The Whistleblower Saga Bifurcates

There are at least two things going on in what we might call the whistleblower saga. I got confused by them last night, so let me try to clarify them for myself and whomever else might be confused.

A whistleblower submitted a complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), which the ICIG was then required by law to pass on to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire intercepted the complaint and stonewalled when Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed the document and him to appear before the committee. (Lawfare) Later reports were that the complaint was against something that President Donald Trump did and that multiple actions were included in it.

More specifically, a telephone conversation that included a promise to a foreign leader was said to be part of it. Initial speculation centered around Vladimir Putin and possible sharing of information about agents inside Russia. Then we were told that the country involved was Ukraine and its new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

There was a great scramble to find recent news about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, and a timeline suggested that Trump had withheld aid that Congress had voted for Ukraine until Zelensky agreed to find (or manufacture) dirt on the business dealings of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. And there seems to have been an additional $140 million that went to Ukraine later.

In a wild interview with Chris Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer, admitted that he had asked Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens. Trump initially tweeted a number of contradictory things about his conversation with Zelensky. On Sunday, he admitted that he had asked Zelensky to look into the Bidens.

This is where the story bifurcates. On the one hand, we have the whistleblower complaint, about which we know little. The reports of a promise and multiple interactions seem not to fit with what Giuliani and Trump have admitted to. The Acting DNI continues to (probably illegally) stonewall Congress.

On the other, we have the admission of the President and his lawyer that they were engaged in strongarming the new president of Ukraine to help them with Trump’s re-election campaign. This is clearly a misuse of power, a high crime or misdemeanor, suitable for a charge in impeachment. This is what the news has been running with.

Both stories are important, and different from each other. Trump’s Ukraine blackmail/ extortion/ soliciting campaign assistance from a foreign country did not come directly from the whistleblower complaint. It came from Trump and Giuliani’s admissions in response to speculation about what that complaint contained. Trump has (sorta, in his confusing way) offered a transcript of the telephone conversation, maybe redacted.

That’s not enough. The stories have become separate, but they are related at a fundamental level that has to do with Trump’s corruption. Congress must continue to investigate the whistleblower complaint and include the Ukraine connection.

Trump loves to confuse things, and that’s what he’s doing now. We’ve got to keep things clear in our minds.


Update: Profile of Michael Atkinson, the ICIG, “a straightshooter.”

151 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Good points. Always have to be careful we’re not being punk’d.

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Thank you for keeping this straight. Trying to extort Zelensky is bad, arguably impeachable, but I suspect that it’s not what the whistleblower was blowing the whistle about. Unfortunately, the attempted extortion is sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

  3. 3

    @Gin & Tonic: That’s okay for now. It’s enough by itself for impeachment, so it’s important. Schiff seems to be keeping his eye on the ball with respect to the whistleblower.

  4. 4
    jl says:

    Thanks. This is an important point that a commenter made in a previous thread. And one reason no one should fall for the Trumpster gambit of releasing a transcript of the ‘perfect call’. Whistle blower report mentions eight episodes of urgent concern. And for the intelligent community IG agreed that it was under their purview, so they deem it contain something related to intelligence matters.

    There is a lot more here than one call to to Zelensky.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    This is what we don’t know what did he say to Putin. That is why they need to know the whistle blower’s statement. If he wanted Russia to pressure Ukraine, we need to know that. Of course, it’s possible he didn’t and the whistle blower could clear it up. One transcript is not enough.
    The 140 million from State is key, because it even caught Munchin by surprise.

  6. 6

    Trump loves to confuse things, and that’s what he’s doing now. We’ve got to keep things clear in our minds.

    It’s not just that he’s confusing the two issues. I think he’s pushing the part about him strongarming Ukraine because he’s hoping he can get the news to focus on his smear of Biden rather than his own attempts to fabricate evidence about it. So in addition to keeping the two aspects of Trump’s misdeeds separate in our minds, we also have to try to keep the Biden smears from sucking up all the oxygen.

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: @Cheryl Rofer: I think it is pretty clear that the leak about the phone call, which had a very different tenor to the leaks before and after it from former senior Intelligence officials, was from within the President’s orbit in an attempt to reshape the narrative. By doing so it brought it to Ukraine, corruption, and allegations about both Hunter Biden and Vice President Biden. Those accusations, which have all been debunked by multiple sources, have now morphed into Vice President Biden conspired with (someone in) Ukraine’s government to interfere in the 2016 election. That was Secretary Pompeo’s line yesterday on the CBS’s Sunday news show. This is itself a modification of a three year old spurious and debunked accusation that a DNC staffer who approached contacts in Ukraine for oppo on Manafort was interfering in the election. Which was itself then modified, once Secretary Clinton took the 2016 nomination, into she and senior officials on her campaign had approached contacts in Ukraine’s government for oppo on Manafort to interfere in the 2016 election. This was basically Trumpworld’s attempt to both sides the now substantiated accusation that the President and members of his familial, his business associates, and campaign personnel had actually conspired with Russians to interfere in the campaign, even if they did so in an inept manner.

    This is tangentially related, or has been tangentially connected, by other leaks with a different tone and tenor, to the unknown whistleblower’s complaint and the almost completely unknown substance and details of that complaint.

  8. 8
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: If that was what commenter Dork was talking about in an earlier thread, then he or she had a point.

  9. 9
    Dork says:

    @Roger Moore:

    So in addition to keeping the two aspects of Trump’s misdeeds separate in our minds, we also have to try to keep the Biden smears from sucking up all the oxygen.

    The ship has already sailed on part one of your prescription. People who care about 2020 should focus every sliver of energy into not letting this be the only conversation we have until Biden drops out.

