The Intelligence Whistleblower’s Life Is Over Because the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act Does NOT Actually Protect Intelligence Community and National Security Whistleblowers!

Right now only a very limited number of people know the name of the Intelligence official or officer who filed the whistleblower complaint with the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG). She or he is represented by a top national security lawyer, who is of counsel for a firm that specializes in national security law, classification, and clearance related issues. I have no doubt that by late Wednesday evening, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was most likely called by the President and told to figure out which senior Intelligence officials and officers were assigned to the National Security Council’s National Security Staff over the summer and returned to their home agency in late July or early August in order to figure out who made the complaint. By last night the President’s surrogates started impugning the whistleblower as an Obama holdover or loyalist or a deep state actor acting out of political motivations. The President, of course, decided to pick up that argument this morning on Twitter and during his ongoing press gaggle in the Oval Office. And we now have this reporting:

At this point, if they haven’t done so already, the Intelligence official or officer who made the complaint and his or her attorneys should have plans in place to both mitigate potential retaliatory legal action the administration might take and to safeguard her or his life and that of his or her family. The reason these actions are necessary is because the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act DOES NOT ACTUALLY PROTECT WHISTLEBLOWERS! Ken McClanahan, an attorney specializing in national security law, classification, and clearance provides a handy explainer at Just Security.

What is the ICWPA?

The ICWPA holds the dubious distinction of being the only “Whistleblower Protection Act” that doesn’t actually include any whistleblower protections. To summarize the law’s extensive history, I’ll say: It originally was intended to provide protections for national security whistleblowers who wanted to go to Congress, but was watered down in the final iteration due to separation of powers objections from the executive branch. While keeping the original – and misleading – name, the final law only really established a mechanism for Intelligence Community whistleblowers to forward a complaint to the congressional intelligence committees by way of an inspector general. It is a breakdown in this process that Schiff is flagging.

What is the ICWPA process?

Simply speaking, if a whistleblower working for an Intelligence Community agency wants to bring something to the attention of the congressional intelligence committees, they must write up a complaint and give it to either their agency’s inspector general or the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), specifically stating that it is an ICWPA complaint. The ICIG then has 14 days to decide if the complaint pertains to an “urgent concern” and if it is credible.

I highly recommend the rest of McClanahan’s explainer if you really want to understand what the process dispute between the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Department of Justice, and the White House over the Acting Director’s refusal to submit the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s report finding the complaint to be both urgent and credible to Congress.

The ICWPA does not actually protect Intelligence Community and national security whistleblowers. It also, contrary to Rachel Maddow’s hyper-enthusiastic statements during and after her interview with Congressman Schiff last night, DOES NOT PROVIDE THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL OR OFFICER WITH ANY OTHER LAWFUL WAY TO GET THIS INFORMATION TO CONGRESS!!!!!!! Whoever the whistleblower is, she or he is not now entitled under the ICPWA to go directly to Congress because the Acting DNI, on the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ and the White House, presumably the White House Counsel’s Office, have determined not to forward the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s findings to Congress as required by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act. If this Intelligence official or officer tries to take the information that is the basis of his or her complaint directly to the House Special Committee on Intelligence, she or he will be in jeopardy for prosecution under the Espionage Act. Because it is not up to this Intelligence official or officer to determine if Congressman Schiff and the members of his committee need to know this information.

This Intelligence official or officer is not, under the law, a whistleblower. They are basically, at most, a lawful complainant about a counterintelligence and insider threat concerning the President to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. He or she has no protection under the law. And based on how the President and his surrogates are talking about her or him, and the reporting that “administration officials”, most likely the Acting Director of National Intelligence and his senior counsel, have shared additional information with the White House so they can determine if executive privilege should be invoked and asserted, it is highly likely that if the White House has not figured out who this Intelligence official or officer is, they likely have a short list of possibilities and will work it out sooner rather than later. Once that happens, this Intelligence official or officers life as they know it, not just their career, will be over. All for following the law. A badly written law that provides no actual protections for the person bringing the complaint. And it will all be done under the cover of law.

Open thread!

PS: DO NOT TAKE LEGAL ADVICE IN GENERAL AND LEGAL ADVICE ON NATIONAL SECURITY, CLASSIFICATION, AND/OR CLEARANCE ISSUES FROM RACHEL MADDOW. UNLESS YOU WANT TO GO TO PRISON FOR A VERY, VERY LONG TIME!

PPS: For a fuller, very technical treatment of this issue, as well as last night’s post, please check out my weekly column at The Ark Valley Voice. I focused on these issues for this week’s column.

PPPS: I did a slight editorial clarification to the fifth sentence of the final paragraph and added a new final sentence to the final paragraph of this post.






268 replies
  1. 1
    walden says:

    So what if the name makes its way to the Intel Committee….just the name. And then the Intel Committee subpoenas the complainant. Shouldn’t the complainant then be able to appear/answer questions under law in a secure environment….without violating any law?

  2. 2
    eric says:

    @walden: not if the president invokes executive privilege. which he will.

  3. 3
    dr. bloor says:

    @walden: IANAL, but that would still violate any claim of executive privilege, no?

  4. 4
    Heywood J. says:

    Still convinced the whistleblower is Dan Coats, or one of his direct subordinates who was finally moved to action when the boss resigned. So difficult to tell when the entire administration is made up of nothing but snakes and turds.

  5. 5
    Millard Filmore says:

    @walden:

    Shouldn’t the complainant then be able to appear/answer questions under law in a secure environment….without violating any law?

    That assumes Barr will allow this spook to run around freely. My paranoia leads down the path of this person will be arrested on trumped up charges and isolated in prison. No chance to talk with anyone.

    I said a few years ago, when our spooks start moving their families out of this country, that is the time to panic.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Executive privilege can’t prevent anyone from talking. It only prevents people from being compelled to talk.

  7. 7
    Heywood J. says:

    One thing becoming more and more clear as this trudges on is that the scope of “executive privilege” needs to be reined in, and have real qualifiers appended to it. A clinically insane chief executive cannot be allowed to compromise national security on a weekly basis, then hide behind “executive privilege” every time. I thought the idea here was that we don’t have a king.

  8. 8
    Betty Cracker says:

    Once that happens, this Intelligence official or officers life, not just their career, will be over. All for following the law. A badly written law that provides no actual protections for the person bringing the complaint.

    In that case, he or she might as well forward a transcript of the call to The Washington Post.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The Fascist crybaby in the White House needs to be removed, and then prosecuted.

  10. 10
    dr. bloor says:

    @Baud: Not only should whistleblowers not take their advice from Maddow, they shouldn’t listen to you either. The privilege is the executive’s, not the witness’s.

  11. 11
    Mandalay says:

    Once that happens, this Intelligence official or officers life, not just their career, will be over.

    What exactly do you mean by their “life…will be over“? Are you suggesting that they will be killed, or driven to suicide, or go to the slammer for a long, long time? And if not, in what sense would their life “be over“?

    If Trump goes down over this (which is possible, if unlikely at present) then I can envisage that whistleblower becoming a national hero to millions of Americans.

  12. 12
    Baud says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Right. The executive can prevent someone from being compelled to talk. It can’t stop Mike Pence from writing a tell all book disclosing his conversations with Trump.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay: The whistleblower is already a hero to me. Anyone who damages Donald in any way deserves to be seen as a hero.

  14. 14
    Heywood J. says:

    @Mandalay:

    Are you suggesting that they will be killed, or driven to suicide, or go to the slammer for a long, long time?

    Ask Jeff Epstein. Compromising the wrong people doesn’t end well.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    Thanks for this. Worth remembering that NatSec and intel data have multiple and various pathways, some of which are extremely undocumented.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    I don’t know why the House can’t grant immunity to the whistleblower wants to testify.

  17. 17
    la caterina says:

    The whistleblower will have no trouble raising funds for legal fees and security measures. What would Mango Mussolini do if say, Angela Merkel offers them safe haven in Germany? She seems to have the balls for a move like that.

  18. 18
    Jinchi says:

    Once that happens, this Intelligence official or officers life, not just their career, will be over.

    Just to be clear. You’re saying that you think this person will be murdered by the Trump administration.

  19. 19
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Heywood J.: My guess would be Sue Gordon, the career CIA official who served as Coats’ deputy and should have succeeded him as acting DNI but was passed over at Trump’s insistence and subsequently resigned. Nothing fishy about that unprecedented move, nosiree!

  20. 20
    Mike in DC says:

    Executive privilege doesn’t apply to testimonial or documentary evidence of criminal and/or impeachable acts. US v Nixon. Convene a formal impeachment proceeding and subpoena the whistleblower’s testimony.

  21. 21
    JGabriel says:

    Adam Schiff @ Top:

    The Intelligence Whistleblower’s Life Is Over …

    So is the ICIG’s¹, probably. I suspect the WH will eventually go after Atkinson too, for merely having the effrontery to agree that the whistlblower’s complaint had merit – instead of shrugging, tossing the complaint in the garbage, and reporting the whistleblower to the DNI and the White House.

    (¹Intelligence Community Inspector General)

  22. 22
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jinchi: I would not put this past Donald and his henchmen. They are all criminal monsters.

  23. 23
    Baud says:

    @Jinchi:

    if they haven’t done so already, the Intelligence official or officer who made the complaint and his or her attorneys should have plans in place to both mitigate potential retaliatory legal action the administration might take and to safeguard her or his life and that of his or her family

    That’s what he’s saying. I don’t know what the basis for it is.

  24. 24
    randy_khan says:

    @dr. bloor:

    There’s no penalty for a witness who testifies despite a claim of executive privilege. It’s generally used to protect people who don’t want to testify. Heck, a lot of what’s in insider memoirs would be subject to executive privilege.

  25. 25
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    Or you go ahead, get the fuck out of the country and make your announcement from Havana, some beach resort in Costa Rica, Angela Merkel’s living room or Macron’s front porch.

  26. 26
    Another Scott says:

    @Baud: Presumably, though, if the person testifying gives up classified information without authorization to do so, then they’re putting themselves in legal jeopardy.

    And any Congressional grant of immunity would only apply to testimony before Congress, right? Barr could prosecute him/her in other ways (though it would be difficult, c.f. Ollie North).

    Basically, if Barr wants to make it difficult for someone called to testify, he has many, many ways to do so. Even if he’s obviously thwarting the clearly stated law.

