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October 7, 2019 7:14 AM   Subscribe

"It’s not a pretty picture, but in a sense, it’s Federalist 51 in action." The Washington Post offers an annotated calendar that will be updated: What’s next in the Trump impeachment inquiry, and will Trump cooperate with it? as well as ongoing reporting and analysis. posted by katra (937 comments total) 94 users marked this as a favorite
 
Impeach Trump, Repeatedly (Charles Blow, NYT Opinion)
There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents a president from being impeached more than once. [...] McConnell put it this way:

“Yeah, it’s a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change. So, I would have no choice but to take it up. How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up.”

This suggests that McConnell could “take up” a House impeachment but quickly move to dismiss it, thereby allowing the Republican Senate to cowardly back out of doing its duty to place patriotism over party.

I say, in that case, deluge them with new articles of impeachment as they present themselves. Force the Senate to continually hold trials and take votes defending Trump’s wrongdoing all the way up to the eve of the election.
posted by katra at 7:32 AM on October 7 [51 favorites]


[General reminder from your modfolk in this weird(er) busy(er) moment in US politics: there's a lot going on right now with this impeachment situation, and we don't have the resources to aggressively moderate these discussions. So expect this, like any busy MeFi thread, to be a bit bumpy and chaotic at times; it's good to flag really problematic or axe-grinding stuff but don't flag stuff just for being chatty/jokey/riffy, that's an okay part of the mix.

On the flip side, if you're tending to be really chatty, or to tend toward "here's yet another opportunity to explain my now-well-established position", try to throttle your own commenting to not take up an outsized share of space. If there's a substantial side angle to the story that bears a lot of discussion, please consider making a dedicated post for it so that that discussion can happen there and take some load off this central impeachment-focused thread.

When in doubt, drop us a line at the contact form and we can talk it out. Thanks, y'all.]

posted by cortex (staff) at 7:43 AM on October 7 [83 favorites]






The Only Issue Left Is Trump’s ‘Absolute Right’ to Solicit Collusion (Jonathan Chait, New York)
He is announcing to every foreign state that American relations with his government — and, should he prevail, every future government — can and will be influenced by their willingness to put their judicial or quasi-judicial systems at the disposal of his reelection campaign. [...]

Presidents don’t get to decide which American citizens are subject to criminal investigations here — why can they make such determinations for other countries’ legal systems? [...]

The pretext that somehow Trump is advancing the cause of good government by demanding international anti-corruption probes is a morbid joke. First, he is not making this demand of countries with open and fair legal systems that can be counted on to deliver reliable findings. He is not asking Canada or France. He is pressing notoriously corrupt states to deliver a predetermined outcome. For Ukraine or China to quietly investigate his charges and then announce Joe Biden did nothing wrong would be of zero or negative value to him. The favor he is bartering for is the insinuation of guilt.

[...] The clutter has been cleared away and everybody faces the brutally simple choice that Trump presents. Either they hand the president the absolute right, now and forever, to use American foreign policy as a lever to discredit their political rivals, or they vote to impeach.
posted by katra at 8:00 AM on October 7 [23 favorites]


Robbyrobs:

You sure you’re ready to endorse that Andrew C McCarthy think piece? The one that says Democrats don’t have a case for impeachment, so they’re determined to ram through charges anyway?
posted by argybarg at 8:09 AM on October 7 [13 favorites]


I didn't see it as an endorsement of the piece, rather a peek into the opposition's pov. (shrug) mebbe not.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:12 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


From robbyrobs first link:

The House has not voted as a body to authorize an impeachment inquiry.

This is a bullshit Republican talking point per leftist rag Newsweek.
posted by PMdixon at 8:15 AM on October 7 [29 favorites]


Could Trump be impeached and removed from office then run again for reelection? (Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk/AJC)

Technically, yes.
Imagine Trump were to be impeached and then convicted and removed from office. Following the vote for his removal, the Senate would have one more issue to decide. It would have to determine if removal from office is a severe enough penalty for any crime Trump may have committed, or if it should ban him from ever holding office again.

What does the Constitution have to say about it?

The Constitution is clear on what can be done. Article I, Section 3 says, “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.”

It does not say that both of those things must be done.
A Politico Op-Ed advocates this. Haven't seen this advocated anywhere else.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:16 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


It does not say that both of those things must be done.

that is a very strange interpretation of the word "AND"
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:20 AM on October 7 [52 favorites]


The Senate would vote separately, and people who were impeached and convicted have held subsequent federal office before, but it seems like a bad idea to put Mike Pence in office but let Trump run to replace him and then you potentially have to deal with him again, having kicked him out before.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:24 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


In this particular impeachment, it's being treated as a given that few, if any, GOP senators would vote to convict, out of risk of being primaried.

Couple of ifs in a row for you...

If the trial drags on long enough that the GOP primaries are in the rearview, and if public sentiment swings heavily toward removing the president from office, could some GOP senators potentially vote to convict after all?

I'm not asking whether enough would flip to make a difference. I'm asking how many could potentially flip once their places as 2020 GOP nominees was no longer in question.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:29 AM on October 7 [5 favorites]


Trump is the kid with his hand in the cookie jar – and Republicans know it (Robert Reich, Guardian Opinion)
Don’t assume the Senate won’t convict and remove a president who sees the danger and grows more desperate by the day
Twenty-three Republicans are up for re-election next fall. Most are from red states that support Trump. But in a few months they’ll be safe from primary challenges. They’ll be free to vote him out. Others – Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, for example – are from purple states where they’ll be challenged by a Democrat and have every incentive to vote Trump out. Trump has no leverage over long-serving senators planning to retire, such as Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Meanwhile, he’s losing support among responsible Senate Republicans like Mitt Romney of Utah, who calls his actions “troubling in the extreme”, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, who urges colleagues not to “circle the wagons”, and intelligence chair Richard Burr of North Carolina, who vows to “get to the bottom” of what happened.

Trump remains hugely popular among Republican voters but most of them care more about the economy than about Trump, and the economy is slowing – in large part because of Trump’s trade wars.
posted by katra at 8:35 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


> that is a very strange interpretation of the word "AND"

There's precedent, as the Politico Op-Ed notes.

And it makes sense. The language in the Constitution is describing the maximum allowed punishment. Implementing only half of the allowed punishment is, by definition, less than the maximum.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:37 AM on October 7 [10 favorites]




If Jeff Flake is to be believed, 36 senators would vote for impeachment if they thought they wouldn’t be punished by GOP voters.

Republicans know that they only need 50% +1 to hold office (and it is exactly how they govern). If you want to see them flip, make it clear that continuing to support Trump will get them 50% -1 votes in their next election.

As a corollary, I also think we shouldn’t rush into impeachment. Besides the obvious fact that voting now will stunt any investigations and leave potentially damning evidence unexposed, it also plays into the GOP desire to put Trump’s scandals in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible. As long as they are vulnerable to a primary from the right, they have an incentive to excuse his corrupt behavior.

I would think April of next year would be a great time to vote on articles of impeachment. The election fields For the fall will be largely set and it is close enough to November that the Democrats can keep Trump’s lawlessness front and center for the election.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:57 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]


Trump Warns Turkey Over Syria: I Will Obliterate Your Economy if You Do Anything Off Limits Haaretz, but not paywalled.
From the article, Trump (or perhaps Miller) tweets:
As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...
I don't know what anything in that tweet means, but it's strangely fascinating
posted by mumimor at 8:58 AM on October 7 [23 favorites]


In my reading of the entire last thread over the last few days, this is what I've come up with: His lawyers will win. They know how to run out the clock brilliantly. Every charge, every subpoena, every request no matter how small or insignificant will be appealed, double-appealed, challenged, reversed, ignored then appealed, and then ignored with "whuddyagunnadoboutit?". Running out the clock is already seeming like a winning strategy because no one's been so brazen and shameless to do it. I hope I'm wrong, but I also have a healthy sum on PredictIt that's backing my pessimism.
posted by Philipschall at 8:59 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


The rest of that tweet reads:

...the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!

...is this a new level of unhinged? Calling himself "unmatched."? He sounds like the Wizard of OZ
posted by emjaybee at 9:00 AM on October 7 [38 favorites]


... I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits ...

This is pretty wild phrasing, even for him.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:01 AM on October 7 [64 favorites]


Yet another delay in the court process: Trump wins delay in New York court fight over producing his tax returns (NBC News)
As a result of the stay, Mazars USA, the president's tax preparer, doesn't have to hand over the documents by 1 p.m. Monday, as was required. A panel of appellate judges will hear the case on an expedited basis and then issue a ruling.

Earlier Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero tossed the lawsuit Trump's legal team had brought against District Attorney Cyrus Vance arguing Vance should not receive Trump's tax returns because "'[v]irtually all legal commenters agree' that a sitting President of the United States is not 'subject to the criminal process' while he is in office.”

In a 75-page order, Marrero called the presidential immunity Trump invoked in the lawsuit to stop the production of tax documents "unqualified and boundless." "The president asserts an extraordinary claim in the dispute now before this court," the Manhattan federal court judge wrote, later adding, "This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from" the judicial process.

In response to Trump asserting that not only he but also his family, businesses and associates were immune from producing documents, Marrero ruled that presidents, their families and businesses were not above the law. Marrero called the president's argument "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values."
posted by katra at 9:03 AM on October 7 [20 favorites]


Those tweets about Turkey going off-limits may have something to do with this:

@LindseyGrahamSC: Just spoke to Sen @ChrisVanHollen about situation in Syria.
We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.

I could swear I saw this quoted with "VETO-proof" when I first woke up this morning, but it's not there now. Maybe it was edited, maybe that was someone else's words.

I somehow doubt Graham has found his conscience or his courage, but we have seen Trump lose votes on international issues and sanctions against his buddies before (and then ignore them). Odds are this will be the same--he gives Lindsey and other Republicans a sad, does what he wants anyway, and they never do anything more than hang their heads and get behind him. With impeachment on the horizon, I think at the very least this adds to Trump's stress and paranoia.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:07 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]


Do not arouse the wrath of the Great and Powerful Oz!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:08 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I must say that the "unmatched wisdom" thing looks like a spoof (until proven wrong, possibly a matter of seconds).
posted by Namlit at 9:09 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Well now we have a sense of what Graham was doing during his visits with Erdogan a few weeks ago.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:10 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


The important thing to remember with Graham etc. is that they’re not actually cowardly, sycophantic idiots – they just play the role for their voters and the POTUS. When Trump steps outside the lines on something they genuinely care about, they’re fully capable of acting. Which just shows you how horrific the “lines” they’re working with actually are.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:11 AM on October 7 [61 favorites]


Graham's pivot on impeachment may be the most amazing bits about this whole thing. How some culture-jammer hasn't yet rigged up an endless loop of that on the side of the Russell Building is beyond me.
posted by jquinby at 9:15 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


looks like a spoof
Ok. It wasn't.
posted by Namlit at 9:23 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


katra: Yet another delay in the court process

My preferred focus was this part: In a 75-page order (embedded PDF from Washington Post), Marrero called the presidential immunity Trump invoked in the lawsuit to stop the production of tax documents "unqualified and boundless."

Destroy the idea of "presidential immunity" now, pave the way for future indictments.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM on October 7 [32 favorites]


Man, the talking heads are out in force spreading the White House's "this is an attempted coup" talking point. NPR had a White House trade negotiator on this morning to talk about the ongoing China talks and he managed to shoehorn a tirade about the"coup" into his spiel.

Then, on 1A, a listener wrote-in ranting about the Democrats' "attempted coup." There seems to be legs on this particular talking point.

When I think about "coup" becoming the official WH stance, and combine it with Trump directly calling Schiff a traitor, I start to nervously wonder if Trump and the DoJ wouldn't actually arrest and charge select House Democrats for treason. I mean...That's a step too far that even Trump would take...right? And, would Barr's DoJ go along?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:29 AM on October 7 [12 favorites]


If he does it fast enough, with loyalists air-gapped from the DoJ mainstream then what would the consequences be?

Nothing from the Senate and a two year court battle with Schiff behind bars during the whole thing.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:34 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


DirtyOldTown I don't think after the primaries is enough to tip Republican Senators, I could be wrong but I think they think that removing Trump from office will hurt both the Party in general and their own personal re-elections more than keeping him will.
posted by sotonohito at 9:36 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Unmatched can be in the positive direction. It could also mean unmached LOW point. Perhaps one day there willl be briefings and someone can ask about the un-matched-ness.

If, of course, there is nothing else going on that day/week. It's up there with asking about the lack of press briefings, the number of golf-days and his mental/physical health.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:37 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Can we not catastrophize and fantasize? The things we are actually facing are enough without making up worse-case potential futures.
posted by rikschell at 9:38 AM on October 7 [77 favorites]


Man, the talking heads are out in force spreading the White House's "this is an attempted coup" talking point.

Impeachment tentacles spread throughout Trump’s team (Politico)
A president who loves to be in control is finding it difficult to control an investigation that’s extending far beyond his direct orbit.
The impeachment fight under Trump is quickly surpassing the reach of the presidential impeachment battles under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, swallowing even larger swaths of the federal government. The whistleblower complaint and the resulting investigative sprawl are making the probe harder for Trump and his White House to stamp out, with Democrats gaining new avenues to uncover damaging details that contradict Trump. [...]

Some Trump allies believe a war room could serve as a nerve center to coordinate messaging across its administration while protecting Trump from what might be released from an agency, or a seemingly obscure official.

White House staffers remain divided on the necessity of such a centralized operation inside the West Wing to coordinate the political and press response to the impeachment inquiry. No one can decide who should run it, or how it should be structured, and the president continues to prefer to fight by leaning on his own public comments and Twitter feed. [...]

Instead, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have picked up the slack, putting forth a new advertisement this week that calls the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a “coup” that liberals wanted to launch ever since Trump was elected.
posted by katra at 9:43 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]


While agreeing on the need not to catastrophize, I think it's worth keeping an eye on this "coup" rhetoric from a Trump's Mirror standpoint. It's pretty common for coups/seizures of power to be justified by claims of that the other side was doing the same (or was about to). And the institutional guardrails that, early on, prevented T from openly using the apparatus of the state against his political enemies have suffered quite a bit of corrosion over the past 2.75 years (~99 Scaramuccis).
posted by Not A Thing at 9:47 AM on October 7 [54 favorites]


NPR had a White House trade negotiator on this morning to talk about the ongoing China talks and he managed to shoehorn a tirade about the"coup" into his spiel.

That was far from the only outright lie Steve Inskeep let him get away with.
posted by Gelatin at 9:50 AM on October 7 [22 favorites]


(I’d be so thankful if somebody could make a Rojava/Turkey/Kurds post because I really want to discuss it but don’t wish to derail 😔 Thank you!)
posted by gucci mane at 10:01 AM on October 7 [13 favorites]


Could Warren and Sanders pardon trump should they win?
posted by growabrain at 10:49 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Nobody can pardon him for the NY stuff.
posted by Selena777 at 10:52 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Nobody can pardon him for the NY stuff.

Andrew Cuomo would like a word.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:54 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


From above:
Can a president or his successor issue a pardon for an impeachment conviction?

No. The framers of the Constitution, in Article II Section 2, specifically prohibited the president’s pardon power from reversing impeachment convictions.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:57 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]




Thorzdad: Man, the talking heads are out in force spreading the White House's "this is an attempted coup" talking point. NPR had a White House trade negotiator on this morning to talk about the ongoing China talks and he managed to shoehorn a tirade about the"coup" into his spiel.

That's White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, heard here (official transcript forthcoming), who is spinning Trump as the Strong Man, a focused man who comes to the White House every day to create more jobs, without detailing what jobs (recent post, "Working Harder and Harder To Earn Less and Less"). But ZERO pushback on the heavy Republican party spin. Which brings me to this article --

With impeachment looming, the news media is growing a spine. It needs stiffening. (Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, Oct. 2, 2019)

Well, that didn't last long, if NPR was ever present enough to push back on rhetoric. Can't burn those bridges with key propaganda minsters, er involved insiders.

I appreciate the breadth of topics covered by NPR, but it's pretty clear they're a platform for information distribution when it comes to having political representatives on the air.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:21 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


That tendentious Andrew McCarthy piece in The Hill just collapsed under this: "Seeking Ukraine Aid Records, House Subpoenas White House Budget Office and Pentagon"
posted by PhineasGage at 11:26 AM on October 7 [13 favorites]


I noted a huge contrast in headline bias:

MSNBC "Trump wins temporary stay, does not have to produce tax documents today"
WaPo "Judge rules Trump must give tax returns to Manhattan DA", with nothing about the stay on the front page.

For once, the NYT got it about right (IMHO), noting both the decision and the stay on the front page.

But MSNBC, seriously, "Trump wins ..."?
posted by Dashy at 11:31 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]




NPR had a White House trade negotiator on this morning to talk about the ongoing China talks and he managed to shoehorn a tirade about the"coup" into his spiel.

Not a trade negotiator. That would be a civil servant and a coup talking point would be way out of line. Instead it was a sycophant: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. Who is a nutjob.
posted by srboisvert at 11:46 AM on October 7 [17 favorites]


Interesting, ZeusHumms. Most of the options had been laid out, but there is one that caught my eye as unique: "The Presidential Succession Act might be unconstitutional." I hadn't heard that there was any potential question about that (specifically, that the Speaker and President Pro Temp would be ineligible as they are from a different branch of government). The logic and context always had those two roles making sense to me.

(The logic: having been elected first by their constituents and then, ostensibly, by representatives of the nation at large, made them the highest-ranking elected officials outside of POTUS/VPOTUS. The context: the scenarios generally in mind were some sort of decapitating strike by an enemy with little-to-no time to sort things out rather than a relatively slow-moving scandal.)

I figured one of the reasons Trump was throwing Pence under the bus like it was the Olympic try-outs was to force loyalty in the Senate: "I'll force the Dems to impeach Pence, too, then you'll have to justify making Pelosi POTUS to your constituents." This could be the work-around. SCOTUS could declare the Presidential Succession act unconstitutional, and have a GOP appointee in the cabinet become POTUS. However, I think that throws us deep into the "no one knows what happens next, but it's bad no matter what" territory.

If I'm in line for succession, can I say "pass?" The compromise could be both Pelosi and Grassley pass, along with every cabinet member until they reach a mutually agreed successor. This allows impeachment and removal to happen while still keeping the office "in the family." Both the Republicans and Democrats can have this albatross of an issue settled before the 2020 election.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:48 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Peter Navarro was hired when Jared Kushner searched "china" on Amazon and called the author of the book with the scariest cover. Not a joke.
posted by theodolite at 11:49 AM on October 7 [36 favorites]


There, he found a book co-written by Peter Navarro and was struck by its title, "Death by China."

...which later turned out to be a murder-mystery set around a wedding registry.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:52 AM on October 7 [15 favorites]


...which later turned out to be a murder-mystery set around a wedding registry.

Y'know, for the 20th book in a series, it wasn't bad.
posted by jquinby at 11:56 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


SCOTUS could declare the Presidential Succession act unconstitutional, and have a GOP appointee in the cabinet become POTUS.

Congress could also just pass a new succession act. But boy did that link blow up my local Indivisible Facebook Group. People HATED the idea. I suspect they did not read past the headline, because I found this argument pretty convincing...
By taking Pelosi out of the mix, Democrats wouldn’t be giving up a realistic chance of gaining the presidency, anyway. If Trump is impeached by the House and removed by the Senate, Pence will become president and nominate a new vice president. That’s the procedure set forth by the 25th Amendment and used twice since its ratification in 1965.

But even a little uncertainty about that outcome might be enough to push otherwise open-minded Republicans away from voting for impeachment or conviction. Removing Pelosi and the third-in-line official, Senate President Pro Tem Charles Grassley, from having any chance of becoming president would be a worthwhile gesture for Democrats to make, indicating that they accept the reality that a Republican will be president until January, 2021, no matter what happens. We can mock the idea that Republican senators care more about installing Republican judges than they do about presidential corruption, but the truth is that they were elected by voters who care deeply about retaining the power to appoint conservative judges and pass conservative laws. Even the vaguest possibility of losing that authority sets up a real conflict for them. Insure that Republicans keep the presidency, and the conflict is removed.

In other words, by passing a simple bill, Democrats would do what they can to align Republican incentives the way they want. At no cost to themselves.
[...]
This isn’t just about, or even mainly about, impeachment. The possibility that the deaths or departures of two people could award the presidency to the party that lost the most recent election is an unacceptable risk. The law also sets up a perverse incentive during times of divided government for Congress to play constitutional hardball and refuse to confirm anyone to a vice-presidential vacancy in order to leave the speaker next in line.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:00 PM on October 7 [12 favorites]


When I think about "coup" becoming the official WH stance, and combine it with Trump directly calling Schiff a traitor, I start to nervously wonder if Trump and the DoJ wouldn't actually arrest and charge select House Democrats for treason

I feel the "coup" talk is significantly vulnerable to a realization that it's a bit melodramatic to apply the word to an administration that is almost entirely Acting Whatevers. There simply isn't enough government there to be a coup. If it was a real government there would be more confirmed positions, and the fact that there aren't raises the question of their fundamental legitimacy and authority to be anything more than the monarchy's attendants, the peanut gallery at court.
posted by rhizome at 12:07 PM on October 7 [10 favorites]


Congress could also just pass a new succession act.

For values of "could" that don't include Mitch McConnell as Republican Senate Majority Leader. And if Congress did pass it, Trump would have to sign it into law, which he would never do, because it'd clearly be about making getting rid of him more palatable.
posted by Gelatin at 12:09 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I feel the "coup" talk is significantly vulnerable to a realization that it's a bit melodramatic to apply the word to an administration that is almost entirely Acting Whatevers. There simply isn't enough government there to be a coup.

Impeachment is written into the Constitution. On the other hand, all the "acting whatevers" is really much more like a coup, because it robs the Senate of its Constitutional and coequal role to advise and consent, and Trump has often boasted that he likes the increased power having an acting, as opposed to permanent, figure devolves to him.
posted by Gelatin at 12:12 PM on October 7 [41 favorites]


Republicans unload on Trump for Syria shift when he needs them most (Politico)
At a time when Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided over impeachment, President Donald Trump is uniting Congress — in condemnation of his Syria policies.
McConnell joins other Republicans in rebuking Trump’s Syria withdrawal (WaPo)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly rebuked President Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria, saying that a supermajority in the Senate disagreed with the president’s abrupt announcement.
posted by katra at 12:14 PM on October 7 [15 favorites]


Incidentally, depriving the Senate of their power to advise and consent (via the super sketchy Tenure in Office act) was one of the charges against Andrew Johnson.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:22 PM on October 7 [28 favorites]


Some dark comic dismay (Twitter): manhattan DA trying to get trump’s tax returns
posted by srboisvert at 12:24 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The possibility that the deaths or departures of two people could award the presidency to the party that lost the most recent election is an unacceptable risk.

I don't know. As I observed, the Speaker and President pro Temp are both elected by their state or district, then by their respective bodies (that are made up of people elected by their constituencies). While in practice, this means it's determined by the party that holds the chamber, there is a pretty distinct line back to the electorate.

In contrast, members of the cabinet are nominated by the president, and confirmed by the Senate.

In the current state of affairs, the fact that the Speaker is of the opposite party of both POTUS and the Senate are inconvenient--it's that much more difficult to investigate and punish a scandal. However, in the common scenarios for succession to that layer (decapitating strike on the US), I feel a bit better about the degrees-removed-from-election a ranking member of congress has over a cabinet official.

On the other hand, at least once a year we risk having someone way back on the bench become president through just such circumstances, trusting national unity will get us through that time.
posted by MrGuilt at 12:25 PM on October 7


The Syria / Turkey situation is in the process of blowing up - I'm not sure how to disentangle it from the threat of impeachment, which is driving Trump to lash out.

Tweet, breaking: "BREAKING — U.S. effectively shuts down Northern Syria airspace to Turkey, according to Pentagon statement to Anadolu. Turkey has been expelled from Joint Air Operations Center, and surveillance and reconnaissance data aren’t shared with Ankara."

(That is, the Pentagon is basically doing the opposite of what Trump tweeted we were about to do.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:28 PM on October 7 [25 favorites]


So the army is defying the civilian commander-in-chief? That sounds like a coup.
posted by clawsoon at 12:31 PM on October 7 [35 favorites]


is anyone working on a Syria/Turkey FPP? i'd do it myself but i'm pretty clueless about this part of the world. seems like an overview of the history along with a place for relevant news would be helpful.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 12:34 PM on October 7 [7 favorites]


Interesting thought experiment:

With the impeachment stuff getting worse over the last few days, it was to be expected that Trump would cause a diversion.

Now, instead of it just being the Democrats who take the bait and forget all about impeachment, crying "Syria withdrawal booh", he's not only pushed some Republicans to say "booh" too, he's in fact given them an easy tool to test-run their disagreement with the president, for worse things to come. We'll see how that works on their collective courage-to-withstand.
posted by Namlit at 12:35 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Okay. What the actual fuck is going on.
posted by angrycat at 12:36 PM on October 7 [20 favorites]


Mother Jones: Reminder: Trump Has a Massive Conflict of Interest in Turkey.

Not a diversion. Not 3-D chess. It's always about the scam.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:39 PM on October 7 [45 favorites]



... I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits ...

This is pretty wild phrasing, even for him.


It's real?!

holy shit
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:39 PM on October 7 [13 favorites]


is anyone working on a Syria/Turkey FPP?

it looks like a post is getting underway at the US Politics FPP Draft page at the MeFi Wiki.

posted by katra at 12:40 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]


I would guess Defense/Pentagon trying to give their allies/sources/intelligence in the Kurds a chance to hide/escape before whatever is going to go down, goes down.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:44 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


I will predict it here in writing: the House will soon impeach, and the Senate will convict.

Until now Trump was a useful idiot and helpful diversion so the Republican leadership could pursue their long-standing goals. But now, 1) he is actively working against their beliefs & interests, and 2) he is a multiplying force to get the *Democratic* base to turn out.

Mitch McConnell sees that his Senate Majority is at greater risk if Trump stays in office and continues to rile up Democratic turnout. Pence will know to be a do-nothing President through next November, and with Trump gone a big share of voters will breathe a big sigh and revel in the chance to pay less attention. Which will improve Republican changes to keep the Senate.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:59 PM on October 7 [11 favorites]


Does it feel correct to think of drafting articles of impeachment as a vote of no-confidence?
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:09 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


PhineasGage: I agree that Trump is starting to act contrary to the GOP's interests, and he is energizing Democratic voters. The later of the two statements has been that way pretty much since he took the Oath of Office.

I also agree that dealing with Trump now is in the GOP's best interest. Impeachment, with or without removal, subsequent to the primaries leaves the GOP with a damaged candidate heading into the general.

Mitch McConnell sees that his Senate Majority is at greater risk if Trump stays in office and continues to rile up Democratic turnout.

This is the part I'm not seeing yet. We've seen some cracks among the odd senator here and there, but there is no signs McConnell is ready to remove the president. If anything, he's looking to stop impeachment in the Senate: "The way that impeachment stops is with a Senate majority with me as majority leader."

Yes, he's broken with Trump on Turkey, but that's relatively low stakes. I think the only way the Senate votes to remove (if at all) is if Mcconnell fears he'll be voted out of his post. This could change--I didn't think Pelosi would change as she did--but I think there is a long road between here and there.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:09 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


If anyone's looking for the phase-transition moment when Trump ceased being President and crossed the event horizon to ignominy, it may have been when the Pentagon reversed his orders.
posted by acb at 1:14 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Goddammit, this is not a coup.

A coup is when you wake up one morning, and there are armored personnel carriers on your lawn, and the radio is only playing John Philip Sousa marches.

A coup is when the presidential motorcade is diverted to the nearest army base, and the Air Force is bombing Chevy Chase for some reason.

This is a constitutionally-mandated process.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:15 PM on October 7 [90 favorites]


MrGuilt, I think you are paying too much attention to public statements by McConnell et al. They ain't going to publicly telegraph their moves either to Trump nor the rest of the most fervid Fox News viewership. But I believe there is quiet understanding in the Senate that as soon as the impeachment articles arrive from the House, the Senate is ready to vote 92-8 or so to convict, and a quiet plan is in place to have federal marshals racing into position to physically put Trump on his last chopper ride immediately.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:16 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]


[Time to make a Syria thread if you want to talk about it. This can't be the place. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:22 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


It's all very speculative at this point. My intuition is that the Republican leadership is so tied up in all of this that they will fight the impeachment process at all costs. But an alternative version of that could be that they are so tied up that very soon, they will want to get rid of Trump real fast so the investigations don't go too deep. I don't know which it will be. Not least because everything points to Trump taking all the others with him down in a maniacal revenge drama and they probably know that.
posted by mumimor at 1:23 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Something I found pretty insightful if you're wondering how Republicans might try to thread the needle with pure bullshit:

@Zeddary: Republicans are more ready to hit Trump over Syria than they are Ukraine because, short of carpet-bombing Cambodia, decisions on troop deployments aren't generally considered impeachable.
They get to criticize him for something that they can't do anything about. That's the dream if you're a Republican dodging impeachment questions the last 3 weeks.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:24 PM on October 7 [31 favorites]




Pres. Supervillain has the unmatched wisdom tweet covered.
posted by christopherious at 1:56 PM on October 7 [23 favorites]


via Drudge: Pat Robertson ‘Appalled’ By Trump: He ‘Allowed Khashoggi to Be Cut in Pieces,’ May Lose ‘The Mandate of Heaven’ Over Syria

I can't tell if it's more bananas that Pat Robertson is speaking against Trump, or that he's made the wild choice of words that equates Trump with historical emperors of China. The way fascism accumulates cultural concepts from all over the place like a cargo cult to justify their strongman is weird as hell to see. Like, Pat, you're a Christian fundamentalist and there's a buffet table of Christian philosophy justifying the divine right of kings or whatever, what are you doing
posted by jason_steakums at 2:27 PM on October 7 [54 favorites]


Hrm, "can two things be more bananas than each other?" is yet another thing I didn't expect to be worrying about when I thought ahead to middle age.
posted by Horkus at 2:34 PM on October 7 [17 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; totally get where the worry comes from, but just the same, let's keep a lid on "what if this standing order about disaster relief means something more" unless there's more to go on.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:44 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


John Dowd, erstwhile Trump lawyer now representing Giuliani's associates, writes to HPSCI to let them know that his clients won't be appearing or providing documents this week as requested.

The letter itself is written in Comic Sans.
posted by un petit cadeau at 4:49 PM on October 7 [38 favorites]


But I believe there is quiet understanding in the Senate that as soon as the impeachment articles arrive from the House, the Senate is ready to vote 92-8 or so to convict,

What, pray tell, makes you believe this?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:05 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


WSJ, House Lawyers to Ask Sondland About Efforts to Sway Ukrainians
Mr. Giuliani had said he met the previous week with a top aide to Mr. Zelensky. After that meeting, Mr. Sondland and Kurt Volker, U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, learned that Ukraine was considering issuing a statement on investigations they would pursue according to text messages released by House lawmakers last week.

When Mr. Volker and Mr. Sondland discussed the draft statement with Mr. Giuliani, the lawyer asked that it specifically name Burisma Group, a Ukrainian gas company where Mr. Biden’s son had once sat on the board, according to a person familiar with Mr. Volker’s closed-door testimony to House lawmakers last week.

A draft statement subsequently circulated by Mr. Volker included a line that Ukraine investigate “all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections.”
...
That statement was ultimately scuttled over concerns in Ukraine about being perceived as wading into U.S. elections, among other matters, according to the person familiar with Mr. Volker’s testimony to House lawmakers. But Mr. Sondland and Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, continued to discuss the possibility of having Mr. Zelensky give a media interview in which he would make similar commitments about Ukrainian investigations, according to the person familiar with Mr. Volker’s testimony.
posted by zachlipton at 5:14 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The letter itself is written in Comic Sans.
Not the first time.
posted by christopherious at 5:24 PM on October 7 [7 favorites]


I can't tell if it's more bananas that Pat Robertson is speaking against Trump, or that he's made the wild choice of words that equates Trump with historical emperors of China.

Robertson's audience is septuagenarian low-information evangelicals with perfect attendance at every election. They are ...there's not an ideal way to put this... highly likely to be struggling with age-related cognitive impairment of some kind. Part of what makes Robertson effective at what he does is his tendency to slowly build up narrative 'ramps' for his audience, and do so in such a way that they can be easily reversed with a "God spoke to me" or simply never revisited. So in a sense this is a tell: Robertson has been doing this long enough to know that if things implode for the administration then they will do so all at once, and he's making sure his audience is primed for a "Trump turned his back on God" narrative twist. This week's flavor is "when he abandoned our allies in the fight against ISIS [MUSLIMS]."

Plus a "Deus Vult" reference would come off as too Catholic for his audience.

It's hardly conclusive and I wouldn't bank on it, but it is interesting to see him doing some political hurricane prep.
posted by Ryvar at 6:47 PM on October 7 [29 favorites]


Volker has resigned as executive director of the McCain Institute due to all the attention he's getting over Ukraine.
posted by azpenguin at 6:53 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


jason_steakums: Like, Pat, you're a Christian fundamentalist and there's a buffet table of Christian philosophy justifying the divine right of kings or whatever, what are you doing

The Mandate of Heaven allows for violent revolution when the ruler fails to be righteous; the divine right of kings does not, so far as I know. The divine right of kings is a bit of a dead end when you want to talk about tossing a leader.
posted by clawsoon at 7:28 PM on October 7 [11 favorites]


They are ...there's not an ideal way to put this... highly likely to be struggling with age-related cognitive impairment of some kind.

When you feel the need to preface a statement with something like "there's not an ideal way to put this", that's a hint that there's a bigger problem with what you're saying than just how you're saying it. Evangelical Christians in the United States, regardless of their age or their neurological condition, have had decades of practice with cognitive dissonance and failure to challenge their intellectual and political leaders (e.g. their mostly-complete about-face on Jim Crow), so it's not necessary to appeal to ageism and ableism to explain Pat Robertson's actions.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 7:38 PM on October 7 [16 favorites]


so it's not necessary to appeal to ageism and ableism to explain Pat Robertson's actions

Robertson’s grift is explicitly predatory upon people fighting hopeless battles against senility, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and related cognitive impairment from medications prescribed by doctors who regard assisted living or nursing homes as hospice. Watching the heartbreaking impact of his bullshit on many, many people I care about dealing with those issues is my lived experience from very early childhood. I was trying to phrase that as delicately as I could without turning it into a major thread derail, and my caveat was because I knew it would probably fail somebody’s purity test, but that was the best I could do without making a mess of my comment. I’m sorry if it wasn’t good enough for you.
posted by Ryvar at 7:51 PM on October 7 [71 favorites]


it's not necessary to appeal to ageism and ableism to explain Pat Robertson's actions.

Similarly: Why dismissing President Trump as mad or ill is a major mistake (Byrd McDaniel and Paul M. Renfro, WaPo Perspective)
[...] while critics often denounce Trump’s policies, his flouting of norms and his personal tweet-driven style as products of his perceived deficiencies, [his] racist appeals, praise for dictators, alleged corruption and support for right-wing conspiracy theories are not mental illnesses. Casting Trump as ill or disabled therefore has the twin effects of minimizing his ideological motivations and portraying all people with mental illness as harmful or deficient.

Indeed, a tendency to focus on Trump’s supposedly deficient body and mind — apparent in discussions of not only his mental capacity but also his weight, hair or even spray tan — only reinforces the stigmas facing those who’ve suffered most acutely under Trump’s rule: namely women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. By pathologizing and body-shaming the president, many of his critics harness and mobilize deeply entrenched prejudices rather than challenge them.
Ryvar, I'm empathetic to your point about the potential impact on vulnerable people, and especially your personal experience. As someone with a frontal lobe injury, I'm also sensitive to broad generalizations, and I also don't want to get into a major derail over this issue. However, I think the tendency to ascribe mental health issues and neurological deficits to Trump comes up often enough that I would hope that we can at least consider how these armchair diagnoses can reinforce stigma and stereotypes that can be harmful to a large population of people, many of whom do not support Trump at all.
posted by katra at 8:11 PM on October 7 [23 favorites]


[One comment deleted; points made, let's please leave it there and steer back to impeachment stuff in this thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:26 PM on October 7 [7 favorites]


NYT: We surveyed former White House chiefs of staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. None of them recalled a time when the White House solicited or accepted political help from a foreign country. > ‘We Absolutely Could Not Do That’: When Seeking Foreign Help Was Out of the Question (NYT) "and all said they would have considered the very idea out of bounds."
posted by katra at 8:35 PM on October 7 [16 favorites]


A new poll from the Washington Post has support for the impeachment inquiry and removal from office shifting dramatically in favor. 58% support the inquiry, 49% removal from office. Even republican voter support swinging in favor. Link.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:30 AM on October 8 [31 favorites]


Well guess what... Sondland is not even going to show up today!

Breaking News, NYT: Witness in Trump-Ukraine Matter Ordered Not to Speak in Impeachment Inquiry
The Trump administration directed a top American diplomat involved in its pressure campaign on Ukraine not to appear Tuesday morning for a scheduled interview in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

The decision to block Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, from speaking with investigators for three House committees is certain to provoke an immediate conflict with potentially profound consequences for the White House and President Trump. House Democrats have repeatedly warned that if the administration tries to interfere with their investigation, it will be construed as obstruction, a charge they see as potentially worthy of impeachment.
posted by bitteschoen at 6:01 AM on October 8 [19 favorites]


Trump has ordered Sondland not to speak to the House committees investigating the Ukraine issue, something that the House has previously warned would be treated as obstruction, so... I guess we find out if a Congressional committee can actually compel someone to testify in an investigation, and what the exact mechanics of that would look like.

Also isn't it getting crowded down there under that bus?
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:02 AM on October 8 [22 favorites]


So it turns out that Sondland was a literal Leverage villain.
posted by Etrigan at 6:18 AM on October 8 [31 favorites]


Maybe, and I hope they do take the relevant steps to compel his testimony. But the way the dems in the committees have framed this kind of interference by the white house is that it's evidence of obstruction.

It's a little bit like the FBI's common strategy to compel cooperation from witnesses. It's illegal to lie to the FBI so the FBI just needs to have evidence that the witness lied and they can be charged with that crime. But they can helps themselves by cooperating. In essence, they get to choose between going to jail for the crimes the FBI was initially investigating or lying to the FBI.

Here Trump has two choices, be impeached for whatever the investigation uncovers or be impeached for obstructing that investigation*. That doesn't really require that the house do anything to compel anyone's testimony. And if they do attempt to compel that testimony, even if it's ultimately fruitless, it drives home the point that the administration is going to extreme lengths to hide it's maleficence.

*This of course assumes that both articles of impeachment are equally as likely to result in successfully removing Trump from office.
posted by VTX at 6:26 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


The people being interviewed could show up and say nothing, they could show up and plead the fifth. They could comply without assisting, and yet, this is the path the White House is taking.
posted by kokaku at 6:51 AM on October 8 [22 favorites]


New conservative defense for Trump: He was wrong on Ukraine, but impeachment is too icky (Matthew Rozsa, Salon)
Tucker Carlson, Neil Patel and Jonah Goldberg won't defend Trump, but claim impeachment would be terrible
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:02 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


The people being interviewed could show up and say nothing, they could show up and plead the fifth. They could comply without assisting, and yet, this is the path the White House is taking.

My guess is Trump is forcing a confrontation earlier in the process. He's likely betting this will go to the courts (rather than Congress ramping up a Sargent at Arms), at which point:
  • He runs out the clock, so the election is in the rear view mirror before this is settled and moves forward.
  • Whatever interference he's orchestrating gets an opportunity to take place.
  • Moves the narrative from a true crime story involving a transcript and underhanded dealings to a technical issue around Pelosi compelling testimony.
  • Once in the courts, given the nature of appointments, it's more likely to get decided in his favor, stopping the whole thing.
I suppose they could impeach him over the obstruction of justice, but that plays into the narrative shift: there is no longer an obvious crime, but the Dems just wanting Trump out. The senate is more likely to save him in this scenario.
posted by MrGuilt at 7:03 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


My concern about the current impeachment iteration is that Pence gets his opportunity to stand as his own person (which sets himself up well for the 2024 election); Trump gets reelected in 2020, ; and the impeachment effort fails. Again. For the Nth time.

Oh, all the gun control stuff that was to prevent carnage?

Seriously showing how the mind set of the early 21st century lacks a temporal focus.

Kinda hoping these things don't align this way; but at the present pace; these events are being set up to occur.
posted by buzzman at 7:08 AM on October 8


Trump has ordered Sondland not to speak to the House committees investigating the Ukraine issue, something that the House has previously warned would be treated as obstruction, so... I guess we find out if a Congressional committee can actually compel someone to testify in an investigation, and what the exact mechanics of that would look like.

The House has the power of the purse. Can they put language in the next budget stating that Executive Branch employees immediately forego their salary if they refuse to appear before a congressional committee or comply with a subpoena?

If memory serves me correctly, Sondland is a wealthy Trump donor, so it wouldn't likely impoverish him, but it would be something.
posted by Gelatin at 7:09 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


I think we’re reaching a point where the House should have the Sargeant at Arms arrest some people. Yes, this hasn’t been done in a long time, and yes, the Trumpists will use that as an excuse to scream “coup!” But these guys aren’t going to play by the rules unless they’re given no other choice.
posted by azpenguin at 7:10 AM on October 8 [39 favorites]


Tucker Carlson, Neil Patel and Jonah Goldberg won't defend Trump, but claim impeachment would be terrible

That this trio is making this claim reveals the fear that impeachment would be terrible for the Republicans (though David Brooks gave the game away already last week).
posted by Gelatin at 7:11 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Mitch McConnell's new Halloween role: Gravedigger of impeachment (Sophia Tesfaye, Salon)
Yet as Trump attempts to normalize brazen corruption and calling on an ever-growing list of political opponents to be impeached in his stead, he has no real reason to fear a Senate trial. McConnell likely sees his pledge on [blocking Trump's] impeachment as his best bet to preserve his own political power. Like nearly every Republican senator up for re-election next year, his path to remaining in office is through Trump’s voters.
Emphasis mine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:16 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Been following news and politics for 20+ years. No expert; but I've never seen or read Sondland's name before.

He's probably an example of giving people something else to look at; being used to dissipate any concentration in any one area.

Three or four days ago it was Rick Perry.

About the time the 'impeachment' involves some 20 30 or more people; all energies will become as a drop of water in an ocean.

The 'R's did this to the 'D's during the Clinton era; nothing became of it. Ok, a lot of anger and time waste. Angry 'R's back in the day, lots of time waste for the 'D's as they had to rally against Clinton's impeachment.

Here in another few days; we'll have another newer and previously unheard of gov't official being brought into the 'impeachment'.

So goes our news cycle.
posted by buzzman at 7:28 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


From the Washington Post poll posted by lazaruslong, above:
Among Republicans, roughly 7 in 10 do not support the inquiry but almost 3 in 10 do, and almost one-fifth of Republicans say they favor a vote recommending his removal.
This is a massive swing in favor of impeachment. Their numbers started at, what, something like 3% even wanting impeachment? 3-in-10 is not brilliantly high, but that's after just two weeks of this procedure.

I'm with those who see the Republican critique of Trump in Syria as in line with their testing a political narrative for removing Trump. If they critique Trump for not being macho and militaristic enough, maybe it means the base forgives them for removing him. Not that I think they're gung-ho for impeachment by any means, but surely they recognize the dilemma they're in, enough to be deliberating a route towards caving that looks a little bit less... cave-y.
posted by rorgy at 7:29 AM on October 8 [29 favorites]


The people being interviewed could show up and say nothing, they could show up and plead the fifth. They could comply without assisting, and yet, this is the path the White House is taking.

The WH's path makes sense if you don't trust the potential witness not to sing like a bird the second they get in front of the House. Trump ordered Sondland not to appear, which he can (apparently, according to whatever insane legal theory they're notionally operating under) do, because Sondland is an Executive-branch employee and his chain of command runs up to the President. Sondland, per his lawyers, claims to want to testify.

Now, Sondland could just resign and then testify; we've seen that happen with Volker and a bunch of House Democrats have called on Sondland to do just that. I'm not sure why Sondland wouldn't; it's not like he really needs that sweet, sweet government pension to keep himself off a cat food diet in his old age.

Personally though, I think Sondland is crooked AF, and the combination of not resigning combined with Trump's "order" not to appear is designed to give him some plausible deniability with both sides. He can claim to Republicans that he played ball and didn't squeal (at least, until he does, because that's the post-Trump MO for basically everyone who's worked for him), while claiming to Democrats that he wanted to turn his coat but wasn't allowed to because of... whatever the consequences would be if he ignored Trump's order. Getting fired, I guess? I don't think there could be any criminal or civil liability there, but maybe someone more knowledgable can chime in.

Anyway, the dude is probably going to learn why it's a bad idea to straddle a barbed wire fence while someone pulls on each leg, if that's really his strategy.

The odd thing about Trump's entire delay-delay-delay strategy is that it isn't really that good a strategy. The more time passes, the less time there would be for a hypothetical pro-Trump primary challenger to appear and threaten vulnerable Republican Senators. And that's really Trump's only hold on the Senate: he can threaten to withdraw support and back a dark-horse primary challenger from the right. But in a few more months that threat won't be as serious; even with Trump's backing, a serious challenger would need time to put a campaign together. As it gets closer to the election, what is Trump going to threaten to do—campaign for a Democrat?

I think this was at the heart of Pelosi's reluctance to go down the impeachment road: she wanted to wait until closer to the election so it would be easier to get Republicans on board. The longer the impeachment game takes, the more advantageous it is to Democrats, not Republicans.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:46 AM on October 8 [26 favorites]


China rejects Trump’s call to investigate Biden and son (Politico)
“China has long pursued the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday. “We have no intention of intervening in the domestic affairs of the United States. Our position is consistent and clear.” [...]

Taoran Notes, the social media account affiliated with state-run Economic Daily, warned that remarks about China meddling in U.S. politics would complicate the trade talks.

“Such acts are nothing but political blackmail,” the commentary said. “They know China’s long-held stance of not interfering in other nations’ affairs, so [some people in the U.S.] unscrupulously manipulated related issues, adding further complications to the negotiations.”
posted by katra at 8:19 AM on October 8 [20 favorites]


And so the United States has now ceded the moral high ground of international relations to China. Their "stance of not interfering in other nations' affairs" is of course as much a political fiction as is the US's, with China having aggressively expanded its sphere of influence in sub-Saharan Africa. China's leadership has been pursuing a soft power imperialism that adopts many of the successful strategies of the 20th century US, and this is a huge gift for them and their goal of economic hegemony. Every one of these stupid little games Trump plays as part of his extended banana republic dictator cosplay opens a soft power vacuum that the Chinese government is happy to move into.
posted by biogeo at 8:59 AM on October 8 [53 favorites]


WaPo now reporting that Schiff, Engel and Cummings (their committees, actually) will issue a subpoena for Sondland. Developing.

Also: Hooray
posted by martin q blank at 9:10 AM on October 8 [32 favorites]


Syria thread
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:18 AM on October 8 [18 favorites]


It appears Romny is trying to lead the GOP Senate to impeach. What struck me was the last quote in the article:
“The Syria decision is a much bigger deal,” another former West Wing official said. “No one on the inside can hold Trump accountable. The Senate Republicans are the only check on power right now.”
First, it's about damn time Senate Republicans realize this.

Second, between this and the shift in polling on impeachment among Republicans makes me wonder if this is not the way out. Include Syria/Turkey/Kurds in the articles of impeachment, and the GOP may have a slightly larger fig leaf with their base.
posted by MrGuilt at 9:49 AM on October 8 [29 favorites]


NYT: White House Signals It Won’t Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry

"Mr. Trump, defiant as investigators dig further into his efforts to pressure Ukraine to find dirt on his political rivals, declared the inquiry illegitimate in a signal that he plans to stonewall Congress, an act that could itself build the case for charging him in an impeachment proceeding with obstruction."

"House Democrats quickly said they would regard the president’s stance as amounting to obstruction. Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the administration’s refusal to allow Mr. Sondland to appear was 'strong evidence' of 'obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a coequal branch of government.'"

"Trump administration lawyers and aides have spent days puzzling over how to respond to the impeachment inquiry, and the abrupt move suggested that the president’s team has calculated that he is better off risking the House’s ire — and even an impeachment article focused on the obstruction — than setting a precedent for cooperation with an investigation they have strenuously argued is illegitimate.

The strategy, if it holds, carries substantial risk to the White House. Privately, some Republicans had urged the White House to allow witnesses like Mr. Sondland to appear, in order to deflate Democratic accusations of a cover-up and offer a public rationale for the president’s actions toward Ukraine. Now, some Republicans worry, Democrats have more fodder to argue publicly that Mr. Trump has something to hide."
posted by jocelmeow at 9:54 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Trump did promise to build a (stone)wall.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:00 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Guardian: Rudy Giuliani expressed openness to appearing before the Senate judiciary committee after the panel’s Republican chairman, Lindsey Graham, invited the president’s personal lawyer to discuss “corruption in Ukraine.”
The former New York mayor told CNN: “Love Lindsey, but I am still a lawyer and I will have to deal with privilege.”

But Giuliani added: “Given the nature of his invitation about my concerns I might be able to do it without discussing privileged information.”
Reminder: Giuliani Cannot Rely on Attorney-Client Privilege to Avoid Congressional Testimony (John E. Bies, Lawfare)
posted by katra at 10:01 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Include Syria/Turkey/Kurds in the articles of impeachment, and the GOP may have a slightly larger fig leaf with their base.

I'm skeptical, and I think if anything it might be the other way around. The President has a great deal of latitude as Commander-in-Chief of the military. If Trump had done nothing wrong other than the sudden withdrawal of troops from Syria, people would still be grumbling about abandoning our ally, but no one would be talking impeachment on that alone.

However, if Senate Republicans are upset by the withdrawal but know they can't justify impeachment on those grounds, they might discover a newfound respect for Congress as a co-equal branch of government, and now find Trump's defiance of Congressional subpoenas to be impeachment-worthy.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:03 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]




Giuliani Cannot Rely on Attorney-Client Privilege to Avoid Congressional Testimony

I mean, it's nice to think that, but the unfortunate lesson that still hasn't really sunk in for congress is that it doesn't matter what the law says, it only matters what Trump and his cronies can get away with. Trump has been demonstrably making up the rules for some time now, but in the absence of an authority actually stepping in and making him stop doing so, whatever privilege Trump claims and isn't challenged on is de facto his.
posted by tocts at 10:29 AM on October 8 [35 favorites]


I still have faith in the ability of Congress to eventually compel testimony and/or use noncompliance as further evidence of obstruction, but (Vanity Fair),
Barb McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan, cites a 1799 federal law. “There is a statute known as the Logan Act,” McQuade says. “It’s of unknown legal validity, because it hasn’t been used in 200 years. But the idea behind it is we don’t want private citizens out there negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. No one has elected you, you don’t have the authority to do it. So Giuliani is at risk of criminal exposure. The bigger issue is that even if you can’t charge President Trump with a crime, because he’s a sitting president, you could charge Giuliani with a crime if he has conspired with the president to extort the Ukrainians. Giuliani would be the president’s agent in this abuse of power.”
JustSecurity: "Witnesses may assert the Fifth Amendment privilege whether the subpoena originates from a congressional inquiry"
posted by katra at 10:47 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


This fresh CNN piece fills in a lot of details about the Ukraine call:

Where was Trump? In his private quarters in the residence, apparently alone.

Who else was on the line? Mike Pompeo; Tim Morrison (NSC senior director for Europe and Russia); Rob Blair (national security aide to Mick Mulvaney*); Keith Kellogg (national security adviser to Pence); Alexander Vindman (NSC Ukraine expert); a State Department interpreter fluent in Ukrainian providing real-time translation; and a duty officer from the Situation Room who took notes that would later be paired with a log of the call using voice recognition software to put together a rough transcript.

Who was responsible for having the call summary moved into the code-word classified system? John Eisenberg, the top lawyer on the National Security Council, gave the order, and it was carried out by a different lawyer for the NSC and “council officials.”

Who saw the call summary? Vindman (the NSC director responsible for Ukraine), the NSA, deputy NSA, members of the NSC’s executive secretariat, NSC lawyers, John Bolton, and Bolton’s deputy Charlie Kupperman. (We know from prior reporting that a deputy for Pence and perhaps Pence himself also read the summary.)

*the piece claims that Mulvaney was left out of the loop, but this seems unlikely to me if his aide was on the call
posted by sallybrown at 10:51 AM on October 8 [33 favorites]


I've been wondering for a couple weeks now why no one has mentioned the Logan Act.
posted by nickmark at 10:58 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


and a duty officer from the Situation Room who took notes that would later be paired with a log of the call using voice recognition software to put together a rough transcript.

Wasn’t a fed employee mentioned in these threads just last week stating that voice transcription software would NEVER be used in these circumstances? Cuz it sounds a lot like there are tapes (oh lawdy).
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:29 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


A few days ago I caught a good chunk of the "Meanwhile in Ukraine" radio program from On the Media. It's really amazing, about 26 minutes long and worth checking out for a deep look into the skulduggery. It left me feeling cautiously optimistic that a few people are going to face justice on this.
posted by exogenous at 11:35 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


I made a quantitative analysis of the Ukraine call summary just to see what it would show. Take these as approximate, some classifications were judgment calls and some sentences mixed praise of one thing and insults of others.

