukraine to help Trump smear political rival Joe Biden.

  • lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020MSNBC, Lev Parnas (right): 'Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,' 2:19 min.

  • MSNBC, Lev Parnas remarks on role of Devin Nunes in Trump Ukraine Scheme, 2:27 min.

  • MSNBC, Shocking new evidence rocks Trump impeachment before Senate trial, 5:11 min.

  • MSNBC, Ukraine prosecutor offered dirt on Biden in exchange for firing of U.S. Ambassador, Jan. 15, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani have demolished Trump’s claims of innocence, Neal Katyal, right, and Joshua A. Geltzer neal katyal o(professors at Georgetown Law Center), Jan. 15, 2020. New documents show why the president has been trying to hide evidence from Congress. Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment inquiry need wonder no longer.

The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption U.S. House logowhen he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.

The most basic principles of constitutional law require relevant information, including documents and executive branch witnesses, to be turned over to Congress in an impeachment proceeding. Particularly because sitting presidents cannot be indicted, impeachment is the only immediate remedy we the people have against a lawless president. For that remedy to have any teeth, relevant information has to be provided. That’s why President James Polk said that, during impeachment, Congress could “penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments … command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial.” No president, not even Richard Nixon, thought he could just say “no” to impeachment. That’s why the House added Article II to Trump’s impeachment: “Obstruction of Congress.” It was a response to an unprecedented attempt by a president to hide the truth.

nancy pelosi impeachment ny post cover sept 25 2019 CustomThe documents released Tuesday show what Trump has been so afraid of. For starters, they prove that his already-eyebrow-raising claim to have been fighting corruption in Ukraine was bogus. Notes taken by Lev Parnas — who is an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and is now facing federal criminal charges — show what his and Giuliani’s mission was when they got in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” Look hard at the real goal here: not to prompt an investigation of Hunter Biden, but to score an announcement of a Biden investigation. Pursuing an announcement, rather than an investigation, makes sense only if Trump’s objective was to dirty the reputation of Joe Biden, a leading political rival.

Both of us served in high-ranking Justice Department positions; we’ve never heard of an investigation that is kept from the Justice Department, given to a private lawyer and then publicly announced — investigations work best when done in secret. If Trump, as he has long claimed, was truly interested in pursuing anti-corruption efforts in the bizarrely specific form of a single investigation of a single American citizen, then he would have wanted an actual investigation. Instead, he was fixated on the public announcement of one — which, if anything, would have harmed the investigation by tipping off its subject. The public announcement would have helped only one thing: Trump’s personal political prospects.

  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just buried Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Barr and more, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just pretty much forced John Bolton’s testimony to happen, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff reveals the House has more up its sleeve against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Confirmed: Lev Parnas is throwing EVERYONE under the bus tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s what you can expect from Rachel Maddow’s interview tonight with Lev Parnas, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.

Roll Call, GAO: Trump’s Ukraine aid pause violated budget law, Paul M. Krawzak, Jan 16, 2020. 1974 budget law limits presidential authority to msnbc logo Customprohibit congressionally approved spending. Ukraine aid legal ruling could shake up impeachment trial..

President Donald Trump’s hold on military assistance for Ukraine last summer ran afoul of a 1974 budget law that limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday.

The finding comes as the Senate prepares to begin its impeachment trial next week. House Democrats on Wednesday transmitted to the Senate articles of impeachment leveled at Trump for alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, after charging Trump with using the Ukraine aid as a bargaining chip for personal political gain.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Impeachment descends into darkness, Dana Milbank
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Lev Parnas just accused Giuliani of a criminal conspiracy with Trump, Greg Sargent

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine opens probe into possible surveillance of U.S. ambassador, David L. Stern and Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 16, 2020. The move follows the disclosure of new documents showing former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussing possible efforts to monitor the movements of Marie Yovanovitch.

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, How Megxit put Queen Elizabeth II in the role of crisis manager once again, William Booth, Jan. 16, 2020. At 93, an age when many matriarchs would be among the dearly or nearly departed, or elbowed aside to allow an ambitious younger generation to run the show, the queen remains firmly in charge — of both a sprawling, often problematic family and the monarchy.

More on Impeachment, Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Eyeing swift impeachment trial, Trump’s legal team aims to block witnesses and cast doubt on charges, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 16, 2020 (print ed.). White House lawyers are trying to engineer the fastest impeachment trial in American history, aiming to have President Trump acquitted by the Senate without witnesses and after just a few days of proceedings, according to senior administration officials.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Trump’s desire for a short trial has solidified over the past few weeks, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delayed transmitting two articles of impeachment to the Senate because of concerns about how the trial would be structured. The White House, which previously supported a more expansive trial in the GOP-led Senate, has now accepted the idea that senators should make quick work of acquitting Trump.

“I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that we’d be going beyond two weeks,” said a senior administration official, who briefed reporters Wednesday on the condition of anonymity. “We think that this case is overwhelming for the president, and the Senate’s not going to be having any need to be taking that amount of time on this.”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘He knows who I am’: Lev Parnas says Devin Nunes was ‘involved in getting all this stuff on Biden,’ Timothy Bella, Jan. 16, devin nunes grimacing2020. Lev Parnas’s first TV interview on Ukraine, annotated. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif., shown in a file photo at right) acknowledged Wednesday night that he had in fact spoken with Lev Parnas over the phone as part of a conversation he previously said he could not recall. Parnas, a former associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been indicted on charges of violating campaign finance laws.

Nunes talked about the call shortly before Parnas claimed that the California congressman was “involved” in obtaining damaging information on former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival of Trump, and his son Hunter Biden as part of a shadow Ukraine campaign headed by Giuliani. Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he was stunned to see Nunes, whom he claims to have met “several times,” participating in the recent impeachment hearings.

lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020“I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there,” said Parnas, left, who has pleaded not guilty to the campaign finance charges. He added that he was curious as to why Derek Harvey, a Nunes aide he said he worked with on the shadow campaign, was present for the hearings. “I texted my attorney. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ ” he said.

When Maddow asked why that was, Parnas replied: “ … Because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.”

“It’s hard to see them lie like that when you know it’s, like, that scary because you know, he was sitting there and making all statements and all that when he knew very well that he knew what was going on,” Parnas said. “He knew what’s happening. He knows who I am.”

Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders during the House’s impeachment hearings, as he sought to discredit the inquiry of the president.

Parnas’s claim came hours after House Democrats released hundreds of pages of photos, messages and calendar entries to help construct a picture of the high level of access Parnas received in his efforts to make the Ukrainian president announce investigations related to the Bidens.

Parnas used access to Trump’s world to help push shadow Ukraine effort, new documents show

A couple of hours before the Parnas interview aired on MSNBC, Nunes was asked by Fox News host Martha MacCallum about the phone records that show that he spoke with the former Giuliani associate. Last month, Nunes told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that although it was “possible” that he spoke with Parnas, he did not “recall” his name. “I will go back and check my records, but it seems very unlikely I will be taking calls from random people,” he said at the time.

On Wednesday, however, Nunes said that after having time to go through his records, he was reminded that he did talk to Parnas — a chat he described as “random.”

“I just didn’t know the name — this name ‘Par-nas,’” Nunes said. “You know now that he had called my cellphone and I didn’t know his name, I didn’t remember the name, but I did remember going back where I was at the time — you can do that now, you actually know where you physically are — checked it with my records.

Jan. 15

Today's Impeachment News

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Michael Pence and operatives Igor Fruman (second from the left) and Lev Parnas (between Fruman and Trump) pose in better times for them.

Democratic Debate Headlines

New Trump Scandal Headlines

Other Major Stories

 

Today's Impeachment Excerpts

 msnbc logo CustomMSNBC / Rachel Maddow Show, Lev Parnas: 'President Trump knew exactly what was going on,' Rachel Maddow, Jan. 15, 2020 (3:06 min.). Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, talks with Rachel Maddow in an exclusive interview about the extent of Donald Trump's knowledge of the work he was doing to manipulate the president of Ukraine to help Trump smear political rival Joe Biden.

  • MSNBC, Lev Parnas: 'Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,' 2:19 min.

  • MSNBC, Lev Parnas remarks on role of Devin Nunes in Trump Ukraine Scheme, 2:27 min.

  • MSNBC, Shocking new evidence rocks Trump impeachment before Senate trial, 5:11 min.

  • MSNBC, Ukraine prosecutor offered dirt on Biden in exchange for firing of U.S. Ambassador, Jan. 15, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani have demolished Trump’s claims of innocence, Neal Katyal, right, and Joshua A. Geltzer neal katyal o(professors at Georgetown Law Center), Jan. 15, 2020. New documents show why the president has been trying to hide evidence from Congress. Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment inquiry need wonder no longer.

The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption U.S. House logowhen he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.

The most basic principles of constitutional law require relevant information, including documents and executive branch witnesses, to be turned over to Congress in an impeachment proceeding. Particularly because sitting presidents cannot be indicted, impeachment is the only immediate remedy we the people have against a lawless president. For that remedy to have any teeth, relevant information has to be provided. That’s why President James Polk said that, during impeachment, Congress could “penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments … command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial.” No president, not even Richard Nixon, thought he could just say “no” to impeachment. That’s why the House added Article II to Trump’s impeachment: “Obstruction of Congress.” It was a response to an unprecedented attempt by a president to hide the truth.

nancy pelosi impeachment ny post cover sept 25 2019 CustomThe documents released Tuesday show what Trump has been so afraid of. For starters, they prove that his already-eyebrow-raising claim to have been fighting corruption in Ukraine was bogus. Notes taken by Lev Parnas — who is an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and is now facing federal criminal charges — show what his and Giuliani’s mission was when they got in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” Look hard at the real goal here: not to prompt an investigation of Hunter Biden, but to score an announcement of a Biden investigation. Pursuing an announcement, rather than an investigation, makes sense only if Trump’s objective was to dirty the reputation of Joe Biden, a leading political rival.

Both of us served in high-ranking Justice Department positions; we’ve never heard of an investigation that is kept from the Justice Department, given to a private lawyer and then publicly announced — investigations work best when done in secret. If Trump, as he has long claimed, was truly interested in pursuing anti-corruption efforts in the bizarrely specific form of a single investigation of a single American citizen, then he would have wanted an actual investigation. Instead, he was fixated on the public announcement of one — which, if anything, would have harmed the investigation by tipping off its subject. The public announcement would have helped only one thing: Trump’s personal political prospects.

  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just buried Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Barr and more, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just pretty much forced John Bolton’s testimony to happen, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff reveals the House has more up its sleeve against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Confirmed: Lev Parnas is throwing EVERYONE under the bus tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s what you can expect from Rachel Maddow’s interview tonight with Lev Parnas, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC / The Beat with Ari, Lev Parnas tells Maddow ‘Trump knew exactly what was going on,’ Ari Melber, Jan. 15, 2020. Lev Parnas is breaking his silence in an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. He says, “President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials.”

rudolph giuliani igor fruman dmitry torner lev parnas paris cigar may joseph bondy Custom

Trump personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, in shirtsleeves, meets with, from left, Igor Fruman, business executive Dmitry Torner and Lev Parnas at a Paris cigar bar in May (Photo courtesy of Parnas attorney Joseph Bondy)

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani’s outreach to Ukrainian wanted in U.S. shows lengths he took in hunt for material to bolster Trump, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Paul Sonne and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 15, 2020. The president’s personal lawyer and his associates met in a number of European capitals with associates of gas tycoon Dmytro Firtash, according to people familiar with the encounters.

The four men are gathered around a table cluttered with glasses inside an exclusive Parisian cigar bar, beaming as they each offer an ebullient thumbs-up for the camera.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, right, President Trump’s personal attorney, is flanked by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born emigres who were helping him hunt for damaging information about Democrats in Ukraine and who now face federal campaign finance charges. At the center of the photo is a new character in the Trump-Ukraine drama: an executive at a company owned by Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian gas tycoon who has been allied with pro-Russia interests and is currently fighting extradition to the United States to face bribery charges.

Photos of the May cigar bar huddle provided to The Washington Post capture a new moment in Giuliani’s operation to procure information from Ukrainian sources to bolster his presidential client. That effort, which played out in various European cities last spring and summer, led Giuliani to seek information from Firtash’s network and other controversial figures with much to gain from helping Trump’s private lawyer.

• Washington Post, Analysis: How Ukraine’s top prosecutor went after Marie Yovanovitch, step by step

nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate, Approving Managers, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 15, 2020.  The House’s long-anticipated vote fell largely along party lines, setting the stage for what promises to be a fiercely partisan impeachment trial of President Trump.

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to send the Senate two articles of impeachment against President Trump, appointing seven Democrats to prosecute the case and initiating only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

The 228-to-193 vote came almost a month after the House impeached Mr. Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, formally accusing him of seeking foreign election assistance from Ukraine and then trying to conceal his actions from a House inquiry. Like that earlier vote, Wednesday’s fell largely along party lines.

Only one Democrat, Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, joined every Republican in voting “no.”

It set the stage for what promises to be a partisan impeachment trial, which has already opened divisions in the normally staid Senate, and has the potential to shape Mr. Trump’s legacy, to stoke the country’s political polarization and to inject new uncertainty into the 2020 elections.

adam schiff squareThe process could damage the president, exposing conduct that some voters find unacceptable, but Mr. Trump is almost certain to use his likely acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate as a complete exoneration and turn the considerable apparatus of his campaign to stoking public outrage over the process. Democrats believe the proceeding will put pressure on Republicans — particularly those facing tough re-election challenges — to condemn Mr. Trump or risk being cast as an apologist for his misdeeds.

Ms. Pelosi announced a House prosecution team that will be led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, above left, the chairman of the jerrold nadler o SmallIntelligence Committee who led the Ukraine inquiry.

He will be joined by Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York, right, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Val B. Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia R. Garcia of Texas. Mr. Crow and Ms. Garcia are both first-term members.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Documents Provide New Details of Trump’s Pressure Campaign on Ukraine, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 15, 2020. The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani and an associate on behalf of the president.

  • nancy pelosi twitterWashington Post, Analysis: Why Pelosi picked each impeachment manager, Amber Phillips, Jan. 15, 2020. Here’s what each of the seven House members brings to the table.
  • Washington Post, Analysis: How a Senate impeachment trial works, Amber Phillips, Jan. 15, 2020. Here’s how we believe each day will work based on a reading of the Senate rules.

Other Major Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghan war plagued by ‘mendacity’ and lies, inspector general tells Congress, Craig Whitlock​, Jan. 15, 2020. John F. Sopko said U.S. officials have routinely lied to the public by exaggerating progress reports and inflating statistics to create a false appearance of success.

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction told Congress Wednesday that U.S. officials have routinely lied to the public during the 18-year war by exaggerating progress reports and inflating statistics to create a false appearance of success.

“There’s an odor of mendacity throughout the Afghanistan issue . . . mendacity and hubris,” John F. Sopko said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The problem is there is a disincentive, really, to tell the truth. We have created an incentive to almost require people to lie.”

As an example, Sopko said U.S. officials have lied in the past about the number of Afghan children enrolled in schools — a key marker of progress touted by the Obama administration — even though they “knew the data was bad.” He also said U.S. officials falsely claimed major gains in Afghan life expectancy that were statistically impossible to achieve.

 donald trump gage skidmore portrait

washington post logoWashington Post, New book portrays Trump as erratic, ‘at times dangerously uninformed,’ Ashley Parker, Jan. 15, 2020. A Very Stable Genius, by two Washington Post reporters, shows “how decision-making in President Trump’s administration has been driven by one man’s self-centered and unthinking logic — but a logic nonetheless.”

President Trump reveals himself as woefully uninformed about the basics of geography, incorrectly telling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “It’s not like you’ve got China on your border.” He toys with awarding himself the Medal of Freedom.

And, according to a new book by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, Trump does not seem to grasp the fundamental history surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Hey, John, what’s this all about? What’s this a tour of?” Trump asks his then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, as the men prepare to take a private tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the December 1941 Japanese surprise attack in the Pacific that pulled the United States into World War II.

“Trump had heard the phrase ‘Pearl Harbor’ and appeared to understand that he was visiting the scene of a historic battle, but he did not seem to know much else,” write the authors, later quoting a former senior White House adviser who concludes: “He was at times dangerously uninformed.”

New Trump Scandal Excerpts

george nader djt Custom 2

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump pedophile foreign policy adviser was transporting child bestiality porn to Mar-a-Lago, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 15, 2020  Amid all of the developments involving the impeachment and forthcoming U.S. Senate trial of the aspiring dictator-president Donald Trump was the guilty plea entered by George Nader, a former Trump foreign policy adviser, in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia.

Nader was a close confidante of Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Blackwater founder and Abu Dhabi-based Reflex Responses (R2) mercenary firm owner Erik Prince, former Republican Party National Finance Committee co-chair Elliott Broidy, Trump former campaign manager Steve Bannon, Trump aide Stephen Miller, and disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

lev parnas lutsenko Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine prosecutor offered information related to Biden in exchange for ambassador’s ouster, newly released materials show, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 15, 2020 (print ed.). New materials released by House Democrats appear to show Ukraine’s rudy giulianitop prosecutor offering an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, damaging information related to former vice president Joe Biden if the Trump administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

The text messages and documents provided to Congress by former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas also show that before the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. A lawyer for Yovanovitch said Tuesday that the episode should be investigated.

The cache of materials released by House investigators late Tuesday exposed a number of previously unknown details about efforts by Giuliani and his associates to obtain material in Ukraine that would undermine Trump’s Democratic opponents.

robert hyde djt Custom

Robert Hyde, left, a GOP congressional candidate in Connecticut who owed more than $2,000 in child support while he was spending tens of thousands to support Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, was exposed Monday as allegedly working to threaten the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine using thugs in that country to advance Trump goals.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Meet the Trump Donor Who Allegedly Stalked America’s Ambassador in Ukraine, Will Sommer and Betsy Swan, Jan. 14, 2020. He was a longshot candidate with a penchant for the obscene. Now he’s at the center of the impeachment drama.

Before Tuesday, he was best known as a little-known, scandal-scarred Republican congressional candidate who tweeted an obscene joke at Kamala Harris. But new documents from the House Intelligence Committee have put a completely different kind of spotlight on Robert F. Hyde (shown above), the Trump donor who appears to have tracked U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s movements in Ukraine. She is shown at left.

marie yovanovitch“They know she’s a political puppet,” Hyde wrote to Parnas. “They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”

“Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told,” Hyde wrote in another message. Parnas responded: “LOL.” Details below.

Asked about his previously undisclosed involvement in Ukraine, Hyde texted The Daily Beast an insult about House Intel chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), writing “Bull Schiff is a giant b*tch.”

“Did Pelosi get drunk and lose the impeachment articles?” he added. “Looks like Schiff wants to whistle blow me.”

Related stories:

Hartford Courant, Conn. candidate who deleted sexist tweet about Kamala Harris owes child support but gives big to Trump and GOP, Daniela Altimari, Dec. 19, 2019. Robert F. Hyde (above left), the Republican candidate for Congress whose sexually suggestive tweet about Kamala Harris drew widespread condemnation from leaders of both political parties, owes the mother of his 13-year-old son more than $2,000 in child support, according to court records, even as he has continued to make donations to President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee.

Jennyfer Morin of Torrington said she was compelled to come forward because Hyde is seeking public support for his campaign to represent Connecticut’s 5th District. “I’m shocked that people are planning to vote for this man,” she said in an interview.

rnc logoCourt filings shared by Morin and reviewed by the Hartford Courant state that Hyde has donated more than $56,000 to political campaigns since October 2016. Most of those contributions went to the Republican National Committee, according to electronic filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Hyde also donated at least $2,000 to President Donald Trump’s reelection fund and at least $750 to the Connecticut Republican Party, according to the FEC. On Wednesday, the state party announced it was returning Hyde’s contributions, citing his “vile comments on Twitter.”

On Dec. 3, Hyde posted a crude and sexist tweet about Harris’ decision to drop out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race. The tweet [saying in part that a candidate was "going down" before unprintable language] was removed earlier this week after several prominent Republicans and Democrats criticized Hyde and urged him to drop his bid.

Hartford Courant, Editorial: Robert F. Hyde, get out of the race. The Republican party deserves better, Editorial Board, Dec. 18, 2019. Robert F. Hyde, a Simsbury resident and currently a Republican candidate for the 5th U.S. House District, is confused. He apparently thinks it is OK, perfectly fine, to tweet gross and misogynistic insults. Here’s a clarifying thought: He needs to step out of the race.

But he is not, and the Trumpian approach of being as crass as possible doesn’t work here in Connecticut.

Who is the Robert Hyde (shown above left) who surfaced in House Intelligence Committee documents?

In early December, Mr. Hyde tweeted a few hardly subtle phrases about Kamala Harris’ departure from the race for the Democratic nomination for president. They are too crude to be published here. Mr. Hyde should be embarrassed — but, to judge from his subsequent tweets, he is not.

“I wasn’t thinking on my earlier statement,'' Hyde tweeted on Tuesday, in a post that has been removed. “I felt Kampala Harris is a tremendous and one of the stronger candidates and I felt she shouldn’t have dropped out of the race so soon. The Democrats haven’t even started talking about issues.”

Kampala?

On Wednesday, a defiant tweet remained: “Kamala literally destroyed a great man (Kavanaugh) on National TV and I’m the bad guy over a tweet that was poor in taste that I posted a month ago? It’s ok for dems right? Quick question, do you think I’ll ever quit?”

Maybe he thought he was running for president.

djt podium gage skidmore via flickr Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, New Evidence Emerges as House Prepares to Send Impeachment Charges, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 15, 2020. House Democrats shared new records of President Trump’s efforts in Ukraine, adding pressure on Republicans to include witnesses in the Senate trial.

New details emerged on Tuesday of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, intensifying demands on Senate Republicans on the eve of a historic impeachment trial to include witness testimony and additional documents in the proceeding.

The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani (at far right above), Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associate Lev Parnas (at center) on behalf of the president. They include handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

FBI logoHouse Democrats released the records even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate to begin the trial. The material undergirds the accusations against Mr. Trump, and highlights how much is still to be learned about the scope of a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election.

The documents, provided by Mr. Parnas, contain a series of exchanges between him and a Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens.

In March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko messaged Mr. Parnas on the WhatsApp messaging service to complain that the Trump administration had not yet ousted the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch. Mr. Lutsenko, who had clashed with Ms. Yovanovitch and wanted her gone, appeared to link her removal to his assistance in attacking the Bidens. Related story:

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment spotlight turns to key question: whether to call witnesses, Seung Min Kim, Elise Viebeck and Robert Costa​, Jan. 15, 2020 (print ed.). A group of influential swing GOP senators is pushing to hold a vote on whether to call witnesses later in the proceedings. At the same time, the Senate’s right flank is increasingly making the case for a more aggressive posture in defense of President Trump.

The impeachment trial of President Trump, expected to open in the Senate on Thursday, is shining an intense spotlight on a handful of Senate Republicans who hold the power to decide a key question: whether to call witnesses.

djt nancy pelosiOn one end, a group of influential swing GOP senators — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — are pushing to hold a vote on whether to call witnesses later in the proceedings. Democrats have vowed to exert pressure on the group to break with their party on witnesses and other issues, such as obtaining documents.

At the same time, the Senate’s right flank is increasingly making the case to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other GOP leaders for a more aggressive posture in defense of Trump. In a private meeting with McConnell on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) argued that if Democrats press the case for potentially damaging witnesses — such as former national security adviser John Bolton — the GOP should insist on incendiary witnesses of their own, such as Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, according to two GOP officials familiar with the discussion.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatened tariffs if Europeans didn’t warn Iran on nuclear deal violations, John Hudson and Souad Mekhennet, Jan. 15, 2020. Europeans called the threat of a 25 percent tariff on autos “extortion.” A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching Iran Flagthe 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries.

If they refused to call out Tehran and initiate an arcane dispute mechanism in the deal, the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles, the Trump officials warned, according to European officials familiar with the conversations.

Within days, the three countries would formally accuse Iran of violating the deal, triggering a recourse provision that could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran and unravel the last remaining vestiges of the Obama-era agreement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Signs China Trade Deal, Putting Economic Conflict on Pause, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport, Jan. 15, 2020. An initial pact, cooling tensions in an election year, follows months of escalating tariffs and a trade war that seemed as if it would never end.

china flag SmallPresident Trump signed an initial trade deal with China on Wednesday, bringing the first chapter of a protracted and economically damaging fight with one of the world’s largest economies to a close.

The pact is intended to open Chinese markets to more American companies, increase farm and energy exports and provide greater protection for American technology and trade secrets. China has committed to purchasing an additional $200 billion worth of American goods and services by 2021 and is expected to ease some of the tariffs it has placed on American products.

But the agreement preserves the bulk of tariffs that Mr. Trump has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and it maintains the threat of additional punishment if Beijing does not live up to the terms of the deal.

Global Research, Opinion: Iran to Sue the US and Trump for Killing General Soleimani, Stephen Lendman, Jan. 15, 2020. According to Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esmayeeli, the country’s ruling authorities will sue the US in international courts for Soleimani’s assassination.

“This brutal act was a violation of human rights and all international rules,” Esmayeeli stressed, adding: “Martyr Soleimani was the official guest of the Iraqi government officials as a high-ranking (Iranian) official, and a foreign state has committed this crime in Iraq.”

“The criminal US government’s measure to martyr General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their entourage is a terrorist act from the legal view of point and a clear instance of state terrorism.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC), not the ICJ, is the proper tribunal for prosecuting individuals for crimes of war, against humanity, genocide, and aggression.

Since established by the Rome Statute in 2002, the ICC has never held the US, other Western nations, or Israel accountable for indisputable high crimes — just their victims. Time and again, the court breached its mandate to “end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern.”

Iran will likely seek redress against the US in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), mandated to settle international legal disputes, along with issuing advisory opinions on international legal issues referred to the court by the UN.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dangling disaster relief funds, White House to require Puerto Rico to implement reforms, Arelis R. Hernández and Jeff Stein, Jan. 15, 2020. The Trump administration will tell Puerto Rico to stop paying contractors on disaster projects $15 an hour, even after it was hit by recurring earthquakes this month, officials said.

The Trump administration plans to impose several new requirements on billions of dollars in aid for Puerto Rico, including a new restriction on the wages paid by the island’s government to contractors working on disaster relief, according to two officials with knowledge of the plan.

The White House has for months worked to enact new restrictions on about $8 billion in disaster mitigation aid Congress approved for the island, which was hit this month with recurring earthquakes just two years after Hurricane Maria devastated much of the U.S. territory.

Under the parameters the Trump administration is proposing, Puerto Rico’s government will have to agree to give new oversight authority to the island’s federally mandated Fiscal Control Board — an appointed, independent government body — to receive funding for certain federal projects, officials said. Puerto Rico also will have to agree to pay federal contractors working on disaster relief less than $15 an hour, despite a recent executive order mandating the rate.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has been working with White House officials, is expected to tell the Puerto Rico government about the proposed restrictions this week, the officials said.

michael flynn djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn Moves to Withdraw Guilty Plea in Russia Inquiry, Adam Goldman, Jan. 15, 2020 (print ed.). Once cited by the special counsel team as an exemplary cooperating witness, President Trump’s former national security adviser (above left) had grown combative.

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn moved late on Tuesday to withdraw his guilty plea on charges of lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry, accusing prosecutors of “bad faith” and vindictiveness after they asked a judge to sentence him to prison for backing out of a deal to cooperate with them.

The last-ditch request means that more than two years after first pleading guilty and after spending dozens of hours answering the questions of investigators for the special counsel, Mr. Flynn would take his chances at trial if a judge agrees to grant his motion. That would set up a collision course with prosecutors who could decide to bring additional charges against him.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency whose case marked a striking downfall, has already pleaded guilty twice to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition in late 2016. As part of his agreement with the government, Mr. Flynn also admitted that he violated foreign lobbying laws when he failed to disclose work he had done for Turkey.

After he cooperated extensively with prosecutors in the Russia investigation, they recommended leniency in late 2018. Mr. Flynn even agreed to delay his sentencing at the time to offer further cooperation by testifying against a former business associate in a case in Northern Virginia. But Mr. Flynn grew increasingly antagonistic in recent months and hired combative new lawyers in mid-2019.

Those lawyers had tried to convince a federal judge that the F.B.I. had ambushed him as part of a plot by biased investigators, hoping that the case would be thrown out. But the judge rejected those accusations this month as baseless, and prosecutors reversed their stance, saying Mr. Flynn should be imprisoned.

emmet sullivan 2012Because Mr. Flynn has already pleaded guilty twice, he cannot unilaterally withdraw from the plea deal. The federal judge in the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, right, of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, has to sign off on Mr. Flynn’s request and will most likely give prosecutors a chance to respond and schedule a hearing on the matter.

Mr. Flynn’s gamble raises questions about whether he and his lawyers were making a play for a presidential pardon. Days into his presidency, Mr. Trump dismissed Mr. Flynn after learning he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other senior administration officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, but he has also said Mr. Flynn was treated badly by investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge temporarily halts administration policy allowing local governments to block refugees, Ann E. Marimow and Maria Sacchetti, Jan. 15, 2020. The ruling found the Trump administration’s new policy on refugee resettlement is likely “unlawful.”

State and local officials cannot block refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the Trump peter messeti american universityadministration’s new refu­gee policy is likely to be “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest.”

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte of Maryland temporarily halted President Trump’s executive order requiring governors and local officials nationwide to agree in writing to welcome refugees before resettlements take place in their jurisdictions.

“Giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midst — flies in the face of clear Congressional intent,” Messitte wrote in a 31-page de

Jan. 14

Trump Impeachment Headlines

 

Trump's Threatening Supporter

ny times logoNew York Times, New Evidence Emerges as House Prepares to Send Impeachment Charges, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 15, 2020. House Democrats shared new records of President Trump’s efforts in Ukraine, adding pressure on Republicans to include witnesses in the Senate trial.

New details emerged on Tuesday of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, intensifying demands on Senate Republicans on the eve of a historic impeachment trial to include witness testimony and additional documents in the proceeding.

The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani (at far right above), Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associate Lev Parnas (at center) on behalf of the president. They include handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

House Democrats released the records even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate to begin the trial. The material undergirds the accusations against Mr. Trump, and highlights how much is still to be learned about the scope of a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election.

The documents, provided by Mr. Parnas, contain a series of exchanges between him and a Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens.

In March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko messaged Mr. Parnas on the WhatsApp messaging service to complain that the Trump administration had not yet ousted the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch. Mr. Lutsenko, who had clashed with Ms. Yovanovitch and wanted her gone, appeared to link her removal to his assistance in attacking the Bidens.

Trump Impeachment Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Senate Republicans reject Trump’s renewed call for immediate dismissal of charges, Seung Min Kim, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). Senior Republicans said such a dismissal could not win approval in the chamber, where the GOP holds a 53-seat majority. And even some staunch Trump allies argued the president’s legacy would benefit from a robust trial.

roy blunt official Small“I don’t think there’s any interest on our side of dismissing,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the fourth-ranking GOP senator. “Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss.”

us senate logoSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he wants the trial — only the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history — to follow the format used 21 years ago in the trial of President Bill Clinton. In that case, the Senate approved a resolution that would have allowed the Senate to vote to dismiss the charges.

But senior Republicans signaled Monday that they are not inclined to include such a provision in the resolution that will kick off Trump’s trial, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

washington post logoWashington Post, House to vote Wednesday to send impeachment articles against Trump to the Senate, John Wagner, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 14, 2020. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that the House will vote on a resolution appointing impeachment managers and nancy pelosi impeachmenttransmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, allowing the trial of President Trump to begin this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, has announced that the House will vote Wednesday on a resolution appointing House impeachment managers and transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, allowing the trial of President Trump to begin this week.

In anticipation of the historic event, senators in the chamber controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have been maneuvering behind the scenes about whether the trial should include witnesses and who might be summoned to testify.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment, Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., right, and his son Hunter Biden, Russian joe biden omilitary hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the affair, according to security experts.

The hacking attempts against Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served, began in early November, as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States.

It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for. But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.

The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.

Then, as now, the Russian hackers from a military intelligence unit known formerly as the G.R.U., and to private researchers by the alias “Fancy Bear,” used so-called phishing emails that appear designed to steal usernames and passwords, according to Area 1, the Silicon Valley security firm that detected the hacking. In this instance, the hackers set up fake websites that mimicked sign-in pages of Burisma subsidiaries, and have been blasting Burisma employees with emails meant to look like they are coming from inside the burisma logocompany.

The hackers fooled some of them into handing over their login credentials, and managed to get inside one of Burisma’s servers, Area 1 said.

“The attacks were successful,” said Oren Falkowitz, a co-founder of Area 1, who previously served at the National Security Agency. Mr. Falkowitz’s firm maintains a network of sensors on web servers around the globe — many known to be used by state-sponsored hackers — which gives the firm a front-row seat to phishing attacks, and allows them to block attacks on their customers.

“The timing of the Russian campaign mirrors the G.R.U. hacks we saw in 2016 against the D.N.C. and John Podesta,” the Clinton campaign chairman, Mr. Falkowitz said. “Once again, they are stealing email credentials, in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election.”

The Justice Department indicted seven officers from the same military intelligence unit in 2018.

The Russian attacks on Burisma appear to be running parallel to an effort by Russian spies in Ukraine to dig up information in the analog world that could embarrass the Bidens, according to an American security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The spies, the official said, are trying to penetrate Burisma and working sources in the Ukrainian government in search of emails, financial records and legal documents.

washington post logodjt impeached wapo 12 19 19 front page CustomWashington Post, Trump amplifies incendiary tweets about Nancy Pelosi after her comments on Iran protests, Brittany Shammas, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump on Monday retweeted a volley of incendiary posts accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of downplaying protests in Iran and supporting the regime.

donald trump twitterOne of them, a fake photo of Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) wearing photoshopped Islamic head coverings and standing in front of the Iranian flag, drew swift condemnation. “DEMOCRATS 2020” read the text below the image, which was originally tweeted by an anonymous user with the caption, “The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue.”

Among those denouncing the tweet was Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.

“It’s outrageous that @realDonaldTrump elevated such repulsive anti-Muslim bigotry,” he tweeted. “#Islamophobia is offensive & unbecoming of any leader, let alone @POTUS. When #hate & division are on the rise, this is the opposite of what we need from the President. An apology is in order ASAP.”

Asked about the criticism during a Fox News appearance, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham backed Trump’s decision to amplify the tweet. She said he did so to make a point.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Suddenly Trump has lost enthusiasm for his trial, Dana Milbank
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi may yet have the last laugh, Jennifer Rubin

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Has Votes to Pass Limits on Trump’s Iran War Power, Catie Edmondson, Jan. 14, 2020. At least four Republicans would break ranks to pass the bill, a key Democrat said. It would be unlikely to overcome a veto from President Trump.

  • New York Times, Take Impeachment Seriously, Senators, Editorial Board, Jan. 14, 2020. Can they handle the truth?

World Newsdjt rally file Custom

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: They Like to Get the Landmarks, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 14, 2020. In the 2016 science fiction sequel, Independence strategic culture logoDay: Resurgence, actor Jeff Goldblum, describing the targeting priorities of aliens invading the Earth, says, “They like to get the landmarks.” In both Independence Day and its sequel, movie viewers were treated to scenes of macabre-looking extraterrestrials destroying the Empire State Building, the White House, Los Angeles’s Tower Records building, and London’s Tower Bridge and “the Eye” wheel.

Destroying famous landmarks is not merely in the purview of motion picture aliens but also the president of the United States. In a series of tweets sent after Trump (shown at a rally) ordered the assassination at Baghdad International Airport of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Al Quds commander, Major General Qaseem Soleimani, he vowed to destroy Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated for the U.S. assassination of Iran’s most revered military leader.

Trump tweeted: “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have… targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

iran wants war graphic Custom 3Destroying cultural and religious sites during armed conflict is a war crime and a violation of international law. Not since 1944, when the German commander of Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, defied Adolf Hitler’s order to destroy the major cultural sites in Nazi-occupied Paris – the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Sacré-Cœur basilica, and others – had a military official so publicly defied a political leader.

Trump did not state what 52 Iranian cultural sites and antiquities were on his “hit list,” but informed observers believe they included the ruins of the capital of the Achaemenid Empire at Persepolis; the Kingdom of Elam’s holy city, Tchogha Zanbil; and Imam Square in Isfahan, all protected World Heritage sites protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), from which Trump withdrew the United States in 2019.

The world has in recent years witnessed a number of barbarian acts of destruction of world heritage cultural sites. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed several historical sites and objects of antiquity in Mosul, Iraq and Palmyra, Syria. In 2001, the Taliban blew up the UNESCO-protected Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, rendering them into a pile of rubble.

It is a sad commentary on the present state of the world that an American president would desire to put himself in the same barbarian category as Adolf Hitler, ISIL, and the Taliban. However, Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran appears to have very few boundaries.

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, Trump’s trade deal with China won’t give many U.S. companies relief, as most tariffs will remain, David J. Lynch, Jan. 14, 2020. Nearly two-thirds of everything Americans buy from China will face tariffs, compared with less than 1 percent before the president began his anti-China campaign, according to an analysis.

washington post logoWashington Post, France, Britain, Germany launch dispute process in Iran nuclear deal, a step toward sanctions, Loveday Morris, Jan. 14, 2020. By activating the 2015 deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, the European nations indicated they reject Iran’s withdrawal from the restrictions.

Tehran had been gradually reducing its commitments under the deal since the United States withdrew and reimposed sanctions in 2018.

With Washington threatening secondary sanctions against European businesses dealing with Iran, Tehran argued it could no longer reap the financial benefits laid out in the pact in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

Jan. 13

William Barr is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. His wife, Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts look on

William Barr is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. His wife, Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts look on (White House photo).

The New Yorker, William Barr, Trump’s Sword and Shield:  The Attorney General’s mission to maximize executive power and protect the Presidency, David Rohde (an executive editor of newyorker.com and the author of In Deep: The F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the Truth about America’s ‘Deep State’, forthcoming in April, 2020), Jan. 13, 2020 (January 20, 2020 Issue). For decades, Barr has argued that Congress is a menace to the Presidency.  As Attorney General, he’s poised to fight back.

Last October, Attorney General William Barr appeared at Notre Dame Law School to make a case for ideological warfare. Before an assembly of students and faculty, Barr claimed that the “organized destruction” of religion was under way in the United States. “Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values,” he said. Barr, a conservative Catholic, blamed the spread of “secularism and moral relativism” for a rise in “virtually every measure of social pathology”—from the “wreckage of the family” to “record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.”

The speech was less a staid legal lecture than a catalogue of grievances accumulated since the Reagan era, when Barr first enlisted in the culture wars. It included a series of contentious claims. He argued, for example, that the Founders of the United States saw religion as essential to democracy. “In the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people—a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order,” he said. Barr ended his address by urging his listeners to resist the “constant seductions of our contemporary society” and launch a “moral renaissance.”

Donald Trump does not share Barr’s long-standing concern about the role of religion in civic life.

(Though he often says that the Bible is his favorite book, when he was asked which Testament he preferred, he answered, “The whole Bible is incredible.”)

What the two men have in common is a sense of being surrounded by a hostile insurgency.

Impeachment Headlines

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Headlines

 

Impeachment Excerpts

washington post logous senate logoWashington Post, Preparations accelerate for historic Senate trial of Trump, John Wagner​, Jan. 13, 2020. The House is expected to appoint impeachment managers and transmit the articles of impeachment in coming days.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Frightening Vision of the Presidency Is on Trial, Too, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes (authors of the forthcoming “Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office”), Jan. 13, 2020. The president believes that what is good for him and what is good for the country are indistinguishable.

When the trial of President Trump begins, perhaps as soon as this week, the Senate will formally confront only the two questions posed by the articles of impeachment passed in the House of Representatives. Did Mr. Trump abuse the powers of his office in his interactions with Ukraine? And did he obstruct Congress’s investigation of that matter?

But the real question before the Senate is far broader than the specific scandal recounted in the articles. What is on trial, at the most basic level, is Mr. Trump’s vision of the American presidency.

washington post logoWashington Post, A deal with the president on impeachment? McConnell’s supporters at home demand it, Griff Witte​, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is up for reelection this year and needs to keep conservatives on his side in what could be a tight campaign.

mitch mcconnell2The Senate majority leader’s insistence that he will coordinate Trump’s impeachment trial with the White House — and that he has no intention of being impartial — has provoked howls of protest from Democrats. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused McConnell, left, of orchestrating a “coverup” of Trump’s actions.

It has also prompted speculation that he could jeopardize his slender majority by exposing Republicans in swing or Democratic-leaning states to accusations that they went along with a rigged process running counter to the Constitution.

But here in Kentucky, it just looks like savvy politics.

The 77-year-old is expected to face a vigorous challenge in November from a decorated Marine fighter pilot with a record of big-dollar fundraising. Yet McConnell has shown an unerring instinct for self-preservation across six Senate terms and a record stint as Republican leader.

• Washington Post, Pelosi says Trump is ‘impeached for life’ despite McConnell’s ‘coverup.

djt lev parnas Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just took his big swing at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 13, 2020. It’s a storyline that may or may not add up to anything, but it just won’t go away. Lev Parnas, who is currently awaiting criminal trial in relation to his role in Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, has become hellbent on the idea of playing a major role in Trump’s impeachment. Just as the House appears ready to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Parnas, shown above at left, just took his big swing.

bill palmer report logo headerLev Parnas’ attorney Joseph Bondy tweeted this last night: “We brought the contents of Lev Parnas’ iPhone 11 to HPSCI today, despite every stumbling block placed in our path since DOJ SDNY arrested him on 10/9/19.”

So what’s on this iPhone? We don’t know. But we do know that when it came time for the Feds to share the seized evidence with Lev ahead of trial, Lev and his legal team fought in court for permission to share the contents of this phone with the House Intelligence Committee. Lev appears to be trying to convince the House that he’s a credible witness against Donald Trump, and that he should be called to testify. The evidence on the phone ostensibly backs up Lev’s version of events.

Of course the House has already closed out its impeachment process, having impeached Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment. But if the House finds Lev Parnas’ evidence and testimony credible, it can always announce new hearings and consider additional articles of impeachment – even as the Senate is holding a trial on the two existing articles. We’ll see where this does or doesn’t go, but Parnas seems to believe that whatever is on his phone can help reduce his potential prison sentence.

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, In saying Iran aimed to attack ‘four embassies,’ Trump puts U.S. in a credibility crisis, Philip Rucker, John Hudson, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 13, 2020. At a perilous moment for the nation’s security, with the United States at the brink of war with Iran, President Trump is unable to rely on trustworthiness to justify his decision to take out a top Iranian general.

Based on what is known so far, Trump’s statement was at best an unfounded theory and at worst a falsehood. At each turn in the commander in chief’s rapidly-evolving narrative of why he authorized the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Iranian Major Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the machinery of government scrambled to adapt and respond.

The result is a credibility crisis for an administration that has long struggled to communicate factual information to the public. At a perilous moment for the nation’s security, with the United States at the brink of war with Iran, Trump is unable to rely on trustworthiness to justify his decision to take out Soleimani, both because of his lengthy record of exaggerations and lies and because of his ever-shifting rationales.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Iran Strategy May Cost Him in 2020 Election, Jeremy W. Peters, Jan. 13, 2020. President Trump’s criticism of American interventionism was part of his appeal to voters. But as tensions with Iran remain high, Mr. Trump risks becoming the wartime president he said he never wanted to be.

Almost exactly four years ago, Donald J. Trump touched down at an airport hangar here (in Dubuque, Iowa), delivered a donation to a group that provides service dogs to veterans and, before inviting a few kids to run around on his Boeing 757, criticized the wars in the Middle East that many local families had sent their sons and daughters to fight in.

“I’m the guy that didn’t want to go to war,” he told a crowd of several hundred. “It’s just unjust, it’s a mess,” Mr. Trump went on, promising that if he ever did deploy the military anywhere, it would be “so strong, so powerful that nobody is going to mess with us anymore.”

That November, Dubuque County voted Republican in the presidential election for the first time since 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower was on the ballot.

Mr. Trump’s success in places like Dubuque — heavily white, working class, union-friendly and Catholic — remade the Republican electorate. And his path to a second term depends heavily on whether those voters turn their backs on the Democratic Party again.

republican elephant logoBut the specter of a new conflict in the Middle East — this time with Iran — threatens the political coalition that Mr. Trump built in 2016 by running against a national Republican Party that many voters came to see as indifferent and unresponsive, particularly when it came to the human cost of war.

As tensions with Iran remain high, Mr. Trump risks becoming the wartime president he claimed he never wanted to be. And he has struggled to reconcile the inconsistencies in his foreign policy, leaving some voters wondering what he really is as a commander in chief: the president who crushed the Islamic State and will stop “endless wars,” as he claims, or a volatile decision maker who in the span of three months orders troops to pull out of Syria and then deploys thousands more to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran after taking out one of its top generals in a drone strike.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. commanders at al-Asad base believe Iranian missile barrage was designed to kill, Louisa Loveluck, Jan. 13, 2020. The attack lasted more than an hour and a half, troops said. The lack of casualties appears to be partly a function of luck at the sprawling base in Iraq.

• Washington Post, Trump says ‘it doesn’t really matter’ if Iranian general posed an imminent threat
• Washington Post, Trump amplifies incendiary tweets about Pelosi after her comments on Iran protests

washington post logoCentcom logoWashington Post, U.S. troops on Iraqi base had minutes’ notice before barrage of Iranian rockets, Louisa Loveluck, Jan. 13, 2020. The attack lasted more than an hour and a half, troops said. The lack of casualties appears to be partly a function of luck.

In the hours that followed, Iran described the attacks as a shot of “harsh revenge” that had killed dozens. Within a day, that rhetoric had shifted and U.S. and Iraqi officials were insisting that nobody had been killed or wounded.

Accounts from inside the Trump administration have suggested that the lack of casualties was a crucial factor in the president’s decision not to escalate further. “All is well!” he posted in a tweet hours after the attack.

• Washington Post, Pompeo has declined to discuss Iran with House Foreign Affairs panel, its chairman says
• Washington Post, Analysis: Trump’s compulsion to take credit deepens his credibility gap amid questions about Iran
• Washington Post, Iranians protest over downed airliner amid reports of gunfire by security forces

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials struggle to explain intelligence behind killing of Soleimani, Karen DeYoung​, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Senior members of the administration including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper declined to confirm the president’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran.​

Department of Defense SealSenior administration officials declined Sunday to confirm President Trump’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran, while saying that Trump’s “interpretation” of the threat was consistent with overall intelligence that justified the killing of a senior Iranian general.

“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said of intelligence reports. “What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies,” Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Washington Post, Strike against general reflects an aggressive national security team not inclined to curb Trump.

Trump Border Issue Dictates

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump planning to divert additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall, Nick Miroff​, Jan. 13, 2020. ​The move would give his administration five times more money than Congress authorized in the 2020 budget for barrier construction — and add hundreds of miles of new barriers — according to figures obtained by The Post.

President Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year, five times what Congress authorized him to spend on the project in the 2020 budget, according to internal planning figures obtained by The Washington Post.

The Pentagon funds would be extracted, for the second year in a row, from military construction projects and counternarcotics funding. According to the plans, the funding would give the government enough money to complete approximately 885 miles of new fencing by Spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration has slated for the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump took $2.5 billion from military counterdrug programs for border barrier construction in 2019, but this year his administration is planning to take significantly more — $3.5 billion. Trump administration officials also are planning to take $3.7 billion in military construction funding, slightly more than the $3.6 billion diverted in 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. is putting asylum seekers on planes to Guatemala — often without telling them where they’re going, Kevin Sieff, Jan. 13, 2020. For the first time ever, the United States is shipping asylum seekers who arrive at its border to a “safe third country” to seek refuge there. The Trump administration hopes the program will serve as a model for others in the region.

But during its first weeks, asylum seekers and human rights advocates say, migrants have been put on planes without being told where they were headed, and left here without being given basic instruction about what to do next.

When the migrants land in Guatemala City, they receive little information about what it means to apply for asylum in one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries. Those who don’t immediately apply are told to leave the country in 72 hours. The form is labeled “Voluntary Return.”

Jan. 12

Inside DC

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un poses with his admirer Donald Trump at their meeting on June 12, 2018.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un poses with his admirer Donald Trump at their meeting on June 12, 2018.

Axios Sneak Peek, Exclusive: Trump tells Kim Jong-un he wants to resume talks, Jonathan Swan, Jan. 12, 2020. White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien tells Axios that the Trump administration has "reached out to the North Koreans" to ask them to resume diplomacy that has been all but dead since October.

O'Brien also indicated he was cautiously optimistic about the fact that Kim Jong-un hasn't yet delivered his promised "Christmas gift" — which many analysts expected would be a nuclear weapons test. O'Brien sat down with Margaret Talev, Alayna Treene and me at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday to talk about a range of national security challenges at the start of a new year.

On the tense and dangerous situation with North Korea, O'Brien told us: "We've reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October.

"We've been letting them know, through various channels, that we would like to get those [negotiations] back on track and to implement Chairman Kim's commitment" to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Between the lines: It appears President Trump is again trying to lean on what he has described as his warm personal relationship with the brutal North Korean dictator.

Trump recently sent a birthday message to Kim. But the North Koreans have already said Trump's courtship will not change their policy. So far, Trump's diplomacy has yielded little besides giving Kim more time to expand his nuclear arsenal, according to analysts tracking North Korea's supply of nuclear warheads.

  • Trump may reduce troops in Afghanistan without Taliban deal. O'Brien tells Axios "it is possible" Trump will cut a deal with the Taliban this year but that even if a deal can't be struck, the president is still poised to reduce troops in Afghanistan.

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials struggle to explain intelligence behind killing of Soleimani, Karen DeYoung​, Jan. 12, 2020. Senior members of the administration including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper declined to confirm the president’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran.​

Senior administration officials declined Sunday to confirm President Trump’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran, while saying that Trump’s “interpretation” of the threat was consistent with overall intelligence that justified the killing of a senior Iranian general.

“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said of intelligence reports. “What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies,” Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Washington Post, Strike against general reflects an aggressive national security team not inclined to curb Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Leaders in Tehran face new challenges after Iran admits to downing plane, Erin Cunningham and Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). Protests flared Iran Flagin Tehran, where student-led rallies decried the missile mistake and called on military chiefs to resign.

• Washington Post, What's at stake for Iran
• Washington Post, Iran tensions could fulfill prophecies about the end of the world, some religious teachers say

OpEdNews, Commentary: Trump Tells Iraq Order US Troops Out and I'll Freeze Your Central Bank's Account at the Fed, Dave Lindorff, Jan. 12, 2020. President Trump's actions in the Middle East are becoming increasingly unhinged. A week ago, he nearly triggered a catastrophic war between Iran and the US when, acting seemingly on a whim or in response to the advice of two of his nuttier advisors, fundamentalist Christian "Rapture" believers Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, he ordered the assassination by drone of the commander of Iran's military, Qassem Suleimani.

Fortunately for American troops, sailors and pilots, and for all of us and the people of Iran, saner heads in the administration seem to have gotten to Trump, and also fortunately,Iran's military responded in measured fashion. As a result, the threat of a major war between the two countries seems to have receded a bit, at least for now.

abdul mahdi Custom 2Then today, Trump, in response for a call by Iraq's parliament and its Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, right, for the US to withdraw all of its 5100 troops currently stationed in Iraq, declared he would not remove them. He added that if forced to pull them out of the country by Iraq, would freeze a deposit account of Iraq's Central Bank at the US Federal Reserve, preventing Iraq from accessing what the Wall Street Journal reports amounted to a deposited balance of some $3 billion at the end of 2018.

The Wall Street Journal article reports that some 250 foreign central banks and other state entities have such accounts with the US Federal Reserve containing untold billions of dollars. There was no discussion in the Journal article of what impact the US's arbitrary freezing of Iraq's Central Bank account simply over a dispute about America's troops in Iraq might have on the willingness of all those other foreign countries' banks and agencies willingness to continue letting the Fed hold their money.

