2019 

November

Nov. 12

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, White House infighting flares amid Democrats’ probe, Erica Werner, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Rachael Bade, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Two of President Trump’s top advisers are battling over strategy, contributing to the administration’s increasingly tenuous response to the inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cites Ukraine’s corruption, European stinginess to justify his actions. Neither rationale withstands scrutiny, Karen DeYoung and Ellen djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomNakashima, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Defense and State departments have certified that Kyiv has taken “substantial actions” to tackle corruption. And European nations spend more on Ukraine than the United States does.

washington post logoWashington Post, Career federal employees take risky and rare role in impeachment drama, Lisa Rein, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Trump and his allies have long been suspicious of the permanent bureaucracy. This week’s hearings highlight the rift between political appointees and career federal employees.

As diplomats kick off nationally televised impeachment hearings on Wednesday, it is clear how, more than in any political scandal in modern history, career employees have emerged as crucial witnesses.

Rank-and-file bureaucrats who work in the federal agencies that handle national security will defy the directive of the White House to stay quiet, instead describing what they saw as they went about, in their view, just doing their jobs.

Their role in recounting to the public how President Trump and his allies attempted to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals will not come without risk. All but one of the 11 career Foreign Service staff, military officers and Pentagon officials who first testified in closed-door depositions in the Capitol basement are still in government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why is Bolton aiding Trump’s ‘drug deal’ coverup? Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). John Bolton witnessed a “drug deal.” Why won’t he tell the dana milbank Customcops? President Trump’s former national security adviser wanted nothing to do with the “drug deal” Trump advisers were “cooking up” on Ukraine, according to an aide’s impeachment testimony.

Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, teased House investigators Friday with a letter saying his client has first-hand knowledge of “many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far.” And yet Bolton so far chooses to cover for the drug dealers.

Nov. 11

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

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Donald Trump, shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Disorienting Defenses of Donald Trump, Editorial Board, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The president and his allies ask Americans to reject the evidence before their eyes. The case for weighing the impeachment of President Trump boils down to a few simple points:

In an effort to win re-election in 2020, Mr. Trump apparently attempted to extort a foreign government into announcing an investigation of his top political rival. The president did so while also trying to revive a conspiracy theory that casts doubt over whether the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf.

Witnesses have already testified that in order to achieve those goals, Mr. Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid against the bipartisan wishes of Congress. All the while, the president and his staff have refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation into what transpired.

Republicans find themselves in a tough spot. Lawmakers swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, which obliges them to act as a check on the executive branch and any abuses of its power. Yet instead of considering the testimony, many Republicans have chosen reflexively to defend Mr. Trump — not an easy task in the face of such strong evidence of inexcusable behavior.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Trump Administration Eroded Its Legal Case on DACA, Michael D. Shear, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Adam Liptak, Nov. 11, 2019. When the Supreme supreme court graphicCourt hears arguments on Tuesday, the administration’s attempts to end the program protecting “Dreamers” could rest on a top aide’s actions in 2017.

The case, one of the most important of the Supreme Court’s term, will address presidential power over immigration, a signature issue for Mr. Trump and one that has divided the nation since he took office. The court’s decision could also have an enormous effect on the lives of the young people in the program, who are known as Dreamers and are broadly seen as sympathetic by large majorities in both parties. Related story:

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Rejects Legal Alliance With Mulvaney, Peter Baker, Nov. 11, 2019. A lawyer representing the president’s former national security adviser filed a motion opposing an effort by Mick Mulvaney to join a suit on impeachment testimony.

john bolton youtube guardianA long-simmering feud within the White House broke into the open on Monday as a lawyer for John R. Bolton, right, President Trump’s former national security adviser, filed a motion trying to keep Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, from joining a lawsuit over impeachment testimony.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer argued in court papers that Mr. Mulvaney should not be allowed to jump into the existing lawsuit as a plaintiff because his interests are significantly different. But the legal schism underscored a broader rift between Mr. Mulvaney, who facilitated Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for damaging information about Democrats, and Mr. Bolton, who tried to resist it.

Lawyers for the various parties are scheduled to hold a conference call later on Monday with United States Senior District Judge Richard J. Leon, who is overseeing Mr. Kupperman’s lawsuit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley’s real disclosure: Concerns about Trump’s dangerousness went right to the top, Aaron Blake​, Nov. 11, 2019. It's not that Nikki Haley (right) turned John Kelly and Rex Tillerson down; it's that these two top aides tried to recruit her to resist him in the first place.

djt nikki haley Custom 2Ever since September 2018, we’ve been trying to figure out who the “senior administration official” was who wrote that anonymous New York Times op-ed. This official described a “resistance” from inside the Trump administration that has worked to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The author now has a book coming out.

So when Nikki Haley comes out and tells us that the president’s former chief of staff and secretary of state spearheaded just such an effort, maybe the story isn’t that she said no?

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump Jr. went to UCLA to decry ‘triggered’ liberals. He was heckled offstage by the far right, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 11, 2019. Supporters from the "America First" faction of President Trump's vocal far-right base heckled his son at a book talk as part of a campaign to upend Turning Point USA events. Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign senior adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle came prepared with snappy rejoinders for liberal protesters who might taunt them on Sunday at the University of California at Los Angeles, where they promoted Trump Jr.'s new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.”

But when unruly heckling drowned out the couple’s answers, leading the pair to walk offstage, it wasn’t leftists who cut the event short. Instead, the rebukes came from a crowd of young people who rank among the most ardent and extreme supporters of President Trump.

The chaotic scene contradicted Trump Jr.'s central thesis that liberals have grown so intolerant of dissenting voices, conservative politicians can no longer engage in civil discourse. It also exposed an increasingly hostile fissure between conservative student groups like Turning Point USA and a hard-right faction of young Trump devotees who have flocked to self-professed “American Nationalist” Nicholas Fuentes and his “America First” movement.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge rules Trump’s lawsuit to block House from getting his state tax returns belongs in N.Y. court, Spencer S. Hsu​, Nov. 11, 2019. A federal judge in Washington dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the House Ways and Means Committee from using a recently enacted New York law to request his state tax returns, saying that for now the case belongs before a judge in New York.

carl nicholsThe decision by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, right, injected new urgency into Trump’s effort to shield his state tax records from Congress.

The House panel, chaired by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), has not requested Trump’s state returns. Trump’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in July preemptively, arguing that without an emergency court order blocking a congressional request, his New York returns might be disclosed before the president’s opposition could be heard in court.

While the case was pending, New York state tax officials agreed not to turn over Trump’s records any sooner than seven days after Nichols ruled on whether the Trump lawsuit should be heard before him or before a federal judge in New York. On Monday, Nichols concluded the latter, dismissing the New York state defendants and giving Trump the option of refiling his lawsuit against them in his home state, effectively setting the seven-day clock running, if the House were to ask for Trump’s returns.

“Based on the current allegations, Mr. Trump has not met his burden of establishing [the court’s] personal jurisdiction over either of the New York Defendants,” the state’s tax commissioner and attorney general, Nichols wrote in a 19-page opinion.

Nichols, a Trump appointee [and longtime Federal Society member] who joined the bench in July, withheld ruling on the president’s argument but acknowledged the New York state officials’ position that Trump’s lawsuit involves a New York state law and “alleges no events or omissions” in Washington by state officials.

Nichols said the president also could refile his case in Washington against the House committee, if and when it makes a request. House general counsel Douglas N. Letter had urged Nichols to reject Trump’s lawsuit, saying the committee's decision whether to use the new state law is “absolutely immune” from court review under the Constitution’s grant of legislative powers to Congress.

Nov. 11

Bolivian Coup Alleged

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary:Trump honors Native American Heritage Month with coup against Bolivia's first Native American president, Wayne Madsen, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallleft, syndicated columnist, author of 16 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 11, 2019 (excerpted with permission). Donald Trump, who has a schoolboy’s view of Native Americans as having been “savages” who besieged wagon trains of “peaceful” European settlers, has chalked up on his record of seedy deeds the military overthrow of Bolivia’s first Native American president, Evo Morales, an ethnic Aymara.

evo moralesTrump has been eyeing Morales, right), the leader of Bolivia’s Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, for some form of retribution ever since Morales scolded Trump in person during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on September 26, 2018.

Morales, as president of the Security Council, lectured Trump on America’s past abuses. The Bolivian president cited the United States as having “financed coups d’etat and supported dictators,” and having instituted a border policy that “separated migrant children from their families and put them in cages.” Trump kept his head cia logodown during the tongue-lashing, only raising it periodically to glower at Morales, who was wearing the formal garb of his native Aymara people.

