Poor Joe Biden. Every nut case with an R behind his name is after him these days, Lindsey Graham, Devin Nunes, and now none other than Rudy Giuliani. TRUTH ALERT: The statement I’ve made several times of having an insurance policy, if thrown under bus, is sarcastic & relates to the files in my safe about the Biden Family’s 4 decade monetizing of his office. If I disappear, it will appear immediately along with my RICO chart. — Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) November 23, 2019 Rudy sounds exactly like the mob bosses he used to prosecute. I honestly can’t decide who has fallen from a greater height, Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz. Right now I’d say it’s even money.
The White House is in possession of a treasure trove of hundreds of documents revealing the withholding of aid to Ukraine, the after-the-fact justification for same and debate on the legal merits of doing such a thing. One thing is certain, this isn’t helping Donald Trump’s cause, plus Mick Get-Over-It Mulvaney is right at the center of the action. Washington Post: One person briefed on the records examination said White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear if the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly. […] In the early August email exchanges, Mulvaney asked acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought for an update on the legal rationale for withholding the aid and how much longer it could be delayed. Trump had made the decision the prior month without an assessment of the reasoning or legal justification, according to two White House officials. Emails show Vought and OMB staffers arguing that withholding aid was legal, while officials at the National Security Council and State Department protested. OMB lawyers said that it was legal to withhold the aid, as long as they deemed it a “temporary” hold, according to people familiar with the review. A senior budget lawyer crafted a memo on July 25 that defended the hold for at least a short period of time, an administration official said. Mulvaney’s request for information came days after the White House Counsel’s Office was put on notice that an anonymous CIA official had made a complaint to the agency’s general counsel about Trump’s July 25 call to Zelensky during which he requested Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. White House counsel Pat Cipollone must be tearing his hair out these days. He has gone on record telling the House impeachment committees that the White House will not cooperate in with the inquiry in any way and has steadfastly refused to provide witnesses or documents. This new development certainly does not make Cipollone’s stance look particularly ethical. Look for blood pressures to soar as the heat in the proverbial kitchen rises. The document research has only exacerbated growing tension between Cipollone and Mulvaney and their offices, with Cipollone tightly controlling access to his findings, and Mulvaney’s aides complaining Cipollone isn’t briefing other White House officials or sharing important material they need to respond to public inquiries, according to people familiar with their relationship. Mulvaney is a critical player in the Ukraine saga, as he has acknowledged that he asked OMB to block the release of congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine — at the president’s request — in early to mid-July of 2019. The emails revealed by White House lawyers include some in which Mulvaney urges Vought to immediately focus on Ukraine’s aid package, making clear it was a top priority for the administration. Now here’s an interesting note: Cipollone is worried about public records requests. Cipollone’s office has focused closely on correspondence that could be subject to public records requests, those which involve discussions between staff […]
Nobody savvy is under the impression that Devin Nunes is a first rate, or even a third rate intellect, but the mish-mash of his mental processes, as evidenced by his commentary during the impeachment inquiry and now his reaction to his part in the Ukraine scandal being exposed, is truly astounding. Nunes was on a call in to Fox News Sunday and his reliance on simplistic jargon and paranoid rebuttal — all vaguely couched — reveals a mind set devoid of all reasoning power — yet this is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee? This is someone who is entrusted with finding truth in crucial matters of national importance? If that’s the case, we are so phucked. But then you knew that. BARTIROMO: Were you in Vienna w/Shokin? NUNES: Because there is criminal activity here, I'm not going to sit here & try to compete against the media B: To be clear, you're telling me CNN committed criminal activity? N: It's very likely, or they're an accessory to it, right? pic.twitter.com/epHJN0V7gK — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 24, 2019 The rate at which our American institutions are being eroded in the era of Trump is positively horrifying. I suppose that on the bright side, Nunes has found a more interesting defendant than a fake cow to litigate against. This guy has got to go. If there’s one congressional seat we get in 2020, it’s got to be his. The man is seriously not playing with a full deck.