Trump: 54 sentences, including single word exclamations.
Trump: pleasantries and the single word exclamations: 8 sentences.
Trump praising Zelensky and or Ukraine: 14 sentences.
Trump praising U.S. actions in Ukraine: 3 sentences.
Trump insulting European (mostly Merkel) actions in Ukraine: 5 sentences.
Trump asking for a favor regarding Biden / investigations: 24 sentences.

Zelensky covered more ground. 62 sentences.
Zelensky pleasantries: 5 sentences.
Zelensky praising Trump: 7 sentences and 4 half-sentences.
Zelensky wanting to be friends with U.S. and Trump specifically: 14 sentences.
Zelensky mentioning defense, requesting Javelins: 2 sentences (followed by Trump asking for a favor).
Zelensky responding to Trump's request for investigation by generally pledging
anti-corruption efforts and agreeing to meet with Giuliana: 17 and a half sentences.
Zelensky, economy, Russian sanctions, other topics: 24 and a half sentences.

With all the praise being flung around, I understand how Trump thought the phone call would support him.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:36 AM on October 8 [17 favorites]




This Cult of the Theory of the Unitary Executive is persistent.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:30 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Justice Department asks judge to block House from getting Mueller grand jury materials, says Watergate decision was wrong ... DOJ says the result would be different if argued today.

DOJ isn't exactly wrong. If argued today they would have Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
posted by JackFlash at 12:37 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Judge: "Wow. The Department is taking extraordinary positions in this case."

And how -- asking the Judiciary to side against the Judiciary -- SCOTUS, no less -- in favor of the Executive.
posted by Gelatin at 12:37 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


They are going to push every bit of obstruction and delay that they can all the way up to the Supreme Court; doesn't matter the argument, just keep appealing.
posted by nubs at 12:38 PM on October 8 [12 favorites]


Judge: "Wow. The Department is taking extraordinary positions in this case."

Aka “Now, before you say Final Answer, I’m just going to give you one more chance to think. Are you sure you don’t want to poll the audience?”
posted by sallybrown at 12:44 PM on October 8 [18 favorites]


NYT, Trump’s Ukraine Call Was ‘Crazy’ and ‘Frightening,’ Official Told Whistle-Blower
A White House official who listened to President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader described it as “crazy,” “frightening,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security,” according to a memo written by the whistle-blower at the center of the Ukraine scandal, a C.I.A. officer who spoke to the White House official.

The White House official was “visibly shaken by what had transpired,” the C.I.A. officer wrote in his memo, one day after Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in a July 25 phone call to open investigations that would benefit him politically.

A palpable sense of concern had already taken hold among at least some in the White House that the call had veered well outside the bounds of traditional diplomacy, the officer wrote.

“The official stated that there was already a conversation underway with White House lawyers about how to handle the discussion because, in the official’s view, the president had clearly committed a criminal act by urging a foreign power to investigate a U.S. person for the purposes of advancing his own re-election bid in 2020,” the C.I.A. officer wrote.
That last bit is important, and goes with sallybrown's post earlier about what happened. After the call, White House officials realized that the president appeared to have committed a crime, they called White House lawyers, and put a plan in place to cover it up by hiding the transcript.
posted by zachlipton at 1:11 PM on October 8 [57 favorites]


Ambassador to E.U. called Trump before texting 'no quid pro quo' to top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine (NBC News)

. . . a person with knowledge of the call confirmed to NBC News.

Sondland spoke to Trump by phone on Sept. 9 before responding to acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor's remark that it would be “crazy” to link Ukraine assistance to help with a political campaign, the person said. When Sondland responded several hours later, he told Taylor that Trump had been “crystal clear” that there had been no quid pro quo.

The conversation between Trump and Sondland was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:47 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


“A person with knowledge of the call” is Sondland, right?
posted by saturday_morning at 1:52 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


"No quid pro quo" seems pretty similar to the "no infringement intended" note that people for some reason always write in the description of youtube videos that they're posting of other people's copyrighted works.
posted by aubilenon at 1:59 PM on October 8 [49 favorites]


yeah, especially in light of how aware they were that they were committing crimes and covering them up, the gap in time between Sondland and Taylor's last tweets is pretty damning, regardless of the hour
posted by angrycat at 2:17 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Trump's counsel has sent Pelosi, Engel, Schiff and Cummings a letter that describes the inquiry as "unauthorized" and says it challenges the results of the 2016 election.

Screenshots, from Maggie Haberman's Twitter.
posted by mynameisluka at 2:22 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


That letter was probably drafted a long time ago. It seems designed to set the narrative for his base.
posted by agregoli at 2:35 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Obstructing the inquiry challenges the results of the 2018 election, when we elected a Democratic majority in the House to provide oversight for the Executive Branch...
posted by Mister Cheese at 2:38 PM on October 8 [24 favorites]


Not just Trump's Counsel but the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone*. A man with a law degree from the University of Chicago. The letter seems wild and unhinged.

*Wikipedia tells me that he graduated high school from Covington Catholic which was the school involved in the January 2019 students and Native American confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial.
posted by mmascolino at 2:39 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


So he's a king: he's claiming he cannot be held accountable by the courts, and cannot be impeached by Congress.

Huh. While I know SCOTUS considers impeachment to be an inherently political act (and thus non-justiciable), will they sit by and allow the administration to just reject impeachment? Can SCOTUS insist that the process by undertaken while staying out of what that process is?
posted by suelac at 2:41 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


They were never going to cooperate. They were never going to acknowledge the legitimacy of Congress' ability to investigate and impeach. They were always going to move the goalposts. This time they just decided "screw moving them over and over, we're gonna move these posts all the way over in one shot."
posted by azpenguin at 2:46 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


This is the place where I would repost a certain excerpt from Joseph Heller's Catch-22, about the titular statute in its most primal incarnation, how power is the simple inability of others to resist it.

But by this point we can all sing along with it by heart.
posted by delfin at 2:48 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Yo dawg, I heard you like Constitutional crisises......
posted by thelonius at 2:49 PM on October 8 [17 favorites]


Can SCOTUS insist that the process by undertaken while staying out of what that process is?

In theory yes. Subpoenas are legally enforceable, and there is ample precedent -- I would say overwhelming precedent -- that when the Constitution says that each house of Congress can set its own rules, that means procedures like impeachment, which are authorized but not spelled out with procedures in Article I, are judged to be happening whenever Congress says they're happening. In practice, it might depend on which hat Roberts is wearing that day (although I wouldn't rule out peeling off Gorsuch on that one).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:04 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


will [SCOTUS] sit by and allow the administration to just reject impeachment?

There has been no impeachment. Congress doesn't need the Executive branch's help to impeach, which is a process that can take place wholly within Congress.
posted by ryanrs at 3:09 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Subpoenas are legally enforceable...

Enforceable by whom, exactly? Not DoJ, that’s for sure. Other than levying fines, I don’t believe Congress has any effective way to enforce subpoenas. SCOTUS could chime in and say Trump has to acquiesce to the subpoenas, but they can’t actually force him to do so. Trump is nigh-on untouchable in this matter.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:11 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Wow. This is legit an ongoing criminal enterprise. Especially hiding the calls on the classified system. Need to start up some RICO investigations and start turning the low-levels. Oh, wait. I guess Burr is in charge of the Justice Department Praetorian Guard.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:12 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Also, too, that WH letter is Nazi-grade propaganda. (Godwin: It's not Godwin-ing if they really are).
posted by j_curiouser at 3:14 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Right-wing media has been going with the 'trying to overturn the 2016 election' angle for a long time now. It's really trivially easy to say 'but the Ukraine call happened in July 2019,' but, then, as j_curioser quoted a Trumpist redditor in the previous impeachment thread:
I think what most liberals are missing is that this isn't about right and wrong. It's about winning and losing. I've attached my entire worldview to this man and I am going down with the ship. Not one of you is going to convince me otherwise.
posted by box at 3:15 PM on October 8 [21 favorites]


Enforceable by whom, exactly?

Sergent-at-Arms is the officer charged with executing the will of Congress. In this time of "Fuck it, there is no normal", they should be sending him with The Mace and a few deputies and drag the subpoenaed individual before the legislature.

Acts of the Legislature are presumed Constitutional until decided otherwise by the USSC. So let the Republicans play defense for a while.
posted by mikelieman at 3:33 PM on October 8 [23 favorites]


The other night I saw some chalk scrawlings on a sidewalk here. It said, in large letters "We Are Trump. This Is A Coup D'Etat." They're going to keep pushing that kind of crap on the crazies as long as they feel threatened.

I think you misunderstand. It’s Trump and co. who are carrying out the coup. He’s just deflecting attention by accusing the Democrats of doing what he’s actively perpetrating. What we are in the middle of is far beyond a constitutional crisis.

.........................
Acts of the Legislature are presumed Constitutional until decided otherwise by the USSC. So let the Republicans play defense for a while.

They aren’t playing defense. There are no rules anymore. They’re the Globetrotters to the Democrats’ (and democracy’s) Generals.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:07 PM on October 8 [13 favorites]


There were some comments earlier saying (essentially) that the Democrats are setting things up so that Trump can cooperate and be impeached for his misdeeds or dig his heels in and be impeached for him obstruction. But unless the Democrats are incredibly foolish (maybe!) that’s not a choice they need to make. There’s enough evidence right now to impeach him for ten different things. The only question is whether to add obstruction to the list. Dropping the other charges and impeaching on obstruction alone shouldn’t be on the table.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:56 PM on October 8 [17 favorites]


Sure, they could vote on articles of impeachment right now in the House, and it would probably pass, but then it would just die in the Senate. And there are negative political consequences ("EXONERATED!") for doing that.

Going slowly and building an overwhelming case—not legally, but in the court of public opinion, which is the only one that actually matters right now—seems like a better strategy. It's the only strategy that I can see that might actually result in Trump leaving Pennsylvania Avenue without waiting on the election.

There's no point in impeaching now; the Senate Rs and their base haven't stewed long enough. But as recent polling shows, Trump's support even among the base is slipping. While his base may be low-information voters, it's becoming apparent that you can't fool even simple farmers forever.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:10 PM on October 8 [32 favorites]


One means by which the Congress can show they are serious about fighting Trump is to request that the Supreme Court immediately consider certain matters related to impeachment.

The notion that the constitution gave the Executive Branch power to decide whether it could consider the impeachment illegitimate is ridiculous. Which means it will receive at least four votes.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:18 PM on October 8 [23 favorites]


Not just Trump's Counsel but the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone*. A man with a law degree from the University of Chicago. The letter seems wild and unhinged.
*Wikipedia tells me that he graduated high school from Covington Catholic which was the school involved in the January 2019 students and Native American confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial


Now, now...remember, they're not just the school that embarassed our nation on a shool trip. They're also the school that regularly wears a shit-ton of blackface.
posted by sexyrobot at 5:38 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


They aren’t playing defense. There are no rules anymore. They’re the Globetrotters to the Democrats’ (and democracy’s) Generals.

I guess that's my point. It's time for the Democrats to dust off every possible thing that can be used, no matter how old, untested, or even I would suggest #batshitinsane. Because as has been shown by the GOP, there's no actual downside
posted by mikelieman at 6:09 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


The way he and his people keep showing off the election results map saying "try to impeach this" as if he truly won in a landslide and is adored by the majority of people in this country and therefore he is above the law, when nearly three million more people voted for his opponent and even some of the states he won were pretty close, is bizarre. Does that really work on anybody?
posted by wondermouse at 6:54 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


In case you prefer PDFs to Twitter screenshots, the letter from White House Counsel to Pelosi can be found at https://whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PAC-Letter-10.08.2019.pdf.
posted by bardophile at 7:00 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Does that really work on anybody?

Over the past few years it has become abundantly clear to me that many people are much more willing to believe simple untruths than complicated truths.
posted by bardophile at 7:03 PM on October 8 [76 favorites]


I guess that's my point. It's time for the Democrats to dust off every possible thing that can be used, no matter how old, untested, or even I would suggest #batshitinsane. Because as has been shown by the GOP, there's no actual downside

Well, one of the rules Democrats have dusted off is subpoena power. Before 2015 a subpoena required a majority vote of a committee and the minority chairman's approval. In 2015 Republicans changed the rules so that majority committee chairmen have unilateral power to issue subpoenas. They don't need a single minority vote to do so.

Darrel Issa, for example, unilaterally issued over 100 subpoenas in one year to harass Obama officials.

Now, of course, you hear Republicans crying a different tune and Trump demanding a vote of the entire House before they can issue impeachment subpoenas. Pelosi is telling them to go fish. The House majority makes the rules and Democrats are just using the norm-breaking rules put in place by the Republicans. Democrats don't need anybody's permission to issue subpoenas.
posted by JackFlash at 7:06 PM on October 8 [46 favorites]


Trumpies agree that the three million are illegal aliens voting in California. I'm told by *that* relative.

Here's an election map to throw back. I can't even get a trumpie to listen long enough to explain the legend. Click the 'i' for the explainer.

#batshitinsane ...I really want to see the inherent contempt thing invoked on the subpoena deniers.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:09 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


Going slowly and building an overwhelming case—not legally, but in the court of public opinion, which is the only one that actually matters right now—seems like a better strategy. It's the only strategy that I can see that might actually result in Trump leaving Pennsylvania Avenue without waiting on the election.

The questionable Christopher Wylie was on Fresh Air tonight and in talking about the motivations of Cambridge Analytica he mentioned a truism that "politics is downstream from culture." I'm sure this has been mentioned a bunch of times before in the CA story, but this time it stuck with me: just focus on what is acceptable, what people want for the country (in this case) such that evidence that comes out in the future will be interpreted through the lens of prevailing values.

So now I'm thinking that promoting and advocating for the cultural aspects I think the US should prioritize is a good way to stop being so mired in the politics of the moment.
posted by rhizome at 7:28 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


Okay, this is my personal take on how to fight dirt cleanly. Back in 1988, Dukakis put out a white paper on helping the American farmer. One of his points was to diversify crops. Among the crop rotation items was Brussel sprouts. The Bush team jumped on this, ridiculing it, claiming that Dukakis's big plan was Brussel sprouts.

You could try to fight this with logic. The correct way to fight is with show. Dukakis should have said, "I suppose you want America to buy Brussel sprouts from Brussels?"

You don't need to make sense to fight toxic stupidity. (And you don't need to descend to their level.) "Show" can take the higher ground.

Democrats in Congress should put out a pledge that none of them will seek foreign governments to assist in their elections. That pledge should include words such as traitorous and illegal. They should invite Republicans to sign it. They should try to put each Republican on the record: will you seek aid for your campaign from foreign governments? Will you be asking foreign governments for dirt on your opponents or any of their children?

TLDR: fight stupid, fight bad faith with "show."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:43 PM on October 8 [69 favorites]


That Fresh Air interview sort of blew my mind. Hearing Wylie describe how SCL first used that tech in a military context to target young marginalized men who were potential ISIS recruitment candidates and help prevent recruitment, only to have Steve Bannon and CA use the same tech for reverse purposes.

CA was literally using terrorist prevention technology on social media to instead recruit terrorists, albeit while attempting to ride a line just short of violent action to avoid being labelled as such (although some of their recruits have crossed that line anyways). They were completely latching on to marginalized people full of resentment, and stoking that resentment in the same way terrorists leaders do. Even putting Russian coordination aside, their entire operation reveals a reprehensible approach to politics.
posted by p3t3 at 7:51 PM on October 8 [27 favorites]


That’s why they gotta stuff Barr in the Capitol Police tank to do their Constitutional duty.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:59 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


That insane Cipollone letter! Trump is now directly trying to turn the president job that he has into the dictator job that he wants.
posted by marlys at 8:03 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


claiming that Dukakis's big plan was Brussel sprouts

Not to derail anything, but as a Massachusetts resident who voted for Dukakis and loves how he still walks along the Muddy River picking up trash and asks people to leave him turkey carcasses so he can make soup after Thanksgiving, I have to correct this. It was Belgian endive, not Brussels sprouts, that the Bush campaign went after him for, if not quite as much as the ride in the tank, Boston Harbor and Willie Horton.
posted by adamg at 8:15 PM on October 8 [19 favorites]


I will surrender to admitting to misremembering. And I don't like Brussel sprouts, anyhow.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:29 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Democrats in Congress should put out a pledge that none of them will seek foreign governments to assist in their elections. That pledge should include words such as traitorous and illegal. They should invite Republicans to sign it. They should try to put each Republican on the record: will you seek aid for your campaign from foreign governments? Will you be asking foreign governments for dirt on your opponents or any of their children?

I'm curious about what would happen if Democrats started running radically transparent campaigns, too. Everything open - your strategy, internal polls, meetings with fundraisers and interest groups, and on and on, as much as possible and in real time. Because on the one hand you're giving your election strategy away to your opponents for free, but on the other, 1) they can deduce what they don't already know anyways because political campaigning is an industry full of professionals whose job it is to know that, 2) they're going to be doing nothing but chasing your tail trying to put out every fire you start, 3) the public gets a truckload of social proof about the candidate's value because it's going to turn retail politics and meetings with everyday supporters into spectacle, and 4) very publicly walking the walk of anticorruption and transparency gives you credibility and bridges a trust gap.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:38 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


Not as much as George HW Bush didn't like broccoli, I'll bet.
posted by biogeo at 8:38 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Trump critics on the right join the media wars (Politico)
“I’ve never given a rat’s ass about being a Republican,” said [National Review stalwart Jonah] Goldberg, who will be The Dispatch’s editor-in-chief. “I care a lot about being a conservative, and being conservative means not changing your positions based on one politician.”

Goldberg describes himself and [Dispatch CEO Steve] Hayes, a former editor of the now-defunct Weekly Standard, as “Trump skeptics,” a slightly different sentiment from The Bulwark's.

“We’re more accurately characterized as Trump hostile,” [former Weekly Standard co-founder Bill] Kristol told POLITICO.

A scan of Tuesday’s headlines in The Bulwark — “Trump’s Fake ‘War on Corruption’ Is a Real War on Joe Biden,” “Watch How Trump Moves the Goalposts on Ukraine,” and “Trump Betrays the Kurds, Republicans…Speak Up?” — supports Kristol’s description.
posted by katra at 9:03 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


A coup is when the presidential motorcade is diverted to the nearest army base, and the Air Force is bombing Chevy Chase for some reason.

Chevy Chase would consider it a coup any time he doesn't bomb.
posted by zaixfeep at 9:13 PM on October 8 [27 favorites]


Refuse, block, stonewall – but Trump's strategy leaves little margin for error (Guardian)
It is a strategy with little margin for error, analysts say, with Trump depending all at once on keeping public approval behind him, on blocking myriad avenues by which Congress might collect evidence and, crucially, on retaining the loyalty of subordinates who will come under increasing pressure to testify.

A major poll released on Tuesday indicated that Trump might be miscalculating badly about public opinion. A 58% majority now support the inquiry versus 38% who oppose it, the Washington Post-Schar School poll found. Support for an impeachment inquiry has grown 20 points in three months, the poll found. [...]

Trump’s reliance on the loyalty of subordinates also could represent a strategic misstep – because former officials are already talking. After resigning, Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, last week delivered to Congress pages of WhatsApp messages between himself and other diplomats that damaged Trump’s efforts to characterize his negotiations on Ukraine. [...]

In a piece on the Just Security site comparing proceedings against Nixon, Clinton and Trump, the former Clinton aide and impeachment trial witness Sidney Blumenthal noted that Nixon’s resistance to Congress accelerated his decline. “When the Senate Watergate hearings began, Nixon’s standing in public opinion began to erode, a decline accelerated at each stage by his stonewalling of Congress and the courts,” Blumenthal wrote.

[...] It took five months of hearings against Nixon before public approval for the process hit 58%, noted Greg Dworkin, an editor at the liberal Daily Kos. Impeachment proceedings against Trump are only two weeks old.
posted by katra at 9:16 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


> Over the past few years it has become abundantly clear to me that many people are much more willing to believe simple untruths than complicated truths.

Exactly. Or, put somewhat less succinctly by a bestselling German author:
"[I]n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie [...] It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."
About 75% of Fox News seems to be providing the "other explanation" necessary to avoid the cognitive dissonance backscattered by reality impinging on the various facets of the große Lüge. (The other 25% is Shepard Smith looking surprised to discover his badge still got him in the building.)

Of course, lots of hardcore Team Trumpers are very much allowing themselves to be "corrupted [...] consciously or voluntarily", so there's no need to let people off the hook on an individual basis.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:10 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


so how quickly could this get to SCOTUS?
and sorry if if I missed it, but is there a real chance it could deny cert? On what grounds, jurisdictional?
posted by angrycat at 1:51 AM on October 9


Where has Biden been on all of this? I am genuinely surprised by his lackluster response to the direct attack on him and his son's character.
posted by xammerboy at 3:06 AM on October 9


never interrupt your opponent etc. etc.
posted by golwengaud at 4:16 AM on October 9 [32 favorites]


Pod Save America mentioned that Biden gave a fiery response to Trump’s actions in a Nevada speech over the weekend, but it was drowned out by the deluge of news about additional crimes. (It might have been “planned to give” - I wasn’t paying full attention.)
posted by shortfuse at 5:08 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Biden did have an editorial in the Washington Post titled "Trump won’t destroy me, and he won’t destroy my family". Mostly it's a familiar litany of Trump's outrageousness, but it has a feisty ending:
And to Trump and those who facilitate his abuses of power, and all the special interests funding his attacks against me: Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family. And come November 2020, I intend to beat you like a drum.
So, it's not like he's been totally silent--but I agree with golwengaud, Trump is doing a perfectly fine job of making himself look like a fool.
posted by Sublimity at 5:08 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


There's a theory, and it's based on a Mormon prophecy, not really officially endorsed anymore, called the White Horse prophecy(wikipedia).

To quote Joseph Smith:
You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.... I love the Constitution; it was made by the inspiration of God; and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse, and by the Red Horse who will combine in its defense."
Basically, a Mormon will ride on a white horse from Utah to DC to save the constitution. The theory is that this is Mitt Romney.

It's just one of those things, you have your 1A rights to believe that if you like. I'm not judging. Whatever helps Mitt grow a spine.

He's going straight to hell for being cruel to his dog anyhow. I will be judgemental on that one.

While I'm being a little batty, if you're into numerology we write dates like DD/MM/YYYY where I'm from, which makes today's date a palindrome. 9/10/2019. According to my prophecy this is when our universe begins to revert to the sane timeline and all the insanity starts being corrected. We can hope.
posted by adept256 at 5:19 AM on October 9 [27 favorites]


[A few Romney comments deleted. These impeachment threads tend to fill up fast, so unless something / someone is fairly directly involved, let's not get out in the weeds discussing them generally.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:18 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


so how quickly could this get to SCOTUS?
and sorry if if I missed it, but is there a real chance it could deny cert? On what grounds, jurisdictional?


This incarnation of SCOTUS? You bet there's a real chance. Which is why I'm on the fence about any of this going before SCOTUS. If SCOTUS does deny cert, that would pretty much be the final nail in the coffin for congressional oversight, and a green light to the White House to do whatever it damned well pleases. Basically, the end of functional democracy in the US. And, as it sits, there are easily four votes in SCOTUS who would seem open to doing just that. Roberts would be the vote that could save democracy (and I never thought I'd ever put those words together in that way.)
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]








...Chairman Schiff chose to concoct a false version of the call and to read his made-up transcript to the American people at a public hearing. This powerfully confirms there is no issue with the actual call.

I wish the WaPo would annotate that part because that’s incredibly incorrect. It’s not a false version of the call.
posted by affectionateborg at 7:11 AM on October 9 [18 favorites]


Trump declares "war" — and, yes, our full-blown constitutional crisis is here (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)
Insane White House letter — clearly dictated by Trump himself — suggests he's ready to overturn the Constitution
It notes that Joe diGenova, one of his lawyers, appeared on Laura Ingraham's Fox News show Tuesday night, and pointedly used the word 'regicide'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:24 AM on October 9 [18 favorites]


Where has Biden been on all of this? I am genuinely surprised by his lackluster response to the direct attack on him and his son's character.

He's just waiting for all his Republican friends in congress to come to his defense.
posted by JackFlash at 7:28 AM on October 9 [42 favorites]


Investigations usually hurt a president’s public reputation — but Trump isn’t usual (Douglas L. Kriner • Eric Schickler, Salon)
Trump’s approval rating has a lower ceiling and higher floor than that of past presidents
High levels of partisanship may buffer Trump's reputation and keep his approval ratings relatively stable.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:29 AM on October 9


The White House’s scathing and legally questionable impeachment letter, annotated

The annotated version lets a number of whoppers skate by. For only one example, it doesn't address the letter's claim that "President Trump took the unprecedented step of providing the public transparency by declassifying and releasing the record of his call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine" by noting that the call was classified in the first place, contrary to prior practice but in keeping with other Trump call records, because White House officials were concerned about the political damage it would case.
posted by Gelatin at 7:32 AM on October 9 [14 favorites]


The media likes to talk to regular republican voters. They should find the people at that portion of the Venn diagram where they approve of him but also want him impeached and ask what’s up.
posted by Selena777 at 7:38 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


If SCOTUS does deny cert, that would pretty much be the final nail in the coffin for congressional oversight, and a green light to the White House to do whatever it damned well pleases.

I think this is backwards -- Trump's power grabs have a very bad record in circuit court, and he relies on SCOTUS to reverse those decisions along party lines. For the justices to refuse to even take the case (assuming an appellate loss) would be a powerful rebuke to Trump, because it would show that not every bullshit argument his lawyers throw at the wall is worth their time, much less their deference.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:50 AM on October 9 [17 favorites]


‘Wow. This Letter Is Bananas.’ (David Leonhardt, NYT Opinion)
Mimi Rocah, former federal prosector: “Can you imagine lawyers in any other forum — criminal or civil — writing a letter saying ‘nope, my client doesn’t like this, he’s not participating?’ Of course not. This a political propaganda not real legal arguments.”
posted by katra at 8:42 AM on October 9 [28 favorites]




This Is a Constitutional Crisis. What Happens Next? (Noah Feldman, NYT Opinion)
As a matter of ordinary constitutional law, there’s little doubt that the House’s arguments before the courts would be much stronger than any offered in Mr. Cipollone’s letter. [...]

The president could always assert executive privilege with respect to particular confidential documents. Such claims of privilege could be analyzed by the courts under existing constitutional precedents. There is no precedent in constitutional doctrine, however, supporting a president’s blanket refusal to comply with any subpoenas regardless of privilege.

More to the point, Mr. Cipollone’s letter presents the president as the judge of whether a congressional inquiry into impeachment is constitutional. That obviously can’t be right. Not only would that violate the principle of separation of powers; it also would effectively put the president in ultimate control of the impeachment process.

Given the extreme weakness of Mr. Trump’s arguments, it’s probable that the lower federal courts would side with the House. Going to the Supreme Court, however, is always a bit of a gamble. [...] What will happen? A good guess is that Justice Roberts, with his back to the wall, would stand up for the clear constitutional precedent that says the courts will enforce valid congressional subpoenas. The Supreme Court chose the rule of law over President Nixon, a precedent that will not be lost on Justice Roberts.
posted by katra at 9:10 AM on October 9 [14 favorites]


More to the point, Mr. Cipollone’s letter presents the president as the judge of whether a congressional inquiry into impeachment is constitutional. That obviously can’t be right. Not only would that violate the principle of separation of powers; it also would effectively put the president in ultimate control of the impeachment process.

I said before that Trump's corruption has members of Congress working against their own branch to carry water for the Executive, and that he's circumvented the Senate's advise and consent powers with the use of "acting" officials. Now Trump wants to not only have the Judicary side against the Judiciary, but also take away SCOTUS' most prized power. SCOTUS should rule against him 9-0 simply on separation of powers grounds; as it is, I'm hoping for at least a 5-4 decision against legally establishing a dictatorship.

In any case, Congress should impeach him for appropriating the other branches' Constitutional powers, if nothing else.

The thing that absolutely boggles my mind about Trump supporters is that, as the Founders well knew, tyranny is a double edged sword. If Trump loses the 2020 election (TTTCS), the powers that his supporters have gleefully seen him appropriate in order to impose an agenda that's unacceptable to the majority of loyal Americans could be used by a President Warren. I don't think they -- or the Republicans' wealthy backers -- want that outcome.
posted by Gelatin at 9:51 AM on October 9 [17 favorites]


Even from across the pond it's rather clear the if a Democratic president attempts to use powers reserved for Republican presidents, the separation of powers will be magically reinstated as the conservative judges suddenly awake and swing into action in defense of Constitution.
posted by hat_eater at 10:00 AM on October 9 [57 favorites]


Even from across the pond it's rather clear the if a Democratic president attempts to use powers reserved for Republican presidents, the separation of powers will be magically reinstated as the conservative judges suddenly awake and swing into action in defense of Constitution.


No doubt Republican politicians will suddenly rediscover their so-called principles, just as they only care about deficits when Democrats are president; and no doubt the so-called "liberal media" will allow them once again to get away with that pose.

But if Trump truly mangles the separation of powers the way he makes clear he intends to, it may be too late.

The social contract of living in a democratic republic is that one should oppose a dictatorship even of one's own side. Republicans' embrace of authoritarianism is not just an admission that they can't convince a majority of loyal Americans to adopt their agenda; it's a craven betrayal of America's fundamental principles. It may come back to bite them before it bites the rest of us, but a dictatorship is bad no matter who's in charge.
posted by Gelatin at 10:06 AM on October 9 [39 favorites]


The thing that absolutely boggles my mind about Trump supporters is that, as the Founders well knew, tyranny is a double edged sword. If Trump loses the 2020 election (TTTCS), the powers that his supporters have gleefully seen him appropriate in order to impose an agenda that's unacceptable to the majority of loyal Americans could be used by a President Warren. I don't think they -- or the Republicans' wealthy backers -- want that outcome.

They understand that the partisans won't care. Look at their record on deficits and states rights. They'll flip like a grounded fish and no one will bat an eye.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:17 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]


The Final Demise of “Adults in the Room” (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)
Trump’s staffers have alternated between enabling his bad behavior and claiming they’re protecting us from his worst instincts. This defense can’t hold.

[…] every cornered co-conspirator, like every December snowflake, is different, and it may be of use to try to understand and flesh out the 11th-hour bravery that will begin to go down. It’s being seeded, already, before our credulous eyes.

[…] But if impeachment fever continues to gather steam, those swept up in the scandal will eventually need to make heroic efforts to deflect any blame from themselves.

Three noxious years of the “grown-up in the room” narrative, … is enough.

[…] Don’t be fooled - they’re looking to find an escape hatch. Whistleblowers have led the way, but they remain few and far between. The remaining adults in the room need to act like adults and put the country before the tired charade of a secret shadow resistance, which was never really resistance, and which will not serve as exoneration.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:29 AM on October 9 [14 favorites]


The Daily 202: Trump’s refusal to comply with House subpoenas depends on an absolutist view of executive power (WaPo)
-- The absolutist position articulated in Cipollone’s letter follows Trump’s increasingly provocative assertions of his own power. “Article II allows me to do whatever I want,” Trump said this summer. The president was making the point during an interview with ABC News that he could have fired Mueller and ended his probe if he wanted to do so. He’s made variations of this statement several times in the past few months, from a gaggle on the White House lawn to an 80-minute speech at a conference for pro-Trump students. “I have to the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump told the kids.

Article II enumerates several specific powers for the president but by no means gives him total power. Quite the opposite. In fact, the impeachment clause is in Section Four of Article II. Removing a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” is literally, by definition, a constitutional act.

-- Substantively, many legal experts agree, the arguments in the White House’s latest letter are specious. Impeachment is literally a constitutional remedy. It cannot be “unconstitutional,” as Cipollone claimed in his letter. Several prominent attorneys, including conservatives, rebuked the White House counsel for putting his name on such an incendiary letter.
posted by katra at 10:57 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]


The thing that absolutely boggles my mind about Trump supporters is that, as the Founders well knew, tyranny is a double edged sword. If Trump loses the 2020 election (TTTCS), the powers that his supporters have gleefully seen him appropriate in order to impose an agenda that's unacceptable to the majority of loyal Americans could be used by a President Warren. I don't think they -- or the Republicans' wealthy backers -- want that outcome.

For some odd reason, they don't feel that it's possible for that to happen.

*stares at compromised voting machines and eligible voter rolls*

*stares at Mitch McConnell deliberately blocking any and all attempts at certifying fair elections*

*stares at the Republicans engaging in massive amounts of projection, as usual, while accusing Democrats of being in support of rampant voter fraud*

I wonder why that could be?
posted by delfin at 11:06 AM on October 9 [59 favorites]


On the other hand, if they really had election fraud on lock there wouldn't be a Democratic House majority for Trump to defy.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:26 AM on October 9 [13 favorites]


We have a Democratic House majority in spite of election fraud*, not because it doesn't exist.

* counting as election fraud: voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement, gutting of Voting Rights Act, subsequent closing of hundreds of polling places, and oh yeah that gerrymandering thing.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:35 AM on October 9 [28 favorites]


Oh, for sure. Maybe I should have said “perfected.” All the fuckery they have in place still doesn’t guarantee Republican majorities, is my point.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:39 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]


We have a Democratic House majority in spite of election fraud*, not because it doesn't exist.

Because there are more of us than them. Republicans have the benefits of a number of structural advantages meant to accommodate slave states, and those advantages let Trump slither into the Oval Office and lets Moscow Mitch McConnell smother legislation to benefit the American people in its crib, but the Republicans have to suppress votes in order to have even half a shot at power. Which is a fairly startling admission in a democratic republic, and the fact that it's so studiously ignored by the media proves that it isn't liberal at all.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost three million votes, and I take some comfort in the fact that this wide margin apparently has always soured the experience of being president for Trump, judging form how touchy he is about exaggerating his victory margin.
posted by Gelatin at 12:01 PM on October 9 [19 favorites]


[A few deleted; please drop the election stuff, let's stick to impeachment stuff in here. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:02 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


Today's The Daily podcast covers three town halls Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) held in the last week in her district to discuss her position on the impeachment inquiry. She is a moderate D, former CIA employee, and won in a district that was Trump +7.

It's an interesting (and aggravating) listen. In the town halls where she faced significant pushback, constituents take great umbrage with her using the term "dig up dirt" when referring to what the Ukraine transcript revealed, speaking very directly to the semantics of her words. Not a minute later the same person uses the term "coup" to describe the impeachment inquiry. To Slotkin's credit, she handles this really calmly while also being very clear that there is definitely not a coup taking place.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to face people this brain-addled by FoxNews/Trump doublespeak and false terminology. We talk a lot here how these moderate D's need to step up. And now they are, and it's pretty ugly for them. So, hat tip, Slotkin, and all the rest of you that put country before (perceived) re-election damage.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:34 PM on October 9 [59 favorites]




I had literally forgotten he existed
posted by schadenfrau at 2:31 PM on October 9 [51 favorites]


This Is What a Legitimate Anti-Corruption Effort in Ukraine Would Look Like (Samantha Vinograd, Politico Magazine)
When it comes to the Bidens, asking a foreign country to investigate an American, when there is no domestic criminal investigation into him, is a non-starter. We have domestic law enforcement avenues for that. But there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and no criminal investigation into his activities.

If Trump were really, legitimately focused on rooting out corruption in Ukraine, however—whether at companies like Burisma, which employed Hunter Biden, or within the government—there are U.S. government processes for doing so, when there is a credible case. Here’s what they are:

Step 1: Stop cutting State Department anti-corruption funding [...]

STEP 2: Alert the Ukraine ambassador, and let him deal with it [...]

STEP 3. Request cooperation (officially) [...]

There is no shortage of official options when it comes to cooperation on criminal matters and fighting corruption with a foreign country—whether it be with the Ukrainians or the Chinese or anyone else. If the president actually cared about addressing corruption in Ukraine more broadly, he would ensure that experts like INL staffers at the State Department have the resources they need to do their jobs. The fact that Giuliani was his answer suggests that something very different is going on here.
posted by katra at 2:47 PM on October 9 [18 favorites]


Fox News Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment (FOX News, via Drudge banner: FOX SHOCK: 51% WANT TRUMP REMOVED )
A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment. [...]

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

By a 66-25 percent margin, voters say it is generally inappropriate for Trump to ask foreign leaders to investigate political rivals. [...]

Meanwhile, voters think President Trump is just out for himself. Fifty-five percent overall and 18 percent of Republicans say he is doing what’s best for Trump. Thirty-nine percent think he puts the country first. [...]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in negative territory by 23 points (26-49) and 25 percent can’t rate him. Voters have a negative view of both Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani by 22 points (31-53) and Attorney General William Barr by 14 points (24-38). [...]

Conducted October 6-8, 2019 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,003 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.
posted by katra at 3:57 PM on October 9 [17 favorites]




@luivelarde

Trump on the Kurds: "They didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy, as an example." He suggests that they battled alongside U.S. forces for "their land," and adds, "With all of that being said, we like the Kurds."

Trump said he learned the Kurds didn't help in WWII from a "very, very powerful" article.
posted by xammerboy at 5:20 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


OK, I acknowledge that it is pointless to argue with nonsense but:
"They didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy, as an example." He suggests that they battled alongside U.S. forces for "their land,"
What does this have to do with anything? Why does he think this is a justification for anything?
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:23 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Trump didn't help us in World War II either. Or Vietnam, for that matter.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:24 PM on October 9 [41 favorites]


What happened to Eric Holder when he did the whole thing where he refused to turn over documents to Congress? Didn't Obama invoke some kind of executive privilege to shield him? In terms of procedure and powers, could someone break down how that situation differed from this one?
posted by clawsoon at 5:26 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Russia did help us in WW2, there's your Trump logic seed.
posted by prize bull octorok at 5:33 PM on October 9 [22 favorites]


they didn't help us with Normandy, as an example

It's a huge oversight that there's no wanking it emoji. We need people with rhetorical power in the public eye to just stop responding to this stuff factually and tell him he's a fucking moron who is talking bullshit nonstop. There are so many reasons why this is a stupid statement that it is hardly worth enumerating them.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:35 PM on October 9 [40 favorites]


What happened to Eric Holder when he did the whole thing where he refused to turn over documents to Congress? Didn't Obama invoke some kind of executive privilege to shield him? In terms of procedure and powers, could someone break down how that situation differed from this one?

Congressional Subpoena Power and Executive Privilege: The Coming Showdown Between the Branches (Margaret Taylor, Lawfare, Jan 30, 2019)
The most recent example is President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege in the context of “Operation Fast and Furious”—a federal gun-running investigation and operation gone wrong. On March 31, 2011, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, then chaired by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, issued a subpoena to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The Justice Department responded in writing to the committee a few months later. After more back-and-forth, on Oct. 12, the committee issued a second subpoena to the department for communications from several top officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, relating to the operation. [...]

In June of 2012, Obama invoked executive privilege to deny the committee access to certain documents responsive to the subpoena on the basis that complying “would raise substantial separation of powers concerns and potentially create an imbalance in the relationship” between Congress and the White House. The House voted on June 28, 2012, to hold Holder in contempt—the first such action against a sitting Cabinet official. The committee then brought a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force disclosure of the documents at issue. The court case was repeatedly delayed by procedural issues and unsuccessful efforts to broker a settlement.

It wasn’t until January of 2016—a full three and a half years later—that a federal judge rejected Obama's assertion of executive privilege to deny Congress access to the records on the grounds that “under the unique and limited circumstances of this case, ... the qualified privilege must yield, given the executive’s acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the investigation, and the fact that the Department itself has already publicly revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold.” The court also found that “records reflecting the agency’s internal deliberations over how to respond to Congressional and media inquiries fall under the protection of the deliberative process privilege.” Finally, the court “encourage[d] the parties to start with a fresh slate and resolve the few remaining issues with flexibility and respect.”

By then, a new Congress had convened and access to the documents was, for most practical purposes, moot.
As to how this is different, there's this: What Powers Does a Formal Impeachment Inquiry Give the House? (Molly E. Reynolds, Margaret Taylor, Lawfare, May 21, 2019)
posted by katra at 5:46 PM on October 9 [20 favorites]


Thanks, katra!
posted by clawsoon at 5:48 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


It's a huge oversight that there's no wanking it emoji.

✊🌈✊
posted by J.K. Seazer at 5:49 PM on October 9 [9 favorites]


When asked today about the possibility of imprisoned ISIS fighters potentially escaping as the U.S. vacates northern Syria, Trump said this:
Well they’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go. They want to go back to their homes. But Europe didn't want them from us. We could've given it to them. They could've had trials they could've had whatever they wanted. But as usual, it's not reciprocal. [then some nonsense about reciprocal being his favorite word, and referring to the PKK as the "PK Key"]
What does this even mean? I mean, seriously, what is he trying to say here? That it doesn't matter if ISIS prisoners escape, because they're just going to go to Europe, that this is Europe's fault, and they deserve whatever happens to them? JFC
posted by zakur at 5:53 PM on October 9 [22 favorites]


That may be intersecting a bit with the ongoing Syria/Turkey thread. The Syrian Democratic Forces are the ones that have been holding the prisoners this entire time, not the US. Secondly, Trump actually is correct that their home countries did not want them back, but that also includes the US. The SDF said if the prisoners’ home countries don’t take them back then they needed help/resources for holding them and wanted an international court developed in Syria for dealing with them.
posted by gucci mane at 6:17 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


Well, where were the Europeans during Normandy? Some of them helped, sure. But some of them fought against us!
posted by xammerboy at 6:20 PM on October 9 [13 favorites]


The reality is that the Kurds will probably not release the prisoners, because the first people the prisoners attack will be innocent Kurds in the region...
posted by xammerboy at 6:24 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


It's a huge oversight that there's no wanking it emoji.

When emojis first hit big, someone right here on MetaFilter said they only had a use for two among the entire set: the fist emoji and the double-arrow/back-and-forth emoji.

THE CIRCLE IS COMPLETE
posted by wenestvedt at 6:24 PM on October 9 [19 favorites]


Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office. < Bloomberg

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

'The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels. Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.'
posted by Harry Caul at 6:25 PM on October 9 [23 favorites]


Trump is literally what impeachment is for, and the longer we delay the weirder and more awful it's going to get. He must be stopped.
posted by odinsdream at 6:29 PM on October 9 [75 favorites]


This article describes a slightly more nuanced story than this headline/lead suggests (which is that DJT would fit in well on Succession), but the timing and implications are troubling:

Donald Trump has defended the wife of a US diplomat accused of killing a British teenager in a road accident, suggesting it is difficult to drive on the other side of the road and that “it happens”.

He really can't just say the right thing, ever, can he? Literally everything that comes out of his mouth causes harm.
posted by witchen at 6:53 PM on October 9 [15 favorites]


The NYT editorial board sez: the letter is indeed bananas, but, maybe a few concessions on process would be reasonable? For example, let the minority parry have some subpoena power, too... As happened with Clinton.

Which makes me realize that the right amount of process is the amount the public needs to accept the proceedings as legitimate. This, in turn, depends on the circumstances of the impeachment. Cheating with an intern thus requires lots of process. Trying to subset the foundations of the democracy or Republic or whatever, and then backstabbing some allies with some ill considered tweets would ostensibly require far less process. I feel like there just needs to be one more strong reminder that this dude has the nuclear codes to really pump some nitro into the proceedings... The Syria situation is pretty much exactly what everyone has been expecting you happen, at the most perfect moment.

The fox poll with 51% approval for impeach and remove should also help shake things up. I can't imagine Trump is especially happy to see even his own wolves admiring the truth tonight.

It is, as always, hella depressing to consider that if trump were just ten percent more effective, we'd be looking at President Hitler.

[Sorry, almost forgot: trump delenda est.]
posted by kaibutsu at 7:03 PM on October 9 [14 favorites]


Donald Trump has defended the wife of a US diplomat accused of killing a British teenager in a road accident
This is some bullshit as there is no Jonathan Sacoolas on the official Diplomatic list. Neither Sacoolas nor his wife has any right to claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.
posted by adamvasco at 7:11 PM on October 9 [30 favorites]


It's a huge oversight that there's no wanking it emoji.

When emojis first hit big, someone right here on MetaFilter said they only had a use for two among the entire set: the fist emoji and the double-arrow/back-and-forth emoji.


Can we please not, even as a joke, say that the world needs more focus on and discussion of and representations of penises? Fucking hell.
posted by medusa at 7:16 PM on October 9 [14 favorites]


Trump is literally what impeachment is for

And why not, because Trump is also literally what the Electoral College is for.

Once Trump is gone, Republicans will try to pretend they were against him all along. Democrats and other loyal Americans must never let them forget that We -- Hillary Clinton especially -- said clearly that Trump was unfit for office, and he proved it himself ever since, and Republicans went right along with it.

Perhaps some day we can forgive, but we must never forget.
posted by Gelatin at 7:18 PM on October 9 [26 favorites]


maybe a few concessions on process would be reasonable? For example, let the minority parry have some subpoena power, too... As happened with Clinton.
I know a lot of self-styled moderates to whom this would appeal, but all I can really think about is how any such concessions would be used by the Republicans to undermine the proceedings at every turn. I know that they're going to try and do that anyway, but I don't think Democratic leadership should help them. It's also worth remembering how many concession were made to Democrats during, say, the 9,438 Benghazi hearings (all figures are approximate): none, IIRC. I have no idea how to rebuild good-faith relationships with the GOP later when it's gone all-in for Trump now. That's the ultimate problem with throwing all norms and conventions out the window -- nobody ever has reason to trust you ever again. Your stated motives can't be accepted at face value. De-Nazification has been mentioned in other threads, so maybe there'll be some kind of de-Trumpification after this administration is over, but I think that requires some recognition that Trumpism is actually a thing to be ashamed of.
posted by wintermind at 7:27 PM on October 9 [19 favorites]


[Y'all please drop it with the emoji thing and maybe with the wankery thing in general.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:42 PM on October 9 [16 favorites]


I think that requires some recognition that Trumpism is actually a thing to be ashamed of.

Trump splits Republican voters as friends and family clash: 'We don't speak' (Guardian)
[Terri Burl, chair of the Forest County GOP in Wisconsin] said the county has become so polarised over the president she struggles to get even solid Trump supporters to turn out and campaign for him.

“Behind the scenes they know who they’re going to vote for but people don’t want to say that they’re for Trump. They’re embarrassed to. I’m embarrassed sometimes with things he says and how he says them,” said Burl, a substitute teacher who worked with disabled people and victims of domestic violence.
posted by katra at 7:49 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


So we're a third of the way through October, and we're supposed to have an actual factual impeachment by...thanksgiving.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:52 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Maybe the real impeachment was the family we alienated along the way.
posted by Ryvar at 9:22 PM on October 9 [67 favorites]


“Behind the scenes they know who they’re going to vote for but people don’t want to say that they’re for Trump. They’re embarrassed to. I’m embarrassed sometimes with things he says and how he says them,” said Burl, a substitute teacher who worked with disabled people and victims of domestic violence.

On the other hand, the camps for children really won her over.
posted by jaduncan at 10:38 PM on October 9 [38 favorites]


I can't imagine anyone thinks it's a good idea to give Devin Nunes subpeona power again, even as a gesture of goodwill
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:49 PM on October 9 [19 favorites]


Once Trump is gone, Republicans will try to pretend they were against him all along.

Which is one reason why you have to take impeachment as far as you can even if the Senate won't act.
Make sure that there is solid evidence that shows they supported this.
I know they're too shameless for it to matter much, but put it on paper. Make it fact.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:44 AM on October 10 [24 favorites]


The latest development in the fleeing-diplomat-wife scandal is the revelation - by way of Trump waving around his Secret-flagged cue card - that the US has no intention whatsoever of waiving Mrs Sacoolas' alleged diplomatic immunity, despite all the talk of further discussions.

I used to work closely with the US military during my RAF service. Mrs Clanger used to work in a diplomatic role for the UK Foreign Office. This development comes as no surprise as US policy is and always has been that its overseas personnel are above the local law.
posted by Major Clanger at 3:37 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


This development comes as no surprise as US policy is and always has been that its overseas personnel are above the local law.

Last time I heard, there was a million pounds or so of unpaid parking tickets incurred by US Embassy staff in London, which the mayor of London occasionally made noises about but everyone acknowledged there was no prospect of collecting on. However. from that to vehicular homicide is quite a step.
posted by acb at 4:25 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


Last time I heard, there was a million pounds or so of unpaid parking tickets incurred by US Embassy staff in London, which the mayor of London occasionally made noises about but everyone acknowledged there was no prospect of collecting on.

If I recall correctly, the only time any mayor of London made noises about it was when Boris Johnson was in that office, and the US had been recently trying to come after him for not paying US taxes (he still held dual citizenship at the time).

He didn't seem particularly interested in the similar bills run up by other embassies for some reason, funny that.
posted by automatronic at 4:50 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Didn't Ken Livingstone use US Embassy parking fines for anti-imperialist cred at some point?
posted by acb at 4:56 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


It's probably protocol to get out of Dodge and pick up the pieces later. I know it's standard airline policy for cabin and flight crew that if they find themselves in trouble abroad that may result in arrest or detention, they should get back to the airport and on a flight home AFSAFP. I was told this by a gay cabin crew member while discussing how it works when they're rostered to a destination where homosexuality is illegal, but he said that it was standard practice no matter what the offence. It is always, always less trouble and expense to avoid having the local authorities getting their talons into you - it's sorted out at a much higher level, and if you have to go back to face the music then so be it.

I would say that the chances of the ambo's wife ever coming back to the UK are as close to zero as you could count, and that this would be the case no matter who was in the White House. It's a case of every country knowing that it's in their best interests in general to not open this particular can of worms.
posted by Devonian at 6:00 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Once Trump is gone, Republicans will try to pretend they were against him all along.

I was naive enough to think Republicans would do some soul searching after Bush got us into a forever war, dragged the country's reputation through the mud, gave away the surplus to the rich, and melted down the world economy. Instead, Republicans started looking for someone worse.

What Republicans will learn from Trump is that racism plays. Promise to build a wall and make life miserable for anyone that isn't white, and you'll get enough support to rip that constitution in two and stop this experiment of a government of the people.
posted by xammerboy at 6:01 AM on October 10 [26 favorites]


> What Republicans will learn from Trump is that racism plays.

> Trump splits Republican voters as friends and family clash: 'We don't speak' (Guardian)
Of all the nests the president has stirred, perhaps none has inflamed anger quite like immigration. Trump’s portrayal of asylum seekers flooding across the US’s southern border, and claim that they pose a security threat, as well as his at times vitriolic language to describe immigrants has riled public opinion. [...]

It’s not clear though that the issue is playing as well as Trump would like. A poll by Marquette Law School showed rising tolerance of immigration in the state with 65% saying immigrants make the country a better place while just 4% said they are to the detriment of Wisconsin.
posted by katra at 6:23 AM on October 10 [16 favorites]


WaPo: Two business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani have been arrested and are in custody: "The two men, who helped Giuliani investigate former vice president Joe Biden, were charged with campaign finance violations, according to a person familiar with the charges.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman have been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan."
posted by jocelmeow at 7:05 AM on October 10 [54 favorites]


Some background (from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, July 2019) on Parnas and Fruman, who I like to imagine as looking exactly like the Wet Bandits.
posted by theodolite at 7:12 AM on October 10 [13 favorites]


Trump likes to use the phrase 'right out of central casting' a lot and he will be pleased that Parnas and Fruman look exactly like henchmen.
posted by readery at 7:16 AM on October 10 [11 favorites]


I was naive enough to think Republicans would do some soul searching after Bush got us into a forever war, dragged the country's reputation through the mud, gave away the surplus to the rich, and melted down the world economy. Instead, Republicans started looking for someone worse.

They did do that autopsy after Romney lost in 2012 and basically proceeded to ignore all of it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:20 AM on October 10 [25 favorites]


Guardian: The indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman has now been posted, and it lays out charges that the two foreign-born Republican donors tried to circumvent election laws to exert political influence.

Guardian: Rudy Giuliani minimized campaign-finance charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman as recently as two weeks ago, a New York Times reporter noted.

Guardian: Parnas, one of the men arrested on campaign-finance charges, was scheduled to be deposed today by House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry against Trump. USA Today has more

Guardian: A lawyer [John Dowd] for the two arrested men said last week that they were still working with Rudy Giuliani to assist him in representing the president.
posted by katra at 7:29 AM on October 10 [13 favorites]




So I guess the lesson is, don't let your lawyer use comic sans if you want to stay out of jail.
posted by mabelstreet at 7:43 AM on October 10 [12 favorites]


Guardian: The indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman has now been posted, and it lays out charges that the two foreign-born Republican donors tried to circumvent election laws to exert political influence.

Basically it says they took money from Foreign National - 1 and funneled it to various politicians for the purposes of obtaining recreational marijuana business licenses in Nevada and elsewhere . . .

I wonder if there arent at least some congresspeople (one unnamed in the indictment) and local level officials referenced who should be concerned about what these guys would tell the Feds?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:48 AM on October 10


Two Giuliani Ukraine associates indicted on campaign finance charges (Politico)
Some of the charges against the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, stem from alleged activities related to their work with Giuliani, including a successful effort to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed from her post.

