Holy Moly — that week DID NOT go well for Trump, which is damn good news in these parts! Rather than have a long intro, let’s just dive in and enjoy. We’ve earned it! 😆
The Evidence For Impeachment is Piling up and it is DAMNING
After some 65 hours of testimony along with public comments from Trump, his aides and allies, a clear portrait is emerging.
Grilled under oath for dozens of hours on Capitol Hill, at least three current and former U.S. officials have all made the same startling admission: a coveted White House visit for the new Ukrainian leader had been explicitly conditioned on his agreeing to investigations that could have helped President Donald Trump’s re-election.
The worst (that we know of) this week was from Taylor. And remember, we only know how bad this was because he chose to make his opening statement public. There may very well be way more where his dirt is coming from:
There've been mixed signals on whether there was a quid pro quo involving 1) military aid or 2) a meeting with Trump — as well as on whether it was just on A) the server/2016 probe or B) the Bidens probe
Bill Taylor says it's all four: 1, 2, A and B.https://t.co/knJYf4Xoov
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) October 22, 2019
How bad was his testimony for Trump?
When a trial witness gives testimony like Bill Taylor gave today, that's usually when the defense lawyer sidles over at a break and asks if there's any plea offer still on the table.
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) October 22, 2019
Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch said after leaving the SCIF that Bill Taylor’s testimony “is a sea change.”
“This testimony is a sea change. I think it could accelerate matters,” he said. “This will, I think, answer more questions than it raises. Let’s put it that way.”
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 22, 2019
Taylor’s statement is a completely devastating document. I know they will find a way but it’s just impossible to imagine how Republicans in Congress will be able to defend this. It is well beyond what most assumed was the worst case scenario.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) October 22, 2019
and it is not just one person:
Tim Morrison, a top Russia and Europe adviser on President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to testify before House impeachment investigators next week and corroborate key elements of a top US diplomat’s account that Trump was pressing for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens before he would greenlight US security assistance, according to sources.
Democrats wanted to wrap this up quickly, but so many people are coming forward with dirt, that it may get dragged out.
Interviews with a dozen Democratic lawmakers and aides reveal little urgency to cut short a string of closed-door depositions with senior Trump administration figures that have yielded a mountain of damaging evidence, amid Republican lawmakers’ gripes about the tightly controlled process.
Democratic leaders still view the end of 2019 as a rough deadline to complete the impeachment process, and have started to talk privately about the topline logistics of moving the investigation into a public forum. But the unexpected deluge of testimony that investigators have received in private from witnesses willing to defy the White House’s efforts to silence them has left lawmakers reluctant to stanch the flow — and possibly miss crucial details.
my bolding because — YES!
and how can trump fight back against this?
It’s hard to overstate how much damage the testimony of William Taylor, the U.S. envoy to Ukraine, inflicted on President Donald Trump’s defense in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
On its face, Taylor’s testimony Tuesday established the quid pro quo that Trump has denied for weeks.
Given Taylor’s devastating testimony, it’s unsurprising that some Republicans are backing off the “no quid pro quo” line that has been part of Trump’s defense for weeks.
If Republicans quickly admitted what Trump did but insisted that they wanted the American people to decide Trump’s fate in December, they might reduce the damage and move past this episode, assuming they had the votes in the U.S. Senate to prevent conviction. If Trump refuses to allow them to adopt that strategy, he becomes Republicans’ own worst enemy. Because if Taylor’s testimony is any guide, they will reach that point eventually, and the road getting there will be rocky for the administration.
you all know he won’t let them do that, right? What else did Taylor say?
Taylor testified that he raised these concerns with then-national security adviser John Bolton, who Taylor said referred to Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine as a “drug deal” and opposed a call between Trump and Zelensky because he feared it “would be a disaster.” Bolton, who has since resigned, has not spoken publicly. What would he say if called to testify?
and looky looky:
This is very bad news for Trump.
