Sunday, January 19, 2020

A SOLEMN OATH


Here's the GOP plan, apparently: do everything possible that people don't watch the impeachment trial. Have the helpful parts filtered through selective Fox World excerpts and commentary. And rush through the rest of it so quickly that it's just a blur

https://www.axios.com/trump-senate-impeachment-trial-team-fox-8020e454-02d7-4674-8620-8a31cb3d7b42.html
Four of the team members — Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz, Pam Bondi and Robert Ray — have made at least 365 weekday Fox News appearances since January 2019 . . . Several White House officials told Jonathan Swan they were hoping President Trump wouldn’t pick Alan Dershowitz, named by the White House Friday as one of the Senate trial counsels, to play a formal role. They saw the choice as an unnecessary distraction, given that the team was already strong and Alan Dershowitz has ties to Jeffrey Epstein. But Trump thinks Dershowitz is magnificent on TV . . .

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/19/business/media/senate-impeachment-trial-media.html
The Senate will control the cameras during the impeachment trial, limiting what viewers see, and reporters will be confined to roped-off areas . . .

We see the preliminary arguments on both sides -- and it is pretty clear that Trump's lawyers don't want to talk about the evidence, or defend his innocence

The case for the prosecution: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/democrats-white-house-arguments-impeachment_n_5e23898ec5b674e44b993078
In their brief, the House managers overseeing the prosecution wrote that it is clear that the “evidence overwhelmingly establishes” that Trump is guilty of both charges. “The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths,” the brief states. . . .

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/18/democrats-say-trump-is-national-security-threat/
“The House Democratic managers argue the Senate must ‘eliminate the threat that the President poses to America’s national security’. . .” the Washington Post reports. The brief also describes Trump’s conduct as “the Framers’ worst nightmare”

Full text: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/18/politics/house-brief-trump-impeachment/index.html

The case for the defense: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/democrats-white-house-arguments-impeachment_n_5e23898ec5b674e44b993078
“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away,” the filing states. . . . 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-lawyers-to-senate-reject-defective-impeachment-articles-to-protect-the-will-of-the-american-people
The articles, the attorneys claim, are “defective in their entirety… They are the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the president any due process rights. They rest on dangerous distortions of the Constitution that would do lasting damage to our structure of government.” . . . “In order to preserve our constitutional structure of government, to reject the poisonous partisanship that the Framers warned against, to ensure one-party political impeachment vendettas do not become ‘the new normal,’ and to vindicate the will of the American people, the Senate must reject both Articles of Impeachment,” they say. “In the end, this entire process is nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote.”

Trump meets privately with donors, tells them the real reason he killed Soleimani

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-does-not-mention-threat-as-reason-for-killing-soleimani-in-private-speech
Trump Does Not Mention ‘Threat’ As Reason For Killing Soleimani In Private Speech . . .   In the audio, Trump is heard telling donors that he had decided to order a drone strike on Soleimani because the military leader was “saying bad things about our country.” “How much of this shit do we have to listen to?” the President said in his speech. “How much are we going to listen to?” 

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/trump-tells-donors-soleimani-killed-saying-bad-things-about-country.html
Trump proceeded to give a dramatic retelling of the final minutes before the strike . . . [read on]

In other investigation news . . .


In other news . . .

One of Trump's great lies is what a rich, successful, businessman he is. His career is peppered with failures and bankrupticies

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/18/1911517/-Trump-s-finances-appear-shaky-opening-up-more-opportunities-to-buy-presidential-favors
The short version is that Trump's properties here and abroad continue to not do well, the supplications of supporters are still not nearly enough to match the damage done as the rest of the nation cringes away from them, we continue to know almost nothing about the true nature of Trump's finances but all investigation suggests he is again burdened by massive debts . . .  

Five vulnerable GOP Senators should be worried

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/18/1912175/-Latest-approval-ratings-for-vulnerable-GOP-senators-are-some-serious-bad-news

Erasing history

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/national-archives-blurs-anti-trump-messages-womens-march-photo.html
National Archives Blurs Anti-Trump Messages in Women’s March Photo
Bonus item: The new "Space Force" uniforms are . . . camo!

