2019 

October

Oct. 16

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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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.

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

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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

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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 presidential election.

china flag SmallAt 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

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Impeachment Inquiry Update

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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.”

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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 defendants “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.” The indictment does not mention Giuliani or suggest that he was part of the alleged crimes.

Prosecutors say Fruman and Parnas 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.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffIt’s worth noting that the description of funneling foreign money to candidates might also fit with the way that the two men sent $325,000 to a pro-Trump PAC by routing it through an LLC. In fact, additional charges from the grand jury directly address the way that the men used an LLC to disguise the source of funds.

Marie Yovanovitch was high on the list of the list for Most Important Witnesses at the impeachment inquiry. The importance of her appearance just went up another notch.

igor fruman mugAccording to a broadcast report from NBC, Giuliani associates Parnas, above left, and Fruman, right, were arrested at Dulles Airport as they attempted to flee the country.

Included in the charges are not just Parnas and Fruman, who were previously identified as assisting Rudy Giuliani in in his efforts as Trump’s personal attorney, but David Corriea who is “a businessman born in the United States” and Andrew Kukushkin, “a businessman and United States citizen who was born in Ukraine.” Corriea appears to be the owner of a holding company headquartered in Florida.

It might be a good time for someone to ask Rudy Giuliani to hand over that passport.

Roll Call, Former Rep. Pete Sessions met with indicted Guiliani associates, accepted donations, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 10, 2019. Former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, who just last week announced a new bid for the House, appears to play a role in the indictment Thursday of two Soviet-born businessmen who are also subjects of the House impeachment inquiry.

pete sessions headshotWhile the indictment does not mention Sessions, right, by name or charge him of any crime, he told a Texas radio show on Sunday that he met with them and Federal Elections Commissions documents show he accepted campaign donations from them during his tight 2018 race.

The two associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, were charged with violating campaign finance laws and arrested Wednesday, according to court documents.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are also subjects in the House’ impeachment inquiry into Trump. The Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees had requested depositions from Parnas on Thursday and Fruman on Friday, along with documents from the two men. The panels made their requests in letters on Sept. 30.

Parnas and Fruman are expected to appear in court today and won’t be testifying before Congress, as requested. Parnas is an American citizen born in Ukraine and Fruman is an American citizen born in Belarus. The indictment alleges that Parnas, Fruman and other defendants “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.”

The 21-page indictment makes references to donations and activities by an unnamed “Congressman-1,” and alleges that Parnas and Fruman asked a congressman to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine recalled and at the same time donated money to the congressman.

Bloomberg News, Trump Urged Top Aide to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ Charges, Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Stephanie Baker and Jennifer Jacobs, Oct. rex tillerson square9, 2019. President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.

Tillerson, right, refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.

john kelly o dhsTillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly,left, in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.

Zarrab was being prosecuted in federal court in New York at the time on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear rudy giulianiprogram. He had hired former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Giuliani, right, who has said he reached out repeatedly to U.S. officials to seek a diplomatic solution for his client outside the courts.

The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels. Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.

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washington post logo​Washington Post, Live Updates: Trump returns to the campaign trail as another poll shows support for his ouster is growing, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 10, 2019.The president is holding a rally for the first time since House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry.

Meanwhile, a Fox News poll released Wednesday night shows 51 percent of voters would like to see Trump impeached and removed from office, an uptick since the House launched the inquiry focused on Trump’s July call in which he pressed the leader of Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Audacious Move on Impeachment Tests Political Order, Peter Baker, right, Oct. 10, 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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Wants a Fight. Pelosi Can Hit Back, Editorial Board, Oct. 10, 2019. With rules, rigor and resolution. The House of Representatives has undertaken the impeachment inquiry of a president only four times in American history. Each time, the House has set its own ground rules. The Constitution prescribes no specific process, nor does federal law. Court rulings and precedents, such as they are, tend to be narrow and particular. So when lawmakers determine that such a proceeding is warranted, they are forced to rely on their own cobbled-together rule book, with the trust of the American people in their government at stake.

djt nancy pelosiThis requires Congress to be rigorous in setting out the rules for conducting an inquiry. It also makes the impeachment process vulnerable to misrepresentation and caricature, as President Trump and his White House demonstrated on Tuesday. According to an astonishing letter from the Trump administration to House Democrats, it is right for the president of the United States to use his immense power to solicit a foreign government’s interference on his behalf in an election — even, possibly, by way of extortion. At the same time, the letter argued, it is illegitimate for Congress, a coequal branch of government, to undertake any investigation into the president or members of his administration (or diplomats, personal lawyers and hangers-on) regarding this behavior.

The letter is a formal assertion of executive power and impunity without precedent in American history. Or, as a former Republican Senate staff member wrote on Twitter: “Wow. This letter is bananas.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached, 17 Watergate special prosecutors, Oct. 10 2019. 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.

The 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.

Daily Beast, How The Beast Uncovered Rudy Cronies’ Political Money Scheme, Lachlan Markay, Oct. 10 2019. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested daily beast logoWednesday, vindicating more than a year of reporting on their shady political donations.

In November of last year, PAY DIRT brought you a story about a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. The donation came from a company called Global Energy Producers, and we reported on suspicions that it was acting as a “conduit” contributor, effectively concealing the identities of the actual source or sources of that money.

After publication, we got a call from a relatively prominent Trumpworld operative, who proceeded to berate us for reporting on the allegations, which the person insisted were completely trumped-up and politically motivated. Global Energy Producers, he said, was fully capitalized by investors in the energy space, and was conducting bona fide business in pursuit of contracts to export liquified natural gas to Europe.

That was 100 percent untrue, according to federal prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Syria decision tests GOP support amid impeachment inquiry, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 10, 2019. 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. 10, 2019. 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 twitter“We have not just a political candidate open to receiving foreign assistance to better his chances at winning an election, but a current president openly and privately calling on foreign governments to actively interfere in the most sacred of U.S. democratic processes, our elections,” they wrote.

Conway, 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.

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Live Updates: Biden gives his most direct call for impeachment, saying Trump has ‘indicted himself,’ Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner​, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Attorneys for the Ukraine whistleblower said the person whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry “has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden campaign slams New York Times for op-ed by conservative author behind Ukraine claims, Tim Elfrink, Oct. 10, 2019. As President Trump has lobbed unsubstantiated and false claims of international corruption at former vice president Joe Biden and his son, he’s often turned to one source for ammunition: conservative author Peter Schweizer. So when the New York Times ran an op-ed on Wednesday written by Schweizer about Biden and his son Hunter, the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign cried foul.

peter schweizerIn a letter sent to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Biden’s campaign called Schweizer, left, a “discredited right-wing polemicist” and suggested the op-ed was part of a larger pattern of “journalistic malpractice.”

“Are you truly blind to what you got wrong in 2016, or are you deliberately continuing policies that distort reality for the sake of controversy and the clicks that accompany it?” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in the Wednesday letter, which was posted by CNN’s Oliver Darcy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s claims of executive immunity lead to criticism he is acting above the law, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ann E. Marimow​, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s latest legal machinations highlight his absolutist view of executive power and presidential impunity.

In a series of legal maneuvers that have defied Congress, drawn rebukes from federal judges and tested the country’s foundational system of checks and balances, President Trump has made an expansive declaration of presidential immunity that would essentially place him beyond the reach of the law.

Both in courts and before Congress, Trump’s legal teams are simultaneously arguing that the president can’t be investigated or indicted by prosecutors because Congress has the sole responsibility for holding presidents accountable, and that the House’s impeachment inquiry is an unconstitutional effort that the White House can ignore.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani goes off the deep end after yet another one of his criminal scandals gets exposed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 10, 2019. Last night we all learned that Donald Trump tried in 2017 to convince then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help get Turkish criminal Reza Zarrab off the hook. This scandal obviously has relevance to Trump’s recent decision to let Turkey invade Syria and murder the Kurds. But it also has major ties to the guy who pops up in every Trump scandal these days: Rudy Giuliani.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only was Rudy Giuliani acting as legal counsel for Turkish criminal Reza Zarrab at the time Trump tried to get Zarrab off the hook, Bloomberg says that Trump specifically asked Tillerson to work with Rudy to get Zarrab off the hook. That means Trump was bypassing the Department of Justice entirely, and allowing Rudy to run the federal government – just as Trump has more recently been allowing Rudy to dictate U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.

rudy giuliani recentRudy Giuliani, right,never met a scandal he couldn’t make even worse with his mouth, and so he’s responding to the Bloomberg report by foaming at the mouth. Rudy is calling it a “hit job” according to MSNBC, which means that he’s not even going to bother to try to deny the specifics of what’s been reported, which means it’s all true.

Of course this means that Rex Tillerson is about to get subpoenaed by the House impeachment inquiry, and considering that Tillerson has no personal loyalty to Donald Trump, we expect he’ll go ahead and cooperate. It’s also one more proverbial nail in the coffin of Rudy Giuliani, who can surely expect to spend the rest of his life in prison once this house of cards finishes collapsing.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: A soliloquy for the United States, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 10, 2019. America is at war with itself. In only two cases has the United States experienced a situation where wars have pitted brother against brother, husbands against wives, and parents against their children. Friendships of long-lasting duration were also destroyed.

wayne madesen report logoThe two cases in which the country experienced such fissures was the War of Independence against Great Britain and the Civil War between the Union and Confederacy.

Today, Americans have been torn apart by the excesses of the Trump administration. There is no good ending to these fundamental divisions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s the evidence collected and requested in the inquiry so far, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.) (Chart above by New York Times). House Democrats have begun collecting evidence for their impeachment investigation, which was launched after a whistle-blower complaint said that White House officials believed they had witnessed President Trump abuse his power for political gain.

democratic donkey logoCongressional investigators have been issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documents and witness testimony related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Evidence that has been collected.

U.S. Prosecution Misconduct

The Intercept, How the Secretive “Discipline” Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases, Brooke Williams, Samata Joshi, Shawn Musgrave, Oct. 10 2019. Lashawn Jermaine Johnson spent his 30s in prison law libraries. As he put it in an interview, that was “the only place you were going to find freedom” in prison. Sitting at one of a dozen desktop computers with windows overlooking a quad, Johnson dug through past convictions of the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted him for cocaine trafficking in Billings, Montana.

What he found not only set him free but called into question the convictions of many others behind bars.

James Seykora had been prosecuting federal drug cases for decades in Billings, the largest city in the state with a population just shy of 110,000. Local defense attorneys described him as a hard worker who dutifully sought the harshest penalties for drug crimes. One called him a “trained pitbull” and said “the people to blame were his bosses.” In 2004, he won an award for his sheer number of drug convictions.

But it turned out Seykora had a history of misconduct, including hiding deals he made with key witnesses in exchange for their cooperation and testimony.

In one case, Seykora gave immunity to a key government witness in exchange for taking the stand. Then, in front of a judge and a jury, he allowed the witness to swear she didn’t recall “any promises” in exchange for testifying.

In Johnson’s case, a federal judge found Seykora engaged in similar misconduct when he allowed the judge and jury to believe a key witness against Johnson, Heather Schutz, had only “bare hope” for leniency in her Las Vegas prostitution charges in exchange for her testimony. Seykora actually had promised her “personal benefit” that was a “concrete and quantified reality.”

As Johnson, who served nearly nine years for trafficking cocaine, poured through court records in the prison library, he said he found case after case in which Seykora was caught hiding deals with witnesses. Judges found the federal prosecutor had a habit of allowing juries and judges to believe people testifying for the prosecution had nothing to gain when, in fact, he had already promised them immunity, sentence reductions, and more. Despite this, Seykora was still allowed to handle federal drug prosecutions in Billings.

Johnson quickly gave the material he gathered in the law library to his attorney, who filed a motion to reverse the conviction due to prosecutorial misconduct. The Billings U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to charge Johnson again, and a judge ordered him “released from custody” in February 2015. He now lives in Las Vegas and has young children.

Seykora retired as a prosecutor in 2012 and currently is a municipal judge in Hardin, Montana, a small town of about 3,500 people and a short drive from Billings. He did not return phone calls seeking an interview.

In 2014, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility began looking into Seykora. The OPR was established after the Watergate scandal “to ensure that Department attorneys perform their duties in accordance with the high professional standards,” according to its website.

Two years later, in 2016, while OPR was apparently still investigating Seykora’s actions, Michael Cotter, then U.S. attorney for Billings and current chief of the state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, apparently decided to take matters into his own hands. In a highly unusual move, Johnson’s attorney Colin Stephens said, Cotter sent letters to the defense attorneys of people Seykora had convicted to let them know about the prosecutor’s history of repeated misconduct.

Stephens said the letters essentially reopened any case Seykora had prosecuted. “We just opened Pandora’s box,” he said. “It’s a big deal when the government cheats.”

Cotter declined to discuss the case.

Given his experience, Johnson said, he wonders if it really is a big deal when a prosecutor breaks the rules. “He still gets to sit on the bench and practice his crooked law,” he said.

Oct. 9

Turkey Attacks Syrian Kurds

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washington post logoWashington Post, Turkey launches offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Asser Khattab, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkish airstrikes and shelling targeted Syrian Kurdish fighters who have played a central role in aiding the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State militant group.

turkey flagTurkey’s government launched a long-expected offensive into northeastern Syria on Wednesday, with airstrikes and shelling targeting Syrian Kurdish fighters who have played a central role in aiding the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State militant group.

The operation — with some ground forces crossing the border later — came just days after President Trump’s startling announcement that the United States would not stand in Turkey’s way, bringing sharp rebukes from even the president’s Republican allies.

The Turkish foray threatened to further fracture a war-shattered Syria as Ankara moved to create a “safe zone” after failing to agree on its size and nature during negotiations with the United States. Related stories (excerpts below):

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Inquiry Update

Fox News, Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment, Dana Blanton, Oct. 9, 2019. Just over half of voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll released Wednesday. A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment.

Since July, support for impeachment increased among voters of all stripes: up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans and 3 among independents. Support also went up among some of Trump’s key constituencies, including white evangelical Christians (+5 points), white men without a college degree (+8), and rural whites (+10).

Among voters in swing counties (where Hillary Clinton and Trump were within 10 points in 2016), support for impeachment increased to 52 percent, up from 42 percent in July.

A lot has happened since the July Fox poll on impeachment -- namely, the launch of an impeachment inquiry in the House following allegations Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens’ dealings in that country. The 9-point increase in support for impeachment since July, however, doesn’t appear to be based solely on the latest allegations. To that point, more Democrats favor impeaching Trump (85 percent) than consider his call with Ukraine’s president an impeachable offense (76 percent). The same holds true among independents: 39 percent favor impeachment, while 30 percent describe the Ukraine call as impeachable.

The 4-in-10 voters opposing impeachment give a variety of reasons, including: Trump did nothing wrong (21 percent), it is politically motivated (20 percent), and don’t believe allegations (15 percent).

Approval of Trump’s job performance is down a couple of points to 43 percent, while 55 percent disapprove. Last month, it was 45-54 percent. Currently, 86 percent of Republicans approve compared to 89 percent in September.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Signals It Won’t Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The White House declared war on the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, announcing that it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election” and setting the stage for a constitutional clash with far-reaching consequences.

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House said the inquiry had violated precedent and denied President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents.

djt nancy pelosi“Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice,” said the letter signed by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch and all future occupants of the office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

But in refusing to cooperate with what Mr. Trump on Tuesday called a “kangaroo court,” the president risked ensuring the very outcome he would rather avoid. House Democrats made clear that his failure to comply with their demands for information could form the basis for its own article of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats to subpoena Sondland, say Trump’s move to block deposition amounts to obstruction, Shane Harris and John Wagner​, european union logo rectangleOct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration on Tuesday blocked a planned deposition from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a central figure in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

gordon sondland oDemocrats called the administration’s move an act of obstruction and said they would issue a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony, as well as emails and text messages that Sondland held on a personal device and that have been turned over to the State Department, which has yet to release them.

Sondland, 61, left, appears never to have held a position in government before being named the ambassador to the E.U. in June 2018. He built his fortune acquiring and managing luxury hotels in the Pacific Northwest and gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund via shell companies that obscured his involvement.

Live updates: Trump continues to push for Adam Schiff to be 'Impeached!'

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge balks at Justice Dept. bid to deny House access to Mueller grand jury materials, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Justice Department lawyers urged a federal judge Tuesday to deny a House Judiciary Committee request for grand-jury materials from former special beryl howellcounsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, arguing that despite legal rulings during the impeachment inquiry into President Richard M. Nixon, in hindsight courts in 1974 should not have given Congress materials from the Watergate grand jury.

“Wow, okay,” Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington responded, sounding unpersuaded. “As I said, the department is taking extraordinary positions in this case.”

Howell, right,  called the stance one of several “extreme” arguments presented by Trump administration lawyers in opposing the House request for Mueller grand-jury materials, part of a widening impeachment investigation of President Trump.

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jennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Why this latest Trump tactic is different, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Even for President Trump, “I’ll impeach you!” is an idiotic comeback to House Democrats who are pursuing an impeachment inquiry.

Mainstream outlets have collectively decided that Trump is now a threat to democratic elections, so it is time to get serious and drop the pretense that there is a legitimate “side” (e.g., Ukraine has the DNC server! Asking China to interfere in our elections is fine, just fine!) whom Trump, Fox News and the Trump cultists represent.

Bloomberg, Trump Urged Top Aide to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ Charges, Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Stephanie Baker and Jennifer Jacobs, Oct. rex tillerson square9, 2019. President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.

Tillerson, right, refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.

john kelly o dhsTillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly,left, in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.

Zarrab was being prosecuted in federal court in New York at the time on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear rudy giulianiprogram. He had hired former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Giuliani, right, who has said he reached out repeatedly to U.S. officials to seek a diplomatic solution for his client outside the courts.

The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels. Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why this new GOP Senate report about the Trump-Russia election scandal is so crucial to what happens next, Bill Palmer, Oct. 9, 2019. Yesterday, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee decided to release its years-in-the-making report on the Trump-Russia 2016 election rigging scandal. You read whatever you want into the timing of releasing this report just two weeks after Donald Trump’s impeachment got underway, and one day after a bunch of GOP Senators spoke out against Trump’s deranged Syria pullout. But the details here are what may be most important to the Republican Senators.

bill palmer report logo headerThis publicly available Senate Intel Committee report confirms a lot of what we already knew for certain: the Russian government spent the 2016 general election spreading fake news aimed at helping Donald Trump and harming Hillary Clinton. It’s notable in its own right that a Republican controlled committee is admitting that Clinton was harmed by lies, after the GOP spent the past twenty-five years pushing its own lies about Clinton. But there’s a more key part to this report.

Over the past two and a half years we’ve seen scattered reports that the Russians didn’t just help rig the 2016 general election for Donald Trump; they helped rig the 2016 Republican primary race for Trump as well. Sure enough, this Senate report confirms that during the primary contest, the Russians were spreading fake news to help Trump, while spreading fake news aimed at specifically harming Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

In other words, the Republican Senate just announced that it’s found proof that the Russian government screwed three prominent Republicans – two of whom are currently in the Senate – out of their party’s 2016 presidential nomination. By ideological definition, the Republicans each only care about themselves. They’re making a point of announcing that the Trump-Russia scandal wasn’t just a plot against Hillary, it was also a plot against the Republican Party. You think they don’t want revenge?

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Live Updates: Biden gives his most direct call for impeachment, saying Trump has ‘indicted himself,’ Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner​, Oct. 9, 2019.  Attorneys for the Ukraine whistleblower said the person whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry “has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s claims of executive immunity lead to criticism he is acting above the law, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ann E. Marimow​, Oct. 9, 2019. The president’s latest legal machinations highlight his absolutist view of executive power and presidential impunity.

In a series of legal maneuvers that have defied Congress, drawn rebukes from federal judges and tested the country’s foundational system of checks and balances, President Trump has made an expansive declaration of presidential immunity that would essentially place him beyond the reach of the law.

Both in courts and before Congress, Trump’s legal teams are simultaneously arguing that the president can’t be investigated or indicted by prosecutors because Congress has the sole responsibility for holding presidents accountable, and that the House’s impeachment inquiry is an unconstitutional effort that the White House can ignore.

washington post logoWashington Post, Clinton-email critics pull a role reversal as Trump administration draws fire for private phone use, John Hudson and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 9, 2019. The president’s latest legal machinations highlight his absolutist view of executive power and presidential impunity.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The king of projection and his concoction of lies, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 9, 2019. Donald Trump has become the king of projection in digging through every official act of Joe Biden as vice president to concoct a series of lies that, in reality, apply to Trump and his family and administration of grifters, swindlers, and gangsters.

wayne madesen report logoTrump managed to turn Biden’s official act of pressuring Ukraine to fire a corrupt prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, into a tall tale of Biden seeking the Ukrainian official’s ouster in order to protect son Hunter Biden’s financial interests as a board member of Burisma Holdings, one of many Ukrainian companies that were given a pass by Shokin.

In fact, Shokin was also derelict in prosecuting Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who is ducking a U.S. extradition warrant after his federal indictment on bribery, racketeering, and money laundering charges. Firtash was one of the many benefactors of Paul Manafort. Firtash, who is a lieutenant for the most dangerous Russian oligarch, Semion Mogilevich, also wanted by U.S. authorities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally on Fox News calls whistleblowers ‘suicide bombers,’ accuses Democrats of ‘regicide,’ Allyson Chiu, Oct. 9, 2019. Former U.S. attorney Joseph E. diGenova turned to European history Tuesday night to describe the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump, calling their efforts “regicide,” the act of killing a king.

joseph digenova Custom“What you’re seeing is regicide,” diGenova, at right with Trump in file photos, a frequent Trump defender, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “This is regicide by another name, fake impeachment. The Democrats in the House want to destroy the president."

But diGenova, a conspiracy theorist Trump wanted on his legal team during the Russia probe, wasn’t finished. In a lengthy interview on “The Ingraham Angle,” the lawyer, who was joined by Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, blasted the two anonymous whistleblowers as “suicide bombers” and accused Democrats of “sedition.”

The fiery rhetoric marks the latest escalation in language used by Trump’s supporters, and even the president himself, to complain about the ongoing impeachment inquiry, a tactic that has prompted some to express concern about the safety of the whistleblowers and top Democrats.

djt nyt impeachment investigation tracker

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s the evidence collected and requested in the inquiry so far, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.) (Chart above by New York Times). House Democrats have begun collecting evidence for their impeachment investigation, which was launched after a whistle-blower complaint said that White House officials believed they had witnessed President Trump abuse his power for political gain.

democratic donkey logoCongressional investigators have been issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documents and witness testimony related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Evidence that has been collected.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, updated Oct. 3, 2019. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

  • 226 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 193 No, not now, or undecided
  •   14 Awaiting response

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

Esquire, Donald Trump Allegedly Hid Behind a Tapestry to Grope a Woman at Mar-a-Lago in the Early 2000s, Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy, Oct. 9, 2019. In an exclusive excerpt from "All the President’s Women," Karen Johnson, one of 43 women with new allegations against the president, tells her story.

djt barry levine monique el faizy coverIf you thought the Access Hollywood tape was the opening salvo in the story of Donald Trump's transgressions against women, think again. In All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, journalists Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy draw on over 100 interviews, many of them exclusive, to craft a detailed history of Trump's relationships with women, stretching back to his childhood and education as well as his rise through real estate, entertainment, and politics. What emerges from the authors' reporting is a portrait of a predator who hides behind wealth and institutional power to frequently harass and abuse women.

While the president has publicly faced allegations from two dozen women, this book reveals another 43 allegations of alleged inappropriate behavior, including 26 instances of unwanted sexual contact. In this exclusive excerpt from All the President's Women, Levine and El-Faizy investigate an alleged wave of unwanted touching that preceded his proposal to Melania Knauss, including a disturbing instance of groping at Mar-a-Lago. — Adrienne Westenfeld...

Donald Trump is a creature of habit, and the story of how he met the Slovenian model Knauss rings familiar. In 1998, when he had been separated from [Marla] Maples for about a year, he went to the Kit Kat Club for a party for a Victoria’s Secret model with Norwegian heiress Celina Midelfart, who was in her mid-twenties and living in Trump Tower while studying at New York University, as his date.

According to Trump’s account, he was meant to be introduced to another model that night, but Melania caught his eye. “I went crazy,” he told Larry King melania trump twitterduring an interview the CNN host conducted with newlyweds Donald and Melania in 2005. “There was this great supermodel sitting next to Melania. I was supposed to meet this supermodel."

"They said, ‘Look, there’s so and so.’ I said, “Forget about her. Who is the one on the left?’ And it was Melania.” Melania was twenty-eight at the time and had been invited to the party by her friend and agent, Paolo Zampolli. When Midelfart absented herself to use the restroom, Trump seized the opportunity to hit on Melania.

Oct. 8

Impeachment Daily Index

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration blocks testimony of Gordon Sondland, a central figure in impeachment inquiry, Shane Harris and John Wagner, Oct. 8, 2019. Text messages show that Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., was shaping U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine as President Trump pressed for investigations of his political opponents.

The Trump administration on Tuesday blocked a planned deposition from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a central figure in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to a statement by his lawyer.

gordon sondland oSondland, left, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was scheduled to be deposed on Tuesday morning before House committees seeking information about his activities as President Trump urged Ukraine to investigate his political opponents, according to his lawyer, Robert Luskin.

Luskin said Sondland was not appearing at the direction of the State Department.

“As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department’s direction,” Luskin said. “Ambassador Sondland is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today. Ambassador Sondland traveled to Washington from Brussels in order to prepare for his testimony and to be available to answer the Committee’s questions.”

Text messages made public last week show that Sondland, whose portfolio does not include U.S.-Ukraine relations, inserted himself into the effort to obtain a commitment from Ukraine to launch the investigations. At the time, the government in Kiev was eagerly awaiting the release of nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid and the arrangement of a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Sondland, 61, appears never to have held a position in government before being named the ambassador to the E.U. in June 2018. He built his fortune acquiring and managing luxury hotels in the Pacific Northwest and gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund via shell companies that obscured his involvement.

Live updates: Trump continues to push for Adam Schiff to be 'Impeached!'

Impeachment Inquiry Update

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s defiance of oversight challenges Congress’s ability to rein in the executive branch, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade​, Oct. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance toward congressional oversight and Democrats flailing response are undermining the separation of powers and could have long-term implications for the democracy.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Subpoenas White House Budget Office and Pentagon for Ukraine Records, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 8, 2019 (print ed.) The House on Monday subpoenaed the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents about the Trump administration’s decision to withhold security aid for Ukraine, expanding the impeachment inquiry into how President Trump sought to pressure the government there to dig up dirt on his political rivals.

The subpoenas, issued by the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee, gave the federal agencies until Oct. 15 to comply.

The panel appears to be trying to unearth communications and other records that might shed light on one of the enduring mysteries of the United States’ interactions with Ukraine: why the White House decided last summer to abruptly suspend the $391 million aid package, and whether it was connected to contemporaneous efforts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge rules Trump must turn over his tax returns to Manhattan DA, but Trump has indicated he will appeal, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 8, 2019 (print ed.). A federal judge on Monday dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the Manhattan District Attorney from obtaining the president’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.

victor marreroU.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, right, rejected Trump’s argument that the presidency makes him immune to any investigation by any prosecutor. In his 75-page ruling, Marrero called such a claim “extraodinary” and wrote that “This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process.”

The ruling means that District Attorney Cyrus Vance (D) may enforce a subpoena he sent to Trump’s longtime accountants, Mazars USA. Trump had filed an unorthodox lawsuit seeking to stop that subpoena, saying that he would suffer “irreparable harm” if prosecutors obtained his tax returns. The Justice Department also took Trump’s side in the case.

But Trump’s private attorneys had already signaled Friday that he plans to quickly appeal such an order to the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

The decision marked a key setback for Trump, who has taken an unorthodox, aggressive approach to fighting off investigations from prosecutors and congressional committees, who have sought his tax returns and financial documents. He has sued the investigators and the companies they had subpoenaed, including Mazars and two of Trump’s banks.

Vance is investigating payments made in the last weeks of the 2016 campaign to two women who said they’d had affairs with Trump years earlier. Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, later pleaded guilty to federal campaign-finance violations for arranging those payments, and said he’d been reimbursed by the Trump Organization, which the president still owns. Federal prosecutors later concluded their investigation into those payments without charging anyone beyond Cohen.

Now, Vance’s office is investigating to see if any state laws were violated.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rick Perry’s Focus on Gas Company Entangles Him in Ukraine Case, Kenneth P. Vogel, Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 8, 2019 (print ed.). The energy secretary pushed for changes at Ukraine’s state-owned utility as President Trump sought inquiries into political opponents. When Energy Secretary Rick Perry, right, led an American delegation to the inauguration of Ukraine’s new president in May, he took the opportunity to suggest the names of Americans the new Ukrainian government might want to advise and oversee the country’s state-owned gas company.

rick perry oMr. Perry’s focus during the trip on Ukraine’s energy industry was in keeping with a push he had begun months earlier under the previous Ukrainian president, and it was consistent with United States policy of promoting anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and greater energy independence from Russia.

But his actions during the trip have entangled him in a controversy about a pressure campaign waged by President Trump and his allies directed at the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. That effort sought to pressure Mr. Zelensky’s government to investigate Mr. Trump’s rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to challenge Mr. Trump.

Mr. Perry’s trip raised questions about whether he was seeking to provide certain Americans help in gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian energy business at a time when the new Ukrainian government was looking to the United States for signals of support in its simmering conflict with Russia.

Mr. Trump seemed to suggest last week that he made a July 25 phone call to Mr. Zelensky, during which he repeatedly urged his Ukrainian counterpart to pursue investigations that could politically benefit him, at the urging of Mr. Perry. Mr. Trump told congressional Republicans last week that Mr. Perry wanted him to discuss the liquefied natural gas supply with Mr. Zelensky, Axios reported.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s the evidence collected and requested in the inquiry so far, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Oct. 8, 2019. House Democrats have begun collecting evidence for their impeachment investigation, which was launched after a whistle-blower complaint said that White House officials believed they had witnessed President Trump abuse his power for political gain.

Congressional investigators have been issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documents and witness testimony related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Evidence that has been collected.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Oct. 2, 2019. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public U.S. House logostatements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since last month, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response.

  • 226 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 193 No, not now, or undecided
  •   14 Awaiting response

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

U.S. 2020 Politics / Media

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: If it's Tuesday, this must be Romania, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 8, 2019. Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, seems to have starred in his own bizarre sequel to the 1969 zany film about an 18-day whirlwind tour through Europe, “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.”

Giuliani, in concert with Attorney General William Barr, has been involved in an international scheme to extort political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and other officials of the Barack Obama administration. That operation, by Giuliani’s own admission, now extends to Romania.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Syrian Rebels See Chance for New Life With Turkish Troops, Carlotta Gall, Oct. 8, 2019. Turkey’s plans to create a safe zone in northern Syria will increase the standing of its Syrian allies, who still dream of revolution. Amid the criticism over President Trump’s Syria policy, there is one former American ally that has welcomed his decision to pull back Kurdish-led forces and allow Turkish troops to create a safe zone in northern Syria: the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Ensconced in several small enclaves of Syria near the Turkey border that are protected by Turkish forces, the Free Syrian Army (now named the National Army) is ready to deploy 14,000 soldiers as ground troops for Turkey in such an operation, Yousuf Hammoud, a spokesman, said on Monday.

Mr. Trump’s decision, announced late Sunday, has been sharply criticized by politicians of both political parties in the United States as a desertion of the Kurdish-led forces — the most reliable American partners in fighting Islamic State militants in Syria. But fighters and veterans of the Free Syrian Army point out that they were also abandoned by Mr. Trump when he cut support to their force in 2017.

Now, the Free Syrian Army, which has largely been marginalized in the conflict, sees a chance to regain lost territory in its struggle against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. “Now it is a fight for land, not for freedom and dignity as before,” said Fares Bayoush, a former senior commander in the Free Syran Army.

ny times logoNew York Times, Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say, Michael Schwirtz, Oct. 8, 2019. First came a destabilization campaign in Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and then a thwarted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain using a nerve agent. Though the operations bore the fingerprints of Russia’s intelligence services, the authorities initially saw them as isolated, unconnected attacks.

Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.

The group, known as Unit 29155, has operated for at least a decade, yet Western officials only recently discovered it. Intelligence officials in four Western countries say it is unclear how often the unit is mobilized and warn that it is impossible to know when and where its operatives will strike.

The purpose of Unit 29155, which has not been previously reported, underscores the degree to which the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, is actively fighting the West with his brand of so-called hybrid warfare — a blend of propaganda, hacking attacks and disinformation — as well as open military confrontation.

ny times logoNew York Times, News Analysis: When ‘Get Out’ Is a President’s National Security Strategy, David E. Sanger, Oct. 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s order to pull forces from the Syrian border is another national security move at odds with the official position of his government. He is demonstrating that no troop presence is too small to escape his pursuit of ending America’s “endless wars.” President Trump has demonstrated that in his pursuit of ending America’s “endless wars,” no troop presence abroad is too small to escape his desire to terminate it.

Oct. 7

U.S. Pulls Troops From N. Syria

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. starts withdrawing troops from northern Syria as Turkey readies offensive, Missy Ryan, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Karen DeYoung​, Oct. 7, 2019. The move by the Trump administration puts an abrupt end to months-long U.S. effort to broker peace between Turkey and Syrian Kurds, two important allies in the region.

The United States began withdrawing American troops from Syria’s border with Turkey early Monday, in the clearest sign yet that the Trump administration was washing its hands of an explosive situation between the Turkish military and U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters. 

Impeachment Daily Index

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 Impeachment Inquiry Update

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s defiance of oversight challenges Congress’s ability to rein in the executive branch, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade​, Oct. 7, 2019. Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance toward congressional oversight and Democrats flailing response are undermining the separation of powers and could have long-term implications for the democracy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Everything about today is going to be combustible, Bill Palmer, Oct. 7, 2019. The news broke yesterday evening that Donald Trump, djt rudy giuliani CustomRudy Giuliani, Rick Perry, and the gang weren’t just trying to extort Ukraine into helping rig the 2020 election; they were trying to extort a Ukraine gas company into giving them money. These things always come down to money in some day, don’t they? By the time Trump was frantically trying to distract from the story late last night by tweeting that Nancy Pelosi should be impeached for treason, it was clear just how combustible everything had become.

If Trump misusing his office to extort a foreign country for election help is easily understandable to the average American, then Trump misusing his office to extort a foreign country for personal financial gain is even more easily understandable. This just became the kind of scandal that comes with receipts. Paperwork. Money trails. Lots of people are going down. No wonder Rick Perry decided to resign and cooperate with the House impeachment probe the minute the whole thing got exposed. His cooperation now might be his only chance later of convincing the next iteration of the DOJ not to throw him in prison once this is all over.

bill palmer report logo headerThis all adds up to today in particular being particularly combustible. Over the weekend a second intel community member filed for whistleblower status, and we’ll soon find out what “first hand” knowledge this person has of Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. This is on top of the bombshell about the Ukraine gas company extortion.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Second Whistle-Blower Claims ‘Firsthand Knowledge’ of Ukraine Dealings, Annie Karni and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 7, 2019 (print ed.). The intelligence official is now protected from retaliation and has hired the same legal team as the first whistle-blower.

An intelligence official with “firsthand knowledge” has provided information related to President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and is now protected from retaliation as a whistle-blower, lawyers representing the official said on Sunday, confirming that a second individual has come forward in the matter.

Much is unknown about the official, who has been interviewed by the intelligence community’s inspector general but has not filed a formal complaint.

But the individual has hired the same legal team as the first whistle-blower. That, and the claim of “firsthand knowledge,” suggests testimony that might bolster the impeachment case against Mr. Trump and further undermine one of his main defense claims: that the accusations against him are based on inaccurate, secondhand information.

The New York Times reported on Friday that an intelligence official who has more direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine than the first whistle-blower, and who had grown alarmed by the president’s behavior, was weighing whether to come forward. The second official was among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people briefed on the matter said.

For Democratic lawmakers seeking to build their case for impeachment, the new whistle-blower could serve as an important witness for both validating what they know and potentially providing new leads for investigators. Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House’s impeachment inquiry, urged other potential whistle-blowers to come forward on Sunday night.

“We thank them for their courage,” he said. “We thank them for their patriotism. And we hope others will follow their courageous example.”

One member of the legal team confirmed on Twitter that the firm was now representing “multiple whistleblowers” but declined to say how many. The inspector general has said that to corroborate the first whistle-blower’s complaint, he interviewed multiple people who would be afforded protections, and it was unclear if the lawyer could be referring to those people or other people.

Since the first whistle-blower emerged, the White House has tried to unmask his identity, and dismiss him as a “deep state operative” with partisan motives to “take down” Mr. Trump. The president stuck to form on Sunday evening in trying to dismiss the new whistle-blower.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump won’t destroy me, and he won’t destroy my family, Joe Biden, right, Oct. 7, 2019 (print ed.). Enough is enough. Every joe biden oday — every few hours, seemingly — more evidence is uncovered revealing that President Trump is abusing the power of the presidency and is wholly unfit to be president. He is using the highest office in the land to advance his personal political interests instead of the national interest.

The president’s most recent violation of the rule of law — openly calling for China to interfere in our elections, as he stood on the South Lawn of the White House — is so outrageous, it’s clear he considers the presidency a free pass to do whatever he wants, with no accountability.

He does not understand the immense responsibility demanded of all those who hold the office of the president of the United States. He sees only the power — and how it can benefit just one person: Donald Trump.

Joe Biden, the former vice president, is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge rules Trump must turn over his tax returns to Manhattan DA, but Trump has indicated he will appeal, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 7, 2019. A federal judge on Monday dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the Manhattan District Attorney from obtaining the president’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump’s argument that the presidency makes him immune to any investigation by any prosecutor. In his 75-page ruling, Marrero called such a claim “extraodinary” and wrote that “This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process.”

The ruling means that District Attorney Cyrus Vance (D) may enforce a subpoena he sent to Trump’s longtime accountants, Mazars USA. Trump had filed an unorthodox lawsuit seeking to stop that subpoena, saying that he would suffer “irreparable harm” if prosecutors obtained his tax returns. The Justice Department also took Trump’s side in the case.

But Trump’s private attorneys had already signaled Friday that he plans to quickly appeal such an order to the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

The decision marked a key setback for Trump, who has taken an unorthodox, aggressive approach to fighting off investigations from prosecutors and congressional committees, who have sought his tax returns and financial documents. He has sued the investigators and the companies they had subpoenaed, including Mazars and two of Trump’s banks.

Vance is investigating payments made in the last weeks of the 2016 campaign to two women who said they’d had affairs with Trump years earlier. Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, later pleaded guilty to federal campaign-finance violations for arranging those payments, and said he’d been reimbursed by the Trump Organization, which the president still owns. Federal prosecutors later concluded their investigation into those payments without charging anyone beyond Cohen.

Now, Vance’s office is investigating to see if any state laws were violated.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry, Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Oct. 7, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William Barr and John Durham visited Italy with a mission that could bolster President Trump’s pet theories about the Russia investigation. Despite criticism that Mr. Barr is doing Mr. Trump’s bidding and micromanaging a supposedly independent investigation, he seems to have embraced the role.

After a jet carrying Attorney General William P. Barr touched down in Rome last month, some diplomats and intelligence officials at the American Embassy were unsure why he had come. They were later surprised, two officials said, to discover that he had circumvented protocols in arranging the trip, where he met with Italian political and intelligence officials.

john durhamEverything about Mr. Barr’s visit was unusual — not least his companion and their mission: John H. Durham, right, a top federal prosecutor whom Mr. Barr has assigned to review the origins of the Russia investigation. They were seeking evidence that might bolster a conspiracy theory long nurtured by President Trump: that some of America’s closest allies plotted with his “deep state” enemies in 2016 to try to prevent him from winning the presidency.

After the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, testified to lawmakers in July that he found insufficient evidence to charge any Trump associates with conspiring with Russia, an emboldened Mr. Trump began pressing world leaders to cooperate with Mr. Barr.

Now, glimpses of the review are emerging. Mr. Barr is taking an active role, signaling that he has made it a priority and is personally overseeing it.

The trip to Italy generated criticism that Mr. Barr was doing the president’s bidding and micromanaging a supposedly independent investigation. And one of Mr. Trump’s efforts to support the review, a phone call with Ukraine’s leader, has prompted a whistle-blower complaint and a formal impeachment inquiry into whether the president hijacked American diplomacy for political gain.

Mr. Barr has portrayed the review as an attempt to ferret out any abuse of power by law enforcement or intelligence officials. But it is also a politically charged effort that takes aim at the conclusions drawn by the American law enforcement and intelligence communities after years of painstaking work investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Investigators have interviewed F.B.I. officials about their work in 2016, examined intelligence files from around that time and cast a wide net in setting up interviews with a foreign cast of characters who played disparate roles in the pre-election drama.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Impeach Trump, Repeatedly, Charles M. Blow, right, Oct. 7, 2019 (print ed.). A president should not be able to stonewall and run charles blow customout the clock. When the Democratic leadership was finally forced to formally back an impeachment inquiry, they faced a choice: focus broadly on all of Donald Trump’s corruption and unfitness, which could drag on for a long time, or focus narrowly on the new revelations about Trump and Ukraine and do so quickly. They chose the latter.

I happen to agree with that strategy, if one assumes that you only have one shot at this. But, I also propose another scenario: Do both. Draw up articles of impeachment on the narrow case of Ukraine, but don’t close the impeachment inquiry. Keep it open and ready to draw up more articles as new corruption is uncovered. Impeach Trump repeatedly if necessary.

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents a president from being impeached more than once.

Trump and his administration are stonewalling in every way possible, refusing to produce administration officials for testimony and refusing to produce documents.

U.S. House logoIn many cases, Democrats in the House have taken the administration to court over its stonewalling, but court cases take time. It could be months, if not years, before there is a judgment in those cases.

But, as we are learning with the Ukraine case, Trump’s contempt for law, propriety and process is boundless. He clearly abused the power of his office when attempting to pressure that country into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.

The impeachment inquiry needs to remain open after the Ukraine affair, not only to allow the cases in the courts to be resolved, but also to allow future whistle-blowers’ information to be immediately considered in the context of impeachment.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Oct. 2, 2019. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public U.S. House logostatements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since last month, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response.

  • 226 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 193 No, not now, or undecided
  •   14 Awaiting response

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

Oct. 6

Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

Associated Press, AP sources: Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm, Desmond Butler, Michael Biesecker and Richard Lardner, Oct. 6, 2019. As Rudy ap logoGiuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.

It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts. And it’s unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.

But the affair shows how those with ties to Trump and his administration were pursuing business deals in Ukraine that went far beyond advancing the president’s personal political interests. It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

On Friday, according to the news site Axios, Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that it had been Perry who had prompted the phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” regarding Biden. Axios cited a source saying Trump said Perry had asked Trump to make the call to discuss “something about an LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant.”

While it’s unclear whether Trump’s remark Friday referred specifically to the behind-the-scenes maneuvers this spring involving the multibillion-dollar state gas company, The Associated Press has interviewed four people with direct knowledge of the attempts to influence Naftogaz, and their accounts show Perry playing a key role in the effort. Three of the four spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The fourth is an American businessman with close ties to the Ukrainian energy sector.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani just got caught trying to extort huge amounts of money out of a Ukraine gas company, Bill Palmer, Oct. 6, 2019. We should have seen it coming. For narcissistic projectionist con artists like Donald Trump an Rudy Giuliani, the first rule is to always falsely accuse the other side of what you yourself are doing wrong. Rudy has gone off the deep end falsely accusing Joe and Hunter Biden of abusing their political influence in Ukraine for personal monetary gain. Well guess what?

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday Donald Trump told House Republicans that he didn’t even want to call Ukrainian President Zelensky, and that he only did it because his Secretary of Energy Rick Perry pushed him to speak to Zelensky about a Ukrainian gas company. This came amid reports that Perry had been abusing his position to try to get the company to hire his pals from Texas. But now a separate report suggests that Rudy Giuliani was actually the ringleader when it came to the gas company corruption.

The AP is reporting tonight ( AP sources: Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm) that numerous “businessmen and Republican donors” were pressuring Ukraine to steer huge contracts to Donald Trump’s allies – and these folks were all telling Ukraine that they were acting on behalf of Rudy Giuliani. This is nothing short of stunning. It means Trump and Rudy weren’t just leaning on Ukraine for help in rigging the 2020 election – they were trying to extort huge amounts of money out of Ukraine and put it djt rudy giuliani Customin the pockets of their friends.

This is more or less what Rudy Giuliani has been falsely accusing the Bidens of doing in Ukraine. Now it turns out Rudy is the one who has been doing it. This may help explain why Rudy has been so frantically pushing the fake Biden scandal. It’s not that most people were ever going to believe Rudy’s crazy lies. It’s that he was hoping to distract us from the fact that he and Trump are the ones who have been trying to extort money out of Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Meet the Ukrainian Ex-Prosecutor Behind the Impeachment Furor, Andrew E. Kramer, Andrew Higgins and Michael Schwirtz, Oct. 6, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s allies, urging a Biden inquiry, embraced a prosecutor with no legal training and a record of using the law as a political weapon. The prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, right, is now central to the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

yuriy lutsenkoAs soon as he got the invitation from Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, it was abundantly clear to him what Mr. Trump’s allies were after.

“I understood very well what would interest them,” Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s recently fired prosecutor general, said in an extensive interview in London. “I have 23 years in politics. I knew.”

“I’m a political animal,” he added.

When Mr. Lutsenko sat down with Mr. Giuliani in New York in January, he recalled, his expectations were confirmed: The president’s lawyer wanted him to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter.

It was the start of what both sides hoped would be a mutually beneficial relationship — but one that is now central to the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

ny times logojoe biden oNew York Times, Biden Faced His Biggest Challenge, and Struggled to Form a Response, Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck, Oct. 6, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s allies, urging a Biden inquiry, embraced a prosecutor with no legal training and a record of using the law as a political weapon. The prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, As Mr. Trump made unfounded allegations about Joe Biden and his son, the former vice president was torn over what to do. He now looks vulnerable.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Hunter Biden story is a troubling tale of privilege, David Von Drehle, Oct. 6, 2019 (print ed.). For all his barking and hucksterism, Rudy Giuliani (right) is having limited success drawing the gullible into his sideshow tent. But the fact that Giuliani’s spectacle involving the Biden family is as phony as a horse that does arithmetic does not mean there is no story worth examining. rudy giuliani recentThe real story of Joe Biden and his troubled son Hunter (below left) is full of pain and littered with questions and deeply relevant to our populist moment.

I claim no intimate knowledge of this story beyond the soul-baring that Hunter performed with reporter Adam Entous of the New Yorker — In-Depth Report: Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?, an airing of family laundry without precedent, that I can recall, in the rollout of a presidential campaign. To that text I add the widely shared experience of an addict in the family, plus several hunter bidendecades spent listening to Americans talk about the people who seek to lead them.

In sum, the story of the Bidens, father and son, is more pathetic than nefarious. Yet it might do damage anyway. Less privileged Americans can’t be faulted if they wonder why their addicted loved ones are on the streets or in the morgue while the vice president’s son is blessed with diamonds and sinecures. Multitudes locked up for years under Joe Biden’s crime bill might ask why the author’s son traveled the world scot-free. And sober working people making $50,000 a year may be skeptical of a system in which a vice president’s addicted son reportedly collected that sum every month.

See also:  The New Yorker, In-Depth Report: Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign? Adam Entous, July 1, 2019 (July 8 & 15, 2019 Issue). Joe Biden’s son is under scrutiny for his business dealings and tumultuous personal life. In speeches, Biden rarely talks about Hunter. But news outlets on the right and mainstream media organizations, including the Times, have homed in on him, reprising old controversies over Hunter’s work for a bank, for a lobbying firm, and for a hedge fund, and scrutinizing his business dealings in China and Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I worked in the White House during impeachment. Trump’s team isn’t ready for it, Joe Lockhart (White House Press Secretary from 1998 to 2000 during the Clinton administration and co-hosts of the podcast “Words Matter”), Oct. 6, 2019 (print ed.). As press secretary — a perilous job during normal times — I personally felt the pressure to not make a mistake from the lectern, with every word I spoke analyzed for both real and supposedly hidden meanings.

We survived the process because we were disciplined about keeping the president out of the impeachment debate. We had an aggressive and experienced legal, communications and political team. Most important, we never turned on one another. While being in the foxhole was never comfortable, it was comforting to know who was in there with me.

