A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 145th 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 145.
This was a historic week. There is now a formally voted upon impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives investigating whether President Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. This makes Trump the fourth president in American history to face such a probe. With each passing day, the case for impeachment gains momentum and gathers damning evidence.
On Tuesday, Purple Heart veteran Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman testified before House impeachment investigators. Vindman, a National Security Council official, confirmed that there was a quid pro quo, in other words, an extortion campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political targets. Vindman, like Ambassador Bill Taylor told House investigators the previous week, also testified that the quid pro quo was explicitly relayed to Ukrainian officials by then-Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
On Thursday, National Security Council official Tim Morrison confirmed Bill Taylor’s testimony as well, building upon the quid pro quo evidence. As we’ve reported on many occasions, a “quid pro quo,” is not required to generate an impeachable offense. The request for foreign interference in the 2020 election violates election law on its own.
But the fact that this daming testimony has built upon the White House transcript memo, and other first-hand accounts, paints a terrible picture for President Trump. Many legal experts have stated that what President Trump did fits the bribery statute in the impeachment clause.
Given the overwhelming nature of the evidence against President Trump, the defense he has mounted does not address the substance of his corrupt conduct. Instead, Trump and his Republican allies have decided to launch dishonest smear campaigns against witnesses, including Vindman. They’ve decided to lie about the content of the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky. They’ve tried to smear the whistleblower, whose complaint has been fully corroborated.
It doesn’t matter to them that their arguments are completely dishonest or that they put the life of the whistleblower in danger. The Republican Party has thrown caution and decency to the wind as they’ve embraced their new primary function: to protect a lawless president.
Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.
House Democrats Strike
Day 1,012: Monday, October 28
On Monday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House will hold a vote to formalize the procedures of their impeachment inquiry. The vote will be held on Thursday and comes amid the unprecedented stonewalling of the Trump Administration.
The vote serves multiple purposes. Aside from outlining the processes for the impeachment inquiry moving forward, it undermines President Trump and the GOP’s bad faith claims of “no due process” and “no transparency.” House Democrats announced this incoming vote fresh off a court win that found their impeachment inquiry was legally recognized even without a formal vote.
The Trump Administration has declared they will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry until a formal vote is held. Their political calculation appeared to be that it would hurt House Democrats in red districts who vote for it, but they’ve misread the country. As more evidence of Trump’s corruption is made public, support for impeachment continues to remain above 50% and is currently rising.
The resolution has yet to be finalized but Speaker Pelosi detailed what the resolution will entail in a statement:
“This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel.”
For weeks, President Trump and Republicans have called the House impeachment inquiry invalid because there hadn’t been a formal vote. They claimed House Democrats were afraid to vote on the impeachment inquiry. They’ve attacked the process and claimed House Democrats are being secretive even though the committees holding depositions of Trump officials are bipartisan. This culminated last week when House Republicans (including some who were actually on those committees) stormed a SCIF.
Those arguments were already built on a shaky foundation before this announced vote. House impeachment investigators were not handed a Special Counsel report on President Trump’s efforts to extort Ukraine into investigating his political targets, so they have to gather the evidence themselves. These closed-door depositions are standard practice. In spite of the fact the Trump Administration has tried to block multiple State Department witnesses, they’ve testified anyway, providing damning evidence of this corrupt effort.
Senate Republicans are now reportedly scrambling on how to respond and whether or not to support a planned resolution to condemn the House impeachment inquiry. The White House and House Republicans responded to the announced House vote predictably, grasping at new straws. They’re now trying to claim that the process was “illegitimate” before this vote, even though a court ruled it wasn’t.
WH Press Sec: Speaker Pelosi is…”admitting what the rest of America already knew” that Dems are conducting “unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give” Trump “due process, and their secret, shady, closed door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate.” pic.twitter.com/pHlLeJTFAX
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 28, 2019
Speaker Pelosi’s announcement today acknowledges Adam Schiff’s free-wheeling impeachment inquiry is devoid of rules and lacks legitimacy. Schiff’s anarchic impeachment sham has devolved into mayhem and is entirely antithetical to constitutional principles.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 28, 2019
Pelosi announces they’ll finally vote to open the impeachment inquiry.
Codifying a sham process halfway through doesn’t make it any less of a sham process.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 28, 2019
The GOP has never had a credible defense of President Trump’s corrupt conduct, so they’ve tried to focus fire on the impeachment process. This vote appears to address all of their remaining, although unjustified, criticisms. But Republicans have never let reality get in their way before. Keep a watchful eye on how their messaging develops in the coming weeks as public hearings approach.