On November 10th, Morales received his belated response from Trump in the form of an old-style military coup. Even though Morales agreed to a new election, he and his entire MAS government, including Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Chamber of Deputies President Victor Borda, and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra -- all in the line of succession to the president -- were forced to resign by the Bolivian military and national police. Without a constitutional successor to Morales, the military and national police commanders took over in a classic Central Intelligence Agency textbook coup from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

ny times logoNew York Times, Evo Morales Urges Resistance to New Bolivian Government, Clifford Krauss and Daniel Victor, Nov. 11, 2019.  The former president’s stance could complicate efforts to form a transitional administration and hold fresh elections.

Nov. 10

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans attempt to move impeachment inquiry away from Trump, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 10, 2019. A list of witnesses demanded Saturday fits a pattern for GOP lawmakers, who have focused heavily on pushing conspiracy theories and attacking Democrats as unfairly partisan.

republican elephant logoHouse Republicans on Saturday pressed ahead with their efforts to move the impeachment inquiry away from President Trump, calling on Democrats to add witnesses to the probe including former vice president Joe Biden’s son and the whistleblower whose initial complaint kicked off the investigation.

The GOP demands were met with immediate skepticism from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who warned against “sham investigations” of the Bidens and other issues in a clear signal that many of the witnesses were unlikely to be called.

  • Analysis: An oral history of how Trump allegedly tried to leverage a White House visit for an investigation into the Bidens rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Associate Says He Gave Demand for Biden Inquiry to Ukrainians, Ben Protess, Andrew E. Kramer, Michael Rothfeld and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 10, 2019. The claim by the associate, Lev Parnas, is being vigorously disputed. Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country’s new leadership, a lawyer for the associate said.

The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.

The claim by Mr. Parnas, who is preparing to share his account with impeachment investigators, challenges the narrative of events from Mr. Trump and Ukrainian officials that is at the core of the congressional inquiry. It also directly links Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to threats of repercussions made to the Ukrainians, something he has strenuously denied.

igor fruman mugBut Mr. Parnas’s account, while potentially significant, is being contradicted on several fronts. None of the people involved dispute that the meeting occurred, but Mr. Parnas stands alone in saying the intention was to present an ultimatum to the Ukrainian leadership. Another participant in the meeting, Mr. Parnas’s business partner, Igor Fruman, right, said Mr. Parnas’s claim was false; the men never raised the issues of aid or the vice president’s attendance at the inauguration, lawyers for Mr. Fruman said.

Mr. Giuliani denied Mr. Parnas’s contention that he had delivered the warning at the direction of Mr. Giuliani. “Categorically, I did not tell him to say that,” Mr. Giuliani said.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine scandal henchman Lev Parnas just sold out Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2019. Well that was a plot twist we didn’t see coming. Based on the moves that Lev Parnas has made over the past week, we were fully expecting him to sell out Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal. But now details are leaking out about what Parnas is planning to give to the House impeachment inquiry, and in a surprise twist, Parnas is also selling out Mike Pence (shown at far left above with others mention in this column, including Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas between Pence and Donald Trump, with the latter's counsel Giuliani at right).

bill palmer report logo headerLev Parnas fired his Trump-connected lawyer several days ago and announced that he was planning to fully cooperate with the House impeachment probe. Now, according to the New York Times, Parnas is planning to testify to the House that he told Ukrainian President Zelensky that unless an investigation into the fake Biden scandal was publicly announced, Mike Pence would not be attending Zelensky’s inauguration. This changes just about everything.

One of Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen is now directly confessing that he personally carried out a portion of the quid pro quo extortion scandal. This is devastating to Rudy for obvious reasons – and it’ll help ensure that Rudy never does get out of prison. It’s also ugly for Donald Trump, because it means Trump wasn’t just asking Zelensky to “do me a favor though.” Trump went so far as to send a thug to threaten the President of Ukraine unless he granted that (illegal) favor.

This is also quite ugly for Mike Pence, who will now be stuck trying to convince the public that when Trump and Giuliani were sending Parnas to threaten to withhold Pence’s presence from Zelensky’s inauguration, Pence somehow didn’t know it was going on. Pence ended up not attending the inauguration after all, meaning he had to have been in on it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley says Tillerson, Kelly tried to recruit her to subvert Trump to ‘save the country,’ Anne Gearan, Nov. 10, 2019. Two of President Trump’s senior advisers undermined and ignored him in what they claimed was an effort to “save the country,” former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley claims in a new memoir.

state dept map logo SmallFormer secretary of state Rex Tillerson, right, and former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but rex tillerson exxon mobil Smallshe refused, Haley writes in a new book, With All Due Respect, which also describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and imperious and Kelly as suspicious of her access to Trump.

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote.

“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote of the views the two men held.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Nikki Haley is so eager to go down with Donald Trump’s sinking ship, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2019. Nikki Haley (above) ruined her once-promising political career when she went to work for the Donald Trump regime. She knows it, and doesn’t appear to believe she can get anywhere by coming out against Trump, so instead she keeps emphatically marrying herself to Trump’s sinking ship.

bill palmer report logo headerBut this isn’t going to magically put her back in the game either, so the question has been why she’s destroying what’s left of her reputation in the name of trying to prop up the ghost of Donald Trump.

Now we have our answer. Nikki Haley is doing what failed politicians always do: she’s cashing out.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: A Threat to a Whistleblower Is a Threat to Us All, Celia Wexler, Nov. 10, 2019. House Republicans and President Donald Trump are trying to unmask the Ukraine whistleblower. If they succeed, will future whistleblowers keep silent? The anonymity of the Ukraine whistleblower is hanging by a thread. Conservative media outlets have been reporting the name of the person they believe filed the complaint that triggered the impeachment process.

The person’s alleged identity has been circulated on Capitol Hill by House Republicans, and tweeted out by the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

We already know what President Donald Trump thinks about the whistleblower. He considers him or her to be a “almost a spy,” and a “never Trumper” who deserves to be unmasked. A few days ago, Trump opined: “The whistleblower should be revealed, because the whistleblower gave a false story.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective, Despite Trump’s taunting and harassment, whistleblowers remain undaunted, Joe Davidson, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). For a man whose job includes protecting federal whistleblowers, President Trump’s actions to undermine one in particular could hamper whistleblowers generally.

Yet, despite intimidation from the nation’s highest office, the Ukraine matter whistleblower — actually, whistleblowers — remains undaunted.

“The harassing and taunting comments, usually rife with hate but truly masking fear, that have emanated from the president and his allies have done nothing to deter the whistleblowers,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who represents them. “They fulfilled their lawful obligations to the Constitution of the United States, and they did so following the rule of law.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s attacks on the judiciary are dangerous. Good for this judge for speaking up, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Federal judges mostly speak through their opinions. When they give speeches or write law review articles, they tend to take measured tones. On the rare occasions they tread into issues touching on current paul friedman graphicpolitics, they usually do so obliquely.

So it was all the more striking that Paul Friedman, a highly respected federal district court judge, used the occasion of an annual lecture before a group of the capital’s most distinguished judges and lawyers not merely to defend the independence of the federal judiciary but to take on President Trump directly.

“We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms,” Friedman said. “He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.” 

Palmer Report, Opinion; The real reason the witness testimony is so devastating to Donald Trump, Robert Harrington, Nov. 10, 2019. The fact that Fiona Hill was born in England and not, say, Ukraine, will play somewhat less well at the propaganda mill of the shivering, superstitious, conspiracy-mongering camp of the alt-right. Fear not, however, it didn’t stop them from finding other ways to try to get to her.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Dr. Hill relates in her just-released testimony of October 14, “My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again, frankly, as it’s been announced that I’ve been giving this deposition, accusing me of being a [left-leaning billionaire philanthropist George] Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the President, and, you know, of various improprieties.”

It is instructive to note that many of these conspiracy theories Dr. Hill, left, relates come straight from Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s Nixon-adulating acolyte, and Alex Jones, he of the alt-right “InfoWars,” the propaganda machine of which Jones is the chief villain. Both Stone and Jones unreservedly love the Constitution when it comes to the Second Amendment and fiona hilloccasionally hate it when it comes to the First.

It is also instructive to note that, a full week before Matt Gaetz and company stormed the SCIF and ordered out for pizza, the transcript relates that Congressman Gaetz attempted to illegally insinuate himself into Fiona Hill’s hearing. Chairman Adam Schiff had to repeatedly point out that, as Mr. Gaetz was not a member of any of the invited committees, he was not permitted to remain. Gaetz wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t until the Chairman threatened to deduct Gaetz’ time-wasting antics from the time allotted for questioning the witness by (actually invited) Republican members of the committee, that Gaetz relented and left the room – in an infantile pout.

