ODNI Whistleblower Complaint: Shoes Dropping All Over the Place [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Check the byline. Updates are anticipated and will appear within the timeline or at the bottom of the text. /~Rayne]

In an effort to guess at the likely subject of a whistleblower complaint, the emptywheel community started a crowdsourced timeline of events surrounding the complaint received by the Intelligence Community Office of Inspector General on August 12.

As noted in the timeline, the House Intelligence Committee subpoena issued last Friday required the acting Director of National Intelligence (ADNI) Joseph Maguire to report to Congress about the complaint by Tuesday, September 17; failure to comply would require an appearance before Congress on Thursday, September 19. Maguire did not report as expected.

However dates for the ADNI to testify before the House have now been arranged:

. . .

[emphasis mine]

The Washington Post reported more details Wednesday evening about the whistleblower complaint:

Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say

One bit stood out for me in the lede:

The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Emphasis mine. Two former officials.

Speculation about the whistleblower’s identity is rampant across social media. Some suggest Fiona Hill, former Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, as the whistleblower; her planned departure in August was announced June 18. Others suggest an as-yet unnamed low-level analyst.

Marcy tweeted earlier,

It’s not outside the realm of possibility. Bolton seems in a mood to burn it all down, ‘shanking’ POTUS during a Trumpists-dense luncheon on Wednesday. But given the “two former U.S. officials” and former DNI Dan Coats interruption of a meeting to ask his deputy Sue Gordon to resign, I wonder if both Coats and Gordon resigned so they would be able to testify before Congress while escaping the appearance of being compromised by unethical or unlawful acts?

Important points for consideration:

  • What constitutes an “urgent concern” validated by the Intelligence Community Inspector General as credible?
  • What constitutes an unlawful act that would compel a whistleblower to file a complaint if the president can declassify information at will?
  • What kind of unlawful act characterized as an “urgent concern” could occur as a “promise” in communications with a foreign leader?
  • How does the existing timeline frame this “promise”?
  • Who is the “higher authority” who ordered the ADNI not to turn over the whistleblower complaint to the HPSCI, obstructing investigatory oversight?

Promising to violate or ignore violation of bipartisan sanctions against Russia would be unlawful, but would this be an “urgent concern”?

Was there instead an unlawful act with regard to the doxxing of the exfiltrated Russian asset?

Or was there a promise related to surveillance of North Korea?

Did the tensions between the U.S. and Iran spawn an unlawful promise?

There are probably dozens more scenarios that might fit. They may be related to items we didn’t add to the crowdsourced timeline, like these items directly related to North Korea:

28-FEB-2019 — Trump cut short the two-day summit with North Korea for no clear reason.

11-JUN-2019 — Trump received a “beautiful letter” from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

09-AUG-2019 — Trump received another “very beautiful letter” from Kim.

This one related to Iran:

03-SEP-2019New sanctions were placed on Iran after Trump administration claimed it was developing ballistic missile technology using its communications satellite program as cover.

And these related to Russia:

26-JUN-2019 — Trump told reporters that his anticipated discussion with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Japan was “none of your business.”

31-JUL-2019 — Trump and Putin talked over the phone about Siberian wildfires and trade.

29-AUG-2019 — Trump’s trip to Poland canceled, ostensibly to monitor Hurricane Dorian though he ended up playing golf instead at his N. Virginia course. Was he avoiding conflict over increased Russian troop presence at the administrative border between Russian-occupied South Ossetia and Georgia? (Georgia has been pursuing NATO membership but is not yet a member state.)

Time will tell what other events were needed to pick out the narrative behind the complaint. One more data point may flesh out the nature of the challenge:

Is the complaint about a Trump-Russia issue alone, or does it also include a promise related to one of the other countries in the timeline — like North Korea or Iran?

Share your thoughts in comments with supporting content.

UPDATE — 19-SEP-2019 9:23 A.M. —

The ADNI should be in a closed door session with the House Intelligence Committee at this time.

Important to note that the IC IG is a Trump appointee — Michael Atkinson. He’s responsible for the determination that the unidentified whistleblower’s complaint was credible and an “urgent concern.”

ADNI broke the law as Amee Vanderpool noted here because the complaint was deemed credible:

Very, very odd how CNBC’s website news crawl makes zero mention of this unfolding story even though an NBC story confirmed WaPo’s report last night.

UPDATE — 19-SEP-2019 8:20 P.M. —

This is like a really cheap game of Clue. It wasn’t Professor Plum in the Library with a Lead Pipe.

It was Trump about Ukraine with a phone call to Zelensky, according to the latest report by WaPo.

(Although Trump does look like a crappy version of Colonel Mustard.)

Explains why the suggestions the matter was part of an ongoing investigation; the House was already investigating whether Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani were trying to persuade President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to help dig up dirt on Joe Biden to help Trump’s 2020 campaign.

Now we need to know if the $250M aid to Ukraine was dependent on this matter, as well as a meeting later this month between Trump and Zelensky — and if Vladimir Putin had been involved in this exchange in any way.

Waiting for the next version of  “No Collusion!” tweets from Team Trump.

May explain why Rudy had been radio silent for three days on Twitter though he’s resumed his brand of trash talking in the last hour.

325 replies
    • mtngoat says:

      I don’t know if this will make it in, I can’t figure out how to register to login.
      (I guess I made it!)
      But I wanted to remind that around the end of August there were open overtures from Russia to place mediator in Afghanistan:

      I thought it might be pertinent considering all I’m sure the Don owes his Russian bros, and how the lure of a major accomplishment like ‘bringing peace to war-torn Afghanistan’ would look on his bio (like the kabuki witnessed in NK).
      As well, I remember fondly the chatter during the Bush/Cheney epoch about how Russia would love to be able to place a pipeline there:

      [#ODNItimeline /Pardon my bookmark. ~Rayne]

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks for this. Might be related to the weirdly underreported effort Russia made to insist they were represented when the U.S. signed an agreement with Afghanistan.

    • Webshredder says:

      Do you suppose trump got caught trying to enlist a foreign government to help him influence or rig the 2020 presidential election? Sound familiar?

      • Americana says:

        It could easily have something to do w/the 2020 election because Trump seems exceedingly nervous about his chances despite all his bravado. If the story turns out to be that Trump asked the Ukrainian gov’t to look into Hunter Biden’s business links w/Ukraine then it might explain why Trump was sort of forthcoming in his very lengthy interview w/George Stephanopoulos about being willing to accept dirt from a foreign country for the 2020 campaign. Their 30 hours of interviewing was broadcast June 16. The fact Trump was a bit squirrely over that question from George Stephanopoulos about whether he’d accept help from a foreign gov’t might be attributable to the fact Trump had already had the conversation w/the Ukrainian gov’t about investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings there.


    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for pointing that out — that was a HUGE cut-and-paste error, clipped and pasted wrong person date from another draft I was working on. I make far too many errors when writing after midnight, turn into little furry monsters as if I’d given water to mogwai.

  1. Eureka says:

    Thank you, Rayne– once again, there is much to consider here, and there are too many entangled dictators to guess whether a promise to one was for another’s benefit, etc.

    Preliminary thoughts:

    ●Last week I had noticed a Trump tweet that stood out for what seemed like an extraneous “Russia Russia Russia” complaint like it was a current issue (keyword “am”), when nothing was in the regular press (but for the Flynn hearing that week). It also could be nothing, and merely attributable to his demented schtick (but I did then think that it came from sources of Russia preoccupation/talk NOT in the press; perhaps behind the scenes):

    812am Eastern on September 11th:

    Donald J. Trump: “….This is a phony suppression poll, meant to build up their Democrat partners. I haven’t even started campaigning yet, and am constantly fighting Fake News like Russia, Russia, Russia. Look at North Carolina last night. Dan Bishop, down big in the Polls, WINS. Easier than 2016!”

    ●Something about Sue Gordon’s resignation note– “You should have your team” from the handwritten portion– reminded me of this line in James Mattis’ resignation letter:

    Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.

    READ: James Mattis’ resignation letter


    I think that the urgent concern, plus Gordon’s, Coats’, and Mattis’ resignations well from a similar cause, namely Trump sacrificing our nation’s security, interests, and allies to Putin.

    [I sense that the proximate straw with Bolton was the Iran sanctions- wafflings in the Oval on Monday the 9th with Trump and Mnuchin that I linked on the crowdsource page (all of which could tie back to Putin as well). But maybe things are escalating such that he could see himself as in with this crowd.]

    From the Lawfare article linked by Bob in PDX on the crowdsource page, it seems like Trump would have to have promised an act (including revealing info) that would directly compromise ongoing nat sec operations.

    • Eureka says:

      * rephrase/clarify 1st sentence: there are so many entangled dictators that it drastically increases the number of potential guesses as to who received the promise, what the promise was, and who was the beneficiary, etc—

      Also not sure if this from WaPo is a tell:

      Revealing how the United States obtained sensitive information could “compromise intelligence means and methods and potentially the lives of sources,” said Joel Brenner, former inspector general for the National Security Agency.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Could be a bread crumb telling the public what the leak involves. But sources and methods could be sanitized while the topic of the data could be revealed. In any case, informing a congressional intelligence committee is not informing the public.

    • Eureka says:

      As to the exfiltrated asset, I thought the significance of that was the release of that info on the 9th, possibly signaling a pissed-off intel community saying, ~”yeah, and look at what (else) happened because of him and his relationship with Putin.”

      (ETA: but I haven’t heard any WH complaints about “leaks” on this news item, unless I missed it. If true, that begets further questions as to the wildebeast’s quietude.)

      If the “promise” was related to the asset, maybe it was about extradition.

      [Prior to today’s news, I had speculated (that if the 9th news was related) that the urgent concern was something parallel but equally as bad as why they had to exfiltrate. Like maybe Trump had ratted out someone else.]

      • Eureka says:


        *or leaked to buffer something about the forthcoming IC IG report, tho more likely either way stirred up because of the “investigation” (which is kind of how I viewed the later Yahoo piece, but writ large: decades of sore history from multiple ‘sides’ within IC possibly stirred up by everything going on with the investigation of the investigation, when the dealing-with-Russia problems go deeper.

        ‘kay-bye- goodnight!

      • Vicks says:

        The list of potential promises Trump could have made to a foreign leader that would NOT be in the best interest of our country is so long perhaps it’s best to start out with would those that could tie together some of the easy things that are already out there.
        Trump has publicly empathized with dictator Kim about his dislike of American spies.
        Putin REALLY doesn’t like spies and Trump knows the details of one that has caused both of them quite a bit of trouble.
        There was a phone call and then a whistle blower complaint about the call.
        The “deadline” for action on the complaint passed.
        There was a leak to the media that outed this spy and included the importance of his/her work to the world that resulted in getting the spy and his family whisked away to safety.
        IF Trump promised Putin to look the other way, IF a whistleblower came forward with this information, IF no action was taken, the handful of people that knew the spy was in danger (and were concerned) COULD have decided that outing this spy was a card they COULD play.
        Support for Ukraine that wasn’t happening until suddenly it was?
        Nuclear accidents?
        “Safe country” status for countries that aren’t safe?
        Firing Bolton?
        How the hell did we get here?

  2. d4v1d says:

    One probably needs to look for the grift vapor trail, ‘follow the money’ as they say. And by money, I mean to Trump personally. He isn’t selling out national security to Putin, Kim, or Bin al-Somebody in the middle east dfor political reasons – he’s running a protection racket. The government is, in his mind, the family business and the deposits are made to his hidden enterprises. ‘Nice little country you have there.’ So follow the money….

    • BobCon says:

      I think this is a valid path to follow, and it says to me that it’s possible this is separate from the usual suspects. It might, for example, involve some idiotic scheme involving arms to some former Soviet state in exchange for a Trump tower in 2021. It could of course be a big deal with Putin, but I can’t rule out more petty grift.

      I think it’s also a possible way to limit the universe of whistleblowers. A whistleblower is probably cutting themselves off the GOP gravy train. This may eliminate Bolton from the list of suspects, since he’s been eager to feed from the trough.