It has not been unusual for the US to freeze foreign countries' assets, in both the Federal Reserve Bank, and in the electronic vaults of US commercial banks, but typically this has been done when a country has engaged in illegal activity, or when a revolution has occurred. This was the case after the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979, and was the reason that the Obama administration, as part of the nuclear deal it and five other nations negotiated with Iran, unfroze some $150 billion in Iranian assets that the US had been blocking Iran from accessing. (That's the nuclear agreement that Trump tore up earlier this year.)

Impeachment Update

washington post logoWashington Post, A deal with the president on impeachment? McConnell’s supporters at home demand it, Griff Witte​, Jan. 12, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is up for reelection this year and needs to keep conservatives on his side in what could be a tight campaign.

mitch mcconnell2The Senate majority leader’s insistence that he will coordinate Trump’s impeachment trial with the White House — and that he has no intention of being impartial — has provoked howls of protest from Democrats. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused McConnell, left, of orchestrating a “coverup” of Trump’s actions.

It has also prompted speculation that he could jeopardize his slender majority by exposing Republicans in swing or Democratic-leaning states to accusations that they went along with a rigged process running counter to the Constitution.

But here in Kentucky, it just looks like savvy politics.

The 77-year-old is expected to face a vigorous challenge in November from a decorated Marine fighter pilot with a record of big-dollar fundraising. Yet McConnell has shown an unerring instinct for self-preservation across six Senate terms and a record stint as Republican leader.

• Washington Post, Pelosi says Trump is ‘impeached for life’ despite McConnell’s ‘coverup.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion from George Conway and Neal Katyal: How Pelosi should play her impeachment cards, George T. Conway III, right, and Neal K. Katyal, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but george conway twitterthat does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial.

McConnell, below left, has said “there’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office” and “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position.” In response, Pelosi still has cards in her hand — if she plays them — because the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

mitch mcconnell2The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both — along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.

Separating the two articles — our preferred approach — would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump’s obstruction is a matter of public record. There’s nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump’s guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.

neal katyal oHow can one conduct a “trial” without knowing this evidence? As lawyers, we have never heard of a trial without witnesses. Both past impeachment trials of presidents featured witnesses — including 41 in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. And the lack of witnesses is particularly striking given the shell game Trump and his Republican colleagues have played. In the House, Trump prevented executive branch employees from testifying, but said some of them would be able to testify in the Senate. Now that we are in the Senate, Republicans say these folks should have testified in the House. Lewis Carroll would be pleased.

George T. Conway III is a lawyer in New York and an adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC. Neal Katyal, right, a law professor at Georgetown University, is the author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump” and previously served as the acting solicitor general of the United States.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani has completely berserk meltdown on live national television, Daniel Cotter, Jan. 12, 2020. Just when you think that Rudy Giuliani cannot find a way rudy giuliani recentto even further demonstrate the insanity of himself and his client, Rudy finds a new way. Giuliani, right, who went on a mission to Ukraine to manufacture fake dirt on the Bidens and promised explosive information, was dismissed by Lindsey Graham as needing to have his information vetted. For Graham to be so dismissive tells us all we need to know.

Now Giuliani is spreading more manure, this time on “Judge” Jeanine’s show. Giuliani claimed on Saturday night that Joe Biden made money in Iraq, in Iran, and in China. He spoke of a RICO crime chart with Biden at the center. No evidence, no information, nothing, but the Cult 45 fools will eat this up.

bill palmer report logo headerRudy also went on to say that the Supreme Court should declare impeachment unconstitutional. One minor problem for the G-Man, who used to be respected for his legal analysis: impeachment is specifically set forth in the Constitution, and assigns the responsibility of each chamber of Congress and the process that is to take place. Impeachment requires no actual criminal conduct, and is instead a political process.

In addition, Rudy stated to Jeanine, “The Chief Justice has the power to dismiss the impeachment case.” Yeah, that is not how this works. The Chief Justice has no power to do any such thing and, in the 1990s, the Supreme Court expressly stated that when it comes to the process, the Court would not get involved, as impeachment is indeed a political matter. We appear to be living in a world of Batman’s Gotham, with Rudy appearing as a delusional Joker. Notice though that “Judge Jeanine” might be the only willing participant at the moment in Rudy’s delusional act – just not the kind of judge who can help him.

Jan. 11

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Says It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian Airliner, Farnaz Fassihi, Jan. 11, 2020 (updated). “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said, as Iran reversed its claims that mechanical failure was to blame.

Iran’s military announced early Saturday that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error because of what it called the plane’s sharp, unexpected hassan rouhani fileturn toward a sensitive military base.

After days of tension since the jet crashed near Tehran on Wednesday, the same day that Iranian missiles struck American bases in Iraq, the admission was a stunning reversal. Iran initially maintained that mechanical issues had brought the Boeing airliner down, killing all 176 people aboard.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter soon after the military released its statement. He offered condolences to the victims’ families and said investigations were underway. The military said the person responsible would face legal consequences.

washington post logoWashington Post, On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they launched another operation targeting Iranian official in Yemen, John Hudson, Missy Ryan and Josh Dawsey​, Jan. 11, 2020 (print ed.). On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials.

The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

qassim soleimaniThe unsuccessful operation may indicate that the Trump administration’s killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, right, last week was part of a broader operation than previously explained, raising questions about whether the mission was designed to cripple the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or solely to prevent an imminent attack on Americans as originally stated.

U.S. military operations in Yemen, where a civil war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, are shrouded in secrecy. U.S. officials said the operation against Shahlai remains highly classified, and many declined to offer details other than to say it was not successful.

Impeachment

washington post logonancy pelosi impeachmentWashington Post, Pelosi signals House will send articles of impeachment to Senate as soon as next week, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis​, Jan. 11, 2020 (print ed.). “I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” the House speaker said in a letter to colleagues Friday.

Jan. 6

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis

ny times logoNew York Times, News analysis: Iran Challenges Trump, Announcing End of Nuclear Restrictions, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Jan. 6, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump thought the nuclear deal was flawed because restrictions on Iran would end after 15 years. Now, responding to a U.S. strike, Iran has declared the limits over after less than five.

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, he justified his unilateral action by saying the President Donald Trump officialaccord was flawed, in part because the major restrictions on Iran ended after 15 years, when Tehran would be free to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wanted.

But now, instead of buckling to American pressure, Iran declared on Sunday that those restrictions are over — a decade ahead of schedule. Mr. Trump’s gambit has effectively backfired.

Iran’s announcement essentially sounded the death knell of the 2015 nuclear agreement. And it largely re-creates conditions that led Israel and the United States to consider destroying Iran’s facilities a decade ago, again bringing them closer to the potential of open conflict with Tehran that was avoided by the accord.

Iran did stop short of abandoning the entire deal on Sunday, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and its foreign minister held open the possibility that his nation would return to its provisions in the future — if Mr. Trump reversed course and lifted the sanctions he has imposed since withdrawing from the accord.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatens strikes on Iranian cultural sites, sanctions against Iraq, Seung Min Kim and Philip Rucker, July 6, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump served a bellicose brew of threats, rebukes and contempt on Sunday as he escalated tensions in the Middle East and awaited Iran's possible retaliation for the U.S. killing of one of its top generals.

Trump projected a wartime posture as he wrapped up his holiday vacation here, reiterating that if Iran took military action against the United States he may order attacks on Iranian cultural sites, which could constitute a war crime under international law. He vowed on Twitter to "quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner."

Trump threatened Iraq as well. He countered the Iraqi parliament's move Sunday to try to expel foreign troops, including U.S. forces, by telling reporters that he would respond by imposing "very big sanctions" on the nation and demanding that Iraq reimburse the United States for the billions of dollars it had invested in a major air base there.

Should Iraq force out the Americans, Trump said, "We will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before, ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame."

He added that he would impose "very big sanctions" on Iraq "if there's any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate."

Trump also flouted protocols at home, making a mockery of his necessity to advise Congress of military action by writing on Twitter that his tweets would serve as official notification of strikes.

Threat To Afghanistan

Tom Dispatch via Truthdig, Opinion: Trump Threatens Armageddon in Afghanistan, Nick Turse, Jan. 6, 2020. On February 4, 2002, a Predator drone circled over Afghanistan’s Paktia province, near the city of Khost. Below was al-Qaeda’s founder Osama bin Laden — or at least someone in the CIA thought so — and he was marked for death. As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it later, both awkwardly and passively: “A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired.” That air-to-ground, laser-guided missile — designed to obliterate tanks, bunkers, helicopters, and people — did exactly what it was meant to do.

As it happened, though (and not for the first time in its history either), the CIA got it wrong. It wasn’t Osama bin Laden on the receiving end of that strike, or a member of al-Qaeda, or even of the Taliban. The dead, local witnesses reported, were civilians out collecting scrap metal, ordinary people going about their daily work just as thousands of Americans had been doing at the World Trade Center only months earlier when terror struck from the skies.

In the years since, those Afghan scrap collectors have been joined by more than 157,000 war dead in that embattled land. That’s a heavy toll, but represents just a fraction of the body count from America’s post-9/11 wars. According to a study by the Costs of War Project of Brown University’s Watson Institute, as many as 801,000 people, combatants and noncombatants alike, have been killed in those conflicts. That’s a staggering number, the equivalent of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. But if President Donald Trump is to be believed, the United States has “plans” that could bury that grim count in staggering numbers of dead. The “method of war” he suggested employing could produce more than 20 times that number in a single country — an estimated 20 million or more Afghans, almost all of them civilians.

It’s a strange fact of our moment that President Trump has claimed to have “plans” (or “a method”) for annihilating millions of innocent people, possibly most of the population of Afghanistan. Yet those comments of his barely made the news, disappearing within days. Even for a president who threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea and usher in “the end” of Iran, hinting at the possibility of wiping out most of the civilian population of an ally represented something new.

After all, America’s commander-in-chief does have the authority, at his sole discretion, to order the launch of weapons from the vast U.S. nuclear arsenal. So it was no small thing last year when President Trump suggested that he might unleash a “method of war” that would kill at least 54% of the roughly 37 million inhabitants of Afghanistan.

And yet almost no one — in Washington or Kabul — wanted to touch such presidential comments. The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department all demurred. So did the chief spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. One high-ranking Afghan official apologized to me for being unable to respond honestly to President Trump’s comments. A current American official expressed worry that reacting to the president’s Afghan threats might provoke a presidential tweet storm against him and refused to comment on the record.

Experts, however, weren’t shy about weighing in on what such “plans,” if real and utilized, would actually mean. Employing such a method (to use the president’s term), they say, would constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, and possibly a genocide.

Jan. 5

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Headlines

qasem soleimani 2018 via epa efe iranian supreme leader office Custom

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

ny times logoNew York Times, Iraqi Lawmakers Vote to Expel U.S. Troops as Iran Mourns a Slain General, Alissa J. Rubin, Steven Erlanger and Farnaz Fassihi, Jan. 5, 2020. The vote to oust American troops is not final until Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi signs the draft bill, but there is little doubt that he will. Hundreds of thousands poured into the streets in Iran to pay their respects to Maj. General Qassim Suleimani, who was killed in iraq afghanistan mapa U.S. strike in Baghdad.

Lawmakers in Iraq voted on Sunday to require the government to end the presence of American troops in the country after the United States ordered the killing of the Iranian leader of the elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, on Iraqi soil.

The decision to heed the demands of angry Shiite factions and politicians came as hundreds of thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Iran to pay their respects to General Suleimani, the most powerful figure in the country after the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The vote is not final until Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, left, of Iraq signs the bill. But since he drafted the language and submitted the bill to Parliament, there was little doubt he would sign it.

abdul mahdi Custom 2Although the vote was 170-0 in Parliament, many of its 328 members, primarily Kurds and Sunnis, did not attend the session and did not vote, showing the division in Parliament on the demands to oust American troops. While groups that grew out of Shiite militia organizations have pushed hard for the expulsion, Sunni Muslim factions and the Kurds wanted the United States to stay.

The legislation threads a fine needle: While using strong language demanding that the government “end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil and prevent the use of Iraqi airspace, soil and water for any reason” by foreign forces, it gives no timetable for doing so.

It would end the mission approved in 2014 that gave the United States the explicit task of helping the Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State. That agreement gave the Americans substantial latitude to launch attacks and use Iraqi airspace. But the measure would leave in place the Strategic Framework Agreement, which allows an American troop presence in Iraq in some form.

ny times logoAmerican FlagNew York Times, U.S.-Led Coalition Halts ISIS Fight as It Steels for Iranian Attacks, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Jan. 5, 2020. The coalition is ending its yearslong mission attacking the Islamic State and training local forces in Iraq and Syria. American forces in Iraq and Syria will now focus on protecting themselves.

state dept map logo Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo dismisses Iraqi leader’s call for all foreign troops to leave, Felicia Sonmez, Paige Winfield Cunningham and Tony mike pompeo portraitRomm, Jan. 5, 2020.  “We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign,” the secretary of state said, two days after a U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian commander.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, on Sunday dismissed calls by Iraq’s caretaker prime minister for a timetable for all foreign troops to exit the country in the wake of a U.S. strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, arguing that the Iraqi people want the United States to remain and continue the fight against terrorism.

Pompeo appeared on all of the Sunday morning news shows to discuss U.S. strategy following the strike, which also killed eight others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a powerful Iraqi militia leader.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran says it is suspending all commitments to 2015 nuclear deal, Erin Cunningham​, Jan. 5, 2020.  Iran said Sunday that it is suspending all commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal it had struck with world powers and will abandon restrictions on uranium enrichment and other activities unless U.S. sanctions are lifted.

The government announced the move in a statement carried by state news agencies.

"Iran's nuclear program will now be based solely on its technical needs," the statement said. The move includes breaching the accord's caps on everything from enrichment capacity to activating centrifuges to its stockpile of nuclear fuel.

"If the sanctions are lifted … the Islamic Republic is ready to return to its obligations," the statement said. It added that Iran will continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.

Iran, meanwhile, said Sunday that it would limit its response to the drone attack to U.S. military targets.

"The response for sure will be military and against military sites," Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran's supreme leader, said in an interview with CNN. "The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they have inflicted."

Deghan’s remarks came as President Trump threatened Saturday on Twitter to strike “52 Iranian sites … some at a very high level & important to Iran and the Iranian culture” should Tehran retaliate against Americans or U.S. interests in the region. Iran has 24 locations on the U.N. list of cultural world heritage sites.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces Iran crisis with fewer experienced advisers and strained ties with U.S. allies, Greg Miller​, Jan. 5, 2020. The Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)president has spent much of his first three years in office attacking critical capabilities he now needs.

  • Washington Post, Pelosi says Trump notified Russians of Baghdadi raid before telling congressional leaders
  • Washington Post, In confrontation with Iran, Trump wrestles with shadow of Obama
  • Washington Post, The key word in U.S. justifications for killing Iranian general: ‘Imminent
  • Washington Post, Could the strike on an Iranian general trigger a draft? The Selective Service, explained

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why lying about an ‘imminent’ attack would matter,' Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 5, 2020. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and State Department subordinates vigorously argued Friday that the justification for killing Iranian general jennifer rubin new headshotand terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani was intelligence that an attack was “imminent.”

It is easy to understand why such a rationale would be advanced. An imminent threat would arguably obviate the need for a declaration of war from or even prior consultation with Congress. Exercising the right of self-defense, an established principle of international law, would satisfy allies and sidestep nasty questions about violation of an executive order in place with only minor changes since 1976 that prohibits assassination.

Aside from the legalities, as a political matter, polls have shown overwhelming opposition to a war with Iran. Casting the killing as defensive and urgent rather than an act of a war of choice would be one way to avert a public backlash. (If this reminds you of the Iraq War, you are in good company.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial, Congress, Stop President Trump’s Rush to War With Iran, Editorial Board, Jan. 5, 2020 (print ed.). Republican senators are the only people with the power to restrain the president. President Trump must doubt his administration’s own claims that it deterred Iranian threats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatens reprisals against Iran should U.S. assets or Americans be attacked, Mustafa Salim and Kareem Fahim, Jan. 5, 2020 (print ed.). After an Iranian commander suggested that dozens of U.S. sites in the Mideast were at risk following the American strike that donald trump twitterkilled a top Iranian general, President Trump tweeted that Iran would be “hit very fast and very hard” if it goes after U.S. targets.

“Iran has been nothing but a problem for many years,” Trump tweeted. “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”

Impeachment Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Graham suggests changing Senate rules to begin Trump impeachment trial within days, Rachael Bade, Jan. 5, 2020. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham’s bid, while unlikely, highlights the pressure Trump allies feel to begin the trial as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold the charges against the president.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham suggested Sunday that Republicans should try to change Senate rules governing impeachment if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold the charges against President Trump — an unlikely 11th-hour bid to begin a trial within days without the actual documents.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was unequivocal in a Senate floor speech on Friday that “we can’t hold a trial without the articles; the Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that.” But Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump, floated the idea of a unilateral GOP move, saying he would work with McConnell to allow the Senate to proceed without the two charges against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The suggestion, while unlikely due to the high threshold of votes required for changing Senate impeachment rules, underscores the pressure some Trump allies feel as the president stews over the impeachment delay.

After the House impeached Trump on Dec. 18, Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided to withhold the articles of impeachment to try to help Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in his negotiations with McConnell for witnesses the White House blocked from testifying in the House, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Former national security adviser John Bolton balked at cooperating in the House probe.

Jan. 4

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Headlines

 qassem soleimani exploded car Custom 2

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, With missile strike, Trump opts for escalation and a swing at a ‘hornets’ nest,’ Joby Warrick and William Branigin, Jan. 4, 2020 (print ed.). Trump administration officials described the fiery attack (with charred death car wreckage shown above) as a defensive measure intended to disrupt Iranian plans to kill U.S. diplomats or service members overseas.

But current and former U.S. officials said the United States almost certainly will face retaliatory strikes for the killing of Quds Force commander qasem soleimani with zolfaghar orderQasem Soleimani, right, as well as a heightened risk of a wider regional conflict, which U.S. administrations previously had sought to avoid.

washington post logoWashington Post, At Baghdad funeral procession for Qasem Soleimani, calls for retaliation against U.S., Mustafa Salim, Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck​, Jan. 4, 2020  Thousands joined the ceremonies on Saturday for Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia leader. “We will take our revenge,” some chanted.

Iran has vowed to retaliate against the United States for the killing of Soleimani, right,Tehran’s most powerful military commander, and the Trump administration has said it is sending thousands of new troops to the Middle East. The looming confrontation has left the region bracing for an escalation of violence, and Iraq, caught between its allies in Tehran and Washington, fears the country will be at the center of the storm.

An Iranian commander quoted by the Tasnim News Agency on Saturday suggested that dozens of American facilities and military assets in the Middle East were at risk, along with Israel, a key U.S. ally.

washington post logoWashington Post, Why Soleimani’s killing is different from other targeted attacks by U.S., Siobhán O'Grady, Jan. 4, 2020. After the killing of Soleimani, the United States could face direct Iranian reprisals, including potential cyberattacks, analysts said. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened “severe revenge” but gave no indication of what could come.

Iran FlagBarbara Slavin, the director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said Trump is “trying to do a victory lap here and beat his chest and somehow show this is like killing Baghdadi.” She was referring to the October raid on the hideout of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. “But it’s not. It’s much more serious,” she said.

Like Baghdadi’s, other targeted killings carried out by the United States have typically struck at extremist leaders without affiliations to a powerful state such as Iran.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tensions Abroad Stir a Whirlwind at Fort Bragg as Soldiers Deploy, Rick Rojas and Myah Ward, Jan. 4, 2020. Some 3,500 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division are bound for the Middle East, spelling uncertainty for families and a community where the base is its backbone.

  • New York Times, Iranians Close Ranks Behind Leaders After U.S. Kills Popular General, Staff report, For years, Iran has been a divided nation led by aged revolutionaries determined to impose their will on a predominantly young population. With the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, citizens have rallied behind their leaders, vowing revenge on the United States.
  • New York Times, Analysis: In Era of Perpetual Conflict, a Volatile President and Few Limits, Staff report, President Trump’s decision to authorize the attacks is the latest example of the capricious way in which he has chosen to flex his lethal powers.

Digital Journal, Iraqi parliament session could call for expulsion of US troops, Ken Hanly, Jan. 4, 2020. U.S. troops are operating in Iraq under a legal mandate granted by the government. However, the attack on the Baghdad Airport killed members of the approved paramilitary forces. The Iraqi military and others claim this action falls outside the mandate.

The Joint Operations Command claimed the attack was a clear violation of the US mandate and of Iraq's sovereignty:

“The Joint Operations Command mourns the hero martyr ... who was martyred last night in a cowardly and treacherous attack carried out by American aircraft near Baghdad international airport. We affirm that what happened is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a clear breach by the American forces of their mandate which is exclusively to fight Islamic State and provide advice and assistance to Iraqi security forces.”

The US mandate was centered almost exclusively on the US helping fight ISIS. Many Iraqi MPs suggest that as ISIS is mostly defeated the moqtada sadrUS should leave. After the Baghdad attack no doubt there will be even more pressure to eject US troops.

Hadi al-Amiri the head of the Badr Brigade and leader of the second largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament called on Iraqis to unite and expel the US and other foreign troops from Iraq. The even larger bloc leader Moqtada al-Sadr, left, has long pressed to the US troops to be expelled. Even though the two leaders often have different views on the issued of expulsion of US troops they are now united.

No doubt there will be motions for US and other foreign troops to be ejected from Iraq. These are likely to be supported. It remains to be seen if the US will pay any attention. There is no sign that the US has any sign of withdrawing.

Trump Impeachment djt lev parnas Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani associate can give investigators phone data, documents, judge says, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 4, 2020. An attorney for Lev Parnas (above at left) said he intends to provide Congress with materials relevant to its investigation of President Trump and his dealings with Ukraine.

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Friday that an indicted associate of President Trump's personal attorney can provide Congress with evidence in his criminal case that is of interest to impeachment investigators.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken granted an application from an attorney for Lev Parnas seeking permission to give lawmakers access to phone data and documents seized by federal prosecutors after his October arrest. The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed the materials as part of its impeachment inquiry, according to Parnas attorney Joseph Bondy.

The materials are expected to include documents taken from Parnas’s Florida home, along with a complete readout of his iPhone. Bondy has said there is relevant information contained in the materials, though he has not disclosed specifically what that might be.

• Washington Post, In clash with Trump administration, Democrats seek secret grand jury evidence, testimony from McGahn

Jan. 2

Trump Impeachment Trial

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Senate and the public need to hear from Mulvaney and Bolton, Editorial Board, Jan. 2, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, is withholding two articles of impeachment from the Senate, pending assurance that the Republican leader nancy pelosi impeachmentof that body, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), will agree to a full and fair trial of the House’s charges against President Trump.

Now fresh reporting from the New York Times has emerged to strengthen the Democrats’ minimum condition of a real trial: The Senate must seek witness testimony from key players in Mr. Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Ukraine into announcing an investigation of his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, using congressionally appropriated military aid and promises of a White House visit as leverage.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe Times reports, based in part on previously undisclosed emails, that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to freeze the military aid on Mr. Trump’s behalf as early as June, prompting puzzlement and backlash within the administration — to the extent that Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-national security adviser John Bolton convened a White House meeting with Mr. Trump to urge release of the aid.

More than ever, therefore, the Senate and the public need to hear from Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Bolton, the latter of whom made an unsuccessful individual plea to release the Ukraine aid on Aug. 16, according to the Times.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schumer seizes on report bolstering case that Trump was directly involved in withholding Ukraine aid, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez​,​ Jan. 2, 2019. Senate leaders remained at an impasse over the scope of an impeachment trial as President Trump’s reelection campaign claimed that backlash from the House proceedings helped him raise $46 million in the final quarter of 2019.

• Analysis: Unredacted emails raise questions in Ukraine scandal
• Analysis: 4 ways the the Pelosi-McConnell standoff could end

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign says $46 million fundraising quarter bolstered by impeachment, John Wagner​, Jan. 2, 2019. The president announced his total donations as a standoff continued between Democrats and Republicans over a Senate trial. President Trump’s reelection campaign said Thursday that backlash to his impeachment, led by House Democrats, helped him raise $46 million in the final three months of 2019.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThe fundraising announcement came as a standoff continued over the scope and timing of an impeachment trial in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has held off sending articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate as Democrats seek guarantees about witnesses and documents that will be subpoenaed regarding Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sorry, Trump. Most Americans don’t like you, Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 2, 2019. It is easy to overstate the support President Trump has for his policies and conspiracy theories. His approval remains in the low-40s, but the percentage of Americans who buy into his positions and assertions is remarkably small. Trump and Fox News have their true believers, but beyond that minority of the population, the large majority of Americans understand he often spews nonsense or out-and-out lies. And, to boot, they really do not like him.

Trump’s approval (40 percent vs. 52 percent) remains underwater, as does his reelection number against an unnamed Democrat (40 percent vs. 50 percent). His personal ratings are horrendous. (A remarkable 51 percent do not even want him to run for reelection.) Only 31 percent like him as a person (and 18 percent say they like him a lot) or say he is honest and trustworthy.

  • Washington Post, Biden falls behind other candidates in fourth-quarter fundraising, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Matt Viser​, Jan. 2, 2020. His fundraising total of $22.7 million in the last three months of 2019 came in well behind Bernie Sanders’s tally and narrowly behind Pete Buttigieg’s figure.

December

Dec. 31

djt lev parnas Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Lev Parnas has a New Year’s Eve surprise for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 31, 2019. Weeks ago it was reported that Lev Parnas (shown above at left in a mug shot) has turned over evidence in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal to the House Intelligence Committee.

Chairman Adam Schiff then confirmed that at least some evidence had indeed been turned over. But none of it ended up being used in House impeachment hearings, thus suggesting it wasn’t all that important. Now, however, that’s apparently about to change.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen federal prosecutors arrested Lev Parnas and executed related search warrants, they seized a whole bunch of his stuff. As per procedure, he’s scheduled to get that evidence back on Tuesday, so he can use it to mount his legal defense. Parnas is now asking the judge to allow him to immediately hand that evidence over to Congress – and prosecutors say they’re fine with it.

This means that all the Ukraine scandal evidence that prosecutors have against Lev Parnas, which prosecutors believe is enough to put Parnas in prison, is about to be in the hands of Adam Schiff. Talk about a New Year’s Eve surprise. This evidence presumably includes all of Lev’s electronic devices, including text messages, call logs, you name it.

If the evidence that Lev Parnas previously gave to the House wasn’t particularly usable, it was probably because the Feds were still sitting on Parnas’ communications devices. Now the House is about to gets its hands on more substantive evidence against Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Keep in mind that Nancy Pelosi still has yet to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. She has the option to hold more hearings and even bring additional articles of impeachment. Stay tuned.

  •  New York Times, Judge Orders Alex Jones and Infowars to Pay $100,000 in Sandy Hook Legal Fees
  •  New York Times, Judge Dismisses Lawsuit by Ex-Trump Aide Subpoenaed in Impeachment Inquiry

Dec. 29

Department of Injustice? djt william barr doj photo march 2019

Attorney General William Barr. Under him, the Justice Department has been notable for aiding conservative Christians.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell, Katherine Stewart (author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism) and Caroline Fredrickson (president emerita of the American Constitution Society and author of The Democracy Fix), Dec. 29, 2019.  And he’s on a mission to use the “authority” of the executive branch to stop it.

Why would a seemingly respectable, semiretired lion of the Washington establishment undermine the institutions he is sworn to uphold, incinerate his own reputation, and appear to willfully misrepresent the reports of special prosecutors and inspectors general, all to defend one of the most lawless and corrupt presidents in American history? And why has this particular attorney general appeared at this pivotal moment in our Republic?

A deeper understanding of William Barr is emerging, and it reveals something profound and disturbing about the evolution of conservatism in 21st-century America.

Some people have held that Mr. Barr is simply a partisan hack — willing to do whatever it takes to advance the interests of his own political party and its leadership. This view finds ample support in Mr. Barr’s own words. In a Nov. 15 speech at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention in Washington, he accused President Trump’s political opponents of “unprecedented abuse” and said they were “engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.”

Another view is that Mr. Barr is principally a defender of a certain interpretation of the Constitution that attributes maximum power to the executive. This view, too, finds ample support in Mr. Barr’s own words. In July, when President Trump claimed, in remarks to a conservative student group, “I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” it is reasonable to suppose this is his CliffsNotes version of Mr. Barr’s ideology.

Both of these views are accurate enough. But at least since Mr. Barr’s infamous speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School, in which he blamed “secularists” for “moral chaos” and “immense suffering, wreckage and misery,” it has become clear that no understanding of William Barr can be complete without taking into account his views on the role of religion in society. For that, it is illuminating to review how Mr. Barr has directed his Justice Department on matters concerning the First Amendment clause forbidding the establishment of a state religion.

In these and other cases, Mr. Barr has embraced wholesale the “religious liberty” rhetoric of today’s Christian nationalist movement. When religious nationalists invoke “religious freedom,” it is typically code for religious privilege. The freedom they have in mind is the freedom of people of certain conservative and authoritarian varieties of religion to discriminate against those of whom they disapprove or over whom they wish to exert power.

America’s conservative movement, having morphed into a religious nationalist movement, is on a collision course with the American constitutional system. Though conservatives have long claimed to be the true champions of the Constitution — remember all that chatter during previous Republican administrations about “originalism” and “judicial restraint” — the movement that now controls the Republican Party is committed to a suite of ideas that are fundamentally incompatible with the Constitution and the Republic that the founders created under its auspices.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Trump Is Sidelining Scientists and Their Work, Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport, Dec. 29, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration has diminished the role of science in policymaking while disrupting research projects nationwide. The effects of this Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)transformation of the federal government could be felt for years as hundreds of scientists depart and programs are curtailed.

In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

epa general logoPolitical appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Democratic rivals call for spending trillions more amid debate on what’s doable, Toluse Olorunnipa, Dec. 29, 2019. More-moderate Democrats have been the most vocal critics of their liberal colleagues’ spending plans, but even the most sparse of the proposals dwarfs what successful Democrats pushed before.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump started federal workers’ year with a shutdown. He ended it with their biggest raise in a decade, Lisa Rein, Dec. 29, 2019. In 2019, 2.1 million civil servants were whipsawed by a president who disparaged career officials who testified in the Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoimpeachment inquiry, FBI officials who handled the Russia probe — and even weather forecasters.

It ended on a high note, as the president signed off on 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents, a generous raise and a midweek vacation day before Christmas against the recommendation of his own staff — and as he issued an exuberant letter of thanks to “Our Incredible Federal Workforce.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Biggest 2020 Advertising War Against Trump, Jeremy W. Peters, Dec. 29, 2019. Michael Bloomberg’s michael bloomberg2presidential campaign wants to flood voters with attacks on President Trump before it is too late, a lesson Republican candidates learned in 2016.

Hillary Clinton tried. So did 16 rival Republicans. And after hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on ads attacking Donald Trump in 2016, the results were the same: They never did much damage.

Now Michael R. Bloomberg, right, is trying — his way — spending millions each week in an online advertising onslaught that is guided by polling and data that he and his advisers believe provide unique insight into the president’s vulnerabilities.

The effort, which is targeting seven battleground states where polls show Mr. Trump is likely to be competitive in November, is just one piece of an advertising campaign that is unrivaled in scope and scale. On Facebook and Google alone, where Mr. Bloomberg is most focused on attacking the president, he has spent $18 million on ads over the last month, according to Acronym, a digital messaging firm that works with Democrats.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s mass-retweet meltdown saga just took an even more jarring turn, Bill Palmer, Dec. 29, 2019. On Friday, Donald Trump posted a series of incredibly reckless retweets of obscure and suspicious Twitter accounts, including one which identified the donald trump twittersupposed name of the whistleblower – which was a felony. By Saturday, several of these retweets had disappeared. This led us and others to ask who within Trump’s team panicked and deleted these retweets.

Now we have the answer: no one. In a surprise turn of events, Twitter is telling CNN’s Brian Stelter that Donald Trump didn’t actually delete any of his retweets. Instead, a technical glitch caused Trump’s retweet, along with retweets from bill palmer report logo header“millions of other accounts,” to temporarily vanish. Now that the glitch has been resolved, Trump’s felonious tweet is once again visible.

This is nothing short of remarkable. For a brief moment there, it 100% appeared that Donald Trump or someone on his team had finally figured out that committing felonies on Twitter was a bad idea. Now it turns out that, predictably, no one in Trump’s orbit has that kind of self awareness. That’s fascinating, considering how many of Trump’s advisers have already been convicted of crimes and sent to prison for helping Trump commit felonies.

Dec. 28

Trump Impeachmentdjt nancy pelosi

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes full psycho stalker after Nancy Pelosi gets the best of him, Bill Palmer, Dec. 28, 2019. The more clear it becomes to Donald Trump that it’s all going wrong for him, the more erratic, incoherent, and disturbing his behavior is becoming. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has impeached him for his crimes, and now she’s working on making sure his Senate impeachment trial isn’t a sham. In response, Trump has gone completely overboard in his approach toward her.

donald trump twitterOn Friday night, Trump began retweeting various trash-filled Twitter accounts. One of them bizarrely claimed that “we have a rogue house with the speaker that’s caved and does what she’s told” – without bothering to spell out who’s supposedly controlling Speaker Pelosi. Trump then retweeted a loon who made up the laughable false claim that “Pelosi refuses to release the transcripts from Schiffty Schiffs Secret meetings that exonerate Trump.” But then came the real debacle.

bill palmer report logo headerAt the height of his Twitter meltdown, Donald Trump ended up retweeting a picture of what he claims is Nancy Pelosi’s home. This is something that anyone can probably Google, so it’s not as if he’s giving away a secret. But he knows his support base consists of unstable violent lunatics, one of whom has already mailed bombs to several Democratic politicians. Trump is trying to put Pelosi’s safety in danger, and he knows it.

Nancy Pelosi will be fine. She’s infinitely tougher than Donald Trump is. But this is the latest reminder that because Trump is losing his presidency, he’s also losing what’s left of his mind. The Senate has a deeper responsibility than ever to remove Trump from office, so prosecutors can get down to the business of indicting and arresting him for his crimes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump retweets — then deletes — a post naming the alleged whistleblower whose complaint led to impeachment, Colby Itkowitz​, Dec. 28, 2019. The whistleblower’s identity has been kept secret because of laws that exist to shield those who allege wrongdoing by the government. Advocates say this anonymity protects those who speak up from retaliation and encourages others to come forward.

President Trump retweeted and then deleted a post naming the alleged whistleblower who filed the complaint that became the catalyst for the congressional inquiry that resulted in his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

On Friday night, Trump shared a Twitter post from @surfermom77, who describes herself as “100% Trump supporter,” with his 68 million followers. That tweet prominently named the alleged whistleblower and suggested that he had committed perjury.

By Saturday morning, Trump’s retweet had been deleted.

For months, Trump has threatened to disclose the identity of the whistleblower, complaining that he should be able to face his accuser. In the past few days, he has inched closer to doing so. On Thursday night, the president retweeted a link to a Washington Examiner story that used the name.

The alleged whistleblower has also been named in other conservative media, including Breitbart News. He was named by a contributor on Fox News, and Donald Trump Jr. has tweeted the name.

The whistleblower’s identity has been kept secret because of whistleblower protection laws, which exist to shield those who come forward with allegations of wrongdoing by the government. Whistleblower advocates say this anonymity is important, because it protects those who speak up from retaliation and encourages others to come forward.

The Atlantic, Commentary: A Gangster in the White House, David Frum, Dec. 28, 2019. The president tweeted the name of the presumed whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal — demonstrating that he is unrepentant and determined to break the law again.

nancy pelosi impeachmentIn the meantime, though, the country is left once again with the problem of a president who refuses to obey the law.

Trump is organizing from the White House a conspiracy to revenge himself on the person who first alerted the country that Trump was extorting Ukraine to help his reelection: more lawbreaking to punish the revelation of past lawbreaking. Impeaching a president whose party holds a majority in the Senate obviously presents many grave practical difficulties. But Trump’s post-Christmas mania confirms House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prediction that Trump would impeach himself.

Dec. 26

Impeachment Litigation

 

Trump Watch (Details)

washington post logoWashington Post, How Ukraine put Trump and Biden on a collision course, Matt Viser, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker​, Dec. 26, 2019.  President Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call brought into fresh relief the lengths he would go to target Joe Biden, and it forced Biden to discuss a topic he wants to avoid. But the decisions to go after each other came long before.

douglas letter cspan Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, In court, he speaks for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ann E. Marimow, Dec. 26, 2019 (print ed.). Douglas Letter, a 40-year Justice Department lawyer (shown in a file photo), is at the center of pitched legal battles with the Trump administration.

Two of his cases were being heard on the same floor of the same Washington courthouse on the same afternoon. In one room, Letter tried to persuade a judge to force President Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify before Congress. During a short break, Letter hustled down the hallway to a second courtroom. There, his colleague insisted that former national security adviser John Bolton’s deputy must comply with a House subpoena to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

nancy pelosi djtThat fall day has come to represent a typical schedule for Letter, the genial, self-deprecating lead lawyer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). After a 40-year career at the Justice Department, defending policies of presidential administrations from both parties, Letter now speaks for the speaker in courtrooms throughout the country while advising House leaders on impeachment.

With his small team of lawyers, Letter is locked in pitched battles with the Trump administration, which has vowed to fight all congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony — and resisted cooperating with House impeachment proceedings. As general counsel to the House, Letter has a hand in an outsize number of fast-moving legal fights between U.S. House logoCongress and the president.

Letter is slated to represent the House at the Supreme Court, which will review two rare separation-of-powers cases over disclosure of Trump’s tax and financial records in March.

And in back-to-back hearings Jan. 3at the federal appeals court in Washington, Letter will explain why the judges should give the House access to secret evidence from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. His colleague, Megan Barbero, will then ask the court to uphold a ruling forcing McGahn to appear before a House committee despite White House efforts to block his testimony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell suddenly finds himself on thin ice, Robert Harrington, Dec. 26, 2019. The notion that Mitch mitch mcConnell o portraitMcConnell, right, can blithely ignore the need to call witnesses is absurd, and will become clearly more absurd as the moment of Donald Trump’s day of reckoning before the Senate approaches.

In the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson of 1868 (which was an election year impeachment, by the way), 41 witnesses were called. At the 1999 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton (where he was impeached on the 19th of December, just before Christmas, by the way), 3 witnesses were called, including Monica Lewinsky. To call zero witnesses will be quite a departure from a Republican set of talking points which includes loud, excoriating, hostile language at the smallest departure from impeachment precedent. A group that demanded strict adherence to established precedence bill palmer report logo headerand bellicose criticism of the process is going to have a hard time explaining why no witnesses have been called. It just might make their previous complaints appear partisan.

We have learned since the impeachment hearings that 90 minutes after Trump’s infamous but “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian president Voldomyr Zelensky, that a Trump appointed OMB official ordered the aid to Ukraine withheld and then said, effectively, to keep it quiet, and to only inform select officials at the Pentagon. The only rational explanation for this is the entity he intended to keep it quiet from was Congress. The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 expressly requires Congress be told about such actions – and they were not. In the final analysis, the executive branch was deliberately interfering with an edict from the legislative, and in order to find out why that witness needs to be called.

Failing to do so doesn’t mean another victory scored for yet another corrupt purpose, compliments of the McConnell Senate. Such a move will, beyond a doubt, come back later to bite them. If Trump is allowed to escape conviction he will continue to try to rig the 2020 election in his favor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I testified against Trump’s impeachment. But let’s not pretend it didn’t happen, Jonathan Turley (right, professor of jonathan turleypublic interest law at George Washington University), Dec. 26, 2019. Constitutional reality doesn’t rest on the House sending the articles over to the Senate.

Our Constitution contains several specific provisions addressing impeachment, but the two most critical (found in Article I, Sections 2 and 3) state that the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the Senate “shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” Those powers are meant to work in tandem, but the House’s “sole Power” to impeach isn’t dependent on the Senate’s “sole Power to try.” These are two distinct acts contained in two distinct powers left to two distinct houses of Congress.

Dec. 25

djt roger stone Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Merry Christmas, Donald Trump just threw Roger Stone under the bus, Bill Palmer, Dec. 25, 2019. Roger Stone has been convicted of seven felonies. He’s about to be sentenced to prison for a couple years, which he’ll have to serve in solitary confinement due to his status as a public figure. His life is effectively over, unless his oldest friend Donald Trump gives him the Christmas gift of a federal pardon.

bill palmer report logo headerBased on what Donald Trump just said, Roger Stone shouldn’t get his hopes up. Each time one of Trump’s henchmen has been brought to justice, Trump has made a consistent habit of distancing himself from them. Trump seems to think that if he downplays the role that the person played in his campaign or administration, it’ll make Trump look less guilty when the person goes to prison. In other words, Trump has no loyalty to these people at all. Yesterday, Trump inexplicably made a point of throwing Stone under the bus

ny times logolisa murkowski 2 blue dressd oNew York Times, G.O.P. Senator ‘Disturbed’ by McConnell’s ‘Total Coordination’ with White House, Zach Montague, Dec. 25, 2019. Lisa Murkowski revealed the first public qualms with Mitch McConnell’s impeachment strategy, a potentially significant crack in Republican unity.

Dec. 24

Evangelicals' Trump Dispute

 Impeachment Headlines

 Trump Watch (Details)

djt nancy pelosi

Palmer Report, Opinion: New court filing points to additional articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 24, 2019. As the House impeachment process was playing out, Palmer Report explained that Nancy Pelosi was holding all the cards. She could send the articles of impeachment to the Senate now, or sit on them. She could send the two articles of impeachment now, and after the Republican Senate marries itself to acquitting Trump, send more articles later.

bill palmer report logo headerThere’s a specific reason we predicted more articles of impeachment might be coming: Pelosi and the House Democrats have been fighting ongoing court battles over Trump’s tax returns, the Mueller grand jury materials, and don mcgahn hearing croppedDon McGahn’s testimony. (Former White House Counsel McGahn is shown at right in a file photo.)

Pelosi didn’t drop these court cases when she was done ratifying the two articles of impeachment. She’s still fighting them for a reason. Now a new court filing is explicitly spelling out that reason.

Lawyers for House Democrats are now arguing in court that they still want McGahn’s testimony because they could end up using it as the basis of additional articles of impeachment, beyond the two that they’ve already ratified. This doesn’t guarantee that more articles will end up happening. But it does spell out that House Democrats are indeed pursuing this additional evidence because they’re looking at the specific possibility of additional articles.

This makes things even more complicated for Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. Trump is pushing McConnell to hold a speedy sham trial and rubber-stamp acquittal. But that will require McConnell to make concessions to Pelosi just to get his hands on the two articles of impeachment. Now McConnell has to consider the scenario in which he acquits Trump now, and then in a few months he gets saddled with even more articles and has to hold another trial. The more McConnell has to guess about what Pelosi might do, the less likely McConnell is to guess correctly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at Pelosi, Democrats after exchanging holiday greetings with troops, Toluse Olorunnipa and John Wagner, Dec. 24, 2019. The president aired an array of grievances about the impeachment process, claiming that Democrats “had no evidence at all.”

djt impeached nydailynews cover dec.19 2019 CustomPresident Trump lashed out again Tuesday at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats involved in his impeachment after a teleconference in which he exchanged holiday greetings with members of the military stationed around the globe.

“She hates the Republican Party,” Trump said of Pelosi, predicting that she would lose her speakership. “She hates all of the people who voted for me and the Republican Party. … She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country.”

Speaking to reporters who had just witnessed his teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump aired an array of grievances about the impeachment process, claiming that Democrats “had no evidence at all” about misconduct in his dealings with Ukraine and that he is “in a very good position” as he faces a trial in the Senate.

His comments come amid a standoff regarding the timing and scope of a Senate trial. Pelosi has declined to send the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate yet as Democrats demand more information about the parameters of a trial.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has requested subpoenas for several witnesses and documents that were not part of the House impeachment inquiry because of stonewalling by the White House.

donald trump twitter“Now they come to the Senate and they want everything,” Trump said, repeating claims that he did not receive “due process” in the House proceedings. Trump was invited to participate in the Judiciary Committee hearings that preceded his impeachment but refused to do so. He was impeached for obstruction of Congress after blocking several witnesses from his administration from providing documents and testimony sought by House Democrats.

Trump also again took aim Tuesday at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a key player in gathering evidence, calling him “a sick, corrupt politician.”

Democrats responded to Trump’s attacks by noting how they were out of sync with the holiday spirit.

“It’s Christmas Eve. Get. A. Life,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) tweeted to Trump in response to the president’s claim that Pelosi “knows nothing” about the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that was recently passed by the House.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Trump Impeachment Trial in Limbo, Schumer Demands Emails and Documents, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Dec. 24, 2019 (print ed.). Senator Chuck Schumer sent a letter to colleagues asking them to subpoena internal emails and other records for President Trump’s impeachment trial.

chuck schumer podiumWith Republicans resisting witness testimony, Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, shifted his focus on Monday from witnesses to documents that he wants subpoenaed for President Trump’s impeachment trial.

In a letter to his Senate colleagues, Mr. Schumer laid out a long list of records that Democrats would like to see, including internal emails and documents from the White House, State Department and the Office of Management and Budget relating to the president’s effort to press Ukraine’s leader to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

The New York Democrat was trying to increase pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, to negotiate over the president’s trial on charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House voted last week to impeach Mr. Trump in connection with the Ukraine matter.

But Mr. McConnell, who has said he is “taking my cues” from the White House in shaping the trial, is not likely to agree to the demand. He already has rejected Mr. Schumer’s request for testimony from four White House officials — including John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

“Relevant documentary evidence currently in the possession of the Administration will augment the existing evidentiary record and will allow Senators to reach judgments informed by all of the available facts,” Mr. Schumer wrote. “To oppose the admission of this evidence would be to turn a willfully blind eye to the facts, and would clearly be at odds with the obligation of Senators to ‘do impartial justice’ according to the oath we will all take in the impeachment trial.”

Mr. Schumer’s letter comes on the heels of newly released emails showing that the White House asked officials to keep quiet over the suspension of military aid to Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Is Nancy Pelosi Caught in a Trap or Setting One? Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, Dec. 24, 2019. Even if the outcome of a Senate trial is predictable, the political consequences of impeachment are not.

Evangelicals' Trump Dispute (Details)

washington post logoWashington Post, Editor exits Christian Post amid plans for pro-Trump editorial slamming Christianity Today, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Dec. 24, 2019 (print ed.)​. Politics editor Napp Nazworth has been critical of President Trump and suggested leaders who supported him have “traded their moral authority.”

The decision by Christianity Today to publish an editorial describing President Trump as “immoral” and calling for his removal drew immediate rebuke from the president himself, who called the outlet “a far left magazine.” The piece drew nearly 3 million unique visitors to the magazine’s website and became the talk of TV news shows over the weekend.

At the same time, the longtime centrist-right evangelical magazine saw a rush of canceled subscriptions — and an even greater wave of new subscribers, magazine President Timothy Dalrymple said. Both he and the author of the editorial, retiring editor in chief Mark Galli, could also face personal and professional consequences, according to interviews with several other conservative Christian leaders and writers who in the past have spoken out critically about Trump.

They described losing book sales, conference attendees, donors, church members and relationships.

Journalist Napp Nazworth, who has worked for the Christian Post website since 2011, said he quit his job Monday because the website was planning to publish a pro-Trump editorial that would slam Christianity Today. Nazworth, who sits on the editorial board as politics editor, said the website has sought to represent both sides and published both pro- and anti-Trump stories.

“I never got the gist they were gung-ho Trumpian types,” Nazworth said. “Everything has escalated with the Christianity Today editorial.”

Nazworth, who has been critical of Trump and suggested leaders who supported him have “traded their moral authority,” said he doesn’t know what he will do next.

“I said, if you post this, you’re saying, you’re now on team Trump,” he said. He said he was told that’s what the news outlet wanted to do.

Since the editorial, many Trump supporters have decried Christianity Today as irrelevant and even “elite.” On Sunday, 200 evangelical leaders and other Trump supporters issued a letter slamming the publication. It was signed by many on the president’s evangelical advisory committee, pastors of Pentecostal and Southern Baptist churches, and Christian musicians such as Brian and Jenn Johnson and Michael Tait. Other evangelical leaders published a letter in support of the magazine on Tuesday.

Dalrymple said Monday that the magazine has lost 2,000 subscriptions but gained 5,000, with the latter coming from a younger, more diverse and more global audience.

Christian Post, Opinion: Christianity Today and the problem with 'Christian Elitism,' John Grano and Richard Land (Senior Managing Editor of The Christian Post and Executive Editor, respectively, Dec. 24, 2019. Christianity Today editor Mark Galli’s “lofty” op-ed last week calling for President Trump’s removal from office touched off a firestorm of criticism and dissent from scores of evangelical leaders, and the backlash and debate have reached “critical mass” since its publication. Meanwhile, secular media immediately seized upon the CT editorial to argue that evangelical support for the president was finally crumbling under the weight of impeachment by the House of Representatives.

After all, when Christianity Today, the “flagship” magazine of evangelicals, founded by Billy Graham himself, turns against the president, then the long hoped for evangelical exodus from Trump must surely have finally commenced.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, as made clear by the Graham family itself. The great evangelist’s son, Franklin, divulged that his father “knew Donald Trump, believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump.” He then went on to say that his father “believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation.”

Additionally, almost 200 evangelical leaders signed a joint letter opposing the CT editorial and asserting that CT itself is a shell of its former self and that CT speaks to, and for, fewer evangelicals with each passing year.

What was the spirit animating CT editor Galli’s “thunderbolt” from on high? The answer is likely found in the self-appointed Mount Olympus from which Mr. Galli made his “moral” pronouncement. After Trump’s election, Mr. Galli bluntly confessed:

“I know hardly anyone, let alone any evangelical Christian who voted for Trump. I describe evangelicals like me as ‘elite’ evangelicals … and this class of evangelicals has discovered that we have family members so different they seem like aliens in our midst. These other evangelicals often haven’t finished college, and if they have jobs (and apparently a lot of them don’t), they are blue-collar jobs or entry-level work. They don’t write books or give speeches; they don’t attend conferences of evangelicals for social justice or evangelicals for immigration reform. They are deeply suspicious of mainstream media. A lot of them voted for Donald Trump.”

These words are chillingly similar to former President Barack Obama’s description of rural voters who “cling to their guns and Bibles,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s characterization of Trump supporters as “deplorables,” and most recently, Beto O’Rourke’s smug threats against biblically orthodox churches and citizens who own a certain type of rifle. These are the words of elitists who look down upon opponents as inferior human beings who need to be controlled, not debated.

That is the toxic emotional and spiritual stew in which the attitude animating Galli’s editorial festered into life.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s attacks on wind turbines, low-flow toilets and LED lightbulbs set up key campaign clash with Democrats, Toluse Olorunnipa and Juliet Eilperin​, Dec. 24, 2019 (print ed.). The president is betting that his pitch to a bygone era will sway voters turned off by calls for a Green New Deal.

 ny times logoNew York Times, A Trump Policy ‘Clarification’ Removed Protections for Birds, Lisa Friedman, Dec. 24, 2019. In one of its first environmental acts, the Trump administration absolved businesses from responsibility for "incidental" bird deaths. Avian carnage followed.

  • New York Times, Here’s a list of 95 environmental regulations being rolled back under the Trump administration.

Dec. 23

Impeachment Headlines

 

Trump Watch (Details)

Palmer Report, Donald Trump hits the panic button after second major evangelical publication calls for him to be removed from office, Bill Palmer, Dec. 23, 2019. When major evangelical publication Christianity Today called for Donald Trump’s removal from office on moral grounds this week, the question was whether this would be an isolated one-off blip, or the start of a trend. Now we’re starting to get our answer, and we’re also getting a sign of just how much of a problem the Trump regime thinks this is.

bill palmer report logo headerOver the weekend a second major evangelical publication, Christian Post, ran an op-ed with this headline: “Convict Trump: The Constitution is more important than abortion.” Just to leave no doubt whatsoever about what position it was taking, the op-ed opened with this sentence: “Christians should advocate for President Donald J. Trump’s conviction and removal from office by the Senate.”

