POMPEO SUBPOENAED. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been subpoenaed by three House committees for failure to produce documents on Ukraine, CNN reports. “The chairs of House committees for Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight sent Pompeo a letter on Sept. 23 requesting documents pertaining to President Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Ukrainian government to be delivered to the hill by Thursday.”
Politico quotes the subpoena: “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
VOLKER RESIGNS. Kurt Volker, U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, has resigned one day after the release of a whistleblower report alleging a coverup by the White House of a call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President, CNN reports. Volker allegedly was the State Department contact for the treasonous criminal Rudy Giuliani.
WHITE HOUSE COVERED UP CALLS TO RUSSIA AND SAUDI ARABIA TOO. “White House efforts to limit access to President Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin,” CNN reports.
“Those calls — both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump — were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.”
TRUMP TOLD RUSSIANS HE WAS UNCONCERNED WITH RUSSIAN ELECTION INTERFERENCE. “President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people,” the Washington Post reports.
“The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the day before had relieved ‘great pressure’, on him.
“A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly.”
WHISTLEBLOWER HEARING POSSIBLE NEXT WEEK. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff is eyeing a hearing on the whistleblower complaint next Friday, Politico reports. “The precise details of that hearing — including whether it will be public — depends on whether the committee can schedule an interview with the whistleblower, and if it obtains the full inspector general’s report on the whistleblower’s complaint.”
SCHIFF TO KEEP INTEL COMMITTEE IN SESSION DURING RECESS. Members of the House Intelligence Committee have been told to be prepared to potentially return to Washington during the upcoming two-week recess as Democrats try to wrap up the impeachment inquiry this fall, CNN reports.
TRUMP IMPEACHMENT DEFENSE TO BE FUNDED BY NRA. SERIOUSLY. “President Trump met on Friday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, to discuss how the NRA could provide financial support for the president’s defense as he faces political headwinds, including impeachment,” the New York Times reports.
“It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or if the idea was pitched by the NRA. But in return for the support, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House ‘stop the games’ over gun control legislation.” And considering that Russia and Putin have funneled money into the NRA’s coffers, you could say that Russia is funding Trump’s defense, which of course, seems appropriate and evidence that we have come full circle.
Ezra Klein: “Impeachment acts as a form of public disgrace. To be one of only four impeached presidents in American history, even if you are not convicted by the Senate, is to know an asterisk will be forever attached to your presidency, your offenses prominently recorded. It’s a humiliation for you and a warning to your successors.”
“That’s one way in which impeachment acts as a deterrent. It’s a statement that a particular action falls outside the boundaries of normal American politics, that the behavior violated the public trust in a historic fashion.”
“This is not as strong a punishment as removal from office, of course. But it’s a stronger punishment than some Democrats issuing critical press releases before moving onto other issues. And it may yet lead to removal from office.”
GIULIANI TO MEET WITH PUTIN. SERIOUSLY. “Rudy Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, is set to appear as a paid speaker at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia on Tuesday — an event expected to include the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials,” the Washington Post reports.
GIULIANI’S FORMER COLLEAGUES SAY HE IS GOING TO PRISON. NBC News: “Giuliani’s role in the scandal that has triggered an impeachment inquiry is still coming into focus. But several legal experts who used to work with the former U.S. attorney-turned New York City mayor-turned chief President Trump defender told NBC News they believe his conduct likely broke the law.”
Said Jeffrey Harris, who worked as Giuliani’s top assistant in the Reagan administration: “This is certainly not the Giuliani that I know. I think the Giuliani that I know would prosecute the Giuliani of today.”
“Harris and the other former Justice Department lawyers said they believe Giuliani has potentially exposed himself to a range of offenses — from breaking federal election laws to bribery to extortion — through his efforts to assist the Ukrainians in probing Biden, Trump’s top political opponent.”
GOP SENATORS STILL MUM. Reporter Laura Litvan says she gets three responses from Republican senators when she asks them about the whisteblower report: 1) “I haven’t seen the whistleblower report so I can’t comment;” 2) “I’m a potential juror if there’s a Senate trial so I shouldn’t comment;” and 3) Radio silence, pursed lips, rapid escape.”