  10. 10
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: While Moss has been walled off by his boss, who is now of counsel to the whistleblower, so that Moss can publicly comment, he does know who the whistleblower is and what the outlines of the various incidents that the whistleblower complained about are.

  11. 11

    @Adam L Silverman: Nice genealogy. All we need to remember is that everything Trump says about Biden is a lie.

    I purposely left out the Biden “story” from the OP because it’s a distraction. The balls we need to keep our eyes on are that we don’t know what’s in the whistleblower complaint and that Trump and Giuliani have admitted they tried to force the Ukrainian president to help them with Trump’s campaign.

  12. 12
    jl says:

    One thing people can do is call up our worthless media and complain. And suggest that instead of falling all over themselves to fall for GOP talking points and get cheap clicks and eyeballs from speculation, they could report some facts.

    One fact that they could report is that there is a formal legal procedure the Trumpsters could have followed to get the Ukrainian government to open an investigation if they had any evidence. But the Trumpsters didn’t follow that. Trump made secret threats, had the Dept of State arrange for Giuliani go make threats and offer sticks and carrots in person, and sent Pence to introduce himself as the bag man.

  13. 13
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  14. 14
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JPL: From what I can gather from Friday’s and Saturday’s reporting, as well as the pushback by a Ukrainian government official in WaPo, is that Giuliani is targeting specific Ukrainian elected and appointed officials to try to tie them to some sort of cover up to help Biden. All of these current and former officials are solidly anti-Putin. I think there’s much more at play here than we’re seeing, as I wrote in an earlier comment, and that yesterday’s leak to WaPo about the call between Trump and Zelensky came from the Trump camp and was a strategic attempt to tailor the narrative. I think the deeper story here is that this is an attempt to bring down Ukraine’s new government or, at least, so severely cripple it that Ukraine can’t defend itself against Putin. And I think that’s what the leaks earlier on Friday from unnamed former Intelligence officials that there were a series of interactions or events that drove the whistleblower to file the complaint. Right now everyone is chasing the shiny object of Trump and Giuliani pressuring Zelensky to conspire with them to take down Biden with fabricated evidence. And whatever Vogel’s doing and his role in it, which is still, I think a story in itself. And that’s obscuring that Rudy has longstanding ties to some of the shadiest post Soviet oligarchs throughout eastern Europe, as well as those who made their way to Israel and the US. And that these connections, while often in plain sight, are largely unexamined. No one has really looked into who is paying him for all this security consulting in the post Soviet states. These oligarchs are all tied to the post Soviet mobs in their states or back in Russia. And weakening Ukraine is definitely in Putin’s and therefore their interests.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: Other than to do focused research, I’ve been offline and off Balloon Juice most of the day, so I have no idea about earlier comments in earlier threads.

  16. 16
    Dork says:

    @jl: Thanks, I don’t always lay out my points as well as I might like but this is indeed the pattern I was trying to point out.

  17. 17
    jl says:

    On the other hand, the Trumpsters were going to smear Biden anyway. It is wasn’t this, it would have been something else. They’ll smear any Democratic candidate who looks like a winner. So, Democrats need to learn how to respond to smears, not fret about falling for this or that ‘trap’. If there will always be a trap they try to lay and worrying about how to detect traps might distract from something Democrats have to get better at anyway. Just learn how to respond to smears, which will come anyway.

    I guess Trumpsters will start worrying about Warren now. But Trump thinks he can defeat her by calling her names.

  18. 18
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I am gracious and merciful and I grant you a pardon in this case.

  19. 19
    Raoul says:

    Mittens seems (shockingly) to have held onto the actual whistleblower thread.

    NEWS: Sen. Mitt Romney tells me Trump “should make available the whistleblower complaint that has been deemed to be credible and urgent. I think it’d be very helpful to get the bottom of the facts. If they don’t, it will be up to the House to decide how to proceed.”
    4:56 PM · Sep 23, 2019

  20. 20
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The problem that I have with some who want Biden to drop out is that the same thing will be used against the other candidates. It’s difficult to disprove a non event or a negative. MSM plays along with trump.

  21. 21
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Am I right that the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor, Shokin, was essentially doing an Alberto Gonzales? And that Trump and Giuliani and maybe Ken Vogel are trying to lean on his successor until he does that too?

    Gonzales had also presided over the firings of several U.S. Attorneys who had refused back-channel White House directives to prosecute political enemies, allegedly causing the office of Attorney General to become improperly politicized

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Which is why we need to know what the whistle blower knows.

  23. 23

    @Dork: I don’t follow all of the threads in a day, so I missed your contribution.

  24. 24
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: No complaints, and my comment wasn’t meant as one, in regard to your post.

    My real interest at this point is in the counterintelligence and counterinfluence components. Specifically, how exactly did the President and Giuliani get turned on to a piece of five year old Russian disinformation and provocation placed in a RIA-Novosti interview with a dodgy and discredited “American peace activist” that was intended to primarily obscure and distract from Putin’s scarfing up Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine under the maskirovka cover of an ethnic Russian breakaway. How and why this got to Vogel and why Vogel is so determined to push it no matter how many times it is debunked. And finally, how to counter this influence operation so it is neutralized.

  25. 25
    jl says:

    @JPL: ” It’s difficult to disprove a non event or a negative. ”

    But if relevant facts are reported, there will be indirect evidence that can make it much less difficult. For example, reporting that there is a legal procedure for the US to request the Ukrainian government to open, or re-open an investigation into the Bidens. Trumpsters didn’t follow that, the acted like mob bosses.

    Edit: people should contact news outlets to complain about crummy coverage. Contact your local and the national outlets. I do that in bursts, and am in the midst of another one now.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Raoul: Senator Willard M. Romney is the Senator Susan Collins of Senator Jeff Flakes.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @jl: But will the rest of us forgive your act of mercy and grace?

