9:50: Two things: The President’s personal attorney should not be making these requests on behalf of the President.
Andriy Yermak, a top aide to the Ukrainian president, in July asked the State Dept for Giuliani’s number. Then he called Giuliani to ask him to tone down his TV criticism of Zelensky. Giuliani responded by suggesting Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden. https://t.co/iAZ4Kdc2UH— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) September 27, 2019
And second of all, what the hell?
This is not made up. Holy hell. https://t.co/EE8I91Qgpb— Adam Holisky (@AdamHolisky) September 27, 2019
Oh, never stop being you, Hannity.
It's September 26, 2019 and Hannity is covering "CLINTON'S CONTROVERSIAL COMMENT" pic.twitter.com/amoZOTSOcE— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 27, 2019
6:50: There’s an awful lot of Republican Senators not reading the whistleblower complaint.
Meanwhile, Rudy continues to melt down. I can’t begin to fathom what he was thinking here, although it appears he’s trying to throw the State Dept. under the bus.
This seems like an important tweet to save. https://t.co/F5uJsIp7ml— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 26, 2019
5:35: While polls do not necessarily matter this early in a Presidential race, they absolutely do matter when it comes to impeachment because Republican support for an impeachment conviction may depend upon public opinion — if Trump is seen as a liability, they may be more willing to abandon him. To that end, two polls released today show that support for impeachment has risen considerably in recent days. A Morning Consult/Politico shows it rising 7 percent, up to 43 percent, while an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll shows 49 percent support impeachment, up ten percent since April, and those polls likely do no factor in today’s events, including Maguire’s testimony and the release of the whistleblower complaint.
Recall that the public was against impeaching Nixon until it started to become a reality when it turned on a dime. What we’re seeing here may be a quick upward trend.
3:47: The threat that Trump made in a closed-door meeting earlier today? There’s audio of that now.
3:20: For what it’s worth, public opinion — at least according to this poll from two days ago — seems to be shifting against Trump. Even 32 percent of Republicans support impeachment, if the allegations against him re: Ukraine can be proven:
Even I’m surprised. In this poll, conducted on 9/24, overall support for impeaching Trump over Ukraine is 55-26%. https://t.co/gBRRJW6AcB— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) September 26, 2019
3:02: He’s been hiding transcripts of his calls with foreign leaders for two years. God knows what else he has said. God knows how many world leaders he’s implicated. Can we maybe get transcripts from conversations with Putin? Or what out Saudi Arabian officials after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder?
NEW: Former Trump official confirms that WH started placing Trump call transcripts into NSC’s codeword system—effectively concealing them—sometime after Mexico, Australia transcript leaks in 2017.— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) September 26, 2019
Experts say doing that poses whole host of natsec risks. https://t.co/WpcngAUS1K
2:33: Batshit Giuliani loses it in an interview with an Atlantic reporter: “It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not. And I will be the hero! These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero.”
The whole interview is meltdown city.
While Giuliani is losing it, it seems like Trump allies are turning on him, and blaming Giuliani for this mess. If Trump turns on Giuliani, Rudy will turn on Trump, and this whole mess could be over in no time. From NBC:
The former senior White House official also said that Giuliani’s claim that he worked through the State Department to coordinate his talks is highly questionable. The former official said that Giuliani should have “nothing to do with any of this stuff” and that his involvement in pursuing a corruption investigation “makes it inherently political rather than official law enforcement.”
“It’s Giuliani who’s really dragged the president into something that’s a legal matter and a political matter and will be part of impeachment,” the former official said. “What Giuliani did, there’s no argument that it was a legitimate, government, law enforcement endeavor.”
Yet Trump, who is often quick to abandon even his most loyal allies when it becomes politically expedient, was notably supportive of Giuliani when asked about him during a meeting with Ukraine’s president on Wednesday. He even praised Giuliani’s recent appearances on television.
2:00: The New York Times has revealed that the whistleblower is a CIA officer who at one point worked in the White House, but who has since been moved back to the C.I.A. While this reporting does lend credibility to the whistleblower’s complaint, I am a little worried that it may lead to uncovering his identity, particularly given the fact that Trump thinks whistleblowers should be executed (see below). “His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics.”
