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Did intel officials refer Trump to DOJ for possible criminal probe?


Did intel officials refer Trump to DOJ for possible criminal probe?
09/25/19 12:57 PM
By Steve Benen

There’s no longer any doubt that Donald Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, seeking his foreign counterpart’s assistance in a political scheme. The memo distributed by the White House this morning helped bring the scandal into sharp focus.

What we didn’t know, however, is how some officials from the U.S. intelligence community reacted to the Republican’s rhetoric. The Washington Post reported this morning:

Those statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law. In late August, intelligence officials referred the matter to the Justice Department as a possible crime, but prosecutors concluded last week that the conduct was not criminal, according to senior Justice Department officials.


NBC News reported this morning on how the process played out from there:

According to DOJ officials, the criminal division – including career employees – concluded that there was no campaign finance violation. A DOJ official said the criminal division concluded last week that what Trump was asking for did not amount to a “thing of value,” as the law requires.

In conducting its analysis, DOJ asked the White House for the notes of the president’s conversation – the so-called “transcript” – and the White House voluntarily turned it over.

I’ll leave it to legal experts to speak to whether the Justice Department’s call was the appropriate one. Given the fact that the department is led by Attorney General Bill Barr, the administration probably shouldn’t be too surprised if there’s some skepticism about whether a complaint against Trump was handled properly.

But either way, the fact that the matter was referred to the DOJ for possible criminal scrutiny is a striking new detail.

Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 25, 2019, 04:13 PM (0 replies)

Are there any educated guesses as to who the whistleblower might be?

I believe I heard or read that Dan Coats, former DNI who resigned (or was fired), could be.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 25, 2019, 03:13 PM (8 replies)

The First Line of Trump's Obituary Has Been Written


The First Line of Trump’s Obituary Has Been Written
By William Rivers Pitt,
Published September 25, 2019


Being an unyielding Trump partisan was always a bad bet in the long run and will become positively hazardous as this process unfolds, if for no other reason than Trump is Trump: He will not be able to contain his baser instincts now any more than he has in the past. It would come as no surprise if Trump commits more crimes to try and get out from under the crimes he has already committed.

In the end, this is happening because it absolutely had to happen. Considerations regarding what the Senate will or will not do are moot, because impeachment in the face of Trump’s serial violations is a constitutional necessity.

Allowing Trump’s behavior to stand unchallenged — no matter the ultimate outcome of that challenge — would set fire to the rule of law and render the country down to a mere marketplace for plunder and violence. If we aspire to be more than that, and I devoutly believe we do, we must undertake this process with patience and unyielding diligence.


The first line of Donald Trump’s obituary has already been written: He joins Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton on the list of presidents who have faced impeachment. Johnson and Clinton were both acquitted in the Senate, while Nixon resigned before the process could get full underway. This will, of course, not sit well with the lumpen neofascists who populate Trump’s base. They will rage as they identify with the fundraising email Trump’s campaign sent out immediately after the impeachment inquiry was announced.

“The Democrats thrive on silencing and intimidating his supporters, like YOU, Friend,” it read. “They want to take YOUR VOTE away. President Trump wants to know who stood with him when it mattered most.” The fact that Trump is already fundraising off this mess tells us where we stand.

We are questing strange and dangerous waters now, and the outcome is anyone’s guess, but we are here because we have to be. The actions of this president can no longer go unchallenged. Let his Republican enablers stand with him in broad daylight and proclaim their fealty to his capricious whim. Let them sit astride the wrecking ball as it swings toward the crumbling edifice of their own shattered morality.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 25, 2019, 01:14 PM (15 replies)

The Rude Pundit: Let's Do This Impeachment Thing


The Rude Pundit
Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
Let's Do This Impeachment Thing


You know how this is gonna play out over the next few days: Trump has already said he's going to release the "transcript" of his July 25 call with Zelensky. And let's be clear: it ain't gonna be a transcript, unless they record the calls in the Oval Office, which would be peak Trump stupidity, and even then there's no way to trust it. Probably the transcript will show that Trump never said, "Hey, Voldemort, dick over Biden or no bomb money for you." But, as Jeffrey Toobin and others have said today, if Trump even mentions Biden's name, it's abuse of power. I'm betting that, if you're really concerned about corruption in Ukraine, there are lots of people not named Biden involved. (Besides, Hunter Biden was already completely cleared of any involvement in anything. He was never even formally accused of anything.)


We are at the beginning now. I don't think this will be like the oddly fast Clinton impeachment, which took a little over two months (with the trial and acquittal in the Senate over two months after that). That came in the wake of the Starr Report, so it was a response to a full, ludicrous, shameful sham of an investigation. We're starting from scratch here. Let's have some hearings on the TV, please. Drag Trump's ass for as long as it's necessary.

What Nancy Pelosi finally did was to stop allowing Democrats to be so goddamned feckless and seemingly random in their attempts to investigate Trump and his administration. An effective Democratic caucus would have already gone after Trump for profiting off his position or for what was revealed in the Mueller Report, which essentially said, "You gotta impeach this crooked cock."

