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?
Trump Crime Cartel
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.
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.
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.
If anything comes out of this impeachment, I hope it is the end of this idiot.
Donald Trump hit a new record for tweets yesterday – something like 130. Let’s help him beat that record!
Another long day. Let’s see if the President’s defense can come up with anything beyond lies and talking points.
We’re less than a year to inaugurating a Democratic President. But for now, the impeachment trial.
Apparently, and regrettably, David Lee Roth has started a residency at Las Vegas, and for some absurd amount of money, you too can witness the spectacle of an elderly man in ill fitting clothes and obvious frontal lobe damage stiffly strutting around stage. I suppose that yes, it is still David Lee Roth, but it’s not the David Lee Roth you remember or want to remember. It’s an obscene caricature of David Lee Roth- long in the tooth, without voice or authority, cheapened by wear and tear and misuse, and ready to collapse at any moment. It’s enough to make you wonder if it was always this bad as you unfortunately glimpse his sagging ass betrayed by skin tight attire that should, at the very least, provide the bare minimum of architectural support.
It does not.
That’s basically how I feel about the state of our democracy heading into the impeachment. I spent a little bit of time watching the news shows this weekend- only a little, as I, too, am aging, and life is too short for this shit. I watched people on my tv put on their serious voices as they explain what a big and momentous deal this is- “JUST THE THIRD TIME IN HISTORY,” you know! The gravity of the situation never takes hold, though, because I remember the same serious voices talking about Hillary’s emails, or how Obama really screwed up by saying it was wrong for Henry Louis Gates to get fucked with by cops on his own god damned couch, or how the tea party really cared about the deficit or Iraq really did have WMD. It’s all a fucking show that no one wants to go to, we all know the ending, and we’re not going to get our money’s worth.
Donald Trump has been impeached. He did everything and more for which he was impeached. Everyone knows he is guilty, even his most ardent supporters in the jury pool, there will be a show trial, and he will be acquitted. And then Republicans will get back to the very serious business of rigging elections, pitting Americans against each other, wiping up what remains of our institutions and packing the courts, and the always popular looting of the treasury.
This is not to say Democrats will not try. I am sure they will. They will fight, they will make a clear case, they will plead for sanity from clearly insane and evil people like Susan Collins, and then they will lose. We can applaud them for their attempt to do the right thing, but it is important to remember the one thing that no one seems to care about when shouting “Remember the Alamo!” The good guys lost and all got killed.
When it is all over with, the serious voices on your tv will tell you what to think, and we’ll head into another election where we can focus on important issues like “Does Elizabeth Warren have native American blood” and “what they are really saying over corned beef hash in a former Kentucky mining town.” We’ll soon get distracted by something shiny, and meanwhile our hobbled democracy will pick up the microphone and start half singing:
“Oh, baby baby
Won’t-cha turn your head my way?”
Chris Collins, former Congressman from NY-27, first Member of Congress to endorse Trump, and former resident of Buffalo, NY, will soon be a residing in a prison in Pensacola, FL for 26 months. Collins was sentenced this afternoon for insider trading.
I followed Collins’ sentencing via a reporter in the courtroom on Twitter. The excuse making by his lawyer was pathetic. For example, he complained that the government revealed the address of Collins’ wife, but a few minutes later, a weeping Collins revealed all the names of his grandchildren. The judge later ruled that their names be struck from the record.
In the pre-sentencing letters, one attorney from Buffalo pointed out that when Collins was Erie County Executive, he decreed that worker’s compensation recipients would have to pick up their checks in person at the county courthouse, instead of having them mailed or deposited electronically. At the courthouse, these recipients would be interrogated to see why they couldn’t do light work. The lawyer represented a man from Batavia – 30 miles from Buffalo – who had seven surgeries and obviously couldn’t come to Buffalo to get his check. The state worker’s comp board reversed Collins’ policy in a 12-0 vote, but the whole incident gives you an inkling of the quality of mercy that Collins was willing to provide to others: none and fuck them.
So, in a little bit of justice, Collins had to stand in front of a judge today, sobbing, begging for sympathy, and regretting that he ruined his son’s life by giving him insider information the son used. (His son is going to be sentenced for that next week). Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the rest of us, in this case, the judge wasn’t sympathetic.