Seriously, ITMFA
October 31, 2019 11:24 AM   Subscribe

 
Ian Milhiser, Vox: The most important part of the Democrats’ impeachment resolutionThe Mueller hearing was a debacle for Democrats. The new impeachment rules show that they’ve learned their lesson.

TL;DR: The five-minute questioning rule is being relaxed in favor of a process that lets the chair and ranking member go as long as 45 minutes if they need to. I'll gladly take 45 minutes of Schiff over 5 minute blocks from back-benchers, and if it means we get even more of Devin Nunes stepping on his own dick, well, that's even better.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:33 AM on October 31, 2019 [44 favorites]


Does the new rule set let the Ds use an attorney to mix it up with deponents?

amash is my kind of loyal opposition - I despise his policy takes, but he lives in the fact-based real world. h/t digby.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:39 AM on October 31, 2019 [5 favorites]


Also, the chair and ranking member can delegate their questioning to staff, i.e. genuine practicing lawyers with no interest in grandstanding for a re-election ad.

(The downside is that 5-minute blocks are still happening, just after the 45-minute chair/ranking question sessions)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:40 AM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


Court weighs Trump claim that ex-White House counsel McGahn, top aides are absolutely immune from congressional subpoena (WaPo)
The White House blocked McGahn’s testimony, advising the former counsel that he was “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony” and directing him not to appear.

Lawyers for the committee’s Democrats call the claim “spurious” and say it has no grounding in case law. The House asked the court to expedite the case so it could be appealed by whichever side loses, saying the Trump administration was seeking to establish a dangerous precedent shielding top presidential advisers from testifying before Congress, even those who no longer work for the White House.
John Bolton’s former deputy asks judge to resolve conflicting demands for House impeachment testimony (WaPo)
In a letter to Kupperman’s lawyers, House Democratic leaders said Justice Department opinions are not binding on Congress or the courts. The president, they wrote, has no “authority to direct the conduct of private citizens who are no longer his subordinates — much less to direct them to defy a lawful command from a coequal branch of government.”

Kupperman’s attorney emphasized in response that it is not Kupperman who disagrees with the House position but Trump — and the presidents before him who have claimed immunity. Kupperman will comply, his lawyer wrote, if the judge determines he must.

Leon, who is presiding over Kupperman’s case, was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2001, and is known for his colorful language and unpredictable decisions. He brings to the bench years of experience in government — as a Justice Department attorney and lawyer for congressional committees investigating three sitting presidents.
posted by katra at 11:42 AM on October 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


The five-minute questioning rule is being relaxed in favor of a process that lets the chair and ranking member go as long as 45 minutes if they need to.

As long as 45 minutes, as many times as the chair wants.
posted by grouse at 11:57 AM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted; sorry, let's stick to what's actually happening with impeachment, not doomy predictions.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:09 PM on October 31, 2019 [24 favorites]


I guess we shouldn't be surprised that THIS is what finally triggered impeachment. Like a good shoplifter, Trump understands that we have great difficulty recognizing crimes as such if they're committed openly and brazenly. He has been sauntering out of department stores with piles of coats while the press and general public ask themselves if he's really doing that. The Ukraine affair is a refreshing return to normalcy: phone calls meant to be kept secret, altered transcripts, backroom deals--finally, here is some old-fashioned political crime-doing! The fact that they're trying to hide everything is how we know the crimes are happening!

It's infuriating, there's piles of other reasons he should be here already. And we're learning nothing. Even as he's being investigated for Ukraine, he's openly doing the same damn thing with China and calling on them to run their own Biden investigations. But he did that on TV so it was in the news cycle for what, a couple of days before being dropped? It's bonkers. I guess we should count ourselves lucky that at least SOME of the hidden shit was uncovered because otherwise I don't think this reaction from the press and public would've ever happened.
posted by schroedinger at 12:13 PM on October 31, 2019 [37 favorites]


Oh don't worry, there will be lots of, "well, he does this all the time in public and no one complains, so this can't possibly be a crime either", spin as well. (Which also ignores the whole "doesn't have to be a crime to be impeachable" bit.) Though I do think the details of this are going to make it harder to float their other usual, "oh, he was just joking, you know he's just such a kidder, that guy" defense.
posted by bcd at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Trump's calls for Republican lawmakers to focus on substance of impeachment inquiry over process largely ignored (Lauren Lantree, ABC News)
As the House impeachment probe moves toward a new phase of open hearings, President Donald Trump is calling on Republican lawmakers to shift their strategy from attacking the process of the inquiry to poking holes in the substance of House Democrats' case.
On the other hand:

Trump Wants a Substantive Defense, Dammit (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones)
Doesn’t Trump realize that the reason his allies are whining about process is because they have no defense to offer on substance? Maybe not. Maybe Trump is so delusional he actually believes that there’s some substantive defense of extorting a foreign country to smear a political rival.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:22 PM on October 31, 2019 [9 favorites]


The One Trick Pony can never stop. Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash Politico
posted by Harry Caul at 12:44 PM on October 31, 2019 [6 favorites]


Maybe Trump is so delusional he actually believes that there’s some substantive defense of extorting a foreign country to smear a political rival.

Well, maybe. Or maybe he's a malignant narcissist who can't stand being accused of wrongdoing even if he ultimately gets away with it (hence his insisting that the call that had officials scrambling to bury it by abusing the classification system was "perfect").

But doubtless Trumps inability to keep his yap shut is making it harder for Republicans to defend him, so good.
posted by Gelatin at 12:46 PM on October 31, 2019 [5 favorites]


Him wanting GOP apparatchiks to go after the “substance” will result in a rich tapestry of horsehit that will have them talking past each other and looking ridiculous as they paint themselves into corners. Also probably more obstruction of justice.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:46 PM on October 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash

As I said in the previous thread, Democrats need to keep talking about that fact using the phrase "slush fund."
posted by Gelatin at 12:47 PM on October 31, 2019 [34 favorites]


The Democrats should call Biden as a witness. Biden should emphasize the unreality of the conspiracy theory and his outrage against those going after his child.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:59 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Democrats should call Biden as a witness.

Hard disagree. Including Biden would concede the point that this all comes down to something Biden and son might have actually done, instead of being a figment of a deranged and paranoid imagination.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2019 [109 favorites]


The Democrats should call Biden as a witness.

I'd put good money on him making a horrible gaff or two that right wing media would use to maximum effect. And it would be fuel for the both-siderism in mainstream media.

This isn't about Biden - keep him out of the headlines.
posted by Candleman at 1:06 PM on October 31, 2019 [64 favorites]


I retract my suggestion.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:29 PM on October 31, 2019 [59 favorites]


Moving the call transcript to the classified record keeping system will be what brings Tr*mp down. As is always the case, it ain't the crime it's the cover-up.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:31 PM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


Judge Pushes Back On DOJ Claim She Can’t Enforce McGahn Subpoena (Tierney Sneed, TPM)
A federal judge expressed heavy skepticism Thursday of the Justice Department’s claims that the court can play no role in enforcing a subpoena the House issued to former White House counsel Don McGahn.

“So what does checks and balances mean?” U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson asked Justice Department attorney James Burnham at one point in the hearing.

The case being heard predates the current Ukraine-focused impeachment inquiry, but nonetheless stands to have major implications for President Trump’s efforts to stonewall the probe.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:47 PM on October 31, 2019 [11 favorites]


Does Marbury v. Madison have any relevance here? Even amid contemporary Republican monarchist disregard for basic constitutional principles and stare decisis?
posted by PhineasGage at 2:03 PM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


Conservatives would love nothing more to chop away at Marbury and the whole concept of judicial review. That's the end game of the railing about "unelected liberal activist judges" that's been their rallying cry for my whole life.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2019 [9 favorites]


I think that’s not really reading them right. If SCOTUS consisted entirely of R-judging justices, they would be arguing that judicial review was utterly sacred.
posted by notoriety public at 2:38 PM on October 31, 2019 [11 favorites]


I've long since learned that trying to get American journalists to focus on the substance rather than on the flash and the process is a fool's errand. Making judgement calls is hard. Explaining what will happen next is easy and makes you look informed!
posted by Merus at 2:39 PM on October 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


Meh. They love judicial review and stare decisis when it's to their benefit. As usual complaining about the process and powers is the ploy used when it's not to their benefit. See also: Impeachment procedures, deficits.
posted by dragstroke at 2:40 PM on October 31, 2019 [5 favorites]


Doesn’t Trump realize that the reason his allies are whining about process is because they have no defense to offer on substance?

I am looking forward to the entire world learning about Sovereign Citizen / Admiralty Law.
posted by srboisvert at 3:27 PM on October 31, 2019 [18 favorites]


House Republicans reflect the general sentiment in the Republican Party in not wavering in supporting the President. Unless and until this changes we’re stuck.
posted by interogative mood at 3:37 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


If we could offer Trump a way out, where he didn't have to be president any more, but he could still do his rallies, he would take it in a heartbeat.
posted by BigCalm at 4:15 PM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


As usual complaining about the process and powers is the ploy used when it's not to their benefit. See also: Impeachment procedures, deficits.

It's like a game of Calvinball where the only true rule is the straight white Republican male must always win.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:17 PM on October 31, 2019 [20 favorites]


WaPo: 5:10 p.m.: Judge schedules Kupperman hearing for Dec. 10
In court Thursday, Kupperman’s attorney, Charles Cooper, who also represents Bolton, did not rule out the possibility that Bolton could be added to the lawsuit if he is subpoenaed. [...] Throughout the hearing, the judge emphasized the importance of moving quickly to resolve an important matter of public interest. He chastised a Justice Department lawyer who asked for more time to file a brief because of a holiday conflict.

“When it’s a matter of this consequence to this country, you roll your sleeves up and get the job done,” Leon said.
posted by katra at 4:31 PM on October 31, 2019 [5 favorites]


Roll up your sleeves and get the job done. Let’s reconvene and talk about it more in a month and a half.
posted by lostburner at 4:54 PM on October 31, 2019 [16 favorites]


If only the Trumpists would let more immigrants in to get the job done. [Loving "Hamilton" reference, of course...]
posted by PhineasGage at 4:58 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


If we could offer Trump a way out, where he didn't have to be president any more, but he could still do his rallies, he would take it in a heartbeat.

Doubtful. Under the current (batshit) Queensbury rules we are playing by, being President is shielding him from criminal prosecution.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:14 PM on October 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


I retract my suggestion.
posted by dances_with_sneetches


... and your marshmallow stick.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:41 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am looking forward to the entire world learning about Sovereign Citizen / Admiralty Law.

Pelosi needs to make sure the flags in the house don't have gold fringe.
posted by nestor_makhno at 5:52 PM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


‘We think we’re ready’: Democrats near end of closed-door impeachment testimony (Politico)
At this point, the investigators say they’re seeing diminishing returns on the parade of closed-door depositions — and they’re eager to move to the public phase of the process. That means it’s decision time for Democrats.

“A lot of the damning evidence already came out. And a lot of these witnesses are corroborating essentially the same narrative, which hasn’t changed,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A House Intelligence Committee source echoed that sentiment, asserting that the investigators gathering reams of evidence behind closed doors are not willing to let the process drag out, especially as the White House seeks to block the testimony of next week’s spate of high-level witnesses. [...]

Democrats are now likely to wind down their closed-door depositions after next week. That means the public-facing part of the impeachment inquiry could begin as soon as mid-November, when the House comes back into session after a brief recess next week.

Democrats involved in the investigation say they don’t need five, six or seven witnesses to affirm the same set of facts that Trump himself has already acknowledged, or what was provided by witnesses with firsthand knowledge.
posted by katra at 5:57 PM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


Senate GOP shifts tone on impeachment

8 Republican senators to watch on impeachment

Can someone smarter than me predict the odds of impeachment going through the GOP-controlled Senate right now? I hear hopeful stuff and the evidence seems strong, but all the successes in the House are pointless if the Senate dismisses the case, right? And 20 Republican senators breaking party lines for the supermajority seems like a lot.
posted by OmniPrincess at 6:05 PM on October 31, 2019


"Can someone smarter than me predict the odds of impeachment going through the GOP-controlled Senate right now?"

0%
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:08 PM on October 31, 2019 [19 favorites]


I'm not sure it's worth making any predictions until we've seen the public hearings. They could result in no change in public opinion and end up being more of the same or they could produce a Have You No Decency At All moment that causes the narrative to shift directions rapidly. I don't want to pin my hopes on the latter but enough truly bonkers stuff has come out so far that I have to admit it is still possible.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:24 PM on October 31, 2019 [15 favorites]


all the successes in the House are pointless if the Senate dismisses the case, right?

Well, that's the rub.

This is presumably the calculus that Pelosi has been doing all along: is an impeachment that doesn't result in Trump's conviction in the Senate and removal from office a net win or loss for the Democrats, when viewed in the context of 2020?

My interpretation of what Pelosi has been doing is that she thought impeachment-without-removal was a losing proposition, but then changed her mind as public opinion started to really shift.

FWIW, I don't think the odds of conviction are exactly 0%, but they're not good—it would take a significant shift of public opinion within Trump's base to peel off enough Republican senators to make a difference. And I don't think anyone really knows if that's possible. It's easy to be cynical and say that it's not, but there's really no evidence either way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:31 PM on October 31, 2019 [11 favorites]


For what it's worth, Predictit currently has a 21% chance of conviction. I'd take the under on that myself though. They also have a 37% chance of an impeachment vote passing before the new year, but an 80% chance of one or more impeachment articles passing before April 1. I find the latter two more plausible.
posted by chortly at 6:37 PM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


all the successes in the House are pointless if the Senate dismisses the case, right

Well, given the shifts we've seen in polling on impeachment, I don't think its unreasonable to say that getting a lot of evidence out in the open during impeachment hearings might further move public opinion against Trump.

In other words, even if the Senate doesn't convict (and I agree, it's extremely unlikely, although I would say not completely impossible), the hearings and coverage and all the information about the White House that will come out in all this could still be a factor in the election.

At the very least, the idea that impeachment would create a backlash and increase support for Trump is definitely not the case at this point, quite the opposite (that could still change, of course, but it seems much less likely at this point).
posted by thefoxgod at 6:43 PM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


all the successes in the House are pointless if the Senate dismisses the case, right

You sometimes have to fight battles even when the odds seem insurmountable because those battles despite being defeats can sometimes still contribute something to the overall victory. Also sometimes you win.

At the very least you are planting a flag that says you will not stand for what is going on and that is not nothing.
posted by srboisvert at 7:00 PM on October 31, 2019 [84 favorites]


State Dept. agrees to turn over Giuliani-related documents to watchdog group after lawsuit (ABC News)
According to a brief filed in court late Wednesday, the documents include any communications between Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or anyone on his behalf, as well as other key senior officials at the department as the House works through an impeachment inquiry centered over Ukraine policy. [...]

The agreement gives the department until Nov. 22 to search for and process any communications, including text messages, emails and calendar entries, between Giuliani and his associates Victoria Toensing, Joseph DiGenova and Pompeo or top advisers, including State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl, former senior adviser and veteran diplomat Michael McKinley, senior adviser Mary Kissel, and the undersecretary of state for management Brian Bulatao. [...]

The request must also include any communications about Giuliani, Toensing or DiGenova's plans to travel to Ukraine, communicate with Ukrainian officials or encourage them to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter, who sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. [...]

The lawsuit also requires the State Department to produce any communications with anyone outside government about former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. [...] As part of the lawsuit, the department has agreed to search for "final directives" and "accompanying explanations" for Yovanovitch's ouster from Pompeo, Sullivan and Brechbuhl, who is also a West Point classmate and close friend of Pompeo's.

While the department and American Oversight reached consensus on these issues, they did not agree on any documents related to the July 25 call, with the department arguing it didn't fit within the scope of the court's ruling and it may not produce any documents before the November deadline.
posted by katra at 7:04 PM on October 31, 2019 [8 favorites]


Can someone smarter than me predict the odds of impeachment going through the GOP-controlled Senate right now?

Nobody knows, and the more certain anyone is the less likely it is they are knowledgeable enough to know.

It seems unlikely that the Senate will convict and remove from office, but it's a political process and everything depends on what public opinion does. If something happens to dramatically shift public opinion (which also seems unlikely but nobody really knows) then Senators will follow their voters.
posted by biogeo at 7:11 PM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


The Republican Closing Argument Against Impeachment is Personally Implicated in the Scandal (Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel)
[...] perhaps the most telling aspect of the debate is that the Republican closing argument — yet another recital of that same Hamilton quote — came from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Kevin McCarthy is implicated in the scandal he doesn’t want investigated.

McCarthy received money both personally and in the guise of his Protect the House PAC from Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, the grifters at the core of the influence operation that led to Trump’s quid pro quo conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky. He also keynoted an event with the grifters. While he has said he’d donate the money to charity (though has not yet, as far as I know, shown that he did that), there is no way to unring the bell of their support. He became Majority Leader with the support of men who have since been indicted for that support.
posted by katra at 7:15 PM on October 31, 2019 [47 favorites]


all the successes in the House are pointless if the Senate dismisses the case, right

We don't stop having a system of laws, just because some bad guys have slimeball lawyers and friends in high places.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:05 PM on October 31, 2019 [17 favorites]


Nasty House floor fight sets baseline for Trump impeachment (NBC News)
Few Republicans other than McCarthy have gone so far as to describe Trump's pursuit of foreign investigations into Biden, who is the polling leader for the Democratic presidential nomination, or his pause on foreign aid appropriated by Congress for political or policy reasons as "legitimate."

Many have said those actions fall short of their definition of impeachable offenses, but they have been wary of approving of the behavior. And some — most notably 2016 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, now a senator from Utah — have slammed Trump for his conduct.

"By all appearances, the president's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling," Romney said recently.
3 takeaways from the House’s impeachment inquiry vote (WaPo)
There is some merit to the GOP argument that House Democrats are selectively leaking damaging testimony about Trump. [...]

But Republicans on the three committees in these depositions could do the reverse, by leaking information that exonerates Trump. It seems likely that isn’t happening not because of their profound respect for the testimony, but because to date there hasn’t been information exonerating Trump.

Rather, people in Trump’s administration are alleging at a minimum that they were uncomfortable with his politicization of Ukrainian foreign policy, and at worst thought it threatened national security.
posted by katra at 8:10 PM on October 31, 2019 [17 favorites]


all the successes in the House are pointless if the Senate dismisses the case, right

It's already been successful. Trump's a proven criminal beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not the Senate impeaches him. The numbers of Republicans and Independents supporting impeachment has sky rocketed.

One question Republicans should ask themselves is how their vote will look a few years down the road. My guess would be that most of the public at that point will accept that his actions were criminal and that he should have been impeached.

Covering for Trump is not a winning game for Republicans in the long run, because their objectives require narratives that provide a shred of plausible deniability. Defending Trump will shatter their credibility generally.

And yeah, Republicans may in the end say they don't care, but that's a lot different than getting to pretend your real aim is national security, or that you're tough on crime, or whatever false narrative they're spouting.
posted by xammerboy at 9:07 PM on October 31, 2019 [9 favorites]


On the pure political pragmatics side of things, the main reason Trump's approval is at 42% rather than 45% or 50% is that he is constantly hammered with major scandals. Every time there's a break between major scandals, his approval rating starts drifting upwards towards some higher equilibrium. So pragmatically, impeachment hearings are just the next step in keep the scandals firmly in the public eye, and without that or something equivalent, he becomes much more re-electable. Perhaps impeachment may achieve a bit more than the usual scandal, but in my own most optimistic scenario that would entail beating his numbers down to maybe 38% through to the next election. But less optimistically, the main benefit of the impeachment process may be simply to keep his numbers down at their current sub-equilibrium level through the next year.
posted by chortly at 9:32 PM on October 31, 2019 [20 favorites]


Trump ditches New York to become a Florida resident, court documents show (CNN, Oct. 31, 2019)

The President changed his permanent residence to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, in late September, and first lady Melania Trump followed suit in October, in forms filed with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court. In a series of tweets Thursday night, Trump said he was leaving New York because he's been "treated very badly" by politicians in the Empire State. [...]

The change was primarily for tax purposes, a person close to the President told the Times. Florida does not collect income tax. The person close to the President also told the Times that Trump was enraged by the Manhattan district attorney's lawsuit in pursuit of his tax returns. It is unclear how switching residences would affect the lawsuit.


In earlier threads, there was discussion -- well, inextinguishable hope -- that if he wasn't brought down by his federal tax returns, New York would still have leeway to pursue for any fraud in his state filings. Federal returns and impeachment, Nixon's precedent, from last January:

Trump is not going to release his tax returns just to avoid impeachment. But, like Nixon, that may trigger it. (NBCnews.com, Jan. 11, 2019) Defying a Congressional subpoena is an impeachable offense, but what's in Trump's tax returns could be, too.

[...] The fraud charge centered on charitable deductions taken on Nixon’s 1969-72 tax returns in the amount of $576,000, for the donation of his personal papers to the U.S. government. July 25, 1969 was the last date on which a donor was allowed this deduction, due to a change in the tax laws; investigators determined that the gift was made months after the deadline in April 1970. The IRS and the Joint Committee on Taxation then determined that the deed donating Nixon’s papers, which had been signed by a White House lawyer, had been backdated to 1969.

Thus, the IRS and the Joint Committee on Taxation disallowed the deductions; some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee argued that tax evasion based on having falsified the paperwork was an impeachable offense.

The House Judiciary Committee eventually voted on an article of impeachment jointly charging Nixon with tax fraud and violations of the Emoluments Clause of the constitution. The article was defeated in the committee by a vote of 26-12 in July 1974.

posted by Iris Gambol at 9:36 PM on October 31, 2019 [6 favorites]


Dumpster fireside chat: Trump says he wants to read Ukraine call transcript to American people
A defiant President Trump signaled he will not cooperate with the Democratic Party's impeachment proceedings, insisting his telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "a good call" and that he might read it aloud to Americans so they can see his point.

“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump, sitting behind the Resolute Desk, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”
posted by kirkaracha at 10:04 PM on October 31, 2019 [13 favorites]


It's worth noting that Mitch McConnell's numbers are cratering just in time for his election campaign. He's tied himself pretty hard to The Cheeto and of course his wife is on The Cheeto's staff. But if he gets desperate enough he might turn on him.
posted by Mitheral at 10:42 PM on October 31, 2019 [30 favorites]


As an outsider here I may be missing the point, but my understanding is that this does not require any demonstration that the Bidens did anything wrong, or that there was a reward for Ukraine to do as requested, but simply that the request was made to a foreign power to personally aid the president. Setting aside the Ukraine, that request was made of China entirely in public.

The Senate is a court in this in name only and can do as it chooses, but as a matter of law is this not already settled?
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:23 AM on November 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash

Gazprom shares, surely?
posted by acb at 2:22 AM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


The Senate is a court in this in name only and can do as it chooses, but as a matter of law is this not already settled?

Like everything else Trump has done that deserves impeachment, you would think so. But we're all living in a funhouse mirrorland.
posted by schroedinger at 3:50 AM on November 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


As an indication of where the Republican Party is right now, Rep Don Young (R-AK) chose to head butt (sort of) the camera rather than answer the question of whether or not it was OK for the President to pressure foreign governments to interfere with our elections.

Not that Don Young is an intellectual giant, but giving a weasel worded answer to a question like that is politicking 101, the fact that he chose to kind of, sort of, in a really wimpy way, head butt the camera instead of giving a weasel answer is probably a sign that the Republicans do not really have a good defense set up. You'd think they'd already have their talking points distributed and ready to go, they usually do, but either Young missed the memo or they don't.
posted by sotonohito at 6:19 AM on November 1, 2019 [16 favorites]


The talking point is "we are all potential jurors, so we have nothing to say." Of course it doesn't really make any sense. A juror, of course, could be asked before a murder trial if they thought murder generally was a bad thing.
posted by xammerboy at 6:36 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


David Brooks of the NyTimes asks "If Trump-style Republicans were trying to impeach a President Biden, Warren or Sanders, and there was evidence of guilt, would you vote to convict? Answer honestly."

He really thinks Democrats would be okay with their candidate helping Russia take over a Democratic country for profit. There's an example of a Republican showing who they really are.
posted by xammerboy at 6:42 AM on November 1, 2019 [50 favorites]


After McConnell advice, Trump lays off GOP senators on impeachment (Burgess Everett & Nancy Cook, Politico)
[In a one-on-one meeting last week], [Moscow] Mitch McConnell gave Donald Trump some straightforward advice: Stop attacking senators — including Mitt Romney — who likely will soon judge your fate in an impeachment trial.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:46 AM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


David Brooks calling the central problem of America "elite negligence" in the pages of the NY Times is seriously the funniest fucking thing. The man became a college professor through sheer clout and used the position to meet and marry his 23-years-younger research assistant. Literally all his fortunes were made complaining about how oblivious and disconnected wealthy people are. Guy's asshole is shaped like a Klein bottle, and he just stares up it day in and day out.
posted by rorgy at 7:00 AM on November 1, 2019 [58 favorites]


He really thinks Democrats would be okay with their candidate helping Russia take over a Democratic country for profit. There's an example of a Republican showing who they really are.

Probably not Russia; in the Republican projection funhouse-mirror world, the Dems would be helping France or Sweden or someone take over America and impose socialised healthcare and fast trains and such.
posted by acb at 7:01 AM on November 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


I got this statement from desiccated corpse Senator Chuck Grassley, yesterday:

House Democrats announced the opening of impeachment proceedings more than a month ago. So far, this process has been defined by its secrecy, lack of due process and fundamental unfairness. This vote is an implicit admission by House Democrats of exactly that. It’s a day late and a dollar short.

Democrats’ impeachment proceedings are rooted in animus, a lack of rights for the accused, no transparency and anger at the 2016 election results. Even with this long-overdue resolution, House Democrats are still denying House Republicans the unrestricted right to call their own witnesses, to rebut Democratic witnesses and to have the same right to subpoena witnesses that the Democrats have granted themselves. And the president’s counsel still doesn’t have the right to be present and ask questions of witnesses before the Intelligence Committee, which has been given the role the Judiciary Committee has played in the past. This all stands in stark contrast to previous impeachment proceedings.

As a result, this will continue to be a purely partisan and political process – a continuation of Democrats’ impeachment obsession that began before President Trump was even inaugurated. This entire process has been contaminated from the beginning and the Senate may have a difficult time taking seriously an impeachment founded on these bases
.

Democrats have a tough row to hoe - based on this correspondence from Grassley, they could make a compelling case based on the facts and relevant constitutional questions and he’s just gonna say, “I don’t wanna.”
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:02 AM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


[David Brooks] really thinks Democrats would be okay with their candidate helping Russia take over a Democratic country for profit. There's an example of a Republican showing who they really are.

Who knows or cares what Brooks really thinks, but the odds he's offering this opinion in good faith are zero (and thank you, NYT op-ed page, for continuing to employ this hack). Brooks' job is to make conservative excesses palatable to the Times' readership, and so he excuses Republicans; partisan refusal to check the president's abuse of power by playing that paper's favorite "both sides do it" card, even as he concedes the evidence of Trump's guilt.

When one is reduced to claiming that it's okay because surely the other side is as bereft of principles as you are, it's time to rethink your position.

But Brooks' feeble effort means Republicans must feel vulnerable to charges pf partisan hypocrisy and dereliction of duty, so Democrats can and must push back against this rot.
posted by Gelatin at 7:04 AM on November 1, 2019 [13 favorites]


In this Trumpian Era, the question remains: Can you impeach the Donald Emperor?

The Trump administration’s obsession with an ancient Persian emperor, Washington Post - Today's WorldView > Analysis, Ishaan Tharoor, October 31, 2019:
President Trump and his lieutenants have a penchant for Middle Eastern monarchs. In close to three years in power, the administration has courted or hosted virtually all the region’s unelected potentates, yoking its anti-Iranian agenda in part to the concerns of a clutch of Arab sheikhs and princes. But looming above them all is a royal ghost from the past.
The real Cyrus the Great ( 559–530 BC) is spinning in his grave.
posted by cenoxo at 7:22 AM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


I got this statement from desiccated corpse Senator Chuck Grassley, yesterday

More on impeachment from Senator Grassley:
Some say that this impeachment effort is part of a right-wing conspiracy, it is a Republican plot to get a Democratic President. Let's look at how we got here and see if that argument holds up.
He also cites "abuse of power and authority" as a reason to convict Clinton.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:31 AM on November 1, 2019


Trump's withholding the aid to Ukraine that Congress approved was a violation of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
...which requires the president to report to Congress whenever he wants to hold up or not spend money that has been approved by Congress. And there is no doubt that President Trump failed to notify Congress that he has already withheld nearly $400 million in needed military aid for Ukraine to defend itself.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:50 AM on November 1, 2019 [26 favorites]




The GOP defense of Trump is getting more corrupt. Here’s what’s next. (Greg Sargent, WaPo OpEd)
In other words, Republicans will say they’re totally eager to engage on the substance, without defending or even acknowledging the actual substance of what Trump did. […]

It isn’t that Republicans substantively object to what Trump did — many probably do not — it’s that this is hard to defend politically. But resolutely pretending these facts don’t exist will continue to get harder, because the sheer scope of the corruption is overwhelming. […]

But the ultimate complication for the GOP might come from Trump himself. I submit that when Trump rage-tweets that we should “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” and threatens to read it aloud on television, it signals where he’d really like this to end up: With Republicans unabashedly defending what he actually did do.

In other words, Trump wants Republicans to say: Trump was damn right to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, because Biden is corrupt. Trump himself has at times unabashedly told reporters that, yes, Ukraine should investigate Biden. […]
He's rejecting our reality, and asserting his own. Again.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:17 AM on November 1, 2019 [23 favorites]


Poll warning for Trump and Republicans: Danger ahead. (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo Opinion)
If they drill down on Trump’s approval numbers, Republicans might go into full panic mode. His approval numbers are atrocious among women (31/64), white college graduates (38/61), women college graduates (32/67), suburban dwellers (41/56) and independents (38/57). Among suburban women he trails 33 to 63 percent. He is surviving almost entirely on white evangelicals (74/23). The top takeaways from this survey should be sobering for Republicans.

First, unless you are a Senate Republican from a state with a whole lot of white evangelicals, association with Trump may be injurious to your political survival. That should leave lawmakers such as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) from states with less than 26 percent white evangelicals looking to separate themselves from Trump (and consider breaking with him on impeachment).

Second, this is not a 50-50 country, but rather a country approaching 40-60 as Trump alienates just about every cross-section outside his base. Trump’s base is a dwindling minority of the population, and as isolated as his supporters are in the right-wing media bubble, that bubble has not tainted the majority of the country.

Third, Trump’s numbers with Americans under 30 (22/72) suggest he (and perhaps the Trumpized brand of politics) is going to wane as these Americans age and vote in greater numbers.

Finally, Republicans who deny Trump did anything wrong might want to think how that is going to play when even before they hear the evidence directly, 55 percent say he did something wrong, 47 percent seriously so.
posted by katra at 8:29 AM on November 1, 2019 [18 favorites]


If they drill down on Trump’s approval numbers, Republicans might go into full panic mode.

Please let it happen. Please.
posted by medusa at 8:41 AM on November 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


atrocious among women (31/64), white college graduates (38/61), women college graduates (32/67), suburban dwellers (41/56) and independents (38/57). Among suburban women he trails 33 to 63 percent.

26% of eligible voters voted for Trump in 2016.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:47 AM on November 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


David Brooks of the NyTimes asks "If Trump-style Republicans were trying to impeach a President Biden, Warren or Sanders, and there was evidence of guilt, would you vote to convict? Answer honestly."

The evidence would be thrown out because requiring a Democratic president to drive David Brooks in a New York cab has already been established as torture. Mostly of the truth but still torture nonetheless.
posted by srboisvert at 8:51 AM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


David Brooks of the NyTimes asks "If Trump-style Republicans were trying to impeach a President Biden, Warren or Sanders, and there was evidence of guilt, would you vote to convict? Answer honestly."

Conservative Democrats won't even vote for Bernie if he's the nominee. You really think they'll protect him in an impeachment trial? Manchin would be first in line to throw President Sanders under that bus.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:54 AM on November 1, 2019 [8 favorites]


26% of eligible voters voted for Trump in 2016.

And he barely won. That 26% constituted his base plus a number of groups -- notably suburban women -- that he's been steadily losing since. And meanwhile, he's energized Democratic turnout to the point that Republicans have had to fight hard for victories in the South, and not always won them. 2018 was a blue wave fueled in part by mobilizing Democratic turnout, which is why Republicans are working so hard to restrict the vote.

Trump needs more than his base and he can't afford to lose the more moderate elements of his 2016 coalition, but he already has. 2016 was a nasty surprise, but it truly may have been the last gasp of a patriarchal, evangelical rump that truly is seeing its influence wane as the country changes, as the Republicans themselves predicted after Romney's defeat. They have to be antidemocratic, because they can't win a majority of the vote any more. They didn't in 2016, by nearly three million.
posted by Gelatin at 8:56 AM on November 1, 2019 [27 favorites]


The President changed his permanent residence to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida

The article cited above discusses numerous legal and financial impacts of this change, but all I can think is that the Trump: Florida Man memes are going to be absolutely choice.
posted by Sublimity at 8:57 AM on November 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


Manchin would be first in line to throw President Sanders under that bus.

Two days ago Manchin stated that he wouldn't vote for Sanders in the general and refused to say that he wouldn't vote for Trump.

"Vote blue no matter who" only goes one direction.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:58 AM on November 1, 2019 [14 favorites]


I don't know why Republicans are afraid of the truth - Nancy Pelosi before the vote.

A+ shade there Nancy. This is a fact-finding excersize after all. Facts are bad for the republicans! When they complain about the process being unfair, they are essentially saying 'hey! the proof and facts are so obviously on your side, it's not fair because we have no defense against that!'
posted by adept256 at 9:30 AM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


2016 was a nasty surprise, but it truly may have been the last gasp of a patriarchal, evangelical rump that truly is seeing its influence wane as the country changes,

Been waiting 20 years for this to happen. Never has. Never wanes.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2019 [30 favorites]


Rust, I abhor dems who vote against us, too. But if they get us a majority that means control of the agenda and the committees, and that’s not nothing.
posted by rikschell at 9:41 AM on November 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


The Democratic Party needs to stand for more than "not nothing." Including not voting for fucking Trump.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:53 AM on November 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


In a just world his constituents would vote him out in the next election. Just like we should do with Trump. If the Dems did not have a majority would impeachment even be a topic of discussion?
posted by Justin Case at 10:04 AM on November 1, 2019


[Couple comments removed, please wind down the time-filling arguments. If nothing is happening right now other than bleh congresspeople being bleh, we don’t need to fight down to the bone about the nature of blehness.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:15 AM on November 1, 2019 [8 favorites]


Apparently Pelosi went on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night to make the case for / defend the impeachment process. Hot takes on Twitter are mixed, because of course they are.

CNN reports that the latest polling has impeach-and-remove favored by 82% of Democrats, 18% of Republicans, and 47% of self-described independents. Overall, that works out to 49% for, 47% against.

I think what's often elided in these polling articles is the overall number of self-described Democrats vs. Republicans; there's a certain both-sides-ism that pervades the reporting, seemingly making the assumption that there are an equal number of Ds and Rs. Which isn't true; Trump has driven many moderate Republicans out of the party since taking over and remaking it into his personal organ. (A phrase that I regret typing as soon as I read it, but I will now leave you all with as well.)

As of Oct 2019, Gallup reported that 29% of Americans identified as Democrats, 26% as Republicans, and 43% as "independent". That's a significant slide for Republicans, who once polled at 31% back in mid-2016. It seems most of the disaffected Republicans have become independents, not Democrats, making that perhaps the key indicator if you care about Trump's possible fate in the Senate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:32 AM on November 1, 2019 [13 favorites]


So as far as I can tell, House Republicans have no strategy at all. They're trying to survive day to day by showing enough loyalty and subservience to avoid a tweet or a primary challenge and that's it. If there's any strategy overall, it seems to be... I dunno, running the clock out on this until the new year and then McConnell pulls his bullshit of "It's an election year, let the people decide." He'll run the impeachment trial because the rules say he has to, sure, but nothing will be in good faith. And then Senate Republicans all mumble whatever about being troubled but follow suit with the same party line.

None of that means Democrats shouldn't fight like hell, because the fight itself is necessary even without any real prospect of removing the fucker. And as been said, if Republicans in Congress do turn on him, it'll all happen at once.

But I haven't seen anything else that looks like a strategy from Republicans so far other than complaining about the process and throwing tantrums. That's not a fight. That's making a display of loyalty.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


The Impeachment Inquiry Is Fully Legitimate (Michael Gerhardt, The Atlantic)
The seriousness and circumspection of [the impeachment] process stands in marked contrast to the president’s attacks on it. […] Republicans have moved the goal posts in their quest to defend the president’s conduct as perfectly legitimate and the current hearings as anything but.

Their argument is not merely wrong but dangerous, and it seems to be gaining traction in the national conversation. I have been working on federal impeachment law for more than two decades—since I published my first book on the topic—and in that time I have been asked numerous questions about impeachment, typically about the scope of impeachable offenses. But I have never heard assertions like those being made today on the president’s behalf, which question the legitimacy of the process itself and the Constitution’s constraints on presidential power.
Michael Gerhardt is a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:47 AM on November 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


We don’t need to fight down to the bone about the nature of blehness.

I beg your pardon, good sir, you appear to be unfamiliar with the place known as Metafilter.
posted by medusa at 10:48 AM on November 1, 2019 [24 favorites]


Rudy Had a Secret Meeting With Zelensky’s Rival, Too (Daily Beast, via Politico)
The meeting took place just around the time when the president’s lawyer began expressing interest in conspiracies about Ukraine’s role in the Mueller probe.
The meeting with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko took place on Dec. 5, 2018 in the U.S. and was set up with the help of two former Republican members of Congress. [...] While the meeting was disclosed in a Department of Justice lobbying database, the contents of what was discussed have remained private. But a contemporaneous Ukrainian press report on the meeting said that Tymoshenko and Giuliani reportedly "discussed security issues, including the escalation of Russia's war against Ukraine and the US assistance to our country.” [...]

The fact that she took the time to meet with Giuliani suggests that both she and her handlers understood the powerful role that he was playing in U.S. policy toward Ukraine well before that role became public and sparked congressional interest in Trump’s impeachment. That U.S. aid to Ukraine was a discussion topic raises additional questions about how involved Giuliani was in actually crafting American foreign policy despite playing no official role in State Department channels. [...] Giuliani has said that he began “investigating Ukraine back in November” of 2018. [...]

The person who set up that meeting was former congressman Bob McEwen, an Ohio Republican who has become a powerful advocate in conservative circles since leaving the Hill. [...] Although McEwen is not a registered lobbyist, he did sign on as a “consultant” in a FARA registration filed by the Livingston Group [...] McEwen is close with Vice President Mike Pence and has been pictured with him several times throughout the last few years, including events with the Council for National Policy, an umbrella group for conservative activists that McEwen runs. Several weeks ago, Pence thanked McEwen publicly for the work he did at the Council. [...]

Through it all, McEwen appears to have adopted the same criticisms and fears of the Mueller investigation that Giuliani himself espoused. [...] in March of this year he retweeted a Trump tweet of conservative media figure (and conspiracy theorist purveyor) John Solomon alleging that there was a “Ukrainian plot to help Clinton.” [...] McEwen is scheduled to host a talk with Sidney Powell, the attorney for former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, on the “corrupt Mueller investigations”.
posted by katra at 11:46 AM on November 1, 2019 [6 favorites]


I just tweeted the following:
Yes, @realdonaldtrump please do read the full transcript of your perfect call on TV! We all want to hear what you said about Biden. #ReadTheTranscript #FiresideChat
Naturally, I encourage other people to tweet something similar — it would be fantastic if he actually did it! I love the idea of #ReadTheTranscript (content warning: Trumpists) being full of people asking Trump to incriminate himself.
posted by danielparks at 12:04 PM on November 1, 2019 [6 favorites]


As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction (WaPo)
President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as “Never Trumpers” and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.”

To the Democratic leaders directing the impeachment proceedings, Trump’s actions to stymie their probe into his conduct with Ukraine add up to another likely article of impeachment: Obstruction. [...] Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional law scholar at Harvard Law School who has informally advised some Democratic House leaders, said Trump’s actions are unprecedented.

“I know of no instance when a president subject to a serious impeachment effort, whether Andrew Johnson or Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, has essentially tried to lower the curtain entirely — treating the whole impeachment process as illegitimate, deriding it as a ‘lynching’ and calling it a ‘kangaroo court,’ ” Tribe said.

“It’s not simply getting in the way of an inquiry,” he added. “It’s basically saying one process that the Constitution put in place, thanks to people like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, for dealing with an out-of-control president, is a process he is trying to subvert, undermine and delegitimate. That, to me, is clearly a high crime and misdemeanor.”
posted by katra at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2019 [20 favorites]


has driven many moderate Republicans out of the party since taking over and remaking it into his personal organ

Old, white, and male, with a history of traumatizing women? shrinking in both size and relevance by the day? yep, that all checks out.

Here's hoping the analogy holds up and the reality of a woman in power is enough to make what remains of the party shrivel up and die.

posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 12:11 PM on November 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


The thing about Trump wanting to read the transcript is that he's pulling his usual magician's trick on us, he wants people to focus on one phone call as if that's the entire of the scandal and ignore the entire network of meetings that led up to it. Now his agitators don't have to go out there and defend against a vast conspiracy, they just have to push "Even if he did it, it was just one phone call. I bet they all do it."
posted by Freon at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2019 [14 favorites]


Seen on Facebook:

"Fun fact: Every Republican just voted against the impeachment transparency that every Republican was demanding last week."

Part of the crisis in the media is that they expect Republicans to act in bad faith, so don't remark on it -- which is why Democrats get criticized for carrying forward with impeachment in the face of expected lockstep Republican opposition in the Senate, and Republicans don't get criticized for the fact that everyone expects their lockstep opposition. It's like the media know that Republican calls for "transparency" and "process" are only placeholder arguments so they don't seem to even notice when Republicans reveal they never meant it anyway.

(Republicans complaining about "gotcha questions" is working the refs to obtain exactly this result.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:20 PM on November 1, 2019 [38 favorites]


Wiktionary definition of 'work the refs'
1. (sports) To attempt to persuade the referee or other officials to view the players on one's team with a sympathetic bias. quotations

2. (politics, by extension) To manipulate the press to view one's candidate favorably and to report negative stories on one's opponent. quotations
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Anytime I've seen him read anything he stops every sentence to throw in all kinds of asides. His "reading" would end up being garbled non-sense. "Hello. I said that first. How kind of me. I'm not sure I remember if he said it back. I didn't have to say it, but I did. How big of me. I don't think the media even noted it. I try and say it whenever I meet someone. Hello. Then I wave or shake their hands. Unless I'm on the phone. Then you can't. Anyway, case closed. There was no pressure. Perfect call."
posted by xammerboy at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2019 [34 favorites]


My guess is that the pauses for the insertion of random comments has to do with reading off the teleprompter. Since he won't wear glasses, the font is huge and scrolls slowly so he's waiting to read the next line of text to emerge. Not having read it beforehand, he has no clue what he's going to say next so he improvises.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2019 [6 favorites]


Pelosi on Friday did not rule out including instances of Trump’s possible obstruction of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian election interference in articles of impeachment drafted by the House.

“There were 11 obstruction-of-justice provisions in the Mueller report,” Pelosi said during an interview on Bloomberg television. “Perhaps some of them will be part of this, but again that will be part of the inquiry to see where we go.”
posted by kirkaracha at 1:57 PM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


Trump: The Soviet Witch Coup Has Found Me Innocent
Republicans have spent weeks calling impeachment proceedings a coup, and then a witch hunt. Confusingly, they appear to believe witch hunts are quasi-judicial proceedings run by actual witches, and accordingly circulated merchandise depicting Democrats as a coven. Then yesterday — of all days to stop talking about witches! — they made the puzzling decision to switch metaphors again, and begin likening impeachment to a Soviet show trial. It was as their sole messaging objective was to make Arthur Miller turn over in his grave.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2019 [14 favorites]


The message from the Gerhardt essay needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

I have long thought that, though Republican voters hated President Obama because of his race, Republican elites hated him because he was a constitutional scholar. The last thing they want is someone in the presidency who knows full well what they shouldn’t be able to get away with.
posted by Sublimity at 2:23 PM on November 1, 2019 [19 favorites]


Part of the crisis in the media is that they expect Republicans to act in bad faith,

Is this true? I wondered why each and every discussion with Republicans doesn't begin with an analysis of "Are you acting honestly and in good faith?"

I thought it was more "both sides" bullshit poisoning the discourse.
posted by mikelieman at 3:04 PM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Third, Trump’s numbers with Americans under 30 (22/72) suggest he (and perhaps the Trumpized brand of politics) is going to wane as these Americans age and vote in greater numbers.

True; Generation X will need to come up with its own terrible politicians when the time comes.
posted by acb at 3:18 PM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thank you to the OP, katra, who keeps posting great links and thanks as well to the many other contributors to this thread. I much appreciate your efforts!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:24 PM on November 1, 2019 [42 favorites]


I had a revelation recently, that the reason the GOP keeps talking about impeachment overturning the results of an election is because that is the talking point they had prepared for the Mueller investigation into the 2016 election. But now we have this new crime of interference with the Next election and they don't have any way of defending it so they're still repeating the talking point from their last strategy. It's the same reason they're making process arguments: because they have no other defense.
posted by threeturtles at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


the reason the GOP keeps talking about impeachment overturning the results of an election is because that is the talking point they had prepared for the Mueller investigation into the 2016 election

Sure, but they themselves are ignoring the results of the 2018 election where they lost 40 seats in the House and the Democrats took control.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:50 PM on November 1, 2019 [8 favorites]


White House official who heard Trump’s call with Ukraine leader testified that he was told to keep quiet

“If this is such a perfect call, why is everybody going to these extraordinary lengths?” said a U.S. official familiar with Vindman’s testimony this week. “Why are people running immediately to the White House counsel? Why is the White House counsel telling people not to talk about it?”

posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:50 PM on November 1, 2019 [33 favorites]


Growing number of GOP senators consider acknowledging Trump’s quid pro quo on Ukraine (WaPo)
Meanwhile, the president has frustrated Senate Republicans by seeming to change his messaging strategy every day rather than present a coherent defense of his actions, said multiple Senate GOP officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment frankly. [...]

Such a step would also undercut Trump’s central talking point on impeachment — and would clash with House Republicans’ strategy. Trump’s Capitol Hill allies and Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), are sticking with Trump’s line that there was no proposed trade-off with Ukraine. [...] In the Senate, however, some Republicans aren’t as confident and have expressed concerns about the endless drip of embarrassing headlines from daily witness testimony that the U.S. aid and a White House visit for Zelensky hinged on the Biden probe. [...]

“He honestly believes that there may have been corruption in Ukraine, and before he turns over $400 million of American taxpayer money, he’s entitled to ask,” [Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.)] said, later adding, “The issue to be litigated … is going to be: Did the president have a good-faith reason to believe that Hunter Biden may have been involved in corruption? And if I’m correct in my analysis, then there will be a lot of time spent on what Mr. Biden did for the money.”
On Bidens and Ukraine, Wild Claims With Little Basis (Bloomberg, Oct 9, 2019)
posted by katra at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


WaPo: 7:30 p.m.: Energy Secretary Rick Perry expected to testify in impeachment inquiry
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who told Trump he would resign by the end of the year, is expected to testify Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry, said a person working on the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door conversations. Perry, who previously refused to comply with a subpoena demanding documents pertaining to the probe, is set to appear on the same day as a slate of other high-level agency officials.
Rick Perry won't testify at impeachment inquiry hearing (Politico, 08:54 PM EDT)
“The Secretary will not partake in a secret star chamber inquisition where agency counsel is forbidden to be present," DOE spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said in an email, adding that Perry would consider a request from lawmakers to testify in an open hearing.
posted by katra at 6:08 PM on November 1, 2019 [6 favorites]


"Generation X will need to come up with its own terrible politicians when the time comes"

Oh, we have, believe me. But people under 30 aren't Generation X anymore.

I can see why you'd make that mistake, though, because like Millennials and the following generation, we want the damn Boomers to stop running everything.
posted by litlnemo at 6:33 PM on November 1, 2019 [22 favorites]


I can see why you'd make that mistake, though, because like Millennials and the following generation, we want the damn Boomers to stop running everything.

Millennials alone outnumber Boomers but vote at half the rate. All they have to do is vote.

Trump’s numbers with Americans under 30 (22/72) suggest he (and perhaps the Trumpized brand of politics) is going to wane as these Americans age and vote in greater numbers.

If they wait much longer to vote, more of them will more likely vote as Republicans because every demographic becomes more conservative as they get older.

If Millennials want change, they need to start voting now, not 10 years from now.
posted by JackFlash at 7:16 PM on November 1, 2019 [12 favorites]


> If they wait much longer to vote, more of them will more likely vote as Republicans because every demographic becomes more conservative as they get older.

it's less that every demographic becomes more conservative as they get older as it is that rich people are more likely to both be conservative and also live longer.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:41 PM on November 1, 2019 [42 favorites]




CSM does a take on Gen X candidates past and present. (short version, lack of a candidate probably best represents gen x).
posted by Harry Caul at 2:58 AM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


[This is an impeachment post and impeachment thread for discussing impeachment things about the impeachment inquiry, so let's please drop the Millennials / Gen X thing and other off topic items at this point. Thanks. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:57 AM on November 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


Amid impeachment inquiry, U.S. trade officials in Ukraine for talks (Politico)
On Thursday, the top Democrats on the Senate Finance and Foreign Relations committees asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for information on whether the White House interfered with his efforts to restore some trade benefits for Ukraine that Trump suspended in December 2017.

That followed a Washington Post story last month, which said Lighthizer was discouraged from submitting the recommendation by then-national security adviser John Bolton on the grounds that Trump was unlikely to approve it. [...] They also asked whether Trump had ever asked Lighthizer to convey the president's interest in Ukraine launching an investigation into the activities of any of his political opponents. [...]

USTR has not yet issued any response to Wyden and Menendez's letter, or to an earlier letter from Wyden about whether Trump had asked China for a similar investigation as part of the U.S.-China trade negotiations.
posted by katra at 8:54 AM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


The impeachable offense Trump may have committed — but Democrats aren’t really talking about (Aaron Blake, WaPo)
Why get bogged down in specific offenses with actual statutory requirements that the other side could argue must be satisfied, when you’re really making a general case about abuses of power? That risks allowing people to argue this wasn’t technically bribery, and maybe allowing the accused to skate. A number of experts have argued against defining what Trump did as bribery, including Renato Mariotti and Teri Kanefield, for that very reason.

But we’re in a different era now, in which polarization has rendered basically any subjectivity and plausible deniability politically weaponized. The phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a nebulous one to pretty much every American who doesn’t call themselves a constitutional scholar. That allows plenty of people to convince themselves Trump’s actions don’t rise to the level required.

You could argue that defining Trump’s misdeeds by a less subjective term would be much more fruitful. Does your average person know whether what Trump allegedly did is a “high Crime” or “Misdemeanor?” Perhaps not. And perhaps they think a “high Crime” means something, well, with a high degree of criminality — which isn’t true.

Could they be convinced, by contrast, that it was the kind of bribery that is expressly forbidden in the Constitution? And, on a more basic level, do people even know that bribery is an impeachable offense? Those are the questions Democrats should probably be asking themselves about now.
posted by katra at 8:58 AM on November 2, 2019 [8 favorites]




Experts on Trump's conduct: 'Plainly an abuse of power, plainly impeachable' (Guardian)
As Democrats hit the gas on impeachment this week, Donald Trump exhorted Republicans to defend him on the substance of his actions in the Ukraine scandal, instead of sniping about the process.

“Rupublicans [sic],” Trump tweeted “go with Substance and close it out!”

[...] there is a (slightly) subtler version of Trump defense that Republicans are trying out which says that while Trump’s conduct has not been irreproachable, neither has it been impeachable.

The argument, according to constitutional experts and historians of impeachment, is not a strong one. In fact, Trump’s conduct, according to analysts interviewed by the Guardian, hews more closely than any previous conduct by any other president to what scholars conceive as a concrete example of impeachable behavior. [...]

Many are finding defending Trump difficult at the moment. Republican lawmakers spent Thursday fleeing reporters trying to ask the question, “Do you think it’s OK for the president to pressure foreign governments to interfere in our elections?”. One lawmaker even headbutted a camera rather than reply.
posted by katra at 9:10 AM on November 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


Trump tries to banish the specter of impeachment with red-state campaign tour (WaPo)
A new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research contained mixed news for Trump. Despite an 85 percent approval rating among Republicans, 33 percent of Republicans said Trump doesn’t make them feel “proud,” and 41 percent of Republicans said Trump doesn’t make them feel “excited.”

The poll released Thursday found that 61 percent of Americans, including 26 percent of Republicans, say Trump has little to no respect for the country’s democratic institutions and traditions. That is an issue at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressured the leader of Ukraine for political favors.
posted by katra at 9:13 AM on November 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


Holy crap, I hadn’t registered this before.

From the WaPo article:
A vague eight-word phrase was added and attributed to Zelensky that the foreign leader never said. The specific word that Zelensky did say was omitted from the official record: “Burisma,” the Ukrainian company that employed Biden’s son Hunter. In its place, the official transcript used this instead: “the company that you mentioned in this issue.”
posted by bjrubble at 9:15 AM on November 2, 2019 [31 favorites]


"they are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services”

The damage this will do to the most effective and longest-established international agency relationships is incalculable. This alone will lead to lost lives and a more unstable world. Astoundingly stupid to the point of actual evil aimed at allies and the USA itself. Barr should be immediately sacked and made to face the strongest possible charges.
posted by Devonian at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2019 [42 favorites]


And, on a more basic level, do people even know that bribery is an impeachable offense? Those are the questions Democrats should probably be asking themselves about now.