Now Democrats can have a crystal clear, simple message that can tie together the threads of all the various committees' work: Trump is a criminal, and here are all the ways he has violated the law, his oath of office, and the public trust. Now let's impeach the motherfucker.

Gird yer loins, oh, good Trump-haters of America, for things are gonna get intense and weird and possibly (even more) violent, if his yahoo-brigade starts to think their racist president is going down.

We've finally, really joined the battle. It's about goddamn time.

(One last note: Rudy Giuliani is fucked. He better cut some deals fast because Trump is selling him out in a heartbeat.)
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 25, 2019, 10:04 AM (2 replies)

Adam Schiff Just Demolished Trump's Impeachment Defense Strategy


Posted on Tue, Sep 24th, 2019 by Sean Colarossi
Adam Schiff Just Demolished Trump’s Impeachment Defense Strategy


Schiff said:

First, I think the administration realizes this is going to come out. Ultimately, the public is going to know about the president’s misconduct, and they want to try to get ahead of it. And they also want to try to shape it in the same way Bill Barr misled the country about what was involved. So you can already see the president trying to suggest to the country that, ‘Hey, if I didn’t specifically ask for a quid pro quo, then there’s no problem here.’ You don’t need an explicit quid pro quo. You don’t need an implicit quid pro quo. Ukraine understands how it is entirely dependent on the United States, how it’s entirely dependent on the goodwill of president of the United States for military support, financial support, for support among the international community. And when the president of the United States tells that country, ‘This is what I want you to do for me’, much like when James Comey said when the president said I’d like you to see if you can make this Flynn matter go away, that country understands that not as a request but as in this will be done or there are repercussions. He doesn’t have to make it explicit. It’s enough he withheld this military support even as he’s browbeating this president and his personal lawyer is browbeating Ukraine for help in their political campaign.

Democrats learned their lesson from the Mueller report debacle

What Schiff’s remarks on Tuesday night seem to suggest is that Democrats have learned their lesson from the Mueller report debacle.

Even though Mueller laid out damning evidence against Trump in his report, Trump and Bill Barr were able to craft a narrative early. It turned the debate over the Mueller report into another left-versus-right debate, which only benefitted Trump.

By announcing a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday and remaining on message and on offense about Trump’s criminal behavior, Democrats aren’t letting the White House release a sequel to their Mueller report whitewash.

Democrats are making this very simple: We already know Donald Trump broke the law and he must be held accountable.

Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 25, 2019, 06:52 AM (20 replies)

Elizabeth Warren's campaign will invest in beating Maine Senator Susan Collins

Elizabeth Warren's campaign will invest in beating Maine Senator Susan Collins
By Jason Silverstein
Updated on: September 25, 2019 / 12:14 AM / CBS News

Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign wants to help fellow Democrats win races beyond the White House. And it will apparently target one of Warren's colleagues in the Senate.

In a letter to supporters Tuesday, the Warren campaign announced it would invest resources in a number of competitive races — including Maine's 2020 Senate race, where Republican Senator Susan Collins will be up for reelection. That means the campaign for Warren, who is a senator from Massachusetts, will be working to unseat one of the women currently serving with her in the Senate.

The news came in a memo outlining a broader strategy to focus on state and local races in addition to Warren's White House bid. Campaign manager Roger Lau said the Warren campaign will hire state directors and organizers to help Democrats keep control of the House, take back the Senate and win key state legislature races.

"Remember: this election is about more than just beating Donald Trump — he's just the worst symptom of a corrupt system," Lau wrote. "If we want to make big, structural change, we need to make sure Democrats control the U.S. House and Senate and win important gubernatorial and state legislative races across the country."


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 25, 2019, 06:25 AM (4 replies)

How to Impeach a President

How to Impeach a President
Here’s what it would take to remove Trump from office.

By Aaron Mak
Sept 24, 20195:26 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that she was initiating a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump after allegations that he withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The story of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky came to light because of a whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community, and the fight over access to the report helped reinvigorate calls for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

Congress has never successfully removed a sitting president. Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 were both impeached but ultimately not ousted, while Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 allowed him to avoid near-certain impeachment. The difficulty of the task is in large part due to the requirements set by the Constitution, which are paradoxically both exceedingly demanding and frustratingly vague.

Here’s what it would take for Congress to remove Trump from office.

Step 1: Introduce an Impeachment Resolution

The road to removal begins with any representative in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to commence. In July 2017, California Rep. Brad Sherman, Texas Rep. Al Green, and Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen jointly introduced an impeachment resolution, which Sherman then re-introduced this January. It’s then up to Pelosi as House speaker to decide whether to move forward and direct a committee to begin an impeachment inquiry. She did that on Tuesday.

Step 2: Draft Articles of Impeachment

Pelosi will then assign a committee to take the lead in the inquiry. The House Judiciary Committee handled impeachment inquiries for Nixon and Clinton, and a special committee stepped in for Johnson’s impeachment. Early reports indicate Pelosi has asked six committees currently investigating Trump on other matters to also look into his dealings with Ukraine and then submit their findings to the House Judiciary Committee.