These kinds of op-eds, on their own, are unlikely to turn the majority of evangelical voters against Trump. But even if these articles only end up causing Trump’s 2020 vote totals with evangelicals to drop a few percentage points, that could be enough to cost him the election, considering how thoroughly he relied on the evangelical vote in 2016. Trump knows he’s in trouble, too.

The Trump regime just announced an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally in Miami on January 3rd, according to a CBS affiliate. This event is being scheduled during Trump’s do-nothing holiday vacation in Florida, which is an indicator that Trump and his handlers don’t think they can afford to wait until after vacation is over to start trying to salvage the evangelical vote. Trump has a real problem here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: McConnell chides Pelosi for not sending articles of impeachment to Senate, John Wagner​, Dec. 23, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of trying to tell his chamber how to run a trial.

mitch mcConnell o portraitBoth sides dug in Monday in the impasse over a Senate trial of President Trump, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, chiding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) for the delay in transmitting articles of impeachment, a position he called “absurd.”

Pelosi, meanwhile, insisted that before moving forward Democrats need to know “what sort of trial the Senate will conduct.” Democrats are seeking to use newly released emails showing that the White House put a hold on military aid to Ukraine less than two hours after Trump’s July call with the country’s leader to bolster their case that a Senate trial should include witnesses.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutor Surprises Even Allies With Statement on F.B.I.’s Trump Case, Elizabeth Williamson, Dec. 23, 2019. John Durham, the federal prosecutor investigating the origins of the Russia inquiry, has a reputation for keeping his mouth shut. At a sensitive moment, he didn’t.

Whether investigating charges of torture by the C.I.A., rolling up an organized crime network or prosecuting crooked government officials, John H. Durham, the veteran federal prosecutor named by Attorney General William P. Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia inquiry, burnished his reputation for impartiality over the years by keeping his mouth closed about his work.

At the height of the Boston mob prosecution that made his name, he not only rebuffed a local newspaper’s interview request, but he also told his office not to release his résumé or photo.

john durham CustomThat wall of silence cracked this month when Mr. Durham, left, serving in the most politically charged role of his career, released an extraordinary statement questioning one key element of an overlapping investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz.

Mr. Horowitz had found that the F.B.I. acted appropriately in opening the inquiry in 2016 into whether the Trump campaign wittingly or unwittingly helped Russia influence the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor. In response, Mr. Durham, whose report is not expected to be complete for months, released a caveat-laden rebuttal: “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.”

The statement seemed to support comments made half an hour earlier by Mr. Barr, who assailed what he called “an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign,” based “on the thinnest of suspicions.” Mr. Durham’s decision to go public in such a politically polarized environment surprised people who have worked with him. They found it out of character for him to intervene in such a high-profile way in an open case.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani gives completely unhinged new interview, has his fly down, starts drooling on his sweater, Bill Palmer, Dec. 23, 2019. The closer Rudy Giuliani comes to his arrest, the more he falls apart. He’s had incoherent meltdowns on television where he’s resorted to yelling “shut up idiot” at people. He’s tweeted things that read like they were copy-pasted from the Unabomber manifesto. But a newly published interview with New York Magazine might represent Rudy’s lowest point yet.

bill palmer report logo headerRudy met with New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi in an apparent attempt at taking control of the media narrative about his downfall. Rudy will certainly get some attention for this interview, but not the kind he’s looking for. For instance, Nuzzi writes that Rudy showed up to the interview with “the fly of the pants unzipped” and at one point he started drooling: “When his mouth closed, saliva leaked from the corner and crawled down his face through the valley of a wrinkle. He didn’t notice, and it fell onto his sweater.”

The words that ended up coming out of Rudy’s mouth during this interview are even more disconcerting. He proclaimed that the Feds at the SDNY are “assholes” for criminally investigating him. He claimed that George Soros paid the FBI to do something to him. Rudy then made the bizarre and offensive assertion that “I’m more of a Jew than Soros is.”

At various points during the interview, Rudy Giuliani accidentally activated Siri on one of his three phones, and then ended up leaving another of his phones in the back of a car. Rudy was also apparently singing opera at one point. We double checked to make sure this interview wasn’t satire, but it turns out the whole thing really did happen.

New York Daily News, Rudy Giuliani rails against ‘a--hole’ New York prosecutors in belligerent, alcohol-fueled interview, Chris Sommerfeldt, Dec. 23, 2019. In an unhinged, alcohol-fueled interview published Monday, Rudy Giuliani railed against “a--hole” prosecutors in New York, claimed he’s “more of a Jew” than George Soros, spun outrageous conspiracy theories about Ukraine, fell into a wall and forgot to zip his fly.

The man formerly known as “America’s mayor” gave the unglued interview to New York Magazine on Dec. 8 over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Advertisement

Giuliani had just returned from Ukraine, where he had continued hunting for dirt on President Trump’s political opponents despite the fast-moving impeachment proceedings.

He unleashed a torrent of insults against the federal prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan over revelations that they are investigating him as part of a criminal probe that involves his two Ukrainian dirt-digging pals, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas.

"If they’re investigating me, they’re a--holes. They’re absolutely a--holes if they’re investigating me,” he said. “They’re idiots.”
[More Politics] Trump admits he hasn’t yet gotten Melania a Christmas gift in holiday call with troops before lashing out at Democrats »

Giuliani — who used to run the U.S. attorney’s office in the 1980s — added, “I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I know how not to commit crimes.”

The ex-mayor also took aim at Soros, the Democratic Party mega-donor and Holocaust survivor who’s a frequent target of anti-Semitic right-wing conspiracy theories.

He claimed Soros “controlled” former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post by Trump in April after Giuliani launched a smear campaign against her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: McConnell has less power to shape the impeachment trial than Democrats think, David Super (professor of law at Georgetown University), Dec. 23, 2019.  This debate is remarkable because McConnell is unlikely to be making the key decisions about the shape of a Senate trial. The contours of the trial will be set by rules dating to the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, in 1868.

Those rules leave answers to such questions as whether witnesses will appear, and when the trial may be adjourned, to the chief justice of the United States, John G. Roberts Jr., who — as set forward in the Constitution — presides over the proceedings. By comparison, Schumer and McConnell are bit players.

  • Washington Post, How a Putin ally is aiding Giuliani in Ukraine, Editorial Board, Dec. 23, 2019.
  • New York Times, Opinion: What the Senate Does Now Will Cast a Long Shadow, Patrick Leahy, Dec. 23, 2019. Mitch McConnell and the other 99 senators must serve the institution and the Constitution that established it, not President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impasse over parameters of Senate trial is likely to last for weeks as both sides dig in, John Wagner and Paul Kane​, Dec. 23, 2019. Democrats demanded documents and witnesses while Republicans mocked the House’s delay in transmitting the impeachment articles across the Capitol.

• Analysis: New emails help peel back layers of pressure around Trump-Zelensky call

Dec. 22

U.S. Justice System

washington post logoWashington Post, Court system will feel Trump’s influence for decades to come, Colby Itkowitz​, Dec. 22, 2019 (print ed.). After three years in office, President Trump has remade the federal judiciary, ensuring a conservative tilt for decades and cementing his legacy no matter the outcome of November’s election.

Trump nominees make up 1 in 4 U.S. circuit court judges. Two of his picks sit on the Supreme Court. And this past week, as the House voted to impeach the president, the Republican-led Senate confirmed an additional 13 district court judges.

In total, Trump has installed 187 judges to the federal bench.

Trump’s mark on the judiciary is already having far-reaching effects on legislation and liberal priorities. Just last week, the 5th Circuit struck down a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. One of the two appellate judges who ruled against the landmark law was a Trump appointee.

The Supreme Court — where two of the nine justices are conservatives selected by Trump — could eventually hear that case.

Dec. 21

Impeachment Headlines djt handwave file

 

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s trademark vindictiveness spares no one — living or dead, Ashley Parker, Dec. 21, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s barbs underscore the mean streak that is central to his brand and cast doubt on claims from his aides that Trump is merely a counterpuncher. Midway through his rally in Battle Creek, Mich., this week, President Trump’s trademark vindictiveness bumped up against the limits of decency as he began to disparage a dead man.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Turning his attention to Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), the widow of former congressman John Dingell, left, the president suggested that rather than looking down from heaven, as Debbie had previously told him, perhaps John was “looking up” from hell.

john dingell headshotThe crowd murmured, the crowd grimaced, the crowd groaned. There were cheers and applause, too, but the pockets of hesitation from some of his most loyal supporters underscored a striking note of discomfort with the president’s mean streak.

Trump backtracked slightly, saying, “Let’s assume he’s looking down.”

Over the past dozen days or so, the president has spewed forth an advent calendar’s worth of cruelty — new barbs popping out almost daily, like so many tiny bitter chocolates — underscoring the instinctual nastiness that is central to his brand and casting doubt on claims from his aides that Trump is merely a counterpuncher.

In addition to taunting John Dingell as his widow prepared for her first holiday season without her husband of 38 years, Trump also ridiculed everyone from greta thunberg charles lindbergh time coversclimate activist Greta Thunberg (shown at right with the late aviator Charles Lindbergh as Time Magazine "Persons of the Year") to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.)

Others in his orbit exhibited similar callousness this week. Sarah Sanders, the former White House press secretary, came under near-universal condemnation Thursday night after sending a tweet that mocked former vice president Joe Biden’s stutter, after he brought it up during a Democratic primary debate. She later deleted, and apologized for, her tweet.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rages at Christian magazine that called him ‘grossly immoral,’ but still finds evangelical support, Josh Dawsey and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Dec. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Beneath the president’s outbursts lies a fear that he could lose some evangelical supporters ahead of the 2020 election.

President Trump, whose reelection campaign is counting on unstinting support from white evangelicals, mounted a fierce attack Friday against a prominent Christian magazine that harshly criticized his behavior, repudiated his actions toward Ukraine and said he should be removed from office.

billy graham april 1 1966 us news world report lib o congressTrump’s evangelical supporters rushed to defend him, attempting to portray Christianity Today, which was founded by late famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham (shown in 1966 at right), as an outlier and not representative of the voters that comprise their movement.

But the magazine’s unsparing Thursday editorial, which said Trump has a “grossly immoral character” and should be removed out of “loyalty to the creator of the Ten Commandments,” clearly rattled the White House and the evangelical leaders who have tied themselves closely to the president.

Beneath the president’s angry outbursts lies a fear that, ahead of the 2020 election, Trump could lose some evangelical supporters, who as a group have remained durably bonded to him despite his payments to an adult-film star after allegations of an affair; attacks on war heroes, congressional widows and a teenage climate activist; boasts of sexual assault caught on tape; and the regular use of profanity at rallies from behind the presidential lectern.

  • New York Times, Evangelical Leaders Close Ranks With Trump After Scathing Editorial, Christianity Today’s call for the president’s removal gave voice to his evangelical critics. But they remain a minority in a movement that Mr. Trump has reshaped.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Billy Graham’s grandkids come out swinging at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 21, 2019. On Thursday, leading evangelical publication Christianity Today – originally founded by the late Billy Graham – published an op-ed calling for Donald Trump to be removed from office on moral grounds. On Friday, Trump erupted with anger at the publication, falsely accusing it of being a liberal outlet, and getting its name wrong. Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham then attacked Christianity Today, and made the dubious claim that Billy Graham voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

bill palmer report logo headerBut now two of Billy Graham’s family members are praising Christianity Today for standing up to Donald Trump. Graham’s granddaughter Jerushah Duford appeared on CNN and said this: “My grandfather always said courage is contagious. My hope is that an article like this will be a first step for people to actually stand up.”

Billy Graham’s grandson Boz Tchividjian said this: “A heavy hearted bravo to CT! Well said on so many levels. I believe my grandfather would have had a similar perspective. Thank you.”

Meanwhile Donald Trump is foundering in his attempts at addressing the controversy. In a Twitter meltdown he appeared to accuse Christianity Today of being run by socialists or communists. He also inexplicably referred to the publication as “ET” – setting off endless memes about Entertainment Tonight and ET the Extra Terrestrial.

jeff flake owashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The president is on trial. So are my Senate Republican colleagues, Jeff Flake, right, Dec. 21, 2019 (print ed.).

 To my former Senate Republican colleagues, I don’t envy you.

It might not be fair, but none of the successes, achievements and triumphs you’ve had in public office — whatever bills you’ve passed, hearings you’ve chaired, constituents you have had the privilege of helping — will matter more than your actions in the coming months.

President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong.

We are conservatives. The political impulses that compelled us all to enter public life were defined by sturdy pillars anchored deep in the American story. Chief among these is a realistic view of power and of human nature, and a corresponding and healthy mistrust of concentrated and impervious executive power. Mindful of the base human instincts that we all possess, the founders of our constitutional system designed its very architecture to curb excesses of power.

Those curbs are especially important when the power is wielded by a president who denies reality itself and calls his behavior not what it is, but “perfect.”

The willingness of House Republicans to bend to the president’s will by attempting to shift blame with the promotion of bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories has been an appalling spectacle. It will have long-term ramifications for the country and the party, to say nothing of individual reputations.

Nearly all of you condemned the president’s behavior during the 2016 campaign. Nearly all of you refused to campaign with him. You knew then that doing so would be wrong — would be a stain on your reputation and the standing of the Republican Party, and would do lasting damage to the conservative cause.

Ask yourself today: Has the president changed his behavior? Has he grown in office? Has the mantle of the presidency altered his conduct? The answer is obvious. In fact, if the president’s political rally in Michigan on Wednesday is any measure, his language has only become more vulgar, his performance cruder, his behavior more boorish and unstable.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House threatened to veto spending bill over Ukraine payments, Erica Werner, Dec. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Language in the legislation would have required the prompt release of future military aid. A veto could have led to a government shutdown on Saturday.

Senior Trump administration officials in recent days threatened a presidential veto that could have led to a government shutdown if House Democrats refused us senate logoto drop language requiring prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine, according to five administration and congressional officials.

The language was ultimately left out of mammoth year-end spending legislation that passed the House and Senate this week ahead of a Saturday shutdown deadline. The White House said President Trump signed the $1.4 trillion package Friday night.

The Ukraine provision was one of several items the White House drew a hard line on during negotiations to finalize the spending legislation, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the developments. It would have required the White House to swiftly release $250 million in defense money for Ukraine that was part of the spending package.

Impeachment

Palmer Report, Here’s what really happens next with the Senate impeachment trial, Bill Palmer, Dec. 21, 2019. Nancy Pelosi holds all the cards on impeachment, as she keeps reminding us. But no one in politics ever has a magic wand or gets 100% of their way, so even she can’t force Mitch McConnell to hold a perfectly fair Senate impeachment trial. She’ll get as many trial concessions from him as possible, and then at some unknown point she’ll turn over the articles to him.

bill palmer report logo headerAt this point most of the mainstream media will act shocked that Pelosi got anything at all from McConnell, because they’re still pushing the ratings-friendly false narrative that the Democrats are going to lose on impeachment at every turn. The foot-stompers of the left don’t understand “what’s possible” or “what winning looks like.” So they’ll be pissed at Pelosi when she eventually turns over the articles of impeachment and she only gets major concessions, instead of magically getting 100% of what she’d like. At this point most liberal pundits will pander to this sentiment by insisting that Pelosi “inexplicably caved” like the “democrats always do.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Trump’s conversations with Putin overlapped with his emerging Ukraine conspiracy theories, Philip Bump, Dec. 21, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump had been publicly questioning Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee for months by the time he took office.

One former official in President Trump’s administration was explicit when speaking with The Washington Post’s Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig.

vladimir putin o wAsked why he believed Ukraine was the country responsible for interfering in the 2016 election, the official said that Trump answered directly: “Putin told me” — referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, right.

It’s not clear when that is alleged to have happened, precisely. Trump had been publicly questioning Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee for months by the time he was president, claiming on multiple occasions that perhaps it was another country that had access the DNC’s network early in 2016. Maybe, he said in a general-election debate, it was China or “lots of other people” who hacked the DNC.

Palmer Report, We told you Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal was going to get a lot worse before his impeachment trial, Bill Palmer, Dec. 21, 2019.  Donald Trump is pressuring Mitch McConnell to hold a swift Senate impeachment trial and acquittal. Nancy Pelosi is waiting to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until McConnell makes some concessions toward having a fair trial (or at least one that includes some witnesses against Trump). Even as this chess match plays out, there’s another angle to all of this as well – and it just came into play.

bill palmer report logo headerThe House impeachment hearings brought as much dirt to the surface as possible in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal. But before the House hearings, the media had already dug up a bunch of dirt in the scandal. While the hearings were going on, the media found even more dirt. It was a given that after the House hearings ended, the media would uncover even more dirt. Sure enough it’s already happening.

Public Integrity has just gotten its hands on documents showing that immediately after Donald Trump’s infamous phone call with the President of Ukraine, the Trump regime began illegally freezing U.S. military aid to Ukraine. The documents further prove that it wasn’t mere coincidence, and that there was a conspiracy to keep the whole thing under wraps.

But the House impeachment hearings are already over, you say. Isn’t this bad timing? No, it’s perfect. The two articles of impeachment are broad enough to stand on their own, even as more details of the criminal plot emerge. The articles don’t need to be revisited or revised. This new dirt does, however, make these articles of impeachment more powerful. The more dirt the average American hears from the media about the Ukraine scandal in the coming weeks, the more likely that person is to 1) support impeachment and removal, and 2) want a fair Senate impeachment trial that isn’t merely a sham acquittal.

Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans understand this. They’ll be watching the dirt on Donald Trump get worse and worse in the coming weeks, and they’ll see more Americans in the middle start to side with impeachment and removal. The more time that elapses between now and the start of the trial, the harder it’ll be for Senate Republicans to rubber-stamp Trump’s acquittal without putting their own Senate majority at risk in 2020. And if they do acquit him and then even more dirt surfaces, they’ll be punished in 2020 for having acquitted a guy who then turned out to be maniacally guilty.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Braces for North Korean Missile Test as Trump’s Diplomacy Fizzles, David E. Sanger, Edward Wong and Michael Crowley, Dec. 21, 2019.  Amid a diplomatic vacuum, North Korea has bolstered its arsenal of missiles and its stockpile of bomb-ready nuclear material. If the test goes ahead, it would be a glaring setback for President Trump’s boldest foreign policy initiative, even as he faces an impeachment trial at home.

North Korean flagAmerican military and intelligence officials tracking North Korea’s actions by the hour say they are bracing for an imminent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching American shores, but appear resigned to the fact that President Trump has no good options to stop it.

If the North goes ahead with the test in the coming days — Pyongyang promised a “Christmas gift” if no progress had been made on lifting sanctions — it would be a glaring setback for Mr. Trump’s boldest foreign policy initiative, even as he faces an impeachment trial at home.

American officials are playing down the missile threat, though similar tests two years ago prompted Mr. Trump to suggest that “fire and fury,” and perhaps a war, could result.

Mr. Trump often cites the suspension of long-range missile and underground nuclear tests for the past two years as evidence that his leader-to-leader diplomacy with the North was working — and that such negotiating skills would persuade the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to give up his arsenal.

Dec. 20

Impeachment Headlines djt handwave file

 

Impeachment News Noted Above  

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats can prevent a sham trial in the Senate if they hang tough, Max Boot, Dec. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had a plan to quickly dispose of the articles of impeachment just approved by the House: He would hold a two-week sham trial without any witnesses, and then the Senate Republican majority would acquit President Trump, despite the overwhelming weight of evidence showing that he is guilty as charged of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), acting on an idea suggested by Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe in a Post op-ed, has thrown a spanner into the works by refusing to appoint impeachment managers until there is some guarantee of a fair trial in the Senate. On Thursday, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested that Democrats were willing to wait “as long as it takes” before sending over the articles of impeachment. “It looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet,” McConnell shot back on Thursday. To the contrary, the prosecutors are getting smart: They realize there is no need to play a rigged game.

  • Washington Post, Influential evangelical magazine Christianity Today: Trump should be removed from office

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Determining what makes a ‘fair’ Senate trial, Amber Phillips, Dec. 20, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats are considering holding back articles of impeachment to try to get this. But will it work?

Minutes after one impeachment brawl concluded with the official impeachment of President Trump, House Democrats jumped into another: They are considering pressuring Senate Republicans to hold a fair Senate trial by detaining the articles of impeachment.

The question is: What constitutes a fair trial?

If all goes as House Democrats would like, that question could exploit a rift between Senate Republican leaders and Trump on how to handle the next phase of this process.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s impeachment provokes a descent into demagoguery, Dana Milbank, Dec. 20, 2019 (print ed.). It was 9:05 Wednesday night. Seven minutes earlier, President Trump received word, in the middle of a campaign speech, that he had been impeached by the House on the second of two articles. And how did he observe this somber moment?

john dingell headshotHe mocked the widow of the longest-serving House member in history.

“Dingell! Dingell! … Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump told a crowd in Michigan, the home state of Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell and the husband she succeeded, John Dingell, left. He ridiculed the gratitude she showed Trump for her husband’s funeral honors this year. Then he speculated that John Dingell might now be “looking up” from hell. The crowd cheered.

What is wrong with this man?

washington post logoWashington Post, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, says Trump ‘should be removed from office,’ Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Kayla Epstein, Dec. 20, 2019. The evangelical magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham published a surprising editorial Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal. The magazine, Christianity Today, has been critical of Trump but not politically outspoken during his administration.

The editorial, which appeared to draw so many readers that the magazine’s website crashed briefly, was written by editor in chief Mark Galli, who called Trump “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

“Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election — that is a matter of prudential judgment,” the editorial said. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”

Galli, who will retire from the magazine Jan. 3, wrote that the facts leading to Wednesday’s impeachment of Trump are unambiguous. But the editorial didn’t just call out Trump. It called out his devout Christian supporters.

[Trump’s hell suggestion outraged some faith leaders, but his evangelical advisers are still defending him]

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve,” Galli wrote. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and donald trump twitterSavior.”

Trump lashed out at the magazine in a pair of early-morning tweets Friday, calling Christianity Today a “far left magazine ... which has been doing poorly.”

Graham had close friendships with several presidents before he died in 2018, but said late in his life that he wished he had distanced himself more politically. Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, has been a highly vocal supporter of Trump and prayed at his inauguration. In an interview, Franklin Graham, who is not involved with Christianity Today, said his father would have been disappointed by the magazine’s stance because he said his father liked Trump and that they were friends.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani gives completely unhinged new interview, has his fly down, starts drooling on his sweater, Bill Palmer, rudy giuliani recentDec. 23, 2019. The closer Rudy Giuliani comes to his arrest, the more he falls apart. He’s had incoherent meltdowns on television where he’s resorted to yelling “shut up idiot” at people. He’s tweeted things that read like they were copy-pasted from the Unabomber manifesto. But a newly published interview with New York Magazine might represent Rudy’s lowest point yet.

Rudy, shown at right in a file photo, met with New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi in an apparent attempt at taking control of the media narrative about his downfall. Rudy will certainly get some attention for this interview, but not the kind he’s looking for. For instance, Nuzzi writes that Rudy showed up to the interview with “the fly of the pants unzipped” and at one point he started drooling: “When his mouth closed, saliva leaked from the corner and crawled down his face through the valley of a wrinkle. He didn’t notice, and it fell onto his sweater.”

bill palmer report logo headerThe words that ended up coming out of Rudy’s mouth during this interview are even more disconcerting. He proclaimed that the Feds at the SDNY are “assholes” for criminally investigating him. He claimed that George Soros paid the FBI to do something to him. Rudy then made the bizarre and offensive assertion that “I’m more of a Jew than Soros is.”

At various points during the interview, Rudy Giuliani accidentally activated Siri on one of his three phones, and then ended up leaving another of his phones in the back of a car. Rudy was also apparently singing opera at one point. We double checked to make sure this interview wasn’t satire, but it turns out the whole thing really did happen.

Dec. 19

Impeachment Headlines djt handwave file

 

Impeachment News Noted Above 

nancy pelosi impeachment dec 18 2019 screenshot

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) helps open the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.

ny times logoNew York Times, TRUMP IMPEACHED: ABUSE OF POWER AND OBSTRUCTION, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Dec. 19, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump is the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate.

djt impeached nytimes front page Custom 2On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, making him the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate.

On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines, after a bitter debate that reflected the deep polarization gripping American politics in the Trump era.

All but two Democrats supported the article on abuse of power, which accused Mr. Trump of corruptly using the levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in the form of investigations to discredit his Democratic political rivals. Republicans were united in opposition. It passed 230 to 197, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveling the vote to a close from the House rostrum.

On the second charge, obstruction of Congress, a third Democrat joined Republicans in opposition. The vote was 229 to 198.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Spotlight now shifts to Senate: McConnell says Senate must act to ‘keep partisan passions from literally boiling over,’ John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Elise Viebeck​, Dec. 19, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sharply criticized the Democrat-led impeachment process in the House during remarks on his chamber’s floor.

The day after President Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, questions continued to swirl about the timing and scope of an anticipated Senate trial regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.

House leaders suggested a possible delay until they can get a guarantee of a fair trial in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, in a floor speech, sharply criticized the House process as rushed and unfair and suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is “too afraid” to transmit “their shoddy work product.”

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Why doesn’t McConnell want witnesses at Trump’s trial? Because he’s guilty, Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman
  • Washington Post, Trump wallows in hate, befuddles his fans, Jennifer Rubin

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump cries like a baby after realizing Nancy Pelosi still holds all the cards on his impeachment, Bill Palmer, Dec. 19, 2019. Last night, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn’t just formally impeach Donald Trump. She revealed that she won’t make a decision when or if to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she can assess whether Mitch McConnell is willing to hold a fair trial.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was a brilliant masterstroke, even if most of us did see it coming. Trump, for his part, apparently did not see it coming – and now he’s crying like a baby.

Donald Trump and his social media handlers have frantically filled his Twitter page with so many dozens of garbage retweets today, it can be difficult to dig back and find the handful of tweets that came from Trump’s own mouth. Trump initially tried pushing the laugh-donald trump twitterout-loud notion that the Senate trial would simply take place without any House representation: “If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!” But nothing works that way, and so Trump moved on to simply whining.

Trump posted this tweet: “I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!” Then he screamed “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” like a stooge.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: To avoid removal, Trump only needs senators representing 7 percent of the country to support him, Philip Bump​, Dec. 19, 2019. The House vote, however, largely mirrored what Americans in those districts would have wanted.

• Analysis: Which senators support impeaching Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-officials say they feared Putin influenced Trump’s views on Ukraine and 2016, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, Dec. 19, 2019. Ex-officials say they feared Putin influenced Trump’s views on Ukraine and 2016. Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House.

After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions.

The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign — and the blame he cast instead on a rival country — led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here is how each House member voted, Staff report, Dec. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday evening, charging Mr. Trump with abuse of U.S. House logopower and obstruction of Congress. The Times tracked the vote live, showing how every representative voted. Four House seats are vacant, and three additional members are not expected to vote, which would make 215 the threshold to pass each article.

  • New York Times, 3 Democrats Cross Party Lines in Votes. Two members broke rank with their party on one charge. A third joined them for the second. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present” on both.
  • New York Times, Analysis: House Democrats Are Betting Their Votes Are Worth It, Backing impeachment is a politically risky step for many Democrats.

djt rally file Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Uses Rally to Strike Back Against Impeachment, Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman, Michael Crowley and Noah Weiland, Dec. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The president traveled to Michigan, a vital electoral state, to deliver his response after he became the third president to be impeached by the House.

A defiant President Trump (shown in a file photo) sought to grab back the spotlight in front of an arena full of supporters in Battle Creek, Mich., on Wednesday night, after spending the day holed up in the White House as the House of Representatives prepared to cast votes on two articles of impeachment against him.

“It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” Mr. Trump said in his first public remarks ahead of the historic vote on his impeachment. “The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong. We have tremendous support in the Republican Party like we’ve never had before.”

“Remember when I first started this beautiful trip, this beautiful journey, I just said to the first lady, you’re so lucky I took you on this journey,” the president said, recalling his 2016 campaign.

His roaring rejoinder created the remarkable image of a combative president — just moments before becoming the third to be impeached — standing unbowed before his core base of supporters heading into a year in which he will be seeking re-election.

Mr. Trump, described by his aides as having been in a frustrated, snappish mood for days, traveled to the rally in an electorally vital state on a day on which he had watched the impeachment debate on television and tweeted or retweeted more than 50 times.

washington post logoWashington Post, After Trump suggests John Dingell is in hell, Rep. Debbie Dingell says: ‘My family’s still hurting,’ Josh Dawsey, Meagan Flynn and Alex Horton, Dec. 19, 2019. Maybe he's looking up': Trump implies the late Rep. John Dingell might be in hell.

Less than an hour after being impeached, President Trump suggested during a john dingell headshotcampaign rally that the late Michigan congressman John Dingell, right, might be “looking up” from hell — remarks that Dingell’s widow said “really hurt.'

“Mr. President, let’s set politics aside,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), whose husband, a World War II veteran and the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, died in February at the age of 92. “My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.”

Dingell appeared Thursday morning on CNN, and host Alisyn Camerota queued a clip of Trump’s incendiary remarks with Dingell on a split screen. Her face remained stoic through Trump mimicking her voice in a phone call he made to Dingell after her husband died.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Now Donald Trump can’t be pardoned, Robert Harrington, Dec. 19, 2019. When Donald Trump awoke on Wednesday morning it was still possible for him to resign and be pardoned. It may have even been possible (some have argued) for him to lose the 2020 election and pardon himself before leaving office. Those days are over. Come what may, it is no longer possible for Donald John Trump to receive a pardon for any crimes he committed while president of the United States.

bill palmer report logo headerHow do I know this? Because the Constitution of the United States says so. Article II, section 2 of the Constitution says “The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment” [italics added]. In other words, because Trump is, after Andrew Johnson and William Jefferson Clinton, the third president to be impeached, he is now and for all time ineligible for presidential pardon.

Come what may, a pardon for Trump is now off the table and for all time. But this call for easier rest comes with a caveat. Trump is now doubly dangerous. His safe exits out of the Oval Office are now blocked.

ny times logoNew York Times, Durham Is Scrutinizing Ex-C.I.A. Director’s Role in Russian Interference Findings, Katie Benner and Julian E. john brennan croppedBarnes, Dec. 19, 2019. The federal prosecutor investigating the origins of the Russia inquiry is examining testimony by the former C.I.A. director John Brennan, right, and seeking his communications records.

The federal prosecutor scrutinizing the Russia investigation has begun examining the role of the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in how the intelligence community assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference, according to three people briefed on the inquiry.

john durham CustomJohn H. Durham, the United States attorney leading the investigation, has requested Mr. Brennan’s emails, call logs and other documents from the C.I.A., according to a person briefed on his inquiry. He wants to learn what Mr. Brennan told other officials, including the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, about his and the C.I.A.’s views of a notorious dossier of assertions about Russia and Trump associates.

Mr. Durham’s pursuit of Mr. Brennan’s records is certain to add to accusations that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. The president has long attacked Mr. Brennan as part of his narrative about a so-called deep state cabal of Obama administration officials who tried to sabotage his campaign, and Mr. Trump has held out Mr. Durham’s investigation as a potential avenue for proving those claims.

Mr. Durham is also examining whether Mr. Brennan privately contradicted his public comments, including May 2017 testimony to Congress, about both the dossier and about any debate among the intelligence agencies over their conclusions on Russia’s interference, the people said.

The people familiar with Mr. Durham’s inquiry stressed that it was continuing and it was not clear what crimes, if any, he had uncovered. Representatives for Mr. Brennan and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Defenders of Mr. Brennan have long maintained he did nothing wrong and properly sounded the alarm on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he told MSNBC this fall that he would answer Mr. Durham’s questions if asked.

CIA Logo“I feel good about what it is we did as an intelligence community, and I feel very confident and comfortable with what I did, so I have no qualms whatsoever about talking with investigators who are going to be looking at this in a fair and appropriate manner,” Mr. Brennan said.

Mr. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has previously conducted politically fraught investigations, including allegations of wrongdoing in the C.I.A.’s detainee torture program. Attorney General William P. Barr appointed him this year to re-examine not only the origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation but more broadly how the government uncovered Moscow’s election interference and dealt with those findings.

“He is not just looking at the F.B.I.,” Mr. Barr said in an interview broadcast Thursday evening on Fox News. “He is looking at other agencies.”

Calling it a “much broader investigation,” Mr. Barr added, “He is looking at all the conduct — both before and after the election.”

Mr. Brennan has come into Mr. Durham’s sights as he has focused on the intelligence community assessment released in January 2017 that used information from the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency to detail Russia’s meddling. They concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered an influence campaign that “aspired to help” Mr. Trump’s chances by damaging his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: A President Impeached, and a Nation Convulsed, Peter Baker, right, Dec. 18, 2019. The impeachment battles peter baker twitterover Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton came at turning points in the American story. The time that produced President Trump has proved to be another one. For the most unpredictable of presidents, it was the most predictable of outcomes. Is anyone really surprised that President Trump was impeached? His defiant disregard for red lines arguably made him an impeachment waiting to happen.

From the day he took office, Mr. Trump made clear that he would not abide by the conventions of the system he inherited. So perhaps it was inevitable that at some point he would go too far for the opposition party, leading to a historic day of debate on the House floor where he was alternately depicted as a constitutional villain or victim.

The proximate charge as Democrats impeached him for high crimes and misdemeanors on party-line votes Wednesday night was the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to help him against his domestic political rivals while withholding security aid. But long before Ukraine consumed the capital, Mr. Trump had sought to bend the instruments of government to his own purposes even if it meant pushing boundaries that had been sacrosanct for a generation.

Over nearly three years in office, he has become the most polarizing figure in a country stewing in toxic politics. He has punished enemies and, many argue, undermined democratic institutions. Disregarding advice that restrained other presidents, Mr. Trump kept his real estate business despite the Constitution’s emoluments clause, paid hush money to an alleged paramour and sought to impede investigations that threatened him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: House Democrats Are Betting Their Votes Are Worth It, Carl Hulse, Dec. 19, 2019 (print ed.).  Backing impeachment is a politically risky step for many Democrats.

ny times logotulsi gabbardNew York Times, Tulsi Gabbard Votes ‘Present’ on Trump Impeachment Articles, Michael Levenson, Dec. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Representative Tulsi Gabbard, right, a Hawaii Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate, broke with most members of her party on Wednesday and voted “present” on the two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Earlier this week, Ms. Gabbard called for Mr. Trump’s censure, according to ABC News.

Inside DC Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, left, with businessman Lev Parnas last month at the Trump International Hotel shortly before the arrest of Parnas and his colleagueg Ignor Fruman while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

ny times logoNew York Times, The 2 Soviet Émigrés Who Fueled the Trump Impeachment Flames, Michael Rothfeld, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Kenneth P. Vogel and Andrew E. Kramer, Dec. 19, 2019. “Lev and Igor” were obscure businessmen who became fixtures of the Republican donor set. Then they played an unlikely role in the proceedings gripping the nation.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman helped Mr. Giuliani carry out a shadow diplomacy campaign, sweeping them into a chain of events that has led to the impeachment of a president for only the third time in American history. As the impeachment began moving on Wednesday from the House to the Senate, the story of their work together was a reminder that the case against Mr. Trump is more than just a political battle in Washington. It is about the allure of presidential power, and the people who drew near to it as they sought political influence or financial gain.

The goal of the campaign, according to witnesses in the impeachment hearings and a reconstructed transcript of a call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, was for Ukraine to pursue two investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. One dealt with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter; the other centered on claims that Ukrainians meddled in the 2016 election, including a debunked theory that Ukraine — and not Russia — stole Democratic emails.

2020 U.S. Elections

robert hyde djt Custom

Hartford Courant, Conn. candidate who deleted sexist tweet about Kamala Harris owes child support but gives big to Trump and GOP, Daniela Altimari, Dec. 19, 2019. Robert F. Hyde (above left), the Republican candidate for Congress whose sexually suggestive tweet about Kamala Harris drew widespread condemnation from leaders of both political parties, owes the mother of his 13-year-old son more than $2,000 in child support, according to court records, even as he has continued to make donations to President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee.

Jennyfer Morin of Torrington said she was compelled to come forward because Hyde is seeking public support for his campaign to represent Connecticut’s 5th District. “I’m shocked that people are planning to vote for this man,” she said in an interview.

rnc logoCourt filings shared by Morin and reviewed by the Hartford Courant state that Hyde has donated more than $56,000 to political campaigns since October 2016. Most of those contributions went to the Republican National Committee, according to electronic filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Hyde also donated at least $2,000 to President Donald Trump’s reelection fund and at least $750 to the Connecticut Republican Party, according to the FEC. On Wednesday, the state party announced it was returning Hyde’s contributions, citing his “vile comments on Twitter.”

On Dec. 3, Hyde posted a crude and sexist tweet about Harris’ decision to drop out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race. The tweet [saying in part that a candidate was "going down" before unprintable language] was removed earlier this week after several prominent Republicans and Democrats criticized Hyde and urged him to drop his bid.

Hyde, the owner of a landscaping company in Simsbury, could not be reached for comment. A phone number previously associated with his campaign appears to be disconnected and he has blocked reporters on Twitter, making it impossible to send him a direct message. A West Hartford law firm that Hyde had retained prior to 2017 did not return a request for comment and Hyde was not represented by a lawyer in later proceedings, according to court filings.

Morin said she was struck by the difference between Hyde’s public persona as a political figure and his abdication of personal responsibility regarding his teenage son.

“He can’t even afford $100 a week in child support but he’s golfing with Trump,” Morin said. She produced a photo from Hyde’s Facebook page showing him beaming as he stood next to Eric Trump at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. The same photo was posted to Hyde’s campaign Instagram page.

The court case between Morin and Hyde has been going on for years, she said. “We’re going back and forth and he’s stating he’s unemployed and can’t afford child support,” she said.

Hyde broke off their relationship in 2006, after he learned Morin was pregnant, she said. Since then Hyde has had sporadic contact with his son, and “there have been years during which there was no contact at all,” according to an April 2018 ruling issued by Judge Kari A. Dooley.

Morin, who drives a school bus for a living and earns less than $400 per week, sought additional child support and the court agreed, ordering Hyde to pay $300 per week as of Jan. 1, 2018. Hyde was also ordered to pay $4,000 in Morin’s attorney fees. The court rejected Hyde’s request for custody, granting him visitation rights only at the discretion of Morin.

In the court filings, Hyde said he could not afford to pay the court-ordered $300 a week in child support.

On Nov. 4, the family support magistrate in Torrington issued a temporary order for Hyde allowing him to pay $94 per week in child support, as well as weekly assessment of $14 to make up the $2,500 he owes Morin. The case was continued until Jan. 13.

Meanwhile, Hyde tweeted a defiant message earlier this week criticizing the “libs (and) RINOs” calling for him to abandon his campaign, suggesting he’s in the race to stay.

Dec. 18

Impeachment Headlines djt handwave file

 

Impeachment News Noted Above 

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House set to begin historic day of debate, John Wagner, Dec. 18, 2019. Vote to impeach Trump expected, will make him third U.S. president to receive that sanction. Based on public announcements, Democrats have enough votes to pass two articles charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House is poised to begin a historic day of debate that is expected to end with votes to impeach President Trump for his conduct toward Ukraine, making him only the third president in U.S. history to receive that sanction.

U.S. House logoBased on public announcements, Democrats have enough votes to approve articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Wednesday’s action will lead to a trial in the Republican-led Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove the president from office.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Diatribe Belittles Impeachment as ‘Attempted Coup,’ Michael D. Shear, Dec. 18, 2019 (print ed.). In an irate, six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump denounced the impeachment inquiry in scathing terms.

nancy pelosi djtPresident Trump on Tuesday angrily denounced the looming House votes to impeach him as a “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” by Democrats, describing the effort to remove him from office as an “attempted coup” that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year.

On the eve of the historic votes, Democrats reached a critical threshold, gathering majority support to impeach Mr. Trump, as the president raged against the proceedings. In an irate and rambling six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the victim of enemies determined to destroy his presidency with false accusations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Breaking down Trump’s extraordinary six-page letter to Pelosi, Glenn Kessler, Dec. 18, 2019.  Reading President Trump’s impeachment-eve letter to the House speaker seemed very familiar to The Fact Checker. It’s like a written version of his campaign rallies, replete with false claims we have fact-checked many times before either in individual fact checks or in our database of false or misleading Trump claims.

This letter will add a couple dozen new entries to our database, but here are some of the lowlights.

Raw Story, Trump cut White House lawyers out of process of drafting unhinged letter to Pelosi: report, Bob Brigham, Dec. 18, 2019. White House lawyers were out of the loop during the drafting of Donald Trump’s widely-panned letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The letter was reportedly drafted by controversial White House advisor Stephen Miller, Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland and counselor to the chief of staff Michael Williams.

“I am told White House lawyers were cut out of the process of drafting the President’s six-page letter to Pelosi. At the direction of the President, the letter was drafted by Eric Ueland, Stephen Miller and Mulvaney aide Michael Williams,” ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl reported Tuesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Dump Trump!’: Protesters across U.S. rally for impeachment, Griff Witte, Annie Gowen, Scott Wilson and Lori Rozsa, Dec. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Protesters gather outside Congress. Demonstrators in big cities and small towns from coast to coast rallied Tuesday for President Trump's impeachment, celebrating the historic step the House is expected to take Wednesday while bemoaning that the push to oust him is almost certain to die in the Senate.

Organizers said that there were more than 600 protests nationwide — from Hawaii to Maine — with the goal of demonstrating “to our lawmakers that their constituents are behind them to defend the Constitution.”
Law, Courts

washington post logoFBI logoWashington Post, Surveillance court demands answers from FBI for errors, omissions in Trump campaign probe, Devlin Barrett, Dec. 18, 2019 (print ed.). The court said the FBI's conduct was “antithetical” to how the foreign intelligence surveillance program is supposed to work.

Dec. 17

Impeachment Headlines 

ImpeachmentCNews Noted Above 

ny times logoNew York Times, McConnell Rejects Calling 4 Trump Aides as Impeachment Witnesses, Michael D. Shear, Dec. 17, 2019. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said he would not agree to call key witnesses on the eve of a House vote on Wednesday. The four witnesses all have firsthand knowledge of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including Mick Mulvaney and John R. Bolton.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Denounces ‘Partisan Impeachment Crusade’ on Eve of House Vote, Michael D. Shear, Dec. 17, 2019. President Trump denounced the impeachment inquiry in scathing terms in a six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I have no doubt the American people will hold you and the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump wrote that he knew his letter would not change the outcome of Wednesday’s votes, expected to occur almost entirely on party lines, to impeach him. But he said the missive was “for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”

The president angrily disputed both impeachment charges against him in the letter, saying he had done nothing wrong and asserting that Ms. Pelosi and her allies were using the Constitution to attack him for the successful policies he had implemented.

Rick Gates, right, once the indispensable right-hand man to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, left, and a star witness in paul manafort rick gates nbcnews Custom 2special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, was sentenced Tuesday morning in federal court in Washington.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rick Gates, Ex-Trump Aide and Key Witness for Mueller, Is Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail, Sharon LaFraniere, Dec. 17, 2019. Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide who helped bring down two former advisers to President Trump, was sentenced on Tuesday to 45 days in jail and a $20,000 fine for his part in a criminal financial scheme and for lying to federal investigators.

Mr. Gates, 47, can serve the jail time intermittently if he prefers, such as on weekends. He was also sentenced to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service. Mr. Gates had hoped to be spared a prison term in exchange for his extensive cooperation with the government after pleading guilty in February 2018.

“I greatly regret the mistakes I have made and I have worked hard to honor my commitment to make amends,” he told Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia.

Sentencing guidelines recommended that Mr. Gates, who was a deputy campaign chairman in 2016 and went on to help manage Mr. Trump’s inauguration, serve a prison term of 46 to 57 months. But the guidelines are only advisory.

ny times logoNew York Times, William Taylor, Key Impeachment Witness, Is Stepping Down, Lara Jakes, Dec. 17, 2019. Mr. Taylor, a top diplomat in Ukraine, objected to what he saw as the Trump administration’s shadow foreign policy in the country. William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine who described for Congress and the public what he saw as President Trump’s efforts to pressure Kyiv to go after a political rival, is expected to leave his post at the end of the year.

A person familiar with the planning said Mr. Taylor was leaving because his temporary appointment to Ukraine last June is set to expire. Under the Vacancies Act, political appointees in an acting position can hold office only for about 200 days.

Mr. Taylor, a longtime diplomat, was asked to come out of retirement after the former United States ambassador to Kyiv, Marie L. Yovanovitch, was ousted for resisting a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine that was run by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated, George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson, Dec. 17, 2019. The president and his enablers have replaced conservatism with an empty faith led by a bogus prophet.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judiciary Committee Report Argues Trump ‘Betrayed the Nation,’ Michael D. Shear, Dec. 17, 2019 (print ed.). The 658-page report asserts that President Trump should be impeached for abusing his office and obstructing the congressional inquiry into his actions. The House Judiciary Committee formally presented its case for impeaching President President Donald Trump officialTrump in a 658-page report published online early Monday morning, arguing just days before a final vote in the House that he “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office.”

The report, which echoes similar documents produced after the committee’s approval of impeachment articles for Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, contains no new allegations or evidence against Mr. Trump.

But it offers a detailed road map for the two articles of impeachment the committee approved, charging that Mr. Trump abused the power of the presidency to enlist Ukraine in tarnishing his political rivals and obstructing Congress by blocking witnesses from testifying and refusing to provide documents.

The House is expected to vote on Wednesday on whether to impeach the sitting president for only the third time in the nation’s history, setting in motion a trial in the Senate early next year that could lead to Mr. Trump’s removal from office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love, William Webster (shown in a photo photo), Dec. 17, 2019 (print ed.). The rule of law is the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. The privilege of being the only American in our history to serve as the director of both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. william webstergives me a unique perspective and a responsibility to speak out about a dire threat to the rule of law in the country I love.

Order protects liberty, and liberty protects order. Today, the integrity of the institutions that protect our civil order are, tragically, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them.

The rule of law is the bedrock of American democracy, the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. Every FBI logoAmerican should demand that our leaders put the rule of law above politics.

I am deeply disturbed by the assertion of President Trump that our “current director” — as he refers to the man he selected for the job of running the F.B.I. — cannot fix what the president calls a broken agency. The 10-year term given to all directors following J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year tenure was created to provide independence for the director and for the bureau.

The president’s thinly veiled suggestion that the director, Christopher Wray, right, like his banished predecessor, James Comey, could be on the chopping block, disturbs me greatly. The christopher wray officialindependence of both the F.B.I. and its director are critical and should be fiercely protected by each branch of government.

Calling F.B.I. professionals “scum,” as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. Mr. Barr’s charges of bias within the F.B.I., made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution.

Mr. Webster, age 96, is a former federal judge and the former director of both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.

washington post logoWashington Post, Centrist Democrats line up to support impeachment, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez and Philip Rucker, Dec. 17, 2019 (print ed.). No matter what House Democrats ultimately end  Democrats from swing districts announced Monday they would vote to impeach President Trump, braving White House pressure and risking political blowback.

U.S. House logoA contingent of Democratic House members from Republican-leaning districts announced one by one Monday that after weeks of extraordinary pressure, they have decided to vote to impeach President Trump, as the House hurtles toward historic action later this week. Reps. Ben McAdams (Utah) and Joe Cunningham (S.C.), for example, had been widely expected to be among the half-dozen or so Democrats breaking with their party. Both said Monday they would vote in favor of impeaching Trump.

These Democrats characterized their choices as acts of conscience. “The President’s actions violate his oath of office, endanger our national security, and betray the public trust,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (Va.), right, a freshman who represents a Richmond-area district that voted for Trump in 2016, said in a statement.

A trio of female Democrats with backgrounds in national security, who in September came out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct, also said they have decided to vote for impeachment. That includes Spanberger, a former CIA abigail spanberger twitterofficer, as well as Reps. Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), a former CIA analyst and Defense Department official, and Elaine Luria (Va.), a former Navy commander.

Monday’s announcements dealt a blow to Trump and his allies, who had been encouraging Democrats to defect to bolster their depiction of impeachment as a crusade by extremist liberals. The White House had mounted an all-out effort to pressure the centrists, many of whom faced a blitz of anti-impeachment ads and are risking significant political damage.

• Analysis: Which House members support impeaching Trump
• Recap: Democrats accuse Trump of criminal bribery, wire fraud in report on impeachment articles
• 700 scholars pen letter urging House to impeach Trump

Michael Flynn's Sentencing

michael flynn djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Flynn’s sentencing set for Jan. 28 after judge rejects his attacks on FBI, Justice, Spencer S. Hsu and Carol D. Leonnig, Dec. 16, 2019. A federal judge on Monday rejected Michael Flynn’s attacks against the FBI and the Justice Department, setting a long-delayed sentencing for President Trump’s former national security adviser for Jan. 28.

emmet sullivan 2012U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington dismissed Flynn’s motion to find prosecutors in contempt. In a 92-page decision, Sullivan ruled there was no basis for Flynn’s allegations that federal law enforcement officials entrapped the retired three-star Army general into accepting a plea deal or that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecutors had wrongfully held back 50 requests for evidence from Flynn’s attorneys.

Flynn, shown above at left, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador after the 2016 U.S. election, had been set to be sentenced this Wednesday. Sullivan this month delayed the sentencing pending a report by a Justice Department inspector general on how the FBI handled the Russia investigation, which reviewed topics related to Flynn’s allegations.

The report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, released last week, said that the FBI was justified in opening its 2016 probe of possible coordination between Russia and four members of the Trump campaign, including Flynn. But the report also found the FBI made significant errors or omissions in applying for intelligence surveillance warrants for one of them, former campaign adviser Carter Page.

Sullivan reviewed Flynn’s more detailed accusations that misconduct by the FBI, the Justice Department and Mueller’s office raised ethical concerns and cast doubt on his investigation, but he denied defense claims that they warranted tossing out his plea in favor of a trial or dismissal of his case. Similar to Horowitz’s findings, the court ruling undercut arguments that the FBI investigation or Justice Department prosecution of Flynn was unjustified or improperly handled.

Refuting Flynn’s claims that he was misled into unwittingly pleading guilty to charges, Sullivan wrote that it was undisputed that Flynn told the same lies to the FBI, Vice President Pence and senior White House officials, who repeated them to the American public, leading to his firing in February 2017.

Sullivan, the longest-serving active federal judge on the U.S. District Court in Washington and a judicial appointee of presidents of both parties, has a nationwide reputation for championing defendants rights under the “Brady rule,” which established the government's obligation to turn over evidence that can be useful for the defense.

In Flynn’s case, however, Sullivan eviscerated defense claims that the government failed to meet its duties, writing that the court “concludes that Mr. Flynn has failed to establish a single Brady violation.”

Dec. 16

Impeachment Headlines 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above  

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Democrats accuse Trump of criminal bribery in report on impeachment articles, John Wagner and Brittany Shammas​, Dec. 16, 2019. The report released this morning explains the two articles of impeachment that the House is expected to approve Wednesday. Senators are preparing for a trial of the president in early us senate logoJanuary.

Democrats accused President Trump of “multiple federal crimes,” including bribery and wire fraud, in a new report released early Monday that explains the articles of impeachment that the House is expected to approve mostly along party lines on Wednesday.

A trial will probably begin in the Republican-led Senate in early January, and Democrats are seeking to call several senior Trump administration officials who did not testify as part of the House proceedings. 

Palmer Report, Opinion: Finalized articles of impeachment have just set Donald Trump on a clear path to prison, Bill Palmer, Dec. 16, 2019. djt nancy pelosiThe House Judiciary Committee released the finalized iteration of the two existing articles of impeachment today, and it turns out the House Democrats have made a point of including language that spells out that Donald Trump committed “multiple federal crimes.”

