It Begins
September 24, 2019 2:59 PM   Subscribe

In response to the revelation that the Trump administration had used government aid to Ukraine to attempt to force the nation to provide opposition materials against Joe Biden with regards to his son Hunter, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has formally announced the creation of an inquiry to investigate and pursue articles of impeachment against the President. (SLWaPo)

The inquiry will fold the existing investigations under a central umbrella, focused on making the case for impeachment of the President. The move comes in response to moves made by a number of Democratic Representatives in light of the Ukraine revelations, most notibly an op-ed by seven freshman Representatives stating that they constituted grounds for impeachment.
posted by NoxAeternum (1813 comments total) 161 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy shit. Finally.
posted by medusa at 3:00 PM on September 24 [82 favorites]


Finally.
posted by saladin at 3:00 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


To be clear: I still think the most likely scenario is the Dems manage to shoot themselves in the dick again, don't even make it to a full impeachment, and Trump skates to reelection on the same heady combination of white nationalism and naked election rigging that got him elected in the first place. But ye gods, at least now we have some indication that the opposition is actually, ya know, opposed to this shit, beyond sarcastic clapping and "have you no decency" op-eds or whatever.
posted by saladin at 3:06 PM on September 24 [119 favorites]


Video of the announcement from C-SPAN.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:07 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


Given the composition of the Senate, probably an exercise in futility. But the enhanced investigatory powers afforded may be enough to end the Administration stonewalling and flip over some interesting rocks for 2020...
posted by jim in austin at 3:07 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


"These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect." Reps. Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia

I do not look forward to the 24/7 cycle of insanity this will cause but I am glad that these 7 citizens spoke up for the rest of us.
posted by narancia at 3:10 PM on September 24 [39 favorites]


I can't wait to see Hannity flailing about the screen like a muppet in a garbage disposal tonight while I'm at the gym.
posted by msbutah at 3:12 PM on September 24 [162 favorites]


Baby steps.
posted by Fizz at 3:14 PM on September 24 [12 favorites]


I do not look forward to the 24/7 cycle of insanity this will cause but I am glad that these 7 citizens spoke up for the rest of us.

We are already in the insanity cycle tho
posted by emjaybee at 3:14 PM on September 24 [52 favorites]


From the op-ed linked, emphasis mine:
The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it. He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain. These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent. We also know that on Sept. 9, the inspector general for the intelligence community notified Congress of a “credible” and “urgent” whistleblower complaint related to national security and potentially involving these allegations. Despite federal law requiring the disclosure of this complaint to Congress, the administration has blocked its release to Congress.
Except both Trump and his personal goon Rudy Giuliani have both admitted that he definitely did do it (David A. Graham at The Atlantic):
And then on Sunday, Trump helpfully put an end to the speculation: Of course he did it.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption—all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to [sic] the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump said. (Neither Ukraine nor Trump has produced any evidence to support that claim about the Bidens.) Trump once again implicitly admitted pressuring Ukraine during remarks at the United Nations Monday.


And here's Rudy's utterly senseless interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN the other day.

At this point it doesn't matter whether the Senate will convict the president if he's impeached. The important thing is to stand up to this wanton abuse of the power of the US President immediately, and firmly.
posted by carsonb at 3:14 PM on September 24 [81 favorites]


I feel more queasy than relieved, cause even if this all ends exactly the way we'd like it to, the short term is gonna be rough.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:15 PM on September 24 [26 favorites]


flailing about the screen like a muppet in a garbage disposal A line so nice I thought it should be posted twice. Thanks for the smile.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:16 PM on September 24 [115 favorites]


exactly the way we'd like it to does not, in my case, include ending up with Pence.
posted by Clowder of bats at 3:18 PM on September 24 [15 favorites]


Eight-year-old Micro McGee, upon hearing the news, "MOM! Maybe he wanted to buy Greenland to hide from Nancy Pelosi!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:18 PM on September 24 [184 favorites]


"I feel more queasy than relieved, cause even if this all ends exactly the way we'd like it to, the short term is gonna be rough."

the medium to long term is not looking smooth either. might as well enjoy the ride.
posted by elkevelvet at 3:21 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


I'm rage crying with a dose of shruggy emoticon and local craft brew and ditchweed
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:26 PM on September 24 [41 favorites]


I guess this is progress, but I don't have any hope that the Senate will do the right thing.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:27 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


I've never understood people who say removing trump and having Pence take charge would be worse since he's "just as evil, but competent" because:
A. He's not competent.
B. Everyone in trump's administration (heck, the entire G.O.P.) is just as evil, with varying degrees of competence.
C. trump has a cult. There can be no Cult of Pence, as he has all the charisma of an uncooked spaghetti noodle.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:27 PM on September 24 [171 favorites]


exactly the way we'd like it to does not, in my case, include ending up with Pence.

Well, the Senate will not convict so that is not going to happen. What we'll get is a public airing of the offenses.

If Pelosi has been overly cautious on pulling the trigger we might hope that her caution extends to insisting that the investigations are effective and not just grandstanding by bloviating pols. It's a given that the investigations will end in the House; they should make the best of the opportunity.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:29 PM on September 24 [21 favorites]


I look forward to the release of a transcript of the call with the damning sentences clumsily written over in Sharpie.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:30 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


I guess this is progress, but I don't have any hope that the Senate will do the right thing.

I realize it's not a given that Dems will make the correct PR play, but this can help remove him from power even without the Senate. Near-daily hearings on Trump's abuses of power would be powerful weapons in the court of public opinion and make his re-election far less likely.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:30 PM on September 24 [49 favorites]


Man, I picked an amazing time to take a sick day today.

8 am: Guess I'll just be sitting on the couch playing goose game all day.

4 pm after obsessively refreshing Twitter for hours: ITSHAPPENING.GIF
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:30 PM on September 24 [43 favorites]


Unanimous consent in the Senate to demand the whistleblower complaint also happened.
posted by Glinn at 3:31 PM on September 24 [76 favorites]


Previously, with a lot of background and commentary on what's been happening through today:

"How Do You Impeach a President?"

"Need to find different words for unprecedented."
posted by katra at 3:34 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


Unanimous consent in the Senate to demand the whistleblower complaint also happened.

This is the one that intrigued me.

I haven't heard any explanation of why it was unanimous. Usually these things happen because the right wing and left wing have completely different ideas of what the measure accomplishes.
posted by billjings at 3:35 PM on September 24 [35 favorites]


tonight while I'm at the gym.

You need to find a better gym! Fuckers.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:35 PM on September 24 [9 favorites]


Even in the Senate doesn't vote to confirm, the Dems, or at least the effective Dems, want to be able to link obvious flagrant criminality with the GOP voting in favour of it. The more they can make the case that Trump is criminal, the more uncomfortable that no vote is going to be for Republicans.

(also, I want to request that if the Senate votes to confirm, the thread title be "Surely This")
posted by Merus at 3:36 PM on September 24 [32 favorites]


If he is impeached, and if he is removed from office, he will still run for President in 2020.
posted by Groundhog Week at 3:36 PM on September 24 [36 favorites]


CAN YOU DIG IT
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:38 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


If he is impeached, and if he is removed from office, he will still run for election in 2020.

Kinky.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:40 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


We are already in the insanity cycle tho

Part of it is that you forget sometimes. : (
posted by Glinn at 3:41 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


Half of Trump's campaign will be "You're voting for me, not Pence, promise!"
posted by ikea_femme at 3:42 PM on September 24


It's implied by Article 1, Section 3, Clause 7 of the Constitution that he can't. Though only implied.
In the past the senate has held a second vote to formally bar restanding.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:42 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Many believe the US Senate will not convict, or at least are hedging their disappointment by expressing that convicting the president is politically unlikely or impossible.

Still, the Senate may yet respond to the evidence presented and choose to convict, especially if the opinions of their constituents guides them.

It's not over until it's over.

Stop predicting defeat when the Democrats are doing what's best for the country. Instead, urge the Congress to convict if you believe the president has committed crimes against the United States.
posted by mistersquid at 3:42 PM on September 24 [175 favorites]


I realize it's not a given that Dems will make the correct PR play, but this can help remove him from power even without the Senate. Near-daily hearings on Trump's abuses of power would be powerful weapons in the court of public opinion and make his re-election far less likely.

I feel like that's the key. They didn't have the votes to get Bill Clinton, either, and yet the impeachment process managed to so strongly connect him to impropriety that his party lost the next election and the party that failed to impeach him became powerfully ascendant for the next 10 years.
posted by Copronymus at 3:43 PM on September 24 [72 favorites]


about goddam time.
posted by what does it eat, light? at 3:43 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


I am having this feeling, what is it? Can’t think of the word, it’s right on the tip of my tongue, I’ve felt it before but not for a long time. . .
.
.
.
.
Hope?

Not hope that he will really be impeached. Or that we will have a full reckoning for his crimes. Or that the systems of accountability that are supposed to make our government work will function.

No, just a little hope that our elected officials, when faced with Trump’s mountain of shit, will do something besides nothing.
posted by mai at 3:44 PM on September 24 [33 favorites]


I've never understood people who say removing trump and having Pence take charge would be worse since he's "just as evil

Pence taking charge may not be an issue given that Pence personally went to Poland to issue the same threats to President Zelensky face to face. Pence is running for re-election too and has just as much motive as Trump to want Biden taken down.
posted by JackFlash at 3:45 PM on September 24 [37 favorites]


During Watergate there hadn't been an impeachment for over 100 years, so the House Judiciary Committee had a bipartisan team of staffers write a report on the Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment. One of the staffers was a young law school graduate named Hillary Rodham.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:45 PM on September 24 [54 favorites]


I haven't heard any explanation of why it was unanimous. Usually these things happen because the right wing and left wing have completely different ideas of what the measure accomplishes.

It was "unanimous consent" and not a roll call vote. It means nobody objected to the idea so they didn't have to go through with a vote and all the other stuff.
posted by notyou at 3:46 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


I just want everyone here to know that I'm on vacation in Brazil, and I just got a dozen Brazilians to say "Fuck Donald Trump" in exchange for me chugging a full glass of beer.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 3:50 PM on September 24 [185 favorites]


Is this the finally thread? Good.
FINALLY!
posted by sexyrobot at 3:51 PM on September 24 [15 favorites]


No fan of Pence failing up into the presidency, but if he does he will have no mandate, a short tenure, and will do the same thing Trump's been doing with court appointees and regulation (which is the only functional business of government now anyway). I don't think there's much of a chance the Senate will convict, but if (and when!) it does Pence will be a very short-term lame duck anyway. It's not something to worry about anymore.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:51 PM on September 24 [13 favorites]


Never, ever, ever give up.
—Michael Scott
posted by sallybrown at 3:51 PM on September 24 [28 favorites]


Looks like I picked a good week to finally get my medical MJ card. I don't think this guy will resign like Nixon did, he's too stupid and full of himself. Waiting to see if the rats abandon ship in the near future.

Wondering if Lindsey Graham or Moscow Mitch will jump first.

I also noticed that Jim Jordan was named in another sex abuse lawsuit.

She said 6 committees are investigating. She also didn't say what would happen if Maguire didn't produce the whistleblower complaint, just that he could choose. Will she have him led out in cuffs? That would be something, wouldn't it?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:52 PM on September 24 [15 favorites]


The democrats need to go find Hollywood’s best consultants and treat this like Disney would treat a new franchise. This will be won on TV and the internet and there is plenty of expertise on how to make a blockbuster. Good writing, casting, market testing, acting and editing are all important here.

There is so much bad shit to weave a great story here.

Step 1: Stop calling him the president. Never say that word ever again. Find the name that tests the best ( Benedict Donald / Don the Con / Don Trump / etc ) and name your villain that. Have all your actors keep saying that.
Step 2: Market test all the phrasing’s of the bad shit he has done. If “Abuse of Power” or “Treason” or “Grab her by the Pussy” is what sticks then that’s what you name the movie. Promote that movie just like Hollywood does.
Step 3: Go hire Pixar consultants and make a great movie.

Putting a charismatic staff lawyer in place to grill Lewandowski was a good example of this type of thinking.

This is theater and they need to treat this like any competent Hollywood studio would.
posted by jasondigitized at 3:54 PM on September 24 [125 favorites]


I just got a dozen Brazilians to say "Fuck Donald Trump" in exchange for me chugging a full glass of beer.

I'm surprised you had to do something in exchange.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on September 24 [97 favorites]


Трахни Дональда Трампа
posted by kirkaracha at 3:59 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


Hollywood. Brilliant. Who is our Ness(plucky protagonist)? The ICIG? The bright young team of ingenious (and hot) attorneys?
posted by j_curiouser at 4:00 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]




Whenever His Catholic Majesty Ferdinand of Aragon, most powerful and wise prince, was about to embark on some new enterprise, or make a decision of great importance, he went about it in such a way that, before his intentions were known, the whole court and the people were already insisting and exclaiming that the king must do such and so. Then he would announce his decision, just when all hoped and clamored for it, and it is incredible what justification and favor it found among his subjects and in his dominions.
-- Francesco Guicciardin
posted by kirkaracha at 4:02 PM on September 24 [31 favorites]


having Pence take charge would be worse since he's "just as evil

My concern along these lines was not along the lines of "who's more evil" but more along the lines of "who's more competent." Pence isn't some kind of political Einstein or anything, but he probably understands Washington better than Trump, and I can't imagine how he or really anyone could somehow be more of a bumbling idiot than Trump. The upshot is that more of their evil agenda would probably get done under Pence.
posted by axiom at 4:02 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


@MSNBC: “The President actually said to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint, can we work something out.’ And she said ‘Yes, you can tell your people to obey the law.’ So she quickly swatted that down." - @HeidiNBC

@HeidiNBC: The exact words I was given were that Trump said he’d like to “figure this out.” Pelosi said: “Tell your people to obey the law.”

He thinks this is like everything in his life he's been able to talk his way out of so far. The question is: is it?
posted by zachlipton at 4:04 PM on September 24 [91 favorites]


Pence isn't some kind of political Einstein or anything, but he probably understands Washington better than Trump

Not suffering from advanced dementia will also do it.
posted by acb at 4:06 PM on September 24 [13 favorites]


If you turn this thread into yet another round of Trump or Pence: Who is Worse? I swear to god I will hunt you down and sing the most annoying pop songs that you will never get out of your head and you will be haunted for all eternity.
posted by medusa at 4:10 PM on September 24 [158 favorites]


Pence is complicit. If itmfa goes down, sexy-temptations does too.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:11 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


i'm the one that mentioned him first, but i didn't posit either worse or better. i was going for "also less than ideal", but it seems any mention gets a standard rebuttal?
posted by Clowder of bats at 4:12 PM on September 24


I'm on the Trump campaign email list, and they're already fundraising off "the Witch Hunt." Their latest missive:
I’VE DONE NOTHING WRONG. TRUST ME, YOU’LL SEE THE TRANSCRIPT.

It’s time to set something straight once and for all. The Democrats’ constant personal attacks, vicious lies, and now these baseless impeachment attacks, have never had anything to do with me...
Genuinely curious to see how this is plays out. What's he doing here? Is he actually going to release the transcript, or talk about it? If so, are they going to doctor it somehow? Or do they see it as some other form of inoculation, a la Rudy admitting to things on TV, so we get used to them? Is he just off his rocker? Or genuinely believe he's in the right? Or...?

Bizarre times.
posted by cudzoo at 4:12 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


[Folks, I get the sort of wild level of nervous energy that comes with something looking like forward progress on this stuff but, yes, let's please not go full-on with rehashing every past argument about the presidency, impeachment, succession, congress, etc, and try to keep this more to following-what's-happening on the subject instead.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:12 PM on September 24 [43 favorites]


One thing about Pence: he doesn't have the cult following Trump does. If Trump goes (for whatever reason), and Pence takes over, the election immediately becomes much more winnable. These people are not screaming and chanting for Pence.
posted by suelac at 4:14 PM on September 24 [28 favorites]


Think Pence will be implicated too, so I'm not too worried about him. Remember, his old nickname was Mike Dunce in Washington circles.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:15 PM on September 24 [12 favorites]


Indiana’s most prominent national figure since Dan Quayle was a crappy, ineffectual governor.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:15 PM on September 24 [10 favorites]


Addendum to my post above: I wonder, too, if things moving fast--as they have thus far--means Team Trump is more vulnerable to making big tactical errors. There are, after all, like five people in the administration at this point. And we've seen--around the Trump Tower meeting story--how badly they handle crisis situations.
posted by cudzoo at 4:17 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


Remember, his old nickname was Mike Dunce in Washington circles.

Mike Dense, IIRC.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:18 PM on September 24 [26 favorites]


~Unanimous consent in the Senate to demand the whistleblower complaint also happened.
~This is the one that intrigued me.
~I haven't heard any explanation of why it was unanimous.


I have a feeling Mitch is playing some kind of 7-dimension chess with this one. He probably knew Pelosi was going to drop her bomb and he wanted to get out there and establish a beachfront for Trump. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whistleblower documents were only released to the Senate now.

In any case, this sets up the Senate republicans to be able to claim they looked into it, found no malfeasance, and thus “not guilty.”
posted by Thorzdad at 4:19 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


As we get closer to the 2020 elections it's possible the GOP will decide that they've ridden Trump as far as they need to and gotten enough out of this debacle that they could never have gotten otherwise, and also want to pull the ripcord knowing that eventually Trump will betray them as well. I wouldn't be surprised if the GOP does vote to impeach/convict if the wind is blowing strongly enough, and then manage to turn this to their advantage by looking like heroes / simultaneously blaming Dems to Trump's base.

Or he survives this and we're well and truly fucked.

Sorry, short on optimism today. I really hope I'm wrong and they nail the bastard to the wall.
posted by jzb at 4:20 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


One thing about Pence: he doesn't have the cult following Trump does.

Are we sure about that? I remember reading about how tons of evangelicals viewed him as some kind of Prince Who Was Promised, and how many of them saw Trump as the price of getting Pence into the Whitehouse.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:21 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


I’m seeing people come out of the woodwork who normally don’t say much about politics who are happy to hear the news of the impeachment inquiry. My only thing about how evil Pence may be if he were to take over is this: we will cross that bridge when we get there, but let’s try our damndest to get there.
posted by azpenguin at 4:23 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


I don't think we have a clue what's going to happen. We're in uncharted territory, here. This isn't Clinton or Nixon.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:23 PM on September 24 [54 favorites]


Senate Republicans caught in impeachment glare (Politico)
Wednesday Trump will release his transcript of the call with the Ukrainian president. On Thursday, the House and Senate Intelligence committees will both hear from intelligence officials about the whistleblower case.

Republicans Senators said there was no real concern exhibited in their party lunch on Tuesday about a possible impeachment trial in the chamber. But Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who is among the most popular members among Republicans, said he’d sensed a shift among his colleagues.

“I have not heard a peep [from Republicans]. They’re being unusually circumspect, changing the subject, just not willing to talk about it,” Coons said.
posted by katra at 4:25 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


I wouldn’t be surprised if the whistleblower documents were only released to the Senate now.

The first drop won't be the actual whistleblower documents but rather a spun "summary" thereof.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:25 PM on September 24 [10 favorites]


Ditto the "transcript."
posted by sjswitzer at 4:26 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


Complete List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump? (NYT, UPDATED Sept. 24, 2019 at 7:00 P.M. ET)
191 Representatives support an impeachment inquiry

72 No, not now, or undecided

172 Awaiting response
posted by katra at 4:28 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Some people enthusiastic about impeachment as a vehicle for exposing Trump's misdeeds are forgetting that 40% of the country gets its news from a parallel news reality centered on Fox

Since I'm a glass quarter-full optimist, there's at least two people on Fox who will tell the truth and won't be kind: Chris Wallace and Shep Smith. Furthermore, I could see Fox / Murdoch being one of the rats to jump. Sure, Trump is popular now with their viewers. And Trump's accomplishing some of their goals. But, he's a sickness (or fatal) for the long term conservative prospects. Those aging viewers aren't going to be the ones who keep Fox or the GOP alive in the medium to long term.

They didn't exactly abandon Dubya in the last year or so of his term, but they didn't defend him too much either. Hoping for something similar this time around.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:28 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


On the 45th day of a megathread-free MetaFilter, impeachment proceedings against POTUS 45 were announced.

The sacrifice worked, everybody! We're going to need volunteers to mop up the entrails and put away the ritual objects.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:29 PM on September 24 [248 favorites]


Loads best bong with best ChemDawg, takes hit....

goooooood
posted by spitbull at 4:31 PM on September 24 [17 favorites]


White House Drops Objection to Whistle-Blower Speaking to Congress (NYT)
The White House has determined that it will most likely have to allow the whistle-blower who filed an explosive complaint about President Trump to meet with congressional investigators, two people briefed on the matter said Tuesday.
posted by katra at 4:31 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


Maybe this is an unrelated thing and threatens to bring the megathreads lurching back to life but I did not see it anywhere else on the blue: seems that after six months with no daily press briefing, the White House has decided it might not need them at all anymore.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:36 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Why Trump releasing the transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president isn’t enough (WaPo)
The staffer wasn’t privy to Trump’s call with Zelensky directly, according to a CNN report from last week. But Trump’s conversation with Zelensky fit with other actions that the staffer had observed. It was part of a pattern, in other words, prompting the staffer to file a whistleblower complaint with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
posted by katra at 4:38 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


Are we sure about that? I remember reading about how tons of evangelicals viewed him as some kind of Prince Who Was Promised, and how many of them saw Trump as the price of getting Pence into the Whitehouse.

That's entirely likely, I haven't seen the polls, but I would bet that Putin is far less interested in supporting Pence. Pence is not a force for chaos, and would likely rapidly settle into an awful but more consistent Republican position on world affairs.

... that said, I worry that, even if impeached, Trump would keep stirring the pot. So long as he's on social media, he's a threat.
posted by suelac at 4:38 PM on September 24 [11 favorites]


Complete List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump? (NYT, UPDATED Sept. 24, 2019 at 7:30 P.M. ET)
196 Representatives support an impeachment inquiry
posted by katra at 4:42 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


My only thing about how evil Pence may be if he were to take over is this: we will cross that bridge when we get there,

I believe the correct phrase is: We'll burn that bridge when we get to it.
posted by Emmy Rae at 4:42 PM on September 24 [17 favorites]


As a reminder there is a still open thread specifically about whistleblower stuff; understandable that major developments may be pertinent in this discussion as well but as far as accumulating details and tidbits that should stick to that topic-specific thread, and this one should stick to specifically stuff happening/developing with the impeachment inquiry process announced this afternoon.

and threatens to bring the megathreads lurching back to life but

*pats mound of dirt with shovel*

I assure you, no.
posted by cortex at 4:43 PM on September 24 [66 favorites]


I'm at the grocery store picking up supplies for peach mint mojitos. Didn't think I'd ever have the occasion.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:48 PM on September 24 [35 favorites]


What’s different about these “impeachment inquiries” than the last ones?
posted by gucci mane at 4:50 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


The key things are televised hearings. How many days did the Watergate hearings get broadcast?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:51 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


So, does anyone know what it means that the impeachment umbrella will cover the investigative committees? Does that grant more power to anyone, or protect whistleblowers? -Just went back and watched the entirety of Pelosi's announcement.
posted by annsunny at 4:53 PM on September 24


So long as he's on social media, he's a threat.

Is there any way to get him off social media, preferably permanently?
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:53 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


A shadow ban would be pretty funny, actually.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:55 PM on September 24 [23 favorites]


Is there any way to get him off social media, preferably permanently

State or federal prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment, I guess. It's remotely possible a judge could put a gag order on him (like what's going on with Roger Stone), but I doubt he's capable of complying with one.
posted by suelac at 4:56 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


@Marie Mon Dieu - that links to a Rolling Stone article from 2018, so what is the Jim Jordan news in question?
posted by stevil at 4:56 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


So, does anyone know what it means that the impeachment umbrella will cover the investigative committees? Does that grant more power to anyone, or protect whistleblowers? -Just went back and watched the entirety of Pelosi's announcement.

No one seems to know the exact procedures they're going to follow, but one thing that seems fairly clear is that any subpoena by any of the six investigative committees would get the legal weight associated with impeachment rather than a legislative purpose.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:57 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


"and threatens to bring the megathreads lurching back to life but"
*pats mound of dirt with shovel*
I assure you, no.


*Throws holy water on the mound*

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:57 PM on September 24 [46 favorites]


This is theater and they need to treat this like any competent Hollywood studio would.

If a day in Hollywood doesn’t work, we can always try a night in Ukraine.

Full disclosure: I watched the whole first season of the Ukrainian dramedy series where Zelensky played an accidental president before he became one in real life. It’s pretty fascinating in hindsight.
posted by armeowda at 4:58 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


The Republicans will continue to back Trump right up until they don't. As soon as he becomes more of a liability than an asset, they will shiv him faster than you can say "boo" and claim that was always the plan. Hannity will be the one to stick the knife in, and Trump is too stupid even to follow up with, "Et tu, Brute?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:58 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


The key things are televised hearings. How many days did the Watergate hearings get broadcast?

"Public television aired all 250 hours of the hearings, gavel-to-gavel."
"The broadcasts of the Senate Watergate hearings cover 51 days of 'gavel-to-gavel' coverage."

Why I'm tired of people complaining about public opinion now:

"A month after the televised hearings...an astonishing 97 percent of Americans had heard of Watergate, according to the U.S. Senate website. And 67 percent believed that President Nixon had participated in a cover-up of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington."

Trump delenda est.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:01 PM on September 24 [32 favorites]


Sure, Trump is popular now with their viewers. And Trump's accomplishing some of their goals. But, he's a sickness (or fatal) for the long term conservative prospects. Those aging viewers aren't going to be the ones who keep Fox or the GOP alive in the medium to long term.

I believe that regardless of impeachment or election outcomes or whatever short of imprisonment or execution, Trump will own the GOP for his remaining lifespan. His base is groomed and loyal. Even if it's a shrinking base with dim future prospects, GOP candidates will find it difficult to be elected without its consent.

I suspect he'll evolve into some kind of GOP kingmaker/influencer, charging GOP candidates by the tweet and/or appearance. It's easy work, on-brand (dude's entire thing is stamping horseshit with his name) and legal too afaik.

(this is not legal advice)
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:02 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


White House Drops Objection to Whistle-Blower Speaking to Congress (NYT)

I am already seeing pontifications of "Oh no what if the whistleblower thing is a snooze and this all turns out to be nothing" and I just... fucking hell, people.

Somehow I really doubt either the White House or Congressional Republicans would have acted the way they have over the last week if they weren't really worried about this shit.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:09 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


@MSNBC: “The President actually said to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint, can we work something out.’ And she said ‘Yes, you can tell your people to obey the law.’ So she quickly swatted that down."

Trump's words aren't aren't the words of someone confident of victory.
posted by Gelatin at 5:10 PM on September 24 [32 favorites]


We do NOT want him banned from social media! Anything he says is potentially helpful.
posted by agregoli at 5:13 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


Trump's words aren't aren't the words of someone confident of victory.

maybe, maybe not: i think he likes to get out of things the sleazy way, even if he can do it the legitimate way. he's like someone who says he doesn't want fries, but then steals most of yours.
posted by Clowder of bats at 5:16 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


Hearings: public. televised. lawyers. congress-peeps formulating idiotic soundbytz on the fly.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:16 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


And remember, Nixon only had local people committing crimes to influence an election. He wasn't appealing to foreign governments.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:18 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


How the Watergate crisis eroded public support for Richard Nixon
The televised Watergate hearings that began in May 1973, chaired by Senator Samuel Ervin, commanded a large national audience — 71% told Gallup they watched the hearings live. And as many as 21% reported watching 10 hours or more of the Ervin proceedings. Not too surprisingly, Nixon’s popularity took a severe hit. His ratings fell as low as 31%, in Gallup’s early August survey.

The public had changed its view of the scandal. A 53% majority came to the view that Watergate was a serious matter, not just politics, up from 31% who believed that before the hearings.
...
The public reacted, but in a measured way. In November [1973], Gallup showed the percentage of Americans thinking that the president should leave office jumping from 19% in June to 38%, but still, 51% did not support impeachment and an end to Nixon’s presidency.
...
Only in early August [1974], following the House Judiciary Committee’s recommendation in July that Nixon be impeached and the Supreme Court’s decision that he surrender his audio tapes, did a clear majority – 57% – come to the view that the president should be removed from office.
A May Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 45% of Americans felt Trump should be impeached.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:19 PM on September 24 [25 favorites]


As soon as he becomes more of a liability than an asset, they will shiv him faster than you can say "boo" and claim that was always the plan. Hannity will be the one to stick the knife in, and Trump is too stupid even to follow up with, "Et tu, Brute?"

oh man, who wins in Hannity vs Trump? I'm not sure it's Hannity. Trump has that fucked up narcissist power of always managing to be the subject of conversation and advancing no matter the tone of that conversation, so Fox can't just ghost him. Plus, if Fox goes hard at him, his tweets will ensure that war burns bright and sucks all the oxygen out of whatever else Fox is trying to fuck up at them moment.

I really doubt Fox can quit Trump, but then that may be the thinking error of believing that tomorrow will just be like today but more, or it may be reap-the-whirlwind wishful thinking.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:21 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


And remember, Nixon only had local people committing crimes to influence an election. He wasn't appealing to foreign governments.

Well, he did sabotage the 1968 Vietnam War peace talks to affect the election that gave him the presidency.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:22 PM on September 24 [52 favorites]


The only people more excited than we should be about the possibility of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio voting to kick Trump out of office are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:29 PM on September 24 [10 favorites]


Pence knew what he signed up for. If Trump goes down to impeachment, he will be fatally damaged goods. He is already on record as defending the call and whatabouting Biden in the process.

Pence may be an idiot, but he knows how he got to where he is. He’s gonna fight the impeachment because if Trump loses he’s damaged goods.

And he isn’t the only one in the GOP. I saw it in Iowa — there was a pretty sizable group of GOP insiders hoping and working for anyone but Trump as their nominee. But once he wrapped up the nom, they got in line pretty damn quick. They made their deal with the devil in 2016 and I don’t think they’ll turn around now.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:31 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Watergate featured an actual break in. I can completely see Don's cult, and a huge percentage of other republicans and conservatives thinking:

"Asking for help on on a phone call just isn't a big deal. Everybody does it. The president needs to be spontaneous on phone calls, it's Don's way because he's a born deal-maker. Maybe he runs his mouth too much sometimes—it's his style. It's just Don playing the game the way DC demands it to be played. It was only a few days. No money explicitly changed hands over any specific, solid action by Ukraine. This is criminalizing politics. Any other president would do the same thing. Besides, bigger things are at stake. There's going to be an election, this was only asking for information about a crime committed by that Biden rat. He was obliged to get to the bottom of the crime, he's the executive."
posted by SoberHighland at 5:31 PM on September 24 [15 favorites]


I'm no political genius, but I think it's likely that Republicans are going to throw him overboard as fast as they can at this point. They know he's sinking their personal chances. There's enough evidence of significant mental decline in him that they likely hope/fear he's going to keel over on his own before the end of the election. They also know the Trumpslump is on its way and likely will hit before the election, further dooming them.

Unless they can get both Trump and Pence impeached pronto. Suddenly, they can run against President Nancy Pelosi, even if she's not actually the candidate. They'll need time to get their own primary spun up after all. If Trump and Pence are running and Trump keels over late in the election, they're probably stuck with candidate Pence; they'd be better off throwing spaghetti against the wall with a last minute primary than that. And they can campaign on how getting another Republican in the White House will be important for protecting the Trump Legacy and protecting his family and allies from "political persecution" (which is to say the totally legal consequences of their many, many real crimes); literally whoever wins their primary can run on "Keep America Great Again" and pardoning whoever's left in the dust after impeachment.

Sorry for the pessimism, but if I was Mitch that's what I'd be hoping for. Trump to die soon from his advanced dementia and a chance to run against president Pelosi. (It'll probably make Mitch happy for the first woman president to not have won a presidential election even as a vice presidential candidate. That asterisk in the history books will probably tickle all those evil old fuckers to no end.)
posted by Caduceus at 5:33 PM on September 24


I suspect he'll evolve into some kind of GOP kingmaker/influencer, charging GOP candidates by the tweet and/or appearance. It's easy work, on-brand (dude's entire thing is stamping horseshit with his name) and legal too afaik.

And he could do it from prison
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:35 PM on September 24


I hope Melania divorces him quickly before we lock his sorry ass up!
posted by mareli at 5:37 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


No one is going to prison over any of this.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:37 PM on September 24 [15 favorites]


This isn’t just a phone call. Remember, Trump apparently had the state department set up meetings between Rudy Giuliani and the Ukrainians.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:38 PM on September 24 [19 favorites]


“Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”
― Franz Kafka
posted by robbyrobs at 5:39 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


We need the whistleblower, not some damn phone call he decides to give us.
posted by artdrectr at 5:41 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


Trump is a horrible person, but he’s not stupid, and he has gotten to where he is today by stopping just short of activities that would incriminate him. He’s a pro at making sure that stuff doesn’t stick to him. He will weasel out of this one just like he’s weaseled out of everything else.

Convince me I’m wrong. Please.
posted by vitout at 5:44 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


If I understand this correctly, there were a series of (at least) 8 phone calls to the Ukrainian president. Trump and his people seem to be hanging everything on the transcript to one phone call. That seems like a strategy, as if the transcript to a single conversation will put this to rest, taken out of context of the wider pattern. The administration is once again trying to define the perimeters of the story.
posted by biddeford at 5:47 PM on September 24 [24 favorites]


For those of you interested in some tea leaf reading, I have a friend who emailed their R rep today in favor of an impeachment inquiry and got back a response within hours (frequent Congress-contactors know this is basically light speed for getting replies) that was basically supportive of an inquiry ("respect the office if the presidency by holding the President accountable regardless of party"). This is cats and dogs living together territory.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:47 PM on September 24 [54 favorites]


Trump is a horrible person, but he’s not stupid, and he has gotten to where he is today by stopping just short of activities that would incriminate him.

That’s totally not true. He has survived this far by being an entitled white man that the authorities slap on the wrist every time he is caught red handed.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 5:48 PM on September 24 [129 favorites]


If I understand this correctly, there were a series of (at least) 8 phone calls to the Ukrainian president.

I think it was one phone call in which Trump asked for an investigation into Biden 8 times.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:49 PM on September 24 [9 favorites]


We had a really wonderful whistle blower for the kavanNO hearings, Dr blassey-ford. It failed.

However, now that the right wing evangelical side of things secured that stolen justice seat, they may be willing to jump ship before they sign their actual name to supporting this adulterer who lies and steals.

One can hope.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 5:50 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


It's like we have been playing Truth or Dare with Trump for 3 years now and the Democrats kept letting Trump choose Dare.

TRUTH. LET'S HAVE SOME TRUTH.
posted by srboisvert at 5:53 PM on September 24 [22 favorites]


Looks like I picked the wrong day to give up my black market vape cartridge habit
posted by captain afab at 5:54 PM on September 24 [28 favorites]


WaPo: Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key foreign policy officials were sidelined

Several officials described tense meetings on Ukraine among national security officials at the White House leading up to the president’s phone call on July 25, sessions that led some participants to fear that Trump and those close to him appeared prepared to use U.S. leverage with the new leader of Ukraine for Trump’s political gain.

Yeah, it's not all gonna come down to a transcript of a single phone call.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:56 PM on September 24 [25 favorites]


God speed, everyone. I hope justice is served.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:56 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


We had a really wonderful whistle blower for the kavanNO hearings, Dr blassey-ford. It failed.

If and when something finally happens to peacefully bring an end to...all this, I'll consider it to be the effect of the sum total all of these kinda of things. This sales metaphor applies: It's not the first whack of the rock that breaks it open, it's all the whacks you've taken leading up to the one that finally breaks it. I don't know if this impeachment inquiry will be the whack that breaks the rock that is the GOP but I'm glad we're going to take another whack.
posted by VTX at 5:59 PM on September 24 [48 favorites]


The true measure is the next 4 or 5 respected voter polls, if the numbers for DT drop to 34 to 29% or so or even close then the Senate is in play and the panic will begin. Note to self - order popcorn.
posted by Freedomboy at 6:02 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


Two dates late for my birthday eh Democrats? It's cool, I'll take it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:09 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Trump’s defense hinges on people believing that Biden did something shady. That requires the Ukrainian government to come up with something approximating dirt, and they aren’t playing along.

If Ukraine is truly the reason Trump goes down, we will owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. I mean, it’s not like they didn’t try to warn us before we elected the fool.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:09 PM on September 24 [17 favorites]


Pence is complicit. If itmfa goes down, sexy-temptations does too.

The next season of Dancing with the Stars is going to be spectacular
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:15 PM on September 24 [47 favorites]


Oh my! I nearly forgot that today is, in fact MY birthday! I've forgotten what the tradition is from the old megathread days.
posted by VTX at 6:21 PM on September 24 [23 favorites]


My understanding is the Senate creates the rules for impeachment hearings. If Republicans control the senate can’t they avoid a television spectacle by changing the rules?
posted by jasondigitized at 6:21 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


WaPo: Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key foreign policy officials were sidelined

That article...there are no words!!! Oh boy, Rudy’s been freelancing foreign policy for MONTHS: “There were never any orders given, any formal guidance from the White House to any of the agencies,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter. “And the NSC was scratching their heads: How is this possible?”
posted by sallybrown at 6:21 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


My understanding is the Senate creates the rules for impeachment hearings. If Republicans control the senate can’t they avoid a television spectacle by changing the rules?

Nope, in the House, it's the House's rules. If and when it gets to the Senate, they can make their own rules for the trial -- if McConnell even allows them to hold one.
posted by suelac at 6:25 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


I can't shake the feeling that we're about to enter a world of deepfakes, and get our first lesson in exactly how unprepared we are to deal with them.
posted by entropical punch at 6:29 PM on September 24 [34 favorites]


Two dates late for my birthday eh Democrats? It's cool, I'll take it.

The late-work policy has been broken, but there must be exceptions made.
posted by klausman at 6:37 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


I think that the most likely result of these hearings will be that Trump simply declines to run for a second term, a la Lyndon Johnson, who made his announcement at the end of March 1968, less than eight months before the general election. Trump can say, “I would have won, but I just didn’t feel like being President any longer.”
posted by haiku warrior at 6:39 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Donald Trump might get impeached? Donald Trump? (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
“Can you believe this?” Donald Trump asked on Twitter.

Yes, it’s always the last person you expect. Donald Trump? Donald TRUMP? You mean to tell me that President of the United States Donald Trump, who just this morning was emitting his most dulcet dog-whistles at the U.N. General Assembly, might have done something wrong? No, I’m sorry. When I think of people in this world who might possibly have done a crime, who act even a little bit like they might have done some sort of a crime — would I even think of the name Donald Trump? You’re telling me that maybe, possibly, a man surrounded by a Cabinet entirely made up of The Best People, who have been entirely respectful and forthcoming with Congress on all subjects, a man with Donald Trump’s openness when it comes to his own finances, a man with Donald Trump’s relationship to the truth, might have — done something — wrong? […]

Wait, Congress is really doing something now? I’m sorry, really? Congress? I thought we had agreed that what they were going to do was: nothing. I thought that Nothing was the courageous thing to do. I thought that there was nothing the president could do that was so bad that his Republican defenders would not say that what the president had just done was (a) something he would never do, you must be mistaken, or (b) a great thing to do that more people should try to do if only they weren’t afraid. Even across the aisle, I thought that Congress had agreed to sit and wait for some other coequal branch of government to hold the president accountable.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:41 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


Looking forward: I will be so tickled pink to see that first front page picture of Trump wearing his orange jumpsuit, handcuffed, trying to hide his face as he is transferred between facilities.

Man that will be sweet.
posted by Construction Concern at 6:41 PM on September 24 [9 favorites]


my birthday is friday which is close enough that imma count this (this being some movement, a day without complete despair) as an early present and you cant stop me
posted by lazaruslong at 6:44 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


If Trump is impeached I hope they find some stupid, piddling law to ruin Giuliani’s life with, too.

Show him what broken-windows prosecution really looks like.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:44 PM on September 24 [54 favorites]


And Stephen Fucking Miller.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:46 PM on September 24 [52 favorites]


I used to wonder why Donald Trump repeatedly went to large Asian countries to get the evil goods on his opponents. It's because his mind believes in mushy conspiracies and when he repeatedly runs into dead ends domestically to find the Superevil intel, he figures those far away places as seen in spy movies must have it.

Of course, there were no evil emails and no real deal with Biden's son. And he couldn't accept that so he had to keep digging, keep extorting.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:50 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


These people are not screaming and chanting for Pence.

Evangelicals are a terrifying minority, having somehow found a way to spin a ridiculous amount of political power out of the worst of America. Impeachment is overdue, but fears about Pence are legitimate, and people who don't want to live in a genuine Gilead, post-Trump, would do well to pay attention.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:51 PM on September 24 [20 favorites]


I will be so tickled pink to see that first front page picture of Trump wearing his orange jumpsuit, handcuffed, trying to hide his face as he is transferred between facilities

and remember, he also won't have access to the hair products that facilitate that ridiculous combover...
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:53 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


Trump is a horrible person, but he’s not stupid, and he has gotten to where he is today by stopping just short of activities that would incriminate him. He’s a pro at making sure that stuff doesn’t stick to him. He will weasel out of this one just like he’s weaseled out of everything else.

Trump has gotten to where he was by being in the private sector, where he’s enjoyed little scrutiny from the public or the government even while getting to be on the tee vee . When he took the most high-profile government job in the world, all his illegalities and weaselly ways were suddenly splashed across the headlines daily. I wager he’s genuinely confused about why things have gotten so much harder for him since 2016.
posted by ejs at 6:57 PM on September 24 [48 favorites]


and remember, he also won't have access to the hair products that facilitate that ridiculous combover...

Or hair dye. Or that awful orange self-tanner. I'm inclined to think he might actually look fractionally better as a prisoner than he does now, despite the fact that he has access to the best personal care products and stylists in the world. Even his orange jumpsuit is bound to fit better than his suits.

I'm very cheered by the news of the impeachment. I don't know how much good it will do -- it's certainly no magic key -- but the fact remains that it's a step that must be taken. In a war that must be fought on many fronts, with many weapons, and with many strategies, this is a definite advance. Remember, the best defence is a good offence. It's time the Dems became more aggressive and got the Republicans on the run.

I just realized that today is my oldest brother's 56th birthday. I have as little contact with him as possible because he's abusive -- tells me to my face that I'm stupid, among other things. He's a die-hard conservative: loves Rob & Doug Ford, Mike Harris, Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, Reagan. To be fair, I've never heard him say a word in support of Trump, but since he is usually very much Team Republican this will be a bitter pill for him to swallow and maybe, just maybe, he'll be a little enlightened as to just how evil and damaging the Republicans have become. Happy birthday, big bro!
posted by orange swan at 6:57 PM on September 24 [25 favorites]


I think that the most likely result of these hearings will be that Trump simply declines to run for a second term, a la Lyndon Johnson, who made his announcement at the end of March 1968, less than eight months before the general election. Trump can say, “I would have won, but I just didn’t feel like being President any longer.”

The main reason I don't think this is likely is the charge he gets out of campaigning.
He probably doesn't like president but he absolutely loves running for president. If he gave up on running, he wouldn't get his hordes of screaming racist morons cheering for him. That's probably his biggest reason for living right now.

I don't believe he thinks past that next rush of adulation and reinforcement of his self-esteem. He never did.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:58 PM on September 24 [29 favorites]


This is the happiest day of my life.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:02 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Not directly related I guess, but since Trump is crowing about it on Twitter, what's the deal with this Rasmussen poll?
posted by biddeford at 7:13 PM on September 24


I'm suddenly craving a really nice slice of cake but this energy bar and handful of chocolate will have to do.
posted by loquacious at 7:26 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Rasmussen is a garbage polling outfit trying to throw their boy a bone. That's the deal.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:26 PM on September 24 [13 favorites]


Is TTTCS back?
posted by j_curiouser at 7:33 PM on September 24 [13 favorites]


Two dates late for my birthday

today is, in fact MY birthday! I

Yesterday (Sept. 23) b'day. Yes, the House Dems are giving us IMPEACHMENT!

The next season of Dancing with the Stars is going to be spectacular

Pence and Mother both dancing with his partner.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:41 PM on September 24 [12 favorites]


I am waiting for the utterly predictable crunching sound of Rudy being thrown under the bus. At some point this is going to be spun as him going beyond any instructions given, nobody could have known, etc etc.
posted by jaduncan at 7:41 PM on September 24 [16 favorites]


And only 3 years late!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:42 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


The megathread left, TTTCS never did.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:48 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


If he gave up on running, he wouldn't get his hordes of screaming racist morons cheering for him.

Are you kidding? His original plan was to lose and fleece the marks with a TV channel. The Presidency is Plan B.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:48 PM on September 24 [22 favorites]


Between Lady Hale in the UK and Nancy Pelosi in the US, it’s been a pretty kick-ass day for women in power.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:50 PM on September 24 [46 favorites]


The Democrats need to be cautious and not allow the WH and Trump's various minions to succeed in making it appear that the whole issue hinges on what's in the transcript of a single phone call. That is absolutely their strategy right now: one of the GOP's bits of House cannon-fodder was on CNN earlier this evening "refusing to speculate" because "all the questions would be answered" when the transcript gets released. That's their game plan right now: build up THE TRANSCRIPT and hype the hell out of it, and then make sure it's a nothingburger. Expect the first version to be released to be redacted beyond all reason. They'll want to set up a fight over the redactions, I expect—anything to make the fight about the transcript and not about Trump's conduct more generally.

The unfortunate part is that the Republicans have figured out how to play the news cycle superbly well. This sort of buildup is facilitated by the news networks, who will hype up every little thing if there's nothing else to report on, meaning that all you need to do is delay, and you get a basically self-perpetuating cycle of disappointment.

The focus needs to be squarely kept on Trump's corruption, not on the transcripts, not on redactions, not on tapes. All of those things are important, but they're sideshows.

I would really love to be a fly on the wall of wherever Republican Senators hang out. I fundamentally don't get what their plan is. Presumably some of them have ambitions beyond Trump's presidency... how do they really see this ending? It seems like the worst thing that could happen for them is four more years of him, since eventually he's going to immolate himself somehow, and probably take down a bunch of other people on the way. They may be mendacious, but I can't assume they're all stupid, or ideological enough to want to join a political suicide pact. So what's their plan? I feel like that's the million-dollar question here: at what level of public disapproval does their ride-or-die attitude suddenly collapse and the knives come out? Presumably it varies by Senator based on where they're from, but there has to be some level for each of them when they have to tap out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:54 PM on September 24 [42 favorites]


The brief blurb i saw of Mitt Romney where he wished Pelosi had waited for the tapes says to me hes down for this inquiry. That leads me to a question how many other Republicans are not opposed to an inquiry?
At this point it doesn't matter whether the Senate will convict the president if he's impeached. The important thing is to stand up to this wanton abuse of the power of the US President immediately, and firmly.
posted by robbyrobs at 7:56 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


I just exchanged a couple of tweets with Neal Conan (of Talk Of The Nation fame) and asked if he was bringing back his podcast to discuss this. He said he was working on a mini-series not about this, but he'd welcome the chance to help sort out this process. He figures 2 hours a day would do it. ;)
posted by hippybear at 7:58 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


I should explain for the uninformed: Neal Conan used to host a 2 hour a day show on NPR called Talk Of The Nation in which he demonstrated the most amazing talent with interfacing with guests and also with people calling-in to the show, and how to get it all to work in a way which was more than an interview/call-in show and more of an elucidation of a topic. Hard to explain, amazing to listen to.

It was abruptly ended several years ago, and Neal wasn't around much for a while but he more recently has a great (intermittent) podcast Truth Politics And Power which is easy to find and I recommend it. The last new episodes were in Dec 2018.

Anyway, it was a charming exchange. If NPR were to bring him and his series back just for the duration of the impeachment inquiry, it might be doing a great service. There isn't anyone on radio right now who can pull together an hour of radio discussion like Conan.
posted by hippybear at 8:04 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


At some point this is going to be spun as [Rudy] going beyond any instructions given, nobody could have known, etc etc.

I fully expect the conversation between Trump and the Ukraine president to be something like: "I can't give you the hundreds of millions until you see about the corruption. You really need to talk to Rudy Giuliani about this. He really knows what I mean by corruption."

But I don't think Trump's mafioso speak will save him this time. The timeline of events and Rudy's previous statements to the press make it too hard to believe this wasn't about strong arming Ukraine for dirt on Biden.

And while a lot of Republicans demonize Hillary, they don't feel as strongly about Biden. Hillary was murderer and traitor. Biden is just sleepy Joe. Trying to build a hotel in Russia can be spun as a business move. Dragging a candidate's kid's name through the mud is low down by any standard.
posted by xammerboy at 8:17 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Finally!

I still say there might--might be potential for him to bail. "Health issues" to resign as sort of a plea deal. Frankly, for 2020, it's the best chance the GOP has.

I don't think this guy will resign like Nixon did, he's too stupid and full of himself. Waiting to see if the rats abandon ship in the near future.

The key difference is that, at the time of his resignation, he had 25% approval rating, and 60-70% disapproval. Trump isn't there yet, and very strong in his party. He'll hold out so long as he can maintain a fig leaf of this being a PARTISAN WITCH HUNT and PRESIDENTIAL HARRASMENT!

I don't think we have a clue what's going to happen. We're in uncharted territory, here. This isn't Clinton or Nixon.

I'll buy "not Nixon," but Clinton may be the prototype of this. It was, at the end of the day, a very partisan act. That whole era was the beginning of the end of any collegiality and "country before party" on behalf of the GOP.

... that said, I worry that, even if impeached, Trump would keep stirring the pot. So long as he's on social media, he's a threat.

Hell--he may be glad! He'll finally be able to quit his day job and pursue his dream of his own right-wing branded cable channel. The only way that doesn't happen if he's in jail. On one hand, I think he's dumb enough to think that won't happen. On the other hand, he may realize the only way he can stay out of jail, or at least his whole empire crumbling is to stay in office and run out the clock on his cholesterol.

Pence may be an idiot, but he knows how he got to where he is. He’s gonna fight the impeachment because if Trump loses he’s damaged goods.

He already was, kinda. The only reason he was available to be VP was 'cause the folks in Indiana were tired of his shit.
Trump has gotten to where he was by being in the private sector, where he’s enjoyed little scrutiny from the public or the government even while getting to be on the tee vee...I wager he’s genuinely confused about why things have gotten so much harder for him since 2016.

I've often thought that he has not been held accountable for anything in his life until he made the mistake of running for president.

He probably doesn't like president but he absolutely loves running for president. If he gave up on running, he wouldn't get his hordes of screaming racist morons cheering for him.

This cult is what scares me. Should the Senate vote to remove him from office, would they reject that conclusion and raise arms?
posted by MrGuilt at 8:19 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


I hope that if we do arrest Trump that he posts bail and flees the country.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:33 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


I think y'all forget that Nancy Pelosi is in line for the presidency. I think y'all forget that, after the president, she's the smartest, badass bitch we got repping us in this country. I do not almost ever agree with her but she's in a position of power, really super House power, and I've hated the way she's waited but now I'm gonna trust. But also watch. I'm Lakota but also Welsh. Which makes me not stupid. And fucking paranoid.
posted by blessedlyndie at 8:35 PM on September 24 [36 favorites]


He'll try to pardon himself on his way out of office, resulting in many years of court fights leading to the SCOTUS once again having to make a ruling on something involving a President in a way which will weaken it regardless of its decision.
posted by hippybear at 8:36 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


I still say there might--might be potential for him to bail. "Health issues" to resign as sort of a plea deal.

If he resigns, political deal or not, there’s nothing to stop the state of New York from nailing him to a wall.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 8:39 PM on September 24 [21 favorites]


I hope Trump really loves Russia as much as he says, because that's pretty much the only country that won't extradite him. On the other hand, maybe he won't think it through and will flee to Mexico.
posted by xammerboy at 8:44 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


The Intercept has this piece by Ryan Grim reporting on the internal Democratic Party politics leading up to the announcement today: Why the House Democratic caucus was able to move so rapidly toward impeachment.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:52 PM on September 24 [14 favorites]


Anyone been checking his Twitter feed? He's posted 6 Fox News clips in a row. It's nice for him that the folks in his television box are there to soothe him when he's feelin' low
posted by biddeford at 8:57 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


Between this, the climate strike getting as much traction as it has, and the UK high court demonstrating that is, indeed, possible to have a functioning, independent judiciary, I’m going to allow myself a moment of actual optimism, and tell myself that it’s entirely possible that things might turn out okay.

Just a moment, though. I know better than to keep thinking that way

/gestures broadly at the last few years
posted by Ghidorah at 8:59 PM on September 24 [20 favorites]


Why the House Democratic caucus was able to move so rapidly toward impeachment.

Spoiler: because you demanded it. Everyone who called and berated their Democratic congressman over the last two years made this happen. Not Pelosi. The tide of overwhelming anger was so much that they couldn't face more of it if they did nothing even now. Regular people made this happen. Progressive activists made this happen. Podcast hosts and first time voters and even ex-Republicans made this happen.

The Democratic establishment and Pelosi were resistant. The. Entire. Fucking. Time. We did this, not them.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:01 PM on September 24 [123 favorites]


My two cents: it could happen. From day one he has run roughshod over everyone, including the GOP, and this Ukraine concern is something he created from whole cloth on his own; it is a perfect opportunity for the GOP to say "oh no, it turns out he is terrible, we want him gone too!" So that every Republican that had grown sour on Trump can come back into the fold for the next election. Plus, let's face it, anyone who is still pro-Trump at this point, even if the GOP gets behind this impeachment, what are they going to do, vote Democrat?
posted by davejay at 9:03 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


[Y'all, we have spilled a ton of ink arguing "Pelosi: hero or villain?" already in the absence of having direct agency over what congress has been doing. Let's not dig in on yet another round of it, please.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 PM on September 24 [17 favorites]


Trump says impeachment drive is a plus, yet tweets with fury (Jonathan Lemire and Zehe Miller, AP)
The product of Trump’s norm-breaking presidency and Democrats’ lingering anger over the outcome of the 2016 election, the impeachment inquiry has largely been welcomed by the president’s advisers, who believe it could backfire against Democrats. The president himself said the move could help his electoral chances, but he reacted in the moment with a cascade of angry tweets that accused Democrats of engaging in “a witch hunt” and “presidential harassment.”