Congress is on a brief recess until December 3, and it’s possible that a vote on impeachment in the House could take place by December 20. This would mean that in January, the Senate trial would begin and since Mitch McConnell has made it clear he wants it to be brief, we can assume that it would be completed by February 3, the date of the first Democratic primary in Iowa. The best summary of this process and what to look for has been written by John Cassidy, The New Yorker: None of this is set in stone, however. The next step is for the House Intelligence Committee to put together a report summarizing the evidence that it gathered during its private and public hearings, when it interviewed seventeen witnesses, most of whom were current or former government officials. CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb reported on Friday that Democratic staff members from the Intelligence Committee will work through the Thanksgiving week to prepare the report, which is unlikely to contain any surprises. It could be passed along to the House Judiciary Committee as early as the following week. It isn’t yet clear what will happen after that. Under the impeachment rules that the House adopted last month, the Republicans may have more leeway to call witnesses in the Judiciary Committee than they did in the Intelligence Committee, and President Trump will have the right to legal representation. Control of the process will pass from Adam Schiff, of California, who did a masterly job orchestrating the hearings in the Intelligence Committee, to Jerry Nadler, of New York, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. As the Washington Post columnist Harry Litman noted this past Sunday, Schiff, a former assistant U.S. Attorney, brought a prosecutor’s sensibility to the public hearings, building the case against Trump brick by brick, with the aid of witnesses like William B. Taylor, Jr., the chief diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv; Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union; and Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official—all of whom were in a position to see the Trump-Giuliani Ukraine caper unfold and unwind from the inside. Schiff was calm, forensic, and articulate. Many Democrats regard Nadler as having less of a sure hand. The seventy-two-year-old has reportedly been consulting closely with Schiff and Pelosi, but he hasn’t yet given any public indication of how many hearings he will hold, or even whether his committee will confine itself to the Ukraine matter when it starts to draw up articles of impeachment. The Judiciary Committee is also looking into whether Trump obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation, and a court is expected to rule on Monday whether Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, will be forced to testify in that probe. There have been rumors that the Democrats might include a Mueller-related charge in the articles of impeachment, although pursuing that matter along with Ukraine could conceivably slow things down. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reported that “Democrats still haven’t made a final decision on whether to include any impeachment articles tied to the special counsel’s findings.” On Friday, Schiff told the Los Angeles Times that the Intelligence Committee could conceivably hold more hearings as well. “We’re not foreclosing the possibility of additional depositions or hearings,” Schiff said, “But we’re also not willing to wait months and months and let them play rope-a-dope with us […]
The quality of Devin Nunes’ problems has just escalated out of the realm of fake cows and what he deemed the “circus” of the House impeachment inquiry. Congressman Nunes may be looking at an indictment for breaking federal law, by trying to solicit something of value to a political campaign from a foreign national. Rudy Giuliani’s henchman, Lev Parnas, is testifying that former Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin met with Nunes in Vienna for the purpose of discussing digging up political dirt against Joe Biden. This is precisely what Fiona Hill spoke of with respect to Gordan Sondland, when she said that Sondland was doing a personal errand for Donald Trump whereas she and others were advancing a diplomatic agenda, and those two things had diverged, and were likely to “blow up.” Nunes was part of the contingent that was furthering Donald Trump’s personal political interests in Ukraine, not America’s. CNN: Congressional travel records show that Nunes and three aides traveled to Europe from November 30 to December 3, 2018. The records do not specify that Nunes and his staff went to Vienna or Austria, and Nunes was not required to disclose the exact details of the trip. – Nunes’ entourage included retired colonel Derek Harvey, who had previously worked for Trump on the National Security Council, and now works for Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee. Harvey declined to comment. – Bondy told CNN that Nunes planned the trip to Vienna after Republicans lost control of the House in the mid-term elections on Nov. 6, 2018. – “Mr. Parnas learned through Nunes’ investigator, Derek Harvey, that the Congressman had sequenced this trip to occur after the mid-term elections yet before Congress’ return to session, so that Nunes would not have to disclose the trip details to his Democrat colleagues in Congress,” said Bondy. – At the time of the trip, Nunes was chairman of the Intelligence Committee. In January, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff took over as chairman of the powerful committee, which is now conducting the impeachment inquiry. Here’s where we run into two other names recently in the news with respect to investigating the Bidens, journalist John Solomon, who attacked Fiona Hill, shortly after she exposed the false narrative and conspiracy theory of Ukraine having a part in the 2016 election, and of course Lindsey Graham, because he, too, now wants to launch a formal investigation of the Bidens, as does Nunes. [Parnas’ attorney] Bondy says that according to his client, following a brief in-person meeting in late 2018, Parnas and Nunes had at least two more phone conversations, and that Nunes instructed Parnas to work with Harvey on the Ukraine matters. – Parnas says that shortly after the Vienna trip, he and Harvey met at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where they discussed claims about the Bidens as well as allegations of Ukrainian election interference, according to Bondy. – Following this, Bondy says that in a phone conversation Nunes told Parnas that he was conducting his own investigation into the Bidens and asked Parnas for help validating information he’d gathered from conversations with various current and former Ukrainian officials, including Shokin. – Parnas says that Nunes told him he’d been partly working off of information from the journalist John Solomon, who had written a number of articles on the Biden conspiracy theory for the Hill, according to Bondy. Nunes has been asked […]
