Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever.

(Previous thread)


  1. blf says

    In Ozland, NSW farm trespass bill criticised for turning into a crackdown on the right to protest (I presume all $ figures are Ozland dollars, A$1 = c.US$0.68):

    A New South Wales farm trespass bill has been criticised by civil liberties organisations, environment groups and unions for turning into “a crackdown on people’s rights to protest”.

    The Right to Farm Bill 2019, currently before the NSW parliament, can punish unlawful entry and disruption on “inclosed lands” with up to three years in jail, and increases the fine from $5,500 to $22,000.

    The bill is aimed at stopping animal rights protests on farms, but a range of groups and MPs say the wording would outlaw civil protest on any enclosed space, including schools, hospitals, mine sites or banks.

    Chris Gambian, the chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, said the threat to protest was “hidden within this bill”.

    “It includes farmers and knitting nanas protesting coal seam gas, unions on worksites, people staging a sit-in in corporate headquarters of a company, and more.

    On Tuesday, the independent NSW MP Justin Field proposed an amendment that inserts a clause so it “does not apply to a person who is engaged in a genuine peaceful demonstration or protest”.

    Without it, he said the new bill “massively increases penalties and introduces jail time for peaceful assembly and protest activities that have nothing to do with farming”.


    The proposed bill would amend the existing Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 to create harsher penalties.

    It would also add the words “or hinder” to the offence of “interfering with” business on that land.


    Inclosed lands are defined by the act as “any land, either public or private, inclosed or surrounded by any fence, wall or other erection, or by some natural feature …including the whole or part of any building”.


    Unions NSW said it was examining the bill closely but was concerned it could inhibit the ability for unions to do their work.

    Thomas Costa, the assistant secretary of Unions NSW, said it was an attempt to legislate against people’s rights to protest.

    “The Liberals have a track record of trying to criminalise dissent. They think they can legislate against it and frustrate our very legitimate right to protest,” he said.

    “These laws are designed to intimidate activists against taking action. Even if they pass parliament, they won’t quell activist spirit.”

  2. says

    OMG I had missed this:

    Crazy busy day. I’m only beginning to think about how we lost Robert Hunter today.

    Hunter was the Grateful Dead’s main lyricist. Terrapin Station. Dark Star. Jack Straw. Ripple. St. Stephen. Sugaree China Cat Sunflower. I Know You Rider. Eyes of the World. Playing in the Band.”

    Eyes of the World is my favorite song.

  3. says

    You will hear Republicans warn that #impeachment will rile up and anger the Republican base. News flash: they’re always riled up. That racial anxiety doesn’t need more fuel. Doesn’t matter. They’re not the majority. Don’t be scared of them. Do the right thing. Win the majority.”

    (Tweet from Wajahat Ali, whose family is still looking for an O-type liver donor for their two-year-old daughter Nusayba, who has Stage 4 cancer. Information here.)

  4. blf says

    Mahmoud Hussein: Egypt rejects request to visit ailing father:

    Father of detained Al Jazeera journalist is in critical condition and is unable to speak or eat, family says.

    Egyptian authorities have turned down a request by the detained Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein to visit his ailing father.

    Hussein, an Egyptian national, has been kept in a prison in Egypt without any charge for more than 1,000 days. He was arrested shortly after his arrival in Egypt in December 2016 while on a personal visit.

    Egypt’s state security prosecutor’s refusal came just days after his family failed to secure his temporary release, despite having submitted all the necessary medical reports proving Hussein Jumaa was critically ill.

    Jumaa has suffered five strokes since his eldest son Hussein was detained. His family said he was unable to walk, speak or ingest food.


    His incarceration is already in breach of Egypt’s penal code, which sets a maximum pretrial detention period of 620 days for individuals being investigated for a felony.

    In May, an Egyptian court rejected an order by the state prosecutor to release him from prison. Authorities opened a new investigation against him with unspecified charges and returned him to prison.


    Since the 2013 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, AJMN [Al Jazeera Media Network] has been portrayed as Egypt’s national enemy for its coverage of the group.


  5. says

    Trump tweeted: “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”

    Justin Amash responded: “It’s not about the transcript of a call. Don’t let President Trump or Republican officials distract you with a straw man. It’s about his continuing abuse of the office of the presidency.”

    (I also like the first response at the Trump tweet: “Psst. That was part of the problem Obstructy.”)

    This could conceivably backfire on them. Hardly anyone is falling for it this time. And because everyone knows how they operate, the expectation is that whatever they release will be completely inconsequential, so if it does contain anything incriminating it’ll be highlighted.

  6. tomh says

    WaPo Editorial.
    The phone call and whistleblower are urgent, but as others have pointed out, let’s not overlook what we already know.

    By Editorial Board
    September 24, 2019 at 10:28 a.m. PDT

    IN THE matter of President Trump pressuring the leader of Ukraine to manufacture dirt on a domestic political opponent of Mr. Trump, Congress, which now will open an impeachment inquiry , is right to press for more information. But this time, in its quest for documents and testimony, it should not minimize what is already known.

    Before and after the 2016 election — long before reading the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — we knew that Mr. Trump had invited Russia to meddle. We knew that his son and campaign chairman had eagerly accepted a meeting with a lawyer associated with the Vladi­mir Putin regime promising compromising material about Mr. Trump’s opponent. We had learned, before the report, that this campaign chairman had taken millions in payments from Russia-aligned oligarchs in Ukraine while hiding those payments from federal authorities. And we knew that the Trump campaign had greatly benefited from the release of Hillary Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

    Yet when Mr. Mueller delivered his report — or, more accurately, when Attorney General William P. Barr delivered his misleading preview of the report — Mr. Trump claimed vindication. These previously known offenses against U.S. democracy, egregious as they were, tended to be overlooked.

    Now we are presented with another case of Mr. Trump soliciting foreign interference in the U.S. electoral process, perhaps more egregious in the sense that he was acting as president and not just as candidate. And again there is much we already know. We know, by Mr. Trump’s own admission, that he hectored the newly elected president of Ukraine to interfere in his own law enforcement apparatus in order to produce compromising material on former vice president Joe Biden or his son. We know, from earlier investigations, that there is no basis in fact for such an investigation. We know, thanks to Post reporting Monday, that just before this phone call, Mr. Trump suspended $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine — aid that Congress had specifically appropriated; that the Pentagon recertified, after a White House inquiry, as necessary and consistent with U.S. foreign policy goals; and that Ukraine badly needs to defend against Russian aggression. We know that the aid remained suspended and that Mr. Trump continued to refuse Ukrainian requests for a presidential summit, until the apparent extortion attempt began to draw attention, by way of our Sept. 5 editorial and the subsequent launching of a House inquiry.

    In recent days, thanks to reporting first by The Post and then by the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, we have learned that a U.S. intelligence official was so alarmed by Mr. Trump’s dealings with a leader or leaders in this matter that the official lodged a complaint. We know that the inspector general of the intelligence community found the complaint to be urgent and relevant enough to warrant forwarding to Congress, as required by law. And we know that the administration is blocking this transmittal, in apparent violation of law.

    Congress therefore is right to demand, as an urgent matter, that the whistleblower complaint be shared with its intelligence committees, and that the whistleblower be allowed to testify. As part of the impeachment inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House is right to demand more information — not just the phone call transcript that Mr. Trump said he would release but also the president’s contemporaneous and current explanations for blocking the aid and denying a meeting, and testimony from Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and from administration officials about their communications with Ukrainian officials.

    But Congress also should not forget what it already knows. Mr. Trump and his cringing Cabinet enablers are scrabbling furiously to obscure that truth by throwing out lies about the Bidens, pretending that the Trump phone call was normal and ethical and, maybe most contemptibly, impugning the patriotism of the whistleblower. Republicans in Congress might ask themselves how they would have responded if President Barack Obama had been caught importuning a foreign leader to concoct dirt on one of them and using the levers of American power to enforce the request. They and their Democratic colleagues should keep in the front of their minds what they already know.

  7. says

    Larry Pfeiffer:

    As senior director of the WH Situation Room, I managed POTUS head-of-state calls. So, what light can I shed on the Trump-promised phone transcript?

    First off: unless this administration has changed procedures in place for many years, there are no WH tapes of this phone call. As I used to say, the WH became averse to taping Presidential phone calls in about 1974.

    Could there be recordings made by the foreign head-of-state’s government or a foreign intelligence service? Sure, particularly when the call is made over a non-secure phone.

    Could there be recordings made by the US Intelligence Community? No. Law, regulation, and practice forbids such collection of USG officials. Besides, there’s no foreign intelligence value in doing so, as the US official is aware of the call’s contents.

    Yes, there should be transcripts of the call. It is a long-standing practice, intended to not only memorialize the call but to protect the President against the foreign leader/gov’t making egregious claims about the call.

    The White House Situation Room and the responsible NSC directorate develop the transcript. WHSR, which monitors the call, develops a verbatim working transcript which is reviewed and finalized by the NSC directorate and captured in a memorandum of conversation (MEMCON).

    This MEMCON can vary greatly from a lightly edited full transcript to a vaguely worded summary of the call. Sharing of the MEMCON outside of the WH and across gov’t has varied from Admin to Admin and the sensitivity of the call, but has always been very limited.

    Who in the USG listens to the call as it happens? This varies from call to call. I managed the very rare call in which only myself and WHSR heard the actual call. In most cases, the call was listened to live by several people.

    Call participants often included the Nat’l Sec Advisor or his/her deputies, the WH Chief of Staff, an appropriate NSC Sr Director and members of his/her staff. Extremely rare for a non-WH person to be present for the call and we never looped in anyone outside the 18 acres.

    As to the foreign side of the call, we assumed similar participation.

    Could the President make calls on his own directly to a foreign head of state? Sure, but these are very busy people who aren’t always available for impromptu calls. The procedures were developed over time for both the convenience and the protection of the President.

  8. blf says

    More thug spittle frothing (from the Grauniad’s live States blog):

    House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Nancy Pelosi does not speak for America on this issue […]

    Our job is to legislate, not to continue to investigate, said the representative from California, adding that her announcement today changes nothing as democrats have already been heavily investigating Trump.


    The Trump campaign is continuing to insist that the impeachment inquiry will help him win reelection.

    In a statement, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said, The misguided Democrat impeachment strategy is meant to appease their rabid, extreme, leftist base, but will only serve to embolden and energize President Trump’s supporters and create a landslide victory for the President.


  9. says

    Inbox: All 10 Senate Judiciary Democrats call on Chairman Graham to request the whistleblower report and call A.G. Barr for a hearing: ‘We have a constitutional responsibility to determine the reasons for the whistleblower’s report and why it is being withheld from Congress’.”

  10. says

    Statement from the whistleblower’s lawyers:

    Our firm has represented our client from the outset, and he/she has diligently followed the processes and laws that afford the greatest legal protections against reprisal. As legal counsel, it is our duty to ensure our client is fully protected.We support the bi-partisan, unanimous resolution passed by the Senate regarding our client’s lawful whistleblower complaint and call upon the Acting Director of National Intelligence to transmit the complete disclosure to the two Intelligence Oversight Committees. Additionally, in order to ensure maximum legal protections for our client, we can confirm press reports that, today, we wrote to the Acting Director of National Intelligence to request specific guidance as to the appropriate security practices to permit a meeting, if needed, with the Members of the Intelligence Oversight Committees. We await a timely response from the Acting Director providing such guidance.

    This and their letters to and from the ADNI at the link.

  11. says

    Adam Schiff:

    It’s bad enough Trump sought help from a foreign power in the last election.

    It’s worse still that he obstructed the investigation into his misconduct.

    Now he‘s admitted using his office to coerce another country to interfere in 2020.

    I fully support the impeachment inquiry.

  12. says

    Politico – “White House preparing to release whistleblower complaint to Congress”:

    The White House is preparing to release to Congress by the end of the week both the whistleblower complaint and the Inspector General report that are at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to a senior administration official, reversing its position after withholding the documents from lawmakers.

    The move shows the level of seriousness with which the administration is now approaching the House‘s new impeachment proceedings, even as President Donald Trump publicly tries to minimize the inquiry as a “witch hunt” or “presidential harassment,” or a move that will help him win his 2020 reelection campaign.

    The administration official stressed the decision and timing could change over the next few days, but as of Tuesday evening the White House was planning to hand over the documents to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The president has agreed to this move, the official added.

    A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment….

    Preparing to? What preparation is required? Why the hell are they even involved? Just stop preventing the DNI from turning it over as required by law.

  13. says

    Steve Vladeck:

    The Constitution doesn’t impose any procedural requirements on the House along the potential path to impeachment—including any requirement of adopting a formal resolution.

    Up until the House actually votes to impeach, it’s bound only by its own rules:…

  14. blf says

    RTÉ’s story on the Irish rescue of the New York Times reporter, Declan Walsh, from Egypt, Irish Embassy ‘moved fast’ over threat to journalist (RTÉ is, broadly speaking, the Irish equivalent of the BBC):

    In an opinion piece on the growing threat to journalists around the world, the New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger said two years ago it got a call from a US government official warning that one of its reporters, Irishman Declan Walsh, was going to be arrested in Egypt.

    The official was passing along the warning without the knowledge or permission of the Trump administration and believed the administration would sit on the information and let the arrest happen.

    “Unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned, we turned to his native country, Ireland, for help,” Mr Sulzberger wrote.

    Within an hour, Irish diplomats travelled to Mr Walsh’s house and escorted him to the airport before Egyptian forces could detain him.

    “We hate to imagine what would have happened had that brave official not risked their career to alert us to the threat,” Mr Sulzberger wrote.


    Mr Walsh said he first contacted the US Embassy in Cairo, before being advised to contact the Irish Embassy instead as he was an Irish citizen.

    “My first port of call was to the US Embassy in Cairo, but they told me as an Irish citizen I should go to my own embassy first.

    “I called the Irish Ambassador, Damien Cole, and Damien sent an Irish official around to my apartment pretty much within an hour with a car and the embassy driver,” he said.

    “I grabbed a few things and we went immediately to the airport from there and I took a flight to Europe, the first flight I could get out.”


    Mr Walsh said there has long been an assumption that when reporters come under threat in places like Egypt, in extreme circumstances the paper can turn to its own government for support.

    However, he said this situation shows that that assumption does not necessarily hold true under the Trump administration.

  15. says

    Bob Weir: “If I’m gonna count my blessings, Robert Hunter and his imagination are gonna be up at the top of that list. I think I can speak for a lot of people In saying that. And then there’s the added blessing that he left us with plenty to go forward with…”

  16. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 18

    “[A] deal.” A deal? Now why would you want a make a deal if this was some sort of partisan, Deep State, fake news, witch-hunt? What have you done that makes you so nervous that you don’t even trust your Senate full of flunkies?

    I’ve got a deal for you, Mr. President:


    Resign now and all this will go away. Resign and take your despicable family with you. Just think, you can go back to golfing whenever you want, no more boring cabinet meetings you don’t understand, no news media to hound you. You can go back to private life and we’ll call this all off. Resign, and get out of this town forever.

    We can handle a year of that wimp Pence.

  17. says

    Rachael Bade, WaPo:

    Pelosi told Trump earlier today to release the WBer complaint.

    Here’s what she told members: “He said, ‘you know, I don’t have anything to do with that.’ I said, ‘Well, then undo it.’ Undo it. Because you are asking the DNI to break the law. I mean, it’s just outrageous.”

    So another lie for him to get caught in.

  18. says

    Laura Rozen:

    “Rudy — he did all of this,” one U.S. official said. “This s—show that we’re in — it’s him injecting himself into the process.”

    the thing is- he could not have done it in an administration that did not let him. Pompeo could have told embassy, you see him, call me

    when the then US ambassador apparently did the right thing and pushed back on Giuliani interference, did Pompeo stand up for her?

    leak those cables, Mr. Secretary. Or did you accede to what Trump wants?

    & who orders State IG investigations? seems should be a fulsome State IG investigation of how State/Pompeo handled Giuliani/Trump pressure

    and one might have thought @SenateForeign would be holding hearings on this, @SenatorRisch

  19. says

    Sen. Murphy: “The transcript of the call will show us the tip of the iceberg. It’s clear the scope of this corruption is much deeper than a phone call. That’s why we need the whistleblower complaint and a full inquiry.”

    Enlightening interview with him on Chris Hayes tonight. I’ll post a link in the morning.

  20. says

    From the Washington Post article to which SC referred in comment 37: “Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key foreign policy officials were sidelined.”

    […] Trump’s attempt to pressure the leader of Ukraine followed a months-long fight inside the administration that sidelined national security officials and empowered political loyalists — including the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani — to exploit the U.S. relationship with Kiev, current and former U.S. officials said. […]

    Several officials described tense meetings on Ukraine among national security officials at the White House leading up to the president’s phone call on July 25, sessions that led some participants to fear that Trump and those close to him appeared prepared to use U.S. leverage with the new leader of Ukraine for Trump’s political gain.

    As those worries intensified, some senior officials worked behind the scenes to hold off a Trump meeting or call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky out of concern that Trump would use the conversation to press Kiev for damaging information on Trump’s potential rival in the 2020 race, former vice president Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter. […]

    White House officials disputed these accounts, saying that no such concerns were raised in National Security Council meetings and that Trump’s focus was on urging Ukraine to root out corruption. […]

    But Trump admitted this week that he had done some of what his own advisers feared, using the call to raise the issue of Biden with Zelensky. And the wave of consternation triggered by that call led someone in the U.S. intelligence community to submit an extraordinary whistleblower complaint, setting in motion a sequence of events that now includes the start of an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.

    Though the whistleblower report focuses on the Trump-Zelensky call, officials familiar with its contents said that it includes references to other developments tied to the president, including efforts by Giuliani to insert himself into U.S.-Ukrainian relations. […]

    U.S. officials described an atmosphere of intense pressure inside the NSC and other departments since the existence of the whistleblower complaint became known, with some officials facing suspicion that they had a hand either in the complaint or in relaying damaging information to the whistleblower, whose identity has not been revealed and who is entitled to legal protection. […]

    Trump has fanned this dynamic with his own denunciations of the whistleblower and thinly veiled suggestions that the person should be outed. “Is he on our Country’s side. Where does he come from,” […]

    Trump’s closest advisers, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who was ordered by Trump to suspend the aid to Ukraine, are also increasingly targets of internal finger-pointing. Mulvaney has agitated for foreign aid to be cut universally but has also stayed away from meetings with Giuliani and Trump, officials said. But the person who appears to have been more directly involved at nearly every stage of the entanglement with Ukraine is Giuliani.

    “Rudy — he did all of this,” one U.S. official said. “This s—show that we’re in — it’s him injecting himself into the process.” […]

    The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, became a primary Giuliani target.

    Yovanovitch, a longtime State Department Foreign Service officer, arrived in Ukraine as ambassador at the end of the Obama administration, more than two years after an uprising centered on Kiev’s Independence Square ousted the Russian-leaning government.

    Though she was widely respected in the national security community for her efforts to prod Ukraine to take on corruption, Giuliani targeted Yovanovitch with wild accusations including that she played a secret role in exposing Manafort and was part of a conspiracy orchestrated by the liberal financier George Soros.

    “She should be part of the investigation as part of the collusion,” Giuliani said in a recent interview with The Washington Post, adding that “she is now working for Soros.” Yovanovitch is still employed by the State Department and is a fellow at Georgetown University. She declined to comment. […]

    Yovanovitch, who was to depart in July after a three-year assignment, was prematurely ordered back to Washington, a move that both baffled and unnerved senior officials at the State Department and the White House […]

    Within days of her ouster on May 9, Giuliani seemed determined to seize an unsanctioned diplomatic role for himself, announcing plans to travel to Ukraine to push for investigations that would “be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.” […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  21. says

    SC @35, I don’t think that they are going to get even a redacted transcript of that call. I think they are going to get notes that are just a sort of summary of the call, and that even those notes will have been edited by Trump and his lackeys.

  22. says


    SC @35, I don’t think that they are going to get even a redacted transcript of that call. I think they are going to get notes that are just a sort of summary of the call, and that even those notes will have been edited by Trump and his lackeys.

    Right. It’s all just bullshit.

    Worth remembering tomorrow: ‘Not only would any so-called transcript be based on notes, but it would also likely be incomplete because the note-takers usually do not include issues that could be controversial if they became public’.”