Well, we can start with the fact that bribery is one of the examples of impeachable crimes listed in the Constitution.
posted by rhizome at 9:32 AM on November 2, 2019 [17 favorites]


The damage this will do to the most effective and longest-established international agency relationships is incalculable. This alone will lead to lost lives and a more unstable world. Astoundingly stupid to the point of actual evil aimed at allies and the USA itself. Barr should be immediately sacked and made to face the strongest possible charges.


Yes, at this point Putin has won so much I'm tired of him winning.
I'm afraid rebuilding international trust, and law and order will take more than a generation, but I hope there are new leaders waiting out there who will do it better and faster than that. As not American, I look at the presidential candidates through that lens, and non of them really impress me. Maybe Harris? I understand why domestic issues feel more important for the American voters, but lawlessness and corruption harms everyone.
posted by mumimor at 9:48 AM on November 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


Growing number of GOP senators consider acknowledging Trump’s quid pro quo on Ukraine (WaPo)

Note that this strategy fallback position concedes not only the quid pro quo, but also that Trump tried to pressure a foreign government to launch an investigation that would benefit him politically. Republicans seem to have successfully moved the goalposts by yammering about "quid pro quo" -- nice messaging, Democrats, and way to get suckered again, "liberal media" -- but the fact that Trump asked a foreign government to interfere in a US election again is impeachable all by itself, and Trump released the evidence that he did so himself.
posted by Gelatin at 10:30 AM on November 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


I thought it was more "both sides" bullshit poisoning the discourse.

The fact that the media knows it has to make a tendentious effort to distort Democratic conduct into a "both sides" narrative proves that they expect bad faith from the Republicans. They're just more concerned about excusing said bad faith and bad conduct with its lazy, cowardly "both sides" narrative than on telling the truth about it, because facts have a liberal bias and the media is terrified of being called liberal, though they will be any time they publish anything Republicans don't like.
posted by Gelatin at 10:37 AM on November 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


The New York Times has rightly been lambasted widely for their both-sideism on impeachment issues and practically every other political topic these days, but it's hard to level such a charge against them for a piece like this: In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies.
We look inside the alternate reality of President Trump’s Twitter account, where he absorbs and amplifies a noxious stream of disinformation.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:00 AM on November 2, 2019 [18 favorites]




Your Childhood Pet Rock, I would encourage you to post the Buzzfeed 302s cache news as a separate FPP. I think it is something a lot of us will want to chew over, and this is not actually the appropriate thread for that.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:28 AM on November 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


The limited release of the 302s ("Another installment will be released every month for at least the next eight years") appear to have some relevance to the impeachment inquiry, so maybe there is a way we can keep focused on that aspect here:
Manafort was pushing the conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the DNC as early as 2016

Page 14: In an April 2018 interview with the special counsel’s office, Rick Gates, who had served as deputy Trump campaign chair and long been Paul Manafort’s right-hand man, told investigators that after the campaign learned the DNC had been hacked, Manafort pushed the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had orchestrated the attack. It’s a conspiracy theory that’s persisted in right-wing circles, even after the US Intelligence Community concluded Russia was involved, and one that Trump brought up in his July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a written memorandum of the July call released by the White House, Trump at one point says to Zelensky, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

Read more on this.
posted by katra at 11:40 AM on November 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash

Gazprom shares, surely?

Saudi Aramco's trillion dollar IPO
posted by Mrs Potato at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump, sitting behind the Resolute Desk, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”

With a roaring fire going in the live chat's background, one should be careful their own posterior doesn't spontaneously combust. Fireproof underwear? Will fire extinguishers be available?
posted by cenoxo at 1:56 PM on November 2, 2019


What’s funny is when he mentioned a reading he likely had zero intention of actually doing it, it was just a weird lie that he can’t help but spew (like when he said Melania would give a press conference about how perfect her immigration papers were). Now with people talking about it he might just double down and read some doctored version.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:28 PM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call

AKA Dumpster-fire-side chat.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:30 PM on November 2, 2019 [17 favorites]


A presidential loathing for Ukraine is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry (WaPo)
Three of President Trump’s top advisers met with him in the Oval Office in May, determined to convince him that the new Ukrainian leader was an ally deserving of U.S. support. They had barely begun their pitch when Trump unloaded on them, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting. In Trump’s mind, the officials said, Ukraine’s entire leadership had colluded with the Democrats to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign. “They tried to take me down,” Trump railed. [...]

“We could never quite understand it,” a former senior White House official said of Trump’s view of the former Soviet republic, also saying that much of it stemmed from the president’s embrace of conspiracy theories. “There were accusations that they had somehow worked with the Clinton campaign. There were accusations they’d hurt him. He just hated Ukraine.” [...]

In the end, most U.S. officials agreed that Trump’s anger with Ukraine, like many of his grievances, was connected with the 2016 election and his feeling that Ukraine was responsible for the humiliating fall of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. Trump’s hatred, they concluded, was ingrained, irrational and possibly irreversible.
Internal Mueller documents show Trump campaign chief pushed unproven theory Ukraine hacked Democrats (WaPo)
The new information shows how early people in Trump’s orbit were pushing the unsubstantiated theory about Ukraine’s role. And it illustrates a link between Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March, and the current House impeachment investigation of Trump. [...] Regarding Ukraine, a summary of an interview with Gates conducted in April 2018 shows that Gates told the FBI that Manafort citing Ukrainians for the hacks “parroted a narrative” that was also advanced at the time by Konstantin Kilimnik — an employee of Manafort who the FBI has assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence. [...]

Shortly after the Democratic convention, Gates told the FBI that he was traveling in a car with Trump to the airport from Trump Tower in New York when Trump received a phone call related to WikiLeaks. Shortly after boarding an airplane, Gates said, Trump informed him that additional releases of information would be forthcoming. [...] In written answers to questions posed by Mueller, Trump indicated he had no advanced knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.
posted by katra at 2:31 PM on November 2, 2019 [19 favorites]


Hell, he actually believes the shit that the conservative conspiracy complex are feeding him. It's like an ouroboros of lies.

I think by this point they all believe it; they're in a closed loop of bullshit that Newt Gingrich started 25 years ago. Matt Gaetz is 37 years old. He grew up immersed in the bullsht, and I think he truly, truly believes that there is some kind of giant conspiracy working above and beyond the powers of the two branches of the US Government to stop.

This impeachment process must become a starting point toward delegitimizing the right wing in America. How this happens is beyond me.
posted by Room 101 at 3:20 PM on November 2, 2019 [32 favorites]


It's as if someone never revealed to their child that Santa wasn't real and kept going to more elaborate lengths to sneak presents under the tree and got them to go to college and get a job by telling them Santa would be mad if they didn't and now the parents finally died and the adult child is getting angrier and angrier every time Santa doesn't show up to magically give them what they want at Christmas...
posted by Scattercat at 3:23 PM on November 2, 2019 [21 favorites]


This impeachment process must become a starting point toward delegitimizing the right wing in America. How this happens is beyond me.

Unfortunately I seriously doubt that is the direction that the process will drive the believers.
posted by Bovine Love at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


BuzzFeed News, yesterday: A Lawyer For Giuliani's Ukrainian Associate Tried To Argue He Was Not A Flight Risk. It Did Not Go Well. "On the way out of the federal courthouse in downtown New York, Blanche shook his head, seeming defeated. When BuzzFeed News asked him for his card in order to get the spelling of his name correct, he responded, 'I wish you wouldn’t spell my name right. I wish I had one of my colleague's cards to give you instead. Lord.'"
posted by jocelmeow at 4:41 PM on November 2, 2019 [33 favorites]


CORRECTION November 1, 2019, at 3:19 p.m.

Assistant US Attorney Nicolas Roos's name was misstated in an earlier version of this post.

Should have gotten his card.
posted by JackFlash at 4:50 PM on November 2, 2019 [15 favorites]


"[Rick] Gates recalled a time on the campaign aircraft when candidate Trump said, 'get the emails.' [Michael] Flynn said he could use his intelligence sources to obtain the emails," investigators wrote in a summary of Gates' April 2018 interview with Mueller's team. Flynn was a foreign policy adviser on the campaign and became Trump's first national security adviser.

"Flynn had the most Russia contacts of anyone on the campaign and was in the best position to ask for the emails if they were out there," the investigators also wrote about Gates' interview.


So Trump ordered them to get the illegally hacked emails and Michael Flynn offered to do it since he had intelligence sources. It doesn't say whether they were US or Russian intelligence, but either way he was attempting to use government assistance to help the Trump campaign. That is a crime and Trump okayed it.
posted by JackFlash at 4:56 PM on November 2, 2019 [29 favorites]


Gates described in an interview with Mueller investigators last year how several close advisers to Trump, Trump's family members and Trump himself considered how to get the stolen documents and pushed the effort, according to investigators' summary.

"Gates said Donald Trump Jr. would ask where the emails were in family meetings. Michael Flynn, [Jared] Kushner, [Paul] Manafort, [Redacted] [Corey] Lewandowski, Jeff Sessions, and Sam Clovis expressed interest in obtaining the emails as well.


So the whole family were engaged in obtaining stolen documents to help Trump's campaign.

These revelations should constitute another article of impeachment.

Meanwhile Bill Barr is obstructing justice by refusing to release the grand jury testimony relating to these crimes.
posted by JackFlash at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2019 [29 favorites]


one should be careful their own posterior doesn't spontaneously combust

dunno about the posterior, but his pants, at least, have been on fire for decades.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:37 PM on November 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wish you wouldn’t spell my name right. I wish I had one of my colleague's cards to give you instead. Lord.

2019 has been pretty horrible, but I'm kinda liking this last month. Despite the continuing horrors and the uncertainty of victory, I do enjoy watching them squirm. Squirm harder, assholes.
posted by ryanrs at 7:32 PM on November 2, 2019 [30 favorites]


Trump gets deluge of boos upon entering MSG prior to UFC 244 (The Hill)
President Trump was welcomed into Madison Square Garden Saturday night with heavy booing from the crowd.

The president is at the arena to watch the main fight of UFC 244.
President Trump getting massively booed as he entered the Garden for #UFC244 pic.twitter.com/ZwmSxlQ4uL
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) November 3, 2019
This is the second time in six days that the president has been heavily booed during a public appearance.
posted by katra at 10:44 PM on November 2, 2019 [34 favorites]


Did he actually watch the fight or did he leave after being booed like last time? More importantly, did anybody get a close-up of his face?
posted by SakuraK at 10:51 PM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Uh, no... they're saying boo-urns." (CBS News)
Trump Jr. disputed they were booed at the event. In a tweet that was later retweeted by Mr. Trump, Trump Jr. wrote "when we walked into the arena it was overwhelmingly positive."
posted by katra at 11:07 PM on November 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


but either way he [Flynn] was attempting to use government assistance to help the Trump campaign. That is a crime

That’s one of the reasons why Flynn is almost in jail.

and Trump okayed it.

Trump is President, so those rules don’t apply. See Michael Cohen.
posted by notyou at 11:10 PM on November 2, 2019


“when we walked into the arena it was overwhelmingly positive."

Haha. That guy is such a duck. Imagine the privileged, secret service approved gate they walked through.
posted by notyou at 11:13 PM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


Trump is President, so those rules don’t apply.

Feds release Flynn interview notes (Politico)
The disclosure came as a new defense team led by a prominent critic of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, Sidney Powell, has mounted an extraordinarily broad attack on Mueller’s team and the FBI, accusing them of altering key evidence in the case and essentially tricking Flynn into the guilty plea he offered in December 2017 and reaffirmed a year later.

In a court filing Friday that included the notes and other records, prosecutors roundly rejected the defense’s new tack. [...]

In a separate filing late Friday, Flynn’s attorneys continued to press their demand for access to data from mobile phones used by Malta-born professor Joseph Mifsud, who is suspected of playing a role in U.S. government efforts directed at Trump campaign advisers in 2016. Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly persuaded Italian officials to turn over the phones after traveling to that country on two occasions earlier this year seeking cooperation in a Justice Department inquiry into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. [...]

Even if the maneuvering by Flynn’s defense amounts to naught in the courts, the lawyers’ efforts to surface complaints about the Trump-Russia probe and the Mueller investigation could improve chances of Flynn receiving a pardon or commutation from President Donald Trump. Trump has already offered praise for Flynn’s new lead lawyer, Powell, calling her a “GREAT LAWYER” in a June tweet.
posted by katra at 11:31 PM on November 2, 2019 [8 favorites]


I frequently find myself wondering who is paying for all of these lawyers, especially for figures like Flynn.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:54 PM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


The RNC has covered some. Flynn has sold his Va house, and has a legal defense fund for donations.
posted by Harry Caul at 2:37 AM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Trump Jr. disputed they were booed at the event. In a tweet that was later retweeted by Mr. Trump, Trump Jr. wrote "when we walked into the arena it was overwhelmingly positive."

Something something party something something reject evidence something something own eyes and ears.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:38 AM on November 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


Something something definitely not so bright. I think we can be excused here if we don't discuss Trump Jr.
Better to focus on Mr. Stable Genius and the true enablers, those who put some actual brain power towards shielding him.
posted by Namlit at 6:49 AM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


More importantly... a UFC crowd isn’t exactly gonna be stacked with lefties, you know what I mean? It’s like the toxic masculinity hive mind, a sea of Rogans.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:55 AM on November 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


a UFC crowd ...a sea of Rogans.

Imagine having a piece of the nutritional supplement concession!
posted by thelonius at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


Have people actually watched the clips? It's not at all like the Nationals game. There is booing but there is just as much if not more cheering.

I wish that it was nothing but boos but we are just are blind as the Trump loyalists if we ignore the cheering and support that he does receive.
posted by nolnacs at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2019 [18 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Trump was thinking he would find an event where he would be cheered instead of booed. I'm sure he was told that the world series is attended by elites only. It's got me thinking though - can Trump go to any city event and not be booed? His support is in rural areas.
posted by xammerboy at 7:03 AM on November 3, 2019


The UFC story is a tabula rasa.

Fox News went with 'Trump Cheered (and Booed) at UFC match in New York City,' while NBC went with the subtly-different 'Trump Booed, Cheered at UFC fight in New York City,' and CNN opted for 'Trump met with loud boos, some cheers at UFC fight in New York.'

Dana White, president of UFC (and longtime Trump supporter) said it was the most electrifying entrance he's seen in 25 years. Vince McMahon uses 'electrifying' a lot too, and in the same way--in the fight business, boos and cheers are both loud noises.
posted by box at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


>but either way he [Flynn] was attempting to use government assistance to help the Trump campaign. That is a crime

>That’s one of the reasons why Flynn is almost in jail.


No, Flynn was convicted of lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions. He was not convicted or charged with using US or Russian government assistance to help the Trump campaign get stolen documents. This is an entirely new crime.

Bill Barr has been concealing this information from congress and the public. This new information was revealed by a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by CNN to get Mueller investigation interview notes.
posted by JackFlash at 7:42 AM on November 3, 2019 [21 favorites]


Mueller interview notes obtained by CNN show Trump's push for stolen emails (CNN)
CNN sued the Justice Department for access to Mueller's witness interview notes, and this weekend's release marks the first publicly available behind-the-scenes look at Mueller's investigative work outside of court proceedings and the report itself. Per a judge's order, the Justice Department will continue to release new tranches of the Mueller investigative notes monthly to CNN and Buzzfeed News, which also sued for them. [...]

Read the interview notes
posted by katra at 8:00 AM on November 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


To Beat Trump, Focus on His Corruption (David Leonhardt, NYT Opinion)
Trump’s supporters seem to take his personality as a given and aren’t moved by complaints about it. Some fraction of them, however, can evidently be swayed by his failure to live up to his policy promises. [...] The most promising version of that argument revolves around corruption: The Ukraine quid pro quo matters because it shows how Trump has reneged on his promise to fight for ordinary Americans and is using the power of the presidency to benefit himself. [...] Casting Trump as a reprobate is tempting because, well, he is. He is a “pathological liar,” as Ted Cruz said during the 2016 Republican primaries, as well as a “con artist” (Marco Rubio’s description) and a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” (Lindsey Graham’s). Mick Mulvaney, then a Republican congressman, had the simplest summary: “He’s a terrible human being.”

But none of these descriptions has proved to be an effective political tactic against Trump. [...] The contrast between 2016 and 2018 fits a global pattern. Demagogues like Trump typically rise to power when people have come to distrust a country’s elites, as Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago has pointed out. Demagogues “don’t exist in a vacuum,” Zingales has said. “The more the elite go after him, the more people think, ‘He’s one of us.’” The better strategy — one that defeated Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, for example — is to treat demagogues like normal politicians who have failed to deliver.

The Ukraine scandal offers Democrats a chance to do so. As a candidate, Trump promised to fix the country and make it great again. But he didn’t really mean it. From the beginning — like the secret negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign — he has tried to help himself, not the country. [...] Of course, he will still use his flamboyant style to present himself as an outsider and cast the Democratic nominee as an elitist insider. But this same style leaves him open to a second message that can fit comfortably with anti-corruption. It’s the chaos argument.

Trump has turned American politics into an exhausting circus. “The best argument against Trump is simply this: We can’t tolerate another four years like these,” Axelrod said. “We can’t wake up to crazy tweets and gratuitous taunts. That gets in the way of solving problems that affect people’s lives.” [...] With Trump on the ballot, the chaos argument can be even sharper: Trump deliberately creates chaos to distract from his failures as president. Democrats don’t need to litigate the details of every false statement. The more effective response may instead be a version of Ronald Reagan’s knowing line: There he goes again. [...] And Democrats will need to avoid the long-winded, disorganized speechifying that characterize most congressional hearings. They will need to make a clear, convincing case — not that Donald Trump is a bad person, but that he has failed the country.
posted by katra at 8:43 AM on November 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


For all our heavy breathing about the NY Times' many failings and awful op-ed page regulars, Paul Krugman and David Leonhardt are two of the clearest, most astute, most correct commentators in the punditocracy.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:49 AM on November 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


Trump getting booed at public sporting events will now be used as a distraction tactic - it’s total reality show feud style bullshit, and maintains the us-vs-them persecution complex of his base. It shouldn’t be surprising that his team trotted him out for another round just as evidence of a fresh batch of crimes comes to light with the Mueller notes dump.
posted by aiglet at 9:05 AM on November 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


That’s the silliest defense of Trump, well, since the last one (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo Opinion)
[...] even the best articulation of the “Oh, what’s a little quid pro quo?" sounds daft. The Post reports, “Inside the lunch, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who ran against Trump in 2016, said a quid pro quo is not illegal unless there is ‘corrupt intent’ and echoed [Sen. John Neely] Kennedy’s argument that such conditions are a tool of foreign policy.”

There is a little problem: This is the textbook definition of corrupt intent. Trump used military aid as a lever for his own political purposes, not the country’s national security, for reelection assistance. It is bad enough that Trump does not understand the difference between national interests and his own interests; watching the Republican Party obliterate that line essentially makes it the pro-corruption party.
Republicans say that Trump’s quid pro quos were normal. Here’s why they’re wrong. (WaPo)
Political scientist Paul Poast explained that leaders commonly deal in some foreign policy behaviors we might call quid pro quos, such as side payments or issue linkages, i.e., trading policy concessions or linking progress on one issue to another.

But Trump asking a foreign leader for help investigating a political rival crossed the line into using secret government communications and relations for personal gain. [...] Political history makes it clear that the claims that Republicans are now making are factually incorrect. The kind of quid pro quo that Trump apparently requested is not the kind of quid pro quo that is typical of previous presidential administrations, because it had nothing to do with American national interests but rather the president’s personal gain. Furthermore, the channels through which it was offered were highly irregular, and plausibly structured so as to circumvent the ordinary mechanisms of foreign policy decision making.
posted by katra at 9:13 AM on November 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


Trump getting booed at public sporting events will now be used as a distraction tactic

That may be true but it will a) seriously degrade his own morale to be boo'd and b)make it more difficult for the Cheeto to riff on how some group loves him. Not because he's adverse to lying but because he'll remember and so it won't flow. The Cheeto ain't going to say squat about his world series appearance and you can bet baseball would have been his go to topic for weeks if his reception had even been neutral.
posted by Mitheral at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


Martha McSally was talking with reporters yesterday and was asked a question about the impeachment inquiry. She ended the Q&A session right there and left.

They're nervous. This isn't going to kick Trump out but vulnerable GOPers are scared of being dragged down.
posted by azpenguin at 9:21 AM on November 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


So now we're parsing out different varieties of quid pro quo? This would all be a lot simpler if everyone stopped saying "quid pro quo" and instead said "bribery." One's an fancy Latin phrase that sounds like Trump's just driving a hard bargain, the other is a common English word that foregrounds the central point that his demands were illegitimate and for personal gain.
posted by skymt at 9:23 AM on November 3, 2019 [18 favorites]


Or "extortion".
posted by bink at 9:26 AM on November 3, 2019 [24 favorites]


It is bad enough that Trump does not understand the difference between national interests and his own interests; watching the Republican Party obliterate that line essentially makes it the pro-corruption party.

But for Republicans, Trump's interest in getting re-elected is the national interest. There is no difference.

L'état, C'est Moi
posted by JackFlash at 9:38 AM on November 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Top Democrats vow to release details from closed-door impeachment probe (Politico)
“Starting this week, we are going to release these transcripts for people to see and read for themselves,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We will get to the bottom of this, and then we’ll be able to make a determination at that time whether or not something happened that was treasonous.”

Clyburn (D-S.C.) added that the House would begin holding televised hearings in the next two weeks, signaling that Democratic investigators have secured enough evidence against Trump to proceed with a public rollout — even with the fate of certain witnesses’ testimony this week still uncertain.

[...] “This week we'll have the last of the witnesses come in. Then it will be released, the transcripts will be released. Everything is transparent,” Engel said. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Intelligence panel, said she expected all of the transcripts to be released within the next five days. "They're going to be very telling to the American people," Speier said on CBS' "Face the Nation. "There is no question now whether there was a quid pro quo, and now the question the Republicans are trying to throw out is, 'Well, was there corrupt intent?'"

[...] Republicans, meanwhile, struggled to defend Trump on the substance of the allegations — whether there was a “quid-pro-quo” holding up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said Trump’s call “was not talking about the 2020 election or political opponents,” though the administration's partial call record specifically shows that Trump brought up Biden’s son.
Rep. Speier: Transcripts will ‘probably’ be released in next 5 days (Politico)
posted by katra at 10:00 AM on November 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Whistleblower offers Republicans testimony as Trump seeks to unmask (Reuters)
The U.S. official whose whistleblower complaint led to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump offered to answer questions directly to Republicans on the intelligence committee leading the inquiry, one of his lawyers said on Sunday. Mark Zaid said the action was taken to counter Republican efforts, led by Trump, to unmask the whistleblower, a member of the U.S. intelligence community whose identity has not been released.

News of the offer came as Trump on Sunday called on the whistleblower to come forward, in a stark departure from norms in such cases. Republicans have “sought to expose our client’s identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family,” Zaid wrote on Twitter. [...]

The whistleblower initially offered to answer questions in writing if submitted by the House Intelligence Committee as a whole. Zaid said the new offer, made on Saturday to top intelligence panel Republican Devin Nunes, reflected the client’s desire to have the complaint handled in a nonpartisan way. Longstanding Intelligence Committee policy has been to protect whistleblowers’ anonymity, Zaid said.
posted by katra at 10:25 AM on November 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Vindman’s Twin May Testify About Call Memo And Classified Server (TPM)
Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an NSC lawyer specializing in ethics, may be asked to testify in the wake of his twin brother’s, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s, bombshell hearing this week.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Yevgeny Vindman witnessed the decision to move the call memo of President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to the secure server. [...] House committees have contacted Yevgeny Vindman’s lawyer, but no decision has yet been made.
posted by katra at 10:38 AM on November 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


The thing is, this kind of quid pro quo — where a US President is pressuring a foreign power to do something illegal in order to help him win an election — actually HAS been done before.

Reagan, then candidate, almost certainly pushed Iran to keep holding Americans hostage until after his inauguration to deny President Carter a victory that could have affected the Presidential election. Iran inexplicably shut down talks with the Carter Admin less than a week after a meeting occurred between Iranian representatives and the Reagan campaign. Then the hostages were released only minutes after Reagan was inaugurated.

In exchange, Reagan agreed to sell Iran arms, violating the illegal embargo on arms sales. In so doing, Reagan committed a clear act of treason.

How do the Republicans view this? Reagan is now one of their patron saints, and Marine Colonel North — who subsequently illegally used the proceeds from the sale to back the Nicaraguan Contras — is today considered one of their heroes.

Fifteen people were indicted, 11 convicted, and all were pardoned by Bush the Elder, who probably was a co-conspirator.

So, for the morally bankrupt Republicans, the kind of highly illegal, election-manipulating, quid pro quo that Trump engaged in with Ukraine is very much par for the course for their side.
posted by darkstar at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2019 [77 favorites]


Trump getting booed at public sporting events will now be used as a distraction tactic

I favorited this, but I do think it's pretty significant that the "events" were the World Series and a very prominent UFC match.
posted by rhizome at 10:49 AM on November 3, 2019


So, for the morally bankrupt Republicans, the kind of highly illegal, election-manipulating, quid pro quo that Trump engaged in with Ukraine is very much par for the course for their side.
darkstar, that's a very good point.
But maybe this time, where everyone is saying and doing the quiet parts out loud, will make a change
posted by mumimor at 10:50 AM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Lawyer: Whistleblower willing to take written questions (AP)
The surprise offer, made to Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, would allow Republicans to ask questions of the whistleblower, who spurred the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, without having to go through the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that the whistleblower would answer questions directly from Republican members “in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury,” part of a bid to stem efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to unmask the person’s identity. Only queries seeking the person’s identity won’t be answered, he said. “Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role,” Zaid tweeted. “So we have offered to @DevinNunes.”

“We will ensure timely answers,” he said. [...] “Let me be absolutely clear: Our willingness to cooperate has not changed,” tweeted Andrew P. Bakaj, another attorney representing the whistleblower. “What we object to and find offensive, however, is the effort to uncover the identity of the whistleblower.”

Bakaj wrote on Saturday that “their fixation on exposing the whistleblower’s identity is simply because they’re at a loss as to how to address the investigations the underlying disclosure prompted.”
posted by katra at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2019 [3 favorites]




I favorited this, but I do think it's pretty significant that the "events" were the World Series and a very prominent UFC match.
It's been happening for a while...
posted by bink at 11:01 AM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Re: the booing or not booing

On Halloween somebody on my town's FB page put a picture of jack-o-lanterns spelling "Impeach" and people just went wild with fighting.

The thing had me seriously wondering how much I am in my bubble. Somebody posted a meme about Trump winning the election in 2020 because Democrats wore vagina hats to protest. And I just do a puzzled dog head tilt at that because first of all, they weren't vaginas, yes, there was a vagina connection but only because of some word play and also do none of you have daughters? Do you not care about the whole grabbing by the pussy thing? Okay? No? Is anything offensive to you? Like, no? You really want to die on the vagina hat hill?

It's just a small thing, but it's just like, these are people who either can't see a color I can or can see a color I can't.

But mostly I was just taken aback by how gleeful people were in anticipating his reelection. It's just, I don't understand any part of that. It's like somebody celebrating the latest in tasty shit sandwiches. It's like, don't eat that?

I made an idle comment to my shrink about how we anticipating fleeing if the worst happened and my shrink, an almost ninety-year-old Jewish man, went to town on the idea, talking for a good I don't know how long about how he was a renegade Jew and the history of his people fleeing made him angry and how he was going to stay and fight.

And I was like, 'We decided we'd have to stay because fleeing with three cats is impractical' and then it was a horrible little moment because clearly we're both thinking about what happens if he's re-elected and we're both Having Issues over it.

Meanwhile others are like: YEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH and I wish I understood
posted by angrycat at 11:05 AM on November 3, 2019 [35 favorites]


I think it involves seeing the color white as a special color.
posted by benzenedream at 11:08 AM on November 3, 2019 [33 favorites]


I mentioned over in the Syria thread that I was at an event about the situation there on Thursday. One of the speakers compared our situation now to that of the thirties, which was very reasonable in the context. And it is just incredible how similar our times are to theirs. I know plenty of mefites have already pointed at it, but man...

The first thing I thought about was how long it took for the world to recover, and how terrible things they had to go through. If you say the beginning was the crash of -29, the beginning of the end wasn't before -45. 16 years. And then some. Maybe our beginning was the crash of 08 and WW3 is happening in the Middle East. I don't know, there are many interpretations of history, and it never repeats itself exactly.

The second thing I thought about was how the WW2 has impacted three generations, for better and worse. What we do now will effect the policies and private lives of our grandchildren, because that is how trauma works. I know a dairy farmer in Idaho isn't traumatized by the genocide in Syria, but the effects on people he doesn't know at all will shape the world. Just like the Holocaust shaped the world.

I want to hug everyone, but I can't, and I feel helpless. One thing I feel would help is an American president who at the very least acknowledges the realities of our present condition. I'm not hoping for more.
posted by mumimor at 11:49 AM on November 3, 2019 [13 favorites]


It's very interesting to see Clyburn using the word "treasonous." Although I and most of us here of course agree, I hope that's a good move with the larger public.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:55 AM on November 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mulvaney allies to lead stonewall against Democrats’ impeachment inquiry (Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Erica Werner; WaPo)
Budget chief and other top aides will attempt to create firewall after other senior officials gave testimony that questioned Trump’s motivations. [...]

The anticipated defiance of impeachment investigators comes as Trump has grown enraged that so many of “his employees,” as he refers to them, are going to Capitol Hill and testifying, a person who regularly talks with him said. The president has asked for copies of witness statements so he can decide how to criticize them, complained that his lawyers are not doing enough to stop people from talking, and even encouraged members of Congress to question the credibility of people working in his own administration, current and former officials said.

“He is the war room,” said Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:28 PM on November 3, 2019 [6 favorites]




... can he do that?!
posted by affectionateborg at 1:33 PM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Of course he can do that, he's the president*. If he wants, he could condition the signing of any budget bill on the dropping of the impeachment inquiry. Considering how well his hissy-fit shutdown worked last time, it might not be the best of political ideas. It's also arguably yet another impeachable offense, as it would be obstructing the function of a co-equal branch of government for his own political gain.

But yes, he can. He remains, unfortunately, physically able to veto bills.
posted by mrgoat at 1:45 PM on November 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Not in the general sense -- presidents can't just shut the government down on their sayso. This would violate a few laws.

In this instance, the current funding for the US government runs out towards the end of the month, so he can trigger another government shutdown like we've seen a few times by not coming to an agreement about the next funding bill, or by vetoing whatever comes his way from Congress. That's what the punditsphere is talking about here.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:46 PM on November 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


It didn't go well for him last time. He blinked, he didn't get his stupid wall funding, and most people seemed to see it as a pointless stunt that most hurt the people who didn't get their paychecks for weeks. I don't want to see people suffer again, but if he's dumb enough to force another shutdown (Ron Howard narrator voice: He is), I think even more people will see it as even more pointless, and definitely chalk it up to his covering up his own guilt.
posted by Rykey at 1:55 PM on November 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


the current funding for the US government runs out towards the end of the month, so he can trigger another government shutdown like we've seen a few times by not coming to an agreement about the next funding bill, or by vetoing whatever comes his way from Congress. That's what the punditsphere is talking about here.

The elephant in the room being the question of sending Trump a veto-proof budget.
posted by rhizome at 2:00 PM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Inside the Republican Plan to Deep-Six the Trump Impeachment Hearings (Sam Brodey, Daily Beast)
Trump allies plan to call for witnesses who could bolster their narrative and hammer away at the anonymous whistleblower whose account launched the inquiry in the first place. [...]

[...] They’re also holding out the possibility of more tactics to disrupt impeachment—like last week’s stunt to shut down the inquiry’s secure hearing room. Lawmakers are also likely to release a report when the probe is concluded to counter the report the Democratic majority will release to form the basis for impeachment.

That game plan—particularly its emphasis on outing the whistleblower—is already getting some pushback. On Sunday, Mark Zaid, the lawyer representing the whistleblower, wrote on Twitter that they had offered Republican lawmakers a “direct opportunity to ask written questions of the whistleblower” without compromising his or her identity. Zaid added that the GOP has “sought to expose our client’s identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:29 PM on November 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Paul Krugman and David Leonhardt are two of the...most correct commentators...
We know it, and they know it. Why won't they find a better forum? Worth asking.

Extortion, bribery, or quid pro quo? Imho, the messaging needs to change to 'bribery' because it's explicit in the Constitution and *anyone* - with the least political savvy or experience - already knows what it means.

And after careful thought, another message that really needs to be echoed everywhere is: the president is not in charge of running the country - they are in charge of running the executive branch within the laws passed by Congress (elementary civics, but I say keep it in the conversation). I don't care which party is in charge, this unitary-executive/monarchy bullshit gotta get shit-canned.

Finally...treason. It's getting tossed around lighty by everyone including itmfa. But as someone in a lost-to-me comment noted - if the aumf is a stand-in for declaration of war for the purpose of 'slaughtering young people for profit', it can sure do that for the purpose of 'fuck this criminal bastard'.

Uh...what do pols say? My thinking has evolved. Let's get Flynn and Manafort and Papadopoulos for treason. Taint itmfa by association.

Wow. /rant
posted by j_curiouser at 2:33 PM on November 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


Trump's impeachment inbox (Politico)
President Trump doesn’t think House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry should get any media coverage.

Meanwhile, he’s ravenously consuming news about the subject — primarily through a friendly lens. From the Oval Office to the White House residence to Air Force One, he’s closely tracking how Republican members of Congress are digesting the latest revelations on his handling of Ukraine, and monitoring their statements for any sign of hesitation or perceived disloyalty.

“We’re getting fucking killed,” Trump often gripes — a complaint about media coverage that is escalating in volume and frequency amid the impeachment probe, according to a Republican close to the White House. “He does make that comment literally every day.” [...]

But the president is also frustrated that more of his allies aren’t defending him and his governing record every day on TV. “Why aren’t there more surrogates talking about the achievements that have been taking place?” he has told people, according to a Republican who has discussed the matter with him. “He feels that maybe only he can do it himself, or gets frustrated at previous staff or previous surrogates at not being out there enough.”
posted by katra at 3:10 PM on November 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


yes, yes trump. fight with the republicans about the impeachment.

excellent.
posted by ryanrs at 3:44 PM on November 3, 2019 [23 favorites]


How Trump Will Try to Derail Impeachment (David Cay Johnston, DCReport)
He sees a different pattern to Trump's behaviors, consistent with past behaviors.
In fighting impeachment and conviction Trump will rely on the Roy Cohn playbook.

The notorious lawyer, whom Trump has said he regarded as a second father, taught that when law enforcement and other government officials suggest anything is amiss, you turn the tables and attack their integrity and legitimacy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:55 PM on November 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


mrburns.gif
posted by j_curiouser at 4:00 PM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


In exchange, Reagan agreed to sell Iran arms, violating the illegal embargo on arms sales. In so doing, Reagan committed a clear act of treason.

How do the Republicans view this? Reagan is now one of their patron saints, and Marine Colonel North — who subsequently illegally used the proceeds from the sale to back the Nicaraguan Contras — is today considered one of their heroes.


You skipped the part about the cocaine smuggling that has gotten so normalized that there have been something like 5 major motion pictures about it.
posted by srboisvert at 4:02 PM on November 3, 2019 [29 favorites]


you turn the tables and attack their integrity and legitimacy

This is perhaps the most galling thing about this whole mess, in a dumpster fire fueled by gall.

The people who are in the (ethical) right having their integrity attacked by the hyper hypocritical.

And the media (even non-US media, although less bad) is just amplifying bad faith arguments by quoting these bad actors.

An older much more conservative and bro-dude toxic masculinity coworker who isn't known for his thoughtfulness or insight (Canadian) even mentioned to me recently that, sure all politicians lie, but what's going on in the US has been cranked up to 13 and is just unbelievable how people "let them get away with it." This is a senior management guy, so maybe the bottom line - the economy - might actually matter. But that's why the Repubs make laws to make sure that this class of persons aren't going to be hurting too much personally, if they can pass the hurt on to their workers.

This is the fruit of a sabotaged public primary and secondary education program starting after desegregation (allowing obvious disinfo like Fox "News" to thrive and poison discourse with the "we (biasedly) report, you decide" "both sides" bullshit, not to mention de-facto segregation post-desegregation and it's knock-on effects).

Public education should be Federally funded.

But it probably wouldn't matter anyway since the oligarchists aspiring for complete control would find another underhanded way to keep enough people stressed out enough day-to-day to even think about, much less engage in, politics.
posted by porpoise at 5:18 PM on November 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


Democrats don’t need to litigate the details of every false statement. The more effective response may instead be a version of Ronald Reagan’s knowing line: There he goes again. [...] And Democrats will need to avoid the long-winded, disorganized speechifying that characterize most congressional hearings.

So, basically the OK Boomer strategy.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:39 PM on November 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


So, for the morally bankrupt Republicans, the kind of highly illegal, election-manipulating, quid pro quo that Trump engaged in with Ukraine is very much par for the course for their side.

See also Nixon, Kissinger, and the peace talks in Vietnam. It is a family tradition!
posted by Meatbomb at 5:46 PM on November 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


darkstar How do the Republicans view this? Reagan is now one of their patron saints, and Marine Colonel North — who subsequently illegally used the proceeds from the sale to back the Nicaraguan Contras — is today considered one of their heroes.

Which is why I expect the Republicans, in 20 years, will be swearing fealty to the ghost of Trump just as today they swear to the ghost of Reagan.

There's a comparison to be drawn here with Hollywood rushing to the defense of, and if defense is impossible to the later "rehabilitation" of, rapists. Look at Woody Allen, look at Roman Polanski, and look at how Harvey Weinstein is, like Woody Allen, is skipping the brief exile and going straight on continuing to being a big part of Hollywood without even a blip in his career or influence.

The crimes of Trump, like the crimes of Reagan, will be normalized and turned into points of pride. He did what he had to, it was illegal but it was the right thing to do, he had to protect America even if the law was in the way, it was bold manly and macho for him to break the law for a good cause! Etc.

If you associate with Republicans you'll have already heard that starting. Crooked Hillary would have wrecked America, so **OF COURSE** Trump had no choice but to take any help he could get. Trump was just trying to fight corruption in Ukraine, Obama did the same thing so it's all just the angry Democrats trying to undo the 2016 election.

A great many Republicans see Nixon's biggest failure as stepping down instead of trying to normalize his crimes as Reagan did and Trump is trying to. No Republican will concede that Reagan did anything wrong at all, at the most they will (very reluctantly) concede that Reagan may have technically broken some bad and foolish laws but they'll argue that the laws were bad and circumventing them was the path of righteousness. That's the approach they'll try with Trump. The only question is if they can get away with it.

I'm increasingly convinced the Democrats will actually impeach Trump. I'm also increasingly worried that the Democrats won't be able to control the message well enough to get a PR boost out of it. The way they're not calling out the Republicans for trying to get the whistleblower assassinated is an indicator that they still aren't really trying to play hardball.
posted by sotonohito at 5:47 PM on November 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


The most powerful players in Trump’s impeachment inquiry
We plotted the Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisan figures in the headlines and shadows to show who matters in the impeachment inquiry.

With a steady stream of new witnesses and allegations, some are rising, while others are already sliding from view. We explain why some people on TV don’t actually have that much power, while lesser known people may have considerable authority.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:19 PM on November 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Why is Trump's view of the world so different to everyone else's? His language, diplomatic skills and understanding of issues are so juvenile.

He grew up in a world where everything was provided for him and the only explanation was a very simplistic view of business.

And he applies that view to everything. The presidency doesn’t represent stewardship of the USA to him. It means America is his business and it’s supposed to profit him.

The easiest way to increase profit is cutting cost. Alliances and agreements, for instance, are costs. Allies should be paying for protection instead of entering into defence agreements.

Prosperity for the people is nothing but cost. Education, healthcare, social reform. It’s all cost for no profit.

He treats power the same way as he treats money. You’re supposed to garner more of it. That’s why he admires dictators and tyrants who have no limits placed on their power. That’s the goal. And he resents the people, the parties and the laws that limit his power.

His statecraft is no different. Right from the start he tried to trade individually with European nations because that’s a power exchange that favours him. He hates the EU because bloc trading does not favour him. He resolves trade disputes with punitive measures. Since the cost of trade sanctions is born by others, he sees it as a pure power move. Let’s see who starves first, China or America but it won’t be Trump.
posted by growabrain at 7:15 PM on November 3, 2019 [32 favorites]


I really like 'ok boomer' for its concise correctness and casual dismissal of all the rationalizations that fucked the economy and the planet.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:42 PM on November 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


What Are The Numbers Telling Us? (Josh Marshall, TPM)
Initial polls in the wake of the Democrats initiating an impeachment inquiry mainly focused on the inquiry itself. Or, again, that was the main focus of press attention. They are now focusing more and more on the core question of removal from office. Not surprisingly, the decision to remove a President from office is a significant steeper hill for most voters than merely investigating the grounds for doing so.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:12 PM on November 3, 2019


Something named "Jesse Wegman" actually put his name on this pile of shit in the NYT Opinion section:

Nancy Pelosi Should Not Be President — The law of presidential succession is broken, and it ought to be fixed immediately.

@tomscocca: Every word of this is ridiculous but the most ridiculous word of them all is probably "ought"

If you are concerned about the conflict of interest of the Speaker running impeachment while being third in line for president, the obvious good-government reform is to change the rules in the middle of an active impeachment inquiry, bingo, no conflicts

Nothing says "legitimacy" like opening up an extraconstitutional struggle over who would become the next president while an impeachment inquiry is underway. Just an ethical, political, AND practical masterstroke from @nytopinion

posted by tonycpsu at 9:59 PM on November 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


Journalist Kurt Eichenwald published a scary twitter thread, which starts with
For those who don’t understand the fragility of American democracy in the hands of an unscrupulous autocrat - a scenario never imagined possible by the Founders under our Constitution - the cancellation of elections is quite simple and arguably legal. Which is why I fear for 2020. It all comes down to presidential emergency powers. They are poorly defined in the Constitution and under law. They are enormous and Trump clearly has been told that - remember how trump keeps saying he can do *anything* under the Constitution...
posted by growabrain at 1:17 AM on November 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi Should Not Be President — The law of presidential succession is broken, and it ought to be fixed immediately.
That's just the Times trolling its readers. No one in the world fears a President Pelosi. Either they like the fantasy, knowing well it will never happen, or they are calculating when they have to ask Pence to step down and let Romney have the job. (Which is: when the internal polling consistently shows the Republicans losing their Senate majority or Mitch McConnell loosing his seat).

the cancellation of elections is quite simple and arguably legal.
Which is why it won't work for Trump, who neither does simple or legal
posted by mumimor at 1:44 AM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Journalist Kurt Eichenwald published a scary twitter thread, which starts with "For those who don’t understand the fragility of American democracy in the hands of an unscrupulous autocrat"

Here it is.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:48 AM on November 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


What we are seeing now from the whistleblower and at the hearings is that career officials are beginning to say stop to the criminality. Trump cannot cancel elections or imprison the opposition without wide-spread assistance from local authorities. Ain't gonna happen. Or, maybe he can shut down elections in South Carolina, but not in California. How would that help him?

Another thing: there's this paradox that most of the people who benefit from Trump's regime live in blue or swing states, just like Trump himself. At some point the middle class people who voted for him will realize that they have been had. I'm thinking it will be when the next recession comes, and I'm thinking that will be in about 7 months. Why do I think that? Well, because the construction industry is overheated. Because of the low interests, trade-wars and general disruption, the only quasi-solid place to place money is in real estate, just like Trump likes it. But there is a limit to that, always. Happily, it doesn't look like poor people will be hit as directly this time round (I hope), but when real-estate and construction crash, the economy crashes. Always.
posted by mumimor at 2:06 AM on November 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


When the economy crashes, they will blame the non-whites. This is the advantage Trump has; the misery his actions in trashing the economy and wrecking international relations create only make him stronger at home.
posted by Scattercat at 3:55 AM on November 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Allies should be paying for protection instead of entering into defence agreements.

Agreements between countries are agreements between peers, and Trump cannot have peers. Same thing with not recognizing the co-equal branches of government.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:25 AM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Not surprisingly, the decision to remove a President from office is a significant steeper hill for most voters than merely investigating the grounds for doing so.

Polls showed that support for an impeachment inquiry went up after the inquiry actually started. Support for removal will likely rise as evidence is presented publicly and people start paying more attention because it's on TV.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


[A few deleted; bad source. Also, might be better as a post on it's own if you find reputable reports? Not sure the Kushner thing is related to current impeachment inquiry, but if so maybe make that clear.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:38 AM on November 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Democrats pivot from private inquiry of Trump to public case for impeachment (Mike DeBonis, WaPo)
As House Democrats embark on a new stage of their impeachment investigation of President Trump, they are pivoting from fact-finding to a campaign of persuasion — privately sketching out how they plan to use a series of blockbuster hearings with these witnesses to make the public case for Trump’s removal from office.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:22 AM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Democrats Have to Fight Harder to Win Because the Liberal Media Doesn'Tt Like Democrats
A despotic, ignorant president trashes American laws and norms every day, and what does the editorial page of America's Newspaper of Record believe is the most vital issue to highlight on a Monday morning? The extremely remote possibility that the Speaker of the House might become president, as a result of an impeachment process that's quite likely to end with not a single Republican in the Senate voting to convict, at a time when no attention whatsoever has been devoted in Congress to the possibility of impeaching the vice president. [...]

Why is this running in the paper every right-winger believes is the most important liberal media outlet? Because the liberal media has internalized the hatred of Democrats it has absorbed from right-wingers as they've worked the refs for the past forty years.

Unsurprisingly, this editorial is accompanied by a photo of Nancy Pelosi's shoes -- a reminder that if its preposterous scenario ever were to come to pass, the presidency would fall into the clutches of -- omigod -- a pantsuit-wearing older woman with coastal values! What will retired white men in blue-collar diners think?

How would this issue be discussed if the parties were reversed? If a Republican House were impeaching President Hillary Clinton and there was a belief that Vice President Tim Kaine was next? I'll grant that the Times might take the same position on succession, as might some Democratic politicians. But the discussion would be dominated by right-wing voices who would insist that critics of the line of succession were seeking to subvert hallowed traditions, all in an effort to deprive Kevin McCarthy of what should be soon be rightfully his, as our patriotic ancestors intended. That's because right-wingers know how to take their own side in an argument.

posted by tonycpsu at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2019 [37 favorites]


Blackout Brett to the courtesy phone, please...

NYT: Appeals Court Rules President Must Turn Over 8 Years of Tax Returns
A federal appeals panel said on Monday that President Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, a setback for the president’s attempt to keep his financial records private. … the case appears headed to the United States Supreme Court.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:36 AM on November 4, 2019 [27 favorites]


The whole President Pelosi thing is a huge red herring anyway. If Trump is removed from office Pence will become President. It's not as if impeaching and removing Trump is just going to hand the keys to the Oval Office over to Pelosi.
posted by sotonohito at 8:53 AM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


How would this issue be discussed if the parties were reversed?

Well, we know exactly. In 1998 during the Clinton impeachment, Republicans first thought next in line should be Newt Gingrich. But he had to resign because of 84 ethics violations and tax fraud.

So then they thought Bob Livingston should be next in line. But then it was discovered that even as he was excoriating Bill Clinton for his behavior he was participating in multiple extra-marital affairs of his own.

So Republicans thought and thought about it some more and finally settled on their next in line for the presidency to be serial child molester Dennis Hastert.

And that is where they left it for the next eight years until Nancy Pelosi took over. And now they are upset.
posted by JackFlash at 8:59 AM on November 4, 2019 [61 favorites]


Part of Trump’s success has been because of his brazenness. Aside from the asshole racist misogynists who are visibly gratified by his open depravity, many people who aren’t attuned to politics assume that because something is done and the president is saying he’s doing it, it must be legal.

This is how he beat the Mueller Report — he admitted to trying to get dirt from the Russians a year ahead of the final report. He used that time to normalize his actions in the eyes of the public, so when the final report didn’t have any bombshell new allegations, the nation shrugged its shoulders and said, “And?”

The Democrats need to show how Trump is covering up what he did. How he went to extreme lengths to keep this out of normal government channels. How he lied to Congress last summer about why the funds weren’t released. About how he continues to withhold documents and testimony.

The GOP is trying to argue that this is normal diplomacy done in an irregular manner. It is not. It is illegal behavior by a president who doesn’t care about legality and is trying to avoid accountability because he is unable to distinguish his needs from those of the office.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:00 AM on November 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


I... don’t know that it’s that terrible of an idea to offer to change the Presidential Succession Act. We all know President Pelosi is not going to happen. But the idea is out there, and has currency on the right, that Democrats are only interested in impeaching Trump (plus or minus Pence) in order to steal the presidency. It would cost nothing for Pelosi to publicly rule herself out of the line of succession. All it would do is emphasize how serious the charges against the current White House are. It creates a narrative that impeachment and removal is a thing that is actually happening.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:03 AM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Well, we know exactly. In 1998 during the Clinton impeachment, Republicans first thought next in line should be Newt Gingrich. But he had to resign because of 84 ethics violations and tax fraud."

They thought the VP should certainly resign because the president perjured himself?
posted by Selena777 at 9:04 AM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


house releases yovanovitch, mckinley transcripts. tpm.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:14 AM on November 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


On the other hand, incumbent Republican Senators could find it easier to fundraise against a President Pelosi than with a President Trump or President Pence.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:16 AM on November 4, 2019


I don't think there'll be a President Pence. It's not possible to have impeachment hearings based on the Ukraine affair without Pence being incriminated too. But the House won't start new impeachment hearings any closer to the election and the Republicans will force him to step down to make way for someone who hasn't been involved at all. If that is possible.
posted by mumimor at 9:23 AM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


> I... don’t know that it’s that terrible of an idea to offer to change the Presidential Succession Act. We all know President Pelosi is not going to happen. But the idea is out there, and has currency on the right, that Democrats are only interested in impeaching Trump (plus or minus Pence) in order to steal the presidency.

There is a steep cost associated with allowing something so silly to be admitted into evidence, even if the intent is to refute it. Dignifying this conspiracy theory with a formal response would do immense damage to the impeachment effort, and reward Republican ratfuckers for their bad behavior. Fuuuuuck that.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:23 AM on November 4, 2019 [34 favorites]


Trump’s awful new ‘transcript’ tweets demonstrate how his propaganda works
President Trump is now openly calling on his Republican allies to produce doctored transcripts of witness testimony that will exonerate him.
Trump did not put it quite that directly, of course. But given all the known facts — and given everything we’ve seen from Trump over the past few years — there is simply no other way to read them.
It’s hard to imagine that even Trump’s GOP allies would attempt something so spectacularly absurd, and if they did, it’s even harder to imagine it would be successful.
But this episode nonetheless provides an occasion to deconstruct one of the most insidious lines of propaganda coming from Trump’s Republican loyalists right now — and, more broadly, to look at how this kind of bad-faith deception is supposed to function.
posted by mumimor at 9:50 AM on November 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


What Rights Does Trump Have In the Impeachment Process? (Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, FiveThirtyEight)

The Constitution guarantees no rights at all. Congress has to explicitly grant rights to the subject of an impeachment process. In virtually all cases, including Trump's, it has done so. (Said rights are almost always less than what the subject wanted).
It’s easy to see a presidential impeachment as something akin to a criminal prosecution — evidence is marshaled, a trial is held, and the president’s fate hangs in the balance. But impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. As a result, it has entirely different rules that make certain protections that are reserved for criminal defendants — like due process — irrelevant. “As a matter of law, a president has essentially no claim to any kind of participation in the impeachment process,” said Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri and the author of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:01 AM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


The fact remains that the GOP can't defend Trump on its merits, otherwise, they'd be doing it. We'd hear leaks from the closed door committee meetings, witnesses stepping up, etc. It's bad no matter how they look at it. All they can do is give their base some way to rationalize supporting not impeaching and removing, and run out the clock.

The first line of defense is attacking the process. Describe meetings as "closed door" or that Trump is being denied "due process." Trump won the presidency on a technicality; using that to stay in office seems On Brand.

The line of succession is the second line of defense. Call out that Pelosi is third in line, and #2 was mentioned in some of the phone calls (i.e. "They'll go for Pence next"). It plays into the "reverse an election" narrative, and creates a juicy, wonky thing to write what-if editorials about. Spin on that for a few months, until they are in range to say Let the Voters Decide(TM).

When someone upthread floated having Pelosi take her name out of contention, I thought it was a BS idea. Pence has been discussed as guilty as well, but he's not exactly at the top of the list of co-conspirators, and everyone can turn a blind eye to what could be spun as all Trump's idea. However, if she took her name out of the running (with the proviso that the President pro Tempore of the Senate not pass it on to an appointee), it would disarm that pretty quick.

I don't think there'll be a President Pence. It's not possible to have impeachment hearings based on the Ukraine affair without Pence being incriminated too. But the House won't start new impeachment hearings any closer to the election and the Republicans will force him to step down to make way for someone who hasn't been involved at all. If that is possible.

At some point, it may be such that public opinion and the shear nature of Trump's crimes are such that the senate can't not remove him. But it would be hard to accept handing the White House to Pelosi. So, it may be the deal they make: Trump needs removing, but he's the bad apple. We keep Pence, then, in 2020, we Let the Voters Decide(TM).
posted by MrGuilt at 10:02 AM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


the discussion would be dominated by right-wing voices who would insist that critics of the line of succession were seeking to subvert hallowed traditions, all in an effort to deprive Kevin McCarthy of what should be soon be rightfully his, as our patriotic ancestors intended. That's because right-wingers know how to take their own side in an argument.

