A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 151st 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 151.
“Historic” has been one of the most used descriptors in recent weeks, and this week was no different.
For the fourth time in American history, a President of the United States has had articles of impeachment against him approved by the House Judiciary Committee. And by this time next week, there will have been a third President impeached by the full House of Representatives and his name is Donald John Trump.
The past month of impeachment hearings culminated in marathon sessions this week with the Democrats presenting their closing arguments. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing in which Democrats presented the findings of the House Intelligence Committee’s Official Impeachment Report while Republicans presented their fact-averse counter-arguments.
From Wednesday night until around midnight Friday morning, the House Judiciary held what felt like an endless public markup session on the two articles of impeachment against President Trump. Republicans spent all of their time repeatedly yelling and screaming their various conspiracy theories and false narratives to no avail. The amendments they tried to put forth were all struck down by the Democratic majority. In a Friday morning 10 am vote, the House Judiciary Committee passed both the Abuse Of Power and Obstruction Of Congress articles of impeachment against PresidentTrup.
As this vote was taking place, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney at the center of the Ukraine extortion plot, was at the White House with President Trump. Rudy Giuliani had just returned from Ukraine where he was still pursuing probes of Trump’s political targets. President Trump is still engaging in the conduct he is being impeached for.
We also learned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is coordinating the Senate trial with the White House and they have pre-determined President Trump’s acquittal. They are prejudging the case in order to protect the corrupt leader of their party. From House Republicans’ gaslighting lies throughout the impeachment hearings to Senate Republicans’ authoritarian fealty to President Trump, the GOP continues to show the depths of their democracy-eroding sycophancy.
In other news this week, Inspector General Horowitz presented his findings on the Russia probe, President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the second time in the White House, and the Supreme Court has agreed to take up a consequential case regarding President Trump’s tax returns.
Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.
House Judiciary Presents Final Impeachment Case
Day 1,054: Monday, December 9
Today, House Democrats outlined their final case for impeaching President Donald Trump. Democratic Counsels Barry Berke and Daniel Goldman laid out a clear case that President Trump extorted Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by investigating his political targets. Republicans, on the other hand, presented nothing but stunts and false narratives.
While this second House Judiciary impeachment hearing was framed as the Democrats’ last chance to convince the American people to support impeachment, it was actually the Republicans’ last chance to convince them out of it. Impeachment support has remained steady at around 50% and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that articles of impeachment are in the works. Given the fact Pelosi knows how to count votes better than most, you can bet she has them. Donald Trump will be the 3rd President of the United States impeached in the House of Representatives. When it happens, it will be because of his corrupt conduct and the GOP’s weak defenses, like the ones we saw today.
Aside from pushing the false Russia-created Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory and attacks on the impeachment process, House GOP Counsel Steve Castor specifically listed four key counter-arguments to the facts Democrats have outlined:
1. Castor claims the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call shows there was no “quid pro quo” or pressure.
2. Castor cites the fact President Trump and President Zelensky claim there was no pressure.
3. Castor falsely claimed that Ukraine did not know military aid was being withheld on the day of the July 25 call.
4. Castor claims that the hold on aid was released without any announcement of the probes.
I debunked all four of these defenses and more in my latest analysis for The Independent:
Castor spent time during his presentation discussing the debunked allegations against the Bidens and Russia’s Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory. Castor claimed a few Ukrainian officials spoke out and wrote an op-ed against then-candidate Trump in 2016. Those Ukrainian remarks came after Trump said he’d consider recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. Castor then tried to make the case that this was election interference. This is an asinine false equivalency that seeks to conflate a few outspoken Ukrainians with the top-down, Vladimir Putin-ordered, Russian hacking and spread of propaganda reaching millions of Americans.
Another line of defense from Castor was that the $391 million military aid was withheld for a good reason, and that President Trump was concerned about corruption in Ukraine generally. This is contradicted by witness testimony that indicated the aid was withheld to pressure Ukraine and reports that indicate a retroactive attempt to find a legit justification for the hold. That line of defense also runs contrary to the July 25 transcript memo where President Trump specifically asked for investigations into the Bidens and the Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory, not corruption broadly. Multiple witnesses testified that Trump was only concerned about those investigations and former White House adviser Fiona Hill testified that “corruption” was code for the Bidens.
Castor also stated that the aid was released for a good faith reason and no probes were announced. In reality, it was released on September 11 after the White House was made aware of the whistleblower complaint and two days before Zelensky was scheduled to announce the probes on CNN. Castor also claimed that Ukraine didn’t know the military aid was withheld until it was publicly reported in August. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia Laura Cooper’s testimony directly contradicted this. Cooper said that Ukrainians sent emails on July 25, the very same day as the Trump-Zelensky call, asking about the withheld aid.
Castor also claimed that there was “no pressure” on the July 25 phone call, citing President Zelensky’s public statements about feeling no pressure. First off, do you expect the victim of an extortion plot to admit they were being extorted, especially if they’re still at the whim of the perpetrator? The pressure was clearly implicit on the call since it came in the context of Ambassador Gordon Sondland repeatedly relaying the quid pro quo directly to Ukrainian officials. Also, Ukraine is a country that is dependent on aid from the US. As Lt Col Alexander Vindman testified, when the President asks a country like Ukraine for a “favor,” it’s actually a demand. It’s important to note Zelensky still has not received a White House meeting.
All Republicans have left to grasp on are straws. House Republicans are handing Senate Republicans a tough case to defend. The Senate will likely acquit President Trump, but it will surely be hard for vulnerable purple state GOP Senators to defend the acquittal vote to their constituents.
In other news…
- CNN: Democrats to lay out articles of impeachment Tuesday following contentious hearing
- The Washington Post: U.S. officials misled the public about the war in Afghanistan, confidential documents reveal
- NBC News: Internal Justice watchdog finds that Russia probe was justified, not biased against Trump
- The Washington Post: The inspector general report just blew up Trump’s lies. So Barr is rushing to the rescue.
- The New York Times: For Trump, Instinct After Florida Killings Is Simple: Protect Saudis
- NBC News: Supreme Court leaves in place Kentucky abortion law mandating ultrasounds
- The Washington Post: Inside Giuliani’s dual roles: Power-broker-for-hire and shadow foreign policy adviser
- ABC News: Ivanka Trump and controversial ‘dossier’ author Chris Steele have a backstory: Source
- Politico: Possible pardons loom for former Trump aides
- TheHill: FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference
- CNN: Houston police chief criticizes McConnell and Senate Republicans over guns: ‘Whose side are you on?’
- HuffPost: Trump Slammed For Insisting ‘Killer’ Real Estate Jews Will Back Him To Save Their Wealth
- ABC News: Russia banned from Olympics again over doping cover-up
- CNBC: ‘It’s now or never’: Russia and Ukraine hold peace talks in Paris
- Reuters: Russian forces enter former Islamic State stronghold in Syria after U.S. pullback
- The Daily Beast: A Perennial Congressional Candidate Beloved by Trump World Was Just Arrested on Stalking Charges
- CNN: Finland’s Sanna Marin to become world’s youngest prime minister at 34
Articles Of Impeachment Announced And Released
Day 1,055: Tuesday, December 10
Tuesday’s top stories:
- The New York Times: Read the Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump
- ABC News: Officer, 3 civilians dead after massive gun battle breaks out in New Jersey
- CNN: Democrats announce new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement with White House
- CNN: Growing divide between Trump and McConnell over impeachment trial
- Politico: Here are the Russia probe conspiracy theories debunked by the DOJ inspector general report
- Axios: Trump to meet with Russian foreign minister for first time since 2017
- Rantt Media: GOP Attacks On Women Impeachment Witnesses Backfire
- Newsweek: Conservative Attorney Group Slams Trump’s AG: ‘Bill Barr Has Grossly Mischaracterized and Subverted’ IG Findings
- NBC News: Trump blasts FBI director Wray for backing IG report that 2016 campaign probe was justified
- Vox: Trump gave Russia’s top envoy a White House meeting. He still hasn’t done that for Ukraine.
- Axios: Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page sues Justice Department for privacy violations
- NBC News: Pentagon IG opens review into troop deployment at U.S.-Mexico border
- CNN: Putin’s plan for America is working better than he could have hoped
- CNN: Amazon claims Trump interfered with Pentagon contract in order to hurt Jeff Bezos
- ABC News: Ukraine and Russia agree to prisoner exchange by year’s end
- AP: South Korea says North’s recent test was of rocket engine
- Bloomberg: U.K. Economy Fails to Grow Ahead of Brexit-Dominated Election
- NPR: Democratic Governors Make A Big Comeback Under Trump
- CNN: Trump’s former physician files to run for Congress in Texas
Marathon Impeachment Debate Begins
Day 1,056: Wednesday, December 11
Wednesday’s top stories:
- NBC News: House debates articles of impeachment against Trump
- Axios: Prosecutors say Giuliani associate Lev Parnas hid $1 million payment from Russia
- The Washington Post: Michael Horowitz just shot down a bunch of Trump conspiracy theories
- CNN: Federal judge blocks use of billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to build border wall
- CNN: 2 GOP senators say McConnell will move to acquit Trump, not merely dismiss charges
- TheHill: GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling
- NPR: Betsy DeVos Overruled Education Department Findings On Defrauded Students
- The Daily Beast: Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us ‘a Terrible Signal’
- McClatchyDC: Suit against Pompeo on Trump-Putin meeting notes to proceed
- CNN: Whistleblower’s team preparing for possibility of Senate testimony
- The Guardian: Senate committee passes bipartisan bill to stop Trump withdrawing from Nato
- CNN: Israel heads for unprecedented third election in a year, as Netanyahu clings to power
- Vox: America’s weak gun laws enable shootings by terrorists and extremists
- ProPublica: Donald Trump Jr. Went to Mongolia, Got Special Treatment From the Government and Killed an Endangered Sheep
- Time: Greta Thunberg: TIME’s Person of the Year 2019
- Reuters: China imprisoned more journalists than any other country in 2019 – CPJ
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney climate protest: Town Hall swamped with demonstrators as thousands demand action
- CNBC: Pound shaken as UK election poll puts Johnson outright win in doubt
- Vox: Amazon warehouse workers say they’re doing “back-breaking” work without paid time off
- Mediaite: The Defense Rests: GOP Leaders Reportedly Considering Not Calling a Single Witness in Trump Senate Impeachment Trial
Marathon Impeachment Debate Continues
Day 1,057: Thursday, December 12
Thursday’s top stories:
- The Washington Post: Impeachment live updates: House Judiciary panel debates Trump’s Ukraine conduct as it moves toward approval of articles of impeachment
- NBC News: Trump mocks Greta Thunberg after she wins Time Person of the Year
- Vox: Gaetz’s effort to make the impeachment hearing about Hunter Biden’s problems backfired spectacularly
- NBC News: GOP Rep. Gohmert publicly names person some Republicans say is whistleblower
- ABC News: Heavily redacted communications on withholding of Ukraine aid released
- NBC News: McConnell’s dilemma: Senate trial with Trump’s witnesses, or a quick vote
- Los Angeles Times: Millions in military aid at center of impeachment hasn’t reached Ukraine
- CNN: Trump signs off in principle on tentative China trade deal agreement
- Politico: Trump tightens grips on judges as McConnell wins 50th Circuit pick
- ABC News: Trump considering adding Alan Dershowitz to impeachment legal team: Sources
- TheHill: Pence’s office denies Schiff request to declassify call with Ukrainian leader
- USA TODAY: Democratic Rep. Van Drew to vote against Trump impeachment, says others could join him
- USA TODAY: Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over objections of Trump and Turkish government
- Reuters: Israel bars Gaza’s Christians from visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem at Christmas
- AP: Pentagon tests long-banned ballistic missile over Pacific
- ProPublica: Kansas Abandons Technology Trumpeted by Kris Kobach, Trump’s Onetime Voter Fraud Czar
- HuffPost: Pastor Who Says Jews Are Going To Hell Speaks At Trump’s Hanukkah Party
- The Daily Beast: Trump Blasts Trudeau and ‘Pain in the Ass’ Macron Behind Closed Doors Following Viral Video
Abuse Of Power: House Judiciary Approves Impeachment Of Trump
Day 1,058: Friday, December 13
History has been made. The House Judiciary Committee has just passed articles of impeachment against President Trump. The impeachment resolution has two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It passed by a party-line 23-17 vote and will now move to a full House vote next week. This impeachment inquiry was sparked by President Trump’s extortion of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election and subsequent stonewalling of Congress.
Donald J. Trump is now the fourth President of the United States to have articles of impeachment passed against him in the House Judiciary Committee. Trump joins the ranks of President Andrew Johnson, President Bill Clinton, and President Richard Nixon. Unlike Johnson and Clinton, Nixon avoided a full House vote on impeachment by resigning. Although President Trump’s obstruction has followed in the footsteps of Nixon, he will not go as far as to resign. So this move means Trump will be the 3rd President in history to be impeached in the House and face a Senate trial.
The vote came after days of marathon hearings in the House Judiciary Committee debating the resolution. The hearings began on Wednesday night at 7 pm, continued on Thursday at 9 am and lasted 14 hours before House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) postponed the vote until this morning.
Throughout the past few months of hearings, House Republicans have pushed the same debunked false narratives while House Democrats have outlined the facts of President Trump’s misconduct. Now, we head into a likely January 2020 impeachment Senate trial where Senate Republicans are set to acquit President Trump in spite of the overwhelming evidence supporting a conviction.
In other news…
- Vox: Amid impeachment, Trump and Giuliani are still coordinating on anti-Biden dirt
- CNN: McConnell and White House counsel agree to coordinate impeachment trial plans
- TheHill: House Democrat calls on McConnell to recuse himself from impeachment trial
- NBC News: Supreme Court to rule on release of Trump tax records
- CNN: US prosecutors turn to possible bribery charges in investigation over Ukrainian natural gas company
- TheHill: Judge rejects DOJ effort to delay House lawsuit against Barr, Ross
- CNN: White House further limits officials on Trump’s foreign leader calls in wake of Ukraine scandal
- CNBC: Trump halts new China tariffs and rolls back some of the prior duties on $120 billion of imports
- NBC News: House Republicans narrow in on potential Democratic defectors for final impeachment votes
- BBC: New Kentucky governor restores voting rights to ex-felons
- HuffPost: Mitch McConnell Brags About Blocking Obama For 2 Years, Then Laughs About It
- The New York Times: U.K. Election Updates: In Victory, Johnson Promises Brexit and More
- Evening Standard: Hundreds of protesters descend on Downing Street to ‘defy Tory rule’ after Boris Johnson’s election victory
- Vox: UN climate talks in Madrid have stalled. Countries are blaming the US.
- BBC: EU carbon neutrality: Leaders agree 2050 target without Poland
- Rantt Media: The GOP Gerrymanders To Uphold Minority Rule