According to the indictment, Parnas and Fruman agitated for her removal at the behest of an unnamed Ukrainian government official, and hid the source of political donations they made in order to further that goal. [...]

The ultimate source of the political donations, according to the indictment, was an unnamed Russian businessman.
posted by katra at 7:50 AM on October 10 [10 favorites]


Someone's going to roll. This conversation is happening right now: first one on the train is leaving the station. You or him?
posted by jquinby at 7:57 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]




And they were scheduled to testify to congress today and tomorrow. Hope their cell CCTV cameras don't mysteriously stop working tonight.
posted by PenDevil at 8:01 AM on October 10 [22 favorites]


The unnamed congressman would likely be Pete Sessions who received more than $3 million from the America First Action PAC and played a role in firing Ambassador Yovanovitch.
posted by peeedro at 8:05 AM on October 10 [18 favorites]


Mike Pence’s conspicuously evasive answers on Ukraine (WaPo)
NBC News’s Vaughn Hillyard did yeoman’s work Wednesday pressing Pence on the matter. But Pence declined to directly answer many of the questions he was asked. Most notably, he repeatedly declined to say whether he we even aware of Trump’s interest in getting Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. [...]

You could make an argument that Pence had to have known that this was really about the Bidens and about Trump’s conspiracy theories involving the Russia investigation’s origins, because Giuliani and Trump had made that pretty clear. But the fact that he can’t just come out and say that he was or wasn’t aware of Trump’s true interest suggests he knows he’s in a tough spot here.
Pence aiming to release records of his own Ukraine calls (AP)
Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he is working with the White House counsel’s office to release transcripts of his own calls with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. [...] Pence said he “never discussed the issue of the Bidens” with Zelenskiy. And he again defended the president, insisting that a “plain reading” of the rough transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukranian leader shows “there was no quid pro quo.” [...] Pence also said he stands by his assertion during a 2016 vice presidential debate that foreign governments shouldn’t get involved in domestic elections.
posted by katra at 8:06 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


The unnamed congressman would likely be Pete Sessions who received more than $3 million from the America First Action PAC and played a role in firing Ambassador Yovanovitch.

Guardian: The pro-Trump super PAC that received money from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman said it would place the funds in a “segregated” bank account until the charges against them are addressed.
Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan)

In a statement, America First Action comms director Kelly Sadler said the contribution was placed in a segregated bank account and will remain there until the matter is resolved. The funds hadn't been used. https://t.co/Wz9GobRMSD
October 10, 2019
posted by katra at 8:10 AM on October 10


Any excuse to segregate something with that crowd.
posted by mikepop at 8:13 AM on October 10 [49 favorites]


The more info that comes out about Parnas and Fruman, the more this arrest feels like a rabbit hole. Unnamed Russian businessman funneling money to a Trump connected PAC through two guys connected to one of Trump’s fixers, and these guys have been poking around Ukraine trying to manufacture dirt on a political rival and helped get an ambassador dismissed? These guys probably know what closets are hiding a hell of a lot of skeletons.
posted by azpenguin at 8:14 AM on October 10 [16 favorites]


Guardian: The Wall Street Journal is now also reporting that the White House shifted responsibility of overseeing aid to Ukraine to a political appointee after budget staffers raised legal concerns about stalling the funds.
The Journal reports: [...]

The Democratic leaders of the House Budget and Appropriations committees, which are also probing the delay in the aid to Ukraine, called the involvement of a political official in the apportionment process ‘seemingly unprecedented’ in a letter requesting documents from OMB. Those committees have received some documents from OMB that they requested.
posted by katra at 8:26 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


I’m seeing a pretty even split amongst Twitterers between gleeful speculation that Parnas and Fruman will flip and bring down Rudy, and that this was a mustache-twirling move orchestrated by Barr to keep their testimony away from the House, and I honestly can’t tell which take is the more fantastical.
posted by scarylarry at 8:34 AM on October 10 [11 favorites]


Some of the charges against the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, stem from alleged activities related to their work with Giuliani, including a successful effort to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed from her post.

Guardian: The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump recalled Yovanovitch in May after some of his external advisers, including Rudy Giulaini, claimed she was obstructing efforts to convince Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden: [...]
The recall of Marie Yovanovitch in the spring has become a key point of interest in the House impeachment inquiry. A whistleblower complaint by a CIA officer [...] cites Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster as one of a series of events that paved the way for what the whistleblower alleges was an abuse of power by the president. ...

In an interview, Mr. Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that in the lead-up to Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal, he reminded the president of complaints percolating among Trump supporters that she had displayed an anti-Trump bias in private conversations. In Mr. Giuliani’s view, she also had been an obstacle to efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter.
posted by katra at 8:35 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


And they were scheduled to testify to congress today and tomorrow. Hope their cell CCTV cameras don't mysteriously stop working tonight.

Apparently they were preparing to flee so the SDNY had to act.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:37 AM on October 10 [33 favorites]


I love that reply: "Wait till we hear that Barr tipped off Guiliani about this, and Guiliani in turn told them to flee."
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:42 AM on October 10 [17 favorites]


OK, with the Parnas and Fruman stuff, now it feels more like Iran-Contra and less like Watergate.
posted by pseudophile at 8:45 AM on October 10 [9 favorites]


Basically it says they took money from Foreign National - 1 and funneled it to various politicians for the purposes of obtaining recreational marijuana business licenses in Nevada and elsewhere . . .

Those donations according to Nevada's campaign finance disclosure system were $10,000 each made to then-Nevada Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt and Republican candidate for Attorney General Wes Duncan. Both lost their 2018 election bids.
posted by peeedro at 9:00 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


And they were scheduled to testify to congress today and tomorrow. Hope their cell CCTV cameras don't mysteriously stop working tonight.

Apparently they were preparing to flee so the SDNY had to act.


I guess this is why they're expected to appear in federal court in Virginia today.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:04 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


octothorpe: They did do that autopsy after Romney lost in 2012 and basically proceeded to ignore all of it.

I think you mean "double down on the things it said they shouldn't do." Talking Points Memo boiled the autopsy down to 6 big take-aways:
1. Pass Immigration Reform Yesterday
2. Listen To Minorities
3. Gays Aren’t Going Away
4. Epistemic Closure Is Rea
l (a condition in which conservatives block out all dissenting voices until eventually their own arguments sound nonsensical to anyone who doesn’t already agree with them.)
5. Look To The States -- The GOP currently holds 30 governorships and many of them, like Chris Christie in New Jersey and John Kasich in Ohio, have been both moving to the center and gaining in popularity recently. They stand in stark contrast to House Republicans, who have more conservative constituencies and typically have been more inflexible in their views.
6. Stop Being The Rich Guys -- Less than year after nominating a millionaire investor who proclaimed that “corporations are people,” the RNC is concerned that the party has become too closely tied with wealthy interests.
Of those six things to do, the GOP went hard the other way, and Trump won on being the most unlike those goals.

These are good take-aways, but the problem is that they're problems for the future of the GOP, but Trump won with the GOP of today.


FACT CHECK: White House Legal Argument Against Impeachment Inquiry (NPR, October 9, 2019) -- digging into the claims made by White House counsel Pat Cipollone in his 8 page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (PDF).
The impeachment standoff between two co-equal branches of government raises several key constitutional questions, none of which — spoiler alert — seem particularly favorable to the president's position.
A decent review, in my eyes. Maybe nothing new, but I haven't been keeping up with everything as of late.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM on October 10 [30 favorites]


Meanwhile, he’s losing support among responsible Senate Republicans like Mitt Romney of Utah, who calls his actions “troubling in the extreme”, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, who urges colleagues not to “circle the wagons”, and intelligence chair Richard Burr of North Carolina, who vows to “get to the bottom” of what happened.


This has kind of gotten buried under everything else, but on October 8th Burr tweeted this:
Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election. Their goal is to sow societal discord and erode confidence in the machinery of government.

He goes on with a few more tweets in the thread, and links to the press release about the report. It doesn't say anything we didn't already know, but seeing it all spelled out there by a Republican senator from North Carolina.. I'm almost ashamed to say it.. gives me hope.

The fact that the press release has seemed to get very little press has more of a negative impact on my hope.
posted by wondermouse at 10:04 AM on October 10 [16 favorites]


Trump is openly telling us he’s above the law. Here’s his next move. (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
It’s worth stepping back and stating in plain language just how profoundly President Trump is corrupting our political system right now. Several new media analyses take a stab at this — see this CNN piece or this New York Times take — by correctly suggesting that Trump’s total defiance of oversight poses a massive challenge to our constitutional order.

But they aren’t quite grappling with the magnitude of what we’re seeing. That’s only half the story. [...]

What’s glaring at us in plain sight is a straight-up declaration that Trump possesses the legitimate authority to conscript a foreign power to help him rig the next election on his behalf.

“It’s now the official position of the White House that soliciting foreign election interference is appropriate,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. The White House isn’t even contesting that this happened any longer: “The White House is saying, ‘Yeah, he did it, and it’s fine.'"
posted by katra at 10:06 AM on October 10 [40 favorites]


“It’s now the official position of the White House that soliciting foreign election interference is appropriate,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. The White House isn’t even contesting that this happened any longer: “The White House is saying, ‘Yeah, he did it, and it’s fine.'"

In a few short months Trump has gone from "NO COLLUSION!" to "NO, COLLUSION!"
posted by Gelatin at 10:45 AM on October 10 [36 favorites]


I don't know what you're talking about. There's always been a hyphen in "NO, COLLUSION!"
posted by kaibutsu at 11:08 AM on October 10 [53 favorites]


The Narcissists Prayer has proved startlingly accurate, hasn't it.

That didn't happen. --NO COLLUSION, PERFECT CALL
And if it did, it wasn't that bad. --Memo, downgraded to great call
And if it was, that's not a big deal. --Let's do it live on TV and with China
And if it is, that's not my fault. --RICK PERRY
And if it was, I didn't mean it. --More Rick Perry?
And if I did...
You deserved it. --Call for impeaching all Democrats basically
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:12 AM on October 10 [31 favorites]


I like to think I've been paying close attention to this whole mess, but this excellent Reddit comment really clearly laid out how these arrests tie into the two-act structure of the Ukraine scandal in a way I hadn't fully grasped till now:

* * *
This means SDNY has just arrested the bagman in: The Original Quid Pro Quo with Yuriy Lutsenko to Exchange [Ambassador] Maria Yovanovitch's Termination for Investigations into Biden and 2016

You might remember Maria Yovanovitch as the woman whom Trump said "was going to go through some things" in his July call with Zelenskyy. Her firing by Donald Trump was the "quid" in the original quid pro quo conspiracy that Giuliani arranged in March 2019 with Ukraine's top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. Here is the run down:
  • In March of 2019, Yovanovitch gives a speech blasting the failure of Ukraine's anticorruption prosecutors, and advocated for the removal of Lutsenko.
  • Two weeks later, Lutsenko fabricated dirt on Yovanovitch and laundered it through a conspiracy theorist/pretend journalist at the Hill named John Solomon.
  • At the same time Giuliani forges a deal with Lutsenko: we will get Yovanovitch terminated (a firing Donald Trump personally ordered), and in exchange Lutsenko fabricates the investigations Giuliani requests to help Trump politically (again, laundered through conspiracy theorist Solomon).
  • In April, The deal falls apart when Zelenskyy wins a landslide election on an anti-corruption platform and fires Lutsenko.
  • In May, Giuliani blasts the Lutsenko firing, praising him as "a much more honest guy" than his predecessor Victor Shokin, who hilariously is the guy Biden helped get fired. Giuliani travels to Ukraine for the expressed purpose of preserving the quid pro quo with Lutsenko's successor:
  • “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do...Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
  • But it doesn't work, and in July they decide that Trump himself needs to pressure Zelensky directly. In the July phone call, Trump personally admonishes Zelenskyy for screwing up the Lutsenko deal:
  • In a White House transcript of a July 25 phone call, President Trump seemed to admonish the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for firing Lutsenko: “I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything.”
    The rest is history. Zelenskyy asks about military aid, Trump says "I would like you do us a favor, though", and then directly asks Zelenskyy for the same investigations into Biden and the Black Ledger that they had originally extracted from Lutsenko in exchange for Yovanovitch's termination. Lutsenko himself, now with no hope of getting his job back, readily admits the allegations of wrong doing by Hunter Biden were fabrications. Now SDNY has arrested two men who appear to have done the legwork coordinating with Lutsenko.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:43 AM on October 10 [103 favorites]


Highlights from October 8th's press release from the bipartisan Senate Intel Committee Report "Russia's Use of Social Media," for anyone who hasn't gone through to the Richard Burr tweet and clicked the link:
Key Findings and Recommendations:

The Committee found that the [Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency] IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin. The Committee found that IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign.

The Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) targeting of the 2016 U.S. election was part of a broader, sophisticated, and ongoing information warfare campaign designed to sow discord in American politics and society. While the IRA exploited election-related content, the majority of its operations focused on exacerbating existing tensions on socially divisive issues, including race, immigration, and Second Amendment rights.

The Committee found the IRA targeted African-Americans more than any other group or demographic. Through individual posts, location targeting, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and Twitter trends, the IRA focused much of its efforts on stoking divisions around hot-button issues with racial undertones.

The IRA engaged with unwitting Americans to further its reach beyond the digital realm and into real-world activities. For example, IRA operatives targeting African-Americans convinced individuals to sign petitions, share personal information, and teach self-defense courses. Posing as U.S. political activists, operatives sought help from the Trump Campaign to procure campaign materials and to organize and promote rallies.

The Committee found IRA activity increased, rather than decreased, after Election Day 2016. Analysis of IRA-associated accounts shows a significant spike in activity after the election, increasing across Instagram (238 percent), Facebook (59 percent), Twitter (52 percent), and YouTube (84 percent). Researchers continue to uncover IRA-associated accounts that spread malicious content.
posted by wondermouse at 11:44 AM on October 10 [28 favorites]


Some soccer fans worship their teams with a religious intensity, it's part of their identity and their community. When a player feigns an injury for a penalty, which happens all the time, indifferent people see it as cheating. The fanatics don't see it that way. They are either true believers, who know their heroes would never cheat and the injury is real, despite the evidence of their eyes. Or they are pragmatic, it's a professional foul, they are just doing what they need to do to win, which is the most important thing.

The commentators were carefully impartial about this in the old days, knowing that their audience were supporters of both teams. Perhaps in the most egregious cases they'd say with a note of concern 'well, that's the referee's decision', careful not to piss anyone off.

I remember a reporter asking a Roy Moore supporter if they believed the allegations. They said yes, but at least he's not a democrat. That's the pragmatic type. The true believer either hasn't heard the allegations, or they are told they are fake news. Shameless smears. They don't listen to impartial sources, they've been told not to trust them.

The media has a problem. This impeachment is being perceived as just another Trump scandal. What did he tweet this time? Is this about the porn star, or the golf course, or the hotel again? But it's not like the other scandals. This is about the establishment of one-man rule. An American dictatorship. Rigged elections, political opponents threatened, justice over-ruled by executive privilege. He's told you he wants to be a dictator. Do you think he's joking? When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

Fascism is undergoing a global rebirth. I know you think you're exceptional, it can't happen here, that only happens in far off places. You're not that special. Yet no-one is regarding this as the crisis it is because your media is broken, splintered, fractured, unreal. Half of your people think a pedophile is a better vote than a democrat.

The president is being impeached and no-one cares.
posted by adept256 at 11:54 AM on October 10 [51 favorites]


The revealing splits in GOP senators’ reactions to impeachment (WaPo)
0 Support the impeachment inquiry

15 Have expressed concerns or said they have questions

38 Support Trump unequivocally
Also: Metro East [Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)] pulls Trump support after Syria decision (KMOX, via Politico)
"Pull my name off the 'I support Donald Trump' list."
posted by katra at 11:56 AM on October 10 [10 favorites]


Now SDNY has arrested two men who appear to have done the legwork coordinating with Lutsenko.

Suspects arrested on campaign finance charges after having lunch with Giuliani (The Hill)
Two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., hours before they were arrested, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source who saw the group together. [...]

Prosecutors say the two were attempting to leave the country with one-way international tickets when they were arrested.
posted by katra at 1:07 PM on October 10 [14 favorites]


News trickling in citing the Wall Street Journal article that Giuliani met with Parnas and Fruman yesterday at the Trump Hotel in DC for lunch prior to them attempting to leave the country. Will be interesting to see if this is confirmed.

Surely no one is that stupid right?
posted by mike_honcho at 1:10 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Giuliani hanging out at a Trump property with two who may have been under surveillance? Oooof. That's delicious.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:11 PM on October 10 [28 favorites]


Surely no one is that stupid right?

It's kinda what I've been wondering all day: is Trump succeeding in spite of the gross incompetency of his crew, or are law enforcement and intelligence agencies just really, really good at what they do.

/Not to say that's mutually exclusive...
posted by MrGuilt at 1:12 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


I was thinking the by-thanksgiving timeline of the impeachment was crazily fast, but there’s really no need for further evidence to start the proceedings. We can and should keep investigating until we’ve unraveled what the fuck happened to our country, but in terms of just I’ing TMFA there’s more than enough evidence to win over the court of public opinion, even with all the current obstruction going on.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:15 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]




It's kinda what I've been wondering all day: is Trump succeeding in spite of the gross incompetency of his crew, or are law enforcement and intelligence agencies just really, really good at what they do.

Parnas and Fruman are indicted by the SDNY, and New York Prosecutors May Pose a Bigger Threat to Trump Than Mueller (Natasha Bertrand, Atlantic, Aug 24, 2018)
SDNY’s aggressive pursuit of the Mafia and similarly structured organizations earned it a nickname, the Sovereign District of New York, and allowed it a little more leeway and independence from the Justice Department than most U.S. attorney’s offices enjoy, [Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino family boss John Gotti] said. It is also arguably subject to less oversight than Mueller’s probe, which is being overseen directly by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “I think there’s a lot of truth to that sovereignty notion,” Cotter said. “Their strike zone is bigger in terms of DOJ supervision.”
posted by katra at 1:24 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]


Rick Perry has been subpoenaed

"Extortion, obstruction, and the uh, um, what's the third one there, let's see. The third crime I saw, obstruction, the uh, extortion, and let's see. I can't, the third one, sorry. Oops."
posted by jason_steakums at 1:32 PM on October 10 [43 favorites]


[This isn't a megathread, folks. A thread on Turkey would be appropriate. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:15 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


17 former Watergate special prosecutors:
We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:17 PM on October 10 [18 favorites]


In a few short months Trump has gone from "NO COLLUSION!" to "NO, COLLUSION!"

Hopefully soon American will see the headlines "Know Collusion!"
posted by srboisvert at 2:21 PM on October 10 [9 favorites]


Parnas and Fruman are indicted by the SDNY, and New York Prosecutors May Pose a Bigger Threat to Trump Than Mueller

The fun part of this is that part of the reason SDNY has this freedom is their mob prosecutions. And who was head of SDNY when that was happening in the eighties? Rudy G.
posted by srboisvert at 2:48 PM on October 10 [12 favorites]


Rudy prosecuted the Italian mafia so the vacuum of power would allow for the Russian mafia to gain a footing. Mysteriously Rudy didn’t continue prosecuting mafia crimes after that was done.
posted by odinsdream at 2:58 PM on October 10 [30 favorites]


katra: Fox News Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment (FOX News, via Drudge banner: FOX SHOCK: 51% WANT TRUMP REMOVED )

Poll: Independents Move In Favor Of Impeachment Inquiry; GOP Stays Firmly Against (NPR, October 10, 2019)
A slim majority of Americans now approve of the Democratic House-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

Fifty-two percent say they approve of the inquiry, while 43% disapprove. That's a slight increase in support from two weeks ago, when 49% approved and 46% disapproved. The numbers are in line with other polls that have been released this week also showing majority support or an increase in support for the inquiry.

And the Trump administration continues to side-step Congress: How The Trump Administration Uses 'Workarounds' To Reshape Legal Immigration (NPR, Oct. 10, 2019)
Earlier this year, the State Department quietly rolled out new limits on one of President Trump's favorite targets: the diversity visa lottery.

The White House made ending the program one of the "pillars" of its immigration policy proposal last year. But those proposals went nowhere on Capitol Hill.

So the administration tried something different: It is restricting who can apply for the diversity visa, in a way that advocates say will make it much harder for low-income immigrants to apply.
...
Despite pressure from the White House, Congress has not moved to end the program, which admits about 55,000 immigrants a year, largely from Africa and Europe, and gives them a path to a green card. Advocates say those immigrants tend to have higher levels of education and speak better English than other immigrants, and they come from countries that haven't historically had high levels of immigration to the U.S.

But the Trump administration didn't back down. In June of this year, the State Department announced a new rule: To be eligible for the diversity visa lottery, people must have a passport at the time they apply. The rule is designed to prevent fraud, officials said.

That may not sound like a big deal. But in many countries, obtaining a passport is difficult and time-consuming, says [Amaha Kassa, the executive director of African Communities Together, a nonprofit that helps African immigrants and their families], whose organization is suing to block the new rule.

"One of the plaintiffs on this lawsuit, he is a mechanic in a small town in Ethiopia. And in order to go to the place where he can apply for a passport he has to take three different buses. It's going to take him a full day to travel there. And the fees for acquiring a passport might be as much as a week's wages for him," Kassa said. "So what we're saying is, that is a huge burden."
...
Critics say the administration is still trying to achieve those goals — but in ways that don't require approval from Congress.

They point to the "public charge" rule, set to take effect next week, which would make it harder for immigrants to get green cards if they use a wide range of public benefits, such as food stamps. The rule also adds new income requirements for immigrants, favoring those who make more than 250% of the poverty line.
The article focuses on Trump's effort to change who is allowed on the path towards citizenship, but in terms of looking at his power grabs, particularly in light of impeachment investigations, he's acting on his own when he doesn't like what Congress says or does, even when the Republicans still have the Senate.

But it this case, it feels like the GOP would be happy to let Trump be the racist hardliner on immigration policies, so they can both throw up their hands and say "that's Trump, not us!" and also say to their racist base "see, the President has your racist backs!"
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


The Atlantic: The Mystery of Rudy Giuliani’s Vienna Trip, Elaina Plott
Last night, when Rudy Giuliani told me he couldn’t get together for an interview, his reason made sense: As with many nights of late, he was due to appear on Hannity. When I suggested this evening instead, his response was a bit more curious. We would have to aim for lunch, Giuliani told me, because he was planning to fly to Vienna, Austria, at night. He didn’t offer any details beyond that.

Giuliani called me at 6:22 p.m. last night—around the same time that two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested at Dulles Airport while waiting to board an international flight with one-way tickets. As The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon, the two men were bound for Vienna. The Florida businessmen, who are reported to have assisted Giuliani in his alleged efforts to investigate Joe Biden and his family ahead of the 2020 election, were charged with campaign-finance violations, with prosecutors alleging that they had conspired to funnel money from a Russian donor into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

But Giuliani, when confirming today that Parnas and Fruman were heading to Vienna on matters “related to their business,” told the Journal that he himself only had plans to meet with them when they returned to Washington. By this logic, Giuliani was also planning to fly to Vienna within roughly 24 hours of his business associates, but do no business with them while all three were there.

This morning, Giuliani told me he’d have to reschedule our lunch. I’ve tried to reach him since then, to discuss Parnas’s and Fruman’s arrests, among other things, to no avail. When I called at 3 p.m. ET to ask about his Vienna trip, a woman claiming to be his communications director answered the phone. I have called him more than 100 times over the past year, and this is the first time that has ever happened. She said she’d have to get back to me. As we spoke, I could hear a voice that resembled Giuliani’s shout “asshole” in the background. “Oh, sorry,” the woman told me. “He was talking to the TV.”

Why were Parnas and Fruman bound for Vienna? Why was Giuliani—if what he told me was true—planning to be in the same city a day later?

Giuliani finally sent me a text message at 4:18 p.m. ET: “I can’t comment on it at this time.”
posted by jocelmeow at 3:26 PM on October 10 [42 favorites]


Poll: Independents Move In Favor Of Impeachment Inquiry; GOP Stays Firmly Against

Isn't this a tautology, with anybody moving for impeachment ceasing, by definition, to be GOP and becoming Independent?
posted by acb at 3:29 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


I have called him [Guiliani] more than 100 times over the past year ...

Is this normal for a journalist?
posted by JackFlash at 3:38 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


But you know that when the truth is told
That you can go to prison or you can get cold
You're gonna kick off before impeachment even
Gets halfway through
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you
posted by kirkaracha at 3:43 PM on October 10 [22 favorites]


Needs more Harry Lime theme.
posted by No Robots at 3:47 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


There's a thought: the impeachment saga, a tale told in the lyrics of Billy Joel songs.

Trump, to Republican congress members:
You may be right
I may be crazy
but it just may be a lunatic you're looking for...
Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump:
Because you had to be a big shot, didn't you
You had to open up your mouth
You had to be a big shot, didn't you
All your friends were so knocked out
You had to have the last word, last night
You know what everything's about
You and to have a white hot spotlight
You had to be a big shot last night...
posted by Sublimity at 3:51 PM on October 10 [13 favorites]


god dammit I'm gonna be over here workshopping something involving the Conways and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant and by the time it's ready the thread will have moved on
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:54 PM on October 10 [22 favorites]


Send it to me by MeMail, we'll make a date and I'll sing it to you over Skype.
posted by Sublimity at 3:56 PM on October 10 [10 favorites]


Come on Zelensky, don't make me wait
Ukraine is my personal Watergate
And ya know that it's really Joe Biden I hate
Some things will need to be done
Or missiles there will be none

That's what I say....
posted by cyndigo at 3:57 PM on October 10 [15 favorites]


At least four national security officials raised alarms about Ukraine policy before and after Trump call with Ukrainian president (WaPo)
At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter.

The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president.

At the time, the officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; subsequent efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to promote Ukraine-related conspiracies; as well as signals in meetings at the White House that Trump wanted the new government in Kiev to deliver material that might be politically damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Those concerns soared in the call’s aftermath, officials said. Within minutes, senior officials including national security adviser John Bolton were being pinged by subordinates about problems with what the president had said to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Bolton and others scrambled to obtain a rough transcript that was already being “locked down” on a highly classified computer network.

“When people were listening to this in real time there were significant concerns about what was going on — alarm bells were kind of ringing,” said one person familiar with the sequence of events inside the White House, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. “People were trying to figure out what to do, how to get a grasp on the situation.”

It is unclear whether some or all of the officials who complained to Eisenberg are also the ones who later spoke to the whistleblower.
posted by katra at 3:58 PM on October 10 [17 favorites]


Ousted Ukraine envoy expected to testify in impeachment probe despite White House vow not to cooperate, congressional aides say (WaPo)
Yovanovitch and her lawyer are “on board,” according to a senior congressional aide, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. Yet House Democrats are preparing backup options to facilitate her testimony — including issuing a possible “friendly” subpoena, according to two people involved in the investigation — in case the State Department forbids her from speaking to lawmakers.
posted by katra at 4:08 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Open Skies Treaty Allowed Eyes Over Russia; Trump Wants to Give Them Up.

Now tell me Putin doesn't completely own Tiny Hands...
posted by PhineasGage at 4:23 PM on October 10 [21 favorites]


Not quite impeachment news, but we can expect the tide of false information related to it to rise:

Biden campaign wants Facebook and Twitter to remove misleading Trump ads, both refuse (The Verge)
posted by saysthis at 4:27 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]


Also, with the latest from Ofcoursehedidistan, Axios brings us the White House's latest Ron Howard narration precursor: Trump denies knowing indicted Giuliani business associates
posted by saysthis at 4:32 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Trump's former Russia aide set to give revealing testimony on Giuliani, Sondland (NBC News)
Fiona Hill’s appearance next week before Congress has stoked fear among people close to the president.
Fiona Hill, who was until recently President Donald Trump’s top aide on Russia and Europe, plans to tell Congress that Rudy Giuliani and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine, a person familiar with her expected testimony told NBC News. [...]

At the White House, Hill was not viewed as a Trump loyalist, leading those close to Trump to worry that she can’t be controlled or pressured not to reveal potentially damaging information about the president, the former senior White House official said. [...]

If Hill does testify as planned, it could strengthen House Democrats’ hand to pursue testimony from many other former White House officials who would have insight into activities central to the impeachment inquiry— including from former officials who may be disgruntled. That could include Bolton and his former aides at the National Security Council who also departed when Trump fired Bolton last month.

Current officials are employed by the executive branch, so an assertion of privilege is essentially an instruction that employees would be hard-pressed to ignore. Private citizens have no similar obligation and the assertion of privilege could run up against their First Amendment rights.
posted by katra at 4:56 PM on October 10 [15 favorites]


Giuliani dealings with associates scrutinized as part of investigation (CNN)
Rudy Giuliani's financial dealings with two associates indicted on campaign finance-related charges are under scrutiny by investigators overseeing the case, law enforcement officials briefed on the matter said.

The FBI and prosecutors in Manhattan are examining Giuliani's involvement in the broader flow of money that have become the focus of alleged violations that are at the center of the allegations against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the sources said. The sources did not say that Giuliani was a target of the investigation.
posted by katra at 5:22 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Serious question: why hasn't Rudy been arrested for FARA violations or acting as a government representative without holding such a title?
posted by odinsdream at 5:53 PM on October 10 [10 favorites]


Serious question: why hasn't Rudy been arrested for FARA violations or acting as a government representative without holding such a title?

Giuliani Hunted Corruption. Now the Legal Peril May Be His (Bloomberg/Yahoo, Sept 25, 2019)
“Any objective, non-partisan Department of Justice would already be investigating Giuliani, who has gotten on TV and admitted things that, standing alone, raise serious concerns about violations of criminal laws,” said Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor now at Pace University’s law school.

Former federal prosecutors pointed to several possible lines of criminal inquiry, based on facts that have already become public, that could entangle Giuliani: Did he try to solicit something of value for Trump -- such as information that could damage a political opponent -- from a foreign party, in violation of federal election law? Did he engage in bribery by suggesting something of value -- like military aid to Ukraine -- in exchange for a Ukrainian investigation that could involve the Bidens? Did he step into a U.S. foreign policy dispute as a private citizen, which could violate the Logan Act? Was he a co-conspirator in a broader effort to defraud the U.S. by attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election? [...]

Giuliani’s conduct could be in violation of the 1799 Logan Act, said [John Moscow, who was a senior prosecutor in the office of former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau] and [Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan and former federal prosecutor]. The law forbids U.S. citizens from engaging in any “unauthorized” negotiations with foreign governments. “We want the government to act and not people who are running around winging it,” McQuade said.

U.S. foreign-lobbying laws could also apply. Seven Democratic Senators on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to review whether Giuliani has complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.
posted by katra at 6:11 PM on October 10 [8 favorites]


why hasn't Rudy been arrested for FARA violations or acting as a government representative without holding such a title?

Off the top of my head, because the fact that he hasn't can be used to put the screws to Parnas and Fruman, among (probably many) others? Rudy ain't going anywhere.
posted by rhizome at 6:12 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Giuliani's ticket to Vienna was also one-way because woah. Like, shits probably so much worse than we know now (ie those Russian goons were up to some other shit as well) if the freaking "hero of 9/11" is now looking to flee the country. I imagine he'll just keep spilling beans on camera while trying to do the opposite (god he is so bad at spin control) until Donny finally wakes up and turns on him...which I guarantee will be ugly. And oh crap I was just at the grocery store and forgot to buy popcorn.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:27 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]


"Extortion, obstruction, and the uh, um, what's the third one there, let's see. The third crime I saw, obstruction, the uh, extortion, and let's see. I can't, the third one, sorry. Oops."

Needs Ron Paul helpfully suggesting crimes.

"Murder, Rick? Was there murder? bestiality, Rick?"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:30 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]


From katra's post above: U.S. foreign-lobbying laws could also apply. Seven Democratic Senators on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to review whether Giuliani has complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.

I always want to know who those senators are.

Mike Memoli, NBC News, Democratic Senators renew questions about Rudy Giuliani's apparent work for foreign governments, Sept. 25:
The Democratic senators who sent the letter were Dick Durbin of Illinois; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Tom Udall of New Mexico; Tammy Duckworth of Illinois; Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

They first raised concerns about whether Giuliani was in compliance with the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA, more than a year ago, but say they received no response to their requests.
I'm surprised I don't see presidential candidate and former prosecutor Kamala Harris on that list.

So, shouldn't there be some penalty or consequences when a government agency like DoJ simply fails to respond to a request from Congress for more than a year?

(Also from that story:
Separately Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, called for Giuliani to testify before the panel under oath about his interactions with Ukrainian officials and whether he was acting, as he told Fox News Tuesday night, at the request of the State Department.
Huh. I wasn't aware that a senator had called for Giuliani to testify under oath. Interesting.)
posted by kristi at 6:37 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


posted by Sublimity There's a thought: the impeachment saga, a tale told in the lyrics of Billy Joel songs.

What's the matter with the call I’m makin’?
Can’t I ask a favor from Ukraine?
Maybe I should tweet about Obama
Remember, I have a very good brain
I don’t care about your subpoenas, honey
Rudy and the Russians and a big pile of money
Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout impeachment, funny,
But it’s still fake news to me

What's the matter with the war I’m startin’?
Did the Kurds help at Normandy?
Should I ruin the economy of Turkey?
They’re just a shithole country
Nowadays I’m a very stable genius
Just ask all the girls I’ve paid to touch my penis
Alt-right, Fourth Reich, just as long as they’re white
It’s still fake news to me
posted by mattdidthat at 7:06 PM on October 10 [81 favorites]




...It’s still fake news to me

I’m ded.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 7:12 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


It doesn't matter what they say in the papers
cause it's always been the same old thing
so the truth has been axed and you can't get the facts
from a right wing propaganda meme
aimed at your average teen
posted by Sublimity at 7:17 PM on October 10 [16 favorites]


Harvard law professor and Reagan solicitor general unleashes his fury: This man terrifies me.
posted by Sublimity at 7:20 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


How about a pair of pink sidewinders
And a bright orange head of hair
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:20 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


You could really be a Seb Gorka baby
if you sold your soul and didn't care
posted by Sublimity at 7:23 PM on October 10 [8 favorites]


We're almost to the point where we can just make a We Didn't Start the Fire parody using only the names of Trump's co-conspirators.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:54 PM on October 10 [26 favorites]


[I love you all but let's maybe try and get out of a new lyrics state of mind now.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 PM on October 10 [72 favorites]


Ukraine Whistleblower May Not Testify In Person (WSJ)
Lawyers for the CIA officer whose whistleblower complaint helped ignite an impeachment inquiry into President Trump have asked Congress whether their client could submit testimony in writing instead of appearing in person, according to people familiar with the matter.

The request reflects concerns about whether the whistleblower could testify to Democrats and Republicans without revealing his identity, and fears that doing so would lead to it being publicly leaked, jeopardizing his personal safety. The intelligence committees haven't yet responded to the inquiry about potential written testimony, the people said. [...]

Negotiations between the whistleblower’s legal team and the intelligence committees over his potential testimony have played out for weeks, largely out of public view. During that time, Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked the whistleblower and those who supplied information for his complaint as treasonous, asserting they have partisan motives. [...]

Negotiations over the whistleblower’s testimony stem from fears among Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee that Republicans would quickly attempt to disclose the complainant’s identity, the people familiar with the matter said.
> Trump’s attacks fuel alarm that whistleblower protections fall short (Politico)
posted by katra at 8:05 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Before they attracted the attention of House investigators, Parnas and Fruman were known in Florida. From the Miami Herald, October 1.

He conned us from day one’: Giuliani’s Ukraine ally leaves trail of South Florida debts
Their relationship with Parnas dates back to 2010...Parnas solicited Michael Pues for a $350,000 bridge loan to help finance a movie called “Anatomy of an Assassin,” according to a lawsuit filed in 2011. Parnas even arranged a dinner with Jack Nicholson, court records state. But he never paid the money back. Five years later, a judge in New York federal court ruled that Parnas owed more than $500,000 to a Pues family trust...

“He financially ruined us,” Dianne Pues said. “Our lives have not been the same since the day we met him.”....

Parnas has been sued over everything from a small-claims debt owed to a furniture maker in Delray Beach to unpaid legal bills to a $100,000 loan issued to a natural gas firm he runs with Fruman. The plaintiff in the latter case also alleged that Parnas and Fruman “boasted” about their close relationships with major figures in the GOP.

In 2014, Parnas and his wife were evicted from a $15,000-per-month, six-bedroom house in Boca Raton, court records show. Separately, his business, Fraud Guarantee, was ordered to pay more than $26,000 to its landlord. His career as a securities broker saw him work for three brokerages that were expelled from the industry by regulators...

Fruman runs an import/export business and a boutique hotel in Odessa, Ukraine, according to a profile by Buzzfeed. He also invested in a milk-canning plant in Ukraine that went bankrupt after going nearly $25 million in debt.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:06 PM on October 10 [13 favorites]


Fraud Gaurantee??

He really hid in plain sight.
posted by orange ball at 8:14 PM on October 10 [30 favorites]


Trump aims to turn impeachment probe into campaign asset at Minneapolis rally (AP)
The rally in Minneapolis, the first since Democrats began proceedings two weeks ago to remove him from office, served as a proving ground for the president as he tries to use the impeachment inquiry to energize supporters for his 2020 campaign by casting himself — and his supporters — as victims of Democrats in the Washington swamp.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:20 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


by casting himself — and his supporters — as victims of Democrats in the Washington swamp.

Former Trump Exec Predicts Trump Will Resign Over Impeachment Threat ‘To Save Face’ (Mediaite, Oct 7, 2019)
Barbara Res, former vice president of the Trump organization, told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday that she was not surprised by the president’s angry reaction to the Ukraine scandal as it continues to unfold. She called it a typical response from Trump that matches what she saw from him when she used to head up his company’s construction projects.

“He had this notion that everything that happened that was bad was directed at him like they were after him, people were after him,” said Res. “He makes it like, not that they’re after something he might’ve done, they’re after him.”

As Res continued to speak of Trump’s narcissistic tendencies, Stelter asked her for how she thinks her former boss’ time as president will come to an end. Res’ answer: “He does a lot of things to save face…It would be very, very, very bad for him to be impeached. I don’t know that he’ll be found guilty but I don’t know that he wants to be impeached. I think that’s what this panic is about. And my gut tells me he’ll leave office, he’ll resign or make some kind of a deal, even, depending on what comes out.”
posted by katra at 8:35 PM on October 10 [10 favorites]


Giuliani dealings with associates scrutinized as part of investigation (CNN)

Giuliani’s Ukraine Team: In Search of Influence, Dirt and Money (NYT)
The president’s lawyer was paid by Lev Parnas, who with Igor Fruman worked on behalf of President Trump in Ukraine.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman with a trail of debts and lawsuits, had known Mr. Giuliani casually for years through Republican political circles. Last year, their relationship deepened when a company he helped found retained Mr. Giuliani — associates of Mr. Parnas said he told them he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars — for what Mr. Giuliani said on Thursday was business and legal advice.

Even as he worked with Mr. Parnas’s company, Fraud Guarantee, Mr. Giuliani increasingly relied on Mr. Parnas to carry out Mr. Trump’s quest for evidence in Ukraine that would undercut the legitimacy of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference on his behalf in the 2016 election and help him heading into his 2020 re-election campaign. [...] Their mission was to find people and information that could be used to undermine the special counsel’s investigation, and also to damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger to Mr. Trump. [...]

They met regularly with Mr. Giuliani, often at the Trump International hotel in Washington. And all the while, they were pursuing their own business schemes and, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday, illegally funneling campaign contributions in the United States in the service of both their political and business activities.
posted by katra at 9:43 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]


‘A great big money party’: Foreign efforts to influence Trump keep piling up (Politico)
Two Rudy Giuliani associates were indicted in the latest allegation of foreign attempts to sway Trump’s administration with secret money.
“This is something that I believe is an increasing issue,” said one Republican election lawyer, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about issues related to his work. “When we’re dealing with foreign money, pretty much everyone agrees that it’s not allowed. You’re dealing with nefarious actors who are intentionally circumventing the law.” [...]

Parnas and Fruman partnered with a powerful Washington ally, Giuliani, with whom they worked on efforts including a push to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her post. The indictment alleges Parnas and Fruman successfully agitated for Marie Yovanovitch’s removal at the behest of a Ukranian official they were working with. [...]

Illegal lobbying on behalf of former governments has also ensnared former Trump officials. Manafort and an associate, Rick Gates, were indicted after extensive foreign lobbying work and accused of filing false statements in their claims about lobbying for foreign countries, including a pro-Russian party in Ukraine. The indictment claimed Manafort laundered more than $18 million. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was also convicted of secretly lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government, after Flynn cooperated with prosecutors in the case.
posted by katra at 10:23 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


posted by Sublimity There's a thought: the impeachment saga, a tale told in the lyrics of Billy Joel songs. Okay I swear this is the last of this I tried to quit but an unstoppable force made me finish it, special thanks to Sublimity for the bridge


What's the matter with the call I’m makin’?
Can’t I ask a favor from Ukraine?
Maybe I should tweet about Obama
Remember, I have a very good brain
I don’t care about your subpoenas, honey
Rudy and the Russians and a big pile of money
Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout impeachment, funny,
But it’s still fake news to me

What's the matter with the war I’m startin’?
Did the Kurds help at Normandy?
Should I ruin the economy of Turkey?
They’re just a shithole country
Nowadays I’m a very stable genius
Just ask all the girls I’ve paid to touch my penis
Alt-right, Fourth Reich, just as long as they’re white
It’s still fake news to me

Oh, you can’t trust what’s in the papers
'Cause the truth is what I say it means
So just react to alternative facts
And 4Chan propaganda memes
Created by incels and teens

How about a cheap embroidered red hat?
And some loud Drain The Swamp chants?
Well you could really make America great
If you don’t give non-whites the chance
It’s time to own the libs like Warren and Beto
Stock up on guns and a whole lot of ammo
H&K, A-K, PPK, NRA
It’s all fake news to me

Oooh, what’s the matter with accusing Joe Biden?
That whistleblower heard too much
Must’ve been a traitor from the Deep State
Hey, it’s Hillary—Lock Her Up!
Being president is really easy, honey
You need Fox News, and Vlad’s and dad’s money
Tiny hands, orange man, hair like an orangutan’s
It’s all fake news to me
Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout impeachment, funny,
But it’s still fake news to me
posted by mattdidthat at 10:55 PM on October 10 [45 favorites]


“He makes it like, not that they’re after something he might’ve done, they’re after him.”

At this point, shouldn't there be people very much after him? We're kinda past the point of "something he's done", we might even be past the point of somethings-plural he's done, we're very much approaching an accumulation of corruption which begs the question whether or not he should be considered a person or an actual portal to hell in vaguely anthropomorphic form.

I really hope there are political figures and law enforcement who consider taking him down both a matter of institution-preserving work AND a matter of personal satisfaction.
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:05 PM on October 10 [13 favorites]


Impeach Trump, Repeatedly

In other words...

Impeach Trump, Rinse and Repeat

A tad more metafiltery, that.,
posted by y2karl at 2:30 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


“Oh, sorry,” the woman told me. “He was talking to the TV.”

I mean, that's been our unofficial national motto for the past 3 years.
posted by mike_honcho at 4:56 AM on October 11 [29 favorites]


Spending bill would avert shutdown, keep government open through Nov. 21 (WashPo 9/19/2019)

Six days after that vote Nancy made her impeachment announcement. The whistleblower revelations became public between these two dates. We know from recent experience that Trump will use a shutdown for political purposes. Last time it was about his stupid fucking wall. Maybe this time he'll try to use it to make the impeachment go away.

November 21 is six weeks away. Is that how long we have?
posted by adept256 at 5:08 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


We know from recent experience that Trump will use a shutdown for political purposes.

Bring it.

The last shutdown, over the wall, brought some of his lowest approval ratings. His numbers are shaky, and there is a slow trend upward across the electorate favoring impeachment (and removal).

I can only imagine another shutdown to derail impeachment on top of the obstruction to date will further erode his support. GOP senators will suddenly discover a love of democratic norms.
posted by MrGuilt at 5:28 AM on October 11 [8 favorites]


I'm not convinced of the "Trump will resign to save face" argument. His greed will likely overpower any such instinct and prevent him from stepping down during the height of campaign season. One of the only things he likes about being president is all the easy donor money and emoluments.

If he resigned, he'd still have a spotlight and his alt-right followers, but no working class donors, and the upper class will have no incentive to flood money into his businesses without the power of the office to provide anything useful in return. Not to mention the legal battles he'll be facing. He'll likely cling to the office until it's ripped from his short-fingered hands.
posted by p3t3 at 5:32 AM on October 11 [12 favorites]


If he were slightly less of a narcissist, he'd feign serious illness, get the sympathy points and resign under an understanding that no one is going to want to be seen coming for a frail old man. But that would require him to appear weak, and he will never be able to bring himself to do that.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:34 AM on October 11 [19 favorites]


I can see Trump logic assuming the shutdown would put a stop to the impeachment proceedings and buy him time to cover up things better.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:36 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


I'm beginning to prepare myself for Trump resigning in the face of impeachment, pardoned by Pence, and working a deal with SDNY to stay out of jail, with the help of Barr. Ugh. I mean, he'll probably throw a great deal of people under the bus who deserve it, but I'd really really like to see him in court, and in jail. But he has a lifelong history of moneyed support that has kept him out, despite hundreds of crimes.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:45 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Trump will never resign. I'll rephrase that: he'll only resign if he gets a "better offer." Well, what's better for Trump right now than being the President of the US? Probably not much. He's the kind of person who thinks he should be able to do anything he wants, and if anyone tries to stop him or tells him it's wrong, it's a failing of those other people- never himself. If you've ever worked for a person like that, you know how it is.

He will never keep himself in check. The people who are in a position to do that absolutely need to do that. They are afraid to, for some reason. Maybe they have a hard time truly believing the situation is as dire as is it, because it sounds so far-fetched, like it can't happen in America. It seems to me like the House is doing everything it can to build a huge enough case and pressure around Trump not so that he himself resigns, but so that everyone left in the government in a position to do something about it has no choice but to do it. This will require those people to not already be Trump sycophants or Russian assets, and what's left to be seen is how many of those people we even have left.
posted by wondermouse at 5:59 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


One of the arrested Giuliani guys had a company called Fraud Guarantee.
The other had a club called Mafia Rave.
I am not making this up
posted by growabrain at 6:01 AM on October 11 [42 favorites]


pardoned by Pence, and working a deal with SDNY to stay out of jail, with the help of Barr.

Er, well, there are two different entities operating out of New York here. The SDNY is a federal office, and if he's issued a blanket pardon by Pence, they have nothing on him and nobody needs to call Barr to make that happen. The State of New York, no the other hand, seems like it has a few live indictments it'd like to fire off at him, and (a) Pence has no power to pardon those, and (b) Barr has no power to make them go away.
posted by jackbishop at 6:03 AM on October 11 [8 favorites]


I don't know if this is appropriate to post in the Billy Joel thread, but it seems Sondland is going to testify after all.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:35 AM on October 11 [35 favorites]


Sondland to testify next week < Daily Beast
posted by Harry Caul at 6:36 AM on October 11


Democrats: Unlike the Mueller investigation, the Ukraine scandal is simple and easy to explain to voters.

Giuliani: Actually, I committed so many different crimes and tied them together so intricately that you'll be uncovering and untangling my web of conspiracies for months if not years.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:39 AM on October 11 [26 favorites]


Sondland is a loyalist, and while it's good he's testifying I expect very little of value from what he has to say. Unless he self-incriminates, but I doubt that happens. Pretty sure his flying back to D.C. last week for the testimony that never happened was so they could huddle and get stories straight.

Former and present ambassadors to Ukraine though...can't wait to hear from them.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:44 AM on October 11


Trump won’t resign. This is going to go to it’s logical conclusion which is he’s going to continue to call this a coup and fight until the bitter end. What that end looks like I have no idea but I can guarantee you that every institution will be in shambles by the time he’s dragged from the oval. If that even happens. Government in this country is fundamentally broken and Trump is going to take the country down with him. Not much anyone can do but stand back and watch.
posted by photoslob at 6:44 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


If he were slightly less of a narcissist, he'd feign serious illness, get the sympathy points and resign under an understanding that no one is going to want to be seen coming for a frail old man. But that would require him to appear weak, and he will never be able to bring himself to do that.

I said early on that Melania would feign an illness to let Trump resign with dignity, once he figured out how hard the job actually is. I think there are two reasons he hasn't tried that: He knows the State of New York is going to come after him hard, and he doesn't trust Pence to pardon him for the federal stuff.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Under standard circumstances, Sondland would have three choices in his testimony.

Answer truthfully to the best of his ability.
Perjure himself.
Take the fifth.

In today's environment, he may try additional choices.

Snarl and say, "Have you? Have you?" (a la Gorsuch.)
Refuse to answer on the grounds that it is a witch hunt.
Claim executive privilege.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:51 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Plus, who’d believe that he’d step down for the good of Melania?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:52 AM on October 11 [8 favorites]


Also: nobody would believe him to have sacrificed his political career for his wife's health.
posted by acb at 6:52 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Plus, who’d believe that he’d step down for the good of Melania?

Who believes anything the guy says? Of course it would be bullshit. We'd all know it was bullshit, and so would the people loudly proclaiming what a great and pure and true and valiant sacrifice it was. But they'd still proclaim it, because the only tenet of Trumpism is loyalty to Trump above all else, including objective reality.
posted by Etrigan at 6:54 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


I'm not convinced of the "Trump will resign to save face" argument. His greed will likely overpower any such instinct

Speculation about Trump resigning misses the obvious fact that holding the office of president is the only think shielding him from criminal investigation and prosecution.
posted by Gelatin at 6:59 AM on October 11 [29 favorites]


Well, he could ask for asylum in Russia.
posted by hat_eater at 7:03 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


the only thing shielding him from criminal investigation and prosecution.
He's been protected from the results of both his entire life.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:04 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Trump won't resign. He'll be shouting as the door to his cell slams shut that it was all a "rigged witch hunt," nobody in history is as innocent and very brilliant as he is, that he was betrayed by the Deep State, and that Hillary Clinton is the real criminal.
posted by Foosnark at 7:09 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


But would it serve Putin's needs to offer him sanctuary, or to leave him in America to do as much damage as possible on the way down?
posted by acb at 7:09 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


He's been protected from the results of both his entire life.

...while he was a pretentious businessman and a reality show loudmouth and before he started making life unpleasant for the rest of the country. He may have eked out an electoral college victory, but even in 2016 he lost the popularity contest by almost three million votes, and he's done nothing to endear himself to loyal Americans since -- quite the contrary.

We swept a Democratic House into office to put a check on Trump's behavior, and Democrats and loyal Americans will not be in a forgiving mood once Trump's stench is purged from office.
posted by Gelatin at 7:10 AM on October 11 [9 favorites]


He's been protected from the results of both his entire life.

In large part because the NY state government has been a corrupt mess built around a backroom deal that codified power sharing between the Democrats and Republicans. That deal has more or less been blown up, with several of the men involved - most notably Shelly Silver - winding up in jail over it. The current NY AG, Letisha James, would love nothing more than to nail Trump’s hide to the wall; and Manhattan DA Cy Vance (whose ass is in a sling of his own making) also would like an orange trophy, if only to save his own hide.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:13 AM on October 11 [24 favorites]


Trump predicts senators will quash impeachment. His allies aren’t so sure. (Politico)
It’s a prospect that may seem far-fetched. Senate Republican officials say the party still foresees an almost entirely partisan outcome in a potential impeachment trial. And Republicans — especially those up for election in 2020 — have long been afraid of losing Trump’s base if he turns on them. They’ve rarely defected from the president in large numbers for key votes.

But the landscape could shift quickly if fresh details emerge that help Democrats make their case that Trump must go, said Michael Steel, a longtime GOP operative and aide to former House Speaker John Boehner. “If the Democrats are able to make an argument that’s clear and captures the public imagination … then you start thinking more seriously about what a Senate trial could look like and whether you could get to that possibility,” Steel said of a scenario in which enough GOP senators defect to remove Trump. [...]

Caught in the spotlight, Senate Republicans are treating their comments on the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry with the utmost care, aware that the president could end their careers. Last year, Trump took down Florida Republican Adam Putnam with a tweet during the state’s gubernatorial primary, putting his weight behind the eventual winner, Ron DeSantis, who took pains to get close to Trump.
DeSantis disgorges campaign donations tied to indicted Giuliani associates (Politico)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered his political committee to turn over $50,000 to the federal government, money his campaign received last year from a shell corporation that is now at the heart of an indictment against two foreign-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

[...] The Miami Herald reported this week that Parnas was a host for two DeSantis fundraisers last year. The newspaper described one as a small event held at a “South Florida residence with fewer than 30 people attending, including the governor. The other gathering was headlined by Donald Trump Jr.”
posted by katra at 7:21 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


I keep remembering that the Watergate burglars were all from South Florida.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:24 AM on October 11 [16 favorites]


So many crazy things have happened that the future seems impossible to predict, but I tend to believe Individual 1 will not resign and will hang on until the proverbial bitter end. With state charges in New York waiting for him as soon as he's not President any more, he's going to want to put that off for as long as possible.

One issue that hasn't been discussed much here is, should the House focus only on the Ukraine scandal and issue just one article of impeachment, or should they include other things and impeach on multiple counts?