      I suppose it’s possible that some big donor is promising to bankroll the whistleblower through any legal issues and mainstream GOP financial exile — supposedly the Mercers are saying nice things about Bolton after his firing — but I will believe there is a real break when I see real money being spent.

  3. mvario says:

    Pure speculation. My vote for whistle-blower is a translator. Trump would likely need one. My first guess would be a promise to Netanyahu to carry out some action to bolster his election.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    Example number #45 of bad juju.

    Comment: The complaint was filed on August 12th and today is September 19th.
    Just imagine what we don’t know, and what is transpiring behind the green door.
    Time is of the essence and Nancy is dithering.
    Impeach, impeach, impeach.

    Thank you WAPO for outfoxing the NYT?

  5. joel fisher says:

    I hope I’m wrong and this thing becomes the thread that finally unravels the Trump criminal empire, but when I read that it was a “promise” that Trump made, my expectations and, very slight, fears when down. Trump, if he has done nothing else, has brought the value of, and expectations regarding, promises down to absolute zero. International leaders, friends and scum—Trump’s favorite kind—read the papers, certainly are unimpressed by a Trump “promise”, and are unlikely to do act on it. Thus, one can’t expect anything more than an interesting contest between Trump and Congress (I think the intelligence community is with Congress on this). The whistleblower will eventually be found out, will testify, and the “promise” will be some typical, vile lie, characteristic of Trump. I hope it’s something that will evolve into a campaign issue, but my expectations are low. His base will be no more moved than they have ever been and, as long as he keeps this promise: “I will advance the cause of white people”, they will continue their disgusting worship undisturbed.

    • Areader2019 says:

      Unfortunately, I agree.

      Unless it is specifically a call to Putin saying ‘hack the vote totals in Ohio and I will lift sanctions in my second term’ it will be minimized and disregarded. Just more ‘Trump changing the norms’ background buzz.

      • joel fisher says:

        I wish I were as idealistic as you; to think that there actually was something Trump could do which would pry his base away from him. Trump worship is not going away due to a little (or a lot of) treason, bribery, incompetence, lying (let’s all have a good laugh here), perjury, and other items on a list too long to enumerate. Unfortunately for the country, I think this is not the case.

    • William Bennett says:

      > The whistleblower will eventually be found out, will testify, and the “promise” will be some typical, vile lie, characteristic of Trump.

      One of the things the Trump Teflon has been made of is kind of Roveian Jiu Jitsu. This is the technique of getting their own anonymous sources out ahead of the story and have them say something that actually inflates the expectations of something dramatic while holding in reserve something that punctures the heightened expectations. The latter comes out, the puncture deflates the inflated version, and this immunizes them against the whole story—they are able to treat the puncture as a vindication, even though it isn’t. I am VERY wary of these anonymous sources who later turn out to be Trump insiders. The big news orgs seem perfectly happy to keep playing Charlie Brown to this Lucy football—they don’t seem to care that they’re getting played as long as they get the frisson of insiderism.

      That said, whatever the original story may be, it seems like it would have to be something quite dramatic for someone to risk the potential backlash that’s going to be coming at them. GOP leaders are vindictive as a class (viz., Valerie Plame) and the Trumpublicans have that dialed to 11. The whistleblower has to know he/she is strapped into a chair in front of a giant fan with a huge pile of shit about to be fed into it. You don’t put yourself in that position for something run of the mill, even by the standards the Orange Pantload has raised to the new normal.

      • joel fisher says:

        I continue to think that there’s less of a story here than people seem to think. It’s hard to imagine a promise Trump could have made to a foreign leader–or anyone else, for that matter–that he would not renege on. The latest seems to be getting the Ukrainians to help him with the 2020 election. Didn’t seem to move the needle much when the Russkies did it in 2016. Certainly the loathsome horde of droolers that makes up Trump’s base do not care about election meddling.

        • Americana says:

          Trump’s base might not care about election meddling but Trump surely cares! If Trump did reach out to Ukraine to get dirt on Hunter Biden then not only is Trump playing the same dirty card game he played in 2016, he’s forcing the Republicans to back him on that same sleazy behavior again in 2020.

          I hope the rest of the details of this whistleblower complaint come out soon enough to make a difference in the public’s mindset. I was shocked by Phil Mudd saying he was furious the whistleblower went to the IC’s IG. Mudd didn’t approve of the intel guys snitching on Trump but what other options are there? Mudd didn’t seem to provide any reasonable alternative for conveying the risk of this quid pro quo gaffe by Trump.

    • Mooser says:

      “will be some typical, vile lie, characteristic of Trump.”
      When it’s all out in the open, the most disgusting thing will be how little Trump is willing to sell out the US for.

  6. Frank Probst says:

    I’m not convinced that this is really a conflict between the IC and Congress. I think it’s more likely a conflict between the IC and Trump’s appointees. I think the IC has info about Trump that is currently only “officially” known by a handful of people, and they REALLY want that info made public. But at the same time, they don’t want to deal with an official leak investigation. So instead, you’ve got a “whistleblower” who goes to the IC IG, and then the IC IG reports the complaint to the ADNI using language that makes the ADNI required by law to report the information to Congress. When the ADNI doesn’t report it to Congress, as is legally mandated, the IC IG notifies Congress that a complaint exists, but doesn’t disclose the contents of the complaint. Schiff responds as expected, and the Administration starts playing subpoena-dodgeball. The number of people who have knowledge of the information is expanding, making an official leak investigation less likely to succeed, but it’s still small enough that the people who know it aren’t taking any chances, so now we have “two former U.S. officials” (which is about as vague as you can get in terms of your sourcing) saying that the information is about Trump and another world leader (which, again, seems almost comically vague, because if the two sources are really in the know, then they know who the other world leader is).

      • Frank Probst says:

        Regardless of who is taking the role of the whistleblower (and SOMEONE had to put their name on the initial IC IG complaint), even if this really is a single person acting alone, they still have the potential to come forward at any time.

          • Peterr says:

            I don’t know about that. If the whistleblower law is strong, then it is possible that the IG IC kept the identity secret even from the ADNI, saying only “a person in a position to know about this information” filed the complaint. If only the IG knows the identity, then I’d say it is much less likely that Trump & Co know who it is. OTOH, if the IG IC includes the identity of the whistleblower in the report to the ADNI, then I think you are right that Trump & Co know who it is.

            In Schiff’s letters back and forth with the ADNI, he stressed that the ADNI has a responsibility to ensure that there is no retaliation against the whistleblower. This either means that the ADNI has been given the identity and Schiff is warning the ADNI to be very careful about disclosing it, or that the ADNI should pass that warning back to the IG IC, so that the whistleblower knows to report any retaliation.

            Given that the whistleblower appears to have been meticulous about following procedures, I’d say they already know they are supposed to be protected. Should there be any retaliation, they might decide to go right to Schiff with evidence of such and bypass the IG entirely — thus escalating this mess further.

            The people around Trump likely understand that going after the whistleblower in any fashion would probably blow up in their face in the worst way possible. Trump, OTOH, has such hatred for anyone who (a) says anything bad about him and (b) leaks anything to anyone that he might see red and order some kind of retaliation anyway.

            See his repeated attempts to get Sessions to un-recuse and fire Comey, despite all kinds of warnings to the contrary by various close advisors.

            • William Bennett says:

              To repeat in a more concise way what I said upthread, it’s hard to think of any scenario in which some person or persons would go to this degree of trouble and maneuvering, with this high a potential for a vicious, life-altering backlash, over something that is less than earth-shaking. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, but none of this—and certainly not the scenario you describe—seems like just the ordinary gears of procedure grinding along after being kicked in motion by something routine by Trump standards. I mean, we already have him openly giving highly sensitive intel to Russians in the Oval Office with no consequences (for him). That sets a pretty high baseline for what kind of thing it has to be before it’s worth the risk of whistleblowing.

              • Kai-Lee says:

                It’s got to be Coats and Gordon. Both would have little to lose, and probably enough moral fiber left, to take a stand and bring their grave concerns forward. Would be nice to think that Wray is the 3rd official, but that’s probably asking too much. Gawd knows what they’re doing but listening, waiting and watching as crimes are committed every week by the administration and the whole world order put asunder. Just when will this “counterintelligence” operation stop and the indictments begin?

                As of today, for anyone who wasn’t persuaded before, the DOJ and its OLC are completely in the bag for Trump. So all of the OLC opinions with respect to the Mueller report (not necessarily the horrendous memo of yore) or anything else should be heavily scrutinized.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The president has wide discretion in foreign policy: it is perhaps his least reviewable power. A legit whistleblower complaint involving the exercise of such power – which is what the IC IG determined it was – would have to involve material illegal acts, completed or attempted. Impeachable acts. Acts threatening national security.

    The Acting DNI says he cannot give Congress the info because the person involved is “beyond his jurisdiction.” The statutory language admits no excuse, and this one is more laughable than the non-existent privilege the White House usually opts for. The ADNI’s jurisdiction over the person about whose acts it has information is irrelevant. He and the WH are throwing spaghetti at the wall, desperately hoping some of it sticks.

    Just following orders is no excuse either: by refusing to comply with a valid congressional demand based on clear statutory authority, the Acting DNI is breaking the law. And he is participating in a conspiracy to break the law. Good luck with that presidential pardon, bud.

    • Robin Harper says:

      This is probably a stupid idea/question…but what if Coates and/or Gordon is/are the whistleblower(s)? Since they’ve resigned, wouldn’t they be “beyond his jurisdiction”?

      That’s just the thought that bounced into my head, given the timeline and some of the details of the entire thing.

      The whistleblower, whoever he/she is, certainly knows that the coming days/weeks are going to be hell on earth for him/her, especially if Trump and his minions know who the whistleblower is. So I agree with the idea that this has to go beyond the normal ‘law breaking’ that Trump does on a daily basis.

      • lauri Hamilton says:

        I agree. Coates or Gordon are high on my list of possible whistleblowers. Especially in the way they left. Coates informing Gordon that she too must resign. It just all seemed in such a rush.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree with the common twtr comment that the kerfluffle here is likely to be about something big, and it’s more than simply embarrassing for the president. He has not said a word about it on twtr.

    • BobCon says:

      I agree that it’s big, but I’m trying to be flexible in my assumptions of what that means.

      Trump’s weird and he’s a micromanager when it comes to his obsessions. It’s possible those things lead to some nutball scheme that makes Iran-Contra look straightforward.

      Of course, he’s also careless, so it’s possible it’s something serious but stupid — agreeing to reveal top secret satellite imagery in exchange for 10,000 fake twitter followers.

      Which is not to say it isn’t some straightforward quid pro quo to repeat the 2016 election scheme or trade US agents for a development deal. Just that the potential for something oddball is on the table.

    • pjb says:

      I guess that would mean it is beyond “merely” exposing classified materials to a hostile foreign government, since that’s within the purview of the President to do? Would it have to be something illegal, similar to an Iran-Contra type violation of the Boland Amendment? Would burning the spy we extracted make the cut?

  9. orionATL says:

    i’m in for trump taking some action which would seriously compromise the ability of our national security bureaucracy to function, i.e., this is nat sec v the president

    – revealing an american source or network in another country, aka, one of our spies over there somewhere

    – revealing information about intelligence gathering devices, e.g., the recent super-sharp photo, or techniques

    – making promises or providing information to a foreign nation that damages the capabilities of one or several of the intelligence agencies, e.g., nsa, via, nrl, fbi.

    • orionATL says:

      or to say the same thing a bit differently, this is likely not a challenge to the president’s policy-making authority. this is a challenge to his (past cavalier) treatment of national security information and personnel.

    • JVO says:

      OK, I’ll ask the obvious question you begged for in your post, why are you in for “seriously compromis[ing] the ability of our national security bureaucracy to function.”?

      Please help me understand any good reason to want to damage the USA?

