Monday, September 30, 2019

When Presidents Go Wild: Lawyers Express Concern for Whistleblower's Safety

Mod: Now who exactly would be threatening the safety of this witness? Could it be President Whistle Blown-Upon? You only get one guess.

Lawyers express concern for whistleblower's safety (The Hill link): Lawyers representing the whistleblower behind the explosive complaint involving President Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine's president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden expressed concern for their client's safety in a letter to lawmakers released Sunday.

In a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and others, lawyers representing the whistleblower said they had "serious concerns for our client's personal safety, as well as for others connected to this matter." They called on lawmakers "to speak out in favor of whistleblower protection and reiterate that this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied." The lawyers also attached correspondence with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire thanking him for his supportive words during his testimony and expressing concerns for their client.

"60 Minutes," which first obtained the letter, originally reported that the contents suggested the whistleblower was under federal protection. However, lawyer Mark Zaid said in a statement to The Hill that the news outlet "completely misinterpreted the contents of our letter."

The whistleblower's complaint, which was released to the public on Thursday, is at the center of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Trump and his allies have sought to discredit the complaint and the whistleblower behind it. The president on Sunday tweeted that the person who filed the complaint should be outed and that they will face "Big Consequences."

Mod: It appears that he needs witness protection from the threats of President Whistle Blown-Upon.

Trump demands to meet whistleblower, warns of 'big consequences' (MSN.com link): President Trump on Sunday evening called for the outing of a whistleblower and railed against other individuals, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), at the center of a growing scandal involving his phone call with Ukraine's president, warning there could be "Big Consequences." "Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called 'Whistleblower,' represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way. Then Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress," Trump said in a series of tweets.

"His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber," he continued before adding that he wants Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, "questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason."

"In addition," he added, "I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the 'Whistleblower.' Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!"

Mod: Needless to say, President Whistle Blown-Upon is very poorly rated.

CBS News poll: Majority of Americans and Democrats approve of Trump impeachment inquiry (CBS News link): More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. But as the inquiry begins, there is no national consensus on how to assess the president's actions.

Partisans have immediately and predictably split: most Democrats call the president's handling of matters with Ukraine illegal, and deserving of impeachment.

Most Republicans call his actions proper — or, even if improper, then still legal — and feel they're an example of things that past presidents typically did, too. Most Americans think that because Congress is now taking up the matter, it will be unable to work on other issues.

Almost nine in 10 Democrats approve of the inquiry, and two-thirds strongly approve. Prior to the inquiry, some had wondered if taking up impeachment proceedings might divide a Democratic rank-and-file that has been long concerned with other policies like health care and guns. However, these findings suggest that it this is not the case: most moderate Democrats side with liberal Democrats in supporting impeachment proceedings. Of those who say they voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2018, nine in 10 feel this inquiry is necessary.

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Trump campaign launches anti-impeachment blitz on Facebook, targeting four minority congresswomen

Mod: These kinds of retrograde and racist sentiments could possibly violate "Facebook Community Standards" if there wasn't quite so much advertising money involved.

Trump campaign launches anti-impeachment blitz on Facebook, targeting four minority congresswomen (Washington Post link): President Trump’s reelection campaign responded to the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry in Congress by launching a massive Facebook ad blitz, spending as much as $1.4 million on thousands of ads designed to reach voters in every state.

The online battery included misleading messages about the “socialist squad,” Trump’s epithet for the four congresswomen of color whom he previously directed to “go back” to their home countries, even though they are all American citizens.

Some of the ads accused the freshman lawmakers of making “pro-terrorist remarks,” which they have not done, and pressed supporters to join Trump’s “official impeachment defense fund,” which he has also promoted in fundraising appeals sent by email and text message. The “squad” refers to Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), none of whom was mentioned by name.

In total, the Trump campaign and its backers spent between $346,700 and $1,430,182 on more than 2,000 ads for its Facebook page from Monday to midday Friday, according to data analyzed by Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. She obtained the data through Facebook’s public ad archive, which reports all of its data in ranges, not precise figures. Those ads had been viewed between 13.3 million and 25.3 million times, the NYU analysis found.

On Tuesday and Wednesday alone, the campaign shelled out about $500,000 on Facebook ads, according to figures tallied by ACRONYM, a digital outfit focused on liberal causes. On Wednesday alone it spent about $350,000, an amount it typically spends in a week.

The online offensive offered a window into Trump’s bare-knuckle approach to the coming impeachment battles, as he took the showdown to his favored terrain: the Internet. Already, campaign officials say they have filled their coffers with contributions. Eric Trump, the president’s second son and the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said Thursday that the campaign had raised $8.5 million in the previous 24 hours.

