Lazy Caturday Reads: Unleashed Trump Begins PurgePosted: February 8, 2020
Have you heard? Good ol’ Susan Collins “says she opposes any retribution against impeachment witnesses.”
Sen. Susan Collins on Friday defended her decision to vote to acquit President Trump during his Senate impeachment trial this week, but she declined to respond to questions later in the day about the sudden ouster of two key impeachment witnesses who testified against the president.
In her first public appearance in Maine since the trial ended Wednesday, Collins spoke at a chiefs of police conference in South Portland before answering questions from the media in which she condemned the notion of retribution against witnesses who came forward and defended her voting record.
By the end of the day, the Trump administration had removed Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, both of whom worked for the National Security Council in the White House. Later Friday, European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced that he was being recalled to Washington. Sondland and Alexander Vindman testified during the House impeachment hearings against Trump.
“I think it’s important to understand that when you’re in an impeachment trial, you consider the evidence that is before you,” Collins, a Republican, said after an event in South Portland. “You don’t try to make predictions. You consider the evidence that’s before you. In this case, the evidence did not meet the high bar that’s established by the Constitution for immediate removal of the president from office. So that was the basis for my decision.”
She then added: “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence.”
Poor Susan. How was she supposed to know that Trump would act like Trump? Read more at the Portland Press Herald link above.
Trump’s push to remove Sondland and Vindman — and to exact punishment on other figures involved in the nearly five-month impeachment process — underscored how his fixation with settling scores is outweighing any effort to move on to less divisive issues in the wake of his acquittal.
Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also removed from his job at the National Security Council, where he worked as a lawyer, and was escorted off the grounds Friday afternoon.
The firings of Sondland and Alexander Vindman amounted to a post-impeachment bloodletting of key figures who complied with congressional subpoenas and testified in a process that Trump sought to delegitimize as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
“I’m not happy with him,” Trump said earlier Friday when asked about Vindman’s future. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”
There was little resistance from within the Republican Party to the idea of punishing Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and Ukraine expert, after The Washington Post reported Thursday night that he could soon be removed from his White House job. Some GOP lawmakers egged the president on — a sign of how much Trump has asserted his influence on the party.
And get this: Trump wants to fire the inspector general who accepted the whistleblower complaint about the Ukraine call along with purging the NSC.
The president and his advisers have also discussed removing Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, though no final decision has been made, officials said. Trump has expressed frustration that Atkinson allowed a whistleblower report documenting Trump’s alleged misconduct toward Ukraine to be transmitted to Congress.
Some advisers have also counseled the president to remove Victoria Coates, the deputy national security adviser, who has told others in the White House that she fears her job is in jeopardy.
Trump has regularly asked aides to continue slashing the size of the NSC, and national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien has said he plans to do so, telling NPR in an interview last month that the policy staff, which he put at about 180 people when he took over in September, was bloated.
By the end of February, O’Brien said, he hoped to have cut it by a third. A senior administration official said there will be widespread departures at the NSC in the next week.
At NBC News, Sharon Pettypiece writes that Trump appears to be planning to avenge himself on House Democrats.
President Donald Trump said Friday that his impeachment should be invalidated, and he gave an ominous warning when asked how he’ll pay back those responsible, saying, “You’ll see.”
“Should they expunge the impeachment in the House? They should because it was a hoax,” Trump told reporters at the White House before departing on Marine One.
When asked about his press secretary’s comments that the president was suggesting in his remarks Thursday on impeachment that his Democratic political opponents “should be held accountable,” Trump said, “Well, you’ll see. I mean, we’ll see what happens.”
Trump showed little sign of wanting to mend fences with the Democrats, saying they suffer from “Trump derangement syndrome” and that there is “a lot of evil on that side.” When asked how he was going to unify the country following his divisive impeachment, Trump said he would do it by “great success.”
David Rothkopf at The Daily Beast: Friday Night Massacre’s Just the Beginning for Acquitted Trump. On the firings of the Vindland brothers and Sondland, Rothkopf writes:
Their firings and forced departures from their jobs are, by any definition, retaliation against witnesses in the case against the president. That’s a crime. But of course, that crime will never be enforced because the U.S. government agency responsible for enforcing such laws, the Department of Justice, has been taken over by an attorney general who has perjured himself before Congress, violated his oath and placed the protection of the president ahead of the interests of the American people to whom he owes his highest duty. This week, just after the Senate’s “total acquittal,” Barr issued a memo saying that no further investigations into any presidential or vice-presidential candidate or his staff could be issued without his express approval.
