Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 1/14/2020

  • The president recently said Saudi Arabia paid $1 billion to the US for us to station troops there. The president for years has argued countries with a US military presence must pay us for the “privilege.” This would turn the US military into a mercenary force. Thankfully, like several of his recent claims about the military, the president was lying.
  • Lev Parnas is the indicted Ukrainian-American who was working for Giuliani on Trump’s shadow foreign policy. Since his arrest Parnas has been publicly lobbying for permission to turn over important materials to congress which was granted. Today, Democrats in the House released some of those documents. Giuliani wrote a letter to the Ukrainian government asking to meet personally with president-elect Zelensky. Giuliani wrote that this was at the president’s request and he was acting as the president’s personal lawyer. Giuliani has publicly said both that he was acting on behalf of the State Department and that he was acting as a personal lawyer. Both can’t be true. But this also removes deniability that Trump had no idea what Giuliani was doing.
  • Parnas took handwritten notes during a phone with Giulani while in Vienna. These notes show Parnas was tasked with getting Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Biden’s to help Trump win the election. They also mention Dmitry Firtash, who is connected to the Russian mafia. The notes talk about “getting rid of (nicely)” Firtash’s lawyer right next to the names of lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova. Indeed, Firtash fired Davis and replaced him with Toensing and diGenova who also worked with Giuliani and informally advised the president. Giuliani told Firtash if he assisted in finding dirt on the Bidens, the State Department could help him with his numerous legal issues.
  • Also from the Parnas documents are text messages from Robert Hyde, a Republican donor and congressional candidate, and Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor. Mr. Hyde told Parnas he had Ambassador Yovanovich under surveillance, including her electronic devices. He said he knew some people who could help with her for a price. Ambassador Yovanovich was recalled due to unnamed threats. It appears those threats were coming from men working with the president’s lawyer. Lutsenko told Parnas he was working on getting information on the Biden’s but said it was a problem the couldn’t get rid of Yovanivich.
  • Mitch McConnell does not want any of this information being brought up during Trump’s Senate trial.
Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 12/17/19 Impeachment Eve

  • Trump sent a long rambling letter to Pelosi complaining about impeachment. White House lawyers have come out to deny being involved in its drafting but we know Steven Miller was. The White House characterized the letter as “trolling” Pelosi because the United States elected a president who trolls the Speaker of the House. This New York Times annotation of the letter points out all of the lies it contains.
  • In a brief camera appearance, Trump again argued that you can’t impeach a president who has accomplished so much and listed several things he’s done including passing the Veterans’ Choice bill. The Veterans’ Choice bill was signed into law by Barack Obama. Trump has lied about it dozens of times now and typically receives no pushback.

By this time tomorrow, assuming only a moderate amount of stalling from Republicans, president Donald Trump will be impeached.

Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 12/2/19

I hope those who observe Thanksgiving had a great day and your football team played better than mine. This was one of the busiest news days since I started this blog so let’s dive in.

  • The White House is declining to participate in the impeachment hearings taking place in the House Judiciary Committee this week. This is not surprising but it eliminates yet another Republican talking point – that the president has not been allowed to present evidence.
  • Trump said Zelensky announced that Trump did nothing wrong. This is another lie. Zelensky explicitly talked about the harm caused by withholding aid to an ally.
  • Mike Pompeo said in a speech today that Obama had chosen Iran to be the US’s primary security partner in the Middle East. This is a blatant lie.
  • The Republicans have prepared a counter-report regarding impeachment. Their arguments have not changed are are still nonsensical or easily countered. They claim this is about Trump rooting out corruption but no one has been able to provide a single instance of Trump looking into foreign corruption aside from the Biden investigation he wanted announced. It also makes no sense to believe that the Ukrainian government is extremely corrupt while simultaneously trusting them to investigate an American citizen. Philip Bump did an excellent breakdown here.
  • A large number of Mueller notes were released after a FOIA request. Michael Cohen told investigators the president’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, instructed him not to divulge all of the information regarding the Trump Tower Moscow project. Hope Hicks told them Jared Kushner brought Trump an envelope concerning the meeting at Trump Tower with Russian operatives. As he began to open it, Trump told him he didn’t want to know about it.

Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 11/25/19

Including several items from the weekend here.

  • Lev Parnas, the indicted Giulani associate who worked on his shadow foreign policy, says that Devin Nunes met with disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin in order to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Nunes threatened to sue the media for reporting this but did not deny the meeting. During the impeachment hearings, Nunes pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that’s been supported by Russian intelligence in order to frame Ukraine for the 2016 election interference.
  • I want to stress the prior two stories are sourced from Parnas and may not be reliable. This item, however, does not rely on his word. Parnas has given a large number of documents to the House, including audio and video concerning Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine.
  • The Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, resigned this weekend over issue related to Trump’s pardon of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy Seal who was targeting civilians in Iraq. The Navy has taken actions to remove Gallagher from the Seals, in opposition to the president. There are competing narratives over Spencer’s resignation. Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense, says Spencer offered to rig the outcome of the Gallagher investigation. Spencer denies this and claims he was fired for standing up to the president.
  • Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, posted an extensive list of wrongdoing by the president. I dare not summarize it. You can read it here. (If you aren’t comfortable with Twitter, use this link.)
  • The Manhattan DA who was investigating Trump’s hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, was told to stand down by federal prosecutors who said they were handling the case. The federal prosecutors concluded their case after a year with no communication to the DA. They may have been acting to delay the prosecution as to run out the statute of limitations. The DA has since resumed the investigation. The investigation is focusing in part on Allen Wiesselberg, accountant to the Trump Organization.
  1. Obstruction of justice
  2. Money laundering
  3. Conspiracy to defraud the US
  4. Making false statements to federal investigators
  5. Failure to register as a foreign agent
  6. Mail fraud
  7. Straw campaign donations
Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 11/22/19

I’m again not including the recent impeachment testimony as that’s extensively covered and easy to find. not to mention hard to fit into a short summary.

  • The intelligence community has been briefing congress on the fact that the Russians are behind pushing the conspiracy theories that Ukraine was involved in interfering in the 2016 election. This means that the Republicans have been knowingly pushing Russian propaganda for weeks in an effort to defend Trump. The president most recently echoed one of these Russian conspiracy theories this morning, saying that the DNC refused to turn over their server to the FBI (a lie) and that they gave “the” server to a Ukrainian owned company (a lie).
  • The Inspector General report into the origins of the Russia investigation and the FISA warrant for Carter Page is finished. A minor and inconsequential alteration was made to an email, but the Page surveillance was valid and the Russian investigation was opened due to proper evidence. This destroys several Republican conspiracy theories regarding why the investigation was begun. Among other things, the baseless claim that the Steele dossier started the investigation is now demonstrably false.
  • We learned this week that Nunes was working with Lev Parnas, the indicted Giuliani associate, to organize Ukraine meetings. One of those meetings was with disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was fired in an anti-corruption effort. Republicans claim Shokin was fired for investigating Burisma, the company Hunter Biden was on the board for. This is a lie. Shokin was not investigating Burisma. Nunes was working with him to find dirt on Joe Biden. He failed to mention this throughout the entire impeachment process. Nunes has also been meeting with Giuliani, Parnas, journalist John Solomon, and lawyers Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing. The latter two represent Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch linked to the Russian mafia.
  • The Navy appears to be continuing the process to expel recently pardoned Eddie Gallagher from the SEAL program. This is despite Trump’s tweet demanding this not happen. Throughout his administration, whether the president’s Tweets constitute official orders has been in dispute with the administration itself claiming at times they are and other times they are not.
Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 11/1/19

  • The Ukrainian president, Zelensky, scheduled a CNN interview during which he planned to announce investigations into the Bidens and Hillary Clinton. After exposure from the whistleblower, the aid Trump had been holding over Zelensky’s head was released.
  • The Ukrainian government was concerned early on that Giuliani’s efforts to have Ukraine open an investigation into the Bidens would lead to withholding military aid.
Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 11/6/19 (and then some)

Sorry for the lack of updates – real life has been a beast here.

