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Trumpdates: Nikki Haley May Be Angling for the VP Slot, After All

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 8, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 8, 2019 |


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Sunday, 12:15 p.m. — Nikki Haley has a memoir coming out, and while every other memoir and tell-all about the Trump Administration has been critical of the President, Haley’s is … less so. In fact, she writes, Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to use her to undermine Trump, and Haley — good patriot that she is (read: kiss ass) — declined. From WashPo:

Two of President Trump’s senior advisers undermined and ignored him in what they claimed was an effort to “save the country,” former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley claims in a new memoir.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but she refused, Haley writes in a new book, “With All Due Respect,” which also describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and imperious and Kelly as suspicious of her access to Trump.

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote.

“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote of the views the two men held.

In other words, Haley had Trump’s back, and given Trump’s own public admission that he’s at least taking a look at the VP slot for the re-election effort, don’t be surprised if Haley gets the call. Don’t be surprised if she takes it, too, because she’d be one clogged heartbeat away from the Presidency.


11:40 — This is more related to the Trump impeachment scandal than you might think. Of late, the GOP has been mulling whether to add a staunch Trump defender, Jim Jordan, to the House Intelligence Committee, so that he can defend Trump during the public impeachment hearings. The GOP doesn’t have a lot of faith in Devin Nunes to do the job without being Devin Nunes.

The thing with Jim Jordan, though, is that as an assistant coach of the wrestling team at Ohio State University, Jordan “allegedly” covered for team doctor Richard Strauss, a serial sexual abuser of students who abused at least 177 students over two decades. Jim Jordan could have put a stop to those abuses by simply listening to his students and turning the doctor in. He chose not to, and now he is claiming that those who said he knew about the abuse are lying and are politically motivated.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday, there’s one more allegation that Jim Jordan knew about the abuse and failed to do anything about it, only this time instead of a student, it was a referee that Strauss abused. From NBC News:

John Doe 42 said that when he informed Jordan and Hellickson about what happened, their response was, “Yeah, yeah, we know.”

“It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing so the attitude was it is what it is,” he told NBC News. “I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”

No wonder Jim Jordan wants to out the whistleblower. Jordan has zero concern for those who try to speak truth to power. He just ignores them, like he did all the students who were abused under his watch.


Friday, 9 a.m. — A couple of reviews of that book by Anonymous are out this morning, and while they paint a very unflattering portrait of the President, it’s nothing we didn’t already know. The detail about senior administration officials considering leaving en masse last year is new, plus Anonymous’ belief that Mike Pence would have backed removing the President under the 25th Amendment.

Otherwise, it’s more anecdotal evidence to prove what we already know: He’s racist, sexist, and doesn’t have all his marbles. From WashPo:

“I’ve sat and listened in uncomfortable silence as he talks about a woman’s appearance or performance,” the author writes. “He comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and around his orbit. He uses words like ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ to address accomplished professionals. This is precisely the way a boss shouldn’t act in the work environment.”

The author alleges that Trump attempted a Hispanic accent during an Oval Office meeting to complain about migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We get these women coming in with like seven children,” Trump said, according to the book. “They are saying, ‘Oh, please help! My husband left me!’ They are useless. They don’t do anything for our country. At least if they came in with a husband we could put him in the fields to pick corn or something.”

Anonymous also notes that Trumip is not qualified for office, that he wants to get rid of all judges, and that “he stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information, not occasionally but with regularity.”

The Times was more critical of the book, mostly because it fails to add anything that we don’t already know about Trump.

I still think it’s Kellyanne Conway.

Meanwhile, the closed-door portion of the impeachment inquiry wraps up today, Mick Mulvaney was asked to testify. He will decline. What we know at the end of the week is not much more than we knew at the beginning of the week.

Elsewhere, the Times is playing up the growing rift between Trump and William Barr, and while I’m sure there’s not that much to it, having it publicly aired in the Times might widen the rift. Trump is mostly peeved that Barr isn’t defending him aggressively, while Barr is peeved that he got mentioned in the Zelensky call alongside Giuliani.

