2019 

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December

Dec. 5

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings live updates: Pelosi asks committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, ​John Wagner​, Dec. 5, 2019. Pelosi 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

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.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Is this wall-to-wall media coverage pointless? Margaret Sullivan, 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.”

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.

• Analysis: Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory takes another hit — from two men he hailed.

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.

Back 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.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the Washington Post is reporting tonight that John Durham has informed DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz that his investigation has found nothing. 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.

michael horwitz headshotEven 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.

New 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.”

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.

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

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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

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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. 

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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

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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. 21

Impeachment Daily Index

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.”

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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” who should be sentenced to death.

Trump also attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, when the federal jurist from the Southern District of California was assigned to preside over a fraud case involving Trump University, a real estate seminar program. Trump suggested Curiel, an appointee of President Barack Obama, could not remain impartial in the case because of his Mexican heritage, despite the fact that the federal judge was born in Indiana and the case had nothing to do with immigration or foreign affairs. Trump ultimately settled the suit, which alleged the seminars used false advertising to ensnare attendees, for $25 million.

ny times logojohn bolton youtube guardianNew York Times, Bolton Knows About ‘Many Relevant Meetings’ on Ukraine, Lawyer Says, Peter Baker, Nov. 8, 2019. John Bolton, right, President Trump’s former national security adviser, knew of many details of the Ukraine pressure campaign, his lawyer told lawmakers. Mr. Bolton would be an important witness in the impeachment inquiry, but his lawyer wants a court to rule on whether he should testify.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump’s ‘demand’ for Biden probe was ‘prerequisite’ for meeting, Ukraine expert told investigators, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 8, 2019. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a National Security Council official who listened to the president's July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said “there was no doubt” that Trump was seeking political investigations of political rivals, according to a transcript of his testimony released today.

The transcript was one of two made public Friday by House impeachment investigators, who also released one documenting the closed-door deposition of another National Security Council official, Fiona Hill, who also expressed concerns about efforts to pressure Ukraine. Both Vindman and Hill are in discussions to testify publicly after open hearings begin next week, according to people familiar with the plan.

Washington Post, Rep. Jim Jordan named to Intelligence Committee, setting up lead role in public hearings

washington post logoWashington Post, Second person says he told Rep. Jim Jordan about sexual misconduct at Ohio State, Rick Maese and Mike DeBonis​, Nov. 8, 2019. The wrestling referee says a jim jordan headshot Customschool doctor, Richard Strauss, performed a sex act in the shower next to him. Jordan, right, was an assistant coach at the time and has denied ever seeing or ohio state buckeyes logohearing of sexual abuse.

A college wrestling referee says he reported sexual misconduct involving a former doctor who’s been accused sexually abusing nearly 300 hundred men over a 17-year period to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State.

The congressman was dismissive, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, and the doctor, Richard Strauss, continued to treat and abuse students at the school.

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial set to turn to alleged witness threats, contacts with Trump campaign about WikiLeaks, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 8, 2019. Former radio show host Randy Credico returned to the witness stand Friday in the trial of Roger Stone, who is accused of lying to Congress and then threatening randy credico ari melber screenshot CustomCredico not to tell lawmakers the truth about their conversations.

Jurors have seen Stone’s words in texts and emails, but Credico told them firsthand that he felt that when Stone used a Godfather II movie reference with him he was trying to persuade Credico to mislead Congress by claiming not to recall certain information.

Politico, Roger Stone's odd friendship with Randy Credico, Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, Nov. 8, 2019. Stone is facing charges he tampered with Credico's testimony as they got drawn into the congressional Russia probe.

Credico’s 90-minute grilling by Stone defense lawyer Robert Buschel was high drama. Stone’s team painted Credico as a habitual liar who had repeatedly portrayed himself as someone who actually was in close contact with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange as it mysteriously hinted that a huge dump of politically explosive material was coming.

Politico, Steve Bannon: Roger Stone was our unused WikiLeaks ‘access point,’ Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, Nov. 8, 2019. At Stone's trial for lying to Congress, Bannon was careful to note that the Trump campaign never asked Stone to contact WikiLeaks. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign thought primarily of one person when it wanted to find out what was going on with WikiLeaks: Roger Stone.

That’s the readout Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign CEO, delivered during a much-anticipated appearance Friday at Stone’s federal trial on charges that he lied to Congress and intimidated a witness.

roger stone donald trump2Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone just got a house dropped on him – and it’s bad news for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. It’s been ten months since Roger Stone was indicted and arrested on federal charges. But now that his criminal trial has finally started this week, things are progressing rather quickly. Today an unlikely witnesses testified for the prosecution – and by all accounts, it was particularly devastating to Stone.

bill palmer report logo headerRoger Stone (shown with his friend Donald Trump in a file photo) has admitted on Twitter that he was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election, while he was a Trump campaign adviser, and while WikiLeaks was strategically releasing stolen DNC emails to try to help the Trump campaign. This led prosecutors to subpoena Steve Bannon, who was in charge of the final months of the Trump 2016 campaign, to testify today about the conversations that he had with Stone about WikiLeaks.

Bannon testified today that Stone repeatedly implied that he was in communication with WikiLeaks, and that he knew the upcoming email releases were going to be bad for Hillary Clinton. NBC News legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner says that Bannon’s testimony “crushed Roger Stone’s defense and also provided a direct and compelling link between the Trump Campaign and Julian Assange/Wikileaks.” This is bad for Team Trump on two levels.

First, it all but ensures that Roger Stone will be convicted on at least some of the charges. This will put Stone in the position of having to decide whether to bet his life on a Trump pardon that may or may not ever come, or whether to cut a plea deal against others in the Trump regime. Second, this helps House Democrats establish that the Trump campaign was criminally conspiring with Russian cutout WikiLeaks, if they decide to include this as part of their impeachment argument.

Excerpts continued below. The Justice Integrity Project also has been covering the Stone trial in person.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt rudy giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: State Dept. official says Giuliani was engaged in a campaign ‘full of lies’ about former ambassador, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez​,​ Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer (shown above in a file photo), for engaging george kent oin a smear campaign against the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to the transcript U.S. House logoof his closed-door deposition released by House investigators Thursday.

Kent, right, testified that Giuliani’s “assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.”

Earlier Thursday, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Pence on Europe and Russia, appeared after being subpoenaed and testified behind closed doors for about five hours as former national security adviser John Bolton declined to appear before House investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Official’s testimony sums up Trump’s Ukraine demands as ‘investigations, Biden and Clinton,’ Greg Jaffe and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). The transcript of Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent’s deposition suggests that he will detail his frustrations in especially stark terms when he appears in a public hearing.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP looks to protect Trump by offering up deputies as fall guys, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Republican lawmakers are trying to raise questions about whether envoy Gordon Sondland, President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were rudy giuliani recentactually representing the president or pursuing their own agendas.

House Republicans’ latest plan to shield President Trump from impeachment is to focus on at least three deputies — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union gordon sondland oGordon Sondland, left, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and possibly acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who they say could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy.

All three occupy a special place in the Ukraine narrative as the people in most direct contact with Trump. As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initiated the impeachment inquiry Sept. 24, congressional Republicans have struggled to come up with a consistent and coherent explanation for why Trump tried to coerce a foreign leader to investigate the president’s domestic political rivals.

Palmer Report, Commentary: The scam toilet company is back, and this time the crap is hitting Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019.  On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani announced his newly hired criminal defense team, and we brought you the story of how one of Rudy’s new lawyers stands accused of having once dangled a Trump pardon at Michael Cohen. Now more information has surfaced about Rudy’s legal team, and it’s a bunch of crap – literally.

bill palmer report logo headerAwhile back, Donald Trump appointed a profoundly unqualified doofus named Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. It didn’t last long, and Whitaker is best remembered for sweating profusely during a press conference. Somewhere in there it was reported that Whitaker, right, was involved with a patent marketing company that allegedly scammed a guy who had come up with a design for a toilet for well-endowed men. The story served as comic relief and then disappeared after Whitaker left the job and disappeared.

matthew whitaker agBut now it turns out one of Rudy Giuliani’s newly hired attorneys has also counted the scam toilet company as a client, as flagged on Friday night by Rachel Maddow. Maybe this is just a coincidence. But it does stand out as being odd that the same lawyer is now associated with two of Trump’s stooges, even though one case was about alleged marketing fraud, and the other case is about a criminal conspiracy against the United States. Those two things don’t seem to go together.

In any case, nothing Rudy Giuliani does these days seems to be on the up and up, and most of it is just plain weird. Now he’s hired the scam toilet guy to try to get him off the hook in an SDNY criminal case that threatens to send him to prison for the rest of his natural lifespan. Something about this just doesn’t smell right.

Pro & Con Trump Books

washington post logoWashington Post, Visit to Arlington Cemetery reminded Donald Trump Jr. of all his family’s ‘sacrifices,’ he writes, Reis Thebault, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.).  It was the day before his father was inaugurated president of the United States when the weight of the office first washed over Donald Trump Jr., right.

donald trump jr book cover triggeredPresident-elect Trump and the new first family were at Arlington National Cemetery, where Trump was to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“I rarely get emotional, if ever,” Trump Jr. wrote in his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” “Yet, as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.”

djt maga hatHe also had another revelation as he watched his father standing in front of the tomb, surrounded by more than 400,000 graves, listening to the Army Band bugler playing taps: The Trump family had already suffered, he recalled thinking, and this was only the beginning.

“In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed — voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office,’” Trump Jr. wrote.

The book bills itself as a 300-page evisceration of PC culture — “the book that leftist elites don’t want you to read,” its Amazon page twice crows. In it, Trump Jr. writes, “A victimhood complex has taken root in the American left.” Yet, in his telling, the real victim is often him, his father or another Trump family member.

[Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle face a barrage of tough questions on ‘The View’]

His framing of the Arlington Cemetery anecdote, in particular, has provoked fervent criticism and accusations of callousness.

washington post logoWashington Post, Book by ‘Anonymous’ official describes Trump as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation, Philip Rucker, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). The author, described only as a “senior official” in the administration, claims that high-ranking officials considered resigning en masse last year in a “midnight self-massacre” to sound a public alarm about President Trump’s conduct.

donald trump twitterSenior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a “midnight self-massacre” to sound a public alarm about President Trump’s conduct, but rejected the idea because they believed it would further destabilize an already teetering government, according to a new book by an unnamed anonymous a warning cover Customauthor.

In A Warning by Anonymous, obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release, a writer described only as “a senior official in the Trump administration” paints a chilling portrait of the president as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation he was elected to lead.

The author — who first captured attention in 2018 as the unidentified author of a New York Times opinion column — describes Trump careening from one self-inflicted crisis to the next, “like a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.”

Inside DCsteven menashi screenshot Custom

Roll Call, Trump judicial pick blows off Democrats’ questions on Ukraine, Todd Ruger, Nov. 7, 2019. An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to say whether he played a role in White House events now at the heart of the accelerating House impeachment probe — and Republicans haven’t let that halt his move through the confirmation process.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to advance the nomination of Steven Menashi, above, who works in the White House counsel’s office. President Donald Trump picked him for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit based in New York.

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Inquiry Tests Ties Between Barr and Trump, Peter Baker, Katie Benner and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 8, 2019 (updated). Attorney General William Barr has not publicly defended President Trump against the Democratic inquiry as he did with the Mueller investigation. The reluctance hints at a new distance between the two men, according to people who have spoken with them.

william barr new oFor a while at least, he seemed to have found his Roy Cohn, a lawyer to defend him against his accusers and go after his enemies. But the relationship between President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr, right, may be growing more complicated with the rising threat of impeachment.

Rather than publicly join the fight against House Democrats pursuing the president, Mr. Barr has remained out of the fray, resisting requests by intermediaries from Mr. Trump to go before the cameras to say no crime had been committed. While Mr. Barr exonerated the president in the spring at the end of the Russia investigation, he has been more reticent in the current matter.

The reluctance hints at a new distance between the two men, according to people who have spoken with them. Mr. Trump, angry with his coverage, is aggravated with Mr. Barr for urging him to release a reconstructed transcript of the telephone call with Ukraine’s president at the center of the impeachment drive. For his part, Mr. Barr was bothered that Mr. Trump on that call lumped him together with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s private lawyer, like interchangeable parts of his personal defense team.

Politico, Transcript reveals how Adam Schiff booted Matt Gaetz from the deposition room, Caitlin Oprysko, Nov. 8, 2019. The House intelligence chair scolds Gaetz: “You're going to matt gaetz o Customremove yourself.” President Donald Trump’s allies took to heart his request that Republicans start fighting back against House Democrats’ impeachment investigation, and one transcript released Friday vividly captures how one such lieutenant tried to crash the proceedings.

At the beginning of the closed-door testimony of Fiona Hill, the White House’s top Russia hand, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff notices a face out of place: Rep. Matt Gaetz, right,a flamethrowing congressman and Trump ally from the Florida Panhandle.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commerce Dept. aides knew Alabama storm forecasters were not responding to Trump but rebuked them anyway, Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Officials insisted on admonishing the forecasters, even knowing they had no political motivations when they contradicted President Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed to the state.

Senior aides at the Commerce Department forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to publicly rebuke its weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., for contradicting President Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed to that state, even after NOAA informed them that the agency’s meteorologists were not aware at the time they were contradicting the president, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

The NOAA officials spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity surrounding ongoing investigations into the agency’s actions regarding Hurricane Dorian. NOAA and its National Weather Service are part of the Commerce Department.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump White House official resigns as impeachment scandal spirals out of control, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. Just how poorly is impeachment going for Donald Trump? The majority of Americans now want him impeached and removed – and this is before the televised impeachment hearings begin next week. Thus far every closed-door witness has made things even worse for Trump. Now we’re seeing another sign of just how ugly this is all getting.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as former Trump White House National Security Adviser John Bolton plays games about whether he’ll testify to the House impeachment inquiry, one of his key underlings, Earl Matthews, is now resigning the Trump White House. More to the point, NBC says that Matthews played a key role in the meetings surrounding Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal.

There is no indication that Matthews participated in any wrongdoing, and in fact it appears that in general, National Security Council personnel were adamantly opposed to Donald Trump’s criminal scheming against Ukraine. But the timing of Matthews’ resignation can’t be ignored. Perhaps he expects to be called as a witness and he wants to get out of the White House before he testifies and things get awkward. Or maybe he just sees the writing on the wall and now expects the Trump regime to collapse entirely under the weight of impeachment.

In any case, Donald Trump’s White House has had an unprecedented number of firings, resignations amid controversy, and resignations in protest. Trump is now on his fourth White House National Security Adviser. His first, Michael Flynn, has since pleaded guilty to a felony and is headed to prison. His third, John Bolton, was fired as the Ukraine scandal and coverup unraveled.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has complete meltdown on White House lawn, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. Donald Trump and his allies have spent weeks accusing House Democrats of doing something shady by holding closed-door witness depositions as part of the impeachment inquiry, even though it’s standard practice to keep witnesses from knowing what other witnesses have already said. Now that the hearings are set to begin taking place on live national television in just five days, Trump is singing a different tune.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump had a complete meltdown on the White House lawn today, as he took questions from reporters and then proceeded to give increasingly histrionic answers. At one point Trump asserted that “they shouldn’t be having public hearings” because his impeachment is a “hoax.” What, so now Trump wants the hearings to go back to being behind closed doors?

Reality show host Donald Trump understands the power of television better than anyone, and he’s panicked that the world is about to hear all about his crimes.

U.S. Foreign Policy

Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Vlodomyr Zelensky (file photos, left to right)

Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Vlodomyr Zelensky (file photos, left to right)

Roll Call, Impeachment strains longstanding bipartisan support for Ukraine, Rachel Oswald, Nov 8, 2019. Consensus built on keeping Ukraine inside the Western European camp. ‘That’s not believable’ — Cardin has heated exchange with administration official Turkey sanctions bills likely to move despite ceasefire Pence says Turkey has agreed to cease fire in northern Syria

The bipartisan backing for Ukraine in its long face off with Russia has been a hallmark of Congress’ role in foreign policymaking for decades. Congress — both parties — has generally been willing to confront Moscow more forcefully over its treatment of Ukraine than the Trump, Obama or George W. Bush White Houses.

But with U.S. policy toward Ukraine the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward Kyiv out in the open, and Republicans not wanting to break with their GOP president publicly over Ukraine policy, concern is rising that this longstanding bipartisan consensus to keep Ukraine inside the Western European camp could erode.

So far, the consensus on Ukraine in Congress seems largely to be holding, at least publicly, through lawmaker endorsements for continued military and economic assistance to Kyiv.

But on the less-tangible forms of support that Congress provides to Ukraine, such as oversight hearings of administration foreign policy, co-signing letters of support on Ukraine-related issues, or pressing for language in spending bills that require the State and Defense departments to spend foreign aid on Kyiv, there are signs of a partisan split.

Legal Scandal Headlines (Cont.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial set to turn to alleged witness threats, contacts with Trump campaign about WikiLeaks, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 8, 2019.  Former radio show host Randy Credico told jurors Stone played a role in his decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right before Congress.

randy credico ari melber screenshot CustomFormer radio show host Randy Credico,left, returned to the witness stand Friday in the trial of Roger Stone, who is accused of lying to Congress and then threatening Credico not to tell lawmakers the truth about their conversations.

roger stone headshotJurors have seen Stone’s words in texts and emails, but Credico told them firsthand that he felt that when Stone used a Godfather II movie reference with him he was trying to persuade Credico to mislead Congress by claiming not to recall certain information.

At the time, Stone was trying to learn more about hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign that might tank her run against then-candidate Donald Trump. The emails were stolen by Russian agents and shared with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which released them at critical points in the 2016 election cycle, according to prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Second person says he told Rep. Jim Jordan about sexual misconduct at Ohio State, Rick Maese and Mike DeBonis​, Nov. 8, 2019. The wrestling referee says a jim jordan headshot Customschool doctor, Richard Strauss, performed a sex act in the shower next to him. Jordan, right, was an assistant coach at the time and has denied ever seeing or hearing of sexual abuse.

A college wrestling referee says he reported sexual misconduct involving a former doctor who’s been accused sexually abusing nearly 300 hundred men over a 17-year period to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State. The congressman was dismissive, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in ohio state buckeyes logofederal court, and the doctor, Richard Strauss, continued to treat and abuse students at the school.

Ohio State says it’s aware of 1,429 instances of fondling and 47 instances of rape involving Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005. Thursday’s filing marks the 13th lawsuit against the school.

Jordan has found himself at the periphery of the controversy because some former wrestlers have said he was aware — or should have been aware — of Strauss’s misconduct. Jordan has denied any knowledge of the abuse, and did so again on Friday.

“Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any kind of sexual abuse, and if he had he would’ve dealt with it,” Jordan spokesman Ian Fury. “Multiple investigations have confirmed this simple fact.”

richard strauss osu lantern screenshotThe lawsuit comes as Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has taken a leading role in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump as perhaps Trump’s most aggressive defender. Inside numerous closed door interviews conducted over the past six weeks, Jordan and a senior Oversight Committee aide reporting to him led GOP questioning.

While he is not on the House Intelligence Committee, which is set to conduct public impeachment hearings starting next week, House GOP leaders are likely to try to place him on the panel for the occasion — a move that is being considered at least partly at the behest of Trump, who considers Jordan one of his most able public defenders on Capitol Hill.

Top House lawmakers of both parties have largely kept quiet about the Ohio State allegations, allowing investigations to play out. When the university issued a report in May finding that investigators could not make “conclusive determinations” about whether particular employees knew of Strauss’s conduct, Jordan claimed vindication.

Nov. 7

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

just security logo

Just Security, A Who’s Who of Ukraine Witnesses, Kate Brannen, Nov. 7, 2019. The list of witnesses complying with congressional subpoenas and thereby defying the White House directive not to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry seems to grow longer by the day. Senior officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council have all given depositions, telling remarkably similar stories about how the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy shifted from what was best for the United States to what was best for Donald Trump and his bid for reelection.

For most of these witnesses, the saga begins with the effort to push out or sideline U.S. government officials actually charged with carrying out U.S. policy objectives in Ukraine, which focus primarily on promoting democracy and the rule of law, fighting corruption, and protecting Ukraine from Russia. The order this spring to remove Marie Yovanovitch as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was a key step, and it appears to have been ordered by Trump himself. Yovanovitch and others were marginalized to make room for Rudy Giuliani, the president’s private lawyer, who was pushing to get Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to commit to investigating conspiracy theories surrounding the 2016 U.S. election and Joe Biden. This pressure campaign included the promise of a White House meeting if Zelenskyy acquiesced. But, as the summer wore on, it became increasingly clear to those working on Ukraine issues in the U.S. government that Trump was also tying much-needed security assistance with a pledge from Zelenskyy that he’d launch these investigations.

That is the story that has emerged from depositions behind closed doors on Capitol Hill over the last few weeks. It is about to burst into full view when the House Intelligence Committee convenes its first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week.

Below is a list of the witnesses who have either testified or have been requested to testify by the congressional committees leading the investigation. Each profile contains relevant background but focuses mostly on what we know so far about their testimony, through transcripts, their opening statements and media reports. The list includes the whistleblower, without whom we might not have learned about any of this.

Note: This document will be updated with primary source material as it is released.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Trump to pay $2 million to charities over misuse of foundation, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold​, Nov. 7, 2019.​ The settlement brings to an end a lawsuit filed last year by the New York State Attorney General’s Office that alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: State Dept. official says Giuliani was engaged in a campaign ‘full of lies’ about former ambassador, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez​,​ Nov. 7, 2019. George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, for engaging george kent oin a smear campaign against the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to the transcript of his closed-door deposition released by House investigators Thursday.

Kent, right, testified that Giuliani’s “assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.”

Earlier Thursday, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Pence on Europe and Russia, appeared after being subpoenaed and testified behind closed doors for about five hours as former national security adviser John Bolton declined to appear before House investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Official’s testimony sums up Trump’s Ukraine demands as ‘investigations, Biden and Clinton,’ Greg Jaffe and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 7, 2019. The transcript of Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent’s deposition suggests that he will detail his frustrations in especially stark terms when he appears in a public hearing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Twitter War Room Aims Its Punches at Decorated Colonel, Mike McIntire and Nicholas Confessore, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). A White House attack on Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, right, who testified on the Ukraine call, depends on innuendo spread in dark corners of the internet. President Trump has used social media to frame his alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019impeachment defense, torch inquisitors and undermine key witnesses.

Days after a decorated Army lieutenant colonel offered damaging testimony about President Trump’s conduct on a July phone call with Ukraine’s leader, Mr. Trump stood on the South Lawn and issued a vague but ominous warning.

“You’ll be seeing very soon what comes out,” Mr. Trump said on Saturday, referring to the officer, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman.

Mr. Trump was not more specific. But an attack on Colonel Vindman’s character and motives was already making its way from the dark corners of Mr. Trump’s social media following to the front lines of the impeachment battle. One day earlier, the right-wing commentator Jack Posobiec had retweeted a lengthy thread by a Florida man — a fan of QAnon, a fringe conspiracy about the “deep state” — claiming to have witnessed Colonel Vindman “bash America” in conversation with Russian officers during a joint military exercise in Germany in 2013.

That accusation was unsubstantiated and has been rejected by some of the colonel’s colleagues. Even so, Mr. Posobiec’s post was retweeted by Mr. Trump’s son and chief defender, Donald Trump Jr., driving it through conservative social media circles and onto pro-Trump websites, whose stories the younger Mr. Trump promoted to his four million followers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It’s too late to save yourself now, Bill Barr, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 7, 2019. For Bill Barr, it’s too little, too late. In my news colleagues’ latest scoop, The dana milbank CustomPost’s Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report that the attorney general declined to fulfill President Trump’s request that he publicly exonerate Trump’s “perfect” call with Ukraine’s president — following several actions recently in which “the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House.”

The distancing maneuver is plainly an attempt by those sympathetic to Barr to make him look a bit less like the president’s mob lawyer — done anonymously so that Trump wouldn’t rage at Barr but instead blame the “degenerate” Post, as he did Thursday. But Barr has sealed his fate.  Barr has turned the Justice Department into a shield for presidential misconduct and a sword wielded against political opponents.

Even as Barr’s latest distancing gambit debuted, he was due to huddle Wednesday with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Trump’s loyal defender, to decide how to michael horwitz headshotrelease an inspector general’s report examining the FBI’s investigation into Russian 2016 interference and Trump’s campaign. Notably, the Justice Department inspector general himself, Michael Horowitz, was “not expected to attend,” The Post reported, leaving Barr and Graham free to decide what should be declassified to put Trump in the best possible light.

Barr’s team aims to get that report out in the coming weeks, just in time for Barr’s holiday party at the Trump International Hotel, for which the attorney general is paying upward of $30,000 to the president’s business. Barr must have liked what he saw when he dined at the hotel earlier this year on a night when Trump was also there for a fundraiser.

Rewarding Trump loyalists’ demands, Barr appointed a prosecutor (in addition to the inspector general) to examine the Trump-Russia probe, which has mushroomed into a criminal investigation of the investigators. Among those leading the probe? Nora Dannehy, the special prosecutor who decided not to charge any members of the George W. Bush administration after the politically motivated firing of U.S. attorneys and subsequent lies about the actions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind the Deal That Put Giuliani Together With a Dirt-Hunting Partner, Kenneth P. Vogel, Ben Protess and Sarah Maslin Nir, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). Rudy Giuliani rudy giulianiwanted $500,000 to help a venture started by a man who would go on to help him in Ukraine. A Republican donor put up the money.

It has been one of the enduring mysteries of the impeachment drama: Where did a cash-strapped Ukrainian-born American businessman get $500,000 to pay President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani?

It turns out that the money came from a Long Island lawyer named Charles Gucciardo, a Republican donor and supporter of Mr. Trump. The payment was part of a deal in which Mr. Gucciardo would become an investor in a company started by the businessman, Lev Parnas, according to Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Gucciardo’s lawyer and other people familiar with the arrangement.

The money, paid to Mr. Giuliani’s firm in September and October 2018, cemented a relationship between Mr. Parnas and Mr. Giuliani (shown together at left at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC). Within months that relationship would evolve into a critical front in the campaign by the president and Mr. Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Customgovernment to start investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically.

Mr. Gucciardo, 62, a plaintiff’s lawyer, has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, and there is no evidence that he was involved in the Ukrainian pressure campaign.

Mr. Gucciardo’s lawyer, Randy Zelin, said Mr. Gucciardo invested in the company because of Mr. Giuliani’s involvement. “He understood that he was investing in a reputable company that Rudolph Giuliani was going to be the spokesman and the face of,” Mr. Zelin said, comparing Mr. Giuliani’s role to the one he had played for the personal data-security company LifeLock, which ran commercials featuring Mr. Giuliani. “When you think of cybersecurity, you think of Rudolph Giuliani,” Mr. Zelin said.

The company being promoted by Mr. Parnas, Fraud Guarantee, was billed as a way for investors to get insurance against the risk of being defrauded. Mr. Gucciardo’s money was a loan that could be converted into a stake in the company, according to people familiar with the deal. But it is not clear the stake would have any value, since Fraud Guarantee does not appear to have any customers.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Facing Investigation, Giuliani Needed a Lawyer, but Firms Stayed Away, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum and Michael Rothfeld, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said on Wednesday that he had assembled a legal team to represent him in the criminal investigation into his activities related to Ukraine, an announcement that came after weeks of sputtered attempts to find a lawyer willing to take him on as a client. After weeks of looking, Mr. Giuliani said he assembled a legal team to represent him as he comes under scrutiny from federal prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr declined to hold news conference to say Trump broke no laws in Ukraine call, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2019. Attorney william barr new oGeneral William P. Barr, right, turned down a request from the president to declare that a call in which Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate a political rival was aboveboard, people familiar with the matter said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump asked the attorney general to say that no laws were broken in the Ukraine call. He said no, Michael D. Shear, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump asked that Attorney General William P. Barr hold a news conference to declare that he had broken no laws in a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that is now at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, but Mr. Barr declined, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Trump’s request came shortly after the White House released a reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call in which the president pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. An intelligence whistle-blower pointed to the call as evidence that the president had tried to enlist a foreign power to help him in the 2020 presidential election, and House Democrats started an impeachment inquiry Justice Department log circularinto whether the president’s conduct warranted his removal from office.

Mr. Trump, who has aggressively pushed Republicans and administration officials to say he did nothing wrong, has repeatedly said the call was “perfect.” In the days after the reconstructed transcript was released to the public, the White House told the Justice Department of Mr. Trump’s desire for Mr. Barr to appear republican party upside downpublicly, according to the person who was told of it. The request was first reported by The Washington Post.

