A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 140th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

President Trump's authoritarian corruption has gone too far, triggering an impeachment inquiry and a scandal that could lead to his downfall.
President Donald J. Trump boards Air Force One Thursday, Sept. 25, 2019, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald J. Trump boards Air Force One Thursday, Sept. 25, 2019, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

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 his every move. This is week 140.

It’s hard to imagine a man more unfit for the presidency than Donald Trump. A fragile, simple-minded, egomaniac con man who is so driven by self-interest, that he is willing to bring down American democracy as we know it in his depraved, cowardly, bottomless pursuit of power.

Our democracy is facing one of its greatest tests at the hands of this man. We have long been in the midst of a slow-moving Constitutional crisis, but this week, we reached an inflection point. I have been documenting Trump’s presidency since day one and there have been only a few other occasions in which I was this ashamed of the man in the Oval Office.

This is the bottom line: President Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and various members of the Trump Administration have illegally sought to extort the Ukrainian government into interfering in the 2020 election. On a July 25th phone call, one day after the Mueller hearings, President Trump asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son while military aid was being withheld. Members of the Trump Administration then actively worked to cover up that conduct. But luckily for our democracy, a few White House officials alerted a soon-to-be whistleblower of this misconduct.

It’s because of this courageous whistleblower, who Trump has since mused about executing, that we know of these corrupt acts. It’s because of this whistleblower that the White House released a memo of Trump’s call with Zelensky that confirmed the request to investigate Biden and that it came in the context of military aid. It’s because of this whistleblower that we were made aware of the Trump Administration’s subsequent effort to hide the transcript of the call on a classified system, an allegation that the White House also confirmed. Trump’s own Acting DNI confirmed that the whistleblower was credible.

These acts were objectively illegal, but the William Barr-led Justice Department declined to pursue the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s criminal referral. Enter Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. House Democrats are now pursuing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The narrative that Trump wants to be impeached quickly dissipated, as Trump panic-tweeted into oblivion and reportedly called Pelosi to try and prevent her from moving forward with it.

The dam has broken. Even mainstream journalists, including some at Fox News, have begun an unprecedented effort to push back on President Trump’s lies about this Ukraine scandal. Former and current Trump administration officials appear to be moving to protect themselves. While they try and throw Rudy Giuliani under the bus, Giuliani is further implicating the State Department.

This sequence of events can only be compared to the week of August 5, 1974, when the release of tapes revealed President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate coverup. President Trump isn’t likely to resign, but like with the inquiry into Nixon, the shifts in public opinion have swayed towards support of the newly launched impeachment inquiry.  In spite of Trump and his allies’ efforts to lie about this allegation, polls find a majority of Americans in support, and one CBS News poll found 23% of Republicans and 49% of Independents support it. This is why Trump is terrified. He has been irreparably politically damaged.

This week, we also learned that President Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he was unconcerned with Russia’s interference in US democracy. This reportedly occurred in their May 10, 2017, Oval Office meeting the day after Trump fired James Comey as FBI Director. It brought Russia back into focus, and reminded Americans that what we are witnessing with Ukraine is just a condensed, and more blatant, version of the Russia collusion scandal with the addition of presidential abuses of power.

Below, you’ll find a day-by-day breakdown of the most consequential week of Donald Trump’s presidency – a week that changed the course of history.

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Trump’s Disgraceful First Day At The UNGA

Day 977: Monday, September 23

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg standing behind President Trump at the United Nations General Assembly – September 23, 2019 (Source: The Guardian)

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg standing behind President Trump at the United Nations General Assembly – September 23, 2019 (Source: The Guardian)

Today, President Trump continued to cede America’s global leadership. Heading into the first day of this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), questions swirled around Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by investigating Joe Biden and his son. Trump made some news when it comes to that, but first, let’s talk about the most important topic of day one of UNGA: the UN Climate Summit.

Fresh off the global climate strike on Friday, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a fiery speech calling on leaders around the world to address climate change.

After her speech, there was a priceless moment caught of her staring down Trump.

President Trump showed up at the Climate Summit, but for only 14 minutes, according to the White House press pool.

14 minutes of attention is what the President of the United States spent on the biggest existential threat humanity faces. This matches his record. President Trump has called climate change a hoax, left the Paris Climate Accord, and rolled back countless environmental regulations.

As we’ve seen with the man-made fires in the Amazon rainforesthumans contribute to climate change in profound ways. We are rapidly approaching climate tipping points and unless significant action is taken, there will be irreparable damage done to our planet and life on Earth as we know it.