What Gaetz pretends not to get and what everyone else bothers to think about and understand is, the reason for the closed door nature of these hearings is to ensure that witnesses do not collude with each other, either accidentally or on purpose. This practice bore some interesting fruit when, 15 days later, Alexander Vindman testified. The juxtaposition of Vindman’s and Hill’s testimonies is what made it necessary for Ambassador to the European Union Gordon D. Sondland to recently amend his testimony in order to avoid perjury charges. Notice the similarities in side by side statements.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump learns that fake charities are tons of fun until you get caught, Kathleen Parker, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Imagine President Trump’s surprise upon realizing that a charity bearing his name did not mean the money belonged to him.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoSo it has come to pass with a New York judge’s ruling Thursday that the president had misused money given to the Donald J. Trump Foundation and, as part of a settlement, will have to pay $2 million in damages. Not only did he use the money for himself, including the purchase of a 6-foot-tall portrait of None Other, but he also filled the board of directors with family members (the usual suspects: Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric) and at least one officer, Trump Organization CFO donald j trump foundation logo graphicAllen Weisselberg, who didn’t know he was even on the board, according to court documents.

The man who popularized “fake news” apparently also invented a fake charity. They’re tons of fun until you get caught. But there was nothing fake about the money Trump spent that was intended for others.

pam biondiThere were some “charitable” donations, such as a $25,000 check in 2013 to a political committee connected to then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R), left. Charities are prohibited from making political contributions. And, in 2016, while in Iowa at a political rally, Trump issued a $100,000 check from the foundation to a local veterans group. Again, money from charities is prohibited by federal law from “participating” in political campaigns.

The Trump Foundation was something of a ruse. The board had never met in 19 years, from 1999 to 2018, when it agreed to shut down. Trump, though he gave $5.5 million over the foundation’s life, didn’t surrender a penny between 2009 and 2015.

Global Politics / Media

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I worked on political ads at Facebook. They profit by manipulating us, Yaël Eisenstat, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). I joined Facebook in June 2018 as “head of Global Elections Integrity Ops” in the company’s business integrity organization, focused specifically on political advertising. I had spent much of my career working to strengthen and defend democracy — including freedom of speech — as an intelligence officer, diplomat and White House adviser. Now I had the opportunity to help correct the course of a company that I viewed as playing a major role in one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

facebook logoIn the year leading up to our 2016 election, I began to see the polarization and breakdown of civil discourse, exacerbated by social media, as our biggest national security threat; I had written about that before Facebook called. I didn’t think I was going to change the company by myself. But I wanted to help Facebook think through the role it plays in politics, in the United States and around the world, and the best way to ensure that it is not harming democracy.

A year and a half later, as the company continues to struggle with how to handle political content and as another presidential election approaches, it’s clear that tinkering around the margins of advertising policies won’t fix the most serious issues. The real problem is that Facebook profits partly by amplifying lies and selling dangerous targeting tools Democratic-Republican Campaign logosthat allow political operatives to engage in a new level of information warfare. Its business model exploits our data to let advertisers aim at us, showing each of us a different version of the truth and manipulating us with hyper-customized ads — ads that as of this fall can contain blatantly false and debunked information if they’re run by a political campaign. As long as Facebook prioritizes profit over healthy discourse, it can’t avoid damaging democracy.

Ultimately, I was not empowered to do the job I was hired to do, and I left within six months. I don’t know if anybody up the chain ever considered our proposals to combat misinformation in political ads. But based on the company’s current policy allowing politicians to lie in ads, and the dissent letter signed in late October by more than 250 Facebook employees disagreeing with the policy, it seems clear that they did not.

Yaël Eisenstat is a visiting fellow at Cornell Tech in the Digital Life Initiative and a former elections integrity head at Facebook, CIA officer, and White House adviser.

Nov. 9

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

nancy pelosi djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: House Democrats hope Intelligence Committee will do what other panels have failed to do, Paul Kane, Nov. 9, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee, in a pair of hearings with career diplomats, hopes to do what other panels have failed to do in their previous attempts at high-profile investigations of President Trump: deliver a dramatic rendering of the facts that are easily understood by the average voter and make clear how those actions represent abuses of power that are considered high crimes and misdemeanors.

U.S. House logoHaving learned lessons about those previous mistakes, Democrats fashioned the resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry to address several procedural hiccups that they believe will make these new hearings more dramatic. And, more broadly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), above left, has recently begun to hold weekly huddles with the Democrats who are most often on TV news shows talking about the investigation. The purpose is to work on message and drive home the importance of keeping the focus on Trump’s actions and not getting distracted by side characters, such as the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

• Facebook and YouTube block spread of supposed whistleblower’s name and photo
• Senior White House official said he had ‘no doubt’ of quid pro quo, latest transcripts show,
• Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman wanted to be American as can be. Now Trump questions his motives.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP asks for Hunter Biden, whistleblower to testify publicly, Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 9, 2019. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.

House Republicans sent Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) a list of witnesses they want to testify in the impeachment inquiry, including former vice president hunter bidenJoe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, left, and the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against President Trump.

adam schiff squareBut Schiff, right, is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.

“We expect that you will call each of the witnesses listed above to ensure that the Democrats’ ‘impeachment inquiry’ treats the President with fairness, as promised by Speaker Pelosi,” wrote Devin Nunes (Calif.), ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee. “Your failure to fulfill Minority witness requests shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw another one of his own loyalists in the garbage, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2019.  If you’re committing crimes on Donald Trump’s behalf, or if you’re trying to cover up Donald Trump’s crimes, you are an idiot. You’re an idiot for getting involved with such worthless fraud to begin with; even if you want to pursue a life of crime, you could find far more success by going elsewhere. You’re also an idiot because Trump is one of the most disloyal people in the history of crime.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump stood on the White House lawn on Friday and said this about U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland: “I hardly know the gentleman.” Nevermind that this statement is plainly, laughably untrue. It’s also just vicious. Sondland gave a million dollars to Trump’s inaugural fund, which we all know went straight into gordon sondland oTrump’s pocket. Sondland, right,  had no dog in the Ukraine fight, yet he loyally carried out Trump’s criminally corrupt Ukraine scheming anyway. Yet when things got so hot for Sondland that he had to reluctantly confess his own role in Trump’s criminal scandal, Trump had the nerve to claim he doesn’t know the guy.

As this is playing out, Donald Trump’s oldest friend Roger Stone is on trial for the crimes he committed in the name of helping Donald Trump rig the 2016 election. Trump won’t lift a finger to help Stone. We know this because Trump didn’t lift a finger to help Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, or anyone else who got caught committing crimes on Trump’s behalf. Stone will die in a cage just like Manafort will die in a cage, because Trump is just that vicious in his disloyalty to mick mulvaney djt 2 Smallthose who helped him get to where he is.

Of course Donald Trump’s cartoonish level of disloyalty is going to be his own undoing. Trump’s House GOP allies are preparing to scapegoat Trump loyalists Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney (shown at left) in a last ditch effort at insulating Trump – but Mick and Rudy are two nasty pricks who will take Trump down if he takes them down. And Cohen, who just wants out from under this mess, is about to testify to the New York grand jury that’s set to indict Trump, ensuring he goes to prison as soon as he’s out of office. Trump’s disloyalty will help ensure that Trump will die in a cage as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney asks to join lawsuit over impeachment testimony, Derek Hawkins, Nov. 9, 2019. The acting White House chief of staff said he was facing conflicting orders from House Democrats and the White House over whether he must participate.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw another one of his own loyalists in the garbage, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2019.  If you’re committing crimes on Donald Trump’s behalf, or if you’re trying to cover up Donald Trump’s crimes, you are an idiot. You’re an idiot for getting involved with such worthless fraud to begin with; even if you want to pursue a life of crime, you could find far more success by going elsewhere. You’re also an idiot because Trump is one of the most disloyal people in the history of crime.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump stood on the White House lawn on Friday and said this about U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, right: “I hardly know the gentleman.” Nevermind that this statement is plainly, laughably untrue. It’s also just vicious. Sondland gave a million dollars to Trump’s inaugural fund, which we all know went straight into Trump’s pocket. Sondland had no dog in the Ukraine fight, yet he loyally carried out Trump’s criminally corrupt Ukraine scheming anyway. Yet when things got so gordon sondland ohot for Sondland that he had to reluctantly confess his own role in Trump’s criminal scandal, Trump had the nerve to claim he doesn’t know the guy.

As this is playing out, Donald Trump’s oldest friend Roger Stone is on trial for the crimes he committed in the name of helping Donald Trump rig the 2016 election. Trump won’t lift a finger to help Stone. We know this because Trump didn’t lift a finger to help Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, or anyone else who got caught committing crimes on Trump’s behalf. Stone will die in a cage just like Manafort will die in a cage, because Trump is just that vicious in his disloyalty to those who helped him get to where he is.

Of course Donald Trump’s cartoonish level of disloyalty is going to be his own undoing. Trump’s House GOP allies are preparing to scapegoat Trump loyalists Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney in a last ditch effort at insulating Trump – but Mick and Rudy are two nasty pricks who will take Trump down if he takes them down. And Cohen, who just wants out from under this mess, is about to testify to the New York grand jury that’s set to indict Trump, ensuring he goes to prison as soon as he’s out of office. Trump’s disloyalty will help ensure that Trump will die in a cage as well.

