The Emperor Has No Clothes, No Defense, No Sense, and Shallow Support: Saturday’s Good News

Vince Alongi / Flickr Hope...
Vince Alongi / Flickr

I’ve given birth more than once.   It wasn’t pretty or fun or easy.  It was hard and kinda gross and sometimes scary and super painful.  But I wouldn’t trade anything for it because I got one of the best parts of my life out of it: my children.

This whole impeachment process is a little like giving birth.  It’s not pretty.  There will be moments when we will doubt if it was a good idea.  It will be painful. It will be scary.

There will be moments that feel transcendent and amazing and hopeful and then moments of doubt and fear.

But in the end, it is the best thing we can do.  It’s the path we need to take to save our democracy.  We can maintain our Republic.  We can show that there is still a rule of law that applies to everyone.  We can demonstrate that the government IS still of the people, by the people, for the people, and not just for the moron residing in the oval office.

So buckle in my friends.  Practice your deep breathing.  Locate your calming music.  Let’s do this.

The Evidence is Damning

Remember, this whole scheme amounted to a months-long plot involving diplomats colluding with Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to manipulate our foreign policy and use hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid urgently sought by a nation under Russian attack to serve Trump’s political imperatives — to falsify the corruption of the 2016 election and facilitate the corruption of the next one.

This plot also involves an extensive effort by Trump’s Cabinet officials, with Pompeo’s State Department trying to block officials from divulging the truth about it, Attorney General William P. Barr working to falsify the truth about 2016, and his Justice Department trying to smother insider whistleblowing about the effort to extort a foreign power to help rig the 2020 election.

More will be publicly documented in coming weeks. This is what Republicans will be either justifying or pretending doesn’t exist.

Firsthand account of Trump’s Ukraine call puts GOP in bind, emboldens Democrats

A top National Security Council official on Tuesday delivered a firsthand account of President Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, putting congressional Republicans in a bind and emboldening Democrats as they moved toward their first impeachment vote Thursday.

If the Morrison testimony is the best the GOP has, then they are fucked

The White House’s top Ukraine official confirms there was a quid pro quo

Tim Morrison, the top White House aide for Europe and Russia policy, just placed another log on the roaring impeachment fire threatening to engulf President Donald Trump. The problem, though, is he clearly tried to avoid that exact outcome.

In his testimony to the House Democrat-led impeachment inquiry on Thursday, Morrison backed up what other key witnesses have previously testified to: that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine’s president into Trump’s political rivals by withholding US military aid to the country. 

Tim Morrison just confirmed the quid pro quo. That’s the big story here.

Pro-Trump Twitter is trying to spin the minor discrepancies between the two accounts into something big, but that’s just absurd. In one case, the difference is over where Morrison met with a Ukrainian official. In the other, the difference is over who would announce the investigation into Burisma, the company on whose board Joe Biden’s son Hunter sat, as part of the quid pro quo.

But what is not in dispute is that the quid pro quo was articulated plainly and clearly.

Thus, Morrison is saying that Sondland — the ambassador to the European Union who was a leading agent in this whole plot — did indeed tell him that the military aid was conditional on the Ukrainians committing to the Burisma investigation.

Some have pointed out that Morrison claims he didn’t see anything illegal on Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. But so what? That’s not his decision, and the question of the conduct’s legality is not even necessarily relevant to an impeachment context. What’s more, the list of people who actually were deeply alarmed by the conduct is already very long.

and just like every other innocent person →  White House lawyer told Vindman not to discuss Ukraine call

The senior White House lawyer who placed a record of President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president in a top-secret system also instructed at least one official who heard the call not to tell anyone about it, according to testimony heard by House impeachment investigators this week.

Trump is a Moron

Trump Wants You to Know He’s Smart and Capable Enough to ‘Do Quid Pro Quo’

Last week, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal launched a novel defense of Trump, who Democratic lawmakers allege—as Capitol Hill testimony from senior administration officials suggests—attempted to force the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a top political rival of Trump’s, in exchange for military aid that was being held up. The newspaper’s esteemed board argued that any talk of impeaching Trump is silly, in large part, because this president is likely too bumbling to execute that kind of scandalous quid pro quo.

Trump, a routine morning reader and skimmer of several newspapers’ print editions, saw this editorial—which was obviously meant to defend him—last week. And the president promptly began complaining about it to some of those close to him.

“[The president] mentioned he had seen it and then he started saying things like, ‘What are they talking about, if I wanted to do quid pro quo, I would’ve done the damn quid pro quo,’ and… then defended his intelligence and then talked about how ‘perfect’ the call [with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] was,” said a source familiar with Trump’s reaction to the Journal editorial. Another person familiar with the president’s comments on the matter corroborated the account.

“He was clearly unhappy. He did not like the word ‘inept,’” the first source added.

Donald Trump wants to read the Ukraine call transcript to the country. That’s a terrible idea

“At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it,” he said of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky. “When you read it, it’s a straight call.”

Democrats are doing very well

Why Democrats are right to avoid court fights in the impeachment inquiry

First, since the House already has more than enough evidence of impeachable conduct, these witnesses are not, strictly speaking, essential

Second, at the Senate trial, the rule for evidence under one party’s control that is withheld or destroyed should be the same as the rule in any court setting: that that evidence is presumed to be unfavorable. Hence, the Senate sitting as jurors should be told that Kupperman’s testimony should be presumed to verify the bombshell testimony of witnesses like William B. Taylor Jr.

Third, unless the House wants to lose all momentum, drag this out until 2020, and litigate up and down the federal courts, it is best to move on for now.

The Mueller hearing was a debacle for Democrats. The new impeachment rules show that they’ve learned their lesson.

