Smilin’ Gordon Sondland’s mass execution of the upper echelons of the Trump Administration was just interrupted by a potty break, so here’s a thread for when they get back. As Nunes predicted in his opener, Sondland is going to get smeared today, but I don’t think he meant it the way it’s going to happen.
Breaking news from CNN:
Washington (CNN) The House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Donald Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House’s general counsel said in federal court Monday.
“Did the President lie? Was the President not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?” House general counsel Douglas Letter told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit about why the House now needs access to grand jury material Mueller collected in his investigation.
As we know, it’s all the same story, really. The Ukraine scandal is an outgrowth of the earlier Russia scandal. It had three goals: 1) soothe Trump’s ego for needing a Putin booster seat to win in 2016, 2) justify rolling back sanctions on Trump’s benefactor, and 3) tee up interference in the 2020 election.
There will be anxious speculation on whether bringing any question from the Mueller probe into the current impeachment inquiry risks “complicating the narrative.” I think any risks are outweighed by the benefit of establishing that Trump’s eagerness to accept foreign help, lies and obstruction are an ongoing danger.
Another possible implication: What if the impeachment inquiry and subsequent trial in the Senate are protracted enough to start affecting Democratic primary campaigns? Pelosi said yesterday that the inquiry might stretch into next year. McConnell will use every perverse trick in the book to keep the several senators who are running off the campaign trail, if he thinks that would help Republicans.
If it looks like we’re heading that way, what should Democrats do? Folks without senate jobs would have Iowa all to themselves, which isn’t a level playing field. Maybe Tom Perez could make it clear the party frowns on non-senatorial Democrats taking advantage of their primary opponents’ absence? (Yeah, that’s gonna happen.)
What say you?
CNN’s Manu Raju obtained the opening statement of David Holmes in his deposition before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence this afternoon. He is the career foreign service officer assigned as the Political Officer at US Embassy Kyiv. He also read the statement on air. Holmes works for Ambassador Taylor, the Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, who testified yesterday that Holmes and one of his other foreign service officers had overhead an unsecured phone call on 26 July between US Ambassador to the EU Sondland and the President at a restaurant in Ukraine. This call took place the day after the President’s call with President Zelensky of Ukraine where the President tried to extort him Zelensky into interfering in the 2020 election.
The call that Holmes overhead WAS NOT on speaker phone. Rather, the President was so loud that he could hear him through Ambassador Sondland’s ear piece. It is important to note here, that US government issued unclassified smartphones for official use have the bluetooth deactivated as it is considered insecure. If you’re issued a US government smartphone, you get a wired earpiece as part of the equipment package. We already know that the President was speaking on his own unsecured cell phone at the White House, but Raju’s reporting of Holmes’ opening statement seems to indicate that Sondland was also using his own personal cell phone to conduct official business. Or what he and the President considered official business, but is really a crime, as well as a High Crime and Misdemeanor. We now have an eyewitness (earwitness?) to these events, which won’t actually tamp down the President’s, his surrogates’, and his supporters’ complaints even though it should, because those complaints aren’t being made in good faith.
I obtained a copy of David Holmes' opening statement, saying that he heard Trump telling Gordon Sondland: "So, he's gonna do the investigation?" Sondland tells Trump: "He's gonna do it" and that Zelensky will do "anything you ask for." pic.twitter.com/24RgVCvzoy
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 15, 2019
His “phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 15, 2019
Here’s the 10-page statement: https://t.co/HnkBJB821s
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 15, 2019
Bolton indicated at the meeting that the lifting of the aid would hang on whether Zelensky was able to "favorably impress" Trump, when they were scheduled to meet in Warsaw in September. https://t.co/cQ0E9L8Qtx
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 16, 2019
I’m uploading a copy of Holmes’ opening statement here.
Mr. Holmes deposition is not particularly good for either the President or Ambassador Sondland who, it appears, will likely need to revise his testimony again.
Trump responded “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?”
“Sondland; “He’s gonna do it."
— Mike Warren (@MichaelRWarren) November 15, 2019
It is now corroborated and very bad for the president https://t.co/x1TpBlHGZL
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) November 15, 2019
A source familiar with WH discussions said aides to the president are not happy that Sondland apparently shared his call with Trump with others: “the president speaks loudly. Sondland should know that.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 16, 2019
Mr. Holmes is now scheduled to testify in open session next week. Tomorrow, Mark Sandy a senior career official at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be deposed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ahead of what will surely be scheduled public testimony next week. Mr. Sandy was directly involved in the criminal orders that Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney gave that forced OMB to hold up the congressionally appropriated and mandated aid to Ukraine.
Read more: A top official at the Office of Management and Budget indicated he is willing to testify in the House impeachment inquiry, his attorney said. https://t.co/84WLRDMCeA
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 15, 2019
There is a second foreign service officer assigned to Embassy Kyiv, Suriya Jayanti, who overhead the unsecured phone call between Ambassador Sondland and the President on 26 July 2019. I haven’t seen any reporting yet as to whether she will be deposed by HPSCI.
