Three Things: When the Hangover Ends

I debated about writing and publishing this but after last week Republicans are too relaxed and smug.

The not-a-trial of Donald J. Trump is off their backs and they can go back to whatever slacking off they were doing last year as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to sit atop a stack of more than 400 bills the House passed, waiting for this prospective legislation to suffocate and die.

They have a couple handy whipping boys — well, a boy and a girl — in Mitt Romney and Nancy Pelosi. Morons like Kevin McCarthy can make videos on the taxpayers’ dime, poking fun at Pelosi while celebrating the failure to convict Trump.

To Congress’s GOP caucus: Get a fucking grip on yourselves. We can see your emperor has no clothes and your asses are showing, too.

~ 3 ~

Trump was a whiny wretch at the National Prayer Breakfast on Friday, complaining about how he was treated during the not-trial.

He was a jackass during a speech about impeachment during which he was equally obnoxious, admitting to obstructing justice.

Here’s the thing: in these public performances voters see a malignant narcissist with some form of undiagnosed neurological disorder — likely a form of progressive dementia. The Republicans KNOW he’s ill but they are too afraid of him calling them names to do anything about it.

You have to wonder how many elderly parents these jerks have who are not in a safe place while suffering from dementia because the way they’ve treated Trump reflects who they are elsewhere.

The public has also seen this:

They’ve also seen this:

And this, because Trump’s neurological deficit has become a joke fit for television:

The Senate Republicans couldn’t convict him for this behavior BUT his behavior the House found impeachable — abusing office and obstructing Congress — in no small part arose from his increasing instability on top of his lifelong lawlessness.

After more of his suspicious sniffing, Trump admitted to obstruction of justice on camera, then swore at 4:44 in the above video clip. He’s not glued in and in need of constant narcissistic supply — Republicans surely must be able to see this.

He’s not going to get better. Trump’s not going to remain stable. Prescribed medications clearly couldn’t do much to stop his dystonic movements during the one annual speech a substantive number of Americans watch.

GOP attacks on Speaker Pelosi don’t redirect our attention. We can see through their maliciousness to their insecurity.

Republicans must start dealing with this. They must start talking about it — clearly the public already has. There’s been a group of health professionals publishing warnings for more than two years.

The GOP will have a lot more to fear than one failing old man with neurological problems if they don’t face this issue.

They’re chickenshit, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was too nice to say in his NYT op-ed:

“…One journalist remarked to me, ‘How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?’

[…]

For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like “Low Energy Jeb” and “Lyin’ Ted,” or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. They worry:

‘Will the hosts on Fox attack me?’

‘Will the mouthpieces on talk radio go after me?’

‘Will the Twitter trolls turn their followers against me?’ …”

Except for Romney they’re pussies, letting Trump grab them by their short hairs.

They need to do the math. If more than 20 Senate Republicans had made a pact to stick together — say, all the Class II senators up for re-election in 2020, the two retiring senators and Mitt Romney — Trump and his horde would have a damned tough time overcoming that bloc slinging a few bad names at them. The public would have had a hard time accepting as legitimate the malignant narcissist’s harangue and his hideous family’s backup refrain.

Fox News would have a hard time coming up with a cohesive narrative to bat down this number. The right-wing Twitterati would likewise find themselves over their tiny heads. And Limbaugh isn’t in any condition to fight Trump’s fight, Medal of Freedom Fries or no.

If the Republican senators can’t organize a bloc they deserve what will eventually come for them — the utter dissolution of their power and authority, having already yielded both to a sick old man.

And they’d better get their shit together if he has a major meltdown and becomes incapacitated by Election Day. Or is that what they’re hoping for so they don’t have to expend any effort bucking the malignant-narcissist-in-chief?

~ 2 ~

Revenge. Retaliation. Retribution. That’s what the chickenshit GOP senate unleashed when they rolled over and voted to acquit Trump.

We knew it was coming because Trump’s fucking minions have huge mouths, no couth, and less smarts.

Ueland’s remarks suggest actions taken by the White House against witnesses and against states and federal services’ users has been premeditated. Given the number of White House staff and federal employees required to perform some of these retaliatory efforts there may be an ongoing conspiracy.

The firing of Lt. Col. Alex Vindman was bad enough, a retaliatory firing of a federal employee who testified on request before the House Intelligence Committee. But firing his brother who didn’t testify looks incredibly personal and punitive.

While I have no pity for hotelier and million-dollar Trump donor Gordon Sondland, his firing, too, was retaliatory — a reaction to his requested testimony before the House.

Donors will surely think twice about political appointments if not donations as Sondland’s business had already suffered a downturn once it became more widely known he was both a Trump supporter and a hotelier.

Four Republican senators — that’s all — tried to save Sondland’s job. They did nothing for the Vindmans, which looks utterly spineless:

But this is what looks really, really bad:


GOP senators applauding and laughing at Trump’s vengeful firing of federal employees.

They’re literally scoffing at their own laws.

The only reason why Republican senators are getting away with enabling behavior is their co-equal but separate status. Their true bosses may wish to have a word with them come November.

~ 1 ~

Trump’s unlawful solicitation of assistance from a foreign national to aid his 2020 re-election campaign may already have born fruit given Joe Biden’s flagging results in opinion polls and in the Iowa caucus.

But is Trump now using federal resources to interfere in his opponents’ campaigns, holding unnecessary rallies in states before the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary?

Rally on Thursday 30-JAN-2020 in Des Moines, IA, the largest city in the state
Caucus on Monday 03-FEB-2020 across Iowa

Rally on Monday 10-FEB-2020 in Manchester, NH, the largest city in the state
Primary on Tuesday 11-FEB-2020 across New Hampshire.

Why would Trump hold a rally in these states when he has a 94% approval rating with his own political party?

Isn’t this a waste of taxpayers’ resources?

