Trump Specifically Ensured Republicans Wouldn’t Know about His Extortion

Kurt Volker’s prepared testimony from yesterday has been released. It is very unconvincing in several places, particularly read in conjunction with his texts that makes it clear there was a quid pro quo tied to security assistance and aid. Most charitably, it reads like the narrative of someone whose intentions were good, but in denial about his actions in service of an ultimate outcome — the continued provision of aid to Ukraine.

As is well documented, I had long supported lifting the ban on lethal defensive assistance to Ukraine, advocated for the supply of javelin anti-tank systems, advocated for an increase in U.S. assistance, and urged other nations to provide more assistance as well.

The issue of a hold placed on security assistance to Ukraine also came up during this same time I was connecting Mr. Yermak and Mayor Giuliani. I did not perceive these issues to be linked in any way.

On July 18, I was informed that at an interagency (sub-PCC) meeting, OMB had said that there was a hold being placed on Congressional Notifications about security assistance to Ukraine. No reason was given.

A higher level interagency meeting (PCC) was then scheduled to take place to discuss the issue on July 23. I met in advance with the individual who would represent the State Department at that meeting, Assistant Secretary of State for Pol-Mil Affairs, R. Clarke Cooper. I stressed how important it was to keep the security assistance moving – for Ukraine’s self-defense, deterrence of further Russian aggression, as a symbol of our bilateral support for Ukraine, and as part of having a strong position going into any negotiations with Russia. He fully agreed and intended to represent that position at the PCC meeting. I also had separate conversations with the Pentagon and NSC staff to reiterate the same position.

I was told later that there was no outcome from the PCC meeting. That said, I was not overly concerned about the development because I believed the decision would ultimately be reversed. Everything from the force of law to the unanimous position of the House, Senate, Pentagon, State Department, and NSC staff argued for going forward, and I knew it would just be a matter of time.

As well, Volker avoids admitting this was partly about inventing dirt on Joe Biden by treating the possibility of election interference as credible, without any basis (and it’s clear he conducted this projection repeatedly in real time).

Concerning the allegations, I stressed that no one in the new team governing Ukraine had anything to do with anything that may have happened in 2016 or before – they were making TV shows at the time. Mr. Lutsenko, however, would remain in place until a new government was seated in a month or more. It was important to reach out and provide strong U.S. support for President-elect Zelenskyy.

I also said at that July 19 meeting that it is not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in anyway by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as Vice President. A different issue is whether some individual Ukrainians may have attempted to influence the 2016 election or thought they could buy influence: that is at least plausible, given Ukraine’s reputation for corruption. But the accusation that Vice President Biden acted inappropriately did not seem at all credible to me.

But the key new detail in Volker’s statement, beyond what we already knew, is confirmation that not only did OMB freeze assistance to Ukraine, but it also froze notifications about security assistance to Congress, effectively hiding the fact that Trump was using the aid authorized by Congress to extort election assistance from Ukraine.

On July 18, I was informed that at an interagency (sub-PCC) meeting, OMB had said that there was a hold being placed on Congressional Notifications about security assistance to Ukraine. No reason was given.

Withholding the aid is something Republicans were on the record opposing. Indeed, Mitch McConnell claims (credibly or not) that even he was not informed that Trump was withholding the aid to extort campaign assistance.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he was not provided an explanation for why the Trump administration held up aid to Ukraine when he pressed senior officials on the matter over the summer.

“I was not given an explanation,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday as the congressional furor grew over President Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

McConnell said he spoke to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo twice about the matter without receiving clarification for the delay in $391 million in aid to Ukraine.

“I was very actively involved in advocating [for] the aid. I talked to the secretary of Defense, the secretary of State once,” he said.

“The good news was it finally happened,” he added, noting the administration finally released the aid. “I have no idea what precipitated the delay.”

Whatever other story Republicans want to tell to excuse this behavior (and, as I said, McConnell’s claim here reads like CYA), Republicans should be furious that, first, Trump ignored the stated will of Congress on something they all claimed to care about and, second, that Trump’s OMB very specifically froze them out of notice they were entitled to have, as Congress.

Again, this scandal is not just about Trump demanding that other countries help him get reelected. It’s also about Trump defying the will of Congress to obtain leverage to extort that aid. Now we know that he even deliberately kept Congress in the dark about what he was doing.

Republicans surely will continue to excuse this behavior. But by doing so, they are utterly emasculating the prerogatives of Congress to do so.

Update: Multiple sources suggest that by August 31, Ron Johnson knew why aid was being held up, and by September 12, McConnell and James Inhofe did too.

280 replies
  1. Inkdreamer says:

    Marcy, I’m wondering about earlier reports, since overwhelmed by extortion news, that Ukraine has signed an agreement with Russia that effectively cedes Russsia-occupied territory to them. Sounds to me like Ukraine’s new president thinks Putin is more reliable than Trump. That’s a terrifying thought.

    • Rayne says:

      That may have been disinformation. The agreement was a cease-fire to allow the territory to hold elections. This part of Ukraine wasn’t able to participate in the parliamentary elections this past July — the same election for which Trump called on July 25 to congratulate Zelensky after his party took a majority of seats.


      Welcome to emptywheel, by the way.

      • David says:

        “Ukrainians are more alone than ever as Putin escalates, Trump coerces, Macron appeases, Steinmeier betrays, and Zelenskyy surrenders.”

        “Zelenskyy plays at being President of Ukraine, like he did on his TV show “Servant of the People.” Real power in Ukraine is in the hands of corrupt oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and two former members of the criminal Yanukovych regime: Andriy Bohdan and Andriy Yermak.”

        Michael MacKay
        [email protected]

        To ensure a bogus Russian-controlled election–like originally happened in Crimea–today the Ruskies are hellishly heavily bombarding Eastern Ukraine like never before . Step-by-step Russia will take over the whole of Ukraine–and then the Baltic states are next.

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “David”. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • Eureka says:

          Partly owing to Putin’s affection for optimizing Soviet history in the re-write, if largely else circumstantial, there are a lot of resemblances here with what happened to countries like Poland in the lead up to WWII.

          But now, Russia is in the then-German role, and Ukraine is in something like the then-USSR role, consulting well-meaning European allies for agreements to resolve or slow or halt land takeovers (today, Donbas, Crimea). As we know, back then, the Germans said screw the agreements and kept rolling towards recapture of what they viewed as their lands and then some.

          The most obvious resemblance is one of trying to humpty-dumpty the empire to the new dictator’s satisfaction deep in the wake of post-war territorial losses (for Germany, WWI; for Putin’s Russia, the Cold War). The mash-up part comes where US-NATO stability gets diminished to make that happen, with help from the likes of Trump and other cultivated “allies.”

          Historians will debate plenty of particulars. I can’t help but see some arcs on replay, especially from observing changes over time in internet representations of WWII, how they are influenced by Russian social media operations which dovetail with right-wing content*, and how it all intersects with global events. Yet another reason the world needs a reset back to the love of democracy, and away from this hard-right Bannon et al. proselytizing.

          *The neo-Patton hagiography counts as just one example. *Everybody knows* what actual WWII vets have or had to say about Patton, besides his record. Somehow, the right-wing ilk (including Gorka, of all people) have folks, including vets’ descendants who would know knew better before Fox-addiction addled their persons, all into some kind of Patton cult. No irony-detection detected. Russian sites and bots are fixated on replicating US WWII imagery. Etc.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            I must say, this analysis was as satisfying as my first morning cup of tea which I so look forward to each day. Thanks, Eureka!

            • Eureka says:

              Thanks, SL– I almost skipped this one, but felt compelled…

              It seems they are (once again) manipulating historical arcs by grafting the old to the new, with Putin and the right-wing using WWII imagery and speech to prime Americans for righteous totalitarian “war”– as participated or observed– by evoking righteous war against totalitarians.

          • Mooser says:

            “all into some kind of Patton cult.”

            Well, they believe that Scripture, the Holy Flic, is inerrant.

          • Mainmata says:

            Ukraine is definitely a major fixation for Putin. Ukraine was the second largest republic in the old Soviet Union after Russia and it was the Soviet Union’s breadbasket not to mention all the heavy industry in eastern Ukraine. So it is not surprising that just one week after it declared independence from the Soviet Union, the latter just collapsed altogether.

            I think that, while Putin might want to forcibly take over the whole of Ukraine, occupying the country against its will (and likely forcing a very destructive guerrilla war) just would not be worth it. Better to steadily chip away at Ukraine’s economic and political independence with flawed agreements.

            The analogy with Hitler’s Germany is somewhat apt but, while the terrible reparations and territorial seizures in the Treaty of Versailles really set the stage for the rise of Hitler and WWII, Russia cannot honestly “blame” the West for the internal collapse of the Soviet Union. That was a long time coming due to well-known structural political and economic problems. That and the fact that Russia has a lot of nuclear weapons, which Germany didn’t are important differentiators for the pre-WWII Germany analogy.

            • Molly Pitcher says:

              I agree with you completely, but expecting Russia to recognize reality and truth is a fools errand. To them, reality is what they say it is.

            • Eureka says:

              As I framed the comment from Putin’s point-of-view and activities at both the outset and the end— …what Molly said as to Russia.

              The resemblances (note my own word choice) weren’t between the outcomes of WWI and Cold War, nor based on a god’s-eye-view of their proprieties, but in how their subsequent, respective dictators behave(d) in retrospect of the injury of those events (i.e. from their points-of-view).

              I’ll add that while already contrasted in the initial text, the broken “agreements” I referred to at the start (and which most remind me of the Ukraine+ situation, and peoples’ fears about that and more) were those proximate to WWII, the violation of the last of which– by Germany’s invasion of Poland– formally started WWII.

              • Savage Librarian says:

                Yes! And yes! And I’ll add, I especially appreciate your unique, creative, diplomatic, and firm voice.

    • Charles says:

      The so-called Steinmeier Formula [1] is basically warmed-over Minsk II [2]. As long as Russian …military advisers… remain in the Donbas, there can’t be free elections with Ukraine in control of its borders, which are requirements of any settlement.

      The Russians mostly want the Donbas as a sacrifice zone, because the distance from Eastern Ukraine’s border to Moscow is something like 300 miles. Imagine Russian troops in Toronto and you get some sense of what Moscow’s bottom line is there. Accordingly, Russia’s war fighting strategy has first use of tactical nuclear weapons as the standard response. So, it’s not necessarily a bad thing (except for the people living in the Donbas for whom the occupation is a nightmare) for NATO troops to be unable to be that close to Moscow.