A short time earlier, as word of Pelosi’s decision first emerged, an agitated Trump sized up the politics of the moment and the developments that have quickly enveloped his presidency since it was revealed that a whistleblower complaint accused him of pressuring the leader of Ukraine to dig up damaging material about political foe Joe Biden’s family.

“They’re going to lose the election, and they figure this is a thing to do,” Trump told reporters. Speaking of Pelosi, he added, “If she does that, they all say that’s a positive for me, for the election. You could also say, ‘Who needs it? It’s bad for the country.’”
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:36 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


Everything has changed with impeachment. But nothing really has. (Politico)
There are no immediate plans to hold a vote on the House floor to endorse the impeachment inquiry, according to lawmakers and aides. But Republicans have been arguing for months that Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is a “sham” because, they say, it requires a House vote.

“Speaker Pelosi’s decree changes absolutely nothing,” said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “As I have been telling Chairman Nadler for weeks, merely claiming the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry doesn’t make it so. Until the full House votes to authorize an inquiry, nobody is conducting a formal inquiry.”
Politico: Who supports impeachment? (Last updated 9/24/19)
207 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

28 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

The only independent in Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supports impeachment.
posted by katra at 9:48 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Pelosi aside, the Intercept article is interesting in highlighting who specifically the malingerers have been (Neal, DeFazio, and most importantly, the purple-district "frontliners" who have been pushing the leadership to slow-walk impeachment), and that this about-face is due not just direct constituent pressure, but also the 111 primary challengers and counting, "far more than a typical cycle." We may not like it around here, but internal, intra-left conflict -- frontliners and leadership on one side, constituents and primary challengers on the other -- makes a huge difference in what actually happens in Washington.
posted by chortly at 9:48 PM on September 24 [20 favorites]


I honestly just long for a totally imaginary future in which those we elect to government actually govern on behalf of their constituents and not according to party affiliation or political calculation.

I also want both houses of congress to fucking TAKE THE VOTE. This whole McConnell is the bottleneck thing is idiotic and anti-democratic. All the votes should be taken on all the bills. The Hastert Rule is a disaster and has crippled the ability of our legislative branch to actually express the will of the people.

If no votes are ever taken, no will is ever expressed.
posted by hippybear at 10:05 PM on September 24 [42 favorites]


Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “As I have been telling Chairman Nadler for weeks, merely claiming the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry doesn’t make it so. Until the full House votes to authorize an inquiry, nobody is conducting a formal inquiry.”

Uh, Doug, no. There is no requirement for a vote by the full House until the final vote on the articles of impeachment themselves. The full House can vote a resolution recommending an impeachment inquiry, but it isn't necessary. There is no "authorizing an inquiry." The various committees, and in particular the the House Judiciary Committee can conduct impeachment inquiries on their own initiative. They don't need authorization. First the Judiciary Committee votes on articles of impeachment and then forwards them to the full House for the final impeachment vote.
posted by JackFlash at 10:25 PM on September 24 [13 favorites]


How an Impeachment Process Inquiry Works (NYT)
How does a House impeachment inquiry start?

This has been a subject of dispute. During the Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts, the full House voted for resolutions directing the House Judiciary Committee to open the inquiries. But it is not clear whether that step is strictly necessary, because impeachment proceedings against other officials, like a former federal judge in 1989, began at the committee level.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has claimed — including in court filings — that the panel is already engaged in an impeachment investigation. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department has argued that since there has been no House resolution, the committee is just engaged in a routine oversight proceeding.
posted by katra at 11:24 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


xammerboy: "On the other hand, maybe he won't think it through and will flee to Mexico."

Welp, this explains why Mexico's willing to pay for that wall.
posted by chavenet at 1:20 AM on September 25 [14 favorites]


I had a quick look into the fetid comments of a right-wing blog here in New Zealand on this. Massive own-goal by Biden apparently. The transcript will reveal the truth and Biden will be sucker-punched into oblivion by either the cunning of Trump, or the clever false-flag of Warren. Take your pick.

And of course the curious cognitive dissonance of "butter emails/lock her up", and "what happened to the presumption of innocence".

I need a shower.
posted by vac2003 at 1:21 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


I hope that if we do arrest Trump that he posts bail and flees the country.

Or before he is arrested, scheduling an overseas visit to, say, Georgia or Belarus and taking an impromptu tour of a border region.

(I'm assuming that he may not be sufficiently fit to pull a Harold Holt off Mar A Lago.)
posted by acb at 1:23 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


There's an unfinished trump tower in Baku the trump clan can relocate to.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:26 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


I thought that the endgame of his rapprochement with Kim Jong Un was for the Ryugyong Hotel to be renamed the Trump Tower Pyongyang.
posted by acb at 2:37 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


Lucy, you scamp, at it again? OK, lemme back up a bit...
posted by From Bklyn at 2:41 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


@Marie Mon Dieu - that links to a Rolling Stone article from 2018, so what is the Jim Jordan news in question?

Think I probably got suckered in by an old article resurfacing on social media, sorry 'bout that.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:09 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


We may not like it around here, but internal, intra-left conflict -- frontliners and leadership on one side, constituents and primary challengers on the other -- makes a huge difference in what actually happens in Washington.

This is how the Republican base pushed the party rightwards, in fairness. Robust primary challenges are the absolute best way to shift a party's positions in the current system; even when the challenger loses, they push the nominee/incumbent to adopt some of their positions.
posted by kewb at 3:51 AM on September 25 [13 favorites]


I think it's wildly overoptimistic to think the Republicans will abandon Trump. They won't. Not because the elected Republicans love him, but because they fear him. I doubt any impeachment hearings will erode Trump's MAGA cult significantly, and that means he can ruin any elected Republican with a tweet.

He might not be able (or willing) to help Republicans win, but he can damn sure make them lose if they get on his enemies list.

No way will he be removed by the Senate. And I'm doubtful any Republicans will risk their reelection to urge him to step down.

Our only real hope here is that the hearings get America's attention and convince enough Americans that Republicans are corrupt that in 2020 we get a blue tidal wave that makes the 2018 wave look weak by comparison.

And that needs theater, table pounding, and daily hearings that dominate the news cycle with both Trump's own corruption and a charismatic and energetic Democrat tying that corruption to the Republicans at large.

If the Democrats chose to make this a Mueller style snoozer where the hearings are an exercise in boring droning bullshit they'll lose. jasondigitized is 100% correct, they need to find some directors and showrunners with skills in making things interesting, because this will never be solved by the Senate removing Trump from office, it'll be solved in the court of public opinion and for that we need media strategy and some charismatic Democrats at the forefront.
posted by sotonohito at 4:14 AM on September 25 [39 favorites]


Progressive group calls for Pelosi to cancel congressional recess for impeachment (emphasis mine)
Progressive group Indivisible on Tuesday called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to cancel recess to focus on impeaching President Trump.

"We're glad Speaker Pelosi finally said out loud what a majority of the Democratic Caucus and constituents have been saying for months: Donald Trump has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security, and betrayed the integrity of our elections," Leah Greenberg, the group's co-executive director, said in a statement.

"Now, we need to see her words backed up with action: cancel recess, and get to a vote on articles of impeachment as soon as humanly possible. Every day that Trump is president is another day our democracy is broken and our national security is at risk," she added.
[...]
The impeachment process is set to be interrupted by Congress leaving for recess on Sept. 30. It is not scheduled to return until Oct. 15.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:29 AM on September 25 [30 favorites]


Impeachment should remain as difficult as it seems. But damn sometimes you want it to be easier.
posted by PHINC at 4:56 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


The problem with trying to convince people that Republicans are corrupt, is that being corrupt is now the basis of their popularity. By becoming the party of racial/gender grievance, they've doubled down on the philosophy of "we don't play fair, and we're the only ones who can keep white men at the top where they belong."

That's why tearing them down is so hard, because it only adds to the backlash that revealed the problem in the first place. The Democrats are trying to have a revolution (AOC) without scaring people (Pelosi) and that leads to cognitive dissonance and splits within the party. But I truly believe we're all working toward the same goals, and radical change is hard to accomplish without making the whole country a killing floor. Because white men and their guns. It really sucks that we can't do better sooner.
posted by rikschell at 4:57 AM on September 25 [31 favorites]


"To be clear: I still think the most likely scenario is the Dems manage to shoot themselves in the dick again, don't even make it to a full impeachment, and Trump skates to reelection on the same heady combination of white nationalism and naked election rigging that got him elected in the first place."
If "full impeachment" proceeds and the Senate is not politically ready to convict him regardless of evidence, then all this would do is provide Trump with a full acquittal for every crime he is impeached for. He would then be able to crow forever about having been found innocent of each of these crimes. Whether or not "full impeachment" would be an exercise in shooting ourselves in the gonads will be an incredibly context-dependent decision that I am sure as hell glad is in the hands of people with a much more nuanced understanding than this.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:27 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


This cult is what scares me. Should the Senate vote to remove him from office, would they reject that conclusion and raise arms?

They have already raised arms and have been for at least 20 years. They have also already engaged in open terrorism (the Oklahoma federal building bombing) and military actions (the national park occupation) and on and on.

What should scare you is not the potential for conflict with the cult. What should scare you is the defacto ongoing pre-emptive surrender to the cult out of fear.
posted by srboisvert at 5:38 AM on September 25 [111 favorites]


I truly believe that this morning is the first time in Trump's life that he woke up thinking (to some extent) that he was deep enough into something that money, bribes, lawyers, or cases of Trump Steaks couldn't get him out of. The fact that he reached out to Pelosi to 'make this go away' is a huge orange flag.

If the hearings were held in the Senate today, Trump would not be removed, but the number of Republican Senators not willing to give the hearings a fair listen and the public opinion polls of same will never be more in Trump's favor than this minute and only will go up. It's going to get worse, a lot worse, before it gets any better for him.

All politics are local. Watch Kentucky and Bevin's special election on November 9th. That campaign is in disarray and he's down almost double digits. Don Jr. could barely draw into the thousands, and if Trump himself campaigns for Bevin and he still loses....well. Moscow Mitch is vile and evil but he isn't stupid. His priorities, in order, are to keep his job, keep his majority, and keep Trump happy. If either of the first two are threatened, the latter becomes significantly less important.

This isn't to say that Senate Republicans are eager to dump support for Trump, but there is a tipping point and that point will also never be further away than it is today. There is no one in the Senate more craven than Moscow Mitch. They'll throw Trump under a bus the second they realize it will increase their chances of staying in power.

Also, looking to the future, I don't think it's pure coincidence Paul Ryan has moved back to the greater DC area, when thinking of possible 2020 R candidates with semi-national name recognition and who aren't tied to Trump in some way.
posted by splen at 5:38 AM on September 25 [18 favorites]


The fact that he reached out to Pelosi to 'make this go away' is a huge orange flag.

I'm sorry to have missed this detail--is there a citation for it?
posted by box at 5:57 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


If "full impeachment" proceeds and the Senate is not politically ready to convict him regardless of evidence, then all this would do is provide Trump with a full acquittal for every crime he is impeached for. He would then be able to crow forever about having been found innocent of each of these crimes.

So what you're saying is that Trump will win no matter what, and those pushing for impeachment (which is impossible) are only making this harder on themselves?
posted by acb at 5:59 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Moscow Mitch is vile and evil but he isn't stupid. His priorities, in order, are to keep his job, keep his majority, and keep Trump happy. If either of the first two are threatened, the latter becomes significantly less important.

He and his wife Elaine Chao have engaged in more obvious corruption than normal. They probably thought that it's Trump's white house, everybody is doing it, and who's going to notice a little more corruption. The problem is that an impeachment would be followed by anti-corruption push and Mitch's career would be over. So he has a real incentive to keep Trump around.
posted by rdr at 6:04 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


The fact that he reached out to Pelosi to 'make this go away' is a huge orange flag.

I'm sorry to have missed this detail--is there a citation for it?


A reference to this:

@MSNBC

“The President actually said to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint, can we work something out.’ And she said ‘Yes, you can tell your people to obey the law.’ So she quickly swatted that down." - @HeidiNBC

posted by mikelieman at 6:04 AM on September 25 [23 favorites]


I just got a dozen Brazilians to say "Fuck Donald Trump" in exchange for me chugging a full glass of beer.

Speaking as a Canadian, most of us would say “Fuck Donald Trump” for free. Heck, you wouldn’t even need to ask us, just mention his name and we’d say it spontaneously.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 6:17 AM on September 25 [30 favorites]


The WAPO article linked to above sheds some light on why Democratic investigations have been slow walked until now.

On the Ways and Means Committee, Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., dragged his feet for months before requesting Trump’s taxes from the IRS, as is his right. His colleagues were driven mad by the slow process, which they suspected was driven by Neal’s desire to get Trump and the GOP’s buy-in for his retirement security legislation.

The same dynamic is playing out in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio. Trump’s D.C. hotel is located in a taxpayer-owned building under a lease from the GSA, the General Services Administration. Yet Defazio hasn't done very much, congress suspects, because he wants to make an infrastructure deal with Trump.

So basically some key Democrats were stalling things so they could wheel and deal. How disappointing.
posted by xammerboy at 6:33 AM on September 25 [35 favorites]


Hell, I’d even buy you the beer.
posted by nubs at 6:33 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


As a reminder there is a still open thread specifically about whistleblower stuff; understandable that major developments may be pertinent in this discussion as well but as far as accumulating details and tidbits that should stick to that topic-specific thread, and this one should stick to specifically stuff happening/developing with the impeachment inquiry process announced this afternoon.

This seems unnecessarily complicated. All of the recent impeachment inquiry process news is 100% tied to the whistleblower stuff.

For example, according to the rules, this doesn't belong here, and that doesn't make any sense.

“The President actually said to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint, can we work something out.’ And she said ‘Yes, you can tell your people to obey the law.’ So she quickly swatted that down." - @HeidiNBC
posted by diogenes at 6:35 AM on September 25 [30 favorites]


My two cents: it could happen. From day one he has run roughshod over everyone, including the GOP, and this Ukraine concern is something he created from whole cloth on his own; it is a perfect opportunity for the GOP to say "oh no, it turns out he is terrible, we want him gone too!"

There's something to this. The secret to winning an argument is to give the other person a way to gracefully rescind, and this could be it for some Republicans. There have to be a few who know the train is derailing but haven't had the chance they need to back away from their position in a politically feasible way. Here's a chance. You know, IF the Democrats put together something more engaging to the American public than the Mueller mealy-mouthed snoozefest.

Don'g get me wrong, I don't think it's remotely likely. But I also think it's a non-zero possibility. You don't have to get every Republican senator's vote. Hell you don't even need half of them.
posted by FakeFreyja at 6:38 AM on September 25 [13 favorites]


Transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian president shows him offering U.S. assistance for Biden investigation
He adds later: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. … It sounds horrible to me.”

Zelensky replied that “my candidate” for the prosecutor job “will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.”
They're not even going to try to hide it which means they're either extraordinarily stupid or they think they're going to get away with it no matter what.

Porque no los dos?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:14 AM on September 25 [20 favorites]


Whistleblower thread becomes this thread, no?
posted by avalonian at 7:16 AM on September 25 [5 favorites]


On the Ways and Means Committee, Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., dragged his feet for months before requesting Trump’s taxes from the IRS, as is his right. His colleagues were driven mad by the slow process, which they suspected was driven by Neal’s desire to get Trump and the GOP’s buy-in for his retirement security legislation.

Alex Morse, who's trying to unseat Neal, gave me a call yesterday fundraising for his primary challenge against Neal. I put in another $25 to his pot and wished him well on trying to do it, even if I'm not in MA-01. Looks like I'm going to double it with a note saying to dethrone this corrupt asshole.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:19 AM on September 25 [5 favorites]


So the "offer" the whistleblower was concerned about was the offer to meet at the white house?
posted by saturday_morning at 7:21 AM on September 25


Does Trump sound coherent in the transcript? Because if Trump sounds coherent, it isn't a genuine transcript.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:21 AM on September 25 [22 favorites]



“The President actually said to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint, can we work something out.’ And she said ‘Yes, you can tell your people to obey the law.’ So she quickly swatted that down." - @HeidiNBC


The Shart Of The Deal! It says a lot that Trump really and truly thought he could "work something out," that is, use organized crime tactics as POTUS. It also demonstrates how fortunate we are that we got out the vote to have a Blue Wave and take back the House in 2018. If we hadn't, and the House was still red, well, we'd be in much deeper shit than we are now.

I'm hearing a lot of "Dummycrats in Disarray!" in this thread, and I guess some people will never be satisfied, but, let's face it, we're in much better array than we were in 2017. And there's a long way between an impeachment inquiry and an actual impeachment. An inquiry shows that there is good reason to believe the POTUS did something illegal, not to mention unethical and immoral. Let's worry about "well the Senate will shoot it down and Trump will be vindicated and DOOM!" if and when impeachment proceeds to the Senate.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:21 AM on September 25 [28 favorites]


The complete unclassified version

Looks like they didn't redact shit and it's the secret memorandum declassified. And it's pretty fucking bad. Holy shit they've actually got the brass balls to actually think that they can openly just do this now.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:24 AM on September 25 [25 favorites]


I thought that the whistleblower reported a pattern of calls and offers, not just this one call.
posted by all about eevee at 7:24 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


On NPR just now, they were emphasizing that the transcript is not an actual transcript but a summary of notes taken during the call
posted by medusa at 7:24 AM on September 25 [19 favorites]


This is gonna be extra-hilarious when Biden doesn't even win the Primary (for reasons of him just being a bland hot mess of racist gaffes, not something something Ukraine).
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:25 AM on September 25 [22 favorites]


And Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star points out that the call also brought up the DNC hack by the Russians.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:27 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


He actually freaking did it. I thought it was going to be something like him mentioning Biden as an example of corruption and then tutting, "What a shame", but no, he used the word "favor" and he asked Ukraine to look into Biden, explicitly.

I can't believe this, it's so blatant!
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:27 AM on September 25 [19 favorites]


- "They're not even going to try to hide it which means they're either extraordinarily stupid or they think they're going to get away with it no matter what."
- "On NPR just now, they were emphasizing that the transcript is not an actual transcript but a summary of notes taken during the call"
- "Looks like they didn't redact shit and it's the Secret memorandum declassified. And it's pretty fucking bad. Holy shit they've actually got the brass balls to actually think that they can openly just do this now."

Yesterday: biddeford - If I understand this correctly, there were a series of (at least) 8 phone calls to the Ukrainian president. Pussy grabber and his people seem to be hanging everything on the transcript to one phone call. That seems like a strategy, as if the transcript to a single conversation will put this to rest, taken out of context of the wider pattern. The administration is once again trying to define the perimeters of the story.

And the journalists (dang, even at WaPo) are doing their best to help define those parameters/perimeters.
posted by carsonb at 7:28 AM on September 25 [10 favorites]


I think this mess will boost Biden. Hell, there's something reflexive inside of me that makes me think more of him. (He must be honest if Trump needs to go this length to smear him. . .)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:29 AM on September 25


This is gonna be extra-hilarious when Biden doesn't even win the Primary (for reasons of him just being a bland hot mess of racist gaffes, not something something Ukraine).

Yeah the swarm of concern-trolling hot takes from the likes of Marc Thiessen saying "this is gonna be WAY WORSE for BIDEN than for TRUMP you FOOLISH DUMBOCRATS" has been pretty fun because, welp, doesn't sound to me like much of a problem for President Warren.

And the journalists (dang, even at WaPo) are doing their best to help define those parameters/perimeters.

To be fair, this ("Why Trump releasing the transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president isn’t enough") was their second leading story last night.
posted by saturday_morning at 7:31 AM on September 25 [19 favorites]


I think this mess will boost Biden. Hell, there's something reflexive inside of me that makes me think more of him. (He must be honest if Trump needs to go this length to smear him. . .)

That's not why people don't want him, though. People don't want Biden because he's a little creepy, he'd be much happier as an Eisenhower Republican, and he's all about the status quo and rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:31 AM on September 25 [25 favorites]


>>>"To be clear: I still think the most likely scenario is the Dems manage to shoot themselves in the dick again, don't even make it to a full impeachment, and Trump skates to reelection on the same heady combination of white nationalism and naked election rigging that got him elected in the first place."

>>"If "full impeachment" proceeds and the Senate is not politically ready to convict him regardless of evidence, then all this would do is provide Trump with a full acquittal for every crime he is impeached for. He would then be able to crow forever about having been found innocent of each of these crimes."

>"So what you're saying is that Trump will win no matter what, and those pushing for impeachment (which is impossible) are only making this harder on themselves?"
What I am saying is that, with Moscow Mitch maintaining his control over the Senate and aligning himself with Trump irrespective of any evidence of guilt, this is a complex political problem that cannot be usefully understood in terms that are this simplistic or misogynistic. Pelosi failing to fall for a trap that Republican Senators would have loved for us all to run into is not an endorsement of Trump. Instead, what we actually need from our leaders is much more complex than could fit in a tweet or onto a sign. Assuming that the necessary critical mass of Republican Senators keep their heads wedged firmly up their asses, then what we will need is what we are getting now: an extended impeachment process that lasts until right after the elections and provides an extended show on television demonstrating Trump's crimes but that did not interfere with the American public getting to know Democratic candidates. One benefit of this plan is that it leaves a hand held out to Republicans in the Senate ready to help extract their heads for the good of the country. With just how blatant and unavoidably obvious this now is, maybe they will?

Even if the impeachment process were to actually proceed and move to a trial that convicts Trump, it would require a negotiated settlement among Senators that involves either Pence taking over or the selection of a new Republican Vice President to then assume the Presidency, which will leave no one feeling fully satisfied. A protracted constitutional fight over whether Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, or Mike Pompeo, as the next person in line who is unambiguously eligible to serve as an Officer of the United States, would end the Republic - by design. The likelihood that we will briefly have a President Pence or Romney is definitely going up.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:34 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


...the transcript is not an actual transcript...

Nailed it.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:35 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


They're not even going to try to hide it which means they're either extraordinarily stupid or they think they're going to get away with it no matter what.
I mean, he told us he could shoot a man on 5th Avenue and get away with it. I would probably stay away from 5th Avenue for the foreseeable future.

I wish I had more faith that he was wrong.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:37 AM on September 25 [13 favorites]


Does Trump sound coherent in the transcript? Because if Trump sounds coherent, it isn't a genuine transcript.

...the transcript is not an actual transcript...

still managed to get a "their" where there should have been a "theyre" on page 4, though, so signs still point to this being team trumps original work.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:42 AM on September 25 [11 favorites]


The folks behind one of the major dictionaries of record would like to remind everyone of the meanings of "transcript" and "memorandum".
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:43 AM on September 25 [31 favorites]


One benefit of this plan is that it leaves a hand held out to Republicans in the Senate ready to help extract their heads for the good of the country. With just how blatant and unavoidably obvious this now is, maybe they will?

Or, they could just send articles of impeachment for EVERY SINGLE THING Trump has done which would both take months to work through and force the Republicans to either convict him or stand with him on all of it. One charge gets through, he's gone. Make them own it all and own it fully.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:44 AM on September 25 [19 favorites]


Nobody is impeaching Mike Pence in the short term, unless he’s somehow more involved than Trump was. There’s no such thing as a package deal, and it hasn’t been floated. If Trump goes, we get Pence, and then we start to think about whether he’s crooked enough to remove or not, but probably not, and definitely not immediately.

There is no realistic path to President Pelosi—which probably helps the case for impeachment of Trump.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:45 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


This is gonna be extra-hilarious when Biden doesn't even win the Primary

Warren Leads Democratic Field in California
Warren Leads Democratic Pack Nationally
Biden Plunges In Early State Polls

posted by kirkaracha at 7:48 AM on September 25 [42 favorites]


I don't know much about President Zelenskyy, but man -- does that guy know how to flatter Trump. He parrots Trump's own phrases back at him, compliments him at every turn, casually mentions that he stays at Trump properties... Guy did his homework, and knows his mark.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:50 AM on September 25 [62 favorites]


The problem with the transcript focus is that if he gets through this, world leaders will have been trained that if aid money stops flowing in one direction, personal favors need to start flowing in the other direction. No verbal requests necessary. And the problem with the election focus is that a rich businessman with a multinational business has many avenues for receiving favors. 14 months from now, elections won’t be of interest, in any case.

It sounds to me like the focus of this whole thing should be on what is/isn’t acceptable to do when dealing with foreign powers. Just draw that line and work on convincing people of it. Otherwise we’ll get into another situation of facts slowly coming to light and being normalized, and the whole case will evaporate, even as it weakens the fabric of the country’s democracy.
posted by mantecol at 7:50 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Wow. This is so much worse than I thought it would be.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:51 AM on September 25 [13 favorites]


For "notes", they are extremely detailed, like a verbatim shorthand transcribed (do they still use shorthand?? what's the procedure here?) and Trump's incoherence is on record.
I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it...
and people were right that Mueller's performance in front of Congress gave Trump the courage to continue.
...As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance...
And! it looks like they were talking cross purposes when discussing " the ambassador". Trump was referring to the US Ambassador *to* Ukraine and Zelinsky was talking about the Ukraine Ambassador to the US.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:52 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


The problem with the transcript focus is that if he gets through this, world leaders will have been trained that if aid money stops flowing in one direction, personal favors need to start flowing in the other direction.

Yeah, I was thinking similarly- now that this is public, it's practically a PSA to the world that they can get free aid money by meddling in our election. There need to be serious consequences fast.
posted by p3t3 at 7:55 AM on September 25 [43 favorites]


For "notes", they are extremely detailed, like a verbatim shorthand transcribed (do they still use shorthand?? what's the procedure here?)

To quote Tom Nichols, "This is the best version we could come up with, because the actual transcript would melt your face off."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:57 AM on September 25 [7 favorites]


Ignoring for a moment that the transcript is doctored and edited, there isn't just one transcript at question here, but many discussions between highly placed WH and Ukrainian officials over weeks and months. So even if we were to get a clean transcript, it would only be one piece of evidence in a much larger case.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:57 AM on September 25 [7 favorites]


The transcript itself is so overwhelmingly damning that it's hard to imagine what's going to be in the whistleblower's report.

Trump just admitted, by his own version of events, that he solicited a foreign power to work with the Attorney General of the United States to do opposition research on a political rival. It's worse than Watergate.

If we weren't living in the fuckiverse, this would be an open-and-shut impeachment and resignation under threat of removal from the Senate.
posted by 0xFCAF at 8:00 AM on September 25 [81 favorites]


Lawfare advocates for including more articles of impeachment than just the Ukraine affair, but against a full kitchen-sink approach.
posted by Jpfed at 15:41


The goal is to avoid articles of impeachment which stand a chance of being disqualified on any number of grounds.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:00 AM on September 25 [10 favorites]


>> And! it looks like they were talking cross purposes when discussing " the ambassador". Trump was referring to the US Ambassador *to* Ukraine and Zelinsky was talking about the Ukraine Ambassador to the US.

No, they both mean the same person: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_L._Yovanovitch.

The reported word order of Zelensky's remarks is just off.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:03 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Was the author of this memo OJ Simpson?

If I Did It (and I did, here's a picture of me doing it)
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:05 AM on September 25 [7 favorites]


If I Did It (and I did, here's a picture of me doing it)

Quick Mysteries
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:07 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


The transcript itself

*booping sound*

JANET: Not a transcript.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:08 AM on September 25 [80 favorites]


No, they both mean the same person

Got it. Zelensky starts off about recalling and replacing his ambassador to the US and Trump just hears "ambassador" and rants on from there.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:17 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


And the NYT literally went "both sides" on this in their headline!
posted by bitteschoen at 8:18 AM on September 25 [16 favorites]


It's obviously criminal but hasn't the DOJ already decided that no criminal activity took place. How will the transcript matter in the end? They wouldn't release it if there were a risk I assume.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:19 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk about the distinction between this thread and the whistleblower thread.
posted by diogenes at 8:19 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


Man, these guys are not smart. That's all I can say.
posted by captain afab at 8:31 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


Lawfare advocates for including more articles of impeachment than just the Ukraine affair, but against a full kitchen-sink approach.

It's too early to talk about articles of impeachment. All of Trump's conduct as president should be investigated (and probably already is) by the committees, and then there may or may not be articles of impeachment.
...while reports that Trump has suggested he would pardon officials in order to induce lawbreaking certainly strike at the heart of impeachable conduct, the current record is insufficiently strong. Because press reports remain unconfirmed, and because the comments are open to interpretations that the president was speaking in jest, Congress should, for now, not include this conduct.
So investigate and find out if there's evidence of wrongdoing.
Congress should focus for impeachment purposes only on matters of unacceptable presidential conduct that are provable on the basis of currently available evidence and that are thus easily presentable to the Senate for judgment.
Why restrict it to currently available evidence? Investigations are for finding out more evidence.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:33 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


Former DOJ Eric Columbus:
Key point — Trump first spoke to Zelensky on April 21, ten days before Barr couldn’t answer if anyone in WH ever asked him to open an investigation. (h/t @AshaRangappa_ for recalling this Harris/Barr exchange).
From readout:
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Well., thank you very much and I
appreciate that. I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to.·
call.
(Pepperidge Farm Asha Rangappa remembers...)
HARRIS: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested you open an investigation into anyone?

BARR: ..... ah .....

HARRIS: Seems like something you should be able to answer

BARR: I don't know .......
posted by Jpfed at 8:34 AM on September 25 [54 favorites]


Shouldn't Barr have recused himself from anything to do with this since he was mentioned in the transcript?
posted by localhuman at 8:35 AM on September 25 [13 favorites]



For "notes", they are extremely detailed, like a verbatim shorthand transcribed (do they still use shorthand?? what's the procedure here?)


Note the disclaimer at the bottom of the transcript:
CAUTION: A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation.· (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation. The word "inaudible" is used to indicate portions of a conversation that the notetaker was unable to hear
I cleaned it up from the cut-and-paste.

The way I'm interpreting this is that, while there wasn't a court stenographer capturing things in real time or someone transcribing it after the fact from a recording (which I could see why they might not go that route), it is what serves as a "transcript" for these sorts of interactions. So, trained individuals listen to the call and put together a record. I have no clue how "admissible" this is as evidence, but probably regarded as a legit transcript. Since it's not a verbatim transcript, it may give Trump some wiggle room, but, if this is SOP and used in critical situations in the past (and as obvious as the quotes are), I'm not sure.

I would love to hear from someone who knows a bit more about how the situation room works in these situations, what the legal standing is, etc.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:39 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Shouldn't Barr have recused himself from anything to do with this since he was mentioned in the transcript?

In a sane world, yes. In Bizarro Trumpworld, we have the King's Defender as the head of the DOJ. Would you have him abandon the defense of his patron?

If he didn't recuse himself from Epstein he sure won't on this.
posted by benzenedream at 8:45 AM on September 25 [10 favorites]


Since it's not a verbatim transcript, it may give Trump some wiggle room

This is my fear—"I never said any of this stuff, and the memo's author hates America and should be fired and prosecuted."
posted by Rykey at 8:49 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Stupid? Yep.
Ham handed? Yep.
Illegal and/or quid pro quo? Big question mark.
posted by tgrundke at 8:50 AM on September 25


Ppl here are forgetting that Don Jr released an email chain showing that they were expecting dirt on Hillary as part of Putin’s support for his father and nothing happened.
posted by gucci mane at 8:52 AM on September 25 [36 favorites]


I would love to hear from someone who knows a bit more about how the situation room works in these situations,

James Goldgeier, who took notes on some of President Clinton's calls, explains.
...typically several of us from the National Security Council staff sat in the White House basement with headphones on, taking notes that we would then use to produce a formal memorandum of telephone conversation....

The quality of the notes varies, depending on the number and quality of the note-takers. It might sound easy. It isn’t — particularly if there is only one note-taker trying desperately to make a record of the conversation. Normally that record would list who the note-takers were; look for that fact in the record when it’s released. [The memo lists only "The White House Situation Room" and does not identify the note-taker(s) by name.] If there is more than one note-taker, they confer and go over their notes to produce the most accurate account possible; the greater the number of those taking notes, the more likely the final memorandum can be relied upon as accurate...

The record we will see should not be called a transcript. Beyond any coded way of speaking that the president might have, the record could be misleading in any number of ways. The notes may not have captured the exact wording — not for nefarious reasons but simply because of the note-takers’ limited capacity to write as they listen, especially if only one person was taking notes. Certain things may have been removed from the record before it was approved for distribution within the government. And certain things may be removed before the president releases the memorandum publicly, regardless of the president’s assurance that it will be “complete and unredacted.”
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:53 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


Ppl here are forgetting that Don Jr released an email chain showing that they were expecting dirt on Hillary as part of Putin’s support for his father and nothing happened.

In violation of 52 USC 30121, 18 USC 371, and 18 USC 1001 for the conspiracy to cover it up.

And nothing happened.
posted by mikelieman at 8:56 AM on September 25 [25 favorites]


Illegal and/or quid pro quo? Big question mark.

Zelensky says he wants to buy more Javelin missiles. Trump: "I want you do to us a favor, though." That's a pretty goddamn small question mark. Pretty much just a period!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:56 AM on September 25 [16 favorites]


I only skimmed, but it appears that Trump is asking about things related to past events: Biden's previous dealings, and the 2016 election. Question I have is: is it a crime to ask about events that already happened, and are already out in the open?
posted by tgrundke at 8:58 AM on September 25


I would love to hear from someone who knows a bit more about how the situation room works in these situations

Twitter thread from Larry Pfieffer, former senior director of the White House Situation Room:

"...unless this administration has changed procedures in place for many years, there are no WH tapes of this phone call ...could there be recordings made by the foreign head-of-state's government or a foreign intelligence service? Sure ... Could there be recordings made by the US Intelligence Community? No. ... there should be transcripts of the call. It is a long-standing practice, intended to not only memorialize the call but to protect the President against the foreign leader/gov't making egregious claims about the call. The White House Situation Room and the responsible NSC directorate develop the transcript. WHSR, which monitors the call, develops a verbatim working transcript which is reviewed and finalized by the NSC directorate and captured in a memorandum of conversation (MEMCON). ... This MEMCON can vary greatly from a lightly edited full transcript to a vaguely worded summary of the call..."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:58 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Ppl here are forgetting that Don Jr released an email chain showing that they were expecting dirt on Hillary as part of Putin’s support for his father and nothing happened.

Their defense then was that they never went through with it. Rudy has been on TV the last 72 hours making that a lot harder of a defense this time.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:58 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Along with the "not a transcript" reminders, it might also bear remembering that impeachment does not require a definitive crime to have been committed. The standards that should be expected of the presidency can be definitively violated looooooooooooong before the standards of criminality.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:00 AM on September 25 [18 favorites]


Lentrohamsanin is correct in that impeachment was designed to be a political process, not necessarily legal.
posted by tgrundke at 9:03 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


2020 Democrats Say Trump’s Call With Ukraine President Is a ‘Smoking Gun’ (NYT)
“If this is the version of events the president’s team thinks is most favorable, he is in very deep jeopardy,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said.
posted by katra at 9:06 AM on September 25 [41 favorites]


Illegal and/or quid pro quo? Big question mark.

But it doesn't matter if it's technically illegal or meets a criminal code's definition of quid pro quo. He's not a private individual in a courtroom, he's doing a job and we're discussing whether to fire him. I can get fired for lots of stuff that's not illegal. The president can be fired for committing immoral actions and abuses of power that aren't explicitly illegal.

Impeachment is not about legal technicalities. It's about whether someone's fit for office.
posted by echo target at 9:16 AM on September 25 [75 favorites]


Another way of saying it is that in an impeachment, the criminal rules of evidence do not apply. Things like hearsay or taking the Fifth Amendment, congress members can assume whatever they want.
posted by JackFlash at 9:21 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Could there be recordings made by the US Intelligence Community? No.

Lol ok dude
posted by dis_integration at 9:22 AM on September 25 [26 favorites]


You are correct, echo target, but 'fit for office' is a completely political interpretation.

Republicans in '98 thought Clinton was unfit for office and the thing they finally 'got' Clinton on, after years of various investigations, was lying under oath. Pyrrhic victory that it was. In many ways, the Clinton impeachment was political theater to pander to the core constituents, knowing full well that the Senate would never convict.

This is gonna be messy, all around.
posted by tgrundke at 9:22 AM on September 25


Their defense then was that they never went through with it. Rudy has been on TV the last 72 hours making that a lot harder of a defense this time.

Has he? Because this feels like the same thing. The “transcript” says nothing about withholding aid, and in the context of the whole thing the Biden part is extremely minor. It’s a tiny blip in the readout. They can easily say “we never went through with it”/“we never received anything”/“we gave them their aid”.

I just don’t see what is different this time around. What makes this a smoking gun scandal versus cooperation with a foreign government to steal the election? And then obstructing the investigation into that?
posted by gucci mane at 9:24 AM on September 25


I only skimmed, but it appears that Trump is asking about things related to past events: Biden's previous dealings, and the 2016 election. Question I have is: is it a crime to ask about events that already happened, and are already out in the open?

That's not...what this is.
posted by Gadarene at 9:25 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


So my question is whether this is some 3D chess by Trump & team to prop up Biden's poll numbers. Are they more afraid of Warren?
posted by fraxil at 9:26 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


You are correct, echo target, but 'fit for office' is a completely political interpretation.

And impeachment is an entirely political process. There is no appeal to the courts, for instance. The only thing stopping Congress from indulging in frivolous and partisan impeachments is Congress itself, and public opinion.
posted by thelonius at 9:27 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


The “transcript” says nothing about withholding aid

Zelensky says he wants to purchase more Javelin missiles, which is aid (sales of US-made weapons of war are tightly controlled) and Trump's response is "I want you to do us a favor, though." That's barely even veiled.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:28 AM on September 25 [34 favorites]


Guilani is already in panicked cover his ass mode. He's afraid of being convicted of a crime so keeps saying that he was "directed by the State Department" and the State Department keeps saying "we don't know this guy."
posted by JackFlash at 9:29 AM on September 25 [26 favorites]


I just don’t see what is different this time around. What makes this a smoking gun scandal versus cooperation with a foreign government to steal the election?

- Occurred while Trump was President, and he was using his authority and tools as President to try and accomplish it.
- More concrete proof of the quid pro quo: we know the Ukraine funding was held up, and that Congress was told the OMB was holding up funding at the direction of the President.
posted by sallybrown at 9:30 AM on September 25 [28 favorites]


thelonius - hence my take that this is overwhelmingly theater, like the Clinton impeachment.

Heck, Obama's hot mic with Medvedev in 2012 saying, "After my election I have more flexibility" is more damning than this "smoking gun" transcript/memo.

It's politics, so it's going to be messy and polarizing, and, as you said, down to public opinion, which is going to fall basically 50/50 based on the evidence provided so far. Present some evidence that there was a definite quid pro quo and toss him from office today. Until then, it's going to be politics as usual.
posted by tgrundke at 9:32 AM on September 25


More concrete proof of the quid pro quo: we know the Ukraine funding was held up, and that Congress was told the OMB was holding up funding at the direction of the President.

You're absolutely right. And that looks really bad from an optics standpoint, but is there proof that the aid was held up because Trump was going to "request" what he did in the transcript?

Since impeachment is a political process it makes sense to move forward. However, it's going to be hard to convince 50% of the country that a quid pro quo really took place here. Arguing a defense (based on what we've seen so far), won't be too difficult.
posted by tgrundke at 9:36 AM on September 25


FYI as a part-time resident of Richard Neal’s district, but planning to switch my voting residency there soon, I called his office. His staff told me he has now taken a position in favor of
Impeachment.
posted by spitbull at 9:39 AM on September 25 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure what you're expecting a quid pro quo to look like.

Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig:
If I got a transcript like the Trump-Ukraine call in a regular criminal case for bribery or extortion, I’d think, “Wow, I’m surprised they’re discussing this so openly and clearly.”
posted by Jpfed at 9:40 AM on September 25 [68 favorites]


The White House emails their Ukraine talking points to House Democrats

Well, the years start coming and they don't stop coming. Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running. Didn't make sense not to live for fun. Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:40 AM on September 25 [38 favorites]


Heck, Obama's hot mic with Medvedev in 2012 saying, "After my election I have more flexibility" is more damning than this "smoking gun" transcript/memo.

WHAT?

I mean, WHAAAAAAT?

No, but really I mean that I cannot conceive of any sane viewpoint in which this is true.
posted by Gaz Errant at 9:40 AM on September 25 [64 favorites]


Jonathan Martin
@jmartNYT
NEW: @MittRomney tells reporters “what we’ve seen from the transcript is deeply troubling” but declines to endorse impeachment inquiry, wants to let process play out.


Anand Giridharadas
@AnandWrites
Mitt, it is time to strap the dog of courage onto the car of your constitutional obligations.


Other than Greta Thunberg changing her Twitter bio, this tweet by Anand Giridharadas is the most incredible thing I've seen in a while. FIRE EMOJI.
posted by Gadarene at 9:41 AM on September 25 [119 favorites]


but is there proof that the aid was held up because Trump was going to "request" what he did in the transcript?

The call summary indicates that the President of Ukraine told Trump they wanted to purchase more Javelins from the US (the aid we have been providing Ukraine on an ongoing basis in its conflict with Russia), and literally the first thing Trump says in response is “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

Whether that will convince Republicans is a fully separate question from whether a quid pro quo happened.
posted by sallybrown at 9:42 AM on September 25 [15 favorites]


The fact that these idiots ended up sending their talking points to the wrong people and then tried to recall the email is just, wow. Imagine the frantic disarray over there.

Hey Trump, just fyi, you know what might make it easier to recall a sent email? HAVING YOUR OWN EMAIL SERVER
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:48 AM on September 25 [26 favorites]


Trump’s Ukraine Explanations Are All Over The Map As House Gears Up For Impeachment
According to President Donald Trump, his conversation in July with the new Ukrainian president was about:
  1. Withholding $400 million in U.S. aid;
  2. Not withholding aid, actually;
  3. Ukraine needing to investigate Trump’s leading Democratic opponent;
  4. Ukraine needing to crack down on corruption;
  5. Europe having to pay more;
  6. He can’t say, but it was perfect;
  7. All of the above.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:52 AM on September 25 [22 favorites]




but is there proof that the aid was held up because Trump was going to "request" what he did in the transcript?

You are asking for an absurd level of evidence. What, you want a signed confession with their thumbprints?

What we know is that Trump personally asked that the aid be held up. It was so baffling that various members of congress got involved asking the White House what the holdup was about. And then the White House lied about the reason for the holdup. They told congress it was because of an "interagency process." Various agencies themselves indicated that they were baffled by the holdup. This was a lie. It was due only to Trump's personal request.

Lying to congress about your actions is circumstantial evidence for an underlying crime.
posted by JackFlash at 9:57 AM on September 25 [57 favorites]


Whistleblower thread becomes this thread, no?

We still don't know anything about the whistleblower, including whether this call is even a part of the issue.
posted by rhizome at 9:57 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


the room erupted in laughter.

I'd join in but this is all gallows humor until proven otherwise.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:57 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


I can see why he says it was a perfect call, because the Ukrainian President was not so subtly kissing his ass all the time. That’s how Trump measures relations with other leaders, I guess.
(And douze points for mentioning staying at Trump tower.)

Yet I supposed we should be thankful to Zelensky because if he hadn’t kept Trump so flattered throughout maybe Trump would have been more careful about what he was saying?!
posted by bitteschoen at 9:59 AM on September 25 [24 favorites]


the President of Ukraine told Trump they wanted to purchase more Javelins from the US

The Javelins are something of a geopolitical minefield because they are lethal military aid, they are only made in the US (unlike an RPG or TOW missile), and our top-tier anti-tank weapon. It makes Russia very uncomfortable with the idea that we are sending top-shelf goods to fight a proxy war on their front porch, Ukraine Now Has America's Javelin Missile and Russia Isn't Happy.
posted by peeedro at 10:05 AM on September 25 [7 favorites]


the room erupted in laughter.

If I read the tweet correctly, this is what was shared in the House Democrat meeting.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:09 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


What Is CrowdStrike and Why Is Donald Trump Blabbering About It to Ukraine

Neither of those questions are actually answered, but we do get stuff like:
How Trump managed to remember the name "CrowdStrike," which is mentioned only four times in the Mueller report, each in footnotes, is anyone's guess. And honestly, who knows what the fuck Trump is actually trying to say here. It’s unclear why he believes Ukraine has “the server,” and what server he is even talking about. Presumably, Trump is referring to the DNC server that’s at the center of a conspiracy theory completely made up by Trump’s imagination, though perhaps he's thinking of Hillary Clinton's private email server.
But it's a super weird detail in the not-a-transcript: "they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it." Trump has a history going back to 2017 of somehow insisting CrowdStrike is owned by a rich Ukrainian, and Trump's email server fixation never ends. I'm open to the possibility it's just entirely nonsensical, but it feels like there's something more to this, even as it's gibberish.
posted by zachlipton at 10:11 AM on September 25 [17 favorites]


Impeaching the president, explained; Andrew Prokop, Vox
The history and logistics of trying to remove a president from office.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:12 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Like all of you, I keep thinking about why they'd release these notes on the call... the only reason I can think of is that they differ substantially from what's in the whistleblower complaint. That way, they can say, "See, we were transparent to the point of looking bad, so that complaint is clearly just some made-up Deep State conspiracy."

Other that that, I got nothing.
posted by martin q blank at 10:25 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


@SenatePress: The #Senate agreed to S.J. Res. 54, to terminate the president's emergency declaration regarding a border wall, 54-41.

Eleven Republicans voted in favor.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:26 AM on September 25 [47 favorites]


Eleven Republicans voted in favor.

one less than the last time.
posted by Clowder of bats at 10:28 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


"See, we were transparent to the point of looking bad, so that complaint is clearly just some made-up Deep State conspiracy."

I haven't written off the possibility that someone inside the Trump administration recognizes Trump is off his rocker and needs out now, and is pushing out stuff knowing it's damning.

The Deep State...is INSIDE YOUR OWN ADMINISTRATION!!!!!!!!!1!1!
posted by MrGuilt at 10:28 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


No joke: White House just emailed all Dem offices asking to “recall” the talking points email

The House of Representatives today voted along party lines a resolution expressing the sense of the House that there are no takebacks.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:33 AM on September 25 [24 favorites]


So what were the seven other instances where Trump pressured Zelensky on Biden?

That's all from the same call, right?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:36 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments deleted - folks if you need to discuss the meta question of what stuff belongs in what thread etc, please do that in the Metatalk thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:38 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


(Speaking of late-night political comedy, the Colbert audience gave the impeachment announcement a 45-second standing O.
Starts at 1:15.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:51 AM on September 25 [18 favorites]


Senate Republicans split over Trump urging Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden (WaPo)
One Senate Republican, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly, said the transcript’s release was a “huge mistake” that the GOP now has to confront, even as they argue that House Democrats are overreaching with their impeachment effort. [...]

Three Senate GOP aides said Wednesday that their bosses were grousing and frustrated by the White House’s decision and the sense that Republican lawmakers were being forced into the difficult position of defending Trump while contending with what many see as an alarming or at least problematic transcript. [...]

While many Republicans continue to dismiss Democrats’ impeachment efforts, cracks have begun to emerge privately as GOP lawmakers have discussed Trump’s conduct and their party’s political standing — and those fault lines could foreshadow how Senate Republicans ultimately handle a trial, should the House impeach the president, according to several lawmakers and aides.
posted by katra at 11:17 AM on September 25 [7 favorites]


Not sure if this belongs here or in the whistleblower thread, but here's some background on the multiple spellings you may have noticed of the President of Ukraine's last name.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:21 AM on September 25 [7 favorites]


"I am a historian of US foreign policy who has read more documents like this than I can remember ...This is a weird, weird thing to read."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:22 AM on September 25 [25 favorites]


fight a proxy war on their front porch

Russia invaded Ukraine and is sitting on about 20% of their territory. As a sovereign nation doubt Ukraine feels OK about being the "front porch" of their antagonistic neighbour.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:23 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


but here's some background on the multiple spellings you may have noticed of the President of Ukraine's last name.

Short answer: Transliteration is hard and imprecise because there are multiple equally valid ways you can argue it can be done.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:23 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


“If this is the version of events the president’s team thinks is most favorable, he is in very deep jeopardy,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said.

Which also explains why he answers questions in the form of questions!
posted by srboisvert at 11:25 AM on September 25 [23 favorites]


Democrats look to narrow impeachment focus to Trump-Ukraine scandal
House Democrats are coalescing around a strategy to narrow the focus of their impeachment inquiry to President Donald Trump's interactions with Ukraine's leader, an issue that has unified the party in outrage and motivated some Democrats to seek expedited action.

The strategy, described by Democratic lawmakers and aides familiar with the talks, would center on streamlining the consideration of articles of impeachment to focus exclusively on Trump's efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden — a push they say included an implicit threat to withhold military aid to the eastern European country.

Democrats had been focusing their impeachment inquiry effort on emoluments and obstruction of justice. The committees would continue to pursue probes of those issues.
Awesome. Let's put all our eggs in one basket. Wait! Let's just put one egg in the basket.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 AM on September 25 [54 favorites]


they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it

Trump is now using his meeting with Zelensky to expand on this, saying that Clinton's 30,000 deleted personal emails could be in Ukraine and generally relitigating the worst of the 2016 election conspiracy theories. I'd also like to know who asked the question, which was clearly setting this up for him.

Well before Trump even brought up Biden in the call, he brought this up. Does anyone even know where the "Ukraine has the emails" theory comes from or how it got in the President's head?

Maybe answering that question, the email stuff was used as a segue to:
@K8brannen: Trump says he hopes the Ukrainian President gets together with Putin and “does something,” because he knows Putin would really like to. Zelensky’s face: priceless.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 AM on September 25 [11 favorites]


Democrats nooooooo

If you strike gold the first time you use your shovel, that is not a good reason to STOP DIGGING
posted by Gadarene at 11:35 AM on September 25 [43 favorites]


Is Politico considered that reliable? There are no named sources. Almost smells like they're trying to push Dems in that direction.
posted by emjaybee at 11:42 AM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Democrats look to narrow impeachment focus to Trump-Ukraine scandal

Sigh. Between this and the likelihood that the House will go into recess in two days and give Trump two full weeks of unchallenged airtime, it looks like the "shooting themselves in the dick" stage is already underway.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on September 25 [24 favorites]


Washington Post: Pelosi privately urges narrow Trump impeachment probe focused on Ukraine

Sure seems like she really, really, really doesn't want to do this.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:47 AM on September 25 [37 favorites]


Hillary’s Emails, the Holy Grail of our times. People of the future, I hope the right scraps of history survive to convey how deeply stupid this is.
posted by sallybrown at 11:48 AM on September 25 [24 favorites]


Washington Post: Pelosi privately urges narrow Trump impeachment probe focused on Ukraine
“We are going to focus on this particular matter,” he said, noting that the substance of the alleged wrongdoing — urging a foreign leader to intervene to influence an upcoming election — was simple for the public to understand relative to the obstruction-of-justice allegations made by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III or other admissions of wrongdoing.
Jesus Christ! Have hearings on the Mueller report and other stuff and make your goddamn impeachment articles simple to understand.

Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 11:55 AM on September 25 [15 favorites]


WaPo: Acting director of national intelligence threatened to resign if he couldn’t speak freely before Congress

Maguire became DNI last month after the resignations of previous director Daniel Coats and Trump’s refusal to allow the deputy director, Sue Gordon, to step into the senior job.

Since the whistleblower controversy erupted earlier this month, Maguire has been the target of harsh criticism from Democratic lawmakers who accuse him of blocking the complaint from being transmitted to Congress.


So I'm reading this as Maguire covering his own ass, but I can't figure out which side of his ass he thinks is more at risk.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:57 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Hillary’s Emails, the Holy Grail of our times. People of the future, I hope the right scraps of history survive to convey how deeply stupid this is.

And how deeply, deeply misogynist.
posted by Dashy at 11:58 AM on September 25 [31 favorites]


For an indication of where GOP moderates stand on impeachment/Ukraine-gate, PA’s spineless Pat Toomey, a reliable bellweather, issued a new statement: “While the conversation reported in the memorandum relating to alleged Ukrainian corruption and Vice President Biden’s son was inappropriate, it does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.”

On Sunday’s Meet the Press he had gone so far as to waffle, “I don't know the context. I don't know what was said. Look, it is not appropriate for any candidate for federal office, certainly, including a sitting president, to ask for assistance from a foreign country. That's not appropriate. But I don't know that that's what happened here.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:01 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


So I'm reading this as Maguire covering his own ass, but I can't figure out which side of his ass he thinks is more at risk.

MSNBC is going with the headling "DNI threatened to resign if forced to stonewall congress"
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:01 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Will Bunch: Congress, cancel your recess! Speed up Trump’s impeachment. The stakes are too high
Her decision to keep the probe in the hands of six committee chairs who, frankly, have been slow-walking their Trump investigations since January doesn’t seem to match the fierce urgency of now — not with new, shocking revelations coming out every couple of hours.

The longer that Pelosi’s House takes to act on Trump’s out-in-the-open high crimes and misdemeanors, the closer we get toward the actual 2020 election season and a full-blown constitutional crisis. Yet incredibly, Congress — which seemingly just returned from its long summer break — is scheduled to leave Washington again on Friday, for a two-week recess.

