Patterico's Pontifications


Hillary Clinton To Victims Of Inappropriate Handsiness By Powerful Men: “Get Over It”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Just days after he launched his new radio show on SirusXM, a military veteran has become the ninth woman to to accuse Al Franken of groping her in 2006:

“I was just out of college in my first job, working for U.S. senator Patty Murray,” she told New York. Franken, then exploring a run for the Senate, was the guest speaker at Murray’s annual Golden Tennis Shoes Awards (named for a dismissive description of Murray, early in her political career, as a mom in tennis shoes).

The woman worked the photo line, and when it was her turn to be photographed with Franken, she said, “he puts his hand on my ass. He’s telling the photographer, ‘Take another one. I think I blinked. Take another one.’ And I’m just frozen. It’s so violating. And then he gives me a little squeeze on my buttock, and I am bright red. I don’t say anything at the time, but I felt deeply, deeply uncomfortable.”

So what, right? I mean, if the self-anointed champion of women tells women everywhere to get over it when a male Democrat is caught up in accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate handsiness, who are they, or even you to make a big deal of it:

Hillary Clinton defended former Vice President Joe Biden against allegations that he has has acted inappropriately by head kissing and touching the backs of women. In a video interview with People Magazine to promote her upcoming book, the former first lady said that the former veep should be judged for the “totality” of his record and that he “is a thoroughly decent human being who has served our country honorably and well for decades.” She said that focusing on the allegations of inappropriate behavior was just a distraction. “We can pick apart anybody. I mean, that’s a great spectator sport,” she said. “But this man who’s there in the Oval Office right now poses a clear and present danger to the future of the United States. So get over it.”

Heh, Hillary would claim that her own husband served his country honorably for decades too, so what’s a little handsy sexual assault, eh??

Dear Hillary, your hypocritical underpants are showing. Yet again. While it’s a very unattractive look, it is a revealing reminder of the breadth of unabashed hypocrisy and dishonesty in which you trade.

[Ed. I don’t really care about Al Franken, other than he is a sleazebag who may once again be in a position of power as he has not ruled out running for public office. I don’t really care about Hillary Clinton, other than she may run again in 2020 and women may be stupid enough to buy her shtick.]

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Donald Trump Must Be Removed from Office

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Donald Trump on Twitter last night:

It’s tempting to write this off as just another wacky Donald Trump tweet. It’s not.

Yes, calling things you don’t like “treason” is a common form of political hyperbole. We know this. However, it is also a crime that is actually prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice. So this isn’t just any random politician, with no power over criminal justice, casually making an accusation of treason. In fact, it’s not even the President of the United States casually making an accusation of treason (which he has done before). It is the President of the United States saying in no uncertain terms that he wants a U.S. Congressman questioned on suspicion of having committed treason.

Pointing to random Democrats who have yelled “treason!” over Russiagate is not a valid response to the concern I address here, unless those random Democrats have the power to order someone arrested for treason. If they do, I want them gone from their jobs yesterday.

Trump defenders will also assert that Trump is not serious. He hasn’t actually asked for this to be done, after all! He is “joking” or blowing off steam. Well, perhaps he is. I don’t care. Someone who has the ability to hire and fire members of the federal criminal justice system, and give them orders, has no business talking this way — and if they can’t help but do so, they can’t run federal law enforcement. It’s just that simple. Trump is talking about having a political opponent, Adam Schiff, arrested for a crime that the political opponent clearly didn’t even remotely approach committing — and Trump’s subordinates actually have the power to put people in jail for committing that crime. This is not a tenable situation. Not remotely.

Imagine if Trump actually ordered DoJ to investigate Schiff for treason. Would the GOP defend that too? After all, established GOP doctrine now says Trump may order the criminal investigation of political opponents, and fire DoJ employees for not serving his personal interests.

Trump’s threat to have Adam Schiff investigated for treason is impeachable all by itself, but the threat is also part of a larger pattern of Trump’s view of criminal law as nothing but another tool he can use to protect himself and threaten his enemies. There are too many examples to cite them all: threatening Michael Cohen’s father with an investigation; expecting Jeff Sessions to un-recuse and exonerate him out of personal loyalty; asking the FBI director to drop an investigation of one of his former campaign and White House officials; asking a foreign leader to criminally investigate a likely political opponent; dangling pardons in front of potential witnesses against him; ordering subordinates to fire a prosecutor investigating his own wrongdoing. Donald Trump sees law enforcement as a collection of henchmen there to serve his personal partisan political interests. That’s not what they are there to do, and we can’t continue to have someone running federal law enforcement who sees the Department of Justice as his personal hit men.

