Time to Start Calling Bill Barr “Prosecutor General”

At its core, the Ukraine story is about Rudy Giuliani’s effort to remake the United States in Ukraine’s image.

He’s doing that in two related ways. First, he’s trying to discredit the very notion of investigating a billionaire politician for using his position for personal profit. And, he’s trying to legitimize the selection of top law enforcement officers in a given country based on whether they investigate the political opponents of said billionaire politician.

It’s a two-fold strategy to embrace kleptocracy.

Which is why it’s so interesting that, yesterday, Barr responded to a question about Rudy’s alleged crimes by refusing to comment on “the shenanigans” “going on inside the Beltway.”

Curiously, WaPo’s Matt Zaptosky didn’t reveal that he asked this question, rather than asking Barr about his own obstruction of the investigation into the whistleblower complaint. In many ways, Barr’s activities are even more inappropriate, and it’s time DOJ beat reporters started reporting on that fact.

Rudy and Barr are simply mirror images at this point, both engaged in efforts to turn law enforcement into the tool of one or more corrupt oligarchs. And in his response, Barr suggests that the locus of activity in question is not Madrid or Vienna or the Trump International or any other location where Rudy has held meetings in the service of turning law enforcement into a political tool, but the Beltway, where impeachment is happening.

Which is why I think it’s time to stop calling Barr the “Attorney General of the United States,” and instead, to start calling him the “Prosecutor General,” the term Ukraine uses to refer to the series of prosecutors Ukraine has had who serve the interests of corruption and self-dealing rather than serve law enforcement. After all, Barr was the oligarch-President’s hand-picked choice to come in and not just thwart investigations into the President’s own self-dealing but also to launch investigations into anyone who challenges the President.

Sure, Barr might still believe he’s doing this in the name of corruption. But that’s only true because in the echo chamber he occupies, daring to investigate organized crime amounts to corruption.

As AG, Barr is no better than the corrupt prosecutors that the US has long lectured other countries about. And as such, we should start referring to him using the title he has earned, Prosecutor General.

Update: Zapotosky reported on a question some other reporter (whom he doesn’t credit) asked at that event.

Attorney General William P. Barr said Wednesday that he did not remember President Trump ever asking him to hold a news conference declaring the commander in chief broke no laws in a controversial phone call with the leader of Ukraine, but he acknowledged discussions with the White House on how his department would communicate to the media about the matter.

At an event in Memphis about a Justice Department crackdown on gun violence, a reporter inquired, “Mr. Attorney General, did the president ask you to publicly defend him regarding the Ukrainian call, and if so, why did you not want to do that?”

“If you’re talking about press reports that he asked me to have a news conference, the fact is, I don’t remember any such request,” Barr said. “In fact, my recollection is that I told the White House that we would do what we would normally do, and that is issue a press statement, which we did, and that was not an issue. There was no pushback on that.”

This is basically confirmation that he provided what the White House asked — an exoneration — but that he delegated the actual statement.

Again, it is impossible for DOJ to have done any of the connect-the-dots investigation mandated by post-9/11 reforms. So this is not just confirmation that Barr acceded to the White House request for some kind of exoneration, but also that he responded directly to the White House in whitewashing that investigation.

157 replies
  1. jonb says:

    Will the judicial committee be providing a subpoena to the inner circle? and will they hold them in contempt?. The American people should hear from those inside this crime family.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Prosecutor General describes as “shenanigans” what’s “going on these days” inside the Beltway – when asked a question about the conduct of Giuliani and his associcates.

    Would that be the Darby O’Gill and the Little People shenanigans or Provisional IRA shenanigans? Asking for a friend who enjoyed the Maze during the Troubles, at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

    • Eureka says:

      Either way, Prosecutor General Bill Barr is beyond the pale.

      That was worth my idiom card, even though I don’t like the etymological swipe it takes at (our) Irish ancestors.

      • P J Evans says:

        One of mine was reportedly kicked out of Ulster, back in the 17th century, for being too unruly. (Family ended up as Quakers in Pennsylvania, and the one who was my ancestor, in the 18th century, was kicked out of the Society for being too unruly.)

        • Eureka says:

          You are making me laugh, PJ, from how your story resonates with one of mine. Short version: I read a long tale about the ancient (lol) origins of a family crest, immediately recalled an analogous act from my childhood, and said YES, that (ridiculous- yet- completely- sensical behavior) is ME.

          We have our humor and other persistent traits, I will say that.

  3. klynn says:

    Posted this on Jim’s post but it fits here better.

    Ben Knight, from your Twitter thread about Barr, wins the internet for defining Shenanigans:

    A merry word used by criminals to describe crimes.

  4. bg says:

    We engaged in sidewalk shenanigans outside the Federal Courthouse but missed the Barr. I would say the response from passing motorists was quite positive overall.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    And…. we’re off!! Nunes isn’t backing down with another fact-free rant after Schiff’s rational exposition. He even said that the Ds read out the abridged “transcript” after modifying it. Steele Dossier made it in, and the Ukrainian angle is apparently the go-to choice (“low-rent Ukrainian sequel” to the Russia hoax). Said Obama only provided “blankets” to stop Russian aggression.