Not now, Speaker Pelosi! This won’t win you a popularity contest, but you should be telling your members that they’re not going. Impeachment hearings should start Monday, and Congress needs to hear immediately from Giuliani (who, as a private citizen, should absolutely NOT be covered by claims of executive privilege), from Barr, who has already disgraced the Justice Department by politicizing it, and from other government aides with deep knowledge of the worst presidential scandal in history.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:04 PM on September 25 [19 favorites]


The reason I wonder which side Maguire is trying to shore up is because I can see multiple purposes for planting this story in the media. Maybe he's trying to cover his own ass so he doesn't get in trouble with the House. Alternately, this may be a case of trying to burnish his image as credible and ethical ahead of going in there to spew a bunch of bullshit.

Trump wanted Coats out as DNI and he got that. He didn't want the next person in line to take the job, so he got rid of her. So is this the guy Trump actually wanted? Or someone he settled for?

We cannot expect any Trump appointee to make a show of integrity. If they had any integrity, they wouldn't make the cut as Trump appointees. They wouldn't want the job in the first place. This guy isn't an appointee, specifically, but he was acceptable, so I don't know where that line goes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:09 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


If you wait to impeach until you’re done investigating all the probable crimes, you will never ever finish. It’s a bottomless pit.

If you find something, that’s definitely both illegal and obviously crooked-looking, that you can actually prove, that warrants impeachment, then go with it. That other stuff will still be there later while you keep digging.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:10 PM on September 25 [18 favorites]


Short of a nuclear missile approaching the United States, I can't think of anything that stops Congress from taking their recess. Even in that case, I have no doubt there would be a lot of questions about exactly how long there is until impact and statements about the importance of them going back to their districts to get their constituents' opinions on the missile.

Also, the person who decides whether recess will happen or not doesn't want to be doing any of this, making recess a perfect excuse to stop doing it for a while.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:11 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


WH Press Sec Stephanie Grisham tweeted 9 mins ago that the Wapo reporting on McGuire was "actually not true. And we would have gone on the record to say that if wapo had given us more than six mins (literally) to respond."

Naturally shes being roasted for not addressing these questions at the WH Press Briefings she doesnt hold.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:11 PM on September 25 [14 favorites]


This seems like an important detail from the NYTimes, Trump Asks Ukraine’s Leader to ‘Do Us a Favor’ and Also Urges Inquiry of Biden:
After the whistle-blower raised concerns, the director of national intelligence and the inspector general for the intelligence community each referred the complaint for a possible criminal investigation into the president’s actions, according to a Justice Department official.
That Maguire and IG both separately referred it to the DOJ as a possible criminal act is a new wrinkle.
posted by peeedro at 12:12 PM on September 25 [8 favorites]


Yeah, if Pelosi doesn't cancel the recess, it will be a significant and obvious misstep, given how the media treats Trump's abuse of the news cycle.
posted by Gadarene at 12:12 PM on September 25 [16 favorites]


Or can't the recess just be pushed back a couple weeks so that there's some momentum going?
posted by saturday_morning at 12:16 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


That other stuff will still be there later while you keep digging.

I think there's only one shot at impeachment. If they only impeach him for the Ukraine stuff on a quick timetable and the Senate doesn't remove him, any future moves towards impeachment will look like they're just out to get him.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:17 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


I like how one of the Republican talking points from that email was supposed to be that Trump didn't mention Giuliani or Biden until Zelensky brought up Giuliani. Which is technically true (or at least consistent with the memorandum). See what they did there?

"My client didn't mention the day's nice weather or the arson plot until the other party commented on the weather."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:20 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


Useful, from TPM: A Definitive Timeline Of The Trump-Ukraine Story
posted by monospace at 12:24 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Theyre already saying that this impeachment is just Dems out to get him, so im not so sure being more worried about that in future scenarios matters a ton - imagine they get his taxes and there is something tangibly tying his finances to russians, and then they impeach on the charge of lying to the american people all those times he said he had no business in russia.

In other news Kevin Baron is reporting that Joseph Maguire, Acting DNI, will testify about the whistleblower complain in front of the house intel committee in an open hearing, tomorrow at 9. . . and the complain is supposed to reach congress in the next half hour.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:25 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Also useful from TPM, A Lot Worse Than We’d Heard [subscription only, but I'll briefly excerpt the two bits I consider significant] (the other parts are that Barr is implicated and that Trump attacks the former Ambassador to Ukraine):
2. Trump also presses Zelensky to vindicate a conspiracy theory tied to the murder of Seth Rich and claims it was not actually Russian intelligence that had broken into the DNC servers. For years in far-right media there have been claims that the accusations against Russia were false in part because the FBI had never been allowed to examine the DNC servers. Trump tells Zelensky that he needs him to find the servers and get to the bottom of what happened to them and suggests they are somewhere in Ukraine.
...
4. The transcript actually does pretty clearly suggest a quid pro quo. Immediately after Zelensky asks for the release of military aid, Trump replies: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” He then goes on to talk about finding the DNC server and investigating the Bidens.
The DNC server conspiracy theory thing, which Trump brought up again today in person, is enormous. Trump is, once again, casting doubt on what Mueller documented, in exhausting detail, about the hacks and Russia's responsibility for them, and he's repeatedly asking that an ally obtain evidence for him to support these conspiracies, as Zelensky scratches his head and struggles to know why he's supposed to be providing evidence to exonerate Russia.

As we find out more, I think there's a question whether this Ukraine scandal (which still really needs a catchy name to achieve true iconic status) was really an outgrowth of the Russia scandal all along.
posted by zachlipton at 12:36 PM on September 25 [26 favorites]


Soooo...Let’s jump ahead a bit and pretend that the House passes articles of impeachment to the Senate, hell becomes a skating rink and the Senate convicts Trump. Question...Who, exactly, is tasked with physically removing Trump from the White House? Some random Justice dept. team? Barr himself?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:39 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


In the event we see the Senate convict Trump, I'm sure President* Pence would be overjoyed to order the Capitol Police and/or Secret Service to drag Trump out of the Oval.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:41 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Who, exactly, is tasked with physically removing Trump from the White House?

I volunteer.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:43 PM on September 25 [38 favorites]


Does Walter Audisio have any descendants living in the US? I recommend them.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:45 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


I suppose the Secret Service leads him out and drives him to Trump Tower.
posted by all about eevee at 12:45 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Just say you're taking him to Mar-a-Lago and then leave him there.
posted by emjaybee at 12:53 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Man, I've been working all day and all the crazy drops at once. The only reason I can see for them dropping something this damning is their hope that the House rolls with just this and kicks impeachment hearings out the door, which (and I know this is not a popular viewpoint here) I hope they don't do.

Hear me out on this: in the Nixon hearings a long incubation period got word of his flagrant misdeeds from the House to the public, and public opinion was important to which way Senators felt comfortable jumping (yes, I know they never actually got a chance to do so). I'm worried that urgently drafted Articles go to a Senate who don't realize how their constituents feel --- or that their constituents won't have had a chance to even develop an informed opinion. I think a lot more Senators feel they can't give cover to this than used to, but I hope the House digs deep and keeps hearings in the news instead of handing off this hot potato.
posted by jackbishop at 12:53 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Trump will tweet 48494 times that he refuses to go and then sneak out in the middle of the night, requiring no police involvement.
posted by sallybrown at 12:54 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


[Gentle nudge, please let's not run away with the "what will happen in the distant future" jokey hypotheticals; we have a long ways to go.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:56 PM on September 25 [17 favorites]


Politico: Who supports impeachment? (Last updated 9/25/19)
215 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

20 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

The only independent in Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supports impeachment.
posted by katra at 12:59 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


"I am a historian of US foreign policy who has read more documents like this than I can remember ...This is a weird, weird thing to read."

Brad Simpson @bradleyrsimpson·
3h
9/9 The few paragraphs referring to Barr, Giuliani, Biden, etc. are, from a historian's perspective, very, very clear in their meaning. Take 100 historians, and 99 will see this document in the same way, even if we interpret it with great caution. This is very, very damning.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:02 PM on September 25 [16 favorites]


This is the classic method of removing a corrupt politician. (YT)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:09 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


This is the classic method of removing a corrupt politician. (YT)

Surely you meant to link defenestration.
posted by gurple at 1:20 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


I will always remember where I was when the word reached me that Speaker Pelosi was going for impeachment I was at the Democratic Party booth at our fair. An Angry White Male came and pretty much threatened us with violence. He said some nasty stuff about Speaker Pelosi too.
I said ‘ Look Mister, That’s Secret Service Talk... that’s FBI talk’ . Maybe it’s the dust I have been breathing combined with my San Francisco accent. I probably sound like Speaker Pelosi right now.
He ran off.
So I checked the Internet, and l knew why this guy was so spitting mad.
The normal Republicans at their booth are probably just as mad. We’ve all been hopping mad for three years...
We’ve all managed to stay civil for the fair, even to exchanging gifts of cookies, cheese cake, cinnamon rolls and donuts. Just sold a Vietnam Navy vet some raffle tickets, so there is that :)
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:33 PM on September 25 [23 favorites]


Who, exactly, is tasked with physically removing Trump from the White House?

I think it would be the Secret Service, since they deal with both counterfeits and presidents.
posted by swift at 1:34 PM on September 25 [47 favorites]


MSNBC was broadcasting Trump's live statement about impeachment, but has started allowing the sidebar panel to speak over him to explain how everything he's saying is a lie. Is that a first for American broadcasting?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:38 PM on September 25 [21 favorites]




215 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

And now the count is up to 216, or 217 with Amash. Just one more and then the full House will be able to vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry. (There are 19 remaining Dem holdouts.)
posted by mbrubeck at 1:43 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


2. Trump also presses Zelensky to vindicate a conspiracy theory tied to the murder of Seth Rich and claims it was not actually Russian intelligence that had broken into the DNC servers. For years in far-right media there have been claims that the accusations against Russia were false in part because the FBI had never been allowed to examine the DNC servers. Trump tells Zelensky that he needs him to find the servers and get to the bottom of what happened to them and suggests they are somewhere in Ukraine.

This is why #Crowdstrike is trending amongst the Q-berts. Kurt Eichenwald's take (click for tweetthread):

This has nothing to do with Clinton server. It is far worse.

Trump is trying to conduct his own intel inquiry to challenge CIA conclusion that Russia hacked DNC... and in doing so, he is trying to get evidence that is linked to Roger Stone's fight to prove Russia did not hack the DNC.

posted by delfin at 1:44 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


> MSNBC was broadcasting Trump's live statement about impeachment, but has started allowing the sidebar panel to speak over him to explain how everything he's saying is a lie. Is that a first for American broadcasting?

Nah, sadly I've seen that many times. His garbage is too much for them to take in more than small doses so they just go back to the panel or whatever and monitor trump for any major "points" they can talk about.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:44 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Did Trump Just Impeach Himself? (Politico Magazine)
Eight legal experts on whether the president’s phone call with the Ukrainian president was an abuse of power—and if not, what the House would need to learn to arrive at an answer.
The White House memo reconstructing a July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky landed on the internet on Wednesday like a dress that is either clearly blue and black or clearly white and gold, depending on the viewer.
posted by katra at 1:45 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


Did Trump Just Impeach Himself?

Self-impeachment complete, folks. Pack it in, back to brunch
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:48 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


What's a better strategy with respect to public opinion?

1) Here are many, many things that each alone demonstrate that Trump is manifestly unfit for this office. Here are hearings after hearings uncovering crime after crime and lie after lie, all televised consecutively so that we control the news cycle from here until Election Day, if necessary. Here is all of the evidence of their obstruction and disregard for the rule of law, unfolding before your very eyes, on topics ranging from personal enrichment to putting the interests of foreign powers above those of the US to trying to get other countries to interfere in our election on his behalf (to etc., to etc.). We will show you overwhelming evidence of all of these things and then we will vote to impeach.

2) Here is one thing that just happened that we think demonstrates that Trump is unfit for office. We will vote to impeach on that one thing and, if the Senate refuses to convict, we will find something else that happened before the first thing and consider the possibility of opening up additional proceedings to weigh impeaching him on that instead. Oh, and we'll recess for two weeks first.

I mean...

What is the Democratic leadership even doing
posted by Gadarene at 1:49 PM on September 25 [23 favorites]


He's just rambling about his walls with extremely low energy.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:49 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


This article from May 2018 seems like important context for what it's going on now.

Andrew Kramer, NYT, 5/2/18:

"Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation"
In the United States, Paul J. Manafort is facing prosecution on charges of money laundering and financial fraud stemming from his decade of work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

But in Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say.

The decision to halt the investigations by an anticorruption prosecutor was handed down at a delicate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump administration was finalizing plans to sell the country sophisticated anti-tank missiles, called Javelins.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:54 PM on September 25 [33 favorites]


215 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

My useless blue dog Representative Ed Case doesn't support impeachment, per se. According to a weasel-y email he sent out today, he supports "the process" to get to the truth. I think it was meant to be a Schrodinger's email where the readers might believe he does or does not support impeachment based on how they themselves feel. Our even worse Representative Gabbard still doesn't support impeachment because she frets it will be "divisive." Profiles in courage, both.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:55 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Dem leadership is reacting to the reality that public support for impeachment dropped after the release of the Mueller report, that support for impeachment has been underwater since 2017.

The Ukraine debacle is pretty clear cut and easy to understand, but it's still something of a crapshoot whether impeachment will mobilize republicans more than it does democrats.
posted by factory123 at 1:59 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


I don't want to be too greedy...but can we expect the intelligence committees to present the whistleblower report/the report to leak sometime in the next hour, or at least today?
posted by facehugger at 2:00 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


What's a better strategy with respect to public opinion?

Honestly, the second one. One punchy, easy-to-understand, soundbiteable, accusation. This is the terrible thing this guy is guilty of. Piling everything else on would require EVERY issue to be a home run in itself or else it would just come off as a long laundry list of grievances, which I'm sure nearly everyone is already tired of.
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:01 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


Dem leadership is reacting to the reality that public support for impeachment dropped after the release of the Mueller report, that support for impeachment has been underwater since 2017.

Public support was under 20% when impeachment hearings against Nixon began, we're at something like 40% now.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:03 PM on September 25 [22 favorites]


That's true, but Nixon didn't have Fox News.
posted by factory123 at 2:06 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


And now the count is up to 216, or 217 with Amash. Just one more and then the full House will be able to vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry.

Just to repeat, there is no such thing as a formal authorization for an impeachment inquiry. It is not necessary for the House to vote to proceed with an inquiry. The House has an option to vote on a resolution declaring their intent to do so, but it is entirely unnecessary. A resolution declaring intent, on any subject, is merely expressing an opinion. It is legally non-binding. The House will often vote on a resolution to express their approval or disapproval of various policies but it has no legal effect. It is usually used for political public relations purposes.

Pelosi has told various committees to proceed with their impeachment inquiries and to forward their proposed articles of impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. That is all that is necessary to proceed with impeachment.
posted by JackFlash at 2:06 PM on September 25 [12 favorites]


What's a better strategy with respect to public opinion?

The problem with "here's a million things terrible things Trump did" is Trump supports can pick a handful that they don't think are terrible or have weaker evidence, refute those, and consider the whole thing settled.
posted by aubilenon at 2:09 PM on September 25 [12 favorites]


Kevin Poulsen wraps up the Crowdstrike thing with the context that only makes sense if you swim in right-wing conspiracies: The Truth About Trump’s Insane Ukraine ‘Server’ Conspiracy: Trump asked Ukraine’s president to help prove a bonkers, Russia-friendly conspiracy theory that U.S. intel relied on manufactured evidence to blame the 2016 DNC hack on Moscow.
To those not versed in fringe-right canon it’s a curious thing to say. “It almost sounds like he was babbling to the president of Ukraine,” said Robert Johnston, CEO of Adlumin, who led the DNC breach investigation while at Crowdstrike. “I imagine it would have confused the Ukranian president. Like, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Conservative websites are spinning the odd exchange as a reference to a Justice Department investigation ordered by William Barr into the origins of the Mueller probe. “It is unclear specifically what Trump was referring to with Crowdstrike,” reads one article in this vein on The Federalist. In truth, it’s actually quite clear. Trump is referencing a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian trolls and far-right pundits that imagines the Democratic National Committee fabricating all the evidence in Russia’s 2016 breach of the DNC network.
...
Today the secret server hoax is mostly confined to the very edge of the conservative fringe, though it’s made an appearance in court. Indicted former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone has been using the theory to try and get evidence against him thrown out of court, even filing an affidavit written by William Binney, one of the conspiracy theory’s most dogged advocates. Last week the federal judge overseeing Stone’s obstruction of justice case rejected his motion without ruling on the conspiracy theory itself.
An important thing here is that Trump is clearly not pandering to a base here; he believes the fringe conspiracy theories enough to bring them up on a private call with a foreign leader and ask for help proving them and disregards the exhaustive conclusions of the Mueller report, which all but identifies what the hackers were snacking on. To call up Ukraine's leader and ask for help exonerating Russia is itself a giant scandal.
posted by zachlipton at 2:09 PM on September 25 [34 favorites]


it's still something of a crapshoot whether impeachment will mobilize republicans more than it does democrats.

Republicans are already mobilized and have been so for every election since at least the 80s. They've gotten where they are by squeezing every single vote out of a demographic that's been shrinking for decades (well, that and by limiting the number of people outside their key demographics that are able to vote). In this case, virtually every reachable Republican voter already thinks that poor Trump is being subjected to brutal mistreatment and already considers "People Being Mean to Donald Trump" to be, by itself, an overwhelming motivation to action. If it's not impeachment, it will be some other thing that is presented as a motivator, because they will always find something (see: Kavanaugh, her e-mails, John Kerry's Purple Hearts, Reverend Wright, you name it). In general, Democrats could stand to worry less about what mobilizes Republicans and a lot more about what mobilizes Democrats, and put a lot more effort into trying to achieve the latter, because from where I'm standing they've done a really terrible job on that front for pretty much my entire adult life.
posted by Copronymus at 2:10 PM on September 25 [75 favorites]


Honestly, the second one. One punchy, easy-to-understand, soundbiteable, accusation. This is the terrible thing this guy is guilty of. Piling everything else on would require EVERY issue to be a home run in itself or else it would just come off as a long laundry list of grievances, which I'm sure nearly everyone is already tired of.

I, respectfully, strongly disagree. And I think you'd be surprised at how few Americans have actually heard the details of that laundry list of grievances, given the Democrats' generally feckless messaging and a structurally flawed institutional media.

By the way, I'd also point out that approach #1 is much more likely to implicate other Republican leadership in corruption, illegality, and lies as well. Just look at how many people are already directly implicated in the Ukraine thing (Pompeo, Barr, Giuliani, Pence, Mulvaney...). We could actually clean house. Imagine pulling in McConnell's Russian improprieties. We're not going to be able to do that if we keep the focus narrow when we know that there are sooooooo many cesspits out there that lights can be shone on.
posted by Gadarene at 2:11 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


Frank Bruni has, as usual, an interesting and comprehensively considered take:

Why a Trump Impeachment Should Terrify You
posted by armoir from antproof case at 2:11 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


Apparently a Romney aide is floating the idea that if you could vote anonymously to impeach in the Senate (which is apparently a rule they could make) 30 Republicans would vote to impeach.

I'm intrigued but skeptical.

Earlier today, I also heard something I haven't seen addressed here; an MSNBC commentator said, what if the House moved to impeach and Moscow Mitch just...didn't let a trial happen? At all?

I mean, it worked for the Supreme Court. Why wouldn't he try again?
posted by emjaybee at 2:12 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


one of the Republican talking points from that email was supposed to be that Trump didn't mention Giuliani or Biden until Zelensky brought up Giuliani.

...and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy flubs the talking point and outright states the falsehood which the TP was merely trying to imply.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:12 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


That's true, but Nixon didn't have Fox News

And yet, despite both that and a billion problems with Dem messaging, we're still at double the support.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:13 PM on September 25 [31 favorites]


The other problem with "here's a million terrible things Trump did" is that it's the world we're already living in, with press and public attention flitting from scandal to scandal as news breaks in each one, and never drilling deep enough into any of them to make a real difference in the landscape. It's the Simpsons joke where Mr. Burns has every fatal disease ever discovered and none of them can wedge their way past the others to actually kill him. As much as I want the Democrats to figure out how to get past that bottleneck and make the case for how Trump actually did ALL OF THE STUFF it's entirely rational to decide not to try to solve that Gordian knot and instead go to something that can be hyper-focused on.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:13 PM on September 25 [15 favorites]


The problem with "here's a million things terrible things Trump did" is Trump supports can pick a handful that they don't think are terrible or have weaker evidence, refute those, and consider the whole thing settled.

So we should stop worrying about people who are arguing in bad faith, as almost anyone who does that will be.

And guess what: they're still going to do that if they have only one scandal to defend against. And they'll actually be able to concentrate all of their bad-faith energy on that one front, rather than having to defend him on a dozen different battlefields.
posted by Gadarene at 2:16 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Hyper-focusing on Her Emails seemed pretty effective, if I remember correctly.
posted by theodolite at 2:17 PM on September 25 [14 favorites]


The other problem with "here's a million terrible things Trump did" is that it's the world we're already living in, with press and public attention flitting from scandal to scandal as news breaks in each one, and never drilling deep enough into any of them to make a real difference in the landscape. It's the Simpsons joke where Mr. Burns has every fatal disease ever discovered and none of them can wedge their way past the others to actually kill him. As much as I want the Democrats to figure out how to get past that bottleneck and make the case for how Trump actually did ALL OF THE STUFF it's entirely rational to decide not to try to solve that Gordian knot and instead go to something that can be hyper-focused on.

I'll stop threadsitting now, but: that's what endless hearings and control of the news cycle are for. People don't pay attention until they start paying attention, and we can actually keep them paying attention enough for the heuristics to bake in, if we try.
posted by Gadarene at 2:18 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


Jpfed: If I got a transcript like the Trump-Ukraine call in a regular criminal case for bribery or extortion, I’d think, “Wow, I’m surprised they’re discussing this so openly and clearly.”

“I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

OK, that's Trump saying the press would make a big deal of Her Emails. On July 27, 2016. At a Trump press conference in Florida.

gucci mane: Ppl here are forgetting that Don Jr released an email chain showing that they were expecting dirt on Hillary as part of Putin’s support for his father and nothing happened.

But that was behind closed doors. And it wasn't tied directly to Trump himself.

Yeah -- he's totally gotten away with these calls for dirt on Hillary. Now he's president, and he's gotten away with a lot of other things. So there's no surprise that he's discussing this so openly and clearly, then justifying or (un)clarifying what he said or meant.


factory123: it's still something of a crapshoot whether impeachment will mobilize republicans more than it does democrats.

But Independents are the biggest political affiliation, around 40%, vs R and D at ~27% each (Gallup polls table of answers to the question: "In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent?"). You may think this trend is new, but it's not. Historically, this is right about what the polling has shown, back to 2004, with some dips and peaks, with IND lower between 2004-2006.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:20 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


And support for impeachment among independents is 13 points underwater, which is actually a little up from 20 points under following the end of the Mueller investigation.

I mean, I want the guy out, all the folks in my bubble want him out, but the party has to do what's right in the America it's got, not the America it wants.
posted by factory123 at 2:27 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


@Joyce_Karam:
#Trump urged Dems twice to ask for VP Pence’s 📞 with Zelensky.

“I think you should ask for VP Pence’s conversations because he had a couple.”
LOL. I half expect he'll call a press conference to re-enact the pee tape on live TV before the night is over
posted by zombieflanders at 2:28 PM on September 25 [25 favorites]


And support for impeachment among independents is 13 points underwater, which is actually a little up from 20 points under following the end of the Mueller investigation.


I find it pretty impressive if 40% of the largest political affiliation, who definitely aren't Democrats, already think the guy should be impeached, right now, before an inquiry. Before the whole thing is laid out publicly.
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:37 PM on September 25 [8 favorites]


Can Mitch disallow an impeachment vote?
posted by affectionateborg at 2:38 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


[T]he reality is that most independents are not all that “independent” politically.

Basically they are just Democrats and Republicans who shy away from those labels for one random reason or another. (This phenomenon has come in for fairly extensive discussion around here in the past, IIRC.)

Not my field, but from the numbers in the Pew report, it seems like the relative proportions of D and R independents roughly mirror the proportions of out-and-proud Ds and Rs; so AFAICT "impeachment [only] has 40% support among independents" does not provide any new information beyond "impeachment currently has 40% support among voters overall."
posted by shenderson at 2:39 PM on September 25 [17 favorites]


...did Trump just throw Pence under the bus? I need more popcorn if that’s the case.
posted by azpenguin at 2:40 PM on September 25 [8 favorites]


I mean, I want the guy out, all the folks in my bubble want him out, but the party has to do what's right in the America it's got, not the America it wants.

I'm not saying it's the same thing, and I'm definitely not saying that you hold this view, but the sentiment above -- which I've seen in a bunch of places -- sounds a whole lot like "Of course I would vote for a woman as president, but I don't think other people would, so she's not electable."

Why don't we stop assuming from the beginning that our feelings about things like, y'know, whether it's bad for a blatantly corrupt and unwell liar to be president are unrepresentative of the rest of the country? It's like admitting defeat before the starting gun.
posted by Gadarene at 2:42 PM on September 25 [12 favorites]


Can Mitch disallow an impeachment vote?

Technically yes. But if 51 senators were on board they could nuclear option the impeachment through to a trial.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:44 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


what if the House moved to impeach and Moscow Mitch just...didn't let a trial happen? At all?

I feel like this might actually be a decent outcome. Of course, removal is probably the best outcome. But if you assume the Senate will not vote to convict (and at the moment, conviction seems incredibly unlikely), then you have two alternatives: a vote by the Senate not to convict (which will be spun by the GOP as proof of innocence) or a move by McConnell to prevent a vote. The latter makes Trump look much more guilty and the GOP even more corrupt than it already does.

In the context of the 2020 election, the GOP preventing a trial after a successful impeachment in the House seems like a terrible scenario for Republicans. Sure, the actual Trump die-hards are fine with it, but thats not nearly enough people to win.

The kind of traditionally-GOP voters that crossed over in 2018 don't seem like they'd be too excited about that level of coverup. To me it seems much more blatant than the Gorsuch thing (which was already pretty terrible, but was easier for them to spin than just "we're not going to hold a trial").
posted by thefoxgod at 2:44 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


AP has published a behind-the-scenes piece on the Speaker’s decision-making: Pelosi, Trump and impeachment: How the speaker got to ‘yes’
Trump pleaded innocence when he called Pelosi, D-Calif., shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, dashing to deliver his address at the United Nations.

At first he wanted to talk about gun violence legislation. Then the conversation turned to the fallout from a whistleblower’s complaint that he pushed Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a current Democratic presidential candidate.

“You know, I don’t have anything to do with that,’” Trump said about the administration’s refusal to turn over the complaint to Congress.

Pelosi took the call at her apartment in Washington as she was preparing for work. She responded that by withholding the complaint, Trump was asking his acting director of national intelligence to break the law.[…]

Mr. President, she told him, “Undo it.”

With those two words, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered Donald Trump one last chance to avoid becoming only the fourth president in office to face impeachment proceedings .

By then, it was too late.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:48 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


Can Mitch disallow an impeachment vote?

Technically yes. But if 51 senators were on board they could nuclear option the impeachment through to a trial.


I looked into this a few months ago and I think he actually can't -- I believe that in the Senate rules adopted at the start of the congress it's written that the Senate must drop all business and attend to impeachment immediately.
posted by gerryblog at 2:49 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


I never worried too much about the underwater impeachment polling because the same polls have a strong majority who think the president committed crimes. It's not a far stretch to convince people that those crimes need to be punished.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:52 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


While we're talking about the scope of the impeachment inquiries, here's this reminder from HuffPo, "Donald Trump Actually Has 2 Whistleblowers To Worry About":
But there’s another whistleblower ― one with possible evidence that Trump tried to corrupt an Internal Revenue Service audit of his personal tax returns ― who has received relatively little attention.

[...]

In a court brief this week, Ways and Means Democrats repeated that they had evidence from a whistleblower, which they said suggested the regular IRS audit “may not be functioning effectively, in part because of the absence of safeguards to protect IRS employees and the audit process from improper influence.”
Of course, we don't know if this whistleblower's claims are true or substantiated or whatever. But, man oh man. If you want a scandal that's understandable to the average, generally uninterested-in-politics person, this is the one you go to town with. Everyone knows about taxes (or, at least, knows they exist) and everyone should be able to understand how it's bad for a president to be able to rig their own tax audit.
posted by mhum at 2:53 PM on September 25 [23 favorites]


I guess the interpretation of the rules would be a matter for the Parliamentarian and then a majority vote to overrule, so in that sense you would get back to 51 senators can do whatever they want.
posted by gerryblog at 2:54 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


I looked into this a few months ago and I think he actually can't -- I believe that in the Senate rules adopted at the start of the congress it's written that the Senate must drop all business and attend to impeachment immediately.

The Senate can change their rules anytime they can get 51 votes to do so. That is exactly what they did to seat Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court without the previously required supermajority.
posted by JackFlash at 2:56 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Why are people saying it's either Ukraine or a million things?

Here's a list: Ukraine, obstruction of justice, and emoluments. Have televised hearings and for each one:

1. Here's the definition.
2. Here's what Trump did.
3. Here's another article of impeachment.

Get legal experts that are charismatic and good at explaining things. Make the case and put it on TV.

Also, saying the polls don't support impeachment now before the case has been made is pretty defeatist.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:09 PM on September 25 [42 favorites]


Most independents are just moderate partisans
Pew Research Center published an expansive look at political independents [on March 14], and it’s hard not to come to a simple conclusion: Independents are, for the most part, partisans who are disillusioned with the two major parties.

In Pew’s assessment, 38 percent of Americans are independents — but only 7 percent are independents who don’t lean toward one party or the other. That’s been fairly constant over the past two decades.
Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 3:13 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Get legal experts that are charismatic and good at explaining things

I know a charismatic former constitutional law professor that's between jobs.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:17 PM on September 25 [26 favorites]


Why are people saying it's either Ukraine or a million things?

Because reporting today suggests that Congressional Democrats, not least Nancy Pelosi, are increasingly in agreement that impeachment hearings should be limited only to Ukraine.
posted by Gadarene at 3:20 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't someone call out those who want to redirect this story to a Biden scandal by pointing out that if there was real evidence against Biden then Trump would never have had to extort Ukraine in the first place? (mostly rhetorical question)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:27 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


The "transcript" released was at best maybe 10 minutes of a reported 30 minute phone call. Investigators should demand the rest of the phone call. How many other times did Trump mention Biden?
posted by JackFlash at 3:29 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


Why is it that, whenever time is missing from controversial White House recordings, it's approximately the same length as Alice's Restaurant Massacree on vinyl?

Arlo Guthrie did note that someone told him that they found a copy of the album in Nixon's White House...
posted by delfin at 3:34 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


Buzzfeed’s Zoe Tillman: Trump's Own Lawyers Suggested Democrats Would Have a Stronger Case To Get His Records If They Were Pursuing Impeachment
When President Donald Trump's lawyers were in court this summer trying to block a congressional subpoena for Trump's financial records, they argued that House Democrats hadn't given a valid reason for demanding the documents.

It's not like the House was pursuing impeachment, they repeatedly pointed out. That, they argued, would be a very different situation.

Now that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has officially announced that House Democrats are, in fact, pursuing an impeachment investigation, Trump’s argument will likely be a tougher sell with judges — and Democrats could try to use it against him. Trump's lawyers didn't outright concede that Democrats could lawfully subpoena Trump's records if it was part of an impeachment inquiry, but they suggested it might be a closer call.[…]

Impeachment, Trump's lawyers wrote, was "a weighty constitutional matter with grave political ramifications." They tried to distinguish between the congressional investigations into Nixon and Clinton — which "quickly morphed into impeachment proceedings," they noted — and the congressional investigations into Trump at the time.

Trump’s lead attorney, William Consovoy, declined to comment.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:36 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


May we please just invoke the 25th amendment, as it appears he's not competent to govern? "[A]nd Nancy Pelosi as far as I'm concerned, unfortunately she's no longer Speaker of the House." (start at about 16:23 into the clip, sorry, don't know how to bookmark it.) Not a constitutional scholar, but I don't believe the president has anything to do with that.
posted by a person of few words at 3:37 PM on September 25 [8 favorites]


The 25th amendment process for removal starts with the VP and Cabinet. So unless you've got Pence onboard, that won't be happening.

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

There is no way to invoke that section of the amendment without the VP.
posted by thefoxgod at 3:40 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


There is no way to invoke that section of the amendment without the VP.

Well, Trump did just try to knife Pence a few hours ago, so all bets are off.
posted by gerryblog at 3:43 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


I was just thinking, hosting the Taliban (as Trump planned to do) would have been, quite literally, providing comfort to the enemy. Unless they stayed at a Trump hotel.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:47 PM on September 25 [8 favorites]


I had a quick look into the fetid comments of a right-wing blog here in New Zealand on this. Massive own-goal by Biden apparently. The transcript will reveal the truth and Biden will be sucker-punched into oblivion by either the cunning of Trump, or the clever false-flag of Warren. Take your pick.

Well these are probably just the same crowd who predicted that the Murller investigation would all come to nothing.

Which... honestly this thread is mueller mania all over again. After everything that Trump has done, this Biden Jr thing is what makes the Dems take action? It will just play as swamp protecting swamp. Does anyone here believe that Biden Jr was earning insane money for sitting on the board of this company because of his skills and qualifications? Or is that just a total irrelevance?
posted by moorooka at 3:50 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


I really really do not want to get my hopes up, like I'm actively vigilant about it, but oh man him trying to throw Pence under the bus makes me wonder about how nervous he is and why, because Trump doesn't even acknowledge Pence's existence except when actively engaged in sucking up to evangelicals so why even mention him like this?

I'm telling myself it's just a tic of his, that throwing others under the bus is like breathing for a serial liar, but wow what a choice to make right now.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:54 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Is this the first new criminal scandal since the Mueller report was released and Mueller testified?
posted by lazugod at 3:56 PM on September 25


The usual sources are stating that OBVIOUSLY Trump did not mean "Nancy Pelosi is no longer the Speaker of the House" when he said "Nancy Pelosi is no longer the Speaker of the House," but rather "AOC and her Squad are the Speakers of the House now because the radical left crazy socialist very-low-IQ America-and-Jew-hating Democrats obviously control the House now, else Pelosi would not be moving forwards with impeachment," and it did not come out that way because Trump had a mouthful of bile and animal fat at the moment that he said it.

Obviously.

After everything that Trump has done, this Biden Jr thing is what makes the Dems take action? It will just play as swamp protecting swamp. Does anyone here believe that Biden Jr was earning insane money for sitting on the board of this company because of his skills and qualifications? Or is that just a total irrelevance?

Frankly, I have no idea how deep either Biden may be in international intrigue and dirty money. Would it shock me at all if Hunter Biden was using his father's influence for monetary gain? Not particularly. In a not-quite-as-insane world, I would probably welcome inquiries into such even if it's simply to demonstrate emphatically that nothing untoward did happen.

But this is something of a perfect storm situation for the Dems. It is:
(a) happening in real time. The whistleblower allegations came out and Trump's not-a-transcript quickly followed in the same news cycle. Unlike l'affaire Mueller, we're not waiting a year and a half for more than crumbs and speculation.

(b) happening in plain sight. Trump and Rudy have essentially leaped right past the denial stage and jumped with both feet into "of course we admit that we did it, because there was nothing wrong with what we did." Which suggests to me that there is tangible evidence that isn't buried meters deep in classification issues and wiretapping and is-this-source-truly-credible-ism. And I find it hard to believe that Pelosi would move forward if there wasn't a gun that is at least warm and surrounded by a haze, if not visibly smoking.

(c) straightforward enough for Everybody's Uncle Frank to grasp. It's open bribery and blackmail for personal and political gain. It's mean-spirited. It's aimed squarely at one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. It's OBVIOUS tampering with an election instead of simply alleged tampering.

(d) happening NOW. So that they can try to get something on the table -- or not -- BEFORE the 2020 primaries kick off.

So they're rolling with it because they can't afford not to now.
posted by delfin at 4:07 PM on September 25 [17 favorites]


May we please just invoke the 25th amendment, as it appears he's not competent to govern?

dedicating myself to squashing misinformation about the 25th amendment

Besides the fact that the 25th would require consent of a majority Trump's cabinet (not very likely), all that has to happen for Trump to undo the 25th is his he has to write a letter to Congress saying, "I'm here with my big beautiful brain, a young vibrant man, the most, we're seeing it more and more, biggest President", and he's President again, and overriding that requires the exact same vote as would be required for impeachment.
posted by dis_integration at 4:10 PM on September 25 [18 favorites]


Frankly, I have no idea how deep either Biden may be in international intrigue and dirty money. Would it shock me at all if Hunter Biden was using his father's influence for monetary gain? Not particularly. In a not-quite-as-insane world, I would probably welcome inquiries into such even if it's simply to demonstrate emphatically that nothing untoward did happen.

But in the context of Joe's actions, he pressured them to replace an - at best - lax prosecutor with one more likely to investigate stuff involving his son. That's the biggest thing getting lost in all the media reporting on this imo, it's like if Trump got rid of Barr and replaced him with Mueller.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:12 PM on September 25 [24 favorites]


Yeah, the override needs a 2/3 vote of both houses, so it's actually harder than impeachment and conviction is (since impeachment only needs a majority, so you don't need 2/3 of the house which would be tricky as well).
posted by thefoxgod at 4:12 PM on September 25


The "who supports impeachment and/or an impeachment inquiry" counter has now reached 218 reps (including Amash), a majority of the House. That link has an interactive timeline and tools to find your rep.
posted by zachlipton at 4:16 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


I'm telling myself it's just a tic of his, that throwing others under the bus is like breathing for a serial liar, but wow what a choice to make right now.

I'm tempted to read that as "If I go down, Pence is going down too, so if any Republicans were thinking of impeaching/convicting me in hopes of getting President Pence, you can forget about it."

However, that would require him to understand that there are Republicans who would rather have President Pence than President Trump, and I'm not sure his narcissistic mind is capable of that thought.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:18 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


The House would have to open an impeachment inquiry on Pence, though. It doesn't just happen because Donnie narc's him out.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 4:19 PM on September 25


It's telling Republicans that if Pence goes down with me, you get President Pelosi.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:20 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


Way I see it, Trump, Barr and Kavanaugh all should be impeached and Giuliani indicted as co-conspirator and all tried in a suitable arena while wearing Bozo wigs and clown clothes and forced to climb out a chrome yellow 1962 VW Beetle. In a just world...
posted by y2karl at 4:36 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


Tracking 30 Investigations Related to Trump

There are currently 12 congressional (and 10 federal criminal investigations) into Trump. The article has easily-understood summaries of each one. So that should be at least a couple of potential impeachment counts.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:50 PM on September 25 [23 favorites]


Impeaching Trump On Russia Was Unpopular. Will Ukraine Be Different? (Nate Silver, Five Thirty Eight)
What Democrats can learn from public opinion on the Russia investigation.

Lesson No. 1: Be narrow and specific, perhaps with a near-exclusive focus on Ukraine. [...]
Lesson No. 2: Don’t overpromise on details unless you can deliver. [...]
Lesson No. 3: Emphasize the threats to election integrity. [...]
Lesson No. 4: Stay unified. [...]
Lesson No. 5: Work quickly and urgently. [...]
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:58 PM on September 25 [16 favorites]


But in the context of Joe's actions, he pressured them to replace an - at best - lax prosecutor with one more likely to investigate stuff involving his son. That's the biggest thing getting lost in all the media reporting on this imo, it's like if Trump got rid of Barr and replaced him with Mueller.

Hunter Biden’s Ukraine job was pure unadulterated nepotism, and the fact that Joe Biden didn’t personally enrich himself from his office but rather enriched his family members doesn’t make it any less corrupt. Almost a million dollars for doing nothing but having a surname? It’s astonishing to me how unquestioned the assumption is that the non-MSNBC-viewing US public will take Biden’s side on this. Nobody but the most tragic mueller nerds will know or care anything about the convoluted details, the takeaway will be Biden’s corrupt family. If the shoe were on the other foot and it was a Democratic President talking about investigating some Republican Veep’s nepotism then this thread would be a mirror image of itself.
posted by moorooka at 5:10 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


I'd be happy to say goodbye to Trump and Biden tbh.
posted by PistachioRoux at 5:13 PM on September 25 [50 favorites]


a chrome yellow 1962 VW Beetle.

I believe that the '60s Renault Dauphine or Fiat 500 are more traditional and appropriate Clown Cars. The Beetle was a competent vehicle, so not as funny.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:16 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Hunter Biden’s Ukraine job was pure unadulterated nepotism, and the fact that Joe Biden didn’t personally enrich himself from his office but rather enriched his family members doesn’t make it any less corrupt.

There is a HUGE difference between a Presidential family member trading on his name for a plush job (what happened here, IMO) and an elected official using the powers of his office to interfere with a foreign nation’s government in order to protect his family member (what Trump is alleging Biden did). They are not even comparable.
posted by sallybrown at 5:17 PM on September 25 [82 favorites]


If the shoe were on the other foot and it was a Democratic President talking about investigating some Republican Veep’s nepotism the this thread would be a mirror image of itself.

Again, Trump's own words are that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden, not Hunter, because he supposedly "stopped the investigation" into the company. This is the exact opposite of what happened; he encouraged the investigation and pushed for the prosecutor who blocked it to be fired. Can we not play the "if things were different, they wouldn't be the same" bullshit?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:18 PM on September 25 [41 favorites]


Jeet Heer of The Nation lays out in this article why he thinks the single-issue impeachment idea is a good one.
posted by sallybrown at 5:20 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


I'd be happy to say goodbye to Trump and Biden tbh

And Nate Silver, while we're at it
posted by Gadarene at 5:24 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


There is a HUGE difference between a Presidential family member trading his name for a plush job (what happened here, IMO) and an elected official using the powers of his office to interfere with a foreign nation’s government in order to protect his family member (what Trump is alleging Biden did). They are not even comparable.

These are not comparable to the how-dare-you-sir twitter crowd who still want to pretend that the US is a nation of laws (spoiler alert, it’s not). To the unwashed masses they are quite comparable. Biden gets his useless son a million dollar do-nothing job = corrupt. It perfectly illustrates the proverbial “swamp”. And Trump asking foreign government to look into it is supposed to be... worse? Now I understand that it’s more complex than that. But those complexities will be of no interest to normal people. I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion here. But so was the idea that the Mueller investigation would go nowhere.

What’s most maddening about this is that grounds for impeachment existed from the very beginning of the presidency, under the emolument clause. By trust the Democrats and their brilliant political instincts to wait for something like this instead.
posted by moorooka at 5:29 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


No one on either side is making this about how Hunter Biden got the job. That is obviously not the Democrats' line, but it is also not the Republicans' line. I don't understand who you think is going to be making it about that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:33 PM on September 25 [19 favorites]




Family members of high ranking elected officials trying to trade on their names is a tale as old as time (Carter had one, Clinton had one, the entire Bush family is one). Apparently Biden's brother also tries to get in on the action in his own ways. People from privileged families falling upward or getting their resume looked at just because of their name is not shocking, as much as us normies face palm when we see it. It's only corruption if the family member in government breaches rules or ethics and arranges things specifically so that the the failson or whoever is enriched (or vice versa).
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:43 PM on September 25 [13 favorites]


But those complexities will be of no interest to normal people. I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion here. But so was the idea that the Mueller investigation would go nowhere.

There is such an odd attitude here (and on Twitter) that nothing matters if it didn’t automatically eject Trump from office. The US is no longer a nation of laws? There have been periods of far more lawlessness here than now. Half the country tried to remove itself and we went to war over it (and Lincoln ignored the Constitution in the process). Being the most defeatist is not a sign that you’re the most savvy. We are in the middle of this situation, and proper perspective on how we manage to rid ourselves of Trump, if we can, won’t be available for decades. Because it’s never simple, just like how we got saddled with him in the first place.
posted by sallybrown at 5:44 PM on September 25 [94 favorites]


I was curious why the DOJ didn't persue this further. From CNN :
What the President asked of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky couldn't amount to a quantifiable "thing of value" under campaign finance law, top administration officials determined.

Criminal Division assistant attorney general Brian Benczkowski made the final call, the senior DOJ officials said.

From Wikipedia :
Benczkowski was a member of President Donald Trump's transition team, helping to manage the Justice Department transition.

In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Benczkowski to become Assistant Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division.
posted by PHINC at 5:51 PM on September 25 [15 favorites]


There is such an odd attitude here (and on Twitter) that nothing matters if it didn’t automatically eject Trump from office.

YES! I've been telling everyone I'm glad this is happening for one reason and one reason alone. When people in 20 years are discussing the concept of impeachment, they'll look at something like this list. I just want Donald Trump to be on the list. At least that way the people in 20 years won't be using Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (and Nixon) as their examples of impeachable presidents without mentioning Trump.

It's a tiny step toward sanity and I'll take it.
posted by mmoncur at 5:53 PM on September 25 [35 favorites]


Criminal Division assistant attorney general Brian Benczkowski made the final call, the senior DOJ officials said.

You may recall his name from the earlier reporting that while a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, he represented Alfa Bank.
posted by sallybrown at 6:01 PM on September 25 [20 favorites]


Trump Officials Turn Over Whistle-Blower Complaint as Impeachment Inquiry Begins (NYT)
They do not intend to hold a vote on the House floor to authorize the proceedings, as has been done in the past, lawmakers and senior party officials said, because they do not believe it is necessary. [...]

As they debated how best to structure the inquiry, lawmakers made headway in obtaining documentary evidence that could constitute a crucial piece of their case. Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine are at least part of the whistle-blower complaint, which the Trump administration had withheld from Congress until Wednesday afternoon and which is said to contain a detailed account of the president’s attempts to pressure a foreign power for personal political gain.

Democrats plan to make those interactions the top priority of their impeachment case, senior lawmakers and aides familiar with the speaker’s thinking said. They emphasized again and again what Ms. Pelosi has called the president’s “betrayal” of his oath, of national security and of the American electoral process. [...]

For now at least, Democrats do not intend to limit their inquiry to the Ukraine episode. They are planning to consider other matters they have been investigating as possible impeachable offenses, including the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections and Mr. Trump’s attempts to derail that inquiry. Each could still form the substance of separate articles of impeachment for consideration by the House.

But during a meeting with members of her leadership team, the speaker initiated a discussion about whether Democrats should limit their case strictly to the Ukraine matter and attempts by Mr. Trump and his administration to keep it from Congress, people familiar with the conversation said. An aide to Ms. Pelosi cautioned that no final decisions had been made.
posted by katra at 6:05 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


So they’re trying to setup Rudy as the fall guy and he gets up on national tv and proceeds to throw Pompeo under the bus. They have to slow down this cavalcade of back stabbing because I’m just so full of schadenfreude that I can’t eat another bite.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:06 PM on September 25 [46 favorites]


No one on either side is making this about how Hunter Biden got the job.

Give it a few days.
posted by This time is different. at 6:16 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


There is no omertá and no loyalty in Trumpland. There is just a bunch of wanna-be tough guy grifters rushing to save their own skins. Top. Men., indeed. The Best People, etc. I'm sure it does not help that both Trump and Giuliani are not, shall we say, possessed of sharp, non-demented minds.

And I agree with Sallybrown: we're really not in a period of unusual lawlessness and corruption. Not just the Civil War, but the period leading up to it: Bleeding Kansas, the string of mediocre-to-awful Presidents preceding Lincoln, the Dred Scott decision and Fugitive Slave Act...and then afterwards we had Andrew Johnson and later the Gilded Age and its attendant corruption. Pessimists love to say "We've never been in such dreadful times!" but we have been in far worse.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:17 PM on September 25 [43 favorites]


So they’re trying to setup Rudy as the fall guy and he gets up on national tv and proceeds to throw Pompeo under the bus. They have to slow down this cavalcade of back stabbing because I’m just so full of schadenfreude that I can’t eat another bite.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock


So much this. And I'm really hoping that Trump's call out to have Pence's transcripts from conversations with Ukraine released is one more bit of backstabbing. Oh, that would be delicious.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:23 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


No one on either side is making this about how Hunter Biden got the job.

I caught a little satellite radio talk show earlier, one that's relatively center-to-left. Literally the first caller when I tuned in was someone pushing hard about how this is all really about how Hunter Biden got the job and how if Biden hadn't been corrupt none of this would have happened so the real story is Biden and ...

Yeah.

"The real story is Hunter Biden" is already the play, and will continue to be (part of) the play, by the right.
posted by tocts at 6:30 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
posted by kirkaracha at 6:31 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


Ugh gross need shower. Only managed to get through half this Vox primer on Giuliani.
posted by Glinn at 6:35 PM on September 25


@PreetBharara
“I did not have transactional relations with that man, Mr. Zelensky.”
posted by bluesky43 at 6:36 PM on September 25 [28 favorites]


The question that popped into my mind today was what effect does this level of stress have on someone with developing dementia?  Does it make it worse, does it have no effect?  I have no idea myself, but there are already plenty of video examples of Trump dragging his right foot when he walks and he's also beginning to shuffle, and photos where the drape of his suit strongly implies they've already got him in a brace to help his balance.  If you manage to track down live footage of him that's not been edited to imply coherence, it's shocking how badly his ability to speak off the cuff has degraded.

It feels like the media is avoiding confronting it directly, but I have to wonder if he's going to be in any sort of mental shape in a few months to even face consequences.  I already strongly suspect the chances of him actually being on the ticket are next to zero.   Seriously, seeing his decline day by day blinds us to how far he's fallen in a short amount of time.  He's a shell already.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:44 PM on September 25 [15 favorites]


Dementia or nonspecific "illness" certainly provides a convenient reason to resign, but at the same time he constantly boasts of his own strength and health so how do you get him to go along with that?
posted by emjaybee at 6:53 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


My Dad has early stage Lewy body dementia, so I am learning a lot about it. It is uneven in progress and there are better times amid the overall decline. But certainly it doesn't help to be stressed, and in particular, there is a weird passivity and indecision that manifests. If that were the Trump diagnosis then I would expect more tactical flailing degenerating into decision paralysis at which point other people will have to handle him, probably Ivanka.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:53 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


I could very well be wrong, I often am, but I don't see the Hunter Biden thing having legs. How does any kid of a rich and powerful person get a job? How does anyone in the upper echelons of society get a job? Water is wet and the sky is blue and name dropping and connections rule that world and it sucks but we all know it happens and Joe wouldn't have had to lift a finger or even be aware of Hunter going for the job, Hunter's name would get his foot in the door. And it's pervasive in all levels of society, the mayor's kid does it, your boss probably did it, the idiot kid of the local car dealership chain does it, and an awful lot of middle America would jump at the chance to do it. It's awful but it's the same awful as the system that makes Trumps.

Anyway, Donald Trump's daddy handed him money that he pissed away and Joe Biden was part of a multilateral international effort to put a prosecutor in place who would give Hunter more legal scrutiny, and Joe Biden won't be dismissed out of sexist bullshit and two decades of Clinton Derangement Syndrome if he hits back on this and it's actually an appropriate setting for once for cranky old Joe Biden to use his indignant fighting tone, so it's not seeming like a huge vulnerability. And it won't change one mind or vote towards Trump. Probably comes out a wash.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:56 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]




"The real story is Hunter Biden" is already the play, and will continue to be (part of) the play, by the right.

It's not just Trump, Republicans, or the right who want to see the Biden family reduced, is the thing.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:04 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


Here's the Hunter Biden angle being promoted on the left, by a TYT affiliate, citing The Intercept, and approvingly supported by Matt Bruenig.
posted by factory123 at 7:07 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Weirdly I can very much see Dem voters making a full throated defense of Biden and at the same time getting cold feet because they think everyone else is going to find Biden vulnerable and they should hedge their bets, and it will still lose him the primary.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:09 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


It's almost like that "electability" thing cuts both ways.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:20 PM on September 25 [10 favorites]


I love Joe Biden, but if beyond today he makes no further contribution to our democracy than to be the banana peel on which this idiot president falls, I will consider him having served as well as any patriot that ever sacrificed for this country.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:28 PM on September 25 [86 favorites]


[A few comments removed, let's not keep running the same circles on "but why THIS and not THAT" etc just to have something to argue about.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:51 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Hunter Biden did what Trump's kids do: recklessly profit off their father's name at the expense of U.S. credibility. The difference is Biden didn't encourage his kid to do it. Also, I look at Trump's kids and I just see boundless greed. I look at Biden's kid and I see an easy mark desperately trying to prove himself a success after an endless round of failures.
posted by xammerboy at 7:52 PM on September 25 [16 favorites]


Shit, Hunter didn't even get a security clearance out of the deal, much less a White House office.

Say, that's an idea: if this is predicated on outrage over abusing the office for personal (political) gain, can we hope that there will be a follow-up effort against nepotists Young Skippy & his wife, and Don junior? That would rule.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:02 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


Kate Brennan reports:
What was alarming about how the White House handled the record of the conversation?

According to a person familiar with the content of the complaint, it has to do with how the record was stored.

When the call was over, senior White House officials pulled the verbatim transcript out of the system that it is traditionally stored in and put it into a separate system reserved for extremely sensitive/highly compartmented programs.

The call had nothing to do with highly classified programs, but by moving it into this separate system, the White House could control who could see the transcript: only a very small group of people.
posted by Jpfed at 8:04 PM on September 25 [51 favorites]


This is not mafioso speak. This is just a tape of Trump flat out asking the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden's corruption. In my opinion there's quid quo pro. The president of Ukraine mentions buying weapons and Trump says he wants this favor done though.

But let's say you don't buy that. It doesn't matter. This is the president of the United States asking you to do something for him as a favor, which is pressure to interfere in the election all by itself.

Clearly, Trump was operating far more openly in private than I expected. It makes me wonder about what else he talked about openly with his staff. The other surprise is that Trump apparently really believes in right wing conspiracy theories. He may even believe there is a QAnon.

