A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 146th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

As more evidence of Trump's extortion of Ukraine surfaces, his actions grow increasingly indefensible. But nevertheless, the GOP persists with gaslighting lies.
President Donald J. Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, to board Marine One to begin his trip to Atlanta, Ga. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald J. Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, to board Marine One to begin his trip to Atlanta, Ga. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

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 146.

The Republican Party is standing behind a man who has committed glaringly obvious and public crimes. President Trump very clearly extorted Ukraine in an effort to obtain investigations of his political targets. The extortion campaign was explicitly relayed to Ukrainian officials, and this week, it was confirmed by the man who relayed it.

Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland suddenly “recalled” that he did, in fact, tell Ukrainian officials that military aid would not come unless Ukraine made a public statement announcing the investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election. This “recollection” came after Ambassador Bill Taylor, National Security Council official Tim Morrison, and National Security Council official Lt. Col Alexander Vindman testified that Sondland had relayed the “quid pro quo” (extortion).

There was a key report this week from The New York Times that revealed President Zelensky had scheduled an appearance on CNN for September 13, where he planned on announcing the probes Trump had requested. Zelensky called it off due to events in Washington (the existence of the whistleblower being made public triggering Trump’s release of aid).

The transcripts of testimony from Vindman and Trump’s former adviser on Russia Fiona Hill were also released by House impeachment investigators this week. They further revealed Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s involvement in the extortion campaign.

Also, this week, as the now-shut down Trump Foundation was forced to pay a $2 million settlement, Americans were once again reminded of the con man President Trump really is.

As this week ended, all eyes were on next week’s public impeachment hearings, which should be nothing short of damning for President Trump.

Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.

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There Are Not Two Sides To The Ukraine Story

Day 1,019: Monday, November 4

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the James L. Knight Center, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the James L. Knight Center, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Trump and the Republican Party are playing a dangerous game. As they begin to focus their fire on the identity of the whistleblower, we have to take a step back and not miss the forest for the trees. It’s easy to get caught up in every single Trump lie about the impeachment inquiry. We’ve debunked all of them at Rantt Media. But it’s vitally important for the mainstream media to focus fire on the objectively corrupt conduct of President Trump and not get tricked into giving undue credence to his lies.

When covering President Trump and the GOP’s lies, there must be an effort to actively avoid falsely equating Democratic and Republican arguments. You can’t treat vindictive claims on the right that are based on blatant lies as equal to those on the other side. If one side of the argument claims that crimes aren’t crimes and tells Americans not to believe their own eyes, the media cannot cover this as a legitimate political “strategy.”  President Trump, the Republican Party, and right-wing media no longer exist in an objective reality and should be treated as such.

Either way you look at it, Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukraine is illegal and impeachable. The President of the United States abused his power in an effort to extort the Ukrainian government to investigate his political targets. The President and his allies in his administration subsequently sought to cover up that corrupt activity. After a whistleblower exposed the truth of this effort, the White House released a transcript memo confirming the President explicitly requested these investigations from the Ukranian President amid withheld military aid.

Multiple witnesses have confirmed that there was not only a quid pro quo (extortion) campaign mounted to pressure Ukraine, but that President Trump was directly overseeing it. Donald Trump acted to further his personal interests in spite of the illegality of his actions and undermined American foreign policy in the process. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration and Republicans have launched a depraved disinformation campaign smearing the witnesses, including a Purple Heart veteran, and the whistleblower who sparked this saga.

Every single one of their arguments against the impeachment inquiry are in bad faith and not based in truth, but there is still coverage on some mainstream outlets that give their lies equal airtime without debunking them. While this has largely subsided, there was a period of several weeks where mainstream orgs rushed to legitimize President Trump’s false claims against Hunter Biden. That is playing into his hands. All President Trump really wants is an aura of corruption, which is why his administration pushed so hard for a public announcement from Ukraine about the launched investigations.

Many in the media are also avoiding an uncomfortable truth. It’s much easier to say the country is “divided” on impeachment than to say that one side is basing their beliefs on propaganda and lies from a right-wing media loyal to the president. If there was no Fox News, we’d be much higher than 50% of Americans supporting impeachment and removal from office.

Members of the media need to be careful with the language they use that might falsely equate the two sides of this story. For example, when talking about individuals President Trump is targeting, at Rantt Media, we now use the word “political targets” rather than “political opponents.” Vice President Joe Biden is a political opponent because he’s running for the Democratic nomination. Hunter Biden and those on Mueller’s team Trump wants to be investigated are not political opponents. They are political targets.

