A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 148th 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 148.
In the public impeachment hearings, we saw foreign service officials put America’s interests over their personal interests. Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, put their loyalty to Trump above their loyalty to country, even if it meant wittingly pushing Russian propaganda.
In a marathon of hearings from Tuesday-Thursday, multiple witnesses, under oath and threat of perjury, revealed even more details about President Trump’s effort to extort Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf. By Thursday, it was very clear that a White House meeting and military aid was withheld from Ukraine in an effort to pressure them into investigating the Bidens and the 2016 election. And more than that, we learned that “everyone was on the loop.”
On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman offered up a moment of hope with his aspirational vision of America. When asked by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) why he felt he could tell his father that he shouldn’t worry about him speaking out against the President, Vindman replied: “Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended. That all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters.”
Vindman’s testimony highlighted a key meeting where he saw Ambassador Gordon Sondland discuss the “quid pro quo” in a July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials. Special Advisor to Vice President Pence Jennifer Williams, former US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, and former NSC official Tim Morrison also testified on Tuesday, providing additional damning testimony.
On Wednesday, Sondland finally testified and corroborated the testimony of the various foreign service officials who mentioned him. In a bombshell opening statement, Sondland explicitly confirmed the extortion plot and provided email evidence that proved Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in the loop. Sondland said that he didn’t know how this could be “shadow diplomacy” if he was coordinating direction with Trump’s Cabinet and with President Trump via Rudy Giuliani. This was the most important quote of Sondland’s testimony:
“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
On Thursday, former Russia expert on the National Security Council Dr. Fiona Hill looked Republican lawmakers in their faces and said:
“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
In the face of this overwhelming evidence of Trump’s extortion scheme, Republican lawmakers resorted to smears of witnesses and continued to perpetuate the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. In the following days, President Trump and multiple Republican lawmakers went on news networks and pressed this conspiracy theory further.
The entire Republican Party is complicit in the Russian government’s effort to frame Ukraine for 2016 election interference. By doing so, they are being witting assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The lows they are willing to stoop to protect this president continue to stretch the imagination.
Let’s dive into yet another Upresidented week.
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The Calm Before The Hearings
Day 1,033: Monday, November 18
Monday’s top stories:
- CNN: Trump administration knew in May Zelensky felt pressured to investigate Bidens
- Axios: WSJ: Sondland emails show he briefed Trump admin officials on Ukraine ahead of Trump’s call
- CNN: Trump’s aides eye moving impeachment witnesses out of White House jobs
- CNBC: Trump attacks Pence aide as ‘Never Trumper’ after she said Ukraine call was ‘inappropriate’
- NBC News: Trump’s impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats’ starring roles
- ABC News: House lawyer tells court investigators looking at whether Trump lied to Mueller
- NBC News: White House defends Trump’s surprise medical exam amid skepticism online
- NBC News: Senior Trump admin official Mina Chang resigns after embellishing resumé
- ABC News: 70% of Americans say Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine were wrong: POLL
- HuffPost: Trump Hails New Farm Aid Billions As Report Reveals Money Helps Wealthy, Southerners
- BBC: US says Israeli settlements are no longer illegal
- Reuters: U.S. condemns ‘unjustified use of force’ in Hong Kong: senior official
- Axios: Pompeo again declines to defend diplomats embroiled in impeachment
- Politico: Ron Johnson goes after witness set to testify in impeachment inquiry
- NBC News: Politico, DNC at odds over Democratic debate moderator
- AP: Criminal charges expected this week against Epstein guards
- Reuters: Bolivia’s interim president cancels trip due to ‘credible threat’ as crisis roars on
- CBS News: Russian troops take command of U.S. airbase in northern Syria
- AP: North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free
Impeachment Hearing Marathon Begins
Day 1,034: Tuesday, November 19
Tuesday’s top stories:
- The Independent (an article from yours truly): A Breakdown Of Vindman And Williams Testimonies