The Facebook ads, which traffic in claims found to be false by The Washington Post Fact Checker, also provided a new test for the technology giant after it reaffirmed this week it would exempt speech by politicians from fact checking.

That exemption, company executives said, also applies to ads, though sponsored posts are required to meet community standards that proscribe threats as well as “content aimed at deliberately deceiving people to gain an unfair advantage or deprive another of money, property, or legal right.”

On Friday, Facebook said none of the ads violated its policies, including those that prohibit dehumanizing speech, though the company did not detail its reasoning. A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals - Plus More Treasongate News!

Mod: A roundup of some of the latest Treasongate news. Let's start with some insightful new revelations about a Russian asset known as the National Rifle Association.

NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals (NPR link): Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.

The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.

Then-NRA vice president Pete Brownell, who would later become NRA president, was enticed to visit Russia with the promise of personal business opportunities — and the NRA covered a portion of the trip's costs. The conclusions of the Senate investigation could have legal implications for the NRA, Wyden says.

Tax-exempt organizations are barred from using funds for the personal benefit of its officials or for actions significantly outside their stated missions. The revelations in the Senate report raise questions about whether the NRA could face civil penalties or lose its tax-exempt status.

Mod: This next story led to an immediate public outcry, and Mad Rudy was forced to cancel the trip. But that he would even consider such a thing is news enough.

Giuliani set to make paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference that includes Putin (Washington Post link): Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, is set to appear as a paid speaker at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia on Tuesday — an event expected to include the participation of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials.

Giuliani confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday that he plans to take part in a panel at the conference sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

According to an agenda for the event posted online, Giuliani is set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.

Giuliani’s decision to take part in the conference astounded national security experts. His scheduled appearance comes days after the release of a whistleblower complaint accusing Trump and Giuliani of pressuring Ukrainian officials for damaging information about Democrats.

Mod: More uncomfortable news for the Traitor In Chief.

Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn't concerned about Moscow's interference in U.S. election (Washington Post link): President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow's interference in the U.S. election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the day before had relieved "great pressure" on him.

A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president's comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The White House's classification of records about Trump's communications with foreign officials is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats. An intelligence community whistleblower has alleged that the White House placed a record of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president, in which he offered U.S. assistance investigating his political opponents, into a code-word classified system reserved for the most sensitive intelligence information. The White House did not provide a comment Friday.

White House restricted access to Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince (CNN link): White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump's conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter. Those calls -- both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump -- were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.

In the case of Trump's call with Prince Mohammed, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation. The call - which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets -- came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence assessments said came at the hand of the Saudi government.

Mod: Do you think Trump will do all he can to obey the following Kremlin request?  

Kremlin says it hopes U.S. won't release details of Putin-Trump calls (MSN.com link): The Kremlin said on Friday that it hoped that Washington would not release confidential details of phone calls between President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comment when asked about the White House's release of a reconstruction of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that has set off a U.S. domestic political storm.

Peskov said it was not normal diplomatic practice to release confidential details of such calls and that he hoped the bad state of ties with Washington would not lead to a similar situation arising in Russia's case. 


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Friday, September 27, 2019

NY Daily News: Unhinged Trump rips whistleblower as ‘maybe a spy,’ accuses sources of ‘treason’


Mod: That's one thing about Trump. He doesn't internalize his rage. Even threats that allude to the execution of "spies" are just fine for the gone wild Orange Narcissus.

Unhinged Trump rips whistleblower as ‘maybe a spy,’ accuses sources of ‘treason’ (New York Daily News link): The impeachment inquiry set President Trump off on a crazed rant in which he essentially accused a whistleblower and his or her sources of being spies and traitors.

“They’re almost a spy,” Trump reportedly said Thursday of the whistleblower, whose complaint prompted Democrats in Congress to announce the impeachment probe earlier this week.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” the president fumed in front of members of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in New York City, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

The tirade continued a pattern of Trump outlandishly — and baselessly — calling perceived opponents “traitors.” He used the term to smear ex-FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, among others.

This time, the president is targeting a whistleblower who raised alarm over Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate ex-veep Joe Biden and his son. The whistleblower’s bombshell report says White House officials sought to cover up a damning July phone call between the leaders by moving its transcript to a different computer server.

Staying true to form, Trump has also been on an almost non-stop Twitter rampage, stating in all caps Thursday morning: “The Democrats are trying to destroy the Republican Party and all that it stands for.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Trump Impeachment if President Suspended Ukraine Aid Over Biden Inquiry

Mod: You mean to say impeaching Trump for treason isn't a political plus for the Orange Madman?