    And they’re “working out a plan to release” a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint, as suspected. They shouldn’t have the complaint (I didn’t know they did, and it’s outrageous) or be involved in any way in the first place, and now Principal Conclusions Barr and Mr. Sharpie are trying to keep it from the intel committees and publicly spin it out of existence.

  23. says

    Tony Schwartz just now on CNN described what he expects to be Trump’s plan going forward, taught to him by Roy Cohn:

    1. Set the narrative.
    2. Turn the tables.
    3. Flood the zone.
    4. Tweak the complicit.
    5. Rinse and repeat.

  24. says

    Giuliani has now claimed he’s been read in on the “transcript” of “the” phone call.

    The multiple layers and facets of corruption involved in this are just astonishing. Just from what we know already, the depth of the corruption, dishonesty, and wrongdoing is hard to wrap your head around.

  25. says

    From a recent ABC report:

    According to a readout released from the White House just after the call occurred on July 25, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “to congratulate him on his recent election.”

    A more extensive readout from the Ukrainian president’s office, also released after the call, noted that the two also spoke about “investigations into corruption cases that have hampered interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A.”

    Can anyone find this WH readout? The most recent statement/release related to Ukraine I’m seeing on the WH site is from May. Did they scrape it from the site, or am I just missing something?

  26. says

    Reminder: It’s not actually a transcript. The ‘transcript’ of this call will be more like the Barr Summary of the Mueller Report—simplified and spun positively. It’s why the president wants to release the transcript before anyone sees the underlying complaint….”

    (The tweet this is responding to is making me fume: “Told reliably by source who has seen a transcript of the call that it isn’t likely to live up to the high expectations many have, consistent with some previous reporting.” Who are the many who are expressing that they have high expectations of this? Everyone they interview says the opposite.)

    Susan Hennessey: “The fact this isn’t an actual verbatim transcript renders it effectively meaningless.”

  27. says

    Time – “Federal Prosecutors Join Trump to Block a Subpoena Seeking His Tax Returns”:

    Federal prosecutors are joining President Donald Trump in asking a federal judge in New York to temporarily block a state court grand jury subpoena seeking his tax returns.

    They say in papers filed late Tuesday in Manhattan federal court that Trump has raised “weighty constitutional issues” in trying to stop the subpoena and they want to review them and decide whether to join the fight.

    “To the extent that enforcement of the subpoena may adversely affect federal interests of constitutional dimension, those effects could not be redressed after the fact,” the prosecutors said in asking for a “short stay of the subpoena’s enforcement.”

    Prosecutors say they could inform the judge by next Tuesday whether they intend to join Trump’s quest to block his longtime accountant from complying with the subpoena, which stems from a criminal probe.

    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said Trump’s challenge doesn’t belong in federal court and he’s asked U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to reject the effort to block the subpoena.

    Marrero will listen to lawyers as they try to persuade him during a hearing Wednesday morning. A ruling may be immediate or come within hours since Trump’s attorneys are seeking emergency relief in the form of a temporary order preventing a turnover of the tax returns while the legal issues are studied in more depth.

    However Marrero rules, his decision is almost certain to be appealed.

    Vance argued in court papers that Trump’s effort to get federal courts to intervene was misplaced since “important separation of powers and federalism concerns prohibit federal litigation of a state court subpoena.”

    Vance and his lawyers said Trump was presenting the “remarkable proposition that a sitting President enjoys not only a blanket immunity from criminal prosecution, but that this blanket immunity also protects a president from having to respond to any routine, lawful grand jury request for information about his conduct or that of his businesses or employees before he took office.”

    University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said the White House strategy was likely aimed at delaying litigation rather than airing out thorny legal issues.

    “The White House has a blanket ‘no’ on everything,” he said. “At some point, they’re not going to be able to stop all of them. I think they’re just trying to run out the clock, get him re-elected.”

  28. says

    Mimi Rocah re #53: “This has Bill Barr written all over it. He is using DOJ to try & protect Trump. Again.”

    Maxine Waters, whose committee is receiving documents from several banks but is still in court trying to get the records from Deutsche Bank, told CNN this morning that there’s more to come on the financial/collusion front.

  29. says

    southpaw: “SDNY is considering getting into the protecting Trump’s tax returns game, and it asks for Vance’s subpoenas to be held up until the office figures out what its arguments are.”

    Link to the filing at the link. Tragic that SDNY is involved in this.

  30. says

    From the G:

    While all eyes are on the newly reconvened Commons, the Labour party’s autumn conference is still underway. Members this morning voted overwhelmingly to give full voting rights to all UK residents, urging the party to extend the franchise to millions of migrants.

    As well as extending voting rights, the motion tabled by the Labour for Free Movement campaign calls on a future Labour government to close all immigration detention centres, ending “no recourse to public funds” policies, and to seeking to extend free movement rights.

    The motion also opposed immigration systems based on a person’s income or “utility to big business” and any caps or targets on the numbers of people moving to the UK.

    The fact that a motion passes at the Labour party’s conference does not necessarily mean it will end up in a future general election manifesto, though it contributes to the policy making process.

    Only British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens are able to vote in general elections, while citizens of EU countries can vote in local elections and European elections. Extending the vote to the three million EU nationals living in the UK would have a significant impact on any second referendum on the UK’s EU membership.

    The motion said Labour should campaign for “free movement, equality and rights for migrants”. It also said:

    Free movement, equality and rights for migrants, are socialist values and benefit us all.

    Confronted with attacks on migrants – from the racist ‘hostile environment’ to the Conservatives’ immigration bill that plans to end free movement and strip the rights of working-class migrants – we stand for solidarity, equality and freedom.

    Scapegoating, ending free movement and attacking migrants’ rights are attacks on all workers. They make migrant workers more precarious and vulnerable to hyperexploitation, pressing down wages and conditions for everyone.

    They divide us, making it harder to unionise and push back.

  31. says

    Joyce White Vance re #53:

    …The Southern District says it may want to assert “that Article II, the Supremacy Clause, and the structure of the Constitution preclude subjecting a sitting President to state criminal process, including grand jury subpoenas directed at the President or his agents.”

    I can’t recall, as a US Atty, trying to block a fellow prosecutor in my state from proceeding with a grand jury investigation. Yes, DOJ policy is that DOJ can’t indict a sitting POTUS. This week DOJ is willing to argue he can’t even be investigated. And now, that they believe the Constitution prohibits a state prosecutor from investigating or indicting a sitting president. If SDNY intervenes, it will be to insure Trump remains above the law & his taxes can’t be reviewed like those of any other citizen under investigation.

    Because this is confusing, Here’s the cliff notes: Trump filed a law suit using his own lawyers to keep Manhattan DA from getting his taxes for use in a criminal investigation. Now DOJ/SDNY says it’s thinking about intervening in the case to argue in Trump’s favor.

  32. says

    Julia Ainsley has read whatever the hell the WH just released and is describing it on air. They also released something from the DoJ on what they investigated re the whistleblower complaint. Both actually sound pretty incriminating!

  33. says


    @RepAdamSchiff just demanded a tranche of documents from the Department of Justice, concerning withholding of whistleblower complaint.

    Importantly, Schiff says this is a demand pursuant to the House’s impeachment inquiry:…”

    Link at the link.

  34. says

    STAGGERING: Transcript [sic] shows Trump urging Ukraine to work with Atty Gen. Barr(!) and Giuliani in pursuit of dirt on political opponents. Bashes US officials. Reveals a president with little concern for American interests, only his own:…”

    WaPo link at the link. Even worse for them than I imagined when I wrote #9 above.

  35. says

    Here it is.

    (Trump is speaking at some garbage thing about Venezuela, and just referred to the “legitimate” (rightwing golpista supported by the US) leadership and after he said “legitimate” he made an obvious face. He was also slurring his words.)

  36. says

    Morning Joe this morning had a graphic of sources of financial support for Ukraine and European sources accounted for about 3X as much as the US provides. I can’t find it online. I think the source was the OECD.

  37. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 63

    Which, I’m sure, Trump and Co. will insist is completely innocent and not at all legal.

  38. says

    From the MEMCOM:

    …The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing,There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.

    President Zelenskyy: …with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.. . . .

    The President: Well, she’ s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have.Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything….

  39. says

    !!! Rep. Matt Gaetz tells @HallieJackson Trump called Republican members of Congress to the White House this morning to give them a look at the Ukraine call memo and get them assembled on talking points”

    He did! I think he might have used the word “laudatory” more than once, so that could be in the talking points. He said he was “thrilled” with the document – looked and sounded like a cult member.

  40. says


    ‘The president will meet the candidate in his office, will sign the letter of appointment and present it to the candidate. The two will then go to the Hall of The President’s Residence where the president and the candidate to form the government will give statements’.”

  41. blf says

    SC@various, I’m not quite sure what Wacko House document / release you cannot find, but the Grauniad has the redacted “transcript” of “the” call, Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president: read the full memorandum:

    A newly released memorandum from the White House shows Trump discussed Joe Biden, Rudy Giuliani and special counsel Robert Mueller in his conversation with the Ukrainian president.

    Trump specifically asked the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to launch an investigation, invoking special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony a day before the call took place.

    Read the full memorandum: [Unclassified memorandum of telephone conversation: “Telephone Conversation with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine”]

  42. says

    blf @ #78, they’re two different things.

    The MEMCON that was released this morning I posted a link to @ #64. (Reporters got it first and were talking about it for several minutes before it became public. I think the WH was hoping for a repeat of the Barr memo circus, but it didn’t play out that way.)

    What I can’t find on the WH site is the official readout they released just after the July 25th call. ABC quotes from it in that recent article (@ #50), but I don’t see it on the WH site.

  43. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s live States blog:

    Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, compared Trump’s comments to the Ukrainian president to “a classic mob shakedown”:

    The transcript [sic] of the call reads like a classic mob shakedown:

    – We do a lot for Ukraine
    – There’s not much reciprocity
    – I have a favor to ask
    – Investigate my opponent
    – My people will be in touch

    Nice country you got there.
    It would be a shame if something happened to her.

  44. says

    Robert Costa: “Several Senate Republicans I’ve spoken with in the last hour are stunned that the WH is releasing this transcript. They do not think it helps the president’s cause. And they expect today’s Senate GOP lunch to be quite the get-together.”

  45. says

    In this piece, legal expert @rgoodlaw tells me House Dems can now subpoena Giuliani and his phone records, because Giuliani held up his cell on Fox News and said it contained evidence that the State Department told him to solicit Ukrainian meddling in our election for Trump:…”

  46. says

    Michael McFaul: “Completely outrageous. Ive known Ambassador Yovanovitch for decades — has a stellar reputation among both Republicans and Democrats. Her colleagues @StateDept need to step up and defend her.”

    And find out what “Well, she’s going to go through some things” meant!

  47. says

    TPM – “Schiff Lambasts Barr, DOJ For Interfering In Whistleblower Complaint”:

    House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) slammed Attorney General Bill Barr and the Department of Justice on Wednesday for helping President Donald Trump cover up a whistleblower’s complaint.

    During a press conference on the Ukraine scandal, Schiff said that Trump invoking Barr in his request for Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden “adds another layer of depravity” to Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.

    The Democratic lawmaker also hit the Justice Department and Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for refusing to hand over the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s call to Congress.

    “Now, I know the attorney general is denying involvement in this, but nonetheless you can see why the Department of Justice would want this transcript never to see the light of day,” Schiff said. “You can see why they have worked so hard to deprive our committee of the whistleblower complaint.”

    He added that the Justice Department’s “startling” opinion “advances the absurd claim that the director of national intelligence has no responsibility over efforts to prevent foreign interference in our elections.”

    “It is a sad fact that the director of national intelligence would agree to be bound by that view, that the director of national intelligence would adopt the view that he had no jurisdiction over an effort to seek foreign interference in our election,” he said.

    Video at the link. Meanwhile, Pete Williams at MSNBC continues to parrot whatever his sketchy sources at the DoJ tell him.

  48. says

    Steve Vladeck:

    The Office of Legal Counsel’s formal explanation for why (Acting) DNI Maguire didn’t (and doesn’t) have a statutory obligation to forward the whistleblower complaint to the congressional intelligence committees is remarkably thin.

    [link to the explanation]

    A mini-#thread on why:

    In a nutshell, OLC’s argument is that, on the merits, the underlying complaint doesn’t satisfy the substantive criteria for an “urgent concern” under the statute.

    The problem is that the statute expressly leaves that call to the Inspector General, and not the (Acting) DNI:…

    Once the IG finds that the report is credible (whether he is right or wrong), the statute imposes a mandatory obligation on the (Acting) DNI to transmit the report and the IG’s findings to the congressional intelligence committees. This language is not remotely ambiguous:…

    OLC’s claim is that the IG’s determination isn’t just voidable, but void, if the (Acting) DNI disagrees on the merits. Not only is there no support in the text for this, but there’s evidence to the contrary; the DNI is allowed to provide “any comments” he “considers appropriate.”

    The text settles this beyond peradventure [“uncertainty or doubt as to whether something is the case” – SC].

    But even if it didn’t, the purpose of the statute is equally clear; it wouldn’t make sense to allow political leaders of the intelligence community to be able to suppress whistleblower complaints that could very well be _about them_.

    All of this is to say, I don’t think the OLC analysis changes anything about the (Acting) DNI’s statutory obligation to transmit the report to the intelligence committees.

    He should comply with the statute. And if the President orders him not to do so, he should resign.

    As I said in the previous iteration, I think the ICIG (or the ADNI) should just go ahead and do it. Then let Trump and Barr know it’s been done.

  49. says

    Pelosi’s shop confirms the White House sent them a copy of their talking points on Trump/Ukraine — and then followed up with a ‘recall’ email”

    It appears they sent their talking points to all of the Senate and House Dems. They sent their anti-impeachment talking points to Nancy Pelosi.

  50. says

    Weird Reuters article told from the perspective of capital but I’ve excerpted the important parts – “Egypt on edge after first anti-Sisi protest for years”:

    Scattered protests in Egypt in the past few days highlight the risk that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi could face broader dissent, driven by grievances over economic austerity and allegations of official corruption.

    Just a few hundred took to the streets in Cairo and other cities last Friday, shouting “Leave, Sisi”, after a series of videos by an activist accusing the government of corruption gained traction online.

    The rare outburst of anger was enough to damage Egypt’s image of stability under Sisi, who took power after removing President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following mass demonstrations against the Islamist leader.

    Authorities have meanwhile rounded up hundreds of suspects. Security forces have stepped up their presence in major cities and have been conducting spot checks of mobile phones for political content.

    Sisi, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, indirectly accused the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of stirring up the protests, saying “political Islam” was to blame.

    Analysts say it won’t be easy to curb dissent without addressing its economic and political causes. Many Egyptians distrust government promises after three years of austerity agreed with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a $12 billion loan.

    Since then, Egypt has introduced valued-added tax, devalued the currency and raised the prices of electricity and fuel.

    The protesters lack leaders, political affiliations and coordination, analysts said. The crowds were spontaneous, making the protests difficult to control.

    “It’s not clear whether protests will escalate or fizzle right now,” said Michele Dunne, director of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But if not this week, protests are likely to return in the coming weeks and months.”

    Several Cairo residents said hardship was driving the protests, and they might join in if they could be sure of safety in numbers.

    “It depends on the size of the protest. If many people join, I might too,” said a driver who gave his name only as Abdallah.

    “If numbers are too small it is too unsafe,” he said before adding: “People are fed up.”

    A 40-year-old engineer who used to support Sisi until austerity started to bite said: “I will take part in Friday’s protests. I’m unhappy with where the country is going.”

    The protests came after videos posted from Spain by Mohamed Ali, a hitherto little-known actor and building contractor, were widely shared online. He accused Sisi and parts of the military of corruption and squandering funds on projects such as new presidential palaces.

    Sisi denied the claims. State media have tried to discredit Ali’s motives, and have broadcast pro-Sisi songs and reports on his achievements, while also warning against destabilisation.

    This has not stopped other dissidents uploading videos discussing the security crackdown, corruption and poverty….

    Here’s Trump at the UNGA dismissing the protests and flattering Sisi.

    And here’s incredible video of human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry inspiring people to resist even as she’s under arrest.

  51. says

    SC @75:

    Does… anyone understand what the Crowdstrike madness is about? They’re a California based company. Why would their forensic images of DNC servers be in Ukraine? What is he even requesting there? Is this just Trump being confused about computer things again?

    It sounds like he’s still hoping Ukraine can somehow help him undermine the consensus that Russia was behind the DNC hack? Or something like that?”

    The whacko conspiracy theory which both Trump and Giuliani are promoting is that Hillary Clinton is somehow responsible for the concept that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and that she is, therefore, responsible for the Mueller investigation, and that she somehow used contacts in Ukraine to smear Paul Manafort and to encourage an investigation of Trump. Trump seems to think that proof of Clinton’s criminal deeds can be found on forensic images of Clinton’s server and of DNC servers, and that the Crowdstrike digital information must be somehow magically preserved (hidden) in Ukraine.

    I’ll look for more info on this, but I think we are just going to get ever-more-elaborate conspiracy theories that don’t really make sense.

  52. says

    Followup to comment 96.

    I forgot to mention that Rudy G. also thinks George Soros was involved.

    In other news: House committee chairmen Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Elijah Cummings, and Eliot Engle issued a joint statement:

    This is a clear breach of trust placed in the President to faithfully execute the laws and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.

    The record of the call released by the White House confirms our worst fears: that the President abused his office by directly and repeatedly asking a foreign country to investigate his political rival and open investigations meant to help the President politically. Not once, not twice, but more than half a dozen times during one telephone call. This was a shakedown. The President of the United States asked for a ‘favor’ after the Ukrainian President expressed his country’s need for weapons to defend against Russian aggression.

    The transcript also shows that the President promised follow-up by Attorney General William Barr or the President’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani at least nine times.

  53. says

    Lynna @ #96, Daniel Dale just posted a bit more about it:

    Some context for the CrowdStrike part of the Trump call: in 2017, Trump told the Associated Press that he’s heard the company is based in Ukraine (though it is based in California) and that it’s owned by a wealthy Ukrainian (though it isn’t).

    “That’s what I heard,” he said.

    Who is the wealthy Ukrainian to whom Trump referred? It isn’t clear, but there is an extreeemely vague conspiracy theory – like a fraction of a theory – about how a Ukrainian businessman donates to the Atlantic Council think tank at which CrowdStrike’s co-founder is a fellow.

    It is possible Trump was being extremely vague about CrowdStrike to Zelensky to speak in innuendo. It’s also possible he’s heard extremely unbaked conspiracy theories about the company floating around Trumpworld and conveyed them extremely vaguely because they’re extremely vague.

    It’s fascinating how all of the Trump scandals manage to be both corrupt and evil and also ridiculous and stupid.

  54. says

    OMG, apparently the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory is also somehow involved with Rudy and Trump’s attempts to get Crowdstrike info from Ukraine. The mind boggles.

    Trump’s Ukraine talking points, (the ones his staff accidentally sent to all the Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi), make the claim that Trump never mentioned military aid during his discussion with Zelensky, so there is “no quid pro quo.” Yeah, about that:

    Zelensky: I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

    Trump : I would like you to do us a favor though …

  55. says

    Followup to comment 96.

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] Crowdstrike is the company that the DNC hired to investigate the break-in to its servers and theft of documents. It’s an American company. Its only connection with Ukraine is that it helped Ukraine by informing it that Russia had also hacked into an app used by the Ukrainian military. Why Trump would ask Zelensky about this requires going down an entire rabbit hole’s worth of conspiracy theories based on bad presumptions and nonexistent connections.

    Donald Trump actually believes that there’s a missing DNC server. And that it’s been hidden in Ukraine. And he believes it so much, he’s telling the president of Ukraine that he’s going to have the United States attorney general call him up to talk about it. Forget impeachment; there’s enough to invoke the 25th Amendment in that single paragraph.

    This White House transcript … it’s all like that. There’s a fresh insult to reason every time Trump opens his mouth. Handing this over is like handing over a confession to murder. Scrawled in mysteriously red “ink.”

    And this is what’s still there, even though the White House has condensed 30 minutes of conversation to just five pages of text, and there seem to be some clearly dangling bits of conversation that may reflect sentences or whole paragraphs that are somewhere on the cutting room floor.