Mr. Trump asserted Thursday on Twitter that The Washington Post had “MADE UP the story” and denied that he had asked the attorney general to speak publicly about the phone call — adding that he never asked his attorney general “to hold a news conference.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Has Robert Mueller finally found a way? Bill Palmer, Nov. 7, 2019. When a FOIA request revealed internal notes from Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation earlier this week, it revealed that Mueller had amassed all kinds of incriminating evidence and testimony against Donald Trump and others, yet Mueller never did anything with it before handing in his report and going home. It raised questions about what Mueller was really doing, and if he had any endgame strategy at all. The Roger Stone trial is now suddenly casting all of this in a different light.

bill palmer report logo headerWe all know that corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr came in and stabbed Robert Mueller in the back by forcing him to end his probe, and then lying to the public about what was in Mueller’s report. Barr will end up in solitary confinement after Trump is gone, but that doesn’t do anyone much good right now. When Mueller had the opportunity to publicly expose the incriminating evidence against Trump during his televised congressional testimony earlier this year, Mueller mostly sat there and refused to elaborate on anything, in some of the most useless testimony of all time.

robert mueller full face fileWe were all left wondering why Robert Mueller, right, was refusing to do the right thing. He had a microphone, all he had to do was use it. It’s not as if he was worried about keeping any potential criminal cases intact, because best anyone can tell, they all got shut down. But then the Roger Stone trial started up this week, and we all thought it was simply going to be about perjury and witness intimidation and the like. Then the prosecutor, who was a member of Mueller’s team, opened his mouth.

On Wednesday it immediately became clear that the prosecution is planning to use the Roger Stone trial to spell out Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election, and what Stone was doing with that illicit information within the Trump campaign. It was revealed that Trump 2016 campaign big wigs Rick Gates and Steve Bannon are going to testify for the prosecution. It’s starting to look like Trump is being put on trial by proxy.

You can argue that this is too little too late in terms of informing the public about Donald Trump’s election crimes, and that Robert Mueller should have simply spoken to the public when he had the chance – and you’d be right. But it’s notable that when Bill Barr came in and shut Mueller down, Mueller’s final move was to quickly indict and arrest Roger Stone. It’s as if Mueller decided that putting Stone on trial was Plan B to work around Barr’s villainy. We’ll see how much comes out at trial this week. Has Mueller finally found a way to play some role in exposing Trump’s crimes? We’ll see.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bolton is said to be willing to defy White House and testify if court clears way, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger​, Nov. 7, 2019. Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the john bolton full cropped Customway, according to people familiar with his views.

Bolton, right, could be a powerful witness for Democrats: Top State Department and national security officials have already testified that he was deeply concerned about efforts by Trump and his allies to push Ukraine to open investigations into the president’s political rivals while the Trump administration held up military aid to that country.

The former national security adviser, who abruptly left his post in September, is expected to confirm their statements and describe his conversations with Trump, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry.

However, Bolton, a longtime GOP foreign policy adviser, does not want to comply with the Democratic inquiry without a court ruling on the ongoing constitutional dispute between the Trump administration and Congress, the people said.

U.S. District Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson in Washington heard oral arguments in the McGahn case last week and said she would probably issue an opinion before the end of November.

  • Washington Post, Inquiry turns to Pence adviser who heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian leader
  • Washington Post, Live Updates: Trump lashes out at lawyer for whistleblower, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez​, Nov. 7, 2019. The president called for an immediate end to the impeachment inquiry.U.S. Elections

Nov. 6

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Sondland Updates Impeachment Testimony, Describing Ukraine Quid Pro Quo, Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). A critical witness in the impeachment inquiry offered Congress substantial new testimony this week, revealing that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted.

gordon sondland oThe disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, right, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in four new pages of sworn testimony released on Tuesday, confirmed his involvement in essentially laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged.

The testimony offered several major new details beyond the account he gave the inquiry in a 10-hour interview last month. Mr. Sondland provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. By early September, Mr. Sondland said, he had become convinced that military aid and a White House meeting were conditioned on Ukraine committing to those investigations.

Mr. Sondland had said in a text message exchange in early September with William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, that the president had been clear there was no quid pro quo between the aid and investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats. But Mr. Sondland testified last month that he was djt phone plane shealah craighead whonly repeating what Mr. Trump had told him, leaving open the question of whether he believed the president. The new account suggested that Mr. Sondland may have not been completely forthcoming with Mr. Taylor, and that he was, in fact, aware that the aid was contingent upon the investigations.

In his updated testimony, Mr. Sondland recounted how he had discussed the linkage with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw. Mr. Zelensky had discussed the suspension of aid with Mr. Pence, Mr. Sondland said.

“I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Mr. Sondland said in the document, which was released by the House committees leading the inquiry, along with the transcript of his original testimony from last month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Five takeaways from Gordon Sondland’s and Kurt Volker’s transcripts, Aaron Blake, Nov. 5, 2019. The testimony of two diplomats closely involved in talks with Ukraine undercut many of the Trump team's chief arguments.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tax Return Case Confronts Supreme Court With Momentous Choice, Adam Liptak, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton sustained unanimous losses when they sought to withhold evidence, suggesting that the president may face an uphill fight. In a matter of days, President Trump will ask the Supreme Court to rule on his bold claim that he is absolutely immune from criminal investigation while he remains in office. If the court agrees to hear the case, its decision is likely to produce a major statement on the limits of presidential power — and to test the independence of the court itself.

Mr. Trump has been the subject of countless investigations and lawsuits since he took office, including a 22-month inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to look into his campaign’s ties to Russia. But the new case, concerning an investigation by Manhattan prosecutors into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, will be the Supreme Court’s first chance to consider the president’s arguments that he is beyond the reach of the justice system.

The case concerns a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. On Monday, the federal appeals court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Trump’s request to block the subpoena, which seeks eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.

The appeals court’s ruling was narrow and modest, hewing closely to the circumstances of the dispute before it. If the Supreme Court adopted the lower court’s reasoning, it would answer only the question of whether state prosecutors may require third parties to turn over a sitting president’s financial records for use in a grand jury investigation.

But such a ruling, rejecting a sweeping claim of immunity, would nonetheless be a once-in-a-generation reckoning with whether and how presidents can be investigated.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Investigators Summon Mick Mulvaney to Testify, Catie Edmondson, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats cited evidence that the president’s acting chief of staff might have been “directly involved” in Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. House impeachment investigators on Tuesday called on Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s acting chief of staff, to testify this week in their inquiry into President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, closing in on the upper echelons of Mr. Trump’s staff as they near the end of their fact-finding phase.

Mr. Mulvaney has emerged as a central figure in House Democrats’ investigation because of his proximity to the president as well as his own actions. He undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo when he admitted at a news conference weeks ago that the White House withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to further the president’s political interests.

“I have news for everybody: Get over it,” he told reporters at the time. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” He backtracked hours later and tried to deny that he had ever confirmed such an arrangement.

Mr. Mulvaney, who has remained defiant throughout the inquiry, is unlikely to cooperate with House investigators. He ignored a subpoena issued last month from House investigators for documents related to the inquiry, and his top aide, Robert Blair, refused to comply with a subpoena to testify this week.

Inside DC 

paula white cain facebook

Daily Mail, 'You're going to get a vision!' -- Televangelist Paula White promises spiritual results in exchange for donations up to $2,000 in sermon quid-pro-quo after Donald Trump hires her for White House post, David Martosko, Nov. 6, 2019. A Florida televangelist who has taken a job in Donald Trump White House said in a sermon on Sunday that Christians who give money to her ministry will receive life-clarifying 'visons' from God.

Paula White (shown above in a Facebook photo on her site) has been close to the president since at least 2002, and she says the pair once planned to open a megachurch together. She preaches the 'Prosperity Gospel,' which says giving money to churches and religious causes brings health and wealth.

She prayed Sunday that congregants would open their wallets. 'Maybe that's a sacrifice of fifty dollars or a hundred dollars, maybe it's a thousand dollars, whatever it is you speak,' she told the Almighty.

'Some of us are gonna get a covenant seed right now,' she said, referring to her belief that cash donations are 'seeds' that grow into karma-like benefits that return to the giver in larger ways.

White claimed at Trump's 2020 re-election launch event that his opponents were a 'demonic network.' Now, as the closest thing the president has to a spiritual mentor, she is on the government payroll.

White claimed Trump hired an architect and wanted her to take the project over once it was built, but a divorce from her second husband a year later sidelined everything.

She is now married to Jonathan Cain, the keyboardist from the rock band Journey. Thrice-married like Trump, White's first husband exited their marriage because of her affair with fellow faith-healer Benny Hinn.

Trump, she said, is a quiet Christian who 'doesn't know "Christian-ese".'

But he proposed 'a crystal cathedral for God,' similar to televangelist Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles. Schuller, then an active preacher, died in 2015.

White's role in the government, the official said, is largely about communicating 'deliverables' that evangelical voters care about.

Those include statements about 'religious liberty,' policy dictates that marginalize abortion rights, and efforts to unshackle pastors from the tax consequences of politicking – all garden-variety red meat for Republicans wooing the Bible belt.

On Friday, for instance, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a regulatory change designed to protect adoption agencies that refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Nov. 5

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland just formally revised his House impeachment testimony – and it’s devastating to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2019. Today we saw the gordon sondland osecond round of House impeachment inquiry transcripts released, this time involving U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, right. We knew this would be an interesting one, due to the sheer amount of controversy surrounding Sondland’s testimony. Now it turns out Sondland went back and revised his initial testimony, and let’s just say that it’s not good news for Donald Trump.

Gordon Sondland originally testified that he wasn’t aware of any quid pro quo at the time he was interacting with Ukraine officials, and that no one in the Trump administration had bill palmer report logo headertold him about what was going on. But several subsequent witnesses have since testified that not only did Sondland know about Trump’s quid pro quo, he was the ringleader behind it. This led multiple House Democrats to publicly accuse Sondland of perjury, which could have resulted in felony charges against Sondland once Trump is gone.

european union logo rectangleThis apparently scared Gordon Sondland straight, because the New York Times is now reporting that Sondland went back and provided the House impeachment inquiry with four pages of revised testimony this week, in which he confirms that Donald Trump was running a quid pro quo, and admits to his own role in carrying it out.

This is huge, because while Gordon Sondland’s original testimony was bad enough for Donald Trump in its own right, his revised testimony is far worse for Trump. It looks like Sondland wasn’t willing to bet his future on Trump pardon that was never going to arrive anyway, and he’s instead seeking to make amends with the House. Instead Sondland’s testimony could end up helping to send Trump to prison when this is all said and done.

washington post logoWashington Post, Transcripts offer insights into hostility faced by former ambassador, Greg Miller, Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). marie yovanovitchThe former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testified that she was the target of a shadow campaign to orchestrate her removal that involved President Trump’s personal attorney and Ukrainian officials suspected of fostering corruption, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday by House impeachment investigators.

In one of the most gripping passages of her testimony, which took place Oct. 11, Marie Yovanovitch said that she remained worried that she would be a target of retaliation by Trump, who referred to her in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president as “bad news” and someone who was “going to go through some things.”

ny times logoNew York Times, An associate of Rudy Giuliani has broken ranks and opened a dialogue with investigators, Ben Protess, Michael Rothfeld and William K. rudy giulianiRashbaum, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Parnas could offer Congress a vein of information about a political pressure campaign in Ukraine. An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, who was involved in a campaign to pressure Ukraine into aiding President Trump’s political prospects has broken ranks, opening a dialogue with congressional impeachment investigators and accusing the president of falsely denying their relationship.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffThe associate, Lev Parnas, shown in a mug shot at left, had previously resisted speaking with investigators for the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings, which are examining the president’s pressure attempts in Ukraine. A former lawyer for Mr. Trump was then representing Mr. Parnas.

But since then, Mr. Parnas has hired new lawyers who contacted the congressional investigators last week to notify them to “direct any future correspondence or communication to us,” according to a copy of the letter.

The lawyers also signaled on Monday that Mr. Parnas, who was arrested last month on campaign finance charges, is prepared to comply with a congressional subpoena for his documents and testimony. More of this excerpt below.

Mr. Parnas, a Ukrainian-born American citizen who was central to Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump’s rivals, could offer Congress a vein of information about the efforts in Ukraine.

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: Republicans prefer compromising US intelligence agents, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 5, 2019. The Republican Party has a nasty habit of exposing wayne madesen report logoCentral Intelligence Agency officers, many of whom work in the field.

louis gohmertThe latest example of such violations of operational security is the de facto compromise of a CIA officer, the alleged whistleblower who submitted a complaint through proper channels on Donald Trump’s extortion phone call on July 25, 2019 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Three Republicans in Congress are doing everything possible to expose the whistleblower.

Three Republicans in Congress – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Louis Gohmert (R-FL), right – are doing everything possible to expose the whistleblower.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP used scattershot strategy in early days of inquiry, transcripts show, Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Republicans demanded transparency in public but complained behind closed doors about the release of information, going after colleagues who were quoted in media reports about witness appearances, republican party upside downand quizzing witnesses themselves.

The efforts by GOP lawmakers to shape the Democrats’ inquiry emerged in full view for the first time Monday with the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from two early witnesses: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine sticks it to Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2019. GOP operative and proud “Never Trumper” Rick Wilson likes to say that everything Donald Trump touches dies. He’s correct, of course. That mantra also increasingly appears to apply to Rudy Giuliani these days. He conspired with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman in the Trump-Ukraine scandal, and as a result, those guys have both been arrested. Now Rudy has taken down one of his co-conspirators on the Ukraine side of the scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerMonths ago, Rudy Giuliani managed to talk a Ukrainian prosecutor named Kostiantyn Kulyk into launching a sham investigation into the Bidens. That investigation ended up getting shut down because it was completely illegitimate. Now Ukraine has taken things further by belatedly firing Kulyk, according to Reuters, ostensibly as a way of trying to completely wash its hands of the criminal scheme that Rudy has been running. Kulyk is shown at right in a Reuters photo by kostiantyn kulyk headshot reuters viacheslav ratynskyiViacheslav Ratynskyi. 

This comes amid scattered reports yesterday that Rudy Giuliani is still trying to make his fake Biden scandals stick in Ukraine. Rudy is the guy who’s in too deep and just doesn’t know when to quit. Last night Lev Parnas fired his Trump-affiliated lawyer and announced that he’s going to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry.

Parnas has apparently had enough of Rudy Giuliani’s crap and is looking for a way out of this mess, even as Rudy just keeps going and going. he’s like the Energizer bunny of stupid. We’re not sure who’s going to be the one to tell Rudy that it’s over. Sooner or later the SDNY will handcuff him. Until then, he’s just going to keep digging himself a deeper hole.

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite Trump’s visits to his properties, some of his businesses show new signs of financial decline, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell, Joshua Partlow and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 5, 2019.  Profits at the president’s Chicago hotel fell 89 percent from 2015 to 2018, from $16.7 million to $1.8 million, according to documents filed with Cook County, Ill.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump called woman who says he sexually assaulted her, phone records show, Joshua Partlow, Nov. 5, 2019. Summer Zervos, a former candidate on “The Apprentice,” is suing President Trump for defamation. Trump has denied accusations of sexual impropriety and called Zervos and other accusers “liars.”

More than a decade ago, Donald Trump made phone calls from his cellphone to a former candidate on “The Apprentice” around the same time that she says he sexually assaulted her, according to phone records made public Tuesday.

The excerpts from Trump’s Verizon cellphone bills over a three-month period in 2007 and 2008 show that Trump exchanged calls with Summer Zervos on at least six occasions, summer zervos cnnincluding on a day that Trump’s private calendar has shown that he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

That hotel stay is a key part of Zervos’s defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York State Supreme Court. Zervos, shown in a file photo, says that Trump forced himself on her with unwanted kissing and groping while she visited him for lunch in his hotel room.

The phone records “corroborate [Zervos’s] account of the sexual assaults with even more granularity and with a degree of precision that [Zervos] could not have known were she not telling the truth about those interactions when she spoke publicly about them before this case was filed,” her lawyer, Mariann Wang, said in a court filing. Zervos’s legal team released the records Tuesday.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kurt Volker just dropped a house on Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2019. / The House impeachment inquiry has released the testimony transcripts from kurt volkerGordon Sondland and Kurt Volker today. Sondland’s testimony, which he revised to acknowledge that Donald Trump is incredibly guilty in the Ukraine scandal, is getting most of the bill palmer report logo headerattention. But the Volker testimony is also notable – particularly with regard to Rudy Giuliani’s fate.

Kurt Volker, left, didn’t just testify that Rudy Giuliani had been carrying out corrupt hijinks in Ukraine all along. Volker also provided emails which strongly suggest that Rudy was attempting to get Volker to perjure himself. As flagged by Marcy Wheeler, Giuliani sent Volker an email ahead of his impeachment testimony which said this:

Kurt,

Thanks for the support. All I need is for you to tell the truth. You called me about Yermak and I reported back to you and Sondland, e.g., a conference call on Aug. 11. Three others before. Really this is not hard just fair to affirm truth.

Rudy.

You see the problem here, right? If Rudy Giuliani was really telling Kurt Volker to tell the truth, he wouldn’t have needed to then spell out specifically what he wanted Volker to say. In other words, Rudy was trying to get Volker to give false or misleading testimony under oath. That’s a crime – and it’s one that SDNY can charge him with when it indicts and arrests him for his overall role in the Ukraine scandal. Rudy is more screwed than ever.

Political Parody

Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NYC Bids Adieu To Donald Trump, Frank Sinatra-style song by Pete Caldera, regular performer at Carnegie Club in New York City, Nov. 5, 2019 (1:53 mins.).

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Pompeo Faces Political Peril as Diplomats Revolt, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, Nov. 5, 2019 (updated). As President Trump’s first C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo was briefed by agency officials on the extensive evidence — including American intercepts of conversations between participants — showing that Russian hackers working for the government of Vladimir V. Putin had interfered in the 2016 American presidential campaign. In May 2017, Mr. Pompeo, right, testified in a Senate hearing that he stood by that mike pompeo o sec stateconclusion.

Two and a half years later, Mr. Pompeo seems to have changed his mind.

As Mr. Trump’s second secretary of state, he now supports an investigation into a discredited, partisan theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the Democratic National Committee, which Mr. Trump wants to use to make the case that he was elected without Moscow’s help. “Inquiries with respect to that are completely state dept map logo Smallimportant,” Mr. Pompeo said last month. “I think everyone recognizes that governments have an obligation — indeed, a duty — to ensure that elections happen with integrity, without interference from any government, whether that’s the Ukrainian government or any other.”

Mr. Pompeo’s spreading of a false narrative at the heart of the Ukraine scandal is the most striking example of how he has fallen off the tightrope he has traversed for the past 18 months: demonstrating loyalty to the president while insisting to others he was pursuing a traditional, conservative foreign policy. Mr. Pompeo, 55, now finds himself at the most perilous moment of his political life as veteran diplomats testify to Congress that Mr. Trump and his allies hijacked Ukraine policy for political gain — and as congressional investigators look into what Mr. Pompeo knew of the machinations of Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. trying to finish report on Russia probe before Thanksgiving, Devlin Barrett, Robert Costa and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 5, 2019. The potentially explosive inspector general report about the FBI's investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign will mark a major public test of Attorney General William P. Barr’s credibility.

U.S. Media / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department fishing for details about anonymous ‘resistance’ op-ed writer, Reis Thebault, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The author, identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” is set to release a tell-all book this month.

The Justice Department is looking for identifying details about the anonymous Trump administration official who excoriated the president’s “amorality” in an unsigned New York Justice Department log circularTimes opinion column last year, according to a letter the agency sent Monday.

The author of the column, whose identity has remained a secret for more than a year, has also written a tell-all book that will publish this month — and Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt wants proof that the writer is not bound by a government nondisclosure agreement.

Either that, Hunt wrote in the letter, or the book’s publisher and the author’s agents should turn over the official’s employment information: where in the government the person worked, and when he or she worked there. If the official had access to classified information, Hunt warned, the book should be “submitted for pre-publication review.”

The letter — addressed to Carol Ross at the publishing company Hachette Book Group and literary agents Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin — was part of the agency’s “routine fact-gathering process,” said a Justice Department official.

But Latimer denounced Hunt’s request as an attempt to “intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels.”

Nov. 4

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexual assault, sues him for defamation, Beth Reinhard, Nov. 4, 2019. She detailed the alleged incident in June. He has denied ever meeting her. A writer and longtime women’s advice columnist on Monday sued President Trump, accusing him of defaming her this summer after she claimed he sexually assaulted her two decades ago in an upscale New York City department store.

e jean carrollE. Jean Carroll, left, publicly described the alleged assault for the first time in June, in a published excerpt of a memoir. At that time and in the new lawsuit, she said that after running into the then-real estate developer at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, they chatted and shopped together before he attacked her in a dressing room. She said he knocked her head against a wall, pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she pushed him off and ran out.

Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,” Carroll said in a statement. “No person in this country should be above the law – including the president.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Court blocks Trump effort to withhold tax returns from N.Y. prosecutors, Jonathan O'Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Deanna Paul, Nov. 4, 2019.
The case tests the limits of presidential power and sets the stage for a Supreme Court fight. A federal appeals court on Monday rejected President Trump’s effort to block New York prosecutors from accessing his tax records and Trump’s sweeping claims of presidential immunity.

In trying to block a subpoena for his private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election, Trump’s attorneys have argued that as president Trump is immune not only from prosecution but from investigations.

But in the decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that “any presidential immunity from a state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such subpoena.”

Rebutting the argument that allowing the case to proceed would hinder the president in his official duties, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said that Trump was not at risk of imminent arrest or imprisonment — and wasn’t required to do anything.

“The subpoena at issue is directed not at the President, but to his accountants; compliance does not require the President to do anything at all,” Katzmann wrote. He was joined by judges Denny Chin and Christopher F. Droney, all of whom were nominated by Democratic presidents.

The ruling does not mean that Trump’s tax records will be turned over immediately. Trump plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, according to Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.

Palmer Report, Opinion: There’s a grand jury that’s deep into the process of criminally indicting Donald Trump, and no one is talking about it, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2019. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled this morning that accounting firm Mazars USA must turn over eight years of Donald Trump’s tax returns to the New York grand jury that subpoenaed them. This will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which may or may not even agree to hear the case, and we’ll see how that goes. But the biggest story here continues to be the grand jury itself.

bill palmer report logo headerBy definition, grand juries only exist for one reason: to bring criminal indictments against people. The fact that this grand jury is seeking Donald Trump’s tax returns means that it’s targeting Donald Trump for indictment on state charges. It’s already been separately reported that prosecutors in New York have pulled Michael Cohen out of prison so he can testify before this grand jury, which means the indictment goes beyond the scope of just Trump’s tax returns – which means Trump is going to be indicted whether the grand jury gets his tax returns or not.

djt michael cohenThis opens up a whole lot of questions about whether New York will indict Donald Trump on state charges while he’s still in office, or whether it’s planning to leave the indictment under seal for now and then arrest him the minute he’s no longer in office. If New York does indict Trump before the election, it’ll set off a whole new round of legal battles about whether Trump would be forced to stand trial while still in office, and so on.

But those are questions that will have to be answered at a later date. For now, the headline is that there’s a New York grand jury that’s deep into the process of indicting Donald Trump on state charges – and even though everyone is aware of the grand jury’s court battle over Trump’s tax returns, most observers are overlooking the fact that there’s a grand jury targeting Trump, period.

washington post logoWashington Post, House investigators release deposition transcripts, subpoenas to testify, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Elise Viebeck and Brittany Shammas, Nov. 4, 2019. House investigators on Monday released the first transcripts from closed-door depositions taken as part of the impeachment inquiry as four White House officials, including John Eisenberg, a lawyer central to the Ukraine controversy, defied subpoenas to testify.

The refusals to cooperate are coming on a day in which Trump tweeted that he sees “no reason” for lawmakers to summon witnesses regarding his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he again contended was “perfect.”

House Democrats are encountering renewed stonewalling from the White House as they attempt to move deeper into the ranks of officials with knowledge of Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when U.S. military aid was being withheld from that country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney allies try to stonewall Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Erica Werner, Nov. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Budget chief and other top aides will attempt to create firewall after other senior officials gave testimony that questioned Trump’s motivations.

One of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s top allies is preparing to deliver what President Trump wants but has failed to achieve so far in the impeachment inquiry: unquestioning loyalty from administration staff.

russell voughtRussell Vought, right, a Mulvaney protege who leads the White House Office of Management and Budget, intends a concerted defiance of congressional subpoenas in coming days, and two of his subordinates will follow suit — simultaneously proving their loyalty to the president and a creating a potentially critical firewall regarding the alleged use of foreign aid to elicit political favors from a U.S. ally.

The OMB is at the nexus of the impeachment inquiry because Democrats are pressing for details about why the White House budget office effectively froze the Ukraine funds that Congress had already appropriated.

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower Is Willing to Answer Republicans’ Questions, Lawyer Says, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The lawyer said his client would respond to written questions, but Republicans have pushed for him to appear before an open hearing in the impeachment inquiry.

The whistle-blower who touched off an impeachment inquiry with his explosive complaint about President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is willing to answer House Republicans’ written questions, his legal team said on Sunday.

The offer was intended to deter Republican attacks and show that the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer, is above the political rancor unleashed by House Democrats’ inquiry. But it appeared not to satisfy House Republicans, who, led by Mr. Trump, have assailed the whistle-blower as politically motivated and demanded his identity be revealed.

Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer for the whistle-blower, directly challenged those attacks on Sunday. “Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective,” he wrote in a long statement on Twitter. “That is not our role.”

Nov. 3

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, A presidential loathing for Ukraine is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). One theme that runs through almost all of the accounts from witnesses who have testified before House lawmakers is President Trump’s unyielding loathing of the former Soviet republic, which dates to his earliest days in the White House.

Three of President Trump’s top advisers met with him in the Oval Office in May, determined to convince him that the new Ukrainian leader was an ally deserving of U.S. support.

They had barely begun their pitch when Trump unloaded on them, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting. In Trump’s mind, the officials said, Ukraine’s entire leadership had colluded with the Democrats to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign.

“They tried to take me down,” Trump railed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: To Beat Trump, Focus on His Corruption, David Leonhardt, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Personal attacks don’t hurt him. Substantive ones do. House Democrats are doing the right thing by pursuing impeachment against President Trump. But it does create a political quandary for their party.

Democrats have been most successful against Trump when they have focused on his unpopular policies, as they did during the 2017 fight over Obamacare and the 2018 midterms. They have been least successful when focusing on his outrageous behavior, as Hillary Clinton did in her 2016 campaign. Trump’s supporters seem to take his personality as a given and aren’t moved by complaints about it. Some fraction of them, however, can evidently be swayed by his failure to live up to his policy promises.

Given the severity of Trump’s misbehavior — turning American foreign policy into an opposition-research arm of his campaign — Democrats had no choice but to start an impeachment inquiry. Yet they need to remember that impeachment is an inherently political process, not a technocratic legal matter. It will fail if it does not persuade more Americans of Trump’s unfitness for office. It will succeed only if he is not president on Jan. 21, 2021.

And it is far more likely to succeed if Democrats can connect it in voters’ minds to a larger argument about the substance of Trump’s presidency.

washington post logoWashington Post, Internal Mueller documents show Trump campaign chief pushed unproven theory Ukraine hacked Democrats, Rosalind S. Helderman and Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, suggested as early as the summer of 2016 that Ukrainians might have been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign rather than Russians, a key witness told federal investigators last year.

Newly released documents show that Manafort’s protege, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, told the FBI of Manafort’s theory during interviews conducted as part of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Gates told the FBI that Manafort had shared his theory of Ukrainian culpability with him and other campaign aides before the election.

The new information shows how early people in Trump’s orbit were pushing the unsubstantiated theory about Ukraine’s role.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: As impeachment enters a new phase, keep an eye on endangered Republicans, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Always backing the president no matter what could turn the GOP’s fortunes in the 2020 elections.

President Trump and his Republican allies can’t seem to decide whether they want his defense to be based on substance — He did nothing wrong! It was a perfect call! — or procedure — Democrats were out to get him from the start! It’s a Soviet-style inquisition! That confusion is no surprise: Both arguments are unconvincing, and Republicans will increasingly have to figure out how to deal with that unpleasant reality.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Takes In a Different Kind of Fight: U.F.C. in New York, Kevin Draper, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.).President Trump’s appearance at Madison Square Garden came days after news emerged he had changed his residency to Florida.

Mr. Trump traveled to New York City on Saturday night to U.F.C. 244, sitting near the thick of the action at the mixed martial arts event at Madison Square Garden.

At his second sporting event in a week, and just days after news emerged that he had changed his residency to Florida instead of New York, Mr. Trump received a very loud, mixed reaction as he headed toward his seat next to the octagon as “Back in Black” by AC/DC blared throughout the arena.

Many fans, already standing as the president entered just before 10 p.m., booed loudly, while others cheered. Some held a large sign that said “Trump 2020 Keep America Great,” and others gestured obscenely toward the president.

Waiting for the pay-per-view fights to start, Mr. Trump stood from his seat and waved to the crowd, as many spectators took photos and videos. In a suit and red tie, he gave a thumbs up to the TV camera.

More Trump Probe Commentary

djt cpac gage skidmore Custom

Donald J. Trump shown at the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) convention in 2013 (Gage Skidmore photo).

Buzzflash, Opinion: Impeach Me or I'll Steal the 2020 Election: Trump's Dare to Pelosi, Mark Karlin, Nov. 3, 2019. Trump has implicitly thrown down the gauntlet to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats: Impeach me or I’ll steal the 2020 election. It is such an audacious and corrupt implied threat that it defies the imagination. But a public challenge it is.

After all, Trump has publicly asked for foreign powers to interfere in the US election. His defenders are now admitting that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was indeed a quid pro quo request for “a favor” to investigate the Bidens. But they are trying out a new line of defense on behalf of Trump, as noted in a MEDIAite email:

After varied attempts sway public opinion on the impeachment inquiry, Trump's surrogates are trying out a new argument: what President Trump did on the call with Zelenksy may have been unseemly, but it wasn't a crime and therefore not an impeachable offense.