Nov. 8

Legal Scandal Headlines just security logo

Just Security, Public Document Clearinghouse: Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry, Julia Brooks and William Dawley, Nov. 8, 2019.  Just Security has compiled and curated all publicly available documents in Congress’s impeachment inquiry concerning President Donald Trump in connection with Ukraine. This collection seeks to include significant original source material, including relevant legislation, letters, subpoenas, deposition transcripts, executive branch communications, and litigation documents.

Please contact us if there are documents you believe should be added to the Clearinghouse.

For documents related to Congress’s various Russia investigations, see our Public Document Clearinghouse: Congressional Russia Investigations.

Readers may also be interested in Just Security’s Ukraine Timeline and Kate Brannen’s “A Who’s Who of Ukraine Witnesses.”

paul friedman graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ‘violates all recognized democratic norms,’ federal judge says in biting speech on judicial independence, Trump keeps lashing out at judges, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 8, 2019.  In an unusually critical speech that lamented the public’s flagging confidence in the independence of the judicial branch, a federal judge slammed President Trump for “feeding right into this destructive narrative” with repeated attacks and personal insults toward judges he dislikes.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman of the District of Columbia (shown above) said Trump’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms” during a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington on Wednesday.

“We are in unchartered territory,” said Friedman, 75, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.”

Other judges have raised similar concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and the increasingly partisan interpretation of judicial rulings, but as a senior judge and secretary of the American Law Institute, Friedman’s criticism carries weight.

Trump has denounced judges who have halted some of his administration’s most hotly debated policies, including his threats to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities and his attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The president also has attacked judges over rulings that negatively affect him personally.

In 2017, Trump tweeted how a judge’s decision not to imprison Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after walking away from his battalion in Afghanistan, was a “total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.” On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump had suggested Bergdahl was a “dirty rotten traitor” who should be sentenced to death.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt rudy giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro & Con Trump Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DCsteven menashi screenshot Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Foreign Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Scandal Headlines (Cont.).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 7

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

just security logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 6

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC 

paula white cain facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 5

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kurt,

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

Rudy.

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

Political Parody

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Media / Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 4

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 3

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Trump Probe Commentary

djt cpac gage skidmore Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 2

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Mr. Trump tweeted the hashtag himself.

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

 

Nov. 1

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Courts, Crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

October

Oct. 31

Trump Probes / Impeachment  djt handwave file

 

Trump Probe (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 30

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file


Trump Probe Evidence

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

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

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

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

Oct. 30

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Trump Probe Evidence

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

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

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

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

bob livingston full portrait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 29

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 28

U.S. Raid On Purported ISIS Leader

djt abu bakr al baghdadi raid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other U.S. News Headlines:

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media News

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

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

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

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

More On U.S. Raid On ISIS Leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 27

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis: What you missed this week in the impeachment inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how it went down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Headline News

 

Oct. 26

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democrats praised Judge Howell’s decision.

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

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

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

U.S. War In Syria

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

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

Trump #MeToo

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

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

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

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


Oct. 25

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Properties, Conflicts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump #MeToo donald trump apprentice color nbc

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections Probes of Russia

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 24

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 23

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 22

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 21

More Trump  #MeToo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Analysis: Why Republicans are trying to censure Adam Schiff

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

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 20

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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Other Headline News

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

djt trump doral Small

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

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

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

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

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

 mick mulvaney djt 2 Small

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

None of this is possible for Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global News: Brexit

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. 2020 Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 19

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

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

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

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

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh Lordy, I hope so.

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

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

Global News: Brexit

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Probe Clears Clinton

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

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

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

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

Trump Probe of Mueller Witnesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 18

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

 nancy pelosi djt oct 16 2019 cropped2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch

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

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

djt trump doral Small

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 17

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ny times logo

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

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

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

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

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

Trump, GOP Conflicts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 16

Explosive Trump Teen Rape Claim
djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

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

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

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

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

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

Among the lurid details of the lawsuit, Jane Doe alleged Trump tied her to a bed, "forcibly raped" her and threatened her and her family with physical harm, if not death, if she told anyone about the assault. "I understood that Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew that I was 13 years old," Jane Doe wrote in an affidavit.

Farrow alleges that after the suit was filed in September 2016, Enquirer editor Howard and Trump lawyer Cohen were in contact frequently. (Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last December on charges including campaign finance violations for his part in hush payments to McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.)

Editors' note: The Justice Integrity Project and Wayne Madsen Report wrote extensively about this case in a joint investigation and three-part series first published in January 2018, with the themes illustated by the graphic below.

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic maria

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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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.

Scandals At Veterans Administration

Associated Press via Military Times, Trump mulled order to close parts of VA health system, Shulkin says in new book, Hope Yen, Oct. 16, 2019. Eager for changes at the Department of ap logodavid shulkinVeterans Affairs, President Donald Trump toyed early on with issuing an executive order to close parts of the VA health system without consulting Congress, according to an upcoming book by his former VA secretary.

david shulkin bookIn the book, obtained by The Associated Press, David Shulkin, right, describes a March 6, 2017, conversation in the Oval Office where Trump explored ways his administration could act quickly to shutter government-run VA medical centers that he viewed as poorly performing.

Trump was fresh off his 2016 campaign in which privatizing VA had become a political hot button after he pledged to steer more veterans to private-sector doctors outside the VA. He had said the VA was the “the most corrupt” and “probably the most incompetently run” Cabinet department. Democrats and major veterans’ groups oppose “privatization” and say VA facilities are best-suited to treat battlefield injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the meeting, Trump asked whether “we should begin to close the VAs,” according to the book. Legislation prohibited that, so Shulkin responded that the VA was working with Congress to set up a system-wide review to address underperforming facilities, whether by fixing or closing.

“But this takes time,” Shulkin said.

Oct. 15

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update   

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy to personally benefit Trump, ex-adviser testifies, Karoun Demirjian, Shane Harris and Rachael Bade​, Oct. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Fiona Hill, who resigned from her National Security Council post earlier this year, told lawmakers that Rudolph W. Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats.

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Tuesday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer (and shown together with the president in a file photo), ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career fiona hilldiplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according a person familiar with her testimony.

Hill, shown left in a file photo, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of military aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she explained, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy, this person said on the condition of anonymity to disclose details her deposition.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment crisis shines a spotlight on Trump’s state of mind, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Oct. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The president has bullied and projected, portrayed himself as a victim and struck an authoritarian tone as he battles the biggest threat to his presidency so far.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House Democrats to huddle about the accelerating Trump impeachment inquiry, John Wagner​, Oct. 15, 2019.  As they return from recess, lawmakers have summoned another key State Department official to testify behind closed doors on Tuesday about the Ukraine controversy.

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

In a television interview that aired Tuesday, Hunter Biden conceded that it might have been a mistake to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president but insisted that he did not have an “ethical lapse.” He accused Giuliani and Trump of pressing “a ridiculous conspiracy” related to his tenure.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump hits 13,435 misleading or false claims as day 1,000 draws near, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Oct. 15, 2019. The president has significantly stepped up his pace of spouting exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasts and outright falsehoods, with the Ukraine fallout playing a big role in the uptick.

Transitions

washington post logoWashington Post, Rudy Giuliani’s latest divorce is bitter, expensive and very public, Roxanne Roberts​, Oct. 15, 2019. Giuliani’s private life has been splashed across New York tabloids for decades, and the lawyer representing his estranged wife thinks Giuliani is concealing money while working pro bono for President Trump. As a central figure in the Ukraine impeachment scandal, the exact nature of Giuliani’s clients and income is of interest to more than divorce lawyers.

“My divorce is my personal business,” Giuliani texted me last week. “I feel betrayed by a man that I supported in every way for more than 20 years,” Judith Giuliani told the New York Times last month. “I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.”

There’s never a good time for a nasty split, but perhaps this is the very worst of times for Giuliani. Giuliani, 75, is leaving this marriage the same way he entered it: with blaring headlines, tabloid updates and so much drama.

“He digs it,” says Ken Frydman, spokesman for his 1993 mayoral campaign. “He loves the attention. It’s sport for him — and a lack of judgment.”

In May 2000, New York’s two-term mayor called a news conference and announced a separation from his second wife, television anchor Donna Hanover. It was also a public acknowledgment of his year-long relationship with Judith Nathan, whom he praised as a “very, very fine woman.” The separation, however, was allegedly a surprise to his wife, who said she found out her 16-year marriage was ending by watching television.

A surprise, but also not surprising: Hanover started dating Giuliani when he was married to his first wife, Regina Peruggi. An eternal mystery: When the mistress becomes the wife, why is she shocked when another mistress enters the scene? (“Job opening,” goes the old joke.) The New York papers alluded to other indiscretions, but nothing serious became public until the infamous news conference.