My sense is this White House has none of these things. Its lawyers have yet to develop a legal theory to extricate the president from his predicament and instead seem to be devoting all their energies to stonewalling Congress. No “war room” has been set up to plan the response — any such operation “would be [an] overreaction on our part,” Kellyanne Conway blithely told the New York Times. The political and communications infrastructure is nonexistent, with internal factions vying for control. In the meantime, the official response to developments seems to be whatever the president thinks to say. Everything seems to run from Trump’s Twitter account.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi-backed group gives House Democrats cover amid impeachment probe, Mike DeBonis, Oct. 6, 2019. A Democratic group with close ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to spend more than $1 million on ads set to begin airing this week aimed at bolstering a handful of vulnerable House Democrats as the impeachment probe unfolds.

The ads from House Majority Forward, examples of which were reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention the word “impeachment.” Instead, they focus solely on the accomplishments of the 11 individual lawmakers targeted in the campaign.

Oct. 5

Impeachment Daily Index

 

Impeachment Inquiry Update

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Oct. 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Investigators Subpoena White House and Ask Pence for Documents on Ukraine, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 5, 2019 (print ed.). House impeachment investigators widened the reach of their inquiry on Friday, subpoenaing the White House for a vast trove of documents and requesting more from Vice President Mike Pence to better understand President Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

mick mulvaney omb SmallThe subpoena, addressed to Mick Mulvaney, right, the acting White House chief of staff, calls for documents and communications that are highly delicate and would typically be subject in almost any White House to claims of executive privilege. If handed over by the Oct. 18 deadline, the records could provide keys to understanding what transpired between the two countries and what steps, if any, the White House has taken to cover it up.

The request for records from a sitting vice president is unusual in its own right, and Mr. Pence’s office quickly signaled he may not comply. In a letter to Mr. Pence, the chairmen of three House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry wrote that they were interested in “any role you may have played” in conveying Mr. Trump’s views to Ukraine. They asked for a lengthy list of documents detailing the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, to be produced by Oct. 15.

The actions came at the end of another day of fast-moving developments in the House impeachment investigation, which is centered on allegations that Mr. Trump and his administration worked to bend America’s diplomatic apparatus for his own political benefit.

Related story: Washington Post, House Democrats send subpoena to White House, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Marisa Iati, Oct. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry requested a long list of documents and communications Friday from Vice President Pence related to Ukraine.

U.S. House logoEarlier, President Trump said that Democrats “unfortunately have the votes” to impeach him in the House, but he predicted he would “win” in a trial in the Republican-led Senate.

“The Republicans are very unified,” Trump said, as he again insisted he had said nothing inappropriate during the July call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump’s comments to reporters at the White House came as fallout continued Friday from the late-night release of text messages by House investigators, while another key figure, the inspector general of the intelligence community, testified on Capitol Hill behind closed doors.

Politico, Perry pressed Ukraine on corruption, energy company changes, Ben Lefebvre and Daniel Lippman, Oct. 5, 2019. The energy secretary's role in rick perry opushing the president's message in Kiev was more extensive than publicly known, people familiar with Perry's activities tell Politico. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, right, urged Ukraine's president to root out corruption and pushed the new government for changes at its state-run oil and gas company, people familiar with his work said Friday — indications that he was more deeply involved than previously known in President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure officials in Kiev.

The people said they have no indication that Perry explicitly called on Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the issue that has spawned a House impeachment inquiry into Trump. But at the very least, they said, Perry played an active role in the Trump administration's efforts to shape decisions by the newly elected government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Among other changes, Perry pushed for Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to expand its board to include Americans, two people familiar with the matter said. Two long-time energy executives based in Perry’s home state of Texas were among those under consideration for that role, one source familiar with the administration’s dealings with the company said.

Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes did not comment on whether Perry had sought to expand the board, but said he has “consistently called for the modernization and reform of Kiev's business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business in Ukraine.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Holding Ukraine hostage: How Trump and his allies fanned a political storm, Greg Miller, Paul Sonne, Greg Jaffe and Michael Birnbaum, Oct. 5, 2019. Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, seized control of the Ukraine portfolio to help the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Gordon Sondland, a wealthy hotelier turned ambassador, became the latest key player in the Ukraine inquiry, Meagan Flynn, Oct. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had barely been on the job for a year when he found himself knee-deep gordon sondland oin negotiations with the Ukrainian president over President Trump’s desired political investigations.

For weeks leading up to an explosive whistleblower’s complaint, Sondland, a wealthy hotelier from Portland, Ore., worked behind the scenes to carry out Trump’s wishes in a country that’s not part of the European Union. The ambassador, left, met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to give “advice” about how to “navigate” Trump’s demands, the whistleblower reported. And in text messages turned over to House investigators Thursday, he insisted that Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was not a quid pro quo — as diplomat William B. “Bill” Taylor had feared, according to the texts.

The hotel magnate’s support for Trump had ebbed and flowed over the years, ranging from outright disavowal during Trump’s campaign to a $1 million donation ahead of Trump’s inauguration.

• Sondland to give deposition to House panels next week in impeachment probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s calls with foreign leaders have long worried aides, leaving some ‘genuinely horrified,’ Carol D. Leonnig, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 5, 2019, (print ed.). Starting long before revelations about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president rocked Washington, Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders were an anxiety-ridden set of events for his aides and members of the administration, according to former and current officials. They worried that Trump would make promises he shouldn’t keep, endorse policies the United States long opposed, commit a diplomatic blunder that jeopardized a critical alliance, or simply pressure a counterpart for a personal favor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Emerging evidence buttresses whistleblower complaint, Rosalind S. Helderman, Oct. 5, 2019. New documents, firsthand accounts and statements by President Trump himself that corroborate the claims have emerged on a near-daily basis.

• Russia seeks leverage as Ukraine slides deeper into impeachment probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls for Romney’s impeachment after senator’s criticism, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 5, 2019. The president’s tweet also brought up the failed 2012 presidential bid of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and claims he begged for an endorsement and to be secretary of state.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes berserk and starts cursing out Mitt Romney, Bill Palmer, Oct. 5, 2019. As Donald Trump’s criminal scandals got worse this week and his inevitable downfall became more apparent, a few Republican Senators tried to insulate themselves from his implosion by attacking him with various degrees of forcefulness. Mitt Romney was the most outspoken of the anti-Trump bunch, calling Trump’s China scandal “appalling” yesterday.

bill palmer report logo headerAlways slow on the draw when it comes to these things, Donald Trump finally got around to firing back at Mitt Romney this morning, nearly twenty-four hours too late for it to count for anything. But what Trump lacked in timeliness, he made up for in, well, profanity. Trump started off like this: “Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one, and my statement on China pertained to corruption, not politics.” It went downhill from there.

Trump then decided to just start cursing out a United States Senator: “Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous “ass” who has been mitt romney wfighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him).”

Okay, we all get it. Mitt Romney, left, is a sniveling, flip-flopping coward. And we all know he’s only doing this because he figures that if Trump and Pence are ousted, perhaps he’ll get to be the 2020 Republican nominee for president. But while no one likes or respects Romney, at least he didn’t commit treason in the name of trying to rig an election. Trump is off the rails already, and the day is still just getting started.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment probe widens the divide Democrats hoped to bridge, Mike DeBonis and Amber Phillips, Oct. 5, 2019. Days after House Democrats united behind a formal impeachment investigation of President Trump, apprehensive lawmakers went home and found themselves immediately questioned about their stance.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Out on a limb’: Inside the Republican reckoning over Trump’s possible impeachment, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Oct. 5, 2019. Democrats decry 'blind partisan loyalty,' as Republicans keep defending Trump. A torrent of impeachment developments has triggered a reckoning in the Republican Party, paralyzing many of its officeholders as they weigh their political futures, legacies and, ultimately, their allegiance to a president who has held them captive.

President Trump’s efforts to pressure a foreign power to target a domestic political rival have driven his party into a bunker, with lawmakers bracing for an extended battle led by a general whose orders are often confusing and contradictory.

ny times logoNew York Times, 2nd Official Weighs Filing Complaint Over Trump’s Ukraine Dealings, Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman, Oct. 5, 2019 (print ed.). A second intelligence official alarmed by President Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine is considering filing his own formal complaint. The official, who corroborated the allegations of the original whistle-blower, has more direct information about the events.

A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people said.

michael atkinson oThe inspector general, Michael Atkinson, right, briefed lawmakers privately on Friday about how he substantiated the whistle-blower’s account. It was not clear whether he told lawmakers that the second official is considering filing a complaint.

A new complaint, particularly from someone closer to the events, would potentially add further credibility to the account of the first whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the National Security Council at one point. He said that he relied on information from more than a half-dozen American officials to compile his allegations about Mr. Trump’s campaign to solicit foreign election interference that could benefit him politically.

Other evidence has emerged to back the whistle-blower’s claim. A reconstructed transcript of a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky released by the White House also showed Mr. Trump pressuring Ukraine. Mr. Trump appeared to believe that its release would quell the push for impeachment, but it only emboldened House Democrats.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Denies Quid Pro Quo, but Envoys Had Their Doubts, Peter Baker, Oct. 5, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump denied any quid pro quo in pushing Ukraine to investigate his foes, but text messages indicate that his team saw it otherwise. The messages could shape the impeachment inquiry that is threatening Mr. Trump’s presidency.

President Trump has repeatedly denied that there was any quid pro quo attached to his pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, but a new batch of text messages released late Thursday night indicated that his own representatives saw it differently.

donald trump twitterEnvoys representing Mr. Trump sought to leverage the power of his office to prod Ukraine into opening investigations that would damage his Democratic opponents at home. They made clear to Ukrainian officials that the White House invitation their newly inaugurated leader coveted depended on his commitment to the investigations.

And the senior American diplomat posted in Ukraine suspected it went even further than a trade of an Oval Office visit, telling colleagues that it appeared to him that unfreezing $391 million in American aid that Mr. Trump had blocked was contingent on the former Soviet republic following through on the politically charged investigations sought by the president and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s order will deny visas to immigrants who lack health-care coverage, Maria Sacchetti, Oct. 5, 2019.​ The rule comes as the president is intensifying his efforts to fulfill his campaign promises to curb immigration.

stephen miller nbc screenshot whAnalysts said the proclamation appears to target family-based migration, the type of “chain migration” that the Trump administration and White House aide Stephen Miller, right, an immigration hawk, have been unable to persuade Congress to reduce. The White House has pushed for policies that would ICE logofavor wealthier immigrants with special skills over immigrants from poorer countries, including in Latin America.

Doug Rand, a former White House official in the Obama administration who worked on immigration policy, said Trump’s proclamation is likely to affect the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens waiting overseas for permission to come to the United States, including parents, spouses and siblings. Children are exempt. He said the new rules would not affect the immigrants already in the United States.

Oct. 4

Impeachment Daily Index

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump publicly calls on China to open investigation into Bidens, Philip Rucker, Rachael Bade and Colby Itkowitz, china flag SmallOct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s brazen request seemed to make a mockery of the charge that he abused his office by pressing Ukraine’s leader to examine unfounded allegations of corruption by the Bidens.

• Trump’s removal would need GOP dissidents. But those who speak out are targeted.

Palmer Report, CIA General Counsel has referred Donald Trump for criminal charges, Bill Palmer, Oct. 4, 2019. At this point Donald Trump has a lot more to cia logoworry about than just whether he’ll be impeached and removed from office. He also has to worry about the increasing probability that he’ll be criminally indicted, arrested, put on trial, and sent to prison after he’s ousted from office. Today, that narrative took a major turn.

Because the Ukraine whistleblower is a CIA agent, he first took his concerns to the CIA General Counsel. We’ve known this for several days. But what we didn’t know until just now is that, according to a bombshell from NBC News, the CIA General Counsel responded by bill palmer report logo headermaking a criminal referral against Donald Trump {shown in a Palmer Report graphic] to the Department of Justice.

Why is this important?

Donald Trump’s corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr isn’t going to allow the CIA’s criminal case against Donald Trump to result in an indictment against Trump, for obvious reasons. But Barr is running out of rope here, as he’s one of the people accused of criminal wrongdoing in the whistleblower djt prison palmer reportcomplaint. At some point the House impeachment inquiry will manage to force Barr to step away for fear of ending up in prison himself, either through resignation or recusal. That’ll create a situation where the new person in charge can rip up the policy about not indicting a sitting president, and Trump can be indicted.

Not only does this create a new avenue for Donald Trump’s ouster, it also helps cement that Trump will end up criminally indicted on federal charges. If it doesn’t happen before he leaves office, it’ll now certainly happen the minute he’s ousted. This is in addition to the state-level charges in New York that are looming against Trump, which can’t be pardoned by any current or future president.

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Fringe Theory About Ukraine Took Root in the White House, Scott Shane, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). We untangle the false conspiracy theory — involving Democrats, the 2016 election and hackers — that Mr. Trump raised in his call to Ukraine.

In an April 2017 interview with The Associated Press, President Trump suddenly began talking about the hack of the Democratic National Committee a year earlier, complaining that the F.B.I. had not physically examined the compromised server.

“They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based,” the president said.

“CrowdStrike?” the surprised reporter asked, referring to the California cybersecurity company that investigated how Russian government hackers had stolen and leaked Democratic emails, disrupting Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“That’s what I heard,” Mr. Trump resumed. “I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian; that’s what I heard.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: For Trump, Ukraine is a story of personal resentment and political opportunism, David Ignatius, right, Oct. 4, 2019.  Through all of david ignatiusPresident Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, he has rarely focused on doing the job for which he was elected — steering the foreign policy of the United States. Instead, for Trump, Ukraine has been a continuing story of personal resentment and political opportunism.

A narrative of the Ukraine affair, drawn from conversations with some of the principals, text messages released by the House and other documentation, solidly supports the claim of the still­anonymous whistleblower that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Biden deserves some blame, too. Putting aside the false Trump conspiracy theories about him, Biden used poor judgment in playing a roll on Ukraine policy while his son Hunter was working for Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Either the son should have quit, or the father should have shut up. Denying this obvious fact only weakens the Democrats’ case against Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump wanted Ukraine to launch probes before meeting with Zelensky, texts show, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson, Oct. 4, 2019. The text messages, which former special envoy Kurt Volker provided to investigators on Thursday, reveal that officials felt President Trump would not agree to meet with the Ukrainian president unless there was a promise to launch the investigations.

U.S. House logoHouse investigators released numerous text messages late Thursday night illustrating how senior State Department officials coordinated with the Ukrainian president’s top aide and President Trump’s personal lawyer to leverage a potential summit between the heads of state on a promise from the Ukrainians to investigate the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed the son of 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

[Read the documents: House Democrats’ letter on State Department texts]

The texts, which former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker provided investigators during a nearly 10-hour deposition Thursday, reveal that kurt volkerofficials felt Trump would not agree to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky unless Zelensky promised to launch the investigations — and did so publicly.

Although the texts do not mention Biden by name, congressional Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry are pointing to them as clear evidence that Trump conditioned normal bilateral relations with Ukraine on that country first agreeing “to launch politically motivated investigations,” top Democrats said in statement Thursday night.

• Analysis: 3 deeply problematic aspects of the texts

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor to ‘audit’ company that recruited Hunter Biden for its board, Will Englund, Oct. 4, 2019. ​A criminal probe of the company was closed in 2016, and Ukraine’s chief prosecutor said he wants to find out why. President Trump has alleged it was because of pressure by then-Vice President Joe Biden.

Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor said Friday his office will conduct an “audit” of an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that had recruited Hunter Biden for its board.

A criminal probe of the company was closed in 2016, and President Trump has alleged it was because of pressure by Hunter Biden’s father, then-Vice President Joe Biden. Trump has insisted that Ukraine open a new investigation.

Ukrainian officials said previously that the probe was focused on the years 2010 to 2012, before the younger Biden joined the board. They also have said that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.

Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka reiterated at a news conference Friday that he knows of no evidence of criminal activity by Biden.

He said that he is aware of at least 15 investigations that may have touched on Burisma, its owner Nikolai Zlochevsky, an associate named Serhiy Zerchenko, and Biden, and that all will be reviewed. He said no foreign or Ukrainian official has been in touch with him to request this audit. The audit does not mark a reopening of the investigation, but it could buy Ukraine some time in dealing with the White House, analysts said.

• Live updates: Schiff takes issue with Trump’s assertion he has ‘absolute right’ to seek foreign help on corruption

washington post logokurt volkerWashington Post, Volker says he warned Giuliani that Ukrainian claims were not credible, John Hudson, Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian​, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Kurt D. Volker, right, the former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, is said to have testified that he told Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani that the Ukrainian officials offering derogatory information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son were unreliable.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Diplomats Pushed Ukraine to Commit to Investigations, Kenneth P. Vogel and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Two of President Trump’s envoys drafted a statement for Ukraine’s leader that would have committed him to investigations of Mr. Trump’s rivals. The statement was new evidence of how Mr. Trump’s fixation with Ukraine drove diplomats to bend American foreign policy.

Two of President Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement for the country’s new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals, three people briefed on the effort said.

The drafting of the statement is new evidence of how Mr. Trump’s fixation with Ukraine and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the president’s political agenda in the weeks after the July 25 call william taylor o Custombetween the two leaders.

The statement was drafted by Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s envoy to Ukraine, according to the three people who have been briefed on it.

Mr. Volker spent Thursday on Capitol Hill being questioned by House investigators as Democrats pursued their impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s actions. He disclosed a set of texts in September in which William B. Taylor Jr., right, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, alluded to Mr. Trump’s decision earlier in the summer to freeze a military aid package to the country. He told Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Israel also involved in digging up dirt on the Bidens on behalf of Trump, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 4, 2019 (subscription required). By Donald Trump’s own admission and through documents provided by an Intelligence Community whistleblower and former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Paul Volker it is known that the Trump administration pressured four countries to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The countries involved in the Trump operation are Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Australia, and China.

washington post logoWashington Post, Foreign allies who gambled on Trump face big losses, Adam Taylor, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s political weakness at home is beginning to cause problems for world leaders who allied themselves with him.

The Trump administration has had a rough few weeks, but spare a thought for the president’s closest foreign allies. From Britain to Australia, Japan to Saudi Arabia, foreign leaders who decided to gamble on America’s unpredictable leader are probably wondering whether they made a losing bet.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomIn the United States, the ongoing scandal about President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sparked a swell of momentum for impeachment. Democrats argue that the phone call, in which Trump said Zelensky should open a criminal investigation against the son of one of his rivals, amounted to an abuse of office.

There have been reports that Trump pushed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Australian Prime Minister Scott boris johnson hand up unsourcedMorrison for information. Johnson and Morrison had endeavored to maintain good relations with Trump, but in both countries, the American president is an unpopular figure. According to Pew, last year just 32 percent of Australians and 28 percent of Britons said they had confidence in Trump.

Appearing subservient to such an unpopular figure carries real political risk for any foreign ally — particularly in Britain, Australia and Italy, where the governments are already struggling with their own instability and questions of legitimacy.

washington post logoWashington Post, IRS whistleblower is said to have reported concerns that Treasury appointee attempted to interfere in audit of Trump or Pence, Jeff Stein, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). An Internal Revenue Service ­official has filed a whistleblower complaint reporting that he was told that at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of the president’s or vice president’s tax returns, according to multiple people familiar with the document.

Trump administration officials dismissed the whistleblower’s complaint as flimsy because it is based on conversations with other government officials. irs logoBut congressional Democrats were alarmed by the complaint, now circulating on Capitol Hill, and flagged it in a federal court filing. They are also discussing whether to make it public.

The details of the IRS complaint follow news of a separate, explosive whistleblower complaint filed in August by a member of the intelligence community. That complaint revealed Trump’s request of Ukranian leaders to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival. It has spurred an impeachment probe on Capitol Hill.

The IRS complaint has come amid the escalating legal battle between the Treasury Department and House Democrats over the release of President Trump’s tax returns. Part of that inquiry from Democrats is over how the IRS conducts its annual audit of the president’s and vice president’s tax returns. That process is supposed to be walled off from political appointees and interference.

President Trump has broken decades of precedent by refusing to publicly release his tax returns. Democrats filed a lawsuit earlier this year demanding the disclosure of those filings, invoking a federal law designed to give Congress access to any tax return.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, the Self-Impeaching President, Editorial Board, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Now he wants China to investigate the Bidens and help his re-election bid. Give him this, he’s not subtle. Federal law expressly states that it is illegal for “a person to solicit, accept, or receive” anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a United States election.

china flag SmallYet there stood President Trump outside the White House on Thursday, openly soliciting help from a foreign government for his re-election prospects by declaring to the assembled press that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.” This, of course, after Mr. Trump has already become subject to an impeachment inquiry after implicating himself in a scheme to seek foreign help for his campaign in a conversation with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

This might seem self-defeating — “self-impeaching,” even.

ny times logoNew York Times, No evidence has emerged that Joe Biden traded favors with China to help his son. Here’s what we know, Sharon LaFraniere and Michael Forsythe, Oct. 4, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s latest broadside against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter appears to center on a joint venture that involved the younger Mr. Biden and some of China’s leading state-owned financial companies.

But the president’s claims bear little if any relation to the known facts.

Without presenting any evidence, Mr. Trump suggested on Thursday that China showered $1.5 billion on Hunter Biden in order to influence his father and win favorable trade deals with the United States.

“That’s probably why China for so many years has had a sweetheart deal where China rips off the U.S.A.” because they deal with people like “Biden where they give the son a billion and a half dollars,” Mr. Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, adding: “You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

Companies associated with Hunter Biden or his business partners have struck several deals involving China over the past decade. So, in fact, have Mr. Trump’s own relatives — a point that Mr. Trump does not mention in his now almost-daily accusations against the former vice president, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son.

But while the extent of Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China is not entirely clear, no evidence has emerged of how much money the younger Mr. Biden may have earned. In fact, his lawyer says he has earned nothing from the venture that the president is apparently citing. Nor is there any evidence that his father traded favors with the Chinese government to help his son.

Oct. 3

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

Impeachment Inquiry Update

djt vlodomir zelinsky getty

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with President Trump in person on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (Photo by Doug Mills of the New York Times).

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Ukraine envoy arrives to testify; Pelosi knocks GOP colleagues, John Wagner​, Oct. 3, 2019.  Kurt D. Volker, who resigned last week as the special envoy for Ukraine, arrived for a closed-door interview in front of three House committees, accelerating the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry. Here’s the latest.

President Trump on Thursday called on both Ukraine and China to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter in relation to the younger Biden’s business dealings during the tenure of the former vice president.

kurt volkerThe comments came as Kurt D. Volker, left, who resigned last week as the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine, was being interviewed behind closed doors in front of three House committees, accelerating the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.

Volker was among the officials mentioned by name in the whistleblower report raising concerns about Trump’s July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son.

In a television interview that aired earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused her Republican colleagues of being loyal to President Trump and not the Constitution.

President Trump spoke to reporters Oct. 3 on his way to Joint Base Andrews.

• ‘This is when the inquiry gets real’: Former envoy to Ukraine testifies today

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump involved Pence in attempts to pressure Ukraine’s leader, officials say, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Ashley Parker, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Officials close to Vice President Pence insist he was unaware of President Trump’s efforts to press the Ukrainian president for damaging information mike pence oabout Joe Biden and his son, who had served on the board of an Ukrainian gas company when his father oversaw U.S. policy on Ukraine.

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.

Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats warn ‘we’re not fooling around,’ say White House will face subpoena, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez​, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Leaders of two House committees made statements aimed at the White House, saying that a subpoena would be issued Friday and warning that adam schiff squarestonewalling against the impeachment inquiry could lead to an article of impeachment on obstruction of justice. “We’re not fooling around here,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right.

• Inquiry puts new focus on Giuliani’s work for prominent figures in Ukraine​

washington post logoWashington Post, Odd markings fuel doubts about rough transcript of Trump-Ukraine call, Carol D. Leonnig, Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Oct. 3, 2019. Current and former U.S. officials studying the document say some of its elements indicate it may have been handled unusually.

President Trump said Wednesday that his controversial July call with his Ukrainian counterpart was transcribed “word-for-word, comma-for-comma,” an assertion that fueled growing questions about the nature and completeness of an official memorandum about the call released by the White House last week.

“This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers,” Trump said.

White House officials previously had portrayed the document as not a verbatim transcription but rather a summary that closely tracked the words the president used in his July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. They said it was being released in a bid to bring transparency and clarity to a call at the heart of a consuming political scandal that has sparked a House impeachment investigation.

But the whistleblower complaint that spurred the investigation described an “official word-for-word transcript” of the call — words closely matching the ones used by Trump on Wednesday — creating uncertainty about what was included in the document the White House released last week and what may have been left out.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you three-quarters of the Trump-Ukraine phone call summary was missing, Bill Palmer, Oct. 3, 2019. When the Trump White House released a summary of the fateful phone call between Donald Trump and the President of Ukraine, it was damning enough to get him impeached all on its own. But at the time, Palmer Report pointed out that something was missing. In fact it looked like most of it was missing. Now it turns we weren’t just imagining it, because a Senator sees it too.

bill palmer report logo headerJust prior to the release of the phone call summary, major media outlets reported that during the course of the call, Donald Trump had asked the President of Ukraine eight separate times to work with Rudy Giuliani on promoting the fake Biden scandal. But the summary only included two of those eight times. We figured that since only one-fourth of the Rudy mentions were present, the other three-fourths of the phone call must have been omitted from the transcript.

That was some rather simplistic math on our part, but it turns out we were pretty close. Senator Angus King had his staff read the phone call summary aloud, and it took them barely ten minutes. But the phone call is said to have lasted thirty minutes. So by Senator King’s math, roughly two-thirds of the phone call has been omitted from the transcript.

It doesn’t really matter if our estimate that 75% of the phone call is missing from the summary, or if King’s estimate that 67% of the phone call is missing, is more accurate. What matters is that this is another data point that suggests the Trump White House is trying to trick us into believing that most of the phone call didn’t happen. If the damning summary is what they were willing to admit to, just how ugly were the parts they omitted?

 Finland's President Sauli Niinisto joins Donald Trump at the White House on Oct. 2, 2019 (Screengrab via PBS)

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto joins Donald Trump at the White House on Oct. 2, 2019 (Screengrab via PBS)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rides a roller coaster of grievance, victimhood and braggadocio as Finland’s leader looks on, Toluse Olorunnipa, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The combustible mix of President Trump’s emotions has only become more potent as he faces a growing impeachment threat. The rowdy, meandering and combative news conference Wednesday began with President Trump marveling at the media.

“Look at all the press that you attract,” he told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto as the two men faced a room of reporters. “Do you believe this? Very impressive.”

It ended with Trump excoriating the press as “corrupt people” who undermine U.S. democracy. “If the press were straight and honest and forthright and tough we would be a far greater nation,” he said.

For the 40 minutes in between, the East Room of the White House played host to a roller coaster display of the grievances, victimhood, falsehoods and braggadocio.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House weighs an appeal to Democrats in GOP districts to stop impeachment, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 3, 2019.  The outreach campaign would target some of the 31 Democrats in districts Trump won, a pursuit at odds with attack ads from the Trump campaign and RNC.

White House officials intent on stopping the House from impeaching President Trump are considering appealing to moderate Democrats in Republican districts to stand with the president, a pursuit at odds with fresh political attacks from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The nascent outreach campaign would target some of the 31 Democrats from congressional districts Trump won in 2016, many of whom ran on rebuilding infrastructure, improving trade deals and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, according to multiple officials familiar with the strategy.

Democratic leaders dismissed the notion that the White House could win over moderates with policy promises. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said that her caucus is more than willing to work with the president while they continue investigating him.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, said the appeal would be based on these Democrats’ 2018 election promises to work with the president — accompanied with a warning that impeachment would hamper possible legislative victories.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's hat tip to violent supporters marks America's decline to Third World status, Oct. 3, 2019 (with 1:30 min. video) (subscription required). One sign of an autocracy is the appearance of street mobs in support of the actual or would-be dictator.....

On October 2, Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren arrived to a group of pro-Trump protesters at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada. These protesters were able to harangue Warren at a distance that the Secret Service would find much too close for comfort.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump speaks about whistleblower, says China should investigate Bidens, Oct. 3, 2019 (video). President Trump spoke to reporters Oct. 3 on his way to Joint Base Andrews.

 ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Tell White House Subpoena Is Coming, Nicholas Fandos and Peter Baker, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). House leaders threatened to subpoena the White House counsel if he did not hand over a broad range of records on the Ukraine matter by Friday. The subpoena threat came as House Democratic leaders were preparing to lay out the next steps in their rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry.

U.S. House logoHouse Democrats moved on Wednesday to compel the White House to cooperate in their impeachment inquiry, announcing plans to issue a subpoena by Friday if it did not comply with broad requests for documents related to President Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival, and any attempt to conceal his actions.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, notified his panel of the impending subpoena on Wednesday. He said the White House had thus far ignored voluntary requests he submitted with the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees.

“I do not take this step lightly,” Mr. Cummings wrote. “Over the past several weeks, the committees tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents, but the White House has refused to engage with — or even respond to — the committees.”

The subpoena threat was the latest sign that the House was pushing ahead quickly with an aggressive investigation that has taken shape in just over two weeks, after revelations about attempts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. The allegations, detailed in a whistle-blower complaint, have escalated into an impeachment inquiry that threatens Mr. Trump’s presidency and is plainly enraging him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Echoes of Benghazi Criticism and Anger Confront Pompeo in Ukraine Inquiry, Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). mike pompeo portraitSecretary of State Mike Pompeo once accused the Obama administration of obstructing a House inquiry. He now faces a similar charge. As a member of Congress, Mike Pompeo, right drove the Republican inquiry into the killing of a United States ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and made clear there was no place for politics in American diplomacy. Nor, he said, would he tolerate “dithering” by an Obama administration State Department that he called “deeply obstructive of getting the American people the facts that they needed.”

Now, as secretary of state, Mr. Pompeo is facing a political crisis that directly challenges his leadership of the department he once excoriated. He is accused by House Democrats of blocking their impeachment inquiry by resisting the release of information to Congress that may shed light on the Trump administration’s shadow foreign policy with Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pompeo Confirms He Listened to Trump’s Call to Ukraine President, Jason Horowitz and Richard Pérez-Peña, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). “I was on the phone call,” the American secretary of state said at a news conference in Rome — the first time he has addressed the topic publicly.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Wednesday that he had listened in on President Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine — a call that has become the subject of a whistle-blower’s complaint and is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.

“I was on the phone call,” Mr. Pompeo said at a news conference in Rome — the first time he has addressed the topic publicly since reports surfaced that he had heard the exchange.

He did not elaborate on the conversation and did not answer a question about whether anything in it had raised a red flag for him.

In the July 25 call, Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the activities in Ukraine of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani has consulted on Ukraine with imprisoned Paul Manafort via a lawyer, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Paul Sonne and Rosalind S. Helderman, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s attorney is promoting a narrative that the real story of 2016 is not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton.

rudy giulianiIn his quest to rewrite the history of the 2016 election, President Trump’s personal attorney has turned to an unusual source of information: Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, in recent months has consulted several times with Manafort through the federal prisoner’s lawyer in pursuit of information about a disputed ledger that would bolster his theory that the real story of 2016 is not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton.

The alliance, which Giuliani acknowledged in an interview this week with The Washington Post, stems from a shared interest in a narrative that undermines the rationale for the special counsel investigation. That inquiry led to Manafort’s imprisonment on tax and financial fraud allegations related to his work in Kiev for the political party of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The future president is shown at right with the corrupt Republican fixer Roy Cohn, Trump's one-time mentor, attorney and Manhattan nightlife companion before Cohn's 1986 death from AIDS.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Commentary: The Mafia Style in American Politics: Roy Cohn connects the McCarthy era to the age of Trump across more than half a century, George Packer, Oct. 3,2019.  In the new documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? nothing is more mesmerizing and disturbing than Cohn’s eyes: flat and hooded; rare flickers of charm, but void of emotion by default; darkly staring down his prey in TV footage from the ’50s; washed-out blue and shifting away when asked whether he is gay and dying of AIDS in the ’80s. Cohn once included among his flaws “a total failure to sympathize with the emotional element in life.” The eyes turn his face — especially after the skin has been pulled taut by cosmetic surgery — into a living death mask. And throughout the film, these lifeless eyes keep appearing in other guises, other faces: the puffy, drowning drunk’s eyes of Joe McCarthy; the close-set reptilian stare of Roger Stone; the tight, appraising eyes of Donald Trump.

Cohn’s life connects the McCarthy era to the age of Trump across more than half a century — a dark thread in American politics. Cohn was trained as a lawyer, but he was a fixer by trade. McCarthy hired him as chief counsel to his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and made him infamous as a Communist hunter. Cohn in turn mentored Stone, who got his start as a Nixon dirty trickster and later introduced Cohn to Ronald Reagan, whom Cohn introduced to Rupert Murdoch. Cohn and Trump met at a New York nightclub in 1973, when Trump was in his mid-20s and the Trump Organization was being sued by the federal government for racist housing practices. Trump recognized a man after his own self-image: a ruthless player who knew how to win. In the film, Cohn remembers Trump saying, “I’ve spent two days with these establishment law firms, and they’re all telling us, ‘Give up, do this, sign a decree and all of that.’ I’ve followed your career and you seem — you’re a little bit crazy like I am, and you stand up to the establishment. Can I come see you?”

Trump became Cohn’s client and protégé. They won the case by not losing — by counterattacking, raising phony charges, admitting no wrong. Trump paid careful attention. “Roy would always be for an offensive strategy,” Stone says in the film. “These were the rules of war. You don’t fight on the other guy’s ground; you define what the debate is going to be about. I think Trump would learn that from Roy. I learned that from Roy.”

In 1953, Harry Truman described McCarthyism as “the corruption of truth, the abandonment of our historical devotion to fair play. It is the abandonment of due process of law. It is the use of the big lie and the unbounded accusation against any citizen in the name of Americanism and security. It is the rise to power of the demagogue who lives on untruth. It is the spread of fear and the destruction of faith in every level of our society.” But even this accurate list of brutal tactics and crushing effects doesn’t quite convey the malevolent quality that hovers over the story of Roy Cohn.

Cohn and Trump embody the Mafia style in American politics. I don’t mean the Sopranos; I mean the cold will to power that carries a threat of murder without shame. (Cohn was accused of being responsible for the death by fire of a crewman on his yacht in an insurance plot; like so many other charges, this one was never pinned on him.) There’s a soft spot in American life for this type. He’s admired in mob movies, in war movies (George C. Scott as General George S. Patton: “Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans”), in sports (Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders: “Just win, baby”), in entertainment (Jay-Z: “I never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti / That’s right, it’s wicked, that’s life, I live it / Ain’t asking for forgiveness for my sins”).Two people interviewed in Where’s My Roy Cohn? describe Cohn with the word “evil.” The film shows the Mafia style as it recurs in modern American politics — a kind of metaphysical spirit that inhabits different characters at different times, always identifiable by the dead eyes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Oct. 2, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 224 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   55 Awaiting response

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

U.S. Migrant Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump wanted to have U.S. forces equipped with bayonets to stop migrants at border, officials say, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 3, 2019.  Frustrated with migration surge, President Trump suggested several border security ideas, including a reptile-filled moat and shooting migrants. Staffers separated the ideas into two categories — those to be dismissed, and those to be implemented.

U.S. Courts, Violence

ny times logoNew York Times, MGM Agrees to Pay Up to $800 Million to Victims of 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Oct. 3, 2019. The settlement would resolve claims that MGM was negligent in allowing the killer to stockpile weapons and ammunition at its Mandalay Bay hotel.

MGM Resorts International has agreed to pay up to $800 million to settle lawsuits from victims of the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

The killer, Stephen Paddock, holed up inside his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, which MGM owns, and then fired into the crowd at a country music festival below. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

One of the lawyers for the victims, Robert Eglet, said on Thursday the settlement would be in the range of $735 million to $800 million and would resolve “substantially all” of the lawsuits and claims against MGM related to the massacre.

Oct. 2

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

U.S. 2020 Politics

bernie sanders gage skidmore

Roll Call, Bernie Sanders cancels campaign schedule after heart procedure, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 2, 2019. Spokesman says presidential candidate (shown in a Gage Skidmore file photo) had stents installed after doctors found blockage in artery.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is recovering after having heart stents installed, canceling his presidential campaign events until further notice. Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to the Democratic presidential campaign of the Vermont independent, made the announcement of the medical procedure. “During a campaign event yesterday evening, Sen. Sanders experienced some chest discomfort. Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted. Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days,” Weaver said. “We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”

Sanders was among the 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls scheduled to appear at a candidate forum in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The event is being hosted by Giffords and the March for Our Lives, two groups advocating for new gun safety laws. The event, hosted in conjunction with MSNBC, coincides with the two-year anniversary of the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival.

Impeachment Inquiry Update

Palmer Report, Opinion: MIKE PENCE KNEW, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2019. Last week Donald Trump held a press conference and repeatedly asked the eporters in the room to look at the transcripts of Mike Pence’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine. Trump was clearly attempting to take the whistleblower scandal heat off himself by painting Pence as having been involved. Well guess what? For once Trump was, if only for sinister reasons, telling the truth.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump had Mike Pence call the president of Ukraine and inform him that the nation’s military aid was still being withheld, according to a Washington Post report tonight. Pence’s aides are insisting that he didn’t know the aid was being withheld because Trump was demanding phony dirt on Joe Biden. But in that same report, we learn that one of Pence’s top aides listened in on Trump’s fateful phone call with Ukraine. Are we really supposed to believe that the aide heard Trump trying to extort the president of Ukraine into helping him rig the 2020 election, and didn’t think to tell Pence about it? Also, Pence reportedly would have received notes from the call the next day.

What may be more interesting here is the timing. Things went horribly for Donald Trump today, thanks to his unhinged tweets, and his even more unhinged press conference. Things went even worse today for Trump’s loyal Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to the point that Trump is now probably close to having to oust Pompeo as a scapegoat.

And yet, just as Donald Trump is on the ropes tonight and Mike Pompeo is down for the count, this story incriminating Mike Pence just happens to conveniently leak out at the perfect time. This comes after Donald Trump has directly tried to scapegoat Mike Pence in this scandal once already. It’s not difficult to figure out that Trump has leaked this revelation about Pence tonight in the hope of taking the heat off the people he cares more about.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Does It All Himself, and That Worries Republicans, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Oct. 2, 2019. The White House itself has no organized response to impeachment, and some aides doubt whether it poses a serious threat. Mr. Trump has long believed that he is the best communicator in the White House, but as the presidential campaign picks up its pace and the prospect of his impeachment becomes more real, he seems to be its only empowered communicator, a one-man war room responding to developments almost hour by hour. And that is making many Republicans anxious.

For now, the White House has no organized response to impeachment, little guidance for surrogates to spread a consistent message even if it had developed one, and minimal coordination between the president’s legal advisers and his political ones. And West Wing aides are divided on everything from who is in charge to whether, after two years of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, impeachment even poses a serious political threat to the president.

“This is a very different animal than the Mueller investigation,” said Josh Holmes, a former top aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “It’s a political question, not a legal one. They need to persuade Republicans in the House and the Senate of a bunch of really good arguments to have the partywide insulation the president is going to prefer going into this fight.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: American Diplomats Are Being Persecuted by Their Own President, Nicholas Burns (former under secretary of state and ambassador to NATO), Oct. 2, 2019. Congress needs to repair the damage done to the nation’s Foreign Service.

One of the first casualties of President Trump’s murky dealings with Ukraine has been the United States Foreign Service, the group of nonpartisan career professionals who serve as America’s primary point of contact with the world beyond our borders. While the House impeachment inquiry has rightly become a top priority, Congress must also act to repair the substantial damage Mr. Trump has caused to the effectiveness and morale of our diplomats and other State Department employees.

Mr. Trump’s disdain for career diplomats was on display in his now infamous July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, during which he disparaged a highly respected Foreign Service officer, Marie Yovanovitch, as “bad news.” Ms. Yovanovitch was Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Ukraine until he recalled her in May. Her firing sent shock waves through the ranks at the State Department.

Mr. Trump has never explained why he fired Ms. Yovanovitch. He sidelined her and other career diplomats and permitted a private citizen, Rudy Giuliani, to hijack the administration’s interactions with the new Ukrainian government. The House of Representatives should investigate.

Last week Mr. Trump attempted again to intimidate the diplomatic corps, telling American diplomats at the United States Mission to the United Nations that whoever in the administration gave information to the anonymous whistle-blower was “close to a spy.” Mr. Trump’s statement was at odds with the obligation of every federal employee to tell the truth and adhere to the law.

Palmer Report, Federal judge hands Donald Trump major blow in his whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2019. When investigators find out that suspects are hiding evidence, it often becomes a footrace where investigators try to get to that evidence before the suspects can destroy it. In the case of Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal, we’ve all recently learned that the White House has been burying incriminating evidence of Trump’s communications with world leaders on a secret server – a sign that all the evidence has been buried in all of Trump’s various White House scandals.

bill palmer report logo headerThe thing is, now that everyone in the White House knows that Donald Trump’s international scandals are being investigated, they’ll be committing a felony if they try to destroy any of the evidence. It would be awfully stupid for anyone to try, but still, there must be the temptation – particularly in this uniformly corrupt administration, at a time when it’s on the verge of collapse.

So it’s crucial that Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson has already cornered Trump’s Department of Justice when it comes to the evidence. Today she forced the DOJ to agree to preserve all documents that may have any relevance to the House impeachment inquiry. At a time when Donald trump is clearly pushing everyone in his regime to refuse to cooperate as emphatically as possible, his own DOJ just caved in court.

This sets up a situation where everyone in the DOJ knows they’re being watched by the courts, and knows they’ll end up behind bars if they get caught destroying any of these documents. It’s becoming more clear by the day that Donald Trump is in danger of not finishing his term – and that makes it particularly tricky for DOJ employees to bet their freedom on the pipe dream that Trump might pardon them. We now expect the House will end up with these documents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Is There Another Cover-Up In Response to the Whistle-Blower? Neal K. Katyal, right, and Joshua A. Geltzer (law professors at neal katyal oGeorgetown University), Oct. 2, 2019. The Justice Department should have shared a campaign-finance investigation with the Federal Election Commission.

One of the first things new prosecutors at the Justice Department learn is that cover-ups are rarely singular. There is often a cover-up of the cover-up.

Allegations of one cover-up, then another, emerged last week. Officials in the Trump administration tried to “lock down” the phone call memo between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine (the first cover-up), and then officials in the executive branch made efforts to keep this information from reaching Congress (the second cover-up).

Now we have discovered what may be a third cover-up. In its handling of the investigation and a potential campaign-finance violation, the Department of Justice appears to have ignored a rule that a matter under investigation must be referred to the Federal Election Commission. Critically, if the department had followed the rule, the Ukraine affair would have been disclosed to the American public.

Were it not for the efforts of the whistle-blower, everything about this would have been hidden from the F.E.C. and the American people.

Here’s how the Justice Department failed to follow the rule. As part of the scramble in the executive branch caused by the whistle-blower’s complaint, the Justice Department secretly investigated Mr. Trump for a potential campaign-finance violation. The department reportedly cleared him because the contributions solicited from a foreign government to his campaign were not quantifiable “things of value.” That’s the key phrase in one of the most important campaign-finance laws.

Remember that Mr. Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general — a former federal prosecutor — determined that the whistle-blower complaint was an “urgent concern.” Further, the complaint set out facts suggesting that Mr. Trump had indeed violated the federal statute that criminalizes soliciting any “thing of value” from a foreign citizen in connection with an election. A thorough investigation seemed warranted.

After it looked into the complaint, the Justice Department disagreed — it said that because the amount of the contribution couldn’t be quantified, the department would not even bother opening a criminal investigation (which would still have been short of bringing an actual prosecution).

To date, the criticism of the Justice Department has focused on its seemingly hasty judgment that a federal crime had not been committed and on Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to recuse himself from a matter directly implicating him.

Those are indeed valid criticisms, but an overlooked problem is that a federal government memorandum required the Justice Department to refer this complaint to the Federal Election Commission. And by all publicly available information, the department failed to do so.

djt nancy pelosi

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s why Democrats are winning, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 2, 2019. The percentage of Americans in favor of impeachment is jennifer rubin new headshotincreasing — quickly. It has gone from a clear minority view to a majority or plurality in recent polling. Part of that progress is directly attributable to President Trump acting more unhinged by the day — dishing out profanity, threatening the whistleblower and accusing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) of treason. He sounds like a wounded animal howling in pain. But some of the credit goes to Democrats, who have a much better hand to play than they did in the Russia investigation and have learned from experience.

First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), shown above, and Schiff appear confident, calm and serious — in glaring contrast to Trump. Second, in a joint news conference they vowed to protect the whistleblower from Trump’s threats to unmask the person and intimation that violence is the appropriate response to a “spy.” Third, and perhaps most important, they are going to take “no” for an answer in response to subpoenas, sort of.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The walls are closing in around Trump’s staff, Paul Waldman, Oct. 2, 2019. Last weekend, ABC News journalists reported that White House and State Department officials were beginning to wonder whether they should be retaining their own counsel. The latest events make it even clearer: As each day passes in the unfolding Ukraine scandal, the pressure on administration staffers will increase.

This pressure will itself become a force driving the scandal forward and making impeachment more likely. While Republicans might like to think of this as a witch hunt, it’s going to increasingly resemble a building going up in flames, with one aide after another looking for a way to save themselves.

In a news conference Wednesday, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a warning to the White House, making clear that he and other Democrats consider ongoing attempts to stymie their investigations — refusing to provide documents, stopping subpoenaed aides from testifying — not just an irritant but potential high crimes and misdemeanors in themselves.

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Wants to ‘Interview’ Whistle-Blower, Eileen Sullivan, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump kept his focus on the whistle-blower who raised concerns about his phone call with the Ukrainian president. President Trump on Tuesday kept his focus on an anonymous whistle-blower, asking why he was not “entitled to interview” the person, a day after he said the White House was trying to find out the person’s identity, despite institutional directives and confidentiality protections.

donald trump twitterIn addition to interviewing the “so-called ‘Whistleblower,’” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday, he would also like to interview “the person who gave all of the false information to him.” On Sunday, Mr. Trump said, “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser.”

Mr. Trump’s focus on the whistle-blower is one of several ways the White House has addressed the complaint — which alleged that Mr. Trump was using his office for personal gain — and the phone call at the center of it between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Mr. Trump has repeatedly defended his conversation with Mr. Zelensky as “perfect.”

Mr. Trump’s focus on learning the identity of the whistle-blower is inappropriate at best.

“The law and policy supports protection of the identity of the whistle-blower from disclosure and from retaliation,” a lawyer representing the whistle-blower, Mark Zaid, has said. “No exceptions exist for any individual.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Pompeo and House Chairmen Clash Over Impeachment Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Lara Jakes, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration pushed back on demands for depositions of potential witnesses as it fought a growing impeachment inquiry on multiple fronts. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not refuse outright to allow State Department employees to answer House investigators’ questions about Ukraine.

mike pompeo o sec stateThe Trump administration clashed on Tuesday with leaders of the House impeachment inquiry over their demands to question State Department officials who may have witnessed President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political advantage.

In the first skirmish in what promises to be an epic impeachment struggle between the executive and legislative branches, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, lashed out at three congressional committees that are seeking to depose diplomats involved in American policy toward Ukraine, calling their demands for confidential interviews “an act of intimidation.”

The House postponed the first of the depositions, which had been scheduled for Wednesday with the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, but not before the leaders of the impeachment inquiry upbraided Mr. Pompeo for questioning their work and asserting that their bid to swiftly schedule depositions did not allow enough time to properly respond.

The latest standoff unfolded as lawmakers were unexpectedly put on notice that they could soon be provided with new evidence related to the State Department and Ukraine — a twist that could add crucial information to their investigation and, potentially, complicate efforts by Mr. Trump to block it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pompeo Calls House Request to Interview Diplomats ‘Intimidation’ and Rushed, Nicholas Fandos and Lara Jakes, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration pushed back on demands for depositions of potential witnesses as it fought a growing impeachment inquiry on multiple fronts. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not refuse outright to allow State Department employees to answer House investigators’ questions about Ukraine.

The Trump administration fought on multiple fronts on Tuesday to resist the House’s growing impeachment inquiry, pushing back on demands for depositions of potential witnesses from a key committee as President Trump insisted he was entitled to interview the whistle-blower whose allegations touched off the investigation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw up the first potential roadblock when he told lawmakers in a letter Tuesday morning that a demand from three House committees for American diplomats to sit for depositions this week amounted to “an act of intimidation” and did not allow enough time for the State Department to properly respond.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A presidency of one’: Key federal agencies increasingly compelled to benefit Trump, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa​, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s personal concerns have become priorities of departments that traditionally have operated with some degree of political independence from the White House — and their leaders are engaging their boss’s obsessions.