Trump publicly told the DC press corps, and the world, that he might ask the Chinese for help in investigating the Bidens, something he reportedly did in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to his public announcement.

In short, whatever Trump’s cynical denials, he has made it clear that he welcomes foreign interference if it helps him get elected again in 2020.

Nov. 2

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoalexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Washington Post, White House official who heard Trump’s Ukraine call testified that he was told to keep quiet, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, testified that he received the directive from John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, after White House lawyers learned that a CIA employee had raised concerns about the phone call, according to people familiar with Vindman's testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction, Philip Rucker, Rachael Bade and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as “Never Trumpers” and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomTo the Democratic leaders directing the impeachment proceedings, Trump’s actions to stymie their investigation into his conduct with Ukraine add up to another likely article of impeachment: obstruction.

The centerpiece of House Democrats’ eventual impeachment charges is widely expected to be Trump’s alleged abuse of power over Ukraine. But obstruction of Congress is now all but certain to be introduced as well, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides, just as it was five decades ago when the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against then-president Richard Nixon. But Nixon resigned before the full House vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing number of GOP senators consider acknowledging Trump’s quid pro quo on Ukraine, Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Facing mounting evidence, some Senate Republicans argued privately this week that they should acknowledge the arrangement while saying it was not illegal and not impeachable.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The stakes just got a lot higher for the rogue White House lawyer, Bill Palmer, Nov. 2, 2019. As more House impeachment testimony continues to surface, more and more of the focus has begun to point to one White House lawyer in particular. Now the stakes for that lawyer have just gotten a whole lot higher.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst we learned that Colonel Vindman testified that White House lawyer John Eisenberg had said he was going to hide the Trump-Ukraine transcript on the secret server. Then we learned that Eisenberg also allegedly told Vindman not to speak to anyone about what he’d heard on the Trump-Ukraine phone call. If this pans out, it means Eisenberg committed obstruction of justice on a level that’ll send him to prison for a very long time after Trump is out of office. This brings us to last night.

John Eisenberg just happens to be scheduled to testify on Monday. We imagine the House impeachment inquiry will have quite a number of pointed questions for him about the Ukraine scandal, and he could have quite a hard time trying to figure out how to answer them without either incriminating himself or perjuring himself. Accordingly, the House subpoenaed Eisenberg on Friday night, in order to underscore that he does not have the option of not showing up.

We’ll see what Eisenberg does on Monday. If he testifies, he’ll probably be worsening his already-ugly criminal exposure – but his cooperating might earn him leniency from prosecutors once Trump is gone. If he refuses to testify, it’ll help ensure that he faces the most severe criminal charges possible once this is over. Eisenberg can’t win no matter what he does next, but it’s his move anyway.

Palmer Report, Newly released Mueller memos reveal bombshell about Republican National Committee and WikiLeaks, Bill Palmer, Nov. 2, 2019. The internal memos from the Robert Mueller investigation have just been obtained by BuzzFeed, thanks to a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, and the first batch of them has been published today. There are a number of shocking revelations in here, including one about the Republican National Committee and WikiLeaks.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the memos reveals that Rick Gates testified that the Republican National Committee “indicated they knew the timing of the upcoming releases” from WikiLeaks during the 2016 election cycle. This means the RNC was at least indirectly coordinating with a cyberterrorist group that had hacked and stolen the Democratic National Committee’s internal emails.

Rick Gates didn’t specify who at the RNC knew about the timing of the WikiLeaks. It’s far from clear why Mueller didn’t choose to pursue this, as Gates was working under a cooperation deal and would have been required to name names if asked. This raises the question of not only who at the RNC was participating in this criminal conspiracy with WikiLeaks to alter the outcome of the election, but also how it was facilitated.

For instance, it’s been long established that the Donald Trump campaign had multiple backchannels with WikiLeaks. Were those same people also playing this role for the RNC and WikiLeaks, or was it someone else? There are a whole lot of people who conspired against the United States and need to go to prison for this. Perhaps the biggest question is why Mueller and his team never pursued these criminal investigations.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies, Mike McIntire, Karen Yourish and Larry Buchanan, Nov. 2, 2019. We look inside the alternate reality of President Trump’s Twitter account, where he absorbs and amplifies a noxious stream of disinformation. To assess the first Twitter presidency, The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s interactions with the social media platform since he took office.

In September, an obscure Twitter account promoting a fringe belief about an anti-Trump cabal within the government tweeted out a hashtag: #FakeWhistleblower.

It was typical for the anonymous account, which traffics in far-right content and a conspiracy theory known as QAnon, some of whose adherents think that satanic pedophiles control the “deep state.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently labeled QAnon a potential domestic terror threat.

Still, that did not stop others, including a Republican congressional candidate, from quickly picking up the hashtag and tweeting it. Within a week, hundreds of QAnon believers and “MAGA” activists had joined in, posting memes and bogus reports to undermine the complaint by a government whistle-blower that President Trump had pressed Ukraine’s leader for dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

Then Mr. Trump tweeted the hashtag himself.

ny times logotwitter bird CustomNew York Times, How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan and Keith Collins, Nov. 2, 2019. The president’s tweeting transformed how he exerted power, leaving the White House and Twitter to grapple over whether, and how, to rein it in.

 

Nov. 1

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: On Impeachment Fight, Neither Side Seems Willing to Give an Inch, Carl Hulse, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). No Republicans and only two Democrats broke ranks, a sign that the inquiry is likely to remain a highly partisan affair. When the Republican-led House voted in 1998 to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Bill Clinton, 31 Democrats sided with Republicans, and the White House breathed a sigh of relief that the number was not significantly larger. In today’s hyper-polarized Washington, defections of that magnitude on the question of impeachment would be considered a tsunami.

Not a single House Republican on Thursday joined Democrats in supporting a resolution outlining the parameters for the next stage of impeachment proceedings, despite having demanded such a vote for weeks. Just two Democrats broke from their party to oppose the investigation. Left on the sidelines were Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, both known as consistent, conservative thorns in their party’s side.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP continues to tout unity on resolution vote, Griff Witte, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Is Trump’s base wavering over impeachment? The tale of one congressman’s defiance suggests not. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) dared to step out of line. The president’s supporters struck back fast.

Republican Facebook pages lit up with indignation that Rooney had failed to denounce the impeachment inquiry as “a witch hunt.” Party activists traded outraged texts. Some took their case directly to the congressman, protesting what they saw as an act of supreme disloyalty to a leader they say they have come to revere more than any in their lifetimes.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans convene the cult of Trump, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Republicans are defending President Trump, who believes windmills cause cancer, in impeachment proceedings literally sparked by his pursuit of a debunked conspiracy theory in Ukraine — and Democrats are the ones loyally following the conspiracy theories of their cult leader, who apparently is Rep. Adam Schiff?

Maybe this is how Republican lawmakers survive the strain of the Trump era. They represent family values but defend Trump through “Access Hollywood” and Stormy Daniels scandals. They represent military hawkishness but acquiesce to his Syria pullout and subservience to Moscow. They represent free markets and fiscal discipline but justify his trade wars and trillion-dollar deficit. They represent law and order but excuse his obstructions of justice.

Palmer Report, Opinion; Michael Flynn just totally blew it for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 1, 2019. Michael Flynn was this close to avoiding prison, when he and his new attorney decided to go into court and start pushing one deranged and obviously false conspiracy theory about the FBI after another. This propaganda so closely mirrors the vomit that’s coming out of the mouths of Donald Trump and his acolytes, it’s clear that Trump and Flynn are at least indirectly coordinating their efforts. The trouble is, Flynn just blew it for Trump – and for himself.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Flynn has convinced himself that the FBI somehow altered its original interview notes, and tricked Flynn into pleading guilty by making it appear that Flynn had lied. This shows you how far gone Flynn is, considering he was there, and he told the lies, and now he doesn’t think any of it happened.

Donald Trump and his goons have also been pushing this deranged notion that the FBI changed the 302 form in order to trick Flynn. In fact it appears to be one of the core tenets of the sham “criminal inquiry” that Bill Barr claims he’s running into the original Trump-Russia investigation.

Because Flynn went into court and made this ludicrous argument, federal prosecutors simply released the original notes in court today, which prove that the 302 form was not in any way altered. There goes the conspiracy theory. Also, this means Barr is chasing his tail on something that’ll go nowhere and leave egg on his face.

U.S. Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. lawyer Charles Cooper takes over Jeffrey Epstein-related libel suit against Dershowitz, Tom Jackman, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Washington attorney Charles Cooper, who has represented two attorneys general and is enmeshed in the congressional investigation of President Trump’s contacts with Ukraine, entered the libel case against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz Thursday after another high-powered attorney, David Boies, was disqualified.

Cooper will take over representation of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who allegedly was a sexual assault victim of Jeffrey Epstein as a teenager in Florida in the early 2000s. Beginning in 2014, Giuffre began publicly accusing Dershowitz of repeatedly abusing her while Dershowitz was in Epstein’s social orbit, before Epstein was first arrested in Florida. Dershowitz has aggressively denied Giuffre’s claims, calling her a “certified, complete, total liar,” and in April, Giuffre sued Dershowitz for defamation, with Boies and partner Sigrid McCawley as her lawyers.

Dershowitz and Boies met in 2015 to discuss Giuffre’s allegations, and Dershowitz claims that Boies agreed that Dershowitz was right. Boies strongly denies that. Once Boies filed the defamation suit, Dershowitz told a federal judge in New York that he would be calling Boies as a witness, and asked for Boies to be disqualified. U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska agreed and ordered Boies and his firm out of the case earlier this month after five years of representing Giuffre on various matters, including another, successful defamation suit against Epstein’s top assistant, Ghislaine Maxwell, who also called Giuffre a liar. Maxwell paid a confidential settlement to Giuffre, and Dershowitz is seeking to have the documents in that case unsealed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: The Trump brothers’ claims that they no longer profit from foreign deals, Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Did the Trump Organization stop doing business internationally after Trump was elected?

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said they would avoid international business during their father's presidency. The facts are not so straightforward. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

“When my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business.”

— Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in an interview on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” Oct. 15

“We’ve been international businesspeople for decades, but we can’t even do those kinds of deals anymore. We can’t even continue, and because we chose not to, because we didn’t think it was appropriate. So that’s the double standard. The media said, ‘Oh, you’re enriching yourselves.’ We’re like, ‘We literally stopped.’ ”

— Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in an interview on “Fox and Friends,” Oct. 30

The president’s sons say the Trump business empire no longer makes money from foreign deals.

It’s a false claim whether you take Eric Trump’s version (“we got out of all international business”) or Donald Trump Jr.'s formulation (“we literally stopped”).

 

October

Oct. 31

Trump Probes / Impeachment  djt handwave file

 

Trump Probe (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided House passes resolution on inquiry, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck​, ​Oct. 31, 2019. The resolution, passed on a near party-line vote, outlines the next steps in the investigation of President Trump, setting the stage for televised hearings and the release of witness testimony.

A divided House approved legislation Thursday formally authorizing and articulating guidelines for the next phase of its impeachment inquiry, a move that djt nancy pelosisignaled Democrats are on course to bring charges against President Trump later this year.

The 232-196 vote, which hewed closely to party lines, was likely to fuel the partisan fighting that has accompanied every stage of the impeachment probe U.S. House logoand much of the Trump presidency. Nearly all Democrats backed the resolution, and House Republicans, who spent weeks clamoring for such a vote, opposed it.

At issue is whether Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign leader to investigate his domestic political rivals.

In remarks before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the impeachment inquiry as a “solemn” and “prayerful” process — “not cause for any glee or comfort.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Rules of Impeachment, Editorial Board, Oct. 31, 2019. Democrats get serious about the next phase of inquiry. Since taking office in 2017, President Trump and his administration have sought to remove — and in some cases, destroy — many of the guardrails of precedent and tradition surrounding the conduct of the executive branch.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to erect a series of guardrails of its own, for the possible impeachment of the president. The resolution now before Congress avoids past missteps by allowing extended questioning of witnesses by staff lawyers before preening lawmakers take the stage, and it sets fair rules that respect precedent.

Such rules are needed because the stakes are so high and the charges against Mr. Trump so serious.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House official expected to confirm diplomat’s account that Trump appeared to seek quid pro quo, Carol D. Leonnig, John Hudson and Reis Thebault, Oct. 31, 2019. Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date for how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of tim morrison Customformer vice president Joe Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.

Morrison, right, is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with the Ukrainian president until Ukraine announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions

Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Update: House Prepares to Vote on Trump Impeachment Inquiry Rules, Staff report, Oct. 31, 2019. Lawmakers will vote Thursday on a resolution to guide the impeachment process as it heads into a more public phase. It will be the first time the full House has gone on the record on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Here’s what to watch.

The House on Thursday will take its first formal vote on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Lawmakers are expected to vote largely along party lines to adopt a resolution that will set rules for the next phase of the inquiry, including public hearings and the drafting of articles of impeachment against the president.

The vote is a striking turnabout for House Democrats. For weeks, they have resisted formal floor action, fearing that a vote could hurt the re-election prospects of members in Trump-friendly swing districts where voters want them to focus more on issues like jobs and the high price of prescription drugs than on a seemingly futile effort to oust the president.

But after a series of bombshell revelations about the president’s pressure campaign to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, Democrats are convinced the public is behind the inquiry, and are ready to call the bluff of Republicans who have been demanding a floor vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled the vote for Thursday morning.

Oct. 30

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file


Trump Probe Evidence

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 volatile White House meetings become central to investigation, Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. Witnesses’ testimony brought to light details of the July 10 gatherings, in which officials were confronted with a scheme they had previously only suspected: President Trump was seeking to use his office to pressure Ukraine to deliver dirt on the Bidens.

washington post logoWashington Post, Firsthand account of Ukraine call puts GOP in bind, emboldens Democrats, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 30, 2019 alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019(print ed.). After President Trump and his allies questioned a Purple Heart recipient’s patriotism, unnerved Republicans pushed back. Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, right.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarm, Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. John Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, restricted access to the document after Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman expressed concerns about the president’s statements on the call with the Ukrainian president, according to people familiar with Vindman's testimony to lawmakers.

The details of how the White House clamped down on information about the controversial call comes as the House impeachment inquiry turns its focus to the role of Eisenberg, who has served as deputy White House counsel since the start of Trump’s administration. House impeachment investigators on Wednesday evening announced they have asked Eisenberg and a fellow White House lawyer, Mike Ellis, to testify Monday.

Oct. 30

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Trump Probe Evidence

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 volatile White House meetings become central to investigation, Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. Witnesses’ testimony brought to light details of the July 10 gatherings, in which officials were confronted with a scheme they had previously only suspected: President Trump was seeking to use his office to pressure Ukraine to deliver dirt on the Bidens.

washington post logoWashington Post, Firsthand account of Ukraine call puts GOP in bind, emboldens Democrats, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 30, 2019 alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019(print ed.). After President Trump and his allies questioned a Purple Heart recipient’s patriotism, unnerved Republicans pushed back. Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Diplomats to outline Trump’s dark view of Ukraine in testimony, John Hudson and Elise Viebeck​, Oct. 30, 2019. The prepared remarks offer new insight into how a shadow foreign policy executed by people outside of government undermined the work of U.S. officials.

• Read Catherine Croft’s opening statement
• Read Christopher Anderson’s statement

bob livingston full portrait

ny times logoNew York Times, Former G.O.P. Lawmaker Pressed for Ambassador’s Ouster, Diplomat to Say, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Oct. 30, 2019. Robert Livingston, shown above, a congressman turned lobbyist, contacted a foreign service officer to criticize the ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the officer plans to testify. The officer, Catherine M. Croft, will say that she “documented” multiple calls from Mr. Livingston about Ms. Yovanovitch.

Robert Livingston, a former Republican congressman turned lobbyist, repeatedly told a foreign service officer assigned to the White House that the American ambassador to Ukraine should be fired because of her association with Democrats, the officer plans to tell impeachment investigators on Wednesday.

The officer, Catherine M. Croft, will testify that she “documented” multiple calls from Mr. Livingston about the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, while she was working at the National Security Council from mid-2017 to mid-2018. She plans to say she informed two other officials — Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the council, and George P. Kent, a Ukraine expert at the State Department — about them at the time.

“He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an ‘Obama holdover’ and associated with George Soros,” she will say, referring to the billionaire liberal philanthropist, according to a copy of Ms. Croft’s opening statement reviewed by The New York Times. “It was not clear to me at the time — or now — at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch.”

The testimony shifts forward by several months a timeline of known attacks on Ms. Yovanovitch by conservatives questioning, without evidence, her loyalty to President Trump. It is not clear if Mr. Livingston’s work, or those financing it, were in any way connected to efforts by two Americans with business interests in Ukraine who wanted her gone and, later, by Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Nor did Ms. Croft have anything to say about who else Mr. Livingston spoke with.

ny times logotom friedman twitterNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Zuckerberg & Pals Are Breaking America, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Oct. 30, 2019. Not in the Cold War, not during Vietnam, not during Watergate did I ever fear more for my country.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well, we’re in it now, Bill Palmer, Oct. 30, 2019. When Colonel Vindman testified on Tuesday that the publicly released “transcript” of Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call was doctored, he opened up a big can of hurt on what little is left of Trump’s presidency. But the Colonel did something more than that: he just exposed that a huge number of Trump’s top people were conspiring with him in the scandal – and that a lot of them are going to prison.

bill palmer report logo headerVindman testified that he listened in on Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call, and took notes of his own. When the official phone call summary reached Vindman’s desk, he found that some of Trump’s most incriminating words had been omitted. When Vindman then tried to add those words back in, his efforts were rebuffed.

This means that people higher up the chain than Colonel Vindman were conspiring to hide the evidence of Donald Trump’s crimes. Vindman’s boss at the National Security Council was John Bolton, but Bolton has gone out of his way to document that he wasn’t in on the Ukraine scandal or coverup. So who was doctoring the transcript to begin with. Not only was a high-ranking White House official running point on this coverup, a number of other White House people had to have been in on the coverup for it to have gotten as far as it did. Those people are all going to prison when this is over. Not only does this scandal keep getting worse, the coverup keeps getting much, much worse.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why Trump insisted that the obviously incomplete rough transcript was, in fact, ‘exact,’ Philip Bump, Oct. 30, 2019. It's possible that President Trump set the trap for himself. The reporters could listen to Trump or they could read the bottom of the front page of the transcript itself, which states that it is “not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.”

But Trump insisted that the world instead listen to him. The document was “an exact transcript of my call, done by very talented people that do this,” he said later on the same day. It was “an exact transcript,” he claimed on Oct. 11.

So why did Trump make his assertion in the first place?

The most immediate and obvious explanation is that Trump operates only in absolutes. The transcript had to be perfect and compiled by the best stenographers because everything Trump does is the best and most perfect, until it isn't. Trump's default mode is that everything associated with him is flawless, up to and including transcripts that self-identify as potentially flawed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The air is getting very thin up there, Isabel Stamm, Oct. 30, 2019. The air is getting very thin up on the hill that Trump’s supporters have obviously chosen to die on. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Monday that the House is going to have a vote on the impeachment inquiry on Thursday that will result in the public hearings Republicans have been demanding so vehemently that they felt the need to storm the SCIF in which witnesses were being deposed behind closed doors. Pelosi’s move is effectively going to cut off the oxygen to the argument Donald Trump’s stooges have been making that the inquiry constitutes a secretive and entirely partisan effort to remove the president and thereby illegitimately annul the will of the people.

bill palmer report logo headerNevertheless, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthykevin mccarthy, right, did not shy away from stepping in front of the cameras on Tuesday morning to make yet another process argument against the investigation that has been well underway for quite some time now and that has already brought to light a mountain of truly damning evidence against Donald Trump. The spin he tried to put on the situation in his very word-salady statement was that the impending vote was an admission on Speaker Pelosi’s parts that the Democrats had been engaging in “sham” proceedings and were now trying to retroactively right this wrong.

According to McCarthy, this was not going to work: “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he judged sternly. Then he went on to talk about due process in a somewhat garbled way and – for good measure – threw in the ominous sounding term “fruit from the poisonous tree”, all which probably sounds like impressive legalese if you’re a low information Trump supporter. Finally, the Minority Leader declared the Democrats’ impeachment efforts a mistrial and essentially demanded that the process should end right then and there.

Oct. 29

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, White House official feared Trump’s Ukraine demands would undermine national security, Greg Jaffe, Oct. 29, 2019. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,” Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who is testifying before House impeachment investigators, says in a draft of his opening statement.

An Army officer assigned to the White House plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he was disturbed by President Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate one of his political rivals and feared it would undermine U.S. national security.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was part of a small group of White House officials assigned to listen in on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His testimony returns repeatedly to his fears that Trump’s manipulation of Ukraine policy to discredit his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, is unethical and damaging to U.S. national security.

[Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman]

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman intends to tell lawmakers, according to a draft of his opening statement.

  • washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why Vindman’s testimony is big, Aaron Blake​, Oct. 29, 2019. The Army officer might be the most significant official to testify to date, given his profile and his proximity to some of the key events.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The fundamentally un-American attacks on Alexander Vindman, Philip Bump​, Oct. 29, 2019. Vindman is the kind of immigrant Trump claims to like — until he puts country over president. 

A documentary crew working for Ken Burns was exploring New York in the early 1980s, working on a feature about the Statue of Liberty as part of Burns’s “America” series. Sitting on a bench near Brighton Beach, they found an elderly woman sitting with two twin boys, then about 10 years old.

American FlagThey'd come from Russia, from Kyiv, the twins told the camera, their explanations overlapping. “Our mother died, so we went to Italy,” one added, “and then we came here."

Both of those twins, Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, ended up working for the White House under President Trump. Both Vindmans served in the U.S. Army, and both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Each now works for the National Security Council.

Theirs is, in the abstract, the quintessential American story. Migrants who arrived from the former Soviet Union at age 3 who’ve since dedicated their lives to serving their new country. The Vindmans’ experience is a manifestation of the poem at the base of the statue: They are part of the impoverished, huddled masses seeking the chance to breathe free. They did so, deeply.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Unveil Proposed Rules for Impeachment Proceedings, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 29, 2019. House Democrats proposed open hearings and a report to share the findings of their inquiry for the first time. A vote is scheduled for Thursday. The report would be shared with the Judiciary Committee, which would weigh the evidence and produce articles of impeachment to send to the full House.

House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled new rules for going public with their impeachment inquiry, directing the Intelligence Committee to convene open hearings and produce a written report to share the findings of its investigation into President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Under the proposed rules, which the House plans to bring up for a vote on Thursday, the report, along with transcripts of witness interviews being conducted behind closed doors and additional evidence collected by the Intelligence Committee, would promptly be shared with the Judiciary Committee, which would weigh the evidence and produce articles of impeachment to send to the full House.

The draft resolution allows for new due process rights for President Trump and maps out exactly how Democrats plan to take public the confidential fact-finding process they launched late last month.

“The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election,” four House committee leaders involved in the inquiry wrote in a statement. “Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct.”

The statement was signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the acting chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Army Colonel Alexander Vindman, American Hero, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When the news broke last night that U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was planning to testify today that he personally witnessed Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, Vindman was so thoroughly not a public figure, the best photo anyone could find of him was the one that the New York Times tracked down on a U.S. Embassy Twitter feed. But now Vindman is suddenly about to become a household name, and he’ll take his place in the history books. So who is he?

bill palmer report logo headerAlexander Vindman served as an infantry officer in the Iraq War, where he was wounded by a roadside bomb, earning him a Purple Heart. Donald Trump will have one heck of a time trying to smear this guy. Vindman is also a Ukrainian immigrant, meaning he couldn’t be a more fitting person to take Trump down for having tried to sabotage the government of Ukraine.

Vindman is an American hero, and not just because he got blown up by a roadside bomb while fighting in a war on behalf of the rest of us, and then stayed in the military after he recovered. Vindman is also an American hero because he’s coming forward as an active duty military officer, and he’s defying a direct (illegal) order from his Commander-in-Chief in the process.

Your grandkids will be reading about Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman someday. His testimony today is going to end up being that crucial to not only Donald Trump’s downfall, but to restoring American democracy as we know it.

Roll Call, Trump launches preemptive strike on NSC staffer’s deposition, impeachment ground rules resolution coming, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Trump responded to reports of Vindman’s leaked testimony on Tuesday by claiming he does not even know who Vindman is, a common tactic the president deploys to deflect unwanted accusations against himself.

Palmer Report, Gordon Sondland is completely screwed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced to the media over the weekend that he gordon sondland obelieved Donald Trump had indeed engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, it was clear that something was up. Suddenly he was trying to ingratiate himself to House Democrats by leaking something that helped make their case against Trump, after they had publicly accused him of committing perjury. Why was Sondland, right, so worried?

Now we have our answer. Army Colonel Alexander Vindman is going to testify on Tuesday morning that from the very start of the Ukraine scandal, Gordon Sondland told him it was a quid pro quo. Vindman is also going to testify that he witnessed the interactions that the likes of John Bolton and Fiona Hill had with Sondland regarding the quid pro quo.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only does this corroborate the testimony given by Hill, Bill Taylor, and others, it also paints Sondland as having been Trump’s quid pro quo ringleader in the White House. It means that Sondland’s ‘I don’t recall’ defense isn’t going to fly. It’s one thing to claim you don’t remember what someone told you during a conversation. It’s another thing to claim that you don’t remember having been the ringleader of the whole thing.

Numerous legal experts have pointed out on Twitter that Colonel Vindman’s testimony has exposed Gordon Sondland to significant legal liability. Whether or not Sondland was going to be charged with a crime for his role in the Ukraine scandal, he’ll now definitely be referred for felony perjury. Even if Sondland isn’t prosecuted until Trump is gone, it’ll still happen eventually. Sondland is now completely screwed. His only remaining option is to fully fess up to the House impeachment inquiry and then beg for mercy. Otherwise Sondland will go to prison right around the time Trump is going to prison.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Travels with William 'Opus Dei' Barr, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2019. On the American taxpayers' dime, Attorney General William Barr has recently been clocking more air miles than Donald Trump's largely grounded personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.

Barr is traveling the world to gather information from other nations' law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to discredit the Justice Department's past probe of the foreign connections of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. What is even more worrisome than Barr's witch hunt is his use of the right-wing network of the Roman Catholic fascist order Opus Dei to dig up dirt on his two predecessors as Attorney General -- Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions -- and several former FBI, CIA, and Justice Department officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal judge kicks the door open for House impeachment testimony, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. Over the weekend, John Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman asked the courts to rule on whether he should comply with the House impeachment inquiry subpoena to testify, or whether he should comply with the Trump White House’s order not to richard j. leon testify. There’s no question how this ruling will go, as Trump has zero legal standing. It was just a matter of whether the fight would get dragged out so long, it wouldn’t end up mattering.

bill palmer report logo headerAs it turns out, Judge Richard Leon, right, has decided that this process is not going to take very long. He’s holding a hearing this Thursday, citing the “time-sensitive” nature of the case, according to CNN. This will be a near-automatic ruling the House’s favor. More importantly, because Kupperman is the one who took this to court and not Trump, it means Trump will essentially have no basis for getting an appeals court to listen to him.

Oct. 28

U.S. Raid On Purported ISIS Leader

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Donald Trump flanked by Michael Pence, left, and Michael Esper and other aides announces what Trump called the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shown below at left, and three of his children in a U.S. special forces raid in Turk-enabled rebel territory in Syria. They died "like dogs" Trump boasted.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Islamic State leader Baghdadi blew himself up as U.S. troops closed in, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe​, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.).​ The president, speaking Sunday morning at the White House, said the militant leader spent his last moments “whimpering and crying and screaming” in a dead-end tunnel. He killed himself and three of his children.

abu bakr al baghdadi olderPresident Trump on Sunday announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive Islamic State leader, died during an American military operation in Syria, a major breakthrough more than five years after the militant launched the group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

"Last night the United States brought the world’s Number One terrorist leader to justice," Trump said in a televised announcement form the White House. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”

The president described what he called a "dangerous and daring" nighttime operation by U.S. Special Operations forces in northwest Syria, involving a series of firefights and culminating in what he said was a retreat by Baghdadi into a tunnel. There Baghdadi, who Trump said was “whimpering and crying and screaming,” detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and three young children he brought with him.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump revels in the killing of the sixth Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 28, 2019. After tweeting the message in the late evening of wayne madesen report logoOctober 26 that "something very big has just happened," Donald Trump made an announcement at a White House press conference on the morning of October 27 and claimed that U.S. Delta Force special forces had located and killed Islamic State self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump's statement was rife with machismo comments, such as claiming al-Baghdadi being chased into a tunnel where "he died like a dog."

Other U.S. News Headlines:

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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Politico, House to vote on resolution establishing next steps in impeachment inquiry, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle, Oct. 28, 2019. The resolution will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry a month ago.

U.S. House logoThe House will vote this week on a resolution to formalize the next steps of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The resolution — which “establishes the procedure for hearings,” according to a statement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry a month ago.

"We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives," Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats obtained by Politico.

 washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Like a horror movie’: Republicans anxious and adrift defending Trump, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Oct. 28, 2019. Republican senators are lost and adrift as the impeachment inquiry enters its second month, navigating the grave threat to President Trump largely in the dark, frustrated by the absence of a credible case to defend his conduct and anxious about the historic reckoning that likely awaits them.

republican elephant logoRecent days have delivered the most damaging testimony yet about Trump and his advisers commandeering Ukraine policy for the president’s personal political goals, which his allies on Capitol Hill sought to undermine by storming the deposition room and condemning the inquiry as secretive and corrupt.