“There would be at least 35.” — Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), quoted by Fox News, on the number of Republican senators who would vote to convict Trump if it was done anonymously.
ONE HOUSE REPUBLICAN SUPPORTS INQUIRY. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) told the Nevada Independent that he supports the House’s inquiry into whether President Trump should be impeached, but is withholding judgment on whether Trump has crossed the legal line. Said Amodei: “Let’s put it through the process and see what happens.”
He added: “Using government agencies to, if it’s proven, to put your finger on the scale of an election, I don’t think that’s right. If it turns out that it’s something along those lines, then there’s a problem.”
ROMNEY ALL ALONE. “As House Democrats push forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Republicans have largely rushed to Mr. Trump’s defense, or at least tempered their criticism to avoid his furious reprisals,” the New York Times reports. “Among the handful of exceptions, though, there has been none louder or more prominent than Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, a figure who once embodied the essence of the Republican Party before Mr. Trump commandeered it, and is now in a lonely category of his own.”
The Atlantic: “The intelligence official who brought Trump’s misconduct in the Ukraine scandal to light—a CIA member who was detailed to the White House, according to a report in The New York Times—didn’t do it via press leaks, or by passing it to a sympathetic lawmaker. The whistle-blower went instead through the relatively straightforward and unexciting bureaucratic process of filing a complaint with the office of the intelligence community’s inspector general.”
“Filing the complaint ensured that classified information would be protected, national-security concerns would be evaluated, and ultimately, the information would reach the proper authorities. This candid and somewhat mundane process, while flawed, was surprisingly effective at holding Trump to account.”
“The key was its simplicity: By channeling the details of Trump’s misconduct into a formal complaint and then feeding it into the intelligence community’s system, the whistle-blower has thrown a wrench into Trump’s heretofore insurmountable deflect-by-chaos machine.”
KREMLIN REALLY HOPES TRANSCRIPTS OF THEIR CRIME CALLS WITH TRUMP AREN’T RELEASED. “Russia hopes the U.S. doesn’t release transcripts of President Donald Trump’s conversations with Vladimir Putin as it did this week with his talks with the Ukrainian leader,” Bloomberg reports. Said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov: “We would like to hope that things won’t come to such situations in our bilateral relations, which already have plenty of quite serious problems.”
THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT IS NOTHING LIKE THIS ONE. Amy Walter: “The mythology surrounding the 1998 impeachment still drives a lot of the conventional wisdom today. That thinking goes like this: Republicans pushed an unpopular impeachment and paid for it at the polls. But, it’s not 1998 anymore. We are a much more polarized country than we were back then. Partisans are less willing to give the opposite party credit for things going well, and more willing to support their own party when things turn sour. We also know that this president is more unpopular than President Clinton was at any point during his impeachment.”
“We are a deeply divided, deeply polarized country. Almost everything we do — from choosing where to eat lunch (Chick-fil-A vs. Whole Foods), to picking where to live (urban/suburban vs. rural/small town) is filtered through the lens of how we identify politically. As such, we shouldn’t expect views of impeachment to be any different. Opinions won’t swing wildly from day to day or week to week. We also shouldn’t expect to see Americans overwhelming support or overwhelmingly oppose impeachment. Like everything in this era, the final verdict on impeachment is likely to be decided on the margins by voters who are holding conflicting views on the president and the process of impeachment. It will be decided by those who may dislike Trump, but are also frustrated by the paralysis in Washington, or those who may like the agenda of the president, but are troubled by his behavior.”
CLINTON SURVIVED IMPEACHMENT BECAUSE HE WAS DISCIPLINED. “The last time Congress tried to impeach a president, the White House chief of staff had one rule: No one who wasn’t working directly on impeachment, including the president himself, was ever allowed to talk about it,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Clinton’s aides had studied Watergate, and their takeaway was that the public believed President Richard M. Nixon was being buried by the scandal, in part, because he talked about it endlessly. So their approach was that the only way to survive and to keep his job approval rating up was to demonstrate that the White House was still working, and that Mr. Clinton was still doing the job he was elected to do for the people.”