I understand the desire to move quickly, and that one simple count would be easier for the average citizen/voter to understand. But there have been so many crimes, abuses of power, and acts of corruption that it seems like it would be a bad idea to let them slide.

It doesn't have to be a "kitchen sink" thing, but IMO the Democrats should consider including:
- the Ukraine scandal (aka campaign finance crime #1, or "aid for dirt," as MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace is now calling it.)
- emoluments - specifically prohibited in the Constitution, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of violations that can be documented just by looking at the records of I-1's hotels & resorts
- hush money payments, aka campaign finance crime #2. Michael Cohen already is serving time for this, and the case is well-documented, with I-1 already named as an un-indicted co-conspirator.
- obstruction of justice - as already documented in the Mueller Report.
- obstruction of Congress - new & public instances of this are happening on daily basis (and it was one of the articles that would have been brought against Nixon, had things gotten that far.)
- misuse of emergency powers - both the highly unpopular tariffs/trade war and the stealing of money already appropriated for other purposes to fund the border wall are being implemented by using emergency powers, as invoked by I-1, when there's no actual emergency. This is a little harder to explain than the other articles, but it definitely should be impeachable.

These charges shouldn't require too much additional hearing time, and ultimately, I think having multiple grounds for impeachment does make the case stronger.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 7:27 AM on October 11 [18 favorites]


Can the Democrats line up these multiple counts, such that, if the Ukraine count gets voted forward and dies in the Senate, they load the impeachment cannon with emoluments, then obstructions, and so on?

It would take a lot of party discipline, but it would increase the pressure by giving every count media exposure. Which would make this stretch past the election.

Trump doesn't want to resign, but I doubt he has the stamina to keep this up indefinitely.

Secondly, if Trump were to look for the exits, were there any he would be willing to risk, as in, he thinks he could step down and not go to jail?

Pence would take care of federal charges with a pardon...would Trump ever think it possible he could lawyer his way out of state charges?
posted by emjaybee at 7:36 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy (WaPo)
“We’re basically getting like three new impeachable offenses a day, so it suggests that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg on what’s happening,” said Daniel Pfeiffer, a former Obama strategist who hosts “Pod Save America” and has been pushing Democrats to expand their probes.

Multiple senior Democratic officials tracking the impeachment inquiry said there is no plan to broaden their investigation to include Trump’s un­or­tho­dox request to Tillerson, which the former secretary of state rejected and considered illegal. Nor are Democrats readying a new impeachment probe of Trump’s request last week that China dig up dirt on Biden, which one official said was a public declaration so it didn’t need to be investigated.

Some Democrats, however, indicated that the strategy could change.

While Trump has blocked numerous administration officials from testifying, Tillerson, who was ousted by Trump, has been willing to participate in previous Democratic inquiries, even secretly answering questions for the House Foreign Affairs Committee last spring. Should Democrats call him to testify, he could be a fruitful witness.

Questions about next steps are expected to dominate a Friday afternoon conference call between Pelosi and members of her Democratic caucus. The discussion comes as the White House has pressured Pelosi to hold a formal House vote for an impeachment inquiry, a dare the speaker has no intention of responding to, according to senior Democrats close to the speaker — at least not now.
posted by katra at 7:37 AM on October 11 [8 favorites]


Gelatin Speculation about Trump resigning misses the obvious fact that holding the office of president is the only think shielding him from criminal investigation and prosecution.

That statement seems to be totally at odds with the entire history of America in general and specifically the history of America and rich white politicians.

Everyone seems oddly confident that somehow, this time, it will be different and that Trump will be prosecuted, but no one ever seems to be able to articulate exactly why they think it will be different which makes me suspect it's just that we really, desperately, want it to be different not that there's any reason to think it will be.

And I totally get that, I too desperately want it to be different this time. But I don't see why it will be.

I also have a suspicion that people are putting far too much faith in the idea that a Presidential pardon can't cover state crimes, all it takes is a 5-4 decision by the Republicans on the Court following a seance where they commune with the ghosts of Alexander hamilton and George Washington and determine that the original intent of the Constitution was that of course Presidential pardons cover state crimes, possibly with a Bush v Gore style codicil saying it's a one off decision that sets no precedent and can never be cited by anyone.

I don't think Trump will resign, but I don't think it's fear of prosecution that drives his urge to hold office.
posted by sotonohito at 7:38 AM on October 11 [18 favorites]


Trump lost his 2nd Circuit appeal to stop his tax returns being released.

Not sure if they've lifted the stay or if Trump is going to appeal to SCOTUS.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:52 AM on October 11 [14 favorites]


Everyone seems oddly confident that somehow, this time, it will be different and that Trump will be prosecuted, but no one ever seems to be able to articulate exactly why they think it will be different

The history of rich white guys avoiding prosecution also involves those rich white guys not even being investigated. The vast majority of white-collar crime is just flat-out ignored, not handwaved away in the courts. By the time you're at the Circuit Court level arguing that you shouldn't be prosecuted, you're already being prosecuted.

Will Donald Trump definitely die in prison for crimes conducted before 2016? Nah. But it's a lot more likely that it happens today than it was in 2015.
posted by Etrigan at 7:53 AM on October 11 [12 favorites]


Everyone seems oddly confident that somehow, this time, it will be different and that Trump will be prosecuted, but no one ever seems to be able to articulate exactly why they think it will be different

"Confident" is a bit of an overstatement. We're desperately hoping, and there are various ways to put this into words.
posted by Namlit at 7:59 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Everyone seems oddly confident that somehow, this time, it will be different and that Trump will be prosecuted, but no one ever seems to be able to articulate exactly why they think it will be different which makes me suspect it's just that we really, desperately, want it to be different not that there's any reason to think it will be.

Okay, I'll give you one - Cyrus Vance, district attorney for the Borough of Manhattan, will very likely lose his job if he doesn't prosecute Trump. This is due to his numerous failures on high profile cases, which has put him in the spotlight of reformers targeting district attorneys.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:59 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


The only way Trump resigns is if it's somehow part of a deal to protect him from any and all further consequences, which would almost certainly include ratting everyone out. It doesn't matter that it doesn't work like that; his whole deal is thinking the rules don't apply to him, because they never have. Remember that tape of him in a deposition? The second he's beat he turns obsequious and pliant.

What could bring that about? I have no idea. But if he does it he'll turn on the GOP on the way down, too, and that, THAT, will be fucking glorious.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:00 AM on October 11 [13 favorites]


I'll give you one - Cyrus Vance, district attorney for the Borough of Manhattan, will very likely lose his job if he doesn't prosecute Trump

yeah I think this is the only way, honestly: justice-by-SAW-logic. Pit them all against each other for survival, watch them tear each other to pieces.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:01 AM on October 11 [7 favorites]


Everyone seems oddly confident that somehow, this time, it will be different and that Trump will be prosecuted, but no one ever seems to be able to articulate exactly why they think it will be different

I did, and so did NoxAeternum. Democratic voters are not in a forgiving mood at all, and the situation in New York has changed to favor prosecution. Barr is corrupt, sure, but presumably there are Federal prosecutors who would be willing -- if not eager -- to bring Trump to justice for the crimes they've witnessed throughout his tenure.

And as I've said before, if Trump were so sure of his impunity, he wouldn't be working so hard to hide the evidence (such as his tax returns).
posted by Gelatin at 8:04 AM on October 11 [13 favorites]


What could bring that about?
The balance between him bargaining for protections, and his narcissistic need to avoid losing an election. The timing on impeachment will impact this I think. He'll resign before he'd lose an election. As it looks more likely he'll be impeached (or worse) and less likely he'd win reelection, I think he would resign.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:17 AM on October 11


> Government in this country is fundamentally broken and Trump is going to take the country down with him. Not much anyone can do but stand back and watch.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Trump's done a lot of damage. He'll continue to do damage to our country and the people who live here as long as he's in office. I plan on voting for the Democratic candidate in the primaries I think is most capable of cleaning up the mess he's leaving us. It won't be easy, or quick. It's easier to tear down than to build. I don't expect Trump's successor to wave a magic wand and make everything 'alright' again. But repairing and rebuilding is what we're going to have to do.

This is my country. I was born here. I live here. I can't afford to take a 'not much anyone can do' attitude. Most of us can't just fly off to someplace else if this doesn't work out.
posted by nangar at 8:34 AM on October 11 [74 favorites]


Trump lost his 2nd Circuit appeal to stop his tax returns being released.

DC Circuit (dealing with the House subpoena), not 2nd Circuit (New York law that involves his state taxes). The 2nd Circuit is not likely to rule before the end of the month.

Also, note the truly shameless bullshitting by Judge Neomi Rao, formerly a chief regulatory official for the Trump administration, in dissent. She not only says that Congress can only investigate misconduct by the president in the context of impeachment, but implies that the courts can determine the scope of impeachable offenses. She might as well have just written "President Trump, if you give me Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat I will let you get away with literally anything" and left it at that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:38 AM on October 11 [28 favorites]


She not only says that Congress can only investigate misconduct by the president in the context of impeachment

Typically Republican -- that claim presumes that the House will decide in advance they intend to impeach and then go on a fishing expedition for evidence. Which is, in typical projection, what the Republicans are accusing the Democrats of doing, but they're obviously terrified of the evidence an investigation could uncover that could lead to impeachment (and/or criminal charges) -- which is true of any investigation the House undertakes.
posted by Gelatin at 8:46 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


My understanding was that Trump can't be pardoned after impeachment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:47 AM on October 11


He can't be pardoned of impeachment.

He can certainly be pardoned for anything else he may have done, as was Nixon before him.
posted by davros42 at 8:50 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


The impeachment conviction, which would remove him from office and possibly also disallow him from seeking it again, cannot be pardoned. He can still be pardoned for the many acts uncovered during the impeachment proceedings that, lacking such pardon, would have been the basis for later criminal and civil trials.
posted by solotoro at 8:50 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


The impeachment can't be pardoned away -- that is, Pence couldn't say "I pardon Donald Trump and therefore he is the President again." That doesn't mean he can't be pardoned for other stuff, or even the stuff for which he was impeached.
posted by Etrigan at 8:51 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


I don't expect Trump's successor to wave a magic wand and make everything 'alright' again. But repairing and rebuilding is what we're going to have to do.

Flagged as fantastic.

And any Democratic successor to Trump needs to make absolutely clear that they're cleaning up a Republican mess, and do so all the time. Too often the Republicans, aided by a media more concerned with "balance" than objectivity, try to pretend that they had nothing to do with the current disaster and that difficult work done by Democrats should somehow count against them. It's why Republicans go on a tax-but-and-spending binge every time they're in charge and then insist that Democrats make hard choices to balance the budget.

We can't afford to forgive or forget until the damage done by Trump is undone, and assigning blame for malice and complicity is part of that process. Let the Republican Senators who hope they can enjoy their cushy positions if they keep their heads down sweat a little for a change.
posted by Gelatin at 8:53 AM on October 11 [22 favorites]


And any Democratic successor to Trump needs to make absolutely clear that they're cleaning up a Republican mess, and do so all the time.

IMO this was my biggest complaint about the Obama administration during the financial meltdown. He didn't have to go on the attack, but instead said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The GOP filled the vacuum with their own message and look what it got us.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:01 AM on October 11 [42 favorites]


IMO this was my biggest complaint about the Obama administration during the financial meltdown. He didn't have to go on the attack, but instead said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The GOP filled the vacuum with their own message and look what it got us.

Sometimes I wonder if Democratic politicians have bought into the Republicans' "liberal media" con as much as Republican voters and the media themselves have. That is, Republicans' responsibility for the financial crisis was so obvious, he may have expected the media to present an accurate picture, or at the very least, not allow them to air Republicans blasting Obama for bailing out the banks when the bailout was passed under Bush's watch. Their failure is in presuming many reporters consider their job as informing the American people as opposed to getting quotes from both sides and calling it a day.
posted by Gelatin at 9:05 AM on October 11 [18 favorites]


United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT decision in Trump v Mazars. (134 pages)
posted by mikelieman at 9:09 AM on October 11 [6 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window, one interesting thing about that Decision is that it validates Congress' subpoena authority.
posted by mikelieman at 9:10 AM on October 11 [7 favorites]


Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, is testifying in closed session today. Here's her opening statement.
...With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr.Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.

Finally, after being asked by the Department in early March to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine “on the next plane.” You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that too, and I tried to find out. I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term. He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause. I departed Ukraine for good this past May.

Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed.
posted by theodolite at 9:12 AM on October 11 [48 favorites]


Trump Records Must Be Given to the House, Appeals Court Says (Bloomberg/Yahoo)
“Disputes between Congress and the president are a recurring plot in our national story,” U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel wrote in the majority’s 66-page opinion. “And that is precisely what the Framers intended.” He quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said that the purpose of the separation of powers was “to save the people from autocracy.” [...]

“At bottom, this subpoena is a valid exercise of the legislative oversight authority because it seeks information important to determining the fitness of legislation to address potential problems within the Executive Branch and the electoral system,” the appeals court said. “It does not seek to determine the President’s fitness for office.”
posted by katra at 9:12 AM on October 11 [21 favorites]


[Let's drop the doomsaying and dire predictions, please. They're useless to the conversation and trust me, we've heard all variations before.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:20 AM on October 11 [40 favorites]


I just listened to a video clip with Trump repeating "the call [to Zelensky] was perfect" over and over again and it occurred to me why he would use that word. He was coached not to make an explicit quid pro quo and he managed to do what he was told, ergo the call was "perfect."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:22 AM on October 11 [28 favorites]


Barr is corrupt, sure, but presumably there are Federal prosecutors who would be willing -- if not eager -- to bring Trump to justice for the crimes they've witnessed throughout his tenure.

I don't have more experience than being in the same social place as federal law enforcement for a couple of days, but it doesn't take long to figure out that these people are serious about their shit. While there is a force of chain-of-command, I feel it's a lot to expect them to take a stance like "hey, Barr and Trump are our bosses now so it's OK to do cocaine at lunch now."
posted by rhizome at 9:26 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


He was coached not to make an explicit quid pro quo and he managed to do what he was told, ergo the call was "perfect."

My theory is that he mangled a talking point given to him by his lawyers; he was told to say the call was "perfectly legal" but his pudding brain only latched onto the 'perfect' part.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:31 AM on October 11 [18 favorites]


More Potential Whistleblowers Are Contacting Congress (Daily Beast)
The first two officials who came forward about the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine seem to be just the beginning, according to Hill sources.
Congressional investigators are currently vetting the new accounts they’ve received for credibility. Accordingly, knowledgeable sources would not discuss where in the government these new would-be whistleblowers come from, nor what they purport to have to say. [...]

One knowledgeable source said that the daily accumulation of revelations about Trump’s willingness to use U.S. foreign relations for his personal political benefit has prompted more people to approach Congress.
posted by katra at 9:39 AM on October 11 [25 favorites]


And any Democratic successor to Trump needs to make absolutely clear that they're cleaning up a Republican mess, and do so all the time.

Also: preserve the ICE detention facilities as a monument to how evil can happen here and make it a requirement for all American schoolchildren to visit them in a tour group, to inoculate future generations against complacency at the potential of evil in the here and now. (That approach seems to have worked in Germany.)
posted by acb at 9:43 AM on October 11 [25 favorites]


coached not to make an explicit quid pro quo
mangled a talking point

I think the here-visible overall methodology for finding safer formulations, which is to take away context, is something he must have trained from the day of his first foray into his mum's pantry (symbolically spoken). I doubt whether he needs any coaching in this skill at this point.
posted by Namlit at 9:46 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


The Senate is likelier to remove Trump after impeachment than you think (David Priess, WaPo Perspective)
The history of past acquittals isn’t as helpful to Trump as naysayers believe
While getting rid of the president this way remains far from certain, it’s more likely than most observers will admit. And it’s becoming a stronger possibility day by day as Trump’s foreign policy stumbles remind GOP senators that speaking out against the president doesn’t have to be political suicide. [...]

Political momentum has odd properties. When tides turn, they often turn quickly and harshly. While the basic math still points to a Senate acquittal, this week nevertheless brings to mind Winston Churchill’s words after the British victory at El Alamein in 1942: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
posted by katra at 9:50 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Giuliani dealings with associates scrutinized as part of investigation (CNN)

ABC News confirms: Rudy Giuliani's relationship with arrested men is subject of criminal investigation: Sources
The business relationship between President Donald Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the men charged Thursday in a campaign finance scheme is a subject of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter. [...] The investigation is being conducted by the FBI's New York field office and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the same U.S. Attorney's office Giuliani ran before he became mayor of New York.
posted by katra at 10:10 AM on October 11 [16 favorites]


Somebody should set up a website named hasrudygiulianibeenarrested.com, which shows either “Not yet” or “Yes” followed by details of his arrest, including charges, pleas and sentences as they come in.
posted by acb at 10:30 AM on October 11 [13 favorites]


The investigation is being conducted by the FBI's New York field office and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the same U.S. Attorney's office Giuliani ran before he became mayor of New York.

But also the same New York FBI office that leaked anti-Hillary info to Guiliani a week before the election.
posted by JackFlash at 10:38 AM on October 11 [7 favorites]


The point being it's been 30 years since Guiliani worked in the US attorneys district office. It is not the same people. On the other hand, the New York FBI is much the same as the day of the election three years ago
posted by JackFlash at 10:56 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Atom Eyes: he was told to say the call was "perfectly legal" but his pudding brain only latched onto the 'perfect' part.

That seems likely. The signature part of his administration, the wall, was basically a memory aid. I'm sure a lot of what he harps on originated as a dumbed-down way for him to address an issue.

katra: More Potential Whistleblowers Are Contacting Congress

One of the things I have been thinking over the past few days: there are plenty of folks in the intelligent, law enforcement, and diplomacy communities who are aware of shady stuff he's done. Basically, they waited until he did something that was a more black-and-white thing (Ukraine), and someone to go first. As more whistleblowers appear and support for impeachment grows, more will appear, confirming what has been said and bringing other dealings to light.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:57 AM on October 11 [14 favorites]


Somebody should set up a website named hasrudygiulianibeenarrested.com

I'd prefer a modular webservice that provided that information for all administration members.

You could call it an ArRESTful API and serve it from SOAP.THESWAMP.ORG
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:10 AM on October 11 [16 favorites]


As more whistleblowers appear and support for impeachment grows, more will appear, confirming what has been said and bringing other dealings to light.

Disclosures suggest Trump’s White House politicized pretty much everything — and there are lots of witnesses (WaPo)
The White House served notice this week that it would not cooperate with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry in any way. And we’re starting to learn perhaps why.

Disclosures on Thursday suggest a White House that took very little care to separate official business from political and personal advantage and often circumvented established channels to benefit President Trump.

This isn’t exactly a revelation, but the speed of the new disclosures and the brazenness of the actions suggest there are plenty of people who bore witness to this and who could speak to it, if willing and/or allowed. [...] there seems to be a quickly gathering critical mass here, and there figure to be many people who saw or heard about things being handled in a suspicious manner. The growing leaks about these things — including another Post report Thursday that at least four national security officials raised concerns about the Ukraine situation before and immediately after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky — indicate there’s plenty to be uncovered.
posted by katra at 11:15 AM on October 11 [15 favorites]


Disclosures suggest Trump’s White House politicized pretty much everything

I'd like to see a clearer separation in discussion of politics and partisanship. Everything the White House and its occupant do is political, but what Trump is doing is upping the partisan-ness of it by tying everything to "This has to be good for Republicans generally and Trump specifically."
posted by Etrigan at 11:32 AM on October 11 [26 favorites]


You could call it an ArRESTful API and serve it from SOAP.THESWAMP.ORG

Or perhaps a deck of cards, like the one the Bush administration had for Saddam Hussein's lieutenants, only in this case most of them would be jokers and low-value cards.
posted by acb at 11:57 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Are Fox News and rightwing news making plans for a post-Trump future? (Guardian)
It’s tempting to frame Fox News as playing a subservient roll to the president, but in truth it’s always been more of a symbiotic partnership, with the popularity of one bolstering the other and vice versa. As fractures within the Fox network have grown, and many of their news anchors have become more stridently critical of Trump following the revelations of the impeachment inquiry, it may well be that Fox News, and other conservative media, are starting to wonder if it might be wise to make plans for a post-Trump future.

Outside of Fox News, another arbiter of the prevailing political winds on the right has long been Matt Drudge, whose website is a major driver of traffic to rightwing news sources. As CNN noted, Drudge has become particularly aggressive in covering news of the impeachment inquiry of late, including giving prominence to stories about Fox News personalities like Andrew Napolitano – who called Trump’s actions “criminal and impeachable” and Shepard Smith’s suggestion Trump may have broken the law.

Even Tucker Carlson took to the pages of the website he founded, The Daily Caller, to criticize Trump for pressuring a foreign leader for his own personal political gain this week. There is “no way to spin this as a good idea,” he wrote. Carlson remains a staunch supporter of Trump on his Fox News program, but here, he’s hedging his bets. [...]

Previous reports of the demise of the Trump Fox marriage may have been greatly exaggerated, but there does seem to be something different this time around. [...] For all their manifold faults, Fox News as an institution is nothing if not savvy arbiters of the shifting political winds.

[...] How it will be received by the audience remains to be seen, but the existence of the conservative electorate and ratings do not rest wholly on the success of one man.
posted by katra at 11:57 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Guardian: The Democratic chairmen of the committees leading the impeachment inquiry said that the White House had directed the state department to block Marie Yovanovitch from testifying. [...]
Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade)

Of NOTE: Dems for months hoped Don McGahn and other witnesses in the Mueller probe would do exactly this: comply with their subpoenas even after the WH said not to.

Yovanovitch is the FIRST to follow this path. W/Sondland around the corner next week, she may not be the last. https://t.co/c56adu23d3
October 11, 2019
The signature part of his administration, the wall, was basically a memory aid. I'm sure a lot of what he harps on originated as a dumbed-down way for him to address an issue.

Guardian: The news will not stop coming today. A federal court has just ruled that Trump violated the law by declaring a national emergency at the US-Mexico border to get his wall built.
posted by katra at 12:21 PM on October 11 [40 favorites]


Even Tucker Carlson took to the pages of the website he founded, The Daily Caller, to criticize Trump for pressuring a foreign leader for his own personal political gain this week. There is “no way to spin this as a good idea,” he wrote. Carlson remains a staunch supporter of Trump on his Fox News program, but here, he’s hedging his bets. [...]

I predicted Republicans would try to pretend that they were never all in for Trump in order to avoid being tagged with the stench that he spewed all over their Party.

Democrats and loyal Americans must not be fooled. Maybe some can get credit if they choose to actively and visibly oppose Trump -- but that'll mean voting against him and telling his supporters the truths they don't want to hear. So far, we've seen precious little of that kind of courage, and until then, Republicans remain complicit and willingly so.
posted by Gelatin at 12:25 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


The cover of next week's New York Magazine is just peachy.
posted by monospace at 12:29 PM on October 11 [13 favorites]


I've got a feeling Guiliani is going to come to regret this video at the Trump Hotel.
posted by JackFlash at 12:43 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


One of the things I have been thinking over the past few days: there are plenty of folks in the intelligent, law enforcement, and diplomacy communities who are aware of shady stuff he's done. Basically, they waited until he did something that was a more black-and-white thing (Ukraine), and someone to go first. As more whistleblowers appear and support for impeachment grows, more will appear, confirming what has been said and bringing other dealings to light.

A significant bulk of this will even just be simple CYA behavior. If you were involved in criminal wrongdoing, had knowledge of it, or even were just in the vicinity of it you could be looking at huge repercussions. Even just simply from legal fees if you get pulled into the house investigation.

People are going to be looking to get out in front of this before their lives, reputations or finances are destroyed.

The dam isn't even close to bursting but when it does....

Previous Republican presidents who engaged in shenanigans inspired loyalty among a lot of hardcore traditional and career professional republicans. This one?
posted by srboisvert at 12:46 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Democrats and loyal Americans must not be fooled.

Your phrasing suggests that these are two different groups of people. Elected officials who are members of the Democratic party are most definitely the people behaving as Americans who truly believe the principles elucidated by our Constitution right now. (I think it's important not to otherize--even unintentionally--those representatives who are trying to do right by the people.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:55 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Your phrasing suggests that these are two different groups of people.

The phrasing "Democrats and loyal Americans" is meant to suggest that Republican tribalism means they are loyal to party, not country.
posted by Gelatin at 1:04 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


They are ALL going to pivot away from Trump and try to rewrite the past and gaslight the rest of us. The entire 27%. From Tucker Carlson all the way down to your racist uncle, they will all claim that they meant for something else to happen, not this train wreck, and that Trump sold them out in some way. After a while, they will all claim that they knew he was terrible, but nobody would listen.
posted by Horkus at 1:25 PM on October 11 [34 favorites]


That cover makes me want to eat a lot of peaches.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:39 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


I listened to Preet Bharara interview George Conway yesterday. Conway published an article in the Atlantic detailing his scathing analysis of trump's mental condition and character. He also (reluctantly by his account) voted for Trump. I had the infuriating feeling of 'NOW you're convinced of all the things we were saying two years ago and you're presenting it like it's your discovery??'
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:40 PM on October 11 [14 favorites]


George Conway is quite awful, but right now he's also quite useful.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:44 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


They are ALL going to pivot away from Trump and try to rewrite the past and gaslight the rest of us. The entire 27%. From Tucker Carlson all the way down to your racist uncle, they will all claim that they meant for something else to happen, not this train wreck, and that Trump sold them out in some way. After a while, they will all claim that they knew he was terrible, but nobody would listen.

This is exactly what happened with Bush. Bush had something like 80 percent popularity, and being the least bit skeptical got you labelled a terrorist sympathizer and a traitor, which is a strange thing to be called on a college campus in the ass end of nowhere. Later, when Bush was down to like, 25 percent popularity, you couldn't find anyone who'd ever been on his side.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:47 PM on October 11 [31 favorites]


Fruman runs an import/export business and a boutique hotel in Odessa, Ukraine, according to a profile by Buzzfeed. He also invested in a milk-canning plant in Ukraine that went bankrupt after going nearly $25 million in debt.

From later in the same article:
While Parnas has a long trail of lawsuits, less is known about Fruman. However, a lengthy court docket shows a messy divorce from model Yelyzaveta Naumova. She did not respond to phone calls.
Divorce records are often sealed, but their separation has been before the courts since December 2017. Fruman sought several orders for drug testing on his wife, and she sought via subpoena details of his finances and bank accounts. In addition to fighting over custody, the couple was fighting over a Collins Avenue luxury condo with a $3 million mortgage.
Among those receiving subpoenas were Oleksandr Kurinnyi, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur.


Ok, so I was going to post this last night and draw the conclusion of import/export business in South Florida>Odessa hotel>probable money-laundering bankruptcy>model wife>shady finances>cryptocurrency = the import/export business probably imports teenagers, but figured it was such wild speculation that it would be taken down immediately....but yeah 'Mafia Rave' nightclub for models (mafia rave Ukrainian fashion show linked in the tweet...also it may be a modelling agency too) yep...there's an Epstein connection here, there's gotta be. If so, it would go a looong way in explaining Rudy's undying loyalty to dear leader. It may be total speculation, but I'm going to dig into it and see what I find.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:01 PM on October 11 [24 favorites]


How is he useful, mcstayinskool?

George Conway has a very long history as an extremely conservative player in the D.C. circuit. He's in the Federalist Society, and was a key part of pushing for Brett Kavanaugh on to SCOTUS. He's the husband of one of the most shameless, soulless people of this travesty of an administration. He sucks.

Given that, if George Conway writes a big article about how the president* is mentally unfit to be President, that's useful if it changes some "independent" minds. He's been beating this drum for a long time now, but never this loudly. I don't really care if he's two years late in diagnosing the malignant narcissism and then taking credit for it if it helps, in any small way, change public opinion.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:14 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


[Folks, the Shep Smith story needs to be in its own thread. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:20 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


he's two years late in diagnosing the malignant narcissism and then taking credit for it if it helps, in any small way, change public opinion.

Just how is he supposed to change the opinion of the public if he can't even change the opinion of his own spouse. Seems his powers of persuasion are severely limited.
posted by JackFlash at 2:28 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Conway is there to run cover for his wife. Trump has fired people for way less an indiscretion than their spouse calling him mentally unfit in an op-ed.
posted by PenDevil at 2:28 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Seems his powers of persuasion are severely limited.

You know that. I know that. Not everyone knows that.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:35 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Consider How Paul Manafort's Fate May Have Affected Marie Yovanovitch (Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel)
When she asked Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan why she had been withdrawn with almost no notice, he told her Trump had been pressuring State to do so since Summer 2018. [...] It is true that these events would have shortly followed the first efforts from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to cultivate Trump and his “free” lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whom Trump “hired” (for free) in April.

At almost precisely that time, in April 2018, Ukraine stopped cooperating with Mueller on the Manafort prosecution, possibly in response to the approval of an export license for Javelin missiles, one of the same things Trump used again this summer to extort Ukraine.

Nevertheless, Trump’s efforts to fire Yovanovitch took place even while — in spite of Ukraine’s halt to their cooperation — things started going south for the President’s former campaign manager. [...] Throughout that period, Trump expressed real worry that Manafort would really flip on him.

As I will show, virtually everything we know about Manafort’s purported cooperation effort connects, in some way, to this Ukraine affair. Plus, we know that Rudy Giuliani was consulting with Manafort as he pursued his schemes. And Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing — the same one coordinating on these issues with Rudy — represented Parnas and Fruman in their EDVA appearance yesterday.

This Ukraine story is nothing more than the continuation of the Russian story, and much of it goes through Paul Manafort. Thus, it’s not surprising that as it looked increasingly likely that Manafort would pay for his crimes, and might implicate Trump in them, Trump tried to shut down one area of pressure.

Parnas and Fruman are likely just facilitators to make that happen.
posted by katra at 2:49 PM on October 11 [16 favorites]


This is exactly what happened with Bush. Bush had something like 80 percent popularity, and being the least bit skeptical got you labelled a terrorist sympathizer and a traitor, which is a strange thing to be called on a college campus in the ass end of nowhere. Later, when Bush was down to like, 25 percent popularity, you couldn't find anyone who'd ever been on his side.

Except now there are social media receipts. Which means will probably double down harder than they ever have before in history.
posted by srboisvert at 2:53 PM on October 11 [7 favorites]


Maybe. The prediction has often been that they will have to double down because of the massive ego investment that they've made. But I think that underestimates how SHAMELESS they are. When the tide turns on Trump, they'll turn with it. They'll just say, "I didn't mean it like that"/"I was being ironic"/"you misunderstood"/"you didn't really think I meant that literally, did you?"/"you're crazy". Probably all in one breath.

As soon as it's clear that they aren't getting away with taking the country for their right-wing fascist death cult they will back away so fast it will leave the rest of us wondering if we imagined it.

Note to future self: we didn't.
posted by Horkus at 3:09 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


[Folks, the Shep Smith story needs to be in its own thread. ]

Shep Smith thread.

posted by ZeusHumms at 3:21 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


This Ukraine story is nothing more than the continuation of the Russian story, and much of it goes through Paul Manafort.

And the Turkey story goes through Michael Flynn.

And the Russia story goes through Michael Cohen.

It's curious how all of Trump's foreign policies seem to be tied up with convicted felons.
posted by JackFlash at 3:38 PM on October 11 [23 favorites]


Indicted Giuliani associate attended private ‘16 election night party for ‘friend’ Trump (Politico)
Lev Parnas' relationship with the president might have begun years earlier than previously reported.
Donald Trump tried to distance himself from the latest scandal that threatens his presidency on Thursday by saying he didn’t know either of the foreign-born Rudy Giuliani associates that his own Justice Department had just indicted for alleged campaign finance violations.

But that’s not what one of the men said three years ago — while attending Trump’s invite-only 2016 election night party in New York. [...] Parnas arrived at Trump’s November 2016 election night party, which was held in a ballroom at the Midtown Hilton, with two other men in suits and their heavily made-up wives, according to a forgotten but newly relevant dispatch from the event published at the time in Le Figaro, France’s oldest daily newspaper. [...]

Parnas posted a photo of himself with Trump at the White House on May 1, 2018, with a caption describing an “incredible dinner and even better conversation,” according to a screenshot captured by The Campaign Legal Center. Another picture Parnas posted from May 21, 2018, shows him with Fruman and Donald Trump Jr. in Beverly Hills, with the caption “Power Breakfast!!!”
> The Miami Herald reported this week that Parnas was a host for two DeSantis fundraisers last year. The newspaper described one as a small event held at a “South Florida residence with fewer than 30 people attending, including the governor. The other gathering was headlined by Donald Trump Jr.”

Miami Herald: "In June of 2018, they gave the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee $50,000 through a company called Global Energy Producers. They made the contribution one day before Trump endorsed DeSantis for Florida governor." The Miami Herald also reports: "In the spring of 2018, the duo lobbied at least one member of Congress, Carlos Curbelo, now a former Republican from Florida, on marijuana issues. “They stood out a little bit. They had an air of flamboyance to them,” Curbelo said Thursday on MSNBC, adding that they boasted of White House ties and being “frequent guests at Mar-a-Lago.” Though President Trump said Thursday he did not know them, photos have circulated widely showing the men with Trump and Giuliani."
posted by katra at 4:00 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani is still Trump's attorney but won't deal with Ukraine matters, source says (CNN)
Earlier on Friday, Trump wouldn't say whether Giuliani was still his personal attorney. "Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He's a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yeah, sure," he said.

When asked later by CNN if he was still Trump's attorney, Giuliani responded, "Yes." He added, "There are no Ukraine issues. I finished that in March. I'm still representing him." [...]

There are growing concerns in Trump's orbit that Giuliani is increasingly becoming a political and potentially legal liability, even before two of his clients were arrested. These aides have told Trump that Giuliani was only damaging his defense -- and after Thursday's arrests, Trump has raised his own questions privately about Giuliani's culpability, according to people familiar with his concerns.
posted by katra at 4:32 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Trump has raised his own questions privately about Giuliani's culpability, according to people familiar with his concerns.

Keep an eye out for the bus, Rudy.
posted by JackFlash at 4:41 PM on October 11 [22 favorites]


Keep an eye out for the bus, Rudy.

The one solitary upside of the Trump administration is that we get to see the worst people in the world be abused by the worst boss in the world.
posted by Sauce Trough at 4:48 PM on October 11 [60 favorites]


White House accidentally sends Ukraine talking points to Democrats again:

"The White House accidentally sent Democrats a list of talking points related to ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s Friday House deposition, two sources with knowledge of the email told The Hill, the second time in a month the administration has sent its Ukraine talking points to Democrats.

The email included guidance for Republicans seeking to defend the president from potentially damaging witness testimony from an ambassador who was removed from her post in May under controversial circumstances.

In copies of the guidance shared with The Hill, the White House encouraged Republicans to adopt a series of messages designed to turn the tables back on Democrats, including attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) handling of the investigation."
posted by soundguy99 at 4:55 PM on October 11 [33 favorites]


Indicted Giuliani associate worked on behalf of Ukrainian oligarch Firtash (Reuters)
Lev Parnas, one of the two associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, served as a translator for lawyers representing oligarch Dmytro Firtash. [...] Both men had worked in an unspecified capacity for Firtash before Parnas joined the Ukrainian’s legal team, according to a person familiar with the Florida men’s business dealings with Firtash.

The Floridians’ connection to indicted oligarch Firtash injects an intriguing new character into the rapidly unfolding drama surrounding the effort to impeach Trump. [...]

Firtash, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest businessmen, is battling extradition by U.S. authorities on bribery charges from Vienna, where he has lived for five years. Federal prosecutors in Illinois said in court papers in 2017 that Firtash was an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. He was indicted in 2013 and charged with bribing Indian officials for access to titanium mines. Firtash has denied any wrongdoing.

Firtash was “financing” the activities of Parnas and Fruman, the source familiar with their business dealings said. The source did not detail their specific work for the oligarch or how much money he had paid them and over what period.
posted by katra at 4:58 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Keep an eye out for the bus, Rudy.

Asked and answered.

Rudy is unaware of any large conveyance approaching from a direction to which he may be thrust.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:02 PM on October 11 [19 favorites]


Rachel Maddow speculates about those tickets to Vienna; there's someone who was previously one of the major Russian oligarchs working in Ukraine, Dmytro Firtash, who happens to be under house arrest in Vienna.

Maddow just released a book last week, primarily about the oil industry and natural gas and corruption, and Russia and Ukraine get a lot of pagetime, and it has a lot of good background for the current ........... mess. She seems like one of the few journalists who's really up to speed on this whole thing.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 5:42 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Rudy is indeed a criminal lawyer.
posted by benzenedream at 5:45 PM on October 11 [17 favorites]


NYT, Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

Mr. Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because he said he was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, when he collected the information on Ms. Yovanovitch and the others and relayed it to the American government and the news media.

The lobbying disclosure law contains an exemption for legal work, and Mr. Giuliani said his efforts to unearth information and push both for investigations in Ukraine and for news coverage of his findings originated with his defense of Mr. Trump in the special counsel’s investigation.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:01 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president
Yeah, I don't think this president could survive his personal lawyer going to jail for breaking campaign finance laws and then conspiring to cover it up.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:34 PM on October 11 [27 favorites]


@nycsouthpaw Retweeted @jonallendc This is the president’s lawyer saying the president directed him to engage in the scheme at the heart of the impeachment. Just to be clear. From NYT. https://nyti.ms/2MzIxwD
posted by katra at 7:47 PM on October 11 [17 favorites]


RE: the comments upthread, here’s the story in question:

Unfit for Office – Donald Trump’s narcissism makes it impossible for him to carry out the duties of the presidency in the way the Constitution requires, The Atlantic, George Conway, October 3, 2019.

The primary goal now is to get Trump removed from office before he does any further damage to the United States or the world. That may will mean allying with strange bedfellows (at least temporarily). After that’s done, both sides can get back to haggling over everything else.
posted by cenoxo at 7:57 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Everyone seems oddly confident that somehow, this time, it will be different and that Trump will be prosecuted, but no one ever seems to be able to articulate exactly why they think it will be different.

Trump after Mueller Report: TOTALLY EXONERATED. NO COLLUSION! FAKE NEWS!
Trump after Ukraine Report: DAMN RIGHT I DID IT! LAWS DON'T APPLY TO ME!

Trump is impeaching himself. He's practically forcing Democrats and Republicans alike to impeach him against their will.
posted by xammerboy at 8:56 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Hypothetically, if the acting secretary for the DHS were to have stepped down tonight, that seems like it might be relevant to the disintegration of a presidential administration facing impeachment

in theory All Hands Abandon Ship (Picard, ST:TNG)

Congress might be able to foil the White House’s stonewalling (Harry Litman, WaPo Opinion)
[...] Consider, too, a number of former senior officials who are in the wings as possible dangerous wild-card witnesses: former national security adviser John Bolton, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson (whom Trump tried to persuade to free a Giuliani client being prosecuted for allegedly violating Iran sanctions) [...]
posted by katra at 8:57 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Trump is impeaching himself. He's practically forcing Democrats and Republicans alike to impeach him against their will.

The Impeachable Tweets (Tom Nichols, Atlantic)
Trump’s admissions on social media alone provide enough material for Congress to remove him.
From abuse of power to witness intimidation, from attempts to benefit from foreign payments—emoluments, one might call them—to a betrayal of his oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, Trump’s tweets and public outbursts offer more than enough material to draw up multiple articles of impeachment. [...]

Trump and nuance are complete strangers to each other, but that didn’t stop the president’s enablers from claiming that Trump was kidding, that he had to be kidding, because obviously, any president with a lick of sense wouldn’t incriminate himself. Trump’s courtiers argued, in effect, that it would indeed be a gross abuse of power for the president to ask China to investigate Biden, and therefore the president could not possibly have been asking China to investigate Biden. QED.

But what about witness intimidation, or violations of federal law that’s meant to protect whistle-blowers? How about inciting violence against the constitutional order of the United States itself? Only a fool would admit to such offenses, or even hint at thinking about committing them. And yet Trump has admitted to all of these things.

The logical conclusion is not that Trump is innocent, but that Trump is a fool.
posted by katra at 9:04 PM on October 11 [17 favorites]


Krugman/NYTimes: Luckily, Trump Is an Unstable Non-Genius
I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets (“my great and unmatched wisdom”; the Kurds weren’t there on D-Day) keep sounding loonier.

He is, however, lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.

The news item that got me thinking along these lines was, oddly, the latest budget review from the Congressional Budget Office, projecting a fiscal 2019 deficit of almost a trillion dollars — up by more than $300 billion from the deficit Trump inherited.

Never mind the clear demonstration that the G.O.P.’s Obama-era hyperventilating about deficits was completely hypocritical. The more important point is that $300 billion is a lot of money, and it should have been enough to buy Trump a lot of political gain.
posted by mumimor at 11:23 PM on October 11 [17 favorites]


Not quite sure if this is the right thread to post this, but here’s an interview with Mike Pompeo done by Nancy Amons at local Nashville-area tv station (WSMV).

Scroll down for the full, unedited seven minute interview. Well worth watching. He clearly didn’t know what he was in for (so pissed). Very well done.

(Hat tip to Rachel Maddow’s Twitter feed).
posted by AwkwardPause at 12:35 AM on October 12 [14 favorites]


Is there a link for non-us located folks? That one blocks me from UK.
posted by affectionateborg at 3:48 AM on October 12


Yes, you can find it on youtube
posted by mumimor at 4:20 AM on October 12 [7 favorites]


I wonder how long Pompeo will stay on. He is a hard right Republican, with all that entails. But he doesn't seem like someone who would find joy in the unbridled criminality of the Trump family.
posted by mumimor at 5:45 AM on October 12


I'm waiting for the headline "Last Days of Pompeo."

It was a dark and stormy night...
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:25 AM on October 12 [16 favorites]


Meh, the inner core of Trumpworld is now in the “hang together or hang separately” phase. Pompeo has nowhere to go.
posted by spitbull at 6:25 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


He will hang on until it is completely unavoidable to let go, at which point he will shake his head ruefully and note to anyone who will listen how he had Serious Concerns about Trump's erratic nature and decisions all along.

He will have lots of company.
posted by delfin at 7:33 AM on October 12 [8 favorites]


To steal from Twitter, don't be surprised if the White House thanksgiving turkeys this year are named Donald John Trump and Rudolph William Louis Giuliani.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:01 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


Starting about 5:03 in Nancy Amon's YT interview with Pompeo, she simply asks if he met with Giuliani during the February 2019 Warsaw Conference. He pauses for a moment, then parries with newspeak blather instead of directly answering her question.

It's no big secret that Rudy was at the same conference (and gave a presentation: As Giuliani Calls for Regime Change in Iran, Netanyahu Raises the Specter of “War”, The Intercept, Robert Mackey, February 13, 2019), as was VP Mike Pence (front row, left), and Jared Kushner. It's a very small assumption to conclude that Trump survivors-thus-far Pompeo, Pence, and Giuliani met at some point, and probably reviewed his presentation.

Perhaps Pompeo doesn't want to reinforce the idea that Minister without Portfolio Rudy Giuliani works with the State Department to represent U.S. interests internationally.
posted by cenoxo at 8:07 AM on October 12 [7 favorites]


Lutsenko is unnamed Ukrainian who led plot to oust Yovanovitch, says official (NBC News)
Lutsenko is the Ukrainian official who prosecutors say urged 2 Giuliani associates to push for the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador.
"They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests, but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official ⁠— a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine," Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a Thursday news conference. [...]

Federal prosecutors didn't detail in the indictment or at a press conference why the unnamed Ukrainian official or officials allegedly urged Parnas and Fruman to scheme to push out Yovanovitch. But two former U.S. officials said Lutsenko had sharp disagreements with Yovanovitch over his handling of corruption cases, and was also seeking to curry favor with the Trump administration.

Yovanovitch's ouster is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, who accuse President Donald Trump of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation of Joe Biden, his political rival, and Biden's son. [...] When approached by Giuliani and his associates, Parnas and Fruman, Lutsenko was facing an uncertain political future. The Giuliani team saw U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch as an obstacle to their objectives — digging up derogatory information on former vice president Biden and smoothing the way for a possible natural gas deal in Ukraine, former officials said. [...]

Lutsenko told NBC News last month that he's known Giuliani for "many years" and met with him while vacationing in New York. Lutsenko said he counted Giuliani as a friend and has spoken to him "maybe 10 times." Lutsenko said they discussed former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter, and talked "about our system, about some of our law enforcement divisions and possibilities to cooperate."
posted by katra at 8:17 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump’s real secretary of state (Lloyd Green, Guardian Opinion)
From the looks of things, Rudy Giuliani has been the real secretary of state from Day One of the Trump administration. From Ukraine to Turkey to Iran to Foggy Bottom, Giuliani has left his mark. [...] Along with supreme court justice, secretary of state was the job Rudy coveted, and it was the job Trump wanted to give him but didn’t or couldn’t, according to Michael Wolff’s 2018 blockbuster, Fire & Fury [...]

But Giuliani is learning, as others have before, there is no brass ring when it comes to Trump. Giuliani wanted to be tapped as secretary of state, and it looks like he got more than he bargained for. Globetrotting has begotten congressional scrutiny and the media’s glare.

Once remembered as a face of courage amid the ruins of 9/11, Giuliani has now been forced to lawyer up as the prospect of impeachment tightens it grip around Trump and his minions. As the saying goes, answered prayers are the most dangerous.
posted by katra at 8:47 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at Iranian opposition rally in Warsaw (YT), February 13, 2019. "My government..." he says.
• In 2018, he spoke at a MEK rally in Paris: Rudy Giuliani calls for Iran regime change at rally linked to extreme group, The Guardian, June 30, 2018.
• From The American Conservative, Daniel Larison, July 14, 2019: Giuliani’s Cuckoo Praise for the MEK reports on Rudy's appearance at a MEK rally in Albania.

Quite a bit more about MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq) at Wikipedia.
posted by cenoxo at 9:15 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


The Impeachment Loophole No One’s Talking About
The Constitution doesn’t indicate that removal from office requires two-thirds of the Senate. It requires two-thirds of senators present for the proceedings.
...
There’s also a more stark scenario. Recently, former Senator Jeff Flake speculated that at least 30 Republican senators would cast their vote for impeachment against Trump—but only if it were held on a secret ballot. (Flake went further, suggesting the number might be as high as 35.)

But suppose those 30 senators were seeking a way, as Flake suggested, to remove Trump while avoiding the rage of his base. They might boycott the proceedings—or, when the big day of the vote arrived, mysteriously not show up. With 70 members now present, the number of senators required to convict Trump is no longer 67. It’s 47: exactly the number of seats Democrats and independents currently hold in the Senate.
Trumpum delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 9:42 AM on October 12 [56 favorites]


That would be a ninja-level move, though - I would truly fear civil war in this country if a partisan, mathematical minority of the Senate removed Tr*mp.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:10 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


Anatomy of the phone call now imperiling Trump’s presidency (AP)
One individual with firsthand knowledge of how the Trump calls with foreign leaders are handled said the president “hates” such “pre-briefs” and frequently has refused to do them. Trump doesn’t like written background materials either, preferring to handle the calls himself, often in the morning from the residence. Occasionally, while on the phone with foreign heads of state, Trump has handed the receiver to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, so she can talk with the leader, according to this individual.

The person said a six-page pre-brief with attachments was once prepared for Trump before a call to a foreign leader. But that turned out to be too long, as did a single-page version. Preparing pre-brief note cards that offered about three talking points for Trump to make on a call was the norm, according to this person, who feared retribution for describing this process and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The individual said that when Trump is done with the note cards, he often rips them up and tosses them in a burn bag. Staff who handle records have had to retrieve the burn bags from the residence, put the papers out on a table and tape them back together to preserve them as official presidential records, this person said.
posted by katra at 10:15 AM on October 12 [35 favorites]


I don't have the same fear of actual civil war. Yes we will continue to have assholes with guns doing shootings till we get our shit together on guns. But a whole lot of Trump supporters are just average people, not trained military types that could form any kind of threat to the elected government. They will talk big and yell a lot but they're not going to put> their own asses in the line of fire.

We don't need to handicap possible solutions to this crisis out of this fear, is what I'm saying.
posted by emjaybee at 10:17 AM on October 12 [33 favorites]


They might boycott the proceedings—or, when the big day of the vote arrived, mysteriously not show up

I would be very surprised if the base didn't treat this as a vote for impeachment.
posted by bardophile at 10:25 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


Looks like Trump himself drafted that ridiculous 8-page letter to the House, complaining about how unfair the impeachment hearings were. What a surprise.
That Trump has leaned so heavily on his own intuition in crafting the legal response to his impeachment crisis has come as no surprise to those who know him. The president has—however misguidedly—long thought of himself as more keen and cunning than his advisers.
posted by suelac at 10:46 AM on October 12 [11 favorites]


The president has—however misguidedly—long thought of himself as more keen and cunning than his advisers.

In short: "long thought" but not "thought long."

I am surprised that he drafted that letter, it sounded to official-ly (officialoid, is that a word?) Perhaps the people around him saw this as an easy possibility to let him fall faster, and helped him with the grammar.
posted by Namlit at 10:52 AM on October 12


The Cipollone Letter: Trouble in the White House Counsel’s Office (Bob Bauer, Lawfare)
Cipollone prescriptively claims for the president all of these “rights” in principle, though he is presumably well aware that the House majority controls these proceedings and the definition of any such “rights.” The Constitution leaves it to the House, in its exercise of the “sole power to impeach,” to develop as it sees fit the procedural safeguards in an impeachment inquiry. These issues of due process do have institutional significance for the president—for any president, not just Donald Trump—and so it falls to the White House to make a serious argument for appropriate protections and to press the House to recognize them. Cipollone makes no such argument.

It is hard to see why it is to the presidency’s enduring advantage to have the counsel make a show of concern for due process and then cut off further dialogue, summarily refusing any cooperation. His message—“Do what you want”—may work for Trump. But it is surpassingly strange for this to be the position of the White House counsel, who has a duty to look after the presidency’s long-term interests. [...]

The White House counsel might reasonably have contended that the House would impair the Senate in the conduct of the trial by voting for articles of impeachment on an incomplete, slanted record. This was a major issue in the Clinton impeachment trial: The House had conducted no fact-finding and relied entirely on the referral from Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. The Starr Report was highly controversial; irregularities and inadequacies in Starr’s conduct of his investigation became a leading, if not the central, line of defense mounted by the Clinton legal team. [...] It would have been entirely appropriate for Cipollone to point to this precedent as a warning—if he had chosen to do so.

One might argue that Cipollone was boxed in: If the president is adamantly opposed to any openness to cooperation, perhaps the counsel believed that he has no choice but to communicate to Congress an unyielding rejection of any proceeding. On this theory about the motivation behind this letter, Trump’s intransigence required Cipollone to assert due process “rights” not as an invitation to negotiation, but as a cover for rejecting any engagement with the House.
posted by katra at 11:00 AM on October 12 [9 favorites]


Soo...I did some digging last night into a possible Igor Fruman/Jeffrey Epstein connection and typed 'Mafia Rave' (Fruman's Odessa nightclub) into YouTube and...wow. So many models. It's apparently one of the main venues for Odessa Fashion Week. There's someone in the audience at nearly every show (front row center, left side) who looks a lot like Ghislaine Maxwell...but it's hard to be sure...the camera doesn't linger and the bangs seem wrong (she's really big on bangs (or 'fringe' in the UK)) but if all these shows are from the same week in 2017 it could just be a hairstyle. I will go through again at higher resolution after work, but for now it's a maaaybe(?). Oh...and half the shows (at a nightclub, but during the day) are for kids clothing. So a whole bunch of teen, tween, and younger models. Like a whole lot. Like yikes. A bunch of the other shows are lingerie and done in a very Victorias Secret style (where Maxwell worked with models for some time) including wings on the models...Maxwell's influence maybe?
Aaaand now I feel like a crazy Qanon person, but the way all these crimers crime together I'm leaning towards "where there's smoke..." I guess the next step is trying to get ahold of the guest lists...anybody speak Russian?
posted by sexyrobot at 12:22 PM on October 12 [12 favorites]


Looks like Trump himself drafted that ridiculous 8-page letter to the House

Hold on. You're telling me that Donald J. Trump, the guy who notoriously won't sit still for a briefing longer than two pages, who spends 20 minutes crafting a misspelled 240-character tweet, that guy sat his ass down at a computer and pecked out an eight page document? That must be more writing than he's done in decades, he's gotta be terrified.
posted by contraption at 12:38 PM on October 12 [30 favorites]


The President's Joint Defense Agreement with the Russian Mob (Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel)
Once [John Dowd's October 3 letter] was sent, under penalty of prosecution for false statements to Congress, it became fact: Parnas and Fruman do work for Rudy Giuliani in the service of the President of the United States covered by privilege, Rudy does work for them covered by privilege, and they also do work for Joseph Di Genova and Victoria Toensing about this matter that is covered by privilege. [...]

It all might have worked, too, if Parnas and Fruman hadn’t gotten arrested before they managed to flee the country, headed for what seems to have been a planned meeting a day later with their sometime attorney Rudy Giuliani in Vienna, just one day after a lunch meeting with him at Trump Hotel across the street from the Department of Justice [...]