• Bolton’s former deputy fails to show for deposition as he seeks court ruling to resolve dispute over testifying
• Trump praises Giuliani for ‘looking for corruption’
• Live Updates: Sondland goes to Capitol Hill to review transcript of his Oct. 17 testimony

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Johnson, ally of Trump and Ukraine, surfaces in crucial episodes in the saga, Elise Viebeck and Dalton Bennett​, Oct. 28, 2019. Sen. Ron Johnson met in ron johnson o CustomJuly with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has circulated unproven claims that Ukrainian officials assisted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, a previously unreported contact that underscores the GOP senator’s involvement in the unfolding narrative that triggered the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

In an interview this past week, Andrii Telizhenko said he met with Johnson (Wis.), right, for at least 30 minutes on Capitol Hill and with Senate staff for five additional hours. He said discussions focused in part on “the DNC issue” — a reference to his unsubstantiated claim that the Democratic National Committee worked with the republican elephant logoUkrainian government in 2016 to gather incriminating information about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Telizhenko said he could not recall the date of the meeting, but a review of his Facebook page revealed a photo of him and Johnson posted on July 11.

“I was in Washington, and Sen. Johnson found out I was in D.C., and staff called me and wanted to do a meeting with me. So I reached out back and said, ‘Sure, I’ll come down the Hill and talk to you,’ ” Telizhenko told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

New York Times, Democrats to Skip Court Fights Over Impeachment Witnesses, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 28, 2019. House Democrats will forgo using the federal courts to try to compel testimony from recalcitrant witnesses in their impeachment inquiry, a top Democratic chairman said Monday, warning that lawmakers would instead use the lack of cooperation to bolster their case that President Trump has abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.

adam schiff squareRepresentative Adam B. Schiff, right, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed the shift in strategy after Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, defied a House subpoena for testimony that had been scheduled for Monday morning.

The White House on Friday said that Mr. Kupperman was absolutely immune from testifying and directed him not to appear in defiance of a subpoena. That prompted the former official to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats asking a federal judge whether he could testify, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle over weighty questions about the separation of powers that could effectively stall the impeachment inquiry for months.

“We are not willing to let the White House engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead,” Mr. Schiff told reporters outside his secure hearing rooms.

dnc horizontal logoIn earlier oversight disputes, House Democrats have turned to the courts with some frequency, but those lawsuits have already eaten up valuable months of time without signs of resolution any time soon. Mr. Schiff indicated Democrats now did not have the luxury of waiting, given the gravity of the allegations that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a help from Ukraine in smearing his political opponents.

“If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify, Mr. Schiff said. “They plainly don’t.”

Mr. Schiff acknowledged that the White House would likely try to invoke similar privilege to try to block other high-level witnesses, including John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser said to be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Doing so would only fuel another article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress’s fact-finding, he said.

Media News

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Sorry, Morning Joe Scarborough and Mika, you’re dead wrong, Bill Palmer, Oct. 28, 2019. MSNBC hosts Morning Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (shown in a screenshot) have never been our cup of tea, but they’ve generally tried to speak out against Donald Trump for his scandals and crimes, which we appreciate. That said, this morning the duo reminded us of why they don’t really belong on television when they (Joe in particular) asserted that the World Series crowd was wrong last night for chanting “Lock him up” at Donald Trump when he showed up at the game.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing. This isn’t about decorum or politeness. Baseball fans weren’t chanting “Lock him up” last night because they think Donald Trump is a bad president, or because they don’t like him, or because they would have preferred someone else. They chanted it because Trump is a career criminal who has used the presidency to commit crimes.

There’s a grand jury in New York that’s in the process of criminally indicting Donald Trump on state charges. It’s the same grand jury that just won an appeals court ruling over Trump’s tax returns. That’s in addition to the eleven federal counts of obstruction of justice that Trump faces when he gets out of office, along with whatever criminal charges arise for Trump in his Ukraine scandal. Adam Schiff just pointed out this morning that Trump is committing even more acts of obstruction of justice as we speak.

Donald Trump is going to prison, and he deserves to go to prison. Not because he’s a bad president, or because he sucks at his job. He’s going to prison because that’s where criminals belong. In fact the only reason Trump isn’t already behind bars is that he’s illegally hiding behind the office to keep himself from being indicted (for now).

More On U.S. Raid On ISIS Leader

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Knew of Plans for the Raid When He Pulled Troops From Syria, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s abrupt troop withdrawal complicated the Pentagon’s plans, forcing it to accelerate the risky operation, military officials said. President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency abu bakr al baghdadi 2004 mugshotand Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader (shown in a 2004 mugshot), when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the operation that left Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead, Dan Lamothe and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The “dangerous and daring” raid targeting Islamic State leader Baghdadi started with a tip and ended in a tunnel. As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the Islamic State.

Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in the early Sunday morning darkness.

Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist associates, and the United States had been watching him for days.

And it was a tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant that set the operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Three big questions after Baghdadi’s death, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 28, 2019. Attention shifts to where the Islamic State goes from here and how the raid may impact President Trump's plans in Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In creating spectacle around Baghdadi’s death, Trump departs from Obama’s more measured tone on bin Laden, David Nakamura, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s 50-minute announcement was marked by a now-customary mix of bravado, misleading boasts and taunts.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump revels in the killing of the sixth Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 28, 2019. After tweeting the message in the late evening of October 26 that "something very big has just happened," Donald Trump made an announcement at a White House press conference on the morning of October 27 and claimed that U.S. Delta Force special forces had located and killed Islamic State self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump's statement was rife with machismo comments, such as claiming al-Baghdadi being chased into a tunnel where "he died like a dog."

washington post logonancy pelosi twitterWashington Post, Pelosi says Trump notified Russians of Baghdadi raid before telling congressional leaders, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called on the White House to brief lawmakers on the raid that targeted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, noting that President Trump had informed the Russians of the military operation before telling congressional leadership.

 The statement from Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, came after Trump told reporters at a lengthy news conference that he did not inform the House speaker of the raid because he “wanted to make sure this kept secret.”

U.S. presidents typically follow the protocol of contacting congressional leaders, regardless of their political party, when a high-level military operation is conducted.

“The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region,” Pelosi said. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington.”

The Gray Zone, Commentary: Trump gives $4.5 million to the White Helmets, which partnered with jihadists and joined Turkey’s ethnic cleansing, Ben Norton, Oct. 28, 2019. While touting his efforts to end US involvement in Syria, Trump approved $4.5 million more for the White Helmets, known popularly as the White Helmets. This group has been at the heart of the regime change war on the country, partnering with jihadists and joining Turkey’s brutal invasion.

syrian white helmetsWith close to $100 million in funds from the US and UK governments, as well as donations from Qatar, support from Turkey and backing from wealthy private donors, this outfit has acted as a public relations vehicle for the Syrian armed opposition.

White Helmets links to extremist Salafi-jihadist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, have been thoroughly documented. What’s more, the group has participated in recent Turkish onslaughts in northern Syria, where Kurds and other minority groups faced ethnic cleansing.

The continued US funding is a sign that Washington’s regime-change war against Syria continues, even while Trump has partially withdrawn American troops from the country. The White House announced the funding in a press release on October 22.

Oct. 27

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elijah Cummings: We are in a fight for the soul of our democracy, Elijah E. Cummings (right, a Democrat, represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District elijah cummings ountil his death Oct. 17), Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). As I pen these words, we are living through a time in our nation’s history when powerful forces are seeking to divide us one from another; when the legitimacy of our constitutional institutions is under attack; and when factually supported truth itself has come under relentless challenge.

I am among those who have not lost confidence in our ability to right the ship of American democratic life, but I also realize that we are in a fight — a fight for the soul of our democracy.

This op-ed is adapted from a foreword that Cummings wrote July 17 for the forthcoming book, “In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic,” by Cedric L. Alexander.

washington post logoWashington Post, Diplomat says efforts to back ousted envoy were rejected, Karoun Demirjian and Carol Morello​, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.).. Philip Reeker, right, was among the State philip reekerDepartment officials who were alarmed by a campaign of falsehoods that undermined Marie Yovanovitch, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Philip Reeker, the diplomat in charge of U.S. policy for Europe, told House investigators that the State Department leaders rejected his entreaties to publicly support the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was the target of a smear campaign.

He arrived at the Capitol shortly after 10:30 a.m., accompanied by his personal lawyer. According to an official working on the impeachment inquirer, Reeker gave his deposition under subpoena to get around an effort by the State Department to block him from appearing. Foreign Service officers are required to answer subpoenas issued by Congress.

Reeker, who heads the team of diplomats specializing in European affairs, is the latest Trump administration official scheduled to appear behind closed doors despite a White House edict that no government employees cooperate. Based on previously released accounts, he can be expected to provide a limited but critical piece of the backstory involving an informal endeavor to prod Ukrainian officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump frustrated amid failed efforts to stymie impeachment probe, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). After weeks of dismissing the inquiry, President Trump and his closest advisers now recognize that the snowballing probe poses a serious threat to the president — and that they have little power to block it, according to multiple aides and advisers.

Analysis: What you missed this week in the impeachment inquiry

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s brother caught in the act, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2019. This weekend Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law (shown below in a 2017 Facebook  photo) spent their anniversary at Camp David, a government property that’s supposed to be a retreat for the President of the United States, not a free hotel for his family. This kind of grifting and jared ivanka kushner may 20 2017 9 day djt trip facebooknepotism has defined the Trump regime, and now it turns out another member of Donald Trump’s family has come front and center in that corruption.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Donald Trump administration awarded a $33 million dollar government contract to a company tied to Robert Trump, who just happens to be the kid brother of Donald Trump. It’s not just passive nepotism either, as the Washington Post says that the other vendors who were competing for the government contract are alleging that the bidding process was indeed corruptly in favor of Trump’s brother.

This comes even as Donald Trump continues to promote a fake story about Joe Biden having used his position as vice president to steer financial opportunities to his son Hunter Biden. The entire scandal has been manufactured, and its fake origins are one of the things that Trump is being impeached for. At the same time Trump is promoting this fake nepotism scandal about his potential 2020 opponent, he’s continuing to carry out very real nepotism schemes of his own.

washington post logoWashington Post, John Kelly says he warned Trump he’d be impeached if he hired a ‘yes man’ as chief of staff to replace him, Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). John Kelly, former chief of staff to President Trump, said Saturday he warned the president before he left the White House not to replace him with a “yes man” because it would lead to Trump’s impeachment.

John KellyKelly, right, also said he believed he could have prevented the current impeachment inquiry against Trump if he had stayed in the job. He said the inquiry could have been avoided if the president had surrounded himself with people who could rein in his worst instincts.

His candid remarks, made during an interview at a political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner, suggests he blames acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others in the West Wing for not doing more to stop Trump’s behavior.

“Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,” Kelly told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York. “Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea, Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: They’re even worse at this than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2019. When Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed NBC News, he didn’t just humiliate himself in hilarious fashion. He also revealed that, despite being on the take from multiple foreign countries, he doesn’t have the cash to fund his next con game. With all the money this guy has been grifting, he’s still broke.

bill palmer report logo headerThis came even as the news broke yesterday that Donald Trump is looking at selling off the lease for his Washington DC hotel, which is one of the very few profitable properties he has left. Trump has been making money from emoluments scandals, international grifts, and every other way he can think of to corruptly exploit the presidency for personal financial gain – and yet his real estate “empire” is still in such shambles, he’s left having to sell one of his few sellable properties in order to service the debt he owes on the others.

Trump is the same guy, after all, who filed for corporate bankruptcy six times so he could walk away from his various failed real estate endeavors. But even his abuse of corporate bankruptcy laws didn’t save him from ultimately having to turn to foreign banks for bailouts, which ultimately left him owned and controlled by foreign governments.

As the ugly details of their financial con games continue to surface, it’s not a surprise that Donald Trump and his goons have been willing to go to any corrupt and treasonous lengths to get their hands on a buck. What is remarkable is that they’re so bad at it. No matter how much money they illegally or unethically get their hands on, it’s never enough to pay their bills. They’re not just evil grifters; they’re incompetent grifters.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Who Is Bill Barr? Emily Bazelon, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). William Barr (shown above with Donald Trump at the White House) had returned to private life after his first stint as attorney general when he sat down to write an article for The Catholic Lawyer. It was 1995, and Mr. Barr saw an urgent threat to religion generally and to Catholicism, his faith, specifically. The danger came from the rise of “moral relativism,” in Mr. Barr’s view. “There are no objective standards of right and wrong,” he wrote. “Everyone writes their own rule book.”

And so, at first, it seemed surprising that Mr. Barr, now 69, would return after 26 years to the job of attorney general, to serve Donald Trump, the moral relativist in chief, who writes and rewrites the rule book at whim.

But a close reading of his speeches and writings shows that, for decades, he has taken a maximalist, Trumpian view of presidential power that critics have called the “imperial executive.” He was a match, all along, for a president under siege. “He alone is the executive branch,” Mr. Barr wrote of whoever occupies the Oval Office, in a memo to the Justice Department in 2018, before he returned.

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Media Matters, Investigation: How conservative writer John Solomon served as the conduit for Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine conspiracy theories, Julie Millcan with research by Julie Turlbert, updated Oct. 27, 2019 from Oct. 17. Update: Frequent Fox guests Joseph diGenova, above center, and Victoria Toensing are lawyers for Fox contributor John Solomon, left.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump lies a disinformation campaign led by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani that was aided and abetted by conservative writer John Solomon. Through Solomon, Giuliani injected his disinformation campaign straight into the heart of conservative media -- Fox News -- with seemingly full fox news logo Smallknowledge of at least some at Fox. And eventually, Solomon landed a job at the network.

It is now known that Trump blessed Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine, in which he sought information that would undermine the intelligence community's findings that Russia interfered in our 2016 election to benefit Trump. Giuliani was also trying to dig up dirt to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, a front-runner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.

Much attention has focused on Giuliani’s actions and the shady cast of characters he worked with, but less has been paid to the right-wing media figures who colluded with the president’s lawyer to make his smear campaign public -- a plan that came dangerously close to succeeding.

What follows is a case study in how right-wing media work hand in hand with Trump cronies to smear his enemies, undermine democracy, and defend the president at all costs.

Here’s how it went down.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Thanks, Whistle-Blower, Your Work Is Done, Editorial Board, Oct. 27, 2019. Virtually every assertion he made has been corroborated on the record by the administration or other officials and witnesses.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP focuses on whistleblower, conspiracy claims, loyalty to Trump, Greg Miller and Rachael Bade, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The GOP line of questioning in closed-door hearings comes as President Trump continues to lash out publicly against the whistleblower in ways that seem designed to goad Republican allies into naming the person.

CIA LogoRepublican lawmakers have used the congressional impeachment inquiry to gather information on a CIA employee who filed a whistleblower complaint, press witnesses on their loyalty to President Trump and advance conspiratorial claims that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election, according to current and former officials involved in the proceedings.

GOP members and staffers have repeatedly raised the name of a person suspected of filing the whistleblower complaint that exposed Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations into his political adversaries, officials said.

republican elephant logoThe Republicans have refrained during hearings from explicitly accusing the individual of filing the explosive complaint with the U.S. intelligence community’s inspector general two months ago, officials said.

But the questions have been interpreted as an attempt “to unmask the whistleblower,” whose identity is shielded under federal law, said several officials with direct knowledge of the depositions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We represent the whistleblower. Their identity is no longer relevant, Andrew P. Bakaj and Mark S. Zaid, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The public now knows more about the call with Ukraine than what was in the complaint.

Our client’s whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s efforts to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 U.S. election was publicly released a month ago, and since then, speculation about the whistleblower’s identity has only increased. As each allegation in the complaint is substantiated by new witnesses, the president and his supporters remain fanatically devoted to bringing our client into the spotlight. But the reality is that the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.

In August, our client lawfully filed a detailed complaint that prompted the intelligence community inspector general to conduct a preliminary investigation. That inquiry, which involved multiple witnesses — all of whom are also lawfully protected as whistleblowers — led to a finding that the complaint was both “urgent” and “credible” and was legally required to be transmitted to Congress.

Over the past month, we have all learned more facts — from the White House’s summarized transcript of the July call with Ukraine’s president, from text messages provided to the House of Representatives by the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine, and from congressional testimony by people intimately involved with the circumstances the whistleblower first raised concern about. Much of what has been disclosed since the release of our client’s complaint actually exceeds the whistleblower’s knowledge of what transpired at the time the complaint was submitted. Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.

Now Republican leaders in Congress are also focusing their attention on attacking the messenger and demanding public testimony from the whistleblower. This is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. For the record, we have notified both the House and Senate intelligence committees in a bipartisan manner that the whistleblower is willing to respond to any questions in writing and under oath. 

The Young Turks via YouTube, Commentary: Crowd Chants "Lock Him Up" To Trump At World Series, Rick Strom, Oct. 27, 2019 (4:18 min. video). Trump was greeted with boos at the World Series. Rick Strom breaks it down. Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

U.S. Headline News

 

Oct. 26

Inside DC

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washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon awards controversial cloud computing deal to Microsoft, spurning Amazon, Aaron Gregg and Jay Greene​, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one of his longtime rivals.

amazon logo smallThe announcement comes after an intense lobbying effort and a lawsuit filed by some of America’s biggest tech companies, who accused the military of favoring Amazon in a process that has dragged on for more than a year. During that time, Trump and other administration officials also made it clear that they did not want the contract to go to Amazon. Federal acquisition laws forbid politicians, including the president, from influencing contract awards.

The award is so large that it could tip the lucrative cloud computing business away from Amazon, which has long been the industry leader, in Microsoft’s favor. Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due to its years of experience handling classified data for the CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era, Heather Long and Jeff Stein, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit to expand this much during relatively good economic times.

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, Judge Rules, Giving Democrats a Victory, Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). A federal judge handed a victory to House Democrats on Friday when she ruled that they were legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a decision that undercut President Trump’s arguments that the investigation is a sham.

beryl howellThe declaration came in a 75-page opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, right, of the Federal District Court in Washington. She ruled that the House Judiciary Committee was entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Typically, Congress has no right to view such evidence. But in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. The House is now immersed in the same process focused on Mr. Trump, Judge Howell ruled, and that easily outweighs any need to keep the information secret from lawmakers.

And in a rebuke to the Trump administration, she wrote that the White House strategy to stonewall the House had actually strengthened lawmakers’ case. She cited Mr. Trump’s vow to fight “all” congressional subpoenas and an extraordinary directive by his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, that executive branch officials should not pat cipollone file croppedprovide testimony or documents to impeachment investigators.

“The White House’s stated policy of noncooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure,” Judge Howell wrote. “Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a president is heightened when the executive branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence.”

The administration is likely to appeal the ruling; the Justice Department was reviewing it, a spokeswoman said. It came on a day when House investigators unleashed another round of subpoenas. They demanded that the acting chief of the White House budget office and two other administration officials testify next month in their inquiry into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit him politically.

Democrats praised Judge Howell’s decision.

In arguing that the impeachment inquiry is a sham, Republicans have noted that the full House has not voted for a resolution to authorize one, as it did in 1974 and 1998 at the start of impeachment proceedings targeting Nixon and President Bill Clinton. Democrats have countered that no resolution is required under the Constitution or House rules and pointed out that impeachment efforts to remove other officials, like judges, started without such a vote.

Judge Howell agreed with the Democrats, calling the Republican arguments “cherry-picked and incomplete” and lacking support from the Constitution, House rules or court precedents.

Related article: Washington Post, House Judiciary Committee can see redacted materials from Mueller grand jury, judge says, Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 25, 2019. The judge also dismissed arguments that a vote would be needed to start an impeachment inquiry.

U.S. War In Syria

SouthFront, Newly-Deployed U.S. Troops Are Now In Northern Hasakah, Not Oil Fields Area: SANA, Staff report, Oct. 26, 2019. Fresh U.S. troops, which entered Syria in the morning of Oct. 26, have settled in a base in the northern al-Hasakah countryside, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

The state-run agency reported that U.S. troops are now stationed inside the Qasrak base on the Tell Tamr-Qamishli highway. “U.S. occupation forces’ convoy -consists of 13 military vehicles and dozens of soldier-, which entered Syria today, have settled in Qasrak illegal base on Tell Tamr-Qamishli road,” the SANA’s reporter in al-Hasakah said. Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the convoy headed towards key oil fields in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor. This was not apparently accurate.

Trump #MeToo

Palmer Report, Opinion: One of Donald Trump’s sexual assault victims makes her move, Robert Harrington, Oct. 26, 2019.  It turns out that Season Five Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos has launched a defamation lawsuit against Trump, who claimed he never even met her, let alone sexually assaulted her. The bad news is Trump has a pretty good case.

bill palmer report logo headerThe good news is Zervos (shown in a file photo at right) has a better one, one so good it knocks Trump’s case into a cocked hat. Zervos’ case comes complete summer zervoswith contemporaneous emails, phone records, copies of the calendar entries and itineraries from the Trump organization itself supporting Ms Zervos account – an account placing Trump exactly where she says he was when he assaulted her, an account detailed “with striking accuracy,” according to her attorney, Mariann Wang.

According to court papers filed Thursday, the Trump Organization is attempting to have nine pages of documents thrown out by designating them as “confidential” because they contain Trump’s cellphone number. Zervos’ lawyers responded that it was “absurd” because Trump had already publicized his cellphone to millions of Twitter followers during the 2016 campaign, and he no longer even uses that particular number anyway.

Lawyers for Zervos also say they have evidence of even “greater granularity,” which will be revealed at the start of the trial in March of 2020, just in time for the run up to the 2020 election. “Plaintiff reported Defendant’s assaults to family members and close friends immediately after they occurred and then again over the years,” according to a memorandum. “She confronted Defendant about his inappropriate behavior, both in a phone call shortly after the assaults and in an email sent through his secretary Rhona Graff in April 2016. Plaintiff also considered taking more formal legal action with respect to Defendant many years ago and in fact reached out to multiple lawyers back in 2011, including to Gloria Allred, whose records reflect that contact.”


Oct. 25

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, A lawsuit raises doubts on whether Mr. Trump’s closest aides will be allowed to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 25, 2019. A key witness in the impeachment investigation filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, a move that raises new doubts about whether President john bolton full cropped CustomTrump’s closest aides, like the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, right, will be able to cooperate with the inquiry.

House Democrats had subpoenaed the witness, Charles M. Kupperman, who served as Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, to testify on Monday. But in an effort to stop Mr. Kupperman from doing so, the White House said on Friday that the president had invoked “constitutional immunity,” leaving Mr. Kupperman uncertain about what to do.

“Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail,” the suit said.

U.S. House logoThe implications of the suit, filed in federal court in Washington, extend beyond Mr. Kupperman. His lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents Mr. Bolton and is likely to address congressional requests for his testimony in a similar fashion. House Democrats have had discussions with Mr. Cooper in recent days about Mr. Bolton testifying but have not subpoenaed him.

Democrats believe that Mr. Kupperman and Mr. Bolton could be significant witnesses for their investigation. Unlike several of the administration officials who have already testified, they were both close advisers of Mr. Trump, dealt directly with him on Ukraine policy and could testify about what Mr. Trump said behind closed doors.

Mr. Trump and the White House have attacked many of the career State Department officials who have appeared before investigators on Capitol Hill, calling them “unelected bureaucrats.” But Mr. Kupperman and Mr. Bolton, longtime Republicans, worked directly for Mr. Trump. Mr. Bolton, in particular, is seen as potentially having greater sway with Republicans and independents because of his hawkish views, which he conveyed regularly on Fox News before joining the administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Drawing Attention to Hunter Biden’s Work in Romania, Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 25, 2019. But There’s a Problem, Hunter Biden worked to help a Romanian executive facing corruption charges. But so did the former New York mayor — and a former F.B.I. director. Hunter Biden worked to help a Romanian executive facing corruption charges. But so did the former New York mayor — and a former F.B.I. director.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, signaled this month that he planned to open a new front in his attacks against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — work done by Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden for a wealthy Romanian business executive facing corruption charges.

But there’s a problem with that strategy: Mr. Giuliani participated in an effort that would have helped the same executive, and was in fact recruited to do so by Louis J. Freeh, a former F.B.I. director who had been brought onto the matter by Hunter Biden.

In effect, Mr. Giuliani and Hunter Biden were on the same team, if not at the same time. And their work to help the business executive, along with that of Mr. Freeh, stood in contrast to efforts by the United States, including Vice President Biden while he was in office, to encourage anti-corruption efforts in Romania.

The dynamic in Romania underscores how Mr. Giuliani has done a brisk international business with clients who sometimes seem to be seeking to capitalize on his connections to Mr. Trump even as he has accused Hunter Biden of seeking to capitalize on his father’s name while doing business in other countries. And the disclosure of the connection between his role in Romania and Mr. Biden’s comes at a time when Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws.

Hunter Biden, who is a lawyer, was retained by the business executive, Gabriel Popoviciu, in 2015, while his father was vice president, to help try to fend off charges in Romania being pursued by anti-corruption prosecutors. In 2016, Mr. Popoviciu was convicted on charges related to a land deal in northern Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani, Overheard Talking About Need for Cash, Mistakenly Calls NBC Reporter, Michael M. Grynbaum, Oct. 25, 2019. “The problem is we need some money,’’ Mr. Giuliani says on the call. Then he adds: “We need a few hundred thousand.’’ Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, managed to inadvertently telephone an NBC News reporter at 11 p.m. one night this month and leave a lengthy voice message filled with snippets of an overheard conversation.

In the muffled recording — left on Oct. 16 with the NBC reporter Rich Schapiro — Mr. Giuliani, the chairman of a security consulting firm, can be heard discussing business in Turkey and Bahrain. At one point, speaking with a pair of unidentified men, Mr. Giuliani declares: “The problem is we need some money.”

Nearly 10 seconds of silence tick by before Mr. Giuliani clarifies: “We need a few hundred thousand.”

It was not the first time that Mr. Giuliani had left remnants of a conversation on Mr. Schapiro’s phone. In a voice mail message left in September, he can be heard railing against the family of Joseph R. Biden Jr., suggesting with no evidence that he knows of corrupt activities by the former vice president.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats see no need to hear from Ukraine whistleblower, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 25, 2019. House Democrats believe they have have enough testimony from senior administration officials to corroborate the claims. But Republicans are arguing that the whistleblower must be unmasked.

 ny times logoNew York Times, The Cost of Trump’s Aid Freeze in the Trenches of Ukraine’s War, Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The impeachment inquiry hinges on whether President Trump suspended nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine to pressure it into investigating his rivals. Ukraine, politically disorganized and militarily weak, has relied heavily on the United States in a bare-bones fight against Russian-backed separatists.

washington post logorepublican party upside downWashington Post, Opinion: Trump thinks he can get away with anything. It’s outlandish, Ruth Marcus, Oct. 25, 2019. “The king can do no wrong.” That is the ancient legal maxim used to explain why a sovereign should not be held to account for misdeeds. President Trump and his lawyers are now making arguments that make this legal doctrine look wimpy. Their vision boils down to: The king can do whatever wrong he damn pleases, and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The GOP holdouts on Graham’s anti-impeachment bill, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2019. Graham has now added to his list of co-sponsors, leaving just three GOP senators who haven’t signed on -- Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkwoski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). But the original list of eight holdouts and hesitant senators was a conspicuous one. And they might be worth watching when it comes to whether Trump’s firewall against removal in the Senate starts to show cracks.

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The real Three Amigos and how sexual blackmail has them at Trump's beck and call), Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsynidcated columnist, author and former Navy intelligence officer, shown at left), Oct. 25, 2019 ((subscription required, excerpted with permission).. According to testimony provided to the House impeachment inquiry by George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's European and Eurasian Bureau, the Trump White House replaced the official Ukraine policy team within the State Department and National Security Council with "three amigos" who took their directions directly from Donald Trump's business agent and alleged lawyer Rudolph Giuliani.

The three amigos consisted of Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, a Trump Inauguration Committee donor and political appointee; Kurt Volker, the then-special envoy to Ukraine; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Volker has since resigned his post and Perry has announced his resignation.

lindsey graham judiciary chairmanHowever, the "three amigos" title should be conferred upon Trump's top three congressional defenders: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). All three are subjects to significant political blackmail arising from their closeted gay sexual orientation. All three represent constituencies where anti-gay Christian fundamentalists enjoy political strength that can make or break any candidate for political office.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: The editor of this site is aware, in part via presence at several interviews of sources, of the substantial evidence regarding the revelations above, which are newsworthy because of the national security and constitutional threats involved by continued suppression elsewhere of relevant allegations and commentary.

Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton’s revenge, Bill Palmer, Oct. 25, 2019. Just how upside down are American politics in 2019? Liberals now find themselves rooting for John Bolton in a criminal scandal in which he’s somehow the good guy. Bolton is a bloodthirsty warmongering monster, but he apparently draws the line at treason, which got him fired. Now he’s apparently knee deep into getting his revenge.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the news broke that John Bolton’s former National Security Council sidekick Tim Morrison is planning to give testimony to the House impeachment inquiry that will fully validate the recent testimony from Acting U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor. This comes not long after Bolton’s other former underling, Fiona Hill, gave impeachment testimony which also fell within the same lines.

john bolton youtube guardianEven as this testimony is playing out behind closed doors, we keep seeing one media leak after another about how John Bolton, right, caught Donald Trump’s people doing guilty things in the Ukraine scandal, told people that Trump was doing guilty things in the Ukraine scandal, and tried to internally sound the alarm in every way that he could. The thing is, evidence and testimony appears to be validating Bolton’s version of events. And you just have to figure Bolton himself will end up testifying in the end, because why wouldn’t he?