This story is far from over. When the impeachment inquiry begins open hearings, the American people will hear more of these facts for themselves. This moment is vitally important and we all need to be vigilant. No making the same mistakes that were made during the 2016 election and throughout this presidency. President Trump has lied or made false claims over 13,000 times according to The Washington Post. It’s way past time to assume first that he is lying, rather than give him the benefit of the doubt, especially when all the evidence proves him wrong.

In other news…

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Sondland Suddenly Recalls Extortion Campaign

Day 1,020: Tuesday, November 5

President Donald Trump (AP) and former Ambassador Gordon Sondland (Official Photo)

President Donald Trump (AP) and former Ambassador Gordon Sondland (Official Photo)

There have already been multiple witness confirmations that President Trump extorted Ukraine in an effort to pressure them to investigate his political targets. The latest one comes from former Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who has been at the center of damning witness testimony for weeks. In a nutshell, Sondland confirmed his previously alleged role in President Trump’s extortion campaign of Ukraine. This testimony should put a definitive end to the already false Trump claim that there was “no quid pro quo.”

On Tuesday, Sondland’s October 17 testimony was released by House impeachment investigators. Sondland, who previously denied such interactions to House investigators, sent the House a letter revising his testimony which confirmed that there was indeed a quid pro quo (extortion) effort, and that he explicitly relayed it to Ukrainian officials. This comes after testimony from Ambassador Bill Taylor, National Security Official Tim Morrison, and Lt. Col Alexander Vindman all alleged this.

Sondland’s revision letter, dated November 4, is addressed to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and begins on page 376 of his newly released testimony doc. In the letter, Sondland writes:

I have reviewed the October 22, 2019, opening statement of Ambassador William Taylor. I have also reviewed the October 31, 2019, opening statement of Tim Morrison. These two opening statements have refreshed my recollection about certain conversations in early September 2019.

Sondland goes on to confirm the central allegations that both Taylor and Morrison made in their testimonies.

On October 22, Taylor told impeachment investigators that a White House meeting and military aid was withheld in an effort to pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election. Taylor said that the decision to withhold the aid, and the reluctance to have a White House meeting, was directly from President Trump. Taylor also alleged the quid pro quo was explicitly relayed to President Zelensky by then-Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

Taylor testified that on a September 1 phone call, the day Vice President Mike Pence met with Zelensky, he learned of Sondland relaying the quid pro quo directly to Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak:

“During this same phone call I had with Mr. Morrison, he went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at Warsaw. Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that the security money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation. I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak conversation. This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance – not just the White House meeting – was conditioned on the investigation.”

National Security Official Tim Morrison confirmed the substance of Taylor’s testimony in his opening statement to House investigators. In this revision letter, Sondland confirms this central allegation:

“After the large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”

In the testimony Sondland originally gave to the House, he alleged that the extortion campaign was directly ordered by President Trump.

National Security Official Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, who was also on the July 25th phone call, alleged that Sondland also relayed this quid pro quo to Ukrainian officials in a meeting separate July meeting. Vindman testified:

“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.”

Bolton may provide some more clarity on that. He has been called to testify, but it’s unclear if he’ll comply.

President Trump has been denying a quid pro quo for weeks, including on Twitter.

There has been reporting that Senate Republicans are prepared to acknowledge that there was a quid pro quo but falsely claim there was nothing impeachable about it. With this testimony, we may see that the GOP has no choice to pivot to that argument and away from their endless disinformation campaign. It appears Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who previously stated that he thinks a quid pro quo would be damning, is taking the “ignore reality” strategy.

Before we close out… there really is a tweet for everything.

In other news…

Bill Taylor’s Testimony Is Released

Day 1,021: Wednesday, November 6

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)

Wednesday’s top stories:

Another Day, Another Trump Fraud

Day 1,022: Thursday, November 7

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Before Donald Trump was a self-dealing president, he was a self-dealing candidate, and a self-dealing businessman before that. On Thursday, a New York State judge reminded us of that. CNN reported:

A New York state judge ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million to a collection of nonprofit organizations in connection with a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office to resolve a civil lawsuit alleging the foundation unlawfully coordinated with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

In her decision filed Thursday, Justice Saliann Scarpulla found that “Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation,” including by “allowing his campaign to orchestrate” a televised fundraiser ostensibly for the foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016, and allowing the campaign to direct the distribution of the money raised from that event “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”

President Trump previously claimed he would not settle this case.

