Friday, January 31, 2020


The Trump lawyers' defense comes closer and closer to saying that the president can do anything he wants -- without meaningful congressional oversight

[NB: Well, THIS president, anyway.]

Let me expand on that theme. The case the Trump lawyers are making can be seen, not only as a defense of Trump, but as a radical reformulation of the powers and accountability of the president 
Trump’s Lawyers’ Impeachment Defense Will Reshape the Office of the President 

We can all stop pretending Republicans want to preserve the republic. They don't
Senate Republicans make clear: It's not about Ukraine. It's about ending American democracy for good 
As I noted recently, in their efforts to defend the most corrupt president in this country’s history, they have attempted to destroy the whole concept of facts, evidence, and reason. . . . This isn’t about Joe Biden. What we have are Republicans who know the truth, but consciously decide to lie. When they are reminded of the truth, it has no impact: they simply double down on the lies. 

Conflicting information on what will happen with a witness vote -- but probably not

Lamar Alexander says No to witnesses because. . . .
“There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.”

In other investigation news . . .

Highlights from day two of questions

"Startling" "Breathtaking"
"We have just heard a breathtaking admission by the President's lawyer," [Schiff] said. "What the President's counsel said was that no foreign policy was being conducted by a private person here. . . ." Schiff continued. . . ."They have just undermined their entire argument," he added. "If Giuliani wasn't there conducting foreign policy, it must have been a "personal political errand."

Rand Paul once again tries to use his question to out the whistleblower -- and once again Chief Justice Roberts refuses to read it

Rand Paul names alleged whistleblower at press conference after John Roberts blocks his question

Alan Dershowitz tries to pretend he didn't say what he said yesterday about presidential power 

Mick who? 
Trump's defense lawyers try to memory-hole Mick Mulvaney's quid pro quo 'Get over it' 

Pam Bondi is a joke: her only reason for being on the defense team is that Trump likes pretty blondes and she protected him from state charges over the Trump University scam (after he gave her campaign $25,000)

Pam Bondi’s been a punchline during the impeachment trial. But her role speaks to something important.

Ah, of course 
Joe Biden should be impeached under a legal theory laid out by Alan Dershowitz, President Trump’s legal team argued at the end of the questioning phase of the Senate impeachment trial on Thursday. . . .

Looks like Lindsey was part of the Ukraine scam too 

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?
Justice Dept Says House Can Impeach Over Subpoenas

Trump sees acquittal, and responds just as you would expect 

“I’m not going to lose in this state. I don’t think I’m going to lose in any other state.”
           — President Trump

The Dems try to set up their post-impeachment messsage
Democrats seek to undermine Trump acquittal

These people have a moral handicap
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox News the coronavirus — which has killed 170 in China and infected more than 7,700 people — “will help” to bring jobs to the United States because companies will be moving operations away from impacted areas. . . .


How so-called "Christians" have sold out their values to defend Trump

Take this quiz and find your ideal candidate match

More from the Do-Nothing Dems
House votes to repeal Iraq war resolution and require congressional OK for using force against Iran

The Iowa caucuses are a quirky but charming example of state autonomy over primary procedures, a unique model of direct voter involvement, and an artifact of stiff-necked midwestern pride in their preferred ways of doing things. Problem is, nobody else understands them 
The political world is waiting with bated breath to see who will win next week’s Iowa Democratic caucuses. But there’s another surprisingly murky question: How will we even decide who wins? . . .

Almost Anything Could Happen In Iowa

Bonus item: Seth Meyers on Pam Bondi

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Thursday, January 30, 2020


It isn't that Trump lashes out at those who oppose him -- it's how he does it
President Donald Trump blew up at former National Security Adviser John Bolton . . . “For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, ‘begged’ me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying ‘Don’t do it, sir,’ takes the job, mistakenly says ‘Libyan Model’ on T.V., and many more mistakes of judgement,” Trump ranted via Twitter. “Gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book.” 