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/space-force-uniform-meme_n_5e22cfa5c5b6321176141ba1

https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/internet-mocks-new-space-force-uniform

[NB: What this shows is that the Space Force is being created out of surplus existing personnel and resources. It isn't a real, separate, service branch.]

***If you enjoy Progressive Blog Digest and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, January 18, 2020

FIVE

If Lev Parnas is telling the truth -- and that is a big IF -- there were at least five separate "quid pro quos" with Ukraine

1. https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/a-ukrainian-push-for-a-white-house-visit-gave-trump-leverage-over-volodymyr-zelensky
A Ukrainian Push for a White House Visit Gave Trump Leverage Over Zelensky

2. https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-admits-to-ukraine-military-aid-quid-pro-quo-tv-2019-11
In a Friday interview on "Fox & Friends," President Donald Trump admitted to holding up military aid to pressure Ukraine's government to investigate a baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election. 

3. https://www.businessinsider.com/lev-parnas-mike-pence-zelensky-inauguration-ukraine-biden-investigation-2020-1
Giuliani associate claims Pence didn't attend Ukrainian president's inauguration because Ukraine didn't announce an investigation into the Bidens 

4. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/parnas-texts-expose-ukrainian-prosecutors-role-in-impeachment-scandal
The texts reveal that Lutsenko engaged in a very specific quid pro quo with Parnas: in exchange for Lutsenko making negative statements about the Bidens, Yovanovitch would be removed. . . .   

5. https://www.businessinsider.com/parnas-claims-sought-help-of-ukraine-oligarch-biden-dirt-search-2020-1
In an explosive interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed at length what he says was a previously unknown attempt to secure the help of a Ukrainian oligarch in the hunt for damaging information on top Democrat Joe Biden. Parnas spelt out an attempt to broker a quid-pro-quo with oligarch Dmytro Firtash, in which he apparently requested that an extradition order for him to return to the US was quashed in return for information that would damage the Mueller probe — and Biden's chances of being elected president in 2020. . . .  

Even more? https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/01/16/lev-parnas-ukraine-quid-pro-quo-ac360-sot-vpx.cnn
Lev Parnas describes multiple quid pro quos with Ukraine 

[NB: We know that Trump has a totally transactional world view -- he thinks everything is a "deal." Do this for me, and I'll do this for you . . . or, conversely, do this for me, OR ELSE. One thing that Parnas has revealed that I completely believe is that the campaign to get dirt on Biden from Ukraine was widespread, over a long period of time (going back to the president BEFORE Zelensky), and widely known to everyone in the Trump administration.] 

We weren't fighting corruption in Ukraine: we were exporting our corruption onto them


AFTER Ukraine opens an investigation into the surveillance and intimidation of a U.S. ambassador, Sect'y of State Mike Pompeo half-heartedly opens an investigation into it

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/17/1912211/-Day-after-Ukraine-launches-probe-of-ambassador-s-alleged-surveillance-Pompeo-s-shamed-into-acting
"I suspect that much of what's been reported will ultimately prove wrong, but our obligation, my obligation as secretary of state, is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate. . ."

[NB: Yes, because that has been the chief lesson of this grim, sordid affair: the more you look into things, the less you find. In fact, every day we are finding out less and less.

And, by the way, if Trump wanted to fire her, why didn't he just fire her? Why the bad-mouthing, the bullying, the thuggish tactics? We never have found that out.]

Trump says nine times in two minutes that he doesn't know Parnas. CNN shows us many times Trump lied that he didn't know someone or something

https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/erin-burnett-illustrates-trumps-pattern

How GOP Senators are minimizing the GAO finding that Trump broke the law when he withheld funds from Ukraine

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/republicans-get-creative-downplay-finding-trump-illegality 

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/17/1912152/-Trump-declares-himself-exonerated-from-brutal-GAO-report-because-Alan-Dershowitz-said-so-on-Fox-News
Sure, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says that Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget broke the law by withholding aid from Ukraine, but forget about all that, because Fox News has exonerated Trump. Trump tweeted a spectacularly dishonest claim by Alan Dershowitz that “The GOA (sic) got it exactly backwards. Here’s what they said. The law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities to those Congress has enacted into law. It’s exactly the opposite. The Constitution does not allow Congress to substitute its own priorities for the foreign policies of the President.” Dershowitz joined a series of other Republicans straining to argue that the GAO report is not as damning as it in fact is. Sen. Rand Paul, too, went with the “they misunderstand the law” angle, and it’s still wrong to a ridiculous “up is down” extent. But Trump jumped so hard on the fake exoneration Dershowitz offered because it’s the best thing he’s got going. . . .