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    You don’t need to be a Biden supporter to know that first they come from…………yadda, yadda, yadda … That is where we are at.

  29. 29
    jl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: No, not the commenters. Never. I am prepared to stride the everlasting blasts.

  30. 30
    JPL says:

    @jl: haha We work with the MSM we have not the one we wished we had.
    Today I had a deep pit because you know the next step is Barr opening an investigation into Hunter Biden’s dealings.

  31. 31

    @Adam L Silverman: Oh yes, and yes to your earlier comment. I very much want to know what’s been going on behind the scenes and all the connections. It’s very much like the Russian influence through Trump’s campaign organization – we still don’t know the full story there, like how Carter Page (and a few other scummy folk) became foreign policy advisors, among many other questions. The Mueller Report barely touches on all this, even though it was supposed to look at Russian influence. The counterintelligence investigation, which is still ongoing, is probably answering these questions. I know that counterintelligence is very allergic to making its findings public, but we need to know a lot more.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @JPL: ” Barr opening an investigation into Hunter Biden’s dealings. ”

    A little late for that, and if he does and corporate media fall for it, people need to contact them and explain why it is far to late for that sweep this part of the whistleblower issue under the rug. That’s why you have people like Barr plan things. So, this is probably some scheme Trump hatched himself and bullied and threatened some of chicken shittier, flakier, or dumber flunkies into. Pompeo and Mnuchin probably fit the bill, Barr doesn’t.

  33. 33
    PJ says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I don’t think you needed to modify that second sentence with “about Biden” – pretty much everything Trump says is a misrepresentation, if not an outright lie.

  34. 34

  35. 35
    japa21 says:

    As I mentioned earlier, the key word that has stuck with me was “promise”. And I still think that the promise was made to Putin and did involve Ukraine, i.e. withhold military aid, isolate them more, work to undermine the new government, etc. This was in response, I believe, to Putin providing more context regarding Biden. The context was undoubtedly a lie, but Trump bought it hook, line and sinker.

    I think that would have alarmed an intelligence expert far more than trying to strongarm the Ukraine President into digging up dirt.

  36. 36
    New Deal democrat says:

    Adam Silverman: I agree with your thinking.
    The whistleblower was unnerved by a “promise.” It is unlikely that a “promise” of aid to Ukraine – that they were already supposed to receive – in return for dirt on Biden would get that reaction, or be deemed “urgent.” But a “promise” to Putin to freeze Ukraine out of that aid, facilitating a Russian attack, using the pretext of requiring dirt on Biden first, *would* be both hair-raising and urgent.

  37. 37
    geg6 says:

    I agree. I think this Ukraine thing is what Nosferatu and the Fat Cheeto think is the least damaging thing the whistleblower had, with the added bonus of dragging Uncle Joe in the mud. Now, neither of them are very bright so I think this is a plausible explanation for what they are doing.

  38. 38

    Politico just came out with a profile of Michael Atkinson, the ICIG, who is characterized as “a straightshooter.” That’s been pretty obvious from his actions so far. I’ve added a link up top.

  39. 39
    patrick II says:

    Even in what he know from Trump leak, he and members of his administration are willing to harm and perhaps overthrow a new democracy fighting to free itself from the bonds of fascist Russia. Whether it is just a consequence of a ruthess narcissist no holds barred fight for re-election or the purposeful spread of fascism by fascists, the consequences for ukraine are an under appreciated part of the media’s representation of this story.

  40. 40
    jl says:

    @geg6: ” think is the least damaging thing the whistleblower had ”

    And/or, the rest of the whistle blower’s report is truly horrendous.

  41. 41
    Mary G says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: @Adam L Silverman: I keep seeing people on Twitter saying that the White House requested a list of all American spies, but there’s been nothing in the news stories about it. Is there anything to it, do you know.

  42. 42


    I am prepared to stride the everlasting blasts.


  43. 43
    Mary G says:

    O/T, but Uncle Joe stepped in it again:

    Another day, another Paleolithic Biden moment.A young woman is asking him a serious, critical question.He grabs her hands. Why?As she persists, he pats them patronizingly and says “Thank you for admiring me so much.”This is a man from another time.— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) September 23, 2019

  44. 44
    Faithful Lurker says:

    @Mary G: I’ve wondered about this too. If Trump planned/plans on handing a list of American spies in Russia to Putin, that would be 20 times the disaster that the Ukraine story seems to be.

  45. 45
    Jay says:


    Shokin refused to investigate claims of corruption and looting, and staffed the offices with “prosecutors” tied into the corruption.

    With the West promising Ukraine military and economic aid contingent on reforms, Shokin had to go.

  46. 46

    @Mary G: I have seen that and not followed up.

    One of my surmises early on, before the report that the country involved was Ukraine, was that Trump might have given up spies’ identities to Russia, or promised to. On September 10, it was reported that Trump doesn’t like using spies in other countries. Bits of that have come out in the past, but I always like to ask why a story is coming out now. Was Trump particularly agitated about that in the recent past? Why?

    It’s a very thin connection, and Trump hasn’t admitted it yet, so it’s not on the same footing with the Mob approach to Ukraine. I’m keeping my eye on it, though, and I’ll bet some reporters are working on it.

  47. 47
    Annie says:

    I thought, when I first heard about the phone call with the promise, that T***p had promised Putin something, perhaps to let him have a free hand in Ukraine.

  48. 48
    JPL says:

    @Jay: haha I imagine for money he will say he wanted to.

  49. 49
    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Trump sure doesn’t seem to like spying or operations on his sponsor countries. Doesn’t seem to mind them spying or operating here.

