52% of Americans now support Trump’s impeachment and removal.
— Latest Gallup poll (10/16/19)
“The Kurds are much safer right now.”
— Trump’s reality-free version of life in Twitter world (10/16/19)
“He’s a eunuch. He’s a patsy. He’s a credulous boob led by his ego and his dick.”
— Never-Trumper Rick Wilson tweet summarizing Trump’s foreign policy prowess.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (10/17/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Trump offers a challenge for summarizing his daily chaos into as few words as possible. At least he’s held to two major fronts of chaos for 72 hours while digging both holes deeper for himself. If it weren’t for Trump’s propensity to self-justify he’d never have been able to achieve 52% support for impeachment and removal. Trump reminds me of the old Shake N Bake TV commercials – his version is, “It’s Impeachment, And I Helped”.
Monday the big news was Trump’s gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight Ukraine shake-down withholding military aid for Ukraine in exchange for dirt on a political opponent. But Tuesday morning found him flipping the lead back to his abandonment of U.S. ally the Kurds while opening doors to Russia, Syria and Turkey with added consequence of ISIS prisoners and supporters escaping.
“Now I am an island of one again” was Trump’s quote from last edition. Trump is doubling down on his idiocy as always. Tuesday’s unfortunate TV prop for Trump is Italian president Sergio Mattarella – same formula, a foreign head of state has to endure a Q&A period between Trump and the media that had nothing to do with, in this case, Mattarella’s visit to the Oval Office. While Trump lies and riffs and self-justifies while attacking anyone of a different opinion.
Trump is now even attacking the Kurds and justifying his abandonment of them. Our allied troops fighting ISIS is now characterized as “not angels” by Trump. Of course there is no explanation. He’s sending VP Pence, Sec. of State Pompeo and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) off to Turkey to bring Erdogan back into line after Trump’s greenlighting of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria to attack the Kurds.
“He also tacitly condoned Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, even as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to end the conflict, comments Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham said undermines their mission.”
Trump says, “no, President Erdogan’s decision didn’t surprise me”. A rare moment of honesty since Trump was on the phone with Erdogan in advance agreeing to his invasion. With his signature Trumpian inanities, he offers, “That has nothing to do with us. They’ve got a lot of sand over there … There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” While also reinforcing his prideful moment of trading our military support to Saudi Arabia for cash , “paying…100%”.
Trump blandly assures us, “The Kurds are much safer right now”.
But then it got even worse, “PKK (Kurds) are a greater threat than ISIS.” That’s a straight-up Erdogan talking point.
Erdogan announces he’ll meet with Putin but not with Trump errand boy Vice President Mike Pence. And Erdogan says, “we will never have a cease-fire (in northeast Syria)”.
Sen. Lindsey Graham tweets, “I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision.”
But Graham also tweeted this about Trump’s statements compromising their trip to Turkey to meet Erdogan, “The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict.”
You can also see Graham admit that Trump is committing impeachable offenses just before he escapes cameras for the safety of his office. It must be hard to be Lindsey.
Trump hands over US military outposts to Putin
Rick Noack summarizing for the Washington Post lists the ‘winners’ (Turkey, Iran, Russia, Syrian Assad regime, ISIS), ‘losers’ (U.S., Kurdish forces) and how we got here – which in my words is, “Trump did it”.
The Russian pictures and videos from Syria show Russian flags flying over U.S. military outposts. You can find Russian video narrated while walking through an outpost and seeing how U.S. troops were housed and what they left behind.
You’d think — hope — hawkish Republicans would be outraged, but instead “Republicans drop their revolt against Trump on Syria” Sub-head: GOP lawmakers are eager to avoid a breach with the president.
But it’s not just Trump’s Putin-Erdogan beneficial foreign policy. Trump’s Ukraine ‘dirt’ quid pro quo continues to unfold as a full-on Giuliani pro-Erdogan influence campaign. Remember, it was convicted former Trump NSA advisor Mike Flynn who was illegally lobbying for Turkey/Erdogan to have Erdogan foe and cleric Fethullah Gulen removed from the U.S. and returned to Turkey. There was even a Flynn plot to kidnap Gulen.
Well, it’s déjà vu all over again:
Last edition I carried the story of Trump pushing then Sec. of State Tillerson to support a Giuliani plan to end prosecution of a Turkish man accused of business dealings in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. Now we have Giuliani picking up where Flynn left off to benefit Erdogan:
“The former New York mayor brought up Gulen so frequently with Trump during visits to the White House that one former official described the subject as Giuliani’s “hobby horse.” He was so focused on the issue — “it was all Gulen,” recalled a second former official — that White House aides worried that Giuliani was making the case on behalf of the Turkish government, former officials said.
““We’re not going to arrest [Gulen] to do a solid for Erdogan,” the second official said, describing the internal thinking.
“However, Trump appeared receptive to the idea, pressing his advisers about Gulen’s status, the people said.”
Trump and Giuliani are in a Ukraine-world of trouble. We’ve already seen the announcements of a federal investigation of Giuliani. We now learn more about the investigation with news of a $500,000 payment from Giuliani’s arrested Ukraine associate Lev Parnas. But the source of the money is unknown and the work resulting in the payment is under question.
We know that some of the money Parnas spread around found its way to former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) who in turn pushed for the removal of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovitch; now Sessions has been subpoenaed.
The worst news for Giuliani may well be this:
Beyond Trump’s call with Zelensky, in addition to the investigation with Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman, additional investigation is focused on work Giuliani did lobbying the Ukraine government “on behalf of a small town in the eastern part of the country.”
Even more serious for Trump-Giuliani, if there is such a thing, “Bombshell testimony shows alarm over White House-Ukraine shadow diplomacy was early and deep”. Trump’s former Russian advisor was one of many now testifying before Congress in closed sessions. Fiona Hill was told by former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton to “tip off the White House lawyers about the activities of Giuliani and others”. Bolton said Giuliani “was a “hand grenade” who was “going to blow everybody up””. Bolton also warned Hill “that he would not get caught up in what he referred to as a “drug deal” being cooked up on Ukraine by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney”.
While not a surprise, Trumpsters are now forced by deadlines to clarify, “Pence, Giuliani will not cooperate with impeachment inquiry”. Giuliani had been subpoenaed for documents, Pence had been requested to provide documents – neither intend to cooperate.
There are more current and former State Department persons testifying. Trump’s EU Ambassador and $1 million Trump inauguration donor Gordon Sondland is set to testify on today. Sondland is already on record of saying this about Trump’s denial of a quid pro quo with Ukraine president Zelensksy, “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth.” A review of all current upcoming appearances can be found here.
One final note, Propublica has obtained Trump business reports that “show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.” No surprise and let’s hope we eventally see his tax returns.
But I will end where I started: “Trump’s moves in Ukraine and Syria have a common denominator: Both help Russia”
“Because of his weird desire to please Vladimir Putin, Trump keeps doing things that are not in our interest,” said Evelyn Farkas, a former senior Pentagon official responsible for Russia and Ukraine during the Obama administration who has been critical of Trump.”