Happy Tuesday, October 22. A day after President Donald Trump’s off-the-rails Cabinet meeting press conference, he took to Twitter to call the impeachment inquiry a “lynching.” Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.
A reminder that some critical news emerged Friday. Bloomberg published a report that appears to confirm what many have suspected: that Rudy Giuliani and President Trump had teamed up with the notorious Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash to manufacture damaging allegations on the Biden family. Indeed, at least part of Giuliani’s anti-Biden campaign appears to have been bankrolled by Firtash, who has been living in exile in Austria for the last five years fighting extradition to the United States on bribery charges. (Josh Kovensky has an excellent backgrounder here on Firtash’s role in all this.)
The deal, as described by Bloomberg, was Firtash used his network in Ukraine to come up with dirt on Biden and Giuliani and Co would use their juice with Trump and the Barr DOJ to drop the corruption charges against Firtash.
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These are all real quotes from the pool report filed just moments ago.
“Do we have to protect a whistleblower who gives a false account? I don’t know. You tell me.”
“It’s possibly Schiff.”
“Why didn’t he say he met with the whistleblower.”
“I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too.”
“I have to fight off these lowlifes at the same time I’m negotiating these deals.”
I know this is the first thing we learned about Trump. It’s obvious, ingrained, just basic to his whole personality. But it is still remarkable the degree to which at least half of Trump’s emotional life seems based on anger at close advisors and associates who are unable to clean up his messes to his own standards and satisfaction. Sometimes perhaps a staffer is hapless. But in virtually every case it is simply that his own actions make clean ups close to impossible. It is just a remarkable, beyond-caricature example of absent self-awareness, entitlement and, yes, narcissism.
Happy Monday, October 21. President Donald Trump reversed his decision to host the G7 Summit at his Miami Doral resort this weekend, undermining his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who gave his full-throated support of the initial plan on Thursday. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.
One quick observation. We’ve now seen President Trump green light a Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria and then (perhaps?) try to undo it after it was too late to undo it. He decided to feather his own nest by hosting the G-7 at his Doral golf resort (a guaranteed political firestorm) before reversing course after roughly 48 hours. It is probably fair to say that both – though especially the first – have garnered Trump more criticism from Republicans than the Ukraine extortion plot that is all but certain to get him impeached. This all fits a pattern: under threat over probable impeachment and at least conceivable removal from office Trump is lashing out right and left in efforts to demonstrate power and dominance and succeeding mainly in further eroding his political support.
And there it is, the other quid pro quo. Notorious Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash would help Rudy and DiGenova and Toensing cook up dirt on Joe Biden. In return, they’d work with Trump to get US corruption charges against Firtash tossed. Firtash has been fighting extradition to the US on federal corruption charges since 2014.
When the Trump/Ukraine scandal broke, now almost a month ago, I said that the biggest revelation wasn’t that Trump would do these things or try to do these things but that he could do them and all of his top advisors would go along with it and even participate in whatever cover-ups were necessary to conceal. Don’t call me naive. One of the biggest takeaways from the Mueller Report was while Trump committed all sorts of obstructive acts, he was actually shut down at a number of points by top advisors. Either they yessed him and then ignored his demands. Or they refused and he relented. Or in some cases they threatened to resign. Usually Trump backed down. Trump usually didn’t have the guts to make the big moves himself. It was usually trying to get someone else to do it — usually some version of shutting down the investigation or firing Bob Mueller. Frequently, they refused.
Updated Oct. 16, 2019.
The past few weeks have been a firestorm of new details concerning the intelligence community whistleblower and the subject of his complaint: An attempt by President Donald Trump to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, son of Trump’s leading Democratic rival Joe Biden.
To truly understand the story, we need to go back a few years. Here’s how we got to where we are today.