John Bolton naturally wants revenge against Donald Trump, both because Trump crossed a criminal line against the United States that even Bolton couldn’t abide by, and because Bolton was fired in humiliating fashion. It looks like Bolton is in the process of getting it.

washington post logoWashington Post, House issues subpoenas to two OMB officials in inquiry, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 25, 2019. The panels want Russell Vought, the acting director of the OMB, and Michael Duffey, the agency's head of national security, to testify early next month. House investigators pressed forward with their impeachment inquiry on Friday, issuing subpoenas to two Office of Management and Budget officials, one of whom has vowed they won’t cooperate with the Democrat-led probe.

The move came as President Trump repeatedly insisted to reporters that he had done nothing wrong in pressing Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. He also praised his embattled personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani as a “great crime fighter.”

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said Democrats are “trying to make us look as bad as possible” with the ongoing inquiry.

Closed-door depositions are scheduled to resume Saturday after a two-day pause with an appearance by a Foreign Service officer stationed in Kyiv, who is expected to testify on efforts of Giuliani and others to oust the previous U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump fights inquiry with a barrage of provocations, contradictions and exhortations, Michael Scherer, Oct. 25, 2019. Following the president’s hourly utterances and tweets has become an overwhelming, but consequential task as his foreign policy decisions come under greater scrutiny.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s pollster releases the worst impeachment poll ever, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2019. Four months ago, President Trump responded to some poor internal polling numbers by, naturally, firing some of his pollsters. As more than a few people noted at the time, the purge risked giving the remaining pollsters — Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin — incentive to juice their numbers in a more pro-Trump direction. A new poll suggests there’s certainly some juicing going on — of a rather ridiculous sort.

Trump Properties, Conflicts

Wall Street Journal, Trump Organization Exploring Sale of Marquee Washington Hotel, Craig Karmin, Oct. 25, 2019 (updated). Move is motivated partly by ethical criticisms concerning profiting on the property. The Trump Organization is exploring a sale of the rights to the company’s opulent Washington, D.C., hotel, a move it says is motivated partly by criticism that the Trumps are flouting ethics laws by profiting from the property. The asking price is $500 million. See below for related coverage:

1100 Pennsylvania, Analysis: Trump Org exploring sale of D.C. hotel, Zack Everson, Oct. 25, 2019. In his statement to the Journal, Trump Org EVP Eric Trump said, “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

That declaration is, um, interesting given testimony from a General Services Administration official at a House committee hearing last month. (The Trump Hotel D.C. is in the Old Post Office building, which the U.S. government owns and rents out to the Trump Org.; GSA administers its lease.) In addition to its monthly rent of $250,000, the lease calls for the Trump Hotel D.C. to pay GSA a cut of its gross revenues if it reaches certain performance thresholds. GSA’s public buildings commissioner Daniel Mathews, a political appointee of Trump’s, testified that the hotel did not pay GSA any funds beyond its base rent last year.

So the Trump Hotel D.C. is making a ton of money, yet it’s not enough for the Trump Org to have to pay any additional rent.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Family Considers Selling Hotel in Washington, Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 25, 2019. The hotel is a target of criticism for President Trump because it frequently hosts foreign diplomats and corporate executives with business before his administration. The hotel is a key part of lawsuits pending against the Trump Organization that argue Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments.

“Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” Eric Trump said Friday in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposal.

The hotel opened in late 2016, just before Mr. Trump was elected president, and quickly became one of the single biggest sources of revenue for the Trump family, according to financial disclosures. It also is one of the few parts of the company that has seen major revenue growth since Mr. Trump took office.

The hotel operates out of a federal building known as the Old Post Office, and the space is leased by the Trump Organization for 60 years. Any transfer of that lease would have to be approved by the federal General Services Administration, which awarded the deal to the Trump Organization after a competition among various bidders.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.J. seeks to revoke liquor license for one of Trump’s golf clubs, triggered by a case in which a customer caused a fatal car crash, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 25, 2019. The state of New Jersey is seeking to revoke the liquor license for one of President Trump’s golf clubs — a rare and potentially damaging punishment, triggered by a 2015 case in which state officials said the Trump club overserved alcohol to a man who then caused a fatal wreck.

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People Magazine, Former Apprentice Star Says She Has Evidence to Back Up Claims Donald Trump Sexually Assaulted Her, Benjamin VanHoose, Oct. 25, 2019. Summer Zervos says she has several items to corroborate a 2007 assault in a hotel room, according to court documents. Summer Zervos, one of the many women who came forward with sexual assault accusations against President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, says she has new evidence to support her claims.

summer zervosZervos, shown in a file photo, appeared as a contestant on season 5 of The Apprentice, the popular reality competition show which Trump hosted on NBC, and claims he assaulted her in 2007 in a hotel room. (Trump is shown above in a publicity photo for the show.)

According to filed court documents obtained and published by CNN, Zervos says she has evidence in the form of emails, calendar entries and a polygraph test that illustrates her telling lawyers in 2011 about the attack, then again telling the story to Fox News in 2015.

Trump is being sued by Zervos for allegedly defaming her in his public denials of the sexual assault.

“The fact that plaintiff sought legal counsel in 2011 and spoke about this to others including a news organization — years before the events of 2016 at issue in this case — strongly supports the inferences that her core narrative is true,” Zervos’ lawyer Mariann Wang claims in the documents, which were filed on Thursday. With the subject line, “Trump Hit on Me,” the August 2015 email to Fox News, included in the submitted evidence, describes the alleged attack in Zervos’ own words.

“I was on The Apprentice. After the show was completed, Trump invited me to a hotel room under the guise of working for him. He had a different agenda. Please contact me to speak further as I have tried to make contact,” the email reads, according to CNN.

U.S. Elections Probes of Russia

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 colleagueg Ignor Fruman while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We had it all backwards about Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen, Bill Palmer, Oct. 25, 2019. Even when Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were first arrested in the Ukraine scandal, observers on all sides – including us – initially presumed that they were Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen. After all, these were just two nobodies, while Rudy was, well, Rudy. This had to be his scheme, and these two stooges had to have been working for him. Except, no.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter the arrests, Rudy Giuliani admitted that he took a half million dollars from a company run by Lev Parnas. It’s separately been reported that Parnas works for Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash. There’s a reason you follow the money in these kinds of scandals: it dictates who’s working for whom. If Parnas is a henchman working for Firtash, that makes Rudy a bottom-rung henchman working for Firtash’s henchman Parnas.

Why does this matter? Rudy Giuliani is going down either way. But it’s important for everyone involved to keep in mind that this whole thing wasn’t just some braindead scheme that Rudy randomly drew up on the back of a napkin and then sold Donald Trump on. This was a scheme being run and funded by a Kremlin oligarch. Rudy was just a pawn, or a go-between for the Kremlins oligarch and Trump. This Ukraine scandal isn’t just echoing the Trump-Russia 2016 election scandal; it appears to be a continuation of the Trump-Russia scandal.

washington post logojohn durham CustomWashington Post, Investigation of Russia probe is criminal in nature, person familiar with case says, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 25, 2019. U.S. Attorney John Durham, right, has been trying to determine whether the FBI’s intelligence activities in the Russia probe were lawful.

Associated Press via AOL, Russian woman who admitted being secret agent out of prison, Eric Tucker and Bobby Calvan, Oct. 25, 2019. A Russian gun rights activist who ap logoadmitted being a secret agent for the Kremlin and trying to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups while Donald Trump rose to power was released from federal prison on Friday, officials said.

Maria Butina left a low-security facility in Tallahassee, Florida and was placed in the custody of federal immigration authorities. She is expected to be immediately deported to Russia now that she has finished her 18-month sentence.

maria butina headshotButina, left, pleaded guilty last December to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent. She admitted that she worked with a former Russian lawmaker to leverage contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue back channels to American conservatives during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

She violated U.S. law because she did not report those efforts to the Justice Department, which requires the registration of lobbyists and others in the U.S. who do the bidding of foreign governments.

Oct. 24

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him, Peter Baker, Lara Jakes, Julian E. Barnes, Sharon LaFraniere and Edward Wong, Oct. 24, 2019 (updated). The impeachment inquiry is in some ways the culmination of a battle between the president and the government institutions he distrusted and disparaged. Nameless, faceless and voiceless, the C.I.A. officer who first triggered the greatest threat to President Trump’s tenure in office seemed to be practically the embodiment of the “deep state” that the president has long accused of trying to take him down.

But over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present, who have defied a White House attempt to block cooperation with House impeachment investigators and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower.

william taylor o CustomThe parade of witnesses marching to Capitol Hill culminated this week with the dramatic testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., right, a military officer and diplomat who has served his country for 50 years. Undaunted by White House pressure, he came forward to accuse the same president who sent him to Ukraine a few months ago of abusing his power to advance his own political interests.

The House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Democrats is the climax of a 33-month scorched-earth struggle between a president with no record of public service and the government he inherited but never trusted. If Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, it will be in part because of some of the same career professionals he has derided as “absolute scum” or compared to Nazis.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Why Did Republicans Storm the Capitol? They’re Running Out of Options, Editorial Board, Oct. 24, 2019. As more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that President Trump’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts. Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, a gaggle of conservative House members on Capitol Hill staged a “protest,” barging into the secure room — called a SCIF — where members of three House committees were preparing to hear testimony from Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

republican party upside downShepherding the demonstrators was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of President Trump’s fiercest apologists, whose account live-tweeted the stunt: “BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside — more details to come.”

Chaos ensued. There were shouting matches. Some of the invading members brought along their cellphones, though they are prohibited inside the secure room. Ms. Cooper’s testimony was delayed, and Democrats called in the sergeant-at-arms for help restoring order.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Oct. 24, 2019. Officials are said to have shifted from an administrative review of the Russia investigation to a criminal inquiry. The move is likely to raise alarms that President Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.

william barr at dojJustice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr, left, to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, right, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

john durham CustomThe opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.

Mr. Barr’s reliance on Mr. Durham, a widely respected and veteran prosecutor who has investigated C.I.A. torture and broken up Mafia rings, could help insulate the attorney general from accusations that he is doing the president’s bidding and putting politics above justice.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House delayed Ukraine trade decision in August, David J. Lynch and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 24, 2019. When the State Department’s Bill Taylor testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry this week, John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned the U.S. trade representative that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Taylor bombshell, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. When the State Department’s Bill Taylor, right, testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry this william taylor o croppedweek, there were widespread reports that his testimony had elicited sighs and gasps from Democrats and Republicans, because it was just that ugly for Donald Trump. Now we’re finding out just what it was that set off all the alarms.

Bill Taylor’s written opening statement leaked to the media days ago, but up to now, we had no specifics when it came to his verbal answers to the questions he was asked by people on the committee. But NBC News has learned that at one point Taylor told the committee about the order to withhold military funding to Ukraine. Taylor said that an unnamed Office of Management and Budget official told him that “the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to OMB.”

bill palmer report logo headerWhy is this important? It makes clear that the order came from Donald Trump himself. This means Trump can’t claim that he didn’t know what Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was doing. He can’t simply scapegoat Mulvaney or others for the Ukraine quid pro quo, because it’s clear that people within OMB were well aware that the order came from the top.

This comes amid reports that House Democrats are now just about three weeks away from starting their televised House impeachment inquiry hearings. Based on this Bill Taylor bombshell, it’s more clear than ever that he’ll be one of the key witnesses during those televised hearings.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican defense of Trump grows more frantic and disjointed as Ukraine scandal escalates, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). GOP House members who stormed a closed-door meeting Wednesday made process arguments that sidestepped the substance of the central allegations underpinning the impeachment inquiry.

• Analysis: Lawmakers can be their own biggest cybersecurity vulnerability
• Trump told the GOP to fight. It took the brawl underground
• Democrats eye Bolton as key witness
• House Democrats prepare to move inquiry onto public stage
• Live Updates: Investigators pause depositions in honor of Cummings
• Sondland ‘does not recall’ threatening Ukraine over funding, attorney says
• Investigators grapple with how to present the complex Ukraine narrative to the American people
• Judge to order release of Ukraine records in 30 days
• Taylor fought corruption in Ukraine. Things changed under Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lawyer argues he would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell​, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). ​President Trump’s private attorney said Wednesday that the president could not be investigated or prosecuted as long as he is in the White House, even for shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

The claim of “temporary presidential immunity” from Trump’s private attorney William S. Consovoy came in court in response to a judge’s question that invoked the president’s own hypothetical scenario. As a candidate in 2016, Trump said his support was so strong he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.”

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)The president’s lawyer was asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to block a subpoena for Trump’s private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election. The judges seemed skeptical of the president’s sweeping claims of immunity not just from prosecution, but also from investigation.

Judge Denny Chin pressed Consovoy about the hypothetical shooting in the middle of Manhattan. “Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked, adding, “Nothing could be done? That is your position?”

“That is correct,” Consovoy answered emphasizing that the immunity applied only while Trump is in office.

The exchange came during an hour-long argument centered on Trump’s effort to fend off a subpoena to his longtime accounting firm from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The case, expected to reach the Supreme Court, is a test of the sweep of presidential privilege and one of several battles over Trump’s business records that began before the House opened its impeachment inquiry.

Judge Robert A. Katzmann asked Trump’s lawyer Wednesday what harm would come from turning over the president’s tax records to a grand jury when state and federal officials already retain such documents.

Consovoy said there was no guarantee the records would remain private once prosecutors and a grand jury were granted access.

Carey Dunne, general counsel from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, told the court “there is no such thing as presidential immunity for tax returns” and “they’re making this victor marreroup.”

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, right, rejected Trump’s broad claims that a sitting president is immune not only from prosecution but also from investigation. The judge said such a shield for the president would be “virtually limitless” and characterized Trump’s claim of immunity as “repugnant to the nation’s fundamental structure and constitutional values.” The appeal Wednesday is being heard by three judges — Katzmann, Chin and Christopher F. Droney — all of whom were nominated by Democratic presidents.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge says he will order State Dept. to begin releasing Ukraine records in 30 days, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 24, 2019. A federal judge said Wednesday that he will order the State Department to begin releasing Ukraine-related documents in 30 days, potentially making public sensitive records and communications at the heart of an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The decision, by U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper of Washington, D.C., came in a public records lawsuit filed Oct. 1 by a government watchdog group, American Oversight. The group in May asked the State Department for records related to alleged efforts by Trump and his administration to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the group sought communications, such as those between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. It also sought records and communications since March 2018 related to the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Politico, Lawyers for Ukrainian oligarch have another client: The columnist who pushed Biden corruption claims, Natasha Bertrand and Darren Samuelsohn, Oct. 24, 2019. Conservative lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who this year took on as a client an oligarch at the center of the Ukraine scandal, also represent the conservative columnist who has advanced Trump-friendly claims of corruption in Kyiv.

“John Solomon has been a client of our firm for a very long time,” Joe diGenova told Politico on Thursday. “He’s a journalist and he has legal needs, like many journalists.”

The arrangement demonstrates how interconnected the cast of characters at the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has become, and raises new questions about legal privileges that could help shield key players from scrutiny.

“It raises very serious questions about whether these individuals are trying to use a lawyer-client relationship to hide communications involving illicit activities,” said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University.

Solomon confirmed to Politico that Toensing and diGenova “have been my lawyers for a very long time, along with other lawyers across many different law firms.” Solomon said he used Toensing and diGenova “for libel review, to help review book and movie offers, and to do personnel contracts.”

Solomon pushed back on that, arguing that he hired the pair “years ago” and would have had to have known then that the Ukraine scandal would evolve into legal fights and impeachment proceedings if he were only using them as a shield.

New York Post, Russian agent Maria Butina to be released from prison, sent back to Moscow, Lee Brown, Oct. 24, 2019. Russian agent Maria Butina is due to be released from prison Friday — and immediately escorted back to the Motherland, according to her lawyer. Butina, a pro-gun activist who infiltrated conservative political circles as a secret agent for the Kremlin, will be released from a low-security prison in Tallahassee, Fla., where she was serving 18 months for working as an undeclared agent of a foreign government without registering in the US.

The red-headed inmate will be sent packing back to Moscow accompanied by two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, told the Washington Examiner. However, he said he has been kept in the dark over her exact itinerary — knowing only that she will get to make one call before boarding her final connecting flight home.

“They tend to do these things like they’re moving a nuclear bomb, and they’re not,” Driscoll complained of US officials’ secrecy. Butina, 30, has picked an outfit from Amazon to replace her prison uniform, the lawyer said, without giving details on her get-up.

Oct. 23

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. envoy says he was told release of Ukraine aid was contingent on public declaration to investigate Bidens, 2016 election, Anne Gearan, Rachael Bade and John Wagner, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said Tuesday he was told release of military aid was contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting President Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.

William Taylor o CustomActing ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., right, testified behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe of Trump that he stands by his characterization that it was “crazy” to make the assistance contingent on investigations he found troubling.

Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called “weird,” Taylor said, according to a copy of his lengthy opening statement obtained by the Washington Post. Taylor walked lawmakers through a series of conversations he had with other U.S. diplomats who were trying to obtain what one called the “deliverable” of Ukrainian help investigating Trump’s political rivals.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators, Sharon LaFraniere, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Kiev, provided the most explicit account to date of President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine publicly announce an investigation of Mr. Trump’s political rivals in exchange for an Oval Office meeting and military assistance to fight Russian-led forces.

state dept map logo SmallMr. Taylor said he and other top officials were alarmed by a shadow foreign policy that put Ukrainian lives at risk for Mr. Trump’s political gain. The following are key parts of his opening statement.

William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo.

gordon sondland oMr. Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, right, the American ambassador to the European Union, that military aid for Ukraine and an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were contingent on the Ukrainians announcing that they were investigating a company, Burisma, that had hired Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, helped convey the demands, he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lawyer argues he would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell​, Oct. 23, 2019. ​President Trump’s private attorney said Wednesday that the president could not be investigated or prosecuted as long as he is in the White House, even for shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

The claim of “temporary presidential immunity” from Trump’s private attorney William S. Consovoy came in court in response to a judge’s question that invoked the president’s own hypothetical scenario. As a candidate in 2016, Trump said his support was so strong he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.”

The president’s lawyer was asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to block a subpoena for Trump’s private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election. The judges seemed skeptical of the president’s sweeping claims of immunity not just from prosecution, but also from investigation.

Judge Denny Chin pressed Consovoy about the hypothetical shooting in the middle of Manhattan. “Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked, adding, “Nothing could be done? That is your position?”

“That is correct,” Consovoy answered emphasizing that the immunity applied only while Trump is in office.

The exchange came during an hour-long argument centered on Trump’s effort to fend off a subpoena to his longtime accounting firm from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The case, expected to reach the Supreme Court, is a test of the sweep of presidential privilege and one of several battles over Trump’s business records that began before the House opened its impeachment inquiry.

Judge Robert A. Katzmann asked Trump’s lawyer Wednesday what harm would come from turning over the president’s tax records to a grand jury when state and federal officials already retain such documents.

Consovoy said there was no guarantee the records would remain private once prosecutors and a grand jury were granted access.

Carey Dunne, general counsel from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, told the court “there is no such thing as presidential immunity for tax returns” and “they’re making this victor marreroup.”

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, right, rejected Trump’s broad claims that a sitting president is immune not only from prosecution but also from investigation. The judge said such a shield for the president would be “virtually limitless” and characterized Trump’s claim of immunity as “repugnant to the nation’s fundamental structure and constitutional values.” The appeal Wednesday is being heard by three judges — Katzmann, Chin and Christopher F. Droney — all of whom were nominated by Democratic presidents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Contradicting Trump, Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze Before It Became Public, Andrew E. Kramer and Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 23, 2019. President Trump and his allies say there could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know U.S. assistance had been blocked. But word of the aid freeze had reached high-level Ukrainian officials in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Times.

To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze a $391 million military aid package to Ukraine was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know the assistance had been blocked.

Following testimony by William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the freezing of the aid was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand for the investigations, the president took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to approvingly quote a Republican member of Congress saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Impeachment Diary: The words that could end a presidency, Dana Milbank, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). He was straight out of Foggy Bottom central casting. Lean and bespectacled, with neatly combed gray hair and a pressed charcoal suit, William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, gave not so much as a glance toward the massed cameras as he arrived Tuesday, escorted by uniformed police, at the offices of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

But once inside, he delivered words that could end a presidency.

“In August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons,” Taylor testified, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by The Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Here’s the quid pro quo proof, Lindsey Graham, Editorial Board, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, right, one of President Trump’s most lindsey graham judiciary chairmanardent defenders in the Ukraine affair, has said he sees no evidence of wrongdoing in the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Mr. Trump pressed for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son and the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, while dangling a White House meeting that Mr. Zelensky wanted.

But Mr. Graham did say the other day that “if you could show me that, you know, Trump was actually engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

We think we can help the South Carolina Republican. Evidently he has not followed closely the depositions and documents collected by three House committees from present and former senior administration officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz and House Republicans go berserk inside secure SCIF room, police now involved, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2019. If you’re looking for a sign of just how poorly the House impeachment inquiry hearings are going for Donald Trump, just take a look at what his allies are now doing to try to derail the process. In an attempt at delaying today’s testimony, a couple dozen House Republicans have stormed into a secure SCIF room, and have gone so berserk that the police are now involved. No, really.

bill palmer report logo headerIt all started when CNN’s Manu Raju reported that a House GOP contingent led by “Malicious Captain Kangaroo” Matt Gaetz stormed into the SCIF with electronic devices in hand and refused to leave, while whining about how the impeachment hearings are being held. They’re angry that they’re not allowed to attend these hearings, but in reality it’s simply because they’re not on the committees that have been holding the hearings; the Republicans who are on those committees have been given full access to the impeachment witnesses.

But don’t tell that to this group of pro-Trump marauders, who are doing everything they can to sabotage the sanctity of the testimony process. Politico’s Kyle Cheney is reporting that the police are now being forced to sweep the SCIF due to “possible security breaches of what’s supposed to be a secure room.” Of course Politico’s Andrew Desiderio hit on the real reason for the stunt: Department of Defense official Laura Cooper’s testimony is now on hold, while the House GOP invaders try to “negotiate a settlement” with Adam Schiff.

This is all somehow really happening. House Republicans have gone berserk in a secure SCIF room, the police now involved, and everyone involved is trying to negotiate a resolution, like any other hostage standoff. Here’s a solution: the police should simply arrest these House Republicans for violating the law by improperly entering a SCIF and improperly carrying electronic devices with them.

Roll Call, Impeachment news roundup: Unauthorized Republicans storm secure room as Pentagon official Laura Cooper gives deposition about withheld military aid to Ukraine, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2019. A cadre of House Republicans led by Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Matt Gaetz stormed the secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday where the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine was giving her deposition for the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Oct. 22

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. envoy says he was told release of Ukraine aid was contingent on public declaration to investigate Bidens, 2016 election, Anne Gearan, Rachael Bade and John William Taylor o CustomWagner, Oct. 22, 2019. The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said Tuesday he was told release of military aid was contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting President Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.

Acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., right, testified behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe of Trump that he stands by his characterization that it was “crazy” to make the assistance contingent on investigations he found troubling.

Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called “weird,” Taylor said, according to a copy of his lengthy opening statement obtained by the Washington Post. Taylor walked lawmakers through a series of conversations he had with other U.S. diplomats who were trying to obtain what one called the “deliverable” of Ukrainian help investigating Trump’s political rivals.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Slow Impeachment Timeline to Sharpen Their Public Case, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats, once eyeing an impeachment vote by Thanksgiving, now conceded they may have to slow down as they plan public hearings to make their case. House Democrats have resigned themselves to the likelihood that impeachment proceedings against President Trump will extend into the Christmas season, as they plan a series of public hearings intended to make the simplest and most devastating possible public case in favor of removing Mr. Trump.

U.S. House logoDemocratic leaders had hoped to move as soon as Thanksgiving to wrap up a narrow inquiry focused around Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, buoyed by polling data that shows that the public supports the investigation, even if voters are not yet sold on impeaching the president.

Their goal is to convince the public — and if they can, more Republicans — that the president committed an impeachable offense when he demanded that Ukraine investigate his political rivals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump swiftly condemned after he calls inquiry a ‘lynching,’ John Wagner, Oct. 22, 2019.  “Every time your back is up against the wall, you throw out karen bass headshotdonald trump twitterthese racial bombs,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), right. President Trump on Tuesday called the impeachment inquiry a “lynching” in an inflammatory tweet that drew swift condem nation from Democrats as a senior diplomat viewed as a key witness testifies.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” a “pressure campaign” and a “coverup.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin and Hungary’s Orban helped sour Trump on Ukraine, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 22, 2019. President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals came as he was being urged to adopt a view of that country as hopelessly corrupt by its regional adversaries.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s Cabinet meetings are about everything but the business of his Cabinet, Josh Dawsey, Oct. 22, 2019. They have served as a chance for the president to boast and lash out at critics. The Cabinet meeting was billed as a discussion of the administration’s “successful rollback of the abuses and the high cost of the bloated regulatory state.” It began with a prayer from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. A large cardboard poster titled “CHAMPIONS” was perched behind the president’s head.

djt official portraitThen with the cameras rolling and the administration facing criticism over its Middle East policy and presidential self-dealing at the same time as an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats was gaining momentum, President Trump made it clear he had other things on his mind than cutting regulations. He had stayed inside the White House all weekend, sending more than 80 tweets and playing no golf.

“Everybody feel comfortable over there?” he said at the opening of the 71-minute affair that was part news conference, part stream-of-consciousness bragging and all about Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The smoking gun has already been revealed, Michael Gerson (former Bush speechwriter), Oct. 22, 2019. The impeachment of President Trump has reached an early point of absurdity. Just about everyone in Washington believes that a quid pro quo — in which Trump used American clout to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden — would be impeachable (or at least, as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina recently put it, “very disturbing”).

And just about everyone in Washington believes that Trump used American clout to pressure Zelensky into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. Which Republicans such as Graham deny was a quid pro quo. It is a nakedly deceitful position.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump administration misusing USAID for personal business interests, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 22, 2019. Historically a cipher and pass-through for the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been transformed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the urging of Donald Trump, into an aggressive business intelligence operation designed to financially benefit Trump's top donors in private industry.

Oct. 21

More Trump  #MeToo

Cosmopolitan Magazine, Teen Models Remember Trump Would “Find a Reason” to Come Backstage When They Were Changing, Barry Levine, right (Michael Goldblum photo), and Monique El-Faizy, Oct. 21, barry levine cropped michael goldblum2019. In exclusive excerpts from the explosive new book All the President’s Women, modeling contestants recall President Trump’s “gropey” behavior and his interest in young girls.

In 2016, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Nobody has more respect for women than me!” Although his sordid history with women has been well-documented (to date, at least 25 women have accused the POTUS of sexual misconduct), he remains in office, seemingly immune to the forces of the #MeToo movement.

barry levine monique el faizy djt cover croppedBut a new book by journalists Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy aims to uncover parts of Trump’s past that should no longer be ignored. In the following passages excerpted from All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, we learn of Trump’s egregious and disturbing misconduct around young women trying to make it in the modeling world in the early 1990s. —Rosa Heyman

Trump’s hands, the size of which would later become the subject of significant public curiosity, were infamous for other reasons back then, according to sources. “He was gropey...he had his hands in the most inappropriate places, always,” [NaKina] Carr said.

[Editor’s note: NaKina Carr was working as a runway model for Oscar de la Renta.] “When he went in to kiss someone, the hand always went to either the hip or the butt. He was also really good when he did pictures or when he’d side-hug someone. He’d always get his hand on the boob. Every time.” Stories about Trump and his hands circulated within the modeling community. At one modeling event, Trump allegedly went down a line of women feeling their bodies to guess their dress size. Backstage at a lingerie show, he is said to have moved his hands all over a model’s breasts under the guise of inspecting the bra’s fabric.

"If you’re over twenty-one, you don’t have to worry.”

Another trademark Trump move was honed back in the early 1980s. “I saw this several times: When he met a girl, he’d immediately move in to kiss her, not shake her hand or say ‘Hello, how are you?’ He’d immediately put his mouth on her,” Carr said. “I saw him many times go straight to the mouth, to kiss them on the mouth, and they would turn their cheek. But a lot of them didn’t because they knew he was the moneyman and it was a way up.”

Among modeling insiders, Trump had a reputation at the time for preferring the younger girls. “If you’re over twenty-one you don’t have to worry,” Carr said she was told.

monique el faizyBarry Levine is a veteran investigative reporter and editor in print and television. A former National Enquirer editor, he received the Huffington Post‘s “Game Changer” award in 2010 for his “shoe leather reporting” and led a reporting team to a Pulitzer Prize nomination for investigative reporting and national news reporting. He lives in New York.

Monique El-Faizy, right, is a Paris-based journalist and the author of "God and Country: How Evangelicals Have Become America’s New Mainstream." Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Marie Claire, GQ, and Glamour.