Judith Giuliani, 64, receives $42,000 a month in alimony, an amount she claims is peanuts compared with the $230,000 per month they spent as a couple, according to the New York Times. Her lawyer, Bernard Clair, reported that Giuliani earned millions working at the law firm Greenberg Traurig: Almost $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017. He also claims that by working pro bono for Trump, his client’s husband is deliberately concealing income and working with people who will have to “reimburse him” at a later date.

Giuliani, on the other hand, is pleading poverty. Because he is working for free and paying his own expenses, his lawyer says he can’t afford to support his wife in the lifestyle to which she became accustomed and had to borrow money to pay taxes.

Oct. 14

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update   

washington post logoWashington Post, FEC chair warns charges against Giuliani associates ‘just the tip of the iceberg,’ Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 14, 2019. Yet the agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws has been effectively paralyzed since the departure of its Republican vice chair in August.

ellen weintraubFederal Elections Commission (FEC) Chair Ellen Weintraub, right, says the charges against two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer for scheming to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“There may well be a lot of money that is slipping into our system that we just don’t know about,” Weintraub said in a Friday interview.

And the question of whether Trump acted inappropriately by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden is at the core of the House's impeachment inquiry.

But the FEC is effectively paralyzed: The agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws has not been able to conduct any formal business since the departure of its Republican vice chair in August. It needs a quorum to function — and Trump has yet to appoint a fourth commissioner. Weintraub, a Democrat who has chaired the commission three times since her 2002 appointment by President George W. Bush, is very concerned — and says voters should be, too.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Impeachment Inquiry Live Updates, John Wagner​, Oct. 14, 2019. ​Trump renews call to unmask whistleblower; Hunter Biden does TV interview after decision to leave Chinese firm’s board, House investigators are preparing to hear from key witnesses in the impeachment probe this week, including the White House’s former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill today.

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment crisis shines a spotlight on Trump’s state of mind, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Oct. 14, 2019. The president has bullied and projected, portrayed himself as a victim and struck an authoritarian tone as he battles the biggest threat to his presidency so far.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat suggests committee may not press whistleblower to testify in person, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 14, 2019 (print ed.).  adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, said protecting the identity of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine is “our primary interest.”

Schiff made the statement in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” He had previously said late last month that he expected his panel to hear from the whistleblower “very soon” pending a security clearance from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Turk-Syrian War Coverage (Cont.)

SouthFront, Analysis: Turkey's Syrian National Army And Myth Of United Syrian Opposition, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 14, 2019. Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring once again drew wide attention not only to the so-called Kurdish question, but also to attempts of Ankara (under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, below left) to create a unified Syrian opposition as an alternative to the Assad government.

According to official Turkish statements, the goal of the operation is to secure the southern Turkish border defeating “the terrorism” and allow up to 2 million of refugees to return to their homes. Nonetheless, there are no doubts that the operation, like previous military actions in the provinces of recep erdogan with flagAleppo, Lattakia and Idlib, will be used by Turkey to expand its own influence.

The Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government headquartered and Turkish-affiliated militant groups would be used as a tool of projecting Turkish military and political influence in the area. The Syrian National Army (SNA) are a brand of militant groups participating in the northeastern Syria offensive. Turkey’s Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield demonstrated that the main goal of such groups is to serve as cannon folder on first line of the battle, while aircraft, battle tanks, artillery and special forces units of the Turkish Armed Forces do the main work. This allows Ankara to pretend that its actions in Syria are not military occupation, but a move needed to return the territory to the moderate Syrian opposition that opposes the ‘illegitimate regime’ of President Bashar al-Assad.

turkey flagIn the area of Greater Idlib, Turkish-backed factions formed the National Front for Liberation in May 2018, which was promoted as a moderate opposition coalition that would limit the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups. Despite claiming to have 70,000 fighters (sic), the coalition immediately lost a struggle for power to its al-Qaeda counterparts and became a subordinate to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In 2018 and 2019, groups from the National Front for Liberation repeatedly supposed al-Qaeda operations against the Syrian Army.

Just a few days ahead of the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey attempted to unite the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. On October 4, the groups even released a statement claiming that they had merged. A few hours after the release, fierce clashes between the groups erupted over properties seized in the Afrin area. This put an end to the unification efforts at least for now.

ny times logokurd flagNew York Times, Syrian War Live Updates, Staff reports, Oct. 14, 2019. Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey, Hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, the Syrian Army entered a key town near the Turkish border — a significant shift in the power dynamic; The European Union member states unanimously agreed to a ban on arms sales to Turkey; Russia’s expanding role in Syria is tempered by risks, analysts say.

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast, David E. Sanger, Oct. 14, 2019. All the warnings were there. But President Trump’s reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State.

President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

Oct. 13

Turk-Kurd War In Syria

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update  

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washington post logoWashington Post, Envoy to say his denial of quid pro quo came from Trump, Aaron C. Davis and John Hudson, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

gordon sondland oSondland, left, plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth,” said the person familiar with Sondland’s planned testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.

The Sept. 9 exchange between Sondland and the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine has become central to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his office in pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The White House and its defenders have held up Sondland’s text, which included “no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” as proof that none was ever considered.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Gordon Sondland has sold Donald Trump out, Bill Palmer, Oct. 12, 2019. It’s not surprising that current U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying to the House impeachment inquiry this upcoming week after Trump originally blocked him from testifying last week. After all, the President Trump on Time Magazine's cover Feb. 27, 2017testimony floodgates are now open. What is more newsworthy is that details are leaking out about what Sondland is planning to say to the House – and it’s not good for Trump.

Gordon Sondland is a Donald Trump ally, but he’s in way over his head. Sondland is facing potential criminal culpability for his role in Trump’s Ukraine scandal, and at this point he’s surely wishing he’d never taken the gig. If he lies to the House, he’ll be indicted for perjury after Trump is gone. If he refuses to testify, he’ll eventually be indicted for obstruction of justice. The only safe way for him to return unscathed to his old life as a hotel financier is to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry as thoroughly as possible.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening the Washington Post is reporting that Gordon Sondland plans to testify that when he told the State Department’s Bill Taylor that there was no quid pro quo, he was merely quoting what Donald Trump told him – and that he has no idea if Trump was telling the truth. This doesn’t incriminate Trump. But it wipes out Trump’s would-be defense that Sondland concurrently agreed with him that there was no quid pro quo. This is huge.

If this news gets back to Donald Trump before Gordon Sondland’s scheduled testimony this Thursday, Trump will surely want to find a way to stop Sondland from testifying. But it’s too late now. Sondland himself is clearly the source for this WaPo story. By putting it out there that he plans to sell Trump out, he’s setting things up so that there would be far too much backlash if Trump did try to pull the plug.

washington post logoWashington Post, How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 13, 2019. Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born emigre, appeared at a dark time in Donald Trump’s djt jr lev parnas ron desantis fundraiser Custompresidential campaign. Less than a month before the election, major GOP donors had been spooked by the revelation that Trump boasted about grabbing women during a recording of the television show “Access Hollywood.”

Parnas (identified in the promo at right as a "steering committee" member with Donald Trump Jr. for a fund-raiser for successful Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis) had never been a player in national Republican politics. But the onetime stockbroker chose that moment to deliver a $50,000 donation to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party, and it quickly opened doors.

The contribution helped propel Parnas and his business partner, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, on an extraordinarily rapid rise into the upper echelon of Trump allies — before they became central figures in the presidential impeachment inquiry.

By spring 2018, the two men had dined with Trump, breakfasted with his son and attended exclusive events at Mar-a-Lago and the White House, all while jetting around the world and spending lavishly, particularly at Trump hotels in New York and Washington. That May, a pro-Trump super PAC reported receiving a $325,000 donation from an energy company the duo had recently formed.

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomAs they scaled the ranks of Trump’s Washington, Parnas and Fruman demonstrated a remarkable facility for capitalizing on their newfound connections, according to people who observed them. They also appeared to be constantly in pursuit of new business ventures — “always hustling,” in the words of one Trump ally who interacted with them.

In 2018, they hired the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to serve as a consultant as they launched a security business — and then helped Giuliani, in turn, reach Ukrainian officials in his quest to find information damaging to Democrats. (See video clip here of Parnas with Giuliani at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC,  along with still photo at right).

During a visit to Israel last summer sponsored by a pro-Israel charity, Parnas and Fruman were “mega-dropping Rudy’s name” as they snapped photos with well-known figures, according to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was also on the trip.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat suggests committee may not press whistleblower to testify in person, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 13, 2019.  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said protecting the identity of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine is “our primary interest.”

