A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 156th 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 week of his presidency. This is week 156.
Lev Parnas: “President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President.”
President Trump: “I don’t know him, I don’t know Parnas… I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him.. I don’t even know who this man is… I don’t know him, I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to him.”
The pictures above tell us who is telling the truth.
This was the week Lev Parnas further incriminated the highest levels of Trump’s Administration in the Ukraine extortion plot at the center of President Trump’s impeachment. This was the week Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) selected House impeachment managers and transmitted President Trump’s articles of impeachment to the Senate. This was the week before the most consequential moment of Donald Trump’s presidency is set to begin, as the Senate decides whether or not his presidency should come to an end.
Let’s dive into yet another Unpresidented week.
Russia Election Interference 2.0
Day 1,089: Monday, January 13
Monday’s top stories:
- The New York Times: Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment
- CNN: Giuliani associate Lev Parnas turns over thousands of pages of documents to impeachment investigators
- NBC News: Esper said he ‘didn’t see’ intelligence backing up Trump claim Iran was preparing to attack 4 embassies
- NBC News: Trump authorized Soleimani’s killing 7 months ago, with conditions
- CBS News: White House expects GOP defections on impeachment witnesses
- CNN: Iranian leaders facing pressure at home and abroad as public anger mounts over downed plane
- BBC News: Iran plane downing: Canadian PM promises ‘justice’ at memorial
- CNN: Oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second
- Axios: Trump tells Kim Jong-un he wants to resume talks
- Business Insider: Trump says he ‘saved’ protections for pre-existing healthcare conditions — but he’s actually tried shredding them for 3 years
- Axios: 66% of Americans want John Bolton to testify in Senate impeachment trial
- NBC News: Pelosi accuses Trump of a ‘cover-up’ after president lashes out over impeachment
- Axios: Treasury Department drops China’s currency manipulator designation
- CNN: Prosecutors say former Rep. Chris Collins should get a nearly 5-year prison sentence
- NBC News: Warren says Sanders told her a woman couldn’t win the presidency
- Bloomberg: Human Rights Watch Boss Says He Was Barred From Hong Kong
- CNBC: China is the ‘most serious threat’ to the United States, says former security advisor to Obama
- NBC News: Warren ‘disappointed’ that Sanders reportedly ‘sending his volunteers out to trash me’
- The Washington Post: White House shares picture of ‘first snow’ in Washington amid ‘unseasonably warm’ weather
The Parnas Docs
Day 1,090: Tuesday, January 14
Tuesday’s top stories:
- 1. CNN: House Democrats provide new evidence of Giuliani’s push to meet with Zelensky
- The Daily Beast: Parnas Associate Robert F. Hyde Tracked Ousted Ambassador’s Movements in Kyiv: Docs
- NBC News Live Updates: January Democratic debate live updates: Six candidates face off in Des Moines
- The New York Times: House to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate as New Evidence Emerges
- CNN: Barr and Pompeo shift justification for Iran strike from ‘imminent’ threat to deterrence
- The New York Times: Senate Has Votes to Pass Limits on Trump’s Iran War Power, Likely Drawing a Veto
- CNN: State Department security officials weren’t notified of ‘imminent’ threats to US embassies
- AP: GOP senators reject plans to dismiss Trump impeachment
- NBC News: McConnell says he expects Trump impeachment trial to start next Tuesday
- NBC News: Iran says it has made arrests over plane disaster after days of protests
- Politico: Sanders camp admits anti-Warren script was deployed in multiple early states
- BBC News: Iran plane downing: Person who filmed video arrested
- Vox: Trump: Saudi Arabia paid the US $1 billion for more troops. Pentagon: Eh, not quite.
- Rantt Media: The Traumatizing Effect Gun Violence Has On Children
- CNBC: US calls shooting by Saudi officer in Florida ‘act of terrorism,’ expels 21 Saudi students from training
- The Guardian: Justin Trudeau: US escalation partly to blame for Iran plane deaths
- Reuters: Europeans trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal
- BBC: Australia fires: Smoke to make ‘full circuit’ around globe, Nasa says
- Reuters: WHO says new China coronavirus could spread, warns hospitals worldwide
The Parnas Docs
Day 1,091: Wednesday, January 15
Wednesday’s top stories:
- Rantt Media: Who Are The Impeachment Managers And What Will They Do?