    Devin’s demands before the hearing proceeds:
    Full extent of the prior coordination between Ds and the whistleblower
    Full extent that the WB was a never Trumper
    Full extent of Hunter Biden’s actions in Ukraine

    This will be fun.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Schiff called out Jordan for a false statement. Jordan and the Rs want the WB to testify today. The GOP is going to proceduralize this ti death and are already trying to talk over Schiff.

      Witness George Kent had a bowtie, nice touch.

    • Vinnie Gambone says:

      Screw the summary. Why is no mone clamoring for the full transcript of the 7/25 call ? Better yet, if there’s a recording, let’s hear it. I’d love to have first hand knowledge. Release the tape.

  6. Katherine M Williams says:

    Barr suggests that the locus of activity in question is . . . the Beltway, where impeachment is happening.

    Ignoring that Administration employees engage anti-American activities should be investigated by the DOJ wherever they do their plotting, be in Trump’s favorite McDonalds in D.C. or an elite restaurant in Rome or Moscow.

  7. klynn says:

    Re Taylor statement:

    “I will leave no stone unturned.”


    Pretty sure that “stone” should be capitalized.

    This reads like code.

  8. Ken Muldrew says:

    Once Barr delivers his “report” and whips up the Fox news mob, perhaps he can be further demoted to the “Procureur-général de la lanterne”.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        The “prosecutor of the lamp post” was a nickname given to Camille Desmoulins during the French Revolution because his writing often led the mob to pull someone that he had indicted out of their home and hang them from the nearest lamp post.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I see Barr as more of a driver than a mere toady. His prior experience covering up prior GOP scandals means he was able to show Individual-1 how to frame the discussion, and so far I-1 seems to have stayed within the framework Barr is trying to create. Never mind that it is not supported by law or fact, but I haven’t seen any claim made not already floated by Barr first. No doubt Barr also signed off on both “transcripts” (we still haven’t seen the first telecon’s docs yet) to limit the damage to the Palace.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Other than an intense desire to glorify himself and to make money any way he can – because he more often loses it – Trump is a basket of changeable whims.

      Barr, on the other hand, understands himself and how the system works. He manipulates it as best he can to further his strongly religio-authoritarian priorities. From that perspective, Trump is along for the ride rather than a driver behind Barr.

  9. OldTulsaDude says:

    It becomes clear that the nexus between Trump and Putin is in their mutual acceptance and encouragement of corruption as normal and preferred. Once a country is corrupted, everyone interacting with that country becomes tainted.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      “Once a country is corrupted, everyone interacting with that country becomes tainted.”

      What’s that saying that got popularized in The Godfather?

      The fish rots from the head down…

      Has Zelynsky woken up and found a horse’s head in his bed yet?

      Everytime I see a picture of that poor guy, he has a look on his face that says, “Please, someone shoot me NOW…”

      • MattyG says:

        DT wakes up every morning to a horse head in his bed. Or whatever the Russian is for horse head.

        With any luck the Ukraine scandal will encourage the wavering (press and rank & file) to revisit the 2016 election shenanigans with a greater understanding of DTs MO, his “peculiar” relationship to Putin and his army of oligarch go-betweens, and the repetative coincidence of favorable policy towards Russia.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          To reiterate your point, from the post:

          Sure, Barr might still believe he’s doing this in the name of corruption. But that’s only true because in the echo chamber he occupies, daring to investigate organized crime amounts to corruption.

          EW’s point is chilling: can Barr no longer grasp the fact that he is toadying to the Russian mob and its enablers, among them Trump and Wilbur Ross? That Barr’s education, talent, connections, and experience are put into the service of criminals, but he remains obstinately blind to the venal interests that he serves?

  10. BobCon says:

    I think another candidate for Barr’s title might be Grand Inquisitor, after the Dostoevsky character who proudly lectures Jesus about the superiority of a theocracy that strips freedom and knowledge from the people. The authoritatian Grand Inquisitor pays lip service to the Gospels but follows the precepts of Satan.

  11. Vince says:

    I’m hoping someone will point out, in response to the Repubs claim that the money was eventually released to Ukraine therefore no harm/no foul, that ignores the fact that only occurred AFTER the top lawyer at the CIA made a CRIMINAL REFERRAL to the Department of Justice. So the hold on the funds only happened AFTER they got caught.

      • Vince says:

        Chairman Schiff also made the excellent point that the whistleblower complaint, which by law was supposed to go to congress, instead went to the White House, so they then knew the jig was up, and only then released the funds to Ukraine, again only after getting caught. This was immediately after the CIA lawyer made the criminal referral.