Schiff made the statement in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” He had previously said late last month that he expected his panel to hear from the whistleblower “very soon” pending a security clearance from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hunter Biden will step down from board of Chinese firm, attorney says, Felicia Sonmez​, Oct. 13, 2019. Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, said Sunday that he will step down from his position on the board of a Chinese company, a move that comes amid escalating attacks from President Trump.

hunter bidenIn a statement released by his attorney, Hunter Biden, right, also said he would not serve on the boards of foreign-owned companies if his father wins the 2020 china flag Smallpresidential election.

At a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday night, Trump attacked both Bidens in his most personal terms yet, highlighting unsubstantiated claims about Hunter Biden and using profanity to describe Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president.

“Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said. “Hunter, you’re a loser.” Mocking Hunter Biden’s lack of public appearances, Trump bellowed: “Whatever happened to Hunter? Where the hell is he? . . . burisma logoI have an idea for a new T-shirt . . . Where’s Hunter?”

Hunter Biden served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, left, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors on suspicion of abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The media needs to focus on the real corruption, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 13, 2019. Hunter Biden and his father are the victims jennifer rubin new headshotof a smear campaign by the most corrupt president in history, who falsely alleges that Joe Biden intervened in Ukraine to protect his son who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

(“Trump has alleged that Vice President Biden in 2016 threatened to withhold billions of dollars in loan guarantees unless Ukraine fired the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, as a way to quash the probe and help his son. But U.S. and Ukrainian officials said the investigation at the time was dormant and that Shokin was fired for the opposite reason: failing to fight corruption.”)

Hunter Biden is taking a step that no other prospective presidential adult child in recent memory has undertaken. Moreover — and here is the most grossly underreported story of the Trump years — the Trump clan, even those working in the administration, continue to make a mint trading on their father’s name.

Bloomberg notes:

Biden’s pledge to avoid foreign work if his father wins the White House sets him apart from Trump’s children, who have continued working with foreign business partners from Dubai to Indonesia and India while his father sits in the White House. After Trump won the presidency in 2016, he handed the running of the Trump Organization to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, and said they wouldn’t do any new overseas deals.

jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookMeanwhile, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, right, work in the White House without divesting themselves of business holdings or forgoing foreign transactions, thereby raising the possibility in the minds of foreign leaders that the two can be manipulated. The Post reported in February 2018: “Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.”

President Trump unconstitutionally receives the benefits of foreign deals and refuses to release his tax returns that would reveal sources of income. And we’re supposed to be concerned that Hunter Biden, whose father is no longer in office, is serving on a Chinese company’s board? Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

ny times logoNew York Times, James Comey Would Like to Help, Matt Flegenheimer, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The former F.B.I. director wants an end to the Trump presidency. And yes, he knows you might think he caused it. James Comey slumps strategically in restaurants — all 6-foot-8 of him, drooping faux-furtively with his back to the room — and daydreams about deleting the civic-minded Twitter feed where a bipartisan coalition pronounces him a national disgrace.

He sleeps soundly — nine hours a night, he ballparks — and organizes the self-described “unemployed celebrity” chapter of his life around a series of workaday goals. “One of my goals has been to get to 10 consecutive pull-ups,” Mr. Comey (shown in a file photo) said in an interview, legs crossed on the back porch of his stately Virginia home. “I’m at nine now. So, I’ve been doing a lot of pull-ups.”

He writes and thinks and reads and worries from a tidy downstairs office surrounded by the trinkets of his past. What he is doing, exactly, is not entirely clear even to him. Rather than proceed with the standard arc of an erstwhile intelligence leader — think tanks, corporate boards, studied political silence — Mr. Comey has pledged to spend the next 13 months working to FBI logodrive Mr. Trump from power.

The former F.B.I. director, a lover of order, sees little of it in a norm-smashing president spiraling toward impeachment, riffing on “sick and deranged” Democrats at a recent rally and playacting the dialogue of F.B.I. officials like an insult comic. In this concern, Mr. Comey has ample company. In this company, he carries a kind of customized psychic baggage.

“Thanks for giving us Donald Trump,” an older woman heckled recently, adding an expletive as Mr. Comey strolled through a Yale Law School building, where he had come for a talk that focused largely on his fateful 2016 decisions and attendant personal anguish.

“Thank you for the feedback,” he told her.

Oct. 12

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump renews claim that he is immune from criminal investigation in effort to block Manhattan DA probe, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 12, 2019. President Trump on Friday repeated his assertion of sweeping executive immunity — arguing in court that, because he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomTrump’s personal attorneys made the argument in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. They are seeking to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a suit the president filed seeking to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) from obtaining Trump’s tax returns.

“The President is immune from criminal process while in office, and a grand-jury subpoena (a coercive order backed by the State’s threat of contempt) is certainly a form of ‘criminal process,’ ” wrote Trump’s private legal team, led by William Consovoy.

The subpoena in this case was not actually directed at Trump. Vance has subpoenaed the records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, as part of an investigation that appears targeted at possible falsification of business records related to a scheme to silence two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump.

Justice Department log circularIn his filing Friday, Trump returned to an argument that a lower-court judge had already rejected earlier this week. He argued that, as president, he is too important to be prosecuted while in office.

[Justice Department lends its firepower to defend Trump in investigations into his private finances]

And if presidents are too important to be prosecuted, Trump said, then it follows that they must also be too important to be burdened with an investigation by prosecutors.

“If the Court holds that the President is not immune from state criminal process, then Presidents must contend not just with [Vance] but with every state and local prosecutor across the country” seeking to investigate them, Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Only Congress can investigate the president through the impeachment process, Trump argued. He said the Constitution gives the federal government supremacy over the states and prohibits state-level investigations that would eat up the president’s time and sully his prestige.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work, Michael S. Schmidt, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). rudy giuliani recentProsecutors are investigating if Rudy Giuliani, right, President Trump’s lawyer, broke lobbying laws in his Ukraine dealings, people briefed on the inquiry said.

Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, are under scrutiny.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

Justice Department log circularMr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends Giuliani amid reports of federal investigation, John Hudson, Oct. 12, 2019. The president’s support comes a day after he seemed to put distance between himself and the former mayor when asked if Rudy Giuliani still worked for him as a personal attorney.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Personally Pushed to Remove Ukraine Envoy, She Tells House, Sharon LaFraniere and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine despite her boss saying she had “done nothing wrong,” she told House impeachment investigators. In scathing testimony indicting President Trump’s conduct of foreign policy, she warned that private interests have usurped diplomats’ judgment.

marie yovanovitchMarie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine in May, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

In a closed-door deposition that could further fuel calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, Ms. Yovanovitch delivered a scathing indictment of how his administration conducts foreign policy. She warned that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service. And she said that diplomats no longer have confidence that their government “will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.”

According to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Yovanovitch said she was “incredulous” that she was removed as ambassador “based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

ukraine flagMs. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service and three-time ambassador, spoke to investigators on Capitol Hill even though the State Department had directed her not to late Thursday and in defiance of the White House’s declaration that administration officials would not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. Democrats leading the inquiry said that order amounted to obstruction of their inquiry and quietly issued a subpoena Thursday morning with the understanding that Ms. Yovanovitch would then cooperate.

Her searing account, delivered at the risk of losing her job, could lend new momentum to the impeachment inquiry that imperils Mr. Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The story of Rudy Giuliani, his arrested henchmen, and a Ukrainian oligarch just took an even nastier turn, Bill Palmer, Oct. 12, 2019. When two of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine scandal co-conspirators were arrested this week, they were attempting to flee to Vienna. Then it turned out Rudy was also planning to head to Vienna. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out that they had been planning to rendezvous overseas, before it all went wrong. The question was why they were headed to that city in particular.

dmytro firtashRachel Maddow was the one who pointed out that oligarch Dmytro Firtash, right, is currently being held under house arrest in Vienna. Firtash has ties to Ukraine and ties to Donald Trump’s former henchman Paul Manafort, so it made a lot of sense that Firtash would be the one behind the entire Trump-Rudy plot in Ukraine. Now we’re getting confirmation of precisely that.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of Rudy’s arrested associates, Lev Parnas, actually worked for Dmytro Firtash, according to a new report from Reuters. This explains why Rudy, Parnas, and Igor Fruman were trying to get to Firtash in Vienna as their scheme was falling apart; they were seeking new marching orders.

This comes amid the news that Lev Parnas ran a company called Fraud Guarantee which paid Rudy Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars – meaning that Rudy worked for Parnas and not the other way around. Now we know that Parnas worked for Firtash, which means that Rudy worked for Firtash. That makes Rudy an agent of a foreign government. In other words, Giuliani is in even deeper legal trouble than we thought.

michelle goldberg thumbny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America Exports Its Corruption to Ukraine, Michelle Goldberg, Oct. 12, 2019. Once upon a time, we spread ideals of democracy and rule of law. Now? We send Giuliani. In 2014, Ukraine’s wildly corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia after mass protests on the Maidan, Kiev’s central square.