  50. 50

    @Jay: Ukraine has had a terrible problem with corruption since the Soviet Union broke up. It’s why Ukraine hasn’t done as well economically as the Baltic states, for example. Petro Poroshenko, the last president, was elected because he was less corrupt than the previous president, but there is still some ways to go. Part of Zelensky’s platform is to clean up corruption, so it’s natural that some people, like Shokin, will be booted out.

  51. 51
    patrick II says:

    If the whistleblower Knew what Trump was doing, then others in the administration also know, including Bars and Pompeo. It’s amazing, but if this is as bad as it sounds, there is a broad conspiracy .- — not just Trump and this immediate toadies – – acting against the interests of this county and democracy in the world.

  52. 52
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Faithful Lurker: Wow! That’s horrific. That would certainly result in their deaths.

  53. 53

    @patrick II: Don’t forget that Pence made a trip to Ukraine too.

  54. 54
    JPL says:

    @Mary G: Then run on that and not some bull shit made up campaign. If that works against Biden every other candidate will have the same thing. Maybe not Ukraine but something.

  55. 55
    chopper says:


    LOL. good ol’ soft and spineless mitt.

  56. 56
    Mike in NC says:

    Fat Bastard has been gaslighting the world for three years now.

  57. 57
    jl says:

    @patrick II: Barr was probably let in on it later, when they realized they couldn’t keep the oover on. I think Barr is smart enough to understand they should have gone through the motions of a lawful investigation and request to Ukraine at the beginning of the plot.

    Starting one now will prompt our lazy media to finally ask him why he didn’t open one earlier when he should have in order to follow lawful process of making a request to Ukraine. Barr starting now would make actual reporting ‘newsworthy’, maybe get a gotcha out of Barr. That would be worth doing some actual work on reporting the news.

  58. 58
    chopper says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    i do think that this event is going to end up shifting a lot of dems in the house caucus to the impeachment side. once that number gets close to 218 the pressure on pelosi is gonna go thermonuclear.

    here’s hoping she’d figure out a way to stretch it out til the election, cause there’s no way moscow mitch won’t ratfuck the shit out of it in the senate.

  59. 59
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Mary G:

    “Thank you for admiring me so much.”

    This strikes me as such a weird statement to make that I suspect this tweet is missing a lot of context. Probably something like “Mr. Vice President, I want to start by saying I’ve always admired you and the work you’ve done. But I have some serious doubts about the following things…”, to which Biden says “Thanks for admiring me so much”, and then doesn’t answer her actual question.

    In order words, it sounds like a normal (though ‘bad’) political interaction that’s being pushed outsize to its actual content. At least, that would be my impression without watching the actual video. :/

  60. 60
    Kay says:

    I don’t have any faith in impeachment as a process but they have to do it now, or it’s dead letter.
    If you don’t enforce laws they cease to exist, as a practical matter. This isn’t a magical time-out period from laws. Use them or lose them.
    I’m sympathetic to the concerns of more vulnerable D’s but they had to have contemplated there might come a time where their political concerns would be overtaken by events that are beyond their control. They may hate it, but they have a job to do and it’s not a popularity contest. Grit your teeth and get going. No one said it was going to easy, or risk-free.

  61. 61
    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Pence admitted, Trumpster fashion, earlier today he was going to be the inspector general of Ukrainian compliance with the deal, and the bag man.

  62. 62
    J R in WV says:

    I agree that Ukraine and Biden corruption is the least likely issue to be the cause of the original WhistleBlower Filing. It may be a small passing detail, but is probably totally fabricated given what we know about the Biden family. But the fact that Trump and Putin spoke on the phone on July 31st, and Trump’s White House requested a list of all Top Spies on Aug 3rd, that’s a big ole whopping clue right there.

    Then there’s this list of dated events, included in this twitter feed:

    7/28 Coats resigning soon
    7/31 Trump-Putin ‘wildfire’ call
    8/2 US out of INF Treaty
    8/6 Huntsman resigns
    8/8 Coats tells Sue Gordon to resign asap
    8/12 #Whistleblower complaint filed
    8/15 Coats out
    9/9 News-CIA extracted key spy from Russia in ’17
    9/10: Bolton resigns

    Remember, Coats burst into a meeting to tell Ms Gordon that she needed to resign immediately… what’s up with that? Very strange behavior indeed! That’s not how internal office affairs work at all, so there was urgency about her resignation and something else happening on a date right around that event.

  63. 63
    Jeffro says:

    @JPL: That’s it, that’s exactly it – why the additional $140M, and what was asked for/promised in return?

    (Insert dive klaxon here)
    (Or ‘ENNNT!” lol)

  64. 64
    Kay says:

    NYT Politics
    Biden’s Work in Ukraine: What We Know and Don’t Know

    Yeah, thanks but no thanks, NYTimes. We’ll just read the whistleblower complaint and listen to the testimony. We need original sources. And we get those! Pursuant to our laws, we’re permitted to see, hear and evaluate the original documents and actual testimony.

  65. 65
    JPL says:

    @J R in WV: Well if they have guts they need to leak to the Post because we know the NYTimes is not longer trustworthy.

  66. 66
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Don Jr was over in Europe meeting with some of the same people that Giuliani has been dealing with on this Ukraine influence op.

  67. 67
    cain says:

    If that concern is supposed to go to Congress as a matter of law, how come nobody is going to the court to get them to enforce it? What am I missing here? If it is the letter of the law, then the court should easily back it up.

  68. 68
    JPL says:

    @Kay: In honor of EFG.. F..KEM

  69. 69
    JPL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Of course he was..

  70. 70
    Mary G says:

    @Kay: Exactly. If they keep putting off coming out for impeachment, and then the smoking gun is found, they’ll lose progressive support and maybe even the Republicans who voted them in. So there’s risk in what they’re doing now. They need to be brave.

