What Now?! – 11/8/2019

KENT TRANSCRIPT SAYS TRUMP’S POLICY WAS ITSELF CORRUPT. House Democrats released the transcript of George Kent’s testimony, a senior diplomat who told the impeachment probe that President Trump’s anti-corruption campaign in Ukraine was itself corrupt, The Hill reports.

Kent “voiced concern about Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraine as early as March of this year, which prompted a supervisor to warn him to lay low.” Kent will testify publicly next week.

IT ALMOST WORKED. New York Times: “Finally bending to the White House request, Mr. Zelensky’s staff planned for him to make an announcement in an interview on Sept. 13 with Fareed Zakaria, the host of a weekly news show on CNN.”

“Though plans were in motion to give the White House the public statement it had sought, events in Washington saved the Ukrainian government from any final decision and eliminated the need to make the statement.”

TRUMP ORDERED TO PAY $2M JUDGMENT. “A judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million to a collection of nonprofit organizations as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office to resolve a civil lawsuit that alleged ‘persistent’ violations of charities law that included unlawful coordination with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign,” CNN reports.

TRUMP WANTED TO CLEAR HIM IN A PRESS CONFERENCE. “President Trump wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference declaring the commander in chief had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so,” the Washington Post  reports.

“The request from Trump traveled from the president, to other White House officials, and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s declination to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference.”

DIPLOMATS WARNED TRUMP NOT TO REVOKE PROTECTIONS. “Senior State Department officials and career diplomats repeatedly warned the Trump administration that taking away legal protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti would put national security, foreign relations, and the immigrants’ American-born children at risk,” Vox reports.

“But Trump did it anyway — and concerns about the 2020 election appear to have helped determine the timeline for requiring immigrants to leave.”

BOLTON WILLING TO TESTIFY. THEN DO IT. He had a scheduled deposition Thursday that he did not show up for. “Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the way,” the Washington Post reports.

“Bolton could be a powerful witness for Democrats: Top State Department and national security officials have already testified that he was deeply concerned about efforts by Trump and his allies to push Ukraine to open investigations into the president’s political rivals while the Trump administration held up military aid to that country.”

“The former national security adviser, who abruptly left his post in September, is expected to confirm their statements and describe his conversations with Trump.”

TRUMP AIDES CLASH OVER IMPEACHMENT. “Two of Donald Trump’s most senior aides, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, are clashing over who should direct the president’s response to the House impeachment inquiry,” Bloomberg reports.

“Cipollone sees impeachment as his domain because he views it as a legal matter and has privately complained to colleagues that Mulvaney is trying to wrest control, the people said. Mulvaney believes he’s in charge because impeachment is political and expects Cipollone to report to his office.”

CNN: “What once was a frequently repeated mantra — there was no quid pro quo — has now morphed into a multi-pronged and sometimes disjointed defense, with Republicans each taking the job into their own hands, hoping to fight back against the allegations raised daily with the release of new transcripts.”

“Republicans across the Capitol have resorted to attacking the firsthand knowledge of witnesses, muddying the waters with calls to name the whistleblower and even seeking to discredit the Trump administration’s ability to be organized enough to execute a scheme to use military aid in order to advance its own political agenda.”

A CHRISTMAS IMPEACHMENT. CNN reports on a possible timeline for the House impeachment inquiry:

  1. Public hearings next week and the week after.
  2. Thanksgiving week off as report is written.
  3. Articles of impeachment drawn up and debated during first two weeks of December.
  4. A full House vote on impeachment during the last week before Christmas.

GOP WANTS TO SUBPOENA WHISTLEBLOWER. “Republicans intend to subpoena the government whistleblower to testify in the House’s impeachment investigation into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH),” The Hill reports.

“The effort is not likely to bear fruit, as Democrats have rejected the idea of outing the anonymous figure, citing safety concerns, and they have veto power over any GOP subpoena requests for witness testimony.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) said the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump should stay anonymous to the public.

“We protect whistleblowers,” the Republican senator told reporters, according to The Hill. “We protect witnesses in our committee.”

Unlike President Donald Trump and Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Burr said he “never” believed that the whistleblower’s identity ought to be revealed to the public.

TRUMP WANTS TO DO APPRENTICE: WHITE HOUSE. I’M SERIOUS. Daily Beast: “According to three people with knowledge of the situation and another source close to Trump, Apprentice creator Mark Burnett and the president have sporadically kept in touch, mostly over the phone, since Trump won the election. The pair remain friends, these sources say, and have discussed reviving their creative partnership, pitching each other details on potential TV projects to be filmed after the Trump presidency.”

“One of the ideas kicked around by Burnett and the president was shooting a new version of the Trump-branded Apprentice, tentatively titled The Apprentice: White House, and to produce it shortly after the president leaves office. This time, however, the TV program would be explicitly politics-themed and take full advantage of Trump’s status as a former president of the United States and a newfound Republican kingmaker.”

MACRON WARNS NATO ALLIES THAT THEY CAN NO LONGER DEPEND ON AMERICA. And he is right. French president Emanuel Macron told The Economist that he has warned European countries that they can no longer rely on America to defend NATO allies. Said Macron: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.”

He said that Europe stands on “the edge of a precipice” and needs to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power; otherwise we will “no longer be in control of our destiny.”

SAUDI ARABIA HAD TWO SPIES IN TWITTER. “The Saudi government recruited two Twitter employees to get personal account information of their critics,” the AP reports. “A complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi government officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of thousands of Twitter accounts.”

“The accounts included those of a popular journalist with more than 1 million followers and other prominent government critics.”

GUILIANI LAWYERS UP. AGAIN. Rudy Giuliani tweeted that he has obtained legal representation from criminal litigation lawyer Robert Costello, as well as Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal from Pierce Bainbridge. Four firms turned him down before he settled on Costello et al, who also ironically represented Michael Cohen.

HOW RUDY GOT PAID. New York Times: “It has been one of the enduring mysteries of the impeachment drama: Where did a cash-strapped Ukrainian-born American businessman get $500,000 to pay President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani?”

“It turns out that the money came from a Long Island lawyer named Charles Gucciardo, a Republican donor and supporter of Mr. Trump. The payment was part of a deal in which Mr. Gucciardo would become an investor in a company started by the businessman, Lev Parnas.”

PENCE AIDE THOUGHT PENCE WOULD BACK USE OF THE 25TH AMENDMENT. “The much-anticipated book A Warning, reportedly written by an unnamed senior White House official, claims that high-level White House aides were certain that Vice President Mike Pence would support the use of the 25th Amendment to have President Trump removed from office because of mental incapacity,” the HuffPost reports. Pence denies this, of course.

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