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Trumpdates: Republican Trolling Backfires

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 31, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 31, 2019 |


3:30: A few updates here. First off, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent “moving boxes” to some Democrats to mock them over their impeachment vote, and this happened:

Meanwhile, the first political appointee to testify, Tim Morrison, seems to largely confirm Bill Taylor’s testimony, with one caveat: He didn’t think it was illegal, which sounds like a Tim Morrison problem to me.

11:30 — The vote to officially endorse the impeachment inquiry went down as everyone expected it would. The final vote was 232-196, with Republicans united against. Two Democrats — a New Jersey’s Rep. Van Drew and Minnesota’s Rep. Peterson — voted with Republicans.

See, y’all? The midterms matter.

Thursday, 9:15 a.m. — Good morning. Happy Halloween, and congrats to all those fans of the Washington Nationals — bandwagon and otherwise — who are celebrating a remarkable World Series run this morning. It was the “boo” juice the Nats got from their fans’ reception to Donald Trump that pushed them over the top. I’m sure of it.

Today’s a big day in the impeachment process, as the House will formally vote on rules. They’re not voting on Article of Impeachment (that will come later). They’re basically opening the process up by making it an “official” impeachment inquiry, which means a few things: Testimony will be open to the public, but the minority Republicans will also have more power to ask questions and invite rebuttal witnesses (although, Republican subpoenas will still be subject to Democrats approval). Trump will also be allowed legal representation. It should allow Democrats to speed up the process.

The Republicans have been making bad-faith arguments, suggesting that — because the impeachment inquiry was conducted behind closes doors — that due process was denied in the first part of the inquiry, and everything that flows is “fruit of the poisonous tree.” It’s a completely bullsh*t argument, and the Republican Congresspeople who attended law school know that. Findings made in a closed-door grand jury process are not fruit of the poisonous tree, and neither is any of the evidence discovered in the impeachment inquiry so far. Word is that William Taylor — who offered the most damning testimony — will be willing to appear in public hearings. John Bolton, likewise, has been invited, but he awaits a subpoena, which the Democrats, I’m sure, will have no problem providing. Bolton could ultimately provide explosive public testimony because he’s an explosive personality.

The impeachment inquiry will ultimately be responsible for providing a report, which will provide the basis for Articles of Impeachment. The vote on formally opening an impeachment inquiry is expected to fall along party lines. I wouldn’t expect any surprises, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were any, either.

While the vote is being conducted later this morning, House impeachment investigators will also be interviewing Tim Morrison, a National Security Council official. He was a political appointee who resigned yesterday, ahead of his interview.

7:15 — Pretty easy fix here.

4:15 — Most of the action today has taken place behind the scenes. Two State Department officials have given testimony to House investigators. Meanwhile, Trump is calling Republicans to the White House in an effort to make sure that no one falls out of line ahead of tomorrow’s vote to officially approve the impeachment inquiry (there is some concern that a retiring Congressional Republican from Florida may vote with Democrats). Trump is also urging Congressional leaders to defend him on the substance, but there’s not much to defend there, so McConnell and others are sticking to the process question, suggesting that the impeachment procedures the House has laid out do not meet due process (they do, in fact, give Trump the right to a lawyer, and Republicans the right to question witnesses and even invite their own).

Democrats have also requested John Bolton testify. He has not yet responded.

Oh, and while this is not related to the impeachment inquiry, it’s interesting. Instead of decided what political ads it will and will not allow, Twitter has decided that it will ban all political ads.

It’s a better approach than that of Facebook, but it doesn’t really take into account the fact that political messages on Twitter are compromised by money and bots, and that there’s still an unearthly amount of misinformation floating around on there.

This, though, is Jack Dorsey straight-up calling Zuckerberg out, and I am here for one supervillain taking another down a notch.

9:40 — I usually ignore Trump tweets, but this one is hilariously pathetic. For the last couple of weeks, all Trump has probably heard about the GOP Senate is that they won’t defend the substance of the impeachment inquiry — because there is nothing to defend — so they narrow their focus on the “process.” This is Trump’s way of saying, “Hey assholes! Go out there and defend me on the merits!” I don’t know that he’s going to get a lot of takers among those that matter.

(What is “infair”?)

