Tuesday Reads: The Latest News with RabbitsPosted: November 5, 2019
So much is happening.
Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee released two transcripts of State Department Officials who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, Marie Yovanovich and Michael McKinley. Today, the Committee will release two more transcripts from Kurt Volker and Gordon Sundland. CBS is providing live updates on the transcript releases and the impeachment inquiry generally. None of this is looking good for Trump.
Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: So this is why Trump doesn’t want officials to testify.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) released the first batch of transcripts Monday from the closed-door depositions, including that of Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her post by President Trump at the urging of his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Yovanovitch detailed a Hollywood-ready tale about how Giuliani and two of his now-indicted goons hijacked U.S. foreign policy as part of a clownish consortium that also included Sean Hannity and a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor. Their mission: to oust the tough-on-corruption U.S. ambassador who threatened to frustrate Giuliani’s plans to get Ukraine to come up with compromising material on Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.
Mike Pompeo has a cameo as the feckless secretary of state who refuses to stand up for his diplomat out of fear of setting off an unstable Trump. It all culminated in a 1 a.m. call from State’s personnel director telling Yovanovitch to get on the next flight out of Kyiv. Why? “She said, ‘I don’t know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately.’ ”
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Also at the Post, Greg Sargent writes: The scope of Trump’s corruption is mind-boggling. New developments show how.
At this point, the broad contours of the Ukraine scandal are well understood. President Trump appears to have used hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money appropriated as military aid to extort a vulnerable ally into helping him rig the 2020 election on his behalf.
But there are two other aspects of this scandal that need elaboration. The first is the degree to which this whole scheme is corrupting multiple government agencies and effectively placing them at the disposal of Trump’s reelection effort.
The second is that two of the scheme’s goals — getting Ukraine to validate a conspiracy theory absolving Russia of 2016 sabotage, and to manufacture smears of one of Trump’s leading 2020 rivals — are really part of the same story. At the core of this narrative is Trump’s continuing reliance on foreign help in corrupting our democracy to his advantage, through two presidential elections, and the covering up of all of it.
Much more at the link.
More suggested reads on Ukraine/impeachment:
The New York Times: Pompeo Faces Political Peril and Diplomats’ Revolt in Impeachment Inquiry.
Grant Stern at Occupy Democrats: Key impeachment witness transcript reveals Trump Jr.’s role in setting up Ukraine-Biden dirt plot.
Rand Paul is calling on the media to print the name of the Ukraine Whistle blower. Greg Olear writes about Paul’s transformation into a Trump/Russia stooge at Medium: Red Paul: The Senator from Kentucky is Now Working for Vladimir Putin.
Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: On Ukraine, Trump Is a Con Man, but He’s Also a Mark.
Aaron Rupar at Vox: Trump’s responses to the impeachment inquiry are becoming increasingly incoherent.
In New York, two significant players in the Ukraine scandal were in court yesterday, and one of them, Lev Parnas, is talking to impeachment investigators.
The New York Times: Lev Parnas, Giuliani Associate, Opens Talks With Impeachment Investigators.
The associate, Lev Parnas, had previously resisted speaking with investigators for the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings, which are examining the president’s pressure attempts in Ukraine. A former lawyer for Mr. Trump was then representing Mr. Parnas.
But since then, Mr. Parnas has hired new lawyers who contacted the congressional investigators last week to notify them to “direct any future correspondence or communication to us,” according to a copy of the letter.
The lawyers also signaled on Monday that Mr. Parnas, who was arrested last month on campaign finance charges, is prepared to comply with a congressional subpoena for his documents and testimony.
Mr. Parnas, a Ukrainian-born American citizen who was central to Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump’s rivals, could offer Congress a vein of information about the efforts in Ukraine.
“We are willing to comply with the subpoena to the extent that it does not violate any appropriate privilege that Mr. Parnas may properly invoke,” said Joseph A. Bondy, who along with Edward B. MacMahon, Jr. now represents Mr. Parnas.
Mr. Bondy said that given the federal criminal charges, his client may invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate himself.
Parnas was angered by Trump’s claims that he doesn’t even know who the Giuliani pal is.
“Mr. Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him,” said Mr. Bondy, whose client has maintained that he has had extensive dealings with the president.
After federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced charges against Mr. Parnas and three other men, Mr. Trump told reporters that he did not know Mr. Parnas or Igor Fruman, another Giuliani associate who also worked to help Mr. Trump in Ukraine and was among those charged with campaign finance violations. The two men had contributed extensively to political committees supporting Mr. Trump and appeared with the president in pictures posted on social media.
More big news should come out soon, since Roger Stone goes on trial today. NPR: Roger Stone, Trump Friend And Alleged Tie To WikiLeaks, Faces Trial In Washington.
President Trump’s friend and political adviser Roger Stone is set to go on trial Tuesday in a proceeding that could reveal just how close Trump world got to the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Jury selection is scheduled to commence following months of unusual public silence from Stone, who has been gagged by the judge in his case following a flap this year over his posts on social media.
Stone pleaded not guilty in January after a grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned an indictment with one count of obstructing a proceeding, five counts of making false statements to Congress and one count of witness tampering — because prosecutors allege that he tried to persuade another witness to lie to Congress too.
Stone and some of his associates may have been links in a chain that connected Trump in New York City with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, who at the time had confined himself in the Ecuadorian Embassy there.
Assange, in turn, was in contact with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, which had stolen a trove of embarrassing material from political targets in the United States.
WikiLeaks released many of those emails and other documents with disruptive effects on political life in the U.S. — and enjoyed public encouragement by Trump and his campaign.
What Mueller’s investigation revealed was how much Trump and aides worked to get more.
More Roger Stone reads to check out:
Michael Isakoff: Roger Stone’s trial could hang on a comedian’s drunken texts.
Politico: The Idiot’s Guide to the Roger Stone trial.
There’s also a primary campaign going on. Some interesting stories about that:
The Post and Courier: Tom Steyer aide resigns after stealing Kamala Harris’ SC 2020 volunteer data.
COLUMBIA — A South Carolina aide for Tom Steyer’s 2020 presidential campaign stole valuable volunteer data collected by Kamala Harris’ campaign using an account from when he worked with the S.C. Democratic Party, according to multiple state and national party officials.
The Steyer campaign said that it does not have possession of the data and that Democratic officials were only aware of the download, which they said was inadvertent, because they proactively notified them. Both the Democratic National Committee and S.C. Democratic Party denied that.
The Democratic National Committee said they quickly caught the attempt on Friday by Steyer’s deputy S.C. state director Dwane Sims to export Harris’ data, which contained thousands of volunteer contacts collected over the course of the campaign in this critical early-voting primary state.
Read more at the link. This reminds me of how Bernie Sanders’ campaign stole data from Hillary Clinton and then sued the DNC for suspending their access to data for a short time.
Also in South Carolina, the Post and Courier reports that Elizabeth Warren appears to be planning to basically cede the state’s primary: Elizabeth Warren is having a moment, but will it translate into South Carolina momentum?
Warren has yet to secure any major endorsements here. Her visits have been sporadic at best.
The visit, which included a walking tour of the neighborhood, also never appeared on Mobilize America, a website that serves as a centralized system for Democratic and progressive campaigns to post about upcoming events.
When Warren was invited to speak at the Charleston County Democratic Party’s Blue Jamboree, she declined, despite the urging of multiple South Carolina Democratic leaders.
“I think she’s conceded the state,” said Charleston County Democratic Party Chair Colleen Condon. “It’s very disappointing.”
That isn’t likely to help her standing with African American voters. Kamala Harris seems to be conceding New Hampshire to focus on Iowa, but that isn’t surprising since either Warren or Sanders is likely to win there.
Bill Barr continues to act as Trump’s personal attorney. Now he’s trying to smoke out the name of the anonymous staffer who wrote a NYT op-ed that he or she has now turned into a book.
The Justice Department is looking for identifying details about the anonymous Trump administration official who excoriated the president’s “amorality” in an unsigned New York Times opinion column last year, according to a letter the agency sent Monday.
The author of the column, whose identity has remained a secret for more than a year, has also written a tell-all book that will publish this month — and Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt wants proof that the writer is not bound by a government nondisclosure agreement.
Either that, Hunt wrote in the letter, or the book’s publisher and the author’s agents should turn over the official’s employment information: where in the government the person worked, and when he or she worked there. If the official had access to classified information, Hunt warned, the book should be “submitted for pre-publication review.”
The book has been billed as the behind-the-scenes sequel to the searing column, which described a White House in dangerous disarray and an internal “resistance” force that sought to thwart Trump’s “misguided impulses.” The Times identified the author only as “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” The book will list the author as “Anonymous.”
I’ve only scratched the surface of today’s news. What stories have you been following?