More precisely, they do not know how to do anything else. Their victory and/or status is the principle. There isn't any other principle or law in the world that stacks up against that. They want to win, the ends justifies the means, and if you look closely, you can see that it isn't even a consideration much of the time -- many clearly consider time spent examining principle and working through the implications of it to some kind of personal code beyond victory as time wasted.

Meanwhile, thoughtful liberals are still trying to work out a system that's fair for everybody, in discourse, in business, in government, where you can win if your argument is thoughtful, or you contribute in your work, or you can persuade a majority.

That's the world I want too, but it has to start with the recognition that the Republican party is utterly amoral in its politics and considers that vision anathema, and journalists who can't see and tell that story are not only not doing their jobs, they're helpless against becoming tools for advancing the Republican vision, which boils down to status for themselves and theirs over anyone else.
posted by wildblueyonder at 10:08 AM on November 4, 2019 [27 favorites]


> However, if she took her name out of the running (with the proviso that the President pro Tempore of the Senate not pass it on to an appointee), it would disarm that pretty quick.

Again: Republicans are never disarmed by their conspiracy theories being proven false, because the facts don't matter to them, their audience, or the media. Eleven hours of Hillary Clinton delivering the most locked-in, hyper-competent Capitol Hill testimony ever seen hardly made a dent in the GOP's relentless Benghazi ratfucking. President Obama Releasing any number of official documents proving he was born in the U.S. did almost nothing to undermine the birther nonsense. Hell, Brett Kavanaugh wouldn't be a Supreme Court justice today were it not for his pursuit of the crackpot Vince Foster bullshit.

The only thing they understand is power. The only way to disarm them is to take their power away from them.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2019 [67 favorites]




I need a refresher for this scandal: the Trump admin, going all the way back to Manafort, believes there are emails incriminating Joe Biden and his son in regard to “corruption”? And the main crux of the scandal is that Trump asked the Ukrainian president to dig up the dirt or else aid would be withheld, correct? But the “corruption” angle is a conspiracy theory, there’s no evidence of corruption. So do these guys actually believe the conspiracy theory, or were they trying to get Ukraine/Russia to MANUFACTURE evidence?
posted by gucci mane at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


So do these guys actually believe the conspiracy theory, or were they trying to get Ukraine/Russia to MANUFACTURE evidence?

Those are not mutually exclusive options. They can believe, and I think some do but probably not many, and still be entirely comfortable with manufactured evidence produced under duress (apparently all of them).

Also the Trump show has never been terribly unified. There are lots of people and factions with different motivations and beliefs and perhaps not even a unitary goal other than getting Trump and themselves into office/power and to remain in office/power so they can pursue their own agendas.
posted by srboisvert at 12:58 PM on November 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


If your way of knowing is not reality-based it is entirely possible to both believe a conspiracy theory and be fine with manufacturing evidence to prove it.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


It's pretty clear that Manafort doesn't believe it. He was literally paid tens of millions of dollars by Putin to manufacture disinformation propaganda on behalf of Russia. He's the original paid source for much of the conspiracy theories.

And it is useful for Trump and his minions to believe it or else it means his election was a fraud.

And Bill Barr is just a loyal hired gun who also happens to be tied to Opus Dei. Who knows what crazy shit he believes.
posted by JackFlash at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2019 [19 favorites]


I agree with JackFlash. It's unlikely Manafort actually believed the conspiracy theories he was peddling. Remember, he was working with Trump to make himself "whole" to the Russians he was indebted to. Remember, Ukraine believes Manafort partnered with Russia to commit war crimes. Manafort's own daughters believe him responsible for mass slaughter.

I'm not sure what Bill Barr or Giuliani believe. I am somewhat of the opinion that they are capable of believing something and knowing it to be false at the same time. Regardless, both of them would have recognized the political value of stirring the pot. The truth for these two, like with Cheney, exists only in theory until manufactured.

Trump and the rest of them are utter fools, entirely capable of believing any theory that aligns with their own interests. At some point, this needs to stop being a valid defense of their actions. If someone sincerely believes their actions to be legal despite all the world's lawyers telling them it is not, that's on them. If someone refuses to believe in global warming, despite what every climatologist says, that's on them. Trump wants to push for evidence to a conspiracy theory the entire intelligence community says is hoax, that's on him.
posted by xammerboy at 1:58 PM on November 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


The angle I don't see much in the news is that Trump's actions put the entire Ukraine people at risk. I keep seeing people say "I don't think it's that big a deal to ask for dirt on Biden", missing the part of the story where Trump was withholding aid needed to prevent the entire democratic country from being overrun by a brutal dictator.
posted by xammerboy at 2:08 PM on November 4, 2019 [40 favorites]


Reuters, Giuliani associate now willing to comply with Trump impeachment inquiry - lawyer:

"Lev Parnas, an indicted Ukrainian-American businessman who has ties to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is now prepared to comply with requests for records and testimony from congressional impeachment investigators, his lawyer told Reuters on Monday."
[...]
"His apparent decision to now work with the congressional committees represents a change of heart. Parnas rebuffed a request from three House of Representatives committees last month to provide documents and testimony."
posted by jocelmeow at 2:39 PM on November 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


Lev Parnas is still in jail, right? It's quite a motivator.
posted by rhizome at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


The angle I don't see much in the news is that Trump's actions put the entire Ukraine people at risk

The way I understand it, they're already "at risk" and have been for years, and that's what a bunch of the sanctions against Russia are about. It's the water that all of we fish are swimming in.

However, that page showed me something that was not a part of my permanent memory: there was a Russian financial crisis during Obama's second term. This seems germane!
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


(Where can I read more about Manafort’s work with Putin and all that stuff that was just mentioned w/r/t being paid millions by Putin to create disinformation and being responsible for deaths?)
posted by gucci mane at 3:56 PM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


More general than your specific ask and not a read but a listen, but I found this Behind the Bastards podcast "No Matter How Much You Hate Paul Manafort, You Should Hate Him More (And Here’s Why)" particularly enlightening. He is a black coal of evil.
posted by mcstayinskool at 4:00 PM on November 4, 2019 [17 favorites]


Reuters, Giuliani associate now willing to comply with Trump impeachment inquiry - lawyer

The rapid swings between optimism on news like this and dreading that the clock runs out on democracy in less than a year makes it hard to not drink on school nights.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:33 PM on November 4, 2019 [17 favorites]


it may be the deal they make: Trump needs removing, but he's the bad apple. We keep Pence, then, in 2020, we Let the Voters Decide(TM).

If Pence gets to be President there's certainly a risk that he'd continue to make improper appointments and regulatory rollback he'll have a cloud hanging over him and his legislative program will still be stymied by the House. Also, you never know: he may subsequently turn out to be guiltier than he seems, justifying a second impeachment.

In contrast, there's a very good Constitutional argument that Pelosi's position as Speaker does not qualify her for the line of Presidential succession, so she'd be hamstrung by court cases from the outset. The US would avoid the regulatory rollback, and it might have the benefit of better appointments, but the Senate would probably obstruct the appointment of any officer whose appointment requires their consent. The one advantage of President Pelosi, which is not inconsiderable, is that she wouldn't appoint some clerical fascist to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy. None the less, at this point I think it would be better for the Democrats to wait for the 2020 election rather than rely on One Weird Trick that would be politically costly and practically ineffective.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


In contrast, there's a very good Constitutional argument that Pelosi's position as Speaker does not qualify her for the line of Presidential succession

Could someone spell out exactly what this “very good Constitutional argument” is?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:18 PM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


there's a very good Constitutional argument that Pelosi's position as Speaker does not qualify her for the line of Presidential succession

No, the constitutional argument is quite clear that the Speaker is next in line. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution says:

"In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected."

Note "the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly."

And Congress has done so by law, the 1947 Succession Act which clearly states that Speaker of the House is next in line for succession after the president and vice-president. There is no ambiguity about it.

The 25th amendment provides a mechanism for replacing the vice-president, by a majority vote of both houses of congress, but until that time, the Speaker of the House becomes the acting president.
posted by JackFlash at 5:21 PM on November 4, 2019 [17 favorites]


There is literally no scenario in which 2/3 of the Senate will vote to remove Mike Pence for Nancy Pelosi. Plus, it’d take too long, and he’d appoint and probably get a VP confirmed by then.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:21 PM on November 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


there's a very good Constitutional argument that Pelosi's position as Speaker does not qualify her for the line of Presidential succession

The argument is that the 1947 Succession Act is unconstitutional. It depends upon what the meaning of the word "officer" is.

The Constitution's Succession Clause says that only an "Officer" may be designated as a Presidential successor, and some constitutional scholars starting with James Madison say that "the term 'Officer' refers to an 'Officer of the United States,' a term of art that excludes members of Congress." The Ineligibility Clause says that "no Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States."

During a September 2003 joint hearing before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Rules and Administration and Committee on the Judiciary M. Miller Baker said:
The 1947 Act is probably unconstitutional because it appears that the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate are not "Officers" eligible to act as President within the meaning of the Succession Clause. This is because in referring to an "Officer", the Succession Clause, taken in its context in Section 1 of Article II, probably refers to an "Officer of the United States", a term of art under the Constitution, rather than any officer, which would include legislative and state officers referred to in the Constitution (e.g., the reference to state militia officers found in Article I, Section 8). In the very next section of Article II, the President is empowered to "require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments" and to appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, "Officers of the United States". These are the "Officers" to whom the Succession Clause probably refers. This contextual reading is confirmed by Madison's notes from the Constitutional Convention, which reveal that the Convention's Committee of Style, which had no authority to make substantive changes, substituted "Officer" in the Succession Clause in place of "Officer of the United States," probably because the Committee considered the full phrase redundant.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:36 PM on November 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Could someone spell out exactly what this “very good Constitutional argument” is?

As I understand it, the argument is that the Speaker of the House is not an "officer", in the sense required by Article II, Section 1. They're not appointed with "the advice and consent" of the Senate, or indeed by the Executive branch at all.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:47 PM on November 4, 2019


Or yeah, what Kirkaracha just said.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:47 PM on November 4, 2019


...and that is how we get President Ben Carson.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:58 PM on November 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Could someone spell out exactly what this “very good Constitutional argument” is?

Well, all sorts of cranks can make constitutional arguments, but that doesn't make them good.

Cripes, the very first Succession Act of 1792 declared that the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House were the two qualified and designated "officers" to replace the president and vice-president. The law was passed by both houses and signed into law by President George effing Washington himself.

Don't let someone buffalo you with "original intent" bullshit. George Washington, also president of the constitutional convention, was pretty original.
posted by JackFlash at 6:00 PM on November 4, 2019 [39 favorites]


It seems that Pompeo has some explainin' to do.

The transcript released today of Michael McKinley, senior advisor to Pompeo, directly contradicts statements Pompeo made to the press recently.

Pompeo: "From the time that Ambassador Yovanovitch departed Ukraine until the time that (McKinley) came to tell me that he was departing, I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision that was made," Pompeo said of McKinley. "Not once ... did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period."

McKinley testified under oath that he directly brought up the issue of supporting Ambassador Yovanovitch three separate times and specifically said that he told Pompeo that this was one of the reasons he was resigning.

It's pretty clear he is calling Pompeo a liar. Pompeo is trying to distance himself from the Trump dumpster fire, saying he had nothing to do with the quid pro quo, but this testimony is dragging him right back in.
posted by JackFlash at 6:39 PM on November 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


Nahal Toosi (nahaltoosi): P. 117: Yovanovitch was told Pompeo or aide would call “Mr. Hannity on FOX News to say, you know, what is going on? I mean, do you have proof of these kinds of allegations or not? & if you have proof, you know, telI me, and if not, stop. & I understand that that call was made.”


Nahal Toosi (nahaltoosi): Schiff’s reply: “Does that seem extraordinary to you that the Secretary of State or some other high-ranking official would call a talk show host to figure out whether you should be retained as ambassador?”
posted by christopherious at 7:42 PM on November 4, 2019 [29 favorites]


The GOP’s New Impeachment Defense: Yeah, the Call Was Bad, but Not That Bad (Cameron Joseph, Vice)
Democrats used essentially the same strategy with President Clinton, with one key difference. [...]

Clinton, however, made it a lot easier on his party by publicly admitting he was at fault and apologizing for his actions. Trump isn’t making it any easier for Republicans to find that nuance.
Also of note:
Tim Morrison [previously], a member of Trump’s own National Security Council, attempted to square that circle on Thursday. Even as he confirmed a bevy of damaging details about Trump, including the quid pro quo with Ukraine Democrats are investigating the president over, he said he was “not concerned that anything illegal was discussed” on Trump’s infamous call.

That was the claim Republicans decided to push forward. And it may have paid off. Notably, a number of nonpartisan publications led their stories with Morrison’s characterization of the call rather than focus on the fact that he’d confirmed others’ damning testimony.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:10 PM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


So if anything illegal was discussed, he's not concerned about it. Also, "was discussed?" How about "was committed?" Subtle but important difference there.
posted by rhizome at 10:21 PM on November 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


...and that is how we get President Ben Carson.
So... new furniture in the oval office and, instead of a wall, pyramids in Nebraska?
posted by Horkus at 10:21 PM on November 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Seriously, if these professionals are reduced to excuses with holes big enough for me to walk through, they are truly fucked and Kavanaugh just might be their only hope.
posted by rhizome at 10:23 PM on November 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


he said he was “not concerned that anything illegal was discussed” on Trump’s infamous call.

Sadly, I don't see enough pushback along the lines of, "If the call wasn't illegal, why did Trump try to hide it by illegally misclassifying it?"
posted by mikelieman at 2:00 AM on November 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


(Where can I read more about Manafort’s work with Putin and all that stuff that was just mentioned w/r/t being paid millions by Putin to create disinformation and being responsible for deaths?)

I have a bunch of links here And a few more here.

The story probably being mentioned here is this one...

Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day, AP 3/22/2017

AP Exclusive: Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin
Before signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” The Associated Press has learned. The White House attempted to brush the report aside Wednesday, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Congress about Russian links to Trump associates.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:03 AM on November 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


Oh, and the part aboit Manafort being responsible for deaths comes from his daughter's text messages, which were hacked. So honestly I don't think the media should have run this story because it's messed up to play along with hackers and blackmailers, but in this case I feel slightly less sorry for the victims...
In a series of texts reviewed by Business Insider that appear to have been sent by Andrea to her sister, Jessica, in March 2015, Andrea said their father had "no moral or legal compass."

"Don't fool yourself," Andrea wrote to her sister, according to the texts. "That money we have is blood money."

"You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly," she continued, according to the reviewed texts. "As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered."
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:31 AM on November 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Sadly, I don't see enough pushback along the lines of, "If the call wasn't illegal, why did Trump try to hide it by illegally misclassifying it?"

There's also not enough pushback on the fact that Trump and his defenders have essentially already conceded the facts of the case; Republican Senators seem to be going with "it was wrong but not impeachable," which is weak tea. Democrats and honest media need to emphasize how much the Republicans seem to agree on the facts of the case, and the ongoing efforts to obstruct points to the fact that they know something stinks.

Also, the focus on whether the call was illegal as opposed to a blatant abuse of power is misdirection. Congress is as within its rights to impeach for the latter as for the former, to say nothing of the aforementioned obstruction, for which they could impeach him all on its own.
posted by Gelatin at 4:10 AM on November 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Renato Mariotti:
Democrats, You’re About to Go to Trial. This Is How You Win.
Any hope of getting Republicans to break ranks depends on persuading the public first.
posted by growabrain at 6:21 AM on November 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


From above:
Manafort pitched the plans to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

From a 7 October Slate article about the ongoing corruption of the administration, particularly in this case Steven Mnuchin:

Mnuchin managed to entangle himself in perhaps the most convoluted scandal of the Trump presidency: the Russia affair. As lawmakers left town for the winter holidays last year, Mnuchin announced a decision to undo sanctions against Oleg Deripaska, a Vladimir Putin–aligned Russian oligarch at the center of the Mueller investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller would find that Deripaska had been promised “private briefings” and had likely been provided Trump internal polling data by former Trump campaign chairman and current federal prison inmate Paul Manafort. But Mnuchin determined that congressionally approved sanctions against Deripaska should be significantly lessened. Mnuchin also reportedly misled Congress about the terms of the deal the Treasury Department struck with Deripaska to cut those sanctions. Mnuchin also failed to address his own conflict of interest revolving around a direct business connection to a top shareholder at Deripaska’s firm. No collusion, though!
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:03 AM on November 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


Thanks, growabrain, for linking that Renato Mariotti article. I mostly agree with his trial points, except the part about limiting the impeachment trial to Ukraine. I think there needs to be at least some significant background on the Russia connection (even if there aren't any Russia-based impeachment articles), because it provides the *why* for just about everything trump has done. To the extent the public is like a jury, it will want to know why the particular quid was withholding arms shipments. Who benefits? Putin.
posted by mabelstreet at 8:30 AM on November 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Schiff: Trump betrayed America. Soon the public will hear from patriots who defended it. (Rep. Adam Schiff, USA Today Opinion)
From the call record alone, we have stark evidence that President Trump sought Ukraine’s help in the 2020 election by pressing that country to investigate a political opponent. Ukraine, which lies on the front line of Russian aggression, is financially, militarily and diplomatically dependent on the United States. The president’s corrupt pressure to secure its interference in our election betrayed our national security and his oath of office. [...]

What we have found, and what the American people will soon learn through the release of additional testimony transcripts and in public hearings, is that this is about more than just one call. From closed door interviews of current and former administration officials, text messages we have obtained, and public admissions by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and President Trump himself, we now know that the call was just one piece of a larger operation to redirect our foreign policy to benefit Donald Trump’s personal and political interests, not the national interest.

The interviews we have conducted have been thorough, professional and fair, with over one hundred members from both parties eligible to attend — including nearly 50 Republicans — and equal time allotted for questioning to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and staff. In line with best investigative practices first passed in Congress by the Republicans who now decry them, we have held these interviews in private to ensure that witnesses are not able to tailor their testimony to align with others at the expense of the truth. [...]

While temperatures might run high and the temptation to turn this solemn process into a political circus could be irresistible to some, I hope that all members of Congress and the public will focus on the facts and the substance of the testimony, not on politics or partisanship.
posted by katra at 8:49 AM on November 5, 2019 [37 favorites]


And, lest we forget, not long after having sanctions released on him, Deripaska then invested millions in an aluminum mine in Kentucky, via his company Rusal, just in case Mitch McVenal was getting cold feet.
posted by eclectist at 8:57 AM on November 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


So this is why Trump doesn’t want officials to testify (Dana Milbank, WaPo Opinion)
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) released the first batch of transcripts Monday from the closed-door depositions, including that of Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her post by President Trump at the urging of his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

If this is a sign of what’s to come, Republicans will soon regret forcing Democrats to make impeachment proceedings public. Over 10 hours, the transcript shows, they stumbled about in search of a counter-narrative to her damning account. [...]

They ate up a good chunk of time merely complaining that Yovanovitch’s opening statement had been made public (which under the rules was allowed).

[...] She testified that wary Ukrainian officials knew as early as January or February that Giuliani was seeking damaging information on the Bidens and the Democrats — perhaps in exchange for Trump’s endorsement of the then-president’s reelection.
posted by katra at 8:59 AM on November 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Any media outlet that airs Republican complaints about making the testimony public without also noting that the Republicans previously complained about secrecy is serving someone, but it isn't their listeners/viewers/readers.
posted by Gelatin at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2019 [56 favorites]


On Ukraine, Trump Is a Con Man, but He’s Also a Mark (Michelle Goldberg, NYT Opinion)
[Parnas and Fruman] first appeared on the American political scene in 2015 as enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. [...] “All of a sudden they started going around Ukraine telling anybody who would listen, particularly with the government, that they have been advised by a high-level, mysterious unnamed source, that in fact the D.N.C. servers had been hidden in Ukraine, that Russia was not the origin,” [Kenneth McCallion, a New York lawyer who previously brought a civil racketeering lawsuit against Paul Manafort and the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash] told me. This claim, which echoed Russian propaganda, contradicts the findings of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee. Nevertheless, it soon came to shape American foreign policy. [...]

Trump used the power of his office to try to force Ukraine to substantiate conspiracy theories. But the president was fed those conspiracy theories by people with their own agendas, who surely understood that he is insecure about Russia’s role in his election, and he will believe whatever serves his ego in the moment. The main reason Trump should be removed from office is that he has subverted American foreign policy for corrupt personal ends. But this scandal is the latest reminder of how easy sinister forces find it to pull his strings. [...]

At first glance it might seem as if Parnas and Fruman were just doing Giuliani’s bidding when, in 2019, they started pushing the same disinformation. But Giuliani wasn’t paying them — they were paying Giuliani. Parnas, in turn, was being paid by Firtash, who is, according to the Justice Department, an “upper echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. Firtash is also close to the Kremlin; a Ukrainian official once described him as “representing Russia’s interests in Ukraine.” [...]

In court last month, a lawyer for Parnas said that some evidence against him could be subject to executive privilege, apparently because his work with Giuliani overlapped with Giuliani’s work for Trump. If that’s true, then Firtash is directly linked to America’s president. The two men may have used each other, but there’s no reason to believe that Trump was the one in control. There was a time when Republicans would be mortified by an American president being manipulated by a figure like Firtash. Lucky for them, they’ve lost the ability to feel shame.
posted by katra at 9:17 AM on November 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Any media outlet that airs Republican complaints about making the testimony public without also noting that the Republicans previously complained about secrecy is serving someone, but it isn't their listeners/viewers/readers.

To be fair, media outlets have always served their advertisers, not their listeners/viewers/readers.
posted by Rykey at 9:20 AM on November 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Lev Parnas, Giuliani Associate, Opens Talks With Impeachment Investigators (NYT)
“We are willing to comply with the subpoena to the extent that it does not violate any appropriate privilege that Mr. Parnas may properly invoke,” said Joseph A. Bondy, who along with Edward B. MacMahon, Jr. now represents Mr. Parnas.

Mr. Bondy said that given the federal criminal charges, his client may invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate himself.

The turnabout occurred after Mr. Trump denied knowing Mr. Parnas when he was arrested.

“Mr. Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him,” said Mr. Bondy, whose client has maintained that he has had extensive dealings with the president.
posted by katra at 9:21 AM on November 5, 2019 [17 favorites]


Vox has published a nice, all in one place, guide to impeachment.
posted by octothorpe at 10:12 AM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


BREAKING from the NY Times: US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland updated his testimony to acknowledge delivering a quid-pro-quo message to Ukraine
posted by octothorpe at 10:43 AM on November 5, 2019 [55 favorites]


Whooooah.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:54 AM on November 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


there's been a lot of reporting lately that the R senators are weighing a strategy of "yes, there was a quid-pro-quo, but that's not impeachable" - is there anything about this latest development that undermines that strategy? in other words, does this updated testimony impact those living in the FOX news bubble at all?
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:58 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


What would be interesting/important is if in the new revised testimony -- or in his eventual testimony in open hearings -- Sondland explains *why* he changed his tune, or why it was false in the first go-round.

Seems like forever ago, but recall he's the one who stalled for hours before responding to Ambassador Taylor's text with the strangely lawyered-sounding message that "President Trump has repeatedly said there is no quid pro quo" or something close to that.
posted by martin q blank at 11:03 AM on November 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


What would be interesting/important is if in the new revised testimony -- or in his eventual testimony in open hearings -- Sondland explains *why* he changed his tune, or why it was false in the first go-round.

Sondland Updates Impeachment Testimony, Describing Ukraine Quid Pro Quo (NYT)
In the addendum, Mr. Sondland said he had “refreshed my recollection” after reading the testimony given by Mr. Taylor and Timothy Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council. [...]

Mr. Morrison, the National Security Council official, testified last week that it was Mr. Sondland who first indicated in a conversation with him and Mr. Taylor on Sept. 1 that the release of the military aid for Ukraine might be contingent on the announcement of the investigations, and that he hoped “that Ambassador Sondland’s strategy was exclusively his own.”

The new testimony appeared in part to be an attempt by Mr. Sondland to argue that the quid pro quo was not his idea, and explain why he believed the aid and the investigations were linked. He said it “would have been natural for me to have voiced what I presumed” about what was standing in the way of releasing the military assistance.
posted by katra at 11:11 AM on November 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


Quid pro whoa!
posted by kirkaracha at 11:12 AM on November 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


hpsci transcript "excerpts": volker, sondland.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2019


refreshed my recollection

. . . probably best practice to hit F5 before you submit to congressional subpoena in the future.
posted by Think_Long at 11:18 AM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Here's the full Sondland transcript. (379 page pdf!) The "update" is attached to the end.
posted by theodolite at 11:19 AM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]




full Volker transcript.
sorry 'bout "excerpts"; i was misled by democracy dying in amazon ads; the hpsci press release is here. [would not object to "excerpts" post being removed.]
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Impeachment inquiry issues summons for acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos)
A summons has been issued [PDF] to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney instructing him to appear before the House impeachment inquiry to provide his deposition on Friday. However, it is very unlikely that Mulvaney will appear, even if that voluntary summons is given an update to a congressional subpoena.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:35 AM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


The RNC paid for more than 10,000 phone calls to House Democrats as part of its anti-impeachment push.

"The calls seem to have focused on these talking points; the RNC said it hired a survey firm to conduct outreach and that that firm connected respondents who indicated they were not in favor of the impeachment inquiry with congressional offices. Beyond survey participants, the campaign also reportedly rallied Republicans through robocalls and automated texts that encouraged voters to call the offices, and through call sheets handed out at Trump rallies that contained a script to be read to lawmakers’ offices."
posted by Harry Caul at 12:07 PM on November 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


there's been a lot of reporting lately that the R senators are weighing a strategy of "yes, there was a quid-pro-quo, but that's not impeachable"

That's moving the goalposts. Trump asking a foreign government -- again! -- to interfere in the US election by getting dirt on one of his political rivals is an impeachable offense all by itself, quid pro quo or no quid pro quo. The quid pro quo is another impeachable offense, as is the cover-up, as is the ongoing obstruction.

Speaking of cover-up, it looks like Sondland feels he's at risk of perjury charges. The more exposed to actual consequences these crooks feel, the more they'll be incline to turn on Trump to save their own skins.
posted by Gelatin at 12:31 PM on November 5, 2019 [18 favorites]


i understand that it's moving the goalposts - all reality-based people understand that. unfortunately, the majority of people represented by the R senators who are needed to flip in order to convict the President in a possible impeachment trial are not reality-based. so any developments need to be drastic enough that they actually pierce the non-reality-based bubble. I'm curious to know if this development meets that standard. I suspect that it doesn't.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2019


Sondland paid millions of dollars to the Trump campaign to get this plum assignment that may well put him in jail.
posted by octothorpe at 12:46 PM on November 5, 2019 [27 favorites]


'It kept getting more insidious': What Sondland and Volker told Trump impeachment investigators (Politico)
Sondland testified that Trump and Giuliani’s positions “kept getting more insidious,” evolving from a general interest in fighting corruption to an interest in Burisma and finally to an investigation of the Bidens. The EU envoy noted he was not a lawyer but said he “assumed” an effort to pressure Ukraine to do so, as pursued by Giuliani with Trump’s support, would be illegal.

Trump’s allies have recently begun to embrace a new defense: that Trump might have sought a quid pro quo, but that doing so is neither improper nor impeachable. In a criminal trial, a witness's legal opinion is considered irrelevant. But impeachment is a political process — and with Sondland's testimony, that talking point has now been complicated by Trump’s own appointee. [...]

Volker’s testimony indicates that there were so many different events happening that he didn’t always make the links that can seem obvious in retrospect. For instance, he says he was fine with the idea that Ukraine’s government would release a statement that mentions the gas company Burisma and the 2016 election as matters they would investigate as part of an anti-corruption effort, and that he even helped propose language.

But, although he admits he knew that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma, he didn’t quite think through the implications. Those implications later became clear when the White House released a transcript of a July 25 call in which Trump urged Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
posted by katra at 12:46 PM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Apparently, the plan was to get Zelensky to go on Tucker Carlson's show.
posted by octothorpe at 1:13 PM on November 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


Sondland paid millions of dollars to the Trump campaign to get this plum assignment that may well put him in jail.

Good. In any other context that would be scandalous bribery, but somehow it's normal for ambassadorships.
posted by ryanrs at 1:15 PM on November 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


How Did Gordon Sondland Think This Was Going to End?

You could ask the same thing about anyone in the Trump administration or its orbit. It's never been clear to me what their endgame is, and I'm increasingly convinced they don't have one. They're flying by the seat of their pants, except they're naked and the plane is on fire and it's actually not a plane at all, it's just a cardboard box with stars painted on it, or something.

Also, it's becoming clear that there are two kinds of people left in Trumpville: cowards and morons. Cowards are people like Sondland, who were in it for themselves from the beginning, but have enough of a sense of self-preservation to cut a deal once they start to feel cornered. Most of Trump's rich, fair-weather friends probably fall into this category. But then there are a certain number of true believers—the morons—who will stick with him no matter what, even when it's not in their best interest to do so. They have in common that they have little to lose, materially or financially, and have tied themselves up with Team Trump on such a fundamental ideological level that they can't conceive of leaving. Unfortunately, they're not good for very much, particularly not for actually governing a major superpower nation. As the impeachment proceedings gradually cleave away the cowards and get them to turn on Trump, we're going to be left with just the moron brigade running the show. So, I expect things will get more erratic and generally crazier between now and the election.

Interesting times, indeed.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:18 PM on November 5, 2019 [23 favorites]


It's getting difficult to parse those two separate kinds of people. I'm thinking Gowdy, Nunes, Gaetz, Graham are in the moron category.
posted by archimago at 1:21 PM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


NEW: Sondland has revised his testimony to include a new 4 page sworn statement that admits there was a quid pro quo, that Pence was aware of the arrangements and that he was a key player in getting Ukraine to play ball.
posted by octothorpe at 1:21 PM on November 5, 2019 [20 favorites]


i understand that it's moving the goalposts - all reality-based people understand that.

I disagree. By taking the bait, predictably, and talking about the quid pro quo, the media doesn't talk about the fact that just asking Zelensky to investigate Biden the Younger was an impeachable act.

Instead, they relay the message that there's some question as to whether Trump committed an impeachable act at all, rather than the fact that he has committed several that we have public records of. They also act as if Executive Branch officials' defying Congressional subpoenas was somehow justified, just because the Republicans say it is and in their lazy he-said-she-said framework that's all she wrote.

And by taking their eyes off the ball, the media is failing to influence the very voters you're talking about with the concept that Trump's offenses are cumulative, and we keep uncovering more, and he keeps committing more with his obstruction.
posted by Gelatin at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


and that he was a key player in getting Ukraine to play ball.

"key player" refers to Sondland, not Pence.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:36 PM on November 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


how disappointing :(
posted by ryanrs at 1:38 PM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


As far an impeachment goes. As far as I can see, everyone related to Trump can be impeached or convicted. Every single one. Does anyone know of an honest member of the administration?
posted by baegucb at 2:02 PM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


hey is anybody else going tharn with the latest polling putting Trump against Warren in battleground states?
posted by angrycat at 2:11 PM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Sondland is setting himself up to be the fall guy and the Senate GOP will happily oblige. My guess is some sort of “misinterpreted the president’s instructions” defense.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:17 PM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


hey is anybody else going tharn with the latest polling putting Trump against Warren in battleground states?

To link this on-topic with impeachment, I think it might be reasonable to not pay any attention at all to this until we get a clear impression of how damaging this meta-scandal becomes to Doofus's poll numbers. Maybe THEN it becomes reasonable to go down the electability rabbit hole with Warren.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


The rats are fleeing the sinking ship today aren't they...?

Tomorrow morning's tweets may be something. Schiff's framing was excellent. True, and, appeals to country and real patriotism.
posted by Windopaene at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2019


I think the link is this: when the Senate sees Trumps numbers crashing, removal becomes a possibility. Their own power base is the same pool of voters, and even if they know their whole party is tainted, they will make an attempt to throw Trump out of the boat and bail--but only once they're REALLY sure the ship is sinking.
posted by rikschell at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2019


It's getting difficult to parse those two separate kinds of people. I'm thinking Gowdy, Nunes, Gaetz, Graham are in the moron category.

I think whatever Graham's real deal is will be much more complex and weird. I don't buy that he just wants to be relevant.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


Graham's real deal

Occam's Razor suggests kompromat, my guess is of the gay sex worker type.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:21 PM on November 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Lindsay something something Blavatnik, oligarchs, the usual suspects.
posted by Harry Caul at 3:32 PM on November 5, 2019


Oh, speaking of Graham, this just in from NY Mag, "Lindsey Graham Won’t Read Impeachment Hearing Transcripts Because ‘This Is All B.S.’":
Some senators are trying not to comment on evidence in the House impeachment inquiry because they may sit in judgment of that evidence and its implications for the president if the House does impeach Trump. But then you have the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who says he will ignore it because he doesn’t want to hear it: [link to this tweet]
Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he won't read any of the transcripts, and dismissed Sondland's reversal.

"I've written the whole process off ... I think this is a bunch of B.S."

Per @alanhe
[...]

In that respect, Graham is reminiscent of the infamous Indiana Republican congressman Earl Landgrebe, who had this to say the day before Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in 1974:
Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.
posted by mhum at 3:37 PM on November 5, 2019 [23 favorites]


May history remember Lindsay Graham as well as it does... Earl Landgrebe
posted by Kelrichen at 3:41 PM on November 5, 2019 [57 favorites]



How Did Gordon Sondland Think This Was Going to End?


He didn't. He thought he just had to cut the cheque and rim 45 and he'd get his reward, and that would be that. This is corrupt but not criminally so. He almost certainly didn't think of it as criminally so at first, but then as Ukraine QPQ developed he must have realised he was going to have to go in deeper. Then at one point he had to decide whether to perjure himself as part of the service package - he knew that was wrong but didn't think he'd get caught.

Then he realised - or probably his lawyer had a chat - and changed his mind. This wasn't going away, he'd lost the ability to cover his ass and 45 wasn't going to help him, and so he caved. To the best of his recollection, Senator, suddenly got better.

This question - what were you thinking - is a simple one. When you go into politics in order to get the power to stop the state using the law against your crimes, or if you find yourself using your power to further new crimes, one of two things will happen. Either you run out of power or they run out of law.

This was the exact reason the fascists got going in rural Germany between the wars, to cover up their crimes, once they worked out that blaming the Jews and the elites went down very with with the locals. And once you start going down that road, if you don't bale quickly per Sondland, you can only keep upping the ante.

Either you run out of power or we run out of law.

Ball's still in play for now.
posted by Devonian at 4:40 PM on November 5, 2019 [48 favorites]


Graham's real deal

Remember how over the top Trump is when kissing Putin's ass? Like, to the point where any double agent would be saying shhhh tone it down? Graham and several others act exactly the same way in regard to Trump.

I don't agree with all of this analysis but it's a nice recap of Graham's weird behavior and reversal of most of his stances:
Hidden Motives Behind GOP Leaders Cooperation With Trump
posted by benzenedream at 4:41 PM on November 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


If you’re looking for a circumstance where the president of the United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aid unless they investigated his political opponent, you’d be very disappointed. That does not exist.
-- Lindsey Graham, September 25
posted by kirkaracha at 4:51 PM on November 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


Graham and several others act exactly the same way in regard to Trump.

Like if the senate finds that using government funding as a lever for extorting dirt on political opponents is not sufficient grounds for removal from office, it would be political malpractice for a notional future democratic president not to do the same thing to every last republican senator and representative in d.c.

...so of course all the democratic candidates will loudly avow that they would never do such a thing and promise a return to normalcy...
posted by logicpunk at 5:07 PM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think it's long past time we all accept this is who Lindsey Graham is.
No kompromat. No fear of being outed. This is who he is, and who he has always been. He used to follow McCain because there was apparent benefit, and so he tried to imitate that image. Now without McCain--who was also far less than the hype--all he's got left is Trump.
This is who Lindsey Graham has always been.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:08 PM on November 5, 2019 [18 favorites]


It's getting difficult to parse those two separate kinds of people. I'm thinking Gowdy, Nunes, Gaetz, Graham are in the moron category.

I would not be very surprised if it turns out that there is kompromat on Graham, but my take has mostly just been that he is craven. Nunes, on the other hand, comes off as corrupt as hell.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:01 PM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Jennifer Hansler (CNN): "Former special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker testified that he texted from his personal phone because he couldn't figure out how to get into his government phone."

(But her emails!)
posted by mbrubeck at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2019 [28 favorites]


Graham's real deal

Occam's Razor suggests kompromat


At this point it’s approaching “probable humiliation kink”
posted by schadenfrau at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2019 [20 favorites]


Lindsey Graham is up to his nose in it. Back when the Mueller report was released, we surmised that his name was one of the ones redacted due to "Harm to ongoing matter". I wouldn't be surprised if he were right in the thick of all of this.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:45 PM on November 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Volker...texted from his personal phone

Any reps want to stand up for truth and justice? Forward a goddam criminal referral to the FBI.

a) danger to national security? yep.
b) knowledge of applicable laws? yep.
c) 'convenience' is not a mitigating factor by statute.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:01 PM on November 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


I was also not down with the private email server but it's been proven that no classified information came or went. Not relitigating.

State needs a reinvestigation on all their clearances and classification training at the political appointee level.

SEAD-4 Adjudicative Guidelines (PDF) include:

GUIDELINE E: Personal Conduct
GUIDELINE K: Handling Protected Information
GUIDELINE M: Use of Information Technology

Fucking rich people and consequences 🙄
posted by j_curiouser at 8:33 PM on November 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Just for the record, it is not illegal to use personal devices for non-classified communications. It is illegal if you don't turn over copies for archival within 20 days.

It's unclear whether the texts should be classified. Some clerk in the basement of the State Department perhaps will make a decision a few years from now to retroactively classify it.
posted by JackFlash at 8:42 PM on November 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


What I'm suggesting is that since there's a clear admission, let's have investigators take a look. Just frustrated at lame congress inaction. / security rant
posted by j_curiouser at 9:06 PM on November 5, 2019


I realize it's just tea leaves at this point, but I have to think that Bevin losing KY Gov has to make McConnell a bit nervous. Their profiles of being personally unpopular despite KY remaining firmly red in general are similar enough to matter. Having Mitch, personally, fearing for his seat is probably the biggest sine qua non for any hope of a conviction in the Senate.
posted by bcd at 9:23 PM on November 5, 2019 [29 favorites]


Yep. Best news I've heard in a while. Mitch is so craven, this has to have gotten his attention. And Bevin is trumpish garbage.
posted by Windopaene at 10:55 PM on November 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


At this point it’s approaching “probable humiliation kink”

Senator Subservient Chicken.
posted by acb at 2:05 AM on November 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


Sondland just remembered now that he had been pressuring Ukraine for many weeks? He just now connected Burisma with Biden? Does this "the dog ate my homework" level of lying really pass muster? This is enough to evade charges of perjury?
posted by xammerboy at 4:07 AM on November 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


I realize it's just tea leaves at this point, but I have to think that Bevin losing KY Gov has to make McConnell a bit nervous.

I’n skeptical of that given how unpopular Bevin was and how handily republicans won every other race on the ballot.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 4:17 AM on November 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’n skeptical of that given how unpopular Bevin was and how handily republicans won every other race on the ballot.

McConnell is about as unpopular as Bevin in KY, and has relied on the state's conservative bent to save him.

He just got a message that this time, that might not be enough.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:50 AM on November 6, 2019 [11 favorites]


Only if there’s a credible opponent to run against him, though.

Grimes ain’t it.
posted by darkstar at 5:29 AM on November 6, 2019


Grimes ain’t it.

There should probably be an off-year election thread because this is not really impeachment-inquiry stuff, but FWIW I got the impression the sacrificial lamb for next year is Amy McGrath. I am on the record as not super-excited about her most recent positioning, but I'll give her credit for not being one of the five or six doomed candidates we regularly dredge up out of the establishment-party slates to lose haplessly.

(OTOH, Beshear is one of those old-boy establishment types, and he won, so make of that what you will.)
posted by jackbishop at 5:40 AM on November 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


There is an off year election thread.
(I only brought this particular detail up here because of the Mitch implications.)
posted by bcd at 5:44 AM on November 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


I realize it's just tea leaves at this point, but I have to think that Bevin losing KY Gov has to make McConnell a bit nervous.

I’n skeptical of that given how unpopular Bevin was and how handily republicans won every other race on the ballot.


Yeah, Bevin was just uniquely unpopular and that's all that's behind Beshear's win. I mean the guy was fantastically bad at politics. If he wasn't both vain and stupid he would've resigned a while ago and the GOP would probably have held the Governor's mansion.
posted by dis_integration at 5:46 AM on November 6, 2019


Some senators are trying not to comment on evidence in the House impeachment inquiry because they may sit in judgment of that evidence and its implications for the president if the House does impeach Trump.

This might seem reasonable except there is absolutely no basis for them to do this. There are no other judges that can be brought in. Bias or no bias they are all there is. I mean if we are going to use this kind of "legalishtic" standard then the republican senators should all recuse themselves for clear and obvious conflicts of interest simply based on party affiliation and prior ties.

They are just trying cover up their cowering with some bogus people's court level sounding justification.
posted by srboisvert at 6:02 AM on November 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


I mean if we are going to use this kind of "legalishtic" standard then the republican senators should all recuse themselves for clear and obvious conflicts of interest simply based on party affiliation and prior ties.

US Constitution
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
"Members present". It they want to go with moon-law, I say disqualify as many (R) "jurors" that you can.
posted by mikelieman at 6:08 AM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


are you saying that Present ought to be interpreted to mean "in the room for the whole process, not just the vote"? Something else?
posted by j_curiouser at 6:23 AM on November 6, 2019


are you saying that Present ought to be interpreted to mean "in the room for the whole process, not just the vote"? Something else?

I'm saying that if the (R)s really want "due process", then we give it to them by conducting voir-dire for each and every Senator-Juror, disqualifying for-cause anyone who is demonstrably biased.
posted by mikelieman at 7:21 AM on November 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


Republicans on Sondland impeachment bombshell: Who cares? (Politico)
Despite some senators’ vow of silence on impeachment, many Republicans dismiss the notion of trying to remain a neutral juror.

“I’ve talked to the president about this,” said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 4 Senate GOP leader. “This is a political process. So, you’re not going to remove the political elements from this process. So, you’ve got to be realistic about that.”

“Technically, I think we are the jury,” said Cornyn, who lunched at the White House last week. “But I wouldn’t call it an impartial jury.”
posted by katra at 7:34 AM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


disqualifying for-cause anyone who is demonstrably biased

this is a charming idea and what many of the craven republican senators deserve, but could cut both ways. which democratic senators would not be demonstrably biased, a) objectively, or b) on fox? hell, in what i have observed of the trumpist talking points, democratic party affiliation is bias per se.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:46 AM on November 6, 2019


“Technically, I think we are the jury,” said Cornyn, who lunched at the White House last week. “But I wouldn’t call it an impartial jury.”

This frank admission that Republican senators will vote in Trump's favor regardless of the evidence should be taken up by every Democratic politician and every news outlet. Of course it's confirmation of what we already knew, but Cornyn has now confirmed it aloud, and Republicans should be held accountable not only for their failure to uphold their oaths, but their frank admission that their oaths aren't worth a bucket of spit in the first place.
posted by Gelatin at 7:53 AM on November 6, 2019 [31 favorites]


Strategery: Senate Republicans consider including Bidens in Trump impeachment trial (Rachael Bade and Robert Costa, WaPo)
The back-and-forth [over including the Bidens] sets up a looming clash between Trump loyalists and more traditional-minded Senate Republicans who are uncomfortable with Trump’s no-holds-barred tactics in defending himself. Many Senate Republicans, for example, also have little interest in outing the whistleblower, even as the president and his allies have argued that the person should be named and targeted with a subpoena.

But [Rand Paul’s] position on the Bidens has been echoed by Trump’s loyalists in the conservative news media, ramping up the pressure campaign on Senate Republicans to be more aggressive in defending the president.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:16 AM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Trump makes falsehoods central to impeachment defense as incriminating evidence mounts (Toluse Olorunnipa and Philip Rucker, WaPo)
Trump’s repetitive use of false claims represents an attempt to immunize himself from impeachment by seeding favorable information in the minds of the public, even when that information is incorrect, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“We know from work in social psychology that repeated exposure to a claim increases the likelihood that you think it’s accurate,” she said. “As you hear or read something repeatedly, you are more likely to think it’s accurate even if faced with evidence that it’s not.” […]

Trump has claimed without evidence that [officials testifying against him] were “Never Trumpers” peddling false accusations.

It’s part of a strategy to paint all incriminating information as emanating from biased sources, said Jamieson.

“If you can construct the world that anybody who says anything negative about the president is a venal partisan, you never have to get into any of the evidence because you distort the evidence and discredit the source of it,” she said. “That’s what Donald Trump does.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:30 AM on November 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


“If you can construct the world that anybody who says anything negative about the president is a venal partisan, you never have to get into any of the evidence because you distort the evidence and discredit the source of it,” she said. “That’s what Donald Trump does.”

It's also what Trump has to do, because the material facts are not in his favor. In this Trump acts more like a typical Republican rather than bending the party to himself.
posted by Gelatin at 8:36 AM on November 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


Public impeachment hearings will begin next week (Guardian)
Open impeachment hearings will begin on Wednesday November 13, Adam Schiff has announced. Bill Taylor, the US’s top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state, will testify first.

Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is due to appear on Friday November 15.
posted by katra at 8:43 AM on November 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


Media outlets reject Rand Paul’s demand that they identify Trump’s whistleblower (Politico)
USA Today’s editorial board argued Monday against revealing the name, writing that “nothing chills truth-telling in the halls of power like the risk of retribution, and no risk is more harrowing than unmasking potentially impeachable offenses by a president.” The whistleblower may not need to testify, they noted, because “so much of the person's complaint has been independently verified.”
posted by katra at 8:46 AM on November 6, 2019 [15 favorites]


Little Fredo, Trump Jr tweet out the name of an alleged whistleblower. Whether that name is correct or not, their life is about to become complete shit.
posted by JackFlash at 9:02 AM on November 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


Is revealing the name of a whistleblower a crime in itself?
posted by PhineasGage at 9:04 AM on November 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not according to the legal experts NPR talked to, Can Trump Legally Out The Whistleblower? Experts Say It Would Not Violate Any Laws:
A member of Congress who reveals the whistleblower's identity could be removed from committees or face other legislative sanctions; a member of the public risks a civil lawsuit from the whistleblower's legal team, which has threatened to hold anyone who reveals the name personally liable if the disclosure results in harm to the whistleblower or the person's family.

Workplace retaliation against the whistleblower following disclosure would constitute a federal crime. But the act of unmasking itself is not unlawful, unless the person is a covert agent.
posted by peeedro at 9:08 AM on November 6, 2019


Of course, if Trump outed the whistleblower, the House could simply add it to the list of particulars in an impeachment referral. So he gets Rand Paul to do it while hiding behind the Speech and Debate clause. For shame.
posted by Gelatin at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2019


"It was incoherent," Sen @LindseyGrahamSC
says of Trump's Ukraine policy.


"They seem to be *incapable* of forming a quid pro quo."


So now we're onto the "they were too incompetent to break the law" defense. Anyone keeping track of how many different excuses they've gone through so far?
posted by octothorpe at 9:55 AM on November 6, 2019 [16 favorites]


Anyone keeping track of how many different excuses they've gone through so far?

Not the media, because to do so would be to communicate clearly that Trump is trying to hide his guilt, and such a definitive statement wouldn't be balanced.
posted by Gelatin at 10:04 AM on November 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


For those not following too closely, DC insiders know (with 90% certainty? a little less?) who the whistleblower is. Probably also the president knows. But the press—for as much as MeFi hates on them—refuses to run down the lead on principle. So it sits in this weird limbo. Today’s WaPo had a brief piece on the situation.
posted by whitewall at 10:07 AM on November 6, 2019 [7 favorites]




For those not following too closely, DC insiders know (with 90% certainty? a little less?) who the whistleblower is. Probably also the president knows.

Bolton or I don’t care

Also I don’t believe Trump would be physically capable of not blurting it out if he knew.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:38 AM on November 6, 2019 [11 favorites]


Thanks neroli. Yes, reflexive slamming of the media for inadequately covering the impeachment situation doesn't match with what is actually appearing throughout all the major mainstream broadcast, print, and digital news outlets. If the so-called MSM were NOT doing such a complete and accurate job, Trump and his enablers at Fox and elsewhere wouldn't be in such a frenzy.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:02 AM on November 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


The media notes a change from x to y, not that Trump's defense has changed from "I didn't do it" all the way thru the several steps of the Narcissist's Prayer to "it's okay that I did it." They connect two dots, but rarely the others that make a pattern.

That said, I'm sure the media is doing more than not following leads in identifying the whistleblower -- I'm sure they're being told his/her name and are flat refusing to run it, and they deserve credit for that.
posted by Gelatin at 11:22 AM on November 6, 2019 [9 favorites]


Trump Jr is claiming that two other media outlets, Drudge Report and something ominously called RealClearInvestigations had done the outing and he was merely parroting.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:24 AM on November 6, 2019


What purpose does outing the whistleblower serve at this point? Given the mountain of evidence they're facing? When crazy people start coming out of the weeds to try to kamikaze this person, doesn't it bolster the case for at least voting this nightmare out of office? Or is Jr. just hopped up on Adderrall and flailing.
posted by angrycat at 11:52 AM on November 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Can't remember if I saw it here or on Twitter, and I'm paraphrasing, but outing the whistleblower is like dwelling on who called 911 while everyone else is focused on the house fire.
posted by emelenjr at 11:55 AM on November 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


What purpose does outing the whistleblower serve at this point

To deter other whistle blowers from coming forward. They're confident the Senate won't remove him unless even more stuff becomes known, so ruining the whistleblower's life is in their best interest. A few senators will hem and haw over it but it'll be as potent as their thoughts and prayers.
posted by Candleman at 11:56 AM on November 6, 2019 [39 favorites]


You make the issue of the day a referendum on the character of the whistleblower, just like they did with those FBI agents who were having the affair and also texting.

on preview, yes, also making an example of the rat.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:57 AM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Trump et al. playbook is all personal attacks and demonization. No person to insult on Twitter? No death threats sent by my cult? Even if it's a bad strategy it's reflexive by this point. Otherwise the discussion turns towards Trump's character, which is a guaranteed failing strategy.
posted by benzenedream at 12:01 PM on November 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


To demonize the whistleblower and pretend that the whole thing is about whatever faults the whistleblower might have.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:02 PM on November 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups < ProPublica

"The email underscored what had become a stark reality under the Trump White House. Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. Over the last two years, political pressure, particularly from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, had seeped into aid deliberations and convinced key decision-makers that unless they fell in line, their jobs could be at stake.

Five months before Ferguson sent the email, his former boss had been ousted following a mandate from Pence’s chief of staff. Pence had grown displeased with USAID’s work in Iraq after Christian groups were turned down for aid."

"Officials at USAID warned that favoring Christian groups in Iraq could be unconstitutional and inflame religious tensions. When one colleague lost her job, they said she had been “Penced.”
posted by Harry Caul at 12:03 PM on November 6, 2019 [25 favorites]


Trump Jr is literally trying to get the whistleblower assassinated by a MAGA cultist turned "lone wolf". We're seeing stochastic terrorism from the Trump family in realtime here. That's got to be impeachable.
posted by sotonohito at 1:09 PM on November 6, 2019 [28 favorites]


How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups < ProPublica

This is bad, but only on the same level as the Bush Administration's post-war "aid" in Iraq. Pence is just a normal Republican. Stupid and evil.
posted by mumimor at 1:23 PM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm so old that I can remember when Donald said he didn't have to divest from his businesses because Donny Jr would take over management and stay out of politics.
posted by JackFlash at 1:33 PM on November 6, 2019 [36 favorites]


From Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, "This Impeachment Won’t Be a Legal or Political Battle. It Will Be an Information War.":
Confusing and conflating the legal facts of impeachment with the political facts of impeachment is only the first step in the GOP effort to distort the impeachment process. The follow-up strategy is slowly emerging, and it’s as nihilistic as it is terrifying: The White House and Trump’s Republican defenders seem to understand that this is, at its heart, a messaging war. This is politics in the form of who dominates the airwaves. As such, the thrust of the new impeachment defiance will be to simply deny that any of it is happening in the first place. This isn’t an elaborate attempt to push back or to reframe or to counter the impeachment investigation; it’s a media tactic designed solely to deny its very existence. Wednesday’s revelation that Bill Taylor knew he was dealing with a quid pro quo should be the last nail in the bribery/abuse-of-power coffin. But it won’t be, because none of those concepts even figure in the Republican defense strategy.

Comparisons of the present moment to Watergate all turn on one fact: The Watergate hearings changed public opinion because Americans across the political and ideological divide came together to listen to the testimony and came to believe the truth of what they were hearing and seeing. As the Pew Research Center has chronicled, 71 percent of its respondents told Gallup they watched the hearings live. And as many as 21 percent reported watching 10 hours or more of the Sam Ervin proceedings. There will be no analogue in 2019. Fox News will not be showing gavel-to-gavel coverage of impeachment testimony; it often cannot be bothered to report basic headlines. Sean Hannity isn’t covering the quid pro quo testimony. He’s putting Hunter Biden in the imaginary docks for an imaginary criminal trial. For Americans who live inside the Benghazi Bubble, the twists and turns of Gordon Sondland and Bill Taylor will be irrelevant. And Rudy Giuliani is less the prime mover and Typhoid Mary of the dirt-for-aid Ukraine scandal than he is a jolly talking head, to be relied upon for hilarity and good sound bites.
It's not mentioned in this article, but I think it's well-known that Roger Ailes, former Nixon consultant, founded Fox News partly because of a (his?) theory that Nixon would have survived Watergate if he had a friendly media outlet propping him up and providing a counter-narrative to the mainstream media. Well, I guess we're all gonna see that theory put to the test, aren't we?
posted by mhum at 3:53 PM on November 6, 2019 [33 favorites]


Data point on impeachment and information war. I chanced to overhear some of my coworkers discussing impeachment today.

