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Trumpdates: Trump Doesn't Know the Name of His Secretary of Defense

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 20, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 20, 2019 |


Sunday, 11:40 a.m.

There’s surprisingly little going on with the Sunday morning shows, even though two administration officials did appear. In one, Stephanapoulous pushed back against Pompeo, even though he ultimately didn’t get a straight answer.

Chris Wallace, meanwhile, interviewed Mick Mulvaney, who continues to push back on his quid pro quo statement (although, Wallace — to his credit — would not let him weasel out of it). Also, Mulvaney said this, which is generating a lot of discussions this morning, mostly because the President of the United States should not be in the hospitality business.

It also turns out that Mulvaney was on the hot seat up until the impeachment inquiry.

Finally, Trump doesn’t know the name of his own Secretary of Defense, or apparently what he’s even talking about.

Saturday, 10:30 p.m.

Criticism and pressure do work sometimes, as Donald Trump has scrapped his plans to hold the Group 7 Summit at his own resort next year, thanks to those damn Democrats (and also, a lot of heat he got from his own party).

The good news is, we’ll always have the Mulvaney press conference.

4:45: It’s funny, but for all the complaining Republicans do about the liberal bias of the New York Times and The Washington Post, whenever one of them decides to write an op-ed, that’s where they invariably go. They don’t write op-eds criticizing the President’s troop withdrawal in Syria on Breitbart. They do so in the Post, as Mitch McConnell has done today:

Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances

That entire piece criticizes Trump’s lunatic decision in Syria, and yet, not once is Trump mentioned, because McConnell is a coward.

2:17: Here’s another Republican that wants Trump impeached. I mean, not one that matters. But hey! It’s something.

11:57: Erdoğan is talking about the Kurds, who he believes are terrorists. By retweeting him, Trump is also calling the Kurds — who lost 10,000 people fighting ISIS on our behalf — terrorists. Seriously: What do the Turks have on Trump?
11:10: Hmmm. This is a Republican Rep.

9:45: If this wasn’t happening to the United States, it would almost be hilarious. But after Turkey steamrolled Trump/Pence/Pompeo yesterday, getting everything they want in Syria and giving the U.S. nothing in return, Erdoğan called out Trump today for that embarrassing letter he sent calling Erdoğan a “tough guy.” This is Jon Sopel, from the BBC:

What does Erdoğan have on Trump that he can push Trump around like this?

9:15: Look. We looked at the entire country, and while the United States has been hosting events like this for 200 years, the truth of the matter is, Trump’s resort was the only option that would work for this one. It was either that or a Clarion Inn in Nebraska, and they didn’t have a helicopter pad, so what other choice did we have in the third largest country and most affluent in the world?

Friday, October 18th

Donald Trump has brazenly used his office to pressure a foreign country to investigate a political rival and, by the way, dig up a server that does not exist. He is brazenly lining his own pockets by openly violating the Emoluments Clause by holding a major international event (the G7) on his own property. He is also ruining our relationship with our allies and essentially condoning ethnic cleansing in Syria. Trump has no foreign policy accomplishments, and according to Admiral McRaven, a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command, Trump is a literal danger to the Republic.

How many conservative judges is the destruction of the Republic worth to Republicans? Is it that important to hang on to those Senate and House seats if there’s no power left in the Congress, if our system of checks and balances is gone? There are some things that not even Mitch McConnell and all his hypocrisy can walk back in a future administration. Assume that the Republic holds on by a string and a Democrat is elected in 2020? What is to keep that Democrat from violating the same principles? If Trump can ignore the Constitution and use his office for personal political and financial gain, what’s to keep Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden from ignoring the Constitution and packing the Supreme Court? Or overruling Supreme Court decisions? Trump is setting a dangerous precedent for the executive branch, and Republicans in the legislative branch are helping him.

This is not partisan overreach that Donald Trump is committing. He is actively destroying both the Presidency and America’s relationship with the rest of the world. And if the Senate Republicans do not do something about it, Donald Trump is going to continue to destroy the Republic in increasingly egregious ways until there is nothing left of it to destroy.