This matters for few reasons. In the short term, it makes clear to the general public that Trump really is a criminal, which should help nudge the ever-slowly-climbing impeachment poll numbers even higher. It takes away any Republican argument in the court of public opinion that Trump shouldn’t be impeached because he’s not even accused of committing a crime.

But there’s something more here. These articles of impeachment are a clear directive to the post-Trump Department of Justice that it must criminally investigate Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal, indict and arrest him once he’s no longer in office, and then put him on criminal trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schumer calls for testimony from Mulvaney, Bolton in impeachment trial, Seung Min Kim, Karoun Demirjian and Steven Mufson​, Dec. 16, 2019 (print ed.). In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer outlined procedural demands that Democrats believe would make the likely Senate trial of President Trump fair and completed “within a reasonable period of time.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love, William Webster (shown in a photo photo), Dec. 16, 2019. The rule of law is the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. The privilege of being the only American in our history to serve as the director of both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. william webstergives me a unique perspective and a responsibility to speak out about a dire threat to the rule of law in the country I love.

Order protects liberty, and liberty protects order. Today, the integrity of the institutions that protect our civil order are, tragically, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them.

The rule of law is the bedrock of American democracy, the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. Every FBI logoAmerican should demand that our leaders put the rule of law above politics.

I am deeply disturbed by the assertion of President Trump that our “current director” — as he refers to the man he selected for the job of running the F.B.I. — cannot fix what the president calls a broken agency. The 10-year term given to all directors following J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year tenure was created to provide independence for the director and for the bureau.

The president’s thinly veiled suggestion that the director, Christopher Wray, right, like his banished predecessor, James Comey, could be on the chopping block, disturbs me greatly. The christopher wray officialindependence of both the F.B.I. and its director are critical and should be fiercely protected by each branch of government.

Calling F.B.I. professionals “scum,” as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. Mr. Barr’s charges of bias within the F.B.I., made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution.

Mr. Webster is a former federal judge and the former director of both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.

ny times logoNew York Times, Representative Elissa Slotkin, a moderate Democrat from Michigan, said that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump, drawing protests and applause, Sheryl Gay Stolberg Dec. 16, 2019. Representative Elissa Slotkin, right, a moderate Democrat from Michigan, announced Monday that she elissa slotkin twitterwould vote to impeach President Trump — and quickly faced the consequences.

The blowback began on Monday even before Representative Elissa Slotkin took the lectern to announce she would vote to impeach President Trump.

djt maga hatDozens of angry Trump supporters bearing “Impeach Slotkin, Keep Trump” signs shouted down Ms. Slotkin, a first-term congresswoman, at a packed town hall-style meeting in a university ballroom, chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Elissa Slotkin has got to go!” and “One-term congresswoman!” and “C.I.A. Hack!” — a reference to Ms. Slotkin’s past work as a C.I.A. analyst.

But the voices on the other side, though not nearly as loud, were present in force. Most in the crowd of about 400 people who gathered here on Monday leaped to their feet and applauded when Ms. Slotkin announced her intention to vote “yes” on Wednesday when the House holds its vote on the articles of impeachment.

ny times logoNew York, Nearly all of Representative Jeff Van Drew’s staff resigned over the Democrat’s reported decision to switch parties, Tracey Tully, Dec. 16, 2019. Nearly all of Representative Jeff Van Drew’s Washington staff resigned over the weekend as both Democrats and Republicans harshly criticized the moderate Democrat’s apparent decision to switch parties just as the House prepares to undertake its historic vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump.

jeff van drewMr. Van Drew, right, who hails from a conservative district that for 24 years before his election was represented by a Republican, is one of only two Democrats who voted against rules laying out the impeachment process.

democratic donkey logo“Sadly, Congressman Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office,’’ according to a letter from five staff members, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times.

NBC News reported that a sixth staffer had also resigned. A seventh person also resigned, according to a person familiar with the situation in Mr. Van Drew’s office, leaving his chief of staff as the sole remaining staff member in his Washington office.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Jeff Van Drew’s decision to leave the Democratic Party is already blowing up in his face, Bill Palmer, Dec. 16, 2019. Over the weekend, Congressman Jeff Van Drew, announced that he was not only voting against impeaching Donald Trump, he was switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Palmer Report explained that because Van Drew had already alienated himself from Democratic voters in his swing district, by switching to the Republican Party he was actually increasing the odds that the Democrats would win the seat in 2020. Now Van Drew is already facing blowback.

Five (now reported as seven) members of Jeff Van Drew’s congressional staff have already announced their resignations in the wake of his decision to leave the Democratic Party. This makes clear that while Van Drew might be willing to join the corrupt party of Trump in a bizarre effort at keeping his job, his staffers aren’t willing to sell their souls just to keep their jobs.

bill palmer report logo headerThis also strongly suggests that this was an abrupt panic move on Van Drew’s part, as opposed to being something that he considered carefully and discussed with his staff before making the decision. Van Drew met with Donald Trump just before making the move, raising questions about what Trump might have offered him in return, or what Trump might be holding over his head.

It’s still not quite clear what’s really going on here. But while we wait for this to inevitably turn into some kind of corruption scandal, one thing is clear: Jeff Van Drew’s congressional career is in deep trouble. Even his own staff wants nothing to do with whatever downward spiral he’s decided to dive head first into here. We look forward to seeing which Democratic candidate ends up running against him in the 2020 race.

washington post logoWashington Post, John Durham has a stellar reputation for investigating corruption. Some fear his work for Barr could tarnish it, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 16, 2019. Legal observers say they’re perplexed by a public statement the longtime prosecutor made disputing the inspector general’s assessment of the Russia case’s origins.

john durham CustomWhen the U.S. government needed a prosecutor to ferret out corruption in its own law-enforcement and intelligence ranks, John Durham, left, was its go-to guy. The longtime prosecutor helped exonerate men wrongly convicted on murder charges, exposed an FBI agent tied to one of Boston’s most notorious gangsters and dug into the CIA’s destruction of video tapes thought to show foreign detainees being tortured.

But some of Durham’s actions in his latest high-profile assignment — examining the FBI’s 2016 investigation of President Trump’s campaign — have sparked a debate in Washington about whether he is even-handedly assessing possible wrongdoing, or carrying out a conservative political errand.

Justice Department log circularLast week, after the Justice Department inspector general released a report concluding the bureau had adequate cause to open the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, Durham issued a remarkable public statement registering his disagreement.

The move left many inside and outside the Justice Department puzzled, as it seemed out of step with Durham’s character. In general, law enforcement considers it inappropriate to comment on ongoing investigations, and Durham is known for being especially tight-lipped. In sworn testimony before Congress, Inspector General Michael Horowitz later described his and Durham’s dispute as being over a relatively unimportant bureaucratic distinction about how the probe was categorized — a matter that likely would not have had a substantive impact on the Russia case.

“I am bothered because his statement is completely unnecessary and, to me, is violative of the norms and customs of the Justice Department,” said former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, who now works at the Carlton Fields law firm. “He has an ongoing investigation. He has not concluded it. And what he’s doing is he’s issuing a smoke signal that I may have information that is contrary to the report.”

A spokesman for Durham declined to comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Don’t assume the Supreme Court will give Trump a resounding victory, Harry Litman (law professor and former federal prosecutor, shown at right), Dec. 16, 2019. President Trump no doubt welcomed the news that harry litman msnbc screenshotthe Supreme Court will review three separate decisions in which lower courts have ruled against him, upholding subpoenas calling for banks and accountants to turn over financial records pertaining to him. He’s taken a shellacking in the federal courts to date, and he’s well aware that the Supreme Court majority that he helped put in place is bullish on executive power.

But it would be a mistake to assume that the court will give Trump a resounding victory, or come close to upholding the extreme propositions that the president has been unsuccessfully advancing in the lower courts.

It is much more likely that the court will first set out principles defining the circumstances — for example, some sort of heightened evidentiary showing — under which the president’s personal records have to be turned over. They probably will be pro-executive branch principles that slant the balance toward future presidents, but Trump needs more than that to keep his taxes from public view.

And the next step after such a holding would be to remand to the lower courts to apply the announced principles, probably during the heat of the election, though possibly after. That is where Trump’s extreme arguments are likely to meet their end.

Dec. 15

Impeachment Headlines 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate GOP accused of violating oath to be impartial jurors, Karoun Demirjian and Steven Mufson, Dec. 15, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that he was working in “total coordination” with the White House — something a top Democrat said was akin to “the foreman of the jury saying he’s going to work hand in glove with the defense attorney.”

• Freshman Democrats push for former GOP Congressman Justin Amash as impeachment manager

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Impeachment Process Is Barely Functioning, Elizabeth Drew, right, Dec. 15, 2019. Hyperpartisan politics and an implacable president may break Congress’s ability to check him. When the process of impeachment drove President Richard Nixon from office in 1974, there was widespread celebration that “the system worked.” But the 1974 impeachment process may turn out to have been unique, a model for how it should work that has yet to be replicated — and perhaps never will be.

elizabeth drewThe current proceedings have demonstrated how fragile the Constitution’s impeachment clause is. The idea of the clause was to hold a president accountable for misdeeds between elections; but it’s now clearer than ever that it doesn’t work very well in the context of a very partisan political atmosphere.

That’s because the founders didn’t anticipate political parties, or “factions,” much less the power they would gain. James Madison pointed out in Federalist No. 51 that men aren’t angels, and so there needed to be a check on a president’s power — in addition to the voters’ decision every four years. In 1974, the constitutional system held while a president tried to assert, unsuccessfully, that he wasn’t accountable to Congress or the courts. But now the impeachment process is barely functioning, and it’s not difficult to envision it breaking down completely.

richard nixon desk archivesToday, there’s a president who feels free to completely stonewall an impeachment inquiry. Even Nixon, left, did not deem the entire process illegitimate. Yes, he tried to hold back damning recordings of Oval Office conversations, but when he was overruled by the Supreme Court he turned the tapes over to Congress. He also held back some documents from the House Judiciary Committee — an act that formed the basis of an article of impeachment against him. But he allowed his aides to appear before the Senate Watergate Committee, helping to seal his own doom.

Elizabeth Drew, a political journalist who for many years covered Washington for The New Yorker, is the author of “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell is blowing smoke, Bill Palmer, Dec. 15, 2019.  In what amounts to at least his fifth publicly stated iteration of his Senate impeachment trial strategy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that he’s going to coordinate with the White House Counsel to make sure that the trial goes precisely how Donald Trump wants it to go. Legal scholars, pundits, and the public are naturally crying foul. Here’s the thing, though: McConnell is just blowing smoke to test the headwinds.

bill palmer report logo headerMitch McConnell is many things, all of them negative – but he’s not stupid. If he had already made up his mind to conspire with the Trump regime with regard to the Senate impeachment trial, he would gain nothing by announcing it in advance, as he’d simply be making himself look corrupt for no reason. So he wouldn’t be announcing it, he’d just be doing it.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedThere are only two reasons for McConnell, right, to announce in advance that he’s planning to corruptly conspire with Trump on impeachment: The first is that he’s trying to gauge just how much blowback he’ll face if he actually goes through with it, and if it’s the kind of blowback that could cost him the Senate majority in 2020. The second is that McConnell is trying to scare Democrats and liberals into paralysis by continuing to float scary doomsday fantasies as if they were foregone conclusions.

At one point Mitch McConnell announced that he would hold a very short impeachment trial with no witnesses and an automatic acquittal. At another point he announced he would mount a rigorous defense of Trump that would be held six days a week. Now he’s announcing that he’s going to do whatever Trump asks him to do with impeachment. These things can’t all be true. Yet each time McConnell blows a different kind of impeachment smoke, many people on the left take it as if it were absolute fact.

When it comes to what Mitch McConnell is saying about the Senate impeachment trial right now, the best thing anyone can do is to simply ignore him. We don’t know what he’ll do when it comes to the trial. He clearly doesn’t know yet either. He’s just throwing things at the wall to try to gauge what might fly, and what he can scare us with. None of what McConnell is saying right now has anything to do with how this will actually end up playing out. Just tune him out.

World News

djt saudi orb abdel al sissi salman

Donald Trump is shown on his first overseas visit as president in 2017 with leaders of the host nation, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

SouthFront, Saudi Aramco To Invest In Syria’s Northeastern Oil Fields Under U.S. Protection – Report, Staff report, Dec. 15, 2019. Saudi oil giant Aramco is planning to invest in one of Syria’s largest oil fields in the governorate of Deir Ezzor, the local Deir Ezzor 24 blog reported on November 14.

According to the blog, which is well-known for its connections in Deir Ezzor, a team of Aramco’s experts has already visited and inspected the al-Omar oil fields in southeastern Deir Ezzor. “The investment will be done through contracts that will be signed by Aramco and the U.S. government, whose forces control the majority of oil and Gas fields in northeast Syria,” Deir Ezzor 24 quoted a source as saying.

The Pentagon had announced that its keeping 500 U.S. troops in eastern Syria to “guard” oil fields in northern al-Hasakah and southeast Deir Ezzor.

The U.S., whose military presence in Syria is illegal under the country’s laws and international laws, has no right what so ever to grant investments in the eastern region’s oil. Many experts, including in the U.S. itself, had warned that such a step can be considered plunder, which amounts to a war crime.

Last month, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) carried out a series of pinpoint strikes on oil smuggling facilities near the Turkish-occupied city of Jarabulus in northern Aleppo. Back then, a sources in Damascus warned that any attempt to loot or smuggle Syrian oil will be met with a similar measure.

If Aramco indeed moves to invest Syria’s oil through illegal contracts with the U.S, without the consent of Damascus, Saudi Arabia could find itself in a serious crisis with Syria and its allies.

Afghanistan Secret Papers | Part 6 djt afghan visit 11 28 2019 ap alex brandon Custom 2

President Donald Trump with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani (left) while addressing members of the military during a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. war on drugs in Afghanistan has imploded at nearly every turn, Craig Whitlock, Dec. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Of all the failures in Afghanistan, the war on drugs has been perhaps the most feckless, according to a cache of confidential government interviews and other documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Since 2001, the United States has spent about $9 billion on a dizzying array of programs to deter Afghanistan from supplying the world with heroin. In dozens of interviews, however, key players in the anti-narcotics campaign acknowledged that none of the measures have worked and that, in many cases, they have made things worse.

Mohammed Ehsan Zia, a former Afghan cabinet minister in charge of rural development programs, told U.S. government interviewers that the United States and other NATO countries never settled on an effective strategy and just threw money at the opium problem. He said they constantly changed policies and relied on a carousel of consultants who were ignorant about Afghanistan.

Trump Finances

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump freaks out over Supreme Court announcement about his tax returns, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 15, 2019. On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it’s bill palmertaking up the case of whether Donald Trump’s accounting firm must give his tax returns to House Democrats and a New York grand jury. While the ruling may not come down until as late as June of 2020, Palmer Report pointed out it’s likely to go against Trump (think John Roberts and Obamacare), and that the ruling will end up coming down just as we’re heading into the 2020 general election cycle.

bill palmer report logo headerWhile it would have been even worse for Donald Trump if the Supreme Court had announced that it wasn’t going to take up the case at all, this is still bad news for him. The only way this could have gone well for him would have been if the high court decided to put off the decision until after the election. Sure enough, Trump is freaking out about it. We know this because he’s suddenly kissing the backside of erratic Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump posted this tweet: “After watching the disgraceful way that a wonderful man, Brett Kavanaugh, was treated by the Democrats, and now seeing first hand how these same brett kavanaughRadical Left, Do Nothing Dems are treating the whole Impeachment Hoax, I understand why so many Dems are voting Republican!” Given the timing, it’s clear that Trump is pandering to Kavanaugh over the tax returns case. Kavanaugh has been voting with the liberals on a number of cases, in the hope that House Democrats won’t refer him for criminal prosecution for perjury once Trump is gone.

Donald Trump is correct to fear that Kavanaugh could end up voting against Trump in order to try to save himself. In any case, if Roberts votes against Trump on Trump’s tax returns, then Kavanaugh’s vote won’t matter. It’s clear that Trump is worried about where this is headed. Not only will the ruling impact the 2020 election, it’ll impact the New York grand jury that’s in the process of criminally indicting Trump on state charges, which will lead to his arrest the minute he’s no longer in office.

Dec. 14

Impeachment Daily Index

jerry nadler close up committee unsourced Custom

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above  

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Impeachment Articles Approved by House Panel, Split on Party Lines; Full House Vote Is Expected Next Week, Nicholas Fandos, Dec. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The House Judiciary Committee turned back Republican attempts to kill articles of impeachment in a heated debate. President Trump is the fourth U.S. president to face impeachment by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

U.S. House logoA fiercely divided House Judiciary Committee pushed President Trump to the brink of impeachment on Friday, voting along party lines to approve charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress.

After a fractious two-day debate steeped in the Constitution and shaped by the realities of a hyperpartisan era in American politics, the Democratic-controlled committee recommended that the House ratify two articles of impeachment against the 45th president. In back-to-back votes just after 10 a.m., they adopted each charge against Mr. Trump by a margin of 23 to 17 over howls of Republican protest.

The partisan result and the contentious debate that preceded it were harbingers of a historic proceeding and vote on the House floor, expected next week, to impeach Mr. Trump, whose nearly three-year tenure has exacerbated the nation’s political divisions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Five questions — and answers — about Trump, Ukraine and impeachment, Elise Viebeck, Dec. 14, 2019 (print ed.). What is the impeachment drama actually about? What do Democrats and Republicans say? What will happen next week — and next year?

Afghanistan Secret Papers | Part 6 djt afghan visit 11 28 2019 ap alex brandon Custom 2

President Donald Trump with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani (left) while addressing members of the military during a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. war on drugs in Afghanistan has imploded at nearly every turn, Craig Whitlock, Dec. 14, 2019. Of all the failures in Afghanistan, the war on drugs has been perhaps the most feckless, according to a cache of confidential government interviews and other documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Since 2001, the United States has spent about $9 billion on a dizzying array of programs to deter Afghanistan from supplying the world with heroin. In dozens of interviews, however, key players in the anti-narcotics campaign acknowledged that none of the measures have worked and that, in many cases, they have made things worse.

Mohammed Ehsan Zia, a former Afghan cabinet minister in charge of rural development programs, told U.S. government interviewers that the United States and other NATO countries never settled on an effective strategy and just threw money at the opium problem. He said they constantly changed policies and relied on a carousel of consultants who were ignorant about Afghanistan.

Trump Finances supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court will take up Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation, Robert Barnes, Dec. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The president has mounted a vigorous effort to protect his financial records from prosecutors and Congress. The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will take up President Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation, raising the prospect of a landmark election-year ruling on the limits of presidential power.

A New York prosecutor and three Democratic-led congressional committees have won lower-court decisions granting them access to a broad range of Trump’s financial records relating to him personally, his family and his businesses.

Unlike other modern presidents and presidential candidates, Trump has not released his tax returns. He and his personal lawyers have mounted a vigorous effort to keep that information private and defeat attempts to obtain the records from financial institutions and his accounting firm.

supreme court graphic

The Supreme Court’s decision to get involved represents a historic moment that will test the justices and the Constitution’s separation-of-powers design. It is the first time the president’s personal conduct has come before the court, and marks a new phase in the investigations that have dogged his presidency.

The court includes two Trump nominees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, and it will draw inevitable comparisons with the dramatic decisions on presidential power the court rendered against Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton. In both cases, justices they had nominated to the court voted against them.

Trump attorney William S. Consovoy has argued that while in the White House, Trump has “temporary presidential immunity” not just from prosecution, but also from investigation. At the appeals court hearing in New York, Consovoy said in response to a judge’s question that the president, for as long as he is in office, could not be investigated even for shooting someone on the streets of Manhattan.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s tax returns just officially became a 2020 nightmare for him, Bill Palmer, Dec. 14, 2019. The Supreme Court decided yesterday to take up the case of Donald Trump’s tax returns. This is not the best case scenario for House Democrats, who were hoping the Supreme Court would decline to take up the case, which would have resulted in Trump’s accountant turning over his tax returns immediately. But what’s interesting about this development is the timeframe for the case.

bill palmer report logo headerThe mainstream media is saying it doesn’t think the Supreme Court will take up the case until June of 2020. We don’t expect it to take that long, considering the historic importance and unique urgency of the case. But even if it does take until June, the ruling will come down right around the start of the 2020 general election cycle.

If the Supreme Court rules that Donald Trump’s tax returns must be turned over, House Democrats will be able to expose Trump’s financial crimes and illicit foreign ties at the height of the 2020 election. Considering how John Roberts likes to play both sides, we think there’s a strong chance the ruling will go this way. But even if the Supreme Court rules that his returns don’t have to be turned over, it’ll serve as a timely reminder to the voting public that he’s bending over backward to hide his dirty financial secrets.

ny times logoNew York Times, Representative Jeff Van Drew, Anti-Impeachment Democrat, Considering Switching Parties, Jonathan Martin and Nick Corasaniti, Dec. 14, 2019. Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, a moderate Democrat who is among his party’s staunchest opponents of impeaching President Trump, is considering switching parties and could make an announcement as soon as next week, just as the House is voting on impeachment.

jeff van drewMr. Van Drew, right, has had discussions with senior Trump advisers about securing the president’s support for his switch, a blessing that could help him avert a primary challenge next year in what would be his new party, according to two Democrats and one Republican who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Van Drew’s benefit to Mr. Trump would be more immediate: the high-profile defection would help soften the blow of becoming the third president ever to be impeached.

Conversations between Mr. Van Drew and top advisers to Mr. Trump intensified late last week, according to a Republican familiar with the discussions, with the New Jersey freshman making clear he was nervous about losing his seat, either in a Democratic primary or the general election.

A freshman lawmaker from a historically Republican-leaning southern New Jersey district, Mr. Van Drew has already made clear he won’t support impeachment, which has triggered talk of a liberal primary challenger.

Mr. Van Drew was one of two House Democrats who opposed the investigation into Mr. Trump. That stance has made him the target of sharp criticism from progressive activists and protests outside his district office. Perhaps more notable, his state’s machine-aligned Democratic leaders have also gone public with their own discomfort over his stance.

Dec. 13

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell’s vow of ‘total coordination’ with White House on Senate trial angers Democrats, Mike DeBonis, Dec. 13, 2019. "I think it was pretty bad for who is mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedessentially the foreman of the jury to announce the verdict,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.). In a late Thursday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, McConnell (R-Ky.), right, all but guaranteed a Trump acquittal, saying there was “zero chance” the president would be removed from office, and promised “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team.

“The case is so darn weak coming over from the House,” he said. “We all know how it’s going to end.”

Those remarks infuriated House Democrats as they voted to advance the fourth-ever set of presidential impeachment articles toward a Senate trial where, they said, the fix appeared to be in.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Democracy Grief Is Real, Michelle Goldberg, right, Dec. 13, 2019. Seeing what Trump is doing to America, many find it hard to fight off despair. Lately, I think I’m experiencing democracy grief. For anyone who was, like me, born after the civil rights movement finally made democracy in America real, liberal democracy has always been part of the climate, as easy to take for granted as clean air or the changing of the seasons. When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term, the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Agree on One Thing: They’re Very, Very Nervous, Sarah Lyall, Dec. 13, 2019. “Trump anxiety disorder” has morphed into anxiety about everything for America’s Democrats. Impeachment isn’t helping. The past three years have not been easy for the political fortunes or the emotional health of America’s Democrats. To the extent they feel optimistic about anything, they have been waiting for the 2020 election in the way inhabitants of a storm-ravaged city might look toward the end of hurricane season — as an democratic donkey logoopportunity to restore order not just to their fractured physical world, but to their battered psyches.

Why, then, even with the potential catharsis of impeachment proceedings against President Trump underway, do so many feel so awful?

“My big fear is that we are not coalescing around one candidate, and I don’t know in the end if there’s enough people who will come out and vote,” said Mac Macnair, a Democrat who lives in a deep-red county in rural Georgia. “Four years is as long as I can go, but eight years — we won’t even have an America left.”

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Party That Ruined the Planet, Paul Krugman, right, Dec. 13, 2019. Republican climate denial is even scarier than Trumpism. revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didn’t see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you weren’t paying attention.

No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of America’s two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, it’s hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Trump Weaponized the Justice Department’s Inspector General, James B. Stewart, Dec. 13, 2019. The president and his allies have turned investigations into a political tool for use against their enemies. In his report on the origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation, and in testimony before Congress on Wednesday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz of the Department of Justice demolished President Trump’s most sensational allegations about the Russia inquiry: He concluded that the opening of Justice Department log circularthe investigation was lawful and legitimate, that there was no improper “spying” on the Trump campaign and that the F.B.I. wasn’t part of some “deep state” conspiracy to overthrow the president.

That hardly stopped Mr. Trump and his allies. The report “was far worse than expected,” the president asserted — after already predicting it would be “devastating.” “This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught, they got caught red-handed,” Mr. Trump said in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

Attorney General William Barr was quick to pile on, too: “The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U. S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” he said in a Justice Department statement.

Dec. 12

Selected Global Headlines

greta thunberg charles lindbergh time covers

Pioneering aviator and folk hero Charles Lindbergh, then 25, Time's previous youngest "Person of the Year," and Greta Thunberg, 16.

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: House Judiciary Committee Debating Articles of Impeachment, Michael D. Shear, Dec. 12, 2019. Lawmakers are putting the last touches on articles accusing President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Watch live and follow our reporters’ analysis.

djt nancy pelosiThe chairman of the Judiciary Committee offered an amendment to the impeachment articles, spelling out the “John” in Donald J. Trump, which allows him U.S. House logoto more tightly control the debate on charges that Mr. Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee moved quickly to try to kill the articles of impeachment against President Trump as the markup got underway, condemning the process as unfair to the president.

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, offered the first amendment of the day, seeking to strike Article I, which accuses the president of abuse of power. Mr. Jordan said his amendment “strikes Article I, because Article I ignores the truth.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats brace for some defections among moderates, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Dec. 12, 2019. Some Democrats in swing districts are concerned a vote to impeach President Trump could cost them their seats in November. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: William Barr is unfit to be attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., Dec. 12, 2019 (print ed.).

Palmer Report, Opinion: Wishful Thinking, Bill Palmer, Dec. 12, 2019. The last thing Mitch McConnell wants is for Trump’s impeachment trial to land in his lap at bill palmer report logo headerall. There’s no good way for him to handle it. Sure, he’s going to acquit Trump (unless some smoking gun or first hand witness surfaces in the mean time).

djt mitch mcconnell CustomBut if McConnell, shown at right, holds a very short trial before acquitting Trump, he runs the risk of leaving moderate voters with the impression that Senate Republicans didn’t take the process seriously and should thusly be punished in the 2020 election. If McConnell tries to mount some ridiculous defense of Trump, then he risks leaving those same voters with the impression that Senate Republicans are just as guilty as Trump is.

There’s no good way for Mitch McConnell to handle this, and he knows it. So he’s doing the one thing he’s particularly good at: posturing. He keeps floating a bunch of different impeachment trial scenarios, all under the guise that he and the Senate Republicans are somehow going to magically come out better off for it.

ny times logoNew York Times, From Nixon to Trump, Zoe Lofgren Is Democrats’ Memory on Impeachment, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Dec. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Ms. Lofgren, Democrat of California, is the lone Judiciary Committee member to have participated in all three modern impeachments.

zoe lofgren headshot CustomIn the summer of 1974, a young law student named Zoe Lofgren, working for a member of the House Judiciary Committee, drafted what she thought was an ill-advised article of impeachment charging President Richard M. Nixon with usurping the power of Congress by concealing the bombing of Cambodia.

The committee rejected it. “It didn’t pass and it shouldn’t have passed,” Ms. Lofgren said.

Now Ms. Lofgren, left, is Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a senior lawmaker on the judiciary panel and the panel’s only member to have participated in all three modern presidential impeachments. And much like 45 years ago, she has emerged as a voice of restraint as her party barrels toward a divisive and partisan impeachment of President Trump.

Climate Change

greta thunberg charles lindbergh time covers

Time Magazine, Greta Thunberg Is the Youngest Time Person of the Year Ever. Here’s How She Made History, Lily Rothman, Dec. 11, 2019. With her selection in 2019, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg becomes the youngest individual ever to be named Time’s Person of the Year. While the franchise has a long record of recognizing the power of young people, the editors have never before selected a teenager. Before 2019, the previous individual to hold the record for youngest Person of the Year was the first Person of the Year in Time’s history: 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh, (shown above with her) and selected as most influential man of 1927.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump mocks 16-year-old Greta Thunberg a day after she is named Time’s Person of the Year, John Wagner​, Dec. 12, 2019. President Trump mocked Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old climate activist, calling her distinction as Time magazine’s Person of the Year “ridiculous” Thursday and suggesting that she work on anger-management issues and go to a movie with a friend.

Trump’s advice, in a morning tweet, came a day after Thunberg, who has mobilized millions of people to fight climate change and condemned leaders’ inaction, became the youngest person to be dubbed Person of the Year by Time.

Trump was responding to a tweet congratulating Thunberg by Roma Downey, an actress and producer from Northern Ireland. Her production credits include the History Channel miniseries “The Bible,” which she also starred in as Mary, mother of Jesus.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Executive Order and the Rise of Anti-Semitism, Editorial Board, Dec. 12, 2019. The president’s campus intervention ignores the bigger threat of anti-Semitism and threatens speech. Last year, anti-Semitic attacks killed more Jews around the globe than in any year in decades. Worshipers were gunned down during Saturday services at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. Attackers took the lives of a Jewish college student in California and a Holocaust survivor in France. German Jews were cautioned not to wear skullcaps or Stars of David on the street.

The tides of anti-Semitism continue to rise higher, and more government action is sorely needed. The Department of Homeland Security’s recent strategy shift to focus on the growing threat of white nationalist terrorism was an important step. On Wednesday, President Trump stepped in himself — but he did as much to stir the waters as he did to settle them.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses by using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to withhold federal money from schools that fail to counter discrimination against Jews. Similar congressional legislation has had bipartisan support, and previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have taken similar actions to prevent hate and discrimination.

While Mr. Trump’s action might seem like a gesture of real concern, it does little to target the larger source of violent anti-Semitism in America and possibly threatens free speech rights.

Dec. 11

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Unveil Articles of Impeachment Against Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Dec. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Charges Are Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. Lawmakers said that President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, violated the Constitution.

djt nancy pelosiThe move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for the fourth time in American history. House Democratic leaders announced on Tuesday that they would move ahead this week with two articles of impeachment against President Trump charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, accusing him of violating the Constitution when he pressed Ukraine for help in the 2020 election.

Speaking from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of several key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.

democratic donkey logo“Our president holds the ultimately public trust,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security.”

The announcement comes a day after Democrats summed up the central allegations in their impeachment case against Mr. Trump: that he pressured Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding as leverage a coveted White House meeting for its president and $391 million in critical security assistance. His actions, they argued in a lengthy hearing at the Judiciary Committee, had placed the president’s personal political interests above those of the country, threatening the integrity of the election and national security in the process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Day of history accentuates distortions of truth in the Trump era, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, Dec. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The House Democrats’ march to impeach President Trump and the president’s continuing war with the FBI characterized the strained state of the nation.

For only the fourth time in the nation’s history, congressional leaders on Tuesday put forward articles of impeachment against a president, but that milestone was the most predictable of events on a day that accentuated the degree to which the institutions of government are under stress and the citizens they serve are in conflict.

Amid the partisan breakdown over President Trump’s conduct in office, there was a rare statement of progress: a deal to cement a new U.S. trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the only substantial legislative breakthrough of the year and one long sought by the president.

But in today’s hyper-polarized environment, agreement among elected leaders — once considered the norm — is now the anomaly. Instead, the House Democrats’ march to impeach Trump and the president’s continuing war with the FBI over the origins of the Russia investigation more clearly characterized the strained state of the nation and the rising prominence of distorting facts for political gain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment live updates: House Judiciary panel poised to debate articles of impeachment against Trump tonight, John Wagner and Elise Viebeck, Dec. 11, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee is poised to start weighing articles of impeachment Wednesday accusing President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, with both parties girding for a spirited debate about his conduct toward Ukraine.

Trump is just the fourth president in U.S. history to face the prospect of such a sanction for misconduct in office, which could be approved by next week on the House floor.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lashes Out at F.B.I. Director Over Report on Russia Inquiry, Eileen Sullivan, Dec. 11, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump suggested he lacked confidence in the F.B.I. director because the director did not share his view of a long-awaited inspector general report.

President Trump snapped at his F.B.I. director on Tuesday for not agreeing with his interpretation of a highly anticipated government watchdog report about the early stages of the Russia investigation.

I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019

christopher wray officialThe F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, right, said Monday that he agreed with the Justice Department’s inspector general’s conclusion that the F.B.I. agents were right to open an investigation into whether Russia was working with anyone on the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election. He also outlined 40 tasks his agency must complete based on the inspector general’s recommendations.

Mr. Trump and some of his allies saw the dense report as proof that their conspiracy theories were in fact true. The president has claimed for years that the Russia investigation was a witch hunt pursued by “deep state” bureaucrats who do not support him politically. Related story below:

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr sharpens attacks on FBI’s Russia probe, dismaying some in his department, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The attorney general’s comments drew condemnations from some involved in the case, and those inside the Justice Department privately worried he might be undercutting faith in federal law enforcement to please President Trump.

FBI logoPresident Trump on Tuesday blasted the FBI as “badly broken,” and suggested Director Christopher A. Wray may not have the right attitude to fix it, alarming current and former law enforcement officials who want to safeguard the bureau’s independence.

Trump took aim at Wray’s reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report that found serious failures in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016, but no politically motivated conspiracy to harm the president.

“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” Trump tweeted. “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”

U.S. Justice Internal Probe

washington post logomichael horwitz headshotWashington Post, Watchdog details internal tensions over FBI’s probe of Trump, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, Dec. 11, 2019. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, right, said U.S. Attorney John Durham failed to convince him that the FBI's 2016 investigation of the Trump campaign was improperly opened. When the inspector general's report was released, Durham issued an unusual statement saying he did not agree with Horowitz’s conclusion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A guide to the misleading spin on the IG report, Glenn Kessler, Dec. 11, 2019. When an official government report disrupts a political narrative, it’s exceedingly rare for politicians to admit error. They either play down the new information — or stick with the original script.

Justice Department log circularThat’s what happened after the release of the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the origin of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

The 434-page report disputed long-held GOP claims that a “dossier” of salacious material originally commissioned by Democrats triggered the probe and that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign.

But the body of the report, issued by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, also raises questions about a memo released in 2018 by Democrats that defended four applications the FBI made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The report found 17 “significant errors or omissions” in the FISA applications, but the Democratic memo had asserted the FBI did not “abuse” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process or “omit material information.”

In response to the report, Republicans often falsely suggested that it confirmed what it actually disputed about the origin of the probe. If Democrats acknowledged the FISA abuses, they sidestepped their own role in suggesting the FBI had played it straight.

christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Ivanka Trump and "The Spy Who Loved Me?" Wayne Madsen, Dec. 11, 2019. One of the most unexpected revelations in the Ivankalong-awaited report by the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the department's and FBI's handling of the counter-intelligence investigation involving foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign was the previous close relationship between the author of the "Steele Dossier" and Ivanka Trump, Donald John Trump's "daughter-wife."

The IG report's disclosure of a previous close "personal" relationship between Steele, right, and Ms. Trump, left, threw cold water on White House accusations that Steele was biased against Trump when he compiled his dossier detailing Russian oligarch involvement with Donald Trump and his Trump Organization.

Palmer Report, The real reason Nancy Pelosi is hedging her bets, Bill Palmer, Dec. 11, 2019. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi introduced two tightly focused articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on Tuesday, when she could have brought as little as one, or as many as a dozen. She was going to take heat for it from the media pundits, who never seem to understand (or purposely misinterpret for the sake of ratings) her most shrewd of moves. She was also going to take heat for it from those within the Resistance who are more interested in kicking Trump in the face than they are in winning. But her reason for doing it this way is just so plainly obvious.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House, the pundits (and the fatalists within the Resistance) spent several months working themselves into a pretzel to try to make the argument that because Pelosi hadn’t yet announced impeachment, she was never going to announce it. They completely cast aside the obvious scenario in which Pelosi was keeping her options open, seeing how things shifted, and waiting for the precise right time with the best odds of damaging Trump. Sure enough, that’s what she was doing all along, because of course that’s what she was doing. But it caught most people by surprise, because they’d had it drummed into them that impeachment was never going to happen because it hadn’t already happened.

djt nancy pelosiNow the pundits are presenting us with a new false dichotomy: if Nancy Pelosi didn’t bring a certain article of impeachment against Donald Trump today, she’ll never bring it. Once again, this is missing the obvious. Pelosi inked the two articles of impeachment on Tuesday because she wants to keep impeachment momentum moving forward. These two will be voted on soon, and before Congress heads into holiday recess, Trump will have been officially impeached. Mission accomplished.

But Pelosi and the House Democrats are still fighting fierce battles over Donald Trump’s tax returns, the redacted portions of the Mueller report, and the testimony of people like Don McGahn and John Bolton. Do you think they’re fighting those battles just for kicks? Pelosi knows she’ll win all of these battles. But because the courts move at a slow and unpredictable pace, she doesn’t yet know which if any of them she’ll win soon enough to effectively use against Trump during this election cycle. By January, she should start to get some answers on this.

Dec. 10

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

No Anti-Trump Plot: IG

Inside DC

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The case for impeachment, There is abundant evidence of the president’s abuse of power on Ukraine, Editorial Board, Dec. 10, 2019. The House of Representatives is moving toward a momentous decision about whether to impeach a president for only the third time in U.S. history. The charges brought against President Trump by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday are clear: that he abused his office in an attempt to induce Ukraine’s new president to launch politicized investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign, and that he willfully obstructed the subsequent congressional investigation.

Donald TrumpBecause of that unprecedented stonewalling, and because House Democrats have chosen to rush the impeachment process, the inquiry has failed to collect important testimony and documentary evidence that might strengthen the case against the president. Nevertheless, it is our view that more than enough proof exists for the House to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, based on his own actions and the testimony of the 17 present and former administration officials who courageously appeared before the House Intelligence Committee.

We believe Mr. Trump should receive a full trial in the Senate, and it is our hope that more senior officials will decide or be required to testify during that proceeding, so that senators, and the country, can make a fair and considered judgment about whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office. We have reserved judgment on that question. What is important, for now, is that the House determine whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted an abuse of power meriting his impeachment and trial.

No Anti-Trump Plot: IG

ny times logoNew York Times, Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors But Debunks Anti-Trump Plot, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Dec. 10, 2019 (print ed.). A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general ("IG") delivers scathing critique of F.B.I.’s handling of wiretap application but also punctures many conspiracy theories.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department inspector general on Monday broadly rejected President Trump’s accusations about the F.B.I.’s conduct during the Russia investigation. A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general released on Monday sharply criticized the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation but exonerated former bureau leaders of President Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him.

michael horwitz headshotInvestigators uncovered no evidence of political bias behind official actions related to the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, the 434-page report said. The F.B.I. had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to lawfully open the investigation, and its use of informants to approach campaign aides followed procedures, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, determined.

But Mr. Horowitz, right, also uncovered substantial dysfunction, carelessness and serious errors in one part of the sprawling inquiry: the F.B.I.’s applications for court orders approving a wiretap targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. He found that one low-ranking F.B.I. lawyer altered a related document and referred the lawyer for possible prosecution.

FBI logoGiven the highly fraught context of investigating someone linked to a presidential campaign, the report said, the Crossfire Hurricane investigators knew their work would be scrutinized — yet they nevertheless “failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the Carter Page FISA applications were ‘scrupulously accurate.’”

The findings on the wiretap application showed that when it mattered most — with the stakes the greatest and no room for error — F.B.I. officials still made numerous and serious mistakes in wielding a powerful surveillance tool. Mr. Horowitz’s discovery calls into question the bureau’s surveillance practices in routine cases without such high-stakes political implications.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr Publicly Challenges Watchdog Report, Katie Benner, Dec. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General Bill Barr’s dismissal of a major finding of the report reasserted his willingness to act as President Trump’s vocal defender. Attorney General William P. Barr sharply criticized on Monday the F.B.I.’s decision to open the Russia investigation, undercutting a major finding in a long-awaited watchdog report and at the same time showing his willingness to act as President Trump’s vocal defender.

william barr new oThe report, by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, found that the F.B.I. had adequate reason in 2016 to open an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia. Mr. Horowitz broadly rejected Mr. Trump’s allegations that F.B.I. officials conspired to sabotage his campaign, but Mr. Barr, right, highlighted findings that underscored his and the president’s shared view that investigators were nonetheless overly invasive in scrutinizing people associated with a presidential campaign.

“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.

john durham CustomJohn H. Durham, left, a federal prosecutor whom Mr. Barr appointed to run a separate criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, backed Mr. Barr’s findings in his own highly unusual statement. “Last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened,” Mr. Durham said.

The statements from the Justice Department’s top official and one of his key investigators gave Mr. Trump’s supporters ammunition to dispute one of the key findings in the long-awaited report by Mr. Horowitz that excoriated the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation.

While the report was searing in its conclusion that the wiretap application process was marked with errors, it exonerated former bureau leaders of accusations by the president and his allies that Mr. Trump was the victim of a politicized conspiracy to sabotage his campaign and his presidency.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Another Inquiry Doesn’t Back Up Trump’s Charges. So, on to the Next, Mark Mazzetti, Dec. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Trump and his allies followed a script: Create expectations of finding a “deep state” campaign against him, and when no proof emerges, skew the results and move on.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Inspector general to testify about FBI’s probe of Trump campaign, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian​, Dec. 10, 2019. michael horwitz headshotJustice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, right, is testifying Wednesday about his findings that the FBI investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign featured “serious performance failures” but was not motivated by political bias.

The inspector general’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee comes amid a tense standoff among senior government officials over the 434-page report analyzing the FBI investigation in 2016 to determine if anyone in the Trump campaign was conspiring with Russia to interfere in the presidential election.

“We did not find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations,” Horowitz said in his written testimony to the committee. But his report also found failures up and down the chain of command, “including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed.”

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI felt it had hit a ‘tipping point’ before investigating Trump campaign, inspector general found, Shane Harris, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman​, Dec. 10, 2019 (print ed.). A tip from a trusted ally about possible Russian assistance with Trump’s campaign shook FBI officials, who were already tracking suspected Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The FBI had barely closed a politically volcanic investigation into Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when it got a troubling tip about her rival’s presidential campaign.

FBI logoOn July 28, 2016, the bureau received information from an Australian diplomat, who said a Donald Trump campaign aide had “suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia” that Moscow could anonymously release damaging information about Clinton, according to the long-awaited Justice Department inspector general’s report released Monday.

The tip, vague as it was, shook senior FBI officials, who were already investigating suspected Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, including the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee. Three days later, the FBI took the momentous decision to open a counterintelligence investigation of a presidential campaign, as the election season entered the home stretch.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: FBI Director Christopher A. Wray isn’t playing along, Aaron Blake, ​Dec. 10, 2019. Wray, right, said there was "no indication" that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 christopher wray officialelection, directly contradicting President Trump. He also conspicuously urged people to be savvier consumers of information.

To watch the latest impeachment hearing Monday, you’d think the idea that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election has long been a GOP article of faith, rather than a debunked conspiracy theory. As with so many other conspiracy theories favored by President Trump, it was initially shunned by his allies, but then it became necessary to embrace in order to defend him. Eventually, they just decided not to fight it anymore. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is even lending legitimacy to the argument.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, though, isn’t playing along. He made a significant stand against this talking point Monday, and apparently it has put his relationship with Trump on ice.

In an interview with ABC News, Wray declared there was “no indication” that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. And then he went a step further: He urged people to be savvier consumers of news.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ivanka Trump was friends with former British spy Christopher Steele, according to person familiar with the situation, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Dec. 10, 2019 (print ed.). The former British spy who authored several reports alleging links between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign had been a personal friend of Trump’s Ivankadaughter Ivanka, a relationship that he said made him “favorably disposed” to the Trump family.

christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedThe previously unknown friendship between former intelligence officer Christopher Steele and Ivanka Trump was alluded to in a new report released Monday by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which said Steele had “been friendly” with a Trump family member, a relationship he described as “personal.”

Steele, right, told investigators he had visited the Trump family member at Trump Tower in New York and had once gifted the person a family tartan from Scotland.

djt william barr doj photo march 2019Palmer Report, Opinion: What the heck did Bill Barr just do? Bill Palmer, Dec. 10, 2019. The big headline yesterday was that the Department of Justice Inspector General announced that the FBI was fully justified in its criminal investigation of the Donald Trump 2016 campaign, meaning Attorney General Bill Barr, right, utterly failed at his task of getting the IG to falsely claim that Trump was maliciously sabotaged by the FBI. But in a profoundly surreal twist, Barr also did something that was frankly just plain weird.

bill palmer report logo headerJust before the DOJ Inspector General report was released, the New York Times revealed that while the report had originally blacked out certain personal details about Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele, Bill Barr had decided at the last minute to go ahead and include those details in the public release. Considering Barr’s established pattern of trying to help Trump at any cost, we were all expecting these details to be things that made Steele look bad.

christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedBut then the report was released and it turned out that that the “details” involved Ivanka Trump once having tried to hire Christopher Steele, right, to work for the Trump Organization several years ago, and the two of them having since maintained a personal relationship. Wait, what? It’s not that anything surprises us anymore when it comes to the sheer utter weirdness of Donald Trump’s cascading scandals. But why on earth would Bill Barr have decided to make this information public, after the DOJ IG decided to redact it?

Dec. 9

No Anti-Trump Plot: Inspector General

ny times logoNew York Times, Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors But Debunks Anti-Trump Plot, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Dec. 9, 2019. A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general delivers scathing critique of F.B.I.’s handling of wiretap application but also punctures many conspiracy theories.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department inspector general on Monday broadly rejected President Trump’s accusations about the F.B.I.’s conduct during the Russia investigation. A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general released on Monday sharply criticized the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation but exonerated former bureau leaders of President Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him.

michael horwitz headshotInvestigators uncovered no evidence of political bias behind official actions related to the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, the 434-page report said. The F.B.I. had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to lawfully open the investigation, and its use of informants to approach campaign aides followed procedures, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, determined.

But Mr. Horowitz, right, also uncovered substantial dysfunction, carelessness and serious errors in one part of the sprawling inquiry: the F.B.I.’s applications for court orders approving a wiretap targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. He found that one low-ranking F.B.I. lawyer altered a related document and referred the lawyer for possible prosecution.

FBI logoGiven the highly fraught context of investigating someone linked to a presidential campaign, the report said, the Crossfire Hurricane investigators knew their work would be scrutinized — yet they nevertheless “failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the Carter Page FISA applications were ‘scrupulously accurate.’”

The findings on the wiretap application showed that when it mattered most — with the stakes the greatest and no room for error — F.B.I. officials still made numerous and serious mistakes in wielding a powerful surveillance tool. Mr. Horowitz’s discovery calls into question the bureau’s surveillance practices in routine cases without such high-stakes political implications.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr Publicly Challenges Watchdog Report, Katie Benner, Dec. 9, 2019. Attorney General Bill Barr’s dismissal of a major finding of the report reasserted his willingness to act as President Trump’s vocal defender. Attorney General William P. Barr sharply criticized on Monday the F.B.I.’s decision to open the Russia investigation, undercutting a major finding in a long-awaited watchdog report and at the same time showing his willingness to act as President Trump’s vocal defender.

william barr new oThe report, by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, found that the F.B.I. had adequate reason in 2016 to open an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia. Mr. Horowitz broadly rejected Mr. Trump’s allegations that F.B.I. officials conspired to sabotage his campaign, but Mr. Barr, right, highlighted findings that underscored his and the president’s shared view that investigators were nonetheless overly invasive in scrutinizing people associated with a presidential campaign.

“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.

john durham CustomJohn H. Durham, left, a federal prosecutor whom Mr. Barr appointed to run a separate criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, backed Mr. Barr’s findings in his own highly unusual statement. “Last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened,” Mr. Durham said.

The statements from the Justice Department’s top official and one of his key investigators gave Mr. Trump’s supporters ammunition to dispute one of the key findings in the long-awaited report by Mr. Horowitz that excoriated the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation.

While the report was searing in its conclusion that the wiretap application process was marked with errors, it exonerated former bureau leaders of accusations by the president and his allies that Mr. Trump was the victim of a politicized conspiracy to sabotage his campaign and his presidency.

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Afghan Scandals Revealed

afghanistan map world

washington post logoWashington Post, The Afghanistan Papers: U.S. officials misled public about Afghan war, confidential documents reveal, Craig Whitlock, Dec. 9, 2019. Insiders detail what went wrong in longest armed conflict in U.S. history. A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.

In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.

With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

• For nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, U.S. leaders have sounded a constant refrain: We are making progress. They were not, documents from government interviews show, and they knew it.

• The Post obtained records from more than 400 of the interviews after a three-year legal battle. The documents reveal that people who were directly involved in the war could not shake their doubts about the strategy and mission.

Explore the documents by topic: Spin; Strategy; Nation-building; Corruption; Security forces; Opium.

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Lawyer for Democrats makes case for impeaching Trump on abuse of power, obstruction, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Dec. 9, 2019. The 41-member judiciary panel is holding a crucial hearing at which counsel for Democrats and Republicans will present evidence about the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

U.S. House logoA lawyer for Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee offered a summary of the case for impeaching President Trump on Monday, saying the president abused his power when he pressured Ukraine to investigate political rivals and obstructed the probe by blocking testimony from key officials.

The statement from Barry H. Berke came early in a crucial hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, later argued that Trump did not do anything that merits impeachment. The panel is now hearing evidence from lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee — Daniel S. Goldman for the Democrats and Castor again for the Republicans.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

daniel goldman stephen castor nbc headshots

House Intelligence Committee Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman, left, and Republican Counsel Stephen Castor (NBC News photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawyer for Democrats calls Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he argues case for removal, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Dec. 9, 2019. The 41-member judiciary panel is holding a crucial hearing at which counsel for Democrats and Republicans will present evidence about the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

A lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump “a clear and present danger” as he summarized the party’s case for impeaching him for having abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation into his conduct in Ukraine.

daniel goldman CustomThe testimony from Daniel S. Goldman, right, came amid a crucial hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, called impeachment “baloney” and said Democrats had failed to make a clear and compelling case.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 early takeaways from the House Judiciary impeachment hearing, Amber Phillips, Dec. 9, 2019. Democrats are pushing back against criticism of their timeline, and Republicans against the impeachment process.

We could see articles of impeachment against President Trump this week. The precursor to those was a hearing Monday in the House Judiciary Committee in which impeachment investigators explained the evidence they have gathered against Trump.

Here are four early takeaways:

1. Democrats are using Giuliani to push back on timeline critiques. Democrats appear to recognize that the timeline is a point of contention, so they are starting to talk more about why they are in a rush. What they say is, essentially: Yeah, we’re moving fast, but it’s because we have to. Trump asked a foreign government to interfere in our election by investigating Democrats, and that election is less than a year away.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason House Republicans are still using this idiot Steve Castor, Bill Palmer, Dec. 9, 2019. House impeachment hearings resumed today, as the House Intelligence Committee presents its findings to the House Judiciary Committee. House Republicans, who were utterly failed by counsel Steve Castor last time around, and now instead relying on… Steve Castor? Wait, that can’t be right.

bill palmer report logo headerSteve Castor may be good at other things in life. But when it comes to the specific task of arguing pro-Trump talking points in House impeachment proceedings, Castor is a complete idiot. In fairness, he has nothing to work with, as there is literally no evidence or testimony that helps Donald Trump’s case. But he’s proven to be so laughably bad at this, the Resistance is now rooting for him to start speaking and screw things up for the Republicans – if they can stand to get through his aggravating drivel without muting him. So why is he still there?