In other news…
- NBC News: White House told in May of Ukraine President Zelenskiy’s concerns about Giuliani, Sondland
- The New York Times: Trump’s Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid
- NBC News: Trump kept top Democrats in the dark about al-Baghdadi raid
- TheHill: Pelosi, Schumer call for briefing on death of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi
- NBC News: Officials cringe as Trump spills sensitive details of al-Baghdadi raid
- The Daily Beast: Russia: Trump’s Baghdadi Victory Lap Is Nothing But ‘Propaganda’
- TIME: U.S. Spies Say Turkish-Backed Militias Are Killing Civilians As They Clear Kurdish Areas in Syria
- Sky News: EU has agreed Brexit delay until January 2020 – Tusk
- Axios: Iraqi president says he’s no longer sure U.S. can be relied on as an ally
- CNN: State Department official testifies he didn’t know about push for Ukraine investigations
- TheHill: Press Secretary Grisham: John Kelly ill-equipped to work with ‘the genius of our great president’
- Axios: North Carolina judges rule gerrymandered election maps must be thrown out
- Politico: Greg Walden to retire in latest sign of GOP doubts about retaking House
- CNN: Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan dead at 66
- Vox: The NRA just called its own video network “distasteful and racist”
- Associated Press: Man arrested in Texas shooting that left 2 dead, 12 hurt
- HuffPost: Trump Greeted With ‘Lock Him Up’ Chants And Boos At World Series
Resorting To Smears Of A Purple Heart Veteran
Day 1,013: Tuesday, October 29
President Trump and his surrogates continue to stoop to new lows. President Trump has a long history of attacking gold star families and war veterans, Senator John McCain included. He’s at it again. Their new target: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman.
Vindman is a Purple Heart recipient and Iraq War veteran and now serves on the National Security Council. Vindman is the first witness who House impeachment investigators have deposed that was on the July 25th call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. Vindman reported his concerns about the call to the NSC’s lead counsel. Vindman testified that he “did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”
In Vindman’s opening statement on Tuesday, he outlined a new situation he also reported that involved former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Ambassador Sondland (whose testimony is being contradicted):
On July 10, 2019, Oleksandr Danylyuk, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, visited Washington, D.C. for a meeting with National Security Advisor Bolton. Ambassadors Volker and Sondland also attended, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
The meeting proceeded well until the Ukrainians broached the subject of a meeting between the two presidents. The Ukrainians saw this meeting as critically important in order to solidify the support of their most important international partner. Amb. Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short.
On Monday night, Vindman’s damning opening statement circulated among the public. Trump’s defenders, incapable of defending Trump’s actions, attacked the messenger. Fox News Anchor Laura Ingraham slandered Vindman and questioned his patriotism:
Oh my God, look at the spin they are using right now, actually saying that Vindman is a Ukrainian double agent….this is so freaking bananas pic.twitter.com/Oxpju5W23N
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) October 29, 2019
Ingham said: “Now, wait a second, John. Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?”
Former Justice Department official John Yoo responded: “You know, some people might call that espionage.”
On Tuesday morning, former Republican congressman, and current CNN political commentator, Sean Duffy echoed Ingraham and Yoo’s smears:
Sean Duffy on CNN on Army Lt. Col. Vindman: “It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy … we all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from … he has an affinity for the Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/dlsYlTnCwR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2019
Fox & Friends Host Brian Kilmeade struck the same note:
Brian Kilmeade on Army Lt. Col. Vindman: “We also know he was born in the Soviet Union, emigrated with his family. Young. He tends to feel simpatico with the Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/mfjg9NUXSd
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2019
President Trump joined the pile-on by claiming, without evidence, that Vindman is anti-Trump.
Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call “concerned” today’s Never Trumper witness. Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2019
Some Republicans like Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) came to the defense of Vindman, but the damage was already done.
Former Bush Administration official, and current MSNBC Anchor, Nicole Wallace gave a powerful response to the baseless attacks on Vindman.
Nicole Wallace hits back at Laura Ingraham, John Yoo and Sean Duffy for their attacks on Vindman’s patriotism: “except those people aren’t chickenshit like the three of you and they know that he passed a background check that the President’s daughter and son-in-law didn’t.” pic.twitter.com/2tiQPw8lsb
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) October 29, 2019
As we can see, there is no depth to which Trump’s staunchest defenders are willing to sink to defend President Trump’s lawless actions.