    Grr…

    All that said, IANAL.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  27. 27
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I’m OK with persecuting the entire Trump family in all generations, as a lesson for others.

  28. 28
    Baud says:

    @Another Scott:

    Yes, the classified issue is a real issue. Executive privilege is not if the witness wants to testify.

    I’m not sure how broad the immunity power is.

  29. 29
    West of the Rockies says:

    Seems to me, Adam, an opportune time for the IC to ponder strategic, pointed leakage.

  30. 30
    JGabriel says:

    Heywood J.:

    Still convinced the whistleblower is Dan Coats, or one of his direct subordinates who was finally moved to action when the boss resigned.

    Perhaps, but reports of Atkinson’s testimony seem to imply that whoever the whistleblower is, it’s someone who is still employed by the gov’t in the intel community.

  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @walden: May be lawfully allowed to appear. May not answer any questions pertaining to the complaint.

  32. 32
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    Weird that neither Anonymous nor Assange’s minions at Wikileaks have hacked any of this information that deserves to be free.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Heywood J.: It isn’t Coats. Coats, as DNI, could go and disclose anything he felt necessary to disclose, as an Original Classification Authority, whenever he felt the need to do so. If it had been Coats he could have just gone and told everything to HPSCI as his last act before resigning.

  34. 34
    MJS says:

    @Another Scott: And thus will it ever be the case as long as those who know this stuff insist on following the law. We need a Daniel Elsberg and a circa early 1970s Washington Post, stat.

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Betty Cracker: No, that would ensure that Barr’s DOJ would do an Espionage Act prosecution. And do it ASAP.

  36. 36
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Justin Trudeau’s closer, and would probably welcome the distraction

  37. 37
    vhh says:

    @Mandalay: See for example, Daniel Ellsberg, who escaped prison only because the prosecution did dumb things, like break into his psychiatrist’s office. Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers came before Watergate, and may have been an early triggering event for an epidemic of truth telling from exec branch insiders from John Dean to Mark “Deep Throat” Felt. Depending on how brave the intelligence official in question is, and how capable his lawyer, we might see something similar. Or not.

  38. 38
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: They can be legally ruined through prosecution. They can have their clearances stripped, which is the key to getting work in government and out of it for this type of work. So they can be prosecuted or they can be professionally ruined. Or both.

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @vhh:

    That reminds me. Where have all the pro-Snowden voices gone?

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jinchi: No. I’m saying they will be prosecuted and/or have their clearances stripped. They will be professionally ruined under cover of the law.

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jinchi: I’ll change that to “their life, as they know it”.

  42. 42
    Jinchi says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I would not put this past Donald and his henchmen.

    I wouldn’t put it past them either, but let’s be clear.

    Whoever this is acted under the understanding that their career could be ended just by bringing this up. But they also pursued a legal path to report official wrongdoing. That means they assume other people in the government (the IG, the DNI and other witnesses to the same act) will also act on the information. There should be no legal jeopardy to this person and certainly no physical jeopardy that wouldn’t involve immediate consequences, including the immediate revelation of the “urgent” allegations.

    If they can’t depend on that, then future whistleblowers will simply follow Edward Snowden’s route to transparency.

  43. 43
    Heywood J. says:

    @Betty Cracker: Yeah, that seems like a pretty solid guess too.

  44. 44
    Mandalay says:

    @Jinchi:

    You’re saying that you think this person will be murdered by the Trump administration.

    I realize that we are wandering into the twilight zone of highly irresponsible speculation, but it’s conceivable that the ship has already sailed, and murdering the whistle blower would achieve little at this stage.

    The whistle blower may already have established a process for the dirt to be dumped “…in the event of my death or disappearance…“.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Leto says:

    …because the Acting DNI, on the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ and the White House, presumably the White House Counsel’s Office, have determined not to forward the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s findings to Congress as required by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.

    Kay wrote, in a thread downstairs, that we need to have tightly written laws that, I guess, force people to follow them, or makes it less likely that they break them? I’m going to point out, again, that they DON’T GIVE A FUCK. Look at the Trumpov tax return request filed by Richard Neal: plain black letter law with no ambiguity. They DON’T GIVE A FUCK. They’re going to break the law, keep breaking the law, and will probably 99.9999% get away with it. People who are now saying, “Wait till he’s out of office, we’ll get him then!” are offering up the Dem equivalent of, “Lock her up!” It ain’t gonna happen.

  47. 47
    Baud says:

    @Mandalay:

    we are wandering into the twilight zone of highly irresponsible speculation

    Or as we like to call it, Balloon Juice.

  48. 48
    Heywood J. says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: I want their kids to have to change the family name. Again.

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JGabriel: Atkinson is a career DOJ guy, who the President appointed to this position about six months ago. From what I can tell, he’s about as non-partisan as well.

  50. 50
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for keeping us up to date with this issue.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: Because some nutjob might decide to take his 2nd Amendment rights out for some exercise because they think a traitor needs to be neutralized. This person has opened him or herself up to a world of hurt over this. They have my utmost professional and personal respect.

  52. 52
    Calouste says:

    Seems like quite a few people have a fairly good idea of both the identity of the whistleblower and the contents of the complaint. I doubt both will stay secret to the public for long.

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @randy_khan: In this case, the testimony would be of classified and compartmented information that the Original Classification Authorities, in this case the Acting DNI, has determined that Congress does not need to know. Providing this testimony would leave the whistleblower open to prosecution under the Espionage Act.

  54. 54
    waspuppet says:

    I have no doubt that by late Wednesday evening, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was most likely called by the President and told to figure out which senior Intelligence officials and officers were assigned to the National Security Council’s National Security Staff over the summer and returned to their home agency in late July or early August in order to figure out who made the complaint.

    I have no doubt that they were told something to that effect. I also have no doubt that Trump did not use anything even remotely resembling those words. More like “Find out who did this to me,” or worse.

  55. 55
    Martin says:

    @Heywood J.: I don’t think it is, however that incident where he interrupts a meeting and tells Sue Gordon she needs to resign is very, very odd. Something happened on that day. I don’t know if it was this or something else. It may have been this incident but neither of them was the whistleblower.

  56. 56
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @West of the Rockies: They’ve been doing strategic, pointed leakage for the past three days.

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    If Trump is successful, then the identity of the person will never become public. If not, then that person faces the same risk as the average prominent Democrat.

  58. 58
    randy_khan says:

    @dr. bloor:
    [Stupid me – For once, WordPress is not at fault. I’d like to blame the small type for this, but I actually forgot what I’d written.]

    I’m mostly replying because that post was attributed to baud, not me (randy_khan, in case WordPress does it again), so that baud doesn’t get inappropriate blame.

    But executive privilege is not a law; there are no criminal or civil penalties for talking about things that are subject to the privilege. It’s a shield that witnesses can use when an Administration wants to invoke it, nothing more.

  59. 59
    Betty Cracker says:

    @West of the Rockies: Yeah, I’m sure the intelligence community will spring into action with targeted leaks any minute now. [eyeroll emoji] Okay, in all seriousness, it’s probably unfair to be this cynical about the IC, especially since it appears one of their number has put his or her nads on the line in this case.

    But I grew weary of waiting for our much-vaunted IC to take action to prevent Trump from transforming the US into the North American outpost of the Russian Federation in all but fucking name about three years ago. It made me suspect that a) they ain’t all that and therefore don’t have a massive trove of incriminating information about Trump and his decades-long criminal enterprise, or b) they’re more focused on protecting their own asses and assets than safeguarding the country.

  60. 60
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Gotcha. I had misinterpreted your statement by taking it too literally. My bad.

  61. 61
    geg6 says:

    Fuck it. If I was the whistleblower, I’d realize my life was over and I’d get on national tv and tell the whole fucking tale, along with any others I might have witnessed. Just…fuck it. Nothing left to lose.

  62. 62
    Baud says:

    @randy_khan:

    so that baud doesn’t get inappropriate blame.

    I’m used to it. But thanks!

  63. 63
    Martin says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yeah. I mean, we’ve already had a QAnon believer murder a gangster and another fire a gun in a pizza joint. The venn diagram of overeager gun owners and delusional QAnon believers has to be pretty seriously overlapping.

  64. 64
    Jinchi says:

    @Baud:

    I’m not sure how broad the immunity power is.

    My understanding is that Congress can give immunity to force a witness to testify to illegal acts (see Oliver North). But they can’t compel a witness to commit the illegal act itself. The argument is that forcing testimony in this case would be illegal, even if Trump is guilty as charged. Since Barr argues that the president literally cannot commit a crime, the witness could not claim to be reporting one.

    Personally, I don’t believe that legal argument would withstand the light of day, but it still puts the witness in legal jeopardy.

  65. 65
    MJS says:

    @geg6: I think I’d first place a call to Tom Steyer, to see if he wanted to put his money where his mouth is re: impeachment. “Hey Tom, I’m willing to go on national TV and blow the lid off this, if you’re willing to foot the bill for my legal defense and income needs for the next 20-30 years. I’ll even give you a shout out. What do you say?”

  66. 66
    surfk9 says:

    The assumption here is that the information was classified. Is an overheard phone conversation necessarily classified?

  67. 67
    Heywood J. says:

    @Leto: I think part of the reason Trump admires Andrew Jackson is not just because he was a racist and a boor (though those are certainly pluses), but someone explained to him along the line the old Jackson quote about John Marshall making a ruling, “now let him enforce it.” Trump is clearly dumber than a bag of rocks, but he clearly understands that laws and power don’t mean anything if nobody enforces them, and that the king’s power creates its own kind of inertia underneath his potential opponents.

    In the current case, it’s demonstrated by dithering, and failing to present a simple, consistent, unified message. Barr has so quickly and efficiently cemented this strategy into place, there is probably no way to get to Trump without impeaching Barr first. The guy’s evil, but he’s good at what he does, as one tends to be when you decide that rules and norms and laws only mean what you say they mean, neither more nor less.

    Also, too.

  68. 68
    patrick II says:

    @Heywood J.:

    Executive privilege has been pretty narrowly defined by the courts. Ask Richard Nixon. But with the Trump presidency legality means little. Trump and his minions have committed numerous illegal and impeachable offenses, including asserting executive privilege, or refusing to let people testify, or holding back tax returns, or whatever law they feel like breaking that day. There is no legal fix when law itself is treated with disdain and there is no one willing, and you can include Nancy in that group, to hold them responsible. Laws are assertions that go through a process that our civilization has agreed to treat as authoritative — nothing more. Not orders from god. When we no longer agree to the authority of the constitutional congress’s lawmaking authority, we are no longer a democracy. It’s only consensus, not divine authority, that holds us together.

