Three Things: Double, Double, Toil and Rubble

[NB: Check the byline, thanks!]

Happy Halloween to all our ghouls and goblins. We have plenty of tricks and not too many treats before us today.

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The House is currently debating H.Res. 660,

Directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes.

Note the word “continue,” as in this resolution acknowledges the House committees have already been working on an impeachment inquiry. The bill went through mark-up last night and is now the subject of banshee-like wailing from GOP House members like Jim Jordan.

Can you imagine being so stupid and unethical that you’d willingly allow yourself to be recorded in Congressional record as a whiner on behalf of a shakedown artist like Donald Trump? Nevertheless, the GOP persists in being ridiculous and on record.

The vote was initially expected at noon but GOP whining may push it later.

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We’ve also got two hearings today, the outcome of which may shape the House committees’ work on impeachment:

We’re drifting ever closer to revisiting United States v. Nixon (1974).

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Tim Morrison, who replaced Fiona Hill at the end of August when she left her position as National Security Council Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, has arrived at the House to give testimony today related to the Ukraine aid-for-Trump campaign scandal. Morrison’s background is in nuclear non-proliferation and pre-Trump GOP policy; he’s been characterized as a Bolton hawk.

Morrison resigned yesterday; his testimony today will be offered as a former federal employee.

Not certain what more Morrison will be able to add since he assumed Hill’s role more than a month after the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky. He’d been in his latest job less than two months.

But it would be nice to know if he is still seeing push back about the aid budgeted and approved by Congress for Ukraine. I haven’t seen anything indicating the aid has been released yet and it’s already past the end of the federal fiscal year. Office of Management and Budget’s associate director of national security programs and political appointee Michael Duffey had been given authority to hold the aid earlier this month. Duffey needs to be asked by the House if he still has orders to hold the aid, subrogating Congress’s authority in the process.

~ 0 ~

Watch out for trick-or-treaters as we approach evening. And look out for a tangerine troll tweeting madly as the day progresses.

This is an open thread. Bring your goodie bags here for inspection.

70 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Final tally on H.R. 660: 232 yeas, 196 nays, nearly split along party lines with independent Justin Amash voting yea with the Democrats.

    Two Dem reps. Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2, R+1) and Collin Peterson (MN-7, R+12) voted nay.

    Van Drew has absolutely no excuses for this in a continuing blue wave.

    Peterson better come up with one because his district is very rural and hit hard by the Trump tariffs and climate change. The local Democratic organization in his district needs to revisit his value to their constituency.

    Dem who voted Present:
    Donald McEachin (VA-4, D+10) <- No fucking excuse for this whatsoever. None. He was not at all at risk. Utterly chickenshit. He'd better be primaried. GOP who voted Present: Jody Hice (GA-10, R+10) <- Soon the GOP can't suppress votes, this one is gettable. John Rose (TN-6, R+24) <- Hope Democrat Dawn Barlow runs for this seat again because the time is right. William Timmons (SC-4, R+15) <- This seat's vulnerable and he knows it, just as Lindsey Graham must know South Carolina is going to be rocky next year. (I suppose I could have added this to the post as an update, hm?)

    • BobCon says:

      Van Drew has to worry about redistricting in three years too. NJ’s legislature could make life very hard for him without affecting the number of Dems it sends to the House. Strange thing for him to buck the tide over.

    • Rayne says:

      Zoe Tillman is covering the hearing re: House Dems’ subpoena of Don McGahn. Twitter thread in progress:

      The Kupperman hearing is at 4:00 pm EDT today.

  2. Pete T says:

    It’s so friggin hot/humid in South Florida – almost every overnight low has been a record high this month – the candy is gonna melt.

    People I know in Chicago and Wisconsin are costuming in snow suits this year.

    And most of California is pre-occupied with a real scary situation.

    Trump or Treat.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, my mom is in Florida, was whining to me about the 93F temp the other day. I can’t persuade her to leave her place which is only 3 miles from the beach and has now been in several near-misses over the last decade when hurricanes have passed by.