• Standout moments from Day 8 of the impeachment inquiry drama

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump & Giuliani enlist South Florida mobsters in Ukraine ruse, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 1, 2019 (subscription required). Acting on behalf of Donald Trump in an attempt to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in Ukraine, Trump personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has enlisted the assistance of two South Florida dodgy expatriates from Ukraine and Belarus – Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, respectively.

Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman have been identified as part of a larger oligarch “Organizatsiya” operation involved in a second attempt to meddle in a U.S. presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment inquiry puts new focus on Giuliani’s work for prominent figures in Ukraine, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Paul Sonne and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats hope the watchdog will provide more information related to U.S. interactions with Ukrainian officials. Meanwhile, the secretary of state renewed his complaint that their demand to interview State Department personnel amounted to intimidation.

Trump Watch: History

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Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: The America of Trump’s Father: an Aspirational Fascism Reigned in New York, Wayne Madsen (investigative reporter and author of 16 books, most recently "Trump's Bananas Republic"), Oct. 2, 2019. New York and its suburbs in Long Island and New Jersey had a vibrant community of first- and second-generation German Americans, the latter having included Fred Trump, Sr., a rising star in real estate and retailing.

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverAlso active in the New York-New Jersey region was the German American Bund or “Amerikadeutscher Bund,” an organization that supported Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the goals and aspirations of the “New Germany.” In fact, the “Bund” was nothing more than an overseas extension of the German Nazi Party and it took its orders directly from Berlin.

The height of the Bund’s activities was a February 20, 1939 rally at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. It drew some 20,000 Bund members and Nazi supporters.

One German American who did not hide his far-right views was Fred Trump, Sr., the father of Donald Trump. On May 31, 1927, Fred Trump was arrested by police while participating in a Ku Klux Klan march in his home borough of Queens in New York. The elder Trump was publicly known to be a racist and he refused to rent his apartments in Queens and Brooklyn to African Americans.

It is known that “Old Man Trump,” the appellation given him by folk singer Woody Guthrie in a 1950 song by the same title, continued his racist ways after the war. Guthrie, who had the misfortune of renting a unit in the Trump-owned Beach Haven Apartments in Brooklyn, penned the following lyric: “Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower. Where no black folks come to roam. No, no, Old Man Trump! Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

It is also interesting that after the war, Trump insisted that he was of Swedish descent. In fact, Old Man Trump’s father, Frederick Trump, was an immigrant from Kallstadt, Bavaria. It was famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, a Nazi sympathizer, who stressed his Swedish descent to defend against charges that he was a supporter of Hitler. However, in both cases – Old Man Trump and Lindbergh – there was no question of their sympathies to the racial policies of Hitler and the “New Germany.”

Old Man Trump’s home and businesses sat in the midst of Bund activities and businesses that supported the Bund. One of the most popular newspapers among the German American community in New York and New Jersey was the Bund’s “The Free American and Deutscher Weckruf,” published from 1935 to 1941 in both English and German.

The newspaper served to rally the Nazi cause in New York and New Jersey. The paper advertised New York theaters like the Tobis, 86th Casino, 79th Street, and Bijou that screened propaganda films fresh from the studios of Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Nazi Germany’s cultural inundation of the United States was a personal project of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

In 1933, Trump opened the Trump Super Market in Queens at the corner of 78th Street and Jamaica Avenue. Since it was the first store of its type in Queens, it was an immediate success. Considering Old Man Trump’s political viewpoints, it is very likely that he purchased wholesale products, including meats from Bund butchers and German baked goods from Bund bakers, of which there were several in New York City for his store. Several German American-owned area businesses, including Maier’s Pork Store and Ehmer’s Pork Store, both on “Dritte Avenue” (Third Avenue) in Manhattan, and dairies like Karsten’s Milch of The Bronx and Astoria in Queens and Erb’s German Sweet Shop in Manhattan, kept the advertising-dependent “The Free American and Deutscher Weckruf” flush with ad revenue. Even large corporations like Philco, a manufacturer of radios, Texaco, Olympia Typewriter, and Simmons Mattress Company advertised in the Nazi newspaper. Nazi propaganda in German was broadcast on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from the studios of WBNX, first located in The Bronx and then moved to New Jersey.

Old Man Trump rented thousands of his apartment units in Jamaica Estates in Queens and Brooklyn to white Americans only. Bund supporters cheered Hitler for refusing to shake the hand of black American Olympian Jesse Owens after he won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Considering Old Man Trump’s previous membership in the KKK, he was undoubtedly cheering Hitler’s snub of Owens, along with the Bund in New York. Old Man Trump also suspiciously volunteered, after dodging the World War II draft, to construct Navy barracks and garden apartments in at least three highly sensitive Navy ports in Chester, Pennsylvania; and Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. All three ports saw thousands of American and Canadian troops embarked for combat in North Africa and Europe. Some of these troop ships fell prey to German U-boats, which received intelligence on the Allied ship movements from Nazi agents in the very same port areas where Old Man Trump so “generously” bid on construction contracts with the Navy.

Today, Donald Trump, who has championed concentration camps for asylum seekers and homeless people, torn babies from their parents, and praised neo-Nazi marchers in Virginia, echoes the political vitriol of his father’s era Bund. Today, Trump is fond of demonizing Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. In Trump’s father’s era such venom was directed by the Bund against New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, the late President Woodrow Wilson, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was sometimes referred to as “Frank Rosenfeld”), and prominent Jews, including New York US Representative Samuel Dickstein and Bernard Baruch, all of whom were labeled as pro-Bolshevik “internationalists.”

Donald Trump now uses the pejorative term of “globalists.” The same groups of “socialists,” “Communists,” and “Jews” singled out for attacks by the Bund are today targeted by Trump and his supporters under almost identical labels of “socialists,” “Communists,” and “globalists.” In Old Man Trump’s Nazi-imbued New York, the Soviet Union was condemned by Nazis as a Jewish Communist enterprise. The Bund paper published lists of Jews in charge of various Soviet republics and regions, naming, for example “Jude” (Jewish) officials in charge of Abkhazia, Ajaria, Azerbaijan, Bashkiria, Byelorussia, Far East Federation, Dagestan, West Siberia, Southwest Region, Kirghizia, Karelia, Crimea, Kirov Region, Gorky Region, Moldavia, Mari Region, Nenets Region, Omsk Region, Orenburg Region, Stalingrad Region, Sverdlovsk Region, East Siberia Region, Tatarstan, Ukraine, Chechenia, and Yakutsk Region. The list appeared to be a future execution list for the Nazis. The Bund championed Hitler’s dream of a Russia “cleansed” of “Jewish Bolsheviks.”

Donald Trump’s recent September 24 speech before the UN General Assembly was no different than the “America First” rantings of Lindbergh before audiences consisting of people who shared the racist beliefs of Old Man Trump. His son, Donald, kept a book of Hitler’s speeches of Hitler on his bed stand for a reason. Old Man Trump must have instilled in his family business heir a strong belief in the causes of the Nazis and the Bund.

After the Bund was declared an enemy organization in 1941 and the Allies defeated the Axis powers in the war, Old Man Trump began currying favor with New York’s Jewish community, making donations to Jewish philanthropies, including those involved with creating the State of Israel in Palestine. Just as other Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, tried to assume benevolent post-war profiles – even living among expatriate German Jewish communities – Old Man Trump became a close friend of Binyamin Netanyahu and other top Israelis and New York Jewish community leaders. Just as Old Man Trump was not really fooling anyone in pre-war New York, his son is not fooling anyone today with his fascist tendencies masked as “Making America Great Again.” These policies are driven as much by Trump family Nazi ideology as by political expediency and personal greed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is now being targeted by the Department of Defense Inspector General too, Bill Palmer | 9:09 am EDT October 2, 2019. On Tuesday night we learned that the State Department Inspector General has uncovered corruption so urgent, he feels compelled to brief all the key House and Senate committees at once today. It looks like he’s about to try to take down Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In the meantime, it turns out he’s not the only Inspector General who’s in the process of exposing Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas appeared on MSNBC during the 10pm hour and revealed that the Department of Defense Inspector General is also working on exposing the Ukraine scandal. No further details were provided, but here’s what we find interesting.

Current Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has only been on the job since July. Donald Trump surely nominated him with the expectation of loyalty, but we’ve seen that Trump doesn’t always guess correctly on these things. More to the point, Esper probably hasn’t been there long enough to have the kind of footing that some of Trump’s other agency heads have carved out. In other words, will he be willing or able to try to get in the way of the Department of Defense Inspector General?

Come to think of it, this also confirms that Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal involves some kind of corruption at the Department of Defense. It’s becoming clear that in his desperation to find a way to rig the 2020 election in his favor, Trump exposed huge chunks of his own administration to potential criminal culpability. The more people involved, the more likely that some of them will come looking for immunity deals in the House impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump dares Democrats to ‘try to impeach this,’ bringing up 2016 support, John Wagner, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The president and his allies continued to push back against a fast-moving impeachment inquiry, which will include depositions of key figures later this week.

President Trump on Tuesday questioned why he is not “entitled to interview & learn everything about” the whistleblower whose identity is protected by Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)federal statute.

In a spate of morning tweets, Trump also offered a visual reminder of the breadth of his support in the 2016 election, tweeting a map showing the U.S. counties that voted for him and daring Democrats to “try to impeach this.”

The pushback by Trump and Republican allies against the rapidly moving impeachment inquiry by House Democrats come as polls show rising public support for removing the president from office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Schiff Got Early Account of Accusations as Whistle-Blower’s Concerns Grew, Julian E. Barnes, Michael S. Schmidt and Matthew Rosenberg, Oct. 2, 2019. Days before filing a whistle-blower complaint, a C.I.A. officer brought a vague version of it to a congressional aide who conveyed it to Representative Adam Schiff.

The Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistle-blower complaint, according to a spokesman and current and former American officials.

The early account by the future whistle-blower shows how determined he was to make known his allegations that Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s government to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election. It also explains how Mr. Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it.

The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rick Perry just caved in the Trump whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Oct. 2, 2019. The name of Secretary of Energy Rick Perry rick perry ohas popped up in just enough key aspects of Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal to make clear that, at the least, Perry knew what Trump was up to. That makes Perry, right, a material witness even if he wasn’t in on the criminal conspiracy, which means he’ll be committing a crime if he refuses to help with the investigation.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has made as clear as possible that he wants all of his own people to obstruct justice as thoroughly as possible, in the name of slowing down the House impeachment inquiry into the Ukraine scandal. Trump loyalists like embattled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have made a public and emphatic point of spelling out that they’re not going to cooperate no matter what it might cost them. Then there’s Rick Perry.

Rick Perry announced today that he’s going to fully cooperate with the Ukraine investigation, and answer any questions he’s asked. Wait a minute here, that’s not the script that the Trump regime has been pushing. One of two things is happening here.

Either Rick Perry just smartly decided to cut his losses and cooperate with the impeachment inquiry in order to ensure that he doesn’t end up criminally charged like the rest of Donald Trump’s goons, or Perry has very stupidly decided to go in and lie to investigators about the scandal in the hope of protecting Trump. Rick Perry is a dumb guy, but he’s survived this long because he knows he’s a dumb guy. We suspect he’s playing for Team Perry on this one, not Team Trump.

Politico, Support for impeaching Trump hits new high, Steven Shepard, Oct. 2, 2019. For the first time in POLITICO/Morning Consult polling, support for impeaching Trump hits new high, Steven Shepard, Oct. 2, 2019. A batch of recent polling confirms the Democratic impeachment push is gaining steam — including a new POLITICO/Morning Consult survey that shows for the first time that more voters support than oppose proceedings to remove Trump from office. The uptick is primarily among Democrats, as Republican voters surveyed continue to have Trump's back.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Lefties Should Watch Fox News, Farhad Manjoo, Oct. 2, 2019. The network’s internal strife offers the truest picture of how impeachment might play on the right. Watching Fox isn’t easy. Much of it is still a fetid sewer of venom that bears little resemblance to the real world, and I would hope that you have more enjoyable ways to spend your time, like elective dental surgery. But when news breaks on television — as it will in an unending cascade of hearings, stump speeches, debates and grandstanding news conferences from now until at least January 2021 — Fox should be your go-to place to watch, especially if you are on the left.

There is a simple reason: While other organizations report the news, Fox News is the news. There is now a growing rift on Fox: Its news side is asking increasingly tough questions of Trump, while its opinion side pushes his raving conspiracies. The drama speaks to real tension on the right, and Fox will inform political reality. It is no exaggeration to say that what happens on Fox now — the way it decides to play impeachment and the twists and turns of the 2020 race — could well determine the fate of the republic.

Trump: Shoot Migrants 'In The Legs'

ny times logoNew York Times, Shoot Them in the Legs, Trump Suggested: Inside His Border War, Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Over a frenzied few days in the spring, an internal White House debate led to turnover in staff and a turning point for the president’s immigration agenda.

us dhs big eagle logo4The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that ICE logothey shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.

“The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button,” said Thomas D. Homan, who had served as Mr. Trump’s acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recalling that week in March. “The president wanted it to be fixed quickly.”

U.S. Crime, Courtsamber guyger botham jean

 ny times logoNew York Times, Amber Guyger Is Sentenced to 10 Years for Murder of Botham Jean, Marina Trahan Martinez and Sarah Mervosh, Oct. 2, 2019. Ms. Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer, fatally shot her unarmed black neighbor in his apartment. A white former Dallas police officer was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting her unarmed black neighbor in his apartment.

amber guyger screengrabThe former officer, Amber R. Guyger, right, was off duty when she came home from work last year and shot her neighbor, Botham Shem Jean, in a case that was one of the latest, and also one of the most unusual, in a series of confrontations between police officers and unarmed black men.

A Dallas County jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before deciding upon a sentence that was well short of the maximum 99 years in prison Ms. Guyger could have received — but also longer than the two years jurors might have imposed.

Prosecutors had asked for a prison term of no shorter than 28 years, the age that Mr. Jean, whose birthday fell during the trial, would have been if he were alive today.

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Dallas Officer Who Shot Downstairs Neighbor Is Found Guilty of Murder, Marina Trahan Martinez and Sarah Mervosh, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). A former Dallas police officer who shot her unarmed black neighbor in his own apartment was found guilty of murder on Tuesday, in an unusual and high-profile case that dealt with issues of race, policing and mistaken identity.

The former officer, Amber R. Guyger, who is white, was charged in the death of her 26-year-old neighbor, Botham Shem Jean (shown above), after she said she accidentally went to the wrong floor of their apartment complex, entered the unit directly above hers and fatally shot him last year.

amber guyger mugMs. Guyger, left, shown in a mug shot, claimed she thought she was entering her own apartment and was acting in self-defense against an intruder.

The jury rejected that argument and returned a rare murder conviction against a police officer who, in this case, was off-duty but in uniform.

The shooting and its aftermath in September 2018 ignited protests and calls for justice, with demonstrations outside Police Headquarters and inside City Hall. At a time when other police officers have been cleared of wrongdoing in the deaths of unarmed black men, Ms. Guyger was arrested several days after the shooting on a charge of manslaughter, then released from jail the same day. After weeks of community tensions and accusations of preferential treatment for the police, a grand jury came back with the charge of murder.

ny times logoNew York Times, Homeland Security Dept. Affirms Threat of White Supremacy, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Oct. 2, 2019 (print ed.). While President Trump has expressed skepticism about violent white nationalism, his Department of Homeland Security is now highlighting the issue. The Department of Homeland Security is beginning to address white supremacist terrorism as a primary security threat, breaking with a decade of flagging attention after bigoted mass shooters from New Zealand to Texas took the lives of nearly 100 people in the last six months.

In a little-noticed strategy document published last month to guide law enforcement on emerging threats and in recent public appearances by Kevin K. kevin mcaleenan o Custom 2, the acting secretary of homeland security, the department is trying to project a new vigilance about violent white nationalism, beating back criticism that the agency has spent a decade playing down the issue.

“I would like to take this opportunity to be direct and unambiguous in addressing a major issue of our time. In our modern age, the continuation of racially based violent extremism, particularly violent white supremacy, is an abhorrent affront to the nation,” Mr. McAleenan, right, said during an address last month, describing white nationalism as one of the most dangerous threats to the United States.

The department’s new stance contrasts that of President Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed white supremacy as an insignificant fringe movement. But beyond words and documents, many officials trying to combat the threat throughout the country remain skeptical that the full weight of federal law enforcement is finally being used to give bigoted domestic terrorism the attention it deserves.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Now that there’s an impeachment inquiry, what’s going to happen with guns, the border and prescription drugs? Amber Phillips​, Oct. 2, 2019. ​Now that there’s an impeachment inquiry, what’s going to happen to guns, the border and prescription drugs? Compromise on other issues isn't impossible — but if today’s Trump tweetstorm during House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s news conference is any indication, it just got much harder.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Net Neutrality Is Still Alive, Tom Wheeler (former FCC Chairman), Oct. 2, 2019. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld the government’s repeal of net neutrality rules. The court affirmed the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to classify internet service providers such as Comcast and AT&T as “information services,” as opposed to “telecommunications services.” That definition allows them to avoid the responsibility of providing open and nondiscriminatory access to their networks. In the terms of this debate, it allows the companies to prioritize “fast lanes and slow lanes.”

But the ruling did keep net neutrality alive — by overruling the agency’s claim that it could pre-empt state governments from setting out their own net neutrality requirements. The decision opens the doors for states to fill the regulatory void. Internet service providers should be quaking in their boots: As of today, they run the serious risk that they’ll have to follow a patchwork of different state requirements. The companies may not have liked the previous administration’s decision to classify them as common carriers, but that at least provided them with a uniform national policy. That is now gone.

At present, 34 states (and the District of Columbia) have introduced some kind of open internet legislation. The leading net neutrality law was passed in the nation’s most populous state, California, and follows the rules that the F.C.C. overturned. California agreed to hold off on enforcing their new net neutrality law until the pre-emption question was answered by the court. That hold is now off: If you live in California, you will have an open internet. It remains to be seen whether California’s law becomes the de facto open internet law across the nation or whether it becomes one of many different net neutrality laws.

The very same issue has animated the debate over federal privacy legislation. Because of a privacy law (also passed in California) and the actions of other states, network companies (along with others such as Google and Facebook) have been forced to ask Congress for a national privacy law to clear up potential interstate discrepancies. Interestingly, the lack of a uniform privacy policy began early in the Trump administration when the Republican-controlled Congress repealed another Obama-era rule that limited the networks’ access to the personal information of their subscribers. Into that void stepped, once again, California.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. can impose tariffs on $7.5 billion in goods because E.U. gave Airbus illegal subsidies, WTO rules, David J. Lynch​, Oct. 2, 2019. The World Trade Organization on Wednesday authorized President Trump to impose tariffs on about $7.5 billion worth of European goods, capping a 15-year trans-Atlantic dispute over illegal subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus. The decision opened the door to a broader trade war with the European Union.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer has promised to implement the tariffs on European aircraft and helicopters, as well as consumer goods such as wine and Gouda cheese “immediately” following the WTO ruling. The European Union has vowed to retaliate with its own levies on American products while it awaits a separate WTO ruling next year on its complaint that Boeing, a U.S. manufacturer and Airbus rival, also has received improper government backing.

• Farm-state fury creates pressure for Trump as trade, energy pain collide

Oct. 1

Impeachment Daily Index

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Raises Idea of Arresting Schiff, Accusing Him of Treason, Eileen Sullivan, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Trump asked whether the leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, acted illegally in describing Mr. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader. A day earlier, Mr. Trump called for Mr. Schiff — the California Democrat who is the de facto head of an impeachment inquiry into the call — to be “questioned at the donald trump twitterhighest level for Fraud & Treason.”

adam schiff squareMr. Trump has accused Mr. Schiff, of lying to Congress when Mr. Schiff, right, summarized a portion of what Mr. Trump said to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a July 25 phone call.

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate Democrats — a request Democrats say is an abuse of power for personal gain. They have started an impeachment inquiry.

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wsj logomike pompeo portraitWall Street Journal, Pompeo Took Part in Trump-Zelensky Phone Call, Official Says, Courtney McBride, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among administration officials who listened in on the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a senior State Department official said Monday, a disclosure that ties the State Department more closely to the House impeachment inquiry.

Pompeo, right, has said he hadn’t read entire whistleblower’s complaint, but defended State Department officials’ actions as ‘entirely appropriate.’

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Pushed Australian Leader to Help Investigate Origins of Mueller Inquiry, Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister over the phone to help Attorney General William Barr in an effort to discredit the Mueller inquiry, officials said. The White House restricted access to the transcript, an unusual decision similar to the handling of a Ukraine call at the heart of an impeachment inquiry.

scott morrison 2016President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.

australian flag wavingThe White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of the president’s aides, one of the officials said, an unusual decision that is similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Like that call, the discussion with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, of Australia shows the extent to which Mr. Trump sees the attorney general as a critical partner in his goal to show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins, and the extent that Mr. Trump sees the Justice Department inquiry as a potential way to gain leverage over America’s closest allies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Claims About Biden Aren’t ‘Unsupported.’ They’re Lies, Michelle Goldberg, right, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s michelle goldberg thumbaccusations turn reality on its head and the media should say so. Journalists, perhaps seeking to appear balanced, have sometimes described Trump’s claims about Biden as “unsubstantiated” or “unsupported.” That is misleading, because it suggests more muddiness in the factual record than actually exists. Trump isn’t making unproven charges against Biden. He is blatantly lying about him. He and his defenders are spreading a conspiracy theory that is the precise opposite of the truth.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: There’s another whistleblower complaint. It’s about Trump’s tax returns, Catherine Rampell, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). An unnamed civil servant is alleging serious interference in government business. If the allegations are true, they could be a game-changer. They might set in motion the release of lots of other secret documents showing that President Trump has abused his authority for his personal benefit.

Not that you’d know it from the administration’s stonewalling, but Congress actually has unambiguous authority to get Trump’s returns. In fact, it has had the authority to get any federal tax return, no questions asked, for nearly a century. Under a 1924 law, Treasury “shall furnish” any tax document requested by the House Ways and Means or Senate Finance Committee chairs.

richard neal headshotThat’s exactly what the House Ways and Means chairman, Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), right, did in the spring. The statute doesn’t require him to state any legislative purpose for his request, but he provided one anyway: He said that committee needed to make sure the IRS, which it oversees, is properly conducting its annual audit of the president and vice president, as the IRS manual has required post-Watergate.

In defiance of a half-century norm, Trump has kept his tax returns secret. We don’t know exactly what he might be hiding. His bizarre behavior, though, suggests it’s really bad. We don’t know the complaint details, including who allegedly meddled with the audit or how, and whether the IRS complied. The complaint hasn’t been released, and Neal said last week that he’s still consulting with congressional lawyers about whether to make it public.

But the exact details of the allegations matter less than the fact that they corroborate Democratic lawmakers’ argument that oversight of the IRS’s annual presidential audit is indeed a legitimate reason they — and hopefully, eventually, the public — should see Trump’s taxes. It’s hard to imagine how the federal judge in this case could now rule against the committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr is said to have urged foreign governments to aid investigation of CIA, FBI activities related to 2016 election, Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris and Matt Zapotosky​, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr has traveled overseas to seek help with a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries.

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: For Trump neo-fascisti, all roads lead to Rome, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 1, 2019 (subscription required). In the past week, three far-right personalities in the Donald Trump camp, including two Cabinet secretaries, have journeyed to Rome in order to engage in political chicanery to attack former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on foreign interference in the 2016 election and Democratic attempts to investigate foreign involvement in the 2020 election.

After Barr returned to Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was discovered to have been a party to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, flew to Rome. In Pompeo’s party was former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, a Hungarian neo-Nazi who now works for the right-wing Salem Radio Network as a program host.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Democrats seem to think Mike Pompeo is going down tomorrow, Bill Palmer, Oct. 1, 2019. This morning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not only refused to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, he also publicly demanded that no one in his State Department cooperate with the inquiry. That quickly blew up in his face when two recently departed State Department officials at the center of the Ukraine scandal confirmed they’ll both testify within days. Now the House is proceeding as if Pompeo won’t be around much longer.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening the House impeachment inquiry sent a letter to the Deputy Secretary of State, informing him that his boss Mike Pompeo is now considered to be compromised because of Pompeo’s documented role in the Ukraine scandal. The House is now urging the Deputy to defy his own boss and cooperate with the inquiry. This is remarkable, as the House must have some specific reason to believe this gambit might actually work.

This comes even as the State Department Inspector General has informed the House and Senate that he needs to brief the staffs of the major committees tomorrow about an urgent matter he’s uncovered regarding the State Department and Ukraine. Whatever corruption the IG has uncovered, he seems to think it’s for all the marbles.

It’s tricky to try to connect the dots when there are this many moving parts. But the House is proceeding tonight under the assumption that the Deputy Secretary of State might be willing to go against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – which makes you wonder if the House is expecting the State Department Inspector General to take out Pompeo’s legs tomorrow. Something huge is going on. It’s just not entirely clear what.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump amps up attacks on whistleblower as some Republicans call for a more strategic response, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ashley Parker, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). The ad hoc counter-impeachment effort developing around President Trump underscores the risk he faces as Democratic leaders prepare a sober and surgical Ukraine probe.

• Law offers whistleblower meager protection, analysts fear

Big Opioid Settlement

johnson johnson logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Johnson & Johnson reaches $20.4 million settlement in huge opioid case, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Lenny Bernstein​, Oct. 1, 2019. The health-care giant would pay two Ohio counties $10 million, reimburse $5 million in legal fees and direct $5.4 million to nonprofits for opioid-related programs.

Johnson & Johnson would pay Cuyahoga and Summit counties $10 million in cash, reimburse $5 million in legal fees and direct $5.4 million to nonprofits for opioid-related programs in those communities.

Under the terms, the company resolves all claims by the counties with no admission of liability.

The deal would winnow to six the number of defendants scheduled to stand trial this month in a lawsuit brought by more than more than 2,500 counties, cities and Native American tribes. The plaintiffs sued nearly two dozen drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, alleging that they fueled the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives since 1999.
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“The settlement allows the company to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis,” Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals said in a statement Tuesday night. “The company recognizes the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and is working collaboratively to help communities and people in need.”

Education / Civil Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Rules in Harvard’s Favor on Asian-Americans and Race, Anemona Hartocollis, Oct. 1, 2019. A judge said that Harvard had a right to choose a diverse class. The case, a challenge to affirmative action, is almost certain to go to the Supreme Court.

harvard logoA federal judge on Tuesday rejected claims that Harvard had intentionally discriminated against Asian-American applicants, in a closely watched case that presented one of the biggest legal challenges to affirmative action in years.

The lawsuit against the university came from a group hoping to overturn a longstanding Supreme Court precedent that allows race to be considered as one factor among many in admissions, but prohibits universities from using racial quotas.

The group argued that Harvard had favored black and Hispanic applicants at the expense of another minority group — a strategic reversal of past affirmative action lawsuits in which the plaintiff complained that white students had been treated unfairly.

The judge, Allison D. Burroughs, rejected the plaintiff’s argument, and said that the university met the strict constitutional standard for considering race in its admissions process.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Inspector general harshly criticizes DEA for allowing opioid makers to sharply increase production, Lenny Bernstein​​, Oct. 1, 2019. Even  as deaths from opioid overdoses grew dramatically, the Drug Enforcement Administration increased its quota for the narcotic painkiller oxycodone by 400 percent between 2002 and 2013, according to a new report from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

robert mueller full face fileWilmerHale, Robert S. Mueller III and Other Special Counsel's Office Members Rejoin WilmerHale, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2019. Robert S. Mueller III, right, is rejoining the firm as a partner after serving as special counsel for the US Department of Justice. Mr. Mueller’s practice will focus on high-profile investigations and crisis management, similar to his work at the firm before his service as special counsel. James L. Quarles and Aaron M. Zebley who, like Mr. Mueller, left the firm in May 2017 to work in the Special Counsel’s Office, are also returning to the firm as partners.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, With Trump-style bravado, a suburban state senator alienates her own party, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 1, 2019. At a time when the Virginia GOP can’t afford to lose a single seat, some Senate Republicans fret that the drama swirling around “Senator Annie Oakley Chase,” as some call her, threatens to put her reliably red district in play.

gerrymandering center for american progress

Center for American Progress, The Impact of Partisan Gerrymandering, Alex Tausanovitch, Oct. 1, 2019. It has been almost a decade since the 2010 cycle of redistricting, and the country is still reckoning with the impact. According to a new CAP analysis, the effects of partisan gerrymandering are comparable to switching the majority of votes in 22 states.

Unfairly drawn congressional districts shifted, on average, a whopping 59 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections. Those 59 seats are slightly more than the total number of seats apportioned to the 22 smallest states by population.

Fortunately, the solutions are simple: Require each state to draw districts that reflect the views of the American people; prioritize fair representation for communities of color; and draw districts that are reasonably competitive, so that when voters change their minds, they can also change their representatives.

That's democracy—elected officials who represent and are accountable to the people. The numbers show that representation in the United States is far from fair, but with straightforward policy changes, citizens can have maps that are fair.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The Rohingya crisis can’t stay Bangladesh’s burden, prime minister says, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina discusses the burden of hosting more than a million Rohingya refugees.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 100 have people have died in heavy rains in India. Here’s what the flooding looks like, Niha Masih, Oct. 1, 2019. The india flag mapfloods have been caused by the heaviest monsoon in 25 years. Floodwater has inundated major Indian cities, bringing daily life to a standstill.

India has experienced increasingly extreme weather conditions. A debilitating heat wave in the summer coupled with a delay in the monsoon led to drought-like conditions in several parts of the country. Metropolitan cities like Chennai in South India were nearly out of water. In July the government said that 2,400 people had been killed due to weather events in the past year.

Donald and Melania Trump descend from Air Force One into Saudi Araba as first stop on the president's initial overseas trip in 2017 (White House photo by Shealah Craighead).

Donald and Melania Trump descend from Air Force One into Saudi Arabia as first stop on the president's initial overseas trip in 2017 (White House photo by Shealah Craighead).

washington post logoWashington Post, As backlash fears fade, major firms are returning to Saudi Arabia a year after Khashoggi’s killing, Reed Albergotti, Josh Dawsey and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Wall Street banks are among the big names expected for a Saudi investment conference in October. When Saudi Arabia hosted its high-profile investment conference just weeks after Jamal Khashoggi’s killing last October, top executives from some of the world’s biggest financial companies begged off, skipping the event over fears that negative publicity could tarnish their firms’ brands.

A year later, human rights advocates say the kingdom has yet to deliver justice, failing to hold senior Saudi officials responsible for The Washington Post contributing columnist’s killing or to even reveal the location of his body. But business leaders have been far more forgiving.

  • Saudi king’s bodyguard shot dead in private dispute, state news agency, Sarah Dadouch, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz al-Faghm was a familiar presence by king’s side for Saudis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused of groping a journalist, William Booth and Karla Adam, Oct. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Prime Minister Boris Johnson was trying mightily Monday to showcase his shiny new agenda for the people, but his Conservative Party’s annual conference has been overshadowed by accusations about how he treats women.

The latest is a claim by a Sunday Times columnist that Johnson groped her thigh — “high up” — at a magazine lunch in 1999. “Untrue,” says 10 Downing Street.

He’s also accused of abusing his position as mayor of London to grant favorable treatment to a friend, U.S. entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri. Arcuri, who received thousands of pounds from a government agency that Johnson oversaw, told friends she and Johnson were having an affair, according to British news reports. Johnson claims to have “no interest to declare” in Arcuri’s firm.

Sept. 30

Impeachment Daily Index

washington post logoWashington Post, Intelligence panel has deal to hear whistleblower’s testimony, Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said Sunday that his panel has reached an agreement to secure testimony from the anonymous whistleblower whose detailed complaint launched an impeachment investigation into President Trump.

The announcement from Schiff, right, came on the same day that Tom Bossert, a former Trump homeland security adviser, delivered a rebuke of the president, saying in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that he was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of Trump’s recently reported actions.

Those comments come as members of Congress return to their districts for a two-week recess, during which they will either have to make the case for Trump’s impeachment or defend him to voters amid mounting questions about his conduct.

In appearances over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered a preview of the Democratic message, casting the impeachment inquiry as a somber task that she chose to endorse only as a last resort.

• Trump lashes out again at whistleblower, questions whether Schiff should be arrested for ‘treason’
• Ex-senator Flake says Trump’s actions warrant impeachment, calls on GOP not to support president’s reelection

washington post logomitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedWashington Post, McConnell says if House impeaches Trump, Senate rules would force him to start a trial, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 30, 2019. The Senate majority leader, right, provided few clues, however, on how he would proceed, the length of the trial or whether he would move to dismiss the articles of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, House panels subpoena Giuliani for documents in Ukraine probe, Karoun Demirjian and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 30, 2019. Three House committees issued a subpoena Monday to President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, demanding he turn over all records pertaining to his contacts regarding Ukraine, the Biden family, and related matters.

rudy giulianiIn a letter to Giuliani, right, accompanying the subpoena, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) cited “a growing public record” of information in accusing him of appearing “to have pressed the Ukrainian government to pursue two politically-motivated investigations.”

“The first is a prosecution of Ukrainians who provided evidence against Mr. Trump’s convicted campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The second relates to former Vice president Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who is challenging President Trump for the presidency in 2020,” the letter continued, demanding Giuliani turn over materials to their investigation by October 15.

The chairmen also said they are investigating “credible allegations” that Giuliani “acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president.”

In an interview Friday night, Giuliani said he had heard he was likely to be subpoenaed but had not received anything. Giuliani said he would follow his client’s advice on whether to cooperate and saw both the pros and cons of going forward.

Giuliani recently told The Washington Post in an interview that he possessed communications with State Department officials about his effort. “I have 40 texts from the State Department asking me to do what I did.”

A senior administration official confirmed that a State Department official, Kurt Volker, was involved in setting up one meeting for Giuliani with a top Ukrainian aide. But this person said the department was unaware of many of his other meetings and activities.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Beyond repugnant’: GOP congressman slams Trump for warning of ‘civil war’ over impeachment, Katie Shepherd, Sept. 30, 2019.  republican elephant logoAs Democrats begin an impeachment inquiry, President Trump spent Sunday vigorously defending himself on Twitter and sharing cable news clips of his most ardent devotees insisting that he did nothing wrong in asking the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

donald trump twitterTrump highlighted one quote from a longtime evangelical pastor warning of particularly dire consequences if the Democrats follow through.

“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump tweeted, adding his own parenthetical to a quote from Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist preacher speaking on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.

adam kinzinger o headshotThe tweet left critics, including one sitting Republican congressman, accusing Trump of stoking violence and diminishing the reality of true civil war.

“I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), right, a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is beyond repugnant.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump may have finally screwed himself, Bill Palmer, Sept. 30, 2019. When Donald Trump tweeted a quote on Sunday night calling for a “Civil War” if he’s impeached and removed from office, he probably committed treason under the legal definition of the term. He also may have violated Twitter terms of service. There’s one thing we do know for sure: he violated the rule that says Trump can’t take things so disgustingly far, Republicans in Congress feel compelled to finally come out against him.

bill palmer report logo headerYet that’s what happened when Donald Trump’s “Civl War” tweet pushed House Republican Adam Kinzinger to slam Trump for being “beyond repugnant” in a tweet of his own. Kinzinger (shown in his Twitter photo) has no strategic reason for saying this. He adam kinzinger twitterrepresents a far-right conservative district where Trump won by nearly twenty points in 2016. There’s not much to be gained back home for Kinzinger by publicly attacking Trump – in the midst of Trump’s impeachment, no less.

And yet it seems like Kinzinger has simply had enough of this crap, and couldn’t keep his mouth shut any longer. If Trump remains silent, it’ll be seen as a greenlight for House Republicans to be able to say whatever they want about Trump without reprisal. We’ve reached a turning point now.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Embraced Sham Conspiracy Theory on Ukraine, Ex-Adviser Says, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, tom bossert oSept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). The adviser, Thomas Bossert, right, said he told President Trump there was no basis to the notion that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 election on Democrats’ behalf. He said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine to produce damaging information about Democrats.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Trump acted alone” – several of Donald Trump’s top advisers just threw him squarely under the bus in his whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 30, 2019. Here’s the thing about an unraveling coverup in which multiple participants are facing criminal exposure and/or career ruin. Some of those participants are going to try to deflect culpability away from themselves by leaking details about the culpability of the other participants.

bill palmer report logo headerCheck out this stunning sentence that Fox News reported on its website last night: “Fox News has learned that the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council were ‘unanimous’ in supporting the aid to Ukraine, and that Trump acted alone in withholding the aid over the summer.”

President Donald Trump officialAllow us to translate that for you. What this really means is that the leaders of the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council decided to jointly leak to Fox News that they were opposed to Donald Trump’s criminal plot to extort the president of Ukraine into helping him rig the 2020 election.

Not only are several of Trump’s top people throwing him squarely under the bus, they’re making a point of feeding this revelation to Fox News, where Trump’s supporters will see it. This doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth. But it means they want everyone to believe that Donald Trump was the ringleader in this treasonous plot, and that they all tried to stop him.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Democrats Are Selling Impeachment Inquiry in Swing Districts, Jonathan Martin and Catie Edmondson, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). A balancing act is underway for House Democrats: protecting political gains from 2018 while selling voters on an inquiry into the president.

Orange County was the epicenter of the 2018 House Democratic takeover, where Republicans lost four seats in what was once the heart of Ronald Democratic-Republican Campaign logosReagan conservatism in California. On Saturday night, as three of the victorious Democrats were honored at an annual political dinner, a new battle was on everyone’s minds: How to protect those gains in 2020 by selling voters on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment furor throws 2020 campaign into uncertain territory, Sean Sullivan, Sept. 30, 2019. ​Democratic candidates find themselves forced to address impeachment while still wooing voters on issues — a potentially perilous dynamic erupting four months before the first votes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Note to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone, Editorial Board, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Here’s who the House needs to hear from during its inquiry.

Rudy Giuliani introduces then-candidate Donald Trump at an Iowa campaign rally in September 2016. (Source: Flickr/John Pemble, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Rudy Giuliani introduces then-candidate Donald Trump at an Iowa campaign rally in September 2016. (Source: Flickr/John Pemble, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lawfare, Opinion: Giuliani Cannot Rely on Attorney-Client Privilege to Avoid Congressional Testimony, John E. Bies (Chief Counsel at American Oversight, a non-profit focused on government accountability), Sept. 30, 2019.

As the House of Representatives launches its impeachment inquiry with a focus on President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, the question has been raised whether the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, will testify before Congress. According to CNN, Giuliani has said that he would need to consult with Trump before testifying before Congress because of the attorney-client privilege. This reflects a fundamental misapprehension of how the attorney-client privilege might apply in these circumstances — and, indeed, whether it could provide a bulwark against compelled congressional testimony at all.

At the outset, it is unclear that much of the information of interest to Congress regarding Giuliani’s conduct would even potentially be subject to the attorney-client privilege. The privilege exists to protect the confidential communication between a client and an attorney made for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. It does not protect, for instance, communications your attorney may have had with, say, foreign government officials — or, for that matter, with U.S. government officials.

And, of course, the privilege wouldn’t reach communications where Giuliani was not acting in his capacity as a lawyer providing legal advice. Yet Giuliani himself just told The Atlantic regarding his work in Ukraine, “I’m not acting as a lawyer. I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.” And the conduct at issue — pushing arguments about potential corruption to foreign officials — does not appear to involve providing confidential legal advice. It is not even clear that Giuliani’s conduct constitutes legal work performed in his capacity as Trump’s attorney, even if it were charitably viewed as something other than political campaign work.

Nor does the course of dealing, so far as it is presently known, suggest that Trump was conveying confidences to Giuliani for the purpose of receiving legal advice from him, rather than directing him to undertake other (non-legal) activities on the president’s behalf. Directives of this sort, of course, would not be privileged. Indeed, it is not clear what legal advice the president would have needed regarding corruption in Ukraine, at least prior to recent developments. So reasonable minds might question whether any of the communications between the president and Giuliani are protected by the privilege, much less information regarding Giuliani’s other conduct and interactions with third parties.

But even positing for the sake of argument that there may be some communications on the Ukraine issues that might potentially be subject to the privilege, those residual “privileged” communications would have little protection against compelled congressional testimony.

First, it is Congress’s long-standing position that the attorney-client privilege does not afford protection against compelled congressional testimony. Although Congress may consider claims of attorney-client privilege at its discretion, it does not recognize the common law privilege as a bar to compelled disclosure. Rather, it has consistently taken the position that it can insist that privileged communications be disclosed. Consistent with this position, a committee that calls Giuliani for testimony can simply direct him to answer if he were to attempt to assert attorney-client privilege, and can hold him in contempt if he does not comply.

Second, attorney-client privilege can be waived. Under the third-party waiver doctrine, disclosure of privileged communications to a third party typically effects a waiver of the privilege. And in order to prevent the use of the privilege as both a sword and a shield at the same time, the subject-matter waiver doctrine holds that any waiver of the attorney-client privilege generally extends to the entire subject matter to which the disclosed communication related, not just the specific communication disclosed. To the extent that the efforts with Ukraine at issue here appear to involve a large number of people, and in light of the fact that both the president and Giuliani have been publicly discussing those efforts, there may be good arguments that there has been a waiver as to some, if not all, of the communications.

Third, there is a crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege. Communications seeking advice related to the current or future commission of a crime, rather than the consequences of past actions, are not protected by the privilege. In light of the substantial questions that have been raised as to whether these events contain a violation of campaign finance law, or indeed another crime, it is possible that this too might preclude an assertion of the privilege.

If the attorney-client privilege is not available to Giuliani, what about executive privilege? The administration has recently claimed that executive privilege can shield the president’s communications even with some individuals outside the executive branch. But even setting aside questions about whether such an extension of the privilege is supportable, there is a separate reason it cannot be available here: Giuliani represents Trump in the president’s personal capacity, not his official capacity.

Executive privilege, of course, exists to protect the president’s ability to perform his constitutionally assigned — that is, official — functions. Indeed, two circuit courts considering similar privilege and waiver questions during the Whitewater investigations found the divergence of interests between personal capacity and official capacity representations to be significant. It is not clear how it would be possible here to reconcile Giuliani’s obligations as a lawyer for the president in his personal capacity, on the one hand, with the limitation of executive privilege to circumstances where it is necessary to protect the president’s ability to effectively perform his constitutional functions, on the other. As these two cases make clear, representing the president in his personal capacity involves a different set of interests and concerns than the official, governmental decision-making processes executive privilege is designed to protect.

Thus, to the extent Giuliani has been relying on privilege as a way to avoid testifying before Congress, he may need to think again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 30, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 224 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   55 Awaiting respons

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Fellow Republicans, there’s still time to save your souls, Jeff Flake (a Republican at right, represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate from 2013 to 2019), Sept. 30, 2019. Two years ago I stood in the Senate chamber and said: “There are times when we must risk our careers in jeff flake ofavor of our principles.”

In my case, I had not supported the president’s election. One year into his presidency, I knew that I could not support his reelection. While I had hoped that I could still run for reelection to the Senate in 2018 as someone who would help to provide a check on the president’s worst impulses, it soon became apparent that this was not what Republican primary voters in my state were looking for.

Now, two years later, it is my former Republican Senate colleagues who have a decision to make. Or, as I see it, two decisions to make. The first is difficult; the second is easy.

We have learned from a whistleblower that the president has abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to go after a political opponent.

He is the maestro of a brand of discord that benefits only him and ravages everything else. So although impeachment now seems inevitable, I fear it all the same. I understand others who might have similar reservations. The decision to impeach or not is a difficult one indeed.

republican elephant logoI am not oblivious to the consequences that might accompany that decision. In fact, I am living those consequences. I would have preferred to represent the citizens of Arizona for another term in the Senate. But not at the cost of supporting this man. A man who has, now more than ever, proved to be so manifestly undeserving of the highest office that we have.

At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us. But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct. Our embrace of it. From the ordeal of this presidency, perhaps the most horrible — and lasting — effect on our democracy will be that at some point we simply stopped being shocked. And in that, we have failed not just as stewards of the institutions to which we have been entrusted but also as citizens. We have failed each other, and we have failed ourselves.

Let us stop failing now, while there is still time. Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.

Sept. 29

Trump Revenge v. Clinton Staff

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Dept. questions more than 100 former Clinton aides about emails, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 29, 2019. The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent hillary clinton twittermessages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said. She served from 2009 to January, 2013.

As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton (shown on her Twitter photo) as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials. (Story excerpt continued below.)

Impeachment Daily Index

washington post logoWashington Post, Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions, Philip Rucker, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi turns to Schiff to lead House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Mike DeBonis​, Sept. 29, 2019. Democrats facing tough reelection bids privately told House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi that Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, right, needs to be the face of the probe.

adam schiff squareIt was a low point for House Democrats hoping to build a case to remove President Trump from office — a committee hearing in which former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski made his questioners look hapless with a flurry of deflections and delays.

“I heard it did not go well,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told one of her fellow leaders, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), hours after he had participated in the Sept. 17 hearing. Another top Democrat, Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (Ky.), had a more blunt assessment: “A fiasco.”

The confrontation served as a reminder of how the Democrats, through years of speeches, lawsuits and subpoenas — even after taking the House majority this year — have thus far failed to figure out how to hold a norm-busting president and his lieutenants in check.

The confluence of two otherwise coincidental events — the embarrassing Lewandowski hearing followed in quick succession by the explosion of the Ukraine story — handed Pelosi an opening to sideline Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in favor of the more widely trusted head of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), as Democrats launch the formal impeachment inquiry. And Pelosi has made clear that the investigation will focus narrowly on the Ukraine matter, a scandal she believes could be easily understood by the public.

Schiff, 59, was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles from 1987 to 1993, served in the California Senate and defeated a Republican who had pushed for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment to secure a House seat in 2000.

washington post logoWashington Post, The gas tycoon and the vice president’s son: The story of Hunter Biden’s foray into Ukraine, Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish and Matt Viser, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). When then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son joined the board of an obscure Ukrainian gas company half a decade ago, it was a stunning coup for its owner, a former Ukrainian minister working to remake the company’s image as he faced a money-laundering investigation.

hunter bidenFor Hunter Biden, right, the job came with risks: Ukraine was in the throes of political upheaval, and there was building scrutiny of former government officials profiting in the lucrative gas industry. His father was the face of the Obama administration’s effort to get Ukraine to crack down on corruption.

The region was so unsettled that one of Hunter Biden’s investment firm partners at the time — former secretary of state John F. Kerry’s stepson — believed that joining the board of Burisma Holdings was a bad idea and ended his business relationship with Biden and another partner, his spokesman told The Washington Post.

Now, more than five years later, with Joe Biden running for president, Hunter Biden’s decision to get involved with the Ukrainian firm is the backdrop of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint against President Trump that is reshaping the 2020 political landscape.

washington post logoWashington Post, Elections chief says a GOP colleague blocked wide release of her foreign activity memo, Alex Horton, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). In a politically apocalyptic year, with the threat of foreign interference in the 2020 election looming, one thing has been constant: You could set your watch to the Federal Election Commission’s digest showing up online.

The latest in election regulatory activity has published every Friday in 2019 and has posted in a similar frequency going back to 2009. The only recent disruption was the government shutdown that began around Christmas last year.

That was until this Friday, after what FEC Chair Ellen L. Weintraub said was a Republican commissioner’s effort to block a draft memo on prohibited foreign national electoral activity from being included in the digest, which led to the digest being withheld from the public.

But Weintraub found a way to get the information out.

U.S. Civil Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, What if activists had to cover the costs of securing protests? It could happen, Marissa J. Lang, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Amid the rising tide of demonstrations flooding D.C. streets, federal officials have proposed requiring organizers to pay for police efforts, alarming civil rights groups on both sides of the political spectrum.

Trump Revenge (Cont. from above)

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Dept. questions more than 100 former Clinton aides about emails, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 29, 2019. Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post.

In virtually all of the cases, potentially sensitive information, now recategorized as “classified,” was sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox. State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said.

hillary clinton twitterSenior State Department officials said that they are following standard protocol in an investigation that began during the latter days of the Obama administration and is nearing completion.

“This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” said a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing probe. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years.”