  69. 69
    randy_khan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    That’s a different question than the executive privilege question, but obviously equally relevant. I was talking only about EP.

  70. 70
    Timurid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The event/actions that triggered the whistleblower must have been truly horrific to make him/her accept this level of both risk and unavoidable consequences.

  71. 71
    Heywood J. says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Fair enough. Thanks for clarifying that.

  72. 72
    TenguPhule says:

    He or she has no protection under the law.

    While Trump, Pence, McConnell and their merry fellow traitors are under the full protection of the current legal system.

    Burn it all down.

  73. 73
    Martin says:

    @Jinchi:

    My understanding is that Congress can give immunity to force a witness to testify to illegal acts (see Oliver North). But they can’t compel a witness to commit the illegal act itself. The argument is that forcing testimony in this case would be illegal, even if Trump is guilty as charged. Since Barr argues that the president literally cannot commit a crime, the witness could not claim to be reporting one.

    Congress is not bound by whatever bullshit the DOJ puts out. They are a coequal branch capable of fabricating their own bullshit, TYVM. But Congressional Dems are not interested in burning down what remains of our constitutional fabric so they defer to those rules quite regularly. But there are points where they can diverge from them.

    That’s the whole tapdance from the Mueller hearing – the jurisdiction and rules that the DOJ claims do not extend to Congress. Congress can accuse the President of whatever crime they want through the impeachment process and find him guilty and levy penalties regardless of what the DOJ thinks. They can do that for anyone who required confirmation by Congress.

    Nobody should be so cavalier to seek out the uncertainty of which branch of government prevails in their ability to remain a free citizen, but at some point this individual may be forced to do so simply because their fate by the executive branch is probably already determined, and an appeal to Congress may be their only recourse. The WH has a real knack of burning those bridges super-early and forcing parties to do the very thing they don’t want them to do.

  74. 74
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: There is most likely both nothing here to hack and what material there might be would be on the highest classified servers. Those are all airgapped from the regular Internet, so no way for them to hack them. They’d need someone on the inside like Snowden to access the information without authorization, exfiltrate the information, and then deliver it to them.

  75. 75
    dr. bloor says:

    @randy_khan: Huh. Mea Culpa. I always assumed EP to be on a par with attorney-client privilege.

  76. 76
    Mandalay says:

    @Baud:

    Where have all the pro-Snowden voices gone?

    Well I’m still here, but I’m none too sure you needed to pluralize there.

  77. 77
    JGabriel says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Atkinson is a career DOJ guy, who the President appointed to this position about six months ago. From what I can tell, he’s about as non-partisan as well.

    So, umm … you agree or disagree that Trump will eventually target Atkinson too? I’m guessing the second sentence is either missing a clause, or that the ‘about as’ accidentally got left in while re-structuring the sentence – but I can’t tell what Atkinson is supposed to be ‘as non-partisan as’.

    Although, given what little I can glean from the reporting so far, it looks like Atkinson is just trying to do his job in as non-partisan a fashion as he can, under the circumstances. If my comment suggested otherwise, then I wrote it wrong. I just meant that Trump will eventually go after Atkinson, because Trump will target anyone who doesn’t sufficiently protect him.

  78. 78
    RAVEN says:

    @Martin: “They are a coequal branch ”

    proof?

  79. 79
    Martin says:

    @MJS: Better hope that never fucking makes it onto the record, because you’ll lose all credibility that you’re just saying that stuff for a lifetime paycheck.

  80. 80
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jinchi:

    You’re saying that you think this person will be murdered by the Trump administration.

    I believe the acceptable term around here is “suicide.”

  81. 81
    Jinchi says:

    @Heywood J.:

    he clearly understands that laws and power don’t mean anything if nobody enforces them, and that the king’s power creates its own kind of inertia underneath his potential opponents.

    This goes straight to the argument people were having yesterday about “Do Something people” and the “Green Latern” theory of politics and I’ll make the point again:

    I don’t think it’s too much to expect that people in a position of power should act while they still have it.

  82. 82
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @waspuppet: I’m relatively sure there was lots of screaming of FUCK! involved.

  83. 83
  84. 84
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mandalay:

    but it’s conceivable that the ship has already sailed, and murdering the whistle blower would achieve little at this stage.

    You seem to think Trump and company take actions that are logical and sane.

  85. 85
    Martin says:

    @RAVEN: McConnell.

    Authority needs to be used to be recognized. Dems seem to struggle with that concept.

  86. 86
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I was saying this for a slightly different reason yesterday, but I suspect that since a lot of IC people are temperamentally conservative and cautious, they’re desperately trying to cover up the rot at the center of our government so people don’t lose trust in their institutions.

    However, as anyone who’s ever had a house with a rotting foundation can tell you, concealing the problem only makes it worse and more likely that you will have a catastrophic collapse under pressure. Eventually, you have to FIX the source of the problem, not just shore shit up and hope that doesn’t catch the rot, too (because it will).

  87. 87
    TenguPhule says:

    @Baud:

    then that person faces the same risk as the average prominent Democrat.

    Intelligence agents with little public fame are a bit more at risk of being in a fatal accident then a Democratic Politician that’s part of the entitled class.

  88. 88
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: No worries. Do I think there is some actual risk of physical harm here? Yes, I do. We’re dealing with people that will drive from Kentucky to DC to liberate sexually abused kids from the basement of a pizzeria, which doesn’t have a basement and which isn’t actually involved with trafficking children for the sex trade.

  89. 89
    oldgold says:

    I think this is the way to go.

    Laurence Tribe
    @tribelaw
    The House Intell Cmtee chaired by @RepAdamSchiff could ask the DC district court to issue a writ of mandamus compelling Acting DNI Maguire to transmit the whistleblower’s urgent report to his Committee forthwith and issue a subpoena to get Maguire & the whistleblower to testify.

  90. 90
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @geg6: There is a lot still left for this individual to lose.

  91. 91
    Jinchi says:

    @Martin:

    Congress is not bound by whatever bullshit the DOJ puts out.

    I agree, but the DOJ are the one’s who would be threatening prosecution. They might ultimately lose the case, but it’s clearly a legitimate threat in the eyes of the whistleblower. They’ve already asked for an indictment against Andrew McCabe and threatened the same against others.

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Martin: Almost a perfect circle.

  93. 93
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MJS: Narrator: Tom Steyer is not and never will be willing to put his money where his mouth is.

  94. 94
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jinchi:

    If they can’t depend on that, then future whistleblowers will simply follow Edward Snowden’s route to transparency.

    Or they’ll do the most logical thing.

    Stay silent and become a good german. Because what’s the point of being good if you’ll only be punished for it?

  95. 95
    Heywood J. says:

    @patrick II: Agree 100%. We are finding out that, as with currency, laws and rules and such only have value insofar as we all agree they have value, and that when there is a disagreement, that it can be resolved and enforced. That is dead, and any attempts at, um, preserving the veneer of professional comity should be laughed out the room immediately. There are now only people who wish to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and people who wish to subvert it.

    I hope the Dem leadership is taking note of the mass climate protests this weekend. They should be sending Reps to various cities, making pointed speeches calling out everyone — corrupt admin, feckless partisans, traitorous behavior in general — so that the gaslighting media have no choice but to cover it. Call Trumpov and Barr straight-up what they are — agents of misfortune, acting against the interests of the US, and flood the Sunday follies shows with a simple, clear message repeating it over and over and over again until the dipshit in the street can sing it back. Hell, just go on Chunk Toad’s show and talk about how weird it is that Bill Barr’s dad hired Jeffrey Epstein, a college dropout, to teach physics and calculus at a prep school where sexual abuse of students was a known problem.

    This whole thing has been like watching someone try to play the piano while wearing oven mitts, the frustrating ineptitude and sheer lack of imagination. There’s a million ways to make a real marketing campaign out of this, to a public that clearly wants to listen, and all we get is this muddled, durrr, maybe we’ll impeach, maybe we’re doing it right now, maybe we’ll hold Lewandowski in contempt for telling us to go fuck ourselves, week after week, month after month.

  96. 96
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @surfk9: Yes, if the call is made within a SCIF. Or if the transcript read is classified. Or both.

  97. 97
    scav says:

    Amidst all the fireworks and bluster, there’s a quiet little terror in this bit: As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference

    I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.

    Nothing really unexpected, so long as one has been paying attention. But still.

  98. 98
    TenguPhule says:

    @oldgold:

    The House Intell Cmtee chaired by @RepAdamSchiff could ask the DC district court to issue a writ of mandamus compelling Acting DNI Maguire to transmit the whistleblower’s urgent report to his Committee forthwith and issue a subpoena to get Maguire & the whistleblower to testify.

    What would you like to wager that Maguire follows Trump’s orders and doesn’t obey the court?

  99. 99
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I wasn’t gonna post this cause it’s off-topic, but we are ill-behaved jackals, so…

    Kenneth P. Vogel @ kenvogel
    OUCH: TomSteyer was NOT well-received at the climate march in DC, where he was booed & met with chants of “stop running for president” & “you represent corporate greed,” when he tried to speak using a bullhorn, according to a source on the scene.

  100. 100
    JGabriel says:

    @MJS:

    I think I’d first place a call to Tom Steyer, to see if he wanted to put his money where his mouth is re: impeachment. “Hey Tom, I’m willing to go on national TV and blow the lid off this, if you’re willing to foot the bill for my legal defense and income needs for the next 20-30 years. I’ll even give you a shout out. What do you say?”

    That would leave the whistleblower open to accusations that he made the charges against Trump because he was paid to.

  101. 101
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Timurid: I would expect so.

  102. 102
    rikyrah says:

    Yet. …nothing from those conservative Republicans who whined in outrage about the Auto Bailout.

    Mike Dorning (@MikeDorning) Tweeted:
    “At $28 billion so far, the farm rescue is more than twice as expensive as the 2009 bailout of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, which cost taxpayers $12 billion.” https://t.co/nTsH1I6et9 via @BW

  103. 103
    cain says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Apparently, according to this article

    Trump officials don’t give a shit about the house because Pelosi has signaled that there won’t be impeachment and so are promptly ignoring the House. I don’t think they can do that given the House’s role. If Trump can ignore it, so can a Democratic President. It’s a horrible precedent. But then again, there are no norms that this administration is willing to break.