One argument they have been making is that there is no quo because Ukraine didn’t know about the freeze. But, whoops →
To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze $391 million in military aid was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There was no quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know assistance had been blocked.
But then on Tuesday, William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Kiev, told House impeachment investigators that the freeze was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand. That did not deter the president, who on Wednesday approvingly tweeted a quote by a congressional Republican saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”
so all they are left with is looking like assholes to defend him:
President Trump wants his party to defend him more aggressively. Senators instead are denouncing the House investigation.
One day after House lawmakers tried to block an impeachment witness by sowing chaos with a protest in the Capitol’s secure meeting rooms, Senate Republicans joined the fray by offering a resolution condemning the House investigation and demanding that Democrats hold a formal vote authorizing the inquiry.
But the move left the president’s allies in the same awkward place they have been for more than two weeks: unable or unwilling to mount a vigorous defense on the substance of the allegations and focused instead on trying to shake the public’s faith in the House’s impeachment process.
Democrats are all over this:
Officials working on the investigation said that four more witnesses, including three current and former National Security Council officials, would sit for interviews next week.
Charles M. Kupperman, who served until last month as the deputy national security adviser at the White House, was scheduled to sit for questioning on Monday. Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs at the N.S.C., is expected to appear on Tuesday.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, is now scheduled to appear on Wednesday.
And Timothy Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, is scheduled to appear next Thursday. Mr. Morrison this summer succeeded Fiona Hill, who has already told lawmakers about the alarm she and Mr. Bolton registered over the events.
The committees were also scheduled to hear in closed session on Saturday from Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian affairs at the State Department.
and these people too:
"The Chairs also sent a letter conveying a subpoena to Department of State Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl that compels him to appear at a deposition on November 6, 2019 as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump." https://t.co/llIIENU9DD
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 25, 2019
Inbox: Chairs Schiff, Engel, and Maloney have sent letters conveying subpoenas to two Office of Management and Budget officials, Michael Duffey and Russell Vought, that compel them to appear at a deposition on November 5 and 6, respectively, as part of the impeachment inquiry.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 25, 2019
The republicans must have some magic in a bottle just waiting, right? Well, here it is:
Stephen K. Bannon, who was pushed out as the White House chief strategist in August 2017, has also created an unofficial war room in the basement of his Capitol Hill townhouse to wage over the radio a messaging war on the Democratic impeachment effort
Steve Bannon in his basement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! If only it was his mom’s basement. That is the only thing that would make it better.
So all of this has led to:
The GOP is Panicking
The opening statement of Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, is “reverberating” on Capitol Hill among Republicans, according to GOP Hill sources, who told CNN that Taylor’s testimony is a game changer in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.A senior Republican source on Capitol Hill told CNN that Taylor’s statement was so detailed, so specific and that he is so respected that it is having an impact.“It points to quid pro quo,” the GOP source told CNN.While most Republicans have sided publicly with the President, they’ve been privately grumbling that they’re “fed up and tired” of being asked to defend him in the impeachment investigation.Republican sources on Capitol Hill told CNN there’s a “growing unease that there is no defense” of the President’s actions.“How do you defend the indefensible?” one source told CNN. “We can’t defend the substance, all we can do is talk about process.”
Most of them don’t even try defending him, but when they do this is what happens 😆
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) October 25, 2019
They know this is going really badly:
Republican senators fear President Trump and their party are losing the public opinion fight over impeachment.
“Does he need to be so unhinged? He says the dumbest things,” said one Republican senator who vented frustration with the president’s outbursts on Twitter and in front of the White House press corps.
“Yeah, there needs to be a coordinated response to everything. There needs to be a coordinated effort to just shut up,” the senator said.
GOP lawmakers say that President Trump and his political team need to overhaul their strategy to regain momentum and prevent their party from losing the White House and a number of congressional seats next fall
It should not be missed that Matt Gaetz and the cavalcade of dumbasses only reached a panic so severe they are now disrupting hearings after Bill Taylor’s testimony yesterday.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) October 23, 2019
As more and more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that the president’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts and complain about how unfairly he’s being treated.