      But, like I say, the Donbas is just a land buffer. Sevastopol is probably more important in a geopolitical and national political sense. I strongly recommend Madariaga’s Catherine the Great to understand Russia’s actions.


  2. Americana says:
    Trump has just made it clear he’s going to fight this impeachment inquiry rather than cooperate as he claimed yesterday.

    [Yet another uselessly run on comment by Americana. We have bent over backwards to not consider Americana a troll or unwanted presence. He/She makes it relentlessly hard to do so. It is maddening, and especially so when the commenter think they understand what is in the minds of people they do not know from Adam]

    • timbo says:

      Pelosi needs to hold a full House vote on proceeding with the impeachment inquiry. If she fails in that vote, the DP should remove her as Speaker IMO. This is when those who actually believe in living in a free and safe society vs a glad-handing corrupt one need to put their votes on the record…

      • P J Evans says:

        You want her to be fired – AND THEN WHAT.
        Think about “after”, FFS. Because the next in line may be much worse. 9In case you missed it, the House runs on seniority.)

        • timbo says:

          I submit to you that if that vote is not held, we will never know… but we will likely have Trump around a lot longer than is healthy for the Republic.

          Because you cannot imagine someone more politically creative than Pelosi is not a reason to retain her IMO. There seem to be others who have the ability to run the House—or, are you saying there aren’t? Note that the Speakership is not about “seniority”, it’s about “votes” by Congressional members.

          I admit that it is hard to remove a Speaker between terms. However, if circumstances warrant it, it needs to be done. Pelosi, by not holding that vote this past Thursday, has permitted the Trump forces to rally around Constitutional points of law to avoid oversight and ignore the current non-state of impeachment by House subpoenas. It’s stupid but it’s true. On the other hand, if Pelosi does have the votes then Trump’s forces may have miscalculated. If Pelosi doesn’t have the votes then she has miscalculated. May Pelosi have the votes. And if she doesn’t, may the House get a Speaker that can put those votes together.

          • Rayne says:

            She has the votes — at least 224 of the 218 needed — which you should already know if you’re going to declaim on this. I’m not certain why she hasn’t dropped the hammer but it’s there to use.

            And it could have been predicted this administration would drag their feet any way they can to avoid compliance. They have since Day 1. What we should be asking is what happens when she’s forced to take this to a full House vote? What happens next?

            My greatest fear is that this particular Supreme Court will undo United States v. Nixon — the decision that said the president is not above the law — and then we’re in deep shit.

            And it’s this point she may well be concerned about, may be dragging this out so that the administration is tried in court of public opinion so that the House Dems are not forced to contest non-compliance and undo democracy should this SCOTUS be as corrupt as Kavanaugh appears to be.

            • timbo says:

              The survival of SCOTUS as a legal body depends on the notion that the President is not above the law. That’s the one things making reversal of US vs Nixon extremely problematic.

              • P J Evans says:

                Tell that to the people who are having trouble voting because part of the VRA was struck down. This court doesn’t give a sh*t about precedent, if it can be tossed to give conservatives and the rich more control.

              • Rayne says:

                Duh. The reversal is problematic and it’s possible with this SCOTUS. Imagine them saying that Trump’s tax returns are entitled to privacy even though his financial statements submitted as president don’t match what we know and his former attorney has sworn before Congress that Trump’s asset values have been jiggered, suggesting insurance and tax fraud.

                That’s just one such point where the SCOTUS could fuck with U.S. v Nixon.

                And don’t tell me this SCOTUS wouldn’t do it.

                • BobCon says:

                  My guess is they block the House on narrow grounds or even stall a decision until after the election. I think they want to keep US v. Nixon alive to use against a Democrat.

                  • Rayne says:

                    That’s assuming we can get a Democratic president.

                    The other rationales I can see for the stall are 1) pushing House as late as possible to force GOP to fish or cut bait on Trump as a candidate for 2020; 2) waiting for Trump’s highly-possible physical and mental collapse.

                    • timbo says:

                      Well, it certainly is getting later and later for the GOP to come up with a viable alternative. For instance, Pence is kind of like Santorum-on-steroids…

                      It IS interesting though how Romney has worked his way into the Senate and started to shift towards voting to convict already…

                      “Oh, but how many knives are sharpened… and in which direction?!”

                    • BobCon says:

                      I tthink tthey would love the opportunity to dodge a ruling, but I don’t think they’ll be able to last that long.

                      If a democrat is elected, I think they will be signalling open season for lawsuits that will expand on Clinton v. Jones and basically force a Democrat to answer to whatever Jacob Wohl dreams up.

            • Ruthie says:

              As I said above, find it impossible to imagine this being resolved without recourse to the Supreme Court. And if that’s the case, we would seem to be reliant on the whim of John Roberts. Is he sufficiently concerned about how he’ll be remembered by history.

            • timbo says:

              She appeared to have the votes on Friday, that’s true. There’s a difference between that and an actual vote though…

              However, it does seem that perhaps the tide is shifting here against Trump as the hours wear on. It’s too bad that these criminals in office will have two weeks before a full House vote can be called… as the conspiracy to violate various campaign, bribery, and extortion laws, etc, to obstruct justice, etc, involve at least two key Cabinet members and possibly others… that’s a lot of firepower but hopefully not enough to bring an end to the Enterprise… hopefully.

              • Rayne says:

                She appeared to have the votes on Friday, that’s true. There’s a difference between that and an actual vote though…

                Oh sure. Like any House Dem will backtrack on their commitment *now*. Give me a break.

                I have no idea why you’re expending the energy on this. It is what it is. The inquiry will continue even as the rest of the House is on break holding town halls and meeting constituents. That’s part of their jobs, too.

                • timbo says:

                  Is that before or after Trump gets foreign governments to dig up dirt on his opponents in the Congress… ;( At least we aren’t there yet, are we?

            • Mainmata says:

              Sorry, I’m a little confused at this discussion. There are two HOR votes: I) a vote to officially declare an impeachment inquiry and 2) a vote on the actual Articles of Impeachment. Pelosi has said that the first vote is unnecessary and that Trump is just using this vote as an excuse to not cooperate. The second vote on the Articles of Impeachment, AFAIK, is not optional. It is essential to sending the Articles to the Senate for the subsequent trial.

              • Rayne says:

                1) House-wide vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry — Pelosi says it’s not necessary because the Constitution doesn’t spell out such a requirement, but this will be a reason the White House will force the House Dems to court.

                Let’s not engage in denial and by thinking the White House won’t engage in every tactic to avoid compliance with House Committees’ requests and subpoenas. If the White House wants to argue the lack of authorization the House will either have to develop some novel tactic to ‘encourage’ compliance or take a House-wide vote and in a way that elicits improved public opinion of impeachment inquiry.

                2) A vote on the Articles of Impeachment is actually two votes — one by the House Judiciary, authorizing them to move to the full House, and a House-wide vote to impeach based on the HJC-authorized Articles. But the Article are prepared as a result of the impeachment inquiry.

                After the House-wide vote on the Articles, “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”

                Bold mine; source, Article I, Section 3, subsection 6.

            • SelfAbsorbed says:

              Congress is on recess, has been since September 30, but that’s a Monday and I don’t think they do things on Fridays so that would mean they haven’t been there since Thursday, September 26. I think they brought up the whole house vote partially because the WH knows Congress isn’t in session so Pelosi can’t call a full House vote. It just gives them time to stall, and cover to say it’s not obstructing.

          • Teddy says:

            There is no “constitutional point of law” regarding a requirement of a vote to begin an impeachment inquiry by the full House. Sure, Trump and his minions will rally around *anything* in order to throw up chaff and flak, but… none of it matters, really. The president has committed impeachable offenses in plain view, and continues to do so.

            Any irregularity you perceive in Pelosi’s initiation of impeachment proceedings is based entirely in GOP/Fox talking points.

            • IValueMyPrivacy says:

              What do current House rules say? I tried to find out but had no luck.

              [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name; you last used ‘ivaluemyprivacy’. Pick one and stick to it. Thanks. /~Rayne]

            • timbo says:

              Is the Speaker specifically empowered to begin article of impeachment hearings and issue subpoenas on their own? I’m asking as that would require some sort of rules within the House to exist that were ratified by majority vote, would it not? So, is the Speaker so empowered by the Rules of the House or…?

              • timbo says:

                To answer my own question:

                It appears that the Judiciary Committee is empowered to do this. However, the Trump regime has indicated that they will not honor subpoenas from standing House committees, specifically including that committee.

                This would require at minimum some response from the Congress… which is currently on break… Trump’s supporters have basically required a politically sustainable response from the House. What will that be… short of a full House vote on beginning the procedure to formulate articles of impeachment?

            • timbo says:

              In reading on this further I have determined that you may be right. However, it appears that it may have been unwise. Only time will tell.

              PJ Evans has directed me to reading resources that are helpful here. Have you got any materials you would suggest reading on the subject?

      • Vince says:

        “Pelosi needs to hold a full House vote on proceeding with the impeachment inquiry. If she fails in that vote, the DP should remove her as Speaker IMO.”

        Please cite WHERE in the constitution it states that an Impeachment Inquiry requires a vote of the entire House. Not to mention the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee.

        • timbo says:

          Vince, individuals in the House can’t just start investigating anything they wants on the whim of one or a few members. That is, the powers the House uses, that each House member has, must have some basis in power from the House itself as a body in some sort of agreement.

          In the case of the Speaker for the House, certain powers have been delegated to the Speaker to streamline the organization of the House and to make the use of its powers more efficient. Similarly, the House, as a body, has developed rules that give certain powers to committees and individual House members themselves, etc, etc, etc, blah blah blah.

          You assert that it is not required yet provided no references upon which to support your assertion. And I submit to you, whether it is required or not, it is certainly more desirable to have that vote done than not.

          Along those lines, I pointed out something that might have been a problematic error in political judgement on Pelosi’s part with regard to handling of this instance of an impeachment inquiry. I did not state that there was any Constitutional basis for or against her having made a possible mistake… other than my strongly suggesting that there might have been political miscalculation.

          I continue to hope that the miscalculation was actually mine and not her’s in this matter.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            I can’t help but wonder if there is some actual or perceived advantage in still maintaining the focus on the 6 committees and their leadership. Maybe there is a procedural or functional aspect that we are not privy to. But, regardless of what the hold up is, this thing is not going away. History is here and now. And soon herstory will be in the making.

