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Pence: I Participated in the Ukraine Plot But Only As a Patsy

the national interest 7:17 P.M.
Pence: I Participated in the Ukraine Plot But Only As a Patsy
By Jonathan Chait

Vice-President Mike Pence is knee-deep in the Ukraine scandal. He is floating the absurd defense that, while he did participate in Trump’s plan to extort Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, he was completely ignorant of what he was doing.

Although President Trump “used Pence to tell [Ukrainian president Volodymyr] Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld,” the Washington Post reports, Pence’s aides insist he had no idea what he was actually being used for. “Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information about Biden and his son,” the Post notes. Pence, by their accounting, is like a man who delivers a ransom note to a bank teller, failing to place any significance in the fact that the tellers have their hands in the air, the bank patrons are lying on the floor, and the guy who asked him to bring the note to the bank had a mask and a gun.

Pence’s involvement in the plot was extensive.
White House officials had him cancel a planned trip to Zelensky’s inauguration. One of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call when Trump made clear his demand that Zelensky open investigations into various Democratic officials, including Biden, whom Trump named on the call. Pence was given the transcript of the call before his September 1 meeting with Zelensky, when he reiterated Trump’s threat.

Pence’s defense is that, even though the readout of Trump’s call with Zelensky was in his briefing materials on his trip to Europe, he did not bother to read it before the meeting. “Officials close to Pence contend that he traveled to Warsaw for a meeting with Zelensky on Sept. 1 probably without having read — or at least fully registered — the transcript,” the Post records.

So Pence didn’t read or understand the vital background information he needed before this important national-security meeting. He didn’t hear the widespread alarm rippling through the administration that Trump was acting improperly. He somehow failed to pick up on Rudy Giuliani’s repeated public boasts — in the New York Times, on Fox News, on Twitter, and in any media he could find — that he was pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in his personal capacity as Trump’s lawyer. He somehow accepted at face value Trump’s claim of being deeply concerned with corruption in Ukraine despite Trump’s record of greeting corruption in almost every other country he deals with with something ranging from indifference to enthusiasm.

Most amazing, Pence’s defense is that when he delivered Trump’s threat in the meeting with Zelensky, Pence had no idea that “corruption” was code for ordering up investigations of Trump’s domestic enemies. “A top Pence staffer rejected the charge that the vice-president was conveying an inappropriate — or coded — message from the president,” notes an obviously skeptical Post.

If Pence is so ignorant that he could be pulled into an extortion plot without having any idea what he was doing, while missing numerous public and private signs that would have spelled it out, he is too dumb to serve as vice-president or even to be allowed to use metal cutlery. There is no way Pence is quite that stupid.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 09:06 PM (12 replies)

If Trump Goes Down, He's Taking Everyone With Him


If Trump Goes Down, He’s Taking Everyone With Him
Frank Bruni

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.


I wrote last week that the prospect of Trump’s impeachment terrified me, and one of the main reasons I cited was what we’re seeing now: his histrionic response, which is untethered from any sense of honor, civic concern or real patriotism.

He’s not like most of his predecessors in the White House, who had some limits, at least a few scruples and the capacity to feel shame. Their self-pity wasn’t this unfathomably deep, their delusions of martyrdom this insanely grand. “There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have,” he tweeted last week, and the violins have wailed only louder and weepier since.


There’s light, though, and it’s this: As corrosive as his tirades are, they may also be what does him in. He’s poised to take this persecution complex too far.

Already, there has been a swell of support for impeachment, according to new polls released by CNN and Monmouth University, and I bet that trend continues as revelations of his wrongdoing cascade and as he wildly overreacts.

That probably wouldn’t be enough to get Republican senators to convict him and remove him from office, should the House follow through with impeachment and a Senate trial ensue. But it would affect November 2020.

He’s in a bind, because his burn-down-the-house defense against impeachment makes the best case that he must be impeached — that a leader with no bounds and no bottom can’t be allowed to rage on unimpeded. The impeachment inquiry is laying Trump bare. As scary as that is for us, it may be even scarier for him.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 08:43 PM (11 replies)

Schiff Makes Clear All Trump Efforts to Obstruct House Inquiry Will Be Added to Articles of Impeach


Schiff Makes Clear All Trump Efforts to Obstruct House Inquiry Will Be Added to Articles of Impeachment
Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff just provided a preemptive autopsy of Trump's presidency.
by Charles P. Pierce


And, in conclusion:

To say that we are concerned that the White House will attempt to stonewall our investigation much as they have stonewalled other committees, it is why I say the White House needs to understand that any action like that that forces us to litigate or have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice. That was an article of impeachment against Nixon, the obstruction of lawful functions of Congress.