Between Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump has been given free rein to be his worst self. And Trump never disappoints those who expect the worst of him. In the past few days he used a prayer breakfast to attack his enemies and question their faith. He awarded a racist the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the middle of a rambling, vapid State of the Union that had more in common with a television game show than with anything the Capitol building had ever seen before him. He held a press event to celebrate the Senate vote that was by turns vituperative against his opponents and so deranged that you expected the men with the butterfly nets to burst into the East Room of the White House and escort Trump to a quiet place where there were no sharp objects.
As the week drew to a close, a chilling realization settled in on the nation. Our most corrupt, unfit, demented and malevolent president has been given more power than any other human being in our history. He has been told he is above the law, incapable of committing a crime. He has been told that Article II of the Constitution grants him unlimited powers. He has been told he does not have submit to the oversight of the Congress.
He is, in other words, free to be himself. And we all know who that is—except perhaps Senator Susan Collins and the other Senate suckers who expected that somehow our felon-in-chief had learned a lesson from this impeachment ordeal. Trump is a man who thinks the law is for little people, that the rich can buy their way out of any legal predicament. He thinks character and courage and duty, the traits displayed by Yovanovitch and the Vindmans, are for suckers.
There’s more, but it’s behind the paywall.
Yesterday afternoon, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Nancy Pelosi: McConnell and the GOP Senate are accomplices to Trump’s wrongdoing.
For more than 200 years, our republic has endured, not only because of the wisdom of our Founders and the brilliance of our Constitution, but because of the generations of patriotic Americans who have had the courage to risk their lives to defend it.
But, tragically, the American people have watched President Trump and Republicans in Congress dismantle the Constitution that we cherish.
The House impeachment managers, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), presented to the Senate and the public an incontrovertible truth that the president himself has admitted: President Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign power to help him cheat in an American election. And when he was caught, the president launched an unprecedented coverup to block Congress from holding him accountable. The president’s actions undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections and violated the Constitution.
The Democrats in the Senate under the leadership of Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) patriotically voted unanimously to honor the oath to support and defend the Constitution. They, along with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), deserve our gratitude for their moral courage.
The president’s lawyers all but concede his misconduct. Their argument was only that Congress and the American people have no right to stop him from using his power to cheat in our elections. With their vote, Senate Republicans embraced this darkest vision of power: that if the president believes his reelection is good for the country, he can then use any means necessary to win, with no accountability or consequences.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
One more story before I sign off. The Washington Post: Meet the 71-year-old staging a one-man protest in his Trump-loving retirement community.
“When Trump won, it changed the whole ballgame for me,” McGinty told The Washington Post. “I thought to myself, ‘This was supposed to be a joke. What’s wrong with these people?’ ”
In the three years since then, the once-quiet political observer has transformed into the best-known Trump protester in The Villages, a sprawling, meticulously planned and maintained retirement community that lies about 45 miles northwest of Orlando. McGinty’s daily vigil with signs blasting the president as a “SEXUAL PREDATOR” (among other things) has drawn ire in the Trump-loving Florida town he has called home since 2016. It has also brought viral fame.
For his one-man protest against the president, McGinty has been berated as a baby killer and a “dumb a–,” decried in letters to the editor of a local news site and hit with an anonymous, handwritten threat — a sign that even a town that is described as Disney World for retirees and markets itself as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown” is not immune to the divisiveness of this political era.
“There was always a divide, but we coexisted,” said Chris Stanley, president of The Villages Democratic Club. “There would be some good-natured back and forth, but your neighbors were your friends. You’d have dinner with the Republicans because it wasn’t a big deal. … These days, the division in the country shows up best in The Villages because now the Republicans, they won’t golf with you anymore, or you don’t want to golf with them.” [….]
These days, McGinty devotes about two hours a day to protesting, crashing rallies planned by the Villagers for Trump group and parking his golf cart in well-trafficked areas where people are most likely to see his signs: “TRUMP BIGOT AND RACIST,” “TRUMP IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR” and “TRUMP COMPULSIVE LIAR.” He said he rotates between about 30 posters carrying various anti-Trump sentiments. He sits in his cart reading while he puts them on display, enjoying the confrontations that follow.
Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers! As always, this is an open thread.