So many of the defenses he floated early on have crumbled under the weight of subsequent revelations.
Accusing Democrats of mishandling the process certainly fits with Mr. Trump’s enduring sense of victimhood. The strategy also works to inflame the party’s base against the opposing team, while allowing Republican lawmakers to avoid defending Mr. Trump’s behavior.
But, mostly, it’s about all they’ve got.
I would feel bad for them except they made their racist xenophobic bed. They can toss and turn in it!
It’s not just them though, their mess is making them less likely to go to bat for him
And that is Very Bad for Trump
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) pleads that he cannot comment on substance because he cannot separate that from the “unfairness” of the House process. (It’s fairly simple, honestly.) Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) claims he cannot comment on testimony he hasn’t seen that Trump used taxpayer money (in the form of foreign aid) to extort the Ukrainian government to interfere in our election. The problem with that: The testimony, at least the opening statement from acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., was released publicly this week.
No senator is saying openly that the president’s conduct is not impeachable. No senator is saying the witnesses lack credibility. No senator is saying it is perfectly appropriate for the president to use his powers to aid his campaign effort. There is a reason for that stunning silence: There is every reason to view this conduct as unprecedented, impeachable and amply provable through multiple witnesses and documents.
There is another takeaway from the senators’ stall tactics. The public is already moving with remarkable speed toward supporting impeachment and removal without seeing the witnesses, either. If the witnesses prove as stalwart and professional as they have apparently demonstrated behind closed doors, and/or the Republicans behave as ludicrously as they did during Wednesday’s mass violation of security rules by forcing themselves into a secure hearing room, who knows how high support for removal could go?
When we talk about impeachment, it’s common to note that at the moment it seems virtually impossible that 20 Senate Republicans would vote to convict President Trump, which would be required to remove him if every Democrat voted for removal. That’s perfectly true, and reasonable to keep in mind.
But even if Trump survives impeachment, Republican defections could still create an enormous problem for him, one that would threaten his chances of being reelected.
Cracks in his unified Republican support are already appearing. And for Trump to get reelected, he needs that support to be almost unanimous. His strategy depends on it.
you don’t need a large number of Republicans to oppose Trump to have a profound impact on the 2020 election. All you need is some kind of critical mass, enough to signal to moderate Republican voters that you can still be a Republican and vote for a Democrat in 2020, or vote third party, or not vote at all.
The flip side of Trump’s strategy of hate and fear is that it makes it impossible for any Democrats to vote for him. So if he suffers a significant number of defections among Republican voters, he’s doomed.
Public Opinion is Shifting
50% of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN poll, a new high in CNN polling and the first time that support for impeachment and removal has significantly outpaced opposition.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 22, 2019
Approval among American voters of the House impeachment inquiry has reached its highest level. 55% approve, 43% disapprove, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
48% now say Trump should be impeached and removed from office. 46% say he should not.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 23, 2019
Once upon a time, Republicans relished the idea of running against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Even just last year, Republican House candidates featured her prominently in their ads. They probably won’t be doing so anymore.
Pelosi is arguably the most popular nationally-known politician currently holding federal elected office. She sports a 44% favorable rating in our CNN poll. That’s higher than Trump or Pence. Her net favorability rating of -2 points is also higher than Trump (-14 points) or Pence (-7 points).
This is pretty amazing. Even with a massive, ongoing anti-Iran propaganda push from WH, hawkish think tanks, etc, 2/3 of Americans blame escalation in the Gulf on Trump's withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal and reimposition of sanctions. https://t.co/INvZWDfnRR
— Matt Duss (@mattduss) October 22, 2019
Democrats are doing great
Don’t look now, but the House Democrats are playing it very smart.