You’d think the House Republicans would go find someone else to take over the counsel role, right? But keep two things in mind. First, they know their entire case is nothing but dishonest drivel. They know they’re not going to change a single mind by pushing this crap. Why are they doing it? To keep Donald Trump happy. He hears this kind of gibberish bluster on television and thinks it somehow helps his case, because he’s that far removed from reality. So if Castor is still there, it’s because Trump stupidly wants him there.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Giuliani’s dual roles: Power-broker-for-hire and shadow foreign policy adviser, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, was on the phone in late 2018, pressing administration officials about his latest agenda item.

rudy giulianiPresident Trump had nominated a career Foreign Service officer to become the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, a key post in a Middle Eastern country with tricky regional relationships, an important U.S. military installation and vast oil reserves.

Giuliani, who has said he had held a cybersecurity contract with Qatar in 2017 and early 2018, proposed replacing her with someone he said would be a better fit — Scott W. Taylor, a Trump-supporting former congressman from Virginia defeated in his reelection bid in November 2018, according to people familiar with his outreach.

Giuliani’s previously unreported attempts to shape the pick for the U.S. envoy to Qatar are part of an un­or­tho­dox foreign policy portfolio he has carved out for himself while also working as a power-broker-for-hire with direct access to the president and top administration officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump business dealings argued in case over rarely tested emoluments clause, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell​, Dec. 9, 2019. Congress needs to pass a new law if it wants to prevent Trump from accepting payments from foreign governments through his business, DOJ tells a federal appeals court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial, Donald Trump Is Demeaning Congress, Editorial Board, Dec. 9, 2019 (print ed.).  The best course for the House is to present a case for impeachment focused on Ukraine and the danger to the 2020 elections. President Trump has now made obvious his contempt for the notion that Congress has any authority to hold him accountable. He has signaled that he won’t mount any defense to impeachment charges in the House over his scheming in Ukraine, insisting it is somehow beneath him to participate in a constitutional process.

If Mr. Trump is so clear in his own mind that he didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election, why won’t he send the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to testify under oath that there was no quid pro quo? Instead, he has issued a blanket refusal to allow officials of his administration to testify or submit documents demanded by Congress. His approach is pitting Republican House members’ fealty to him against their respect for their own institution. They are making a fateful choice to diminish the House.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Eight Counts of Impeachment That Trump Deserves, David Leonhardt, Dec. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The lessons from Nixon and Clinton. During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon — and voted down two of them. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the House voted on four articles — and rejected two.

That history serves as a reminder that impeachment is not a neat process. It’s a chance for Congress and voters to hear the evidence against a president and decide which rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

My own instincts have leaned toward a targeted, easily understandable case against President Trump, focused on Ukraine. And that may still be the right call. But the House shouldn’t default to it without considering a larger airing of Trump’s crimes against the Constitution. A longer process, with more attention on his misdeeds, seems unlikely to help Trump’s approval rating.

So last week I posed a question to legal experts: If the House were going to forget about political tactics and impeach Trump strictly on the merits, how many articles of impeachment would there be?

I think the answer is eight — eight thematic areas, most of which include more than one violation.

Dec. 8

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial, Donald Trump Is Demeaning Congress, Editorial Board, Dec. 8, 2019.  The best course for the House is to present a case for impeachment focused on Ukraine and the danger to the 2020 elections. President Trump has now made obvious his contempt for the notion that Congress has any authority to hold him accountable. He has signaled that he won’t mount any defense to impeachment charges in the House over his scheming in Ukraine, insisting it is somehow beneath him to participate in a constitutional process.

If Mr. Trump is so clear in his own mind that he didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election, why won’t he send the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to testify under oath that there was no quid pro quo? Instead, he has issued a blanket refusal to allow officials of his administration to testify or submit documents demanded by Congress. His approach is pitting Republican House members’ fealty to him against their respect for their own institution. They are making a fateful choice to diminish the House.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Eight Counts of Impeachment That Trump Deserves, David Leonhardt, Dec. 8, 2019. The lessons from Nixon and Clinton. During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon — and voted down two of them. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the House voted on four articles — and rejected two.

That history serves as a reminder that impeachment is not a neat process. It’s a chance for Congress and voters to hear the evidence against a president and decide which rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

My own instincts have leaned toward a targeted, easily understandable case against President Trump, focused on Ukraine. And that may still be the right call. But the House shouldn’t default to it without considering a larger airing of Trump’s crimes against the Constitution. A longer process, with more attention on his misdeeds, seems unlikely to help Trump’s approval rating.

So last week I posed a question to legal experts: If the House were going to forget about political tactics and impeach Trump strictly on the merits, how many articles of impeachment would there be?

I think the answer is eight — eight thematic areas, most of which include more than one violation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals courts are set to hear latest round of arguments regarding Trump’s private business interests, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, Dec. 8, 2019. As challengers return to court in the emoluments cases, they point to recent revelations about the president’s businesses to bolster their claims that he is illegally profiting through transactions with state and foreign governments.

Attorneys challenging President Trump’s private business dealings say ongoing revelations about his properties bolster claims that he is illegally profiting through transactions with state and foreign governments.

As challengers head back to court this week, their new court filings point to revelations that the Ukrainian president bragged in a July phone call with Trump about having stayed at Trump’s New York hotel before taking office in his homeland.

They also cite the administration’s decision to host next year’s G-7 summit at Trump’s Doral golf course — a choice abandoned after pointed criticism — as evidence of the president’s conflicts and disregard for boundaries laid out by the Constitution’s emoluments clauses.

Other recent reports could aid plaintiffs as well, including that the Secret Service spent more than $250,000 at Trump properties early in his administration and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) booked a room with state funds at the Trump D.C. hotel, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Appeals judges in Washington on Monday and in Richmond on Thursday are set to hear the latest round of pitched arguments that have been winding through the courts, with divergent opinions along the way, and now are one step below the Supreme Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Four ways Democratic presidential candidates can use impeachment to their advantage, Jennifer Rubin, right, jennifer rubin new headshotDec. 8, 2019. Democratic presidential candidates talk a lot less about impeachment than you would think. That perhaps is a function of their belief that President Trump and his hapless allies are doing enough damage on their own. Alternatively, they may believe that it is not a winning issue in the way, for example, health care may be.

Whether that is true now, they are likely to get a 2020 gift never before handed to the party out of the White House: a month-long impeachment trial in which Trump’s wrongdoing, recklessness and corruption are aired every day, all day, on every news channel. To quote Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), they better not screw this up.

First, the man who ran on “Lock her up!” (on Hillary Clinton’s noncriminal use of a home server) did something a lot worse: He intentionally used unsecured lines to avoid records being kept of his calls, knowing they would be picked up by enemies of the United States. He invited blackmail.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi has broken Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 8, 2019. It’s not as if Donald Trump ever has been particularly high functioning or well put together at any point during his time in politics. In fact, since he’s taken office, Trump has clearly been in steady cognitive decline. But something has happened these past few days in particular, and he’s now spiraling downward in the cognitive department. It’s not too difficult to parse what’s gone wrong for him.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Friday, Donald Trump held a meeting and announced in front of the television cameras that he had to flush the toilet ten or fifteen times. During that same meeting, he appeared to assert that he can control when it rains. On Saturday, Trump announced that he’s going to make it illegal for women to give birth during nancy pelosi djtthe ninth month of their pregnancies.

Donald Trump is now spiraling downward at a rate that’s almost painful to watch, even if you’re rooting for his downfall.

So what’s going on? All you have to do is look back to Thursday, when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that articles of impeachment will be formally brought against Trump. This means that no matter how much time he spends rationalizing about how he was somehow the greatest president ever, the reality is that he’ll go down as one of the few who got impeached. For a narcissist like him, it’s a bodyblow.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Instinct After Florida Killings Is to Protect Saudis, David E. Sanger, Dec. 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s first move was to convey the Saudi king’s condolences, and tamp down any suggestion that his government be held responsible.

President Donald Trump officialWhen a Saudi Air Force officer opened fire on his classmates at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, he killed three, wounded eight and exposed anew the strange dynamic between President Trump and the Saudi leadership: The president’s first instinct was to tamp down any suggestion that the Saudi government needed to be held to account.

Hours later, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had received a condolence call from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who clearly sought to ensure that the episode did not further fracture their relationship. On Saturday, leaving the White House for a trip here for a Republican fund-raiser and a speech on Israeli-American relations, Mr. Trump told reporters that “they are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” noting that “the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones.” He never used the word “terrorism.”

What was missing was any assurance that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer the many questions about the vetting process for a coveted slot at one of the country’s premier schools for training allied officers. Or, more broadly, why the United States continues to train members of the Saudi military even as that same military faces credible accusations of repeated human rights abuses in Yemen, including the dropping of munitions that maximize civilian casualties.

“The attack is a disaster for an already deeply strained relationship,” Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former C.I.A. officer who has dealt with generations of Saudi leaders, said on Saturday. It “focuses attention on Americans training Saudi Air Force officers who are engaged in numerous bombings of innocents in Yemen, which is the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world,” he said, noting that the Trump administration had long been fighting Congress as it seeks to end American support for that war.

But even stranger, said Mr. Riedel, was “the president’s parroting of the Saudi line” before learning the results of an investigation into whether the gunman acted alone, or had allegiances to Al Qaeda or terrorist groups.

Dec. 7

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Signals Trump Won’t Mount House Impeachment Defense, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Dec. 7, 2019 (print ed.). In a sharply worded letter, the White House counsel denounced the impeachment inquiry and called on Democrats to end it, or get it over with quickly.

The White House signaled on Friday that it did not intend to mount a defense of President Trump or otherwise participate in the House impeachment proceedings, sending Democrats a sharply worded letter that condemned the process as “completely baseless” and urged them to get it over with quickly.

pat cipollone file cropped“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade,” the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, left, wrote in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. “You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”

The two-paragraph letter did not explicitly say what Mr. Trump’s legal team planned to do, but it ended by quoting the president saying that the House should hold a swift vote on impeachment to speed the way for a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where White House officials believe Mr. Trump will have a better chance to mount a defense. People close to the White House said that it would take major concessions by Democrats for that position to change.

“Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our nation’s history,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.

That timetable also suits House Democrats, who have signaled they want to move quickly to impeach Mr. Trump before leaving Washington for Christmas.

The White House position clears the way for House committees to debate and approve impeachment articles as soon as next week, allowing a vote by the full House by Dec. 20, the final legislative day of the year. And it all but ensures that the president’s defense will not be heard before early January, when the Senate is expected to begin a trial to hear whatever case the House presents.

The White House stance is a departure from impeachments past. When the House moved to charge Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, their lawyers fully participated in the proceedings, including presenting lengthy defenses before the Judiciary Committee.

In the case of Mr. Trump, the president and his allies have complained for months that they deserve legal representation in the inquiry. Now, they are refusing an invitation to avail themselves.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani returns to Ukraine, signals apparent disregard for inquiry, Paul Sonne, Greg Miller and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 7, 2019 (print ed.). ​Current and former officials in Washington expressed astonishment at how President Trump’s private attorney — apparently on his behalf — seemed to be mocking investigators, if not the very idea that either he or his client should answer any articles of impeachment.

Even as the House of Representatives began drafting charges against President Trump this week, his private attorney, who many believe is partly responsible for leading Trump on the path to his likely impeachment, made an audacious trip to the country at the center of the scandal.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, right, departed Kyiv after meeting with a range of Ukrainians who have been feeding him unproven allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and helping construct a counternarrative that is taking hold in the Republican Party. The latter story line asserts that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, including with the baseless theory that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The purported purpose of the trip was to conduct interviews for a documentary on a right-wing media network. But Giuliani’s travel also appeared designed to send a broader and more brazen signal of the disregard that he and Trump have for the unfolding impeachment process.

Rudolph W. Giuliani departed Kyiv after meeting with a range of Ukrainians who have been feeding him unproven allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and helping construct a counternarrative that is taking hold in the Republican Party. The latter story line asserts that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, including with the baseless theory that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The purported purpose of the trip was to conduct interviews for a documentary on a right-wing media network. But Giuliani’s travel also appeared designed to send a broader and more brazen signal of the disregard that he and Trump have for the unfolding impeachment process.

• White House blasts inquiry, rejects invitation to participate in process as Trump focuses on Senate
• Analysis: What happened that mattered this week in the inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Phone records renew concerns over security of Trump’s calls, Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Dec. 7, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has routinely communicated with his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and other individuals speaking on cellphones vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services, current and former U.S. officials said.

President Donald Trump officialPhone records released this week by the House Intelligence Committee revealed extensive communications between Giuliani, unidentified people at the White House and others involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine, with no indication that those calls were encrypted or otherwise shielded from foreign surveillance.

The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said.

Dec. 6

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above 

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Signals Trump Won’t Mount House Impeachment Defense, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Dec. 6, 2019. In a sharply worded letter, the White House counsel denounced the impeachment inquiry and called on Democrats to end it, or get it over with quickly.

The White House signaled on Friday that it did not intend to mount a defense of President Trump or otherwise participate in the House impeachment proceedings, sending Democrats a sharply worded letter that condemned the process as “completely baseless” and urged them to get it over with quickly.

pat cipollone file cropped“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade,” the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, left, wrote in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. “You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”

The two-paragraph letter did not explicitly say what Mr. Trump’s legal team planned to do, but it ended by quoting the president saying that the House should hold a swift vote on impeachment to speed the way for a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where White House officials believe Mr. Trump will have a better chance to mount a defense. People close to the White House said that it would take major concessions by Democrats for that position to change.

“Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our nation’s history,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.

That timetable also suits House Democrats, who have signaled they want to move quickly to impeach Mr. Trump before leaving Washington for Christmas.

The White House position clears the way for House committees to debate and approve impeachment articles as soon as next week, allowing a vote by the full House by Dec. 20, the final legislative day of the year. And it all but ensures that the president’s defense will not be heard before early January, when the Senate is expected to begin a trial to hear whatever case the House presents.

The White House stance is a departure from impeachments past. When the House moved to charge Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, their lawyers fully participated in the proceedings, including presenting lengthy defenses before the Judiciary Committee.

In the case of Mr. Trump, the president and his allies have complained for months that they deserve legal representation in the inquiry. Now, they are refusing an invitation to avail themselves.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani returns to Ukraine, signals apparent disregard for inquiry, Paul Sonne, Greg Miller and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 6, 2019. ​Current and former officials in Washington expressed astonishment at how President Trump’s private attorney — apparently on his behalf — seemed to be mocking investigators, if not the very idea that either he or his client should answer any articles of impeachment.

Even as the House of Representatives began drafting charges against President Trump this week, his private attorney, who many believe is partly responsible for leading Trump on the path to his likely impeachment, made an audacious trip to the country at the center of the scandal.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, right, departed Kyiv after meeting with a range of Ukrainians who have been feeding him unproven allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and helping construct a counternarrative that is taking hold in the Republican Party. The latter story line asserts that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, including with the baseless theory that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The purported purpose of the trip was to conduct interviews for a documentary on a right-wing media network. But Giuliani’s travel also appeared designed to send a broader and more brazen signal of the disregard that he and Trump have for the unfolding impeachment process.

Rudolph W. Giuliani departed Kyiv after meeting with a range of Ukrainians who have been feeding him unproven allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and helping construct a counternarrative that is taking hold in the Republican Party. The latter story line asserts that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, including with the baseless theory that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The purported purpose of the trip was to conduct interviews for a documentary on a right-wing media network. But Giuliani’s travel also appeared designed to send a broader and more brazen signal of the disregard that he and Trump have for the unfolding impeachment process.

• White House blasts inquiry, rejects invitation to participate in process as Trump focuses on Senate
• Analysis: What happened that mattered this week in the inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Phone records renew concerns over security of Trump’s calls, Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Dec. 6, 2019. President Trump has routinely communicated with his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and other individuals speaking on cellphones vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services, current and former U.S. officials said.

President Donald Trump officialPhone records released this week by the House Intelligence Committee revealed extensive communications between Giuliani, unidentified people at the White House and others involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine, with no indication that those calls were encrypted or otherwise shielded from foreign surveillance.

The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said.

Palmer Report, New arrest made in relation to Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, Bill Palmer, Dec. 6, 2019. Thus far we’ve seen four people arrested in relation to Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, including Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Now we can add another name to the pile, as Ukraine has managed to arrest one of the people responsible for helping to manufacture the fake Biden scandal that was at the center of Donald Trump’s blackmail scheme.

bill palmer report logo headerFormer Ukrainian politician Oleksandr Onyshchenko was one of the people who helped make up the fake Biden scandal to begin with, before fleeing the country after he was exposed for embezzling funds. Now he’s finally been arrested in Germany. This is notable because as recently as a couple months ago, this guy was still spouting the exact same false Biden narrative that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been pushing.

It’s notable that Ukraine’s arrest of Onyshchenko comes as Rudy Giuliani is running around Ukraine and meeting with the most corrupt people in the country, in a last ditch effort at manufacturing phony evidence of his own innocence. It appears Ukraine is rushing to take down the kind of people Rudy is trying to conspire with, before he can get to them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi resisted Trump’s impeachment. Now she’s the public face, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Dec. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The speaker was skeptical of impeachment for months, considering it a political liability and preferring to focus on pocketbook issues. That changed with Trump’s phone call to Ukraine.

nancy pelosi djtDon’t expect these hearings to trigger a massive shift in public support toward ousting President Trump, Pelosi (D-Calif.) told her colleagues the night before the hearing, according to Democrats familiar with her warning who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the encounter frankly.

Those words of caution — delivered as House Intelligence Committee members prepared in the Capitol basement for the next day’s hearing — reflected the innate skepticism that has influenced her every move as she has guided her Democratic majority through a tumultuous moment in the nation’s history.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas is about to put Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani in prison, Bill Palmer, Dec. 6, 2019. This past week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff confirmed that Ukraine scandal henchman Lev Parnas has indeed been providing him with physical evidence in Donald Trump’s impeachment.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffLev Parnas, right, has begun negotiating a plea deal with the Feds at the SDNY, according to his attorney. This is a big deal for two reasons. First, by their very nature, federal plea deal negotiations start with a proffer session in which the suspect confesses to everything, so prosecutors can figure out how much they want to offer. Parnas’ proffer hasn’t happened yet. But ask any legal expert and they’ll tell you that once the proffer does happen, there’s basically no going back on a plea deal.

bill palmer report logo headerSecond, the SDNY is famous for only giving out cooperating plea deals to those who come fully clean about everything. In other words Lev Parnas can’t just, for instance, sell out Igor Fruman while protecting Rudy Giuliani. He has to give them all up. For that matter, Lev has already given apparently incriminating evidence against Trump and Rudy to the House, which has surely turned around and given it to the SDNY, so there’s almost no way that Lev can’t cut a plea deal against everyone at this point.

This is going to be huge, because it’ll give the SDNY enough evidence to make its case against Rudy Giuliani so overwhelmingly comprehensive, Donald Trump will have to hesitate about trying to pardon him. It also means that once Trump is no longer in office, the SDNY will already have a comprehensive criminal case waiting for him. At this rate the only question is whether the SDNY or New York State arrests Trump first on his way out of the White House. Trump and Rudy are both going to prison.

Trump Finances

Howe on Supreme Court via SCOTUSblog, Trump asks justices to block bank subpoenas, Amy Howe, Dec. 6, 2019. Shortly after 6 p.m., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put the 2nd Circuit’s ruling on hold until next Friday, December 13, at 5 p.m. Ginsburg’s order gives the justices time to rule on Trump’s request for a longer stay of the lower court’s decision while he files a petition for review. Ginsburg ordered the House of Representatives to file a response to Trump’s request by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 11.

Yesterday President Donald Trump filed a petition at the Supreme Court asking the justices to quash a subpoena to Mazars, his longtime accounting firm, for his financial records. The case is Trump’s second request in less than a month for the court’s help in his battle to shield his financial records and tax documents. At their private conference next week, the justices are scheduled to consider Trump’s petition for review of a lower-court ruling that would require him to turn over tax records to Manhattan’s district attorney, who is seeking them as part of a grand-jury investigation. This afternoon Trump added a third filing, this time asking the justices to block a lower-court ruling that upheld subpoenas for Trump’s financial records to Deutsche Bank, which has long been Trump’s biggest lender, and Capital One.

Trump went to court after the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, seeking to block the subpoenas on the ground that they go beyond the committees’ powers. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit largely upheld the subpoenas and ordered the banks to begin providing the documents by December 10.

Today Trump came to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to put the 2nd Circuit’s ruling on hold to give his lawyers time to file a petition for review of the decision. Trump complained that the committees had issued “dragnet” and “extraordinarily broad” subpoenas that do not serve the kind of “legitimate legislative purpose” that the Supreme Court has said is necessary. Instead, Trump wrote, the subpoenas are merely “an attempt to exercise executive power beyond Congress’s legislative reach and to expose” Trump’s “private records for the sake of exposure.” The questions before the Supreme Court, Trump concluded, are both significant and “straightforward”: “whether the President will be allowed to petition for review of an unprecedented demand for his personal papers, or whether he will be deprived of that opportunity because the Committees issued these subpoenas with no incentive to test their validity.”

Stressing the similarities between this case and the Mazars case, Trump urged the justices to follow their ruling in that case and put the 2nd Circuit’s decision on hold immediately (known as an “administrative stay”) until they can rule on his application for a stay, and then keep it on hold until he can file his petition for review. Without a stay, Trump warned, the banks will likely hand over the records, “irrevocably destroying” his “legal right to keep them confidential.”
Trump put the blame for today’s filing squarely on the House of Representatives.

Dec. 5

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above  nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings live updates: Pelosi asks committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, ​John Wagner​, Dec. 5, 2019. Pelosi, shown in a file photo above, says House will proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”

U.S. House logoHer address, in which she invoked principles espoused by the nation’s founders, came shortly after Trump went on Twitter to urge House Democrats to impeach him quickly, if they plan to do it, and suggested he would call an expansive list of witnesses during a trial in the Republican-led Senate.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that President Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

• Analysis: Democrats officially move to a new phase — actual impeachment of the president

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi has gone and done it, Bill Palmer, Dec. 5, 2019. This means we’re going to see full House hearings on impeachment. We’ll see House committees testifying to other House committees. We’ll see the full boat now. The hearings last for however long Nancy Pelosi thinks they should last, whether that be a few weeks or several months.

bill palmer report logo headerAnd yes, there will be a Senate impeachment trial after that – but don’t expect Pelosi to hand impeachment over to the Republican Senate until she’s exhausted every avenue for exposing Trump’s guilt and for convincing the American people that he and his apologists must be removed, thus forcing GOP Senators to think about whether their own individual political careers will be better off by convicting or acquitting him.

Nancy Pelosi knows what she’s doing. She demonstrated that, by waiting to announce the impeachment inquiry until the kind of evidence began emerging that would allow for the general public to get behind impeachment. Now she’s decided that today is the day to formally move into the articles of impeachment stage. For Donald Trump, today is a day of ignominy and worry. Going forward from here, every day of his presidency will be worse for him than the last. We’ll see if Pelosi can actually oust him, or if voters will have to do that in the election. But she sure is dismantling Trump in the process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr’s chosen prosecutor says he can’t back theory that Russia case was U.S. intelligence setup, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The john durham o portrait 2 croppedassertion from U.S. Attorney John Durham, right, to Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, could rebut conservatives’ doubts about the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation.

The prosecutor handpicked by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize how U.S. agencies investigated President Trump’s 2016 campaign said he could not offer Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)evidence to the Justice Department’s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence, people familiar with the matter said.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office contacted U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor Barr personally tapped to lead a separate review of the 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the people said. The inspector general also contacted several U.S. intelligence agencies.

Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory takes another hit — from two men he hailed, Aaron Blake, Dec. 5, 2019. President Trump has proclaimed it “perhaps the biggest scandal” in American history, and he has hailed the two men who would allegedly rip the lid off it. But more and more, it’s looking like they won’t deliver the scandalous finding he was counting on.

Trump has played up two probes into the origins of the Russia investigation — one by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and one by U.S. Attorney John Durham — and in both cases he has built up the men themselves. But Washington Post reports on both investigations now suggest the duo are not endorsing Trump’s chief conspiracy theory: that the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was an unfounded witch hunt.

The Post’s Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett reported Wednesday that Durham has told Horowitz he cannot endorse a theory espoused by Trump and other Republicans that the Russia investigation was some kind of setup — in Trump’s words, a “coup” — by U.S. intelligence to take Trump down:

Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

But the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets, the people said. And Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had not produced any evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s findings on that point.

Barrett, Zapotosky and The Post’s Ellen Nakashima also previously reported that Horowitz himself has concluded that a now-former FBI employee may have altered a document related to a warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, but that it didn’t change the fact that the probe had a proper legal and factual basis.

So right there, we have two investigators — who still might find some misconduct (Horowitz’s report is due out Monday, and Durham’s probe is an ongoing criminal one) — failing to find the kind of vast conspiracy that Trump has alleged.

And it’s worth noting just how much Trump has pushed that theory, and how much he has built up the two men who have apparently failed to substantiate it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr just suffered an ugly blow, Bill Palmer, Dec. 4, 2019. If you’ve had the misfortune to hear from the the average pro-Trump conspiracy theorist at any point over the past several months, you’ve surely heard them express confidence that a guy named John Durham was going to end up indicting and arresting every anti-Trump political figure out there. Why? Because Attorney General Bill Barr picked Durham to lead the sham investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.

bill palmer report logo headerBack in the real world, nothing in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s history suggested that he was going to be remotely willing to announce false findings or bring false criminal charges william barr new oin the name of propping up Donald Trump and Bill Barr, right. It was one thing for Durham to carry out the investigation, after Barr ordered him to. But Durham was always going to end up announcing that he didn’t find anything to support the lunatic theory that the FBI, CIA, Obama, and Hillary were all criminally conspiring to rig the 2016 election against Donald Trump.

Sure enough, the Washington Post is reporting tonight that John Durham has informed DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, left, that his investigation has found michael horwitz headshotnothing. We all saw this coming. Barr probably even saw it coming. After all, he ordered this sham investigation into Trump’s favorite phony conspiracy theories, because it’s what Trump wanted – and Barr is just trying to keep Trump happy enough to keep the door open for Barr to be pardoned on the dozens of felony obstruction of justice charges he’s facing once he’s no longer Attorney General.

Even though this was almost 100% predictable, it’s still an ugly blow for Bill Barr. He’ll now have to publicly argue that Donald Trump’s favorite lunatic conspiracy theories are true, even as his own handpicked federal prosecutor and his own Inspector General are publicly spelling out why these conspiracy theories are false. This helps to further erode whatever political muscle Barr had left. But that’s what tends to happen when an increasingly mentally unstable Trump forces his people to focus on self-defeating nonsense, instead of doing things that might actually have helped him and them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine lawmaker seeking Biden probe meets with Giuliani, David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon​, Dec. 5, 2019. Ukraine lawmaker seeking Biden probe meets with Giuliani, The president’s personal lawyer later said some U.S. aid to Ukraine could face “major obstacles” without investigations into Joe Biden.

President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani met Thursday in Ukraine with one of the key figures working to build a corruption case against Hunter Biden, the Ukraine lawmaker said, after posting Facebook photographs of himself with the former New York mayor.

Andriy Derkach said he pressed Giuliani on the need to set up a joint U.S.-Ukraine investigation into corruption in Ukraine at the meeting in Kyiv. Derkach also vowed to set up an anti-corruption group in the Ukraine parliament.

Giuliani did not make any immediate public comments on the meetings in Ukraine.

But in tweets hours later, he drew connections between future U.S. aid and investigations by Ukraine into former vice president Joe Biden — issues that are already at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Giuliani tweeted that U.S. assistance to Ukraine on anti-corruption reforms could face a “major obstacle” until the “conversation about corruption in Ukraine” is resolved. Giuliani alleged “compelling” evidence of criminal misdeeds by Biden, but gave no specifics.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Mocked Abroad and Assailed at Home, Peter Baker, Dec. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Trump Returns to Face Impeachment; The world stage was not so friendly this week for President Trump, who returned home to a grim couple of weeks ahead, our correspondent writes.

When times turn tough, presidents can hop on Air Force One to escape the country for a while and stride purposefully across the world stage. But the world stage was not so friendly this week for President Trump, who landed back in Washington on Wednesday night to confront a grim couple of weeks ahead.

Mocked by peers behind his back at a NATO meeting in London, Mr. Trump abruptly canceled a news conference and bolted early, only to fly home to a capital in the throes of judging whether he is fit for office. After hobnobbing with the queen, the president now faces the daunting likelihood that by Christmas he will become the third president impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The NATO meeting had seemed like an opportunity to demonstrate his global leadership like Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton sought to do with overseas trips during their own impeachment struggles. Scheduled long ago, the meeting allowed Mr. Trump and his allies to assail his domestic foes as “unpatriotic” for proceeding with an impeachment hearing while the commander in chief was overseas and gave him a chance to boast of his success in pressing the allies to invest more in defense.

But the visit was soured by a contentious meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France and a hot-mic video that captured other world leaders making fun of Mr. Trump. In response, a sullen president said one of the leaders caught talking on the video, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, was “two-faced,” and then slipped out of town without the scheduled wrap-up session with reporters, seemingly intent on not further spoiling the image of a successful visit.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that,’ Pelosi tells reporter who asked her whether she hates Trump, Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 5, 2019. In an extraordinary exchange, the House speaker told the reporter that as a Catholic, she was raised not to hate anyone and prays for the president “all the time.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had just concluded her weekly news conference Thursday and was about to exit the room when a reporter shouted out a question.

“Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?” James Rosen, a reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group, called out from a seat in the front row.

Most times, Pelosi ignores questions shouted at her in the hallways and briefing rooms of the Capitol. But Rosen’s query appeared to strike a nerve with Pelosi, who stopped in her tracks, turned to face the reporter and delivered an extraordinary rebuttal.

“I don’t hate anybody,” Pelosi said sternly, pointing her finger at Rosen, a reporter she has dismissed as “Mr. Republican Talking Points.” Pelosi then referenced her Catholic upbringing and told Rosen, “Don’t accuse me.”

“I did not accuse you,” the reporter shot back. “I asked a question.”

As the impeachment fight ramps up, President Trump and Republicans have increasingly made the argument that Democrats are pursuing their inquiry simply because they “hate” the president.

“As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me,” she said. “I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love, and [I] always pray for the president, and I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So, don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s anti-impeachment spin factory, Sarah Ellison, Dec. 5, 2019. From a bunker under the Oval Office, two temporary White House hires guide the president’s communications strategy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: How Professor Pamela S. Karlan carved up Donald Trump on live national television, Robert Harrington, Dec. 5, 2019. Professor Karlan was that rare thing: a scholar on fire. Of the four Constitutional scholars who were called to testify, and each in their own way was compelling, for my money Professor Pamela S. Karlan was the most impressive.

bill palmer report logo headerRanking member Doug Collins said in his opening statement, among other things, that Karlan and her colleagues, “couldn’t have possibly actually digested the Adam Schiff report from yesterday or the Republican response in any real way.” Karlan responded with appropriate indignance, “… here Mr. Collins I would like to say to you, sir, that I read every one of the live transcripts of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts. So I am insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts. But everything I read on those occasions tells me that when president Trump invited – indeed demanded – foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this a republic to which we pledge allegiance.”

She concluded, “Put simply, a president should resist foreign influence in our elections. Not demand it and not welcome it. If we are to keep faith with our Constitution and our Republic, president Trump must be held to account.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The House Should Go Big in Framing Impeachment Articles Against Trump, Carolyn Eisenberg (professor of U.S. history and foreign policy at Hofstra University), Dec. 5, 2019. Their findings and scope will reverberate through time and set the terms of possible reforms.

For House Democrats, there is a powerful temptation to narrow the grounds for impeachment. By adhering to a simple narrative about President Trump’s criminal actions in relation to Ukraine, they hope it will be easier to mobilize public support than if they levied a more complex set of charges.

In the impeachment of Richard Nixon, the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee faced a similar choice. Despite significant dissent, the committee ended up limiting itself to three articles of impeachment, all connected to the domestic crimes of Watergate.

But as House committee chairmen begin the process of drawing up articles of impeachment, it is worth considering that its findings and their scope will reverberate through time. Long after the next election, they will condition how Americans look upon this period of our history and what correctives might be found.

For Nixon’s impeachment, there was actually a fourth article of impeachment. It encompassed more serious offenses and incited intense debate among the members. Introduced by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, it charged the president with “the submission to the Congress of false and misleading statements concerning the existence, scope and nature of American bombing operations in Cambodia in derogation of the power of Congress to declare war, to make appropriations and to raise and support armies.”

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Perspective: Is this wall-to-wall media coverage pointless? Margaret Sullivan, right, Dec. 5, 2019. How should journalists respond to the stalemate, other than to keep doing exactly what they’ve been doing?

The hint of a possible solution appears in the tracking of public opinion on impeachment at Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, under the headline, “Plenty Of People Are Persuadable On Impeachment.”

Dec. 5

 Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt and Jonathan Turley , from left, abc

Law professors Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt and Jonathan Turley, left to right (ABC News).

The Nation, Opinion: The Republicans’ Star Impeachment Scholar Is a Shameless Hack, Elie Mystal, Dec. 5, 2019. Jonathan Turley’s testimony was so inconsistent, it contradicted his own previous statements on impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee held something like a national teach-in on impeachment yesterday. Democrats still believe they can counter the Republican strategy of lying to their base with the somber recitation of facts. So they brought in four legal scholars to explain the constitutional process of impeachment and talk about whether President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses.

Three of the professors agreed that Trump should be impeached: Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pam Karlan of Stanford Law School, and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law.

The fourth professor, requested by Republicans on the committee, was Jonathan Turley from George Washington University Law School. Republicans know that all they have to do to outflank the Democrats is serve up talking points Sean Hannity can use on his show. They tapped Turley to do the easy work of poisoning the well with more misinformation.

jonathan turleyTurley, right, did not disappoint. He told Republicans what they wanted to hear right from his opening statement: “I’m concerned about lowering impeachment standard to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments, but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments…. This would be the first impeachment in history where there would be considerable debate, and in my view, not compelling evidence, of the commission of a crime.”

Turley beclowned himself with his remarks, because this is not the first time Jonathan Turley has testified about impeachment. In 1998, testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment hearing, Turley said, “No matter how you feel about President Clinton, no matter how you feel about the independent counsel, by his own conduct, he has deprived himself of the perceived legitimacy to govern. You need both political and legal legitimacy to govern this nation, because the President must be able to demand an absolute sacrifice from the public at a moment’s notice.”

It’s impossible to explain the shameless hypocrisy of Turley’s conflicting statements without concluding that his testimony, in both hearings, was offered in bad faith.

Jonathan Turley is punking us. The only dangerous lowering of standards we saw at the hearing was the smuggling of Jonathan Turley onto a panel of experts, the rest of whom were able to testify with academic integrity.

Turley is a paid legal analyst for CBS News. He writes a column for The Hill. And he’s still a tenured professor at George Washington Law. That he was summoned to give such plainly conflicting testimony, and that he was willing to give it even as it directly contradicted his thoughts and writings about prior impeachments, perfectly exemplifies how legal elites and legacy media have failed to meet the challenge of the Donald Trump presidency.

There is simply no professional or societal downside for people like Turley in making these bad, intellectually dishonest arguments. Turley himself was a random environmental law wonk before he made himself famous during the Clinton impeachment years. He made the media rounds then, calling himself a “Democrat” who was willing to speak truth to power about the “serious” nature of Clinton’s misbehavior. Back then, Turley was lauded by people like Rush Limbaugh for demanding that Clinton’s own Secret Service agents be subpoenaed to testify about what they know.

You’ll note that Turley made no such demands yesterday of former national security adviser John Bolton or Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Instead of highlighting the fact that Trump is obstructing justice by refusing to allow these people to testify, Turley blamed the Democrats for moving too fast.

You don’t need a law degree to know that everything Jonathan Turley said yesterday was drenched in his own hypocrisy. His testimony was an attempt to distract and dissemble, offered at the behest of the Republican Party, which tapped him likely because it couldn’t find a legal scholar with less partisan baggage to make the same bad-faith arguments. Ken Starr or Jeanine Pirro would have been too obvious for the Republicans’ purposes; Turley’s the hack they call when they don’t want to look like they’re calling in a hack.

Elie Mystal is the executive editor of Above the Law and a contributing writer for "The Nation," as well as the legal editor of WNYC’s "More Perfect."

Dec. 4

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Trump Committed Impeachable Offenses, 3 Scholars Will Say, Michael D. Shear, Dec. 4, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee is debating whether to draft and approve articles of impeachment. Lawmakers are hearing from legal scholars about the constitutional basis for impeachment. Stay here for live video and updates.

U.S. House logoBut an expert invited by Republicans will argue that the case so far is “slipshod” and premature, during the first formal impeachment hearing in the Judiciary Committee. The panel kicked off what is likely to be a sharply partisan brawl over whether to draft and approve articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Lawmakers are making their opening statements as they prepare to hear from legal scholars about the constitutional basis for impeachment and whether Mr. Trump’s actions meet those standards.

djt rudy giuliani

Donald Trump and his counsel Rudoph Giuliani are shownin a file photo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Put His Interests Ahead of Country’s, Impeachment Report Finds, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Dec. 4, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats on Tuesday asserted that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election, releasing an impeachment report that found the president “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomThe report by the House Intelligence Committee was a sweeping indictment of the president’s behavior, concluding that he sought to undermine American democracy and endangered national security, then worked to conceal his actions from Congress. Democrats left it to another committee to decide whether to recommend Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but their report presented what are all but certain to be the grounds on which the House votes to formally charge him.

“The founding fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment,” it said.

The intelligence panel adopted it, strictly along partisan lines, hours after its release.

Though the committee indicated it would continue investigative work, the report’s release set in motion the next phase in the impeachment of Mr. Trump, accelerating a constitutional clash that has happened only three times in the nation’s history. Both parties are poised for a raucous debate in the House Judiciary Committee over whether to charge the president with high crimes and misdemeanors, the Constitution’s threshold for removal, and a likely partisan vote by the House to do so before Christmas.

The 300-page report provided some new details of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s frequent calls to the White House. But for the most part, it described the account that emerged over more than two months of sworn testimony from diplomats and other administration officials of how the president and his allies pressured Ukraine to announce investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats, while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Mysterious ‘-1’ and Other Call Records Show How Giuliani Pressured Ukraine, Sharon LaFraniere and Julian E. Barnes, Dec. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The Democrats’ impeachment report illustrates the work of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, in an irregular foreign policy.

Phone records cited in the impeachment report released Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee illustrate the sprawling reach of Mr. Giuliani’s campaign first to remove the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, then to force Ukraine’s new government to announce criminal investigations for Mr. Trump’s political gain.

That effort accelerated through the spring and summer into a full-court press to force Ukraine’s new president to accede to Mr. Trump’s wishes or risk losing $391 million in military assistance desperately needed to hold off Russian-led forces waging a separatist war in eastern Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Noah Feldman? Scholar Specializes in Constitutional Law, Eileen Sullivan, Dec. 4, 2019. Mr. Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School who has written widely about religion and the law, has said the country faces a constitutional crisis.

Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, is part of a vanishing breed, a public intellectual equally at ease with writing law review articles, books aimed at both popular and scholarly audiences and regular opinion columns, all leaning left but with a distinct contrarian streak.

In October, he declared that the country was in a constitutional crisis, caused by the events that followed the disclosure of a July 25 phone call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. When Mr. Trump told Congress that he would not participate in any of the House’s impeachment proceedings, it left the country with “situation where the Constitution does not provide a clear, definitive answer to a basic problem of governance,” Mr. Feldman wrote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Pamela Karlan? Legal Leader Committed to Progressive Causes, Lola Fadulu, Dec. 4, 2019. Ms. Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor, counts a landmark gay rights case as among her litigation experience. She is the director of Stanford Law’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Pamela S. Karlan’s formidable reputation as a scholar and Supreme Court advocate, coupled with a deep commitment to progressive causes, have made her a leader of the sometimes disorganized liberal legal movement.

Ms. Karlan, 60, received bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from Yale and clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the Supreme Court. She is now a director of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Ms. Karlan made regular media appearances discussing the 2000 presidential election and recount, and was one of the authors of “When Elections Go Bad: The Law of Democracy and the Presidential Election of 2000.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Michael J. Gerhardt? Professor Made Impeachment His Specialty, Emily Cochrane, Dec. 4, 2019. Mr. Gerhardt’s research has focused on constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress.

For the second time, Michael J. Gerhardt will appear before Congress as an expert on impeachment. In 1998, when President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, he was the only expert on a panel of 19 witnesses summoned by both parties to offer insight into the process.

Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s law school, has focused on constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress.

For the second time, Michael J. Gerhardt will appear before Congress as an expert on impeachment. In 1998, when President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, he was the only expert on a panel of 19 witnesses summoned by both parties to offer insight into the process.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Jonathan Turley? Republicans’ Lone Expert on Impeachment, Eileen Sullivan, Dec. 4, 2019. The Republicans’ lone expert witness, the law professor Jonathan Turley, has represented whistle-blowers and terrorism suspects. A professor at George Washington University Law School, he has represented whistle-blowers, members of Congress and terrorism suspects.

Jonathan Turley is a well-known legal expert, often seen on cable news talking about a range of issues including tort law, espionage, constitutional law and, most recently, impeachment. He is a professor at George Washington University Law School and has represented clients from a variety of backgrounds and political affiliations.

“This is a daunting but not unfamiliar challenge as an academic,” Mr. Turley wrote on Tuesday on his blog about his scheduled appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.

A graduate of the University of Chicago and Northwestern’s law school, Mr. Turley joined the staff of George Washington’s law school in 1990, and according to his biography, was the youngest person named to an academic chair in the school’s history.

washington post logoWashington Post, Explosive personalities ready to battle as probe enters new phase, Elise Viebeck, Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, Dec. 4, 2019. The spotlight shifts from the more sober House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee, where the president’s loyalists and pro-impeachment Democrats are intent on causing new friction.

• Live updates: Spotlight shifts to the House Judiciary Committee

washington post logoWashington Post, Phone call records show frequent contact between Giuliani and White House, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Greg Miller, Dec. 4, 2019. Phone-call records disclosed in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry report released Tuesday show extensive contact between President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the White House during key moments of the Ukraine saga.

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomThe call records provide powerful circumstantial evidence that Giuliani was coordinating with the White House on his Ukraine gambit, something Giuliani has previously acknowledged. The records also show contact between a Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas (shown together in a Reuters photo this fall at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC), and one of Trump’s key defenders in Congress, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: GOP tries to connect dots on Biden and Ukraine and comes up short, Glenn Kessler, Dec. 4, 2019. GOP tries to connect dots on Biden and Ukraine, but comes up shortSen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) suggest there is a connection between a “raid” in Ukraine and then- Vice President Joe Biden’s calls in February 2016. But there’s less to those events than meets the eye.

washington post logoWashington Post, NATO braces for contentious summit as Trump and other leaders gather, Michael Birnbaum, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker​, Dec. 4, 2019. President Trump has been less vocal in his criticism of allies’ lagging defense spending, but French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have stepped up as potential disrupters at the meeting.

President Trump, who has long demeaned his rivals for being laughed at around the world, found himself the scorned child on the global playground Wednesday as widely circulated video showed some of his foreign counterparts gossiping about and mocking him.

The video captured Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appearing to laugh Tuesday evening with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others about Trump’s performance during an earlier bilateral meeting and painted White House aides as agog at the president’s behavior.

And so it was Wednesday morning that Trump presented a sulking, brooding president as he engaged on the sidelines of the NATO summit at a secluded estate here outside London. Asked by journalists about Trudeau’s mockery, Trump fired back at the Canadian prime minister and then threatened to cancel a planned news conference at the summit’s conclusion.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Journalist’s Murder in Malta Puts Democracy on Trial, Editorial Board, Dec. 4, 2019. But the arrest of a well-connected businessman is a sign that daphne caruana galizia croppedcourageous reporting can make a difference.

Journalists are sometimes accused of giving disproportionate attention to crimes against their own. The reason they do so is not self-aggrandizement; it is that the increasingly frequent murder or repression of reporters is rarely random, and most often it is the work of people in power seeking to extinguish an unwelcome light on their corruption. To report on the fate of silenced journalists is to continue their work.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, right, was such a reporter. When she was blown up by a car bomb in October 2017 in the tiny Mediterranean country of Malta, population roughly 450,000, the prime minister, Joseph Muscat, acknowledged that the list of potential suspects — people who had been scorched by her fearless reporting — was very long. At the time she was killed, Ms. Caruana Galizia was reporting on mysterious offshore companies that she said were linked to Maltese politicians.

Three men were soon arrested. But they were accused of being the contract killers, hired to kill the 53-year-old blogger for about $165,000, and with time it came to seem that the real masterminds of the murder would never be revealed.

That changed with the chance arrest of a suspected middleman who offered information about Ms. Caruana Galizia’s murder in exchange for immunity. Last week, one of Malta’s most prominent businessmen — and a prominent subject of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s reporting — was arrested as he was trying to leave on his yacht. He in turn offered to testify against two senior government officials and others “close to the prime minister” in exchange for a pardon.

Thousands of Maltese, led by members of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s family, turned up outside Castille, the ornate seat of the prime minister in the capital, Valletta, demanding his resignation. Finally, on Sunday, Mr. Muscat said he would resign — but not until his Labour Party selected a new leader on Jan. 12. Protesters may not accept that delay, though.

Dec. 3

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House panel report says Trump ‘compromised national security’ to advance his political interests, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Dec. 3, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee will vote later today on forwarding the report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider impeachment proceedings.

U.S. House logoThe House Intelligence Committee released a report Tuesday that said President Trump placed his political interests above national interests in his conduct toward Ukraine.

Democrats are seeking to build a case that Trump leveraged military assistance and an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and a debunked theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump called Democrats “very unpatriotic” for pursuing his impeachment while he is overseas meeting with NATO leaders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings live updates: Trump calls Democrats ‘unpatriotic’ for pursuing case against him while he’s overseas, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Dec. 3, 2019. President Trump called Democrats “very unpatriotic” Tuesday for pursuing his impeachment while he is overseas meeting with NATO leaders, as the House Intelligence Committee prepared to release a report detailing his conduct regarding Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court refuses to block House subpoena for Trump’s financial records, Ann E. Marimow and Renae Merle​, Dec. 3, 2019.  The New York-based appeals court upheld Congress’s broad investigative authority and ordered two banks to comply with House subpoenas for the president’s financial information.

The New York-based appeals court upheld Congress’s broad investigative authority and ordered Deutsche Bank and Capital One to comply with the House subpoenas for the president’s financial information. The court gave the president seven days to seek review by the Supreme Court in the case, which predates the public impeachment proceedings in the House.

In a 106-page ruling, the court said the House committees’ “interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions."

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Barr disputes inspector general’s finding about FBI’s Russia investigation, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian​, Dec. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr, right, has privately said he doesn’t think the inspector general can conclude yet that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching a probe of Trump campaign members.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats quietly debate expanding impeachment articles beyond Ukraine, Rachael Bade​, Dec. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Members of the House Judiciary Committee are discussing possible charges stemming from ex-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report and even allegations of self-dealing by President Trump.

• Dismissing probe, House GOP defends Trump’s actions on Ukraine
• Schiff says Republican counter-report ‘ignores voluminous evidence’

 Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls French president’s criticism of NATO ‘nasty’ and ‘disrespectful,’ Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Michael Birnbaum, Dec. 3, 2019. President Trump on Tuesday slammed as “very, very nasty” and “very disrespectful” recent comments by his French counterpart about the diminished state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.

Referring to comments President Emmanuel Macron made last month in an interview with the Economist magazine — in which Macron described the “brain death” of NATO resulting from America’s failure to consult with its allies — Trump attacked Macron on the first day of the NATO 70th-anniversary summit in London, calling the comments “very insulting.”

• Trump announces Camp David for G-7 summit next year
• NATO hopes to get through 70th anniversary without explosions from Trump or Macron
• Trump says trade deal with China could wait until after 2020 election; Dow plunges 400 points

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he doesn’t know Britain’s Prince Andrew. They were both at a breakfast meeting in June, Jennifer Hassan, Dec. 3, 2019. “I don’t know him, no,” President Trump said, shaking his head — despite several photos of the two men together.

washington post logoWashington Post, North Dakota company that Trump touted gets $400 million border wall contract, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 3, 2019 (print ed.). A company that President Trump urged military officials to hire for border wall construction has been awarded a $400 million contract to build a span of new barrier across an Arizona wildlife refuge, according to a Department of Defense announcement Monday.

North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. won the contract to build in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Ariz., the Defense Department said, with a target completion date of Dec. 30, 2020.

Trump has repeatedly pushed for Fisher to get a wall-building contract, urging officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the firm — only to be told Fisher’s bids did not meet standards. Trump’s entreaties on behalf of the company have concerned some officials who are unaccustomed to the president getting personally involved in the intricacies of government contracting.

Dec. 2

Impeachment Coverage

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP mounts campaign to delegitimize inquiry, Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Remarks from Republicans on Sunday reflect a conflict inside the republican elephant logoparty over the extent to which the president and his congressional defenders ought to participate in a process they have attacked as unfair and corrupt.

pat cipollone file croppedOn Sunday evening, the White House notified the House Judiciary Committee that it would not participate in its first impeachment hearing, scheduled for Wednesday.

Four constitutional scholars — three chosen by Democrats, one by Republicans — are expected to testify on the standards for impeachment.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone, left, attacked the hearing — and the entire impeachment process — as “unfair.”

  • Washington Post, Despite intelligence assessment, Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) says both Ukraine and Russia interfered in 2016 election
  • New York Times, Next Step in Impeachment Case Is Likely to Be Loud and Messy
  • New York Times, The House Judiciary Committee is poised to swiftly draft and debate articles of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine leader makes headway against corruption, but fight risks angering Trump, Michael Birnbaum and David L. Stern, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). By the end of this month, volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotmore than 500 Ukrainian prosecutors will be out of their jobs as part of sweeping professional reviews under Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Among the prosecutors heading for the exit: a key Kyiv contact for Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The prosecutor purge is just one of several corruption-busting efforts set in motion by Zelensky, shown at right. But it puts into sharp relief Zelensky’s twin challenges — trying to balance his clean-government promises at home with his needs to keep President Trump from turning against him.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I’m done being quiet’: Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page slams Trump’s ‘sickening’ attacks in first interview, Allyson Chiu, Dec. 2, 2019. The lone tweet appeared Sunday night on a profile bearing the name of former FBI attorney Lisa Page. “I’m done being quiet,” the tweet read.

peter strozk lisa pageIn the roughly two years since Page made national headlines after politically charged text messages between her and then-senior FBI agent Peter Strzok (shown in file photos) were released, the lawyer has refrained from publicly addressing the events that catapulted her into the center of a political firestorm and made her a repeated target of President Trump’s ire.

Now, in a wide-ranging interview, the 39-year-old has slammed Trump for his “sickening” attacks against her and revealed how she has struggled to keep her life together. “I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” Page told the Daily Beast in her first public interview, which was published Sunday. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”

Dec. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, House Intelligence Committee to meet Tuesday to approve release of Ukraine report, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.). House adam schiff squareIntelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff ­(D-Calif.), right, set a Tuesday meeting to approve the release of a report expected to detail the panel’s findings on President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

In keeping with committee rules, panel members are expected to be able to review the report starting at 6 p.m. Monday, 24 hours before the scheduled meeting. It comes after closed-door depositions with 17 government witnesses and televised public hearings with several of those officials.

The report is expected to be forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration of articles of impeachment against Trump. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Wednesday hearing to consider the historical and constitutional standards for impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP mounts campaign to delegitimize inquiry, Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 1, 2019. Remarks from Republicans on Sunday reflect a conflict inside the republican elephant logoparty over the extent to which the president and his congressional defenders ought to participate in a process they have attacked as unfair and corrupt.

On Sunday evening, the White House notified the House Judiciary Committee that it would not participate in its first impeachment hearing, scheduled for Wednesday.

pat cipollone file croppedFour constitutional scholars — three chosen by Democrats, one by Republicans — are expected to testify on the standards for impeachment.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone, left, attacked the hearing — and the entire impeachment process — as “unfair.”