As for the daily news updates this morning? I mean, what’s the point? There’s not a human alive that doesn’t know by now that Trump tied military aid to political interference in Ukraine. Mick Mulvaney admitted the quid pro quo yesterday — explicitly — and walked it back last night only after Trump’s legal team and the DOJ flipped out (and, by the way, the DOJ should not be flipping out, because it is the DOJ’s job not to take sides but to prosecute where necessary. Instead of flipping out, the DOJ should have indicted Mulvaney, full stop). Meanwhile, the “great” deal that Trump made with Turkey literally did not last a day.

Here’s how the Times characterized that deal, by the way:

In fact, if the sanctions imposed against Turkey by the Trump administration are lifted, as Mr. Pence said they now would be, the Turkish leader would pay a far lower price than Russia did for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The sanctions imposed on Moscow then are still in place.

But there are other winners in addition to Mr. Erdogan, who has routed the Kurdish groups he views as terrorists who were living in an American protectorate.

Chief among them is President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who gains vast influence in a strategic corner of the Middle East where, until 2015, he had almost none. Now, he is a player, and already is filling the territorial and political vacuum that Mr. Trump left after he agreed to get out of the way of the Turkish invasion of Syria, which a small contingent of American Special Operations forces were there to prevent by their very presence.

Iran was also a winner. It has long used Syria as a route to send missiles to Hezbollah and flex its muscles across the region. That, in many ways, is the most perplexing part of the president’s decision to withdraw, because it runs so counter to his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran’s clerical leaders and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

And Mr. Assad, who was barely clinging to power after the Arab Spring in 2011, and whose military facilities Mr. Trump bombed in the opening months of his presidency in 2017, has a new lease on life. The Americans are gone from the one corner of his country they once occupied.

Remember when the Republicans were known as the party of foreign policy?

Donald Trump is the worst President the United States has ever had. These Senate Republicans are just as bad and, in some ways, maybe worse, because they know better — at least some of them do — and they do not give a shit.

Thursday, October 17th

5:20: In case you wanted audio/video of Mick Mulvaney essentially confessing to impeachable offenses, here you go.

For the record, both Trump’s legal team and the DOJ have distanced themselves from Mulvaney and his … confesssion? They are “enraged,” according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, is this a “yes” on impeachment from a Republican?

4:40: We already knew Rick Perry was resigning before he was implicated in the impeachment scandal. Now we know again that he’s resigning in light of our knowledge of his involvement.

3:45: This is the former Ambassador to the UN under Obama, and she is absolutely right:

So is Mitt Romney, for that matter:

2:40: Trump got played, and he’s out there trying to convince himself that he got a good deal.

He did not get a good deal. He got hosed.

To sum. This is exactly what happened:

1:55: The hits just keep coming:

In other words, “Turkey will stop killing Kurds for five days so that they can pack their shit up and leave their homes, and in exchange, the U.S. will lift sanctions on Turkey.” This is pathetic.

1:35: Yes, there was quid pro quo. SO WHAT? GET OVER IT. GOD.

From the NYTimes:

He said that the aid was initially withheld because, “Everybody knows this is a corrupt place,” and the president was demanding Ukraine clean up its own government. But Mr. Trump also told Mr. Mulvaney that he was concerned about what he thought was Ukraine’s role in the 2016 campaign.

“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that,” he said. “But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

Mr. Mulvaney was referring to Mr. Trump’s discredited idea that a server with Hillary Clinton’s missing emails was being held by a company based in Ukraine.

Mulvaney just admitted that Trump held $400 million in military aid to Ukraine contingent upon them investigating a DNC server THAT DOES NOT EXIST THAT NEVER EXISTED THAT NEVER WILL EXIST.

This is pure insanity.

1:00: If you’re the President, and there’s ambassador meeting with House members investigation impeachment for abuse of the office and corruption, what’s the worse thing you could possibly announce? (I know! I know! Pick me! Pick me!) How about this:

Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, McConnell wants to condemn the President for his actions in Syria even harder than Pelosi.

11:20: The “again, that’s their description” seems to imply that the description of the parents subjected to a terrifying ambush is far less important than the way the person who subjected them to the terrifying ambush characterized it.