  104. 104
    JGabriel says:

    @surfk9:

    The assumption here is that the information was classified. Is an overheard phone conversation necessarily classified?

    It is now. Trump and/or the DNI essentially declared it classified when they refused to provide the complaint to Congress.

  105. 105
    chopper says:

    DO NOT TAKE LEGAL ADVICE IN GENERAL AND LEGAL ADVICE ON NATIONAL SECURITY, CLASSIFICATION, AND/OR CLEARANCE ISSUES FROM RACHEL MADDOW. UNLESS YOU WANT TO GO TO PRISON FOR A VERY, VERY LONG TIME!

    well, duh. don’t take legal advice from anybody who isn’t a practicing lawyer, better yet in the area you’re dealing with.

  106. 106
    Jinchi says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Stay silent and become a good german.

    The “good germans” in the Trump administration leak far more often than the career civil employees ever do.

  107. 107
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JGabriel: I figure he’ll eventually be fired. However, under the law the President has to notify Congress 30 days prior to firing him and provide reasons, in accordance with the statutes establishing the independent inspectors general, as to why he is being terminated.

  108. 108
    TenguPhule says:

    @patrick II:

    Laws are assertions that go through a process that our civilization has agreed to treat as authoritative — nothing more. Not orders from god. When we no longer agree to the authority of the constitutional congress’s lawmaking authority, we are no longer a democracy. It’s only consensus, not divine authority, that holds us together.

    Tradtionally, what follows is that everything falls back to armed force as enforcement. And whoever controls that, controls the society.

  109. 109
    cain says:

    @la caterina:

    The whistleblower will have no trouble raising funds for legal fees and security measures. What would Mango Mussolini do if say, Angela Merkel offers them safe haven in Germany? She seems to have the balls for a move like that.

    I think he’d start a trade war or some other nonsense. Certainly he will find a way to punish the Germans that isn’t a military option. But certainly it would be something that Putin (wormtongue) would take advantage of. We’ll see a greater collaboration with Russia because Western Europe has failed.

  110. 110
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jinchi:

    The “good germans” in the Trump administration leak far more often than the career civil employees ever do.

    Decadent nobles of the court will of course try to sabotage their rivals for the King’s favor.

  111. 111
    Another Scott says:

    @surfk9: Schiff made the point in an interview on ATC on NPR yesterday afternoon that the President is not protected by privilege or anything else (beyond what all the rest of us have) if he’s committing an illegal act. No privilege, etc.

    So there is that.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  112. 112
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: The analytical folks tend to be more liberal. The ops folks tend to be more conservative. But these are broad generalizations. And in many cases it isn’t so much that the ops folks are more conservative politically as they are more hawkish.

  113. 113
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    However, under the law the President has to notify Congress 30 days prior to firing him and provide reasons, in accordance with the statutes establishing the independent inspectors general, as to why he is being terminated.

    Narrator: “Trump would not notify Congress as required by law.”

  114. 114
    Mandalay says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

    Or you go ahead, get the fuck out of the country and make your announcement from Havana, some beach resort in Costa Rica, Angela Merkel’s living room or Macron’s front porch.

    The whistle blower would not be safe in any of those places. Adam can correct me if necessary, but as a practical matter if US Authorities really, really want to get you (dead or alive) then the only (potentially) safe havens are Russia and China.

    China said no to Snowden, so he’ll probably spend the rest of his life in Russia. It’s ironic that Snowden was unable to flee to Bolivia. Had he pulled that off, I’m fairly confident that he would now be behind bars or dead.

  115. 115
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @patrick II:

    “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” — Frank Wilhoit.

  116. 116
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I’m not particularly surprised.

  117. 117
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Heywood J.: A thousand amens to that. I realize marketing is icky, but goddamn it, it works if you do it right.

  118. 118
    Martin says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And in many cases it isn’t so much that the ops folks are more conservative politically as they are more hawkish.

    \
    Which is why they chose to be ops folks.

    See also: why ICE employees seem to be more likely to be horrible people, because ICE’s job gives more opportunities to do horrible things, so horrible people are more likely to want to work there.

  119. 119
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: I don’t think the whistleblower has to worry about being officially sanctioned by the US government. I think it is more likely some MAGAnut would take matters into their own hand if the whistleblower’s identity is revealed.

  120. 120
    JGabriel says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m relatively sure there was lots of screaming of FUCK! involved.

    I’m imagining something along the lines of that scene from The Wire – only much louder and angrier on all sides of the conversation.

  121. 121
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Martin: I’m not so sure about the analysts versus the ops folks. Especially over the past 20 years when a real change was made that built functional multipurpose teams. I’ve only ever, when working at the tactical and operational levels in my niche areas, worked on these fusion teams where I, as the lead, and everyone I’m working with are doing both ops and analysis. I’m about as liberal as they come, but on certain things I’m also quite hawkish, which I try to dial back here so I don’t freak anyone out.

  122. 122
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I don’t think the whistleblower has to worry about being officially sanctioned by the US government.

    Wish I had your confidence in that.

  123. 123
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Huh. Mea Culpa. I always assumed EP to be on a par with attorney-client privilege.

    Yeah, right. As if the president has the same level of authority as lawyers. Jeez!

  124. 124
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @RAVEN: closely related news: I am lake Oconee now and may be at the game tomorrow. If I see a not drunk person there, I’ll know it’s you!

  125. 125
    Heywood J. says:

    @Jinchi:

    I don’t think it’s too much to expect that people in a position of power should act while they still have it.

    Absolutely. One saying I repeat like a mantra, when looking at a seemingly simple situation that is hopelessly muddled, is people don’t change their behavior until they understand that the cost of not changing is greater than the cost of changing. This is true for collective or individual behavior, whether you’re talking climate change or losing weight or voting for Trump.

    In the case of the House Dems, what they keep saying is basically endless variations of trust the process, trust the institutions. But Barr is actively working to undermine those processes and institutions, in real time, while those institutions are attempting to utilize those processes. They persist on building this wonderful sand castle while the tide keeps coming in, steadily, inexorably. Well, the tide will eventually recede. Okay. Good luck with that. In the meantime, though, the processes may be completely gone, the institutions completely gutted and useless, by the time the quiet case gets built. They don’t seem to get that the cost of not changing is greater than the cost of changing.

    On the other hand, you make the case for impeachment now, with ~60% support from the public, you get investigative abilities that supersede the Department of JustUs’s ability to stomp on it. You then get real findings, quickly, and subpoenas that can’t be laughed at. It couldn’t hurt to try. Trying and failing is generally better than not trying and failing.

    But what do I know? I’m just some dipshit blogger in a safe state waiting for the Green Lantern. The House Reps have been doing this for decades. Many, many decades. So many one might start to wonder if they’re more concerned about pissing off Maureen Dowd than their own constituents.

  126. 126
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Atkinson is a career DOJ guy, who Trump appointed to this position about six months ago. From what I can tell, he’s about as non-partisan as well.

    Everyone Trump approves of as an appointed official is garbage. If Atkinson was appointed by Trump, he’s not non-partisan.

    Especially when it comes to the intelligence agencies and armed forces. Haven’t we all learned this already?

  127. 127
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Mandalay:

    If France can protect Polanski, Macron can Sure in shit bend over backwards for a genuine hero like whoever this whistleblower is.

  128. 128
    Emerald says:

    @Betty Cracker: I vote c) they’re Republicans.

  129. 129
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: My understanding is that the President was forced to pick a career DOJ official because the person he tried to appoint, who was highly partisan, got run off as a result of both a lawsuit, filed and won by the current whistleblower’s attorney and the negative press.

  130. 130
    germy says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Satire, thankfully.

  131. 131
    Mandalay says:

    From the NYT 10 minutes ago, Trump declined the opportunity to explicitly deny the Ukraine allegation:

    Mr. Trump derided the complaint as a “ridiculous story” and said his communications with other leaders were “at the highest level always appropriate.” When asked whether he had brought up Mr. Biden during a July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Trump waved away the question but added, “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

  132. 132
    JGabriel says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I figure he’ll eventually be fired. However, under the law the President has to notify Congress 30 days prior to firing him and provide reasons, in accordance with the statutes establishing the independent inspectors general, as to why he is being terminated.

    Interesting. I didn’t know that the IG’s were protected in that manner. Thanks.

  133. 133
    germy says:

    I’m seeing a lot of Good Liberals jumping to conclusions about this Deep State “whistleblower” before we even know if it’s one of the ones who will get me a Pulitzer Prize or one of the ones I have to send to prison.

    — Glem (I Do *NOT* Support Trump) (@GlemGreenwald) September 19, 2019

    (greenwald parody account)

  134. 134
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @germy: doesn’t that sort of satire require some kind of unbelievable exaggeration that makes you think, after only a moment, “Oh, I get it”

    (For Dan Lyon, not you. I would not be a bit surprised if a quote very like that comes from Lindsey’s own blue check mark before close of business today)

    @germy: that one, too, I found credible for a minute

  135. 135
    Betty Cracker says:

    @germy: LOL! I totally believed it!

    ETA: original comment deleted — here’s a link to the satire I fell for…

  136. 136
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: How can you really tell with GG?

  137. 137
    germy says:

    @scav:

    For a brief moment I thought “Otay Mesa” was another trump nickname.

  138. 138
    MJS says:

    @JGabriel: Well, of course there is the timeline of events to argue against that claim, i.e., the whistleblower has already blown the whistle well in advance of any contact with Steyer. And one would expect that there is some documentary evidence that supports the whistleblower’s claim, regardless of allegations about his motivation. But it’s a fool’s errand to try to predict and prepare for the accusations that will be levied against those telling the truth. See Mueller, Robert.

  139. 139
    Gin & Tonic says:

    The one bright spot in this is that according to everything I’ve seen in the last couple of days, the headline writers, at least, have finally stopped using the definite article when referring to Ukraine.

  140. 140
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Snitching on the boss when he’s done something wrong is right and necessary, or has that point escaped military lawyer Lindsay Graham?