They knew absolutely nothing at all about the process, the reasons the Democrats were looking to either investigate or impeach Trump, or really anything else. They wondered among themselves whether the House or Senate acted first, and what role each played. They were vaguely aware that the Democrats had the House and the Republicans the Senate so they felt that this meant Trump would stay President and therefore the whole thing was stupid and a waste of everyone's time. They thought maybe it had something to do with Russia, but weren't sure.

There's your public Democrats, you've got one hell of a lot of work educating them.
posted by sotonohito at 4:43 PM on November 6, 2019 [50 favorites]


In that vein, I heard something I'm paraphrasing and perhaps getting wrong on either NPR or BBC this AM, that something like 70% of the people they polled couldn't identify the three branches of US government. Much less how they interrelate. They don't teach civics any more. It's not on the standardized test, so they don't teach it.

Most people under 50 have no idea how the government works, why it works, and why what Trump has done is impeachable, or what impeachment even means. Over 50, and you probably had civics classes, government classes, and possibly even an active student government.

Unfortunately, the boomers have proven to be unreliable travelers, and I say that as an old GenX. This is the direct result of gutting education, a thing which Republicans love almost as much as they love guns and corruption.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:42 PM on November 6, 2019 [24 favorites]


Apparently Ken Burns interviewed the Vindman twins when they were 10yo for a documentary about immigration called Statue of Liberty.

I remember the Vindman boys fondly. Theirs is the story of America at its best.

He retweeted the video - Here's a lovely clip of the Vindman twins as children.

It would be sweet if Trump was brought down by a patriotic immigrant.

I don't envy Ken's job when it comes time to document all this. His usual sober format is going to look like the Veepiest episode of Veep that ever Veeped.
posted by adept256 at 7:22 PM on November 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


Whistleblower Advocates Demand Obstruction Probe, Suggest Don Jr. Should Be ‘Immediately Arrested’ (Colin Kalmbacher, Law & Crime)
A law firm dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of whistleblowers is demanding a federal investigation into any leaks concerning the intelligence community whistleblower responsible for alerting the public to President Donald Trump‘s alleged attempts to extort Ukrainian officials via quid pro quo.

A letter authored by the namesake partners at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP called on Attorney General William Barr to open a criminal investigation into any leaks of the whistleblower’s identity. Law&Crime obtained a copy of the letter on Wednesday afternoon.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:25 PM on November 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


Boomers also would have taken that civics class 50 years ago. I'd be really leery of them having retained much in the way of details of a class they probably weren't much interested in in the first place. On impeachment they'll have the advantage of having lived through Nixon and Clinton but even there the former was 40+ years ago and the latter wasn't exactly a flawless unbiased execution of the impeachment process.
posted by Mitheral at 7:26 PM on November 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


As a boomer, I would like to tell you that I do know about the three branches of the government. But given the fact that the three branches of our government have devolved so much over the past forty years and that our current government is a constitutional fraud, knowing how government is supposed to work isn’t as important as knowing how it has been twisted into a one man show and all his sycophants, so we know what happened, so maybe we can not let it happen again. The old fashioned constitutional knowledge will come in handy once the disease has been eradicated and we can begin rebuilding what should have been there in the first place.
posted by njohnson23 at 7:46 PM on November 6, 2019 [17 favorites]


In that vein, I heard something I'm paraphrasing and perhaps getting wrong on either NPR or BBC this AM, that something like 70% of the people they polled couldn't identify the three branches of US government. Much less how they interrelate. They don't teach civics any more. It's not on the standardized test, so they don't teach it.

The connection to civics or age is very unlikely. I have a copy of the cumulative ANES through 2008 sitting around, so why not. It doesn't ask that question (that I could immediately locate) and I am not remotely about to start pulling the individual year samples, but the proportions of people who knew that the Republicans are the more conservative party and the proportion of respondents who knew the current majority party in the House don't have any discernible trend.

tl;dr: Lots of Americans have always been really ignorant about politics.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:48 PM on November 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


For what it's worth, 41 states and the District of Columbia require at least a half year of civics instruction of which 10 require a full year. Ten states do not have a civics requirement.
posted by JackFlash at 8:05 PM on November 6, 2019 [9 favorites]


I have a copy of the cumulative ANES through 2008 sitting around, so why not. It doesn't ask that question (that I could immediately locate) and I am not remotely about to start pulling the individual year samples, but the proportions of people who knew that the Republicans are the more conservative party and the proportion of respondents who knew the current majority party in the House don't have any discernible trend.

No need for your own ANES -- the internet shall provide.
posted by chortly at 8:16 PM on November 6, 2019


Trump wanted Barr to hold news conference saying the president broke no laws in call with Ukrainian leader (WaPo)
President Trump wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that the commander in chief had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so, people familiar with the matter said.

The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say. [...]

Unbeknown to the public, the department weighed whether to investigate a potential campaign finance crime, though ultimately concluded there was not sufficient basis to do so after an inquiry limited essentially to reviewing the rough transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call.
Attorney General Declined Trump Request to Declare Nothing Illegal in Ukraine Call (NYT)
President Trump asked that Attorney General William P. Barr hold a news conference to declare that he had broken no laws in a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that is now at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, but Mr. Barr declined, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Trump’s request came shortly after the White House released a reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call in which the president pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.

[...] The president wanted Mr. Barr to personally deliver the message to the news media that Mr. Trump had done nothing wrong, much as he did in a news conference he held shortly before the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, according to a person with knowledge of the events. [...] A Justice Department spokeswoman put out a statement after the release of the whistle-blower complaint about the call, saying that the criminal division had reviewed the official record of the conversation and determined that “there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.” That satisfied Mr. Trump, according to one of the people with knowledge of what took place, and aides were able to redirect his concerns.
posted by katra at 8:22 PM on November 6, 2019 [9 favorites]


A Justice Department spokeswoman put out a statement...the criminal division had reviewed the official record of the conversation and determined that “there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.”

hmmm...seems like someone should FOIA (cuz subpoenas apparently ain't shit, house majority) any review documentation and the determination. Press release alone is pretty sketchy.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:31 PM on November 6, 2019 [8 favorites]


This is apparently not a parody; there are links to the transcript and everything:
Ukraine crisis put on ice by Trump staff busy working out how to buy Greenland
After the White House cut off military aid to Ukraine, Donald Trump’s top officials scrambled to get it restored but were unable to organise a meeting with the president, in part because his staff were too busy pursuing his interest in buying Greenland, according to newly released congressional testimony.
[…]
The veteran ambassador told congressional investigators it was the “unanimous opinion of every level of inter-agency discussion” that the aid should be restored and that the secretaries of state and defence as well as the CIA director and the national security adviser work together to arrange an urgent meeting with Trump “to convince him to release the hold”.

However, no meeting could be arranged until September. Taylor said part of the reason was the cabinet secretaries involved went on work trips abroad during the period, but he added: “I think this was also about the time of the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy in the NSC [National Security Council].”

On 20 August, Trump cancelled a trip to Denmark on the grounds that the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, had “no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland”. Frederiksen had called the US president’s proposal to purchase the semi-autonomous Danish territory “an absurd discussion”.


Your country is literally being run by a crazy grandpa.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:17 PM on November 6, 2019 [56 favorites]




Devonian: Either you run out of power or we run out of law.

If The Donald Devil is given any benefit of the doubt, and continues to publicly deny, divert, and obstruct, he might win this race by attrition. Better to throw legal hurdles in his path – and ultimately stop him – by repeatedly (and publicly) applying the benefits of Constitutional impeachment law.

From A Man for All Seasons (1960) by Robert Bolt:
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law?

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And, when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and, if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
The process is messy and imperfect, but he’ll run out of power long before the United States runs out of law.
posted by cenoxo at 4:31 AM on November 7, 2019 [22 favorites]


Sure. But that framing really sucks. The process might look messy and imperfect from a certain (privileged) perspective, but to many of us it could perhaps be more aptly described as fatally inadequate. By the time he runs out of power, how many more will have been murdered?
posted by lazaruslong at 5:28 AM on November 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


Sorry, not trying to be a jerk or anything. I just...messy and imperfect are about the most milquetoast adjectives I can think of to describe this impeachment process. Coupled with the simile appeal to a 1960s play by Robert Bolt makes that framing feel like An Intellectual Exercise and that Hurts To Read.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:43 AM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


The process is messy and imperfect, but he’ll run out of power long before the United States runs out of law.

Good point, but there's a third factor in play here that's grown its own legs: the people who would enforce the laws. Trump may well run out of power before the country runs out of laws—IF the people who can enforce the laws choose to do so. If they choose not to, then all the laws in the universe won't matter. In fact, they may as well not be there in the first place, for the good they do absent their enforcers.

My apologies if A Man for All Seasons addresses this problem; I haven't read it.
posted by Rykey at 5:53 AM on November 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


I just called my Senator's office, Senator Schumer, and asked that Senator Schumer challenge Senator McConnell on the Senate floor to a duel upon the Field of Honor.

Because the Constitution is Very Poorly Written, and dueling was the out-of-band enforcement mechanism the Framers expected.

I was light hearted, and acknowledged that it was a crazy request, but I just had to speak my peace.
posted by mikelieman at 6:16 AM on November 7, 2019 [10 favorites]


Messy and imperfect describes when you have two sides with different views working to come to a common understanding. Or at least honest disagreement.

This is one side working hard to follow the rules and the other side constantly moving the goalposts and saying “I don’t wanna.”

As always, Democrats are trusting the process to come to the correct result and Republicans care only about the end result. Which is why all the screaming about secrecy and due process was such an obvious con. McConnell, in fact, derives great joy in shitting on process and then crowing about the results.

The GOP cares about power and only power because that is the only metric in their worldview that gets results. The Democrats need to convince the American people of the facts and that they (the voting public) must hold the GOP to account if they don’t approve impeachment.

The GOP is really in a bind — if they vote to impeach, their base will either revolt or abandon them at the polls for turning on Trump. And they won’t gain a single vote from outside the base because Democrats won’t forgive their complicity over the past three years and independent voters will view them as hypocritical and untrustworthy.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:21 AM on November 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


>Trump may well run out of power before the country runs out of laws—IF the people who can enforce the laws choose to do so. If they choose not to, then all the laws in the universe won't matter. In fact, they may as well not be there in the first place, for the good they do absent their enforcers.

this is reason #1 that that quote isn't as powerful as liberals think it is. you're performing a sort of materialist analysis of the idea of the law here — you're treating the law as the law as actually implemented in the world, as carried out through various human processes and various human institutions, rather than treating the law as an abstract ideal that somehow governs by itself.

reason #2 that that quote isn't as powerful as liberals think it is is that by positioning the law as being a windbreak, it doesn't take into account the possibility that the law might instead be the wind itself. consider the various laws explicitly or implicitly aimed at keeping black people subordinate that the united states has had throughout its history. these laws are not a windbreak that protects against the devil, but instead are the devil's own flatulence.

in the case of trump we are seeing both of these effects: first, there are no enforcement mechanisms against criminal behavior committed by a president, or even grand guignol atrocities committed by a president. trump is right when he says he could shoot someone on fifth avenue and get away with it. and he's right to think that he can order the genocide of the kurds against the national interest of the united states and in the personal interests of both trump himself and of vladimir putin.

second, trumpist interpretations of law might not even be incorrect, — perhaps the laws of the united states as established through convention over the past 200 years actually do implicitly specify that a president with a political party backing him in the legislative branch is effectively a caesar.

i have longstanding beef with that quote, largely because the view of the world that social media grants me has a statistically improbably large number of center-right liberal lawyers who absolutely positively think that that specific quote from man for all seasons automatically wins any argument.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:47 AM on November 7, 2019 [29 favorites]


The GOP is really in a bind — if they vote to impeach, their base will either revolt or abandon them at the polls for turning on Trump. And they won’t gain a single vote from outside the base because Democrats won’t forgive their complicity over the past three years and independent voters will view them as hypocritical and untrustworthy.

Are they really? The American electorate has shown time and time again that it has both the memory of a goldfish and really hates to vote to better themselves if the wrong people also benefit. Not to mention the Democrats, wanting to unilaterally appeal to bipartisanship, will reliably let Republicans throw any spanner in the works for 40 votes in the Senate.

McConnell doesn't need to be majority leader. He can just stand on the sidelines and put a hold on any and every Democratic bill that comes across. A regional white supremacist Republican minority in the Senate can effectively become bomb throwers. At that point, what do Democrats do. You can't win every election pointing at 40-50 intransigent Senators over and over. When the electorate tires of Democratic ineptness due to progressive goals being stalled, where do they turn? They vote in Republicans to "shake things up" or "because we need a change" and then the really evil shit happens again.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:51 AM on November 7, 2019 [16 favorites]



I don't agree with all of this analysis but it's a nice recap of Graham's weird behavior and reversal of most of his stances:
Hidden Motives Behind GOP Leaders Cooperation With Trump
posted by benzenedream at 4:41 PM on November 5 [5 favorites +] [!]


I had put this on a tab for future reading, and now the future was here and I strongly recommend it. It's a year old, and some of their predictions have come to fruit (yes, the NRA are a Russian asset), some haven't (no, while we don't really know what's in the Mueller report, it does not seem to contain an unraveling of the the whole Republican Party).
Lindsey Graham is also on our roster of Congress members behaving in an unreasonable fashion. Most striking is the senator’s dramatic reversal in tone and words regarding the president, coupled with his unprecedented characterologic shift. Graham’s remarkable pivot is especially noteworthy, because the senator has been long known for his predictable, principled and independent character style; these traits were all on display in his May 2016 remarks, when he stated that he would not be voting for Trump in the general election, asserting that the Republican Party had been “conned.” For many years, Graham was one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics. In 2015, he described Donald Trump as a “race-baiting xenophobic bigot.” In 2016, Graham said of Trump: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.” During the first eight months of Trump’s presidency, Graham continued to criticize Trump: On July 27th, 2017, Graham stated that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Trump were to fire Jeff Sessions; the senator added that if the president fired Sessions in order to thwart Robert Mueller’s investigation, this act would mark the “beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.”
Graham’s striking U-turn took place later in 2017, when he suddenly became one of the president’s staunchest allies and almost overnight. In October of 2017, Graham played golf with Trump for the first time — and twice in the same week. During their week of golf dates, the LA Times reports that “…other senators have said Trump and Graham now talk so frequently it’s as if they are on speed-dial with one another.” Based upon the timing of his dramatic shift and their golf games, we assume that the conversations Senator Graham had with Trump on the golf course played a role in his sharp reversal.
Following their October 2017 tête-à-tête, Graham began to contradict himself in a way that was totally out of character for him. In November of 2017, the senator repudiated his earlier remarks on Trump’s character, stating: “What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label [Trump] as some kind of kook, not fit to be President.” And Graham now claims that he has “never heard him (Trump) make a single racist statement.” And in August of 2018, Senator Graham defended Trump’s desire to fire Jeff Sessions, insisting that the president is “entitled to an attorney general he has faith in.”
posted by mumimor at 6:58 AM on November 7, 2019 [14 favorites]


Not sure Thomas More is somebody you want to invoke as someone whose determined preservation of the law kept himself safe.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:34 AM on November 7, 2019 [20 favorites]


Ukrainian President Was Booked to Announce Biden Investigation on CNN, Says Report Daily Beast

"Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to speak on CNN, and Zelensky’s staff planned for him to make an announcement on September 13 in an interview with the network's Fareed Zakaria. However, two days before the scheduled interview, news of the military aid delay leaked and Congress was furious."

So close it's terrifying me.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:53 AM on November 7, 2019 [37 favorites]


Impeachment probe turns to Pence adviser who heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian leader < WaPo
posted by Harry Caul at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2019 [8 favorites]


For everyone lamenting the state of civics in this country, I wanted to share that my mom's a Boomer. She's 66 years old. When I brought up impeachment with her, the response I got was:
No president has ever been impeached. Can you imagine? We can't let that happen! There would be rioting in the streets, Unicorn. It's never happened before, the government would just fall apart. We wouldn't know how to function as a society if the president was removed from office. What they really need to do is investigate Obama, and Hillary for ordering all those Benghazi murders.
My mom, everybody. Who lived through the Clinton impeachment. Who lived through Nixon. Who remains blissfully unaware that there were YEARS of Benghazi hearings covered live on C-SPAN... during a 3-year period in which she was 100% unemployed and did nothing at all but watch TV at home by herself. Sadly, we share an Amazon Prime account and I can see she's also an avid fan of Dinesh D'Souza.

I absolutely do not have faith in the general public's ability to grok impeachment as a civics concept taught in our schools, much less how it's supposed to work in actual practice.

If anyone has a coherent strategy on how to get through to people like my mother, who both have lived through and been taught the facts but somehow cannot remember or pay attention to them, please let me know. I'm all out of patience at this point.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:33 AM on November 7, 2019 [43 favorites]


Guardian:
Trump is still rage-tweeting about the Washington Post scoop that attorney general William Barr refused a Trump request to go on TV and say a call between Trump and the Ukrainian president definitely, positively did not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

“We both deny this story, which they knew before they wrote it,” Trump tweeted.

Barr appears not to have denied the story, except in the dreamscape of Trump’s Twitter, where anything truly is possible.
posted by katra at 8:40 AM on November 7, 2019 [15 favorites]


If anyone has a coherent strategy on how to get through to people like my mother, who both have lived through and been taught the facts but somehow cannot remember or pay attention to them, please let me know. I'm all out of patience at this point.

I just try to remind myself that polls find roughly 50% support for impeaching Trump even before public hearings and that people like this are clearly not part of the 50%. Not everyone is going to be reachable -- Murdoch and Ailes have made maximizing that number their lives' work. We need to keep in mind that "not everyone" is still a pretty big number, instead of chasing people who've walled themselves off in Fox-land.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:47 AM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


If anyone has a coherent strategy on how to get through to people like my mother, who both have lived through and been taught the facts but somehow cannot remember or pay attention to them, please let me know.

Your mom is telling you that she does not and will not care about facts. She cares about grievance, power, and hierarchical dominance. Stop wasting your energy on her and put it somewhere that can help nullify or remove her own political power in support of fascism.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:49 AM on November 7, 2019 [44 favorites]


We're talking about people who looked at pictures of an empty Washington Mall but still believed Trump when he says that he had the biggest inaugural ever. I don't think that there's any reaching them.
posted by octothorpe at 8:59 AM on November 7, 2019 [15 favorites]


Bolton willing to defy White House and testify if court clears the way, according to people familiar with his views (WaPo)
Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the way, according to people familiar with his views.

Bolton could be a powerful witness for Democrats: Top State Department and national security officials have already testified that he was deeply concerned about efforts by Trump and his allies to push Ukraine to open investigations into the president’s political rivals while the Trump administration held up military aid to that country. The former national security adviser, who abruptly left his post in September, is expected to confirm their statements and describe his conversations with Trump, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry.

However, Bolton, a longtime GOP foreign policy adviser, does not want to comply with the Democratic inquiry without a court ruling on the ongoing constitutional dispute between the Trump administration and Congress, the people said. It remains unclear how quickly that could happen — and whether it would be in time for Bolton to be called as a witness in the public House impeachment hearings, which are scheduled to begin next week. On Wednesday, House Democrats said they are awaiting a key test case involving former White House counsel Donald McGahn, in which a district-court decision could come by the end of this month. [...]

His testimony is expected to be “damaging” to Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.
posted by katra at 9:04 AM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Impeachment probe turns to Pence adviser who heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian leader (WaPo)
Pence did meet with Zelensky in Warsaw on the sidelines of a World War II commemoration Sept. 1, after Trump pulled out to monitor a hurricane barreling toward Florida. The meeting came just days after the Ukrainians learned Trump had frozen $391 million in military aid earmarked for the country. [...] At the time, the Ukrainians were crestfallen that they were not going to be able to make their case for the aid directly to the president. [...] In his meeting with the Ukrainians, Pence was evasive regarding the reasons for the hold on aid, telling Zelensky and his team that Trump was eager to see them do more to tackle corruption and that he was frustrated that the European allies weren’t providing more support. He promised he’d raise the issue of the frozen aid with the president that evening when he got back to Washington.

[...] Williams likely would have briefed Pence ahead of his meeting with Zelensky. She also was one of a handful of U.S. officials on Trump’s controversial July 25 call with Zelensky in which Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to open an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter [...] Officials close to Pence said he wasn’t aware of the demands Trump made of Zelensky on the call even though Pence likely received a rough transcript of the conversation in his nightly briefing book. As Pence’s top adviser on Ukraine matters, Williams would have been responsible for ensuring that Pence knew what happened on the call.
Guardian: Pence aide arrives for impeachment testimony
Pence, who of course would prefer not to be linked to what John Bolton called a “drug deal,” has dodged questions about the quid pro quo. What will Williams, a career foreign service officer who also listened to the 25 July phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, have to say?
Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) The day after Sondland’s pull-aside with Ukraine, PENCE wouldn’t answer this: 🤔

“Can you assure Ukraine that the hold-up of that money has absolutely nothing to do with efforts, including by Rudy Giuliani, to try to dig up dirt on the Biden family?” https://t.co/EsygQiAuo8 pic.twitter.com/bDR8yC0Ies
November 5, 2019
posted by katra at 9:26 AM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the way

That's a strange way to word it. He's not defying the White House. He is dutifully complying with the White House to defy a legal subpoena. He's not waiting for a federal court to "clear the way." The court is going to tell him to stop defying a legal subpoena and to haul his ass to congress.
posted by JackFlash at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2019 [19 favorites]


That's a strange way to word it.

Or, he's saying that he's not going to sit in jail, i.e. continue to comply with White House demands to defy a subpoena, after a court determines that a subpoena is lawful and enforceable. Per WaPo, Bolton has not been issued a subpoena, at least, not yet.
posted by katra at 9:39 AM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Fun fact: Nothing is enforceable unless someone actually enforces it.
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:42 AM on November 7, 2019 [30 favorites]


Before he became President, Trump would threaten people with lawsuits they couldn't afford to deal with. He's probably found some "presidential" version of that.
posted by mumimor at 9:43 AM on November 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


If anyone has a coherent strategy on how to get through to people like my mother, who both have lived through and been taught the facts but somehow cannot remember or pay attention to them, please let me know.
Your mom is telling you that she does not and will not care about facts. She cares about grievance, power, and hierarchical dominance. Stop wasting your energy on her and put it somewhere that can help nullify or remove her own political power in support of fascism.


One interesting thing is how this process has changed since Nixon. In those days, those on the right similarly didn't care about facts very much, but were also utterly ignorant of almost everything, including false information. These days they similarly don't care about the facts but also have a large number of very specific and very false opinions that they've gathered from cable news and social media. In the old days, they were essentially trapped in an information desert: their options were ignorance, or paying attention to a small number of news sources that were essentially all centrist (the networks, most major newspapers). They mainly retained ignorance, mostly because they didn't care, partially because the information there was to be had largely undercut their preferred beliefs. But occasionally circumstances would force them to consume news info from the centrist establishment, and that would in fact sway the opinion of quite a few people: eg, the Nixon hearings, when nearly half of all Republicans switched from pro- to anti-Nixon.

That would never happen today though: there is nothing forcing these people to consume centrist news any more if they want to follow a big national event, and instead they will just consume more fake, far-right news. So it's possible that if anything, Republican and Republican-leaning independents may become more, rather than less, pro-Trump as they consume more right-wing news about impeachment as it rises in prominence. There is a slight silver lining though if one wants a glimmer of optimism: the picture painted here is one where media and information does make a difference, and people's opinions aren't truly immovable and can shift a bit on specific issues, such as millions of Republicans turning agains Nixon. The problem is that the past mechanisms for this -- basically forcing them to consume hundreds of hours of hearings and centrist commentary on them -- are now impossible. And the effects of Fox news and (possibly) social media confirm that the only way these media diets actually affect (instead of just reflect) opinion is when they are consumed by the hundreds of hours. So that's a tall order for anyone to do to another person, let alone one's mom. But if we ever can think of some way to change people's information diet on the order of hundreds of hours, it could have a real effect. A slim silver lining, I know!
posted by chortly at 9:45 AM on November 7, 2019 [10 favorites]


Schiff has set out three core questions that any impeachment witness must be able to address:

1) Whether Trump asked foreign leaders/governments to initiate investigations for his personal political benefit, including an investigation of his potential 2020 opponent(s).

2) Whether Trump himself or "through agents" attempted to use government powers to pressure Ukraine to advance his political interests, including withholding military aid or conditioning an Oval Office meeting on agreeing to his demands.

3) Whether Trump and the administration as a whole sought to "obstruct, suppress or cover up information" on his "actions and conduct."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:46 AM on November 7, 2019 [10 favorites]


Per WaPo, Bolton has not been issued a subpoena, at least, not yet.

Thanks. My mistake.
posted by JackFlash at 9:49 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


Schiff has set out three core questions that any impeachment witness must be able to address

Drop the "whether" from each of these, which one can do because much corroborating information is in the public domain anyway, and there you have the articles of impeachment.
posted by Gelatin at 9:54 AM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'd still like to include obstruction of justice (the 10 examples from the Mueller report) and emoluments (in progress).
posted by kirkaracha at 10:03 AM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


Impeachment transcripts reveal a consistent, damaging narrative for Trump (Politico)
The witness testimonies released so far are all aligned, offering Democrats a powerful political weapon in public hearings next week.
House investigators have stitched together a uniquely Trumpian narrative — one of retribution against perceived enemies, defiance of diplomatic norms and a pervasive fear that Russia would benefit from the disarray, all to help Trump fend off his top 2020 rival.

And while the storyline could develop further as the transcripts of the half-dozen other witness interviews are released, Democrats have emphasized that the basic foundation of their case to impeach the president for an extraordinary abuse of power remains unchanged — and has only been strengthened by the transcripts that are being released to the public.

In fact, Democrats have argued for weeks that sufficient evidence exists in plain sight to believe that Trump committed impeachable offenses, most notably in the rough transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. [...]

In interviews, GOP lawmakers are picking apart the diplomats’ testimony and echoing Trump’s denials of a quid pro quo, essentially arguing that Trump’s denials are more powerful than a cadre of diplomats’ consistent testimony. [...] Trump’s allies have also questioned whether Giuliani’s push for an investigation of Biden was done in tandem with Trump. But Giuliani re-asserted Wednesday that all of his actions were done on behalf of his client, the president — further undercutting the argument that the former New York mayor was a rogue actor.

Democrats believe there is only one Ukraine story to tell, supported by mountains of corroborating evidence and testimony from witnesses whose recollections buttress each other. The public will soon hear it in broad daylight.
posted by katra at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


In interviews, GOP lawmakers are picking apart the diplomats’ testimony and echoing Trump’s denials of a quid pro quo

And Democrats should remind the media, which seems to have swallowed the Republican framing -- surprise, surprise! -- that quid pro quo is really the issue, that Trump having asked foreign governments to interfere in the US election is an impeachable abuse of power all by itself, even if Trump offered or delivered nothing in return.
posted by Gelatin at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


If anyone has a coherent strategy on how to get through to people like my mother, who both have lived through and been taught the facts but somehow cannot remember or pay attention to them, please let me know.

Hi, I'm a certificated social studies teacher, and I'm here to tell you that civics is the easiest thing to teach in the whole subject field, if not the easiest "academic" thing of all at the high school level. It's just some rules. The Constitution isn't even dense writing, and there are buckets of videos out there to make it all easy to understand. People working toward their citizenship in this country have to learn the system as written--and a lot of them pull it off with limited fluency in English, but we apparently give a pass to people who were born here many decades ago.

The issue isn't the difficulty of the subject. Rust Moranis is correct; this isn't ignorance or inability, it's a choice. Many people prefer their preconceptions and conspiracy theories to evidence and reality. This is a big portion of where "OK, Boomer" comes from.
And I would also point out that despite the devaluing of social studies over the last couple of decades thanks to NCLB and standardized testing and the rest, it's not younger people who have landed us in this mess. Someone pointed that out to me here on the blue a while back and it's absolutely true. Yes, our system is a mess, and no, the kids aren't fooled anyway.

I would suggest confronting people with their ignorance and asking them if they really want to understand--with the understanding that many will say no.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:22 AM on November 7, 2019 [49 favorites]


The Daily 202: The high price of loyalty in Trump’s ‘snake pit’ (James Hohmann, WaPo paywall)
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump expects unflinching loyalty from those who work for him. The price of that loyalty can be quite high. So, too, can the costs of perceived disloyalty.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:32 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Someday, maybe in an Errol Morris interview, Bill Barr will claim his refusal to hold a press conference stating the Ukraine call wasn't criminal was his own act of resistance.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:36 AM on November 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


Your mom is telling you that she does not and will not care about facts. She cares about grievance, power, and hierarchical dominance.

Precisely. This is the in-group/out-group conservative mantra stated plainly. This election (and many others, frankly) haven't been about issues or values or qualifications to many Americans; they have been about restoring what they view as a rightful order to America, one in which the Republican base considers itself a privileged class and demands candidates who will keep them that way. One in which, as one Republican constituent so fittingly put it, "he'd be hurting the RIGHT people."

Likewise, the _vast_ majority of Republican Senators know that Trump and his cronies are filthy as hell with fraud, graft and impeachable offenses, crimes for which any Democratic President would be crucified on the White House lawn. They're not fully stupid individuals. It's right there in front of them. (I wish that I could say the same about the Republican House, but, well... Louie Gohmert and Matt Gaetz exist.)

But this trial, should it actually arrive, isn't about guilt; it's about optics. It's about simple electoral calculus by each Senate member; am I more damaged _with_ or _without_ Trump? Will I pay a bigger price for standing by Trump and quoting the party line, choosing to deny everything that doesn't have absolute hard and undeniable evidence backing it up, keeping in mind that a solid chunk of Republican voters _do not care at all_ about evidence? Or is his collapse inevitable and, when it happens, will he take me down with him?

In the short term, the answer is obvious: voting against Trump is individual political suicide for GOP Senators. A sudden mass defection might actually prove better for the _party_; imagine a Thanksgiving-ish removal, then some new candidate emerging in the spring running on AVENGING TRUMP!, winning primaries by appealing to Trumpoids' anger but not being _quite_ as demonstrably compromised or clueless about how modern politics actually work. But that still requires those individual senators to bite the bullet, metaphorically speaking, and each take one for the team.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that.
posted by delfin at 10:47 AM on November 7, 2019 [13 favorites]


My guess right now is that the Democrats will fairly and openly present absolute hard and undeniable evidence backing up the impeachment counts, the Senate will acquit along mostly party lines, and voters will punish Trump and the Republicans in November. (Again, assuming the Democrats present a solid case.) I believe people are eager to vote Trump out of office, and some people will turn on Republicans if they blatantly ignore solid evidence.

If removal from office goes up in the polls, it will shock you how few Senate Republicans ever supported Trump.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:02 AM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


The Simplest Explanation Is That William Barr Sees the Writing on the Wall
The most obvious one is to speculate that Barr knows that the president* is as guilty as all the evidence clearly indicates he is. Perhaps Barr is seeking somehow to rehabilitate himself as a respectable establishment figure within the government, the reputation he had before he put his integrity on layaway down at Camp Runamuck. (Not that anything he’s done since has been at odds with the image of a Republican Winston Wolf that Barr built in the extended denouement of the Iran-Contra scandal.) It merely could be one more rodent down the ratline.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:19 AM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Trump: "I won't settle this case."

Narrator: Trump settles the case -- by paying a penalty of $2 million.

This is the New York civil case against Trump and his children for cheating and self-dealing from the Trump Foundation charity.

According to the lawsuit, the Trumps allowed the foundation to be used "as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's business and political interests."
posted by JackFlash at 11:21 AM on November 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


Per WaPo, Bolton has not been issued a subpoena, at least, not yet.

Ok, so wait, Bolton is saying that he will comply with a subpoena, that doesn't exist, as long as the courts order him to, possibly many months from now?
Nancy Pelosi: "Oh honey, you don't need to go fishing for a subpoena...we've got tons of testimony against you already! Why would we need your story when we've already got your number? We're just going to leave you over here in the big pile marked "Bad Guys."
posted by sexyrobot at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


I believe people are eager to vote Trump out of office, and some people will turn on Republicans if they blatantly ignore solid evidence.

People in general? Sure. People in states that elect these GOP Senators? Well...

The Presidential election turned on a relatively small number of votes in particular states. But there aren't a whole lot of GOP senators up for reelection in 2020 who won by less than 10% the last time around, and they have watched the rise of Trump's cult of personality since then. If they defy Trump and turn on him, are they more likely to be punished enough at the general election to lose... or to be immediately primaried and defeated by some Trumpoid bomb-thrower?

It depends on just how solid "solid" evidence is, and whether the combination of general political apathy and the Mirror Universe Media fog cloud can obscure it from the faithful.
posted by delfin at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Impeachment investigators pressing forward without John Bolton (Andrew Desiderio, Politico)
House impeachment investigators are moving on from John Bolton.

The former national security adviser refused to appear for his scheduled deposition Thursday morning, a House Intelligence Committee official said, and his lawyer informed the panel that Bolton would take the House to court if he is subpoenaed.

So instead of fighting a court battle that could take months, the official added, Bolton’s refusal to testify will be used as evidence of obstruction of Congress against President Donald Trump.

“We regret Mr. Bolton’s decision not to appear voluntarily, but we have no interest in allowing the administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months,” the official said. “Rather, the White House instruction that he not appear will add to the evidence of the president’s obstruction of Congress.”
Fair enough.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2019 [35 favorites]


House Withdraws Impeachment Subpoena To Ex-NSC Aide (Nicole Lafond, TPM)
House Democrats said in a new court filing Wednesday they had dropped their subpoena of former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman on Tuesday and did not intend to reissue it. They requested that the lawsuit that Kupperman filed to compel the courts to determine whether he should appear for impeachment testimony be dropped. […]

It’s unclear why Democrats dropped the Kupperman subpoena, but most speculate that it’s a sign that Democrats don’t want to prolong proceedings with court battles and likely have enough evidence to more forward with their inquiry.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


Good to know I can just blow off a subpoena if I ever get one.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


It’s unclear why Democrats dropped the Kupperman subpoena, but most speculate that it’s a sign that Democrats don’t want to prolong proceedings with court battles and likely have enough evidence to more forward with their inquiry.

Failure to comply is yet more evidence of obstruction.

https://fortune.com/2019/10/17/white-house-obstruction-subpoena-pence-giuliani/
"All the committees have made it very clear that they will treat a refusal to appear to comply with a lawfully-issued subpoena or to produce documents as evidence of obstruction of Congress, which in and of itself, can be a basis for impeachment of the president," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), "It is my hope at least that we will not engage in a months-long litigation."
posted by mikelieman at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


The Democratic leadership is still operating under the assumptions that (1) the evidence as it currently exists will not be enough to convict in the Senate (likely true), (2) no major new evidence is likely to emerge from an extended impeachment process (unknown), and (3) an impeachment process that extends into the spring or summer will hurt either the primary process or Democrats more broadly (unknown). Assuming all three things, they really just want to get it over with -- deliver the hits they can, knock Trump down a couple points if possible, and then move on to the primary process and election season. Everything they are doing has been dedicated to either avoiding impeachment, or moving through it as quickly as possible. And if you believe (1) - (3), that's not unreasonable, though I myself doubt both (2) and (3).
posted by chortly at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


Curious to consider what will happen with all of the 'failed to comply' people in a Senate trial...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:13 PM on November 7, 2019


As per the Post story excerpt from katra upthread, it seems Democrats dropped the Kupperman subpoena and are holding off on Bolton's because we're getting closer to the court ruling on McGahn, which would be some sort of precedent.
House lawyers said that in the interest of speed, they would rely on another case that is further along in judicial proceedings — one involving a subpoena to McGahn, whose testimony was first sought in April after the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.
...
U.S. District Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson in Washington heard oral arguments in the McGahn case last week and said she would probably issue an opinion before the end of November.
posted by martin q blank at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


I see the reasoning behind letting Bolton and Kupperman off the hook for the subpoenas, but I still feel like the "noncompliance will be considered evidence of obstruction" thing is a lame copout. The Dems seem dead set on getting through the whole impeachment process without ever enforcing a subpoena, thus ensuring that the administration's obstruction is effective in keeping a whole range of misconduct under wraps. Doing the minimum needed to bring this "focused" impeachment investigation to a conclusion, apparently by excluding a bunch of obviously impeachable behaviour--ranging from emoluments violations to the Stormy Daniels payoff to the obstruction detailed in the Mueller report to stuff we don't even know about--means the Democrats are effectively making this into a kind of show trial that weakens their credibility when they talk about "grave constitutional duties" and whatnot. What did I expect, I guess.
posted by Dr. Send at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Anyone who thinks the House Democrats are trying to rush through the impeachment process and let it fail must be smoking something rather potent. Here's Adam Schiff's Impeachment Game Plan.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:37 PM on November 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


My fantasy is Robocop.
I do not advocate sitting back and waiting for a superhero to come and save us. We need to do the work.
Nevertheless, I wish there was a Gomer out there.
posted by MtDewd at 12:39 PM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


As has been stated several times upthread and in the prior ITMFA thread, enforcing a subpoena would take many many many months as things wend their way through the courts, which effectively freezes the impeachment process in place until well into the 2020 campaign, which is exactly what Tr*mp and his henchmen would want.

By the time this process is over, Adam Schiff will deserve a Medal of Honor, an OBE, a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, and some sweet snuggles from everyone here who still thinks the Democrats aren't deadly serious about ITMFA *and* CTMFA.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2019 [14 favorites]


The tightrope I see them walking is making the case that these crimes are serious enough to warrant removal, while avoiding debates wide-ranging enough that Republicans can muddy the waters to their (hypothetical) hearts' content.

Even without trying to convert the unconvertable, it's a real challenge to communicate what happened, how we know it happened and why it's Extremely Bad when half the room involved in that discussion is willing to do anything up to and only probably not including actual murders to stop you from making your case, especially when you consider that the people who're paying close enough attention to easily grok it are for the most part already on their side.

The more this one extremely focused scandal plays out, the more I think trying to make that case over the constant, rising din of Republican disinformation would be like trying to fill a wine glass from an open fire hydrant.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:53 PM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Above the Law: Rudy Hires New Lawyers To Stand By Helplessly And Watch Him Admit To Crimes On Twitter
Hosanna! Rudy Giuliani, the world’s worst client, has finally gotten himself competent counsel. Which he celebrated by going online to declare once again that his entire Ukraine project was for the personal benefit of his beloved client, Donald J. Trump, not in service of America’s interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. He’s always helping!
[...]
There are a whole lot of white-collar attorneys in New York, and yet Rudy picked the guy whom the Mueller Report describes approaching Michael Cohen to be a “back channel” to Donald Trump’s legal team after Cohen had decided to flip? REALLY?
posted by jocelmeow at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2019 [26 favorites]


Yet again, Sondland has some more 'splaining to do.

"Gordon Sondland, a U.S. ambassador to the EU, previously testified he didn’t recall telling Yonovitch to tweet out her support of Trump. Yovanovitch said Sondland gave her the advice as she was looking for help in dealing with the false smears against her. Kent, in testimony, not only backed Yovanovitch’s account, but said Sondland proposed the idea in an email."

Where are the emails? Russia? Ukraine? Seriously, though, failure to archive official emails within 20 days is a federal crime.
posted by JackFlash at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2019 [10 favorites]


sondland testified (fwiw) that he provided all his coms (belatedly, at insistence & w/ assistance of counsel) to state department, and, in testimony prep (which he variously described as minimal & as consuming a lot of his attention) requested copies, which state declined to provide. … except for those he may have deleted before counsel helped him comply with the law.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:00 PM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


[Let's please let the Robocop etc. stuff drop.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:11 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


missed edit. that may be just text/whatsap coms, rather than email. see, testimony at 363 et seq. somewhere else (a few pages earlier?) he mentioned using personal email but usually trying to copy his state department address.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:11 PM on November 7, 2019


House GOP looks to protect Trump by raising doubts about motives of his deputies
House Republicans’ latest plan to shield President Trump from impeachment is to focus on at least three deputies — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and possibly acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who they say could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bus tolls,
It tolls for thee.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:08 PM on November 7, 2019 [22 favorites]


not in schiff, pelosi, or hoyer's district. their sites don't take comments from strangers. non-phone way to digitally rant to them re subpoenas? mods, del if this is properly an askmefi.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:48 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


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

So, either he ordered them to do this, or else he's so incompetent that he's unaware of what his deputies are doing on his behalf. And isn't Rudy, as the personal lawyer, admitting to some level of professional malfeasance by saying that he's acting on his client's behalf without direction or instruction from his client?

I mean, I'm not sure it matters because nobody is ever held accountable for their role in this ongoing shitshow, but I feel it's important to note for the record.
posted by nubs at 8:05 PM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


FTFY

Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bus trolls,
It trolls for thee.
posted by bardophile at 8:16 PM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


House GOP looks to protect Trump by raising doubts about motives of his deputies

Whoops, forgot the money quote:
All three occupy a special place in the Ukraine narrative as the people in most direct contact with Trump. As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 PM on November 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

This is where rock starts to meet hard place for them, because this is a really ugly argument to have to make right before an election. Oh, for the days when they were only the best people.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:47 PM on November 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

How does that work when Trump has shared and promoted his perfect phone call in which he was repeatedly and clearly extorting the Ukrainian leader exactly as per the "secret" backchannel that Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were pursuing behind his back without his knowledge?!?

Incredible synchronicity! Serendipity! Wow!!!1
posted by Meatbomb at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


The old "I'm the innocent one and I'm surrounded by criminals!" strategy.
posted by rhizome at 10:41 PM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Book by ‘Anonymous’ describes Trump as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation
The author portrays Trump as fearful of coups against him and suspicious of note-takers on his staff. According to the book, the president shouted at an aide who was scribbling in a notebook during a meeting, “What the [expletive] are you doing?” He added, “Are you [expletive] taking notes?” The aide apologized and closed the notebook.
"Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy? What the fuck is you thinkin', man?"
posted by kirkaracha at 10:45 PM on November 7, 2019 [10 favorites]


As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

That strategy worked back with Reagan and Bush when "The Presidency" was a noble institution and there were (misguided) people who thought protecting it was an honorable thing to do. Now? Neither Sondland, Giuliani or Mulvaney are going to go to jail for Trump, if they can avoid it by telling the truth. What are the Republican leadership even thinking?
posted by mumimor at 11:33 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Trump’s Top Aides Clash Over Impeachment as House Probe Expands (Bloomberg/MSN)
Two of Donald Trump’s most senior aides, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, are clashing over who should direct the president’s response to the House impeachment inquiry, according to people familiar with the matter. [...] The animosity between two of the highest-ranking administration officials threatens to further muddle Trump’s impeachment defense as the White House struggles to respond to a torrent of revelations in the House probe. The White House’s strategy hinges on keeping congressional Republicans unified by portraying the probe as a partisan and illegitimate exercise. [...]

As the personal dispute escalates, Trump’s Republican allies in the Senate are growing concerned that the White House defense is inadequate as more damaging information is released about his efforts to get Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately expressed to the White House that he is dissatisfied with the administration’s strategy, one of the people said. McConnell’s office declined to comment.

McConnell has yet to offer a vigorous public defense of Trump’s conduct. The Kentucky Republican also allowed passage of a September resolution pushed by Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York urging the White House to let lawmakers see a whistle-blower’s complaint about the president’s actions.
posted by katra at 11:35 PM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Trump’s demands of Ukraine came down to three words: ‘Investigations, Biden and Clinton,’ official’s testimony states (WaPo/MSN)
A senior State Department official described in perhaps the starkest terms to date President Trump’s shadow efforts to force Ukraine’s leadership to open investigations that would benefit him politically, according to a transcript of his impeachment inquiry testimony released Thursday.

Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, who oversaw Ukraine policy, told lawmakers that Trump demanded that the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announce investigations into the 2016 U.S. election, Trump’s former rival Hillary Clinton and former vice president Joe Biden, a possible 2020 challenger, in exchange for an Oval Office meeting.

Trump “wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to a microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,” Kent told House impeachment investigators. [...]

By mid-August, Kent grew worried that the Trump administration was withholding a White House visit, and possibly the military aid, to force the Zelensky administration to dig up dirt on the Bidens. He detailed his concerns that such “politically motivated prosecutions were injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S.” in an internal memo and informed a supervisor, he said.
posted by katra at 11:48 PM on November 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


Pence aide said Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine was political and not a normal diplomatic call (CNN)
Williams testified that she had limited information about why military aid was being withheld from Ukraine. She was puzzled about it, but was kept in the dark about the decision-making process. [...] However, Williams suggested to lawmakers she believed it could be tied to what she heard on the call: Trump's request that Ukraine open investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election, a third source familiar with the testimony told CNN.
posted by katra at 12:03 AM on November 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


It’s too late to save yourself now, Bill Barr
By Dana Milbank, WaPo opinion
In my news colleagues’ latest scoop, The Post’s Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report that the attorney general declined to fulfill President Trump’s request that he publicly exonerate Trump’s “perfect” call with Ukraine’s president — following several actions recently in which “the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House.”
Right. Like a barnacle seeks distance from a whale.
Barr's devotion to Trump is a bit of a mystery. Milbank even mentions that he is hosting a big party at the Trump International Hotel, so he isn't just defending the indefensible for free, like Giuliani, he's paying to do it. But why? It's clear that he thinks Republican administrations should be able to do more or less what they like, and his politics are sick, but apart from that he seemed like a relatively straight-laced person till now. What's wrong with him?
posted by mumimor at 6:57 AM on November 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Not to abuse the edit window: the other leading officials in the administration at this point in time were clearly corrupt and inept already at the time of their confirmation, and the Republican leaders in Congress are acting like cult members. To me, Barr seems different.
posted by mumimor at 7:00 AM on November 8, 2019


I think he was just doing a better job than most of keeping up appearances.
posted by contraption at 7:06 AM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Barr's devotion to Trump is a bit of a mystery.

Why do they all support him? Because they agree with him! They think he's getting their policies done! It's not really a mystery: Barr is a far-right "law and order" (racist policing) Republican ghoul, who as Attorney General wrote a position paper on why the incarceration rate is too low, and Trump is a far-right law and order Republican who would imprison everyone he dislikes if he could.
posted by dis_integration at 8:02 AM on November 8, 2019 [20 favorites]


To me, Barr seems different.

He's not. He's always been precisely as partisan and hacky as the political culture allowed him to be. He just disappeared for a little while so you couldn't trace a gradual descent from Bush I-era genteel racist to Trump-era shitty cultist. He's tlike that guy you went to junior high with, but then his family moved away, and now you wind up at the same college, and he seems so different even though you and everyone else have changed just as much.
posted by Etrigan at 8:12 AM on November 8, 2019 [12 favorites]


Barr was the architect of the Iran Contra pardons of HW Bush. He’s been corrupt and power hungry forever.
posted by rockindata at 8:17 AM on November 8, 2019 [23 favorites]


I don't think anyone would be surprised about Barr if he didn't look like the sleepytime tea bear
posted by theodolite at 8:44 AM on November 8, 2019 [31 favorites]


j_curiouser: "not in schiff, pelosi, or hoyer's district. their sites don't take comments from strangers. non-phone way to digitally rant to them re subpoenas?"

FaxZero lets you send free faxes to Representatives and Senators (and even your Governor!) - I think it's five free faxes a day. Pretty easy to throw together a quick .doc or .pdf file and fax it on over.
posted by kristi at 9:24 AM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


nubs: "nobody is ever held accountable for their role in this ongoing shitshow"

There are lots of comments saying similar things, and I'd just like to remind everyone that Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, and Alex van der Zwaan all received jail time for their roles in the national catastrophe. Others are still awaiting sentencing.

I would have liked all of them to get harsher sentences, but I think it's important to remember that not everyone is getting off free and clear, and I'm sure Manafort and Cohen in particular never thought they'd spend a day in jail, and I'm happy to see them proven wrong.
posted by kristi at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2019 [38 favorites]


And Roger Stone is undergoing his trial right now, today. He's the direct link between Donald Trump and the Russians via Wikileaks.
posted by JackFlash at 9:50 AM on November 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


And Flynn is awaiting sentencing, too! Aside from the folks in jail, I also like to remember all those who thought they could ride the Trump wave and ended up losing their jobs and/or influence. Jeff Sessions quit the Senate (and his seat went to a Democrat!) just to get fired by Trump nine months later. Paul Ryan is out of the House. Steve Bannon is out of both the White House and Breitbart, and went on to advise the losing Republican campaign to keep Sessions' Senate seat. Sean Spicer is now the worst contestant on Dancing With the Stars. There's a pretty amazing list of people who would be better off if they had never associated themselves with Trump.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:53 AM on November 8, 2019 [19 favorites]


According to Errill Morris in his Preet Bharara interview, Bannon is again advising Trump.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


A second call begins to seep through the cracks. They have had plenty of time to edit this one, but who knows...
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:58 AM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


In the Roger Stone Trial, Trump Is Also in the Dock (NYT Editorial Board)
“Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” the lead prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, said in his opening remarks to jurors on Wednesday.

The truth, according to texts and emails whose existence Mr. Stone had denied, is that he eagerly sought information about the emails from WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that accepted thousands of messages from Russian hackers operating under the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0, and that he was in frequent contact with Mr. Trump and campaign officials during that time.

He bragged to Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, and Steve Bannon, a key strategist, that he had a way to help Mr. Trump win the election, telling Mr. Bannon in an email that “it ain’t pretty.” [...] the evidence that prosecutors have presented so far indicates that Mr. Stone was far more involved with outreach to WikiLeaks than the Mueller report revealed and that Mr. Trump was more directly connected to Mr. Stone’s email efforts than had been known.
posted by katra at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2019 [9 favorites]


'Second call' is the same as not-the-impeachable-July-call. Trump leading the compliant media circus is situation normal. This is pathetic.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Guardian: Key highlights from Hill and Vindman’s transcripts
The House committees released highlights of key passages in the transcripts (which combined are 786 pages long).

[...] Hill’s testimony highlights [are] here.

[...] Vindman’s testimony highlights [are] here.
Guardian: Hill’s transcript [is] here and Vindman’s here.
posted by katra at 10:19 AM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


Vindman has an identical twin. Script writers missed a golden opportunity for comedy high jinks.
posted by JackFlash at 10:31 AM on November 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


why tf would you give them ideas
posted by schadenfrau at 10:39 AM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


wait no on second thought that does sound funny, so why not

maybe people will actually watch the hearings themselves and not the right wing propaganda version if the real thing has got twin farce magic
posted by schadenfrau at 10:41 AM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Funny hah-hah or funny probably gonna happen?
From way up this thread, 5 days ago: Vindman's twin may be called to testify as he witnessed the decision to move the (actual) call transcript to the classified server
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:47 AM on November 8, 2019 [11 favorites]


I don't really know what to do or say about this but an artist named Carol Kitman has been photographing the Vindman twins since the 1980s. Article.
posted by theodolite at 10:51 AM on November 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


Mick Mulvaney: new testimony draws Trump chief of staff into Ukraine scandal (Guardian)
Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, “blurted out” that Mulvaney had approved [a White House meeting with the president for the Ukrainian president] if the Ukrainians announced an investigation of Burisma, a gas company that formerly employed Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, said Fiona Hill, a national security council member who was deposed last month by the congressional committees pursuing an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Hill’s account was corroborated by simultaneously released testimony by another firsthand witness to the conversation, Lt Col Alexander Vindman.

Previously released testimony has indicated a central role for Mulvaney in brokering an agreement in which Ukraine would intervene in the 2020 US election by announcing the Burisma investigation, but the Hill testimony released on Friday was the first to describe direct involvement in the plot by the acting chief of staff. [...]

More details soon…
posted by katra at 11:12 AM on November 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Republicans are throwing Giuliani under the bus. But there’s a problem. (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
Their new argument is that Giuliani — along with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Ambassador Gordon Sondland — were freelancing the organized campaign to extort Ukraine into carrying out Trump’s political bidding, and Trump had no input into it. But this argument requires one to pretend that numerous widely documented facts simply don’t exist — including repeated public statements by the president himself. [...] Sondland has repeatedly and explicitly testified that he was acting at the direction of Giuliani, with whom he conversed regularly throughout this affair — and, crucially, that Giuliani was carrying out Trump’s wishes. As Sondland put it: “Until Rudy was satisfied, the president wasn’t going to change his mind.”

What’s more, Giuliani and Trump have publicly been entirely clear, going back months, on what Trump wanted: Ukraine had to launch investigations that would validate the conspiracy theory absolving Russia of sabotaging the 2016 election for Trump and smear Joe Biden in advance of 2020. And Giuliani himself spent months publicly carrying out the whole scheme, repeatedly saying he was acting in the interests in and at the direction of his “client,” that is, Trump. [...] Trump himself flatly stated that Giuliani was his point man in carrying out his wishes with regard to Ukraine. On the July 25 call, right after Zelensky said Ukraine needs U.S. military help, Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” Trump then explicitly demanded Ukraine investigate the 2016 conspiracy theory and the Bidens. [...] Trump added: “I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call.” [...]