In other news…
- NBC News: House Democrats release resolution detailing next steps in impeachment inquiry
- Politico: Trump’s most favorable witness faces credibility crisis
- CNN: A new California wildfire burns in LA as many face days without power
- The Daily Beast: Nunes Aide Is Leaking the Ukraine Whistleblower’s Name, Sources Say
- NBC News: Britain looks set for an early election in attempt to break Brexit deadlock
- NBC News: AG Barr issues 2 decisions limiting ways immigrants can fight deportation
- South China Morning Post: Democracy activist Joshua Wong slams ‘politically driven decision’ to bar him from running in Hong Kong district council election
- CNN: Judge kicks newest impeachment lawsuit into high gear
- NBC News: Diplomat Bill Taylor receives rock star reception in Ukraine after House testimony
- Associated Press: Jeff Sessions exploring possible Ala. Senate run
- Politico: Federal judge blocks Alabama’s near-total abortion ban
- BBC News: Getty Fire: Authorities issue extreme red flag warning
- TheHill: George Papadopoulos launches campaign to run for Katie Hill’s congressional seat
- Lawfare: The Justice Department Should Share More Information on the Durham Investigation
- Rantt Media: The Surprising Trend of Trump Support in Africa
The Anti-Semitism Of The Vindman Smears
Day 1,014: Wednesday, October 30
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is an American and a Ukrainian immigrant. But he’s also a Jew. This makes Trump allies’ accusations of dual loyalty even worse.
In other news…
- NBC News: Vindman tells Congress he tried to add edits to White House memo about Trump Ukraine call
- Politico: John Bolton scheduled to testify in impeachment inquiry
- CNN: State Department official to testify that John Bolton warned about influence of Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine
- CNN: Bill Taylor is willing to testify publicly in impeachment probe
- Politico: Testimony: Nunes acolyte misrepresented himself to Trump as Ukraine expert
- NPR: Trump’s Russia Director To Leave National Security Council Amid Impeachment Inquiry
- ABC News: Pentagon releases video showing US special forces approaching al-Baghdadi compound
- NBC News: Mulvaney was left in the dark on al-Baghdadi operation
- Associated Press: Twitter bans political ads ahead of 2020 election
- HuffPost: Trump Delivering Only A Fraction Of The 6% Economic Growth He Promised
- CNN: 400,000 more children are uninsured since Trump took office
- CNBC: Here’s how the Fed rate cut affects you
- TheHill: US detains record 76,000 minors traveling alone in 2019
- Mother Jones: Top Trump Homeland Security Pick Admits He Made the Call to Subject Sick Kids to Deportation
- Politico: Kamala Harris to slash staff, restructure campaign as she hemorrhages cash
- NBC News: Ilhan Omar faces blowback after voting ‘present’ on Armenian genocide resolution
- The Independent: Widespread protests force Chile to scrap summit where Trump was expected to sign major trade deal
- Jerusalem Post: Syrian regime rushes to fill vacuum in eastern Syria
- CNN: UK heads for general election in bid to break Brexit deadlock
- The Daily Beast: Here’s How Dumb Bill Barr’s Great Mifsud Conspiracy Story Really Is
- Rantt Media: Goldman Sachs Whistleblower Carmen Segarra Speaks Up Again
- Rantt Media: Women’s History Of Combatting The Radical Right
The Morrison Testimony
Day 1,015: Thursday, October 3
On Thursday, National Security Council Official Tim Morrison, and longtime Republican, corroborated Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony that President Trump was involved in a quid pro quo with Ukraine. This has been the key allegation at the core of the House impeachment inquiry, which just passed a historic impeachment procedure resolution.
Morrison told House impeachment investigators that the substance of Taylor’s testimony was correct, although he provided some slight corrections that did not alter the definitive extortion allegation:
In preparation for my appearance today, I reviewed the statement Ambassador Taylor provided this inquiry on October 22, 2019. I can confirm that the substance of his statement, as it relates to conversations he and I had, is accurate.
My recollections differ on two of the details, however. I have a slightly different recollection of my September 1, 2019 conversation with Ambassador [Gordon] Sondland. On page 10 of Ambassador Taylor’s statement, he recounts a conversation I relayed to him regarding Ambassador Sondland’s conversation with Ukrainian Presidential Advisor [Andriy] Yermak.
Ambassador Taylor wrote: “Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that security assistance money would not come until President [Volodymyr] Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.” My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to Mr. Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general — not President Zelensky — would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation.
I also would like to clarify that I did not meet with the Ukrainian National Security Advisor in his hotel room, as Ambassador Taylor indicated on page 11 of his statement. Instead, an NSC aide and I met with Mr. [Oleksandr] Danyliuk in the hotel’s business center.
This testimony comes after, this week, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman also confirmed the fact there was a quid pro quo. Morrison was listening to President Trump’s July 25th call with Ukrainian President Zelensky where Trump tried to extort Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election. This is the part of the testimony that Republicans are grasping at. Morrison said that he didn’t think “anything illegal was discussed” during that phone call. Conservative media and Republican lawmakers grasped tightly on that straw, ignoring the fact Morrison corroborated Taylor’s damning testimony about the quid pro quo/extortion.