• Washington Post, Despite intelligence assessment, Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) says both Ukraine and Russia interfered in 2016 election

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine leader makes headway against corruption, but fight risks angering Trump, Michael Birnbaum and David L. Stern, Dec. 1, 2019. By the end of this month, volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotmore than 500 Ukrainian prosecutors will be out of their jobs as part of sweeping professional reviews under Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Among the prosecutors heading for the exit: a key Kyiv contact for Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The prosecutor purge is just one of several corruption-busting efforts set in motion by Zelensky, shown at right. But it puts into sharp relief Zelensky’s twin challenges — trying to balance his clean-government promises at home with his needs to keep President Trump from turning against him.

U.S. Justice System

Donald Trump announces the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, right, to join the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Times photo by Doug Mills on July 9, 2018).

Donald Trump announces the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, right, to join the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Times photo by Doug Mills on July 9, 2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The many ambitions that propelled Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Geoffrey R. Stone, right, is the Edward H. Levi geoffrey stonedistinguished professor of law at the University of Chicago and former dean. Whose “supreme ambition” is Ruth Marcus referring to in the title of her extraordinarily detailed and highly insightful new book, Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover” There are several possibilities.

The first and most obvious, of course, is Kavanaugh, who won a seat on the Supreme Court. Throughout his career — as a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, as an assistant to special counsel Kenneth Starr, as a lawyer for the George W. Bush campaign during the 2000 Florida recount, as White House staff secretary during the Bush administration, as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — Kavanaugh kept his eye on the ultimate goal: the highest court in the land.

Another candidate is Kennedy. When candidate Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees during the 2016 presidential campaign — a list prepared by Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society — Kavanaugh’s name was not on it. After Trump’s election, Kennedy made clear to the new president that if he were to retire, he would like to see his former law clerk Kavanaugh succeed him. This caused bitter disagreement between the White House and Leo, whose Federalist friends worried that Kavanaugh was too much of a “Bushie” and might not fulfill their hard-line right-wing ambitions. After a struggle in the White House, Trump and his advisers rejected Leo’s concerns and settled on Kavanaugh, delivering on Kennedy’s ambition.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance, Dave Philipps, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Helene Cooper, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump’s handling of the case of a commando accused of war crimes has distressed active-duty and retired officers. His intervention, some said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.

The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Mr. Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.

As a result, the president finds himself more removed than ever from a disenchanted military command, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and diplomatic corps.

November

Nov. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces Dec. 6 deadline to say whether he’ll send lawyer to impeachment hearings, Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 30, 2019 (print ed.). It's unclear whether President Trump will participate in the House’s probe, which is looking into allegations that he abused his power in an attempt to get Ukraine to launch political investigations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani flips out as he realizes the end is near, Bill Palmer, Nov. 30, 2019. Rudy Giuliani knows the end is near for him. We’re not merely saying this because a federal grand jury has sent subpoenas to his associates, demanding all communications with him, and revealing that the list of alleged crimes is a mile long. We’re not even rudy giuliani recentsaying it because Donald Trump tried to distance himself from Rudy this week.

We’re saying it because Rudy Giuliani, right, is even more unhinged right now than usual – and he very much sounds like a guy who knows the end is near for him. Rudy is referring to the investigation into the Trump-Ukraine scandal as a “travesty,” a word that generally only gets used by people who think the damage has already been done.

bill palmer report logo headerRudy is also posting rants like this, which are ludicrously hyperbolic even by his standards: “The Schiff frame-up based on no admissible and the trampling of rights to counsel, call witnesses, confrontation, cross examination are worse than the old McCarthy Communist hearings.”

The trouble for Rudy Giuliani is that as the Feds close in on him, he simply has no easy way out. Trump’s comments make a pardon seem increasingly unlikely. Even if Rudy were pardoned on federal charges, he’d surely be indicted on parallel charges by New York State. Rudy could cut a plea deal against Trump, but considering the extent of Rudy’s years-long international crime spree, he would still do significant prison time – likely in solitary confinement due to his notoriety. Rudy’s life is over, and he knows it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely, Colbert I. King, Nov. 30, 2019. The future isn’t promised, but it is a roger stonegood bet that three felons and close allies of President Trump — Roger Stone (right, found guilty of obstruction of a congressional investigation, witness tampering and lying to Congress), Paul Manafort (serving a prison sentence for tax evasion and bank fraud) and Michael Flynn (pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI) — will be granted executive clemency. The only question is when.

It might be a tad bit premature for Manafort to start humming “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” But he will be there next year.

President Donald Trump officialTo be sure, Trump could free his friends before voters cast their ballots in 2020. But that’s politically risky, as President Gerald Ford’s 1976 defeat can attest. His approval rating dropped more than 30 points after he pardoned Richard M. Nixon.

Trump’s safest course of action would be to wait to do the dirty deed until after Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. Trump’s impulsiveness, however, is a wild card.

Impeached or not, Trump can still grant pardons without fear of a citizens’ revolt — once the polls close. Even if the voters serve him with an eviction, Trump can still cut his boys loose, provided he acts before turning off the lights in the Oval Office.

Nov. 29

World News

djt maga hat speech uncredited Customny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says He Reopened Talks With Taliban, 3 Months After Ending Them, Michael Crowley, Nov. 29, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump (shown in a file photo) said during an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan that he had restarted peace talks. republican elephant logoThe declaration came as Mr. Trump seeks to highlight a record of achievements while he campaigns for re-election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away how desperate he is, Bill Palmer, Nov. 29, 2019. On Thanksgiving, Donald Trump took time off from taking time off at Mar-a-Lago, and secretly flew to a U.S. military base on Afghanistan for a photo op with the troops stationed there. It scored him a round of positive headlines, all of which will be forgotten by the end of the weekend, if not the end of the day. But the real story here is what prompted Trump to have to make this trip at all.

bill palmer report logo headerLet’s be clear here: Donald Trump absolutely did not want to make this trip. He almost never visits the troops, and certainly not in combat regions. You can blame it on cowardice, laziness, lack of interest, or all of the above. But the reality is that this guy doesn’t like doing these kinds of things. So why did he take this surprise last-minute trip?

richard spencer navyTrump just crapped all over the military in every way possible. He overturned the military justice system’s handling of convicted war criminal Eddie Gallagher, because Gallagher’s lawyer also happens to work for the Trump Organization. When Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, right, refused to do Trump’s corrupt bidding, Trump fired him.

Donald Trump has managed to do something that is usually near-impossible for a Republican president: he’s alienating the military. He must know it too, because his handlers managed to convince him to fly halfway around the world and pretend to care about U.S. troops while using them as a political prop.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ground is shifting beneath Trump’s feet, Shirley Kennedy, Nov. 29, 2019. The latest bombshell transcripts contain the testimonies of OMB official Mark Sandy and State Department official Philip Reeker. Not only do their testimonies fill in more blanks, that testimony shows just how insidious Trump’s actions were. More importantly, they show the lengths to which he went to hide his activities. That, my friends, is consciousness of guilt.

bill palmer report logo headerSandy’s testimony outlined “highly unusual” activities with respect to releasing aid to Ukraine. Extremely telling is the fact that the OMB took the first official step in withholding Ukraine aid on the evening of Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, July 25, even though the agencies were notified a week prior to the call — philip reekerJuly 18— that the “aid had been frozen.” Sandy testified that Trump had been interested in the aid as far back as June, likely seeing it as a bargaining chip. Sandy voiced his concerns, raising a little-known federal law, the Impoundment Control Act, notifying Trump that he would be in violation of that law should he continue to “unilaterally withhold” funds that had been approved by Congress. Sandy also knew that if the funds weren’t released by September 30, they would be lost.

Reeker, right, testified that the hold on Ukraine’s aid “was orchestrated at the highest levels” in the White House. Reeker believes that Mulvaney was withholding the funds but was not certain. Mulvaney answers to Trump, so it obvious that while he might have appeared to be the holdup, he could not have done such a thing without Trump’s knowledge and approval.

Impeachment Coverage

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ground is shifting beneath Trump’s feet, Shirley Kennedy, Nov. 29, 2019. The latest bombshell transcripts contain the testimonies of OMB official Mark Sandy and State Department official Philip Reeker. Not only do their testimonies fill in more blanks, that testimony shows just how insidious Trump’s actions were. More importantly, they show the lengths to which he went to hide his activities. That, my friends, is consciousness of guilt.

bill palmer report logo headerSandy’s testimony outlined “highly unusual” activities with respect to releasing aid to Ukraine. Extremely telling is the fact that the OMB took the first official step in withholding Ukraine aid on the evening of Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, July 25, even though the agencies were notified a week prior to the call — philip reekerJuly 18— that the “aid had been frozen.” Sandy testified that Trump had been interested in the aid as far back as June, likely seeing it as a bargaining chip. Sandy voiced his concerns, raising a little-known federal law, the Impoundment Control Act, notifying Trump that he would be in violation of that law should he continue to “unilaterally withhold” funds that had been approved by Congress. Sandy also knew that if the funds weren’t released by September 30, they would be lost.

Reeker, right, testified that the hold on Ukraine’s aid “was orchestrated at the highest levels” in the White House. Reeker believes that Mulvaney was withholding the funds but was not certain. Mulvaney answers to Trump, so it obvious that while he might have appeared to be the holdup, he could not have done such a thing without Trump’s knowledge and approval.

Just Security, Analysis: Here’s the Proof that Trump’s “No Quid Pro Quo” Call Never Happened, Susan Simpson, Nov. 29, 2019. At the heart of the impeachment inquiry, members of Congress may have been mistakenly led to believe that there were two phone calls between President Donald Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland in early September — with the second call having the possibility of helping the President’s case. That’s not what happened. There was only one call, and it was highly incriminating.

The call occurred on September 7th. In this call, Trump did say there was “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine, but he then went on to outline his preconditions for releasing the security assistance and granting a White House visit. The call was so alarming that when John Bolton learned of it, he ordered his’ deputy Tim Morrison to immediately report it to the National Security Council lawyers.

Sondland has testified there was a call on September 9th in which Trump said there was “no quid pro quo,” but that he wanted President Zelenskyy “to do” the right thing. A close reading of the publicly available evidence shows that the latter call was actually the very one that sent Morrison to the lawyers, and that Ambassador Bill Taylor foregrounded in his written deposition to inform Congress of the quid pro quo.

As this article was in the publication process at Just Security, the Washington Post published a report raising doubts about the existence of the September 9 call. The analysis that follows is consistent with the Post’s report and, among other points, shows why Sondland’s “no quid pro quo” call is in fact the same as the September 7th call that Morrison reported to NSC lawyers on September 7th.

Nov. 28

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani was in talks to work for Ukraine official amid their hunt for damaging information on Biden, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Matt Zapotosky​, rudy giulianiNov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, negotiated earlier this year to represent Ukraine’s top prosecutor for at least $200,000 during the same months that Giuliani, right, was working with the prosecutor to dig up dirt on vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The people said that Giuliani began negotiations with Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, about a possible agreement in February. In the agreement, Giuliani’s company would receive payment to represent Lutsenko as the Ukrainian sought to recover assets he believed had been stolen from the government in Kyiv, those familiar with the discussions said.

yuriy lutsenkoThe talks occurred as Giuliani met with Lutsenko, left, in New York in January and then in Warsaw in February while he was also gathering information from Lutsenko on two topics Giuliani believed could prove useful to Trump: the involvement of Biden, and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine and allegations that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump ultimately pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into the two issues during a July 25 phone call between the two leaders, a call that sparked a whistleblower complaint and the Congressional impeachment inquiry.

A person familiar with the negotiations described a series of contracts that were drafted earlier this year in which Giuliani would have worked for Lutsenko or separately, the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.

washington post logoWashington Post, Testimony, records raise questions about ambassador’s account of Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ call, Aaron C. Davis, Elise Viebeck and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Gordon Sondland’s recollection of a phone conversation that he said took place Sept. 9 has emerged as a centerpiece of President Trump’s defense. But the White House has not located a record of a call between Trump and Sondland that day.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyers, Skeptical of Engaging on Impeachment, Weigh Hearing Strategy, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The White House is debating whether to accept an invitation by Democrats to be part of an impeachment hearing next week, calling it a “sham partisan process.” The White House is reviewing an invitation from House Democrats for President Trump’s legal team to participate in the first Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing next week, even as his lawyers privately question whether to engage with a proceeding his administration branded “an illegitimate sham partisan process” to drive Mr. Trump from office.

jerrold nadler o SmallRepresentative Jerrold Nadler, right, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to the president on Tuesday offering him or his lawyers the opportunity to appear before lawmakers at a Dec. 4 hearing with constitutional scholars to discuss the historical precedents for impeachment, the definition of an impeachable offense and whether Mr. Trump’s actions meet the bar for removal.

In a statement on Wednesday, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, did not give any indication about whether Mr. Trump or his lawyers intended to accept the invitation. But people familiar with the president’s legal strategy have said privately that they are deeply suspicious of taking part in a process they view as unfair to Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Keeps Losing in Court. But His Legal Strategy Is Winning Anyway, Charlie Savage, right, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). As fights over the president’s stonewalling of charlie savageCongress play out slowly in courts, he is reducing the prospect that voters learn new damaging facts about him before the 2020 election.

From a realist perspective, Mr. Trump is winning despite losing. That is because it is now late November — not May, when Mr. McGahn, on Mr. Trump’s directions, first defied the subpoena, or even August, when the House asked the judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to enforce its subpoena.

The proceedings before Judge Jackson consumed nearly a third of the year as she took briefs, conducted oral arguments and then composed a 120-page opinion. And her ruling was merely the end of the first step.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I was fired as Navy secretary. Here’s what I’ve learned because of it, Richard Spencer, right, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The case of Chief Petty Officer Edward richard spencer navyGallagher, a Navy SEAL who was charged with multiple war crimes before being convicted of a single lesser charge earlier this year, was troubling enough before things became even more troubling over the past few weeks. The trail of events that led to me being fired as secretary of the Navy is marked with lessons for me and for the nation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Secretary of the Navy takes a blowtorch to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 28, 2019. Donald Trump fired his own handpicked Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer this weekend, because Spencer wasn’t corrupt, and Trump needed someone in the position who was willing to do his corrupt bidding. This is a common theme when it comes to Trump’s firings (see Marie Yovanovitch). The thing is, Trump never does seem to learn that these things tend to blow up in his face.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump insisted on intervening on behalf of convicted war criminal Eddie Gallagher, after the U.S. military had already handled the matter internally. It wasn’t that Trump thought the Gallagher matter had been mishandled; it’s that Gallagher’s lawyer happens to work for the Trump Organization. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer wasn’t willing to roll over and let Trump corruptly meddle in the military’s business, so Trump fired him.

Richard Spencer has responded to being fired by writing a scathing op-ed that’s been published in the Washington Post. He laid out the specifics of Trump’s inappropriate meddling, and then asserted that Trump “has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

Nov. 27

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani was in talks to work for Ukraine official amid their hunt for damaging information on Biden, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Matt Zapotosky​, rudy giulianiNov. 27, 2019. President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, negotiated earlier this year to represent Ukraine’s top prosecutor for at least $200,000 during the same months that Giuliani, right, was working with the prosecutor to dig up dirt on vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The people said that Giuliani began negotiations with Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, about a possible agreement in February. In the agreement, Giuliani’s company would receive payment to represent Lutsenko as the Ukrainian sought to recover assets he believed had been stolen from the government in Kyiv, those familiar with the discussions said.

yuriy lutsenkoThe talks occurred as Giuliani met with Lutsenko, left, in New York in January and then in Warsaw in February while he was also gathering information from Lutsenko on two topics Giuliani believed could prove useful to Trump: the involvement of Biden, and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine and allegations that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump ultimately pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into the two issues during a July 25 phone call between the two leaders, a call that sparked a whistleblower complaint and the Congressional impeachment inquiry.

A person familiar with the negotiations described a series of contracts that were drafted earlier this year in which Giuliani would have worked for Lutsenko or separately, the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyers, Skeptical of Engaging on Impeachment, Weigh Hearing Strategy, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 27, 2019. The White House is debating whether to accept an invitation by Democrats to be part of an impeachment hearing next week, calling it a “sham partisan process.” The White House is reviewing an invitation from House Democrats for President Trump’s legal team to participate in the first Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing next week, even as his lawyers privately question whether to engage with a proceeding his administration branded “an illegitimate sham partisan process” to drive Mr. Trump from office.

jerrold nadler o SmallRepresentative Jerrold Nadler, right, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to the president on Tuesday offering him or his lawyers the opportunity to appear before lawmakers at a Dec. 4 hearing with constitutional scholars to discuss the historical precedents for impeachment, the definition of an impeachable offense and whether Mr. Trump’s actions meet the bar for removal.

In a statement on Wednesday, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, did not give any indication about whether Mr. Trump or his lawyers intended to accept the invitation. But people familiar with the president’s legal strategy have said privately that they are deeply suspicious of taking part in a process they view as unfair to Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Keeps Losing in Court. But His Legal Strategy Is Winning Anyway, Charlie Savage, right, Nov. 27, 2019. As fights over the president’s stonewalling of charlie savageCongress play out slowly in courts, he is reducing the prospect that voters learn new damaging facts about him before the 2020 election.

From a realist perspective, Mr. Trump is winning despite losing. That is because it is now late November — not May, when Mr. McGahn, on Mr. Trump’s directions, first defied the subpoena, or even August, when the House asked the judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to enforce its subpoena.

The proceedings before Judge Jackson consumed nearly a third of the year as she took briefs, conducted oral arguments and then composed a 120-page opinion. And her ruling was merely the end of the first step.

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 budget officials resigned, expressing concerns about hold on aid to Ukraine, official said, Erica Werner​, Nov. 27, 2019 (print ed.). One of the officials was in the White House Office of Management and Budget’s legal division and feared the intervention might have violated the law, Mark Sandy, an OMB deputy associate director, told House investigators.

The hold-up in nearly $400 million in security assistance aid to Ukraine is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Several State Department and national security officials have testified that President Trump was refusing to release the aid unless Ukraine launched investigations of Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and a debunked conspiracy theory involving a Democratic National Committee server.

mark sandy CustomSandy, left, said that he himself voiced concerns within the agency about whether holding up the Ukraine aid comported with the law.

“I just made a general reference to the Impoundment Control Act ... and said that we would have to assess that with the advice of counsel beofre proceeding,” Sandy said in describing a conversation he had with a political appointee at the agency who was his superior.

Ultimately that political appointee, Mike Duffey, took over the process of signing off on the documents that held up the Ukraine money, until the administration announced its release on Sept. 11 -- days after Congress had learned of a whistleblower complaint about a call between Trump and the president of Ukraine.

• Read Mark Sandy’s transcript
• Read transcript of Philip Reeker

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 3 takeaways from Mark Sandy’s and Philip Reeker’s testimony on Ukraine, Amber Phillips, Nov. 27, 2019. The latest transcripts offer more evidence that philip reekerthe hold on Ukraine assistance wasn’t because of concern over general “corruption.” Impeachment investigators released transcripts Tuesday from two depositions in their investigation: Philip Reeker, right, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Mark Sandy, the deputy associate director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget.

Here are three takeaways from their testimony: 1. More evidence that Trump’s hold on Ukraine assistance wasn’t because of concern over general ‘corruption.’

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Impeachment inquiry live updates: White House faces Sunday deadline on participating in Judiciary Committee hearing, John Wagner, Nov. 27, 2019. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says GOP defense of Trump is ‘reprehensible;’ Meadows argues that impeachment impedes legislating.

djt as stallone cropped CustomThe White House faces a Sunday deadline to decide whether to participate in a hearing next week by the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will soon weigh whether to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

10:55 AM: Trump tweets doctored photo of his head on Sylvester Stallone’s body: President Trump tweeted a doctored photo Wednesday that showed his head superimposed on the body of the actor Sylvester Stallone, who was shirtless and wearing boxing attire. The image appeared to have been taken from promotional materials for “Rocky III,” one in a series of movies focused on the boxing career of the fictional Rocky Balboa, which debuted in 1982.

It was not clear what inspired Trump’s tweet. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The picture may be a nod to remarks Trump made about his physique during a rally Tuesday night in Florida, when he critized the recent speculation surrounding an unscheduled trip he made to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Nov. 16.

The White House faces a Sunday deadline to decide whether to participate in a hearing next week by the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will soon weigh whether to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump cases arrive, Supreme Court’s desire to be seen as neutral arbiter will be tested, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Nov. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The justices will step onto an unwelcome partisan battleground as they confront a long list of cases involving the president. The legal cases concerning President Trump, his finances john roberts oand his separation-of-powers disputes with Congress are moving like a brush fire to the Supreme Court, and together provide both potential and challenge for the Roberts court in its aspiration to be seen as nonpartisan.

The court, composed of five conservatives nominated by Republican presidents and four liberals chosen by Democrats, has little choice but to step onto a fiercely partisan battleground.

It announced Tuesday that it will consider on Dec. 13 whether to schedule a full briefing and argument on the president’s request that it overturn a lower-court ruling giving New York prosecutors access to Trump’s tax returns and other financial records in their investigation of ­hush-money payments in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump’s lawless intransigence is eviscerated in court, Editorial Board, Nov. 27, 2019. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday eviscerated the Trump administration’s lawless intransigence in a ruling that was as sharp as it should have been predictable. No, former White House counsel Donald McGahn is not ketanji brown jackson robe“absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” No, President Trump cannot prevent Mr. McGahn from responding to legal congressional subpoenas. “Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” the judge (shown at left) wrote.

Previous presidents and congressional leaders have found ways to defuse disputes. George Washington and Ronald Reagan turned over documents to congressional investigators. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Congress held then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt when he failed to respond to a congressional subpoena in the overhyped investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scheme, but the two sides eventually worked out a compromise that prevented lengthy litigation.

Consortium News, Opinion: The ‘Whistleblower’ and the Politicization of Intelligence, Scott Ritter, Nov. 27, 2019. The whistleblower complaint has opened a window into the politicization of the intelligence community, and the corresponding weaponization of the national security establishment.

His identity has been cloaked in a shroud of anonymity which has proven farcical, given that his name is common knowledge throughout the Washington-based national security establishment in whose ranks he continues to serve. While Trump publicly calls for the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed, the mainstream media has played along with the charade of confidentiality, and Congress continues to pretend his persona is a legitimate national security secret, even as several on-line publications have printed it, along with an extensive document trail sufficient to corroborate that the named man is, in fact, the elusive whistleblower.

There is no legitimate reason for the whistleblower’s identity to remain a secret. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, (D-CA) has cited statutory protections that simply do not exist while using his authority as chairman to prohibit any probe by his Republican colleagues designed to illicit information about the whistleblower’s identity. “The whistleblower has a right, a statutory right, to anonymity,” Schiff recently opined during recent impeachment-related testimony. And yet The Washington Post, no friend of Trump, was compelled to assign Schiff’s statement three “Pinocchios”, out of a scale of four, in rejecting the claim as baseless.

Trafficking, Perversion Claims

djt ivanka trump jared kushner unitedstatesblues com dmca Custom

Nepotism has been adopted as official Trump administration policy with regard to Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his wife and Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump holding senior White House positions (Image by theunitedstatesblues.com, DMCA)

OpEdNews, Grand Theft Government With a Tinge of Perversion, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 27, 2019. The world is currently mired in massive malfeasance in office by senior government officials, including wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallheads of state and government, who are more interested in personal gain than in government service. Mixed in with financial and political scandals in dozens of nations is the specter of some government officials being involved in illegal sexual activities with underage individuals.

Facing a third general election in a year's time, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, right, has become the first Israeli prime minister to be criminally indicted while serving in office. Netanyahu was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterMeanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are facing charges that they received campaign donations from RKW Developers Ltd., a company linked to the Mumbai terrorist bomb blasts of 1993, attacks that killed 257 people and injured 1,400. Hypocritically, Modi attempted to blame the opposition Congress Party for not being aggressive or vigilant enough against the perpetrators of the Mumbai bombings.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is facing impeachment from office on grounds of bribery, extortion, obstruction of Congress, and witness intimidation, among other charges.

On top of Trump's troubles is the mystery over the death in a federal jail in New York City the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) of billionaire convicted child sex offender and accused underage sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, a close friend of Trump, was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges involving his fleet of aircraft and residences in the US Virgin Islands, Manhattan, France, and New Mexico.

jeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

Epstein with his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, right, and the Trumps (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

Two MCC guards on duty while Epstein allegedly hanged himself in his cell have been arrested by federal authorities. The Epstein scandal has not only entangled Trump but also Britain's Duke of York, Prince Andrew, shown at far left. The duke, who maintained a relationship with Epstein after the Wall Street investment banker's underage sex conviction in 2007 in Florida, has resigned from all official functions as a result of the Epstein scandal. The decision, which was reportedly promoted by Queen Elizabeth II, came after a disastrous interview Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Andrew gave to the BBC, which led to even more questions about his relationship with Epstein. Andrew denied accusations from former Epstein sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre, center in the photo, about his relationship with her when she was 17, below the age of consent in England.

Seasoned royal watchers in London consider Andrew's downfall from grace to be the biggest royal scandal since King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry the American divorcee and pro-Nazi, Wallis Simpson.

It is not only Andrew who is facing an investigation over sexual misconduct. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, weeks away from trying to salvage his battered Conservative Party in a December 12 general election, faces allegations that while he was mayor of London, he provided favorable treatment for official London city business to his American girlfriend, Jennifer Arcuri. This included Ms. Arcuri's participation in official London trade missions to Kuala Lumpur, New York, Singapore, and Tel Aviv.

Johnson, right, is also under investigation for another affair with an unpaid city advisor, Helen Macintyre, who gave birth to Johnson's child. In Britain, it would not be a sex scandal unless the Tories were involved. Adding to Johnson's political woes was the resignation of his Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns, over charges that the secretary's former aide interfered in a rape trial.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has faced increasing criticism from some of his own ministers for alleged government foot dragging in investigating Epstein's past activities at his Paris, Nice, and Biarritz residences. Calling for a full-scale probe of Epstein's activities in France are Secretary of State for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa and Secretary of State for Protecting Children Adrien Taquet. Of special interest to French investigators who want to open their own line of inquiry into Epstein are the circumstances surrounding his repeated visits to France while traveling on an Austrian passport in the 1980s.

Just as nepotism has been adopted as official Trump administration policy with regard to Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his wife and Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, holding senior White House positions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law's position in the Turkish government has resulted in charges of nepotism. Berat Albayrak, who is married to Erdogan's daughter, Esra Erdogan, previously served as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources before being named as Minister of Finance and Treasury.

Courthouse News, Child-Sex Charge Upheld Against Trump Campaign’s Nader, Brandi Buchman, Nov. 27, 2019. A onetime informal adviser to the Trump campaign who is charged with bringing a 14-year-old Czech boy to the United States for sex failed to persuade a federal judge that the crime is too old to prosecute.

george nader c spanThis 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates who is now a witness in the U.S. special counsel investigation into foreign meddling in American politics, wired $2.5 million to Donald Trump’s fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. (C-SPAN via AP, File)

In a three-count indictment unsealed in July, prosecutors alleged that George Nader brought the boy to Washington in 2000 after being introduced by way of a European pimp. “Night after night,” the indictment alleges, Nader assaulted and exploited the boy while withholding his passport to keep control over him.

Prosecutors also claim Nader threatened the boy’s mother, telling her she would be jailed if she were to report him.

Now it is 60-year-old Nader in jail as he awaits his trial on a three-count indictment unsealed in Virginia.

Nader, who emerged in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller as a key witness, sought to nix only one of the counts against him, criminal transport of a minor for sex, based on the statute of limitations.

Nov. 26

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Former White House counsel McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge rules, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The decision had been highly anticipated, with major implications for other high-value witnesses in the Democrats’ investigation, including former national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy. Former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn must comply with a House subpoena, a federal court ruled Monday, finding that “no one is above the law” and dan mcgahn djtthat top presidential advisers cannot ignore congressional demands for information. The ruling raises the possibility that McGahn could be forced to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington, below left, found no basis for a White House claim that the former counsel is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony,” likely setting the stage for a historic separation-of-powers confrontation between the government’s executive ketanji brown jackson robeand legislative branches.

The House Judiciary Committee went to court in August to enforce its subpoena for McGahn, right, whom lawmakers consider the “most important” witness in whether Trump obstructed justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

President Trump blocked McGahn’s appearance, saying McGahn had cooperated with Mueller’s probe, was a key presidential adviser and could not be forced to answer questions or turn over documents. Jackson disagreed, ruling that if McGahn wants to refuse to testify, such as by invoking executive privilege, he must do so in person and question by question.

The Justice Department’s claim to “unreviewable absolute testimonial immunity,” Jackson wrote, “is baseless, and as such, cannot be sustained.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal prosecutors scrutinize Giuliani firm, donations to Trump super PAC, Devlin Barrett, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The federal investigation into two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani is exploring a wide range of potential crimes — includingwire fraud and failure to register as a foreign agent — as prosecutors dig into the pair’s interactions with the president’s personal lawyer and the main pro-Trump super PAC, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Giuliani’s dealings with the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are being investigated by federal prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York. That office has already filed campaign finance charges against Parnas and Fruman and accused them of conspiracy and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

According to people familiar with the ongoing case, investigators are scrutinizing Giuliani’s consulting business and eyeing donations made to America First Action, the main pro-Trump super PAC set up by his advisers and allies after his election, as well as its affiliated nonprofit group.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, at right in the adjoining graphic, are two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, center, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court blocks House committee from immediately reviewing Trump’s financial records, Robert Barnes​, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s personal attorneys had requested a stay while the justices consider whether the House Oversight Committee can see his records. The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a House committee from immediately reviewing President Trump’s financial records, after the president’s lawyers agreed to an expedited review of a lower-court ruling granting access.

The court’s action signals that, even as Congress considers impeaching Trump, the court will undertake a more complete consideration of the legal powers of Congress and state prosecutors to investigate the president while he is in office.

supreme court graphicThe court instructed Trump’s lawyers to file a petition by Dec. 5 stating why the court should accept the case for full briefing and oral argument. If the petition is eventually denied, the lower-court ruling will go into effect. If accepted, the case probably will be heard this term, with a decision before the court adjourns at the end of June.

Lower courts have also sided with a New York district attorney seeking access to much of the same financial information for a grand jury investigation. The New York decision already was on hold, and did not require immediate Supreme Court action.

“This is a significant separation-of-powers clash between the president and Congress,” Trump’s personal lawyer William S. Consovoy said in a filing with the court in the case involving the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

He said Trump is “prepared to proceed on any schedule that the court deems appropriate.”

The House on Thursday told the Supreme Court that review was not necessary. It said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision saying the House committee was entitled to the information is straightforward and based upon Supreme Court precedent.

“The committee is investigating whether senior government officials, including the president, are acting in the country’s best interest and not in their own financial interest, whether federal agencies are operating free from financial conflicts and with accurate information, and whether any legislative reforms are needed to ensure that these fundamental principles are respected,” House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter told the justices in a filing Thursday.

He added: “Each day of delay harms Congress by depriving it of important information it needs to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.”

The subpoenas issued by the congressional committee and separately by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are directed to the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA. It has said it will comply with the eventual court order, so turning over the records would not require any action on the president’s part.

Nov. 25

U.S. Political Headlines

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Nunes denies allegation he met with top Ukrainian prosecutor about Bidens, Elise Viebeck and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 25, 2019. The top Republican on the House viktor shokinIntelligence Committee said reports that he met with ex-Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, right, in Vienna last year were false, but declined to elaborate in an interview on Fox News.

The allegation that Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.) met with Shokin to obtain information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son was made by the attorney devin nunes head ofor Lev Parnas. Parnas is one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani who were indicted on charges that they broke campaign finance law.

Parnas’s attorney, Joseph Bondy, told The Washington Post that Shokin informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018.

On Fox News, Nunes declined to answer further questions about the accusation, which he previously dismissed as “demonstrably false and scandalous” in an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart News. A person close to Shokin also has denied the claim.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment inquiry live updates: Schiff says report will be forwarded to Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns next week, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Brittany Shammas, Nov. 25, 2019. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Monday that House investigators will transmit a report on President Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine controversy to the Judiciary Committee shortly after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess next week.

In a letter to colleagues, Schiff underscored that stonewalling by the White House could form the basis for a separate article of impeachment.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Emails show an extensive effort to justify decision to block Ukraine aid, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.

mick mulvaney djt 2 SmallThe research by the White House Counsel’s Office, which was triggered by a congressional impeachment inquiry announced in September, includes early August email exchanges between acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for withholding the funds after the president had already ordered a hold in mid-July on the nearly $400 million in security assistance, according to the three people familiar U.S. House logowith the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

One person briefed on the records examination said White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear whether the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Can Trump Challenge His Impeachment in the Supreme Court? Adam Liptak, right, Nov. 25, 2019. The president has vowed to ask the justices to intercede, but the adam liptakConstitution and precedents are against him. “If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach,” President Trump wrote on Twitter in the spring, “I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Now that impeachment seems virtually certain, it is time to assess Mr. Trump’s vow and ask whether the Supreme Court would entertain his challenge.

The Constitution seems to exclude the court from the impeachment process. It grants the House of Representatives “the sole power of impeachment.” The Senate, similarly, has “the sole power to try all impeachments.” Those are the only provisions of the Constitution that use the pointed word “sole.”

The Supreme Court, too, has been pretty categorical. “The judiciary, and the Supreme Court in particular, were not chosen to have any role in impeachments,” Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court in a 1993 opinion that rejected an impeached judge’s objection to the procedures used at his Senate trial.

More than half of the 452 seats in Sunday’s local elections flipped from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy candidates.

Inside DC

washington post logomark esperWashington Post, Navy secretary forced out by Pentagon chief over handling of SEAL’s war crimes case, Ashley Parker and Dan Lamothe​, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper acted after learning that Richard V. Spencer privately proposed to White House officials that if they did not interfere with proceedings against Edward Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes in Iraq, then Spencer would ensure Gallagher retired with his Trident pin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In firing Richard Spencer, Trump recklessly crosses another line, David Ignatius, right, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ President Trump’s attempt to manipulate military justice had a sorry outcome Sunday with the firing of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, shown below left. For the past nine months, Spencer had tried to dissuade Trump from dictating special treatment for Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher — but in the end Spencer was sacked for his efforts to protect his service.

david ignatiusrichard spencer navy​With Spencer’s firing, Trump has recklessly crossed a line he had generally observed before, which had exempted the military from his belligerent, government-by-tweet interference. But the Gallagher case illustrates how an irascible, vengeful commander in chief is ready to override traditional limits to aid political allies in foreign policy, law enforcement and now military matters.

Spencer was fired by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper late Sunday, supposedly because Esper was “deeply troubled” that Spencer had tried to work out a private deal with the White House that would avoid a direct presidential order scuttling a scheduled SEAL peer-review process. That panel was set to determine whether Gallagher would keep his coveted Trident pin, marking him as a SEAL, after he was convicted in July for posing in a trophy photo with the corpse of a Islamic State captive.

corpse of a Islamic State captive.

Daily Beast, Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for Him, Spencer Ackerman and Asawin Suebsaeng, Nov. 25, 2019. Fallout from the clemency cost the Navy secretary Richard Spencer his job, but a former Pentagon deputy chief backs the ousted official. If Donald Trump gets his wish, he’ll soon take the three convicted or accused war criminals he spared from consequence on the road as special guests in his reelection campaign, according to two sources who have heard Trump discuss their potential roles for the 2020 effort.

Despite military and international backlash to Trump’s Nov. 15 clemency – fallout from which cost Navy Secretary Richard Spencer his job on Sunday – Trump believes he has rectified major injustices. Two people tell The Daily Beast they’ve heard Trump talk about how he’d like to have the now-cleared Clint Lorance, Matthew Golsteyn, or Edward Gallagher show up at his 2020 rallies, or even have a moment on stage at his renomination convention in Charlotte next year. Right-wing media has portrayed all three as martyrs brought down by “political correctness” within the military.

“He briefly discussed making it a big deal at the convention,” said one of these sources, who requested anonymity to talk about private conversations. “The president made a reference to the 2016 [convention] and where they brought on-stage heroes” like former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who refused to execute detained civilians ahead of a devastating Taliban attack.

Former Army Lt. Lorance was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2013 for murder after ordering his soldiers in 2010 to fire on three unarmed Afghan men riding a motorcycle, killing two of them. He walked out of military prison at Fort Leavenworth on Nov. 15. Next month, former Green Beret Maj. Golsteyn was supposed to stand trial for the murder of an unarmed Afghan man whom he told the CIA he killed in the belief the man was a Taliban bombmaker. Golsteyn, who allegedly burned the man’s corpse, pleaded not guilty to the murder; the Green Berets stripped Golsteyn of his Special Forces tab. Lorance and Golsteyn were both causes célèbre in certain military circles and among their right-wing supporters, as was Navy SEAL Chief Gallagher.

A military jury this summer acquitted Gallagher for the murder of a wounded teenage fighter for the so-called Islamic State. The case, which both featured Trump’s conspicuous intervention boosting Gallagher and serious prosecutorial misconduct, began, like Lorance’s, with Gallagher’s own platoonmates reporting his conduct.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and the Military Do Not Share the Same Values, Richard J. Danzig and Sean O’Keefe (Mr. Danzig and Mr. O’Keefe were Navy secretaries under, respectively, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush), Nov. 25, 2019. The armed forces are not an extension of the White House. “Get back to business!” With this tweet, President Trump directed his secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, to stop the naval officers charged with oversight of the SEALs from disciplining one of their own. That order was confirmed on Monday by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and over the weekend, Mr. Spencer was fired.

There are three problems with Mr. Trump’s action. The first is that it is very much the Navy’s business — and every military’s business — to maintain, as the military so often recites and Mr. Spencer put it in his final letter to the president, “good order and discipline.” In conducting their “business,” our military services are not and must not be commanded in support of political ends, as Mr. Trump was apparently doing here.

How the president chooses to value order and discipline in his White House, and if at all, is of real concern to all Americans. But the military is not an extension of his White House. Some may argue that all actions by a president may have some political component, yet instead of constraining that component, this action by this president celebrates and encourages it. 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's "progressive" allies, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 25, 2019. There is a rather vocal sector of the so-called "progressive left" that has decided it is wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbest to tolerate Donald Trump and his administration's fascist policies. This is mainly because Trump has made a few narrowly-focused decisions that the pro-Trump "left" happens to support.

The Trump decisions that have enamored the faux left include the much-ballyhooed "withdrawal" of U.S. military forces from Syria -- actually, some of those forces remain in-country -- as well as trash talking NATO and U.S. bilateral military alliances with South Korea and Japan. These phony progressives also agree with Trump's kooky contention that it was Ukrainian government and not Russian oligarchical interests that interfered with the 2016 U.S. election. Ignored by the left-wing promoters of Trump is well-documented evidence of social media manipulation, analytical data micro-targeting of voters, and penetration of local and state election systems by an alliance of high-tech firms like Facebook; Twitter; YouTube; Cambridge Analytica; the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, Russia; Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and others.

The Trump apologists of the left generally have one thing in common: they despise Hillary Clinton more than Trump. It is very doubtful that had she been elected, Ms. Clinton would have built an East German-type barrier on the southern border; ripped children from their parents and "disappeared" them into a byzantine network of "Christian" foster care, detention centers, and holding facilities; praise white nationalism; interfere with military justice; or demonize the U.S. Foreign Service, Civil Service, the Intelligence Community, the U.S. House of Representatives, the judiciary, and federal law enforcement.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well that just blew up in Lindsey Graham’s face, Bill Palmer, Nov. 25, 2019. Now that Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot has failed and backfired on him, and the House impeachment inquiry is making things worse for Trump by the day, his least effective and most mentally deranged ally is devising a really stupid last ditch plot to save him. Lindsey Graham has announced that he’ll abuse his position as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman to launch a sham investigation into Joe Biden.

bill palmer report logo headerThis of course won’t work. No one outside of Donald Trump’s deranged supporters, who are already going to vote for him anyway, is going to believe or care about anything that comes out of the mouth of an obviously mentally incapacitated flailing idiot like Lindsey Graham. He will, however, succeed in completely destroying himself – and maybe even lose his own Senate seat in the process.

Lindsey Graham is taking particular heat for launching a phony Senate investigation into Joe Biden, a man he’s spent decades heaping praise on. So now Graham is fighting back against this by posting this tweet: “I love Joe Biden as a person but we are not going to give a pass to what is obviously a conflict of interest. I believe Hunter Biden’s association on the Burisma board doesn’t pass the smell test. If a Republican was in the same position, they’d certainly be investigated!”

It’s not too difficult to figure out why this immediately blew up in Lindsey Graham’s face. Not only is he making up an obviously false scandal about Hunter Biden, he’s insisting that if Donald Trump’s kids did this kind of thing, they’d be investigated for it. In reality, Trump’s kids are running a criminal empire and are exploiting the White House to further their criminal antics.

Palmer Report, Rick Perry goes completely off the deep end as Ukraine scandal gets even uglier for him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 25, 2019. Rick Perry, who got wildly in over his head in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, and who is now very likely to be indicted and arrested once Trump has been finished off, is doing what any conservative evangelical fraud would do in his situation: he’s going completely off the deep end.

Rick Perry prison bars (opinion graphic)Rick Perry, shown in a graphic at right, is the kind of laugh-out-loud phony who almost surely would have been a televangelist if Republican politics hadn’t worked out for him. So now that politics finally isn’t working out for him, and he’s in danger of going to prison for his antics, he’s pandering to his faux-Christian roots.

Perry appeared on Fox News this weekend and insisted that Donald Trump only became president because he was “ordained by God.” Oh come on. Trump is a bill palmer report logo headerserial sexual assaulter and career criminal who’s holding kids hostage in cages. Trump punched his ticket to Hell a long time ago, and every real Christian would agree. Perry’s words are nothing short of blasphemous. Bizarrely, Perry tried to cover his bases by asserting that Barack Obama also became president because he was ordained by God.

This is the kind of “noun-verb-God” gibberish that blasphemous phonies like Rick Perry babble about, while actual Christians roll their eyes. It’s notable that Perry is falling back on this crap at a time when he’s backed into a corner in a scandal that’s far bigger than he is.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What unites Trump’s apologists? Minority rule, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ Two questions are asked again and again: How can white evangelical Christians continue to support a man as manifestly immoral as President Trump? And how can congressional Republicans refuse to condemn Trump’s thuggish effort to use taxpayer money to intimidate a foreign leader into helping his ej dionne w open neckreelection campaign?

The answer to both relates to power — not just the power Trump now enjoys but also to the president’s faithfulness to a deal aimed at controlling American political life for a generation or more. Both evangelicals and Republican politicians want to lock in their current policy preferences, no matter how much the country changes or how sharply public opinion swings against them. As a party, the GOP now depends on empowering a minority over the nation’s majority.

This is reflected in its eagerness to enact laws restricting access to the ballot in states it controls. Rationalized as ways to fight mythical “voter fraud,” voter-ID statutes and the purging of voter rolls are designed to make it harder for African Americans, Latinos and young people to vote. The new electorate is a lot less Republican than the old one. The GOP much prefers the old one.

Nov. 24

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Emails show an extensive effort to justify decision to block Ukraine aid, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 24, 2019.​  A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.

The research by the White House Counsel’s Office, which was triggered by a congressional impeachment inquiry announced in September, includes early August email exchanges between acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for withholding the funds after the president had already ordered a hold in mid-July on the nearly $400 million in security assistance, according to the three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

One person briefed on the records examination said White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear whether the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly.

• Democrats to press ahead despite lack of testimony from key witnesses
• Nunes denies allegation he met with top Ukrainian prosecutor about Bidens

Nov. 23

william barr hand out

CaitlinJohnstone.com, Opinion: Barr Ends All Conspiracy Theories Forever By Saying Epstein Died Via A Series Of Coincidences, Caitlin caitlin johnstoneJohnstone, right, Nov. 23, 2019. In an interview with Associated Press, US Attorney General William Barr (above) put all conspiracy theories to rest once and for all by assuring the world that alleged sex trafficker and alleged billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s death was simply the result of a very, very, very long series of unfortunate coincidences.

“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Barr told AP on Thursday.

This perfect storm of unlucky oopsies include Epstein being taken off suicide watch not long after a previous suicide attempt and shortly before his successful suicide, suggestions that the first attempt may have actually been an assault via attempted strangulation inflicted by someone else, two security guards simultaneously falling asleep on the job when they were supposed to be checking on Epstein, one of those guards not even being an actual security guard, security footage of two cameras outside Epstein’s cell being unusable due to a mysterious technical glitch, at least eight Bureau of Prisons officials knowing Epstein wasn’t meant to be left alone in his cell and leaving him alone in his cell anyway, Epstein’s cellmate being transferred out of their shared space the day before Epstein’s death, Epstein signing a will two days before his death, unexplained injuries on Epstein’s wrists and shoulder reported by his family after the autopsy, and a forensic expert who examined Epstein’s body claiming that his injuries were more consistent with homicide than suicide.

“The attorney general also sought to dampen conspiracy theories by people who have questioned whether Epstein really took his own life, saying the evidence proves Epstein killed himself,” AP reports. “He added that he personally reviewed security footage that confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died.”

Well if reporting that he’s reviewed footage which we were previously told didn’t exist isn’t enough to dampen those kooky conspiracy theories, I don’t know what is.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderSo there you have it. The US government says that an intelligence asset with damning information on many powerful individuals did in fact kill himself due to an admittedly bizarre and wildly unlikely series of strange coincidences. I for one have no more questions. Checkmate, conspiracy theorists.

“Mr. Epstein’s death in August at a federal detention center in Manhattan set off a rash of unfounded conspiracy theories on social media that were picked up and repeated by high-profile figures, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. No matter their ideology, the refrain of the theories was the same: Something did not add up,” says The New York Times in its report of Barr’s statements.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It’s a completely unfounded conspiracy theory to believe that someone with ties to powerful institutions and individuals might be murdered in a way that was made to look like a suicide. We don’t live in a world where opaque organizations do evil things in secret, we live in a world where the government is always our friend and the TV would never lie to us. I’m glad these comments made by Barr (whose father in another strange coincidence gave Epstein his first job) have at long last struck a fatal blow to anyone who would doubt the beneficent hand of our beloved institutions.

 New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (Photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (Photo by Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons)

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Says Epstein’s Suicide Resulted From ‘Perfect Storm of Screw-Ups,’ Katie Benner, Nov. 23, 2019. (print ed.) Attorney General William P. Barr said in an interview published on Friday that the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of sex trafficking, in a secure federal prison resulted from “a perfect storm of screw-ups,” rather than any nefarious act.

Mr. Barr’s statement refuted suggestions from members of Mr. Epstein’s family that he may have been murdered. His remarks came the same week that two prison guards were criminally charged, accused in an indictment of failing to check on Mr. Epstein every half-hour as they were required to and then lying about it on prison logs.

“I can understand people who immediately — whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario, because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Mr. Barr said in an interview with The Associated Press as he flew to Montana on Thursday night.

Mr. Epstein’s death in August at a federal detention center in Manhattan set off a rash of unfounded conspiracy theories on social media that were picked up and repeated by high-profile figures, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. No matter their ideology, the refrain of the theories was the same: Something did not add up.

Nov. 22

william barr ap photo patrick semansky

Attorney General William Barr speaks with an Associated Press reporter onboard an aircraft en route to Cleveland, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a two-day trip to Ohio and Montana. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Associated Press, AG Barr: Epstein’s death was a ‘perfect storm of screw-ups,’ Michael Balsamon, Nov. 22, 2019. Attorney General William Barr ap logosaid he initially had his own suspicions about financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death while behind bars at one of the most secure jails in America but came to conclude that his suicide was the result of “a perfect storm of screw-ups.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said his concerns were prompted by the numerous irregularities at the New York jail where Epstein was being held. But he said after the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general continued to investigate, he realized there were a “series” of mistakes made that gave Epstein the chance to take his own life.

“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Barr told the AP as he flew to Montana for an event.

Barr’s comments come days after two correctional officers who were responsible for guarding the wealthy financier when he died were charged with falsifying prison records. Officers Tova Noel and Michael Thomas are accused of sleeping and browsing the internet — shopping for furniture and motorcycles — instead of watching Epstein, who was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.

Epstein took his own life in August while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

His suicide cast a spotlight on the federal Bureau of Prisons, which has been plagued by chronic staffing shortages and outbreaks of violence. The indictment unsealed this week against the officers shows a damning glimpse of safety lapses inside a high-security unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

But the indictment also provided new details that reinforce the idea that, for all the intrigue regarding Epstein and his connections to powerful people, his death was a suicide — as the city’s medical examiner concluded — and possibly preventable.

A lawyer for Thomas, Montell Figgins, said both guards are being “scapegoated.”

The attorney general also sought to dampen conspiracy theories by people who have questioned whether Epstein really took his own life, saying the evidence proves Epstein killed himself. He added that he personally reviewed security footage that confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died.

Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found July 23 on his cell floor with bruises on his neck but was taken off the heightened watch about a week before his death, meaning he was less closely monitored but still supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes. He was required to have a cellmate, but he was left with none after his cellmate was transferred out of the MCC on Aug. 9, the day before his death, the indictment said.

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell when the guards went to deliver breakfast. One of the guards told a supervisor then that they hadn’t done their 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. rounds, according to the indictment.

The Justice Department is still investigating the circumstances that led to Epstein’s death, including why he wasn’t given a cellmate.

“I think it was important to have a roommate in there with him and we’re looking into why that wasn’t done, and I think every indication is that was a screw-up,” Barr said. “The systems to assure that was done were not followed.”

Epstein’s death ended the possibility of a trial that would have involved prominent figures and sparked widespread anger that he wouldn’t have to answer for the allegations.

Even with his death, federal prosecutors in New York have continued to investigate the allegations against Epstein. Barr, who has vowed to aggressively investigate and bring charges against anyone who may have helped Epstein, said investigators were making good progress in the case.

 djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studios

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell, (left to right at Mar-A-Lago.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

Nov. 21

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

C-SPAN, Rep. Adam Schiff Closing Statement: "Is there any accountability?" House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Nov. 20, 2019 (13:31 mins.). Congressman Adam Schiff closing statement: "The question now is not what the president meant…the question is what are we prepared to do about it. Is there any accountability?"

ny times logoNew York Times, Sondland, Defiant, Says He Followed Trump’s Orders to Pressure Ukraine, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Officials Were Told to Work With Giuliani to Pressure Kyiv. Ambassador Gordon Sondland said he worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine “at the express direction of the president.” He cited a clear “quid pro quo” linking a Trump meeting for Ukraine’s leader to investigations and said he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence.

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

gordon sondland sean patrick maloney challenge nov 20 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Sondland implicates Trump in quid pro quo, says Pence, Pompeo knew, Rachael Bade, Aaron C. Davis and Matt Zapotosky​, Nov. 21, 2019.​ A U.S. ambassador on Wednesday explicitly linked President Trump, Vice President Pence and other senior officials to what he came to believe was a campaign to pressure a foreign government to investigate Trump’s political rival in exchange for a coveted White House meeting and hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.

U.S. House logoThe potentially historic, if hotly disputed, testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is the most damaging yet for Trump in Congress’s intensifying inquiry into whether the president should be impeached.

More forcefully than he has before, Sondland declared that the Trump administration would not give Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a chance to visit the White House — unless Zelensky agreed to announce investigations that could help the president politically.

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, Sondland’s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s GOP allies scrambling, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Kayla Epstein, Nov. 21, 2019.​  The bombshell testimony alleging that the president attempted to leverage an invite for the Ukrainian president in exchange for an investigation into his political opponents forced the White House to quickly recalibrate its defense of the president’s actions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Sondland’s dramatic testimony shakes the impeachment debate and undercuts the president, Dan Balz, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed.).​  In clear and unequivocal language, the E.U. ambassador implicated President Trump and other senior officials in the effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr President Donald Trump officialZelensky.