- The Washington Post: House managers deliver impeachment articles to Senate; McConnell’s office says Senate will formally accept them Thursday
- Politico: Democrats release more Parnas evidence, including voicemails with Trump associates
- NBC News: Giuliani associate Parnas says Trump ‘knew exactly what was going on’
- The New York Times: Trump Signs China Trade Deal, Putting Economic Conflict on Pause
- NBC News: Democrats to investigate ‘profoundly alarming’ texts that appear to show Yovanovitch surveillance
- BuzzFeed News: Key Witnesses In The Mueller Probe Told Investigators How Sean Hannity Advised Trump’s Closest Aides
- FiveThirtyEight: Did The Last Democratic Debate Before Iowa Change Anything?
- NBC News: Michael Flynn moves to withdraw guilty plea after Justice Department flips on prison time
- NBC News: Pelosi calls for witnesses at Trump trial after new evidence
- CNBC: ‘Danger tomorrow’: Iran’s Rouhani makes veiled threat to US and EU troops in Middle East
- ABC News: New lawsuit claims Jeffrey Epstein trafficked girls to US Virgin Islands up to 2018
- NBC News: Treasury’s internal watchdog is probing Trump administration Opportunity Zone program
- The Washington Post: ‘A long time to wait’: Virginia passes Equal Rights Amendment in historic vote
- AP: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to ban guns from Capitol grounds
- ABC News: Avalanches kill at least 76 in Kashmir
As The Senate Trial Begins, Pelosi’s Delay Pays Off
Day 1,092: Thursday, January 16
The House has officially handed impeachment over to the Senate, and the trial is set to begin next week. It’s important to keep in mind the fact this trial could’ve already been completed if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chose to make one consequential decision differently. On December 18, 2019, the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump for his Ukraine extortion plot. Rather than immediately transmit them to the Senate, Pelosi took a different approach. Pelosi decided to use the remaining leverage she had in order to push for a fair Senate trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had already declared that he would not be an impartial juror, as his oath requires, and promised a quick acquittal of President Trump as he coordinated the process with the White House. Pelosi knew that time was on her side, so she held onto the articles of impeachment to highlight the corrupt process Senate Republicans were planning, which involved no witnesses being called and a speedy acquittal vote. Many did not understand the strategy and felt it was unrealistic to expect McConnell to make major concessions up front. But since Pelosi’s decision to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, there has been significant movement favorable to the Democrats – which we’ll cover in more detail later in this article. In spite of those developments, some in the media have claimed that Pelosi somehow failed. Chief among them is CNN Columnist Chris Cillizza, who is infamous for his lame takes on current events.
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) January 14, 2020
Cillizza had his article echoed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
— Kevin McCarthy (@kevinomccarthy) January 14, 2020
This premise is false. Pelosi’s impeachment delay was objectively a success. It was less a gamble and more of a calculated risk. Public opinion has moved in favor of witnesses being heard in the Senate trial, some Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote for witnesses to be heard, and some significantly damning new evidence has surfaced relating to the allegations at the center of Trump’s impeachment. Let’s break it all down.
More Impeachment Evidence Has Surfaced
There have been numerous developments that bolster House Democrats’ impeachment case and further implicates Trump and his allies. We’ll start with Thursday’s new conclusion from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. government’s non-partisan watchdog. As we know, President Trump withheld congressionally approved aid from Ukraine to pressure them to investigate his political targets. In a searing legal opinion, the GAO outlined their conclusions that the Trump Administration violated the law by withholding that aid.