New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Trump Impeachment if President Suspended Ukraine Aid Over Biden Inquiry (Newsweek link): A majority of Americans support impeaching President Donald Trump if he suspended military aid to Ukraine to pressure the foreign nation to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, according to a new poll.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump in response to the Ukraine controversy. If it's found that Trump did use his presidential power to force a foreign leader to help take down a political rival, 55 percent of U.S. adults said they would support removing him from office, according to a recent YouGov survey. Forty-four percent of those polled said they'd "strongly support" removing Trump if the allegations are true, while another 11 percent said they'd "somewhat support" it.

On the other side, 20 percent of adults surveyed said they'd "strongly oppose" impeaching Trump for such an action, and 6 percent said they'd "somewhat oppose" it. The survey showed support for impeachment was largely partisan, with 66 percent of those who "strongly support" removing Trump identifying as Democrat. Just 22 percent who "strongly support" impeachment were Republican. The poll was conducted on Tuesday, the same day the House of Representatives launched its formal impeachment inquiry. It's just the fourth time in U.S. history that a president has faced a serious risk of being removed from office.

House Democrats Now Have Enough Votes To Impeach Donald Trump (PoliticusUSA link): A majority of the House of Representatives now supports the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump for high crimes against his country.

Politico reported, “A majority of the House now backs impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a significant milestone as Democrats move rapidly on an impeachment inquiry. As of Wednesday night, 218 lawmakers have indicated support for impeachment proceedings — 217 Democrats and independent Rep. Justin Amash.”

Trump has no hope of surviving an impeachment vote in the House. Fear is the only thing stopping a majority of Senate Republicans from supporting the president’s removal from office. When vote on articles of impeachment arrives in the House, the outcome is already known.

Donald Trump will be the third president in US history to have been impeached.

'30 Republican Senators Would Vote To Impeach Trump' If Vote Was Secret, GOP Consultant Claims (Newsweek link): Prominent GOP consultant Mike Murphy claimed on Wednesday that he was told by a Republican senator that the majority of Republican senators "would vote to impeach" President Donald Trump if they could do so anonymously.

"These Senate Republicans, should the Democrats vote impeachment, which is far more likely than not, are going to be pinned down to a yes/no answer," Murphy, who previously advised Republican politicians including Mitt Romney, John McCain and Jeb Bush, said in an interview with MSNBC.

"The politics of it will get worse and worse for Trump," the Republican political consultant, who has long been critical of Trump, said.

On Tuesday, Murphy published an op-ed in The Washington Post, urging lawmakers to pursue Trump's impeachment following revelations that the president had pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of the president's political opponent, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Joe Scarborough lays out damning case against president in terms simple enough for Trump fans to understand

Mod: You have these Trumpers who are dumb enough to believe the myth that being impeached for treason will somehow become a political plus for the Orange Madman. Hopefully Joe Scarborough can somehow convince them that the truth is otherwise.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough lays out damning case against president in terms simple enough for Trump fans to understand (Raw Story link): MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough busted President Donald Trump’s claims about Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine as exactly wrong.

The president has insisted that he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate the former vice president’s diplomatic efforts in the country as a possible case of corruption, but the “Morning Joe” host said Biden, not Trump, had been trying to root out a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor.

“The Trump administration is hoping that Americans are so ignorant that they actually believe the investigator was fired by Joe Biden because he was looking into a company that Biden’s son was attached to,” Scarborough said. “The reality, and if you can go into this a little bit, the reality is that the (International Monetary Fund) and other Western leaders wanted this investigator fired in part because — critical point here, critical point, everybody, wait for it Trump fans — because there was a concern he was not investigating that company and others aggressively enough.”

Scarborough said the facts already laid out in the past week’s reporting are damning enough, even before a transcript or whistleblower complaint are released showing what Trump actually said to his Ukrainian counterpart. “He would never say on the phone call there was a quid pro quo,” Scarborough said, “but we have facts in front of us.”

“We have congress passing $391 million of support, military support for Ukraine, after they have attacked and Donald Trump has attacked Barack Obama for years for not sending that sort of defense weaponry to Ukraine,” he added, “and then Donald Trump decides in the middle of July suddenly to tell Mick Mulvaney, ‘Hey, kill that, we’re not going to send it over to them. If anybody asks, just say it’s interagency mumbo jumbo.'”