Sondland’s testimony probably accelerates the moves by House Democrats to impeach the president and send the issue to the Senate for adjudication, though at this point the odds of conviction remain long, absent a significant shift in public opinion away from the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Did Ukraine know aid was withheld? 3 takeaways from Cooper’s and Hale’s testimony, Amber Phillips, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed). ​There’s new evidence Ukraine may have known its aid was being withheld when its president talked to Trump in July.

washington post logoWashington Post, Testimony ensnares Pompeo in Ukraine scandal as he mulls political future, John Hudson Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed).​ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became a major focus of the House impeachment inquiry Wednesday, with the recounting of emails and conversations linking him more closely to the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rivals than previously known.

The accounts — provided in sworn testimony by the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland — prompted fresh calls for Pompeo to testify on Capitol Hill and explain his actions concerning a Ukraine policy that he has at times refused to discuss but defended as “wholly appropriate.”

Sondland said several senior U.S. officials knew about a “quid pro quo” linking a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigations into Trump’s political rivals. In addition to Pompeo, he said, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-national security adviser John Bolton were aware of the effort.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In Gordon Sondland, Trump has met his match, Dana Milbank, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed).​ Given the gravity of what he was about to do, Gordon Sondland seemed oddly relaxed. The ambassador’s lawyer sat at his right elbow, picking at his cuticles and staring straight ahead. But Sondland smiled at the cameras, looked curiously around the room, gave a friendly nod to the chairman and sipped his coffee.

Why so at ease? It was the look of a man about to unburden himself. “Was there a quid pro quo?” asked the most important Trump administration figure to testify in the impeachment inquiry to date. “ . . . The answer is yes.”

DEMOCRATIC DEBATE democratic november debate la times collage Custom

Los Angeles Times, Democratic debate in Atlanta. The 10 Democratic candidates in Wednesday’s debate, shown clockwise from top left: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker (Los Angeles Times wire services). Details below.

washington post logoWashington Post, At critical moment, Democrats tackle range of issues, Matt Viser, Annie Linskey and Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 21, 2019.​ With the field growing both larger and more fluid, the 10 presidential candidates opened new lines of conversation and held pointed if brief disputes, some of them focused on black voters, a key constituency.

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Democrats focus on beating Trump, rather than beating up on each other, Michael Scherer, Nov. 21, 2019.​ The debate participants turned their attention on the unabated fear of President Trump’s reelection, amid recent polling showing him with an edge in key Midwestern battleground states.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: 10 claims that caught our attention, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Nov. 21, 2019. Bernie Sanders exaggerated the U.S. homelessness crisis. Andrew Yang’s surprising statistic on paid family leave was spot on.

Nov. 20

Explosive Impeachment Testimony

C-SPAN, Rep. Adam Schiff Closing Statement: "Is there any accountability?" House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Nov. 20, 2019(13:31 mins.). Congressman Adam Schiff closing statement: "The question now is not what the president meant…the question is what are we prepared to do about it. Is there any accountability?"

gordon sondland sean patrick maloney challenge nov 20 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Sondland, Defiant, Says He Followed Trump’s Orders to Pressure Ukraine, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 20, 2019. Officials Were Told to Work With Giuliani to Pressure Kyiv. Ambassador Gordon Sondland said he worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine “at the express direction of the president.” He cited a clear “quid pro quo” linking a Trump meeting for Ukraine’s leader to investigations and said he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland just totally threw Donald Trump and Mike Pence under the bus, Bill Palmer, Nov. 20, 2019. We’ve all been wondering what U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland would do to with his public House impeachment testimony. He got caught lying in his initial closed-door testimony, and he then revised his testimony in writing, but subsequent witnesses have made clear that he still hadn’t told the full truth. But today, Sondland has decided to throw caution to the wind – and throw everyone under the bus.

bill palmer report logo headerGordon Sondland is giving his verbal opening statement right now. But he’s already submitted his written opening statement, and it’s public, and it’s damning. Sondland says this of the Trump regime when it comes to the Ukraine extortion scandal: “They knew what they were doing and why. Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” So who is “everyone”?

Sondland says that Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, and others were in on the Ukraine plot. Sondland says that Trump gave him no choice but to work with Giuliani in Ukraine. Sondland also says that he personally told Pence about it on September 1st, while it was still a secret.

Gordon Sondland is still just getting started with his verbal opening statement, but based on his written statement, it’s already clear that everyone is going under the bus today. Sondland has clearly decided to simply come clean about everything, and hope that his cooperation ends up being enough to convince the House not to go after him on perjury.

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Sondland: ‘Was there a quid pro quo? ... The answer is yes,’ Aaron C. Davis, Nov. 20, 2019. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is poised to testify Wednesday more bluntly than he had before that President Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, sought to condition a White House invite for Ukraine’s new president to demands that gordon sondland ohis country publicly launch investigations that could damage Trump’s political opponents.

U.S. House logo“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland, right, said in prepared testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

In his sworn statement, Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to the European Union also told the House Intelligence Committee that while he never knew for sure if the White House had frozen nearly $400 million in security assistance as part of the pressure campaign against Ukraine, he operated as if that was the case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump lashes out as Sondland acknowledges there was a ‘quid pro quo,' John Wagner, Nov. 20, 2019. Trump planning to head to Texas on day trip; Sondland, Cooper, Hale slated to testify. President Trump lashed out anew at the Democrat-lead impeachment inquiry Wednesday as Gordon Sondland, the most significant witnesses to date, acknowledged there was a “quid pro quo” in the Ukraine controversy in his prepared remarks.

republican elephant logoSondland, the ambassador to the European Union, will be pressed about his knowledge of allegations that Trump sought to leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine and a White House visit by its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, among others.

Two additional witnesses are scheduled Tuesday afternoon: Laura Cooper, the special assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine, and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Gordon Sondland (Washington Post photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Gordon Sondland: He is the ambassador to the European Union, Amber Phillips, Nov. 20, 2019. At the very least, Gordon Sondland’s diplomatic inexperience and tendency to go rogue threatened to muddle U.S. policy toward Ukraine. A number of people who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have said or hinted as much about the ambassador to the European Union.

Another possibility is that Sondland (shown in a Washington Post photo by Meg Kelly above) was acting at the direction of President Trump to pressure Ukrainians to investigate his political rivals.

• Read his private deposition

EVENING TESTIMONY

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Who is Laura Cooper, and why does her public testimony matter for the impeachment inquiry? Kayla Epstein, Nov. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Longtime laura cooperDefense Department official Laura Cooper will testify publicly Wednesday about events she witnessed as part of her role coordinating U.S. assistance to Ukraine’s military. Lawmakers will probably focus on what she knew — and didn’t know — about the holdup of military aid to Ukraine, and whether that decision was an attempt to pressure the country’s president into opening investigations that stood to benefit President Trump politically.

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, told House lawmakers Wednesday evening that her staff received an inquiry from the Ukrainian embassy asking about the status of the funds on July 25. That morning, President Trump had a call with his Ukrainian counterpart in which he asked him to pursue investigations into Trump's political opponents. She is the special assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine.

• Read her opening statement

washington post logodavid hale oWashington Post, Analysis: Who is David Hale, and why does his public testimony matter in the impeachment inquiry? Kayla Epstein, Nov. 20, 2019 (print ed.).

David Hale: He is the undersecretary of state for political affairs.

•  Read his private deposition

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Why Sondland bought the ambassadorship in Brussels, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 20, 2019.  There are two major reasons why Gordon Sondland, who is at the center of the Ukraine weapons-for-contrived political dirt scandal, donated $1 million to the Trump Inaugural Committee to effectively buy the U.S. ambassadorship to the European Union in Brussels.

The first reason is that as the founder of the Provenance Hotels chain and co-founder of Aspen Capital, a merchant bank, Sondland was hoping to identify and purchase older European hotels to absorb into his Provenance chain of high-end boutique hotels. Sondland'c company currently owns hotels in Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Nashville, New Orleans, and Denver. Provenance is currently expanding to Los Angeles and Hermosa Beach, California.

Although Sondland's wife, Katherine Durant, is the current chairman of Provenance, that has not prevented Sondland from shopping in Europe for financially-distressed older hotels ripe for acquisition.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The 5 questions Sondland needs to answer, Amber Phillips, Nov. 20, 2019. At the very least, Gordon Sondland’s diplomatic inexperience and tendency to go rogue threatened to muddle U.S. policy toward Ukraine. A number of people who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have said or hinted as much about the ambassador to the European Union.

european union logo rectangleAnother possibility is that Sondland was acting at the direction of President Trump to pressure Ukrainians to investigate his political rivals.

Either way, he is one of the few witnesses in the impeachment inquiry who is in a position to confirm what Trump wanted out of Ukraine in exchange for holding up its military aid. He’s testifying publicly Wednesday. Here are the five questions we have for Sondland.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. ambassador could tie president directly to effort to persuade Ukraine to help him, Aaron C. Davis and Rachael Bade, Nov. 20, 2019. Democrats are expected to question Gordon Sondland, the millionaire Republican donor-turned- ambassador, on inconsistencies between his testimony and that of a growing number of witnesses.

djt gordon sondland Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why Donald Trump could be toast this week, Shirley Kennedy, Nov. 20, 2019. Nick Akerman, former Watergate prosecutor, told Huffington Post that Donald Trump is going to be toast this week. He believes that the upcoming testimony of Gordon Sondland will be the butter on that toast. Akerman believes that Sondland will “tell the whole story,” including giving details and providing documents.

As he points out, plenty of witnesses are already corroborating the original whistleblower’s claim that Trump engaged in bribery in his dealings with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Akerman further told HuffPost that “there’s no question” that Trump was soliciting an investigation into Joe Biden “using money as appropriated by the U.S. Congress.” He calls it what Pelosi and now the rest of us are calling it: “Pure bribery.”

bill palmer report logo headerRecall that Sondland has already “corrected” his deposition testimony and revealed to the media that he did, in fact, “recall” his discussions with Trump that involved Ukraine announcing an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden if they wanted the military funding that had already been earmarked for that purpose. The problem now is can we trust Sondland to do the right thing? Slate shares that Sondland had multiple direct conversations with Trump. He is, therefore, in the unique position of giving the only direct testimony of Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate the Bidens in exchange for military aid.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: His testimony: The contradictions and discrepancies, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 20, 2019. The U.S. ambassador to the European Union will be on the hot seat today. Here's how his testimony differs from that of other witnesses.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Vindman’s Lawyer Asks Fox News to Retract Espionage Allegation, Danny Hakim, Nov. 20, 2019. A guest on a Fox show suggested that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key figure in the impeachment hearings, was guilty of spying. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman is hitting back at the smear campaign against him.

A lawyer for Colonel Vindman, the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert, sent a warning letter to Fox News on Wednesday seeking a retraction or correction of an October segment hosted by one of the network’s biggest personalities, Laura Ingraham, which baselessly suggested that the colonel, a decorated Iraq war veteran, might be guilty of espionage.

The letter sent by David Pressman, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, the law firm run by David Boies, also highlighted inflammatory statements made on the network by others, including President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., who has repeatedly attacked Colonel Vindman, and Tucker Carlson, another prominent Fox host.

“LTC Vindman and his family have been forced to examine options, including potentially moving onto a military base, in order to ensure their physical security in the face of threats rooted in the falsehood that Fox News originated,” Mr. Pressman wrote in the letter.

ny times logoNew York Times, The F.B.I. tried to interview the whistle-blower in the Ukraine case, Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes, Nov. 20, 2019. Agents asked to speak with him last month but never did, though the bureau made clear to his lawyers that he was not the target of a continuing investigation. The F.B.I. sought last month to interview the whistle-blower who helped ignite the impeachment inquiry as a witness in a continuing investigation, several people familiar with the matter said.

FBI logoThe interview never took place. It is not clear why agents wanted to talk to the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. analyst, or how interested they remain in speaking to him.

The F.B.I. contacted lawyers for the whistle-blower and did not use his name in making the request. The whistle-blower’s account of the effort by President Trump, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and administration officials to push Ukraine to pursue investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically became a road map for the House’s impeachment investigation and has been largely corroborated by subsequent testimony.

The F.B.I. made clear to his lawyers that the whistle-blower was not the target of any continuing investigations, according to people familiar with the matter.

DAY 3 TESTIMONY

state dept map logo Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Witnesses undercut Trump’s defense about Ukraine phone call, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 20, 2019. Three current and former kurt volkerTrump administration officials described how they harbored a variety of concerns surrounding the July phone call.

• Analysis: Volker, right, makes a big correction, and other takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony
• Analysis: This answer from Kurt Volker makes very little sense

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis 7 takeaways from Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, Aaron Blake, Nov. 20, 2019. After three witnesses last week painted a broad picture of a U.S. foreign policy hijacked by political interests, this week the impeachment inquiry into President Trump began with testimony Tuesday from four people who serve inside the White House and on the front lines of U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. Tuesday’s hearings featured:

jennifer williams Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the lead Ukraine expert on the National Security Council
• Jennifer Williams, right, a State Department employee who was detailed to Vice President Pence on Eurasia matters
• Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine
• Tim Morrison, a former NSC aide

All four previously testified in closed-door depositions. Here’s what we learned from their latest testimony. 1. A big correction from Volker

washington post logoWashington Post, Critic’s Notebook: Lt. Col. Vindman’s uniform spoke loud. His humanity spoke louder, Robin Givhan, Nov. 20, 2019. The uniform did what uniforms are designed to do. When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, his striking presence in his serviceable eyeglasses and his military uniform exuded authority, ferocity and patriotism.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019As one of the Democratic committee members noted admiringly, Vindman, right, was wearing a Purple Heart on his uniform. He also had a Combat Infantry Badge pinned on the left side of his chest, indicating he’d been involved in active ground combat.

For civilian viewers, it was helpful to understand the meanings of some of the insignia on his jacket. But even without the details, anyone looking at the vast collage of medals spread across his chest could understand the story they told: that Vindman is one of the many dedicated individuals who choose to stand guard so that others might sleep easily.

World Impact

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. military aid bolsters Ukraine’s front lines, but the Trump drama makes Kyiv nervous, Sergey Morgunov, Will Englund and Michael Birnbaum, Nov. 20, 2019. President Trump’s hold on aid did not seriously disrupt Ukraine’s military. The real fallout has been one of perception among Ukrainian officials and others — the worry that the White House cannot always be counted on to be in Kyiv’s corner.

Nov. 19

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoalexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Washington Post, Live Updates: Trump’s Ukraine call was ‘a partisan play,’ Vindman says, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 19, 2019. ‘It was my duty to report my concerns,’ White House Ukraine expert says. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said a phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president prompted him to report it to White House lawyers. Vindman is one of four key witnesses who is testifying today.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, a senior National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry was “improper” and prompted him to report it to an NSC lawyer.

Vindman is one of four key witnesses from the White House and State Department who are testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former Trump administration envoy to Ukraine. House investigators are seeking to prove Trump leveraged military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden, his son Hunter and other Democrats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Who is Jennifer Williams, and why does her public testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 19, 2019. On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams, a Russia adviser for Vice President Pence, is testifying publicly in the impeachment inquiry about her reaction to listening to the call between President Trump and Ukraine’s new president.

jennifer williamsRead her opening statement from her public testimony | Read The Post’s coverage of her private testimony.

mike pence oWho she is: Williams, left, is the top Russia adviser for Vice President Pence, although she is technically employed by the State Department. That technicality matters, because when Pence’s office was asked to react to a tweet from Trump attacking her, his spokeswoman merely noted that she is a State Department employee.

Why she matters: She is another firsthand witness who listened to the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She also can shed light on the decision for Pence, right, to pull out of attending Zelensky’s inauguration in May. She’ll be testifying alongside Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, and another person who listened in on the Trump-Zelensky call.

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, House is investigating whether Trump lied to Mueller, its general counsel told a court, Ann E. Marimow, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachael Bade, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The statement came in arguments before appeals court judges in Washington over Congress’s request to have secret grand jury evidence from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report released for its impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate staff met IRS whistleblower over concerns about audit of Trump or Pence, Jeff Stein and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Staff for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, spoke with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month.
Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President irs logoTrump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.

Staff members for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are expected to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.

It could not be learned to what extent the senators consider the whistleblower a credible source. Trump administration officials have previously played down the complaint’s significance and suggested that it is politically motivated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump-friendly judges run out the clock on impeachment, Dana Milbank, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). There’s not much the Trump administration and House Democrats agree on during these impeachment proceedings, but Judge Richard J. Leon, left, brought them together — in opposition to him. The oft-overturned Leon — he has been richard j. leon reversed in cases involving pay protection for home health-care workers, housing discrimination, the government’s telephone surveillance program and others — isn’t the only one dragging his feet in a way that benefits Trump. Another judge on the D.C. district court, Trevor McFadden, a Trump transition volunteer and Trump DOJ official before Trump appointed him to the court, has been similarly unhurried.

At this writing, Leon has yet to dismiss the now-meaningless suit. Why? My sources offer two explanations — neither benign. He may be keeping the case active so he’ll be assigned any other impeachment-related cases when filed. Or Leon, who led House GOP investigations of President Bill Clinton before George W. Bush appointed him to the court, recognizes the law does not support Trump’s monarchical view of absolute immunity from congressional inquiry — and therefore the best way to help Trump is to run out the clock on impeachment.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The most alarming part of Barr’s speech was its angrily partisan tone, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr’s speech to the Federalist Society on Friday had many disturbing elements: Barr set out a dangerously inflated view of presidential power. He inveighed against judges for “usurping william barr new opresidential decision-making authority” and appointing themselves “the ultimate arbiter” of disputes between the president and Congress. He dismissed the role of congressional oversight — what he termed the “constant harassment” of the executive branch.

Oblivious to his own double standards, Barr decried Democrats’ “unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process” and “pursuit of scores of parallel ‘investigations’ through an avalanche of subpoenas.”

Remember Merrick Garland? Remember Benghazi?

 mina chang time cover and official Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump appointee accused of inflating her résumé and faking a Time cover has resigned, Reis Thebault, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Mina Chang (shown above  in her official photo and in a fake Time Magazine cover lauding her) defended herself and criticized the “toxic environment” at the State Department. Mina Chang, the senior State Department official whose inflated résumé and faked Time magazine cover raised further questions about the Trump administration’s vetting process, has resigned.

In a Monday letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — obtained by The Washington Post and first reported by Politico — Chang defended herself and criticized the “toxic environment” at the agency, where she had served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations since April.

Chang denied creating or commissioning the Time cover and wrote that her resignation should be seen “as a protest and not as surrender,” closing by saying that stepping down was “the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time.”

Her departure comes a week after an NBC News investigation found that the 35-year-old Trump appointee embellished her work history and made misleading claims about her professional background. In her letter, Chang challenged the report and accused her State Department superiors of refusing to defend her from “a character assassination based solely on innuendo.”

Nov. 18

U.S. Headlines

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller grand-jury material needed, Congress tells court, Ann E. Marimow and Spencer S. Hsu​, Nov. 18, 2019. A federal appeals court in Washington is considering whether the Justice Department must immediately release to Congress secret grand-jury materials from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

U.S. House logoAt the Monday hearing, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is reviewing a lower-court ruling that requires disclosure of evidence the House Judiciary Committee says it needs in its “urgent efforts” to determine whether President Trump committed impeachable offenses.

beryl howellLast month, Judge Beryl A. Howell, right, chief of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, found that the House was legally engaged in a judicial process that exempts Congress from grand-jury secrecy rules.

The case is one of several separation-of-powers battles teed up for the Supreme Court. Trump’s private lawyers last week asked the high court to block a subpoena for his tax records from New York prosecutors and to stop a separate House subpoena for his personal and business records. The Justice Department’s appeal is being heard by a three-member panel made up of Judges Judith W. Rogers, Thomas B. Griffith and Neomi Rao.

Any delay, House lawyers said, will deprive the investigationof essential information. In her 75-page opinion, Howell said the Judiciary Committee and the House, in determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment, are serving like a grand jury.

pat cipollone file croppedIn opposing the release, Trump administration lawyers said a Watergate-era court ruling was wrongly decided in finding impeachment proceedings exempt from grand-jury secrecy rules. “These arguments smack of farce,” she wrote, citing a letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, to House leaders saying the administration would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

“The reality,” Howell wrote, “is that DOJ and the White House have been openly stonewalling the House’s efforts to get information by subpoena and by agreement, and the White House has flatly stated that the Administration will not cooperate with congressional requests for information.”

Wall Street Journal, Sondland Kept Trump Administration Officials Apprised of Ukraine Push, Rebecca Ballhaus, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). A U.S. ambassador set to testify this week in the House impeachment inquiry kept several Trump administration officials apprised of his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations that President Trump would later discuss in a July call with his Ukranian counterpart, emails reviewd by the Wall Street Journal show. The ambassador is Gordon Sondland.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland just got a bomb dropped on him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2019. For the past couple weeks, Gordon Sondland has been taking on water from all sides and just barely hanging on by a thread. Now, based on new information about what was really going on behind the scenes in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot, it’s fair to say that Sondland is officially drowning – and this comes just days before he’s scheduled to publicly testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

gordon sondland oGordon Sondland, right, was so hellbent on forcing Ukraine to promote the fake Biden scandal, he was almost maniacally out of control about it, according to a startling new expose from the Daily Beast. Sondland apparently spent his meeting with Ukrainian government representatives yelling at them and “ferociously” demanding that they cave to Donald Trump’s extortion demands. Sondland’s behavior in the scandal was “erratic” according to those who witnessed him in action.

bill palmer report logo headerThis paints Sondland as a guy who, despite having no known motive beyond wanting to please his hero Donald Trump, went completely out of his mind in the name of furthering Trump’s international criminal scheming. Sondland recently decided to belatedly start coming clean to the House impeachment inquiry, in the apparent hope of avoiding perjury charges, but he appears to still be leaving out several key confirmed details. Meanwhile, Trump is claiming that he barely knows Sondland, meaning that no magic pardon is coming.

So what’s Gordon Sondland going to do? If he publicly testifies this week to the full extent of the crimes that he and Donald Trump committed, he could still end up with serious criminal exposure – both for perjury and for his increasingly ugly role in the criminal Ukraine plot. That said, Sondland may still have a way out of this, thanks to another new bombshell.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night that it has emails proving that Gordon Sondland was looping in Mick Mulvaney and Rick Perry about his Ukraine extortion efforts dating back to before Donald Trump picked up the phone and committed the impeachable offense. If Sondland can help solidify criminal cases against more important players like Mulvaney and Perry, he could yet prove himself valuable enough as a cooperator to avoid going to prison when this is over.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump says he will ‘strongly consider’ testifying in writing in impeachment probe, John Wagner and Brittany Shammas, Nov. 18, 2019. Eight current and former officials are scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week to testify about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine for investigations that could benefit him politically.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Nancy Pelosi played Donald Trump even more than we thought, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2019. Palmer Report just got done explaining how Speaker of the djt nancy pelosiHouse Nancy Pelosi played Donald Trump by baiting him into saying he’ll provide written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry. If he went through with it he’d either incriminate or perjure himself. If he backed down, she could accuse him of not having the courage to do what he said he’d do. Now it turns out there’s even more to it.

Now that Donald Trump has publicly agreed to provide written testimony to the House impeachment inquiry, the House is arguing in court today that it needs Robert Mueller’s grand jury materials because it believes Trump lied in his written testimony to Mueller, according to CNN and other major news outlets. Why is this so important?

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Pelosi appeared on Face The Nation this weekend, she knew that House lawyers would be making this argument in court today. She just baited Donald Trump into putting his written impeachment testimony front and center in the national discussion, at a time when she’s trying to convince a judge to turn over evidence that will prove whether or not Trump lied in his precious written testimony. This could help convince the judge to go ahead and turn over the grand jury evidence.

Nancy Pelosi is playing four dimensional chess, while Donald Trump is eating his checkers. She’s baiting him in real time, and he’s falling for it without even realizing what’s happening to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Johnson says whistleblower’s sources ‘exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed,’ Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian and Douglas MacMillan, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). “This would have been far better off if we would’ve just taken care of this behind the scenes,” the Wisconsin Republican said Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: No, John Roberts and the Supreme Court didn’t just side with Donald Trump on his tax returns, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2019. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, below left, just announced that he’s putting a hold on the recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Donald Trump’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records and tax returns to the john roberts oHouse impeachment inquiry. This is widely being interpreted as the Supreme Court siding with Trump on the matter. But that’s not what happened today – at all.

The Appeals Court ruling generated a deadline of this Wednesday for Donald Trump’s financial records to be turned over. Trump appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. Obviously, the Supreme Court isn’t going to be able to figure out before Wednesday how it wants to respond to this appeal.

So, just as things are supposed to work, Roberts announced today that he’s placing a hold on the deadline until the Supreme Court can decide what it wants to do. The next step will be for the Justices to decide if they even want to take up the case. This could still be over within a matter of days.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are some fatalists within the Resistance who decided a long time ago that because there are five conservative Supreme Court Justices, the court will automatically side with Donald Trump on any given ruling. But that’s not how anything works. The dispute over Trump’s financial records is not an ideological matter. There’s no reason to expect that Roberts will side with Trump in this case, and last we checked, Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t get to vote twice. In any case, for now, the upshot is that the Supreme Court has not in any way sided with Trump by making the move it made today. Today’s move was always, and all but automatically, going to happen as a matter of procedure.

U.S. Politicsdjt read transcript photo Custom

Trump supporters display teeshirts with logos "Read the Transcript" at a recent Trump political rally supporting fellow Republicans (file photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: President Trump Bet Big This Election Year. Here’s Why He Lost, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). In Louisiana and Kentucky, Mr. Trump’s political pleas appeared to energize Democrats and political moderates as much as his own base, sending turnout in cities and suburbs soaring.

When President Trump showed up in Louisiana for the third time in just over a month to try to help Republicans win the governor’s race, he veered off script and got to the heart of why he was staging such an unusual political intervention. His attempt to lift Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky to victory this month had failed, Mr. Trump explained, and it would look bad for him to lose another race in a heavily Republican state.

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom“You got to give me a big win, please, O.K.,” the president pleaded with a red-hatted crowd last Thursday in Bossier City, La.

But on Saturday night, Mr. Trump’s wager backfired in spectacular fashion.

Not only did Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, win re-election by more than 40,000 votes, he did so with the same coalition that propelled Governor-elect Andy Beshear to victory in Kentucky and that could put the president’s re-election chances in grave jeopardy next year. Like Mr. Beshear, Mr. Edwards energized a combination of African-Americans and moderate whites in and around the urban centers of his state, building decisive margins in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

It was a striking setback for a president who proclaimed himself his party’s kingmaker in last year’s midterms, but has a decidedly mixed record when it comes to pushing his chosen candidates to victory in general elections. And it continued a November losing streak that included not only Mr. Bevin’s loss in Kentucky, but a wave of state and local Democratic victories in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Missouri that also were driven by suburban voters.

The results in Kentucky and Louisiana are particularly ominous for the president, in part because they indicate that his suburban problem extends to traditionally conservative Southern states and may prove even more perilous in the moderate Midwest next year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump backs off his flavored vape ban — for exactly the reason he said he wouldn’t, Aaron Blake, Nov. 18, 2019. It’s hardly a surprise that President Trump is backing off his previously announced flavored vape ban. The whole thing seemed rather haphazard at the time, and he’s no stranger to such reversals. He was going to get tough on guns before he didn’t. He was going to do a full and immediate Syria withdrawal, until he wasn’t.

His administration is pockmarked with officials around Trump having to adjust to his whims, only to see the whims soon fade to the background, along with the policies lodged to satisfy them.

Nov. 17

U.S. Political Headlines

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Sondland acted at Trump’s behest, senior official says, Colby Itkowitz, Karoun Demirjian, Michael Kranish and Shane Harris, Nov. 17, 2019 (print ed.). A former White House national security official told House investigators that Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, was acting at President Trump’s behest and spoke to a top Ukrainian official about exchanging military aid for political investigations — two elements at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Tim Morrison OMB, left in OctoberTim Morrison, right, the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, testified that between July 16 and Sept. 11, he understood that Sondland had spoken to Trump about half a dozen times, according to a transcript of his sworn Oct. 31 deposition released by House committees Saturday. Trump has said he does not know Sondland well and has tried to distance himself from the E.U. ambassador, whom Trump put in charge of Ukraine policy along with two others, even though Ukraine is not part of the European Union.

“His mandate from the president was to go make deals,” Morrison said of Sondland.

Sondland continues to emerge as possibly the key figure in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as multiple witnesses have now described him as central to answering the question at the heart of the effort to remove Trump from office: Did the president specifically withhold military aid and a White House visit desperately sought by the new Ukrainian government in the face of Russian aggression in exchange for investigations into his political rivals?

Sondland has provided sworn testimony behind closed doors, but questions have been raised about whether he was fully forthcoming with lawmakers. He has already revised his testimony once, and Sondland will testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday in what is now a highly anticipated appearance.

mark sandy Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, White House budget official says decision to delay aid to Ukraine was highly irregular, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Colby Itkowitz and Erica Werner, Nov. 17, 2019 (print ed.). Saturday's testimony from Mark Sandy, above, who is the first employee of the Office of Management and Budget to testify in the House’s probe, appeared to confirm Democrats’ suspicions that the decision to withhold congressionally approved funds for Ukraine was a political one.

U.S. Politics (Cont. from Above.)

john bel edwards eddie rispone

ny times logoNew York Times, In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for a Democrat and a Hard Loss for Trump, Rick Rojas and Jeremy Alford, Nov. 17, 2019 (print ed.). Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, above left, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, narrowly won re-election Saturday, overcoming the intervention of President Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to lift the Republicans and demonstrate his own clout.

The result was just as much a stinging rebuke for Mr. Trump, who had wagered significant political capital on the race in an effort to lift Eddie Rispone, 70, above right,the Republican nominee. The president campaigned for Mr. Rispone twice in the final two weeks of the race, warning Louisiana voters that a loss would reflect poorly on his presidency. That appeal was insufficient, just as it was in Kentucky earlier this month, where Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, was defeated despite an election eve visit from Mr. Trump. Of the three governor’s races in deep red states this year, Republicans won only one, in Mississippi.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe victory was a deeply personal one for Mr. Edwards, a conservative Democrat in a state and region where his party can often be a disqualifier in statewide races. He campaigned on his accomplishments in office, like balancing the budget, increasing education spending and expanding Medicaid. He also highlighted his conservative stances on abortion and guns and showcased his background as a West Point graduate and son of a sheriff, to appeal to right-leaning voters.

Before the election, Mr. Rispone, a construction magnate from Baton Rouge, had never before run for political office. He vaulted ahead after more prominent Republicans decided republican party upside downagainst running and became competitive against the governor after cloaking himself in Mr. Trump’s popularity.

“This is about the power of the vote and about people in this state standing up and standing together to do what’s right for this state,” said the Rev. A. J. Johnson, a pastor at First Pilgrim Calvary Baptist, a predominantly African-American congregation in Geismar, southeast of Baton Rouge. “It’s not about what a president thinks is right for this state.”

Trump Hospital Visit / Media

Associated Press via Washington Post, Trump undergoes tests at Walter Reed hospital as part of annual physical, White House says, Jill Colvin, Nov. 16, 2019. The appointment wasn’t on President Trump’s weekend public schedule. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump, 73, wanted to take advantage of “a free weekend.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just completely changed his story about why he was at Walter Reed hospital, Bill Palmer, Nov. 17, 2019. When Donald Trump was unexpectedly taken to Walter Reed Medical Center on Saturday, his White House inexplicably claimed that it was simply because he had decided to do part of his annual physical three months early. No one bought this absurd explanation, and it set off internet-wide speculation about whether he’d had a health emergency. Now Trump is completely changing his story.

bill palmer report logo headerShortly after midnight, Donald Trump posted this tweet: “Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center. Those are truly some of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”

Wait, which one is it? Are we supposed to believe that Trump went to a military hospital to visit with a military family, and just decided to get part of his annual physical done three month early while he was there? Have any of you ever visited someone in the hospital, and then randomly decided to get some routine tests run for no reason while you were there? That’s not how anything works, even if you’re the president.

'Deep State' / Drugs

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The real ‘deep state’ is about corporate power, not entrenched bureaucrats, Mike Lofgren (right, former Republican congressional staff member and the author of The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government), Nov. 17, 2019. This right-wing catchphrase supposedly describes rebellious mike lofgren photo covergovernment workers. But moneyed influencers are the real “deep state.”

With impeachment hearings underway, conservatives’ favorite catchphrase, the “deep state,” has gotten a thorough airing. Stephen Miller, the White House’s hard-line immigration adviser, called the Ukraine whistleblower a “saboteur,” adding, “I know the difference between a whistleblower and a deep state operative.”

As the author who popularized this term, I’m invoking the privilege of correcting them. There is no deep state as the right imagines it — that is, a secret cabal of government insiders hellbent on undermining the White House. Rather, it is Trump himself, under the camouflage of populist rhetoric, who has overseen the open expansion of the deep state: entrenched interests gaining outsize influence and setting their own policy agenda, unchecked by the will of the people, their elected representatives or the civil servants meant to regulate them.

peter dale scott american deep state rowman and littlefield Custom

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: Author, poet and retired University of California at Berkeley professor Peter Dale Scott, shown above, a former Canadian diplomat, is credited elsewhere with helping popularize the terms "Deep State" and "Deep Politics" beginning decades ago as applied to United States civic affairs via his books and articles.

The books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), Deep Politics II (1994, republished and updated in 2013 as Oswald, Mexico and Deep Politics) and The American Deep State (2015). A reluctance to credit Scott for the terms may stem from a desire in more conventional political circles to normalize the political methods (including arms and narcotics trafficking, money laundering and political assassinations) that some political operatives and their leaders have found effective in American politics on occasion. 

Nov. 16

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Inquiry Noted Above

washington post logomark sandy CustomWashington Post, White House budget official says decision to delay aid to Ukraine was highly irregular, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Colby Itkowitz and Erica Werner, Nov. 16, 2019. Saturday's testimony from Mark Sandy, right, who is the first employee of the Office of Management and Budget to testify in the House’s probe, appeared to confirm Democrats’ suspicions that the decision to withhold congressionally approved funds for Ukraine was a political one.

david holmes state djt testimony nov 15 2019 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). The American official in Kiev also said he was told that Mr. Trump cared more about the investigations in Ukraine than about the country. An official from the United States Embassy in Kiev confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he had overheard a call between President Trump and a top American diplomat in July in which the president asked whether Ukraine was going to move forward with an investigation he wanted.

The official, David Holmes, above right, testified privately that he was at a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when he overheard Mr. Trump on a cellphone call loudly asking Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals. Mr. Sondland, who had just come from a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and the country’s president, replied in the affirmative.

“So, he’s going to do the investigation?” Mr. Trump asked, according to a copy of Mr. Holmes’s opening statement posted by CNN and confirmed by The New York Times.

marie yovanovitch cbs

washington post logo

Washington Post, Trump attacks ambassador even as she describes feeling threatened by him, Rosalind S. Helderman and Rachael Bade​, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Yovanovitch says that Trump transcript ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ her. While the former ambassador to Ukraine was testifying, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Yovanovitch told lawmakers Friday that when she read how President Trump had talked about her to his Ukrainian counterpart in a July phone call — saying ominously that “she’s going to go through some things” — the color drained from her face.

“It sounded like a threat,” she said.

marie yovanovitchEven as Yovanovitch testified, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

The president’s denigration of a widely respected Foreign Service officer — while she calmly but forcefully denounced his earlier attacks against her — drew widespread criticism, with many Democratic lawmakers calling it witness intimidation.

adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence committee chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters during a break in the hearing that the nation had seen “witness intimidation in real time” by the president.

Speaking on Fox News, former independent counsel Ken Starr, a frequent Trump defender, said the president “was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment.”

The dramatic narrative of Yovanovitch’s abrupt recall this spring from her post in Kyiv, where she had served as ambassador since 2016, formed the centerpiece of the second day of the House public impeachment hearings.

ny times logoPresident Donald Trump officialNew York Times, Editorial: Did President Trump Just Earn Himself Another Article of Impeachment? Editorial Board, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Now there’s witness intimidation and clearer evidence he had no interest in cleaning up Ukraine. Republican defenders of Donald Trump have argued that he withheld congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine and a promised White House meeting because he wanted assurances that Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was serious about fighting corruption.

Sworn testimony in the House impeachment inquiry on Friday obliterated that defense, revealing that Mr. Trump was interested in assurances of a very different kind.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Revenge of the Bureaucrats, Elizabeth Drew (Washington-based journalist who covered Watergate), Nov. 16, 2019. Honesty is the best foreign policy. The opening hearings on the Ukraine scandal demonstrated that mundane government processes and seemingly colorless bureaucrats are what keep our country going. It was these sorts of unknown public servants who maintained the executive branch functioning during Watergate — and are doing so now while our distracted president and his acolytes try to circumvent the rules.

george kent oThe witnesses in the first week of open hearings were three lifelong career diplomats — on Wednesday, William Taylor, currently the chargé d’affaires in Ukraine, and George Kent, right, the senior State Department official on Ukraine; and on Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat whom President Trump fired as ambassador to Ukraine because she got in the way of his private schemes.

While the three witnesses came across as unusually admirable, they’re not atypical of their breed. They will endure only so much abuse or see only so much scandal around them before rising up in some way. All three testified in defiance of the president.

Mr. Trump cannot fathom such people, because they’re not interested in big money or fame. The “bureaucracy” may seem sluggish, stubborn and unimaginative at times, but it also can stand as a bulwark against assaults on the laws and the Constitution by the passers-through who inhabit the administration of the moment. Mr. Trump made a big mistake by demeaning civil servants from the outset (his awkward, self-reverential speech to the C.I.A. on his first full day in office was an embarrassment and also an omen) and then setting about trying to make them irrelevant. mina chang time cover and official Custom

washington post logomax boot screen shotWashington Post, Opinion: Forget the best and brightest. Trump chooses the dim and disgraceful, Max Boot, right, Nov. 16, 2019. A State Department official inflated her résumé. She’s not the first Trump appointee to do so. It is one of the more minor — and yet more telling — scandals of a scandal-plagued administration: NBC News reports that Mina Chang, the deputy assistant secretary of state for conflict and stability operations, has brazenly falsified her background.

She claims to be an alumna of Harvard Business School and a graduate of the Army War College even though she did not receive any degree from either institution. (She apparently attended an unaccredited Christian college called the University of the Nations.) She says she was part of a United Nations panel, but the U.N. has no mina chang david patraeus Customrecord of her participation. She even went so far as to create a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it.

Chang, shown at left with former CIA Director David Petraeus (who left office in disgrace following a 2012 affair with a former aide), would never have been appointed by any other president, yet she fits right into an administration headed by a president who notoriously created his own phony Time magazine cover. A grifter himself, Trump has filled his administration with people who either lack professional qualifications or ethical standards — and often both.

These are people such as Monica Crowley, an assistant secretary of the Treasury with a record of plagiarism, and who is notorious for a tweet praising the Berlin Wall (“Walls work”). Or former national security adviser Michael Flynn, now a convicted felon after lying to the FBI. Or Gordon Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor who became a mastermind of U.S. policy toward Ukraine because he was willing to do Trump’s unethical bidding.

Or former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, an erstwhile U.S. attorney in Iowa and then a peddler of toilets for “well-endowed” men who came to Trump’s attention by overzealously defending him on Fox News. Or Stephen Miller, the White House point person on immigration who espoused white supremacist views in messages obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Or Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who didn’t qualify for a security clearance yet acts as a shadow secretary of state — and a leading booster of the murderous Saudi crown prince.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence aide just gave impeachment testimony that totally screws Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 16, 2019. Earlier this week, Mike Pence aide Jennifer mike pence oWilliams testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry. Based on what little leaked out at the time, it appeared that her testimony was bad for Donald Trump. Her testimony transcript has been released this evening, and it’s worse for Trump than we were expecting.

Jennifer Williams was one of several people who listened in on Donald Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. When she first agreed to give impeachment testimony, we were all left wondering what her motivations were. Would she try to protect Trump, in the hope of scoring Mike Pence some points with bill palmer report logo headerTrump? Would she try to protect Pence by selling Trump out? Was she merely testifying because she was subpoenaed and didn’t want to face legal repercussions?

Based on her testimony, it appears Williams has indeed decided to sell Donald Trump out. When she was asked how she viewed Trump’s Ukraine phone call, she characterized it as “unusual and inappropriate.” To be clear, she didn’t have to say this; she could have just said that she had no opinion. She then took things even further by saying “I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold.”

She’ll likely be called back to testify in front of the television cameras for all to see.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Envoy Testifies of Intimidation by Trump, He Attacks Her Anew, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Schiff Warns Against Efforts to Deter Impeachment Witnesses. President Trump attacked Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on Twitter while she testified before investigators.
Representative Adam Schiff interrupted the hearing to read the tweet. “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously,” he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, An Ambassador Headlines a Bad Day for Trump, Mark Leibovich, Nov. 16 2019 (print ed.). Marie Yovanovitch walked to her seat with a story to tell. She exited nearly seven hours later to applause. “In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation,” Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted American ambassador to Ukraine, said on Friday. “This has been a very painful period.”

It was just after 9 a.m. and the career diplomat and self-declared “private person” found herself engulfed in a ritual camera burst. She had entered the hearing room by a side door, as if she could avoid a fuss.

washington post logocia logoWashington Post, How a lone CIA analyst triggered the inquiry that has engulfed U.S. politics, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Paul Sonne, Nov. 16, 2019. Dozens of senior officials were aware of or involved in President Trump's shadow foreign policy on Ukraine. It is not clear whether any of it would have come to light were it not for a memo from a relatively junior CIA employee, who is now the target of almost daily attacks by Trump and right-wing efforts to make his identity widely public.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House budget official with knowledge of delay in military aid to Ukraine is testifying today, Colby Itkowitz and Erica Werner​, Nov. 16, 2019. House impeachment investigators hope Mark Sandy, a longtime employee, will fill out their understanding of why nearly $400 million in assistance was held up.

• Analysis: Holmes testimony is an unwelcome Friday night surprise for Trump
• Behind the New York Times and Politico articles that Trump allies keep citing
• Stefanik emerges in hearings as key Trump defender — and GOP celebrity
• Witness says he overheard Trump demand Ukrainian.

Trump Ailng? Profiteering?

bill palmer report logo headerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has unexpectedly gone to Walter Reed hospital – and something doesn’t add up, Bill Palmer Nov. 16, 2019. The White House is claiming that it’s because Trump suddenly decided to have portions of his annual physical done. For too many obvious reasons to count, this doesn’t even come close to adding up – but what’s really going on?

Trump isn’t supposed to have his annual physical until February; it’s still November. The notion that he’s having his “annual” physical done three months early is so absurd that it pretty much disqualifies it from even being an annual physical; what if his health situation changed between now an February? Moreover, nothing of the sort was on Donald Trump’s official schedule today. That leaves a couple possibilities.

washington post logosecret service logoWashington Post, Trump’s Doral resort was a last-minute addition in search for G-7 site, email shows, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 16, 2019. The Secret Service agents vetting sites for next year's Group of Seven summit had already cut the list to four finalists when they were told to add Doral, according to an internal email released after a public-records request.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Versions of Impeachment for a Divided Nation, in Prime Time, Michael M. Grynbaum, Nov. 16, 2019. At a historic moment, viewers turn to fox news logo SmallMSNBC and Fox News, reflecting a sharp political divide. For a glimpse at the country’s divided political reality, look no farther than a pair of television studios on opposite sides of the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.

washington post logoWashington Post, A New York Times reporter dug into Ukraine and the Democrats. Critics are still howling, Paul Farhi, Nov. 16, 2019. New York Times reporter Kenneth P. Vogel was on the Ukraine conspiracy story early and in depth. The question is, did his articles leave the wrong impression?

Vogel was the co-author of a disputed Times story in May that suggested that Joe Biden, right, intervened in Ukraine in 2016 to help a company that employed the former vice president’s son, Hunter. As a staff writer at Politico in early 2017, he co-authored another piece that suggested that the Democratic National Committee had cooperated with Ukrainian efforts to joe biden othwart Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign.

Both articles have been cited by President Trump’s allies as support for a broader conspiracy theory: that Ukrainian sources sought to influence the 2016 election in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s favor and that Biden acted corruptly as vice president, thus justifying an investigation.

These unproven claims are a crucial part of Trump’s defense in the House impeachment inquiry. In fact, American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia’s intelligence services, not Ukraine, worked to sway the election toward Trump. There is also no credible evidence that Biden intervened with Ukrainian officials to remove the country’s top prosecutor to help his son, who sat on the board of a company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.

Vogel’s articles have been called into question — the Times story most prominently by Biden’s presidential campaign, and the Politico story by Politico’s own recent reporting.

Both Politico and the Times defended the reporter’s work, and Vogel told The Washington Post on Friday: “Not a single fact in either story has been successfully challenged. Both stories were prescient, revealing information that has come to play a central role in the impeachment saga.”

He added, “The Politico story revealed the genesis of Trump’s grudge against Ukraine, and the Times story exposed the Trump team’s pressure campaign against Ukraine.”

The GOP theory that Ukraine ‘set up’ Trump

ukraine flagVogel’s January 2017 Politico article (co-written with David L. Stern, now a freelance contributor to The Washington Post) extensively detailed Ukrainian efforts to undermine Trump in 2016, such as publicly questioning his fitness for office, disseminating documents implicating Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman at the time, in corruption and helping a Clinton ally research damaging information about him.

The lead of the story implied an equivalence with Russian efforts to undermine Clinton: “Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country,” Vogel and Stern wrote, although the story later states that there is “little evidence” of the type of hacking and disinformation campaign waged by the Russians in 2016.

devin nunes head oThe story came up repeatedly during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), left, and Republican counsel Stephen R. Castor cited it several times in questioning diplomat William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine. Both Nunes and Castor strongly suggested that the story validated Trump’s theory about Ukrainian officials during 2016.

The story “gives rise to some concern that there are elements of the Ukrainian establishment that were out to get the president,” Castor said during the hearing. “That’s a very reasonable belief of [Trump’s], correct?”

Taylor, right, said he didn’t know and was unfamiliar with the story until recently.

william taylor o CustomCastor again brought up Vogel’s articles in Friday’s hearing to suggest that “influential elements of the Ukrainian establishment” were out to get Trump.

But in testimony by Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, she dismissed these as “isolated incidents,” not a government-orchestrated initiative. She replied, “I would remind you again that our intelligence community has determined that those who interfered in the [U.S.] election” were Russians.

Top officials from Trump’s National Security Council have dismissed the notion of Ukrainian interference. In depositions given to congressional investigators earlier this month, former National Security Council staffers Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that they saw no evidence of Ukrainian meddling in 2016. Hill called such a notion “a fiction.”

The suggestion that Joe Biden had acted improperly was driven home by the Web headline on the story: “Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies.” The print headline on the front-page story raised an eyebrow, too: “For Biden, a Ukraine Matter That Won’t Go Away.”

It wasn’t until the 19th paragraph, however, that the story noted that the conflict-of-interest angle was dubious. “No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor general’s dismissal,” it said.

elise stefanik hearing

Palmer Report, Opinion: The GOP’s Elise Stefanik impeachment stunt has promptly blown up in its face, Bill Palmer, Nov. 16, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee is chock full of some of the most embarrassing Republicans in the entire party. So naturally, just before televised impeachment hearings began, the GOP added jittery scumbag Jim Jordan to the committee in order to make things even worse. But now the Republicans have found yet another way to embarrass themselves.

bill palmer report logo headerElise Stefanik is no more or less dishonest and embarrassing than any other Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. But the House GOP leadership has suddenly decided to push her to the forefront of the televised House impeachment hearings, for a reason that’s as obvious as it is sexist. She’s the only tedra cobbRepublican woman on the committee, and the GOP knows that it has a woman problem, particularly when serial sexual assaulter Donald Trump is involved.

House Republicans really seemed to think that if they used Elise Stefanik, above, prominently enough, it would somehow cancel out the fact that yesterday’s star witness Marie Yovanovitch is a woman. At least we think that’s the logic, because when it comes to the Republicans and gender, it can be difficult to precisely parse the derangement that derives the party’s motivations. Stefanik simply told the same deranged pro-Trump lies that the other House Republicans have been telling, and the GOP thought that would… change minds?

In any case, the House GOP’s attempt at using Elise Stefanik to dishonestly pander to women voters was blatant enough that even the AP called it out in a headline, and Stefanik’s name began trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. In fact the stunt has created a groundswell of support for Stefanik’s 2020 Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb, right, who says she’s raised more than $500,000 since the failed Stefanik stunt began.

Nov. 15

Stone Found Guilty

roger stone cnn breitbart

A federal jury in Washington, DC on Friday convicted Donald Trump's longest political advisor and friend, Roger Stone, shown above in a file photo during the 2016 presidential campaign, has been found guilty on all seven counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and related offenses. The Justice Integrity Project has been covering the trial and will report further on the case, which is summarized also in such other reports as that by the Washington Post and New York Times, excerpted below:

  • Washington Post, Trump confidant Roger Stone guilty on all counts, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky​, Nov. 15, 2019. A federal jury has convicted Stone of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness about his efforts to learn about the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks' release of hacked Democratic emails in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • New York Times, Roger Stone Lied to Protect Trump, Prosecutors Argue at Trial, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). Focusing squarely on his ties to President Trump, federal prosecutors argued Wednesday that Roger J. Stone Jr. (shown above in a 2016 screenshot) blatantly obstructed a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election because the truth “would look really bad” for Mr. Trump.

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

marie yovanovitch cbs

washington post logo

Washington Post, Trump attacks ambassador even as she describes feeling threatened by him, Rosalind S. Helderman and Rachael Bade​, Nov. 15, 2019.  Yovanovitch says that Trump transcript ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ her. While the former ambassador to Ukraine was testifying, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

The president’s words left her “shocked” and “devastated,” the witness said.

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Yovanovitch told lawmakers Friday that when she read how President Trump had talked about her to his Ukrainian counterpart in a July phone call — saying ominously that “she’s going to go through some things” — the color drained from her face.

“It sounded like a threat,” she said.

Even as Yovanovitch testified, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

The president’s denigration of a widely respected Foreign Service officer — while she calmly but forcefully denounced his earlier attacks against her — drew widespread criticism, with many Democratic lawmakers calling it witness intimidation.

adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence committee chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters during a break in the hearing that the nation had seen “witness intimidation in real time” by the president.

Speaking on Fox News, former independent counsel Ken Starr, a frequent Trump defender, said the president “was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment.”

The dramatic narrative of Yovanovitch’s abrupt recall this spring from her post in Kyiv, where she had served as ambassador since 2016, formed the centerpiece of the second day of the House public impeachment hearings.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Federal Prosecutors Probe Giuliani’s Links to Ukrainian Energy Projects, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Nov. 15, 2019. Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Rudy Giuliani stood to personally profit from a Ukrainian natural-gas business pushed by two associates who also aided his efforts there to launch investigations that could benefit President Trump, people familiar with the matter said.

rudy giuliani recentMr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pitched their new company, and plans for a Poland-to-Ukraine pipeline carrying U.S. natural gas, in meetings with Ukrainian officials and energy executives this year.

Associates told others that Giuliani, right, stood to profit from natural-gas project pitched alongside campaign for investigations of Joe Biden.

Two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains what we know about the pair’s contacts and their efforts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Yovanovitch says she does not understand Giuliani’s motives for attacking her, Staff report, Nov. 15, 2019. In public testimony at the House impeachment hearings, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said she felt threatened when she read how President Trump talked about her to his Ukrainian counterpart on a July 25 call.

Earlier, President Trump released a transcript of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as House investigators prepared to hear public testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, a former ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled earlier this year. Other Washington Post coverage.

  • Opinion: Yovanovitch can paint a picture of a U.S. policy hijacked by Trump bag men, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 15, 2019.
  • Yovanovitch opens by saying her removal will create a playbook for how to undermine U.S. policy
  • Rough transcript conflicts with White House April readout of Trump/Zelensky call
  • Diplomatic muscle turns out for Yovanovitch

Trump Taxes

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from prosecutors, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The filing by the president’s private lawyers represents a historical moment that tests the court’s independence and highlights the Constitution’s separation-of-powers design. It also marks a new phase in the investigations that have dogged President Trump throughout his time in office.