Is he really threatening to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to pay down a deficit he created while making worse by spending more taxpayer money on his unnecessary rallies?

The kicker, though, is how bad he looks doing this:

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread. Bet you have a few things you want to get off your chest about our descent into autoritarianism — you can do it in comments.

Midnight in Washington: Today’s Senate Vote [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

This post is dedicated to today’s U.S. Senate’s proceedings with regard to the trial of Donald J. Trump under articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Senate is scheduled to convene at 4:00 p.m. ET* for the vote. Debate is underway already.

Senate live video link

C-SPAN live video via YouTube

C-SPAN’s live feed at their site

Eleven Films made a video in which House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff’s closing arguments are the centerpiece.

There’s a weak chance that GOP members of Congress could prove me wrong and do impartial justice. There might be a few who vote to convict Trump.

But I doubt it, not when they have proven time and again to be weak and craven, like Sen. Susan Collins who could be persuaded with a little cash to claim Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment.

What a pathetic fool. Mainers deserve so much better.

The worst part of what’s to come? Just as Trump made his “perfect call” the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, Trump will feel vindicated if he is not removed from office today.

His vile minions will manipulate him in his addled state into wreaking revenge.

And every one of the GOP members of Congress who did not vote to impeach and did not vote to convict and remove Trump will own what’s to come.

You’ll note I’m not holding my breath for impartial justice.

* Note the time change from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Debate speeches are still underway as of 3:25 p.m.

~ | ~ | ~

UPDATE-1 — 2:15 P.M. ET —

Give it up for Mitt Romney. I’m still in doubt this will persuade any other GOP senators to do the right thing and vote to convict.

ADDER: Oh gads Mitt’s splitting the baby. He’s going with one vote to convict on abuse of power, one vote to acquit on obstruction of Congress. I don’t even know how he could imagine ordering people not to comply with requests and subpoenas from the House isn’t obstruction.

UPDATE-2 — 4:50 P.M. ET —

As expected, the GOP senators voted along party line to acquit Trump. Mitt Romney was the exception, voting to convict on abuse of power but acquitting on obstruction of Congress.

You own all of this, GOP. Everything up to now, everything that follows now that you’ve turned your back on the rule of law. You are tied with a cord of steel to this forever.

The GOP senators who are up for re-election this year are:

Capito, Shelley Moore (R-WV)
Cassidy, Bill (R-LA)
Collins, Susan M. (R-ME)
Cornyn, John (R-TX)
Cotton, Tom (R-AR)
Daines, Steve (R-MT)
Enzi, Michael B. (R-WY)
Ernst, Joni (R-IA)
Gardner, Cory (R-CO)
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)
Hyde-Smith, Cindy (R-MS)
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK)
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)
Perdue, David (R-GA)
Risch, James E. (R-ID)
Rounds, Mike (R-SD)
Sasse, Ben (R-NE)
Sullivan, Dan (R-AK)
Tillis, Thom (R-NC)

Alexander, Lamar (R-TN) – retiring, seat is open.
Roberts, Pat (R-KS) – retiring, seat is open.

McSally, Martha (R-AZ) — is up for election; she’s an appointee who replaced a previous short-term appointee, Jon Kyl.

Find their opponents and give them a hand. Vote everyone of these scofflaws out of office.

Three Things: Day After Night Before Day of Disaster [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Updates will appear at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

What a flaming mess.

Bet you can’t really tell which mess I’m referring to — the Iowa caucuses, the State of the Union Address, or the rolling not-trial of Donald J. Trump.

But there they are, the three things this post will address.

~ 3 ~

What can I say that you don’t already know about Iowa?

You already know right-wing assholes began a negative influence operation before the caucuses began, spreading from the Epoch Times to Judicial Watch, Charlie Kirk to the Trump boys, amplified by Hannity and Twitter accounts.

And you already know that for some stupid reason badly-designed, poorly-tested mobile technology was pushed into production after too little time in beta. Just too many variables not reduced in advance of the crunch-time roll-out.

The fallout was and is messy, made worse by a commercial media model based on hyper-competitionwho ever gets and publishes the story first wins is completely diametric to democracy’s need for accurate reporting for an informed electorate.

The caucus app developer, Shadow Inc. — yeah, you’d think this would be an over-the-top name for a software business which keeps its ownership opaque — has apologized today, explaining,


Let’s assume IDP = Iowa Democratic Party. This was not the DNC’s work, which more right-wing trolls tried to claim last night along with blaming former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook for the app failure although Mook is NOT a software developer.

A lot of character assassination by the right-wing over the last 24 hours bears a strong resemblance to the character assassination of former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Trump-friendly mouthpiece makes egregious false accusation, picked up by Trump-friendly media, repeated by Trump’s family members, propelled even further by Trumpists and trollbots. What a coincidence.

Of course everybody has completely forgotten it took the Republicans more than two weeks — from January 3 to January 21 — to sort out who won their caucuses in 2012. How convenient the right-wing horde has something else they can bloviate about instead of their own failings. How convenient they were able to set up and complain about “rigged elections” laying the ground for their approach to November’s general election.

Once again we hear complaints about how grossly unfair Iowa caucuses are — they prevent disabled and working people from participation, and the state is the first to select winning primary candidates although it’s a small (31st in population) and non-diverse (90.7% white), unrepresentative of the rest of this country.

There’s also head scratching about apparent low turn-out. Can’t imagine why voters (who may have accessibility issues, lack transportation, work afternoons/evenings, can’t afford or find childcare) won’t turn out to caucus and sort through a large field of candidates even though they may already lean toward voting Democratic no matter which candidate wins the primary.

One piece worth reading and pondering, published in the aftermath of this year’s Iowa caucus, is this three-year-old article by David Auerbach, Confirmation Bias: Did big data sink the Clinton campaign? Auerbach thinks the Ada data analysis program was screwed up and both the Clinton campaign and DNC were prone to confirmation bias, failing to suspect the app could be bad.

