The Republican Closing Argument against Impeachment Is Personally Implicated in the Scandal

I’m waiting on the procedural votes to authorize the House impeachment inquiry. There were some nice speeches, with Speaker Pelosi lecturing the Republicans about American history, Republicans repeating the same quote from Alexander Hamilton over and over, Steve Scalise posing next to an image of the Kremlin [Correction: This is St. Basil’s Cathedral], and Eric Swalwell accusing the President of using taxpayer dollars to lead an “an extortion shakedown scheme.”

But perhaps the most telling aspect of the debate is that the Republican closing argument — yet another recital of that same Hamilton quote — came from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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

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

That is the face that is leading opposition to impeachment.

Update: Here’s the roll call.

  • Impeachment curious Republicans Will Hurd and Francis Rooney both voted against the inquiry
  • Democrats Collin Peterson and Jeff Van Drew also voted against
  • Justin Amash voted for the inquiry
  • Republicans Jody Hice, John Rose, and William Timmons, and Democrat Donald McEachin did not vote

So 98.5% of the Republican caucus voted to do nothing after another branch of government usurped Congress’ power of the purse.

65 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Might be useful to note that impeachment is a legal but not a criminal process. Impeachment is also and more fundamentally a political process. Has the president – or any senior officer of the United States government – behaved so far outside acceptable bounds that he must be removed from office?

    Representatives and Senators – in a two-step process that favors the president – sit in judgment on that question alone. That they have interests and hold political positions that conflict with that role is obvious. They are not required to abstain from having such views. Rather, the Constitution expects and demands that they have them. They should speak their minds about them.

  2. P J Evans says:

    I hope someone, at some point, reminds the Hamilton-quoting Rs that he wouldn’t have been in the country at all under the immigration rules they’re so eager to impose.

    • TomK says:

      So true.
      And those same historically challenged R’s ought closely read that Federalist #65 they are now so fond of quoting. The “parties” that Hamilton refers to really aren’t political parties, they’re factions resultant from division of the whole community. Notwithstanding, the implication being made that the D’s are the offending “party”, is plenty full of irony, given that the subject of #65 is the “Powers of the Senate”, as Hamilton was therein making his case for that entity being the one to hold the trial. When, and if, THAT time comes, will we see the R’s applying that same admonishment to their members in the U.S. Senate?

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Republicans are funny. Like Trump, they know no history, which makes their analogies uniformly fail.

    A true Soviet-style “impeachment process” is more direct. It tends to give you that funny feeling in the back of the neck just before that loud crack you’ll never hear. And if they want to claim the Democrats’ process is the sort of thing the Kremlin would come up with, they should find a picture of the Kremlin and not a cathedral.

    • klynn says:

      St Basil’s meant to be the Kremlin? Oops.

      Unless this was a hidden reference to the spooks in the ROC?

    • Fran of the North says:

      “I knew the Kremlin. I visited the Kremlin. Representative, that’s no Kremlin…”

      St. Basil’s Cathedral is located in Red Square, in central Moscow. The Kremlin is located in a large building along the perimeter of one of the sides of Red Square and separated from the Square by a fortress like wall.

      When you’re spouting disinformation, accuracy isn’t necessary.

      (Apologies to Lloyd Bentsen)

    • Frank Probst says:

      I thought it was a bit of an odd photo choice. St Basil’s is probably Moscow’s most recognizable building, but the reason it’s so recognizable is that it’s pretty cool-looking. If you weren’t reading the text, it looked like a giant postcard from a trip to Russia. Red bricks on one side and the old Soviet flag on the other would’ve made a more negative impression. Antics like this on the House floor are common, so I doubt much thought goes into them, but this was one of the few that was expected to be shown in the MSM. The House GOP is flailing so badly that it can’t even make effective visual aids.

  4. 200Toros says:

    “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

    Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”

  5. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    For Rayne from Buzzfeed: “It passed by a vote of 232-196 with just two Democrats, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voting with Republicans against the resolution. Independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party earlier this year, joined with Democrats to vote yes; he is the sole non-Democrat who has supported impeaching the president.”

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Liz Cheney is more self-absorbed and vile than her father. One of her and the GOP’s false talking points is that “impeachment” is stopping Congress from legislating on important matters.

    She and Moscow Mitch must be as unable to count as Donald Trump. McConnell is letting 200-odd House bills languish because he and Trump continue to Just Say No to Democratic proposals.

    And Democrats, stop playing the reluctant bride. You are finally beginning to do the right thing. Find someone who can argue that in public without hemming and hawing yourselves to death.