The impeachment inquiry likely concluded today and the next step is the drawing up of formal Articles of Impeachment. However, the real battle to be fought in the days ahead is not a factual or legal one based upon the testimony and evidence presented to the House. The real battle is going to be between the two competing narratives of truth in the cultural war, that has contaminated American media and consequentially American life, and tanked empirical evidence, as we used to understand that term. We now live in Wonderland, where the words mean whatever you want them to mean — for real. This premise is exemplified by the fact that right-wing reporter, John Solomon, whose false allegations of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election were called out by Fiona Hill Thursday, as the conspiracy theory and twaddle that they are, and his pure Trumpian response to same: double down and attack, the facts be damned. So says every useful idiot incapable of understanding how they were used. That is not about patriotism, it is about gullibility & shows how folks unknowingly become compromised by the GRU. Some of your allegations were first reported by Guccifer 2.0. Just a coincidence, Im sure — Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) November 22, 2019 Fiona Hill suggested my Ukraine stories were Russian propaganda. If she’s such an expert she would know my main character Yuriy Lutsenko was a political prisoner of the Russian backed Yanukovych regime and the US pleaded for his release and applauded his appointment as prosecutor — John Solomon (@jsolomonReports) November 21, 2019 Lutsenko is a peach. NBC News reported that Lutsenko was the country’s chief prosecutor under the previous Ukrainian government, serving from May 2016 to August 2019. When approached by Giuliani and his associates, Parnas and Fruman, Lutsenko was facing an uncertain political future. The Giuliani team saw U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch as an obstacle to their objectives — digging up derogatory information on former vice president Biden and smoothing the way for a possible natural gas deal in Ukraine, former officials said. “[Lutsenko’s] incentive to help was to take out the ambassador,” said a former senior diplomat with experience in the region. “He was angry at criticism from the U.S. embassy over the slow pace of reform in the justice sector.” “There was this personal payback dimension.” Point being, that all that Solomon or any of his ilk need to do, is throw out a talking point that sounds about right and until somebody who actually knows something can fact check it and put up an argument, points are won in the cultural dispute and the beat goes on. It’s a conflict based on innuendo, bias, and personal agenda, all fueled by greed. Our institutions are being undermined at an alarming rate. The truly terrifying part of all this, is that the GOP is fully on board for this cultural war, because it plays right into their hands. The GOP stopped being a legitimate political party many years back — it’s scarcely the party of Eisenhower any more — and now power and the pursuit of profit are their only motivations. They don’t give a ding dong for the truth — in complete contravention of the oaths of office that they swore, but that holds no sway in a party where […]
Oh, what a desperate web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Old Aphorism Donald Trump was an hour late getting out the White House door today. He wouldn’t take questions from the press, but did bestow the first line of this statement, that was later issued by Stephanie Grisham. PoliticusUSA: President Donald J. Trump said, “I want nothing. I want no Quid Pro Quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing.” Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified to this in his deposition and repeatedly affirmed it today. That should be the only takeaway from today’s sham hearing, and it was stated under oath by the only person in these hearings who has ever spoken directly to President Trump. Though much of today’s testimony by Ambassador Sondland was related to his presumptions and beliefs, rather than hard facts, he testified to the fact that President Trump never told him that a White House meeting or the aid to Ukraine was tied to receiving a public statement from President Zelensky. Over the course of the Democrats’ desperate impeachment inquiry, we have heard a great deal of hearsay, conjecture, and outright speculation about whether the President withheld military aid to the Ukraine based on a quid pro quo. The Democrats certainly tried – and have again failed – to make their case by using unreliable and indirect evidence. This country deserves better. Trump did not condition any part of the United States-Ukraine relationship on a quid pro quo. President Trump himself released the transcript of that phone call months ago in order to end the wild speculation. In addition, President Zelensky has repeatedly stated that President Trump did not pressure him in any manner. The facts will clearly not change the Democrats’ attempts to harass this President and spread dangerous conspiracy theories throughout the halls of Congress and all over this country. Nor will the Democrats do anything to benefit the American people by passing the USMCA, reducing drug prices, creating jobs and securing the border. In the meantime, President Trump will continue to focus on those priorities. It is sad that Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Schiff, and the rest of the House Democrats continue to focus on their impeachment farce instead of working on behalf of the American people – the people they purport to represent. Meanwhile, Devin Nunes is accusing the Democrats of “pounding the table and gaslighting the country,” as he compares the impeachment inquiry to the Spanish Inquisition. “inquisition victims had more rights than Democrats are giving the president.” Maybe the quote that Grisham should have concentrated on in her statement was Sondland quoting Trump, “talk to Rudy.” It will be interesting to see how the Republicans deconstruct Sondland’s testimony to where it does not appear that he was ordered by Trump to work with Giuliani on Ukraine, because right now, that’s the plain fact that came out today — one of many, in point of fact, and none of them exculpating Trump. Or Pence, or Pompeo, or Giuliani. It’s sure getting crowded under that proverbial bus right now.