But what if like Iowa’s IDP-organized caucuses relying on a mobile app which had not been adequately stress tested the big data program was simply too new and untried for its intended purposes?

One thing also bothered me re-reading Auerbach’s piece, given that he also wrote an essay in 2012, The Stupidity of Computers. Are folks designing and implementing these apps for politics failing because they’re like other software-based platforms? Have they “created their own set of inferred metadata, the categories propagate, and so more of the world is shoehorned into an ontology reflecting ad hoc biases and received ideas,” to the point where threats and risks outside of their imagination easily destroy their aims?

Is it at all possible that the same kind of lack of foresight and imagination that led to last night’s failure cascade also underpinned a big data analysis program which couldn’t see new foreign-born influences manipulating output?

Do read Auerbach, but with your eyes wide open; even Auerbach didn’t anticipate his own credibility being undermined by right-wing provocateurs. Yet another lesson about the impact of technology on human relations.

And yet another lesson about the difference between the chronically underfunded Democratic Party and the wealthy fascistic GOP. How much did the collapse of Obama for America after the 2008 election combined with Tim Kaine’s tepid DNC leadership contribute to the conditions which set up Iowa’s application meltdown — the absence of an adequately-funded national party-wide technology platform?

~ 2 ~

House impeachment managers made closing arguments in the Senate’s not-a-trial yesterday. Rep. Adam Schiff’s speech will be remembered well into the future for its excellence as American oratory.

The Senate debated the charges today. Michigan’s Sen. Gary Peters may have redeemed himself:

West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin was his craven self again, introducing the alternative of censure rather than conviction.

No. Hell no. Manchin isn’t up for re-election this year; he has no good excuse for offering the possibility Trump could crow about a bipartisan acquittal if any Democrat votes for something other than conviction and removal.

Further, Manchin’s sucking up to Trump won’t do a thing for his state. If he thinks this will sway the MAGA base in any way he’s unmoored from data showing Trumpists will not be moved. They believe what Fox News’ talking heads like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson tell them and that’s enough.

Nor will GOP senators vote for censure. They’re simply too bought, owned, corrupt, and spineless.

And of course both senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have played their roles as drama queens, vacillating on whether to vote for or against acquittal. Murkowski blamed partisanship while making the partisan decision to vote with her party for acquittal.

Collins was bought. For the right price — $150,000 laundered through a front corporation in Hawaii — she will play stupid and give women a bad name in general.


Do get a load of the name of the front corporation. Sure. Like women suddenly forgot that Collins approved Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Tomorrow’s vote will be unpleasant — brace yourselves.

~ 1 ~

In about an hour the tangerine hellbeast will shake off his sundowning and step up to the podium in the House to deliver what should be his last State of the Union message.

I refuse to watch that lying malignant narcissist. I’ll check for observations by people watchers like Dr. Jack Brown who will monitor Trump’s body language and Tom Joseph who follows Trump’s mental and physical decline.

I will not enjoy being reminded the dementia-addled wretch has the nuclear codes. Nor will I enjoy knowing Trump may use the podium of the people’s house not to communicate the progress made in governance but to campaign for his re-election.

What are the odds he has the moxie to ask another nation-state for help in his re-election right under our noses tonight?

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread. Begin kvetching below.

~ | ~ | ~

UPDATE-1 — 05-FEB-2020 12:45 P.M. —

Yeah, yeah, yeah…Jesus Christ, Jonathan Turley, let it go.

Since last night Turley’s posted ten tweets and an op-ed in The Hill bitching about the Speaker of the House not behaving like a compliant little Handmaid. He makes me wonder if he doesn’t have enough work and he’s bucking for a new paying gig.

By all means ignore the pussygrabber-in-chief’s multitude of disgusting behaviors, wretched political acts, and his slide into dementia, focusing instead on an effective female leader who doesn’t lick your reality TV narcissist’s toes.

Speaking of paying gigs, it occurred to me well after Turley appeared in December as an expert witness in front of the House Intelligence Committee that we don’t know if HIC asked Turley if he was a fact witness.

In his written statement Turley never mentions he wrote an article for The Hill, Could Robert Mueller actually be investigating Ukrainian collusion?

Nor did he mention the same piece was published the very same day in Kyivpost.

Also not mentioned is that this piece ran on February 21, 2019 — the date is roughly one week after Rudy Giuliani met with then-prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko in Warsaw, Poland, and almost one month to the day before John Solomon conducted a character-assassinating interview with Lutsenko for Hill.TV.

Turley’s piece furthers the idea that Ukraine was involved in collusion rather than Russia.

… But what is remarkable is how all investigative roads seem to lead to Kiev, not Moscow, in terms of key figures. It raises the question of whether Russian hacking efforts in the American election in 2016 were little more than what they seem as a clumsy leak and trolling operation. …

How did Turley end up fitting so neatly into the timeline?

UPDATE-2 — 05-FEB-2020 1:00 P.M. —

Though I linked to it in my previous update, I should probably share this here more overtly. This is very troubling; this man has the nuclear football within reach.


Today GOP Senators will likely acquit this person who can barely get through a speech and certainly not without lying repeatedly.

As mentioned before, this is an open thread. I’ll put up another post shortly dedicated to the vote today in the Senate.

Hitting the Oscillator: Today’s Senate Vote on Witnesses [UPDATE-5]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks!/~Rayne]

At 1:00 p.m. the U.S. Senate convenes and resumes consideration of the articles of impeachment as a Court of Impeachment.

A vote is expected on whether to call for/subpoena witnesses to appear before the Senate as part of this trial.

Last night Sen. Susan Collins said she would vote for witnesses:

But the timing of her statement was only minutes before retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander announced he wouldn’t vote for witnesses.

How convenient.

We don’t know yet where Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) stands on the matter of witnesses, only that as of last night she was “going to go reflect and decide whether she needs to hear more”.