To many of those under scrutiny, including some of the Democratic Party’s top foreign policy experts, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the Clinton email case represents a new front on which the Trump administration could be accused of employing the powers of the executive branch against perceived political adversaries. The existence of the probe follows revelations that the president used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine to pursue investigations that Trump hoped would produce damaging information about Democrats, including potential presidential rival Joe Biden.

 Sept. 28

Impeachment Daily Index

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ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was subpoenaed to produce documents for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. House Democrats also demanded that five State Department officials be made available for depositions in the next two weeks.

mike pompeo portraitHouse Democrats, kick-starting their impeachment inquiry into President Trump, subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, on Friday, demanding he produce a tranche of documents related to the president’s dealings with Ukraine. Separately, they instructed him to make five State Department officials available for depositions in the coming two weeks.

A failure to do so, the leaders of three House committees wrote jointly, would be construed as “evidence of obstruction of the House’s inquiry.”

marie yovanovitchIt was the first official action in the rapidly escalating impeachment investigation. The officials that Democrats’ said must appear were Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, left,; Ambassador Kurt Volker; George Kent; T. Ulrich Brechbuhl; and Gordon Sondland.

“This subpoena is being issued by the Committee on Foreign Affairs after consultation with the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees,” the Democrats wrote. “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the Chairmen wrote.

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President Trump meets on May 10, 2017 at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.  Trump's team banned United States reporters from the events but it was covered by Russians. The photo above and others were published by the Russian Tass news service.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in election, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Access to a memo of the meeting with Russian officials was limited to all but a few officials. The White House’s classification of such records is a focus of the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.

A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The White House’s classification of records about Trump’s communications with foreign officials is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani cancels paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, abruptly canceled his scheduled paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week.

Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.

The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns, Peter Baker, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine who got caught in the middle of the pressure campaign by President Trump and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to find damaging information about Democrats, abruptly resigned his post on Friday.

Mr. Volker, left and shown in his Twitter photo, who told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday that he was stepping down, offered no public explanation, but a person informed about his decision said he kurt volkerconcluded that it was impossible to be effective in his assignment given the developments of recent days.

His departure was the first resignation since revelations about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. The disclosures have triggered a full-blown House impeachment inquiry, and House leaders announced on Friday that they planned to interview Mr. Volker in a deposition on Thursday.

Mr. Volker, a widely respected former ambassador to NATO, served in the part-time, unpaid position of special envoy to help Ukraine resolve its armed confrontation with Russia-sponsored separatists. He was among the government officials who found themselves in an awkward position because of the search for dirt on Democrats, reluctant to cross the president or Mr. Giuliani yet wary of getting drawn into politics outside their purview.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump posts utterly bizarre midnight tweet as his whistleblower scandal gets even worse for him, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, 2019. This evening the news broke that when Donald Trump met with the Russians in the Oval Office in early 2017, he told them that he didn’t mind their interference in U.S. elections.

bill palmer report logo headerThis a devastating scandal for him, and when placed within the context of Trump’s recent attempt at getting the president of Ukraine to help him rig the next election, it should be enough to finish him off. It’s also terrible news for former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, right, who told the media back then that hr mcmaster cropped may 15 2017 ap he’d been in the room during the meeting, and that everything Trump said to the Russians was “wholly appropriate.” This brings us to Trump’s tweet tonight.

Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand tweeted a link tonight to an old CNBC story from 2017, which served as a reminder that H.R. McMaster lied to us all about what went on in the Russia meeting. But at right around midnight, Donald Trump quoted this tweet, adding “Thank you to General McMaster. Just more Fake News!”

Wait a minute, what? It’s as if Donald Trump awoke from a fever dream at midnight to find that all hell had broken loose in his Russia scandal, misunderstood that H.R. McMaster was trending because he’s been caught lying, and mistakenly thought that McMaster was just now coming to his defense. This is how Trump is trying to defend himself?

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats prepare to move quickly to build case for Trump’s impeachment, Anne Gearan, Karoun Demirjian and Ashley Parker, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats are working against an unofficial deadline of the end of the year to complete impeachment proceedings that currently focus on President Trump’s request for “a favor” during a call with the Ukrainian president.

U.S. House logoHouse Democrats said they will ramp up their impeachment effort next week against President Trump, and on Friday the chairmen of three powerful House committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to their investigation into whether the president improperly pressured Ukraine’s leader to investigate his political rivals.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee have pledged to stay in Washington to work through Congress’s scheduled recess next week as Democrats seek to build a case for removing the president from office.

“I can tell you it’s going to be a very busy couple of weeks ahead,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters. “We’re going to be trying to schedule hearings, witness interviews. We’ll be working on subpoenas and document requests. We’ll be busy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he raised Hunter Biden allegations with his intermediary on China trade talks, Michael Kranish, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Trump's comments could attract interest in light of the impeachment inquiry underway by House Democrats. President Trump, who has alleged that Hunter Biden,right, got the Chinese to put $1.5 billion hunter bideninto an investment fund, said during private remarks this week that he raised the matter with a U.S. executive who has served as his intermediary on trade talks with Beijing.

china flag SmallTrump’s comments could attract interest in light of the impeachment inquiry underway by House Democrats. That investigation focuses on the president’s effort to extract information about Hunter Biden’s job on a Ukrainian gas company’s board at a time when his father was overseeing U.S. policy in that country. Given Trump’s comments, investigators may want to learn whether the president similarly sought information about the Bidens in China.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 28, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 225 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   54 Awaiting response

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani goes completely off the deep end after learning he’s going to be hauled in to testify, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, 2019. Rudy Giuliani spent yesterday telling various news outlets that he either has, or has not, decided to testify in the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal. Rudy also appeared to claim somewhere in there that Joe Biden is trying to have him killed, so it’s not as if we can take his words seriously. But just enough buzz has leaked out of the House that it’s becoming clear Rudy will be hauled in to testify whether he wants to or not.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what’s interesting about the idea of Rudy Giuliani testifying. On the one hand he’d certainly use the hearing as an opportunity to push his increasingly deranged conspiracy theories and lies about Joe Biden, which is the last thing the House impeachment process needs. At the same time, Rudy is now doing so much damage to his own side just by running his mouth, his testimony could indeed help steer the House in the right direction when it comes to turning over the next rock in Trump’s whistleblower scandal.

To give you an idea of just how dangerous Rudy Giuliani is to his own side right now: he tweeted a screen shot of a text message exchange he’d had with the State Department’s Kurt Volker, and less than twenty-four hours later, Volker resigned. Everyone in Trump’s orbit is now one Rudy tweet away from going down. Imagine how much damage Rudy could do to Team Trump by foaming at the mouth for a few hours at a congressional hearing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump, the TV president, meets a media story he can’t control, Margaret Sullivan, margaret sullivan 2015 photoSept. 28, 2019. Donald Trump’s presidency would have been impossible without his reality-TV fame from NBC’s “The Apprentice.” And he is skilled at dominating the visual medium that still matters so much — even in our digital age — from his raucous rallies to his impromptu media gaggles outside a whirring helicopter to his symbiotic relationship with Fox News.

But not this week.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw Mick Mulvaney under the bus in his exploding whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, mick mulvaney full unsourced2019. Trump has apparently decided that because his release of the phone call summary and whistleblower report have gone poorly for him, it’s all the fault of Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, right. No, really.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump thinks that Mulvaney should have done a better job of explaining to the media and the public that these documents exonerated Trump, according to a report from CNN this evening. That’s hilarious, considering that these documents directly incriminated Trump.

The kicker is that Donald Trump isn’t just scapegoating Mick Mulvaney behind closed doors, he’s making a point of leaking it to the media. Think about how Mulvaney must feel right now. He’s being publicly blamed for everything, and he’s clearly in danger of getting fired.

NRA / Russia Scandal

Convicted Russian agent and supposed guns rights advocate Maria Butina poses with a gun over her shoulders (Associated Press photo by Pavel Ptsitsin).

Convicted Russian agent and supposed guns rights advocate Maria Butina poses with a gun over her shoulders (Associated Press photo by Pavel Ptsitsin).

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Senator: Russians Used Greed to ‘Capture’ NRA, Spencer Ackerman, Sept. 28, 2019. Ties between the National Rifle Association and influential Russians were substantial and potentially lucrative enough to render the politically potent gun lobby an “asset” of Russia, according to a Senate Democrat’s year-plus investigation.

ron wydenMore than 4,000 pages of NRA records provided to Sen. Ron Wyden, right, the top Democrat on the finance committee, documented deep connections between the beleaguered gun group and Maria Butina, who in December pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a Russian agent without registering with the Justice nra logo CustomDepartment. Wyden’s report, released Friday and undertaken without the cooperation of committee Republicans, indicates that greed motivated some NRA officials to engage in the outreach.

Butina also made clear to NRA officials long before their controversial Butina-facilitated December 2015 trip to Moscow that Alexander Torshin, her patron and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a man with mysterious pull in the Kremlin. She emailed former NRA president David Keene in January 2015 that Torshin’s appointment to the Russian central bank was “the result of a ‘big game’ in which he has a very important role. All the details we can discuss with you only in person.”

Trump Vengeance?

washington post logoWashington Post, Amateur pro-Trump ‘sleuths’ scramble to unmask whistleblower: ‘Your president has asked for your help,’ Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Sept. 28, 2019. President Trump has called the whistleblower "close to a spy." The looming battle over President Trump’s potential impeachment has sparked an online hunt in the far-right corners of the Web as self-styled Internet sleuths race to identify the anonymous person Trump has likened to a treasonous spy.

Their guesses have been scattershot, conspiratorial and often untethered from reality, spanning a wide range of such unlikely contenders as presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and Vice President Pence.

Some of the online commentators and anonymous posters said they have been spurred to action by Trump’s fury, foreshadowing the online clashes that are likely to engulf any upcoming impeachment hearings and the 2020 campaign.

“Carpet bomb the memes. Everywhere,” one anonymous poster on the message board 4chan wrote in response to one of Trump’s angry tweets about the whistleblower. “Time to rise up. Your president has asked for your help.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: There’s another article of impeachment for you, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, 2019. In a sign of just how much of a career criminal Donald Trump is, and a sign of just how chaotic the circus surrounding Trump’s failing presidency has become over the past week, it turns out he committed a felony in plain sight yesterday – and it went barely noticed.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday morning, a Senate committee report labeled the NRA a “foreign asset” of the Russian government. The money trail running from the Kremlin, through the NRA, to the 2016 campaigns of Donald Trump and a huge number of other Republicans, has been so thoroughly exposed that the NRA’s continued existence is in doubt and its leaders are in danger of ending up criminally indicted. So you’d think that, even as Trump is being impeached for trying to criminally conspire with foreign nations, he’d want to steer clear of the Russian puppets in the NRA – particularly yesterday of all days.

nra logo CustomBut don’t tell that to Donald Trump, who never met a crime he didn’t like. Yesterday, Trump met with NRA boss Wayne LaPierre and offered not to pursue any gun legislation if the NRA was willing to finance his impeachment defense, according to the New York Times. Congressman Ted Lieu, a former prosecutor, tweeted precisely why this is a crime: “If the [New York Times] article is accurate, it appears Donald Trump seeks to trade action on legislation in exchange for financial support from the NRA. That would be illegal. A felony, to be exact.”

In other words, Donald Trump has reached the point of desperation where he’s now committing even more crimes in the name of trying to get himself off for his existing crimes. When the House starts introducing and then eventually expanding articles of impeachment, Trump’s NRA felony will surely end up being one of them. In addition, once Trump is ousted, the NRA felony will get him criminally indicted on yet another felony. Trump is never, ever getting out of prison.''

In many cases, the incidents appear to center on the sending of information attributed to foreign officials, including summaries of phone conversations with foreign diplomats — a routine occurrence among State Department employees.

Sept. 27

Impeachment Scandal

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls for Schiff’s resignation; Pelosi says Barr has ‘gone rogue,’ John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Sept. 27, 2019. The fallout continues from an explosive whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s July phone call with the leader of Ukraine. Here’s the latest. President Trump called Friday for the resignation of the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Attorney General William P. Barr of having “gone rogue” and said she’s praying for God to “illuminate” Trump.

The number of Democrats supporting the impeachment inquiry launched by Pelosi continued to grow. Meanwhile, more than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials had signed a statement supporting an impeachment inquiry based on Trump’s pressing Zelensky during their call to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential contender, and his son Hunter Biden.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why the Trump Impeachment Inquiry Is the Only Option, Editorial Board, Sept. 27, 2019. As traumatic and divisive as the process can be, the time has arrived. For nearly three years, public-spirited people have debated whether each instance of executive overreach by Mr. Trump and his lieutenants went far enough to require the traumatic recourse of an impeachment inquiry. They have wondered at what point the checks and balances of American governance might have to be restored by means of the most radical check of all.

Have other presidents conducted foreign policy with re-election in mind? Of course. But there is no known precedent for a president pressuring a foreign nation to tear down a political rival.

Related News Index

washington post logoWashington Post, Whistleblower, working in stealth, almost single-handedly set impeachment in motion, Greg Miller, Sept. 27, 2019. The whistleblower has by some measures managed to exceed what former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III accomplished in two years of investigating President Trump: producing a file so concerning and factually sound that it pushed into motion the gears of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 300 former officials: Trump’s actions are ‘profound national security concern,’ Karen DeYoung, Sept. 27, 2019. In a signed statement, the group supports an impeachment inquiry to determine “the facts.”

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: A quick guide to Trump’s false claims about Ukraine and the Bidens, Glenn Kessler, Sept. 27, 2019. The president keeps making the same allegations over and over. Here's what he gets wrong.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 debunked talking points used to discredit whistleblower, Amber Phillips, Sept. 27, 2019. To defend President Trump against the whistleblower allegations, Republicans in Congress are having to dodge or misstate some key facts. Here are the most common talking points they are using to discredit the complaint and why those don’t hold up.

Talking point No. 1: There is no quid pro quo — in the call or the whistleblower complaint.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Seven important and awful signs for Trump, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 27, 2019. The whistleblower complaint is so damning President Trump and his minions tried to conceal it from Congress and the public. It is so damning that a long list of Senate Republicans claimed not to have read it or refused comment. As jennifer rubin new headshotdistressing as it is to see such a lack of regard for their duties, it is a sign that there are some things even Trump and Fox News cannot spin.

Indeed, it is the muted reaction of Senate Republicans that leads the list of disastrous signs for the president. The assumption that there could never be a vote to remove him or that it would never get Republican votes needs to be rethought.

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

A third negative indicator for Trump is that the involvement of so many people — possibly including Attorney General William P. Barr and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — gives this a Watergate feel and creates many witnesses. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Did he know that two diplomats were trying to help Ukraine manage Trump’s illegal conduct? Did he recall the ambassador to Ukraine at the request of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump or others mixed up in this scheme?) was potentially involved as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump writes the GOP impeachment playbook: Scorched earth. But will it work? Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The coming weeks will test whether Trump’s familiar blame-the-accuser-and-counterattack playbook will be successful in the face of mounting evidence that he asked Ukraine to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 opponent.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Thursday excoriated an unidentified whistleblower and the White House aides who informed their complaint as “almost a spy” and likened their work to treason — part of a scorched-earth strategy he is directing for the Republican Party at the outset of an impeachment showdown.

Trump has acted impulsively and indignantly as he wages an all-out political war to defend himself from allegations that he abused his power to solicit foreign interference in his 2020 reelection bid.

And in a testament to how completely he controls the Republican Party, many GOP officeholders and conservative media figures have followed Trump’s cues by joining his attempts either to attack the anonymous whistleblower, discredit the explosive accounts in their complaint, or malign the media for covering it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 27, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 224 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   55 Awaiting response

washington post logoWashington Post, Joseph C. Wilson: Diplomat caught in dispute over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction dies at 69, Matt Schudel, Sept. 27, 2019. After he concluded that Iraq did not possess nuclear material, his wife, Valerie Plame, was unmasked as a CIA officer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani cancels paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference, Amie Ferris-Rotman and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 27, 2019. Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, abruptly canceled his scheduled paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week.

Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.

The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

According to an agenda for the event posted online, Giuliani was set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.

Trump Defender Bill Barr

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Donald Trump welcomes longtime GOP legal and intelligence fixer Donald Barr to his team after Barr's confirmation as U.S. Attorney General in March 2019 (White House photo).

Palmer Report, Analysis: Bill Barr is spiraling out of control, Isabel Stamm, Sept. 27, 2019. One day, when the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled, lawmakers will have to tackle the difficult task of trying to patch up the weak spots and the gaping holes that have become apparent in the fabric of the American system of government. It will be a truly herculean task, and the burden will probably fall mostly on the shoulders of Democratic members of Congress, since the Republicans apparently checked their ethics and principles at the door at some point in 2016.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the many things that lawmakers will need to address as they wade through the debris of what was assumed to be a perfect system of checks and balances will be the role of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC is a small office that rarely garners any public attention, but it holds extraordinary power. By law, the function of the Office of Legal Counsel is to help the Attorney General provide legal advice to the president and federal agencies. In its current form, the OLC operates like a black box. Important legal questions are submitted to the office for deliberation and the OLC then issues an opinion – often in the form of a memo – which is binding on the executive branch. Yet the process of decision making and the rationales underlying the final opinion can be kept secret from everyone, except high-ranking administration officials.

We have witnessed the great and lasting influence exercised by the Office of Legal Counsel in the context of the Mueller investigation when the Special Counsel declined to make a prosecutorial judgment because of an OLC memo stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller followed an old OLC directive – not a law – which was the result of deliberations on whether or not a sitting president could be criminally tried without the proceedings interfering with his official duties in a way that might be harmful to the country.

william barr new oUnder Attorney General Bill Barr, right, and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who is heading the OLC, the office – which is accountable to no one in particular – has played a pivotal role in shielding Donald Trump from congressional oversight. Among other things, the Office of Legal Counsel has declared that Congress may not obtain Trump’s tax returns and has asserted that the president’s counsel and senior advisers have immunity from congressional investigation.

In recent days, the current DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel has flexed its muscle again, inserting itself into the processing of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint by simply asserting that – contrary to ICIG Michael Atkinson’s judgment – the complaint was not urgent or credible and should therefore not be passed on to Congress. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who handled whistleblower complaints in the aftermath of Snowden, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he wasn’t aware he had had the power to withhold a whistleblower complaint from Congress, thus pointing out the unprecedented nature of what Acting-DNI Joseph Maguire did under the OLC’s directive, which is in clear opposition to the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA).

It is quite ironic that the Trump regime, which regularly and loudly denounces the devious workings of an imagined “Deep State”, has managed to create for itself such a powerful tool that it resembles the notorious Court of Star Chamber of King Charles I and operates outside the provisions made by the American Constitution.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Book Review / Investigative Commentary: Daddy Dearest: the weirdness of Donald Barr, the father of Trump's mob lawyer Attorney General, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 27, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Attorney General William Barr is in the news regarding his criminal conspiracy involving Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, and Ukraine.

It is highly relevant that the activities of Barr's father, Donald Barr, a former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer during World War II and the headmaster of the Dalton School, who was influential in hiring the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein as a teacher, be closely examined. Understanding the senior Barr may explain the actions of his scion in one of the worst constitutional crises to hit the United States since Watergate.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr? Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Trump’s attorney general is implicated in the Ukraine scandal, but refuses to recuse. The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

Then there’s Barr’s personal involvement in the Ukraine plot. In the reconstruction of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House, Trump repeatedly said that he wanted Ukraine’s government to work with Barr on investigating the Bidens. Barr’s office insists that the president hasn’t spoken to Barr about the subject, but given the attorney general’s record of flagrant dishonesty — including his attempts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report — there’s no reason to believe him. william barr at dojBesides, said Representative Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, “the effort to suppress the existence of the phone conversation itself is an obvious obstruction of justice.”

But Barr’s refusal to recuse creates a sort of legal cul-de-sac. It’s only the Justice Department, ultimately, that can prosecute potential federal crimes arising from this scandal. Barr’s ethical nihilism, his utter indifference to ordinary norms of professional behavior, means that he’s retaining the authority to stop investigations into crimes he may have participated in.

That makes the impeachment proceedings in the House, where Barr will likely be called as a witness, the last defense against complete administration lawlessness. “Just as the president is not above the law, the attorney general is not above the law,” said Raskin. “The president’s betrayal of his oath of office and the Constitution is the primary offense here, and we need to stay focused on that, but the attorney general’s prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes and he will face his own reckoning.”

Whistleblower Memo, DNI Testimony

joseph maguire 9 26 19 testimony Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower’s Complaint Says White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Eileen Sullivan, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call between President Trump and Ukraine’s leader, the complaint said. White House lawyers allegedly told officials to move a transcript of the call into a separate system for classified information.

After hearing President Trump tried to persuade Ukraine to investigate a 2020 campaign rival, senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call, in particular the official complete transcript, a whistle-blower alleged in an explosive complaint released Thursday.

djt phone plane shealah craighead whIn an attempt to “lock down” all records of the call, White House lawyers told officials to move an electronic transcript of the call into a separate system reserved for classified information that is especially sensitive, the complaint said. During the call, Mr. Trump (shown in a White House file photo) pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

These and other details surrounding the call were “deeply disturbing” to senior White House officials, according to the complaint. A day earlier, the White House released a reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call.

The whistle-blower, an unnamed intelligence official, did not personally witness the actions, but heard accounts from multiple American officials.

Related Story Headlines from Sept. 26, with details below:

djt vlodomir zelinsky getty

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with President Trump in person on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (Photo by Doug Mills of the New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.).  Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already, Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Peter Baker, Sept. 27, 2019 (print marie yovanovitched.). Marie Yovanovitch was forced out after Trump allies called her disloyal. Others said she fell victim to the president’s efforts to hurt Joe Biden.

President Trump’s words about Marie L. Yovanovitch, his former ambassador to Ukraine, were ominous. In a telephone conversation that has set off a political crisis for Mr. Trump, he told Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, that she was “bad news.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” he added. In fact, she already has gone through quite a bit. Over the past several months, Ms. Yovanovitch, a decorated 33-year veteran of the State Department, has been vilified in the right-wing news media, denounced by the president’s eldest son as a “joker,” called a Democratic stooge by the president’s personal lawyer and then abruptly recalled from Kiev this May, months ahead of schedule.

U.S. Government

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge blocks Trump administration from detaining migrant children for indefinite periods, Maria Sacchetti​, Sept. 27, 2019. Trump administration officials had hoped new rules would take effect soon to solidify the decline in border crossings.

CNN, 'Cracking issue' discovered on some of Boeing's 737 NG planes, airline says, Rene Marsh, Sept. 27, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered inspections of a Boeing 737 model after the company notified the agency of structural cracks. Operators of certain 737 Next Generation planes will be required to make inspections, the FAA said.

"Boeing notified the agency of the matter after it discovered the cracks while conducting modifications on a heavily used aircraft. Subsequent inspections uncovered similar cracks in a small number of additional planes. The FAA will instruct operators to conduct specific inspections, make any necessary repairs and to report their findings to the agency immediately," the agency said.

The cracking was found in the plane's pickle forks, which attach the plane's body to its wing structure, CNN affiliate KOMO reported. Earlier this year, the FAA grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes after identifying similarities between two catastrophic crashes that left more than 300 people dead.

Global News: Nigeria

nigerian flag wavingReuters via New York Times, Hundreds of Chained Men and Boys Are Rescued in Nigeria, Staff report, Sept. 26, 2019. The police said they had freed more than 300 from what was purported to be an Islamic school. The Nigerian police have rescued more than 300 men and boys who were chained and starving in a building believed to be an Islamic school in the northern city of Kaduna, in what a police official on Friday described as a case involving human slavery.

Many of the captives were children who had metal chains around their ankles, a police spokesman, Yakubu Sabo, told Reuters. He said that at least seven teachers from the school had been arrested.

The police chief of Kaduna State, Ali Janga, told the BBC that the building had been raided on Thursday after a tip on what he called a “house of torture.” The detainees were not all Nigerian, Mr. Janga said, and they had been tortured, sexually abused, starved and prevented from leaving, in some cases for years.

Sept. 26

Impeachment Scandal

nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

NBC News, Pelosi on handling of whistleblower complaint: 'This is a cover-up,' Rebecca Shabad and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Sept. 26, 2019. “Our focus is on this allegation,” the House speaker said at her first news conference (above) since announcing a formal impeachment inquiry this week. Pelosi on impeachment inquiry: Trump is 'now in my wheelhouse.' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the allegations laid out by the intelligence community whistleblower in the complaint released to the public earlier in the day amounted to a “cover-up” by the administration.

“This is a cover-up,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference as she answered questions for the first time since announcing a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday evening.

U.S. House logoThe speaker read from the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that the White House tried to “lock down” all records of the call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart because officials there understood the gravity and potential consequences of what had transpired during the conversation.

“When you have a system of electronic storage for information that is specifically for national security purposes and you have something that is self-serving to the president politically and decide you might not want people to know, and you hide it some place else, that’s a cover-up,” Pelosi said.

In response to a question from NBC News, Pelosi confirmed that Democrats have decided to narrow the current focus of their impeachment inquiry to the allegations laid out by the whistleblower.

“Our consensus in our caucus is we will proceed under the auspices of where this is relevant and that is the Intelligence Committee,” she said. “Our focus is on this allegation.”

The House Judiciary Committee, however, would be the panel that would handle articles of impeachment. Asked about a timeline for the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi said she has not given committee chairs any deadlines and said only that the facts would determine the schedule.

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky


Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got really bad news about his impeachment, Bill Palmer, Sept. 26, 2019. Donald Trump’s Ukraine whistleblower scandal is so horrifying, so easy for the average American to understand, and it so thoroughly has Trump’s own fingerprints on the wrongdoing, it’s the perfect scandal to drive his impeachment. If you want confirmation, just look at the latest numbers.

bill palmer report logo headerThe new YouGov poll says that 55% of Americans “strongly” or “somewhat” support Trump’s impeachment if it’s proven he threatened to withhold military aid to push Ukraine into going after Joe Biden. The new Morning Consult poll, which simply asks if Trump should be impeached, period, only shows 43% of Americans in favor of impeachment – but that’s up six points over the past few days. In addition, seven percent of Americans have now dropped their opposition to impeachment, which suggests that this scandal is changing the minds of some people who had been standing by him.

As more evidence surfaces in the Ukraine whistleblower scandal, and as more people hear about this evidence, the pro-impeachment numbers should keep rising by the day. This will place pressure on the Republican Senators, because they’ll have to fear that the voters will punish them in 2020 if they try to protect Donald Trump in this scandal.

washington post logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Julian E. Barnes, Sept. 26, 2019. His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics. Little else is known about him.

cia logoThe whistle-blower who revealed that President Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why The Times Published Details of the Whistle-Blower’s Identity, Staff report, Sept. 26, 2019. Our executive editor, Dean Baquet, addresses readers’ concerns about the decision to publish information on a person who is central to the Trump impeachment inquiry. On Thursday, The Times published exclusive details about the identity of the whistle-blower whose claims led Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump this week. (The article reported that the whistle-blower is a C.I.A. officer who was previously detailed to work at the White House and had expertise on Ukraine.)

Many readers, including some who work in national security and intelligence, have criticized The Times’s decision to publish the details, saying it potentially put the person’s life in danger and may have a chilling effect on would-be whistle-blowers.

We took their concerns to Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor, who responded to them in a discussion with the Reader Center:

The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding. The president himself has called the whistle-blower’s account a “political hack job.”

We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible.

We welcome your thoughts in the comments. We’ll be reading them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Pelosi accuses White House of ‘coverup’ after release of whistleblower report, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 26, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the White House on Thursday of a “coverup,” hours after the public release of a whistleblower’s report that claimed officials tried to limit access to the written record of President Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

Trump lashed out at Democrats minutes after the explosive whistleblower report was made public, and he urged Republicans to “STICK TOGETHER” as another dramatic day in Washington unfolded.

As of Wednesday night, a majority of House members had voiced public support for the impeachment inquiry.

Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, spent more than three hours Thursday morning before the House Intelligence Committee, where lawmakers questioned him about the complaint, which revealed that Trump had pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son. A redacted version of the complaint was made public Thursday morning.

Trump returned to Washington early Thursday afternoon from New York, where he spent three days in meetings at the U.N. General Assembly, including one with Zelensky.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 26, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

At least 68 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  220 159 55

  • 220 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 159 No, not now, or undecided
  •   55 Awaiting response

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Sept. 26, 2019. Comments by Ukraine’s leader are the first known example of an interaction ethics experts feared — a foreign leader seeking to influence Trump by staying at his properties and telling him. Buried in the controversy over President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was an effort by the Ukrainian leader at currying favor with Trump through his business.

“Actually, last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park, and I stayed at the Trump Tower,” Zelensky told Trump, according to a rough transcript of the July 25 call released Wednesday.

Zelensky’s comments mark the first known example of an interaction Democrats and government ethics experts warned about when Trump took office: that foreign leaders would try to influence Trump by spending money at his properties and telling him about it.

  • Analysis: Timeline of dates in the complaint shows an alarming pattern by Trump
  • Former Ukraine prosecutor says Hunter Biden ‘did not violate anything’
  • Analysis: 4 government attorneys embroiled in Trump’s Ukraine mess
  • Fact Checker: 4 Pinocchios for Trump’s claims about Hunter Biden’s China dealings

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower’s Complaint Says White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Eileen Sullivan, Sept. 26, 2019. The declassified complaint, released Thursday, accuses the president of trying to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election to benefit him.

President Trump used the power of his office to try to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election to investigate a political rival, according to an explosive whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday after days of damning revelations about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Attorney General William P. Barr and the president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani were central to the effort, the complaint said

In addition, the complaint says that whistle-blower, an unidentified intelligence officer learned from multiple American officials that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced as is customary by the White House Situation Room,” the complaint said. “This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees and a group of senior lawmakers from both parties, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, were permitted to review the classified complaint on Wednesday, just hours after the White House released a reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. During the call, about the country’s need for more American financial aid, Mr. Trump urged Mr. Zelensky to pursue an investigation into a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 26, 2019.  Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine. Other headlines:

  • Live updates: Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, is testifying before Congress today.
  • The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.
  • Impeachment Fight Is On; Trump Says ‘It’s a Joke,’ The reconstruction of call between the two leaders became a flash point in the evolving fight over impeachment.
  • Intelligence Chief in Political Storm Holds His Ground, Joseph Maguire assumed the post last month. Almost immediately, a whistle-blower complaint plunged him into crisis.
  • How Trump’s Obsession With Ukraine Led to Crisis for White House
  • Hours after Ukraine’s leader was elected in April, President Trump urged him to pursue corruption investigations.
  • Justice Dept.’s Dismissal of Ukraine Call Raises Questions About Barr
  • Attorney General William Barr took four weeks to dismiss the significance of a call that has, in days, created a furor.

Sept. 25

Trump Ukraine Scandaldjt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump offered U.S. help with Biden inquiry, readout shows, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 25, 2019. President Trump (shown above in a file photo) told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotThose statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law. In late August, intelligence officials referred the matter to the Justice Department as a possible crime, but prosecutors concluded last week that the conduct was not criminal, according to senior Justice Department officials.

Breaking: Whistleblower complaint reported declassified, according to NBC News, with minimal redactions and expected to be available Thursday.

The document released Wednesday, in keeping with White House practice, is a memorandum of a telephone conversation and is not a verbatim account. A cautionary note on the memo of the call warns that the text reflects the notes and memories of officials in the Situation Room and that a number of factors “can affect the accuracy of the record.”

The administration’s disclosures underscore how the president’s phone call has consumed the federal government in recent days, and how the White House is now scrambling to defuse the situation by offering more details of what the president said to Zelensky.

While the Justice Department has concluded the call did not violate campaign finance law, a growing number of Democrats are pushing for impeachment, saying the president’s conduct — seeking a foreign country’s aid in discrediting a political rival — betrayed his oath of office and endangered national security.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: New revelations on Trump call and Giuliani make impeachment more likely, Greg Sargent, Sept. 25, 2019. The White House just released details of President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, and it confirms some of our worst expectations. President Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (right) and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an joe biden headshotinquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.

Justice Department officials concluded this was not criminal because what Trump solicited from the Ukrainian president was not a “thing of value.”

But that doesn’t mean this doesn’t constitute partial grounds for impeachment, which doesn’t require criminality. And on that score, the new details of the call are very damning. Crucially, the call details show Trump explicitly pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to talk to Rudy Giuliani and William Barr about Trump’s desire to see Ukraine investigate Biden, his most likely general-election opponent.

“If you could speak to [Giuliani], that would be great,” Trump tells Zelensky, before saying that “a lot of people” want to find out about the situation involving Joe Biden and the Ukraine, and asking Zelensky to “look into it.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump denies that he pressured Ukraine’s Zelensky to investigate Biden, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 25, 2019. President Trump on Wednesday denied that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, after the White House released a rough transcript of the July call between the two that Democrats say confirms the need for an impeachment inquiry.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotAt the start of a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Zelensky, left, told reporters that Trump did not push him to investigate Biden.

“I think you read everything,” he said. “I think you read [the] text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections, elections of U.S.A. … Nobody pushed me.”

At that point, Trump cut in. “In other words, no pressure,” he said. The exchange followed the release of a document that showed Trump offering the help of the U.S. attorney general to investigate Biden and promising Zelensky a White House meeting after he said he would conduct such an inquiry.

joseph maguire headshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting intelligence chief threatened to resign if he couldn’t speak freely before Congress on whistleblower, officials say, Greg Miller, Shane Harris and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 25, 2019. Joseph Maguire, shown above in a file photo, feared the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall when he provides testimony on Thursday, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. In a statement, Maguire said that “at no time have I considered resigning my position.”

The current and former officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said Maguire had pushed the White House to make an explicit legal decision on whether it would assert executive privilege over the whistleblower complaint, which centers on a call that Trump made with the leader of Ukraine in late July.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House mistakenly sends Trump-Ukraine talking points to Democrats, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 25, 2019. In the hours after the release Wednesday of the rough transcript of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the White House circulated an email with proposed talking points for Trump’s defenders.

Unfortunately for the White House, the email was mistakenly sent to not only Republicans but also Democratic lawmakers and their staff.

The message, titled, “What you need to know: President Trump’s call with President Zelenskyy,” was quickly recalled — but not before Democrats took to Twitter to ridicule the White House over the error.

“I would like to thank @WhiteHouse for sending me their talking points on how best to spin the disastrous Trump/Zelensky call in Trump’s favor,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) said in a tweet. “However, I will not be using their spin and will instead stick with the truth. But thanks though.”

washington post logodevin nunes head oWashington Post, Congress to receive whistleblower complaint today, Rep. Nunes says, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Sept. 25, 2019. Key developments are playing out in a controversy that has ignited a drive for Trump’s impeachment.

  • Washington Post, Acting director of national intelligence threatened to resign if he couldn’t speak freely before Congress on whistleblower, Greg Miller, Shane Harris and Karoun Demirjian​, Sept. 25, 2019. Joseph Maguire feared the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall when he provides testimony on Thursday.
  • Washington Post, Some Senate Republicans stunned, question White House’s judgment after release, Robert Costa, Sept. 25, 2019. While many Republicans continue to dismiss impeachment efforts, cracks have begun to emerge within the GOP.
  • Washington Post, Analysis: Annotating the rough transcript of Trump-Ukraine call, Aaron Blake, Sept. 25, 2019. Pore over the full readout, with highlights, analysis and fact-checking.

djt mike pence

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw Mike Pence under the bus in the Ukraine whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 25, 2019. Donald Trump held a press conference this afternoon about his own impeachment, which was historically deranged in nature. Half the time, no one could figure out what he was even talking about. He rambled incoherently about his imaginary border wall, his imaginary poll numbers, and more. But at one point he delivered a certain message very clearly: please take Mike Pence down.

bill palmer report logo headerWhile Donald Trump was reading from his prepared notes, he urged the media to demand that the transcripts be released of Mike Pence’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine. Then, for emphasis, he circled back a bit later and made the request again. Trump really, really, really wants Pence’s role in this Ukraine scandal to be exposed. The question is why.

Is Donald Trump trying to take Mike Pence down with him out of pure spite, or is there an actual strategy here? Perhaps Trump thinks that if he can drag Pence into this scandal, then it’ll take some of the heat off himself. Or maybe Trump figures that if Pence is also destroyed by this, Congress might be less inclined to oust Trump, because Pence would also have to resign, and we’d be in a constitutional crisis.

It’s difficult to say what’s going on inside the completely deranged and largely depleted mind of Donald Trump at this point. But by urgently steering the media toward the transcripts of Mike Pence’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine, and even revealing that there are multiple such calls, there’s no question that Trump is trying to drag Pence squarely into this scandal.

Roll Call, Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry, Lindsey McPherson, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Move comes as Senate passes resolution calling for whistleblower report to be turned over. Pelosi on impeachment: ‘Now that we have the facts, we’re ready."

nancy pelosi twitterSpeaker Nancy Pelosi, right, announced Tuesday that the House will move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry, but Democrats said it was not clear what form that inquiry will take or how quickly it will lead to a decision on whether to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

“I’m announcing that the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” the California Democrat said in televised remarks Tuesday after a meeting of House Democrats. “I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”

[Whistleblower may testify to House panel, as Trump pledges to release Ukraine call transcript]

U.S. House logoPelosi’s directive seemed to override the claims of Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other panel Democrats that they’ve been engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry for months. But she also offered no indication of any forthcoming changes to the Judiciary’s impeachment investigation or the oversight work of five other committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services and Ways and Means — that are all looking into Trump’s alleged misdeeds and abuses of power.

For now, the impeachment inquiry seems to more of a rhetorical reframing than a procedural one. Pelosi did not say whether the full House would vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry or whether the six committee investigations would be condensed into a single impeachment probe.

Despite the ambiguity about next steps, several Democrats said moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, as blessed by Pelosi, is a significant step because the caucus was unified behind the decision.

Just before making her statement to reporters, Pelosi briefed the Democratic Caucus on her plans for advancing the House’s investigations into Trump following allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to open an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

No one in the room objected to moving into an informal impeachment inquiry, according to members present.

djt hands up white house“It just shows there’s no question that the entire Democratic caucus is on the same page,” Judiciary member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said, noting “there was some question about that” before. At least a few Democrats remained undecided as to whether an impeachment inquiry is something they personally would support.

For most Democrats, however, the notion that Trump sought Ukraine’s help in digging up dirt on a political foe was the push they needed. More than two dozen Democrats who’d previously declined to endorse an impeachment inquiry — including several moderate freshmen who helped Democrats pick up GOP seats to win the majority in 2018 — offered their support for such a move on Monday and Tuesday.

nancy pelosi impeachment ny post cover sept 25 2019 CustomPelosi did not provide details to the caucus on what the impeachment inquiry process would look like moving forward, several members said leaving the meeting. And she didn't take questions from reporters during her remarks.

Democrat Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told members they shouldn't get bogged down by the procedure, which prompted some pushback.

“I think a lot of people wanted to know exactly how it would work, but I don’t think they’ve figured [it] out,” Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth.

Some Democrats have called for a select committee to handle the impeachment inquiry, but others disagree with that approach.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key officials were sidelined, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne and Ellen Nakashima, Sept. 25, 2019 (print rudy giuliani recented.). The effort to control the U.S. relationship with Kiev included the removal of the U.S. ambassador, the circumvention of senior officials on the NSC, and the suspension of millions in aid, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Several officials described tense meetings on Ukraine among national security officials at the White House leading up to the president’s phone call on July 25, sessions that led some participants to fear that Trump and those close to him appeared prepared to use U.S. leverage with the new leader of Ukraine for Trump’s political gain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Hunter Biden ‘walks out of China with $1.5 billion.’ Biden’s lawyer said that’s not true, Michael Kranish, Sept. 25, 2019. President Trump alleged Wednesday that Hunter Biden got China to put $1.5 billion in a fund, an assertion that has been flatly denied by Biden’s lawyer, who said his client had not received anything from the investment.

hunter bidenTrump, who has made a similar allegation for months, is referencing information from a book by Peter Schweizer, Secret Empires, that first detailed how Hunter Biden, right, flew to China on Air Force Two with his father in 2013.

His father, former vice president Joe Biden, had traveled to China at the time to meet with that country’s leaders while he was in office. Schweizer wrote in a summary of the 2018 book that 10 days after the Bidens arrived in China, “Hunter Biden’s firm scored a $1.5 billion deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China.”

Trump on Wednesday put it this way: “When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China and he’s there with one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two. I think that’s a horrible thing. I think it’s a horrible thing.”

Trump made his comments on the day that the White House released a transcript of his conversation in which he urged the president of Ukraine to look into Hunter Biden’s work as a board member of a gas company in that country, a job that was given when Joe Biden was vice president and dealing with Ukraine policy.

House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Trump has tried to keep the focus on what he calls corrupt acts by the Bidens.

In bringing up the China episode, Trump did not provide any new evidence to back up his claims.

Hunter Biden did travel with his father on Air Force Two to China on Dec. 4, 2013.

Twelve days later, Hunter Biden joined the board of a just-formed investment advisory firm, known as BHR, whose partners included Chinese entities. Affiliates of the advisory firm said they planned to raise $1.5 billion.

Some media reports over the past five years have described Hunter Biden as an owner of a private equity company that sought to raise that amount.

However, George Mesires, lawyer for Hunter Biden, said in an interview earlier this year that his client’s role has been misconstrued. He said Hunter Biden was on the board of the advisory firm that did not directly invest, but instead advised those who did.

Moreover, Mesires said, it was not until October 2017 that Hunter Biden acquired a financial stake in BHR. Hunter Biden bought a 10 percent equity interest that was worth $430,000 in July, Mesires said. At least half of the firm’s stake is owned by Chinese entities, according to business records.

“To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors,” Meseris said in a statement Wednesday. “The characterization of Mr. Biden as owning a $1.5 billion private equity firm funded by the Chinese, or suggesting that Mr. Biden has earned millions of dollars from the firm is a gross misrepresentation of Mr. Biden’s role with BHR.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Meets With Ukraine’s President and Denies Pressuring Him, Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2019. Mr. Trump received some backing from the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, as the two took questions from reporters. President Trump on Wednesday adamantly denied that he pressured Ukraine to investigate one of his leading Democratic rivals despite the newly released record of a call in which he asked the country’s president to look into Democrats as “a favor” to him.

Mr. Trump received some backing from the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who by chance met with Mr. Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly at the same time the House was gearing up for impeachment proceedings stemming from the interaction between the two leaders.

Sitting side by side with Mr. Trump in their first face-to-face meeting, Mr. Zelensky told reporters that he wanted to stay out of United States politics but provided a benign interpretation of the July 25 call in which Mr. Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and any Ukrainian ties to Democrats during the 2016 campaign.

“We had, I think, a good phone call,” Mr. Zelensky said. “It was normal, we spoke about many things. So, I think you read it that nobody pushed it, pushed me.”

“In other words, no pressure,” Mr. Trump chimed in. “And by the way,” he added, addressing a reporter, “you know there was no pressure.”

The timing of the meeting between the two men, scheduled before the revelations that prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open a formal impeachment inquiry, was just one element in a day of rapid-fire developments. After days of resistance, the administration released a memo recounting the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky and then agreed later in the day to give Congress the complaint made by an unidentified government whistle-blower that touched off the furor.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Makes Clear He’s Ready for a Fight He Has Long Anticipated, Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). He lashed out at the opposition Democrats, denouncing them for “crazy” partisanship. He denounced the allegations against him as “more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage.” And he proclaimed that even if the impeachment battle to come will be bad for the country, it will be “a positive for me” by bolstering his chances to win a second term in next year’s election.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Impeachment Chess Part 2: Forget About the Senate Role in Impeachment, Rob Kall (right, OpEdNews founder and publisher and author of the author of The rob kall newBottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity), Sept. 25, 2019. Forget about the role of the Senate in impeachment. The important action will be happening in the House. Reference to the Senate is a distraction. And suggesting that this impeachment will help the Republicans, like Bill Clinton's impeachment helped the Democrats is a fantasy or fear-mongering that is just wrong. The circumstances are profoundly different.

This is a follow-up on my article, Impeachment is a Chess, Not a Checkers Game, in which I wrote:

"People who believe that impeachment is not worth doing because it will fail in the Senate are thinking checkers. But this is a chess game. It's not about removing Trump from office. It's about having access to the full power of impeachment hearings to investigate Trump. The way I think about impeachment is the way I think about life -- it's the road, not the destination. Once the impeachment process is started, the revelations about Trump's corruption and criminality will start to emerge. The idea should be to keep the impeachment going as long as possible, with new testimonies and new releases of disclosures of corruption and treason on a regular basis."

cnn logoCNN, Trump incredulous after his moves on transparency failed to stop Pelosi, Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta, Sept. 25, 2019. President Donald Trump was incredulous Tuesday as he sat in Trump Tower and watched House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announce she was launching a formal impeachment inquiry against him, sources familiar with the moment say. Sitting in the same building where he launched his long shot presidential campaign four years ago, Trump said he couldn't believe it, he later told people.

He had felt confident after phoning Pelosi earlier that morning. The drive for impeachment in her caucus had ramped up amid reports he pushed the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden, and Trump was hoping to head off a clash. He figured he could de-escalate tensions by speaking with her directly.

It was after that call that Trump made the decision to release an "unredacted" version of the transcript of his July call -- against the advice of aides such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned him it would set a risky precedent. Trump wanted to undercut the argument from Democrats that he acted inappropriately, he said, and felt he had nothing to hide.

But when the announcement he would release the transcript did little to quell the growing calls for his impeachment, Trump was in disbelief.

Democrats immediately argued that it wouldn't be enough. They also wanted to see the whistleblower's complaint, which had been found urgent and credible by the inspector general for the intelligence community and was mandated by law to be handed over to the intelligence committees. Administration officials began working out a plan to declassify and redact the complaint so it could be turned over too, all in the hope of easing escalated tensions with lawmakers.

After Pelosi's historic announcement, Trump immediately began lashing out, accusing Democrats of distracting from his successes at the United Nations General Assembly and arguing it was just "more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage."

But people close to him said he is not welcoming this impeachment fight. The President who keeps a careful watch on his approval numbers was unhappy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: House Democrats’ move can be cast as an epic battle between Pelosi and Trump, Dan Balz​, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The inquiry will help define the limits of presidential powers while shaping the 2020 election as no other issue can.

Roger Stone Case Update

Politico, Roger Stone's lawyer floats a Steve Bannon cameo for Nov. trial, Darren Samuelsohn, Sept. 25, 2019. A defense lawyer for the Republican political consultant signaled there could be a big showdown with Donald Trump's former campaign manager.

Roger Stone’s November trial was already shaping up to be a true Washington spectacle, with President Donald Trump's longtime ally defending himself in federal court against charges he lied to Congress and obstructed the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe.

On Wednesday, it got even more interesting. During a pre-trial conference held exactly eight months to the day after special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed Stone’s indictment and FBI agents arrested him in Fort Lauderdale, a defense lawyer for the Republican political consultant signaled there could be a big showdown on the witness stand with former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.

Bruce Rogow, the Stone lawyer, didn’t provide details about why exactly Bannon would be called in the trial, which is scheduled to start Nov. 5 in Washington. But he dropped Bannon’s name, along with three others who were already known as potential witnesses — former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, radio host Randy Credico and conservative author Jerome Corsi — during an argument with Justice Department prosecutors over what can be said in front of the jury.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, ultimately sided against Stone on the issue of whether his attorneys would have the right during the trial to take issue when talking to the potential witnesses about the conduct of Mueller’s team, the FBI, intelligence officials and members of Congress.

“We’re not going to try the investigators or the investigation,” she said.

Even so, Jackson said she would give Stone’s defense team some leeway when witnesses are on the stand to pose questions about whether the government had made any promises in exchange for their testimony.

On Corsi, for example, Rogow said he was interested in asking about a plea agreement the government dangled in front of the conservative commentator but then pulled back. Corsi, identified in the Mueller indictment as “Person 1,” exchanged multiple emails with Stone in 2016 about WikiLeaks, the online platform responsible for publishing stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Stone’s trial is expected to last at least two weeks and now appears on track to coincide with formal House impeachment investigations against Trump, the businessman-turned-president whose career he’s been a central part of promoting dating back to the early 1980s.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani begins screaming “shut up idiot” on live television during crazed meltdown, Bill Palmer, Sept. 25, 2019. Rudy Giuliani is not taking Donald rudy giuliani recentTrump’s impeachment well, both because it means his friend Trump is going down, and because it means Rudy is in severe danger of going to prison. Palmer Report brought you the story of how Giuliani went completely off the deep end about impeachment on Twitter on Tuesday night. It turns out Rudy had an even worse time of it on television.