Wednesday, 9:20 a.m. — It has not been a big news morning with regard to the impeachment inquiry. Yesterday, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman testified, seemingly confirming much of what we already knew. He also highlighed a July 10th meeting in which EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and Burisma to the dismay of state department officials in the room, as well as John Bolton, who cut the meeting short. From The Post:
[Fiona] Hill then returned upstairs to relay what she had witnessed to Bolton, who exploded, saying, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, had met with Sondland on several occasions to discuss Ukraine.

A clear picture is emerging, and all the testimony consistently points toward quid pro quo. John Bolton, however, could be the clincher, not because he can add any more to the conversation, but because of who he is. He has not yet agreed to meet with House impeachment investigators, but I hope that when he does, his testimony is public. He seems to hate Trump, and as bad a dude as Bolton is, I’d still like to see him rip into the President on TV.

Fox News and Trump’s allies did continue their smear attempts on Vindman yesterday. Here’s my favorite clip of the day: MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace calling Laura Ingraham a “chickenshit.”

That insult is also directed at Alan Dershowitz, who continues his descent into the gutter.

Meanwhile, today’s testimony comes from Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two mid-level bureaucrats in the State Department who are experts on Ukraine. I expect they will mostly confirm what we already know, as the House Democrats buttress their case against the President. Croft in particular is expected to throw another name into the mix, a Republican lobbyist named Robert Livingston, who also pressured the State Department to fire Ambassador Yovanovitch, saying that she was an Obama holdover and connected to George Soros.

9:00 — According to the Alexander Vindman, who testified in front of House impeachment investigators today, the transcript of the “perfect, beautiful” call between Trump and Zelensky is missing a few words and phrases.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases, and that his attempts to restore them failed, according to three people familiar with the testimony.

The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.

Vindman made edits to the transcript, but two of those edits were rejected. Once the transcript was “locked down” in the server for classified materials, no more edits were allowed to be made.

4:55 — I sincerely love how much Sean Duffy’s bullshit this morning is blowing back on him. Check out the ratio on this tweet:

CNN’s Jake Tapper and Brianna Keilar have also delivered scorching critiques of Sean Duffy on their respective CNN shows this afternoon, which is great. But also, Sean Duffy is a paid CNN contributor. CNN gave Sean Duffy this venue. If CNN had not given Sean Duffy this venue, this bullshit line of attack would have been limited to Fox News.

So, like, don’t put jackasses like Sean Duffy on legitimate news networks, otherwise, you run the risk of either losing your legitimacy or creating your own circular bullshit firing squad.

12:30 — Here’s the President calling Vindman a “Never Trumper,” who he thinks of as “human scum.”

Here’s Liz Cheney, standing in front of Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, basically saying, “Stop attacking the patriotism of those testifying against the President.” Make of that what you will.

Tuesday, 9:15 a.m. — Alexander Vindman, an American foreign affairs specialist serving on the National Security Council as director for European Affairs, will be testifying in front of House impeachment investigators today. He listened in on the July 25 call between Donald Trump and Ukranian President Zelensky. He will testify that he was so alarmed by the phone call that he reported it to the NSC’s lead counsel. In his opening statement, Vindman notes:

“I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.”

He’s also testifying to a July 10th meeting in which EU Ambassador Sondland asked Ukraine to launch investigations into the Bidens in order to get a meeting with President Trump, a meeting that John Bolton and Fiona Hill cut short, telling Sondland that his comments were inappropriate. Rick Perry was also at that meeting.

Needless to say, the testimony is damning. So, what are the Republicans doing to get ahead of this? They’re trying to smear Alexander Vindman. Vindman served two decades for the army. He is an Iraq War veteran. He received a Purple Heart after being injured by a roadside IED in Iraq. He would otherwise seem unimpeachable. However, when he was four years old, he immigrated to American from Ukraine — well, from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, to be exact. It doesn’t exist anymore.

Can you guess where this is going? Here’s former Congressman Sean Duffy — yes, the guy from The Real World — on CNN suggested that Vindman has dual loyalties.

It’s pretty goddamn disgraceful, and to be honest, CNN should never have allowed Duffy to go on their network to spout Fox News talking points. But Duffy is not the only guy pulling this sh*t this morning.

Meanwhile, in lieu of a Trump image, I have changed the header photo to Bradley Cooper giving the world’s most intense wave. When Bradley Cooper says hello, he fucking means it.

9:30 — This is not good (if you’re Trump). From the NYTimes:

A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

Of particular interest? He was one of the national security advisors listening in on the July 25th phone call.