  71. 71

    While I’m dubious of Trump’s ability to think strategically, I do wonder if the Ukraine leaks/disclosures are a repeat of the Access Hollywood tapes — i.e. using a less damaging scandal to distract from a far more serious one.

    Especially given Trump and minions seeing this as chance to tar Biden, and Trump likely trying to brazen it out as “it’s just politics.” Versus something like turning over a spy to the Russians, and/or knee-capping the Ukrainians so that the Russians could move against them.

  72. 72
    J R in WV says:


    I don’t have any faith in impeachment as a process but they have to do it now, or it’s dead letter.
    If you don’t enforce laws they cease to exist, as a practical matter. This isn’t a magical time-out period from laws. Use them or lose them.

    That’s part of what’s wrong with the Impeachment process now… While the House has the power to arrest and fine people, they haven’t used that power in so long that people feel free to ignore that power’s existence.

    I think Pelosi needs to get with DC police ( or any available and willing police force she can work with, I just think DC police would be willing and able to do this. a shame the FBI won’t be able to do it! ) and arrange for them to act as the House’s police force, arrest several of these guys who have refused to appear at 3 am and book them into a DC municipal jail, with a daily fine that will quickly make them bankrupt.

    The right to act is right there in the Constitution IIRC and should be restored, polished up and implemented post haste~!!~ Stop these cheap crooks from sneering at the laws. Produce the IRS records Mr Mnuchin, or stay in a city jail cell for the rest of Trump’s time in office! Produce the whistleblower report ACTING DNI Joseph Maguire, or stay in jail for the rest of Trump’s term in office!

    Etc. We need to do all of these at the same time one night, to make it clear that laws are to be obeyed by Trump and all of his slimy minions.

  73. 73
    cain says:

    @J R in WV:
    Out of curiosity, will this also stop folks to appear before congress? You’ll still have to figure out where they are hiding.. and if they decide to hang out in California or something then what is the process then?

  74. 74
    Faithful Lurker says:

    @Patricia Kayden: I think that’s the point. Putin doesn’t fool around.

  75. 75
    Fair Economist says:

    Maybe I’m misremembering, but I recall in the initial rumors about the whistleblower report, there were supposed to be multiple incidents, so releasing an (untrustworthy) transcript of one phone call wouldn’t cover it. Certainly there *could* be more information in the whistleblower report and there is no way to know it without it being released.

  76. 76
    JR says:

    Ukraine is worth pursuing but it’s hard not to see it as chaff in this context.

  77. 77
    Kay says:

    @Mary G:

    If they keep putting off coming out for impeachment, and then the smoking gun is found, they’ll lose progressive support and maybe even the Republicans who voted them in. So there’s risk in what they’re doing now.

    I don’t even mean that. I mean, I get it- they have political concerns. But Trump forced their hand. If they don’t impeach now the process is dead letter. It doesn’t mean anything. They no longer have a choice of “be brave or be cautious”. They have a choice of “start enforcing laws or we’re lawless”. That’s not a choice at all, which is when most people do “brave” things, really- when they have absolutely no other choice. They’re there.

  78. 78

    @Fair Economist: The report of multiple incidents is what sticks in my mind, along with that a promise was made.

  79. 79
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    (Insert dive klaxon here)
    (Or ‘ENNNT!” lol)


  80. 80
    jl says:

    @MisterForkbeard: I watched it, and I thought it was sarcastic. Kindly Uncle Joe was blowing her off with the ‘admiring me so much.’ It came off as callous. I think the had holding was to set up a sweet moment where he can comfort a child with his wise Kindly Uncle Joe-ness and it didn’t work.

    I had some hopes that a Biden campaign would serve some purpose. I thought he did some good things in the Obama administration, and was responsible for bringing in some very good more progressive advisers on economics than Obama had. But his campaign has been a huge disappointment.

    I did watch youtubes of Bidens early appearances before he formally announced. He’s been practicing the Kindly Uncle Joe schtick since the beginning, and was so clumsy at it early on, his speeches were nearly incomprehensible. So, I am cynical about the whole Biden act. If he is starting to fade in the polls, I think he’ll have trouble coming back, since he really doesn’t have anything except his act from the Obama administration.

    edit: in sum, new old Joe is the same as the old old Joe, kind of clueless doofus.

  81. 81
    Kay says:

    @J R in WV:

    I don’t know that any of these people are up to it. But- they are stuck with it. You go to war with the army you have. I know they’d prefer to be talking about health care! Donald Trump made that impossible. He won’t stop lawbreaking until they stop him and they’re all we have. That’s the “dam” that’s breaking. They’re realizing they no longer have a choice.

  82. 82

  83. 83
    Jay says:

    Last year, Ukrainian lawmakers admitted that Poroshenko's government halted cooperation with Mueller regarding Manafort/corruption because they didn't want to upset Trump while they were buying US anti-tank missiles. This seems strangely forgotten.— Dan Friedman (@dfriedman33) September 23, 2019

    Because there is infinite shit being shoveled to try to bury Orangemandius’s corruption,….

  84. 84
    Kay says:

    @J R in WV:

    I read that Wall Streeters are mad because they see Warren as the threat, not Biden.

    They’re not even competent sleazy plutocrats. They can’t even take out the right person.

  85. 85
    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I think that Trump floated sending a former ambassador to Russia to be ‘investigated’. McFaul? I forget for what. For obvious reasons, the trial balloon was dropped almost instantaneously.

  86. 86

    @jl: Yes, it was Michael McFaul. I think Putin asked for him and Trump was ready to give him up, but I could be wrong on that. And yes, Trump dropped it quickly.

  87. 87


    if they decide to hang out in California

    That’s the last place they’d want to hang out.