10:15: Gordon Sondland, the EU Ambassador, is testifying in front of House impeachment investigators today. He released his opening statement, and I think the best way to characterize it is that it’s very Eddie Haskell. Sondland is clearly trying to save his own ass. He basically says that all he cared about was strengthening the relationship between Ukraine and the United States, and that the only reason he worked with Giuliani is because the President made him. He also says he had no idea that investigating the Bidens was part of the equation. When another diplomat asked if him military aid was being tied to political interference, Sondland called the President, who told him several times in a very short time period, “No quid pro quo!”

Sondland is basically giving the House the old, “I was just a poor man doing his job, and I didn’t know any better. I was just following orders.” Gordon Sondland, pictured:


He does note, however, that “inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming U.S. election would be wrong. Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps would be wrong.” However, he is basically saying, “Well, if that happened, I had nothing to do with it and I didn’t know anything.”

Separately, The Washington Post reports that McConnell met with his Republican colleagues in the Senate yesterday to discuss their impeachment strategy. He said that the GOP should expect Pelosi to impeach Trump around Thanksgiving and that the GOP would endeavor to wrap up the impeachment trial by Christmas.

Many are worrying that the GOP will simply dismiss the case after Pelosi refers it to the Senate. But, McConnell noted in the meeting that the decision about how long the trial will last is left up to Chief Justice John Roberts.

Before we begin with today’s political updates, I think we need to take a moment and appreciate what an absolute embarrassment yesterday was for our country. A lot of people have come to expect the worst and understandably tune out to the hourly deluge. Yesterday was the 1,000th day of Trump’s Presidency. It may have been the most disgraceful.

The day kicked off with news that Donald Trump had arranged for a surprise meeting in front of the press between the wife of an American diplomat and the grieving parents of the British teenager the diplomat’s wife had killed. (The parents declined the meeting with the diplomat’s wife, who was waiting in the next room in the White House).

That’s how the day began. It only got worse from there.

Over the course of the rest the day, Trump said that the Kurds — once our strongest ally — are “not Angels,” and suggested that the Syrians were protecting them from the Turks, who in reality have been slaughtering Kurds, so much so that Kurds have been forced to align themselves with Russia, who now has a strong foothold in the Middle East thanks to Trump. In fact, much of what Trump said about Syria, the Kurds, and Turkey yesterday sounded like statements one would hear from the Turks or Russia. At one point, he even suggested that the PKK — The Kurdistan Workers’ Party — was as dangerous as ISIS, which is exactly what Turkish President Erdogan might say.

By midday, the House of Representatives had voted by an overwhelming majority — 354 to 60 — to condemn Trump’s actions in Syria. Trump — who didn’t want to look weak after the Turks rolled over him — released a letter he had sent to Erdogan last week, asking Erdogan not to be “a tough guy. Don’t be a fool.” The letter was an absolute embarrassment. According to BBC Turkey, when Erdogan received the letter he scrunched it up and literally threw it in the trash, before launching his offensive against Syrian Kurds.

Yet, Trump was so proud of that useless letter that he passed it around during a meeting with Pelosi and Schumer last evening, who had come to the White House to be briefed on what Trump was doing about Syria. Pelosi reportedly asked, “What’s your plan in Syria?” and Trump responded, “To keep America safe,” to which Pelosi shot back, “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”

Things apparently went off the rails when Pelosi suggested to Trump that “all roads lead to Russia with you,” which is when Trump had a meltdown.

This is how bad it was yesterday: At one point yesterday, the U.S. military bombed our own base on Syria to keep the Turks from using it. We. bombed. our. own. base.

This lede, from The Washington Post, sums up the disaster in the Middle East:

The blow to America’s standing in the Middle East was sudden and unexpectedly swift. Within the space of a few hours, advances by Turkish troops in Syria this week had compelled the U.S. military’s Syrian Kurdish allies to switch sides, unraveled years of U.S. Syria policy and recalibrated the balance of power in the Middle East.

As Russian and Syrian troops roll into vacated towns and U.S. bases, the winners are counting the spoils.

This is the Trump presidency in a nutshell.

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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