Mitt Romney (R-UT) says he wants to hear from John Bolton.

And now the stakes have been raised yet again with a fresh report in The New York Times that Trump “directed” John Bolton to help him with what Bolton has called a “drug deal.”

I’m not linking to NYT. You’ll have to hunt this down if you want it because I’m not driving traffic to that outlet.

More to come very soon, I’m sure.

UPDATE-1 — 1:31 P.M. ET —

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chickenshit.

She fell back on partisanship as an excuse even though she was elected because she wasn’t partisan. Alaskans, you can do better.

It’s not partisanship when nearly an entire party turns its back on the rule of law.

Murkowski and her staff were too chickenshit to put this statement on her Twitter account.

It wasn’t going to be a fair trial — or really, a trial at all — if witnesses were never going to be called. Murkowski owns this lack of fairness.

UPDATE-2 — 1:40 P.M. ET —

Of extremely important concern is the possibility any Democrats may vote to acquit Trump.

I am FURIOUS about Sen. Gary Peters’ name coming up here. I know he’s sweating his re-election race here in Michigan, but if he votes to acquit he will give Trump the ability to say this was a bipartisan acquittal.

Absolutely NO Democrat should vote to acquit. None. There’s more than enough evidence on hand already to prove Trump abused his office and obstructed Congress, including Trump’s own on-camera words.

Call your senators and tell them to vote NO on acquittal: (202) 224-3121 or use Resistbot.

And Peters, I’m looking at you. You won’t win Republican votes by voting to acquit because a Republican votes for a Republican.

UPDATE-3 — 1:52 P.M. ET —

At 12:59 p.m. Lev Parnas’ attorney tweeted,

in response to Trump’s denial about the NYT’s story today.

Sure would like to know what the story was behind the timing of NYT’s publication. How snug all of this is.

UPDATE-4 — 2:05 P.M. ET —

Sen. Collins has no good reason to smile.

Collins would do well to consider why she is the most unpopular senator next to Chief Obstructionist Mitch McConnell. No amount of laundered Russian money pumped in her campaign through PACs and other entities can make her popular.

UPDATE-5 — 2:30 P.M. ET —

Looks like it’ll be a wrap on this abortion of governance next Wednesday.


Read Caldwell’s Twitter thread for more on the negotiation.

Can’t even begin to imagine what kind of autocratic megalomaniacal bullshit Trump will pull as soon as the votes have been tallied.

This post will be updated periodically; new content will appear at the bottom.

[Photo: Emily Morter via Unsplash]

Three Things: Odd, Odder, Oddities

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! / ~Rayne]

Just a few oddities as the White House presents its counter arguments to impeachment. This is an open thread.

Ken Starr asking how our nation entered an “age of impeachment” is just bizarre – as if some pod had taken over his brain and wiped out his role in Clinton’s impeachment for lying about a blowjob. Makes me want to yell, We’re here in no small part of you, you moron!

But this is just another entry in a string of oddities future Americans will look back upon, scratching their heads as they try to make sense of the stupidity.

~ 3 ~

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that the man who became a household name over 13 seasons on NBC’s The Apprentice by saying, “You’re fired!” couldn’t manage to say that to public servant Marie Yovanovitch who served at his pleasure?

Doesn’t it seem odd that the candidate who used the same phrase about then-President Obama and then-candidate Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail wouldn’t use that phrase about a public employee with whom he wasn’t happy?

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that this same man said instead, “Take her out!” to people who weren’t employed by the government, for whom that public servant didn’t work?

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that this same man used the phrase, “Take her out!” about removing a public servant, but paraphrased his remarks about the assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani that he’d ordered? “I will say this, we caught a total monster. We took him out. That should have happened a long time ago,” Trump said.

Doesn’t it strike you as odd GOP senators are more upset about Schiff’s repeating a threat ostensibly made by the White House to them, rather than Trump’s repeated use of mobster language?

~ 2 ~

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that least 20 GOP senators left the chamber for protracted periods of time during the House’s opening arguments last week, in defiance of the Senate’s own rules?

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that the press took note that 40% of the GOP wasn’t present, but never made a point to document and report the names of all the GOP senators who left the chamber?

There clearly was a bias at work because outlets like POLITICO made sure to name the Democrats who weren’t in their seats for the duration, but failed to name the GOP senators who left the chamber:

Even before that scheduled recess break, a half dozen Republicans had decided to stand in the back — like Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska — rather than remain in their seats.
A half-dozen Democrats, too, were in and out of the chamber. That includes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who left the room three times — including once for more than 10 minutes. But nearly all Democrats remained in the chamber to listen to Schiff, even as some, like Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), stood near the back of the room to lean against a railing or wall.
The longer Schiff spoke, the more flagrant the rule violations on the floor. There were several whispered conversations, with several senators going in and out of the chamber every minute or so. The Senate eventually recessed around 3:30 p.m. — Sarah Ferris

Also wonder why journalists have never asked GOP members of Congress if they were ever asked to sign a Nondisclosure Agreement with the Trump White House or with Trump organization, or with the Republican Party. We know NDAs signed by public employees aren’t enforceable, but were there any other NDAs controlling the speech and other actions of the GOP caucus? Did any NDAs dictate their leaving during impeachment hearings to prevent their hearing anything against Trump?

~ 1 ~

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that the Class II GOP senators who are up for re-election this coming November don’t seem to be concerned at all about their vote for/against witnesses for the impeachment trial?

These are the GOP senators up for re-election:

Capito, Shelley Moore (R-WV)
Cassidy, Bill (R-LA)
Collins, Susan M. (R-ME)
Cornyn, John (R-TX)
Cotton, Tom (R-AR)
Daines, Steve (R-MT)
Enzi, Michael B. (R-WY)
Ernst, Joni (R-IA)
Gardner, Cory (R-CO)
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)
Hyde-Smith, Cindy (R-MS)
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK)
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)
Perdue, David (R-GA)
Risch, James E. (R-ID)
Rounds, Mike (R-SD)
Sasse, Ben (R-NE)
Sullivan, Dan (R-AK)
Tillis, Thom (R-NC)

Alexander, Lamar (R-TN) – retiring, seat is open.
Roberts, Pat (R-KS) – retiring, seat is open.