This can’t continue like this. This has to stop. Donald Trump has to be removed from office.

UPDATE: Trump this a.m. Now Trump is not just suggesting Schiff should be questioned, but also that he be arrested.

It can’t go on.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


So Was Shokin Still Investigating Biden When He Was Fired, Or Not?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:08 am

There are a lot of different narratives floating out there about Viktor Shokin.

Washington Post:

Trump has claimed that Joe Biden in 2015 pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Shokin because he was investigating Burisma.

But the investigation had already been set aside when Biden acted. Yuri Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor general who succeeded the fired prosecutor, told Bloomberg News that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.

But Shokin has submitted an affidavit, obtained by John Solomon, saying that the investigation was still active. Here’s Solomon:

In a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a European court, Shokin testified that when he was fired in March 2016, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation. “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified.

“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin added.

Shokin has reason to have a grudge against Biden, who has boasted about getting Shokin fired (although aspects of Biden’s story seem characteristically fanciful).

Other folks besides just Biden wanted Shokin gone. The New York Times reported in 2016:

The United States and other Western nations had for months called for the ousting of Mr. Shokin, who was widely criticized for turning a blind eye to corrupt practices and for defending the interests of a venal and entrenched elite. He was one of several political figures in Kiev whom reformers and Western diplomats saw as a worrying indicator of a return to past corrupt practices, two years after a revolution that was supposed to put a stop to self-dealing by those in power.

As the problems festered, Kiev drew increasingly sharp criticism from Western diplomats and leaders. In a visit in December, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said corruption was eating Ukraine “like a cancer.” Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, which props up Ukraine financially, said last month that progress was so slow in fighting corruption that “it’s hard to see how the I.M.F.-supported program can continue.”

. . . .

Foreign donors had complained about rot in the prosecutor’s office, not least because much of the money suspected of being stolen was theirs.

In one high-profile example, known in Ukraine as the case of the “diamond prosecutors,” troves of diamonds, cash and other valuables were found in the homes of two of Mr. Shokin’s subordinates, suggesting that they had been taking bribes.

But the case became bogged down, with no reasons given. When a department in Mr. Shokin’s office tried to bring it to trial, the prosecutors were fired or resigned. The perpetrators seemed destined to get off with claims that the stones were not worth very much.

For many Ukrainians, the case encapsulated a failure to follow through on the sweeping promises made during the heady days of the revolution to root out corruption and establish a modern, transparent state. Instead, there has seemed to be a return to business-as-usual horse-trading and compromise among the tightly knit Ukrainian oligarchic and business elite.

Since his appointment a year ago, Mr. Shokin had been criticized for not prosecuting officials, businessmen and members of Parliament for their roles in corrupt schemes during the government of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

The notion that this was just Biden is a partisan lie. But the fact that Shokin makes this accusation that he was still investigating Biden — while that accusation may be the dishonest grumbling of a disgruntled corruptocrat — should be more widely reported by the media. The fact that it isn’t fuels the suspicions of those who follow conspiracy theory Web sites.

I don’t know for sure what to make of all this, although when I read the NYT story from 2016, Shokin sure seems dirty. This is another complication in a story that Republicans hope to make as messy as possible, to give the widest latitude for conspiracy theories to take hold and save the hide of their corrupt leader.

P.S. If you’re upset about Hunter Biden’s $50k per month position and thinks that sounds corrupt, you’re right. I assume you’re also upset about the way Trump’s children take advantage of their father’s position for personal gain. Right?

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 75, Part 1

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is the first part of the cantata “Die Elenden sollen essen” (The miserable shall eat):

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 16:19-31:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

The wretched shall eat until they are satisfied, and those who ask after the Lord, shall praise Him. Your hearts shall live forever.

What good is the majesty of royalty
when it passes away?
What good is the greatest abundance,
since everything that we see
must disappear?
What good is the tickling of vain thoughts,
since our bodies themselves must be gone?
Ah, how quickly it happens,
that riches, pleasure, grandeur
send the spirit to hell!

. . . .

God topples and exalts
in time and in eternity.
Whoever seeks heaven in the world,
will be cursed hereafter.
But whoever overcomes hell here,
will be overjoyed hereafter.

