What Now?! – 9/23/2019

“By the time President Trump met with congressional leaders on the afternoon of June 20, he had already decided to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American surveillance drone,” the New York Timesreports.

“But barely three hours later, Mr. Trump had changed his mind. Without consulting his vice president, secretary of state or national security adviser, he reversed himself and, with ships readying missiles and airplanes already in the skies, told the Pentagon to call off the airstrikes with only 10 minutes to go. When Vice President Mike Pence and other officials returned to the White House for what they expected would be a long night of monitoring a military operation, they were stunned to learn the attack was off.”

“That about-face, so typically impulsive, instinctive and removed from any process, proved a decision point for a president who has often threatened to ‘totally destroy’ enemies but at the same time has promised to extricate the United States from Middle East wars.”

President Trump appeared to acknowledge that he had discussed former Vice President Joe Biden in a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that is the subject of a congressional investigation, Bloomberg reports.

Said Trump: “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”

Classic projection. Rudy Giuliani charged that “this town protects Joe Biden,” Politico reports. Said Giuliani: “His family has been taking money from his public office for years. Ladies and gentlemen, go look at what the press has been covering up.” He added: “I went there to get dirt on Joe Biden. I got a nice straight case of Ukrainian collusion, and the minute I say ‘Biden’ the Washington press corps is going to go nuts. They’ve been covering it up for years.”

If Rudy wants to look at which family has been making money off public office, he should check out his paymaster’s family.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi “called on the Trump administration to promptly turn over a secret whistleblower complaint said to relate to President Trump’s attempts to press Ukraine to investigate his leading Democratic presidential rival, warning that a refusal to do so could force the House to open a new phase in its investigation of him,” the New York Times reports.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told CNN that impeachment “could be the only remedy” if President Trump asked the leader of Ukraine to find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic White House hopeful. 

“We cannot afford to play rope-a-dope in the court for weeks or months on end. We need an answer. If there’s a fire burning, it needs to be put out. And that’s why we’re going to have to look at every remedy.”

— House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D- CA), quoted by Politico, on dealing with President Trump’s lawlessness.

Jennifer Rubin: “Trump doesn’t seem to dispute the facts. Rather, he is trying to prevent concrete, glaring evidence from emerging. He apparently thinks it’s perfectly fine to lean on a foreign power to help him win an election.”

“Given all that, impeachment may look very different. A single article of impeachment based on an incontrovertible abuse of power would make Democrats’ job much easier. The difficultly that at-risk Republicans face in explaining to voters why they countenance such conduct begins to outweigh any downside for Democrats in pursuing impeachment, even if the eventual outcome is acquittal in the Senate.”

“The argument for Democrats — namely that Republicans are spineless lackeys who have violated their oaths of office — is far easier to maintain than the Republicans’ assertion that it’s nuts to remove a president who goes to a foreign power to help reelect him.”

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds President Trump “is more personally disliked than any of his recent predecessors, and half of voters say they’re very uncomfortable with the idea of his re-election.”

“But the electorate at large also expresses doubts about some of the progressive policies being backed by candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the party’s more moderate frontrunner — Joe Biden — also faces questions about his fitness for the job.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC News that “it wouldn’t be appropriate” to release a transcript of President Trump’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart that is reportedly at the center of a whistleblower’s complaint.

Said Pompeo: “Those are private conversations between world leaders and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so except in the most extreme circumstances.”

This is an extreme circumstance.

Washington Post: “The push by Trump and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to influence the newly elected Ukrainian leader reveals a president convinced of his own invincibility — apparently willing and even eager to wield the vast powers of the United States to taint a political foe and confident that no one could hold him back.”

“The effort — which came as the Trump administration was withholding financial and military support from Ukraine to help the small democracy protect itself against Russian aggression — illustrates Trump’s expansive view of executive power and what appears to be a cavalier attitude about legal limits on his conduct.”

Dan Balz: “America’s democratic system, the world’s oldest, is said to be resilient, with institutions strong enough to defend against runaway actors and with checks and balances designed to prevent too much power from building up in any one place or with any one person. Earlier in Trump’s presidency, that appeared to be the case. Right now, however, that is in question.”

“When the president asserts executive privilege to prevent testimony before Congress by a private citizen who never was on the government payroll — as happened this past week when Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee — it is clear how much Trump is prepared to test his belief that his powers are unlimited. ‘I have the right to do whatever I want as president,’ Trump once said, and that appears to be the basis upon which he is operating.”

“Three years into his presidency, Trump has helped to reveal the weaknesses of the system. In the executive branch, and especially in the White House, there are few if any officials willing to challenge and check the president. To the extent that administration officials could do that, those who tried are gone. He has also demonstrated the degree to which Congress is dependent on a president who operates with some respect for the norms of the system created by the Founding Fathers.”

The Alaska Republican Party has canceled holding a presidential primary in 2020, the AP reports. The party’s State Central Committee passed a rule saying a primary “would serve no useful purpose” because Republican Donald Trump is president.

Politico: “Rand Paul began his offensive against Liz Cheney as soon as a Senate seat opened up in May, reigniting a years-long feud between their families and warring wings of the Republican Party. The Kentucky GOP senator quickly made contact with Cynthia Lummis, a former conservative House member, to encourage her to run for the Senate seat opening up in Wyoming now that Mike Enzi was retiring.”

“Lummis soon jumped into the race, leaving Cheney, her successor in Congress, with a tough choice: Embark on a brutal primary against Lummis or take the safer route and seek her fortune in House leadership.”

“If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out.”

— Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), on Twitter.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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