“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution…Mr. Trump must be held accountable — no one is above the law.”
(The president’s conduct revealed his) “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announcing formal impeachment inquiry (9/24/19)
“So: In order to get dirt on a political opponent, the president removed a U.S. ambassador, used (paid?) a private citizen to threaten a foreign government, personally called a foreign leader, and delayed disbursing appropriated funds for that nation. All to get dirt on Joe Biden.”
— Bill Kristol tweet (9/25/19)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (9/25/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
At 5 PM ET on September 24, 2019 Speaker Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry as a result of Trump’s manipulations of national security funding for Ukraine solely to influence their government into providing dirt on a political opponent.
Trump and his administration are caught lying, stonewalling Congress, withholding oversight information in violation of the law while attempting to strong-arm Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide politically advantageous dirt that would be used against former VP and Dem presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The leverage used on Zelensky was chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s holding back $400 million in military aid for Ukraine. Complicit with Mulvaney were Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Department of Defense/Pentagon. “Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an “interagency process” but give them no additional information – a pattern that continued for nearly two months…”
As Pelosi commented, on September 17 “the intelligence community inspector general formally notified Congress that the administration was forbidding him from turning over a whistle-blower complaint. On Constitution Day. This is a violation of law.”
The inspector general judged the whistleblower report to be of urgent concern.
As Thursday unfolded the number of House Representatives supporting impeachment increased dramatically with 71 new announcements, ending the day following Pelosi’s announcement at 206. 218 votes are needed for the House to vote to forward impeachment to the Senate for trial. A complete list of the 206 as well as the 131 ‘no, or note yet’ and 97 ‘no response’ can be found here.
Why this, why now? Pelosi has observed that this is an easy to present and comprehend Trump national security violation that has unfolded in a short period of time – bite-size collusion. Trump and his clown-lawyer Giuliani, the “(paid?) private citizen referred to by Kristol above, have in this short time repeated all of the components of Trump-Russia collusion in plain sight, reminding us again of Trump’s claim he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”.
Trump believes he is above the law. Of course Trump believes a lot of things, like the claim he made on Monday the he deserves a Nobel Prize. “I think I’m going to get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things, if they gave it out fairly, which they don’t”, said Trump.
And he didn’t get elected as the ‘chaos’ president for nothing, beyond being a stable genius he is incredibly open minded about how a democracy should conduct itself tweeting, “…if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair by right now.”
Trump will try to put the horse back in the barn over the next few days. He promises to release a transcript of a single call with Zelensky as ‘proof’ — maybe written with a Sharpie in handwriting suspiciously similar to Trump’s own. He promises to release a copy of the whistleblower report – redacted of course.
Trump is back using one of his oldie-but-goodie refrain, offering tweets as simple as “A total Witch Hunt”. But as Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI, former Republican) tweets in response, “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”.
One former Republican you say, but here is a 100-0 Senate vote demanding Trump release the whistleblower complaint. Even Senate Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell allowed the floor vote.
Trump in his now familiar way keeps changing the story of why he did (to Ukraine) what he admits he’s done. One new-each-day lines of defense is his concerns over corruption – ‘other countries not paying their fair share’, but more commonly, ‘possible Ukraine corruption over the use of the $400 million’ as pretenses (lies).
Since When Does Trump Care About Corruption?
Author Mona Charen’s sub-head is “Only when it distracts from his own self-dealing”. Wow, that’s literally a bulls-eye answer to her headline question. Then she drives the point further home. US Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi Arabians was my first reaction to Trump’s concern over corruption as well.
“Where was concern about corruption in the Philippines? In Egypt? In Turkey? In Russia? In Saudi Arabia? On the contrary, Trump has gone out of his way to excuse corruption – and worse – on the part of all of those nations. Trump praised the Philippines’ Duterte for his war on drugs, though that war has included the extra-judicial killings of thousands. He lauded Egypt’s al-Sisi (president till 2034), overlooking widely-reported human rights abuses. He suggested that we lacked moral standing to criticize Turkish president Erdogan’s handling of a coup attempt. “When the world sees how bad the United States is and we start talking about civil liberties, I don’t think we are a very good messenger.” Challenged to justify his kind words for Vladimir Putin, whom the interviewer described as “a killer,” Trump was phlegmatic: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” And when it became undeniable that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had ordered Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi to be chopped up into small pieces, President Trump noted that the Saudis have promised to buy a lot of American military equipment. (He did not add that they have also spent a pretty penny at Trump properties.)”
Beyond Trump’s faux ethics and morality is his school playground bullying.
‘No, you’re corrupt!’: why there’s method in Trump’s playground taunts.
But this sub-head by Tom McCarthy has a twist, “The president’s tactic of redirecting accusations of misconduct back at his accuser is childish, petty … and surprisingly effective.”
That’s right, the Trumpsters are coming at Biden and this is likely to be a make-or-break moment for his campaign. Biden debate performances suggest he won’t be ready, it will be a first round knock-down but maybe he’ll come up off the canvas to fight on. Even though the facts are on Biden’s side, with Trump it’s never about the facts. Robert Mackey for the Intercept presents Biden’s clean bill of health, like the fight doctor saying, “you’re good to go”, as the crowd cringes with anticipation. “A Republican Conspiracy Theory About a Biden-in-Ukraine Scandal Has Gone Mainstream. But It Is Not True.”
As I am finishing this column the early reports of the Trump phone transcript are being offered. Here’s a perfect summary of the mud wrestling we’ll see from Trump, Giuliani, Fox News et al:
“direct” Imagine thinking that clears you.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
“You don’t see a direct quid pro quo in this.” @BretBaier
Lawyer and never-Trumper George Conway clarifies, Trump’s ““reciprocal” = quid pro quo”.
More to the point, Republicans are worried about the transcript. Here’s a short video clip of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) offering, “it’s troubling in the extreme, it’s deeply troubling.”
Amash calls it “a devastating indictment of the president”.
BUT devastatingly Trump’s transcript has him offering up the services of his personal attorney general, “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”. Barr was already in hot water over his ‘secret’ legal ruling to “conceal the whistleblower complaint”. Remember, Barr testifying before Congress couldn’t remember if he’d been asked by the White House to open an investigation.
My own transcript summary: Zelensky – where are my military funds and equipment? Trump – first I have a favor to ask. By the time you read this column much will have happened in addition. Republicans do NOT want you to think this is a quid pro quo – we all know that because they sent their talking points to Democrats, read their game plan.
People working for Trump don’t last long; the turnover in his administration is off the graph. Now his latest crew – clown lawyer Giuliani, personal attorney general Barr, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Defense Secretary Esper, Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire – all are in on the scam. Trump’s new-found anti-corruption religion.
This will play out fast and ugly. We have one more piece, the [unofficial] transcript of one call, and it is not an exoneration. AND, Trump is back in court in Manhattan over the release of his taxes.
Keep an eye on the betting lines that the Senate convicts Trump – the odds are not as stacked as you might think.