  56. says

    Trump is now in blatant self-pitying wacko mode:

    […] Trump or his staff spent the late hours of Tuesday night tweeting Fox News clip after Fox News clip—more than half a dozen of them.

    He then kicked off Wednesday morning with a bout of self-pitying outrage. “Great new book by the brilliant Andrew McCarthy, BALL OF COLLUSION, THE PLOT TO RIG AN ELECTION AND DESTROY A PRESIDENCY,” he tweeted, in a classic attempt to distract from how he and his foreign allies are the ones plotting to rig elections. “Get it, and some other great new books which I will soon be recommending. They tell you about the Crooked Pols and the Witch Hunt that has now been exposed!” “Other great new books which he will soon be recommending” presumably as soon as Fox News tells him what they are.

    Trump went on “There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have.” Even the ones who were assassinated? “The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear.” Um, this Twitter tantrum brought to us by the fact that the Democrats unfroze. “They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen to another President. Witch Hunt!” Yeah, as soon as there’s a Democratic president Trump will have very different feelings about whether “this” process laid out in the Constitution of the United States of America should be “allowed to happen” to a president. Except to the extent that his election-rigging efforts make him believe he won’t be seeing another Democratic president.

    The desperation is clearly visible in Trump’s bluster. He’s a weak, scared man looking to bully his way out of a problem. […]

    Trump’s Twitter rant is ongoing … and probably will be into infinity.


  57. says

    Trump just said he talked to Pelosi yesterday about guns, but she wasn’t interested. Thus confirming the rumor that he tried to trade gun-control legislation for dropping impeachment.

  58. says

    Andrew Sparrow in the Guardian liveblog:

    Boris Johnson’s opening statement to MPs – Snap verdict and summary

    Earlier, when Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general was under pressure during questions, he retaliated with a blistering, offensive broadside about parliament, dismissing it as “dead” and having “no moral right to sit”. (See 12.21pm.) MPs have a perfect right to sit because they were elected, just two years ago, but no matter. A few hours later Boris Johnson chose exactly the same hyper-aggressive approach. Having been found to have acted unlawfully by the supreme court, some humility might have been expected. But instead Johnson sounded utterly unrepentant, and instead his speech amounted highly-charged, after dinner rant about Labour and the rest of the opposition, who he accused of blocking Brexit.

    Tory MPs loved it. And if the Number 10 strategy at the moment is all about depicting Johnson as a tribune of the Brexit-loving masses, taking on the courts and parliament, perhaps at one point, when the election comes, it will work.

    But what was striking was that this appears to be about the only strategy Johnson has. Today Johnson had absolutely nothing to say about his Brexit negotiating strategy and he had absolutely nothing to say about his strategy for getting legislation through parliament. Jeremy Corbyn said the speech amounted to “10 minutes of bluster”, and he was right. All the Alpha-male belligerent bravado was cover for the fact that the PM seems to be running out of options.

    Here are the main points….

  59. says

    Jedidajah Otte at the G liveblog:

    Hello everyone, I’m taking over from my colleague Andrew Sparrow now.

    Ian Blackford, parliamentary leader of the SNP, is not beating around the bush tonight. “Has he no shame?”, he asked about Boris Johnson in his speech in the Commons a little while ago.

    Blackford said Johnson accuses MPs of running off to the courts, but has no reasonable justification for his actions, and called it “devastating” for a PM to have such judgment. That’s not leadership, he said.

    He added that Johnson’s language was “despicable” and unsuitable for PM, and that he is no longer tenable. Said PM sought to silence parliament and fought the law, but the law won.

    “The opposition must unite to trigger a vote of no confidence to bring this chaotic government down,” Blackford said.

    He reiterated the SNP’s priority is stopping no deal, and that doing nothing is no option anymore. The PM’s “time must be up”, he said.

    Speaker John Bercow reminded Blackford that he must not be calling on the prime minister to “end his lying”. Blackford conceded.

  60. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] for now we have the “transcript”! And holy crap, if this is what Trump was saying was just a very “beautiful” phone call — he called it “perfect” on Twitter this morning — then the full complaint [whistleblower complaint] must be holy shit OMG awful. We are actually shocked that the White House released this without much more of a fight, and it seems like congressional Democrats are too, but that might tell you just how backed into a corner Trump is right now, if they thought releasing this ahead of the full complaint was their best chance to take charge of the story. And they are TRYIN’. First they accidentally sent Democrats “talking points” on the Ukraine call, and they are hilarious. Then they emailed all the Democrats to remind them to “recall” the “talking points” on the Ukraine call. […]


    Shall we put on our spectacles and read together? We shall. America, this is your president talking to a real foreign leader. You may be reminded of the first year of Trump’s presidency, when the transcripts of his calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked and we all LOLed and pointed and laughed, but this is way worse.

    The first thing we notice is that the “transcript” is written in Trump’s mangled version of English, which is probably a requirement for NSC staffers writing memos these days. It features Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy just absolutely licking Trump’s ass, which is believable, because there is not a foreign leader alive who doesn’t know that you get what you want from Trump by licking his ass and flattering him. Zelenskiy even says he wants to “drain the swamp” like a common Trump! Zelenskiy thanks Trump for America’s ongoing support in Ukraine’s fight against Russia, including partnering on defense (the American aid money, which Trump was at that point personally holding up), and also enforcement of sanctions (which Trump haaaaaaates), and right there, President Crime Boss Foreign Agent Chickenshit Dumbfuck Baby saw his opening. […]

    I WOULD LIKE YOU TO DO US A FAVOR THOUGH,” says Trump, who at that moment has Ukraine’s military aid stuffed between his manboobs and would not release it until almost two months hence. […]


    Here, for those of you who can’t read our terrible screenshots:

    TRUMP: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it.

    Donald Trump thinks Ukraine has the DNC server hacked by the Russians in their 2016 campaign to ratfuck the election and hand it to Donald Trump. (They do not.)

    TRUMP: There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. […] I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.

    Oh, cool, he just wants his old rentboy BILL BARR to call Ukraine on the telephone and have them work together to investigate the conspiracy theories Trump believes […]

    TRUMP: As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine.. […]

    “They say.”

    Remember, this call happened a day after Robert Mueller’s testimony, AKA the day Donald Trump probably thought he was now free to go forth and crime a lot, because the Mueller thing was so over, even though the Mueller hearings clearly exposed Trump as a crook and probably a foreign agent. Trump wants Zelenskiy to do investigations into BUT HER EMAILS, wants help discrediting the Robert Mueller investigation, and also wants an investigation into Joe Biden’s son.

    In response, Zelenskiy says oh yes Mister President, we will do all the things, we are best friends, ayup, you betcha, and also mentions that his people have been talking to Rudy Giuliani for some reason. […]

    TRUMP: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved.

    No, they had a prosecutor who was highly corrupt and the entire Western world called for that guy to be fired.

    TRUMP: Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man.


    TRUMP: I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.

    Awesome, Donald Trump is just saying that his batshit personal lawyer and his bootlicking wannabe Roy Cohn attorney general will call the president of Ukraine so they can get together on inventing a fake investigation into Trump’s political opponent Joe Biden in hopes of helping Trump win the election next year. How American of everyone involved!

    TRUMP: There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.


    Zelenskiy responds that sure, he knows exactly the investigation and the company (you know, the one Hunter Biden was on the board of) you are talking about, Mister President, and don’t worry, he’ll have HIS GUYS look into it. And he says if Trump has any info to share on the issue, bring it! […]

    In other words, Zelenskiy doesn’t have anything on Joe or Hunter Biden, but he is hoping that if Trump is making this request that he must have something … anything.

    […] To be clear, there doesn’t even need to be a quid pro quo to impeach Trump over this, because HE’S ASKING A FOREIGN NATION TO INVESTIGATE HIS POLITICAL OPPONENT TO HELP WITH HIS RE-ELECT. No collusion, indeed! But, you know, just for good measure, the quid pro quo is present in the snippet of the summary of the phone call with the Ukrainian president the White House deemed very legal and very cool enough to release.

    Guys? This is the FIRST FULL DAY of the impeachment inquiry, and this is where we already are. Trump has already admitted to these crimes! […]

    The criminal president himself is tweeting out Fox News personalities saying this “transcript” doesn’t explicitly or directly mention a quid pro quo — except for how it does — therefore MUST ACQUIT! This is fucking insane, because again, we already know the whistleblower complaint contains much more, and that it DOESN’T MATTER if there was a direct quid pro quo in this single solitary phone call! Once again for the thousandth time, HE’S ASKING A FOREIGN COUNTRY TO INVESTIGATE A MAN HE THINKS WILL BE HIS GREATEST POLITICAL ADVERSARY IN HIS NEXT ELECTION. And it looks like everybody was on the same page with there being a quid pro quo. It just looks like that was communicated in a variety of ways, without being spelled out on this particular phone call. But the quid pro quo sure was alluded to!

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuck. […]


  61. says

    The Democrats need to not act like imbeciles here. There’s no need to act especially expeditiously in the impeachment probe, much less to limit it to this one episode. Gah. Be smart, get your fucking ducks in a row, and commit to this important task. You won’t get another chance.

  62. says

    SC @110, yes, Trump thinks Hillary Clinton’s emails are in Ukraine. Yes, Trump is so bugnuts whacko that we can’t keep up with the extent of, and the depth of, the nuttiness.

    From Max Boot:

    At least Richard Nixon had the good sense to resist releasing the “smoking gun” tape until finally forced to do so by the Supreme Court. That is because Nixon, the worst criminal to occupy the Oval Office until now, at least had a modicum of moral sense and self-awareness. He knew what he had said was wrong — he was heard plotting to use the CIA to shut down the FBI investigation of Watergate — and he realized that the tape’s release would be devastating to him.

    […] Trump, by contrast, is so clueless — so lacking in even the most basic sense of right and wrong — that he could actually tweet this morning: “Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President? They should, a perfect call — got them by surprise!” […]

    “The United States has been very very good to Ukraine,” Trump tells Zelensky with an undertone of menace. “I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very.good to Ukraine.” Eager to placate Trump, Zelensky thanks him “for your great support in the area of defense.” “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” (The Javelin is an antitank missile.)

    The very next words out of Trump’s mouth are: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” Quid, meet quo. Trump is explicitly tying U.S. military aid to Ukraine to Ukraine’s willingness “to do us a favor.” He then makes clear that the “us” he is referring to is not the United States of America. It is the Trump campaign.

    Trump refers to a ridiculous conspiracy theory that the Democratic National Committee’s email server has somehow wound up in Ukraine and says, “I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.” In other words, Trump is politicizing the U.S. legal system and compromising U.S. national security by demanding that the president of Ukraine cooperate with the Justice Department in a far-fetched attempt to absolve Russia of having hacked the DNC — and Trump of having won in 2016 with Russian help. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible,” he emphasizes. […]

    Trump did no business on behalf of the United States on this call. He did not once mention any desire to root out corruption in Ukraine or achieve any other foreign policy objective. It was all campaign business — dragging a foreign head of state and his own attorney general into his desperate efforts to win reelection and remove any taint from his initial election.

    The TelCon, far from absolving Trump, greatly strengthens the case for impeachment. If this is supposed to be exculpatory, can you imagine what the inculpatory material contained in the whistleblower’s complaint looks like? What’s truly astonishing is that Trump could have thought anything else. The most devastating aspect of this rough transcript is that Trump didn’t realize how devastating it would be for him.

    […] he literally has no idea of what a president is supposed to do — and not do. Recall that Trump’s former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said Trump often made illegal requests. The Trump-Zelensky phone call is Exhibit A.

    Washington Post link

  63. says

    Don’t even know what to say:

    Wow. @BorisJohnson responds to emotional plea by @paulasherriff to stop using perjorative and ‘dangerous’ language like ‘Surrender Act’ (citing memory of Jo Cox and referring to new death threats to MPs), by saying her remarks are mere “Humbug”.
    Total fury on Labour benches.

    Woman after woman after woman after woman has had to stand up tonight and plead with Boris Johnson to moderate his language for their own safety, and he just doubles down every time. What an absolutely hollowed-our human. Narcissism has taken it all.

    “The best way to honour Jo Cox is to get Brexit done”???? Get that name out of your mouth doesn’t begin to cover it. Truly shameful.

    Caroline Lucas:

    The tone of PM’s speech was truly shocking – whipping up hatred, treating parliament with contempt & dividing the country still further.

    This populist rhetoric isn’t only unfitting for the office of PM, but it’s also genuinely, seriously dangerous.

    Words have consequences

    I can barely find the words to express my revulsion at Johnson’s behaviour tonight. Not a hint of humility, no contrition, no apology. Johnson debases our politics, stokes division & undermines our democracy

  64. says

    More from the G liveblog:

    Outrage about the PM’s earlier suggestion that the best way to honour the murdered MP Jo Cox is to get Brexit done is widespread and growing.

    Here Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon:

    “As of tonight, there’s a gaping moral vacuum where the office of Prime Minister used to be. I didn’t know Jo Cox but I’m certain this man is not fit to speak her name.”

    The Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson:

    “This Prime Minister is a disgrace.@paulasherriff made heartfelt plea for him to stop using inflammatory words like ‘surrender’. She pointed at the plaque for murdered MP Jo Cox, and regular death threats MPs face, quoting such language.

    Johnson said ‘humbug’.
    Utter disgrace.”

    And this from Labour’s Jess Phillips:

    “I get death threats and still I stand up, I don’t surrender to fear & aggression. I don’t surrender to lowest common denominator of fear to votes. I don’t surrender to bullies who call me names. It is not I who have surrendered it is Boris Johnson he has surrendered his dignity.”

  65. says

    BuzzFeed – “Teenage Girls Are Leading The Climate Movement — And Getting Attacked For It”:

    On the morning of August 25, 11-year-old Lilly Platt tweeted a video clip of a Brazilian Amazon tribe speaking out against deforestation. Awareness of the Amazon wildfires was already at a fever pitch, and the tweet exploded. Then, within an hour, a swarm of troll accounts started flooding her mentions with porn.

    Shortly after the attack, her mom, Eleanor Platt, made an online plea for help: “Dear Friends of Lilly, this is Lillys mum she is being targeted by revolting trolls who are spamming her feed with pornography. There is only so much i can do to block this. Please if you see these posts report them.” Over the course of the day, some of Lilly’s nearly 10,000 followers did just that.

    Young girls like Lilly, who has been striking in her hometown of Utrecht, Netherlands, every Friday for the last year, are overwhelmingly leading a growing global movement to draw attention to the climate crisis. They spurred an estimated 4 million people across seven continents to walk out of work and school on September 20 — and they are getting attacked for it. They have faced a barrage of daily insults, seemingly coordinated attacks (like the one that targeted Lilly), creepy DMs, doxing, hacked accounts, and death threats. This is the new normal for young climate leaders online, according to BuzzFeed News interviews with nearly a dozen of the kids and their parents.

    Personal attacks have always been a part of the climate denial playbook, even as fossil fuel companies secretly funded campaigns and researchers to question the scientific consensus on climate change. The most famous incident, 2009’s Climategate, involved scientists getting their emails hacked and then facing death threats. And as the politics of climate change begins to mirror the broader dark trends of global politics, weaponized social media — in the form of intimidation, memes, and disinformation — has emerged as the dominant vehicle for climate denial.

    But the rise of a new climate movement means there’s now a much more visible — and especially vulnerable — target: kids.

    The clearest example of this is what’s happening today with climate activism’s biggest star, Greta Thunberg.

    On August 14, as Greta set sail across the Atlantic for a packed trip involving multiple strikes, testimonies to Congress, and the United Nations climate summit in New York, former UK Independence Party funder Arron Banks tweeted that “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August.” Shortly after Greta’s arrival in the US, Maxime Bernier, a Canadian politician associated with extreme far-right groups, wrote: “She should be denounced and attacked.”

    Meanwhile, upward of 5,000 tweets by suspected bots have mentioned Greta, according to an analysis by Bot Sentinel provided to BuzzFeed News.

    But it’s not just Greta. Other young girls in the movement are facing a flood of online abuse. It’s less clear where those attacks are coming from, but they involve a mix of regular accounts, trolls, and bots. While the youngest activists are often shielded from this, due to constant monitoring of their social media by their parents, there’s no filter for many of the teens. Jamie Margolin, a 17-year-old climate activist in Seattle, described how it felt experiencing a recent Twitter swarm: “You start getting so much anxiety.”

    With platforms like Twitter and Instagram sometimes slow to respond or prevent the abuse, other advocates in the climate community are also stepping in to aggressively report and call out accounts that are targeting the kids. To flag problematic profiles, they sometimes use hashtags like #CreepyDeniers, #ClimateBrawl, and #TeamMuskOx, named after the musk ox species that forms a circle around vulnerable members of its herd.

    “The ugly truth is that these girls are subject to the deepest darkest evil side of social media on a daily basis,” Bethany Edwards, mom of 8-year-old climate activist Havana Chapman-Edwards, told BuzzFeed News in an email. Havana, who is black, has gotten racist messages, death threats, and was contacted by one man who the family later discovered was a registered sex offender.

    Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University said she adds someone to her Twitter block list “on average at least once a day, if not more.” For Hayhoe, as the voices of the climate teens grow louder, there is increasingly a target pointed squarely on their backs.

    “They will attack anyone who is perceived as being effective,” she said. “The more effective we are, the greater the attacks.”…

    Much more at the link.

  66. says

    Reuters – “Ukraine president thought only U.S. side of Trump call would be published”:

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday he thought that only U.S. President Donald Trump’s side of their July phone call would be published.

    “I personally think that sometimes such calls between presidents of independent countries should not be published,” Zelenskiy told Ukrainian media in a briefing in New York that was broadcast in Ukraine. “I just thought that they would publish their part.”…

  67. says

    Watching this press conference, it is clear that Trump is not gonna make it through impeachment.

    And I can’t believe he is the Commander in Chief of our troops who are currently in harms way.

    Just imagine him in the Situation Room weighing complicated national security issues. His instincts are driven by personal ego and conspiracy theories. No sense of duty or right and wrong.”

  68. says

    Walter Shaub:

    At today’s hearing on the Old Post Office, GSA offered a solution right out of the film Office Space. GSA was faulted for failing to enforce a contract provision. Its solution? It’ll stop using that provision, turning dereliction of duty in one case into dereliction in all cases.

    The agency failed to enforce a provision barring elected officials like President Trump from benefiting from the lease. Now it’s going to change the language to bar members of Congress from benefiting from the lease. Presto-chango, problem solved. Emoluments shmoluments.

    GSA’s Inspector General revealed that GSA officials decided to ignore emoluments issues. They told the IG “those issues were for the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) or the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).” Guess who was running OGE? My phone didn’t ring.

    Here’s an except from the oath these GSA officials took long before they decided to ignore the Constitution:

    “I . . . do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Seems like that oath ought to mean something.

    The shocker of the hearing was when a Representative said the Contracting Officer who let Trump keep the lease—this impartial arbiter, this guardian of the public’s interest—asked Ivanka Trump if she wanted to get coffee when he was visiting NYC. I call that “agency capture.”

    Some GSA officials were surely cowed by the incoming admin—whose leader and allies attack anyone shining a light on their misconduct—others probably didn’t want their work on the lease undone. But this Contractor Officer seems like a lowly functionary with stars in his eyes. Sad.

  69. says

    Andrew Desiderio:

    SCHIFF after reading whistleblower complaint:

    “I found the allegations deeply disturbing. I also found them very credible. I can understand why the IG found them credible …The complaint was very well written and certainly provides information for the committee to follow up…”

    Schiff, continued: “It is an urgent matter. And there was simply no basis to keep this from the committee. The idea that DOJ would have intervened to prevent it from getting to Congress throws the leadership of that department further into ill-repute.”

  70. blf says

    In teh NKofEStates, US phone call raises further questions over grant to Boris Johnson’s friend:

    The government’s claim that it properly verified the basis of a £100,000 grant to a company founded by a friend of Boris Johnson appears to be unravelling amid continuing questions about the prime minister’s role.

    After a minister said that necessary checks on the firm to ensure it was UK-based involved verifying it had a British phone number, the Guardian called the number and got through to a US-based member of staff who would not confirm her exact location.

