9:20: The NYTimes has learned more about the whistleblower complaint and it is real bad.
The intelligence officer who filed a whistle-blower complaint about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine raised alarms not only about what the two men said in a phone call, but also about how the White House handled records of the conversation, according to two people briefed on the complaint.
The whistle-blower, moreover, identified multiple White House officials as witnesses to potential presidential misconduct who could corroborate the complaint, the people said — adding that the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, interviewed witnesses.
Mr. Atkinson eventually concluded that there was reason to believe that the president may have illegally solicited a foreign campaign contribution — and that his potential misconduct created a national security risk, according to a newly disclosed Justice Department memo.
“The second concern Mr. Atkinson identified, according to the Justice Department memo, was that Mr. Trump’s potential misconduct might expose him ‘to serious national security and counterintelligence risks.’”
It is true, however, that the whistleblower is not a Trump fan, and it is also true that he did not hear the phone call first hand. But he did hear about the phone call from an unidentified White House official who suggested that Trump had abused his authority.
In sum, Trump f**ked up, the DOJ tried to cover it up, and there are witnesses.
7:25: According to ABC News (via Axios): “An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told ABC News on Wednesday that President Trump’s desire for the two leaders to discuss a possible investigation into Joe Biden was a precondition for their now-infamous July 25 phone call.”
via ABC News:
“It was clear that [President Donald] Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an anti-corruption advocate and former member of Ukraine’s Parliament, who now acts as an adviser to Zelenskiy. “This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”
Three Republicans are at least looking askance now (Susan Collins, meanwhile, is like, “It raises questions.” Ahem.)
Romney says it's "troubling in the extreme."— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 25, 2019
Toomey says it's "inappropriate."
Sasse, who has now reviewed the complaint, says it's "really troubling."
Getting tougher for GOP to argue there's no there, there.
5:40: A few members of Congress have now seen the whistleblower complaint and reactions are starting to come in.
Rep. Mike Quigley on the whistleblower complaint: “It is extraordinarily detailed and it is very, very well done. … It reinforces the concerns that what we previously learned and I think it is a blueprint for what we still need to know” pic.twitter.com/mrdgVKuupq— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 25, 2019
Schiff: After reviewing the #whistleblowercomplaint "certainly provides" information to follow-up on with other witnesses and documents. "I want to thank the whistleblower for coming forward." pic.twitter.com/vTDQZVPX3N https://t.co/NO7ndaXt53— 🆃🅷🅸🅽🅺🅴🆁 (@someknew) September 25, 2019
Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has read the whistleblower complaint. He tells CNN the complaint "is a five-alarm concern for me." The complaint was "laid out in a professional way" and gives the Committee further evidence to seek other witnesses.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 25, 2019
For funsies, watch this:
Fox show completely implodes when Juan Williams notes that conservative media is regurgitating talking points from the White House pic.twitter.com/EZ13ChimO6— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) September 25, 2019
5:01: Members of Congress are reportedly reviewing the whistleblower complaint. Meanwhile, Trump is giving a press conference in front of the U.N., and he’s just rambling and lying (in fact, MSNBC pulled away from the press conference and basically said, ‘Nope.’) Here’s a taste. Warning: May rot brain.
Trump took one question. He didn't answer it, but instead offered some conspiratorial gibberish. Now Mike Pompeo is talking. pic.twitter.com/HcdjUMCvNM— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2019
3:40: The House and Senate will be able to review the whistleblower complaint today at 4 p.m.
3:05: Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence, who had been instrumental in holding up the whistleblower complaint, has apparently threatened to resign if the White House will not let him speak freely to Congress. He’s due to speak to Congress tomorrow.
Current and former U.S. officials told WaPo that Joseph Maguire "warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress, where he is scheduled to testify in open and closed hearings on Thursday." https://t.co/czvBjCwJi4— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 25, 2019
(Maguire has since denied the reporting on that from The Washington Post. I do not believe him.)
Meanwhile, Trump and Zelensky — who looks like he’s a bit out of his depth (poor guy was only a President on a television show before 2019) — spoke together with the press, and Zelensky sort of hemmed and hawed and was like, “Leave me out of it,” and Trump was like, “See? I did nothing wrong!”