The most significant provision in the resolution exempts the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings from a rule that ordinarily limits questioning of witnesses to five minutes per committee member. Though the resolution leaves the five-minute rule in place for most members, it allows Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff to extend his own question time to as much as 45 minutes, so long as he gives equal time to Republican ranking committee member Devin Nunes.

These are important changes because they will allow Schiff and the team of lawyers working for him to focus their time on the impeachment hearings and to spend significant amounts of time asking probing questions during those hearings. The new rules help ensure that the hearing will not be a disjointed process, constantly jumping from one questioner to the next, without giving anyone time to build a coherent narrative.

The resolution provides that “the chair may confer recognition for multiple periods of such questioning,” so Schiff could potentially spend an indefinite amount of time questioning witnesses if circumstances warrant such an extension.

And, in what could prove to be an especially consequential aspect of this provision, Schiff and Nunes may also delegate their questioning time to “a Permanent Select Committee employee.” That means that professional counsel, who have both the skill set to conduct an effective interrogation and the ability to devote all their time to preparing for hearings, will be able to question witnesses.

‘We think we’re ready’: Democrats near the end of closed-door impeachment testimony

Democrats involved in the investigation say they don’t need five, six or seven witnesses to affirm the same set of facts that Trump himself has already acknowledged, or what was provided by witnesses with firsthand knowledge.

Democrats also intend to lean heavily on the evidence provided by Trump himself: the transcript of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he asked the newly elected leader to pursue an investigation of Biden.

Multiple witnesses described deepening concern about Trump’s posture toward Ukraine that led them to flag lawyers at the NSC. Several witnesses described a smear campaign against Yovanovitch, which was used by the president as a reason to remove her. Others described mounting concern that Trump had ordered the hold on military aid and blocked the White House visit in order to bend Zelensky to his will.

And Democrats believe the White House itself, with the publicized transcript of the July 25 phone call and Mulvaney’s own initial set of comments, has bolstered Democrats’ case that Trump abused his power.

GOP support for Trump is paper-thin

After Vindman, GOP anxiety deepens

Republican concerns are mounting about President Trump as damaging information piles up regarding his dealings with Ukraine.

The dam is not yet at the bursting point, but anxiety — fueled by the sense that more revelations could emerge at any moment — is rippling through the GOP.

“It’s fair to say my conversations with members continue to go to a worse place,” said Doug Heye, a former communications director of the Republican National Committee.

Heye added that, for the moment, there was a sizable gap between “private consternation versus public consternation.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Proof of Trump’s impeachable offenses plain to see

Congressional Republicans should be careful what they ask for. Their defense of the president has addressed process, not proof. The proof is largely undisputed, except by the president himself. It consists of admissions, testimony and documents, which show that Trump sought to induce the government of Ukraine to become involved in the 2020 presidential election.

Specifically, Trump held up $391 million in American military hardware and financial aid to Ukraine – which is at war with Russia after the Russian seizure and continual occupation of what was until 2014 a Ukrainian province – until Ukrainian prosecutors commenced a criminal investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

That is a mouthful of facts to swallow in one bite, but the legal implications are straightforward and profound. Whether one agrees with federal law or not, it is a crime to solicit assistance for a federal campaign from a foreign government. As well, the crime of bribery consists of a government official refraining from performing a legal duty until a thing of value is delivered to him.

Great 2020 News

Poll warning for Trump and Republicans: Danger ahead.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll should send a shudder through the Republican Party. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of President Trump’s performance, while 58 percent disapprove, 48 percent strongly so. The majority of the poll was taken after the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (for which a majority gives Trump credit). Trump’s approval ratings in battleground states such as Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin (40 to 55 percent) are only slightly better than his overall numbers.

The GOP’s nightmare scenario

A growing number of Republicans are privately warning of increasing fears of a total wipeout in 2020: House, Senate, and White House.

Why it matters: All of this is unfolding while the economy still looks strong, and before public impeachment proceedings have officially begun.

The Republican Senate majority, once considered relatively safe, suddenly looks in serious jeopardy. Democrats are raising more money, and polling better, than Republican incumbents in battleground after battleground.

President Trump trails every major Democratic candidate nationally and in swing states — and his favorable ratings remain well under 50%.

Kentuckians Have Finally Had About Enough of Mitch McConnell

What’s the print version of Donald Trump being booed at the World Series?

The poll showing that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the president’s most stolid defender, is down to a 18 percent job approval rating in Kentucky. Only 37 percent in the Public Policy Poll said they would vote for him again next year.

Doomsayers are wrong… AGAIN

Britain was supposed to take its most contentious political steps in decades by the strike of midnight and finally leave the European Union — three years after voting to leave it.

Weeks before the deadline, pro-Brexit politicians had warned that if the country did not leave the European Union on Oct. 31 as planned, there would be an explosion of riots and disorder in the streets.

“I think if we don’t leave on 31st of October, this country will explode,” Mark Francois, a hard-line Conservative member of Parliament, told BBC Politics Live in mid-September.

“Civil unrest could happen. I’m not saying it will — or that it’s even likely — but it is possible,” Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly said at an event in late September.

But as the day began, with Britain no longer expected to leave the European Union until January after having receiving yet another controversial extension from Europe, the streets of London were hit by something else: an eerie sense of calm.

There was no carnage. No Brexit riots. No mass protests. Just thousands of tweets from people sharing sarcastic tales and snapshots from all the ways the country had (or had not) exploded.

And finally, from those of us here in beautiful NYS:

Happy weekend everyone. So proud and lucky to be in this with all of you ❤️ ✊ ❤️

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