On Tuesday night, Rudy Giuliani appeared on the Laura Ingraham show on Fox News – which should have been the most friendly territory possible for him. But at one point Ingraham had Rudy on with a panel of three other guests, not all of whom were on his side. Eventually, Rudy completely lost it and began screaming.

bill palmer report logo headerAt one point Rudy Giuliani began yelling at another panelist: “Shut up … shut up … shut up … you don’t know what you’re talking about … you don’t know what you’re talking about … idiot!” Watch the surreal video for yourself:

fox news logo SmallIt couldn’t be much more clear that Rudy Giuliani has completely lost what little semblance of rationality he might have had left. Not only is the Ukraine scandal devastating to Donald Trump, it’s devastating to Rudy as well. At this point we’re left to wonder – in all seriousness – if Rudy will need to be carted away before the week is over.

Trump Watch

SouthFront, U.S. Commerce Secretary Fell Asleep During Trump’s Speech In UN Security Council, Politico, wire and staff reports, Sept. 25, 2019. On September 24th, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross fell asleep during US President Donald Trump’s speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly. Wilbur Ross does have a history of actually falling asleep during speeches.

A former Commerce Department adviser told Politico in July 2019 that Ross had a reputation for falling asleep. “Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen so they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”

Trump Ukraine Scandal

Roll Call, Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry, Lindsey McPherson, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Move comes as Senate passes resolution calling for whistleblower report to be turned over. Pelosi on impeachment: ‘Now that we have the facts, we’re ready.

nancy pelosi twitterSpeaker Nancy Pelosi, right, announced Tuesday that the House will move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry, but Democrats said it was not clear what form that inquiry will take or how quickly it will lead to a decision on whether to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

“I’m announcing that the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” the California Democrat said in televised remarks Tuesday after a meeting of House Democrats. “I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”

[Whistleblower may testify to House panel, as Trump pledges to release Ukraine call transcript]

U.S. House logoPelosi’s directive seemed to override the claims of Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other panel Democrats that they’ve been engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry for months. But she also offered no indication of any forthcoming changes to the Judiciary’s impeachment investigation or the oversight work of five other committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services and Ways and Means — that are all looking into Trump’s alleged misdeeds and abuses of power.

For now, the impeachment inquiry seems to more of a rhetorical reframing than a procedural one. Pelosi did not say whether the full House would vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry or whether the six committee investigations would be condensed into a single impeachment probe.

Despite the ambiguity about next steps, several Democrats said moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, as blessed by Pelosi, is a significant step because the caucus was unified behind the decision.

Just before making her statement to reporters, Pelosi briefed the Democratic Caucus on her plans for advancing the House’s investigations into Trump following allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to open an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

No one in the room objected to moving into an informal impeachment inquiry, according to members present.

“It just shows there’s no question that the entire Democratic caucus is on the same page,” Judiciary member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said, noting “there was some question about that” before. At least a few Democrats remained undecided as to whether an impeachment inquiry is something they personally would support.

For most Democrats, however, the notion that Trump sought Ukraine’s help in digging up dirt on a political foe was the push they needed. More than two dozen Democrats who’d previously declined to endorse an impeachment inquiry — including several moderate freshmen who helped Democrats pick up GOP seats to win the majority in 2018 — offered their support for such a move on Monday and Tuesday.

Pelosi did not provide details to the caucus on what the impeachment inquiry process would look like moving forward, several members said leaving the meeting. And she didn't take questions from reporters during her remarks.

Democrat Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told members they shouldn't get bogged down by the procedure, which prompted some pushback.

“I think a lot of people wanted to know exactly how it would work, but I don’t think they’ve figured [it] out,” Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth.

Some Democrats have called for a select committee to handle the impeachment inquiry, but others disagree with that approach.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Makes Clear He’s Ready for a Fight He Has Long Anticipated, Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). He lashed out at the opposition Democrats, denouncing them for “crazy” partisanship. He denounced the allegations against him as “more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage.” And he proclaimed that even if the impeachment battle to come will be bad for the country, it will be “a positive for me” by bolstering his chances to win a second term in next year’s election.

Sept. 24

Trump Ukraine Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 24, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

At least 68 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 203 Representatives support an impeachment inquiry
  • 88 No, not now, or undecided
  • 144 Awaiting response

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Seven freshman Democrats: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect, Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan, Elaine Luria, Mikie Sherrill, Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger, Sept. 24, 2019 (print ed.). Our lives have been defined by national service. We are not career politicians. We are veterans of the military and of the nation’s defense and intelligence agencies. Our service is rooted in the defense of our country on the front lines of national security.

We have devoted our lives to the service and security of our country, and throughout our careers, we have sworn oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States many times over. Now, we join as a unified group to uphold that oath as we enter uncharted waters and face unprecedented allegations against President Trump....

If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.

Reps. Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia are all freshman Democrats.

Giuliani Defense, Attacks

Fox News, Giuliani: Democrats stepped into more than they realize, Sept. 24, 2019 (13:26 min. video). President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani reacts to Democrats' impeachment inquiry on 'The Ingraham Angle.' "I did it at the request of the State Department."

"Why am doing it? Because I'm his defense lawyer....The FBI didn't do their job."

The future president is shown at right with the corrupt Republican fixer Roy Cohn, Trump's one-time mentor, attorney and Manhattan nightlife companion djt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizbefore Cohn's 1986 death from AIDS.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, We’ve Reached the Breaking Point, David Frum, Sept. 24, 2019. The Ukraine scandal confirms that Trump knows he can act with impunity — and no one will stop him. In June, President Donald Trump was enjoying a rare respite from scandal. He had successfully squelched Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller had agreed to abide by Department of Justice guidance that the president could not be indicted for violating any criminal law. Since Mueller had also limited his examination of “collusion” to potential violations of criminal law, the Mueller investigation had marched itself into a dead end of predetermined futility.

Trump celebrated by granting a rare non-Fox News interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos asked him: What if another foreign government offered him dirt on an opponent in 2020? What would Trump do?

“I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” he said. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘We have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

And: “It’s not an interference. They have information — I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research. ‘Oh, let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

So don’t say you weren’t warned. Trump got away with it the first time. The lesson he learned was to try again.

David A. Graham: Trump has no shame

Back in the early days of the Trump presidency, Trump’s enablers wistfully suggested that he might grow into the job as he learned not to do corrupt things.

In June 2017, news broke that Trump had demanded FBI Director James Comey go easy on Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. “The president’s new at this,” then–House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the time. “He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”

Give him time, Ryan seemed to suggest, and Trump might stop acting like a criminal in office.

Trump drew a very different conclusion from the one to which Ryan had hoped to nudge him. He concluded: Nobody is going to stop me.

The breathtaking thing about Trump’s latest abuse is how many people knew about some, or all, of it as it happened. Vice President Mike Pence personally spoke to the Ukrainian president about the importance of “corruption”—which in Trump-speak means the importance of doing more of it, not less.

Sept. 23

More On Trump Ukraine Scandal

djt cpac 2017 gage skidmore

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ordered hold on military aid days before calling Ukrainian president, officials say, Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 23, 2019. ​President Trump’s order to withhold aid to Ukraine a week before his July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky is likely to raise further questions about the exchange with Ukraine’s new leader and Trump's desire to see Joe Biden’s son investigated.

mick mulvaney omb SmallPresident Trump (shown above in a Gage Skidmore photo) told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, right, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials.

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had “concerns” and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump denies explicitly tying U.S. aid to demand for Ukrainian probe of Biden and his family, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Sept. 23, 2019.  President Trump insisted that he “put no pressure on them whatsoever,” as public scrutiny continued to mount on a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump turns U.N. into backdrop for attacks on Biden, Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, Sept. 23, 2019. President Trump insisted that he “put no pressure on them whatsoever,” as public scrutiny continued to mount on a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president. President Trump used his meetings with heads of state at the United Nations to flay Joe Biden, celebrate his personal attorney’s altercations and tend to his media feuds.

djt nancy pelosi

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi quietly sounding out House Democrats about whether to impeach Trump, officials say, Sept. 23, 2019. President Trump insisted that he “put no pressure on them whatsoever,” as public scrutiny continued to mount on a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

Climate Change

National Public Radio, 'This Is All Wrong,' Greta Thunberg Tells World Leaders At U.N. Climate Session, Bill Chappell, Sept. 23, 2019. Greta Thunberg (shown above in a four-minute video via Reuters and The Guardian) has a message for world npr logoleaders at the United Nations this week: "We'll be watching you." Speaking at the Climate Action Summit in New York, Thunberg added, "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean."

But instead, Thunberg, 16, is trying to convince politicians to take climate change seriously, and to do something to stop a global warming trend that will affect the world's children more than it affects anyone who's currently in power.

In an impassioned speech, Thunberg told those who hold office, "you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing."

Saying that the world is now in the early stages of a mass extinction, Thunberg criticized those who still speak of the crisis in terms of money and economic growth.
"How dare you?" she asked again, growing increasingly emotional as the audience cheered at the 2019 Climate Action Summit.

Citing more than 30 years' worth of scientific studies and warnings that greenhouse gases and other factors were establishing a dangerous new environmental trend, Thunberg criticized politicians for not developing solutions and strategies to confront that threat.

More On Trump Ukraine Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘We’ve been very weak’: House Democrats decry their oversight of Trump, push Pelosi on impeachment, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.) Democrats’ frustration with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unwillingness to impeach President Trump is reaching a fever pitch following reports that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival — a step the California Democrat declined to endorse Sunday.

democratic donkey logoAn increasingly vocal group of pro-impeachment House Democrats are starting to dismiss their own oversight of Trump as feckless, even accusing their colleagues of emboldening the president by refusing to stand up to what they see as lawless behavior.

alexandria ocasio cortezAt the very least, these Democrats say, the House should be taking more aggressive action to break the unprecedented White House stonewalling, possibly even fining defiant Trump officials, an idea Pelosi dismissed this year.

“At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behavior — it is the Democratic Party’s refusal to impeach him for it,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), left, a longtime impeachment backer, tweeted late Saturday night. “It is one thing for a sitting president to break the law. It’s another to let him. . . . The GOP’s silence & refusal to act shouldn’t be a surprise. Ours is.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Admits He Spoke to Ukraine About Biden; Pressure to Impeach Builds, Nicholas Fandos, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Reactions to President Trump calling on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden suggested some Democrats might change their calculations on impeachment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi leveled a warning of her own: Turn over the secret whistle-blower complaint, or face a serious escalation from Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We’re taking baby steps toward an accurate impeachment debate, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 23, 2019. During special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s jennifer rubin new headshotinvestigation, the cry from Republicans was that there had been “no collusion.” Aside from the fact that collusion is not a crime (conspiracy is the crime), they meant there was no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump picked up the phone, called Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked him to have damaging emails against his opponent released. That sort of smoking gun did not exist, but at least they acknowledged that such conduct would be illegal and/or impeachable.

Now, there is replete evidence that President Trump called up the Ukrainian president and asked him to find damaging information, even if none existed according to every investigation already undertaken, on his opponent’s son. If the facts are as the Wall Street Journal reported, we have the smoking gun of collusion, conspiracy and a “high crime & misdemeanor.”

washington post logoWashington Post, The whistleblower complaint has Congress and Trump at an impasse. Here's what the law says, Deanna Paul, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration, Congress and the media are consumed by a whistleblower complaint lodged last month with the inspector general of the intelligence community.

adam schiff squareAlthough the whistleblower’s identity and substantive details of the complaint remain unknown, some specifics have begun taking shape. As The Washington Post reported last week, the report centered on several conversations involving President Trump and Ukraine, and a promise to a foreign leader so concerning that it drove a U.S. intelligence official to file the complaint.

In an unprecedented move, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire refused to share the complaint with congressional intelligence committees, even after receiving a subpoena, claiming that the law did not require him to do so. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, accused Maguire of violating the law.

Global News: Ukraine

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani accused me of exposing Paul Manafort’s Ukraine deals to help U.S. Democrats. That’s a lie, Serhiy Leshchenko, right, (Ukrainian journalist and political activist), below left), Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). On Aug. 19, 2016, I convened a news conference in Kiev at which I revealed previously secret records of serhiy leschenko wpayments made by the former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, right, to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Yanukovych fled the viktor yanukovychcountry in February 2014 after he was toppled by our Revolution of Dignity, a popular uprising on the streets of Kiev.)

The information came from the “black ledger of the Party of Regions,” which was obtained by an anonymous source in the burned-out ruins of the headquarters of Yanukoych’s party. Yanukovych had used the ledger to keep records of his illegal transactions.

At that time, although I was a member of parliament, I continued to combine that position with my journalistic work, which is allowed by the laws of Ukraine.

paul manafort mugNever in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Manafort revelations would become fodder for the U.S. elections in 2020. President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mouthpiece of this campaign, is not only attempting to rehabilitate Manafort (shown in a mug shot at right) but is also working to undermine U.S. relations with Ukraine, which has been confronting Russian aggression on its own for more than five years.

Sept. 22

Trump Scandal Watch

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine call points to a president convinced of his own invincibility, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Rachael Bade, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). When the July 24 congressional testimony of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III deflated the impeachment hopes of Democrats, President Trump crowed “no collusion” and claimed volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotvindication from accusations that he had conspired with Russia in the 2016 election.

Then, the very next day, Trump allegedly sought to collude with another foreign country in the coming election — pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (above right) to dig up djt rudy giuliani Customwhat he believed would be damaging information about one of his leading Democratic challengers, former vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the conversation.

The push by Trump and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above left with Trump), to influence the newly elected Ukrainian leader reveals a president convinced of his own invincibility — apparently willing and even eager to wield the vast powers of the United States to taint a political foe and confident that no one could hold him back.

• Analysis: Trump and the warping of democratic governance

ny times logoNew York Times, Claim That Trump Asked Ukraine for Election Help Roils 2020 Race, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). The claim that President Trump pressed Ukraine’s leader to investigate Joe Biden’s son has emerged as a flashpoint in the election. The controversy centers on whether Mr. Trump manipulated foreign policy to pressure Ukraine to take action to damage Mr. Biden’s election bid.

washington post logohunter bidenWashington Post, ‘A diplomatic disaster’: Ukrainian leaders feel trapped between warring Washington factions, Michael Birnbaum and David L. Stern, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Whether it gives in to President Trump or rejects his demand for an inquiry into Hunter Biden, right, Ukraine could jeopardize ties with its most important security backer.

Sept. 21

Trump Scandal Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump, Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate president’s rivals, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish and David L. Stern, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.).  New revelations about President Trump’s efforts to influence Ukraine are fueling questions about whether he used his office to try to force a foreign country to take actions to damage his political opponents.

• Trump pressed Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden’s son, people familiar with the matter say

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s freeze on Ukraine aid draws fresh attention, Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats question whether President Trump withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine’s new leader to investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s son.

• The Debrief: How Trump tries to quell controversies by saying the quiet part out loud

More U.S. Troops To Support Kingdom

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. to send more troops to Saudi Arabia after attacks on oil facilities, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne, Sept. 21, 201 (print ed.). Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper emphasized that the deployments were defensive in nature and in response to requests from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help protect “critical infrastructure.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Congress doesn’t have a lot of options to get this whistleblower complaint, Amber Phillips, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Very few people know the substance of the whistleblower complaint regarding President Trump, a “promise” to a foreign leader and Ukraine. Congress wants to know. According to protocol for these kinds of things, they should.

But that may never happen. Everything about this whistleblower complaint is so outside the procedural norms that there isn’t a recourse for Congress if the administration won’t follow the rules and hand the information over, says Molly Claflin, chief oversight counsel at American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, and a former Senate aide for Democrats.

First, the rules: When someone files a complaint with the inspector general for U.S. intelligence agencies, the inspector general determines whether it is credible and urgent. If it matches those descriptions, that person shares it with the corresponding intelligence committees in Congress.

But the inspector general in this case, Michael Atkinson, told Congress that his boss, Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, isn’t allowing him to share it with the intelligence committees.

That has Democrats in Congress concerned that people in the highest levels of government are trying to keep this secret to protect Trump.

Claflin said it’s unprecedented for the nation’s top intelligence official to prevent the intelligence community’s watchdog from alerting Congress about what he deems an “urgent” and credible complaint. It’s unprecedented for the complaint to be about the president and for the potential retaliation to come from the president or people within his orbit. There just aren’t rules for how Congress can deal with this.

“Whistleblower rules are not set up this way,” Claflin said. “The idea of whistleblower protection rules is that the agency wants to do the right thing, and there may be a middleman bad actor who is causing problems for employees down the line. But we are dealing with the pinnacle of the U.S. government, the president is the potential retaliator in question here. And that’s a real problem, and I don’t think the laws go anywhere close to being able to deal with that.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders President Trump to testify in 2015 lawsuit, Colby Itkowitz and Rosalind Helderman, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). A New York City judge ordered that President Trump give testimony in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were assaulted by Trump’s security during the 2016 campaign. In a court filing Friday, the judge ordered that Trump sit for a videotaped deposition and provide testimony that can be used at trial in the case.

Supreme Court Judge Doris M. Gonzalez of the Bronx wrote that Trump’s testimony is “indispensable” to the case, in which the men are arguing that the Trump Organization and Trump himself should be held liable for the actions of security guards who were working for the company.

The underlying lawsuit was brought in 2015 by a group of men who alleged that they were roughed up by security guards working for Trump while protesting the then-presidential candidate’s views on immigration on a public sidewalk outside Trump Tower in New York.

Sept. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Whistleblower complaint about Trump involves Ukraine, say people familiar with the matter, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that President Trump made. Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

• Washington Post, Giuliani admits to asking Ukraine about Joe Biden after denying it 30 seconds earlier

washington post logoWashington Post, For border wall, officials consider diverting billions more in military funds, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Internal projections show that the president’s goal of completing nearly 500 miles of new barriers by the 2020 election will require $18.4 billion, far more than the administration has publicly disclosed.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Roy Cohn Is How We Got Trump, Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 20, 2019. From McCarthyism to the mob to Trump, Cohn enabled evil. Why did elites embrace him?

djt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizNear the beginning of “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” the new documentary about the lawyer and power broker who mentored Donald Trump, an interviewee says, “Roy Cohn’s contempt for people, his contempt for the law, was so evident on his face that if you were in his presence, you knew you were in the presence of evil.” He wasn’t being hyperbolic.

The film, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, will likely be of wide interest because of how Cohn [shown at left with the future president in a photo by Sonia Moskowitz via Altimeter Films] helps explain Trump. In the attorney’s life, you can see the strange ease with which a sybaritic con man fit in with crusading social reactionaries. You see the glee Cohn derived from being an exception to the rules he enforced on weaker people.

From him, Trump learned how, when he was in trouble, to change the subject by acting outrageously, to never apologize and always stay on the offense. When the Justice Department claimed that apartment buildings owned by the Trump family were discriminating against black renters, it was Cohn’s idea to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million.

Sept. 17

C-SPAN 3, U.S. House Judiciary Counsel Berke questions Lewandowski, Sept. 17, 2019 (43:05 min. video). White-collar criminal defense attorney Barry Berke questions former Trump 2016 Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski as a member of the House Judiciary staff.

Palmer Report, Opinion: GOP Congressman Doug Collins completely screws up and has to bail on Corey Lewandowski hearing, Bill Palmer, Sept. 17, 2019. At the end of Corey Lewandowski’s House Judiciary Committee testimony today, the House Democrats trotted out a professional outside counsel to grill Lewandowsk, shown below with Trump, on his lies and conflicting statements. This didn’t come as a surprise; the Democrats said in advance that they’d be doing this. The thing is, the House Republicans ended up being too clever by half, and got caught with their pants down.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins objected to Chairman Jerry Nadler’s use of a professional counsel, because he was technically a consultant and not a “staff” member, as the rules had specified. But Nadler and the Democrats simply overruled him, because that’s how majorities work. Once the outside counsel was done decimating Lewandowski, it was time for the House Republicans to bring out their own staff member to question him.

djt corey lewandowskiThat’s when Doug Collins announced that he was going to be the staff member who would question Lewandowski. Collins seemed almost overjoyed at having pulled off such a stunt – until a few seconds later when Jerry Nadler pointed out that Collins was not a member of his own staff. Collins seemed stunned, and said he needed a minute to discuss things. Nadler granted him a one minute break, and when Collins returned, he stated that he was simply giving up, and that the hearing would end.

How could the House Republicans not have seen this coming? The House Democrats were obviously going to bring out a professional to handle their staff questioning, not a staffer from the mail room. And the Democratic majority was never going to allow Republican Congressman Doug Collins to pretend he was a member of his own staff. The House GOP got caught with its pants

Sept. 16

ny times logoNew York Times, 8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A., William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Sept. 16, 2019. Investigators demanded President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.

The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election.

Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair.

Sept. 15

Sept. 15

Trump Scandal Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Donald Trump ousted Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Bill Palmer, Sept. 15, 2019. About six weeks ago, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere that he was ousting his own handpicked Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats (shown at right with the president in file photos). Shortly thereafter, Coats’ Deputy, Sue djt dan coats CustomGordon, also headed for the exits. Trump made a point of trying to install one of his loyalists in the position, and when that failed, he simply left it empty. The whole thing made very little sense at the time. Suddenly it’s a very different story.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, below right, has subpoenaed a whistleblower complaint, which the Department of Justice has buried, which apparently exposes how Donald Trump or someone close to him leaked key classified information. Schiff is treating this like it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to taking Trump down. What’s fascinating is that Schiff is subpoenaing the report from the Director of National Intelligence – bill palmer report logo headerand of course we con’t currently have one of those.

The subpoena has been sent to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, which means it’s not going to be voluntarily complied with, and Schiff will have to go to court and have a judge order the Acting DNI to cough it up. If a comparatively forthright person like Dan Coats or Sue Gordon were still DNI, we can imagine this subpoena might have played out differently.

adam schiff squareIt helps explain – at least in general terms – why Donald Trump went from essentially ignoring the Director of National Intelligence position for the first two and a half years of his presidency, to suddenly treating it like it was a matter of crucial importance. He and Bill Barr must have known that House Democrats would eventually get word of this whistleblower complaint, and try to get it from the DNI. So now we have no DNI. Funny how that works.

Sept. 14

Daily Sound & Fury, Opinion: Schiff Demands Copy of Withheld Whistleblower Complaint Involving Trump and Nat. Intel., Jason Miciak, Sept. 14, 2019. Adam Schiff wrote his strongest demand as judiciary committee majority leader, yesterday, in response to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) ODNI’s decision to withhold a whistleblower complaint already deemed “credible” and of “urgent concern,” according to the ODNI’s own Inspector General.

Under the current operative statute, the “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph McGuire, must forward to congress all complaints affirmed by the inspector general’s office as credible and urgent.. No exceptions.

adam schiff squareNot only has the DNI not passed the complaint to Congress, it has informed Schiff, right, that it will not be forwarding the complaint, despite the clear law and clear past practices. It is difficult to appreciate the DNI’s brazen attitude without reading Schiff’s words in the follow-up subpoena issued yesterday:

“Even though the disclosure was made by an individual within the Intelligence Community through lawful channels, you have improperly withheld that disclosure on the basis that, in your view, the complaint concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community and because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications."

That high-pitched whistle you hear is the last bit of our democracy’s oxygen slipping out into the dictatorial vacuum.

Under the law, the director has no role here. Once he receives the complaint from his Inspector General, he must pass the complaint to Congress. All other concerns, privileges, third parties, are dealt with by the Inspector General and Congress itself.

Schiff knows exactly what is going on: “The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials. This raises grave concerns that your office, together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible “serious or flagrant” misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law."

Director McGuire is subpoenaed to appear before the committee on Thursday to explain himself. That ought to be must-see TV, except we have come to expect that he will simply ignore the subpoena. That is what they do

They are attempting to run out the clock. The Republicans must somehow try to drag Trump over the finish line in 2020, and then declare that the election vitiated any concern about “law breaking” since the public just re-elected Trump.

I am not at all sure about Pelosi’s actual endgame here, whether she is simply playing dead because she knows she wants this really heating up late this year and into next, or whether she’s just terrified of her own shadow, like all too many Democrats since Reagan.

I do know this. I know that Adam Schiff knows exactly what is in that complaint. He knows it exists, after all, and that alone tells us that he “knows” what is being withheld. He has been tipped-off. And Schiff, the person who “knows” what is going on, has put pen to paper and said he must conclude it involves covering-up something that both involves Trump and relates to something the committee is already investigating. He knows he is being played and he is putting Barr and the White House on notice.

Sept. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court revives lawsuit saying Trump is violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments, David A. Fahrenthold, Sept. 13, 2019. A federal appeals court on Friday revived a previously-dismissed lawsuit against President Trump, which alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by engaging in business transactions with foreign governments.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that a lower-court judge had improperly thrown out the lawsuit in December 2017. Now, plaintiffs are hoping this victory will allow them to seek detailed records on Trump’s transactions with foreign officials.

But, if Trump appeals, as is expected, the case could go to the full 2nd Circuit — and after that, to the Supreme Court.

This suit was the first of three major lawsuits alleging Trump violated the emoluments clause.

In this case, the plaintiffs were Trump’s business competitors: a hotel operator and a group of restaurants and restaurant workers, who say Trump is using the presidency to give his businesses a competitive advantage. Along with hotel rooms and steaks, they say, he can sell something they cannot: access to power, and a chance to please the president.

In 2017, a District Court judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not proved Trump had actually taken any business away from them. He threw the case out. In Friday’s ruling, the two appeals court judges — both appointed by Democratic presidents — brought it back. They said it was not necessary to identify a specific customer that Trump had lured away. At least, not at this early stage of the lawsuit.

“The district court effectively required plaintiffs to prove, pre-discovery, the facts necessary to win at trial,” judges Pierre N. Leval and Christopher F. Droney wrote. They said that the businesses had plausibly sketched out how they might be affected — and that was enough to continue to the fact-gathering stage of the case.

Judge John M. Walker, an appointee of President Reagan, dissented and said the case should be thrown out.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump gives disastrous speech in Baltimore and comes off like what little was left of his brain has completely melted, Bill Palmer, Sept. 12, 2019. Yesterday Donald Trump gave a speech in Baltimore, a city where he’s widely hated for good reason, and his speech was perhaps the best argument yet for why his people might no longer want him appearing in public. Yes, Trump referred to Mike Pence as “Mike Pounce.” Okay fine, everyone gets tongue tied sometime. But Trump spent the entire speech failing to form words.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump sounded so messed up during his speech, it made his infamous “United Shesh” moment seem tame in comparison. The guy slurred his way through the speech so badly, it’s as if he needed to stop and buy a vowel. He came off as a guy whose brain is no longer properly functioning.

Yes, Donald Trump gave a rally speech in North Carolina the other night (after his handlers canceled his other North Carolina appearance of the day), and sure, he sounded pretty much like the usual Trump during that speech. So it’s not as if Trump now sounds like a his brain has melted every time he opens his mouth. But something is very wrong here. If Trump’s people are trying to hide him for good reason, they won’t be able to keep it up forever.

Sept. 12

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. authorized prosecutors to charge Andrew McCabe, Matt Zapotosky and Spencer S. Hsu​, Sept. 12, 2019. The FBI’s former acting director (shown above in a file photo) was told last month that prosecutors had recommended charging him with lying to investigators.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s legal team has been notified that the Justice Department authorized prosecutors to seek an indictment against him for lying to investigators, according to two people familiar with the matter, though it remains unclear whether McCabe will be charged.

McCabe’s team was notified of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s decision in a message Wednesday, which said, “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office,” one person familiar with the matter said.

McCabe’s team was told last month that line prosecutors had recommended charges, and later, that D.C. U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu had endorsed that decision, a person familiar with the matter said. Last month, McCabe’s team had appealed to Rosen in what was considered one of the final efforts to persuade officials not to move forward and seek an indictment from a grand jury. The legal team had been waiting to hear back.

The notification comes as a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus — an indication its members would likely be asked soon to consider bringing charges. But the panel was let go Thursday with no immediate signs of an indictment — a sign they might have balked, been asked to return later or filed a determination under seal.

To bring an indictment, prosecutors would have to convince 12 of the 23 grand jurors to sign onto the decision. If grand jurors turn them down, it is possible for prosecutors to call in a new group, though they would then have to start the process over.

The decision, whenever it is made clear, is likely to inflame partisan divisions and once again thrust the Justice Department to the center of a political combat zone. McCabe authorized the FBI to begin investigating President Trump and has long been a target of the commander in chief’s ire. His defenders are likely to view any charges against him as the most sinister form of Trump’s revenge. ·​

Sept. 9

Trump Probes

jerry nadler close up committee unsourced Custom

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), shown in a file photo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers plan to examine claims that the president dangled pardons to aides and that his resorts illegally profited from government business.

House Democrats return to Washington this week poised to significantly broaden their nascent impeachment inquiry into President Trump beyond the findings of the Russia investigation, but they will confront a fast-dwindling political clock.

Undeterred by lackluster public support for impeachment, Democratic lawmakers and aides have sketched out a robust four-month itinerary of hearings and court arguments that they hope will provide the evidence they need to credibly portray Mr. Trump as corrupt and abusing his power.

Beyond the president’s efforts to impede the special counsel’s investigation, Democrats also plan to scrutinize his role in hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with him and reports that he dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies. Democrats also demanded documents last week related to whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business.

Hurricane Fallout

djt alabama dorian chart

ny times logoNew York Times, Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say, Christopher Flavelle, Lisa Friedman and Peter Baker, Sept. 9, 2019. The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim (shown above) that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

wilbur rossThe actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., right, are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

Sept. 8

djt boris johnson

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson Finds His Party Loyalists Aren’t as Loyal as Trump’s, Mark Landler, Sept. 8, 2019. However distasteful Republicans may find President Trump, they largely back his agenda. In Britain, rebels in the Conservative Party have staged a dramatic insurrection.

The Tory party’s revolt against Mr. Johnson (at left above), and his ruthless purging of the rebels, are reverberating through British politics, threatening his hold on power. For dispirited Republicans, though, this British revolution has become an object lesson in how a center-right party can stand up to a wayward leader.

Sept. 7

House Oversight Of Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel is probing U.S. military use of Trump-owned property in Scotland, Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 7, 2019. The House Oversight Committee is investigating why a financially struggling airport near a Trump-owned golf course in Scotland has seen an uptick in expenditures by the U.S. military since President Trump took office.

elijah cummings headshotChairman Elijah E. Cummings, left, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, both Maryland Democrats, sent a letter to the Defense Department’s acting secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, in June asking for all travel information pertaining to Pentagon personnel through the Glasgow Prestwick Airport, as well as visits to the Trump Turnberry golf resort.

In the letter, Cummings and Raskin say that the airport “reportedly has provided ‘cut-price rooms for select passengers and crew’ and ‘offered free rounds at Turnberry to visiting U.S. military and civilian air crews.’ ”

Trump purchased the cash-strapped golf course on the west coast of Scotland in 2014 and has never turned a profit on his investment. In the years after his purchase, Trump advocated bringing more flights through Prestwick Airport, which would benefit his property just 30 miles away.

Politico, which first reported the Oversight investigation, described one Air National Guard trip to Kuwait in which the crew stopped at Trump’s Turnberry property on the way there and back. Typically, crews refuel in locations where there are U.S. military bases.

jerry nadler close up committee unsourced Custom

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), shown in a file photo.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump’s impeachment was coming, Bill Palmer, Sept. 7, 2019. Each time Palmer Report has pointed to the mounting evidence that Donald Trump is going to be impeached, the naysayers have insisted that it’s all just a fantasy. They’ve cited Nancy Pelosi’s statement that impeachment is off the table (even though Pelosi never said this). They’ve insisted it’ll never happen because the Republican Senate won’t remove him anyway.

bill palmer report logo headerThe thing is, none of that matters. It’s the impeachment process that matters. House Democrats can use nationally televised hearings to expose every last bit of Trump’s corruption, crimes, scandals, deranged behavior, and mental unfitness. Television has an impact on popular opinion that no other medium does, and no one knows that better than reality show clown Donald Trump. These hearings are going to happen, for reasons that are obvious. They haven’t happened yet, which has fueled the rhetoric of the naysayers who insist it’ll never happen. But there’s a reason it hasn’t happened yet, and we just saw big news on that front.

House Democrats have been fighting court battles over the evidence and testimony necessary to put on the kind of compelling televised impeachment hearings that’ll have a major impact. But they don’t have to win all of these battles; just some of them. Once they’ve secured enough evidence and testimony in the court of law to win in the court of public opinion, they’ll move forward. That’s why it’s such a big deal that they’re now moving forward.

Yesterday, the news broke that the House Judiciary Committee is holding a vote this week to formalize its impeachment inquiry. This vote is a formality. The Democrats will vote yes, the Republicans will vote no, and it’ll pass. What matters here is that the Democrats have gone ahead and scheduled the vote. It means they think they’re close enough to having their hands on the necessary evidence and testimony, that they’re now ready to officially settle on their opening round of impeachment hearing topics.

Sept. 6

Decrees From DCDonald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Plans to Drop Presidential Primaries in 4 States to Impede Trump Challengers, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 6, 2019. The Republican Parties in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina intend to cancel the 2020 presidential primaries in their states, according to three people familiar with their plans, a move aimed at depriving President Trump’s long-shot challengers of chances to build support.

rnc logoThe state parties have not formalized their decisions, but Mr. Trump’s challengers denounced the move. Joe Walsh, right, a former Tea Party congressman from Illinois who announced his candidacy last month, said he planned to fight the move legally and by appealing directly to voters in those states.

joe walsh“It’s something a mob boss would do,” Mr. Walsh said in an interview. “All the times in 2016 when he said the Democrats were rigging the system to elect Hillary? He is actually eliminating elections in certain states, and that’s undemocratic.”

William F. Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who is also challenging Mr. Trump for the party’s nomination, said he found the move concerning but not surprising. “Mr. Trump has not been bashful about his desire to avoid primaries or even elections,” Mr. Weld said. “He spoke admiringly of Xi Jinping getting rid of elections and talks about a third term for himself, which he has to know is not lawful. This is something that would be appropriate in a monarchy.”

Other states could follow suit before the Oct. 1 deadline for state parties to file delegate selection plans with the Republican National Committee, campaign officials said. States that do not hold primaries still choose delegates, often by holding a convention. The plans to cancel primaries were first reported on Friday by Politico.

washington post logoJustice Department log circularWashington Post, Justice Dept. launches antitrust probe of automakers over their fuel efficiency deal with California, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson​, Sept. 6, 2019.​ The Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation of four leading automakers over an agreement they forged with the state of California to maintain higher fuel efficiency standards than those sought by the Trump administration, raising questions of whether the department is being politicized to impose the president’s policies.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department notified California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols that the state’s deal with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America on future mileage targets “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice brings its weight to bear against auto companies in an attempt to frighten them out of voluntarily making cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks than EPA wants,” Nichols said in a statement. “Consumers might ask, who is [EPA administrator] Andy Wheeler protecting?”


pentagon dc skyline dod photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Defense secretary urges allies to ‘pick up the tab’ on Pentagon projects defunded for Trump’s border wall, Paul Sonne, Sept. 6, 2019.​ Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said European nations can fill the funding gap if they’re worried about the loss of $770 million for construction projects designed to help U.S. allies mark esperdefend themselves against Russia.

Department of Defense SealMore than $770 million worth of defunded projects are for the European Deterrence Initiative and its predecessor program, which President Barack Obama launched in 2014 to shore up the defenses of European allies after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

The affected initiatives include a plan to build a facility for Special Operations forces and their training in Estonia, projects to construct ammunition and fuel storage facilities and staging areas in Poland, and planned upgrades to surveillance aircraft facilities in Italy, as well as airfield and fuel storage upgrades in Slovakia and Hungary.

Rise of Autocrats

Future of Freedom Foundation, Analysis: The Hitler Phenomenon, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 6, 2019. At the very beginning of this article, let me first state that I am jacob hornberger newnot saying that Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler. Then why am I bringing it up? Because everyone agrees that when it comes to the subject of dictatorship, Hitler provides the gold standard. He is the model dictator in everyone’s books. Therefore, we can safely use him as a measuring rod for danger signs with respect to dictatorship here in the United States, not only with respect to the Trump presidency but also to other presidencies, both Democratic and Republican.

Hitler’s extermination program and death camps didn’t get established until the midst of World War II, which began in 1939. Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933. That means that there were six years of Hitler rule before the outbreak of the war. The era I wish to explore is 1933-1939, the period before the war. Specifically, how did Hitler become a dictator? After all, we shouldn’t forget that when Hitler became chancellor, Germany was a democracy, something that has been a longtime goal of U.S. foreign policy.

adolf hitlerIn my article yesterday, entitled Opinion: The Trumpster Phenomenon, I pointed out that there is a large segment of conservatives who unconditionally support whatever Trump does. Their reason? They see him as a Great Leader, one who is just trying to make America great again. Therefore, the Trumpsters say, he should be given the widest authority to do what he thinks is best for America and for “national security.” Nothing, and certainly not Congress or the courts, should be permitted to stand in his way.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoI would be remiss if I failed to mention that conservatives are not the only ones who suffer from the Great Leader concept. So do liberals/progressives, specifically when their Great Leader is president. Consider Barack Obama, for example.

Today, liberals are shedding lots of crocodile tears over the harsh immigration enforcement measures that Trump is inflicting on illegal immigrants. Yet, when it was Barack Obama who was deporting so many illegal immigrants that he earned the moniker “Deporter in Chief,” there was a dearth of crocodile tears and not even the hint of criticism from the left. That’s because they viewed Obama as their Great Leader, one who should be given wide authority to do what he felt was best for America.

Watch a particular segment of the movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. The movie is the story of the White Rose, a group of German students of diverse religious beliefs at the University of Munich who were secretly distributing pamphlets containing essays critical of the Hitler regime. They were caught and put on trial before the People’s Court, the special tribunal system that Hitler put into place because he didn’t trust the German court system to deliver the “right” verdict in terrorism and treason cases.

If you haven’t seen the entire movie, I recommend it highly. But in the meantime, begin at 1:31:07. It is about 3 minutes long. It is the courtroom scene in which the presiding judge, Roland Freisler, questions Sophie Scholl. Notice the extreme rage displayed by Freisler over Scholl’s “treasonous” behavior. (Notice also how her scared attorney does nothing to defend her.) Freisler provides a perfect example of the Great Leader mindset.

Americans should reflect on all this when they see Donald Trump arbitrarily raising taxes on the American people or building walls or other public-works projects without congressional enactment. The end of that road is the destruction of liberty.

 Sept. 5

Trump's Wall Finance Ploy

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon takes money from Puerto Rico, European projects to fund Trump’s wall, Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The Pentagon is defunding Hurricane Maria recovery projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to pay for President Trump’s border barrier and is also taking money from construction projects across Europe designed to help allies deter Russia.

The details of the 127 military construction projects that stand to lose funding to free up $3.6 billion for fencing and barriers on the southern border with Mexico were made public late Wednesday by the Defense Department. The list features projects in 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries.

The decisions deal a particular blow to Puerto Rico, which stands to see more than $400 million worth of planned projects lose funding. Roughly $770 million of the money will be taken from projects in allied European nations aimed at helping them deter a possible attack from Russia.

Officially, the Pentagon is saying the affected projects are “deferred,” but in order for them to go ahead in the future, Congress must again fund them. The Republican-led Senate has agreed to do so in its annual defense policy bill, but the Democratic-led House refused in its version of the bill. The two sides will negotiate a possible compromise in conference, the period when the Senate and House make trades to meld two bills into one before seeking the president’s signature.

Sept. 5

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Trumpster Phenomenon, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 5, 2019. One of the fascinating aspects of the Donald Trump jacob hornberger newpresidency has been the rise of the Trumpster phenomenon. Trumpsters are conservatives who have become steadfast and unwavering followers and supporters of Trump.

There are two distinguishing characteristics of Trumpsters: (1) their unconditional support of whatever Trump decides to do to “make America great again”; and (2) their refusal to tolerate or countenance any criticism or disagreement with Trump’s courses of action.

What drives Trumpsters is what can be called the Great Leader concept. Their mindset is that we have elected a Great Leader to be president and, therefore, to make America great again, we just have to entrust him with omnipotent powers, trust him to make the right decisions, and support him in whatever courses of action he takes.

donald trump twitterAnd woe to the person who even hints at criticism or disagreement with what the Great Leader has chosen to do. Filled with immediate rage, the Trumpster will lash out against the critic with an array of nasty attacks, for example by accusing him of hating America, being unpatriotic, being a liar, and being ungrateful for what America has done for him.

For example, consider Trump’s unilateral imposition of tariffs (taxes) on the American people and his arbitrary raising of such taxes whenever he wants. That’s classic dictatorial conduct, given that Congress didn’t enact a law imposing or raising such taxes.

djt justice liberty truth metooTrumpsters love it. In their minds, the Great Leader is doing what he believes is necessary to make America great again. So what if he has to exercise dictatorial powers to do so.

Needless to say, this is how people throughout history have lost their liberties to Great Leaders. That’s in fact what the Constitution was intended to prevent. The Framers had no use for the Great Leader concept. Their notion was to limit severely the powers of anyone who became president.

In fact, notice that the Constitution doesn’t even provide an exception for emergencies and crises. That’s because they knew that crises and emergencies were the time-honored ways that Great Leaders acquired dictatorial powers.

Sept. 4

Doctored Weather Chart?

washington post logoWashington Post, President Trump showed a doctored hurricane chart. Was it to cover up for ‘Alabama’ Twitter flub? Matthew Cappucci and Andrew Freedman, Sept. 4, 2019. Trump had erroneously stated that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

 

August

Aug. 31

Inside Trump World

washington post logoDonald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Washington Post, Trump pledged not to use his office to help his business. Then he pitched his club for the next G-7, Jonathan O'Connell, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold​, Aug. 31, 2019. Mixing business with government is a line "that we would never cross,” his son said in 2017. But the president has routinely crossed that line, most notably when he said he may award next year’s Group of Seven summit to his company’s Doral, Fla., golf resort — a plan that would direct millions to benefit his own business.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bolton sidelined in Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump falters, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 31, 2019 (print ed.). The national security adviser’s absence on the issue has raised questions about his influence.

The sidelining of John Bolton has raised questions about his influence in an administration that is seeking a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as an ambitious nuclear deal with North Korea and potential engagement with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Bolton, U.S. officials said, stands in opposition to those efforts, but he does so increasingly from the periphery.

• Taliban attacks key Afghan city as talks with U.S. continue

Aug. 29

Justice Probe Of Comey Memos

james comey fbi recent photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Comey violated policies in handling memos on interactions with Trump, inspector general finds, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 29, 2019. The former FBI director (shown above in a file photo) was found to have broken the bureau’s rules, but prosecutors declined to pursue a criminal case.

FBI logoFormer FBI Director James B. Comey violated FBI policies in how he handled memos that detailed his controversial interactions with President Trump, setting a “dangerous example” for bureau employees about substituting personal righteousness for established rules, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog found in a report released Thursday.

The inspector general criticized Comey for keeping the government documents at his home, engineering the release of some of their contents to the news media and not telling the bureau to whom he had given them — even after he was aware some contained classified information.

michael horowitz CustomThe report is the second time Inspector General Michael Horowitz, left, has criticized Comey for how he handled FBI business during his abbreviated tenure in charge of the bureau. Last summer, Horowitz lambasted Comey for his leadership of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, accusing him of insubordination and flouting Justice Department policies in deciding only he had the authority and credibility to make key decisions on the case and speak about it publicly.

Comey told investigators he felt the memos were personal, and that he was acting in the best interests of the country. But the inspector general rejected that defense, writing that Comey’s senior FBI leaders all agreed the memos were government documents, and that the former director’s “own, personal conception of James Comeywhat was necessary was not an appropriate basis for ignoring the policies and agreements governing the use of FBI records.”

On Twitter, Comey, right, noted that the inspector general found “no evidence” that he or his attorneys released any classified information to the media.

“I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a ‘sorry we lied about you’ would be nice,” he wrote. “And to all those who’ve spent two years talking about me ‘going to jail’ or being a ‘liar and a leaker’—ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The DOJ’s inspector general buries the real news, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 29, 2019. With William P. Barr as President Trump’s attorney general, one jennifer rubin new headshotmust always keep in mind that everything out of this Justice Department will be spun, shaded or, in the case of Robert S. Mueller III’s report, misrepresented with the sole purpose of exonerating Trump of any malfeasance and attacking his political opponents. Unfortunately, the media, as it did with Barr’s letter and Justice Department log circularnews conference about the Mueller report, too often accepts the spin without examining the underlying documents.

That seems to be what is happening with the newly released inspector general’s report examining former FBI director James B. Comey’s release of memos documenting Trump’s attempt to secure his personal loyalty and to go easy on Trump’s fired ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn. At the time, Trump accused Comey of breaking the law.

He tweeted: “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” Trump’s minions in the right-wing media ran with it. The problem is that it was false.

Aug. 28

More On Trump, Bankers

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump Secrets Hiding Inside Deutsche Bank, David Enrich, Aug. 28, 2019. The president’s longtime lender has extensive documents related to Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances. Here’s what they could reveal.

Deutsche Bank’s disclosure on Tuesday that it has tax returns related to President Trump’s family or business set off a frenzy of speculation about what those materials might reveal.

deutsche bank logoBut a trove of other data and documents that his longtime lender is sitting on might prove more revelatory to investigators digging into Mr. Trump’s finances. That includes records of how Mr. Trump made his money, whom he has partnered with, the terms of his extensive borrowings and what transactions he has engaged in with Russians or other foreign nationals.

For nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank was the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to do business with Mr. Trump, who had a long record of defaulting on loans. The bank over the years collected reams of his personal and corporate information.

President Donald Trump officialTwo congressional committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for a vast array of records related to Mr. Trump — including any tax returns since 2010. The investigators are hoping the materials will shed light not only on the president’s finances but also on any links he has had to foreign governments and whether he or his companies were involved in any illegal activity, such as money laundering for people overseas.

After the two House committees subpoenaed the bank, Mr. Trump sued to block it from complying. The case is pending with a federal appeals court.

While Deutsche Bank has been lending to Mr. Trump since 1998, the most detailed information would cover the period since 2011, when the company’s private-banking division struck up a relationship with the future president and his family.

The Hill, Trump lawyer demands MSNBC retract report alleging banking ties to Russian oligarchs, Joe Concha, An attorney for President Trump on Wednesday demanded a retraction and apology following an MSNBC report alleging the president obtained loans from Deutsche Bank with Russian oligarchs as co-signers.

Charles Harder sent a letter to NBCUniversal saying the remarks made Tuesday night on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" were false and defamatory, according to a copy of the letter made public by Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi.

O'Donnell first shared his report during a handoff from his lead-in host, Rachel Maddow, who appeared surprised by his remarks.

deutsche bank logo“I may have some information, in this next hour, which would add a great deal to their understanding of that, if true, and I’ll be discussing it here,” O’Donnell said. "I stress ‘if true,’ because this is a single source who has told me that Deutsche Bank obtained tax returns."

"This single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that Donald Trump’s loan documents there show that he has co-signers. That’s how he was able to obtain those loans and that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs," he added.

“What? Really?” Maddow said.

"That would explain every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin," O'Donnell added. “I stress the ‘if true.'"

“The source close to Deutsche Bank said that the co-signers of Donald Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin,” the host later said. “If true, that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin’s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.”

O'Donnell, a staunch critic of the president, said later in the program that the story will "need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact."

Deutsche Bank said in a court filing Tuesday that it has tax returns relevant to House Democrats' subpoenas for financial records of Trump, his family and his businesses. The bank did not publicly identify whose returns it had.

The name or names of the individuals or entities whose tax returns are in Deutsche Bank's possession were redacted in the version of the document posted on the federal courts' public legal database.

The White House on Wednesday condemned the MSNBC report. “This is one of the reasons that a majority of Americans have lost trust in the media," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News media reporter Brian Flood. "Instead of applying ethics and standards to their reporting, journalists and left-wing outlets have weaponized the media, using it to attack and harass people with little to no regard for the truth."

Aug. 27

Explosive Trump Bank Records?