ZELENSKY: I think you read text. I'm sorry but I don't want to be involved to democratic elections of USA. … we had I think good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. So I think you read it that nobody pushed me.— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) September 25, 2019
TRUMP: In other words, no pressure. pic.twitter.com/G9SJKSOKUK
This is unrelated to impeachment proceedings, but WTF?:
that look when POTUS urges you to get together with the leader of a country that illegally invaded yours and is still occupying your territory pic.twitter.com/md8AIWsj1N— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2019
Trump says he would like Zelensky to get together with Putin to solve their problems.— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) September 25, 2019
Reminder that Putin illegally ordered his military to sieze Crimea from Ukraine and then illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. That’s why Russia was kicked out of the G7 (then G8).
Meanwhile, what the goddamn hell?
Oh nothing, just the president of the United States announcing that Nancy Pelosi is no longer Speaker of the House. pic.twitter.com/WnLkdPJ1Wg— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) September 25, 2019
1:45: Crowdstrike makes a couple of appearances in the memo between Trump and Zelensky, and if you are wondering what it is a reference to, it’s a big old conspiracy theory and Zelensky probably had no f**king idea what Trump was talking about when Trump brought it up.
In the briefest terms possible, Crowdstrike is a cybersecurity firm based in California. It investigated the Sony hack as well as the hack into the DNC and determined that the Russians were responsible and turned over all their findings to the FBI. Trump, however, wrongly believes that Crowdstrike withheld from the FBI a DNC server that indicated that it wasn’t the Russians who were responsible and that Crowdstrike is hiding that server in Ukraine, even though Crowdstrike has nothing to do with Ukraine. Trump wrongly believes that Crowdstrike is based in Ukraine. He also apparently still somehow believes that the Russians were not behind the DNC hack.
Crowdstrike officials are as baffled as anyone to be associated with the phone call between Trump and Zelensky.
Why would Trump believe this wild conspiracy theory? Because Trump reads right-wing Twitter, which has also tied Crowdstrike to the Seth Rich conspiracy.
#Crowdstrike is the Google company the DNC paid to "examine" their servers; after refusing to turn them over to the FBI.— Jon 🌍 (@jonle86) September 25, 2019
The Dems are panicked in the extreme because Trump asked Ukraine to look into the matter.
MAKE. IT. TREND.
Auntie Maxine looks a little sick to her stomach does she know that #crowdstrike has the information about the payments for Seth rich is murder ….she must Because that’s why she looks sick— Hillarykilledsethrich (@Hillarykilleds2) September 25, 2019
Seth Rich deserves answers. #CrowdStrike— JUSTIN (@JUSTIN54586535) September 25, 2019
#Crowdstrike used by the democrats to cover up their crimes. Seth rich leaked the DNC emails to wikileaks. DNC refused FBI to investigate who stole the emails instead asked a Ukrainian company Crowdstrike to examine the DNC servers. Cover-up.— Juan Rivera (@JuanRiv33) September 25, 2019
It is a wild conspiracy theory, but the fact that Trump was trying to get the President of Ukraine to dig up a DNC server that does not exist once again illustrates his use of the Presidency to gain political advantage over his opponents.
12:59: The narrative in this hour is that Trump engaged in a mafia-like shakedown, which Adam Schiff alludes to here.
ADAM SCHIFF:— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) September 25, 2019
“[The notes] indicate the president of the United States shaking down a foreign leader, essentially undermining the national security of this country for a personal political gain … It is very powerful evidence of that kind of potential impeachable offense" pic.twitter.com/vTmLlVQLio
12:50: The dumbasses in the White House accidentally sent their talking points to Democrats, before sending a follow-up recall email. The talking points, among other things, say that there is no explicit quid pro quo, which is how the GOP moves the goalposts. They’ll concede that they asked the President of Ukraine to smear Joe Biden, which is impeachable in and of itself, but then they’ll say raise the bar and say, there has to be quid pro quo, and that seems fairly evident in the exchange between Zelenky and Trump. So, now, they argue that the quid pro quo must be explicit, and the thing is, we may learn from the whistleblower complaint that it was, so this may end up backfiring, too, and it may be why the morons in the White House were so quick to recall the email.
