“What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Ah, the iconic question from the Watergate scandal, which has already been used in context of Trump’s current scandal over military aid for the Ukraine. The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh? But now, thanks to new reporting from Julian Barnes at the New York Times, the timeline is a lot clearer, and if the Republicans were capable of even one iota of shame, Trump would already be putting on his life jacket as the GOP Senate lowers the lifeboat from the side of the HMS Bounty. According to Barnes new reporting, in the last week of August, the top NBS lawyer, as well as the top White House lawyer paid Trump a little visit, and it wasn’t to bear glad tidings. They advised Trump that there had been a formal whistle blower complaint filed over Trump’s withholding of aid to the Ukraine. There then followed a conversation about whether or not the Department of Justice might be able to forestall the report from being delivered to congress, since the Intelligence committee’s IG pattern of behavior in turning over all pertinent whistle blower complaints to congress was well established. But the long and short of it is, the cat was out of the bag, and Trump knew it in the last week of August. This new reporting is important stuff, because it gives context to several of Trump’s actions, and lays waste to the latest iteration of defense the House GOP has been taking. For instance, GOP resident dunce Jim Jordan all throughout the House intelligence hearings portrayed Trump as some sort of government Ebenezer Scrooge, only holding up the military aid to Ukraine for 54 days to ensure that newly elected Ukraine President Zelensky wasn’t going to take the cash off for a whirlwind weekend in Vegas. The new timing now makes it clear that Trump only started to think about the possible necessity of releasing the aid when he learned that congress may start sticking its nose into his affairs once again. It also brings clarity to something that OMB employee Mark Sandy said in his deposition which was just released yesterday. Sandy speaks of a sudden flurry of activity in the office in August, when months after the aid was withheld, and career officials had complained of possible criminality, Mulvaney is now consulting lawyers to try to cobble together a retroactive because for why withholding the aid was legal to start with. Nobody in OMB gave a shit about the legality of withholding the aid, until the specter of congress probing the delay became clear. Even more important, this new timeline exposes the distinctly self serving flavor of Trump’s September 9th phone call with EU Ambassador, and all around doofus, Gordon Sondland. Sondland’s testimony on that phone call was the high water mark for the House GOP in the hearings, where Sondland states, ” I asked the President flat out, what do you want Mr President. And Trump replied, I want nothing, no quid pro quo, I just want Zelensky to do the right thing, to do what he ran on.” The GOP collectively peed in their pants with excitement when Sondland put that on the record, as proof positive that Trump was expecting nothing special from the Ukraine in return for the […]

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