President Trump told reporters that China should launch an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, though he noted that hasn’t yet asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to do so, Axios reports. The statement came as Trump was asked once again what he hoped Ukraine President Zelensky would do about the Bidens when they spoke on their now infamous phone call in July.
So, Trump once again admitted to an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine, and then for the first time admitted to a new impeachable offense in asking China to investigate the Bidens.
CNN: “During a phone call with Xi on June 18, Trump raised Biden’s political prospects as well as those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls… In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.”
“The White House record of that call was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s President and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint that’s led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump.”
Vice President Pence decided to full embrace the Trump crime spree and offered a full-throated defense of President Trump’s call for an investigation into Joe Biden and his son’s dealings with Ukraine, Reuters reports. Pence should know that he can be impeached at the same time as Trump if he so wishes.
The White House sent out its general-public newsletter “with a very conspicuous line buried in a series of talking points on the rapidly escalating scandal that has President Trump on the verge of an impeachment vote,” the Daily Beast reports.
From the newsletter: “This year, President Trump has asked Ukraine to fully cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation into the actions of former Vice President Joe Biden and his family in Ukraine.”
“No such investigation into the Bidens has been publicly announced, and neither the DOJ nor the White House responded to inquiries about the statement. But then, at some point… the version on the White House website was quietly edited. It now says that the president ‘has asked Ukraine to fully cooperate with any Justice Department investigation into the actions of former Vice President Joe Biden and his family in Ukraine.’”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told reporters that President Trump’s call for China to investigate Joe Biden is “repugnant” and “ought to be condemned by every member” of Congress, Axios reports.
Said Schiff: “A president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the presidential oath.”
Former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker told House investigators that he warned Rudy Giuliani, that Giuliani was receiving untrustworthy information from Ukrainian political figures about Joe Biden and his son, the Washington Post reports.
“Volker said he tried to caution Guiliani that his sources, including Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, were unreliable and that he should be careful about putting faith in the prosecutor’s stories.”
In newly disclosed text messages shared with Congress, Volker at the time wrote to a group of other American diplomats that “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” ABC News reports.
“In the exchange, the concerns are expressed by Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine. Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, responds to Taylor, saying, ‘Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.’”
“Sondland then suggests to the group take the conversations off line, typing ‘I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.’ It’s unclear if the conversation continues.”
“President Trump ordered the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine after months of complaints from allies outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that she was undermining him abroad and obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“State Department officials were told this spring that Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal was a priority for the president… Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the move.”
President Trump says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him he sees no problem with the phone call to the Ukraine president that is the center of an impeachment inquiry, McClatchy reports. Trump told reporters McConnell considers Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “the most innocent phone call” that he’s read.
“In a new campaign video on Facebook, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell pitches himself as the man who can end the House’s impeachment inquiry, a sign of how the chief Republican in the chamber might handle an impeachment trial should the House pass articles charging President Trump with crimes,” CNN reports.
Adam Serwer: “Elected Republicans know that Trump is unfit for office. The president’s own subordinates know that Trump is unfit for office. They know this, because when the president issues ridiculous orders, such as the demand that a leader of the opposition party be arrested, they ignore his demands. A nation in which the opposition cannot criticize the head of state without facing criminal sanction is not a democracy, but it is the kind of country over which Donald Trump would like to preside. The result is that American democracy rests on the willingness of bureaucrats to ignore the commands of their democratically elected chief executive.”
“Unable to defend the substance of the president’s extortion attempt, Republicans have turned to complaining about the process. But Thursday’s performance on the White House lawn renders those baseless complaints moot—the president just did publicly what the Democrats have accused him of doing privately. The only argument against removing Trump from office is that Trump’s raving is just Trump being Trump, and is not to be taken seriously. But the fact that the president’s madness must be ignored from time to time for America to continue to function as a democracy is an argument for, not against, his removal.”
“Although congressional Democrats and Republicans are divided on impeachment, there is vanishingly little disagreement on whether or not Trump abuses his authority or is fit to be president. The distinction is that, for the moment, Republicans appear not to care.”
Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) demanded that Republicans in Congress “unequivocally” condemn President Trump’s call for Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden and his son, The Hill reports.
Said Curbelo: “This is unacceptable. Republicans must condemn it unequivocally. Time is running out for them to get on the right side of history. Our institutions and being diminished in a very dangerous way.”
“An Internal Revenue Service official has filed a whistleblower complaint reporting that he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of the president or vice president’s tax returns,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump administration officials dismissed the whistleblower’s complaint as flimsy because it is based on conversations with other government officials. But congressional Democrats were alarmed by the complaint, now circulating on Capitol Hill, and flagged it to a federal judge.”
Within an hour of President Trump publicly declaring that the Chinese and Ukrainian governments should investigate Joe Biden and his son, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter to halt the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
The answer is no.
Aaron Blake: “The idea that President Trump has finally gone over the edge is an overwrought journalistic genre. Oftentimes, people simply forget all that has come before when they declare him to be particularly unwieldy or off the rails at a particular moment. And his opponents are far too anxious to find examples of Trump finally reaching a threshold that suggests he has completely thrown caution to the wind and may be just giving up.”
“All of that said, it has been some week for Trump — even by his standards.”
Washington Post: “In his quest to rewrite the history of the 2016 election, President Trump’s personal attorney has turned to an unusual source of information: Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”
“Rudy Giuliani in recent months has consulted several times with Manafort through the federal prisoner’s lawyer in pursuit of information that would bolster his theory that the real story of 2016 is not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton.”
Rick Wilson: “In private, Republicans are in the deepest despair of the Trump era. They’ve got that hang-dog, dick-in-the-dirt fatalism of men destined to die in a meaningless battle in a pointless war. They’ve abandoned all pretense of recapturing the House, their political fortunes in the states are crashing and burning, and the stock-market bubble they kept up as a shield against the downsides of Trump—’but muh 401(k)!’—is popping.”
“You want to know why so few Republicans have held town-hall meetings since early 2017? Because Trump is the cancer they deny is consuming them from the inside out. They see the political grave markers of 42 of their GOP House colleagues—and several hundred down-ballot Republicans—booted from office since 2017 and know that outside of the deepest red enclaves, they’re salesmen for a brand no one is buying.”
“I have some bad news, Republicans. It never gets better. There is no daylight at the end of this tunnel. Trump is a suicide bomber, and you’ve strapped yourselves to him so tightly that when he explodes, you’re going out to meet the 72 porn stars of the Trumpian afterlife with him. (Spoiler alert: They all look like Ivanka.)”
“President Trump told aides last year he wanted U.S. forces with bayonets to block people from crossing into the United States across the Mexico border, one of several proposals he floated at moments of peak frustration with his inability to contain a migration surge,” the Washington Post reports.
George Conway: “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don’t need to be a mental-health professional to see that something’s very seriously off with Trump—particularly after nearly three years of watching his erratic and abnormal behavior in the White House. Questions about Trump’s psychological stability have mounted throughout his presidency. But those questions have been coming even more frequently amid a recent escalation in Trump’s bizarre behavior, as the pressures of his upcoming reelection campaign, a possibly deteriorating economy, and now a full-blown impeachment inquiry have mounted. And the questioners have included those who have worked most closely with him.”
“No president in recent memory—and likely no president ever—has prompted more discussion about his mental stability and connection with reality.”
“The president isn’t simply volatile and erratic, however—he’s also incapable of consistently telling the truth. Those who work closely with him, and who aren’t in denial, must deal with Trump’s lying about serious matters virtually every day.”
A new study shows the tendency for Washington policymakers to not accept mainstream climate science is growing inside echo chambers and under President Trump.
Axios: “The research adds some quantitative heft to the notion that Trump, who regularly dismisses and mocks climate change, is having a tangible impact among America’s most influential policy experts working inside the beltway of Washington, D.C.”
“Echo chambers — the concept that people share views only with those with similar views — have formed relatively quickly among policy leaders around misinformation of climate science under the Trump administration.”