So let’s review the events of the past week. President Trump attempted to extort the Ukraine president for a “favor” to manufacture an investigation into his chief political rival by implying Ukraine wouldn’t get military aid already appropriated by Congress. The quid pro quo was explicit. A request for military aid was made by Ukraine, and Trump’s response was “I need a favor though.” And it was a personal favor that would enure solely to Trump’s personal and political benefit.
White House officials then tried to hide the readout (and possibly full transcript) of the call by storing it on a separate computer system for only the most highly classified information. Nothing in the phone call was deemed highly classified.
Then we learned that many more troublesome or damaging conversations the President has had have been hidden in the same manner, including some with Putin and Saudi Arabia.
Then we learned that the readout of an Oval Office conversation in 2017 with two Russian officials was similarly put on this system to limit its access to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances. In this meeting,m Trump reportedly told the Russians he was unconcerned about their country’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, implying that the would not object if Russia were to meddle again, either in American election or in elections of other countries.
Therefore, White House appears to be engaged in massive, systemic abuse of the classification system in order to cover up abuses of power and actual crimes by the President. This is an epic political scandal and it is worse than Watergate. The President, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and every official in the Executive Branch who participated in the cover up must be resign or be removed from office. Rudy Giuliani must be indicted for criminal conspiracy, extortion and Logan Act violations.
David Von Drehle: “Ordinarily, I’m skeptical of the power of media organizations — even Fox News. Though it is the most-watched cable (shall we say) ‘news’ channel in the United States, its average primetime viewership of about 2.5 million people is less than 1 percent of the nation. The audiences for MSNBC and CNN are typically even smaller. Most Americans have better things to do with their evenings than to be harangued about politics.”
“However, those Fox News viewers punch far above their weight in one regard: They are the core of any hard-right primary challenge that might be waged against an incumbent Republican senator. I believe based on conversations with knowledgeable Republicans that Trump is neither popular nor admired among the Senate majority, but he is feared, therefore tolerated. The fear stems from his firm grip on that Fox News-viewing core and the belief that he could turn the core into an incumbent-crushing machine.”
“To the extent that Trump’s grip begins to loosen, the fear will begin to lift and the president’s Senate firewall will begin to crumble.”
New York Times: “In an unusual airing of intramural grievances, Fox News anchors and pundits have let loose at one another in full public view — lobbing attacks across time slots and offering a rare glimpse into tensions behind the scenes at the top-rated cable news network.”
Dan Balz: “Democrats will have to make the case as to why they think the president should be impeached and removed from office and try to persuade the public why that step is necessary, if that is where their work leads. But Republicans cannot hide from this, even if they regard impeachment as unwarranted.”
“Right now, through their collective silence, Republicans are telling the American people they either tolerate or condone the president’s actions. The longer they remain silent, the more they contribute to normalizing behavior by the president that is far beyond past standards.”
Washington Post: “Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend. The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.”
Playbook: “That’s the mantra we keep hearing from many Democrats in D.C. So many members of the House majority are befuddled by the hyperventilating over messaging, confused at the pretzels some lawmakers twist themselves into as they pursue impeaching President Trump. They say that what Trump has said in the open is enough to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors.”
These Democrats suggest this message: The president tried again to strong arm a sovereign European country into injecting itself into the United States’ electoral process. Don’t take my word for it — just listen to the president’s own words.”
“House Democrats are developing a new plan to deal with any White House stonewalling to their upcoming demands for records and testimony: They will use it as evidence for an article of impeachment against President Trump,” CNN reports.
“Democrats are hoping that the tactic will force White House officials to make a choice: They could provide records to bolster the Democratic investigation, or they can resist the House subpoenas and add to the Democrats’ case that Trump has sought to obstruct Congress.”
Los Angeles Times: “By Friday, as the crisis metastasized with cascading disclosures about Trump’s requests for Ukrainian authorities to investigate his political foes, and allegations that the White House tried to “lock down” the evidence, the president was still grasping for a strategic response. Other than issuing a slew of angry tweets, he stayed out of the public eye until an evening event with Hispanic supporters in the East Room.”
“One administration official described the president as ‘shell shocked’ by the sudden political gut punch even as he insists the impeachment fight will help him win reelection next year by rallying his base and angering independents.”
Said a Trump campaign adviser: “I think he’s badly wounded right now. I’m suddenly very worried about 2020.”
“The looming battle over President Trump’s potential impeachment has sparked an online hunt in the far-right corners of the Web as self-styled Internet sleuths race to identify the anonymous person Trump has likened to a treasonous spy,” the Washington Post reports.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told the White House earlier this week that President Trump “needed to release the transcript of his call to bolster the claim that the conversation was not improper because the speculation about what happened was becoming politically untenable,” the Washington Post reports.
Miami Herald: “A U.S. Army official formerly in charge of all White House communications at Mar-a-Lago was sentenced to three years of probation on Friday after he made false statements to a federal agent during a child pornography investigation.”
James Risen: “Donald Trump just barely avoided prosecution earlier this year when special counsel Robert Mueller pulled his punches and refused to indict the president for either obstruction of justice or campaign finance violations in connection with the Trump-Russia investigation. Mueller’s decision not to indict Trump came despite overwhelming evidence in Mueller’s own final report that the president of the United States was guilty of a crime.”
“Most people who survive that kind of legal threat would lie low, at least for a while, and try to get back to some level of normalcy. But Trump is a habitual criminal, and his reaction to escaping Mueller’s investigation was to go on yet another crime spree.”
“In fact, Trump has been acting like a bank robber who beat one rap because of a technicality, and so decides to rob every bank in sight.”
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