            • Frank Probst says:

              Each committee appears to be reasonably focused on its specific area of oversight. The big downside to this is that the House has less power than it would if were operating with a single committee (the Judiciary) that had the backing of a full vote of the House members. The big upside is that the Administration is taking flak from six different directions, when it clearly can’t even handle it from one direction. This chips away at Trump’s public support and makes him look more and more desperate, and it’s making things more and more difficult for Congressional Republicans. There are a few who are still out there spouting Trump talking points, but there are a lot more who have gone silent. Look how much has changed in a week. Now imagine how much will happen if something starts to break like this with one of the other five committees. It’s looking like we may see a series of corrupt actions that were taken to prevent Trump’s taxes from getting into public view, along with Trump’s taxes. (I raise this as one possibility, not a probability.) Trump can scream “DEEP STATE!!!” and try to discredit the Committee Chairperson involved, but someone (probably Trump himself) is likely to confirm that those really are his taxes. Every rock that gets turned over has something slimy under it. I thought this was a bad strategy at first, but after the last week, the Dems seem unified and solemn, and Trump seems increasingly unhinged (#impeachmittromney). I’m happy to wait a little bit longer and see how this plays out over two or three more weeks.

              • Savage Librarian says:

                Yes, thanks Frank! That’s the magic sauce. Just the right amount for the cooked geese. i appreciate you spelling it out for me. Sometimes I get stuck in the tangles

      • Yogarhythms says:

        Timbo 4/10/2019 4:49PM
        There is no reason or rule requiring house vote. Timbo What’s your basis asserting need for vote at this moment?

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah? And there is no rule, reason or precedent stating unequivocally that there is not a need for a resolution. If you have one, post it here and now. I know for a fact you do not.

          When Pelosi has the votes for it, why in the living hell would any sane person think it okay to leave this stupid issue hanging in the wind? Do you understand the difference between a clear and unequivocal Constitutional inquiry resolution and this rhetorical unknown crap?

          You ever argued in court with your best and most unequivocal argument (a straight up Constitutional one at that) left on the table and courts asking why you would do that? Do you understand that, if this gets to the Roberts Court, they may well not agree with Pelosi’s dereliction of duty and lack of intelligent process?

          Please answer all those questions. And I do not think you can.

          • OldTulsaDude says:

            Pelosi appears to want to wait at least until at least after this recess in order to give the newer members of her caucus the chance to go home and have direct talks about impeachment with their constituents, or continue to duck and weave as some have.

            At the same time, it is necessary to have loaded all the chambers of your pistol when you go in front of the Roberts court. I would think an official impeachment vote will come sooner rather than later, especially since Nadler got handed his ass on his motion to consolidate..

            IANAL but I would think the vote timing will hinge on the importance placed on obtaining materials via court action.

            • bmaz says:

              What a load of fucking shit. So, you admit that Pelosi is still choosing her political expediency over her sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution?


              • OldTulsaDude says:

                No doubt she is. Personally, I would like to see the House use inherent contempt and jail the assholes, but that is not going to happen. The House needs to formalize the impeachment inquiry; meanwhile, the political reality is to do so without killing the chances to keep the House majority next year.

                • bmaz says:

                  Exactly. That is precisely why the conflation of opening an inquiry with voting articles of impeachment out for trial in the Senate has been so dangerous for months.

                  They are NOT the same thing. Pelosi thought she would never get to this point, but here we are. And her disingenuous argument over many months is coming back to bite her. That is unfortunate for the country though, not just her.

                • bmaz says:

                  And, apologies about being overly pointed, and I think I was. Not just generally, but specifically, this issue just drives me nuts. It was not only predictable, it was predicted. It was not you, just the bigger issue I was responding and reacting to.

                  • Frank Probst says:

                    I agree with you that they should have voted on this months ago, but I have a technical question for you, and I’m not trying to be a smart ass. If Pelosi is Speaker of the House, and she says it’s an impeachment inquiry, wouldn’t that be something that would go straight to the House parliamentarian? I was kind of surprised that that didn’t happen here. I was expecting an immediate response from the parliamentarian saying, “That’s not how this works.” But it was just crickets.

                    • timbo says:

                      No. The Judiciary committee is empowered to begin impeachment inquiries on its own. Traditionally this has NOT been done where Presidential impeachments are concerned however.

                      There are further rules about how articles of impeachment and impeachment inquiries. Each House member has the right to bring up a such matters on their own at just about any time on the floor. In general, for example, these things are then typically punted or tabled although the rules do seem to allow an immediate priority to such motions from the floor and, if not tabled, can be voted on before resuming debate on other matters.

                      A vote, however, is not required, and, as I said earlier, the Judiciary committee can move ahead on an inquiry, with power to subpoena, etc, without a formal House vote to support a particular inquiry. Such a vote is generally held if/when the committee, or the House leadership in general, feel it is politically expedient… right now it seems very wise to hold that vote so as to prevent further spurious stonewalling by the Trumpites.

  3. General Sternwood says:

    >Mitch McConnell claims (credibly or not) that even he was not informed that Trump was withholding the aid to extort campaign assistance

    Even though he spoke to two cabinet secretaries about it? Perhaps not informed *by US sources* but he got it straight from Moscow? Or perhaps 2020 campaign assistance was not the stated objective, but instead discrediting the 2016 election Russia probe was? Turtles are not great truth-tellers, so you have to parse their denials carefully.

    • BobCon says:

      McConnell assumes, probably correctly, if Trump loses we’ll see a replay of 2009. If a Democrat wins, they will have campaigned on a reform platform. The press will forget the GOP’s nightmares and blow up any allegation, no matter how small. We’ll see replays such as Tom Daschle becoming radioactive for minor tax issues.

      The press hates the situation they are in, and are desperate for the 1990s. McConnell is expecting he will never have to pay for Trump. He may well be right.

  4. alfredlordbleep says:

    War powers are the standard example of Congress ceding authority to the Executive. But the fiasco of the Boland amendment and Reagan’s non-impeachment is a great Cold War lesson in legislative fecklessness. Current comparisons and contrasts come to mind.

    The Amendment sought to block Reagan administration support for the Contra rebels. The amendment was narrowly interpreted by the Reagan administration to apply to only U.S. intelligence agencies, allowing the National Security Council (NSC), which is not labeled an intelligence agency, to channel funds to the Contra rebels. To block the funding through the NSC, the amendment was changed to prohibit any funds for military or paramilitary operations.[3][4]

    Administration officials argued that the Boland Amendment, or any act of Congress would not interfere with the president’s conduct of foreign policy by restricting funds, as the president could seek funds from private entities or foreign governments.[5] In this spirit, and despite the Boland Amendment, Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter, USN, and his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, USMC, secretly diverted to the Nicaraguan contras millions of dollars in funds received from a secret deal that some alleged had explicit presidential approval – the sales of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran in spite of Reagan’s public pledge not to deal with terrorists.

    —see wikipedia entry for citations
    [emphasis added]

    • Rayne says:

      Where this comparison breaks down is the characterization of Trump’s abuse of Article II power for his personal benefit as conduct of foreign policy.

      Trump asking for foreign assistance to investigate his political opponents for the benefit of his re-election campaign is solicitation of a bribe, extortion when withholding aid, a campaign finance law violation, and when awarded by a foreign power receipt of an emolument. It isn’t foreign policy which benefits our country and allies.

      By bringing up the issue of the conflict between Congress and the executive on foreign policy, you highlight a critical flaw: when the president is NOT elected by the popular vote but instead elected by the electoral college, there is an inherent risk that policy the majority wants will be subverted by a minority granted excessive power by the electoral college.

      The majority of Americans want policy executed one way, selecting a Congressional majority to legislate it, and yet a minority have chosen an executive who will not execute policy legislated, in violation of his oath of office and the Constitution.

      • Chaparral says:

        “Trump asking for foreign assistance to investigate his political opponents for the benefit of his re-election campaign is solicitation of a bribe, extortion when withholding aid, a campaign finance law violation, and when awarded by a foreign power receipt of an emolument.”

        Rayne, may I quote you? Repeatedly.

        I need some way to explain to the Trumpians out here in the hinterlands why this is Wrong. Not an argument. An explaintion. You have just explained the legal nut of it. I don’t hold much hope for communicating the national security risk of this. But I think I can make a case for the idea that you don’t invite the neighbors into your family fights.

        Generally, folks around here avoided talking politics in public for the last few years since the, as my Canadian friends call it, distemper has taken hold in so many people. After Trump is gone, we need a way to reintegrate the cult members back into general society.

        I am honestly concerned about how we are going to communicate to the frightened and angry after their hero is lost.

        • Rayne says:

          Sure, but you should look up bribery, extortion, campaign finance law with regard to receiving anything of value from foreign nationals, and emoluments.

          If they don’t argue that it’s legal when the president does it (it’s not), they’ll try to argue it’s not one/all of those things and you’ll need to be versed.

          Personally I don’t argue with people who are so lost as to still think Trump isn’t a crook. They’re brainwashed and I don’t have the time or the skills to deprogram these people. I’d rather spend it registering new voters or encouraging previous voters to check their registration.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Let’s also remember about that time Poppy Bush’s claim he “wasn’t in the loop” for any of it. No one really believed it then or now, since he was formerly the CIA Director and still had friends. Recall how Bush I pushed back about the “jack booted thugs” before “Deep State” became the phrase du jour.

      • notjonathon says:

        George HW wasn’t just in the loop, he was in the ring, as the ringleader. If Cheney was the puppeteer of George W’s Presidency, George HW was the shadow President during the Reagan Maladministration. Nancy was in charge of palace intrigue, while George ran the policy end (especially foreign policy.

    • BobCon says:

      Another part of the problem with the Boland Amendment is that Congress didn’t follow up with its inherent power of the purse in other areas. They have the authority to attack pet projects of every president, and potentially more important, the pet projects of a president’s natural allies. Even if the president has undue influence over foreign policy, they should be thinking hard about Congress sticking it to them in other areas.

      There is a long running reluctance of congressional appropriators to play hardball, and as a result presidents have operated in vacuums. If a president’s allies don’t feel the heat of cancelled contracts and sudden cash flow problems, the president will be hard pressed to care about Congress.

  5. alfredlordbleep says:

    Highlight in quote (italic not recognized by site software):
    . . . any act of Congress would not interfere with the president’s conduct of foreign policy by restricting funds, as the president could seek funds from private entities or foreign governments. . .