    The development came after opposition MPs raised questions in the Commons about how a grant aimed at fostering UK talent in cyber-skills was awarded this year to a company run by Jennifer Arcuri, a US technology entrepreneur and friend of Johnson’s who is now based in California, despite appearing to fail to meet government criteria.

    The new digital minister, Matt Warman, insisted that his department had done the usual due diligence on the company, Hacker House, but confirmed a review into how the money had been granted.

    Warman said: This is a company that is based in Britain as far as Companies House is concerned. It is a company with a British phone number. We will review that, but we have no reason to think that there is anything untoward in this particular matter.

    My own experiences with NKofE officialdom due diligence is tht as long as some random forms with a few boxes checked and an illegible signature is eventually filed, everything is Ok. The “filing” can be done by trying a parchment to dead badger and throwing it through the window.

    When the Guardian called Hacker House’s UK number it got through to a recorded message with a US accent that said: “Thank you for calling Hacker House, the receptionist will be right with you.”

    A woman with a US accent then answered the call, but would not give her location other than saying that it was somewhere in the US. She added: “I don’t have a specific location information to provide. I’m in an offsite location. I’m not allowed to release that type of information. I’m in the United States.”

    It has also emerged that in 2016 Arcuri admitted that Hacker House employed the hacker Lauri Love, who is wanted by the US authorities for breaking into US websites.


    According to LinkedIn, only four of the 11 employees recorded on the site are located in the UK, and one of them is Arcuri, who moved to the US last year.

    As an aside, I once worked for a small firm which had just two members of staff located in teh NKofE; the remaining twenty or so (including myself) were in another European county. We did not call ourselves a NKofE-based company.

    The Sunday Times, which broke the story, said it had found the registered address on the grant application form was a rented house in the UK and no longer connected to her.

    The Lib Dem MP Layla Moran […] also pointed out that the £100,000 grant exceeded 50% of the company’s income and thus broke one of the criteria for the scheme. She asked: “Why did officials waive the rule that the grant could not exceed 50% of the company’s collective income?”


    Len Duvall, the chair of the Greater London assembly oversight committee, has written to Johnson requesting details and a timeline of all contact with Arcuri during his time in office, demanding a response within a fortnight.

    Johnson’s successor as mayor, Sadiq Khan, has ordered an inquiry into the alleged conflict of interest, asking the London fire brigade general counsel, Kathryn Robinson, to report back on the issue.

  71. says

    OMGOMGOMG – Wajahat Ali:

    Allow me to interrupt the chaos with joyous news: Nusayba has a new liver in her belly! She underwent liver surgery yesterday thanks to an anonymous live donor. Both her & the donor are recovering nicely. She woke up today, recognized us, said a few words & is now sleeping.

    We waited to share the good news until the donor was confirmed, the surgery was completed and she woke up after the first night, usually the most critical post-surgery stage. We’re in the hospital now and she has to be here to recover for a week or two (or less we hope!)

    I fortuitously encountered the donor’s family at the hospital. They want to be anonymous for now. They just wanted to do a good deed for a baby girl. One of the donor’s first questions after waking up was, “When can I donate blood again?”

    I told the donor’s family my life belongs to them and begged them to tell me how I can repay them. They just said to pray for the donor, their family member, and they wanted Nusayba to live a long, healthy life. There’s still much goodness in the world. Don’t lose hope, ever.

    Thank you to everyone who has helped my family during this ordeal. There were over 500 donor applicants, mostly strangers. (Amazing!!!) People donated money, sent beautiful messages and texts and check up on Nusayba almost daily.

    I hope no child ever has to endure cancer. It’s a brutal son of a bitch that plays for all the marbles and disrupts families, finances & relationships. Nusayba still has a ways to go, but we take it step by step. She just crossed MAJOR hurdles. We remain eternally grateful.

    I believe in God and accept all thoughts and prayers, but I also believe in science. If it wasn’t for the Georgetown Transplant team, Children’s Hospital, the living donor program and research on child cancer, Nusayba wouldn’t have made it. God is indeed Great.

    Please consider being a living donor. You can give a piece of your liver (It grows back!) or a kidney (You only need 1!) & save a life. You can also donate blood & bone marrow. You can donate money instead of body parts if you’re so inclined to cancer or transplant research.

    With $2 to 10 million, Georgetown can expand their living donor program. It’s nothing when you think about similar programs across the nation. If you’re one of those donors, really consider investing in this. It can & will save so many families.

    My wife Sarah, a superstar, has given up her work and basically been by Nusayba’s side since April. She says, “To all who applied as donors, it’s as if you gave a piece of your liver to Nusayba. The act alone means the world to us.”

    Our son Ibrahim has been the sweetest, most thoughtful older brother. Nusayba has a second chance at life thanks to this donor. This bunny was used to show her what she’d look like after the transplant but she’s much cuter. She’s alive & recovering. My life is complete.

    So wonderful.

  72. says

    UPDATE – Wajahat Ali:

    Allow me to interrupt the chaos with joyous news: Nusayba has a new liver in her belly! She underwent liver surgery yesterday thanks to an anonymous live donor. Both her & the donor are recovering nicely. She woke up today, recognized us, said a few words & is now sleeping.

    We waited to share the good news until the donor was confirmed, the surgery was completed and she woke up after the first night, usually the most critical post-surgery stage. We’re in the hospital now and she has to be here to recover for a week or two (or less we hope!)

    I fortuitously encountered the donor’s family at the hospital. They want to be anonymous for now. They just wanted to do a good deed for a baby girl. One of the donor’s first questions after waking up was, “When can I donate blood again?”

    I told the donor’s family my life belongs to them and begged them to tell me how I can repay them. They just said to pray for the donor, their family member, and they wanted Nusayba to live a long, healthy life. There’s still much goodness in the world. Don’t lose hope, ever.

    Thank you to everyone who has helped my family during this ordeal. There were over 500 donor applicants, mostly strangers. (Amazing!!!) People donated money, sent beautiful messages and texts and check up on Nusayba almost daily.

    I hope no child ever has to endure cancer. It’s a brutal son of a b*tch that plays for all the marbles and disrupts families, finances & relationships. Nusayba still has a ways to go, but we take it step by step. She just crossed MAJOR hurdles. We remain eternally grateful.

    I believe in God and accept all thoughts and prayers, but I also believe in science. If it wasn’t for the Georgetown Transplant team, Children’s Hospital, the living donor program and research on child cancer, Nusayba wouldn’t have made it. God is indeed Great.

    Please consider being a living donor. You can give a piece of your liver (It grows back!) or a kidney (You only need 1!) & save a life. You can also donate blood & bone marrow. You can donate money instead of body parts if you’re so inclined to cancer or transplant research.

    With $2 to 10 million, Georgetown can expand their living donor program. It’s nothing when you think about similar programs across the nation. If you’re one of those donors, really consider investing in this. It can & will save so many families.

    My wife Sarah, a superstar, has given up her work and basically been by Nusayba’s side since April. She says, “To all who applied as donors, it’s as if you gave a piece of your liver to Nusayba. The act alone means the world to us.”

    Our son Ibrahim has been the sweetest, most thoughtful older brother. Nusayba has a second chance at life thanks to this donor. This bunny was used to show her what she’d look like after the transplant but she’s much cuter. She’s alive & recovering. My life is complete.

    So wonderful.

  73. says

    ABC – “Ukrainians understood Biden probe was condition for Trump-Zelenskiy phone call: Ukrainian adviser”:

    When Ukrainians voted to elect comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as their next president in the spring of 2019, the fledgling administration was eager to coordinate a phone call with Kyiv’s most important benefactor — the United States, according to an adviser to Zelenskiy.

    But after weeks of discussions with American officials, Ukrainian officials came to recognize a precondition to any executive correspondence, the adviser said.

    “It was clear that [President Donald] Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an anti-corruption advocate and former member of Ukraine’s Parliament, who now acts as an adviser to Zelenskiy. “This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”

    The Trump administration’s alleged insistence that the two leaders discuss a prospective investigation into Biden, one of the president’s political opponents, casts his July 25 conversation with Zelenskiy in a new light.

    The source of the proposed investigation was Shokin’s successor as prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, who fed the idea to Giuliani and has spoken about it publicly before he was removed from his post this summer.

    Leshchenko and another former senior Ukrainian law enforcement official said they believe that Lutsenko invented the investigations that Giuliani pushed as part of an effort to keep his job.

    In early 2019, Lutsenko’s position as prosecutor general was under threat after Zelenskiy — who was then heavily ahead in the polls — promised to remove him if elected president. Leshchenko and the other official said Lutsenko had then sought out Giuliani in a desperate bid to try to enlist the Trump administration in the hope it would somehow protect him.

    “We understood that he was just trying to protect his position in the new administration using this scandal,” Leshchenko said. “And he put Ukraine on this battlefield.”

    Leshchenko and other Ukrainian officials said that as far as they were aware no investigation was ever opened into Biden. They said that if the Trump administration suspected that Biden and his son had broken the law, then U.S. authorities should submit a formal request that Ukraine investigate through the usual channels.

    “If there will be a request from the American side, we’ll look at it,” Anton Gerashchenko, who was appointed Ukraine’s deputy interior minister on Wednesday, told ABC News. He said that as far as he was aware no formal request had ever been made.

    Leshchenko himself was attacked by Lutsenko and Giuliani, who alleged he had played a role in the origins of the Russia investigation into Trump that Giuliani has claimed were sown in Ukraine by Democrats and their allies there.

    In 2016, Leshchenko helped publish parts of a secret accounts books detailing alleged illegal payments made by the party of Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s name was included next to payments in the accounts, The New York Times reported, after which he stepped down as campaign manager.

    Over two years later, Giuliani and Lutsenko alleged that Leshchenko acted unlawfully in helping publish the parts of the ledgers involving Manafort, and while Lutsenko was still prosecutor general, a court in Kyiv in December convicted Leshchenko of illegally harming the interests of Ukraine. Leshchenko appealed that judgment, however, and in May a court in Kyiv cleared him of any wrongdoing and ordered he be paid compensation, he said.

    The saga with Giuliani, Leshchenko said, had placed Ukraine in a very difficult position. The the key thing now was for Zelenskiy’s administration to remain neutral and not appear to take sides either with the Democrats or Republicans, he said.

    “The best way for Ukraine is to be neutral,” he said. “Ukraine has done nothing wrong.”

    OK, remember in 2017 when hacked texts of Manafort’s daughter surfaced, appearing to suggest he’d been blackmailed? And – you’ll be shocked to learn – it was reported on in Politico under the headline “Manafort faced blackmail attempt, hacks suggest” by one Ken Fucking Vogel? Who suggested that the alleged blackmailer in question was…Leshchenko?

    “Considering all the facts and evidence that are in my possession, and before possible decision whether to pass this to [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] or FBI I would like to get your opinion on this and maybe your way to work things out that will persuade me to do otherwise,” reads the note. It is signed “Sergii” — an alternative transliteration of Leshchenko’s given name — and it urges Manafort to respond to an email address that reporters have used to reach Leshchenko.

    In the typo-ridden text to Manafort’s daughter to which the note was attached, the sender writes from a different address, “I need to get in touch with Paul i need to share some important information with him regarding ukraine investigation.” The sender adds “as soon as he comes back to me i will pass you documents,” but also warns: “if I don’t get any reply from you iam gonaa pass it on to the fbi and ukrainian authorities including media.”

    Leshchenko disavowed the texts in question, telling POLITICO on Tuesday “I’ve never written any emails or messages to … Manafort or his family. I don’t know their contact details.” He added he said “I have nothing to do with” the email address from which the texts were sent.

    And in a Facebook post, he wrote that the “correspondence with Manafort’s daughter is obviously fake.”

    In a Tuesday interview, Manafort denied brokering a 2012 meeting between Trump and Tulub and also pointied out that he wasn’t working for Trump at the time.

    However, Manafort did confirm the authenticity of the texts hacked from his daughter’s phone. And he added that, before the texts were sent to his daughter, he had received similar texts to his own phone number from the same address appearing to be affiliated with Leshchenko.

    He said he did not respond directly to any of the texts, and instead passed them along to his lawyer. He declined to provide the texts to POLITICO.

    Nothing about this story rang true to me at the time, and it seemed to be an obvious attempt to smear Leshchenko. It’s all plainly a Kremlin/Ukrainian puppet/Manafort/Trump/Giuliani scam that continues to this day, with Vogel’s help.

  74. blf says

    John Crace in the Gruniad, Incredible Sulk’s anger is compounded by ranting of Geoffrey Cox:

    Just hours after he had been deported a day early from the US, Boris Johnson found himself back in the Commons to give a statement on the supreme court’s judgment. One that he had never wanted or expected to give.

    The Incredible Sulk came out angry. Sulk shouty. Sulk guilty. There was no contrition. No humility. A normal person would have ’fessed up and resigned. But this was the speech of a serial offender — the narcissistic sociopath — who couldn’t believe he’d been caught red-handed yet again. I done nothing, sulked Sulk. He had been fitted up. The supreme court had got it wrong. Technically he was innocent. The electronic tag fitted by Lady Hale the previous day proved otherwise.

    Lie followed lie. Lying is one of the only things Boris can be trusted to do. The prorogation had been perfectly normal. The Brexit negotiations were well advanced. Everything was going splendidly. The real problem wasn’t him. It was everyone else in Westminster. So give him an election and allow him to break his word on avoiding no deal.


    The Tory benches […] know they’ve made a mistake. Worse, they know they are complicit. They and Johnson are parasitic, their survival dependent on the other. But what neither realises is that they are in a death spiral, draining each other’s lifeblood. The eyes are already dead, their bodies hollowed-out shells.

    This wasn’t even their nadir. That came when Johnson said, humbug in response to Labour’s Paula Sherriff mentioning the death of Jo Cox. An insult compounded by him insisting the only way to honour her memory was to deliver his Brexit. As if the reward for getting his way was that women would not be murdered. It was one of the most shameful episodes the Commons has witnessed in years. If Tory MPs had an ounce of integrity and self-worth they would force him to resign within hours. If.


    Little more than a year ago, Geoffrey Cox had been just another MP with a crazy dream. But then he had won Westminster’s Got Talent — exclusively available on Hacker House TV, just dial 0800 and get a recorded message redirecting you to a woman in Florida [see @142] — and had become its leading actor. The man with the golden voice. A shining beacon of intelligence in a cabinet of low voltage mediocrities. Today he blew it. A Star has Died.

    [Attorney General] Cox began by channelling his inner Ibsen in An Enemy of the People. The supreme court had ruled and the government would abide by its decision. The outcome hadn’t been as he and other members of the legal team had hoped and it was a matter of deep, deep personal regret that he found himself unable to disclose what his own advice had been.

    No one is suggesting for a moment that the supreme court has staged a constitutional coup, he declared, happy to make a passive-aggressive attack on Jacob Rees-Mogg, who had done just that 24 hours previously. Just for the fun of it. Shares in the leader in the house have steadily tumbled since he’s been elevated to the cabinet. Rees-Mogg shuffled awkwardly on the frontbench. Where was nanny when you needed her?

    So far, so good. But then Cox spoiled it all by insisting the government had at all times acted in good faith. Not even the dopiest Tory backbenchers believed that. As if trying to cover up this schoolboy error, Cox then went full-on space cadet. […]

    The arms started flailing and spit dribbled from his lips as the hallucinations became ever more intense. Then he went into spasms and rolled on the floor. The spiders, the spiders! They were everywhere, crawling up the walls. [Poopyhead does house calls… –blf] The hollow laughs of 11 Lady Hales echoed in his head. Parliament was a dead parliament. An ex-parliament with no moral right to sit. The government couldn’t govern. Several MPs gently tried to talk him down by explaining the reason it couldn’t govern was entirely the government’s own fault for shedding 21 of its own MPs.

    No luck. One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small. And the ones that Boris give you don’t do anything at all. Parliament was just a waste of space. No one gave a shit about the domestic violence bill that could now be debated. Or about the Thomas Cook collapse. Hell, if you were poor enough to go on a package holiday then you deserved everything you got. Suckers. And why would anyone want to talk about Brexit?


    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “Boris Johnson says best way to honour Jo Cox is to deliver Brexit
    And the best way to honour Nelson Mandela is to reinstate apartheid on South Africa.”

    ● “Brexit is all about the Uk Parliament and judiciary being sacrosanct…Unless they don’t do as you want….
    Then you turn into Robert Mugabe.”

    ● “That was a night I’d really like to erase from my memory. Johnson has tarnished everything. Disgusting man leading a disgusting party. Damn them all.”
    (In reply) “Anyone any good at voodoo? […]”

    ● “The father of lies couldn’t handle a few expat boos in Luxembourg but has no problem using appalling, inflammatory language in parliament. He’s a disgrace. So are the cabinet, sitting smugly beside him.”

    ● “It’s a shame that Johnson was repatriated. And apparently at great expense, courtesy of the RAF.”

    ● “If it’s true that ‘those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad,’ Johnson and the Tories had best be on notice because they’ve gone absolutely barking, barmy, batshit bonkers.”

  75. says

    Chuck Schumer: ‘Having read the whistleblower complaint, I am even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky … The contents of the complaint should be made public immediately’.”

  76. says

    The highest billing, after Mr Johnson, at Ms Arcuri’s InnoTech summits at the Grand Connaught Rooms, went to Milo Yiannopoulos, who was at the centre of the London tech scenework before leaving to work for Steve Bannon’s rightwing news site, Breitbart.”

    Carole Cadwalladr: “Milo & Jennifer were close. And Johnson & Jennifer were close. And Bannon & Milo were close. And Johnson & Bannon were..chatting. The tech-alt-right-opportunist circle wank reaches its logical conclusion.”

  77. blf says

    All teh besting dalekocrazies, Trump’s Wildlife Service pick has ties to anti-animal protection groups:

    Aurelia Skipwith, nominee to lead US Fish and Wildlife Service, linked to groups opposed to protections for endangered species

    Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the US Fish and Wildlife Service has links to powerful agricultural interests opposed to protections for endangered species she would oversee, the Guardian has learned.

    Aurelia Skipwith, who is already a top official at the interior department, formerly worked at the agrochemical giant Monsanto.

    New revelations show she also has ties to the Westlands Water District, a political powerhouse with a history of chafing against Endangered Species Act regulations that can interfere with farmers’ demands for water in California.

    Yet a Senate committee approved Skipwith’s nomination Wednesday in a party-line vote of 11–10.

    Jayson O’Neill, the deputy director of Western Values Project, a public lands watchdog group based in Montana, claimed that Skipwith’s resumé — she is a lawyer with a master’s degree in genetics — shows she is unqualified. He said David Bernhardt, Trump’s interior secretary, is hiring her for her “deep ties to the swamp and special interests”.


    The interior department is currently working to loosen protections for imperiled fish in California, which would be a boon to Westlands and other irrigators who want to pull more water out of regional rivers and reservoirs. The rollback would likely harm endangered salmon, delta smelt, and other aquatic species in California.

    As the director of the FWS, Skipwith would be crucially placed to shape the outcome of those efforts.


    Her fiance, Leo Giacometto, is also mixed up in all this…

  78. says

    The intelligence officer who filed a whistleblower complaint about Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine raised alarms not only about what the phone call, but also about how the White House handled records of the conversation.”

    “The whistleblower identified multiple White House officials as witnesses who could corroborate the complaint. White House officials expressed concern that Trump had ‘abused his authority or acted unlawfully in connection with foreign diplomacy’.”

    NYT link at the link.

  79. KG says

    So maybe Zelenskiy should publish his own transcript of the conversations? – johnson catman@129

    Zelenskiy’s priority has to be the interests of Ukraine. He can’t afford to make an enemy of Trump, who might just tell his good friend Vladimir to go ahead with a full-scale invasion any time he wants. (Of course, he may already have done so, I’m not sure Putin would actually risk this, given the parlous state of the Russian armed forces and economy.)

  80. says

    ADNI Maguire will testify in an open hearing before House Intel at 9 AM ET. Will be on C-SPAN3 and, well, everywhere.

    He’ll then testify in closed session before Senate Intel at 11.

    ICIG Atkinson will then testify in closed session before Senate Intel.

    The whistleblower complaint should be publicly released at any moment – I assume it’ll be prior to the 9 AM hearing.

  81. says

    Kate Brannen:

    What was alarming about how the White House handled the record of the conversation?