Trump said no U.S. troops were injured during the Iran attack on a U.S. base in retaliation for killing Soleimani. Turns out, that's not true

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/17/11-us-troops-injured-in-iranian-attack-100384
 
In other investigation news . . .

Trump says he isn't worried about impeachment. He's worried

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/how-trump-is-viewing-impeachment/

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/17/1912140/-Trump-s-bravado-rings-even-more-false-than-usual-as-he-freaks-out-about-impeachment-trial

Trump wants a TV spectacle

https://www.axios.com/donald-trump-impeachment-legal-team-8132aac5-544e-433c-83c5-e9262286e612.html
Trump impeachment team includes Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-taps-fox-news-legal-panel-to-defend-him-in-impeachment-trial
Trump Taps Fox News Legal Panel to Defend Him in Impeachment Trial

More: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-just-hired-jeffrey-epsteins-lawyers-alan-dershowitz-and-ken-starr
Trump Just Hired Jeffrey Epstein’s Lawyers

Trump's All-Star Legal Team: a closer look

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/meet-trumps-deplorable-impeachment-defense-team.html
[Monica Lewinsky] "This is definitely an 'are you fucking kidding me?' kinda day." [read on]

More: https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/only-best-lawyers-trump-hires-starr
Senator Pat Leahy says, "I was around to watch Ken Starr prosecute a president in the weakest impeachment case in history, and now he's back to defend a president in the strongest impeachment case in history. That's their choice. But it's a weird choice."

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-impeachment-trial-trumps-legal-defense-team-takes-shape
Picking the most controversial member of Donald Trump's expanding legal defense team is surprisingly difficult. . . [read on] 

This is going to get wild, folks 

https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/alan-dershowitz-tells-ari-melber-abuse
Alan Dershowitz Flings Theory That Abuse Of Power Is Not Impeachable 

Is this going to be the ultimate Trump defense? Yes, he did all of that, and there's nothing wrong with it

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/trumps-final-defense/  

Expect more of this: "Republicans for the Rule of Law" post a tasty video of Ken Starr, from 1998

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/17/1912245/-Republican-organization-trolls-Trump-administration-posts-videos-of-Ken-Starr-s-1998-testimony
Starr explains that the “invocation of privileges” by the Clinton White House was indicative of its unwillingness to comply with the legal investigation being conducted. . . . [watch!]

[NB: Notice Brett Kavanaugh sitting behind him.] 

Here's another: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/donald-trump-ken-starr-old-video-lunatic_n_5e22c521c5b674e44b98839c 
Donald Trump Trashes His New Impeachment Lawyer Ken Starr In Newly Resurfaced Video
 
Here is the upcoming impeachment calendar: the trial starts Tuesday at 1:00 pm

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/17/impeachment-trial-schedule-099935 

More: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/17/senate-impeachment-trial-schedule-100536
In their partisan opening resolution, Republicans are considering providing 24 hours of opening arguments to both the House impeachment managers and the White House counsel. If each team wants to use the full amount of hours, they may have to do so over as few as two days, potentially leading to long trial days. The current "posture is two, 12-hour periods . . ."  [read on]

[NB: That is insane. Their goal is to make it as unlikely as possible that people will watch it. And I can't imagine senators sitting silently through 12 hour days of testimony.] 

Why don't we have a court decision yet on Trump's tax returns?

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/trump-judges-trevor-mcfadden-neomi-rao-tax-returns.html

Devin Nunes was part of it all

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/17/1912300/-New-evidence-shows-Nunes-top-aide-pushed-Lev-Parnas-to-dig-up-dirt-on-Hillary-Clinton
New evidence released by the House Intelligence Committee Friday night reveals that a top aide to Republican Rep. Devin Nunes—the ranking member on the Intelligence panel—had multiple contacts with indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. . . .[read on] 

More: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/17/devin-nunes-aide-lev-parnas-100732
 
In other news . . .

