Today is the first of two question days. The Democrats are said to have been collecting questions to eliminate duplicates and organize them into topics. What’s your question? Will it be asked?
In the “Lumpy rug” thread below, valued commenter Sab pointed out that one reason GOP senators are so reluctant to hear from John Bolton and other witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial is that they’ve got their own dirt to conceal. Right on cue, The Tampa Bay Times published a story about a conversation Trump had with Lev Parnas about Florida Senator Rick Scott.
The story is based on the 80-plus minute recording where Trump was heard making a thuggish-sounding order to “take out” a U.S. ambassador. At the same event, Trump also talked to Parnas about then-Governor Rick Scott, who was running against a long-time incumbent Democrat for the senate seat:
About halfway through the recording, Parnas mentioned he lived in Florida, prompting Trump to ask how Scott, then Florida’s governor, was faring in his U.S. Senate campaign.
“Rick Scott’s good,” said Parnas, who was indicted in October on charges that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, steered hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from foreign donors. Both are now key figures in Trump’s impeachment proceedings.
“Is he going to win?” Trump asks.
Parnas responded: “It’s going to be close, but I think we’re going to pull it out.”
He repeatedly referred to Scott’s election effort as “we,” suggesting an intimacy or involvement with the campaign. Parnas also told Trump: “We’re doing a fundraiser” for Scott in May and mentioned having lunch with former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, now one of Trump’s impeachment defense lawyers.
The article reviews the federal indictment of Parnas and fellow Giuliani-adjacent goon Fruman for illegally dropping hundreds of thousands of foreign-sourced dollars on Republican candidates. It recounts how the pair also contributed heavily as individuals and through their company to Scott and the current GOP governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
Coincidentally, DeSantis also had “no recollection” of meeting Parnas when the feds scooped Rudy’s pals up. DeSantis donated the funds he received from the pair to charity, as did Scott in the wake of the indictment. The article notes recent WSJ reporting that indicates Parnas turned over texts between himself and DeSantis to the House Democrats. I mean, who among us hasn’t carried on text conversations with complete strangers, right?
Meanwhile, Parnas’s attorney, Joseph Bondy, is tweeting out photos of his client with various GOP bigwigs and encouraging Republican senators to vote for witnesses and a fair trial. Here’s one from this morning:
— Joseph A. Bondy (@josephabondy) January 28, 2020
Parnas, the Forrest Gump of Republican corruption, seems to have a lot of receipts. So yeah, good point, Sab. Any guesses on which Republican will get the next attack of amnesia?
Let’s see what kind of lies and smears the Republicans can come up with today. And whether they take note of John Bolton’s book. The commentary from lawyers yesterday on my Twitter feed was that a good lawyer incorporates new material into their argument. Once again, I probably won’t be watching most of it.
As the Ukraine scandal was blowing up a while back, Kay pointed out that given Trump’s well-documented greed and corruption, we can be certain he abused his power for personal gain in interactions with other countries besides Ukraine. She suggested the exposure of Trump’s malfeasance in Ukraine is lifting just “one corner of a very lumpy rug.”
The Times got its mitts on further excerpts of Bolton’s book, which lifts other corners and implicates AG William Barr:
WASHINGTON — John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, privately told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.
Mr. Barr responded by pointing to a pair of Justice Department investigations of companies in those countries and said he was worried that Mr. Trump had created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries, according to the manuscript. Backing up his point, Mr. Barr mentioned conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Xi Jinping of China.
Mr. Bolton’s account underscores the fact that the unease about Mr. Trump’s seeming embrace of authoritarian leaders, long expressed by experts and his opponents, also existed among some of the senior cabinet officers entrusted by the president to carry out his foreign policy and national security agendas.
Barr’s spokeswoman denied the conversation ever happened and accused Bolton of projecting his own views onto Barr. Why did Bolton go to Barr in the first place? Was it not obvious to him Barr is up to his neck in Trump’s fuckery? Maybe it’s harder for wingnuts to accept that Barr is a corrupt Trump flunky with his own agenda because he’s been a DC fixture for so long?
You’d think the cautionary tale Bolton sees in the mirror while trimming his iconic mustache would be a clue, but oh well. Or maybe this is Bolton’s opening salvo in a bid to discredit Barr with fellow Republicans should the entire Trump scam collapse? If so, I wish him godspeed, the warmongering shit-stain.
