A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 152nd Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Donald Trump is the third President to be impeached and the first President to bend his political party into a state of absolute authoritarianism.
United States House of Representatives votes to adopt the articles of impeachment, accusing Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – December 18, 2019. (Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives)

United States House of Representatives votes to adopt the articles of impeachment, accusing Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – December 18, 2019. (Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives)

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 152.

This week, President Trump faced consequences for the first time in his life. Donald Trump spent his career as a private citizen defrauding customers, misleading banks and tax officials, and settling lawsuits. Donald Trump has spent his presidency abusing his power, obstructing Congress, undermining the rule of law, and eroding democratic norms. House Democrats finally told him enough is enough.

Donald J. Trump is now the 3rd President of the United States to be impeached by the House of Representatives due to the overwhelming evidence of his corruption. President Trump, with the help of members of his administration and Rudy Giuliani, launched an extortion plot to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. The Trump Administration subsequently obstructed Congress’s ability to effectively investigate this plot. House Democrats did their duty of upholding the Constitution by impeaching President Trump, and House Republicans abdicated theirs by defending this lawlessness – and it appears Senate Republicans are set to do the same.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already indicated that he is coordinating the Senate trial process with the White House and intends to acquit President Trump. McConnell, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and multiple other Senate Republicans have indicated that they will not be impartial jurors as their oath requires. They’ve also said they will not call any witnesses, which is essentially putting a rubber stamp on the Trump Administration’s stonewalling of congressional investigators. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has yet to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate and may withhold them until a fair trial is agreed upon. Only time will tell how that strategy plays out once Congress is back in session in January.

But there is another important story to follow this week. Like his 2016 election win, President Trump earned this impeachment with some guidance from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Thanks to excellent reporting from The Washington Post, we’ve learned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been whispering poison in Trump’s ear about Ukraine for years. Putin also reportedly spoke to President Trump about the Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory in 2017. Trump then apparently took him at his word and went on to mobilize his entire party to push this narrative. One of the investigations that President Trump pressured Ukraine to pursue was one into this conspiracy theory. As we’ve declared before here at Rantt, President Trump and the Republican Party are witting Russian assets.

This capitulation to Russia continued in the Trump Administration’s new opposition to sanctions against Russia and measures meant to deter future Russian interference. We also learned that President Trump threatened to veto the end of year budget if it included specific parameters which guaranteed speedy aid to Ukraine in their conflict with Russia. With the possibility of a government shutdown, Democrats backed down.

The Republican Party’s blind loyalty to Donald Trump is proving to be one of the most damaging challenges American democracy has faced. With challenges of voter suppression, foreign election interference ahead of 2020, and President Trump continuing to dig up dirt on Democrats via Rudy Giuliani, this next year is going to require a new level of vigilance.

Let’s dive into yet another Unpresidented week.

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Giuliani Continues The Plot

Day 1,061: Monday, December 16

President Trump (AP), Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani (Gage Skidmore/Flickr), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Vadim Chuprina)

President Trump (AP), Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani (Gage Skidmore/Flickr), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Vadim Chuprina)

Monday’s top stories:

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President Trump’s Disgraceful Letter

Day 1,062: Tuesday, December 17

President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (AP)

President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (AP)

Ahead of Wednesday’s impeachment vote, President Trump had a full-blown meltdown. The White House released a 6-page letter that read like one of Trump’s infamous angry Twitter threads but with a presidential seal.

Rather than sending a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that made substantive legal arguments or credible defenses of President Trump’s conduct, the letter served as an unhinged airing of authoritarian grievances. It was unlikely written by Trump himself but contained his worst sentiments nonetheless. While this was a desperate attempt to claim the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate, the effect of the letter did something else entirely: it proved Donald Trump is terrified of becoming the 3rd President of the United States to be impeached in the House of Representatives.

The letter started off with a brazen act of projection. President Trump accused House Democrats of an “unconstitutional abuse of power” in their effort to impeach him. Trump accused House Democrats of violating their oaths and dared to claim that Democrats threaten to “destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build.” As we’ve reported before, President Trump’s conduct is exactly what the Founding Fathers feared when they crafted the impeachment clauses.

Trump went on to repeat the same false impeachment defenses that Republicans have been repeating for months. It would take an entire article to break all that down, so we won’t dive into all that right now. Luckily we’ve already written that article.

The letter then launched into a rambling, angry tirade calling impeachment unfair and falsely accusing the Democrats of an “illegal partisan coup.”  In one of the lines from the letter that is getting the most attention, President Trump took his witch hunt cries to a new level of depravity by comparing himself to innocent women who were executed:

More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.

The Mayor of Salem Massachusetts weighed in, pointing out just how ridiculous a claim this was:

CNN’s Jake Tapper, far from a partisan anchor, said this letter could’ve been written by North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un:

In the letter, President Trump went on to claim:

One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again.