      Me: So what do you do when it’s hot like that?
      Mom: We stay indoors in the air conditioning. Every place has A/C.
      Me: But isn’t that like living indoors in the winter here up north? Every place has heat.
      Mom: . . .


      • Savage Librarian says:

        Now that the Trumps have officially declared Mar-a-lago to be their permanent residence, things are bound to get even hotter in Florida. Maybe that will encourage your folks to seek a cooler climate. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse. But maybe this is a sign that the Don is ready to make a deal. Whatever it is…Yuck.

    • Tom says:

      It’s been a climate change Hallowe’en here at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. There was talk of rescheduling trick-or-treating to tomorrow because of the heavy rain and high winds forecast for our area this evening. Also, it’s October 31st and all my houseplants and other tender green things are still sitting out on my front porch where they’ve been since May. Every other fall we’ve had a hard frost by now.

      • P J Evans says:

        Whereas parts of the Bay Area in California may get frost tonight. (It’s gotten below 50 at night in L.A. this week. Nice change from the earlier part of the month, when it was much warmer.)

  3. lawnboy79 says:

    OT. I was just wondering, now that the game plan has been revealed, what could have been the “quid pro quo ” in the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver? Mr. T. did mention the words China and Biden together recently. Love the blog, great work.

    • Rayne says:

      This being an open thread, every subject is fair game. This is a really good question; with Trump being a purely transactional creature, we need to look at every deal under negotiation as an opportunity for quid pro quo and possibly illegal like that with Ukraine.

      The question in Meng Wanzhou’s case is whether Trump would loop in Canada or not. I dunno.

      • Doug R says:

        Yeah, trump feels free to make off-hand remarks which would help Meng’s case to get the charges dropped while China holds a few Canadian citizens under threat of execution.

  4. P J Evans says:

    Van Drew didn’t even sign on to support impeachment. (I checked last night, after reading some of his remarks.) He really should be primaried.

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    Builders’ Bedrock

    “M” is for Madam, tough as nails
    “A” is for America sets her sails
    “D” is for Democracy hails
    “A” is for Always survive the gales
    “M” is for Memory of past tales

    “S” is for Sizing up the scales
    “P” is for Pushing aside some veils
    “E” is for Evading some snarly trails
    “A” is for Asking for appropriate jails
    “K” is for Kissing goodbye the fails
    “E” is for Emptying garbage pails
    “R” is for Ruling that law prevails

    • bmaz says:

      What happened today should have happened months ago. And Pelosi is still trying to place it all on a rocket docket where not all the crimes and evidence get set out for the public. She is still derelict.

      • BobCon says:

        At least we’re off the plan to vote before Thanksgiving. There is no way they finish with interviews, move on to hearings, write up a report, and then hold committee and floor action by late November, and probably not by Christmas, with Senate action to follow.

        I fear, though, she is going put the brakes on already slow investigations by other committees on the grounds that it will confuse voters, somehow.

        This is the time to ramp up, not down.The scope of the rot needs to be exposed sooner, not in some imaginary ideal time. They are going to regret wasting time which they will never get back.

      • Doug R says:

        I understand the sentiment-trust me, a part of me desperately wanted a Veruka Salt impeachment, but Nancy got all her ducks lined up and AT LEAST 51% of the electorate now agrees it’s time to impeach.

  6. BobCon says:

    I want to post a remembrance for sports (and more) site, which has essentially been killed by the private equity group that bought it.

    Jim Spanfeller, the owner, and manager Paul Maidment tried to pull of a classic private equity move when they bought Deadspin and sister sites, including Gizmodo and The Onion from Univision. They cut staff and tried to drive up revenue, clearly with the goal of sellling it for a profit.

    But Spanfeller and Maidment were incompetent and too arrogant to listen to anyone else. They abruptly shut down the politics-focused site Splinter months before 2020, and issued an edict that Deadspin had to only cover sports.