1:30: This is not related to the impeachment, but a friend and reader Rebecca suggested I add it so you all know what Trump is doing while we are all watching the impeachment business. Basically, the United States passed a regulation that allows the United States to deport asylum seekers who go through another country on their way to the United States to … Honduras, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world. In other words, Trump has decided to take people coming into America to escape violence and gang warfare at home and deport them to a country known for … violence and gang warfare.
Immigrant rights groups argue that Honduras - one of the most violent countries in the world - should never be considered a safe place for asylum seekers, many of whom will be fleeing gang violence in their own countries.
They also say that even if migrants wanted to apply for asylum in Honduras, the system there is so broken and understaffed that almost no application would receive the attention needed.
1:00: In a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations in a meeting closed to reporters (who he called “scum”), I think that the President just threatened to have whoever provided the whistleblower with information executed. Or “dealt with.” WTF?! From The NYTimes:
“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
I’m not the only one who read it that way, am I?
This is president basically saying in the old days we would have killed the whistleblower. https://t.co/YEMZ6RwgMd— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 26, 2019
11:54: He’s definitely the genius you want running your impeachment defense.
CNN: Corey Lewandowski has had conversations with White House officials in recent days about potentially taking a position inside the administration to help Trump confront a looming impeachment fight.— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) September 26, 2019
11:47: Well, this is interesting. The former Ukranain prosecutor at the heart of the investigation into Hunter Biden says that Hunter Biden didn’t break any laws, via The Washington Post:
“From the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, he did not violate anything,” former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko told The Washington Post in his first interview since the disclosure of a whistleblower complaint alleging pressure by Trump on Ukraine’s president, Volodymr Zelensky.
Lutsenko’s comments about Hunter Biden — which echo what he told Bloomberg News in May — were significant because President Trump and his personal attorney Giuliani have sought to stir up suspicions about both Hunter and former vice president Joe Biden’s conduct in Ukraine in recent weeks. Joe Biden is leading Trump in many opinion polls ahead of the 2020 election.
“Hunter Biden cannot be responsible for violations of the management of Burisma that took place two years before his arrival.”
11:17: Scalwell is killing it.
.@RepSwalwell grills Maguire on why he decided to respond to the whistleblower complaint — one that alleges that multiple transcripts of Trump's conversations were improperly moved to a classified system — by first going to the White House pic.twitter.com/qqS9spn93l— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 26, 2019
And Pelosi accurately calls this a cover up.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Pelosi says White House effort to 'lock down' Trump Ukraine call shows 'this is a cover up'— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 26, 2019
10:51: During testimony, Maguire conceded that this is “unprecedented,” that this is the first whistleblower complaint ever held from Congress, and that he anticipated sitting in front of Congress after reading the complaint.
CARSON: Director Maguire, this appears to be the first intelligence community whistleblower complaint that has ever, ever been withheld from Congress. Is that right sir?— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) September 26, 2019
MAGUIRE: Congressman Carson, I believe that it might be. pic.twitter.com/69GESfj0wo
Acting DNI Maguire on his reaction after reading the whistleblower complaint: "I realized full and well the importance of the allegation. And I also have to tell you, congresswoman, when I saw that, I anticipated having to sit in front of some committee some time to discuss it."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 26, 2019
SPEIER: When you read the complaint, were you shocked at all by what you read?— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 26, 2019
MAGUIRE: When I saw that, I anticipated having to sit in front of some committee some time to discuss it.
Watch the testimony here: https://t.co/iW3kTR31Rhpic.twitter.com/FSlOyUjM28
It goes deep.
