Ah, The Evening News Dump

This morning, Donald Trump said that it would be fine with him if China investigated Joe Biden, thereby confirming that he wants other countries, including the authoritarian ones, to do his dirt-digging for him.

Lo and behold tonight!

Trump raised Biden with Xi in June call housed in highly secure server. That was back in June. Also Elizabeth Warren. Trump isn’t taking any chances. Speaking of her, he also doubled down on his “Pocahontas” attack and said he would have to “hit her again.”

Also, a conversation has surfaced between Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland from July about a statement Sondland drafted for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to sign saying that Ukraine would investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. The conversation ends with an admonition that text message may not be the best medium for it.

And, no surprise, Trump ordered Marie Yovanovich removed as Ambassador to Ukraine because she wouldn’t play along with his games. But now what we suspected is confirmed.

Sometimes it’s just hard to write about this stuff. It’s painful that the President of the United States is doing stuff like this. Even Chuck Todd is feeling it.

Open thread!

 








Bad To Worse Open Thread

A missive from our President:

Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way. Then Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress……

His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason…..

In addition, I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the “Whistleblower.” Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!

And

These Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, are doing great harm to our Country. They are lying & cheating like never before in our Country’s history in order to destabilize the United States of America & it’s upcoming 2020 Election. They & the Fake News Media are Dangerous & Bad!

James Risen overheard Jay Sekulow, the President’s personal lawyer who probably will have to be Rudy’s cleanup brigade, in a green room. They’ve lost control of the narrative, and they’re frightened.

“I’m going on CBS at 8,” he said. “I’m going to see the president at 10. We’ve got to get on top of this thing. I think we can, but we have got to get on top of this.”

A moment or two later, Sekulow added: “He’s going all around town, stirring things up. It’s not helpful.”

A political science professor at UMass Amherst:








Thursday Morning Open Thread: Today’s Magic Number


 
Meanwhile, Individual-1 remains Murphy the Trickster God’s gift to political cartoonists…

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Read more








The Whistleblower Plays Hardball

The law firm representing the whistleblower has put up a website. That website now contains

September 24, 2019 statement from the intelligence community whistleblower legal team

September 24, 2019, Letter from Andrew P. Bakaj, Attorney for Intelligence Community Whistleblower to Acting Director of National Intelligence

September 24, 2019, Letter from DNI OGC to Andrew P. Bakaj, Attorney for Intelligence Community Whistleblower

Presumably they will update as more documents are generated.

The story in these three documents:

We support the bi-partisan, unanimous resolution passed by the Senate regarding our client’s lawful whistleblower complaint and call upon the Acting Director of National Intelligence to transmit the complete disclosure to the two Intelligence Oversight Committees.

The letter to the DNI states that the whistleblower intends to contact the Congressional committees directly and asks for the guidance prescribed by law from the DNI.

The DNI’s letter, signed by the Office’s General Counsel, leans on the previously-stated fact that the complaint includes potentially privileged communications with people outside the Intelligence Community to delay thing. They are consulting with other government agencies.

And this just came across my Twitter feed.

To be continued.

Open thread. [Regrets to Watergirl – I have added a new category.]

 








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.”