    What’s more, they signed a contract to carry awful autoplay ads, based on impossible to meet viewer targets, The Wall St Journal has detailed how the deal was a scam, and the ad sponsor has cancelled the deal, leaving Spanfeller and Maidment with a huge drop in readership with no revenue to show for it.

    Deadspin had always covered all kinds of things in addition to sports — food, child rearing, poop jokes, dogs, and politics, usually from a liberal point of view. When the staff refused to follow the edict, the top editor was fired. Almost every writer has now quit.

    Deadspin, Splinter, Gizmodo and of course The Onion had been profitable and heavily trafficked before Spanfeller bought them. But his hatred of liberal politics and his inept management drove, or is driving, them into the ground. It is an astonishingly inept, tragic story of awful incompetents run amok, shooting everyone including themselves, in the foot, back, and other body parts.

    • Rayne says:

      Need to collect info about all the local media outlets bought up since 2012 and screwed with by vulture capitalists including LA Weekly, because on the face of it there’s a pattern besides siphoning off any loose money in the outlets’ bank accounts. They are uniformly bought by entities with a libertarian to right-wing bent, with the probable exception of Los Angeles Times (though it was damaged by tronc before its sale).

      We need some angel investors to start buying these larger local news outlets to prevent them from being suffocated by capitalism and right-wing ideology.

  7. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    And meanwhile, over at Politico, sometime columnist and full-time Trump sycophant Rich “Sparklepants”Lowry bows in with what he believes to be Trump’s best defense:

    “That nothing came of it…”

    Kind of like telling the judge, “Well, your honor, I tried to rob that bank, but I forgot to put bullets in my gun and it was a Sunday, so the bank was closed anyways…”

    Didn’t the WSJ try to say something to the effect that Trump wasn’t deft enough to commit a crime?

    3 years in, and they still think he needs training wheels on his tricycle…

    Simply amazing…

    • BobCon says:

      That is a valid point, but here’s the really dumb thing about Lowry and a lot of the GOP (more are falling away from this point of view) — they are assuming this is all there is.

      That is such a stupid thing to think about Trump. There is always more. He will break the law for as long as he draws breath. And he will leave his defenders looking like chumps.

      To be clear, the GOP are not the only ones refusing to believe rule # 1. The press has stuck to it for years, and still can’t shake it. Pelosi believed it when she was blocking an impeachment inquiry, and she still doesn’t want to acknowledge how pervasive his criminal behavior is.

      But there is always more, and always will be.

  8. 200Toros says:

    Lt. Col. Vindman confirmed that the WH readout of the call with Zelensky had been altered to remove certain language. Do we know if the investigative committees are currently trying to get the actual transcript of this and other calls stored on the codeword-level server? Or whatever the thing is called.

    • Justlp says:

      Can’t remember where I read this, but someone posed the thought that one possible reason for the missing parts of the Ukraine call notes that Lt Col. Vindman testified he had tried to have added might be to make it not searchable on specific keywords (e.g. Burisma) if such a term were specified in a subpoena or discovery request/order. I don’t think Trump is that smart, but its it’s really disheartening to think there are so many enablers who might think that way and make it happen.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What you get when you type in the wrong passcode too often. Short term memory is the first thing that goes. Rudy and Donald have a lot in common.

    • Frank says:

      Just wondering if there might be an effort to obtain the translator notes or oral testimony from the infamous Helsinki meeting?

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

  9. Vince says:

    PBS Newshour just reported they contacted FIFTY House Republicans, yet not one would agree to appear on their program to discuss impeachment inquiry vote.


    • P J Evans says:

      The questions they’d be getting are too hard for them to answer – like “why are you afraid of what will come out?”

  10. klynn says:

    EW just retweet about a Russian hacker that Biden supposedly hired to steal Clinton’s emails?

    Well then Joe must have some killer info on the GOP since they were hacked at the same time.

    Any insights?