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msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Trump Bank Records Show Russian Oligarch Co-Signers: Report, Lawrence O'Donnell, Aug. 27, 2019. MSNBC "The Last Word" host Lawrence O'Donnell quoted an anonymous source "close to Deutsche Bank" on Aug. 27 as stating that Donald Trump's banking records undergoing litigation in New York City's federal court for potential release show: that he has paid "very little" income tax, as shown by the records, and that his massive loans provided to him by the bank show as co-signers Russian oligarchs close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

If true, said news commentators and authors David Cay Johnston and John Heilmann, the materials could be devastating to Trump politically. See related news and commentary below.

ny times logoNew York Times, Deutsche Bank said it had tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued this year to Mr. Trump and his family, David Enrich and Emily Flitter, Aug. 27, 2019. Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court on Tuesday that it was in possession of some tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued earlier this year to President Trump, his family and his businesses.

In a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the German lender wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form).”

deutsche bank logoAlthough the identities of the people or organizations were redacted in the publicly available document, current and former bank officials have said Deutsche Bank has portions of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns for multiple years as part of the reams of financial data it has collected over its two-decade relationship with him.

But a lawyer for the congressional committees said at last week’s hearing there was good reason to seek the documents.

The financial services committee, as part of an examination of money laundering in real estate, is looking at Mr. Trump’s finances to determine whether he helped Russians and other foreign buyers launder money through his properties, said the committees’ lawyer, Douglas Letter. He said the intelligence committee was trying to determine whether Mr. Trump’s financial dealings made him subject to foreign influence.

Deutsche Bank has long been Mr. Trump’s primary lender. For most years, it has only the first several pages of his tax returns, according to the current and former bank officials, but the bank possesses far more detailed financial data. That includes balance sheets, financial statements and documents detailing the organization of Mr. Trump’s web of businesses, the people said.

Congressional investigators believe those documents could be more helpful than the tax returns to understanding Mr. Trump’s web of businesses and sources of his money.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Deutsche Bank just dropped terrible news on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 27, 2019. For as long as House Democrats have been battling in court to get President Donald Trump officialtheir hands on Donald Trump’s financial records, Deutsche Bank has been caught in the middle of it all. It’s widely suspected that Russia has been using the bank to launder money to Trump for years. In addition, there have been reports that Deutsche Bank may have Trump’s tax returns.

Earlier this week, the courts ruled that Deutsche Bank must reveal whether or not it does indeed have Donald Trump’s tax returns. Just now, within the past few minutes, Deutsche went ahead and confirmed that it does have Trump’s tax returns, according to NY Times reporter Susanne Craig. The bank also confirmed that it has tax returns for one or more unnamed members of Trump’s “immediate family.” So why is this such a big deal?

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has control of the Treasury Department, which means that directly obtaining his tax returns was always going to be a long and grinding process that might never end up happening. But now that it turns out Deutsche Bank has Trump’s tax returns, House Democrats just have to get the courts to order Deutsche to turn them over. At that point Deutsche will likely do it, in order to avoid whatever financial or contempt penalties that courts might dish out.

deutsche bank logoIn other words, House Democrats have now essentially won this issue. If Deutsche Bank were going to lay down on the proverbial tracks for Donald Trump, it would have done so by refusing to acknowledge that it even has his tax returns. Now it’s just a matter of time before the courts – which do tend to move glacially on these things – give the order, and Deutsche turns them over.

There will be literally nothing Trump can do to stop this, because he doesn’t control the courts. It’s now probable that House Democrats will have Trump’s tax returns within months, and almost guaranteed that they’ll have them before the 2020 election.

Barr To Stuff Trump Christmas Stocking

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

Donald Trump meets Attorney General William Barr, right, as shown in a Justice Department photo in March 2019 shortly before Barr announced a misleading conclusion that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had clear Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, William Barr books Trump’s hotel for holiday party that could cost $30,000, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Aug. 27, 2019. Federal officials determined no ethics rules prohibit the attorney general from hosting the private event, a Justice Department official said. But critics questioned whether the move was intended as a show of loyalty.

Attorney General William P. Barr is planning a holiday treat for his boss. Last month, Barr booked President Trump’s D.C. hotel for a 200-person holiday party in December that is likely to deliver Trump’s business more than $30,000 in revenue.

Barr signed a contract, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, for a “Family Holiday Party” in the hotel’s Presidential Ballroom Dec. 8. The party will feature a buffet and a four-hour open bar for about 200 people.

Barr is paying for the event himself and chose the venue only after other hotels, including the Willard and the Mayflower, were booked, according to a Justice Department official. The official said the purpose of Barr’s party wasn’t to curry favor with the president.

Barr’s decision to book his boss’s hotel marks the latest collision between Trump’s administration and his business, which the president no longer operates but from which he still benefits financially.

Trump said Monday that he was likely to hold next year’s Group of Seven international summit at his golf resort in Doral, Fla. Already the federal government and GOP campaigns have spent at least $1.6 million at his properties since he entered office, according to a Post analysis, though the actual figure is likely to be higher because of the difficulty of obtaining up-to-date records.

Trump's Mental State

washington post logoWashington Post, 68 minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind, Josh Dawsey, Aug. 27, 2019. The president offered a range of false or dubious statements during a freewheeling news conference at the G-7 summit. For many minutes on Monday, President Trump stood on foreign soil at the close of the Group of Seven summit here and trashed his predecessor. He bragged about his personal properties from the presidential podium and suggested that he will hold next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral golf course in Florida, which has “incredible” conference rooms and “magnificent” bungalows.

g 7 logo france 2019And he defended both Vladi­mir Putin and Kim Jong Un, suggesting that the Russian strongman deserves an invite to future G-7 summits and that the North Korean dictator is an honorable man who will not let Trump down.

The U.S. president’s news conference here was presaged by an aide saying Trump would answer anything if the first two questions stayed on topic. Trump seemed more interested when the questions went off topic — and for 68 minutes in a seaside auditorium, he offered a lens into his un­or­tho­dox mind, a range of false or dubious statements, and the myriad ways he has changed the presidency in 31 months.

Epstein Victim Hearing

 jeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

  • Jeffery Epstein,  highlighted, with the Trumps and Ghislaine Maxwell, right (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Justice has never been served in this case’: Women who say Epstein abused them speak, to be heard, Renae Merle and Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 27, 2019. The hearing was intended for the court to consider a request to drop sex trafficking charges against the late Jeffrey Epstein. But a judge, Richard Berman, right, allowed the richard bermanwomen, who will not get the trial they sought.

One by one, the women stood at the front of a federal courtroom, fighting back tears as they described how Jeffrey Epstein coerced and abused them, and — to the end — avoided their efforts to bring him to justice.

The women would have preferred a trial. But because Epstein, a politically connected multimillionaire, killed himself in federal custody this month, authorities said, they got only this: a hearing, at which a judge weighed prosecutors’ request to drop the new sex-trafficking charges brought against the registered sex offender.

For the victims, there will be no final face-to-face confrontation with the man they say abused them. For Epstein, there will be no weighing of the evidence by his peers. Instead, those who say Epstein abused them shared their stories with each other and the world, and their frustration that the case had come to this.

courtney wild 14 epstein victimsCourtney Wild, left, who alleges Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14 years old, told the courtroom that the financier’s death in federal custody had “robbed myself and all of the other victims” of a chance to confront him in court.

“For that, he is a coward,” Wild said. “I feel very angry, sad. And justice has never been served in this case.”

Wild, who had spoken publicly in the past, was first to address the court, but she was followed by many.

There appear to have been several significant lapses at the jail where Epstein was being held, and Reid H. Weingarten, one of Epstein’s attorneys, asked Berman on Tuesday to conduct an independent inquiry into Epstein’s death. Prosecutors said that was not the point of Tuesday’s hearing.

Weingarten said Epstein’s defense team was “skeptical of the certitude of the medical examiner’s conclusion that this was suicide” and was frustrated to receive most information about the case from reporters.

“We ask your honor . . . to find out what happened to our client. We’re angry about the conditions he was held in,” Weingarten said. “We don’t know what happened. We deeply want to know what happened to our client.”

U.S. Politics / Economy

New York Times, Farmers’ Frustration With Trump Grows as U.S. Escalates China Fight, Alan Rappeport, Aug. 27, 2019. Sales of American agricultural products to China have dried up amid the trade war, a problem for President Trump as more farmers lose patience.

Peppered with complaints from farmers fed up with President Trump’s trade war, Sonny Perdue found his patience wearing thin. Mr. Perdue, the agriculture secretary and the guest of honor at the annual Farmfest gathering in southern Minnesota this month, tried to break the ice with a joke.

“What do you call two farmers in a basement?” Mr. Perdue asked near the end of a testy hourlong town-hall-style event. “A whine cellar.”

A cascade of boos ricocheted around the room. American farmers have become collateral damage in a trade war that Mr. Trump began to help manufacturers and other companies that he believes have been hurt by China’s “unfair” trade practices.

Losing the world’s most populous country as an export market has been a major blow to the agriculture industry. Total American agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014 and fell to $9.1 billion last year, according to the American Farm Bureau. Exports of farm products to China fell by $1.3 billion in the first half of the year, the agriculture group said this month.

A report from the Agriculture Department this month found that Canadian wheat exports to China have “rocketed” this year, while exports from the United States have plunged.

Trump Watch: Market Scams?

donald trump money Custom

Donald Trump (Palmer Report graphic)

Palmer Report, Analysis: The real reason Donald Trump keeps manipulating the stock market, Bill Palmer, Aug. 27, 2019. Early yesterday, Donald Trump sent the U.S. stock market on a wild ride when he announced that China had called him and sought to end their ongoing trade war. Investors hate the trade war, so they went on a buying frenzy at the prospect of it ending. Then later yesterday, China announced that no such phone calls had taken place. Stock market investors were duped into pushing the Dow Jones up a couple hundred points based on, for lack of a better term, fake news.

bill palmer report logo headerThrough his tariffs, his tweets, and now his lies about phone calls, Donald Trump keeps sending the stock market up and down in chaotic fashion. This has led to a popular debate about whether he’s doing it on purpose, so he can keep buying low and selling high. Even Andrew Gillum, the respected recent candidate for Governor of Florida, is now asking the question. This wouldn’t be the first (or the tenth) instance of Trump abusing the presidency in order to line his own pocket, but there’s more to it.

Trump is too debt-ridden and cash-poor to have anything to invest in the stock market himself, and we know that no one is willing to loan him money anymore. For that matter, his antics consistently come across as the actions an erratic guy who’s desperate to prove that he’s smarter than his fellow world leaders, better at economics than his President Donald Trump officialpredecessor, and inclined to blow off steam each time things go further south for him. If Trump were trying to make the market go up and down in strategically, he could do it much more effectively while being far less obvious about it.

There is nothing that suggests that Donald Trump is doing any of these things because he’s trying to manipulate the market for his own personal gain. There is, however, another possibility. What if someone who has Trump’s ear, and who is invested in the stock market, has been steering an unwitting Trump into taking erratic action at just the right times?

Keep in mind that Donald Trump barely seems to know what he’s saying or doing lately. The notion of him as master manipulator just doesn’t hold water – at least not these days. Given what we’re seeing play out, if the market is being manipulated, the most logical explanation would be that someone in Trump’s orbit is goading him into these absurd tariffs and rabid tweets. Either that, or we’re seeing Trump erratically go off the deep end without rhyme or reason, manipulating the stock market at random because he’s just that mentally incompetent, and we’re all trying too hard to find a logical explanation when there simply isn’t one.

Aug. 26

Trumpism = Fascism?

djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: The 21 signs of fascism. 20 can be checked off under Trump, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 26, 2019 (subscription required). In 2000, this editor had the pleasure of spending several hours in a Venetian courtyard talking with Umberto Eco, the famed Italian author and philosopher.....In 1995, Eco had written an article for The New York Review of Books titled “Ur-fascism.” Borrowing from his experiences living in Fascist Italy, Eco breaks down the fundamental aspects of fascism in the article:....

 

Aug. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s company could save millions if interest rates fall as he demands, Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Heather Long​, Aug. 24, 2019. The Trump Organization could see large savings in payments it is making on roughly $345 million in loans, according to public filings and financial experts. 

Epstein Scandal Probes

jeffrey epstein virgin islands doj undated

nbc news logoNBC News, Jeffrey Epstein was taken off suicide watch by high-level psychologist, Pete Williams and Minyvonne Burke, Aug. 24, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire financier who died by suicide while in federal jail on sex-trafficking charges, had been taken off suicide watch by a doctoral-level psychologist, the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress.

Epstein, 66 (shown above in an undated sex offender mug shot by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Justice), died on Aug. 10 in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging. He had been placed on suicide watch in July after he was found in his cell semiconscious with marks on his neck.

But he "was later removed from suicide watch after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist who determined that a suicide watch was no longer warranted," the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to the House Judiciary Committee's chairman, Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and its ranking member, Doug Collins, R-Ga.

Federal inmates on suicide watch are placed in special cells, the letter said, citing Bureau of Prisons policy. "This environment includes easy access to the room, unobstructed vision of the inmate at all times, and limited availability of objects, materials, or architectural features that would allow for easy self-injury," the letter states.

An inmate on suicide watch is seen daily by a psychologist and is constantly being observed by either staff or an "inmate companion" who documents their observations regularly.

Inmates can only be taken off suicide watch by a Bureau of Prisons psychologist after a face-to-face evaluation, the letter states.

Earlier this week, federal investigators sought subpoenas for jail employees after Justice Department officials said that some of the workers who were on duty when the disgraced financier died have retained lawyers and declined interviews.

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr removed Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons. Hurwitz will remain in the bureau as the assistant director of another division, Barr said.

Epstein's suicide has led to immediate fallout. The jail's warden, Lamine N'Diaye, was temporarily reassigned, and two guards who were assigned to watch Epstein have been placed on leave. Investigators are looking into whether the guards were sleeping on duty when Epstein killed himself.

Epstein had been in federal custody since his arrest in July at a New Jersey airport. He was charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking, and faced up to 45 years in prison if found guilty. He pleaded not guilty and was denied bail.

The indictment in his case showed that he sought out minors, some as young as 14, from at least 2002 through 2005 and paid in cash for sex at either his Manhattan townhouse or his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, according to federal prosecutors.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Jeffrey Epstein scandal just slipped beyond the control of Donald Trump and Bill Barr, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2019. The death of Donald Trump’s old friend Jeffrey Epstein while he was in the custody of Trump’s Department of Justice has faded from the headlines this past week as Trump has begun declaring himself the “King of Israel” while trying to buy Greenland, and other objectively insane behavior.

But the Epstein scandal is still playing out nonetheless – and it just took a turn that Trump and his Attorney General Bill Barr won’t like. Shimon Prokupecz of CNN has revealed that the government of France has opened an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein. We think this is important for two reasons.

First, it’s potentially bad news for Epstein’s alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, as her friends are claiming that she’s been hanging out in France since Epstein’s arrest (outsiders have claimed she’s in Boston or Los Angeles). Second, if France is running a legitimate investigation into Epstein’s crimes, it’ll make it very difficult for Donald Trump and Bill Barr to push a phony narrative about the crimes.

Aug. 23

Trump Finances

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washington post logoWashington Post, Judges surprise attorneys for Trump’s bankers by asking about his tax returns, Renae Merle, Aug. 23, 2019. Attorneys for Deutsche Bank and Capital One repeatedly refused to tell a federal appeals court Friday whether the banks have President Trump’s tax returns, citing “contractual obligations” for rebuffing the court’s questions.

capital one bank logoTrump (shown in a file photo) is appealing a district court ruling that cleared the way for the banks to hand over years of financial records from the president, his three eldest children and the president’s companies to two House committees.

deutsche bank logoToward the end of Friday’s hearing, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit considering the appeal asked the banks’ attorneys whether the documents subject to the subpoenas could potentially include the president’s tax returns.

“I am not asking you for the content" of the returns, Judge Jon O. Newman said.

“We’re not in a position to answer that question,” said Raphael Prober, the attorney for Deutsche Bank, the president’s largest creditor.

jon newman“It is a fairly important question in this case,” Newman, shown at right, said.

Prober and Capital One’s attorney, James Murphy, both said “contractual obligations" prevented the banks from answering the judges’ questions.

As the judges appeared to grow frustrated by the attorneys’ resistance, Judge Peter Hall added: “Should we go to court and seek an order? I’m serious. We need to know.”

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump may be a lot more vulnerable than you think, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 23, 2019. President Trump may have had the worst fortnight of his presidency. His most cringe-worthy moments came during his horrific visits to El Paso and Dayton, but his most revealing episodes came this week with his multiple outbursts and head-spinning reversals. He has been at his emotionally and mentally shakiest, and perhaps a growing share of Americans simply cannot ignore it.

The Aug. 15-19 Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that just 36 percent of Americans approve of how Trump is doing his job, and 62 percent disapprove. He’s even in negative territory on the economy (46 percent approve, 51 percent do not), and draws at least 60 percent disapproval on health care, immigration, guns and foreign policy.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani just completely screwed Donald Trump over, Bill Palmer, Aug. 23, 2019. Donald Trump seems to think that having an inept loose cannon like Rudy Giuliani for a criminal defense attorney is a good thing, presumably because Rudy’s epic screw-ups tend to distract attention from Trump’s own scandals. The trouble is that sooner or later Rudy was going to find himself facing serious jeopardy – and now that it’s happened, Rudy is screwing Trump over to try to save himself.

bill palmer report logo headerBy now you’ve heard the story of how Rudy Giuliani conspired with a faction of the government of Ukraine to try to fabricate a scandal about Joe Biden, in the hope of sinking Biden’s 2020 campaign. No one bought into the phony Biden scandal, and instead it became a brewing scandal for Rudy. After all, if he did this of his own accord without the approval of the U.S. government, he’d potentially be in violation of numerous felony statutes.

Sure enough, according to NBC News, Rudy is now publicly asserting that he worked with Donald Trump’s State Department to conspire with the government of Ukraine on the fake Biden scandal. This matters for two reasons.

Aug. 22

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is weaponizing evangelicals’ mistrust, E.J. Dionne Jr., Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Are the dominant voices of white evangelical Christianity in the United States destined to be angry and defensive? Is President Trump making sure they stay that way?

I found myself asking these questions after I read my Post colleague Elizabeth Bruenig’s revealing and deeply reported essay about her journey to Texas to probe why evangelicals have been so loyal to Trump and are likely to remain so.

Hers was a venture in sympathetic understanding and empathetic listening. What she heard was a great desire to push back against liberals, to defend a world that sees itself under siege and to embrace Trump — not as a particularly good man but as a fighter against all of the things and people and causes that they cannot abide. Even more, they believe liberals and secularists are utterly hostile to the culture they have built and the worldview they embrace.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge allows Trump to appeal lawsuit over foreign payments accepted by his hotels, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 22, 2019 (print ed.). The decision is a setback for critics who hope the courts will find him in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses.

djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opiniion: Trump's increasingly dangerous messiah complex demands his removal from office, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 22, 2019 (subscription required). Trump (shown in a caricature above) re-tweeted a statement by far-right conspiracy nutter Wayne Allyn Root that Israelis believe that Trump is the “King of Israel" and that "they love him like he is the second coming of God." Later, during a impromptu press gaggle outside the White House, Trump said, “I am the chosen one,” as he looked skyward.

Aug. 20

Mueller Report: Analysis

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Just Security, Expert Summaries of Mueller Report: A Collection, Kate Brannen, George T. Conway III, Jennifer Daskal, Kristen Eichensehr, Joshua Geltzer, Ryan Goodman, Elie Honig, Harry Litman, Renato Mariotti, Barbara McQuade, Asha Rangappa, Mimi Rocah, Paul Seamus Ryan, Rita Siemion, Joyce Vance and Andy Wright, Aug. 20, 2019.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Ryan Goodman, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Just Security

Volume I

1. The Special Counsel’s Investigation
Joshua Geltzer

2. Legal Standards and Evidentiary Considerations
Asha Rangappa

3. Russian “Active Measures” Social Media Campaign and Criminal Charges against 13 Russian Nationals and 3 Russian Entities
Kristen Eichensehr

4. Russian Hacking and Dumping Operations and Criminal Charges against 12 Russian Military Intelligence Officials
Jennifer Daskal

5. Trump Campaign Interest in Hacked Materials
Joshua Geltzer

6. Links and Contacts with Russia: Michael Cohen and Trump Tower Moscow
Kate Brannen

7. Links and Contacts with Russia: George Papadopoulos
Kate Brannen

8. Links and Contacts with Russia: Carter Page
Kate Brannen

9. Links and Contacts with Russia: Trump Tower June 2016 Meeting
Kate Brannen and Ryan Goodman

10. Links and Contacts with Russia: Paul Manafort
Rita Siemion

11. Links and Contacts with Russia: Michael Flynn
Barbara McQuade

12. Links and Contacts with Russia, Additional Individuals
Asha Rangappa

13. Charging Decisions: The Foreign Agent Registration Act
Jennifer Daskal

14. Charging Decisions: Accepting Information from Foreign Officials (campaign finance law)
Paul Seamus Ryan

15. Charging Decisions: False Statements and Obstruction of the Investigation
Barbara McQuade

Volume II

1. Setting the Stage: Investigation of a Sitting President and Overarching Factual Issues
Ryan Goodman

2. Legal Framework for Obstruction of Justice: Elements and Case Law
Asha Rangappa

3. Trump’s Response to Reports of Russian Support
Joshua Geltzer

4. Incident One: Shielding Flynn
Mimi Rocah

5. Incident Two: Pressuring FBI Director Comey and the Intelligence Chiefs
Barbara McQuade

6. Incident Three: Firing FBI Director Comey
Mimi Rocah

7. Incident Four: Efforts to Remove Special Counsel Mueller
Renato Mariotti

8. Incident Five: Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation
Barbara McQuade

9. Incident Six: Efforts to Prevent Disclosure of Emails about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting with Russians
Andy Wright

10. Incident Seven: Efforts to Have Attorney General Sessions Take Over the Investigation
Andy Wright

11. Incident Eight: Ordering White House Counsel McGahn to Deny that the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel
Joyce Vance

12. Incident Nine: Conduct Toward Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort
Elie Honig

13. Incident Ten: Conduct Toward Michael Cohen
Elie Honig

14. Prebuttal I: Response to Possible Statutory Defenses
Joshua Geltzer

15. Prebuttal II: Response to Possible Constitutional Defenses
Harry Litman

Epilogue
George T. Conway III

Appendix: Additional Writings by Our Experts

Aug. 17

Palmer Report, Opinion: Anthony Scaramucci might actually be right for once, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2019. Now that Donald Trump keeps kicking Anthony Scaramucci, left, while he’s down, Scaramucci has decided to get up off the mat and fight back. He’s calling Trump every name in the book, while asserting that Trump is slipping when it comes to his cognitive abilities.

anthony scaramucci salt conference 2016 croppedTrump’s latest 2020 poll numbers are laughably bad. In fact he’s losing to every viable Democratic nominee by a margin that’s well outside the margin of error, and the polls are never off by that much in a national election (contrary to popular belief, the polls were accurate in 2016 within the margin of error). Trump’s internal polling bill palmer report logo headernumbers are reportedly even uglier for him than the publicly available data.

Anthony Scaramucci is predicting that Donald Trump will drop out of the race by March of 2020 because he’ll take a look at his horrible poll numbers, conclude that he’s going to lose badly, and decide to sidestep the humiliation of getting blown out. The election is still a long way away, but if Trump’s numbers do remain this awful heading into general election season, he won’t have a chance – and he’ll know it.

Aug. 16

Palmer Report, Opinion: Maria Butina scandal takes a surreal new turn, Bill Palmer, Aug. 16, 2019. Russian political operative Maria Butina, who buddied up to the Republican Party and the NRA on behalf of the Kremlin in relation to the 2016 election, has already been sentenced to prison. But as part of her cooperation deal, she’s supposed to help take down every fellow criminal she encountered.

bill palmer report logo headerThe trouble: that doesn’t seem to be happening. With each passing day, the media breaks open a new scandal involving the NRA – and that’s only going to get even uglier as the New York Attorney General prepares to depose ousted NRA official Oliver North about the group’s malfeasance. Even as this plays out, there is still no clear resolution to just what Maria Butina and her alleged handler Alexander Torshin were actually plotting with the NRA during the 2016 election cycle.

ellen weintraubFEC Chair Ellen Weintraub, left, wants some answers on this, but she can’t get them. She says the Republicans on the Federal Election Commission are blocking her from formally inquiring with the Department of Justice about the status of the case. In fact, Weintraub is so disturbed by this, she appeared on the Rachel Maddow show tonight to sound the alarm.

nra logo CustomSo now we have Donald Trump’s Department of Justice apparently not bothering to do its job with regard to Maria Butina and the NRA, and we have the GOP-loyal members of the FEC trying to prevent any oversight from taking place. It’s more clear than ever that the Republican Party is trying to protect its NRA puppet masters from being taken down. But the NRA is facing legal trouble on so many fronts, it seems inevitable that it will eventually take a fall.

Aug. 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Presses Israel to Block Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Isabel Kershner, Aug. 15, 2019. President Trump called for Israel to bar the entry of two U.S. congresswomen, in an extraordinary step to influence an ally and punish his political opponents. “It donald trump twitterwould show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” he tweeted. Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN) and Rashida Tlaib (MI) were scheduled to begin a tour of the West Bank on Sunday.

Israel is still weighing whether to deny entry. Both women have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement.

Aug. 12

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Epstein-Barr: “Justice” in a quasi-dictatorship known as the United States, Wayne DJT jeffrey epstein cheerleaders party cropped mar a logo screenshotMadsen (syndicated columnist, author and former Navy intelliegence officer), Aug. 12, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission).  One of the biggest threats to Donald Trump’s presidency – his former good friend and fellow uber-wealthy sex pervert Jeffrey Epstein – died in a federal detention center in Manhattan of what was officially termed a “suicide.”

Trump and Epstein are shown in a screenshot of them ogling cheerleaders at a wild party at Mar-a-Lago, which is located about a mile from the Palm Beach mansion where Epstein and his accomplices lured scores of Florida's junior high and high school girls for sexual encounters.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump tops 12,000 false or misleading claims in under 950 days, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Aug. 12, 2019. The president has made 12,019 false or misleading claims, adding about 20 a day in the past two months.

Aug. 11

donald trump money Custom

TheHill.com, Scaramucci fires back at Trump: He will turn 'on everyone' and then 'entire country,' Justin Wise, Aug. 11, 2019. Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci denounced President Trump early Sunday, arguing that he would eventually turn on everyone in his circle.

anthony scaramucci salt conference 2016 cropped"For the last 3 years I have fully supported this President," Scaramucci said on Twitter. "Recently he has said things that divide the country in a way that is unacceptable. So I didn’t pass the 100% litmus test. Eventually he turns on everyone and soon it will be you and then the entire country."

The comments from Scaramucci came less than 24 hours after Trump railed against the former White House aide over his recent comments about the administration.

Scaramucci last week called Trump's visit to El Paso, Texas to meet with survivors of a mass shooting a "catastrophe."

"Anthony Scaramucci, who was quickly terminated (11 days) from a position that he was totally incapable of handling, now seems to do nothing but television as the all time expert on 'President Trump.'" Trump tweeted late Saturday night.

He added that Scaramucci "knows very little about me...other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence."

donald trump twitter"Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!" Trump said.

Scaramucci was ousted from his job as White House communications director in July 2017 after a chaotic 11-day stint. In the years since, he hasn't hesitated to criticize the administration while appearing on television talk shows.

msnbc logo CustomAppearing on MSNBC last Thursday, the former Trump aide said that the president's trip to El Paso was a "catastrophe."

“Maybe he’ll tweet something negative about somebody for saying he didn’t do well, but the facts are he did not do well on the trip because if the trip is being made about him and not the demonstration of compassion and love and caring and empathy for those people, then it becomes a catastrophe for him, the administration, and it’s also a bad reflection on the country," Scaramucci said.

After Trump attacked four minority congresswoman last month, Scaramucci said that the president could be "turning into" a racist.

"I don't think the president is a racist," Scaramucci said on BBC's "Today." "But here's the thing, if you continue to say and act in that manner, then we all have to look at him and say, OK, well, maybe you weren't a racist, but now you're turning into one."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just picked a fight with Anthony Scaramucci and somehow managed to lose, Bill Palmer, Aug. 11, 2019. Regardless of whatever competent things he may have done in his other walks of life, most people will remember Anthony Scaramucci as the bill palmer report logo headerguy who was so astoundingly bad at being a political adviser, he only managed to last eleven days in a Trump White House where just about anything goes.

But now Donald Trump has picked a fight with The Mooch, and has somehow managed to lose.

Aug. 10

Epstein Dead

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein Commits Suicide at Manhattan Jail, William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 10, 2019. Mr. Epstein, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, hung himself and his body was found this morning.

Epstein, shown in his mug shot, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, committed suicide at a Manhattan jail, officials said on Saturday.

Mr. Epstein hung himself and his body was found this morning at roughly 7:30 a.m.

Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.

New Epstein Revelations

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘She was shaking’: Court filings describe system Jeffrey Epstein allegedly used to procure girls, Beth Reinhard, Marc Fisher, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Aug. 10, 2019 (print ed.).  Newly unsealed documents lay out disturbing details about the financier’s alleged abuse and the number of people in his orbit who could have observed them.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001He demanded sex three times a day. A parade of powerful figures visited his private estates, which were adorned with pictures of naked girls and stocked with sex toys. And the schedules of teenagers on call to give him massages at his Palm Beach, Fla., mansion were documented in phone messages from his assistants.

Roberts, at center, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, left. The California native said the photo at left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine. 

Those and other claims about financier Jeffrey Epstein unsealed in court filings Friday lay out disturbing details both about his alleged activities and the number of people in his orbit who could have observed them, raising new questions about how the sex abuse charges against the multimillionaire were previously handled.

Epstein, who is now facing federal sex trafficking charges involving the alleged abuse of dozens of minors, previously pleaded guilty in Florida state court to two felony counts, serving about 13 months in jail. A federal judge ruled in February that the prosecution team led by then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who recently resigned as President Trump’s labor secretary, violated the rights of alleged victims by failing to notify them of an agreement not to bring federal charges.

Aug. 8

Trump / Mass Shootings

ny times logoNew York Times, On a Day Set Aside for Healing, Trump Stokes Divisions, Michael Crowley, Maggie Haberman, Mitch Smith and Michael D. Shear, Aug. 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s plans to visit Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso after two mass shootings went awry even before he departed Washington. The day devolved into an occasion for anger-fueled broadsides against Democrats and the news media. He was greeted by protests in both cities.

On Tuesday night, he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman from El Paso, should “be quiet.” As he prepared to leave the White House on Wednesday morning, he went after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said in a speech that day that Mr. Trump had “fanned the flames of white supremacy.”

Both Mr. O’Rourke and Mr. Biden are running for president and have been particularly harsh in their criticism of Mr. Trump after the two shootings, and Mr. Trump rose to the bait.

washington post logoWashington Post, NRA warns Trump after he signals he is open to extensive background checks, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim, Aug. 8, 2019 (print ed.). NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke with Trump on Tuesday after the president expressed support for a background nra logo Customcheck bill and told him it would not be popular among Trump’s supporters, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal talks. LaPierre also argued against the bill’s merits, the officials said.

Advisers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would not bring any gun-control legislation to the floor without widespread Republican support.

Trump Family

Trump Family

Trump siblings, from left: Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump Grau, Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump Barry (Trump Campaign Photo)

Trump siblings, from left: Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump Grau, Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump Barry (Trump Campaign Photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pressured his alcoholic brother about his career. Now he has regrets, Michael Kranish​, Aug. 8, 2019. In an interview about Fred Trump Jr.’s death from alcoholism, the president admitted mistakes and said he is applying lessons to the nation’s fight against opioids.

It is rare for Trump to express regret or admit mistakes. But he said his brother’s short, tragic life scarred him like no other event, and he said he remains haunted by watching Fred Jr.’s handsome features fade.

A number of Fred Jr.’s friends, who provided The Post with many new details about his life, said the president has too often told the story in a way that put Fred Jr. in the harshest light while painting himself as the virtuous brother who avoided alcohol. The president was asked to respond to their comments and recently did so.

Jack O’Donnell, a former Trump casino executive who later ran an Arizona addiction treatment center, said the president still has not come to terms with his brother’s life and death.

“It always felt like it was a dark family secret, and a subject [about] which he did not want to talk,” O’Donnell said. “There is generally a lot of shame around addiction, which is sad. I think the entire Trump family suffers a great deal of shame and unresolved trauma over Fred’s Jr. death.”

FBI, U.S. Courts

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017

washington post logoWashington Post, Andrew McCabe sues FBI over firing, alleges plot by Trump to oust those he finds disloyal, Matt Zapotosky​, Aug. 8, 2019. Andrew McCabe, shown in a file photo above, the acting FBI director who authorized an investigation into President Trump for ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice, filed a lawsuit against the bureau and the Justice Department on Wednesday, alleging he was illegally demoted and fired as part of a plot by Trump to remove those who were not politically loyal to him.

McCabe asked that a federal judge declare his termination a “legal nullity” and essentially allow him to retire from the FBI as planned, with all the benefits that would have afforded him. He was fired from the bureau in March 2018, a little more than 24 hours before FBI logoMcCabe was set to retire, costing him significant retirement benefits. The termination came after the Justice Department inspector general found that McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the media, then lied to investigators about it.

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that McCabe’s firing “was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Peter Strzok’s case against Donald Trump just took a surreal turn, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2019. Earlier this week, former peter strzok croppedFBI agent Peter Strzok, right, initiated legal action to try to force the federal government to give him his old job back. His case seems solid, considering he was only fired because Donald Trump abused his position as President of the United States to pressure the FBI into firing him. Now the case has already taken a surreal turn.

bill palmer report logo headerPeter Strzok’s case has already been assigned to a federal judge, and according to Politico, that judge is Amy Berman Jackson. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because she was also the judge in one of the Paul Manafort trials, and because she’s currently the judge in the Roger Stone trial. This speaks to the fairly small number of federal judges in each circuit. It also points to trouble for Trump.

How can we put this diplomatically? There are federal judges who try their best to apply the law fairly, and then there are federal judges who don’t. We saw this when T.S. Ellis, the judge in the other Paul Manafort trial, made a point of giving amy berman jacksonManafort an absurdly lenient sentence – while claiming that career criminal Manafort had led an “otherwise blameless life.”

In contrast, Amy Berman Jackson has shown herself to be fair and impartial. She gave Paul Manafort a proper prison sentence. She’s been handling the controversial Roger Stone trial in a professional manner. Now that she’s been assigned the Peter Strzok case, she’s very likely to handle it correctly as well. Since the law appears to be on Strzok’s side, this points to Trump likely losing.

Aug. 7

 washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings calls for end to ‘hateful rhetoric’ that inspires mass shooters, Jenna Portnoy​, Aug. 7, 2019. Speaking at a luncheon, the Maryland Democrat referred to tweets by President Trump disparaging his Baltimore congressional district.

elijah cummings head and shoulders oRep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) on Wednesday called for an end to “hateful rhetoric” that inspires mass shooters.

In his first major speech in the nearly two weeks since President Trump called his Baltimore district a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live,” Cummings did not directly address the comments but called for decency.

“Those at the highest levels of government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” he said at the National Press Club in Washington. “As a country we finally must say that enough is enough. That we are done with the hateful rhetoric. That we are done with the mass shootings. That we are done with the white supremacists, domestic terrorists who are terrorizing our country and fighting against everything America stands for.”

U.S. Mass Shootings

washington post logoWashington Post, On visits to grieving cities, Trump avoids the public eye, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Arelis R. Hernández​, Aug. 7, 2019. President Trump told reporters he "would like to stay out of the political fray" during his trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso. But within hours, he was sniping at Democrats on Twitter, including Dayton's mayor and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who joined him on a visit to a hospital where shooting victims were treated.

• Analysis: Trump seeks credit for Ohio hospital visit
• Biden, in blistering speech, says Trump has ‘fanned the flames of white supremacy’

Aug. 6

Far-Right Violence

washington post logodjt pepe twitter imageWashington Post, Trump plans visits to El Paso and Dayton, where he won’t be universally welcome, John Wagner, Aug. 6, 2019. Several Democrats have asked the president [shown in a Pepe the Frog Twitter image] to stay away from the Texas border community as it grieves those lost in a weekend mass shooting. In Dayton, Ohio, the mayor encouraged people to protest the president's planned visit.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Stops Short of Major Gun Controls, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 6, 2019 (priknt ed.). President Trump on Monday denounced white supremacy in the wake of twin mass shootings over the weekend, and citing the threat of “racist hate,” he summoned the nation to address what he called a link between the recent carnage and violent video games, mental illness and internet bigotry.

But he stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists, Democrats and some Republicans have djt justice liberty truth metoosought for years, such as tougher background checks for gun buyers and the banning of some weapons and accessories such as high-capacity magazines.

And while he warned of “the perils of the internet and social media,” he offered no recognition of his own use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics. Instead, he focused on a rising intolerance that he has been slow to condemn in the past.

See "Commentary On Far-Right Terrorism" below.

20 Years For Pro-Trump Terrorist

cesar sayoc jr trump rally no credit

Cesar Sayoc, shown at center at a Trump rally, was sentenced to a 20-year term for mailing explosives to Trump critics

washington post logoWashington Post, Cesar Sayoc, who mailed explosive devices to Trump’s critics, sentenced to 20 years in prison, Philip Bump and Devlin Barrett​, Aug. 5, 2019.  The former strip club worker had pleaded guilty to mailing inoperative pipe bombs in the days leading up to last fall's midterm elections.

cesar sayoc nypost front page oct 27 2018Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man who mailed explosive devices to prominent Democrats and media figures, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison after a judge concluded that Sayoc hated his victims but had not meant to kill them.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for the 57-year-old former pizza delivery man and strip club worker, who mailed 16 inoperative pipe bombs last fall, acting out his paranoid delusions and intense support for President Trump.

“I am beyond so very sorry for what I did,” Sayoc told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff. “Now that I am a sober man, I know that I was a sick man. I should have listened to my mother, the love of my life.”

djt maga hatProsecutors and defense lawyers spent much of Monday’s hearing wrangling over how dangerous the packages truly were to those who handled them.

The judge concluded that Sayoc, “though no firearms expert, was fully capable” of building a functioning bomb if he had wanted to do so. “He hated his victims,” the judge added, “but did not wish them dead, at least not by his own hand.”

Sayoc’s defense lawyer Ian Marcus Amelkin pushed for a 10-year sentence, saying he was using large quantities of steroids when he became obsessed in his support for Trump, consuming conspiracy theories from Fox News and elsewhere that fed his rising paranoia.

hillary clinton twitter“It is impossible to separate the political climate and his mental illness when it comes to the slow boil,” Marcus said. Marcus said that Trump’s rhetoric in office contributed to Sayoc’s beliefs, noting that the prosecution — working for Trump’s Department of Justice — failed to make mention of the president in its prosecuting documents.

The Sayoc case began weeks before the 2018 congressional elections, when suspicious packages were mailed to Hillary Clinton, right, former president Barack Obama, and actor Robert De Niro, among others.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump texts got him fired from the FBI, sues for reinstatement, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 6, 2019.
peter strzok croppedThe FBI agent whose anti-Trump text messages got him removed from the investigation into Russia’s election interference and ultimately fired from the bureau asked in a lawsuit Tuesday to be reinstated and awarded back pay, arguing he was unfairly terminated for criticizing the president.

Peter Strzok, right, asserted in the suit that the Trump administration had “consistently tolerated and even encouraged partisan political speech by federal employees” — but only if that speech praised the president and attacked his opponents. The former FBI agent who President Trump has attacked repeatedly alleged that his removal was “part of a broader campaign against the very principle of free speech,” which he said was “initiated and led by” the commander-in-chief.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, RNC sue to block Calif. law seeking president’s tax returns, John Wagner​, Aug. 6, 2019. The measure, signed late last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to disclose tax returns to qualify for the primary ballot.

U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Republican State Senator finds himself in an ugly mess for telling the truth about Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 6, 2019. Yesterday, Republican State Senator John McCollister of Nebraska gained significant notoriety for calling it like it is. He accused his own Republican Party, along with Donald Trump, of “enabling white supremacy in our country” as a means to a political end. McCollister received widespread praise for speaking up – but now he’s found himself in an ugly mess over it.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017After John McCollister tweeted his missive yesterday, Palmer Report congratulated him for it, but added that “sadly, the most likely result of McCollister’s bold stand is that he ends up leaving the GOP in disgust.” Now it looks like he may be on that path already, and perhaps not by choice.

Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Ryan Hamilton announced last night that he’s calling on State Senator bill palmer report logo headerJohn McCollister to leave the Republican Party. Hamilton went so far as to obnoxiously offer to send McCollister a change of voter registration form. The whole thing didn’t go over particularly well. When the Nebraska GOP tweeted a copy of Hamilton’s letter, it received about eight times as many negative comments as likes – never a good sign on Twitter.

But that’s nonetheless where we are as a country right now. The Republican Party is doubling down more than ever on divisiveness and extremism, in the hope of driving a minority of the country to the polls in disproportionately large numbers, so as to outnumber the majority. The only way to break that cycle is for mainstream Americans to turn out and vote Democrat in larger numbers than ever. Short of that, the GOP and the bottom-feeding one-third of the country will continue to paradoxically reign over us.

 Impeachment Politics

 nancy pelosi v squad

Rep. Ilhan Omar (top left), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (bottom left), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (center), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (top right), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (bottom right). Photo credit: POMED / Flickr (CC BY 2.0), AFGE / Flickr (CC BY 2.0), Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0), nrkbeta / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0), and MPAC National / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Progressive Insurgents Make Impeachment a Primary Issue, Michael Freeman, Aug. 6, 2019. Democrats have been talking about impeachment all year, but is it starting to divide them? Ask progressive insurgents launching primary campaigns.

Few political leaders would seem more invulnerable than Nancy Pelosi (CA), the speaker of the House and a Democrat in one of the most heavily Democratic cities in the country. But don’t tell that to Shahid Buttar, a 44-year-old San Francisco attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Buttar is in his second primary bid against Pelosi, who has been in the House since 1987. The son of Pakistani immigrants, he has called the speaker’s resistance to the Trump administration “theatrical.” The need to push for impeachment is one of his major campaign issues.

“All I can say is, Speaker Pelosi is either going to proceed with impeachment and there will be a national controversy about it,” Buttar told WhoWhatWhy. “Or her career is going to end in less than a year when she loses the primary to me.”

Impeachment may now be turning into more of a headache for Democrats, dividing them between progressives pushing to move quickly toward impeachment and moderates who are resistant to that approach. As of last week, however, a majority of House Democrats have joined the impeachment bandwagon; more than 20 members were apparently convinced by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent testimony before Congress.

Commentary: Far Right Terrorism

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Tax Cuts and Terrorism, Paul Krugman, Aug. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Why do Republicans enable right-wing paul krugmanextremism? Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism?

Don’t pretend to be shocked. Just look at G.O.P. responses to the massacre in El Paso. They have ranged from the ludicrous (blame video games!) to the almost honest (who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to speak out against white supremacy?). But as far as I can tell, not one prominent Republican has even hinted at the obvious link between Donald Trump’s repeated incitements to violence and the upsurge in hate crimes.

So the party remains in lock step behind a man who has arguably done more to promote racial violence than any American since Nathan Democratic-Republican Campaign logosBedford Forrest, who helped found the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization if there ever was one — and who was recently honored by the Republican governor of Tennessee.

Anyway, the party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene. More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term “right-wing extremism” was unacceptable.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I Spent 25 Years Fighting Jihadis. White Supremacists Aren’t So Different, Ali H. Soufan (former F.B.I. special agent and the author of “Anatomy of Terror”), Aug. 6, 2019 (print ed.).  We can’t fight domestic terror groups efficiently until the law treats them the way we treat foreign ones.

When a young Muslim man, self-radicalized online, kills in the name of Islamist ideology, we have no trouble calling him a terrorist and connecting him with groups like ISIS. When a young white man, similarly self-radicalized, kills in the name of racist ideology — even when he publishes a manifesto to that effect — we tend to call him disturbed. We speak about him as a troubled loner, rather than a member of a wider network.

The disparities are not limited to cultural perceptions. America’s law enforcement agencies, intelligence community and court system all treat these two scenarios differently. Those differences in treatment mask instructive similarities between these two forms of organized hate. Having spent almost 25 years fighting jihadi terrorism here and abroad, I see disturbing parallels between the rise of Al Qaeda in the 1990s and that of racist terrorism today.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I Predicted More Hate-Based Violence. El Paso Won’t Be the End of It, Frank Figliuzzi (former assistant F.B.I. director for counterintelligence), July 31, 2019 (updated to reflect news developments). Three days before a mass shooting that killed at least 21 people in El Paso, I predicted in these pages that we were on the path to a frightening uptick in white nationalistic hate violence.

The El Paso terrorist appears to have been motivated by a racist ideology that cited other mass shootings, including in Christchurch, New Zealand. The F.B.I. has labeled it domestic terrorism and the governor of Texas has suggested that it be prosecuted as a hate crime. I have never felt so badly about being so right.

I made that prediction because I learned from 25 years in the F.B.I., including during a stint as head of counterintelligence, to trust my gut when I saw a threat unfolding. Now, my instinct and experience tell me that El Paso will not be the end of it, and that we are headed for more hate-based violence potentially stoked by a divisive president. (The motive for a second mass shooting on Sunday in Dayton is less clear.)

Yes, President Trump has fallen short of calling for violence against minorities and immigrants. And yes, he condemned racist violence and white supremacy on Monday. But he has yet to apologize for painting people of color as outsiders and invaders, for calling for them to be sent back to where they came from, and for asserting that no humans would want to live in certain American cities. As a consequence, he has given license to those who feel compelled to eradicate what Mr. Trump himself has called an infestation.

USA TODAY via Yahoo, 'Headline was flawed': New York Times changed headline about Trump speech after backlash, Jordan Culver and Adrianna Rodriguez, Aug. 6, 2019. A photo of the front page of Tuesday's New York Times sparked immediate criticism on Monday night – including from several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

The headline read "Trump urges unity vs. racism." It comes after President Donald Trump addressed the nation after mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, that killed nine and 22 people, respectively.

ny times logoThe headline ran in the Times' first print edition and was changed in subsequent editions, The Times told USA TODAY in a statement Tuesday.

The original headline didn't sit well with a number of Democrats.

"Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by – and often relies upon – the cowardice of mainstream institutions," tweeted Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who told CNN over the weekend that Trump was "responsible for this," said via Twitter: "Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. "Please do."

Fellow Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Beto O'Rourke – who called the headline "unbelievable" – also sounded off on Twitter.

"The original headline was flawed and was changed for all editions of the paper following the first edition," Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of Communications for The Times, said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "The headline in question never appeared online, only in the first print edition."

As a result of the controversy, the hashtag #CancelNYT began trending on Twitter Tuesday afternoon as social media users expressed outrage about the headline. Many demanded the resignation of Times editors while pledging to unsubscribe from the paper and calling for others to do the same.

Aug. 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Stops Short of Major Gun Controls, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 5, 2019. President Trump on Monday denounced white supremacy in the wake of twin mass shootings over the weekend, and citing the threat of “racist hate,” he summoned the nation to address what he called a link between the recent carnage and violent video games, mental illness and internet bigotry.

But he stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists, Democrats and some Republicans have sought for years, such as tougher background checks for gun buyers and the banning of some weapons and accessories such as high-capacity magazines.

And while he warned of “the perils of the internet and social media,” he offered no recognition of his own use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics. Instead, he focused on a rising intolerance that he has been slow to condemn in the past.

Aug. 4

Impeachment Timeline

Palmer Report, Commentary: Elijah Cummings just gave away when Donald Trump’s impeachment is going to happen, Bill Palmer, Aug. 4, 2019. With a growing majority of House Democrats now publicly in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, and the House Judiciary Committee having already opened a low-key impeachment inquiry, it’s a matter of time before impeachment happens. The big question has been when it’ll finally start. Palmer Report has suggested watching the chairs of the big three House committees closely for clues, and one of them just offered a big one.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings just said this to a group of reporters: “There may be a time where impeachment is appropriate. One of the lines for me is when and if the administration disobeys court orders. Then we have no choice, so we will see.” Why does this matter?

House Democrats have spent months fighting legal battles to obtain the evidence and testimony required to put on a convincing elijah cummings head and shoulders oimpeachment hearing. It’s been a fair guess that they’ll begin impeachment once they win those court battles. But now Elijah Cummings, right, is strongly implying that as soon as the courts rule against Trump on impeachment-related matters, they’ll go ahead and use that as a premise for impeachment hearings.

If you’re looking for more clues about Donald Trump’s impeachment going forward, continue to pay attention to the words and actions of House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. They’re driving the impeachment train behind the scenes as much as Speaker Nancy Pelosi is.