  88. 88
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: @Faithful Lurker: @Cheryl Rofer: I think they’re referring to this from the beginning of August. From The Daily Beast:

    The Trump administration is taking inventory of many of America’s top spies, The Daily Beast has learned. The White House recently asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for a list of all its employees at the federal government’s top pay scale who have worked there for 90 days or more, according to two sources familiar with the request.

    The request appears to be part of the White House’s search for a temporary director of national intelligence—a prospect that raises concerns in some quarters about political influence over the intelligence community.

    The request, which specifically asks for people in ODNI at the GS-15 level (the pay grade for most top government employees, including supervisors) or higher, comes as ODNI’s leadership faces turmoil. Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will step down on Aug. 15, and that he plans to nominate Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe for the post. But Ratcliffe faces a contentious confirmation process that’s all but certain to stretch past the 15th, and the White House needs someone to take the DNI role in the meantime.

    According to federal law, ODNI’s Senate-confirmed second-in-command—the principal deputy director of national intelligence, currently Sue Gordon—steps in if the DNI departs. Gordon, who has spent decades in the intelligence community, is revered there and on Capitol Hill. But as a career intelligence official, she isn’t viewed as Team MAGA. And the White House is reportedly eyeing ways to put someone they trust in the top role after Coats departs. (The New York Times reported Friday afternoon that the White House was planning to block Gordon’s elevation.)

    More at the link!

    Also, any of those personnel – at the GS 15 level and higher, so Senior Analytical Service or Senior Clandestine Service (the CIA/Intel Community equivalent of Senior Executive Service) – that are in covered and not for covered forward deployed positions doing clandestine work would be compartmented from the reply. Both because recalling them to serve as Acting DNI would do serious harm to the ops they’re working on. And while the President, as the original classification authority for the entire US government has the right to know all of this information, virtually no one else in the White House does, so the folks working on ops would’ve been protected. I don’t think there’s really any there here beyond face value except that no one trusts these people, so even reasonable things seem hinky and troubling.

  89. 89
    Kay says:

    Did you hear Trump bargaining with media today? Hinting that he would release the transcript.

    They really don’t want to turn over that complaint, which is all the more reason the public should get it.

    I didn’t authorize political media to make a deal with Donald Trump on my behalf. I don’t want the phone call. I want the complaint. Offer rejected.

  90. 90
    Jay says:

    Why is the OMB now in charge of how the US sends aid to Ukraine? This is bonkers.— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) September 23, 2019

  91. 91


    Well if they have guts they need to leak to the Post because we know the NYTimes is not longer trustworthy.

    If they’re going to leak, there are two plausible options:

    1) Leak to HPSCI. This gets the information to the people who legally ought to have it and puts the burden of what to do with it on them.
    2) Leak to everybody. People in the Trump administration have probably already figured out the whistleblower’s identity, so there’s no serious worry about somebody you leak to revealing their source. So release it as widely as possible so that no single reporter or news outlet can control the flow of information.

  92. 92

    @Sister Golden Bear:

    While I’m dubious of Trump’s ability to think strategically, I do wonder if the Ukraine leaks/disclosures are a repeat of the Access Hollywood tapes — i.e. using a less damaging scandal to distract from a far more serious one.

    That’s almost certainly part of it, but the attempt to steer the discussion to the fabricated claims against Biden are obviously also important.

  93. 93
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Huh… no wonder they are in panic mode. Ratcliffe would a good candidate to oversee that operation.

  94. 94
    MCA1 says:

    @chopper: There was this today, too:

    I’ve been reluctant to overreact gleefully to the latest developments and conclude this time they’re definitely going to do something, since that’s been a Lucy with the football situation. But while there’s a lot of off the record and inside info sort of language here, I haven’t heard even Congressional aides predicting that the impeachening is nigh, previously. There’s also a lot of details suggesting that behind the scenes the House Dems do in fact have a spreadsheet, possibly entitled “ITMFA Elements,” and have been adding to and sorting it for awhile now in preparation for proceedings. Meaning the idea that they’re just getting steamrolled by the zone flooding with scandals and distractions by Drumpfco, and can’t keep up or have lost the forest for the trees, might not be an entirely accurate working theory.

    We’re still missing strong and consistent messaging from actual House Dems. I would like all of them to be laying out the same discreet talking points, heavily populated by words like “betrayal,” “oath of office,” “personal enrichment,” “shameful” and “disgraceful.” They need to be in full attack mode. It’s not hard – Kamala just tweeted out this afternoon that impeachment’s a must and “He’s gotta go.” But this article’s contents make it seem like we might be on the precipice.

  95. 95
    jl says:

    @Roger Moore: Twofer. Best thing they could do to get in front of the worse stuff if it comes out, and get a ding on Biden. They probably are in some kind of frenzied fugue state; shuttling between smug appreciation of their brilliance and sheer pants pissing panic.

  96. 96
    Jay says:

    This is the largest (or one of the largest) political rallies POTUS has ever spoken to — except maybe RNC convention — and it was organized by a foreign country? …— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) September 22, 2019

  97. 97

    Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut District 3, clearly sees the two issues:

  98. 98


    Why is the OMB now in charge of how the US sends aid to Ukraine?

    At the risk of answering a rhetorical question, Trump does this because he hates formal chains of command and defined areas of responsibility. He wants a bunch of ministers without portfolio who he can assign to tasks as they come up without having to worry about who is supposed to be in charge of what area. He apparently trusts Mulvaney, so sending aid to Ukraine got assigned to OMB to be within his area. This is a huge reason he has so many acting directors: it makes it easier for him to shuffle people around to wherever he thinks they’ll be able to help him most.

  99. 99
    lgerard says:

    I don’t understand why they are not proceeding with the simplest of options…an impeachment inquiry into the failure of DNI Maguire to follow the law.