I take my sorrows upon me with joy.
Whoever bears Lazarus’ torments
the angels will take to themselves.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


About the Storage of Transcripts of Trump’s Calls with Foreign Leaders

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:45 am

New York Times:

The White House concealed some reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and foreign officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin and the Saudi royal family, in a highly classified computer system after embarrassing leaks of his conversations, according to current and former officials.

The handling of Mr. Trump’s calls with world leaders has come under scrutiny after questions over whether a transcript of a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was improperly placed into this computer system.

The latest revelations show the focus that White House officials put on safeguarding not only classified information but also delicate calls with Mr. Trump, the details of which the administration did not want leaked.

A whistle-blower complaint accuses officials of trying to “lock down” access to information about the conversation with Mr. Zelensky by improperly storing the reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call in the highly classified system after the call took place.

Some are treating this as a staggering scandal:

Meh. I’m not so sure.

You know me to be as Trump skeptical as they come. And probably no President’s calls have deserved sunlight as much as this one, due to his flagrant and shameless contempt for the rule of law, and his conflation of the interests of this country with his own personal interests.

That said, generally a President’s conversations with foreign leaders have historically been considered confidential. And while I have no problem with this particular President’s calls being revealed, the historically confidential nature of the calls is relevant here — because it suggests an innocent motive on the part of those who ordered this lockdown. (I continue to believe that the lockdown was not Trump’s idea, since he seems to think he did nothing wrong — and if he ordered it, it was probably at the behest of a more cautious subordinate. It’s also notable that although the treatment of the Ukraine transcript was initially suggested to be different from that of similar transcripts, its lockdown is part of a pattern that started after the leaks started.) The fact that Trump’s calls have been leaked in the past provides a totally legitimate reason to lock the calls down.

And guess what? Obama did this on occasion as well:

Susan “Liar” Rice complains about the treatment of the transcripts and says Trump was trying to “bury” the transcripts, but note that she admits Obama placed such transcripts on a similar lockdown at times. She claims it was done only when the discussion itself was classified. Well, maybe the discussions with Putin and MBS did involve classified information. (Of course, the discussions with Putin involving classified information may have been in the nature of “Hey, Vladimir, let me share some classified information with you” — you know, like Trump did with the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office. Which, again, is why I would personally like to see these transcripts leaked or disclosed — because although it sets a bad precedent, this guy is dangerous and we need to have maximum information about the damage he is causing every day.)

This is a distraction from the main event: Trump treating his interactions with a foreign leader as a chance to advance his own personal interests. That is in keeping with everything he does (and, by the way, yapping about “hearsay” and the allegedly changing rules regarding its use to initiate an investigation are wholly irrelevant since we have independent evidence here), and it is an impeachable offense.

Don’t count on Dems to keep their eye on the ball. Instead, they will yammer on (as Warren has) about how Kavanaugh should have been impeached also; or claim (as Paul Krugman has) that journalists are going to end up in camps.


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:59 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start:

First news item: Authorities release two child rapists instead of holding them until ICE picked them up:

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Mexican nationals were each taken into custody for separate incidents in the Tri-State Area on charges they sexually assaulted a minor.

Despite requests that the men be held in jail until officers from ICE could pick them up, local law enforcement in both states released the suspects back into the public.

Their crimes, and how their release came about:

ICE says the first man — Luciano Trejo-Dominguez – was arrested by Vineland, New Jersey police for allegedly restraining and sexually assaulting a child younger than 16 on Aug. 12.

Over the next two days, ICE and Pacific Enforcement Response Center both filed detainers to have Trejo-Dominguez held at the Cumberland County Jail. Those requests were denied and the alleged rapist was released on Aug. 23.

Trejo-Dominguez has been charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault of a victim 13-15 years-old, criminal restraint, criminal sexual contact, and endangering the welfare of a child.

The other man – Joaquin Rodriguez Quiroz – was arrested by police in New York’s Westchester County on 3rd-degree rape charges on Sept. 6.

Quiroz allegedly raped a minor under 17 years-old, which is a class-E felony in New York.

ICE again lodged a detainer request with the Westchester County Jail on Sept. 7, but the Mexican national was released after posting bond.

Second news item: Republicans want Rudy Guiliani to just shut the heck up already:

“I have great respect for Mr. Giuliani, but I said this yesterday and take it for what it’s worth: He’s wild as a March hare,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “He’s like a lot of senators, he’s kind of a free range chicken, he kind of gets out there. What he says is his business, I don’t speak for him.”

Others put it more bluntly.

