Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: November 16, 2019
Yesterday was quite a day in Washington DC. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich testified in an open impeachment hearing yesterday, and at the end the audience rose and applauded her. Republicans were not pleased.
After the open session, another State Department official testified that he had heard Trump loudly asking about the “investigations” he had pressured Ukraine to do for him. During her testimony, Trump attacked Yovanovich in a tweet, committing witness intimidation in real time and possibly adding another article of impeachment.
Also during the hearing, long-time Trump pal and rat-fucker Roger Stone was found guilty of 7 felonies.
The Washington Post: Roger Stone guilty on all counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson set Stone’s sentencing for Feb. 6 and allowed him to remain free until then. Stone faces a legal maximum penalty of 50 years in prison — 20 years for the witness tampering charge and five years for each of the other counts, although a first offender would face far less time under federal sentencing guidelines.
After the impeachment open session, another State Department official testified that he had heard Trump loudly asking about the “investigations” he had pressured Ukraine to do for him.
The Washington Post: A Friday night surprise: David Holmes throws a wrench in Trump’s impeachment defense. Aaron Blake outlines the “key points in Holmes’ opening statement:
At three distinct points, we have seen [Ambassador Gordon] Sondland’s testimony called into question. The first time was when other witnesses said he talked about a quid pro quo with Ukrainian officials on July 10, which Sondland soon confirmed via clarified testimony. The second was this week, when Taylor disclosed that Holmes had overheard a Sondland call with Trump on July 26 that Sondland had failed to mention and in which Trump asked about the investigations he was asking for. “Sondland will address any issues that arise from this in his testimony next week,” his lawyer said Wednesday.
More key points at the link. Sondland will testify next week, and he may be in danger of a perjury charge.
Nancy Pelosi had some harsh words for Trump in an interview with CBS News: Nancy Pelosi says Trump’s attacks on witnesses “very significant” to impeachment probe.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that President Trump’s ongoing attacks on witnesses in the impeachment probe — including his tweets about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Friday — are “very significant” as the impeachment probe progresses.
“Why do you think he was tweeting about her?” Brennan asked Pelosi, in reference to Mr. Trump’s tweets during Yovanovitch’s testimony Friday.
She added, “Of course, presidents appoint ambassadors, but people don’t insult people, especially when they’re giving testimony before the Congress of the United States. I think even his most ardent supporters have to honestly admit this is the wrong thing for the president to do.” [….]
“He should not frivolously throw out insults, but that’s what he does. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter. I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else,” she added.
Wow! That’s exactly what he is–an imposter. (Emphasis added)
Yesterday Trump released the first call he had with Ukraine president Zelensky so Devin Nunes could read it at the Yovanovich hearing, but it didn’t really help his case. Trump’s advisers had recommended that he talk about corruption with Zelensky, but Trump never mentioned it. Politico reports:
White House national security advisers suggested President Donald Trump raise the broad issue of corruption in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 21, but Trump chose not to, according to a person familiar with the matter.
One of Republicans’ central defenses in the impeachment inquiry has been that Trump cares deeply about corruption in Ukraine, which is why he asked Zelensky in July to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings with the country.
That the president did not adhere to his National Security Council’s advice to discuss corruption with Zelensky during their April call appears to undermine those claims.
Late last night, Vicky Ward broke more news at CNN: Exclusive: After private White House meeting, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas said he was on a ‘secret mission’ for Trump, sources say.
Among the many guests who had their pictures taken with President Donald Trump at the White House’s annual Hanukkah party last year were two Soviet-born businessmen from Florida, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
In the picture, which Parnas posted on social media, he and Fruman are seen smiling alongside Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer.At one point during the party that night, Parnas and Fruman slipped out of a large reception room packed with hundreds of Trump donors to have a private meeting with the President and Giuliani, according to two acquaintances in whom Parnas confided right after the meeting.Word of the encounter in the White House last December, which has not been previously reported, is further indication that Trump knew Parnas and Fruman, despite Trump publicly stating that he did not on the day after the two men were arrested at Dulles International Airport last month.
Parnas told friends that Trump had sent him on a “James Bond”-type secret mission.
Eventually, according to what Parnas told his confidants, the topic turned to Ukraine that night. According to those two confidants, Parnas said that “the big guy,” as he sometimes referred to the President in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.To Parnas, the chain of command was clear: Giuliani would issue the President’s directives while Parnas, who speaks fluent Russian, would be an on-the-ground investigator alongside Fruman, who has numerous business contacts in Ukraine.“Parnas viewed the assignment as a great crusade,” says one of the people in whom Parnas confided. “He believed he was doing the right thing for Trump.”
A couple more stories before I wrap this up:
The scariest Attorney General we’ve ever seen gave a very creepy speech last week. The New York Times: Barr Suggests Impeachment Inquiry Undermines Voters’ Intent.
Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday vigorously defended President Trump’s use of executive authority and suggested that House Democrats were subverting the will of voters by exploring whether to remove the president from office for abusing his power.
Mr. Trump campaigned on a vow to upend Washington, and voters were aware of his agenda when they elected him president, Mr. Barr said.
“While the president has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook and punctilio, he was up front about what he wanted to do and the people decided they wanted him to serve as president,” Mr. Barr said in a speech at a conference hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group influential in Republican politics.
Mr. Trump’s opponents “essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government,” Mr. Barr added….
Speaking for an hour at the upscale Mayflower Hotel a few blocks from the White House, Mr. Barr hit back at the president’s critics on an array of fronts as he argued that Mr. Trump, in his capacity as president, has not overstepped his authority.
While Mr. Barr never uttered the word impeachment, he castigated those he sees as stalling Mr. Trump’s agenda. He defended the president’s right to set policies, steer the country’s diplomatic and military relations and keep executive branch conversations confidential from congressional oversight.
“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Mr. Barr said.
He noted that opponents labeled themselves “the resistance” immediately after Mr. Trump was elected and accused them of “using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.
President Obama warned Democratic presidential candidates about going too far left. The New York Times: Obama Says Average American Doesn’t Want to ‘Tear Down System.’
Former President Barack Obama offered an unusual warning to the Democratic primary field on Friday evening, cautioning the candidates not to move too far to the left in their policy proposals, even as he sought to reassure a party establishment worried about the electoral strength of their historically large primary field.
Speaking before a room of wealthy liberal donors, Mr. Obama urged Democrats to remember the long, combative slog of his primary campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2008, arguing that the 16 month battle ultimately made him a stronger general election candidate.
“For those who get stressed about robust primaries, I just have to remind you I had a very robust primary,” he told the group of several hundred donors and organizational leaders in Washington. “I’m confident that at the end of the process we will have a candidate that has been tested.”
Yet, he also raised concerns about some of the liberal ideas being promoted by some candidates, citing health care and immigration as issues where the proposals may have gone further than public opinion.
While Mr. Obama did not single out any specific primary candidate or policy proposal, he cautioned that the universe of voters that could support a Democratic candidate — Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans — are not driven by the same views reflected on “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party.”
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr. Obama said. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”
I have to say I agree with Obama. I think candidates should be focusing on the damage Trump has done and will continue to do if he gets a second term.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?