      • orionATL says:

        you completely misunderstood, at best. next time do a full, not a selective, quote of what i said and put it in q. marks.

        i am trying to rule things out in this guessing game of what is the whblwr complaint likely to be about.

        i say not likely to be about something it will be conceeded the president has acceptable presidential authority to do.

        I say more likely to be something that compromises or compromised the normal work of the nat sec bureaucracy, like iding an individual spy, showing photographic capability, or
        revealing a nat sec report or conclusion.

        just sorting out possibilities, that’s all; nothing mysterious or nefarious.

  10. Report Counselor says:

    There seems to be some consistency around leaks around Trumps disdain for spying. I think this is the most telling statement from a leak on 9/10 that dovetails into related issues during this time frame.

    “In addition to his fear such foreign intelligence sources will damage his relationship with foreign leaders, Trump has expressed doubts about the credibility of the information they provide. Another former senior intelligence official told CNN that Trump “believes they’re people who are selling out their country.”


    If you combine this with statement about recruiting Kim Jun half-brother as wrong and his paranoia considering the counter intelligence against him. The leak of the Russian spy having to be extracted by intelligence makes sense to happen now if is part of a larger problem that is included with the whistle blower report. I suspect that Trump promised Putin that he would remove/find what assets are being used to spy on Russia and remove them. I’m not sure if that would clear the bar of legality with the IG unless it was implied that he would provide this intel to Russia.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Regarding Trump’s fears about his own spies, part of that I can write down to Trump’s narcissism. It’s always about him. Spying on a foreign despot is the same as spying on the American one. It is also consistent with Trump protecting Putin: Russia has been a prime target for American spies since the 1930s.

      I regard it as ominous that Trump wanted a list of America’s top spies. For security and deniability reasons, a president would never normally ask for such vulnerable information.

      Compiling such a list in one place, in plain English, and delivering it to this chaotic president’s White House is a security nightmare I would expect to see in a Tom Cruise movie.

      Also ominous is that Trump delegated unprecedented intelligence oversight and de-classification authority to his Attorney General. Bill Barr being his Roy Cohn, his most reliable protector and enforcer, it seems he hides nothing from him.

    • Rita says:

      I thought about the doxxing of the mole as well. Fits the timeline. But the question then becomes what did Trump get in return?

      I don’t see Trump making promises gratuitously.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        By all appearances, most of Trump’s promises are gratuitous. A promise he follows through on would be an exception worth paying attention to.

        • NorskieFlamethrower says:

          “…most of Trump’s promises are gratuitous.”

          Except to those who have a gun to his head and a vice grip locked on his balls. (Small vice grip).

          • P J Evans says:

            Needle-nosed vise-grip or one that’s got a wider business end? (Doesn’t have to be small – even the big ones can get really tight.)

  11. Kenneth Ashford says:

    Regarding the timeline, I’ve been looking at the polls. In the last two weeks in July, Trump was taking a deep dive. At least five polls came out which showed his approval rating underwater in double digits. In fact, on July 31, the day he and Putin talked, Reuters came out with a poll showing his approval rating underwater at negative 18 — his lowest approval rating of *any* poll in many months.

    With talk of Election 2020 gearing up, is it unreasonable to think that Trump was paying closer than ever attention to polls, and panicked, and reached out to the guy who helped him before? While I doubt he would say anything explicit (he had to know the call was monitored), is it possible that Trump said something like, “I promise I do something about sanctions but I have to win the election first”….?

  12. 200Toros says:

    trump is tweeting about it now: “anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump often jokes about the most serious things, and often means the opposite of what he says. The comment also seems like him trying unsuccessfully to stay ahead of an ill wind that does not bode well for him.

      Trump has little opsec. He uses an unknown number of phones, often insecure and not his own (he saw that in the Bourne Ultimatum), to make who knows what calls. His violations of the PRA are vastly worse than BushCheney’s.

      What he is usually keen about, though, is protecting his comms with Russia. That predates his presidency.

  13. OldTulsaDude says:

    This thought may be such wild fantasy as to be ludicrous but I have been asking myself who profits the most from higher oil prices and the answer is always Russia. Is there any chance that the raid on the Saudi oil is somehow connected to the whistleblower action?

  14. 200Toros says:

    Great post and comments. I am hopeful, but I’m having difficulty thinking of *anything* he could have done that the GOP would NOT be able to endorse fully. Handing over a US intelligence asset to Putin? “No problem, we found out he was a double-agent.” Swinging a business deal? “No problem, he’s a businessman, why shouldn’t he swing a deal? He never divested himself, so hey, he’s got to make a living.” A recording or video of trump saying something illegal/imprudent/unpatriotic/idiotic? He does that virtually every day. In Helsinki, on live television, trump openly and in very explicit terms sided with Putin against the entire IC and US. He has openly taken the side of our enemies, against the interests of the US. He wants to put the US military at the beck and call of MBS. He has publicly said he will welcome foreign assistance in the next election. He has openly and publicly sold us out time and again. Yet his cult and the GOP still back up anything he does. And if it’s a video/recording that does in fact look really damning – “No problem, it’s a deepfake. You can get the apps on the App Store. Fake News, move along…” I do so hope I am very wrong…

  15. Rita says:

    Odd events involving US-Russia after July 31st phone call:

    Doxxing of Russian spy
    Withholding of $770 million in Congressional authorized funds from Ukraine
    Russian buildup of troops along border of Ossetia
    Purported Russian involvement with Taliban-USA peace talks

  16. Mark says:

    Would be deeply ironic if there was a link to the alleged Israeli mobile phone spying devices found near the White House ….

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The IC IG apparently kept shtum in front of congressional intel committees today. I’m not aware he has any legal basis for that position, so when will the civil contempt proceedings issue?

    During a private meeting on Capitol Hill, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, told lawmakers he was unable to confirm or deny anything about the substance of the complaint, including whether it involved the president….


    • bmaz says:

      “Shtum”. Yer killing me. Yeah, no, there is no legal basis whatsoever.

      The contempt thing, as you know, is a conundrum. The Trump/Barr DOJ will do nothing but laugh at it. There is not yet (and it takes these dolts forever to generate one) even a civil case yet in which a court could be asked for punitive measures. And, obviously, anybody clacking about inherent contempt is a dope, because the mechanisms are not there in the least.

      And herein lies the fecklessness and stupidity of the House Democrats to date. Every iota of the current situation was known and identifiable when they took the Majority in the House in early January. Their actions since that point are, at best, tortured and learned helplessness. It is the only game they appear to have. And why I have been screaming about this, seemingly, forever.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        What? You can’t find good bagels in Phoenix?

        If only there were an established way for Congress to hold senior executive branch officials to account.

        • bmaz says:

          Sadly, the best bagels in Phoenix are nowhere near me. And, even then, nothing compared to NY. When it comes to bagels, our score is basically a bagel.

            • Eureka says:

              This deserves some prize for First Proper Use of ‘upstate’ on the Internet or in Print or Televised Media, climatology (and bad skiing) denoting the geography.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I keep my finger in the lakes.

              Obviously, I’m not someone who thinks “upstate” starts at Poughkeepsie.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            I made bagels once. First you boil them, then you bake them, IIRC. And, I must say, they were the worst bagels I ever had :-(

            • bmaz says:

              Mrs. bmaz bakes bread. Lots of it. Even has a solar oven so as to not heat up the house in the summer. No bagels yet though!

              There is a place called Einstein’s Bagels not far from home. Not bad, but nowhere near what you can find on most blocks in NYC.

              • Savage Librarian says:

                That solar oven sounds like a great investment. Back in the day, I used to make NY style cheesecake. Popular with most of my friends. But my favorite was poppyseed cake. These days I don’t do sugar or salt. Nor can I drink coffee or alcohol any more. Something about not having the enzymes to process them.. But it’s fun to think about the past. And it’s fun to hear from you!

                  • Savage Librarian says:

                    Not sure it is age so much as quirks in the endocrine system. Recently read about a young man who invented a tool and surgery involving a procedure to reduce the debilitating impact of a rare disorder of his adrenal gland. It did not cure him, but dramatically improved his quality of life. His mother died from the disorder after years of agony. Fortunately, I have been my own best advocate and I’m in pretty good shape. Thanks to the internet :-)

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Einstein’s are better bagels. Done properly, boiling the raw bagel before baking is essential. It’s what makes them chewy.

                On the other hand, when commercial bakeries make bread, they use batter, not dough, because it flows, and go from raw material to baked loaf in an hour and a half. Not the real thing.

                • Rayne says:

                  Nah. Commercial bread still takes closer to three hours to make. Typical sandwich bread dough resembles batter after the primary ingredients are mixed because it’s higher moisture than most home cooks’ recipes in part because the recipe needs less kneading. More kneading means more equipment and more maintenance.

                  The bagels’ flour is as important to making them chewy as the boiling step. A higher gluten content flour makes as much of a difference to the tooth resistance as lower protein soft red winter wheat does for the tenderness of Southern biscuits.

                  No surprise really that bmaz can’t get better bagels in AZ compared to NY — it has a lot to do with the flour used in that region. Bet the biscuits in AZ are much more tender than NY.

                  • Eureka says:

                    The flour issue is precisely why we’d stopped making them– upon a move to the south. Those were the days when you danced with the flour the local grocer brought ya’. Of course you can order anything from anywhere now.

                • P J Evans says:

                  My sis and I made bagels once – we ended up boiling them in the wok she had. Less than ideal, but they tasted okay.
                  (Try Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen for bagel recipes.)

      • Peterr says:

        Given how Schiff has repeatedly praised the IG for his work, I suspect there is at least a plausible legal basis for not answering, otherwise Schiff would have reamed him out just as much has he has done with the ADNI for failing to follow the law.

        Does anyone have a link to the whistleblower statute?

  18. Sandwichman says:

    I suspect that the vague “promise to a foreign leader” story is a red herring and the actual whistleblower complaint is something not quite so spectacular. When the actual complaint is finally revealed, it will be diminished by the sense of anticlimax.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Atkinson is a Trump appointee. He found that the complaint met the urgent and credible standard. He would have understood what it meant to conclude that “a serious or flagrant, problem, abuse, violation of the law or Executive order…relating to…an intelligence activity” had taken place. That broad language could include a lot of things, none of them inconsequential.

      The hoopla and the Acting DNI’s spurious reasons for not disclosing the complaint to the intel committees have all the earmarks of a defense of Trump, on orders from the White House.

      Trump claimed this morning the issue involves his use of a phone.

      That’s not a recipe for nothing to see here, move along.

      • Sandwichman says:

        “Trump claimed this morning the issue involves his use of a phone.”

        Actually, he DENIED that it had to do with his phone. But I can understand the presumption that a denial from Trump is virtually an admission.

        • Old Antarctic Explorer says:

          Could it be something as simple as promising to put something like WhatsApp on his phone for future secure communications? That assumes he doesn’t have one already.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I was incorrect that Trump affirmed he used a phone.

        Trump’s statement, “is anybody dumb enough to believe I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a “heavily populated” call,” is, at best, a non-denial denial.

        Reports are that he says inappropriate things to foreign leaders all the time.

        • Sandwichman says:

          Yes. A non-denial denial. He says inappropriate things to foreign leaders in public, with the tape rolling.

        • Peterr says:

          I think that was a typo on Trump’s part. What he meant to type was “Is anyone going to believe that I would be dumb enough to say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a ‘heavily populated’ call?”

          To which the answer is, of course, “Yes.”

        • Vicks says:

          I’ve been sneaking peaks to try to stay up on this today; ignore me if I missed it…
          Do we know it was a “populated” call?
          Trump does have a odd way of pointing to the obvious when defending himself.
          Since we know what we know about the man, who would be surprised if he has a steady habit of dialing up a leader on some back channel set up? For all we know that means asking S Miller if he can borrow his phone.

  19. JAFive says:

    Seems like everyone is focusing on the possibility that Trump disclosed something to a foreign leader or promised to do so. Given his personal history, that’s understandable, but it sits oddly with the statute (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/3033), defining urgent concern as “a serious or flagrant, problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order … relating to … an intelligence activity.” Given the president’s broad powers to disclose and declassify, it seems iffy that a disclosure could check those boxes.