This has not been a great day for the GOP or for Donald Trump and now here’s another rock on the pile. One of their key talking points, that Ukraine “got the aid, didn’t they?” has now been blown out of the water, because Ukraine officials knew that there was a hold up in getting the aid, contingent upon Ukraine agreeing to hold investigations that Trump wanted held. They knew there was a problem and they inquired and that’s not what the GOP has been saying all along. Axios: Defense Department official Laura Cooper testified in an impeachment hearing Wednesday that members of her staff recently brought her two unclassified State Department emails revealing that the Ukrainian embassy had asked “what was going on” with U.S. military aid — which had by then been suspended — on July 25. Why it matters: July 25 is the same day of President Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though the emails from the State Department came after the morning call. Cooper’s testimony suggests the Ukrainians knew there was “some kind of issue” with the security assistance by July, and that they were aware the aid had been suspended by August. The surprise revelation could potentially undermine a key Republican defense that Zelensky could not have felt pressure from Trump to carry out investigations into his political rivals because the Ukrainian president was not aware of the frozen aid. The cat’s out of the bag now. And it’s not going to go back into the bag, it doesn’t look like. I wonder how Trump is going to spin this into a hoax on Twitter?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago? Pete Seeger Apparently GOP House reps are treating the testimony of Gordon Sondland the way you or I treat a blowout by the home team, when we just up and leave early so as to get out of the parking lot and avoid traffic. The ranks, they do appear to be thinning, and one can only assume two things: 1. The Republicans are desperately trying to figure out what the hell to do now, or 2. They want to be able to say, “I didn’t hear the testimony, I wasn’t there,” because they have no proper response to it. Sondland’s testimony is being touted as “the John Dean moment” including by John Dean. “His statement is not as voluminous as mine was, there’s not as much misconduct,” he continued. “It’s much more restricted.” Dean recalled that his statement alone lasted eight hours and he testified for four days. “But yes, I think he’s in that spirit,” he concluded. “He wanted to tell the truth. He thought that telling the truth and letting it come out was more important than any presidential relationship. It’s a big day in this presidency because the truth has come out about it.”
It looks like the nebulous circumstances surrounding the sudden demise of Jeffrey Epstein are about to come under some much needed scrutiny. It’s about time. New York Times: Two federal workers who were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail are expected to be charged Tuesday in connection to their alleged failure to check on him, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The two federal Bureau of Prisons employees are expected to appear in United States District Court in Manhattan. The charges would be the first to arise from a criminal inquiry into the death of Mr. Epstein, who hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. A person briefed on the case had earlier said that the two federal workers had already been arrested, but others involved in the case said later in the morning that the arrests had not yet been carried out and the two workers would be charged later in the day. These are the same two people who fell asleep the night of Epstein’s death, and subsequently falsified records, saying that they had checked in on him every half hour. Again, without wanting to foment a conspiracy theory, it is unusual that these guards fell asleep, unusual that Epstein’s cell mate had been removed, and most unusual that the video tape of the hallways that night has never been released. Those facts, coupled with forensic evidence that is not conclusively in the death-by-suicide column, but may reasonably be interpreted as death-by-homocide, do beg for a bit more scrutiny, I think it fair to say.