“But the approach is unlikely to succeed with President Trump, someone less concerned with policy than he is with how things play in distinct, daily news cycles. He heads into what appears to be a rapidly unfurling impeachment inquiry unprepared temperamentally, and with a depleted staff, many of whom are shrugging off the seriousness of what the president faces.”
PENCE ADVISED AGAINST RELEASE OF TRANSCRIPT. “Mike Pence privately counseled President Trump against releasing the rough transcript of the president’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart, but eventually sided with others in the White House arguing in favor of its release,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The vice president raised concerns about the precedent the release would set, but ultimately fell in line behind Trump, who felt he had no choice but to release it. Trump told aides he felt the messaging had gotten away from the White House and that releasing the document was his only option in the battle for public opinion.”
300+ BIPARTISAN EX-NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT. “More than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials have signed a statement warning that President Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine are a ‘profound national security concern’ and supporting an impeachment inquiry by Congress to determine ‘the facts,’” the Washington Post reports.
From the statement: “To be clear, we do not wish to prejudge the totality of the facts or Congress’ deliberative process. At the same time, there is no escaping that what we already know is serious enough to merit impeachment proceedings.”
“Many of the signers are former Obama officials. But the list includes others who served as career officials in both Democratic and Republican administrations, including Matthew Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s national security division under President George W. Bush and director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President Barack Obama.”
McKay Coppins: “In the story Trump tells himself, he is a man continually under siege by a cabal of jealous insiders determined to destroy him. This conspiracy of saboteurs has taken different forms over the course of his career. When he was an outer-borough real-estate scion trying to make it in Manhattan, the bad guys were the city’s sneering blue bloods who didn’t invite him to their parties and rolled their eyes at his theatrics. Then it was the bankers who refused to lend him money, and the media snobs who made fun of his short fingers, and the party hacks who refused to support his presidential-primary bid, and the ‘deep-state’ bureaucrats who tried to subvert his administration.”
“These ‘haters,’ as he likes to call them, loom large in Trump’s imagination. Every failure he suffers is their fault; every success he enjoys is in spite of them. And nothing—not even his initiation into America’s most exclusive fraternity—can seem to ease his fear that there exists an even more elusive inner sanctum where his enemies are plotting to keep him shut out.”
“This odd form of presidential status anxiety gnaws at Trump even in the best of times.”
Daily Beast: “Donald Trump tried to take his mind off impending impeachment proceedings Friday morning by trying to rip CNN for an on-screen chyron mistake, but his barely comprehensible tweet suggests he may not know what a hyphen is.
Tweeted Trump: “To show you how dishonest the LameStream Media is, I used the word Liddle’, not Liddle, in discribing Corrupt Congressman Liddle’ Adam Schiff. Low ratings CNN purposely took the hyphen out and said I spelled the word little wrong. A small but never ending situation with CNN!”
“Trump appears to have confused a hyphen with an apostrophe. And, even if he had correctly identified it, it’s unclear why an apostrophe would be needed there. Oh, and he misspelled ‘describing.’ And ‘never-ending’ has a hyphen, and ‘low-ratings’ could use one in that context, too. And ‘liddle’ isn’t really a word. But at least the president is keeping himself busy.”
FEINSTEIN DEMANDS FULL VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said after closed-door briefings with the acting director of national intelligence and the intelligence community inspector general that she wants a “word-for-word” transcript of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, The Hill reports. She noted the whistleblower complaint “suggests that an ‘official word-for-word transcript of the call was produced.”
TRUMP HAS LOST CONTROL OF THE NARRATIVE. Margaret Sullivan: “Donald Trump’s presidency would have been impossible without his reality-TV fame from NBC’s The Apprentice.And he is skilled at dominating the visual medium that still matters so much — even in our digital age — from his raucous rallies to his impromptu media gaggles outside a whirring helicopter to his symbiotic relationship with Fox News.”
“But not this week.”
“In a tectonic shift of media attention, every major television network — broadcast and cable alike — focused on a deeply damaging story that Trump can’t control.”