You’ve been Trumped again America, (ODT)
On Thursday, Acting (of course) Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan admitted to reporters that 70 miles of ‘new’ wall on the US-Mexico border are actually replacing old barriers.
The amount of “new” wall built so far?
Trump has taken it to his own privatised Courtroom. It’s where all his appeals will land (ODT)
In a jaw-dropping operational security lapse, President Donald Trump discussed his demand for Ukraine to open investigations of Joe Biden and other Democrats in a cellphone conversation with an American diplomat who was in a restaurant in Ukraine at the time, the House impeachment inquiry was told on Wednesday.
Trump’s appalling operational security is notable because, during the 2016 presidential campaign, he frequently accused Hillary Clinton of having committed a crime and compromised national security by using a private email account as secretary of state. Since taking office, however, Trump has reportedly continued to make calls on his iPhones, even after warnings from American intelligence officials that Russian and Chinese spies are regularly eavesdropping on his calls.
Giuliani will be thrown under a bus (ODT)
he took a call with Trump in a restaurant. The call was about the Ukraine situation, and people at the restaurant table were able to hear it was Trump and some of the content of the call. (If this was Sondland’s personal phone you can bet the Russians heard it, too.)
Criminal investigations, as Chuck and I know, you build by taking these depositions, getting their testimony. Now Sondland has already had to come back once and say, oh, I forgot some stuff, here it is. Now he’s going to have to come back and say, oh, I forgot about that call I had with the President of The United States on my cellphone.
“Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which [Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for,” Taylor testified, referring to the presidential lawyer and former New York City mayor, who had been conducting a back-channel effort in Ukraine on Trump’s behalf.
According to an astounding report by the Washington Post, Republicans have (yet another) brand-new strategy to defend President Donald Trump from impeachment—and it involves throwing Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland, and “possibly” Mick Mulvaney under the bus. Under this new approach, Republicans would essentially acknowledge what has become obvious to everyone: that Trump’s henchmen really did demand that Ukraine investigate Democrats in return for military aide and a White House meeting. But, Republicans insist, Trump himself knew nothing about the scheme:
Fake News Trump pulled out of Syria (ODT)
The anonymous author of a widely anticipated book on the Trump White House has described the US president as spiraling from crisis to crisis “like a 12-year-old in an air traffic control tower”, according to scathing extracts published by the Washington Post on Thursday.
The unnamed author, identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration”, also says that colleagues considered resigning en masse in order to raise alarm about the president’s conduct, but ultimately decided against it, according to the Post.
The abandonment of about a dozen outposts across northeastern Syria likely constitutes the largest mass closure of military bases of the Trump presidency. (Since the Pentagon refuses to provide an accurate count of overseas outposts, however, there’s no way to make certain of that.) Still, while this reduction of outposts in Syria is significant, it hardly constitutes a substantial drawdown of U.S. forces in the region (especially at a moment when President Trump may be sending tanks and armored vehicles, with all the necessary supporting forces, into the area around Syria’s oil fields). With the president either reshuffling troops in Syria or merely relocating them elsewhere in the Middle East and a new contingent of American forces deploying to Saudi Arabia, there will actually be a net gain in U.S. troops in the region at this moment of supposed reduction.
Republicans and even Trump was wrong in thanking Tim Morrison (ODT)
The witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, is a decorated Iraq War veteran who advises the National Security Council on Ukraine and Russia. According to his prepared testimony, Vindman notified White House lawyers on two occasions in July that President Donald Trump and his aides had politicized aid to Ukraine, by pressing Ukraine’s president to help smear Democrats in return for nearly $400 million in security assistance.
While Republicans leaned in to the anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty, framing Vindman in a manner once used to attack the French army captain Alfred Dreyfus — a Jewish French army officer falsely accused and convicted of spying for Germany in 1894 — the colonel told the House inquiry that he had a refugee’s “deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom.”
cost savings to bringing the troops home, but he put up spending on the Department of Defense $130 billion a year. The 2015 Defense budget was $586 billion and that in 2019 was $716 billion.
Trump declares all American Institutions corrupt and therefore has the right of executive privilige. The right od a Dictator (ODT)
By contrast, the new report paints a picture of widespread opposition to the president’s actions within his own White House.
Four, and possibly more, national security officials in the White House were concerned about Trump’s actions, according to the report, both before and after the president’s now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the call, Trump strongly indicated that U.S. assistance to Ukraine could be contingent on Zelensky giving him what he wanted, specifically: investigations into the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden.
What’s not so obvious is that this conspiracy extends to the rule of law. According to this skewed version of reality, corruption has penetrated the bedrock institutions of American society: the political sphere, the intelligence agencies, the mainstream media. Corruption has transformed the very fabric of politics, culture, and law.
To root out corruption, then, it’s necessary to step outside the rule of law. Donald Trump hasn’t declared a state of emergency. But he is acting as if he has (which, in case you’re wondering, is illegal). His decision not to cooperate with congressional inquiries, including the most recent impeachment inquiry, is also part of this unstated state of emergency.
It’s all OBSTRUCTION of a Co-Joint Congressional Committee (ODT)
The waning of American Democracy and power in less than 3 years. The moral bankruptcy of a Nation in full relief (ODT)
The Trump administration has blocked a planned deposition from Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union and a central figure in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to a statement by his lawyer.