One last point: Trump himself has told reporters to their faces that there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with any of this. Trump has said withholding the money to force Ukraine to fight “corruption” was absolutely correct, and he’s also flatly said that he damn well did want Ukraine to “start a major investigation into the Bidens,” thus admitting this is what he truly wanted, not an investigation of generic “corruption.” In so doing, Trump seemed to be signaling to Republicans that they should unabashedly defend what Trump actually did do as absolutely fine. And so, the hapless Mulvaney admitted and defended the quid pro quo directly to reporters before rapidly taking it back. But arguably, Mulvaney was just following Trump’s cues in doing so.
posted by katra at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2019 [10 favorites]


Their new argument is that Giuliani — along with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Ambassador Gordon Sondland — were freelancing the organized campaign to extort Ukraine into carrying out Trump’s political bidding, and Trump had no input into it. But this argument requires one to pretend that numerous widely documented facts simply don’t exist

...including the fact that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden in the infamous phone call, which is of course what all this is about. The substance of the whistleblower complaint has been largely verified, regardless of whatever freelance foreign policy the Three Stooges were supposedly running.
posted by Gelatin at 12:01 PM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think the Sondland bus has been loaded up. Trump has moved on to “I hardly know the gentleman” re Sondland.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


It does seem like Bolton wants to talk:
Bolton Knows About ‘Many Relevant Meetings’ on Ukraine, Lawyer Says (NYTimes)
posted by mumimor at 3:07 PM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


Or that he's interested in suckering Democrats into a prolonged legal battle that slows the impeachment process while raising his public profile. Who knows? I do know that if you are sitting on important information relevant to an impeachment inquiry I would think it your patriotic duty to willingly testify.
posted by xammerboy at 3:28 PM on November 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


If Bolton wanted to talk, he would have already. There's literally nothing stopping him from popping in for a chat. He was invited to, and he declined.

What he wants is either to have his ass kissed in public and treated like a hero of the resistance or to bog down the process by running this whole "presidents can ignore subpoenas" BS through the courts.
posted by davros42 at 3:31 PM on November 8, 2019 [19 favorites]


The evidence that prosecutors have presented so far indicates that Mr. Stone was far more involved with outreach to WikiLeaks than the Mueller report revealed.

It's outrageous that the impeachment inquiry has uncovered more evidence than Mueller in a fraction of the time. Why would I ever put my trust or faith in the F.B.I again?
posted by xammerboy at 3:35 PM on November 8, 2019 [35 favorites]


you know what xammerboy, you are spot fucking on. like, wtf? big ass groaning leaky spotlight impeachment machine has outperformed Tight Ship Slow Methodical Mueller like whoa. wtf is the deal with that shit?
posted by lazaruslong at 3:44 PM on November 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


The Stone prosecution is not a part of the impeachment process. Stone was indicted as a result of the Mueller investigation.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 3:56 PM on November 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window, here is the Stone Indictment, signed by Robert Mueller.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:01 PM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


And, to be clear, many of the Stone-related details in the Mueller report were redacted as "harm to ongoing matter", so it isn't that this is newly discovered at trial, just newly made public.
posted by bcd at 4:04 PM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


And, to put the icing on this crapcake: Mueller specifically avoided investigating anything that might have led to uncovering Individual 1’s crimes, because of the bullshit DoJ policy that says the President is unindictable.

So of course the Schiff inquiry is finding out more about Dumbass’ crimes, because it’s actually looking at them.
posted by darkstar at 4:12 PM on November 8, 2019 [30 favorites]


The Stone prosecution is not a part of the impeachment process.

The question of whether or not Trump solicited Russia's help to interfere in the election was central to the Mueller investigation. If they were handing off or hiding key information or parts of the investigation related to this crucial question, again, I am outraged.

We waited years for that report, which revealed little more than a reporter could have found out in a month in a public library. Now we find out that Stone was bragging to everyone on Trump's campaign staff about selling out the Republic.
posted by xammerboy at 4:17 PM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think the stated rationale behind redacting portions of the report leaves plenty of room for it to have been full of garbage like this that we have no idea about yet.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:38 PM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Bill Barr has been withholding the information from the full Mueller report and fighting it in court. A federal judge finally ordered the release of the unredacted report to the House members just two weeks ago but Bill Barr then appealed so it is still on hold. He is also withholding all of the grand jury information and notes supporting the Mueller report.

For a report that completely exonerates Trump, Bill Barr sure seems stubbornly determined to keep anyone from seeing it.

I wonder why that is?
posted by JackFlash at 4:50 PM on November 8, 2019 [34 favorites]


Speaking of things hidden, I just wonder what else might be in that secure vault the Zelensky call transcript initially went into?

I mean, that vault is owned by the American people, right, and we own what's in it. I'd kind of like to see what might be in there.
posted by Dashy at 4:53 PM on November 8, 2019 [7 favorites]


this^^^ . Not all of what's in it, just all that's in it that is not supposed to be in it. Like, more phone calls was alluded to by...someone testifying recently?
posted by j_curiouser at 4:56 PM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


From Just Security: Public Document Clearinghouse: Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry.

"Just Security has compiled and curated all publicly available documents in Congress’s impeachment inquiry concerning President Donald Trump in connection with Ukraine. This collection seeks to include significant original source material, including relevant legislation, letters, subpoenas, deposition transcripts, executive branch communications, and litigation documents."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:05 PM on November 8, 2019 [15 favorites]


I don't understand why the House Democrats aren't making more of the apparent abuse of the White House secure transcript system. That seems just as likely to attract public attention and pressure as Nixon's secret tapes.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:06 PM on November 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


Tight Ship Slow Methodical Mueller

Mueller did some good, but the fact that Don Jr. is walking around as a free man shows he was scared to touch anyone in the Crime Family, because he knew he would get fired instantly. Whether that would have been a good thing is pure conjecture.
posted by benzenedream at 5:19 PM on November 8, 2019 [12 favorites]


I mean, that vault is owned by the American people, right, and we own what's in it. I'd kind of like to see what might be in there.

It is rather thoughtful of the White House to sort through all the hundreds or thousands of innocent phone calls and put just the ones with crimes in one convenient place for investigators.
posted by JackFlash at 5:25 PM on November 8, 2019 [32 favorites]


It would be emotionally satisfying in a Trump's Mirror sort of way if he were brought down by files hidden on a server.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:42 PM on November 8, 2019 [28 favorites]


Poll: 65% of Republicans say Trump’s Ukraine scheme was normal presidential behavior

Interestingly, the percentage of Republicans who support the concept of impeachment if the president does something illegal is very high, but Dear Leader clearly hasn't done anything illegal, so they support Dear Leader. It is some weird self-righteous, twisted logic.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:08 PM on November 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Well, with Lindsey Graham basically telling Republican voters to not read the transcripts and not listen to/ see the hearings, it isn't that surprising. People are deliberately ignorant.
posted by mumimor at 2:06 AM on November 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Trump says he might attend Russian military celebration
(This is perhaps on the edge of impeachment relevance, but IMO it is part of Trumps "strategy" of normalizing the extreme)
posted by mumimor at 2:35 AM on November 9, 2019 [7 favorites]


Their new argument is that Giuliani — along with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Ambassador Gordon Sondland — were freelancing the organized campaign to extort Ukraine into carrying out Trump’s political bidding, and Trump had no input into it. But this argument requires one to pretend that numerous widely documented facts simply don’t exist

I wouldn't be surprised if this defense is substantially true in the way that Hillary Clinton pointed out so long ago during the debates. Trump is frankly a disinterested but willing puppet of whomever is willing to shove a hand up the presidential keister and seize a measure of control. I'm sure he authorizes broad strokes like getting out of bed and saying "Let's do some corruption" and then his minions come up with what specific corruption to do and the Trumppet tries his hardest (not very hard) between golf games and fox news sessions to play along with the parts that are required of him to get their plans half-assed done.
posted by srboisvert at 5:18 AM on November 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


Speaking of things hidden, I just wonder what else might be in that secure vault the Zelensky call transcript initially went into?

I mean, that vault is owned by the American people, right, and we own what's in it. I'd kind of like to see what might be in there.
posted by Dashy at 7:53 PM on November 8 [4 favorites +] [!]


this^^^ . Not all of what's in it, just all that's in it that is not supposed to be in it. Like, more phone calls was alluded to by...someone testifying recently?
posted by j_curiouser at 7:56 PM on November 8 [4 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Remember, the immediate reaction of White House lawyers to the Zelensky call was to try to bury it in the secure server meant for classified information (abuse of which is specifically against Federal regulations). Which means that they already had that process to use, so other incriminating evidence must have been in there already.
posted by Gelatin at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2019 [13 favorites]


Poll: 65% of Republicans say Trump’s Ukraine scheme was normal presidential behavior

That seems encouragingly low to me. In other words, 35% of the GOP's base think it's abnormal behaviour - and unity is everything to these people. It's not as if he can do anything to persuade them otherwise - every day that passes makes things look worse and worse - and this level of dissatisfaction means that every Republican voter who's still on-side will know another who's not. It's all very well for Graham to tell people to ignore what's going on, but every time the Dems bang the patriotism drum those ears are going to hear.

Wonder if the nabobs of GOP are making the same calculation.
posted by Devonian at 7:51 AM on November 9, 2019 [13 favorites]


I missed this. Apparently Rudy and his goons also asked the Ukraine President before Zelensky to announce an investigation into Biden.
As impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill hear testimony from witnesses amid claims the president improperly sought a quid pro quo during a July phone call to Ukraine leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, a report said that associates of Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, made a similar request to his predecessor.

The Wall Street Journal said Edward MacMahon, a lawyer for one of two associates of Mr Giuliani who were arrested last month on campaign finance charges, said the men had made the request to Ukraine’s former leader, Petro Poroshenko, in February of this year.
It's crazy that all of this was happening repeatedly and openly.
posted by xammerboy at 8:17 AM on November 9, 2019 [9 favorites]


Daily Beast was starting in on this a week ago as well: Rudy Had a Secret Meeting With Zelensky’s Rival, Too
posted by Harry Caul at 8:25 AM on November 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


As more demonstration of the Republicans' utter lack of any coherent defense, they continue to throw dirt in the air like angry baboons (with my apologies to any baboon MeFites...): "Nunes demands Schiff testify in private as part of House impeachment inquiry."
posted by PhineasGage at 8:34 AM on November 9, 2019


Giuliani Associates Urged Ukraine’s Prior President to Open Biden, Election Probes (WSJ, via Politico)
Months before President Trump pressed Ukraine’s newly installed leader to investigate Joe Biden’s son and allegations of interference in the 2016 U.S. election, two associates of Rudy Giuliani urged the prior Ukrainian president to announce similar probes in exchange for a state visit to Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.

A late February meeting in Kyiv between Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took place at the offices of Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, the people said. It came soon after Messrs. Parnas and Fruman met with Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Mr. Lutsenko in New York in late January and again in Warsaw in mid-February, Mr. Giuliani has said. [...]

The meeting, which hasn’t previously been reported, shows associates of the U.S. president’s personal lawyer as early as February were pressing the president of Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically in exchange for a White House visit.
posted by katra at 8:39 AM on November 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


And in further demonstration of the complete legal and constitutional idiocy Tr*ump's defenders are reduced to, I give you the co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Federalist Society (the folks busily stocking our judiciary with lunatics): "House Democrats Violate The 6th Amendment By Denying Trump A Public Trial" (CW: Daily Caller op-ed). I leave it to the reader to tally all of the lies about impeachment in this brief screed.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:47 AM on November 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


An oral history of how Trump allegedly tried to leverage a White House visit for an investigation into the Bidens
At the heart of the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine are how and when administration officials may have pressured Ukraine. Below, compiled from testimony released by House investigators, is an articulation of one of those pressure points, told by the individuals involved in their own words.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


PhineasGage: "And in further demonstration of the complete legal and constitutional idiocy Tr*ump's defenders are reduced to, I give you the co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Federalist Society (the folks busily stocking our judiciary with lunatics): "House Democrats Violate The 6th Amendment By Denying Trump A Public Trial" (CW: Daily Caller op-ed). I leave it to the reader to tally all of the lies about impeachment in this brief screed."

Nice to see that the comments are about 50-1 laughing at this lame-ass argument. I'm more than a little biased but it feels like Republicans are really struggling to come up with and then stick to talking points over this.
posted by octothorpe at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2019 [9 favorites]


"House Democrats Violate The 6th Amendment By Denying Trump A Public Trial"

From the Sixth Amendment: "In all criminal prosecutions ..."

Wait, the Trump lawyers have been arguing that the president has immunity from all criminal prosecutions while in office. But the geniuses of the Federalist Society are arguing that Trump can be criminally prosecuted!

Good to know.
posted by JackFlash at 10:35 AM on November 9, 2019 [22 favorites]


I'm more than a little biased but it feels like Republicans are really struggling to come up with and then stick to talking points over this.

I think it's a meta-disinformation strategy. They are carpet bombing the entire rhetorical space in the hope that either a particular argument hits home and persuades someone or that the sheer magnitude of non-stop bombardment is persuasive even while it is wildly inaccurate.
posted by srboisvert at 11:21 AM on November 9, 2019 [17 favorites]


As more demonstration of the Republicans' utter lack of any coherent defense, they continue to throw dirt in the air like angry baboons (with my apologies to any baboon MeFites...): "Nunes demands Schiff testify in private as part of House impeachment inquiry."

I know it would be a distraction and a waste of time but part of me wishes that Schiff would say "okay, I'll do it if you'll submit to questioning too, and we'll both do it publicly." I just want to see Nunes flailing trying to explain the incredibly shady deeds he's undertaken on behalf of this administration.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:32 AM on November 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


Nunes has absolutely no shame about the incredibly shady deeds he's undertaken on behalf of this administration. Nunes just wants to prove that Schiff and everyone else is just as corrupt as he is.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2019 [4 favorites]


Pod Save America did an impeachment related poll, and found that Republicans in swing states who watch FOX News are 30% more likely to believe the impeachment charges against the president are false than other Republicans. It makes me wonder if Nunes and his ilk are just throwing junk rationalizations over the transom for FOX to peddle. Who cares if it makes sense? FOX will pick it up and run with it 24/7.

I didn't know this, but they also said that FOX was created, in part, because some of the founders believed Nixon wouldn't have been impeached if a Republican news outlet had existed.
posted by xammerboy at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


Schiff Whacks Nunes’ Witness Requests: Will Not Abet ‘Sham Investigations’ (tpm)
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) responded to Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) witness requests Saturday, saying that he would not allow the impeachment inquiry to become a “vehicle” for more “sham investigations.”
Elections have consequences, and this is what flipping the house looks like.
posted by mikelieman at 2:11 PM on November 9, 2019 [31 favorites]


It's outrageous that the impeachment inquiry has uncovered more evidence than Mueller in a fraction of the time. Why would I ever put my trust or faith in the F.B.I again?

Aside from the very correct point made above that everything we are currently learning in the Roger Stone trial is in the Mueller report but redacted, the Mueller report also contains a whole bunch of shocking revelations even in the unredacted parts parts. Or at least people would be shocked if anyone ever bothered to read the damn thing before making pronouncements about it.

Here are about 50 key quotes, in meme form, that hit the highlights.

They include...
Trump’s campaign chairman discussed the campaign’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in midwestern states and continuously shared polling data with a Russian intelligence agent (Konstantin Kilimnik). (Vol I, p 7)

Rick Gates, who served as the Deputy Chairman of the Trump Campaign, believed that Konstantin Kilimnik was a “spy,” but the campaign continued to work with him. (Vol I, p 134)

Trump, in position to know that the WikiLeaks releases originated with Russia, asked Manafort to keep him “updated” on WikiLeaks, and predicted upcoming releases to Rick Gates. (Vol II, p 18)

The Trump Campaign developed a whole campaign plan based on their knowledge that more WikiLeaks releases were coming. (Vol I, p 54)

Russian intelligence gave Roger Stone the Democrats’ turnout model for the “entire presidential campaign” (by directing him to a blog post featuring data hacked from the DNC servers by Russia.) (Vol I, p 44)

Trump directed his campaign to get Clinton emails in an effort that included outreach to Russia. (Vol I, p 62)
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2019 [38 favorites]


And if you are reading those quotes and you notice that Konstantin Kilimnik's name comes up a lot and you wonder why Mueller couldn't prove a connection between Kilimnik and the Russian government election tampering effort when it seems so obvious that there must be such a connection...

The same Ukrainian prosecutor who was working with Giuliani let Kilimnik flee Ukraine for Russia, which put him beyond Mueller's reach. (Mueller indicted him and he is now a wanted fugitive, but I don't think Putin will be extraditing him...)
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:22 PM on November 9, 2019 [32 favorites]


The way all the dots connect, it's so clear that this isn't a bunch of small crimes. It's all the same crime. From before the start of his campaign to now, it's all part of one large crime, and Putin is the one committing it. Trump is just having his strings pulled.
posted by wabbittwax at 2:30 PM on November 9, 2019 [55 favorites]


That is extremely right and extremely well put.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:32 PM on November 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


That seems like an extremely forgiving and potentially dangerous position to take when trying to hold Trump accountable for his intentional abuse of power and his intentional choice to place his own self-interest above the national interest. It's all the same crime, and Trump is doing more than just having his strings pulled.
posted by katra at 3:14 PM on November 9, 2019 [19 favorites]


And I apologize for my sharp tone in response to what looks like a variation of the 'hapless Trump' excuse - my concern is that it minimizes his active role and potentially makes it more difficult to hold him accountable, similar to the GOP defenses that have recently been reported, including by the NYT:
Most of the witnesses have described what people around the president said, but few recounted any direct conversations with Mr. Trump. As his national security adviser who saw him daily, Mr. Bolton presumably could take investigators into the Oval Office as none of their witnesses have.

Mr. Trump seemed to reference that himself on Friday during comments to reporters before flying to Atlanta for campaign events. “I’m not concerned about anything,” he said, shrugging off the impeachment inquiry. “The testimony has all been fine. For the most part, I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are. They are some very fine people. You have some never Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge.”
and Politico: The unsolved mystery of frozen Ukraine aid
Despite a mountain of evidence supplied by cooperative diplomats — and a public admission and hasty retraction by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — the uncertainty surrounding the hold on the aid has only deepened over time, according to interview transcripts released this week as part of the impeachment inquiry. In fact, what has become increasingly clear is that only a small cadre of budget officials — and Trump himself — has the answers. [...] If Democrats intend to make a public case that Trump attempted to shake down his Ukrainian counterpart, they will face pressure to address how the outright stonewall by Trump’s budget officials has impeded their effort to solve this mystery.
But see CNN: ""If Mr. Mulvaney had information that contradicts the consistent and incriminating testimony of numerous public servants, Mr. Mulvaney would be eager to testify, instead of hiding behind the President's ongoing efforts to conceal the truth. [...]" an official working on the impeachment inquiry said in a statement to CNN." According to WaPo: "In the weeks ahead, the GOP’s focus will be to try to minimize Trump’s role in the Ukraine pressure campaign and to justify his actions by highlighting that country’s history of corruption problems, according to Republicans familiar with the party’s strategy who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations."
posted by katra at 5:56 PM on November 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


The Ukraine Depositions Have Destroyed Trump’s “Corruption” Defense
Text messages released last month showed that Trump’s pressure on Ukraine was never about corruption. And this week, Congress unveiled additional evidence to debunk the “corruption” defense: more than 1,000 pages of testimony from the three men at the center of Trump’s extortion campaign.
...
One test of sincerity, for instance, is whether you target corruption wherever it exists, or only in countries where it suits your interests. Trump flunked this test. Volker, during his Oct. 3 testimony, was asked whether he had ever heard Trump express “concerns about corruption in any other country besides Ukraine.” He said no. Sondland, during his Oct. 17 deposition, was asked whether he knew of “any aid being withheld to the other 28 countries in your portfolio under President Trump in 2018 or 2019.” He said he didn’t.
Trump and Mulvaney’s claim that corruption concerns held up Ukraine aid
Trump didn’t raise corruption concerns in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the rough readout released by the White House. He made two requests. First, Trump asked Zelensky to look into a conspiracy theory involving Ukraine, the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and a Democratic National Committee server. Second, Trump asked for an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, a potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 election, and his son Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in Ukraine.
Before his claims of corruption, Trump tried to build a resort in Ukraine
The Trumps were looking to erect luxury resorts across the former Soviet republics, and Ukraine seemed like a promising location. But doing so meant navigating a landscape that had long struggled with corruption. And as part of its overtures, the Trump Organization engaged developers Dmitry Buriak and felon Felix Sater, both of whom have had business interests in Russia.

Now, a decade after his company’s efforts floundered, President Donald Trump is arguing that it’s the son of his political rival Joe Biden, not him, who wanted to benefit from what he calls a “very corrupt” Ukraine.
Ceterum censeo, Trumpo delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 PM on November 9, 2019 [13 favorites]


And what we're learning is that this one crime only continued to grow in scope. From his campaign planning to, his first meetings in the office, through to the present, Trump has never stopped devoting a large part of his time and resources to working for Russian interests.
posted by xammerboy at 8:07 PM on November 9, 2019 [12 favorites]


meta-disinformation strategy...carpet bombing the entire rhetorical space...

I love this. Bet Noam would too. Powerful image.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:16 PM on November 9, 2019 [7 favorites]


That seems like an extremely forgiving and potentially dangerous position to take when trying to hold Trump accountable for his intentional abuse of power and his intentional choice to place his own self-interest above the national interest. It's all the same crime, and Trump is doing more than just having his strings pulled.

Well, the way to pull Trump's strings is through corrupt deals, and he absolutely needs to be held accountable for those.

But the point is that getting rid of Trump won't solve the larger problem, which is that Putin is waging information warfare against the United States. Trump is, as Timothy Snyder says, the payload of an information weapon. He is an idiot, and he will blow himself up in the process of blowing up US politics (metaphorically) but there will be other weapons when he is gone.

And when Putin is defeated, there will be other people who want to target the US with these same techniques.

It's not enough to drive Trump out of office. We need to develop defenses against the attacks that landed him there. He is the proximate cause of many of our problems and needs to be stopped. But then we need to address the root cause.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:02 AM on November 10, 2019 [46 favorites]


House Republicans release their impeachment inquiry witness wish list (Riley Beggin, Vox)
Saturday, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, sent a letter [PDF] to Schiff that both requested a number of witnesses be called and complaining that House Democrats’ “sham impeachment process” unfairly inhibits Republicans from fully participating in the hearings due to the rules around such requests.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:42 AM on November 10, 2019


House Republicans release their impeachment inquiry witness wish list (Riley Beggin, Vox)

As I mentioned slightly upthread, Schiff already noped this. I found the Letter from Chairman Schiff to Rank-ing Member Nunes which shuts him down with elegance.
posted by mikelieman at 7:01 AM on November 10, 2019 [10 favorites]


Trumpism, like many diseases, is one that thrives in a weakened host. Putin's infowar wouldn't have been nearly as successful, and our own memetic defenses wouldnt have been so powerless against it, if a minority of Americans hadn't been acting as a sort of informational HIV and destroying our immune system.

In a pre-FOX world we could have combatted Putin's machinations effectively. A large plurality of the population wouldnt have been convinced that facts, like Reagan famously said, are stupid things.

But we live in a world where powerful interests have been maliciously undermining the very concept of objective reality for decades. And they're and their billionaire class beneficiaries are perfectly willing to sell out America to Putin, or tge Klan, or whatever it takes to keep getting more tax cuts and more drained from the treasury to their already bloated bank accounts.

If the problem was just Putin we'd be fine. But the problem is that the billionaires are an eager fifth column for anyone who promises tex cuts, and they'll sell violent white supremacy to the resentful portion of the white population who are in their turn eager to destroy anything and everything if only it gives them more white supremacy.

Getting rid of Trump is just the first step in a long hard pile of work. A necessary first step but only the first step.

How we keep momentum and will to do the rest once Trump is gone as the easily hatavle public face of the problem is going to be tricky.
posted by sotonohito at 7:05 AM on November 10, 2019 [25 favorites]


A lot of people think once Trump is gone we will go back to "normal", but dark money, disinformation, and the Trump Republican party is here to stay. If anything, it will get worse. If a mega billionaire like Gates is looking at paying 6 billion in taxes, you better believe they will be willing to pay a billion to make sure that won't happen.
posted by xammerboy at 7:37 AM on November 10, 2019 [14 favorites]


I watched a documentary on William Jennings Bryan's presidential campaign. He was running for a lot of the same things Democratic candidates are today. He was absolutely brilliant, and his campaign was an incredible non-stop speaking tour around the U.S.

But mega donors flooded newspapers with articles suggesting that without mega-millionaires the technical progress the U.S. had achieved would vanish. It was a scare tactic. It was a little scary, because the documentary basically flat out said - with that much money against Bryan, what chance did he really have?
posted by xammerboy at 7:56 AM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Donald Trump is just a symptom of the cancer that is the GOP.
posted by mikelieman at 7:57 AM on November 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


A Plea From 33 Writers: Words Matter. Stop Using ‘Quid Pro Quo.’ (Roxana Robinson and 32 other writers, NYT Opinion)
Please stop using the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” regarding the impeachment inquiry. Most people don’t understand what it means, and in any case it doesn’t refer only to a crime. Asking for a favor is not a criminal act; we frequently demand things from foreign countries before giving them aid, like asking them to improve their human rights record.

That is not a crime; the crime is President Trump’s demand for something that will benefit him personally. But using this neutral phrase — which means simply “this for that” — as synonymous with criminality is confusing to the public. It makes the case more complicated, more open to question and more difficult to plead.

Please use words that refer only to criminal behavior here. Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime. The more we hear words that carry moral imputations, the more we understand the criminal nature of the act.

Please also stop using the phrase “dig up dirt.” This slang has unsavory connotations. Instead, please use the more formal, direct and powerful phrase “create false evidence,” or “find incriminating evidence” or the simpler “tell lies about.”

Words make a difference.
posted by katra at 8:00 AM on November 10, 2019 [56 favorites]


Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime.

I agree and I don't. We've repeatedly seen that once Trump's actions are described in legal terms his defenders start twisting the definitions and criteria of those terms. I really don't what the better strategy is - "abuse of power" or "bribery"? And does either indicate the scope? The thousands of Ukraine lives that hung in the balance of Trump's threat?
posted by xammerboy at 8:10 AM on November 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


Was Trump call with Ukraine ‘perfect’? GOP has many answers (AP)
Republicans have no unified argument in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump, in large part because they can’t agree on how best to defend the president — or for some, if they should. [...]

At its core, the impeachment inquiry is based on what Democrats say is an improper quid pro quo — a “shakedown” — that Trump engaged in during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnkiy. According to a White House rough transcript of the call and testimony from several government officials, Trump was withholding needed military aid the East European ally as he wanted Zelenskiy to investigate Trump’s potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, as well 2016 U.S. election interference. [...]

The House Republican message against impeachment has four distinct parts, according to this aide: The transcript of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy shows the president did nothing wrong; several key witnesses testified that they don’t have firsthand knowledge of what transpired; the Ukrainians didn’t know the military aid was being upheld until it was publicly reported; and eventually the U.S. agreed to send the money to Ukraine. [...]

What goes without saying, though, is that few Republicans lawmakers are willing to say the call was “perfect” or that there was “no quid pro quo,” as Trump insists. More often, they say a little of this, a little of that. “There are perfectly appropriate quid pro quos and there are inappropriate quid pro quos,” offered Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. “Just saying that there is a quid pro quo, at least based on my analysis of the evidence that I’ve seen so far, is a red herring.”
posted by katra at 8:11 AM on November 10, 2019


The Constitution Says ‘Bribery’ Is Impeachable. What Does That Mean? (Ben Berwick, Justin Florence, John Langford, Lawfare, Oct 3, 2019)
In analyzing the president’s conduct, some commentators have pointed to one of the two specific grounds for impeachment enumerated in the Constitution: bribery. Yet, by and large, those who have examined Trump’s efforts to put pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as potential bribery have done so through the narrow lens of modern federal statutory criminal law.

But that is the wrong place to look when considering impeachment. In fact, the Founders had a broader conception of bribery than what’s in the criminal code. Their understanding was derived from English law, under which bribery was understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest. This definition not only encompasses Trump’s conduct—it practically defines it.

[...] The Founders had no intent of tying the constitutional definition of bribery to federal criminal statutory law. On the most basic level, no federal criminal code existed at the time that the Constitution was drafted. Beyond that, the Framers had no reason to believe that Congress would enact federal criminal statutes in the future. As Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz explain in their comprehensive book on impeachment, “To End a Presidency,” criminal law was understood to be the province of the states, and there was very little federal criminal law at all until the mid-20th century. To the extent there was federal criminal law, it followed the common law model. That is why the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors can’t be limited by federal statutes. The same goes for bribery—as there was no general federal bribery statute at all until 1853. [...]

In short, the Founders’ conception of bribery—and thus the scope of that term in the Constitution—cannot be understood with reference to modern federal statutes and the interpretation of those statutes by modern courts. As Tribe and Matz explain, “[T]he Framers were concerned with abuse of power, corruption, and injury to the nation. At no point did any delegate link the ultimate safeguard against presidential betrayal to intricacies of a criminal code.”
posted by katra at 8:18 AM on November 10, 2019 [12 favorites]


Opinion: The House articles of impeachment could be history’s takeaway on Donald Trump, Los Angeles Times, James Reston Jr., November 10, 2019:
It’s an all but foregone conclusion that the House of Representatives will impeach Donald Trump, and it is almost as certain that the Senate will not convict him. For those who are convinced of the president’s venality, the latter prospect makes it imperative that the formal indictment in the House — the articles of impeachment — be detailed and all-encompassing.

The articles’ content, the exact way they focus the effort to hold Trump accountable, could possibly sway the eventual verdict, as senators ponder individually the moral choice between party loyalty and the rule of law. As important, the way the charges are conceived and written will affect how history remembers this “grand inquest of the nation.” Was it merely misbegotten politics or a legitimate attempt to adjudicate incontrovertible high crimes and misdemeanors?
...
When the House composes the articles of impeachment for the history books, they should write with the conviction that it’s a 100% foregone conclusion, not merely a hope for the future.
posted by cenoxo at 10:17 AM on November 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


The Common Misconception About ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’
“High crimes and misdemeanors” is surely the most troublesome, misleading phrase in the U.S. Constitution. Taken at face value, the words seem to say that impeachable conduct is limited to “crimes”—offenses defined by criminal statutes and punishable in criminal courts. That impression is reinforced by the fact that the phrase follows the obviously criminal “treason” and “bribery” in Article II’s list of the kinds of conduct for which the “President, Vice President and all civil officers” may be impeached.

But this is not, in fact, what the Constitution requires. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is not, and has never been, limited to indictable criminality. Nonetheless, despite centuries of learning on the point, there the phrase sits, begging to be taken at its delusory face value.
...
There are two strong arguments against the idea that the phrase requires criminal behavior: a historical one and a practical one. The history of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” and of how it entered our Constitution establishes beyond serious dispute that it extends far beyond mere criminal conduct. The practical reasoning is in some ways more important: A standard that permitted the removal of presidents only for indictable crimes would leave the nation defenseless against the most dangerous kinds of presidential behavior.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:41 AM on November 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


Rand Paul calls it ‘big mistake’ for Trump defense to center on quid pro quo (Politico)
He says what Trump did is exactly what everyone in D.C. does.
Paul’s candid rejection of the White House’s defense and minimization of the question at hand overlooks the political tinge that is central to the allegations against Trump and has been backed up by testimony from administration officials.

That the president had asked his Ukrainian counterpart for one line of investigation that could damage his potential rival in the 2020 election and another he believed could exonerate him from the Russia probe that swamped the first half of his first term undermines the argument Trump was focused on corruption more broadly.
posted by katra at 11:00 AM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


We're so abstracted away from the crime that it's not about whether he did it or not, it's whether he can plausibly lie about it to avoid consequences.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2019 [8 favorites]


Rand Paul calls it ‘big mistake’ for Trump defense to center on quid pro quo (Politico)
He says what Trump did is exactly what everyone in D.C. does.


Wait is Rand Paul confessing that he did something in exchange for the russian campaign funding he received that was funnelled through the NRA?
posted by srboisvert at 11:33 AM on November 10, 2019 [28 favorites]


Mark Sumner at Daily Kos: William Barr is racing to deliver a report that blows up the impeachment inquiry—and everything else
Attorney General William Barr is racing to complete a new “report” before Thanksgiving. And if Barr’s very poor summary of the Mueller report threw Trump a lifeline by distorting the real findings of the special counsel investigation, this new report looks to be more like an atom bomb, designed to incinerate Washington by putting the whole Justice Department behind a conspiracy theory that rewrites history and declares open warfare on political opponents. And Republicans are already meeting with Barr to plan a “roll out” for this supposedly classified report in order to maximize its impact.

Barr appears to have taken the results of an inspector general report that was expected to end weeks ago, rolled it together with the investigation-into-the-investigation that he launched under the nominal control of prosecutor John Durham, and capped it all with the “findings” of a world tour that included attempts to get the Australian government, the Italian government, and the U.K. government to participate in attacks on U.S. intelligence agencies. What’s going to come out the other end could be a dud, but it could launch an effort to derail the impeachment process—and more.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2019 [8 favorites]


Let's hope the press does a better job this time around when vetting Barr's claims of exoneration.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:39 PM on November 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


President’s man says President is A-OK!
posted by valkane at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


House Intelligence Committee smartly introduces the word 'extortion' into the process, and some media follow their lead. <The Independent
posted by Harry Caul at 2:28 PM on November 10, 2019 [23 favorites]


To boil it down to its essence: Barr is almost certainly cooking up a right wing coup attempt.

The tell is the talk of a left wing coup in various forms, e.g., invalidating the 2016 election results (such as they are). They are all about projection.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:42 PM on November 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


The knives are out: Nikki Haley claims top aides tried to recruit her to ‘save the country’ by undermining Trump
If anyone ever doubted that Nicki Haley is a bag of toxic slime in a pretty skin suit, there you have the evidence. On impeachment she's on the "what? I can't see/hear/feel anything"-team, and somehow it works better for her than for any of the others:
In a New York City interview with The Post coinciding with the book release, Haley also dismissed efforts by House Democrats to impeach Trump. She said she opposes Trump’s efforts to seek foreign help for political investigations in a call with Ukraine’s president, but that the actions are not impeachable.
“There was no heavy demand insisting that something had to happen. So it’s hard for me to understand where the whole impeachment situation is coming from, because what everybody’s up in arms about didn’t happen,” Haley said.
“So, do I think it’s not good practice to talk to foreign governments about investigating Americans? Yes. Do I think the president did something that warrants impeachment? No, because the aid flowed,” she said, referring to nearly $400 million in sidelined military aid.
“And, in turn, the Ukrainians didn’t follow up with the investigation,” Haley said.
(maybe you have to read the whole article to see how she gets away with this while not alienating the MAGA-hats or the moderate Republicans).
posted by mumimor at 3:21 PM on November 10, 2019 [8 favorites]


Media beware: Impeachment hearings will be the trickiest test of covering Trump (Margaret Sullivan, WaPo Perspective)
Beware mealy-mouthed and misleading language. Punditry will be running even more amok than usual once the hearings begin. And we’ll be hearing a lot about what a divided nation we have and how ugly politics has become. We’ll be hearing the term “quid pro quo” endlessly.

Jon Allsop, writing in Columbia Journalism Review, suggested “quid pro quo” is inaccurate: “A president threatening to withhold military aid to a country unless it offers dirt on a domestic political rival, as Trump did, is not merely trading favors.” Questions about extortion or bribery — far riskier terms for would-be “balanced” journalists — are closer to the mark.
posted by katra at 3:31 PM on November 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is a President who keeps the media in a cage at his rallies and declares them enemies of the people, but now is the time to use powerful nouns the media in this country needs a total do-over.
posted by benzenedream at 3:56 PM on November 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


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

Here’s a field guide to some of the lines of attack that Republicans have used so far. See if you can recognize them if they appear during the public hearings scheduled to begin this week.
Pro tip: drink every time someone says "quid pro quo" or "whistleblower."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:09 PM on November 10, 2019


Looks like Lev Parnas is very eager to cooperate. Giuliani associate says he sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate Bidens
posted by Harry Caul at 4:22 PM on November 10, 2019 [11 favorites]


Do I think the president did something that warrants impeachment? No, because the aid flowed,” she said, referring to nearly $400 million in sidelined military aid. “And, in turn, the Ukrainians didn’t follow up with the investigation,” Haley said.

I really wish journalists, and people in general, would hit back hard whenever this argument is made since the only reason the aid was released and Zelensky cancelled his CNN announcement was because they were caught in the act. They were inches away from completing the extortion, and the crime and substantial cover-up were already well underway when congress was made aware.
posted by p3t3 at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2019 [44 favorites]


From the Times article The Disorienting Defenses of Donald Trump:

"As described so far by several witnesses, President Trump’s behavior, consorting with a foreign government for his own personal benefit, is literally what the framers had in mind when they established the power to impeach a president for high crimes and misdemeanors. Whether that warrants removal from office is another matter.”

Read that twice. That's the New York Times Editorial Board...
posted by xammerboy at 8:57 PM on November 10, 2019 [28 favorites]


That paragraph makes no fucking sense. "This is exactly what the framers meant by an impeachable offense. But should it result in removal from office? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"
posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 PM on November 10, 2019 [36 favorites]


National Sec Adviser: Top Impeachment Probe Witness Will Be Removed From WH Council
On Sunday, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who gave a bombshell testimony in the House impeachment investigation last month on President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, will be removed from his post at the White House National Security Council.
...
The national security adviser said Vindman, who currently serves as the council’s Director for European Affairs, will be removed as a part of the White House’s “streamlining” efforts.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:23 PM on November 10, 2019 [14 favorites]


I just noticed that at least one CNN commentator shifted to using the word "bribery" instead of Quid pro quo, so hopefully this is going to stick.
posted by Namlit at 3:10 AM on November 11, 2019 [17 favorites]


Maybe they could also demystify “quid pro quo” because all it fucking means is “this for that”, not some weird lofty goalpost shifting magic formula that trump and co. (and the slavish media) are ascribing to it.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:59 AM on November 11, 2019


Regarding the use of 'quid pro quo' ad nauseum:

How Barr and Trump Use a Russian Disinformation Tactic

It's a disinformation tactic called reflexive control. They did this with 'no collusion'. QPQ is more of the same. No collusion 2.0 if you like.
Reflexive control is a “uniquely Russian” technique of psychological manipulation through disinformation. The idea is to feed your adversary a set of assumptions that will produce a predictable response: That response, in turn, furthers a goal that advances your interests. By luring your opponent into agreeing with your initial assumptions, you can control the narrative, and ultimate outcome, in your favor. Best of all, the outcome is one in which your adversary has voluntarily acceded. This is exactly what has happened with much of the American public in the course of Mueller’s investigation.

The assumptions that culminated in Mr. Barr’s conclusions began almost two years ago, when the White House, Trump supporters and the media characterized the focus of the special counsel’s investigation as “collusion.” The word “collusion” does not appear anywhere in Mr. Mueller’s appointment letter: His mandate was to investigate any “links and/or coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia. There is a good reason for this: “Collusion” is the legal equivalent of Jell-O. Outside of specific factual contexts — such as price fixing in antitrust law — the word “collusion” has no legal meaning or significance. In fact, in his report, Mr. Mueller explicitly stated that his conclusions were not about collusion, “which is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States code.”
We should respond in kind and start calling this what it is: a war. Remember when Meuller was asked if the Russians attacked the US election? It was one of the few times during his testimony he was emphatic. 'Yes. They are doing it as we sit here'. This is an information war and they've won the first battle: convincing half the people that the attack was a hoax. In that battle, they had no greater ally than Trump.

I've read that you need to be at war for there to be treason. Well, this is a war and Trump is a traitor.

“Uniquely Russian” they call this tactic. I wonder who he learnt it from.
posted by adept256 at 4:31 AM on November 11, 2019 [39 favorites]


As a younger 80s punk during the Reagan era, my friends and I used to play a conversational game similar to this.
Any adults who criticized our clothes, look or occasionally loitering presence would be argued with and eventually we would drop the bomb of 'Hey man, why do you hate America so much?' in the exchange. Observing the pretzels our critics would twist themselves into to just to keep the argument going was always entertaining and bizarre.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:56 AM on November 11, 2019 [12 favorites]


That paragraph makes no fucking sense. "This is exactly what the framers meant by an impeachable offense. But should it result in removal from office? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

Just a reminder that the NYT -- and its editors -- were cool with a piece telling us that Michael Brown, the unarmed young black man killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson -- "was no angel" because, in addition to the minor shoplifting incident that precipitated his encounter with Wilson, he had "dabbled in drugs and alcohol," gotten into a scuffle with a neighbor, and made some rap songs with vulgar lyrics. That was a very important aspect of that person and that story that had to be stated unequivocally for the world to know, per the NYT.

But the crimingest President who ever lived, openly criming even now and in a way that they say the framers of the Constitution actually had in mind when they wrote about what should warrant the removal of a President? Gosh, folks, we just can't say one way or the other, because that's how committed we are to neutrality!
posted by lord_wolf at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2019 [49 favorites]


If the problem was just Putin we'd be fine. But the problem is that the billionaires are an eager fifth column for anyone who promises tax cuts, and they'll sell violent white supremacy to the resentful portion of the white population who are in their turn eager to destroy anything and everything if only it gives them more white supremacy.


I agree with this completely. I like your metaphor about these domestic conditions weakening our immune system and making us vulnerable to infection. That's probably better than the "payload" metaphor.

It reminds me of this really good NYT video series: Operation Infektion: Russian Disinformation from Cold War to Kanye

Another metaphor: Russia looks for cracks into which to drive wedges. The cracks in our society are income inequality and racism. Russia likes to back separatist movements. The US has a separatist movement -- the Confederacy. Turns out that's still a thing they can back. People who hate the federal government and the loss of racial privilege.

Putin believes that the US is responsible for all the pro-democracy protest movements all over the world, including in Russia. He's a little bit delusional -- Fiona Hill says KGB vets can't help being paranoid -- but not totally delusional. Josh Marshall explained what Putin thinks he's doing very well back in 2016, and I have been thinking about it ever since. Because Marshall points out that Fox News is based on the same kind of delusion about "liberal media" as Putin has about US "information warfare."

One other thought I want to share really quick. It's not really "Russia" that is doing any of this. It is Putin and his billionaire friends acting on their own behalf. And teaming with some American billionaires acting on their own behalf. In some ways this is an asymmetric conflict, the US nation state against non-state actors. (It just so happens that those "non-state actors" took over the Russian government first. But they do not operate on behalf of the Russian people.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:52 AM on November 11, 2019 [52 favorites]


Good points and good links, OnceUponATime!
posted by mumimor at 7:25 AM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]


while PBS will broadcast the hearings during the day, they evidently intend to stick with antiques roadshow and the normal lineup at primetime. bill moyers encourages viewers and interested persons to contact their local affiliate and demand primetime (re)broadcast of the proceedings. here, on the blue, we've long been expecting that televised coverage will raise awareness critically among the populace as to the scope of the misministration's malfeasance and threat to the constitutional rule of law, as it did during the investigations of nixon. this is where comparisons break down, and, to borrow a slogan, how democracy the republic dies.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:43 AM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]


Trump met with 'lock him up' chants during Veterans Day Parade < the Independent.
Things are getting more and more Watergate-Nixon-Era-ish every week.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:50 AM on November 11, 2019 [19 favorites]


It's a disinformation tactic called reflexive control. They did this with 'no collusion'. QPQ is more of the same. No collusion 2.0 if you like.

The idea that propaganda techniques like this are "uniquely" Russian is itself the outcome of American propaganda. If you ask the Russians where they learned how to do this, they'll tell you it was American advertising and the CIA (and they'll be right). It's nice to imagine this is all some Russian plot because it helps us forget that we're the baddies!
posted by dis_integration at 8:50 AM on November 11, 2019 [13 favorites]


while PBS will broadcast the hearings during the day, they evidently intend to stick with antiques roadshow and the normal lineup at primetime.

Just for people that don't know: PBS, like NPR, is not a traditional network of stations. The national PBS organization has little to no control over when affiliate stations air programming (Even in commercial TV, station owners often have a large amount of leeway over when they air a network program).

Also - what does it mean to "broadcast the hearings during prime time?" You can't squeeze 8 hours of hearings into 2 hours of prime time. So that means that a production company (which PBS generally is not - they're a distribution network) would have to produce a 1-2 hour recap of the days hearings and provide it to PBS for distribution. I would argue that WETA in DC (producers of Newshour) are well-placed to do this, but like every other public broadcasting outlet, I'm sure they have staffing/budget issues, and can't afford to just pull talent and a couple of producers, editors, and audio techs off of their regular jobs for an indeterminate period of time.

I don't know what's going through Bill Moyers' head, but his smarmy attempt to bully PBS while he pretends to know how to run a television network seems really dumb and counterproductive. Even the idea that millions of Americans are going to sit down in front of the TV to watch hours of hearings in 2019 seems insane to me. There are dozens of media outlets which have the ability create programming around the hearings. The television audience has been highly fractured for a while now, and the media landscape of 1973 isn't going to come screaming back into existence just because the olds want it to.

Anyway. It just seems silly to me to be criticizing PBS while they're actually doing SOMETHING, while the commercial networks are going to roll along showing Dancing with the Stars and NCIS.
posted by god hates math at 9:30 AM on November 11, 2019 [22 favorites]


An epic ‘Meet the Press’ rant unmasks the real goal of Trump’s lies (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
NBC News’s Chuck Todd seemed to allow Paul’s basic framing to stand unchallenged, saying at one point: “So two wrongs make a right?” That prompted this remarkable pushback from Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), which you should watch in full:
.@RandPaul tries to “both sides” Trump and Biden, Chuck Todd nods along, and @jahimes just burns it all down. pic.twitter.com/f5ProtBbqR — Jesse Lee (@JesseCharlesLee) November 10, 2019
The core distinction here is between shaping foreign policy around some conception of what’s in the national interest (withholding U.S. aid to get Ukraine to battle generic corruption) and perverting foreign policy to serve Trump’s political interests (withholding aid to extort Ukraine into helping absolve Russia of 2016 electoral sabotage on Trump’s behalf and to smear a 2020 opponent). Paul laughably tried to reconcile these things by arguing that, since Biden actually was corrupt, in withholding aid Trump was acting in the national interest, as if the fact that Biden is a 2020 rival is pure coincidence. But Biden wasn’t actually corrupt, and Trump was subverting the national interest to his own. [...]

This episode on “Meet the Press” illustrates in a back-door way what the real aim of pro-Trump propaganda is, and how it will be employed in the inquiry’s public phase. Remember, it was a longtime imperative for Trump and lawyer Rudolph Giuliani to get Ukraine to issue a public statement confirming sham investigations that would rewrite the story of 2016 and help rig 2020 for Trump. This scandal is all about disinformation — about getting news organizations to treat disinformation seriously, to create a miasma of doubt around Russia’s 2016 sabotage and an aura of corruption around Biden. Indeed, as former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon has admitted, the way to create this sort of aura is to get the mainstream media to cover such allegations, no matter how discredited, to introduce them into the mainstream discussion and get them treated as representing one side of a good-faith political dialogue.

That’s the obvious goal behind getting the impeachment inquiry to include public testimony from people like Hunter Biden. And along those lines, this “Meet the Press” episode is a cautionary tale. It shows what it looks like when a bad-faith actor — Paul — floats this kind of disinformation and succeeds in getting it treated far too respectfully.
posted by katra at 9:45 AM on November 11, 2019 [22 favorites]


The idea that propaganda techniques like this are "uniquely" Russian is itself the outcome of American propaganda. If you ask the Russians where they learned how to do this, they'll tell you it was American advertising and the CIA (and they'll be right). It's nice to imagine this is all some Russian plot because it helps us forget that we're the baddies!

This is complicated. But the first thing you need to think about is that all US administrations are not the same. Each administration has its own foreign policy and its own way of dealing with international politics. I'd say it was fair and reasonable for the US to support the color revolutions. Others may disagree. My opinion is based on the feeling that the US was cowardly in not supporting the uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. My feeling, not a documented fact. Supporting the color revolutions was supporting the will of the peoples in those countries, and they were appealing to the West for help. I know a lot about American intervention/propaganda/spying in Europe post WW2, but that is for another thread.
On the other hand, the single worst foreign policy decision the US made during the 20th century was probably sponsoring the coup against Mosaddeq in Iran. At the time, the Truman administration probably saw it as a minor albeit important issue which they didn't properly understand. In our time, it is the source of just about every serious problem in the world today, and not only ME problems. Obviously, a lot of US interventions in Latin America are on the same line, if not as globally destructive. It's interesting to me that Obama had a very clear understanding of these issues and focused on dealing with them.
posted by mumimor at 10:02 AM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]


Sorry, not Truman, Eisenhower
posted by mumimor at 10:05 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


Stephen Kinzer on US-Iranian Relations, the 1953 CIA Coup in Iran and the Roots of Middle East Terror I normally don't link to democracy now, but this is a neat summary of what I was trying to say above. And now I'll go walk the dog.
posted by mumimor at 10:12 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Retiring Republican Rep Mac Thornberry (R-TX, from my hometown of Amarillo TX) tells ABC News that you can't impeach Trump for abusing his office by trying to extort Ukraine because he does it all the time and there is no reason to think his attempted extortion of Ukraine is particularly worse than all the other times he tries to abuse his office for political and personal gain.

Yes, really.

posted by sotonohito at 10:17 AM on November 11, 2019 [13 favorites]


13 Republicans and Trump appointees who have indicated his Ukraine call was hardly ‘perfect’ (WaPo)
President Trump felt the need Sunday to rally the Republican troops. In a tweet, he again urged them to defend him to the hilt on the Ukraine scandal — and suggested they weren’t quite doing it. “The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT,” he declared. “Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!” [...]

So why the sudden outburst? Probably because that particular view was suddenly in vogue this weekend. No fewer than four Republicans — former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. John Neely Kennedy (La.) and Reps. Mac Thornberry (Tex.) and Will Hurd (Tex.) — all said that asking for an investigation of a political opponent isn’t okay.

None of them said Trump should be impeached — Kennedy suggested Trump’s request of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky might not have been so directly aimed at former vice president Joe Biden, even though Trump asked Zelensky specifically to investigate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, who worked in Ukraine — but there seems to be an increasing willingness not to pretend the call was nearly as “perfect” as Trump claims.

We now count 13 Republicans and Trump appointees — including three ambassadors and ambassador nominees — who have offered some version of this talking point. A couple applied it to China, whom Trump also said should investigate Biden, but the sentiment is largely the same.

All of them are making it more difficult for Trump to argue there’s nothing to see here.
posted by katra at 10:25 AM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


This scandal is all about disinformation — about getting news organizations to treat disinformation seriously, to create a miasma of doubt around Russia’s 2016 sabotage and an aura of corruption around Biden. Indeed, as former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon has admitted, the way to create this sort of aura is to get the mainstream media to cover such allegations, no matter how discredited, to introduce them into the mainstream discussion and get them treated as representing one side of a good-faith political dialogue.

That's been the Republican playbook since at least Newt Gingrich's tenure as Speaker, and it's been fabulously successful, suckering the cowed media nearly every time.
posted by Gelatin at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]


D-Rep Hines Conn, ripping open the Chuck Todd Industrial Complex on Chuck's own show, in the wake of a head-nodding acqiesence from NBC avatar in real time.
Rand Paul there to stake the propaganda? NBC there to host the event? then Hines stepped up to call shenanigans.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2019 [12 favorites]


Retiring Republican Rep Mac Thornberry (R-TX, from my hometown of Amarillo TX) tells ABC News that you can't impeach Trump for abusing his office by trying to extort Ukraine because he does it all the time and there is no reason to think his attempted extortion of Ukraine is particularly worse than all the other times he tries to abuse his office for political and personal gain.


Seems to me it would reasonable to subpoena Thornberry and ask him to testify about all the other instances Trump has used his office for personal and political extortion.
posted by srboisvert at 11:30 AM on November 11, 2019 [27 favorites]


D-Rep Hines Conn, ripping open the Chuck Todd Industrial Complex on Chuck's own show, in the wake of a head-nodding acqiesence from NBC avatar in real time.

Elected representatives aren't supposed to exhort the press to do their jobs; it's supposed to be the other way around.
posted by Gelatin at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2019 [13 favorites]


Trump’s bluster crashes into a barrage of impeachment facts (Politico)
The Trump approach to impeachment is expected to follow his usual response to adversity: Flood the zone with so much content that no one can tell what it true, false, biased or just plain spin.
posted by katra at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was YouTubing, and it struck me that the Trump crimes are essentially different from normal Republican crimes because they are really narrowly benefitting Trump. What Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes did was always for the party and the Republican electorate. Obviously they'd personally benefit as well, but today it's almost the other way around. Anyone associated with Trump is stenched forever.
John Dickerson: Senators Can't Use Phones Or Talk To Each Other During Impeachment Trial
posted by mumimor at 12:14 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


Random thought: Oliver North taught us that a presidential pardon is unnecessary if Congress grants you immunity first. Has Schiff considered this tactic with regards to some of the recalcitrant witnesses?

I’m thinking specifically of Bolton — he’s clearly indicating he wants to talk but wants legal cover before he goes on the record. Since what we know about his actions to this point points to the unlikeliness of him actually broken any laws with regards to this matter, maybe this would be a good way to compel his testimony?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:21 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’m thinking specifically of Bolton — he’s clearly indicating he wants to talk but wants legal cover before he goes on the record.

Bolton doesn't work for the administration any more and they have no authority over him save for restrictions on revealing classified data. The legal cover Schiff could grant is an immunity from prosecution based on crimes one would basically confess to in the process of incriminating Trump, but the indications so far don't seem to be that Bolton is worries about legal jeopardy for himself regarding the Ukraine extortion -- notwithstanding whatever other crimes he may be guilty of -- but immediately recognized that the call raised legal problems for Trump.