    • Frank Probst says:

      My dream idea (and yes, I know this is never going to happen) is that the first person the House impeaches is Mick Mulvaney, who is the head of the Office of Management and Budget, for blowing off his subpoena. If Congressional Oversight covers anything, it’s the management of the budget. He reportedly is the one who froze Congressionally-approved funds at the direction of the President. He needs to answer for that. If he’s impeached, then the question goes over to the Senate. Then the Senate will have to decide whether or not Congress’s subpoena power has any real teeth to it, or if people can simply view a Congressional subpoena as an invitation to testify rather than a demand.

    • VinnieGambone says:

      They released the money after Raytheon et al complained to the Senators they bought complaining the delay hurts their bottom line. That’s the real reason. That should be brought up in the hearings. Trump was screwing up the deal (s). No wars, no profits.

  12. Glacier says:

    Rudy, Barr, trump and the GOP all belong in the same corrupt conspiracy box. I hate to harp on my favorite new topic, but all these madmen and monsters are all conspiring to destroy the American Constitution and make what is illegal into normalized political behavior — and to be unaccountable for lawlessness. For some reason that theme seems weak, i.e., for some reason, it’s not enough to have evidence or provide an impeachment setting, to offset the threat that exists with having these people in positions of power — positions to abuse power. Therefore, the position of being a powerless citizen, watching a powerless impeachment process unfold — while the corrupt Senate/jury is waiting (in uniformity) to reject the House investigation. Ideology, politics and hypermedia are coalesced into a polarized split, where this game of politics is more important than patriotism. If anyone or thing can be recognized as the element to destroy America, it’s the GOP — they share greater guilt than trump, in being a representative party that has united themselves to reject the Constitution — specifically, Republican senators, who swore an oath ==> “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;”. How is it that the GOP is so willing to break that oath — and what is it that they actually gain in the act of treason? How can they ignore the reality that Congress has superior powers to overrule the executive branch — and to ignore heir duty to defend fellow Americans. Perhaps that is their out, to defend an increasingly small group of zealots who want to re-shape America into the nightmare they envision — to become patrons of organizations that don’t agree in Constitutional law. The ugly polarity that does exist might be normal, if the current GOP faction of law-breakers didn’t resemble a cancer, or a group of mobsters or nazis — but at the heart of this all, is the concern that the majority of Americans that swirl around in chaos, simply don’t care or they don’t understand what’s at stake. Will Americans care about any of this, or will apathy pave a path forward for trump to kill anyone he wants,for as long as he wants? People like barr are clearly opening the door to hell and it’s amazing to think that door will continue to open wider if people don’t care!

    • rip says:

      Sorry. I just can’t read a dense melange of words, no matter how erudite they may be. Please learn how to use paragraphs. And maybe in something this voluminous add an introduction/body/conclusion.

      I could go on and on, but I needn’t.

      • Glacier says:

        I appreciate the heads up — forgot that most people are limited to 280 characters or less or jpegs with short slogans

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Please use paragraph structure.
      But I’m from Out West, and grew up in communities with many Mormons.
      Although many have voted GOP for decades now, the people that I grew up with have no cultural, religious, nor business affiliations with someone like Trump, who appears to be a money-launderer for the Russians. I can’t even imagine him functioning with the LDS environment; it is inconceivable to me that he’d ever have attained any position of trust within the Mormon hierarchy.

      There are quite a few Mormon US Senators, and IMVHO, they are more rooted in community, more decent, tougher, and have a stronger belief system than the fundamentally weaker Nunes/Gym Jordan/Mark Meadows Fox-propagandist wing of the party. They are also far more ethical than the Haley Barbour-racist wing of the party. (Also, in numerous cases, my acquaintance are in what used to be called ‘mixed marriages’ and have little patience for racist mewling of any flavor, because you are talking about their kids and grandkids in ways that are abhorrent.)

      (In case you were unaware, Mormon youth go on a voluntary experience around the age of 21-23, often to foreign nations, to do service work. They tend to have a more global perspective than many other Americans, and also strong family and community structures.)

      There are Mormons throughout the American West, and that translates to many Western senators, who are of the Mormon faith — or who represent large Mormon populations. Harry Reid, no longer in the Senate, was a Mormon convert; Romney was raised in the faith. Those men are quite different as individuals, but notably neither has any cultural nor economic affiliation with a money-laundering fool like Trump.

      I still hold out hope that Mormons in the US Senate will be among the first to turf out Trump, but they won’t do it without due process, and they won’t do it simply for political expedience. They’ll need piles of evidence, which will be organized through the process of House Impeachment Hearings.

      Don’t sell those folks short yet; I still hold out hope that when the chips are down, they’ll retain fidelity to the Constitution. These are people who — l literally — made deserts bloom, and built institutions like BYU. They’ll not cower before Trump. I’d lay a bet on their toughness.