    Rather, what would seem to fit most logically is if the President promised a foreign leader to carry out/cooperate in an illegal intelligence activity. WaPo identifies five foreign contacts in the preceding weeks: Russia, NK, Pakistan, Netherlands, Qatar. My money is on an illegal intelligence activity (perhaps targeting Iran) in coordination with Qatar.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Or, the disclosure involves the spy list demanded earlier by the White House.

      Why else would the burning of our Kremlin asset be made public, since the IC doesn’t talk about those they bring home to hide? I think that kind of “promise” would also be what strikes at the heart and soul of our whistleblower more than anything else would.

      Arrrrggghhh, mateys!

      • Greg F says:

        Isn’t “Soul Of A Whistleblower” one of Gordon Lightfoot’s hits? Or was that a Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie tune?

        Argghhh, indeed, R9!

      • Rugger9 says:

        I’m also not convinced it’s a Ukraine issue tied to Biden campaign, since that has been boiling over for a month or so (and Rudy G last night onCuomo confessed to the dirt project).

        However, given the antipathy of Individual-1 to NATO and the already documented willingness to do Putin’s bidding it would seem to me the most likely Ukraine issue is one to prevent the on-again-off-again (currently on since Yanukovych fled to Russia to bide his time) process for Ukraine to join NATO. The Russia of Putin still wants to rebuild the Czarist state and Ukraine being part of NATO not only derails that but also puts another very large potential adversary directly on Russia’s border. After all, the Kremlin doesn’t like that the Baltics are in NATO (and are actively undermining that) which has had the joint defense provision since it was formed.

        So, was the promise to torpedo Ukraine’s admission to NATO or to formally recognize the annexation of Crimea, or to stand by as Russia invades to restore Yanukovych? I don’t think that the IC would be all that concerned about Biden’s campaign, however, they would be concerned with the potential destruction of NATO by way of Ukraine events especially after our man in Russia had to be exfiltrated in a rush. That made it clear to the IC how much would be given to Putin and to make it public like they did is unusual and was a shot across the bow.

        Whatever it is it has to be very big or the WH would not be working so hard to hide everything.

        I’m sure our (former) man in Russia will meet some unfortunate accident as well. I don’t think Ambassador McFaul is going to be shipped over to the tender mercies of Putin but given how craven the GOP has become, I can’t totally rule it out.

  20. PeteT says:

    I’m interested in someone unpacking the relevance of a “reading” Lawrence O’Donnell made last night from, I assume, Section 702 Paragraphs G and F of https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-105publ272/html/PLAW-105publ272.htm

    From: https://www.vox.com/2019/9/18/20872701/dni-whistleblower-schiff-intelligence we have:

    What seems to have happened next is that inspector general Atkinson decided to tell the congressional committees about it himself: he wrote a letter to both the House and Senate Intelligence committees telling them about the whistleblower complaint’s existence. It’s unclear how many details Atkinson gave, but he evidently did not include the full complaint.

    House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, then, sent a letter to acting DNI Maguire on September 10, demanding more information and accusing him of violating the law by not sending congress the complaint.

    ODNI general counsel Jason Klitenic — who is responsible for overseeing all legal matters within the ODNI — responded on September 13 in a letter to Schiff and the Senate Intelligence Committee. In that letter, Klitenic said that his office had consulted with the Justice Department about what to do, and that they determined the complaint wasn’t an “urgent concern” after all. He further said that the complaint “does not allege misconduct within the Intelligence Community.” (We now know this is because it alleged misconduct by President Trump himself.)

    As such, Klitenic argued, the ODNI was not required to turn the information about the complaint over to Congress.

    So, among other things commenters believe relevant is the ODNI (counsel) decision to re-determine the ICIG designation from “urgent concern” to not of “urgent concern”. Can that be challenged in court or not based on the “whistleblower” law as written?


      • JAFive says:

        Yes, but what’s the remedy?

        I did hear an interesting suggestion that, rather than a subpoena, Schiff ought to try for a writ of mandamus to force Maguire to turn over the complaint insofar as the statute is mandatory. It does actually seem like that’s a potentially more creative and promising legal avenue.

        Even if the subpoena routes succeeds (and I’m dubious), it will take forever.

      • 200Toros says:

        RIGHT! And they do it anyway. They don’t care about the law. Schiff is saying he’ll sue the govt. to make them turn over the complaint. So a judge says “turn it over”, then what? They ignore the judge. Then what? Anybody going to arrest Barr? So frustrating…

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      ” Can that be challenged in court or not based on the ‘ whistleblower law’ as written.”

      And so now we get into the parsing of words describing actions that can make the actions irrelevant and watch as the rule of law is eaten by the law. I suggest that we all look back at the entirety of old Slime Tonsils Barr and the curious case of George H.W Bush and Iran Contra.

    • P J Evans says:

      You start with the assumption that the occupant of the WH (whoever it is) can’t be indicted, and you end up with someone who can ignore all the laws and do everything with executive orders, i.e. an absolute monarch or a dictator in the modern use of the word.
      I expect better from people who claim to be legal experts.

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      I just read Goldman’s burp, it is exactly what I tried to describe in a reply above that got scrubbed: now we watch as the rule of law is eaten by the law.

      • JVO says:

        So if Jack’s correct (he is not), then the writers of the US Constitution wrote it in such a way that there is some magical basis to find there is an implicit escape clause for treason committed by the President with a foreign power under the guise of “foreign diplomacy” that takes precedent over the express, written treason clauses (Art. II, section 4; see also Art. III, section 3) for which, when an overt act is committed toward same (is a promise an overt act) as witnessed by at least two witnesses (i.e., if there’s no whistleblower, then there will be no witnesses – otherwise they will be an aider and abetter) or is admitted to in open court (could happen but unlikely), the President (not the former, out of office President, the current, sitting President) is to be impeached and/or convicted and removed from office.

        Jack’s full of it imho but so am I – but I’m certain the President works for the People – not the other way around like Jack argues! Under Jack’s view, there are no three co-equal branches of government and none of them represent We the People.

        • P J Evans says:

          The meeting with Putin where there were only translators present – and translators are limited in what they can talk about in public.
          If treason occurred, that’s when it would have happened.

  21. Peterr says:

    From Rayne: “Very, very odd how CNBC’s website news crawl makes zero mention of this unfolding story even though an NBC story confirmed WaPo’s report last night.”

    CNBC operates with some very odd editorial blinders. If a story doesn’t immediately move markets (or have the strong potential to do so), no matter how big the story at NBC or MSNBC, it’s just as likely they won’t mention it at all. I wouldn’t read anything into this at all, absent some other information about CNBC.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A problem with federal laws, in general – and the penalties for breaking them, in particular – is that none of them anticipated as President so reflexively lawless a man as Donald Trump. And so Roy Cohnish an Attorney General as William Barr.

    • 200Toros says:

      THIS. If all the HIC can do is make polite “requests” for people to comply with federal law, we’ve got a problem. I believe this feeds right into bmaz’s sledgehammer – that we must have a formal impeachment inquiry, in order to strengthen the ability to create real consequences for failing to comply. But even then, I wonder…

      • 200Toros says:

        I know what you mean, but he IS doing his job, as he sees it, and according to the terms he agreed to prior to acceptance of said job – protect the president at all costs, and law and country be damned.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Accepting employment with the federal government under the terms you describe would be an independent corrupt act.

          • P J Evans says:

            And confirmation would have required perjury, because he knew damned well that the AG is not the attorney for the president, but for the rest of the country.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The short-term “magic” of Trump/Barr issuing instructions via a legal memo from the OLC is that OLC interpretations of federal law bind executive branch officials – unless and until they are changed, the law changes, or they are successfully challenged in federal court.

        Keeping them secret is a problem because secret laws are anathema in the American legal system. But it also delays challenging them and forcing their revision.

        The latter seems to be a big part of the game with Congress. Delay the reveal, delay successful challenge or the issuance of overriding legislation by Congress. That might have to wait for a Democratic majority in the Senate.

        Some of the wrongful acts by this administration will be pursued by the next administration, but probably not if it is led by SafeHands Joe. He was part of the team that gave us Look Forward, Not Back, and keep the TBTF banks unchallenged and in power.

  23. Pacific says:

    Although it is probably some of the other calls discussed above, on July 25, there was a telephone call between President Trump and Mr Zelensky , “during which Mr Trump allegedly told the Ukrainian president to reopen the Biden investigation if he wanted to improve relations with the US.”

    See, September 18, 2019 article in Independent.co.uk.

    270 million of security aid to Ukraine that had been held up by Trump, was recently released by the Trump administration, and it was also announced that an additional package of 140 million was being put together for Ukraine by the State Department.

    House Committees are investigating.

    [#ODNItimeline /Pardon my bookmark. ~Rayne]

    • Michaelhigh says:

      I’m currently in the Ukraine,, and so about 1/10 of the news stories that pop up, are from ukranian sources. I’ll look tomorrow to see if I can find the one that prompted my original post, but it was Zelenskey giving an interview where he was joking about how it was great economics that the US not only released 250million for military aid, but another 137 million, for medical equipment. According to the article it was “Released”, not pending, as originally it was scheduled for much later,, (ergo the joke a out good economics)

  24. Lowdenf23c says:

    My baseless speculation is as follows: promised aid to the Ukraine in return for pursuing legal actions against Biden’s son. It was reported in late August that Giuliani had again been pushing for charges against Biden.

    • Pacific says:

      Perhaps I was too subtle but that was what I was attempting to imply in my reference to July 25 Trump and the Ukrainian President phone call.

      • Lowdenf23c says:

        I am guilty of scrolling to the comments box at the bottom of the page without adequately reading what was already written above. I agree with your post, Pacific.


      • RLHall says:

        I think this is approaching the truth, as far as it goes. It’s shameful and probably criminal, but almost banal in the context of so many other stories.
        There must be something more. I see no “promise” in what’s been leaked so far. What’s been presented doesn’t seem to be an urgent national security issue for the US. (Ukraine’s endangerment is much greater).
        So what I wonder, is whether there are other conversations with Putin or someone else where those kinds of transgressions may have occurred? Trump spoke with him a few days after on pressing climate change concerns like forest fires in Siberia, but maybe they found a moment to talk about something else. If that were the case, it would explain why Giuliani would so easily “slip up” and expose the dirty political tricks to distract from something even bigger.

  25. Willis Warren says:

    I think there’s probably several things trump is doing. He’s obviously trying to pressure Ukraine into some bullshit with Biden. He’s also doing some backdoor dealing with Putin and NK, wherein Pute gets back into the G7 and helps on NK

    I’m sure that’s scaring the shit out of everyone, including Bolton, who’s leaking like a madman right now

    • dude says:

      And Trump leaks. He is not incompetent. With secrets, he’s incontinent.

      He needs Depends for National Security.

    • MattG says:

      I bet DT is still paying off Putin for 2016 and to keep certain uncomfortable facts out of circulation. I would be surprised if it had anything to do with a “three-way trade” that gained anything for the US, or NK for that matter, or had any arguable diplomatc dimension. We will always be stuck in schister mode with DT.

  26. P J Evans says:

    This just gets better and better. /s
    The ICIG told the committee that he was told by the ADNI that the whistleblower is not allowed to talk to congress.

    I saw one suggestion that, when the law requires that something be done and this maladministration refuses to do it, that the House committee get a writ of mandamus. I’m sure bmaz can weigh in on that, but on its face it sounds like a better move than issuing another subpoena that’s going to be ignored.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, ultimately, mandamus is probably the answer. But, again, how long will it take the House to even file such an action, much less litigate it? And, if they even do, it will still be under common legislative purpose capacity, and not under auspices of a formal impeachment inquiry. It could easily take until past the next inauguration.

      And, by now, anybody who cannot fathom the difference between common legislative purpose action and Constitutionally imperative impeachment action, is beyond dense and naive. This is exactly why I have been screaming about this for months.