This bombshell legal opinion from the independent @USGAO demonstrates, without a doubt, that the Trump Administration illegally withheld assistance from Ukraine and the public evidence shows that the president himself ordered this illegal act. pic.twitter.com/bkwyQ4Vk3K
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 16, 2020
Want to highlight something @kateashaw1 noticed in GAO opinion. It doesn’t just conclude White House broke law w Ukraine aid (mirroring Article 1). Also says was obstruction of the investigation (Article 2)&raises profound constitutional worries. That obstruction still continuing pic.twitter.com/008da4KeUv
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) January 16, 2020
This strengthens the Abuse of Power article of impeachment and voids the GOP argument that there was no underlying crime, so Trump’s conduct wasn’t impeachable (which of course is a false claim within itself because misconduct doesn’t have to be a crime in order for it to be impeachable). It also bolsters the Obstruction of Congress article of impeachment, as Neal Katyal pointed out. In the weeks before this finding, there have been several other evidentiary developments. In December, the Center for Public Integrity revealed documents proving that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officially withheld Ukraine’s military aid 91 minutes after the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call. Right after the new year, Just Security reported out emails that showed the Pentagon warned the White House withholding that aid could be illegal (GAO proved them right). The most significant new development came this week, in the documentary evidence provided by indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. Among the two document dumps that have been released by House Democrats, were the following:
- A contemporaneous note was written by Parnas highlighting the Ukraine probes they sought.
- A letter from Rudy Giuliani to President Zelenskly that sought a May 2019 meeting with Zelensky about a “specific request” (which appears to be Biden probes) and that this meeting is being sought with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
- An apparent effort to track the whereabouts of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
- Apparent coordination of the smear campaign against Yovanovitch between Parnas and a Trump PAC official who fed negative stories about Yovanovitch to Donald Trump Jr. for tweeting purposes.
- Communications between Parnas and RNC Co-Chair Tommy Hicks Jr.
There it is.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President.” Parnas isn’t going to get leniency from the court if he lies—truth telling now is what’ll help him. pic.twitter.com/oVpApVevCL — Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) January 16, 2020
.@Maddow: “[Was Giuliani] ever in contact with [Barr]…about the fact that he was trying to get Ukraine to announce these investigations into [Biden]?”
Here is Lev Parnas confirming that Mike Pence knew exactly why his trip to Zelensky’s inauguration was canceled and why Pence was going to Poland in place of Trump and was complicit in assisting with Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine. #MaddowParnas
.@Maddow: “Does it strike you as unusual or inappropriate that Devin Nunes would be one of the lead investigators?”
PARNAS: “I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw [Nunes] sitting up there…Because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.” pic.twitter.com/m1KgFb1fC1 — CAP Action (@CAPAction) January 16, 2020
While everything Parnas said should be taken with a grain of salt, these are serious allegations that are in line with what documentary evidence and previous testimony have indicated. It appears all of Trump’s allies were either in on the effort to pressure Ukraine into probing Biden or were aware of it. The fact the American people are now walking into this Senate trial with new evidence fresh on their minds puts GOP Senators in a difficult position. It makes it harder for them to not only acquit but to vote against hearing witnesses. Which brings us to our next point.
Witnesses Are More Likely To Be Called During The Trial
When the articles of impeachment were first passed, Republicans were giving no ground. It appeared there would be no witnesses called and a united GOP was set to quickly acquit President Trump. But time changed that. After Pelosi decided not to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate before Christmas, the united GOP began to appear more fractured on the trial process. On December 26, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s coordination of the Senate trial with the White House. On January 6, former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton said he’d be willing to testify if the Senate subpoenaed him. Senator Mitt Romey (R-UT) signaled that he would like to hear from Bolton. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) claimed that she was working with a small group of senators to push for a vote on witnesses appearing in the Senate trial. Polling subsequently indicated that 66% of Americans wanted to see John Bolton testify in the Senate trial. One has to wonder if vulnerable, purple state Republicans like Collins, who are up for re-election in 2020, saw this in their internal polling, triggering a shift in behavior. With Murkowski, Collins, and Romney potentially supporting witnesses in the Senate trial, Democrats are significantly better positioned heading into next week’s trial. They need 4 GOP votes to hit the 51 vote threshold for a motion to bring witnesses before the Senate to succeed. Senator Cory Garnder (R-CO) and Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ), who are both up for re-election in 2020, are ones to watch.