  6. David Chamberlin says:

    Thanks for all the astute legal prospectives provided by the posts and follow up comments provided here. I can’t add to those conversations for lack of expertise but they allow myself and many others to see things from that perspective.

    First of all we are all preaching to the choir, we all loathe and despise Trump so I wont repeat the sentiments of others. Gaming out the probable future isn’t very hard. The republican base is incapable of comprehending that Trump is a lousy president. It doesn’t matter why, it is what it is. Republican Senators are not going to commit career suicide by voting to impeach as long as the base remains loyal to Trump. 538 is my go to news blog for polling and what they are telling me is this. People have made up their mind about Trump. There is almost no change no matter what happens and looking forward we shouldn’t expect very much. Please stop assuming people are intelligent and open minded because they aren’t, and this is particularly so with the Trump base. Trump can crush any Republican running against him in the primary and he will get his ass womped by Biden so he is trying his best to eliminate him from the field. So crazy and illegal as his tactics are, they do make sense from his evil standpoint. What he is doing may be insane from the perspective of a bright lawyer, which is what most of you are, but is effective from the perspective of an advertiser trying to push brand name recognition. What Trump is doing is selling Biden=dirty just like and advertiser sells Budweiser=good beer. It works.

    I will go back to being a reader now, and thanks again for your lively and interesting conversations.

  7. Jenny says:

    Thank you Marcy for an in-depth explanation. This is all playing out in front of the cameras and the GOP deny it is happening.

    “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” Isaac Asimov

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Beg to differ: ignoring does not solve problems; it only makes them fester and infect the system.

      • Jenny says:

        Yes, agree. Point is, GOP denying the problem exists, therefore they have solved the problem denying the problem exists. Yes, do not deny because it does create more problems and cover ups.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Asimov’s quip was about the politics of avoiding responsibility. You’re talking about reality. Different things.

  8. LeeNLP says:

    My gut instinct is to believe that Trump’s inner circle’s plan was to get foreign investigations going, then Barr could use those to predicate his own investigations into the Bidens (perhaps others) during the 2020 election year.

    This has been complicated by recent and ongoing revelations. Thank God for whistleblowers and deep investigative reporting like Marcy’s.

  9. fpa4356 says:

    I think Rachel’s articulation last night most succinctly and effectively conveys why impeachment is proper: Trump has proven conclusively that even when our national security is at stake, Trump prioritizes his own (corrupt) interests over those of our country’s, and as such he is unfit for the job. He does not “serve” any of us; rather, he serves himself. Every time.

    • Vinniegambone says:

      I wish someone, and I mean someone in the media, could elaborate how and why what Trump is doing poses National Security Risk. It would help if someone spelled it out, because just to say it threatens national security does not mean your average voter understands why it is so. It is not easily apparent to many who if they did understand why it is so might be persuaded how bad this is. Extortion 101 no doubt on Trump’s part, but seems slimy Biden’s kid got the job to begin with, so self serving, stupidly bad move if Daddy’s planning on running for president . Biden aside, the pressure by Trump was in his actions, more so than in his words. Warren looking better and better. They’re going to try to kill her with the everything free for everybody depiction which she must be able to justify to win. I put her on par with Harry Truman who, if alive, would have long ago hunted Trump down and smacked him in the puss as hard as he could… So scared for our country and our children’s future.

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        Heard radio report Ukraine $$$ finally released only after arms manufacturers lobbyist raised holy hell with their paid for congressmen. No threat to national security, but a but big threat to lockheed martin/ raytheon coffers. No wars- No profits.

        • Mooser says:

          “No threat to national security…”

          So squeezing Ukraine between Trump and Putin was just lagniappe? A bit more profit to be eked out of the deal?
          Maybe the fact that the US, in concert with Russia, does business that way has some effect on our national security?

      • Americana says:

        No one is able to do what you’re demanding because it would be a hypothetical exercise from the get-go. Although I’m sure there are intelligence folks who could construct hypothetical scenarios, it wouldn’t serve the purpose of enlightening people because Trump would claim it was “fake news”.

        It should be clear from Trump’s sharing of the code-word classified Israeli-procured intelligence on ISIS’ new lap top bomb w/the Russians in the Oval Office that Trump is willing to trade in intelligence information. Was that the first example of Trump attempting to deftly achieve a quid pro quo and ensuring Trump Tower Moscow gets built? That’s a long term question…

  10. Chaparral says:

    I’ve been a lurker here for about a week. Feel like I’ve just added a wing to my internet house. Or maybe a bomb shelter.

    I am boggled, baffled at why we are at this point. The Mueller report never got to the juicy parts about the Russians. Trump got out of this uncut. So why are we still on this??? Why can’t we just get back to the business of dismantling the functions of government? Isn’t there somebody in that shop that could say daily, ‘hey boss don’t worry about that old stuff, we’ve got things to do, look at this nice wall.’?

    It’s not just vengeance and retribution. They’re working hard to gin up interest in conspiracy theories that have already been factually disproven. Smoke and mirrors. Trump doesn’t know it but the people around him certainly know they are chasing bogus bullshit. How can we, the American people, believe that any problem with Crowdstrike calling out the DNC hack really matter when Russian hacking of the DNC and so many others has been proven over and over and over. Underneath all this is the hard floor, the concrete base that the Dutch intelligence service hacked the GRU and watched realtime the DNC attack.

    This was after the Dutch had watched realtime and alerted US forces to the earlier Russian GRU attacks on the State Department and the Whitehouse.

    There has been a series of RUSSIAN MILITARY ATTACKS ON THE UNITED STATES. How could that pass unnoticed? Why was that not shouted over and over from the rooftops by any patriotic American who ever got a sound bite or a photo op? Please allow me a feel good moment. One more time, THE RUSSIAN MILITARY HAS ATTACKED THE UNITED STATES! But… that’s old news and I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. Everybody does it so, it’s OK. Isn’t that what Trump told Kislyck when he gave him the ISIS intel source?

    That brings us to what is actually OK. Everyone knows that Trump has no concept of right and wrong. But to any American with a basic belief in democracy(or any little belief at all in democracy) it should be crystal clear that accepting help or requesting help from a foreign country in an American election is WRONG. Obviously WRONG. Morally, intellectually, politically, legally WRONG. The first time we heard “Russia if you’re listening” there should have been chants of ‘lock him up’. And now this… person feels free to brazenly, blatantly ask for foreign help with his re-election. We are a country of laws aren’t we? Isn’t the some legal way to stop this? The Federal Election Commission would be the first stop but they’re out of business because the prez won’t nominate any new members. Whatdaya wanna bet that continues through the next election cycle?

    And the impeachment process, the other legal remedy, is truly pointless until the Senate Republicans awaken from their braindead coma. The Senate is really baffling. I understand the party pressure and that everybody everywhere wants to keep their job, BUT – these are old guys. They were raised up by that “greatest generation”. They grew up in a time when church goin’ white folks knew fer sure that lyin’, cheatin’, and stealin’ is wrong. Not, it’s OK for a good cause or it’s OK if everybody’s doing it. Lyin’, cheatin’, and stealin’ is just WRONG. Always WRONG. In their boyhood, that was beat into them with a ruler and a switch. None of their mothers would approve of this. But now… none of that matters in the face of wealth and power.

    We are hornswoggled. My mind is boggled and my brain hurts. Somebody else keep the tally while these kids chase their greased pigs. I’m going out to the truck to find my flask. Pretty sure it’s behind the seat next to my gun. Thank god the Walmart still sells my long gun ammo.

    • Ring says:

      “And the impeachment process, the other legal remedy, is truly pointless until the Senate Republicans awaken from their braindead coma. The Senate is really baffling.”

      Nah…not when you consider the fact that they want to maintain their death grip on power. There’s almost nothing they’d probably not be willing to shrug off because Trump really is their “great white hope”. Demographics are killing them (or will be soon). They can’t win an honest election (which is why we see voter ID and gerrymandering).

      Defying Dear Leader means pissing off the hardcore base, which is only around 20-25% of the country, but that might be the party’s death knell if they lose the presidency and the Senate. So for now, they’ll probably continue licking the Orange One’s boots and pretending that the real scandal is Biden, because they long ago decided that party > country.

      • Chaparral says:

        Good point Ring. The Republican party as we know it, will very soon not win a fair and honest election for a generation to come. Yahhh… let that one sink in for a minute. Will not win a fair and honest election for a generation to come. The pendulum has swung. And of course, it will swing back someday. Just like it always does. That’s what we told ourselves a quarter of a century ago in ’94 when my governor Ann Richards, who hadn’t done a thing wrong and was probably one the best Texas governors of all time, was beat by the bumbling, uninformed, and inexperienced George W. Bush simply because he was a big R Republican. (and he was plugged into big oil money from Midland)

        Up until that time, it used to be that you treated the minority party with some modicum of respect. Of course you were the majority party so you did whatever you wanted. Pushed ’em around a little if you had to. But you respected the minority as equals. You included them whenever wherever you could. Both politically and socially. These are your neighbors. This was enforced by the unspoken knowledge that the pendulum will swing. It always does. You treat them with respect because when their turn inevitably comes to be in charge you want to be treated with respect. Sounds simple, eh? That was the foundation of civility in politics.

        But sadly, it doesn’t seem to work that way anymore. Even the old guys in the Senate now cut their teeth on the Newt Gingrich/Rush Limbaugh go for the throat politics of the mid 90s. (The underlying event that made all of this possible FCC’s refusal to enforce the Fairness Doctrine. “The FCC vote was opposed by members of Congress who said the FCC had tried to “flout the will of Congress” and the decision was “wrongheaded, misguided and illogical.”.[27] The decision drew political fire, and cooperation with Congress was one issue.[30] In June 1987, Congress attempted to preempt the FCC decision and codify the Fairness Doctrine,[31] but the legislation was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Another attempt to revive the doctrine in 1991 was stopped when President George H.W. Bush threatened another veto.[32]”

        Since then, an entire media industry has blossomed founded entirely on inflaming fear and loathing in the general populous for anything ‘liberal’ or god forbid, ‘socialist’. And they have now had a full generation to beat that drum. Add in the insane lockstep with Grover Norquist’s no tax at all forever thing. And the Koch brother’s buyout of the intelligensia and every election they could wrangle. Then of course the radical religious folks had to get their licks in too. It’s honestly sad since we should have had a generation of coherently conservative policies that could allowed us to have stability and progress as a nation.

