9 p.m.: Remember last week, when an advisor to Mike Pompeo quietly resigned amid the Ukraine scandal? Yeah, so his name is Michael McKinley, and he’s going to be testifying before House impeachment investigators on Wednesday. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent will meet with the House tomorrow.
Fiona Hill, Trump’s senior advisor to Trump on Russia — who also recently resigned — testified today, expressing high praise for the ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who had been targeted by Rudy Giuliani and recalled Trump. She was unhappy about the ambassador’s removal.
Speaking of Rudy, federal prosecutors are not looking into his personal finances.
Trump has also apparently approved of sanctions against Turkey, punishing them for doing exactly what everyone said they would do when Trump said he would stand by and let Turkey invade Syria.
Oh, and Fuckerberg over here responded to reports that he’d been meeting with Trump’s goons.
Zuckerberg has just responded to our report: pic.twitter.com/PgjpLPHorI— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) October 14, 2019
I know, right! If you don’t meet with white supremacists and right-wing nutjobs, how will you ever understand how they use Facebook to propagate their hatred and conspiracy theories? If you don’t understand that, how will you ever learn how to develop a Facebook algorithm that will help them spread the word even further? Gosh, y’all: It’s like you don’t even believe there are good people on both sides anymore.
In other news, #DeleteFacebook is trending on Twitter. I scanned through the messages, and look: I quit Facebook more or less about a year ago or so, whenever it was that I found out that Fuckerberg had hired some goons to use anti-Semitism against lefties, saying that, like, the ADL was Soros-funded. Whatever. I check every once in a while when my wife tells me there’s some drama I need to see, but I mostly ignore it, but it’s not like me quitting made one damn bit of difference. I should also note a lot of people who are deleting Facebook are like, “Well, yeah, I’m gonna keep Instagram because, like, whatever. It’s not as bad. Well, about that. It’s evil, too, and Zuckerberg makes plenty of money off it, too.
They’re all trash. But we live in a social-media era, and threats to delete en masse don’t really work because most people go back to them because their pizza-delivery service and their GoodReads accounts are connected to them. So, I don’t know if deleting is the answer. I think the answer may be voting individuals into office who can successfully regulate social media networks. So, keep your Facebook so you can get into online fights with your aunt, but you can also use it to spread the good word about your favorite Democratic candidate like, for instance, Elizabeth Warren! If someone like Warren were to win, maybe Instagram gets separated from Facebook, and then you really can continue enjoying Instagram without feeling guilty about lining Zuckerberg’s pockets.
1:20: This is tangentially Trump-related, but someone asked me over the weekend w/r/t the Elizabeth Warren/Facebook scuffle, why does Mark Zuckerberg kowtow to right-wing nutjobs? I mean, in his personal life, Zuckerberg behaves progressively-ish, so why does he allow conspiracy nutjobs to run rampant all over his social-media platform? The guy has all the money in the world. Does he really need more? Why not just decide to abandon a few extra billion dollars and make Facebook a platform committed to good?
I don’t really know the answer to that, except that a guy who has all the money in the world still apparently needs more, and he’s willing to work with those right-wing nutjobs in secret to avoid having his company broken up. And with Trump/Barr, he clearly sees someone with whom he can work, and with Warren, he sees someone who will dismantle his company, so Zuckerberg is willing to abandon his personal ideas in pursuit of his own business interests, which is very Trumpian.
If Warren gets the nom, Zuckerberg is going to use the most powerful social-media platform in the world to try and take her down in favor of a white supremacist who might not break apart Facebook, although he will continue to break apart our democracy.
Zuckerberg is pursuing his own personal interests with the largest media platform on the planet, which is all the more reason to break Facebook up and regulate it.
NEW: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting secretive talks & off-the-record dinners with conservative influencers in recent months to discuss free speech and partnerships. Among the participants: Tucker Carlson & Lindsey Graham. scoop w/@dlippman:https://t.co/n5IV0N66X4— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) October 14, 2019
To be clear, this has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with his fear of the Trump Administration.
11:30: From Newsweek:
“I also want to say that the impeachment proceedings that are going on and what the Democrats are doing themselves to try to weaken this president is part of this,” [Liz] Cheney, who represents Wyoming and is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, argued.
“It was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border,” she claimed. “And I think the Democrats have got to pay very careful attention to the damage that they’re doing with the impeachment proceedings.”
What? WHAT? Are you kidding me? They’re gonna blame the Democrats for this too? Instead of blaming the President’s gut, which has shit for brains? From the NYTimes:
Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.