    • P J Evans says:

      Moscow Mitch on Wednesday:
      “Look, I think it’s pretty clear our Democratic colleagues do not have a great affinity for President Trump, but the country cannot afford for Democrats in Congress to take a one-year vacation from any productive legislation just because they’d rather obsess over impeachment.”

      Which is a lie: they’ve sent hundreds of bills to the Senate, where he’s letting them sit.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      “Baby Dick” Cheney | Let’s hope that one day her anti-LGBTQ stance will come back to bite her in the butt.

    • Frank Probst says:

      They really need to figure out a way to convey this message to the public. Maybe it just can’t be done, but you could at least try something like opening every single session of Congress with, “We’d like to remind the American People that the House of Representatives has written and approved (#1) bills and sent them to the Senate for review. (#2) of those bills have been there for more than 90 days. We continue to hope that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate will accelerate the pace of those reviews, because we are eager to get those bills to the President so that he can sign them into law and the American People can start benefitting from them.”

      • General Sternwood says:

        Just a coordinated two-day press push by all the candidates for the nomination would get the message across: Moscow Mitch should stop stonewalling the House legislation.

      • P J Evans says:

        Moscow Mitch is so concerned about election security that he won’t allow any of the (genuinely bipartisan) bills about it to come to the floor. (I wish that was snark!)

  7. John Paul Jones says:

    Rachel Maddow had a long piece the other night on Lev Parnas’ first job as a broker, working for Euro-Atlantic (fifteen months, 1996-97), which was a boiler-room and money laundering operation run by the Columbo family which ended up with multiple indictments and at least one murder. The mention of Parnas comes at about the seven-minute-and forty mark. Since I haven’t had much luck posting addresses that didn’t also blart a giant video across the posting, I’ll just note the title of the piece on YouTube which is:

    “Parnas Associations Range From Russian Mob To Trump Legal Team | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC”

    She also references the question of who’s paying Rudy Giuliani for what, which makes me think she might be a close reader of this very blog.

    [FYI, here’s the link to the Maddow video. / ~Rayne]

      • viget says:

        Dear Mr. or Ms. Hercules,

        The Greater DC area is in a major need of a cleaning. We understand you know how to divert rivers? Could you please come and (metaphorically, of course) change the course of the Potomac so as to wash away all of the filth? The K street corridor is especially bad.


        The American People

    • Tom says:

      Saw that segment too and learned that Lev Parnas is the sort of guy who mails dead rats to people he wants to intimidate. And he’s now part of Trump’s legal team?

  8. Chaparral says:

    Every time Fruman and Parnas are front and center, it should be made clear that their boss, the guy calling the shots and funding the operation was Dymtri Firtash, who is fighting extradition from Austria. The real quid pro quo is the deal between Trump and the Ukrainian/Russian mobsters. We will get you political kompromat on your opponents if you use your juice to bypass the EU and IMF to replace the management at Naftogaz with people who will allow us to continue our skimming operation and replace the US ambassador with one who will not press for the pursuit of corruption prosecutions.

    I know I sound like a dog with a bone. But this is the real deal. It’s been in the works for a long time. Spring ’18 was the Houston meet where Fruman, Parnas, and Sargent laid out the plan for Andriy Favorov who was their chosen successor for Naftogaz CEO. It is entirely possible that the roots of this plan go back to the return of Paul Manafort to American politics. Despite their protestations, it is clear that Manfort has close connections with the Ukrainian mob boss Dymtri Firtash. Firtash was by far the largest contributor of money to the Russia friendly candidate that Manafort helped elect to the presidency of Ukraine.

    Collecting kompromat for Rudy was their side gig. The real mission and money was to buy American political influence in order to get the ambassador and corporate management. If Rudy touched that third rail of buying influence, he’s toast.

    The corporation restructuring side of this is where the threads might really begin to unravel. Who told Rick Perry to step in and begin his campaign to replace the Naftogaz board?

    • P J Evans says:

      Actually, it’s all one deal: damage Ukraine so Putin can get his people in to run it – that goes back at least as far as the spring of 2016. Damage whichever D is looking likely to get the nomination, and after that the actual nominee, to give the GOP a better shot at winning (and further helping Russia).
      It makes me wonder if they were doing stuff in 2012 and 2008 that was a tryout, or much less successful.

      • Geoff says:

        This is what really chaps my hide…the whole Mueller investigation, and this whole farce, they are the same thing. It’s always been one big transaction. Russia bailed Trump out via money laundering, and Trump is now engaging in payback. It’s a grifter’s free for all, has been for years. All that oligarch action, it attracts all the worst sorts of characters. What’s sickening is how many of them pretend to be American’s, when they are just low level mobsters. Trump continues to cheat in every aspect of life, and will cheat again in the next election. It’s abundantly clear that a large part of the Republican party is caught up in the influence scheme that Russia is conducting, buying out what is left of American democracy for their own interests. Every one of them, self interested hypocrites. If the history ever gets written properly, which I’m becoming doubtful of, its judgement of these scoundrels should be scathing.

