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Trumpdates: Bolton vs. Mulvaney Goes to Court

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 11, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 11, 2019 |


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3:40 p.m. — The Bolton lawsuit is getting interesting, as he has filed a motion to block Mick Mulvaney from joining the suit seeking to find out whether he has to or can testify over the White House objections. Again, Bolton is filing suit to see if he can testify, while Mulvaney is joining the lawsuit seeking to avoid testifying. It’s complicated because Mulvaney and Bolton are on opposite sides of the Ukraine issue, and it is doubly complicated because Mulvaney may have to testify anyway, because by saying in a press conference that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo, he may have waived his right to Presidential immunity.

Mr. Mulvaney did not ask Mr. Bolton or Mr. Kupperman for permission to join the lawsuit nor did he give them a heads up. Mr. Bolton and his team considered it an outrageous move since they were on opposite sides of the Ukraine fight and did not want their lawsuit polluted with Mr. Mulvaney.

A judge is expected to decide the motion at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, several media outlets are filing a motion seeking to listen in on that phone call.

Meanwhile, Giuliani was overheard loudly discussing plans to start an impeachment podcast, because 2019 will never end.


There’s genuinely not a lot of movement on in Trump world this morning, save for the revelation yesterday that John Kelly and Rex Tillerson tried to recruit Nikki Haley to “save the country” by undermining Trump (she declined to save the country and now look where we are *waves arms at world*).

So, we’ll go with some odds and ends this morning. Oh, also: Hi! Good morning! It’s good to see you back. I hope you have a great Veteran’s Day, whether you are at work or not.

— Trump said on Friday that he’s thinking about attending Russia’s May Day festivities on Putin’s invitation. The festivities basically celebrate the might of the Russian army.

“President Putin invited me,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “It’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war, etc., etc. A very big deal. I appreciate the invitation. It is in the middle of our political season, so I will see if I can do it, but I would love to go if I could.”

Biden was flabbergasted.

— Greg Jaffe over at The Post was nice enough to read all the transcripts from last week, and his topline assessment seems to kind of sort of jibe with Lindsey Graham’s assessment of Trump, which is to say: He’s dumb as hell.

In the nearly 3,000 pages of interviews from the House impeachment inquiry released last week, President Trump often seems like a supporting character in someone else’s drama.

Aides struggle to please him. They fret about his fits of rage and do their best to anticipate his ever-shifting impulses and desires. Trump is an unseen and mercurial presence.

“President Trump changes his mind on what he wants on a daily basis,” said Gordon Sondland, the Trump megadonor-turned-diplomat who sought to help Ukraine’s new leader — desperate for American aid and an Oval Office meeting with Trump — understand what the president actually wanted from him.

I would note, however, that being too stupid to President is not a defense. Putting a crime into motion and changing your mind and then changing your mind again is not a defense. What’s glaringly obvious from the transcripts is that his aides — at his insistence — withheld aid because Trump wanted Zelensky to announce to the world on CNN that his Democratic opponent was under investigation.

Speaking of The Post, it’s the national newspaper I trust the most, and I actually don’t think that Bezos meddles with the editorial direction of the paper, despite what Trump thinks. I will note, however, that it was Bezos who apparently convinced Bloomberg to reconsider and run for President next year, because Bezos is afraid of Elizabeth Warren, because Elizabeth Warren poses a threat to his checkbook (Trump has actually benefited his checkbook, I’m sure). Hopefully, coverage on The Post does not change to reflect that threat.

Also, it should be a crime to hoard that much money. Honest to God.

— Finally (for now): John Bolton continues to be a very intriguing presence in the impeachment drama. He refuses to testify until a court says that he can; the House has decided to skip him because they don’t want to deal with a protracted court fight. However, Bolton really seems to want to testify, because his lawyer teased on Friday that Bolton knows a lot that the House does not yet know about the situation. He also apparently took very good notes. From Axios:

These sources, including both current and former senior administration officials, tell me that the former national security adviser was the most prolific note-taker at the top level of the White House and probably has more details than any impeachment inquiry witness, so far, about President Trump’s machinations on Ukraine …

The unease inside the administration has been churning ever since staff learned that Bolton had signed a book deal to tell about his time working for Trump. Bolton’s book deal is worth $2 million, per AP, which suggests he’s willing to dish.

Bolton filed a separation-of-powers lawsuit to determine whether a subpoena from Congress overrides the demands of the White House not to testify. One gets the feeling that Bolton wants the suit to rule in favor of him being able to testify. However, on Friday Mick Mulvaney threw a wrench in the works by joining the lawsuit against Bolton’s wishes. Mulvaney obviously doesn’t want to testify, so his lawyers may put forward a more forceful argument than those of Bolton, which may prevent Bolton from doing what it appears he wants to do: Be the nail in the coffin of Trump’s presidency.

Also, I’m not going to make you guys look at a photo of Trump or Bolton all day. It’s Veteran’s Day. Let’s honor our service people with a photo of Lance Corporal Adam Driver.



Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.


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