“I think it would be a good thing if he would go take a vacation,” a senior GOP lawmaker told POLITICO, one of several who declined to go on the record so they could speak critically of Giuliani.

Even some of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill don’t think Giuliani is doing the president or the party any favors by being such a constant presence in the media.

“Rudy’s saying a lot of things and I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters this week.

Third news item: Rudy Guiliani has cancelled a paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week, where he was the only American scheduled to speak:

Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.

The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

…Giuliani was set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.

Giuliani said Friday evening that he was no longer planning to attend the meeting. “I didn’t know Putin was going,” he said in a brief interview, adding in a text: “Discretion is the better part of valor.”

Note: Giuliani angrily rejected questions about whether it would be appropriate for him to attend the event at which he also appeared last year.

“I will try to not knowingly talk to a Russian until this is all over,” he retorted.

Fourth news item: Cancel culture cancels reporter who cancelled private citizen:

A Des Moines Register reporter who was let go this week over a piece that received heavy backlash has blamed “right-wing ideologues” for his firing and suggested he’d experienced oppression like “women and journalists of color” face in the industry.

Aaron Calvin’s profile on 24-year-old Iowan and impromptu philanthropist Carson King, who raised over $1 million for a children’s hospital, sparked an uproar because it had referred to a pair of racist tweets King had written as a 16-year-old high school student — tweets for which King expressed remorse.

Calvin himself said he was caught off-guard after his critics delved into his own social media history and found racist and other offensive tweets. The Register announced on Thursday that Calvin was “no longer with the paper,” as his tweets went against their employee policy.

In an interview with Buzzfeed published Friday, Calvin declared that “this event basically set my entire life on fire.”

“I was reminded by an editor to background Carson … and I found a few tweets that he published in high school that were racist jokes,” the 27-year-old reporter said. “I knew if I found them, other people would find them as well.”

Calvin insisted that “throughout this entire process,” the editors, the editorial board and Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter “knew” and “approved” the inclusion of King’s tweets in the profile.

When asked about his own tweets from 2010-2013, which included the use of the n-word, hate speech against cops and a demeaning tweet about gay marriage, Calvin called them “frankly embarrassing” and said he would not have written them today. He also insisted they were “taken out of context.”

But of course “right-wing idealogues” are to blame for Calvin *choosing* to set an innocent guy’s life on fire by exposing stupid tweets made when he was a stupid 16-year old kid, right?? If you’re a reporter who chooses to cancel someone out, and then as a result, you yourself get cancelled and then Blame Others for Your Own Irresponsible Decisions, well, I’m not losing any sleep over you being cancelled out.

Fifth news item: Sarah Jeong, the ever delightful writer who loves everyone, especially old white men, has stepped down from the NYT editorial board:

“Sarah decided to leave the editorial board in August,” deputy editorial board member Kate Kingsbury told CNN on Friday. “But we’re glad to still have her journalism and insights around technology in our pages through her work as a contributor.”

Jeong is now serving as a “contracted contributor for NYT Opinion,” CNN reported. The Times did not announce Jeong’s departure from its editorial board at the time in August.

The news regarding Jeong’s status came hours after she raised eyebrows on Twitter over her response to a columnist for The Guardian who urged against people canceling their subscription to the Times.

“I’m as frustrated with @nytimes as anyone. But an individual canceling a subscription does nothing. It’s self-indulgent. It’s not a movement or a boycott,” wrote Guardian columnist Siva Vaidhyanathan, warning that “Even if it did matter it would hurt many great journalists like @nhannahjones @sarahjeong and @jbouie.”

“You’re wrong. NYT does pay attention to subscriber cancellations,” replied Jeong. “It’s one of the metrics for ‘outrage’ that they take to distinguish between ‘real’ outrage and superficial outrage. What subscribers say can back up dissenting views inside the paper about what it should do and be.”

And finally, let’s end with a serious face-palm:

I just can’t even…

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Trump Meets With NRA to Discuss Financial And Political Support

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:23 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This is interesting:

President Trump met in the Oval Office on Friday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, and discussed prospective gun legislation and whether the N.R.A. could provide support for the president as he faces impeachment and a more difficult re-election campaign, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. LaPierre for his support, or if the idea was pitched by the N.R.A. During the meeting, Mr. LaPierre asked that the White House “stop the games” over gun control legislation, people familiar with the meeting said.

It was unclear what the N.R.A.’s financial support would look like, and whether it would pay for ads, as it did during Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Gosh, I think there’s a Latin term for “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”…!