Also, Ivanka says that the identity of the whistleblower is “not particularly relevant.” She is right. She should probably tell her father, who continues to try and out him, so much so that the whistleblower’s attorney has filed a cease and desist.


THURSDAY

4:40 — Jennifer Williams, an aide to Mike Pence and a staff member at the State Department, testified today that she found the July 25th phone call between Trump and Zelensky “unusual,” in that it was “political in nature” rather than diplomatic. She did not know why aid to Ukraine was held, but she assumed it had something to do with the phone call. However, Williams shielded Pence, who she said never mentioned the Bidens, Burisma, or investigations to her. It wasn’t even clear to her if Pence had read the transcript of the phone call.

George Kent’s transcript was also released today. From it, we learned that Trump demanded, in exchange for military aid, that President Zelensky had to mention three words: Biden, Burisma, and Clinton.



12:45 — According to the book written by “Anonymous,” who is a former or current White House official, Mike Pence absolutely would have supported an effort to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment for mental incapacity. Trump is obviously going to publicly crap over the book — due out Nov. 19th — but you know that this is going to eat at him for months until he finds a way to ditch Pence ahead of his re-election effort and make Sarah Huckabee Sanders his running mate.

Meanwhile, Bolton didn’t show, and the Democrats are not going to bother issuing a subpoena because they don’t want to get hung up in the courts for months, which would slow down this entire process while we waited for John Bolton to confirm what we all already know, except with a giant mustache.

10:45 — You know how you know that a story is true? Trump gets really pissed off about it. He definitely doesn’t want people knowing that he asked William Barr to hold a press conference exonerating him for the July 25th phone call. (The story, originally from the Post, has been confirmed by both The Times and, I believe, Bloomberg).

Trump is on a Twitter tear this morning, too, so I guess something must be up, because he’s already tweeted 10 times. Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s the story Trump is so angry about.



Thursday, 9:15 a.m.The Daily Beast is reporting this morning that Donald Trump and The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett have discussed more than once reviving The Apprentice soon after Trump leaves office. The twist: It would be The Apprentice: The White House. The other twist? The network that airs it will be protested into oblivion (unless it is Fox News).

“There have been several discussions between Burnett and Trump about ‘The Apprentice: White House,” a person with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast. “It is something Burnett thinks could be a money-spinner and Trump is very keen on doing.”

Apparently, Trump misses his reality-show days, and you know what? I miss his reality-show days, too. He was far easier to ignore. But if Trump wants to do it, go for it! In fact, if he wants to quit the Presidency tomorrow to devote an entire streaming network to The Apprentice and spin-offs hosted by Sean Spicer, and Mick Mulvaney, and Stephanie Grisham, that’d be fine. He can even give the entire Huckabee family their own spin-off. He could do it with his existing White House! Just go on in there and start firing people. Whatever it takes, Donny.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Williams, a senior adviser to Mike Pence, is scheduled to testify today in front of House impeachment investigators, and she is expected to actually show up. I’m not sure what she will say, but if she’s showing up, it’s probably to distance Pence from this mess? Scratch that. According to her lawyer, “We expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record.”


WEDNESDAY


8:30 — Though William Barr’s fingerprints are all over the impeachment inquiry — Trump repeatedly told Zelensky to contact his AG to discuss the Burisma/Biden investigation — it is strange how little we’ve heard of him, as opposed to Giuliani and Pompeo. I suspect he’s simply keeping his head down. In fact, we learned from The Times that around September 25th, Trump asked his Attorney General to hold a press conference clearing Trump of wrongdoing over the Zelensky call. I mean, it essentially worked for the Mueller probe, so why not?

In a rarity, Barr declined.

The request from Trump traveled from the president, to other White House officials, and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s declination to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say.

In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked.

At least, Barr is not actively alienating and undermining his own people in the DOJ, unlike Pompeo, who is doing so in the State Department.