More from the new book, "A Very Stable Genius"

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-called-his-generals-a-bunch-of-dopes-and-babies-in-a-fit-of-rage-book-claims
What exactly went down during a July 2017 meeting at the Pentagon between President Trump and his military leaders has long been the subject of speculation. One of the tantalizing details that’s been previously reported is that, whatever took place, it provoked then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call his commander-in-chief “a fucking moron.” Now an excerpt of a new book published in the Washington Post demonstrates exactly what tipped Tillerson over the edge. An account of the meeting . . . depicts Trump becoming increasingly angry as his generals tried to teach him the fundamental basics of American post-war history. . . .[T]the meeting seems to have descended into chaos almost immediately. Tillerson, then Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and then Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn reportedly took turns trying to explain their points to Trump. But Trump is said to have first appeared bored out of his mind before he got increasingly angry. . . [read on]

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/trump-called-generals-a-bunch-of-dopes-and-babies/
[Talking to the Joint Chiefs of Staff] “I want to win,” he said. “We don’t win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore.” Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. . . . “I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass. Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.” For a president known for verbiage he euphemistically called “locker room talk,” this was the gravest insult he could have delivered to these people, in this sacred space. The flag officers in the room were shocked. Some staff began looking down at their papers, rearranging folders, almost wishing themselves out of the room. A few considered walking out. They tried not to reveal their revulsion on their faces, but questions raced through their minds. “How does the commander in chief say that?” one thought. “What would our worst adversaries think if they knew he said this?”
 
More from the book: https://digbysblog.net/2020/01/why-tillerson-called-him-a-moron/
Why Tillerson called him a moron [read on]

https://www.axios.com/steve-bannon-nancy-pelosi-assassin-trump-book-f1ed1040-7479-4629-9b8d-c59bcb5a7f50.html 
The night of January 23 [2017], the first Monday of his presidency, Trump came face‑to‑face with House and Senate leaders from both parties at a White House reception ... At a long table in the State Dining Room, Steve Bannon ... could not stop looking at Nancy Pelosi...Pelosi assumed Trump would open the conversation on a unifying note, such as by quoting the Founding Fathers or the Bible. Instead, the new president began with a lie: "You know, I won the popular vote." He claimed that there had been widespread fraud, with three to five million illegal votes for Clinton. Pelosi interjected. "Well, Mr. President, that’s not true," she said. "There’s no evidence to support what you just said, and if we’re going to work together, we have to stipulate to a certain set of facts. "Watching Pelosi challenge Trump, Bannon whispered to col­leagues, "She’s going to get us. Total assassin. She’s an assassin." 

AG Bill Barr is doing Trump's bidding

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/william-barr-going-after-trumps-enemies-one-by-one-comey-fbi-department-justice.html
William Barr Is Going After Trump’s Enemies One by One 

Trump is shocked -- shocked! -- that polling shows people trust the Dems more than him on health care. But he knows why: it's his HHS Secty's fault!

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/trump-blames-health-secretary-for-bad-polling/

Trump wants kids to eat like he eats
 
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/usda-school-meals-burgers-fries_n_5e224f1ec5b632117613ca34
The Trump administration took steps Friday to cut down on healthful fruits and vegetables in school meals and allow more pizza, burgers and fries. The move was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the birthday of Michelle Obama, who made healthier school lunches a signature goal when she was first lady. . . . 

https://digbysblog.net/2020/01/obama-hating
The extent to which Trump and his thugs hate All-Things-Obama is simply breathtaking . . .
 
Theocracy watch 

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/16/trump-to-underline-his-support-for-school-prayer-religious-freedom-099711
Trump to underline his support for school prayer as he courts evangelicals . . . [read on]

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/16/1911977/-Trump-releases-religious-freedom-plans-to-remind-evangelicals-why-they-support-a-profane-adulterer
Yes, it has come to this: "toilet politics"

https://www.salon.com/2020/01/17/royal-flush-understanding-the-power-of-donald-trumps-toilet-politics/

Trump tried to call Kris Kobach to convince him to drop out of the Kansas GOP Senate primary -- while his rival, Roger Marshall, was sitting in the room. It didn't work

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/trump-called-kobach-while-meeting-with-marshall/

[NB: The GOP is terrified that Kobach might get the nomination, then lose.]