    • Chaparral says:

      I need to amend my earlier comment. This is not a deal between Trump and Russian mobsters. Trump is an oblivious clown who is obviously manipulated. This is really a deal between Russian mobsters and the creators and enablers of our modern radical Republican party. As has it become demographically more and more difficult for any right wing Republican to win a free and fair election, the creator puppet masters have fallen to increasingly desperate measures. Allowing, condoning, and supporting dirtier and dirtier political tricks, they have finally allowed Russian mobsters to generate political kompromat on their opponents.

      As PJ Evans suggests, no doubt the Russians have been probing for ways to influence the American political system for a long time. Given their increasingly bold moves internationally, they have likely had some success even before the Trump administration. Their infiltration is about to become painfully obvious with the kompromat for gas money deal. And the (R-Cow) puppet masters, at least at mid-level, had to sign off on this deal. No doubt, Dymtri Firtash and Semion Mogilevich, the Russian “boss of bosses”, are the prime movers on the Russian side. If this can be unraveled on the American side, we are about to see who is behind the curtain.

      Who told Rick Perry to step in and begin his campaign to replace the Naftogaz board?

      • Alexi says:

        It’s a good post. But please don’t sell Trump short. He’s been up to his eyeballs laundering Kremlin cash for decades and he’s now an asset (not agent). He may even be an unwilling asset due to kompromat. But he IS an asset.

    • harpie says:

      Here are two jam-packed threads from 10/10/19
      8:03 PM – 10 Oct 2019

      Is Dmytro Firtash, who Senator Wicker called a “direct agent of the Kremlin” and now under US indictment, one of the paymasters behind the Parnas/Fruman operation? The billions he made on the Russia-Ukraine gas trade are detailed in this 2014 story […thread…]

      6:46 PM – 10 Oct 2019

      Wow – Lev Parnas was hired by DiGenova and Toensing as an interpreter for Dmitry Firtash / […] [read rest of thread] […] / I made this connection 3 days ago when news broke Parnas, Furman, [FRUMAN] Sargeant were meddling in Naftogaz that intermediary who gets a cut from Naftogaz sales to customers is Dmitry Firtash Notably – apparently Trump supported proposed changes at Naftogaz […thread…]

    • Geoff says:

      Morrison is in this up to his neck. He’s trying to play both sides, but I see him clearly as on Team Trump. He appears to have been right there with the other stooge Eisenberg, absconding with the real transcript and stashing it away on the secure server. Of course, they will say all the … s are simply national security concerns, not extortion related, so no one has to see it, and somehow, there is no Democrat who is considered independent enough or with a high enough security clearance to do so, or that it’s just, well, we could let you see it, but sorry, that’s subject to executive privilege.

      They will keep trying to weasel out of this, but in the end, there has to be some way to get to the real transcript. They are going to invest everything they have in keeping it locked away. I frankly cannot wait decades to one day find out what is in there, or have it turn out that they doctored it, or made it disappear.

    • Dave Karson says:

      Thanks for your two links which I read. Yes, his opening statement does read like he is trying to protect Trump and probably himself. He spent 17 years as a Republican Staffer. Had he been a staffer for a Democrat for 17 years, Fox and Trump would have called him a biased, “angry” democrat. I digress. In his prepared statement, he says “I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed” on the July 25th phone call. However, after the July 25th call, he asked NSC legal to review it because he had concerns about leaks. To me, that seems odd, but I don’t have any experience in these things. My question for the readers of this blog, is that normal to be worried about leaks, given that everyone who listened to the call was cleared for the call and it was placed on a secure server? My second area of concern had to do with Morrison’s view of Sondland. Morrison states: “I did not understand why Ambassador Sondland would be involved in Ukraine policy”. Fair enough. But did Morrison bother to dig into that, especially since they both were working on Ukraine and interacting with each other. After all, Morrison states in his prepared remarks that his position in the NSC was to coordinate with others on European Affairs, so therefore, it seems to me he would have to understand who and what Sondland was doing in terms of Ukraine. Finally, Morrison, on September 1st, after a conversation with Sondland, Morrison states, “Even then I hoped that Ambassador Sondland’s strategy was exclusively his own.” That also seems odd to me, because it seems like Morrison is admitting that Sondland is either a rogue diplomat or in cahoots with others and up to no good. In both of these cases, it seems to me like Morrison chose to bury his head in the sand. If Morrison was anal enough to take the time to have a perfectly “legal” phone conversation reviewed by NCS legal out of leak concerns, why on September 1st is he now willing to overlook a diplomat he believes is going rogue? To me it seems like Morrison is willfully shutting his eyes to see no evil. Curious what others think? Best, Dave Karson P.S. As always, great blog!