Trump's Pledge To Saudis

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Donald Trump breaks protocol in 2017 by making his first overseas trip to visit the kingdom of the murderous Saud family, whose leader is at Trump's right as they engage in a unity ceremony.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump is even more of a Saudi puppet than we thought, BD Holly, Aug. 4, 2019. We really didn’t need more concrete evidence that Trump is bought and sold by one-percenters, and yet here we go.

Vice reports that Trump’s first 2016 campaign chairman and now convicted criminal, Paul Manafort, orchestrated a scheme to let the bill palmer report logo headerUnited Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia edit one of Trump’s stump speeches focused on energy. He did this in conjunction with Thomas Barrack Jr., right, himself a Republican megadonor who led Trump’s inaugural committee, which is also under scrutiny for allegations of corruption.

tom barrackheadshotAs stated in the piece by Vice, Saudi Arabia Edited a Trump “America First” Campaign Speech. Manafort Helped Them Do It, this was done “all in what appears to be an attempt to allow nuclear-tech sharing that could have led to a lucrative deal for Barrack, to finance the construction of nuclear power plants in the Middle East.”

Naturally, a few questions logically follow. Was Trump in on this? If so, was he getting a kickback? How have the UAE and Saudi Arabia influenced Trump with this and other potential improprieties? Has this happened with other nations or groups? My thoughts: If Trump wasn’t in on it, I’d be surprised. Trump would likely not risk something like this without getting a cut. Saudi influence in particular has been a flashpoint with Congress, as Trump repeatedly gives way to Saudi interests at the cost of American interests. Trump’s unusual defenses of dictators the world over, not just Mohammed Bin Salman and other Saudi Royals, might have deeper roots than previously thought.

This revelation, that Trump’s team and by extension Trump himself, let foreign powers edit a speech of his as a presidential candidate is shocking. Democrats need to take this information and run with it. It’s a clear-as-day example of Trump’s disinterest in American wellbeing and compulsion to self-serve at the costs of hundreds of millions of people. Listen up Democrats: this is gold and you can’t let this slip through the cracks. Imagine the Republican response if Bernie Sanders had a speech about healthcare edited by the Norweigians.

Aug. 3

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Salon, Donald Trump's connections to Russia, explained, Matthew Rozsa, Aug. 3, 2019. Here are five irrefutable facts about our president's ties to a foreign adversary. In July 2016, Donald Trump — then still the Republican Party's presidential candidate — openly encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic Party's nominee for the White House.

"I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump told a group of reporters assembled reporters at a news conference.

As former special counsel Robert Mueller's report made clear, this was not the beginning of Trump's association with Russia — but it was certainly a flashpoint.

As it was then, Trump's coziness with the foreign adversary is far from hidden. Who could forget his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018?

After meeting with the dictator for two hours in Helsinki, Trump told reporters this: "I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

Aug. 2

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s war against James Comey just backfired on him, Bill Palmer, Aug. 2, 2019. Trump's phony “Deep State” conspiracy theory has officially gone down the tubes. Trump has spent years insisting that former FBI Director James Comey (shown above in office) was somehow an illegal leaker who needed to be prosecuted for it. To that end, Trump supporters have insisted that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz was going to put Comey and other intel officials in prison.

bill palmer report logo headerInstead, Horowitz has announced that there won’t be any criminal charges against James Comey. Moreover, the Washington Post says that according to people in the DOJ, it was “not a close call” – which is to say that Comey was very clearly not guilty of anything.

This was easy to see coming. First, outside of Trump’s lunatic fringe bubble, everyone understands that he didn’t do anything illegal by releasing certain obstruction of justice evidence against michael horwitz headshotTrump. Second, Horowitz, right, has already proven through his previous IG reports that he’s not willing to do Trump’s corrupt bidding.

So this announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. But Donald Trump has spent the past couple years insisting that Comey was part of a treasonous “Deep State” conspiracy to try to delegitimize Trump’s presidency. Now Trump’s adversaries, including the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee, will be able to argue to undecided voters that even Trump’s own DOJ Inspector General agrees there was no conspiracy against Trump, and that the intel community was just doing its job when it came to investigating Trump’s crimes.

 

July

July 31

2020 U.S. Politics

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washington post logoWashington Post, Deep divisions on health care separate liberals and moderates, Toluse Olorunnipa, Matt Viser and Amy B Wang, July 31, 2019. ‘I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas,’ Sanders says. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders faced a barrage of challenges from candidates vying to make a name for themselves.

Ambitious proposals for health care, climate change and other policies backed by liberal Democratic presidential contenders came in for sharp critiques from a cadre of moderate candidates jousting for prominence in the second round of debates here Tuesday night.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), positioned at the center of the stage at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, faced a barrage of challenges from other candidates vying to make a name for themselves while pushing back against the party’s leftward shift.

Warren and Sanders are promoting “bad policies” and “impossible promises,” said former congressman John Delaney (Md.), the first candidate to mention them by name in what would become a string of attacks throughout the night.

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daily beast logoDaily Beast, Opinion: Dems Blow It Again, Making No Case for Beating Trump, Michael Tomasky, July 31, 2019. Nobody Tuesday night had the imagination to realize that the moment was perfect for an imperishable line about his unfitness for office.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoThe lead story line of tonight’s debate is the way it highlighted the left versus centrist candidates. That’s a fight the party needs to have, and there were several bracing moments, notably the face-offs between Elizabeth Warren and the improbably oft-questioned John Delaney.

But I was watching for something else, too. Every poll shows that what voters care about is electability. Who can beat Donald Trump? I would have thought therefore that one of these people would have attempted to use tonight to scream: “Me. Look at me. I’m the electable one, and here’s why.” But none of them did.

They all took a stab at it here and there, and some of them had pretty good lines. But nobody said anything memorable.

wayne madesen report logo

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Historical analysis: Trump's father spent time in jail, unlike than any other POTUS dad, Wayne Madsen, below right, wayne madsen newerJuly 31, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Donald Trump holds another rather ignoble distinction among America’s 45 presidents.

Trump’s father, Fred Trump (shown above at left), spent time in jail, unlike the fathers of any other past presidents.

washington post logoWashington Post, 8 big moments from Night 1 of the second Democratic debate, Staff report, July 31, 2019. The first night of the second Democratic debate showcased more moderate candidates directly challenging their more liberal and better-known rivals on core issues including health care, immigration and border security, climate, and trade.

Winners and losers from Night 1 | Fact-checking the second debate | Evolution or revolution? Ideological divisions break into the open

democratic donkey logoOn stage Tuesday, with highest-polling candidates in the middle, were author Marianne Williamson; Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); former congressman Beto O’Rourke; former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper; former Maryland congressman John Delaney; and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

1) The health-care fight: A fiery exchange erupted early over health care, as the centrists charged that Sanders and Warren would lead Democrats into likely defeat by embracing a Medicare-for-all system.

Trump Watch / Inside DC

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s new DNI nominee John Ratcliffe is in deep trouble, Bill Palmer, July 31, 2019. When Donald Trump announced this weekend that he was replacing his Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats with Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe, john ratcliffe headshot Customright, the widespread assumption was that the Republican Senate would simply rubber stamp the whole thing.

But if you’ve paid close attention, GOP Senators have actually killed off a number of Trump’s most idiotic nominations before they could even get to a vote. Now it looks like we may be on track for that to happen again.

The GOP Senate loves to rubber stamp Donald Trump’s terrible nominees when it can. But when Trump picks a nominee bill palmer report logo headerlike John Ratcliffe, who’s so hilariously inept he could end up harming the entire party’s 2020 chances, the GOP Senate usually finds a way to let Trump know that he needs to withdraw the pick. The first sign of trouble came on Monday when various Republican Senators began hinting on the record to the Washington Post that they weren’t thrilled with the Ratcliffe nomination. But then things got ugly.

On Tuesday, the New York Times turned around and exposed a scandal. John Ratcliffe has claimed repeatedly that he put terrorists in prison when he was a federal prosecutor – but it turns out that never happened. This is the kind of objectively ugly scandal that prompts the media to obsessively focus on it, until Trump and/or the GOP Senate decide they need to pull the nomination in order to make the bad headlines go away.

July 30

Trump's Race Strategy

washington post logoelijah cummings head and shoulders oWashington Post, ‘Looking for a reason to attack’: Trump seized on a Fox News report to go after Cummings, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa, July 30, 2019 (print ed.). The president was already seething over the role of House Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md., shown at right) in investigating him and in criticizing his administration’s squalid migrant detention centers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Donald Trump spent all weekend going berserk about Elijah Cummings, Bill Palmer, July 30, 2019. After Donald Trump first began ranting and raving about House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings in overtly racist fashion, the whole thing felt like one of Trump’s patented racist distractions. But as Trump’s attacks on Cummings went on and on and on, stretching across days and becoming almost manic in nature, it became clear that another shoe was about to drop.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the other shoe finally dropped. In fact it’s fair to say that Elijah Cummings dropped the other shoe on Donald Trump’s head. Cummings released a report detailing the money trail running from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to Donald Trump, and the personal allegiance running from Trump to those two nations. We’ve all long known that Saudi Arabia and UAE are Trump’s personal puppet masters, but this report spelled it out in the kind of manner which was nothing short of stunning.

Donald Trump must have known that Elijah Cummings was about to drop this bombshell. How did he know? Perhaps one of the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee told him. Or perhaps one of the major news outlets working in tandem with the House Oversight probe asked Trump on Friday if he wanted to provide a comment for the story. We may never know for sure.

In any case, we now know why Donald Trump decided on Saturday morning that Elijah Cummings was his new mortal enemy, and has been obsessively attacking him and ranting about him ever since. This isn’t about Trump trying to distract from his other scandals. What Cummings just published is the big scandal.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Ratcliffe, Trump’s pick for spy chief, might not sail smoothly to confirmation, Shane Harris, July 30, 2019 (print ed.).  john ratcliffe headshot CustomThe nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) drew opposition from Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans.

Current and former intelligence officials also said Ratcliffe, right, is the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies and questioned whether he would use the position to serve Trump’s political interests.

• Washington Post, Trump’s plan to nominate ally viewed as bid to subdue spy agencies

July 28

Trump's Racist Strategy 

washington post logoDonald Trump and Mike Pence logoWashington Post, Trump campaign sees advantage in divisive appeal to working-class whites, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ashley Parker, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). As condemnations have poured in over the past two weeks accusing President Trump of bigotry, his campaign has tried to turn his offensive remarks into a political plus with his base.

washington post logoWashington Post, Maryland hits back at Trump over tweets attacking Baltimore and congressman, Fredrick Kunkle and Hannah Natanson, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). The state's political leaders and residents reacted with outrage, with some saying the troubled city could use help from the president, not insults.

elijah cummings headshotMaryland’s political leaders and residents reacted with outrage — and sometimes resignation — to President Trump’s tweetstorm Saturday attacking Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), right, and his Baltimore district as a “rodent infested mess” where “no human” would want to live.

Some said Trump’s language describing a majority black city represented by an African American lawmaker demonstrated his predilection for degrading political opponents.

“This is an example of the racist bully we have as a president, lashing out at Elijah Cummings for speaking the truth and for standing up to the president and his policies,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in an interview. “And the president just can’t take that and lashed out in a way that clearly had racial overtones.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Assails Black Congressional Critic, Calling His District a ‘Mess,’ Peter Baker, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump lashed out at a leading African-American congressman on Saturday, calling him “a brutal bully” who represents a Baltimore-based district that has become a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

Mr. Trump’s attack on Representative Elijah E. Cummings, right, a Democrat from Maryland and leading donald trump twittercritic of the president, parroted a segment that aired earlier in the morning on “Fox & Friends.”

The president suggested that the congressman was a hypocrite for criticizing conditions in migrant detention centers at the southwestern border when his own district is blighted. Mr. Trump also made a vague and unsubstantiated insinuation of corruption.

Related story: Palmer Report, Opinion: Elijah Cummings fires back at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2019. The profoundly racist nature of Trump’s attack gave away why Trump chose to target Cummings.

U.S. Election Corruption, Meddling

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The U.S. government needs to protect against 2020 election meddling, Editorial Board, July 28, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers do not need to listen to Robert S. Mueller III to know that Russians mounted a sweeping and systematic campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. They need only to listen to their own colleagues. A new report from the Senate Intelligence Committee offers bipartisan confirmation of Moscow’s meddling — and the imperative to protect against it.

republican elephant logoThe report, released Thursday, adds an alarming coda to a story already familiar to many Americans: Russians likely scanned voting systems in every state to assess whether they were vulnerable to manipulation. Officials have found no evidence that any results were changed or machines compromised, but the authors admit that conclusion is an uncertain one. Russia might have intended to lay the groundwork for a future strike, perhaps in 2020. Or it merely might have sought to sow doubt about the election’s legitimacy by proving its ability to interfere.

The report confirms the need for a whole-of-government approach to combatting foreign interference in U.S. elections. A woeful lack of coordination crippled authorities from detecting and deterring incursions three years ago, and it continues to do so today.

The warnings about Russian activity that the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation gave election officials were not only too little; they were also too general, offering localities no reason to see the threat as a systematic assault by a hostile nation. Some of those warnings did not even go to the right people.

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just completely short circuited, Bill Palmer, July 28, 2019. It was sometime after midnight. Donald Trump tweeted a twenty-second video which zoomed in on Jerry Nadler while Nancy Pelosi was speaking, and ended with a cutaway to Trump insisting that the Democrats had nothing on him. It was as strange as it was incoherent as it was stupid. It was the second time he’d posted the idiotic clip in a day and a half. And it was the moment in which Trump finally went fully around the bend.

donald trump twitterIt wasn’t that Donald Trump posted this embarrassingly dumb video clip in isolation. He’d spent all day tweeting one increasingly depraved thing after another. He went on and on about how much he hated Congressman Elijah Cummings. He kept hurling racist stereotypes and thinly veiled Nazi language at the city of Baltimore. He repeatedly attacked Robert Mueller. At no point did Trump come close to a rational thought.

bill palmer report logo headerAs the evening went on, Trump just kept ramping up his absurd behavior, like a psychologically unstable employee who just figured out he’s eventually going to get fired, and has decided to let go of what little effort he had been making at behaving himself. In fact that’s pretty much what happened. The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to open an impeachment inquiry on Friday seems to have sent a signal to Trump that he’s not long for this presidency anyway, and that there’s no longer any reason for him to listen to those around him who have been telling him to keep his psychotic behavior tamped down.

This impeachment inquiry comes even as Donald Trump’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal gets uglier by the day, as Mueller reminds us that Trump will be indicted on federal charges the minute he’s out of office, and as the New York Attorney General keeps hinting that state level charges may be coming before that. No wonder Trump is tweeting like he’s already lost. Even in his broken psychology, he knows where this is headed for him.

July 27

Impeachment Inquiry

ny times logoNew York Times, Raising Prospect of Impeachment, House Seeks Mueller’s Secrets, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, July 27, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats said they need access to secret grand jury evidence because they are weighing whether to recommend impeaching Mr. Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked a federal judge to unseal grand jury secrets related to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, using the court filing to declare that lawmakers have already in effect launched an impeachment investigation of President Trump.

In a legal maneuver that carries significant political overtones, the committee told a judge that it needs access to the grand jury evidence collected by Mr. Mueller as special counsel — such as witness testimony — because it is “investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment” against the president.

“Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the United States House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions,” the filing told the judge, Beryl A. Howell, who supervised Mr. Mueller’s grand jury.

Referring to the part of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to impeach and remove a president, the filing continued: “To do so, the House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise all its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity — approval of articles of impeachment.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: What the House Democrats just did to Donald Trump is genius, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2019. When it comes to impeaching Donald Trump, the House Democrats face a number of tricky factors. Democrats have to use the impeachment process to build up U.S. House logopublic demand for Trump’s ouster, so GOP Senators might be forced to go along with it, for fear of losing their own seats. Democrats have to pull this off without prompting Trump’s existing supporters to reflexively rally around him. And Democrats can’t do any of this until they win their court battles over the relevant testimony and evidence.

bill palmer report logo headerSomehow, the House Democrats just managed to thread that needle in one fell swoop – at least in terms of getting the ball rolling. The House Judiciary Committee made a court filing yesterday which confirms that they’re seeking the evidence and testimony in question because they’re trying to determine whether Donald Trump needs to be impeached. This court filing is an impeachment inquiry, meaning the impeachment process has begun.

But because the House Democrats are kicking off impeachment with a Friday afternoon court filing instead of firing it out of a T-shirt cannon, they’re not giving Donald Trump much of a rallying point just yet. He can run his mouth all he wants, but he’ll have a difficult time firing up his base by whining about a mere impeachment court filing. After all, his supporters tend to view politics through a lens of “wall good, immigrant bad” and have no interest in the legal nuances of the impeachment process.

That means House Democrats have managed to start the impeachment process in a way that helps fire up their base, while making it difficult for Donald Trump to fire up his base, even while continuing to focus on the court battles over testimony and evidence that they’re going to need to win first before they can file the actual articles of impeachment anyway.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Elijah Cummings fires back at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2019. Earlier today Donald Trump responded to an impeachment inquiry from the House Judiciary Committee by somewhat surreally attacking the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings. The profoundly racist nature of Trump’s attack gave away why Trump chose to target Cummings.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump slammed Elijah Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore, all but labeling it a hellhole, and making the Nazi-like declaration that “No human being would want to live there.” Even as Trump faced condemnation from pretty much everyone who isn’t a congressional Republican, Cummings decided to fire back at Trump in a fierce but dignified manner.

elijah cummings headshotCongressman Cummings, right, posted this on Twitter: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents. Just yesterday, I held a hearing on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and the financial hardships that families across the nation, and in Baltimore, are facing.”

Elijah Cummings then went on to explain that two years ago, Donald Trump promised to work with him on prescription drug prices, and that Trump has since dropped the ball entirely. Trump weakly fired back in response, insisting that Cummings “spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through ‘Oversight.'”

July 26

Mueller Testimony Follow Up

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Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, testified on Capitol Hill on July 24 (Fox News screenshot). 

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here we go: the House Judiciary Committee just initiated the impeachment process against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 26, 2019.  This morning, Palmer Report told you that we were closer to the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment than ever. This was based on reports that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had privately pressured Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to begin the impeachment process, and that Pelosi had merely said that the timing was “premature.” Now this afternoon, Nadler has begun the impeachment process after all – and Pelosi is tacitly on board with it.

bill palmer report logo headerNadler and his committee are now making the formal argument in court that they need the grand jury proceedings from Robert Mueller’s investigation, so they can use it to make a determination on whether to impeach Donald Trump. If this sounds like an impeachment inquiry to you, it’s because it is one. When CNN’s Manu Raju asked Nadler if this was jerrold nadler o Smallindeed an impeachment inquiry, Nadler responded “in effect” that it is. This means the impeachment process has begun.

It’s clear that Nancy Pelosi privately signed off on this, or Jerry Nadler, right, wouldn’t be doing it. This means Pelosi is tacitly on board with this de facto impeachment inquiry. If you don’t want to rely on our interpretation alone, Harvard Law Professor and foremost constitutional expert Laurence Tribe tweeted this: “People who’re describing this as merely an inquiry into ‘whether’ to begin an impeachment inquiry are totally wrong. This IS the ‘impeachment inquiry’ that anyone who knows what’s up has been calling for. Neither more nor less.”

So here we go. The impeachment process against Donald Trump has begun – not with the bang that some were fantasizing about – but it’s nonetheless begun. House Democrats are not yet locked into bringing articles of impeachment. But as Palmer Report has long explained, that phase is not going to happen until the Democrats have finished winning their court battles over evidence and testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mueller didn’t fail. The country did, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 26, 2019 (print ed.). I worry that we — the media, voters, Congress — are dangerously unserious when it comes to preservation of our democracy.

jennifer rubin new headshotTo spend hours of airtime and write hundreds of print and online reports pontificating about the “optics” of Mueller’s performance — when he confirmed that President Trump accepted help from a hostile foreign power and lied about it, that he lied when he claimed exoneration, that he was not completely truthful in written answers, that he could be prosecuted after leaving office and that he misled Americans by calling the investigation a hoax — tells me that we have become untrustworthy guardians of democracy.

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What the Mueller Hearings Did Not Tell Us, Caroline Fredrickson (president of the American Constitution Society), July 26, 2019 (print ed.). There’s a lot more to the case against Mr. Trump and his associates. On Wednesday, in sworn congressional testimony, Special Counsel Robert Mueller publicly confirmed 100 percent of the devastating findings of his report, and made clear that his inquiry does not exonerate the president.

Within 24 hours, though, the conversation has coalesced around a few superficial observations: Mr. Mueller underperformed and the Republicans overplayed their hand, but in the end, this is just about the end of the road for investigations around President Trump, let alone talk of impeachment.

Not so fast. Cooler heads in Congress and the news media are pressing forward on the material presented by Mr. Mueller’s team, especially the possibility that the president attempted to obstruct justice. But there’s something else to keep in mind: There’s a lot more to the case against Mr. Trump and his associates than what came up in Wednesday’s hearings.

First, while Mr. Mueller’s inquiry generated 37 criminal indictments and has secured at least seven guilty pleas or convictions, some of these cases, including the prosecution of the longtime Trump associate Roger Stone, are ongoing, and were not fully addressed in the redacted Mueller report.

Second, the extent of Mr. Trump’s past or continuing business dealings with Russia remains a mystery. Mr. Mueller confirmed that it was outside the scope of his investigation to address whether Russians laundered money through Trump businesses, and declined to discuss whether he reviewed Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats struggle to figure out next move against Trump after Mueller hearing, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, July 6, 2016 (print ed.). Several Democrats wondered whether they erred in having Robert S. Mueller III to testify in public, and his appearance aggravated divisions in the party over impeachment.

House Democrats are struggling to figure out their next move against President Trump after their highly anticipated hearing with Robert S. Mueller III fell flat, forcing some Democrats to second-guess their strategy while aggravating divisions in the party over impeachment.

Several centrist Democrats seized on the absence of a major revelation to argue it was time to end House investigations into whether Trump tried to obstruct the former special counsel’s probe and pivot to legislation.

“Anyone who was looking for the smoking gun yesterday didn’t get it,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), who ousted a Republican incumbent by fewer than 500 votes in last year’s midterm elections. “It’s time to move on and focus on getting some bills passed here that can get signed into law.”

But that plea had no effect on the pro-impeachment Democrats, who dug in, insisting that House oversight of Trump and his administration has been ineffective and pressed for launching proceedings.

 

Daily Kos, Opinion: There is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much later than you think, Mark Sumner, July 26, 2019.  The news that Donald Trump is openly feeding classified information to Devin Nunes should be upsetting. It not only represents a complete upending of the standard relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch, but it’s just one aspect of a threat that Trump has set down brick by brick, until it has America poised on the edge of a cliff that many don’t even seem to realize is looming: the absolute inability to get at the truth due to a gross disparity in the availability of information. That may sound technical. Or even picayune. It’s not.

djt justice liberty truth metooIn any conflict, there is one factor that is certain to destroy any possibility of a fair resolution: asymmetrical information. Asymmetrical information is just what it sounds like, It's when one side of a conflict has more or better information than the other. That information gives that side an advantage in both tactics and strategy. Now look at what Trump and Attorney General William Barr are doing, and have been doing, step by step, for months.

Trump hasn't voluntarily provided a witness to Congress since Democrats took control of the House in January. He hasn’t turned over one page of documentation. Instead, Trump has ordered witnesses not to obey requests. Then to ignore congressional subpoenas. Then to ignore contempt citations. He has even extended this denial to former members of his staff, to members and former members of other areas of the executive branch far removed from direct contact with his office, and to members of his transition team.

In addition to denying Congress witnesses, or documents subpoenaed along with those witnesses, Trump has sued Congress to prevent the release of his personal information. He has continued to challenge the outcomes of those lawsuits. And he has ordered members of his Cabinet and their staff to ignore plain law in refusing to hand over information.

Should the situation ever reach the point where the Supreme Court orders Trump to produce the information, there is little doubt about what he will do. After all, this week has been a vivid reminder that, according to the Department of Justice, Donald Trump cannot be indicted. So why should he listen to any court? Should any of the witnesses Congress is seeking to interview ever be found in contempt, Trump has an answer for that. He can pardon them, just as he has his other friends and political supporters. Or Barr can claim privilege. In any case … no one is talking.

The net result is that Congress is absolutely starved for information. Does the House seem indecisive and confused? Is there a frustrating schism within the Democratic Party? Yes. That’s because they are walking around in the dark, absolutely unable to get the information that usually fuels their decisions. Cautious representatives, used to checking every box in triplicate before making a move, feel suffocated by the lack of data, and frightened by the willingness of others to jump forward. In short, they’re afraid it’s all a trap. And it could be—both because they don’t have the information they want, and because Barr can create any information he wants.

July 25

Mueller Testimony Wednesday

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller pushes back in a testimony unlikely to change political dynamic, Ashley Parker, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey U.S. House logoand Mike DeBonis, July 25, 2019 (print ed.).The former special counsel spent more than two years ignoring taunts — tweeted and barked — from President Trump.

At two House hearings, he finally responded to the president.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats now have one option to end Trump’s presidency: The 2020 election, Dan Balz, July 25, 2019. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s congressional testimony on the Russia probe didn’t deliver the spark the Democrats wanted. That puts the onus on House leaders and heightens the stakes for next year’s presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A performance full of stumbles shakes a sterling Washington image, Marc Fisher, July 25, 2019 (print ed.). In what was likely to have been his final act on the national stage, Mueller’s halting testimony was at times painful to watch.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Five shaky or misleading claims made by lawmakers at the Mueller hearings, Salvador Rizzo and Glenn Kessler, July 25, 2019. Here’s a guide to some questionable claims, including a Republican talking point that crossed the line from spin to fiction.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nadler says he’s going to court in bid to enforce Mueller-related subpoenas, John Wagner, July 25, 2019. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that he is going to court Friday and again next week in bids to enforce subpoenas seeking grand jury information associated with the special counsel investigation and testimony from former White House counsel Donald McGahn.

jerrold nadler o SmallNadler, right, said favorable court orders on those matters would “open the floodgates” for enforcement of other subpoenas that he considers key to ongoing investigations of President Trump that have been stymied by White House’s refusal to cooperate.

Nadler said he will go to court later Friday in an effort to secure the grand jury information that was generated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible obstruction by Trump. The Justice Department has resisted turning over that material.

Legal Schnauzer, The big news on former special counsel Robert Mueller is not about yesterday's hearings; it's about a law professor's analysis that shows the Mueller Report is riddled with "historic" errors -- of both fact and law, Roger Shuler, July 25, 2019.  The most significant Robert Mueller news did not come yesterday when the former special counsel testified before two Congressional committees about his investigation of the Russia-Trump scandal. It came two weeks ago when a respected law professor showed the Mueller Report is riddled with errors, both of fact and law.

Jed Shugerman, a professor of law at Fordham University, wrote an article at the Daily Beast (dated July 10, 2019), titled Opinion: Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia. Sub-title on the article was "The special counsel will testify before Congress (in two weeks). He needs to answer for historic legal and factual errors."

We see no signs that any Democrat at yesterday's hearing questioned Mueller in a way that clarified the errors in his report. And according to Shugerman, the errors were many; in fact, Shugerman published a blog post yesterday morning that outlined at least 10 major errors in the Mueller Report.

How did these errors affect the public's ability to understand possible Trump-era criminality? Here's how Shugerman puts it in the Daily Beast article:

Ever since the release of the Mueller Report, countless commentators have implored everyone to just #ReadtheReport.

The problem is not who is reading it — the problem is the report itself, and its many errors.

Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and, based on the facts he found, he should have identified Trump campaign felonies.

Mueller’s errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president.

The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.

July 24

Mueller Testimony

robert mueller testifying flickr

Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, will be testifying on Capitol Hill. Getting an answer out of him is sometimes tricky, as past hearings have shown.

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Russian interference threatens 2020 election, Mueller warns, July 24, 2019. At a House committee hearing, Robert S. Mueller III (shown in a file photo) offered an impassioned plea for policymakers to address Russian meddling in the U.S. elections: “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.”

• At a separate hearing this morning, Republicans sharpened their attacks on Mueller, who declined some questions and gave terse answers to others. Former special counsel says he did not subpoena Trump because he knew it would delay probe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: What We Learned From Mueller’s 7 Hours on Capitol Hill, Nicholas Fandos, July 24, 2019.  After months of anticipation, Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, on Wednesday delivered nearly seven hours of dry, sometimes halting testimony before Congress. Republicans and Democrats sparred over his conclusions, but in back-to-back hearings, Mr. Mueller mostly reiterated the findings of his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election without offering any significant new disclosures.

Here are seven takeaways. 1) Mr. Mueller batted down President Trump’s claims about his report and threw a few barbs.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Rejects Trump’s ‘Witch Hunt’ Claims in Long-Awaited Testimony, Mark Mazzetti, July 24, 2019. Special Counsel Warns Russia Will Meddle Again.

Robert Mueller publicly rejected President Trump’s criticism of his Russia investigation and defended his report’s conclusions during two hearings. The partisan war over the inquiry reached a climax during Mr. Mueller’s testimony, even as lawmakers extracted little beyond what was in his report. But he occasionally offered opinions, including an assessment of whether the president’s written answers were truthful.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller says he could’ve subpoenaed Trump but declined because he knew Trump would fight it and prolong the Russia investigation, Staff report, July 24, 2019. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified publicly before two separate congressional panels Wednesday and for the first time addressed questions about his investigation of President Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The first hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), took place in the morning, and the second, before the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), took place in the afternoon.

This story is being reported by Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Shane Harris, Devlin Barrett, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Rachel Weiner.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller, in occasionally halting testimony, points to foreign interference and offers some sharp criticism of Trump, Devlin Barrett​, July 24, 2019.​ The former special counsel tried to avoid offering any new information as lawmakers peppered him with questions and statements. Related stories:

• Who is Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor mentioned at the hearing?
• Analysis: All the times Mueller objected to Congress’s interpretations of his report
• At a House committee hearing, Robert S. Mueller III offered an impassioned plea for policymakers to address Russian meddling in the U.S. elections: “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.”
• At a separate hearing this morning, Republicans sharpened their attacks on Mueller, who declined some questions and gave terse answers to others.

 washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: So this is why Mueller didn’t want to testify, Dana Milbank, right, July 24, 2019. For two years, he was the silent man behind the curtain, all-knowing and all-powerful, revered by Democrats, feared by President Trump.

But when he finally sat before Congress for nearly seven hours on Wednesday, the former special counsel seemed remarkably weak. He looked dazed and confused as he listened, mouth agape, to his questioners, often struggling to identify who was talking. He stammered, licked his lips, consulted his aide and begged forbearance.

Maybe the 74-year-old former FBI director had lost something off his fastball. Or maybe he simply felt hemmed in by so many restrictions — real and imagined — applied to his testimony by the Justice Department and by himself, that he couldn’t say anything at all. Whatever the reason, Republican lawmakers eviscerated him, assaulting his integrity and his ethics, questioning his political motivations, disparaging the FBI and even casting doubt on Russia’s interference in the election. Mueller offered little by way of defense and frequently absorbed the blows in silence.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump sounds like he needs his diaper changed tonight, Bill Palmer, July 24, 2019. We’re now just hours away from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s public testimony about his investigation into Donald Trump’s crimes. Trump seemed to think he’d snookered Mueller by having the DOJ demand that Mueller limit his testimony to strictly what’s in his redacted report. But now it turns out Mueller is the one who’s outfoxed Trump, and now Trump sounds like he needs his diaper changed.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday it was revealed that Robert Mueller is planning to have his chief of staff Aaron Zebley testify alongside him. That way, if Mueller is asked a question that he’s not allowed to answer, Zebley can answer it instead. While it’s not yet clear just how far Zebley will be willing to go when it comes to answering questions, it’s clear that Mueller is planning to put him to good use. Last night NBC News confirmed that House Democrats will swear in Zebley and allow him to testify under oath, over the objections of House Republicans.

Suffice it to say that Trump didn’t take the news well. When it first broke, he tweeted: “Just got back only to hear of a last minute change allowing a Never Trumper attorney to help Robert Mueller with his testimony before Congress tomorrow. What a disgrace to our system. donald trump twitterNever heard of this before. VERY UNFAIR, SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. A rigged Witch Hunt!”

Then three hours later, he posted a strangely similar tweet: “So Robert Mueller has now asked for his long time Never Trumper lawyer to sit beside him and help with answers. What’s this all about? His lawyer represented the “basement server guy” who got off free in the Crooked Hillary case. This should NOT be allowed. Rigged Witch Hunt!”

July 23

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department tells Mueller to not answer a wide swath of questions, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). The instructions are a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information about the former special counsel’s investigation when he testifies.

The Justice Department instructed former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in a letter Monday not to answer a wide variety of questions about his investigation of the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election — a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information or insights about the high-profile investigation when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in Monday’s letter that he was responding to a request earlier this month from Mueller for guidance on how to handle questions “concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with” subpoenas for Mueller’s congressional testimony.

The letter also notes that Mueller had resisted testifying and that “the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: With Three Simple Answers, Mueller Can Speak Volumes, Neal K. Katyal (shown at right, an acting solicitor general neal katyal oin the Obama administration), July 23, 2019 (print ed.). For those who have read it, the special counsel’s report speaks for itself. For those who haven’t, he can speak for it in Congress. There are just three simple yes-or-no questions Congress should ask Robert Mueller:

Mr. Mueller, the president said your report found, in his words, “no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.”

  • First, did your report find there was no collusion?
  • Second, did your report find there was no obstruction?
  • Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?

That’s it. That’s the ballgame.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: 19 Questions We Have for Mueller, Sharon LaFraniere, July 23, 2019 (print ed.). Many questions lingered after Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Before his highly anticipated congressional testimony this week, we pose some of our own questions.

U.S. House logoWere Robert S. Mueller III ever to tell the inside story of his investigation, much of America would likely come to a standstill to hear what he had to say. There is virtually no chance that will happen when he testifies for about five hours before two congressional committees this week.

It took weeks of negotiations just to persuade him to show up. He has already said that his testimony won’t go beyond what is in the 448-page report he delivered, and he urged people to read it.

Media / Mueller

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: The media is getting a second chance to cover Robert Mueller’s findings — and this time get it right, Margaret Sullivan, right, July 23, 2019. Wednesday’s hearing allows the press a rare do-over after taking William Barr at his word.

Child Protection

djt michael jackson

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Donald Trump and Michael Jackson: what they had in common is the obvious, Wayne Madsen, July 23, 2019 (subscription required). In 1989, a frequent guest at Donald and Ivana Trump’s residence in Trump Tower in Manhattan was pop star and notorious pedophile Michael Jackson (shown above with Trump)....

According to Ivana Trump’s book, Raising Trump, published in 2017, Jackson often had “playdates” with the Trump children, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, in the residence.

Trump Nuke Comment Riles Afghans

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I just don’t want to kill 10 million people’: Trump’s comments reverberate in Afghanistan, Jon Gerberg, July 23, 2019.  ​
Afghan officials were startled by President Trump’s comments that if he “wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth.”

Afghans were startled to hear President Trump’s remarks that he could end the war in Afghanistan “in a week” but that it would cause the deaths of millions of people.

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionThe office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday immediately asked for “clarification” about Trump’s statement “via diplomatic means and channels.”

“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth,” Trump said Monday. “It would be over in literally, in 10 days.” He did not elaborate on how that would be done.

Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore in a favored Mussolini-like pose) made the seemingly offhand comments during a White House meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in which the two discussed a number of bilateral issues, including ending the war in Afghanistan.

“We’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves. Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we’re policemen right now. And we’re not supposed to be policemen,” he said.

July 22

Mueller Testimony Wednesday

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department tells Mueller to not answer a wide swath of questions, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, July 22, 2019. The instructions are a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information about the former special counsel’s investigation when he testifies.

The Justice Department instructed former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in a letter Monday not to answer a wide variety of questions about his investigation of the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election — a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information or insights about the high-profile investigation when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in Monday’s letter that he was responding to a request earlier this month from Mueller for guidance on how to handle questions “concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with” subpoenas for Mueller’s congressional testimony.

The letter also notes that Mueller had resisted testifying and that “the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances.”

ny times logoNew York Times, In 88 Trips to Capitol Hill, Mueller Grew Weary of Partisanship, Noah Weiland, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). A review of Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony since 1990 offers insight into what kind of witness he will be at two House hearings this week. Over decades of congressional appearances, Mr. Mueller showed little patience for the politics and partisanship that came with legislative oversight.

Justice Department log circularDays after he was appointed special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III visited the Capitol to meet with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was conducting its own Russia investigation and needed to coordinate with his. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the committee’s chairman, came with a wisecrack.

You did well keeping the country safe as F.B.I. director, he told Mr. Mueller at the end of the meeting, a senator in the room recalled. But you never answered mail from us, Mr. Grassley said of a Congress that conducts much of its business on paper.

Mr. Mueller laughed. Just keep sending those letters, he replied. The lighthearted exchange hinted at a tension that has made Mr. Mueller a reluctant witness for two highly anticipated House hearings on the Russia investigation on Wednesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, 19 Questions We Have for Mueller, Sharon LaFraniere, July 22, 2019. Many questions lingered after Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Before his highly anticipated congressional testimony this week, we pose some of our own questions.

Were Robert S. Mueller III ever to tell the inside story of his investigation, much of America would likely come to a standstill to hear what he had to say. There is virtually no chance that will happen when he testifies for about five hours before two congressional committees this week. It took weeks of negotiations just to persuade him to show up. He has already said that his testimony won’t go beyond what is in the 448-page report he delivered, and he urged people to read it.

Budget, Debt-Limit Deal Reported

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump backs two-year budget deal that boosts spending, suspends debt limit, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, July 22, 2019. The bipartisan deal, which still must be passed through Congress, would clear a debt ceiling crisis later this year but would continue Washington’s borrowing binge for at least the next two years.

The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reached a tentative two-year budget deal Monday that would raise spending limits by $320 billion and suspend the federal debt ceiling until after the 2020 presidential election.

The agreement, which still must be passed by Congress, probably would prevent a debt-ceiling crisis later this year but also would continue Washington’s borrowing binge for at least two years.

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills,” President Trump tweeted Monday. “This was a real compromise to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

ny times logoNew York Times, In 88 Trips to Capitol Hill, Mueller Grew Weary of Partisanship, Noah Weiland, July 22, 2019 (print ed.). A review of Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony since 1990 offers insight into what kind of witness he will be at two House hearings this week. Over decades of congressional appearances, Mr. Mueller showed little patience for the politics and partisanship that came with legislative oversight.

Justice Department log circularDays after he was appointed special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III visited the Capitol to meet with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was conducting its own Russia investigation and needed to coordinate with his. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the committee’s chairman, came with a wisecrack.

You did well keeping the country safe as F.B.I. director, he told Mr. Mueller at the end of the meeting, a senator in the room recalled. But you never answered mail from us, Mr. Grassley said of a Congress that conducts much of its business on paper.

Mr. Mueller laughed. Just keep sending those letters, he replied. The lighthearted exchange hinted at a tension that has made Mr. Mueller a reluctant witness for two highly anticipated House hearings on the Russia investigation on Wednesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, 19 Questions We Have for Mueller, Sharon LaFraniere, July 22, 2019. Many questions lingered after Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Before his highly anticipated congressional testimony this week, we pose some of our own questions.

Were Robert S. Mueller III ever to tell the inside story of his investigation, much of America would likely come to a standstill to hear what he had to say. There is virtually no chance that will happen when he testifies for about five hours before two congressional committees this week. It took weeks of negotiations just to persuade him to show up. He has already said that his testimony won’t go beyond what is in the 448-page report he delivered, and he urged people to read it.

Remembering Muckraking Hoosier

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), WMR editor's email exchange with "suicided" Indiana political blogger Gary Welsh, Wayne Madsen (author and syndicated columnist), July 22, 2019 ($30 annual subscription required, excerpted here with permission). Indiana’s most well known political blogger, Gary Welsh, left, who had uncovered scandal after scandal in Indianapolis, was said to have committed suicide on May 1, 2016.

gary r welshIt was very odd timing. The Indiana Republican primary, which was a last presidential gasp for Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign, was on May 3. Indianapolis was crawling with national media, which rarely ever treads in the capital of the Hoosier State.

Although Welsh’s popular website, Advance Indiana, had a conservative bent, that did not dissuade Welsh, an attorney, from going after corruption wherever it was found, including the Republican-dominated state legislature and governor’s office. On April 29, two days before Welsh’s death, he posted the results of last-minute polling in Indiana on the campaigns of Donald Trump, Cruz, and Governor John Kasich from the neighboring state of Ohio.

WMR has recovered some of the emails the editor exchanged with Welsh. Our exchanges were similar to those I had with Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Gary Webb just prior to his “suicide” in California in 2004. For the first time the emails with Welsh are being revealed.

...

Muckraking reporters like Welsh were once the rule and not the exception in American journalism. Although nationally-syndicated investigators like Drew Pearson, Jack Anderson, and H. L. Mencken received all the kudos, it was the local and state reporters, those like Welsh and Webb, who actually helped clean up public and corporate corruption.

Jeffrey Epstein's Image Rehab

Daily Mail, Jeffrey Epstein partied with Trump's closest advisers including Wilbur Ross, Rudy Giuliani, and Steve Mnunchin at dinner hosted by David Koch just TWO MONTHS after his release from prison, July 22, 2019 (updated from July 21).

  • Jeffrey Epstein, 66, attended a screening and dinner party back in August 2010 for the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in Southampton.
  • The dinner was at the home of David and Julia Koch, and Epstein can be seen in photos chatting with attendees after Peggy Siegal put wilbur rosshim on the guest list
  • 'He was chatting to Jonathan Farklas, Leon Black and Wilbur Ross [right]. He was sitting right near Rudy Giuliani,' wrote Page Six at the time
    Steve Mnuchin was also present, as were designers Tory Burch and Tamara Mellon and billionaires Steven Schwarzman and Henry Kravis
  • Epstein should have been registered as a sex offender in New York at the time but it is unclear if he was as his hearing was not until 2011

Jeffrey Epstein hobnobbed with high-profile guests from the worlds of politics, banking, Hollywood and philanthropy at a Hamptons party just two months after his release by the state of Florida for soliciting a minor. Photos from a 2010 dinner party at the home of David and Julia Koch obtained by DailyMail.com show Epstein as he chats with guests after a screening of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

steven mnuchin wAmong those guests were two men who currently serve in President Trump's cabinet and his most trusted legal adviser.

Steve Mnuchin,left, and his then-wife Heather, Rudy Giuliani, right, and his then-wife Judith and Wilbur Ross all attended the rudy giuliani recentscreening and dinner that followed at the Koch's.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about those who attended the event a few days later, and in the piece noted that Giuliani 'walked out of the theater around the same time as Jeffrey Epstein, leading one observer to remark on the "beautifully done meeting of the prosecutor and the felon."'

July 21

Trump Watch

washington post logoDonald Trump and Mike Pence logoWashington Post, ‘He always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by Trump’s racist tweets, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker and Seung Min Kim, July 21, 2019 (print ed.). As is often the case, President Trump acted alone last Sunday when he fired off a trio of racist tweets — impulsively following his gut to the dark side of American politics, and now the country would have to pick up the pieces.

July 20

Trump's Race-Baiting

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls rally crowd ‘patriots,’ a day after distancing himself from chant, John Wagner​, July 20, 2019 (print ed.).  The president stepped back from yesterday's claim that he was unhappy with the crowd's chant of "Send her back!" — a message nearly identical to one of his own tweets — and returned to criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

• Washington Post, Analysis: The lesson of Ivanka Trump’s latest reported intervention with her father

Mueller Hearings

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Hearings Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats, Nicholas Fandos, July 20, 2019. For more than two years, Democrats have hoped that Robert S. Mueller III would show the nation that President Trump is unfit for office — or at the very least, severely damage his re-election prospects. On Wednesday, in back-to-back hearings with the former special counsel, that wish could face its final make-or-break moment.

U.S. House logoLawmakers choreographing the hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees warn that bombshell disclosures are unlikely.

FBI logoBut over about five hours of nationally televised testimony, they hope to use Mr. Mueller, the enigmatic and widely respected former F.B.I. director, to refashion his legalistic 448-page report into a vivid, compelling narrative of Russia’s attempts to undermine American democracy, the Trump campaign’s willingness to accept Kremlin assistance and the president’s repeated and legally dubious efforts to thwart investigators.

For a party divided over how to confront Mr. Trump — liberals versus moderates, supporters of impeachment versus staunch opponents — the stakes could scarcely be higher.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Prepare for Showdown and Counsel a Light Touch, Nicholas Fandos, July 20, 2019.  House Republicans have attacked Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but when it comes to his testimony, many are advocating a gentler approach.

Trump's Regime

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asserts no one should criticize the U.S. as he resumes attacks on four legislators, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, July 20, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should criticize the United States while he is president, part of a renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has targeted as un-American.

Trump also praised his supporters who chanted at a rally, “Send her back!,” a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, ­Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president called the campaign crowd “incredible patriots” — a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.

Trump’s shift Friday was reminiscent of how he responded to the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville in August 2017. He initially denounced the bigotry and hatred, then issued a stronger statement calling the racism practiced by hate groups “evil,” but the next day he spoke of “very fine people on both sides.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What do ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Send her back’ have in common? It’s pretty obvious, Monica Hesse, July 20, 2019. In the Trump vernacular, any woman could become a woman who should be locked up or sent back.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Yazidi woman from Iraq told Trump that ISIS killed her family. ‘Where are they now?’ he asked, Colby Itkowitz, July 20, 2019 (print ed.). When President Trump this week met human rights activist Nadia Murad, an Iraqi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for speaking out about her agonizing torture and rape while in Islamic State captivity, he seemed unaware of her story and the plight of her Yazidi ethnic minority.

For several minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Murad stood beside a seated Trump, who mostly avoided eye contact with Murad, and implored the president to help her community return to Iraq. She explained that the Islamic State, or ISIS, may be gone but that Iraqis and Kurds are fighting for control over Yazidi lands.

“If I cannot go to my home and live in a safe place and get my dignity back, this is not about ISIS,” she said, her voice breaking. “It’s about I’m in danger. My people cannot go back.”

Murad, who lives in Germany, told Trump that she never wanted to be a refu­gee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers.

July 20

VISUP, Epstein's Little Black Book, Staff (non-public), July 19, 2019. A reader kindly provided me with a link to disgraced financier and alleged pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's "little black book" on the recent post I did concerning the parapolitics behind this latest scandal. The contents of this little black book were originally posted on Gawker by the great Nick Bryant (author of The Franklin Scandal). That post can be found here while a more legible list of the names can be accessed here.

Through these links I was able to determine that Edgar Bronfman Jr. did in fact appear in Epstein's black book, as was briefly discussed in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." Bronfman Jr. is the brother of the two Bronfman heirs implicated in the NXIVM cult overseen by now-keith raniere nxivmconvicted pedophile Keith Raniere, left.

Naturally, Bronfman is but one of several interesting names to appear in Epstein's little black book. As such, I shall provide a brief assessment of several of the most noteworthy names and briefly address the significance behind them in this particular post. While many of these names are hardly surprising, several appear to provide a glimpse into the networks behind Epstein's pedophile ring. Several trace back to an early sex scandal from nearly six decades ago that appears to be one of the crucial deep events of the past century.

And with that in mind, on to the names.....

And then there is the enigmatic Maxwell family. Ghisliane Maxwell has frequently been described as Epstein's madam and implicated in robert maxwell with papers filesexual abuse along with the billionaire financier. And yet, she was not faced any charges as yet. Her father, Robert Maxwell, right, appears to have had a decades-spanning association with multiple intelligence services, including MI6, the KGB, the CIA, and especially the Mossad.

....

And then there's Trump and Cohn. Both men are closely linked to the old American Security Council (ASC) network. Throughout the Cold War, the ASC was essentially Le Cercle's American counterpart. Virtually every major American defense contractor contributed to the ASC, while its membership rolls were loaded with former high ranking military and intelligence officers. Like Le Cercle, it was both a think tank and a private intelligence network. Much more information on the ASC can be found here.

djt roy cohn youtube screenshotWhile Roy Cohn (at right of Trump in file photo) never joined the ASC, he was a member of the Western Goals Foundation, a private intelligence foundation that tracked the Left in the United States. Western Goals was closely aligned with the ASC and there was much overlap in the membership. As such, it should come as little surprise that Trump's political rise has been greatly aided by the old ASC network (noted here and here).