  141. 141
    Heywood J. says:

    @Betty Cracker: Yeah. I mean, people keep talking in terms of legal procedure or armed insurrection. But this is all just a marketing problem. Trump’s success is entirely due to him knowing his audience and giving them what they want — clear, simple, repetitive. It’s a repulsive message, but it’s hammered in so effectively even his most bitter detractors know it by heart. He is more effective at getting his message out than they are, and he always has been, long before he got into politics, back when he preferred to rent Democratic politicians.

    I’ve been watching this jabbering asshole fail his way through life since the 1980s, and one thing that never changed is he was always able to get the media morons to cover his failures. Like Jimmy Breslin said, Trump figured out early on that all you have to do to get the media on your side is return their phone calls.

    And all you hear from Democrats about their ineffectiveness in that arena is, “well, the media suck and the Republicons lie.” Well, the media are for rent, so rent them already. As for lying, lie if you have to, but with those traitorous losers, you really just have to tell the truth. I’m just amazed that they run a billion-dollar organization, and they all just seem to think that they should win because their ideas are better or some nonsense like that, Like they memorized every episode of The West Wing and forgot what country they’re really in. Less Sorkin, more Carlin.

  142. 142
    lurker dean says:

    @Mnemosyne: yeah, i fell for that IC leak trick with kavanaugh. meanwhile the FBI was actively ignoring solid leads. other than this whistleblower they’ve shown me no indication they give a shit. kind of reminds me of the guy who fairly recently resigned from the state department, who said if we think they’re holding the line, we’re nuts.

  143. 143
    Jinchi says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    you can’t snitch on the president of the United States

    Do they realize that they all talk like mob gangsters from a 1930’s film?

  144. 144
    Heywood J. says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I hope Tom Steyer gets eaten by a starving polar bear. Fuck that guy right in the neck.

  145. 145
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    My understanding is that the President was forced to pick a career DOJ official because the person he tried to appoint, who was highly partisan, got run off as a result of both a lawsuit, filed and won by the current whistleblower’s attorney and the negative press.

    As I recall Trump was also legally required to pick a professional for FEMA. He did and that guy STILL managed to turn out to be a corrupt as fuck piece of shit who started abusing benefits and perks the moment he was appointed. And did a truly shit job running the agency.

    So far, Trump is batting 1.000 when it comes to appointing corrupt fucks.

  146. 146
    germy says:

    Remember when Obama traded geopolitical favors in order to harm his election opponents? Me neither.

    — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) September 20, 2019

  147. 147
    TenguPhule says:

    @Heywood J.:

    I hope Tom Steyer gets eaten by a starving polar bear.

    Why would you want to hurt a polar bear like that?

  148. 148
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: Right now Atkinson is doing the right thing at much potential professional cost to himself. I think that should be the measure of his professionalism right now. The easiest thing for him to have done, and the one that would have had the least professional cost, was simply to say “the DOJ and Acting DNI have made their decision, I will abide by it”. He did not do that and is not doing that.

  149. 149
  150. 150
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I guess we’ll see then.

  151. 151
    germy says:

    Bannon knows about non-linear warfare, which plays out on a battleground where you never really know what your enemies are doing or even who they are. Karl Rove knows about it, too, but the master is Putin adviser Vladislav Surkov — “the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” pic.twitter.com/m05gef5IfC
    — Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) September 19, 2019

  152. 152
    germy says:

    She warned us the first time:

    The president asked a foreign power to help him win an election. Again.https://t.co/EjkE84oCCF
    — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 20, 2019

  153. 153
    TenguPhule says:

    Trump says he doesn’t need a U.S.-China trade deal before 2020 election

    Called it.

    Wall Street you stupid fucks, you actually trusted Trump to not fuck you over.

  154. 154
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: I like Caroline and we’ve occasionally corresponded, but she’s wrong here. Bannon, because he’s read a bunch of books, thinks he knows non-linear warfare. Rove couldn’t define it, he’s just a dirty tricks guy who was able to get it to scale for a time. Until he was no longer able to do so. Surkov, does know this stuff.

  155. 155
    germy says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Interesting point.

  156. 156
    TenguPhule says:

    Nancy Pelosi called on the director of national intelligence to “uphold the law”, during an interview with CNN.

    “Well, the law says that the DNI should send the information, shall, not should, shall send that information to Congress,” Pelosi said. “So the law is the law. So, we just have to uphold the law.”

    Delegate your speeches to someone else, Madam Speaker. Please.

  157. 157
    TenguPhule says:

    Trump says he has shown restraint over Iran. He says “the easiest thing to do” would be to order a military strike on the country, but warns he could “do it right here in front of [the assembled media]”.

    “[I could] knock out 15 different major things in Iran,” Trump says.

    “I could do that and […] it’s all set to go.”

    Trump adds: “It would take place in one minute. I could do it right here in front of you. […] I think it shows much more strength to do it the way we’re doing it.”

    Sleep tight, kiddies!

  158. 158
    Heywood J. says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Bannon reminds me of a severely alcoholic version of Otto from A Fish Called Wanda, the “Apes don’t read philosophy” part in particular.

  159. 159
    TenguPhule says:

    Trump is asked if he has read the whistleblower’s complaint.

    “No,” Trump says.

    Despite not having read it, Trump says of the complaint: “It’s another media disaster.”

    “You have been wrong on so many things,” he tells the assembled journalists.

    truly there is no god.

  160. 160
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Heywood J.: It is a possible explanation.

  161. 161
    Gravenstone says:

    @TenguPhule: I invite you to go to your nearest beach, and pound the entirety of that sand up your ass.

  162. 162
    germy says:

    I decided to check the expert’s blog:

    What I dislike in the reporting on the whole whistleblower story is not even that it’s sensationalized and belated, presenting as fresh news something that was widely known months ago. What I hate is the smug and very American conviction that Americans are in control of the world and everybody else is a powerless, dumb pawn.

    In the Trump / Zelensky story what happened is that at the beginning of Zelensky’s presidency, Ukrainians tried to keep hold on Trump’s waning interest in Ukraine by offering Trump dirt on Joe Biden. Trump considered it for a while but, as of now, at least, hasn’t agreed. I obviously don’t know why but if I had to guess, it’s probably because he’s too vain to admit he needs help to wipe out anybody as unappealing to voters as Biden.

    The problem here is not that a weak, poor country tries to manipulate a large, strong country into liking it. The real problem is that Ukrainians do have dirt on Biden. There’s some really corrupt stuff that went on. And that was long before Trump got elected.

    https://clarissasblog.com/2019/09/20/trump-and-ukraine/

    (She’s become a fan of Tucker Carlson, or “Tucker” as she calls him)

  163. 163
    Chyron HR says:

    @Heywood J.:

    “JUST PAY THE REPUBLICAN PROPAGANDA OUTLETS TO PROMOTE DEMOCRATS INSTEAD”

    Wow, gosh, it’s so obvious now, I don’t know why nobody thought of that before.

  164. 164
    Heywood J. says:

    @TenguPhule: That’s the key right there. People keep asking what will it take to get Republicans to turn on Trump — it’s not love of country or even love of party. It’s not to protect the Constitution or to stop him from subverting foreign policy or renting US troops to his Saudi owners as mercenaries.

    It’s when he starts costing money to the psychotic billionaires who really own this country and its media and political systems. You wait till those Christmas tariffs kick in and Best Buy takes a hit, lays off five or ten thousand, along with a bunch of other retail outlets. Internal polling goes in the dumper. Betcha ol’ Ben Sasse and the rest of them start getting phone calls, and suddenly finding those principles they thought they had flushed down the Senate toilets.

  165. 165
    geg6 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Like what, exactly? His/her career is over. He/she may very well be prosecuted by Barr and end up in federal prison, perhaps on trumped up espionage charges. Where I wouldn’t bet a nickel for his/her life, at that point. Just blow the top off it all. I don’t see the consequences being any different either way. And at least, his/her memory will be honored by millions if this can take down that orange mother fucker.

  166. 166
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: Who is this idiot and does her village know she’s missing?

  167. 167
    germy says:

    @Adam L Silverman: She’s a professor! She’s confident always in her certainty about world affairs.

  168. 168
    geg6 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    However, under the law the President has to notify Congress 30 days prior to firing him and provide reasons, in accordance with the statutes establishing the independent inspectors general, as to why he is being terminated.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You seriously expect that to happen? Why would you? The laws mean nothing any more. Or he’ll just scribble “MAGA!” with a Sharpie and that will be that.

  169. 169
    trollhattan says:

    @germy:
    Is Otay Mesa where they filmed the “Our Gang” location shots?

  170. 170
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @geg6: I didn’t say I expected it to happen. All I was doing was delineating what the requirements were for firing an IG. That’s it.

  171. 171
    scav says:

    @germy: If only it was a codename for a nice secure padded cell. With rebars! for added invincibility.

  172. 172
  173. 173
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @germy: That’s a pretty novel use of the word “expert.”

  174. 174
    JPL says:

    Trump was right when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Ave and get away with it.

  175. 175
    cain says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    @geg6: I didn’t say I expected it to happen. All I was doing was delineating what the requirements were for firing an IG. That’s it.

    I think there is this growing apprehension that rules don’t matter anymore. That we are at the end game where things are breaking down. If you can imagine that a severe national security issue that has allegedly happened is not corrected but instead only continues to become more corrupt, you start to wonder what happens at the end?

    This is why even though people asked me to take a walk, I wonder – is there a bottom? At least he still obeys the court. But if he doesn’t, what’s to stop him with his people in charge of the senate, and his own administration whose loyalty is only to him and no one else?
    Dunno. Troubling times.

  176. 176
  177. 177
    Baud says:

    @JPL:

    Thankfully, NYC doesn’t allow golf carts on Fifth Avenue.

  178. 178
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Chyron HR: TaWOOF! And another straw man meets his fiery end…

  179. 179
    Millard Filmore says:

    There is an interesting post here:
    https://www.democraticunderground.com/100212479897
    (the post screw up the link to CNN’s story)

    “I am going to say something now that I hope everyone understands the gravitas of. *After* Adam Schiff sent his letter to the DNI to release the Whistleblower complaint, Trump released the $250 million to the Ukraine the next day.

    The. Next. Day.”

    This calms me a bit, as it is not an active national security trashing operation between Trump and Putin (or MBS, or some others). It is only simple idiocy on Trump’s part, and conspiracy to obstruct justice by his crew.