I mean, it still could work. Trump is still the President and DOJ, at least, will give some consideration to the attorney-client claims, so long as Rudy and Trump can maintain the illusion that Rudy is and was really doing legal work for the President.

But something that Dowd may not have considered, before he sent a letter to Congress laying out an incestuous nest of ethical atrocities, is that by the time he sent the letter, DiGenova and Toensing were on the record as representing Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who was named in some of the early search warrants targeting Paul Manafort. And in March, Rudy Giuliani went on the record to explain that Firtash was, “one of the close associates of [Semion] Mogilevich, who is the head of Russian organized crime, who is Putin’s best friend.” Yesterday, Reuters closed the circle, making it clear that Parnas and Fruman work for Firtash, the former as a translator for DiGenova and Toensing’s representation of Firtash.

[...] In other words, the President’s former lawyer asserted to Congress that the President and his current lawyer are in some kind of JDA from hell with the Russian mob, almost certainly along with the President’s former campaign manager, who apparently gets consulted (via Kevin Downing) on these matters in prison.
posted by katra at 12:46 PM on October 12 [29 favorites]


no he ranted for 20 minutes while stomping around the room, and his staff cleaned it up a bit
posted by ryanrs at 12:47 PM on October 12 [36 favorites]


I don’t know that of all the batshit stuff in all of this, this is what made me jaw drop.

Staff who handle records have had to retrieve the burn bags from the residence, put the papers out on a table and tape them back together to preserve them as official presidential records, this person said.

He has absolutely no idea what it means to be a president and be beholden to the country. He is probably only finding out now that his “burn bag” has not been being burned and is presidential record.

He truly truly does not understand any of this.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:47 PM on October 12 [35 favorites]


in russian white house, torn up evidence burns you
posted by ryanrs at 12:51 PM on October 12 [110 favorites]


I half expect that eventually we'll have an Impeach@Home effort where you can donate CPU power to reconstructing shredded evidence of Trump's malfeasance.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:03 PM on October 12 [22 favorites]


What CPU? They just send you a baggie of shreds and you do what you can to reassemble it on your kitchen table.
posted by bink at 1:10 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


That Giuliani wouldn't know whether he is Trump's lawyer is just one more cloud of smoke from the bullshit factory stacks. Attorney engagement letters are mandatory in New York and have been since 2002 [cite]. If you are claiming privilege, produce a copy of the engagement letter or go home.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 1:13 PM on October 12 [34 favorites]


Just a note in passing that within 48 hours of Attorney General William Barr meeting with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, Fox journalist and notable Trump critic abruptly quit his job in the middle of his contract.
posted by Sublimity at 1:34 PM on October 12 [4 favorites]


[Quick note, there's a dedicated thread about Shepherd Smith leaving Fox News, so better to take that over there.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:36 PM on October 12 [6 favorites]


Jonathan Coulton has a Schoolhouse Rock-style video about impeachment that's pretty cool. I wish it were a bit clearer, maybe, but it's the sort of thing that deserves to be in heavy rotation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:35 PM on October 12 [12 favorites]


Once they start being revealed, the length, width, and depth of collusion, conspiracy, and corruption of Donald Trump's network of cronies is like a gigantic rat king. Hopefully, their tails are so entangled that they can be caught and rendered powerless.

...just saying.
posted by cenoxo at 2:37 PM on October 12 [6 favorites]


I half expect that eventually we'll have an Impeach@Home effort where you can donate CPU power to reconstructing shredded evidence of Trump's malfeasance.

They can borrow the Fraunhofer Institute's code used for reconstructing shredded Stasi documents.
posted by acb at 2:51 PM on October 12 [10 favorites]


Impeachment takeaways: Another week of big developments (Politico)
Five of POLITICO’s reporters who have been covering Trump’s presidency and the impeachment inquiry share their thoughts on where we stand.
What stood out to you as the biggest development of a crazy week?

Natasha Bertrand, national security reporter
: Definitely that two associates of Rudy Giuliani who are in many ways at the heart of this Ukraine scandal — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — were indicted on campaign finance charges. [...] It also signals an intensifying crackdown on illicit campaign contributions, at a moment when Trump’s inaugural committee is under criminal investigation for potentially receiving donations from illegal foreign sources. [...]

Kyle Cheney, congressional reporter
: [...] I think will be most consequential is former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s decision to defy the State Department to testify in the House’s impeachment investigation. With her decision, she set a template for other witnesses to come forward even if they’ve been ordered not to [...]

Josh Gerstein, legal affairs reporter: [...] the most significant impeachment development of the week was Trump’s decision to have U.S. troops stand aside as Turkey invades Syria. [...] Why anyone in the political fight of his life would piss off his closest friends is hard to fathom. [...]

Can Rudy go on as Trump’s lawyer?

[...] Kyle: Trump may need him to. Rudy knows everything about everything and he’s intertwined with all of Trump world. Though I wouldn’t expect to see Giuliani on TV quite as often as the president’s emissary, it’ll be hard to excommunicate him from the inner circle completely, even if his commentary has alienated other Republicans and seems to embroil the president in more legal trouble every time he speaks.
posted by katra at 2:53 PM on October 12 [7 favorites]


Al-Jazeera: Semyon Kislin, a business associate of Donald Trump who is due to give evidence at the US president's impeachment inquiry on October 14, tried to obtain millions of dollars that Ukrainian prosecutors deemed stolen.
Kislin is a long-time friend of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
posted by adamvasco at 4:04 PM on October 12 [10 favorites]


. . also campaign donor to Chuck Schumer's campaigns in the 90s . . while Kislin was being investigated by FBI for money laundering.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:23 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]


That Giuliani wouldn't know whether he is Trump's lawyer is just one more cloud of smoke from the bullshit factory stacks

My understanding is he claimed not to know whether he was still Trump's lawyer. And the letter of engagement requirement is only about opening a relationship. (Also that he's working "for free" (!), which avoids the need for any letter of engagement.)
posted by sourcejedi at 4:29 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Working pro bono does not obviate the need for a letter of engagement. Moreover, just throwing in my own 22 years of practice as an attorney as evidence here, you simply would not terminate an engagement orally. There would be a writing somewhere saying "You're fired!" That letter might be written by the client or the lawyer. The issue of whether or not you are my client and I am your lawyer is one of the biggest issues in legal ethics, second only to whether I have stolen money from my client. You just don't leave any aspect of that relationship to chance, nor do you base any of it on a handshake oral agreement. It all gets written down.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:46 PM on October 12 [35 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window, my original point was that Trump and Giuliani can only claim attorney-client privilege for communications made between them while Giuliani was engaged as Trump's attorney. When did that engagement begin? When did it end (assuming it has)? A letter of engagement PLUS any writing terminating that agreement would seem dispositive here.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:01 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]


Well our boy Rudy is definitely a smart and ethics-concerned lawyer who is good at covering his own ass, so I'm sure he has written documentation of his attorney-client status re: the President
posted by tivalasvegas at 5:01 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


That would consist of a letter signed by Trump accepting the engagement. So I would like to see it. Especially if Trump is denying the fact of the engagement. It's simply a delicious moment in time where whatever they have is damning for one reason or another.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:05 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]


...also campaign donor to Chuck Schumer's campaigns in the 90s...
if schumer's dirty, fuck 'im. IMHO, make this moment a reckoning for corruption and shady big-money hijinx.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:09 PM on October 12 [39 favorites]


You have a real clash of interests here. For Guiliani, to avoid prosecution for unregistered foreign lobbying, he needs to claim he was working for the government at the direction of the State Department. For Trump's impeachment defense, on the other hand, he needs to argue that Guiliani was freelancing and that Guiliani's the quid quo pro discussions were not on behalf of the government.

And at the same time Trump is equivocating because he wants to distance himself from any Guiliani criminal lawyering, but at the same time claim client-attorney privilege. Oh, what a mess he has found himself in.
posted by JackFlash at 5:15 PM on October 12 [42 favorites]


Indeed. How ever will he get out of this one.
posted by odinsdream at 5:21 PM on October 12 [8 favorites]


If you want to claim attorney-client privilege, then don't instruct or allow your attorney to commit fraud or crimes on your behalf. As a good attorney, Rudy should have informed his client of the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege and tsk-tsked his attempts to circumvent it (or better yet, fired his client upon learning his intent to go forward with fraud and crimes). As I said before, this is a delicious moment in time.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:36 PM on October 12 [9 favorites]


As a good attorney, Rudy should have...

Objection, assumes facts not in evidence.
posted by bcd at 5:41 PM on October 12 [33 favorites]


WaPo, Trump’s envoy who denied quid pro quo now says he isn’t certain: "The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Sondland plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. "
posted by jocelmeow at 6:35 PM on October 12 [33 favorites]


Another bus a'comin. And Sondland paid over $1 million for his fare.
posted by JackFlash at 6:47 PM on October 12 [6 favorites]


Gee, I wonder why Trump didn't text it to him?
posted by xammerboy at 6:48 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Sondland also appears to be trying to claim innocence (same WaPo link) while confirming his role in a 'quid pro quo'
Sondland is expected to say that for months before the Sept. 9 message, he worked at the direction of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, to secure what he would call in another text message the “deliverable” sought by Trump: a public statement from Ukraine that it would investigate corruption, including mentioning Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, by name. In exchange for the statement, the president would grant Ukraine’s new president a coveted White House audience. [...]

Sondland appears poised to say that he and other diplomats did not know that the request to mention Burisma was really an effort to impugn the reputations of Biden and his son Hunter, who had served as a Burisma board member. Sondland contends that he didn’t know about the Biden connection until a whistleblower complaint and transcript surfaced in late September.

To trust Sondland’s testimony, members of Congress will have to believe Sondland had not seen televised appearances by Giuliani over the spring and summer, or numerous newspaper and magazine articles questioning whether Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma could prove to be a drag on his father’s presidential campaign.
posted by katra at 6:49 PM on October 12 [7 favorites]


Cool to be working at the direction of Trump's personal attorney on government business.
posted by xammerboy at 6:59 PM on October 12 [10 favorites]


Trump is now saying he is going to sue Schiff and Pelosi for statements calling for his impeachment. Trump seems to be unaware of the Constitution's Article 1 Section 6 which prevents suing members of congress for their speech.

He also suggests impeaching Schiff and Pelosi. Trump seems to be unaware of Article 1 Section 5 which says that members can only be removed by a two-thirds vote of congress members.

Says Trump White House lawyer Jay Sekulow "No President should be subjected to this political theater" as he engages in the ridiculous political theater.
posted by JackFlash at 7:09 PM on October 12 [34 favorites]


Trump has literally only had Article II read to him (and that only recently, based on his public statements) -- he has no idea what's in Article I -- and also Jay Sekulow is a fucking asshole who has been a parasite on the worst impulses of the Christian right for 40 fucking years now. I'm honestly ever so slightly impressed he managed to fail up into a position of national prominence (if not importance) because I spent my whole college career watching him try to get on the suing-shit-for-reactionary-Catholics gravy train (IT IS A VERY GENEROUS GRAVY TRAIN THAT WILL PAY THE WORST BOTTOM FEEDERS, BUT NOT JAY SEKULOW), and failing repeatedly.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:14 PM on October 12 [19 favorites]


How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm (WaPo)
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born emigre, appeared at a dark time in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Less than a month before the election, major GOP donors had been spooked by the revelation that Trump boasted about grabbing women during a recording of the television show “Access Hollywood.”

Parnas had never been a player in national Republican politics. But the onetime stockbroker chose that moment to deliver a $50,000 donation to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party, and it quickly opened doors. [...]

By spring 2018, the two men had dined with Trump, breakfasted with his son and attended exclusive events at Mar-a-Lago and the White House, all while jetting around the world and spending lavishly, particularly at Trump hotels in New York and Washington. That May, a pro-Trump super PAC reported receiving a $325,000 donation from an energy company the duo had recently formed. [...]

Their new lawyer, John Dowd — who also previously served as a personal attorney for Trump — declined to respond to a number of questions about the two men, writing only in an email, “You publish at your peril.”
posted by katra at 7:20 PM on October 12 [9 favorites]


Indeed, how will he get out of this one? - odinsdream.

Stay tuned: same batshit time, same batshit channel.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:43 PM on October 12 [12 favorites]


Gee, I wonder why Trump didn't text it to him?
Signal? WhatsApp?
posted by j_curiouser at 7:55 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Another bus a'comin. And Sondland paid over $1 million for his fare.

Sondland just ripped the emergency pullstring right out of the ceiling
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:22 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]


Trump renews claim that he is immune from criminal investigation in effort to block Manhattan DA probe (WaPo)

However:
The Justice Department also filed a brief in support of the president, though it stopped short of endorsing Trump’s precedent-breaking assertion that he has absolute immunity from investigation.

Instead, the Justice Department conceded that there were some instances when a local prosecutor might legally seek a president’s documents — but this was not one of them.

“Presidential materials ‘should not be treated as just another source of Information,’ ” the Justice Department said, quoting a prior ruling to explain how presidential subpoenas might be permitted, but only in extraordinary circumstances. “A subpoena directed at a President’s records should be permitted only ‘as a last resort.’ ”

The department said Vance needed to show a “demonstrated, specific need” for the data in Trump’s tax returns, as well as to demonstrate that he had already tried to obtain the same facts through other means. “The court should be ordered to stay enforcement of the subpoena as to the President’s personal records unless and until — at a minimum — the District Attorney is able to make the required showing of particularized need,” the Justice Department wrote.
WaPo notes "Vance has subpoenaed the records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, as part of an investigation that appears targeted at possible falsification of business records related to a scheme to silence two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump."
posted by katra at 9:28 PM on October 12 [9 favorites]


ha ha ha: that man
has not sat through a reading
of article ii.

(& didn't write that
letter & hasn't sat through
a reading of it).
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:59 PM on October 12 [7 favorites]


Surely this. For various values of this.
posted by Devonian at 4:42 AM on October 13 [8 favorites]


Vance isn’t subpoenaing presidential records though. He’s subpoenaing records that were made when a person currently serving as president was a private individual.

Isn’t that a distinction? Everything 45 did prior to the election is not suddenly “presidential”. If it were, it would all be part of much larger record for public visibility, like the briefing notes he thinks are being burned.

I’m making assumptions here and could be wrong.
posted by affectionateborg at 5:53 AM on October 13 [17 favorites]


If a presidential candidate is part of a criminal conspiracy (and its investigation) prior to their election, do they become immune to further investigation, indictments, and prosecution after they take the oath of office?
posted by cenoxo at 6:41 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


The obvious idiocy of these positions is what makes them effective. It serves to demoralize anyone seeking common ground or operating in good faith.
posted by jon1270 at 6:59 AM on October 13 [10 favorites]


Attorney engagement letters are mandatory in New York and have been since 2002 [cite]

I comment because I looked at the cited source, and it said "Section 1215.2 exempts three categories of matters: (1) matters in which the legal fees are expected to be under $3,000".
posted by sourcejedi at 7:29 AM on October 13 [6 favorites]


If a presidential candidate is part of a criminal conspiracy (and its investigation) prior to their election...

Well Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign. "In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud. Agnew took kickbacks from contractors during his time as Baltimore County Executive and Governor of Maryland...he pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of tax evasion" (wiki) and then spent the rest of his very comfortable life bitching about it.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:32 AM on October 13 [7 favorites]


If a presidential candidate is part of a criminal conspiracy (and its investigation) prior to their election...

A crime is a crime only if Republicans care for it to be. If you're a Democrat, they'll talk about jailing you for putting mustard on a hamburger. If you're a Republican, there's no line you can't cross. The entire system (e.g. courts, media, etc.) is tilted in their favor.
posted by xammerboy at 7:52 AM on October 13 [17 favorites]


> Quite a bit more about MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq) at Wikipedia.

Correct link.
posted by cenoxo at 8:56 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


ha ha ha: that man
has not sat through a reading
of article ii.

(& didn't write that
letter & hasn't sat through
a reading of it).


Well he seems to have appointed some judges who will back him up by using the Constitution as toilet paper. How many of Trump's judges have sworn a loyalty oath to him as a prerequisite for their appointments?
posted by benzenedream at 8:58 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Donald Trump: xenophobe in public, international mobster in private (Robert Reich, Guardian Opinion)
The founding fathers said betraying America to foreign powers was an impeachable offense. The president must go
Trump withdrew American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border, leaving our Kurdish allies to be slaughtered and opening the way for a resurgent Islamic State. Trump’s rationale? He promised to bring our soldiers home.

There could be another reason. Trump never divested from his real estate business, and the Trump Towers Istanbul is the Trump Organization’s first and only office and residential building in Europe. Businesses linked to the Turkish government are also major patrons of the Trump Organization. Which may be why Trump has repeatedly sided with the Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been intent on eliminating the Kurds.

[...] Meanwhile, even as Trump spews conspiracy theories about the Biden family, his own children are openly profiting from foreign deals. Eric and Don Jr have projects in the works in Ireland, India, Indonesia, Uruguay, Turkey and the Philippines.

Trump is pocketing money from foreign governments eager to curry favor by staying at his hotels. The practice has become so routine that during Trump’s 25 July phone call, the Ukrainian president assured him that the “last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower”.

According to a former Trump Organization official, foreign governments spent more than a million dollars at Trump businesses in 2018, mostly at the Trump International hotel in Washington. Trump will make even more money if he carries out his plan to host next year’s G7 meeting at his Doral golf resort, in Florida.

All of this is precisely what the founding fathers sought to prevent. [...] You don’t have to be an originalist to see the dangers to democracy when a president seeks or receives personal favors from foreign governments. There is no limit to how far a foreign power might go to help a president enlarge his political power and wealth, in exchange for selling out America.
posted by katra at 8:59 AM on October 13 [18 favorites]


cenoxo:
If a presidential candidate is part of a criminal conspiracy (and its investigation) prior to their election, do they become immune to further investigation, indictments, and prosecution after they take the oath of office?
What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law entitled "Prosecuting a President" examines the history of this question. Also, the podcast overall is excellent and fascinating
posted by Cogito at 9:07 AM on October 13 [8 favorites]


(Robert Reich, Guardian Opinion)

It's just going to be a constant parade of familiar names from the past 5 administrations, isn't it? Not sure who Mr. Reich, who I like, thinks he's convincing here.

Trump is pocketing money from foreign governments eager to curry favor by staying at his hotels

Horrors. Can we move the discourse along now? Hey everybody, we landed on the moon!

I know there's a certain risk in being with-it on the news to believe that information is more established in the public consciousness than it is, but the badness of Trump continually regenerates itself. There are newer, worse Presidential acts that are just as easily understandable, so reusing the first thing over and over is just lazy.

Maybe if Trump's 307th day at a Trump property was something people were responding to, it would be a good event to use in a foundation of sentiment against him, but if nobody except wonks and the over-connected has been talking about it for the past three years...find something newer and more relatable.
posted by rhizome at 11:00 AM on October 13


...find something newer and more relatable.

... like how this pattern and practice of graft and corruption is now resulting in genocide?
posted by katra at 11:17 AM on October 13 [7 favorites]


Gordon Sondland is about to blow a hole in Trump’s Ukraine defense (Aaron Blake, WaPo)
The implosion of this particular Trump defense epitomizes the broader problem his supporters have here. The vast majority of Republicans have been unwilling to go to bat for Trump, avoiding the questions or deflecting them and talking about something else (like about how there really is corruption in Ukraine). That appears to be because they have little faith that something more incriminating won’t eventually come out, making their defenses look silly, as this one now has. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, simply don’t appear to have taken much care to avoid at least the appearance of soliciting foreign influence on an American election. [...]

Sondland’s impending testimony sounds like that of a man covering his own backside and knowing his apparent defense of Trump could quickly fall apart upon further examination.
posted by katra at 11:40 AM on October 13 [6 favorites]


The sexual assaults don’t move the dial either but that doesn’t mean journalists and detractors shouldn’t return to the subject.
posted by Selena777 at 11:55 AM on October 13 [17 favorites]


Ted Cruz: 'Of course' Trump was wrong to ask China to probe Bidens (NBC News)
Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" whether Trump's comments were "appropriate," Cruz said "of course not."

"Elections in the U.S. should be decided by Americans and it's not the business of foreign countries, any foreign countries, to be interfering in our elections," he said.

"Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan then asked if it was improper for Trump to ask Ukraine to probe the Bidens, as he did in a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — a call that is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry.

"Listen, foreign countries should stay out of American elections," Cruz said. "That's true for Russia. That's true for Ukraine. That's true for China. That's true for all of them. It should be the American people deciding elections. I don't know what [Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has] been saying. I do know though that we should decide our elections. It should be the American people making those decisions."

But Cruz added that it would make "sense" for Giuliani, who is at the center of the president's campaign to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has already invited Giuliani to do so. "I'd like to see Rudy testify," Cruz said. "Yes."
posted by katra at 12:04 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]


Protecting whistleblower’s identity is ‘our primary interest,’ Schiff says (WaPo)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday that protecting the identity of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine is “our primary interest,” in a sign that House Democrats may not press the individual to testify before Congress. [...] “Given that we already have the call record, we don’t need the whistleblower who wasn’t on the call to tell us what took place during the call,” Schiff said. “We have the best evidence of that.” [...]

Trump and other Republicans have argued that Democrats should hold public hearings rather than hear witness testimony behind closed doors. But Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who sits on the Intelligence Committee, argued Sunday that Democrats have several reasons for conducting closed-door depositions.

The “most important reason,” Himes said on ABC News’s “This Week,” is that “when you’re talking to ambassadors and other U.S. government officials who have regularly had access to classified information, you need to be able to talk about that information and then go back and say hey, this conversation has to be redacted because it involves classified information.”

The second reason, he said, is that lawmakers don’t want witnesses to be able to coordinate testimony. “These are a group of people who have shown that they have no problem whatsoever lying, if they think it serves their interest,” Himes said. “And so, you don’t want to give them the opportunity to look at what they are saying and therefore coordinate their stories.”

He added that “all transcripts will eventually be scrubbed for classified information and made available for the American public to see.”
posted by katra at 12:19 PM on October 13 [9 favorites]


At lot of people are attributing things to Sondland that he has not yet testified about. Don't get your hopes up. Sondland certainly is going to try to cover his ass, but he is also highly motivated to cover Trump's ass as well. After all, he gave Trump $1 million. There's a lot of nuance that Sondland can put into his testimony to provide ambiguity about the quid pro quo.

There are a lot of other avenues regarding Sondland that would be interesting to explore.

How did Sondland end up becoming ambassador to the EU? He did not support Trump in the election saying he did not share his values, but in an abrupt turnaround, after Trump won, he contributed over a million dollars to the Trump inauguration party. While he is under oath would be a great time to ask him if there was a quid pro quo of a million dollars in exchange for the ambassador appointment. It is common for presidents to reward big contributors, but it's not usually an explicit, this for that. Under oath, he could be questioned if there was ever an explicit discussion of the EU ambassadorship prior to his million dollar donation.
posted by JackFlash at 12:27 PM on October 13 [27 favorites]


The sexual assaults don’t move the dial either but that doesn’t mean journalists and detractors shouldn’t return to the subject.

That's not my point, I'm saying the conversation doesn't have to be continually hung upon persistent topics.

... like how this pattern and practice of graft and corruption is now resulting in genocide?

Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Decimated Kurds are easily hung around Trump's neck, but for the timidity of the media and press at the gaggles.
posted by rhizome at 12:36 PM on October 13


But Cruz added that it would make "sense" for Giuliani, who is at the center of the president's campaign to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has already invited Giuliani to do so. "I'd like to see Rudy testify," Cruz said. "Yes."

What is this about. Getting the dirt on Biden out despite all the concern mouth motions?
posted by angrycat at 12:42 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


It’s about Cruz’s intention to still be coasting along as a career GOP pol long after Trump is dead.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:55 PM on October 13 [11 favorites]


Re: House Intelligence Committee and the whistleblower:

Trump and other Republicans have argued that Democrats should hold public hearings rather than hear witness testimony behind closed doors.

A reminder that Junior testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June about the Moscow Trump Tower deal and Hillary dirt and he was able to do so behind closed doors.

Have googled briefly but haven't come across the transcript yet.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:57 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


What is this about. Getting the dirt on Biden out despite all the concern mouth motions?

In theory, yes, from Politico on October 8:
“I have heard on numerous occasions disturbing allegations by Rudy Giuliani about corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin," Graham said in a statement. “Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine."
But:
"I welcome the opportunity to question Rudy Giuliani under oath about his role in seeking the Ukrainian government’s assistance to investigate one of the president’s political rivals," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee. "Democratic members have plenty of questions for Mr. Giuliani and this would give us an opportunity to help separate fact from fiction for the American people."
And in related news: "Giuliani signaled he was unlikely to appear before the committee. "Love Lindsey, but I am still a lawyer and I will have to deal with privilege," he told CNN."
posted by katra at 1:02 PM on October 13


It’s pretty easy to make a legitimate argument that congress should get the last several years of Trump’s tax returns. Per the constitution, the only emolument a president is allowed to receive is their salary (which cannot increase through their term). Emoluments from foreign entities and governments are only allowable with the permission of congress.

Since Trump did not divest his holdings or put them in a blind trust outside his control, congress has the right to examine his finances and determine if he is receiving emoluments outside his salary and if so, whether said emoluments are/are not permissible. Due to his extensive financial holdings and likely complex structure of his businesses, congress needs historical records to make those determinations regarding his current state of business affairs.

There is no reason this must be part of an impeachment proceeding, either. Congress could determine his extensive graft and personal enrichment schemes business dealings are acceptable but they have an obligation to first review his financial records in order to make that call.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:06 PM on October 13 [33 favorites]


Except that Trump's lawyers are arguing that Congress does not have the right to investigate anything that is not related to making new law or an impeachment inquiry.

Btw, I know someone that teaches constitutional law, and the class does discuss the emoluments clause and Trump. It goes like this: The class reads the emoluments clause. They are told of Trump's business dealings. They sit in stunned confusion trying to figure out how anyone could think he's not violating the emoluments clause.

It's sort of funny, because they're expecting to dig in to some complicated questions, and instead are reading something along the lines of "The president can't take anything of value from a foreign power, not even one cent, under any circumstances. The end."
posted by xammerboy at 3:19 PM on October 13 [37 favorites]


I'm feeling depressed today about the whole situation. My husband spent the weekend bartending for people who could only be called "Trump's base" (i.e. Southern wealthy conservative football fans). And apparently, according to them: "Trump has just done SO MUCH for this country. I can't remember the last time a president has accomplished so much. He's just done so much good."

Like, none of this has touched their opinions at all. This, in particular, is an attitude I don't understand. Because what in the WORLD has he accomplished? Other than tax cuts. Which I'm sure they love because these people had money. But...sigh.
posted by threeturtles at 3:32 PM on October 13 [16 favorites]


Because what in the WORLD has he accomplished? Other than tax cuts.

Denuded regulatory agencies, vitiated the State Department, packed the McConnell court vacancies with ideological mediocrities.
posted by thelonius at 3:36 PM on October 13 [23 favorites]


"Love Lindsey, but I am still a lawyer and I will have to deal with privilege," he told CNN."
“I’m not acting as a lawyer. I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government,” he continued, sounding out of breath. “Anything I did should be praised.”
It's amazing what a difference a couple of weeks makes.

Like, none of this has touched their opinions at all. This, in particular, is an attitude I don't understand. Because what in the WORLD has he accomplished? Other than tax cuts. Which I'm sure they love because these people had money. But...sigh.

That's the thing. His accomplishment is the wholesale discarding of shame from white men. He's turning back the clock to where white boss men could pat their secretaries on the ass and call them "doll face" without shame and that's just how business was. Even if women complain, they have their #metoo moments, so what? Don't resign, attack, attack, attack, just know that you're the powerful one and you're going to make it because you're white and male and failing upwards is your birthright.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:38 PM on October 13 [32 favorites]


McMaster wasn't aware of White House's foreign call "lockdowns" (Axios)
Three former administration officials tell Axios that former national security adviser H.R. McMaster did not authorize and was not aware of the "locking down" of transcripts of conversations between President Trump and foreign leaders that were politically damaging but didn't pose national security risks.
House Democrats' impeachment roadmap (Axios)
Ahead of this week's subpoenas and depositions, new documents obtained by Axios show how Democrats are taking the impeachment inquiry in two tightly focused directions: Ukraine and obstruction of justice.

Why it matters: There are new temptations for Democrats to broaden the scope of their inquiry after developments last week including President Trump's gift to Turkey, new questions about coordination with the Chinese over Hunter Biden, and the dramatic airport arrests of two of Rudy Giuliani's associates with Eastern European backgrounds and their indictments on campaign finance violations.

But for now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be sticking with her instincts to keep the probe tight and as simple as possible for Americans to understand.
posted by katra at 4:15 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]


Schiff Says Secret Testimony Aimed at Keeping Trump in the Dark (Bloomberg/Yahoo)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff defended holding testimony behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry he’s heading up against President Donald Trump, likening this phase of the investigation to a “grand jury.”

“We want to make sure that we meet the needs of the investigation and not give the president or his legal minions the opportunity to tailor their testimony and in some cases fabricate testimony to suit their interests,” the California Democrat said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
posted by katra at 4:51 PM on October 13 [9 favorites]


How did Sondland end up becoming ambassador to the EU?

Polo ponies and private planes: Trump impeachment fight deepens a rift among ambassadors (Politico)
The congressional investigation into Trump has unearthed findings that are leading some diplomats to demand a revamp of how ambassadors are appointed.
The group’s president, Eric Rubin, said in a statement to POLITICO that the Foreign Service Act of 1980 specifies ambassadorships should “normally be accorded to career members of the Service,” with only occasional exceptions for qualified outsiders.

“AFSA does not believe that asking to follow the law is a radical position,” Rubin said, adding that the Trump-era numbers are “dismaying.”

[...] The ongoing investigation has uncovered evidence that the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, was operating outside the usual State Department chain of command to pressure the Ukrainian government to launch investigations that could help Trump in the 2020 election.

Sondland is a hotel owner who reportedly donated $1 million for Trump’s inauguration and had no notable diplomatic experience before being named to the Brussels-based post. Ukraine is not a member of the EU, making Sondland’s involvement in its affairs even more odd. But the envoy, like a handful of other political appointee ambassadors, is known to have a direct line to Trump, another reason congressional investigators are keen to understand his activities. [...]

Under Trump, many of the political appointees “have absolutely no understanding of U.S. government policy and State Department policy. They don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” one former U.S. ambassador said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
posted by katra at 5:26 PM on October 13 [14 favorites]


Schiff Says Secret Testimony Aimed at Keeping Trump in the Dark

He does know that Devin Nunes is still on the committee too though, right?
posted by p3t3 at 6:15 PM on October 13 [10 favorites]


Ukraine is not a member of the EU, making Sondland’s involvement in its affairs even more odd.

Just so you are prepared for the argument, which is sure to come out, there is the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement signed in 2014 which has the goal of tying the two parties together politically and economically, with the eventual goal of integration of Ukraine into the EU. So you could say that Sondland was within his scope as Ambassador to the EU.

But whether Sondland was working to help Ukraine gain EU membership or helping Putin prevent EU membership is another matter.
posted by JackFlash at 6:16 PM on October 13 [7 favorites]


Except that Trump's lawyers are arguing that Congress does not have the right to investigate anything that is not related to making new law or an impeachment inquiry.

Right, but it’s a total loser argument. This is the perfect moment to bring out some prime quotes from Antonio Scalia about “plain text” reading of the constitution. There is no reasonable counter-argument. Emoluments are the Achilles heel of Trump’s arguments for a theory of the unitary executive.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:36 PM on October 13 [16 favorites]


Press organization condemns violence against journalists depicted at pro-Trump event (Politico)
The White House Correspondents’ Association on Sunday night condemned “a video reportedly shown” at a pro-Trump event held at a Trump resort in Miami that depicted graphic violence against journalists and various political figures. “The WHCA is horrified by a video reportedly shown over the weekend at a political conference organized by the President’s supporters at the Trump National Doral in Miami,“ said the statement, issued in the name of WHCA president Jonathan Karl.

“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents. We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.”

The WHCA statement followed a report Sunday in the New York Times of a graphic video shown to Trump supporters at a conference at the Florida facility. The Times report said: “The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the ‘Church of Fake News‘ on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies.“ POLITICO was among the news organizations shown as targets of the Trump violence.

Besides journalists, other targets depicted include the late John McCain, California Reps. Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters, Sen. Mitt Romney, and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The Trump character in the video shoots, stab and beats his victims; at one point, he sets Bernie Sanders’ head on fire.
posted by katra at 9:15 PM on October 13 [32 favorites]


Well, that all sounds completely sane.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:34 PM on October 13 [18 favorites]


former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The Trump character in the video shoots, stab and beats his victims

The secret service needs to investigate the sitting president’s re-election campaign for terroristic threats made against former presidents.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:57 PM on October 13 [94 favorites]


The White House Correspondents’ Association on Sunday night condemned “a video reportedly shown” at a pro-Trump event held at a Trump resort in Miami that depicted graphic violence against journalists and various political figures.

That description really does the video a disservice. It's the ultra violent church scene from Kingsman where everyone (including Harry) goes insane. I saw the video in question and holy shit, it toes right up to the line of inciting imminent lawless action.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:13 AM on October 14 [10 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani Welcomes You To Eastern Europe By Peter Pomerantsev /NYTimes Opinion
Mr. Pomerantsev is the author of “This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality.”
The message of much of Kremlin propaganda is not to showcase Russia as a beacon of progress, but to prove that Western politics is just as rotten as President Vladimir Putin’s. We may have corruption, the argument goes, but so does the West; our democracy is rigged, but so is theirs.

The latest scandal surrounding President Trump and his dealings with Ukraine is, for this reason, a godsend for the Kremlin: The son of an American presidential candidate is suspected of using his father’s reputation to get himself a $50,000-a-month job at a Ukrainian gas company; the president of the United States is accused of acting like a geopolitical gangster, extorting kompromat about a political rival. American politics have become enmeshed in Russian and Ukrainian corruption, and much about the Trump administration seems pulled from the playbook of a post-Soviet kleptocracy. The Kremlin couldn’t have put together a better script.

As I follow the news coming from America at my home in Britain, the political culture and language in the thing once known as “the West” reminds me of my years in Moscow, where I lived in the first decade of the 21st century. Perhaps in nothing more so than in its relationship to the truth.
posted by mumimor at 4:54 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]


Boingboing has a link to the video. Instead of posting it, here's (best I could do with one watching) a list of the people and media organizations that get a mention:

ABC, BBC News, Bloomberg, CBS, CNBC, CNN, Global News, MSNBC (well, Mika Brzezinski), NBC, NPR, PBS, Univision, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, TheHill, Huffpost, Politico, Slate, Talking Points Memo, Vice News, Vox, The Young Turks, Yahoo News, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, a feminist logo, Organizing for Action, and somebody with a D-in-a-blue-circle logo that I couldn't quite place. I didn't recognize all the people, but they included Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rosie O'Donnell, and Kathy Griffin.

Best I could tell, they left out the NYT, Vanity Fair, and Teen Vogue.
posted by box at 5:14 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]


The message of much of Kremlin propaganda is not to showcase Russia as a beacon of progress, but to prove that Western politics is just as rotten as President Vladimir Putin’s. We may have corruption, the argument goes, but so does the West; our democracy is rigged, but so is theirs.

This sounds very familiar. We're very used to crooks being in power in our part of the world. And for all the hostility towards the US about foreign policy, there's been a sense that US government worked in the interest of the USA. From conversations I've had in Pakistan around the impeachment inquiry, it's pretty clear that if this President and his cronies are not held accountable, the old perception of "they might have a terrible foreign policy, but their internal systems work to their benefit" will break down and there will be a good bit of schadenfreude in the breakdown.
posted by bardophile at 5:16 AM on October 14


Not to mention ((((((George))) (((Soros)))))).
posted by acb at 5:16 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


...and somebody with a D-in-a-blue-circle logo...

aka The Democrats
posted by PenDevil at 5:18 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


Pompeo suggests reporter 'working for Democrats' after impeachment grilling (Guardian, with video)
Titans of American journalism Rather and Mitchell join praise of Nancy Amons after Nashville reporter stuns secretary of state
With Pompeo’s irritation increasingly visible, Amons asked if he had met Rudy Giuliani on a visit to Warsaw this year. [...]

Pompeo chose three times not to answer Amons’ question, instead offering grim-faced variations on a theme: that he went to Warsaw to work on “an important mission … to take down the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, the Islamic Republic of Iran” and it was the “only thing I engaged in while I was there”.

“It sounds like you’re not going to say,” Amons said.

She then asked about text messages between US diplomats, obtained by House Democrats, which show concern that Trump was making the US-Ukraine relationship contingent on help with investigating the Bidens.

“Were you aware that this was happening?” she asked.

“You’ve got your facts wrong,” Pompeo said. “It sounds like you’re working, at least in part, for the Democratic National Committee when you phrase the predicate of a question in that way.

“It’s unfortunate and it does a real disservice to the employees and the team at the United States Department of State. Our team was incredibly focused, we wanted a good relationship with Ukraine.”
posted by katra at 6:27 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]


With Pompeo’s irritation increasingly visible, Amons asked if he had met Rudy Giuliani on a visit to Warsaw this year. [...] [emphasis added]

The station also engaged in actual journalism by posting the full, uncut interview, in which it's clear that Pompeo expects just to spout some banal falsehood to be inserted uncritically into the story -- I'm looking at you, NPR -- and has no idea how to handle the impertinence of a journalist who actually notices he didn't answer her question and correctly infers that his reluctance to do so means there's a story there ("Pompeo refuses to say whether he met with Giuliani in Warsaw").
posted by Gelatin at 6:37 AM on October 14 [34 favorites]


[The violent video thing is shocking, but this isn't a megathread for All The Things, so let's continue discussing impeachment here, please.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:44 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


Former Trump Aide to Testify on Pressure to Oust Ambassador to Ukraine (NYT)
Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia and Europe adviser, headed to Capitol Hill on Monday morning where she is prepared to testify that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded. Ms. Hill, who stepped down from the White House’s National Security Council staff over the summer, viewed the recall of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies of Mr. Trump who were seeking to remove a perceived obstacle, according to a person familiar with Ms. Hill’s account. [...]

Ms. Hill will be the first person who worked in the White House to be deposed by House investigators and is appearing despite the White House declaration last week that it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry or allow its staff to do so. The White House has not attempted to stop Ms. Hill from testifying, according to the person familiar with her account, but White House lawyers have exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications. [...]

She turned over her duties to her successor on July 15 and left on July 19, just days before the July 25 telephone call [...] Ms. Hill is prepared to testify that she opposed the idea of the phone call because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April following his own election. Ms. Hill will testify that while she was the president’s top adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was cut out of the loop as Mr. Giuliani and others ran a shadow diplomacy intended to benefit Mr. Trump’s political position, according to the person informed about her account.

[...] she will confirm that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.
posted by katra at 7:31 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]


Trump says ‘treason.’ His fans invoke violence. How attacks against Schiff are escalating online. (WaPo)
As Trump and his allies have aimed increasingly caustic language at Schiff in recent days, the attacks have been echoed by supporters on social media who often take the message a step further — invoking physical violence against one of the most prominent Democrats overseeing the inquiry that now threatens Trump’s presidency. [...]

Analysts say the pattern resulting in the violent rhetoric targeting Schiff makes evident the radicalizing effect of social media, which Trump uses to incite his followers against his perceived enemies.
posted by katra at 7:51 AM on October 14 [9 favorites]


The White House has not attempted to stop Ms. Hill from testifying ...

How could they? She doesn't work for the White House anymore. There is absolutely nothing they can do to prevent her testimony.

... but White House lawyers have exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications.

It's all bluff and intimidation.
posted by JackFlash at 7:55 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


Guardian: There was a brief moment of drama just now during the closed-door testimony of Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top adviser on Russia, in the impeachment inquiry. Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican of Florida and a staunch ally of Trump’s, demanded to sit in on Hill’s testimony even though he is not a member of the three panels conducting the interview.
Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) Rep Gaetz is not on Intel or Oversight or Foreign Affairs Cmte and was kicked out of the deposition. Argues that he is on Judiciary and his committee has jurisdiction on impeachment and should have been let in. pic.twitter.com/LRt8YvEOa9
October 14, 2019
posted by katra at 8:22 AM on October 14 [17 favorites]


Re: Fiona Hill, could the White House claim, after her testimony, that she disclosed information that should have remained confidential, and have the Justice Dept bring charges? Obviously that would be stupid, but would they have arguable standing to do so?
posted by Kelrichen at 8:24 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride. They may not have standing to do so, but that’s not the point. The process of having charges thrown out is exhausting and expensive. That’s the threat.
posted by kerf at 8:33 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


They’re basically threatening to SLAAPP her.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong but don’t claims of presidential privilege require willing participation on the part of the person being questioned? Confidential information is not the same as classified information.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:42 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican of Florida and a staunch ally of Trump’s

...who has seen fit to publicly intimidate other witnesses to Trump's wrongdoing, don't forget.
posted by Gelatin at 8:47 AM on October 14 [19 favorites]


Re: Fiona Hill, could the White House claim, after her testimony, that she disclosed information that should have remained confidential, and have the Justice Dept bring charges?

It's a closed hearing. Members of Congress do not require security clearances. They automatically have authorization for classified information as a result of their election. Therefore she would not be disclosing any information congress members are not authorized to hear.
posted by JackFlash at 8:57 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


Executive privilege is a claim by the president. It depends on the cooperation of the witness as an employee of the president. There is no law or punishment that can be applied to an employee who decides not to cooperate other than firing them. And there is certainly nothing the president can do to a former employee.
posted by JackFlash at 9:07 AM on October 14 [14 favorites]


It depends on the cooperation of the witness as an employee of the president. There is no law or punishment that can be applied to an employee who decides not to cooperate other than firing them.
That sounds like an awkward litmus test to decide on for a tyrannical paranoid self serving President. Too bad for him.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:00 AM on October 14


Why is nobody calling Trump out on ramping up his appalling use of words like "shifty" and "greasy". Surely history has taught us something?
posted by Namlit at 10:08 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]


Re: Fiona Hill, could the White House claim, after her testimony, that she disclosed information that should have remained confidential, and have the Justice Dept bring charges?

What would the White House know about her closed-door testimony?
posted by rhizome at 10:14 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


What would the White House know about her closed-door testimony?
Whatever Jim Jordan texts to them.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:30 AM on October 14 [9 favorites]


I think Matt Gaetz needs something to help focus his mind back towards the real needs of his constituents in FA-01.
Perhaps a donation to his (D) opponent Phil Ehr would help? I don't know Phil and am mostly completely ignorant of Florida politics, but he appears to be quite progressive from a quick read of his "Issues" page.
[Floridians or anyone with more knowledge: I'm also open to suggestions for more progressive candidates! Phil Ehr I'd never heard of until reading the FA-01 2020 Ballotpedia page.]
posted by ButteryMales at 10:32 AM on October 14 [5 favorites]


FA-01 is the west panhandle of Florida and the most conservative district in the state. There's no way that a Republican will lose the general election.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 10:49 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


I've been wondering for a while, is there any impulse at all to primary some of these odious Republicans in safe districts from the center? I have to imagine that in a safe districts there might be a decent pool of Democrats who would be willing to join with moderate Republicans to vote in the Republican primary in order to make some of Trump's congressional lickspittles pay a price for opposing impeachment.
posted by Reverend John at 10:58 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Surely history has taught us something?

History has taught me that history rarely teaches us anything.
posted by biogeo at 10:59 AM on October 14 [56 favorites]


Fusion GPS founders to release book on Trump’s ties with Russia (Guardian)
Simpson and Fritsch founded the Washington intelligence firm Fusion GPS. In summer 2015, it began investigating Trump and Moscow. It hired Steele the following spring, as a contractor.

Steele’s contacts reported that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for at least five years, and had launched a major and multi-layered espionage operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. Steele’s dossier said the Russians held compromising material on Trump, and had spied on him in 2013, in a Moscow hotel together with two prostitutes. [...]

Simpson and Fritsch began their investigation into Trump for a rival Republican candidate. In 2016, the Democrats took over the contract. The authors previously worked for the Wall Street Journal, where they covered Russian organised crime. The book describes how their Trump investigation turned into a major political scandal. Their research was “a march through a mind-boggling trove of lawsuits, bankruptcies and sketchy overseas projects”, publisher Penguin says.

It is understood the book does not identify the human sources behind the dossier. It does argue that Steele’s memos – which were passed to the FBI, which briefed President Obama and Trump – were substantially correct. [...]

The former journalists are critical of the US attorney general, William Barr. They also give short shrift to conspiracy theories promulgated by Rudi Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is commonly described as the president’s personal lawyer. These include claims it was Ukraine rather than Russia that interfered in the 2016 vote, to boost Clinton.
posted by katra at 10:59 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]


Or rather, that we rarely learn from it.
posted by biogeo at 11:00 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Or that humans are stoopid.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:26 AM on October 14


WaPo: 12:20 p.m.: Parscale ramps up anti-impeachment rhetoric: [President Trump’s reelection campaign manager Brad] Parscale ramped up his anti-impeachment rhetoric Monday afternoon, claiming Democrats had launched “a seditious conspiracy” and calling on Pelosi to resign.
“Democrats have crossed over the line of partisan politics and have undertaken a seditious conspiracy to overthrow the people’s president,” Parscale tweeted. “Nancy Pelosi should step down for betraying her oath of office and attempting to overthrow our great Republic.”
Guardian: The week could deteriorate rapidly for Trump, whose effort to rally defenders in his own party has been damaged by concerns about a growing disaster in northern Syria, following Trump’s abrupt pullback there, and a sense that major secrets attached to the Ukraine scandal are yet to come out.
posted by katra at 11:39 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


What would the White House know about her closed-door testimony?

   Whatever Jim Jordan texts to them.


IANAL, but in that case then I think the WH would have a lot of trouble establishing standing.
posted by rhizome at 11:43 AM on October 14


I think the WH would have a lot of trouble establishing standing.

The White House does not give a warm fart about the legal niceties. They just want to get the people at the rallies fired up about how the Democrats are [insert lie here].
posted by Etrigan at 11:45 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


[Impeachment, people, not just any politics. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:54 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]


> Surely history has taught us something?
>> History has taught me that history rarely teaches us anything.
>>> Or rather, that we rarely learn from it.

History has taught all living generations a hell of a lot in the last 100 years, but it needs to keep reminding us every so often.
posted by cenoxo at 11:55 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]


Today, for the first time the average of polls at 538.com has crested 50% in favor of impeachment. Their numbers are "delayed" by averaging several recent polls as the polls have shown an increase.

Today 50.2% support; 43.9% don't support.
One month ago, today: 39.6% support; 51.3% don't support.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:03 PM on October 14 [37 favorites]


Today 50.2% support; 43.9% don't support.
One month ago, today: 39.6% support; 51.3% don't support.


This is huge. The process has only just begun!
posted by medusa at 1:09 PM on October 14 [14 favorites]


Today, for the first time the average of polls at 538.com has crested 50% in favor of impeachment.

The thing I've been trying to decide is which metric (favor impeachment/removal, overall popularity, phase of the moon) and what level moves the GOP in the Senate (or even the House). I think they know what the right thing to do is; they simply don't want to risk their jobs to do it. When does the calculation flip so it's a greater risk not to impeach/remove?
posted by MrGuilt at 1:12 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


When does the calculation flip so it's a greater risk not to impeach/remove?

The obvious and likely answer is, when > 50% in their district/state support it. National opinion matters not to them, only those who can vote them out directly.
posted by Roommate at 1:17 PM on October 14 [22 favorites]


This is huge. The process has only just begun!


And 45 is flailing already. It's not going to get any better for him in any way whatsoever, he has nothing to defend himself with except flinging shit like a deranged baboon, he's just hung a huge TRUMP sign on Syria, and the bumper sack of Ukrainian Surprise has barely been opened.

He's not stable on a good day. There are going to be no more good days. Quite terrifying, really, watching those poll numbers rise and knowing there's going to be a critical moment but not wyen, yet it has to be done.
posted by Devonian at 1:32 PM on October 14 [18 favorites]


Of course, it's a downward spiral - the worse the picture for him, the crazier the shit he'll pull to cover it up, or distract from it, and the worse the picture will become for him in turn. The problem is that this is a very dangerous game to play with the country, and the world. I could see it spinning out of control in ways that hurt a lot more people than he already has, which is no small number. The senate GOP can see this too, and I wish they would act on it before anything catastrophic happens. Alas, I have no faith that they will.
posted by eclectist at 2:07 PM on October 14 [5 favorites]


when > 50% in their district/state support it.

More specifically, when the majority of the primary voters support it. Enough of the base will show up and vote Republican no matter what, but the dedicated ones control who gets on the ballot in the first place.
posted by Candleman at 2:19 PM on October 14 [4 favorites]


The White House does not give a warm fart about the legal niceties. They just want to get the people at the rallies fired up about how the Democrats are [insert lie here].

The context was the WH getting access to transcripts of today's testimony based on text messages from someone who was there, someone whose text messages would be laden with conflicts of interest. This may be flaccidly legalistic, but the issue is not WH getting everything they want to fire up the meatheads, but WH getting access to the key where it's locked up.
posted by rhizome at 2:43 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]


What Candleman says. Opinions (and the intensity thereof) among the primary electorate are the only factor in Republican Senators' thinking right now. Fox is a proxy for/shaper of that, so the big tell will come when not just the 'news' folks (Shep Smith, Chris Wallace) but the opinionistas there start to make "I am troubled" noises about Tr*mp's behavior.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:43 PM on October 14


If the Republicans don't impeach Trump they will be hit by his near-daily rantings and decisions that chip away at what many of their constituents perceive as their core beliefs. Turkey will hurt with the escape of ISIS and the fact that this issue matters to a number of conservatives.

You might say this has already gone on for two-and-a-half years and not much has happened, but the process is accelerating and his buffers are breaking down (Fox and the economy). his mind also seems to be breaking down. Republicans will abandon him for self-preservation.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:01 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]


IMO, his mind isn't really breaking down more in the past week or so, but he is more cornered, desperate and flailing.
posted by christopherious at 3:26 PM on October 14 [3 favorites]


Manu Raju reports on Twitter that the committee will be hearing a full week of testimony from current & former State Department personnel.

Fiona Hill has been testifying for 9 hours.
posted by suelac at 4:30 PM on October 14 [42 favorites]


Public Servants Are Starting to Respond to Donald Trump's False Attacks (David Rohde, New Yorker)
On Friday afternoon, James Baker, the former general counsel of the F.B.I., felt a tinge of optimism. Almost two years ago, he was ousted from his position as the Bureau’s top legal official, after President Trump fired the F.B.I.’s director, James Comey. Baker, a career Justice Department official and a longtime Comey ally, had approved the F.B.I.’s Trump-Russia investigation and the monitoring of a former Trump campaign adviser’s communications. Trump welcomed the news of Baker’s removal in a tweet: “Wow, ‘FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned.’ ” In subsequent tweets and retweets, the President accused Baker of lying to Congress and being part of an “Unconstitutional Hoax” and an “attempted coup.”

Baker considered Trump’s claims about him to be completely false, but he said nothing publicly at the time. (The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the origins of the F.B.I.’s Trump-Russia investigation and found no wrongdoing.) “I believed that, once I was out of the F.B.I., I could resume a normal life and avoid the spotlight,” he told me last week, in his office at the R Street Institute, a conservative and libertarian think tank, where he directs the national-security program. “But that was inaccurate, because the damage had already been done by the President’s tweets and stories about me on Fox News and other outlets.” Baker, once considered one of the government’s most trusted national-security officials, found that Trump’s attacks impacted his ability to find a job. “Certain corporations and law firms thought that I was too controversial and didn’t want to hire me,” Baker recalled. “It surprised me and was dispiriting.” Over time, he became convinced that Trump was improperly using his powers as President to maintain his hold on power. Baker decided to push back. “At a certain point, I became unafraid of Donald Trump,” he said. “I felt, O.K., I can speak out. And also, I have an obligation to speak out.” In May, Baker began publicly attacking what he called Trump’s “false narrative that there was a coup, and a conspiracy, and treason.”

[...] Baker told me that Trump’s failure so far to discredit the whistle-blower had weakened his power to silence current and former officials. “He tried to smash the whistle-blower, and it didn’t work,” Baker said. “One of the things that Donald Trump has trafficked in is fear. And, once people are no longer afraid of him, I think more people will come forward.”
posted by katra at 4:45 PM on October 14 [21 favorites]


And, once people are no longer afraid of him, I think more people will come forward.
Or maybe, eventually, we as a society will learn to believe the NUMEROUS women who were unafraid to come forward already at their own great expense. 🤦‍♂️
posted by Cogito at 5:55 PM on October 14 [93 favorites]


Rebecca Ballhaus :"Fiona Hill told House committees that after Sondland brought up investigations in a July 10 meeting w/senior Ukrainian officials, Bolton and others, she and Bolton left the meeting alarmed. Bolton instructed her to talk to Eisenberg."