The Rantt Rundown
All of this wouldn’t have happened if Pelosi immediately handed impeachment over to the Senate. The Senate trial would’ve very likely been completed by now with Trump’s acquittal in the rearview mirror. But, that’s not the case. Here we are and the future is not yet written. Now, it’s up the House impeachment managers to make the impeachment case against Trump directly to the Senate. We will see if Republican Senators decide to uphold their oath to the Constitution or if they continue to uphold their loyalty to President Trump. In other news…
- Mother Jones: Ukraine Wants the FBI to Help Investigate Russian Hacking of Burisma
- The Washington Post: The Trump team keeps denying it knows Lev Parnas, despite growing photographic evidence
- CNN: Pompeo stonewalls as evidence emerges of possible surveillance of ex-Ukraine ambassador
- The Daily Beast: Devin Nunes Now Remembers Call With Lev Parnas
- NBC News: FBI visits Robert Hyde’s home and office after he’s swept into Ukraine scheme
- HuffPost: GOP Senator Dodges Impeachment Questions, Calls Reporter A ‘Liberal Hack’
- Defense One: Eleven US Troops Were Injured in Jan. 8 Iran Missile Strike
- Vox: How thousands of Iranians went from mourning a general to protesting the regime, in a week
- CNN: Warren accused Sanders in tense post-debate exchange of calling her a ‘liar’ on national TV
- CNBC: Here’s what China agreed to buy from the US in the phase one trade deal
- CNBC: The stock market has never been this big relative to the economy, signaling it could be overvalued
- Axios: Vladimir Putin eyes becoming Russia’s leader for life
- Reuters: Iran accuses Europe of yielding to ‘high school bully’ Trump in nuclear row
- The Guardian: Japan confirms first case of new China coronavirus strain
More Parnas Docs
Day 1,093: Friday, January 17
Friday’s top stories:
- CNN: Barr dropped into Giuliani meeting at Justice Department in previously undisclosed encounter
- HuffPost: Parnas Says He’s ‘Scared’ Of DOJ, Claims Trump’s Power Has Grown Under AG Barr
- MSNBC: House releases new evidence that show texts between Lev Parnas, Devin Nunes staffer
- TheHill: Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president
- AP: Supreme Court to hear Electoral College case that could alter future presidential elections
- The Washington Post: Federal prosecutors explore years-old media disclosure, raising fears Trump is using Justice Dept. for political gain
- The Washington Post: ‘A Very Stable Genius’ book excerpt: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals
- NPR: Reporters Battle New Restrictions In Trying To Cover Senate Impeachment Trial
- The Daily Beast: Trump Just Hired Jeffrey Epstein’s Lawyers
- The Washington Post: Trump’s defense will be led by a ‘lunatic,’ ‘wacko’ and ‘off his rocker’ Ken Starr, according to Trump himself
- Tampa Bay Times: Picture of Pam Bondi and Lev Parnas emerges after she joins Trump impeachment defense
- Axios: Trump tells HHS secretary he regrets wading into “that f***ing vaping thing”
- Newsweek: Democratic Rep Responds to Devin Nunes’ Threat of Defamation Lawsuit: ‘Take Your Letter and Shove It’
- Huffpost: Chris Collins, First U.S. Lawmaker To Endorse Trump, Gets 26-Month Prison Sentence
- The Daily Beast: Military Says 11 Troops Were Injured in Iran Strike, Contradicting Trump
- NBC News: Georgia election server showed signs of tampering, expert says
- ProPublica: Trump Says U.S. Is Ready for War. Not All His Troops Are So Sure.
- USA TODAY: Susan Collins surpasses Mitch McConnell as the most unpopular senator in a new poll
- NBC News: Flipping the Texas House: Inside Democrats’ effort to turn a red state blue
- CNN: Evelyn Yang reveals she was sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN while pregnant