[NB: First, you not only hired him, you put him in one of the most crucial and sensitive positions in govt. Because he "begged" you? What does that say about your judgment? How do you know his book is nasty and untrue? Have you seen it? And who are you to accuse anyone of mendacity?]

Another loser, apparently:
Former White House chief of staff John Kelly on Monday evening said that if media accounts of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book are accurate, then he trusts the explosive claims made by his former colleague. “If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton . . . John’s an honest guy. He’s a man of integrity and great character, so we’ll see what happens.” 

[NB: They aren't blocking Bolton from testimony because they think he's going to lie -- it's because what he is saying is TRUE. With notes.]

A week ago today, Donald Trump said he’d like to see former National Security Advisor John Bolton, among others, testify at his Senate impeachment trial. That, of course, was before the public learned about the contents of Bolton’s upcoming book...

So let me see if I have this straight. John Bolton, according to the president, was basically an unaccomplished loser, with misguided instincts. The president was advised not to hire him, but he ignored the guidance, felt sorry for the pathetic hawk who struggled to find a real job, and put Bolton in an enormously powerful and influential position. In the months that followed, Trump proceeded to ignore the Bolton’s dangerous recommendations – even while publicly praising his work and leaving him in his position for a year and a half. Is Trump under the impression that this makes him look good? . . . 

Also note the president’s obligatory reference to Bolton having “begged” him for the White House job. It’s amazing the frequency with which people allegedly “beg” him: perusing the Trump Twitter Archive, the Republican has claimed that Mitt Romney begged him for a cabinet post, Omarosa Manigault begged him for a job, so did Steve Bannon, Bob Corker begged him for an endorsement, as did John McCain.

Now Trump demands that Bolton not publish the book at all
The White House has issued a formal threat to former national security adviser John Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, CNN reports. “The letter comes as President Trump attacks Bolton on Twitter and as Bolton’s lawyer accuses the White House of corrupting the vetting process for Bolton’s book by sharing the contents of the book with those outside the National Security Council’s Records Management Division.”

[NB: The book is going to be published. And with every act like this they guarantee it even more attention, better sales, and certify that they are SCARED TO DEATH of what's in it.]

[Ellen Knight, NSC senior director for records, access and information security management] claims the manuscript of Bolton’s book contains “significant amounts of classified information,” including information classified as “top secret.” . . .
[Bolton lawyer] Charles Cooper wrote in a letter, "We do not believe that any of that information could reasonably be considered classified, but given that Ambassador Bolton could be called to testify as early as next week, it is imperative that we have the results of your review of that chapter as soon as possible. Please do give me a call to let me know how we can work together toward that end." 

The new ploy: just lock the book up in procedures until AFTER the election

More Bolton revelations
In a statement Wednesday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel relayed that Bolton "strongly implied" in a Sept. 23 phone call with him that Trump's ouster of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was improper. “On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me — unprompted — that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” Engel said of a phone call between the two men. "He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.” . . .


In other investigation news . . . 

The search for the truth is HARD, isn't it?
“With the critical vote looming on Friday on whether to call new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans are coalescing around the idea that it is better to risk looking like they ignored relevant evidence than to plunge the Senate into an open-ended inquiry and anger President Trump . . . After a private party meeting on Tuesday, top Republicans were increasingly confident on Wednesday that they could hold off witnesses, according to people close to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who insisted on anonymity to characterize private discussions. And some were saying publicly that part of their reasoning was that allowing any witnesses would open the floodgates and tie up the Senate indefinitely, though the eventual outcome — Mr. Trump’s acquittal — remains the same.”

[NB: That ending line tells you everything. When you start with the conclusion you intend, evidence be damned, the process, facts, and witnesses don't matter any more. And the Repubs -- like Roy Blunt -- are SAYING this publicly. There would be a clear, fair, and balanced way to limit witnesses -- if they wanted witnesses at all.] 

Is Trump's fight to block relevant witnesses making the obstruction case stronger?
“It could very well! I think it’s a real problem when President Trump starts attacking every witness that is supposed to come here… Quite frankly, some people would argue it shows his guilt under Article Two.”  