Emerging reports suggest that Democrats are zeroing in on a single “abuse of power” impeachment count, based on President Trump’s attempts to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into delivering dirt on Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
This is a savvy strategy for several reasons.
First, the strategy adheres to the “keep it simple, stupid” maxim that any experienced prosecutor learns.
Second, it blunts the Republicans’ apparent strategy of confusing matters by arguing legalisms such as “no quid pro quo,” which Trump’s defenders have begun to make into a drumbeat.
Third and most important, the focus on abuse of power best gets at what is repugnant about Trump’s conduct. The apparent Ukrainian shakedown is precisely the sort that the framers used to justify the political remedy of impeachment.
Trump’s Lawyer is a total moron (and a criminal)
The Justice Department is bringing more resources to the investigation, indicating widening trouble for one of Trump’s lawyers.
The scrutiny isn’t coming just from the previously known probes by FBI agents and the U.S. attorney’s office based out of Manhattan, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The criminal division of the Justice Department in Washington has taken an interest in the former New York mayor, too, meaning an expansion of resources that indicates the politically sensitive probe into the president’s personal attorney is both broader and moving at a faster pace than previously understood.
Giuliani’s troubles aren’t just his alone. He has turned members of the Trump team he’s worked with over the past 18 months into potential witnesses for federal prosecutors, who are trying to unravel the tangled relationships he brought to the mix in advising the president while still juggling an international consulting business that promised proximity to the White House.
Even as conservative Republicans are making public shows of their defense of the president, calling the impeachment inquiry unfair and storming the committee hearing room Wednesday, members of the committee tasked with oversight on foreign affairs are skeptical of the former New York City mayor’s involvement in overseas policy.
Some say it’s not completely abnormal for diplomacy to go through back channels, but they said it should not be the norm. And several said it generally shouldn’t be done.
By the time of that call, it was already clear that Giuliani butt dials don’t only happen after 11 p.m.
The late-night Giuliani butt dial came 18 days after a mid-afternoon Giuliani butt dial.
This is true but likely not in the sense that it was expressed. https://t.co/VnXIs8UJNE
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) October 25, 2019
This legal news is AMAZING
A federal judge on Friday ruled that the Justice Department must turn over former special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, a groundbreaking victory for Democrats in their effort to investigate whether President Donald Trump should be impeached for obstructing the long-running Russia probe.
In a double victory for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Judge Beryl Howell — the chief federal judge in Washington — ruled that the impeachment inquiry Democrats have launched is valid even though the House hasn’t taken a formal vote on it. The decision rejects arguments by DOJ and congressional Republicans that a formal vote is necessary to launch impeachment proceedings.
Got that? We don’t just get the Mueller info but this also destroys the “ this is not impeachment” argument:
Most important finding by the judge is it is "clear" that the House *has* opened an impeachment inquiry. She rejected DOJ's argument that more was needed for the House to invoke its impeachment power. https://t.co/IRybXwl05B
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 25, 2019
The key quote from Howell: "Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been
required to begin an impeachment inquiry."
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 25, 2019
Plus for obstruction:
I mean obstructing Congress is likely going to be an article of impeachment — and the judge is basically saying that this is, in fact, what’s going on.
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) October 25, 2019
The Anonymous Book Is Very Bad News For Trump
The anonymous senior Trump administration official, who previously alleged that there’s an internal administration resistance to President Donald Trump, plans to recount the President’s conversations in their forthcoming book.According to Axios, which first reported that the conversations will be recounted in the book, the anonymous official was a frequent participant in meetings with the President and had access to internal notes they plan to include in their new book on Trump, “A Warning.”“In these pages, you will not just hear from me. You will hear a great deal from Donald Trump directly, for there is no better witness to his character than his own words and no better evidence of the danger he poses than his own conduct,” the book’s back cover reads.
Resistance Twitter is calling for a boycott, but if it’s as revelatory as the unsigned New York Times op-ed that preceded it, you’re going to want to read it
I’m not going to buy it, but I can’t wait for it to come out!