The Judiciary Committee would then decide if there is enough evidence to draft the articles of impeachment, which are essentially the specific charges against the president. Article II of the Constitution states that a president “shall be removed from office” for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is absent from the Constitution, which has stirred dissension during previous impeachment episodes. The criteria for such offenses therefore essentially boils down to whatever a particular Congress collectively decides it is.

Step 3: Impeach the President


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Sep 24, 2019, 07:05 PM (1 replies)

"Wilbur Ross is all of us"


"Wilbur Ross is all of us," quipped another user. Another said, "Somebody wake up Wilbur Ross!!!"
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Sep 24, 2019, 06:27 PM (6 replies)

Charles P. Pierce: Donald Trump's Ukraine Business Is the Beginning of the End


Donald Trump’s Ukraine Business Is the Beginning of the End
Something has shifted in the political tectonics.
By Charles P. Pierce
Sep 24, 2019


This has to be the beginning of the end. The House Democrats, slower than molasses up until this point, suddenly have been transformed into quick drying cement around the president*'s ankles. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut now has come close to calling for an impeachment inquiry; she is a close friend and closer ally to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, so that's a signifying development, as is the op-ed signed by seven rookie Democratic congresscritters from toss-up congressional districts, all of whom, significantly, have experience in the national security apparatus, in which they call for investigations to intensify. The Ukraine business has shifted something in the political tectonics. The slippage has begun in earnest, on one side of the aisle, anyway.

On the other side, there are clues within the Post stories that folks are feeling the ground shift under their feet as well. Consider:

Besides Bolton, several other administration officials said they did not know why the aid was being canceled or why a meeting was not being scheduled. The decision was communicated to State and Defense officials on July 18, officials familiar with the meeting said. By mid-August, lawmakers were acutely aware that the OMB had assumed all decision-making authority from the Defense and State departments and was delaying the distribution of the aid through a series of short-term notices. Several congressional officials questioned whether the OMB had the legal authority to direct federal agencies not to spend money that Congress had already authorized, aides said.

Between the lines there, you can hear the pitter-patter of little feet as they begin to jog toward the lifeboats. "Don't quote me, but we all knew something was screwy here and, by the way, I was against the whole business from the start." Some people are hearing the klaxon of the political termination alarm ringing in the near distance. There's more of this in The New York Times' account of events.


The Democratic caucus was scheduled to meet late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the way forward, which suddenly seems a lot clearer than it did three days ago. Years ago, while recounting the cascading events of the summer of 1974 that led to the excision of Richard Nixon from the body politic, political historian Walter Karp wrote of the impeachment vote in the House Judiciary Committee that "the hour of the Founders had come around at last." Karp was unsparing in his criticism of how dilatory the system had proven itself to be in the face of Nixon's crimes. He criticized the Republicans for enabling a criminal administration, and he criticized the Democrats for having had to be dragged into their constitutional duty by their ears. Karp wrote:

It was the reluctance of Congress to act. I felt anew my fury when members of Congress pretended that nobody really cared about Watergate except the “media” and the “Nixon-haters.” The real folks “back home,” they said, cared only about inflation and the gasoline shortage. I remembered the exasperating actions of leading Democrats, such as a certain Senate leader who went around telling the country that President Nixon could not be impeached because in America a person was presumed innocent until proven guilty. Surely the senator knew that impeachment was not a verdict of guilt but a formal accusation made in the House leading to trial in the Senate. Why was he muddying the waters, I wondered, if not to protect the President? It had taken one of the most outrageous episodes in the history of the Presidency to compel Congress to make even a pretense of action.

Karp was talking about the Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon decapitated the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and his attorney general and deputy attorney general quit rather than swing the ax. We are there again. Despite Republican enabling and Democratic timidity, the hour of the Founders has come around again. There is no place left for anyone to hide, no clever dodge left to employ, nothing left to kick down the road. History accepts no alibis.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Sep 24, 2019, 04:59 PM (5 replies)

Trump's Children Cause Outrage at UN After Seen Sitting in Area Reserved for the Handicapped

Trump’s Children Cause Outrage at UN After Seen Sitting in Area Reserved for the Handicapped

By Andrea Jefferson
September 24, 2019

Donald Trump’s adult children all turned out to show support for their father as he delivered a speech to his fellow world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday morning…although their attendance is angering many people for assorted reasons.

The president’s four oldest children – Don Jr, Ivanka, Eric, and Tiffany – all made their way to the UN headquarters in New York City to watch him launch a boring and “low energy” attack on Iran and China, with the siblings all wearing very somber expressions throughout this speech.

Included in the group was Ivanka’s husband and fellow White House advisor Jared Kushner, while Eric was joined by his wife Lara, and Don Jr brought his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The only Trump sibling missing from the bunch was the first couple’s 13-year-old son Barron, who presumably spent the day at his school in Washington, D.C. while his parents attended the global summit alongside the oldest four children.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Sep 24, 2019, 03:25 PM (13 replies)
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