As Rantt has previously reported, climate change will alter every level of our existence. We’ll see rising sea levels, massive floods, stronger hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, poisoned food, an increase in terrorism, mass extinctions, the list goes on. In 2016, the first mammal went extinct due to climate change. If these warming trends continue at the rate they are currently trending, large regions like North Africa and the Middle East could become uninhabitable by the end of this century, creating an unprecedented migration crisis.

Aside from President Trump’s disregard for climate change, Trump continued to spread his lies about Joe Biden and essentially admitted to the quid pro quo (withholding military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden).

And finally, there was a disgusting moment during Trump’s meeting with the Polish President.

The fact the President is speaking like this at all, let alone at the United Nations, is objectively depraved. This is authoritarian rhetoric unbecoming of a President. Tomorrow, Trump is set to address the United Nations and is reportedly going to “affirm America’s leadership role” and “underscore that America is a positive alternative to authoritarianism…”

In other news…

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Pelosi Launches Impeachment Inquiry

Day 978: Tuesday, September 24

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi applauding President Trump during the State of the Union – February 5, 2019. (AP)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi applauding President Trump during the State of the Union – February 5, 2019. (AP)

Donald Trump’s critics have argued that he is the most corrupt President in American history. They’ve cited his receptiveness to Russia’s interference in 2016, his efforts to obstruct the investigation into that interference, his ongoing endeavor to profit from the presidency, his dangling of pardons to officials he’s told to violate immigration law, stonewalling, market manipulation, abuse of human rights, authoritarian tactics, the list goes on. But the straw that broke the House Democrats’ hesitation to impeach President Trump was his corrupt effort to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election – the day after the Mueller hearing.

After last week’s news of President Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky where Trump reportedly asked 8 times for Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, calls for impeachment increased. It began to hit a fever pitch on Monday as the number of House Democrats calling for impeachment continued to rise closer to 200 Reps. on Tuesday.

At 5 pm on Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats are moving forward with an “official impeachment inquiry” into President Trump.

After spending the afternoon meeting with Democratic chairs of House Committees and Democratic leadership, Pelosi told the Democratic caucus that it’s time to launch official impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. In her speech, announcing the effort, Pelosi highlighted President Trump’s violations of the Constitution. Pelosi then said that the six House Committees will be operating under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry as opposed to a Select Committee.

It’s unclear whether they will formalize this inquiry through a full House vote as the process dictates. A formalized inquiry provides the House with increased investigatory powers that allows them to more effectively compel testimony, obtain documents, enforce subpoenas, and strengthens their position in court.

This morning, President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly with a muted speech about nationalism. By the evening, he was facing an impeachment inquiry. There was also some movement in the Senate where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hotlined, and allowed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) unanimous consent request, to call for the release of the whistleblower complaint.

President Trump has said he will release the transcript of his call with President Zelensky, but his Administration has been obstructing Congress’ legal right to see the whistleblower complaint. Needless to say, stay tuned over the next days and weeks. Turbulent times are ahead.

In other news…

The Smoking Gun Was Released By The White House

Day 979: Wednesday, September 25

President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with President Donald Trump at the UN General Assembly – September 25, 2019 (Source: The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with President Donald Trump at the UN General Assembly – September 25, 2019 (Source: The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

The saga of President Trump’s unprecedented abuses of power continued to unfold in a whirlwind day of explosive developments and brazen corruption.

Last week, reporters revealed the fact President Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son on a July 25th phone call. On Monday, we discovered that President Trump personally ordered the freeze of military aid to Ukraine a week before that phone call. On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. By Wednesday morning, that impeachment inquiry was given even more fuel.

The White House released 5 pages of non-verbatim notes memorializing President Trump’s call with President Zelensky, and it was more damning than many expected. In a nutshell, Trump tells Zelenksy that the US has been very good to Ukraine, but it hasn’t been reciprocal. That comment sets up the fact Trump expects something from Ukraine. Zelensky then says that his country is almost ready to buy more weapons from the US. This is where the potential quid pro quo comes into play. Trump then immediately asks for a favor.

Trump goes on to ask Zelensky to look into the origins of the Mueller probe and work with Attorney General William Barr and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no evidence of wrongdoing against Joe Biden or Hunter Biden.