      • Gretab says:

        While I agree with many of your comments on Mormons, I disagree that Romney would have no affinity for a money laundering Trump. He is a venture capitalist, and stripped the assets of many a company that drove them into bankruptcy. That is just a legal form of money laundering. While Romney definately has better family and community values than Trump, his monetary values are right on par.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        Um, the Mormons enabled the Meadows Mountain massacre, in which they wanted the US government to believe a group of emigrants from Missouri were killed by Native Americans. Yes, this was in the 19th century, but the church has a lot to answer for. And, in all honesty, it’s not clear to me the Mormon senator who counts is really a big defender of the Constitution.

    • Rayne says:

      You’ll note other community members have issues with your comment due to lack of paragraph breaks.

      I’ll offer a more specific guide: when writing on the internet, the optimum paragraph length for ease of reading and retention is 100 words.

      You’ve used 409 without any break which comes across as breathless rambling. It’s also difficult to read on smaller mobile device displays, encouraging readers to simply scroll by without reading.

  13. RWood says:

    Pleased with Taylor. Even more so with Kent. I like the way he recognizes opportunities to insert a barb here and there without giving the Repub questioner a way to counter him. If I were Mr. Goldman I would consider directing more of my questions his way.

    What I really wanted to see was Kent picking the perfect time to interrupt Gym Jordan’s ranting with a request for him to speak up.

    • 200Toros says:

      Ditto on Kent. Cool as a cuke, and clearly knows his stuff. Great part was where he obliterated the Repub’s ridiculous attempt to portray trump as a great crusader against corruption (HA), by detailing what an actual anti-corruption policy looks like.

      • bmaz says:

        Kent was absolutely superb. Seriously good. Taylor too, but it was far more known how he would present, but Kent was like a lightning bolt. Wow.

        • BobCon says:

          Senior longterm State Department personnel — as opposed to politicos — tend to be very smart and very savvy.

          It’s a huge hit to the national interest when they get purged or sidelined, like what happened during the McCarthy era, the run up to the Iraq War, and the Trump era under Tillerson and Pompeo.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The up or out filtering is severe. Then there’s learning to adjust gracefully – without skipping a beat – during the transition between widely divergent administrations.

            To have prospered over nearly three decades requires discipline, intellect, street smarts, and language skills, and an understated assertiveness foreign to most members of Congress. It is quite an achievement.

        • foggycoast says:

          +1. Kent and Taylor today told the story in a compelling way that the general public could understand. it sounded very much like a screenplay. hopefully lots of reasonably minded people were listening. they restore a bit of faith that there are good people out there that will do their best to ensure that the right thing happens here.

        • timbo says:

          He’s definitely the most meticulous of all the witnesses in these hearings… at least that I’m aware of so far. If you read his released earlier transcript, you definitely see someone who is on the ball when it comes to facts and documenting things. He attempts to be succinct as well.

          During today’s hearing Kent tried to be as diplomatic as he could under the circumstances and, if one pays attention, it seems that he actually filed a note to VP Biden’s office at the time that Hunter’s seat on the board of Bursima may not be a good idea… which, so help me, I don’t recall reading about in his deposition transcript— I assume that that little fact may have been blacked out in the early public copy I read… smh

        • 200Toros says:

          I also liked how Kent would say, modestly, “well, if I remember correctly…” and then proceed to recite every possible relevant freaking detail of said incident, citing chapter, verse, city, date, government ministries, the names of any relevant players involved and the US policy agenda in force at that time. Stone cold FSO excellence on display, THAT is precisely the kind of person you want executing foreign policy, not the insane corrupt former mayor and idiot treasonous president…

        • timbo says:

          Here’s Kent being extra cautious today, from the transcripts:

          Michael Turner: (01:02)
          Now, Kurt Volker did have contact with the President, and contact with President on Ukraine. Mr., Ambassador Taylor, you said that he’s a man of highest integrity. Well, I know Kurt Volker, and I know he served as the NATO ambassador. He served as the Director of the McCain Institute. He’s of the highest professional ethics, one of the most knowledgeable people about Europe. He’s absolutely a truthful man. Mr. Kent, would you agree with Ambassador Taylor, that he’s of the highest integrity?

          George Kent: (01:28)
          I believe Kurt Volker has served the U.S. as a public servant, very well.

    • Vicks says:

      They both did a great job and I could just imagine people watching this part of the hearings nodding to themselves in agreement and imagining that this is what REAL leaders should look like.
      I also thought it was far too easy for Jordan and company to proceed to break the spell with their circular logic.
      That being said I don’t think it really matters if I noticed that team Jordan’s strategy was mostly to revive old messengers and beat dead horses, what matters is if those not already invested in an outcome matters noticed the lack of facts addressing the actual accusations made against Trump.
      I don’t have a clue.

    • holdingsteady says:

      Agreed, thank you!
      I remember one such barb involving corrupt people getting pissed off when efforts are made to curb corruption (referencing former Ambassador Yovanovitch being good at her job). Both witnesses were compelling.
      Loved it!

    • Tom says:

      I was hoping someone would observe that Jordan seemed to be wrestling to come to terms with the facts of the matter.