On Pod Save America they repeatedly remind listeners that Trump will not be impeached, because there will be no tape with Trump saying to Putin "Let the collusion begin." They were wrong. This transcript is the equivalent of that tape.
posted by xammerboy at 8:13 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


By the way, how cool is it that Russia sets up Trump as their puppet and a Ukraine scandal brings him down?
posted by xammerboy at 8:15 PM on September 25 [41 favorites]


>No one on either side is making this about how Hunter Biden got the job.

Sorry, how'd he get it? Nepotism? So Trump's gonna address the nation about the evils of nepotism? I would pay as many as five of the American dollars in cash money to see that.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:16 PM on September 25 [66 favorites]


I just don't understand how you could be so convinced Joe Biden was going to be the nominee and terrified at the prospect of losing to him that you would literally go do the exact same copycat crimes you barely got away with last time, and have spent the last 300 years telling the world with every lying breath that you were totally cleared, there was no collusion, it was all FAKE NEWS manufactured by the failing NY Times, funded by George Sonos, and that it was actually Hillary and who did the treasons from Russia with love and stole the election, and how this whole time it was the Democrats who framed you for killing Marvin Acme.
posted by guiseroom at 8:19 PM on September 25 [12 favorites]


You are not the Bottomless Well of Need that Donald Dementia is.
posted by y2karl at 8:26 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Being the most defeatist is not a sign that you’re the most savvy.

Thank you, sallybrown. I want this line as a lettering project or a cross-stitch sampler or something.

My own feelings about Finally, This? are both simple and complex. I'm not in despair, but I'm not hopeful either. (I think.) I don't feel relief or joy or trepidation. What I feel is a sense of the world being a little more right now than it was before.

Just last Friday, after that incredible Guiliani performance on live TV, I saw a Twitter thread where the originator linked to the video and asked "He just confessed on live TV, what's going to happen now?" And there were more than ten thousand replies, and all of them which I saw were variations on the theme of "Nothing."

What the literal years of hand-wringing and mealy-mouthed "concern" and "now is not the time" and all that was nihilism. Nihilism particularly applied to the whole concept of "The Rule of Law." And that concept is so fundamental to the fabric of a non-oppressive society that I lack the words to describe it. It's one thing for people to be aware that this concept isn't fully applied in practice. (It doesn't in the here and now; there is effectively one law for the rich and one for the poor; there are open racial disparities.) But what was festering because of inaction, as I saw it, was a belief that not only it didn't apply, but also that it didn't really exist; that it was a fairy tale instead of an ideal. That was so damaging; it was soul-destroying if we're talking about a society's soul. I'm hoping that the House action will undo some of that damage, whatever the outcome is.

Hello, MetaFilter. I picked a hell of a time to come back to the fold, didn't I.
posted by seyirci at 8:27 PM on September 25 [97 favorites]


The call had nothing to do with highly classified programs, but by moving it into this separate system, the White House could control who could see the transcript: only a very small group of people.

It's pretty clear that the White House lawyers were appalled at the blatant crime they had just witnessed and took immediate steps to cover it up. Without the whistleblower they would have succeeded and no one would be the wiser.

First step for investigators is to pry the entire original transcript from the archives, not just the excerpt released today. There might even be a recording. Transcriptions often rely on speech recognition for the first cut these days. The released memo seems much too detailed to be just from assistants' written notes.
posted by JackFlash at 8:41 PM on September 25 [16 favorites]


"I’m even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of the conversation." -- Chuck Schumer after seeing the whistleblower's report this evening.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:01 PM on September 25 [22 favorites]


The US is no longer a nation of laws? There have been periods of far more lawlessness here than now.

The second sentence in no way invalidates the first.
posted by pompomtom at 9:45 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Great thread of context from historian Brad Simpson
Before getting on phone calls like this, both Trump and Zelenskyy will have gotten briefing materials with talking points and what the other party wants to talk about, Congress will of course subpoena these. Zalenskyy's briefing materials would be super interesting here.

Zelensky's briefing materials would summarize the state of play of US econ and military assistance, diplomacy, etc. There was *no need* for Trump to specifically mention US mil aid. Zelensky knew the US was holding up military assistance, and why, and what he had to say.

...The few paragraphs referring to Barr, Giuliani, Biden, etc. are, from a historian's perspective, very, very clear in their meaning. Take 100 historians, and 99 will see this document in the same way, even if we interpret it with great caution. This is very, very damning.
posted by Dashy at 11:13 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


Apologies if I missed it being pointed out already, but this coming on the heels of Warren's surging poll numbers had me wondering if the Dems weren't calculating that hanging Biden out to dry and impeaching Trump wasn't a twofer. Trump's people will say whatabout Joe and the Dems can say "sure, investigate him too."
posted by axiom at 11:30 PM on September 25 [11 favorites]


Serious (and possibly hopelessly naive) question re the "hire a Hollywood firm" suggestion near the beginning of the thread: is this a thing, i.e., do the parties hire marketing consultants re "managing their message"?

Before reading that comment, I would have been put-off the very idea that the Dems should hire someone to attempt to manipulate voters rather than simply presenting policy positions (etc) backed by data and trusting the public's ability to make critical decisions. (See what I mean re hopelessly naive?)

Now, however, this seems like a proverbial no-brainer. The fake-news believing, conspiracy-oriented Trump supporters (i.e, virtually all of them) would be putty in the hands of someone who can suss out the best way to bore into their little heads, e.g., like Cambridge Analytica, if their powers were devoted to good.

I will sleep better if someone can assure me that party officials most certainly put the best firm on retainer months ago.
posted by she's not there at 11:49 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


I believe that the '60s Renault Dauphine or Fiat 500 are more traditional and appropriate Clown Cars

Surely one of those 1950s European microcars, like a Goggomobil or something.
posted by acb at 1:21 AM on September 26


Pessimists love to say "We've never been in such dreadful times!" but we have been in far worse.

Never in my lifetime, which goes back to the Truman Administration. Comparing these times to the 19th Century strikes me as setting an extremely low bar. We were doing much better, until the Greed Party decided to go all in on an Exalt the Rich agenda.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:41 AM on September 26 [42 favorites]


Surely one of those 1950s European microcars, like a Goggomobil or something.

Objectively, perhaps, but I was going with Clown Cars that were sold in the US, and so were familiar to this audience.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:47 AM on September 26


Serious (and possibly hopelessly naive) question re the "hire a Hollywood firm" suggestion near the beginning of the thread: is this a thing(?)

You could make several Avengers movies with the total money spent on campaigning. It's a thing and it's a problem. Maybe as the candidates fall away they can take the money they would have spent on ads for themselves and put it towards glossy impeachment awareness ads.
posted by adept256 at 3:58 AM on September 26 [4 favorites]


[people] would be putty in the hands of someone who can suss out the best way to bore into their little heads, [...] if their powers were devoted to good.

Let's not overdo it, okay? If you are boring into people's heads, even metaphorically, you're probably not using your powers for good.

That said, politics has always been a spectacle and only a fool ignores this.
posted by hat_eater at 4:24 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]




From that link:
The NYT is repeating its exact same 2016 reporting antics, presenting devout Trump supporters as some sort of forgotten swing constituency. Why does this keep happening, and why do they keep going back to the same individuals for interviews?
These are excellent questions. That they are questions at all exemplifies why I don't pay a lot of attention to the NYT.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:44 AM on September 26 [25 favorites]


I'm sure that the guy with the framed portrait of Robert E Lee behind him is a swing voter.
posted by octothorpe at 4:49 AM on September 26 [60 favorites]


Or the one that has been to 23 (!) trump rallies.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:05 AM on September 26 [45 favorites]


In case you’re not pissed off with the NYT enough, here’s NYT’s Maggie Haberman saying "Isn't that clear the public has much interest now..." (in impeachment), and adding in replies:
Public opinion isn't "with" Trump. It just happens not to be "with" impeachment at the moment. If you think the Lewandowski hearing was a turning point that helped Democrats, I would argue that TV is not always what folks think it will be.
Some of the replies to that:
- It’s your fucking job to interest them in the facts. Why do you even do the job you do? Why? What is the point of even trying? Just quit and give someone who gives a fuck aboutthings a chance. You obviously have no interest.
- Jeez Maggie, can you make yourself less likable? It’s been a couple days! And only hours since the summary/notes were disclosed.
- If only you knew of someone with a platform they could use to educate the public as to the seriousness of what’s happened... Oh well, what can you do. I look forward to your next piece covering Javanka’s social calendar!
- Gee, if only you had a platform to get news to the public....
etc.
posted by bitteschoen at 5:10 AM on September 26 [42 favorites]


I just don't understand how...

His greed and ego are infinite, but his judgement and basic grasp of cause and effect are infinitesimal.
posted by Foosnark at 5:35 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]




So really no one has yet referred to my favorite Wire quote of all time? "Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?"
posted by Cocodrillo at 5:44 AM on September 26 [20 favorites]


Unclassified whistleblower complaint

The text of the actual complaint is in an appendix that isn't included :(
posted by diogenes at 5:46 AM on September 26


Sorry, that was the ICIG review of the complaint. Actual complaint is here.
posted by localhuman at 5:49 AM on September 26 [38 favorites]


That New York Times "swing voter" thing is so egregious. It makes me sad.
posted by Gadarene at 5:51 AM on September 26 [16 favorites]


So really no one has yet referred to my favorite Wire quote of all time? "Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?"

In this thread, no. In megathreads over the last few years, approximately 1,000,000 times.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:53 AM on September 26 [54 favorites]


From the complaint:

According to White House officials this was 'not the first time' under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this code-word level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive--rather than national security sensitive--information."
posted by diogenes at 5:57 AM on September 26 [82 favorites]


That is a big one, diogenes.
posted by Gadarene at 5:58 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Today is my b-day. This might be the best present I have ever received.
posted by johnpowell at 6:00 AM on September 26 [22 favorites]


After seeing Rudy's astonishing television performances... he held up his phone and said (paraphrased) 'the state department called me, they asked me to go to Ukraine. I'm just a country lawyer but it's on my phone'. Is he going to blame Pompeo?

I'll give you an apt quote. I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it. - Voltaire
posted by adept256 at 6:01 AM on September 26 [38 favorites]


Indeed. When he isn’t tweeting or golfing he’s on the phone, conspiring.

So many corrupt phone calls. Beyond counting.
posted by notyou at 6:01 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


The Trump administration repeatedly moved problematic transcripts into a system reserved for secrets at the level of covert operations.
posted by diogenes at 6:03 AM on September 26 [5 favorites]


The compliant is incredibly damning and one of the most nutso government documents I have ever read.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:03 AM on September 26 [26 favorites]


It's a veritable Gish Gallop of grift.
posted by acb at 6:04 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


The Trump administration repeatedly moved problematic transcripts into a system reserved for secrets at the level of covert operations.

I see a new Nicolas Cage movie in the works.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:04 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


It is designed to be read and understood. It’s so clearly well organized and pulls no punches. Who ever wrote this was deeply concerned about Trumps actions. It is incredibly damning.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:04 AM on September 26 [45 favorites]


The author is a hero.
posted by diogenes at 6:06 AM on September 26 [45 favorites]


I'm telling you, this person is a patriot. I hope they get to testify in a way that is safe for them.
posted by all about eevee at 6:09 AM on September 26 [10 favorites]


I feel so sorry for the person that wrote this and what's about to happen to them. Being a hero is not going to be easy. Thank you for your service.
posted by adept256 at 6:09 AM on September 26 [36 favorites]


Sam Brodey: Dems Worry Rudy Would Send Impeachment Hearing Off the Rails
Given Giuliani’s track record of theatrics and his fierce loyalty to the president, some Democrats worry that his testimony wouldn’t contribute to legitimate fact-finding but rather turn Democrats’ sober-minded mission into a complete circus—as well as slow down an impeachment proceeding that nearly all Democrats believe needs to be completed with the utmost speed.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, predicted a Giuliani testimony would be a Lewandowski-like spectacle and simply amplify the partisan takes he brings to cable news nightly.

“I don’t know if we need to complicate this too much with a madman like Rudy Giuliani in Congress,” said Swalwell. “Why waste your time?”
Even Josh Marshall, not exactly a leftist firebrand, seems to think Swalwell is a poor excuse for a Democrat:
Yeah, this is dumb. Of course you call him. And have counsel question him. They’re scared of a doddering hobbit who’s losing a fight with his dentures?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:11 AM on September 26 [45 favorites]


At a bare minimum, question him under oath behind closed door so you can throw him in jail for every last lie that comes out of his mouth. His theatrics will be blunted in a written transcript.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 6:15 AM on September 26 [24 favorites]


Self-impeaching, indeed.
posted by hijinx at 6:15 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, hearing Giuliani described as "a doddering hobbit who's losing a fight with his dentures" pleases me immensely.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on September 26 [81 favorites]


Can they impeach Pence during the same trial (should McConnell ever let it hit the Senate floor) or does he need his own?
posted by PenDevil at 6:27 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]




c-span link
posted by adept256 at 6:35 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


The Ukraine Scandal Is Not One Phone Call. It’s a Massive Plot.
The quid pro quo in the call, though perfectly apparent, is mostly implicit. But the real trick in Trump’s defense is framing the call as the entire scandal. The scandal is much more than that. The call is a snapshot, a moment in time in a months-long campaign that put American policy toward Ukraine at the disposal of Trump’s personal interests and reelection campaign.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:50 AM on September 26 [25 favorites]


Perhaps I am biased, but the DNI is coming off as a bumbling, naive fool in this testimony. Even if he is sincere, it’s not hard to imagine him overmatched by bullshit artists in the White House and at Justice.
posted by sallybrown at 6:56 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


To add to kirkaracha, Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa (who has significant ties to the Ukraine) have been on the Ukraine/Biden shenanigans beat since at least May.
posted by PenDevil at 6:57 AM on September 26 [15 favorites]


The author is a hero.

Man, what if it's Bolton
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:58 AM on September 26 [46 favorites]


C-Span link is better, has split-screen, CC, and running transcript.
posted by cenoxo at 6:58 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


I fear that if they were impeached in separate processes the first thing the not yet impeached executive does is to nominate Joe Arpaio as VP and Mitch has a confirmation vote an hour later.
posted by cmfletcher at 6:59 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


what if it's Bolton

The enemy of our enemy is our friend?
posted by cenoxo at 7:01 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


I fear that if they were impeached in separate processes the first thing the not yet impeached executive does is to nominate Joe Arpaio as VP and Mitch has a confirmation vote an hour later.


Good thing the VP needs a majority of the House as well.

I'm not an expert but I don't believe both can be tried at the same time as it is impeachment from an office.

I'd wager that President Pence would be given an ultimatum that he wouldn't be impeached on previous actions provided he did not pardon Trump (who still would likely face state charges in either case)
posted by splen at 7:03 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Man, what if it's Bolton

Then good for him!

I do get the sense from the complaint that the person had some amount of power, but they also must have had a reputation for good judgment and care for their coworkers, which...ah, is not Bolton’s reputation. People went to them for a reason.
posted by sallybrown at 7:03 AM on September 26 [9 favorites]


this coming on the heels of Warren's surging poll numbers had me wondering if the Dems weren't calculating that hanging Biden out to dry and impeaching Trump wasn't a twofer

The whole thing fits nicely with Warren's anti-corruption message.

I'm just a country lawyer

Yeah, but which country, Rudy?
And fuck that cornpone bullshit, Mr. Born and Raised and Lived in New York City.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:05 AM on September 26 [25 favorites]


I'm actually expecting it to be Bolton.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:06 AM on September 26


Good thing the VP needs a majority of the House as well.

Thank you, you'd think in this timeline I'd be far more familiar with the 25th amendment.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:07 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Wow. Nunes was desperately trying to throw Maguire under the incoming bus.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:07 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Devin Nunes to DNI Maguire during live testimony: “Be careful what you say, because it could be used against you.”

Just openly threatening a witness now, are we?
posted by sallybrown at 7:08 AM on September 26 [39 favorites]


The enemy of our enemy is our friend?

In this case, the enemy of our enemy is an aspiring war criminal and chicken hawk who is turned on by the thought of turning Iran into a charnel house.
posted by Ouverture at 7:09 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


The amount of fear I’m seeing from Trump and his minions on this is something new. I don’t know if they’re worried so much about an actual impeachment and removal as they are about what an impeachment investigation would uncover about a lot of people.
posted by azpenguin at 7:10 AM on September 26 [46 favorites]


I don’t know if they’re worried so much about an actual impeachment and removal as they are about what an impeachment investigation would uncover about a lot of people.

dingdingding! Honestly, there is nothing these people would fear so much as a revelation of all the promises they made, who they made them to, and what they got in return. Cause you know it's ugly.
posted by emjaybee at 7:12 AM on September 26 [26 favorites]


@NoahShachtman: The OLC memo saying the whistleblower complaint had nothing to do with an 'intelligence activity' looks completely ludicrous now.

That sounds like an obvious point——of course it's completely ludicrous, but when you read the thing and see that part of the complaint is about the coverup, directions by White House layers to improperly store transcripts on the wrong classified computer system for political purposes, it's impossible to see how anyone can conclude in good faith that the complaint doesn't concern intelligence activities. The people who wrote that memo are the only people telling the President what is and isn't illegal, and they're sycophants covering up wrongdoing.

Not to be overly obvious again, but the White House keeps insisting everything about this is all fine and entirely proper, yet their immediate reaction to it happening was to become "deeply disturbed" and for lawyers to order a coverup. Their reaction rather gives it away.

I do appreciate the simplicity of the Post's headline right now: "Whistleblower claimed Trump abused office and White House officials tried to cover it up."
posted by zachlipton at 7:14 AM on September 26 [32 favorites]


I am increasingly of optimistic that, contrary to the both-sidesy "be careful what you wish for Democrats" articles everywhere, impeachment proceedings are going to be really bad for the GOP.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:16 AM on September 26 [27 favorites]


Just read the whistleblower complaint, which I recommend. It’s clear the primary obsession here was somehow “proving” that Ukraine, and not Russia, hacked the 2016 election. Which almost certainly is fueled be Trump’s vanity — the charges that he didn’t win fair and square rankle him. Also he was to some uncertain degree complicit with or directing Russia’s involvement.
posted by argybarg at 7:17 AM on September 26 [15 favorites]


Running McGuire hearing commentary by Mark Sumner at Daily Kos.
posted by cenoxo at 7:20 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


The DNI’s insistence that he went to the White House and OLC for a “second opinion” because he “thought it would be prudent” reminds me a lot of Comey’s decision to hold a press conference when not bringing charges against Hillary Clinton. In both cases, someone charged with a duty under the law and a clear cut guideline of how they were supposed to carry that out were too nervous to do the right thing because of potential political unpopularity and personal ramifications. Instead they tried to invent a brand new method to have it both ways. They didn’t want to shoulder the full burden of their responsibility. But if you aren’t willing to take that burden, you don’t belong in such a weighty job.

Mueller refusing to reach a conclusion about Trump’s behavior may also fall in this category.

I think back sometimes on Rachel Brand, who left her job as #3 at DOJ to go work for Walmart. Maybe she decided she couldn’t take the burden and so she chose not to half-ass it.
posted by sallybrown at 7:36 AM on September 26 [76 favorites]


My reading on Maguire’s testimony so far: he’s in trouble and he knows it. At this point he might be well served to start invoking 5th amendment protections.
posted by azpenguin at 7:46 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


Mueller refusing to reach a conclusion about Trump’s behavior may also fall in this category.


History isn’t going to be kind to anyone wrapped up in this rolling disaster, but Mueller has potentially the furthest to fall.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:52 AM on September 26 [11 favorites]


Footnote 4 says that a report from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project had information about Guiliani's associates visiting Ukraine. It makes his "associates" sound like gangsters, but is it actually as bad as it sounds? What is the OCCRP?
posted by harriet vane at 8:12 AM on September 26


What is the OCCRP?

I'm thinking it's this: Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
posted by zombieflanders at 8:16 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


This is the OCCRP. This is the report mentioned in footnote 4, Meet the Florida Duo Helping Giuliani Investigate for Trump in Ukraine.
posted by peeedro at 8:17 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Here's the OCCRP report mentioned in that footnote:

Meet the Florida Duo Helping Giuliani Investigate for Trump in Ukraine
Two Soviet-born Florida businessmen — one linked to a Ukrainian tycoon with reputed mafia ties — are key hidden actors behind a plan by U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney to investigate the president’s rivals.

...

A resident of upscale Boca Raton, Parnas once ran an electronics business that was successfully sued for its role in a fraudulent penny stock promotion scheme. He has also worked for three brokerages that later lost their licenses for fraud and other violations. He has never been personally charged.

Court records also show that judges have awarded a series of default judgements against Parnas for multiple unpaid debts. These include over $500,000 he owes to an investor in a Hollywood movie that he had promoted but was never made. He has also been sued a dozen times over the last decade for failing to pay rent on various Palm Beach County properties and has been evicted from two homes.

Fruman’s backstory is even more colorful.

His network of businesses extends from the United States to the city of Odesa, a Ukrainian Black Sea port notorious for corruption and organized crime.

Reporters found that Fruman has personal ties to a powerful local: Volodymyr “The Lightbulb” Galanternik, a shadowy businessman commonly referred to as the “Grey Cardinal” of Odesa.

Galanternik is described by local media and activists as a close associate of Gennadiy Trukhanov, the mayor of Odesa who was shown in the late 1990s to be a senior member of a feared organized criminal group involved in fuel smuggling and weapons trading.
so yeah: gangsters
posted by theodolite at 8:18 AM on September 26 [36 favorites]


From Wikipedia:
"The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), founded in 2006, is a consortium of investigative centers, media and journalists operating in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Central America. OCCRP is the only full-time investigative reporting organization that specializes in organized crime and corruption. It publishes its stories through local media and in English and Russian through its website. In 2017, NGO Advisor ranked it 69th in the world in their annual list of the 500 best non-governmental organizations (NGO). "
posted by NotLost at 8:19 AM on September 26 [4 favorites]


Wow, this is so, so much worse than I imagined earlier this week.
posted by odinsdream at 8:24 AM on September 26 [22 favorites]


I don't know what to think about anything anymore; when I heard that the whistleblower's report was being declassified last night, my thinking was that the quick release of both the memo on the call and the whistleblower's report was an indication that Trump et. al. felt they could deploy enough strident bombast and confusion to ensure it blows over relatively quickly. (Of course, that raises the question of why these things weren't released until the House started talking impeachment - if nothing else, it shows exercising your authority works, I guess).

Now that I've read the report...well, geez, it opens up all kinds of questions. Who gave the order to secure the transcript improperly & why? What other information has been stored that way? Given that the information on this call and others has been stored inappropriately, can all of it now be retrieved and made part of these proceedings?

I think somebody needs to create a real good explanation of the timeline of events on the Ukrainian side of this (and maybe it's out there and I haven't seen it), as well, so that it's really clear what happened with respect to Biden & 2016 (and if Biden is implicated in something, then he should fall too. Because it's time for justice to be done, though the heavens fall).
posted by nubs at 8:25 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


"The Grey Cardinal"... That's brilliant.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:25 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


(and if Biden is implicated in something, then he should fall too. Because it's time for justice to be done, though the heavens fall).

I honestly wouldn't feel to bad if there is some sort of #MeToo -style housecleaning of our political class.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:28 AM on September 26 [30 favorites]


The problem with any implication of Biden is it would have to come from Ukrainian sources, which have been extensively pressured to gin up false info. So who in their right mind would believe it?
posted by argybarg at 8:28 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


Yeah, if we were draining the swamp for real, that would be great.
posted by bardophile at 8:30 AM on September 26 [11 favorites]


WaPo: Trump’s other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business

We may not need a full laundry list of impeachable offenses because it looks likely that the Ukraine scandal covers every flavor of corruption.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 8:31 AM on September 26 [13 favorites]


I think somebody needs to create a real good explanation of the timeline of events on the Ukrainian side of this (and maybe it's out there and I haven't seen it)

For me the clearest most succinct reconstruction of a timeline I’ve read so far is from this English-language Ukrainian publication: Trump whistleblower scandal, explained from Ukraine
posted by bitteschoen at 8:33 AM on September 26 [9 favorites]


i started reading Russian Roulette by David Corn and Michael Isikoff last year sometime.

i should probably finish it but it got very depressing as i started to realize just how much 45 is probably entrenched in some very nefarious that is also hard to pin down. as someone mentioned earlier i think, they got Capone on tax evasion, not the shit he actually did.

45 might be an idiot, but he's smart enough to keep sliding out of grasp. i hope that this phone call is his "tax evasion" although he probably has that too.
posted by affectionateborg at 8:37 AM on September 26 [5 favorites]


From TPM comments:
would someone please ask this question…

You were concerned that this was “privileged” information. You knew at the time that the information was classified “need to know only”. Nevertheless, you decided to, on your own, convey highly classified, privileged information to the Department of Justice. Is that correct? Yet or no.
posted by notsnot at 8:43 AM on September 26 [7 favorites]


I appreciate the whistleblower's footnote 3, which basically asks "WTF is with the President insisting Ukraine has anything to do with the DNC's servers?"

As best I can tell, Trump fully believes a right wing conspiracy theory pushed by Roger Stone that Russia didn't hack the DNC and it's all a myth started in Ukraine. That belief, in and of itself, is a national security threat. And it's not even the coherent thinking of a remotely competent person:
People familiar with the president’s thinking said he has come to suspect the DNC server hacked by Russian intelligence agents in 2016 may have been hidden in Ukraine. The president has been known to embrace conspiracy theories, but it wasn’t immediately clear how he reached that belief about the DNC server or how that would even have been physically possible.
So it would be nice if this hearing could include asking the DNI what he thinks of the President rejecting and undermining one of the most important intelligence conclusions in the country and asking the DNI to explain that the President believes in nonsense.
posted by zachlipton at 8:44 AM on September 26 [22 favorites]


Jesus, watching Michael Gove in UK Parliament yesterday and Joseph Maguire today, it's been a double-punch 101 class in evasion. That, and a 101 class in how to lob soft-ball questions that instead paint the opposition party as the one that should be on trial.

If I was nihilistic enough, I could probably now write a dead-on Veep/The Thick of It/Yes, Minister-like script.
posted by facehugger at 8:45 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


CNN, Lewandowski may lead White House impeachment team
Trump's 2016 campaign manager would be in a crisis management type role, and the idea as it currently stands would be for Lewandowski to assemble a team that mirrors the one that existed in Bill Clinton's White House when he was facing his own impeachment.

The list of potential players on the team includes David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager who angered the President earlier this year by soliciting funds using Trump's name. Bossie served as the chief investigator of the House Oversight Committee in 1997, helping scrutinize Clinton.
I, for one, am in favor of them appointing someone incredibly incompetent for this job.
posted by zachlipton at 8:53 AM on September 26 [64 favorites]


It's hard to attract talent when anyone competent knows they won't get paid and will be a possible patsy for any further incriminations.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:58 AM on September 26 [10 favorites]


Every Dem congressperson: Did you discuss the whistleblower complaint with the President?

Maguire, 50x: I won’t say what I discussed with the President.

Maguire: I never talked to the President about Ukraine.

Schiff: Did you just say you didn’t discuss Ukraine, which this complaint is about, with the President?

Maguire: Uh...oops...well...
posted by sallybrown at 9:01 AM on September 26 [23 favorites]


The Trump administration repeatedly moved problematic transcripts into a system reserved for secrets at the level of covert operations.

Very thoughtful of White House lawyers to pre-sort all of the phone calls containing criminal conspiracies for the convenience of Congressional investigators.
posted by JackFlash at 9:04 AM on September 26 [68 favorites]


Very thoughtful of White House lawyers to pre-sort all of the phone calls containing criminal conspiracies for the convenience of Congressional investigators.

I have a feeling in the next few months we're about to find out just how far the "national security" excuse can stretch in covering up executive malfeasance.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:08 AM on September 26 [13 favorites]


After extensive questioning by Rep. Schiff about what should happen regarding privilege if the White House is committing crime, misconduct, or fraud, Maguire replied “Any instances of crime or fraud should be referred to the Justice Department, as I did.”
posted by sallybrown at 9:14 AM on September 26 [11 favorites]


someone charged with a duty under the law and a clear cut guideline of how they were supposed to carry that out were too nervous to do the right thing because of potential political unpopularity and personal ramifications. Instead they tried to invent a brand new method to have it both ways. They didn’t want to shoulder the full burden of their responsibility. But if you aren’t willing to take that burden, you don’t belong in such a weighty job.

I see your point. At the same time, I'm sympathetic to Maquire's desire to ensure he was working within the constraints of the law—unfortunately, as it's being interpreted by lawyers with a vested interest. Weighing the potential personal ramifications of unpopular actions is an unavoidable part of government* work. (Dying on an unpopular hill in the private sector is less likely to end one's career, given that opportunities are available!e with other companies. Not so of the Federal government.)

Further, I'm not entirely comfortable with endorsing the idea that "doing the right thing" is of the highest order, considering the kind of bullshit that passes as such in some circles these days.

Re a "clear cut guideline" as it pertains to "shall": IANAL, but English is my mother tongue and "shall" is ambiguous in every day use. A quick Google indicates this is also the case re legal meaning.

I turned off the hearing because the Dems were making me fucking crazy. (The GOP, also, but that's a given). They are nit-picking and haranguing (inc repeatedly asking questions that have already been answered) a man who I believe the general public will see as "just doing his job" (not just Trump supporters, but also most anyone who has worked in government), playing into the hands of those who claim this is a baseless witch hunt.

(A belated thank you to the whole Mefi community, whose very existence has helped make living in Trump country bearable. The future is hardly certain, but thanks to you all, I am not without hope.)
posted by she's not there at 9:14 AM on September 26 [15 favorites]


WaPo, Justice Dept. rejected investigation of Trump phone call just weeks after it began examining the matter
Just weeks after intelligence leaders asked the Justice Department and FBI to consider examining a summer phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the head of the department’s criminal division determined there was not sufficient cause to even launch an investigation, senior Justice Department officials said.

Department officials and career public integrity prosecutors reviewed a rough transcript of the call and verified its authenticity, but — because a case was not opened — took no other steps, such as conducting interviews, the officials said. They looked only at whether Trump might have violated campaign finance laws, not federal corruption statutes, even though some legal analysts said there seemed to be evidence of both.
...
The department’s Office of Legal Counsel has opined that a sitting president cannot be indicted — although officials said that was not a part of the calculus in this instance. A president can be charged after leaving office.
A few things stink here. First, DOJ didn't conduct an investigation or interview any witnesses. Second, Barr didn't recuse himself despite being directly implicated in the call. Third, they conducted a sham non-investigation to exonerate the President despite the OLC opinion that the President can't be indicted, pulling a Comey, if you will, to conclude Trump didn't break the law instead of coming to no conclusion.

Anyway, had they conducted an actual investigation, they might have gathered evidence from witnesses like, um, talking to the guy who will not shut up: CNN, Giuliani denies charges in whistleblower complaint, says details are 'total nonsense'
Giuliani also said he had a "nice little trail" of text message conversations with the top US diplomat to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, to prove his story.

"I spoke to the State Department during the course of this situation, I told you, at least 10 times, and I met with them," Giuliani told CNN.
...
Giuliani shared with CNN what he claimed was a text message from Volker on July 19.

"Mr Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning," read the message shared with CNN. "As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky. I suggest we schedule a call together on Monday — maybe 10am or 11am Washington time? Kurt"
...
He also said he had more text messages, five or six, that indicate the State Department was encouraging his work in Ukraine. "I'm going to use them to protect myself if and when I need them," Giuliani said.
Yes Rudy, let's see the text messages that further link your actions to the President and show how the State Department engaged in partisian political activity, please.
posted by zachlipton at 9:14 AM on September 26 [44 favorites]


The New Yorker:  “Do Us a Favor”: The Forty-eight Hours That Sealed Trump’s Impeachment

As always, the New Yorker has a cogent summary of how we got to where we are today.  They do a nice breakdown of the timeline.   And since no New Yorker article on politics is published without a pithy observation, I was pleased to run across this particular snark:
At one point, he lectured them about “wise leaders” who put the interests of their nations first, proving if nothing else that Trump is immune to irony.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:17 AM on September 26 [32 favorites]


Weighing the potential personal ramifications of unpopular actions is an unavoidable part of government* work. (Dying on an unpopular hill in the private sector is less likely to end one's career, given that opportunities are available!e with other companies. Not so of the Federal government.)

Further, I'm not entirely comfortable with endorsing the idea that "doing the right thing" is of the highest order, considering the kind of bullshit that passes as such in some circles these days.


When working in a large swath of jobs in the federal government, including Maguire’s, Comey’s, and Mueller’s, you swear an oath to follow the Constitution and uphold the law, regardless of how popular that will be, regardless of whether American in general will like it, regardless of whether it ends your government service and those employment protections (in the case of a resignation), regardless of whether your neighbors won’t like you, regardless of whether it makes it tougher for you to get a job in the future, regardless of whether it causes bad PR.

It is an enormous amount of pressure. But people in these jobs do not go into them without knowing that, and they shouldn’t take them if they can’t do it.
posted by sallybrown at 9:20 AM on September 26 [37 favorites]


Not that it really matters anymore but this is a good time for a reminder that nobody outside the DOJ has seen the unredacted Mueller report. Like remember all those big blocks blacked out because of Harm to Ongoing Matters? Hey Barr, any progress on that stuff?
posted by theodolite at 9:23 AM on September 26 [38 favorites]


I'm still stuck on this business where McGuire took this to the Justice Department. Which is run by William Barr. Who is involved in the report and the transcript. How is it the right thing to go to that guy's department? And why didn't that come up? Or did I miss something?
posted by Glinn at 9:37 AM on September 26 [5 favorites]


Glinn, it did come up a couple of times, same as the fact he went to the White House first. His answer was always that he was following what was required of the law because of executive privilege etc. - see video clip here:
SCHIFF to MAGUIRE: "The second place you went to was the Justice Department, and you went to that department, headed by a man, Bill Barr, who was also implicated in the complaint."
posted by bitteschoen at 9:42 AM on September 26 [22 favorites]


Following from the above, I think we're also going to get a definitive answer to the question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, and I'm very, very afraid the answer is going to be, or at least will be pushed very hard towards, "No one."

I feel like that would be the equivalent of pouring hydrofluoric acid into the proverbial warming pot with the frog in it, but maybe that's just me.

(Please let it be just me.)
posted by seyirci at 9:49 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


It's worth repeating (and someone should probably tell Maguire) that there is no executive privilege where the commission of criminal acts is concerned.
posted by Gadarene at 9:50 AM on September 26 [7 favorites]


The whistleblower complaint is only nine pages, so it can be easily printed off and read in 15 minutes over lunch or on the toilet
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:51 AM on September 26 [7 favorites]


While we're latin-ing, Trumpo delenda est!
posted by kaibutsu at 9:54 AM on September 26


The whistleblower complaint...can be easily printed off and read in 15 minutes. over lunch or on the toilet

The latter, of course, being the preferred way to read anything Trump-related.
posted by MrGuilt at 9:56 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Schiff: Did you just say you didn’t discuss Ukraine, which this complaint is about, with the President?

Maguire: Uh...oops...well...


It was abundantly clear that Trump discussed the complaint directly with McGuire.
posted by diogenes at 9:56 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


LA Times, Trump at private breakfast: “Who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s almost a spy”
“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
...
“They’re talking about me and I didn’t do anything,” he said, hedging slightly. “I don’t know if I’m the most innocent person in the world.”
So I'm just feeling like the president insinuating that the whistleblower should be killed would, in a just world, be considered retaliation.

And the best part:
A person attending the event provided The Los Angeles Times with a recording of the president’s remarks.
Did...did someone spy on the president ranting about how he's being spied on? Delicious.
posted by zachlipton at 10:01 AM on September 26 [128 favorites]


There's something I don't understand about this whole scandal. Trump has his personal lawyer meeting with the Ukrainians. Trump's Attorney General, at least according to Trump, is going to help dig up dirt on Biden. Why in the world would Trump get his hands dirty personally applying pressure to Zelensky? His staff is moving the records of his conversations out of the normal archives so clearly he's afraid of getting caught. Why not let his flunkies take care of doing the dirty work?
posted by rdr at 10:02 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Just because his staff was afraid of him getting caught doesn't mean Trump himself was. This appears to be much more of an example of people who know how the system works trying their damndest to clean up incriminating evidence left by somebody who doesn't know and refuses to learn.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:03 AM on September 26 [48 favorites]


I've been struck recently by how eerily consistent the Trump/Republican/Alt-Right Media response to scandals follows each step of the Narcissist's Prayer you see pop up occasionally in discussions of his personality type.  It's like someone distilled their talking points playbook down to a set of commandments :

That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did…
You deserved it. 

I started to turn every sentence into links, but that rabbit-hole was destroying my will to live, and to be honest hardly feels necessary by this point.   We've all watched them do it time after time.   This is the first time it really feels like the narrative has spun out of their control, and I don't think it's a coincidence that the first major scandal to get legs and also have nothing to do with the 2016 elections is the one the Democrats have moved on.   Now that they've gotten in front and are controlling the debate, the typical Gish Gallop method of republican talking points is far less effective.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 10:05 AM on September 26 [80 favorites]


His staff is moving the records of his conversations out of the normal archives so clearly he's afraid of getting caught.

The implied assumption is that Trump was the one who ordered the recordings hidden in some data-Gitmo. I think the simpler explanation is that Trump had the conversation with Zelensky in spite of his staff saying "be cool. We got this, sir." He is, after all, the Very Best Deal Maker. Once they got wind of that, they realized he could go down, taking them with him, so they stashed them out of site.

The only downside of that hypothesis is that Trump would legitimately be able to say he wasn't involved in (that part of) any cover-up.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:06 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Also, according to the article, the LAT has a recording of the rant.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:09 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

I really hope that's the high-water mark for the most fucked up thing that happens today.
posted by diogenes at 10:09 AM on September 26 [24 favorites]


I am starting to wonder if it is at long last time to write this up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on September 26 [9 favorites]


The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.

Conveniently, there's an FPP up right now about Trump's idol Roy Cohn, the one man most responsible for the execution of the Rosenbergs and undoubtedly the example he had in mind.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 10:16 AM on September 26 [23 favorites]


“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Says the person looking the most treasonous in all of this.
posted by mikepop at 10:18 AM on September 26 [43 favorites]


CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz: “CNN: Corey Lewandowski has had conversations with White House officials in recent days about potentially taking a position inside the administration to help Trump confront a looming impeachment fight.”

Sounds like Team Trump either is desperate for help in the upcoming impeachment battle or thinks that his House hearing didn’t go that badly.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:27 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Why in the world would Trump get his hands dirty personally applying pressure to Zelensky?

In part, it's because Trump is stupid.

In part, it's because he is a real estate developer through and through -- it's standard in real estate development for the business people to pick up the phone and call their counterpart on the other side if "the lawyers are getting in the way" or "the lawyers are stopping the deal train", a/k/a, things aren't moving as fast as I want. It's something that real estate developers pride themselves on being able to do. To a lot of developers, the ability to pick up the phone and talk directly to the decision maker on the other side is, in fact, the heart of development -- it's their value-add to the project, because God knows the bank is providing all the money, the lawyer is doing all the drafting, the broker found the property, and the accountant ran the Excel spreadsheets.

Done right, it's a way for both sides to save face, and how you unstick a real estate deal that's hung up on, say, remedies in the event of a default.

Done badly, in a context where it has NO FUCKING BUSINESS APPEARING, I hope to God it is a ticket to impeachment.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:27 AM on September 26 [46 favorites]


This is part of the equation. From 538. (At the link, you need to keep pressing Show More Polls to get to the older polls). Emphases are mine.

Poll released: July 25, 2019

Jul 21-23, 2019

Grade of poll: A Fox News 1,004 RV
President: general election

Warren 41% Trump 42% Trump +1
Harris 40% Trump 41% Trump +1
Sanders 46% Trump 40% Sanders +6
Biden 49% Trump 39% Biden +10
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:29 AM on September 26 [9 favorites]


Should I add: smoking gun?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:30 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]




Why in the world would Trump get his hands dirty personally applying pressure to Zelensky?

He lacks self-control, in that he doesn’t believe he should have to stop himself from doing things that other people consider bad or illegal, and he doesn’t seem to have the ability to stop himself from doing whatever small category of things he knows and admits are bad.
posted by sallybrown at 10:39 AM on September 26 [7 favorites]


...but may turn out Trump invited an impeachment when he could have just waited a few weeks.

I don't know. Warren's rise may be a momentary blip. Or her overall "electability" gets questioned, and Biden rises again.

Regardless, Trump realizes he is in perhaps the weakest position an incumbent president has ever been in, and that's with a strong economy (for now). He needs a "but her emails" for any potential rival. He's likely working on files for any potential front runner. This one happened to involve national security.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:55 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Yeah, while checking in the newspapers this morning, all except for the Boston Herald had front page stories about Ukraine/Impeachment while the Herald was all THIS IS BAD NEWS FOR WARREN ("Lizabethan Error" I think).

The "electability" machine is primed and ready to go.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:00 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Daily Beast, Rudy’s Big Plan to Defend Trump on Ukraine: Play the George Soros Card
In several rambling cable news appearances, Giuliani has claimed that Soros—who conservative conspiracy theorists have long blamed for everything from the Barack Obama presidency to actor Jussie Smollett’s faking of a hate crime—is somehow involved in a wide-ranging, anti-Trump scheme in Ukraine. Like many Soros-related claims, this one is, well, flimsy. Indeed, Guiliani’s argument appears to rest almost entirely on innuendos, a single op-ed in The Hill, and his vague claims about unnamed “people” in Ukraine.

Giuliani’s allegations center on a “Soros NGO” that manufactured evidence against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a former FBI agent who Giuliani claims is on Soros’s payroll. “George Soros has a not-for-profit called AntAC,” Giuliani said in a CNN appearance last Thursday. “AntAC is the one that developed all of the dirty information that ended up being a false document that was created in order to incriminate Manafort.”
My working theory at this point is that there's not a Russia scandal and a Ukraine scandal, but they're one and the same. Since the early days of the campaign, the whole Trump operation has been tainted by the Russia ties and Russia-related malfeasance. Since then, there's been one slapdash coverup after another, and every one has involved yet more wrongdoing and actual crimes too lengthy to list here. The Ukraine matter is another one of those, rooted in right wing conspiracy theories about Soros and the DNC server. Giuliani wanted to exonerate Manafort (or at least create enough FUD to justify a pardon) and Trump wanted the server investigated before he even brought up Biden. The whole thing seems to have started as yet another way to cast a cloud over what we know happened with Russia (or worse, what we don't yet know), and once again, the coverup has turned into a criminal enterprise.
posted by zachlipton at 11:01 AM on September 26 [17 favorites]


NYT, Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House
The whistle-blower who revealed that President Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity.

The man has since returned to the C.I.A., the people said. Little else is known about him. His complaint made public Thursday suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.
Time between Trump alluding to executing the whistleblower and someone leaking details of his identity: one hour
posted by theodolite at 11:03 AM on September 26 [55 favorites]


I don't know anyone who uses "inter alia" in conversation or even formal memos who didn't go to law school (p 4, bottom). But it may just be that he was in extra-formal mode and hangs out with a lot of legal analyst types.
posted by chortly at 11:05 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Ugh, we're off to a great start protecting the identity of the whistle blower.
posted by diogenes at 11:06 AM on September 26 [22 favorites]


The media should not be trying to figure out who this is.
posted by all about eevee at 11:07 AM on September 26 [55 favorites]


Time between Trump alluding to executing the whistleblower

Actually, Trump didn't allude to executing the whistle blower. He alluded to executing the more than half a dozen U.S. officials who gave information to the whistle blower.

(That's me mocking folks on Twitter.)
posted by diogenes at 11:08 AM on September 26 [15 favorites]


“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

"Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest whistleblower?"
posted by mattdidthat at 11:09 AM on September 26 [24 favorites]


It really is amazing how easily the NYT can track down a person the president wants to assassinate compared to how hard it is for them to understand a 23-time Trump rally attendee is not a swing voter.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:11 AM on September 26 [183 favorites]


WTF. The New York Times, in the same article where they publish the information about the whistleblower, quote the whistleblower’s lawyers on how publishing any information on the whistleblower is dangerous.
Lawyers for the whistle-blower refused to confirm that he worked for the C.I.A. and said that publishing information about him was dangerous.

“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”
But of course the never-wrong Dean Baquet thinks otherwise:
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said The Times was right to publish information about the whistle-blower. “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country — whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up.”
Do we need to know he’s CIA to grant him any credibility as a whistleblower? Isn’t the content of his complaint credible enough??
posted by bitteschoen at 11:16 AM on September 26 [36 favorites]


Metafilter: I started to turn every sentence into links, but that rabbit-hole was destroying my will to live, and to be honest hardly feels necessary by this point.
posted by Melismata at 11:27 AM on September 26 [61 favorites]


Trump just tweeted Liddle’ Adam Schiff, who has worked unsuccessfully for 3 years to hurt the Republican Party and President, has just said that the Whistleblower, even though he or she only had second hand information, “is credible.”

The second hand information argument kinda fell apart with the release of the "transcript" that matches the second hand information 100%.
posted by diogenes at 11:28 AM on September 26 [30 favorites]


The DNI’s testimony this morning also undermines the “2nd hand info” argument - he directly said the complaint and the memo were in alignment.
posted by nubs at 11:35 AM on September 26 [7 favorites]


Watching the news coverage of the complaint and call transcript, with the blotchy Xeroxed text and dramatic highlighter effects on key phrases, I'm stuck by the realization that this whole thing probably would have blown over if they hadn't even bothered to cover it up. Like if Trump had a press conference with Zelezny at the UN and just outright said "Ukraine is a tremendous country, we've done a lot to help them out with weapons and other things, and I'm glad to announce they'll be returning the favor by helping us expose crooked Joe Biden and his corrupt son for their dirty deal to hack the election. Drain the swamp!" There'd be outrage, sure, but the brazenness would help normalize it like everything else. Thank God there's some whistleblower cover-up angle for the media and Congress to hang their hat on here.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:36 AM on September 26 [59 favorites]


It seems to be that the coverup is always what makes things worse. And these are, as the saying goes, not very bright guys. The movie could be called "Mediocrefellas."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:38 AM on September 26 [33 favorites]


OK, this bit on Reddit made me lol:
The White House apparently repeatedly abused a system designed to contain classified transcripts to contain transcripts of politically problematic conversations. Which means there is going to be a flood of similar shit coming out.
I'd really like to know more about this system. I wonder if it was used because you can't get the data out without being a certain person (say Trump with his personal passphrase).
Passphrase is “covfefe” and he accidentally tweeted it out. He also never changed the password afterwards.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:48 AM on September 26 [45 favorites]


OMG Rhaomi you are exactly right. Which is terrifying.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:55 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]




Is it worth calling congresspeople to try to stop the recess? Or is it too late?
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:03 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


"The ICIG's preliminary review indicated that the Complainant has official and authorized access to the information and sources referenced in the Complainant's Letter..." - ICIG Atkinson's letter to acting DNI Maguire

[Janet voice]: Not a spy.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:10 PM on September 26 [8 favorites]


That's a cool poll and gives me some heart but it should be noted the poll Q is phrased that the Quid pro quo (cooking up a Biden conspiracy in exchange for military aid) is the reason for impeachment, which is not at all required. Just asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival is a (spectacularly) high crime and abuse of power. But you might not get 22% if you asked the question without the Quid pro quo.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:10 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


[Janet voice]: Not a spy.

I mean, WB probably is a spy, but one of 'ours.'
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:22 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]




And I will be the hero!

You hear me! Noooo comeuppance!
posted by diogenes at 12:26 PM on September 26 [13 favorites]


Can we spare a thought for poor Zelensky in all of this? And appreciate the irony of his position especially with his background:
In Servant Of The People, the TV series in which Volodymyr Zelenskiy played an accidental president, his character found himself caught up in a slew of scandals, each of which he managed to successfully overcome by the end of each episode.

Now, as Ukraine's actual president, Zelenskiy is stuck in the middle of a political fight in Washington with very real stakes and one that he cannot simply write his way out of.
Then again, he has a 71% approval rating in Ukraine and may not need to worry about Ukrainian’s perceptions of his part in the call with Trump, altough it’s also ironic that he had just last week passed a law that allowed impeachment of the president, for the first time.

So imagine if Zelensky himself had actually said, in respect to Ukrainian national security, anything at the same level of compromising as Trump did in respect to US matters – we could have had a DOUBLE impeachment, in both countries...
posted by bitteschoen at 12:31 PM on September 26 [11 favorites]


>>The whistleblower complaint...can be easily printed off and read in 15 minutes. over lunch or on the toilet

> The latter, of course, being the preferred way to read anything Trump-related.

...as long as it’s The Golden Toilet (wherever it is now).
posted by cenoxo at 12:42 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Trump: “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

So Trump now adds another article of impeachment for obstruction of justice and witness intimidation?

He just can't stop crimeing.
posted by JackFlash at 12:45 PM on September 26 [22 favorites]


Wow. Tide is shifting *very* quickly. 22% of Republicans strongly support impeachment, 10% of Republicans somewhat support impeachment. Only 49% of Republicans oppose impeachment.

I haven't been on the "polls are complete bullshit" bandwagon but am given pause. Come on. We know them by now. Gallup had a 91% approval rating among Republicans ten days ago and the new developments won't make them burn their MAGA hats, now or ever. If you're feeling hope for self-identified Republicans, stop.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:46 PM on September 26 [17 favorites]


The shift will not be visible in "X% of Republicans say Y" polls. The shift will be that fewer people identify as Republicans (usually reporting "independent" instead).

This is also why you should not trust polls that "correct" their sample distribution using party ID as a weighting factor.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:50 PM on September 26 [28 favorites]


NYT, Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House

Seems to me that Trump may have already known who it was, and that this provides plausible cover for whatever happens next.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:00 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Wow. Tide is shifting *very* quickly. 22% of Republicans strongly support impeachment, 10% of Republicans somewhat support impeachment. Only 49% of Republicans oppose impeachment.

They didn't ask those Republicans whether they support impeachment. The question they asked was "If President Donald Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine in order to incentivize the country’s officials to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and his son, would you support or oppose impeachment?"

We're already seeing "There was no quid pro quo!" all over the punditsphere for just this reason. It gives them an out: "Well, of course if the President did this thing... but he didn't actually say 'quid pro quo', so I guess I don't support impeachment even though I am a very serious person with strong fundamental principles."
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Why in the world would Trump get his hands dirty personally applying pressure to Zelensky?

It's the Art of the Deal. Squeezing the balls in a vise of someone who can't punch back is one of Trump's only joys in life. He's not going to pass that pleasure to someone else.
posted by JackFlash at 1:08 PM on September 26 [16 favorites]


It gives them an out

Which of course is laughable because no one ever formalizes quid pro quo, esp. mafiaoso wannabes. It's proven all the time in courts without "hey, I will give you X if you commit this crime for me".

But you're 100% right, this will be the tack-- no quid pro, no collusion, nothing to see here.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:11 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


– we could have had a DOUBLE impeachment, in both countries...

I think that Zelensky is in the clear; it is very obvious that he was just humouring a mentally deranged dotard.
posted by porpoise at 1:15 PM on September 26 [19 favorites]


I'd like to think that the bar for plausible deniability is a little higher than "you must literally be Hannibal Lecter hissing 'Quid Pro Quo' over and over again in order for it to be legitimate exhortation for quid pro quo, but, that is not as reality has borne out recently.
posted by bookwo3107 at 1:16 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


Brian Schatz (D-HI) is absolutely right: Imagine if we hadn't taken the House.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:18 PM on September 26 [43 favorites]


Don’t Over-Legalize Impeachment (Alan Z. Rozenshtein , Lawfare)
[The impulse to seek evidence of federal lawbreaking] should be resisted, at least for now. The question is not whether Trump broke federal criminal law. The question is whether he has failed to uphold his constitutional duties and should be impeached and removed from office.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:24 PM on September 26 [32 favorites]


Alex Pareene, Impeachment Shouldn’t Be the Goal of Impeachment: America deserves answers, not closure.
I would be happy to be proven wrong, but I do not expect Trump to be removed from office or to resign in a cloud of disgrace. I do not expect catharsis. Catharsis may be what some people are looking for from any sort of impeachment process, but I would invite them to read former Congressman Brad Miller’s remarkable history, in the latest issue of The American Prospect, of the last 40 years of congressional oversight of (Republican) presidential administrations. It is a story of shameless people getting away with it, over and over again, thanks in large part to a dubious but effective legal theory of presidential power developed by the current attorney general.
...
In lieu of justice, what I would like is answers. I would like the full story, a complete and detailed account of everyone’s involvement in everything. The whistleblower’s complaint is in large part an explanation of how dedicated the White House is to avoiding public disclosure of malfeasance. The fact that we are able to read it today is proof that impeachment is not a goal in and of itself, but a tool for ferreting out the truth. It should convince any skeptic that an impeachment inquiry should be wide-ranging and inclusive of all the president’s most serious scandals, from his apparent family history of tax fraud, to his ongoing abuse of office for self-enrichment, to his well-documented attempts at obstruction of justice.
...
A rush to a narrow impeachment strictly on the president’s attempt to coerce or bribe a foreign country into digging up dirt on a domestic political rival might sound strategically sounder than a lengthy and wide-ranging investigation into every other rotten thing the president and his cronies have done. A narrative that is easy to explain seems to be an essential part of a “successful” presidential impeachment (though the sample size is small). But the thing is, I want to know what is up with every other rotten thing the president and his cronies have done more than I want him to be impeached by the House.
posted by zachlipton at 1:40 PM on September 26 [51 favorites]


saying to dethrone this corrupt asshole

Alex Morse is not going to beat Richard Neal in Mass 1, and other than a bit part in the house banking scandal in 1992 (he took several free overdrafts), I am not aware of any credible major allegation of "corruption" against him. (Did I miss something?) He's been reelected almost without opposition for the last 20 years. He's highly regarded for constituent service. And he has a very liberal voting record on all but a few issues.