10:00: Trump is tweeting like this was the plan, all along, yelling at Brian Kilmeade on Fox & Friends for daring to speak out against him over Syria.
This is a Republican Congressman from Illinois, reacting to more Trump lies.
I just…. i mean…. what? @realDonaldTrump I thought you were going to defeat ISIS, that is why people voted for you. What changed? This is weakness. America is far more honorable than this. https://t.co/N5IqSKqSTC— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) October 14, 2019
Past presidents have made costly mistakes. But I don’t doubt the gravity of those errors weighed heavily on them. I’m not sure Trump even understands what he has done in Syria or whether he cares. Or is capable of caring.— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) October 14, 2019
The big story with regard to the impeachment inquiry over the weekend is that EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland — one of the diplomats who orchestrated relations between Trump and Ukraine, and who is on the other side of several of the texts that strongly suggests a quid pro quo — will testify this week over the objections of Trump and the State Department. According to The Washington Post, Sondland will testify that when he texted that there was no quid pro quo to another diplomat concerned that military aid was being tied to political aid that it was Trump who directly relayed the message to him.
By Sept. 9, Sondland, however, had grown increasingly concerned, as military funding for Ukraine now appeared tied to the statement as well. The person said Sondland was never briefed about Biden being part of the issue and was not aware of it until the transcript of the phone call was released. “If he had known earlier, he never would have touched this.”
It’s bullshit that Sondland didn’t know that Biden was involved in the investigation, but it’s important here to note that Sondland also believed military aid was being tied to the investigation, and that Trump is the one who tried to cover his ass by directly relaying the “no quid pro quo” message to Sondland.
For the moment, that’s it for impeachment news, although note that Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, is expected to testify in front of the House today. I expect she will echo much of what Marie Yovanovitch said on Friday with regard to morale.
Indeed, the State Department’s morale has bottomed out, because career diplomats are being used by Trump for political purposes. Likewise, morale in the military is also in a terrible place, after Trump pulled U.S. forces out of Syria and left our Kurdish allies unprotected. From The Times:
But now, with the White House revoking protection for these Kurdish fighters, some of the Special Forces officers who battled alongside the Kurds say they feel deep remorse at orders to abandon their allies.
“They trusted us and we broke that trust,” one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria said last week in a telephone interview. “It’s a stain on the American conscience.”
“I’m ashamed,” said another officer who had also served in northern Syria. Both officers spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals from their chains of command.
Meanwhile, General John Allen — a retired four-star general — is saying what a lot of folks in the military believe right now: “There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies.” The atrocities committed in Syria over the weekend were horrific, so much so that the Kurds have been forced to strike a deal with Syria’s Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad, who is sending in troops to stave off the Turkish offensive.
So, basically, we lost an ally to the Russians and the Iranians, hundreds of ISIS supports have escaped their prisons, Kurds are being massacred, Turks are committing war crimes, Europeans are freaking out because this mess creates a huge security risk for them.
This is 100 percent Trump’s fault. Apparently, he and Erdogan were in a toxic pissing match and both men called each other’s bluff. This entire mess started because one authoritarian leader said to the other, “I’m going to start a war,” and the other one was like, “Go ahead, I dare you,” and the first one was, “OK, I will,” and the second one was like, “Fine, but I’m pulling our troops, and you’ll have to own the mess,” and Erdogan was like, “Whatever,” and Trump was like, “Whatever.” And now hundreds are dead.
And the big winner in all of this is Putin. From the AP:
The U.S. military withdrawal from northern Syria before a Turkish offensive leaves Russia as the ultimate power broker, allowing it to help negotiate a potential agreement between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Kurds who were abandoned by Washington.
And in Ukraine, where the new president saw his image dented by a U.S. impeachment inquiry, Russia may use the volatility to push for a deal that would secure its leverage over its western neighbor.
Worth emphasising the scale of the disaster Trump has wrought in the week since his call with Erdogan. 1. Revived Isis. 2. Cemented Assad’s grip on Syria. 3. Handed Russia yet another geopolitical windfall. 4. Betrayed the Kurds. 5. Immeasurably harmed US power. Thread 1.— Edward Luce (@EdwardGLuce) October 14, 2019
Meanwhile, the President’s supporters are also showing a video that depicts Trump “shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting” members of the media during a pro-Trump conference at Trump’s Miami resort.
Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Ms. Sanders and a person close to Mr. Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference.
The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”
He shot a person with BLM superimposed on their face in the fucking head I’m speechless— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) October 14, 2019