But Bolton knows Trump has no authority to issue a gag order. He's only doing this dance to bolster Trump's gag orders against other people while pretending he wants to cooperate. He could testify if he wanted to.
posted by Gelatin at 1:16 PM on November 11, 2019 [10 favorites]




The legal cover Schiff could grant is an immunity from prosecution based on crimes one would basically confess to in the process of incriminating Trump

Let's grant this bastard Congressional Immunity and see what secrets he's hiding under that moustache. It's not like we're ever going to prosecute him for his war crimes, anyway.
posted by dis_integration at 1:30 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


What got me thinking about immunity is the report that Parnas is preparing to sing — he appears to be doing the math and has decided that leniency in exchange for cooperation is much more likely than a pardon. And he’s making overtures specifically to the House, so if there’s gonna be any quid pro quo in the offing, it might as well be in defense of the republic .
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’m thinking specifically of Bolton — he’s clearly indicating he wants to talk but wants legal cover before he goes on the record.

I don't think that is clear at all. There is nothing preventing Bolton from testifying to congress right now, today. Plenty of executive staff have already testified with no legal jeopardy. The fact that Bolton is not willing to testify and is looking for a judge to make him do so indicates that he really doesn't want to comply without a fight.

There is absolutely nothing that Trump can do to Bolton - no law, no penalty, no crime - to prevent him from testifying. Bolton is not testifying because he has personally chosen not to cooperate with the impeachment investigation.
posted by JackFlash at 1:43 PM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]


So this Daniel Goldman guy is a RICO specialist, and those who know of him (Christ, how many characters must we get to know in this drama) are thrilled. RICO specialist, big results, and television friendly. But this is an impeachment proceeding. Are they lining up things for criminal cases afterwards? That would be good. RICO removes that hiatus of responsibility between one who orders, and one who commits. Sounds good.
posted by stonepharisee at 2:12 PM on November 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


What got me thinking about immunity is the report that Parnas is preparing to sing — he appears to be doing the math and has decided that leniency in exchange for cooperation is much more likely than a pardon.

Manafort basically kept his mouth shut and no pardon has been forthcoming. Flynn is in the same boat. I don’t think he wants to wait until Trump remembers to unfuck his allies because it seems to be very low on Trump’s priority list.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:29 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ex-Trump aide John Bolton has deal for book that may publish before 2020 election, reports say

The same literary agency that represented former FBI Director James Comey and the anonymous author of "A Warning" helped Bolton land the $2 million deal, according to AP.

I just don't know. He wants to spill his guts but control the narrative? He's such a giant asshole in so many dimensions it must be hard to write a book where he's the good guy. Being asked a bunch of questions by Dems in congress will never make him look like the good guy.
posted by adept256 at 2:30 PM on November 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


Testifying before congress may steal the lead and kill the public relations hype for his book deal. Much better to save all the good stuff for his book promotion.

He has a financial motive to delay testifying as long a possible, perhaps running out the impeachment clock so he never has to testify.
posted by JackFlash at 2:38 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


State Department Freed Ukraine Money Before Trump Says He Did

President Donald Trump says he lifted his freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, but the State Department had quietly authorized releasing $141 million of the money several days earlier, according to five people familiar with the matter.

...

What they didn’t know, according to one of the people, was that shortly before Sept. 9, Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who resigned from the job a week later, did so with Trump’s approval.

Bolton took away their quid! And then walked! If only more people rage quit like that.

C'mon John, tell your story.
posted by adept256 at 2:49 PM on November 11, 2019 [23 favorites]


Testifying before congress may steal the lead and kill the public relations hype for his book deal. Much better to save all the good stuff for his book promotion.

He has a financial motive to delay testifying as long a possible, perhaps running out the impeachment clock so he never has to testify.


Except by not testifying he boxes himself in as a quisling at best and a traitor at worst if his book is at all juicy with details.

My guess is that as always he wants a position with the next Republican administration so he can continue to push for his dream of mass human sacrifice to his war god.
posted by srboisvert at 3:49 PM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Giuliani considers launching an impeachment podcast amid public hearings (CNN)
Rudy Giuliani is considering re-entering the impeachment fray by launching a podcast to provide impeachment analysis of the public hearings in the House of Representatives scheduled for later this week.
Giuliani was overheard discussing the plans with an unidentified woman while at a crowded New York City restaurant, Sant Ambroeus, over lunch on Saturday. The conversation, which lasted more than an hour, touched on details including dates for recording and releasing the podcast, settling on a logo, and the process of uploading the podcast to iTunes and other podcast distributors.
...
Giuliani also mentioned two op-eds for major newspapers he was planning on publishing, the first of which would explain why Trump is "unimpeachable" and the second offering an explanation of Giuliani's defense of his client, the President.
What could go wrong?
posted by Preserver at 4:08 PM on November 11, 2019 [14 favorites]


Except by not testifying he boxes himself in as a quisling at best and a traitor at worst if his book is at all juicy with details.

How is he boxing himself in? He could testify today but he chooses not to. He just needs to run out the clock on the impeachment saying "I would have loved to testify, but I don't have the blessing of those pesky judges", ignoring the fact that he (through his protege), is the one who ran to the pesky judges asking them to delay/decide for him.

Bolton's objective is not to take down Trump. He could have done that in any number of ways if that is what he really wanted. Bolton's primary objective is to promote Bolton and his toxic brand of extremist right-wing militarism.
posted by JackFlash at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Rudy is trying to outrun the bus, heh.
posted by ryanrs at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2019


Giuliani considers launching an impeachment podcast amid public hearings
That's fabulous news. I won't have to go all over the internet to find out what's going on. He will have confessed everything, and it'll all be in one place.
posted by MtDewd at 4:21 PM on November 11, 2019 [10 favorites]


Setting the WABAC Machine to last month, remember when Giuliani accidentally butt-dialed an NBC reporter twice (jeez Louise, this timeline), saying, "Charles would have a hard time with a fraud case 'cause he didn't do any due diligence," at one point? Roger Sollenberger at Salon (Nov. 10, 2019) thinks "Charles" is Charles Gucciardo (of personal injury firm Gucciardo Law):

"Last week Giuliani and Gucciardo confirmed to the New York Times that Gucciardo gave $500,000 to the former mayor through Giuliani’s firm, Giuliani Partners, in two payments in September and October 2018. According to Gucciardo’s lawyer, the payments went to Giuliani on behalf of Fraud Guarantee, a company co-managed by Giuliani’s clients Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Their work with Fraud Guarantee — whose mission statement is to help their customers “reduce and mitigate fraud” — helped earn them a federal indictment last month... Strangely enough, we still don’t yet know how Gucciardo, Giuliani, and Parnas all met. The only thing that binds this group other than money is, oddly enough, Christianné Allen."

Christianné Allen is Giuliani's recently-hired, 20-year-old communications director; she is also "currently the most solid connection between the work the President’s private attorney was doing in Ukraine, an ongoing federal investigation into two of his clients, and a Long Island personal injury lawyer who for reasons still unclear reportedly paid Giuliani $500,000 in two lump-sum “loans” on behalf of a scam business in the fall of 2018."
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:04 PM on November 11, 2019 [12 favorites]


remember when Giuliani accidentally butt-dialed an NBC reporter twice

The whistleblower no-one wanted.
posted by adept256 at 8:35 PM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


remember when Giuliani accidentally butt-dialed an NBC reporter twice

Also remember that Trump appointed Giuliani to be his White House cybersecurity adviser.
posted by JackFlash at 8:50 PM on November 11, 2019 [21 favorites]


Yeah, somehow that's Gucciardo's excuse for climbing into bed, too: Gucciardo’s lawyer told the Times the funds were loans convertible into equity in the company. As the Times pointed out, though, Fraud Guarantee doesn’t seem to have any clients or customers, and it’s unclear why someone in Gucciardo’s position — an experienced lawyer — would invest half a million dollars in such a company. Per Gucciardo’s lawyer, he did so because Giuliani was involved, and Giuliani was “the first name in cybersecurity.

The accidental phone business is ridiculous, but let's not forget how Giuliani deliberately "revealed text messages of conversations between himself and senior officials at the State Department that he says show they endorsed his controversial dealings with Ukraine" (Newsweek, Sept. 27, 2019) on Fox.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:30 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


New testimony adds 2 stunning and previously unknown details about the Ukraine quid pro quo (Cody Fenwick, Alternet)
But testimony from Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, included two new details about the scheme that we hadn’t previously been aware of.

Here’s the key portion of her testimony:
Cooper: But towards the end of August when [Volker] met with me for what, you know, I thought was going to be you know just a routine touch base on Ukraine, but also I thought it was going to be a strategizing session on how do we get this security assistance released knowing that we both—we both wanted the funding released. So in that meeting he did mention something to me that, you know, was the first about somehow an effort that he was engaged in to see if there was a statement that the government of Ukraine would make that would somehow disavow any interference in U.S. elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election interference. And that was about as specific as it got.

Q: Okay. Did he indicate to you that if that channel he was working was successful it might lift this issue?

Cooper: Yes.

[emphasis added]
[...] as the bolded section above suggests, it seems the Trump team wasn’t just asking for an investigation — which would be bad enough — but asking for Ukraine to commit to prosecutions. This is completely inappropriate and corrupt because a person’s involvement in a crime does not necessarily mean they are culpable or worthy of prosecution. Asking a foreign country to commit to prosecuting “any individuals involved in election interference” before any such investigation has been conducted is a step beyond the damning scandal that has already been uncovered. Especially because, given the leverage Trump held over Ukraine, the country could have easily concluded that he wanted prosecutions no matter what the facts showed.

Second, this passage also indicated that Volker knew about the link between the military aid and the announcement of investigations — two key components at the heart of the quid pro quo. It’s not clear whether he passed along this ultimatum to the Ukrainians, as Ambassador Gordon Sondland has admitted to doing. But Cooper’s testimony indicated he made the connection before he even knew about the contents of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky in which the demands were made explicit.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:46 PM on November 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


GOP outlines theory of impeachment defense in memo to members
The Republicans claim these four pieces of evidence are "fatal" to the allegations that Trump used military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

"The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure;

President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call;

The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call; and

President Trump met with President Zelensky and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 — both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating President Trump’s political rivals."
Ceterum censeo, Trumpo delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 PM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]


For #3: DOD Announces $250M to Ukraine, in a June 2019 press release; if Ukraine hadn't been looped in about delivery/dispersal of that support, or were constantly put off when asking after it, wouldn't that have made the delay apparent? Can't figure out the funds-release timeline after announcements like this.

Also, Rick Perry's still dragging his feet about testifying, though others' Testimony highlights Rick Perry's central role in Ukraine scandal as he prepares to exit (CNN, Nov. 9, 2019)

Earlier today: After push from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine (PBS.org, Nov 11, 2019)
Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country’s new president. [...] Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry’s supporters little more than a month after the U.S. energy secretary attended Zelenskiy’s May inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers. One of the four names was his longtime political backer Michael Bleyzer.

Perry likely had outsized influence in Ukraine. Testimony in the impeachment inquiry into Trump shows the energy secretary was one of three key U.S. officials who were negotiating a meeting between Trump and the Ukrainian leader.

The sequence of events suggests the Trump administration’s political maneuvering in Ukraine was entwined with the big business of the energy trade.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:31 PM on November 11, 2019 [10 favorites]


GOP outlines theory of impeachment defense in memo to members

..."The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure;

The July 25 call summary -- which Trump released in his own defense -- clearly has Trump ask a foreign nation to interfere in the US election by digging up dirt on a political rival. That's an impeachable offense all by itself.

And while Republicans try to muddy the waters by rules lawyering as to whether there was a quid pro quo (Ron Howard narrator voice: There was), this "defense" concedes the fact that Trump asked a foreign nation to interfere in the US election by digging up dirt on a political rival, which is an impeachable offense all by itself.
posted by Gelatin at 2:41 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


(So as not to abuse the edit window: "shows no conditionality" also fails because Trump said ""I would like you to do us a favor though" (emphasis added). "Though" is conditional. As with Trump's "read the transcript" defense, they're hoping people will accept waht they say the call readout says instead of what it actually says, which was alarming enough for White House officials to abuse the classification system to bury it.)
posted by Gelatin at 2:46 AM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


Current WP headlines: White House infighting flares amid Democrats’ probe and Trump cites Ukraine’s corruption, European stinginess to justify his actions. Neither rationale withstands scrutiny.

Trump used to be our problem. Now he is their problem. That is better.
posted by stonepharisee at 4:28 AM on November 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


As for the No Pressure! part, the fucking RED ARMY is two hours drive from Kiev. The only thing in their way is Ukraine's alliances, which congress voted to support, but no pressure!
posted by adept256 at 4:41 AM on November 12, 2019 [22 favorites]


Well, and last night's Maddow show lined up all the pressure on Ukraine before Perry got his sycophants an oil deal. Basically, as I understand it, the timeline is

Congress approved multichannel funding to Ukraine.
Guiliani sends Lev and Co to Ukraine to tell new Ukraine government that if they didn't announce investigations into Biden, then Pence wouldn't come to the new president's inauguration.
Ukraine did not announce investigations.
Pence did not go to the inauguration, instead went to Canada.
Perry went to Ukraine, taking with him two huge donors to Perry's campaigns.
At inauguration, Perry gave the new Ukraine president a list of people Ukraine "should hire as energy consultants". On the list are Perry donors.
Guiliani, Lev, and co, continue to pressure Ukraine for misinformation on Clinton, Biden.
Russia ramps up attacks.
Ukraine caves and hires Perry associates, including giving them a long term oil exploration contract, even though it was millions and millions lower than other bidders.
Military aid to Ukraine still held up.
POTUS has call with Ukraine president.
US military and state department personnel start asking why the aid approved by Congress has not been released.
Legal rulings are made in various departments that the aid being withheld is illegal. Some funds released without POTUS permission.
Bolton, upon hearing rulings, releases remainder of aid, possibly without informing POTUS.
Bolton resigns.


All of this because of some bizarre-universe conspiracy theory that Racist Grandpa POTUS has been fed, probably by Vizier Steve Miller.

This is just insane, y'all. I mean, bugfuck, how the hell did we get here, insane.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:58 AM on November 12, 2019 [108 favorites]


Well that was a great public service SecretAgentSockPuppet! Thanks!
posted by Harry Caul at 7:05 AM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]




Press Watch: After all its great reporting, Washington Post self-gaslights on impeachment (Dan Froomkin, Salon & Press Watchers)
Days after publishing damning reports on Trump's conduct, WaPo bizarrely suggests he was a "supporting character"

National security reporter Greg Jaffe’s masterpiece of credulity reflects an extraordinary willingness to doubt not only the facts as amply reported by his own and other major media outlets, but to reject his own previous reporting.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:25 AM on November 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


If Trump is a "supporting character" in his own Presidency and the way the Trump Administration attempted to extort Ukraine then that in and of itself is grounds for impeachment for incompetence and inability or refusal to do his job.

The President is not supposed to be a fucking supporting character in anything that happens in the White House.
posted by sotonohito at 8:04 AM on November 12, 2019 [26 favorites]


Days after publishing damning reports on Trump's conduct, WaPo bizarrely suggests he was a "supporting character"

Sounds like they're going to go with the "rogue staffers" thing that Haley has been trying to get out there as a theme and maybe throw Giuliani under the bus to sell it. Gives them both an alleged out for Trump and a way to attack Democrats by claiming that's where the staffers' loyalties lie.

I mean it's obviously bullshit, but can be sold to the base and fits their usual M.O. pretty well.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:17 AM on November 12, 2019


the fucking RED ARMY is two hours drive from Kiev.

While is see your point, I don't think they have called it the Red Army since World War 2 (despite Patrick Swayze in a 1980s movie.)
posted by JackFlash at 8:24 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Trump called Bolton at home to have him cancel a Navy destroyer's freedom-of-navigation voyage into the Black Sea.

From the comments it looks like this is the CNN article that prompted the president of the United States to stop a mission by the US Navy to avoid provoking the president of Russia.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:30 AM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


[One deleted; let's avoid a digression over "red army" and conflating today's Russia with USSR of many decades ago]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:41 AM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


The Whistleblower Complaint Has Largely Been Corroborated. Here's How.
Trump has spent weeks questioning the whistleblower's motives and slamming the account for being inaccurate. But as this annotation shows, most of the complaint has been corroborated during closed-door depositions of administration officials, through public statements and from a rough transcript of the call itself, released by the White House.
The Fact Checker’s guide to impeachment hearing spin
During the deposition stage of the investigation, Trump and his allies have offered false and misleading claims that we have debunked over the past few weeks. Here’s a guide to some of the most significant claims.
Ceterum autem censeo Trump delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 8:51 AM on November 12, 2019 [7 favorites]


Yesterday Mulvaney filed a motion to try to freeload on the back the of Klupperman/Bolton lawsuit to prevent testimony. Bolton and Klupperman told Mulvaney to get lost. No love there.

So today Mulvaney announces that he is no longer going to sue in court, ask a judge, to ignore the House subpoena. He's just going to flat out ignore it.

Republicans should be concerned about the legal precedents they are setting. They are completely neutering the legislative branch and deferring to the executive. But then again, installation of an authoritarian dictator may be their objective. But you would think having a crazy one would give them pause.
posted by JackFlash at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


During the deposition stage of the investigation, Trump and his allies have offered false and misleading claims

You don't say! Gee, Washington Post, why would someone do that?
posted by Gelatin at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


But then again, installation of an authoritarian dictator may be their objective. But you would think having a crazy one would give them pause.

We started out with a crazy dictator, may as well finish with one.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:23 AM on November 12, 2019


Republicans should be concerned about the legal precedents they are setting. They are completely neutering the legislative branch and deferring to the executive. But then again, installation of an authoritarian dictator may be their objective. But you would think having a crazy one would give them pause.

After three years of Trump, it's pretty clear that Republicans believe that any right wing authoritarian is better than any Democrat. And of course they will rediscover their Constitutional principles the moment a Democrats is elected President, but they're fools to think they can just put the genie of authoritarianism back in the bottle. The next time Republican legislators try to gin up a BENGHAZI!!1! or a "butter emails," a Democratic president can just tell them to get lost, and remind them that they were all fine with it under Trump.
posted by Gelatin at 9:36 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


So just to put things into a broader international context - The President of the United States has chosen to abandon two allies - The Ukraine and the Kurds and gone silent on China's Uighur genocide and rollback of Hong Kong's democracy. The result is geopolitical and military victories for Russia, Turkey, Iran and China.

In every case it is a loss for democracy and western values. The United States as a symbol of freedom and democracy is in full gallop retreat.

The only actual overt commitments Trump has made are to protect oil in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
posted by srboisvert at 10:10 AM on November 12, 2019 [54 favorites]


In every case it is a loss for democracy and western values...The only actual overt commitments Trump has made are to protect oil in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

So, so true. This is what makes me want to respond to anyone echoing the bullshit "but he wanted to investigate corruption" talking points by spitting on their shoes.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:16 AM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


the fucking RED ARMY is two hours drive from Kiev.

While is see your point, I don't think they have called it the Red Army since World War 2 (despite Patrick Swayze in a 1980s movie.)


In fact during the invasion of the Ukraine they were called Little Green Men or Polite People because they were not in uniform for disinformation purposes (It seems that in the United States they go by the name Business Associates or Interns).
posted by srboisvert at 10:16 AM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


(I don't think it is polite to write or say the Ukraine)
posted by mumimor at 10:18 AM on November 12, 2019 [14 favorites]



The President is not supposed to be a fucking supporting character in anything that happens in the White House.

Charles Pierce at Esquire calls it "Camp Runamok".
posted by srboisvert at 10:27 AM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


The House has released the testimony of Catherine Croft, a Ukraine specialist with the State Department. There's some very important new information in her testimony.

Croft says that the delivery of Javelin missiles was put on hold by the OMB, Office of the Management of the Budget. Mick Mulvaney is the head of the OMB, one of the several hats that he wears in addition to Chief of Staff for Trump. Normally the OMB doesn't get in to setting policy. They just authorize the Treasure to cut checks.

Croft says that in a principals committee meeting that all of the entire foreign policy experts from the State Department, Defense, and intelligence departments approved of the transfer and thought it was important to the defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression.

All except Mick Mulvaney who, contrary to everyone else in the government and working on Trump's orders, said out loud that Putin wouldn't like it.

So it wasn't just the investigations that Trump wanted into the Bidens that was causing the hold up. It was also Trump working to keep Putin as his friend, the friend who helped him in the last election and presumably wanted to help him in the 2020 election.

This is yet another betrayal of the country. Do you think Republicans will be upset?
posted by JackFlash at 10:46 AM on November 12, 2019 [37 favorites]


I mean, it could be that the House is ignoring the most important quid pro quo. Trump telling Putin, I'll help you if you help me.
posted by JackFlash at 10:52 AM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


"The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure;

The word "though", in the sentence "do us a favor though", implies conditionality
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


Comcast's NBCUniversal has handed down the talking points for a second day. MSNBC's Katy Tur is still pushing a presumed background angle that americans are most worried that the impeachment process tomorrow will be unfair. Madeleine Dean D-Penn, yesterday called her out on it mid-interview with a disappointed "Oh, my dear . .." when Tur kept repeating questions from that angle. Dean ended up scolding her as being "dark and cynical".
posted by Harry Caul at 11:18 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I tuned in to NPR’s The Takeaway to see how they’re playing it and was pleasantly surprised that all three guests forcefully took the reins of the discussion away from the “but why are we so Divisive (tm) today” host and steered firmly into the “this is about bribery, extortion, abuse of power and the selling-out of the country for personal gain” path.

Exactly. It's only "divisive" because one party has cynically decided to condone bribery, extortion, abuse of power and the selling-out of the country for personal gain if it gets them tax cuts and conservative judges.

Which is why Democrats and other loyal Americans should be shaming Republicans at every opportunity for their presumed lockstep support of Trump, and not let the media concern troll them about making Republicans uncomfortable by presenting Trump's crimes to the American people in no uncertain terms.

(The same is true about equal rights. It's only divisive to recognize the human rights of all American citizens and residents when some people refuse to do so.)
posted by Gelatin at 12:49 PM on November 12, 2019 [21 favorites]


Croft says that in a principals committee meeting that all of the entire foreign policy experts from the State Department, Defense, and intelligence departments approved of the transfer and thought it was important to the defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression.

All except Mick Mulvaney who, contrary to everyone else in the government and working on Trump's orders, said out loud that Putin wouldn't like it


Jeezo beezo, if I were running the news, that would be my top-of-the-fold, first up on broadcast, continuous loop on the ticker headline. Why are the Democrats not hammering this portion of the transcript and publicly calling Mulvaney out?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2019 [35 favorites]


In every case it is a loss for democracy and western values. The United States as a symbol of freedom and democracy is in full gallop retreat.

Let's please not pretend that "western values" and the US's spin on freedom and democracy are only recently falling from high.
posted by el gran combo at 1:15 PM on November 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


One question about SecretAgentSockpuppet's timeline up above: is the whole Rick-Perry-gets-his-buddies-plum-deals thing actually connected to the larger aid-withholding picture, or is it a separate grift either piggybacked on the pressure others are putting on or being run entirely in parallel? Because what he's asking for seems wholly disconnected from the whole Guiliani/Trump/Mulvaney/Pence project.
posted by jackbishop at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rick Perry isn't a gangster, he's a schmuck. I don't think there's any way he'd be allowed into the real crimeing gang. They're just letting him do the same run-of-the-mill favoring we had a century ago. His timeline here could be dropped into Deadwood as a comical C-plot with a little rewriting and a costume change.
posted by rhizome at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'd speculate that the prevailing attitude that "it's all a grift so get your grifting on" enables dimwitted folks like Perry to start reaching out for grift partners and... those partners tend to be the same cast of characters. So, no but mostly yes.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:27 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


That's to say that a lot of these folks are in it for the side-hustle, but the side hustle generally turns out to be another branch of the main hussle which is stupid amounts of petro dollars knocking about in pariah states.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:31 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's only "divisive" because one party has cynically decided to condone bribery, extortion, abuse of power and the selling-out of the country for personal gain if it gets them tax cuts and conservative judges.

Quoted for fucking truth, Gelatin. And I hope Democratic Party officials and especially the elected politicians hear you and keep hammering at that point.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:32 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


In private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest (NBC News)
According to six people who were there, Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives real estate deals: When one deal doesn’t work, you move on to the next. [...] his pointed comments, at a private gathering last Wednesday at Morgan Stanley’s global investment event in Miami, painted a dark image of a president and his family whose potential personal gain is at the heart of decision-making, according to people who were present for his remarks. [...]

Bolton told the gathering of Morgan Stanley’s largest hedge fund clients that he was most frustrated with Trump over his handling of Turkey, people who were present said. Noting the broad bipartisan support in Congress to sanction Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan purchased a Russian missile defense system, Bolton said Trump’s resistance to the move was unreasonable, four people present for his speech said.

Bolton said he believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue, the people present said. The Trump Organization has a property in Istanbul, and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump attended the opening with Erdogan in 2012. Though it’s a leasing agreement for use of the Trump name, Trump himself said in a 2015 interview that the arrangement presented “a little conflict of interest” should he be elected. [...]

Like other former Trump advisers, Bolton said regardless of how much evidence is provided to Trump that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the president refuses to take any action because he views any move against Moscow as giving credence to the notion that his election is invalid, the people present for Bolton's remarks said.
posted by katra at 1:35 PM on November 12, 2019 [17 favorites]


In private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest

More like all of his foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest, either his or Putin's.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:09 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Oh, man. From katra's NBC link:

Multiple people who attended Bolton’s private speech in Miami did not recall him mentioning Ukraine but said he told attendees that he had kept a resignation letter in his desk for three months.

At one point in his closed-door remarks, Bolton was asked what he thinks will happen in January 2021 if Trump is re-elected, people present for his remarks said. [...] Bolton said Trump could go full isolationist — with the faction of the Republican Party that aligns with [Rand] Paul’s foreign policy views taking over the GOP — and could withdraw the U.S. from NATO and other international alliances, three people present for his remarks said.

He also suggested that Kushner and Ivanka Trump could convince the president to rewrite his legacy and nominate a liberal like Lawrence Tribe — a Harvard Law professor who has questioned Trump’s fitness for office and was a legal adviser to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign — to the Supreme Court, the people present for Bolton's speech said.

Bolton said, with an eye roll that suggested he doesn’t take them seriously, that Kushner and Ivanka Trump could do so in an attempt to prove they had real influence and were in the White House representing the people they want to be in social circles with at home in New York City, the people present for his remarks said.

Those present said that at that point, the audience appeared shocked.


An isolationist policy would be terrible for international business, and the Supreme Court maneuvering is a thing he's been doing right in the lights of some supporters -- like the people attending this shindig. Now I want to sort through the late summer headlines/crises, the time period when Bolton's saying he prepped the resignation letter. (Probably just spin, I know: Bolton has been writing a book, having reached a deal with Simon & Schuster, and people present for his remarks in Miami said he suggested to the audience several times that if they read it, there would be much more material along the lines of what was in his speech.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2019 [7 favorites]


This is what I don’t get about Bolton — why doesn’t he testify? It’s clear he doesn’t like Trump and thinks he’s doing real harm to the country. Hell, he’s telling paid audiences but not the fucking Congress.

Does he realize when he says Trump is using the office for personal gain that is precisely the sort of behavior that the founders intended to address by impeachment?

It’s not unique behavior, either. The number of Never Trump Republicans who support impeachment is actually quite small. Sure, Jeff Flake will tell you how terrible Trump is but God forbid you associate him with Democrats! Why, they’re just unreasonable!

Partisanship, man. It’s a helluva mind-killer.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:28 PM on November 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


But I will say this: it does confirm that Bolton’s warmongering is all false bravado. He’ll happily send other people to die for his pet ideas but the moment he has to show some personal intestinal fortitude, he hides behind presidential directives to stay silent.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:32 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Let's please not pretend that "western values" and the US's spin on freedom and democracy are only recently falling from high.

Let's also please not pretend that what's happening now is just a continuation of the way it's been for generations.
posted by Lyme Drop at 2:37 PM on November 12, 2019 [18 favorites]


Look. John Bolton is to total and utter loon. He is affiliated with the Center for Security Policy, a right-wingnut outfit run by total loon and conspiracist Frank Gaffney.

These are the folks behind the idea that Obama is a secret Muslim, that Saddam Hussein was the real planner behind the 9/11 attacks, that Hillary's assistant Huma Abedin is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, that the logo of the US Missile Defense Agency is a coded message of submission to Islam because it looks too much like a crescent and star, that Gen. Petraeus submitted to Sharia, that the Broward County sheriffs office is riddled with agents of Hamas.

Nobody should listen to a word Bolton says without realizing he is a full on crazy man. He's a danger to your own sanity.
posted by JackFlash at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2019 [21 favorites]


Hell, he’s telling paid audiences but not the fucking Congress.

I think you answered your own question. Consider "[Bolton] suggested to the audience several times that if they read [his upcoming book], there would be much more material along the lines of what was in his speech." If he goes to Congress he has to spill everything for free.

Bolton is 70. I think at some level he understands that he's very unlikely to serve in government again. This is him grabbing six figure speaking fees and a fat book advance while he still can.
posted by jedicus at 2:42 PM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, ginning up interest in his stupid book. Perhaps someone with standing could offer Bolton a cheque to drop by Congress for a chat, since he's made clear that's the only way to motivate him. (Yet only a few days ago, the State Department's early-September release of the Ukraine funds was credited to Bolton's independent go-ahead... Bolton's the mustachioed man of mystery nowadays, and there was more peace of mind when he was a predictable hawk.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:50 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Meet the Inquisitors About to Rule the Impeachment Hearing
One’s a former mob-buster. The other’s a veteran of more than a decade of Capitol Hill’s most divisive investigations. And on Wednesday both will go prime time.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:23 PM on November 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


This is what I don’t get about Bolton — why doesn’t he testify? It’s clear he doesn’t like Trump and thinks he’s doing real harm to the country. Hell, he’s telling paid audiences but not the fucking Congress.

If he testified, Bolton would never get confirmed to another administration position again, and he probably has wars he still wants to start.
posted by Gelatin at 3:31 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


In part, I think Bolton wants a subpoena, and he wants it enforced by a court ruling because apparently subpoena's are meaningless on their own now. That way he can say "I had to testify, I didn't have a choice." He wants to face the rest of the right wing with some form of plausible deniability going forward.
Also, yeah, there's the book deal and his generally being a shitty person.

What surprises me is that he had to know his "private" speech would leak. That had to be part of the calculus in speaking in the first place, but it would seem to undermine that deniability. Again, though: book hype.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:45 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


If he testified, Bolton would never get confirmed to another administration position again

The joke's on you: he's never been confirmed for any position! Ambassador to the UN under Bush43 was a recess appointment which Bolton quit at the end because he wasn't going to be able to get confirmed. The National Security Advisor is not a confirmed position. Everything else has been appointments to Deputy Undersecretary of Yelling type jobs.
posted by rhizome at 4:07 PM on November 12, 2019 [35 favorites]




Specifically:
It has just come to my attention that then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton was interviewed on July 18, 2003 by the State Department Office of the Inspector General in connection with a joint State Department/CIA IG investigation related to the alleged Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger. This information would appear to be inconsistent with information that Mr. Bolton provided to the Committee on Foreign Relations during the Committee’s consideration of his pending nomination to be Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

-- excerpt, Sen. Joe Biden's letter of concern to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, July 28, 2005 [BREAKING: Biden Questions Whether Bolton Testimony Was “True and Accurate” (ThinkProgress, July 28, 2005)]

The very day before that: Biden: Did Bolton Testify In Leak Investigation? (ThinkProgress, July 27, 2005) "The following is a text of a letter from Sen. Joseph Biden asking the Bush administration to clarify whether John Bolton has testified before the grand jury investigating the Valerie Plame leak"... On July 21, 2005, MSNBC reported that Under Secretary Bolton testified before the federal grand jury in Washington that is investigating the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame as an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency. [...] As you know, the Committee questionnaire, which the nominee completed in March, requires all nominees to inform the Committee whether they have been “interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative (including an inspector general), Congressional or grand jury investigation within the past 5 years, except routine Congressional testimony.

Trump liked Bolton because he was a Fox contributor who knew the lay of the land (but was also a known *****): Why John Bolton Couldn't Get Confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (Time, March 23, 2018) Bolton had offended a host of Washington characters in his decades in government. Colin Powell had confessed to Senators that he was worried about the way Bolton mistreated subordinates, TIME reported, and 60 retired diplomats had sent a letter to the committee speaking out against the nomination.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:44 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Bolton wants a subpoena, and he wants it enforced by a court ruling because apparently subpoena's are meaningless on their own now

So representational democracy and John Bolton have something in common, after all.

Schiff and the Dems may have strategic reasons for not enforcing Congressional subpoenas, but when the tables are turned (and they will be), they will have pounded a nail in the coffin of democracy themselves. Grave mistake, IMHO.
posted by Dashy at 6:09 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Let's please not pretend that "western values" and the US's spin on freedom and democracy are only recently falling from high.

I think it is more that the mask has been fully yanked off, and this is the tipping point. Very little opportunity for polite or plausible deniability.

If there is anything to "western values", that banner is now being waved in Europe not the Anglosphere.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:39 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is what I don’t get about Bolton — why doesn’t he testify? It’s clear he doesn’t like Trump and thinks he’s doing real harm to the country. Hell, he’s telling paid audiences but not the fucking Congress.

If you have skeletons in your closet -- and rest assured that John fucking Bolton has skeletons in his closet -- you do not go before Congress under oath lightly.

Bolton has an axe to grind with Trump, but he will only wield it under very specific ass-covering circumstances.
posted by delfin at 6:41 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think Iris Gambol revealed the crux of the matter - Biden (and the Dems) screwed Bolton out of “his” ambassadorship so now is his opportunity to make Biden (and the Dems) twist in the wind. He won’t do the right thing without taking his pound of flesh at the same time.

Now it makes sense to me.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:01 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


WaPo: 7:30 a.m.: GOP staff says Trump’s ‘mindset’ key to call with Zelensky [emphasis added below]
A staff memo prepared for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee argues that Trump’s “mindset” is key to interpreting his July 25 call with Zelensky. “President Trump has generally been skeptical of foreign assistance, believing that European allies should contribute their fair share to regional defense,” says the memo, which is dated Tuesday and was first reported by Axios. “President Trump has had, for years preceding the call, a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism toward Ukraine due to its pervasive corruption. President Trump is well aware of actions by senior Ukrainian government officials to work for his defeat in the 2016 election. These experiences colored President Trump’s interaction with President Zelensky.”
To Exonerate Trump, Republicans Embrace Russian Disinformation (Michelle Goldberg, NYT Opinion)
[...] the House Republicans who are actually involved in the hearings seem set to go all in on the fantasy of Ukrainian election interference. To exonerate Trump, they are ready to help cover for Russia. [...] Nunes made his intention clear, writing of Trump’s “documented belief that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 election,” which “forms the basis for a reasonable desire for Ukraine to investigate the circumstances surrounding the election.”

The conspiracy theories that undergird the president’s “documented belief” aren’t really coherent, but they don’t have to be to serve their purpose, which is sowing confusion about the well-established fact that Russia assisted Trump’s campaign. They posit not just that Manafort was set up, but also that Democrats worked with Ukraine to frame Russia for hacking Democrats’ emails, a dastardly Democratic plot that led to Trump’s election. Naturally, George Soros, perennial scapegoat for the far right, is also involved.

“George Soros was behind it. George Soros’s company was funding it,” Giuliani said on ABC in September, spinning tales of Hillary Clinton’s collusion with Ukraine. [...] Some of these lies seem to have originated in Russia; documents from the Mueller investigation recently obtained by BuzzFeed News show that Manafort was blaming Ukraine for the Democratic National Committee hack back in 2016, a story he apparently got from one of his associates, a former Russian intelligence officer named Konstantin Kilimnik. [...] A few of Trump’s more responsible aides have reportedly tried to disabuse him of Ukraine conspiracy theories, to no avail. Instead it appears that House Republicans, out of slavish fealty to the president, are going to use high-profile hearings to amplify them.

In her testimony, Hill seemed to warn Republicans off their current path. She mentioned the report issued last month by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee about how Russia used online propaganda to boost Trump in 2016. “If we have people running around chasing rabbit holes because Rudy Giuliani or others have been feeding information to The Hill, Politico, we are not going to be prepared as a country to push back on this again,” she said. “The Russians thrive on misinformation and disinformation.” Unfortunately, so do Trump’s defenders.
posted by katra at 7:09 PM on November 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


If there is anything to "western values", that banner is now being waved in Europe not the Anglosphere.

Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic would like a word with you. Also, the Tories in the UK, the National Front in France, and AfD in Germany are trying to drag Western Values behind a dumpster for a curb stomping.

Frankly, democratic values are under assault around the world.

Maybe New Zealand?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:09 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


We thought Trump was the biggest con man. We were all wrong. (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)
Many of President Trump’s critics (myself included) have portrayed him as a fantastically successful con artist, a man who has swindled customers, vendors and voters alike.

We were all wrong. Trump isn’t history’s biggest scam artist; he’s history’s biggest dupe.

At least, that’s the narrative Trump and his defenders are spinning as they portray the president as the victim of an elaborate, long-running political sting, perpetrated by his own devious underlings.

[…]

Four of the five sitting Federal Reserve governors, for instance, were Republicans handpicked for their current positions by Trump, and yet Trump now says they represent the “biggest threat” to his presidency and are an “enemy” to America. He has similarly accused his own Cabinet members, White House counsel, FBI director and other senior officials of allegedly plotting against him.

These connivers have been astoundingly effective. Somehow they’ve tricked Trump into saying and doing racist and corrupt things, in public and on camera. They hoodwinked him into passing economic policies that punish his working-class base while rewarding wealthy donors. And, worst of all — in the case of Ukraine — these schemers suckered Trump into subordinating U.S. national security to his own selfish political interests.

Either that or they cleverly framed him.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:58 PM on November 12, 2019 [26 favorites]


Rep. Adam Schiff: Trump's Potentially Impeachable Offenses Include Bribery (NPR)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep during an interview at the Capitol on Tuesday that he thinks there's a clear argument to be made that Trump committed "bribery" and "high crimes and misdemeanors" — both explicitly outlined in the Constitution as impeachable offenses — when pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son in exchange for long-promised military aid.

"Bribery, first of all, as the founders understood bribery, it was not as we understand it in law today. It was much broader," Schiff said. "It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you're offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation's interest."

To prove bribery, Schiff said, you have to show that the president was "soliciting something of value," which Schiff thinks multiple witnesses before his committee have testified to in private. [...] "The basic allegations against the president are that he sought foreign interference in a U.S. election, that he conditioned official acts on the performance of these political favors," Schiff said. "And those official acts include a White House meeting that the president of Ukraine desperately sought with President Trump, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded military assistance for a country that is at war with Russia and a country that the United States has a deep national security interest in making sure it can defend itself."

[...] "I mean, when you consider the serious terms of whether the president has committed an impeachable offense, the fact that the scheme was discovered, the fact that the scheme was unsuccessful, doesn't make it any less odious or any less impeachable," he said. "If the president solicited for help in the U.S. election, if the president conditioned official acts on the performance of these political favors, whether Ukraine ever had to go through with it really doesn't matter. What matters is: Did the president attempt to commit acts that ought to result in his removal from office?"
posted by katra at 10:47 PM on November 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


WATCH LIVE: The Trump Impeachment Hearings – Day 1 (PBS)
The House of Representatives kick off public impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The impeachment hearing begins at 10 a.m. ET. The PBS NewsHour will stream analysis coverage beforehand starting at about 9 a.m. ET. Watch live (YouTube)
WATCH LIVE: Open Hearing with Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent (House Intelligence Committee, YouTube)
On Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 10 AM EST, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing with the Honorable Ambassador William B. Taylor, Chargé d’Affaires Ad Interim, Kyiv, Ukraine and Mr. George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. This is the first open hearing in the House impeachment inquiry. The next hearing, with Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, will be held on Friday, November 15 at 9 AM EST.
Impeachment Hearing with William Taylor and George Kent (C-SPAN)
Watch LIVE On November 13 | 9am ET | C-SPAN3
posted by katra at 11:05 PM on November 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


From the nbc article:
Bolton’s lawyer teased his client's value last week in a letter to House Democrats that noted that the former national security adviser had been present for “many relevant meetings and conversations” on Ukraine, including some that have yet to be disclosed to investigators. His lawyer, Charles Cooper, said Bolton is willing to testify if a federal court approves it and issues a ruling that essentially says he can defy the White House’s position that he can’t speak to Congress.

To me, this looks like Bolton wants to testify but is scared of Trump. I'm not surprised that he is scared, hawks are in my experience almost always frightened people. But I'm curious about what he is scared of? He is not elected, never has been, and never will be. The cultists can't hurt him by voting him out or withholding funding. He may not be popular on Fox anymore, but he clearly has an audience of rich people. One of all the articles posted here mentioned the possibility of a non-disclosure agreement for all Trump officials, which seems illegal in itself: government officials serve the country, not the President. But Barr is already magicking the law, so who knows what he can have come up with?
How does this fit with Bolton writing a book? Trump doesn't mind all the leaking and the gossip, he revels in it. It makes the presidency into a reality show, just like he likes it. Testifying before congress, under oath, is a whole other thing. Mostly because the Republican senators are going to have a really hard time explaining how Trump should not be impeached.

Something else:
Bolton said he believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue, the people present said. The Trump Organization has a property in Istanbul, and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump attended the opening with Erdogan in 2012. Though it’s a leasing agreement for use of the Trump name, Trump himself said in a 2015 interview that the arrangement presented “a little conflict of interest” should he be elected. [...]

I'm thinking that if Trump says he has a little conflict of interest, he'll be having a HUGE conflict of interest. Erdogan has a hold on Trump, just like Putin, and who knows how many other dictators and criminals.
posted by mumimor at 2:44 AM on November 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


Pre-hearing weirdness on MSNBC as they are holding court with guest commentator George Conway (wtf?), and he repeatedly gets emotional discussing today.
posted by Harry Caul at 6:27 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Opening statements were a stark contrast. Schiff: clear laying out of the facts and context. Nunes: conspiracy theories, misdirection, and lies.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:32 AM on November 13, 2019 [9 favorites]


So Democrats and Republicans sticking to their usual playbooks, then.
posted by Gelatin at 7:40 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Nunes: conspiracy theories, misdirection, and lies.

Something something Streisand effect something something suing fictional cow.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:46 AM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Turned the live feed on, saw Stefanik and Jordan busting Schiff's balls about the whistleblower's identity, saw the stupid fucking posters Rs have sitting behind them, turned it back off. I can't actually watch this ridiculous farce until there's some indication that something will come of it.
posted by Gaz Errant at 7:49 AM on November 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


I've got the stream on in the background while working, so I haven't been hanging on every word, but the witnesses are coming across as extremely credible so far. Portraying them as political hacks is going to be a very tall order.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:02 AM on November 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


Turned the live feed on, saw Stefanik and Jordan busting Schiff's balls about the whistleblower's identity

Schiff was able to deftly parry the point of order from Stefanik about questions related to the whistleblower's identity and then double down on how they won't be able to ask those questions. Schiff also got to note that Jordan's 'question' was based on a false statement.
posted by katra at 8:03 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


i am jonesing to talk about this as it happens. Anyone else in MeFi Chat/politics?
posted by freecellwizard at 8:04 AM on November 13, 2019


We're all in #live on PoliticsFilter slack.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:07 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Whatever that is.
posted by delfin at 8:17 AM on November 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


[fwiw, it's fine to talk about the hearings in here as they happen. Just include enough context that people who aren't watching know what you're seeing -- the main thing we want to avoid is a lot of "omg!" contextless reactions.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:23 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


WaPo: Live updates: Historic impeachment hearing is underway

Guardian: US politics live - Trump impeachment inquiry

NBC News: Trump impeachment hearing: Live updates from the public testimony

NYT: Impeachment Hearing: Live Updates From Taylor and Kent Testimony
posted by katra at 8:23 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


The political people on twitter are going nuts over Taylor's masculine voice

Because that's the important part
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:24 AM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Because that's the important part

You know when political people talk about "optics"?

This is optics.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:25 AM on November 13, 2019 [15 favorites]


538: Trump Impeachment Hearings, Day 1: Live Analysis
posted by notpace at 8:27 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


The next time someone says government should be run "like a business" I'm going to restrain them a'la A Clockwork Orange and force them to watch this statement. This is what happens when you run America like a business. The CEO thinks he is the state and people owe him their personal allegiance.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:30 AM on November 13, 2019 [22 favorites]


This is optics.

Frankly, that's what the entire affair is. Those who are following the facts understand the impact of the testimony. Those who deliberately choose not to follow the facts are spouting conspiracy theory and tangential issues and points of order. Each side on Twitter will breathlessly declare that their representatives have DESTROYED~! the other's, and nothing new and exciting will be learned.
posted by delfin at 8:33 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is optics.

I'm aware of that, yeah, I just think it's disgusting
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:34 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Portraying them as political hacks is going to be a very tall order.

That's easy. Don't show or quote their testimony, unless there's a flubbed answer or something that can be misconstrued. Only show or quote Republican questioning and conservative commentators. The viewers' and readers' minds will fill in the blanks with an imagined version of what the witness said and their motivation for doing so.
posted by jedicus at 8:39 AM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Those who are following the facts understand the impact of the testimony. Those who deliberately choose not to follow the facts are spouting conspiracy theory and tangential issues and points of order. Each side on Twitter will breathlessly declare that their representatives have DESTROYED~! the other's, and nothing new and exciting will be learned.

Remember though that there are plenty of people out there that don't neatly fit into either of those categories. There are more than two sides. The battle right now is in trying get the facts out to those people and to show them why exactly they need to care about this. And there are a lot of them out there. That's where these public hearings can, maybe, have an impact.
posted by wondermouse at 8:48 AM on November 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


Josh Marshall, TPM: What Do the Democrats Have to Prove?
The case, rather than needing to be made in some heroic fashion, really makes itself. The evidence is overwhelming. It’s not the Democrats who are on trial here, needing to prove themselves with some magisterial performance. Indeed, it’s not even really the President whose guilt is obvious and not even questioned with serious arguments. Who and what is on trial here is the Republican party, which has made it pretty clear that they are willing to countenance any level of law breaking and abuses of power so long as it is done by a Republican or at least as long as it is Donald Trump.

The Democrats’ job is to lay out the evidence in a public setting and get elected Republicans to sign on the dotted line that this is presidential behavior they accept and applaud. That won’t be difficult. They have one last chance to change their answer. Democrats real job is to clarify and publicize that that is their answer
.
posted by neroli at 8:51 AM on November 13, 2019 [36 favorites]


"The political people on twitter are going nuts over Taylor's masculine voice"

He has an old-school news anchor's voice. A bit Cronkite.
posted by bz at 9:00 AM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Guardian: Democrats announce two more closed-door impeachment interviews
Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney)

WOW: Mid-hearing impeachment inquiry officials announce two new closed depositions.

Friday: David Holmes
Saturday: Mark Sandy, an OMB official who refused to appear last week.
November 13, 2019
Holmes may well be the aide who overheard Gordon Sondland’s conversation with Trump, in which the president asked the US ambassador to the EU about the “investigations” in Ukraine.
NBC News: New impeachment depositions announced for this week
David Holmes is expected to testify in closed session on Friday, Nov. 15.

Mark Sandy is expected to testify in a closed session on Saturday, Nov. 16.
posted by katra at 9:05 AM on November 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


NYT: The top Ukraine diplomat revealed he was told that Trump was more concerned about investigations of Biden than Ukraine.
William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, offered dramatic new testimony Wednesday about how President Trump’s preoccupation with investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was affecting his actions toward Ukraine.

Mr. Taylor said that a member of his staff overheard a telephone conversation in which the president mentioned “the investigations” to Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union. After the call, the aide asked Mr. Sondland what the president thought of Ukraine. The ambassador “responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”

He was referring to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who Mr. Taylor described as the leader of a “highly irregular” policymaking channel on Ukraine that ran counter to goals of longstanding American policy. The episode was not included in Mr. Taylor’s interview with impeachment investigators last month, because, he said, he was not aware of it at the time.
posted by katra at 9:13 AM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


NBC News: About that phone call...
Sondland calling Trump on a cellphone from Kyiv is extraordinary for all sorts of reasons. Normally EU Ambos don’t call presidents. They never do so to discuss Ukraine policy. Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means whole world was listening in.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) November 13, 2019
posted by katra at 9:20 AM on November 13, 2019 [41 favorites]


Yet again, it looks like Sondland has some 'splaining to do.

Sondland has said that he was not aware of the connection to the Biden investigations until late in September. Taylor's testimony says that Sondland had a direct conversation with Trump about Biden investigations on July 26, the day after the infamous phone call.

Sondland has already had to modify his testimony once. According Taylor, Sondland is still lying to cover up for Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 9:26 AM on November 13, 2019 [9 favorites]


Hey, I've been watching the impeachment hearings with Taylor off and on, and they are devastating. I highly recommend catching whatever you can. The question of whether or not these hearings would make for powerful television that can potentially persuade the nation that impeachment is necessary has been answered for me. It's also given me something I haven't felt in a long time. A feeling of some pride in this country.
posted by xammerboy at 9:27 AM on November 13, 2019 [23 favorites]


Politico is posting video highlights here: Taylor reveals new Trump comments about Biden: Highlights from impeachment hearing
posted by katra at 9:30 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


CBS News letting Mark Meadows rant and rave without much pushback.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:31 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Sondland has already had to modify his testimony once. According Taylor, Sondland is still lying to cover up for Trump.

Schiff: Care to revise your statement, sir?

Sondland: What?

Schiff: Do you want to change your bullshit story, sir?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:32 AM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


NBC News: The point when Taylor says it was ‘clear' release of aid was conditioned on probes
While Taylor learned on July 18 from the Office of Management and Budget that security assistance was being held up for an unspecified reason, he said Wednesday that he didn’t understand until early September that the release of the money was conditioned on Ukraine investigating the Bidens and a 2016 election conspiracy theory. [...]

Taylor said that before that point, he only understood that a possible Trump-Zelenskiy meeting at the White House was conditioned on pursuing those investigations. But it was after the Sept. 1 meeting between Pence and Zelenskiy that it became clear to him that both the military aid and the possible face-to-face meeting was dependent on the announcement of those probes.
posted by katra at 9:35 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Guardian: One of the biggest new lines to come out today’s impeachment hearing so far comes from Bill Taylor’s testimony that US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told one of Taylor’s aides in July that Trump cared more about “investigations of Biden” than US policies towards Ukraine. [...]
And here’s how some political commentators have responded: [...]
David Corn (@DavidCornDC)

BOOM. Taylor testifies that when Sondland was asked what Trump thought of Ukraine, "Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden." Here's the motive. Trump only saw Ukraine policy as a means to get the political dirt he wanted! November 13, 2019
posted by katra at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


It's looking more and more like Sondland was the point man for implementing Trump's extortion strategy. According to this new testimony, Sondland spoke directly to Trump about it, not through the Giuliani cut out.

No wonder Sondland has been lying in his testimony. He's the capo running the crew to execute the godfather's extortion scheme.
posted by JackFlash at 9:47 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


NBC News: State Dept. official testifying Friday is staffer who overheard Trump-Sondland call
A source familiar with the matter tells NBC News that David Holmes, the State Department official just added to the calendar to testify in closed session Friday, is the staffer for Bill Taylor who overheard Sondland’s phone call in which President Trump asked him about "the investigations."

David Holmes is a new character in the Ukraine saga. He is the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
posted by katra at 9:50 AM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mark Meadows says that Sondland's testimony to the committee will clear all of this up.
posted by rhizome at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2019




Devin Nunes’s opening statement at the public impeachment hearing, annotated

Seems to have a political bias:
After the spectacular implosion of their Russia hoax on July 24, in which they spent years denouncing any Republican who ever shook hands with a Russian, on July 25 they turned on a dime and now claim the real malfeasance is Republicans’ dealings with Ukraine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:06 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel] catalogs the 9 lies of Devin Nunes in his opening impeachment statement (Meteor Blades, Daily Kos)
The pathetic performance by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, in his opening statement in the impeachment inquiry Wednesday morning was a litany of lies. Marcy Wheeler, who, as blogger emptywheel, has for nearly two decades closely followed national security and civil liberties issues, pointed out nine of them on Twitter. Here’s a selection:
  • At the outset she noted: “Nunes starts with a lie, that Democrats accused Trump of being an ‘Agent.’”
  • ”Note: Nunes claims Dems didn't have more than circumstantial evidence of collusion. Evidence in the Stone trial more than meets Mark Meadows' definition of collusion.”
  • “In fact, Mueller said there was evidence of conspiracy, which is stronger than collusion. So far, Two lies in the first seconds of Nunes' speech.”
  • “Nunes claims there were 1-sided leaks. Lie number 3.”
  • “Nunes claims ‘most’ GOP witnesses denied. They got 3 witnesses. Lie number 4.”
  • ”Nunes false says Mark Zaid called for a coup. Lie number 5.”
  • ”Nunes now complaining about projection. Claiming Steele dossier = collusion with Russia, claims Dems defend Hunter Biden having a job. Lies 6 and 7.”
  • ”Note, Nunes claims witnesses don't know the answers on Hunter Biden. Except a number of witnesses did testify to it. Lie 8.”
  • ”Nunes claims ‘Russian hoax’ has ended. No, the fully predicted investigation into Trump and his flunkies conspiracies with Russia and WikiLeaks has not. Lie 9.”
That’s quite the introduction.