Is the approval/disapproval question in polling the wrong question?

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/trump-may-be-more-unpopular-than-his-approval-shows/  

Michael Bloomberg won't be the Dem nominee, but his ad-heavy campaign is having an effect -- and he is certainly getting into Trump's head

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/17/21070295/michael-bloomberg-polls-advertising-spending-michigan-donald-trump

https://www.foxbusiness.com/money/trump-slams-mini-mike-bloombergs-2020-campaign-ads-as-vanity-project 

Concerns about Warren and Sanders

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/business-owners-are-wary-of-warren-and-sanders/
“Wall Street’s disdain for the bottom-up populist campaigns of Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont has gotten a lot of attention…” “Wariness extends far beyond an elite financial fellowship, though, to many small and medium-size businesses whose executives are not reflexively Republican but worry that the ascendancy of a left-wing Democrat would create an anti-business climate.” 

All eyes on Wisconsin as a pivotal swing state

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/17/wisconsin-is-ground-zero-for-2020/  

Bonus item: The Boy Genius makes the cover of Time magazine. Twitter has a field day


https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jared-kushner-time-magazine-cover-meme_n_5e217d94c5b6321176118cf3
"How’d they manage to make him look so lifelike? Amazing . . ." [read on]

***If you enjoy Progressive Blog Digest and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, January 17, 2020

"UNPLEASANT"

This is a revealing story about Mitch McConnell's view of impeachment

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2001/15/crn.01.html
GANGEL: But at the end of the day, he wants this over with as quickly as possible. He had a meeting with the Republican Conference, one of the lunch meetings, and he said to them, this is going to be unpleasant, was the word he used, for the next couple of weeks. And I don't know about you, he said, but I'd like to get through unpleasant things as quickly as possible.

[NB: Three things about this story. First, nothing about a solemn duty or an obligation to the Constitution to be careful and thorough. He views this only in terms of how it will feel for the GOP Senators. Second, why unpleasant? Because he knows the facts are overwhelming -- and even more comes out almost every day -- and there really is no defense of Trump on the merits. Third, he makes clear that his intention is a vote to acquit no matter what the evidence -- so if you have to eat a shit sandwich, get it over with as quickly as possible, then move on and try to forget it. This is all pretty damning, when you think about it.]

More: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lindsey-graham-trump-impeachment-hannity_n_5e202837c5b674e44b92e031
Lindsey Graham Wants To ‘End This Crap’ As Quickly As Possible

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/16/republicans-dont-even-know-what-theyre-covering-up/
“Republican senators don’t even know what they’re covering up for, or at least what they would be covering up for if they follow the White House’s preference to rush through the Senate impeachment trial that starts next week and refuse to hear from relevant witnesses and collect relevant documents.” “Some of those senators, to be sure, just don’t care. They’ve decided they can live with (both politically and ethically) any revelations that may come down the road — that no one who they care about will hold them accountable for burying important evidence, no matter what it turns out to be. Others may really be so fully inside the conservative information-feedback loop that they sincerely think that Trump is an honest, innocent man being railroaded by partisans; they may not even be aware of the considerable evidence to the contrary.” “But for anyone else? As I said just 24 hours and a couple rounds of ugly revelations ago: ‘If new ugly details are still emerging, who’s to say that more won’t turn up later?'”

Rand Paul offers his own words of wisdom

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/478641-paul-predicts-no-republicans-will-vote-to-convict-trump
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of President Trump’s top allies in Congress, says not a single Senate Republican will vote for either of the articles of impeachment . . . “I really think the verdict has already been decided as well. I don’t think any Republicans are going to vote for impeachment . . . I think if you’re pretty much no longer interested in running for office, or no longer interested in getting Republican votes, you might vote to impeach the president,” he said. “This isn’t just a policy difference. . . . When it comes to whether or not you’re going to impeach a president of your own party, particularly over a policy difference or whether or not he has lack of decorum or whatever, I think that’s something that a lot of voters will not excuse,” he said.