Doesn’t it seem odd that the last two, Alexander and Roberts, haven’t come out for witnesses since they are not beholden to the GOP or the White House having announced their retirement?

McSally, Martha (R-AZ) — is up for election; she’s an appointee who replaced a previous short-term appointee, Jon Kyl. Arizona is and has been rated a toss-up; you’d think she’d vote for witnesses since public support is running 72% to have witnesses called to testify.

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread. Bring all your oddities here for discussion.

Impeachment = Grounds for Firing

You’d think we were all in Newfoundland buried beneath multiple feet of snow given the blizzard of bullshit Trump and his reality TV cast have been spewing.

Like this idiocy on Twitter:

Many have speculated that Trump can’t read; the above tweet is one more piece of evidence in their favor, because he’s clearly not read the rather simple Articles of Impeachment.

He can read because in addition to typing stupid tweets he manages to scratch out legible crap on paper using a Sharpie pen, writ large enough that passing cameras can read it.

Like this piece of brilliance snapped on November 20:

[Photo: Mark Wilson, Getty Photos]

Sure, we believe you, big guy. You didn’t want a quid pro quo BUT you told Zelensky you want him to “do the right thing,” leaving the possibility of future cooperation hanging in the air and $35 million in U.S. aid allocated by Congress still undelivered the day before this note was Sharpied.

Not bribery. Not extortive at all, with hundreds of Ukraine’s citizens dying due to Russian aggression.

But Trump’s ethically-challenged brain trust has his back, issuing a letter rebutting the House’s impeachment. They claim he can’t be impeached because [—enter bullshit excuse du jour—].

Like Alan Dershowitz’s ridiculous claim that Trump didn’t do anything illegal and therefore can’t be impeached.

I pity every student Dershowitz ever taught; the credibility of their credits earned has been thrown into question now that Dershowitz has decided to backpedal on his positions held back in the 1990s when lying to Congress about a consensual blowjob was an impeachable offense.

One of the arguments consistently made by Trump, his consent-challenged attorneys, and the right-wing monkey horde is that impeachment nullifies the 2016 election.

Putting aside the legitimacy of an election questionably won with foreign interference he solicited right in front of the American public on camera, impeachment isn’t a criminal prosecution. It’s a Constitutional act by which the people through their representatives indict the president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” — it’s not a nullification.

Can’t believe I’m actually posting anything by Cato Institute, but this fairly brief explainer is straightforward:

Using the power it alone possesses,the House of Representatives impeached Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors consisting of abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.

In Trump’s abuse of office he acted illegally; these acts may yet be prosecuted once he leaves office if they are still within statue of limitations:

There may be more illegal acts upon further investigation. We still don’t have all the details about the threat to former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, for example.

The illegal acts themselves are not laid out in the Articles of Impeachment, offering instead only the high-level assessment that Trump invited foreign interference in the 2020 election for his own personal gain while damaging U.S. national security interests and in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the law. He obstructed Congress as they investigated his abuse of office.

The House was too kind by half, sparing him a detailed recitation of his illegal behaviors within the Articles.

A conviction by the Senate — unlikely as it is because its GOP majority is hapless and nearly as corrupt as Trump — won’t nullify the 2016 election. It would result in succession by Vice President Mike Pence, acknowledging both the election and the established order of succession.

And it would tell Trump what he truly deserves to hear for failing to do his job, that of faithful execution of this country’s laws, upholding the Constitution.

It’s a pity Trump and his legal minions refuse to accept the House has found ample grounds to tell Trump his work performance is unacceptable.

More than half of the U.S. don’t approve of Trump’s job performance as well. It’d be nice if the Senate GOP found a spine, convicted Trump, and told him in simple, familiar terms he knows all too well that he’s fired.

Three Things: ‘She’s Going to Go Through Some Things’

House Intelligence Committee released some materials provided to them by Lev Parnas, revealing Trump’s Ukraine scandal is even uglier than expected. Here’s three things the public now needs.

~ 3 ~

As Marcy noted in her post earlier today, the Department of Justice only reviewed the Memorandum of Telephone Conversation from Trump’s call to Ukraine’s President Zelensky on July 25 this past year, the one in which Trump said about Ambassador Yovanovitch, “She’s going to go through some things.”

Where is the full transcript of that call? There can be nothing in it at this point that the public and or its elected representatives shouldn’t know about.

Are there any other full transcripts of phone calls with Ukrainian officials similarly hidden away yet, even after the MEMCON for the July 25 call was released?

Attorney General Bill Barr’s handling of the investigation is now in question as well and should prompt a congressional investigation. Congress needs them in the event there is any exculpatory content in these transcripts.

Where is the July 25 transcript?

~ 2 ~

Trump attended the White House’s Hanukkah party in 2018, during which he had a side discussion with Lev Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman.

… During the party, Parnas and Fruman slipped out for a private meeting with Trump and Giuliani, two acquaintances who Parnas confided in told CNN. Parnas allegedly told his confidants after the meeting that the “big guy,” which is how he purportedly referred to the president, had assigned him and Fruman a “secret mission” to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden and his son Hunter.

Parnas and Fruman were reportedly assigned to be Giuliani’s operatives on the ground in Ukraine. Parnas allegedly described it to at least one associate as a sort of “James Bond mission.” …

How does Parnas’ statement line up with the newly released material? Does it sync? Parnas has now said Trump knew everything, that “everybody was in the loop” — Trump, Pence, and more.

And did Rod Rosenstein see or hear anything at all since he was at the same party?