      • Jim White says:

        Thanks for joining us, Dave.

        I like the question about Morrison first stating that he wasn’t concerned about anything illegal but then called for a review because of concern about leaks. Since we know from the whistleblower report and from Vindman that there were lots of conversations going on right after the call about how wrong it was, it seems likely to me that Morrison overheard some of these (or perhaps was even invited to join and give his opinion on it) and the leaks he was concerned about are exactly what’s in the WB report and Vindman’s testimony. In other words, he could tell that others thought it was illegal and he wanted a lid on that, stat.

        And of course, since you said Morrison buried his head in the sand, I’m guessing that’s what you’re getting at, too.

        • Dave Karson says:

          Thanks Jim, yep, agree with your post and the other subsequent posts too. Sorry to see that Rep. Francis Rooney, who seemed like he might vote his conscious, voted with the other Republicans yesterday on Impeachment. I was hoping one or two (that’s only 1%) had a conscious and would put Country above Party. I guess not. Best, Dave Karson, San Francisco Bay Area

      • Dave Karson says:

        Thinking about it a bit more, although Mr. Morrison claims the July 25th call was perfectly “legal” he seems worried enough about leaks to take it to legal council. So he knew that there was something very noteworthy said in the call that someone might want to link it. Mr. Morrison also talks about the highly “partisan” atmosphere of Washington, so again, he seems to know that what was discussed in the call would probably hurt Trump. So one could infer that while he thinks nothing was wrong with the call, he is worried that others (Democrats) might see it differently and leak it.

        • John Paul Jones says:

          Maybe I’m reading too closely here, but the statement – “I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed” – strikes me as ambiguous, in the sense that it could be read as admitting that even though something illegal was discussed, he didn’t particularly care. “Anything” makes this a slightly less likely reading, but still; it reads slightly weird to me.

          • timbo says:

            Perhaps he was simply trusting the opinion of the lawyers around him. There seems to be a lot of that sort of claim from the folks who like to claim that “the lawyers said it was okay so I did it that way!”

          • Drew says:

            It struck me as a very minimal & evasive defense of the legality of the call. Not really asserting that it was legal, but rather that he was concerned with other political/diplomatic things. Kind of like it was none of his concern whether what the President was doing was legal.

            There have been things leaking out during the entire Trump administration (esp. from Tillerson or his orbit, also John Kelly’s orbit, I think) saying or implying that Trump would float or even or things which were stopped by staff because it would be illegal to do them. It’s not unlikely that it’s pretty much an everyday occurrence that Trump will do this sort of thing and that most lower level staff just put their heads down and only worry about whether they themselves would be committing a felony by doing something he told them to do, otherwise just “letting Trump be Trump.”

            I didn’t look to see whether Morrison is a lawyer. But things have gotten to this pass in our government.

  9. Terrence says:

    A question for the attorneys here. Trump is accused of an abusing power, but isn’t the abuse of power, soliciting a bribe? He wanted a thing of value for governmental action.

    • P J Evans says:

      “quid pro quo” would be bribery. “Abuse of power” includes things like telling people they’re not allowed to testify even if subpoena’d, and threatening to sue or jail people who oppose him.

    • timbo says:

      The abuse of power is obvious. It is withholding Congressionally mandated funds to a foreign government to extort that foreign government into investigating US citizens for political purposes. At minimum, three federal laws are broken at that point, and perhaps several others, especially once a coverup gets underway. Or you could just play dumb, pay your taxes, and shut up when the next regime in the US decides it’s >your turn< to be investigated by the foreign government they pick to investigate you.

    • General Sternwood says:

      Giuliani, from whom we haven’t heard a peep since Tuesday. Somehow they finally figured out how to keep him away from the press!

      Or perhaps someone should be doing a wellness check?

  10. Vince says:

    Igor and his attorney were in court today. Fruman’s attorney, Todd Blanche (who also represents Paul Manafort), was requesting modifications to Igor’s bail agreement, which because he’s considered a flight risk, has him on house arrest with a GPS tracker and a $1 million bond.

    Attorney Blanche tried to argue that Fruman was not a flight risk, that even though he was arrested at the airport, that did not mean he was fleeing the country. The Judge said, ‘With a one-way ticket?’.

    Ya Burnt!

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