        There is nothing inherently wrong or destructive about conservative political policies. But since this current generation of conservatism was founded on an amoral attack and destroy mentality, what we got is the gum it up, starve it out, tear it down form of government we have today. Hell, you can’t even call them conservatives anymore. Just Republicans. But you are entirely right Ring. From now on every Republican will have to prove they won fair and square, since they are now the party who are the defenders of liars, cheaters and thieves. I can see how, what would otherwise appear to be insanity, would make sense to them. I guess their mama’s raisin’ has been overruled.

        They are not going to go quietly into the night. This ain’t gonna be pretty.

        I hope that when the dust settles we can have some sense of civility that let’s all of us work together for the common good of the American people.

        [FYI, your text has been edited with insertion of paragraph breaks for ease of reading. Long unbroken expanses of text are difficult to read on computer screens and mobile devices. Best practice is 100 word maximum per paragraph. /~Rayne]

      • vicks says:

        I agree.
        Republicans aren’t brain dead.
        They are holding their breath to see how many of the obstacles that have been blocking the path between their party and it’s promised land Donald Trump, their hired super-villian can knock out of the way before he gets shut down.
        It the same thing with the ee-van-gel-i-cals.
        At first lawmakers were a bit squeamish, a few of them bowed out, now they don’t even bother to pretend,
        Trump is making progress, our institutions are weakened, national security is vulnerable, the country is divided, Republicans know they have to make hay while the sun shines.
        I three years we have become a country it’s hard for some to recognize, but clearly this is the only way for the far right to get the worst of its policies in place.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Or maybe they are brain dead. The original Fruit Loops came out in 1963, in only red, orange and yellow. Who knows what that did to kids’ brains. Too bad a survey couldn’t be done to see how many of the kids who ate those are Republicans ;-) At least Kellogg’s no longer advertises on Breitbart. And they are concerned about climate change.

          • P J Evans says:

            “Trix” had puffed corn-based cereal in those colors too. (We mostly got “Cheerios”. My parents didn’t approve of sugared cereals; we could sweeten our own if we felt the need. Honey doesn’t end up on the bottom of the bowl.)

    • P J Evans says:

      Mueller got to the Russian stuff – most of it was turned over to the intelligence people. He couldn’t prove conspiracy, because some of the critical stuff was destroyed or hidden.

      • Chaparral says:

        PJ, there have been numerous comments here about how the details of the meeting with Kislyck and Laverov were hidden on the high level security server. Along with plenty of other incriminating conversations that were hidden for concealment not security. Mueller never got near the direct connection to Trump. Along with the fact that his criminal indictees, Manafort, Popadopulos, and no doubt the upcoming Stone, lied their asses off based on the public promise of a pardon. The only honest man among them was, dare I say it, the fixer Michael Cohn. Mueller found the shaft but he didn’t find the gold mine.

    • timbo says:

      You seem to be neglecting the campaign finance crimes that Trump and Michael Cohen were involved in in the 2016 election. That had zero to do with the Russians but was a crime nonetheless. The fact that the DP leadership and GOP ignored those crimes tells one a lot about the corruption in our current political parties. A lot.

    • timbo says:

      Yeah, I note that he didn’t say whether or not it was criminal in nature. It is. The laws are on the books about what Trump and his Senate confirmed goons have been up to.

  11. Marinela says:

    This seems important.

    More clarifications as facts are coming up.
    How involved was Barr in all of this?

    • Thebuzzardman says:

      I realize that this is only 45 minutes old, but it seems a VERY significant revelation. Another example of a Trump political appointee, one placed at the exact spot to be useful in any “situation” came up, making a move expected of them.

      I guess the questions around it, are, after making a criminal referral, why didn’t it go anywhere?
      That there are still responsible people in the government who haven’t lost their mind or their way?
      That the referral going anywhere isn’t the point, but having a piece of disinformation to use to muddy the waters is?
      C, Answers A & B?

      • Teddy says:

        Why would Barr’s DoJ permit any criminal referral regarding the president to go anywhere at all, when he’s arguing in court that the president cannot be prosecuted or, even, investigated. If that’s Barr’s mindset, he needs to keep constant to it: he cannot permit any complaint about the president to see the light of day once referred to him. And he’s got the entire Cabinet and IC cowed: all complaints must be referred to him.

        To be quashed.

        • Marinela says:

          The nonsense about not being able to indict a siting President seems circular logic to me.
          So an entire country needs to wait 4 or 8 years until the President can be indicted? While this shameless President consolidates power and covers his tracks?

          • Rayne says:

            The reason for the rule is that a president must be able to conduct the country’s business without the threat of prosecution undermining their authority and capacity.

            Ex. Obama was stymied by a GOP majority-held Congress; imagine how much less he would have been able to do if he also been subjected to a drummed up prosecution as well as an impeachment.

            The solution is impeachment/conviction/removal to address the political challenge, followed by prosecution to address the criminal challenge.

            Our real problem is that Trump’s criminality exceeded the imagination of the founders; they couldn’t foresee a day when a lifelong scofflaw would be able to persuade nearly half of the country to vote for him let alone that his political party would be wholly corrupt and his cabinet likewise corrupt and incompetent.

            • Marinela says:

              Yes, I agree in principle, but like you explained, the house cannot keep up investigating his “high crimes”.

              Would be extremely useful if DoJ starts internal investigations as they should.

              • bmaz says:

                Marinela – Why can’t the House “keep up investigating his high crimes”?

                That is literally their Constitutional duty and oath of office. Of course they can.

                • Marinela says:

                  Probably my comment is not clear. Sorry. I meant that the rate Trump is committing the “high crimes” that are impeachable by Congress is greater than the time and resources of the house, such that the house may not be able to keep it up.
                  Just looking from the outside, without all the knowledge, I hope the house democrats can keep up and make a good case of impeachment.

                  • P J Evans says:

                    They don’t have to investigate 100 percent of his crimes; they just need enough for good solid articles of impeachment, but that’s not the same thing.

                • Marinela says:

                  In an ideal world you would have the DoJ investigating referrals, and possibly the Senate joining, because this is grave behavior and abuse of power. The burden is on the house alone, the other players are taking a nap.

                  • BobCon says:

                    That’s the core problem — after this is over, the next president will be under a lot of pressure to wrap everything up, let some toothless commission do a cursory investigation, and settle for a couple of sacrificial lambs getting thrown to prosecutors.

                    I strongly suspect we’ll see the DC media forgetting who they are and leading the charge to argue we should know less, not more.

                    • Chaparral says:

                      You know BobCon it might not be an altogether bad idea to, after all this is over, to let some toothless commission handle the cleanup while the rest of America gets back to the business of being America. After all, this is not Rwanda or Bosnia. No massacres or genocide. We don’t need a ‘truth commission’. What we are really going to need is to rebuild our international relations. We are going to need to repair the extensive damage to almost all of the cabinet departments. And above all, the American people need to believe that their elections are free and fair. We would probably be better off if the high crimes and misdemeanors of this current distemper sink into the sands of time at the earliest opportunity.

                    • Marinela says:

                      It is better if these investigations are done now with republican administration and with bipartisan congress. If there is a democratic President after 2020 election they are going to claim that is politically motivated. What a mess. Still a good dilemma to be in.

              • timbo says:

                The House can keep investigating Trump’s crimes as he commits them. That’s what the impeachment clause is for really. It’s supposed to stop criminal or obnoxious behavior by the President, either beforehand by the threat of impeachment and removal or through impeachment and/or removal in actuality. It cannot do that if there can only be a limited impeachment process. The trick is using that power wisely, judiciously, of course. And creating a system for it that screens spurious stuff out.

            • Lika2know says:

              If you haven’t listened to Rachael Maddow’s bog “Bag Man,” you should. According to her reporting, one of the reasons for the interpretation that a sitting president could not be indicted was that it provided a way to protect Nixon while they got rid of Agnew.

              I understand that the memo was revisited by DoJ years later, and that is the one we are living with, but the original premise of Bag Man (which is about Agnew and the investigation of his corruption and resignation).

            • BobCon says:

              I think there needs to be a filter, but it shouldn’t be absolute. If the case is serious enough, that’s what we have VPs for.

              Not that I am an originalist, but I think there is no way the founders would have envisioned an indictment-free president. Congress sat for a very limited time in the 1790s, and there was no way to gather them quickly to act in case of emergency.

              If John Adams was caught taking bribes from the Spanish while Congressmen were off on their farms, you can bet the founders would want him in prison until they could get couriers out to rural Georgia and New Hampshire to recall them by barge, horseback and sailboat.

        • SelfAbsorbed says:

          I also think the timing is odd w/the resignation of Matthew Petersen, the FEC commissioner. That was announced 8/26, effective 8/31.

          Since we now know there were 2 criminal complaints to DOJ before the WB complaint filed on 9/12, it seems likely DOJ would have already gotten those referrals on 8/26.

          So I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that DOJ should have referred the issue to FEC, even if they weren’t going to file charges because the FEC has different mechanisms for policing campaign finance laws. To our knowledge DOJ didn’t do that, BUT even if they did the FEC can’t enforce shit right now because they only have 3 members. From the article linked above:

          “And because FEC regulations require four or more commissioners to vote on enforcement actions, new regulations and other matters brought before the body, it will function only on an administrative level without new appointees from President Donald Trump.”

          It just seems oddly convenient. At the same time a credible allegation is made re: POTUS and all his cronies committing crimes, including possible campaign finance violations, a FEC commissioner quits, essentially killing the FEC’s ability to do anything but “administrative” stuff.

          Oh yeah and the guy who resigned? Matthew Petersen? Trump nominated him to the US District Court in DC in 2017, but he withdrew after a video of his nomination hearing went viral bc he couldn’t answer basic legal questions. So seems to me that he’s definitely on the Trump Train, & the way Mitch is sneaking through judges, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump re-nominated him. Here a link about his nom

  12. Michael says:

    “[…] Trump and his Senate confirmed goons […]”

    It’s worse than “goons”: wa-a-y too many of them are “Acting”, i.e. not confirmed by Senate, because Trump did end-runs around Congress and simply installed them.

    IMHO, there should be term limits for “acting”, on the order of 30 days.

  13. Molly Pitcher says:

    From CBS:U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland will appear for a closed-door deposition on Tuesday, October 8

    • Rayne says:

      Huh. That’s interesting. The lineup originally scheduled was:

      October 2, 2019: Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch
      October 3, 2019: Ambassador Kurt Volker
      October 7, 2019: Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent
      October 8, 2019: Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl
      October 10, 2019: Ambassador Gordon Sondland

      I don’t think Yovanovitch appeared, or at least I saw zero press on her if she did. Looks like Sondland was bumped forward.