~ 1 ~

Elizabeth de la Vega asked a good question on Twitter last night.

Is there any relationship between Robert F. Hyde, the congressional candidate from Connecticut who is now embroiled in the Ukraine scandal, and Paul Manafort?

Both of them are from Connecticut.

Both of them are involved in construction – Manafort’s family owns a contracting firm specializing in demolition in Plainville CT and Hyde started a construction and landscaping firm based in Avon CT.

The two companies are located a little over 10 miles apart.

And Hyde has been embroiled in Trump’s Ukraine scandal.

What’s the connection, if any?

~ 0 ~

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow landed an exclusive with Lev Parnas this evening, still underway even as I post this.

If you’re watching, what in this program seems new and important?

Horowitz

Crossfire Hurricane Glossary

Even before it went live yesterday, I was looking through Marcy’s incredibly awesome timeline on Crossfire Hurricane. It is a stunningly important and good thing, not only for those here, but those everywhere. I read things day and night, and have seen many timelines on this subject, but none that approach that which Marcy has produced. That said, if even I have to do double takes on what some of the names and acronyms are, I thought a guide was in order.

So, I thought an enduring glossary would help not even now, but going forward. What follows will be what appears appropriate now, and this post may be supplemented lated as necessary. I hope it helps. Maybe at some point I’ll come back an make it alphabetical, but for now I am just going from front to back in order of appearance.

Some are patently obvious and need no explanation, e.g. “CIA” for instance. As to the rest though, away we go:

ASAC: Assistant Agent In Charge, typically of an FBI Field Office.

Zainab Ahmad: Is a seriously kick ass former member of DOJ. Ahmad was a prosecutor with the DOJ who long specialized in investigating and prosecuting terrorism. She served as an AUSA in the Eastern District of New York until 2017, successfully prosecuting several high-profile terrorism cases. In 2017, she was reassigned to the Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice team. After Mueller closed up shop, Zainab landed as a white collar and cyber security specialist at the NY office of Gibson Dunn.

Evgeny Burykov: A convicted Russian spy. He was arrested on January 26, 2015, charged with, and pleading guilty to, spying on the United States for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Buryakov was a New York-based Deputy Representative of Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state-owned national development bank.

CHS-3: In addition to Steele (CHS-1) and Halper (CHS-2) there was another FBI informant who spoken on a number of occasions with George Papadopoulos. The person’s identity is unknown. Papadopoulos told him a version of the Joseph Mifsud in fall 2016.

Anne Conway: Conway is a GHW Bush nominated judge to the Middle District of Florida, and who serves on the FISC, since being do designated by John Roberts in 2016. Judge Conway approved a 2017 FISA Court warrant for Carter Page, a former adviser to the 2016 Trump Campaign.

Raymond Dearie: Is a well respected Senior United States District Court Judge from EDNY originally nominated by Reagan, and served on FISX between July 2012 and July 2019, after appointment by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Oleg Deripaska (Oligarch 1): Paul Manafort’s one-time paymaster, and also the client of a lawyer employing Christopher Steele in 2016. In that role, Steele repeatedly offered to broker a meeting at which Deripaska could provide derogatory information on Manafort. FBI belatedly considered whether Deripaska was a source of disinformation for the dossier.

Alexander Downer: Former Australian High Commissioner (ambassador) to the UK (2014-18), former leader of the Australian Liberal Party (1994-95), and former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs (1996-2007). Definitely not a coffee boy, but met with one over a few drinks in London.

For bmaz, I note that he is a fan of V8 motor racing and has a CMAS racing license. (h/t EH)

Stu Evans: Stuart Evans, deputy assistant attorney general of DOJ’s National Security Division. He’s the person who insisted on adding a footnote alerting the FISC of Steele’s potential bias.

FIFA: The international governing body of soccer. A body Chris Steele gave work and information on to not just US authorities but worldwide ones too.

Michael Gaeta (Handling Agent 1): An FBI agent, previously an attache in Rome and one time handler of Christopher Steele. A specialist in Eastern European organized crime including in the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine.

Taushina Gauhar: Is a (former) Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) in the Department of Justice National Security Division (NSD) and FISA lawyer specialist.

JD Gordan: Gordan is an American communications and foreign policy advisor, who served as a Pentagon spokesman during the Bush Administration and later a National Security Advisor to Donald Trump. He is also a crackpot gadabout on forums such as One America News Network, Fox News, Sky News, The Daily Caller, The Hill, and The Washington Times. He’s the guy who ensured that the Republican platform did not incorporate lethal aid to Ukraine.

Stefan Halper (Source 2): Ooof, this could go on even longer, but per Wiki, Halper is an American foreign policy spy and Senior Fellow at the University of Cambridge where he is a Life Fellow at Magdalene College. He served as a White House official in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations, and was reportedly in charge of the spying operation by the 1980 Ronald Reagan presidential campaign that became known as “Debategate”. Through his decades of work for the CIA, Halper has had extensive ties to the Bush family. Through his work with Sir Richard Dearlove he also has ties to the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6. For purposes here, Halper acted as an FBI informant for its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.

Kathleen Kavalec: Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State who met with Chris Steele in October 2016.

Mary McCord: McCord was the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2016 to 2017 and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division from 2014 to 2016. She now teaches at Georgetown and contributes at Lawfare.

Sergei Millian (Person 1): A Belarus born businessman knee deep in everything Russia and a putative source for Chris Steele. He was also the subject of a counterintelligence investigation during 2016-17. Much still not necessarily clear about Millian.

NYFO: New York Field Office of the FBI.

OGC: Office Of General Counsel at the Department of Justice.

OI: The Office of Intelligence at DOJ. They’re in charge of writing FISA applications.