Morrison’s testimony today is devastating to the false Democrat narrative that anything illegal or improper happened on the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call. It’s also devastating to the credibility of certain other witnesses who have asserted there was anything illegal or improper.
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) October 31, 2019
As mentioned above, Morrison did not contest the substance of Taylor’s testimony, but nevertheless, the GOP gaslighting persists. Just because Morrison claims that he felt nothing illegal happened on the phone call doesn’t manipulate reality and make Trump’s months-long illegal effort to extort the Ukrainian government into investigating his political targets suddenly less illegal, corrupt, or impeachable.
In other news…
- Politico: House takes huge impeachment step with vote on Trump probe
- ABC News: State Department officials testify in Trump impeachment probe; say Mulvaney put ‘informal’ hold on Ukraine aid
- NBC News: The Islamic State spy who betrayed al-Baghdadi was an insider motivated by revenge
- Politico: Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash
- TheHill: Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump administration’s ObamaCare rule
- Axios: Trump makes big pro-Brexit intervention in U.K. election
- CNN: Trump administration considers adding more countries to travel ban list
- The Washington Post: Trump judicial nominee cries over scathing letter from the American Bar Association
- TheHill: Trump administration withholding $105M in aid for Lebanon
- NBC News: Rep. Katie Hill decries ‘dirtiest gutter politics I’ve seen’ in fiery farewell speech
- Politico: Lindsey Graham will give Judiciary chairmanship back to Chuck Grassley
- Associated Press: Islamic State group announces successor to al-Baghdadi
- Reuters: Former CIA Director Brennan: Votes were swayed by Russian influence operation
- NBC News: Georgia plans to remove over 300,000 inactive voters from its rolls
- NBC News: Rudy Giuliani needed Apple genius help to unlock his iPhone after being named Trump cybersecurity adviser
- Sky News: At least 71 dead after cooking stoves explode on Pakistan train
- Vox: Barack Obama is coming back to Silicon Valley to raise millions for the Democratic Party
- The Washington Post: Nationals’ postgame celebration of their first World Series title – The Washington Post
Fact-Checking Trump’s Impeachment Disinformation Machine
Day 1,016: Friday, November 1
There is no credible defense of President Trump’s corrupt effort to extort Ukraine into investigating his political targets. Everyone knows this, including the President and his allies. As the impeachment inquiry ramps up, and public opinion turns against them, Trump and the Republican Party have leaned on their favorite tactic: disinformation.
There are of course the paper-thin lies like the claim that impeachment is “unconstitutional,” even though it’s the definition of constitutional. But the true core of President Trump’s impeachment counter-messaging comes down to these 5 cylinders of gaslighting: claiming there was nothing wrong with the July 25th Ukraine call, claiming there is no quid pro quo, attacking the House impeachment process, smearing witnesses or distorting their testimony, and claiming Democrats are only focused on impeachment.
Let’s debunk these, shall we?
In other news…
- Politico: Testimony: White House lawyer told Vindman not to discuss Ukraine call
- The Washington Post: As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction
- TheHill: Pelosi suggests impeachment inquiry could expand beyond Ukraine
- Associated Press: Impeachment inquiry focuses on White House lawyers
- TheHill: Trump says he would be willing to do ‘fireside chat’ reading the Zelensky transcript
- The Daily Beast: Rudy Had a Secret Meeting With Zelensky’s Rival, Too
- Yahoo News: State Department agrees to turn over Ukraine documents, potentially providing Democrats with impeachment fodder
- Reuters: Giuliani associate charged in Ukraine-linked case denied release from house arrest
- Vox: Trump claims the impeachment inquiry will “backfire.” Polling indicates he’s wrong.
- CNN: Fact-checking White House claims that House impeachment resolution is unconstitutional
- Axios: National debt surpasses record $23 trillion
- NBC News: ‘Good riddance’: New York governor cheers Trump changing residency to Florida
- Politico: ‘There’s no model for this’: Impeachment timeline crashes into Democratic primary
- CNN: These are the two Democrats who voted ‘no’ on the impeachment inquiry resolution
- HuffPost: Trump Plans Event With Eerie Parallel To Nixon’s Most Infamous Watergate Speech
- BBC: Russia internet: Law introducing new controls comes into force
- The Daily Beast: Beto O’Rourke Drops Out of 2020 Race
- CBS News: Kamala Harris cuts entire New Hampshire field team
- The Guardian: Brazilian president’s son suggests using dictatorship-era tactics on leftist foes