    According to a person familiar with the content of the complaint, it has to do with how the record was stored.

    When the call was over, senior White House officials pulled the verbatim transcript out of the system that it is traditionally stored in and put it into a separate system reserved for extremely sensitive/highly compartmented programs.

    The call had nothing to do with highly classified programs, but by moving it into this separate system, the White House could control who could see the transcript: only a very small group of people.

  82. says

    WTF?: “Setting record straight: @Leshchenkos confirmed to me what those of us in Kyiv already knew—he is NOT currently an advisor to Ukraine’s Zelenskiy & wasn’t at time of July 25 call. He said he DID NOT tell ABC insistence for leaders to discuss Biden probe was precondition for call.”

    From Leshchenko’s WaPo oped five days ago (thanks again, tomh):

    …Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Manafort revelations would become fodder for the U.S. elections in 2020. President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mouthpiece of this campaign, is not only attempting to rehabilitate Manafort but is also working to undermine U.S. relations with Ukraine, which has been confronting Russian aggression on its own for more than five years. Giuliani and his associates are trying to drag our newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into a conflict between two foreign political parties, drastically limiting Ukraine’s room for maneuver in respect to the United States, perhaps its most important international partner.

    Giuliani attempted to visit Ukraine in May 2019 with the express purpose of involving Zelensky in this process. His aim was quite clear: He was planning to ask Zelensky to intervene in an American election on the side of Trump.

    Zelensky refused, forcing Giuliani to cancel his trip. Shortly after that, Giuliani went on Fox News, where he called me “[an enemy] of the president [and] of the United States.” This accusation had a devastating effect on my political career. I had been helping Zelenksy’s team since January — but now Giuliani’s smear cost me a job in the new administration. Not wanting to create problems for Zelensky, I withdrew from consideration.

    I know that leaders of the three U.S. congressional committees that are now investigating the whistleblower case have asked the White House and the State Department to share all correspondence regarding the people involved in this story, including me. As a person who has had direct experience of many of these events, I express my readiness to testify to the U.S. Congress about what has been happening for the past six months in the gray zone of Ukrainian-American relations.

    Christopher Miller’s tweet above, even if he’s right on some minor details, seems designed to completely undercut ABC’s report, which contains direct quotes from Leshchenko and is consistent with his publicly expressed beliefs.

  83. says

    The whistleblower complaint has been released.

    Adam Schiff: “This complaint should never have been withheld, and it provides a roadmap for our investigation.

    We will do everything we can to protect this courageous whistleblower.

    The public has a right to see the complaint and what it reveals.

    Read it here:…”

    At the link.

  84. says

    Natasha Bertrand:

    Woah. White House officials told the WB “this was ‘not the first time’ under this admin that a presidential transcript was placed into this code-word level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive—rather than national security sensitive—information.”

  85. says

    Maguire’s rationale doesn’t hold up. He totally supported Atkinson’s decision to let the committees know of the existence of the complaint…which he’d been happy to let Trump and the DoJ bury had Atkinson not stood up. He did pursue it…by turning it over to Barr, who’s named in the complaint, to bury.

  86. says

    His claim that it would be “prudent” – he’s repeated the term several times – to go to two people implicated in the complaint rather than following the plain language of the statute is…not convincing.

  87. says

    Maguire is basically agreeing with Rep. Sewell that what’s happened here – in other words, including his own actions – could have a chilling effect on other potential whistleblowers.

  88. says

    Maguire wouldn’t answer the question about whether he’s discussed this complaint with Trump (seems he has).

    Executive privilege, even assuming it applies, would not prohibit him from saying whether or not he had a conversation with the president about the complaint – only the contents of that conversation.”

    This kind of thing gets my hackles up. So many people, even those insisting on their personal integrity, go out of their way to hide his misbehavior from congress and the public: going along with bogus asserted privileges, asserting privileges on his behalf, expanding what’s covered under the privileges. There is nothing stopping him from answering that question other than cowardice.

  89. says

    The complaint,citing multiple US officials, alleges that White House lawyers have been stuffing politically troubling records of presidential calls into highly classified storage to hide them from scrutiny throughout Trump’s presidency. This just got much bigger.”

    So naturally Maguire thought it prudent to ask them for their advice on whether he should turn the complaint over to the committees.

    He seems to be suggesting that he wasn’t not turning it over – it was just being delayed as privilege issues were honestly and expeditiously worked out by WH lawyers. (“I felt that they were doing the best that they could, and it took longer than I would have liked.”) And he was treating it seriously by handing it over to Barr’s DoJ. This guy is the fucking DNI.

  90. says

    Office of Legal Counsel’s memo argued that the whistleblower complaint didn’t have to be released to Congress b/c it didn’t allege abuse of intelligence processes. That’s demonstrably false: It alleges a pattern of WH using NSC computer systems to hide politically damaging facts.”

    Also describes how the president made himself vulnerable to foreign blackmail. The whole bit about this not being in his remit so he doesn’t have to turn it over is just another example of #175. The whistleblower is an intelligence officer. What other system did they have to go through?

  91. says

    Swalwell’s doing a good job. He’s gotten Maguire to admit to the point quoted in #177, and Maguire is now falling back on the “it’s just an allegation” – but that’s the whole point!

  92. says

    The point about it not being (disputably) about a member of the intelligence community has nothing whatsoever to do with the determination of whether it’s a matter of urgent concern. He didn’t have a good answer for Castro. Castro’s right – you can’t just keep saying that it’s unprecedented and use that as a shield to hide every decision behind.

  93. says

    Kyle Griffin:

    Quigley: “To your knowledge, does [Giuliani] have security clearance?”
    Maguire: “I don’t know.”

    Q: What’s your understanding Giuliani’s role?
    Maguire: “My only knowledge of what Mr. Giuliani does … I get from TV & news media. I am not aware of what he does for the President.”

  94. says

    Also contradictory: it’s totally fine for me to have taken this to Trump and Barr even though they’re subjects of the complaint because it’s just an allegation; also, it was referred to the DoJ/FBI for criminal investigation.

  95. says

    Asked whether he’d discussed the whistleblower complaint with Coats before starting in the job, Maguire laughs and says he wouldn’t have taken the job if he’d known about it. Doesn’t believe Coats or Gordon knew anything about it.

  96. says

    Adam Schiff is very disappointed.

    (I don’t mean to make light of what he’s saying – it couldn’t be more serious. But his kindly “I expected better of you” manner is like a dagger.)

  97. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I am surprised that the Dems have not brought more to the fore the use of the code-word level server as an archive of politically sensitive Presidential conversations. That, in and of itself, justifies the WB complaint, regardless of questions of chain of command in the IC. That is a critical point and has not been emphasized sufficiently. The fact that this seems to be routine practice in this WH raises even more concerns.

    Perhaps the most disturbing things to me about this whole episode are:
    1) It demonstrates just how epistemologically closed off the Republicans are–not just Darth Cheeto, but the entire party. They do not simply embrace the talking points of Faux News, Rush and other RW nutjobs as politically convenient bludgeons for the opposition. They truly believe them and find it astounding that the rest of us do not. This is their reality.
    2) It shows that Republicans learned absolutely nothing from Watergate, and that they still see nothing wrong with weaponizing the apparatus of the nation against opponents of the President. They equate the enemies of the President with enemies of the state—still!
    3) Fully 72% of the US populace doesn’t comprehend the threat such an imperial presidency poses to the democratic process.

  98. says

    LA Times – “Trump at private breakfast: ‘Who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy’”:

    President Trump expressed disgust Thursday morning with the explosive whistleblower complaint, slamming the intelligence officer and the White House aides who helped him or her as “almost a spy” and suggested it was treason.

    Speaking at a private breakfast in New York, Trump described reporters as “scum” and raged at the Democrats’ new impeachment proceedings, which were spurred by the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine’s leader to interfere in the 2020 election.

    The still-unidentified whistleblower acknowledged that he did not listen to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, but cited information from more than half a dozen U.S. officials over the past four months as part of “official interagency business.”

    “Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said.

    “I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

    Trump spoke at a private event at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York City where the president thanked the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, and her staff as he wound up four days of meetings around the U.N. General Assembly.

    A person attending the event provided the Los Angeles Times with a recording of the president’s remarks.

    In his remarks, Trump cited his awkward meeting with Zelensky on Wednesday where both leaders were asked about the implicit quid pro quo detailed in the call summary and whistle blower complaint.

    “They said, ‘Was he pressuring you?’” Trump said, describing the question to Zalensky, who responded that he hadn’t felt any “push” but also said he didn’t want to get involved in a U.S. political squabble.

    “You know, these animals in the press,” Trump went on. “They’re animals, some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.”

    Someone in the room shouted out “Fake news!,” egging the president on.

    “They’re scum,” Trump continued. “Many of them are scum, and then you have some good reporters, but not many of them, I’ll be honest with you.”

    He then accused Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who met with Zalensky in Kyiv this month, of pressuring the Ukrainian leader to accuse Trump of improper behavior.

    “Democratic senators went over there and strong-armed the guy,” Trump said, affecting Murphy’s voice for a moment. “‘You better damn well do this or you’re not going to get any money from Congress.’ Oh, I see, that’s OK?”

    “And then you have Sleepy Joe Biden who’s dumb as a rock,” Trump went on. “This guy was dumb on his best day and he’s not having his best day right now. He’s dumb as a rock. So you have Sleepy Joe and his kid,…”

  99. tomh says

    Income inequality in America is the highest it’s been since census started tracking it, data shows
    In the midst of the nation’s longest economic expansion, the separation between rich and poor is at a five-decade high

    Last year, income inequality in the United States reached its highest level since the Census Bureau started tracking it in 1967, according to federal data released Thursday.

    In the midst of the longest economic expansion the United States has ever seen, with poverty and unemployment rates at historic lows, the separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been, federal data show.

    Nine states saw spikes in that divide: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia.

    More at the link.

  100. says

    Brian Schwartz, CNBC:

    NEW: Wall Street donors are privately warning: We’ll sit out, or back Trump, if you nominate Elizabeth Warren. “You’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help Trump,’” an executive said.

    How depraved you’d have to be to be saying that this week.

  101. says

    Adam Schiff:

    The President’s suggestion that those involved in the whisteblower complaint should be dealt with as “we used to do” for “spies and treason” is a reprehensible invitation to violence against witnesses in our investigation.

    All Americans must denounce such witness intimidation.

  102. says

    SC @202, Yes, we know Trump lied when he said that the USA was the top donor to Ukraine. Thanks for posting the link to the numbers. EU institutions 425.2 million, USA 204 million.

    Did you notice that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire also repeated that lie when he was questioned by Congress members today? Maguire did not lie as blatantly as Trump, but he did indicate that he thought other countries should step up and pay more of the expenses when it comes to helping Ukraine. That’s a Trump line/lie.

  103. says

    About Mike Pence:

    [Trump said] “I think you should ask for VP Pence’s conversation because he had a couple conversations also. I can save you a lot of time. They’re all perfect. Nothing was mentioned of any import other than congratulations.

    “But the word is that they’re going to ask for the first phone conversation. You can have it anytime you need it. And also Mike Pence’s conversations, which were, I think, one or two of them. They were perfect. They were all perfect.”

    The reference to “the first phone conversation” was apparently Trump pointing to a conversation with the Ukrainian leader in April, which may itself be controversial.

    […] The vice president recently met with Zelensky in Poland, and according to the official transcript, a reporter asked Pence whether his discussion with the Ukrainian leader focused at all on Joe Biden. Pence said no, though he added soon after, “But as President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.”

    It’s become clear that when Team Trump is talking to Ukraine about “corruption,” it’s little more than a euphemism for [Trump’s] conspiracy theories and political agenda.

    Pence went on to say at the press conference that he told Zelensky that he would “carry back to President Trump the progress that he and his administration in Ukraine are making on dealing with corruption in their country.”

    Yep. Pence was checking on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to see if he was “playing ball” with Trump.


  104. says

    Steve Benen took a closer look at Trumps obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails, and with the conspiracy theory that the emails are in Ukraine:

    […] Trump obviously pressed the Ukrainian leader for assistance in his 2020 re-election campaign, that came after Trump pressed Zelensky for help related to Clinton’s emails and the hack of the Democratic National Committee’servers.

    It’s worth understanding why, nearly three years removed from the 2016 election, Trump would maintain this obsession.

    In case this isn’t already obvious, the basis for Trump’s requested “favor” is a crackpot conspiracy theory that’s plainly absurd. And while that’s certainly a relevant detail, the larger question is why, even in 2019, he’s made this crackpot conspiracy theory such a priority.

    From Trump’s perspective, if there’s evidence that the conspiracy theory is true – there isn’t, of course, because it’s ridiculous, but if he could uncover such evidence – then he could claim that the United States’ intelligence agencies were wrong; Vladimir Putin is right; and Russia didn’t really attack the 2016 elections after all.

    In other words, the White House has now confirmed that Trump wanted Zelensky’s help in finding evidence that Russia – the country that invaded Ukraine and took part of Ukraine by force – is innocent. […]

    Is Trump trying to remove the asterisk from his election victory? Is he harboring some unhealthy Clinton-related fixation for reasons unknown? Or is he trying to help his benefactors in Moscow, who are still facing sanctions as a result of their attack on our elections?


  105. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Giuliani was trying to discredit the prosecution of Paul Manafort to lay the predicate for a Presidential pardon. So he was working for Trump but also in a sense for Manafort. This confluence is not terribly surprising since Manafort seemed to be calling a lot of the shots on strategy via the joint defense agreement he had with President Trump and others.

    But here’s the thing. A lot of these wild theories Giuliani has been spouting (and which have subsequently come out of Trump’s mouth) first show up months or years earlier in Russian propaganda outlets or social media campaigns. It seems a reasonable assumption they begin with Manafort or the channel of people he put Rudy in touch with.

    I continue to believe that the best way to see this Ukraine collusion/extortion isn’t as a new effort, a reckless effort to get yet another country to intervene in US elections. It’s really much more a continuation of the Russia story, an effort to discredit the Mueller probe, spring Manafort and turn fire on Democrats and the “Deep State.”

    For political and presentational reasons Democrats want to sever this from the Russia story with all its complexity, uncertainty and boiled frogs. As a public communications and clarity matter, that makes sense. But to really understand how we got here this is more an Empire Strikes Back sequel type thing, umbilically connected to the original story and one that makes no sense without it.


  106. says

    New York Review of Books – “Trump, Giuliani, and Manafort: The Ukraine Scheme”:

    The effort by President Trump to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son had its origins in an earlier endeavor to obtain information that might provide a pretext and political cover for the president to pardon his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to previously undisclosed records.

    These records indicate that attorneys representing Trump and Manafort respectively had at least nine conversations relating to this effort, beginning in the early days of the Trump administration, and lasting until as recently as May of this year. Through these deliberations carried on by his attorneys, Manafort exhorted the White House to press Ukrainian officials to investigate and discredit individuals, both in the US and in Ukraine, who he believed had published damning information about his political consulting work in the Ukraine. A person who participated in the joint defense agreement between President Trump and others under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including Manafort, allowed me to review extensive handwritten notes that memorialized conversations relating to Manafort and Ukraine between Manafort’s and Trump’s legal teams, including Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

    These new disclosures emerge as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s conduct. What prompted her actions were the new allegations that surfaced last week that Trump had pressured Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Trump’s potential 2020 campaign rival, Biden, and his son Hunter, placing a freeze on a quarter of a billion dollars in military assistance to Ukraine as leverage. The impeachment inquiry will also examine whether President Trump obstructed justice by attempting to curtail investigations by the FBI and the special counsel into Russia’s covert interference in the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

    New information in this story suggests that these two, seemingly unrelated scandals, in which the House will judge whether the president’s conduct in each case constituted extra-legal and extra-constitutional abuses of presidential power, are in fact inextricably linked: the Ukrainian initiative appears to have begun in service of formulating a rationale by which the president could pardon Manafort, as part of an effort to undermine the special counsel’s investigation.

    The records I have reviewed also indicate that on at least three occasions, Rudy Giuliani was in communication with Manafort’s legal team to discuss how the White House was pushing a narrative that the Democratic National Committee, Democratic donors, and Ukrainian government officials had “colluded” to defeat Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. (This story has since been debunked as baseless, though that has not prevented Trump, Giuliani, and other surrogates in conservative media from repeatedly pushing the story.)

    In particular, the records show that Manafort’s camp provided Giuliani with information designed to smear two people: one was a Ukrainian journalist and political activist named Serhiy Leshchenko, whom Manafort believed, correctly, of helping to uncover Manafort’s secret payments from Yanukovych; another was Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American political consultant and US citizen, whom Manafort suspected, mistakenly in this case, was also behind the exposé. The records also show that Giuliani and attorneys for Manafort exchanged information about the then US ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who Giuliani believed had attempted to undercut his covert Ukrainian diplomacy and fact-finding; the records are unclear as to whether it was Giuliani or Manafort’s attorney who first initiated their discussion about her.

    After his arrest in 2017, Manafort continued to encourage President Trump and his lawyers to engage in this effort when they joined Manafort in a joint legal defense agreement….

    Trump’s dangling of pardons to Manafort and others who might provide damaging testimony against the president to law enforcement agents, such as his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, have been widely reported, both by news media outlets and in the Mueller Report. According to the participant in the joint defense agreement discussions, Manafort was distressed at the uncertainty about whether President Trump would pardon him. There was no formal understanding that Trump would do so, because this would instantly have raised the specter of whether such a pardon might constitute an obstruction of justice.

    Instead, Manafort and those around him took the very public efforts by Giuliani to press Ukraine to investigate Manafort’s accusers as a favorable signal that the president might still pardon him after the 2020 presidential election. Trump is famously transactional, and Manafort feared that the president might be leading him on, according to the person who was party to the joint defense agreement communications. Giuliani’s constant touting of the Ukraine issue proved “reassuring” to Manafort, albeit to “a limited degree,” according to this person.

    …As I first disclosed last year in an article for Vox, Manafort encouraged the president and his top aides in this effort from the first days of the administration in early 2017. In recent months, both Trump and Giuliani have intensified those efforts, pressuring Ukraine to investigate not only Leshchenko and Chalupa, but also other Ukrainian government officials, activists, and journalists—and specifically to look into any part they may have had in publishing details of Manafort’s illicit political consulting work in the Ukraine.

    This past weekend, Trump acknowledged that he had also encouraged President Zelensky during a July 25 telephone call to have Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings. The White House has released a memorandum based on notes from officials, not a verbatim record. In it, Trump expressed concern to Zelensky that he was “surrounding [him]self with some of the same people,” an apparent reference to Leshchenko. Trump went on to disparage the Mueller Report, saying, “a lot of it started with Ukraine,” a seeming allusion to Manafort’s problems. And he urged the Ukrainian president to take calls from both his personal lawyer and Attorney General William Barr. Giuliani has admitted to repeatedly pressing the Manafort matter with Ukrainian officials.

    Giuliani’s smear campaign already met with some success….

    Writing in The Washington Post on Saturday, Leshchenko—who had for a time been a member of the Ukrainian parliament—wrote that Giuliani’s accusations had “had a devastating effect on my political career.” “Giuliani’s smear,” he said, “cost me a job in the new administration.” Leshchenko had been an adviser on Zelensky’s team, but facing this onslaught from Trump’s attorney and his media allies, he had felt forced to withdraw in order to avoid creating problems for the Ukrainian president.

    Alexandra Chalupa has faced similar attacks, encouraged by Manafort via the joint defense agreement….

    Much more at the link.

  107. says

    A selection of Trump’s rightwing allies responding to the whistleblower complaint (just so you know what they are thinking, and what tactics they are using to defend Trump):


    “I heard some things, I read some things in the news, I don’t know anything but I don’t like @realDonaldTrump so I am going to give cynical Democrats in Congress an opportunity to attack him.”

    [From Joe Pagliarulo] The so-called #WhistleblowerComplaint is out and it’s clear it’s the work of a political hack who has it out for @realDonaldTrump. Obviously this person is attempting to do what dems always do. Let’s pretend the right did what we did and act shocked.
    [From Hugh Hewitt] Hot take from a smart guy: “Just read whistleblowers complaint. Theory, this is a cover up, not just of Biden, but the whole Clintons obama Biden collusion debacle riff with illegality. The complaint is someone in that mix trying to cover their ass.”
    [From Fred Fleitz] As a former CIA analyst and former NSC official who edited transcripts of POTUS phone calls with foreign leaders, here are my thoughts on the whistleblower complaint which was just released. My view is that this whistleblower complaint is too convenient and too perfect to come from a typical whistleblower. Were other IC officers involved? Where outside groups opposed to the president involved?