In reality, 100 years from now, kids will be reading this letter in history class stunned. This letter is toxic. It is weakness. It is depravity. It is insecurity. It is un-American.

 

When asked about the letter, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) didn’t dignify it with a full-throated response and also sent a letter of her own to members of her caucus.

In spite of Republican lies, the facts at the center of this impeachment inquiry have remained the same. President Trump attempted to extort foreign election interference from the Ukrainian government in the form of investigations into his political targets. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump deployed multiple allies, in and outside his administration, to pressure Ukraine to launch the investigations into the Bidens and the Russia-created Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory.

At the core of this extortion campaign was the fact the Trump Administration withheld military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine, and it was explicitly made clear to Ukraine that they needed to launch the probes in order to receive either. After President Trump was made aware of the existence of the whistleblower complaint regarding his July 25 phone call with President Zelensky, and the House launched their investigation, Trump released the aid on September 11. Ukraine has still not obtained a White House meeting with President Trump.

House Democrats are set to vote on both articles of impeachment, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, tomorrow.

In other news…

Impeachment Day

Day 1,063: Wednesday, December 18

Nancy Pelosi confronts Donald Trump in the White House on October 16, 2019. (Source: @realDonaldTrump/White House Photo)

Nancy Pelosi confronts Donald Trump in the White House on October 16, 2019. (Source: @realDonaldTrump/White House Photo)

On Wednesday evening, December 18, 2019, President Trump secured his legacy. This will be etched into history and mentioned every time he is: Donald J. Trump was the 45th President of the United States and the 3rd to be impeached in the House of Representatives.

After debating and subsequently voting on the rules from the House Rules Committee throughout the morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whose patience and strategic maneuvering made impeachment possible, delivered a speech on the House floor. This kicked off 6 hours of debate. By 8:52 pm the full House of Representatives passed both articles of impeachment against President Trump, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. The Abuse of Power article passed the House by a 230 – 197 margin with one present vote. The Obstruction of Congress article passed by a 229 – 198 margin and one present vote. Democrats drew a line in the sand and declared that President Trump’s conduct was unacceptable.

This impeachment puts President Trump among 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.

Pelosi has said she won’t hand over the articles to the Senate for a trial just yet until she sees the process, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is coordinating with the White House. In spite of the fact Senate Republicans must take an oath to be impartial jurors in an impeachment trial, McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have indicated they will not be impartial jurors.

In the House floor debate today, the differences between the Democratic and Republican speeches could not have been starker. While Democrats brought forth evidence of President Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot and carried the weight of history, Republicans brought forth nothing but process complaints, gaslighting, and outright lies.

For the most part, Republican arguments were very predictable. The false narratives they repeated have been debunked time and time again. There were a few strange new defenses. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) went on the House floor and said that Jesus Christ was given more due process rights than Donald Trump. Comparing Trump to Jesus was bad enough, but Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) decided to one-up Loudermilk by claiming like Pearl Harbor, this day will live in infamy.

Republicans fell on the sword and put their reputation, career, and place in history on the line for a corrupt President who would turn on them in the blink of an eye if the roles were reversed. Democrats, on the other hand, presented arguments for impeachment that the Founding Fathers intended. They also dove into the uncontested facts of President Trump’s effort to subvert American democracy.

President Trump attempted to extort foreign election interference from the Ukrainian government in the form of investigations into his political targets. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump deployed multiple allies, in and outside his administration, to pressure Ukraine to launch the investigations into the Bidens and the Russia-created Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory.

At the core of this extortion campaign was the fact the Trump Administration withheld $391 in military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine, and it was explicitly made clear to Ukraine that they needed to launch the probes in order to receive either. After President Trump was made aware of the existence of the whistleblower complaint regarding his July 25 phone call with President Zelensky, and the House launched their investigation, Trump released the aid on September 11. Ukraine has still not obtained a White House meeting with President Trump and Rudy Giuliani is still pursuing dirt on Democrats in Ukraine.

When this moment is studied, the facts of Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot, and overall corrupt presidency, will be unmistakable in the print of textbooks. The GOP’s spin and lies, on the other hand, will fall apart in the objective eyes of history.

In other news…

Puppetmaster Putin

Day 1,064: Thursday, December 19

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump give a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump give a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Thursday’s top stories:

Putin-Friendly Ukraine Stance Continues

Day 1,065: Friday, December 20

Rudy Giuliani speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona- August 13, 2016. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Rudy Giuliani speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona- August 13, 2016. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Friday’s top stories:

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Impeachment / Nancy Pelosi / Rudy Giuliani / Russia / Ukraine