    It would force the republicans to come out of hiding and drive trump even more crazy when he is asked every day why he is politicizing this and hanging a long serving veteran out to dry just t protect his fat ass.

  100. 100
    MCA1 says:

    @Kay: Steve Benen made an interesting connection on that today, noting Dotard’s use of the phrase “respected source.” That’s the exact wording some other POTUS who was dogged by impeachable activities used, when offering to have a blue dog Dem listen to his White House tapes discussing a hotel break-in and then summarize everything for the rest of us.

    Hard pass, Donnie.

  101. 101
    Raoul says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Indeed. He’s managed to shrink into the Senate wallpaper most every day. I was just surprised he stuck his neck out even that teeny, tiny bit.

  102. 102
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You are correct. Happened at that whacked joint press conference in Helsinki. Which means that the President had already agreed to it in the one on one talks with no US note taker and with a US translator who had to surrender her notes to the President.

  103. 103
    Raoul says:

    @MCA1: Vodka heir/moderate suburban first-term congressman Dean Phillips came out pretty strongly for impeachment today. He’s being seen by some as a bellwether. If the R to D first term flippers start moving towards impeachment, the current is going to get moving. Let’s hope so.

  104. 104
    Jay says:

    You’d think Facebook would have fingerprinted the RU IRA memes to automate their detection when recycled on new pages with huge audiences in the US but operated out of Ukraine. But no. @JuddLegum’s latest discovery is “troubling” leading up to 2020.— David Carroll 🦅 (@profcarroll) September 23, 2019

    Ukrainian troll sites recycling IRA bs.

  105. 105
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I’d not normally recommend watching the Chris Cuomo show on CNN, but he’s supposed to have Serhiy Leshchenko on, at, I think, 9:00 PM EDT.

  106. 106
    Kay says:


    Fuck him with his weasel deals and especially fuck him for making the offer to media, instead of to the public.

    They’re not the interested party. We are. I didn’t consent to them lowering the standard for Donald Trump.

  107. 107
    MCA1 says:

    @Raoul: Yeah, I know. His statement was the subject of a tweet Cheryl Rofer dropped in here that started this little subthread. I grew up in his District, so was glad to see it. My own congressperson, a longtime incumbent in a very safe District, came out in favor this summer, which was already frustratingly late, but better late than never, I guess.

  108. 108
    Jinchi says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I think Putin asked for him and Trump was ready to give him up, but I could be wrong on that.

    You’re not wrong. That was during the famous Helsinki conference (“I don’t see why it would be Russia”). The one at which Trump met privately with Putin and the confiscated the interpreter’s notes.

    Mueller wanted to interrogate the Russian agents behind election hacking and Putin offered an exchange:

    He would permit U.S. law enforcement officials to witness the Russian interrogation of 12 Russian spies accused by the United States of interfering in the 2016 campaign, if his own agents could observe the interrogation of a similar number of American intelligence officers who, Russia alleges, committed crimes on Russian soil.

    Putin wanted to interrogate me. Trump called it ‘an incredible offer.’ Why?

  109. 109
    Jay says:

    Pretending ingnorance,…

    Asked Josh Hawley if it’s okay for the president to ask a foreign government to help him win an election. “Is that what he did?” “He asked them for help with an election? Can you send me that?”— Arthur Delaney (@ArthurDelaneyHP) September 23, 2019

  110. 110
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    as the pushback by a Ukrainian government official in WaPo

    Serhiy Leshchenko is not currently a government official. He was, earlier, a Member of Parliament.

  111. 111
    Ken says:

    Excellent summary, but it must be remembered that the whistleblower report was a distraction from the emoluments lawsuit, which was a distraction from the falsification of weather service alerts, which was a distraction from the subpoena of tax records, which was a distraction from…

    Oh dear, we’re in a depth first search that may never bottom out, because every time you think you’ve reached the bottom Trump shows he can do lower.

  112. 112
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Part of Zelensky’s platform is to clean up corruption, so it’s natural that some people, like Shokin, will be booted out.

    Shokin was fired by Poroshenko, replaced by the only slightly-less-corrupt Lutsenko, whom Zelensky has now replaced.

  113. 113
    tomtofa says:

    Impeachment hearings could easily last until the next election – the Watergate hearings lasted 13 months. Done right (for instance a good counsel doing the questioning, hard-assed subpoena/contempt procedures to keep things on track) could yield a steady stream of newsworthy tidbits that you know would distract Trump. The Watergate hearings led to a decrease in Nixon’s and Republicans’ support; no reason to think hearings now would be different.

    When should they end? Shortly before the election, to shine a light on Senate Republicans when they dismiss the impeachment, or shortly after, leaving Trump to contemplate the criminal charges coming when he leaves office in a couple of months? Assuming he loses . . .

  114. 114
    Jay says:

    There are four mentions of the whistleblower / Ukraine story on Fox News' homepage.

    Two are solely about Joe Biden.

    One is about Hillary Clinton.

    None are about Trump.— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) September 23, 2019

    How the sausage gets made.

  115. 115
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I’m aware.

  116. 116
    Jeffro says:

    TIPPING POINT MOMENT: look which Dems signed onto this:

    If True, trump’s actions represent an impeachable offense

    I lit up just seeing Spanberger’s name there. Not my Congresswoman (district next door, sadly) but still!

    You’re gonna get it now, Donnie…

    If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.

  117. 117
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: That’s not really sausage.

  118. 118

    @Adam L Silverman: @Jinchi: Thanks. That Helsinki conference was something else. Donny came out of it looking like Putin had slapped him around or put something in his diet Coke.

  119. 119

    Looks like McFaul isn’t the only one Trump is willing to give up to dictators.

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  121. 121
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Fuck me, this Chris Cuomo is a moron.