    Fred Fleitz is pushing the idea that is that Democratic House Intelligence Committee staff helped “orchestrate” the complaint. “It is therefore important that Congress find out where this complaint came from,” he wrote.

  108. says

    Lynna @ #212:

    SC @202, Yes, we know Trump lied when he said that the USA was the top donor to Ukraine. Thanks for posting the link to the numbers. EU institutions 425.2 million, USA 204 million.

    Plus $190 million from Germany, $43 million from Poland, $35 million from Sweden, $32 million from the UK, and $30 million from Switzerland! Germany gives almost as much as the US, and is much smaller and less rich.

    Did you notice that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire also repeated that lie when he was questioned by Congress members today? Maguire did not lie as blatantly as Trump, but he did indicate that he thought other countries should step up and pay more of the expenses when it comes to helping Ukraine. That’s a Trump line/lie.

    Yes, he also repeated the “secondhand information” line several times. I’m no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  109. tomh says

    New US Labor Secretary. Because having a corporate lawyer to protect US workers is always a good idea.
    Eugene Scalia Confirmed by Senate as Labor Secretary

    The Senate on Thursday confirmed Eugene Scalia, a longtime lawyer representing corporations, to be labor secretary.

    Mr. Scalia, a son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, was chosen by President Trump in July,days after Mr. Trump’s first labor secretary, R. Alexander Acosta, announced that he would resign.

    The Senate confirmed Mr. Scalia by a 53-to-44 margin.

    Since Mr. Scalia’s nomination, Democrats and labor groups have questioned whether his background is consistent with the interests of American workers.

    Mr. Scalia, 56, has spent much of his career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a prominent corporate law firm, where perhaps his best-known client was SeaWorld. He helped represent the company after a killer whale attacked and killed a trainer in 2010 and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that SeaWorld should have taken additional steps to protect its workers.

    Mr. Scalia and his team argued unsuccessfully in federal appeals court that the company had sufficient training and safety measures and that it was up to its trainers to manage the remaining risks they faced on the job.

    Mr. Scalia also took a leading role opposing a Clinton administration regulation known as the “ergonomics rule,” which was intended to protect workers against repetitive stress injuries. He dismissed the basis for the rule as “unreliable science” and contended that labor unions had promoted it in order to “force companies to give more rest periods, slow the pace of work and then hire more workers (read: dues-paying members).”

    Mr. Scalia also represented Walmart in a fight against a Maryland law that would have required it to spend more on health care and Boeing in a case involving a union that accused it of violating labor law.

    He helped represent a coalition of financial services industry groups that sued to block an Obama administration rule requiring brokers to act in their clients’ best interest when advising them on retirement accounts.

    More at the link

  110. says

    Mr. Scalia, 56, has spent much of his career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a prominent corporate law firm, where perhaps his best-known client was SeaWorld. He helped represent the company after a killer whale attacked and killed a trainer in 2010 and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that SeaWorld should have taken additional steps to protect its workers.


    They tortured that poor whale! They blamed her ponytail!


  111. says

    Elaina Plott, the Atlantic:

    Rudy Giuliani was nearly shouting in my phone call with him. “It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not. And I will be the hero! These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero,” he told me.

    I had this conversation while in an Uber and when I hung up the driver was like, “Uh, everything ok?”

  112. johnson catman says

    He helped represent a coalition of financial services industry groups that sued to block an Obama administration rule requiring brokers to act in their clients’ best interest when advising them on retirement accounts.

    So he defended that it was okay for brokers to fuck over their clients as long as the brokers themselves made money? Just fucking WOW. Yeah. GREAT choice for a Labor Secretary. Just as good as any other appointment by this administration. “Government doesn’t work, and we will prove it!”

  113. johnson catman says

    re SC @225: The sick assholes laughing at the line “We used to handle it a little differently than we do now” should be up against the wall along with the Orange Toddler-Tyrant.

  114. says

    johnson catman @ #227, I agree that the laughter is repugnant. I know you’re new, so just FYI: Lynna has asked that that sort of language – “should be up against the wall” – not be used in the thread.

  115. says

    Guardian – “BBC staff complain over Munchetty reprimand for Trump remark”:

    BBC staff have publicly turned on their employer after the Breakfast show presenter Naga Munchetty was found to have breached the corporation’s editorial guidelines after criticising Donald Trump for telling black politicians to “go home”.

    Munchetty was ruled to have overstepped the mark when she put comments by the US president in the context of racism. Furious staff have pointed out that the complaints unit is dominated by older white men who may not understand the true impact of Trump’s words.

    “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism,” Munchetty told viewers in July, during a discussion with her co-host Dan Walker. She went on to add that she was “absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that”.

    Sangita Myska, a BBC correspondent, said “there is a lot of bewilderment among BAME staff” about the decision, while the former China editor Carrie Gracie has said the ruling was perplexing given “telling the truth and celebrating diversity” is a core BBC value and “we speak out when something is not right”.

    The Newsnight correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse said: “I propose a little thought experiment: if a BBC presenter suggested on air that a black Brit should ‘go back to where they came from’ and viewers complained the remark was racist, would the BBC uphold such a complaint? One would hope so.”

    The home secretary, Sajid Javid, tweeted the corporation on Thursday night, backing the presenter. “C’mon BBC. This is ridiculous. It’s perfectly understandable why she said what she did.”

    The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the BBC would have to explain this “astonishing decision”.

    “Naga Munchetty stated a fact. She shared experiences of racism she’s suffered. That can’t be at odds with any editorial guidelines,” he said.

    The decision to reprimand Munchetty, which followed a single complaint from a member of the public, was made by the BBC’s executive complaints unit, a committee that rules on contentious issues. The membership of the group is not public but internal BBC documents suggest it is a seven-strong group featuring only two women.

    A number of BBC presenters and journalists have said they are considering writing to the director general, Tony Hall, to ask for the decision to be reviewed before it causes further damage to the corporation’s public standing, especially among BAME communities. There is particular anger about the ruling given Munchetty’s comments were made in response to questions from Walker, who was asking for her personal experience of racist language.

    Managers have also been telling journalists in news and current affairs departments to avoid tweeting their support for Munchetty or discussing the incident with other news outlets, warning that public criticism of the decision could result in disciplinary action for those who speak out.

    Staff privately expressed exasperation that the BBC has allowed a single complaint from a member of the public to blow up into another damaging row for the corporation….

    In an updated statement the BBC said Trump’s comments were widely condemned as racist and that Munchetty was perfectly entitled to give her personal response to the president’s words. However, she was found to have breached editorial guidelines because BBC journalists are not allowed to “give their opinions about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so”.

    Senior journalists privately complain that news executives are struggling with how to handle persistent complaints from rightwing campaigners about the corporation’s perceived leftwing biases, creating the internal perception that bosses are overcompensating following the 2016 Brexit referendum amid an ongoing culture war.

    At the same time the BBC management is increasingly facing internal clashes with its own journalists who are publicly calling out the corporation when they feel it is falling short on issues relating to diversity – both internally and on-screen. This then causes clashes over which topics are legitimate topics of discussion for the corporation’s television and radio shows and which are not up for debate….

    I’ll once again recommend Tom Mills’ The BBC: The Myth of a Public Service.

  116. says

    “Report: Fox News Flails Amid Multiple Bombshells From Trump’s Ukraine Scandal”:

    It’s been quite a turbulent week for President Donald Trump, and now his favorite cable news network is reportedly in a tailspin.

    According to a Vanity Fair report on Thursday, the right-wing network is divided over whether to stay loyal to Trump or to jump ship amid the Ukraine scandal and the House’s impeachment inquiry.

    An unnamed Fox employee described the situation to Vanity Fair as “management bedlam.”

    “This massive thing happened, and no one knows how to cover it,” the employee said.

    Four unnamed sources told Vanity Fair that Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch is already planning what direction the network will take when Trump’s presidency comes to an end.

    Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who joined Fox Corporation’s board of directors in March, has reportedly been urging Murdoch to cut ties with Trump altogether.

    Even diehard Trump loyalist Sean Hannity is apparently starting to back away: The Fox host reportedly told his friends that the newly released whistleblower complaint detailing Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president is “really bad.”

    Trump’s relationship with Fox has been on the rocks in recent months, with the President grousing that the network’s poll numbers on him aren’t favorable enough or that certain hosts aren’t flattering enough. However, Fox is reportedly unconcerned with the potential consequences of Trump’s complaining.

  117. says

    The Democrats are pathologically timid.

    NEW w/ @rachaelmbade — Dems eye impeachment sprint over coming weeks…
    -Intel Cmte takes lead on Ukraine as other cmtes wrap probes
    -Few, if any hearings
    -No set timeline, but some Dems eyeing floor vote around T’giving”

    Right, the last thing they’d want is for this to turn into another Watergate.

  118. johnson catman says

    re SC @240: Couldn’t resist. Now I wish I had. What could Miller possibly offer any sentient being?

  119. says


    We can’t tell you how devastating this news is. We run a refugee resettlement program & the people we support as they settle down to new lives are incredible.

    At a time when the # of displaced people worldwide is a record high of 71 million, this decision is worse than shameful.

  120. says

    LATEST: In video of his private speech, Trump:
    —jokes about driving people ‘frigging crazy’ with hints he might never leave WH
    —says coal miners would turn down an NYC apartment because they love mining
    —makes fun of Adam Schiff’s neck.”

    My favorite response, from Jane[8-digit-string]: “Congress need to investigate Biden !”
    Bio reads: “Love art, investment. Support President’s policies.Make great future & prosperity for next generations , reduce debts. No Socialism . God Bless America!”

  121. KG says

    John Major, The former Tory PM*, suggests the junta may use an arcane procedure called an “Order of Council” to get round the “Benn law” aimed at forcing him to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50. An Order of council can be issued by the “Privy Council”, a body supposedly of advisors to the Queen, which in effect the PM controls. Major thinks this would allow ministers to suspend the Benn law until after October 31st. I have no idea if this is legally possible, but it would be a good idea to get a ruling from the Supreme Court, andor seek a way to rule it out through legislation! MPs opposed to a no-deal crash-out are planning to take control of the order paper again next week, having voted down the junta’s request for a short recess (not a prorogation) for the Tory party conference. And meanwhile, the real leader of the junta (Cummings) blames MPs for the death and rape threats they (primarily women) are getting,/A>. And also meanwhile, Anglican bishops have wagged a finger at the language being used. Yeah, that’ll put a stop to it!

    *Ironically, Major himself misused prorogation to avoid Parliament discussing a “cash for questions” (lobbyists paying MPs to ask questions in the Commons) scandal before the 1997 election. Underhand chicanery, but we weren’t in the middle of a huge constitutional crisis at the time.

  122. says

    Josh Marshall re #249:

    Rudy’s a dipshit. These texts don’t contradicts the WB at all and they’re consistent with other reporting that Volker was trying to manage the damage Rudy’s nonsense was causing. The UKRs seem to have asked him to put them in touch with Rudy because he was giving interviews saying they were enemies of Trump. They wanted to convince him they loved Trump, weren’t trying to make trouble. Perhaps we’ll find out more abt Volker. But it seems more like he was trying to manage US relations with UKR and contain the damage from Trump and Rudy’s extortion.

    Again, not trying to exonerate Volker. Just saying there’s lots of evidence from our reporting and info in UKR press that he was trying to manage a terrible situation rather than enlisting Rudes assistance. The UKR’s needed Rudes assistance because they believed correctly that he had the power to destroy them with Trump.

  123. says

    Via today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog:

    Nicola Sturgeon has backed the idea of Jeremy Corbyn becoming a caretaker prime minister, in a bid to secure an extension to the Brexit deadline.

    The Scottish first minister tweeted on Friday that she agrees with the idea of installing the Labour leader as PM through a vote of no confidence in the Conservative administration so he can secure a Brexit extension, before then calling an immediate general election.

    In response to a tweet making the suggestion, Ms Sturgeon said: “Agree with this. VONC [vote of no confidence], opposition unites around someone for sole purpose of securing an extension, and then immediate General Election.

    “Nothing is risk free but leaving Johnson in post to force through no deal – or even a bad deal – seems like a terrible idea to me.”

  124. says

    Trump tweeted: “To show you how dishonest the LameStream Media is, I used the word Liddle’, not Liddle, in discribing Corrupt Congressman Liddle’ Adam Schiff. Low ratings @CNN purposely took the hyphen out and said I spelled the word little wrong. A small but never ending situation with CNN!”

    Once again, world, we apologize for this clown.

  125. johnson catman says

    re SC @256: That was always a nagging thought in the back of my head after he ordered the translators not to release the notes.

  126. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Who the fuck was it who thought it would be a good idea for a “Reality TV” star to become President?

    Oh, wait. It was Putin. Never mind.

  127. says

    SC @229, thanks for following up on that.

    On this thread we do not threaten people with physical violence or death, even obliquely, even via metaphor. Better to just steer clear. Trump does threaten people. We do not.

  128. says

    Not a priority for Republicans, reading the whistleblower complaint that is:

    “Haven’t seen it,” said Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said they hadn’t read it either.

    “I’ve been running around this morning,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman apologized.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Once the Trump era began, the problem intensified. Republicans didn’t read their own health care plan. They also didn’t read their own tax plan.

    More recently, an unnerving number of Republicans conceded they hadn’t read the Mueller report – including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose job arguably entails reading documents like these.

    Now GOP lawmakers aren’t reading the whistleblower’s complaint, either? Is it unreasonable to wonder whether Capitol Hill would function better if more Republicans simply sat down and read more?


    From Charles Gaba:

    Lankford: “Didn’t read it.”
    Hoeven: “Didn’t read it.”
    Braun: “Didn’t read it.”
    Alexander: “Didn’t read it.”
    Portman: “Didn’t read it.”
    Cotton: “No comment.”
    Blunt: “Ask me later.”
    Rubio: “(nonanswer)”
    Risch: “Nothing there”
    Rounds: “(nonanswer)”
    Ernst: “Didn’t read it.”


  129. says

    Kate Riga summarized the backstory:

    The intelligence community whistleblower, identified as a CIA officer by the New York Times, initially took his allegations to the agency’s general counsel, only deciding to lodge his now-famous complaint when he realized that the general counsel had alerted the White House.

    According to the Times, when the CIA officer went to general counsel Courtney Elwood shortly after President Donald Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, she looped in officials at the White House and and Department of Justice (including Attorney General William Barr).

    Though Elwood’s actions are in keeping with policy, they underscore how exposed the CIA officer was without whistleblower protections and a White House at the very least aware of his allegations, if not his identity.

    The CIA officer grew concerned that his allegations were not being taken seriously, so he lodged a formal complaint with the IG as well, becoming a full-blown whistleblower. […]

    TPM link

    I almost hate to mention this because it is so stupid, but Trump still thinks the Supreme Court can protect him from impeachment. This is from a statement Trump made yesterday:

    It should never be allowed, what’s happened to this president…. What these guys are doing — Democrats — are doing to this country is a disgrace and it shouldn’t be allowed. There should be a way of stopping it — maybe legally, through the courts.

    The Constitution gives the U.S. House the authority to pursue impeachment, and the law is unambiguous.

    From April of this year, when Trump also invoked the court.

    If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    From May of this year:

    They can [Congress can start the impeachment process], because they’re possibly allowed, although I can’t imagine the courts allowing it.

  130. says


    Damn, this week has been a long month.

    In the midst of the Ukrainium One shitstorm, it can be easy to lose track of all of the other things going on. A bunch of states are suing Trump. Trump is suing a bunch of states. A whole bunch of other people are suing over a whole bunch of other terrible things. So totally normal politics and very stable geniuses […]

    So anyway, here are all of the other places where Trump is fighting with states, civil rights organizations, and other assorted people trying to bring some goodness and light into the world.

    Trump Tax Returns: Trump v. Vance

    Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance wants Trump’s tax returns. Trump asked a federal judge to say he can commit as many crimes as he wants. Everyone is arguing about whether a sitting president can be criminally investigated or indicted.

    […] Meanwhile, the DOJ is trying to decide whether it wants to get involved. It says it will have an answer on that by October 1. […]

    Whatever Judge Marrero decides will inevitably be immediately appealed to the Second Circuit by the losing party. The losing party of the Second Circuit will probably ask SCOTUS to step in. SCOTUS will toss Trump’s salad. Repeat.

    Trump Tax Returns: Trump v. California

    California enacted a well-meaning but probably unconstitutional law requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to get onto the ballot. Because something truly terrible must lurk within the pages of Donald Trump’s tax returns, he immediately sued. Last week, a federal court enjoined the law since, like we said, it’s probably unconstitutional.

    Endangered Species Act: California v. Bernhardt

    California is leading a coalition of 18 state attorneys general and New York City suing Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to try to stop the Trump regime from gutting the Endangered Species Act. The suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, alleges the administration is ignoring science and the needs of endangered species in order to boost corporate profits.

    At a press conference, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his “suspicion is that the Trump administration has misread the Endangered Species Act […] they’ve chosen to prioritize endangering endangered species, rather than protecting those species.”

    This is the 61st lawsuit California has filed against Trump since he took office. Well done, Golden State!

    Courthouse arrests in New York went up 1700% between 2016 and 2018.

    When immigrants are arrested in courthouses, they’re less likely to come forward as victims of crimes, even when their safety is in danger. Witnesses to crimes don’t want to come to court to testify, for fear they’ll be deported.

    The plaintiffs argue that ICE’s policy of arresting people in courthouses makes everyone less safe and puts immigrant communities at risk. […]

    These cases were just filed, so we may not see any major action here for a while. […]

    Much more at the link.

  131. says

    A quick guide to Trump’s false claims about Ukraine and the Bidens.

    Washington Post link

    […] Trump has long relied on repetition to spread his falsehoods into the national discourse. As the whistleblower complaint about his dealings with Ukraine has led to a possible impeachment crisis, he has repeated previously fact-checked claims about former vice president Joe Biden while introducing new ones. […]

    This is one of those complex stories that consume Washington but frequently confuse ordinary Americans. Trump appears to be counting on that confusion to offer a fog of claims and allegations to make it appear as if Biden had done something wrong. […]

    Biden pushed out a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son
    Trump has falsely claimed that Biden in 2015 pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor, because he was investigating Ukraine’s largest private gas company, Burisma, which had added Biden’s son, Hunter, to its board in 2014.

    There are two big problems with this claim: One, Shokin was not investigating Burisma or Hunter Biden, and two, Shokin’s ouster was considered a diplomatic victory.

    Biden was among the many Western officials who pressed for the removal of Shokin because he actually was not investigating the corruption endemic to the country. […]

    “Shokin was not investigating. He didn’t want to investigate Burisma,” Daria Kaleniuk, of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center, told The Washington Post in July. “And Shokin was fired not because he wanted to do that investigation, but quite to the contrary, because he failed that investigation.” […]

    One can certainly raise questions about Hunter Biden’s judgment in joining Burisma’s board at a time his father had a high-profile role in working with Ukraine’s government. But by continuing to claim that Biden “did” something for his son, Trump persists in spreading a false narrative about a diplomatic maneuver hailed at the time as a step toward reducing corruption in Ukraine.

    Hunter Biden made a killing on a China deal
    At various times Trump has claimed Hunter Biden “made millions of dollars from China” or “walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund” after hitching a ride with his father on Air Force Two. But there is no evidence to support those statements.

    In December 2013, Hunter Biden and one of his daughters flew from Japan to China with Joe Biden on Air Force Two as the vice president embarked on a diplomatic mission.

    Twelve days after he flew to Beijing, Hunter Biden joined an advisory board of a fund called BHR Partners, which had announced it would try to raise $1.5 billion. […]

    But while Joe Biden was vice president, Hunter Biden was only on the board of the advisory firm that did not directly invest, but instead advised those who did. George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, said he only took an equity stake in 2017, after Joe Biden was no longer vice president.