We will also draw the inference that, as appropriate, they are trying to conceal facts that would corroborate the allegations. We will have to decide whether to litigate, or how to litigate. We are not fooling around. We do not want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the strategy. They just need to know that even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the president's effort to course a foreign -- coerce a foreign leader to use test to find dirt against a political opponent, that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way.


In our current context, that means every Tweet, every driveway tantrum, every truckload of lies dumped at his beloved rallies can be used to prove the truth of the fact that this administration* has worked at all times to cover up how deeply corrupt it is. Every damn one of them. Even the madhouse press availability he held with the president of Finland later on Wednesday became evidence for the prosecution. To wit:

He should be forced to resign from Congress. Adam Schiff, he's a lowlife. He took a perfect conversation, realized he couldn't read it to Congress because it was perfect -- it was a very nice conversation...We had stenographers on the phone, taking it down word-for-word. He took that and...he made up a conversation and he reported it and he said it to Congress and to the American people. And it was horrible what he said. And that was supposed to be coming from me. But it was all fabricated. He should resign from Congress in disgrace and they should be looking at him for treason.

Your Honor, Prosecution Exhibit Quadruple Q for identification.

Lying to the country to cover your criminal ass is an impeachable offense, no matter how many suckers believe your lies to be true. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff on Wednesday explained to the president* this undeniable truth. He yelled, "BULLSHIT!" in return. Another piece of evidence for their case.

Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 07:21 PM (4 replies)

Impeachment isn't scaring Democrats anymore, especially in the Senate


Impeachment isn't scaring Democrats anymore, especially in the Senate
Joan McCarter
Daily Kos Staff
Wednesday October 02, 2019 · 4:24 PM EDT

Spines are stiffening all over in the Democratic Congress, as blowback to impeachment is definitely not happening and Donald Trump continues his fast downward spiral. Senate Democrats in particular are allowing themselves to hope for a Democratic majority in 2021.

"Voters are going to see this as a stinking fish. I don't think voters are going to want their member of Congress or Senate to be up here defending the president's actions," said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy. "It'll be interesting to see what happens when Republicans come back from this [October] recess." Yes, yes it will. There's been one break, not among the vulnerable 2020 crowd, but from the dean of the Senate, Chuck Grassley. He's strongly defending the whistleblower who unveiled that hidden, corrupt Trump phone call with the Ukraine President.

It's not just a matter of politics, though, Democrats are quick to point out. There's that whole love-of-country, constitutional-obligation part that Republicans have tossed in the bin. "We need to do the right thing regardless of who's benefiting," Michigan's Debbie Stabenow said. Nevertheless, that impeachment conviction vote "will make it very difficult for them to choose," she added. "If I were them in many of the states where people are running, I certainly would, politically, be concerned about taking that vote."

Looking at the polling just on impeachment, yep. Add in polling on guns, Trump's plummeting approval rating, the very real possibility that a highly partisan federal court will try to toss the Affordable Care Act? Democrats have every reason to allow themselves to dream a little.

It's going to be a bitter, bitter year for Republicans. That means you, Susan Collins and Cory Gardner and Martha McSally and Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis and David Perdue and yeah, even you, Mitch McConnell. There's got to be some very nervous stomachs in the Republican cloakroom right about now.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 06:43 PM (0 replies)

David Corn:The Scariest Part of the Trump-Ukraine Scandal? He Really Believes His Own Conspiracy The


The Scariest Part of the Trump-Ukraine Scandal? He Really Believes His Own Conspiracy Theories.
It would be more comforting if he were just a serial liar.
David Corn

It’s been a long-standing question: Does Donald Trump believe his own crap? Does he truly think he has the best brain, that he is worth more than $10 billion, that there were more than a million people at his inauguration? And, in particular, does he accept the crazy conspiracy swill he so often slings: Barack Obama was born in Kenya, millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election for Hillary Clinton (which is why he did not win the popular vote), Ted Cruz’s dad killed JFK? It could be that Trump spews falsehoods, exaggerations, and ludicrous tales mainly for effect. He knows this stuff is bunk, but he tosses it out to gain an advantage—to pump up his image, to feed his political base, to shape the political discourse, to distract from his own misdeeds. But what if he actually does believe this rubbish? Which would be more alarming: a president who is a serial liar or a president who is delusional?