      I know there are still a couple of people here that think “Golly, the slow and steady path of Pelosi and Nadler is the brilliant way to go”. What a crock. It is the exact dereliction of duty that has led to this point.

      • P J Evans says:

        This is Schiff, so he’s probably going to push harder.
        (I sent another email to Pelosi this week yelling at her for not getting the investigative hearings going. That crap about “polls don’t back it” was part of it – it’s running about 50/50 in some polls, which is a good time to start moving.)

        • Mooser says:

          I’ve got it! Ms. Pelosi will be more and more reluctant to impeach, which will force the Repubs to impeach to ‘own the libs’.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        Sigh, I am afraid you are correct. But I wonder how much of the onus with regard to this falls on Nadler. IMHO Pelosi and the old neo-liberal leadership (read Clintonistas) are afraid if this unravels too quickly it will expose the whole bunch of ’em goin’ all the way back to Iran-Contra. Keep the faith but pass the ammunition, there is no more time to engage in scholastic legal arguments involving angels and pins and dancing.

        • bmaz says:

          No, Nadler garners plenty of blame, but left to his own devices he would make the move. This is on Pelosi, Hoyer and Jeffries. Nadler may be a coward for not doing what he knows is right, and he is, but this falls on the Leadership.

          • Rugger9 says:

            IIRC, the Nixon impeachment process also started while Nixon was still in the glow of the ’72 landslide and didn’t really turn the tide until the so-called “smoking gun” revelation about the tapes.

            As Comey noted, “Lordy I hope there are tapes” after being threatened with being contradicted by tape evidence.

            The lesson is that televised revelations have much more effect than Pelosi assumes (let’s see for example how Lewandowski’s testimony admitting to obstruction will hurt the prospective polls) and this WH will not be able to stop itself from adding gasoline and hydrogen to the dumpster fire to come.

          • Rugger9 says:

            The House leadership politics is more of the triangulation stuff that is so dead now in this era of polarization and moral clarity. MAGA people vote for Rs, and that will not change. That’s why those who ran as Ds like the “Squad” won their races and those who triangualted (like Ossoff) did not.

            Furthermore, as demonstrated by GOP legislators all around the country, the party will do absolutely everything they can to hold power and have no scruples about how they do it including reneging on not holding votes on 9/11 in Raleigh when many (not all) of the Ds went to commemoration ceremonies and the Rs overrode the governor’s veto of their antediluvian budget with the needed supermajority percentage with half the house gone.

            I don’t know why Pelosi, Hoyer or any other D for that matter can trust any R on any topic. The GOP purged all of their moderates long ago at the behest of Grover Norquist. Insufficient “conservatism” gets primaried with the so-called deplorables as the key bloc.

          • Ckymonstaz says:

            What a mess! Noone to hold Trump or the GOP to account in Washington so the voters are left with the choice of voting all blue to end the madness and reward the exact people who refused to do their jobs or risk letting the country give up even more of the last 50 years of progress

            And what if we do reward pelosi and the rest of the absent democratic leadership for doing nothing? Will they do anything to correct this madness?

            I fear we will be left with the same choice of voting against all of them in 2022/2024 for failing to bring about any real change at the risk of electing a new GOP demon

  27. BobCon says:

    FY 2021 Defense/Intelligence Appropriations have been held up in the Senate. Publicly, the big reason is wall money, but I hope the Ds are thinking about intelligence funding language.

  28. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    Sigh, I am afraid you are correct. But I wonder how much of the onus with regard to this falls on Nadler. IMHO Pelosi and the old neo-liberal leadership (read Clintonistas) are afraid if this unravels too quickly it will expose the whole bunch of ’em goin’ all the way back to Iran-Contra. Keep the faith but pass the ammunition, there is no more time to engage in scholastic legal arguments involving angels and pins and dancing.

  29. Rita says:

    Two Questions:

    The Washington Post, NY Times and others are being leaked information about the complaint. Why doesn’t the leaker(s) force the issue and leak the whole story or as much as they know? Why just teasing tidbits? I know that they are risking much but they have already gotten their feet wet. Might as well take the plunge for the good of the country.

    Given the maze, if not no man’s land, that this whistleblower finds him or herself in by trying to follow the rules, does this make Comey’s decision to go the route that Comey took with his memos look justified?

    • BobCon says:

      We don’t know what the whistleblower has said, either to members of Congress or off the record to the press. It’s possible there is a lot more going on than we know, and we also don’t know how many people are involved. This may take a while to get sorted out.

      As far as Comey, I think history will judge him harshly but I think he was mostly smart in the way he handled himself after Inauguration Day, I don’t think it’s an apples to apples situation, though.

  30. rosalind says:

    re: timeline – soychicka on twitter raises: sat aug 10th Jeffrey Epstein suicides, mon aug 12th whistleblower complaint filed.

  31. Matthew Harris says:

    It is odd to me, because I keep pretty good track of these things, and this still only bubbled up as a separate issue for me yesterday. In all the news going on, anything with “Inspector General” seems pretty procedural and dry.

    So with all that is going on, it is somewhat understandable that this fell between the cracks of the refinery attack in Saudi Arabia or even of Cyrus Vance’s subpoenaing of Trump’s taxes.

    Sometimes I imagine the task of someone writing a history of this era, 20 or 50 years from now. Will this whistleblower complaint be a footnote in a chapter describing when Vance’s investigation finally tipped things over, or vice-versa? There are so many threads in all the investigations around Trump, it is hard to tell when two stories are related, when they are separate activities, or when is just a relatively “harmless” bout of Trumpian foolishness.

    • Tom says:

      Yes, I’d give almost anything to be able to spend 10 minutes in a bookstore from the year 2030 and grab an armload of history/biographies covering the period we’re living through.

      • P J Evans says:

        I read a story once where someone from the 80s or even early 90s went back in time to the 50s (they took an old-style Beetle with them for transportation). They were writing books based on the history of the 60s and 70s, and selling them as fiction. (One was on Watergate.)

  32. Eureka says:

    Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter – The Washington Post

    Apologies if posted already, just came out

    ETA: Marcy is tweeting and rt-ing about this:

    emptywheel: “Reminder that Trump’s campaign manager is in prison right now for (in part) trying to convince US lawmakers that politicized prosecutions in Ukraine were not.… [quoting Rosalind Helderman tweet on this story]”

    Marcy rt’d:

    Ryan Goodman: “AP’s @colvinj asked Pence a very pointed question on Sept 2, 2019 in Poland: “Can you assure Ukraine that the hold-up of that money [U.S. security assistance] has absolutely nothing to do with efforts, including by Rudy Giuliani, to try to dig up dirt on the Biden family?”…”

        • Sandwichman says:

          It may look like Giuliani is “shitting his pants” but actually he is just “muddying the waters.” Cuomo is an enabler. Fox, Hannity and the MAGA crowd will run with the Giuliani allegations, just like they ran with the Comey, McCabe, Strozk, Steele conspiracy theories.

          • Tommy D Cosmology says:

            Yup. A bigot only needs to find one Mexican rapist to say “Mexicans are rapists” and Republicans only need one Strzok text to say that the FBI was out to get them. But how dare us call them bigots or question their treasonous behavior.

            And I know that’s hyperbolic talk around here. But can you imagine if they had one tenth of one one-hundredth of this material to work with? Fucking Kenneth Starr would have been their Mueller. Dems would be hanging in the streets on fire.

          • Vicks says:

            I think Rudy may be in trouble on this one.
            He used the same strategy of making the rounds on cable tv before, each time revealing a little more about the crime (it completely escapes me which crime) until finally climaxing with yes he did it, but so what? He’s the president so it’s not illegal.
            Last night I saw a tired old man trying to pull off the same feat in 15 minutes, completely missing his marks going from he (Rooty) didn’t do it, to other people (Hillary, Soros,) have done worse to admitting Trump had conversations about jamming up a political rival with the leader of Ukraine.
            He didn’t mention the $250 million being used as leverage.
            Rudy is clearly implicated on this one. Let’s see what loyalty really looks like.

            • Vicks says:

              On a related note.
              Perhaps Rudy’s claim that he now has proof that the US used fake documents to trap Manafort and that it was HILLARY! And Soros that actually meddled in the election is what is giving all these folks like Flynn this bizzare confidence that the truth will set them free?

      • Eureka says:

        It sure does.

        When the Ukraine part was confirmed, it was hard not to think of how they really got _so much back-to-basics_.

        Bunch of basic ratfuckers.

        And the ‘upstart comedian’ Zelensky situation was clearly trouble from the get go.

        • BobCon says:

          McConnell suddenly caved today on election security funding and backed $250 million for the next fiscal year. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s something.

          He may be getting worried that he needs to defend himself for collaborating too closely to keep Trump’s campaign from scrutiny.

          Foreign assistance for campaigns is one area in campaign law that is still less privileged in recent Supreme Court rulings, and Ukraine helping out Trump may be a risky area, even with the FEC crippled.


          • Eureka says:

            It sounds like the lesson here is to dial up the whistle-blowing (even amidst the current case being suppressed) and other information exposures.

            (Said as I reflect on how exquisitely sensitive McConnell seemed to be to his Moscow Mitch moniker as well.)

            So now we have a hint as to the level of criminality– or its potential wide exposure– where Trump’s tough-guy enablers start to say Uncle.

          • dimmsdale says:

            As I understand it, he only acquiesced to the election “security” bill after the election security requirements were stripped OUT of the bill. I’ve been twitter following Jennifer Cohn (@jennycohn1) who has been doing mostly solitary yeoman work on election hardware/software being used (and even newly purchased)–mostly made by Republican dominated companies that happily contribute to local R officials’ campaigns; and on which systems are eminently hackable (ALL of them, except those relying on hand-marked paper ballots). Even if the bill passes, election security remains as bad as if it hadn’t. Check Ms. Cohn’s twitterfeed and see what you think.

  33. errant aesthete says:

    “Trump has been extorting U.S. ally Ukraine—and we’ve known it for months.”


    [#ODNItimeline /Pardon my bookmark. ~Rayne]

  34. BobCon says:

    Sure would be nice to have a fully staffed and funded impeachment inquiry in place that could hit the ground running with this stuff. Sure would be nice to have special rules in place for hearings so they could use their own attorney for extensive questioning.

    This is another perfect example of why it was so idiotic for Pelosi to slow walk an inquiry. There is no way Nadler’s current operation can turn on a dime and jump on this. They don’t have the bandwidth, and it will take months to get people hired and up to speed.

    She went with the moronic assumption that Trump would never do anything bad ever again, and so there was no need to even get her pieces lined up and ready to go. She assumed she could start up any time, and the ticking clock didn’t matter. This is a historic blunder.

    • P J Evans says:

      I don’t know what she’s been assuming. She certainly should have known two years ago that impeachment was needed.

      • BobCon says:

        It was a debatable but somewhat fair assumption on her part that the evidence wasn’t sufficient at the start of the year prior to Mueller releasing his report. But it was ridiculous for her to assume that the situation in January 2019 was going to be the situation in six months or nine months or a year.

        She refused to believe more was going to happen. She believed in the static nature of events despite the fact that Trump has never, ever shown the ability to lie low and stop causing problems. She’s trying to fight the war she fought against Bush in 2005-6, when this is a different president, different time, different world.

        It’s maddening.

        • Tom says:

          Pelosi is willing to ignore President Trump’s growing corruption and malfeasance on the grounds that proceeding with a formal impeachment would be too divisive for the country, which sounds a little like Abraham Lincoln in the spring of 1861 refusing to confront the Southern secession crisis on the grounds that it would be tear the Union apart.

          My own thinking is that Pelosi actually believes that Trump’s abuse of the Presidency and democratic institutions will continue to the point that public opinion turns against him in a major and significant way, at which point the Democrats will launch their impeachment process as the coup-de-grace. But their feeble efforts to date to hold Trump accountable only seem to serve to strengthen the President and weaken themselves. You can imagine some people concluding that Trump can’t be all that bad for the country, otherwise he’d be impeached. It also doesn’t help to have some of the MSM casting this as just another battle between the White House and Congress.