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas and Michael Brice-Saddler​, Oct. 21, 2019. The speaker’s “fact sheet” outlines what her office characterized as a gross abuse of power by Trump, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

President Trump urged his party to “get tougher and fight” against his impeachment Monday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

A Republican effort to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for his handling of the inquiry was also expected to come to a head Monday, with Democrats poised to block a floor vote on the measure.

Democrats have planned two closed-door depositions this week, including one Tuesday from Bill Taylor, the top official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. In text messages with other U.S. diplomats, Taylor raised alarms about the White House holding back military aid to Ukraine and pressing for investigations into the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

2:15 p.m.: Democrats pounce on Trump’s emoluments clause comments

Democratic lawmakers were quick to lambaste and ridicule Trump’s Monday complaints about “this phony emoluments clause.”

“Trump thinks any part of the Constitution that forbids his corruption is illegitimate,” tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). “Remember when republicans labeled themselves ‘strict constitutionalists’?”

• Analysis: Why Republicans are trying to censure Adam Schiff

C-SPAN, President Trump hosts members of his Cabinet for a meeting at the White House, Oct. 21, 2019 (72:18 mins.).

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Trump Dropped His Idea to Hold the G7 at His Own Hotel, Maggie Haberman, Eric Lipton and Katie Rogers, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s decision to host the Group of 7 summit at his Trump National Doral resort in Florida was a rare move by him that stirred Republican opposition. He knew he was inviting criticism by choosing his own luxury golf club in Miami for the site of a gathering of world leaders at the Group of 7 summit in June, President Trump told his aides opposed to the choice, and he was prepared for the inevitable attack from Democrats.

djt trump doral SmallBut what Mr. Trump was not prepared for was the reaction of fellow Republicans who said his choice of the club, the Trump National Doral, had crossed a line, and they couldn’t defend it.

So Mr. Trump did something that might not have been a surprise for a president facing impeachment but that was unusual for him: He reversed himself Saturday night, abruptly ending the uproar touched off two days earlier by the announcement of his decision by Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff.

“He had no choice,” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and longtime friend of the president’s, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t have been done in the first place. And it’s a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news.”

With many members already unhappy with the consequences of the president’s move to withdraw troops from Syria, and Democrats pressing their impeachment inquiry, Republicans on Capitol Hill were not eager to have to defend the appropriateness of the president’s decision to host the Group of 7 meeting at one of his own properties.

In the past, presidents and their top advisers have played a lead role in selecting Group of 7 sites. But the White House has typically just picked the host city, not the hotels. That has traditionally been left to the State Department, said Peter A. Selfridge, the department’s chief of protocol during the Obama administration.

The event draws as many as 7,000 people, including security personnel, news media, diplomats, heads of state and support staff, meaning an overall price tag that can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, once security is included.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump was manipulating the stock market for someone’s personal gain, Bill Palmer, Oct. 21, 2019. Back in August, Palmer Report pointed donald trump twitterout that Donald Trump kept saying and doing things that had the effect of sending the stock market plummeting on one day, only for it to bounce back the next day. He’s announced tariffs that turned out not to exist, or he’d randomly attack the Fed Chair, or other moves that were just a little bit too on the nose.

We pointed out that while Donald Trump isn’t known to be a stock market investor in his own right, his curiously timed tweets were creating a prime opportunity for others to play the stock market accordingly. We asked if perhaps someone in Trump’s inner circle was goading him into posting these kinds of tweets on certain days and times, so that person could cash in. Well, it looks like someone may have been doing precisely that.

bill palmer report logo headerVanity Fair has managed to identify several large-volume stock market transactions that just happened to be timed perfectly with Donald Trump’s economic shenanigans, meaning that either someone out there has the most uncanny sense of timing in history, or the transactions in question were made with inside knowledge of what the Trump regime was about to do.

This kind of insider trading – if that’s indeed what’s going on here – is highly illegal. This could end up being yet another instance of Donald Trump getting one of his buddies sent to prison, as this kind of scheming only works if you don’t get caught, and someone definitely just got caught.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump sold out to Turkey’s Erdogan, Isabel Stamm, Oct. 21, 2019. Last week saw a flurry of breaking news about the international activities of the Trump – Giuliani crime duo.

bill palmer report logo headerFor the sake of simplicity, let’s just focus on the emerging stories that concern Turkey. As a matter of fact, Chris Hayes argued on MSNBC’s All In that what it all seems to boil down to is really just one story: the story of “America’s Mayor“ lobbying on Turkey’s behalf and Donald Trump agreeing to give President Erdogan everything he wants.

What is it then that Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants? As we all know by now, the Turkish president wants to push the Kurds away from the Turkish border and, by the looks of it, he would like to eliminate what he has long seen as the Kurdish threat once and for all.

Secondly, Erdogan wants to see his long-time nemesis Fetullah Gülen extradited from the U.S. where the Turkish cleric has been a permanent resident since 1999.

Interestingly, it is also the former New York mayor who is involved in a third matter that is close to the Turkish president’s heart. Erdogan is hoping to get U.S. authorities to drop the case they have been pursuing against Halkbank, the state-owned Turkish bank that is under investigation for a yearslong scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions, allegedly with the consent of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The man at the center of the Halkbank scandal is Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, and Rudy Giuliani was at some point part of Zarrab’s legal team.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pelosi Has the Constitution at Her Back, Caroline Fredrickson (author of “The Democracy Fix” and president of the American Constitution Society), Oct. 21, 2019.  When the president runs amok, the House has a congressional duty to step in and provide oversight.

President Trump and Republicans have insisted that House Democrats take a vote to open a formal impeachment inquiry before engaging in thoroughgoing oversight of the administration’s activities related to Ukraine. This is a political calculation — relying on faulty analysis of the Clinton impeachment — that a formal inquiry will backfire on Democrats.

The Constitution makes no such requirement for conducting an impeachment investigation. Furthermore, it assigns to Congress the important duty of oversight.

Oct. 20

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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Other Headline News

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says his Doral golf resort will no longer host next year’s G-7 summit, bowing to criticism, Philip Rucker and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral near Miami, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event.

Trump was buffeted by two straight days of allegations of self-dealing and exasperation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including some Republican allies who said the selection of Doral (shown above) as the venue for a gathering of world leaders was indefensible.

The decision — while it lasted — was an unprecedented one in modern American politics: The president awarded a massive contract to himself. The White House promoted Doral as the single best venue in the United States to host the G-7 summit in June, and the meeting would have brought thousands of guests in the offseason to a resort that is struggling financially.

For months, Trump had touted Doral as an ideal venue to host visiting dignitaries, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made the choice official at a news conference Thursday.

But in a rare reversal in the face of public pressure for a president who prides himself in rarely folding or admitting failure, Trump said Saturday that he and his administration would search for a new location.

 mick mulvaney djt 2 Small

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has complete meltdown as he pulls the plug on his G7 Doral stunt, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. When Donald Trump had Mick Mulvaney announce on Thursday that next year’s G7 Summit was being held at Trump’s Doral resort, Palmer Report predicted that this could end up hurting Trump just as much as Mulvaney’s confession in the Ukraine scandal. It was the kind of ham fisted cash grab that even some Republicans in Congress would be afraid to defend.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the G7 Doral scheme is now already officially dead. Various Republicans in Congress have spoken up against it, even as Democrats have capitalized on it as an easy opportunity to make their case that Trump is corrupt from top to bottom.

We also pointed out that the negative publicity about Doral’s struggling finances and bed bug scandal would likely end up costing Trump more money than what he might gain from the G7 grift. Even as the whole thing rapidly falls apart for Trump, he’s going bonkers about it tonight: “I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO donald trump twitterPROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!”

Then thirty-five minutes later he posted this additional tweet, which appeared to start in mid-sentence and wasn’t part of the earlier thread, but did officially kill off the Doral G7 stunt: “Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately. Thank you!”

It’s also notable that while members of both parties in Congress are slamming Trump over this Doral corruption scheme, Trump is only blaming the Democrats, as he’s still largely unwilling to acknowledge that more Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from him by the day.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state, Philip Rucker​, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s supremacy is being challenged inside his own realm. With his administration engulfed by crisis, he can no longer control the forces once solidly arrayed behind him, ·​

washington post logotony schwartz headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Why Trump can’t change, no matter what the consequences are, Tony Schwartz, right, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Personal growth is about seeing more. The president is too self-absorbed for that. In April 2016, on the verge of securing the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump announced that his “campaign is evolving and transitioning, and so am I.”

When Trump was elected, some critics held out hope that he would grow in office, as other presidents have. No one believes that’s possible anymore. After Mick donald trump cover art of the dealMulvaney took over as Trump’s third chief of staff last December, he let it be known that his approach would be to “let Trump be Trump.” Mulvaney was simply succumbing to reality. As Trump himself has said, he is essentially the same person today that he was at age 7. He has his story, and he’s sticking to it.

Growth and development are about seeing more. The wider, deeper and longer our perspective, the more variables we can consider — and the more capable we become. Likewise, the more responsibility we take for our behaviors, and the less we blame others for our shortcomings, the more power we have to influence our destiny.

None of this is possible for Trump.

I got to know Trump three decades ago when he hired me to write The Art of the Deal. Although the book became a bestseller, working with him was deeply dispiriting, given his almost complete self-absorption, the shortness of his attention span and the fact that he lied as a matter of course, without apparent guilt.

Tony Schwartz is chief executive of the Energy Project. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming “The War Between My Selves.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Does Trump understand how grossly he just insulted the president of Turkey? Can Dündar, right, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Can Dündar, the former editor Can Dündar Claude Truong Ngoc 2017in chief of the leading Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, is now living in exile. He is shown in a 2017 portrait by Claude Truong Ngoc 2017.

Earlier this week, amid burgeoning scandals in Washington and a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Syria, President Trump revealed a letter he had sent to the president of Turkey. Trump was apparently trying to show a confused American public that he’s really the man in charge.

recep erdogan with flagTrump was acting on impulse. Yet his decision is likely to haunt Turkish-U.S. relations for a long time to come.

The text of the letter rocked Turkish politics. “Don’t be a fool!” Trump admonished his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left — an astonishing insult to a man who carefully guards his public image as a strongman.

Trump threatened “to destroy the Turkish economy” and reminded Erdogan that “I have worked hard to solve some of your problems,” a reference to some personal matter whose nature we can only guess at. And he also recommended that Erdogan negotiate with Syrian Kurdish leader Gen. Mazloum Abdi — a man that Turkey considers to be a terrorist.

For anyone to address Erdogan in such language inside Turkey is inconceivable; he has sent many people to jail for far milder comments. He also has a long record of reacting harshly to criticism from abroad, and commentators waited with bated breath to see how he would respond.

Global News: Brexit

washington post logoWashington Post, Parliament votes to withhold full approval of Brexit deal, postponing Boris Johnson’s moment of reckoning, William Booth and Karla Adam​, ​Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). British lawmakers voted Saturday to withhold support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal until all the supporting legislation is passed. The vote scuppers Johnson’s hopes to finalize Brexit on an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session.

It was a significant loss for Johnson, left, who had hoped for a Brexit finale in an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session. But it is not a boris johnson hand up unsourcedfatal blow against his deal. Minutes after the vote, Johnson pledged to the House of Commons, “no delays.” The prime minister said he would seek approval of his Brexit deal in a session in the coming week.

Based on previous legislation, passed months ago, Johnson is now required to formally seek a three-month extension from the European Union.

Johnson began his remarks on Saturday by thanking lawmakers for gathering on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, the first time in a united kingdom flaggeneration, since Britain fought in the Falklands.

Underscoring how the country remains deeply divided on Brexit, thousands of protesters spilled into London from across the county to demand a second referendum. For more than a year, polls have shown that if there were a countrywide “do over vote,” Britons would, by a narrow margin, opt to stay in the E.U.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Proclaiming ‘I Am Back,’ Bernie Sanders Accepts Ocasio-Cortez Endorsement, Sydney Ember, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Ms. Ocasio-Cortez hailed Mr. Sanders alexandria ocasio cortezand his influence on Democratic Party politics at Mr. Sanders’s first rally since his heart attack two weeks ago. Senator Bernie Sanders, left, wanted a show of force bernie sandersto convince voters he was back from his heart attack, and he produced one on Saturday:

At his first rally since the episode just two and a half weeks ago, he reveled in one of the most coveted endorsements in the Democratic Party, from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, right.

Drawing loud cheers from a large, enthusiastic and diverse crowd that had packed into a park in Queens next to a public housing complex, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez offered resounding words of support, for both Mr. Sanders and his influence in shaping the Democratic primary. More detail below.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump begs his remaining supporters not to “give up,” Bill Palmer, Oct. 20, 2019. The most surefire sign that your side is losing? When you have to start begging them not to give up. In the movies, that’s sometimes a turning point where an impassioned speech suddenly turns everything around for everyone involved. But in the real world, when you’re reduced to begging your own side not to give up, you usually end up losing. One of Donald Trump’s surrogates posted this tweet:

bill palmer report logo headerLately I’ve heard a few, “Trump has done an amazing job- but I’m getting so tired of the bad press.” Are u kidding? This is EXACTLY what the media wants- to burn u out & fatigue u into wanting him out. Have an espresso & buck the hell up. This is no time for Stockholm syndrome.

This alone is a sign that Donald Trump’s remaining supporters are becoming weary and worn down by just what a corrupt and embarrassing disaster he’s turned donald trump twitterout to be. But here’s the kicker. Trump quoted this tweet and added his own, ahem, pep talk: “Never give up. We are doing GREAT! We are WINNING!”

Again, this isn’t the movies. When things are going so horribly for your own side that you end up having to beg your own people not to “give up” on you and your cause, it’s a bad sign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake, Mitch McConnell, Oct. 20 2019 (print ed.). Mitch McConnell, a Republican from mitch mcconnell2Kentucky, is majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances. Sadly, the recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I have worked with three presidential administrations to fight radical Islamist terrorism. I have distilled three principal lessons about combating this complex threat.

Lesson No. 1 is that the threat is real and cannot be wished away. These fanatics threaten American interests and American lives. If permitted to regroup and establish havens, they will bring terror to our shores.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s aggressive efforts to reform Ukraine yielded successes but also earned him enemies, Matt Viser and Paul Sonne, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The former vice president spent three years pushing Obama administration policy on Ukraine, but that may have laid the groundwork for questions now being raised by political opponents about his and his son’s behavior.

joe biden oVice President Joe Biden, right, was losing his temper, dressing down the president of Ukraine in front of a group of high-level advisers and officials from both countries inside a regal complex at the United Nations.

“Don’t give me this bullshit,” Biden bellowed in the September 2016 encounter, according to an aide who was present, unloading on Petro Poroshenko after Biden felt he was making excuses for failing to root out corruption involving the country’s state-owned gas company.

“There’s nothing that happens in Ukraine you don’t know about,” Biden continued. “If something like this happens again, I’m done with you.”

petro poroshenko 2010The public humiliation of Poroshenko, left, illustrated the unusually aggressive approach employed by Biden, the Obama administration’s chief Ukraine envoy, to bring the small but strategically important former Soviet republic closer to the West. It was an approach that yielded successes but also earned Biden and his aides a slew of enemies and detractors in Ukraine, and it may now have boomeranged to hurt his 2020 presidential campaign.

During the last three years of the Obama administration, Biden made five trips to Ukraine. He held at least 70 phone calls with Ukrainian leaders, the bulk of them ukraine flagwith Poroshenko, and had meetings in Washington, Munich, and at the United Nations. He delivered a speech to the Ukrainian parliament, attended ceremonies and acted as an intermediary to the international community for Kyiv. He constantly urged the country to implement reforms, holding out U.S. financial assistance in return.

Biden and Poroshenko’s conversations continued even after Biden left office, through earlier this year.

Biden’s extensive involvement in the country’s fitful march toward reform has highlighted the political risks of becoming so deeply enmeshed in another country’s murky domestic affairs. The danger increased when Biden’s son Hunter took a paid position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company owned by a former government minister later accused of corruption. Though both Bidens say they did not discuss the gas company, the arrangement raised the perception that Biden’s family was benefiting from his vice-presidential role and gave ammunition to his critics, some of whom have now linked up with allies of Trump to smear the former vice president.

Oct. 19

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing number of Republicans struggle to defend Trump on G-7 choice, Ukraine and Syria, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida, right, compared the situation to Watergate and did not rule out voting to impeach President Trump.

francis rooneyA growing number of congressional Republicans expressed exasperation Friday over what they view as President Trump’s indefensible behavior, a sign that the president’s stranglehold on his party is starting to weaken as Congress hurtles toward a historic impeachment vote.

In interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours, many said they were repulsed by Trump’s decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s admission — later withdrawn — that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president’s abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria.

One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) — whose district Trump carried by 22 percentage points — did not rule out voting to impeach the president and compared the situation to the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. See follow-up story: Washington Post, GOP congressman who won’t rule out impeaching Trump announces retirement (excerpted below).

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Mixes His Business With Role as Trump’s Lawyer, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.) Amid intensifying scrutiny of his own work, the former New York mayor met recently with senior Justice Department officials on behalf of a client in a foreign bribery case.

It is an extraordinary time in Washington, but it is more or less business as usual for Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above in a file photo with the president).

He is a central figure in the impeachment inquiry. He is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors. But throughout the building controversy, Mr. Giuliani has continued to represent clients, broker deals and take on consulting contracts in Washington and around the world in ways that leave him subject to criticism that he is using his role as President Trump’s personal lawyer to open doors to the government and influence policy despite the questions about his own conduct.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani secured a meeting, along with some other defense lawyers, with the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division and attorneys in the fraud section. They were there to discuss a foreign bribery case for a client that Mr. Giuliani described as “very, very sensitive.”

Mr. Giuliani declined to divulge any details about the meeting, except to say it had nothing to do with legal issues facing him or Mr. Trump. Days after the meeting, it was revealed that Mr. Giuliani was under investigation himself for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani may have just taken Bill Barr down with him, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. Attorney General Bill Barr, even amid reports that he’s been hopping the globe while trying to breathe life into Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories, has largely managed to avoid the spotlight in Trump’s Ukraine scandal – until now. It turns out Rudy william barr at dojGiuliani dragged Barr’s Department of Justice into his Ukraine crime spree, in a manner which could only possibly have been signed off on by Barr, left, and now its all coming out.

dmytro firtashOver the past few days it’s become apparent that Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash, right, has been bankrolling the entire Ukraine scandal. Rudy Giuliani now admits he was on the payroll of the recently arrested Lev Parnas, amid reports that Parnas was in turn being bankrolled by Firtash. On Friday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Firtash was also paying Trump-connected lawyers Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to manufacture phony Biden scandals.

But then on Friday night, the New York Times dropped the biggest bombshell of all, and it brings us back to Bill Barr.

bill palmer report logo headerThe NY Times now says that Rudy Giuliani met with the Department of Justice to discuss his “client in a foreign bribery case” – who is not identified as Firtash but is obviously Firtash – and that the meeting was attended by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. In other words, one of the highest ranking officials at the DOJ met with the target of a DOJ investigation about letting the target of another DOJ investigation off the hook.

Benczkowski is obviously toast. Just the fact that he took this meeting means that he’s exposed himself to criminal liability. Now it comes down to whether or not Benczkowski can demonstrate that he took the meeting because a higher-up instructed him to. That higher-up is almost surely Bill Barr. At this rate Rudy’s cartoonish criminal antics might take everyone in the Trump regime down.

washington post logogeorge kent oWashington Post, Diplomat tells investigators he raised alarms in 2015 about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine work but was rebuffed, John Hudson, Rachael Bade and Matt Viser, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). George Kent, right, a deputy assistant secretary of state, was told in 2015 that then-Vice President Joe Biden didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with the matter, said people familiar with his testimony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mick Mulvaney may have just given away that there are Trump tapes, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. Alert Palmer Report reader Joshua Vandamm messaged me with the following excerpt from the transcript of the White House presser of 17 October with Mick Mulvaney.

bill palmer report logo headerToward the end of the presser, in discussing the now infamous conversation with Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, Mulvaney says, “Let me ask you mick mulvaney djt 2 Smallthis: If we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Is Mulvaney here admitting that the conversation was taped?

Oh Lordy, I hope so.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump Will Not Be On the 2020 Ballot: Considerations for Stakeholders, Rob Kall (publisher and editor), Oct. 19, 2019. It's becoming even more clear, since I wrote my article, Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon, that Donald Trump will be out of the White House and off the 2020 ballot by the time the Iowa primary comes around.

Just last night, Mitch McConnell distanced himself from Trump by writing an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, critical of Trump's withdrawal from Syria. And Ohio governor John Kasich has come out calling for impeachment. A crescendo is building. Trump will soon be a spittle-soaked footnote in history. So, a lot of people and organizations need to start thinking about a number of things.

Global News: Brexit

washington post logoWashington Post, Parliament votes to withhold full approval of Brexit deal, postponing Boris Johnson’s moment of reckoning, William Booth and Karla Adam​, ​Oct. 19, 2019. British lawmakers voted Saturday to withhold support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal until all the supporting legislation is passed. The vote scuppers Johnson’s hopes to finalize Brexit on an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session.

It was a significant loss for Johnson, left, who had hoped for a Brexit finale in an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session. But it is not a boris johnson hand up unsourcedfatal blow against his deal. Minutes after the vote, Johnson pledged to the House of Commons, “no delays.” The prime minister said he would seek approval of his Brexit deal in a session in the coming week.

Based on previous legislation, passed months ago, Johnson is now required to formally seek a three-month extension from the European Union.

Johnson began his remarks on Saturday by thanking lawmakers for gathering on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, the first time in a united kingdom flaggeneration, since Britain fought in the Falklands.

Underscoring how the country remains deeply divided on Brexit, thousands of protesters spilled into London from across the county to demand a second referendum. For more than a year, polls have shown that if there were a countrywide “do over vote,” Britons would, by a narrow margin, opt to stay in the E.U.

  • New York Times, A Day of Reckoning for Boris Johnson’s Brexit Plan, Oct. 19, 2019.

State Probe Clears Clinton

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Department probe of Clinton emails finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information, Greg Miller​, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The years-long inquiry is an anticlimactic end to a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 campaign.

hillary clinton twitterA multiyear State Department probe of emails that were sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server concluded there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees, according to a report submitted to Congress this month.

The report appears to represent a final and anticlimactic chapter in a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 presidential campaign and exposed Clinton to fierce criticism that she later cited as a major factor in her loss to President Trump.

In the end, State Department investigators found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures — none involving material that had been marked classified — in a review of roughly 33,000 emails that had been sent to or from the personal computer system Clinton used.

Trump Probe of Mueller Witnesses

ny times logoNew York Times, Review of Russia Inquiry Grows as F.B.I. Witnesses Are Questioned, Adam Goldman and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 19, 2019.  Federal prosecutors reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation have asked witnesses pointed questions about any anti-Trump bias among former F.B.I. officials who are frequent targets of President Trump and about the earliest steps they took in the Russia inquiry, according to former officials and other people familiar with the review.

The prosecutors, ljohn durhamed by John H. Durham, right, the United States attorney in Connecticut, have interviewed about two dozen former and current F.B.I. officials, the people said. Two former senior F.B.I. agents are assisting with the review, the people said.

The number of interviews shows that Mr. Durham’s review is further along than previously known. It has served as a political flash point since Attorney General William P. Barr revealed in the spring that he planned to scrutinize the beginnings of the Russia investigation, which Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked without evidence as a plot by law enforcement and intelligence officials to prevent him from winning the 2016 election.

Closely overseen by Mr. Barr, Mr. Durham and his investigators have sought help from governments in countries that figure into right-wing attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation, stirring criticism that they are trying to deliver Mr. Trump a political victory rather than conducting an independent review.

Mr. Durham has yet to interview all the F.B.I. officials who played key roles in opening the Russian investigation in the summer of 2016, the people familiar with the review said. He peter strzokhas not spoken with Peter Strzok, left, a former top counterintelligence official who opened the inquiry; the former director James B. Comey or his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe; or James A. Baker, then the bureau’s general counsel.

Those omissions suggest Mr. Durham may be waiting until he has gathered all the facts before he asks to question the main decision makers in the Russia inquiry. The president granted Mr. Barr sweeping powers for the review, though he did not open it as a criminal investigation. That means he gave Mr. Durham the power only to read materials the government had already gathered and to request voluntary interviews from witnesses, not to subpoena witnesses or documents. It is not clear whether the status of the review has changed.

nora dannehy doj photoMr. Durham’s team, including Nora R. Dannehy, right, a veteran prosecutor, has questioned witnesses about why Mr. Strzok both drafted and signed the paperwork opening the investigation, suggesting that was unusual for one person to take both steps. Mr. Strzok began the inquiry after consulting with F.B.I. leadership, former michael horwitz headshotofficials familiar with the episode said.

Many of the questions from Mr. Durham’s team overlapped with ones that the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, left, has posed in his own look into aspects of the Russia inquiry, according to the people.

Mr. Horowitz’s report, which is most likely to be made public in the coming weeks, is expected to criticize law enforcement officials’ actions in the Russia investigation. Mr. Horowitz’s findings could provide insights into why Mr. Barr thought that the Russia investigation needed to be examined.

Oct. 18

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, After two weeks of closed-door testimony, a clearer portrait of Trump’s role emerges, Ashley Parker, Oct. 18, 2019. Despite weeks of denials from President Trump and his defenders, a growing body of evidence details how Trump repeatedly pushed both the U.S. and Ukrainian governments to intervene in domestic political concerns. 

 nancy pelosi djt oct 16 2019 cropped2

Nancy Pelosi gestures at President Trump during a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. (Via President Trump's Twitter)

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A staggering accusation and the moment Pelosi and Trump’s relationship shattered, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 18, 2019. The now-famous photo captured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing up in the Cabinet Room, pointing her finger at a visibly angry President Trump, and, in her telling, questioning his loyalty to the country he leads.

Why, she asked, did he withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — a geopolitical calculation that allowed a toehold in northern Syria for Russian President Vladimir Putin?

Why, she asked with lawmakers and aides watching and a White House photographer snapping away, do “all roads lead to Putin”? With that, Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday, she left the White House meeting Wednesday.

It was a staggering accusation from one constitutional officer to another, and it marked the moment that a relationship once marked by elements of mutual esteem finally shattered, after multiple heated confrontations, into absolute mutual disdain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘Get over it’: Mulvaney puts Trump at the center of controversies about emoluments and Ukraine, Toluse Olorunnipa, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney embraced a Trumpian tactic: saying the previously unsaid — and potentially illegal — part out loud.

mick mulvaney omb SmallFirst came the lengthy infomercial touting President Trump’s private golf resort in Florida as “far and away the best” site in the country to host next year’s Group of Seven summit of world leaders. Then, an admission: Trump did, in fact, withhold aid to Ukraine because he wanted the government there to investigate Democrats.

For 39 minutes Thursday, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, turned the press briefing room into a sort of confession chamber, openly admitting to several acts that could deepen the legal predicament for the president. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry into whether he has abused his office for personal and political gain.

Mulvaney’s retort to those charges came in a three-word mantra that now forms the central theme of the White House impeachment response: “Get over it.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like two more of Rudy Giuliani’s associates are about to go down, Bill Palmer, Oct. 18, 2019. Over the past week two people who worked directly with Rudy Giuliani in his Ukraine scandal, and two other people indirectly associated with the scandal, have been indicted and arrested. This has come amid one media leak after another that points to the Feds having amassed a treasure trove of financial evidence against Rudy himself. Now two more of Rudy’s associates in the Ukraine scandal look like they’re about to go down.

dmytro firtashOver the past week it’s become clear that imprisoned Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, right, has been bankrolling Rudy Giuliani’s scheme to promote fake scandals about Joe Biden. In fact Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were en route to Vienna, where Firtash is under house arrest, at the time of their arrest – and Giuliani was also planning to travel to Vienna at the time his associates were arrested. Firtash was reportedly funding Parnas’ company, and Rudy was reportedly on its payroll.

bill palmer report logo headerThis brings us to this afternoon’s Bloomberg report that Firtash hired Trump allies Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to make up dirt about Biden last year. Firtash recently hired the pair as his attorneys, but this new information suggests that he’s been employing them for nefarious purposes all along. If they failed to register as foreign agents, they can be indicted for FARA violations accordingly.

It’s not just that two more of Rudy Giuliani’s associates are apparently about to go down. It’s that DiGenova and Toensing are particularly close to Donald Trump. Chris Wallace reported last month that the two were working “off the books” to help Trump and Rudy in the Ukraine scandal. Before that, Trump came within inches of hiring DiGenova and Toensing as his own personal attorneys back in 2018. Now the two appear to be in very real danger of going down.

Trump Watch

ny times logowilliam mcraven 2012New York Times, Opinion: Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President, William H. McRaven, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Admiral McRaven, right, is a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command. If Donald Trump doesn’t show the leadership that we need, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office, writes a former Special Operations commander.

If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?

djt trump doral Small

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Will Host Next G7 at His Doral Resort, Katie Rogers and Eric Lipton, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Trump’s decision to host the economic summit at his luxury resort in Miami is sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration. “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,” the acting White House chief of staff said, dismissing questions over the propriety of the president’s picking his own hotel.

g 7 logo 2019 franceBut House Democrats said the president’s choice of his own hotel was just the latest example of Mr. Trump using his office to promote his business interests.