During what Ukrainians call the Revolution of Dignity, police snipers killed dozens of demonstrators. In the revolution’s aftermath, a number of young idealists decided to plunge into politics, hoping to reform their troubled country from the inside. One of them was Serhiy Leshchenko, at the time perhaps the country’s most famous investigative journalist.

serhiy leshchenko wLeshchenko, left, a lanky, bearded hipster with a passion for rave culture, became part of a cadre of Western-oriented newcomers elected to Parliament, even as he continued to work as a journalist exposing corruption. This year, after Volodymyr Zelensky won the presidential election, Leshchenko advised him during the transition.

rudy giuliani recentThen Rudy Giuliani, right, began attacking Leshchenko as a conspirator against America.

In 2016, Leshchenko had helped expose the “black ledger,” an accounting book of hundreds of pages found in Yanukovych’s former party headquarters. Among its many entries, it showed $12.7 million in secret payments to Paul Manafort. At the time, Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but before that, he was one of Yanukovych’s most important advisers.

One of the reasons Manafort, below at left in a mug shot, is in federal prison is that he failed to disclose or pay taxes on millions of dollars from Ukraine. But if you believe Giuliani, the black ledger was part of a plot to damage Trump.

paul manafort mugDuring a Fox News appearance on May 10, Giuliani described the ledger as a “falsely created book” and Leshchenko as part of a group of “enemies of the president, in some cases enemies of the United States.” Last month, in an epic, ranting interview on CNN, he accused Ukraine’s leading anti-corruption organization, the Anti-Corruption Action Center, or AntAC, of developing “all of the dirty information that ended up being a false document that was created in order to incriminate Manafort.”

In Giuliani’s fevered alternative reality, Ukraine’s most stalwart foes of corruption are actually corruption’s embodiment. Deeply compromised figures with vendettas against the activists — particularly the ex-prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko — are transformed into heroes.

Inside DC

washington post logokevin mcaleenan o Custom 2Washington Post, McAleenan steps down as acting DHS secretary, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Kevin McAleenan, right, was frustrated with President Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles. More hardline figures attacked him as insufficiently committed to Trump’s immigration agenda, and critics of those policies argued he gave cover to harsh measures.

Turk-Kurd War In Syria

ny times logoNew York Times, Syrian Arab Fighters Backed by Turkey Kill Two Kurdish Prisoners, Ben Hubbard, Karam Shoumali, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 12, 2019. The killings, one of them caught on video, raised the specter of wider sectarian warfare as fighting in Syria escalates.

Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters killed at least two Kurdish prisoners on Saturday, one of them lying on the ground with his hands bound behind his back, in a powerful illustration of the forces unleashed by President Trump’s decision to pull back American troops shielding former Kurdish allies in northern Syria.

A video that captured one of the killings shows two of the Turkish-backed group’s fighters firing bullets at close range into the man with his hands tied while their colleagues shout “God is great!” The second prisoner who was killed appears in the video alive and wearing a military uniform, but he is missing from the group’s later social media post about its captives.

“The guy in the military outfit was neutralized,” said Al-Harith Rabah, a media activist with the Arab fighters who was at the scene.

The killing of two Kurdish captives by Arab fighters — a possible war crime — is an indication of the ethnically tinged hatreds flaring in the wake of President Trump’s pullback of American forces in the area. The move cleared the way for a Turkish military incursion into a northern Syria border area aimed at rooting out the Kurdish-led militia that had been the key American-allied ground force helping to wrest territory from the Islamic State.

On Saturday, Turkey and its allied Syrian fighters established a foothold in a strategic Syrian border town, Ras al-Ain, and were gathering to launch an offensive against another, Tel Abyad, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry and a spokesman for the Turkish-backed fighters.

The new hostilities have displaced at least 100,000 people and ignited fears that tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and their relatives held by the Kurds could escape their camps and prisons.

The two captives were killed early Saturday after the militant group Ahrar al-Sharqiyeh, which had entered Syria from Turkey, took control of a main road through the territory and began stopping passing cars, according to Mr. Rabah, the media activist.

When military vehicles belonging to the Kurdish-led militia passed, the militants stopped them, at times getting into clashes, he said.

Also killed on a main road through the territory was Hervin Khalaf, the head of a Kurdish political party. Kurdish officials accused Turkish-allied Arab fighters of attacking her car, a charge a spokesman for the Arab fighters denied.

Mr. Rabah said his group killed nine Kurdish fighters, he said, without specifying whether the two prisoners were among them.

When asked about the video showing the Turkish-allied fighters shooting the bound prisoner, Mr. Rabah grew nervous and said he had been trying to stop them from shooting.

Oct. 11

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

 

Impeachment Inquiry Update

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

President Trump with, from left, Vice President Michael Pence, recently indicted businessmen Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's private attorney.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two business associates of Giuliani arrested on campaign finance charges, Devlin Barrett and John Wagner​​, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). igor fruman mugLev Parnas and Igor Fruman, right, who routed a large donation to a pro-Trump super PAC, are accused of taking part in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffThe indictment also charges that Fruman and Parnas, left, shown in a mug shot like his co-defendant, schemed to donate money to an unidentified U.S. congressman, at the same time they were asking that congressman to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her job.

The two men, who helped Giuliani investigate former vice president Joe Biden, were arrested Wednesday night in Virginia and charged with campaign finance violations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Fraud Guarantee” bombshell reveals Rudy Giuliani is even more screwed than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Late last night the internet erupted with laughter and disbelief when it was reported that one of the Rudy Giuliani associates arrested yesterday had been running a company called “Fraud Guarantee.” It seems everything involving Rudy these days is good for a laugh. But there are two key points in the Fraud Guarantee bombshell that spell out, in very serious fashion, just how screwed Giuliani is.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen the “two stooges” were arrested yesterday, the essential question was whether a money trail would emerge which tied Rudy Giuliani to their financial scheming. It turns out the answer is yes. The SDNY won’t have to go digging at random in the hope of finding that money trail, as the New York Times has already found it for them. Here’s the kicker, though. These two henchmen weren’t working for Rudy. He was apparently working for them.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani CustomLev Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rudy Giuliani. This helps answer longstanding questions about how Rudy’s scheming in Ukraine was being funded. It also erases any argument that Rudy might be able to make in court that he was acting on American interests, because it turns out he was literally on the payroll of one of the criminals who was carrying out the Ukraine dirty work.

This also raises questions about whether Rudy Giuliani properly reported this foreign income, whether he tried to hide the money from his wife as their divorce plays out, and whether he registered as a foreign agent. At this point it’s impossible not to imagine that Rudy will be arrested. In fact it may just be a matter of the Feds giving the two stooges the opportunity to decide whether to flip on Rudy before they arrest him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tells reporters he doesn’t know if Giuliani is still his attorney, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). But in a text message to a Post reporter shortly after President Trump made his comments, Rudolph W. Giuliani confirmed that he’s still representing him.

washington post logoWashington Post, New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, Rachael Bade, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Recent revelations about President Trump’s conduct are testing the limits of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, leading some Democrats to wonder nancy pelosi djtwhether the probe should be expanded beyond the Ukraine scandal.

• At least four officials raised alarms about Ukraine around time of Trump’s call
• Trump wanted Tillerson to help broker a deal to stop prosecution of a Giuliani client
• Ousted Ukraine envoy arrives at Capitol Hill to speak with House investigators
• Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Gordon Sondland agrees to appear next week under subpoena, John Wagner, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.).  As the impeachment inquiry moved forward on Capitol Hill, President Trump prepared to hold his second campaign rally in as many days.

gordon sondland oU.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, left, a key figure in the Ukraine controversy, bucked the State Department on Friday and announced he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.

The State Department blocked Sondland from appearing before three panels last week as the White House informed Democratic leaders they had no intention of cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

washington post logo

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.

washington post logo

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Donald Trump tossed John Bolton out on the street, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Back when Donald Trump abruptly fired his National Security Adviser John Bolton via tweet, it was evident that something wasn’t right. At the time, Trump had just invited the Taliban to Camp David, amid reports that Bolton strongly opposed the move. Trump was clearly ousting Bolton because he was getting in the way of Trump’s most deranged antics. Now it turns out it’s even uglier than we knew.

When Donald Trump first started hatching his scheme to try to extort the President of Ukraine, John Bolton got word of what was going on. Bolton then began running around trying to get his hands on the transcript of the call so he could find out just how awful it was, but he couldn’t get ahold of it because it was being locked away in the secret classified server.

This is all according to a new Washington Post article, and based on the manner in which John Bolton is being portrayed as the hero of his own story, it’s not difficult to figure out that he’s the source for the article. But there appears to be some corroboration of this, as one unnamed official tells the WaPo that Bolton went “ballistic” after Gordon Sondland admitted that the Trump regime was planning to open a sham investigation into the Bidens.