3:15 — The transcript of Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony has been released. He will be testifying a public hearing next Wednesday, and he will repeat these statements on our television screens (and thanks, as always, to Kyle Griffin over at NBC for his always helpful work of cherry-picking the best things):


1:40 — Lindsay Graham’s defense of Trump has officially evolved from “there was no quid pro, but if there was, this would be a different story,” to “The President isn’t smart enough to form a quid pro quo.”

Ignorance of the law is no defense. The President’s inability to understand what quid pro quo means does not absolve him, and besides, he clearly knows what quid pro quo means because he told Gordon Sondland “there is no quid pro quo,” as if saying as such erased its existence.

So yeah. The President is dumb as a doorpecker. But he knows what crimes are, and he knows enough to announce that he’s not committing crimes when he’s committing crimes. All that said, I do love that Trump gets furious when his own people say he’s too dumb to commit crimes. Again, as with Lev Parnas and most of the people in Trump world, they’d rather be thought of as a criminal than an idiot.



12:20> — The whistleblower’s name is out there now, thanks to Donald Trump, Jr. I mean, apparently, his name has been floating around in right-wing media circles for a couple of weeks now (I don’t read right-wing media, so I had no idea, although Rush Limbaugh has also apparently mentioned his name on air). Trump, Jr. tweeted out his name this morning (although, the whistleblower’s attorney refuses to confirm or deny).

For the record, I looked up the alleged whistleblower. He’s legit. Super legit, notwithstanding the smear job being done by Trump and the GOP. It is appalling, however, that they would out him, doubly so because the whistleblower rightfully won’t confirm his identity by pushing back on the sleazy allegations against him, which also means that Trump, Rand Paul, Jr., and others can basically say whatever the hell they want about him knowing that the whistleblower won’t correct the record.

In other words, Trump is using whistleblower protections against the whistleblower.


11:35 — The first PUBLIC hearings in the impeachment investigation will be held Wednesday, a week from today. Adam Schiff is not f**king around, either, bringing back the most damning witness, William Taylor, as well as George Kent. Two days later, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch. On our Teevees!

I wonder if Fox News — which barely mentioned that Gordon Sondland revised his testimony yesterday — will even air the hearings?

Meanwhile, goddamnit:



Last night, the Democrats consolidated political power in Virginia, where they now control the state house, the House of Reps, and the state senate for the first time in a quarter-century. This despite a Democratic governor who was nearly forced to resign after pictures of him in blackface surfaced. Democrats continued their advancement after bleeding into Republican control back in the 2017 and 2018 elections. Danica Roem also won reelection last night!

There is even the possibility, slim though it may be, that Virginia puts the Equal Rights Amendment over the top by becoming the 38th state to ratify it (the ERA was passed by the Senate in 1972. However, some states have rescinded their approval since them, and all the necessary deadlines have passed, but victory in Virginia could provoke movement).

There was good news in state elections in places like Pennsylvania, too, where Democrats took control of Republican strongholds.


The big story, however, is what happened in Kentucky, a solidly red state, where Democrat Andy Beshear narrowly defeated Matt Bevins, a Republican closely aligned with President Trump. This happened despite Trump’s efforts to swing the election in Bevins way with a rally on Monday night.

The Trump campaign is now trying to both distance themselves from Bevins and claim that Trump saved him from a blow-out loss, which is completely inaccurate. He is unpopular, but part of his unpopularity comes from how closely aligned he is to Trump.

What does this mean for Mitch McConnell’s reelection prospects next year? I’m not sure. I do know that a recent poll showed that Bevins approval rating was a dismal 34 percent in Kentucky (he was the second least popular governor in America). However, Mitch McConnell’s approval rating in Kentucky in the most recent poll is 18 percent, and only 37 percent of voters said they would vote for him again. McConnell’s likely opponent, Amy McGrath, raised nearly $11 million in her first three months of campaigning, and at least one independent poll shows the race dead even, a year out.

McConnell may or may not lose in 2020, but for the first time in maybe his career as a Senator, he will have to make certain political calculations in order to save his ass, and political calculations as a Republican under a Trump presidency are a dangerous thing.

Meanwhile, the #MoscowMitchIsNext hashtag on Twitter this morning is giving me life.



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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