The Trump-Ukraine scandal has revealed much about its chief player, who comes across as a crass operator in his phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, as Trump abuses the power of the presidency to muscle the Ukrainian leader into producing dirt that Trump can use for his own political purposes. But the quasi-transcript of this Godfather-like chat also answers the question posed above—and that answer is damn frightening.

As just about everyone now knows, during that July 25 call, when Zelensky told Trump that Ukraine wanted to obtain more Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States, Trump immediately replied, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” He then, in his word-salad way, asked Zelensky to investigate the theory that the Democratic Party computer servers that were hacked by the Russians in 2016 supposedly ended up in Ukraine, as part of a grand plot to create a hoax Trump-Russia investigation to block Trump’s path to the White House. (Trump was hardly this coherent in making his request to Zelensky.) Referring to Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, Trump said, “They say a lot of it started with Ukraine,” and he noted it was “very important” for Zelensky to investigate. Zelensky agreed to follow this path and pointed out that one of his assistants had already spoken about this to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s chief henchman.

To be fair, you have to possess some background information to realize how bonkers this part of the conversation was. Trump was talking about one of the nuttiest conspiracy theories related to the Russia scandal—and he and his defenders have come up with a lot of bizarro alternative realities in their strenuous efforts to protect Trump. The basic theme they have been pushing for years is that Trump was set up by some Deep State cabal involving various US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the Obama White House, the Democrats, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and, of course, the media (including me)—all of whom helped concoct a phony Russia investigation to delegitimize and stop Trump. And during his conversation with Zelensky, Trump zeroed in on one of the craziest variants of this favorite Big Idea of Fox News and the paranoid right.


It’s easy to dismiss Trump’s BS as, well, just BS. After all, Trump will publicly say anything to escape responsibility, change the subject, or cover up misconduct. He will claim an improper call was “perfect.” He will call for the arrest of a Congress member for treason. He will deny what he said an hour ago. An outrageous or offensive remark is often his best defense. But when he was speaking to Zelensky, he was not in front of an an audience (real or virtual). In private, he was expressing a priority and making a specific ask (or demand). And that focused on Zelensky producing information to confirm an utterly batty idea. Yet Trump regards this absurd idea as true. Why? Because he wants to. Because he needs it to be real. Because he does not care about reality. It was one thing for Trump to push Zelensky to come up with muck on Joe Biden and his son. That sort of material was within the realm of possibility (and it could probably be made up, if it doesn’t exist). But to concentrate on the servers conspiracy theory? This transcript shows that Trump is a prisoner of his own self-deception, a man untethered from the world of facts. It might be more reassuring if he was only an inveterate liar.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 03:45 PM (5 replies)

The Guy Who Wrote the Book on Impeachment Says Trump Clears the Bar for Removal from Office

October 1, 2019 1:46PM ET
The Guy Who Wrote the Book on Impeachment Says Trump Clears the Bar for Removal from Office
“It’s as plain a case of abuse of power as one can easily imagine”
By Tim Dickinson

Frank O. Bowman wrote the book on impeaching the 45th president. Published in July, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump seeks to ground the talk about removing the president from office in centuries of history and practice. A law professor who teaches at the University of Missouri and lectures on impeachment at Georgetown, Bowman doesn’t pretend to be above the fray, politically. He describes himself as a “centrist” Democrat. But he insists, “I’ve tried hard to play it straight in applying rigorous legal and constitutional analysis.”

Bowman’s book has become extremely timely after, as he puts it, the “dam broke” and the House launched a formal impeachment inquiry last week into Trump’s attempts to strong-arm Ukraine into digging up dirt on Joe Biden. For Bowman, as a constitutional scholar, the impeachment bar has been cleared. “He’s gone far enough — what he’s done amounts to impeachable offenses,” he says. “And moreover Congress ought to do something about it.”


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 09:58 AM (3 replies)

Polling points to warning signs for GOP on Trump


The Memo: Polling points to warning signs for GOP on Trump
By Niall Stanage - 10/02/19 06:00 AM EDT


Trump allies also say the president could have some success in pushing back against the impeachment efforts if the process becomes prolonged. Former special counsel Robert Mueller did see some signs of erosions of public confidence during his tenure, after he was attacked for months on end by Trump’s supporters.