When you picture a vindictive bloodthirsty monster like John Bolton running around the White House and yelling at everyone because he’d stumbled across Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, no wonder Trump threw the guy out on the street. Considering how eager Bolton clearly is to tell his side of the story, it now seems a given that he’ll testify to the House impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court rules against Trump in fight with Congress over accounting firm records, Ann E. Marimow, Spencer S. Hsu and David A. Fahrenthold​, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Congress can seek eight years of President Trump’s business records from his accounting firm, a federal appeals court ruled in one of several legal battles over access to the president’s financial data.

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld Congress’s broad investigative powers and rejected the president’s bid to block lawmakers from subpoenaing the documents.

The case is one of several clashes between the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican president over Trump’s data that is expected to reach the Supreme Court. In this case, the judges ruled that Trump’s arguments — that the subpoenas were invalid because Congress lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose” for its subpoenas — were incorrect.

“Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” Judges David S. Tatel and Patricia A. Millett wrote for the court. Both were appointed by Democratic presidents.

The president was appealing a lower court’s decision that allowed a House Oversight Committee to move forward with its request for financial statements and audits prepared for Trump and his companies by the accounting firm Mazars USA.

In her dissent, Judge Neomi Rao — appointed by Trump — said if the House wants to investigate possible wrongdoing by the president it should do so by invoking its constitutional impeachment powers not its regular oversight powers.

It is unclear what will happen next in this case, but Trump seems likely to appeal — either to the full D.C. Circuit, or to the Supreme Court.

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Audacious Move on Impeachment Tests Political Order, Peter Baker, right, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). 2019. The White House’s decision not to cooperate is aimed less at convincing a judge than convincing the public.

Breathtaking in scope, defiant in tone, the White House’s refusal to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry amounts to an unabashed challenge to America’s longstanding constitutional order.

In effect, President Trump is making the sweeping assertion that he can ignore Congress as it weighs his fate because he considers the impeachment effort unfair and the Democrats who initiated it biased against him, an argument that channeled his anger even as it failed to pass muster with many scholars on Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached, 17 Watergate special prosecutors, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). We, former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force, believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment, unless disproved by any contrary evidence that the president may choose to offer.

U.S. House logoThe ultimate judgment on whether to impeach the president is for members of the House of Representatives to make. The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly. The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.

In reaching these conclusions, we take note of 1) the public statements by Trump himself; 2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation; 3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; 4) the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and 5) other information now publicly available, including State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.

washington post logodjt maga hat speech uncredited CustomWashington Post, Trump’s Syria decision tests GOP support amid impeachment inquiry, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Instead of enjoying uncontested Republican support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, President Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his own party.

washington post logoWashington Post, George Conway and other prominent conservatives call for ‘expeditious’ impeachment probe, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). More than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers, including George T. Conway III, offered their legal reasoning for an “expeditious” impeachment probe into President Trump, creating a document they hope will be read by Republicans who continue to stand by the president.

The 16 attorneys, many of whom worked in Republican administrations, wrote in a joint statement to be released Thursday morning that Trump’s now infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the text messages between diplomats and Trump’s public call for China to investigate a political opponent are “undisputed” events that amount to Trump violating his oath of office.

george conway twitterConway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and outspoken Trump critic shown at right on his Twitter photo, helped form a coalition of like-minded conservatives a year ago who wanted to call out what they deemed illegal and unconstitutional behavior by the president. The signatories are members of that group, Checks and Balances.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration and Allies Pummeled With New Subpoenas, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). House investigators demanded documents from Rick Perry and testimony from the two Giuliani associates who were arrested. House investigators pounded the Trump administration and its allies on Thursday with new subpoenas, demanding documents from Rick Perry,  the energy secretary, and testimony from two more witnesses as they aggressively challenged a White House pledge to starve their impeachment inquiry of evidence.

rick perry oThree Democratic chairmen leading the inquiry instructed Mr. Perry, right, to turn over by next Friday any records that would shed light on President Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to open corruption investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son. Investigators also want answers on whether Mr. Perry tried to influence the management of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company.

Hours earlier, they demanded that two businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, appear for depositions next Wednesday and hand over records related to their work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer. Mr. Giuliani has been the point man in the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, around which the inquiry is centered. The subpoenas came shortly after the two men were indicted on federal campaign finance charges that touched on their work in Ukraine.

The new subpoenas, and more in the works, sent a clear message to the White House that Democrats do not intend to back down from a growing constitutional clash over their inquiry, even after the White House defiantly said this week that it would stonewall all requests for witnesses and documents.

The Hill via MSN, White House accidentally sends Ukraine talking points to Democrats again, Mike Lillis and Juliegrace Brufke, Oct. 11, 2019. The White House accidentally sent Democrats a list of talking points related to ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch's Friday House deposition, two sources with knowledge of the email told The Hill, the second time in a month the administration has sent its Ukraine talking points to Democrats.

The email included guidance for Republicans seeking to defend the president from potentially damaging witness testimony from an ambassador who was removed from her post in May under controversial circumstances.

In copies of the guidance shared with The Hill, The White House encouraged Republicans to adopt a series of messages designed to turn the tables back on Democrats, including attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's (D-Calif.) handling of the probe.

Yovanovitch told House lawmakers that she was removed after "a concerted campaign against" her from President Trump and his allies.

The email marks the second time the White House has unintentionally sent talking points to Democrats in recent weeks, after an administration official inadvertently emailed them suggested rhetoric defending the July 25 phone call.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump Policy That Favors Wealthy Immigrants, Miriam Jordan, Oct. 11, 2019. A federal judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction on Friday blocking the start of a new federal policy that would deny legal residency to immigrants who are likely to depend on public welfare.

In one of two legal setbacks on Friday for the Trump administration’s attempts to limit immigration, Judge George B. Daniels of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York said those potentially affected by the new regulation could suffer “irreparable harm” if the rule goes into effect. “The balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction,” the judge wrote.

The “public charge” rule, which had been scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, set new standards for determining who might become a burden on the public purse and barred them from obtaining permanent residence in the country.

“The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification,” Judge Daniels, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, wrote in his ruling. “It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

ny times logoNew York Times, Those Foreign Business Ties? The Trump Sons Have Plenty Too, Eric Lipton, Steve Eder and Ben Protess, Oct. 11, 2019. Last month, the Trump family business received approval from a local government in Scotland for a major expansion of its golf resort near Aberdeen, marking the largest real estate development financed by the Trump Organization since the 2016 election.

In August, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., flew to Jakarta to help kick-start sales at a pair of Trump-branded luxury resorts planned for Indonesia. He appeared at a private event with wealthy prospective buyers and joined his politically connected billionaire Indonesian business partner at a news conference.

And last year, Donald Jr. visited India to sell condos at future Trump-branded towers, appearing at an event that also featured India’s prime minister.

“I’m here as a businessman,” Mr. Trump told the gathering in New Delhi. “I’m not representing anyone.”

But for the children of the politically powerful, personal business and public dealings can often be indistinguishable, especially when private projects depend on foreign governments that are looking to bolster ties with Washington.

In recent weeks, as the president has become embroiled in a scandal involving his interactions with Ukraine, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have taken to attacking Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., for his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

Republicans, led by the president, have sought to make Hunter Biden’s international business dealings an issue in the impeachment debate in Washington. But the high-profile attack roles being played by Mr. Trump’s eldest sons have now thrust their own business dealings into the spotlight too.

Both sons have operated and promoted the Trump family business overseas during their father’s presidency, even as he retains ownership. And while the Trump and Biden father-son relationships differ in many ways, the business dealings have set up a simple parallel.

“They are criticizing the vice president’s son for doing exactly what they are doing themselves,” said Martin Ford, a member of the Aberdeenshire Council in Scotland, which voted last month to approve a proposal by the Trumps to build a 500-unit housing development. “They are conducting international business here in Scotland.”

Eric Trump, in a statement to The New York Times, said there was a distinction between his father’s career in business, with his recent turn to politics, and Mr. Biden’s decades in public office.

Oct. 10

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Inquiry Update (Cont.)

Daily Kos, Giuliani pals were attempting to flee country when arrested for bribery, funneling foreign funds, Mark Sumner, Oct. 10, 2019. Two men who assisted Rudy Giuliani in creating the Ukraine smear against Joe Biden have been arrested for campaign finance violations. While both men funneled six figure donations to Donald Trump through a PAC run by Donald Trump Jr., that does not appear to be the primary focus of the charges.

Instead it seems the men are being charged for something more direct — bringing foreign funds into a U.S. election and plain old bribery. The source of marie yovanovitchthat money was apparently Ukraine, the purpose of that bribery was getting rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (right and requested to testify by the U.S. House).

According to the indictment unsealed in New York, Parnas, Fruman and other 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.

washington post logo

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