- Vox: Kurt Volker, impeachment witness requested by Republicans, debunks many of their arguments
- CNN: Alexander Vindman has reached out to Army about his family’s safety amid attacks by Trump and GOP lawmakers
- CNN: US diplomat in Kiev said he’s ‘never seen anything’ like Trump-Sondland call in restaurant
- TheHill: Dozens of civil rights groups call on Trump to fire Stephen Miller
- The Fiscal Times: House Votes to Push Shutdown Deadline to December
- NBC News: ISIS rebuilds in Syria after Turkish incursion and U.S. drawdown, Pentagon watchdog says
- CNN: Supreme Court stops Trump financial documents from going to House on Wednesday
- AP: Ukrainian gas executive cooperating in US probe of Giuliani
- Bloomberg: U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Measure Backing Hong Kong
- Los Angeles Times: $35 million in Pentagon aid hasn’t reached Ukraine, despite White House assurances
- Yahoo News: China signs defense agreement with South Korea as U.S. angers Seoul with demand for $5 billion troop payment
- NBC News: Russian web trolls boo Biden, often boost Gabbard, report finds
- AOL: Man pleads guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Omar
- NBC News: As the Democratic debate draws attention to Georgia, Stacey Abrams fights for voters’ rights
- Quartz: China is threatening to hobble Hong Kong’s courts because it didn’t like a ruling
- CNN: Amazon deforestation rate hits highest level in over a decade
“Everyone Was In The Loop”
Day 1,035: Wednesday, November 20
Today’s public impeachment hearing was the fourth and most devastating thus far. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland confirmed the “quid pro quo” (Ukraine extortion plot) at the heart of the House impeachment inquiry and delivered hard evidence that proved multiple Cabinet officials were fully aware of it.
In a nutshell, Sondland testified that Ukraine’s proposed White House meeting was directly tied to the Trump-demanded investigations of Burisma (the Bidens) and the Ukraine 2016 meddling conspiracy theory. Sondland also said he later presumed Ukraine’s military aid was also tied to these investigations. Sondland repeatedly said he was acting on President Trump’s orders and that he saw Rudy Giuliani as a conduit through which Trump was delivering orders.
Sondland also claimed that President Trump just wanted a public statement and didn’t put an emphasis on the investigations to be followed through on. This took down the narrative that Trump was concerned about corruption more broadly, and that builds the Democratic case that Trump was just seeking investigations of his political targets ahead of 2020.
What we’ll highlight here is the fact Sondland revealed the extent to which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was kept in the loop of key developments in this extortion plot, and that Sondland directly told Vice President Mike Pence as well.
Sondland testified that “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” I broke this down in my analysis for The Independent:
Sondland went on to take a different route than the career diplomats who testified before him. While they painted this plot as “shadow diplomacy,” Sondland essentially stated that the pressure campaign against Ukraine was the official policy of the Trump Administration. Sondland stated that: “As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the President.” Sondland proceeded to show emails proving he kept Trump Administration officials at the highest level updated on this campaign to get Ukraine to announce the investigations.
In a single email, Sondland implicated Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Perry, Brian McCormack (Perry’s Chief of Staff), Executive Secretary at the State Department Lisa Kenna, Acting Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, and Mr. Mulvaney’s Senior Advisor Robert Blair. Sondland sent them a July 19th email that read: “I Talked to Zelensky just now… He is prepared to receive Potus’ call. Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone.'”
Sondland sent subsequent updates to Pompeo. Sondland also testified that before the Warsaw meeting with Zelensky, Sondland told Pence he had concerns that the hold on Ukraine’s military aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. Sondland said that Pence nodded his head. Pompeo and Pence previously denied all knowledge of the pursuit of these investigations.
It’s also important to note that Mick Mulvaney previously admitted to the “quid pro quo,” and his involvement in the withheld military aid has been corroborated by multiple witnesses. Bill Taylor alleged that an OMB staffer said: “the directive [to withhold aid] had come from the President to the Chief of Staff to OMB.” Jennifer Williams alleged that OMB representatives told her that Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney directed the hold on Ukraine military aid.
As this impeachment inquiry continues to unfold, more Trump Administration officials are being exposed for the complicit sycophants that they are – and so are the Republicans defending this conduct. The American people should keep this in mind at the ballot box.