Asking seriously, what corruption do you refer to?
posted by spitbull at 1:46 PM on September 26


zombieflanders: "LOL. I half expect he'll call a press conference to re-enact the pee tape on live TV before the night is over"

Done.

CW: Pee tape. It's fake. Or is it?
Also: Slate.
posted by chavenet at 1:53 PM on September 26 [8 favorites]


The Pareene article that zachlipton links to is excellent.
posted by Gadarene at 1:55 PM on September 26


Asking seriously, what corruption do you refer to?

I think they may have been referring to Neal's slow-walking the attempt to get Trump's tax returns (Neal wanted to work with Trump on a retirement savings bill).
posted by Jpfed at 1:59 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


ZeusHumms I think one reason why so many people dive for the legalistic idea is because we'd be in a better position if impeachment was more legalistic and most people know it.

If impeachment was a court worried about evidence and producing its outcome based on evidence and law then Trump would be out on his ass in a heartbeat. Most people on the pro-impeachment side are fairly confident that Trump broke multiple laws. So it's comforting to imagine that we've got him based on that.

THe reality, of course, is not nearly so comforting. Impeachment is a purely political process that has nothing at all to do with the law, or evidence. The object of impeachment is not to establish that a crime took place, but to get a simple majority in the House. The object of the "trial" in the Senate is not to establish that a crime took place, but to get a 2/3 majority in the Senate.

And everyone knows that last will never happen. There are not 20 Republicans who will vote to remove Trump. There is not one Republican who will vote to remove Trump. There never will be. So we turn to fantasies of legalism because there, at least, we know we would be the victors.
posted by sotonohito at 2:03 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


I keep hearing this sound bite, even from the president of Ukraine himself. 'There was no pressure'.

Way to play it cool dude. The country you're newly in charge of is in a low level war with Russia and the odds are not in your favour. If your alliances don't hold the fucking Red Army could roll right into Kiev.

He needs to project confidence, I can understand why he'd say he's not under pressure. Anyone else saying that either doesn't understand his position, or is trying to explain away their crimes.
posted by adept256 at 2:16 PM on September 26 [14 favorites]


NPR on their new poll: Americans Split on House Impeachment Inquiry
Americans are split, 49%-46%, on whether they approve of Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and independents at this point are not on board, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll finds.

But the pollsters warn that the new developments could change public opinion quickly, especially with 7 in 10 saying they are paying attention to the news.

"Democrats in the House have work to do to convince people of the usefulness of their case," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey of 864 Americans. The poll was conducted Wednesday night with live phone interviewers. That was one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, but before a whistleblower complaint about the president's call with the Ukrainian leader was released to the public.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:17 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


I think they may have been referring to Neal's slow-walking the attempt to get Trump's tax returns (Neal wanted to work with Trump on a retirement savings bill).

Exactly this. The future of the Republic should not be a bargaining chip.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:17 PM on September 26 [10 favorites]


Adam Jentleson (ex-Reid staffer), with a bit of a different approach (or really trying to achieve somewhat different aims) than Pareene: Here’s What Democrats Need to Do to Pull Off a Successful Impeachment Inquiry. Where Pareene assumes the actual act of impeachment is a lost cause and wants to investigate and record the administration's crimes for posterity, Jentleson focuses on using the process for maximum advantage in the Senate.
Now that a majority of the House supports impeachment, Democrats should plan a process that exerts maximum pressure on Senate Republicans. They have largely escaped the limelight and benefited from the assumption that they’ll vote against removing President Trump. But that assumption deserves scrutiny: even if they do, the vote is likely to be messy, painful, and cost them dearly in 2020. There is a lot of uncertainty ahead, but here’s what a process that puts a squeeze on Senate Republicans could look like.

First, Democrats should immediately start hammering home the fact that if the House votes to impeach Trump, he is impeached. The two-front war against impeachment from right and left muddied this message and it needs to be re-emphasized. Article one, Section two of the Constitution states that the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” The Senate only gets to decide what to do with Trump. Neither of the two presidents in American history to be impeached were removed from office by the Senate, but history regards them as having been impeached. Establishing this principle early is important.
...
Fifth, do not fear the Senate vote—welcome it, and hammer Senate Republicans relentlessly. The prevailing assumption has been that the Republican-controlled Senate will quickly vote against removing Trump from office, allowing him to claim exoneration. This has always been flawed. Managed well, the Senate vote will not provide exoneration, and it has the potential to pay dividends for Democrats in 2020.
...
So it is very wrong to assume the Senate vote will be good for Trump and Republicans—to the contrary, it could help Democrats take back the Senate in 2020, a goal that is second in importance only to taking back the White House.
posted by zachlipton at 2:34 PM on September 26 [54 favorites]


Trump’s getting impeached? I defy you to convince anyone at this cursed truck stop. (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
You think you’re going to find support for impeachment, do you? You dare suggest that this presidency is embroiled in chaos? Well, I am at a truck stop right now to wait out an electrical storm, and nobody here agrees.

I’ve been interviewing for what I figure is at least an hour — the clock on the wall is broken — and everyone I speak to still supports the president just as much as they did the day he was elected. They are happy to say so, even if it means talking to folks like me on a daily basis.

The old man at the end of the counter shakes his head when I tell him the president is beleaguered by scandal. He’s not tied to his phone, like some of you coastal types. He’s not bound even to the latest fashion. I notice he’s wearing an old wide-brimmed hat and rimless spectacles, the kind I haven’t seen outside of movies. He says he’s still with the president, and that he doesn’t pay attention to the daily buzz of news. He has priorities like many real Americans have. […]

The TVs here aren’t tuned to CNN or MSNBC for the scandal of the day. No, sir. They’re playing what appears to be Rudy Giuliani chanting an uninterrupted mantra for the past six hours. When I look at my watch, the hands don’t seem to move, but when I look at it again after my next sip of coffee, it says hours have passed. How long have I been here?

Someone tries to mention the phone call to the president of Ukraine, and out of nowhere, pigs in all the neighboring fields begin to screech, horribly, an almost human sound, and they only stop when he gives up mentioning it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:54 PM on September 26 [54 favorites]


That Jentleson article for GQ gives solid advice. But it dances around and doesn’t directly say as much, but the House committees overseeing impeachment investigations need to hire lawyers (prosecutors) and put them front and center. Instead of 15 variations of the same question, which is what committee politicians tend to do, they need to put witnesses in two hours of live, televised, laser-focused, hot seat.

That is how the Democrats will drive the narrative-by getting their mugs off the TV.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:02 PM on September 26 [23 favorites]


...while the Herald was all THIS IS BAD NEWS FOR WARREN ...

As little regard as I have for the NYT, the Boston Herald is far, far worse. No one should acknowledge its existence, let alone quote it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:02 PM on September 26 [12 favorites]


NPR on their new poll: Americans Split on House Impeachment Inquiry

Nature of the Sample: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of 864 National Adults

This survey of 864 adults was conducted September 25th, 2019 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with NPR and PBS NewsHour. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers.

Fewer than a thousand people, all fluent in English, who were willing to answer their phones and participate in the poll? That's not a representative sample. Also, go screw, Alaskans and Hawaiians.

"Democrats in the House have work to do to convince people of the usefulness of their case"

We need to start with the general uselessness of polls, and then get ambitious, but the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion can hardly make that recommendation.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:05 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


The Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment paper has a section on common elements of impeachments in American history:
  1. Exceeding the Powers of the Office in Derogation of those of Another Branch of Government
  2. Behaving in a Manner Grossly Incompatible with the Proper Function and Purpose of the Office
  3. Employing the Power of the Office for an Improper Purpose or Personal Gain
Trifecta!
posted by kirkaracha at 3:19 PM on September 26 [30 favorites]


The Jentleson piece is great as well. We're already seeing that -- it turns out! -- forcing Republicans to go on record about blatantly inappropriate conduct by the president actually puts them in a tough position. Who would have thought?
posted by Gadarene at 3:22 PM on September 26 [32 favorites]


Democrats in the House have work to do to convince people of the usefulness of their case"

We need to start with the general uselessness of polls, and then get ambitious, but the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion can hardly make that recommendation.


If activists and legislators and jurists during the Civil Rights movement had waited until "polls" showed overwhelming support for what they were doing and trying to achieve, I might still be unable to drink from the same water fountains as many of y'all.

I've long thought the modern left lacks the fighting spirit we saw in that era, but I hope that we can recover at least some of that old time strength and keep marching forward with this because, as with civil rights, it's the right thing to do on behalf of our citizens and because we need to show the world that we do actually believe in a few of those principles and noble values declaimed by our founders.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:36 PM on September 26 [100 favorites]


Sounds like there's interest in the fast and narrow approach. WaPo, Democrats eye quick impeachment probe of Trump as freshmen push for focus on Ukraine
House Democratic leaders are eyeing a fast-paced investigation into the possible impeachment of President Trump, instructing the committees handling the probe to wrap up their findings within weeks in hopes of concluding before the holiday season.

Multiple Democratic lawmakers and congressional aides said there is no formal timeline for the inquiry, but the “need for speed,” as one aide put it, comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is under pressure from vulnerable freshmen to keep the investigation narrowly focused and disciplined.
...
Pelosi and other leaders huddled in a basement conference room Thursday evening with more than a dozen “front-liner” members representing the toughest districts for incumbent Democrats to discuss the fledgling probe and, in the words of multiple attendees, “get on the same page.”

Inside the room, the group urged the leadership to keep the messaging around impeachment on national security and the Ukraine probe being led by the House Intelligence Committee and Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) — not on the litany of potential Trump offenses being investigated by other panels, including the House Judiciary Committee, which traditionally takes the lead in impeachment proceedings.
...
Following the two-week recess, the House is scheduled to be in session for the last three weeks of October, then after another one-week recess, another two weeks in session before Thanksgiving. Some Democratic lawmakers and aides said Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations, that they believed impeachment articles could be ready for a House vote around that time.
posted by zachlipton at 4:45 PM on September 26 [3 favorites]


Finally.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:46 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


...the group urged the leadership to keep the messaging around impeachment on national security and the Ukraine probe [...] — not on the litany of potential Trump offenses being investigated by other panels

Extremely cool and normal that the opposition party is literally having trouble deciding which of the litany of offenses committed by the president to bother including in their impeachment case.
posted by smokysunday at 5:10 PM on September 26 [21 favorites]


Extremely cool and normal that the opposition party is literally having trouble deciding which of the litany of offenses committed by the president to bother including in their impeachment case.

Uh. It makes total sense to weigh whether a singular and clear message will rally public support. Impeachment is impeachment, regardless of whether it’s one or a hundred offenses. They can nail him for all his abject criminal behavior after he’s out of office.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 5:15 PM on September 26 [14 favorites]


I have two hopes right now.

One is that the whistleblower, whoever he or she may be, has a food taster, a Geiger counter, and a food taster for their food taster.

The other is that said whistleblower's first or last name simply must turn out to begin with the letter Q, for maximum head-splodery.

Please let me have this much in life.
posted by delfin at 5:35 PM on September 26 [21 favorites]


I've been listening to NPR this evening and it's pretty interesting how much they've diverged from the usual wishy-washy "he said/she said" narrative, including pushing back pretty hard on the Republican spokesweasel and emphasizing the cover-up angle on misuse of the high security filling system.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:42 PM on September 26 [10 favorites]


Uh. It makes total sense to weigh whether a singular and clear message will rally public support.

I read smokysunday’s comment to mean that it’s really f’ed up to have a president who has done so much criming that they can even have the conversation over which crimes to focus on.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 5:43 PM on September 26 [18 favorites]


[A few comments removed and, yes, if you find yourself staking out the same "okay but we're doomed because..." territory again and again in conversation, work on finding another outlet for it than whichever MetaFilter thread is available at the time. Pessimism and concern are understandable things to experience but nobody should be volunteering for the role of broadcasting it to everyone all the time.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:44 PM on September 26 [46 favorites]


Impeachment is impeachment, regardless of whether it’s one or a hundred offenses. They can nail him for all his abject criminal behavior after he’s out of office.

Not impeaching Trump for acts that have criminal elements (obstruction of justice) and acts that don't (emoluments) basically sends the message that those acts are acceptable from a president. They aren't.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:00 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Mike DeBonis:"NEW w/
@rachaelmbade
-- Dems eye impeachment sprint over coming weeks...
-Intel Cmte takes lead on Ukraine as other cmtes wrap probes
-Few, if any hearings
-No set timeline, but some Dems eyeing floor vote around T'giving"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:01 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Pessimism and concern are understandable things to experience but nobody should be volunteering for the role of broadcasting it to everyone all the time.

That was just about the message of Tomorrowland.

Sorry . . . not sorry
posted by rochrobbb at 6:10 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


Impeachment is impeachment, regardless of whether it’s one or a hundred offenses.

I would feel a lot more comfortable if the Democratic rational behind focusing the articles of impeachment on Ukraine issues was because they wanted to focus the messaging rather than to protect vulnerable members of congress. That said, I do see some value in focusing the messaging. This scandal has gripped the public more so than the other crimes. It's straightforward. It's big. It's rotten. I'm actually kind of optimistic that it will gain traction among the same Republicans that voted for the blue wave candidates. Republicans may have created disdain for their party that will last a generation.
posted by xammerboy at 6:14 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


That NPR interview this evening was quite something, if you mean the one with Audie Cornish. I’ve never heard her push back that hard.
posted by centrifugal at 6:22 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


Trivia: Trump's approval rating at the start of this week briefly reached 43.1% in the FiveThirtyEight polling average. This was the highest it has been in almost a year, and is tied with just one other day for the highest approval in the past 2.5 years. Not that the highs are very different from the lows; Trump's approval has been very stable overall.

The average has already been dragged down a bit by the latest polls, and I expect it to fall a few points farther while impeachment is the top story. (Trump's approval rating is usually highest when he hasn't been in the news recently.)

More trivia: From the French media this week, I learned that the French word for "impeachment" is destitution.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:33 PM on September 26 [11 favorites]


I don’t get the argument over whether to impeach him for one thing or many things. Why can’t they immediately get this whistleblower incident through to an impeachment vote that they easily win, then proceed the very next moment with an additional charge, and then another, and another as long as they have investigations turning up high crimes and misdemeanors, all while spinning off criminal matters into state courts?
posted by odinsdream at 6:41 PM on September 26 [9 favorites]


-No set timeline, but some Dems eyeing floor vote around T'giving"

Well, that should really bring families closer for the holidays.
posted by nubs at 6:42 PM on September 26 [30 favorites]


The Latest: Democrats accuse Trump of witness intimidation (AP)
The chairmen of the foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees say, “The President’s comments today constitute reprehensible witness intimidation and an attempt to obstruct Congress’ impeachment inquiry.” [...]

Reps. Eliot Engel, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings suggest Trump’s efforts to interfere with the potential witness could be unlawful. They add, “Threats of violence from the leader of our country have a chilling effect on the entire whistleblower process, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security.”
posted by katra at 6:45 PM on September 26 [17 favorites]


So, uh. 2 months is what qualifies as a "sprint" now?
posted by schmod at 6:50 PM on September 26 [3 favorites]


WSJ, Giuliani Sits at the Center of the Ukraine Controversy with the holy shit paragraph emboldened for your convenience:
In mid-July, a week before his call with Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Trump directed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine. Lower-level officials were told of the decision on July 18, the Journal has reported, one day before Mr. Volker reached out to Mr. Giuliani about meeting with Mr. Yermak. The White House has said the aid was put on hold because the president wanted European countries to contribute more to Ukraine. The aid was released this month.

Mr. Giuliani in television appearances over the summer had repeatedly singled out Ukraine over corruption, putting pressure on Mr. Zelensky’s new administration, which won election in April.

In July, Mr. Yermak called Mr. Giuliani to ask him to tone it down, according to a person familiar with the call. Mr. Giuliani in response suggested that Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma, the person said.

In early August, Mr. Giuliani met in Madrid with Mr. Yermak, in the meeting Mr. Volker had helped arrange. U.S. officials described the meeting to the whistleblower as a “direct followup” to Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky about the “cases” they discussed.

Mr. Giuliani described Mr. Yermak as “very receptive” to their conversation and said he subsequently briefed Mr. Volker on the meeting. A person familiar with the conversation said Mr. Yermak told Mr. Giuliani that the Ukrainian president didn’t want to get embroiled in U.S. politics.
posted by zachlipton at 6:51 PM on September 26 [21 favorites]


The Daily Beast: Trump Ponders Violent Retribution as the White House Projects Impeachment Calm
Over the past few days, the president has helped raise millions for the 2020 fight and has been lavished with praise by world leaders. And yet he’s remained, through it all, obsessed over the scandal unfolding back in Washington, D.C., as Democratic members of Congress inched closer to impeachment proceedings. According to three people with knowledge of the situation, Trump has compulsively monitored TV and cable-news coverage of the Ukraine-related scandal and has repeatedly asked those around him about the whistleblower and rumors that the complainant is hostile to or biased against him.

Through it all, the president’s demeanor and approach to the rapidly unfolding scandal has vacillated between spoiling for a fight and hoping for a détente. Often, it depended on who he was talking to or what setting he found himself in. According to those in attendance at his Thursday breakfast fundraiser, the president was upbeat and fired up, telling donors that he and his political team were ready to punch back hard. In private, however, there was genuine consternation regarding how a brutal impeachment process would affect his legacy and his White House, with much of his staff sharing those same anxieties. Those close to Trump say the president never expected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to back any major impeachment moves—at least not until this week.[…]

And yet, despite having compared the whistleblower and his or her sources to spies who had committed treason, when Trump returned to the White House on Thursday, the senior White House official said, he told his lieutenants that there was no current need to start a “war room” or any special initiative to combat impeachment fever.

A report that Trump was bringing back his former 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to spearhead such an effort, the official said, was an attempt at “self-aggrandizement” by those officials on the outside. And the White House, indeed, subsequently denied the reports. In the president’s inner circle, some continued to believe that the rush to embrace impeachment by Democratic leadership amounted to a politically tinged bluff.
That's a bold strategy, Tom. Let's see if it pays off.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:53 PM on September 26 [3 favorites]


Few hearings is a bad strategy imho. Hearings mean bad headlines for Trump and Dem control of the news cycle. They only waste time if, for whatever dumbass reason, you're having congresspeople run the show instead of actual lawyers.

So, uh. 2 months is what qualifies as a "sprint" now?

From the beginning of the Congressional inquiry to the articles of impeachment, Nixon's impeachment took 9 months. Clinton took 3 months (this is not counting any time before the release of the Starr report). So 2 months would be pretty fast, relatively.
posted by Jpfed at 6:56 PM on September 26 [20 favorites]


So, uh. 2 months is what qualifies as a "sprint" now?

If they're not going to pull on any of the many shocking strings alluded to in the whistleblower's complaint or have hearings of obviously dissembling witnesses geared towards shaping and setting public opinion of the criminal enterprise currently being operated from the White House, including doing what they can to further implicate Pence, Pompeo, Barr, Mulvaney, etc. etc. in obvious malfeasance or criminality and force Republican senators to take patently laughable stances in defense of their insane clown boss that could hurt them in 2020?

Yes, then 2 months would absolutely qualify as a sprint, and it would be a deeply stupid strategy that would absolutely hurt us in the long run
posted by Gadarene at 7:03 PM on September 26 [23 favorites]


@Susan_Hennessey: This is a significant development.

CIA GC was aware of complaint & told NSC lawyer and DOJ. AAG for National Security reviewed call transcript, decided to notify Deputy AG and head of criminal division.

Translation: USG lawyers saw transcript and viewed it as possible crime.

(Tweet cites a NYT article, but it's paywalled.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:24 PM on September 26 [23 favorites]


Wasn't Mueller's testimony 2 months ago? It seems forever ago. Time just flows differently now. Two months isn't a sprint.
posted by great_radio at 7:27 PM on September 26 [8 favorites]


It might sound crazy but two months is nothing in prepping for even a mini trial or series of hearings, even with a team full of people. When it’s a less-than-once-in-a-generation event (knock on wood) involving the heart of our system of government, two months is like...I can feel panic rising just thinking about the stress.
posted by sallybrown at 7:49 PM on September 26 [36 favorites]


(Tweet cites a NYT article, but it's paywalled.)

White House Knew of Whistle-Blower’s Allegations Soon After Trump’s Call With Ukraine Leader (NYT)
The week after the [July 25] call, the officer delivered a somewhat broad accusation anonymously to the C.I.A.’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood, according to multiple people familiar with the events. The initial allegations reported only that serious questions existed about a phone call between Mr. Trump and a foreign leader. As required by government policy, Ms. Elwood began to try to assess whether a “reasonable basis” for the accusation existed. During the preliminary inquiry, Ms. Elwood and a career C.I.A. lawyer learned that multiple people had raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s call.

Ms. Elwood also called John A. Eisenberg, a deputy White House counsel and her counterpart at the National Security Council, according to three people familiar with the matter. He was already aware of vague concerns about the call. Ms. Elwood, Mr. Eisenberg and their deputies spoke multiple times the following week. They decided that the accusations had a reasonable basis. Mr. Eisenberg and Ms. Elwood both spoke on Aug. 14 to John Demers, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, according to three people familiar with the discussion. [...]

The next day, Mr. Demers went to the White House to read the transcript of the call and assess whether to alert other senior law enforcement officials. The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division, were looped in, according to two administration officials. Department officials began to discuss the accusations and whether and how to follow up. Attorney General William P. Barr learned of the allegations around that time, according to a person familiar with the matter. While Mr. Barr was briefed, he did not oversee the discussions about how to proceed, the person said.

But as White House, C.I.A., and Justice Department officials were examining the accusations, the C.I.A. officer who had lodged them anonymously grew concerned after learning that Ms. Elwood had contacted the White House, according to two people familiar with the matter.

While it is not clear how the officer became aware that she shared the information, he concluded that the C.I.A. was not taking his allegations seriously. That played a factor in his decision to become a whistle-blower, they said. And about two weeks after first submitting his anonymous accusations, he decided to file a whistle-blower complaint to Mr. Atkinson, a step that offers special legal protections, unlike going to a general counsel. [...] At the end of August, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence referred the allegations to the Justice Department as a possible criminal matter.
posted by katra at 8:01 PM on September 26 [21 favorites]


I can feel panic rising just thinking about the stress.

'Total panic' as 'shell-shocked' White House struggles to find impeachment footing (NBC News)
White House officials were scrambling Thursday to figure out how to counter the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, with one source familiar with the situation describing a sense of “total panic” over the past week at the lack of a plan to address the new reality.

There appears to be rising “anxiety, unease, and concern” — as one person close to the White House described the mood in the West Wing — that the whistleblower’s allegations could seriously wound the president and some of those around him. “There’s not a lot of confidence that there’s no there there,” this person said.

White House officials remained unsure of how to proceed, not only because there is no apparent plan to deal with the situation, but because the allegations are so serious that the usual methods the president has used to successfully escape past controversies may not apply: “This doesn’t look like something that’s going to be overtaken by the next news cycle,” the person said.

Another person familiar with the discussions described the mood inside the White House as “shell-shocked,” with increasing wariness that, as this impeachment inquiry drags out, the likelihood increases that the president could respond erratically and become “unmanageable.”

That concern was echoed by another source, who said that some around the president anticipate he will engage in more “impulsive” behavior, with pressure expected to build on him daily during the impeachment inquiry.

That’s sparking worries that Trump could display increasingly unpredictable behavior and lash out in unexpected ways — both a presidential and a political concern in an election year. [...] while many in the White House are battle-tested from the Mueller investigation, this time is starting to feel different, aides and advisers said.
posted by katra at 8:40 PM on September 26 [28 favorites]


“IT’S MANAGEMENT BEDLAM”: MADNESS AT FOX NEWS AS TRUMP FACES IMPEACHMENT

"But even before the whistle-blower’s revelations, Fox was having something of a Trump identity crisis, and that bulwark has been wavering. In recent weeks, Trump has bashed Fox News on Twitter, taking particular issue lately with its polling, which, like other reputable polls, has shown the president under significant water. Meanwhile, Trump’s biggest booster seems to be having doubts of his own. This morning, Sean Hannity told friends the whistle-blower’s allegations are “really bad,” a person briefed on Hannity’s conversations told me. (Hannity did not respond to a request for comment). And according to four sources, Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch is already thinking about how to position the network for a post-Trump future. A person close to Lachlan told me that Fox News has been the highest rated cable network for seventeen years, and “the success has never depended on any one administration.” (A Fox Corp spokesperson declined to comment.)"
posted by biddeford at 8:42 PM on September 26 [22 favorites]


You missed the best part of the "It's Management Bedlam" article!
The ultimate referee of this fight will be Lachlan Murdoch. In recent months, Rupert’s oldest son has been holding strategy conversations with Fox executives and anchors about how Fox News should prepare for life after Trump. Among the powerful voices advising Lachlan that Fox should decisively break with the president is former House speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the Fox board in March. “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,” an executive who’s spoken with Ryan told me. (Ryan did not return a call seeking comment.)
posted by ikea_femme at 8:58 PM on September 26 [47 favorites]


If you're interested in the "be quick and focus on Ukraine" vs a more sprawling impeachment inquiry debate, this twitter discussion between Will Stancil and Adam Jentleson (who wrote the GQ article upthread) gives a good airing to both arguments and even contains, in a rarity for Twitter, some nuance.
posted by zachlipton at 9:00 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


One thing that cheers me up is that Trump raised so much money so early for the 2020 campaign. If he isn't the Republican candidate – because he has been impeached or otherwise – where do you think that funding is going to go? Not to the Republican Party, surely; Donald has never done the right thing when he has other people's funds in his pocket. Even Republican money wells eventually run dry, and every dollar raised now is a a dollar that can't be raised later. So if Trump does go down, the impact on the Republicans will be massive.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:02 PM on September 26 [38 favorites]


Can a cancelled political campaign just keep the money or spend it arbitrarily on stuff not related to campaigning? I'd think there'd be more restrictions.
posted by ikea_femme at 9:09 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Can a cancelled political campaign just keep the money or spend it arbitrarily on stuff not related to campaigning? I'd think there'd be more restrictions.

The one big rule is to not spend it on yourself. You can donate it to a party, you can donate to charity, you can give it to candidates per contribution restrictions. You just can't buy a PS4 for the den or something.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:13 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


How much do you think a gold plated PS4 costs?
posted by axiom at 9:31 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


$20. Same as in town.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:33 PM on September 26 [20 favorites]


Ryan's had a busy six months: joined Fox in March, went to Taiwan in April as Trump's hand-picked representative, became a board member at SHINE Medical Technologies in August, and as of Sept. 10 he's a "distinguished visiting fellow" at a certain DC think tank -- the American Enterprise Institute.

In addition, "Ryan is also a guest lecturer this school year at the University of Notre Dame, teaching on U.S. government and political polarization."

posted by Iris Gambol at 9:47 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


That NPR interview this evening was quite something, if you mean the one with Audie Cornish. I’ve never heard her push back that hard.

She has three:

- Trump Adviser Weighs In On President's Mindset During Start Of Impeachment Inquiry

- Republican Rep. Tim Burchett Reacts To Testimony About Whistleblower Complaint

- Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Discusses Testimony On Whistleblower's Complaint
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:55 PM on September 26 [6 favorites]


...former House speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the Fox board in March. “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,”

Let this sink in for a moment.
posted by Rykey at 9:59 PM on September 26 [128 favorites]


The rats are leaving the sinking ship.
posted by y2karl at 10:22 PM on September 26 [6 favorites]


From the MADNESS AT FOX NEWS article:

But a person more sympathetic to Trump has told Lachlan that Fox should remain loyal to Trump’s supporters, even if the network has to break from the man. “We need to represent our viewers,” the source said. “Fox is about defending our viewers from the people who hate them. That’s where our power comes from. It’s not about Trump.”

What a freakshow. It doesn't even occur to FOX that it could just report the news neutrally. This is not a news organization.
posted by xammerboy at 12:28 AM on September 27 [72 favorites]


The only way I can fathom forcing the impeachment to stay on such a short timeframe is through the lens of the freshman in congress who have national security backgrounds, who wrote the recent op-ed, and who helped tip us into impeachment. If it is being framed as Trump as an unacceptable national security risk, you can argue that getting him and his unelected/unconfirmed hangers on out as soon as possible is paramount. Which may be a valid way to triage the situation, but does not directly address the complicity of Barr, Pence, etc and makes me hella nervous. But it’s not like any of the others would be able to just slide back into business as usual after that. I have no idea. Uncharted waters and all that. It’s going to be terrifying.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 12:44 AM on September 27 [8 favorites]


The one big rule is to not spend it on yourself. You can donate it to a party, you can donate to charity, you can give it to candidates per contribution restrictions. You just can't buy a PS4 for the den or something.

Can you spent it on an extended media campaign railing against the disloyal republicans who turned on you?

asking for a friend
posted by ryanrs at 12:45 AM on September 27 [25 favorites]


Two months? Why not. This is really cut and dry. "Did you hear Trump ask the Ukraine president to interfere in the U.S. election? Okay, next witness who directly overheard the phone call. Twenty more of these and we're done." Yes, the investigation into all the parts and the coverup is massive, but the part about Trump being guilty of an impeachable crime is a done deal.
posted by xammerboy at 12:55 AM on September 27 [7 favorites]


The one big rule is to not spend it on yourself. You can donate it to a party, you can donate to charity...
Trump to self: ...give the money back? You’re on drugs - wait ...I know, I’ll give it to the best most deserving charity in the whole great big United States... (ignores fact Trump Foundation is no longer, in fact, does not care, keeps money lets lawyers fight it out. Can it be any other way? No, no it can not.)
posted by From Bklyn at 12:57 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]


The President of the United States has focused his energies on making a strong case to the nation against impeachment, using his mastery of social media. Witness:
To show you how dishonest the LameStream Media is, I used the word Liddle’, not Liddle, in discribing Corrupt Congressman Liddle’ Adam Schiff. Low ratings @CNN purposely took the hyphen out and said I spelled the word little wrong. A small but never ending situation with CNN!
[real]
[seriously, what?]
posted by mbrubeck at 6:14 AM on September 27 [58 favorites]


One of the (many, many) things that worry me about the Trump presidency is that these kinds of tweets play well to his supporters.
posted by bardophile at 6:26 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]


However long it takes to get to set up the charges and get to a vote suffices. This isn't the trial, it's deliberation on the functional equivalent of an indictment.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:36 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]


One of the (many, many) things that worry me about the Trump presidency is that these kinds of tweets play well to his supporters.

The single fact of his having supporters plural still fills me with a weird sort of dismay that it would take a polysyllabic German compound to capture.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:40 AM on September 27 [34 favorites]


[real]
[seriously, what?]


He's run this before. Say something so stupid, so outrageous, so patently false that it's "Not even wrong", because:
  1. It forces his supporters to debase themselves to prove their love of him.
  2. It confounds people who actually give a shit about anything and can get drawn into factual refutations of something that was never meant to be a refutable fact.
Ignore it. Ignore anyone trying to draw you into a discussion of it. Don't even bother dunking on it. Someone will do it better. Save your energy.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 AM on September 27 [37 favorites]


If my father sent me an email that was that incoherent, I'd drop what I was doing and drive two hours to check on him.
posted by diogenes at 6:47 AM on September 27 [70 favorites]


[seriously, what?]
One of the (many, many) things that worry me about the Trump presidency is that these kinds of tweets play well to his supporters.

Right, it's....disturbing. How anyone could see that and think that the person who wrote it should be President is beyond me. But this kind of thing is, I suppose, what a lot of these voters admire in Trump. It's how he got the nomination, after all: schoolyard taunts and insults at Cruz and Rubio and Jeb! and the rest. That and telling the Fox News set that all the asylum seekers are disease-carrying rapists.
posted by thelonius at 6:47 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]


Right, it's....disturbing. How anyone could see that and think that the person who wrote it should be President is beyond me. But this kind of thing is, I suppose, what a lot of these voters admire in Trump.

It is, exactly. They get off on him "owning the libs" with his nonsense. This comic distills the whole thing down to four panels.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:51 AM on September 27 [45 favorites]


It’s not the schoolyard insults I’m observing here, it’s that he thinks Liddle is spelled correctly if you add an apostrophe to the end. What is he even thinking he’s thinking here? Usually I can guess what he thinks he’s saying but here I’m at a total loss.

Anyway, I suggest we call him President’ from now on.
posted by argybarg at 7:15 AM on September 27 [13 favorites]


To show you how dishonest the LameStream Media is, I used the word Liddle’, not Liddle

Trump's long game is to just drive us all out of our minds so we can't accomplish anything at all. (also he clearly thinks he's saying "Lil'",like "Lil' Jon" who was on the Apprentice)
posted by dis_integration at 7:15 AM on September 27 [23 favorites]


All anecdotal but - The core of proud Trump voters likes his Twitter, but the bigger (but dwindling) pool of shy/secretive Trump voters who are in it for the tax breaks, the judges, and the stock market thinks it’s embarrassing and prefer to ignore that it exists. These are the suburban and white collar Trump voters the Dems have been steadily making inroads with who identify as “independents.” In their ideal world they could pretend Trump didn’t exist and a cardboard cutout of Mitt Romney is sitting in the Oval. So the splashier Trump gets, the more whatever iota of conscience they possess starts making itself felt.
posted by sallybrown at 7:17 AM on September 27 [11 favorites]


zachlipton, quoting Alex Pareene: I want to know what is up with every other rotten thing the president and his cronies have done more than I want him to be impeached by the House.

Um, we can have both. We do have both:

kirkaracha: Tracking 30 Investigations Related to Trump (New York Times)

There are currently 12 congressional (and 10 federal criminal investigations) into Trump. The article has easily-understood summaries of each one. So that should be at least a couple of potential impeachment counts.


Don't stop trying to impeach Trump because you want to know Everything Bad That's Happening -- there are already people looking into this, and others documenting all the public articles, like OnceUponATime's .


xammerboy, quoting an anonymous source at Fox: Fox is about defending our viewers from the people who hate them.

Or, just hear me out, start preaching some empathy instead of fear and loathing of other humans.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:18 AM on September 27 [10 favorites]


Welcome to the Trump' era.

It can be like the * on a sport stat, but for pols.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:18 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]


It’s not the schoolyard insults I’m observing here, it’s that he thinks Liddle is spelled correctly if you add an apostrophe to the end.

Trolling is a art.
posted by Foosnark at 7:19 AM on September 27 [7 favorites]


I have to say it: hyphen?!
posted by mabelstreet at 7:20 AM on September 27 [47 favorites]


However long it takes to get to set up the charges and get to a vote suffices. This isn't the trial, it's deliberation on the functional equivalent of an indictment.

But they are staring down the dilemma that Dems control the House, but not the Senate. Whatever control they want to have of the process they can only flex now. They can’t guarantee full public hearings once this leaves the House. And because the process is so extraordinarily rare, there aren’t many limits or rules about how to structure it. (At the time Jeffrey Toobin wrote his book on the Clinton impeachment, there were something like 3 legal historians who had expertise in the history of impeachment. Not many people study it.) Add to that the question you always face with a trial—put forward only the strongest evidence or throw in the kitchen sink—and the fact that what appears to be the strongest evidence is brand new, so it’s not anything they’ve been preparing articles of impeachment on all summer. Two months for this is the equivalent of that nightmare where you realize you forget to drop a class and the exam is tomorrow.
posted by sallybrown at 7:25 AM on September 27 [10 favorites]


LameStream Media

Not sure if CNN or RealPlayer G2
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:27 AM on September 27 [27 favorites]


Stop reading the tweet! It's a neurolinguistic virus!
posted by whuppy at 7:35 AM on September 27 [90 favorites]


This being a Pontypool presidency would make as much sense as anything else that has happened.
posted by emjaybee at 7:39 AM on September 27 [27 favorites]


Welcome to the Trump' era.

It can be like the * on a sport stat, but for pols


Vonnegut would approve
posted by nathan_teske at 7:47 AM on September 27 [37 favorites]


It’s not the schoolyard insults I’m observing here, it’s that he thinks Liddle is spelled correctly if you add an apostrophe to the end. What is he even thinking he’s thinking here? Usually I can guess what he thinks he’s saying but here I’m at a total loss.

He (or Scavino, whatever) is probably just thinking that this is a perfectly covfefe way to get people to talk about his ridiculous language and come off as petty, snobbish scolds. Talking about his grammar or love for hamberders or whatever may be a briefly satisfying dunk but I think it's also probably a role they want you to play.
posted by Jpfed at 7:47 AM on September 27 [17 favorites]


I think the speed at which they plan to do it is necessary so it doesn't run into the campaign season. Trump was gloating that the Democrats chance to impeach him was pretty much over for this reason. I think it's also why he expected Nancy to cave when he asked her if they couldn't "work something out".

I do think the timeframe is doable though. This is like the point in watergate where the tapes have been released. There must be dozens of witnesses to this phone call. Lawyers and intelligence officials are writing op eds saying there's no question the president must go. Fox News is starting to bifurcate and talk about what to do with themselves after Trump.

This doesn't mean there can't be a longer investigation after. There should be. It should go on for years. Everything Trump ever touched should be looked at. But I think Democrats have a very good shot of getting him out of office - actually impeaching him, quickly.
posted by xammerboy at 7:49 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]




Vonnegut would approve

Comment hard favorited.
posted by Rykey at 7:53 AM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Just because Trump shot a man on 5th Ave doesn't mean he should be arrested. -- David Brooks (paraphrased)
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:11 AM on September 27 [16 favorites]


What is he even thinking he’s thinking here?

I think that he meant Lil', but his awareness no longer extends all the way to the fingers all the time and now he claims that it was deliberate because he's incapable of admitting he made a mistake.
posted by hat_eater at 8:13 AM on September 27 [4 favorites]


CNN Business: Traders on the platform currently see only an 18% chance that the president will be removed from office by the Republican-controlled US Senate.

This is huge. Who thought before a couple days ago there was any chance Republicans would remove Trump from office?
posted by xammerboy at 8:19 AM on September 27 [30 favorites]


The [prediction] markets are predicting that Trump will be impeached but not removed from office (Matt Egan, CNN Business)

Him being the first president to be reelected after being impeached could be the Republic's Caligula moment.
posted by acb at 8:19 AM on September 27 [8 favorites]


Yeah, the word "only" is doing a lot of work in that sentence. I would have pegged it at less than 1% until the last week.
posted by Justinian at 8:20 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]


From yesterday, emphasis mine: Now that I've read the report...well, geez, it opens up all kinds of questions. Who gave the order to secure the transcript improperly & why? What other information has been stored that way?

I keep asking myself the same question. Given that the whistleblower report said that Trump's people showed guilty knowledge immediately whisked the incriminating conversation record into a classified system, it stands to reason that they'd already had practice doing so.

The question has gone beyond the usual "what is Trump hiding" to "what else is Trump hiding?"

In any case, that memo is a remarkable document. It, and Trump's feeble attempt to get ahead of the story by releasing a transcript summary memo admitting everything, is a smoking gun. No wonder they're panicking.
posted by Gelatin at 8:21 AM on September 27 [18 favorites]


If David Brooks thinks impeachment is worthless that's a good argument for it, since he has a record of being completely wrong about everything.
posted by benzenedream at 8:21 AM on September 27 [63 favorites]


I think that he meant Lil', but his awareness no longer extends all the way to the fingers all the time and now he claims that it was deliberate because he's incapable of admitting he made a mistake.

He did it to Marco Rubio back in 2016, too.
posted by Rykey at 8:22 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]


All anecdotal but - The core of proud Trump voters likes his Twitter, but the bigger (but dwindling) pool of shy/secretive Trump voters who are in it for the tax breaks, the judges, and the stock market thinks it’s embarrassing and prefer to ignore that it exists.

The Sunday morning prayer at church (midwestern suburb, pretty conservative) has consistently been, among other things, "bless the president and help him stay away from his phone."

I'm still holding out for little more introspection from the congregation on what it might mean to be have to pray like that for one's candidate
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:32 AM on September 27 [10 favorites]


Yeah it's the phone that's the problem.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:35 AM on September 27 [25 favorites]


More than 300 former officials call Trump’s actions concerning Ukraine ‘profound national security concern’ (WaPo)
More than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials have signed a statement warning that President Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine are a “profound national security concern” and supporting an impeachment inquiry by Congress to determine “the facts.”

“To be clear, we do not wish to prejudge the totality of the facts or Congress’ deliberative process,” said the statement, released Friday. “At the same time, there is no escaping that what we already know is serious enough to merit impeachment proceedings.” [...]

Many of the signers are former Obama officials. But the list includes others who served as career officials in both Democratic and Republican administrations, including Matthew Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s national security division under President George W. Bush and director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President Barack Obama.

Career diplomats also include William Burns, former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, undersecretary for policy and ambassador to Russia under Bush, and deputy secretary under Obama; Nancy McEldowney, former Bush ambassador to Bulgaria and deputy chief of mission to Turkey; and Jeffrey Feltman, who served in senior State Department positions beginning in the George H.W. Bush administration and for nearly six years as undersecretary general at the United Nations until his 2018 retirement.
posted by katra at 8:36 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]


The Sunday morning prayer at church (midwestern suburb, pretty conservative) has consistently been, among other things, "bless the president and help him stay away from his phone."

I'm still holding out for little more introspection from the congregation on what it might mean to be have to pray like that for one's candidate


"Lord, let the president not look so embarrassing while he operates the child concentration camps"
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:40 AM on September 27 [91 favorites]


WaPo: 8 a.m.: Pelosi says she prays for Trump, asks that ‘God will illuminate him’
During a morning television appearance, Pelosi said she is praying for Trump and accused Barr of have “gone rogue” in his handling of the fallout from Trump’s call with Zelensky.

In the midst of a discussion about her decision to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, Pelosi said: “I pray that God will illuminate him to see right from wrong. It’s very problematic.”

At other points during her appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Pelosi also accused Trump of “being disloyal to the oath of his office” and having used taxpayer dollars to “shake down” Zelensky.
@MSNBC: Speaker Pelosi says on AG Barr: "He's gone rogue ... I think where they are going is the cover up of the cover up, and that's very really sad for them. To have a Justice Department go so rogue ... now it just makes matters worse."
posted by katra at 8:42 AM on September 27 [16 favorites]


"Gone rogue" makes William Barr sound cool and badass like a maverick cop who gets things done. I would humbly suggest "craven lackey of king dumbshit"
posted by theodolite at 8:46 AM on September 27 [30 favorites]


Asking seriously, what corruption do you refer to?

I think they may have been referring to Neal's slow-walking the attempt to get Trump's tax returns (Neal wanted to work with Trump on a retirement savings bill).


Yeah ok. That’s not “massive corruption,” that’s how politics normally works. If it’s even true. Which I doubt.

So I reiterate, as a part time resident of Neal’s district, that Alex Morse is not going to unseat him and he’s very popular and well liked.
posted by spitbull at 8:46 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]


Yeah ok. That’s not “massive corruption,” that’s how politics normally works. If it’s even true. Which I doubt.

Covering up malfeasance for political favors? If that's how politics normally works we don't even deserve a Republic.

Politics normally should be "if you support this thing in my district I'll support this thing in yours" not "if you help cover up my embarrassing tax crimes, I'll support this thing".
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:51 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]


On the timeframe: I don't think two months is realistically enough time to get anything done, but I do think the position is rhetorically useful. Democrats can say they want to focus, get this resolved quickly, and move on. That sounds reasonable and responsible and all that.

The thing is: this is the Trump regime. There's always more crime. No matter how carefully you pick up one piece to examine it, more crimes will fall out. They aren't even the crimes you meant to look at, but there they are. A two-month time frame is fine as a statement and a projection because it's never actually going to work unless that time frame is the goal unto itself. They will have to extend, because there will always be more.

Please dear God don't let anyone get focused on the time frame as the goal.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:58 AM on September 27 [12 favorites]


Politics normally should be "if you support this thing in my district I'll support this thing in yours" not "if you help cover up my embarrassing tax crimes, I'll support this thing".

Politics hasn't worked like that since before the Reagan era. That's Hollywood politics.
posted by pseudophile at 9:00 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]


Politico: Who supports impeachment? (Last updated 9/26/19)
224 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

11 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

The only independent in Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supports impeachment.
posted by katra at 9:03 AM on September 27 [6 favorites]


How can there be 0 Republicans who find this problematic enough to warrant impeachment? There are literally no Republicans in government with any moral courage?
posted by bardophile at 9:21 AM on September 27 [15 favorites]


One of the (many, many) things that worry me about the Trump presidency is that these kinds of tweets play well to his supporters.

There are cracks forming. The large "Trump/Pence" sign I pass every day on my way to work through rural Ohio was graffiti-ed as of Monday.
posted by chainsofreedom at 9:22 AM on September 27 [28 favorites]


As Justin Amash demonstrates, if they had moral courage they'd stop being Republicans.

(This is also why his approval rating among the GOP remains high even has his overall number is terrible -- people who stop approving of Trump stop identifying themselves as Republicans)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:23 AM on September 27 [32 favorites]


The republicans in the Senate won’t vote to remove him. We know that. But make them take that vote and go on the record.
posted by azpenguin at 9:24 AM on September 27 [14 favorites]


Republicans twist as Trump's Ukraine storm rages (Politico)
A surprising number of Republican senators claimed to have not read the whistleblower complaint by Thursday afternoon as the Senate let out for a two-week recess, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who found the transcript provided by the White House on Wednesday “troubling to the extreme."
posted by katra at 9:26 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]


Here's Trump talking to Zelensky about the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

Trump: "The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news ... Her attitude to towards me was far from the best because she admired the former President and she was on his side ... Well, she’s going to go through some things."

"She's going to go through some things." That's some chilling mafia speak. Trump had already recalled her from the Ukraine months earlier. What more "things" did Trump have in mind for her?

Guiliani and Donny Jr had already been sliming her reputation in public. What more was mob boss Trump planning?
posted by JackFlash at 9:33 AM on September 27 [40 favorites]


Republicans in the House have to face election every two years. In 2020, this will be fresh in everyone's memory.

The one remote possibility I think would be feasible--I feel like this needs twenty more distance qualifiers--is that Senate Republicans who don't face reelection until 2022 or 2024 could probably afford the risk. That's a long time in politics. But even that would be a bet against the idea that Trump owns the party and the party is Trump, and I mean that on an ideological level. Even without his name and his face, I think everyone has now seen who the Republican base really is.

Additionally, even if you weigh the risks against that far-off reelection, there's still the bizarrely strong grip Mitch McConnell holds on Senate Republicans. Whatever he does to keep them all in line, you can bet he's doing more of it than ever right now.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:33 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]


The dream is that the GOP implodes and becomes a rump of overt white nationalist extremists who can never win elections again; the Democratic party becomes the new right wing based on liberal but corporate values; and a new Progressive party arises to take a real leftward anti-capital position.

But as we have seen, white nationalist extremists CAN still win elections (it doesn't help us that they are allowed to cheat) and their intent is to destroy democracy itself before the dream can happen. There is so much money supporting the GOP because it IS corrupt. There's a lot less value in buying Democrats when they have to at least go through the motions of building a civil society that values diversity. The Republicans nakedly shovel money into the trough of the rich while the FOX machine generates astroturf outrage to support them.

We still have a window to fix things, but if it closes in 2020, I don't see it opening again without a lot of blood in the streets. That's why I hope everyone, no matter how far left, can band together and work for the Democrats in 2020, even if you think they're filthy neoliberals. If AOC and Bernie can embrace the party, even temporarily as a step toward a country where the Dems are the conservative party, then you can take that step too. I STILL hear from leftist activists that there are Democrats they wouldn't vote for. Who paper over the fact that Jill Stein was just as much a paid stooge of Putin as Trump is. Hold your nose if you have to (I certainly will if we're stuck with Biden), but the entire GOP is a criminal enterprise now. And it's really hard to take crooks out of power by legal means when they own the legal machinery. We may not love all the choices Pelosi is making, but I beg you all to support the party to the greatest degree that you possibly can. Be the public support you want to see in the world.
posted by rikschell at 10:02 AM on September 27 [73 favorites]


How can there be 0 Republicans who find this problematic enough to warrant impeachment? There are literally no Republicans in government with any moral courage?

The constituents that elected them have said loudly, they don't care what Dear Leader does, just keep him on the throne. Any Republicans left are fairly safe, save for half a dozen (Gardner, Collins, McSally, Peters, Tillis, maybe Ernst) so they're not going to risk pissing off the primary electorate. If they don't keep the wingnuts happy they'll be more than happy to Sanford/Pittenger people right out of Congress.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:03 AM on September 27


Monica Zelensky
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:05 AM on September 27 [4 favorites]


There are literally no Republicans in government with any moral courage?

That is correct, yes
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:12 AM on September 27 [58 favorites]


The "0 Republicans support impeachment" is an indication of Republicans acting as a bloc, which is a rational strategy in this case [albeit cowardly]. There's essentially no downside to voting with your ENTIRE party on any given matter. I expect the Republican House vote for impeachment to stay at 0, since the Democrats have enough votes to pass the impeachment on their own. As for the Senate, who knows - If a vote even happens, it's either going to be 0 Republicans voting to remove Trump for office, or like 30 all coming out with a joint statement and voting to remove together.
Acting individually against your own party line is extremely risky [so huge props to Amash]. The Republican vote count is not going to be incrementing up 1 by 1 like it has been with the Democrats.
posted by smokysunday at 10:17 AM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Moral courage, in a Republican sense, is to express Strong Concerns about a vote and then vote the way your party wanted you to vote in the first place.

Like Susan "I believe Dr. Ford but not enough to give her allegations any weight, and how DARE the public pressure me otherwise" Collins. Or John "I'll vote no on the vote that doesn't matter, then vote yes on the vote that does" McCain. Or Jeff "Look at how fair I'm being before I cave like always" Flake.
posted by delfin at 10:33 AM on September 27 [21 favorites]


House Intel to work through recess on impeachment inquiry (Politico)
Democrats are also considering whether to include 'obstruction of Congress' as part of potential articles of impeachment.
Three members of the Intelligence panel told POLITICO that they expect the committee to issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses as they work to corroborate the whistleblower’s claims.

“We’ll be here for part of the week, yes,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told POLITICO. “We’re going to be trying to schedule hearings, witness interviews, we’ll be working on subpoenas and document requests. We’ll be busy.”
posted by katra at 10:44 AM on September 27 [28 favorites]


Hearings! That's good to, uh, hear.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on September 27 [4 favorites]


Kyiv Post: Ukraine’s Foe of the Week: Donald J. Trump
For the third time, U.S. President Donald J. Trump is Ukraine’s foe of the week. Actually, we warned about the dangers of Trump long ago. He and Vladimir Putin are Ukraine’s great enemies.

The fact that Trump is buffered by a professional government, stocked with officials who act in the best interests of Ukraine and know a lot about the country, mitigates the damage the U.S. president can do.

But one needs to look no further than Trump’s Sept. 25 press conference in New York with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to understand why we hope he’s impeached this year or voted out of office next year.

He praised Zelensky, who he said has “really made some progress with Russia. Keep it going, it would be nice to end that whole disaster.” And: “I hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem.”

The “disaster” and “problem” are Putin’s nearly six-year-old war against Ukraine, which has killed 13,000 people, and its occupation of 7 percent of Ukraine’s territory — Crimea and the eastern Donbas.

The proper response of a U.S. president would be to take the opportunity to tell Zelensky, Ukrainians and the rest of the world that Russia should get out of Ukraine and that the United States will help Ukraine win this war.

Instead, Trump alienates European Union allies and makes the show, like all his shows, about himself and his grievances: ex-President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment drive and the “radical left” of the Democratic Party.

In a departure from the obsequiousness of his phone call with Trump on July 25, Zelensky stood his ground sitting next to Trump. While speaking better English than we thought he was capable of doing, he emphasized Ukraine’s independence, the independence of its prosecutor general and his desire to get more help to prevail against Russia while staying out of U.S. domestic politics.

For these and more reasons — too many to count — Trump is the three-time champion Ukraine foe of the week. Keep it up, Donny Boy, you’ll be working for Putin, officially, soon.
posted by bitteschoen at 10:58 AM on September 27 [20 favorites]


The republicans in the Senate won’t vote to remove him. We know that. But make them take that vote and go on the record.

Being on record is why they won't vote to impeach. A report I saw yesterday said an anonymous R Senator claimed that at least 20 republicans in the senate would vote to convict if it was a secret ballot.
posted by rocket88 at 11:08 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]


WaPo: 9 a.m.: Talk continues about Flake’s claim on GOP impeachment votes
Flake, a frequent critic of Trump, offered his assessment Thursday at the Texas Tribune Festival.

“I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes. That’s not true,” Flake said during a question-and-answer session. “There would be at least 35.”
posted by katra at 11:14 AM on September 27 [22 favorites]


IIUC, the senate makes the rules for the trial, right? So would just need McConnel to fall on his sword (ha) and set the rule that the vote will be anonymous.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:20 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]


If you'll forgive the fantasy, I have a mental picture of an anonymous vote coming in 0-100 for removal - leaving all the GOP senators who assumed at least someone would vote against, so that they could claim it was their vote when confronted by the angry Trumpaloompas, up shit creek without a paddle.

Which is where they belong.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:25 AM on September 27 [11 favorites]


Being on record is why they won't vote to impeach. A report I saw yesterday said an anonymous R Senator claimed that at least 20 republicans in the senate would vote to convict if it was a secret ballot.

As intriguing as that might be, a secret ballot seems fundamentally undemocratic. Sunshine goes a long way toward repairing the damage done to our political system, even if it's not expedient.
posted by notpace at 11:26 AM on September 27 [6 favorites]


My mental image was exactly one vote against removal, followed by an 'I am Sparticus!' scene.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:27 AM on September 27 [12 favorites]


Has there ever been a secret ballot in Congress before? Would it even be constitutional? It's kind of hard to have representative democracy when you can't verify your representatives are actually representing you (much as I'd love to see it happen in this case).
posted by Rhaomi at 11:28 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]


The Constitution is vague, of course.

Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Clause 7: Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law

I don't really know what they shall be on Oath or Affirmation means.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:32 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]


So you're saying 30-35 Republican senators are spineless and are more worried about appearances than the integrity of the country. Hard things are hard cowards.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:35 AM on September 27 [13 favorites]


It's not appearances, it's power and political future. If my principal goal was power, reached through a political future, as a GOP senator it would give me great pause to vote publicly for the removal of the Turd in Charge. Lose the GOP base from your constituency and how do you get re-elected?

Integrity of the country is not in the calculus when you are a power-hungry lizard-person. Take, for example, Ted Cruz.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:40 AM on September 27 [8 favorites]


FWIW, anonymous 'holds' on senate votes are a long-standing tradition, which has survived many attempts at reform.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:43 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]


an anonymous R Senator claimed that at least 20 republicans in the senate would vote to convict if it was a secret ballot

profiles in courage
posted by kokaku at 11:56 AM on September 27 [12 favorites]


Late holdout Tulsi Gabbard has flipped to favoring impeachment. She comes from a D+31 district FFS, it's about time.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:01 PM on September 27 [12 favorites]


Buzzfeed: Maxine Waters Says Mike Pence And The Attorney General Were Involved In The Ukraine “Conspiracy”
“They’re all involved. ... First of all, we have seen that no matter what the president does, they come up with a kind of messaging to defend him. No matter what it is, none of them have had the courage, the patriotism, or the guts to stand up for what is right for our country. So I expect that Pence is part of this conspiracy to try to get Ukraine to do something in a fake investigation and come out with some dirt on Biden,” Waters said. “So I’m looking forward to that coming out in the hearings that will be done by the Judiciary Committee as they take up the impeachment resolution.”
posted by katra at 12:03 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


Tulsi Gabbard could be primaried from the left by Ghengis Khan. She may be from a D+31 district but she's damn near R at heart.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 12:04 PM on September 27 [31 favorites]


"Gone rogue" makes William Barr sound cool and badass like a maverick cop who gets things done.

No, it makes it sound like Barr isn't doing what Trump wants him to do, when he certainly is. Pelosi isn't a great public speaker, but she blew this attempt to tie Barr and Trump together in the cover-up.
posted by Gelatin at 12:06 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


The Latest: McConnell: If House acts, Senate must have trial (AP)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that if the House goes ahead and impeaches President Donald Trump, the Senate “has no choice” but to conduct a trial to determine whether the president is removed from office.

The Kentucky Republican told NPR on Friday that “if the House were to act, the Senate immediately goes into a trial.”
posted by katra at 12:06 PM on September 27 [15 favorites]


In an NBC News exclusive, Yuriy Lutsenko, the ex-Ukraine prosecutor who investigated a gas company tied to Hunter Biden, speaks with Richard Engel about how many times he spoke with President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

As usual, Richard Engel goes in and pulls out the bloody, shit spewing guts of the situation for everyone to see. One detail really seemed to make the whole traitor-POTUS thing even more real and fucked up is that Lutsenko (in addition to having to humor repulsive scumbag Rudy G) has a son in the Ukrainian army who is currently in the eastern part of the country on the front lines with the Russian-backed militias. Way to make shit personal, trump.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


Pelosi isn't a great public speaker, but she blew this attempt to tie Barr and Trump together in the cover-up.

But See Buzzfeed: Maxine Waters Says Mike Pence And The Attorney General Were Involved In The Ukraine “Conspiracy”
“I think that Barr needs to answer some very serious questions, perhaps before Congress,” Rep. André Carson said. “I think that if we are going to uphold the Founding Fathers’ vision of three separate but equal branches of government, I think that Barr should represent that objective.”

Echoing Waters, Rep. Jesús García said that Barr has “appeared to be Trump’s defense lawyer over the past several weeks in particular” and called his conduct “troubling.”

“I think it’s certainly legitimate to take a hard look at whether he has compromised his position, whether he has acted irresponsibly as the attorney general,” Carson said.

Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief, went further. “I am so disappointed in William Barr and how he has stained and tainted the Department of Justice as its top cop. I know he has said that he didn't know anything about the conversation between President Zelensky and President Trump, but I question that because President Trump was quite — he was very comfortable — calling the attorney general’s name several times during that conversation,” she said. “So Attorney Barr will have to answer for himself. I think he should have absolutely zero to do with this process.”

Demings wasn’t the only Democrat to say that Barr should recuse himself from any further investigation on Ukraine.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney also said Barr should “absolutely” recuse himself. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who has previously called for Barr to be impeached, agreed. “He cannot be a part of this,” she said.
posted by katra at 12:12 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


If both Gabbard and Mitch are suddenly warming to an impeachment trial, could it be that the Kremlin has given orders to cut Trump loose? Perhaps the chaos of a Presidential treason trial could be the optimum foreign-policy outcome, or at least preferable to a rapidly depreciating asset in the Oval Office.
posted by acb at 12:15 PM on September 27 [8 favorites]


could it be that the Kremlin has given orders to cut Trump loose?

Briar Putin has expressed concern that the Congress might go looking at the transcripts of the calls between Trump and Putin, which ... well... I'm sure that's just what Putin actually wants to happen, because sowing discord is the ultimate goal.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 12:18 PM on September 27 [8 favorites]


I thought getting all his billions back (and then some) and forever out of US/European control was what he wanted?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:23 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


“I think that Barr needs to answer some very serious questions, perhaps before Congress,” Rep. André Carson said. “I think that if we are going to uphold the Founding Fathers’ vision of three separate but equal branches of government, I think that Barr should represent that objective.”

That's my Representative! But sadly, Barr had no problem at all lying to the Senate in his confirmation hearing by pretending he'd be an impartial arbiter instead of acting as the president's personal attorney.

Still, a running theme emerging from this scandal that's distinct from the Russian election interference scandal is how un-American it is to use one's power of office to harm one's political rivals. And since Republicans like to claim the mantle of patriotism, that charge may be more damaging to them. Carson reinforces that narrative by pointing out that the Founders are on the Democrats' side.
posted by Gelatin at 12:25 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


>>If both Gabbard and Mitch are suddenly warming to an impeachment trial, could it be that the Kremlin has given orders to cut Trump loose? Perhaps the chaos of a Presidential treason trial could be the optimum foreign-policy outcome, or at least preferable to a rapidly depreciating asset in the Oval Office.

I don't think so. It's entirely in McConnell's interests to have the trial, if there's going to be a trial, as soon as possible to minimize the risk that any Republican senators flip and vote to remove.
posted by AndrewInDC at 12:29 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


It's entirely in McConnell's interests to have the trial, if there's going to be a trial, as soon as possible to minimize the risk that any Republican senators flip and vote to remove.

Also, to get it off the table as far as possible from 2020.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:30 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Former Ukrainian prosecutor says he spoke to Giuliani 'maybe 10 times'
Former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko said in an interview that he spoke with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, “maybe 10 times.”
Giuliani was reportedly the key player from Trump’s circle of advisers involved in efforts to convince the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into Joe Biden and the business dealings of his son, Hunter.
Lutsenko, who initially investigated the company at the center of the baseless accusations against the Bidens, told NBC News that he did not know of “any possible violation of Ukrainian law, once again, Ukrainian law by Biden and by the junior.”
Ukraine agency says allegations against Burisma cover period before Biden joined
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) said an investigation was ongoing into permits granted by officials at the Ministry of Ecology for the use of natural resources to a string of companies managed by Burisma.

But it said the period under investigation was 2010-2012, and noted that this was before the company hired Hunter Biden.

...The investigation into Burisma covers a period when Ukraine was governed by a Kremlin ally, Viktor Yanukovich. Burisma hired Hunter Biden after Yanukovich was toppled in a popular revolt in 2014 and replaced by a pro-Western government.

At the time, many Ukrainian firms were seeking to distance themselves from their relationships with the previous, pro-Moscow authorities, and some invited Western public figures to sit on their boards.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:31 PM on September 27 [8 favorites]


The Kentucky Republican told NPR on Friday that “if the House were to act, the Senate immediately goes into a trial.”

"This item has been corrected to show that McConnell spoke to NPR months ago, not Friday."

A bit of a fucking important distinction!
posted by marshmallow peep at 12:31 PM on September 27 [51 favorites]


Lutsenko, who initially investigated the company at the center of the baseless accusations against the Bidens, told NBC News that he did not know of “any possible violation of Ukrainian law, once again, Ukrainian law by Biden and by the junior.”

Sure, but as Schiff pointed out out to Macguire yesterday, its not really SOP to ask foreign governments to investigate transgressions of our own US laws, right? If they had even the tiniest shred of evidence an American law had been broken, wouldnt they have taken it straight to the FBI?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:33 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


If they had even the tiniest shred of evidence an American law had been broken, wouldnt they have taken it straight to the FBI?

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

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

That makes the impeachment proceedings in the House, where Barr will likely be called as a witness, the last defense against complete administration lawlessness. “Just as the president is not above the law, the attorney general is not above the law,” said Raskin. “The president’s betrayal of his oath of office and the Constitution is the primary offense here, and we need to stay focused on that, but the attorney general’s prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes and he will face his own reckoning.”
posted by katra at 12:41 PM on September 27 [20 favorites]


Lutsenko apparently may be trying to partially backtrack there from his own peddling of the conspiracy theory – he’s a bit of a dodgy figure, it seems – here’s a good recap of who’s who from the Ukrainian side:
Yuriy Lutsenko
Ukraine’s former prosecutor general (2016-2019) who helped spread rumors of Ukraine meddling in U.S. elections and the Biden conspiracy.
Lutsenko played a central role in boosting the Ukraine conspiracy.


In March, Lutsenko gave an interview to The Hill, a news website, where he made several scandalous claims. He said that Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Lutsenko’s predecessor Shokin to protect Burisma Holdings. Lutsenko was the first official to voice this claim, helping it come to prominence.

Lutsenko also alleged that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave him a list of Ukrainians who should be exempt from prosecution, which the State Department denied.

He also supported the conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the U.S. election, accusing lawmaker Sergii Leshchenko of receiving money for revealing the information on Manafort.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:45 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


I jumped down this rabbit hole. Trump has referred to Senator Bob Corker as Liddle' with an apostrophe (Twitter) and has called Schiff Liddle', once before.

Trump also made this statement regarding calling Senator Marco Rubio, Liddle (no apostrophe).

“Lyin’ Ted Cruz comes here with a Bible. Lyin’ Ted!” Trump said. The Republican presidential front runner then emphasized the correct spelling of the adjective is “L-Y-I-N-apostrophe. We can’t say it the right way. We gotta go ‘Lyin'”

Trump has also been calling Florida Sen. Marco Rubio what sounded like “Little Marco.” But Trump explained Sunday the correct spelling for the insult is “L-I-D-D-L-E,” with the double-Ds apparently adding more derision.


Through Google I found no instance of anyone else using Liddle or Liddle' as an insult or descriptor outside of Trump.

To paraphrase Captain Queeg:

Ah, but the apostrophes, that's, that's where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room dictionary did exist, and I've had produced that key if they hadn't pulled the Caine out of action.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:53 PM on September 27 [10 favorites]


Point: The elite consensus on impeachment: We're deeply sad and wish it would go away (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon)
With NYT columnists Frank Bruni and David Brooks leading the way, the media-political caste is so very troubled
Counterpoint: Think impeachment will help Trump? He's sure not acting like it (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
If you believe impeachment will backfire to Trump's benefit, then why is he behaving like a cornered rat?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:54 PM on September 27 [17 favorites]


Lutsenko apparently may be trying to partially backtrack there from his own peddling of the conspiracy theory – he’s a bit of a dodgy figure, it seems –

Who’s who in the whistleblower complaint (WaPo)
According to the complaint, Giuliani circumvented the U.S. diplomats to contact Lutsenko and Zelenky’s team.
posted by katra at 12:54 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


If you believe impeachment will backfire to Trump's benefit, then why is he behaving like a cornered rat?

Because he needs to keep the base agitated to ensure his acquitters in the Senate will acquit him.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:58 PM on September 27


Is his insistence on the apostrophes as part of the spelling some kind of weird sovereign citizen moon law thing? Like, "No, no, it's important that I said "lyin'", that means you can't sue me for libel!"
posted by biogeo at 1:04 PM on September 27 [21 favorites]


Has there ever been a secret ballot in Congress before? Would it even be constitutional?

Voice votes are effectively secret, unless either chamber permits highly directional microphones. Division or older-style teller votes were partially anonymous -- someone present in the chamber would know which way you'd voted but there was no record of it. So, yeah, it's fine.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:10 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


I mean, folks, for real - were already (probably validly) speculating on circumstances under which trump would effort to stay in power even if he lost an election/was termed out - and you think he'd accept the results of an anonymous vote of US Senators?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:12 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


I think it's just that "Lyin' Ted" sounds better than "Lying Ted". Part of a good insult is its sound. The transition from "ng" to "t" requires the point of contact between your tongue and the roof of your mouth to go from the back of your mouth to the front. It sounds stilted and awkward. The transition from "n" to "t" is much simpler.
posted by Jpfed at 1:16 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Semi-random thought I just had:

There is all sorts of punditry right now about how “divisive” an impeachment would be. The country is already so divided, blah blah blah...

Baloney.

The only way impeachment is divisive is if it’s unsuccessful. A successful impeachment requires 2/3 agreement in the Senate. That isn’t divisive, that’s the definition of bipartisan. It will require you make strong case that speaks to more than just your usual supporters.

So. Democrats in the House. Make your case. Call witnesses. Obtain records. Talk to your constituents and colleagues. Explain the principles you seek to uphold and you can start to repair some of what Trump has torn asunder.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:22 PM on September 27 [34 favorites]


From CNN, "Pompeo subpoenaed by House committees for failure to produce Ukraine documents":
The chairmen of three House committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday over his failure to produce answers about Ukraine.

"Pursuant to the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry, we are hereby transmitting a subpoena that compels you to produce the documents set forth in the accompanying schedule by October 4, 2019," the chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees wrote in a letter to Pompeo.

In addition to the subpoena, Reps. Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings informed the top US diplomat in a separate letter that they had scheduled depositions for five State Department officials who have been mentioned in relation to the inquiry -- Ambassador Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch, Ambassador Kurt Volker, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl and Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
posted by mhum at 1:32 PM on September 27 [19 favorites]


0 1 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

Amodei on Trump impeachment inquiry: ‘Let’s put it through the process and see what happens’
Rep. Mark Amodei supports the House’s inquiry into whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, but is withholding judgment on whether Trump has crossed the legal line.
Amodei represents Nevada's 2nd congressional district.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:49 PM on September 27 [20 favorites]


“First on @ABC: AG Barr has been on official travel in Italy for the past two days, during a week where he has faced intensifying scrutiny over his role in how the DOJ handled the IC's whistleblower complaint. It's unclear why the trip was only just revealed.”(tweet)

You know, as lovely as that must have been for him, there’s zero reason for the U.S. Attorney General to be abroad in a professional capacity, and it seems like an inopportune time for a personal trip.
posted by sallybrown at 1:52 PM on September 27 [41 favorites]


Now that things are at the inquiry level, does that finally give the House the legal weight to compel testimony, at the cost of real — criminal — consequences for any Trump staffer who refuses to show up and answer questions?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:53 PM on September 27


A progressive Democrat friend of mine was very surprised to find this email in his inbox this morning:

"[redacted]:
The 2020 Democrats are floundering. They’re quickly realizing that NONE of them stand a chance of winning in 2020. I’ve been busy working day and night to deliver for YOU, but the BIG GOVERNMENT SOCIALISTS like Sleepy Joe, Crazy Bernie, and Pocahontas won’t go down without a fight. They’re firing up their base of MEGA HOLLYWOOD DONORS to rescue their campaigns, which is why I really need you to step up, [redacted].

I asked my team to pull your donor file, and I'll be honest, I was disappointed to see that you haven’t contributed. I thought it was a mistake, but take a look for yourself:

OFFICIAL DONOR RECORD
Name: [redacted]
First Donation Date: N/A
Total Donations: 0
Total Amount Given: $0
Donor Status: 🚨 MISSING 🚨

I want to do something so HUGE and so INCREDIBLE, the Left won’t be able to ignore how strong our movement is.

I want to raise $3,000,000 by September 30th at 11:59 PM to finish the quarter STRONG. Your FIRST contribution is so important that I’ve activated a QUADRUPLE-MATCH just for YOU.

Will you help me, [redacted]?

I want to know who stood with me when it mattered most so I’ve asked my team to send me a list of EVERY AMERICAN PATRIOT who donates - I know I’ll see your name on that list.

Donald J. Trump
President of the United States"

I'm very curious about what will become of this $3 mil if the impeachment goes through. I don't imagine he'll be prone to share it with the RNC. And, as my friend pointed out, "How the hell did I get on this mailing list?!"
posted by biddeford at 1:53 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


I got a similar text last night, biddeford, soliciting money from me for Trump. It almost makes me wonder if they're deliberately trolling. But maybe not, because I occasionally get texts during election season urging me to vote for Republicans. I think they just suck at targeting.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:56 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Based on five minutes of googling, I'm of the opinion both an oath and an affirmation need to be spoken.

Also, the correct spelling would be "Li'l," as in "Li'l Abner" or "Li'l Punkin Prez."
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:56 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


> Now that things are at the inquiry level, does that finally give the House the legal weight to compel testimony, at the cost of real — criminal — consequences for any Trump staffer who refuses to show up and answer questions?

From the Pompeo subpoena:

“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry”
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:01 PM on September 27 [31 favorites]


Other senators beg to see the nothingburger Lindsey Graham sees (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Graham emitted another heavy sigh. “Have you considered that the problem after all might not lie with the president, but with you?”

“I had not considered that," Romney said, a little uneasily. “Please, I look at the transcript of the president’s call to the president of Ukraine, and I am, quite frankly, disappointed and put off. It looks like the kind of thing you would not want your president to be doing. I want to see something different. If you would tell me how to see that, it would be a great weight off my mind. I want to see what you see."

Graham looked on, unruffled. “That is good," he said. “To want that. That is the first step. For all of you. You wish to be like me, and I see no crimes here. There is nothing here to see. Nothing to fear or be uneasy about — except that you have not controlled your mind. Certainly no reason to leap to something as grave as impeachment."

“Didn’t you impeach President Clinton?" Sasse inquired.

“President Clinton never was elected, because of the emails.”

Romney blinked repeatedly.

“You are thinking of the past,” Graham said. “Do you think the past exists, Senator Romney?”

“Yes?”

Graham sighed. “Think how much happier you would be if you entertained the possibility that, actually, it did not. Think how happy goldfish are. Would you like to be as happy as a goldfish?" He stared at the two of them, not blinking. “I am happy.”
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:03 PM on September 27 [40 favorites]


I'm very curious about what will become of this $3 mil if the impeachment goes through.

Before the campaign is shut down, Trump campaign staff across the country will suddenly discover the urgent need to travel to cities with Trump hotels on campaign business, staying overnight to the cost of $3 million.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:08 PM on September 27 [18 favorites]


Friday news dump! Get your Friday news dump!

Part 1. NYT, Trump Meets With LaPierre to Discuss How N.R.A. Could Support Political Defense
President Trump met on Friday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, to discuss how the N.R.A. could provide financial support for the president’s defense as he faces political headwinds, including impeachment, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or if the idea was pitched by the N.R.A. But in return for the support, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House “stop the games” over gun control legislation, people familiar with the meeting said.
Part 2. WaPo, Giuliani set to make paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference that includes Putin
Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, is set to appear as a paid speaker at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia on Tuesday — an event expected to include the participation of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials.

Giuliani confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday that he plans to take part in a panel at the conference sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

According to an agenda for the event posted online, Giuliani is set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.
...
The former New York mayor confirmed he will be paid for his appearance but declined to say how much he would receive or which group or person will foot the bill. “It goes to my company,” Giuliani said.
posted by zachlipton at 2:08 PM on September 27 [34 favorites]


Now that things are at the inquiry level, does that finally give the House the legal weight to compel testimony, at the cost of real — criminal — consequences for any Trump staffer who refuses to show up and answer questions?

LawfareBlog has a good deep dive into whether an impeachment inquiry carries more power than your run-of-the-mill Congressional inquiry.

In regards to Toddler stonewalling up to now: On April 24, the president told reporters, “We’re fighting all of the subpoenas,” and Cipollone’s May 15 letter supplies various legal arguments in support of this approach. First, the letter relies heavily on the argument that there is no legitimate “legislative purpose” for the request. (Congress’s general investigative powers are derived from its power to legislate.) Whatever the merits of this argument, it would simply not be relevant in the context of impeachment proceedings, because the power to impeach is contained in an entirely separate and discrete section of the U.S. Constitution.

Second, the letter argues that even if a legitimate legislative purpose can be articulated, committees have limited authority to explore in detail any particular case of alleged wrongdoing, because Congress does not need such details in order to craft legislative fixes. Again, this would likewise not be relevant in the context of impeachment proceedings.


... but the real (or tl;dr) answer is, expect it to go to the Supreme Court. Which is conveniently stacked.
posted by Dashy at 2:16 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Trump's Totally Chill Phone Conversation You Don't Need to Worry About
It's a sad day in America when you can't ring up a friend on a monitored line and discuss quids and quos like a couple of Latin-speaking bros. We need to bring back the good old days where one dude could be like "Hey man, can I have some javelin rockets?" and the other dude could be like "Hmm, maybe. Say, unrelated, but do you think you could find any information on one of my enemies? LOL I'm so random. Totally fine either way."
...
The call lasted 30 minutes but the transcript is only about 2,000 words and some have said that this discrepancy points to funny business, but I think it's obvious that there weren't a lot of words because much of the time was spent luxuriating in the comfortable silences that you can only get with your best friend.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:19 PM on September 27 [19 favorites]


Barr has blocked subpoenas by arguing that they fall outside Congress' power to make law, but he can't argue that congress doesn't have the power to impeach. The power to impeach is not implied, but written in black and white in the Constitution.
posted by xammerboy at 2:20 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


I'm still predicting that if Barr obstructing an impeachment investigation goes to the Supreme Court there will be a Bush v Gore moon law pants on the head insane 5-4 ruling that it is indeed perfectly cromulent for the Attorney General to withhold any and all documents that a Democratic inquest might request, complete with an addendum that it was a one off decision that should not and cannot ever be used as precedent for any later decisions.
posted by sotonohito at 2:26 PM on September 27 [39 favorites]


"Hmm, maybe. Say, unrelated, but do you think you could find any information on one of my enemies? LOL I'm so random. Totally fine either way."

I have to point out that what Trump said was actually so much worse. More like: "I am not giving you missiles until you give me documents proving Biden is corrupt. Also, they should show you fixed our last election, not Russia. Talk to the head of my "Justice" department privately. Or my personal lawyer, there's no difference."
posted by xammerboy at 2:30 PM on September 27 [17 favorites]


It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or if the idea was pitched by the N.R.A. But in return for the support, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House “stop the games” over gun control legislation, people familiar with the meeting said.

"I give you money to help fix your little quid pro quo problem, and you do me a political favor." This is... this is even more blatant corruption than the Ukraine conversation, right? RIGHT?

Hot Takes:
1) Seems nearly unspinnable, although I'm sure a way will be found
2) Trump sure seems to think that the impeachment proceedings are an existential threat to his presidency, usual 3D-chess-doomsaying notwithstanding
3) Interesting that this was immediately leaked from the WH to the NYT. The deep state is calling from inside the West Wing.
4) Adam Schiff and/or Jerry Nadler, if you're reading, I hope you're able to summon Wayne LaPierre before your committee(s) very soon. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by the burning remnants of our constitution
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:53 PM on September 27 [16 favorites]


WaPo: 3:45 p.m.: Senate Republicans signal they’ll hold a trial if House votes to impeach
Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to move forward with impeachment, but no one has suggested that the Senate wouldn’t hold a trial. [...]

In March, McConnell told NPR that if the House impeached Trump he’d hold a trial in the Senate, but he hasn’t commented on that since Pelosi announced the inquiry on Tuesday. [...]

When asked if McConnell stands by that, his spokesman Doug Andres said, “I have nothing to add to the Leader’s comments from March.”
posted by katra at 2:55 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]




NYT, Trump Meets With LaPierre to Discuss How N.R.A. Could Support Political Defense

Well, of course, because NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals
posted by zakur at 2:58 PM on September 27 [16 favorites]


Trump Meets With LaPierre to Discuss How N.R.A. Could Support Political Defense

summarized thusly:
NRA: we will give you money to help you avoid punishment for betraying your country, but only if you make sure nothing gets in the way of thousands of Americans being murdered with guns every year

Trump (presumably): i like the sound of that please go on
Is this the bottom? Can we even sink any lower?
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:14 PM on September 27 [29 favorites]


Just for the record, Rudolf [sic] Giuliani is now apparently an expert on the legal and logistical framework around implementing blockchain technologies in Central Asia. Who knew?
Panel session: "Digital financial technologies - new opportunities for integrating payment systems of the Eurasian continent in transport logistics".

Moderator: S. Glazyev - Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation

Topics for discussion:
• Digital Transformation - Blockchain Technologies
• Opportunities for legalizing and using digital currencies in the EAEU with the goal of optimizing and accelerating work on the transport corridors of the Union.
• Possibilities of modern payment systems for optimizing financial flows of logistics projects
• The impact of IT companies on transport logistics
• The ability to monitor and control the cash flow of freight.

Keynote Speakers:
• Nefidov P.P., General Director of the CIS Financial and Banking Council
• Artak Tovmasyan, Chairman, All.me group
• Yan Sepiashvili, Managing Partner of VC SILA Venture Company
• Rudolf Giuliani, Chairman, Giuliani Security and Safety
Sometimes my cat narrows his eyes and cocks his head to the side while staring into the middle distance behind my eyes, as if he is a highly superior being trying to determine whether this odd biped in front of him is, in fact, capable of sentient thought.

That is the face I am making right now.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:18 PM on September 27 [36 favorites]


NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals

I think this is my favorite bit:

The Senate report notes that in 2018, then-NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch repeatedly denied that the group leaders' 2015 trip to Moscow was sanctioned by the gun rights group.

But in a letter obtained by the committee, then-NRA President Allan Cors wrote to Torshin on NRA letterhead after consulting with NRA staff and former NRA President David Keene.

posted by diogenes at 3:20 PM on September 27 [11 favorites]


The U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine just resigned.

Also, the DCCC polled impeachment and sent the results to lawmakers. Top line is 54-43 support an impeachment investigation, 50-44 support impeachment and removal already. After being read a one-sentence summary of the Ukraine situation, 57% say "Congress should investigate this."

An important conclusion (though I don't particularly like the wording of the question that led to this conclusion, which seems a bit designed to reach this answer): “Voters also report being much less likely to support a Republican if they learn that Republican is refusing to investigate Trump.”
posted by zachlipton at 3:50 PM on September 27 [18 favorites]




AG Barr has been on official travel in Italy for the past two days

Is he making a pit stop in Prague, perchance?
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:54 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or if the idea was pitched by the N.R.A. But in return for the support, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House “stop the games” over gun control legislation, people familiar with the meeting said.

When I studied federal criminal law, our professor was like “not sure why so many of you signed up for this class, this is kind of a specialist area and there isn’t a high conviction rate, because a lot of these crimes like federal bribery are nearly impossible to prove.” The way campaign contributions are in this country, and how complicated passing legislation is, you don’t often have clear-cut proof that someone tendered the bribe for a specific purpose, or that the public official took the public act because of the bribe, as opposed to something he would have done anyways. You have to work hard at being stupid and corrupt to get yourself convicted of federal bribery.

But by god, they might just do it!
posted by sallybrown at 3:59 PM on September 27 [43 favorites]


The Times has quietly edited the story to sound less like crimes. It now reads "during the meeting" instead of "in return for the support."

Which isn't unreasonable if they don't actually have solid reporting that LaPierre was proposing a quid pro pro instead of talking around it in the usual fashion that by which we have legalized bribery, but they should explain it instead of pretending nobody noticed.
posted by zachlipton at 4:07 PM on September 27 [29 favorites]


CNN, White House restricted access to Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince
White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump's conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter.

Those calls -- both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump -- were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.

In the case of Trump's call with Prince Mohammed, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation.
...
Administration officials say John Eisenberg, the White House deputy counsel for national security affairs and a national security legal adviser, directed the Ukraine transcript call be moved to the separate highly classified system, as detailed in the whistleblower complaint.
posted by zachlipton at 4:14 PM on September 27 [42 favorites]


But by god, they might just do it!

Well, we're talking about that special kind of contestant who might actually win a honest-to-goodness treason conviction under US law here, something actual convicted foreign spies haven't achieved.
posted by acb at 4:15 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


The speed at which this is all unraveling is breathtaking.

There have to be dozens of network/communications/information OODA loop dissertations already underway seeking to explain what we’ve done to compress time and meaning this way.

Don’t blink.
posted by notyou at 4:16 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


no war, no treason
posted by j_curiouser at 4:19 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


The Nevada Independent is reporting the first potential crack in the wall of GOP House support of Trump on impeachment: Rep. Mark Amodei saying he supports letting the process proceed the way it’s going (not saying that he would vote in favor of impeachment, just not saying he wouldn’t). He released a statement stressing again that he does not support impeachment, just letting the impeachment investigation go where it may.

The excellent Nevada journalist Jon Ralston explains his understanding of Amodei’s comments in this Twitter thread.
posted by sallybrown at 4:26 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


Trump’s Ukraine envoy has a problem named Rudy Giuliani (Politico)
Kurt Volker was a well-regarded career diplomat trying to solve one of the world’s hottest conflicts. Then he met with the president’s personal lawyer.
Note: After this story was published, news outlets including CNN reported that Volker had resigned his envoy post. This article will be updated.
posted by katra at 4:31 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine, who got caught in the middle of the pressure campaign by President Trump and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to find damaging information about Democrats, resigned his post on Friday.

That was fast.
posted by xammerboy at 4:41 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


‘I wish he would shut the heck up’: Republicans sour on Giuliani (Politico)
“I think it would be a good thing if he would go take a vacation,” a senior GOP lawmaker told POLITICO, one of several who declined to go on the record so they could speak critically of Giuliani.

Even some of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill don’t think Giuliani is doing the president or the party any favors by being such a constant presence in the media.

“Rudy’s saying a lot of things and I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters this week.
**tiny violin**
posted by katra at 4:47 PM on September 27 [17 favorites]


Well, we're talking about that special kind of contestant who might actually win a honest-to-goodness treason conviction under US law here, something actual convicted foreign spies haven't achieved.

Foreign spies can't get convicted for treason, by definition.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:50 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Giuliani cancels paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference (Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, Amie Ferris-Rotman and Rosalind S. Helderman; WaPo)
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:51 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Wait, wasn’t the NRA hemorrhaging money last month? Like, in actual trouble and not just saying so to drum up donations?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:53 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


Been away from the computer because of a busy day at work today. Did I miss anything?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:58 PM on September 27 [24 favorites]


Grab some popcorn and sit down.
posted by acb at 4:59 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Daily Beast, Pompeo Grapples for Ways to Outlast Hurricane Rudy
Pompeo is reportedly livid about Giuliani for sharing these private text messages on-air and for publicly dragging U.S. diplomats deeper and deeper into the scandal with him. Pompeo at one point asked an aide if reaching out to Giuliani and asking him to tone it down was an option. It’s unclear if Pompeo or other senior officials from the department have communicated with Giuliani since the publication earlier this week of a bombshell whistleblower complaint about Team Trump’s Ukraine squeeze.
...
Trump, for his part, has so far shown no sign of upset at Giuliani for helping drag him and his administration into arguably the worst crisis of his presidency. At least during the onset of this whole mess, Trump’s attitude was quite the opposite, in fact. Not long after Giuliani wrapped his prolonged, heavily combative interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo last week—a segment so off-the-rails it went viral and attracted much ridicule from political observers—the president made sure to congratulate his lawyer for taking the fight straight to CNN, according to a source with direct knowledge of their conversation.

Furthermore, President Trump made a specific point of urging Giuliani to keep doing TV and cable-news hits in the coming days, so they could train as much media attention as possible on Biden, this source said.
But there also was another Zelensky meeting and another official implicated, now-former DNI Dan Coates.
President Zelensky was in Berlin at the same time as Sondland, meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on a path forward to stronger German-Ukrainian relations. But there was another official from the Trump administration in Berlin that day: then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Two sources inside the State Department say Coats was in the city to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and German officials. Coats also talked with Zelensky in a previously-unreported meeting in a Berlin hotel on June 18, sources say. It is unclear how long the meeting lasted. Two sources inside the Trump administration described the meeting as a chance encounter. The office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment for this story. When reached by phone on Thursday, Coats simply hung up on The Daily Beast.
posted by zachlipton at 5:01 PM on September 27 [10 favorites]


Final season, House of Cards: Trump Tower Edition.
posted by effluvia at 5:01 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


Pompeo at one point asked an aide if reaching out to Giuliani and asking him to tone it down was an option.

I'm enjoying this very much. Imagine having your future depend on successfully reasoning with Giuliani.
posted by diogenes at 5:06 PM on September 27 [36 favorites]


Wait, wasn’t the NRA hemorrhaging money last month?

This is why Trump's meeting with them. He wants to ensure they can back him at the same level as previously, even though they are in arrears. Also, NRA members vote. Their support matters a lot even if not financial.
posted by xammerboy at 5:13 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


Don't know if it's true or not, but I just saw a post on social media saying that Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is being referred to as Monica Zelensky at home.
posted by willnot at 5:14 PM on September 27 [12 favorites]


House Democrats accelerate impeachment inquiry (politico)

House Democrats are moving swiftly in their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, subpoenaing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for key documents on Friday and announcing plans to haul in the intelligence community’s top watchdog next week over a scheduled recess.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) confirmed Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, will testify in a closed session before the panel next Friday.

“This hearing is critical to establish additional details, leads and evidence,” Schiff wrote in a letter to his colleagues late Friday. “More subpoenas and investigatory steps will occur next week, as the investigation accelerates, and we will update you as those steps become public.”

That lawmakers will be working over the two-week recess reflects a growing sense of urgency among House Democrats to more aggressively confront and investigate Trump’s inTrump’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a top political rival.

The three House committee chairs pursuing the investigation — Schiff, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — told Pompeo on Friday that his refusal to comply with the Foreign Affairs panel’s subpoena would be used as evidence of obstruction that could form the basis of a distinct article of impeachment.

“The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the committees. Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the three chairmen wrote.

The three committees also want any information the State Department has about the involvement of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Additionally, five senior State Department officials have been scheduled for depositions during the upcoming congressional recess.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:16 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]




SCOOP O'CLOCK returns, and somehow comes back to the Lavrov meeting? For context, remember that this was the day after Trump fired Comey in an effort to obstruct the Russia investigation. WaPo, Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in U.S. election
President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

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

A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
...
White House officials were particularly distressed by Trump’s election remarks because it appeared the president was forgiving Russia for an attack that had been designed to help elect him, the three former officials said. Trump also seemed to invite Russia to interfere in other countries’ elections, they said.
...
The president and his top aides seemed not to understand the difference between Voice of America, a U.S.-supported news organization that airs in foreign countries, with Russian efforts to persuade American voters by surreptitiously planting ads in social media, this person said.
Just how many more awful things that happened two+ years ago are we going to learn about about in the next week?

Seems like it's time for the House to demand the Lavrov memo.
posted by zachlipton at 5:35 PM on September 27 [53 favorites]


Now One Of Trump’s Court Picks Is Tied Up In This Ukraine Scandal (HuffPo)

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have a lot of new questions for President Donald Trump’s judicial nominee Steven Menashi, an already controversial court pick who is also potentially connected to Trump’s Ukraine scandal given his current role as a White House legal adviser.

The letter poses several detailed questions to Menashi about what and when he knew about Trump pressuring Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, while discussing U.S. military aid to Ukraine. They ask when he first knew about Trump’s call, whether he advised Trump on any matter related to the subsequent whistleblower complaint, and whether he was involved in any conversations about how to handle the complaint. They give Menashi an Oct. 7 deadline for his responses.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:36 PM on September 27 [11 favorites]


Just how many more awful things that happened two+ years ago are we going to learn about about in the next week?

With this one, it feels like the dam’s breaking.
posted by cudzoo at 5:40 PM on September 27 [12 favorites]




HOLY FUCK. 🚨 🚨 It’s happening. 🚨 🚨
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:43 PM on September 27 [14 favorites]


Is this when the administration figured out they could hide troublesome records in the codeword server? Since, basically, the very beginning?

The House needs to figure out a way to go into that server and find out what else is in there. I imagine that's going to be a legal shitshow, because of all the legitimate sensitive stuff in there.

Also the meeting where Trump outed an Israeli spy, yes?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:47 PM on September 27 [10 favorites]




The thing is the moving parts are still moving. I believe that he tried to extort the Ukraine because of his own campaign's internal polling revealing a prospective loss to Biden. When he's cornered, he behaves erratically and illegally, even when cornered for illegal behavior - the impeachment proceedings will drive him to attempt to interfere with the process as he did with the Mueller investigation and the downward spiral will continue.
posted by Selena777 at 5:49 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election because the United States did the same in other countries,

The president and his top aides seemed not to understand the difference between Voice of America, a U.S.-supported news organization that airs in foreign countries, with Russian efforts to persuade American voters by surreptitiously planting ads in social media,


I'm skeptical of the claim that "the same in other countries" is anything so benign as VOA stories that are favorable towards the US's preferred candidate.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:12 PM on September 27 [9 favorites]


Someone on reddit linked to this blast from the past--specifically, August 2016: 50 top GOP national security officials sign letter warning Trump would be 'the most reckless president in American history'.

Where are they now?
posted by Sublimity at 6:14 PM on September 27 [17 favorites]


I got an email from Senator Kamala Harris today:
Harris Demands Inspector General Investigate Any State Department Officials Working with Rudy Giuliani

On Thursday, I sent a letter to Steve Linick, Inspector General for the Department of State, demanding he investigate whether any Department of State officials worked with President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to advance President Trump’s political activities.
That was followed by an email from Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
The President Betrays the Constitution & Our National Security

The White House’s released notes of the call between President Trump and the President of the Ukraine confirm that the President personally abused his office and urged a foreign actor to manufacture dirt on his political rival. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad.

The next day, a whistleblower complaint, which was deemed to be both of “urgent concern” and “credible” by the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, was released to the public. In this complaint, the whistleblower stated his concern that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election,” actions that “pose risks to U.S. national security.” The whistleblower complaint also reveals the White House’s cover-up, specifically, its attempts to “’lock down’ all records of the call, especially a word-for-word transcript.” The complaint reports of the repeated “abuse” of an electronic records system designed to store classified, sensitive national security information, which the White House used to hide information of a political nature.

... What the President has done is lawlessness without precedent, and his actions confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry, which will take us down the path of following the facts.

The President will be held accountable. The House will protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. No one is above the law.
The Harris email in particular reminds me that senators can be taking an active role right now, even while the House conducts its inquiries.

If you have the time, it might be helpful to call your senator and ask them to investigate whatever point is of greatest interest to you: the State Department's role, the fate of the ambassadors, the secret records. Especially the secret records.
posted by kristi at 6:14 PM on September 27 [14 favorites]


I'm skeptical of the claim that "the same in other countries" is anything so benign as VOA stories that are favorable towards the US's preferred candidate.

“We’re all evil, nbd!!” would certainly be an interesting defense for the WH to mount.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:15 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


Well, Putin believes that Hillary’s state department was behind all the protests after their anti-gay legislature. A key part of the Russian meddling was manipulating groups to protest and counter-protest. They even got some groups to take guns with them. These groups weren’t exactly already formed, if I remember correctly they created fake social media profiles and events and then got the word out to people, who then showed up to protest. Trump could potentially be talking about this. Then again it’s probably much simpler: Trump thinks everybody does all the same shit.
posted by gucci mane at 6:39 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


I read that "we do it as well so it's nbd" and I made a sound in the back of my throat that I can only transliterate as "ghrnk."

I was born in one of those countries where that is always suspected, always rumored, but of course never proven.

I don't know how to finish this comment, I wrote and deleted five things. I can't. I, now, literally, can't. I can't even figure out what angle I want to start from. I can't even.
posted by seyirci at 6:41 PM on September 27 [61 favorites]


“We’re all evil, nbd!!” would certainly be an interesting defense for the WH to mount.

It's one Trump has mounted publicly time and time again, to the extent that the Whataboutism article on Wikipedia devotes an entire section to Trump. Remember that Trump's response to Putin's killings of journalists was "Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too." It's a tactic the Kremlin often uses to try to deflect criticism (how dare you criticize us on human rights when you...), but Trump flips it around on us (how dare you criticize Russia when we...).

So it's not obviously clear why this revelation is so damaging when it's the same kind of thing he says publicly all the time, except that there's been a longstanding pattern where there are no consequences for the horrible things he does in the open, while even Republicans become Concerned when the secret version is eventually exposed. But there's a separate issue here, which is the use of the classification system to try to cover it up for political purposes rather than to safeguard actual classified information (though remember that this was the same meeting where he revealed highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians, which reportedly led to the extraction of a US intelligence source from Moscow).

As usual, the coverup becomes the crime.
posted by zachlipton at 6:48 PM on September 27 [21 favorites]


This tweet finally got to me:

Matt Fuller of the Huffington Post: The pattern that’s emerging is the President actively and illegally soliciting foreign interference in our election from the leaders of multiple countries, with White House officials then trying to cover up documents related to those multiple conversations.
posted by sallybrown at 7:02 PM on September 27 [55 favorites]


After Israeli spies were found in the U.S. government Clinton forgave Israel. To some degree, Clinton was not surprised that even an ally would spy on the U.S. What Clinton did not do was have a meeting with a bunch of Israeli ambassadors and say that their spying didn't bother him in the least.
posted by xammerboy at 7:13 PM on September 27 [14 favorites]


Invite China to the impeachment party: Trump says he raised Hunter Biden allegations with his China go-between
President Trump, who has alleged that Hunter Biden got the Chinese to put $1.5 billion into an investment fund, said during private remarks this week that he raised the matter with a U.S. executive who has served as his intermediary on trade talks with Beijing. . . . Schwarzman wrote in his just-published autobiography, “What It Takes,” that he traveled to Beijing eight times in 2018 “on behalf” of the Trump administration during trade negotiations. He is unofficially known as Trump’s “China whisperer.”
Is the Hunter Biden Quest the real reason why Trump messed up trade talks with China? So in addition to pissing on the Constitution, he’s costing Americans money every day for this little charade?
posted by sallybrown at 7:20 PM on September 27 [18 favorites]


CNN: White House restricted access to Trump's calls with 2 dictators
White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump's conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter.

It would be nice to know what Trump had to say to the Crown Prince, since he's been gunning for war against Iraq this last week. Maybe he complimented him on the Kashoggi killing? Offered bombs in return for a wider distribution of Trump's clothing line?
posted by xammerboy at 7:51 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


Trump tells the Russians that helped him get elected that their attack on the US electoral system was no big deal?

Aren't we beyond impeachment to a trial for treason?
posted by JackFlash at 9:01 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


Offered bombs in return for a wider distribution of Trump's clothing line?

Wut ? Hot Air Balloon pants and XXX Small gloves ?
posted by y2karl at 9:07 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


Just how many more awful things that happened two+ years ago are we going to learn about about in the next week?

A lot. Trump managed to give Pelosi a back door entry into the Mueller report, he is THAT MUCH of an idiot.

He's sunk. Lindsey Graham's going to have to eat shit on this one. Let's just hope that Pence and Barr get pulled into the shitstorm.
posted by torticat at 9:34 PM on September 27 [12 favorites]


“We’re all evil, nbd!!” would certainly be an interesting defense for the WH to mount.

Super important to note here: yes, the US has meddled in elections in many other countries, and yes, that is super shitty. Not trying to mitigate this. It's bad. But what Trump is really saying is "It's fair if you meddle in our elections because it helps me specifically."

One of the things I'm left wondering after this news broke is whether Mueller knew about this part of that meeting. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, probably too late to matter. But I don't see his name anywhere in that WaPo article at all and I feel like that's a thing.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:36 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


Super important to note here: yes, the US has meddled in elections in many other countries, and yes, that is super shitty. Not trying to mitigate this. It's bad. But what Trump is really saying is "It's fair if you meddle in our elections because it helps me specifically."

I am not sure if this even matters! Democrats are the only ones who care about what super shitty things the US does abroad.

The issue here is that Republicans are going to have to defend statements that Trump has made to foreign officials. And they are absolutely not going to be able to do so. They are supposed to be the police on this stuff, yet they have hooked themselves to a president who is a fool and a traitor, by their own standards.

At some point, the cognitive dissonance is going to be too much. I'm optimistic enough to expect that point will come within the next week or so.

This isn't a "surely this..." moment. This is a true-to-life-Trump-has-finally-fucked-himself moment. We've all known it was coming.
posted by torticat at 9:51 PM on September 27 [17 favorites]


Also, I don't care what anyone else says, Pelosi is a fucking rock star. She gained credibility by refusing impeachment proceedings for months when such would be based on a totally valid yet compromised basis (compromised unfortunately and inadvertently by Mueller, and actively by Barr). She acted on the phone call readout as soon as she saw it--admittedly given cover by her imperiled moderate freshman reps, but also before she or anyone in Congress had seen the whistleblower report.

She has the political instincts of a shark.
posted by torticat at 10:03 PM on September 27 [47 favorites]


Small suggestion:

Call your senator - especially if they’re an (R) - and point out the allegation Trump gave the Russians a pass on election interference. Then politely remind them of their sworn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

Make it clear they better get to the fucking bottom of this.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:11 PM on September 27 [23 favorites]


Trump's not incorrect -- we've fucked with so many countries' democratic processes, and now it's coming to light.

Why do I not feel better about all of this.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:20 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


Who else remembers this?
posted by brambleboy at 10:24 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


torticat: I am not sure if this even matters! Democrats are the only ones who care about what super shitty things the US does abroad.

...uh, not quite. At the risk of being obvious, the "abroad" cares as well. As long as plausible deniability was a thing, we could all keep some decorum; now? That was the reason for my initial verbalization limiting itself to "ghrnk" and for the subsequent mental traffic jam.

I read this elsewhere but it rings true: This particular impeachment process has the potential to be very damaging to the national interests of the USA. That is just one facet of the sharp, pointy rocks that will have to be swallowed and will do damage going down. It would have been better if the starter event had been anything else than the aspects of this presidency that relate to national security, but alas, this is what we got, this one was the lid that blew off. That's why I still have a lingering "I wish Pelosi had acted/could have acted on something else."

This medicine is bitter; this treatment will hurt.

The alternative is much, much worse. On preview, what tivalasvegas said.

Yeah I guess we can still say "oh he lied, he lies about everything" and that wouldn't even necessarily be false *but*
posted by seyirci at 10:33 PM on September 27 [14 favorites]


Trump's not incorrect -- we've fucked with so many countries' democratic processes, and now it's coming to light.

tivalasvegas, that's true. But given that history, it is the president's duty to try to set things right. NOT to say, to Russia, "it's okay, we do it too"! Whatever the US has done in the past, we need to reckon with. But the answer is obviously not to tell foreign powers to go on and interfere in our elections. I mean... this is obvious, isn't it?

Especially not when the interference under discussion helped get the current president elected?
posted by torticat at 10:34 PM on September 27 [11 favorites]


isn't it just possible that she's not a shark or a ninja or god's only begotten grandmother or the forgotten spice girl, OR a vile principle-free party hack or coward or a loathsome Biden loyalist? is it possible that she's what she's always seemed to be, just a regular old more-competent-than-average Speaker who knows how to count votes, and will still remember how to count votes in her head even when she no longer knows what year it is or how many fingers?

it seems possible to me, but hey
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:36 PM on September 27 [61 favorites]


torticat, agreed. He's saying the truth in the stupidest possible way, for the stupidest possible reasons. But it's still the truth. And so I don't know quite how to feel about it.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:44 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


...uh, not quite. At the risk of being obvious, the "abroad" cares as well.

That is totally fair, and I'm sorry for thinking of this only through the US-centric political lens of wanting Trump to get what's coming to him. Which I completely believe is happening now, and I cannot help but be enormously, bitterly happy about it.

With regard to this:
As long as plausible deniability was a thing, we could all keep some decorum; now?

and this:
It would have been better if the starter event had been anything else than the aspects of this presidency that relate to national security, but alas, this is what we got, this one was the lid that blew off. That's why I still have a lingering "I wish Pelosi had acted/could have acted on something else."

can you explain more what you mean?
posted by torticat at 10:47 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


In other words: let justice be done, though the heavens should fall.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:50 PM on September 27 [16 favorites]


is it possible that she's what she's always seemed to be, just a regular old more-competent-than-average Speaker who knows how to count votes, and will still remember how to count votes in her head even when she no longer knows what year it is or how many fingers?

No it isn’t possible that she’s a regular old more competent than average Speaker who knows how to count votes. She’s way more complicated than that, with lots of competing priorities, some the same as the rest of us, but more so, because she is rich, and she wants her family to continue to be rich, while she also balances the needs of her constituents local (her district) and far (everyone else’s district), which is what every competent Speaker does, but she has done it in the time of Trump, when so many of the old routines have seemingly failed, and all the motions her caucus authored have run up against the Trumpian Wall in the Senate. This week we learned about a phone call from the President to the Speaker, “what will it take to call impeachment off?” “Tell your people to obey the law.” And they have! The documents have flowed, and so have the leaks. She’s done more than count the votes. She counted that this was the moment to sit down and count the votes.
posted by notyou at 11:15 PM on September 27 [27 favorites]


i mean look for a long time i’ve thought that the mythology around nation-states and their purported autonomy — that the idea that politics is about rational debate and representing the will of the electorate of those nation states and etc etc was finally breaking down, and that we were collectively coming around to admitting that the real governing ideologies aren’t about nation-states at all. that the mythologies behind patriotism and conventional nationalism or whatever was finally as dead as the divine right of kings. that the real emerging order was rooted not in the nation-state but in a white supremacist homophobic patriarchal ideology that — with the help of the super rich — has launched itself across national borders, and that the right was cool about being open about that, about how this governing principle has no respect for the autonomy of nation-states, despite being eager to weaponize national borders against the poor and the brown. The right wing’s support for this ideology explains why the purported hyper-patriots who follow nra media have no problem with the nra being controlled by russia, and why they all have no problem with their big orange boy being clearly in the pocket of international dictators.

but apparently the powers that be have decided to deploy these myths against the orange boy? myths are weird and (despite their mythological nature) they are quite powerful when deployed in political contexts.

i guess from another angle that, well, it’s both strange and strangely satisfying when the world suddenly stops respecting certain open secrets — like when weinstein, who was such a quietly well-known monster that 30 rock repeatedly joked about it, was suddenly brought down by the revelation of things that everyone already knew about him. and this is less like that and more like a reassertion that the open secret must remain secret, even if everyone already knows it.

it’s an uncanny moment. it feels a little to me like these revelations are a cover story, that whatever he did to make the powerful wake up about him wasn’t his clumsy attempt to bribe Ukraine, but instead him demanding something much more terrible and dumb, some grotesquely awful demand so bad that it inspired the conservatives to finally throw him overboard instead of just trying to handle him. and that maybe 30 or 40 years from now we’ll find out what that dumb thing was.

in any case i hope they ruin the motherfucker.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:39 PM on September 27 [46 favorites]


is it possible that she's what she's always seemed to be, just a regular old more-competent-than-average Speaker

queenofbithynia, you look at Foley, Gingrich, Hastert, Boehner, and Ryan, and amongst them you place Pelosi--the first and only woman to be speaker of the house, with all the shit THAT entails--as "more competent than average"? Most speakers in recent history have been merely feckless, or bombastic, or both. Pelosi has been neither; she deserves credit in the first place for helping to gain the Democratic majority in 2018, and secondly for walking a difficult but disciplined (and principled) line since then. 

I have a daughter who was a field organizer in 2018 for Antonio Delgado, who was elected in the NY 19th, turning a red district blue in a campaign that was acknowledged by the DCCC as having the best ground game in the country. My daughter's personal views are much more progressive than Delgado's. However, Delgado is a Democrat! and his is one of the seats that Pelosi has been trying to protect. And he is one of the people who selflessly gave her cover to proceed with an impeachment inquiry. 

If you are on the ground working one of these districts, you get to see how difficult things are. I cannot imagine having to make decisions of the magnitude that Pelosi has made this week. But if you're in her position, and have reps with this level of loyalty and personal commitment, you have definitely done something right. If you can read an interview like this one and doubt it, then I don't know what to say!
posted by torticat at 12:06 AM on September 28 [41 favorites]


torticat: Sorry, I wasn't ignoring you, I had to put down the phone for a bit :).

About the latter excerpt you asked me to open up a bit: Since the inquiry now almost certainly will explore problems with respect to national security, given this all started with the whistleblower complaint addressing that, my fear is that however careful the proceedings are, they can compromise security somewhat. Example: From day one everyone and their sister knows that there's a classified separate archive in the White House, because part of the complaint described it as being improperly used. That wasn't exactly classified information I guess, but it's probably adjacent to classified information, you know? And that's just the start. That's why I wish Pelosi could have gone with something based on the emoluments clause, for instance. But she wouldn't or she couldn't; I'm not judging that. And the die are cast.

About the former: If a foreign entity openly declares that they've been meddling in others' democratic processes, and if governments are forced to admit that's happened to them, they may be compelled to take some sort of formal action by public opinion, eg lodge a protest, instead of a don't-ask-don't-tell policy. As we are seeing first-hand here. I'm afraid that it's going to have a worldwide effect on international relations. See also, Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon's fantastic comment.

Once again, these are just my fears. And I freely admit I may be paranoid here. I'm not a relevant-professional anything.