[NB: We can't be surprised by this, but Rand Paul does not know what witnesses will be brought in and what they might say. A few days ago it looked like McConnell would just rush to a fast acquittal with no witnesses at all. That changed. If Bolton or others come in and explain exactly how and why this scheme got hatched -- and how Trump was involved -- there will be tremendous pressure on some Republicans, at least, to vote to convict. We have had several mind-blowing revelations in just the past couple of weeks. I have every expectation that there is more to come. And let's not even get into whether the issue is Trump's "lack of decorum." Or whatever. Paul clearly does not want witnesses, and what he is really saying is, Why bother having witnesses if you already know the result? Like McConnell and Graham he is saying, Let's just get this over with.]

What kind of trial is it when the DEFENSE gets to argue that there should be no witnesses?

https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Defense-s-aim-Swift-trial-with-no-witnesses-14978883.php
White House lawyers are trying to engineer the fastest impeachment trial in American history, aiming to have President Donald Trump acquitted by the Senate without witnesses and after just a few days of proceedings . . . 

John Bolton has a book coming out soon. Are Senators really going to take the position that they should wait to read about his testimony, instead of bringing him in to testify?

https://digbysblog.net/2020/01/bolton-must-testify/

[NB: And for Bolton, if you have something to say, SAY IT NOW, when it matters and can make a difference.] 

Add it to the list

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/government-accountability-office-trump-omb-ukraine-freeze
Gov’t Watchdog Office: OMB Broke Law With Trump-Ordered Ukraine Aid Freeze

[NB: I think that means TRUMP broke the law.]

More: https://www.vox.com/2020/1/16/21068705/gao-report-ukraine-aid-impeachment-trump 

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/16/1911992/-Senate-GOP-caucus-in-meltdown-mode-as-five-alarm-engulfs-the-White-House
Republican senators caught amid a battery of fires engulfing the White House are frantically searching for a way out. . . [read on]

https://www.thedailybeast.com/republicans-melt-down-as-evidence-of-trumps-guilt-piles-up
Republicans Melt Down as Evidence of Trump’s Guilt Piles Up

[NB: It's going to get worse for them.]

Government agencies that try to be fact-driven have a problem when that puts them at odds with Trump's crazy public statements. Here's one of the ways they want to solve that

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/15/intel-agencies-threats-hearing-trump-099494
The U.S. intelligence community is trying to persuade House and Senate lawmakers to drop the public portion of an annual briefing on the globe’s greatest security threats — a move compelled by last year’s session that provoked an angry outburst from President Donald Trump, multiple sources told POLITICO. Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on behalf of the larger clandestine community, don’t want agency chiefs to be seen on-camera as disagreeing with the president on big issues such as Iran, Russia or North Korea . . .

In other investigation news . . .

Adam Schiff wants witnesses, but he wants documents even more

https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/15/politics/adam-schiff-witnesses-evidence-senate-impeachment-trial/index.html 
"I think there are any number of witnesses that should be called in the Senate trial, and many witnesses the American people would like to hear from that the administration has refused to make available," Schiff told ABC's "This Week." "And perhaps of equal and if not greater importance are the thousands and thousands of documents that the administration refuses to turn over. I would hope that every senator of both parties would like to see the documentary evidence."

https://edition.cnn.com/politics/live-news/trump-impeachment-live-01-15-2020/h_5d1bf0b078bdf547b15434318719ca8c
“Witnesses may tell the truth, and witnesses may not tell the truth. Documents don’t generally lie," said Schiff.

Witness wars

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/15/rand-paul-witness-votes-impeachment-099407
Rand Paul threatens fellow Republicans with explosive witness votes

More: https://www.thedailybeast.com/republicans-arent-sure-they-want-to-hear-from-hunter-biden
Republicans Aren’t Sure They Want to Hear From Hunter Biden

GOP nitwit says Dem senators running against Trump should "recuse" themselves from impeachment -- because they can't be "impartial." This is after McConnell, Graham, Paul, and other GOP colleagues have already announced that they will acquit Trump BEFORE ANY EVIDENCE, ARGUMENTS, OR WITNESSES HAVE BEEN PRESENTED

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-problem-blackburns-call-dem-recusals-trump-trial

Kevin Drum has caught it: you have to read Trump's tweets as direct messages to his base. They are revealing when you view them as guides to what he thinks they need to hear

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/16/extra-bonus-quote-of-the-day-546/
“I just got impeached for making a perfect phone call!”
          — President Trump

Lev Parnas was Rudy Giuliani's guy -- but now that he's talking, Rudy says, Don't believe him

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/giuliani-distances-himself-from-parnas-after-explosive-interview-believe-him-at-your-peril
Parnas also revealed that he and Giuliani had made a deal with Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash: Firtash would provide information useful to the Trump campaign in exchange for getting his criminal charges dismissed by the Justice Department. . .

