What Now?! – 11/10/2019

President Trump’s lawyers told a judge they’ll ask the U.S. Supreme Court next week to block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney seeking his tax filings and other financial records, Bloomberg reports.

“Months before President Trump pressed Ukraine’s newly installed president to investigate Joe Biden’s son and alleged 2016 U.S. election interference, two associates of Rudy Giuliani urged Ukraine’s prior president to announce similar probes in exchange for a state visit to Washington,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A late February meeting in Kyiv between Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took place at the offices of Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko… It came soon after Messrs. Parnas and Fruman met with Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Mr. Lutsenko in New York in late January and again in Warsaw in mid-February, Mr. Giuliani has said.”

“House Republicans sent Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff a list of witnesses they want to testify in the impeachment inquiry, including former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against President Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“But Schiff is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.”

“President Trump says he lifted his freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, but the State Department had quietly authorized releasing $141 million of the money several days earlier,” Bloomberg reports.

“The State Department decision, which hasn’t been reported previously, stemmed from a legal finding made earlier in the year, and conveyed in a classified memorandum to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. State Department lawyers found the White House Office of Management and Budget, and thus the president, had no legal standing to block spending of the Ukraine aid.”

The report highlights how the administration was divided over the funding, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who is also the director of the Office of Management and budget supporting Trump’s decision to block the aid, while others, including then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, reportedly wanted the funds released.

The report suggests that Bolton went around Mulvaney to release the aid. “What they didn’t know, according to one of the people, was that shortly before Sept. 9, Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who resigned from the job a week later, did so with Trump’s approval,” Bloomberg noted.

“Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is asking to join a pending lawsuit aimed at clarifying whether the House of Representatives can require senior advisers to President Trump to testify in the ongoing impeachment probe related to Ukraine,” Politico reports.

“Mulvaney’s move in a court filing late Friday night could breathe new life into the suit filed last month by former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman.”

Politico: “How was Trump’s order to freeze the $400 million in military assistance handled at the highest levels of his administration? What reasons were given, if any, to the senior budget officials who implemented the abrupt freeze?”

“Despite a mountain of evidence supplied by cooperative diplomats — and a public admission and hasty retraction by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — the uncertainty surrounding the hold on the aid has only deepened over time, according to interview transcripts released this week as part of the impeachment inquiry. In fact, what has become increasingly clear is that only a small cadre of budget officials — and Trump himself — has the answers. And they have fought harder than anyone to spurn Democrats’ demands for testimony.

President Trump said that a transcript of another call he had with the president of Ukraine will “probably” be released on Tuesday, CBS Newsreports. The call took place in April after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected and before the infamous criminal call during which the President engaged in extortion and bribery and an abuse of his power that has led to his inevitable impeachment by the House. By all accounts, this first call was brief and merely congratulatory, so it is irrelevant.

“Donald Trump, whose trade war with China has upended global supply chains and imperilled the world’s economic growth, would be most welcomed with another four years in the White House because he is easier to read than other American politicians, said the negotiator who led China’s entry into the World Trade Organization,” the South China Morning Post reports.

“The US president’s daily Twitter posts broadcast his every impulse, delight and peeve to 67 million followers around the world, making him ‘easy to read’ and ‘the best choice in an opponent for negotiations,’ said Long Yongtu, the former vice-minister of foreign trade and point man during China’s 15-year talks to join the WTO nearly two decades ago.”

Said Long: “We want Trump to be re-elected; we would be glad to see that happen.”

New York Times looks for clues in the new book: “The final straw for Anonymous was the president’s reaction to the death of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, former prisoner of war, and a nemesis of the president… The author doesn’t explain why it was only Mr. Trump’s conduct toward Mr. McCain in death, as opposed to his myriad criticisms of the senator in life, that had a chilling effect.”

“But Anonymous writes with what might be firsthand knowledge about the president’s frustrations at the attention and public embrace Mr. McCain received upon his death. The author also appears to have access to the discussions around whether to lower the flag at the White House to honor Mr. McCain’s passing.”

“That leaves the impression that it’s someone on the White House campus, and possibly inside the West Wing.”

Forbes: “Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump appear to be worth about $25 million each. Ivanka Trump has likely amassed similar riches from her work at the Trump Organization but is worth far more—around $375 million—when you factor in her fashion line earnings and marriage to real estate heir Jared Kushner.”

“The president’s 26-year-old daughter, Tiffany, and 13-year-old son, Barron, meanwhile, don’t seem to have gotten much from their father so far. Neither has the first lady, besides a small Trump Tower apartment, 33 floors below the couple’s gilded penthouse, worth $1.5 million.”

Tim Alberta: “The administration, working in concert with its allies on Capitol Hill, has been hard at work identifying potential turncoats in the party and monitoring their activities to catch any sign of slippage. Believing that a unified party-line vote is needed in the House to prevent any narrative of Republicans abandoning Trump when action moves to the Senate, the president’s allies are determined to stay one step ahead of any lawmaker who might be going soft, gaming out scenarios for who could desert and why.”

“It amounts to a preemptive game of political whodunit, with Trump’s enforcers seeking to solve a mystery of political betrayal before it occurs. Naturally, there is no bigger fan of this game than the president himself.”

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

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