“The administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit [the last was in France] is among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with drawing up articles of impeachment against the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says Trump resort will host G-7 at cost but doesn’t say how much that will be, David A. Fahrenthold, Michael Birnbaum and Joshua Partlow​, Oct. 18, 2019. For the president, the potential benefits of awarding himself the summit include international media exposure — putting Trump Doral on televisions around the world.

The Hill, Allegations of bed bugs at Trump's Doral resort swarm Twitter, Jessica Campisi, Oct. 18, 2019. The hashtag #BedBugSummit trended on Twitter djt trump doral SmallFriday due to allegations of past infestation at President Trump’s resort in Doral, Fla., right. The news resurfaced following the announcement that the U.S. will host next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit at the Trump property.

In the day after White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that the 2020 G-7 summit would take place at Trump National Doral, nearly 30,000 tweets had been sent using the hashtag.

Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, a songwriter and founder of the Blue Wave Crowdsource — an organization that aims to support Democratic candidates — tweeted a January 2017 Miami Herald article covering a lawsuit against Trump Doral over bedbugs.

"Bring the leaders of the free world to Doral, he said. What could go wrong, he said," she tweeted.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) tweeted that the “#BedBugSummit is a clear violation of the emoluments clause” of the Constitution.

Other tweets knocked Trump for selecting his own property for the event. The decision to hold the major international summit at a property owned by Trump’s family quickly spurred outrage from the president’s critics who argue that Trump is looking to enrich his family's brand by bringing world leaders to the resort.

Democrats and watchdog groups have continued to raise concerns about Trump's frequent use of his properties during his presidency.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: How Did Gordon Sondland Think This Was Going to End? Michelle Goldberg, right, Oct. 18, 2019. He paid $1 million for an ambassadorship and bought himself disgrace. Ever since Donald Trump began his nightmarish political ascent, some psychologists have been warning us, with increasing urgency, about what it means to have a malignant narcissist in power. In many cases, they’ve been more accurate about the trajectory of the last three years than the Washington hands who assumed Donald Trump would be gordon sondland oconstrained by our institutions.

But the people whose psychology I really want to understand are those like Gordon Sondland, right, the ambassador to the European Union who is now trying to squirm out of responsibility for his role in the Ukraine scandal.

A wealthy hotelier, he seems to want the respect and admiration of the world outside the MAGA bubble, and he knew going into the administration that Trump was trash. Though a lifelong Republican, in 2016 Sondland and a business partner withdrew their support for Trump over the candidate’s attacks on the family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, saying that Trump’s “constantly evolving positions diverge from their personal beliefs and values on so many levels.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pompeo just set himself up to be the scapegoat, Bill Palmer, Oct. 18, 2019. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is one of Donald Trump’s most personally loyal remaining cabinet members. Yet the majority of the witnesses who have sold Trump out to the House impeachment inquiry thus far have come from Pompeo’s State Department. He can’t mike pompeo portraitstop any of it from happening, and now he just opened his mouth and set himself up to be the scapegoat at a time when Trump is actively looking for one.

Mike Pompeo, right, is obviously the source for a new CNN article which asserts that he wanted to do something to stop Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani from corruptly running roughshod over U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine – but after Pompeo saw John Bolton getting fired for internally sounding the alarm, he was afraid to do the same.

bill palmer report logo headerThis isn’t going to get Pompeo any sympathy from the public, as he’s admitting that he was too much of a coward to stand up to the Trump-Rudy corruption racket. If anything this sounds more like an attempt at a legal defense, as Pompeo is arguing that he didn’t have much choice but to go along with the criminal scheme that his boss wanted carried out.

The thing is, why leak this now? By putting it out there that he (supposedly) wanted to stop Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani from doing what they were doing, he’s essentially jumping up and down and waving his arms at a time when Trump is busy looking within his own ranks for someone to scapegoat. Is Pompeo trying to get word to the House impeachment inquiry (and to federal prosecutors) that he’s open to coming in from out of the cold? In any case, Pompeo fed this narrative to CNN for a reason. We’ll all find out what it is soon enough.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: White House, Rick Perry face deadline for documents in Trump impeachment inquiry; GOP effort to censure Schiff delayed until next week, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 18, 2019. Deposition of Defense Department official pushed back.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump to nominate Energy Dept. deputy Dan Brouillette to succeed Rick Perry as secretary, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 18, 2019. Perry is embroiled in President Trump’s Ukraine controversy because he urged the president to call the new Ukrainian president over the summer. Perry said his departure has nothing to do with that.

President Trump on Friday said he intends to nominate Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s deputy, Dan Brouillette, to succeed him at the helm of the agency. Trump announced the personnel decision by Twitter Friday, touting Brouillette’s “unparalleled” experience in the energy sector.
Perry, whose been in the role since the beginning of the Trump administration, announced Thursday he’d be leaving the job by the end of the year.

Brouillette has served as deputy energy secretary since August 2017. He had worked for the agency 14 years prior as assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs in the George W. Bush administration. In between, Brouillette was a top lobbyist for the Ford Motor Company and then the head of public policy for USAA, financial institution for military families.

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

Bloomberg, To Win Giuliani’s Help, Oligarch’s Allies Pursued Biden Dirt, Stephanie Baker and Irina Reznik, Oct. 18, 2019. Associates of a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani’s help in the oligarch’s legal case, according to three people familiar with the exchanges.

Dmitry Firtash, right, charged with conspiracy by the U.S. and living in Vienna, shuffled lawyers in July to add Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, vocal supporters of President Donald Trump who had worked with Giuliani. Around that time, some of Firtash’s associates began to use his broad network dmytro firtashof Ukraine contacts to get damaging information on Biden, the people said.

DiGenova and Toensing have billed Firtash about $1 million for their work, one of the people said. That includes costs for Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate, as a translator and important contact, the person said. Parnas was arrested last week along with several associates and accused of conspiring to violate campaign-finance laws.

ukraine flagPeople working on Firtash’s behalf collected a witness statement from Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian prosecutor-general. The statement, dated early September, helped Giuliani renew an assertion that he’d been advancing for months -- that Biden had tried in 2016 to sway Ukrainian politics to help his son. U.S. and Ukrainian officials have disputed Shokin’s account.

Shokin, though, had been promised his statement wouldn’t be made public, according to the people. Giuliani went on to cite it repeatedly, waving it around on cable news as evidence of Biden’s alleged corruption. The Hill and other media outlets provided links to it, with Giuliani later suggesting he had a role in making it public. “This is the affidavit I put out,” he said during a Fox News interview this month.

As a result of the publicity Giuliani generated with Shokin’s statement, two of the people said they believe the odds of the Justice Department dropping the case against Firtash have plummeted, because it would look like a quid pro quo. Others connected to the case agreed.

Oct. 17

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoelijah cummings oWashington Post, Elijah Cummings: 1951–2019: Democratic leader, forceful Trump opponent dies at 68, Jenna Portnoy, Oct. 17, 2019. A congressman from Maryland, he gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House. He chaired the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee and helped lead the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell tells Senate Republicans to prepare for impeachment trial, Rachael Bade and Erica Werner, Oct. 17, 2019. In a PowerPoint mitch mcconnell2presentation, the Senate majority leader said the trial could begin as soon as Thanksgiving and may require six days of meetings a week.

An air of inevitability has taken hold in Congress, with the expectation Trump will become the third president in history to be impeached — and Republicans believe they need to prepare to defend the president. While McConnell briefed senators on what would happen during a Senate trial, House GOP leaders convened what they expect will be regular impeachment strategy sessions.

In their closed-door weekly luncheon, McConnell, left, gave a PowerPoint presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

nancy pelosi djt oct 16 2019 cropped2Nancy Pelosi gestures at President Trump during a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. (Via President Trump's Twitter)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tried to insult ‘unhinged’ Pelosi with an image. She made it her Twitter cover photo, Meagan Flynn, Oct. 17, 2019. The image was meant to be an insult — “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Trump wrote as a caption. But instead, it ended up as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Twitter cover photo.

The photo is striking: Pelosi (D-Calif.), in electric blue, the only woman visible at the table, standing across from a homogeneous row of men, pointing her finger at the president.

To Democrats, what the photo conveyed was clear: the speaker “literally standing up to the president” after the House overwhelmingly voted to condemn his decision to pull out of northern Syria. The stunning moment marked the latest episode in the long-running theatrical feud between Pelosi and the president, ending, like others, with the Democratic leader reclaiming Trump’s insult as a badge of pride.

Trump’s “unhinged meltdown” comment, which he tweeted with the photo, came after Pelosi walked out on a White House meeting regarding Trump’s decision to pull troops out of northern Syria, leaving Kurdish fighters previously allied with the U.S. vulnerable to a Turkish offensive. House lawmakers voted 354-60-4 to denounce Trump’s decision in a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, both Pelosi and Trump said they were praying for each other now, each somehow managing to transform a religious offering into an insult. “Pray for her, she is a very sick person!” Trump tweeted, just after releasing the photo of Pelosi pointing at him.

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gordon sondland oNew York Times, Ambassador to E.U. Testifies That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 17, 2019. Gordon Sondland, right, told investigators that he disagreed as President Trump involved Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, in diplomacy with Kiev.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 17, 2019. After vowing not to cooperate with a “kangaroo court,” President Trump has largely failed to prevent current and former administration members from doing so.

The White House’s trenchant declaration to House impeachment investigators last week was unequivocal: No more witnesses or documents for a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”

But just a week later, it has become clear that President Trump’s attempts to stonewall the Democrat-led inquiry that has imperiled his presidency and ensnared much of his inner circle are crumbling.

One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump, GOP Conflicts

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Will Host Next G7 at His Doral Resort, Katie Rogers, Oct. 17, 2019. President Trump’s decision to host the economic summit at his luxury resort in Miami is sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration. Hosting the Group of 7 meeting at a Trump property could provide a windfall for the Trump Organization and raise the resort’s profile around the world.

mick mulvaney omb SmallPresident Trump will host next year’s Group of 7 meeting next June at Trump Doral, his luxury resort near Miami, the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, right, told reporters on Thursday.

“‘It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,’” Mr. Mulvaney said during a press briefing, quoting what he said an unnamed official had told him before quickly saying that the issue was not a conflict of interest. “The president has made it clear since he’s been here that he hasn’t profited since he’s been here.”

The decision to host the summit at the Trump National Doral Miami Golf Club is almost sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration who would see an immediate conflict of interest. Hosting the Group of 7 meeting of world leaders at a Trump property could provide a windfall for the Trump Organization and raise the resort’s profile around the world.

“Donald Trump’s brand is strong as it is,” Mr. Mulvaney said when asked about possible criticism. “It’s the most recognized name in the English language.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell and Questions of Conflict, Editorial Board, Oct. 17, 2019. Congress wants answers from the transportation secretary, wife of the Senate majority leader. In recent months, yet another top official has drawn scrutiny over allegations of old-style conflicts of interest: Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation and the wife of the Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

elaine chao oOn Friday, Representative Peter DeFazio, the Oregon Democrat who heads the House Transportation Committee, asked the Transportation Department’s in-house watchdog to look into whether Ms. Chao, right, has been showing inappropriate favoritism to her husband’s Kentucky constituents.

Mr. DeFazio expressed particular concern about reports by Politico that Ms. Chao had tapped a top staffer to serve as a special liaison for Kentucky grant requests and other issues related to the state — the agency has denied this — and that she has held a disproportionate number of meetings with officials from the state.

According to an analysis by Politico, in her first 14 months as transportation secretary, one in four of the scheduled meetings with local officials on Ms. Chao’s calendar were with Kentuckians. (The two states next on the list, Indiana and Georgia, accounted for only 6 percent each.) Some of the meetings were set up at the request of McConnell staff members, who let his wife’s office know which officials were “friends” or “loyal supporters.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Remaining Silent About Corruption Should Not Be an Optiion, Margaret Garnett and Preet Bharara (right), Oct. 17, 2019. New York City requires its employees to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, and that approach is working.

preet bharara SmallWe know from the work we did as prosecutors and investigators that whistle-blowers are essential to exposing corruption and holding the corrupt accountable. But with few exceptions, the law imposes no general obligation on citizens to report criminal activity to authorities.

A “duty to report” is rare in American law. Mostly you may simply avert your eyes, keep your mouth shut and suffer no consequence. The rare exceptions concern particularly vulnerable populations like children, which is why teachers, doctors and other caregivers have a legal obligation to report credible evidence of child abuse.

Ms. Garnett is the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Investigation. Mr. Bharara is a former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. 

Oct. 16

Explosive Trump Teen Rape Claim
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Newsweek, Trump Teen Rape Allegation Resurfaces, Ronan Farrow Claims National Enquirer Tried to Protect Him in New Book, Tufayel Ahmed, Oct. 16, 2019. Amid behind-the-scenes details of his explosive reporting on Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct, Ronan Farrow's new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators claims ronan farrowthat American Media Inc. (AMI), the former publisher of the National Enquirer, tried to help Donald Trump bury allegations he raped a teenager in 1994.

ronan farrow catch and kill CustomFarrow claims in the book that AMI CEO David Pecker was in close contact with Trump when the rape allegations were made public in a 2016 lawsuit, and that then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard assured Trump's personal lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, "that they would track down the woman with the rape allegation and see what they could do about her." An AMI spokesperson told Newsweek Tuesday that Farrow's claims are "completely untrue."

AMI has been accused in the past of purchasing potentially damaging stories about Trump in order to keep them from becoming public—a practice known in the industry as "catch and kill." Last December, AMI admitted that in 2016 it made a $150,000 payment "in concert" with Trump's election campaign to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who allegedly had an affair with Trump a decade earlier. The publisher made the pact with McDougal "in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

At the crux of the lawsuit filed against Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election were claims that Trump raped a woman when she was 13 years old in 1994. At the time, Trump's lawyer Alan Garten responded to the lawsuit saying that the allegations are "categorically untrue."

katie johnson jane doe laThe anonymous plaintiff — identified only as "Katie Johnson" in an initial legal filing that was dismissed in California, and "Jane Doe" in two subsequent legal filings in New York —said that she was raped by Trump during a party hosted by the now-deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at his New York City apartment. In the third and final lawsuit, Doe (shown at right with her face pixilated) alleged she had numerous sexual encounters with Trump and Epstein at the latter's parties and said she was also raped by Epstein, as BuzzFeed News reported at the time.

Among the lurid details of the lawsuit, Jane Doe alleged Trump tied her to a bed, "forcibly raped" her and threatened her and her family with physical harm, if not death, if she told anyone about the assault. "I understood that Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew that I was 13 years old," Jane Doe wrote in an affidavit.

Farrow alleges that after the suit was filed in September 2016, Enquirer editor Howard and Trump lawyer Cohen were in contact frequently. (Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last December on charges including campaign finance violations for his part in hush payments to McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.)

Editors' note: The Justice Integrity Project and Wayne Madsen Report wrote extensively about this case in a joint investigation and three-part series first published in January 2018, with the themes illustated by the graphic below.

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic maria

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney emerges as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure Ukraine, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Greg Jaffe, Oct. 16, 2019. In late May, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting that stripped control of the country’s relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise at the National Security Council and the State Department.

mick mulvaney omb SmallInstead, Mulvaney, right, put an unlikely trio in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new priority, congressional officials said Tuesday: pressuring the fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be politically valuable to President Trump.

The work of those “three amigos,” as they came to call themselves — diplomats Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, plus Energy Secretary Rick Perry — has come to light in recent days through newly disclosed text messages and the testimony of government witnesses appearing before an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani pressed Trump to eject Muslim cleric from U.S., a top priority of Turkish president, Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Rudolph W. Giuliani privately urged President Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States, a rudy giulianitop priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to multiple former administration officials familiar with the discussions.

Giuliani, right, a Trump ally who later became the president’s personal attorney, repeatedly argued to Trump that the U.S. government should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to describe private conversations.

Turkey has demanded that the United States turn over Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen has denied involvement in the plot.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: "America's Mayor" is a criminal with a long rap sheet, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 16, 2019. Former New rudy giuliani recentYork Mayor and Donald Trump’s “television lawyer” Rudolph Giuliani is being criminally investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of wayne madesen report logoNew York (SDNY) – the position Giuliani once held – for fraud and racketeering violations.

Nevertheless, the alt-right, including the “libertarian right,” have rallied to support Giuliani, right, claiming the criminal investigation of his illegal activities in Ukraine and Turkey amount to nothing more than a political “witch hunt.” 

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo adviser to decry politicization of State Dept. in impeachment probe testimony, Carol Morello and John Hudson​, Oct. 16, 2019. Michael McKinley, the senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo until his sudden resignation last week, will tell House investigators that career diplomats were mistreated and that some had their careers derailed for political reasons, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: George Kent’s impeachment testimony yesterday was apparently devastating to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2019. State Department official george kent oGeorge Kent testified behind closed doors yesterday to the House impeachment inquiry, the third current or former member of the Trump administration to testify over the past few days. We haven’t seen as many details leak out about Kent’s testimony thus far – but the few details that have surfaced appear to be devastating to Donald Trump.

Kent, right, is the State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary and thus the highest ranking member of the Trump administration to testify in the impeachment inquiry to date. He testified yesterday that after he raised concerns about the Ukraine extortion plot, a “supervisor” told him to “lie low,” according to Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly, who was in the hearing. Why is this important?

bill palmer report logo headerFor one thing, given his high ranking position, Kent doesn’t have a lot of “supervisors” at the State Department. So this means one of the highest ranking officials in the State Department ordered him to stay quiet about what he’d seen and heard. Not only does this establish a coverup and thus establish consciousness of guilt, it’s clear that the coverup went to some of the highest levels in the Trump regime. There’s no possible way that Donald Trump didn’t know about this coverup attempt.

George Kent also testified that Rudy Giuliani’s antics undermined “twenty-eight years” of U.S. foreign policy efforts in Ukraine, dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union. So not only did Kent establish that the Trump regime made a forceful attempt at a coverup, he established that Donald Trump’s henchman Giuliani did a historic level of damage by carrying out Trump’s corrupt extortion scheme.

Scandals At Veterans Administration

Associated Press via Military Times, Trump mulled order to close parts of VA health system, Shulkin says in new book, Hope Yen, Oct. 16, 2019. Eager for changes at the Department of ap logodavid shulkinVeterans Affairs, President Donald Trump toyed early on with issuing an executive order to close parts of the VA health system without consulting Congress, according to an upcoming book by his former VA secretary.

david shulkin bookIn the book, obtained by The Associated Press, David Shulkin, right, describes a March 6, 2017, conversation in the Oval Office where Trump explored ways his administration could act quickly to shutter government-run VA medical centers that he viewed as poorly performing.

Trump was fresh off his 2016 campaign in which privatizing VA had become a political hot button after he pledged to steer more veterans to private-sector doctors outside the VA. He had said the VA was the “the most corrupt” and “probably the most incompetently run” Cabinet department. Democrats and major veterans’ groups oppose “privatization” and say VA facilities are best-suited to treat battlefield injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the meeting, Trump asked whether “we should begin to close the VAs,” according to the book. Legislation prohibited that, so Shulkin responded that the VA was working with Congress to set up a system-wide review to address underperforming facilities, whether by fixing or closing.

“But this takes time,” Shulkin said.

Oct. 15

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update   

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy to personally benefit Trump, ex-adviser testifies, Karoun Demirjian, Shane Harris and Rachael Bade​, Oct. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Fiona Hill, who resigned from her National Security Council post earlier this year, told lawmakers that Rudolph W. Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats.

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Tuesday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer (and shown together with the president in a file photo), ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career fiona hilldiplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according a person familiar with her testimony.

Hill, shown left in a file photo, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of military aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she explained, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy, this person said on the condition of anonymity to disclose details her deposition.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment crisis shines a spotlight on Trump’s state of mind, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Oct. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The president has bullied and projected, portrayed himself as a victim and struck an authoritarian tone as he battles the biggest threat to his presidency so far.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House Democrats to huddle about the accelerating Trump impeachment inquiry, John Wagner​, Oct. 15, 2019.  As they return from recess, lawmakers have summoned another key State Department official to testify behind closed doors on Tuesday about the Ukraine controversy.

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

In a television interview that aired Tuesday, Hunter Biden conceded that it might have been a mistake to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president but insisted that he did not have an “ethical lapse.” He accused Giuliani and Trump of pressing “a ridiculous conspiracy” related to his tenure.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump hits 13,435 misleading or false claims as day 1,000 draws near, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Oct. 15, 2019. The president has significantly stepped up his pace of spouting exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasts and outright falsehoods, with the Ukraine fallout playing a big role in the uptick.

Transitions

washington post logoWashington Post, Rudy Giuliani’s latest divorce is bitter, expensive and very public, Roxanne Roberts​, Oct. 15, 2019. Giuliani’s private life has been splashed across New York tabloids for decades, and the lawyer representing his estranged wife thinks Giuliani is concealing money while working pro bono for President Trump. As a central figure in the Ukraine impeachment scandal, the exact nature of Giuliani’s clients and income is of interest to more than divorce lawyers.

“My divorce is my personal business,” Giuliani texted me last week. “I feel betrayed by a man that I supported in every way for more than 20 years,” Judith Giuliani told the New York Times last month. “I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.”

There’s never a good time for a nasty split, but perhaps this is the very worst of times for Giuliani. Giuliani, 75, is leaving this marriage the same way he entered it: with blaring headlines, tabloid updates and so much drama.

“He digs it,” says Ken Frydman, spokesman for his 1993 mayoral campaign. “He loves the attention. It’s sport for him — and a lack of judgment.”

In May 2000, New York’s two-term mayor called a news conference and announced a separation from his second wife, television anchor Donna Hanover. It was also a public acknowledgment of his year-long relationship with Judith Nathan, whom he praised as a “very, very fine woman.” The separation, however, was allegedly a surprise to his wife, who said she found out her 16-year marriage was ending by watching television.

A surprise, but also not surprising: Hanover started dating Giuliani when he was married to his first wife, Regina Peruggi. An eternal mystery: When the mistress becomes the wife, why is she shocked when another mistress enters the scene? (“Job opening,” goes the old joke.) The New York papers alluded to other indiscretions, but nothing serious became public until the infamous news conference.

Judith Giuliani, 64, receives $42,000 a month in alimony, an amount she claims is peanuts compared with the $230,000 per month they spent as a couple, according to the New York Times. Her lawyer, Bernard Clair, reported that Giuliani earned millions working at the law firm Greenberg Traurig: Almost $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017. He also claims that by working pro bono for Trump, his client’s husband is deliberately concealing income and working with people who will have to “reimburse him” at a later date.

Giuliani, on the other hand, is pleading poverty. Because he is working for free and paying his own expenses, his lawyer says he can’t afford to support his wife in the lifestyle to which she became accustomed and had to borrow money to pay taxes.

Oct. 14

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update   

washington post logoWashington Post, FEC chair warns charges against Giuliani associates ‘just the tip of the iceberg,’ Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 14, 2019. Yet the agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws has been effectively paralyzed since the departure of its Republican vice chair in August.

ellen weintraubFederal Elections Commission (FEC) Chair Ellen Weintraub, right, says the charges against two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer for scheming to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“There may well be a lot of money that is slipping into our system that we just don’t know about,” Weintraub said in a Friday interview.

And the question of whether Trump acted inappropriately by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden is at the core of the House's impeachment inquiry.

But the FEC is effectively paralyzed: The agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws has not been able to conduct any formal business since the departure of its Republican vice chair in August. It needs a quorum to function — and Trump has yet to appoint a fourth commissioner. Weintraub, a Democrat who has chaired the commission three times since her 2002 appointment by President George W. Bush, is very concerned — and says voters should be, too.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Impeachment Inquiry Live Updates, John Wagner​, Oct. 14, 2019. ​Trump renews call to unmask whistleblower; Hunter Biden does TV interview after decision to leave Chinese firm’s board, House investigators are preparing to hear from key witnesses in the impeachment probe this week, including the White House’s former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill today.

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment crisis shines a spotlight on Trump’s state of mind, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Oct. 14, 2019. The president has bullied and projected, portrayed himself as a victim and struck an authoritarian tone as he battles the biggest threat to his presidency so far.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat suggests committee may not press whistleblower to testify in person, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 14, 2019 (print ed.).  adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, said protecting the identity of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine is “our primary interest.”

Schiff made the statement in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” He had previously said late last month that he expected his panel to hear from the whistleblower “very soon” pending a security clearance from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Turk-Syrian War Coverage (Cont.)

SouthFront, Analysis: Turkey's Syrian National Army And Myth Of United Syrian Opposition, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 14, 2019. Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring once again drew wide attention not only to the so-called Kurdish question, but also to attempts of Ankara (under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, below left) to create a unified Syrian opposition as an alternative to the Assad government.

According to official Turkish statements, the goal of the operation is to secure the southern Turkish border defeating “the terrorism” and allow up to 2 million of refugees to return to their homes. Nonetheless, there are no doubts that the operation, like previous military actions in the provinces of recep erdogan with flagAleppo, Lattakia and Idlib, will be used by Turkey to expand its own influence.

The Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government headquartered and Turkish-affiliated militant groups would be used as a tool of projecting Turkish military and political influence in the area. The Syrian National Army (SNA) are a brand of militant groups participating in the northeastern Syria offensive. Turkey’s Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield demonstrated that the main goal of such groups is to serve as cannon folder on first line of the battle, while aircraft, battle tanks, artillery and special forces units of the Turkish Armed Forces do the main work. This allows Ankara to pretend that its actions in Syria are not military occupation, but a move needed to return the territory to the moderate Syrian opposition that opposes the ‘illegitimate regime’ of President Bashar al-Assad.

turkey flagIn the area of Greater Idlib, Turkish-backed factions formed the National Front for Liberation in May 2018, which was promoted as a moderate opposition coalition that would limit the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups. Despite claiming to have 70,000 fighters (sic), the coalition immediately lost a struggle for power to its al-Qaeda counterparts and became a subordinate to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In 2018 and 2019, groups from the National Front for Liberation repeatedly supposed al-Qaeda operations against the Syrian Army.

Just a few days ahead of the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey attempted to unite the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. On October 4, the groups even released a statement claiming that they had merged. A few hours after the release, fierce clashes between the groups erupted over properties seized in the Afrin area. This put an end to the unification efforts at least for now.

ny times logokurd flagNew York Times, Syrian War Live Updates, Staff reports, Oct. 14, 2019. Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey, Hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, the Syrian Army entered a key town near the Turkish border — a significant shift in the power dynamic; The European Union member states unanimously agreed to a ban on arms sales to Turkey; Russia’s expanding role in Syria is tempered by risks, analysts say.

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast, David E. Sanger, Oct. 14, 2019. All the warnings were there. But President Trump’s reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State.

President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

Oct. 13

Turk-Kurd War In Syria

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update  

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washington post logoWashington Post, Envoy to say his denial of quid pro quo came from Trump, Aaron C. Davis and John Hudson, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

gordon sondland oSondland, left, plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth,” said the person familiar with Sondland’s planned testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.

The Sept. 9 exchange between Sondland and the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine has become central to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his office in pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The White House and its defenders have held up Sondland’s text, which included “no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” as proof that none was ever considered.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Gordon Sondland has sold Donald Trump out, Bill Palmer, Oct. 12, 2019. It’s not surprising that current U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying to the House impeachment inquiry this upcoming week after Trump originally blocked him from testifying last week. After all, the President Trump on Time Magazine's cover Feb. 27, 2017testimony floodgates are now open. What is more newsworthy is that details are leaking out about what Sondland is planning to say to the House – and it’s not good for Trump.

Gordon Sondland is a Donald Trump ally, but he’s in way over his head. Sondland is facing potential criminal culpability for his role in Trump’s Ukraine scandal, and at this point he’s surely wishing he’d never taken the gig. If he lies to the House, he’ll be indicted for perjury after Trump is gone. If he refuses to testify, he’ll eventually be indicted for obstruction of justice. The only safe way for him to return unscathed to his old life as a hotel financier is to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry as thoroughly as possible.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening the Washington Post is reporting that Gordon Sondland plans to testify that when he told the State Department’s Bill Taylor that there was no quid pro quo, he was merely quoting what Donald Trump told him – and that he has no idea if Trump was telling the truth. This doesn’t incriminate Trump. But it wipes out Trump’s would-be defense that Sondland concurrently agreed with him that there was no quid pro quo. This is huge.

If this news gets back to Donald Trump before Gordon Sondland’s scheduled testimony this Thursday, Trump will surely want to find a way to stop Sondland from testifying. But it’s too late now. Sondland himself is clearly the source for this WaPo story. By putting it out there that he plans to sell Trump out, he’s setting things up so that there would be far too much backlash if Trump did try to pull the plug.

washington post logoWashington Post, How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 13, 2019. Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born emigre, appeared at a dark time in Donald Trump’s djt jr lev parnas ron desantis fundraiser Custompresidential campaign. Less than a month before the election, major GOP donors had been spooked by the revelation that Trump boasted about grabbing women during a recording of the television show “Access Hollywood.”

Parnas (identified in the promo at right as a "steering committee" member with Donald Trump Jr. for a fund-raiser for successful Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis) had never been a player in national Republican politics. But the onetime stockbroker chose that moment to deliver a $50,000 donation to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party, and it quickly opened doors.

The contribution helped propel Parnas and his business partner, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, on an extraordinarily rapid rise into the upper echelon of Trump allies — before they became central figures in the presidential impeachment inquiry.