      • Eureka says:

        Yovanovitch was postponed (on Oct 1), rescheduled for Oct 11th:

        As Impeachment Fights Begin, Administration and Congress Clash Over Deposition


        The House postponed the first of the depositions, which had been scheduled for Wednesday with the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, but not before the impeachment inquiry’s leaders upbraided Mr. Pompeo for questioning their work and for asserting that their bid to swiftly schedule depositions did not allow enough time for a proper response.

        A House aide said the deposition of the former ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, would now take place on Oct. 11. It was unclear if the State Department had approved that later appearance or if Ms. Yovanovitch, who was recalled to Washington last May, was acting on her own.

        • Phaedruses says:

          The rescheduling could be strategic. Nobody would expect Marie L. Yovanovitch to carry water for the trump’s White House or pompeo’s State dept. Having others go first, especially now that the texts came out, places pressure on people like Kent, Sondland and Brechbuhl to be very forthcoming and honest. The examples of Cohen and Stone hang over their heads.

          Barr won’t prosecute, however they have to be very sure trump would win, if they think they could lie to congress and hope Barr would being place in 2021 and beyond until the five year statue of limitations runs out to cover for them.

          Having Ms. Yovanovitch, testify after others means they do not have her testimony to work off from if they are trying to fabricate things for trump. They also do not know all she knows when they testify. So they have to hew close to the truth to try to stay out of a criminal case.

          This is a possibility that occurs to me.

          • Americana says:

            I agree w/you. This is a strategic choice. Given the emails from Sondland, I can see why they would upend the schedule and have him before her.

  14. Molly Pitcher says:

    Treasury inspector general to review handling of Trump’s tax returns:

    Jeff Stein and Tom Hamburger
    Oct. 4, 2019 at 12:54 p.m. PDT
    The Treasury Department’s acting inspector general has opened a review into whether the Trump administration acted improperly during its ongoing fight with House Democrats over releasing President Trump’s tax returns.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to comply with a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) for six years of the president’s business and financial returns. Democrats have said a 1924 law explicitly gives them the authority to request the documents, but Mnuchin has denied the request, and now the matter is pending in federal court.

    • timbo says:

      Suddenly the foxes are chickens or…? This scandal has been brewing for months and now suddenly Treasury’s IG thinks maybe this should be investigated… doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence now that (hopefully) the House is finally gearing up to look into impeacheable offenses by the Executive branch…

      • P J Evans says:

        That’s the complaint about the tax audits. It may have taken a while to get through the various processes – or the IG may have assumed that it had been handled.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    NBC’s Ken Dilanian is reporting that the CIA’s General Counsel, Courtney Elwood, made a second criminal referral to the DoJ. The DoJ immediately declined to look into it, in part, because it apparently involved Trump. A White House lawyer was apparently involved in the calls, and Bill Barr was in the loop.

    Elwood has stellar academic credentials and over two decades of elite practice inside the Beltway. She was appointed by Trump. That she made a referral strongly suggests that she found probable cause to investigate a crime.

    The DoJ said no, thanks. It refused even to document the record for a later DoJ to pick up the trail, once the president’s purported immunity from prosecution expires after he leaves office. Memory fades, evidence goes stale, later events compete for priority. Not conducting a preliminary investigation is dereliction of duty. But it seems Bill Barr’s DoJ is only interested in protecting the president.

    • P J Evans says:

      They said they didn’t think a phone call was a real request. But they’ve ignored written requests too.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Process scolds. They would have declined to investigate if she’d sent them a referral on stone tablets.

        Their OLC tells them presidents are immune even from investigation. It’s a view that comes from down the rabbit hole, like much else from the authoritarian right. But they’ve been packing the courts for three years with people who think just like Billy Barr.

        • Thebuzzardman says:

          Thanks for these; this is a clearer take on the CIA General Counsel and the way it probably played out than I had posted further on up. This makes sense.

          • timbo says:

            Note that Elwood was a political appointee under GWB as well. Not a full Trumpite. I should think that, at this point, that’s got to be rankling Trump some.

            • bmaz says:

              I think Mrs. Elwood is a different person that a lot here blithely assumed. Is she a “conservative” by nature? Yes. But she has an impeccable record over a long time, as does her husband. They are decent folks.

                • bmaz says:

                  I actually read it as there was a criminal referral on even the first whistleblower matter. It is just that it “caught and killed” by Barr and his toady OLC chief Steve Engel.

                  • Savage Librarian says:

                    The part I don’t understand is why Elwood did not refer it immediately to Congress. Couldn’t that have been done simultaneously with referring it to DOJ. That is assuming that there was some procedural requirement to send it to DOJ. If not, knowing the corruption at DOJ, could she have sent it solely to Congress and avoided DOJ, at least initially?

                    • bmaz says:

                      Because her duty is to protect her designated bureau she is assigned to do. These are not normal events, not normal times. I have never met anybody outside of the twitterphere/blogosphere who thinks Courtney anything less than an honorable public servant.

                    • Savage Librarian says:

                      Thanks, bmaz. Apologies to Ms. Elwood. I can see how law and security intersect in very complicated ways. Things are never as simple as they appear.

                  • SomeGuyInMaine says:

                    Yeah. I got that the IG made a WB referral.

                    If her verbal referral was essentially identical, then nothing more to do. If not, maybe there is.

                    When my landlord tells me he did not get notice I’m moving out because I didn’t put in writing, even though we had a long detailed conversation of my moving plans, the first thing I might do would be to put it in writing.

                    I do not know her job or position at all. I was impressed she made the verbal referral. She sounds very capable.

                    Bet she’s got great notes.

                • timbo says:

                  I wonder if there wasn’t one in the first place… all this talk about “it was only in a phone call” doesn’t seem right for a matter this serious at all. Or does the DoJ regularly get calls on the phone asking for legal advice on what is and is not a criminal referral from CCO CIA on a reglar basis? I mean, I’m guessing that at the very least the CIA side of meeting and planner notes will have at least “CR info pass” or something, right?

    • Americana says:

      That refusal to investigate by the DOJ ought to spur everyone on to further research into these matters. Surely Courtney Elwood would compile whatever she had and start seeking more evidence?

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, that is not exactly the function of Courtney Elwood’s job. It is swell how you can consistently and relentlessly act like you are in other people’s heads and determine what their jobs are when you do not appear to understand squat.

  16. Eureka says:

    There’s a fine bouquet to tonight’s Friday Night News Dump– Marcy is covering on twitter:

    emptywheel: “There’s an oddity in this must-read WaPo piece on Trump’s calls. This passage describes what a sycophant Trump was to Putin. It accords with what Trump told Comey before the call, btw. [link, screenshot]”

    Trump’s calls with foreign leaders have long worried aides, leaving some ‘genuinely horrified’

    • Eureka says:

      And thread here:

      emptywheel: “Huh. Then Senator Jeff Sessions didn’t talk to Russians. But somehow Russian-American Rinat Akhmetshin was confident Sessions would take out the Magnitsky Act. And then Natalia waltzed into Trump Tower and asked for just that. [quote of another tweet with screen shot of article linked below]”
      emptywheel: “How is it Mueller didn’t find this, in exonerating Jeff Sessions of lying under oath?”

      Natalia Veselniskaya: Email Leak Exposes Trump Tower Russian’s Dirty Lobbying Operations

      (adding, this article is from earlier in the day. aging well, apparently, for some finer points.)

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        According to the Daily Beast, “A cache of emails obtained by the Dossier Center, which is a Russian opposition organization based in London, exposes the depth of foreign asset entanglement in Trump’s America at the precise moment that the president’s dealings with Ukrainian officials threaten to pull the Department of Justice and State Department into an unseemly impeachment fight.”
        –When were they released?
        –Have they been verified?
        –Was the Special Council privy to them?
        –How does the March 2019 death–in a fiery, unauthorized helicopter crash–of Russia’s Deputy Attorney General Saak Karapetyan (exposed in a Swiss court this year for running a foreign recruitment operation with Natalia Veselnitskaya) fit into the larger picture of kompromat on the Trump campaign?

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          While Sessions may have lied and then backtracked on his story about Serge Kislyak, there is no tangible proof he was on board with trashing the Magnitsky Act. Interestingly, the only senators voting against it were:
          NAYs —4
          Levin (D-MI)
          Reed (D-RI)
          Sanders (I-VT)
          Whitehouse (D-RI)
          Not Voting – 4
          Conrad (D-ND)
          Inouye (D-HI)
          Kirk (R-IL)
          Rockefeller (D-WV)

          • Savage Librarian says:

            Not sure what you are implying with the votes. These do not seem to be at the initial time of the Magnitsky Act. Rather, I suggest they might represent the later vote which tried to repeal it. So, in essence, the Nays would be votes against repealing or making the Act less powerful. Is that what you are trying to say?

            • AndTheSlithyToves says:

              Apologies, Savage. Didn’t want to totally clutter up the thread with the names of all the Senators (everyone else in the Senate–including Sessions–not included in the four NAYS and the four NON-Votes). This was the actual December 2012 final Senate vote passing the Magnitsky Act, and I was very surprised to see three well-known Dem senators and Bernie Sanders–and No Republicans–in the NAY column.

              • Savage Librarian says:

                Hmm. I wonder if it had something to do with the hope at the time for a reset with Russia. But, as we have learned the hard way, it is always best to keep this in mind:

                “From a line used by Winston Churchill to describe the intentions and interests of Russia in 1939: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

                ( But maybe, in that last line, we should replace the word “national” with “oligarchical”.)

    • timbo says:

      “We have the best aides in any Administration ever! The best aides!” Sigh. May the drumbeat for impeachment and conviction grow steadily…

  17. punaise says:

    along the lines of the cheery “turn that frown upside down”:

    Hey Mitch: turn turn that shit-eating grin into another double chin.
    Turn that scowl into your jowls.

    (OK, mocking physical appearance is not fair game, but still….)

  18. Vince says:

    When it rains, it pours.

    A SECOND intelligence official who has more direct information about the events in regards to Racist Donnie and his dealings with Ukraine to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress.

    • Marinela says:

      The explanation as I understand it for the second WB, is that they will be covered by the WB protections, while they may have the first hand information of the events.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Natasha Bertrand wonders whether Bill Barr and John Durham are turning the Mueller investigation on its head to undercut the FBI and the IC, and to protect Trump: They are,

    “looking at whether the help provided by U.S. allies in the Russia probe, including the U.K., Italy, Australia and Ukraine, may itself have constituted foreign interference.”