          Sometimes there are no good solutions to a problem, in which case you pick the least bad option. In the present situation, the least bad choice is for the Democrats to risk dividing the country–which actually may not happen–by proceeding with formal impeachment, rather than allow Trump another year to corrupt the government and its institutions and undermine the stature of the USA on the world stage. And it’s not only the welfare of America that’s at stake, it’s also the future of the other western democracies who depend on her that’s hanging in the balance.

          • bmaz says:

            Yes Tom, that is exactly right. And that has been the case since the new Congress took office in January. Is it a politically hard thing to do? Sure. But their jobs, indeed their oath of office, call them to do the hard and right thing for the country. And if bringing accountability to the current occup/ant of the White House is not precisely that, then when would it ever be?

            The Impeachment Clause was not placed in the Constitution as word filler, it has a purpose. Whether or not Trump is ultimately removed, or even whether articles of impeachment are ever voted out to the Senate, is irrelevant. The process counts. Accountability, and the courage to pursue it, is the job.

          • BobCon says:

            You could well be right that Pelosi thinks of impeachment as a quick hit, similar to the way Gingrich launched impeachment as a barebones effort wrapped up in a couple of months.

            If that’s true, she’s dumb on many levels. Gingrich went that route in large part because his case was so thin and weak. Pelosi’s case is far more substantial. Gingrich didn’t want more time because more evidence didn’t make his case any better. Pelosi would benefit from having as much time as possible to lay out the evidence.

            She is very possibly thinking in terms of a one or two week media cycle, and this is the kind of anti-strategic thinking that has hamstrung her as a leader. And her chronic delay is throwing away her most valuable asset — time. She will want the flexibility that early action would have given her, but it will be gone and never coming back.

            • OldTulsaDude says:

              Barr’s use of the OLC to provide protection, delay, and non-accountability for the president is equally vile and equally in need of impeachment.

            • Rayne says:

              Nancy Pelosi is 79 years old. She was 33 when the Watergate investigation began and surely recalls what happened then. I don’t think she’s thinking of a couple week media cycle with regard to an impeachment investigation.

              There’s something else going on, some of which is apparent in that old jackass Steny Hoyer’s attitude toward impeachment. Right now he’s bucking for a solid primarying on impeachment AND on women’s reproductive health. I’d really like to know who’s ass he’s kissing so hard to be so obstructive to more than half of the Democratic caucus.

              • General Sternwood says:

                This is exactly right. This scandal is tailor-made for Pelosi to pivot on impeachment, and her resistance to it would actually lend her reversal moral authority. I can only assume this is a sort of “learned helplessness” that she personally cannot overcome.

  35. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Mueller hearing – Jul 24th
    Trump call to Ukraine pres – Jul 25th
    Then movement around Ratcliffe, Coats, Gordon, Bolton
    Pence visits Ukraine recently

    Trump is the type to double down. I understand R’s are primarily responsible for enabling this, but Dem leadership needs to get with the times.

    Ironically a maga-hatter I unfortunately cannot about avoid is now bringing up the fake Ukraine-Biden corruption story, and knows (intentionally?) nothing about the abuses of power, criminality, and corruption driving this.

    D leadership needs a coherent communication strategy repeating the criminality of Trump with short specific examples, house vote to support and begin impeachment investigation/hearings, and emergency court fillings ready to go when WH stonewall’s. They should have had legal and investigative teams in place months ago driving this.

    Waving this behavior away without attempting to hold WH accountable normalizes it and is unacceptable. Plus the gazillion other shards of disenfranchisement the R’s are flinging on the path of our nation. It can’t stand

  36. e.a.f. says:

    Trump may have wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden in exchange for the $250M of military equipment. Of course he might have made a promise to Putin, he wouldn’t give Ukraine the armaments and not support countries which bordered on Russia. It benefits dumb donni because he wants to continue to loot the American treasury and secure business for his hotels.

    Was interesting to hear what donni’s lawyers were arguing regarding the request by N.Y. for his taxes; they can’t investigate the American president for anything while in office. OMG, if I heard correctly, they are arguing the American president is now a dictator and can commit any crimes he wishes. So what happens if dumb donni rapes some one, just give him a pass?

  37. Ewan says:

    A number of possible contributions to the timeline have been made (the resignation of coats, Gordon and the US ambassador in Russia… could the post be updated for clarity/

  38. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    NYT Online Heading:

    “Complaint Is Said to Involve Trump’s Dealings With Foreign Leader
    Much of the whistle-blower’s allegation remains shrouded in mystery, and at least one part of it is said to involve Ukraine.
    The case renewed questions about President Trump’s freewheeling diplomatic style.”

    Several P’s in before they vaguely mention prid pro quo.


    The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that President Trump made. Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

    Still not great but quite a difference. NYT eagerly ran with the fake Biden scandal with far less “we’ll see’ nuance.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please make sure to use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. /~Rayne]

  39. Frank Probst says:

    Totally off topic: Has anyone heard anything about the supposed coming indictments of Andrew McCabe? I haven’t heard any chatter about them, and the indictments were supposedly imminent.

  40. Rita says:

    So to sum up the state of affairs as of this morning:

    The whistleblower complaint is about Trump extorting Ukraine to come up with dirt on Trump’s likely political opponent. If I recall correctly, this may be the second time that Trump is alleged to have pull this extortion racket. The first was in connection with the Mueller probe when Ukraine stopped cooperating with the Mueller team in order to get tanks delivered.

    Trump (and Pence and Barr) may try to frame this as simply trying to get Ukraine to focus on corruption, which would be justified. But ace Inspector Giuliani’s involvement makes this look like a convenient pretext. What is really going on is Trump extorting a country to come up with favorable oppo research. I suspect a few more shoes to drop, with Russian labels.

    • Vicks says:

      I think it’s important to be careful.
      All we “know” is what someone or someones wants us to “know.”
      We are assuming that this is information being leaked out daily by, or on behalf of a frustrated whistleblower.
      If that is the case, we may get another hit this evening.
      On the other hand.
      The power of the question “What would a rat-fucker do?” may be the best bet.

  41. harpie says:

    Wow. I’ve been taking a much needed break from all the drama,
    [though I HAVE missed you all :-)],
    and happen to decide to re-enter the twilight zone just in time for…THIS?

      • harpie says:

        Your most recent post [and the comments] about Biden/Medicare was an infuriating, and yet enlightening read. Thanks [to all] for that!

          • bmaz says:

            Bob is a very good friend and lives not far away. Hilariously, we met very long ago through Howie Klein, who has nothing really to do with AZ. That is what makes the net useful.

    • harpie says:

      Anyway, I had just begun reading the timeline again, and the “beautiful” letters from Kim caught my attention because of this less than an hour ago:
      8:17 AM – 20 Sep 2019

      Trump describes whistleblower who sounded alarm about his interactions with Ukraine as “partisan.” A minute later, he says, “I don’t know the identity of the whistleblower.”
      “it was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation,” he adds. [VIDEO] [emphasis added]

    • harpie says:

      This morning [or maybe last night] Wendy Siegelman retweeted
      5:38 PM – 19 Sep 2019

      FULL TIMELINE: Giuliani & Trump’s illegal activities in Ukraine span 2+ yrs. The Biden stuff is really only 1/10 of the quid-pro-quo, negotiated w/ Giuliani as back channel, starting May 2017. I never finished my info-graphic [screenshot], so here I’ll do a Rudy Retrospective: 5/17-5/19. […] Full disclosure…I hate writing about Rudy anymore. But it’s important for folks to know what has really been happening here *FOR A LONG TIME*. […] MY THREAD OF THREADS: [LINK from 3:32 PM – 20 Oct 2018 / The last article I wrote about Rudy & Ukraine actually picks up at the very, very beginning of the quid-pro-quo *as I have tracked evidence related to it*. “Rudy, Ukraine, and the plot to fire Comey” — 1/24/19

      I haven’t read it all, yet, and I don’t know if anything is new for the timeline here, but imo anything Wendy Siegelman recommends is worth looking into…which is what I’m about to do.

    • harpie says:

      On 8/9/19 Trump was asked about a possible Zelensky, Putin conversation wrt: fighting in eastern Ukraine. Aaron Rupar has the video here:
      8:28 AM – 9 Aug 2019
      This is what Trump says in the clip:

      TRUMP: I think [Zelensky’s] going to make a deal with President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House, and we look forward to seeing him.
      He’s already been invited to the White House and he wants to come. And I think he will. He’s a very reasonable guy. He wants to see peace in Ukraine. And I think he will be coming very soon, actually.

      Well Zelensky evidently hasn’t been a good enough boy yet to get him his wish, but just today, his office announced that he will get to meet with Trump in NY next week.
      Adam Klasfeld Retweeted https://twitter.com/saraecook/status/1175049243318505479
      7:09 AM – 20 Sep 2019

      President Trump will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky next week in New York at the UN General Assembly #Ukraine #UNGA [screenshot]

  42. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “China’s eating the tariffs….We’re doing very well….Look at all the regulation cutting….It’s been really amazing what we’ve been able to do.”

    — Donald Trump

    One of those things is correct. Trump’s destructive path is amazing, it’s a Category Five. The other stuff, meh. If China’s eating the tariffs, for example, why has Trump spent $28 billion – so far – in additional farm support because of them. That’s more than twice the cost of the more controversial $12 billion bailout of Detroit automakers, and they paid the money back.

    • klynn says:

      “If China’s eating the tariffs, for example, why has Trump spent $28 billion – so far – in additional farm support because of them. That’s more than twice the cost of the more controversial $12 billion bailout of Detroit automakers, and they paid the money back.”

      This is correct. As some might recall, I wrote a series for FDL on why we needed the auto bailout at that time and the import of the economics of the bailout.

      The difficulty with the farmers bailout is that there is no action or mechanism in place to correct the Ag market due to the trade war Trump has created. Farmers are going to need to think about diversification. This is an issue of national security and Trump has put our Ag sector facing some horrible long term risks.

  43. Chetnolian says:

    Could I ask a simple question? Might Pelosi’s reluctance to commence impeachment proceedings not be summed up in one word; Senate?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Forcing MMMcT and his minions to vote to let this WH circus go on will make for great attack ads all of next year.

    • Marinela says:

      Puzzled about Pelosi handling of impeachment, acting as if she is dropping the ball, delaying, etc.
      Puzzled on why Trump is pointing to Pelosi reluctance to impeach as his own defense. This is odd.

      At the moment I am just hoping there are real investigations happening behind the scenes that are not getting reported yet, thus the perceived delays.
      On the other hand, it could be just incompetence, and this is what appears to an outside common observer. If not incompetence, I’m afraid to speculate what else could be.

      About the Senate narrative, is irrelevant what Senate does, she needs to do her duty.

      Barry Berke interview of Cory L, seems to be the ticket. Need more of those.

      If Trump gets re-elected, we’ll look back and can point to one of the causes that contributed to Trump re-election, weak house leadership.

      Trump should be easily defeated. If he is not, it is because dems shoot themselves in the foot.

      More alarming, conservative religious groups are heavenly involved in getting people to vote, and suggesting how they should vote. And this is how Trump can get re-elected. We think there is energy on dems side, but there is quiet consolidation on conservatives side. We are not seeing the big picture.

      • e.a.f. says:

        In my opinion, it won’t be “weak house leadership” which contributes to dumb donni’s re election, it will be weak minded citizens who vote for him and weak politicians, every one of them, who refuse to do what is best for their country instead of themselves and their corporate sponsors. Moscow Mitch leads that pack. what ever happened to politicians doing the right thing, taking a stand for their country and their principles instead of their bank accounts and life style. Its always so easy to blame one or two people, but really its every one in the U.S.A who needs to stand up and take a position.

        You can give almost 1/7 of Hong Kong’s population out to a protest to fight for democracy. The U.S.A., too busy with what ever…………..