    • Tom says:

      Kent and Taylor both have class and displayed the ease and self-confidence of men who know whereof they speak and have the facts to back them up. The Republicans, on the other hand, looked like Trump supplicants desperately searching for straws to grasp.

      • Jenny says:

        Yes, Taylor and Kent were stellar. Both conscious, confident and knowledgeable. Two individuals concerned about the constitution. The GOP were combative. They are always looking for a fight just like their leader.

        Tom, good one with: “Jordan seemed to be wrestling…” Excellent observation. He seems to constantly be in the wrestling mode ready for a take down.

        • Tom says:

          Yes, when Jordan was unable to pin down Kent and Taylor as Never-Trumpers, I thought he was going to lose hold of his temper and shower them with abuse.

          • Jenny says:

            Yes, Jordan has a temper. Angry man. He might try another “take down” with former Ambassador Yovanovitch tomorrow or next week with other witnesses.

            The other story is how career foreign service officers are poorly treated by this administration.

            Shame on pompous Pompeo for not supporting the State department employees. Although, more will be revealed about how he is in on this crime with the occupant in the WH.

            As an anonymous ambassador said,”He is like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.”

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think these two headlines capture the problem for both the US and the UK:

    The Tories rely on Russian money – that’s why they ignore Russian meddling


    Tories have ignored Russian meddling for years


    If it works in those two bastions of democracy, including the home of the Mother of Parliaments, why would the Russians hesitate to do it everywhere?

  15. 200Toros says:

    Weakest Repub argument today – “Anyone who doesn’t personally know and regularly talk to the president needs to shut up and sit down.”
    Jordan, good lord what a pathetic excuse for a human, he took positive glee in attempting to demean and belittle Ambassador Taylor. There’s your human scum.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      andy lassner Verified account

      Follow Follow @andylassner
      More Important question.

      When @Jim_Jordan refers to the “whistleblower”, does he mean the referee who has come forward to say that Jim stood by while wrestlers were being sexually assaulted in the locker room showers?

      Cc: @HouseGOP

      7:38 AM – 13 Nov 2019

    • Jenny says:

      Jordan is a bully. Best response was from Rep. Welch.

      Jim Jordan: “There is one witness, one witness, that they won’t bring in front of us. They won’t bring in front of the American people. That’s the guy who started it all, the whistle-blower. Nope. Four hundred thirty-five members of Congress, only one gets to know who that person is, only one member of Congress has a staff that gets to talk to that person. The rest of us don’t. Only chairman Schiff knows who the whistleblower is. We don’t. We will never get the chance. We will never get the chance to see the whistle-blower raise his right hand, swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”

      Welch: “I’d say to my colleague, I’d be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

        • holdingsteady says:

          And laughter ensued! Wondered for hours what the witty line was and
          I had to look it up later because Welch’s comment was drowned out by NPR announcing each congress persons name and party, in effect drowning out their first words.

          • RWood says:

            NPR was seriously irritating.

            Why they felt the need to talk over the questions AND tell me what I was listening to every five minutes (as if i didn’t already know) was a mystery that had me yelling at my cars radio.

      • Frank Probst says:

        I’m not sure how charges are laid out in an impeachment case, but could the Mueller report be bundled up with all of the more recent obstructions of justice into one big count of obstruction of justice?

    • Sandwichman says:

      He should. This Ukraine business is clearly a continuation (and possible attempted consummation) of the Russia collusion/conspiracy/obstruction.

      • MattyG says:

        Yep. DT, the gift that keeps on giving. It doesn’t help (the US) that DT actually appears to enjoy paying off Putin – well maybe Helsinki made him sweat a bit. Has the Kremlin ever reaped such rewards for so basic an investment? GOP, NRA & WH. Not to mention Brexit…

        • P J Evans says:

          He’s getting something for those payoffs. I don’t know if it’s just the praise, or if he believes that Putin will get him that Moscow tower he wants so much.
          Either way, he’s dealing with the devil, and will lose. Bigly.

  16. Sandwichman says:

    Anyone else get the sense from the ambassadors’ opening statements that there were not one but two quid pro quos in play? Besides the obvious meeting at the White House and arms for the favor of a public announcement of investigations into Burisma/Bidens.2016, there is the more subtle outcome of Zelenskiy being weakened in negotiations with Putin as a consequence of having been forced to make the humiliating announcement, thus delivering to Putin his reward for having helped Trump in 2016.

  17. Frank Probst says:

    Off-topic: I think it’ll take at least two days to see any real reaction on the impeachment hearings, but my take is that it went pretty well for the Democrats.

    But EW was also Tweeting about the Stone trial, which wrapped up closing arguments today. Do you have any sense of how the closing arguments went? You’ve said before that you thought the witness tampering charge was weaker than the lying charges. I thought the witness tampering was pretty clear cut. The defense was basically that these two men have been throwing death threats at one another for 20 years, so this was just typical banter for them. Was there ANY evidence that either of them had made a death threat against the other one in the last 20 years? Because if there wasn’t, I don’t see how the jury doesn’t convict on that charge. What am I missing?