“Then suddenly he talks eight times to the president of Ukraine,” Scarborough concluded, “eight times saying, you need to work with my personal lawyer. They have a good conversation, he apparently gets reassurances and then what happens, the $391 million is released. I can tell you, not only in the court of law, but I would suggest among American citizens, that’s pretty strong evidence.”



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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Traitor Tot: Speaker Pelosi ‘swatted down’ Trump’s request to ‘work something out’ on whistleblower

Mod: It looks like somebody is scared. So scared that they begged for mercy.

Speaker Pelosi ‘swatted down’ Donald Trump’s request to ‘work something out’ on whistleblower (Raw Story link): President Donald Trump sought to work something out with Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a Tuesday phone call, but she reportedly shot the offer down. The phone call was reported by NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla on “The Beat” with Ari Melber.

“I got a readout on that. That the president actually said to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint? Can we work something out?’ And she said, ‘Yes, you can tell your people to obey the law.’ So she quickly swatted that down and made it clear that it is full steam ahead,” Przybyla reported.

BREAKING: Unanimous consent in Senate... just passed... no Republican objections...


On impeachment, the worm has turned (Washington Post link):  The worm has turned.

For months, Democrats agonized over whether to impeach President Trump. Would it cause them to lose House seats? Would it hurt their chances of winning the Senate? Wasn’t it pointless because of the near certainty the GOP Senate wouldn’t convict him? But Trump just made the Democrats’ choice for them. He left them no alternative but to proceed with impeachment — and they will.

The president admitted Tuesday that he withheld congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine just days before a phone call with the Ukrainian president in which he demanded Ukraine produce dirt on Trump’s likeliest Democratic opponent. That, on its face, is a flagrant abuse of power and nearly identical to the behavior, denied by Trump, at the core of the Russia investigation: seeking a foreign government’s help in a U.S. election.

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Legal Experts Predict Ivanka Trump Will Be Indicted On Fraud Charges In New York

Mod: In time each member of the Trump Crime Family will end up in the pokey. But Princess Ivanka could be the first to go, with daddy having no pardon power over her state crimes.

Legal Experts Predict Ivanka Trump Will Be Indicted On Fraud Charges In New York (Deep Left Field link): Even though she serves as an adviser to her father — who just so happens to be president — Ivanka Trump has kept a relatively low profile since Donald Trump was elected. But it now appears that she’s about to be in the spotlight whether she likes it or not, and part of that attention may well be appearances in court.

Some background information is needed, and it was provided by ProPublica, which published a piece late last year entitled “Pump and Trump.” That incredible piece of investigative journalism revealed that Ivanka has repeatedly misrepresented the value of Trump properties over the years:

“In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California; Panama City, Panama; Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood. These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.”

Not only are Ivanka’s actions unethical as hell, they’re also illegal and constitute criminal fraud. That kind of financial fraud can be charged under both federal and state law. And it will be, as former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman told Law & Crime:

“If Ivanka knowingly and intentionally made false representations to investors that were material to the investors’ decision to invest in one of her real estate projects, then that is the crime of wire fraud (or, potentially, securities fraud, depending on what instrument the investment was). The knowledge and intent is what makes it criminal fraud.”

Another former federal prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega, concurred with Goldman, noting: “A pattern of knowing false statements to real estate investors exposes perpetrators to multiple counts of bank, wire, and mail fraud, depending on the means used to convey the false statements. It’s likely that such a scheme may also involve money laundering. Defendants convicted of such frauds are also sentenced to pay restitution to any investors who have suffered provable losses.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York appears most likely to pursue charges against Ivanka. But the attorney general for New York is also likely to go after Ivanka since she resides in Manhattan when she’s not in Washington “working” for daddy. And her father has zero pardon power over state crimes.

The entire Trump family is nothing but a criminal enterprise.

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GOP Presidential Challenger Bill Weld Calls for Death Penalty for Trump ‘Treason’ Over Ukraine

Mod: While the Democrats dither endlessly over whether to impeach Trump or not, GOP Presidential candidate Bill Weld has taken the 'treason' issue to a whole new level.

GOP Challenger Bill Weld Calls for Death Penalty for Trump ‘Treason’ Over Ukraine (Daily Beast link): Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential challenger Bill Weld said Monday that President Donald Trump’s “acts of treason” in pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden deserved the death penalty.

“That is treason. It’s treason pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death,” Weld told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “That’s the only penalty.”

Weld made the shocking statement in a joint appearance with fellow GOP presidential challengers Joe Walsh and Mark Sanford, who are protesting state Republican parties that have decided to cancel primaries to give the edge to the sitting president. “Obviously, canceling primaries undermines democratic institutions and democratic elections, but that’s far from the deepest dive crime that the president has committed here,” Weld said, referring to the growing calls for clarification about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and the withholding of military funds in the weeks before a July 25 call in which he admitted to discussing an investigation of Hunter Biden.