Bruce and Nellie Ohr: Bruce Ohr is a United States Department of Justice official. A former Associate Deputy Attorney General and former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). He is an expert on transnational organized crime and has spent most of his career overseeing gang and racketeering-related prosecutions, including Russian organized crime. Nellie is Bruce’s wife, and a longtime expert on all things Russian. She worked at one point for Fusion GPS as a contractor between October 2015 and September 2016.

Victor Podobnyy: An Russian SVR (foreign intelligence) officer worked under the cover as a banker who was recruiting Carter Page in 2013.

SSA: Supervisory Special Agent.

Scott Schools: Scott Schools was the “highest-ranking career civil servant at the United States Department of Justice”, serving as Associate Deputy Attorney General. For those who have been around long enough, he was, for a while, the “new” David Margolis. Schools, a putatively decent chap, is gone now, having been replaces by a Jeff Sessions designated mope named Bradley Weinsheimer.

Glenn Simpson: Former journalist for the Wall Street Journal and co-founder of Fusion GPS.

Paul Singer: An American billionaire hedge fund manager, activist, investor, vulture capitalist, and philanthropist. A hard line Republican promoter and shill, but also a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights.

Bruce Swartz: Deputy Assistant Attorney General for International Affairs. Key to the story because of a purported effort by Kurt Volker to get Swartz to officially ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. He would have been in the loop in any normal requests between the US and Ukraine. Still a lot of questions open as to Swartz.

UCE: An FBI employee working undercover. A woman working under the pseudonym Azra Turk accompanied Stefan Halper on his interviews with George Papadopoulos.

Sally Yates: Former US Attorney for Northern District of Georgia, Deputy Attorney General, and Acting AG.

Explain It To Me: What Does Impeachment Mean Now?

[NB: check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

Trump was impeached Tuesday evening under two Articles of Impeachment — one for abuse of power, and another for obstruction of Congress.

Got it. This is pretty straightforward.

The House has “the sole Power of Impeachment” according to Article I, Section 2, subsection 5 of the Constitution.

Understood, no problem. That’s what the House exercised under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership.

We’re now to Article I, Section 3, subsection 6 after last night:

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

Nothing between Article I, Section 2, subsection 5 and Article I, Section 3, subsection 6 says that the House MUST or SHALL forward any impeachment to the Senate for a trial.

I think we’re all of us watching to see how this shakes out. Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Sits on 400 Bills” McConnell said last week he is coordinating the handling of the senate trial with the White House — a gross conflict of interest undermining Congress’s separate powers — and senators like Majority Whip Lindsey Graham have already decided to vote to acquit Trump, it doesn’t make much sense to forward the impeachment if already moot.

It makes sense to hang on to the impeachment articles until there is clarification about the Senate acting in good faith, “on Oath or Affirmation” as Article I, Section 3, subsection 6 says.

~ ~ ~

Now we arrive at my first question: is Trump still qualified to run for re-election?

See Article I, Section 3, subsection 7:

Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Emphasis mine. Does “judgment” refer solely to conviction by the Senate after a trial once the impeachment has been forwarded to them? Or is the “judgment” when the impeachment has been pronounced by the House since the House has the sole power of impeachment? The Constitution says “Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment” in subsection 7 but the wording, “Judgment in Cases of impeachment” may not mean “Judgment in Cases of conviction” — the latter would clearly limit the outcome of the House’s impeachment to a pre-indictment or indictment determination before the Senate’s trial.

This subsection occurs under Section 3 which defines the Senate’s composition and its most fundamental powers — specifically, trying the subject after impeachment — so we might assume this is the Senate’s “judgment.” But the Constitution’s wording is muddy.

We don’t have the benefit of precedent to rely upon for guidance. Andrew Johnson, impeached by the House in 1868 but not removed by the Senate, did not win his party’s nomination that year and left office in 1869 having never been elected to the presidency. In 1998 Bill Clinton was impeached by the House during his second term, though not removed by the Senate; he was ineligible to run for re-election.

~ ~ ~

My second question relates to a point Robert Reich made about a pardon for the impeached president:

… Regardless of whether a sitting president can be indicted and convicted on such criminal charges, Trump will become liable to them at some point. But could he be pardoned, as Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon 45 years ago?

Article II, section 2 of the Constitution gives a president the power to pardon anyone who has been convicted of offenses against the United States, with one exception: “In Cases of Impeachment.”

If Trump is impeached by the House, he can never be pardoned for these crimes. He cannot pardon himself (it’s dubious that a president has this self-pardoning power in any event), and he cannot be pardoned by a future president.

Even if a subsequent president wanted to pardon Trump in the interest of, say, domestic tranquility, she could not. …

Apart from the specific reference to the House’s sole power to impeach, is this why the two Articles of Impeachment do not use the words “bribery” or “extortion” to describe what Trump did with regard to Ukraine — to limit the described crimes against the U.S. for which Trump could be pardoned by an interim successor or the next elected president?

Or if the crime(s) have not been spelled out in an impeachment, identified as a violation of specific U.S. law, can Trump still be pardoned for them, in essence given carte blanche after the fact?

Is this why the Articles were scoped so narrowly, to prevent an over-broad pardon?

So often it’s said the president’s pardon power is absolute, but impeachment appears to place the single limit. Where and when is that limit placed?

~ ~ ~

These questions have been chewing at me since Pelosi’s second gavel upon completion of the vote on the second article. I imagine the Republican Party will do as it’s done since 2015: roll over and let Trump run an obnoxious and corrupt re-election campaign, looking every bit as repulsive as he did Tuesday evening during his Battle Creek rally.

It’s also been niggling at me that twice in the text of the Articles of Impeachment it was written, “the President ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’.”

Shall, not may, be removed, on conviction for Bribery.

I noted also the use of the word “betrayed” in the Articles’ text:

… He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections. …

It’s not treason as we’ve discussed in comments, but a traitor shouldn’t get a pass for selling out his country’s national security interests for personal gain.