This ends the Trump Foundation saga. In 2016, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold published a series of reports that revealed the stunning self-dealing and impropriety of the Trump Foundation. That reporting not only won Fahrenthold a Pulitzer Prize, but it also triggered New York’s investigation into the Trump Foundation. That investigation led to the above settlement, and to the Trump Foundation being shut down in December 2018.

The New York Attorney General’s office alleged at the time “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.” It appears they’ve been proven right in court.

Donald Trump’s History of Fraud

Trump has a well-known history of fraudulent behavior. Donald Trump paid a $25 million settlement for defrauding customers with Trump University – a payment made after winning the presidency. The New York Times reported that Donald Trump received, at least, the equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire and used shady methods, sometimes constituting fraud, to funnel the money to himself. There are also allegations of money laundering for Russian oligarchs through the sale of overvalued properties.

Wait, there’s more. ProPublica published a report last month that added yet another piece of evidence to the mountain of bank and tax fraud evidence known to the public. The report highlighted documents they received that revealed Donald Trump’s businesses downplayed profits to New York tax officials and exaggerated them to lenders.

Those documents appeared to confirm behavior similar to what President Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen (and campaign finance violation co-conspirator) testified to in February. A line of questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) garnered the revelation. Cohen testified that Trump inflated his assets to insurance companies and may have committed tax evasion. Cohen also told the Committee that Donald Trump inflated the worth of his assets in an effort to obtain a loan from Deutsche Bank to buy the Buffalo Bills.

But the fraudulent behavior isn’t unique to Trump Sr., it’s a family affair. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were also nearly indicted for fraudulently misleading their customers when selling units of their Trump SoHo project. It’s also important to note that state crimes cannot be covered by a federal pardon.

The Self-Interest Hasn’t Stopped In The Oval Office

As President, Donald Trump has not been subtle in the ways in which he profits from the presidency. Government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), has been keeping track of this activity, which they say violates the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

All of this feeds into allegations from Trump critics that he is not serving the interests of the American people, but instead, as he did throughout his business career, he is only looking out for himself. This claim ties into the impeachment inquiry, where House Democrats are garnering evidence that proves President Trump put his political interests above America’s national security interests by extorting Ukraine.

As many reporters have pointed out, there are not many Trump scandals, there is only one: corruption.

In other news…

New Lawsuit Targets Jim Jordan

Day 1,023: Friday, November 8

U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore)

U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore)

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is most known for being one of President Trump’s chief defenders in the House, but there is a scandal that hasn’t gotten enough attention. A new lawsuit alleges that Jordan knew of more instances of Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss’ sexual abuse and ignored it. NBC News reported:

A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was then the assistant coach.

“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan’s response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.

John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss, who was found by independent investigators to have sexually abused 177 male students over two decades.

The lawsuit was filed by 43 survivors against Ohio State, claiming the university’s “ingrained culture of institutional indifference” enabled Strauss to sexually abuse former students and athletes from a half-dozen other sports.

Before this lawsuit, there were at least eight ex-OSU wrestlers who had come forward—including UFC fighter star Mark Coleman—alleging that then-Assistant Coach Jordan was directly made aware of the allegations that medical doctor Richard Strauss was sexually abusing wrestlers, and ignored their reports of abuse. Here’s the allegation from the eighth wrestler:

The ex-wrestler, who chose to make his allegation anonymously, said that he had personally told Jordan, “Strauss held my balls longer than normal,” and that Jordan “just snickered.” He further recalled telling Jordan “something to the effect of ‘his hands are cold as s**t; he checked out every hair on my ball,’” and the assistant coach replying, “I have nothing to do with this,” and then walking away.

Jordan himself has changed his story, first claiming no knowledge, and then claiming that “conversations in a locker room” aren’t the same as formally reporting abuse. Undercutting those claims, TPM reported that the head coach Jordan worked for, was aware of the allegations.

Like they’ve done with most of the alleged abusers in their party, including the president, Republicans have stood behind Rep. Jordan. As news of this new lawsuit spread, House Republicans were reportedly set to announce that they are assigning Jim Jordan to the House Intelligence Committee, which has been running the impeachment inquiry.

In other news…

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Impeachment / Jim Jordan / Ukraine