  180. 180
    TenguPhule says:

    @Gravenstone: For all her political talents, she’s not a good public speaker. And trying to drum up urgency that “very bad things are happening!!!” while at the same time insisting that “we’re not ready yet to be able to do anything about this” is unhelpful. She needs a public attack dog.

  181. 181
    TenguPhule says:

    @cain:

    That we are at the end game where things are breaking down.

    Third quarter, down 42 points. Referees are crooked as fuck.

  182. 182
    Crœsos says:

    @chopper:

    More specifically, if you’re professionally entrusted with keeping secrets, don’t take legal advice from anyone whose profession involves revealing secrets (e.g. any journalist worthy of the name).

  183. 183
    Heywood J. says:

    I’ve talked a lllooooot of trash on Democratic politicians in general and Pelosi in particular, here and elsewhere, certainly at my own shop. For the sake of balance, let me just say this: I absolutely hope that folks like Uncle Blazer are right (he has a lot of good threads like that one), and I just don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. I would much rather be wrong than right on this subject. It’s not at all about “being right” or scoring points. I couldn’t care less. I care about the kind of country and world my 18-year-old daughter is about to head into.

    And frankly, it’s not even the Democrats or impeachment I’m most worried about. Here’s a non-scandal example: catching a clip this morning of Trump greeting the Aussie PM, and listening to a couple minutes of utterly meaningless jabber from his puckered cakehole, it’s alarming to think that a significant plurality of our fella ‘murkins are good with this. The guy is demonstrably stupid, like inbred goat-fucker stupid, and they like that about him. They love the pointless jabber, the more inane and stupid the better. They would gladly pack a high-school gymnasium in East Overshoe, Alabama, to listen to this moron rant about cancer-causing windmills and saying “Space Force” over and over again for hours on end, while the water rises past their necks.

    That’s the really scary part, that even if the Democrats’ biggest dream comes true — Trump out, #MoscowMitch and #Huckleberry out, Senate reclaimed, House lead strengthened, President Warren announces a student-loan debt jubilee and comprehensive climate change legislation an hour after her inauguration — there’s more than enough hateful dipshits to derail it all, for no better damned reason than that they know it will piss us off. And that’s really all they have left now, win or lose.

  184. 184
    PJ says:

    @Chyron HR: @Betty Cracker: Great idea, I’ll get Tom Steyer on the line in a minute to see about buying out Fox . . .

  185. 185
    Heywood J. says:

    @PJ: That or he could throw some couch-cushion change at a PI to find some photos of Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson in compromising positions with terrified farm animals. Because such photos almost certainly exist.

  186. 186
    terraformer says:

    @Heywood J.:

    Yup, that and the whole universe of “norms” that this President* has gleefully violated – but which we now know are actually pretty fucking vital to the whole enterprise of democracy. A whole lot of shit needs to be codified into law so that the next would-be autocrat, particularly one who is actually intelligent and who surrounds him/herself with capable accomplices, does not take all of it to the next level of full-blown autocracy.

  187. 187
    PJ says:

    @Heywood J.: These people have always been here – I bet you, like me, have gone to school and worked with some of them. It’s not just that Trump is “owning the libs”, he’s reassuring them that being a corrupt, complacent buffoon is ok, that they are ok, and that they don’t need to change anything about themselves or the way they live, even as they sink underwater metaphorically, and, eventually, literally. This lazy-thinking, nativist, no-nothing intransigency is a well-known characteristic of the US.

    I don’t think they are the majority – at least, judging by the last election, not a voting majority. But we have had 40 years of idiotic, selfish, small-minded, corrosive Republican rhetoric drilled into Americans in schools, churches, and the media, and it will take a long time to reverse that. It will take strong, smart leadership from politicians and, really, everyone – journalists, teachers, preachers, parents, etc. We aren’t ready. We’re never ready. But the naive liberal in me believes that if you appeal to the better angels of people’s natures, many will respond.

  188. 188
    Jeffro says:

    @Millard Filmore: It’s a very good post. And I can see that end scenario being a possibility, too…although I think it’s more likely that he will stay here and try to rally the GOP behind him. Every crime we charge him with is “politically motivated”, after all. No need to pack a bag for Russia…yet…;)

  189. 189
    Heywood J. says:

    @terraformer: Yeah, it seems weird to think about the fact that those things weren’t written in explicitly because (reasonably) no one thought they needed to be written in. Do we really need to say that the chief executive shouldn’t be allowed to monetize the office? Turns out you really do need to say that.

    As long as Trump and his associates are prosecuted fully and punished appropriately, and his assets are seized and scattered to the four winds, that sounds good. First Democrat who talks about “reconciling” or “returning to normal” loses my vote forever.

  190. 190
    geg6 says:

    I admit it, I’ve lost any hope at this point. We are a failed nation and we have to figure out how we’re going to live with that. Myself, I’m getting old. I won’t live long enough to see this country pick itself back up, if that is even possible. I just want to find a way to forget about all of this and live the rest of my life as peacefully as possible. I want my John and my dogs and cat to get through this with as few injuries as possible. But this is no longer the United States of America and we have to figure what and who we will be in the immediate future. I’m starting to have a lot of sympathy for those who are calling for splitting the country up into two or more entities. Because I know that, going forward, I want nothing, absolutely nothing, to do in any way with Republicans, the Trumps and Trumpers or anyone connected to them in any way. My hostility is starting to affect me at work and it’s a good thing I’m close to retirement because there are days when I could get fired if I lost my ever-shredding discretion. I just look at our staff assistant some days and spend too much time thinking about how hard and how many times I want to punch her in the face. This is not good for me. At all.

  191. 191
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    they’re more focused on protecting their own asses and assets than safeguarding the country.

    Not sure that’s completely true. It’s sort of a quagmire, the security business. You have to be pretty damn quiet about what you are doing to have it work, you have to stay in your lane all the time or it’s easy to encroach on someone/some thing else in the business, and there is an over ridding need to protect too much rather than too little.
    It’s a self feeding quagmire of secrecy and it only works when the people for whom the secrecy folks work actually aren’t fucking idiots. And as we’ve seen everyone in this maladministration is bugfuck nutty ignorant. Most of them have no, as in fucking zero training or idea about what they are supposed to be doing and none of them trust the professionals who do the grunt work on a day to day basis to be on their side because their side is definitely not on the side of the country as a whole. From the bottom to the bottom, none of them are worth spit.

  192. 192
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @germy: Why the fuck do you keep linking to this dipshit?

  193. 193
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Heywood J.:

    significant plurality of our fella ‘murkins are good with this.

    Of all the things I hate about Trump, and Lord knows there are many, is the fact that he held up a mirror to America and demonstrated to everyone that it is as stupid and venal as he is.

  194. 194
    Heywood J. says:

    @PJ: Oh yeah, close friends and relatives, coworkers, etc. People I actually like as people, aside from politics. It sucks. A lot of it boils down to a surface engagement of politics to begin with, and then that engagement consists of media that portray Democrats and liberals as weak, gutless, elitist. Some of it is just you think you’re better than me? thinking, as if a trust-fund douchebag like Donald Trump would cross the street to piss on them if they were on fire.

    I have a little bit of that naive liberal remaining, very little. I think it pays off to be idealistic about individuals, but cynical about groups. I don’t think “they” are the majority either, but there are enough of them to do significant damage, obviously, and they are no longer even pretending to play by the rules, which gives them outsized leverage. So we need politicians who don’t take a spork to a gunfight, and we as citizens need to vote every day with our wallets, as much as possible.

  195. 195
    Heywood J. says:

    @Gin & Tonic: That’s it in a nutshell. I always felt like Walt Kelly and George Carlin were optimists.

  196. 196
    JPL says:

    @geg6: You’re not the eeyore, I’m the eeyore.

  197. 197
    rikyrah says:

    Joe is playing the hand he was dealt.

    ……………………………….

    This is his best card. His rivals are just giving it to him, and he may win the nomination this way.

    Obama has a 90% fav rating among Dems. He’s like Reagan in the 90’s with Republicans. But while they embraced their beloved former POTUS Dems are idiotically shitting on theirs.
    https://twitter.com/Row_Boat_Cop/status/1174851057572286465?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

    — CloudFactory (@Row_Boat_Cop) September 20, 2019

  198. 198
    dww44 says:

    @Betty Cracker: apologies for posting before reading the entire thread, but Adam said either last night or the night before, that Sue Gordon was not the whistleblower. My question,which may have already been answered in this thread or else where is “Why did the Acting DNI consult with the Justice Dept and/or the White House. before sending the complaint on to Congress, as apparently he’s legally required to do? Something is truly fishy about all of this.

  199. 199
    Jeffro says:

    @terraformer: And those laws need some automatic triggers to them, too.

    Everything into a blind trust – a TRUE blind trust – by the time you take the Oath of Office or you have at that moment resigned and the VP is sworn in.

    10 years of tax returns attached to your application to run for office, by that deadline, or you will not be on the ballot.

    No family or extended family as paid advisers or with security clearances, period. Request DENIED.

  200. 200
    jonas says:

    @Heywood J.:

    there’s more than enough hateful dipshits to derail it all, for no better damned reason than that they know it will piss us off. And that’s really all they have left now, win or lose.

    Yup. “Yah know what will really show those libs? Destroying the country! Har!”

  201. 201
    Miss Bianca says:

    @rikyrah: Uh…who exactly among the Dem candidates is shitting on PBO?

  202. 202
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dww44: That’s my best assessment. I just don’t think it would make sense for her to be the whistleblower based on the description given in the reporting.

  203. 203
    dww44 says:

    @Gravenstone: Nancy is truly not very good with speechifying. Smart pol and all that, but clear, crisp, public speaking is not one of her strong points. I may not speak for a majority of Democrats, but I’m really tired of this sort of rejoinder to the Trump Administration. She needs to ACTUALLY do something effective for a change. If she can’t, then she should spare us the frustration of listening to any more of this verbal tsk-tsking.

  204. 204
    Immanentize says:

    @Gin & Tonic: True, but Giuliani persists and insists on “THE!”

  205. 205
    Rob says:

    Somewhat off-topic, but somewhat on, a friend brought this to my attention this afternoon:

    For non IC government workers, “the Merit Systems Protection Board, which is supposed to provide protection to all of the other feds is not functioning. Per Wikipedia:

    The board has gone without a quorum for the entire Trump administration, with the last member to retire at the end of February 2019.[3][4]”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Merit_Systems_Protection_Board

    Sheesh.