More On Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Who is Marie Yovanovitch and why does her public testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 15, 2019. On Friday, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine marie yovanovitchMarie Yovanovitch, right, is testifying publicly in the impeachment inquiry about why she was ousted from her job right around the time President Trump officials started pushing Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

She’s the former ambassador to Ukraine with 30 years of experience in the Foreign Service. She’s the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union. She was installed in Ukraine during the Obama administration and remained there under the Trump administration — until Trump had her removed from her job May, alleging she wasn’t loyal to him.

How she lost her job

She was the target of allegations, which are unsubstantiated and which she denies, that she tried to protect Americans in Ukraine by giving Ukrainian officials a “do-not prosecute” list. She testified that list was fake and that it was actually Ukrainians threatened by her anti-corruption efforts who wanted her out. She says they worked with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to smear her, and it seems the allegations made their way to Trump. In April, she was told by a State Department colleague to fly home on “the next plane.” She said she felt threatened at times through this process, sometimes by Trump himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, The long and murky campaign to oust a veteran U.S. ambassador, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 15, 2019. President Trump released a transcript of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as House investigators prepared to hear public testimony from The effort was one driven by an array of figures whose motives are still not fully understood.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-envoy’s testimony will be a moment of reckoning on gender for Trump, Elise Viebeck, Marie Yovanovitch, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The former ambassador to Ukraine, was targeted by male allies of President Trump. She’s about to publicly face some of his fiercest congressional defenders.

During the pivotal phone call that sparked the House impeachment inquiry, President Trump made a reference to gender as he smeared former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news,” Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

Trump then made an ominous prediction as he pressured Zelensky for investigations of his political rivals. “She’s going to go through some things,” he said of the ambassador.

As a leading female diplomat, a political target of the president’s allies and a figure at the center of the Ukraine drama, Yovanovitch has crucial knowledge to impart when she testifies at Friday’s impeachment hearing. She also enters the spotlight as the latest woman who has refused to acquiesce to Trump in the face of personal and gender-specific attacks

washington post logoWashington Post, Career White House budget official expected to break ranks, testify in impeachment inquiry, Erica Werner, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Potentially filling in important details on the holdup of military aid to Ukraine.

Mark Sandy would be the first OMB employee to testify in the inquiry, after OMB acting director Russell T. Vought and two other political appointees at the agency defied congressional subpoenas to appear. The White House has called the impeachment inquiry unconstitutional and ordered administration officials not to participate.

Unlike these other OMB officials, Sandy is a career employee, not one appointed by the president. He has worked at the agency off and on for over a decade, under presidents of both parties, climbing the ranks to his current role as deputy associate director for national security programs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial evidence reveals fresh detail about Trump campaign’s interest in WikiLeaks, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). As Roger Stone’s jury prepares for a second day of deliberations, his trial has already revealed important new details about the long-running interest within President Trump’s 2016 campaign in computer files hacked by Russia and made public by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

roger stone donald trump2Stone, shown in a file photo with his longtime friend Trump, faces a seven-count indictment for allegedly obstructing a congressional proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering over his 2017 interview with the House Intelligence Committee. According to the indictment, Stone repeatedly lied when asked about his supposed intermediary with WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 election, and claimed he did not have any email or text conversations about what purloined Democratic computer files WikiLeaks might have, and when they might be released.

A federal jury began deliberating Thursday in Washington, weighing a week’s worth of evidence introduced against Stone, the last person charged by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his two-year probe of Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The jury is set to resume early Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. watchdog tells Russia report witnesses they can’t give written feedback — then reverses course, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett​, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Late Thursday night, a department spokeswoman said the office would clarify to witnesses that they could submit written feedback “consistent with rules to protect classified information.”

Courts / #MeToo

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh addresses the conservative legal establishment that championed his nomination, Robert Barnes​, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). There were standing brett kavanaugh white house promoovations for the newest justice and for his wife at the Federalist Society’s gala Thursday night at Washington’s Union Station.

There was a crowd of protesters outside, and a few inside. Those attending the Federalist Society’s gala Thursday night at Washington’s Union Station were christine blasey ford sept 27 2018greeted by a large video screen on a truck out front, which played on a loop the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, left, accusing Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, of sexual assault when the two were teenagers.

But before a crowd of more than 2,000 supporters, there were standing ovations for the newest justice and for his wife, Ashley, and a message from Kavanaugh that he said could be summed up in one word: “gratitude.”

“I will always be grateful,” Kavanaugh said at the end of a 30-minute speech that was mostly a long thank-you note — to his fellow justices, his teachers, his family, his priests, the Washington Nationals, his friends.

“I will always be on the sunrise side of the mountain. I will always be not afraid.”

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, White House and Pentagon prepare for Trump to issue pardons in war-crimes cases, officials say, Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has raised concerns that the military justice system has treated the service members involved unfairly. Some military justice experts see the possible intervention as a subversion of the legal process.

Nov. 14

 george kent william taylor nov 13 2019 abc news

George Kent, left, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, he oversees European and Eurasian affairs. William B. Taylor,  the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a career diplomat and military veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations (photo via ABC News).

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Startling Testimony About New Call Further Implicates Trump, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The House of Representatives opened historic impeachment hearings on Wednesday and took startling new testimony from a senior American diplomat that further implicated President Trump in a campaign to pressure Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

william taylor o CustomIn a nationally televised hearing from a stately committee room across from the Capitol, William B. Taylor Jr., right, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, brought to life Democrats’ allegations that Mr. Trump had abused his office by trying to enlist a foreign power to help him in an election.

U.S. House logoMr. Taylor testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he learned only recently of a July telephone call overheard by one of his aides in which the president was preoccupied with Ukraine’s willingness to say it would look into Mr. Biden and work by his son Hunter Biden for a Ukrainian energy firm. Immediately afterward, Mr. Taylor said, the aide had been informed that Mr. Trump cared more about “investigations of Biden” than he did about Ukraine.

A powerful witness for Democrats, Mr. Taylor appeared as Congress embarked on the third set of presidential impeachment hearings in modern times. Forceful, detailed and unflappable in the face of Republican taunts, the veteran diplomat delivered a remarkable rebuke of the actions taken by the president and his allies inside and outside of the government who placed Mr. Trump’s political objectives at the center of American policy toward Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings begin with new evidence of phone call implicating Trump in Ukraine controversy, Karoun Demirjian, Toluse Olorunnipa and Rachael Bade, Nov. 14, 2019. The hearings have unearthed new evidence of a phone call that may implicate the president in the Ukraine controversy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact-checking the opening Day: From Republicans, a recurring theme: ‘Nothing to see here,’ Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 14, 2019. Here’s a roundup of misleading claims made during the opening day of House impeachment hearings. GOP lawmakers argued that Ukrainian officials never opened the investigations President Trump requested, yet Trump released the aid package for Ukraine anyway. But this is a selective retelling of events.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asserts that ‘normal people’ would end inquiry, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 14, 2019. President Trump asserted Thursday morning that “normal people” would close the case on his impeachment following a historic day of open testimony from two career diplomats about their concerns about his actions in Ukraine.

Trump’s assessment underscored the clash that emerged after the six-hour hearing, with Democrats saying it provided damning evidence of a president using his office to advance his political interests while Republicans argued it laid bare a desperate attempt to oust Trump from office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans’ conspiracy theories slam into sworn testimony in collision of divergent worlds, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed). A witness was left momentarily speechless when pressed on conspiracy theories apparently driving the president’s actions. The question seemed to surprise William B. Taylor Jr., a Vietnam veteran with decades of diplomatic experience.

Couldn’t he “appreciate that President Trump was very concerned,” asked the Republican counsel, that the Ukrainians were “out to get him?”

The lawyer was referring to a conspiracy theory, popular in parts of the political right, that while Democrats have focused on Russia’s efforts to help Trump win the 2016 election, it was actually Ukraine that interfered during that campaign to help Trump’s Democratic opponent.

Taylor paused, casting his eyes down as his lips curled into a grin. He declined to give credence to the claim. “I don’t know the exact nature of President Trump’s concerns,” the witness answered. Related Washington Post coverage includes:

• GOP senators discuss longer trial to scramble Democratic primaries
• The Trump Show continues to disrupt Washington
• Analysis: Why GOP doesn’t have the right to confront whistleblower
• GOP tried to make him a ‘star witness.’ Instead, Bill Taylor became a meme.
• Kent helps Democrats by debunking theories from Trump allies
• ‘Can He Do That?’: Your guide to the first public impeachment hearing

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Republicans’ Best Defense Is a Bad Offense, Editorial Board, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). What did Americans learn from the first day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry? They learned damaging new information, about another witness who reportedly overheard a telephone conversation in which President Trump pressed to find out if the Ukrainians had committed to investigating his top political rival.

They learned they are still served by people of integrity who are committed to advancing the national interest. The day’s two witnesses, George Kent and William Taylor, both deeply experienced diplomats, provided precise, scrupulously nonpartisan and damning testimony about the effort at the center of the inquiry: the secretive shakedown of Ukraine by Mr. Trump and his associates, for the president’s political gain.

And those Americans who tuned in also learned that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have set themselves a degrading task. Rather than engage the facts about Mr. Trump’s Ukrainian escapade, they are twisting them and eliding them and inventing new ones they’d prefer. They spent most of Wednesday stuffing straw men and then ostentatiously knocking them down.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio set their tone and pace, apparently betting that a sustained note of incredulity and a motor-mouth delivery could distract listeners from the fragility of his arguments.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Evidence of Wrongdoing by Trump Is Overwhelming, Noah Bookbinder (executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The witnesses’ testimony on Wednesday was clear and alarming.

Mr. Trump used the immense powers of the American presidency to pressure an ally to open investigations that would help him personally. That much is clear just from the call memo of the July 25 conversation between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Any American who has not read the call memo should do so, because it is as shocking today to realize that Mr. Trump said the jaw-dropping phrase, “I would like you to do us a favor,” as it was the day it was released. He followed that by expressing his desire for Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and the Bidens. That is sufficient in itself to prove unacceptable wrongdoing by the president.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, As Talks With Putin Loom, Ukraine Looks in Vain for U.S. Help, Anton Troianovski, Nov. 14, 2019. Kiev wants Western support as it seeks to end its conflict with Russia. But amid the impeachment drama, Washington is increasingly out of the picture. Ukrainians are used to hearing the West call for stability in their country. This fall, the roles have reversed.

“Ukraine would very much like to see a stable political situation in the States,” Oleksandr Turchynov, the previous Ukrainian president’s national security adviser, said in an interview. The relationship between Kiev and Washington, he added, “is a question of life and death for us.”

Nov. 13

Impeachment Inquiry: Hearings Begin

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Witnesses Reveal Scope of Trump’s Ukraine Push

ny times logoNew York Times, Startling Testimony About New Call Further Implicates Trump, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Nov. 13, 2019. The House of Representatives opened historic impeachment hearings on Wednesday and took startling new testimony from a senior American diplomat that further implicated President Trump in a campaign to pressure Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In a nationally televised hearing from a stately committee room across from the Capitol, William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, brought to life Democrats’ allegations that Mr. Trump had abused his office by trying to enlist a foreign power to help him in an election.

Mr. Taylor testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he learned only recently of a July telephone call overheard by one of his aides in which the president was preoccupied with Ukraine’s willingness to say it would look into Mr. Biden and work by his son Hunter Biden for a Ukrainian energy firm. Immediately afterward, Mr. Taylor said, the aide had been informed that Mr. Trump cared more about “investigations of Biden” than he did about Ukraine.

A powerful witness for Democrats, Mr. Taylor appeared as Congress embarked on the third set of presidential impeachment hearings in modern times. Forceful, detailed and unflappable in the face of Republican taunts, the veteran diplomat delivered a remarkable rebuke of the actions taken by the president and his allies inside and outside of the government who placed Mr. Trump’s political objectives at the center of American policy toward Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind a Star Witness, Democrats Take Their Case to the Public, Peter Baker, Nov. 13, 2019. Their goal is to transform what the public might view as an abstract debate over foreign policy into high crimes, while Republicans argue there is no case.

ny times logoNew York Times, On Capitol Hill, Old School Washington Keeps Circus at Bay, Mark Leibovich, Nov. 13, 2019. After so much noise, a formal feeling fell upon the Capitol. The civil servants had entered the room.

In a sense, seriousness itself stood trial on Wednesday as William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a top State Department official, strode into the velvet-draped hearing room just after 10 a.m. They wore stern stares and were seemingly oblivious to the discord that brought them there.

Roger Stone Trial

roger stone cnn breitbart

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone Lied to Protect Trump, Prosecutors Argue at Trial, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 13, 2019. A jury will now consider the charges against Mr. Stone, including lying to investigators in a congressional inquiry into Russia’s 2016 election interference. Focusing squarely on his ties to President Trump, federal prosecutors argued Wednesday that Roger J. Stone Jr. (shown above in a 2016 screenshot) blatantly obstructed a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election because the truth “would look really bad” for Mr. Trump.

In closing arguments in Mr. Stone’s obstruction of justice trial, prosecutors argued that he concealed reams of evidence, threatened a fragile witness and told “whoppers” that impeded a House committee’s investigation into how Russia used WikiLeaks to sabotage the 2016 presidential race.

“He knew that if the truth came out about what he was doing in 2016, it would look terrible,” Jonathan Kravis, an assistant United States attorney, told the jurors on the sixth day of Mr. Stone’s trial on charges of deceiving the House Intelligence Committee two years ago. “Roger Stone knew that if this information came out it would look really bad for his longtime associate Donald Trump.”

Bruce S. Rogow, Mr. Stone’s defense lawyer, countered that the entire premise of the prosecution’s case was false because Mr. Stone had no evidence that would have hurt Mr. Trump, or embarrassed his campaign. “That is a nonstarter,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

Not only was Mr. Trump by then president and concerned with weightier matters when Mr. Stone testified before lawmakers in September 2017, Mr. Rogow said, but his campaign a year earlier had merely expressed a natural interest in what WikiLeaks might have in store for Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent. “There was nothing malignant, nothing corrupt” about the conduct of Mr. Stone or the campaign, he said.

Mr. Stone’s trial in a federal courthouse in Washington has unfolded against the backdrop of the impeachment inquiry into the president underway blocks away on Capitol Hill. As Congress grapples with allegations that Mr. Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to help his 2020 re-election effort, the Stone case has revived the story of how Russian operatives stole tens of thousands of Democratic emails and funneled them to WikiLeaks, which released them at critical points in the 2016 campaign.

Jury deliberations will begin on Thursday, said Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the trial. Mr. Stone is charged with seven felonies that together carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, though a defendant with no criminal history, like Mr. Stone, would almost certainly receive a far lighter punishment if he were found guilty on any counts.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Stone hid dozens of text messages and emails that were pertinent to the House committee’s inquiry; deliberately misidentified the person he dispatched to get in touch with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in late summer 2016; covered up the fact that he tried to obtain stolen Democratic emails from WikiLeaks; and denied that he talked to Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks’ plans.

Roger Stone Trial

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Predicted More Leaks Amid WikiLeaks Releases in 2016, Ex-Aide Testifies, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 12, 2019. Both sides wrapped up their cases in the trial of the longtime Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., accused of lying about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

Days after the rogue website WikiLeaks posted a trove of stolen Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump talked by phone with Roger J. Stone Jr. (shown right in a file photo), a longtime friend who claimed to have connections to WikiLeaks, then told a top aide that “more information would be coming,” the aide testified in Mr. Stone’s criminal trial on Tuesday.

roger stoneThe aide, Rick Gates, said he did not hear the substance of the July 31, 2016, call. Nor did he say that Mr. Trump mentioned WikiLeaks, the organization that had received tens of thousands of emails stolen by Russian operatives seeking to sabotage the campaign of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

But the context of the exchange suggests that Mr. Stone briefed Mr. Trump on whatever he had picked up about the website’s plans. In written answers that President Trump supplied during the special counsel’s investigation of Russian influence in the campaign, he said he did not recall the specifics of any of his 21 phone calls with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election. He also said he did not recall knowing that his campaign advisers were in touch with Mr. Stone about WikiLeaks.

Mr. Gates’s testimony revealed other new details about the Trump campaign’s intense interest in how WikiLeaks might disrupt Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Much of what he said in court was covered in the 448-page report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, but it was blacked out in the version released publicly last spring to protect grand jury secrecy or open cases, a person familiar with the report said.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, MSNBC turned heads with a surprise guest: George Conway, husband of Kellyanne,Michael M. Grynbaum, Nov. 13, 2019. Even in television news, a little stunt casting can’t hurt. MSNBC turned heads on Wednesday when, minutes before the House impeachment hearings got underway, the network announced a surprise guest: George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer and husband of President Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway.

Little known outside legal circles before his wife’s ascent to political stardom, Mr. Conway has become a liberal sensation by emerging as an unlikely critic of the president. His Twitter account, once a sleepy province of corgi and cat videos, is now a favorite of Trump detractors eager for Mr. Conway’s sweeping and spiky denunciations.

But while Mr. Conway has also ventured onto newspaper op-ed pages (“Trump is a racist president” was the headline of his Washington Post opinion piece in July) and other media forums, he had drawn the line at appearing on Mr. Trump’s favored medium. Until now.

ny times logoNew York Times, Critic's Notebook: What Our TV Critic Noticed During the Televised Hearing, James Poniewozik, Nov. 13, 2019. The first day featured international drama, a volley of interruptions and a Cronkite-like voice.

ny times logoNew York Times, Court Rejects Trump’s Appeal in Fight to Keep Financial Records From Congress, Charlie Savage, Nov. 13, 2019. A full federal appeals court on Wednesday let stand an earlier ruling that President Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his financial records to Congress, bringing the case to the threshold of a likely Supreme Court battle.

In the latest of a string of court losses for Mr. Trump over his uncompromising vow to fight “all” subpoenas from Congress, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected his request that it rehear a case in which he challenged the subpoena to the firm, Mazars USA. A panel of the court had sided with lawmakers in that earlier ruling.

The president will now appeal to the Supreme Court, said a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Jay Sekulow. If the justices take the case, as seems likely, it would add another blockbuster case over separation of powers to the court’s current term, which ends in June — in the middle of the presidential election campaign.

“In light of the well-reasoned dissent, we will be seeking review at the Supreme Court,” Mr. Sekulow said in a statement.

Lawyers representing Mr. Trump had argued that Congress had no legitimate legislative authority to seek his business records because the panel seeking them, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, was primarily trying to determine whether he broke existing laws — not weighing whether to enact a new one.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Republicans’ Best Defense Is a Bad Offense, Editorial Board, Nov. 13, 2019. What the day’s impeachment hearings revealed.What did Americans learn from the first day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry?

They learned damaging new information, about another witness who reportedly overheard a telephone conversation in which President Trump pressed to find out if the Ukrainians had committed to investigating his top political rival.

They learned they are still served by people of integrity who are committed to advancing the national interest. The day’s two witnesses, George Kent and William Taylor, both deeply experienced diplomats, provided precise, scrupulously nonpartisan and damning testimony about the effort at the center of the inquiry: the secretive shakedown of Ukraine by Mr. Trump and his associates, for the president’s political gain.

U.S. Headlines

ny times logoNew York Times, New York Identifies Hospitals and Nursing Homes With Deadly Fungus, Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, Nov. 13, 2019. The policy change came as the C.D.C. reported that more people are dying of drug-resistant infections than it previously estimated.

Nearly 35,000 people in the United States are dying each year from drug-resistant infections, public health officials said on Wednesday, an alarming problem that New York state underscored by revealing that it had found one particularly new and virulent fungus in 64 hospitals and 103 nursing homes.

The numbers show just how widespread drug resistant infections have become, with the latest projection of deaths in America double previous estimates.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Deval Patrick Will Enter 2020 Presidential Race on Thursday, Jonathan Martin, Nov. 13, 2019. The former two-term governor of Massachusetts’ announcement adds yet more volatility to an unusually fluid Democratic primary. Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts told senior Democrats Wednesday that he will enter the presidential race, according to two party officials, reversing his decision last year to forgo a run and adding yet more volatility to an unusually fluid Democratic primary.

Mr. Patrick will enter the race Thursday morning and head to New Hampshire’s State House to file paperwork to be a candidate on the primary ballot there, according to a Democrat familiar with his plans. Mr. Patrick was calling a list of party leaders Wednesday to inform them of his decision and is planning to begin his campaign with a video and new website.

After appearing in New Hampshire, Mr. Patrick will head to California, which is voting in early March, and then go on to three early nominating states: Nevada, Iowa and South Carolina.

Impeachment Hearing Previews

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP and Democrats push dueling messages on Trump’s conduct, Toluse Olorunnipa, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade​, Nov. 13, 2019. The series of open hearings that begin today will be a pivotal test of lawmakers’ ability to sway public opinion for or against President Trump’s impeachment in a polarized political environment.

washington post logoWashington Post, How the decline of public trust shaped Trump’s, Nixon’s and Clinton’s endgames, Marc Fisher, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). This is the first impeachment process to take place in an era of instant and constant spin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 5 questions we still need answered, Was President Trump definitively behind all of this? Amber Phillips, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Nearly eight weeks into the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, we know that his administration withheld bipartisan military aid from Ukraine, and we know that Trump wanted Ukraine’s president to investigate a company related to former vice president Joe Biden as well as a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election.

But going into the first week of public hearings, we don’t have some key details pinned down that could go a long way to firming up Democrats’ case against Trump. Such as: 1. Who was directing all of this?

washington post logoadam schiff squareWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: A guide to impeachment hearing spin, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 13, 2019. Watch out for these debunked claims you may hear during the hearings. During the deposition stage of the investigation, Trump and his allies have offered false and misleading claims that we have debunked over the past few weeks.

Here’s a guide to some of the most significant claims. (We also gave Four Pinocchios to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, for misleading reporters about the committee’s prior contact with the whistleblower who first alleged Trump has been “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”)

william taylor o CustomTODAY’S WITNESSES

washington post logoWashington Post, William B. Taylor, right:, The acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, he is a career diplomat and military veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations.

Analysis: Who is William Taylor and why does his testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). 
• Read his closed-door testimony from last month

washington post logogeorge kent oWashington Post, George Kent, right: As a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, he oversees European and Eurasian affairs.

Analysis: Who is George Kent and why does his testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). 
• Read his closed-door testimony from last month

OTHER KEY PLAYERS, THEMES

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats’ impeachment lawyer cut his teeth prosecuting mobsters, Wall Street cheats, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The Democrats’ lead impeachment hearing lawyer made his bones as a prosecutor by sending mobsters, stock swindlers and a multimillion-dollar insider trader to prison, cases in which colleagues said he mixed brains and “swagger” to win convictions.

Daniel S. Goldman spent a decade as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, a jurisdiction known for its tough, high-profile cases. He left that job in 2017 to become a television legal analyst but now holds a weightier role questioning witnesses called to testify about President Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who is Stephen R. Castor, the GOP staff attorney in the impeachment hearings? Elise Viebeck, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Stephen R. Castor served as investigator to key House probes.The Republican staff member charged with questioning impeachment witnesses has served as an investigator in some of the biggest House probes of the last 15 years, including inquiries related to Hurricane Katrina, a gun-tracking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious and the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet the task facing Stephen R. Castor on Wednesday will be completely new, as Republicans seize the chance to bolster President Trump’s case that there was no quid pro quo involving Ukraine during the impeachment inquiry’s first public hearing.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: The case against Trump in seven words, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Now it gets real. After three years of presidential assaults on democratic norms, after a 50-day impeachment inquiry, after 100 hours of closed-door testimony from 15 witnesses and after thousands of pages of publicly released depositions, the case against President Trump comes down to seven words:

He abused presidential powers for personal advantage.

Simple as that.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump offers trade deal, sanctions workaround to Erdogan, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Kareem Fahim, Nov. 13, 2019. The offer is likely to infuriate some of Flag of Turkeythe House majority that voted to impose sanctions on Turkey over its assault into Syria, and a group of senators who introduced a similar bill.

• Analysis: An embattled Trump welcomes an embittered Erdogan

washington post logoWashington Post, Kushner proposes creating live video feed of border wall construction to rally public support, Nick Miroff, Nov. 13, 2019. The plan has been met by objections from U.S. Army Corps and border officials.

stephen miller nbc screenshot whWashington Post, Leaked Stephen Miller emails shows Trump’s point man on immigration promoted white nationalism, SPLC reports, Kim Bellware, Nov. 13, 2019. 
In the lead-up to the 2016 election, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, right, sought to promote white nationalism, far-right extremist ideas and anti-immigrant rhetoric through the conservative site Breitbart, according to a report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The report is the first installment in a series that draws on more than 900 emails that Miller sent to a Breitbart writer over a 15-month period between 2015 and 2016 and were given to the SPLC. The report describes Miller’s emails as overwhelmingly focused on race and immigration and characterizes him as obsessed with ideas such as “white genocide” (a conspiracy theory associated with white supremacists) and sharply curbing nonwhite immigration.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, At donor dinner, Giuliani associate said he discussed Ukraine with Trump, according to people familiar with his account, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The April 2018 dinner was designed to be an intimate affair, an opportunity for a handful of big donors to a super PAC allied with President Trump to personally interact with the president and his eldest son. One of the men, Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests.

According to Parnas (shown at center in a file photo), the president reacted strongly to the news: Trump immediately suggested that then-Ambassador Marie ­Yovanovitch, who had been in the Foreign Service for 32 years and served under Democratic and Republican presidents, should be fired, people familiar with his account said.

washington post logoWashington Post, She inflated her resume and peddled a fake Time cover. Trump appointed her to the State Department, Reis Thebault, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Mina Chang sports a subtle smile on the cover of a Time magazine “Special Edition,” with a swaggering headline that reads, “We change the world: Modern humanitarian in the digital age.”

The cover shot was among the photographs Chang brought to a January 2017 interview about countering violent extremism. At the time, the State Department senior official was the chief executive of a small nonprofit, and she appeared on the public affairs show to discuss efforts to curb the influence of groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram.

Nov. 12

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, White House infighting flares amid Democrats’ probe, Erica Werner, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Rachael Bade, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Two of President Trump’s top advisers are battling over strategy, contributing to the administration’s increasingly tenuous response to the inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cites Ukraine’s corruption, European stinginess to justify his actions. Neither rationale withstands scrutiny, Karen DeYoung and Ellen djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomNakashima, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Defense and State departments have certified that Kyiv has taken “substantial actions” to tackle corruption. And European nations spend more on Ukraine than the United States does.

washington post logoWashington Post, Career federal employees take risky and rare role in impeachment drama, Lisa Rein, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Trump and his allies have long been suspicious of the permanent bureaucracy. This week’s hearings highlight the rift between political appointees and career federal employees.

As diplomats kick off nationally televised impeachment hearings on Wednesday, it is clear how, more than in any political scandal in modern history, career employees have emerged as crucial witnesses.

Rank-and-file bureaucrats who work in the federal agencies that handle national security will defy the directive of the White House to stay quiet, instead describing what they saw as they went about, in their view, just doing their jobs.

Their role in recounting to the public how President Trump and his allies attempted to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals will not come without risk. All but one of the 11 career Foreign Service staff, military officers and Pentagon officials who first testified in closed-door depositions in the Capitol basement are still in government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why is Bolton aiding Trump’s ‘drug deal’ coverup? Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). John Bolton witnessed a “drug deal.” Why won’t he tell the dana milbank Customcops? President Trump’s former national security adviser wanted nothing to do with the “drug deal” Trump advisers were “cooking up” on Ukraine, according to an aide’s impeachment testimony.

Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, teased House investigators Friday with a letter saying his client has first-hand knowledge of “many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far.” And yet Bolton so far chooses to cover for the drug dealers.

Nov. 11

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump, shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Disorienting Defenses of Donald Trump, Editorial Board, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). 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.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Trump Administration Eroded Its Legal Case on DACA, Michael D. Shear, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Adam Liptak, Nov. 11, 2019. When the Supreme supreme court graphicCourt hears arguments on Tuesday, the administration’s attempts to end the program protecting “Dreamers” could rest on a top aide’s actions in 2017.

The case, one of the most important of the Supreme Court’s term, will address presidential power over immigration, a signature issue for Mr. Trump and one that has divided the nation since he took office. The court’s decision could also have an enormous effect on the lives of the young people in the program, who are known as Dreamers and are broadly seen as sympathetic by large majorities in both parties. Related story:

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Rejects Legal Alliance With Mulvaney, Peter Baker, Nov. 11, 2019. A lawyer representing the president’s former national security adviser filed a motion opposing an effort by Mick Mulvaney to join a suit on impeachment testimony.

john bolton youtube guardianA long-simmering feud within the White House broke into the open on Monday as a lawyer for John R. Bolton, right, President Trump’s former national security adviser, filed a motion trying to keep Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, from joining a lawsuit over impeachment testimony.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer argued in court papers that Mr. Mulvaney should not be allowed to jump into the existing lawsuit as a plaintiff because his interests are significantly different. But the legal schism underscored a broader rift between Mr. Mulvaney, who facilitated Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for damaging information about Democrats, and Mr. Bolton, who tried to resist it.

Lawyers for the various parties are scheduled to hold a conference call later on Monday with United States Senior District Judge Richard J. Leon, who is overseeing Mr. Kupperman’s lawsuit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley’s real disclosure: Concerns about Trump’s dangerousness went right to the top, Aaron Blake​, Nov. 11, 2019. It's not that Nikki Haley (right) turned John Kelly and Rex Tillerson down; it's that these two top aides tried to recruit her to resist him in the first place.

djt nikki haley Custom 2Ever since September 2018, we’ve been trying to figure out who the “senior administration official” was who wrote that anonymous New York Times op-ed. This official described a “resistance” from inside the Trump administration that has worked to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The author now has a book coming out.

So when Nikki Haley comes out and tells us that the president’s former chief of staff and secretary of state spearheaded just such an effort, maybe the story isn’t that she said no?

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump Jr. went to UCLA to decry ‘triggered’ liberals. He was heckled offstage by the far right, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 11, 2019. Supporters from the "America First" faction of President Trump's vocal far-right base heckled his son at a book talk as part of a campaign to upend Turning Point USA events. Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign senior adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle came prepared with snappy rejoinders for liberal protesters who might taunt them on Sunday at the University of California at Los Angeles, where they promoted Trump Jr.'s new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.”

But when unruly heckling drowned out the couple’s answers, leading the pair to walk offstage, it wasn’t leftists who cut the event short. Instead, the rebukes came from a crowd of young people who rank among the most ardent and extreme supporters of President Trump.

The chaotic scene contradicted Trump Jr.'s central thesis that liberals have grown so intolerant of dissenting voices, conservative politicians can no longer engage in civil discourse. It also exposed an increasingly hostile fissure between conservative student groups like Turning Point USA and a hard-right faction of young Trump devotees who have flocked to self-professed “American Nationalist” Nicholas Fuentes and his “America First” movement.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge rules Trump’s lawsuit to block House from getting his state tax returns belongs in N.Y. court, Spencer S. Hsu​, Nov. 11, 2019. A federal judge in Washington dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the House Ways and Means Committee from using a recently enacted New York law to request his state tax returns, saying that for now the case belongs before a judge in New York.

carl nicholsThe decision by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, right, injected new urgency into Trump’s effort to shield his state tax records from Congress.

The House panel, chaired by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), has not requested Trump’s state returns. Trump’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in July preemptively, arguing that without an emergency court order blocking a congressional request, his New York returns might be disclosed before the president’s opposition could be heard in court.

While the case was pending, New York state tax officials agreed not to turn over Trump’s records any sooner than seven days after Nichols ruled on whether the Trump lawsuit should be heard before him or before a federal judge in New York. On Monday, Nichols concluded the latter, dismissing the New York state defendants and giving Trump the option of refiling his lawsuit against them in his home state, effectively setting the seven-day clock running, if the House were to ask for Trump’s returns.

“Based on the current allegations, Mr. Trump has not met his burden of establishing [the court’s] personal jurisdiction over either of the New York Defendants,” the state’s tax commissioner and attorney general, Nichols wrote in a 19-page opinion.

Nichols, a Trump appointee [and longtime Federal Society member] who joined the bench in July, withheld ruling on the president’s argument but acknowledged the New York state officials’ position that Trump’s lawsuit involves a New York state law and “alleges no events or omissions” in Washington by state officials.

Nichols said the president also could refile his case in Washington against the House committee, if and when it makes a request. House general counsel Douglas N. Letter had urged Nichols to reject Trump’s lawsuit, saying the committee's decision whether to use the new state law is “absolutely immune” from court review under the Constitution’s grant of legislative powers to Congress.

Nov. 11

Bolivian Coup Alleged

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary:Trump honors Native American Heritage Month with coup against Bolivia's first Native American president, Wayne Madsen, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallleft, syndicated columnist, author of 16 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 11, 2019 (excerpted with permission). Donald Trump, who has a schoolboy’s view of Native Americans as having been “savages” who besieged wagon trains of “peaceful” European settlers, has chalked up on his record of seedy deeds the military overthrow of Bolivia’s first Native American president, Evo Morales, an ethnic Aymara.

evo moralesTrump has been eyeing Morales, right), the leader of Bolivia’s Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, for some form of retribution ever since Morales scolded Trump in person during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on September 26, 2018.

Morales, as president of the Security Council, lectured Trump on America’s past abuses. The Bolivian president cited the United States as having “financed coups d’etat and supported dictators,” and having instituted a border policy that “separated migrant children from their families and put them in cages.” Trump kept his head cia logodown during the tongue-lashing, only raising it periodically to glower at Morales, who was wearing the formal garb of his native Aymara people.

On November 10th, Morales received his belated response from Trump in the form of an old-style military coup. Even though Morales agreed to a new election, he and his entire MAS government, including Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Chamber of Deputies President Victor Borda, and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra -- all in the line of succession to the president -- were forced to resign by the Bolivian military and national police. Without a constitutional successor to Morales, the military and national police commanders took over in a classic Central Intelligence Agency textbook coup from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

ny times logoNew York Times, Evo Morales Urges Resistance to New Bolivian Government, Clifford Krauss and Daniel Victor, Nov. 11, 2019.  The former president’s stance could complicate efforts to form a transitional administration and hold fresh elections.

Nov. 10

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans attempt to move impeachment inquiry away from Trump, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 10, 2019. A list of witnesses demanded Saturday fits a pattern for GOP lawmakers, who have focused heavily on pushing conspiracy theories and attacking Democrats as unfairly partisan.

republican elephant logoHouse Republicans on Saturday pressed ahead with their efforts to move the impeachment inquiry away from President Trump, calling on Democrats to add witnesses to the probe including former vice president Joe Biden’s son and the whistleblower whose initial complaint kicked off the investigation.

The GOP demands were met with immediate skepticism from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who warned against “sham investigations” of the Bidens and other issues in a clear signal that many of the witnesses were unlikely to be called.

  • Analysis: An oral history of how Trump allegedly tried to leverage a White House visit for an investigation into the Bidens rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, left, with businessman Lev Parnas last month at the Trump International Hotel shortly before the arrest of Parnas and his colleague Ignor Fruman while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Associate Says He Gave Demand for Biden Inquiry to Ukrainians, Ben Protess, Andrew E. Kramer, Michael Rothfeld and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 10, 2019. The claim by the associate, Lev Parnas, is being vigorously disputed. 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.

igor fruman mugBut 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, right, 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.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine scandal henchman Lev Parnas just sold out Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2019. Well that was a plot twist we didn’t see coming. Based on the moves that Lev Parnas has made over the past week, we were fully expecting him to sell out Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal. But now details are leaking out about what Parnas is planning to give to the House impeachment inquiry, and in a surprise twist, Parnas is also selling out Mike Pence (shown at far left above with others mention in this column, including Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas between Pence and Donald Trump, with the latter's counsel Giuliani at right).

bill palmer report logo headerLev Parnas fired his Trump-connected lawyer several days ago and announced that he was planning to fully cooperate with the House impeachment probe. Now, according to the New York Times, Parnas is planning to testify to the House that he told Ukrainian President Zelensky that unless an investigation into the fake Biden scandal was publicly announced, Mike Pence would not be attending Zelensky’s inauguration. This changes just about everything.

One of Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen is now directly confessing that he personally carried out a portion of the quid pro quo extortion scandal. This is devastating to Rudy for obvious reasons – and it’ll help ensure that Rudy never does get out of prison. It’s also ugly for Donald Trump, because it means Trump wasn’t just asking Zelensky to “do me a favor though.” Trump went so far as to send a thug to threaten the President of Ukraine unless he granted that (illegal) favor.

This is also quite ugly for Mike Pence, who will now be stuck trying to convince the public that when Trump and Giuliani were sending Parnas to threaten to withhold Pence’s presence from Zelensky’s inauguration, Pence somehow didn’t know it was going on. Pence ended up not attending the inauguration after all, meaning he had to have been in on it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley says Tillerson, Kelly tried to recruit her to subvert Trump to ‘save the country,’ Anne Gearan, Nov. 10, 2019. Two of President Trump’s senior advisers undermined and ignored him in what they claimed was an effort to “save the country,” former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley claims in a new memoir.

state dept map logo SmallFormer secretary of state Rex Tillerson, right, and former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but rex tillerson exxon mobil Smallshe refused, Haley writes in a new book, With All Due Respect, which also describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and imperious and Kelly as suspicious of her access to Trump.

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote.

“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote of the views the two men held.

djt nikki haley Custom 2

Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Nikki Haley is so eager to go down with Donald Trump’s sinking ship, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2019. Nikki Haley (above) ruined her once-promising political career when she went to work for the Donald Trump regime. She knows it, and doesn’t appear to believe she can get anywhere by coming out against Trump, so instead she keeps emphatically marrying herself to Trump’s sinking ship.

bill palmer report logo headerBut this isn’t going to magically put her back in the game either, so the question has been why she’s destroying what’s left of her reputation in the name of trying to prop up the ghost of Donald Trump.

Now we have our answer. Nikki Haley is doing what failed politicians always do: she’s cashing out.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: A Threat to a Whistleblower Is a Threat to Us All, Celia Wexler, Nov. 10, 2019. House Republicans and President Donald Trump are trying to unmask the Ukraine whistleblower. If they succeed, will future whistleblowers keep silent? The anonymity of the Ukraine whistleblower is hanging by a thread. Conservative media outlets have been reporting the name of the person they believe filed the complaint that triggered the impeachment process.

The person’s alleged identity has been circulated on Capitol Hill by House Republicans, and tweeted out by the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

We already know what President Donald Trump thinks about the whistleblower. He considers him or her to be a “almost a spy,” and a “never Trumper” who deserves to be unmasked. A few days ago, Trump opined: “The whistleblower should be revealed, because the whistleblower gave a false story.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective, Despite Trump’s taunting and harassment, whistleblowers remain undaunted, Joe Davidson, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). For a man whose job includes protecting federal whistleblowers, President Trump’s actions to undermine one in particular could hamper whistleblowers generally.

Yet, despite intimidation from the nation’s highest office, the Ukraine matter whistleblower — actually, whistleblowers — remains undaunted.

“The harassing and taunting comments, usually rife with hate but truly masking fear, that have emanated from the president and his allies have done nothing to deter the whistleblowers,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who represents them. “They fulfilled their lawful obligations to the Constitution of the United States, and they did so following the rule of law.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s attacks on the judiciary are dangerous. Good for this judge for speaking up, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Federal judges mostly speak through their opinions. When they give speeches or write law review articles, they tend to take measured tones. On the rare occasions they tread into issues touching on current paul friedman graphicpolitics, they usually do so obliquely.

So it was all the more striking that Paul Friedman, a highly respected federal district court judge, used the occasion of an annual lecture before a group of the capital’s most distinguished judges and lawyers not merely to defend the independence of the federal judiciary but to take on President Trump directly.

“We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms,” Friedman said. “He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.” 

Palmer Report, Opinion; The real reason the witness testimony is so devastating to Donald Trump, Robert Harrington, Nov. 10, 2019. The fact that Fiona Hill was born in England and not, say, Ukraine, will play somewhat less well at the propaganda mill of the shivering, superstitious, conspiracy-mongering camp of the alt-right. Fear not, however, it didn’t stop them from finding other ways to try to get to her.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Dr. Hill relates in her just-released testimony of October 14, “My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again, frankly, as it’s been announced that I’ve been giving this deposition, accusing me of being a [left-leaning billionaire philanthropist George] Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the President, and, you know, of various improprieties.”

It is instructive to note that many of these conspiracy theories Dr. Hill, left, relates come straight from Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s Nixon-adulating acolyte, and Alex Jones, he of the alt-right “InfoWars,” the propaganda machine of which Jones is the chief villain. Both Stone and Jones unreservedly love the Constitution when it comes to the Second Amendment and fiona hilloccasionally hate it when it comes to the First.

It is also instructive to note that, a full week before Matt Gaetz and company stormed the SCIF and ordered out for pizza, the transcript relates that Congressman Gaetz attempted to illegally insinuate himself into Fiona Hill’s hearing. Chairman Adam Schiff had to repeatedly point out that, as Mr. Gaetz was not a member of any of the invited committees, he was not permitted to remain. Gaetz wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t until the Chairman threatened to deduct Gaetz’ time-wasting antics from the time allotted for questioning the witness by (actually invited) Republican members of the committee, that Gaetz relented and left the room – in an infantile pout.

What Gaetz pretends not to get and what everyone else bothers to think about and understand is, the reason for the closed door nature of these hearings is to ensure that witnesses do not collude with each other, either accidentally or on purpose. This practice bore some interesting fruit when, 15 days later, Alexander Vindman testified. The juxtaposition of Vindman’s and Hill’s testimonies is what made it necessary for Ambassador to the European Union Gordon D. Sondland to recently amend his testimony in order to avoid perjury charges. Notice the similarities in side by side statements.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump learns that fake charities are tons of fun until you get caught, Kathleen Parker, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Imagine President Trump’s surprise upon realizing that a charity bearing his name did not mean the money belonged to him.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoSo it has come to pass with a New York judge’s ruling Thursday that the president had misused money given to the Donald J. Trump Foundation and, as part of a settlement, will have to pay $2 million in damages. Not only did he use the money for himself, including the purchase of a 6-foot-tall portrait of None Other, but he also filled the board of directors with family members (the usual suspects: Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric) and at least one officer, Trump Organization CFO donald j trump foundation logo graphicAllen Weisselberg, who didn’t know he was even on the board, according to court documents.

The man who popularized “fake news” apparently also invented a fake charity. They’re tons of fun until you get caught. But there was nothing fake about the money Trump spent that was intended for others.

pam biondiThere were some “charitable” donations, such as a $25,000 check in 2013 to a political committee connected to then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R), left. Charities are prohibited from making political contributions. And, in 2016, while in Iowa at a political rally, Trump issued a $100,000 check from the foundation to a local veterans group. Again, money from charities is prohibited by federal law from “participating” in political campaigns.

The Trump Foundation was something of a ruse. The board had never met in 19 years, from 1999 to 2018, when it agreed to shut down. Trump, though he gave $5.5 million over the foundation’s life, didn’t surrender a penny between 2009 and 2015.

Global Politics / Media

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I worked on political ads at Facebook. They profit by manipulating us, Yaël Eisenstat, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). I joined Facebook in June 2018 as “head of Global Elections Integrity Ops” in the company’s business integrity organization, focused specifically on political advertising. I had spent much of my career working to strengthen and defend democracy — including freedom of speech — as an intelligence officer, diplomat and White House adviser. Now I had the opportunity to help correct the course of a company that I viewed as playing a major role in one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

facebook logoIn the year leading up to our 2016 election, I began to see the polarization and breakdown of civil discourse, exacerbated by social media, as our biggest national security threat; I had written about that before Facebook called. I didn’t think I was going to change the company by myself. But I wanted to help Facebook think through the role it plays in politics, in the United States and around the world, and the best way to ensure that it is not harming democracy.

A year and a half later, as the company continues to struggle with how to handle political content and as another presidential election approaches, it’s clear that tinkering around the margins of advertising policies won’t fix the most serious issues. The real problem is that Facebook profits partly by amplifying lies and selling dangerous targeting tools Democratic-Republican Campaign logosthat allow political operatives to engage in a new level of information warfare. Its business model exploits our data to let advertisers aim at us, showing each of us a different version of the truth and manipulating us with hyper-customized ads — ads that as of this fall can contain blatantly false and debunked information if they’re run by a political campaign. As long as Facebook prioritizes profit over healthy discourse, it can’t avoid damaging democracy.

Ultimately, I was not empowered to do the job I was hired to do, and I left within six months. I don’t know if anybody up the chain ever considered our proposals to combat misinformation in political ads. But based on the company’s current policy allowing politicians to lie in ads, and the dissent letter signed in late October by more than 250 Facebook employees disagreeing with the policy, it seems clear that they did not.

Yaël Eisenstat is a visiting fellow at Cornell Tech in the Digital Life Initiative and a former elections integrity head at Facebook, CIA officer, and White House adviser.

Nov. 9

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

nancy pelosi djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: House Democrats hope Intelligence Committee will do what other panels have failed to do, Paul Kane, Nov. 9, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee, in a pair of hearings with career diplomats, hopes to do what other panels have failed to do in their previous attempts at high-profile investigations of President Trump: deliver a dramatic rendering of the facts that are easily understood by the average voter and make clear how those actions represent abuses of power that are considered high crimes and misdemeanors.

U.S. House logoHaving learned lessons about those previous mistakes, Democrats fashioned the resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry to address several procedural hiccups that they believe will make these new hearings more dramatic. And, more broadly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), above left, has recently begun to hold weekly huddles with the Democrats who are most often on TV news shows talking about the investigation. The purpose is to work on message and drive home the importance of keeping the focus on Trump’s actions and not getting distracted by side characters, such as the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

• Facebook and YouTube block spread of supposed whistleblower’s name and photo
• Senior White House official said he had ‘no doubt’ of quid pro quo, latest transcripts show,
• Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman wanted to be American as can be. Now Trump questions his motives.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP asks for Hunter Biden, whistleblower to testify publicly, Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 9, 2019. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.

House Republicans sent Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) a list of witnesses they want to testify in the impeachment inquiry, including former vice president hunter bidenJoe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, left, and the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against President Trump.

adam schiff squareBut Schiff, right, is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.

“We expect that you will call each of the witnesses listed above to ensure that the Democrats’ ‘impeachment inquiry’ treats the President with fairness, as promised by Speaker Pelosi,” wrote Devin Nunes (Calif.), ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee. “Your failure to fulfill Minority witness requests shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw another one of his own loyalists in the garbage, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2019.  If you’re committing crimes on Donald Trump’s behalf, or if you’re trying to cover up Donald Trump’s crimes, you are an idiot. You’re an idiot for getting involved with such worthless fraud to begin with; even if you want to pursue a life of crime, you could find far more success by going elsewhere. You’re also an idiot because Trump is one of the most disloyal people in the history of crime.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump stood on the White House lawn on Friday and said this about U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland: “I hardly know the gentleman.” Nevermind that this statement is plainly, laughably untrue. It’s also just vicious. Sondland gave a million dollars to Trump’s inaugural fund, which we all know went straight into gordon sondland oTrump’s pocket. Sondland, right,  had no dog in the Ukraine fight, yet he loyally carried out Trump’s criminally corrupt Ukraine scheming anyway. Yet when things got so hot for Sondland that he had to reluctantly confess his own role in Trump’s criminal scandal, Trump had the nerve to claim he doesn’t know the guy.

As this is playing out, Donald Trump’s oldest friend Roger Stone is on trial for the crimes he committed in the name of helping Donald Trump rig the 2016 election. Trump won’t lift a finger to help Stone. We know this because Trump didn’t lift a finger to help Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, or anyone else who got caught committing crimes on Trump’s behalf. Stone will die in a cage just like Manafort will die in a cage, because Trump is just that vicious in his disloyalty to mick mulvaney djt 2 Smallthose who helped him get to where he is.

Of course Donald Trump’s cartoonish level of disloyalty is going to be his own undoing. Trump’s House GOP allies are preparing to scapegoat Trump loyalists Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney (shown at left) in a last ditch effort at insulating Trump – but Mick and Rudy are two nasty pricks who will take Trump down if he takes them down. And Cohen, who just wants out from under this mess, is about to testify to the New York grand jury that’s set to indict Trump, ensuring he goes to prison as soon as he’s out of office. Trump’s disloyalty will help ensure that Trump will die in a cage as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney asks to join lawsuit over impeachment testimony, Derek Hawkins, Nov. 9, 2019. The acting White House chief of staff said he was facing conflicting orders from House Democrats and the White House over whether he must participate.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw another one of his own loyalists in the garbage, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2019.  If you’re committing crimes on Donald Trump’s behalf, or if you’re trying to cover up Donald Trump’s crimes, you are an idiot. You’re an idiot for getting involved with such worthless fraud to begin with; even if you want to pursue a life of crime, you could find far more success by going elsewhere. You’re also an idiot because Trump is one of the most disloyal people in the history of crime.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump stood on the White House lawn on Friday and said this about U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, right: “I hardly know the gentleman.” Nevermind that this statement is plainly, laughably untrue. It’s also just vicious. Sondland gave a million dollars to Trump’s inaugural fund, which we all know went straight into Trump’s pocket. Sondland had no dog in the Ukraine fight, yet he loyally carried out Trump’s criminally corrupt Ukraine scheming anyway. Yet when things got so gordon sondland ohot for Sondland that he had to reluctantly confess his own role in Trump’s criminal scandal, Trump had the nerve to claim he doesn’t know the guy.

As this is playing out, Donald Trump’s oldest friend Roger Stone is on trial for the crimes he committed in the name of helping Donald Trump rig the 2016 election. Trump won’t lift a finger to help Stone. We know this because Trump didn’t lift a finger to help Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, or anyone else who got caught committing crimes on Trump’s behalf. Stone will die in a cage just like Manafort will die in a cage, because Trump is just that vicious in his disloyalty to those who helped him get to where he is.

Of course Donald Trump’s cartoonish level of disloyalty is going to be his own undoing. Trump’s House GOP allies are preparing to scapegoat Trump loyalists Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney in a last ditch effort at insulating Trump – but Mick and Rudy are two nasty pricks who will take Trump down if he takes them down. And Cohen, who just wants out from under this mess, is about to testify to the New York grand jury that’s set to indict Trump, ensuring he goes to prison as soon as he’s out of office. Trump’s disloyalty will help ensure that Trump will die in a cage as well.

Nov. 8

Legal Scandal Headlines just security logo

Just Security, Public Document Clearinghouse: Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry, Julia Brooks and William Dawley, Nov. 8, 2019.  Just Security has compiled and curated all publicly available documents in Congress’s impeachment inquiry concerning President Donald Trump in connection with Ukraine. This collection seeks to include significant original source material, including relevant legislation, letters, subpoenas, deposition transcripts, executive branch communications, and litigation documents.

Please contact us if there are documents you believe should be added to the Clearinghouse.

For documents related to Congress’s various Russia investigations, see our Public Document Clearinghouse: Congressional Russia Investigations.

Readers may also be interested in Just Security’s Ukraine Timeline and Kate Brannen’s “A Who’s Who of Ukraine Witnesses.”

paul friedman graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ‘violates all recognized democratic norms,’ federal judge says in biting speech on judicial independence, Trump keeps lashing out at judges, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 8, 2019.  In an unusually critical speech that lamented the public’s flagging confidence in the independence of the judicial branch, a federal judge slammed President Trump for “feeding right into this destructive narrative” with repeated attacks and personal insults toward judges he dislikes.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman of the District of Columbia (shown above) said Trump’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms” during a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington on Wednesday.

“We are in unchartered territory,” said Friedman, 75, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.”

Other judges have raised similar concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and the increasingly partisan interpretation of judicial rulings, but as a senior judge and secretary of the American Law Institute, Friedman’s criticism carries weight.

Trump has denounced judges who have halted some of his administration’s most hotly debated policies, including his threats to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities and his attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The president also has attacked judges over rulings that negatively affect him personally.

In 2017, Trump tweeted how a judge’s decision not to imprison Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after walking away from his battalion in Afghanistan, was a “total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.” On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump had suggested Bergdahl was a “dirty rotten traitor