  11. Valley girl says:

    fwiw== interesting read:
    Tower of secrets: the Russian money behind a Donald Trump skyscraper
    The Trump Toronto reveals links between shadowy post-Soviet wealth and a future president
    July 12, 2018
    I got the link from this tweet:

    I had saved/bookmarked a direct link to the FT article, but that took me to the paid zone. This is why I am posting these odd-looking links. (I was able to retract my steps from a while back.)

  12. Molly Pitcher says:

    bmaz, Looks like the Card’s got three gems to make them a much better team. Kenyon Drake was insane after just three days on the team ?!?! The Niners are going to have to play much better against them when they come here.

  13. Thebuzzardman says:

    No link to the various stupid places I’ve seen it, but the frothy right’s take on Lt Col Vindman is that HE is in violation of the constitution, and not upholding his duties as an officer, because….something something something is testifying against the president, who is in his chain of command, and he didn’t properly escalate through his MILITARY chain of command before testifying, and that also testifying against the president is “politicizing” his position. Along those lines. And of course some people are eating it up, at least on social media.
    It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    Ah, here we go, one example of the BS/smear

    “Grievances are limited to professional unlawful, immoral or unethical behavior by anyone in the chain of command, except the Commander in Chief (who is judged by Congress and the voters). So, one must ask, did LTC Vindman receive an unlawful order to listen in on a phone call, to obfuscate what was discussed on the call or any other action related to Ukraine or the phone call? The answer is, probably not. He was told to listen and provide advice.

    However, if LTC Vindman believes he witnessed an unlawful act by his Commander in chief or a member of the administration or military, then he has a duty to report this to his chain of command, the military police, the Judge Advocate General, the Chaplain and/or the Inspector General (not Congress). From all indications, LTC Vindman did report his concerns to his chain of command and they chose to do nothing, which is an option available to the chain of command.”

  14. Pete T says:

    Re: Trump the “transactionalist” suggest to me that Ukraine is not the only one. Yes, China has been mentioned recently and hopefully dogged investigative reporters are on it. But, since inauguration how would one find out if any other Congressional appropriations have been “messed” with? And maybe not limit it to foreign but domestic too? A LOT of money flows via Congressional appropriations and there never is one cockroach. I know Congressional “pork” is a wink-wink scam, too. There’s been recent chatter about R Senators up for re-election being “bribed” by Trump directed campaign contributions too. What a complete piece of work.

  15. Salt of the Earth says:

    This is a legal question for the experts on this website. The name of the whistleblower is out there. If it is he, as alleged, he is a CIA analyst who was embedded in the White House and acted as a confidential informant for the FBI. Is this legal?

    [link shared by user: ht tps:// ]

    • Vicks says:

      The republicans have an uncanny ability to root out the actions of the deep-state-secret-society every time their leader gets in a jam.
      Could the whistleblower be the insurance policy the two lover’s were discussing?
      Now that Hillary’s! ability to bend time is out in the open, maybe this whistleblower is the key to a nefarious plot to redo the 2016 election entirely?
      Seriously, if this half-wit conspiracy nonsense is what it takes to defend the president of the United States, his supporters need to establish some boundaries; draw a freaking line on how low they are willing to go.
      Better yet, the once decent among them need to take a step back and ask themselves if this is what it takes, is their guy even worth defending?

    • P J Evans says:

      I think that the identity is protected by law, which would make releasing it illegal. (I’m sure the resident lawyers will weigh in on this.)

      • Salt of the Earth says:

        I asked a simple question and get a diatribe. Is it legal for the FBI to use a CIA asset to spy in the White House? And I think the whistleblower’s job is protected legally, not his identity. This may be different, but I was required by VA law to report suspected child abuse, which is an anonymous report. However, when the report was “founded”, I was subpoenaed to testify – no longer anonymous. The father is still in prison, but is one scary individual. Fear for my safety did not matter.

        [link shared by user: ht tps:// ]

        • P J Evans says:

          The whistleblower’s identity is protected by law. Not by the mandatory-reporting law, which is different.
          I’m sure that lawyers who comment here will explain it.