Republican talking points have focused on denying that there was an explicit quid pro quo in Trump’s phone call, even though the White House readout has him saying, “The United States has been very, very good for Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily” and asking for a “favor.” But Taylor’s texts indicate that, as the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, he interpreted Trump’s message as an invitation to trade a politically motivated investigation for U.S. assistance and a White House visit.
When he isn’t raving about how the deep state is conspiring against him, Donald Trump loves to boast about the economy, claiming to have achieved unprecedented things. As it happens, none of his claims are true. While both GDP and employment have registered solid growth, the Trump economy simply seems to have continued a long expansion that began under former president Barack Obama. In fact, someone who looked only at the past 10 years of data would never guess that an election had taken place.
It should be underlined, though, that the possibilities for foreign interference in US elections is a much bigger phenomenon than simply this sort of organized-crime style arm twisting by a president.
The Republican-majority Supreme Court has gutted campaign finance law and has allowed essentially anonymous money to flood into campaigns. The Roberts court, in striking down McCutcheon v. FEC”> in McCutcheon v. FEC limits on individual spending on campaigns, opened the door to Donald Trump to simply buy the 2016 election. If he had tried to do that in the 1990s he’d have gone to jail just for that infraction.
In addition, since the money is anonymous, it can be foreign. I wrote on this issue earlier,
It’s legal because I’m President. I can rob a bank shoot you it’s legal (ODT)
Show your hand Giuliani or fold (ODT)
“You’ve heard President Trump talk. That’s President Trump,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. Richard Nixon, who resigned in the midst of the Watergate impeachment inquiry because his party began to abandon him.
“The big difference between this and Watergate is “It was a bipartisan effort and you certainly don’t have that here.”
Trump’s hold on the Republican Party makes it nearly impossible to foresee a scenario in which the GOP-controlled Senate convicts Trump if he were impeached by the Democratic-run House.
The president is acutely well aware that it’s his party alone that can protect him. In the midst of the past week’s firestorm, he tweeted to Republicans: “Stick together, play their game and fight hard Republicans.”
He later deleted the tweet.
Still, when Joe Biden went to Ukraine, he was not trying to protect his son — quite the reverse.
The then-vice president issued his demands for greater anti-corruption measures by the Ukrainian government despite the possibility that those demands would actually increase – not lessen — the chances that Hunter Biden and Burisma would face legal trouble in Ukraine.
Giuliani, Trump, and their lackeys began spreading the false accusation that Biden had traveled to Ukraine to blackmail the government and force officials to fire the country’s chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to derail an investigation into Burisma.
Shokin had been forced from office at Biden’s urging because he had failed to thoroughly investigate corruption and stifled efforts to expose embezzlement and misconduct by public officials. Biden did threaten to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless Shokin was ousted. But that was because Shokin had blocked serious anti-corruption investigations, not because he was investigating Burisma.
The whistleblower who revealed that President Donald Trump sought foreign help for his reelection and that the White House sought to cover it up is a CIA officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity.
The man has since returned to the CIA, the people said. Little else is known about him. His complaint made public on Thursday suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.
The department’s criminal division reviewed the matters and concluded that there was no basis for a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s behavior. Law enforcement officials determined that the reconstructed transcript of the call did not show that Mr. Trump had violated campaign finance laws by soliciting from a foreign national a contribution, donation or thing of value.
If history is a fair judge (and if humankind even has a history after Trump and his minions finish destroying the environment), Barr will be remembered as the most corrupt, treacherous, mendacious, and treasonous attorney general in American history.
And when I say treasonous, I mean treasonous. Ever since he obtained the attorney general’s office, Barr has used it for one purpose: To cover up the criminality of Trump.
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There are plenty of reasons the White House might not want the whistleblower complaint to come out. It could have more details that go beyond what’s in a transcript. It might have other instances of impropriety by the president.
The whistleblower complaint absolutely has to come out. It’s very clear that Congress not only has a right but has a responsibility to this material.
On Thursday night, the Post reported that the complaint “centers on Ukraine,” fueling speculation it is related to the Trump team’s public efforts to compel that nation’s government to reopen an investigation with the intention of damaging the 2020 presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden. In a combative CNN interview later that night, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed that he had “ask[ed] Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.”
It’s early in the life of this story and while the reporting thus far seems ominous, there are a host of unanswered questions.
Trump is the puppet of darker forceshere at play (ODT)
As for Trump himself, German sees in the president a man whose entire life and business history, not to mention his associates, reeks of potential criminal liability. And still, he seemed to generate a considerable amount of wealth and obtain the most powerful position in the world without a serious look from the FBI along the way. “The practical immunity Trump and his retinue enjoyed as they amassed wealth and power also gives lie to his supporters’ contention that Mueller, Comey, and the FBI somehow had it in for Trump and manufactured a case against him,” German writes. “The failure to prioritize the economic crimes of the politically powerful left the nation vulnerable to a hostile foreign nation’s effort to delegitimize U.S. elections. This is exactly the sort of threat a domestic intelligence agency is supposed to protect against.”