        It is doubtful the men and women who fought in WW II ever thought they’d see the day they would have a group of lawyers arguing that not only can a president not be tried, but can’t even be investigated while in office. Last time I check, most went to war to fight that sort of attitude.

        Even if every Democrat shot themselves in the foot, please don’t try to tell me Americans are so stupid they can’t figure out what is going on in their country. Americans built a nation by being innovative, smart, resourceful, etc. Now if the country ‘fails’, its the fault of one woman and a few men. Give me a break. Have a look at Hong Kong, where a million got out to protest and it doesn’t even have major politicians taking a leadership roll.

        When countries fight for democracy, sometimes they have one or two leaders but just as frequently its just the citizens getting out there and either fighting, protesting, voting.

    • pjb says:

      If you mean as to Trump, no. There’s no requirement to even vote out articles of impeachment and turn it over to the Senate. I have been patient about House leadership, crediting them for their electoral acumen in 2016, but increasingly it is hard to ascribe their inactivity as other than lack of political courage to simply do their Constitutional duty.

      If you mean as to Justice Kav? That’s a different story. Since there’s no benefit to impeachment without removal, impeaching him (on far less damning evidence that against Trump, by the way) seems fruitless and self-defeating.

        • bmaz says:

          Not sure I have perfect answers either. But the response was to Chetnolian, who is somebody I have known personally long and well.

          And, in that regard, I can easily say that, no, Pelosi’s problem is not that the Senate would acquit if articles are forwarded for trial.

          This is the exact same lie that Pelosi, Hoyer and Jeffries have been propagating from the start. The issue is investigative power and legitimacy. Are the HJC and House Democrats willing to stand up and do their job or not?

          The answer from Pelosi, Hoyer and Jeffries is a loud no, and they are not even willing to utilize their strongest powers to even try.

          Chetnolian knew this was the answer coming methinks, and provided a fine opportunity to put it in print. If the intent was different, trust me, he will let me know!

          • Marinela says:

            Just watched a segment about Iron Range democrats in Minnesota, the democrat interviewed was saying Trump is their guy now and that they plan to turn Minnesota red and discussing how Ilhan Omar (different district) is not representing their values, 80% of these people are white. I looked at Sinclair stations in that region in MN, not there, so not sure I understand why the disconnect. They claim they support Trump because of the jobs he supposedly created, but the thing is, the companies got helped (taxes, de-regulations, etc), they throw few crumbs, and after Trump gets re-elected, things could change. This is artificial growth, crony capitalism, at a price.

            Maybe Pelosi sees similar data and could explain why she is cautious with impeachment.

            Scary times we live in.

  44. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the whistleblower complaint involved Donald Trump – or any of his agents or direct reports – why has he read it and why does he apparently know the name(s) of the person(s) who filed it?

    Any whistleblower would know the high likelihood that this corrupt administration would find a way to out them and to enact reprisals. My guess is that Trump and Barr are wasting no time in responding. I cannot say the same about the hapless Democrats.

    • Tom says:

      Any reprisals against the whistleblower on the part of the administration and the DOJ might well backfire, at least so I hope. Americans like to root for the underdog and Bill Barr is definitely from central casting if the White House is looking for someone to play the heavy in this possible scenario.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Speaking of outing, it’s historically a political sport in Florida. This is a continuation of the saga reported in August:

      “How Trump’s Florida ‘field general’ got kneecapped”
      “A power play by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ousted the woman responsible for winning Trump Florida in 2016.”
      By Marc Caputo, Matt Dixon, Alex Isenstadt, 09/20/2019
      “Wiles was fired from the Trump campaign Tuesday after DeSantis suspected she bore responsibility — unfairly her friends say — for the leak of internal correspondence showing how the new governor appeared to be selling access to special interests on golfing trips. Wiles was also pressured to part ways with Ballard Partners, a top state lobby firm.”

      “The brutal public defrocking of Trump’s advisor in the nation’s largest swing state — which has the utmost strategic and sentimental value to Trump — left many Republican insiders and Trump campaign officials fuming that Wiles was mistreated. They also think it’s detrimental to Trump‘s chances in Florida.”


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Sadly, and unlike Trump, Barr is a master bureaucrat in the Cheney mold. He would be well aware of the informal as well as formal ways to torch a bureaucrat’s beltway career – and even a political appointee’s.

      The simplest way is to put a security clearance under review. BushCheney was reported to have done this on a grand scale.
      It is illegal to do it as a reprisal, but good luck proving that.

      A review can drag on for years. It may not get an employee fired immediately, but it shuts them out of the work and the networking that is essential to their being effective. It can permanently torch a career.

      • Tom says:

        Thanks for that explanation, EoH. On today’s Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace, Frank Figliuzzi said that Trump’s phone calls to President Zelensky could constitute a federal crime as solicitation of a bribe. There was also discussion of the risk for Trump of trying to attack a popular figure such as Joe Biden by going after his one remaining son, Hunter. But there was general consensus that Trump’s natural habitat is the gutter.

    • Marinela says:

      Trump said he doesn’t know the identity of the whistleblower, but he also said he is a “partisan” whistleblower. Well, if you don’t know who he is, how can you tell if he is partisan.

      • Naargh Nargo says:

        Um, seems kinda obvious, doesn’t it? He doesn’t *need* to know *who* the WB is; in Trump’s mind, the WB is a threat, so that automatically makes him/her/(them?) “partisan”. Or worse.

    • Vicks says:

      Maybe it was Bolton
      The leaker may also be a rat fucker.
      We know what some of them look like.
      Rudy is a solid example.
      Was his show last night boiling the frog so it would to lessen the intensity of an upcoming bombshell?
      What if instead, Uncle Rudy was playing the Pied Piper and drawing all the rats into a trap?
      Watch their fucking hands

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        I don’t think there is any doubt the leakers to the WSJ and to other papers were from Trump’s cadre as they made sure to say to the WSJ that they did not think a quid quo pro was offered and arms were not mentioned.

        • vicks says:

          Yeah I was thinking that too.
          That, and suddenly there are multiple sources blabbing about information someone else felt required the protection of the whistle blower process?
          One source stated that Trump brought up going after Biden eight times in one call.
          Obnoxious as Trump is, it’s hard to believe it happened like that.
          It’s much easier to believe it’s an attempt to obfuscate the original description of multiple instances of red flagged behavior to a single instance where the same alarming was repeated eight times (in a very short period.)

          Hell, I don’t know, I just keep looking up for the other shoe and thinking about rats.
          And I think a bit about Van der Swan, Rick Gates, and Manafort getting together to come up with a smear campaign to justify Yanukovich’s ability to keep his political opponent (can’t remember her name) in jail.
          And I think about chants of “lock her up” and Hillary losing the election.
          I swear I am not a conspiracy nut, I seriously thought Trump was an ass-h*le that did a bit of magic math with his debt and never gave money to charity.

          • Vicks says:

            No one is talking about Rudy’s claim that he has sworn statements (that he won’t show Chris Cuomo) to back up the wild ass claims he made last night.
            It won’t matter if Rudy is lying. Trump has groomed his party well, they know the proper response, and almost daily, democrats failure to take a stand confirms team Trump gets the green light.

  45. Eureka says:

    I’ve got some timeline items, will elaborate later. I initially (in late April) thought that the purpose of Biden’s run might be to gaslight Trump, draw him to the Biden target. Maybe there is/was a lot more to that than suspected… perhaps Biden’s decision to run was more ‘informed’ than on the surface. That would explain a lot about his candidacy. Anyway:

    April 25, 2019: Biden announces candidacy via video; attends major fundraising dinner that night (Phila, PA) [Follows March “teasers” about needing help in a few weeks and the “tongue-slip”]

    Joe Biden is running for president, launches his 2020 campaign

    May 7, 2019: we learn US Ambassador to Ukraine pulled ahead of scheduled July departure (uh, see the lede, emphasis added):

    U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is recalled after becoming a political target

    The Trump administration has recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine abruptly and ahead of her scheduled departure, after she became a target of political attacks by conservative media outlets and Donald Trump Jr. Democrats see her early departure under pressure as the unfair targeting of a career Foreign Service officer by Team Trump.

    According to an internal State Department management notice that I obtained, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch will leave her post permanently on May 20, with no replacement in place and no nominations to fill that position. “We expect the Department to appoint a long-term Chargé d’Affaires to lead the mission until a new Chief of Mission is nominated and confirmed,” said the notice, which was sent to all mission personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. Incoming Deputy Chief of Mission Kristina Kvien plans to arrive in Kiev on May 28, and Joseph Pennington will continue to serve as chargé d’affaires and acting deputy chief through the transition period, the notice said.

    May 9, 2019: NYT on Rudy’s Ukraine-Biden strategy

    (also lots of Fox news appearances and storylines to fill-in here and above)

    May 10, 2019: Rudy backpedals (maybe this started on the 9th pm, need to check)

    May 18, 2019: Biden campaign kickoff rally (Philadelphia, PA)

    • Eureka says:

      Many additional moving parts outlined in WaPo linked above, e.g.:

      March 24: Trump Jr. tweets RW hit job on Ambassador Yovanovitch [WaPo also cites a separate Solomon piece attacking Yovanovitch on March 20th]

      [March 24th = aka the day of the Bill Barr “summary”]

      April 1: John Solomon conspiracy piece on Biden-Ukraine in The Hill

      Additional links for first comment, chronological order:

      Joe Biden, at Philly fund-raiser hosted by Comcast exec, says Trump has ‘shredded’ America’s moral fabric

      Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign – Wikipedia

      • Eureka says:

        One more item to draw out from WaPo link:

        Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reported that former congressmen Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to say that Yovanovitch “reportedly demonstrated clear anti-Trump bias.”

        One of Sessions’ claims to fame is stalling a June 2017 sanctions bill prior to a Trump-Putin meeting:

        In 2017, Sessions, as chairman of the House Rules Committee, stalled a bill imposing additional sanctions against Russia and Iran from moving to the floor; Sessions expressed the view that some parts of the bill, which passed the Senate on a 98-2 vote, could create “huge problems to companies in Dallas, Texas, that I represent” and place them at a competitive disadvantage.[47]

        In July 2018, Sessions argued that it was unnecessary to increase federal funding for election security.[48][49] The US intelligence community had concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and that it was continuing to interfere in election systems as of July 2018.[48][49]
        (internal links removed)

        Pete Sessions

    • Eureka says:

      May 1: Vogel & Mendel:
      Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies

      May 9th as noted above:
      Rudy Giuliani Plans Ukraine Trip to Push for Inquiries That Could Help Trump https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/us/politics/giuliani-ukraine-trump.html

      Of the infamous quote (via Vogel byline):

      “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel’s inquiry.

      • P J Evans says:

        There are two countries who should charge Rudy for that line about having a right to meddle in an investigation. (I don’t think so.)

        • Eureka says:

          Exactly. And he just keeps saying more blatant, criminal-sounding stuff. WaPo has a new item tonight and the Rudy quotes are outrageous:

          “Your country owes it to us and to your country to find out what really happened,” Giuliani said he told the Ukrainian president’s aide, Andriy Yermak, during the Madrid meeting.

          “I talked to him about the whole package,” said Giuliani…

          “My narrow interest is for the benefit of my client,” he said. [see article for context; not sure it helps]

          He says all this as:

          U.S. Embassy officials in Kiev repeatedly expressed concerns about the contacts between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials. They have not been privy to most of the discussions, and at times, have only learned later from the Ukrainians, who said they were unsure if Giuliani was officially speaking for the U.S. government, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

          I guess they (were to) “find out” if Rudy was speaking for USG if Trump (were to) complete the “package” as planned. Trump basically got rescued by this whistle-blower complaint from committing more qpq acts (not that getting caught red-handed seems to matter).

          How Trump and Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate the president’s rivals

            • Eureka says:

              Thanks, Frank- I had referred to it (“the Bloomberg…”), but not linked it (except secondarily within cites linked). It’s ‘the’ crucial take-down of Vogel & Mendel (May 1st).