Also, again: What tivalasvegas said.
posted by seyirci at 1:14 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


Re: the US is just as bad

I don't doubt that the US has interferred to greater or less extents in other countries elections. And so it FEELS right and fair to say "well let other countries mess with us." And sure, any country out there can try to fuck with US elections, if they're willing to face the potential backlash of making such an attack.

It's entirely a DIFFERENT thing for a US citizen, a candidate and especially THE PRESIDENT to AID and ENABLE and INITIATE another country's attack on the US. Because that's what we're talking about. Whether psyops or digital hacking or spying or whatever, these are attacks on the democracy of the United States. Sure, everyone knows Putin wants to do these things. It's still ILLEGAL and IMMORAL as FUCK to help him! That's where the discrepancy is. You can't just say, well it's only fair if a foreign country messes with us. YES but you're not supposed to HELP THEM YOU IGNORANT TRAITOROUS FUCK!!!

*breathes*
posted by threeturtles at 1:32 AM on September 28 [51 favorites]


Woah! Wednesday, I went through surgery and was out all day. My sisters sat in the room when I came back, and after we'd talked a bit, one of them said it's been a bit of a wild news day. I said, yeah, I bet Brexit is all over the place. And they just said there's more than that. But I hadn't thought I'd stay overnight in the hospital, so I didn't have a lot of power on my phone and for some reason, there wasn't a TV in the ward I was in, so coming back has been extreme, like being hit by a cat. 5 news-storm.

After almost three years of despair and tiny hopes, is this really when it begins? I'm almost crying.

About the international relations: everyone, within and outside of the US, has known since Trump was elected that the US was in for a big reckoning and realignment when his regime ends. No one can go back to where it was before. I think a country like Saudi Arabia has been trying to get the most out of the situation before its "special relationship" will end abruptly. The Democratic presidents supporting that foul dictatorship have been rank hypocrites (in the situation) and that won't be sustainable in the same way after Trump. Not only because of Trump, but exacerbated by Trump. In the hospital before the surgery, I was in a ward with a lady from Iraq, and we were talking about the ways the US had messed up the country. She and her husband both said they had never heard about a Sunni-Shia divide before the war, (they were both both). Now the US meddling has created a country ravaged by civil war and sectarian division, ironically controlled by Iran. Before Trump, if you said that out loud, old white men could get away with claiming the US had nothing to do with it. Now the quiet part has been said out loud. Those are just two examples, in one part of the world, but you can go on.
Even in a western country like my own, that blindly follows the US on every idiotic adventure, there will be questions. Why are we supporting the current aggression towards Iran? Do we really want lives to be lost for a crazy, corrupt orange mad man?
It's going to be a new situation, and that's always scary. But I think it's for the good.
posted by mumimor at 2:41 AM on September 28 [44 favorites]


I have a daughter who was a field organizer in 2018 for Antonio Delgado, who was elected in the NY 19th, turning a red district blue in a campaign that was acknowledged by the DCCC as having the best ground game in the country.

The transformation Upstate since I moved here in 01 has been incredible. In the most recent mayoral election in my town, the local GOP couldn't even field a candidate until the last minute - and when the announced their pick, he put out a release within hours saying he wanted nothing to do with it.

There's still work to be done. 30 min up the road, folks still use the n word in casual conversation and were thrilled to vote for 45. But people are getting seriously organized and activated, and it's a sight to see.
posted by BS Artisan at 7:06 AM on September 28 [18 favorites]


I love how there's a mini positive circular firing squad about exactly what level of kudos to give Pelosi for her good work. Never change, Democrats!
posted by jason_steakums at 7:19 AM on September 28 [23 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi: An Extremely Stable Genius (NewYorker)
When asked if it was possible that impeachment might backfire, the Speaker of the House insisted that politics has nothing to do with it. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “He has given us no choice.”
posted by bluesky43 at 7:25 AM on September 28 [11 favorites]


it’s an uncanny moment. it feels a little to me like these revelations are a cover story, that whatever he did to make the powerful wake up about him wasn’t his clumsy attempt to bribe Ukraine, but instead him demanding something much more terrible and dumb, some grotesquely awful demand so bad that it inspired the conservatives to finally throw him overboard instead of just trying to handle him. and that maybe 30 or 40 years from now we’ll find out what that dumb thing was.

Maybe it wasn't something so dumb after all. The connection of these events to the constant beat of the drums of war against Iran seem hard to separate from me. The national security establishment has been trying to get us into a war with Iran for months and months, with all this nonsense about tankers and the Yemeni drone strikes, but Trump, despite all his failings, for whatever reason does not want to do it. Perhaps they're punishing him for it now.
posted by dis_integration at 7:25 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I’m having whiplash from the quick swing to Pelosi: Hero or Superhero?

There will be a lot of time to look back on how the opposition party handled this. I personally don’t think history will be kind to most elected Democrats in general, and Speaker Pelosi in particular. But debating the relative heroism is just as tiresome as the constant debates on relative fecklessness. I’m focused on doing what I can to keep Speaker Pelosi and my reps focused on the impeachment process which should have begun 2 years ago.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:36 AM on September 28 [22 favorites]


“First on @ABC: AG Barr has been on official travel in Italy for the past two days, during a week where he has faced intensifying scrutiny over his role in how the DOJ handled the IC's whistleblower complaint. It's unclear why the trip was only just revealed.”(tweet)

You know, as lovely as that must have been for him, there’s zero reason for the U.S. Attorney General to be abroad in a professional capacity, and it seems like an inopportune time for a personal trip.


About a million megathreads, when they still existed there was something about getting your passport stamped in one country and then you could move freely within those federated countries.

1. Is Italy one of those?
2. If so, do any of those countries you can pass freely into refuse to extradite to US?

I think I am reading (the always amazing) sallybrown's implication correctly? Barr may have just gotten the hell outta Dodge (at taxpayer's expense, no less.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:48 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]


1) Yes, Italy is a Schengen country.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:54 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]


When you are inside the Schengen area and that includes Italy, you can move about freely within the whole area of I don't know how many countries. Probably not as an American top official, though. I mean, there is a lot of security around those guys. And I think there are good reasons for AGs to meet with their colleagues in other countries to discuss cross-border crime and stuff like that.
posted by mumimor at 7:56 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


2. If so, do any of those countries you can pass freely into refuse to extradite to US?

Croatia, and Andorra.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:57 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I think I am reading (the always amazing) sallybrown's implication correctly? Barr may have just gotten the hell outta Dodge (at taxpayer's expense, no less.)

These are not people who are used to consequences or the rules applying to them. I think they can't even fathom that they might be called to account and that will stop any of the major people running. I also think it is what will cause one or more of them to spill everything including the time they cheated on a quiz in 2nd grade because they aren't used to seeing this side of the world.

(Even if that is not true, I do take delight in the fact that all of these people must be totally miserable working under someone they have to always abase themselves before. They've always been the people getting that response from people and I doubt they enjoy being on the other side of it.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:01 AM on September 28 [10 favorites]


Neither Croatia nor Andorra are in the Schengen Area. Both require passport control, though no visa.
posted by splen at 8:02 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


Timeline: Trump, Giuliani, Biden, and Ukrainegate (updated) by Viola Gienger and Ryan Goodman helped me with context and sequencing.
A months-long campaign by President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to reportedly pressure the Ukraine government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s potential rival in the 2020 election, has gripped the nation’s capital. The situation escalated following the Sept. 13 revelation of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint reportedly related to a “series of events” including a phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

As these events unfold, the aim of the chronology below is to provide a useful reference for the context and timeline on Ukraine, the roles of Joe Biden and his son Hunter there, and Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to pursue investigations against them. We attempt to present an accurate picture of events, favorable and unfavorable to the players involved.
Recent updates are in red.
posted by kingless at 8:31 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]


> The national security establishment has been trying to get us into a war with Iran for months and months, with all this nonsense about tankers and the Yemeni drone strikes, but Trump, despite all his failings, for whatever reason does not want to do it. Perhaps they're punishing him for it now.

in retrospect the sudden resignation of john bolton, the most psychopathic figure from the old bush regime and a true disgrace to the name “bolton,” seems like a harbinger of the recent turn against trump.

i’ve been thinking in terms of “what on earth could the man could have ordered that was so bad that even john bolton couldn’t go along with it?” but your framing is possibly better. slash, more horrifying. maybe they’re abandoning him because he’s not terrible enough.

prolly though it’s just that he’s gone too senile to be useful anymore and the republicans throwing him overboard so that they distance themselves from his crimes.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:45 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Jeff Flake on the GOP Senate's principles and cowardice, via Fox News: Jeff Flake says 'at least 35' Republican senators would privately vote to impeach Trump
Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake made a bold claim on Thursday when he said "at least 35" GOP senators would privately vote for President Trump's impeachment.

Appearing at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival, Flake, a frequent critic of the president, offered his own reaction and predicted that close to three dozen Republican senators would back impeachment.

"I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes. That's not true," Flake said during a Q&A. "There would be at least 35."
A public vote would of course be another matter. Meantime, this is a signal for Fox's audience to call their senators and circle the wagons.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:54 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


Neither Croatia nor Andorra are in the Schengen Area. Both require passport control, though no visa.

Also, borders between Russia and the Baltic states may be less than impregnable. One of the members of Pussy Riot managed to escape to Estonia this year after the Russian government cancelled her passport, so a dash across the border from Narva, or from Lithuania to Kaliningrad, may be possible (especially if abetted).
posted by acb at 8:54 AM on September 28


I think I am reading (the always amazing) sallybrown's implication correctly? Barr may have just gotten the hell outta Dodge (at taxpayer's expense, no less.)
If so, I think that would be good news, because it would mean that the whole Trump administration was about to collapse. I'd be willing to sacrifice prosecuting Barr for that, but I don't think we're there yet. I'm not sure there's any conspiracy, but if there were, I would go with the one where he's trying to have off-the-record negotiations with foreign agents. I wonder what kind of blackmail material they have on various Democrats.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:55 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Barr may have just gotten the hell outta Dodge (at taxpayer's expense, no less.)

I don’t think he’s trying to escape permanently, I think he’s just an utter chicken and wanted an excuse to get out of town while the heat is on. My guess is he’s speaking at a conference or meeting one of his foreign government peers, the kind of thing that could be easily postponed or he could send a deputy for. His job isn’t like a law firm or a corporation where you’d send the highest-profile figure to appear in a meeting or a court to impress the participants, and he doesn’t have some particular skill that’s otherwise missing at Justice, so I can’t imagine there’s a legitimate professional reason he needed to go anywhere abroad in person. He just wanted a vacation and because he’s a coward he took one.
posted by sallybrown at 8:57 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


I still don't see the Republicans ditching Trump, but if they did, despite their base punishing them for it, I think the compelling reason would be: do we try to win with Trump and fail in 2020 and our donors see the writing on the wall that 2016 was the peak of the GOP before its decline, or do we burn it all down and get punished by our base and tell our donors that we had no choice, it was a freak event, Trump took it too far, but give us another shot, we think we can ride the party out of power effect in 2022 to renewed relevancy and power?
posted by jason_steakums at 9:06 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


Like a cleansing fire in the GOP forest before the inevitable rise of Nikki Haley?
posted by sallybrown at 9:08 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


I don't think you need to look for some Republican conspiracy to figure out that they will dump Trump the moment they can. They are racists and corrupt and liars, but they all hate Trump, they are just stuck with him. And it's not like he's done anything to make them like them more, he's meat-loafing them as much as he can.
I think this is what sticks because it is so obvious and transparent and easy to understand. Now, the task for every member of the Administration and every Republican member of Congress is to get out of harms way. We're not where they are all obviously running away, but I think Bolton bolted.
posted by mumimor at 9:15 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


You guys are giving way too many people way too much credit (including Trump, for god's sake). The only reason any of this is happening is because some CIA rando leaked narrative friendly material at just the right time.

There's no conspiracy here to oust a dovish Donald, there's no grand 11 dimensional chess from Pelosi.

I understand both of those things are more comfortable to think about than the fact that we are currently completely adrift, at the whims of the gods of chaos.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:18 AM on September 28 [74 favorites]


Among the Republican base Trump is still the most popular president of all time. His overall approval remains as high as it's been since Spring 2017. He's been instrumental in enriching the rich and stacking the judiciary.

He's bad at world empire, which is why the CIA and other elements of the military-industrial complex probably want him out. But the GOP base loves Trump and the GOP superstructure needs Trump. They are not going to ditch him.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:20 AM on September 28 [5 favorites]


My guess is he’s speaking at a conference or meeting one of his foreign government peers

But there is nothing like that announced or reported by Italian media with Barr as a guest, and if he were meeting government officials it would be news on both sides of the Atlantic anyway.

I simply searched for "Barr Italy" on twitter and I’m seeing right wingers push the idea Barr is in Italy to meet Mifsud in Rome to fabricate "get" "evidence" on how this is all a big "deep state" plot to overthrow Trump - and they’re quoting George Papadopolous (!) who tweeted: "AG Barr has been on official travel in Italy for the past two days. As I explained months ago, on Fox and in my book, Mifsud was an Italian operative handled by the CIA. Italy holds the keys to the kingdom. Right government, right time".

And there’s this pointing to a clip of a CNN interview with Carl Bernstein two days ago:
Bernstein said Barr is trying to "bring about proof that there is a deep state conspiracy that led to" special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and suggested that this is a story other journalists are chasing. "Barr is trying to deliver — and I have this, as do other reporters from other sources — to deliver evidence that perhaps this has all been a deep state conspiracy just like Donald Trump alleges," he said.
posted by bitteschoen at 9:26 AM on September 28 [5 favorites]


Politico: How Mitch McConnell Could Give Impeachment the Merrick Garland Treatment
It’s on track to be the trial of the century: President Donald Trump fighting to keep his job before a jury of 100 senators. It also could never happen. That’s because of a Constitution that designates the Senate with the “sole power to try” an impeachment that comes from the House. But nowhere in America’s founding document is the trial said to be a mandatory act.[…]

[L]awmakers from both parties say they wouldn’t be surprised if the Kentucky Republican ultimately made the same calculation he did in 2016 when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court — only for the Democratic president to see his pick axed by McConnell under the auspices of letting voters decide who should fill the vacancy in the next election.

“You’re going to start hearing that argument and much more loudly, because we’re not too far away from the moment when voters start voting,” said Michael Steel, a longtime GOP operative and aide to former House Speaker John Boehner. “You’ve got to make the case why it matters and why it rises to the level of removing an elected president of the United States from the White House.”[…]

But political conditions can change quickly in the Trump era. And lawmakers from both parties say they wouldn’t be surprised if the Kentucky Republican ultimately made the same calculation he did in 2016 when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court — only for the Democratic president to see his pick axed by McConnell under the auspices of letting voters decide who should fill the vacancy in the next election.[…]

McConnell himself didn’t respond when asked by reporters earlier this week whether he’d even allow the Senate to hold a Trump trial, though he did show his cards in a statement to POLITICO that the latest presidential quagmire was “laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense.”
With an 18th-century constitution facing a 21st-century political crisis, McConnell has plenty of room to do the wrong thing (the Politico article cites a lot of historical precedents for procedural shenanigans).

See also Obama WH counsel Bill Bauer writing previously in Lawfare: Can the Senate Decline to Try an Impeachment Case?
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:28 AM on September 28 [6 favorites]


CNN National Security analyst Sam Vinograd explains the procedure (Threader link) to record Presidential calls/meetings, to archive the records, and how to handle the required distribution in case something requires, um, distribution:
8. Relevant USG officials need readouts in order to do their jobs, arbitrarily limiting readouts to hide wrongdoing hamstrings their ability to work on behalf of the American people.

Case in point - Barr says he didn't hear about the Zelensky call until weeks after???
(The thread itself on Twitter.)
posted by seyirci at 9:28 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Republicans shows signs of discomfort in defense of Trump (The Hill)
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters when asked about Trump pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help dig up dirt on his potential 2020 opponent that he didn’t “like seeing that.”

“I just think the idea of a conversation like that,” he said. “I know this president operates in different ways ... but you know obviously like I said before, it's not something I would bring up. But at least the suggestion about what was proposed there … is still not some place I would go.”
posted by katra at 10:02 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters when asked about Trump pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help dig up dirt on his potential 2020 opponent that he didn’t “like seeing that.”

“I just think the idea of a conversation like that,” he said. “I know this president operates in different ways ... but you know obviously like I said before, it's not something I would bring up. But at least the suggestion about what was proposed there … is still not some place I would go.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, called Trump’s actions “troubling,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the phone call was “very concerning" and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), after viewing the whistleblower complaint, warned Republicans against “rushing to circle the wagons to say there's no there there when there's obviously lots that's very troubling there.”
Republicans Have Concerns. Until they say "I am voting to impeach" and then actually vote to impeach, treat Thune's "I don't like seeing that" as seriously as we should have treated their disapproval of Trump admitting to serial sexual assault on tape.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:08 AM on September 28 [16 favorites]


For Trump, a high-velocity threat like none he’s ever faced (AP)
The president is acutely well aware that it’s his party alone that can protect him. In the midst of the past week’s firestorm, he tweeted to Republicans: “Stick together, play their game and fight hard Republicans.”

He later deleted the tweet.
posted by katra at 10:09 AM on September 28 [13 favorites]


Republicans might oppose impeachment, but do they condone what Trump did? (Dan Balz, WaPo)
This is not a question of whether the president should stop tweeting or refrain from nasty attacks on his rivals. Trump’s decision to pressure a foreign leader to help undermine a potential 2020 challenger is in an entirely different category. That is why executive branch officials who listened to the phone call or were later privy to its contents found it so disquieting — and why some took steps to hide it, according to the whistleblower’s complaint.

Democrats will have to make the case as to why they think the president should be impeached and removed from office and try to persuade the public why that step is necessary, if that is where their work leads. But Republicans cannot hide from this, even if they regard impeachment as unwarranted.

Right now, through their collective silence, Republicans are telling the American people they either tolerate or condone the president’s actions. The longer they remain silent, the more they contribute to normalizing behavior by the president that is far beyond past standards.
Trump’s fate is in the hands of Fox News (David Von Drehle, WaPo Opinion)
Fox News will need a plausible alternative story line if it is to bring its glorification of Trump to an end. Readers of the political winds should pay close attention to the way Fox News covers Vice President Pence in the next few months. A Midwestern conservative and former House colleague of Ryan, Pence is a readily available narrative twist. If we start hearing stories on Fox News about his brave behind-the-scenes battles to steer a course through the Trumpstorm, I’ll venture that impeachment has gained the upper hand.
Pence seeks to dodge impeachment spotlight as his Ukrainian moves attract notice (WaPo)
Trump himself reminded reporters Wednesday that Pence has had extensive conversations with Ukrainian officials during the same time period covered in the whistleblower complaint. “And I think you should ask for VP Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple conversations also,” Trump told reporters Wednesday as he faced questions about the July 25 phone call. “They’re all perfect.” [...]

The vice president has defended Trump against allegations of misconduct with Ukraine, telling Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs on Wednesday that Trump “did nothing wrong” and “has been completely vindicated.”
posted by katra at 10:30 AM on September 28 [8 favorites]


Case in point - Barr says he didn't hear about the Zelensky call until weeks after???

That, my dear friends, is what we call "a lie".
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:38 AM on September 28 [18 favorites]


Trump's transformed the Republican party much like Reagan once did. Trump may go, but you'll see new candidates smoothly talking about the need for authoritarianism, cultural and racial homogeneity, and isolationism for the foreseeable future.

Personally, I feel a sense of calm about impeachment. I've read a couple of articles about how the nation is divided, but eventually, the facts and import of the case will sink in with the public. The president extorted and bribed a foreign country with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that desperately needed to fend off a brutal dictatorship for personal political gain, according to several rock-solid, first-hand witnesses. Then they hid that they did it.

I'm not even concerned about whether or not Trump is impeached. It doesn't matter anymore. Once the public really gets it, and this time it's inevitable, there will be a reckoning.
posted by xammerboy at 10:39 AM on September 28 [14 favorites]


Eventually, Mitch and Fox News will conclude that fighting impeachment is a losing proposition. The effort will only damage their brands and future credibility. If they don't reach that conclusion, that's fine too, because their efforts to fight impeachment will only hurt them in the end. There are still moves to play, the other player and audience may not get it yet, but this chess game is over. Trump is finished.
posted by xammerboy at 10:49 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


but you'll see new candidates smoothly talking about the need for authoritarianism, cultural and racial homogeneity, and isolationism for the foreseeable future.

And the rightful dominance of white people over others, as if they were a race whose role was to be, um, masters.
posted by acb at 10:49 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I am one of those people who has always been optimistic about getting through this, and it drives me nuts when people post in here being all defeatist and catastrophizing. But at the same time, as people talk about the collapse being inevitable at this point, I just... can't believe it. How can any of that be possible? I believed it was possible until it actually started happening. Now, it's just unreal.
posted by litlnemo at 10:52 AM on September 28 [16 favorites]


Trump is finished.

TTTCS, but it does seem that instead of 'Dems in disarray' stories, it's more 'FOX News in disarray' (NYT) these days:
What was unusual was the spectacle of network personalities clashing on-air. Under the iron rule of its former chairman, Roger Ailes, overt conflict between hosts was quickly snuffed out. That Mr. Carlson and Mr. Smith traded jabs over 36 hours suggested that the Ailes style of harsh discipline had eroded at the network. [...]

“To dismiss this as a political hack seems to be an effort by the president’s defenders to make nothing out of something, and there is something here,” Mr. Wallace said.

At one point, the news anchor Sandra Smith challenged Mr. Wallace, saying that she did not see a clear offer of quid pro quo — “the exchange of something for value” — in the rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s call.

Mr. Wallace arched a brow. “You don’t think that dirt on Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s son would be of value?” he asked.
posted by katra at 10:53 AM on September 28 [11 favorites]


Remember we said Trump was finished after the “grab em by the pussy” tape. It’s not over till it’s over.
posted by rikschell at 11:13 AM on September 28 [60 favorites]


A Realist’s Guide to Impeachment (David Frum, Atlantic)
Nobody should have any illusions: Bringing anything like justice to President Trump will be neither easy nor safe. The exposure of Trump’s Ukraine extortion scheme forced impeachment on the country. It could not be ignored, and devices like censure are inadequate. But the days ahead are dark.
posted by katra at 11:30 AM on September 28 [14 favorites]


Also, Frum's perspective reminds me of my standard admonition to clients in high-conflict family law cases. Even when we had solid evidence, we were in civil court because other institutional checks on domestic violence had broken down, and we were there as a last resort to try to kick the criminal justice system into gear by obtaining a restraining order. It was a somber time, and maintaining that attitude did not mean abandoning hope - far from it - we were there because it was necessary, because the stakes were too high to remain silent, and because the risks of doing nothing outweighed the risks of standing up to fight.
posted by katra at 11:54 AM on September 28 [33 favorites]


A couple of interesting read on the consequences of all this for Ukraine (and Russia), and also, obviously, a measure of how much discredit and damage Trump has brought to US foreign policy:

How Trump’s Response to the Ukraine Scandal Helped Russia (MotherJones) – Intentionally or not, Trump gave Putin plenty of ammo for Moscow’s disinformation war.
On the major networks in Russia, talking heads have advanced the messaging that Ukraine is not truly its own state and that other nations will not fully support it. This message is then spread into Ukraine through social media. The Russian propaganda push has also largely praised Trump for his handling of the situation and criticized the Ukrainian government for supposedly trying to influence politics in the United States. (Yes, you read that right.)

...By disclosing the quasi-transcript, Trump didn’t do himself any favors, and he certainly undermined Zelensky to Moscow’s advantage. But the same day Trump put out the memo, he went even further in screwing Zelensky. During a meeting with the Ukrainian president on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said, “I believe President Putin would like to do something. I really hope you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem.”

It was a double whammy. First Trump provided Moscow a set of highly useful talking points for its disinformation war against a nation it has partially occupied; then he endorsed Putin’s strategic aim. Trump hurt himself this week, and he hurt Ukraine—but somehow he managed to hand Putin a beautiful gift.
Ukraine Reacts: Trump’s Call Is Putin’s Victory (Foreign Policy) – For disappointed Ukrainian democracy activists, Trump’s demands of Zelensky have made Washington the moral equivalent of the Kremlin.
"Oh, Putin is loving this. It makes the Americans look unreliable and strengthens the hand of the Russians and the pro-Russians in the east,” Alex Crowther of the National Defense University told Foreign Policy. “By withholding aid, you are injecting instability into an already unstable situation and strengthening the Russians.”

...Perhaps what stands out most to Ukrainians is the sheer outrageousness of the false information that Trump is pushing, which rivals that of the Kremlin.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:02 PM on September 28 [18 favorites]


But debating the relative heroism is just as tiresome as the constant debates on relative fecklessness.

lazaruslong, you are RIGHT! And I regret having started that whole discussion, which is tangential to the real issues.

there's no grand 11 dimensional chess from Pelosi.

Ray Walston, Luck Dragon, I agree with this too! I don't believe this is some game she has played perfectly from the start, forseeing every twist. I only believe her job is extraordinarily difficult, and that her instincts have proved so far to be good.

But YES!--back to the more critical task of getting the fucker out of office, whether through impeachment or through demoralizing Republicans to the point that they have no idea who they are or what they represent, come 2020.
posted by torticat at 12:15 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


A Realist’s Guide to Impeachment:
The political consequences of acquittal are obviously unpredictable but could be favorable to Trump’s reelection: Trump supporters may be mobilized, Trump opponents demoralized, and Democratic presidential candidates distracted from issues that may be more potent at the voting booth.
Trump supporters are going to be mobilized regardless, but I think his opponents would be fired up and out for vengeance if the House makes a solid case for removal from office and the Senate gives him a pass. There are more people that didn't vote for him in the first place plus plenty of people with buyer's remorse. His base isn't big enough and he hasn't done anything to win anyone over, even before getting caught committing some light treason.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:22 PM on September 28 [12 favorites]


I have so much respect for Nancy Pelosi right now. Everyone working directly with Trump while trying to maintain any sense of decency is in an absolutely insane position.
posted by wondermouse at 12:35 PM on September 28 [10 favorites]


Trump and Democrats dig in as historic political battle begins (Guardian)
“I think it’s going to happen fast,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in the governance studies programme at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The House is going to have to decide which articles of impeachment to draft and send forward. My guess is obstruction of justice and abuse of power.”

If the Democratic-led House votes to approve articles of impeachment, the Republican-controlled Senate will then decide whether to find Trump guilty and remove him from office. This seems far-fetched, but Kamarck said: “I’d give it a 30% to 40% chance. Remember how things shift and how public opinion shifts when you get these high-velocity events. There are people who’ve stood up to Trump in the Senate; they’re not totally terrified of him.

“We forget the human part: Trump has no friends. No one likes him. When push comes to shove, he doesn’t have depth and loyalty. If things get really bad and they can see a political future without him, they’ll abandon him.”

To date, Republican senators have been cowed by Trump’s fervent support base and approval rating of around 90% within the party. But the relationship could prove fragile. A former Democrat, Trump was an outsider when he in effect staged a hostile takeover in the 2016 primary and many of his views are at odds with party orthodoxy.

Conviction requires a two-thirds vote of the 100-member Senate: 67 votes. That means 20 Republicans would be required to rebel. Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the challenge for Democrats was to win over public opinion. “You know you’ve got the votes to impeach. The goal here is to create a narrative in which the American people wind up convincing the Senate they must convict.

“I know it’s true that if there were a blind vote in the Senate, at least 30, possibly more of the Republican senators would vote to convict the president. But they won’t do it absent a very public movement in that direction. In other words, the public itself, their base.”
posted by katra at 12:45 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Trump supporters are going to be mobilized regardless, but I think his opponents would be fired up and out for vengeance if the House makes a solid case for removal from office and the Senate gives him a pass. There are more people that didn't vote for him in the first place plus plenty of people with buyer's remorse. His base isn't big enough and he hasn't done anything to win anyone over, even before getting caught committing some light treason.

yup, yup, yup, 100%. This is exactly the argument I've been making to my family, who are too scarred to be optimistic that anything significant will come of all this.

But I think that Republicans going into 2020 are going to be demoralized, not energized. They are going to be supporting a candidate who has been impeached (if not convicted). They are going to have to be explaining why they stood behind a president who violated every deeply-held norm of the Republican party. And if they don't explain, they remain silent--which is not an energetic nor energizing position to be in!

Trump's base will be energized, but his base is not big enough to win an election.
posted by torticat at 12:48 PM on September 28 [12 favorites]


...and I really don't see independents or swing-voters coming to Trump's aid in this situation. They may be holding their fire now, and they may dislike the idea of impeachment. But Trump's narrative that he is some kind of victim is going to nauseate a lot of Americans, especially given all he has skated free on up to this point. No one (except Trump's base of aggrieved white men) thinks Trump has acted at any point out of concern for the country, or out of concern for anything else other than self-interest.

Ideological Republicans will still credit him for his court appointments (ugh). But they will have to stack this against his violations of so many other values they hold dear. At some point, they will have to vote for reformation of the party, if they want to have any party left to work with.

I wonder where evangelicals are coming down on all this? Anyone seen any polls in the last few days?
posted by torticat at 12:59 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I wonder where evangelicals are coming down on all this?

I don't.
posted by schmod at 1:07 PM on September 28 [45 favorites]


Once the public really gets it, and this time it's inevitable, there will be a reckoning

I don't think this is true.

I know lots of people who voted for Trump, including several who I'm pretty close enough to, and have known for so long that I'd be very surprised if they were lying to me. Some of them supported Democrats in the past in presidential, and other elections. I wouldn't describe any of them as stupid, really.

Without exception, they've all told me that they voted for Trump to "stick it to the elites", or variations of that phrase. They all acknowledge that Trump is a terrible person. They don't care as long as he's "shaking things up" etc. Since they believe that all politicians of both parties are corrupt, the Trump supporters that I know don't think that the Ukraine thing is any big deal at all.

I gave up after the first year of Trump's presidency of pointing out to them his obvious corruption and grifting. They just don't care. They consider him an unpleasant but necessary corrective to a rotten system.

While it's incredibly unlikely, I think it's more likely that 16 or 17 (or whatever the number needs to be) Republican senators would vote to convict in an impeachment trial, then it is that the majority of Trump supporters would abandon him over Ukraine, or anything else, really.
posted by JeffL at 1:15 PM on September 28 [25 favorites]


I wonder where evangelicals are coming down on all this?

I just heard a clip of I think it's Jerry Falwell Jr. saying some bullshit about how "What most people don't understand about our faith is that it's rooted in forgiveness..."

(Okay, fine...)

"...which is why we love Donald Trump."

(Fuck that.)

My conservative evangelical friends/acquaintances tend to work the way most people work, which is to say: their "beliefs" define the language they use to describe their opinions more than they serve as an ideological compass to determine those opinions in the first place. Trump can do whatever the fuck he wants, and they'll have boundless compassion for his flaws and failings—much as they'll defend any intolerance they show others by claiming that it's the other people being intolerant.

That's not unique to evangelicals. People are people. But evangelical culture sees the Republican Party as their ticket to enacting their conservative political agenda, and doesn't give a lot of a shit about corruption—see the Falwell family's recent string of controversies. They'll support Trump because he's the only pathway they have to relevance at the moment, and will be until the next election cycle comes along.
posted by rorgy at 1:26 PM on September 28 [20 favorites]


The Dems have been able to peel off some evangelical women (they were part of the GOPers who defected for Beto in ‘18), but the evangelical men won’t leave Trump’s side.
posted by sallybrown at 1:50 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Without exception, they've all told me that they voted for Trump to "stick it to the elites", or variations of that phrase. They all acknowledge that Trump is a terrible person. They don't care as long as he's "shaking things up" etc. Since they believe that all politicians of both parties are corrupt, the Trump supporters that I know don't think that the Ukraine thing is any big deal at all.

This. Trump's support at this point is basically tribalism out of spite. Trump is really personification about how white skinned, "red blooded real American men" think. They've been taught their whole lives that they should be on top. If they're not on top by default, burn it all down. If they need to provide effort to solve a problem that's not related to them? Who cares. No skin off their nose. They worked for what they have. Never mind the throngs of people that helped them or are the underclass supporting them intangibly. If they can't solve a problem that does affect them? Just burn the whole system to the ground because it's obviously broken.

This whole Trumpism is just disgusting, lazy, and based on the expectation that white men should always fail upwards and if not, something is wrong.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:03 PM on September 28 [49 favorites]


For instance, it's just so visible in the minimum wage fight. $15 for flipping burgers? Unskilled labour? Laughable to them. But they want a job that pays $20/hr + benefits with only a high school diploma and the world is broken that they don't get that.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:05 PM on September 28 [26 favorites]


Yes, but the Republican party needs more voters than Trump's hardcore base can provide.
posted by xammerboy at 2:13 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


But they want a job that pays $20/hr + benefits with only a high school diploma and the world is broken that they don't get that.

And if you tell them that they are far, far more likely to get that under Elizabeth Warren (who seems like she would revive the WPA) they stick their fingers in their ears and say "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU." They want a President who is a magical wish-granting unicorn but for white men only.

The thing is that Trump hasn't even given them that. And these are less the "vote red no matter who" types than the "I won't vote unless I'm inspired" types. The base, the "vote red no matter who" people are lost to us, but what we can do - what Obama did, basically - was fire up the base and peel off the undecideds and the people who rarely bother to vote because they need Someone Very Special to get them off their couches. They thought Trump really and truly was as he appeared on The Apprentice, a successful and tough-talking business tycoon who would sweep into Washington and drain that swamp. He wasn't and he didn't, and I think a lot of the more marginal voters have soured on him, and might well be inclined to give Warren (or whoever) a chance.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:17 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


The Immoral Majority review: how evangelicals backed Trump – and how they might atone (Guardian)
Howe’s subtitle tells the tale: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power over Christian Values. [...] This is a deeply introspective, at times anguished book. Howe shows how each proffered rationale for support for Trump departs sharply from evangelical tradition. [...]

Ultimately, Howe is most concerned for the witness of the evangelical church, not least “the injury it does to the soul of Donald Trump”. He asks: “You’ve gained the world. How is your soul faring?”

The movement “need[s] to own our own mistakes”, he writes, and develop the ability to “find the strength to be a light for others, even when we find the light of our nation dimming”. To balance reason with compassion.

Perhaps younger evangelicals will bolt in 2020; as evangelical leader Russell Moore recently noted, “[They] never expected a nominally Christian culture” anyway, so the binary choice is less compelling.

The percentage of white evangelicals who pull the lever for Trump in 2020 matters, probably decisively, to the result. It thus matters for the world and it matters for them. Or, as Jesus put it: “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”
posted by katra at 2:37 PM on September 28 [2 favorites]


For instance, it's just so visible in the minimum wage fight. $15 for flipping burgers? Unskilled labour? Laughable to them. But they want a job that pays $20/hr + benefits with only a high school diploma and the world is broken that they don't get that.

For what it's worth, the Trump supporters in my circle are not interested in $20/hour jobs. They all make a lot more money than that. None of them would call themselves "rich", of course. They would describe themselves as middle class, but their version of middle class is making $100K or more a year, in a state (Kentucky) where you can live very well on that sort of income (unlike in California or the northeast, or wherever.) I never really hear them say anything about the minimum wage issue, or any of that. It's almost exclusively about what they perceive as "elites" lying about stuff, enriching themselves by being politicians, corruption, "political correctness", etc.

Also, it's not just men I know that are Trump supporters (although they are the majority of the ones I know.)

As far as evangelical Christians supporting Trump: At least where I live, the few evangelical Christians I'm more than casual acquaintances with support him strictly because of the abortion issue. They are one-issue voters, and will vote for whoever is going to appoint judges who will reduce/eliminate legal abortion. They are very up-front about that.
posted by JeffL at 3:24 PM on September 28 [13 favorites]


The thing is that Trump hasn't even given them that. And these are less the "vote red no matter who" types than the "I won't vote unless I'm inspired" types.

They are inspired by racism and sexism, and Trump is still delivering on that.
posted by benzenedream at 3:35 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


[Folks, let's try and aim this back into "stuff going on with impeachment inquiry stuff" and get away from "stuff about Trump and voters in general".]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:38 PM on September 28 [35 favorites]


Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions (WaPo)
Rick Wilson, another GOP strategist and Trump critic, likened the president to “the guy circling the high school parking lot in his Camaro five years after he graduated. He always wants to go back to 2016 and his victory. That’s the triumphal arc of his history. And he’s always trying to go back to having a fight about Hillary Clinton and her emails and the servers, straight from the greatest hits album.”

For instance, when Trump met with Zelensky last Wednesday, he called Clinton’s deletion of emails “one of the great crimes committed” and speculated without evidence that they “could very well” reside on a server in Ukraine.
State Dept. intensifies email probe of Hillary Clinton’s former aides (WaPo)
The existence of the probe follows revelations that the president used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine to pursue investigations that Trump hoped would produce damaging information about Democrats, including potential presidential rival Joe Biden. [...]

A former senior U.S. official familiar with the email investigation described it as a way for Republicans “to keep the Clinton email issue alive.” The former official said the probe was “a way to tarnish a whole bunch of Democratic foreign policy people” and discourage if not prevent them from returning to government service. [...]

Those targeted began receiving letters in August, saying, “You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability” in supposedly newly uncovered “security incidents,” according to a copy of one letter obtained by The Washington Post. [...]

Several of those who have been questioned said that the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security investigators made it clear that they were pursuing the matter reluctantly, and under external pressure.
posted by katra at 4:44 PM on September 28 [21 favorites]


I just looked at the headlines at the top of the Drudge Report:
IMPEACHMENT 2019: POMPEO SUBPOENAED...
Hearings next week?
Long list of witnesses...
Dems warn any stonewalling will 'boost case'...
First House Republican backs inquiry...
Signs of discomfort in defense of president...
LEAK: White House restricted access to Trump calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince...
Giuliani cancels paid appearance at Kremlin-backed summit ...
'I wish he would shut the heck up'...
GERALDO: Entire Presidency Defined By Snitches And Rats And Backstabbers...
For Trump, high-velocity threat like none he's ever faced...
PAPER: Embracing President Pence might be party's best play...
America digs in...
Politics taking physical, emotional toll...
That is not what I expected. Nothing defending Trump. Nothing attacking Biden. Interesting.
posted by nnethercote at 5:08 PM on September 28 [26 favorites]


I just looked at the headlines at the top of the Drudge Report...That is not what I expected. Nothing defending Trump. Nothing attacking Biden. Interesting.

If the National Enquirer turns on him it's all over.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:22 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


State Dept. intensifies email probe of Hillary Clinton’s former aides (WaPo)

“State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said.”

What coincidental timing.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:00 PM on September 28 [18 favorites]


Several of those who have been questioned said that the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security investigators made it clear that they were pursuing the matter reluctantly, and under external pressure.

Here's to hoping they do the bare minimum they are told to do and no more. And I suppose part of the rationale is to distract from impeachment proceedings by saying, "The Democrats are just as corrupt! Both sides!"

I don't really see how the public is going to give a shit, let alone have their opinions swayed. Hillary Clinton is not running for President again. She's retired. None of her aides are running for office, either. "Her Emailz" is in the rear view mirror and fast retreating into the distance.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:12 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


@LindseyGrahamSC

In America you can’t even get a parking ticket based on hearsay testimony. But you can impeach a president? I certainly hope not.

This is the meme I keep seeing in conservative circles. It ignores that shortly congress will find and call several direct witnesses to the call. This is the best they've got.
posted by xammerboy at 6:40 PM on September 28 [7 favorites]


"Her Emailz" is in the rear view mirror and fast retreating into the distance.

Yes. Trump's returning again to this well is pathetic. No one except for his base cares--and again, his base is not large enough to win an election.

I guess I don't really have a sense of how deep irrational-Hillary-hatred runs. I know it played a part in my (evangelical) parents' decision to vote for Trump (they also believe Trump is despicable, and said they were voting for the platform [read, courts; abortion] not the candidate). But they would have no interest whatsoever at this point in revisiting HRC's emails. Any more than they would have an interest in a discussion of how many people attended Trump's inauguration, or why his strategy of winning the electoral college rather than the popular vote makes him some sort of hero, and Hillary a chump.

At some point, Trump's insistence on relitigating past events in order to evade what's going on in the present is going to have some of his former voters rolling their eyes. This is why I believe Republicans will be demoralized next year rather than energized. They have the massive task ahead of them of rebuilding or remolding the GOP, and putting the taint of Trump behind them. There is no easy or obvious way forward for them.

(Hope I'm not running afoul of cortex's admonition above, with this comment. I'm responding to stuff Trump has actually said in the past few days.)
posted by torticat at 6:51 PM on September 28 [8 favorites]


It ignores that shortly congress will find and call several direct witnesses to the call.

And that one of those direct witnesses to the call wrote down exactly what was said and we've already seen that.

It isn't the strongest argument.
posted by diogenes at 6:51 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


In America you can’t even get a parking ticket based on hearsay testimony. But you can impeach a president? I certainly hope not.

What does that even mean? Transcripts and memos don't count because they're just someone (perhaps the white house) claiming this is what Trump said and it only counts if he abuses his power while in court, under oath?
posted by aubilenon at 6:53 PM on September 28 [3 favorites]


Apparently, you can get a parking ticket based on hearsay.
posted by nubs at 7:09 PM on September 28 [29 favorites]


After opening ZeusHumm’s link to the Salon article, The elite consensus on impeachment: We're deeply sad and wish it would go away, I’m seeing a STOP IMPEACHMENT! ad (screenshot) for Steve Daines of Montana.
posted by cenoxo at 7:09 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Trump campaign launches anti-impeachment blitz on Facebook, targeting four minority congresswomen (WaPo)
In total, the Trump campaign and its backers spent between $346,700 and $1,430,182 on more than 2,000 ads for its Facebook page from Monday to midday Friday, according to data analyzed by Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. She obtained the data through Facebook’s public ad archive, which reports all of its data in ranges, not precise figures. Those ads had been viewed between 13.3 million and 25.3 million times, the NYU analysis found. [...]

The online offensive offered a window into Trump’s bare-knuckle approach to the coming impeachment battles, as he took the showdown to his favored terrain: the Internet. Already, campaign officials say they have filled their coffers with contributions: Eric Trump, the president’s second son and the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said Thursday that the campaign had raised $8.5 million in the previous 24 hours.

The Facebook ads, which traffic in claims found to be false by The Washington Post Fact Checker, also provided a new test for the technology giant after it reaffirmed this week it would exempt speech by politicians from fact checking. That exemption, company executives said, also applies to ads, though sponsored posts are required to meet community standards that proscribe threats as well as “content aimed at deliberately deceiving people to gain an unfair advantage or deprive another of money, property, or legal right.” On Friday, Facebook said none of the ads violated its policies, including those that prohibit dehumanizing speech, though the company did not detail its reasoning.

[...] The RNC said Friday it would join the Trump campaign in spending a total of $10 million across television and digital platforms assailing Democrats for beginning an impeachment inquiry. The campaign will spend $8 million, while the party will kick in another $2 million.
posted by katra at 7:33 PM on September 28 [10 favorites]


In America you can’t even get a parking ticket based on hearsay testimony. But you can impeach a president? I certainly hope not.

What does that even mean?


A lot of the wittering I saw about hearsay was during Maguire's testimony and seemed to be from Republicans frantically trying to save Maguire's hide by offering a narrative where the whistleblower's testimony didn't need to be passed along because it constituted hearsay rather than direct experience. Used in this context, their argument was weak mostly because credibility and relevance of the testimony was the ICIG's judgment call, not the DNI's, and the ICIG had judged it credible regardless of the remove from experience. It wasn't a good argument in that context, but it was an argument.

But bringing that up now, with regard to the evidentiary value of information we have, seems mostly like an attempt to try to conflate two very different things. Because while the whistleblower's complaint might well have been hearsay (which could reasonably have been considered with regard to its original credibility judgment), most of the substance of that complaint (specifically, the content of the July 25 phone call, and the information that many call transcripts were placed under apparently specious grounds into the codeword system) has been corroborated by primary sources.
posted by jackbishop at 7:58 PM on September 28 [10 favorites]


Hillary Clinton is not running for President again. She's retired. None of her aides are running for office, either. "Her Emailz" is in the rear view mirror and fast retreating into the distance.

I have to think that while there are definitely die-hard Republicans, there can't be that many Trumpists in the various federal investigation departments. Trump says "GRAR DO IT" and the imperative lasts about as long as it takes to pass through however many Acting whatevers between him and the people who do the actual work.
posted by rhizome at 8:17 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


Acting Whatevers

What a beautifully apt collective noun for this administration in all its many, many incarnations.
posted by seyirci at 8:39 PM on September 28 [12 favorites]


The Facebook ads, which traffic in claims found to be false by The Washington Post Fact Checker, also provided a new test for the technology giant after it reaffirmed this week it would exempt speech by politicians from fact checking. That exemption, company executives said, also applies to ads, though sponsored posts are required to meet community standards that proscribe threats as well as “content aimed at deliberately deceiving people to gain an unfair advantage or deprive another of money, property, or legal right.” On Friday, Facebook said none of the ads violated its policies, including those that prohibit dehumanizing speech, though the company did not detail its reasoning.

i say this as a former bartender in the process of re-skilling into software engineering who is well aware that he is horny on main here: burn fucking facebook to the fucking ground for so many reasons, this being just the latest and (only one of the) most egregious. jesus h christ. this is...fuck.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:07 PM on September 28 [43 favorites]


his base is not large enough to win an election

That's always been true; Republicans were wildly successful at suppressing voters in 2016 [ThinkProgress, Nov. 15, 2016] {requiescant in pace}

We're seeing quotes from politicians, nameless former officials, academic wonks, "ordinary" citizens... what of the string-pulling captains of industry? Headlines from the past few weeks:

Newsweek, Sept. 3, 2019: Charles Koch Comes Around on Donald Trump

Libertarian billionaire and noted President Donald Trump critic Charles Koch may be coming around to the president because of his potential decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan.

CNBC, Sept. 19, 2019: ‘We were wrong’: Koch network to change strategy against Trump’s trade war after ad campaign falls short

Koch network leaders said Thursday that their digital and TV ad blitz that emphasized how Americans could experience financial pain from the tariff fight wasn’t panning out the way they had hoped. “The argument that, you know, the tariffs are adding a couple thousand dollars to the pickup truck that you’re buying is not persuasive,” a senior Koch official says.

Forbes.com, Sept. 27, 2019, 05:26pm; section begins with a WSJ excerpt, from a piece dated 9/22/19: How Trump’s Impeachment Can Benefit Businesses And Investors

“President Trump’s sudden escalation of the trade war with China last month triggered a telephone call from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who warned the president about the conflict’s impact on the U.S. economy and Mr. Trump’s re-election prospects, according to people familiar with the call.

“During his call with Mr. Trump, Mr. Adelson focused on the broader implications of the U.S.-China trade war and their potential political consequences for Mr. Trump, according to one of the people, and not on his own company’s situation.”

Note that this was a personal call made public by “people familiar with the call.” Also note that the message was not an offer of advice (something Trump has been wont to ignore) – It was a warning about “re-election prospects” and “potential political consequences.”

The bottom line

With the House of Representatives expected to vote to impeach President Trump, Senate Republicans will then have the power to find him “not guilty.” In return for that favor, those senators might well extract some “quid pro quo.”


Bolding mine, with apologies for the post length.

TL:DR Squatter-in-Chief notorious for ignoring advice, even when it's less than a bit of unsolicited counsel and more of a blatant threat. Can't say he wasn't warned, and couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:35 PM on September 28 [15 favorites]


You've got to wonder about Russia's role in this. It's hard to believe that Trump was not led by the nose by Putin into pressuring the Ukraine for info they don't have. What sort of "deal" did Trump expect Putin and the Ukraine president to work out? We don't need answers for impeachment, but will that aspect of this scandal ever come to light? It's astonishing Republicans care so little about this...
posted by xammerboy at 11:11 PM on September 28 [5 favorites]


I just heard a clip of I think it's Jerry Falwell Jr. saying some bullshit about how "What most people don't understand about our faith is that it's rooted in forgiveness..."

(Okay, fine...)

"...which is why we love Donald Trump."


Even evangelicals are supposed to repent sins with the possibility of punishment before receiving forgiveness. Otherwise it isn't forgiveness, it's just fully licensed sin.
posted by srboisvert at 2:55 AM on September 29 [15 favorites]


State Dept. intensifies email probe of Hillary Clinton’s former aides (WaPo)

I'm not happy with this obvious abuse of the state apparatus but I am not too upset that Trump and Co. are focusing on winning the 2016 election. Maybe next they can try and get their GEDs.

However, I suspect this is more of Republicans trying to pre-poison the notion of criminal punishment for wrongdoing while in government office by making an overtly and openly partisan legal attack. This is so that post-Trump they can point at the people who decry this politicization as a "You're hypocrites" defense against their own looming prosecutions.
posted by srboisvert at 3:08 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


The WaPo article about revisiting the Clinton ‘email scandal’ especially sinister - it’s everything we have to fear from Trump: we’re sold this picture of him as a lout and a cretin but mostly he’s a fucking crook who behaves as a crook and allows those around him to behave as crooks (by promising them legal coverage or simply including them in the ‘does things just different’ tent). What the State dep is putatively doing is finishing up the investigation into Clinton’s emails but really what it’s doing is enacting revenge.
This is patently wrong - for Trump to use the powers of office for his own ends (ok, we’re probably all in agreement on that point here) - now imagine he gets four more years - validation that the way he does things is just fine, who’s he gonna go after next? Because there will be somebody. And he will go after them as remorselessly as Tony Soprano.

Seriously, the WaPo article is as clear a picture of what he’s all about, and as clear and loud a warning as you could ask for. It’s fucking scary.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:35 AM on September 29 [13 favorites]


The Guardian has an interesting story today about Giuliani’s connections in Ukraine: Rudy Giuliani: Ukraine sources detail attempt to construct case against Biden – Source: prosecutor may have fed Trump ally altered information
As the complaint sets out, Giuliani met Lutsenko at least twice [...] at a key moment for Lutsenko.
The prosecutor was facing growing criticism in Kyiv over stalled investigations into corruption. [...] Lutsenko stayed in office. But the Guardian has learned that he began seeking a lifeline to the US, in the hope it might save him as difficulties back home intensified.

That lifeline was Giuliani.

“[Lutsenko] strongly needed some political ally, he believed that Giuliani could convey specific messages to Trump, and he created this message to become more interesting to the American establishment,” said a law enforcement source familiar with the Giuliani-Lutsenko connection.

That Giuliani might have been fed information by Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor that was adulterated to make it more appealing to Trump is a startling potential twist in the developing scandal.

According to the Guardian’s source, Lutsenko appeared in conversation with Giuliani to have invented a “don’t prosecute” list he claimed was given to him by the then US ambassador to Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch – news of which apparently made its way up to Trump.
Also on NPR, citing non-anonymous sources:
Ivan Yakovina, a Kyiv-based political commentator, says outreach to the Trump administration was one way for Lutsenko to secure his position in the future.

"Giuliani thought Lutsenko would play for Trump's team. But Lutsenko was playing for his own team," says Yakovina. "If Trump ends up getting impeached, he can blame Lutsenko for wanting to stay in power."
Also interesting in the same article:
Even though Zelenskiy may have appeared excessively deferential in the July 25 call, Yakovina says the Ukrainian president is not without his own trump card in the lopsided relationship with the United States.

After all, Zelenskiy also has a record of his conversation with Trump — and he hasn't released his version of it yet.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:54 AM on September 29 [41 favorites]


Last Exit From Trumpland
By Ross Douthat/NYTimes opinion

It's Douthat, so don't expect to agree, do expect to hate his style of writing. But it is an insight from the (never-trumper) right, informed by conversations with other people on the right.
posted by mumimor at 4:55 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Pelosi turns to Schiff to lead House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of Trump (WaPo)
“We must be somber, we must be prayerful, and we must pursue the facts further to make a decision as to, did this violate the Constitution of the United States, which I believe it did,” Pelosi said Saturday at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin.

Facing a skeptical public, House Democrats are overwhelmingly backing Schiff — none more so than endangered incumbents who privately pushed Pelosi to at least temporarily muzzle the House Judiciary Committee, which traditionally takes the lead in impeachment. Those lawmakers, mostly moderates in GOP-leaning districts, argued that the panel, which is packed with some of the caucus’s most liberal members, had bungled its investigations and appeared too partisan and eager to oust Trump to carry their message to the broader public.
posted by katra at 5:40 AM on September 29 [5 favorites]


Another comforting missive in the vein of well-at-least-they’re-not-all-evil-crazies: Jonah Goldberg, formerly of the National Review, used his podcast to post a rant. It’s four days old already, i.e. ancient, but what else are you doing on a Sunday morning?
posted by jon1270 at 5:56 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


In total, the Trump campaign and its backers spent between $346,700 and $1,430,182 on more than 2,000 ads for its Facebook page from Monday to midday Friday

Love that my small organization has had multiple Facebook ads rejected because they were about "social issues or politics" (we're an organization centered around urban planning so that's, like, literally everything we do?) but the Trump campaign can spend a million dollars in four days for demonstrably false ads. Facebook is trying to combat the fake profiles/groups/ads of the '16 election cycle by requiring an authorization process, but it's not hurting the people it needs to hurt. My colleague had to submit to a personal background check and submit notarized paperwork by mail to be able to run our ads - an obnoxious invasion of his personal privacy and an onerous process for a small org spending maybe $300 at a time, but not a big deal at all for the powers that be. Burn it to the ground.
posted by misskaz at 6:18 AM on September 29 [83 favorites]


At the start of his presidency, Mr. Trump’s freewheeling conversations with world leaders prompted consternation among the president’s senior aides, who took steps to keep him from making inappropriate comments or divulging sensitive information.