[NB: How many quid pro quos WERE there?]

More: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/yup-trump-was-pressuring-ukraine-way-before-notorious-phone-call
Trump Was Pressuring Ukraine Way Before Notorious Phone Call  

If you didn't watch the Rachel Maddow interview, here is a good summary of what Parnas said

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/16/21068446/lev-parnas-maddow-trump-barr  

If any of Parnas's story is true, "a criminal cabal has infected the federal government"

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/01/16/has-a-criminal-cabal-infected-the-federal-government 

Why did Parnas flip?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/lev-parnas-i-felt-like-my-family-left-me
Parnas told The Daily Beast that his former friends’ reaction to his arrest has strengthened his resolve about speaking out. Parnas said that after he and his associate Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport on Oct. 9 and charged with campaign finance violations, he was disappointed with silence from Rudy Giuliani. He said that Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing – a Trump-friendly husband-wife legal team with deep and longstanding ties in Washington’s conservative legal world – also kept mum about their relationship with him. The silence, he said, left him feeling betrayed. “I felt like my family left me,” he said.

What's Parnas up to? https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/16/lev-parnas-revelations-trump-100216

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/16/lev-parnas-trump-impeachment-trial-099781

Jay Sekulow (Trump's lawyer) mediated an arrangement to have John Dowd (Trump's former lawyer) represent Parnas. The results are predictable

https://www.salon.com/2020/01/15/bombshell-new-lev-parnas-documents-blow-up-trumps-defense-days-ahead-of-senate-trial/
From Lev Parnas files:   

John [Dowd], I have discussed the issue of representation with the President. The President consents to allowing your representation of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman.  Jay Sekulow Counsel to the President  

And yet, Trump claims not to know Parnas & Fruman. 

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/16/parnas-says-ex-trump-lawyer-visited-him-in-jail/
Lev Parnas claimed on MSNBC that he was visited in jail by John Dowd, a former attorney for President Trump, who told him to cooperate and sacrifice himself for the president . . . “They tried to keep me quiet.” 

Robert Hyde gets a visit from the FBI

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/16/1911948/-FBI-pays-a-visit-to-man-who-bragged-about-creepy-scary-surveillance-of-Marie-Yovanovitch

Ukraine investigates what WE should be investigating

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/16/ukraine-opens-probe-into-giuliani-cronies/ 
“Ukrainian authorities said Thursday they had opened a criminal investigation into whether the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance by associates of Rudy Giuliani while in Kyiv last spring” . . . Said a Ukraine official: “Ukraine’s position is to not interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States… Ukraine cannot ignore such illegal activities on its territory.” . . . “In another move touching on the Trump impeachment, Ukraine said it was opening an investigation into reports that Russian hackers gained access to computers of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.” 

Here's the blueprint

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/parnas-ukraine-docs-trump-launders-lies-conservative-media.html
Lev Parnas handed over hundreds of pages of documents to congressional investigators  . . . The messages paint a deeply unflattering picture of Parnas, who is under federal indictment for campaign finance-related crimes, and are particularly damning for Rudy Giuliani . . .The conversations aren’t pretty, largely because they show a hapless crew of halfwits conniving in profoundly unsophisticated ways—ways that would ultimately get them caught—but they also show, with remarkable clarity, just how the Trump administration launders conspiracy, lies, and innuendo that it believes will further its interests.