Anyhoo, The Times article cites Bolton’s earlier allegation (in a private speech) that Trump’s eagerness to curry favor with Turkish President Erdoğan by torpedoing an investigation into a Turkish bank is related to Trump’s business interests in the region. (The investigation was restarted when the corrupt move to quash it attracted unwanted attention — shades of the aid release in Ukraine!)
Bolton also alleges that Trump gushes over China’s President Xi and relaxed sanctions on a Chinese telecom over Republican and national security agency objections because Trump required Xi’s assistance after painting himself into a corner with the trade war.
Outside Bolton’s claim that he raised concerns with Barr, this isn’t new information — the bank investigation and telecom sanctions removal always looked fishy as hell. And Trump’s gonna Trump, so I’m confident any investigation into Trump’s behavior in any interaction with a foreign or domestic entity, including a Girl Scout cookie sale, would reveal a cesspool of self-dealing and fraud.
But it’s good that the topics have been reintroduced in the middle of the impeachment trial, if only to remind the Republican senators currently engaged in a massive cover-up of just how lumpy the rug they’re standing on is — and how quickly it could be snatched out from under them.
The biggest troll Nancy Pelosi could pull rn is to wander in front of a lot of cameras and wonder why Trump’s closest aides don’t want to defend the president in the Senate
“With the president under attack, they’re choosing to remain silent? You’d think they’d be more loyal.”
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) January 27, 2020
Fun reminder that the State of the Union is a week from tomorrow. If the Senate does call witnesses, which is far more likely than it was just 24 hours ago, this means that the trial will likely extend into next week.
— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) January 27, 2020
Being in the middle of a drawn out fight to prevent witnesses would make for a real fun State of the Union. https://t.co/M4DpkM26AD
— Schooley (@Rschooley) January 27, 2020
Who will invite John Bolton to be their guest at the State of the Union?
— Schooley (@Rschooley) January 27, 2020
Pity the poor GOP Senate caucus, upset that they were caught off guard by the news cycle about Bolton’s book rather than, you know, the damning facts contained in Bolton’s book. https://t.co/KtvjpVVob2
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) January 27, 2020
As one does when someone might spill how innocent they are. https://t.co/MQJEcL0eLD
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) January 28, 2020
I love the Hunter Biden stuff because it’s rare to have such a clear tell of bad faith. The second someone mentions him you don’t need to take them seriously. The goddamn president of the USA was impeached for deadly serious abuses. But Hunter! And they know just how lame it is. https://t.co/MM7ER7eRgp
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) January 28, 2020
these dopes are the only ones surprised the White House ever saw them as anything more than completely expendable human shields https://t.co/WAcmbbNWoF
— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 27, 2020
Trump didn't do the thing he's accused of doing, but if he did it was fine, and in fact that's exactly what he did, get over it, because it's not only fine, it's precisely what we want from a president, and can you believe that Biden did the same thing, shame on him.
— Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) January 27, 2020
GOP Senators need to talk to some of the Trump organization’s contractors to understand their role in his story.
— Schooley (@Rschooley) January 28, 2020
I haven’t had much to say about the complete shitshow that is the Senate impeachment trial because I really have nothing to add and I am aware that my abject cynicism regarding what I consider the inevitable outcome of this farce is offputting to others, but the whole thing is just fucking ridiculous. The House Impeachment Managers presented a clear a case for the removal of Trump as was possible given the “rules” of the trial set by that fucking traitor Mitch McConnell, and everything else is a sad fucking joke on the rest of us, from the Senators being unable to stay in their god damned seats to the oh fuck it why bother, you’re watching the same god damned thing.
When I was a young man, growing up in a college town, I spent a great deal of time at the college radio station. I got my FCC license when I was 14 back when that was a thing, and I had my own shows with my own time slots but I also spent a great deal of time serving as the engineer for the Monday Night Oldies show and for the Ashborne Hour (which was actually three hours) on Tuesday nights playing classical music. This was back when everything wasn’t automated and you actually had turntables and otari reel-to-reels, and my purpose was to control the show while the two older gentleman who hosted the shows chose the music and did the talking.
The fellow who did the Monday Night Oldies show was a fellow named John Graham, and he was kind of a big deal in the Pittsburgh Music scene (I’m friends with his son and still am, and his wife just died two weeks ago), and he loved to take me to the old reunion tours of 50’s music stars. So I got to go to a lot of those old reunion tour shows you see being played at sad venues that usually accompany a complimentary dinner of swiss steak and lots of mashed potatoes. At any rate, I saw a lot of the old last hurrah tours of people like Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, etc. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was precisely the kind of music that a 16 year old stoned deadhead would have as his first choice for entertainment, but, you know, it is experiences like that that made me who I am today.