Semi Crazy
Mod: We all love polls, and here comes one now. You hear some grumpy Trumpers complain that opposition to the Orange Madman is nothing but hate. Well, it appears that they now have a much bigger problem.

Hate for Trump sets new record of Americans who can’t stand a president (Raw Story link): A new poll shows a record number of Americans can’t stand the president of the United States. According to the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal public opinion poll, an astounding 69 percent of Americans don’t like Trump personally.

During the early 2000s, President George W. Bush enjoyed the benefit of Americans finding him likable and wanting to “have a beer” with the sober leader. That measure of “likability” has been a kind of inspiration for political leaders searching for voters based not on issues but on personality.

In past elections, favorability of a candidate or leader was key to reelection, but in 2020, that may not be an important factor.

Political analysts have warned that Trump will likely fight his lack of favorability not by being a nicer or better person, but by dragging everyone else down to his level. Washington Post analyst Aaron Blake explained in July that the Trump campaign knows how to do this because it has already mastered it.

“Given Trump’s long-standing unpopularity, a big question has always been whether he will be able to take the eventual Democratic nominee and drag them down to his level,” Blake wrote. “He showed he could do it in 2016 with Hillary Clinton, who ended the campaign as unpopular as Trump was, but it’s not clear whether he’ll be able to do it again.”

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Consensus Grows that Ukraine Scandal Is an Impeachable Offense

Mod: Trump's claims that there never was any "foreign collusion" remain laughable. Truth is it never stopped.

Consensus Grows that Ukraine Scandal Is Impeachable Offense (Mother Jones link): Calls for impeachment grew louder Friday evening as new details regarding President Trump’s discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came to light.  “This is impeachable now,” congressional expert and historian Norm Ornstein tweeted Friday evening. “Right now.”

According to multiple news reports, President Trump has attempted to coerce the president of Ukraine into working with his personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, to investigate a political opponent, Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. To pressure the Ukrainian president, Trump withheld hundreds of millions in military aid until earlier this month. In one phone call in July, Trump reportedly pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden’s son about eight times.

The full details of the allegations, outlined in a whistleblower complaint that the Trump administration is currently withholding from Congress, are still unclear, but the emerging consensus is that, if true, the reported abuses surpass even those outlined in the Mueller Report on Russian interference in 2016.

“The current whistleblowing allegations, however, are even worse” than the conduct detailed in the Mueller report, Republican lawyer and Trump critic George Conway wrote in a Friday evening Washington Post op-ed co-written with Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration. “Unlike the allegations of conspiracy with Russia before the 2016 election, these concern Trump’s actions as president, not as a private citizen, and his exercise of presidential powers over foreign policy with Ukraine.” Further, they noted, “the White House is trying to shut down the entire inquiry from the start — depriving not just the American people, but even congressional intelligence committees, of necessary information.”

Trump’s foreign aid: Reporting suggests Trump is inviting foreign election interference again (New York Daily News link): Any normal president whose first three years in office were consumed by a probe into credible allegations that his campaign colluded with a foreign power and he then obstructed justice to thwart investigations into those entanglements might try being above board in further relations with other nations. Donald Trump is no normal president.

Last week, the political world reeled over reports of a supposed Trumppromise” to a foreign leader — which so shocked a high-ranking member of the intelligence community last month that he or she filed an “urgent concern" whistleblower complaint.

By law, such complaints “shall” be promptly relayed to Congress. Instead, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Bill Barr blocked the director of national intelligence from making a referral.

Further reporting suggests why: The complaint appears to include an allegation Trump himself, in communications with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, repeatedly pushed for the opening of an investigation into a company linked to Hunter Biden, younger son of Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. In 2016, then-Vice President Biden successfully pressed for the dismissal of a corrupt Ukraine prosecutor looking at a case against a company on whose board the younger Biden sat. Some $250 million in approved military aid may have been contingent on Zelensky’s cooperation.

Trump allies — notably his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — have been pressing Ukraine officials for months to reopen the Biden probe.

So, in a funhouse-mirror replay of 2016, Trump looks to be leveraging American taxpayer dollars to pressure a foreign power for political dirt on a political foe. Further, he’s using official resources to cover up evidence of this attempt. Trump dismisses the allegations as “ridiculous,” labeling the whistleblower as “partisan” while denying he knows who the person is.

Remind us again how this man is fit to lead the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

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