In one illustrative instance, it starts with setting up an interview for Ukraine’s top prosecutor at the time Yuriy Lutsenko with a sympathetic journalist (John Solomon) . . . Among several different lines of disinformation, the whole Trump crew begins pushing the idea that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that somehow did the election meddling in 2016. Parnas and Giuliani are, in particular, looking to remove the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Obama apointee Marie Yovanovitch, as a favor to Lutsenko. In return for Yovanovitch’s ouster, Lutsenko has promised the pair dirt on the Bidens. . . . “On March 12, Parnas sent a letter from Solomon to Lutsenko requesting the interview and included a list of questions to be addressed . . .”

Then, as the Post describes, the Trump propaganda apparatus went into overdrive . . . [read on]

Devin Nunes said he didn't know Lev Parnas. Parnas said that was a lie. Now Nunes says . . .

https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/oh-yeah-devin-nunes-suddenly-remembers-lev

In other news . . .

Steve Bannon's disinformation strategy: when you "flood the zone with shit," nobody believes anything, except what they want to choose to believe. One commenter calls this an "epistemic crisis"

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/16/20991816/impeachment-trial-trump-bannon-misinformation

I really don't understand why respectable news shows keep putting Kellyanne Conway on the air

https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/why-kellyanne-conway-trending-twitter
It's not shocking that she lied, it's shocking that she's all of a sudden so bad at it.

More: https://www.thedailybeast.com/kellyanne-conway-melts-down-under-grilling-by-fox-news-on-lev-parnas
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked four times by Fox News on Thursday morning to “flat-out” refute claims from Rudy Guiliani associate Lev Parnas that President Donald Trump was fully “aware” of what he was up to in Ukraine. She didn’t give a straight answer once . . . “Remember, people who go on TV are never under oath.” 

Yep, the tax cut worked!

https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/16/trump-tax-cut-hands-32-billion-windfall-to-top-banks/
“Savings for the top six U.S. banks from President Trump’s signature tax overhaul accelerated last year, now topping $32 billion as the lenders curbed new borrowing, pared jobs and ramped up payouts to shareholders” . . .  

The Senate overwhelmingly passes NAFTA 2.0 -- 89-10

https://www.vox.com/2020/1/16/21067782/usmca-senate-vote-trump-nafta-2-0-canada-mexico

[NB: Here's who voted against it: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/478636-here-are-the-10-senators-who-voted-against-trumps-north-american-trade-deal] 

What Putin wants

https://www.axios.com/vladimir-putin-russia-term-limits-president-350e88b8-ead3-4a9a-aca7-0817138cfe5e.html
Putin aims to join the world's leaders for life

More: https://www.thedailybeast.com/did-vladimir-putins-prime-minister-dmitry-medvedev-drop-a-grim-hint-about-putins-latest-power-grab
At a celebration of the Russian Orthodox New Year on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chose a grim message, the sarcasm of which left his audience on edge. But, then, Medvedev probably knew what Wednesday would bring—the resignation of his entire government . . . [read on] 

Progressive groups rush to heal the growing Sanders-Warren rift before it gets any worse

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/16/progressive-unity-sanders-warren-camps-099584
Launching what they called a “Progressives Unite 2020” campaign, the political action committee Democracy for America and 17 other groups pledged to “focus our fight for the nomination against candidates supported by the corporate wing, instead of fighting each other.” . . . Launching what they called a “Progressives Unite 2020” campaign, the political action committee Democracy for America and 17 other groups pledged to “focus our fight for the nomination against candidates supported by the corporate wing, instead of fighting each other.” . . .

The pure politics of it: https://politicalwire.com/2020/01/16/why-warren-needs-to-get-tough-with-sanders/  

Who is a "progressive"?

https://www.axios.com/biden-buttigieg-2020-presidential-elections-c24ba640-04a9-4b5f-9f7f-825515610205.html
Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are considered the leading 2020 Democratic moderates, but even they have taken positions to the left of Barack Obama — illuminating the liberal drift of the entire party. . . . 

People forget Bernie's truly radical past, when he said and did a lot of things that will certainly come up in a general election (some on video). They will make him look like a madman

https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-iran-took-americans-hostage-bernie-backed-irans-defenders
As Democrat Socialists condemned Khomeini’s hostage taking, Sanders stood with a communist party that condemned “Carter’s war drive against the Iranian people.” . . .

Bonus item: Highly recommended: "The Good Place," the first TV show about PHILOSOPHY


https://www.nbc.com/the-good-place

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