John Bolton, voice of reason
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:15 PM on October 14 [18 favorites]


Bolton has spent his life figuring out a legal way to genocide entire countries, he's not going to stand for some tyrant fucking it up. "I...worked on this plan for an entire career...and...he just...he tweeted it out."
posted by rhizome at 7:23 PM on October 14 [18 favorites]


Washington Post:
Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to a person familiar with her testimony.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 PM on October 14 [41 favorites]


WaPo: 9 p.m.: Schiff praises Yovanovitch, Hill
“They are adamantly nonpartisan,” Schiff said. “They are career public servants. And I wish that half the people in the administration or out of the administration would show the courage they’ve shown.”

In the interview with moderator Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, Schiff covered a wide range of topics related to the impeachment inquiry. [...] He said that lawmakers “are going to be releasing all of these transcripts” of the depositions.

[...] At one point during the interview, Schiff said he doesn’t known whether there is an audio recording of Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky — on either the U.S. or the Ukranian side. Kristof then joked: “President Zelensky, if you’re watching, send me the audio.”
9:20 p.m.: Investigators mull whether to question Bolton
In a sign the impeachment inquiry is widening, investigators are discussing whether to question Bolton, according to people familiar with the matter. Bolton was Hill’s direct superior at the National Security Council.
posted by katra at 8:12 PM on October 14 [10 favorites]


Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump

Well this seems bad, what is Rudy thinking? His character arc is beyond Shakespeare.

investigators are discussing whether to question Bolton

Bolton is probably the least reliable narrator in this stew, regardless of what he poops into it.
posted by rhizome at 8:43 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]


John Bolton, voice of reason.

Bolton, unlike Trump, hates the Russians (and Chinese, by the way), one of the reasons he quit. Bolton could see that Trump and Guiliani's interference was undermining the Europhiles in Ukraine and helping the Putin faction.

It isn't that Bolton is the voice of reason. He could care less about the corruption. It just wasn't the flavor of corruption he liked.
posted by JackFlash at 8:44 PM on October 14 [12 favorites]


Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to the testimony.
Uhhhh... What?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:49 PM on October 14 [16 favorites]


Trump’s former Russia expert to speak before Congress Monday. Here’s her thoughts about Putin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Dan Drollette Jr, October 13, 2019:
...
A former Brookings Institution fellow and widely respected national security expert, [Fiona] Hill has sometimes been described as a “Russia hawk” in the press. Or as CNN Politics put it: “Hill’s views sometimes seemed at odds with Trump’s own desire to improve relations with the strongman leader whom Trump, as a candidate, often spoke of admiringly.”

Hill is an expert on the Kremlin, a fluent Russian speaker, and a clear-eyed critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin—whom she profiled in 2013 for a 390-page biography titled “Mr. Putin, Operative in the Kremlin” and co-authored with Clifford G. Gaddy.

While the country waits for her testimony, we thought this a good time to offer readers another chance to read the essay about Putin that Hill wrote for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in April 2016, or about a year before she joined the National Security Council. The opening paragraph:
The West is at an inflection point in its relations with Russia; the stakes for having an accurate understanding of its president, Vladimir Putin, have never been higher. A misreading of this man – now one of the most consequential international political figures and challengers to the US-led world order since the end of the Cold War – could have catastrophic consequences. Russia’s 8,000 nuclear weapons (and the vehicles to deliver them to any point on the globe) underscore the huge risks of not understanding who Putin is, what he wants, how he thinks, and why. Where do his ideas and conceptions come from? How does Putin look at the outside world? Why did he annex Crimea in 2014 and intervene in Syria in 2015? What does he know about the West? What does he think about the United States? These are all critical questions.
The full essay is available here [*].
*Putin: The one-man show the West doesn’t understand, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Fiona Hill, April 13, 2016. Here's a brief excerpt:
Where Putin represents a real break from the Russian or Soviet pasts, and an anomaly in any international context, is the way he approaches running the country. As a former KGB agent, Putin operates very differently from a president who climbed the ranks of a political party – including both of his predecessors, first post-Soviet Russian President Boris Yeltsin and last Secretary General of the Soviet Communist Party and President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev. Operatives like Putin usually have political oversight, political handlers, and an institutional frame. Putin himself was subject to these constraints in his previous career.

Today, Putin has no such constraints. There are no significant checks and balances on his presidential power. There is no larger institutional arrangement, like a Soviet politburo or political party, standing behind him. The Russian presidency and the Russian constitution are essentially fused, with each guaranteeing the other. Other state institutions, from the cabinet of ministers to the Russian Duma (parliament), have been systematically downgraded to be little more than rubber stamps for presidential proposals. Putin is the political oversight. He is the operative who runs himself.
I think The Donald is just a little jealous.
posted by cenoxo at 9:03 PM on October 14 [21 favorites]


I do not understand why the news coverage of Trump's abandonment of the Kurds isn't citing Putin's interest in this much more strongly. NYT: Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. WTF? No, he followed Putin's wishes, as channeled through Erdogan. THIS is treasonous, impeachable behavior.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:13 PM on October 14 [23 favorites]


In the Syria and Turkey thread, there is news coverage about Putin's interests, e.g. The Daily 202: Trump hands Putin another win with Syria pullout (WaPo), which rounds up a lot of reports, including:
[...] “Putin likely can't believe his luck,” a Western military official from a NATO member country, who recently served in Syria as part of the anti-ISIS coalition, told Business Insider. [...] “Putin continues to get whatever he wants and generally doesn't even have to do much,” an unnamed NATO official also told Insider. “He got to sit back and watch the Turks and the Americans unravel five years of success and not only did it not cost him anything, he didn't even have to try to make it happen. Small wonder he'd interfere on Trump's side in an election.”

[...] “Trump tried to keep his talks with Putin at Helsinki last year secret from his staff and the world, but Russia's president held up the checklist for the cameras. Syria was on it,” Julia Davis recalls in the Daily Beast: “Trump is moving down Putin’s wish list, fulfilling the Kremlin’s aims at a rapid pace. He is chipping away at U.S. sanctions against Russia, deepening America’s internal divisions on the basis of race, faith, sexual orientation and political affiliation, vocally undermining confidence in our elections, intelligence agencies and institutions, all the while empowering our foreign adversaries and undermining NATO alliances. Trump’s claims that Ukraine—not Russia—is somehow responsible for the 2016 election interference fall right in line with conspiracy theories the Kremlin has been propagating for years.
posted by katra at 9:24 PM on October 14 [19 favorites]


Karen Freifeld and Aram Roston (Reuters): Rudy got half a million dollars from Fraud Guarantee: "The New York Times reported last week that Parnas had told associates he paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for what Giuliani said was business and legal advice. Giuliani said for the first time on Monday that the total amount was $500,000."
posted by mbrubeck at 10:19 PM on October 14 [6 favorites]


Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to a person familiar with her testimony.

Why the hell is this happening behind closed doors?? Unless Democrats think that Senate conviction is really going to happen (no way), the fundamental political benefit of this is holding dramatic hearings that chip away at Trump's approval, a tenth of a point at a time. There is no good reason this should be muffled away behind anonymous summaries, memos, and partial quotations from memory. It's a huge waste of the main political benefit of the impeachment process.
posted by chortly at 10:57 PM on October 14 [6 favorites]


Why the hell is this happening behind closed doors??

NYT: Nick Fandos, who was on Capitol Hill today, explained to me why Democrats are doing so much out of public view:
The Democrats are trying to collect as much information as possible as quickly as possible. Big made-for-TV hearings are a chaotic and clunky way to try to build a body of evidence. They allow witnesses to line up their stories in advance and could easily backfire on Democrats trying to build a public narrative in real time.

Most congressional veterans would tell you that from a fact-finding point of view, you are better off following the Watergate model: Investigate in private first, then choreograph a series of public hearings that recreate for the public what the investigation found. Republicans, nevertheless, are accusing Democrats of impeaching a president in secret.
posted by katra at 11:16 PM on October 14 [46 favorites]


Uhhhh... What?

'Drug deal' is a colloquialism in govt and military. It's an off-the-books backscratch deal, usually between organizitions. Primarily implying skirting some established convention for collaborative action, where the convention is bureaucratically, technically, or legally 'complicated', or there is a pressing timeline.

e.g. "We have a server hosted in their ops center, but keep it on the DL. It's a total drug deal."
posted by j_curiouser at 11:20 PM on October 14 [44 favorites]


Big made-for-TV hearings are a chaotic and clunky way to try to build a body of evidence... Investigate in private first, then choreograph a series of public hearings that recreate for the public what the investigation found.

These are two very different rationales. Building up a body of evidence is fine for a trial, but makes much less sense if you think there is no chance of conviction in the Senate and the main payoff is in the House hearings, not the House vote. On the other hand, if they are planning a series of public hearings on a grand scale recapitulating all this with the juiciest tidbits from the more important witnesses, that's great -- but to be honest, I wouldn't entirely trust the leadership to follow through on this even if they were publicly stating that was their intention, much less if that intention is just being inferred by pundits and outsiders. Saving powder and keeping it dry for the grand finale is almost never the best strategy in a rapidly-shifting world.
posted by chortly at 11:41 PM on October 14 [4 favorites]


I would also assume it's easier to get a witness to agree to testify, when their boss (or ex-boss) has ordered them not to, if they aren't worried about said boss watching them live on his TV box. If I were going to stick my neck out the way these witnesses are (despite there being a legal imperative for them to do so) I would feel much more comfortable for safety reasons if it was behind closed doors and not live broadcast to every Trump goon with an assault rifle.
posted by threeturtles at 3:05 AM on October 15 [24 favorites]


It's the opposite of the Mueller report - focused, short, fast, and as insulated as possible from Republican interference and media spin. I feel like, for once, Democrats are ahead of Republicans in forming the narrative. For once, the facts are coming out too fast for the spin machine to twist.

It's kind of crazy that it needs to be done this way, but when every institution is broken other than the small part of congress doing the investigation, it makes sense. I don't trust the Times to report on open hearings. I don't trust Republicans to comment on proceedings. I don't trust the Justice Department to be a part of this. I don't want to see what Fox News will do.
posted by xammerboy at 6:03 AM on October 15 [31 favorites]


As far as Syria and impeachment are concerned, mismanagement of foreign affairs is supposed to be off the table as far as impeachment is concerned. The founders considered adding mismanagement to high crimes and misdemeanors but purposefully left it out, thinking it could be easily politically abused.

I still think Pelosi should be calling for Trump to be removed for it. Trump calls for people to be impeached all the time, whether they technically can be in the way he's talking about or not, and it plays politically. If you need to stretch your case, argue that Trump literally sold out Syria for personal interests.

Do something! I'm also confused as to why, instead of reporting that Trump is going on his gut, the NyTimes isn't reporting instead that we don't know why Trump is invading Syria. None of his stated reasons make any sense. We aren't pulling troops out of Syria. At least point out that Trump obviously isn't being straight with the American people.
posted by xammerboy at 6:13 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


I still think Pelosi should be calling for Trump to be removed for it.

I understand that Oversight Committee is busy, but yeah Democrats should definitely be on TV talking about "Scheduling hearings into why Donald Trump betrayed our allies?"
posted by mikelieman at 6:33 AM on October 15 [11 favorites]


I'm ok with letting the Democrats stay focused on this. It's sad that the NYT is so compromised they can't ever stop insisting that, however bad Trump is, the Democrats are out of touch/in disarray/just as corrupt. But that's their schtick, except for a few worthwhile writers, so whatever.

I understand that Oversight Committee is busy, but yeah Democrats should definitely be on TV talking about "Scheduling hearings into why Donald Trump betrayed our allies?"

Trump's weird inverted superpower has always been, he's committing crimes and offenses so rapidly that his opponents get paralyzed by it; how can you tell what to focus on when new things happen literally every day? If you try to attack them all, you'll run out of hours in the day. He's counting on that, because it's been very effective.

The only way to fight him is to do what the Democrats are doing now, pick a vulnerable spot and keep poking at it. As it turns out, that is also shaking loose a whole lot of other stuff, but still: keep poking.

Doesn't mean you can't attack him later on the rest, and catalogue all his crimes, and I'm sure a lot of folks are like me, worried that if we take him down for one thing, he'll never face justice for the rest. But honestly: he's done too many crimes to ever face justice for all of them. He won't live long enough. Our focus needs to be on neutralizing him; getting him out of office, sending him to prison, getting his crooked family out of power and neutralized also, going after his network.
posted by emjaybee at 6:51 AM on October 15 [64 favorites]


I'm ok with letting the Democrats stay focused on this. It's sad that the NYT is so compromised they can't ever stop insisting that, however bad Trump is, the Democrats are out of touch/in disarray/just as corrupt. But that's their schtick, except for a few worthwhile writers, so whatever.

There's a difference between functionally objective and visibly objective. If the NYT was functionally objective it would look like a liberal rag because a Republican administrations on the whole are more ridiculously corrupt, caring about the ends more than the means. To appear visibly objective, it must always have scandal in equal and opposite proportion which means they have to go looking for shit to complain about on the left side.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:04 AM on October 15 [11 favorites]


The fancy word for both-sides-ism is "fallacy of the golden mean".
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:18 AM on October 15 [18 favorites]


The fancy word for both-sides-ism is "fallacy of the golden mean".

And the way the so-called "liberal media" expresses this fallacy is to exchange objective reporting with balanced reporting.

Thus the media can continue to air the utterly discredited views of climate deniers and supply-side economists, and convey the Trump Administration's claim that their tax cut would lead to more revenue and lower deficits without noting the objective fact that it's never worked that way before.

Besides being cowardly, it's an intellectually lazy approach. They can air any nonsensical claim, follow up with a "critics say" [citation of objective reality] and then dust their hands off and call it a day, without caring that they put the false claim in a position of privilege by citing it first and weakened its refutation by reducing it to a he-said, she-said.
posted by Gelatin at 7:27 AM on October 15 [35 favorites]


Trump Suspects a Spiteful John Bolton Is Behind Some of the Ukraine Leaks (Daily Beast)
Trump fears the leaks are now coming from the people he chose to serve—and that only increases the paranoia currently infecting the West Wing.
“[Trump] was clearly implying [it, saying] something to the effect of, ‘Oh, gee, I wonder who the source on that could be,’” this source said, referring to the president’s speculation. Bolton, for his part, told The Daily Beast last month that allegations that he was a leaker in Trump’s midst are “flatly incorrect.” The former national security adviser—who departed the administration last month on awful, mutually bitter terms—is working on a book about his time serving Trump, and has “a lot to dish,” one knowledgeable source noted.
‘Everything becomes a conspiracy theory’: Trump leans into spurious claims for impeachment defense (Politico)
As president, Trump has promoted conspiracy theories since his inauguration centered on the idea of the deep state, the Clinton emails or the alleged wiretapping of his New York City campaign quarters by Obama’s federal government. He’s also promoted the idea Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to help the Democrats: a charge Trump’s former top homeland security adviser recently publicly debunked, citing no evidence for the allegation.

Former administration officials say it’s now futile to try to talk Trump out of these theories — with logic, data, common sense or even government intelligence — once he latches onto an idea. [...] The differences between Trump and other presidents is that he shares his conspiratorially minded, us-versus-them worldview far more publicly and prolifically, said Timothy Naftali, the founding director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Americans did not know Nixon’s worldview until tapes of his Oval Office conversations surfaced. “Trump and Nixon share this belief that the structure of government is working against them,” Naftali said. “Nixon’s conspiracy theories sent him down a rabbit hole that destroyed his presidency. We’ll see what happens to President Trump.”
posted by katra at 8:15 AM on October 15 [7 favorites]


Trump's former Russia aide met with White House lawyer over Giuliani (Politico)
President Donald Trump’s former top Russia aide Fiona Hill told House impeachment investigators on Monday that she had at least two meetings with a National Security Council lawyer about Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to convince Ukrainian officials to investigate the president’s political rivals, according to a person who was in the room for the testimony. [...] Hill testified that she met with Eisenberg briefly on July 10, the same day she attended a meeting with Ukrainian officials at the White House. Hill said she had a longer meeting with Eisenberg on July 11, the person added.

[...] The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about Hill’s testimony, said Hill became passionate more than once about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. She expressed concern that the United States was not doing enough to combat Russia’s aggression, and that it was opening the door for other countries to do the same, the person said.

Hill’s lawyer, Lee Wolosky, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New York Times first reported Bolton’s comments, as relayed by Hill, but the details of her two meetings with Eisenberg were not previously known.
And as a follow up to the discussion about why these preliminary hearings are being conducted in private, protecting classified information also seems like an important consideration, due to the subject matter.
posted by katra at 8:28 AM on October 15 [11 favorites]


And as a follow up to the discussion about why these preliminary hearings are being conducted in private, protecting classified information also seems like an important consideration, due to the subject matter.

All the more reason not to allow a random, Trump-aligned congressman with a cell phone not on any of the relevant committees in the room. I'm assuming there are members of both parties involved. That should be the "representation" Trump should need.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:33 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


State Department official to face questions about Ukraine and Giuliani (WaPo)
George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, faced questions Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump, a key witness on whether Rudolph W. Giuliani tried to push out the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. [...] internal documents turned over to Congress by the State Department inspector general in early October preview what Kent might tell lawmakers: The messages, which were obtained by The Washington Post, show that Kent thought Yovanovitch had become the target of a “classic disinformation operation” — and that he raised concerns about a smear to his superiors in hopes that they’d defend their own.

[...] Kent, according to the documents, tried to get his bosses to counter the smear. He suggested that the department could push back by “circling in red all the misspellings and grammar mistakes and reposting it,” as the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had done in similar counter-propaganda campaigns.

[...] Lawmakers are bound to ask Kent about whom he contacted about his concerns. According to the inspector general’s documents, he took them to Philip Reeker, a U.S. diplomat in Europe, and later forwarded them to the No. 3 official at the department, David Hale, and State Department counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a close confidant of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
posted by katra at 8:40 AM on October 15 [4 favorites]


That should be the "representation" Trump should need.

IIRC, Donald J. Trump is registered to vote in NY-12, so his Representative -- the only one he should have in a Nation of Laws -- is Carolyn Maloney.
posted by mikelieman at 8:45 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]


If, like me, you're having trouble keeping all the parties to this clusterfrell straight, Buzzfeed News has you covered: Who's Who in the Trump Impeachment Saga.
posted by suelac at 10:17 AM on October 15 [8 favorites]




Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine: The (Full) Case for Impeachment A menu of high crimes and misdemeanors.
The crimes for which impeachment is the prescribed punishment are notoriously undefined. And that’s for a reason: Presidential powers are vast, and it’s impossible to design laws to cover every possible abuse of the office’s authority. House Democrats have calculated that an impeachment focused narrowly on the Ukraine scandal will make the strongest legal case against President Trump. But that’s not Trump’s only impeachable offense. A full accounting would include a wide array of dangerous and authoritarian acts — 82, to be precise. His violations fall into seven broad categories of potentially impeachable misconduct that should be weighed, if not by the House, then at least by history.

I. Abusing Power for Political Gain
II. Mishandling Classified Information
III. Undermining Duly Enacted Federal Law
IV. Obstruction of Congress
V. Obstruction of Justice
VI. Profiting From Office
VII. Fomenting Violence
posted by tonycpsu at 10:30 AM on October 15 [19 favorites]


Who's Who in the Trump Impeachment Saga.

I think it might be smart investing to go long on vellum.
posted by srboisvert at 10:37 AM on October 15 [7 favorites]


And as a follow up to the discussion about why these preliminary hearings are being conducted in private, protecting classified information also seems like an important consideration, due to the subject matter.

All the more reason not to allow a random, Trump-aligned congressman with a cell phone not on any of the relevant committees in the room. I'm assuming there are members of both parties involved. That should be the "representation" Trump should need.


If such access had been allowed, it would have created an opportunity for Trump and his team to comment publicly on specific topics ahead of the committees, letting them take greater control of the story.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:35 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


In general, do these Congressional committees follow any legal guidelines or procedures for their investigations, collection/preservation of evidence/testimony, etc.? Who administers this information?
posted by cenoxo at 11:48 AM on October 15


Who's Who in the Trump Impeachment Saga.
🎵 How much is that bunny in the headlights ? 🎵
posted by y2karl at 11:53 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]


soundguy99: White House accidentally sends Ukraine talking points to Democrats again

This is the Trump Administration making an effort to be bipartisan! (I'm sure this joke was made when they did this the first time, too.)


katra: One individual with firsthand knowledge of how the Trump calls with foreign leaders are handled said the president “hates” such “pre-briefs” and frequently has refused to do them. Trump doesn’t like written background materials either, preferring to handle the calls himself, often in the morning from the residence. Occasionally, while on the phone with foreign heads of state, Trump has handed the receiver to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, so she can talk with the leader, according to this individual.

In case anyone is looking to add this to the pile of "proof that Trump's mental capacity is declining," remember that In intelligence briefings, Trump prefers ‘as little as possible’ (MSNBC, January 18, 2017)
One of the unexpected developments of the transition period has been Donald Trump’s disinterest in daily intelligence briefings. President Obama, immediately after the election, ordered the relevant agencies to make available to the president-elect the same information that’s delivered to the Oval Office, but in a bit of a surprise, Trump largely blew off the information.

Last month, Fox News’ Chris Wallace noted reports that the Republican was only receiving one briefing a week, instead of seven. Trump didn’t deny the accounts, but said it didn’t matter because he’s “like, a smart person.” He added, “I get it when I need it.”
And less than a month later, it's clear he wants even less to read: Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down (New York Times, Feb. 12, 2017)
And while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.

“The president likes maps,” one official said.

ryanrs: in russian white house, torn up evidence burns you

Also, something he's done for quite a while. Meet the guys who tape Trump's papers back together -- The president's unofficial 'filing system' involves tearing up documents into pieces, even when they're supposed to be preserved. (Politico, June 10, 2018)

I'm guessing that at least half of his presidential record will be taped up pieces of paper.


But that's all old news: Donald Trump tweeted that the Fox impeachment poll was 'incorrect.' It's not. (CNN, Oct. 15, 2019)

Trump's claim: more Dems were polled than should have been. In fact, the increased number and percentage of self-identifying Democrats is a function of when and how they were polled:
Because so many "independents" are actually very likely to consistently support one party when gently nudged, pollsters do just that. They first ask which party you identify with and then follow up with a "if you had to choose a party" question. Some people -- a small number -- say they are true independents. Most side with one party.
And the closer we get to an election, the more people will identify with one party or another.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:59 AM on October 15 [8 favorites]


In general, do these Congressional committees follow any legal guidelines or procedures for their investigations, collection/preservation of evidence/testimony, etc.? Who administers this information?

Well, there's the Rules of the House, Rule XI covers "PROCEDURES OF COMMITTEES AND UNFINISHED BUSINESS", and begins on p. 557, ( p 572 of the PDF )

Hearing Procedures begin on PDF p 598
posted by mikelieman at 12:01 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


This just in, "Giuliani says he won't comply with a congressional subpoena ":
President Donald's Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told ABC News on Tuesday he is not complying with a congressional subpoena.

Giuliani told ABC News “if they enforce it then we will see what happens.”

Giuliani went on to tell ABC News he is no longer retaining the services of Jon Sale, who was acting as his attorney for this matter. Giuliani said that if Congress seeks to enforce a subpoena, then he will retain counsel.

[...]

Tuesday was the deadline for Giuliani to comply with a wide-ranging subpoena from three of the House committees working on the growing impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
posted by mhum at 12:11 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]


Giuliani told ABC News “if they enforce it then we will see what happens.”

He's saying he's counting on Attorney General Barr to decline to enforce it.

The House Sergeant at Arms option (backed by the DC metro police) looks better and better. I doubt Giuliani has secret service protection.
posted by Gelatin at 12:16 PM on October 15 [24 favorites]


Giuliani told ABC News “if they enforce it then we will see what happens.”

My friends, I honestly think we might see a frogmarch.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:16 PM on October 15 [34 favorites]


“if they enforce it then we will see what happens.”

An adaptation of Trump's "wait until the end of the show, anything can happen" rhetoric, turned sour. Now it sounds lore like not-showing-my-hand gangster talk. How safe it feels to walk on thin ice. We'll see...
posted by Namlit at 12:17 PM on October 15


Guardian: Warnings began about Giuliani and Ukraine many months ago - report
Kent said he warned colleagues as far back as March, the New York Times reports, about Donald Trump’s personal lawyer/human “hand grenade” Rudy Giuliani’s role in what Kent described as a “disinformation” campaign - using a Ukrainian prosecutor to smear Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race, Joe Biden, and the ousted ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. [...]
Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) NEW: GEORGE KENT, a career @StateDept official who is now testifying on the Hill, warned colleagues as far back as March about RUDY GIULIANI's role in what he called a “disinformation” campaign using a Ukrainian prosecutor to smear BIDEN, YOVANOVITCH, etc. https://t.co/KvMLoN2AoY
October 15, 2019
posted by katra at 12:31 PM on October 15 [14 favorites]


Warnings began about Giuliani and Ukraine many months ago - report

Anybody else worried that Rudy is being set up as the fall guy? That Trump is gonna turn on him and say "It was all Rudy! Rudy did all the bad stuff, I'm innocent!" and the GOP will fall in line with this?
posted by dnash at 12:41 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


And Chait nicely summarizes how what Trump is doing in foreign policy somehow mysteriously seems to benefit Russia.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:41 PM on October 15 [9 favorites]


Giuliani went on to tell ABC News he is no longer retaining the services of Jon Sale, who was acting as his attorney for this matter. Giuliani said that if Congress seeks to enforce a subpoena, then he will retain counsel.

I think this was too easily overlooked. Rudy was too batshit insane that his lawyer pulled the ripcord.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:49 PM on October 15 [12 favorites]


Anybody else worried that Rudy is being set up as the fall guy? That Trump is gonna turn on him and say "It was all Rudy! Rudy did all the bad stuff, I'm innocent!" and the GOP will fall in line with this?
posted by dnash at 3:41 PM on October 15


It's funny, I was about to type this exact question, but got distracted by work and came back to see you'd raised it. It certainly seems incorrect to say that Giuliani is a *witting* fall guy, but fall guy he may be. At the same time, we have the call summary implicating Trump directly. Hard to see how he pins everything on Giuliani at this stage.
posted by scarylarry at 12:58 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Anybody else worried that Rudy is being set up as the fall guy?

Considering that Rudy was at least partially responsible for directly enabling and encouraging a lot of this stuff, not really. But this is a situation where, if any justice is served, there will be numerous fall guys.
posted by wondermouse at 12:59 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]


I mean I'd be shocked if Trump didn't try to throw half of his posse under the bus by the time his term is over, but only one person needs to worry about getting impeached or losing re-election and that's Trump.
posted by BeginAgain at 1:02 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


Technically, Trump and Pence.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:09 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


I'm going to a town hall with my House rep on Saturday and if this is still dangling in four days I'm going to be the one yelling "Inherent contempt!" in a crowded middle school.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:10 PM on October 15 [32 favorites]


If Giuliani takes the blame he can be pardoned by Trump. It would probably play well among Trump supporters, too: brave patriot Giuliani "did what he had to do" in investigating Biden's corruption, so the President magnanimously pardons him for doing things that were morally right if legally wrong. And if the pardon includes other matters … or even if it only arguably includes them, due to some sloppy drafting … well, that would be a substantial bar to prosecution by anti-President forces and no more than this great patriot deserves.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:12 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]


Anybody else worried that Rudy is being set up as the fall guy?

Only in that it may result in Trump getting off the hook, and potentially reelected.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:23 PM on October 15


Trump’s impeachment barricade crumbles (Politico)
Key witnesses are ignoring Trump and delivering bombshell testimony in Democrats’ Ukraine investigation.
As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, a growing number of witnesses this week are set to describe their own role in the controversy, even as the White House has vowed not to engage with House Democrats’ “illegitimate” impeachment effort. The Democratic Caucus is set to meet Tuesday night after a two-week recess to discuss the impeachment inquiry. [...]

“The walls are closing in. The details we are learning about the shadow foreign policy operation Trump has been running to benefit himself personally are stunning,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “Why have a democracy, if we allow this to happen without consequence?”
posted by katra at 1:35 PM on October 15 [20 favorites]


Fall guy or not, Rudy doing a perp walk would make for a very satisfying story arc given his use of public shaming during his federal-prosecutor days.
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:36 PM on October 15 [17 favorites]


Hey, does anyone have a link to an updated/updating list of the Trump Administration's arrests/indictments/convictions? It's getting hard to keep track of who's done what.
posted by Myca at 1:38 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


@joe_inAustralia - you're suggesting that Giuliani is being set up to be Trump's Oliver North? Interesting idea. I hope some people remember Iran Contra days and have a good contingency plan for that.
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 2:01 PM on October 15 [7 favorites]


First off, don’t give him immunity...
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:36 PM on October 15 [10 favorites]


Hey, does anyone have a link to an updated/updating list of the Trump Administration's arrests/indictments/convictions? It's getting hard to keep track of who's done what.

A Running Tab Of Mueller Investigation Convictions & Indictments (Medium), with context on each.

And a few more names from Time: Here Are All of the Indictments, Guilty Pleas and Convictions From Robert Mueller's Investigation

Both have been updated in 2019, but neither of these include anything from the current Ukraine scandal and impeachment efforts.

[And then there's the list of Trump administration dismissals and resignations on Wikipedia, but that's another thing all-together]
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]


Related FPP: Onward in Ohio: A Wish for Words that Work
On October 15, the Democrats meet for the fourth time, starting at 8 p.m. ET in Westerville, Ohio, for a debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times, on the most crowded debate stage of this election cycle so far.
posted by katra at 3:21 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


I don't think pardoning Guliani for helping Trump commit crimes plays out well for Trump. Reminder that a pardon carries with it implicit guilt, so Trump pardoning him would effectively be admitting to his own crimes.
posted by Twain Device at 4:22 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Live updates: Pence, Giuliani will not cooperate with impeachment inquiry (WaPo)
7:00 p.m.: ‘Three amigos’ were appointed to run Ukraine policy

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting this spring in which officials determined to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels, putting Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in charge of it instead, Kent told lawmakers Tuesday.

Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, told House investigators that he was told to “lay low” and defer to the trio, who called themselves the “three amigos,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters Tuesday.

6:30 p.m.: Sessions subpoenaed in New York over contacts with Giuliani, associates


A federal grand jury in New York has issued a subpoena to Sessions seeking records and other information on his interactions with Giuliani and two Giuliani associates charged last week with a scheme to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians, according to two people familiar with the investigation.
posted by katra at 4:29 PM on October 15 [14 favorites]


those dumb motherfuckers probably had a secret "three amigos" handshake and a pseudo-military challenge coin
posted by ryanrs at 5:52 PM on October 15 [20 favorites]




Rudolph W. Giuliani privately urged President Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States

Isn't this part of the reason Michael Flynn and his partner Bijan Rafiekian are going to jail - unregistered lobbyists for Turkey?
posted by JackFlash at 6:32 PM on October 15 [11 favorites]


Politico: "As part of a plea deal cut in 2017 with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, the government agreed not to prosecute Flynn for anything related to the Turkey-focused lobbying."

Politico: "U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga, who presided over the weeklong trial of Bijan Rafiekian in July in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that prosecutors put forward insufficient proof to sustain the jury’s finding that Rafiekian knowingly operated as a Turkish government agent and intentionally failed to notify U.S. officials about his work. [...] If Trenga’s ruling stands, Rafiekian could not be retried. However, the judge said that if an appeals court overturns his rulings about the evidence, he would still grant the defendant a new trial."
posted by katra at 6:43 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]


Prosecutors flag that DOJ is not in sync with Trump on tax returns claim (Politico)
New York prosecutors pressing for access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns are drawing attention to the Justice Department’s refusal to back up a claim by Trump’s personal attorneys that he is entirely immune from the state-run criminal justice process. [...]

“Given the DOJ’s own recent investigations, prosecutions, and convictions involving Appellant and his affiliates, including the prosecution of Michael Cohen, in which Appellant was referenced as an unindicted co-conspirator, the DOJ cannot (and does not) join in Appellant’s claim to an absolute immunity,” Vance and his colleagues wrote in a submission to the 2nd Circuit. “Appellant’s aggressive immunity claim here is particularly hollow in view of his failure to raise it in these recent investigations and prosecutions.” [...]

Vance’s team also scoffed at arguments from Trump and the Justice Department that impeachment is the mechanism the Constitution prescribes for misconduct by a president. The local prosecutors noted that Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Congress last week defying its demands for information in an impeachment inquiry.

“The reality is that Appellant has refused to participate in the very impeachment process that he presents here as the bulwark against placing a president above the law… His core position on every one of these matters is that the United States Presidency places him beyond the reach of the law,” Vance’s office wrote.
posted by katra at 7:01 PM on October 15 [30 favorites]


ProPublica: Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies
"The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers 'versions of fraud.'"

<8O
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:58 AM on October 16 [62 favorites]


ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.
posted by box at 5:21 AM on October 16 [28 favorites]


katra: “The reality is that Appellant has refused to participate in the very impeachment process that he presents here as the bulwark against placing a president above the law… His core position on every one of these matters is that the United States Presidency places him beyond the reach of the law,” Vance’s office wrote.

QFT. Bolded for emphasis.

And it's not stopping: White House scrambles to slow impeachment push as explosive secrets spill behind closed doors (Stephen Collinson for CNN, October 16, 2019)
The White House is launching a new effort to slow the speeding Democratic impeachment push, but its noncooperation strategy is being constantly thwarted by a daily stream of explosive secrets being spilled behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

Current and former officials are painting an ever more damning picture of a wider than originally perceived scheme by President Donald Trump and his crew to pressure Ukraine that they warned could amount to a trampling of US law.

Vice President Mike Pence launched a new effort Tuesday to bolster White House hopes of stalling the House inquiry long enough for Trump to turn public opinion against it. He refused to turn over documents related to Trump's now notorious call with the President of Ukraine on July 25.

But White House officials are becoming increasingly frustrated at revelations from the closed-door hearings. Given that there is no presidential counsel in the room, they struggle to frame a defense, learning about almost daily bombshells only from news reports, CNN reported on Tuesday.
Pro tip: to avoid bombshells, stop making bombs.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:08 AM on October 16 [43 favorites]


Back to Watergate: from my memory at the time, Nixon tax returns leaking hurt him as much as the Watergate revelations. Nixon paid less taxes than my single mother who was just squeaking supporting three kids at that time.

One of the more egregious offenses: Nixon deducted (I believe it was) $5000 for gas for his electric golf carts.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:26 AM on October 16 [22 favorites]


While there's little doubt that if the Trump Administration actually admitted what it's been doing, the jig would be up, I don't think his stonewalling is intended to delay impeachment. Indeed, given that the House has basically declared it would impeach Trump if he stonewalled, it seems a guarantee. It seems more a strategy to deprive public opinion about impeachment of as much oxygen as possible for as long as possible.

But the whistleblower complaint seems to have sparked the same cascade of events as Butterfield's revelations of the White House tapes during Watergate -- events are no spiraling beyond the ability of the White House to control (never great to begin with, the administration is reacting, mostly by flailing and increasingly heated appeals to Trump's base).
posted by Gelatin at 7:28 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]


It seems more a strategy to deprive public opinion about impeachment of as much oxygen as possible for as long as possible.

Hopefully, this will lead to a flashover.
posted by hat_eater at 7:42 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]


Pompeo adviser [Michael McKinley, who resigned last week from a 37-year career,] to decry politicization of State Dept. in impeachment probe testimony (WaPo)
“The unwillingness of State Department leadership to defend Yovanovitch or interfere with an obviously partisan effort to intervene in our relationship with Ukraine for the political benefit of the president was too much for him,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

McKinley’s last day was Friday, though he had informed Pompeo more than a week earlier that he was resigning. The split has been bitter, as shown by the absence of a statement from Pompeo expressing gratitude for McKinley’s 37 years of service.

....

“They fired [Yovanovitch] in the most dishonorable way imaginable,” said one former State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal processes.

....

“It is so indicative of how fragile [Mike Pompeo]’s relationship with the president is, even though he is the favored one in the national security environment,” said the person familiar with McKinley’s testimony, stressing that this was a personal observation, not McKinley’s. “The secretary felt he could not praise Mike or thank him publicly. Just as he could not stand up for Yovanovitch who was obviously the subject of a diplomatic mugging.”
posted by box at 7:54 AM on October 16 [24 favorites]


Guardian: Third Rudy Giuliani associate arrested at JFK airport
A Florida man wanted in a campaign finance case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani is in federal custody. Federal authorities say they took David Correia into custody Wednesday at Kennedy Airport in New York City.

Correia is named in an indictment with two Giuliani associates arrested last week on charges they made illegal contributions to a congressman and a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump.
Another man is arrested in probe of Giuliani associates (AP)
posted by katra at 9:09 AM on October 16 [16 favorites]


A Florida man wanted in a campaign finance case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani is in federal custody. Federal authorities say they took David Correia into custody Wednesday at Kennedy Airport in New York City.

Hah. "man wanted". Why do we always go easy on the terms when we talk about white men even in progressive rags like The Guardian. He's an indicted co-conspirator who went to ground six days ago when the other three were arrested. He was a fugitive and he was arrested trying to flee the country.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:17 AM on October 16 [6 favorites]


From the AP:
A Florida man wanted in a campaign finance case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani is in federal custody after flying Wednesday to Kennedy Airport in New York City to turn himself in, federal authorities said.
posted by katra at 9:21 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]


Why do we always go easy on the terms when we talk about white men even in progressive rags
Maybe because progressive rags believe in due process and "wanted" is actually the accurate term for someone who hasn't yet been charged or convicted?
posted by neroli at 9:25 AM on October 16 [16 favorites]


Mulvaney emerges as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure Ukraine (WaPo)
[...] current and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, said Mulvaney contributed substantially to the unfolding political crisis, both through his connection to key events related to the attempt to pressure Kiev and through his general approach to the chief of staff job, which was driven by a perceived reluctance to displease the president.

U.S. officials said Mulvaney met frequently with Sondland and that details of their discussions were kept from then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and other officials who were raising internal concerns about the hidden Ukraine agenda. Mulvaney also tolerated meetings between Trump and Giuliani at a time when Giuliani was brazenly declaring in interviews his intent to enlist Kiev in efforts to substantiate conspiracy theories about the 2016 election and revive seemingly dormant probes that could prove damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Perhaps most significantly, Mulvaney — at the direction of the president — placed a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in the weeks before Trump used a July 25 phone call to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue Giuliani’s agenda.
posted by katra at 9:28 AM on October 16 [13 favorites]


From ProPublica's bombshell analysis of apparent tax fraud in Trump's New York returns: ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records.

I'd laugh so hard if Trump's impulse to be a cheapskate was what wound up torpedoing his impulse to cover up his wrongdoing.

Speaking of benefit of the doubt, by the way, we now have what appears to be clear-cut evidence of tax fraud (and/or lending fraud) by Trump in the public domain. It's high time Democrats and other loyal American point out in the media that Trump's obvious desperation to hide his returns is a good indication that they'd reveal evidence of wrongdoing.

More evidence, that is.
posted by Gelatin at 9:28 AM on October 16 [24 favorites]


I propose that "Guiliani" refer to the act mixing your own sliced off fingers with finely cut vegetables and hoping either nobody notices or says anything.
posted by srboisvert at 9:32 AM on October 16 [15 favorites]


He was a fugitive and he was arrested trying to flee the country.

Not according to the AP:
"A Florida man wanted in a campaign finance case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani is in federal custody after flying Wednesday to Kennedy Airport in New York City to turn himself in, federal authorities said."

I think "Florida man wanted" will do just fine for now. He's in custody, which is the main thing.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:09 AM on October 16


Mike Pompeo’s Subordinates Are Calling His Bluff in the Impeachment Inquiry (Jeremy Stahl, Slate)
They’re defying his orders and testifying against Trump.

Pompeo’s empty threats, along with the administration’s bluster demanding total obstruction of Congress’ impeachment inquiry, are based on radical legal theories that would place the president above the law.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:13 AM on October 16 [28 favorites]


One of my favorite lines from the Slate piece ZeusHumms links to:
It’s unclear if Pompeo is ignoring his own order for these officials not to testify without administration counsel, or if he has recognized that enforcing his order by punishing employees who had complied with a lawful subpoena might prove difficult.
The other possibility is he's creating a narrative of rogue, out-of-control Deep State factions within the State Department are behind all of this, can't be trusted, and should be purged. It is part of my overarching theory that Trump is simply looking for enough of a fig leaf to let enough of his base to rationalize not favoring impeachment in spite of a massive amount of solid evidence of massive wrongdoing. He's pulled it off in the past; somehow, it's like he's falling down a cliff, and every branch he tries to grab on the way snaps.

(I almost typed that Pompeo might also be allowing it simply to take down Trump. On one hand, he's in as much hot water as Trump. On the other hand, that's just a convenient handle for when he's thrown under the bus.)
posted by MrGuilt at 10:21 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]


You know what makes me really uneasy here? Just how many admin officials are implicated in violations of the law. What the fuck is going to happen to Pompeo, Pence, Giuliani, Mulvaney, Barr all these other people who are now clearly on record as breaking the law?

Can somebody refresh my memory: Nixon wasn't similarly surrounded by complicit enablers in such positions, was he?

I'm just wondering what the end game here is. They all go to jail? And foment violence from there? They get pardoned? We have to eat that shit in the name of going forward?
posted by angrycat at 10:43 AM on October 16 [10 favorites]


> He's pulled it off in the past; somehow, it's like he's falling down a cliff, and every branch he tries to grab on the way snaps.

Trump is following the mob tactic of getting everyone around you dirty, so everyone will help coverup since him going down takes them down with them. Folks who left were ones who either had too much of their own baggage that selling out Trump was a better deal, or wouldn't take on his dirt sufficiently enough to ensure fealty.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:44 AM on October 16 [12 favorites]


> What the fuck is going to happen to Pompeo, Pence, Giuliani, Mulvaney, Barr all these other people who are now clearly on record as breaking the law?

It also makes me curious how much stuff around things like Brett Kavanaugh's appointment is touched by this - along with other federal judges - Trump managed to fuck up the judiciary branch so much with his graft and deal making.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:47 AM on October 16 [11 favorites]


Nixon wasn't similarly surrounded by complicit enablers in such positions, was he?

'In the aftermath of Richard Nixon’s resignation, Watergate continued to claim victims.
The final toll included:


one presidential resignation
one vice-presidential resignation – although Agnew’s crimes were unrelated to Watergate
40 government officials indicted or jailed
H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman (White House staff), resigned 30 April 1973, subsequently jailed
John Dean (White House legal counsel), sacked 30 April 1973, subsequently jailed
John Mitchell, Attorney-General and Chairman of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), jailed
Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy (ex-White House staff), planned the Watergate break-in, both jailed
Charles Colson, special counsel to the President, jailed
James McCord (Security Director of CREEP), jailed'
posted by Harry Caul at 10:49 AM on October 16 [44 favorites]


I'm waiting for the link between Ukraine (or Deutsche Bank, or Russia, or all three) and Kavanaugh's mysteriously vanished debts.
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:52 AM on October 16 [38 favorites]


ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public

This is why, when I am tempted to give money to some bullshit podcast that "discusses events", I give it to ProPublica instead. They do actual reporting, like looking at publicly available documents, rather than laundering grievances in the name of "access".
posted by benzenedream at 11:12 AM on October 16 [47 favorites]


mrzarquon Even in the aftermath of Nixon's resignation none of his judicial appointments came under even significant scrutiny much less pressure to resign. I'm extremely doubtful that even a Justice as blatantly corrupt and on the take as Kavanaugh will be ousted or even have his corruption discussed anywhere outside places like Metafilter.

And frankly I'm doubtful that we'll see a Nixon style housecleaning following Trump, the Democrats most likely won't take the Senate even if they do win the Presidency, and in recent history the Democrats have had a tendency to essentially ignore crimes committed by prior administrations. Unlike after Nixon there's FOX today which will be doing its utmost to cause civil war if the Democrats try to imprison many Trump officials, plus all the hate radio and web, and the Democrats will be preoccupied trying to fix all the stuff Trump broke and need political favors with Mitch to get anything through the Senate.

I'm betting it gets pushed under the rug and we "look forward, not back" like Obama told us to. I'd like to hope the Democrats at least extort some bills getting through McConnell's Senate as a condition for giving up the prosecution, but I'm not hopeful.
posted by sotonohito at 11:40 AM on October 16 [9 favorites]


Can't most officials in the executive branch be impeached? Not sure about private citizen Giuliani.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:34 PM on October 16


I'd like to hope the Democrats at least extort some bills getting through McConnell's Senate as a condition for giving up the prosecution, but I'm not hopeful.

That's horse trading political favours for corruption. That sounds even worse to me.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:37 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


ZeusHumms: Can't most officials in the executive branch be impeached?

Who Can be Impeached? (Litigation.Findlaw.com)
Only two U.S. presidents (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) have been impeached, neither of whom were removed from office. However, 17 other U.S. officials, most of them judges, also have been impeached through the same legal authority and process. While the term "impeachment" typically is associated with the Commander in Chief, the Constitution clearly states who can be impeached: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States."

Federal officers who are impeached face "removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States." They also may be tried for the same offenses in criminal court.
The article goes on to provide more information on who can be impeached, plus impeachable offenses and historical examples.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:39 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for the link between Ukraine (or Deutsche Bank, or Russia, or all three) and Kavanaugh's mysteriously vanished debts.

The conspiracy unfortunately doesn't go that far - it was probably just the Judicial Crisis Network who pooled some funds together and bought themselves a Supreme Court seat.
posted by PenDevil at 12:43 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


You're probably right, but hope springs eternal.
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:05 PM on October 16


The conspiracy unfortunately doesn't go that far - it was probably just the Judicial Crisis Network who pooled some funds together and bought themselves a Supreme Court seat.
Are we assuming that a conservative lobbying organization created in the past 20 years by a Republican lawyer and a real estate tycoon is not a Russian cutout?
posted by Horkus at 1:14 PM on October 16 [20 favorites]


Federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani includes counterintelligence probe (CNN)
For months, investigators looking into Rudy Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine have dug into everything from possible financial entanglements with alleged corrupt Ukrainian figures to counterintelligence concerns raised by some of those business ties, according to people briefed on the matter.

The counterintelligence part of the investigation indicates that FBI and criminal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking at a broader set of issues related to Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, than has been previously reported.

Kenneth McCallion, a New York attorney, says that investigators first approached him earlier this year to ask about Giuliani's ties to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Giuliani associates indicted last week on campaign-finance related charges. McCallion says FBI counterintelligence agents in February or March asked questions about some of Giuliani's Ukrainian business dealings.

The counterintelligence probe hinges in part on whether a foreign influence operation was trying to take advantage of Giuliani's business ties in Ukraine and with wealthy foreigners to make inroads with the White House, according to one person briefed on the matter.
posted by katra at 1:27 PM on October 16 [11 favorites]


How Many Times Could Donald Trump Be Impeached? (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)
Laurence Tribe explains why Congress should aim to work at three speeds.

“There’s no reason why these impeachments can’t proceed while Congress still digs around and tries to get to the bottom of certain details.” […]

"So the evidence is going to pile up from voluntary sources, including people like the whistleblower, and that pile of evidence can be accumulated while we try to get accelerated judgments from the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, in cases where witnesses are under the president’s thumb and are not willing to come forward and comply with subpoenas. And in the meantime, we can impeach the president. So we can do three things at once. And it seems to me that’s exactly what we need to do in this existential crisis that the president has created."
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:28 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


Well this is probably concerning for Guiliani...

From the WSJ: Cuomo Signs ‘Double Jeopardy’ Bill Aimed at Presidential Pardons

Law closes what its proponents say is a loophole and aims to curb Trump’s pardon power. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed a bill into law that would allow New York prosecutors to bring state criminal charges against close associates of the president who are pardoned for a similar federal offense.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:01 PM on October 16 [30 favorites]


[A couple comments deleted; please put Turkey/Syria news in the Turkey thread; thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:11 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain, kind-of simply and briefly, what the significance of the counterintelligence involvement in investigating Giuliani is/what it means? I'm not super-sure how this makes it different from yesterday!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:12 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


IMHO counterintelligence means they're investigating a crime related to national security rather than just some financial hanky-panky.
posted by PenDevil at 2:16 PM on October 16 [13 favorites]


Are we assuming that a conservative lobbying organization created in the past 20 years by a Republican lawyer and a real estate tycoon is not a Russian cutout?

Also the Judicial Crisis Network is essentially funded by an unknown single donor.

"JCN's tax return for the period July 2015 to June 2016 shows that one $17.9 million donation, whose source was not reported, accounted for 96.6 percent of the organization's revenue."
posted by srboisvert at 2:19 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


Also the Judicial Crisis Network is essentially funded by an unknown single donor.

Flip a coin, it's either one of the Kochs or the Mercers.
posted by PenDevil at 2:25 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain, kind-of simply and briefly, what the significance of the counterintelligence involvement in investigating Giuliani is/what it means?

Asha Rangappa addresses this question in these tweets.
posted by Jpfed at 2:26 PM on October 16 [9 favorites]


Law closes what its proponents say is a loophole and aims to curb Trump’s pardon power. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed a bill into law that would allow New York prosecutors to bring state criminal charges against close associates of the president who are pardoned for a similar federal offense.

Elections, consequences, etc. When that little cabal of collaborationist Democrats were mostly turfed out (and the remaining ones stripped of their power), it was time for Cuomo to put up or shut up on his progressivism. It doesn't really matter if it's sincere or a cynical ploy on Cuomo's part, the end result is the same - Letitia James (and others) will be thrilled to do what she can to bring Trump (and hopefully the Traitor Tots) to justice.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:44 PM on October 16 [11 favorites]


Federal officers who are impeached face "removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States."

Point of clarification: "Both the Constitution and the Senate’s procedures treat removal and disqualification from holding future office as separate punishments upon a conviction of impeachment."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:51 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


How Many Times Could Donald Trump Be Impeached?

I believe one comprehensive, clearly-explained impeachment would be easier politically than multiple ones.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:52 PM on October 16


I'm not super-sure how this makes it different from yesterday!

Because now I can fantasize about Giuliani and Trump being frogmarched in orange jumpsuits for all of their actual treason, and not some bullshit complicated financial crime that no one understands and that idiots will dismiss forever as not a "real" crime

I want the GOP to live with the shame of being the party of actual, for real treason for fucking ever

It doesn't really matter if it's sincere or a cynical ploy on Cuomo's part

lol that's good because it is DEFINITELY a cynical ploy and he will find a way to weasel around it if it ever benefits him
posted by schadenfrau at 3:00 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


The lawyer at the center of the Ukraine vortex (Politico)
Meet John Eisenberg, the White House attorney whose actions are coming under scrutiny in Democrats’ impeachment probe.
As lawyers often do, Eisenberg took notes in meetings with Trump, a standard practice that “drove the president absolutely bonkers,” according to one former White House official. “His sense was people were taking notes because they were going to write a book or testify against him,” the former official said.

It was Eisenberg to whom several alarmed White House officials turned when Trump urged Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. It was Eisenberg who then helped order the record of that call into a system used for ultra-secret classified information. And it was Eisenberg who, several reports say, consulted with political appointees at the Justice Department on how to handle a whistleblower’s complaint about the Ukraine call. [...]

The White House is now reviewing how it handled Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, according to an administration official. Eisenberg is at the center of that review, according to the New York Times, which reported that some aides are worried that the mission of the review is to find a scapegoat.

Some of Eisenberg’s former colleagues are concerned that he will be blamed for the Ukraine scandal, with one of them saying: “The White House is full of political actors with agendas and there can be a lot of knife fights over there. That’s not something that John really engages in.”

If so, it would be a remarkably familiar Washington plotline in a town in the throes of unprecedented political upheaval. “If I remember D.C.,” observed [Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general in the Bush administration who worked with Eisenberg], “it’s a place where a lot of people don’t always carry their weapons in view.” [...]

[...] Making Eisenberg a scapegoat for the Ukraine scandal could prove risky for a president who has alienated many of his former top aides. [...] “If there are any buried bodies, Eisenberg knows where they are,” said a former administration official.
posted by katra at 4:12 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]


McConnell eyes quick impeachment trial in Senate
Senate Republicans are preparing for a speedy impeachment trial that concludes before the end of the year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans on Wednesday that he expects Speaker Nancy Pelosi to approve articles of impeachment as early as Thanksgiving, according to five people familiar with Wednesday’s party lunch. McConnell then surmised that the Senate could deal with the trial by Christmas, concluding the impeachment proceedings before the Democratic presidential primaries begin.
Sure, whenever's convenient for you, Moscow Mitch.

Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 4:26 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]


For a supposedly anti-abortion politician, McConnell sure seems anxious to kill this baby before the investigation has fully gestated.

Which is precisely why the Democrats shouldn’t issue articles of impeachment now. This needs to proceed on a timeline of Speaker Pelosi’s choosing.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:38 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


McConnell told senators they would be unable to speak during the trial and that only the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the president’s defenders and the House managers could talk, said one person familiar with the meeting.

Sounds perfectly reasonable, perfectly normal.
posted by benzenedream at 4:39 PM on October 16 [6 favorites]


Just wow. Nothing like a trial with a predetermined outcome. Banana. Republic.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:47 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Sounds perfectly reasonable, perfectly normal.

That's exactly how the Clinton impeachment was run. You don't want the members of the jury, senators, jumping up and down and giving speeches during the trial.