    Mesires told The Fact Checker that the investment management company “was capitalized from various sources with a total of 30 million RMB [Chinese Renminbi], or about $4.2 million, not $1.5 billion.” Because Biden acquired a 10 percent minority interest, his “capital commitment is approximately $420,000,” Mesires said.

    “To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors,” Mesires added. […]

    Democratic senators also threatened Ukraine’s aid
    Trump claimed that three Democratic senators — Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) — “implied that their support for U.S. assistance to Ukraine was at stake and that if they didn’t do the right thing they wouldn’t get any assistance.” He later referred to “senators that threatened him with votes and no money coming into Ukraine if they do things.”

    Trump suggested this was the “real deal,” unlike allegations that he held up military aid to force the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

    Trump is referring to a letter written in 2018, and it does not say what he claims.

    The letter, written to the special prosecutor at the time, Yuriy Lutsenko, expressed concern about a New York Times report that Ukraine had stopped cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to avoid upsetting Trump. The letter does not threaten a loss of aid, though it notes that the Times article said that the freezing of cooperation was motivated by a worry that Trump would cut off aid. (The article was titled: “Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation with Mueller Investigation.”) […]

    Lutsenko never responded. Since the letter was sent, the three senators have voted for nearly $870 million in additional aid to Ukraine, with Leahy and Durbin (members of the Senate Appropriations Committee) voting in committee on Sept. 26 for an additional $448 million in fiscal 2020, an increase over 2018 and 2019.

  132. says

    CNN – “First on CNN: White House says lawyers directed moving Ukraine transcript to highly secure system”:

    The White House acknowledged Friday that administration officials directed a now-infamous Ukraine call transcript be filed in a highly classified system, confirming allegations contained in a whistleblower complaint that have roiled Washington.

    In a statement provided to CNN, a senior White House official said the move to place the transcript in the system came at the direction of National Security Council attorneys.

    “NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” the senior White House official said.

    White House officials say the transcript was already classified so it did nothing wrong by moving it to another system.

    The admission lends further credibility to the whistleblower complaint description of how the July 25 transcript with the Ukrainian president, among others, were kept out of wider circulation by using a system for highly sensitive documents.

    But the statement did not explain whether anyone else in the White House was part of the decision to put the the Ukraine transcript in the more restrictive system.

    Nor did it delve into an accusation in the complaint that other phone call transcripts were handled in a similar fashion.

    The suggestion that officials sought to conceal the content of the phone call — during which Trump suggested to his Ukrainian counterpart that he order an investigation into Joe Biden and his son — has led to accusations of a cover-up. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.

    The transcript of the Ukraine phone call — which the White House released publicly on Wednesday — did not contain information like intelligence secrets or military plans that might ordinarily merit moving it to a highly classified system….

  133. says

    Manu Raju, CNN:

    Just talked to Schiff about next steps for probe. He told me it‘ll be a “busy couple weeks” and says “we are” preparing for hearings next week. “I expect subpoenas” as well as “depositions” are going to go out and move as “expeditiously as possible.” No comment on specifics.

    Asked what he would do if the WH stonewalls, and he said: “It will strengthen the case on obstruction.”

    “We are working on potential hearings, potential depositions, I expect subpoenas are going to go out.We will move as expeditiously as possible but we have to see what witnesses are going to make themselves available and what witnesses are going to require compulsion,” Schiff says.

  134. tomh says

    @ #267
    The NYT has a background piece on her. Trump doesn’t need a State Dept, he can handle it all himself.

    Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already.
    By Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Peter Baker
    Sept. 26, 2019

    WASHINGTON — President Trump’s words about Marie L. Yovanovitch, his former ambassador to Ukraine, were ominous. In a telephone conversation that has set off a political crisis for Mr. Trump, he told Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, that she was “bad news.”

    “She’s going to go through some things,” he added.

    In fact, she already has gone through quite a bit. Over the past several months, Ms. Yovanovitch, a decorated 33-year veteran of the State Department, has been vilified in the right-wing news media, denounced by the president’s eldest son as a “joker,” called a Democratic stooge by the president’s personal lawyer and then abruptly recalled from Kiev this May, months ahead of schedule.

    Her supposed sin, never backed up by evidence, was that she had shown disloyalty to Mr. Trump, disparaging him behind his back. Her friends, who say her professionalism and history of diplomatic service make that highly unlikely, have another theory: She had turned into collateral damage in efforts by Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to damage the reputation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., perhaps Mr. Trump’s most prominent Democratic rival in 2020.

    Among the apparent strikes against her: A former Ukrainian prosecutor claimed in an interview with The New York Times that Ms. Yovanovitch had blocked his team from getting visas to the United States to deliver damaging information about Mr. Biden and his son Hunter to the F.B.I.

    In targeting Ms. Yovanovitch, former colleagues say, Mr. Trump and his allies underscored how profoundly suspicious they are of the career government professionals around them, leading the president to bypass the usual procedures and staff while outsourcing aspects of foreign policy to Mr. Giuliani and others.

    Although largely unknown to the outside world, Ms. Yovanovitch has now become a sort of heroine to the State Department’s career staff — as well as a cautionary tale to many longtime American diplomats and national security officials. To them, she symbolizes an atmosphere in which dissenting, or even insisting on established procedures, can get them marked as outsiders, shut out of meetings, excluded from policymaking and in the end publicly hung out to dry as enemies of the administration.

    At a news briefing on Thursday in New York, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to answer questions shouted by reporters about why Ms. Yovanovitch had been suddenly recalled to Washington.

    The American Academy of Diplomacy reacted by demanding that the State Department protect Ms. Yovanovitch from reprisals, calling the “threatening tone” of Mr. Trump’s remarks about her “very troubling.” The American Foreign Service Association, which represents State Department employees, urged that the American diplomatic corps “not be dragged into partisan political battles.”

    Now serving as a diplomat in residence at Georgetown University, Ms. Yovanovitch did not respond to requests for an interview.

    While the abrupt end to her ambassadorship was widely seen as punitive, one former colleague said that it was possibly motivated by a genuine concern for her, and that State Department officials decided it was safer to bring her home.

    Nonetheless, the level of suspicion and paranoia inside the foreign policy and national security agencies, already high since Mr. Trump’s arrival, has only risen since Ms. Yovanovitch’s saga has surfaced.

    “It’s more than crazy — it’s ugly, it’s threatening,” said Daniel Fried, a former ambassador and 40-year State Department official who has long dealt with Russian and Ukrainian issues and retired at the beginning of the Trump administration. “Masha Yovanovitch is known as a straight arrow, disciplined, professional.”

    “If you take out Masha Yovanovitch, you send the message to every ambassador that we will not have your back,” he said.

    Ms. Yovanovitch was born in Canada, moved to Connecticut at age 3 and became a naturalized American citizen at 18. In congressional testimony, she said her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. She said that background gave her a special empathy for those who had endured poverty, war and displacement.

    She grew up speaking Russian, graduated from Princeton and joined the State Department six years later. Her specialty was Eurasia.

    President George W. Bush appointed her ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, then to Armenia. President Barack Obama named her ambassador to Ukraine in 2016. There, she spoke out strongly against corruption in the Ukrainian government and pushed for a variety of reforms, including ending the immunity enjoyed by legislators accused of crimes.

    John E. Herbst, a former ambassador to Ukraine, described her as a highly skilled and meticulous diplomat who would never share her personal political opinions with foreign officials — or even with her diplomatic colleagues. She was careful not to overstep her authority, he said.

    “Masha is someone who is always very attentive to propriety and to instructions, and by nature, cautious,” he said. “She is uniformly held in high regard.”

    The campaign against her by Trump allies began more than a year ago, with a letter from Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican member of the House at the time who lost his re-election bid in November. He wrote to Mr. Pompeo that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately and repeatedly expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

    Then, this spring, Joseph E. diGenova, a former federal prosecutor and an ally of Mr. Trump’s, alleged on a Fox News broadcast that the ambassador had disparaged Mr. Trump to Ukrainian officials, telling them “not to listen to him or obey his policy because he was going to be impeached.”

    Two days later, Donald Trump Jr. posted a link on social media to a conservative website that described her as an anti-Trump Obama loyalist, and one Mr. Trump had been trying to fire for a year. He said his father’s administration should have “less of these jokers as ambassadors.”

    About the same time, a Ukrainian-American named Lev Parnas, who has worked with Mr. Giuliani, told people in Republican circles in Washington of tape recordings of conversations in which Ms. Yovanovitch had supposedly disparaged the president, according to people he spoke with. The existence of those recordings has not been substantiated.

    Her troubles mounted as Mr. Giuliani stepped up pressure on the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into whether Mr. Biden, as vice-president, had forced out a top prosecutor in order to shut down an inquiry that might have implicated Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.

    No evidence has emerged that Mr. Biden was actually trying to protect his son; in fact, many Western leaders viewed Ukraine’s top prosecutor as corrupt and were pressuring Ukraine’s leader to fire him.

    But one former Ukrainian prosecutor, Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, told The New York Times in an interview in April that Ms. Yovanovitch had thwarted his efforts to meet with the F.B.I. to deliver damaging information about the Bidens by denying him a visa.

    Mr. Giuliani also accused her of being a pawn of the New York financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor who backed a nonprofit anti-corruption group that worked in Ukraine. “The ambassador there is in the pocket of Soros,” he said in a March interview with The New York Times.

    The critiques of Ms. Yovanovitch clearly reached Mr. Trump’s ears. In the July 25 phone call, Mr. Zelensky, Ukraine’s newly elected president, told Mr. Trump: “You were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador,” adding that “I agree with you 100 percent.”

    The premature end to Ms. Yovanovitch’s tenure in Kiev was all the more remarkable because Ukraine’s government had just turned over with the surprise election of Mr. Zelensky in April.

    “She’s capable and she’s tough, and why would you want to lose your ambassador right at the moment when there is a big change in the government?” asked Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for the region that includes Ukraine.

    Mr. Trump has not yet chosen a replacement.

  135. says

    tomh @ #269, thanks for that article. (I have to assume the involvement of Vogel is why it’s not also focused on what Trump’s comment meant.)

    The American Foreign Service Association, which represents State Department employees, urged that the American diplomatic corps “not be dragged into partisan political battles.”

    That’s not nearly strong enough. These are McCarthyist tactics being used against a career diplomat (and many other diplomats) – to publicly smear her, get her fired, and threaten her. Professional associations like this need to do far more to protect the people they represent, or they’re part of the problem.

    The campaign against her by Trump allies began more than a year ago, with a letter from Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican member of the House at the time who lost his re-election bid in November. He wrote to Mr. Pompeo that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately and repeatedly expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

    What the hell? What would he know about anything?

    Then, this spring, Joseph E. diGenova, a former federal prosecutor and an ally of Mr. Trump’s, alleged on a Fox News broadcast that the ambassador had disparaged Mr. Trump to Ukrainian officials, telling them “not to listen to him or obey his policy because he was going to be impeached.”

    Two days later, Donald Trump Jr. posted a link on social media to a conservative website that described her as an anti-Trump Obama loyalist, and one Mr. Trump had been trying to fire for a year. He said his father’s administration should have “less of these jokers as ambassadors.”

    About the same time, a Ukrainian-American named Lev Parnas, who has worked with Mr. Giuliani, told people in Republican circles in Washington of tape recordings of conversations in which Ms. Yovanovitch had supposedly disparaged the president, according to people he spoke with. The existence of those recordings has not been substantiated.

    Seems like a coordinated effort that has long deserved more investigation. And you can be sure that if they had evidence, they would have shared it long ago.

    Mr. Giuliani also accused her of being a pawn of the New York financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor who backed a nonprofit anti-corruption group that worked in Ukraine. “The ambassador there is in the pocket of Soros,” he said in a March interview with The New York Times.

    Disgusting. Disgusting.

  136. says


    I love how McConnell is saying “since you’re impeaching, NOW we’re not going to pass bills.”

    What does he mean, now? Mitch McConnell hasn’t done a damn thing all year.

    He literally brags that his office is a graveyard. We passed gun safety in Feb & he STILL hasn’t held a vote.

    Which gives his office being a graveyard an even deeper meaning.

  137. says


    “WH acknowledges for first time that the Ukraine transcript was filed in a separate classified system. WH official tells @PamelaBrownCNN it was done under the direction of NSC attorneys. Source said: ‘NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately’.”

    The quote doesn’t say that–indeed, it suggests the opposite, namely, that the NSC lawyers directed that the doc be handled ‘appropriately’, which would mean someone else directed it be handled inappropriately. Deliberate ambiguity.”

  138. says

    Julia Davis: “On May 13th Russian state TV reported that no US officials would be attending the inauguration in Ukraine, on direct orders from Trump. According to the #WhistleblowerComplaint, on May 14th Trump ordered Pence not to attend. How did the Russians know that?”

    (Davis’ tweet about it from May was featured on Chris Hayes last night.)

  139. says

    AJ – “Protests break out across Egypt demanding el-Sisi’s resignation”:

    Protests have broken out in parts of Egypt with demonstrators calling for the departure of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi amid a high security alert.

    Following Friday prayers in the Warraq area in Giza governorate, demonstrators chanted slogans calling for the resignation of el-Sisi and raised slogans condemning the deterioration of living conditions in the country as well as the spread of corruption.

    Witnesses and security sources said police fired tear gas to disperse up to 1,000 protesters that were shouting “Leave Sisi”, reported Reuters news agency.

    Demonstrations were also witnessed on the streets of Luxor and Qena governorates.

    In Cairo, security forces closed off entrances to Tahrir Square, the hub of the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak. There was a heavy police presence around the square and at some junctions in the city centre.

    Simultaneously, pro-Sisi demonstrations were also taking place in Alexandria, north Egypt.

    Buses ferried people including company employees from Cairo and other cities to the rally, where crowds waved Egyptian flags and pictures of Sisi. Delta Sugar Company, a state firm, said it had bussed in workers from its factory in the Nile Delta and offices in Cairo.

    At Cairo’s Al-Fateh mosque, a starting point for protests in 2011, dozens of police, some in uniform and others in plain clothes with masks and large guns, stood near the exit as prayers finished. At least 20 security vehicles were stationed around the mosque or patrolling nearby.

    Security forces also stepped up their presence in main squares in major cities and plainclothes police have been checking motorists’ and pedestrians’ mobile phones for political content.

    Earlier, Egypt’s president played down a call for protests against his rule, saying there were “no reasons for concern” even as the army and the police tightened security in the capital.

    Rights groups said nearly 2,000 people have been arrested so far in a broad crackdown following last week’s small but rare demonstrations against el-Sisi, who took power in a 2013 coup.

    In a brief statement on Thursday, Egypt’s Ministry of Interior warned it would “confront any attempt to destabilise social peace in a firm and decisive way”….

  140. says

    Inbox: House Budget Chair John Yarmuth and House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey have sent a letter to the Trump admin requesting docs and answers regarding OMB’s involvement in the withholding of foreign aid, including nearly $400 mil in security assistance funding for Ukraine.”

  141. says

    Inbox: Investigating committees send subpoena to Pompeo for documents, set deposition schedule for state dept witnesses on Ukraine issue.”

    At the link. Deposition dates for Ambs. Yovanovitch, Volker, and Sondland; also for George Kent and Ulrich Brechbuhl.

  142. says

    From US State Dept background briefing today 9/27:

    ‘The United States supports the right of Egyptians to express their political views freely, the right to associate, the right to political protest, peaceful political protest. We’re following developments on the ground’.

    ‘We understand there have been a number of arrests, and we call upon the Government of Egypt to protect citizens’ ability to exercise these rights peaceably’. (Comments by unnamed Senior State Dept official 9/27)”

    Quite different from Trump’s remarks the other day (see #93 above).

  143. KG says

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for investigation of a possible criminal offence of “misconduct in public office” over the Jennifer Arcuri matter (see blf@142). The referral to this body is because as Mayor of London, he was in overall charge of the Metropolitan Police. Small beer, perhaps, in comparison to Trump’s massive and continual financial corruption – a mere £100,000 or so going to the company of a “friend” (Arcuri has described Johnson, who was a frequent visitor to her London flat, as “one of her best friends”) – but it really hasn’t been a terribly good week for Johnson. When he next dares to show his face in the Commons, perhaps he’ll be greeted with shouts of “Lock him up!”.

    Incidentally, <Ahref=”https://www.ft.com/content/ba55c93c-deb6-11e9-b112-9624ec9edc59″>Financial Times journalist Tim Bradshaw reports an interesting connection:

    Two years before I met her, I was invited to one of Ms Arcuri’s InnoTech summits at the Grand Connaught Rooms hotel, at which the highest billing, after Mr Johnson, went to a keynote from one Milo Yiannopoulos.

    This was before the days of Yiannopoulos’ notoriety; he was running a tech news site, although already, according to Bradshaw, indulging in vicious online quarrels.

  144. says

    State Dept.: “From October 1-6, @SecPompeo will travel to Italy, the Holy See, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Greece to meet with senior leaders and deliver keynote remarks at the U.S. – Holy See Symposium on Partnering with Faith-Based Organizations.”

  145. says

    JFC, I can’t go for a walk without this guy committing an impeachable act. Now it’s trading away gun control to the NRA for financial backing for his defense.

    In totally unrelated news, “NRA Was ‘Foreign Asset’ To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals” (NPR):

    The National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new investigation unveiled Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

    Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.

    The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.

    Then-NRA vice president Pete Brownell, who would later become NRA president, was enticed to visit Russia with the promise of personal business opportunities — and the NRA covered a portion of the trip’s costs.

    The conclusions of the Senate investigation could have legal implications for the NRA, Wyden says.

    Attorneys general in the state of New York and the District of Columbia are conducting separate probes into alleged wrongdoing at the gun rights organization. These probes have a broader scope than the Senate report, which focuses on Russia.

  146. says

    Heather Caygle, Politico:

    Schiff, in a letter to Dems, confirms Oct. 4 hearing with the Intelligence Community IG

    “The IC IG conducted a preliminary investigation and determined that the whistleblower complaint was credible. This hearing is critical to establish additional details, leads and evidence.”

    “We are already in the process of identifying additional witnesses to be interviewed, whether in closed sessions or public hearings,” Schiff adds.

    “More subpoenas and investigatory steps will occur next week, as the investigation accelerates…”

  147. says

    Julia Davis re #288:

    Giuliani set to make paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference that includes Putin

    According to an agenda for the event posted online, Giuliani is set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.

    Giuliani is the only American scheduled to speak at the gathering. His decision to take part in the conference astounded national security experts.

    The conference is the brainchild of Putin and was created to establish Russia as a bulwark against Europe and a center of gravity in the former Soviet region. In 2012, Hillary Clinton called the group part of an effort to “re-Sovietize the region.”

    The moderator listed on the agenda is Glazyev, who is viewed in Moscow’s diplomatic circles as Putin’s possible successor. Last year, Giuliani was also listed as a participant in a panel moderated by Glazyev.

    Giuliani said he could not remember whether he and Glazvyev spoke at the previous event. “I was discussing Russian collusion,” he said, sarcastically. “He helped me tank the case. Do you know what an idiot you sound like right now?”

    UPDATE: Giuliani just backed out, no longer going.

    WaPo link at the link.

  148. tomh says

    Judge Blocks Trump Administration Plan to Detain Migrant Children

    A federal judge on Friday rejected the Trump administration’s new regulations designed to expand the government’s ability to detain migrant children who enter the United States illegally, often to seek asylum with their parents.

    The move to supplant a decades-old legal agreement that set strict limits on the incarceration of such children with new government policy was part of a wider campaign by the Trump administration to discourage migrant parents from journeying with their children to the southern border.

    Judge Dolly Gee of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, who oversees the 1997 court settlement known as the Flores agreement, concluded that the administration’s attempt to frame regulations that would carry out the mandate to protect migrant children — but allow them to be detained for long periods — was not adequate.

    Under the consent decree, the government must seek to expeditiously release children from detention, a requirement that has been interpreted to mean that they must not be held longer than about 20 days.

    “The Flores Settlement Agreement remains in effect and has not been terminated,” Judge Gee, an appointee of President Barack Obama, wrote in a two-page order.

    She said the new regulations “fail to implement and are inconsistent with” the terms of the agreement, which the government must now continue to comply with.

    The new regulations were an attempt to end more than 20 years of court oversight on migrant children’s detention.