!: According to WH officials I spoke with, this was ‘not the first time’ under this admin a presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for purpose of protecting politically sensitive, rather than national security sensitive, info” -whistleblower— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) September 26, 2019
The complaint,citing multiple US officials, alleges that White House lawyers have been stuffing politically troubling records of presidential calls into highly classified storage to hide them from scrutiny throughout Trump’s presidency. This just got much bigger.— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) September 26, 2019
A couple more Republicans break from the company line:
"I want to say to the president, `This is not OK,'" Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) says of Trump's Ukraine call. "And I think it's disappointing to the American public."— Toluse Olorunnipa (@ToluseO) September 26, 2019
So far, Rs on the committee not playing the boisterous pro-Trump role (e.g., Ratcliffe, Jordan etc on Judiciary)
!!! Sen. Ron Johnson has no problem with Trump call with Zelensky but is asking tough Qs about allegation that White House restricted records of call— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) September 26, 2019
“I would not be happy. We’ll find out exactly what transpired here. To me, of all this stuff, that’s the part that concerns me”
It’s also noteworthy here that not even Republicans are trying to defend Trump’s actions here. They’re deflecting, but no one has said that it’s OK to ask a foreign leader to interfere in an election.
10:00: In his testimony, Maguire seems to be mostly trying to protect his own ass. He says, “I think the whistleblower did the right thing,” but then he’s also trying to say that he did the right thing to by simply following orders, which was to take this up the chain of command, even though the next guy up on the chain was William Barr, who is implicated in the complaint. Maguire is doing a careful little dance in which he’s trying to say everything that the whistleblower did was appropriate, but everything he did was also appropriate given the circumstances.
Basically, Maguire is a coward.
09:45: Acting DNI Joseph Maguire is speaking to Congress now. This is some Nazi “just following orders” bullshit right here.
Acting DNI chief Maguire says the Justice Department told him that the complaint does "not meet the statutory requirement of 'urgent concern,' and found I was not legally required to transmit material to the oversight committee." Says that decision was binding.— Amber Phillips (@byamberphillips) September 26, 2019
09:37: Seriously, WTF is Nunes going on about here? WHAT?
Here's Devin Nunes accusing Democrats of trying to obtain nude pictures of Trump pic.twitter.com/pRF7UHijpq— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 26, 2019
History will not be kind to @DevinNunes— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) September 26, 2019
09:34: As Agent Sculder notes, the whistleblower suggests that this is not the first time the White House tried to cover up phone calls with foreign leaders by basically hiding transcripts in the classified computer system. This has probably been going on over the course of the entire Presidency.
A striking element of the whistleblower complaint: It alleges a White House staff fully aware that Trump inappropriately brought up political matters in foreign leader calls, & accustomed to using a special secret computer system to keep that from others inside government— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) September 26, 2019
9:32: Trump is taking all of this very calmly.
THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ALL THAT IT STANDS FOR. STICK TOGETHER, PLAY THEIR GAME, AND FIGHT HARD REPUBLICANS. OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2019
The whistleblower complaint has been released. I’m still gathering my thoughts on it and trying to summarize it effectively, but basically, the whistleblower complaint details Giuliani’s efforts both before and after the election of Zelensky to lobby the government there to investigate Biden. After the election, Trump made it known that he would not communicate with Zelensky unless he agreed to “play ball.” In fact, he instructed Mike Pence not to attend the inauguration of Zelensky until he knew whether Zelensky would cooperate with efforts to smear Biden.
Meanwhile, after the phone call with Zelensky, White House lawyers made efforts to cover up and hide the transcript because they knew how bad it was.
The whistleblower complaint catalogs information received from half a dozen intelligence officials over four months, and implicates Trump, Giuliani, and William Barr in an effort to compel a foreign country (Ukraine) to interfere in our election by smearing Donald Trump’s political opponent, Joe Biden, and the White House’s efforts to cover it up.
Here are a few choice paragraphs from the complaint:
— “The President instructed Vice President Pence to cancel his planned travel to Ukraine to attend President Zelensky’s inauguration…..it was ‘made clear’ to them that the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelensky until he saw how Zelensky ‘chose to act’ in office.”
— “Multiple U.S. officials told me that the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelenskyy would depend on whether Zelenskyy showed a willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues that had been publicly aired.”
— White House officials told me that they were ‘directed’ by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”
Here’s how the Times characterized the complaint:
Attorney General William P. Barr and the president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani were central to the effort to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, the complaint said.
In addition, the whistle-blower, an unidentified intelligence officer, learned from multiple American officials that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced as is customary by the White House Situation Room,” the complaint said. “This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”
Obviously, this is all developing. Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, will testify in front of Congress today. We’ll have much, much more throughout the day, including reactions from Congress. This post will be updated throughout the day.