On more than one occasion, John Kelly, the White House’s then-chief of staff, who was often in the room during calls with world leaders, briefly muted the line so he could caution Mr. Trump against continuing to talk about sensitive subjects, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The small group of advisers in the room for the calls would also often pass the president notes offering guidance, the person said.
– Wall Street Journal, Embarrassing Leaks Led to Clampdown on Trump’s Phone Records – After blowup over calls with Mexican, Australian leaders, officials moved toward greater secrecy, now an issue in impeachment inquiry
posted by bitteschoen at 6:37 AM on September 29 [9 favorites]


Connecticut newspaper editorial calls for Trump to resign. From the article in The Hill:
One of Connecticut’s largest newspapers on Friday published an editorial calling on President Trump to resign, citing “damning evidence” that surfaced this week surrounding his interactions with Ukraine.

“Even given the incredibly fast pace of news in the Trump era, the speed with which the Ukraine scandal has moved from vague complaint to impeachable offense has been stunning,” reads the editorial published by the Connecticut Post, the state’s second-largest newspaper by circulation.

“Though we’re still at the beginning of the process, there is already a mountain of evidence implicating President Donald Trump with conduct far outside the accepted norms of a democratic leader.”
posted by Sublimity at 6:42 AM on September 29 [15 favorites]


Stephen Miller just compared the whistleblower complaint to a “little Nancy Drew novel.”

Does this little punk not realize Nancy solved all of the crimes she investigated with careful planning and dogged persistence?? She has a perfect record and she followed the law, even if she sometimes disobeyed her dad. If I was the whistleblower you couldn’t give me a higher compliment than that.

Read a book, bro!
posted by sallybrown at 7:19 AM on September 29 [110 favorites]


But Nancy Drew is a girl, and that means that Stephen Miller dismisses her out of hand.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:29 AM on September 29 [25 favorites]


Stephen Miller just compared the whistleblower complaint to a “little Nancy Drew novel.”

Disparaging competent women precisely for being competent women has worked for them so far.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 7:30 AM on September 29 [32 favorites]


Maybe Miller was trying to hint at the whistleblower’s gender. That makes more sense than Nancy Drew being on his mind?
posted by sallybrown at 7:32 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


I listened to dozens of Obama’s calls. Trump knows that’s perfectly normal.
It was my job to be on the line. It wasn’t a secret or a plot.
WaPo. By Joel Willett
Joel Willett is a principal with Broadtree Partners, a private equity firm. He is a former CIA officer who was detailed to the White House Situation Room in 2014 and 2015 and is a defense council fellow with the Truman National Security Project.
posted by mumimor at 8:16 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


More cracks in the wall of GOP defense of Trump:

First, Tom Bossert, the former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism from January 2017 to April 2018, says he was “deeply disturbed” by the summary of Trump’s call of Zelensky and that it is a “bad day and a bad week” for the President and the country if he was trying to solicit dirt on Biden, and then notes that it would be far more of an issue if Trump’s withholding of aid from Ukraine was tied to this, which he feels is “far from proven.”

Second, Chris Wallace of Fox News (who, to be fair, has not been a rabid Trumpist all along) refuses to play along with Stephen Miller’s attempts to evade the question of why Trump worked through private attorneys rather than official channels in his Ukraine nonsense.

These appear to be two important dividing points for the right: Did Trump tie the aid to the dirt-digging (the quid pro quo), and was Rudy’s Big Adventure conducted through official, legal channels? Their third issue, of whether to trust the whistleblower’s “hearsay,” is about the means of finding the true answers to those two questions. Both of these questions can be pretty easily answered through testimony (from the people who talked to the whistleblower and/or witnessed the events) and documentary evidence (the presence or absence of paperwork and official communications authorizing Rudy’s work, which are FOIAble).. I think this is why we’re seeing the cracks in the GOP wall: any of them who maintained a reputation or career on the right but separate from Trump can clearly see what’s coming.
posted by sallybrown at 8:28 AM on September 29 [10 favorites]


Support for Trump impeachment rises 12 points in new poll (The Hill)
A new Hill-HarrisX survey on Friday found support for impeachment proceedings against President Trump has risen 12 points compared to a similar poll conducted three months ago. [...]

The survey was conducted on Sept. 26-27 [...] The poll showed 47 percent of respondents support that decision [...] Meanwhile, opposition to impeachment dipped 3 points to 42 percent, while 11 percent of those polled in the new survey said they weren't sure or didn't know.

Support for impeachment grew among Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike. Democratic support jumped from 59 percent to 78 percent, a 19-point increase. The number of Republicans backing impeachment jumped 5 points to 18 percent.

The number of independents who back impeachment doubled to 41 percent.

[...] The Hill-HarrisX survey surveyed among 1,001 voters and the margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.
posted by katra at 8:39 AM on September 29 [19 favorites]


Trump-Putin phone calls in U.S. Democrats' sights: Schiff (Reuters)
The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday Congress is determined to get access to President Donald Trump’s calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders, citing concerns he may have jeopardized national security.

“I think the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether in the conversations with other world leaders and in particular with Putin that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign,” Democrat Adam Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” [...]

“If those conversations with Putin or with other world leaders are sequestered in that same electronic file that is meant for covert action, not meant for this, if there’s an effort to hide those and cover those up, yes we’re determined to find out,” Schiff said on NBC.
posted by katra at 8:45 AM on September 29 [22 favorites]



ABC News Politics has more news from Schiff: "NEW: Adam Schiff has reached agreement with whistleblower to come before House Intelligence Committee, he tells @ThisWeekABC, and says he expects to hear from the whistleblower "very soon.""
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:47 AM on September 29 [31 favorites]


Since the beginning of this administration, I've thought Adam Schiff was pulling hard for MVP of the House. So many of the committee heads don't seem to be treating Trump & Co like an existential threat, but Schiff always has.
posted by rikschell at 9:28 AM on September 29 [23 favorites]


Since the beginning of this administration, I've thought Adam Schiff was pulling hard for MVP of the House. So many of the committee heads don't seem to be treating Trump & Co like an existential threat, but Schiff always has.

Schiff is a former US Attorney prosecutor. He prosecuted and convicted the first FBI agent for espionage. He is now chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Nadler, while he has a law degree, never practiced. He has been an elected politician pretty much his entire career. He is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Any committee can investigate for impeachment. Their findings are then forwarded to the Judiciary Committee and they vote on the articles of impeachment.

It seems that Pelosi is deferring to Schiff's experience as a prosecutor to lead the investigation. Nadler can then vote the articles of impeachment based on Schiff's findings.
posted by JackFlash at 9:53 AM on September 29 [16 favorites]


Maybe Miller was trying to hint at the whistleblower’s gender. That makes more sense than Nancy Drew being on his mind?

That would be the kind of clumsy and dumb thing that an asshole like Miller would think is clever. I've been wondering about this ever since I started seeing media outlets refer to the whistleblower with presumptive 'him' and 'his', though: are they just assuming/being sexist, or do they know something that we don't? (And then the whistleblower's actual memo was released, and the clarity, strength and concision of the writing, just reads to me more like a woman wrote it. That's my own sense, it could just as well be a male person who wrote it, there's nothing really in there to indicate anything; but that's why the widely-presumed male gender is so glaring to me.)

“If those conversations with Putin or with other world leaders are sequestered in that same electronic file that is meant for covert action, not meant for this, if there’s an effort to hide those and cover those up, yes we’re determined to find out,” Schiff said on NBC.

This is THE THING I've been waiting for since this news first dropped--if they locked down this conversation immediately afterward, it wasn't the first time.

@LindseyGrahamSC: In America you can’t even get a parking ticket based on hearsay testimony. But you can impeach a president? I certainly hope not.

This reads to me like veteran Republicans know just how bad this is, they know that Trump is toast, and are now market-testing different post-impeachment narratives. The one they seem to hope will float is 'it was all hearsay anyway,' but I expect that primary source evidence will clearly put the lie to that soon enough. Regardless, it's all flailing at this point (especially that Jim Jordan appearance on Tapper's show this morning, wow).

I fear that we're going to have to remove Trump from office forcibly, I don't see him resigning, ever. If he were a non-disordered mind, I would expect him to resign in the coming week or so. But his disorder(s) will not allow him to give up, and he knows that he's only protected and only has any fight possible as long as he's still president. He will stay in office until we yank him out (maybe even physically) and will not care how much damage it does to people, property, laws, the country or the world. None of it is real to him anyway, and he'll try to burn it all down before giving it up. One hopes that most elected Republicans either understand or will soon come to understand this, because I don't expect we can get a beast like Trump off of our backs with anything other than massive, collaborative effort.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:45 AM on September 29 [15 favorites]


Ooh it’s an interesting day when the Guardian cites a report by Fox News with juicy information about Giuliani:
Fox News Sunday reported that Giuliani “was not the only attorney trying to get damaging information on Joe Biden from Ukrainian officials”.

Citing an anonymous US official, the report said two more lawyers, Joe DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, had worked with Giuliani “off the books” on Ukraine, meaning only Trump knows what they did.
More about the duo here from Business Insider
posted by bitteschoen at 10:50 AM on September 29 [12 favorites]


are they just assuming/being sexist, or do they know something that we don't?

> Amateur pro-Trump ‘sleuths’ scramble to unmask whistleblower: ‘Your president has asked for your help’ (WaPo)
The president’s scornful portrayal of the whistleblower shaped and stoked the online conversation throughout the week, as it descended into a case study of the Internet at its worst — frenetic, fueled by rumor and frequently racist, misogynistic and crude. [...]

After the complaint was made public Thursday morning, pro-Trump commenters guessed the whistleblower is Hispanic or Jewish or Arab or African American and, many were sure, a woman — though rarely did the commenters use such delicate terms. A top choice soon became Susan M. Gordan, a former deputy director of national intelligence, though others thought a more probable candidate is CIA Director Gina Haspel.
posted by katra at 10:51 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Ex-Trump official to Trump: Ditch the conspiracy theories (Politico)
Bossert, who served as President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser from January 2017 to April 2018, on Sunday dismissed claims that Ukraine stole Democratic National Committee emails in 2016 and then somehow framed Russia — something he told Trump was not true while he worked in the White House.

“The DNC server and that conspiracy theory has got to go," he said on ABC. "They have to stop with that; it cannot continue to be repeated in our discourse.”

[...] Bossert pointed fingers at the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for pushing the Ukraine conspiracy theory and disparaged the former New York mayor for repeating the theory to the president. “Last year, retired former Sen. Judd Gregg wrote a piece in The Hill magazine, saying the three ways or the five ways to impeach oneself. And the third way was to hire Rudy Giuliani,” Bossert said.
posted by katra at 10:56 AM on September 29 [21 favorites]


The cracks in the wall are as they have always been. I'm glad to see them, but this is all still career people and pundit types and not elected officials. We saw the same thing in the election and after. Republican career professionals can step back and be aghast and denounce stuff. Republicans who face elections are the ones that will really matter. If they start to bolt, things really are crumbling.

I'm not saying we shouldn't share all the wavering and cringing Republican jerks because schadenfreude is still great and they all deserve this pain, but we should also keep things in perspective.

Republican voters knew he'd be this fucking corrupt. They always knew. It was never about economics. They voted with their racism and their sexism, and the corruption was acceptable to them. Republican politicians won't say that, of course, but they know it, and they won't move unless they see that calculus change.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:04 AM on September 29 [9 favorites]


Thursday morning, pro-Trump commenters guessed the whistleblower is Hispanic or Jewish or Arab or African American and, many were sure, a woman

Apparently on 4chan they are saying that the whistleblower is not white because they described themselves in the complaint as a “non-White House official.”
posted by JackFlash at 11:08 AM on September 29 [39 favorites]


I've been wondering about this ever since I started seeing media outlets refer to the whistleblower with presumptive 'him' and 'his', though: are they just assuming/being sexist, or do they know something that we don't?

The NYT’s editor Dean Baquet is quoted in this article on the Columbia Journalism Review about the reaction against the NYT for publishing the whistleblower’s identity as CIA, and Baquet says:
“The main identifying information in the piece was the fact that he worked for the CIA. It is pretty clear that the White House knew he worked for the CIA.” He also admits that they got a little lucky, adding, “By the way, I wasn’t absolutely sure of that when I made the judgment. I strongly suspected it, given that he ended up going to the IG [inspector general] for the intelligence community.
I guess you could read it as saying that the only (rather than main) bit of info that the NYT had from their own anonymous sources is about the whistleblower being CIA, and not their gender, and are just assuming it – but I really doubt they’d have been using "he" so extensively and with such certainty if they didn’t know for sure it was a guy. They must have known it was another clearly identifying element?
posted by bitteschoen at 11:19 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


The poor, little-appreciated hyphen is really getting some payback lately. I’ve sadly watched it slowly fall out of fashion in the past couple of years. (For just one example, the USPS has a type of postage they call the “flat rate envelope,” which has caused much consternation when people try to use it to mail things that aren’t flat, as some postal clerks are reading it as an envelope that should be perfectly flat when filled. I admit that I have written to the postmaster general advising them to change it to properly read “flat-rate envelope” to avoid this sort of idiocy.) In short, I have been lamenting the slow demise of the humble hyphen, and I'm pleased that it's been in the news TWICE this week bamboozling this administration.
posted by thebrokedown at 11:19 AM on September 29 [57 favorites]


5/14/2018: Judd Gregg: How to impeach oneself (Judd Gregg, TheHill Op-Ed)
If a university had a course in how to create an atmosphere where impeachment becomes plausible, even if there are not any facts to support it, it might involve the following:

First would be having the president who has been targeted give the accusation credibility by talking about it as a possibility.

Second would be for his party to take up the cause of opposing the idea, for the purpose of electing its members. Doing so raises the visibility of the issue in an exponential manner.

Third, the president would bring in people to do damage control and have those supposed experts actually deliver more damage. This, of course, has been the outcome of the recent addition of Rudy Giuliani to the president’s personal legal team.

Fourth would be to have the president’s public image be affected by people in his orbit who have a certain aura of thuggishness around them. In this category would be figures such as Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Cohen and Corey Lewandowski.

Fifth would be to create an atmosphere that enhances the opportunity of the Democratic Party to take control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate in the upcoming elections. This seems to be the goal of the president and the Republican Congress.
Bolding mine for reading and skimming.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:33 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Giuliani leads battle against intensifying Trump impeachment inquiry (Guardian)
Trump appears to be losing the appeal to public opinion. A new CBS News poll found that 55% of Americans approve of the decision to open an impeachment inquiry.

But the poll suggests Democrats still have work to do. Only 42% said they thought Trump deserved to be impeached, with 36% saying he did not and 22% undecided.
posted by katra at 11:46 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


The Daily Beast reporting that “Joe Biden’s presidential campaign made an extraordinary request to executives of top news channels on Sunday, asking them to no longer book Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on their programs. In a letter addressed to the heads of the major news and cable networks, as well as top news anchors, two top Biden campaign advisers make the case that by peddling routine falsehoods about the work of Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine, Giuliani’s presence on the airwaves is editorially untenable.”
posted by sallybrown at 12:36 PM on September 29 [14 favorites]


Apparently on 4chan they are saying that the whistleblower is not white because they described themselves in the complaint as a “non-White House official.”

Oh yes-- one of my favorite LOL tidbits of the week.

I thought from the beginning that the whistleblower might be non-white or a woman, because the initial responses from people who had read the report included stuff like "well-written," "detailed," "professional." Those comments were pinging my "clean and articulate" radar.... However, now--I believe those Reps/Senators didn't know the identity of the whistleblower, so I'm taking their early comments at face value.

(Also, of course, having now read the report myself--"well-written" and "detailed" very much jump off the page.)
posted by torticat at 12:43 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Going back earlier in the thread, to a quote from a Guardian article--

After all, Zelenskiy also has a record of his conversation with Trump — and he hasn't released his version of it yet.

True he hasn't released a transcript, but his admin did release a record of the call the day after it took place. The one in which they said (translation from NPR):

"Donald Trump expressed his conviction that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve Ukraine's image and complete the investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States."

Personally I don't understand why this quote isn't getting more play. It's pretty damning in suggesting that from Ukraine's POV, a quid pro quo was discussed. I mean considering that we now know that the only "corruption" talked about was alleged corruption on the part of Democrats and Biden.

(For those Republicans demanding an explicit quid pro quo.)

(And apologies if this was discussed upthread and I missed it. I did join late.)
posted by torticat at 12:54 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


Two different polls, but we're seeing a pretty big jump in impeachment support. 10% increase in Independents, 15% increase in Republicans.
CBS published a Monmouth poll on Aug 22 that found 41% of Americans supported an impeachment inquiry (72% Ds, 39% Inds, 8% Rs).
https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_082219/ …

CBS’s new YouGov poll finds that 55% support for an impeachment inquiry (87% Ds, 49% Inds, 23% Rs).
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-impeachment-inquiry-poll-cbs-news-poll-finds-majority-of-americans-and-democrats-approve/ …
And it's only been a few days.
posted by xammerboy at 12:56 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


If Mueller had just written his damn report clearly we wouldn't even be here. He just needed to write a one page memo saying the president had clearly obstructed justice on at least 3 occasions by anyone's legal definition, and then handed that to the press.
posted by xammerboy at 1:04 PM on September 29 [54 favorites]


Giuliani leads battle against intensifying Trump impeachment inquiry

So he's going to dig up instead of down?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:15 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


This reads to me like veteran Republicans know just how bad this is, they know that Trump is toast, and are now market-testing different post-impeachment narratives. The one they seem to hope will float is 'it was all hearsay anyway,' but I expect that primary source evidence will clearly put the lie to that soon enough.

I don't think there's any narrative the Republican establishment can come up with to escape the wrath of their base if Trump is removed from office. The base voted for Trump precisely because they hate the establishment so much and wanted to make them suffer. If any significant part of the Republican establishment delivers tangible consequences to Trump (such as conviction in the Senate), the base will read that as an unforgivable betrayal and a brutal power grab by DC elitists attempting to snuff out the last hope of good old normal Americans. That's why, despite all the recent signalling that Republicans are supposedly wavering on impeachment, I don't believe that they'll actually act against him. I think that the real purpose of this signalling is to exploit the recent Democratic fervor for impeachment and scare Trump into giving up some concessions.

It's often been said that Trump and the GOP are dependent on each other to survive, but if the GOP keeps the Senate in 2020, which is still fairly likely, they could manage perfectly well even if Trump loses the presidency. In that case, the GOP would probably prefer Trump sitting on his couch at home, tweeting at Fox News and energizing Republicans, instead of fucking up the country 24/7 and energizing Democrats. The threat Trump poses to GOP leadership is that the base will punish anyone they think is a traitor to Trump, so the GOP doesn't actually have to keep Trump alive; they just have to make their base think they tried.

If the Republican base can't blame GOP leadership for loss of the presidency, they (with plenty of "outside professional help", of course) will gladly invent their own stab-in-the-back legend blaming the media, the Deep State, George Soros, the gays, tens of thousands of brown people in buses travelling to hundreds of poor defenseless voting booths in a single day, etc. They'll do it and feel justified for doing it because it's exactly the same thing those treacherous Demonrats did when they invented Russiagate because they just couldn't believe that Trump really won. And so the pendulum of American politics will await its next rightward swing.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 2:37 PM on September 29 [22 favorites]


Joe Biden’s presidential campaign made an extraordinary request to executives of top news channels on Sunday, asking them to no longer book Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on their programs.

If this is true, I'll have some serious sideeye for the Biden campaign. Giuliani seems to be on the verge of a scorched-earth campaign against the Trump administration, starting with Pompeo, in order to save his own ass. It won't work, but who knows who else he'll take down in the process? It'll be glorious TV.

Every time he's gotten in front of the cameras recently has probably resulted in a few fractions of a percent more in favor of impeachment. The guy is toxic, and the best possible outcome is for him to be encouraged to slowly lose his shit in as public a way as possible. He's the goddamn Republican Rasputin, and letting him self-immolate is the surest way, maybe the only way, to get rid of him for good. Anything else, and you can bet he'll be lurking around for years, always fomenting conspiracy theories (and attendant violence). We don't need him off the air—fuck that, the country needs the Rudy G. Truman Show, 24/7 coverage, from now until prison, commitment to a locked ward, or death. Let him be the public face of the Administration and the Trump Republicans in general; it's what they've earned.

Trying to keep him off the air leads immediately to "well, what is Biden afraid of?" and exacerbates the both-sides-are-dirty narrative. I mean, unless there's something there there in Rudy's Rants, why not let the crazy man scream and disgrace himself in front of the cameras? Show the country what Trump's "personal lawyer" and BFF really looks like.

He's bordering on being so obviously deranged that one could argue it's almost immoral to put him on air, but that's the networks' cross to bear—politically, he's well past the "no quarter" line for all the damage he's done. Until someone with a medical power of attorney gets him put on a Seroquel drip, roll the tape.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:55 PM on September 29 [51 favorites]


If Mueller had just written his damn report clearly we wouldn't even be here.

Collusion After the Fact (Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare)
The FBI didn’t know that President Trump, acting in his capacity as president, told the Russians he didn’t care about election interference. Robert Mueller pretty clearly didn’t either.
Shortly after the [Washington Post] story broke, I received a message from a person directly involved with the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence and obstruction investigation of President Trump in the immediate aftermath of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. To say this person, who had clearly learned about the matter for the first time from the Post, was angered by the story would be to understate the matter.

The message read in relevant part: “None of us had any idea. Multiple people had opportunity and patriotic reason to tell us. Instead, silence.”

[...] In the wake of the Post’s reporting, there has been a great deal of speculation among journalists and commentators as to whether Mueller was aware of this information and, if so, why it didn’t make it into the report. “[A]pparently the ‘Lavrov memo’ never reached Robert Mueller,” tweeted New York Times political reporter Trip Gabriel. My colleague Susan Hennessey wondered “whether one motivation for putting things like the Lavrov meeting memo and the Putin call transcripts in the codeword system was to hide them from Mueller.”

I don’t know for sure that Mueller never learned of this information, but I know his investigation began without it, and I know what is obvious to everyone who has read his report: that it plays no role in his analysis of collusion. This raises a significant question to me about the completeness of Mueller’s collusion analysis.
posted by katra at 3:57 PM on September 29 [58 favorites]




So, it’s a codeword system. What codeword did they file all of this under? My bet’s on MAGA.
posted by odinsdream at 4:30 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


They want to know who it is SO BAD. There are two things the GOP is doing this week: throwing noise at the impeachment and the Ukraine, and trying to find out who the whistleblower is. The Sunday shows I saw today all had both. "This impeachment is based on the words of some mystery person" is a paraphrase of a typical construction.

SO BAD. They can't rail against an unknown force that is telling the truth. It's their Kryptonite.
posted by rhizome at 4:31 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah, Trump is terrified of Adam Schiff. and rightly so.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:32 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


In the wake of the Post’s reporting, there has been a great deal of speculation among journalists and commentators as to whether Mueller was aware of this information and, if so, why it didn’t make it into the report.

How many people have had access to the full, unredacted Mueller report? Mid-April, the Democrats subpoenaed the Justice Department to get the Mueller report in its entirety. At the end of April/beginning of May, the news stories focused on who had seen a 'less-redacted' version, and Barr testified. Mid-May saw the redacted version read aloud by Democrats on the House floor and in the hearing room. Then Mueller released a statement, and resigned, and begrudgingly gave testimony in July...

And then yet another fresh hell swallowed that narrative? And I ran out of Cyan Blue #17 string [Cyan Blue, for blue-eyed Bill Barr, obviously] working on Conspiracy Board 28-3a and was too disheartened to track down more.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:36 PM on September 29 [15 favorites]


Naming the whistleblower means finding out if they ever donated to any Democrat in their lives, ever, or if they're gay, or they smoked pot once, or any of a thousand other things that aren't remotely sins or crimes but the Republicans will paint them as such. Or, y'know, maybe they will find something actually bad. You know, actual crimes only Democrats seem to care about.

What's important, much like with literally every other scandal in Trumpland, is that nothing in the accuser's background will change the fact that Trump actually did this shit and his cronies covered it up. That has to be hammered endlessly. Doesn't matter if the whistleblower has a party affiliation. Doesn't matter if they are disappointingly human, or if they turn out to have actual trash of their own. Trump still committed all these fucking crimes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:54 PM on September 29 [25 favorites]


...or then there's this:

@brianstelter: Scott Pelley on CBS just now: "@60Minutes has obtained a letter that indicates" the whistleblower "is under federal protection -- because he or she fears for their safety."

This, too, would seem to put Trump's meltdown specifics into some perspective.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:57 PM on September 29 [41 favorites]


You know, if I was a member of Congress, and I watched the POTUS publicly accuse another member of Congress of a capital crime for accurately paraphrasing the POTUS's own words, and it wasn't the first time that said POTUS openly betrayed a highly inaccurate understanding of what treason actually is, according to the Constitution that he claims to esteem so highly...

I think it would be time for a nice, long vacation. Possibly in a foreign country.
posted by delfin at 4:57 PM on September 29 [6 favorites]


Trump currently melting down on Twitter

Fucking unbelievable. At what point are his tweets recognized as evidence of abuse of power?

But, you know--carry on, real donald trump. Carry on suggesting death (or other Big Consequences) ought to be the outcome for a whistleblower or his/her sources. Carry on with your lunatic comments that the House Intelligence Chair should be questioned "at the highest level for Fraud and Treason." Good luck with that.

Honestly. Just leave these guys alone, give them the rope, they will do the rest.
posted by torticat at 5:18 PM on September 29


I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason

This is getting a little scary.
posted by diogenes at 5:21 PM on September 29 [18 favorites]


Someone should tell Trump' your right to confront your accuser applies in a criminal trial.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:24 PM on September 29 [38 favorites]


When will we find out how the House is going to handle it when their subpoenas are defied and people refuse to testify or hand over documents? Seems like everything hinges on that, yet House leadership doesn't have anything to say on the subject. If the House punts subpoena enforcement to the DOJ or the courts again, how can there be any meaningful impeachment process at all? Don't they have to use inherent contempt to compel testimony, or suffer a round one knockout?
posted by lefty lucky cat at 5:39 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


The House has said that refusal to comply will be considered evidence of wrongdoing, which I think is the right approach. For example, the subpoena to Secretary Pompeo says,
Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry.
I hope they also remind people that the House of Representatives can impeach members of the cabinet and other "civil officers."
posted by mbrubeck at 5:44 PM on September 29 [32 favorites]


60 minutes. Tonight, "60 Minutes" has obtained a letter that indicates the government whistleblower who set off the impeachment inquiry of President Trump is under federal protection, because he or she fears for their safety. These rapidly developing events began Tuesday when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered the investigation based on a phone call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Mr. Trump for missiles, Mr. Trump asks Zelensky for "a favor" to investigate Mr. Trump's Democratic rivals.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:45 PM on September 29 [8 favorites]


I seldom look at his twitter feed, but against my better judgment I did just now and I have to admit I laughed aloud when I came to the tweet wishing everyone a happy Rosh Hashanah.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 5:56 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


You know, if I was a member of Congress, and I watched the POTUS publicly accuse another member of Congress of a capital crime for accurately paraphrasing the POTUS's own words,

Which comments of Schiff's were Trump referring to? Just this? Or was there something else?
posted by torticat at 5:58 PM on September 29


The House has said that refusal to comply will be considered evidence of wrongdoing, which I think is the right approach.

But how does that compel anyone currently refusing to testify to testify? The House says that refusal to testify is evidence of wrongdoing, and then... what?
posted by lefty lucky cat at 6:04 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


He’s referring to the opening of the hearing when the director of national intelligence testified. It included a paraphrasing of Trump’s phone call that elucidated the mob-boss feeling of what had transpired. One of the Republican senators later used their time to comment on this and call it Schiff “just making stuff up” and that was clearly a Republican talking point they’re trying to run with, in line with Donald’s own infantile understanding of language and his insistence on being exactly quoted or else you’re “lying” about what he says.
posted by odinsdream at 6:05 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


Which comments of Schiff's were Trump referring to? Just this? Or was there something else?

The "parody" (Newsweek) of Trump's statements. Fact check: Breaking down Adam Schiff's account of Trump's Ukraine call (CNN)
Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday whether he regretted saying what he did, Schiff said, "No, I think everyone understood -- and my GOP colleagues may feign otherwise. But when I said, suggested, that it was as if the President said, 'Listen carefully, because I'm only gonna tell you seven more times' -- that I was mocking the President's conduct."
posted by katra at 6:08 PM on September 29 [11 favorites]


Oh okay. Thanks, odinsdream. I was out & about all the day of that testimony and missed some key parts.
posted by torticat at 6:08 PM on September 29


The House says that refusal to testify is evidence of wrongdoing, and then... what?
On its own, Congress has little to no real power to make people follow the law. There's no magic bullet that fixes that. But in the impeachment inquiry their main job will not be to make the Executive branch follow the law, but instead to show the country that the law is being broken. "The President's cabinet officers are breaking the law in order to hide his activities" would become part of the case they make for impeachment.

(And also they could impeach Pompeo himself, or any other officer who obstructs the investigation.)
posted by mbrubeck at 6:12 PM on September 29 [6 favorites]


OMG have now caught up. Thanks katra, also. I had already been stunned by the Fraud and Treason accusations; now I'm just laughing.

Go Adam Schiff.
posted by torticat at 6:14 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Trump currently melting down on Twitter

If you had told me in January 2017 he would tweet this, I would have been terrified. Instead he’s become the POTUS who cried treason/lock her up.

I’m not sure there has ever been a US President so impotent in the wielding of his power.
posted by sallybrown at 6:22 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


If you had told me in January 2017 he would tweet this, I would have been terrified.

I'm not feeling terribly sanguine. I'll feel better about declaring him impotent at wielding his power when he no longer has that power.
posted by diogenes at 6:29 PM on September 29 [15 favorites]


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did an immense bellyflop on 60 Minutes, including asking Scott Pelley whether Trump really said “I would like you to do us a favor, though” to Zelensky.
posted by sallybrown at 6:31 PM on September 29 [15 favorites]


But he's already exercised an immense amount of power - appointment of judges, tossed the Overton window like someone from a MCU movie way downfield.

That, despite the cover provided by the GOP Senate, he still hasn't gone down is a testament to his power.

Deity forbid his administration was more competent. A lot of credit has to go to the oft maligned bureaucracy to somewhat limit the extreme excesses that were asked for.

Internationally, the USA has lost all semblance of reliability. It's the "winner" of the Cold War who succumbed to silverback gorilla rabies.
posted by porpoise at 6:33 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


I don't want to conjure up A Colder War, but Putin's Russia is definitely up a lot of markers on NATO lately. Has there been a consensus name for this slice of history yet?
posted by porpoise at 6:38 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


That clip of Kevin McCarthy on 60 Minutes reminded me of this.
posted by perhapses at 6:41 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Shortly after the [Washington Post] story broke, I received a message from a person directly involved with the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence and obstruction investigation of President Trump...The message read in relevant part: “None of us had any idea. Multiple people had opportunity and patriotic reason to tell us. Instead, silence.”

Call me crazy, but I'm going to suggest that the FBI has better avenues for addressing this grievance than sending angry emails to a journalist, and it might be time to use them.
posted by nubs at 6:46 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


Trump currently melting down on Twitter

They can add Contempt of Congress to the list of charges, right?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:52 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


His Twitter feed, predictably I guess, is veering into the apocalyptic:

"....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.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews"

I am dreading the sort of noises he'll be making in the coming weeks.
posted by biddeford at 6:56 PM on September 29 [14 favorites]


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did an immense bellyflop on 60 Minutes, including asking Scott Pelley whether Trump really said “I would like you to do us a favor, though” to Zelensky.

Whoa that is crazy. The word "though" in that sentence is another thing I've thought has been underreported/commented upon. It seems fairly significant. And it seems McCarthy just... didn't notice it? Wow.
posted by torticat at 6:57 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


But how does that compel anyone currently refusing to testify to testify? The House says that refusal to testify is evidence of wrongdoing, and then... what?

Up until this point, the White House has been arguing that legally congress doesn't have the power to subpoena witnesses for their investigations, because the investigations are not related to creating law. The Constitution only empowers congress to make law. It's a b.s. argument, because who is to say the investigations won't lead to creating new law? But it's successfully stalled the subpoenas up until this point.

However, these new subpoenas are specifically to investigate the president to impeach him, and the right of congress to impeach the president is explicit in the constitution. In other words, because this is now an impeachment inquiry, the games are over. There's no longer an argument for ignoring a subpoena. If someone ignores a subpoena for an impeachment investigation they will be arrested.

This is one of the reasons why many of us have been so frustrated that all the previous investigations were not framed as impeachment inquiries. It would have ensured the subpoenas for witnesses and documents could have moved forward.
posted by xammerboy at 7:06 PM on September 29 [29 favorites]


Whoa that is crazy. The word "though" in that sentence is another thing I've thought has been underreported/commented upon. It seems fairly significant. And it seems McCarthy just... didn't notice it? Wow.

These guys have access to the documents themselves, and expert analysis, but they get all of their information from Fox News and talk radio. They live in a propaganda bubble, and when they come into contact with reality, they're completely caught off guard. Who knew Hannity and Rush were just full of shit?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:10 PM on September 29 [13 favorites]


If someone ignores a subpoena for an impeachment investigation they will be arrested.

Arrested by whom, and subjected to which proceedings?
posted by Rykey at 7:16 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Hend Amry, @LibyaLiberty: He’s freaking out about his authority being questioned and the risk of being ousted so he met with a pro militia org to protect his power and now evokes his religious fundamentalist support base wait am I talking about the Middle East or Washington I can’t tell anymore... Just in case you thought that innate superiority, or exceptionalism, or civility was the differentiator.

If you're on Twitter and you don't already follow her, you should fix that right now. She is absolutely the best part of the whole site.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:32 PM on September 29 [6 favorites]


If someone ignores a subpoena for an impeachment investigation they will be arrested.

Arrested by whom, and subjected to which proceedings?


That would likely be considered contempt of congress, and would be referred to the DA in DC for law enforcement action.
posted by notpace at 7:34 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Arrested by whom, and subjected to which proceedings?

Congressional Subpoena Power and Executive Privilege: The Coming Showdown Between the Branches (Lawfare, January 30, 2019)
The courts have long reaffirmed Congress’s constitutional authority to issue and enforce subpoenas. As the Congressional Research Service explained in 2017:
Congress has three formal methods by which it can combat non-compliance with a duly issued subpoena. Each of these methods invokes the authority of a separate branch of government. First, the long dormant inherent contempt power permits Congress to rely on its own constitutional authority to detain and imprison a contemnor until the individual complies with congressional demands. Second, the criminal contempt statute permits Congress to certify a contempt citation to the executive branch for the criminal prosecution of the contemnor. Finally, Congress may rely on the judicial branch to enforce a congressional subpoena. Under this procedure, Congress may seek a civil judgment from a federal court declaring that the individual in question is legally obligated to comply with the congressional subpoena.
Either house of Congress can vote to hold in contempt a witness who refuses to provide testimony or produce requested documents pursuant to a congressionally authorized subpoena. As set out in 2 U.S.C. § 194, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia has the “duty [] to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” Contempt of Congress, which is a federal misdemeanor, is punishable by a maximum $100,000 fine and a maximum one-year sentence in federal prison. But if the executive branch is not inclined to prosecute a contemnor (the contemnor is a person or entity who is guilty of contempt before a judicial or legislative body), Congress will have a difficult time implementing such a penalty.

Congress can also file a lawsuit asking a judge to order the witness to provide the information, raising the additional possibility of imprisonment for contempt of court.
posted by katra at 7:39 PM on September 29 [10 favorites]


Fox News with a legitimate piece of news: “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.”
posted by sallybrown at 7:43 PM on September 29 [62 favorites]


Arrested by whom, and subjected to which proceedings?

House Democrats Are Ignoring This Key Lesson of Watergate (Jonathan C. Rose, Atlantic)
The Supreme Court has, in several decisions, affirmed the power of Congress to enforce its own subpoenas via its sergeant at arms. Ervin’s credible threat to do just that produced a complete retreat by the Nixon White House. To command the attention of the Trump White House, the actual arrest of an appropriate witness or two might well be required.
posted by katra at 7:47 PM on September 29 [23 favorites]


GOP lawmaker blasts Trump for quoting pastor warning of civil war over impeachment (The Hill, via a red-lettered, all-caps banner on the Drudge Report)
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) on Sunday criticized President Trump for quoting a pastor saying impeachment could trigger a "Civil War-like fracture" in the country.

"I have visited nations ravaged by civil war," Kinzinger tweeted.

"I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant."
posted by katra at 8:20 PM on September 29 [49 favorites]


These guys have access to the documents themselves, and expert analysis, but they get all of their information from Fox News and talk radio.

Hearing some of the GOP congress say they still hadn't read the Mueller Report in recent hearings, several weeks after it was publicly released, it seems clear now that they're purposely avoiding any documents, news, evidence that don't support their narrative. Presumably so they'll be able to avoid talking about those in public interviews. They'll simply try to shut down the line of questions saying they never read X,Y, or Z because the author was some flavor of horrible person.
posted by p3t3 at 8:23 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


The CRS report about contempt makes the pragmatic truth very clear: If the executive branch defies a Congressional subpoena, it goes to court. The court process has never taken less than 2 years, at which point that session of Congress expires along with the court case. While Congress could try reviving the sergeant at arms, the recourse there would presumably just be to lock the door or leave town, and then wait for that Congress and the court process to expire in < 2 years. (If you want more on the CRS report and historical context, see my comment here.)
posted by chortly at 8:28 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


@mattyglesias
I feel like threatening an opposition party member of congress with treason charges is probably an impeachable offense all on its own.
posted by xammerboy at 8:34 PM on September 29 [44 favorites]


Oh cool, so i get back from a rad birthday dinner with my wife and the US prez is literally threatening civil war. cool co co co cool.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:37 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


Joe Biden’s presidential campaign made an extraordinary request to executives of top news channels on Sunday, asking them to no longer book Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on their programs.

Joe.. Joe. Never interrupt your opponent when they are in the middle of making a mistake.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:49 PM on September 29 [50 favorites]


I think he asked that knowing that there is an approximately 0% chance that they will stop booking Giuliani.
posted by Drumhellz at 8:55 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


A question... in the "parody" that katra linked above, Schiff said "I'm gonna say this only seven times so you better listen good."

There had been earlier reporting that in the phone call, Trump had pressured Zelensky eight times to investigate Biden. I am kind of assuming that the transcript (or reconstructed conversation) that we all have read had been edited down a bit. (Assuming that, in part, because the transcript we have, even including translation, which should have been minimal given Zelensky's decent command of English, doesn't add up to 30 minutes.)

So... what other evidence is there that there was more to the call? Where did the "eight times" reporting come from, and in what way was it solid enough that Schiff would allude to it?

I'm not conspiracy-theorizing here, just wondering--if what we have seen is a foreshortened version of the call, does a more accurate version exist?
posted by torticat at 9:06 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


I'm not conspiracy-theorizing here, just wondering--if what we have seen is a foreshortened version of the call, does a more accurate version exist?

According to this Politico Magazine article by Samantha Vinograd: How the Trump White House is Abusing the Record-Keeping System
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: During presidential calls and video conferences, staff from the White House Situation Room take notes in real time. Those note-takers compare their notes with those taken by other officials authorized to listen to the call— often a director or senior director from the National Security Council who has responsibility for the country the president is speaking with—and together they work to compile an official readout. These memorandums, which should be drafted and reviewed soon after the call while its contents are fresh in everyone’s minds, are intended to be as close to verbatim as possible. That’s why there is more than one note-taker assigned to the call—so that note-takers can compare notes for accuracy.
And in the transcript, Trump does repeat himself a lot... "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. [...] I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. [...] Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it, if that's possible. [...] Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. [...] so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. [...] I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. [...] I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call."
posted by katra at 9:41 PM on September 29 [9 favorites]


But is the version we got the actual version from the folks taking contemporaneous notes? And if it was not, is there any way to get the original transcript?

I read the reconstructed discussion aloud, slowly (yeah, I'm that much of a dork) and got up to 13 minutes.

And also--I've read plenty about how these talks are memorialized (and thank you, katra, for your link). But I haven't seen anything about why these calls aren't just recorded and transcribed? What's the reason for this crazy system we have (and I know it predates the Trump admin)?
posted by torticat at 9:57 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


I haven't seen anything about why these calls aren't just recorded and transcribed?

The answer I see repeatedly is that after Nixon no president wanted recordings, but this doesn't jibe. A better answer, I think, is that recordings can be doctored. If you're going to confront a foreign leader with what they said during a meeting, 10 witnesses that all heard and transcribed the same thing without disagreement archived with oversight carries more weight than an automated recording.
posted by xammerboy at 10:08 PM on September 29 [15 favorites]


> In I listened to dozens of Obama’s calls. Trump knows that’s perfectly normal. (Joel Willet, WaPo Perspective), it's noted:
Consistent with White House practices since the Nixon administration, no recordings were made of the president during my tenure.
There's also some explanation about why the call can be longer than the time the two leaders are talking, i.e. the time it takes to get the President on the phone.
posted by katra at 10:11 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


odinsdream: "So, it’s a codeword system. What codeword did they file all of this under? My bet’s on MAGA."

C O V F E F E
posted by Rhaomi at 10:20 PM on September 29 [13 favorites]


In a way, it's surprising that something like this hasn't happened before. (I mean the whistle-blowing). Trump is so obviously incapable of and unsuited for diplomatic protocol, international leaders must have heard the worst BS, with 10 people on both sides listening in.
posted by mumimor at 10:25 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


NYTimes editorial board: Note to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone
Here’s who the House needs to hear from during its inquiry.
Basically a list of who else needs to be impeached or indicted. Pence is in there.
posted by mumimor at 10:29 PM on September 29 [29 favorites]


Pence is in there.

Oh yes, please. Burn them all down.
posted by torticat at 10:42 PM on September 29 [13 favorites]


'This is not a novel concept': FEC chair brings the hammer down on foreign influence after Trump's widely panned interview on the same topic
Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election.
Ellen Weintraub, chair of the Federal Election Commision - Jun 14, 2019

From June! Remember how Junior managed to slither away from charges because he was considered to be too stupid and ignorant to know this was illegal? Here we have the FEC chair, in June, putting everyone on notice.
posted by adept256 at 11:40 PM on September 29 [29 favorites]


In a way, it's surprising that something like this hasn't happened before. (I mean the whistle-blowing). Trump is so obviously incapable of and unsuited for diplomatic protocol, international leaders must have heard the worst BS, with 10 people on both sides listening in.

Agreed Trump must have been doing this for a while and it became standard protocol to put overt illegal activitiy in the Top Secret storage. This means for 2 years, dozens of people dealing with these calls, the "securing" of them, and following up on threats to foreign leaders did not report any of it out of deference to "the office" and/or partisan loyalty. The whistleblower is the only one of them that should still be employed by the end of this.
posted by benzenedream at 12:00 AM on September 30 [11 favorites]


There's no force behind the FEC chair's words. The FEC has been purposefully broken for years and as of the beginning of this month the FEC has no quorum.
posted by rdr at 12:02 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]




The Daily Beast has a good debunking of one of the smears against the whistleblower:
GOP Shows Russian Trolls How It’s Done With Whistleblower Smear – Trump has joined an army of conservative commentators in pushing a false story involving an obscure government form, a Trump official, and the whistleblower.

TL;DR:
...the form has allowed secondhand reports all along. The requirement for firsthand whistleblowing only is completely made up.

... In other words, Trump’s whistleblower didn’t go through some shady deep state backdoor. He or she followed the process, and government investigators found the firsthand evidence themselves.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:14 AM on September 30 [33 favorites]


Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’ NYTimes
Thomas P. Bossert, President Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump had urged Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

The article puts the blame squarely on Giuliani, which made me think Giuliani is the Russian liaison. Giuliani's ties to Russia go back decades. After all, Trump can't be on the phone with Putin without others listening, and while I really like the idea of Melania being his handler, it isn't practical. In that case, Giuliani isn't feeding Trump random conspiracy theories, because he too is a crazy old man, he's feeding him talking points that are deliberate distractions and favorable to Russian interests.
posted by mumimor at 4:12 AM on September 30 [15 favorites]


I'm not seeing a NYT print story about this, but The Daily podcast this morning about how the whistleblower complaint made its way through the channels is fascinating.
posted by torticat at 4:31 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]




Has there been a consensus name for this slice of history yet?

Pretty sure we're living through a version of what William Gibson called "the Jackpot" in The Peripheral (a slow-motion apocalypse in a world where "politics merged with reality TV, and then performance art").
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:10 AM on September 30 [29 favorites]


Good background about how records of conversations with heads of state are normally handled: I helped classify calls for two presidents. The White House abuse of the system is alarming.
posted by Sublimity at 5:41 AM on September 30 [10 favorites]


that article is really good. i'd quote from it but i'd be quoting the whole thing.

one things that stands out to me is that regular americans like me are probably unaware of the various classifications of Secret, Top Secret, Code Word Clearance, and other such intricacies for why things are categorized in certain ways.

i am pretty sure the Trump spinners are trying to make it out like they put these calls on the Code Word protection to keep them "secret" when per the article, ANY call a POTUS makes gets the lowest secret classification. stuff like "we're going to assassinate Bin Laden at 0800 and undercover agent SMITH is helping" is on the Code Word level, if im understanding things. it could endanger Smith and the entire operation if it was "just" Secret or Top Secret.

someone needs to make a chart or something to quickly explain visually how it works and why it's so wacky that these supposedly non-sensitive-information calls were put on the most secure setting possible.
posted by affectionateborg at 5:54 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


Yes, a very informative article, I noted this (which is obvious when you think about it):
In my almost six years on the NSC staff, I never personally saw or heard of the records of a presidential call being moved to the “code word” system. Such a move would be justified only if a president and foreign leader were discussing material so sensitive that intelligence officials with top-secret clearance had to be “read into” to access to it — an unlikely prospect, even with our closest allies. Presidents tend to discuss general foreign policy issues, not the fine details of covert actions.
(my bold)
posted by mumimor at 6:09 AM on September 30 [23 favorites]


why it's so wacky that these supposedly non-sensitive-information calls were put on the most secure setting possible.

If Trump could figure a way he would have every phone in the White House sign an NDA.
posted by valkane at 6:09 AM on September 30 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen anything about why these calls aren't just recorded and transcribed?

There is some reason (based NYT reporting ) to speculate that Trump might actually BE recording them, even though no president since Nixon has done so.

Fred Kaplan, Slate: "The Zelensky Memo Suggests There Might Be Tapes"
[T]ake a close look at the last sentence of the Times’ footnote: “[V]oice recognition software was used” in preparing the document, allowing for “long, direct quotations.” This might explain the extraordinary detail. But it also suggests something else: There might be White House tapes.
[...]
So, what kind of “voice-recognition software” is used to help the current White House aides monitor Trump’s phone conversations? How does this software enable the transcription of “long, direct quotations”? There might not be tapes, per se, but there is almost certainly a digitized record of the phone calls—and not just this call with Zelensky, but other calls with Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and other figures of interest.
[...]
Trump declassified this memorandum, which is why we are all reading it. Presidents have the right to declassify whatever they want. But in releasing this specific memo, Trump may have created a precedent by which other materials relating to the same inquiry might also be declassified. Or at least he’s given the House Intelligence Committee, which is authorized to see material much more highly classified than this, a good argument for why other related material ought to be released.

In other words, the Zelensky memo may have revealed the existence of a vast and previously unknown trove of information that might be used to help seal the president’s fate.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:56 AM on September 30 [21 favorites]


In case anyone needs a recap, this is another good summary from the Daily Beast debunking the lie about Biden and son.
posted by bitteschoen at 6:59 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


Collusion, conspiracy, impeachment, and censure (Frank Vyan Walton, Daily Kos Poster)
Hoping for the best is fine, but we need to be ready and fully prepared for the worst. We have to be ready for the impeachment vote to fail in the House as it already has twice. We also have to be ready for it to succeed in the House, then get punked in the Senate.

To that end: I strongly suggest we not just push for the be-all end-all of an impeachment resolution. I suggest we also seek to pass a formal censure resolution as well.

Censure is a formal, and public, group condemnation of an individual, often a group member, whose actions run counter to the group's acceptable standards for individual behavior.[1] In the United States, governmental censure is done when a body's members wish to publicly reprimand the President of the United States, a member of Congress, a judge or a cabinet member. It is a formal statement of disapproval.[2]
Apparently, it can happen simultaneously with an impeachment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:11 AM on September 30 [3 favorites]


Heads up in the heat of impeachment proceedings and whatnot: Government shutdown (or shut down for Ctrl-F'ers out there) averted until November 21.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:21 AM on September 30 [6 favorites]


The Weekly Sift has published a useful guide to combating impeachment disinformation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:27 AM on September 30 [14 favorites]


BTW regarding the discussion of the whistleblower's gender above...

The Wall Street Journal has made it pretty unambiguous. "The whistleblower, whose identity hasn’t been made public, is a man who works for the Central Intelligence Agency, The Wall Street Journal confirmed last week. The House is waiting for the whistleblower’s attorneys to receive security clearances, said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee chairman."

-Josh Mitchell, WSJ, "Whistleblower Is Expected to Testify Soon, House Intelligence Chairman Schiff Says"
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:30 AM on September 30 [3 favorites]


There's no force behind the FEC chair's words. The FEC has been purposefully broken for years and as of the beginning of this month the FEC has no quorum.

Not true. This isn't a mere paperwork violation for which the FEC issues a fine. Foreign campaign solicitation is a federal crime subject to jail. Michael Cohen is sitting in jail right now for such a campaign violation, prosecuted by US Attorneys.
posted by JackFlash at 7:33 AM on September 30 [20 favorites]




Or at least he’s given the House Intelligence Committee, which is authorized to see material much more highly classified than this, a good argument for why other related material ought to be released.

In other words, the Zelensky memo may have revealed the existence of a vast and previously unknown trove of information that might be used to help seal the president’s fate.
Luppe Luppen (nycsouthpaw):
In the civilian legal world, having the misfortune to be discovered hiding some piece of damning evidence in a protected space (a personal email account, a home safe, an R&D server, etc.) often results in investigators or adversaries gaining access to everything in that space.

Letting a committee of investigators or attorneys look through the entirety of the WH’s code word program documents is anathema to the idea of compartmented intelligence, but is there any other way to know what else has been illicitly hidden in there? It’s a pickle.
posted by Jpfed at 8:17 AM on September 30 [16 favorites]


Another pretty decent recap for a short video: Ukraine Timeline: From Giuliani's Outreach To Trump's Phone Call | Meet The Press | NBC News – Mike McFaul, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, walks through the timeline of events that lead to calls for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump's behavior.

Highlight and transcript on Daily Kos
Here’s my cut-to the chase assessment of that segment:
Bottom-line: With the unexpected election of Zelensky, the inside-guy Rudy had been cultivating -- went away -- replaced because of the new Ukrainian Administration.
Team Trump had to find a new way to pressure Zelensky to get on board with the Rudy-Trump 2020 plan, already in partially progress -- to manufacture Dirt on Biden.
The withholding of $391 Million in approved Military aid for Ukraine, was their way to get Zelensky to 'play ball' with the Trump and his guy Rudy.
The former ambassador also says, interestingly:
The only piece I'm interested in, Chuck, is what's the Russia angle? Because just a few days after that call, he's on the phone with Vladimir Putin. It sounds like that call has also been, you know, somehow put on the secret server. ... I would love to know what he talked about, with Putin.
See also:
MOSCOW, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington would need Russian consent to publish transcripts of phone calls between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:19 AM on September 30 [31 favorites]


Michael Cohen is in prison for tax evasion, domestic campaign finance violations, and he also pled guilty to lying to congress. In order to get there a special counsel had to refer his case to SDNY and they had to decide that the violation was willful and then decide to prosecute him. What I said was that the FEC is toothless not that campaign finance crimes aren't crimes. The FEC is supposed to do the civil side of campaign law enforcement and they can't.

The latest departure leaves the FEC with only three out of six commissioners, which means that the agency is one vote short of the minimum of four votes needed to initiate audits, engage in rulemaking, vote on enforcement matters, or even to issue an advisory opinion or to hold meetings.

That leaves the criminal side to the DOJ and who really believes that they're going to do their job?
posted by rdr at 8:24 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


MOSCOW, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington would need Russian consent to publish transcripts of phone calls between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

I missed the part where Russia/Putin has any say in how our government informs its people what its leaders are doing.

...oh. Right.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:30 AM on September 30 [67 favorites]


The Weekly Sift has published a useful guide to combating impeachment disinformation.

Thanks, NoxAeternum (link). I liked the points made on "whataboutism"
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:34 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


I for one salute our Kremlin overlords with their masterful move! It’s the second time in a few days that they bring up the phone calls, that doesn’t sound like they want them to remain a secret really. Also, they’re highlighting the fact that memo of the call with Zelensky was obviously made public without Zelensky’s foreknowledge or consent, and put him in an embarassing position. Something you couldn’t do that easily to Russia... Two birds with a stone, by just saying "you need our consent" they’re embarassing both the US and Ukraine.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:42 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


Josh Mitchell, WSJ, "Whistleblower Is Expected to Testify Soon, House Intelligence Chairman Schiff Says"

Schiff may have gotten ahead of himself, says the whistleblower's lawyer, via Politico's Natasha Bertrand:
Full comment from @MarkSZaidEsq: “60 Minutes completely misinterpreted the contents of our letter. The letter itself is now published online at [here] Nor have we reached any agreement with Congress on contact with the whistleblower. Discussions remain ongoing.” {emphasis added, but this could change at any time, given the vortex-like news cycle}
Meanwhile CNN's Manu Raju follows up with Mitch McConnell about impeachment:
Mitch McConnell, asked on CNBC about Trump attacking the whistleblower and Adam Schiff, punts on the question. “What I want to do is spend our time accomplishing things for the American people,” he said.

McConnell also made clear that the Senate would have to begin a trial if the House impeaches Trump. “Under the Senate rules, we are required to take it up,” McConnell said. “And we will follow the Senate rules.”

McConnell added that it would require 67 votes to change Senate rules to prevent a