In other news…
- CBS News: Candidates for 2020 Democrats face off in presidential primary debate in Atlanta
- The Daily Beast: Lev Parnas Helped Rep. Devin Nunes’ Investigations
- BuzzFeed News: The Senate Has Been Quietly Interviewing People Involved In The Whistleblower Complaint
- Reuters: Ukraine widens probe against Burisma founder to embezzlement of state funds
- The Daily Beast: Trump White House Blasts Out Anti-Vindman Talking Points to Surrogates
- TheHill: Former Bush aide defends Vindman, criticizes GOP congressmen for ‘defaming’ him
- The Daily Beast: Nikki Haley Used System for Unclassified Material to Send ‘Confidential’ Information
- AP: Bloomberg spending $15M-$20M to register half million voters
- TheHill: House passes bill in support of Hong Kong protestors
- NBC News: Netanyahu rival Gantz fails to form government, prolonging Israel’s political uncertainty
- BBC: Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties
- Axios: The Trumpification of Elise Stefanik
- Politico: House panel approves sweeping vaping ban as Trump effort stalls
- TheHill: States brace for massive voter turnout in 2020
- BBC News: Simon Cheng: Former UK consulate worker says he was tortured in China
- Sky News: Prince Andrew: BT and three universities abandon ties with duke after Epstein TV interview
Fiona Hill Calls Out The GOP
Day 1,036: Thursday, November 21
Thursday’s top stories:
- 1. The Independent (another article from yours truly): Fiona Hill Called Republicans Out For Pushing Russian Conspiracy Theories
- ABC News: 5 takeaways from the 5th Democratic debate
- Politico: White House backs full Senate trial if House impeaches Trump
- Axios: Trump signs short-term spending bill to fund government through mid-December
- NBC News: Trump hosted Zuckerberg for undisclosed dinner at the White House in October
- ProPublica: Prosecutors Investigating the Trump Organization Zero In on Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg
- CNN: Prosecutors subpoena Trump fundraisers as part of Giuliani investigation
- ABC News: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu indicted for bribery, fraud, breach of trust
- Mother Jones: Giuliani Says He Is Still Talking to Ukrainian Officials About Biden and 2016
- The Washington Post: Secret Service spent quarter of a million dollars at Trump’s properties in first five months of his term, records show
- CNN: Homeland Security Department sued for allegedly tracking and interrogating journalists
- Axios: House committee passes marijuana bill to legalize the drug at a federal level
- CNN: FBI official under investigation after allegedly altering document in 2016 Russia probe
- CNN: President Trump says he won’t allow Navy to punish SEAL who posed with dead body
- CNBC: Millions in Hong Kong head to the polls amid protests, in what could be a ‘barometer’ of public sentiment
- TheHill: GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act
- HuffPost: Trump Boasted About A ‘New’ Apple Plant In Texas. It Opened In 2013.
- The Guardian: Trump press secretary backtracks claim Obama officials left ‘You will fail’ notes
- CNBC: America has spent $6.4 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says
Republicans Continue To Stand By Trump
Day 1,037: Friday, November 22
Friday’s top stories:
- Rantt Media: How Republicans Reacted To The Impeachment Hearings
- CNN Exclusive: Giuliani associate willing to tell Congress Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official to get dirt on Biden
- AP Analysis: Mountain of impeachment evidence is beyond dispute
- The New York Times: Charges of Ukrainian Meddling? A Russian Operation, U.S. Intelligence Says
- The Daily Beast: Lindsey Graham Launches Senate Investigation Into Bidens and Ukraine
- The Daily Beast: Parnas Attended Giuliani’s Madrid Meeting With Zelensky Aide
- CNN: House GOP disregards expert warnings that debunked Ukraine theory helps Russia
- Politico: Impeachment is about to get a Robert Mueller reprise
- Vox: Trump Fox & Friends interview: Trump pushes Ukraine conspiracy theory
- TIME: Exclusive: CEO of Ukraine State Gas Firm Preparing to Testify in Giuliani Probe
- AP: The Trump impeachment hearings highlight immigrants’ stories
- Vox: Swing-state senators are hugging close to Trump despite 2019 election losses
- CNN: Biden: Lindsey Graham will ‘regret his whole life’ doing Trump’s bidding on Ukraine
- Vox: What’s next in the House impeachment inquiry
- CNN: Trump makes at least 18 false claims in ranting Fox & Friends interview
- USA TODAY: John Bolton re-opens Twitter account, says White House withheld his access
- BuzzFeed News: While Everyone In DC Talks About Ukraine, There’s An Actual War Going On
- CNN: Pelosi to participate in CNN town hall as House weighs impeachment
- CNN: There have been at least 4 hate incidents reported on college campuses this week
- Reuters: Hong Kong holds its breath ahead of polls amid lull in violence
- Reuters: South Korea reverses decision to suspend intelligence deal with Japan