“Colonel Vindman drafted a memorandum in mid-August that sought to restart security aid that was being withheld from Ukraine, but Mr. Trump refused to sign it.”

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman will be testifying in front of the House tomorrow. I look forward to more stories about how GOP Senators are tired of defending Trump tomorrow.

4:00 — The Republicans have been arguing for weeks about process, crying foul because there’s been no “transparency” in the impeachment inquiry. On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats will vote for a formal impeachment inquiry, which will make proceedings public. It’s going to get a lot worse now that Senate Republicans will lose the process argument and have to fall back on defending the merits of the case.

It should also help to grease the wheels for information, and if the White House refuses to comply, make the obstruction charge an easier one to prove.

10:20 — Real quickly on the impeachment proceedings. Veterans are coming out in support of Bill Taylor, who Trump has been attacking needlessly as a Never Trumper and “human scum.” Republican Senator Ron Johnson has gotten himself caught in between his desire to serve the President and to serve Ukraine, and he’s kind of up to his eyeballs in conflicts. Meanwhile, as House Democrats seek testimony from those closer to the President, they are starting to get more pushback.

Finally, The Post ran another one of those, “Senate Republicans are ‘dreading having to weigh their conscience against their political calculations’” pieces that I can’t resist clicking on. It delivers, too, with some choice quotes from anonymous Republican Senators, Senatorial aides, and other conservatives:

— “It feels like a horror movie.”

— “It’s been piling on, piling on, piling on, and I see defense fatigue on behalf of the Republicans in the Congress.”

— “There’s frustration. It feels to everyone like they’re just digging a hole and making it worse. It just never ends. . . . It’s a total [expletive] show.”

— “What’s causing the most pause is, what else is out there? What is around the corner? If they say something in defense of the president or against the impeachment inquiry now, will they be pouring cement around their ankles?”

— “Everybody in their heart is nervous.”

Quotes like those give me life.

Yesterday, Donald Trump woke up and spoke to the nation about putting an ISIS leader down “like a dog.” In the same speech, he tried to underplay the killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid approved by President Obama, tried to suggest that he predicted the rise of Osama bin Laden before 9/11 (he did not), and generally made a mockery of his office while delivering what was ostensibly good news (the good news was complicated by the fact that the Kurds helped the U.S. military track down Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before we abandoned the Kurds, and the fact that the Syria pull-out actually made it more difficult to capture Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi).

Trump — probably under the wrong impression that this raid would change the American perception of a very unpopular President — attended a Washington Nationals World Series game last night, where he was loudly booed before the entire stadium erupted into a chant of, “Lock him up.” The way Trump’s face fell when the crowd started booing is one of very few pleasure much of this country has received over the last three years.

Because the media ruins everything, this morning there is a silly debate over whether it was appropriate to chant “Lock him up,” at the President.

Let me just answer that question real quickly: Yes it is appropriate and shut the f**k up. The “Lock Him Up” chant was not made in isolation. Fifty-thousand people, most of whom probably think that the President should be removed from office and imprisoned, did not simply make up this “Lock him up” chant. They did not chant “Lock him up” out of disrespect for the office of the Presidency. They chanted “lock him up” out of a lack of respect for Donald Trump. It was a sort of sarcastic mockery. They were using his words against him. They were basically saying, “How does it feel, Mr. President, to be on the receiving end of a chant that you and your followers originated and have been using to target people guilty of no crimes for the last four years?”

And yes, Joe, we do want the world to hear us chant “lock him up,” because we want the rest of the world to understand that we have as little regard for our President as they do. It was a rare opportunity for the Americans to publicly voice their opinion to the President en masse. Donald Trump does not hold town halls. He doesn’t even grant interviews to outlets that challenge him. The only time he otherwise speaks in public is to a curated, adoring audience during rallies. Hell, even over the weekend, when he spoke about criminal justice reform in a historically black college, those students were not allowed to attend. In fact, they were forced to stay in their dorms during his visit. He spoke to a crowd of 300. Only ten students were allowed.

This was a rare moment where the crowd could speak to the President on behalf of the majority of the country. It was a chance for the crowd there to say to a President in no uncertain terms that we do not care for him, that we believe he should be impeached and imprisoned, and to do so in a way that would not allow him to gaslight the American public into believing otherwise.

So, yeah: It was appropriate. It was very f**king appropriate.

Header Image Source: Getty Images