              That (and at least a few other articles) should have stand-alone reference. Ran out of links-o-matic gumption.

              For purposes here, I had sketched a more proximate timeline thread around RW plots (especially the ouster of our Ambassador to Ukraine) and Biden’s candidacy, but yes, of course, there is a deeper historicity to the whole story. And that deeper history shows Rudy and Trump to be FOS.

    • Eureka says:

      (links cont./end)

      The 5-10-19 thread below links to Daily Kos which perhaps has the Bloomberg and other critical links:

      Eric Boehlert: “NYT is a complete mess last wk Vogel claimed Ukraine had “reopened” investigation into Biden. on Tues Bloomberg demolished claim, confirming there is no investigation Fri Vogel returns says Ukraine *might* reopen investigation…”

      Biden Delivers Call for National Unity at Philadelphia Rally
      May 18, 2019 · Throughout the Saturday afternoon rally, which security officials said drew 6,000 people, Mr. Biden and his campaign made frequent references to Philadelphia as the “birthplace” of democracy …

      In Philly rally, Joe Biden offers unity to replace Trump’s …
      Joe Biden excoriated President Donald Trump as America’s “divider-in-chief” in a speech Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, presenting himself as an antidote to the country’s searing political conflict as he staged the largest rally yet of his presidential campaign. “If the American people …

  46. Loon says:

    Something else for the timeline – Sept 7th and Sept xx. My apologies if it’s been mentioned and I overlooked it. harpie mentioned Trump’s answer to the eastern Ukraine question. Saw this today – it (Minsk II agreement) has been in the works for a couple of years so it may be a stand alone event – but … the timing of the announcement and withdrawal is so close to the other Ukraine events that it may bear watching. Ukrainian forces withdrawing from Donbass. Can’t help but wonder if the Russian backed forces will renege. Hard to imagine Putin not getting something out of this – if not now, later. He’s very good at biding his time.

  47. harpie says:

    4:38 PM – 20 Sep 2019

    After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.

    A president is sitting in the Oval Office, right now, who continues to commit crimes. He continues because he knows his Justice Department won’t act and believes Congress won’t either. Today’s news confirmed he thinks he’s above the law. If we do nothing, he’ll be right.

    Mitch McConnell is also complicit. The Senate must vote on the bill, already passed by the House, to help states and localities protect themselves from the foreign attacks on our elections that the President has previously welcomed.

    In 1974, Democrats and Republicans united in support of impeachment not out of mutual contempt for Nixon but mutual respect for the rule of law. Congress refused to be complicit in future law-breaking by Nixon or other presidents.

    It’s time for this Congress to step up and act.

    • Vicks says:

      Oh thank you!
      Liz for saying it out loud, and Harpie for posting it here.
      Every day that goes by, Nancy moves from being a enabler of the most corrupt, cruel and dangerous administration the United States has ever seen, to a co-conspirator in the crimes that are destroying our country
      When you ask the Pelozi-impeachment question in the simplest of terms, what the next step for “patriots” is becomes crystal clear.
      Question: Madame Speaker, If not now, when?
      Answer: Never
      I think the weekend should be time enough to decide if she is playing the country.

  48. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I vehemently disagree with the notion, long admired by Bill Barr, that the president cannot be subject to any legal process. Barr’s view is that were any [Republican] president to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, he would not just get away with it. He could not even be investigated for it while president.

    That’s a gross misreading of the Constitution. Impeachment deals solely with removal from office of a federal employee deemed glaringly unfit. The bar is high, a vote carried by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The process is time-consuming, its consequence is paltry: unemployment.

    For many crimes and other wrongs, that is stunningly inadequate. America is a nation of laws, not men, and no one is above its laws. Justice delayed is justice denied. If a president has time to commit the crime, he has time to do the time, and to be investigated for allegedly doing it.

  49. OldTulsaDude says:

    When the country elects Don Corleone president, and he has enough time to put his people into key positions, and he has the help of the other families who promise not to interfere, what do you do? What can you do?

    I really think it is time for Democrats to threaten to boycott the 2020 elections if Pelosi won’t act to impeach this lawless president. After all, what good are the Democrats with the power they were granted in 2016? Impeachment may only be symbolic at this point, but at least it is an act of courage, and it would force the Senate and the courts to show where their loyalties lie.


    • P J Evans says:

      Not a boycott, but rather voting blue *and* against all the no-impeachment Old Guard. (Don’t vote for Rs. Or former Rs.)

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        I don’t think the threat of being “primaried” is enough. I also don’t think the depth of resentment against Pelosi for her continued inaction is understood. There may be a boycott – called or not – simply because of growing apathy toward everyone in government.

        • P J Evans says:

          Boycotting the elections would make it so very much easier for the GOP-T to get everything they want, which is why we DON’T want a boycott.

          • OldTulsaDude says:

            Which is exactly why Pelosi must act. Without courage, she may get a boycott caused by a mix of disappointment, outrage, and apathy.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            It looks like establishment Dems are stuck in their arrogant, “Where else are liberals gonna go?” attitude.

            The answer is they don’t have to go anywhere. They can stay home. If Dem leadership persists in this approach, that’s what many will do on election day. And, poof! goes her majority.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      And then there is this:

      American Migration Patterns Should Terrify the GOP”

      “Millennial movers have hastened the growth of left-leaning metros in southern red states such as Texas, Arizona, and Georgia. It could be the biggest political story of the 2020s.”
      – Derek Thompson
      “In Arizona, from 2012 to 2016, Democrats narrowed their deficit in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, by 100,000 votes. Two years later, in the 2018 Senate election, the county swung Democratic, with Democrats gaining another 100,000 net votes.”

      “In Georgia, from the 2012 presidential election to the 2018 gubernatorial elections, the four counties comprising most of Atlanta and its suburbs—Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett—increased their Democratic margin by more than 250,000.”
      “Overall, the southern suburbanization of Democratic votes could be a force for good, not only for Democrats but also, perhaps, for the future GOP—and, therefore, for the country at large.”

      “Without changes to the Electoral College or to the distribution of Democratic votes, the U.S. may be doomed to replay the 2016 election for several more cycles. Coastal liberals will remain justifiably furious that their votes are systematically discounted, while rural conservatives will remain justifiably indignant that the heart of American business and media has flocked to cities that regard the countryside as a xenophobic backwater. The southern blue flood is not a cure-all for this schism. But if more white rural families join liberal transplants and non-white families in America’s diverse southern suburbs, Americans might discover, through the sheer fact of neighborly proximity, a less vitriolic and more optimistic political future.”


  50. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    I’m gunna order me a bumper sticker that says “Impeach Pelosi”. This coup is the direct result of the neolibs triangulating the Democrats out of the Democratic Party beginning in 1992. The foundation for this coup goes all the way back to GHW and Iran Contra and the contractor that put that foundation in place was Slytherin frat member Slime Tonsils Barr. It’s happening right now folks and there will be no 2020 election unless we blow it up right now. The rule of law has been eaten by the Federalist society. There is no compromising with fascism or fascists.

  51. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Perfect illustration of the problem of bothsiderism, and the contortions used to protect the Presidency, when the President deserves to be pilloried:

    The break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate Hotel raises some troubling questions about just what it is the Democrats are hiding there.

    Kevin Kruse:
    Lindsay Beyerstein:

    • Vicks says:

      Right here.
      Right now.
      Democrats have been gifted with what may be the best opportunity they will ever get to nail Trump, and instead of keeping their eye on the prize they are allowing team Trump to reframe the issue.
      “The real issue here is Biden”….
      It’s hard to watch well educated adults fall for a trick made famous by 8 year olds.
      “Maybe mom and dad will forget about me being naughty if I tell them all the things my big sister has done…”

  52. K-spin says:

    Three thoughts:
    1. Given all the speculation/ range of options, it goes to show how Congress has no idea what DJT is saying to any world leader. Which is troubling.
    2. While the evidence seems to be mounting that the call to Ukraine on 25 Jul is involved, I feel like there’s more to it, as the ‘promise’ highlighted by the WB would sounds more explicit than just the suggestion of a quid pro quo, as reported in that call.
    3. If the DOJ is – as it appears – arguing that that complaints about the president, that go through the correct channels, can’t reach congress, can Schiff reach out more aggressively to those with information? Sure, it’s a huge risk to a WB, but if the process is broken, why would anyone come forward if their primary goal (exposing the president’s crimes to those with the power to investigate them) is thwarted? I’m not just talking about this WB, but others who are willing but unable to expose the highest levels of corruption because they are being gagged by the corrupt individuals they are trying to expose. That is just crazy! Could Schiff offer legal WB protection for those who come straight to his committee?
    Interested to hear your thoughts.

    • K-spin says:

      I want to add too that we in Australia found it pretty galling that DJT was spruiking how he’s never ‘inappropriate’ with other world leaders while standing next to our current PM Scott Morrison (aka Sco-Mo).

      Because in his first phone call with Sco-Mo’s predecessor in Jan 2017, he forgot the Australian PM’s name at least twice, then had a tantrum and hung up on him!
      If he treats the leader of a key US ally that way (and yes Lordy there ARE tapes), how on earth can anyone in the US believe he’s communicating appropriately, and in the best interests of the US, with anyone?

  53. errant aesthete says:

    Here’s an idea even Nancy could live with:

    ‘Yes, there is something the House can do to punish Trump right now.’

    Censure the president.

    “The procedure for doing so is pretty straightforward, as spelled out in a recent report by the Congressional Research Service:

    Should a House committee report a non-Member censure resolution, the full House may consider it by unanimous consent, under the Suspension of the Rules procedure, or under the terms of a special rule reported by the Committee on Rules and adopted by the House. 17 If widespread support exists for the censure resolution, unanimous consent or the Suspension of the Rules procedure may be used. Otherwise, the resolution could be brought to the floor under a special rule reported by the Committee on Rules. All three of these parliamentary mechanisms require, at a minimum, the support of the majority party leadership in order to be entertained.”


    At least, Democrats would be on the official record as condemning Trump’s egregious behavior.

    [PLEASE do NOT disable links to trusted sources like the Washington Post by putting stupid brackets on them. It renders a perfectly good link useless]

    • bmaz says:

      Censure is pathetic and stupid. It accomplishes absolutely nothing. Tumulty is a dope for writing this pablum. It is literally worse than doing nothing. They get to preen around saying “See, we did something” when, in fact they did not. Screw that.

    • Marinela says:

      Can the house censure and also impeach? But impeach first, if the Senate doesn’t convict, then censure.

      Also, I read that the house can impeach after Trump is out of office, but why wait anyway?

      For optics perspective, I think it is better to impeach now, when the Senate is in GOP hands.
      If for some reason Senate convicts then it is a bipartisan affair, either way the Senate gets to vote.
      I see no good reason to wait until after the election.

      Nancy, please, please, don’t be afraid.

  54. Savage Librarian says:

    OT: Since Warren Buffett’s name has been invoked, and Marcy had a post about Byrne not long ago, I thought this might be of interest:

    “ Ex-Overstock CEO Sells $90m In Shares, Says ‘Deep State’ Out To Get Him” – Matt Shuham

    “…(Patrick) Byrne said, he came to the conclusion that his relationship with Butina had been part of a larger “political espionage” effort. He described Strzok as an “errand boy.”

    “Byrne claimed that his “Omaha rabbi,” Warren Buffett, convinced him to go public with his story.”

    “I know enough to fry the Deep State to ashes,” he wrote of the stock sale, adding: “If I had stayed at Overstock or even remained a large owner of OSTK, they would try to break Overstock as a way of crippling me.”
    “Asked about Byrne’s allegations that it had directed “political espionage” against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in 2016 — and that James Comey, Andrew McCabe and others were aware of the efforts — an FBI spokesperson declined to comment to TPM.
    Still, Byrne promised in his post that he is not yet done with his public pronouncements.”

    “Shellac’ is too weak a word for what I intend to do to the Deep State,” he wrote. “Sit back and enjoy the show.”


Comments are closed.