  206. 206
    Immanentize says:

    @JPL:

    You’re not the eeyore, I’m the eeyore.

    That just makes me sad….

  207. 207
    Heywood J. says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sorry if you said it earlier and I missed it, but do you have a specific name in mind as the whistleblower, or rather a more general idea of where they might reside in the food chain?

  208. 208
    Immanentize says:

    On a good news point — The climate strike action here in Boston was impressive. There were LOTS of folks at the Statehouse. Signs, speeches, and yes, there were drum circles.

  209. 209
    germy says:

    @Immanentize: I saw a photo of a lady holding a tiny sign. The sign said “Use Less Paper”

  210. 210
    Kay says:

    Well, the whistleblower already gave us a lot of information we wouldn’t have had in terms of the 2020 election.

    We know they’re asking another country for help, we know the country, and we know which D candidate they’re planning on targeting. That’s a lot. It’s a lot more than we had in 2016. So, good job whistleblower. Whatever comes next would have been covered as “huge Joe Biden scandal!” without this person. I mean, it still may be but at least the origins of the thing are out ahead of time, instead of October 2020.

  211. 211
    Brachiator says:

    Wow. 200 comments. Chiming in from California and this is the first time I have been able to check posts.

    Great background on what is happening. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Trump is trying hard to find and discredit the whistleblower.

    BTW, I have a cousin who was a whistle blower in a municipal financial scandal. It was not easy. The city department executives fired him and tried to blame him for improprieties in an effort to misdirect authorities. Wrong move. He was blameless and had a fairly well documented trail of what actually went down. But even though the people involved ultimately all were convicted and got serious jail time, it was tough for my cousin. The top executive involved tried to use his past reputation as a respected pillar of the community as part of his defense. He wasn’t a criminal, don’t you know, just a good man who succumbed to a moment of weakness.

  212. 212
    Gin & Tonic says:

    WSJ is now reporting that Trump pressed Zelenskyy at least *eight times* during that July call, to investigate Hunter Biden.

    Thing is, Ukrainian authorities had already looked at Burisma and Biden and found nothing.

  213. 213
    Ruckus says:

    @Heywood J.:

    The guy is demonstrably stupid, like inbred goat-fucker stupid, and they like that about him.

    They see him as one of them.
    Not one of those high and mighty educated twits always telling them to grow up, buy a Prius rather than a pickemuptruck, get a real job that takes even a modicum of intelligence, and drink beer that doesn’t look like piss, and along comes this guy who lies about everything, like how much money he has, how many women, how big his….., and they see themselves in him. trump is a bullshitter’s bullshitter. He’s racist as can be, he never apologizes, he isn’t well spoken, he can’t read, he’s a bully and he got himself elected president. He’s a white boy’s white boy. He’s not just one of them, he’s their leader.

  214. 214
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yep, here’s the relevant tweet:

    I don’t have a WSJ subscription, so I can’t read the article. The subhead claims Trump didn’t mention foreign aid during the call, so I guess that’s going to be their defense? Trumpsters raised the “So what?” trial balloon immediately, so I guess they’re going with that.

  215. 215
    TenguPhule says:

    @Baud:

    NYC doesn’t allow golf carts on Fifth Avenue.

    Yet.

  216. 216
    TenguPhule says:

    For Saudi Arabia, an oil field attack was a disaster. For Russia, it’s an opportunity to sell weapons.

    hate this timeline so much.

  217. 217
    randy_khan says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    LOL. Not this President.

    The privilege actually belongs to the client, not the lawyer, so here the President is in the client’s position. And, while lawyers can be disbarred for violating privilege, they can’t be sent to jail for it.

  218. 218
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Betty Cracker: It’s gangster shit. “Nice restaurant you’ve got here.”

  219. 219
    Mai naem mobile says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Canada either has the highest or the second highest number of Ukrainians outside Ukraine. Not a bad idea if he wants to curry favor with Ukrainian Canadians.

  220. 220
    Kay says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    But it only would have worked if US media had gone along with it. Which they probably would have, and which will be much more difficult to do now. Team Trump really thought it would work or the President of the United States wouldn’t have led the tactic and now that it’s revealed it probably won’t work as a US political scandal.
    For Trump whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter at all. He needs it to be a “controversy” that doesn’t have his fingerprints all over it, and this one (now) does. They’ll still try it! The President and his team are still pushing it today, but it had to look like it didn’t come from them. That part is blown. Maybe that’s all the whistleblower can achieve- reveal the tactic. That’s not nothing.

  221. 221
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    But his Ukrainians!

  222. 222
    Kathleen says:

    @Baud: They’re breathlessly pimping his new book.

  223. 223
    Heywood J. says:

    @Ruckus: Yep, just like with Dubya and Reagan, though Trump makes those two look like Einstein and Hawking. I never understood the “just like me” logic of supporting candidates (especially when they’re nothing like you in the first place). I want someone smarter than me, who knows how things work and has the drive to see through to their policy goals, and can still explain themselves in plain English. But yeah, there’s also a lot of flat-out piss and spite baked into their logic as well.

    You could probably solve a lot of problems by sticking a giant drum of Drano in the parking lot of the next rally, with a huge sign on it saying “Nancy Pelosi says you’re too much of a PUSSY to drink this!”

  224. 224
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m sure you don’t look at Trump Worshipers art work, but I sometimes read Trump Twitter and I laugh out loud at how the illustrators and painters among them change his face. They take his big, puffy, jowly face with his horrible puss of a mouth and make it all craggy and angular and Lincolnesque. It looks nothing like him.

    It’s sad they can’t accept him as he is. Insulting, really.

  225. 225

    If they die in a suspicious way, the world will know who they were and that the reports are valid. Trump might be willing to order an assassination, but I suspect the sharper sorts around him know better. I hope the whistleblower’s lawyer knows what they are doing.

  226. 226
    randy_khan says:

    @Heywood J.:

    I have been saying for a long time that Republicans will be with Trump until it’s better to be against him, and if Watergate and GWB are any indication, they’ll switch too late to do themselves any good.

  227. 227
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    The NYTimes already did it! They literally adopted Guiliani’s theory and “reported” it. Enter- whistleblower. Whew. That was close!

    Every fucking day for 16 months they woulda been on about Biden/Ukraine. This time we got the info in a timely manner. Not from them, of course, but I’ll take it where I can get it :)

  228. 228
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay: There’s one pro-Trump cartoonist whose “work” I often see on Twitter, and the only recognizable feature he gives cartoon-Trump is the awful hair. He HAS to include the ridiculous comb-over because otherwise, people would be thinking, gosh, who IS this brawny fellow with the six-pack abs chasing Killery and Leakin’ Jim Comey with Thor’s hammer?

    Sometimes I wonder if that cartoonist really believes that crap or just does it for the money. Doesn’t matter. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”

  229. 229
    catclub says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    The subhead claims Trump didn’t mention foreign aid during the call,

    what if the Ukrainian asked about it, and Trump answered by asking about dirt on Biden?
    That technically is Trump not mentioning foreign aid.
    and I am not even a lawyer. or PR expert

  230. 230
    Karen says:

    I am unutterably depressed by this and every other thing that Trump gets away with. Pelosi treats this like a political game and does nothing but wring her hands and whine that the polling shows [something] so she can’t do anything. Nothing will happen. Trump will go on with his corruption just like always, lie about everything, have his minions destroy what is left of our democracy, then when (or IF) he leaves we’ll be a third-rate banana republic. Thanks a lot, Nancy. What good was the Blue Wave?

  231. 231
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    A cartoonist I could forgive. It’s the painters that get me. A single tear rolls down his face as he gazes at a disabled veteran…WTF? NOTHING like him. They all saw the obscene photo where he and Melania are grinning stiffly while holding that poor baby like a sack of groceries. Nothing ever crosses their faces.

  232. 232
    Heywood J. says:

    @Kay: I’ve seen some of that stuff. It’s hilarious. It looks like the kind of stuff North Koreans have been forced at the point of a bayonet to crank out for decades.

    Jon McNaughton is the best of them, really. I mean, his stuff is straight-up homoerotic. I bet the “pieces” he doesn’t post are….well, revealing.

  233. 233
    Heywood J. says:

    Folks, I have a small favor to ask, and forgive me if I’ve asked before, but I ain’t too proud to bleg. I have a couple of short slightly fictionalized pieces I wrote last summer (2018), around the Singapore Summit, that I could really use some critical feedback on.

    This one is raunchier, hopefully more humorous (caution — many naughty words):
    Just Us League

    This one is more serious, hopefully more realistic in its scope:
    Rising Son

    Please leave any comments (good or bad) in the comments sections of the stories, so that I catch them. Thanks in advance!

    Yours In Christ,
    Heywood J.

  234. 234
    cain says:

    @Kay:
    No doubt. I feel though that the entire Republican apparatus is laughing at all of us through these things. We have replaced conservatives with “own the libs” party.

  235. 235
    misterpuff says:

    @Mandalay: I’m worried they will be Gitmo’d or renditioned.

  236. 236
    The Moar You Know says:

    Jon McNaughton is the best of them, really.

    @Heywood J.: I agree. Love his work. He provides a perhaps too-revealing look inside the Trump worshiper’s mind.

  237. 237
    Brachiator says:

    @Ruckus:

    He’s racist as can be, he never apologizes, he isn’t well spoken, he can’t read, he’s a bully and he got himself elected president. He’s a white boy’s white boy. He’s not just one of them, he’s their leader.

    Yep. That’s pretty much it.

  238. 238
    Ruckus says:

    @Heywood J.:
    A 55 gallon drum of draino?
    You must like the sound of the last words of the overly brave moron.
    “Hold My Beer and Watch This!”

  239. 239
    debbie says:

    Were there actually “Obama holdovers”?

  240. 240
    debbie says:

    “I think ‘extraordinary’ is an accurate term to use,” spoken by Ramesh Pomeru this afternoon in a discussion of Trump and the whistleblower. I just about drove off the road.

  241. 241
    joel hanes says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Rove couldn’t define it, he’s just a dirty tricks guy who was able to get it to scale for a time

    It was enough to steal the 2000 election, make Ohio 2004 look like a Bush win, and put Don Siegelman in jail for years.