It isn’t mere lying. There is a scheme here. As the conservative political activist and former chess champion Garry Kasparov has noted, “The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

To annihilate truth. To make it difficult for people to know what is and isn’t true. To create chaos.

That’s what Donald Trump and his sycophants are up to this morning, and every morning.
Formatting added.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:11 AM on November 13, 2019 [44 favorites]


Best I can tell, the WP article linked above has transposed the mines quotes and the commentary.
posted by notsnot at 10:13 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mark Meadows says that Sondland's testimony to the committee will clear all of this up.

Ha, yeah, just like Steiner held off the Russian advance at Pankow.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:25 AM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Guardian: Republicans resurrect baseless conspiracy theory about Ukraine
Republicans on the House intelligence committee appear to be using their questioning time to add credibility to the baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. (The US intelligence community has thoroughly confirmed that Russia interfered in the election.) [...] But it is worth noting that Republicans have not yet sought to counter Bill Taylor and George Kent’s testimony outlining a months-long campaign by Trump’s allies to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.
Guardian: Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for George W. Bush, criticized the questioning of the lawyer speaking for the Republican members of the House intelligence committee.
Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) Whatever the GOP counsel is doing, it's not working. I don't undertand where he's going.
November 13, 2019
posted by katra at 10:28 AM on November 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


Schiff's followup with Kent seems to be doing the Bidens a solid by noting the timeframe of previous corrupt Ukranian officials who were involved in corruption prior to Hunter Biden's being on the board of Burisma.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:32 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Whatever the GOP counsel is doing, it's not working. I don't undertand where he's going.

Neither did the GOP counsel, I'm pretty sure.

I had the overall impression that a specific checklist of nonsense talking points, as outlined in the mendacious opening by Nunez, is being ticked off by Counsel. We're well past "if you can't argue the facts, pound on the table" -- we're into the "ridiculous conspiracy posters from Kinko's and generating looking-glass alternate realities" territory. Schiff, so far, seems to be keeping those efforts in check as best he can, and undoing their attempts at damage where possible, but the GOP has too much invested in this to have their minds changed. I hope the evening media coverage is able to frame these proceedings without propping up their nonsense, but we'll have to wait (and hope against hope).
posted by halation at 10:38 AM on November 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


...of course, now Jim Jordan is up, so...
posted by halation at 10:39 AM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


From the Guardian feed:
Jim Jordan, a Trump ally, echoed Republican messaging by trying to paint Bill Taylor’s knowledge of a potential quid pro quo as relying on secondhand information.

However, this argument may fall apart next week, when a number of people who do have direct knowledge of the pressure campaign on Ukraine -- namely Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman -- testify publicly.

That said, Jordan appears to have succeeded at his short-term goal of creating a clip of Taylor acknowledging he did not listen to Trump’s Ukraine call or discuss a potential announcement of investigations with the Ukrainian president. It seems likely that exchange will play on Fox News tonight.
Fudge.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2019


Am I imagining, or do some of these older GOP members of the committee seem really uncomfortable being there?
posted by Harry Caul at 10:55 AM on November 13, 2019


Is it me or does the line that "our ambassador to Ukraine wasn't fully briefed on our policies towards and discussions with Ukraine" seem an odd direction if you're trying to argue everything was above board, normal and anyone would have done the same?
posted by Erberus at 10:58 AM on November 13, 2019 [20 favorites]


do some of these older GOP members of the committee seem really uncomfortable being there?
@sahilkapur
Just got this message from a Republican operative:
not from me: but this is a massive
fucking shitshow
no one wants to be here

posted by neroli at 11:08 AM on November 13, 2019 [23 favorites]


no one wants to be here

Jordan does, I think, since he gets to scream gaslighting bullshit into a microphone without being checked
posted by halation at 11:10 AM on November 13, 2019 [15 favorites]


This is just to say

I have heard
the testimony
from the Republican
apparatchiks

who are trying
to rescue
an orange buffoon
from impeachment

This is a massive
fucking shitshow
no one wants
to be here
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:15 AM on November 13, 2019 [78 favorites]


Now Stewart is making it about how much of a wuss Obama was and trump was the one to get tough on Russia.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2019


Seems like in lieu of substantive questioning, Republicans are going for sound bites that will play well in the news and campaign ads.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:20 AM on November 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


no one wants to be here

Jordan does, I think, since he gets to scream gaslighting bullshit into a microphone without being checked


No, his usual response to people talking about a crime is to leave the room and deny it ever happened.
posted by Etrigan at 11:21 AM on November 13, 2019 [9 favorites]


Yamiche Alcindor (@yamiche):
Confirmed: White House plans to have a “rapid response” team— including press, legislative affairs & WH counsel staff—for first public impeachment inquiry hearing.

Context: This is not how WH has handled past big public hearings with people like Robert Mueller or Michael Cohen.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Mr. Kent, please sit on your jacket. You're ruining the beautiful sartorial effect of the bow tie.
posted by angrycat at 11:47 AM on November 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


Mr. Kent, please sit on your jacket. You're ruining the beautiful sartorial effect of the bow tie.

but how else can we enjoy the matching (!) pocket square??? Admittedly the chyron tends to obscure it, but it's there, and it's spectacular.

Joaquin Castro's quite skillful in illuminating the nature of the leverage used against Ukraine for the "favor," the timeline which suggests that the aid hold may have been released after concern the story would get out, and the fact that "attempted murder" is still a crime -- all points which don't get nearly enough coherent media play. Taylor equivocated a bit, but I hope Castro gets some airtime tonight, because his delivery is excellent, simple, clear, and calm.
posted by halation at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]




Never change, Vox.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:06 PM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Coach Shouty is back, to get all his FoxNews soundbites in. Let's see if he
even has a question.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:08 PM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]




I think angrycat meant 'sit on your jacket' as sit on the (vent) hem to anchor the jacket, à la Broadcast News (fantastic tip!). Kent's got a real "I learned how to make apple butter from Jimmy Stewart" vibe in that get-up.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


Sketches of the proceedings from a WaPo editorial cartoonist. Jim Jordan shall henceforth be known as BLABBIDY BLABBIDY BLABBIDY BLABBIDY.
posted by Sublimity at 12:44 PM on November 13, 2019 [19 favorites]


Seems like in lieu of substantive questioning, Republicans are going for sound bites that will play well in the news and campaign ads.

They know their audience isn't paying attention to the process -- why else would Trump keep insisting people read the call "transcript" that makes him look guilty if he wasn't certain that none of them would actually read it, or if they did just parrot the opinion of it their media told them to have ("I see no quid pro quo")?

These Republican theatrics are about generating clickbaity headlines like "Representative Venal DESTROYS Corrupt Deep State minion in fake impeachment." The more nonsensical the question the better, because Republicans want images of confused public servants who don't know what the heck they're talking about as "evidence" of how they pwnzed the opposition. It isn't meant to stand up to critical reading, because anyone capable of that has already drawn the obvious conclusion that Trump did everything everyone said he did.
posted by Gelatin at 12:49 PM on November 13, 2019 [13 favorites]


NBC News: Hurd's questioning highlights Dems' point on timing of Trump's interest in Ukraine corruption
Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, sought to make the point in his line of questioning that the Trump administration provided substantial military aid to Ukraine in fiscal year 2017 and 2018, trying to highlight that the administration was very supportive of Ukraine.

But that point also highlights something else important: that Trump did not become enamored with Urkainian “corruption” until earlier this year, which happens to also be when Biden began running for president. It’s a point Democrats have sought to make in the impeachment process.
Guardian: Representative Mike Turner’s combative questioning of Bill Taylor and George Kent represented quite a reversal from a September hearing with the acting director of national intelligence, during which the Republican congressman expressed concern about Trump’s Ukraine call.
Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) Reminder that Rep. Mike Turner, who just questioned Taylor moments ago, said this Sept. 26 after reading the transcript: "I want to say to the President: This is not OK. That conversation is not OK..I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript." November 13, 2019
posted by katra at 1:05 PM on November 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


To me, this looks like Bolton wants to testify but is scared of Trump ... But I'm curious about what he is scared of?

No need to invent convoluted explanations. The simplest explanation is that Bolton does not want to testify.

The idea that Bolton is afraid to testify makes no sense. Today we have Taylor and Kent testifying in public before congress and the whole world. Both Taylor and Kent received subpoenas and also received direct orders from the White House not to testify. But here they are, complying with the subpoena. They seem to have no fear. They are still standing and breathing. Just as Bolton could if only he wanted to.

Bolton is not testifying because he doesn't want to.
posted by JackFlash at 1:15 PM on November 13, 2019 [22 favorites]


Interesting deep cut on appropriateness of behaviour in US politics from Bright Line Watch. Pretty even-handed on what counts as constitutional hardball.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:25 PM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


There's a lot to unpack in that Bright Line Watch article..it might warrant it's own FPP in order to discuss. Just my opinion.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:33 PM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Bolton has remembered one of the Maxims: The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, no more, no less.
I'm sure he'd love to stick on in the back of Trump, but not to the benefit of the libs.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


In RE that Vox link:
As Kent launched into his opening statement, he drew comparisons to a diplomatic Mr. Rogers (or a sterner Bill Nye?).
If only!
posted by sjswitzer at 2:09 PM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Not to abuse the edit window, but this Bill Nye quote seems apropos:
Grow the fuck up. You're not children anymore. I didn't mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were twelve, But you're adults now and this is an actual crisis. Got it?

Safety glasses off, mutherfuckers.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:25 PM on November 13, 2019 [37 favorites]


The impeachment hearings, on Earth and Earth-45 (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Good news, 2019! In an unprecedented and probably very expensive crossover event, the impeachment hearings are occurring on two parallel and warring Earths that have somehow been shoved into the same hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered a point-by-point account of everything that has happened on impeachment thus far. Aid to Ukraine was being withheld because President Trump wanted the country’s new president to investigate Joe Biden. In a transcript of the call, Trump asks the president to look into this.

Meanwhile, on Earth-45, Devin Nunes (perhaps his presence on the Intelligence Committee in this universe is less confusing) welcomed everyone to a day of televised theatrical performance (like the Kennedy Center Honors) during which players he denounced as actors from central casting would deliver irrelevant statements about bad things Trump might have done, instead of getting into the real questions: the Steele Dossier, something called the Black Ledger (of additional concern because Sabrina the Teenage Witch refused to sign it) and, of course, the cruel and oppressive practice of keeping whistleblowers’ identities secret.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:37 PM on November 13, 2019 [16 favorites]


McSweeney's, I Don't Know Who to Believe in this Impeachment Hearing: "What sounds more believable? That career diplomats with everything to lose would make up a story implicating the most powerful man in America? Or that the president’s butt-dialling, criminal-loving lawyer was involved in something nefarious? I wish this would be easier!"
posted by jocelmeow at 2:39 PM on November 13, 2019 [47 favorites]


Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, sought to make the point in his line of questioning that the Trump administration provided substantial military aid to Ukraine in fiscal year 2017 and 2018...But that point also highlights something else important: that Trump did not become enamored with Urkainian “corruption” until earlier this year, which happens to also be when Biden began running for president.

Petro Poroshenko was Zelensky's predecessor as president of Ukraine. Poroshenko wasn't very active against corruption:
His campaign to become president in 2014 was based on the idea that someone like him could rise above corruption. But even those who worked for Poroshenko say that something changed in the year after he won, his reform effort stalling in 2015. His campaign promise of an anti-corruption court lay unfulfilled for years. (Only this month, ahead of the Poroshenko-Zelenskiy run-off, was it finally launched. A spokesperson for his campaign did not respond to interview requests) Media investigations have repeatedly suggested that Poroshenko’s allies benefit from graft. “Poroshenko is very adept at creating this smokescreen of assurances to the West and then fulfilling about 15 percent of them,” said John Lough, a researcher at Chatham House. “Look at the National Agency for Corruption Prevention, which he allowed to be sabotaged. At the end, he increasingly looks and sounds like someone whose mission it is to save the old system.”
Poroshenko appointed unqualified cronies as prosecutor general:
A year after taking office in 2014, President Poroshenko installed a loyal lieutenant, Viktor Shokin, as prosecutor general. There was broad pressure from the international community to push out Shokin for his failure to prosecute corruption. But Poroshenko just replaced him with another lackey, Yuri Lutsenko, the leader of Poroshenko’s political party in the legislature and a man who didn’t even have a law degree. Under Lutsenko, there were no high-level corruption prosecutions either, and he stymied efforts to establish an independent corruption court.
So Trump was helping the Ukrainian government when it was pretty corrupt and withdrew aid aftera reformer was elected.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:58 PM on November 13, 2019 [20 favorites]


Re hearings: I really want pushback on the term 'transcript'. Every time it comes up, I wish the response would first be, "I'm not aware of a transcript. Do you mean the incomplete redacted memo that was hidden in the SCIF?"
posted by j_curiouser at 3:48 PM on November 13, 2019 [47 favorites]


Court Rejects Trump’s Appeal in Fight to Keep Financial Records From Congress (NYT)
A full federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to take up President Trump’s appeal of an earlier ruling that his accounting firm must comply with a House committee’s demands and turn over eight years of his financial records.

In the latest of a string of court losses for Mr. Trump over his uncompromising vow to fight “all” subpoenas from Congress, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected his request that it rehear a case in which he challenged the subpoena to the firm, Mazars USA.
Congress can have access to eight years of Trump’s tax records, appeals court orders (WaPo)
Trump’s lawyers have said they are prepared to ask the Supreme Court to intervene in this case and in several other legal battles between the president and Congress. [...] The D.C. Circuit previously said it would put any ruling against the president on hold for seven days to give Trump’s attorneys time to ask the Supreme Court to step in.

Trump’s attorneys also are planning to ask the high court as soon as this week to block a similar subpoena for the president’s tax records from the Manhattan district attorney, who is investigating hush-money payments in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The New York-based appeals court ruled against Trump this month and refused to block the subpoena to his accounting firm, Mazars USA.
posted by katra at 4:44 PM on November 13, 2019 [12 favorites]


So Trump was helping the Ukrainian government when it was pretty corrupt and withdrew aid aftera reformer was elected.

This was essentially my understanding. Poroshenko was dirty, Trump (et al) thought he (Poro) would win, which was supposedly a given, but he lost (which I believe surprised many).

So, Trump had to figure out how to keep the dirty going and came up with using the money and meeting leverage over $fuckingnewguy. I'm sure a desired secondary effect was to prove Zelinskyy was willing to play ball, which he was, but that all got blown up anyway and here we are now.
posted by rhizome at 5:07 PM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


Poroshenko's time in office overlaps with an older "Ukraine" + "corruption" story: A U.S. State Department report out of Kiev, Ukraine, has accused officials at U.S. Army Europe of trying to cover up the "gross mismanagement" of more than $1.4 million in American taxpayer dollars (Newsweek, Feb. 7, 2019)

Newsweek obtained a copy of a 31-page report containing allegations that officials at U.S. Army Europe intentionally concealed relevant information and lied to the U.S. Embassy's financial office to have more than $1.4 million in foreign military funds distributed without official authorization in the fall of 2017. [...]

The letter also details an alleged financial plot run by the Ukrainian government, saying officials submitted invoices to both the Canadians and the Americans for the same set of meals between July 1, 2016, and January 31, 2017. The complaint indicates that the scheme may have existed since the program's inception back in 2015, resulting in hundreds of thousands of American tax dollars being wasted, according to the documents.

Separate from the alleged cover-up of unauthorized payments and the Ukrainian scheme, the report outlines how the lack of basic administrative and logistic controls over such items as food and fuel led to the likelihood that "a large sum of money was wasted in support of this program."

posted by Iris Gambol at 5:30 PM on November 13, 2019


George Kent, top State Department Ukraine expert, helps Democrats debunk GOP theories (WaPo)
“I think it’s amply clear that Russian interference was at the heart of the interference in the 2016 election cycle,” Kent said, echoing the assessment of every U.S. intelligence agency, and every Trump-appointed head of those agencies. [...] Kent also dispelled some lesser-known theories and talking points taken up by Trump’s defenders.

For instance, Democrats asked him to comment on the claim by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that Trump’s threat to withhold aid to Ukraine was “exactly” the same tactic used by then-Vice President Biden when he threatened to withhold aid if Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin wasn’t fired. “I do not think they are the same thing,” Kent said. What Biden requested, Kent said, was the removal of “a corrupt prosecutor general . . . who had undermined a system of criminal investigation that we built with American money to build corruption cases.” Shokin, Kent said, had “destroyed the entire ecosystem that we were trying to create,” and he credited Biden for leading a U.S. effort to combat corruption in Ukraine.

Democrats also questioned Kent about the campaign waged by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to oust the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Giuliani and Ukraine’s ex-chief prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, have accused Yovanovitch of providing a “do not prosecute list” to Ukrainian officials to protect Biden and others. Kent adamantly rejected those allegations, saying, “I have every reason to believe it is not true.” He described Lutsenko as a “corrupt” prosecutor with questionable motives and defended Yovanovitch as “dedicated, as is every U.S. government official in Ukraine, to help Ukrainians overcome the legacy of corruption.”

[...] And Kent testified, “I did not witness any efforts by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny. In fact, I and other U.S. officials consistently advocated reinstituting a scuttled investigation of [Mykola] Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder, as well as holding the corrupt prosecutors who closed the case to account.”

In his closed-door deposition last month, Kent also expressed concerns about rampant corruption in Ukraine’s government and business community. Before serving at the embassy in Kyiv, Kent was the senior anti-corruption coordinator in the State Department’s European Bureau.
posted by katra at 6:21 PM on November 13, 2019 [12 favorites]


I woke up today and turned on the TV. CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC all had live coverage of the impeachment of Trump. Fox was showing Judge Judy.

I just wish someone would tell Jim Jordan "I wrestle with this question" or somesuch. Or maybe the Dems could put their own signs up in the back of the hearing room. Maybe "I'm with him" or "baby on board" to show absurd that conduct is.
posted by baegucb at 6:33 PM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Fox was showing Judge Judy? After her 2020 Bloomberg endorsement? Mark a vote of no confidence.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:54 PM on November 13, 2019


Fox News covers impeachment hearing by defending Trump and gaslighting viewers (Guardian)
After Taylor and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state, wrapped up their opening statements, it was time for the hearing proper to begin. Adam Schiff cleared his throat and began questioning the men at the center of the first public impeachment hearing in a generation.

As the world watched with bated breath, Fox News used this moment to cut to an ad break, a Muppets-themed advertisment dancing across the screen as other news channels showed Schiff officially kicking off the inquiry. [...]

When the network cut back to the studio, its hosts couldn’t muster much of a response. Bret Baier reckoned, spuriously, that Republican committee member Jim Jordan had “really hit home” with his questioning. Chris Wallace, among the less partisan Fox News hosts, conceded Taylor “had been an effective witness”.

It fell to Dana Perino, White House press secretary under George W Bush turned professional Fox News guest, to recycle a talking point from the Robert Mueller Trump-Russia investigation: that all this was expensive.
posted by katra at 7:11 PM on November 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


I should mention Fox news and other tv stations were local to me. And I worked at Fox decades ago (10201 West Pico Blvd. is still ingrained in my brain). Just what I saw when I woke up.
posted by baegucb at 7:24 PM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Normally EU Ambos don’t call presidents. They never do so to discuss Ukraine policy. Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means whole world was listening in.

"The Best People" are so bad at infosec I start to wonder if it isn't on purpose; I just can't figure out why.
posted by Mitheral at 8:46 PM on November 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


talking point from the Robert Mueller Trump-Russia investigation: that all this was expensive.

IIRC the assets seized from Manafort more than covered the expenses of the Mueller investigation.

You may have to visit Manafort in prison if you want to confirm this personally. He was Trump's campaign chairman.

While you're on your prison tour, why not say hello to Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer. Maybe he'll reprise his famous statement to other Trump yes-men: 'What he did to me he'll do to you'.

You could swing by the courts to check on Flynn, Trump's national security advisor, who blew up is plea agreement it seems in hopes of a pardon. Maybe you could relay that message from Cohen.

And while you're at court, stick around for the Roger Stone show. That man has Richard Nixon tattooed on his back, literally. He was Trump's ... I don't know... wikileaks liaison?

That's the short list. Seems like Mueller's witch hunt found a lot of fucking witches!

Fuck William Barr and his effort to bury the report. Now a majority of people think there was nothing in it!
posted by adept256 at 9:09 PM on November 13, 2019 [31 favorites]


I wonder where Stone is going to put his Trump tattoo?
posted by ryanrs at 9:52 PM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


The taint, just like everyone else.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:59 PM on November 13, 2019 [23 favorites]


Rachel Maddow called it the quote you'd put on the mug if you were making swag for Trump Impeachment 2019 Day 01:

"You can't promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people." - George Kent

I watched the entire hearing today, it was fascinating and infuriating in several different ways.
posted by carsonb at 11:31 PM on November 13, 2019 [17 favorites]


WaPo:
Dueling narratives, separated by a polarized media, collide at first public impeachment hearing
Mike Rothschild, a researcher and author who specializes in debunking conspiracy theories, said coaxing the public not to watch would be effective for the people already prepared to line up behind the president. “But it seems a bit desperate,” he added, born of an inability to “refute anything that the witnesses are claiming.”
But there were probably many Americans, said Nyhan, the political scientist, who don’t follow online news closely, and who may have been tuning in for the first time on Wednesday.
For these viewers, the narrative spun by Nunes would prove difficult to comprehend.
“Most Americans aren’t watching Hannity every night,” he said, referring to Sean Hannity, the Fox News host and Trump confidant. “I can’t imagine a normal person would understand what he’s talking about.”
I found the whole thing hard to watch because the Republicans were so absurdly, obviously focused on taking down the very foundations of democracy and international cooperation. It was literally painful to watch. I forget who it was, but there was one Republican who seemed to realize in the middle of his question that he really didn't want an answer to it, so he just shouted over Ambassador Kent. Who can watch that and not see the corruption of that Congressman?
posted by mumimor at 2:14 AM on November 14, 2019 [19 favorites]


how did anybody get anything done in the summer of '74 I'd like to know
posted by angrycat at 3:41 AM on November 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


Dueling narratives, separated by a polarized media, collide at first public impeachment hearing

Both siding a batshit insane GOP and Fox News against everyone else. They really buried the lede with that one.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:15 AM on November 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


how did anybody get anything done in the summer of '74 I'd like to know

No internet.
posted by Pendragon at 5:20 AM on November 14, 2019 [33 favorites]


Matt Oswalt (@MattOswaltVA):
the Impeachment Hearings is like watching Wheel of Fortune where the puzzle is completely solved but contestants keep guessing letters
posted by callmejay at 6:54 AM on November 14, 2019 [96 favorites]


And the GOP keeps trying to buy a vowel but all they ever choose is Q over and over, wasting everyone’s time and showing a flagrant ignorance and disregard for the rules of the event.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2019 [15 favorites]


Bill Taylor, George Kent, and the Power of Expertise (Lili Loofbourow, Slate)
With their deep knowledge and clear confidence in their own neutrality, the first impeachment hearing witnesses painted a clear picture of what’s at stake. […]

What America saw today was a shocking demonstration of what it looks like when actual experts testify to things they know about. [Their] testimony accomplished something the Robert Mueller hearing never could: It made the stakes clear. The “national security” mentioned during the Mueller hearings often felt too abstract for the average person to care about, especially given how much remained classified, how hard to follow much of it was. The story of what has happened in Ukraine is not simple. But through their testimony, Taylor and Kent made the country spring to life as an actual place with actual people whose concerns deserve consideration and whose urgent circumstances they can very capably communicate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:40 AM on November 14, 2019 [15 favorites]


The struggle I'm seeing in these public hearings, is whether or not the House GOP can successfully use such a venue to disinform, confuse and exhaust an audience with their Putin-style fogging.
I'm thinking not, as they don't seem to have the stamina or planning ability to continue that effectively over many weeks, plus they get undercut by The Tweeter several times a week.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:08 AM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


The struggle I'm seeing in these public hearings, is whether or not the House GOP can successfully use such a venue to disinform, confuse and exhaust an audience with their Putin-style fogging.

Democrats need to be more consistent with the message that the Republicans using the hearings as a venue to disinform, confuse and exhaust is an admission that Trump did what his accusers say he did, that there's no legitimate defense, and the Republicans know it, and they're doing it anyway.
posted by Gelatin at 8:20 AM on November 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


Normally EU Ambos don’t call presidents. They never do so to discuss Ukraine policy. Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means whole world was listening in.

Have you considered the possibility that Trump wanted Putin to hear him trash talking Ukraine?
posted by JackFlash at 8:27 AM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Impeachment Is Not a Fair Fight, and on Day One It Showed (Renato Mariotti, Politico Magazine)
There’s only so much Republicans can do when Democrats have all the evidence they need.
If it looked like House Republicans were throwing a lot of mud at the wall to see what might stick during the first day of public impeachment hearings, that’s because they had settled into a strategy many defense attorneys adopt when the prosecution has the goods on their client—confuse the issues and distract the audience from the evidence at hand.

I’ve tried many federal criminal cases, and Wednesday’s hearing looked a lot like trials in which the prosecution has the defendant on tape admitting to a crime. When defense attorneys can’t mount a defense on the merits, they raise a lot of peripheral issues in the hope of convincing at least one juror that there is reasonable doubt.

[...] But they simply can’t overcome the abundant evidence Democrats possess to prove their central point—that President Donald Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on a public announcement that his political rival, Joe Biden, was under investigation. [...] What hamstrings Republicans most is the psychology of Trump himself. He has refused to admit the quid pro quo and instead argue that it is not an impeachable offense, as many prominent Republicans have advocated. Admitting wrongdoing would take a lot of the air out of the impeachment hearings, but Trump appears incapable of doing so.

So Democrats will remain in the enviable position of proving a point on which they have ample evidence, even though Trump has kept them from getting key documents and witnesses. It’s not hard to tell a compelling story when you hold all the cards, but it won’t be a winning hand unless they can move public opinion.
posted by katra at 8:28 AM on November 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


I've learnt that the way Taylor was pronouncing 'Kiev', as keev rather than key-ev was in the Ukrainian manner, whereas the latter is the Russian way. It's one of those small but big differences.
posted by adept256 at 8:33 AM on November 14, 2019 [29 favorites]


To nitpick a little, he's pronouncing a different word: Ukrainian "Kiyv" (Київ), not Russian "Kiev" (Киев).
posted by hat_eater at 8:45 AM on November 14, 2019 [14 favorites]


Kyiv not Kiev: Why spelling matters in Ukraine’s quest for an independent identity.

Although many news outlets are sticking with "Kiev" and pronouncing it "key-ev", it is not the correct latinization of the capital city of Ukraine. From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Official guidance on the correct spelling and usage of Ukrainian place names.
posted by peeedro at 8:58 AM on November 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


From twitter (with video): An explanation of how to pronounce the Ukrainian capital, for all those who are confused today.

It seems like the KEEV pronunciation is actually an accommodation for non Ukrainian speakers, but is closer to the favored pronunciation.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:26 AM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Trump supporters don't care if Trump commits crimes, plays dirty politics, or hands Ukraine to Russia. All things said and done, it would be easier if they could cling to some weak sauce rationale that Trump did nothing wrong, but ultimately, they believe Trump is fighting a war on their behalf against globalism. For them, that's what's important.
posted by xammerboy at 9:38 AM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: "Ukraine" is pronounced ooh-cry-ee-nah in Ukrainian.
posted by sjswitzer at 9:48 AM on November 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


It appears that Democrats are getting smart and abandoning the phrase "quid pro quo" and replacing it with "bribery" which means the same thing without all the lawyerly Latin gobbledygook. Nancy Pelosi herself is now using the word bribery.

Bribery is a better word because everyone clearly understands what it means. And the word bribery is right there in the constitution in the impeachment clause. No Democrat should use the phrase quid pro quo again. They should use it's clear English word, bribery. The word should be used in the articles of impeachment.
posted by JackFlash at 10:06 AM on November 14, 2019 [37 favorites]


WaPo: Live updates: Pelosi says testimony of diplomats ‘corroborated evidence of bribery’ by Trump
Pelosi used the word “bribery” Thursday to describe Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, going further than she previously has done in outlining House Democrats’ accusations against the president. Wednesday’s testimony by acting ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent corroborated “evidence of bribery” and supported allegations that Trump violated his oath of office, Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. [...]

At her news conference, Pelosi also forcefully pushed back against the efforts by Trump and his allies to dismiss the testimony of Kent and Taylor as “secondhand.” “That is such a fraudulent proposition put forward by the Republicans,” Pelosi said. “We are not here to be manipulated by the obstruction of justice of the administration.”
posted by katra at 10:15 AM on November 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


How Adam Schiff avoided a circus during first televised impeachment hearing (James Hohmann, WaPo via SF Gate)
1. Putting the Intelligence Committee in charge of the impeachment inquiry after the Lewandowski mess elevated Chairman Adam Schiff [who is a former prosecutor].

2. Doing the closed-door depositions in advance meant that Democrats knew what to ask and didn't waste time beating around the bush.

3. Letting the witnesses deliver long opening statements on their own terms made the hearing look less partisan.

4. Giving a lawyer for each side 45 minutes to question the witnesses meant less grandstanding and more substance.

5. Not waiting for legal battles to play out allowed Democrats to emphasize the degree to which Trump is still stonewalling the investigation.
Schiff has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he's not going to let the Trump administration go "rope-a-dope," a boxing technique to describe moving around the ring to avoid clashing. He decided not to wait for depositions with key witnesses like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney or former national security adviser John Bolton. There are court cases playing out related to the enforcement of subpoenas that Trump officials have refused to comply with. Schiff felt waiting on these to play out would delay the start of the public phase too much. Wednesday showed he didn't need to wait.

Democrats on Wednesday repeatedly highlighted notes and other records that have not been turned over, including from Taylor and Kent, by the State Department. This undercut the White House talking point that there aren't first-hand witnesses. There aren't first-hand witnesses because they're not being allowed to appear.
Emphasis mine.

This is today's Daily 202 column from WaPo; I wanted to see if it was more accessible coming from a different site.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:16 AM on November 14, 2019 [23 favorites]


I liked the part where instead of focusing on the proper legal terminologies for Trump's many and varied vilenesses, the witnesses yesterday quietly but persistently emphasized the fact that Ukrainian soldiers very likely died as a result of Trump's trying to play a game of monkey-in-the-middle with Zelenskiy over those javelins.

I forget which of many putrid drips yesterday kept saying "Are you calling Zelenskiy a liar? He said he didn't feel pressured. If you're saying Trump pressured him, then you're calling him a liar." Bullshit! Trump pushed him and he did not yield. Trump attempted to make him feel pressure; he didn't feel pressure. That doesn't change squat about Trump being a pushy, pressuring, perfectly-willing-to-let-those-soldiers-die, disgusting, inhumane monster, does it? Just because you leap nimbly over your moribund consciences in order to bend over for Trump every day of your lives doesn't mean everybody does, you pitiful mewling pack of weaklings.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:29 AM on November 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


Bribery is a better word because everyone clearly understands what it means.

Except that bribery doesn't capture the extortion part of it. A lot of people don't feel Trump bribing someone for political dirt to be a big deal. What about the gun to the head of Ukraine's people? What about that entire country's existence as a democracy being threatened? The carrot being offered here was needed to dodge a country sized bullet.
posted by xammerboy at 10:31 AM on November 14, 2019 [15 favorites]


Republicans say they have a right to confront the whistleblower. Here’s why that’s wrong. (WaPo)
Even in a criminal prosecution, where confrontation rights are guaranteed, defendants aren’t permitted to face off with every person who participated in an investigation.

For example, the right to confrontation would not apply to an anonymous tipster who heard about a crime and called the local police station. It applies only to testimony a prosecutor relies upon to prove his or her case, explained former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub.

As Congress enters a new phase of televised hearings, it’s unlikely Republican lawmakers or Trump’s desire to hear from the whistleblower will wane. Some experts said the overwhelming focus on his or her identity is largely a distraction. Others have called it an attempt to encourage retaliation. “The idea is to make the consequences of reporting wrongdoing so severe that others will be afraid to do so in the future,” Shaub said.
Impeachment witnesses can expect abuse, death threats, say survivors of past political scandals (Reuters)
John Dean entered the witness protection program. Valerie Plame feared for her children. Both are veterans of U.S. political scandals that threatened the White House, and they have a warning for the witnesses who are testifying against President Donald Trump in the current public impeachment hearings. Life is about to change, it could get ugly, and death threats will become routine.

“You know that politics is a blood sport, but you can never quite be prepared for what is coming your way,” Plame, who was at the center of a 2003 episode that rocked the presidency of George W. Bush, said in a telephone interview. “They’re going to be subjected to all kinds of abuse.”
posted by katra at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


"moving around the ring to avoid clashing" is not what i've always understood rope-a-dope to mean, nor what ali is credited with having done. believe that is more akin to "float like a butterfly." ali: "the new style about laying in the ropes sometimes and letting the man punch himself out. it is called the rope-a-dope."

would also add that it is not an apt description of the behavior of president horrorshow, widely celebrated (?) as a "counterpuncher," though i would quibble with that description too: more of a sucker puncher.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:35 AM on November 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland (Desmond Butler, Michael Biesecker And Matthew Lee, AP)
The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a Kyiv restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry.

The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv. A person briefed on what Jayanti overheard spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter currently under investigation. […]

The staffer Taylor testified about is David Holmes, the political counselor at the embassy in Kyiv, according to an official familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Holmes is scheduled to testify Friday before House investigators in a closed session.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


Bribery is a better word because everyone clearly understands what it means. And the word bribery is right there in the constitution in the impeachment clause. No Democrat should use the phrase quid pro quo again. They should use it's clear English word, bribery. The word should be used in the articles of impeachment.

I have a couple of issues with this. Moving away from "quid pro quo" is good, but "extortion" would be more accurate than "bribery." I wouldn't be surprised if Trump has been bribed but this case is closer to extortion.

Using a word that's in the impeachment clause reinforces the misconception that the president's actions need to be explicitly listed in the Constitution and you can't impeach him for something that isn't listed.

Using a term that also refers to a crime reinforces the misconception that an impeachable offense must also be a criminal offense.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:44 AM on November 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


Any term which is used will be rules lawyered into the ground in bad faith, so why not choose terms that are clear and understood to be improper? Use bribery and/or extortion.

Focus on communication and message to the public, not evading Devon Nunes' rants.
posted by benzenedream at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


I have a couple of issues with this. Moving away from "quid pro quo" is good, but "extortion" would be more accurate than "bribery." I wouldn't be surprised if Trump has been bribed but this case is closer to extortion.

You've got it backwards. Trump was giving a bribe to get what he wanted, not receiving a bribe. Trump was offering the bribe of military aid and an official White House visit in exchange for an investigation of his political opponent. Bribery is a crime whether giving or receiving.

The public clearly understands bribery, but what is extortion exactly? What is its precise legal definition? What are the required elements for extortion? Republicans could pick over these issues just like quid pro quo.

Using a word that's in the impeachment clause reinforces the misconception that the president's actions need to be explicitly listed in the Constitution and you can't impeach him for something that isn't listed.

Reinforces them for whom? A bunch of constitutional scholars forever arguing over the number of fairies that could dance on the head of a pin?

Who cares? An impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. You win by winning over the public with simple, clear arguments, like bribery, which is spelled out right there in the constitution. Let the legal scholars waste their breath on what constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors."
posted by JackFlash at 11:01 AM on November 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


Rudy Giuliani says Trump will stay loyal to him but jokes that he has 'insurance' (Guardian)
Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has said he is confident the president will remain loyal to him as an impeachment inquiry unfolds in which the former New York mayor has become a central figure.

But Giuliani joked that he had good “insurance” in case Trump did turn on him, amid speculation Republicans will seek to frame him as a rogue actor. In a telephone interview with the Guardian, in response to a question about whether he was nervous that Trump might “throw him under a bus” in the impeachment crisis, Giuliani said, with a slight laugh: “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.”

Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, who was also on the call, then interjected: “He’s joking.”

Whether it was a joke or a veiled threat, Giuliani has emerged as a key player in the impeachment proceedings, which center on the question of whether Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. [...] “I acted properly as his lawyer,” Giuliani said. “I did what a good lawyer is supposed to do. I dug up evidence that helped to show the case against him was false; that there was a great deal of collusion going on someplace else other than Russia. And then I stepped on the number one minefield, which is Joe Biden, who is heavily protected by the Washington press corps.”
posted by katra at 11:38 AM on November 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


Extortion seems like a more appropriate term than bribery because Ukraine was promised that aid, and Trump chose to withhold it in hopes of getting his bidding done. I'm not sure that 'bribery' is going to win over the public, some of whom already resent that the U.S. earmarks funds for any manner of international aid; I've heard the why do we send ___ to ____, when we have needy people right here at home reasoning more than a few times. Some people think that Trump 'bribing' Ukraine, to get intel unavailable domestically because of the awful, corrupt swamp he's so doggedly committed to draining, was a good tactic. They believe their president is smart, and has done nothing wrong.

(No, as it happens I'm not spending Thanksgiving with my family of origin.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:39 AM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


Jay Goldberg, a longtime friend and former lawyer for Trump, told MSNBC that Giuliani has a book of his Ukraine contacts that hasn’t yet been subpoenaed and if it is could be harmful to the president. (Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2019) (And that's just a relatively recent lever; Giuliani and Trump have known one another so long that Giuliani's son Andrew, a WH staffer, thinks of Trump as 'a father figure.')
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


...according to an official familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

How come these people get to remain anonymous, while the actually-brave whistle-blowers are outed? Media, you suck.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:55 AM on November 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


How come these people get to remain anonymous
Because that's how you get information? Because that's how journalism works?
posted by neroli at 12:08 PM on November 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


Trump was giving a bribe to get what he wanted, not receiving a bribe.

In as much as it was bribery, I think this is backward. What makes a bribe a bribe is the personal payment for official services rendered. In this case he was demanding a bribe, i.e. personal assistance with his reelection, in exchange for fulfilling his official duties.

Though, he didn't have to really even 'do' anything to fulfill those officially duties, just not intercede to withhold the already authorized assistance.

That said, not being a law-talking person, I'm unclear there's a difference between "demanding a bribe" and "extortion". In a non-legal sense, the simply fact that holding up the services was literally costing lives makes it read as extortion to me.
posted by bcd at 12:16 PM on November 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


How come these people get to remain anonymous
Because that's how you get information? Because that's how journalism works?


It's how one type of journalism works, and it's not a form that has been covering itself in glory these last few years. Fahrenthold didn't rely on insiders looking to knife someone else to uncover the massive frauds committed by everyone in the Trump Foundation.
posted by Etrigan at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


Bribery +1

It's impeachable - *literally right there* in the Constitution. No arguing about wtf a "high crimes and misdemeanors" is. No point in wordplay over what's impeachable.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Can we all agree on briber-tortion?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


+1 to what Iris Gambol said.

we can all think these hearings are going great but if his supporters think he was doing the only possible thing to get that Biden guy then they don’t think it’s bribery, extortion, or wrong.

they think he is doing what it takes to keep the liberals and democrats from getting away with... whatever it is we get away with bc it’s obviously not stealing elections.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:32 PM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm a bit curious why a "misuse of the Lincoln Bedroom" argument isn't being trotted out for the phone call as well. The president has proffered US government assets in exchange for a campaign donation. It even has a nice monetary value attached so the President has set just how much a crime it was. It is a measly 391 million dollar campaign violation.
posted by srboisvert at 12:32 PM on November 14, 2019


Fahrenthold didn't rely on insiders
David Farenthold, like every other good journalist, uses anonymous sources.
posted by neroli at 12:34 PM on November 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


extorting a bribe?
posted by bcd at 12:40 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


George Kent's Gigantic Impeachment Nalgene Has Me Quid Pro Quenched
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent spent the first day of the impeachment inquiry straight guzzling from a Nalgene tall boy of water on national television and I have never been more inspired in my whole dang life. The bow-tied bureaucrat took 48 ounces of pure H2O to the head over the course of the hours-long testimony leaving me, yes, I'll say it again, quid pro quenched. Am I thirsty for impeachment? Yes indeedy. Am I thirsty for anything else? Not after pounding a liter and a half of aqua like my boy George over here. I am hydrated as hell and ready to take on corruption and/or dry skin!
...
This big honkin' water bottle is so impressive that the lawyer for the Republicans, who I believe is Nicholas Cage playing Castor Troy from Face/Off, took one look at it and threw in the towel. He was like, "Our defense doesn't hold water, but this does! This witness is slaked! Time to slowly deflate in my chair like an unruly preteen at a required family dinner."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:43 PM on November 14, 2019 [28 favorites]


the lawyer for the Republicans, who I believe is Nicholas Cage playing Castor Troy from Face/Off
I was thinking Dennis Miller in a Ron Perlman skin suit, but to each their own.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


Fahrenthold didn't rely on insiders
David Farenthold, like every other good journalist, uses anonymous sources.


And, like every other good journalist, he doesn't selectively edit sentences that he quotes to make them sound like people are saying something different.

Fahrenthold didn't rely on insiders looking to knife someone else means something different from "uses anonymous sources", and it's disingenuous to pretend that he's practicing the kind of access journalism that allows obvious image-polishing.
posted by Etrigan at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]




I've learnt that the way Taylor was pronouncing 'Kiev', as keev rather than key-ev was in the Ukrainian manner, whereas the latter is the Russian way. It's one of those small but big differences.

The Western way however is a breaded chicken breast with a garlic butter filling and it is pronounced "delicious".
posted by srboisvert at 12:58 PM on November 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


What if they mix it up and catch them off guard by going the other way? Forget all the Latin and decades of dirty dealing and all the blood on his hands and pick the least traditionally criminal aspect of this and just refuse to back down? Like, "We, congress, said we were sending these weapons to Ukraine. You held up the execution of our order because you think you're in a more-equal branch of government. Well, you're not, and we're putting our foot down on this strong-executive shit right now, better forty+ years late than never. You defied congress, and that fulfills the misdemeanor part of high crimes n misdemeanors, so you can GTFO, you big lesion."
posted by Don Pepino at 12:59 PM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


At least one of the benefits of the GOP good old boy network is that they're sending their fucking idiot cronies to do a substandard job. That's one thing I love about cryptofascist authoritarian wannabes. They're so high on their own farts and so far to the left of the Dunning-Kruger scale that they basically shoot their own feet off quite a lot of the time through their own arrogance.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:05 PM on November 14, 2019 [16 favorites]


Per TPM, Zelensky was days away from doing an interview on CNN during which he would meet Trump's demands when the whistleblower story broke
posted by nubs at 1:18 PM on November 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


John Dean entered the witness protection program. Valerie Plame feared for her children. Both are veterans of U.S. political scandals that threatened the White House Republicans

Fixed for the media that is still afraid to draw attention to plain facts.
posted by Gelatin at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2019 [26 favorites]


I'm a bit curious why a "misuse of the Lincoln Bedroom" argument isn't being trotted out for the phone call as well. The president has proffered US government assets in exchange for a campaign donation. It even has a nice monetary value attached so the President has set just how much a crime it was. It is a measly 391 million dollar campaign violation.

I am reminded of:
U.S. Code § 30121. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals

(a) Prohibition It shall be unlawful for—

(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or

(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.
(Emphasis mine)
posted by mikelieman at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


What's impeachable is what get votes as impeachable. It's a political process, not legal. I'm sure there are a lot of Republicans out there that think what Trump did was impeachable, but not bad enough to outweigh the good he is doing. Trump's actions may meet the legal definition of bribery, but that doesn't mean Senators need to vote to impeach him.
posted by xammerboy at 2:59 PM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah I’m with the phrase “bribery”. A $400 million dollar bribery.

People understand it and it’s easy to digest. I’ll give you money if you do something you don’t really want to do.

Let’s not get hung up on the technicalities here. They are not important on TV. It doesn’t matter if legal scholars want to argue whether or not it’s legally correct. This is marketing and sales, not the law. As soon as you go the other way, my mom is going to get confused and change the channel
posted by jasondigitized at 3:11 PM on November 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


Can't find a link to it, but I just heard NPR's Audie Cornish grow completely exasperated during an interview with Jim Jordan about yesterday's impeachment hearing. Every single thing out of Jordan's mouth was disingenuous, and she was having none of it. He also shouted over her, as is his wont. He came across like a complete nut bar and you could practically smell the flop sweat through the airwaves.
posted by Sublimity at 3:11 PM on November 14, 2019 [13 favorites]


Anyone who expected anything even slightly different from an interview with Jim Jordan should be demoted at a minimum.

That's what he does.

That's all he does.
posted by delfin at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Of course that’s all he does. It was refreshing to hear a member of the media refuse to accept it.
posted by Sublimity at 4:03 PM on November 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador's cell phone call with Trump. Ambassador Sondland violated procedures by calling Trump from his personal cell phone while in Ukraine. Multiple intelligence agencies are apparently known to tap cell phone calls in Ukraine, so it is likely that Russian Intelligence listened in on the call. State department staff had repeatedly tried to tell Sondland not to use his personal cell phone for official business.

but her emails
posted by biogeo at 4:15 PM on November 14, 2019 [37 favorites]


Here's a link to the Jim Jordan interview.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:18 PM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


For those that feel compelled to listen to that Jim Jordan/Audie Cornish interview, it's just been posted on NPR's website.
posted by notpace at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


That may be one time you might want to heed trump and "read the transcript" because hearing Jordan rant-squirm really is an assault on precious neurons who don't really want to have to record those memories for you but will try to do anyway because they're neurons and their there to do that.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:33 PM on November 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


Bloomberg, Giuliani Faces U.S. Probe on Campaign Finance, Lobbying Breaches
Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three U.S. officials.

The probe of Giuliani, which one official said could also include possible charges on violating laws against bribing foreign officials or conspiracy, presents a serious threat to Trump’s presidency from a man that former national security adviser John Bolton has called a “hand grenade.”

A second official said Giuliani’s activities raise counterintelligence concerns as well, although there probably wouldn’t be a criminal charge related to that. The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, provided the first indication of the potential charges under investigation.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:54 PM on November 14, 2019 [10 favorites]


I want to go to DC and picket either Congress or the DOJ with "NO PLEA BARGAINS."
posted by rhizome at 5:04 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Sondland's been criming on the phone, with that security violation.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:04 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


My mistake--the interviewer was Jessica Taylor, not Audie Cornish.
posted by Sublimity at 5:26 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


At the end of that interview Jordan went to "Ukraine got their aid and Zelensky didn't make the announcement, so what's the problem?"
posted by achrise at 5:34 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


At the end of that interview Jordan went to "Ukraine got their aid and Zelensky didn't make the announcement, so what's the problem?"

You still get busted for stealing if you try to put the goods back once you get caught.
posted by Gelatin at 5:43 PM on November 14, 2019 [19 favorites]


At the end of that interview Jordan went to "Ukraine got their aid and Zelensky didn't make the announcement, so what's the problem?"

The Sideshow Bob quote is pithy, but when trying to explain the idiocy of this it's more, "The mugger sees the cop walk up and puts his gun away and says keep the wallet. No problem there either, right?
posted by bcd at 5:46 PM on November 14, 2019 [18 favorites]


Zelensky only got the aid because Bolton gave the go ahead. Bolton quit the next day.
posted by xammerboy at 6:22 PM on November 14, 2019 [21 favorites]


It really can't be stressed enough -- and isn't being -- that Republicans keep moving the goalposts because the defenses they offer keep failing. Saying they released the aid once the whistleblower complaint was released isn't a defense, it's an admission of guilt.
posted by Gelatin at 6:29 PM on November 14, 2019 [34 favorites]


Zelensky only got the aid because Bolton gave the go ahead. Bolton quit the next day.

Presumably this is Bolton's story. It remains unconfirmed. There were two bundles of money, $250 million from the Pentagon and $141 million from the State Department. According to the story, Bolton ordered the release of the $141 million from the State Department.

This doesn't explain how a National Security Adviser can give orders to the State Department, nor does it explain how the other bundle of $250 million from the Defense Department was also released.

From other accounts it was Mick Mulvaney from his Office of the Management and Budget role, that was controlling the spigot. I'm reserving judgement on this Bolton self-serving story until more details are revealed.
posted by JackFlash at 6:39 PM on November 14, 2019 [19 favorites]


Absolutely what JackFlash just explained. The timing is a matter of public record, so the fact that the release didn't happen till after they knew the jig was up makes that whole defense laughable, but the actual mechanism of the release is still a matter of unsubstantiated claims from people with skin in the game. Better to wait and see about that part.
posted by bcd at 6:57 PM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


@JasonSCampbell
Laura Ingraham: "Attempted bribery isn't in the Constitution"
posted by xammerboy at 7:43 PM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


NYT: Appeals Court Rules President Must Turn Over 8 Years of Tax Returns

Trump Asks Supreme Court to Bar Release of His Tax Returns
President Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to bar his accounting firm from turning over eight years of his tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors.
...
In their petition urging the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that he was immune from all criminal proceedings and investigations so long as he remained in office. But even if some federal investigations may be proper, the petition said, the Supreme Court should rule that state and local prosecutors may not seek information about a sitting president’s conduct.
...
Mr. Trump’s lawyers noted that the Supreme Court heard cases concerning claims of immunity from Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.
...
In the two earlier cases, United States v. Nixon in 1974 and Clinton v. Jones in 1997, both presidents suffered unanimous losses.
Ceterum censeo, Trumpo delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 7:48 PM on November 14, 2019 [18 favorites]


Laura Ingraham: "Attempted bribery isn't in the Constitution"

Darn. Foiled again by the stellar constitutional scholars of the Federalist Society.

Note she has confessed that it was bribery.
posted by JackFlash at 7:54 PM on November 14, 2019 [34 favorites]


Yeah, I was just about to say: at least they’re now admitting it was an attempt at bribery.

I suspect there will be some high level messaging meetings between the GOP and Fox over the next couple of days to dial that back, though.

Because probably the last thing you want to be doing is admitting Trump did his darned best to commit a high crime or misdemeanor, but just couldn’t quite manage to close the deal.
posted by darkstar at 8:18 PM on November 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


trump simply will not let them do that because it was "perfect" all around so he'll sabotage any of that with another tweet to tell them to not back down any distance.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:50 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


"You know what — this new guy, Zelenskiy, this former media star" needed to be approached, Jordan said. Once Vice President Pence, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and others who attended his inauguration returned saying, " 'This guy is the real deal. He's worth the risk. He's worth the investment, ' " the money was then released, Jordan argued.

Isn't this quote from the Jordan/NPR interview a complete lie? I thought Mike Pence did NOT attend the inauguration and instead Rick Perry was sent in his place. So like WTF NPR journalist? You're just going to let that slide, print it, and not rebut that?
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:56 PM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


I listened to the full Jim Jordan interview several times (masochist, I know). Although I personally believe there isn't a level of Inferno deep and horrific enough for him, I think we are mistaken if we think he got dunked on. If we put ourselves in the mind of an average, inattentive citizen, let alone a Fox "News" aficionado, a lot of what he said sounds plausible even if perhaps not fully persuasive. We are far from winning the messaging battle so far.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:39 PM on November 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


Word. It'll be a huge mistake if Ds sit back and try to 'let the testimony speak for itself'. They need strategic leaks to keep the press engaged with the message. Continuous, credible narration with a titillating 'anonymous' backstory. At least.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:44 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


at least they’re now admitting it was an attempt at bribery

We're two weeks away from the final form of their message: "Yeah, he committed impeachable offenses. What are you gonna do about it, libs?"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:53 PM on November 14, 2019 [23 favorites]


White House budget official is prepared to testify on frozen Ukraine aid (Politico)
Mark Sandy, a senior White House budget official, is prepared to testify Saturday to House impeachment investigators about his knowledge of President Donald Trump's decision to halt nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, his lawyer indicated Thursday. Sandy's lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder — who is also representing former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison — said Sandy intends to testify if he receives a subpoena from lawmakers, a step Democrats have repeatedly taken with other cooperative witnesses to sidestep orders from the White House to refuse to testify.

A series of witnesses have indicated Trump ordered a freeze on military aid in early July, just as he and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani were leaning on senior Ukrainian officials to announce investigations of Trump's political rivals. The aid, which Ukraine depends upon to help fend off Russian military aggression in Crimea, was held until Sept. 11, despite unanimous approval from the State Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon, CIA and National Security Council that it should be distributed. [...]

Sandy would become the first official at the White House's Office of Management and Budget to talk to impeachment investigators, a breakthrough that could shed light on how Trump's effort to freeze aid to Ukraine was handled at the highest echelons of the administration. Sandy, according to investigators, signed a document on July 25 formalizing Trump's freeze on military aid — though the move had been revealed internally a week earlier.
posted by katra at 10:31 PM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


WATCH LIVE: The Trump Impeachment Hearings – Day 2 (PBS)
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted from her position, is scheduled to testify Friday in a public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET. Watch live
WATCH LIVE: Open Hearing with Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (U.S. House Intelligence Committee, YouTube)
On Friday, November 15, 2019 at 9 AM EST, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing with the Honorable Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, Former Ambassador to Kyiv, Ukraine. This is the second public hearing in the House impeachment inquiry.
Watch LIVE On November 15 | 8am ET | C-SPAN2
The House Intelligence Committee holds an open hearing as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is slated to testify.
posted by katra at 10:56 PM on November 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


Fun fact: "Ukraine" is pronounced ooh-cry-ee-nah in Ukrainian.

Not quite; the Ukrainian word for “Ukraine” is “Ukraina”, which ends with '-a' as it is feminine. It's as different from the English name as Firenze is from Florence.
posted by acb at 2:07 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Isn't this quote from the Jordan/NPR interview a complete lie? I thought Mike Pence did NOT attend the inauguration and instead Rick Perry was sent in his place. So like WTF NPR journalist? You're just going to let that slide, print it, and not rebut that?

