CNN poll: 51% say Senate should remove Trump from office; 69% say trial should feature testimony from new witnesses.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (1/27/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
As expected, some of the more interesting Impeachment developments happened outside the confines of the Senate process. The biggest news dismantles yet another Trump lie and sets the starting date for the eventual removal of US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch at April 30, 2018.
It turns out Trump does know his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, as confirmed by this 2018 Fruman-recorded dinner conversation at the Trump D.C. Hotel.
ABC News broke the story and released the audio of the taped conversation. During the free-flowing dinner conversation Parnas shares that Yovanovitch has been “bad-mouthing” Trump, an accusation Parnas later recants. But at the dinner, Trump reacts:
“Get rid of her!” is what the voice that appears to be Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
Yovanovitch is not removed for another year. At the dinner Trump turned to his deputy chief of staff at the time, John DeStefano, and says, “fire her”. Parnas says DeStefano explained, “We can’t do that right now because (Sec. of State) Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed yet”.
Just last week Trump replied when asked about Parnas, “I don’t know him”. Parnas is cooperating with the House Impeachment effort. The recording also challenges another Trump claim made by his lawyer Jay Sekulow crediting Trump with supporting Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles, but the recording demonstrates that Trump was learning about this support after the fact.
Trump lied: He knows both Parnas and Fruman. It’s also stunning to realize, Fruman recorded the dinner. Trump trusted Parnas and wanted to act on his advice by firing Yovanovitch as early as April 2018.
The dinner conversation also underscores the criticality of US aid to Ukraine with an assessment that Russia would overrun Ukraine without this support. (The full recording is here.) Trump knew he had Ukraine over the barrel.
The Impeachment trial is under way. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) rules are contrary to what the public wants for fairness. The Dems have offered their case, the Republican defense began Saturday and the drama over the possibility of witnesses or release of documents is still there. At the same time, one possible outcome is no witnesses, no documents and a final vote as early as Friday, prior to Trump’s February 4 State of the Union address.
It’s worth repeating a remark I made in the last edition, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) did a masterful job. You can hear the final 8 minutes of his final delivery here.
Schiff makes the point that Trump ‘did it’, something the public believes as well. A point Schiff underscores is the advisers that have Trump’s ear – Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman, Putin — but not Trump’s own administration, intelligence groups, the FBI. Schiff attacks Trump, highlighting the danger of his decisions and our inability to trust Trump to do anything beyond what is in his own interest.
“Can you have the least bit of confidence that Donald Trump will stand up to them and protect our national interest over his own personal interest?” Mr. Schiff said. “You know you can’t, which makes him dangerous to this country.’’
By comparison, the defense of Trump began Saturday morning and the best you can say for it is that it was fast-paced and short. And deeply flawed with false assertions.
The defense wasn’t really a defense over whether Trump did what he is accused of. White House counsel Pat Cipollone announced, “We don’t anticipate using that much time… They are here to perpetrate the most massive interference of an election in American history. You can’t allow that to happen.” Defense logic included gems like claiming the Whistleblower complaint (that again?) is invalid because we don’t know the identity.
One of the oddest defenses of Trump was offered outside the hearing by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “All I can tell you is from the president’s point of view, he did nothing wrong in his mind.”
The Senate feels like another world, an anachronism, disconnected from rest of us. Republican Senators offered some major harrumphing over a Schiff comment of a Trump threat against Republican Senators reported by CBS News of “your head will be on a pike” to keep them in line. Schiff did add, “I don’t know if that is true”. But some Republican Senators broke the process rule for silence and replied, “not true”. Afterwards Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “I thought he was doing fine with moral courage until he got to the head on a pike. That’s where he lost me.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said, “He basically offended every Republican senator in there tonight”. Oh my, that is serious, isn’t it?
Presidential threat and Republican cowardice
On Saturday, the day after Schiff’s closing remarks, prior to the start of the GOP defense, Trump tweeted, “Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!
BUT EVEN WORSE, on Sunday morning Trump tweeted, “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”
Not paid the price, yet?
This smacks of Trump’s threatening remark about Yovanovitch on his call with Zelensky, “she’s going to through some things”. And she did – she left Ukraine ‘immediately’ being advised she was at risk and possibly under surveillance.
There was no moral outrage offered by GOP Senators in response to Trump’s tweets. Worse, here’s Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) thought on the matter: “I don’t think it’s a death threat. I don’t think he’s encouraging a death threat.”
Supine support and slavish defense for Trump has sunk to the level of: “I don’t think it’s a death threat.”
With every day, a new lie, a new illegal act
Make no mistake, the GOP defense is aimed at the GOP Senators, just like Trump’s ‘head on pike’ threat. The Dem case is argued for the American public – an act to educate and possibly move the needle for the real impeachment final decision – the 2020 election.
GOP Senators are in their own partisan bubble. At times I would watch the Dems present the case against Trump and try to listen as if I was a GOP Senator. I’d cherry pick any possible flaw to build my talking points about how the case wouldn’t sway me to vote to Remove – it’s easy, you only need a short paragraph. You don’t even have to work at it, someone will hand it to you. But if it were me, I’d work on it while paying attention instead of reading a book like Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in violation of process rules.
But with a new ‘low’ every day, a new lie, a new illegal act, another act of obstruction, only GOP Senators from purple states have to work. Senators from Red states don’t have to work to defend. Like Trump, his administration and Red state GOP Senators no longer hide their disdain for anyone that disagrees.
Pompeo screamed and swore at well-respected NPR journalist Mary Louise Kelly on Friday. Kelly questioned Pompeo over Ukraine and his lack of support for his ambassador, Yovanovitch. After the interview Pompeo screamed, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” He then produced an unlabeled map and demanded she point out Ukraine, which she of course was able to do. But of course he also did what Trump and Trumpsters do, the next day he doubled down and accused the “absence of integrity” of the media.
It’s not so shocking when you think about it. Any Trumpster has already sold their soul, they defend the indefensible – and they know it. It has to be soul crushing, and we – the other – or the media are how they vent their frustration. It’s ugly, it’s scary, it’s dangerous.
Schiff is right, we can’t trust Trump and he is dangerous to this country.
Impeach And Remove!
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )