A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 147th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic of his administration: An impulsive, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight. After Trump was sworn in, I started writing the weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing every day of his presidency. This is week 147.
Each passing week carries with it increasing historical significance. The President of the United States is embroiled in an international extortion plot of his own making and the Republican Party is standing by him even as the case for impeachment steadily grows. This week saw the first public impeachment hearings. They were a sight to behold as respected foreign service officials depicted the story of a president putting his own personal interests above the nation he swore to protect.
On Wednesday, Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Taylor testified how he slowly became aware of the extortion plot and that Ambassador Gordon Sondland explicitly relayed the “quid pro quo” to Ukrainian officials. Taylor also revealed a new phone call between Sondland and President Trump the day after the July 25th phone call, and Trump asked Sondland directly about the investigations. It was later corroborated by a State Department aide in closed-door testimony on Friday evening.
On Friday morning, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch gave showstopping testimony, humanizing the effects of President Trump and his allies’ smear campaign against her. Not only did she give compelling testimony highlighting Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko’s effort to get her out of the way of Trump’s extortion plot, her remarks garnered a real-time reaction from the President. Trump smeared Yovanovitch mid-testimony and committed what many called witness intimidation, right as Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone was convicted of counts that include witness tampering.
The House impeachment inquiry led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been a very competent, fact-finding probe. Meanwhile, House Republicans continued to contort themselves into a phalanx of disinformation as they mounted their defense of Trump’s indefensible actions. Rather than debate the substance of the mountain of evidence against him President Trump, they have chosen a strategy of political stunts, denial, and deflection.
Let’s dive into a historic Unpresidented week.
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A New Deposition Transcript And A Reminder Of The Kurdish Betrayal
Day 1,026: Monday, November 11
Monday’s top stories:
- CNN: Laura Cooper transcript: Pentagon official testifies that she was told Ukrainians were alarmed by stalled aid
- The Independent: Turkey’s proxy army ‘looting, kidnapping and executing Kurds at random’ in north Syria ‘safe zone’
- The New York Times: Mulvaney Withdraws Effort to Join Impeachment Lawsuit After Bolton Objects
- CNN: Trump can’t sue New York state in DC federal court to stop release of tax returns, judge says
- BBC: Hong Kong protests: Two people in critical condition after day of chaos
- Associated Press: After push from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine
- CNN: Giuliani considers launching an impeachment podcast amid public hearings
- The Week: Trump aides are reportedly worried about John Bolton’s meeting notes
- Politico: Republicans used to ignore Trump’s resorts. Now they’re spending millions.
- The Washington Post: Rep. Peter T. King, a 14-term Republican congressman from New York, announces retirement
- Reuters: Former U.S. top diplomat Rice concerned by shadow diplomacy on Ukraine
- Salon: Giuliani associate flips on Trump, says he threatened Ukraine to investigate Biden or lose aid
- CNN: White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has yet to hold a briefing with reporters, but finds time for Fox News
- Axios: Veterans group launches $30,000 campaign to label Trump a “national security threat”
- Associated Press: Australian state declares emergency due to wildfires
- ABC News: Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s clashed with Trump, would oversee impeachment trial
- Rantt Media: Wexit: A Far Right Party Wants To Split Canada. Could They Succeed?
- The Guardian: ‘It’s mindblowing’: historic wins for two Somali-Americans amid ugly smears
- The Washington Post: On Veterans Day, 8 unforgettable photos of Americans returning from war
DACA’s Future Uncertain
Day 1,027: Tuesday, November 12
Tuesday’s top stories:
- Associated Press: Split Supreme Court appears ready to allow Trump to end DACA
- The New York Times: Trump Has Considered Firing Intelligence Community Inspector General
- GQ: White House Advisor Stephen Miller Just Got Outed for Explicit White Supremacist E-mails
- Politico: Stone previewed WikiLeaks bounty to Trump campaign in April 2016
- CNN: Inauguration galas, an intimate dinner, and a White House party: Trump’s 10 interactions with indicted Giuliani associates
- The Week: Mick Mulvaney is reportedly telling associates Trump can’t fire him because he ‘knows too much’
- NBC News: In private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump’s foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest
- NBC News: Senior Trump official embellished résumé, had face on fake Time cover
- CNN: Fact-checking Trump’s barrage of anti-impeachment tweets
- ProPublica: Giuliani Was Close to a Podcast Deal With the News Outlet That Spread His Ukraine Conspiracies
- CNN: Hong Kong on edge after day of violence
- NBC News: President Jimmy Carter to undergo procedure to relieve pressure on brain from falls
- Politico: Federal health contract funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump allies
- ABC News: Republican who helped lead Clinton impeachment says Trump-Ukraine call ‘troublesome’
- HuffPost: Republican Group Urges GOP Lawmakers To Stand Up To Trump During Impeachment
- Axios: Tensions rise after Israeli airstrike kills Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza home
- NBC News: Taliban to release 2 kidnapped American University professors in prisoner swap
- The Daily Beast: Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Widow Will Seek His House Seat
The First Public Impeachment Hearing
Day 1,028: Wednesday, November 13
The first impeachment hearing has come and gone and laid out some damning evidence. There’s one new detail that paints President Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky in an even more corrupt light.
Today, Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent delivered powerful testimony. Taylor’s testimony, which was largely based on his closed-door deposition, methodically detailed the Trump Administration’s effort to withhold military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine in pursuit of investigations into Trump’s political targets. It also had this new detail involving one of his staffers, who is now scheduled to testify:
“Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mr Yermak. Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations’. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”
If true, this would mean that one day after President Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, Trump followed up on his request for the probes into the Bidens and the Ukrainian election meddling conspiracy theory. Why should Trump worry about this? It’s yet another piece of evidence that links President Trump directly to the extortion campaign. Bill Taylor also highlighted a portion of his previous testimony for the first time on live TV that further ties Trump to the extortion campaign:
Taylor ties Trump to the extortion plot:
“Ambassador Sondland told me that PresidentTrump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.” pic.twitter.com/e62qFpyEvm
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) November 13, 2019
Sondland, who already revised his testimony to corroborate Bill Taylor’s previous testimony about how Sondland relayed the “quid pro quo” directly to Ukrainian officials, may need to update it again ahead of his public testimony next week. Taylor also testified that he was told by a staffer of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that “the directive [to withhold aid] had come from the President to the Chief of Staff to OMB.”
As I wrote in an op-ed today in The Independent, this new allegation adds further evidence to the fact Zelensky was prepared to move on the request:
Taylor also said that he knew the Ukrainians were very concerned about the security assistance and that they were prepared to make a statement announcing the probes on CNN, which corroborates a New York Times report alleging the same. Zelensky was allegedly prepared to make the public announcement on September 13th, but the White House released the aid after House Democrats were made aware of the whistleblower complaint.
That undermines the Republican argument that the extortion campaign wasn’t completed, so, therefore, it’s not a crime. I went on to write in The Independent about how Republicans failed to counter the narrative House Democrats outlined:
Rather than try and defend the substance of the extortion allegations against President Trump, House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) began what would become a baseless line of questioning into the Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory. This defense of President Trump is laser-targeted to the GOP echo chamber and will do nothing to swing Independents.
The bottom line here is this: if this testimony had happened under any other presidency, and in a world without right-wing media absolutely loyal to that president, it would have brought that administration to a screeching halt. Not only is it illegal to solicit something of value from a foreign power in connection with an election, but the extortion/bribery plot showcases an even larger abuse of power.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked after the hearing: “If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”
In other news…
- The New York Times: ‘I’m a Big Fan’: Trump Gives Warm Welcome to Turkey’s Erdogan
- AP FACT CHECK: GOP presses empty Ukraine meddling theory
- Politico: What Roger Stone’s trial revealed about Donald Trump and WikiLeaks
- The Washington Post: Republicans discuss a longer Senate impeachment trial to scramble Democratic primaries
- Reuters: U.S. appeals court backs House request for Trump tax documents
- AP: Turkey re-arrests journalist a week after his release
- Reuters: North Korea warns of retaliation against U.S-South Korea military drills
- Reuters: U.S. senators push for vote on Hong Kong rights bill as violence rises
- CNN: Impeachment investigators slate open hearings for 8 more witnesses next week
- Politico: Trump aides retaliated against State staffer of Iranian descent, probe finds
- Business Insider: The US Navy canceled a routine Black Sea patrol after Trump complained that it was hostile to Russia
- Vox: Trump just claimed Ivanka created 14 million jobs. The entire economy added 6 million.
- CNN: Deval Patrick tells allies he’s running for president
- CNN: Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy announces he will run for Senate against Cindy Hyde-Smith
- NBC News: Unrest in Bolivia prompts U.S. to order family of government employees to leave
- Bloomberg: Venice Declares State of Emergency After Near-Record Tide and Floods
This Is America
Day 1,029: Thursday, November 14
Thursday’s top stories:
- Business Insider: A GOP senator blocked a bill for universal background checks as the Santa Clarita high-school shooting was unfolding
- CNN: Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador’s cell phone call with Trump
- Bloomberg: Giuliani Faces U.S. Probe on Campaign Finance, Lobbying Breaches
- Axios: Erdogan upends Oval Office meeting with Trump and GOP senators to play anti-Kurd film on iPad
- The Washington Post: Democrats sharpen impeachment case, decrying ‘bribery’ as another potential witness emerges linking Trump to Ukraine scandal
- NBC News: Trump admin preparing to take over private land in Texas for border wall
- AP: Trump wants Supreme Court to block subpoena for his taxes
- Politico: Matt Bevin concedes Kentucky governor’s race
- The Washington Post: Aides are counseling Trump not to fire Mulvaney, as acting chief of staff changes course again
- NBC News: Trump admin. wants to raise costs to become a U.S. citizen by 83 percent
- CNN: Turkey begins deporting suspected ISIS fighters to US, UK, Germany
- BBC News: Hong Kong protests: Man dies after being hit ‘by hard object’ during protests
- The Washington Post: White House to use webcams to create live feed of border wall construction
- The Hill: Graham blocks resolution recognizing Armenian genocide after Erdoğan meeting
- Business Insider: Here’s how much smaller the top 11 billionaires’ fortunes would’ve been if Bernie Sanders’ or Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth taxes had been around since 1982
- HuffPost: The IRS Just Released New 2020 Tax Brackets. Here’s What They Mean.
- CBS News: Michael Bloomberg won’t file for New Hampshire primary
- The Daily Beast: Fox Regular Claims George Soros ‘Controls a Very Large Part’ of the State Department
Yovanovitch Hearing: A Day For The History Books
Day 1,030 Friday, November 15
President Trump just had a terrible day. First, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave testimony about the smear campaign that ousted her so she wouldn’t get in the way of Trump’s extortion plot. Then, President Trump smeared her in real-time, likely committing witness intimidation. Then, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was convicted on 7 counts, including witness tampering and lying to Congress. This all happened by noon.
Roger Stone was convicted on one count of obstruction of justice, five counts of making false statements to investigators, and one count of witness tampering. Stone joins Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Cohen as Trump associates and former officials who are convicted felons.
Although the lying to Congress counts should strike fear into the likes of Ambassador Gordon Sondland ahead of his testimony next week, it’s that final count that is getting the most attention today. Why? Because President Trump committed the very same crime during Yovanovitch’s testimony.
I wrote about how this all played out in my latest analysis for The Independent:
This is where Yovanovitch’s testimony turned into an unprecedented spectacle. Yovanovitch began speaking about how she was recalled from Ukraine without explanation after being told that there were concerns about her safety. In the very moment she was discussing this smear campaign and its effects, at 10:01 am ET, President Trump sent out a tweet:
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
Minutes later, Yovanovitch was asked about a previous attack on her from President Trump. In his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Trump called Yovanovitch “bad news” and told Zelensky that the former ambassador would be “going to go through some things.” Yovanovitch said that the color drained from her face when she read that in the transcript memo. House Intelligence Committee counsel Daniel Goldman asked her about this. Yovanovitch replied: “‘She’s going to go through some things.’ It didn’t sound good. It sounded like — a threat.” Goldman asked, “Did you feel threatened?”Yovanovitch said: “I did.”
It was in this context that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) read Trump’s tweet to Yovanovitch and asked what effect that would have on other witnesses. She responded by saying, “It’s very intimidating… The effect is to be intimidating.” Schiff replied, “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.” They went to break, where even Fox News hosts expressed concern about what had just happened. Then, in a moment straight out of a political drama, Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone was convicted on all seven counts against him — including witness tampering.
Needless to say, by committing additional impeachable offenses in real-time, President Trump is making his already indefensible position even more indefensible for the Republican Party.
In other news…
- Vox: A State Department aide overheard Trump pushing for Ukrainian investigations into Biden
- ABC News: WH record of Trump’s 1st call with Ukraine president differs from earlier description
- The Wall Street Journal: Federal Prosecutors Probe Giuliani’s Links to Ukrainian Energy Projects
- CNN: Trump talks Russia probe audit with attorney general and White House counsel in Oval Office meeting
- AP: Ukraine feels abandoned amid US impeachment drama
- BuzzFeed News: “Sickening” And “Proof” Of Racism: DHS Officials Said Stephen Miller Must Go After His Emails Were Released
- CNN: Trump ignores Pentagon advice and intervenes in military war crimes cases
- Politico: Judge slams feds over murky stance on McCabe
- The Daily Beast: Gordon Sondland Worked With Stephen Miller to Boost Immigration From Europe: WaPo
- The Daily Beast: Russia Takes Over Vacated U.S. Air Base in Northern Syria
- TheHill: Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens
- Los Angeles Times: California school shooter dies of self-inflicted wound
- The New York Times: Court Stops Execution of Rodney Reed in Texas After Outcry
- ABC News: Trump rails against impeachment hearing at Louisiana rally for governor’s race
- The Independent: Boris Johnson falsely claims there is ‘no evidence’ of Russian interference in UK politics
- BBC News: A rubbish story: China’s mega-dump full 25 years ahead of schedule