We Have Great People on our Side
George Soros is a billionaire philanthropist, a former currency trader, a liberal champion and — in certain circles — a boogeyman. That last label seems to be a badge of honor.
“I’m very proud of the enemies I have,” he said in an interview in his apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. “It’s a perfect way to tell a dictator or a would-be dictator if he identifies me as an enemy.”
Notably, Mr. Soros is convinced that the arc of history may soon turn back his way, that Mr. Trump’s election and Brexit were the nadir of anti-globalism and that a backlash to that nationalism is coming.
“Trump is still doing a tremendous amount of damage,” he said, lifting himself up a bit in his desk chair. “I mean, just the last week what he has done in the Middle East has been devastating for America’s influence in the world,” he said, referring to the withdrawal of American troops from Syria.
Mr. Trump “is an aberration, and he is clearly putting his personal interests ahead of the national interests,” he said. “That’s a fact.”
His face brightening, he said: “I think it will contribute to his demise next year. So I am slightly predicting that things will turn around.
Although it drew little notice, Richard Engel’s report from northern Syria on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” struck me as stunning.
“While this is happening,” the NBC chief foreign correspondent told viewers, speaking about the temporary Turkish cease-fire, “there is ethnic cleansing underway.”
He acknowledged that “that is a very, very big word,” but based on his reporting about the Kurds under siege, there was just no other way to say it.
And although the Engel moment was notable in its forthrightness — simply stating the facts without hedging — it wasn’t the only one of its kind in recent days.
The mainstream media seems to have quietly removed its Trump-normalizing gloves in the past few weeks.
The Barr News is actually a sign of desperation
Let me make an admittedly tentative suggestion about the explosive news that William P. Barr’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation has become a criminal probe:
Don’t freak out.
However, it is at least possible that this development isn’t quite as serious as it seems — and that this might be yet another effort to calm the Audience of One, the Mad King who is raging at everyone for not shielding him from the impeachment inquiry closing in all around him.
Consider: The Times and Post both carefully note that it’s not clear what potential crime Durham and Barr are investigating, how serious it is, or when this criminal investigation started.
As Cato Institute senior fellow Julian Sanchez notes, this signals the possibility that the criminal matter could be something relatively less serious — say, an examination of early leaks out of the Russia probe. Putting this out now, Sanchez notes, helps overshadow the impeachment inquiry’s fusillade of devastating revelations, by creating the impression that the “Deep State coup is about to come crashing down.”
Who do you think frantically wants to create that impression? The Mad King does.
Good 2020 News
Here is Trump's approval rating in all 50 states, broken down into Electoral College format.
— Matt Rogers 🎙🎃 (@Politidope) October 25, 2019
It’s a first for Trump’s presidency: The same evangelical leaders who’ve been notoriously unmovable through prior controversies have spoken out forcefully to condemn his policy toward Syria. Televangelist Pat Robertson said Trump was “in danger of losing the mandate of heaven.” Family Research Council head Tony Perkins described the move as “inconsistent with what the president has done” previously.
The outrage over Trump’s Syria decision, combined with the growing threat of impeachment, has left the president facing a new test in his relationship with white evangelicals as signs of tensions have begun to surface in recent polls. For some, his culturally conservative agenda may not be enough to keep them from walking away if the situation in Syria deteriorates further.
It’s a dilemma that has left Trump’s biggest religious boosters asking themselves whether his sky-high support with so-called values voters will last through next November.
Remember, this is all going to end one day. Either we will get a happy ending or an awful one. The only way to feel good about what you did during these dark days is to do something. Do lots. Do one big thing. Do many small things. Here are some ideas.
Grateful and proud to be in this with you ❤️ ✊ ❤️…. as long as you are doing stuff to get us through. And if you aren’t: pull on your big girl panties and get to it. The clock is ticking and we need you.