    That seems consistent with Bill Barr’s through the looking glass view of the world. He and Durham seem driven to get to the bottom of it, whatever their “it” is. But their work apparently does not involve talking to anyone at the FBI.

    • klynn says:

      Notice they have not gone to the Netherlands.

      The Netherlands has receipts.

      This is an effort to create a false narrative while avoiding those allies who hold the facts.

      Netherlands would tell Barr to pound salt.

      Wonder where Russian subs are sitting right now?

    • Tom says:

      I could be wrong, but the logical conclusion from all this would seem to be that foreign intelligence services will be reluctant to share information with their U.S. counterparts for fear of being accused of interference in American politics, especially if the info. they want to share runs counter to whatever President Trump has seen on Fox News recently. And if the U.S. intelligence services are headed by people with a pro-Trump attitude, they will likewise reject any foreign intelligence that conflicts with the President’s priorities, which concern only himself. The long term result will be that America will be flying blind as far as developing & implementing its foreign policy, or relying increasingly upon foreign governments that Trump views as friendly and supportive of him; e.g., Russia, North Korea, perhaps China. Such a bizarre scenario that the mind wants to reject it automatically. Then what? The President and his team start to investigate media outlets that report critically on them on the grounds that they’re corrupt?

    • bmaz says:

      I like Bertrand. She is still very young, and started off a tad shaky on her understanding of what she was reporting on, when she was even younger, especially where “national security” intersected “law”, which it almost always does.

      That said it is hard not to appreciate her stick to it attitude, and she has gotten progressively better as she has matured in her field. That is a very good thing, and I hope, and believe, she will keep this up. She was likely in high school when the last time a Republican Administration, acting through the torture and terrorism shill Michael Mukasey, picked John Durham to whitewash the Bush/Cheney torture crimes. It takes time, and she is putting it in, and that is admirable.

      Durham was loyal to the torture lies then, and he will be loyal to the Trump crimes now. Durham’s past shilling should never go unmentioned in a report on his current craven crusade. The past is always prologue.

      • SomeGuyInMaine says:

        Remember, Durham isn’t doing a DOJ inquiry for Barr. That would have to follow existing rules and standards.

        It is in Barr’s words a “Review” what ever the hell that is.

        Brace yourselves.

        • Vicks says:

          Trump won’t need any actual dirt, he just needs an enemy for his “followers” to rally around and a nasty chant that easy to remember.
          Tump won when Ukraine said uncle and agreed to investigate.

        • Americana says:

          I’ve got to wonder how this recent flurry of Guiliani and Barr jaunts and publicity activities intersects w/the initial report from IG Horowitz about the genesis of the Russia investigation being turned over for comments to the various agencies.

          I just watched a few Giuliani talk show appearances where he’s waving papers around claiming they’re affidavits and assorted other legal documents and blah blah that he obtained in Ukraine and elsewhere.. But Fox never shows them blown up on screen as would happen w/a normal document as proof of its validity nor does Fox blow up any portions of the documents that proves Giuliani’s claims about their contents and their provenance. Who knows what Giuliani’s claims about these documents portend for this next phase of the Ukraine brouhaha? It’s also strange Giuliani was trotted out for Fox News shows to attempt to explain away Trump’s corrupt acts by producing a pile of supposedly exculpatory legal papers while Trump turned to claiming this idea of coercing Ukraine over the Bidens was all Rick Perry’s fault. If Trump thinks he should be vindicated by the legal papers Giuliani has cooked for him on Ukraine then why did Trump try to lay blame off on Rick Perry at all?

    • Mooser says:

      “turning the Mueller investigation on its head”

      Gosh, if all that pans out, they will have to indict and charge Mueller.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Must be Spring on Trump’s calendar. He’s cleaning house at the NSC – presumably because he wants to remove actual or potential WBs. (Many are temporarily borrowed from other agencies, such as State, Defense, and CIA.)

    The White House and West Wing are going to be lonely places; they are already echo chambers.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The State Dept must need more IT resources. Their system was so busy, several of its top diplomats working on a Ukraine matter for Mr. Trump were forced to use WhatsApp for their communications.

    As if Sondland’s DMs didn’t already demonstrate guilty knowledge.

  22. Willis Warren says:

    If the Democrats had talking points like the Republicans do, they’d say:

    Trump is obviously nervous about Mueller’s findings, specifically that he can be charged after his term and he can go to jail for obstruction and numerous other crimes. Right now, he’s doing everything in his power to win reelection, including smearing his rivals with fake scandals.

  23. Savage Librarian says:

    After reading the DB article yesterday morning and from the notes of the Senate Judiciary Committee interview of Glenn Simpson (written up by Patrick Davis on 8/22/17, for Chuck Grassley), I’d like to mention the following:

    Baker Hostetler (BH) first represented Bill Browder who was instrumental in getting the Magnitsky Act passed. John Moscow represented Browder at BH.

    Then, BH represented Natalia Veselnitskaya who had the Prevezon case. She sought to have the Magnitsky Act overturned. Mark Cymrot was her contact at BH. Also, John Moscow (who had represented Browder,) switched sides to work with Veselnitskaya.

    Mark Cymrot brought Glenn Simpson into the mix. Cymrot and Rinat Akhmetshin (Veselnitskaya’s colleague who was at the 6/9/16 TT mtg.) met with Paul Behrends (Dana Rohrabacher’s aide.)

    Glenn Simpson knew Lanny Wiles, a Florida GOP operative (and long time friend of Roger Stone and Dana Rohrabacher.) Lanny Wiles and Rinat Akhmetshin had a business relationship lobbying for Prevezon, connected to Baker Hostetler.

    On June 8, 2016, in NYC and June 10, 2016 in DC, the following people had dinner together: Mark Cymrot, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Glenn Simpson. Cymrot’s friends (editor of the Washington Post book section & his wife, who wrote a book about Simone Bolivar) were at the 6/10/16 dinner. Others may have been present at both dinners.

    Simpson claimed no foreknowledge of the June 9, 2016 meeting in TT with Don Jr., Kushner, Manafort, Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin. Simpson’s colleague, Chris Cooper, arranged for the anti-Magnitsky/anti-Browder film to be shown at the Newseum on 6/13/16. Veselnitskaya and Rohrabacher’s office actively promoted the film which was made by Andrei Nekrasov.

    From the article below, you will see that filmmaker, Nekrasov, is suspected of having received leaked information from a Russian witness’ secret deposition. This witness had to be relocated after he “fell” out of a 5-story building.

    On June 14, 2016, Lanny Wiles arranged to have a seat saved for Veselnitskaya at a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Russia and the Magnitsky Act. GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher was trying to get rid of the Act. (Remember that Erik Prince once worked as an intern for Rohrabacher.)

    On June 14, 2016, Rohrabacher, Behrends, Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya, and Matlock had dinner together later that night at the Capitol Hill Club, a private members’ establishment for Republicans. The evening was organized by Lanny Wiles, a veteran GOP operative .

    On June 15, 2016, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught on tape telling Paul Ryan and Republican colleagues: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” When some of the lawmakers laughed, he replied: “Swear to God.”
    Senate Judiciary Committee Interview of Glenn Simpson/By Mr. Davis (2)
    “Natalia Veselniskaya: Email Leak Exposes Trump Tower Russian’s Dirty Lobbying Operations”

  24. morganism says:

    Wheres the money trail go?

    Now i see the grift,

    If those two guys in Florida have the Gaz company contract to build the LNG pipeline that Putin is laying thru the Crimea, then Trump gets his funds by “donations” to his inaug and re-election committees , without having to hold any stock in the Gaz company that can be traced…..

    So he doesn’t really care if Ukrain actually succumbs to Putin, he just needs the pipeline to go thru.

    Would explain why he was ranting so much about the second pipeline to Europe right after the election, and i thought he had ties to the LNG tankers that were moving back then…

  25. Savage Librarian says:

    This article explains what all people who care about democracy need to know and do. It couldn’t be more important and inspirational. Here are a couple of excerpts:

    “Here is how to beat Donald Trump and his racist dog-whistle politics” – Paul Rosenberg, Salon, 10/5/19

    “Ian Haney López …has an important new book just published this week,
    ‘Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America.’ In it, López explains the power, as well as the historical and political logic, behind a new approach to defeating dog-whistle politics. It’s what he calls the “race-class narrative”
    “So this is a moment of profound crisis, but it’s also a moment of profound opportunity. This opportunity for change is much bigger than driving Trump out of office. It’s much bigger than electing Democrats. The opportunity we have before us is to build the vision of a society we want, in which we recognize our shared humanity, we understand that government must work for us, and we understand that the economy must be regulated in a way that ensures that prosperity is widely and fairly shared.”

    • Rayne says:

      It’s a restatement of Moulitsas’ and Armstrong’s ‘Crashing the Gate‘ circa 2006. We didn’t learn then a critically important lesson in addition to their call for a unity vote (avoiding single issue voting) — we needed to see this as a marathon, a social war, not just a battle to be won in one or two congressional terms or a presidential term of office. This is a lifetime commitment to building a more just society.

    • Chaparral says:

      Thank you. Thank you very much. Got my new talking points.

      1) fear and resent people of color
      2) hate government
      3) trust the marketplace
      1)we are all in this together
      2)distrust greedy elites
      3)demand government works for people not corporations

      racism is fundamentally a weapon of the rich against all of us

      working people, white, black, and brown
      whites included

      racism is a divide and conquer policy that hurts all of us whites included

      labor rights and civil rights are what build economic justice for working America

      unregulated capitalism is stealing the voice of our democracy at the ballot box
      unregulated capitalism is what has brought on the looming environmental disaster
      we need to restructure and regulate our economy in a way that ensures that prosperity is widely and fairly shared

      “All these crises are focusing our attention on the way in which we are losing control of our democracy, of our society, of a decent future for our families, of a habitable planet for all of us. Because racial(,class and ethnic) division has been such an effective weapon in driving us apart and allowing rule by and for the rich.”

      we are losing control of our democracy

      we can be a nation that truly is by and for the people, but ‘the people’ means everyone, undivided by race

      “a country in which “liberty for all” means every person, no matter where you come from, no matter what your color, no matter which God you worship, no matter what language you speak.”

      our fates are linked
      we take care of each other
      we are all in this together

      Need to write them on some index cards and carry them around. Flash cards? Geez, am I old or what?