Hmmm… The White House just sent its talking points on Ukraine to House Democrats.— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) September 25, 2019
Here are some screenshots, per source. pic.twitter.com/VvNAaqKP3D
11:30 a.m.: Given the fact that Trump, in his call to the President of Ukraine, asked him to contact Attorney General William Bar, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has asked that Barr recuse himself from the proceedings. That’s appropriate, particularly in light of the fact that Barr and the DOJ found no campaign finance violations in the call between Trump and Zelensky after another whistleblower complaint suggested there was one. Barr’s been covering Trump’s ass for a while on this matter. He needs to be impeached, as well.
2 intelligence officials referred President Trump’s activity to the Justice Department for a possible criminal inquiry. It declined to open one. https://t.co/iahjMU5Uov— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 25, 2019
Meanwhile, it also looks like the timing of the departure of the Ambassador to Ukraine will also become an issue in this spiraling mess.
Chuck Schumer: "The timing of the departures of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and the former director of National Intelligence and his principal deputy must be investigated, as well as the movements of President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 25, 2019
Via CNN pic.twitter.com/B1idJV2btv
Trump’s gonna get impeached, y’all.
senior Dem aide on transcript: “far worse than I expected. shocked they put it out. don't know what planet you'd have to be on to think it’s exculpatory— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) September 25, 2019
“if followed by additional info from complaint, might even create GOP cracks. will certainly harden resolve on impeachment”
.@RepJohnYarmuth captures the House Dem mood >— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) September 25, 2019
“Didn’t expect to see that. True smoking gun.”
The transcript of the phone conversation between Donald Trump and Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, has been released, and it’s not good for Trump. In the conversation, Trump directed the conversation back to investigating Joe Biden on several instances, asking Zelensky to contact William Barr at the Department of Justice and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
It’s not a striking conversation, and Trump does not make any reference to the $400 million that was withheld. However, the transcript is only part of the whistleblower complaint, and it should be noted that a quid pro quo is not required to impeach Trump (although, I suspect it exist within the whistleblower complaint). Trump abused the power of his office as soon as he asked Zelensky to investigate a political opponent, full stop.
This is all correct, but you don’t need a crime, or bribery, or a quid pro quo, to prove an impeachable offense here. It’s enough that @realDonaldTrump used his office for his own personal benefit. Merely referring or alluding to Biden on the July 25 call with Zelensky suffices. https://t.co/BcGGlZGvQO— George Conway (@gtconway3d) September 25, 2019
I should’ve remembered that Trump and his goons are too ignorant and morally bankrupt to grasp that their crimes are crimes.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) September 25, 2019
Note, too, that this is not a verbatim transcript. This is bad. The actual transcript could be worse.
Important: This is a "transcript" with quotation marks. The disclaimer reads: CAUTION: A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) September 25, 2019
How the fuck did Trump think this transcript was going to help him???— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) September 25, 2019
I thought this transcript would be sterilized nothing. Instead it’s roughly a gazillion times worse than I thought it would be. Holy shit.— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) September 25, 2019
Not a good time for a bad (plane) WiFi connection but first, possibly imprudent reaction is that it’s hard to see how the president *doesn’t* get impeached when the transcript has him pressuring Ukraine on Biden.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 25, 2019
Good morning. We will probably be updating this post throughout the day, because the transcript is expected later this morning, and the news seems to break very quickly at the moment. But let’s begin by making one thing clear: Nancy Pelosi has announced a formal impeachment inquiry. However, no articles of impeachment have been written, and no votes have been cast. Basically, Pelosi announced that she would be opening an investigation. It’s like empaneling a grand jury, only the grand jury is made up of House congressional members.
This does not necessarily mean that Trump will be impeached. If the evidence does not warrant impeachment, the House Democrats may not vote for impeachment. If public opinion does not line up behind the Democrats, they may not vote for impeachment. If the evidence is as damning as it seems, public opinion is where the battle is most likely to be fought, and it’s also where the Democrats are most likely to f**k it up. Trump, Giuliani, McConnell and other Republicans tend to be very good at downplaying their crimes and gaslighting the American people, and the media — which has people like Giuliani and Kellyanne Conway knowing that they will lie and gaslight — isn’t a lot of help. To wit: The Mueller Report laid out a very convincing case for impeachment based on obstruction of justice. Trump and the Republicans managed to nullify that. Months after the Mueller Report was released, it’s sadly become a non-issue with most Americans. The same thing could happen here if this gets dragged out and Trump downplays it, deflects, and cast aspersions on Biden and others. The Democrats need someone who can effectively wage that war over public opinion because if the public isn’t behind impeachment, the House will let it drift away, which would be worse than impeaching the President and failing to convict in the Senate, because at least then, Democrats can blame the Republicans.
