Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Throwback Tuesday:

Brief enough for Donny Dollhands to… well, have someone read to him:

… The four-page document divides the narrative into three categories: the “shakedown,” “the pressure campaign” and “the cover up.”

The document first cites the rough transcript released by the White House last month of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that call, Trump told Zelensky that he would have his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr reach out to “get to the bottom” of “a lot of talk” about the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

The fact sheet then cites text messages that former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker provided to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry that show discussion between diplomats about the Trump administration’s efforts to push for the investigation as evidence of a “pressure campaign.”…

The document from Pelosi then concludes that the intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry details evidence of a “cover up” by White House officials to “lock down” records of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky by transferring the transcript to a separate electronic system used to handle particularly sensitive classified information…








The Doral Debacle Open Thread: “He’s in the Hospitality Business!”

So Mick Mulvaney told us. And Trump certainly set out a rich buffet for his detractors…

… “He had no choice,” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and longtime friend of the president’s, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t have been done in the first place. And it’s a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news.”

[And you know it just broke Christie’s heart to be called on to explain this for his old frenemy…]

The president first heard the criticism of his choice of the Doral watching TV, where even some Fox News personalities were disapproving. By Saturday afternoon, his concerns had deepened when he put in a call to Camp David, where Mr. Mulvaney was hosting moderate congressional Republicans for a discussion of issues facing them, including impeachment, and was told the consensus was he should reverse himself. Those moderates are among the votes Mr. Trump would need to stick with him during an impeachment.

“I didn’t see it being a big negative, but it certainly wasn’t a positive,” said Representative Peter T. King of New York, one of those at Camp David. He said the group told Mr. Trump’s aides that sticking with the decision “would be a distraction.”…

“I think there was a lot of concern,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the Republicans’ leadership team. “I’m not sure people questioned the legality of it, but it clearly was an unforced political error.”

Mr. Cole said he did not speak to the president directly about it, but expressed relief that Mr. Trump had changed his mind, and was certain that other Republicans felt the same way. “We just didn’t need this,” he said.

By late Saturday afternoon, Mr. Trump had made his decision, but he waited to announce the reversal until that night in two tweets that were separated by a break he took to watch the opening of Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News program…

[Because a guy needs a little ego balm when he’s facing such a hurtful choice.]

“At the end of the day,” Mr. Mulvaney said Sunday, “he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business, and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world, and he wanted to put the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could.”

[A show, he most certainly put on, regardless.]
Read more








Open Thread: Mike Pompeo, “Secretary of Swagger”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has become increasingly frustrated in recent weeks by the departure of top State Department officials and claims that he failed to defend the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from a smear campaign against her, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

As part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Yovanovitch testified to Congress this week that she was unfairly removed based on false claims pushed by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

One of the sources tell CNN that Pompeo was alerted to internal and external concerns about Giuliani’s effort to push out Yovanovitch, but Pompeo failed to act — he was wary of getting too deeply involved over fears of derailing US-Ukraine policy and potentially sharing the fate of his former colleague John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser who was fired for not being aligned with the President

Pompeo’s apparent choice not to put guardrails between State officials and Giuliani has come under scrutiny by House Democrats who are bent on learning as much as they can about what exactly Pompeo knew of Giuliani’s dealings. In recent interviews, Pompeo has declined to answer questions about Giuliani’s entanglement in the administration’s Ukraine policy.

He was however aware of it. In March, Pompeo received a packet from Giuliani containing unfounded claims about Yovanovitch, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter regarding their dealings in Ukraine…

As the State Department has stopped working with Congress due to orders from the White House, Pompeo himself continues to defend Trump. He has called the Ukraine impeachment inquiry a conspiracy theory to take down the President.

But there will be new questions about conversations regarding quid pro quo in the coming days given the pronouncement by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in a news conference Thursday that the US withheld military aid from Ukraine in hopes of securing a promise that the foreign government would look into the possible presence of the physical Democratic National Committee server hacked by the Russians in 2016.

Pompeo, whose department oversees a hefty amount of that assistance to Ukraine, was also asked last month if it would be a problem if there were a quid pro quo arrangement. Pompeo said it is his job to be sure that foreign assistance is “completely appropriate” and that “American taxpayer dollars are used appropriately.”

IMO, “All better now!” should *definitely* be added to the rotating tags list.








G7 Open Thread: Good News (If We Can Keep Him to It)

More immediately:

If you’re in a paranoid mood (remember, even paranoids have real enemies!): It has been widely assumed that Trump’s ‘special guest nation’ at this G7 would be… Russia. What price a scenario where Putin rejects his puppet’s down-at-heels hotel, and tells him he’d prefer to introduce his own ‘security arrangements’ at Camp David?








Late Night Open Thread: So Where’s Your Tipping Point, Repubs?