This is a sharp analysis: the so-called GOP "moderates" are most likely to vote for witnesses -- but they also have the most to lose because if (when) damning evidence does come out, it will make it all the harder for them to vote to acquit

McConnell wants a vote to acquit Friday night: 

Could there be a TIE on witnesses? Would that leave it to the Chief Justice to decide?

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has blocked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) from using questions at President Trump’s impeachment trial to reveal the name of a person thought to be the Ukraine whistleblower . . .  

The two sides take questions from the audience -- and it doesn't go well for Trump's lawyers  

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) pitched President Donald Trump’s lawyers a curve ball Wednesday . . . The senators asked if Trump ever mentioned the Bidens in connection to corruption in Ukraine before the former Vice President announced his candidacy for president in April 2019. Deputy Counsel to the President Patrick Philbin struggled to defuse the loaded question . . . [read on]
The campaign to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Trump’s political opponents began earlier than some senators had suggested, a lawyer for Trump said on Wednesday, bear-hugging Rudy Giuliani in what appears to be the deepest defense Trump’s team has offered of the President’s outside lawyer’s conduct. . . . [read on]
Trump Lawyer Says Seeking Foreign Help In Elections Isn’t Illegal If Information Is ‘Credible’ . . .[read on]
Later, an attorney for Trump laid out a conception of executive power so startlingly broad, it outstripped even the president's fiercest defenders. And two key Republican senators hinted that they are skeptical about a central tenet of Trump’s defense against the impeachment articles. . . [read on]
Senators pelt Trump’s lawyers and impeachment managers with questions
Team Trump Trips Over GOP Questions
5 Most Notable Moments From Senate Trial’s First Day Of Questioning

A big issue in Trump's abuse of power is that he was pressuring Ukraine not in the nation's interests, but in his own interests, helping his re-election. BUT, Alan Dershowitz opines, in a laughable bit of sophistry: What if he thinks his own re-election IS in the national interest?

More absolute nonsense from AD:

More goalpost-moving
Ted Cruz now: Quid pro quo “doesn’t matter.” Ted Cruz before: Quid pro quo talk is “hearsay.” [read on] 

Nothing to see here, move along
Trump’s legal team gave thousands in contributions to Republican senators ahead of impeachment trial
In other news . . . 

Trump signs the "bipartisan" USMCA -- without a single Democrat present  

Trump said there were no injuries from the missile attack on a US base in retaliation for killing Soleimani. Then it was 10. Then it was 34. Now it's 50

[NB: And no, not just "headaches". Brain injuries.] 

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Segment Of Trump’s Border Wall Falls Over Into Mexico Due To Wind 

The Boy Genius
Kushner Says He’s ‘Read 25 Books’ on Middle East 

More trouble for Trump in Fox World
What happens when Trump loses?
Democrats fear Trump and his aides won’t meet, share documents or otherwise cooperate in a handover of power. . . . [read on]

Trump really does have a remarkable, state-of-the-art data operation. But it never ceases to amaze me that these folks, the paranoiacs, the gun nuts, the deep state conspiracists, the theocrats, and the tin-foil hat wearers, would go CRAZY if they thought the government was secretly collecting this information about them. But it's fine with them that Trump does it!
“If you attend an evangelical or a Catholic Church, a women’s rights march or a political rally of any kind, especially in a seriously contested state, the odds are that your cellphone ID number, home address, partisan affiliation and the identifying information of the people around you will be provided by geofencing marketers to campaigns, lobbyists and other interest groups.”

Trump supporters are buying black votes

Martha McSally in Arizona was always going to face a tough re-election campaign. It just got tougher

Those Do-Nothing Dems just keep doing things
House Democrats Unveil Infrastructure Plan

The case for Biden
For a Democrat to beat President Donald Trump in 2020 and to have a shot at retaking the Senate, they’ll have to win in places Hillary Clinton lost. Democrats who’ve done it before want former Vice President Joe Biden to be the nominee. . . .

Bonus item: Jimmy Fallon plays Trump in a very New York exchange with Michael Bloomberg

***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 ( 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.***