  • The company run by the indicted Ukrainian-American Lev Parnas paid Giuliani $500,000 despite not appearing to have any income whatsoever.
  • After National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg moved Trump’s Ukraine call to an extremely secret server, he instructed Alexander Vindman, the NSC’s director for Ukraine, not to tell anyone about the call. Eisenberg was among a large group that defied a subpoena this week.
  • In a speech, the president said that Turkey and Syria have been fighting for a thousand years, but at least “we took the oil.” It’s not clear what he’s referring to, but numerous times on the campaign trail he said we should take the oil from the countries in the Middle East we invade. Doing that would explicitly be a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
  • The day after Trump said he uses steel in the wall since it can’t be cut through (no new sections have been built), a report came out detailing immigrants cutting through the wall.
  • The Trump administration claimed only 1488 children had been separated at the border. This number raised suspicion due to the association of 14 and 88 with neo-Nazism. The actual number is now at 5,460. Hundreds of those were under the age of 5.
  • Trump continued his baseless attacks on Vindman and said he’d be revealing evidence “real soon” that Vindman is a “never-Trumper.” They’ve attacked nearly everyone who has testified so far as being politically motivated, without evidence in nearly all cases.
  • The Trump campaign has held over a dozen contests to have a meal with him at events. It does not appear this has ever taken place. The Daily Caller found 2 winners who want to an event, but neither shared a meal with the president which their contest promised.
  • The underlying documents behind the Mueller report are being released. In the first group we found out Cohen said Trump Jr. mentioned “a meeting to get dirt on Clinton” among other things.
  • Trump asked Barr to publicly state that Trump broke no laws in his Ukrainian call. Trump has made similar requests to Comey and Sessions as he views the legal apparatus of the United States as serving his personal interests.
  • Taylor testified that a meeting about Ukraine was difficult to schedule in part because the National Security Council was dealing with the fallout from Trump saying he wanted to buy Greenland from Denmark.

Standard
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 10/23/19 – Today was Insane… Again

  • Lev Parnas, the businessman recently arrested on numerous charges including campaign finance violations, is trying to invoke executive privilege. Executive privilege has been widely abused by the Trump administration. Parnas cannot legally claim it unless he was working for Trump in his capacity as president. Even then, the president must be the one to invoke it. This was a downright bizarre maneuver that only seems to reinforce Trump’s connection to criminal elements who were helping his campaign.
  • Parnas was arrested as he tried to flee the country. He was planning on going to Europe to set up an interview between Sean Hannity and Viktor Shokin. Shokin is the Ukrainian prosecutor at the heart of the current scandal. He was fired for corruption, with a large number of countries calling for his ouster. Trump and his allies claim Shokin was fired as a favor to the Bidens to end the investigation into the company Hunter Biden worked for. In reality, the Ukrainian government determined that Shokin was not investigating the company aggressively enough.
  • Trump sent a page of printed Tweets praising him to Tomi Lahren. In Bob Woodward’s book, he mentioned that each day the president is presented with a folder of news articles and social media posts which praise him. This confirms Woodward’s account.
  • Laura Cooper testified today about the military aid Trump withheld from Ukraine in order to get a Biden investigation. Cooper was explicitly told by the Department of Defense to not testify. Like several before her, she ignored those instructions (as she is legally required to). Cooper detailed that there are only 2 ways congressional funding can be withheld in a situation like Ukraine. Neither of them were followed when we withheld the funds.
  • 20-30 Republican representatives stormed the SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) where Laura Cooper was set to give her deposition. This was a blatant attempt to interfere with the impeachment inquiry. They claimed the process isn’t transparent and Republicans should be allowed to sit in on the current interviews. In reality, the three committees holding the hearings include one fourth of the Republicans in congress, including 13 of the members who entered the SCIF. Any from the latter group could have simply shown up and taken their seats. In addition to the attempt to obstruct the impeachment inquiry, this was an egregious security violation. Several of the Republicans brought cell phones into the room, which are universally banned. One congressman made a call from in the room. The group was asking to be arrested as they wanted that visual on TV. Yesterday, members of this group met with Trump who told them to “take the gloves off.” He knew the SCIF breach would happen and did nothing.
  • The president said today that we are building a border wall in Colorado. (This received a standing ovation.) Later tonight he said he was just kidding and mentioned Colorado because the crowd had a large number of people from Colorado and Kansas, which is odd, as he was speaking in Pittsburgh.
Standard