While the country was absorbing this news, we learned that the Trump-appointed Intelligence Community Inspector General thought this conduct was so improper that he referred it for a criminal investigation to the Justice Department. The William Barr-led Justice Department cleared Trump of wrongdoing. And as we know, the Justice Department then blocked the release of the whistleblower complaint, which references the July telephone call. It is important to note that AG Barr is referenced in the non-verbatim transcript numerous times.

So, let’s break that down. Legal experts claim that President Trump’s request for foreign interference in the 2020 election violates election law. The Justice Department claims it does not, but their claim appears to contradict how Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FEC see a matter of this nature:

When it comes to a quid pro quo (extortion, bribery), some have argued that it was implicit, given the context of suspended military aid and Trump’s request for a favor directly following the topic. In any case, Democrats argue that a quid pro quo isn’t necessary for their impeachment probe, as the request for an investigation itself is impeachable in its own right.

Republicans made their best efforts to spin this news and spread their talking points. In spite of the evidence, President Trump’s allies like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed there was no quid pro quo and no election law violation. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), however, called the phone call troubling while other Republicans were privately concerned. But, the day wasn’t over. There was more to come.

At the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump held an afternoon bilateral meeting with President Zelensky and repeated the request he made during their July 25th phone call. When asked if Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden, Trump said he wants them to investigate corruption and then proceeds to claim what Biden and his son did was corrupt:

President Trump went on to rant about the origins of the Mueller probe (which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate during their call) and ranted about Hillary Clinton. Zelensky looked visibly uncomfortable throughout the meeting. Zelensky claimed that he felt no “push” from Trump in regards to investigating Biden, but reporting indicated Ukraine felt pressured. ABC News reported a statement from a Ukrainian official:

“It was clear that [President Donald] Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an anti-corruption advocate and former member of Ukraine’s Parliament, who now acts as an adviser to Zelenskiy. “This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”

In the 4 pm ET hour, President Trump gave a meandering press conference where he repeated his false allegations against Biden and falsely accused President Obama of seeking foreign election help. Trump also claimed there was a first phone call between Trump and Zelensky and Pence also had phone calls.

Meanwhile, the whistleblower complaint, which reportedly contains details of how records of the Ukraine call were handled, was sent to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), and other members of the committee, expressed concern:

By the end of the day, 218 House Representatives, the vote threshold needed to formalize an impeachment inquiry, came out in support of impeachment proceedings. The House also passed a resolution calling for the release of the whistleblower complaint. This week still has more consequential plot points to develop.

The Acting Director of National Intelligence, who denied reports that he threatened to resign if he wasn’t allowed to speak freely before Congress, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning. Expect more to come.

In other news…

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The Whistleblower Complaint And DNI Hearing

Day 980: Thursday, September 26

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)

The historic nature of this week cannot be overstated. We are witnessing a blatant endeavor on the part of the President of the United States to solicit foreign election interference in the 2020 election. This was the focus of the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s hearing.

Minutes before Thursday’s hearing was set to begin, the whistleblower complaint and the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s (IGIC) letter to Maguire were released. It implicates President Trump, multiple US officials, and Rudy Giuliani, in the illegal, months-long, pursuit of foreign election interference and a subsequent coverup.

In summary, the whistleblower’s August 12th complaint alleges that approximately a dozen White House officials listened to Trump’s July 25th call with Zelensky. After the call, there was an effort to “lock down” the transcript. Officials were allegedly directed by White House lawyers to move the digital transcript of the call to a classified electronic system in an effort to hide it. The complaint alleges that this was “not the first time” a Trump transcript was placed in that system.

The complaint also claimed that Attorney General William Barr may have been involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine. It also highlighted Giuliani’s outreaches to Ukraine in May and that his August 2nd meeting with one of Zelensky’s advisers in Madrid was a direct follow up to Trump’s July 25th request. The complaint also alleges that on May 14th, Trump ordered Vice President Mike Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, and that it was “made clear” Zelensky wouldn’t get a meeting until Trump saw how he acted in office and if he “played ball”.

It was in this context that Thursday’s hearing began. Chairman Schiff used his opening statement to claim Trump “betrayed his oath of office”.

Read My Full Article In The Independent

In other news…

Pelosi’s Impeachment Patience Paid Off

Day 981: Friday, September 27

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

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

President Trump thought he got away with it. It was July 25th, the day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s hearings on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The hearings highlighted the Trump Campaign’s receptiveness to Russia’s election help and President Trump’s subsequent effort to obstruct the investigation into that conduct. Because Mueller didn’t find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump Campaign, Trump felt vindicated. What Trump did next was the most brazenly corrupt act of his presidency.

