What Now?! – 9/21/2019

“President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

That’s High Treason and Trump should be executed for it.

George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted that if a report detailing President Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine’s government to investigate Joe Biden is true, Trump should be impeached “without delay.”

First Read: “If this is what this looks like — and again, we don’t know the actual substance of the July 25 call — then it’s arguably worse than Watergate, when the dirty tricks were being conducted by Americans against Americans. But this time, is the dirty trick a sitting president dangling aid to a foreign country to get it to investigate a rival campaign?”

“We learned from 2016 that the Trump campaign will do whatever it takes to win. Do national Democrats — who believe defeating Trump in 2020, not impeaching him, is the best way to remove him from office — understand what else we might see over the next 14 months?”

President Trump downplayed a complaint submitted by an intelligence whistleblower that reportedly involves Ukraine, calling the story “ridiculous” and describing the whistleblower as partisan, CNN reports.

Trump reiterated that his conversations with foreign leaders are appropriate. Asked if he discussed former Vice President Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump said it “doesn’t matter what I discussed” but that someone should look into Biden.

The Trump Playbook: Have Trump deny and shout Fake News, then send Giuliani out to admit the treason, then say the treason was perfectly fine and why don’t you do what I just extorted the Ukraine to do.

NBC News: “The number of complaints made to a confidential hotline designed to allow the reporting of waste, fraud and abuse in the intelligence community has skyrocketed since Donald Trump took office, government records show.”

“According to the latest public report by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, the hotline received 563 contacts last year, up from 251 in 2016 and 369 in 2017.”

“The numbers for the latest fiscal year are on pace to be even higher: There were 297 complaints in just the first six months — from October 2018 through last March, according to the report.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “We still have only limited information about the emerging whistleblower scandal. But we do know (from what Rudy Giuliani has bragged about) that the president’s lawyer has pressed another country to investigate a Democratic candidate for alleged corruption. That’s on top of the original Trump campaign’s dozens of contacts with a nation attacking U.S. democracy; several documented instances of the president obstructing the investigation of that attack; violations of the emoluments clauses of the Constitution and regular use of government resources to enrich the president’s businesses; and assertions of invented presidential privileges to prevent congressional oversight.”

“Republicans have been okay with all this, presumably because they’re getting what they want on policy. Or perhaps out of pure partisanship. Or maybe because they’re so deep in the conservative information-feedback loop that they’ve convinced themselves none of it is real. But they should be taking stock now of just how much lawlessness they’re willing to tolerate. At this point, it looks like the whistleblower’s story involves Trump attempting to offer U.S. policy favors to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.”

“I’ve said all along that there’s a middle ground where the evidence may justify impeachment and removal of the president, but not demand it. Well, the evidence has long since established that impeachment is justified. Now we’re tiptoeing up to the line where it demands removal. At some point, we may wind up clearly over that line by any reasonable definition. If Republicans choose to stick with Trump then, he’ll correctly conclude that he’s above the law.”

The Trump administration is threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, arguing that it’s misusing a federal grant to advance “ideological priorities” and unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam” but not Christianity or Judaism, the AP reports.

“The Senate is essentially outsourcing its legislative duties to a divided White House and the whims of President Donald Trump, as it makes its first sustained attempt at overhauling gun laws in years,” Politico reports.

“It’s a clear reaction from senators being burned so often and so badly by Trump. After having tried to guess where the president might land on a given policy dispute only to see him derail their plans, this time, they’re taking no chances of reliving the trauma.”

“Senior Trump administration officials are considering a plan to again divert billions of dollars in military funding to pay for border barrier construction next year, a way to circumvent congressional opposition to putting more taxpayer money toward the president’s signature project,” the Washington Post reports.

“The president has pledged to complete nearly 500 miles of new barrier by the 2020 election — stirring chants of “Build the Wall!” at his campaign rallies. But that construction goal will require a total of $18.4 billion in funding through 2020, far more than the administration has publicly disclosed.”

“The political network funded in part by billionaire libertarian Charles Koch is going to try a new strategy against President Trump’s trade war with China after conceding its previous campaign hasn’t worked,” CNBCreports.

“Koch network leaders said Thursday that their digital and TV ad blitz that emphasized how Americans could experience financial pain from the tariff fight wasn’t panning out the way they had hoped.”

Bloomberg: “Gil Kaplan, undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, resigned today… He was a key figure in enforcing trade rules for the Trump administration and was involved in negotiations for a trade deal with China.”

The Pentagon is fighting against proposals by White House officials to drastically cut the number of refugees allowed into the U.S., and has called for reserving visas for Iraqis who risked their lives working for U.S. troops,” NBC News reports.

“In internal discussions, the Defense Department has expressed opposition to any further reductions to the current annual ceiling of 30,000 for refugee admissions, which already is at a historic low for the 40-year-old U.S. refugee program.”

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson expressed concern about “big, hairy men” trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters during an internal meeting, the Washington Post reports.

“While visiting HUD’s San Francisco office this week, Carson also lamented that society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women.”

CNBC: “The House Democratic majority, which represented 39% of the U.S. land area in 2008, now represents just 20%. The House Republican minority 80% of U.S. territory.”

“That coincides with a sharp increase in incomes and economic output for the constituencies Democrats represent in Congress. Today, the $61,000 median income of blue districts substantially exceeds the $53,000 median income of red ones, reversing the order from 2008.”

“The average gross domestic product for Democratic districts, near parity with Republican ones in 2008, has grown 50% higher. Output per worker has followed the same pattern.”

President Trump said that the United States could end the nearly 19-year war in Afghanistan “very quickly” if he chose to do so but that it would involve killing “tens of millions” of people, the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “We’ve been very effective in Afghanistan, and if we wanted to do a certain method of war, we would win that very quickly, but many, many, really, tens of millions of people would be killed, and we think it’s unnecessary.”

Washington Post: “The accord could allow the United States to send migrants who reach the southern border to El Salvador to seek asylum, the latest in a series of deals aimed at creating new layers of deterrents to the influx of migrants seeking protection on U.S. soil.”

Associated Press: “The gang-plagued El Salvador is among the world’s deadliest countries, with one of the highest homicide rates on the globe… Many people who flee from El Salvador have said they and their families were threatened by gang members. Teenagers often are pressured to join gangs and have had their lives and their families threatened if they refuse. Some young women are forced to become the girlfriends of gang members, facing rape or murder if they refuse.”VISIT WEBSITE

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