The President’s very bad week is about to become an even worse weekend. Information from tomorrow’s depositions, for instance Mr. Sandy’s opening statement, will be released and picked over just in time for the Sunday news shows. The worst thing that could happen to the President has happened: he has lost control of the news cycle. He is unable, at least for now, to program it. And it is going to freak him out, enrage him, and drive him to commit even more self-destructive acts.
We should all hope that these self-destructive acts are limited to the political and the personal. It is going to be a long, bumpy weekend. So strap in, stay frosty, and keep your heads on a swivel!
We are off the looking glass and through the map!
Since it looks like time for another thread, here are a few things I noticed watching a good part of the hearings today.
First, is there an Occam’s Razor for goobers? Maybe Gomer’s Butter Knife? Because the Republican Committee Counsel is a real fucking goober, asking pointless questions and running himself into corners like a haywire Roomba. So, either he’s an idiot, or he was on some kind of leash. I think Gomer’s Butter Knife would dictate that the answer is both: he’s not that smart (because a smart person wouldn’t want the job) and morons like Nunez have him on a leash.
Second, “moderate” Elise Stefanik, from my great state (NY-21), was definitely walking the tightrope. First, she participated in a dumb fucking stunt that anyone with a brain could tell was for the consumption of Fox News:
Then, she went out of her way to laud Yovanovich with praise, and finished her precious time by reading some horseshit about the whistle blower into the record. Look, I’m loyal but reasonable! Don’t primary me!
Stefanik has been elected three times in a R+4 district by at least 10 point margins. It’s a tough district for Democrats: it has Fort Drum and the Adirondacks, which are both fairly conservative places, yet it has had a Democrat (Bill Owens) get elected there three times (first in a special when Obama appointed John McHugh to be Secretary of the Army, then twice in the general). I don’t think her 2020 race will be as easy as her last three.
What are your thoughts?
Update: Here’s a link to donate to Tedra Cobb, Stefanik’s Democratic opponent in NY-21.
Here’s a nice, clean new post for when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence comes back in to session after the scheduled morning votes in the House to resume hearing the testimony of Ambassador Yovanovitch.
Here’s the live feed:
The second day of the House impeachment hearings is scheduled to get started at 9:00 AM EST. Expect more of what we observed on Wednesday. The Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence focused on fact finding through Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony while the Republicans attempt to use the hearing as an information laundry to promote the conspiracy theories and agitprop that they want people to believe exonerates the President.
Update at 9:10 AM EST
News broke late last night that one of the senior career civil servants at the Office of Management and Budget assigned to the White House with firsthand information of the illegal orders to hold up the congressionally mandated and appropriated aid for Ukraine will give a closed door deposition if subpoenaed. We now know the officials name, that he has been subpoenaed, and that he’ll likely sit for that deposition tomorrow.
Mark Sandy, a senior White House budget official, is prepared to testify Saturday to House impeachment investigators about the halt in Ukrainian aid moneyhttps://t.co/dzwopQIOxM
— POLITICO (@politico) November 15, 2019
The President is going to have a very, very, very, very bad weekend. As is Mick Mulvaney. And several others.
Here’s the live feed:
¡Buenas noches, Juicers! Yeah, I was going to start things off with my usual elan and graciousness, but due to circumstances where I really wish I could slap the stupid out of people’s genes, I’m going to commence with rant and we’ll do the formal howdy doody and cat pics the minute we get images to work on the blog? Ok? Good talk, glad we’re on the same page.
Lo, the ultrafuckery. And it’s not even CNN?! I can’t tell if I’m marveling at CNN not delving into this level of commentary or disappointed at NBC News for grabbing a shovel and digging right to the Marianas Trench level of analysis. Deep Stupid, indeed.
Whenever I’ve said I was against impeachment, even to the point of don’t discuss impeach club, the media was why. We don’t have great journalism. We never had universally great journalism, but we had a standard that managed to keep mostly on target. Regular old journalism is boring statement of facts. Some obvious, some not, & some you have hunt them down because they’re hella elusive. Instead, we have a packs of styrofoam peanuts shoved into Hugo Boss suits always looking for a hot mic. The American press is always looking for the highest highs, the flashiest story. Much like watching McG’s cinematic oeuvere, they think everything should be the noisiest, most explosive drama, no matter how serious the issue is. When our media behaves like this, no wonder we’re pretty far gone into fascism. I can’t see a future where we survive this mess and the press stays the same. I’ve watched it locally and seen how it mirrors the national media. Reporters, pundits, analysts – they want flash & smoke. What they don’t get is that this teaches people who need to be told about the facts, that the issues aren’t really that important. …
It’s a good profession, journalism. Pity so few are actually working in it.
Maybe somewhere, a batch of good journos are trying to do something about this mess bourne of 24/7 news channels and the idea that news should be as glitzy as tv show. I bid them good luck. And I chuck a hefty twitter brick at this media analysis about impeachment hearings needing PIZZAZZ.
Dems shouldn’t be required to put on a carnival for members of the 4th estate to do their duty on reporting cleanly, smartly and accurately so we have an informed citizenry.
alright, I’m trying to finish 3 pages today, back to work.