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Updated: Ukrainian Official Outs Trump -- The Latest on the Impeachment of Trump

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | September 25, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | September 25, 2019 |


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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.)


5:40: A few members of Congress have now seen the whistleblower complaint and reactions are starting to come in.


For funsies, watch this:

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.


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.

(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!”

This is unrelated to impeachment proceedings, but WTF?:

Meanwhile, what the goddamn hell?


——-


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.


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.


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.

—-

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.

Meanwhile, it also looks like the timing of the departure of the Ambassador to Ukraine will also become an issue in this spiraling mess.

Trump’s gonna get impeached, y’all.

—-

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.

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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.

Note, too, that this is not a verbatim transcript. This is bad. The actual transcript could be worse.


——

Previously

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.

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:

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:

Is Giuliani a QAnon follower?

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.

Updates forthcoming throughout the day.




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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