    Counterfactuals are impossible to prove, but imagine the world if Gore had taken office in 2001.
    Qute possibly no 9/11 (“hair on fire”)

    In the end, Rove may have been more consequential than McConnell, or Cheney.

  242. 242
    joel hanes says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Ukrainian authorities had already looked at Burisma and Biden and found nothing.

    Trump would not regard that as an obstacle. He assumes that everyone is as faithless as himself, and that if he just pressed Ukraine hard enough, they would come up with something by fabricating it, which would be just fine with Trump.

    And with other Republicans. Benghazi. Fast and Furious. Butter emails. And Rove put Don Siegelman in prison for *year* for things that over one hundred current and former state Attorneys General went on record to say were not prosecutable offenses.

  243. 243
    NotoriousJRT says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I’d be willing to kick $$ into a Go Fund Me campaign if this person had real goods on offer. I bet I’m not alone. I can’t help with time in the slammer but I would help soften the landing of a wrecked career. The question is: how bad is the subject of the complaint? It’s the whole “go for the king” question. I think it must be quite something for a person to take this kind of risk, but I already to think Trump is a lawless, power-mad usurper…

  244. 244
    Jinchi says:

    I have to say I’m baffled by Joe Biden’s “No Comment” policy on this issue.

    What he should say is: “Donald Trump has gone from collusion and obstruction with Russia to extortion against Ukraine, all in an effort to subvert our democracy. He’s a traitor to our country and he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail.”

  245. 245
    Jinchi says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Ukrainian authorities had already looked at Burisma and Biden and found nothing.

    Right. And Trump was on the phone telling them “Find Something” or I’ll give Putin the all clear to roll tanks into Kiev.

  246. 246
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Jinchi:

    Sam Vinograd @ sam_vinograd
    JoeBiden statement – read every word: “If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country. This behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines
    our national security for political purposes. It means that he used the power and resources of the United States to pressure a sovereign nation—a partner that is still under direct assault from Russia—
    pushing Ukraine to subvert the rule of law in the express hope of extracting a political favor.

    “Such clear-cut corruption damages and diminishes our institutions of government by making them tools of a personal political vendetta. At minimumDonald Trump should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves, and direct the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to stop stonewalling and release the whistleblower notification to the Congress.”

    Warren has also made a statement, and Harris

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    thalarctosMaritimus says:

    @Baud:

    Mais où sont les Snowdens d’antan!

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    burnspbesq says:

    The whistle-blower had better make sure he doesn’t have a broken tail-light or any other pretext for a traffic stop, cuz it will surely go sideways, and he will end up face down in Rock Creek Park.

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    hotshoe says:

    I just finished reading John le Carré’s novel A Delicate Truth

    Spoiler:
    the noble would-be whistleblower is warned off by Foreign Office higher-ups who inform him that he will be (secretly) tried, and in their proceedings there will be a presumption that the whistleblower is himself a criminal if not an outright traitor.
    The official position is the there is never any protection for a whistleblower.

    Sounds all too familiar now.

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    Jinchi says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Much better. Good for Joe.

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    Feathers says:

    Y’all are complaining about Tom Steyer. Here in Boston, I keep seeing Tom Steyer for President on my TV. Is it only me or is the horror everywhere?

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    CaseyL says:

    I just sent a Sternly Worded emall to Speaker Pelosi. I said, bring Articles of Impeachment RIGHT NOW. I said, if they fail, then we will know the country is lost and there’s nothing left to fight for.

    (Because, you know, it is quite possible there aren’t sufficient votes for impeachment. And, that being the case, we really are done.)

    I am so disgusted with the Democratic leadership now, and so despairing of the country, I don’t know what to do anymore.

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @CaseyL:

    (Because, you know, it is quite possible there aren’t sufficient votes for impeachment.

    There almost certainly are not

    I am so disgusted with the Democratic leadership now

    Me, I’m disgusted with the Republican leadership, and their backbenchers. Also with the passive and complacent American people.

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    CaseyL says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    There almost certainly are not

    If we can’t get a majority of Democrats to support impeachment -even now!- then what’s the use? What’s the use of anything?

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @CaseyL: I believe we already have a majority, but we can only lose, if my math is right which is always a tricky proposition, 18 votes for the actual impeachment vote to be a failure. That’s why Nadler, Schiff and Pelosi, the Democratic leadership you despise, are trying to build the public record, in the hopes of persuading more voters, and thus more of their colleagues.

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    J R in WV says:

    @debbie:

    Were there actually “Obama holdovers”?

    That would be every civil servant ever hired before January 20, 2017.

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    CaseyL says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Except that they are not doing that. The people they call before the committees are refusing to cooperate, making a mockery of the hearings, and getting away with it. The subpoenas are being ignored, and all the committees say is they will “consider” a contempt hearing. People are claiming executive privilege who have no right to it, and the Dems aren’t fighting back.

    I am a partisan Democrat, and even I say it makes us look weak, feckless, and without any self-respect.

    The public isn’t going to support impeachment by a Party that lets itself get walked all over. That’s what people see: Trump Admin officials going unscathed for their corruption and disdain.

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @CaseyL: The subpoenas are being ignored, and all the committees say is they will “consider” a contempt hearing. People are claiming executive privilege who have no right to it, and the Dems aren’t fighting back.

    They are going to court to get the subpoenas enforced. What other ways do you suggest they “fight back”? The “public” put Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Cory Gardner in a position to ignore this, and two of those people in blue-ish purple states don’t seem real scared of the “public” right now. A whole lot of the Democrats elected in the fabled 2018 elections are the ones putting the brakes on impeachment. That’s who Pelosi is responding to. How would it look to the public if Pelosi were suddenly to force through an impeachment vote, and it failed with every Republican and 30-50 Democrats* voting against it? That would rally people to the Resistance?

    * a guess based on the fact that about 100 have not yet publicly declared one way or the other.

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    Jinchi says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    suddenly to force through an impeachment vote

    It’s been almost 6 months since Mueller released his report and the president is now openly extorting foreign powers for dirt on his political enemies. We’re well past “suddenly forcing through” impeachment.

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    Ruckus says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    I’ve been banging on BJ for a while that while emotionally, and yes realistically from a legal standpoint we should be holding impeachment hearings, politically it just isn’t practical. This week may change that. As more and more citizens begin to come on board that will shift rapidly. Those of us around for Watergate probably remember that it took 2 years and that was with some republicans on our side. We not only don’t have republicans on our side, every one of them is fighting this or at the very least staying quiet. I seem to recall one republican member of congress came out against him. One – and I could be easily wrong about that. Some others may be, as they have announced they are not running. The world has to tilt but once it does, it will gather steam pretty fast. The senate still will not do anything at all, because of moscow mitch. So really impeachment has to wind up in the house Sept/Oct. A year from now. And either the senate kicks him out or he loses very, very badly. But while I want it now, I don’t see anything really working unless we beat him like a rented mule next Nov.

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Jinchi: Okay. Let me know if Jeff Van Drew, Max Rose, Mikie Sherrill, Whosits Lipinski, Stephen Lynch, Anthony Brindisi, Richie Neal and Collin Peterson have changed their minds. Let me know if Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger have declared themselves in favor. Out of 98 Democratic MoCs who have not declared for impeachment, most not in the “leadership”, those are the ones who off the top of my head are either opposed, or don’t want to say. That’s more than half of the number needed to torpedo an impeachment and create what i think is the worst possible outcome.

    Maybe this latest revelation will shift public opinion. Maybe Collins will get scared or Evan McMullin will announce a primary run at Mike Lee. Maybe Cory Gardner will get caught in his father’s barn with a goat. But as of a week ago, the American people did not support impeachment. Nancy Pelosi is not blocking a movement, she’s dealing with the reality of American politics.

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Ruckus: I seem to recall one republican member of congress came out against him. One – and I could be easily wrong about that.

    Justin Amash? and he was driven out of the caucus.

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Conor Lamb, Andrew Kim, Kendra Horn. That’s 13.

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    CaseyL says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Out of 98 Democratic MoCs who have not declared for impeachment, most not in the “leadership”, those are the ones who off the top of my head are either opposed, or don’t want to say. That’s more than half of the number needed to torpedo an impeachment and create what i think is the worst possible outcome.

    As I said at the start of this back-and-forth, then THAT IS WHO WE ARE AS A NATION. One that will countenance corruption, treason, and brutality as long as the economy is good.

    People need to stop bleating “That’s not who we are.” That is EXACTLY who we are.

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @CaseyL: As I said at the start of this back-and-forth, then THAT IS WHO WE ARE AS A NATION. One that will countenance corruption, treason, and brutality as long as the economy is good.

    People need to stop bleating “That’s not who we are.” That is EXACTLY who we are.

    That was my point all along. This isn’t about Nancy Pelosi and the Dem leadership you said you were disgusted with. Things may still change, but … yeah, we have met the enemy, and he is us. We saw babies slaughtered at Newtown and offered thoughts and prayers. We see children tortured in cages for being poor and brown and we don’t like it, but we get over it. We see a president flouting the law, and we (in Maine) say, but Susan’s office returned my call the next day…”

    I’m just seeing a lot of people who should know better bashing Pelosi on twitter, journalists and politicos who should know better, and I’m not on twitter so I take it out here. IF anyone is on twitter and follows Brian Beutler and wants to show him my partial list of impeachment opponents who are not Nancy Pelosi and remind him that those stories about LBJ getting legislation passed with headlocks and boogies are mostly legend, I should be most grateful.

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    Jinchi says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Nancy Pelosi is not blocking a movement, she’s dealing with the reality of American politics.

    She is not a passive bystander. She is the one arguing that pursuing impeachment is a threat to the Democrat’s chances to win the House, the Senate and the Presidency. She has been whipping her members to oppose impeachment and attacking those who support it. She has successfully convinced many Democratic voters, people who are disgusted by Trump and who want to see him in jail, to oppose impeachment.

    This is not a “reality of American politics”. This is a failure of leadership in the face of a crisis.

    For those of you who still think Pelosi is pursuing some grand strategy that will ultimately lead to Trump’s removal from office:

    She isn’t.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Friday that while she has not changed her mind on the futility of pursuing impeachment charges against President Donald Trump.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/pelosi-impeachment-ukraine-trump-indictment

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    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    She has successfully convinced many Democratic voters, people who are disgusted by Trump and who want to see him in jail, to oppose impeachment.

    Good god.

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