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      Part of me thinks that this is all the usual deliberate shit storm convergence of chaos that accompanies everything Trump touches. Not to mention, Erdogan is in town today.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m annoyed by this headline at SFGate: “GOP lawyer steals the show at impeachment hearing”
      It makes him sound like a star, instead of just another one of the clowns pushing conspiracy theories to protect their Dear leader.

  18. Kai-Lee says:

    Witchsmeller Pursuivant? Seems apt. Talking to spirits and all that Opus Dei/Enquirer-style right wing nonsense.

  19. sproggit says:

    It is rare for me to disagree with the insight and analysis you regularly bring to your articles, but in this case I respectfully disagree.

    At its core, the Ukraine story is *not* about Rudy Giuliani’s effort to remake the United States in Ukraine’s image, it is about Vladimir Putin’s determination to preserve and enhance the regional domination and global presence of Russia.

    In January 2008, Ukraine announced a plan to consider Ukraine’s entry to NATO at the planned Bucharest summit. On January 25th, the Ukraine Opposition Party blocked regular parliamentary procedures to prevent that plan from completing.

    In February 2010, newly-eleted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Yanukovych walked back the plan. Despite international observers judging the election free and fair, Yanukovych adopted a progressively pro-Russian stance (sound familiar), resulting in a November 2013 uprising that led to his ousting as President. Yanukovych fled to Russia, where he remains in exile.

    Ukraine has critical strategic importance to Russia, given that there are 7 major gas pipelines that cross the Russia-Ukraine border, routing gas through the country and westwards to Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland (and onwards). Ukraine has significant additional coastline bordering the Black Sea. Lastly, Ukraine has, in the east of the country, a significant number of ethnic Russian-speaking locals.

    One of the fundamentally important pieces of information that have come from individuals such as US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who indicated that

    1. They were concerned about the gas pipeline being used as a vector for corruption in the country
    2. The United States wanted to help Ukraine “ween itself off” Russian gas, which might put some of those pipelines (and the critical revenue and influence they bring) at risk.

    So my assessment is that Rudy Giuliani is a useful idiot (in more way than one). Russia set up proxies in Ukraine to make large amounts of “legitimate” money in Ukraine from Russian gas, funds which were specifically intended to corrupt the Ukrainian government. When Marie Yovanovich and other US agents worked to stamp out corruption, Russia responded by working to undermine that resistance – they had Yovanovich recalled and have worked tirelessly since then to reverse gains made.

    Trump’s actions – the whole Joe Biden story – seems to be getting a lot of oxygen at the moment, but my sense is that it was more of an opportunistic side-show. Russia needed a change in US policy toward Ukraine. Trump helped to provide that, but he worked his own side-deal, demanding that Ukraine help “dig up dirt” on the Bidens.

    Dare say that Putin is annoyed that the whole thing came in to the light of day thanks to Trump’s bumbling incompetence and the honorable actions of the whistleblower, but I think the real big picture is not orbiting Rudy – or even Trump – but Putin.

  20. Tom says:

    Americans may have a tendency to think that Ukraine is ‘way over there’ and that we should not get overly concerned or involved in whatever disputes the government in Kiev may have with Russia. However, Russia is right on the doorstep of the U.S. in the Bering Strait. It may sound fanciful, but what if Trump’s supine attitude towards the fate of Ukraine were to encourage Putin to become adventurous in the Aleutians and Alaskan waters?

    • sproggit says:

      Tom, you’re right, but I think that wasn’t what prompted the US to support NATO and European allies as the end of the Second World War gradually morphed in to the Cold War. No. What concerned the US – what perhaps President Trump doesn’t see – is that a gradually expanding Russia (then USSR) could easily just roll westwards from the iron curtain. They were already half way across Germany; they already had a presence in Poland, Romania, etc. If Russia had expanded into (invaded) West Germany, France, Italy and Spain/Portugal, then it would have meant that the whole of Europe, under Soviet domination, would have stood against the United States (and perhaps Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

      So the real threat from Russian expansion is the risk that Russia would get their hands on the military/industrial and geopolitical influence of wealthy, industrialized, technologically advanced and highly capable western European nations.

      Suddenly all those resources under Soviet Control/influence would transform Russia (then the USSR) to be the largest global superpower, by a wide margin.

      That, I think, was what prompted the creation of NATO. (I could be wrong; NATO was formed before I was born…)…

      • Tom says:

        You’re right about the fears NATO partners had for what the Soviets might be tempted to do in Europe during the Cold War. The U.S. Army carried out intensive analyses of the Battle of the Bulge to help develop contingency plans in case the Red Army ever attempted its own blitzkrieg in the West.

    • Eureka says:

      However, Russia is right on the doorstep of the U.S. in the Bering Strait. It may sound fanciful, but what if Trump’s supine attitude towards the fate of Ukraine were to encourage Putin to become adventurous in the Aleutians and Alaskan waters?