By spring 2018, the two men had dined with Trump, breakfasted with his son and attended exclusive events at Mar-a-Lago and the White House, all while jetting around the world and spending lavishly, particularly at Trump hotels in New York and Washington. That May, a pro-Trump super PAC reported receiving a $325,000 donation from an energy company the duo had recently formed.

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomAs they scaled the ranks of Trump’s Washington, Parnas and Fruman demonstrated a remarkable facility for capitalizing on their newfound connections, according to people who observed them. They also appeared to be constantly in pursuit of new business ventures — “always hustling,” in the words of one Trump ally who interacted with them.

In 2018, they hired the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to serve as a consultant as they launched a security business — and then helped Giuliani, in turn, reach Ukrainian officials in his quest to find information damaging to Democrats. (See video clip here of Parnas with Giuliani at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC,  along with still photo at right).

During a visit to Israel last summer sponsored by a pro-Israel charity, Parnas and Fruman were “mega-dropping Rudy’s name” as they snapped photos with well-known figures, according to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was also on the trip.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat suggests committee may not press whistleblower to testify in person, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 13, 2019.  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said protecting the identity of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine is “our primary interest.”

Schiff made the statement in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” He had previously said late last month that he expected his panel to hear from the whistleblower “very soon” pending a security clearance from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hunter Biden will step down from board of Chinese firm, attorney says, Felicia Sonmez​, Oct. 13, 2019. Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, said Sunday that he will step down from his position on the board of a Chinese company, a move that comes amid escalating attacks from President Trump.

hunter bidenIn a statement released by his attorney, Hunter Biden, right, also said he would not serve on the boards of foreign-owned companies if his father wins the 2020 china flag Smallpresidential election.

At a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday night, Trump attacked both Bidens in his most personal terms yet, highlighting unsubstantiated claims about Hunter Biden and using profanity to describe Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president.

“Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said. “Hunter, you’re a loser.” Mocking Hunter Biden’s lack of public appearances, Trump bellowed: “Whatever happened to Hunter? Where the hell is he? . . . burisma logoI have an idea for a new T-shirt . . . Where’s Hunter?”

Hunter Biden served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, left, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors on suspicion of abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The media needs to focus on the real corruption, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 13, 2019. Hunter Biden and his father are the victims jennifer rubin new headshotof a smear campaign by the most corrupt president in history, who falsely alleges that Joe Biden intervened in Ukraine to protect his son who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

(“Trump has alleged that Vice President Biden in 2016 threatened to withhold billions of dollars in loan guarantees unless Ukraine fired the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, as a way to quash the probe and help his son. But U.S. and Ukrainian officials said the investigation at the time was dormant and that Shokin was fired for the opposite reason: failing to fight corruption.”)

Hunter Biden is taking a step that no other prospective presidential adult child in recent memory has undertaken. Moreover — and here is the most grossly underreported story of the Trump years — the Trump clan, even those working in the administration, continue to make a mint trading on their father’s name.

Bloomberg notes:

Biden’s pledge to avoid foreign work if his father wins the White House sets him apart from Trump’s children, who have continued working with foreign business partners from Dubai to Indonesia and India while his father sits in the White House. After Trump won the presidency in 2016, he handed the running of the Trump Organization to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, and said they wouldn’t do any new overseas deals.

jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookMeanwhile, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, right, work in the White House without divesting themselves of business holdings or forgoing foreign transactions, thereby raising the possibility in the minds of foreign leaders that the two can be manipulated. The Post reported in February 2018: “Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.”

President Trump unconstitutionally receives the benefits of foreign deals and refuses to release his tax returns that would reveal sources of income. And we’re supposed to be concerned that Hunter Biden, whose father is no longer in office, is serving on a Chinese company’s board? Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

ny times logoNew York Times, James Comey Would Like to Help, Matt Flegenheimer, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The former F.B.I. director wants an end to the Trump presidency. And yes, he knows you might think he caused it. James Comey slumps strategically in restaurants — all 6-foot-8 of him, drooping faux-furtively with his back to the room — and daydreams about deleting the civic-minded Twitter feed where a bipartisan coalition pronounces him a national disgrace.

He sleeps soundly — nine hours a night, he ballparks — and organizes the self-described “unemployed celebrity” chapter of his life around a series of workaday goals. “One of my goals has been to get to 10 consecutive pull-ups,” Mr. Comey (shown in a file photo) said in an interview, legs crossed on the back porch of his stately Virginia home. “I’m at nine now. So, I’ve been doing a lot of pull-ups.”

He writes and thinks and reads and worries from a tidy downstairs office surrounded by the trinkets of his past. What he is doing, exactly, is not entirely clear even to him. Rather than proceed with the standard arc of an erstwhile intelligence leader — think tanks, corporate boards, studied political silence — Mr. Comey has pledged to spend the next 13 months working to FBI logodrive Mr. Trump from power.

The former F.B.I. director, a lover of order, sees little of it in a norm-smashing president spiraling toward impeachment, riffing on “sick and deranged” Democrats at a recent rally and playacting the dialogue of F.B.I. officials like an insult comic. In this concern, Mr. Comey has ample company. In this company, he carries a kind of customized psychic baggage.

“Thanks for giving us Donald Trump,” an older woman heckled recently, adding an expletive as Mr. Comey strolled through a Yale Law School building, where he had come for a talk that focused largely on his fateful 2016 decisions and attendant personal anguish.

“Thank you for the feedback,” he told her.

Oct. 12

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump renews claim that he is immune from criminal investigation in effort to block Manhattan DA probe, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 12, 2019. President Trump on Friday repeated his assertion of sweeping executive immunity — arguing in court that, because he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomTrump’s personal attorneys made the argument in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. They are seeking to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a suit the president filed seeking to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) from obtaining Trump’s tax returns.

“The President is immune from criminal process while in office, and a grand-jury subpoena (a coercive order backed by the State’s threat of contempt) is certainly a form of ‘criminal process,’ ” wrote Trump’s private legal team, led by William Consovoy.

The subpoena in this case was not actually directed at Trump. Vance has subpoenaed the records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, as part of an investigation that appears targeted at possible falsification of business records related to a scheme to silence two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump.

Justice Department log circularIn his filing Friday, Trump returned to an argument that a lower-court judge had already rejected earlier this week. He argued that, as president, he is too important to be prosecuted while in office.

[Justice Department lends its firepower to defend Trump in investigations into his private finances]

And if presidents are too important to be prosecuted, Trump said, then it follows that they must also be too important to be burdened with an investigation by prosecutors.

“If the Court holds that the President is not immune from state criminal process, then Presidents must contend not just with [Vance] but with every state and local prosecutor across the country” seeking to investigate them, Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Only Congress can investigate the president through the impeachment process, Trump argued. He said the Constitution gives the federal government supremacy over the states and prohibits state-level investigations that would eat up the president’s time and sully his prestige.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work, Michael S. Schmidt, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). rudy giuliani recentProsecutors are investigating if Rudy Giuliani, right, President Trump’s lawyer, broke lobbying laws in his Ukraine dealings, people briefed on the inquiry said.

Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, are under scrutiny.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

Justice Department log circularMr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends Giuliani amid reports of federal investigation, John Hudson, Oct. 12, 2019. The president’s support comes a day after he seemed to put distance between himself and the former mayor when asked if Rudy Giuliani still worked for him as a personal attorney.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Personally Pushed to Remove Ukraine Envoy, She Tells House, Sharon LaFraniere and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine despite her boss saying she had “done nothing wrong,” she told House impeachment investigators. In scathing testimony indicting President Trump’s conduct of foreign policy, she warned that private interests have usurped diplomats’ judgment.

marie yovanovitchMarie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine in May, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

In a closed-door deposition that could further fuel calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, Ms. Yovanovitch delivered a scathing indictment of how his administration conducts foreign policy. She warned that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service. And she said that diplomats no longer have confidence that their government “will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.”

According to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Yovanovitch said she was “incredulous” that she was removed as ambassador “based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

ukraine flagMs. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service and three-time ambassador, spoke to investigators on Capitol Hill even though the State Department had directed her not to late Thursday and in defiance of the White House’s declaration that administration officials would not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. Democrats leading the inquiry said that order amounted to obstruction of their inquiry and quietly issued a subpoena Thursday morning with the understanding that Ms. Yovanovitch would then cooperate.

Her searing account, delivered at the risk of losing her job, could lend new momentum to the impeachment inquiry that imperils Mr. Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The story of Rudy Giuliani, his arrested henchmen, and a Ukrainian oligarch just took an even nastier turn, Bill Palmer, Oct. 12, 2019. When two of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine scandal co-conspirators were arrested this week, they were attempting to flee to Vienna. Then it turned out Rudy was also planning to head to Vienna. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out that they had been planning to rendezvous overseas, before it all went wrong. The question was why they were headed to that city in particular.

dmytro firtashRachel Maddow was the one who pointed out that oligarch Dmytro Firtash, right, is currently being held under house arrest in Vienna. Firtash has ties to Ukraine and ties to Donald Trump’s former henchman Paul Manafort, so it made a lot of sense that Firtash would be the one behind the entire Trump-Rudy plot in Ukraine. Now we’re getting confirmation of precisely that.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of Rudy’s arrested associates, Lev Parnas, actually worked for Dmytro Firtash, according to a new report from Reuters. This explains why Rudy, Parnas, and Igor Fruman were trying to get to Firtash in Vienna as their scheme was falling apart; they were seeking new marching orders.

This comes amid the news that Lev Parnas ran a company called Fraud Guarantee which paid Rudy Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars – meaning that Rudy worked for Parnas and not the other way around. Now we know that Parnas worked for Firtash, which means that Rudy worked for Firtash. That makes Rudy an agent of a foreign government. In other words, Giuliani is in even deeper legal trouble than we thought.

michelle goldberg thumbny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America Exports Its Corruption to Ukraine, Michelle Goldberg, Oct. 12, 2019. Once upon a time, we spread ideals of democracy and rule of law. Now? We send Giuliani. In 2014, Ukraine’s wildly corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia after mass protests on the Maidan, Kiev’s central square.

During what Ukrainians call the Revolution of Dignity, police snipers killed dozens of demonstrators. In the revolution’s aftermath, a number of young idealists decided to plunge into politics, hoping to reform their troubled country from the inside. One of them was Serhiy Leshchenko, at the time perhaps the country’s most famous investigative journalist.

serhiy leshchenko wLeshchenko, left, a lanky, bearded hipster with a passion for rave culture, became part of a cadre of Western-oriented newcomers elected to Parliament, even as he continued to work as a journalist exposing corruption. This year, after Volodymyr Zelensky won the presidential election, Leshchenko advised him during the transition.

rudy giuliani recentThen Rudy Giuliani, right, began attacking Leshchenko as a conspirator against America.

In 2016, Leshchenko had helped expose the “black ledger,” an accounting book of hundreds of pages found in Yanukovych’s former party headquarters. Among its many entries, it showed $12.7 million in secret payments to Paul Manafort. At the time, Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but before that, he was one of Yanukovych’s most important advisers.

One of the reasons Manafort, below at left in a mug shot, is in federal prison is that he failed to disclose or pay taxes on millions of dollars from Ukraine. But if you believe Giuliani, the black ledger was part of a plot to damage Trump.

paul manafort mugDuring a Fox News appearance on May 10, Giuliani described the ledger as a “falsely created book” and Leshchenko as part of a group of “enemies of the president, in some cases enemies of the United States.” Last month, in an epic, ranting interview on CNN, he accused Ukraine’s leading anti-corruption organization, the Anti-Corruption Action Center, or AntAC, of developing “all of the dirty information that ended up being a false document that was created in order to incriminate Manafort.”

In Giuliani’s fevered alternative reality, Ukraine’s most stalwart foes of corruption are actually corruption’s embodiment. Deeply compromised figures with vendettas against the activists — particularly the ex-prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko — are transformed into heroes.

Inside DC

washington post logokevin mcaleenan o Custom 2Washington Post, McAleenan steps down as acting DHS secretary, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Kevin McAleenan, right, was frustrated with President Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles. More hardline figures attacked him as insufficiently committed to Trump’s immigration agenda, and critics of those policies argued he gave cover to harsh measures.

Turk-Kurd War In Syria

ny times logoNew York Times, Syrian Arab Fighters Backed by Turkey Kill Two Kurdish Prisoners, Ben Hubbard, Karam Shoumali, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 12, 2019. The killings, one of them caught on video, raised the specter of wider sectarian warfare as fighting in Syria escalates.

Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters killed at least two Kurdish prisoners on Saturday, one of them lying on the ground with his hands bound behind his back, in a powerful illustration of the forces unleashed by President Trump’s decision to pull back American troops shielding former Kurdish allies in northern Syria.

A video that captured one of the killings shows two of the Turkish-backed group’s fighters firing bullets at close range into the man with his hands tied while their colleagues shout “God is great!” The second prisoner who was killed appears in the video alive and wearing a military uniform, but he is missing from the group’s later social media post about its captives.

“The guy in the military outfit was neutralized,” said Al-Harith Rabah, a media activist with the Arab fighters who was at the scene.

The killing of two Kurdish captives by Arab fighters — a possible war crime — is an indication of the ethnically tinged hatreds flaring in the wake of President Trump’s pullback of American forces in the area. The move cleared the way for a Turkish military incursion into a northern Syria border area aimed at rooting out the Kurdish-led militia that had been the key American-allied ground force helping to wrest territory from the Islamic State.

On Saturday, Turkey and its allied Syrian fighters established a foothold in a strategic Syrian border town, Ras al-Ain, and were gathering to launch an offensive against another, Tel Abyad, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry and a spokesman for the Turkish-backed fighters.

The new hostilities have displaced at least 100,000 people and ignited fears that tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and their relatives held by the Kurds could escape their camps and prisons.

The two captives were killed early Saturday after the militant group Ahrar al-Sharqiyeh, which had entered Syria from Turkey, took control of a main road through the territory and began stopping passing cars, according to Mr. Rabah, the media activist.

When military vehicles belonging to the Kurdish-led militia passed, the militants stopped them, at times getting into clashes, he said.

Also killed on a main road through the territory was Hervin Khalaf, the head of a Kurdish political party. Kurdish officials accused Turkish-allied Arab fighters of attacking her car, a charge a spokesman for the Arab fighters denied.

Mr. Rabah said his group killed nine Kurdish fighters, he said, without specifying whether the two prisoners were among them.

When asked about the video showing the Turkish-allied fighters shooting the bound prisoner, Mr. Rabah grew nervous and said he had been trying to stop them from shooting.

Oct. 11

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

 

Impeachment Inquiry Update

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

President Trump with, from left, Vice President Michael Pence, recently indicted businessmen Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's private attorney.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two business associates of Giuliani arrested on campaign finance charges, Devlin Barrett and John Wagner​​, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). igor fruman mugLev Parnas and Igor Fruman, right, who routed a large donation to a pro-Trump super PAC, are accused of taking part in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffThe indictment also charges that Fruman and Parnas, left, shown in a mug shot like his co-defendant, schemed to donate money to an unidentified U.S. congressman, at the same time they were asking that congressman to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her job.

The two men, who helped Giuliani investigate former vice president Joe Biden, were arrested Wednesday night in Virginia and charged with campaign finance violations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Fraud Guarantee” bombshell reveals Rudy Giuliani is even more screwed than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Late last night the internet erupted with laughter and disbelief when it was reported that one of the Rudy Giuliani associates arrested yesterday had been running a company called “Fraud Guarantee.” It seems everything involving Rudy these days is good for a laugh. But there are two key points in the Fraud Guarantee bombshell that spell out, in very serious fashion, just how screwed Giuliani is.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen the “two stooges” were arrested yesterday, the essential question was whether a money trail would emerge which tied Rudy Giuliani to their financial scheming. It turns out the answer is yes. The SDNY won’t have to go digging at random in the hope of finding that money trail, as the New York Times has already found it for them. Here’s the kicker, though. These two henchmen weren’t working for Rudy. He was apparently working for them.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani CustomLev Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rudy Giuliani. This helps answer longstanding questions about how Rudy’s scheming in Ukraine was being funded. It also erases any argument that Rudy might be able to make in court that he was acting on American interests, because it turns out he was literally on the payroll of one of the criminals who was carrying out the Ukraine dirty work.

This also raises questions about whether Rudy Giuliani properly reported this foreign income, whether he tried to hide the money from his wife as their divorce plays out, and whether he registered as a foreign agent. At this point it’s impossible not to imagine that Rudy will be arrested. In fact it may just be a matter of the Feds giving the two stooges the opportunity to decide whether to flip on Rudy before they arrest him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tells reporters he doesn’t know if Giuliani is still his attorney, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). But in a text message to a Post reporter shortly after President Trump made his comments, Rudolph W. Giuliani confirmed that he’s still representing him.

washington post logoWashington Post, New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, Rachael Bade, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Recent revelations about President Trump’s conduct are testing the limits of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, leading some Democrats to wonder nancy pelosi djtwhether the probe should be expanded beyond the Ukraine scandal.

• At least four officials raised alarms about Ukraine around time of Trump’s call
• Trump wanted Tillerson to help broker a deal to stop prosecution of a Giuliani client
• Ousted Ukraine envoy arrives at Capitol Hill to speak with House investigators
• Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Gordon Sondland agrees to appear next week under subpoena, John Wagner, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.).  As the impeachment inquiry moved forward on Capitol Hill, President Trump prepared to hold his second campaign rally in as many days.

gordon sondland oU.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, left, a key figure in the Ukraine controversy, bucked the State Department on Friday and announced he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.

The State Department blocked Sondland from appearing before three panels last week as the White House informed Democratic leaders they had no intention of cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Even More Whistleblowers, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Earlier today Palmer Report noted that the floodgates had opened when it came to people in the Trump regime coming forward against Donald Trump. He failed to stop Marie Yovanovitch from testifying. He’s apparently going to fail to stop Fiona Hill and Gordon Sondland from testifying. So it’s not surprising that as this plays out today, even more people are coming forward.

bill palmer report logo headerAs we speak, even more whistleblowers from within the Trump administration are reaching out to the House impeachment inquiry with their stories of Donald Trump’s wrongdoing, according to a new report from the Daily Beast. What we find fascinating here is that they’re not even bothering to go through the process of filling out a whistleblower form at this point; they’re bypassing the collapsing infrastructure of what’s left of the Trump administration, and they’re going straight to the House with their stories.

This is crucial because it helps demonstrate where the real power is in this impeachment battle at this point. Donald Trump is so busy taking new blows every day, he’s not in a position of strength by any stretch of the imagination. His own people clearly aren’t afraid of him, because they’re now racing to tell their stories. The House impeachment inquiry is where the buck stops now, and everyone knows it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally, Seung Min Kim and Aaron Blake, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.).   President Trump leveled some of his most personal attacks yet against Joe Biden and his family at his first campaign rally since House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry, highlighting unsubstantiated claims about his potential 2020 rival’s son and using profanity to describe Biden’s tenure as vice president.

At the Target Center here, Trump repeated his dubious claims that Hunter Biden secured $1.5 billion for an investment fund in China while his father served as Barack Obama’s vice president, and he mocked Hunter Biden’s personal problems, including his discharge from the Navy after he tested positive for cocaine use.

“Hunter, you know nothing about energy, you know nothing about China, you know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said to a near-capacity crowd. “Hunter, you’re a loser.”

Biden “was never considered smart,” Trump said. “He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump misleads and exaggerates to make his case against impeachment, Seung Min Kim, Oct. 11, 2019. President Trump’s propensity to misconstrue and obfuscate is escalating as he confronts the threat of becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

President Trump’s propensity to mislead, misconstrue and obfuscate is escalating as he confronts the threat of becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

For days, Trump and his allies have repeatedly charged that the whistleblower — whose complaint about Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine set off the current impeachment inquiry — made up a “false story,” even though many of the claims have been shown to be accurate. The president has insisted that his top Democratic and Republican critics on Capitol Hill should be impeached for their efforts against him, despite a centuries-old precedent that prevents such an action.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Donald Trump tossed John Bolton out on the street, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Back when Donald Trump abruptly fired his National Security Adviser John Bolton via tweet, it was evident that something wasn’t right. At the time, Trump had just invited the Taliban to Camp David, amid reports that Bolton strongly opposed the move. Trump was clearly ousting Bolton because he was getting in the way of Trump’s most deranged antics. Now it turns out it’s even uglier than we knew.

When Donald Trump first started hatching his scheme to try to extort the President of Ukraine, John Bolton got word of what was going on. Bolton then began running around trying to get his hands on the transcript of the call so he could find out just how awful it was, but he couldn’t get ahold of it because it was being locked away in the secret classified server.

This is all according to a new Washington Post article, and based on the manner in which John Bolton is being portrayed as the hero of his own story, it’s not difficult to figure out that he’s the source for the article. But there appears to be some corroboration of this, as one unnamed official tells the WaPo that Bolton went “ballistic” after Gordon Sondland admitted that the Trump regime was planning to open a sham investigation into the Bidens.

When you picture a vindictive bloodthirsty monster like John Bolton running around the White House and yelling at everyone because he’d stumbled across Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, no wonder Trump threw the guy out on the street. Considering how eager Bolton clearly is to tell his side of the story, it now seems a given that he’ll testify to the House impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court rules against Trump in fight with Congress over accounting firm records, Ann E. Marimow, Spencer S. Hsu and David A. Fahrenthold​, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Congress can seek eight years of President Trump’s business records from his accounting firm, a federal appeals court ruled in one of several legal battles over access to the president’s financial data.

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld Congress’s broad investigative powers and rejected the president’s bid to block lawmakers from subpoenaing the documents.

The case is one of several clashes between the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican president over Trump’s data that is expected to reach the Supreme Court. In this case, the judges ruled that Trump’s arguments — that the subpoenas were invalid because Congress lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose” for its subpoenas — were incorrect.

“Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” Judges David S. Tatel and Patricia A. Millett wrote for the court. Both were appointed by Democratic presidents.

The president was appealing a lower court’s decision that allowed a House Oversight Committee to move forward with its request for financial statements and audits prepared for Trump and his companies by the accounting firm Mazars USA.

In her dissent, Judge Neomi Rao — appointed by Trump — said if the House wants to investigate possible wrongdoing by the president it should do so by invoking its constitutional impeachment powers not its regular oversight powers.

It is unclear what will happen next in this case, but Trump seems likely to appeal — either to the full D.C. Circuit, or to the Supreme Court.

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Audacious Move on Impeachment Tests Political Order, Peter Baker, right, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). 2019. The White House’s decision not to cooperate is aimed less at convincing a judge than convincing the public.

Breathtaking in scope, defiant in tone, the White House’s refusal to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry amounts to an unabashed challenge to America’s longstanding constitutional order.

In effect, President Trump is making the sweeping assertion that he can ignore Congress as it weighs his fate because he considers the impeachment effort unfair and the Democrats who initiated it biased against him, an argument that channeled his anger even as it failed to pass muster with many scholars on Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached, 17 Watergate special prosecutors, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). We, former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force, believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment, unless disproved by any contrary evidence that the president may choose to offer.

U.S. House logoThe ultimate judgment on whether to impeach the president is for members of the House of Representatives to make. The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly. The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.

In reaching these conclusions, we take note of 1) the public statements by Trump himself; 2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation; 3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; 4) the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and 5) other information now publicly available, including State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.

washington post logodjt maga hat speech uncredited CustomWashington Post, Trump’s Syria decision tests GOP support amid impeachment inquiry, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Instead of enjoying uncontested Republican support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, President Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his own party.

washington post logoWashington Post, George Conway and other prominent conservatives call for ‘expeditious’ impeachment probe, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). More than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers, including George T. Conway III, offered their legal reasoning for an “expeditious” impeachment probe into President Trump, creating a document they hope will be read by Republicans who continue to stand by the president.

The 16 attorneys, many of whom worked in Republican administrations, wrote in a joint statement to be released Thursday morning that Trump’s now infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the text messages between diplomats and Trump’s public call for China to investigate a political opponent are “undisputed” events that amount to Trump violating his oath of office.

george conway twitterConway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and outspoken Trump critic shown at right on his Twitter photo, helped form a coalition of like-minded conservatives a year ago who wanted to call out what they deemed illegal and unconstitutional behavior by the president. The signatories are members of that group, Checks and Balances.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration and Allies Pummeled With New Subpoenas, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). House investigators demanded documents from Rick Perry and testimony from the two Giuliani associates who were arrested. House investigators pounded the Trump administration and its allies on Thursday with new subpoenas, demanding documents from Rick Perry,  the energy secretary, and testimony from two more witnesses as they aggressively challenged a White House pledge to starve their impeachment inquiry of evidence.

rick perry oThree Democratic chairmen leading the inquiry instructed Mr. Perry, right, to turn over by next Friday any records that would shed light on President Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to open corruption investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son. Investigators also want answers on whether Mr. Perry tried to influence the management of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company.

Hours earlier, they demanded that two businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, appear for depositions next Wednesday and hand over records related to their work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer. Mr. Giuliani has been the point man in the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, around which the inquiry is centered. The subpoenas came shortly after the two men were indicted on federal campaign finance charges that touched on their work in Ukraine.

The new subpoenas, and more in the works, sent a clear message to the White House that Democrats do not intend to back down from a growing constitutional clash over their inquiry, even after the White House defiantly said this week that it would stonewall all requests for witnesses and documents.

The Hill via MSN, White House accidentally sends Ukraine talking points to Democrats again, Mike Lillis and Juliegrace Brufke, Oct. 11, 2019. The White House accidentally sent Democrats a list of talking points related to ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch's Friday House deposition, two sources with knowledge of the email told The Hill, the second time in a month the administration has sent its Ukraine talking points to Democrats.

The email included guidance for Republicans seeking to defend the president from potentially damaging witness testimony from an ambassador who was removed from her post in May under controversial circumstances.

In copies of the guidance shared with The Hill, The White House encouraged Republicans to adopt a series of messages designed to turn the tables back on Democrats, including attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's (D-Calif.) handling of the probe.

Yovanovitch told House lawmakers that she was removed after "a concerted campaign against" her from President Trump and his allies.

The email marks the second time the White House has unintentionally sent talking points to Democrats in recent weeks, after an administration official inadvertently emailed them suggested rhetoric defending the July 25 phone call.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump Policy That Favors Wealthy Immigrants, Miriam Jordan, Oct. 11, 2019. A federal judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction on Friday blocking the start of a new federal policy that would deny legal residency to immigrants who are likely to depend on public welfare.

In one of two legal setbacks on Friday for the Trump administration’s attempts to limit immigration, Judge George B. Daniels of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York said those potentially affected by the new regulation could suffer “irreparable harm” if the rule goes into effect. “The balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction,” the judge wrote.

The “public charge” rule, which had been scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, set new standards for determining who might become a burden on the public purse and barred them from obtaining permanent residence in the country.

“The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification,” Judge Daniels, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, wrote in his ruling. “It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

ny times logoNew York Times, Those Foreign Business Ties? The Trump Sons Have Plenty Too, Eric Lipton, Steve Eder and Ben Protess, Oct. 11, 2019. Last month, the Trump family business received approval from a local government in Scotland for a major expansion of its golf resort near Aberdeen, marking the largest real estate development financed by the Trump Organization since the 2016 election.

In August, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., flew to Jakarta to help kick-start sales at a pair of Trump-branded luxury resorts planned for Indonesia. He appeared at a private event with wealthy prospective buyers and joined his politically connected billionaire Indonesian business partner at a news conference.

And last year, Donald Jr. visited India to sell condos at future Trump-branded towers, appearing at an event that also featured India’s prime minister.

“I’m here as a businessman,” Mr. Trump told the gathering in New Delhi. “I’m not representing anyone.”

But for the children of the politically powerful, personal business and public dealings can often be indistinguishable, especially when private projects depend on foreign governments that are looking to bolster ties with Washington.

In recent weeks, as the president has become embroiled in a scandal involving his interactions with Ukraine, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have taken to attacking Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., for his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

Republicans, led by the president, have sought to make Hunter Biden’s international business dealings an issue in the impeachment debate in Washington. But the high-profile attack roles being played by Mr. Trump’s eldest sons have now thrust their own business dealings into the spotlight too.

Both sons have operated and promoted the Trump family business overseas during their father’s presidency, even as he retains ownership. And while the Trump and Biden father-son relationships differ in many ways, the business dealings have set up a simple parallel.

“They are criticizing the vice president’s son for doing exactly what they are doing themselves,” said Martin Ford, a member of the Aberdeenshire Council in Scotland, which voted last month to approve a proposal by the Trumps to build a 500-unit housing development. “They are conducting international business here in Scotland.”

Eric Trump, in a statement to The New York Times, said there was a distinction between his father’s career in business, with his recent turn to politics, and Mr. Biden’s decades in public office.

Oct. 10

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Inquiry Update (Cont.)

Daily Kos, Giuliani pals were attempting to flee country when arrested for bribery, funneling foreign funds, Mark Sumner, Oct. 10, 2019. Two men who assisted Rudy Giuliani in creating the Ukraine smear against Joe Biden have been arrested for campaign finance violations. While both men funneled six figure donations to Donald Trump through a PAC run by Donald Trump Jr., that does not appear to be the primary focus of the charges.

Instead it seems the men are being charged for something more direct — bringing foreign funds into a U.S. election and plain old bribery. The source of marie yovanovitchthat money was apparently Ukraine, the purpose of that bribery was getting rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (right and requested to testify by the U.S. House).

According to the indictment unsealed in New York, Parnas, Fruman and other