Why am I telling you this? Because that is what the Trump defense reminds me of- the last hurrah tour of old white douchebags from the 80’s and 90’s gathered together for one last rendition of Blue Moon or Pennies from Heaven or Frankie Valli’s greatest hits (he is STILL alive, fwiw). You’ve got panty-sniffing serial leaker Ken Starr, who graduated from the Clinton trial to covering up sex crimes at Baylor, you’ve got serial predator and Martha’s Vineyard outcast Alan Dershowitz, perennial lunatic Jay Sekulow, and a cadre of other shitstains and ne’er do wells stinking up the joint and collectively making the American people dumber.
Imagine a murder trial where the prosecution is not allowed to introduce forensic evidence, talk to the witnesses, interview the police, examine the murder weapon or the autopsy report, followed by three days of the defense screaming “the prosecution provided no evidence.” Meanwhile the accused is sitting in his chair screaming that he is going to do the same thing to the prosecutor that he did to the victim and threatening the jury pool, and no one seems to notice or care. There’s the Trump impeachment in a nutshell.
The Bolton book apparently has some of the Senators slightly freaked out about just how fucking bad history is going to judge them, so now they are baking up some half-cooked idea that will get lots of media time but never come to fruition:
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), an influential conservative in the Senate, has spoken with several colleagues in recent days about possibly summoning just two witnesses to President Trump’s impeachment trial, with one called by Republicans and one by Democrats, according to three Republican officials.
Toomey has confided to GOP senators that proposing a “one-for-one” deal with Senate Democrats may be necessary at some point, particularly with pressure mounting for witnesses to be called, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. He has argued that such an arrangement could force Democrats to accept a Republican witness against their wishes or else risk having Republicans move ahead to acquit Trump, the officials said.
Toomey has spoken about his idea with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and others, the officials added.
Why does there need to be a one for one? Are we this obeisant to the God of both sides that we need to “balance out” the witnesses? Why not just bring the witnesses who have something relevant to say, and if they don’t, well, don’t bring them. If that means the prosecution has 10, and the defense has only two, or vice versa, so be it.
But you know the answer, don’t you? BECAUSE HE’S FUCKING GUILTY, that’s why.
I think Mike should quit. Not because he hurt my liberal fee-fees or whatever, but because he very clearly does not like his job because his job is not what he wants it to be.
Mike wants to be a character in a Tom Clancy novel, not a bureaucrat or a diplomat.
— Starfish Who Gave Up And Started Duckposting (@IRHotTakes) January 25, 2020
Secretary Pompeo had a cunning plan, aimed at an audience of one: He would summon this little reporter girl, berate her on air, expose her as a whining liberal snowflake, and shore up his crumbling credentials with The Big Guy in the Oval Office!
Tragically, NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly refused to play her assigned role in Pompeo’s dumbshow. And not only did she pants him in the media, but the more he tries to insist that he was in no way pantsed, the more other media co-conspirators snark, Nice boxers, Secretary Pompous!
UPDATE: NYT obtained emails between @NPRKelly & press aide to @SecPompeo — Kelly said explicitly the day before the interview that she would ask about Iran & Ukraine. And: "I never agree to take anything off the table.” Pompeo’s attack on her was baseless. https://t.co/9nyH1FOzAl
— Edward Wong (@ewong) January 26, 2020
Multiple State Department officials reached out to me after this unprompted with their reactions to this. One senior US diplomat says: “This is just embarrassing” https://t.co/prMpeeIcHj
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) January 25, 2020
Not that @NPRKelly needs a character reference, but this one is pretty strong. Too bad @SecPompeo will never see someone like this defend his character, but life is about choices. https://t.co/V1CQ9d6xoW
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) January 25, 2020
Yep. As @Kasparov63 warned a few years ago, the circle around an autocrat inevitably becomes increasingly nepotistic and incompetent as loyalty is the only requirement that matters. https://t.co/5uWECvZnDn
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) January 25, 2020
Jay Sekulow up. He seems to be the ringmaster for all the President’s lawyers. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this.