As we now know, President Trump used his July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky to do the very thing he was accused of over the previous 2 years, sparking a renewed coverup. Trump’s effort to pressure Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election was not only unlawful, it undermined America’s democratic system. Trump’s call came amid suspended military aid that was apparently being held over Ukraine’s head (quid pro quo). Trump’s own transcript notes of their call confirmed this wrongdoing, as did Trump’s public meeting with Zelensky at the UN.  As I wrote in The Independent on Thursday, the whistleblower complaint that was released before Acting DNI Joseph Maguire’s hearing put the icing on the corruption cake.

While these corrupt acts were going on in secret, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was publicly expressing reluctance when it came to impeaching President Trump. After the Mueller report was released in April, and after the hearings on July 24th, calls for impeachment hit a fever pitch. Nevertheless, Pelosi felt that the best way forward was for House Democrats to rack up court wins as they combatted the Trump Administration’s stonewalling. Pelosi’s unwillingness to impeach Trump likely led him to believe he would never be held accountable. It appears that misplaced belief led Trump down a path that would could prove to be his undoing.

On Tuesday, Speaker Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Given the simplicity of Trump’s corrupt Ukraine act, and the digestible nature of the coverup allegations, this is doing serious political damage to President Trump as the White House panics, Republicans privately express concerns, and support for impeachment rises.

Those polls were before the whistleblower complaint was released. Of course, it’s still a far-fetched idea to believe Senate Republicans will turn on President Trump at this time, but keep an eye on Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) who have expressed concerns. At the very least, Trump’s crimes have thoroughly damaged his 2020 re-election odds. This scandal continues to get worse as Trump officials continue to backstab each other in an effort to shield themselves from legal liability.

In May, Pelosi said Trump was “almost self-impeaching” himself. Perhaps this is what she meant.

In other news…

Over the weekend…

Sunday Show Embarrassment

White House Adviser Stephen Miller, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Jim Jordan (R-OH) – (Source: Gage Skidmore)

White House Adviser Stephen Miller, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Jim Jordan (R-OH) – (Source: Gage Skidmore)

President Trump is running a familiar playbook. After the White House released the memo of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky and the whistleblower complaint was made public, Trump has been scrambling. There is no honest way to defend the President of the United States illegally extorting a foreign power to investigate a political rival and then trying to cover up the effort. Now in a state of desperation amid House Democrats’ impeachment probe, President Trump and his sycophants have launched yet another disinformation campaign. It isn’t working.

President Trump and the Republican Party’s strategy is to lie about the memo that the White House released in the hopes their voters won’t read it. That tactic worked with the 448-page Mueller report, but that won’t work with a 5-page memo. They are also trying to defame the whistleblower and claim that their allegations are all hearsay. This runs contrary to the fact the White House corroborated part of the complaint, the memo itself matches the complaint, and Trump himself has admitted the core allegation.

After they distort the contents of President Trump’s phone call, Trump’s defenders then perform a clumsy deflection by making widely debunked allegations against Joe and Hunter Biden. If the Sunday shows and recent polling are any indication, these tactics are crashing and burning.

First up, we have Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who claimed that he has no problem with President Trump’s effort to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.

CNN’s Jake Tapper wasted no time in putting the allegations Jordan was making against Joe Biden to rest, while reminding Jordan of allegations he himself faces.

Then, we have White House Senior Adviser, and anti-immigrant bigot, Stephen Miller. Fox News’ Chris Wallace called out his lack of answers.

Next, we have Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), whose stunning shift from Senator McCain’s best friend to chief Trump Senate sycophant has stunned the nation. As usual, Graham was shameless in his defenses of President Trump.

Finally, we have House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

If those clips weren’t enough to prove this strategy isn’t working, polling backs that up. As we’ve seen with multiple polls last week, and a new one this weekend, support for an impeachment inquiry into Trump is rising.

Telling the American people not to believe their eyes and ears is not a sustainable strategy. If President Trump and his defenders want to stop public opinion from shifting away from them, they’ll have to stop treating the American people as if they are stupid. It would also help if they stopped committing crimes.

In other news…

President Trump panic-tweeted his way through the weekend as we learned of the Trump Administration’s authoritarian counter-narrative.

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Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Impeachment / Nancy Pelosi / Republican Party / Ukraine