Meanwhile, some Republicans, at least, are going out there and defending the hell out of Trump, mostly by deflecting and redirecting the narrative toward Joe Biden (who, by the way, is no longer even leading in the polls either nationally or in Iowa and New Hampshire). For instance, Republican Senator John Kennedy spoke to Chuck Todd last night, and in a first, Chuck Todd actually managed to question Kennedy competently.
So… Chuck Todd. Yeah, no, that Chuck Todd, actually stood up to GOP "gaslighting" (HIS WORD… Chuck Todd y'all) and the GOP tried to "but her emails" the Hunter Biden thing.— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) September 24, 2019
MORE OF THIS PLEASE. https://t.co/p9pr913bRO
It’s mostly been Rudy Giuliani, and it’s mostly been on Fox News, and Rudy has mostly continued to stick his foot in his mouth and make all of this even worse, as Giuliani is prone to do. To wit:
Here is Rudy Giuliani, who is not a government official, saying on Fox & Friends that the transcript of Trump's call to president of Ukraine — one that's at the heart of a whistleblower complaint — was read to him. Congress still hasn't been able to see it. pic.twitter.com/CpioFcAsqX— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2019
Rudy is either lying, is confessing to a criminal conspiracy to receive classified information without authorization, or is admitting the president let his personal defense lawyer be read the transcript before anyone else. https://t.co/AZdvPdNTqn— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) September 25, 2019
Giuliani is not a government official. He is the personal lawyer for the President. He should not be privy to government documents, especially before Congress. Also, the personal lawyer for the President should not be taking orders from the State Department.
I should note, too, that is not just about one phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine. It’s also not about a single whistleblower report. Rudy Giuliani has spent months in Ukraine working the new President. From The Washington Post:
“Rudy — he did all of this,” one U.S. official said. “This s—-show that we’re in — it’s him injecting himself into the process.”
Several officials traced their initial concerns about the path of U.S.-Ukrainian relations to news reports and interviews granted by Giuliani in which he began to espouse views and concerns that did not appear connected to U.S. priorities or policy.
The former New York mayor appears to have seen Zelensky, a political neophyte elected president of Ukraine in April and sworn in in May, as a potential ally on two political fronts: punishing those Giuliani suspected of playing a role in exposing the Ukraine-related corruption of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and delivering political ammunition against Biden.
Giuliani should probably be tried for goddamn treason. Also, I can’t even begin to cover all of the conspiracy theories that Giuliani has floated in the last 48 hours, which includes suggesting that Senator Chris Murphy be impeached, and then this:
We know corrupt Ukrainian oligarch laundered $3 million to the Biden Family. But $3 to $4m more was laundered to Biden. So release all the financial records of all businesses involving Biden, Kerry’s stepson and notorious mobster Whitey Bulger’s nephew.— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) September 25, 2019
Is Giuliani a QAnon follower?
LOL! Rudy Giuliani made a guest appearance later during Ingraham's show and immediately started calling a co-panelist "an idiot" and yelling at him to "shut up." pic.twitter.com/Mh2LbJXuaT— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2019
At any rate, we’re waiting on the rough call transcript between Trump and Zelensky this morning, and apparently, Trump and Zelensky are scheduled to meet at the United Nations General Assembly this afternoon. Rudy downplayed the transcript, saying that it might “raise some eyebrows” but that’s about it. 1) For Trump, “raise eyebrows” is a pretty harsh concession, and 2) we may not even get the full call. This is all about getting that whisteblower report, which Trump is apparently going to allow to be released.
In the meantime, for those of you who honestly think that Trump wants to be impeached so that he can use it to make political hay, that is not the case. Not only is Trump threatening to shut down all legislation during the impeachment process, he called Pelosi yesterday and tried to put the kibosh on this.
Despite his public defiance, Trump is not welcoming the impeachment fight, people say. He phoned Pelosi yesterday to discuss the whistleblower's complaint and was hoping he could de-escalate things. He later said he couldn't believe it when she made her announcement.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 25, 2019
Updates forthcoming throughout the day.