    Unveiled on Aug. 21, they would terminate the court’s review of facilities holding children and eliminate a requirement that such facilities be licensed by whatever state they are in, as well as remove the 20-day limit on how long children can be held in a secure facility.

    “The Department of Justice is disappointed that the court is continuing to impose the outdated Flores Agreement even after the government has done exactly what the Agreement required: issue a comprehensive rule that will protect vulnerable children, maintain family unity, and ensure due process for those awaiting adjudication of their immigration claims,” a department spokesman said in a statement.

    Administration officials had said that the new regulations would fulfill the Flores agreement’s provisions for ensuring that children in the government’s custody are “treated with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability.”

    But lawyers for the groups who sued on behalf of migrant children said that they did not fulfill the requirements of the settlement. If adopted as written, they warned in court filings, the new rules would “strike a mortal blow to crucial rights and protections that the settlement confers on vulnerable children.”

    After the ruling, Carlos Holguin, who has litigated the case since filing a class-action lawsuit in 1985, said, “We are gratified that the court has ruled in the way it has to protect children from the worst excesses of immigration-related detention.”
    More at the link on the history of the Flores agreement.

  149. tomh says

    @ SC, #306

    Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in U.S. election

    By Shane Harris ,
    Josh Dawsey and
    Ellen NakashimaSeptember 27 at 8:26 PM

    President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

    The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.

    A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

    The White House’s classification of records about Trump’s communications with foreign officials is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats. An intelligence community whistleblower has alleged that the White House placed a record of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, in which he offered U.S. assistance investigating his political opponents, into a code-word classified system reserved for the most sensitive intelligence information.

    The White House did not provide a comment Friday.

    It is not clear whether a memo documenting the May 10, 2017, meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was placed into that system, but the three former officials said it was restricted to a very small number of people. The White House had recently begun limiting the records of Trump’s calls after remarks he made to the leaders of Mexico and Australia appeared in news reports. The Lavrov memo was restricted to an even smaller group, the former officials said.

    A fourth former official, who did not recall the president’s remarks to the Russian officials, said memos were restricted only to people who needed to know their contents.

    “It was more about learning how can we restrict this in a way that still informs the policy process and the principals who need to engage with these heads of state,” the fourth former official said.

    But the three former officials with knowledge of the remarks said some memos of the president’s communications were kept from people who might ordinarily have access to them. The Lavrov memo fit that description, they said.

    White House officials were particularly distressed by Trump’s election remarks because it appeared the president was forgiving Russia for an attack that had been designed to help elect him, the three former officials said. Trump also seemed to invite Russia to interfere in other countries’ elections, they said.

    The previous day, Trump had fired Comey amid the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russia. White House aides worried about the political ramifications if Trump’s comments to the Russian officials became public.

    Trump had publicly ridiculed the Russia investigation as politically motivated and said he doubted Moscow had intervened in the election. By the time he met with Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump had been briefed by the most senior U.S. intelligence officials about the Russian operation, which was directed by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and included the theft and publication of Democratic emails and the seeded of propaganda in social-media, according to the findings of the U.S. intelligence community.

    Trump’s firing of Comey touched off an investigation into whether the president had tried to obstruct the FBI’s probe. His comments about Comey’s dismissal being a relief, which were first reported the same month by the New York Times, reinforced suspicions that Trump dismissed Comey because the FBI was investigating him.

    According to the fourth former official, Trump lamented to Lavrov that “all this Russia stuff” was detrimental to good relations. Trump also complained, “I could have a great relationship with you guys, but you know, our press,” this former official said, characterizing the president’s remarks.

    H.R. McMaster, the president’s then-national security adviser, repeatedly told Trump he could not trust the Russians, according to two former officials.

    On some areas, Trump conveyed U.S. policy in a constructive way, such as telling the Russians that their aggression in Ukraine was not good, one of those former officials said.

    “What was difficult to understand was how they got a free pass on a lot of things — election security and so forth,” this former official said. “He was just very accommodating to them.”

    The former official observed that Trump has “that streak of moral equivalency,” recalling how he once dismissed a question about the assassination of journalists and dissidents in Putin’s Russia by telling Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

    Another former official said Trump wasn’t the only one to conflate Russia’s interference in the U.S. elections with U.S. efforts to promote democracy and good governance abroad.

    The president and his top aides seemed not to understand the difference between Voice of America, a U.S.-supported news organization that airs in foreign countries, with Russian efforts to persuade American voters by surreptitiously planting ads in social media, this person said.

    One former senior official said Trump regularly defended Russia’s actions, even in private, saying no country is pure. “He was always defensive of Russia,” this person said, adding the president had never made such a specific remark about interference in their presence.

    “He thought the whole interference thing was ridiculous. He never bought into it.”

  150. tomh says

    WaPo Editorial:
    Trump’s anti-woman push puts America in the pantheon of human rights offenders

    By Editorial Board
    September 27 at 6:36 PM

    Can you judge a nation by the company it keeps?
    President Trump’s administration spearheaded a declaration at the United Nations this week calling for the elimination of allegedly “ambiguous” expressions in the body’s documents — primarily, “sexual and reproductive health.” These terms are often used to promote pro-abortion policies, the officials claimed, and “there is no international right to an abortion.” Joining the land of the free? Some of the least-free nations on the planet, from Russia to Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and 12 more.

    This, evidently, is what the anti-globalist “America First” philosophy the president hawked at this week’s U.N. General Assembly looks like: This country standing not only among but also in front of a pantheon of human rights offenders.

    The move is dispiriting but not surprising. The administration has been on a crusade to replace science-based approaches to women’s health with a focus to “defend life and family.” The State Department’s annual human rights reports have scrapped statistics on the rates of contraceptive access and maternal mortality worldwide. (Those statistics showed, among other things, that 8 percent of such deaths result from unsafe abortion.) The administration has massively expanded the gag rule that prevents organizations from receiving federal funds if they even mention abortion to clients, and it has imposed a similar stricture on providers at home.

    The United States even threatened in the spring to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution on rape amid armed conflict because it mentioned reproductive-health services for victims.

    All this runs counter to a robust body of research that stresses the dangerousness of stringent abortion restrictions. The U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a comment last year clarifying that international law’s right to life does include the right to an abortion for exactly that reason. States, the council said, can regulate voluntary terminations of pregnancy, but those regulations cannot jeopardize women’s lives or cause them undue suffering.

    Abortion access isn’t the only thing the Trump administration means to put under assault. The language it seeks to purge protects comprehensive services that give women control over their lives. Those services include contraceptive care, gender-based violence prevention and HIV treatment. The administration says it seeks to avoid terms that evade “ international consensus,” but that gets it backward: The international community has agreed for decades on the need for all people to have access to a panoply of reproductive services, and now the United States has banded with the notoriously oppressive to attempt a retroactive hecklers’ veto.

    Those who still believe in the liberal world order can take cold comfort in the likelihood that the rogue’s gallery won’t win on this one; 58 countries signed on to a counter-statement helmed by the Netherlands in favor of the status quo. But the episode has shown what’s in store for this nation and the world under Mr. Trump’s nationalist paradigm. Putting America first means putting it shoulder to shoulder with serial repressors. It also means putting women last.

  151. says

    tomh, thanks so much for #307 (and the reproductive rights piece)!

    “First on @ABC: AG Barr has been on official travel in Italy for the past two days, during a week where he has faced intensifying scrutiny over his role in how the DOJ handled the IC’s whistleblower complaint. It’s unclear why the trip was only just revealed.”

    Eric Columbus: “Let’s just say I’ve never heard of an Attorney General sneaking out of the country on ‘official travel’, unannounced. Seems very odd.”

    Where is he? Who’s he meeting with?

  152. says

    Kevin Kruse: “As bad as the revelations about Ukraine and Russia have been, it feels like the Saudi Arabia stuff is somehow going to be so much worse.”

    It’s both hard to imagine worse and…not. I wonder if any conversations with Netanyahu restricted in this way…

  153. says


    Yesterday the FEC chair tried to publish their weekly journal & was blocked. She says that’s unprecedented

    It has a draft rule re: foreign election interference

    So she tweeted the ENTIRE journal.

    Just putting that here…”

  154. says

    From text quoted by tomh @307:

    […] it appeared the president was forgiving Russia for an attack that had been designed to help elect him, the three former officials said. Trump also seemed to invite Russia to interfere in other countries’ elections, they said. […]

    Yep. That’s Trump. That’s the story in a nutshell.

  155. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 272:

    Mr. Giuliani also accused her of being a pawn of the New York financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor who backed a nonprofit anti-corruption group that worked in Ukraine. “The ambassador there is in the pocket of Soros,” he said in a March interview with The New York Times.

    Sheesh. Giuliani includes Soros in all of his whacko, bugnuts, spittle-flecked conspiracy theories.

  156. says

    Ben Wittes in Lawfare – “Collusion After the Fact”:

    …Shortly after the [WaPo story @ #307] broke, I received a message from a person directly involved with the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence and obstruction investigation of President Trump in the immediate aftermath of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. To say this person, who had clearly learned about the matter for the first time from the Post, was angered by the story would be to understate the matter.

    The message read in relevant part: “None of us had any idea. Multiple people had opportunity and patriotic reason to tell us. Instead, silence.”

    It is a big deal that the FBI did not know when it opened its investigation that the president—in addition to boasting about relieving pressure on himself by firing Comey—had specifically disclaimed concern over Russian electoral interference to senior Russian officials.

    The public already knew that the FBI was concerned about the national security implications of Comey’s dismissal when it opened its investigation in the chaotic days after the firing….

    In other words, the bureau was concerned, as the Times put it, about “whether [Trump] had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The bureau’s “counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”

    It seems obvious, in the context of these concerns, that information that the president informed Russian officials that he did not care about Russian election interference would have been key to this analysis on the FBI’s part—and, later, on the part of Robert Mueller.

    But it seems preponderantly likely that Mueller never learned of this information. His report includes plenty of material on Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak the day after Comey’s firing, including Trump’s comments that, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” And it includes detail about Trump’s exchange with an apparently concerned White House Counsel Don McGahn following the meeting. But there is nothing in the report about any comment by Trump informing the Russian delegation that he did not care about election interference. And there are no redactions in this section whatsoever where such information might be hiding.

    I don’t know for sure that Mueller never learned of this information, but I know his investigation began without it, and I know what is obviously to everyone who has read his report: that it plays no rule in his analysis of collusion. This raises a significant question to me about the completeness of the Mueller’s collusion analysis.

    I actually doubt that this fact would have fundamentally changed the criminal analysis in the Mueller report on “collusion.”…

    But it rather dramatically affects the “no collusion” narrative. And had Mueller been aware of it, I feel certain that it would have warranted investigation and discussion. The fact that nobody privy to the fact of its having happened came forward even though Comey had publicly announced that the bureau was investigating possible collusion represents—as my correspondent indicated—a triumph of omertà over patriotism.

  157. says

    Eric Lipton:

    Written as he prepared to head to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, VA… Sen. Lindsey Graham, R. of S.C., told his local South Carolina paper he would be playing golf today with Trump and talking about “what’s going on with the whistleblower.”

    Confirmation on that golf game, from White House pool reporter. “Today, President Donald J. Trump is playing golf with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and two legendary professional golfers, Gary Player and Annika Sörenstam.”

    At his for-profit club.

  158. tomh says

    Articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving? Pelosi wants to move ‘expeditiously’

    Short excerpt from the article:

    Pelosi and top Democrats hope to keep their impeachment inquiry narrowly focused on the Ukraine matter. Some want to prepare articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving and send them to the full House of Representatives by December, allowing the House to hold a floor vote on an impeachment before the new year.

    I really dislike this strategy. Pelosi seems to be so afraid that if the investigation bleeds into the election year, it will simply be seen as a partisan exercise. Or perhaps she doesn’t want it to get in the way of the Dem candidates. For whatever reason, Pelosi had to be dragged kicking and screaming to even get to this point.

    Unlike previous impeachment inquiries, there was no select committee to investigate, rather six committees under an impeachment “umbrella.” There was no vote in the full House to put an official stamp on the effort, also unlike previous impeachments, which gives the Republicans a cudgel to wield in court. These and other reasons have caused it to be labelled “impeachment light” by the LA Times, among others. And now this mad dash to get it over with, not to mention narrowly focusing on the Ukraine angle, is disheartening.

  159. says

    Guardian – “Jennifer Arcuri’s mystery £700,000 loan adds to pressure on Johnson”:

    Jennifer Arcuri, the entrepreneur whose friendship with Boris Johnson is the subject of a police watchdog investigation, loaned more than £700,000 to her own fledgling technology company shortly before it won a £100,000 government grant.

    It is unclear where the money channelled to Hacker House, a start-up with hardly any income, came from. This adds to the mystery swirling around the American businesswoman before this week’s Tory conference and raises further questions for the government.

    One person who knew Arcuri was “stunned” to learn that company accounts show her loaning Hacker House £713,354 last year. Other firms set up by Arcuri are in the red or have been dissolved. Her main company, Innotech Network, has negative assets of more than £350,000 and she is reportedly being sued in the US over an unpaid $100,000 student loan.

    Questions have now emerged as to how the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport established that the company was viable. The DCMS has admitted waiving a rule that any grant should not exceed half the company’s revenue. “The department needs to explain how their due diligence procedures were followed,” said Lib Dem MP Layla Moran.

    Department guidelines say grants are available only for companies based in the UK, and that trainees should remain and work here. Hacker House has given addresses in London and Macclesfield, but its website lists a California telephone number. Calls to a UK number are met by an answering service with an American accent.

    Arcuri and her husband, Matthew Hickey, originally listed their countries of residence as England and the UK respectively in Companies House filings in 2016 and 2017. Last Friday, following questions in parliament about the company, updated filings confirmed that the pair now list their country of residence as the US. Hacker House is one of several companies set up by Arcuri, who is now under scrutiny after allegations surfaced that Johnson was once a regular visitor to her flat in London’s Shoreditch….

    “Hacker House”?

  160. says

    Marina Hyde in the G – “Tory MPs beware: if you whip up an angry mob, they may end up angry with you”:

    …It is thanks to Cummings that the Palace of Westminster this week resembled a sort of meth-addled Hogwarts, and yet Conservative MPs cling to him even though they know he hates them….

    But listen, Tory mooks – I’m here to help. While you’re getting a tiki torch and standing a post, let me tell you what a “people vs parliament” election ultimately means for you. First, if you whip up an angry mob, why do you assume they won’t end up angry with you? Do you think the mob is going to come upon an MP and go, “Wait, wait – this is so-and-so. He voted for Meaningful Votes 2 and 3, so we should, you know, definitely not put our pitchforks up his arse”? Eventually, you’re going to get a pitchfork up your arse either way.

    To adapt that phrase of the alt-right to whom you tack closer every day: mobs don’t care about your feelings. If I had to come up with an adjective to help you understand mobs, it would probably be mob-like. Very mobby. Mobtastic. If you go to the country in a people v parliament election, you may indeed get elected and be part of a triumphant Tory majority. But when you have been elected, and when you’ve “got Brexit done” – which is to say, when you’ve either taken the UK off the no-deal cliff, or opened up the next however many painful years of trade negotiations fuckery-pokery, which is never going to solve the problems it is magically supposed to – you, then, are “parliament”.

    The even angrier people are then versus YOU. That’s when they come for you, because you asked them to. You invited them in. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this line “the revolution devours its children”? That’s you, babe. Second, I know you’ve already only read about one war, but bad news: it’s the wrong war. You need the first world war, not the second. By way of a crash course of what Dom’s got planned for you, take the line in Blackadder, where the general brays to the guys he’s sending over the top: “We’ll be right behind you!” and Blackadder mutters: “About 35 miles behind you.” You’re the cannon fodder, you’re the Twenty Minuters. But, hey – enjoy it out there.

    Third, as is blindingly obvious to everyone else, Cummings is one of those masterminds who hates his henchmen. He hates the Conservative party. He believes he’s surrounded by idiots. Again: that’s you, babe.

    What’s amazing, given he’s written all of this stuff down, and at length, is the selective deafness of the Tories going along with it. They hear the stuff Dom is saying about things being swept away. But they don’t hear the bits that will eventually mean them.

    Consider the irony of the European Research Group currently obeying a man who described them as a “narcissist-delusional subset”, adding: “You should be treated like a metastasising tumour and excised from the UK body politic.” It’s not a hugely opaque statement.

    More moderate Conservatives should realise where they’re travelling with this stuff. Some people just want to watch your bit of the world burn. You bow to them at your peril – and ours.

    More at the link.

  161. tomh says

    Because of course it’s all their fault.

    Trump campaign launches anti-impeachment blitz on Facebook, targeting four minority congresswomen
    By Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm
    September 27 at 4:46 PM

    President Trump’s reelection campaign responded to the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry in Congress by launching a massive Facebook ad blitz, spending as much as $1.4 million on thousands of ads designed to reach voters in every state.

    The online battery included misleading messages about the “socialist squad,” Trump’s epithet for the four congresswomen of color whom he previously directed to “go back” to their home countries, even though they are all American citizens.

    Some of the ads accused the freshman lawmakers of making “pro-terrorist remarks,” which they have not done, and pressed supporters to join Trump’s “official impeachment defense fund,” which he has also promoted in fundraising appeals sent by email and text message. The “squad” refers to Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), none of whom was mentioned by name.

    In total, the Trump campaign and its backers spent between $346,700 and $1,430,182 on more than 2,000 ads for its Facebook page from Monday to midday Friday, according to data analyzed by Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. She obtained the data through Facebook’s public ad archive, which reports all of its data in ranges, not precise figures. Those ads had been viewed between 13.3 million and 25.3 million times, the NYU analysis found.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday alone, the campaign shelled out about $500,000 on Facebook ads, according to figures tallied by ACRONYM, a digital outfit focused on liberal causes. On Wednesday alone it spent about $350,000, an amount it typically spends in a week.

    The online offensive offered a window into Trump’s bare-knuckle approach to the coming impeachment battles, as he took the showdown to his favored terrain: the Internet. Already, campaign officials say they have filled their coffers with contributions: Eric Trump, the president’s second son and the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said Thursday that the campaign had raised $8.5 million in the previous 24 hours.

    The Facebook ads, which traffic in claims found to be false by The Washington Post Fact Checker, also provided a new test for the technology giant after it reaffirmed this week it would exempt speech by politicians from fact checking. That exemption, company executives said, also applies to ads, though sponsored posts are required to meet community standards that proscribe threats as well as “content aimed at deliberately deceiving people to gain an unfair advantage or deprive another of money, property, or legal right.”

    On Friday, Facebook said none of the ads violated its policies, including those that prohibit dehumanizing speech, though the company did not detail its reasoning. A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

  162. says

    Benjamin Netanyahu is unable to form a new Israeli government and has given the mandate back to the president, the Jersualem Post reports.”

    Also – Jerusalem Post – “Mandelblit to fast-track decision on Netanyahu indictment”:

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal battle will move up a notch on Wednesday immediately after Rosh Hashanah, when his attorneys appear for his long-anticipated hearing with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.

    Netanyahu’s battery of lawyers will try to convince Mandelblit to cancel the planned indictment of the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, in the three cases known as 1000, 2000 and 4000, or at the very least to lessen the severity of the charges and convince the attorney-general to drop the bribery charge, the most severe of the suspicions.

    Mandelblit’s office is gearing up for the hearing and for the possibility that it will extend into Thursday as well. According to sources close to Mandelblit, the attorney-general plans to close himself off in the Justice Ministry with the approximately 20 prosecutors who have worked on the case with the aim of making a final decision on the indictment by the end of October or possibly the beginning of November.

    One possibility that Mandelblit and Justice Ministry officials are preparing for is that Netanyahu’s lawyers will present seemingly new evidence – not seen until now – as part of an effort to postpone the attorney-general’s decision and force him to ask the police to reopen some part of the investigation.

    Officials familiar with the cases against the prime minister have said that it was difficult to imagine a significant delay due to new evidence since the case has been thoroughly reviewed – numerous times – by the country’s most senior prosecutors led by Liat Ben-Ari, the main prosecutor who has accompanied the police throughout the investigation.

    Nevertheless, a postponement even if just by a few weeks to a couple of months could help Netanyahu if Israel goes to a new election….

    This is taking forever.