  122. 122
    Jay says:

    At least 40 Afghan civilians were killed *at a wedding* by a military operation in which our government participated. FEEL LIKE THIS SHOULD BE A BIGGER STORY— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) September 23, 2019

    Over 70 civilliansvdead in two days. Just some of the crap Cheetolini’s turd funnel buries.

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  124. 124
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: That is HOLY FUCKING SHIT BAD!!!!!

  125. 125
    Jay says:

    if you're looking for a spooky display name for halloween "greta thunberg" seems to be scaring the shit out of conservatives— jordan (@JordanUhl) September 23, 2019

  126. 126
    Jay says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    And yet they still hump Cheetolinni’s leg, hard, every day.

  127. 127

    @Adam L Silverman: Yes. Embassies are supposed to protect American citizens.

  128. 128
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yes they are.

  129. 129
    Ken says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: @Adam L Silverman: I think you’re both forgetting the President’s inherent power to strip citizenship from any person, retroactively to whatever date is convenient. It’s in the Constitution somewhere, I’m sure, probably near the inherent power to rearrange the budget and spend funds not allocated by Congress.

  130. 130
    Jay says:

    Not at all surprising but wild, nonetheless!— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) September 23, 2019

  131. 131
    Ken says:

    @MCA1: Clearly the current administration has learned from the crimes of Watergate, and are meticulously repeating them. Complete with “it’s not the crime but the coverup” (except it’s both).

  132. 132
    Jinchi says:


    It’s in the Constitution somewhere

    No it isn’t.

    Only fringe rightwingers make that argument.

    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    14th Amendment, defining citizenship

  133. 133
  134. 134
    Jay says:

    BREAKING: State's Attorney Aramis Ayala just announced she will not prosecute either of the children arrested by Orlando police officer Dennis Turner on misdemeanor battery charges.— Rebecca J. Kavanagh (@DrRJKavanagh) September 23, 2019

  135. 135
    Jay says:


    It was snark, or meant to be,

    But who knows, it could be in that fake “pocket Constitution” wingers and Soverigns carry.

  136. 136
    Jinchi says:


    It was snark, or meant to be

    Hard to tell these days. It’s also literally what Trump has stated, repeatedly. And I wouldn’t put it past Barr to try to push the argument.

  137. 137
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Jinchi: Check the batteries in your sarcasmometer.

  138. 138
    Jinchi says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Burned out at this point.

  139. 139
    Jay says:

    At a right-wing, racist rally led by @hikinddov, a Jewish counter protester was attacked by demonstrators and aggressively pushed out by police because he shouted “The answer is not scapegoating black people”— Molly Crabapple🇵🇷 (@mollycrabapple) September 22, 2019

  140. 140
    Jay says:


    I can sell you a new one, powered by anger, no need for batteries, from my Amazon site, for $24.99 plus shipping.

  141. 141
    Jay says:

    In just a short while we will visit with our daughter #RealityWinner at the prison. It tears me down to see her in that place. I cant believe she is serving over 5 yrs in prison for an act to warn & protect our country. It just doesn't make sense. Say her name today. Please.— Billie J. Winner-Davis (@bjwinnerdavis) September 21, 2019

  142. 142
    Ken says:

    @Jinchi: My fault for forgetting the sarcasm font which is ironic since I introduced it to BJ. I hope the new site supports it.

  143. 143
    J R in WV says:

    So while eating frozen pizza for dinner, we watched Rachael Maddow’s show. She had, after a long discussion of Paulie Manafort’s Ukranian work, a newly elected House member, former Commander in the USN, elected from a district that includes Virginia Beach and the navy yards at Norfolk and Newport News.

    She was on the Maddow show because she and 6 other new members of the House wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in favor of the House moving forward with Impeachment, because this latest news is what they swore an oath to protect the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic.

    So… maybe the dam is broken now? I hope they don’t actually vote in the House as a whole until late next summer!

  144. 144
    Elizabelle says:

    @J R in WV: That would be Elaine Luria of Virginia Beach. Great to hear about the op ed. Gonna hunt for it now.

  145. 145
  146. 146

    I’m seeing a lot of Democratic Representatives on Twitter coming out for impeachment. Nobody’s going to want to be the last, so this process is likely to speed up.

    There is a Democratic caucus meeting tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm Eastern time. If you want to check on your representative, this is a good way to do it. But that site hasn’t been fully updated yet – there are a lot more than 136 who have declared now.

  147. 147
    Jay says:

    Glad to see that @Chef has decided not to renew its contracts with our immigration gestapo. They've also committed to donating the value of those contracts to immigration justice groups.I hope the first group they look at is— (((Tae Phoenix))) (@TaePhoenix) September 23, 2019

    To sum up, Programmer pulled his owned code from @Chef that was their core, over not supporting Nazis, on Friday,

    CEO published a non-apology on Saturday and got ratioed for supporting Nazis,

    Monday, @Chef will no longer Nazi with Nazis and will donate to immigrant and refugee support orgs.

  148. 148
    Jay says:

    What’s that you say? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sonic boom Elizabeth Warren just made as she rocketed past Biden and Sanders.— (((Tae Phoenix))) (@TaePhoenix) September 23, 2019

  149. 149
    Hkedi [Kang T. Q.] says:

    @Jinchi: Poe’s Law in action….

  150. 150
    Z says:

    Someone with the whistleblower report should send it to wikileaks and then to all the other free speech orgs and journalists that are weirdly skeptical of Russian propaganda playing a role in Western elections in order until someone posts it… and, following that, leak a list of all orgs/people that didn’t publish the report. Kill a few birds with one stone by revealing who’s just a propaganda outfit at the same time.

  151. 151
    John Solomon says:

    April 2019: Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

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