Two rescued baby bats
(Photo: Jurgen Freund Photography) pic.twitter.com/DOsR672tkk
— 41 Strange (@41Strange) January 24, 2020
Something about those faces… the bright-eyed curiosity on the left, the blissful superiority on the right…
You left off “to convict” https://t.co/d7Wgu7wjCT
— Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) January 27, 2020
press still buying GOP narrative that half the country wanting a sitting president removed from office for first time in US history is a ho-hum story https://t.co/C9qBJGCKWW
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) January 27, 2020
Iowa caucus-goers want a candidate who is both:
1. “more moderate than most Democrats”
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) January 25, 2020
Iowa caucus-goers want a candidate who’ll offer them a bag of magic beans. But they must be artisanal, free-range, responsibly-sourced magic beans!
On Feb. 3, Dems will caucus in Iowa, obsessed over who can beat Trump. On Feb. 4, the response to Trump's State of the Union will be from a suburban white moderate woman who won Michigan (@GovWhitmer) and a Latina who won Beto O'Rourke's old House seat on the border (@RepEscobar)
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) January 24, 2020
Republicans won the House popular vote by 1.1% in 2016. Democrats won it by 8.6% in 2018. The underlying fundamentals in 2020 are going to be different than they were in 2016. That's a 9.7% swing. Democratic primary voters should vote out of optimism, not out of fear.
— Dean Steitz (@theminorchords) January 26, 2020
Mandatory Bolton content:
The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt in particular, have gotten hold of a copy of John Bolton’s book. I am seeing reports on Twitter to expect a Washington Post story in which Bolton and his publisher deny making that book available. What. Ever.
As far as the overall story goes, there is nothing new. Trump was extorting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelinsky to manufacture dirt on Biden and perhaps other candidates. What is new is that he said exactly that to Bolton. And Mike Pompeo knew about the campaign to remove Marie Yovanovich, and so did Mick Mulvaney. I am not surprised about any of this.
Bolton has been holding all this back to make a buck on his book. Great patriot there.
The reaction on Twitter is that now the Senate will have to call witnesses, this changes everything, yatta yatta. Seems to me the story has been clear all along, and the Republicans have managed to stick together in crime. This is just words. There’s something much worse they’re hiding, and the longer they hide it, the more essential it is to continue. Not a single one has any sense of country.
After Adam Schiff’s magnificent summation last night, let’s see what the Republicans have to offer.
Here’s the end of Rep. Schiff’s brilliant closing remarks from last night’s impeachment trial:
At around the same time Schiff was reminding senators of their duty to protect this nation, Donald Trump pinned this bizarre, nonsensical picture to the top of his Twitter feed:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
Our politics are cynical and debased and vicious and stupid. Otherwise, a crude, petty, demented crook like Trump would not be president. But as awful as things are, Americans like Adam Schiff are still rising to the occasion. As long as they do, there’s hope for better days.
Schiff’s entire 8-minute summary is here and well worth a listen if you missed it last night.
PS: Don’t forget to call your senators, especially if they’re Republicans: (202) 224-3121.
If anything comes out of this impeachment, I hope it is the end of this idiot.
Here’s the stuff I’ve looked forward to the most: House Manager Schiff rubbing the assembled Republican senators’ noses in Trump and Giuliani’s Ukraine/DNC/Soros crackpottery:
Schiff: "Rudy Giuliani is not some Svengali here, who has the president under his control…And if [Trump] is willing to listen to his personal lawyer over his own intelligence agencies, his own advisers, then you can imagine what a danger that presents." https://t.co/7CO9n4TTiG pic.twitter.com/aqIdAdC5EB
— ABC News (@ABC) January 23, 2020
I think Trump sincerely believes this bullshit since he’s dumb and aggrieved and he admires Putin. The Ukraine conspiracy theory is therefore irresistible since it suggests that Trump did TOO win fair and square without a boost from Putin and conveniently exculpates the latter so maybe they can hang out and swap tales of crushing underlings and bond over their shared impulse to aggressively bend scowling women to their iron will or whatever.
Giuliani may be a believer too, or perhaps he merely sensed the massive opportunities for graft in the Ukraine shakedown scheme. Regardless, most Senate Republicans know it’s all a load of bullshit. So the least they can do is sit there and squirm through every agonizing and embarrassing account of how Russia-driven propaganda informs U.S. foreign policy thanks to their party’s idiot president.
Donald Trump hit a new record for tweets yesterday – something like 130. Let’s help him beat that record!