The House managers give the prosecution's argument. The president's lawyers give the defense rebuttal. Then the senators can submit written questions for the prosecution and defense which the presiding judge reads out loud.
posted by JackFlash at 4:50 PM on October 16 [16 favorites]


And after three days of closed-door deliberations, the senate voted on the verdict.

All pretty much as any jury trial precedes.
posted by JackFlash at 4:54 PM on October 16


I'll double down on my prediction that the Senate quickly convicts. Tr*mp no longer has value to McConnell and is becoming a major liability (well beyond the substantive foreign policy disagreements), and there are enough Republican Senators who do NOT have a primary electorate to face in 2020.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:58 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


The senators act as a jury during an impeachment.

Senate Rules for Impeachment
Following is the text of the "Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials," drafted for the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and updated after the Watergate scandal in 1974. The 26 rules cover everything from the oath that senators would take (to administer "impartial justice") to a requirement that senators stand by their chairs when they vote.
Senate Rules; If Impeachment Seems Strange, Just Wait for the Trial

“We’re gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging.” -- Silverado
posted by kirkaracha at 4:59 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


That's great, but with McConnell at the helm, any rule that isn't explicitly written into the Constitution (and probably some that are) may as well not exist at all. He's not bound by norms, he's not bound by precedent, and he has no fucks at all to give about how the proceedings will make him and his party look. If he wants Trump to stay, he will likely find a way to make sure Trump stays. If he wants him gone, he's probably gone. Might makes right in McConnellville.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:25 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


I don't think McConnell is worried for even a minute that the senate will convict. He will just expedite proceedings so that Republicans can get this unpleasantness behind them and on to the their real business, the 2020 election. It should be all over in a week.

In the Clinton trial, even though Republicans held a majority, they only got 45 votes for perjury and 50 votes for obstruction. Not even a majority let alone close to the required 67 votes.

I don't expect this trial to be much different.
posted by JackFlash at 5:35 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


On the Potential Viability of Foreign Agent Charges for Guiliani (Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel)
If the easiest way to end the Ukraine inquiry is to blame Rudy for it all (and if that’s still possible after several weeks of damning testimony), that may well come to pass.

And if Bill Barr needs to greenlight a FARA prosecution of Rudy as a way to minimize the damage to the Administration, and to himself, he may well do that (yet another reason why he should have recused long ago).

That’s all the more true given that most of Trump’s aides seem to recognize how damaging Rudy is for Trump’s exposure. If Trump won’t separate himself from Rudy, his lackeys might one day decide, then separate Rudy from Trump by prosecuting him, the same way they separated Michael Cohen from Trump.

That said, with Trump, loyalty is always transactional. And if he believes Rudy has dirt that can bring him down — and given the likelihood some of what Rudy is doing is the continuation of what Paul Manafort had been doing since August 2, 2016, that may be true — then Trump will defend Rudy’s work even if it means claiming everything he did operated under Article II authority. [...]

Yes, Rudy Giuliani is, by all appearances, in blatant violation of FARA. Yes, he may get away with that, in part because DOJ hasn’t yet figured out hard to charge it consistently (though knows what not to do given recent history), and in part because he has made sure to implicate Trump and his cabinet officials.

But there’s a larger question about whether those same financial ties expose Rudy for much uglier conspiracy charges.
posted by katra at 5:38 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Gentle reminder that "hey I bet we'll all get nuked" isn't a great direction to take comment speculation in, however cynical or doomy you may personally be feeling.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:40 PM on October 16 [11 favorites]


Ex-Aide Saw Gordon Sondland as a Potential National Security Risk (NYT)
The adviser, Fiona Hill, did not accuse Mr. Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk. But she described Mr. Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor-turned-ambassador, as metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS, according to the people, who were not authorized to publicly discuss a deposition that took place behind closed doors.

Ms. Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs at the White House, also said that she raised her concerns with intelligence officials inside the White House, one of the people said. [...] In her testimony, Ms. Hill described her fears that Mr. Sondland represented a counterintelligence risk because his actions made him vulnerable to foreign governments who could exploit his inexperience. She said Mr. Sondland extensively used a personal cellphone for official diplomatic business and repeatedly told foreign officials they were welcome to come to the White House whenever they liked.

Ms. Hill said that his invitations, which were highly unusual and not communicated to others at the White House, prompted one instance in which Romanian officials arrived at the White House without appointments, citing Mr. Sondland. Ms. Hill also testified that Mr. Sondland held himself out to foreign officials as someone who could deliver meetings at the White House while also providing the cellphone numbers of American officials to foreigners, the people said. Those actions created additional counterintelligence risks, she said.
posted by katra at 5:46 PM on October 16 [15 favorites]


McConnell tells Senate Republicans to be ready for impeachment trial of Trump (WaPo)
McConnell said the Senate would likely meet six days a week during the trial, lawmakers said. [...]

Republicans have been trying to coalesce around an impeachment strategy for weeks, lawmakers and aides say. In the House, they have decried the process as unfair and secretive — even as GOP members of the investigative committees have fully participated in deposing the witnesses.

On Wednesday, Trump allies showed up to McKinley’s deposition and tried to enter the private meeting room. They were denied entry, as they are not members of the House panels — and then they raced to the TV cameras to accuse Democrats of hiding investigative work from the public. [...]

Timing was a looming question in the Senate GOP meeting. McConnell said that he expected Pelosi to hold an impeachment vote by Thanksgiving and that the Senate should try to dispose of the issue by Christmas. But he also noted that motions of dismissal of the charges in an impeachment trial are handled at the discretion of the chief justice, who presides over the trial.

In this case, John G. Roberts Jr. would have the final word on how quickly the Senate could move, potentially complicating the GOP’s effort to short-circuit what could become a lengthy trial.
posted by katra at 5:58 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


WaPo: 6:45 p.m.: Schiff sends House members update on impeachment, says he intends to make transcripts public
“As the investigation proceeds, and at a time that it will not jeopardize investigative equities, we will make the interview transcripts public, subject to any necessary redactions for classified or sensitive information,” Schiff wrote. “We also anticipate that at an appropriate point in the investigation, we will be taking witness testimony in public, so that the full Congress and the American people can hear their testimony firsthand.”

Schiff also pushed back at the claim by Republicans and the White House that the Democrats have blocked GOP members from participating in the interviews with key witnesses, saying both “the majority and minority have been provided equal staff representation and time to question witnesses.”

He also said the decisions by Trump administration agencies and officials, including Vice President Pence, to defy congressional subpoenas would be viewed “as evidence of the President’s effort to obstruct the impeachment inquiry, and we may also use that obstruction as additional evidence of the wrongfulness of the President’s underlying conduct.”
posted by katra at 6:08 PM on October 16 [21 favorites]


McConnell said that he expected Pelosi to hold an impeachment vote by Thanksgiving and that the Senate should try to dispose of the issue by Christmas.

If a Senate trial were finished today, I have no doubt they would vote to acquit. But this allows another 6-10 weeks for public opinion to further turn against Trump, which gives me a little hope. A little, not a lot, but I'll take it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:25 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]


Okay help me out here, because I'm not seeing how we get to conviction in the Senate.

Prevailing wisdom seems to be that Republicans in the Senate vote for impeachment if support for impeachment / disapproval of Trump / support for Republican primary challengers rises to some threshold, the value of which varies from opinion to opinion.

The thing I don't get is that those metrics for flipping Republicans has voter pressure as an assumption, and therefore has the integrity of elections as an assumption.

I don't think that's a legit assumption though, right? We know that there was foreign interference in the 2016 election, we know that those efforts have increased for the 2020 election, and we know that beyond foreign interference there is a system of gerrymandering / voter suppression / etc etc etc that is artificially preserving the Republican majority in the Senate and Republican presidencies while the will of the popular vote is ignored. (edit: not to mention they more or less own the judiciary system now)

What evidence is there to suggest that the Republicans would vote to impeach given the massive structural advantages in their favor? What am I missing there?

On the other hand, there is absolutely something all of us do not know about yet with regards to the extent of corruption in the Republican party. The metaphor that Josh Marshall uses is helpful: there is some black hole of awfulness that is exerting a huge pull on the entire party, more or less. That thing, which we can only see the effects of right now and not the actual thing, is strong enough to make dignity wraiths out of old-guard Republicans and straight up-felons and war criminals out of the new(er) crowd. I just don't understand how we ever get a conviction of the President under these circumstances, ever.

I still think that the House should vote to impeach, mind you. I think not doing so would be a total failure of professional and ethical responsibility, not to mention bad politics.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:38 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


I don't think they will either, given the current state of "Republicans". I think we can still beat them at the ballot box. Will take a long time to ever get the Senate, but, these guys don't care about the rule of law.

#RESIST
posted by Windopaene at 6:42 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans on Wednesday that he expects Speaker Nancy Pelosi to approve articles of impeachment as early as Thanksgiving,

Is there any evidence this expectation of Moscow Mitch's originates from anywhere besides his own butthole?
posted by soundguy99 at 6:45 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


presumably mitch is laying out a short timeline so that he can claim pelosi is “delaying” (because her case is so weak) and “playing politics” when Thanksgiving comes and goes without articles of impeachment.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:01 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


The metaphor that Josh Marshall uses is helpful: there is some black hole of awfulness that is exerting a huge pull on the entire party, more or less.

Yes. It's called Republican primary voters. Who comes out to primaries? They have turnout rates of like 12% on a good day. Fox has pissed off nut jobs in order to get them to vote Republican and because they're so batshit insane and pissed off they come out for the primaries now too.

Republicans who are left are, bar 5 or so senators (Gardener, Collins, Ernst, McSally, Tillis) are going to have non-competitive elections assuming the Blue Wave of 2018 is a high water mark or close to it. Who do they fear? The primary voters. Not the electorate at large.

Even if they do lose a bunch of house seats, so what? They've got a virtual lock on 50 senators and they have 40 senators permanently. Republicans can just monkey wrench anything they want when they're not in power and they can wreck up the place when they're given the levers by a stupid electorate with the long term memory of a goldfish.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:04 PM on October 16 [24 favorites]


Articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving? Pelosi wants to move 'expeditiously' (ABC News, Sep 28, 2019)
Asked about the timeline, senior Democratic aides told ABC News the situation remained fluid, and was contingent on the committees' ongoing investigative work and efforts to follow up on the complaint, but pointed to Pelosi's repeated comments on working "expeditiously."
Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk (NYT)
One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election. [...]

“It’s partly because this shadow foreign policy that the president was running was so deeply offensive to people in his own administration who took pride in overseeing a professionally run and arguably exemplary policy in support of Ukraine,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former State Department official involved in the inquiry.

Referring to Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, he added, “And then to see the official policy undermined by this clownishly corrupt effort led by Rudy Giuliani on behalf of the president was just more than many people apparently could bear.”
posted by katra at 8:04 PM on October 16 [11 favorites]


Only once has Gallup seen more support for removing a president. Nixon was gone four days later. (WaPo)
New data from Gallup released on Wednesday shows Trump’s approval rating — 39 percent — is about where Nixon’s was in the middle of 1973. The level of support for impeaching him and removing him from office, though — 52 percent — is essentially where Nixon’s would have been right before he resigned in August of the following year. [...]

What it does highlight is how uncharted the current territory is. Gallup’s report on support for impeaching Trump notes only 32 percent of the country wanted to see President Bill Clinton removed from office in late 1998. Meaning the only time Americans have ever told Gallup they more strongly support impeaching and removing a president from office — on Aug. 5, 1974 — that president was gone four days later.

Which is, again, why it’s so odd for Trump to be openly fighting with Republicans on Capitol Hill. [...] It’s still unlikely that support for impeachment grows substantially from here (thanks to support from Republican voters), and it’s still unlikely that 20 Republican senators turn on Trump (thanks to their fear of Republican voters).

But Trump fumbling an important alliance while being convinced he’s making all the right decisions is certainly not without recent precedent.
posted by katra at 8:53 PM on October 16 [19 favorites]


Democrats’ New Impeachment Plan Might Let Rudy Giuliani Skate on Contempt (Jeremy Stahl, Slate)
Subpoenas mean nothing unless they’re enforced. [...]

The problem for Congress is that there are only two mechanisms available to enforce its subpoenas. Neither option seems to have the backing of House leadership, but a failure to act could help hand Trump a quicker and easier acquittal in the Senate.

The first enforcement option would be to ask the courts to do the work of enforcing Congress’ subpoenas, a process that could take months depending on how urgently the courts deign to act. The second option would be to revive Congress’ long-dormant “inherent contempt” power to arrest—and potentially fine—obstructive witnesses. [...]
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:09 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


The level of support for impeaching him and removing him from office, though — 52 percent — is essentially where Nixon’s would have been right before he resigned in August of the following year.

But if you look at the same poll, 94% of Republicans do not support impeachment. As a Republican, you have to get through the Republican primary, where 94% oppose impeachment, before you can even think about the general election. I can't see any Republicans flipping on their 94%. And as far as the trend since June, that number has gone up from 93%. There is no evidence that the recent revelations have moved the needle one iota.
posted by JackFlash at 9:29 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


This is so stressful, watching this slow motion death of our country, our democracy. I so want to see the end of this toxic administration. This might sound dumb, but I have been watching The West Wing while reading about all this horror. I just needed to feel what decent people can be like even in the halls of power. Yes it's fiction, but it makes me remember the Obama administration, and what a decent human he is. Yes, he made so many mistakes, but he didn't seem like a horrible scheming opportunist with no empathy what-so-ever. His mistakes weren't because he was trying to enrich himself and his friends, he wasn't a power hungry monster. He was a flawed but decent human. How is it that republicans do not see the same thing that I see? I have been crying a lot.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 10:52 PM on October 16 [44 favorites]


I watched nothing on TV but West Wing reruns for pretty much all of 2017. It helps.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:14 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


I can't see any Republicans flipping on their 94%. And as far as the trend since June, that number has gone up from 93%. There is no evidence that the recent revelations have moved the needle one iota.

Well, there's the whole 'party identification' axis as well; the climb from 93->94 could easily be a reduction in the number of never-trumpers identifying as republican. Or just noise, since the error bars on the polls tend to be a few points...
posted by kaibutsu at 11:42 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]


“Party Identification” is really Fox News identification. Which is a problem for everybody. (Secretly I hope the Republicans will now recognize this and be open to efforts to rectify things. Something something ‘fairness doctrine’)
posted by From Bklyn at 12:49 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


As a Republican, you have to get through the Republican primary, where 94% oppose impeachment, before you can even think about the general election.

If Pelosi could just manage to wait until after primary season...

But I understand that then the impeachment fight will get caught up in the presidential election and Trump will be able to to "defend" himself by talking about that time Elizabeth Warren checked the wrong box on a form or whatever.

Still there are a number of Republicans who are retiring. There are the five who are in swing states who might benefit from rejecting Trump. A third of Senators won't face re-election until 2024. WaPo has 0 Republican senators expressing support for the impeachment inquiry but 15 bold enough to express "concerns" about Trump's behavior. If it's true that Lindsey Graham sold his dignity so he could be in the the room where it happens on national security decision making, he's gotta be pretty pissed at Trump for excluding him after taking delivery on that dignity. And Romney has some room to play because of the large NeverTrump minority in Utah.

I dunno, 15 is not 20, and expressing concerns is not voting to impeach. So probably Trump still skates in the Senate no matter what. But would it be possible to liberate a few more Senators by holding off on impeachment until spring, when the ones who have already got through their primary could join the ones who are retiring in having a little more freedom? Especially if Trump does worse than expected in the Republican presidential primaries (such as they are.)

Or will people be pissed if politicians take the decision on Trump out of the voters' hands that close to an election?
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:33 AM on October 17 [2 favorites]


Or will people be pissed if politicians take the decision on Trump out of the voters' hands that close to an election?

Well, how many more people would be pissed about that rather than pissed that someone who commits impeachable and criminal offenses again and again and again is allowed to skate through because some politicians are afraid they’ll lose their own election? If getting voted out of office is their primary concern in all this, that’s what they deserve.

The whole point of a process like impeachment is that sometimes even a legitimately elected official will act in a way that is criminal and damaging to our democracy and needs to be removed immediately.
posted by wondermouse at 5:24 AM on October 17 [9 favorites]


[Not a megathread]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:12 AM on October 17 [13 favorites]


Ambassador to E.U. to Testify That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani (NYT)
According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by the New York Times, Mr. Sondland will say that Mr. Trump refused to take the counsel of his top diplomats, who recommended to him that he meet with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, without any preconditions. The president said that the diplomats needed to satisfy concerns both he and Mr. Giuliani had related corruption in Ukraine, Mr. Sondland will say. [...]

“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he planned to say. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Mr. Sondland will say that he; Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, began coordinating with Mr. Giuliani, who insisted the Ukrainians put out a statement committing to a series of investigations. The ambassador will say that he failed to appreciate how Burisma, a company that Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukranians to look into, was directly tied to Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.
posted by katra at 7:06 AM on October 17 [12 favorites]


Or will people be pissed if politicians take the decision on Trump out of the voters' hands that close to an election?

Sure, Republicans will be pissed but they’ll be pissed regardless. Don’t fall into the trap of conflating Trump’s win in 2016 as a mandate from the voters. It wasn’t. He legally and constitutionally won the election but it was not a small-D democratic win.

Trump and his apologists do this all the time — they make claims that he’s “the People’s president“ or that Democrats are trying to undo the election and it’s utter poppycock. They won on a technicality but govern like it was a landslide. And they try to gaslight us into accepting their desired reality.

Properly executed, impeachment will not only lay out Trump’s specific crimes but also lay bare the GOP’s anti-constitutional theory of rule. Don’t - under any circumstances - let them dictate the terms of the debate.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:08 AM on October 17 [52 favorites]


Is disbarment of Giuliani a plausible punishment for not answering a subpoena?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:31 AM on October 17 [8 favorites]


Or will people be pissed if politicians take the decision on Trump out of the voters' hands that close to an election?

Putting decisions in voters hands generally seems to fail on both sides of the Atlantic.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:55 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Marcy Wheeler is tweeting her way through Sondland's dissembling opening statement, if anyone is looking for a deep dive into this hot mess..
posted by cudzoo at 7:59 AM on October 17 [12 favorites]


Putting decisions in voters hands generally seems to fail on both sides of the Atlantic.

Most voters definitely didn't want this. We just have stupid rules on this side of the Atlantic that mean the candidate with the lower number of votes somehow gets to win sometimes.
posted by delicious-luncheon at 8:17 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


We just have stupid rules on this side of the Atlantic
Oh they're not stupid. They're clever. And racist.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:26 AM on October 17 [22 favorites]


Impeachment handled correctly will spell out that Republicans have sold out democracy and rule of law at home and abroad for political gain. There's no guarantee that Trump will be impeached. The United States may continue its march toward autocracy, but it will do so with open eyes.
posted by xammerboy at 9:13 AM on October 17 [6 favorites]


IIRC, Donald J. Trump is registered to vote in NY-12, so his Representative -- the only one he should have in a Nation of Laws -- is Carolyn Maloney.

WaPo: 10 a.m.: Maloney becomes acting Oversight Committee chair due to seniority
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, will become the panel’s acting chair following the passing of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), according to a senior Democratic leadership aide.
Obituary thread for Rep. Cummings is here.
posted by katra at 9:16 AM on October 17 [13 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler is tweeting her way through Sondland's dissembling opening statement

Sondland several times uses the evasive phrase "electronic communications" between him, Guiliani and Volker. I hope someone asks him if he is referring to WhatsApp and whether he made copies of those communications for the State Department within 20 days as required by federal law. I'm guessing most are deleted.

Or perhaps they should just ask Sondland if they should lock 'em up.
posted by JackFlash at 9:19 AM on October 17 [17 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler is tweeting her way through Sondland's dissembling opening statement

"My goodness this statement is a swiss cheese shitshow."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:24 AM on October 17 [8 favorites]


House Oversight asks court to expedite subpoena order for Trump's finances (The Hill)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee asked a federal appeals court to expedite the enforcement of a subpoena for President Trump's financial records, citing Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry. [...] The motion comes just days after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the Oversight Committee's subpoena of the financial firm Mazars, in a sweeping victory for the House Democrats. The subpoena was issued earlier this year prior to the launch of the impeachment inquiry.
posted by katra at 9:30 AM on October 17 [9 favorites]


At this point The People have gotten almost 3 out of the 4 years of the term they voted for, so it’s not like they should expect a refund.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:34 AM on October 17 [5 favorites]


Yeah and also the product was flawed.
posted by Namlit at 9:36 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


The people have called the customer service and demanded a replacement.
posted by hat_eater at 9:43 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Would Trump quit? One Wall Street firm looks at the potential and its market ramifications (CNBC)
“While we acknowledge this is a low probability event, the question we are hearing more often in DC is: What if President Trump decides to walk away from the presidency and voluntarily resigns prior to being impeached and/or having to release his tax returns?” wrote Chris Meekins and Ed Mills, policy research analysts at Raymond James.

Market impact likely would be minimal, according to the analysis, which sees the emergence of Vice President Mike Pence as the GOP standard-bearer providing stability for Wall Street and the economy. [...] Nevertheless, should his approach change and he decides to step down, “Trump would not go down in history as one of the only impeached presidents,” the Raymond James analysts added. “His tax returns, which he does not want to give to become public while President ... kind of become a non-issue. Trump can go make even more money and maybe start his own media network, which reportedly was the initial plan.”
posted by katra at 9:48 AM on October 17 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget that "the people" voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin that would have been considered an overwhelming victory in any other circumstance.

The majority of voters did not ask for this.
posted by schmod at 9:55 AM on October 17 [36 favorites]


“Trump would not go down in history as one of the only impeached presidents,” the Raymond James analysts added.

Nonsense on stilts. The first word that comes to anyone's mind when Nixon is mentioned is "impeachment" even though he wasn't impeached. It's much too late for this asshole too.
posted by Quindar Beep at 9:58 AM on October 17 [19 favorites]


Giuliani's work for Iranian group with bloody past could lead to more legal woes (NBC News)
Giuliani ally Michael Mukasey’s move to register as a lobbyist for an Iranian dissident group may spur the DOJ to investigate, experts say.
In the spring of 2017, former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey met with representatives of the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization until 2012. Mukasey wasn't alone. Joining him at the meeting was another high-profile American political figure: Rudy Giuliani.

For nearly a decade, the former law partners have pushed the agenda of the MEK, giving paid speeches and writing newspaper op-eds expressing support for a group linked to the deaths of six Americans in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until late last month that Mukasey registered as a foreign agent lobbying pro bono for MEK’s political arm. Giuliani still hasn’t, raising the possibility that the Justice Department could target him in an illegal lobbying probe, experts say. [...]

“This certainly walks like a FARA issue and talks like a FARA issue,” said Matthew Sanderson, a defense lawyer who specializes in foreign lobbying cases. He said the Justice Department will likely try to “develop facts to determine whether these efforts to influence public opinion in the U.S. were at the request or direction of MEK, a foreign interest.”

“This is a particularly unusual situation because Mr. Giuliani was acting as the president’s counsel, all while acting in ways that suggest he was simultaneously representing certain foreign interests,” Sanderson said. [...]

Daniel Benjamin, a State Department counterterrorism coordinator from 2009 to 2012, has focused extensively on the network of American politicians who have been paid by MEK, including Giuliani and Mukasey. [...] “The big question,” Benjamin added, "is where does all this money come from?”
posted by katra at 10:04 AM on October 17 [7 favorites]


What if President Trump decides to walk away from the presidency and voluntarily resigns prior to being impeached and/or having to release his tax returns?

As I pointed out before, Trump can't resign. Being President is all that shields him from criminal investigation and prosecution -- even if Pence pardoned him, New York State would come at him hard -- and the only bulwark he has against having his tax returns released.

Remember the speculation that he ran for president in the first place in part as a shield against the criminal activities that were probably catching up to him even then -- the "event horizon" of wrongdoing that Josh Marshall described? And evidence of criminal activity in office has been piling up. Trump isn't going anywhere until we vote him out.
posted by Gelatin at 10:09 AM on October 17 [10 favorites]


Mick Mulvaney just said in a live press conference that the White House held up Ukraine's military aid to get the government there to agree to look into the origins of the Russia probe, and anybody who doesn't like it should "get over it."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:14 AM on October 17 [58 favorites]


Aaaaand we've fully reached the "Yeah, we did it, it wasn't wrong" stage.

Hands up everyone who called this two months ago
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:22 AM on October 17 [63 favorites]


Aaaaand we've fully reached the "Yeah, we did it, it wasn't wrong" stage.

Of course. Why not? By holding the G7 at Doral, they're even more openly flouting the emoluments clause.
posted by Gelatin at 10:25 AM on October 17 [14 favorites]


[A message to] House Democrats: It's time to include Trump's shady Syria/Turkey deal in impeachment inquiry (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
Trump's desperation to keep anyone from looking too closely here is all the more reason to do so. In fact, Democrats need to seriously consider expanding the impeachment inquiry to look at why, exactly, Trump is so eager to please Erdoğan, even above his own party. […] So the question is, what is Trump getting out of this, and have any laws been broken in selling out American interests to Turkey?

Democrats don't even really need to expand the scope of the basic impeachment focus to include this Turkey/Syria situation. After all, the existing impeachment inquiry is about Trump illegally using foreign policy for personal gain at the expense of American interests in Ukraine. The only question now is how many other foreign policy mishaps are guided by the same Trumpian self-interest, what crimes he's committing to achieve self-interest, and how many lives are being lost because of it.

Trump's wild, defensive behavior around this situation is remarkably reminiscent of every other time he has lashed out hysterically because he has a guilty conscience and is afraid of being caught doing something corrupt or illegal. […]
Syria/Turkey thread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:32 AM on October 17 [15 favorites]


Let's not forget that "the people" voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin that would have been considered an overwhelming victory in any other circumstance.

She definitely got the most votes, but "overwhelming" is a stretch. According the list of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin, Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of 2.09%, putting her near the bottom end of the list, between Jimmy Carter in 1976 and George W. Bush in 2004. By contrast, five presidents have won by popular vote margins of over 20%.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:32 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Guardian: Well, that was a whirlwind of a press briefing from Mick Mulvaney. Here are some of the key points that Trump’s acting chief of staff covered: [...]
Here’s the real kicker: after weeks of Trump claiming there was no quid pro quo involved in the delaying of military aid to Ukraine, Mulvaney confirmed that there was indeed a quid pro quo. However, he said the quid pro quo in question involved an investigation of a debunked conspiracy theory from the 2016 election and not a probe of Joe Biden. Mulvaney said this distinction made the request acceptable, but it is safe to assume that any ethics expert would take issue with that argument.

Mulvaney said it should be taken as a given that political calculations would factor into foreign policy decisions, and he offered this advice to reporters: “Get over it.”
Guardian: However, the White House’s own memo on the president’s call with the Ukrainian president shows that Trump brought up a potential investigation of Biden and his son, despite lacking any evidence to back up his corruption claims against the pair.
posted by katra at 10:36 AM on October 17 [15 favorites]


Mulvaney said it should be taken as a given that political calculations would factor into foreign policy decisions, and he offered this advice to reporters: “Get over it.”

Yeah, right. That's why the White House staff panicked and hid the readout of the Zelensky call in a secure server meant for classified information.

I hope the press isn't fooled by this false bravado, but instead sees it for the weak and panicky flailing it is.

[Ron Howard narrator voice:] The press is fooled by false bravado.
posted by Gelatin at 10:39 AM on October 17 [30 favorites]


Sondland is pretty determined not to be the fall guy for this.
“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters. However, given the President’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed,” Sondland wrote.

“Based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns.”
Far from throwing Trump and Rudy under a bus, Sondland saw the bus coming, stopped it, strapped Trump and Rudy down in its path, attached a rocket to the back of the bus, and set it moving again using said rocket.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:54 AM on October 17 [18 favorites]


President Trump still has friends on Capitol Hill. (NYT)
At noon on Thursday, supporters of Mr. Trump will gather outside the Capitol to rally against Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Some of headliners are to be expected: Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, Representative John Rutherford, Republican of Florida, and Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union and one of the president’s most dogged defenders,

Others? Well, they certainly have been in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Highlighted for the rally is Jack Posobiec, one of the most prominent promulgators of “Pizzagate,” which held that Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking operation out of the back of a Washington pizzeria.
posted by katra at 10:59 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


It's time to include Trump's shady Syria/Turkey deal in impeachment inquiry

Just like the Ukraine scandal is linked to the Russia scandal (thanks Mick Mulvaney for clarifying that relationship), so too is the Syria scandal...

Jonathan Spyer for the usually very Trumpist WSJ opinion page (long quote because of the WSJ's hard paywall):

Putin Is the New King of Syria
"Vladimir Putin is now the indispensable strategic arbiter in Syria. None of the remaining pieces on the broken chessboard can move without Mr. Putin’s hand. The Assad regime owes its survival to Moscow’s air intervention in September 2015. This reporter and others who have spent time in Damascus note the impunity with which Russian security and other personnel conduct themselves. They are effectively beyond the reach of the local authorities.

[..] The SDF [the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces] consists of some 100,000 seasoned fighters. Until this week it was the sole armed force able to operate east of the Euphrates. Since late 2015, when U.S. Special Forces helped to midwife the alliance, the SDF’s constituent parts—the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as well as Assyrian Christian forces and Arab tribal militias—have fought under a single banner. In the victorious campaign to retake territory from Islamic State, the SDF has been the decisive actor and the U.S. ground partner of choice. Suddenly this powerful army appears to be coming under Russian control.

The Kurds still operate their civilian administration east of the Euphrates. Their forlorn hope is to salvage and maintain as much as they can of the autonomy they have painstakingly built since 2012. Baathist regimes—Mr. Assad’s as well as Saddam Hussein’s —are noted for unforgiving attitudes toward ethnic separatist projects, and especially those of the Kurds. But the ruling Kurdish party in eastern Syria maintains an office in Moscow. Such hopes as remain will depend on Russia. No one else is available.

Turkey will also depend on Russia to maintain its project in northern Syria. It isn’t clear if there was prior Russian knowledge of the Turkish operation. But by triggering America’s departure and then the rush of the Kurds to embrace Mr. Assad, Turkey’s action delivered two long-sought gifts to Moscow.
[...]
If Israel wishes to continue its clandestine war against Iranian weapons transfers and infrastructure-building in Syria, it will be able to do so only with Russian permission, in an arena in which Moscow’s hand is now profoundly stronger. Expect a busy shuttle route to Moscow for whoever emerges as Israel’s prime minister.

Mr. Assad, the Kurds, Turkey and Israel all now depend on Moscow’s approval to advance their interests in Syria. This outcome has been sealed by this week’s sudden windfall, all without the firing of a single Russian bullet. All roads to Syria now run through Moscow. Mr. Putin could hardly ask for more."
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:07 AM on October 17 [19 favorites]


What if President Trump decides to walk away from the presidency and voluntarily resigns prior to being impeached and/or having to release his tax returns?”

I call this the "let's hope this guy's demonstrated laziness kicks in and he decides to just quit" theory. Which would be consistent with his past decisions. But then...

Trump can't resign. Being President is all that shields him from criminal investigation and prosecution -- even if Pence pardoned him, New York State would come at him hard -- and the only bulwark he has against having his tax returns released.

A strong counterargument! However, there's always the possibility that this notoriously bad-at-thinking-ahead president decides to roll the dice and hope that, once again, his lawyers can drag things out indefinitely and keep him out of jail. Which, again, is not impossible and certainly lines up with his past record.

The one other complicating factor might be not his fear of prosecution but his fear of Putin, who could not only stop funding his business but might actually decide to take him out. I don't know if that's actually likely; would a post-presidential Trump be any real threat to Putin? But I guess it's possible.
posted by emjaybee at 11:11 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Trump directed his energy secretary to work with Giuliani on Ukraine: Mulvaney (Reuters)
President Donald Trump asked U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to work with personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on matters involving Ukraine, acting White House chief of staff Mike Mulvaney said on Thursday, adding that he himself was not asked to do so.
posted by katra at 11:29 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Sondland’s testimony raises new questions about Giuliani’s role in scandal (Paul Waldman, WaPo Opinion)
I spoke about this bizarre situation with Heather Hurlburt, a foreign policy expert at New America who served in the White House and the State Department under Bill Clinton. She noted that friends and relatives of presidents will occasionally show up at an embassy and offer their extremely unwanted assistance with one matter or another. “But to have that presented as, ‘No, this person is actually in charge of policy and you, the Senate-confirmed person in the role, will stand aside in favor of the president’s friend/lawyer’ is totally unheard of," Hurlburt told me.

Even having Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, managing Ukraine policy is unprecedented. “It is not normal for any ambassador to get that far out of their lane,” Hurlburt said. “The E.U. portfolio does not include managing relations with Ukraine. And no normal secretary of state would allow or encourage that because it would just make your building unmanageable.”

It isn’t that there aren’t sometimes cases where authority is moved around or temporarily given to one figure over another. But when it happens, Hurlburt told me, “it’s all done through a process that’s public, it’s announced, everybody knows who you’re supposed to be dealing with, and the power relations of it are deliberately made explicit throughout the bureaucracy."

This is kind of the opposite of that, where we set up a different group of people who get to decide what happens in Ukraine and we don’t want that to be apparent to anyone," Hurlburt continued.
posted by katra at 11:38 AM on October 17 [12 favorites]


I cannot wait for the impeachment interview transcripts to come out. From Axios' Alayna Treene:
A GOP committee source following Mulvaney’s press briefing: “His diatribe has blown up the Sondland interview—Democrats are referring to the transcript mid-interview. WTF”
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:43 AM on October 17 [32 favorites]


would a post-presidential Trump be any real threat to Putin?

More the opposite; Putin would retain whatever kompromat he had on Trump before his election, and all the incriminating evidence -- recordings of phone calls, notes taken by the Russians when no Americans were present, etc. -- he's accumulated since.

(By the way, one of the reasons Trump was stupid to allow meetings with only Russian note takers present is that he couldn't refute whatever transcripts or notes Putin saw fit to release.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:47 AM on October 17 [12 favorites]


katra: Market impact likely would be minimal, according to the analysis, which sees the emergence of Vice President Mike Pence as the GOP standard-bearer providing stability for Wall Street and the economy.

Pence would likely be more stable than Trump, and might be a boon to the economy, if he backed down on the tariff battles that Trump likes to jump into. If Trump's ousted (I agree with Gelatin's thoughts that stepping down voluntarily is highly unlikely, given his well-documented crimes)


Gelatin: By holding the G7 at Doral, they're even more openly flouting the emoluments clause.

Trump Says He'll Host G7 Summit at His Own Miami Resort (Jerry Iannelli for Miami New Times, Oct. 17, 2019)
In a news conference this afternoon, Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, announced to the media that the president will host the 2020 G7 Summit — a meeting in which leaders of the seven largest economies on the planet meet to discuss world issues — at Trump National Doral Miami, which the president owns (and profits from).

Rumors had swirled for months that he was planning to host the G7 at one of his properties. In August, Trump himself said he was considering hosting the summit at his Doral golf resort — a prospect critics promptly deemed one of the most transparently corrupt and self-interested stunts the president could pull while in office.

"We are announcing today that we are going to do the 46th G7 Summit on June 10 through June 12 at the Trump National Doral facility in Miami, Florida," the chief of staff declared from the lectern. "The focus of the event will be global growth and challenges to the global economy."
That is, if Trump's still in office. TTTCS.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:49 AM on October 17 [10 favorites]


Mulvaney said it should be taken as a given that political calculations would factor into foreign policy decisions, and he offered this advice to reporters: “Get over it.”
Worth noting and explaining that this is an attempt to move goalposts and advance a rhetorical frame that is different than reality. The issue has never been whether Trump has been doing things for "politically motivated" reasoning, whatever the fuck that means. The issue is, and has always been, whether Trump has done *criminal* things. Whether his actions are *crimes* and I swear I'm going to be writing any Democratic representative who takes this fucking bait.
posted by odinsdream at 11:52 AM on October 17 [20 favorites]


I can't wait to be told the White House Chief of Staff doesn't speak for the President*.
It was an informal remark, at an off the record press conference, about matters the chief of staff isn't involved with, also he's only a coffee boy really.

I joke, but they won't be joking when they try this. And they will.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:55 AM on October 17 [20 favorites]


I don't care if Congress never thought they'd have to write an actual law saying "it's illegal for the president to use the power of his office to induce foreign governments to influence the presidential election by finding or manufacturing incriminating evidence on his or her opponent." Doing so -- as Trump did -- is an abuse of office regardless of whether it's a crime, and it's impeachable for that reason alone.

Mulvaney's gambit is in part to define "politically motivated" broadly so that said abuse of power is in the same set as "a brilliant foreign policy coup that will make the president more politically popular." It's inherently dishonest, but then so is Mulvaney.
posted by Gelatin at 11:58 AM on October 17 [7 favorites]


kirkaracha - by including Hillary Clinton who did not become president in spite of her margin in the popular vote, you would have to include the others who did not become president in spite of an up to 2.09% margin. That includes Andrew Jackson (as a loser), Grover Cleveland (as a loser), Samuel Tilden, Al Gore, Winfield Hancock, James Blaine, Richard Nixon (as a loser), Henry Clay (one of his losses), Hubert Humphrey, and Gerald Ford. So, she didn't do so badly.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:58 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Just learned of Dan Sinker's daily recap of all the impeachment news, impeachment.fyi, via Mike Monteiro's newsletter.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:07 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


Mulvaney's gambit is in part to define "politically motivated" broadly so that said abuse of power is in the same set as "a brilliant foreign policy coup that will make the president more politically popular." It's inherently dishonest, but then so is Mulvaney.

Reuters redirected the original link I posted to a different article, but I found it again, and as you were saying, Gelatin:
Mulvaney denied it was improper to conduct diplomacy with Ukraine through a private citizen who is the president’s personal lawyer. “There’s not a shadow policy here. The president is entitled to have whoever he wants to work,” Mulvaney told a White House news conference.
'Inherently dishonest,' indeed.
posted by katra at 12:14 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


So what if

What if Mulvaney is showing us here the first signs of an imminent palace revolution...

I mean, assumed that he wanted to tip the balance in exactly the way it seems to be tipping now, while trying to avoid the risk of getting in the way of Trump base wrath.
With an unrepentant and not very tactically-thinking boss, an unworkable and volatile situation at the workplace, and doom on the horizon, what would one do if not exactly this: say just a little too much, throw a few denial soundbites into the mix to make it seem like you're defending the other side, end with "get over it" and hope for the best.
posted by Namlit at 12:28 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Jim @Acosta, CNN: Trump outside attorney Jay Sekulow to CNN: "The legal team was not involved in the Acting Chief of Staff's press briefing."

What did I just say?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:33 PM on October 17 [35 favorites]


Guardian: Schiff: Mulvaney's quid pro quo admission makes impeachment situation 'much worse'
Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett)

Schiff when asked about Mulvaney admission of quid pro quo: The situation has “gone from very, very bad to much, much worse.” I asked if he hopes to bring Mulvaney in for a deposition. Schiff said he had “nothing further to add at this time.”
October 17, 2019
posted by katra at 12:34 PM on October 17 [17 favorites]


I mean, assumed that he wanted to tip the balance in exactly the way it seems to be tipping now

I'm missing why this would be good for Mulvaney, who is very much implicated in the scandal, and potentially in a criminal way.
posted by odinsdream at 12:37 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


WaPo on the Doral G7:
President Trump has awarded the 2020 Group of Seven summit of world leaders to his private company, scheduling the summit for June at his Trump Doral golf resort outside Miami, the White House announced Thursday.

That decision is without precedent in modern American history: The president used his public office to direct a massive contract to himself.
Or, as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington puts it:
“The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business.There appears to be no bottom to President Trump’s corruption. What matters most to him is his personal profit and personal advancement, not the best interests of the American people. There is now no question that the American government is being used as a public relations and marketing subsidiary of the Trump Organization.”
posted by box at 12:40 PM on October 17 [35 favorites]


My sense of Mulvaney's press conference is somewhat darker: this is the rhetoric of impending rebellion. To wit, the subtext I hear is, 'We did it, it's not wrong because everyone does it, so get over it. If you don't get over it--if you try to hold us accountable over some arcane, irrelevant concept like "legality"--you are attempting a coup, to overthrow the democratically-elected president without cause, and we will respond to an attempted coup however necessary.'

Obviously I hope I'm wrong, but either Mulvaney is dumber than even my very low opinion allows for, or this is a deliberate tactic. It's definitely confusing, because it belies a strategy that no sane, sensible, peace-loving person would pursue; but it sure did sound like a deliberate set of answers to me. (Or, he really is that dumb and actually thinks that his argument is persuasive and somehow not likely to land him in prison. But wow, that degree of stupid just makes me wonder how a person, like, remembers to eat and dress themselves.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:48 PM on October 17 [5 favorites]


At this point I think the other 6 of the G7 should decline the invitation. Particularly as each country likely has legislation similar to the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that will place those leaders in legal jeopardy for participating in American corruption.
posted by srboisvert at 12:55 PM on October 17 [69 favorites]


My sense of Mulvaney's press conference is somewhat darker: this is the rhetoric of impending rebellion.

This is exactly how many people said it was going to go:
"We didn't do it."
"You can't prove we did it."
"It's not that bad that we did it."
"We had very good reasons for doing it."
"It doesn't matter whether we did it, whether you can prove it, whether it's bad, or whether we had good reasons. Fuck you."
posted by Etrigan at 1:01 PM on October 17 [25 favorites]


At this point I think the other 6 of the G7 should decline the invitation.

You know, I think we need to start working on that. If you have friends in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, or United Kingdom, please ask them to contact their government and urge them to boycott such obvious corruption.

Unless Trump is donating the use of Doral free of charge (HA!) in which case they should go and drink that fucker dry and generally just trash the joint.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:06 PM on October 17 [32 favorites]


I'm missing why this would be good for Mulvaney, who is very much implicated in the scandal, and potentially in a criminal way.

Well, assuming some strategic thinking ability, there must be a (subjectively perceived) sweet spot where the risk tips. Like "if I pull the plug too early, and things end up not going as badly as I now think, that would be really bad for me // if I pull the plug too late, I would be very much implicated in the scandal, and potentially in a criminal way, and that would be very bad for me // if I pull the plug at the right time and in the right manner, I will save face in both directions, at least as much as that is possible at that point."

But ok, you needa think doing this.
posted by Namlit at 1:09 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


All this is how people in power behave if they expect to never be punished for their crimes in any meaningful way.
posted by wondermouse at 1:11 PM on October 17 [35 favorites]


Guardian: Perry reportedly informs Trump he intends to resign
Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs)

Scoop: Energy sec Rick Perry notified the president in writing on Air Force One on the way to Texas that he will be leaving his post soon, sources tell me, @jendeben and @AriNatter.
October 17, 2019
posted by katra at 1:17 PM on October 17 [22 favorites]


Scoop: Energy sec Rick Perry notified the president in writing on Air Force One on the way to Texas that he will be leaving his post soon, sources tell me, @jendeben and @AriNatter.

Getting clear of the bus?
posted by mike_honcho at 1:22 PM on October 17 [5 favorites]


This is exactly how many people said it was going to go

Unfortunately so. Whatever the specifics of how this impeachment finally goes down, it will be Trump's disordered mind that shapes events as much as anything. Personally, I don't see his presidency ending until some law enforcement unit raids the White House and physically removes him from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (even if following impeachment, conviction and removal from office), but hope I'm totally wrong about that. We really don't need to know what happens if the U.S. Secret Service has to decide between loyalty to country & constitution, or to president. But we'll continue learning answers to many questions we would prefer never to have to answer in the real world--not everyone can resign their way out of this train wreck, and sides will have to be chosen.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:24 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


WaPo: 3:20 p.m.: White House and Justice officials furious over Mulvaney’s remarks
One Trump adviser said Mulvaney did “far more damage” than Sondland’s testimony, calling it “totally inexplicable.”

“He literally said the thing the president and everyone else said did not happen,” the adviser said. [...]

Mulvaney also caught the Justice Department by surprise when he asserted that Ukraine’s “cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice” was connected to aid money being withheld. A department official said, “If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us.” [...]

A third outside official said it was incredible that in the middle of an impeachment inquiry and the chaos in Syria that the White House would also invite another emoluments issue. “Clearly, they just don’t care anymore,” this person said.
Guardian: A Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told reporters that she did not think it was appropriate for Trump to host the June G7 summit at one of his Florida resorts. [...] Ethics experts lambasted the decision as a classic example of self-dealing and called on lawmakers to denounce it. From the former director of the office of government ethics:
Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) If you work in a domed building in the nation's capital, you will either call this G-7 deal corrupt or your silence will scream out your own corruption. pic.twitter.com/kJp08HPLEe
October 17, 2019
posted by katra at 1:31 PM on October 17 [29 favorites]


Just a reminder, Trump still has his private security because he doesn't trust the secret service to be crooked enough for him.
posted by benzenedream at 1:36 PM on October 17 [28 favorites]


All this is how people in power behave if they expect to never be punished for their crimes in any meaningful way.

And you can expect not to be punished if the relevant judges and justices are owned and corrupt.
posted by rhizome at 1:41 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Let me guess, Erik Prince is offering that security for free in exchange for the duchy of Michigan.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:41 PM on October 17 [5 favorites]


Let me guess, Erik Prince is offering that security for free in exchange for the duchy of Michigan.

First of his name, Baron of Ypsilanti and Hero of Battle Creek, Scourge of Milwaukee
posted by mike_honcho at 1:44 PM on October 17 [15 favorites]


[Folks, general reminder to try and keep this focused on fairly directly impeachment-related stuff. That includes thinking about whether some bit of news or admin nonsense is genuinely about the impeachment situation in a meaningful way or is just more The Sort Of Thing Someone Maybe Ought To Be Impeached For, because given that the latter is kind of every damn thing that happens with the Trump administration at this point that's casting a too-wide net and is gonna blow us back up into megathread territory.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:49 PM on October 17 [13 favorites]


box: There is now no question that the American government is being used as a public relations and marketing subsidiary of the Trump Organization

Want to have influence in Trump's AmericaTM? Listen to U.S. State Department and stay at Trump properties!
Former Mexican ambassador says State Department is telling world leaders to stay at Trump hotels
What's the point of public service if you can't profit off of it?
Ian Millhiser for Think Progress, Nov 1, 2017.

A former top Mexican diplomat accused the Trump administration this week of using official diplomatic channels to funnel business to Donald Trump’s hotels.

Arturo Sarukhan, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2013, tweeted on Tuesday that a former U.S. diplomat told him the U.S. State Department’s protocol emphasizes to world leaders that they should use Trump’s D.C. hotel for official visits.

benzenedream: Just a reminder, Trump still has his private security because he doesn't trust the secret service to be crooked enough for him.

Trump’s Private Security Force: an Operational and Legal Swamp -- Trump's precendent-breaking decision to retain a private security force raises troubling questions about transparency and accountability. (Manuel Madrid, January 20, 2017)
President-elect Donald Trump doesn't seem to tire of setting new precedents. Despite being provided with a newly bolstered Secret Service detail after the election, the president-elect has retained his own private security and intelligence force, breaking with tradition and creating operational and potentially legal problems.

Last month, Trump spokesman Jason Miller responded to a Politico article citing supposed fault lines between Secret Service agents and members of Trump's private security team, calling it "wildly out of proportion." Yet Miller confirmed that Trump will continue to be surrounded by "longtime allies and advisers." Among those is Keith Schiller, a former New York police detective who has worked as Trump's bodyguard for 17 years and recently as his head of security during the campaign.
See also: 11 Private Security Firms Guarding Donald Trump -- Donald Trump’s longtime fascination with having his own private security force is now a hefty campaign expense that might be illegal. (Olivia Nuzzi for The Daily Beast, April 13, 2017)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:50 PM on October 17 [17 favorites]


White House and Justice officials furious over Mulvaney’s remarks

This is one of the other major sea-changes with the Trump admin vs well pretty much every political movement in history.

Everyone making statements seems to be just doing so as an individual: there appears to be no actual organisation or discussion ever happens in the background. They just get up in front of the mike and let whatever passes for consciousness in their minds stream.

Like they're all working towards for Fuhrer, but as game show contestants, some sort of "Apprentice to the Fuhrer" type deathmatch.

That they are so very shit at it is a major indictment of all those keeping the show running.
posted by Buntix at 1:50 PM on October 17 [23 favorites]


Everyone making statements seems to be just doing so as an individual: there appears to be no actual organisation or discussion ever happens in the background. They just get up in front of the mike and let whatever passes for consciousness in their minds stream.

I quoted something about this upthread from (checks date-stamp) yesterday: But White House officials are becoming increasingly frustrated at revelations from the closed-door hearings. Given that there is no presidential counsel in the room, they struggle to frame a defense, learning about almost daily bombshells only from news reports, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Emphasis mine. Without leadership of any form, people are spinning their own realities. And some folks are making and lobbing their own bombs. Who cares? Get over it.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:59 PM on October 17 [6 favorites]


The G7 meeting: Miami in June. What a thoroughly comfortable notion. (To be fair: Miami in August is worse)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:02 PM on October 17


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

A spokesman for the department allowed that it may appear as though Ms. Chao meets with Kentucky folks a lot, but disputed that there was anything odd about this — or that the state has received more than its share of federal dollars.

Far from fretting about the appearance of preferential treatment, Mr. McConnell has embraced it. His re-election campaign tweeted out the Politico article about Ms. Chao’s meetings as proof that “Mitch McConnell is a Kentucky Asset.”

This is classic McConnell. The majority leader is not beloved by Kentucky voters. His dismal approval numbers back home frequently earn him the distinction as the Senate’s most unpopular member. He often responds to critics by touting his ability to bring home federal bacon.
Why can't the Democratic Party find a serious challenger to Mitch McConnell? It seems absurd, and also extremely urgent.
posted by mumimor at 2:02 PM on October 17 [22 favorites]


White House acknowledges strings attached in Trump withholding Ukraine aid (Reuters)
Democratic members of the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry pounced on Mulvaney’s remarks.

Representative Gerald Connolly said: “I guess having failed at discrediting the facts of this case, they’ve decided on a new tactic, which is to admit them and basically say: ‘So what’?

“The answer to that is, well the ‘so what’ is you’re going to be impeached because that’s abuse of office. And extortion, the last time I checked, is still a crime,” he said.
posted by katra at 2:04 PM on October 17 [26 favorites]


Everyone making statements seems to be just doing so as an individual: there appears to be no actual organisation or discussion ever happens in the background. They just get up in front of the mike and let whatever passes for consciousness in their minds stream.

This is a regular theme in Jay Rosen's criticism of press coverage of "the White House":
There is no White House. Not in the sense that journalists have always assumed. It's just Trump— and people who work in the building. No continuity between the two can be posited. That term, "the White House" is still in use. But it has lost its referent.
posted by Jpfed at 2:06 PM on October 17 [21 favorites]


Why can't the Democratic Party find a serious challenger to Mitch McConnell?

Question coming from genuine ignorance: is Amy McGrath not considered a serious challenger?
posted by Jpfed at 2:09 PM on October 17 [8 favorites]


And NPR's headline for Mulvany's quote is deftly spun as a defense of Trump (in my read): 'Get Over It': Politics Is Part Of Foreign Policy, Mulvaney Says
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that President Trump expected concessions from Ukraine's president in exchange for engagement — but said that's just how business is done in diplomacy.
Quid pro quo ISN'T POLITICS. And this isn't a little "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," it was "dig up dirt on my political opponent, Joe Biden, and his son, and I'll give you the military aid that my country has already promised you." Or un-spun: "if you don't dig up dirt on Biden, I won't give you military funding we previously offered." That's coercion, using the power of his position to again work with a foreign government to gain leverage over his political opponent.
Mulvaney said that he wasn't involved with the other request that Trump made of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.

But he did admit that Trump held up aid to Ukraine as part of a quid pro quo — something Trump himself has denied.
But remember what Your Childhood Pet Rock quoted upthread: Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to the testimony.


Emphasis mine -- and a reminder that 'Drug deal' is a colloquialism in govt and military. (link to prior comment on this).

Grifters and liars, all of 'em.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:09 PM on October 17 [20 favorites]


Bolton may be a warmongering psychopath but, by god, he’s gonna do it by the book!

I gotta say, I kind of respect that. Although I will feel massively ambivalent if his testimony ends up being the lynchpin in Trump’s undoing.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:23 PM on October 17 [11 favorites]


The G7 meeting: Miami in June. What a thoroughly comfortable notion.

June is the off-season when Doral is almost vacant and losing the most money. Rich people don't go to Doral in June. Hence the need to force world leaders to go there and grift taxpayer dollars to pay for their hospitality.

Seems like another article for impeachment.
posted by JackFlash at 2:27 PM on October 17 [43 favorites]


Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President (William H. McRaven, NYT Opinion)
William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, is a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command and former chancellor of the University of Texas system.
As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”

Those words echoed with me throughout the week. It is easy to destroy an organization if you have no appreciation for what makes that organization great. We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.

[...] And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.
Guardian: "McRaven is known as the architect of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. He has publicly attacked the president before, in a 2018 open letter to the president that ran in the Washington Post, criticizing his decision to revoke the clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, who has criticized Trump’s behavior as “treasonous” and called him “wholly in the pocket of Putin.”"
posted by katra at 2:36 PM on October 17 [25 favorites]


A linchpin is the pin that kept a wagon wheel on the wagon's axle. The point being that it is the thing that maintains the coherence and stability of the whole wagon allowing it to continue moving forward. Without it the wheels fly off and the wagon crashes to a stop.