Even less surprising is that there was much overlap between the ASC and Le Cercle as well. While Britons and Americans were not officially allowed into the group until the late 1960s (Le Cercle was initially a German and French venture), the Cercle complex already appears to have established overtures with the ASC network by the early part of that decade. It was around this same time that the ASC network also began to forge ties with many of the future Cercle Britons (noted before here).

July 19

DOJ's Whitewash of Trump's Election Scandal?

Palmer Report, Analysis: Michael Cohen sounds the alarm, Bill Palmer, July 19, 2019.  Yesterday, the Feds at the SDNY unsealed court documents showing that Donald Trump was indeed behind the criminal conspiracy to have Michael Cohen (below right) illegally pay off Stormy Daniels during the election. The documents also stated that Trump adviser Hope Hicks, and people in the Trump Organization, were deeply involved in the conspiracy. Yet the SDNY also announced that it’s not bringing further criminal charges.

bill palmer report logo headerIf this sounds confusing and fishy to you, it turns out you’re not the only one. Michael Cohen, who is currently in prison after having pleaded guilty to his role in the campaign finance scandal, released this statement, as relayed by NBC News: “The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice.”

michael cohen ap file croppedMeanwhile, MSNBC is reporting that the Department of Justice is refusing to say whether or not Attorney General William Barr was involved in the decision not to bring any criminal charges. Trump’s DOJ has a standing policy that a sitting president can’t be indicted. But there’s more than enough in the court filing to convince a grand jury to indict Hicks (though she’s insisting today that she wasn’t involved), and to bring indictments against various others.

One school of thought is that because the SDNY isn’t allowed to indict Donald Trump at this time, it’s waiting until he’s out of office before charging everyone involved, due to the greater odds of achieving conspiracy convictions when the charges are brought simultaneously. The other school of thought is that Trump and/or Barr is forcing the SDNY not to bring charges against Trump’s people that it wanted to bring. Michael Cohen is right to sound the alarm.

 

Trump Race-Baiting

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Disavows ‘Send Her Back’ Chant as G.O.P. Frets Over Ugly Phrase, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Maggie Haberman Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoand Michael Crowley, July 19, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump was urged by senior Republicans and Ivanka Trump to repudiate the chant that his supporters directed at Representative Ilhan Omar. Mr. Trump said he was “not happy” with the behavior and claimed that he had tried to contain it, an assertion contradicted by video.

New York Times, Here’s what Mr. Trump has claimed about Ms. Omar, and what we know.

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Anxious Democratic Governors Urge Candidates Not to Veer Left, Jonathan Martin, July 19, 2019. They are especially concerned about some presidential contenders’ proposals to eliminate private health insurance. After claiming governorships from Republicans in seven states last year, including in crucial presidential battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Michigan, Democratic governors should have good reason to celebrate.

democratic donkey logoBut there was as much anxiety as optimism when the governors gathered for their annual fund-raising retreat on Nantucket last weekend and grappled with why a party that won with a pragmatic message in 2018 is now veering sharply to the left.

Some governors are alarmed that their party’s presidential candidates are embracing policies they see as unrealistic and politically risky. And they are especially concerned about proposals that would eliminate private health insurance.

Trump Aide Indicted On Kiddie Porn Charges

george nader c span

Politico, Businessman who testified in Mueller probe indicted on child pornography charges, Josh Gerstein, July 19, 2019. A wealthy Lebanese-American businessman and Middle East expert who was a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation has been indicted on charges of importing child pornography and traveling with a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

George Nader, 60, made a brief appearance Friday morning in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, to be arraigned on the new george nader djtindictment, which was returned July 3 and unsealed Friday.

Nader (a Trump-Pence 20`16 campaign advisor shown in file photo with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago) was involved in various meetings and discussions related to the Trump presidential transition which drew the attention of Mueller investigators, including a meeting that Erik Prince, the founder of private military contractor Blackwater, held with a Russian ally of President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January 2017.

When Nader flew into Dulles Airport outside Washington in January 2018, he was questioned by agents working for Mueller. A search of three iPhones seized from him that day via a search warrant allegedly turned up child pornography.

rnc logoProsecutors filed a criminal complaint against Nader over the images in April 2018, but kept the charges under seal and never told his attorneys about them even as he continued to cooperate with Mueller's probe, lawyers said.

Nader was arrested on the criminal complaint early last month at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York as he flew in from overseas. Magistrate judges in New York and Alexandria denied his requests for release.

Nader was wearing an Alexandria jail jumpsuit Friday for the five-minute hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema Friday morning. She set a trial date of Sept. 30.

A defense attorney for Nader, Jonathan Jeffress, urged Brinkema to reconsider the earlier orders to detain Nader pending trial. "This is not a typical child pornography case," Jeffress told Brinkema. However, the judge said she wasn't inclined to let Nader out.

"I think the decision to detain your client was appropriate," Brinkema said, noting Nader's extensive overseas connections, the type of conduct at issue and the potential for a lengthy prison sentence.

Trump Threatens $10b Amazon.com Bid

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says He May Intervene in Huge Pentagon Contract Sought by Amazon, Scott Shane and Karen Weise, July 18, 2019. President Trump said on Thursday that he was looking “very seriously” at intervening in the hard-fought commercial battle for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract for which Amazon, a company he has frequently attacked, is seen as the leading contender.

amazon logo smallFor the president to weigh in on the award of a major government contract would be highly unusual, raising questions of improper political influence, but the stakes are high and Amazon’s competitors have been lobbying aggressively. Mr. Trump has long carried on a one-sided feud with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, over some of the company’s business washington post logoactivities and also over what the president refers to as “The Amazon Washington Post,” though Mr. Bezos owns the newspaper personally, not as a corporate asset.

Asked by reporters about the contract known as JEDI, for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, Mr. Trump said he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon.”

“They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” he said.

In fact, the contract has not yet been awarded and has been the subject of a monthslong competition involving Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. Pentagon officials decided in April that only Amazon and Microsoft had the capacity to meet the military’s requirements, and they have said they expect to choose the winner in late August.

jeffrey bezos washington postJeff Bezos, shown in a file photo and the founder of Amazon, which has been competing with Microsoft, Oracle and IBM for the Defense Department contract. Mr. Trump called JEDI “a very big contract, one of the biggest ever,” and noted that he had heard “complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM.”

“Great companies are complaining about it,” he said, “so we’re going to take a look at it. We’ll take a very strong look at it.” He did not repeat his longstanding criticism of Amazon or Mr. Bezos.

As part of his regular attacks on the news media, Mr. Trump has often targeted The Post by lumping it with Amazon. He has also claimed that Amazon has unfairly exploited the United States Postal Service and has not paid its fair share of taxes.

Steve Kelman, a former federal procurement official now at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said it would be improper for any president to influence the contracting process. “It’s not appropriate and it’s definitely not typical for a president to intervene on a contract,” he said. “That should be left to the Civil Service.”

July 18

U.S. 'Rule of Law'

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A ‘Train Wreck’ Was Averted at the Supreme Court, but for How Long? Linda Greenhouse (shown on the cover linda greenhouse cover just a journalistof her memoir Just A Journalist), July 18, 2019. While the rule of law prevailed in the census case, it still hangs by a thread.

The poison emanating from the White House in recent days has been so overwhelming that it’s hard to remember that something else held the country in thrall just a week ago: the prospect that President Trump would defy the Supreme Court and insist on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

There’s a strong temptation to extract a triumphalist narrative from the president’s grim-faced and rant-filled surrender last Thursday. After all, didn’t the rule of law prevail — and perhaps even emerge stronger for having been so sorely tested? Didn’t the country dodge a “constitutional train wreck,” as Harry Litman, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official in the Clinton administration, wrote in The Washington Post the next day?

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Michael Cohen scandal just exploded – and now it involves Hope Hicks, Bill Palmer, July 18, 2019.  hope hicks djtThis week the Feds at the SDNY announced that they aren’t seeking any additional criminal charges in the investigation into Michael Cohen’s illegal payoff to Stormy Daniels. Some legal experts pointed out that this may simply be because the SDNY wants to wait until Donald Trump is out of office so it can simultaneously charge everyone involved with conspiracy. In any case, a judge just forced the entire investigation to be made public – and it’s a

bill palmer report logo headerThe documents unsealed in court this morning prove what everyone already basically knew: “Individual 1” Donald Trump was behind the payoff from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels. Trump orchestrated the entire criminal plot to keep Daniels silenced during the election, committing a felony campaign finance violation in the process. In other words, Trump committed the same crime that Cohen is currently rotting in prison for. But that’s just the half of it.

The court documents also reveal that Donald Trump’s former adviser Hope Hicks was also knee-deep in criminally conspiring with Trump and Cohen to make the payoff happen. This of course raises the question of why Hicks hasn’t been indicted and arrested. Is William Barr personally blocking the SDNY from doing so, or is the SDNY waiting until Trump is out of office because it’s easier to obtain convictions on conspiracy when everyone is charged and tried at once? We’ll see.

1100 Pennsylvania, Judges deciding Trump Org suits on partisan lines, Zach Everson, July 18, 2019. Judges are ruling along party lines in emoluments, unfair competition, and House investigation suits involving Trump’s businesses. In lawsuits regarding the emoluments clauses, an unfair competition claim, and House committee investigations involving the Trump Organization, judges appointed by Republican presidents have sided with President Donald J. Trump 100 percent of the time when deciding whether to dismiss a case or allow it to proceed. And with just one exception, jurists picked by Democratic presidents have always ruled against Trump on those same matters.

This finding is per 1100 Pennsylvania’s analysis of the cases and investigations it tracks that are related to the president’s businesses. And Based on other journalists’ accounts of oral arguments in two cases currently being reviewed by appeals courts, this partisan trend looks likely to continue.

July 17

Trump Impeachment Vote

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to kill impeachment resolution against Trump, avoiding a direct vote on whether to oust the president, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, July 17, 2019. House has voted to scuttle the impeachment resolution. The vote is likely to rankle the Democratic Party’s left wing, which has been pushing for Trump’s impeachment. The House vote today, spurred by Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), is likely to fail. Democratic leaders are expected to use a procedural vote to effectively kill the resolution.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason House Democrats tabled Donald Trump’s impeachment today, Bill Palmer, July 17, 2019. Yesterday, House Democrats passed a resolution condemning Donald Trump for being a racist. Today, they formally held Trump’s co-conspirators William Barr and Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt. It’s clear that momentum is picking up. Yet when Democratic Congressman Al Green tried to initiate impeachment against Trump today, House Democrats voted to table it – and the vote wasn’t even close. There’s a reason for this, and it has nothing to do with what the alarmists on television and social media are yelling.

bill palmer report logo headerThis is not a sign that impeachment will never happen. It’s not a sign that House Democrats aren’t doing anything. It’s not even a sign that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is fundamentally opposed to impeachment (and for the record, she never said as much, no matter how many times the media misquotes her). What actually happened today is that Al Green jumped the gun – and if his motion had succeeded, it would have actually reduced the odds of Trump’s ouster.

There’s a reason Democratic House leaders keep punting on impeachment. Once they formally start the process, they’ll be on the hook to lay out the criminal case against Donald Trump for all to see. There’s a good amount to go on right now, including the unredacted versions of the Mueller report. But as we speak, House Democrats are in court fighting battles to force the witnesses to Trump’s obstruction to publicly testify against him. The Democrats are also in court fighting to obtain Trump’s tax returns and other records from various banks.

This is the kind of evidence that House Democrats need in order to make the kind of impeachment case that can actually finish Donald Trump off, as opposed to an impeachment case right now that would get them nowhere and would only end up emboldening Trump going forward. This is why the Democrats tabled Al Green’s impeachment motion today. Even many of the House Democrats who are in favor of impeachment are aware that jumping the gun right now would make Trump stronger, not weaker. The time for impeachment, if it’s going to happen, is after the court battles are won. That’s not how the process should work, but it is how the process works.

 House v. Trump

ny times logoNew York Times, The House voted to condemn Mr. Trump’s language as racist, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, July 17, 2019 (print ed.).  The House voted on Tuesday to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks against four congresswomen of color, but only after the debate U.S. House logoover the president’s language devolved into a bitterly partisan brawl that showcased deep rifts over race, ethnicity and political ideology in the age of Trump.

john lewis officialThe measure, the first House rebuke of a president in more than 100 years, passed nearly along party lines, 240 to 187, after one of the most polarizing exchanges on the floor in recent times. Only four Republicans and the House’s lone independent, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, voted with all Democrats to condemn the president.

“I know racism when I see it, I know racism when I feel it, and at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” said Representative John Lewis, left, Democrat of Georgia, an icon of the civil rights movement.

Some Republicans were just as adamant in their defense of Mr. Trump: “What has really happened here is that the president and his supporters have been forced to endure months of allegations of racism,” said Representative Dan Meuser, Republican of Pennsylvania. “This ridiculous slander does a disservice to our nation.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are the four Republicans who broke with their party, and other takeaways from the vote, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, July 17, 2019 (print ed.). The House, in a stunning rebuke of a sitting president, voted on Tuesday to “strongly condemn” President Trump’s suggestion that four freshman Democratic women of color “go home” — a Twitter broadside described in a Democratic resolution as “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans.”

The extraordinary vote came after an afternoon of vitriolic debate that erupted into a floor fight over remarks by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which were “taken down” — ruled out of order by her No. 2 Democrat, Representative Steny H. Hoyer.

will hurd headshotOnly four Republicans — Representatives Will Hurd of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Susan W. Brooks of Indiana — broke with their party to vote against Mr. Trump. They were joined by Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently abandoned the Republican Party to become an independent. Each had his or her reasons.
Official rebukes of the president by Congress are exceedingly rare — and difficult to track because the language of House and Senate resolutions varies.

Beyond the two presidents who were impeached — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, neither of whom was removed from office — there have been only four congressional votes to approve resolutions aimed at censuring or condemning a president, according to a 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Sets the 2020 Tone: Like 2016, Only This Time ‘the Squad’ Is Here, Jeremy W. Peters, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 17, 2019 (print ed.).With three days of attacks on four liberal, minority freshman congresswomen, President Trump and the Republicans have sent the clearest signal yet that their approach to 2020 will be a racially divisive reprise of the strategy that helped Mr. Trump narrowly capture the White House in 2016.

nancy pelosi oIt is the kind of fight that the president relishes. He has told aides, in fact, that he is pleased with the Democratic reaction to his attacks, boasting that he is “marrying” the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, and the Democratic Party to the four congresswomen known as “the Squad.”

His efforts to stoke similar cultural and racial resentments during the 2018 midterm elections with fears of marauding immigrant caravans backfired as his party lost control of the House. But he is undeterred heading into his re-election campaign, betting that he can cast the entire Democratic Party as radical and un-American.

July 16

Trump Goes Racist

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out ahead of House vote to condemn his racist tweets, John Wagner and Mike DeBonis​,July 16, 2019. ​The president insisted his tweets were not racist and urged fellow Republicans not to fall into a “trap” by voting on the Democratic-backed resolution.

U.S. House logoAs the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a resolution condemning President Trump’s racist tweets about four minority lawmakers, he lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.

In a string of tweets throughout the morning, Trump also insisted his tweets were not racist — “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” he wrote — and urged fellow Republicans not to fall into a “trap” by voting Tuesday night on the Democratic-backed resolution.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”

His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers — a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.

Trump has not spelled out what specific comments from the congresswomen that he finds objectionable, and the White House has declined to provide more details.

Four Democratic congresswomen of color responded July 15 to President Trump's tweets saying they should "go back" to the countries they came from. (Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

Trump has been accused of racially inflammatory rhetoric both before and after assuming the presidency, including his questioning of former president Barack Obama’s birthplace, his assessment that there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly confrontation in Charlottesville and his musing that a federal judge could be biased against him given his Mexican heritage.

The resolution scheduled for a vote Tuesday night “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

With his tweets Tuesday, Trump made clear that he doesn’t want Republicans to support the resolution. Doing so, he said, would “show ‘weakness.’”

At a news conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he would vote against the resolution and encourage other Republicans to vote against it as well. McCarthy said he did not consider Trump’s tweets to be racist.

“I believe this is about ideology,” he said. “It’s about socialism versus freedom.”

The complete list of GOP lawmakers reacting to Trump’s “go back” tweet View Graphic 

Tuesday’s vote will be a rare occasion when members of a Republican caucus that is overwhelming white and male will be forced to go on the record regarding Trump’s controversial rhetoric. During Trump’s first two and a half years in office, many lawmakers in his party have gone to great lengths to avoid criticizing him.

Meanwhile, the rebuke of Trump presents an opportunity for the Democratic caucus to unite around a common aim at a time when there has been infighting between Pelosi and the four liberal lawmakers informally known as “the Squad” on Capitol Hill.

“We’ve got to say something,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.). “I think we would be complicit as a Congress if we didn’t speak out on this. All of us, people of color in my generation, we’ve heard the ‘go back to Africa’ stuff since I was a little boy growing up down in Texas. So we have to say something.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump digs into attack on minority lawmakers, demands apology, John Wagner​, July 16, 2019 (print ed.). The president called on a group of minority congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and to him a day after he tweeted that they should “go back” to their countries.

President Trump on Monday called on a group of minority, liberal congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and him and accused them of “racist hatred” a day after he said in inflammatory tweets that they Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)should “go back” to their countries.

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” Trump said in new tweets Monday. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”

He later criticized Democrats for coming to defense of the congresswomen, who he claimed had shown “racist hatred” in their speech and are “very unpopular & unrepresentative.”

alexandria ocasio cortez officialWith his latest tweets. Trump dug in further on a line of attack that was widely condemned by Democrats as racist and employed a tactic he has used before: accusing his opponents of the same transgressions for which they have criticized ayanna pressley twitterhim.

Trump’s tweets appeared to target four outspoken freshmen lawmakers who have been feuding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass., right), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y., shown at left) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.).

Only one of them — Omar — was born outside the United States.

Commentary On GOP Racism As Tool

lee atwater graphic

paul krugmanny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Racism Comes Out of the Closet, Paul Krugman, right, July 16, 2019. The dog whistle days are apparently over.

In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. “You start out in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’” But by the late 1960s, “that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights,’ and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

This should be a moment of truth for anyone who describes Trump as a “populist” or asserts that his support is based on “economic anxiety.” He’s not a populist, he’s a white supremacist. His support rests not on economic anxiety, but on racism.

And since we’re having this moment of clarity, there are several other points we should address. First, this isn’t just about Trump; it’s about his whole party....

July 15

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal just got even worse, Bill Palmer, right, July 15, 2019. Donald Trump has forced the past few days’ biggest headlines to be about his psychotic racist attacks on certain Democratic Congresswomen, because he just keeps pushing the issue in increasingly deranged fashion. It’s not difficult to figure out what set Trump off to begin with and prompted him to lash out, and it has nothing to do with the people he’s attacking.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump’s friend Jeffrey Epstein, ight, was arrested nine days ago on charges of sex trafficking of minors. Since that time we’ve seen various major news outlets begin reporting on the wild parties that Trump and Epstein allegedly threw together back in the day. We’ve also seen Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta forced to resign because he’s the one who let Epstein off the hook a decade ago to begin with – raising questions about why Trump then rewarded Acosta with the cabinet position.

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019It’s clear that one way or the other, the Epstein scandal is going to land back on Donald Trump’s doorstep. Even if Trump didn’t participate in Epstein’s crimes, Trump is clearly involved in the attempted coverup. Trump may have begun his racist attacks on the Congresswomen as a calculated attempt at creating a distraction, but he’s since taken it so far beyond the pale, and he’s so out of control, it’s clear that he’s acting out because he’s exasperated and scared – and he should be.

Last week Palmer Report told you about how Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes weren’t limited to just New York and Florida, as they also involved his ranch in New Mexico. Sure enough, Epstein’s ranch is now part of the investigation. The expansion of the Epstein probe comes even as more victims continue to come forward in light of his arrest. Again, we don’t know what Trump’s role in this scandal is. But Trump knows, and his behavior tells us that he’s very worried about how the Epstein scandal is expanding.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump digs into attack on minority lawmakers, demands apology, John Wagner​, July 15, 2019. The president called on a group of minority congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and to him a day after he tweeted that they should “go back” to their countries.

U.S. House logoPresident Trump on Monday called on a group of minority, liberal congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and him and accused them of “racist hatred” a day after he said in inflammatory tweets that they should “go back” to their countries.

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” Trump said in new tweets Monday. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”

He later criticized Democrats for coming to defense of the congresswomen, who he claimed had shown “racist hatred” in their speech and are “very unpopular & unrepresentative.”

alexandria ocasio cortez officialWith his latest tweets. Trump dug in further on a line of attack that was widely condemned by Democrats as racist and employed a tactic he has used before: accusing his opponents of the same transgressions for which they have criticized him.

Trump’s tweets appeared to target four outspoken freshmen lawmakers who have been feuding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y., shown at left) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.).

Only one of them — Omar — was born outside the United States.

daily beast logoe jean carroll headshotDaily Beast, E. Jean Carroll Is ‘Exploring’ Legal Action Against Trump, Alaina Demopoulos and Tasia Jensen, July 15, 2019. The advice columnist and writer, right, who accused Trump of sexual assault last month, wants to “hire a really smart attorney” to find a way to “get around” the statute of limitations.

Trump Forbids Aide's Testimony

washington post logoWashington Post,Trump tells Kellyanne Conway to ignore congressional subpoena, White House says, Rachael Bade​, July 15, 2019. Conway had been asked to testify before House Oversight Committee about a government watchdog’s findings that she violated the Hatch Act dozens of times.

kellyanne conway djtWhite House counselor Kellyanne Conway,  right, will ignore a congressional subpoena at the request of President Trump, refusing to testify about a government watchdog’s findings that she broke the law dozens of times, the White House said Monday.

Last month, the House Oversight Committee authorized a subpoena for Conway after special counsel Henry Kerner said she blatantly violated the Hatch Act, a law that bars federal employees from engaging in politics during work.

“We’re not requiring her to testify about advice she gave the president or about the White House policy decisions. . . . We are requiring her to testify before Congress about her multiple violations of federal law,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the committee, said at a session Monday. “This is bigger than just the Hatch Act. . . . This is about holding our government to the highest standard and not allowing [Trump officials to have] special treatment when they flagrantly violate the law.”

July 14

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump has completely unhinged psychotic racist meltdown, Bill Palmer, July 14, 2019. This past week Donald Trump lost his census battle and lost his Secretary of Labor, even as his Jeffrey Epstein scandal and his concentration camp scandal grew worse for him. So naturally, Trump did what he always does in these situations: he woke up today and tried to create a distraction. But this time around, Trump took things deep into the gutter even by his low standards.

donald trump twitterHere’s what Donald Trump tweeted:

“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

bill palmer report logo headerTo be clear, Trump is referring to the four freshman House Democrats who have been garnering a number of headlines this week. None of them are white. For that reason alone, Trump is telling them to “go back” to where they came from, even though three out of the four of them were born in the United States. This means Trump is being equal parts racist and clueless. In Trump’s xenophobic mind, based on ethnicity alone, these four women must be foreigners.

U.S. House logoAlso, the four of them are talking about how the “government is to be run” because they were elected to Congress, and their job is literally to help determine how the government is to be run. Trump doesn’t appear to understand that when nonwhite people get elected to office, they have the same say as white people elected to office.

Because Donald Trump went so far beyond the pale with his latest hideous racist meltdown, it’ll receive a lot of negative attention, as it should. But then that’s his goal: Trump wants us to focus on his horrid words, so we’ll focus less on his horrid actions, horrid scandals, horrid crimes, and horrid illegitimate presidency.

July 13

OPUS 167, Opinion: Mossad Epstein Connection, Steve Pieczenik (an American writer, former United States Department of State official, psychiatrist, and publisher.), July 13, 2019 (7:18 mins). Israel's intelligence agency, The Mossad, is behind Jeffrey Epstein's crimes.

"Israel not our greatest ally, they're our greatest enemy....The heroes of this picture are not only Trump and the White House [but others exposing corrupt U.S. intelligence agencies].... Israel has been placed on notice....As a Jew, I am not proud of what Jews have done."

mossad seal CustomMore from Pieczenik Wikipedia bio: Dr. Pieczenik was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance and James Baker.[2] His expertise includes foreign policy, international crisis management and psychological warfare.[6] He served the presidential administrations of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the capacity of deputy assistant secretary.[7]

In 1974, Pieczenik joined the United States Department of State as a consultant to help in the restructuring of its Office for the Prevention of Terrorism. In 1976, Pieczenik was made Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for management. At the Department of State, he served as a "specialist on hostage taking". He has been credited with devising successful negotiating strategies and tactics used in several high-profile hostage situations, including the 1976 TWA Flight 355 hostage situation and the 1977 kidnapping of the son of Cyprus' president.

As a renowned psychiatrist, he was utilized as a press source for early information on the mental state of the hostages involved in the Iran hostage crisis after they were freed. In 1977, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mary McGrory described Stephen Pieczenik as "one of the most 'brilliantly competent' men in the field of terrorism."

July 12

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

virgina roberts dog

Virginia Roberts, above, was working at Mar-a-Lago when she was recruited to be a masseuse to Palm Beach hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein.She was lured into a life of depravity and sexual abuse. By Emily Michot | Julie K. Brown

miami herald logoMiami Herald, New victims come forward as Epstein asks to be released from jail to his Manhattan mansion, Julie K. Brown and David Smiley, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). Jeffrey Epstein’s victims At least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein even as the multimillionaire money manager tries to convince a federal judge to allow him to await a sex trafficking trial from the comfort of the same $77 million Manhattan mansion where he’s accused of luring teenage girls into unwanted sex acts.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University Following Epstein’s arrest Saturday in New Jersey, four women have reached out to New York lawyer David Boies, and at least 10 other women have approached other lawyers who have represented dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims in the past.

Jack Scarola, a Palm Beach attorney, said at least five women, all of whom were minors at the time of their alleged encounters with Epstein, have reached out to either him or Fort Lauderdale lawyer Brad Edwards.

perversion of justice miami herald logo“The people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation,’’ Scarola said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has bizarre meltdown on White House lawn after Alexander Acosta resigns, Bill Palmer, July 12, 2019. After Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta tried and failed to convince the public that he wasn’t at fault in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Trump began leaking things about Acosta in order to force him out. That meant Acosta’s resignation was inevitable, and sure enough, it finally happened today. Trump decided he had to be the star of the show as usual, and it didn’t exactly go well for him.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump announced today on Twitter that “Alex Acosta informed me this morning that he felt the constant drumbeat of press about a prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago was bad for the Administration, which he so strongly believes in, and he graciously tendered his resignation.” Okay, so we knew where this was headed even before Trump stood next to Alex Acosta today on the White House lawn while speaking to reporters. Actually, even we didn’t think it would go quite this stupidly.

Trump bent over backward to try to praise Acosta, saying “He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard.” Wait, what? This was such a jarringly bizarre remark, “He’s a Hispanic” ended up trending on Twitter as everyone began commenting in disbelief. This is a classic example of a racist man like Trump trying to say something that he thinks will cover up his racism, but only makes it worse. Also, Trump is probably showing his frustration over the fact that he had a token Hispanic man in his racist administration, and now he’s going to need to find another one.

In any case, Alexander Acosta is now gone from the Donald Trump regime. The question going forward is whether Trump’s decision to sacrifice Acosta will be enough for the media and the public to feel satisfied, or if they’ll keep pushing to get to the bottom of the Epstein scandal and expose whatever Trump’s true role might have been.

 U.S. War Powers

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to prevent Trump from entering unauthorized war with Iran, setting up showdown with Senate, Karoun Demirjian​, July 12, 2019. The House voted Friday to prevent President Trump from launching into war with Iran without getting Congress’ approval first, after more than two dozen Republicans joined Democrats to include the provision in the House’s annual defense authorization bill.

The move sets up a likely showdown with the Senate over whether the Iran restriction, which includes an exception for cases of self-defense, will be included in the final bill negotiated between the two chambers. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have argued that the language would send a bad message to Tehran that the United States is divided, complicating the president’s ability to manage escalating tensions.

The Iran amendment is just one of several high-profile measures that lawmakers voted this week to include in the first defense authorization bill Democrats have steered through the House since taking over the majority earlier this year. Those measures, which range from ending U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen to undoing President Trump’s ban on transgender troops, helped secure the support of liberal Democrats from the congressional Progressive Caucus, who had previously warned that they might vote against the defense bill.

Mueller Testimony

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller offers to delay testimony one week to give lawmakers more time for questions, Rachael Bade, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian, July 12, 2019.. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller is scheduled to testify Wednesday about his investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump Caves On Census Citizen Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump gives up attempt to add citizenship question to census, Seung Min Kim, Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). The announcement marked the end of a 19-month push to ask about citizenship status on the survey. Opponents have said the question could undercount Latinos and scare immigrant communities from participating.

Barr Team Thwarting Trump Probe?

CNN, Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say, Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, July 12, cnn logo2019. A federal investigation into whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign-finance laws appears to be wrapping up without charges being filed, according to people familiar with the matter. For months, federal prosecutors in New York have examined whether company officials broke the law, including in their effort to reimburse Michael Cohen for hush-money payments he made to women alleging affairs with his former boss, President Donald Trump.

In recent weeks, however, their investigation has quieted, the people familiar with the inquiry said, and prosecutors now don't appear poised to charge any Trump Organization executives in the probe that stemmed from the case against Cohen.

A spokesman for the Manhattan US Attorney's office declined to comment. An attorney for the Trump Organization declined to comment.

michael cohen ap file croppedn January, one month after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, prosecutors requested interviews with executives at the company, CNN reported. But prosecutors never followed up on their initial request, people familiar with the matter said, and the interviews never took place.

Meanwhile, there has been no contact between the Manhattan US Attorney's office and officials at the Trump Organization in more than five months, one person familiar with the matter said.
There is no indication that the case has been formally closed, and former federal prosecutors cautioned that it is always possible that new information could revive the inquiry. The Manhattan US Attorney's office continues to have at least one other ongoing Trump-connected investigation, a probe concerning the President's inaugural committee.

The Trump Organization investigation was launched out of the Cohen case, in which he pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two counts of campaign-finance violations for orchestrating or making payments during the 2016 election to two women -- adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal -- who alleged affairs with Trump. (Trump has denied the allegations.)

After Cohen made the $130,000 payment to Daniels, he was reimbursed, prosecutors said in court filings, by the Trump Organization. The company's executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000, in an effort to cover his original payment, tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus, according to prosecutors, and they falsely recorded those payments as legal expenses in their books.

The criminal inquiry centered on whether those payments, like the hush money Cohen gave to Daniels, violated campaign-finance law.

Global Affairs: Jared Kushner

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strategic culture logoStrategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: ‘Hysterical and Stupid’: Kushner Reveals His Attitude Towards the Palestinians, Wayne Madsen, right, July 12, 2019. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the person Trump appointed to broker a Middle East peace agreement recently called Palestinians “hysterical and stupid.”

That is particularly galling language coming from a notorious New Jersey, New York, and Maryland slumlord and the son of a federally convicted criminal. Kushner’s father and real estate mogul, Charles Kushner, spent fourteen months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud and witness tampering, among other crimes. Jared Kushner believes his father was wrongly convicted and imprisoned. But the wunderkind son-in-law of Trump has no problem in maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, one that has led to the large-scale incarceration of the people of the Gaza Strip in virtual desert ghetto.

jared kushner head shotMr. Kushner, left, does not have the business acumen to run a New York City sandwich cart, let alone a major foreign policy initiative like a final Middle East peace agreement. Such a concordat has eluded a every US president since the creation of Israel in 1948. Kushner’s real estate bankruptcies are legendary, and they have resulted in him and his father panhandling for loan relief financing from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and China, among other countries.

In the wake of Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled at a workshop in Bahrain in June of this year, government officials around the world reacted with an almost-unanimous thumbs down.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Wake up, Democrats. Trump is on something of a roll, David Ignatius, July 12, 2019. The agonizing fact for Democrats this summer is that President Trump appears to be gaining ground on domestic and foreign policy, while his potential challengers are quarreling and mostly spinning their wheels.

Trump is taunting allies and defying Congress — and seemingly getting away with it. He isn’t just rewriting the political rulebook, he’s tossing it aside. And the painful fact is that the Democrats haven’t figured out a way to stop his forward momentum, even when they believe it’s taking the country over a cliff.

Trump remains a divisive and unpopular leader who is vulnerable in 2020. But a Post-ABC News poll released last week was the clearest warning yet for Democrats that Trump is gaining strength beyond his core base of support.

Trump’s approval rating has risen 5 points since April, to 44 percent, according to the survey. His disapproval rating is 53 percent, but his support is still the highest he’s had as president. The RealClearPolitics average of major polls shows a similar trend.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: An impeachment inquiry is risky. Not opening one is riskier, Eugene Robinson, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s misdeeds would be risky. She needs to realize that not doing so is beginning to look riskier.

Next week, after former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testifies before Congress, the impeachment question will demand an answer. Even if Mueller manages not to stray beyond the boundaries of his report, the evidence of impeachable presidential misconduct that his investigators found is clear and compelling. Hearing from Mueller’s lips what amounts to a criminal indictment of the president will surely have more impact than Mueller’s dry and lengthy tome, which few have actually read.

Meanwhile, Trump’s abuse of presidential power, including his open defiance of the judiciary, becomes ever more brazen and alarming. The Supreme Court has no army to enforce its rulings. Only Congress has the power, and the duty, to check a president run amok.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump kills key drug price proposal he once embraced, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Amy Goldstein and Ashley Parker, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration has withdrawn a key proposal to lower drug prices, which its top health official had touted seven months ago as the most effective way to curb medicine costs for consumers.

The drug rebate rule would have ended a widespread practice in which drugmakers give rebates to insurance middlemen in government programs such as Medicare. The idea was to channel that money to consumers instead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We just dodged a constitutional crisis with the census, Harry Litman (right, law professor and former U.S. attorney), harry litman msnbc screenshotJuly 12, 2019. The executive order that President Trump issued on Thursday was a face-saving attempt to repackage a political loss. Much more important, however, it reflects the administration’s stepping back from the brink of a truly historic rejection of the principle that the courts decide the law under our constitutional scheme.

The administration for several days had suggested it was busy concocting a workaround to the Supreme Court’s determination in late June that the rationale for placing a citizenship question in the 2020 Census was pretextual and could not stand. It is important to understand just what a radical course of action the administration was flirting with. The attorney general of the United States declared that he had been in regular contact with the president about the question, which the president was determined to see featured on the decennial survey.

If the executive branch disclaims the courts’ authority to resolve disputes, we would be in wholly uncharted territory outside the ability of the Constitution to resolve.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Congress should show Trump that the Saudi crown prince is no ‘friend’ of America, Editorial Board, July 12, 2019 (print ed.). Though there has been no accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and women who were tortured for seeking greater rights are still in prison, President Trump has returned to calling Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a “friend” who is doing “a spectacular job.”

Fortunately, there remains a bipartisan majority in Congress that rejects this indefensible judgment and the president’s strings-free steps to supply the kingdom with more weapons and nuclear technology. The question is whether a coalition can come together to pass legislation that will reshape U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia and its brutal and reckless ruler over Mr. Trump’s objections.

July 11

Trump Team Subpoenas

ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Subpoena a Who’s Who of Mueller Witnesses, Nicholas Fandos, July 11, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee approved a dozen new subpoenas targeting witnesses cited in the Mueller report. The list includes Jared Kushner, right, the jared kushner head shotpresident’s son-in-law, and Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a dozen new subpoenas targeting a who’s who of witnesses cited in Robert S. Mueller III’s report as Democrats sought to elevate their showdown with President Trump over episodes of possible obstruction of justice documented by the special counsel.

The panel also approved a separate group of subpoenas seeking information about the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their families at the border. And House Democratic leaders set Tuesday for a full House vote to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress over their refusal to relinquish documents related to the administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“The House will not shirk from its oversight of this administration and its malign effort to silence the voices of millions in our democracy,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, referring to fears that a citizenship question would dissuade immigrants from answering the census.

Among the prominent figures to be subpoenaed by the Democrats are Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general; Rod J. Rosenstein, his deputy who appointed Mr. Mueller, the special counsel; John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; and Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager. Democrats also authorized a subpoena for David J. Pecker, who as head of American Media helped Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign buy the silence of a pornographic film actress and a former Playboy model, both of whom claimed to have had sexual relationships with him.

Epstein / Trump Cover-up Scandal

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Acosta Defends Role in Brokering Epstein Plea Deal, Katie Rogers, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, July 11, 2019 (print ed.). Alexander Acosta, the labor secretary, said he got the best deal he could against Jeffrey Epstein in a case in Florida in 2008, ensuring some jail time. President Trump has defended Mr. Acosta, who has faced calls to resign from Democrats.

Mr. Acosta said he had faced a tough choice between accepting a plea deal that was not as tough as he wished and going to trial with witnesses who were scared to testify, in what he described as “a roll of the dice” that might not have resulted in a conviction and prison term.

“I wanted to help them,” Mr. Acosta said of the victims during a nationally televised news conference at the Labor Department headquarters. “That is why we intervened. And that’s what the prosecutors of my office did — they insisted that he go to jail and put the world on notice that he was and is a sexual predator.”

Mr. Acosta’s appearance before cameras was seen as a crucial test of whether he will keep his job, with an audience of one as President Trump watched and weighed a decision. Mr. Acosta said he had spoken with Mr. Trump and believed he had his backing.

 

alex acosta labor dept building ultraviolet

TheHill.com, 'Acosta Enables Sex Trafficking' projected onto the Labor Department building, Zack Budryk, July 10, 2019. Activists projected condemnations of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on the Department of Labor building Wednesday to protest his role in a controversial non-prosecution agreement with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested again over the weekend.

Progressive advocacy groups, including CREDO Action, MoveOn, UltraViolet (which took the photo above) and the American Federation of Teachers, projected the words “Acosta Enabled Sex Trafficking” and “Acosta Must Go” on the building.

“Secretary Acosta’s actions in not disclosing the plea deal of a politically well-connected predator to the victims of that predator were illegal and unconscionable. By breaking the law and hiding the deal from victims, he’s shown that we cannot trust him,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement.

“A labor secretary is supposed to protect everyday people – Alex Acosta proposed an 80% cut to his department’s bureau that combats human trafficking, and gave a sweetheart deal to a known predator,” she added.

In 2008, as a U.S. Attorney, Acosta approved a deal that allowed Epstein to serve only 13 months and spend 16 hours a day outside of prison. Epstein was arrested on new federal charges of sex trafficking over the weekend. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a press conference Wednesday, Acosta defended the arrangement. “We believe that we proceeded appropriately,” Acosta told reporters at the Labor Department. “We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail. He needed to go to jail.”

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, British ambassador to the U.S. resigns after Trump criticism, William Booth, Josh Dawsey and Karla Adam​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). Kim Darroch, shown at right with a file photo of the president, become embroiled in controversy after a cache of diplomatic cables were leaked in which he described the Trump administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional.”

djt kim darroch fileAfter several days of intense criticism by President Trump, who called the British ambassador to Washington a “pompous fool” and said his administration would no longer work with him, Kim Darroch on Wednesday resigned his post.

united kingdom flagDarroch provoked the president’s ire when a cache of secret diplomatic cables were leaked to a British tabloid over the weekend. The memos from Darroch described Trump as “insecure” and his administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional.”

Prime Minister Theresa May stood by Darroch — and she told Parliament on Wednesday it was “matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court dismisses emoluments lawsuit involving Trump’s D.C. hotel, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, July 11, 2019 (print ed.). The unanimous ruling is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District.

democratic donkey logoA federal appeals court Wednesday sided with President Trump, dismissing a lawsuit claiming the president is illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his luxury hotel in downtown Washington.

The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia involving anti-corruption provisions in the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said the attorneys general lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution when his business accepts payments from state and foreign governments. The decision — from Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. — also stops dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities for financial records related to the D.C. hotel.

karl racineMaryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, right, both Democrats, have said they would consider appealing for a rehearing by a full panel of the 4th Circuit and would not be surprised to see the case reach the Supreme Court.

The president is facing series of legal challenges related to his private business, including a separate lawsuit from Congressional Democrats. The emoluments clauses at issue in the 4th Circuit case were designed to prevent undue influence on government officials but have never been applied in court to a sitting president.

July 10

Epstein / Trump Cover-up Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump praises Acosta as labor secretary faces growing calls to resign over earlier Epstein case, John Wagner​, July 9, 2019. Alexander Acosta, who previously served as a U.S. attorney, has come under scrutiny for his handling as a prosecutor of a 2007 sex-crimes case involving billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Media / Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, appeals court rules, Ann E. Marimow​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). The case has twitter bird Customimplications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media.

President Trump cannot block his critics from the Twitter feed he regularly uses to communicate with the public, a federal appeals court donald trump twittersaid Tuesday, in a case with implications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media.

The decision from the New York-based appeals court upholds an earlier ruling that Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked individual users who were critical of the president or his policies.

Public officials who take to social media for official government business, the court said Tuesday, are prohibited from excluding people “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” wrote Judge Barrington D. Parker in the unanimous decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

washington post logoWashington Post, British ambassador to the U.S. resigns after Trump criticism, William Booth, Josh Dawsey and Karla Adam​, July 10, 2019. Kim Darroch, shown at right with a file photo of the president, become embroiled in controversy after a cache of diplomatic cables were leaked in which he described the Trump administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional.”

djt kim darroch fileAfter several days of intense criticism by President Trump, who called the British ambassador to Washington a “pompous fool” and said his administration would no longer work with him, Kim Darroch on Wednesday resigned his post.

united kingdom flagDarroch provoked the president’s ire when a cache of secret diplomatic cables were leaked to a British tabloid over the weekend. The memos from Darroch described Trump as “insecure” and his administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional.”

Prime Minister Theresa May stood by Darroch — and she told Parliament on Wednesday it was “matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court dismisses emoluments lawsuit involving Trump’s D.C. hotel, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, July 10, 2019. The unanimous ruling is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District.

A federal appeals court Wednesday sided with President Trump, dismissing a lawsuit claiming the president is illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his luxury hotel in downtown Washington.

The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia involving anti-corruption provisions in the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said the attorneys general lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution when his business accepts payments from state and foreign governments. The decision — from Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. — also stops dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities for financial records related to the D.C. hotel.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, both Democrats, have said they would consider appealing for a rehearing by a full panel of the 4th Circuit and would not be surprised to see the case reach the Supreme Court.

The president is facing series of legal challenges related to his private business, including a separate lawsuit from Congressional Democrats. The emoluments clauses at issue in the 4th Circuit case were designed to prevent undue influence on government officials but have never been applied in court to a sitting president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s July 4 event and related protests have bankrupted D.C. security fund, mayor says, Peter Jamison​, July 10, 2019. The celebration cost the District $1.7 million, an amount that — combined with police expenses for related protests — has bankrupted a city fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and secure rallies and state funerals.Trump Team Obstruction

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Tells Mueller Deputies Not to Testify, Scrambling an Agreement, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). The Justice Department is seeking to discourage Robert S. Mueller III’s deputies from testifying before Congress, potentially jeopardizing an agreement for two of the former prosecutors to answer lawmakers’ questions in private next week, according to two government officials familiar with the matter.

Justice Department log circularThe department told the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees last week that it was opposed to the testimony and had communicated its view to the two former members of Mr. Mueller’s team, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III, according to a senior congressional official familiar with the discussions.

It is unclear what effect the Justice Department’s intervention will have on the men’s eventual appearances, but it raises the prospect that a deal lawmakers thought they had struck last month for testimony from Mr. Mueller, the former special counsel, and the two prosecutors could still unravel.

Both Mr. Zebley and Mr. Quarles have left the Justice Department and are now private citizens, meaning that the department most likely cannot actually block their testimony. But the department’s view — depending on how strongly it is expressed — could have a chilling effect on two longtime employees and give them cover to avoid testifying.

More On Epstein Scandal

djt justice liberty truth metoo 2017 cartoon by Nick Anderson, Hearst Newspapers

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Hearst Newspapers

washington post logojeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Washington Post, Epstein surrounded himself with influential network of defenders, Marc Fisher​, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). As women were looking to police, prosecutors and courts to hold Jeffrey Epstein, shown in a mug shot at right, to account for his alleged sexual abuses, he was amassing contacts across Hollywood, politics, research, diplomacy, finance and law.

ny times logoNew York Times, How is Mr. Epstein connected to former President Bill Clinton? Michael Gold, July 10, 2019 (print ed.). 
How did Mr. Epstein and Mr. Clinton know each other? Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of sexually abusing girls for more than a decade, has been linked in the past to celebrities, prominent businessmen, politicians and, at one point, Prince Andrew of Britain.

But it is Mr. Epstein’s ties to two United States presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald J. Trump, that have drawn the most attention in recent days.
During his career in finance, both at Bear Stearns and when he struck out on his own, Mr. Epstein had a reputation for being intensely private.

But in 2002, the former president took a trip on Mr. Epstein’s private jet, which brought a flurry of media attention.

At the time, Mr. Clinton had been out of the White House for two years and had started the nonprofit group, the Clinton Foundation. Through his work with the foundation, Mr. Clinton connected with Mr. Epstein.

Mr. Clinton has denied having a close relationship with Mr. Epstein. On Monday, Mr. Clinton’s office said in a statement that Mr. Clinton “knows nothing about the terrible crimes” that Mr. Epstein has been accused of, and that Mr. Clinton had not spoken to Mr. Epstein in more than a decade.

Jerusalem Post, Likud to A-G: Investigate Barak and his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Alex Winston, July 9, 2019. Prime Minister benjamin netanyahu smileBenjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is demanding that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit open a criminal investigation against former prime minister Ehud Barak, demanding that he disclose his personal and business contacts with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, for which he served 13 months, and was arrested again on July 6, 2019 on federal charges for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York.

With regards to the relationship between Barak and Epstein, the Likud complaint stated that, "Mr. Barak was photographed coming out of Mr. Epstein's apartment in 2016. So close were the ties between the two that Mr. Barak's name even appeared in Mr. Epstein's black notebook. In this context, there is a real need to examine whether the 'grants' Barak received from the ehud barakWexner Foundation and/or Mr. Epstein ceased in 2006 or changed form in the years that followed, and continued to be given to him."

The Wexner Foundation focuses on the development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America and public leaders in Israel. Between 2004 and 2006, while he was a private citizen, $2.3 million was transferred to Barak, shown at left, for "research" that was never published.

In a complaint filed on behalf of the Likud, attorney Michael Dvorin claimed that Barak, as well as the Wexner Foundation, refuse to reveal the reason for the payment.

The reference to Epstein's "black notebook" refers to an address book of Epstein's containing the names of several prominent personalities, including US President Donald Trump, attorney Alan Dershowitz and Barak. It also allegedly contains the name of several of his alleged victims and accomplices.

"My client believes that it is necessary to examine very carefully the explanation for the receipt of the said funds, and whether these were the only funds given to Mr. Barak over the years in such strange circumstances and from whom," Likud's attorney wrote to Mandelblit.

The arrest of Epstein has caused a minor stir in Israeli politics, with both Netanyahu and Barak releasing videos and statements accusing the other of ties with criminals.

Mueller Report

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Opinion: Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia, Jed Shugerman, July 10, 2019. The special counsel will testify before Congress next week. He needs to answer for historic legal and factual errors. Ever since the release of the Mueller Report, countless commentators have implored everyone to just #ReadtheReport.

The problem is not who is reading it — the problem is the report itself, and its many errors.

Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and, based on the facts he found, he should have identified Trump campaign felonies.

Mueller’s errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president.

The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.

July 9

Epstein / Trump / Acosta Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein indictment renews questions about ties to Trump Cabinet official, Lisa Rein, Michael Kranish and Josh alexander acosta labor oDawsey, July 9, 2019 (print ed.). As the U.S. attorney in Florida in 2007, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, right, negotiated a minimal sentence for wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The indictment Monday of Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges has reignited questions about the way Alexander Acosta — now President Trump’s labor secretary — handled an earlier case against Epstein that resulted in a minimal sentence.

As U.S. attorney in Florida in 2007, Acosta negotiated a plea deal that led to two felony solicitation charges and 13 months in county jail for Epstein, with the billionaire financier allowed to work from his office six days a week. Epstein had been facing the possibility of life in prison. His alleged victims were not told about the deal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi, other lawmakers call for Acosta to resign, John Wagner, July 9, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday night became the highest-profile lawmaker to call for the resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, citing his handling as a U.S. attorney of an earlier