You can bet McConnell and Graham would already have ensured the conviction and removal of a Democratic president who likewise betrayed the nation. If only they moved with the same alacrity on those 400 bills sitting on McConnell’s desk.

Impeachment: House of Representatives’ Debate and Vote Thread [UPDATE-4]

This post and thread are dedicated to today’s scheduled House of Representatives’ activities related to impeachment of Donald J. Trump, including the planned six hours of debate and the subsequent vote.

Live stream the House’s impeachment activities at these links:

C-SPAN: https://www.c-span.org/video/?467441-1/us-house-debates-articles-impeachment

C-SPAN’s YouTube feed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fefMKNOCZ3Y

USAToday’s YouTube feed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzl9hbDoV1k

House’s feed (not labeled as impeachment-related activity): https://live.house.gov/

We can expect many tactics to filibuster and delay the debate — we’re already seeing GOP resolutions submitted (and tabled) to this end.

Last night’s #NotAboveTheLaw rallies across the country demonstrate the level of support for today’s historic action. Americans don’t stand in the dark, cold, rain, and snow if they aren’t seriously committed to protecting their democracy. They are rallying again this morning ahead of the debate and votes.

You can do your bit to support our democracy even if you can’t attend a rally this morning. Call your representative and tell them you support a vote for impeachment.

You can also push back at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to deter a Senate trial by calling your senators and insisting they do not join McConnell’s effort to accumulate 51 votes to dismiss a trial. Let the people hear witnesses under oath before the Senate, including Trump in his own defense.

He’s going to need the opportunity after yesterday’s crackpot six-page error-riddled and lie-filled rant at House Speaker Pelosi.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use Resistbot.

UPDATE-1 — 12:10 p.m. ET —

The House Rules Committee has been debating the rules of the impeachment proceeding this morning, vote on rules now complete. Along party lines, of course.

If you are looking for additional information regarding the House investigation leading up to impeachment and today’s impeachment itself, check these sources:

C-SPAN’s impeachment dedicated site: https://www.c-span.org/impeachment/

NBC’s live updates page: https://www.nbcnews.com/Trump-impeachment-inquiry

CNN doesn’t appear to have an impeachment page but they have one on Trump: https://www.cnn.com/specials/politics/president-donald-trump-45

USAToday’s impeachment page: https://www.usatoday.com/news/trump-impeachment-inquiry/

Twitter’s impeachment event: https://twitter.com/i/events/1207033032110039040

House clerk just read the revised rules and articles of impeachment; Speaker Pelosi is now up and offering opening remarks to launch the six hours of debate.

Let’s do this, keep our republic.

UPDATE-2 — 12:30 p.m. ET —

Rep. Doug Collins has offered the minority remarks which I freely admit to muting because it’s the same bullshit whining offered too loud.

For quieter coverage, here are live Twitter threads of the impeachment debate:

Marcy’s live thread: https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1207347805368541189

Brandi Buchman, Courthouse News: https://twitter.com/BBuchman_CNS/status/1207256948908929025

Jennifer Taub’s thread: https://twitter.com/jentaub/status/1207303012651327489

UPDATE-3 — 8:10 p.m. ET —

The House is now voting on the first article of impeachment for abuse of power. Each member will cast their vote electronically from within the House within a 15-minute window.

Keep our republic, congresspersons.

8:14 p.m. ET — already at 152 Democrats and 1 Independent voting Yea.

8:15 p.m. ET — 163 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea.

8:20 p.m. ET — 198 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea. 2 Democrats voting Nay (likely Van Drew and Peterson)

8:22 p.m. ET — 210 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea. 2 Democrats voting Nay (likely Van Drew and Peterson)

8:24 p.m. ET — 215 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea. We have impeachment.

8:34 p.m. ET —

Democrats voting Nay:

Jeff Van Drew, NJ-2

Collin Peterson, MN-7

Democrats voting Present:

Tulsi Gabbard, HI-2

UPDATE-4 — 8:39 p.m. ET —

House now voting on second article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress.

8:39 p.m. ET — 198 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea

8:42 p.m. ET — 214 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea; 3 Democrats voting Nay, 1 Democrat voting Present

8:43 p.m. ET — 217 Democrats, 1 Independent voting Yea; 3 Democrats voting Nay, 1 Democrat voting Present. We have a second count of impeachment.

8:50-ish p.m. ET —

(I confess I forgot to check the clock for the time when Pelosi hit the gavel.)

Democrats voting Nay:

Jeff Van Drew, NJ-2

Collin Peterson, MN-7

Jared Golden, ME-2

Democrats voting Present:

Tulsi Gabbard, HI-2

Analysis of Democratic defections:

Van Drew has said he is leaving the Democratic Party and becoming a Republican. Why he simply didn’t retire I don’t know because his chances of winning aren’t good in a blue wave.

Collin Peterson represents a very rural and overwhelmingly white portion of western Minnesota and is a pro-life Dem.

Tulsi Gabbard. This one is self-explanatory.

Jared Golden had indicated he was going to split his votes, saying he didn’t think the Dems had proven a threshold had been met for “high crimes and misdemeanors” with the second article. The second article seems so clear — witnesses and documents were subpoenaed as part of an impeachment inquiry, and Trump refused to allow compliance with the subpoenas — that Golden has stretched beyond rationality his effort to “work with the president.”

Golden had said, “…while the president’s resistance toward our investigative efforts has been frustrating, it has not yet, in my view, reached the threshold of ‘high crime or misdemeanor’ that the Constitution demands. For that reason, I will vote against Article II of the House resolution regarding obstruction of Congress.” If this were a criminal investigation and a target refused to comply with a subpoena, they’d be facing a charge of obstruction. Golden simply chose to split the wrong baby at the wrong time.

And I hope Stephen King, he of the myriad horror novels, gets a more progressive Democratic candidate to primary and win Golden’s seat.

Updates during the course of House activities will appear at the bottom of this post.

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