      That’s part of my concern as well, as per a convo we had awhile back (the one about the white nationalist, pro-RU gun nutters in Washington state– the thread I linked by the solar installer guy, remember?). Without getting into the vacillating details (decades of scientific and “scientific” debates), there are reasons as to even the original peopling of the Americas why Putin’s RU may wish to stake a claim here.

      Beringia was the original land bridge, after all.

  21. harpie says:

    Speaking of Barr, and thinking of July 25, 2019, I looked back to that date and found:

    6:43 PM – 25 Jul 2019

    Trump says he has granted Attorney General William Barr the ability to share classified intelligence documents pertaining to the Russia investigation with Devin Nunes

    Also, while Trump was extorting Ukraine by withholding arms sales, this:

    7:35 PM – 25 Jul 2019

    Trump admin messaging, after Trump vetoed bills aimed at blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia: Pompeo to Fox News: ‘It sends a message to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that we’re with them and that we’re going to support them and that they are a good ally in keeping Americans safe’ / 2. Asked about concerns in Congress Trump overrode Congress to push through arms sales [to SA], State Dept spokeswoman today in press briefing said: “Well, the Congress voted. They sent legislation to the President. He vetoed it. Ain’t democracy grand? Next.”

    • harpie says:

      This was Trump’s schedule on Friday, July 26, 2019

      9:00 AM Pool Call Time In-House Pool Call Time
      The White House

      12:00 PM Official Schedule
      The President receives his intelligence briefing, Oval Office Closed Press

      2:00 PM Official Schedule
      The President meets with the Secretary of State and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Oval Office Closed Press

      3:45 PM Pool Report
      The President signs agreement with Guatemala on asylum
      Full Text and Analysis, Oval Office In-House Pool

      8:00 PM Pool Report
      The President and First Lady go to Dinner at Trump International Hotel (8:00 PM – 9:52 PM)
      Trump International Hotel, Washington DC In-House Pool

      • harpie says:

        This is a description of when Sondland called Trump, [from the Philip Bump timeline]:

        Volker and Taylor left the Zelensky meeting to travel to eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists had seized territory. While they were there, Sondland met with Yermak, according to Taylor. A member of Taylor’s staff joined Sondland.
        “Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv,” Taylor testified. “The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.’ Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”

        Also according to that piece, the time difference between Kiev and DC is 7 hours.

        I wonder if Trump was at his DC hotel when he took this call from Sondland’s cell phone, in which he was overheard asking about “the investigations”. Who else could hear this conversation on the DC side?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump and his cohort have shite for OpSec. Every top foreign intel service in the world knows what these jerks say when they say it, just not the American people. Saves Putin the need to wait for Trump’s daily phone call for updates.

          Trump is also committing daily violations of the PRA, way more then BushCheney.

    • harpie says:

      The AP has unearthed a tweet, with photo: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1195197562107637761
      8:31 PM – 14 Nov 2019

      —> via AP, tweet from former Zelensky national security advisor [O. Danylyuk] from 7/26 with Volker, Sondland, and Taylor.

      9:28 AM – 26 Jul 2019

      This time in Kiev! Met in a narrow circle with the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine @SpecRepUkraine Kurt Volker, U.S.Ambassador to the EU @USAmbEU Gordon Sondland and CDA a.i. William B. Taylor. During dinner we had an opportunity to discuss wide range of topical issues.

      • harpie says:

        9:28AM Twitter time is 12:28PM DC time and 7:28PM Kiev time.

        From a comment above, Trump’s schedule that day at that time:
        12:00 PM Official Schedule
        The President receives his intelligence briefing
        Oval Office Closed Press

        2:00 PM Official Schedule
        The President meets with the Secretary of State and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security [Barr and ???]
        Oval Office Closed Press

        [My head is full of phlegm…so I may be wrong about times???]

    • harpie says:

      Via Laura Rozen, a video of Sondland speaking on July 26, 2019:

      9:54 PM – 14 Nov 2019

      July 26 Sondland, Kyiv:
      “… I actually spoke with President Trump just a few minutes before he placed the [July 25] call” (1:00 mark);

      also “… Trump has given me ‘special assignments’ … we want to make sure that all of the reforms are on track” (7:25) [VIDEO]

    • harpie says:

      This July 26, 2019 call from Sondland [Kiev] to Trump [DC], was early in the morning on Trump’s end, according to David Holmes’ statement [from Greg Sargent thread]:

      3:21 AM – 16 Nov 2019

      […] 3) According to Holmes, Sondland says Trump cares more about whether Ukraine is investigating Biden — the “big stuff” — than he does about Ukraine itself. This undercuts the nonsense that Trump only cared about getting Ukraine to investigate generic “corruption.” [screenshot]

      harpie from screenshot: …

      Sondland remarked that the President was in a bad mood, as Sondland stated was often the case early in the morning …”

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The idea that the Dems should “wrap this up in a hurry” is a GOP talking point, but it also seems to be a Democratic leadership priority. It is as wrong as rating impeachment hearings as if they were episodes of The Apprentice.