Still, the nature of the current controversy makes it especially incendiary. The story is simple, unlike the Russia-related allegations investigated by Mueller. The whistleblower’s account has been borne out by the White House’s own memorandum of the Trump-Zelensky phone call. And the whole matter pertains to national security, where Republicans like to boast of their strength.

“The president must realize that the same partisanship that has kept him unaffected [by previous controversies] could turn against him in a second,” said Princeton history and public affairs professor Julian Zelizer. “It’s about party power. For Republicans, if it is no longer in their interest to support the president, they will cut ties with him.”

Zelizer did not suggest that such a moment was imminent. But he also highlighted the danger for Trump in new facts emerging — and cited an ominous historical parallel.

“The Watergate investigation was discovering facts that continued to shock, and continued to break political support” for former President Nixon, he said. “That is why it is even a question now, as to whether Trump can hold on to Republican voters.”
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 09:45 AM (2 replies)

What Republicans Privately Say About Impeachment


What Republicans Privately Say About Impeachment
October 2, 2019 at 7:01 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

A “very seasoned and well-known GOP operative” emails Playbook:

“GOP lawmakers and operatives are concerned at what appears to be a lack of urgency from the Trump administration in forming an organized, unified response engine to the Democratic impeachment threat. There is either a failure to fully appreciate the gravity of the situation; or an inability to protect the president like they did his Supreme Court nominees with a centralized war room that has credibility with stakeholders across the party.”

“Nobody wants to look like Kevin McCarthy did on ‘60 Minutes’ and right now they’ll duck and cover until they’re on firmer footing. The Trump administration has blazed their own communications path up to this point, but there is deep skepticism that the late-night Fox lineup will have any credibility with rank-and-file Republicans that are necessary to prosecute this argument against House Democrats.”
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 2, 2019, 08:06 AM (7 replies)

Trump's Tweet About Civil War Was Just What the Far Right Oath Keepers Wanted to Hear

Trump’s Tweet About Civil War Was Just What the Far Right Oath Keepers Wanted to Hear
The group jumped onto Twitter to defend the President.

In yet another presidential first, this week Donald Trump warned of an impending civil war in the United States—via Twitter, of course. On Sunday night, Trump paraphrased Robert Jeffress, a baptist-preacher-turned-Fox-News-pundit, tweeting: “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

Donald J. Trump

· Sep 29, 2019
Replying to @realDonaldTrump

....Election, and negate the votes of millions of Evangelicals in the process. They know the only Impeachable offense that President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. That’s the unpardonable sin for which the Democrats will never forgive him.....

Donald J. Trump


....If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
9:11 PM - Sep 29, 2019

The online reactions to the tweet were far ranging. #CivilWar2 started trending. A Harvard Law professor claimed the tweet itself was grounds for impeachment. A Republican representative disavowed the tweet as “beyond repugnant.”

Meanwhile, a right-wing militia group called the Oath Keepers weighed in to agree with Trump.

Oath Keepers @Oathkeepers

Here’s the money quote from that thread. This is the truth. This is where we are. We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war. Like in 1859. That’s where we are. And the Right has ZERO trust or respect for anything the left is doing. We see THEM as illegitimate too.@StewartRhodesOK https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1178477539653771264
Donald J. Trump

Replying to @realDonaldTrump

....If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
1:59 AM - Sep 30, 2019

The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an anti-government “patriot” group whose members pledge to uphold the constitution if a tyrannical president declares martial law. The group believes that day is imminent, and is constantly looking for evidence of a Deep state conspiracy to back their ideology. As Mother Jones reported back in 2010, the group consists largely of soldiers, police, and veterans, like Lee Pray, who runs training drills with fellow Oath Keepers to prepare for when that day inevitably comes:


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Oct 1, 2019, 07:47 PM (5 replies)

Giuliani hires attorney to represent him in Ukraine investigation


Giuliani hires attorney to represent him in Ukraine investigation

Rudy Giuliani confirmed on Tuesday that he has lawyered up, hiring attorney Jon Sale to represent him in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into alleged efforts by him and President Trump to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

The big picture: Sale is a former Watergate assistant special prosecutor and one of Giulaini's former law school classmates, per the New York Times' Maggie Haberman. Giuliani has been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee to produce documents by Oct. 15, and has not yet stated whether he will cooperate. He said on Sunday that he would comply if Trump asked him to, but attacked Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff as unqualified because he has "prejudged the case."
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Oct 1, 2019, 03:16 PM (7 replies)
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