        • bmaz says:

          You got a “diatribe” because you are a troll from a right wing website that wandered in with ludicrous Fox News talking points in the form of idiotic questions and statements. Get lost.

  16. Stephen says:

    We had quite a time, didn’t we, writing to our assorted U.S. Representatives to nudge them toward opening the impeachment process? And maybe all our letters and phone calls made a difference. Well, here is a new idea to pass along, this time to your U.S. Senators. It won’t ever really come to pass, but it should become part of the national (and congressional) conversation. The bottom line is that Moscow Mitch’s ads promising to stop the impeachment process/prevent the President’s conviction mean, literally, that he is unfit to serve on the Senatorial “jury” for the trial. We should be raising hell about this. Before hearing any evidence, he has decided the case – not kosher. For what it’s worth, following is the text of the letter I sent to my Senators yesterday.

    Dear Senator X,
    I am writing with regard to the trial of President Trump in the Senate which is likely to take place early next year, assuming the House of Representatives continues in its present course. Naturally this is a juncture of historic importance.
    My specific concern is not with the guilt or innocence of the President. I have an opinion on the matter, but in the end it is a matter for the Senate to decide, as you will be the jurors weighing the evidence and rendering a verdict. Naturally, this means that each and every U.S. Senator should be willing to carry out this momentous responsibility.
    My concern is with the fact (and I use the word “fact” advisedly) that one of your number has made it clear that he will not do so – that he will, indeed, do everything he can to prevent conviction irrespective of the evidence. This has been made clear not only in conversations with journalists (where a person may misspeak) but in carefully produced campaign-related advertisements. I refer, of course, to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
    As you are well aware, during the ordinary process of voir dire jurors will be disqualified for cause if they exhibit a strong bias for or against a defendant, much as a judge will recuse him- or herself from a case in which judicial objectivity is impossible. It seems clear that Mr. McConnell should not be allowed to vote with his peers on the matter of the President’s guilt or innocence.
    I am aware that there is no established process by which a Senator may be excluded from this process, and that the Senator in question commands considerable power and respect. But the question of his ability to judge should be raised publicly and often, unless and until he agrees to recuse himself – as Senators serving on committees often do when they have a conflict of interest with regard to a particular matter.
    Thank you for your consideration of this admittedly unusual and perhaps provocative request.

  17. vicks says:

    Sorry about that, too many conversations with my nutty family.
    How about a peace offering…
    The Intelligence Community has a different set of rules than what is covered by most federal laws, (which as you pointed out are mainly concerned with protection from retaliation and job loss.)
    10 Section 7(b) of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.) provides for the identity of an employee making a complaint, such as a whistleblower, to remain undisclosed to the extent practicable:
    The Inspector General shall not, after receipt of a complaint or information from an employee,
    disclose the identity of the employee without the consent of the employee, unless the Inspector General determines such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation.

    As for spies in the white house, I always assumed the people that gathered the intelligence that keeps our country safe already walk among us, even more so at high risk locations.
    I don’t know if I am correct but to me it’s reasonable to believe that there is a (legal) protocol that could put an asset in the white house.
    Just like all the other allegations the save the Trump team are making about this whistle blower (and others) claiming he is a spy can’t be processed logically; why would someone who’s job is to collect information, write reports and move on to the next assignment stand up and throw themselves smack in the middle of a legal and political battle?

  18. Tom says:

    As President Trump’s defenses on the impeachment front continue to crumble, The Washington Post is reporting today (November 2, 2019) that Mexican smugglers are using readily available cordless power tools, such as $100 reciprocating saws, to cut holes “in a matter of minutes” through the new sections of the southern border wall, allowing people and drugs to pass through into the U.S.. Ironically, it is the very design of the new sections of the wall that facilitates this; once cut through with a saw, the long, vertical, concrete-filled steel bollards have enough flex in them to be pushed to one side creating a breach. Good thing the wall is impossible to climb over, like the President says.

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