    There is plenty of crime and criminality to be found by a competent investigation of Donald Trump and his cronies. They ooze criminality. The areas they are avoiding – Trump’s probable tax fraud and financial crimes – would yield a lot of law-abiding little people against the lawless elite stuff. It’s good politicking, it’s also against the law.

    I accept that reasonable showmanship is necessary to persuade the public that this is not Trump’s brand of empty showmanship. It should be secondary to the real lede – defending the Constitution against overt abuses of power by a president who brags about engaging in them and then runs down the hall between classes saying, “Catch me if you can!”

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Lunch Shaming, the metastasized Stephen Miller, is becoming a national trend. It does not teach responsible behavior. It models bullying. Like bullies everywhere, those who bully expect to get away with it.

    Richfield High School, outside Minneapolis, subjected 40 students in its cafeteria to an extended bout of Lunch Shaming this week. Being behind more than $15, school staff dramatically threw out the hot meals on their trays and substituted a cold sandwich. (Doesn’t say much for this school’s notion of economy: paying twice to make the wrong point.)

    The school district “apologized” only after the incident went public and viral. I put that in quotes because corporate apologies are a contradiction in terms. They are not acknowledgements of wrongdoing, they do not make amends, they are not credible promises to avoid similar conduct in future. They are attempts to manage executive liability. They violate educators’ responsibility to model the behavior they expect their students to learn.

    In addition to apologizing for putting these kids in the public stocks on the town square – for their parents’ conduct – this school district needs to do three things. It should forgive the current lunch debt of these and similarly situated students. It should network with other schools in the state to persuade the legislature that the lunch debt problem is a societal one, more than it is a matter of personal responsibility. The state must take the lead in sorting out a fix. It should mark the employment records of school staff who approved of this conduct with, “Uses poor judgment.” As teachers are wont to say, actions have consequences.


  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice observation by Joyce Vance. Prosecutors keep their investigations confidential because not doing so gives the target information about what’s coming and a head start at hiding or obstructing it.

    That Trump’s primary object was putting Ukraine president Zelensky in a “public box” – forcing him to make a public announcement about investigating the Bidens – “is certain evidence it was about 2020 politics not corruption in the Ukraine.”


  25. harpie says:

    Two Tweets:

    1] https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/1195079961671086088
    12:44 PM – 14 Nov 2019

    The transcript of the first phone call with the leader of Ukraine has cleared all of the necessary hurdles to be released to the public. “The first transcript is ready to go and awaits the go ahead of the president,” a WH official said.

    2] https://twitter.com/PeterAlexander/status/1195088750306635785
    1:18 PM – 14 Nov 2019

    Waiting for M1 departure, we’re watching Trump in an animated conversation inside the Oval Office w/ AG Barr & others.

  26. Theresa N says:

    So many interesting threads here! To add one more, staying within the topic of fascism and the beltway. Leonard Leo and his cultists are having a black tie gala tonight in the Beltway with Barto O’Kavanaugh as their keynote speaker. They must be celebrating bigly after getting that Menashi guy a lifetime seat on the U.S.Court of Appeals.
    I think Maria Yovanovitch testimony will be as compelling as Taylor and Kent.

    • P J Evans says:

      I wonder how many of those Fed Society-approved judges will leave office soon after the current WH occupant does?

      • bmaz says:

        Interesting question! I am not sure that many will. They were most all chosen at a relatively young age for the express purpose of being on the court for a very long time. It is literally their purpose.

        Secondly, very few Federal judges really “retire”, rather they take senior status instead where they get full pay and benefits and effectively only work as much as they want and/or can. A judge must be at least 65 years of age and have served in federal courts for at least 15 years to qualify for senior status, with one less year of service required for each additional year of age above 65. For instance, Jay Bybee took senior status almost as soon as he was eligible age and service wise, but is not really leaving the court.

        Who knows, but my guess is the Trump plants, which are geometrically worse in character and ideology than even the previous Federalist Society appointees, will be around for a long time.

        • Tom says:

          But given that Trump’s base of support in the country never seems to top about 35% to 40%, and the possibility of there being an anti-Trump never-again backlash among the voting public in the future, might not the fact that a judge is a Trump appointee become a liability? That is, such judges might be viewed as being more than just conservative, but far right-wing, and their less than stellar qualifications might cause their decisions from the bench to be questioned more severely than they otherwise might be. I just wonder whether the fact that one was a Trump appointee will in the future brand such judges and other officials as being somehow tainted and second-rate.

          • bmaz says:

            I don’t know. Maybe? If history is a guide, not much of that will happen though. Once you are a federal judge, you are there and accepted. Take Bybee for instance; he was flat out a torture enabler and kook of the same level as John Yoo, and yet, there he is taking senior status as any normal judge would. There are few positions in life more insulated than a federal judgeship.

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