I think it's fatigue + practical issues in dealing with the fact that Republicans Lie ALL THE TIME. The appealing thing with the interview of Jordan is that there was SOME pushback to SOME of Jordan's lies.

I didn't expect to see ANY pushback, so it's refreshing, but still a far cry from the still hypothetical "best-practice" of, "That's a lie, you're acting in bad-faith, so let's move on to... and I'll end the interview immediately if you try to lie to me again"
posted by mikelieman at 2:32 AM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


I suppose it does need to be pointed out that it's incredibly stupid to assert that the people who should be doing that kind of vetting of a wildcard new leader of a country are... the president's personal lawyer, and someone completely new to an ambassadorial post that doesn't even include said country.

By that point in the interview Jordan had gone into full shout-over mode--an obvious "tell" that what he's shouting about is so easily refuted that he can't permit any space for a response.
posted by Sublimity at 3:28 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


‘He does nothing without a quid pro quo’ (Daniel Lippman, Politico)
How Trump’s New York negotiating style clashed with the ways of Washington — and landed him on the brink of impeachment.

President Donald Trump has always viewed life through the prism of his next real estate deal, betting he can just bulldoze opponents into giving him what he wants. But Washington doesn’t work that way.

Now, as he battles an impeachment inquiry that sprang from his alleged attempt to bully a foreign leader, those who know Trump say it’s in large measure because he never made the switch from the brash, no-holds-barred New York businessman portrayed in “The Art of the Deal” to the president of a country governed by laws and norms of behavior.
The simplistic behaviors that made him a "successful" NYC businessman don't exactly work the same way in other contexts.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:53 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Isn't this quote from the Jordan/NPR interview a complete lie? I thought Mike Pence did NOT attend the inauguration and instead Rick Perry was sent in his place. So like WTF NPR journalist?

Some of my more rage filled listens have been to news and radio interviews with Republicans. They lie, or nearly the equivalent, and often get away with it. The things is, the journalists don't know. They're not on as on the ball as most informed citizens.

Many journalists really consider it their job to elicit and put forward a variety of considered opinions without commentary. The people they have on their shows are supposed to be experts, and the assumption is they're honest.

Of course the system has been totally gamed, but journalism has yet to figure out what to do about it. Personally, I think radio and print journalism should stop printing politicians period. Politicians are not experts. They get their information from lobbyists.

One idea would be to get information from non-partisan groups only. Another idea would be to keep a scorecard. If a source of information proves to be factually incorrect, they should have a public rating or something that reflects that. But it's capitalism that drives this too. If the news is driven by ratings, the news is going to keep having controversial guests.
posted by xammerboy at 5:59 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


The sartorial choices at these hearings have been A+. First the bowtie, now that beautiful Hermès scarf.
posted by all about eevee at 6:11 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


@AndrewDesiderio:
JUST IN: White House releases transcript of Trump’s first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:18 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


If the whistle-blower ever makes an appearance, I recommend a Slayer tee.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:19 AM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


betting he can just bulldoze opponents into giving him what he wants. But Washington doesn’t work that way.

Before Trump's 2016 campaign began, I would have agreed with this.
posted by Rykey at 6:20 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


"transcript" - once again, this is a call memo and not a verbatim transcript.
posted by notpace at 6:21 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


If the whistle-blower ever makes an appearance, I recommend a Slayer tee.

...And it HAS to be this one.
posted by Rykey at 6:24 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's not a transcript. (CNBC)
The White House on Friday released a memorandum of an April 21 phone call between President Donald Trump and then-Ukrainian President-elect Volodimyr Zelenskiy.

Trump in the call extended an invitation to bring Zelenskiy to the White House, according to the four-page memo, which notes in a footnote that it is "not a verbatim transcript of a discussion."

"I'd like to invite you to the White House. We'll have a lot of things to talk about, but we're with you all the way," Trump said. The conversation was 16 minutes long, according to the memo.

The U.S. president also told Zelenskiy "When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine was always very well represented." Trump owned the beauty pageant from 1996 to 2015.
posted by katra at 6:25 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


I am liking Schiff shutting down the noise. It's about time.
posted by Harry Caul at 6:29 AM on November 15, 2019 [12 favorites]


I like Schiff in general. Nancy Pelosi chose the right man for the job.
posted by all about eevee at 6:41 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


The simplistic behaviors that made him a "successful" NYC businessman don't exactly work the same way in other contexts.

Note also the article's effective admission that business in the United States is not "governed by laws and norms of behavior." And then one recalls just who it that demands the government be run "like a business."
posted by kewb at 6:41 AM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


Coverage of the first impeachment hearing [11/13] illustrates how the media is falling short (Aaron Rupar, Vox)
The proceedings got to the very core of what the office of the presidency is supposed to be about in our country. It was the stuff of history. But to hear Reuters and NBC tell it, one of the major faults of the hearing was that it simply lacked pizzazz.

Both outlets were roundly dragged for posting news analysis stories that focused on the entertainment value (or purported lack thereof) of the hearing. NBC’s piece, authored by Jonathan Allen, claimed that the hearing “lacked the pizazz necessary to capture public attention” — a turn of phrase that quickly became a meme and echoed the talking points Trump family members and administration officials used.
Late night talk shows picked up on this.

‘Is this an impeachment hearing or an episode of ‘Dance Moms?’’: Media roasted for saying event lacks ‘pizazz’
(Allyson Chiu, WaPo)
“Impeachment is like a family reunion,” Noah said Thursday night on his show. “If it’s sexy, something has gone horribly wrong.”

Noah wasn’t the only one Thursday to attack coverage that focused more on the hearing’s entertainment value than the substance of the testimonies from acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. Other late-night comics, Democrats and social media commentators also weighed in, and soon, the backlash became a trending Twitter moment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:58 AM on November 15, 2019 [18 favorites]


The simplistic behaviors that made him a "successful" NYC businessman don't exactly work the same way in other contexts.

To be fair, there’s actually no other context in which he could lose money freely by inheriting his father’s tax fraud, bankrupt six (not four) businesses, try to steal an infant’s medical insurance, launder russian mob money, misuse charity foundations, bribe state attorneys general and run a fake university.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:15 AM on November 15, 2019 [23 favorites]


Schiff just interrupted her testimony to read Trump's "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad." tweet.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:27 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Said tweet:
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:36 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Guardian: Trump smears Yovanovitch's reputation as she testifies
Trump has sent off a two-part tweet questioning the professional reputation of Maria Yovanovitch as the former US ambassador to Ukraine publicly testifies in the impeachment inquiry.
Guardian: It looks like the Democrats on the House intelligence committee intend to incorporate Trump’s disparaging tweet about Maria Yovanovitch into today’s impeachment hearing.
Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene)
.@RepAdamSchiff's staff just handed out printouts of this tweet to Intel members on the dais https://t.co/D9xdNt5xe8 November 15, 2019
Guardian: Yovanovitch defends herself against Trump's smear
Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, has just read Trump’s tweet disparaging Maria Yovanovitch as the longtime diplomat testifies in the impeachment hearing.

Reacting to Trump’s claim that “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Yovanovitch joked, “I don’t think I have such powers.” Yovanovitch went on to assert that, through their work, she and her fellow diplomats had “demonstrably made things better, both for the US and for the countries I’ve served in.”
posted by katra at 7:37 AM on November 15, 2019 [17 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler (@emptywheel) tweet: "I could witness tamper right in the middle of my own impeachment investigation and get away with it."

Yov better stay the fuck away from Fifth Avenue.
posted by mikepop at 7:41 AM on November 15, 2019 [34 favorites]


One of the defenses of Trump is — literally — a TV-cartoon joke (Bill Oakley, WaPo OpEd)
A former “Simpsons” writer on the “Sideshow Bob defense.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:56 AM on November 15, 2019 [10 favorites]




Another good one from Marcy Wheeler:
Hey journalists?!?!?!

Does LIVE WITNESS TAMPERING amount to "pizzazz" in your book?

(Also, any journalists or pundits complaining about the process being "boring" are admitting they are not competent to do their jobs and should be summarily fired.)
posted by Gelatin at 8:05 AM on November 15, 2019 [40 favorites]


Guardian: Fox News anchors described the testimony of Maria Yovanovitch as a “turning point” in the impeachment inquiry against Trump. [...]
Bret Baier (@BretBaier) That was a turning point in this hearing so far. She was already a sympathetic witness & the President’s tweet ripping her allowed Schiff to point it out real time characterizing it as witness tampering or intimidation -adding an article of impeachment real-time. https://t.co/HSCkGMIqmH November 15, 2019
[...]
Toluse Olorunnipa (@ToluseO) Chris Wallace on Fox News: "If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, you don't have a pulse." November 15, 2019
posted by katra at 8:05 AM on November 15, 2019 [28 favorites]


"and…he just…he tweeted it out.” is going to be the title of the chapter on the Trump presidency in textbooks some day.
posted by Etrigan at 8:11 AM on November 15, 2019 [19 favorites]


Jordan: "this new guy, Zelenskiy, this former media star"

These guys have absolutely no self-awareness at all.
posted by JackFlash at 8:14 AM on November 15, 2019 [31 favorites]


One of the defenses of Trump is — literally — a TV-cartoon joke (Bill Oakley, WaPo OpEd)

The ultimate irony being that Sideshow Bob is on the phone to the right wing talk host during that joke.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:18 AM on November 15, 2019 [20 favorites]


Me: (Also, any journalists or pundits complaining about the process being "boring" are admitting they are not competent to do their jobs and should be summarily fired.)

By the way, remember how the Watergate story broke? Some reporter was doing the boring duty of covering routine arrests when they noticed that several men had been busted for burglarizing the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

And they didn't have to rely on Twitter to notice how important that fact was.

Reporters are supposed to glean the important details from otherwise-boring proceedings, and it's a mark of how far the profession has fallen that more than one of them complains, in print, that they aren't being sufficiently entertained.
posted by Gelatin at 8:24 AM on November 15, 2019 [35 favorites]


The Sideshow Bob joke is highlighted upthread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:27 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Jordan rejected the notion that Trump’s tweets amount to witness tampering. “The witness is testifying. She wouldn’t even know about the quote if Mr. Schiff hadn’t read the tweet,” Jordan said.

Same excuse as for the bribery. They claim that Zelensky didn't know about the bribery, therefore it wasn't a crime.

Trump: "I be crimeing, but the victims didn't know so it's all okay."
posted by JackFlash at 8:43 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


WaPo: 11:25 AM EST Democrats say Trump’s tweet could be basis for another article of impeachment
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who sits on the Intelligence Committee, tweeted: “.@POTUS tampering with and intimidating a witness in real time while testifying is shocking and beneath any office, let alone the Office of the President.”

“The president just demonstrated witness intimidation & obstruction of justice in real time. Yuvanovitch is a dedicated, truth-telling, career foreign service official who knows how to put country first, over partisanship. Trumps actions are truly dangerous,” wrote Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) (Yovanovitch’s name was misspelled.)

And Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.) tweeted: “Why is @realDonaldTrump engaging in witness intimidation of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she testifies during the #ImpeachmentHearings? Because her testimony is devastating to @POTUS.”
Guardian: Democrats say they will consider Trump's smear for articles of impeachment
Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the Democratic members of the House intelligence committee, said that Trump’s attack on Maria Yovanovitch “will be considered” for one of the articles of impeachment. One of Swalwell’s fellow Democrats on the panel, Andre Carson, similarly said the committee would “look into” whether Trump engaged in witness intimidation.
posted by katra at 8:44 AM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


Imagine if the President of the United States asked the Attorney General to open an investigation into a political rival, and the Attorney General said “No”.

Then imagine that the President said, if you do it, I’ll give you four hundred-million dollars.

That would be bad, right?

Now, replace the U.S. Attorney General with the President of Ukraine.

And replace the four hundred-million dollars of the President’s money with four hundred-million dollars of U.S. taxpayer money which the Congress had legally mandated should go to Ukraine, so Ukraine can defend itself against an ongoing Russian invasion.

Is that any better? Because that is what happened.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:47 AM on November 15, 2019 [73 favorites]


There's at least one other instance of OMB funding weirdness that has all the outward appearances of the Ukraine aid decisions prior to late September of this hear.

I would be super-interested to know why Mulvaney's OMB diverted funds in 2018 from the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) and Grand Canyon Monitoring and Resource Center (GCMRC). The decision at the time was regarded as entirely inscrutable, but there was very little press coverage. I seem to recall that funding was somehow later restored, but I can find zero press coverage about how the issue was ultimately resolved.

These programs both supported jobs in Arizona, and neither of Arizona's senators got along well with Trump. Mulvaney also had a history with one of our senators: John McCain was the only Republican senator to vote against Mulvaney's confirmation to head OMB.

Funding was diverted in summer of 2018, about two months after McCain criticized Trump’s family separation policy. Flake was also critical of the decision. (In the most extremely mild sense of the word "critical.")

I’m not sure when funding was restored, but I absolutely would not be surprised to learn that it was after McCain died. GCDAMP and GCMRC are both the result of the Grand Canyon Protection Act, legislation that was sponsored by John McCain.

Was the funding diversion punitive? An attempt to gain something of value? Maybe it was for other totally bonkers or vindictive reasons. It would be nice to know. But the appearance of the funding decision is consistent with what was publicly known about Ukraine aid prior to coverage of the whistleblower’s report in September of this year. Funds that had already been authorized by Congress were blocked by Mulvaney’s OMB for inscrutable reasons, and then funds were restored when it was no longer politically expedient to continue blocking them.
posted by compartment at 8:49 AM on November 15, 2019 [16 favorites]


Roger Stone, uh . . so guilty.
posted by Harry Caul at 8:51 AM on November 15, 2019 [48 favorites]


Guess theyre gonna have to . . . Lock Him Up!
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


First they came for the self-identified “dirty tricksters”, which kinda makes sense if you think about it
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:55 AM on November 15, 2019 [26 favorites]


Roger Stone, uh . . so guilty.

This is a big deal because Roger Stone is a direct link between Trump and the Russian hackers. Stone literally discussed this with Trump on the phone.

This is the step in the collusion conspiracy that Mueller failed to make because he was pressured to file his report before the Stone trial.
posted by JackFlash at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2019 [17 favorites]


...And because he was denied the ability to interview many people including the President.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


Roger Stone Is Found Guilty in Trial That Revived Trump-Russia Saga (NYT)
In one of the trial’s most revealing moments, Rick Gates, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, recounted a July 31, 2016, phone call between Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump, just days after WikiLeaks had released a trove of emails embarrassing the Clinton campaign. As soon as he hung up with Mr. Stone, Mr. Gates testified, Mr. Trump declared that “more information” was coming, an apparent reference to future releases from WikiLeaks that would rattle his political rival.

Mr. Gates’s testimony called into question Mr. Trump’s answers to queries from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who conducted a criminal inquiry into Russia’s election interference. Mr. Trump, who agreed to respond to questions only in writing rather than sit for an interview, said he could not recall the specifics of any of 21 conversations he had with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election. Mr. Stone told House investigators that he never discussed his conversations with an intermediary to WikiLeaks with anyone involved in the Trump campaign. [...]

Because Mr. Stone misled them, prosecutors said, lawmakers failed to pursue promising leads and arrived at inaccurate conclusions in their final report on Russia’s election interference. For instance, they said, the committee never discerned the full scope of contacts between Mr. Stone and the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks.
posted by katra at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


And because he was completely unwilling to step up and be anything other than a line soldier during his testimony to Congress.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


If I had my druthers, I would not want to do prison time with a giant grinning tattoo of Richard Nixon on my back.
posted by JackFlash at 9:06 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Idk, it could become a gang thing. Don’t mess with the Stoners.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:10 AM on November 15, 2019


emptywheel tweet: And, minutes after the President witness tampers in real time, his rat-fucker is found guilty of witness tampering.

Roger Stone joins Trumps' former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal attorney, and National Security advisor in the Convicted Felon box.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:10 AM on November 15, 2019 [47 favorites]


I’m waiting for the Trump tweet where he says he barely knew Mr Stone, he worked with him for a handful of decades, if that.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:12 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Roger Stone joins Trumps' former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal attorney, and National Security advisor in the Convicted Felon box.

Cue the Trump tweet that he hardly knows Stone, too.
posted by Gelatin at 9:13 AM on November 15, 2019


"POTUS tampering with and intimidating a witness in real time while testifying is shocking and beneath any office, let alone the Office of the President.”

Does witness intimidation violate Twitter's TOS?
posted by bz at 9:16 AM on November 15, 2019 [14 favorites]


The prosecutor who gave the opening statement in the Roger Stone trial was Aaron Zelinsky. What's it called when the present starts rhyming with itself?

Also, that pic of Roger Stone in the yahoo news article reminded me of the Twitter thread I always think of whenever Stone comes up (if you've never scrolled through the entire thing before, I truly envy you).
(Edit: if you're on your phone, be sure to click on the picture of him to get full enjoyment)
posted by mabelstreet at 9:17 AM on November 15, 2019 [21 favorites]


This is the step in the collusion conspiracy that Mueller failed to make because he was pressured to file his report before the Stone trial.

Mueller didn't have time to talk with Rick Gates, Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, about Stone, who everyone knew was involved with WikiLeaks, during his long investigation?

Because Mr. Stone misled them, prosecutors said, lawmakers failed to pursue promising leads and arrived at inaccurate conclusions in their final report on Russia’s election interference.

If you were investigating Russian collusion, would you believe Roger Stone to be a credible source of truthful information?
posted by xammerboy at 9:26 AM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


If you were investigating Russian collusion, would you believe Roger Stone to be a credible source of truthful information?

Maybe not, but I would certainly be glad for the chance to seize all his stuff and go through it with a fine-toothed comb.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Guardian: Republicans on the intelligence committee began their questioning of Maria Yovanovitch by attempting to violate the House resolution outlining procedures in the impeachment inquiry. [...]
Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) NUNES intentionally violates the impeachment inquiry rules by yielding to STEFANIK. They know this violates the process set out for the impeachment inquiry and then pretend to be shocked when Schiff gavels them down. November 15, 2019
posted by katra at 9:44 AM on November 15, 2019 [18 favorites]


Modern Republicans: they run the gamut from Pizza-gate to pizzazz-gate.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Republicans on the intelligence committee began their questioning of Maria Yovanovitch by attempting to violate the House resolution outlining procedures in the impeachment inquiry.

Obviously this stunt was designed to play to the Republican/Fox News base (but I repeat myself), but I wonder if it means Republicans perceive Trump is such bad trouble over the facts that they have to gin up a "the process is UNFAIR!!!1!" soundbite.

Republicans may have voted unanimously against the open hearings (despite having demanded them), but by participating they consent to the rules. If they don't like the rules, they can walk out and let the Democrats and witnesses talk without histrionics. (And they know that'd go even worse for them.)
posted by Gelatin at 9:51 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Obviously this stunt was designed to play to the Republican/Fox News base (but I repeat myself), but I wonder if it means Republicans perceive Trump is such bad trouble over the facts that they have to gin up a "the process is UNFAIR!!!1!" soundbite.

They were doing similar "This whole HEARING is out of order!" crap on Wednesday too. They're shotgunning "UNFAIR" soundbites to see what works.
posted by Etrigan at 9:55 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Mueller didn't have time to talk with Rick Gates, Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, about Stone, who everyone knew was involved with WikiLeaks, during his long investigation?
Within the Trump Campaign, aides reacted with enthusiasm to reports of the hacks. [redacted] discussed with Campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release the hacked material. Some witnesses said that Trump himself discussed the possibility of upcoming releases [Redacted] .... Michael Cohen, then-executive vice resident of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump, recalled hearing [redacted]. Cohen recalled that Trump responded, "oh good, alright," and [redacted]. Manafort said that shortly after WikiLeaks July 22 2016 release of hacked documents, he spoke to Trump [redacted]. Manafort recalled that Trump responded that Manafort should [redacted] keep Trump updated. Deputy campaign manager Rick Gates said that Manafort was getting pressure about [redacted] information and that Manafort instructed Gates [redacted] status updates on upcoming releases. Around the same time, Gates was with Trump on a trip to an airport [redacted] , and shortly after the call ended Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming. [Redacted] were discussed within the Campaign, and in the summer of 2016, the Campaign was planning a communications strategy based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks.
Mueller Report, vol II, pp 17-18

Emphasis mine.

We know that some of that redacted material was about Stone (eg Cohen has publicly said he overhead Stone tell Trump on the phone that more releases were coming.) The redactions are all coded "Harm to Ongoing Matter" and were presumably mostly left out so that the could be revealed at Stone's trial rather than in the report.

In any case, what you heard at Stone's trial is absolutely stuff that Mueller uncovered and mostly stuff that was in the report. It is worth reading that report or one of the many adaptations of it before buying into Barr's BS spin that it is exculpatory for Trump. It is not.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:56 AM on November 15, 2019 [24 favorites]


Roger Stone Is Found Guilty in Trial That Revived Trump-Russia Saga

Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Seriously, the way that Stone has gotten away with everything in his life, I was certain he was going to find one juror to believe him. This almost makes up for Roy Cohn never being convicted.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:59 AM on November 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


So what is the expected sentence for Stone? And is he expecting a pardon?
posted by gwint at 10:13 AM on November 15, 2019


Anybody got time today to write up a FOIA request for unredacted copies of the portions of the Mueller report that were previously redacted for "harm to ongoing matter"?
posted by mabelstreet at 10:25 AM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Regarding Roger Stone:
Relevant Doonesbury
posted by Emmy Noether at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2019 [14 favorites]


Anybody got time today to write up a FOIA request for unredacted copies of the portions of the Mueller report that were previously redacted for "harm to ongoing matter"?

Congress has already sued to get the unredacted report. Bill Barr is fighting it. The case has been going on for months since the release of the redacted report. A federal judge ruled just a couple weeks ago that the unredacted material must be released, but Barr has appealed. It will probably take another 6 months to work its way to the Supreme Court.

Bill Barr is doing everything in his power as Trump's personal attorney to prevent the release of a report that he says "totally exonerates" Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 10:39 AM on November 15, 2019 [12 favorites]


while congress is considering witness tampering charge for today's tantrum, i hope they remember those tweets at michael cohen and family.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:47 AM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


From 538's liveblog

Devin Dwyer 1:52 PM
If there was any doubt how damaging Republicans believe the president's real-time tweet attack on Yovanovitch could be, just listen to them lavish her with empathy and gratitude one by one. After Trump suggested Yovanovitch messed up every place she served -- and was "bad news" in Ukraine -- Stefanik comes out and says the foreign service is "lucky to have you;" Conaway hails her "exemplary service;" and Wenstrup acknowledges the hardships she has faced in her decades of service. Softening the touch on a very compelling female witness at a time when Republicans can't afford to alienate suburban women voters.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:13 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


Now that Stone is found guilty, what happens to Credico? I would hope he gets the book thrown at him for not cooperating, but.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2019


Trump blows up effort to blunt impeachment damage (Politico)
To start the day, the White House insisted Trump was too busy working to track Friday's hearing, which featured testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted ambassador to Ukraine. And it released a document summarizing Trump's first phone call with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in April of this year, seeking to bolster its claim that Trump did nothing wrong in his dealings with the Eastern European leader, the subject of the House's impeachment inquiry. [...]

The tone of that April 21 call, which was blasted out moments before ousted ambassador Yovanovitch began testifying, was much more congratulatory, taking place hours after Zelensky's historic landslide election. [...] Notably, the document released Friday does not include a mention of Ukrainian corruption, even though a readout of the the White House issued in April said the two leaders discussed implementing “reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.”

The White House did not respond to a list of questions on Friday, including a request to explain that discrepancy. [...]

Several administration officials have testified in closed-door depositions with House impeachment investigators that they eventually came to see mentions of investigating “corruption” in Ukraine as code for the Biden and 2016 election investigations.
posted by katra at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


Who among us has not occasionally made a phone call without committing any crimes?
posted by sjswitzer at 11:50 AM on November 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


Notably, the document released Friday does not include a mention of Ukrainian corruption, even though a readout of the the White House issued in April said the two leaders discussed implementing “reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.”

It's not just the constant lies, it's that they are so bad at the lying. Their own readout and 'transcript' don't match on the single most important detail. Normally I'd say you can't guess which is the lie, but when the readout happened the fact that 'corruption' was code for fabricating lies about political opponents wasn't widely known, so it seems without a doubt that something damning was said and then removed from that 'transcript.
posted by bcd at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]




Who among us has not occasionally made a phone call without committing any crimes?

What? Calling up a world leader and bragging about "owning" the Miss Universe pageant and how hot the Ukrainian women are isn't a crime?
posted by JackFlash at 12:04 PM on November 15, 2019


Softening the touch on a very compelling female witness at a time when Republicans can't afford to alienate suburban women voters.

Someone in my Facebook feed pointed out that Trump didn't attack the two male witnesses from Wednesday so rudely.
posted by Gelatin at 12:06 PM on November 15, 2019 [31 favorites]


As this horror show slowly unravels, I so desperately want to know what Trump said to Putin during their private meetings, but I suppose we will never know.
posted by effluvia at 12:18 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


As this horror show slowly unravels, I so desperately want to know what Trump said to Putin during their private meetings, but I suppose we will never know.

Don't despair. At the rate we're going, he'll be Tweeting the transcript line by line before Christmas.
posted by Mayor West at 12:22 PM on November 15, 2019 [13 favorites]


Just a hunch, but I would wager most of what Putin said to trump was about Ukraine and making them a good client state again.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on November 15, 2019


If I had my druthers, I would not want to do prison time with a giant grinning tattoo of Richard Nixon on my back.

On the other hand, Nixon is finally behind bars.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2019 [73 favorites]


Softening the touch on a very compelling female witness at a time when Republicans can't afford to alienate suburban women voters.

Someone in my Facebook feed pointed out that Trump didn't attack the two male witnesses from Wednesday so rudely.


Note that his attack on her was, at its base, that she simply did not belong in the corridors of power, couched in "She's always been bad at her job." It was as dog-whistley as Trump ever gets: affirmative-action hire, promoted past her ability.
posted by Etrigan at 12:47 PM on November 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


Note that his attack on her was, at its base, that she simply did not belong in the corridors of power,

Fascists love to thin the top of the pyramid on a last-in first-out basis.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:54 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


So I hear Roger Stone is going to prison
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:21 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


I really wonder how Stone is going to act if he doesn't get the pardon he expects.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:24 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


So.... What else is needed to prove Trump colluded with Russia? I'm seriously asking.
posted by xammerboy at 1:24 PM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


That depends on what you mean by "collude." In the legal sense, collusion is by far mostly used as an anti-trust offense, so it has never really been the right word to use in this context.

Now, if you want to talk "conspiracy," we'll have to wait and find out whether there was something that they were conspiring to do. But it seems like things are going in that direction, though I don't have much sense of which veils need to be pierced. S'pose that's more of a problem for Mulvaney and Barr.
posted by rhizome at 1:32 PM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


What else is needed to prove Trump colluded with Russia?

The shortest route to showing a criminal conspiracy would be (I think) to link Kilimnik to IRA and then show that Manafort acted at Trump's direction or with his foreknowledge in sharing polling data with Kilimnik. They're not like super hard dots to connect in informal "yeah, this is probably what happened" terms but the government hasn't (as far as I know) shown evidence for those connections.

I don't know if Roger Stone's underlying conduct was necessarily illegal- just the subsequent coverup. Publicizing emails or optimizing the response to the emails for campaign purposes... I don't know of anything illegal about that. But in the colloquial sense it was super collude-y.
posted by Jpfed at 1:36 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I read the praise the Rs heaped on Yovanovitch totally differently. It was backhanded praise that served the different sub-narratives they're trying to push:

"Are you OK these days? You're now at Georgetown, making the same salary, so that's good" = "See, it wasn't that horrible to be reassigned"

"I totally empathize with your being uprooted from your post. Why, I remember being called up for duty in Iraq..." = "It happens when you serve your country, you're overreacting, get over it"

"I'm sorry you've been made to be part of this show trial" = "I'm a festering blossom of maggots, feasting on reptile feces, wrapped inside a skinsuit, just the way my base likes it"
posted by Rykey at 1:40 PM on November 15, 2019 [30 favorites]


I don't know if Roger Stone's underlying conduct was necessarily illegal

Stone was text messaging directly with Guccifer 2.0 and Guccifer 2.0 was asking Stone what more he could do for Stone to help him with the Trump campaign (that is, hacking documents). Stone was then coordinating this personally with Trump. That seems like a criminal conspiracy.
posted by JackFlash at 1:51 PM on November 15, 2019 [28 favorites]


we'll have to wait and find out whether there was something that they were conspiring to do.

I'd thought that was fairly clear.

For Russia: de-stabilize the connection between Ukraine and the West, thus enabling Putin to sweep in (overtly or covertly) and re-establish Ukraine as a client state.

For Russia: Discredit the Mueller report (and IC assertion) in its claims that Russia interfered with the 2016 election by direct hacking of the DNC servers and social media campaign, thus justifying cancelling the sanctions that keep Russian oligarchs from being able to park/launder their money in the US.

For Manafort: establish that the proof of his tax fraud was a forgery of "corrupt" Ukrainian prosecutors, thus justifying a pardon for him.

For Trump: Discredit the Mueller report, which threatens his ego about how he won the 2016 election. Also he's probably laundered money from Russia for decades, and the sanctions on Russia may be interfering with his cash flow. Plus he likes "strongmen" to like him, so catering to their cupidity is fine by him.

For Firtash: another oligarch, likely to benefit if the US stops supporting anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and elsewhere.

For Rudy: keeps the money flowing from and through said oligarchs.

There's some sketchy business with the Ukrainian oil/gas industry that I haven't really dug into, but Rick Perry wanted to appoint some Texans to a major Ukrainian board, so I'm sure there's some dirt there as well.

One of the more impressive things is how far in advance Sarah Kendzior saw a lot of this.
posted by suelac at 2:32 PM on November 15, 2019 [43 favorites]


According to NPR's top-of-the-hour newscast, the Republicans' defense of Trump's conduct regarding Ambassador Yovanovitch is that ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President and Trump has the power to hire or fire them at will.

NPR did not point out that the issue at hand was not whether Trump had that power, but whether he abused it, and that this Republican talking point is silent on the notion of abuse of power -- it isn't the rebuttal NPR presented it as by "balancing" the evidence established by the Democrats with the spaghetti flung at the wall by Republicans.

It's like trying to defend someone against a murder charge by noting they have a legal right to fire a gun. Yeah, just not into someone.
posted by Gelatin at 2:33 PM on November 15, 2019 [41 favorites]


(So as not to abuse the edit window: NPR also didn't examine the other implication of the Republican legislators' position, which is to embrace the concept that the President is indeed above the law, and that the fact that he has a power means that he can freely exercise it for whatever corrupt motive he chooses.)
posted by Gelatin at 2:37 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


the Republicans' defense of Trump's conduct regarding Ambassador Yovanovitch is that ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President

You kill this by asking, "What did Ambassador Yovanovitch do to displease the President?"
posted by mikelieman at 3:21 PM on November 15, 2019 [21 favorites]


So if Dumbo fired a gun on 5th Avenue (and it went through someone's skull), he had the power to do that. The gun serves at his pleasure.
posted by Dashy at 3:39 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Holmes testimony: Sondland told Trump that the Ukranian President would do "anything you ask him to," and then he confirmed the Ukrainians were going to "do the investigation."

“While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume,” Holmes testified.

Holmes said Sondland responded Trump only cares about “big stuff.” When Holmes said that the Ukraine war was big, Sondland responded “‘big stuff’ that benefits the President, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing,” Holmes said.

Wow. Sondland, you are screwed.
posted by xammerboy at 4:01 PM on November 15, 2019 [29 favorites]


David Holmes opening statement.

Read it. JFC.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:02 PM on November 15, 2019 [42 favorites]


Sondland told Trump: "[Zelensky] would do anything for you. He loves your ass."
posted by xammerboy at 4:08 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]




Yes, Mr. President, I am on my personal cellphone and at a public restaurant, as you requested . Yes, sir, this will certainly throw off the deep state. Can you speak really loudly though? It's hard to hear you. You want me to put you on speaker? No problem.
posted by xammerboy at 4:19 PM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


Wow. That Holmes statement. So yeah some shit about the president being able to look the kardashians in the eye is now a part of the official record

coolcoolcoolcoolcool
posted by lazaruslong at 4:28 PM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


How a Tweet from Trump Scrambled the GOP’s Impeachment Strategy

With his tweet, Trump not only buttressed her credibility, but turned her into a sort of martyr.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:30 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


I am flipping back and forth between this tab and A Bored Panda tab that is all teacher collected quotes from school children and it is all blurring into one big thread in my mind and really it is not much different from a normal potus45 thread.
posted by srboisvert at 4:42 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Read the Holmes statement. At the end, I felt tears welling.
This is just the second day of hearings, and the Republicans have already lost control of the message. I'm still not ready to hope. Just taking notes.
posted by mumimor at 4:54 PM on November 15, 2019 [17 favorites]


Trump is that kid the teacher catches red handed with a cheat sheet and then the kid says he can't possibly be guilty of cheating when he still failed the test--because even the cheat sheet he wrote up was all wrong.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:55 PM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Sondland is utterly fucked come Wednesday.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:00 PM on November 15, 2019 [12 favorites]


He does nothing without a quid pro quo’ (Daniel Lippman, Politico)
posted by Zeushumms, I think.

The point in that article is that the construction business is like that, and we all have to deal with it. But in real life, the corruption and mob interests that encourage that approach are what make construction ineffective, bad quality, and in the worst cases also dangerous. (I should make a post about this).
posted by mumimor at 5:15 PM on November 15, 2019 [13 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi says Trump's attacks on witnesses "very significant" to impeachment probe
"Because he knows — well, he made a mistake and he knows her strength. And he was trying to undermine it," Pelosi replied.

She added, "Of course, presidents appoint ambassadors, but people don't insult people, especially when they're giving testimony before the Congress of the United States. I think even his most ardent supporters have to honestly admit this is the wrong thing for the president to do."
...
"He should not frivolously throw out insults, but that's what he does. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter. I think he knows full well that he's in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else," she added.
Ceterum censeo, Trumpo delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 5:20 PM on November 15, 2019 [43 favorites]


A source familiar with WH discussions said aides to the president are not happy that Sondland apparently shared his call with Trump with others: “the president speaks loudly. Sondland should know that.”

Soooo...they're confirming Holmes's account?
posted by notsnot at 5:38 PM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


Speaker Pelosi is getting so far into Tr*mp's head he might 'splode before he's impeached...
posted by PhineasGage at 5:39 PM on November 15, 2019 [21 favorites]


Yovanovich testified today that at the very moment she received the call that Trump was dismissing her, she was attending a memorial for a 33-year-old anti-corruption activist who had been attacked on the street by hired goons with sulfuric acid. She suffered and died of her burns three months later.

The corrupt people who ordered the attack are the guys Trump was trying to protect by firing Yovanovich because they were willing to give Trump what he wanted in Ukraine.
posted by JackFlash at 5:56 PM on November 15, 2019 [55 favorites]


I don't like living in the Upside Down.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:58 PM on November 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


JackFlash > ...Calling up a world leader and bragging about "owning" the Miss Universe pageant and how hot the Ukrainian women are isn't a crime?

The Donald may think being Daddy Universe was cool, but he’ll never be as cool as Paul McCartney singing Back in the USSR in Moscow’s Red Square, May 24, 2003, entertaining Putin in the crowd (0:14) with Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind.” (1:30ff).
posted by cenoxo at 6:51 PM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]




After private White House meeting, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas said he was on a 'secret mission' for Trump

This was the other bribery scheme. Trump was running the same scam with Zelensky's predecessor and election opponent, President Poroshenko. He was promising Poroshenko an appearance at a White House state dinner, which would be a political coup right before his upcoming election. This was in exchange for doing the long-sought Biden investigations. This all fell apart when Pororshenko went down in a landslide. So Trump had to crank up a brand new bribery scheme with Zelensky.

Giuliani and his two sidekick clowns just couldn't seem to close the deal.
posted by JackFlash at 7:20 PM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Eventually, according to what Parnas told his confidants, the topic turned to Ukraine that night. According to those two confidants, Parnas said that "the big guy," as he sometimes referred to the President in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as "a secret mission" to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

In the days immediately following the meeting, Parnas insinuated to the two people he confided in that he clearly believed he'd been given a special assignment by the President; like some sort of "James Bond mission," according to one of the people.
posted by xammerboy at 7:21 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Trump ran the oval office like some third rate mafia don...
posted by xammerboy at 7:24 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have this fantasy that Melania is running a Hogan's Heroes like resistance out of tunnels beneath the White House.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:37 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


If Melania ends up in prison, I REALLY DON'T CARE. DO U?
posted by benzenedream at 7:51 PM on November 15, 2019 [20 favorites]


This was the other bribery scheme.

Which would have probably gone off without a hitch and we would have never known about it. Secret mission destroy democracy accomplished. Interesting that this went from the offer of a simple dinner to holding all Ukraine hostage in the blink of an eye. Trump wants what Trump wants.
posted by xammerboy at 8:00 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I hope at some point in the hearings, Schiff or someone takes the time to point out that this corruption of the office has been a steady pattern since day 1 of the Trump administration, and there are strong echoes of the Mueller investigation. Replace Giuliani, Mulvaney and Sondland with Cohen, Flynn, and Manafort and you have similar conspiring and cover-ups along with the same removals of career officials like Yates and Comey who were not on board.

It's worth pointing out because we've all been seeing and calling these acts out repeatedly, but the GOP Senate, and former GOP House were entirely complicit by enabling the corruption and refusing to acknowledge facts that have been staring them in the face all along. The rot runs deep and next election day, the public needs to remember how the GOP did nothing to stop this despite access to all the classified corroborating evidence.
posted by p3t3 at 8:18 PM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


Exclusive: After private White House meeting, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas said he was on a 'secret mission' for Trump, sources say.
Ok, so he's on a secret mission for the President of the United States and he stops to confide that fact to his two (checks notes) acquaintances.

The. Best. People.
posted by Horkus at 8:20 PM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


Exclusive: After private White House meeting, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas said he was on a 'secret mission' for Trump, sources say.

Despite CNN claiming that Parnas feels betrayed by Trump and that he's sniping at Giuliani, I wouldn't trust a single word he says without two confirming witnesses, especially if he claims to have the goods on Trump. This is to important to be messed up by some low-level goon whose made a profession out of lying.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


The. Best. People.

Not a bad enough dude to rescue Donnie
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:11 PM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


Giuliani offered the Guardian a seemingly bizarre explanation for why he had used the words “current” and “active agents” in October 2016 that strongly suggested he had insider knowledge about a secret FBI investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information:
In short, he suggested that when he used the word “current” agent he meant that the FBI agents were retired but still in the broader US workforce, and that when he said they were “active” agents, he meant they were retired but still physically youthful and able-bodied.
posted by autopilot at 12:31 AM on November 16, 2019 [9 favorites]


’A White House readout of an April call between Trump and Zelensky that does not match the rough transcript released Friday was drafted before the call occurred and was never updated, according to a person briefed on the call.
The official readout — which said Trump “expressed his commitment” to work with the newly elected president to “strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption” — was based on talking points that the president did not follow, the person said.
After the call, the White House staff did not update the readout to reflect what Trump actually said — and what he left out, the person said.
In response to questions about the discrepancy Friday, deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley blamed National Security Council Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who he said prepared the readout.
But Vindman was not responsible for making the final update to the readout, according to a person familiar with his account, who said he recalls that then-press secretary Sarah Sanders held onto the readout before turning it over for public release.’ <<WaPo
posted by Harry Caul at 3:13 AM on November 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


So basically, trying to blame Vindman is a botched coverup of a botched coverup.
posted by darkstar at 3:18 AM on November 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


That classic phrase uttered by Hal Holbrook in All the President’s Men strikes again.
posted by darkstar at 3:22 AM on November 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


I guess Sarah Sanders can also tell the Kardashians that she tried.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:28 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Here’s a more readable version of Holmes’s opening statement.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:43 AM on November 16, 2019 [11 favorites]


With all the lawyers around Trump, no one has explained to him about freedom of speech rights? Or is Trump just yelling to try and distract from impeachment testimony. Or is he just stupid? (allowed comment according to the First Amendment).

"You know what? I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just as other people do, but they've taken away the Republicans rights," the President said.
posted by baegucb at 6:48 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Key excerpt from the Holmes testimony:
The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland and the two staffers sat off to our sides. [...]

During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times, along the lines of "Gordon Sondland holding for the President." It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistants. I then noticed Ambassador Sondland's demeanor change, and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President's voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President's voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.

I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain that he was calling from Kyiv. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelenskyy "loves your ass." I then heard President Trump ask, "So, he's gonna do the investigation?" Ambassador Sondland replied that "he's gonna do it," adding that President Zelenskyy will do "anything you ask him to." [...]

After the call ended, Ambassador Sondland remarked that the President was in a bad mood, as Ambassador Sondland stated was often the case early in the morning. I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the President's views on Ukraine. In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the President did not "give a s—t about Ukraine." Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not "give a s—t about Ukraine." I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the President only cares about "big stuff." I noted that there was "big stuff" going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant "big stuff" that benefits the President, like the "Biden investigation" that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:54 AM on November 16, 2019 [33 favorites]


From the info that's come out so far, Sondland was already coming across really badly: buying his way into an ambassadorial job, meddling in affairs outside of his assignment (Ukraine is not in the EU), the stuff about "a businessman wants to get what he's owed", "revising" his testimony after the fact. Then the portrayal that came out Friday about him regarding that July 26 cell phone call (language, using a personal cell phone in public to contact the president) is even worse.

But man, after the testimony this week from Kent, Taylor, and Yovanovich, each of them rock-solid professionals with decades of patriotic service? He's going to walk out of there looking like a two bit used car salesman.
posted by Sublimity at 6:59 AM on November 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


Holmes: Is it true that Trump doesn't give a shit about Ukraine?
Sondland: Did you just hear me explain to the president that Kyiv is in Ukraine?
posted by xammerboy at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2019 [20 favorites]


It's so weird to me that it's been so clear from the very beginning that this is how Trump operates, that it's been a total illegal clusterfuck of bribery since long before Day One, and yet it's taken this long to pin down actual testimony. Having the legislative branch in his pocket for two years sure helped, but it sure underlines how MIND-NUMBINGLY CORRUPT the entire Republican party is that it put all its resources into protecting his treasonous acts. Every Republican politician and voter is on the hook for this. How can we reclaim any kind of democratic structure to government when such a great swath of people prefer a corrupt dictatorship?
posted by rikschell at 7:22 AM on November 16, 2019 [29 favorites]


Holmes statement reads like someone who cannot believe they have to get involved in this and he even says as much. He seems to genuinely care about promoting free and fair government and is probably torpedoing his career and ability to do something he clearly loves just so because he was diligent enough to chase down Sondland and be at the lunch. He knew there was funny business and he was trying every which way to get someone, anyone to pay attention.

i hope his and Yovanovich’s testimony truly helps impeachment happen and that’s it not all for naught.
posted by affectionateborg at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2019 [17 favorites]


"You know what? I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just as other people do, but they've taken away the Republicans rights," the President said.

This pearl-clutching/"we're the victims" ties directly into the Jordan/Stefanik thing yesterday where they tried to abuse points of order, and recognition to create Fox News worthy clips and Schiff was not having any of it gaveling like a mofo.
posted by mikelieman at 7:38 AM on November 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


The entire Holmes testimony is great. It conveys how diplomacy is supposed to work (slow, methodical, information is shared) while showing how the Giuliani/Sondland back-channel completely messed up the flow.
posted by Wulfhere at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


We are not in a world in which facts matter.

The actual attempts at defense of Trump are painfully shoddy. The aid came through! Because the blackmail was exposed. Yovanovich never saw a crime! Because she was removed so that she wouldn't.. It's all hearsay! Firsthand witnesses are either in hiding or ordered not to testify by Trump himself.. Ukraine, not Russia, did the meddling! Ukraine leaders didn't want Trump as POTUS... Just like every other non-Putin, non-insane leader didn't.

But the Mirror Universe Media ecosystem ensures that if the GOP expends even token energy towards blackwhite denialism and victimhood and projection, a third of America will believe it on faith. And the mainstream media ensures that another third won't care enough to investigate further.
posted by delfin at 7:53 AM on November 16, 2019 [15 favorites]


This pearl-clutching/"we're the victims" ties directly into the Jordan/Stefanik thing yesterday where they tried to abuse points of order, and recognition to create Fox News worthy clips and Schiff was not having any of it gaveling like a mofo.
But remember at Thanksgiving to take slow time to explain to your uncle that both Stefanik and Jordan got plenty time later, as planned.
Yesterday I was at a dinner with far-left but not paying attention people, and even while I agreed with their basic opinions it was stunning how little they understood about what is actually happing. Which is why those stunts work. My friends think they would never fall for stunts like those of Jordan and Stefanik yesterday, because they are suspicious of the right. But they do fall for them, because they don't pay attention and because they are equally suspicious of centrist Democrats (which is also fair enough). And to be honest, I don't feel every citizen should hang around in the MeFi politics threads several hours a day.
posted by mumimor at 8:21 AM on November 16, 2019 [11 favorites]


This long Washington Post article from this morning is a good, clear recap of the major facts so far. Useful if you know someone who hasn't been following the story closely and wants to catch up, or for anyone who could use help tracking all the different participants and their roles.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:29 AM on November 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


(I am not sure if this link will work.) This WaPo email newsletter The 5-minute Fix is a special weekend edition day-by-day layout of the past week of impeachment. It's been a crazy week.
posted by carsonb at 8:40 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


anecdatum:

last weekend a very astute and reasonably engaged friend of mine stated "if the president can articulate a legitimate interest in hunter then it doesn't matter whether it would hurt joe or not. the president as a matter of law could demand investigation," and shortly thereafter offered some "but clinton" bullshit with no indication of shame. i was not very kind to him.

on tuesday he asked "did the arms really ship AFTER the whistleblower complaint?" and on wednesday he called me up after the kent/taylor testimony and said that the fact that there was copious aid delivered in 2017, 2018, continuing the standard policy of aid, but that corruption did not become a reason to delay/withhold aid until biden was running for president this year revealed to him that the president's interest in corruption or hunter could not be legitimate.

so it it working. a little bit. on a perhaps very small set of terribly reasonable people. or maybe just that one person i know.

separately, it remains baffling to me that that class of people obviously sitting in front of c-span programming waiting for a chance to call in to the partisan rant line at the break can remain so ill-informed.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:51 AM on November 16, 2019 [15 favorites]


POLITICO Playbook: Why Gordon Sondland’s testimony matters
THE LATE-DAY TESTIMONY yesterday from DAVID HOLMES, an official in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, that he, too, heard President DONALD TRUMP quiz GORDON SONDLAND about investigations into the Bidens is significant. [...] BUT WE DID A ROUND OF CALLS last night to Republicans on Intel and other committees involved in impeachment, and they made this point: unless someone heard the president say ‘do not give up aid until this investigation is announced,’ this is an interesting detail, but not incriminating for Trump. Of course, this is a big shift in position for Republicans, who first said that Trump never asked for an investigation of the Bidens, and now say they need to have the president saying the quid pro quo aloud. Democrats see this as proof positive of the scheme they are trying to prove -- the firsthand information that both sides have been in search of. This illustrates the important chasm between the two parties as the impeachment process churns on.

THAT ALL SAID … These facts remain: Republicans have not been able to change the arc of the story Democrats are building. They’ve been able to muddy the waters, a bit, but the facts remain: the president was focused on an investigation into the Bidens, the aid was withheld and the president’s personal lawyer was running around, trying to dismantle the career of the ambassador to Ukraine, smearing her publicly and forcing her to return to Washington before the appointed time.

THIS ALL MAKES Sondland’s testimony some of the most important moments in the Trump presidency. THE PLAY FROM REPUBLICANS will be to make Sondland out to be a political hack who wanted to gain the president’s favor. A longtime political donor, who would do anything to be liked. [...]

HAPPENING TODAY … It’s eerily quiet in the Capitol today with just a few reporters and cameramen and photographers on duty, our own Andrew Desiderio reports. MARK SANDY, a longtime career White House Office of Budget and Management, arrived in the Capitol this morning for his deposition.

-- ANDREW DESIDERIO: “Mark Sandy’s closed-door appearance alone was a breakthrough for Democrats, who have struggled to obtain testimony about what other officials have described as an order by the president to withhold the U.S. military assistance meant for Ukraine. [...]"
posted by katra at 8:55 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Fact check: A list of 45 ways Trump has been dishonest about Ukraine and impeachment
posted by adamvasco at 9:17 AM on November 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


Trump personally kept pressure on Ukraine, says impeachment inquiry witness (Guardian)
David Holmes, diplomat at the US embassy in Kiev, says Trump did not ‘give a shit’ about Ukraine and only cared about what would benefit him politically
The Trump-Sondland phone call was first revealed on Wednesday by Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Kyiv, who told investigators Holmes had informed him about it. The significance of the Holmes testimony is that it proves Trump was personally directing the pressure being exerted on Zelenskiy, and that Sondland was reporting to him on a daily basis. After Sondland amended his own testimony to admit that military aid to Ukraine was being made conditional on the specific investigations, Trump had sought to distance himself, claiming “I hardly know the gentleman”.
How a CIA analyst, alarmed by Trump’s shadow foreign policy, triggered an impeachment inquiry (WaPo)
[at a gathering of world leaders on Sept. 1 in Warsaw] The Ukrainians were flummoxed by Pence’s evasion. “You’re the only country providing us military assistance,” one of Zelensky’s aides told him. “You’re punishing us.”

Sondland, who had also traveled to Poland, used a side conversation in a hotel with one of Zelensky’s advisers to fill in the blanks. He laid out the transaction in the starkest terms to date: To get the funding and a White House meeting, Zelensky had to commit publicly to investigating Burisma in an interview with CNN that would be seen in the United States.
posted by katra at 9:44 AM on November 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


Celebrity TV show president twists arm of celebrity TV show president to make a scripted TV show or else no money to fight off intruders. Smoking gun at 11.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 AM on November 16, 2019 [7 favorites]


Zelensky planned to announce Trump’s ‘quo’ on my show. Here’s what happened. (Fareed Zakaria, WaPo Opinion)
On Sept. 13, I met with Zelensky in Kyiv, on the sidelines of the conference. [...] It’s a testament to Zelensky’s skill that he did not let on in any way the immense pressure he was under. As we now know, for months the Trump White House had been mounting an intense campaign to force him to publicly announce the election-related investigations. He had tried to resist and put them off in various ways, but ultimately decided he would have to give in, according to the Times. His team apparently concluded that since he was planning an interview with me anyway, that would be the forum in which he would make the announcement, though neither he nor any of his team ever gave us any inkling that this was their plan. However, after my meeting with him in Kyiv, my team began to discuss potential logistics of the interview with his team — time and place. [...]

Imagine Zelensky’s dilemma. By the time I met with him in Kyiv, he knew the aid had been released, but the backstory had not yet broken into public view. Ukrainian officials I spoke to about the release of the aid were delighted but a little surprised and unsure as to what had happened. Zelensky and his team were probably trying to figure out whether they should still do the interview.

A few days later, on Sept. 18 and 19, The Post broke the story wide open. The interview was called off. We are, of course, still trying to get it.
posted by katra at 10:09 AM on November 16, 2019 [14 favorites]


Trump sees foreign aid not as a tool we use to help our allies and advance our interests, but as a way that countries take advantage of us and use us and laugh at us. I'm not surprised that he finds the idea of just disbursing it without getting some sort of kickback intolerable, and it would be sweet indeed if this were to be his undoing. Petard, hoisted, all that.
posted by thelonius at 10:12 AM on November 16, 2019 [27 favorites]


She added, "Of course, presidents appoint ambassadors, but people don't insult people, especially when they're giving testimony before the Congress of the United States. I think even his most ardent supporters have to honestly admit this is the wrong thing for the president to do."

I’m flabbergasted, disturbed, and scared that this is even a thought from a leading Democrat in 2019. I mean, come on! Was Bush’s bully pulpit a freaking illusion?

They're fucking going to stay the course
posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:41 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


people don't insult people

An accurate observation of america in 2019
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Anyway, Jay Leno was there"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:00 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking Sondland will either absent himself or he will take the Fifth.
posted by rhizome at 11:12 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’m imagining Sondland’s next round of testimony in full existential meltdown. Just laughing as he eats wings and drinks a yard long margarita, stopping every once in a while to ask, “I’m so fucked, right? Like totally fucked?”, and then pausing to softly cry into his hot sauce.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:49 AM on November 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


“I paid a million dollars for this. This is a million dollar margarita of sadness, and it’s not even that good. I want another one.”
posted by schadenfrau at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2019 [18 favorites]


“I’m so fucked, right? Like totally fucked?”, and then pausing to softly cry into his hot sauce.

In the voice of Greg Hirsch/Roy. Also,

"I'm like, not in a good place right now?"
posted by ishmael at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Of course, presidents appoint ambassadors, but people don't insult people, especially when they're giving testimony before the Congress of the United States.

One of the most powerful points of Yovanovich's testimony was when she said:

"What I'd like to say is, while I obviously don't dispute that the President has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation ... falsely?"

She is conceding the Republican point that Trump can fire an ambassador. All Trump has to do is send a message to recall her -- done. But instead Giuliani and Trump insulted and lied and smeared her reputation for months before. Trump even trashed talked this distinguished member of the US diplomatic service directly to a foreign world leader in his July phone call. And then again live while she testified before congress. All completely unnecessary.

It's the deliberate and unnecessary cruelty that is the hallmark of the Trump administration. He isn't satisfied with just power over someone's life or career. He has to hurt them cruelly, make them suffer, as well. It's a sickness.
posted by JackFlash at