  26. Frank Probst says:

    I’m a bit surprised by how badly the recall of Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch was handled. The whole point of recalling her was to replace her with a stooge who was either totally clueless or was willing to play ball. Instead, they replaced her with Bill Taylor, who is genuinely qualified to be the Ambassador to Ukraine (since he’d held the post in the past) and is a career FSO with an impressive resumé. If you had to pick someone who would immediately realize exactly what was going on here and was willing to document it in writing, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pick.

    • klynn says:

      Not only confirming a second whistleblower being represented but that “multiple officials” have come forward.

  27. Jenny says:

    GOP proudly wearing the “I really don’t care, do you?” Melania jacket in order to support the occupant in the WH.

    • I am sam says:

      Just a reminder to the GOP (Gutless Old Party) from the Father of our Country:
      “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country.”

    • RobertJ says:

      It may be that there has been an epidemic of wilful blindness in the GOP ranks.

      I recall a proverb along the lines of “Those who the Gods would destroy, he first strikes blind”

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If nothing else, Barr and Durham’s excellent adventure seems designed to muddy the impeachment waters, and to look for reasonable doubt, should there be later criminal prosecution. I guess that’s what defense attorneys do, even if they have day jobs that conflict with it.

    It seems just as likely that they are building a foundation for Trump to stay in office, regardless of the outcome in 2020. Once Trump leaves office, not only his person but his supposed empire would be at risk of toppling into prison and bankruptcy. Trump would move mountains to avoid that.

    Imagine what prosecutors would know if they had access to his full tax returns and working papers, could effectively subpoena records from the Trump Organization, and subpoena and interview a laundry list of witnesses. What might Congress do if the DoJ were not helping Mnuchin’s Treasury bar access to his tax returns. Imagine what just NY state could do if Bill Barr’s DoJ were not obstructing its access to Trump taxes and working papers.

    A president Sanders or Warren might seek to prosecute him. They might simply stop the federal government from acting as his offensive line, and let state prosecutors into the backfield unopposed, leading to a sack with considerable loss of yardage.

    If the Dems retake the Senate and find the will to bolster a judiciary corrupted with FedSoc changelings, their legal efforts might survive judicial scrutiny.

  29. Wm. Boyce says:

    Others may have noted it, but don’t forget about the IRS whistleblower who has come forward with information unknown about the handling of Trump and Pence’s tax audits. Things are piling up.

  30. klynn says:

    Ron Johnson has made Puti’s day and has ruined our national security.

    He needs to resign tonight.

    Shame on him.

  31. Tom says:

    Funny, but the same Donald Trump who is now casting himself in the role of international crusader against corrupt governments is the same Donald Trump who stated last August that ‘flipping’ should be illegal and that those people accused of crimes should not be allowed to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. See story on MSNBC August 23, 2018.

  32. Manqueman says:

    TBH, the Russia/Ukraine thing is something I didn’t pay enough attention to, so lets see if it’s clearing up for me (corrections appreciated):
    The Obama administration was, to put it simply, supporting the installation of a pro-West/anti-Russia government in the Ukraine.
    So Administration and Hunter Biden interests per se would be aligned enough that no favors were needed from the former to the latter.
    This administration, OTOH, has no problem with Ukraine as a, well, satellite of Russia. So obviously anyone pro-Ukraine — Hunter Biden, the owner of Burisma more so — is a problem.
    What I wonder, then, is whether Baby Donnie expected his offer to be one Zelensky might be able to refuse so that Donnie would have an excuse to (illegally) withhold aid.
    Where else I get confused: Is Donnie trying help Biden get the nomination or merely expect him to get it (latter would be some proof that he really is stupid because only a dope who knows better than the crap in the media would presume Biden’s nomination is ensured — a collapse is far more likely if his past and refusal to give the base what it wants are clues.
    Again, corrections welcome.

  33. Eureka says:

    I had a sick feeling something like this was about to happen: Erdogan (Putin) has apparently called in receipts on Trump (or Trump is keeping his promises) to the tune of genocide, betrayal of our Kurdish allies, jeopardy of our troops in allied relationships due to loss of trust in the word of the USA… I’ve sat with this for awhile unable to click “post.” No words. I’m leaving messages for my MoC, don’t know what else to do.

    @nycsouthpaw thread has a screenshot of the WH statement effecting this:

    “Turkey will be invading Syria shortly and US forces will be getting out of the way, apparently abandoning the US’s Kurdish allies in Syria, per WH statement.… ”

    “WH: Turkey “will now be responsible” for ISIS captives, who are *checks notes* currently held by Syrian Kurdish forces.”

    “I’m not doing a good job conveying how fucked up this is.”

    Scott Stedman: “We just gave Erdogan a green light to slaughter the Kurds.… ”

    “There are approximately 2,000,000 Syrian Kurds.”

  34. klynn says:

    Wonder what would happen if folks protested near the Turkish Embassy in DC with signs that read, “Another genocide by Turkey.”

  35. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is giving Ronald Reagan’s hard-line conservative, anti-constitutional rights Counselor and Attorney General, Ed Meese, the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

    The much reviled Meese, a George Mason, Heritage Foundation, and FedSoc stalwart, hated the Miranda decision. Its now famous warning required law enforcement to inform suspects of their constitutional rights to silence and to legal representation.

    Meese thought that was contradictory: “If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.” What he meant was that anyone the police deemed a suspect is guilty. His views on race were similar.

    Next, I expect Trump to put Joe Arpaio in charge of ICE and CBP.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I guess not. He would be 88. He was considered so lazy as Attorney General, that his briefcase was where briefs went to die. They checked in, but never checked out.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Can’t get nuffink by you. I’ll bet you know the correct ignition timing for a 1964 327 cu. in. v8 with a four-barrel carb.

          • bmaz says:

            2º BTDC?

            That is probably so wrong I will be embarrassed. Haven’t rebuilt a small block V-8 in 40 years…..

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              But you know how to manually time a naturally aspirated engine with a strobe, which is a lot. According to my cousin Vinny’s girlfriend, it’s 4 degrees BTDC.

              • bmaz says:

                As Mona Lisa Vito knows, you always do the final tuning by ear at around 2,000-2,500 RPM. Remember Mallory dual point distributors?

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I misspent my youth rebuilding an MGB/GT every weekend, so that I could drive it to work M-F. I know what Swiss cheese metal is, and Stromberg and SU, but unless Mallory was made by Lucas, I would have no memory of it.

                • bmaz says:

                  Heh. The Mallory dual point was not made by Lucas, but was almost as flaky. It worked better than a single point distributor, such as the standard AC Delco, at higher RPMs, which was good. But it was living hell to keep adjusted right, which was bad.

  36. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM really hates them some Elizabeth Warren.

    Just before a commercial break. Stephanie Ruhle shows a threesome, left to right, of Sanders, Biden and Warren. She describes Bernie as recovering from a heart attack and Joe Biden as defending himself, leaving “uncertainty” as the front runner. No follow-up after the break. Is Uncertainty Ms. Warren’s first name?

    The Democrats have more to worry about than smears from Donald Trump.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Seven minutes later, Ruhle returns to the Sanders, Biden, Warren story, starting with headline shots from the WaPo and NYT.

      The focus of what became a long but boring story is on Biden, with secondary coverage of Bernie’s recovery. Nothing on Warren but a brief mention of her “electability” problem, because her politics are too progressive.

      Sandwiched in the middle is that all three Dems mentioned polled five points higher than Trump in a head-to-head contest. Ruhle then pivoted to a long live interview with presidential non-contender, billionaire Tom Steyer.

      Bullshit coverage, Stephanie.

      • alfredlordbleep says:

        MSNBC/NBC is a member of the “better half” of Wall St. media. Just as the Dems are the better half of plutocracy/business interests (etc)

        :-) earls and lords are better than they used to be

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Not to be outdone, Ali Velshi’s coverage this afternoon obsesses about Elizabeth Warren’s lack of popularity with African American voters, making her vulnerable. (I sense a trend.)

      Al Sharpton corrects Velshi on several points. Biden’s popularity has a great deal to do with name recognition from nearly fifty years inside the Beltway, and his eight years as Obama’s VP. It is not because he has much history of actually supporting issues important to African Americans.

      Sharpton notes that the majority of African Americans, like most of us, in effect, would vote for a proverbial ham sandwich if it looked like it could beat Donald Trump.

      It’s beginning to look as if one of the Dems’ biggest problems is not Donald Trump, but the constipated horse race framing to which the MSM is addicted.

    • bmaz says:

      Well that is a resounding loss for Trump. He will immediately appeal and ask for an injunction from the Second Circuit I presume (looks like there will be none from Marrero).

    • Rayne says:

      LOL the preview popup for that article cracks me up — the tea drinking. That. Picturing Filkins sipping tea while he digs into the next phase of this story.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      When this story is combined with the news that Rick Perry and others were trying to strong arm their way onto the board of Naftogaz, the evidence begins to point toward an effort to create a Russian-style American oligarchy of the right.

  37. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A delicious quote from Judge Marrero’s opinion, rejecting the argument that a president is inherently immune from criminal investigation and prosecution.

    Judge Marrero allowed that some aspects of the criminal process could impede a President’s ability to perform his duties: “Certainly lengthy imprisonment upon conviction would produce that result,” he wrote.

    The 2d Circuit apparently stayed the judgment, pending an expedited hearing.

  38. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Another point of leverage Erdogan has over Trump, who is as protective of MBS as he is obsequious to Vladimir Putin: he knows a lot about how MBS murdered Khashoggi.

    His continued silence might have a recurring price, which Trump, the Great Negotiator, would invariably pay.

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Like father, like daughter. From 2012, Ivanka Trump,

    Thank you Prime Minister Erdogan for joining us yesterday to celebrate the launch of #Trump Towers Istanbul!

    The opening and first year of operations is always the most financially vulnerable time: the most money at risk with the least revenue coming in. So, too, is any time someone wants to refinance, expand, or keep operations going in the face of local opposition.

    In most of the world, getting the head of state to attend an opening is a good thing. Erdogan gives Turkish and international elites the OK – sometimes the direction – to spend money on things he approves of. Just as his dismissal of a signature property could signal its financial death warrant.

    Since 2012, Trump and Erdogan have had a complex relationship. In 2016, Erdogan wanted the Trump name removed from the tower because of Trump’s disdain for the Muslim community. I guess things have improved since then, but not Trump’s disdain for Muslims and people of color. For a price, Ugarte, for a price.

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