So there is zero chance Bolton is any sort of linchpin as there is clearly no structure holding together either the metaphorical wagon of the White House Administration or the impeachment process which will mirror it.

I don't think there is a metaphor that can handle this.
posted by srboisvert at 2:38 PM on October 17 [7 favorites]


Dumpster fire? Shitstorm?
posted by Lyme Drop at 2:42 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


I gotta say, I kind of respect that. Although I will feel massively ambivalent if his testimony ends up being the lynchpin in Trump’s undoing.

Maybe a better metaphor is when Batman (thinking 60s-era TV Batman) is attacked by a swarm of henchmen, and grabs one of them and shoves him to take out three-four others. He's still a henchman, but he can be a temporary weapon. BOFF!

Anyway, if Bolton wants to throw himself at his fellow evildoers, I'm not gonna stop him, but I'm not gonna give him a medal either. At the end of the day, he was still doing crimes for the Orange Menace and deserves to be in jail.
posted by emjaybee at 2:44 PM on October 17 [11 favorites]


Lyme Drop beat me. I was going to add clusterfuck.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:44 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


ABC News Jonathan Karl: Let's be clear. What you just described is a quid pro quo. Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. ... I have news for everybody. Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy. Elections have consequences.


This is Mulvaney literally admitting that there was a quid pro quo. But the crazy thing is what Trump wanted ... the DNC server! From Ukraine! "I want to see the server!"

This is just wacko crazy and nobody in the White House was willing to say that to Trump.

What interest or even right does Trump have to see the private DNC mail server? Why didn't someone just get an old Commodore 64 and take into the Oval Officer so that the White House photographer could take a picture of Trump triumphantly pointing at it with his stubby finger saying "See!"

I beginning to wonder if Trump plans on using the insanity defense in his impeachment trial.
posted by JackFlash at 2:47 PM on October 17 [23 favorites]


June is the off-season when Doral is almost vacant and losing the most money. Rich people don't go to Doral in June. Hence the need to force world leaders to go there and grift taxpayer dollars to pay for their hospitality.

On the plus side, all attendees get a goody bag with genuine Trump brand bedbugs
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:49 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Proposed Bolton metaphor: snake-head
posted by Reverend John at 2:53 PM on October 17


beginning to wonder if Trump plans on using the insanity defense in his impeachment trial.
If not then surely when he's released into the wild and has to face a million other lawsuits.
posted by Namlit at 2:55 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


[One deleted; if people want to talk about Dem challengers to McConnell or other stuff, please make a separate thread for that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:19 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Mulvaney just issued a statement flatly contradicting himself, claiming there was no quid pro quo.

I call this an omnishambles.
posted by suelac at 3:20 PM on October 17 [17 favorites]


I beginning to wonder if Trump plans on using the insanity defense in his impeachment trial.

No such thing, unless Congress decides there is and there's no reason why it should be.

By the text (and as Justice Kagan said "we are all textualists now") impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors has the flavor of strict liability, or in some aspects maybe the violation of a duty of care and loyalty. No specific intent, or really any criminal mens rea or other scienter is required, so state of mind doesn't matter unless that somehow bears on the gravity of the misconduct as framed by the Articles of Impeachment delivered by the House.

More likely would be a Reganesque dotard defense, which is a bit different than an insanity defense as it attempts to pass the buck because too senile to be personally responsbile. But in impeachment, the Senate doesn't have to care. It just votes, and SCOTUS will not interfere with removal because Congress didn't permit or accept an affirmative defense of insanity in trial in the Senate.

Plus, Reagan didn't have a sundowning twitter feed and habit of bragging about everything he'd now have to plead ignorance of.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:21 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


In case you were still wondering if Mulvaney's admission of quid-pro-quo was some kind of strategic gambit or perhaps a blunder, well he's already trying to take it back. From The Hill, "Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe":
Mulvaney issued a statement Thursday afternoon accusing the media of “misconstruing” his earlier remarks to the press at the White House “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.”

“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney said. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”

[...]

“Did [Trump] also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that was it. That’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney told reporters at the earlier afternoon briefing.
posted by mhum at 3:21 PM on October 17 [8 favorites]


Guardian: According to Mulvaney’s new statement:
“The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.
Emphasis added, because the 'concerns over corruption' led to "Mr. Trump’s request for a probe of the Bidens in a July 25 call with Ukraine’s president [that] has sparked the impeachment inquiry in the House," and it appears that Trump's preferred defense is currently:
“He honestly believes that he did nothing wrong. And he honestly believes that the Bidens have been involved in impropriety and it hasn’t been investigated and, as president of the United States, he has the duty to do it,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who was with Trump for a rally in Louisiana last week.
posted by katra at 3:38 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


I stand corrected. So it's the old "I never said this thing that I just said" ploy. He's trying to drive us nuts is what he is.
posted by Namlit at 3:40 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


You can't jump up and shout "You're damn right I ordered the Code Red" and then come back later and say well maybe it was just a Code Pink.
posted by JackFlash at 3:41 PM on October 17 [13 favorites]


I call this an omnishambles.

"Five monkeys trying to hump a football" was a term of art where I worked once upon a time.
posted by jquinby at 3:42 PM on October 17 [14 favorites]


Even more than the corruption, the defining attribute of this administration is incompetence.
posted by PhineasGage at 3:43 PM on October 17 [10 favorites]


“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney said. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”

“Did [Trump] also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that was it. That’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney told reporters at the earlier afternoon briefing.


See, I never just did things just to do them. Come on, what am I gonna do, just all of a sudden jump up and grind my feet on somebody’s couch like it’s something to do? Come on, I got a little more sense then that.

…Yeah, I remember grinding my feet on Eddie’s couch.
posted by mike_honcho at 3:44 PM on October 17 [30 favorites]


I think you might mean 'malcompetence' , Phineas
pines for the simpler days of W
posted by Johnny Waterbed at 3:45 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Cooooooool.... Let's see what he says under oath!

All of this is an excellent demonstration of why there's a separation between the political appointees and the civil servants. It's fine for the politicians to say 'go stop crimes of type XYZ!' And if that class of criminals happens to include some politicians, well, so be it. But that's very different from the president wielding the full weight of the government to go after specific political adversaries. I'm hoping (ha, not really) that the FEC finds that this was a $391-million-dollar favor, owed back to the government by drumpfco.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:48 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


Everyone in Washington is under oaf
posted by Namlit at 3:49 PM on October 17 [44 favorites]


At this point I think the other 6 of the G7 should decline the invitation.

Much more likely is that Putin shows up unexpectedly surprising everyone and Trump says that it's his golf club and he can invite anyone he wants.
posted by JackFlash at 4:16 PM on October 17 [27 favorites]


And he honestly believes that the Bidens have been involved in impropriety and it hasn’t been investigated and, as president of the United States, he has the duty to do it,”

Fire up The Mystery Machine kids! The leader of the free world’s most important job is to prosecute Democrats!
posted by valkane at 4:18 PM on October 17 [5 favorites]


In the parallel Watergate world, taking illegal action (break-ins, extortion, pay-offs, etc) was always presidential conspiracy theory connected as well. Also even to the uncomfortableness of his staff.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:24 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


I know I'll be writing my prime minister here in Canada about attendance at G7, just have to hope we'll have a reasonable one voted in next week.
posted by meowf at 4:43 PM on October 17 [9 favorites]


Mulvaney is also a victim of right wing punditry. He must have read somewhere that of course the president can ask for help in an ongoing investigation, and forgot those articles are meant for boneheads.

Even without quid quo pro, this is extortion. Trump put a gun to the head of Ukraine and secretly asked them to find something his own intelligence community says does not exist. Trump doesn't need to personally benefit for his actions to be criminal.
posted by xammerboy at 5:45 PM on October 17 [11 favorites]


Mulvaney Says, Then Denies, That Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid as Quid Pro Quo (NYT)
Mr. Mulvaney said holding up Ukraine’s aid was a normal part of foreign policy, and he compared it to the foreign aid to Central America that the administration froze until Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras agreed to adopt the immigration policies pressed by Mr. Trump.

Asked whether he had admitted to a quid pro quo, Mr. Mulvaney said, “We do that all the time with foreign policy."

His answer ignored the distinction — raised by many of the president’s critics — between holding up foreign aid to further American interests and holding up foreign aid to further Mr. Trump’s personal interests.

Senior White House aides like Mr. Mulvaney are often largely immune from congressional subpoenas to discuss their private conversations with the president, but talking about them publicly in such an extended way could undermine that legal protection.
posted by katra at 5:53 PM on October 17 [8 favorites]


Quid pro d'oh!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:21 PM on October 17 [17 favorites]


Mr. Mulvaney said the hotel would put on the summit “at cost.” “I think the president has pretty much made it very clear since he got here that he doesn’t profit from being here,” he said. “He has no interest in profit from being here.”

Are you kidding me!?
posted by xammerboy at 6:23 PM on October 17 [20 favorites]


And the free publicity? And the additional revenue? And at cost. Does he decide the cost?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:52 PM on October 17 [6 favorites]


Mr. Mulvaney said the hotel would put on the summit “at cost.”

During the June off-season Trump has a bunch of staff at his resort standing around doing little or nothing, coming out of his pocket. If he puts them to work "at cost" then the money comes out of the taxpayers pockets. It's all a grift.
posted by JackFlash at 7:18 PM on October 17 [39 favorites]


Anyway, it doesn't matter. It's "appearance of impropriety". The Republicans made Carter sell his peanut farm. They don't get to suddenly decide that now it's OK for one of their guys to own an international hotel chain and force government employees to stay there and host government business there.

Just the G7 decision alone is worthy of impeachment because it is a clear and direct violation of the emoluments clause.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State
This isn't rocket surgery. Trump hosting the G7 at one of his hotels is clearly and plainly against the Constitution.
posted by sotonohito at 7:25 PM on October 17 [50 favorites]


That is the foreign emoluments clause. For this situation, you must reference the domestic emoluments clause:

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:29 PM on October 17 [8 favorites]


“There’s difficulties going various places,” Mulvaney insisted. “There’s one place, I won’t say where it was, we actually had to figure out if we were going to have oxygen tanks for the participants, because of the altitude.”
posted by xammerboy at 7:35 PM on October 17


“The president has been very candid about whether he wants Russia to rejoin the G7, they used to be part of that organization,” Mulvaney said. “We go to the G7 and what dominates so much of the discussion? Russia. Wouldn’t it be better to have them inside as part of the conversation?”

Trump is going to invite Russia to the G7 whether or not anyone else wants them there...
posted by xammerboy at 7:37 PM on October 17 [8 favorites]


[One deleted; maybe let's spin off a G-7 thread if folks want to talk in more depth about that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:49 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


“He honestly believes that he did nothing wrong. And he honestly believes that the Bidens have been involved in impropriety and it hasn’t been investigated and, as president of the United States, he has the duty to do it,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.)

This is the horrible truth, right here, ironically said by someone (Kennedy) who probably didn't realize the gravity of what they were saying at the time.

They are high on their own supply. Tripping fucking balls. They have fed the exhaust line from the bus they're riding in back through the vents—and have no idea why that could be a bad idea. Anyone who questioned it has been thrown out.

The far right spent decades and created a media machine capable of delivering bald-faced lies to the public with absolute sincerity and not a trace of shame, but somewhere along the line a bunch of them started actually believing in what was on the screen. And those true believers are now in charge.

The part that ought to scare you is: if someone's the kind of person who believes that the Bidens are secretly corrupt petro-oligarchs, and that the DNC had its email server secreted away to Ukraine, what other stuff do they believe?
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:05 PM on October 17 [54 favorites]


Good scam artists come to believe their own scams, but this is like the random guy at his computer believing he really is the Nigerian Prince.
posted by xammerboy at 8:17 PM on October 17 [20 favorites]


if someone's the kind of person who believes that the Bidens are secretly corrupt petro-oligarchs, and that the DNC had its email server secreted away to Ukraine, what other stuff do they believe?

That they don't need a coordinated strategy to defend against the impeachment:
In an email, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, rejected questions about the West Wing’s approach to the impeachment inquiry.

“We have stated this several times,” she said. “There has not been any effort to put together a war room. The president did nothing wrong and we are still working over here.” [...]

In the West Wing, aides who have seen Mr. Trump survive potentially debilitating scandals like the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape a month before the 2016 election, and the appointment of a special counsel with wide-ranging powers to investigate him, are shrugging off impeachment as just another bump in the road. [...]

Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor and one of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving aides, has told reporters that Trump supporters will not leave him because of impeachment. She joins a group that includes Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers, and other aides and allies, who believe that anything resembling a White House “war room” is needless and would make them look as if they were under siege.
posted by katra at 9:01 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


House lawyers: Trump trying to ‘obstruct his own impeachment’ (Politico)
The allegation came in a stinging 66-page court filing as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bid to secure testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn, whom Democrats consider to be the star witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“A president with the power to obstruct his own impeachment through capacious grants of absolute immunity would be a president who is above the law,” House lawyers, led by House General Counsel Douglas Letter, wrote in the filing.

The House’s lawyers cited the recent missive from the current top White House lawyer declaring that the Trump administration would refuse all cooperation with the House’s impeachment inquiry, calling it “illegitimate” and “invalid.” The blanket stonewalling, House lawyers say, requires a court to intervene or else Trump could be effectively shielded from accountability.

“If the president could deprive the committee of information required for its impeachment inquiry into his own misconduct, the president could potentially thwart his accountability for that conduct,” the attorneys said, referring to Trump’s efforts to block witness testimony and document production. “No further discussion will resolve an impasse dictated by the president himself,” they added. [...]

The House lawyers emphasized why they consider McGahn — more than any other witness — the most important to determine whether Trump should be impeached on the basis of obstructing the Mueller investigation.
posted by katra at 9:21 PM on October 17 [9 favorites]


"Particularly as each country likely has legislation similar to the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that will place those leaders in legal jeopardy for participating in American corruption."

Unfortunately, the FCPA is widely considered the strongest anti-corruption statute in the world (and US companies bitch about it endlessly); while some countries have followed the FCPA, I don't know of any that are as strong as the FCPA. Canada and the UK have pretty strong statutes modeled on the US statute, and I understand the EU has a reasonably strong statute (although I don't know as much about it), but if you're counting on the FCPA, you need to always keep in the mind the US FCPA is by far the strongest available.

"Why can't the Democratic Party find a serious challenger to Mitch McConnell? It seems absurd, and also extremely urgent."

So, I went to law school with one of the frequently-cited potential Democratic challengers to McConnell (it's not McGrath), and he fucking suuuuuuuuucks and is corrupt himself. I mean obviously I'd still vote for him if I lived in Kentucky, but with the knowledge that he is a corrupt misogynist asshole.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:15 PM on October 17 [16 favorites]


Even if that other dude weren’t corrupt, the question itself reeks of Green Lanternism. It’s like asking why the GOP can’t field a credible candidate against Dianne Feinstein. The weather is unfavorable and the incumbent and supporters control all the boats.
posted by notyou at 10:59 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


So... at a rally last night in Dallas Trump said (amongst other things) the following:

1. The forces in northern Syria should just "scrap a little" with each other;

2. The Academy Awards are failing because of stupid people who oppose him;

3. Dictators like him;

4. Unlike Hunter Biden, Trump's children do not benefit from nepotism;

5. Texas "made a fortune" due to federal money injected into the state after Hurricane Harvey (without acknowledging that the hurricane killed more than 100 people);

6. Past US administrations have wanted the ceasefire he arranged in Northern Syria for 15 or 20 years (notwithstanding that the civil war in Syria only began 9 years ago);

7. Wind power means that, if the wind's not blowing, you can't watch TV.

Source
.
posted by essexjan at 12:11 AM on October 18 [15 favorites]




“I think the president has pretty much made it very clear since he got here that he doesn’t profit from being here,” [Mulvaney] said. “He has no interest in profit from being here.”

By the way, note how Mulvaney addressed the obvious emoluments issue by moving the goalposts, claiming Trump doesn't profit, while the emoluments clause forbids payment (that's what an emolument is).

And as David Farenthold has been pointing out for years, Trump's finances are notoriously opaque, yet there's ample reason to believe the claim he doesn't profit is false anyway.
posted by Gelatin at 2:43 AM on October 18 [25 favorites]


If Giuliani can defy congressional subpoena without consequence, then we are functionally done as a country with rule of law. Call your representative.
posted by Gadarene at 5:11 AM on October 18 [39 favorites]


Rich people don't go to Doral in June.

Unless the golf is incredible (no idea as I don't play), I doubt rich people ever go to the Doral, at least not more than once. I've stayed at this hotel a dozen times, because a client of mine with nearby offices had a deal there and insisted. It's not a great hotel, at all: it's completely generic. It's not even expensive: I went on Orbitz to look at photos to see if it had been upgraded recently (no) and late fall rooms started at a little over $200 (plus, I'm certain, a daily resort fee) and topped out around $500-600 for rooms that also aren't anything special. The separate buildings Trump touts as being so great for the delegations are a pain in the ass; to get to the restaurants, meeting rooms, pool, etc., you can hoof it and arrive sweaty or you can wait and wait and wait to go by cart. I did appreciate that chameleons often snuck into the ground floor rooms, but I'm weird like that.

The Doral isn't close to the best hotel in Miami, let alone the country, if one goal is giving the G7 a high end hospitality experience. The folks on Succession would never consider it; Roman's personal Vietnam was staying at a Marriott In short, it's a poor person's idea of what a swanky resort is like. /snobbery
posted by carmicha at 5:34 AM on October 18 [63 favorites]


I think an emolument is anything of value. The inspiration for the emoluments clause was a fancy ashtray some king was handing out to diplomats. The founders were actually freaked out that a foreign king was handing out gifts.
posted by xammerboy at 5:36 AM on October 18 [9 favorites]


The founders were actually freaked out that a foreign king was handing out gifts.

Foreign influence seems to have been a big concern to them; hence, the President must be a natural-born citizen, etc. One of the big things that Alexander Hamilton's political foes hammered away at was the idea that he was somehow beholden to England; perhaps because he had defended Loyalists in court.
posted by thelonius at 5:41 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]


Apparently, one reason the hotel was perfect for the event is that is has "ample parking". Also, I learned that Trump not only names hotels after himself, but then also names all the meeting rooms after himself of family members as well, so you have the pleasure of staying at Trump hotel then meeting in the Donald Trump room and then socializing later in the Ivanka Trump ballroom. Your drunken night probably ends in rueful tears in the Eric Trump hotel bar.

The hotel thing, btw, is absolutely impeachable. It's not a question. This is an impeachable offense committed in the open, and this action had to be taken in relation to the other impeachment charges. Trump must have basically reached the conclusion that using his hotel for the G7 would be a smart move at this point. I'm not sure he's wrong, because the world is going to freak out, while the average voter will be confused and not see what the big deal is, eventually concluding that all this impeachment stuff must be overblown.
posted by xammerboy at 5:46 AM on October 18 [37 favorites]


One thing that’s been odd to me is how the press has talked almost from the beginning about foreign emoluments but never domestic emoluments — even though Trump has been paying himself for meals and rooms for security details and other aides every time he goes to Mar A Lago or any of his other properties. Doral definitely puts his abuses to another level but this really isn’t new.

Also, go back and reread the two emoluments clauses — notice how they are different. You can receive a foreign emolument with the approval of congress but there is no such exception for domestic emoluments. You get your salary and that’s it — no other payments or gifts are allowed.

When the House does write up articles of impeachment, this absolutely needs to be one of the charges and might be the easiest and most straightforward one to get a conviction. His actions are out in the open and the GOP’s willing abeyance of their constitutional role needs to be made clear to the voters.

And if we’re lucky enough to impeach him for this crime, Congress then needs to claw back every penny he charged the government.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:35 AM on October 18 [42 favorites]


Republicans seek to delay effort to censure Schiff after Cummings' death (Juliegrace Brufke, The Hill)

Otherwise we might have seen it introduced this week.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:58 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals (WaPo)
Nick Akerman, a prosecutor who investigated President Richard Nixon, said that unlike Watergate, when prosecutors struggled to figure out Nixon’s role in the events they were investigating, a growing body of evidence points directly to Trump.

“Here, you’ll have that in spades,” Akerman said. “All these individuals, all testifying that this is what happened. . . . It’s just cascading at this point.”

Akerman said that unlike Nixon’s loyal cadre of aides, Trump’s outer circle of aides and advisers is increasingly unwilling to shield him from what some view as his own dubious behavior.

[...] And, he added, each new witness and detail seems to reveal a common thread: “You’ve got Trump clearly involved.”
Next question for Rick Perry: Will he testify? (Politico)
“For the most part, he has a lot to lose by getting embroiled in this and he’s not going to want to hide things,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve relationships with administration officials. “He’s going to want to extract himself as cleanly as he can from this snare.”
posted by katra at 7:00 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]


The hotel thing, btw, is absolutely impeachable. It's not a question.

If you'd asked me three years ago if members of congress would wave away something like this like it's nothing to get upset about, I'd have been incredulous, now I expect it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:21 AM on October 18 [21 favorites]


Impeachment is too important to leave to Congress — it’s going to take mass mobilization (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)
A lawless president won’t be constrained by establishment politics alone.

Watergate is the ur-text for how Americans imagine the defeat of a sitting president, but it shouldn’t be how to think about the impeachment of Donald Trump. […]

Elected officials in the Democratic Party, like established politicians everywhere, aren’t instinctively comfortable with the idea of popular resistance, but it’s not an entirely alien concept to them, either. In the extreme political emergency of 2017, they embraced protest politics. That started with emergency mass demonstrations at airports to block Trump’s initial travel ban, continued through the Women’s March, and was seen repeatedly on Capitol Hill and in congressional town halls as people came out en masse to oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act.

A lawless government cannot be constrained by the institutions of the law alone. It is popular mass resistance that creates a crisis point and forces action. And if Democrats want to beat Trump’s stonewalling tactics in 2019, they should consider doing it again.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:33 AM on October 18 [22 favorites]


“I earned my spurs on the battlefield … and Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor,” Mattis said.

Hey, fuck that guy. He made this ha, ha, not funny joke in a scripted speech at the fancy white-tie Al Smith Dinner. This wasn't a criticism of Trump. He followed it up with a crack that he didn't take Trump's criticism seriously because the criticizes every military man except Colonel Sanders. He's apologizing for Trump.

This is the guy who goes around on his book tour refusing to answer any questions about his time in the White House because he owes Trump "a duty of silence." The same guy who never misses an opportunity to trash Barrack Obama, who he also served under. The same guy who got millions of dollars on the board of the grifter blood testing company Theranos trying to push its quackery medicine on the U.S. Army.

If he actually gave a shit about his country he wouldn't be functioning, to this day, as a Trump enabler.
posted by JackFlash at 7:45 AM on October 18 [73 favorites]


suelac: Mulvaney just issued a statement flatly contradicting himself, claiming there was no quid pro quo.

xammerboy: Mr. Mulvaney said the hotel would put on the summit “at cost.” “I think the president has pretty much made it very clear since he got here that he doesn’t profit from being here,” he said. “He has no interest in profit from being here.”

Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who really matter ( Nick Cohen for The Guardian, Feb 4, 2017)
Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you. They can harm no one, if no one listens to them. Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you. Believers are the liars’ enablers. Their votes give the demagogue his power. Their trust turns the charlatan into the president. Their credulity ensures that the propaganda of half-calculating and half-mad fanatics has the power to change the world.
And/or the lies are about taking one of representative democracy’s creeds – authenticity – and turning it on its head. (Why Europe’s new populists tell so many lies, previously).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:48 AM on October 18 [10 favorites]


The Unraveling of Donald Trump (Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic) As the impeachment inquiry intensifies, some associates of the president predict that his already erratic behavior is going to get worse.
“He’s grown more comfortable in the job and less willing to assimilate new information and trust new advisers,” a former White House official told me. “He’s decided to throw caution to the wind and go it alone, especially when he’s stressed and feels under attack and threatened in various ways. Then his worst impulses and vices shine through.”

....

“I think what we’re viewing, if you think about the human side of it, is the man has no life. He just has no life,” the person close to him told me.
posted by box at 7:50 AM on October 18 [11 favorites]


Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you. They can harm no one, if no one listens to them. Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you. Believers are the liars’ enablers. Their votes give the demagogue his power. Their trust turns the charlatan into the president. Their credulity ensures that the propaganda of half-calculating and half-mad fanatics has the power to change the world.

It's honestly a lot of chickens coming home to roost. When people get given a shit deal by a capitalist, do they blame the capitalist? Sure. But what are they going to do about it? That guy has money, connections, power. The system isn't just made for the capitalist, it's made by the capitalist. But they still want some semblance of justice. So they turn their vengeance towards the only thing in the whole fakakta they think they can do something about, the immigrants. They want to believe the lies that charlatans and demagogues tell them because otherwise it means they have no power and they just have to sit there and take it. The system has failed them, so burn it all down unless they get theirs.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:11 AM on October 18 [7 favorites]


“I think what we’re viewing, if you think about the human side of it, is the man has no life. He just has no life,” the person close to him told me.

Some people think getting to do nothing is the biggest perk of being rich and powerful; they're the ones who like sitting around in fancy rooms and being waited on hand and foot. Other people think getting to do all the things is the biggest perk of being rich and powerful. They're travelling the world and making a difference. Vis-a-vis presidents, Obama, Clinton, Carter, are the latter; most modern Republican presidents (with the possible exception of Bush II)--and none more so than Trump-- are the former.
posted by carmicha at 8:21 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]



If you'd asked me three years ago if members of congress would wave away something like this like it's nothing to get upset about, I'd have been incredulous, now I expect it.


Marco Rubio has already said he's completely fine with it. He has absolutely no shame; it's sickening.
posted by Gadarene at 8:26 AM on October 18 [7 favorites]


If you'd asked me three years ago if members of congress would wave away something like this like it's nothing to get upset about, I'd have been incredulous, now I expect it.

Not just members of Congress; members of the party that claims to be the particular defenders of the Constitution. (Ron Howard narrator voice: They aren't.)
posted by Gelatin at 8:26 AM on October 18 [5 favorites]


Some people think getting to do nothing is the biggest perk of being rich and powerful; they're the ones who like sitting around in fancy rooms and being waited on hand and foot.

Trump likes to "make deals" and play golf. Except all his deals turn to shit and he would be richer if he'd just coasted off his dad's money. It's really a shame he didn't have a gambling addiction, which might have been enough to burn through the buffer of wealth that has (at least until now) protected him from the consequences of his actions.
posted by Foosnark at 8:31 AM on October 18 [10 favorites]


The Unraveling of Donald Trump

He’s decided to throw caution to the wind and go it alone, especially when he’s stressed and feels under attack and threatened in various ways. Then his worst impulses and vices shine through.

The same headlines and stories for three years. Four including the campaign.

As a wise man who now enjoys over 50% favorability among Democrats once said: "Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. G'fool me can't get fooled again."
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:35 AM on October 18 [10 favorites]


Believers are the liars’ enablers.

I just saw on Twitter an interesting point: the Christian Right is drawn to Trump because he communicates his message using the political equivalent of parables. He slid neatly into the giant "seriously but not literally" hole that the Evangelicals have been holding open to explain the contradictions of Biblical literalism.
posted by Etrigan at 8:38 AM on October 18 [15 favorites]


Carmicha said: I doubt rich people ever go to the Doral, at least not more than once.

This is true of all Trump properties I've been forced to attend. They're midrate 3 star at best, with terrible service, crap linens, ridiculously overpriced everything, and decor from a well appointed brothel. I would choose a Hilton Garden Suites off the highway before I would choose a Trump property on purpose.

Frankly, emoluments or no, he should be impeached just for making foreign leaders have to act like that is what constitutes a luxury hotel in this country. There's a reason a ton of foreign leaders have booked blocks of rooms at Trump properties, but then stayed at better hotels, just recognizing that the fee to Donald is just part of doing business with the United States.

If him moving the G7 to Doral doesn't make the House add emoluments to the impeachment charges, then I will be sadly disappointed in them. This is a no-brain winner, even easily explained to the redhats.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:46 AM on October 18 [24 favorites]


He slid neatly into the giant "seriously but not literally" hole that the Evangelicals have been holding open to explain the contradictions of Biblical literalism.

Meh. Biblical 'literalism' was invented entirely to enable racism and slavery. That's your nexus right there between Trump and the white fundagelical crowd. No need to reach further for second-order excuses. That observation isn't wrong, but it isn't necessary either.
posted by bcd at 8:48 AM on October 18 [18 favorites]


Remember when he was "smart" to not pay his taxes? Same for making money off his hotels while Prez. No one who loves him will care at all.
posted by agregoli at 8:56 AM on October 18 [7 favorites]


Donald Trump’s sanity is not the question. The real issue is how he got into office
Gary Younge/The Guardian
While writing a New Yorker profile on Donald Trump in the late 1990s, Mark Singer attempted to discover something about the businessman’s private thoughts, as opposed to his outsized, public persona. When Singer asked him what he thought about when shaving in front of the mirror, Trump did not really understand the question.

“OK, I guess I’m asking, ‘do you consider yourself ideal company?’” Singer said. “You really want to know what I consider ideal company?” replied Trump. “A total piece of ass.”
...
These inclinations were clear when he stood for the presidency. He has been every bit as bigoted, undisciplined, indiscreet, thin-skinned and braggadocious as his campaign promised. And he won.

This was not because people didn’t see those things, but because they either didn’t care, cared about other things more, preferred him to the alternative, or simply didn’t show up. As such, his victory marked a high point for the naked appeal of white supremacy in particular and rightwing populism in general, and a low point for the centre-left, neoliberal agenda.

True, he did not win the popular vote, but nonetheless close to 63 million people voted for him. True, his party lost the House of Representatives in the 2018 mid-term elections. But they also gained two seats in the Senate – the first time the party holding the presidency has achieved that since 2002 – in the wake of a synagogue shooting and mail-bomb attacks inspired by his rhetoric. True, more than half of the country wants to impeach him; but about 40% still approve of the job he’s doing. The one thing that stands between him and impeachment is the party behind him in both houses.
posted by mumimor at 8:57 AM on October 18 [13 favorites]


I don't think there is a metaphor that can handle this.

I've taken to calling it 'The Moron-Contra Affair"
posted by pseudophile at 8:58 AM on October 18 [24 favorites]


I don't think there is a metaphor that can handle this.

I'm waiting for it to be done so that it can be used as a pungent metaphor for something else.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:10 AM on October 18 [12 favorites]


These inclinations were clear when he stood for the presidency. He has been every bit as bigoted, undisciplined, indiscreet, thin-skinned and braggadocious as his campaign promised. And he won.

This was not because people didn’t see those things, but because they either didn’t care, cared about other things more, preferred him to the alternative, or simply didn’t show up.


Hmm, I think Younge missed the "and they really liked it" option.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:22 AM on October 18 [18 favorites]


Someone on Quora asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?” Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote the following response:
posted by adamvasco at 10:26 AM on October 18 [34 favorites]


On my phone, not sure if this has been linked yet: Vanity Fair on the money flowing into Trump DC..
posted by suelac at 10:27 AM on October 18 [12 favorites]


That VF piece is some quality reporting.
Of the 33 people to have served in Trump’s cabinet, 25 of them have been spotted at his DC hotel.⁠ So have at least 6 of the 17 Republican members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top GOP lawmaker on that panel, has spent about $22,000 of campaign funds at the hotel while also trying to thwart House investigations into its lease and Trump’s finances. Twenty-six out of 53 Republican senators have either appeared at the hotel or are affiliated with campaigns or committees that have spent funds there. ⁠Combined, the Trump hotel DC has taken in more than $1.1 million from just the Republican National Committee, Trump’s campaign, and committees headed by Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. And over the summer, pro-Trump super PAC America First Action shattered the $500,000 mark in total spending, just at that property.⁠ The president profits from all of this business.
posted by box at 10:40 AM on October 18 [22 favorites]




I mean, that's great, but Kasich is a governor. He can't vote for impeachment OR removal.
posted by rikschell at 11:35 AM on October 18 [24 favorites]


I put together an emoluments thread. There are important matters to this and it isn't part of the official impeachment proceedings (as of yet).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:36 AM on October 18 [16 favorites]


I mean, that's great, but Kasich is a governor. He can't vote for impeachment OR removal.

Ex-governor. Either way, basically the same as announcing "MrGuilt would vote for impeachment." Which he would.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:36 AM on October 18 [4 favorites]


Kasich says he'll vote for impeachment.

I mean, that's great, but Kasich is a governor. He can't vote for impeachment OR removal.


He's not even that. His term ended this year. The story more precisely says that Kasich has come out in favor of impeachment.
posted by Etrigan at 11:37 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


The story more precisely says that Kasich has come out in favor of impeachment.

And more precisely yet, he said he would vote for an impeachment inquiry if he were in the House. He did not say anything about voting for removal if in the Senate.

Same weasel as always.
posted by JackFlash at 12:58 PM on October 18 [10 favorites]


And he also had to throw in some gratuitous insults at the Democrats for doing their impeaching all wrong.
posted by JackFlash at 1:01 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


Kasich is only thinking about saving 4 years on his presidential run timeline.
posted by BeginAgain at 1:42 PM on October 18 [5 favorites]


WaPo: 2 p.m.: Republican lawmaker won’t rule out impeaching Trump, compares him to Nixon
GOP Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) offered a damning assessment of Mulvaney, defended career diplomats, and said he’s not afraid of the president’s wrath. Rooney said Friday he’s had Watergate on his mind lately, specifically that critics called it a witch hunt before it was clear how bad it really was. He won’t rule out impeaching Trump, he said, before knowing all the facts.

Rooney said he “couldn’t believe” Mulvaney’s admission of a quid pro quo and his later reversal. “I was shocked that he said that stuff. When the president has said many times there wasn’t a quid pro quo. . . . . and now Mick Mulvaney goes up and says, ‘Yeah, it was all part of the whole plan!’ ” Rooney said. As for Mulvaney walking back his comments, the congressman said, “You know, this is a funny business. How in life can you do those kinds of things when you’ve just said it right there on national TV.”

Rooney also said that the State Department officials testifying in the impeachment proceedings “are not partisan people” and that he’s eager to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton. [...]

And Trump’s wrath?

“What’s he going to do to me? I mean, he can say bad things, but it’s just what it is,” Rooney said. “There’s a lot of people around who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president. Seriously. I just want to call them as I see it. I want to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.”
posted by katra at 2:22 PM on October 18 [26 favorites]


Josh Marshall, TPM, on a Bloomberg story: "And there it is, the other quid pro quo. Notorious Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash would help Rudy and DiGenova and Toensing cook up dirt on Joe Biden. In return, they’d work with Trump to get US corruption charges against Firtash tossed. Firtash has been fighting extradition to the US on federal corruption charges since 2014." More from TPM on this: The Debunked Biden Allegations Are Incredibly Useful To Dmitry Firtash.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:50 PM on October 18 [14 favorites]


He slid neatly into the giant "seriously but not literally" hole that the Evangelicals have been holding open to explain the contradictions of Biblical literalism.

AKA Doublethink.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:11 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]


Democrats are zeroing in on Rudy Giuliani to impeach Trump (Politico)
“Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is Rudy Giuliani,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. After a week of depositions from key figures in the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are coalescing around a push to prove that Trump committed impeachable offenses at least partly by showing that Trump had intimate knowledge of and directed Giuliani’s plans, goals and tactics.

[...] “I’m pretty sure they’re not just talking about the weather and their golf games,” [Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.)] quipped in a brief interview, referencing the pair’s frequent meetings and phone calls. “Especially when it’s also very clear from the evidence that President Trump directed members of the State Department to work directly with Giuliani in their efforts in Ukraine. So the nexus is there. There is no debating the facts.”

[...] “We’ve seen this movie before, with Michael Cohen,” Rouda said. “Giuliani’s going to get thrown under the bus. The president's going to make it sound like ‘I didn’t tell him to do this or that, he was rogue, he went out on his own.’ And we all know that’s not true, but I think we can all lay a bet down on how this story ends. And that’s what you’re going to see.” [...]

Perhaps more importantly, though, Republicans have indicated they’re uncomfortable with Giuliani’s behavior toward Ukraine and have questioned his methods and mission. Though Trump’s allies are careful to pin any questionable conduct on Giuliani alone, Democrats see their unwillingness to defend Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine as an opening to tie potential wrongdoing to the president. [...]

There are indications, though, that some House Republicans are beginning to question Trump’s handling of Ukraine. “It’s painful to me to see this kind of amateur diplomacy riding roughshod over our State Department apparatus,” said Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), a former ambassador and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
posted by katra at 4:28 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


And here's the Bloomberg story: To Win Giuliani’s Help, Oligarch’s Allies Pursued Biden Dirt. "Associates of a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani’s help in the oligarch’s legal case, according to three people familiar with the exchanges."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:38 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]


It's painful to you, Francis Rooney? The awkward, amateur diplomacy? That's your best shot? Trump's government continues to be more than painful to the immigrant/refugee children, families, and adults his administration has imprisoned. To the dying Kurds he helped kill. To the people of color and native peoples and LGBTQ folks and everyone else his administration, judges, and party are continuing to work hard to disenfranchise, destroy, fire, rob, or ruin in other ways.

As the British writer cited above wrote, Trump "is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum."

Trump's impeachment cannot come fast enough for me. In the meantime, Ezra Klein is launching a new podcast on October 19, called Impeachment, Explained. Have no idea how good it will be but plan to listen to the first one asap.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:53 PM on October 18 [9 favorites]


Rep. Rooney is also the first Republican to call for Rick Perry to answer the House subpoena (Politico).
posted by katra at 5:14 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]


Associates of a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden

It sure would be interesting to see Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing tied in to an illegal effort to solicit $1 million worth of Biden dirt from a foreign oligarch in exchange for dropping a US extradition case.

Joe and Victoria are dirty lawyers that go back decades to the hunting of Clinton. diGenova goes back even farther to the sting and entrapment case against DC Mayor Marion Berry. He was the Republican special investigator that gave the GHW Bush administration a pass for illegally searching Bill Clinton's passport history in way back in 1992 when Clinton was running against Bush. Illegally soliciting campaign dirt. I detect a pattern here.

Toensing was a lawyer for Linda Tripp in the Monica Lewinsky investigation. They were involved in the illegal leaks from the Starr impeachment investigation and were on cable TV news shows almost every day for months. They next turned up defending Scooter Libby in the illegal leaking of the covert status of Valerie Plame. Toensing also represented Blackwater executive Erik Prince.

And now they turn up working with Guiliani on illegal extortion and solicitation. Couldn't happen to a lovelier couple.
posted by JackFlash at 5:24 PM on October 18 [31 favorites]


Yeah, lower-order GOP house members in tight districts are smelling blood in the water, and looking toward the future, in a cycle or two, when they can become the face of 'the New Republican Party'. The GOP's vaunted lockstep is mis-stepping.
posted by eclectist at 6:05 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]


Why Firing Mick Mulvaney Is Riskier Than Keeping Him (Elaina Plott and Peter Nicholas, Atlantic)
Bolton’s uncertain loyalty in this pivotal moment has convinced many of Trump’s allies that, eager as the president may be to oust him, Mulvaney is better kept inside of the White House. According to the current and former White House officials and others close to the president, people have been urging Trump to hold his acting chief in place, telling him that the risk of an aggrieved ex-official on the outside far outweighs any annoyances Trump may have with him. As President Lyndon Johnson famously said about then–FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, it’s better to keep him inside the tent “pissing out” than the opposite.
Friends With Benefits: Donald and Rudy’s Long, Strange Partnership (Michael Kruse, Politico Magazine)
And now here they are, Trump and Giuliani, staring at the prospect of Trump’s impeachment before the new year. Trump recently started to distance himself from Giuliani, according to a former senior administration official, before being told that was a bad idea. Even as allies grow increasingly frustrated with Giuliani’s loose-lipped, on-air antics, cast-aside aides can turn into enemies, and that, the thinking goes, is the last thing this administration needs at this moment of heightening risk. “I don’t think Trump has any choice now but to keep Giuliani close,” the senior administration official said.
General discontent: how the president's military men turned on Trump (Guardian)
The new sense of license to criticize Trump among military leaders originated with the president’s highly contentious decision last week to pull US troops from northern Syria. The sudden move has paved the way for a Turkish invasion that has put a prominent US ally in the fight against Isis, the Syrian Kurds, in mortal danger.
posted by katra at 6:55 PM on October 18 [4 favorites]


Growing number of Republicans struggle to defend Trump on G-7 choice, Ukraine and Syria (WaPo)
In interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours, many said they were repulsed by Trump’s decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s admission — later withdrawn — that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president’s abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria. [...]

The GOP’s rising frustration is a break from the past three years, when congressional Republicans almost uniformly defended Trump through a series of scandals that engulfed the White House. There’s now a growing sense among a quiet group of Republicans that the president is playing with fire, taking their loyalty for granted as they’re forced to “defend the indefensible,” as a senior House Republican said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.
posted by katra at 7:55 PM on October 18 [8 favorites]


That senior House Republican is a real Profile in Cowardice.
posted by biogeo at 8:48 PM on October 18 [13 favorites]


Exclusive: Giuliani pushed Trump administration to grant a visa to a Ukrainian official promising dirt on Democrats (CNN)
Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified that around January 2019 Giuliani requested a visa for former Ukrainian prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin to travel to the United States. Shokin had been pushed out of his position as Ukraine's top prosecutor in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including Biden, over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases.

Giuliani has previously told CNN he wanted to interview Shokin in person because the Ukrainian promised to reveal dirt on Democrats.

Kent told congressional investigators the State Department had objected to the request, and State did not grant the visa. Giuliani, Kent said, then appealed to the White House to have State reverse its decision. Shokin's visa was never granted, although Giuliani eventually spoke with Shokin over Skype.

The incident reveals how Giuliani's work to dig up dirt on Democrats went much further than previously understood -- and included an attempt to directly influence the actions of the federal government.
posted by katra at 9:29 PM on October 18 [11 favorites]


You know, I was alive during Watergate, and watched a lot of it on TV. Granted, I was a preteen, but I had very politically active parents, so I was probably more politically aware than many of my peers.

Watergate divided the country, especially in the beginning, but even then, it never felt like the cult of personality that it feels like now. Perhaps because Tricky Dick had the charisma of a used tissue, and Donny knows how to work a stage. But Trump had a rally in the big town an hour from me yesterday, and traffic across the metroplex was nightmarish, because there was a big, and I mean big, influx of people who came to worship at the Church of Hate and Chaos.

I considered going to counter demonstrate, but I'm having trouble moving right now, and wasn't sure I could get out of the way if the Promise Keepers got rough, or the cops did, or if the crowd turned dangerous. Any and all of which were possible. Someone did get arrested in a bullet proof jacket and, iirc an assault rifle and ammo.

Trump is a problem, as president certainly, but he will also be problematic as an impeached removed president. He is a state funded cult leader, and his cult is armed, dangerous, and looking for an excuse.

He needs to be impeached. He needs to be removed. But we absolutely need the Republicans to stand up and vote for impeachment. They have to realize how dangerous the situation is, and somehow, we need to make them care. Of course, I say that when my Senators are Cruz and Cornyn, and since they're both souless eldrich horrors in skin suits, I don't hold out much hope of bringing them to the light, but still I call and write regularly, and we should all perhaps get back in the habit of bugging our elected officials to do something to stop the fall of Rome.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:48 PM on October 18 [23 favorites]


Republicans... have to realize how dangerous the situation is, and somehow, we need to make them care.

It's pretty likely that Republican members of the Senate have an up-close view of not only the visible shenanigans but bonkers stuff we don't even know about. So I think we've been seeing what they actually do care about, what their true values are for most of the last 2-3 years.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:24 AM on October 19 [10 favorites]


So, quick question about Mulvaney’s original statement. The reporter clarified “What you’re describing is a quid pro quo...” and Mulvaney responded in the affirmative, saying “We do that all the time with foreign policy.” (Emphasis mine)

...is anyone looking into every other foreign policy decision they ever made?
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:14 AM on October 19 [3 favorites]


I had kind of assumed he was trying to create a false equivalence between demanding concessions in the American interest in return for aid or other favors and demanding personal benefit in return for aid or other favors.
posted by bardophile at 1:40 AM on October 19 [14 favorites]


I saw a news report that the Lieutenant Governor of TX opened for Trump and said that the other side were not opponents, they were enemies. It sure as shit isn't just Trump who are deacons in the church of hate and chaos. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that Republican leadership as a whole feel differently--I think this is just another one of the quiet parts that are starting to get said out loud.
posted by Sublimity at 4:23 AM on October 19 [12 favorites]


Republican members of the Senate have an up-close view of not only the visible shenanigans but bonkers stuff we don't even know about.
Indeed, Russia, corruption, their own campaigns, the NRA. NPR on Senate Finance Comm report concluding NRA as Russian assets, also previously Seven GOP lawmakers make a misguided trip to Russia
posted by Harry Caul at 5:19 AM on October 19 [6 favorites]




Somewhat answering my own question from above (how informed is McConnell's "by Thanksgiving" impeachment schedule), the answer appears to be - no surprise - that he's just making shit up.

“I have no idea”: Pelosi shuts down Senate Republicans’ impeachment timeline The TL:DR being that while various Congressional Dems have various opinions about the schedule they might like to see, Pelosi is in no way going to even begin to speculate about an official impeachment date.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:36 AM on October 19 [14 favorites]


New Impeachment Poll: Quid Pro Quo Trouble Ahead (Lawfare)
The latest University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll fielded by Nielsen Scarborough [...] could spell major trouble for the president’s public standing ahead, including among Republicans: We asked: “In general, do you believe it is an impeachable offense if the president of the United States invites foreign leaders/entities to interfere in U.S. elections?” Two thirds of respondents, including 46 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Independents said yes.
posted by katra at 9:31 AM on October 19 [9 favorites]


'Overrated general' Mattis laughs off Trump barb at charity gala, Stars and Stripes, Tom McElroy (Associated Press), October 17, 2019:
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is laughing off an insult hurled at him by President Donald Trump. Speaking at a New York charity event Thursday the day after Trump demeaned him as "the world's most overrated general," Mattis joked that he took it as a compliment.

"I'm not just an overrated general. I'm the greatest, the world's most overrated," he told diners at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. "I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress," he said. "So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good to me."

Trump lashed out at his former defense secretary Wednesday, during a contentious White House meeting with members of Congress. The meeting was intended to be a bipartisan discussion of Trump's decision to pull U.S. forces from northern Syria, but it broke up after a testy exchange between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Before the walkout, Trump disparaged Mattis, who had argued as defense secretary that U.S. troops were needed in Syria to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State fighters. Trump said Mattis was "the world's most overrated general. You know why? He wasn't tough enough."

"I captured ISIS," Trump went on to say.
...and then, between rounds of golf, he let them go.
posted by cenoxo at 10:52 AM on October 19 [4 favorites]


Trump veterans see a presidency veering off the rails (Politico)
“Your Year Three team is very different from the Year One team in terms of the type of people and how they view their role and how Trump views their role,” said the former official. “He’s not looking for people to offer contrary opinions or to urge caution or try to restrain him in any way, and the people there don’t view that as their role either.”

The letter to Erdogan is a case in point, former officials note: It shows that Trump is more directly in charge of what goes on at the White House than ever before.

Earlier in his tenure, when the president was going to write a foreign leader, officials at the State Department and the National Security Council would usually draft a version and the president would try to “insert some of his Trumpisms into it” before other officials worked with him to get to a letter that everyone was comfortable with, said the former official. But with experienced bureaucratic warriors like Jim Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton now gone, there are few senior foreign policy officials left to stand in Trump’s way.

“You wouldn’t have a letter to a foreign leader that was just like dictated on the back of a napkin by him,” said the former official. “He’s even more personally and individually in the driver’s seat and doing things on his own.”
The Crisis of the Republican Party (NYT Editorial Board)
The G.O.P. will not be able to postpone a reckoning on Donald Trump’s presidency for much longer.
Some Republicans have clearly believed that they could control the president by staying close to him and talking him out of his worst ideas. Ask Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who has spent the last two years prostrating himself before Mr. Trump in the hope of achieving his political goals, including protecting the Kurds — how that worked out. Mr. Graham isn’t alone, of course; there is a long list of politicians who have debased themselves to please Mr. Trump, only to be abandoned by him like a sack of rotten fruit in the end. That’s the way of all autocrats; they eventually turn on everyone save perhaps their own relatives, because no one can live up to their demands for fealty.
posted by katra at 10:58 AM on October 19 [9 favorites]


Trump veterans see a presidency veering off the rails

Republicans are such a lagging indicator on Trump, they're always following him down rather than setting any standards, any at all. "Sure the wings are on fire and we've lost a lot of altitude, but we're still in the air and the pilot is at the controls." These people are given wayy too much deference in their media interactions, they themselves are a lagging indicator on the Newton's Third Law of journalism vis a vis Trump.
posted by rhizome at 11:34 AM on October 19 [4 favorites]


Hey, Harry Caul, thanks for those links - I hadn't heard about the Senate Finance Comm report concluding NRA as Russian assets NPR report. Very interesting.

Could you repaste your link for "Russia, corruption, their own campaigns, the NRA"? I think the link is broken.

Thank you!
posted by kristi at 12:49 PM on October 19 [1 favorite]


Not to throw cold water on that finance committee report but it appears to have only been signed by the Democratic members.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:25 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Because why would Republican Senators sign on to a report that concludes that most of them received illegally-laundered Russian money to support their campaigns?
posted by LooseFilter at 1:32 PM on October 19 [9 favorites]


Not to throw cold water on that finance committee report but it appears to have only been signed by the Democratic members.

Well, it is the minority staff report.

Senate Finance Committee Minority Staff Report:
The NRA and Russia: How a Tax-Exempt Organization Became a Foreign Asset

Senate Finance Committee Majority Staff Report accompanying the Minority Staff Report:
The NRA and Russia: Nuh-uh!
posted by Avelwood at 2:37 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Very briefly: katra I just wanted to say thank so much for all the work you’ve poured into this thread. It’s been a godsend to have this distillation available during a particularly brutal crunch cycle. It’s the first thing I check after waking up while the caffeine pills kick in, and I wish you had a ko-fi or something so I could toss you $5. Seriously: huge thanks.
posted by Ryvar at 3:59 PM on October 19 [21 favorites]


WaPo: 2 p.m.: Republican lawmaker won’t rule out impeaching Trump, compares him to Nixon

GOP Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) offered a damning assessment of Mulvaney, defended career diplomats, and said he’s not afraid of the president’s wrath. Rooney said Friday he’s had Watergate on his mind lately, specifically that critics called it a witch hunt before it was clear how bad it really was. He won’t rule out impeaching Trump, he said, before knowing all the facts. [...]
-- posted by katra at 5:22 PM on October 18

CNN, October 19, 2019 (less than a day later): Republican congressman open to impeaching Trump announces retirement

Rooney, who won his first election in 2016, said he initially thought his goals would take three terms, "but I think I've done it in less than two."

posted by Iris Gambol at 4:03 PM on October 19 [9 favorites]


AG Barr expands mysterious review into origin of Russia investigation (NBC News)
A review launched by Attorney General William Barr into the origins of the Russia investigation has expanded significantly amid concerns about whether the probe has any legal or factual basis, multiple current and former officials told NBC News. [...] When White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney sought Thursday to justify President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, he called the Durham review “an ongoing investigation by our Department of Justice into the 2016 election.“

Mulvaney added: "So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing?” Mulvaney said. [...] Mulvaney appeared to be referencing a conspiracy theory, mentioned by President Trump in his July phone call with the Ukrainian president, that a Democratic National Committee computer server hacked by Russian intelligence agents is actually in Ukraine.

Under that discredited theory, Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democrats in 2016. To believe that, one would have to doubt the unanimous assessment of the intelligence community and the findings of Congressional intelligence committees who have examined the classified evidence, including Republican Trump supporters. President Trump’s first homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, said on ABC last month that he was frustrated about the president’s embrace of that falsehood. "It’s not only a conspiracy, it is completely debunked," Bossert said. "And at this point I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again and for clarity here ... let me just again repeat that it has no validity.”
Very briefly: katra I just wanted to say thank so much for all the work you’ve poured into this thread. It’s been a godsend to have this distillation available during a particularly brutal crunch cycle. It’s the first thing I check after waking up while the caffeine pills kick in, and I wish you had a ko-fi or something so I could toss you $5. Seriously: huge thanks.

Hey Ryvar, thank you! I appreciate the opportunity to try to keep track of the impeachment news vortex, and one way to help keep it going could be to help fund Metafilter!!!

posted by katra at 5:49 PM on October 19 [22 favorites]


Strike one article of impeachment? Mediaite: BREAKING: Trump Announces Doral Resort No Longer Host Site for G-7.
posted by adamg at 7:41 PM on October 19 [5 favorites]


Right after Republicans had been defending him, Trump saws off the branch his allies were using.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:47 PM on October 19


Yeah, but I don't buy he did this because Democrats were freaking out. It's more likely Mitch told Trump the party's over. Also, I give props to naming the bill going after Trump the THUG (Trump’s Heist Undermines the G-7) Act. Tell me Senator, how are you going to vote on the THUG Act?
posted by xammerboy at 8:00 PM on October 19 [3 favorites]




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