As we all know, LaPierre has been pretty pro-active in in influencing the White House to prevent any further background measures from being enacted after the El Paso and Dayton shootings:

In a series of calls and meetings, he has tried to move Mr. Trump away from proposing any sort of background check measures that he said after the mass shootings he might support.

Note: Trump is apparently doubtful about the N.R.A.’s financial abilities to bolster his reelection campaign in 2020 at the same level they did in 2016, when the organization “poured over $30 million into his election, more than any other outside group.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Hillary Clinton: “Funny Things That Happened In My Election… Will Not Happen Again”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:52 am

[guest post by Dana]

This is from Hillary Clinton during an upcoming interview with Jane Pauley, which will air Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning. If this is the failed candidate cracking open the door to another run, what vanity to believe that America turns its lonely eyes to her, of all people:

Look, there were many funny things that happened in my election that will not happen again,” she told interviewer Jane Pauley. “And I’m hoping that both the public and press understand the way Trump plays the game.”

Clinton went on to claim Donald Trump was an “illegitimate president.”

“I believe he understands that the many varying tactics they used – from voter suppression and voter purging to hacking to the false stories – he knows that there were just a bunch of different reasons why the election turned out like it did.”

Sure, go with that…


Clinton also, unsurprisingly, supports efforts to impeach President Trump:

“My view is that, given the latest revelation, which is such a blatant effort to use his presidential position to advance his personal and political interests, there should be an impeachment inquiry opened,” Clinton said. “And I think, sadly, there are a number of grounds. But this one is incredibly troubling.” She added, “The most outrageously false things were said about me in 2016, and unfortunately, enough people believed them. So, this is an effort to sow these falsehoods against Biden.”

If I cared enough, I’d like to hear Hillary address the outrageously truthful things that were said about her in 2016…

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Trump Likens Whistleblower To A Spy, Waxes Nostalgic About Historical Consequences For Spying and Treason

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:59 am

[guest post by Dana]

Speaking at a private event at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, President Trump lashed out at the whistleblower and aides who passed on the information that lead to the complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry:

President Trump expressed disgust Thursday morning with the explosive whistleblower complaint, slamming the intelligence officer and the White House aides who helped him or her as “almost a spy” and suggested it was treason.

Speaking at a private event in New York, Trump described reporters as “scum” and raged at the Democrats’ new impeachment proceedings, which were spurred by the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine’s leader to interfere in the 2020 election.

“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said.

I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.

The president then went on to recap his conversation with Zelensky, which he claimed was “perfect”:

“They said, ‘Was he pressuring you?’” Trump said, describing the question to Zelensky, who responded that he hadn’t felt any “push” but also said he didn’t want to get involved in a U.S. political squabble.

“You know, these animals in the press,” Trump went on. “They’re animals, some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.”

Someone in the room shouted out “Fake news!” egging the president on.

“They’re scum,” Trump continued. “Many of them are scum, and then you have some good reporters, but not many of them, I’ll be honest with you.”

Additionally, he attacked Joe Biden as well:

“And then you have Sleepy Joe Biden who’s dumb as a rock,” Trump went on. “This guy was dumb on his best day and he’s not having his best day right now. He’s dumb as a rock. So you have Sleepy Joe and his kid, who’s got a lot of problems, he got thrown out of the Navy — look, I’m not going to, it’s a problem … so we won’t get into why. He got thrown out of the Navy and now this kid goes into Ukraine, walks away with millions of dollars, he becomes a consultant for $50,000 a month and he doesn’t know anything compared to anybody at this firm. He’s a stiff. He knows nothing. He’s walking away with $50,000.”

We now know that the whistleblower is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point in time.

Observation: In the same breath, a sitting US president is not only demanding the names of individuals involved with providing information to a whistleblower, and the name of the whistleblower himself, but he is doing so while pointing out the historical consequences for spying and committing treason. The president appears oblivious or ignorant about whistleblower protections and how his intimidating remarks might stifle other potential whistleblowers. Given Trump’s remarks, is it any wonder the whistleblower in this case wouldn’t want to be publicly identified? This should trouble all of us.


Whistleblower Letter Released; Also: Did Trump Ask Barr to Investigate Biden?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

You can read the whistleblower letter here. And you should. A couple of salient points beyond what we already knew:

1. The whistleblower characterized multiple witnesses to the call saying “they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.”

Abuse Office for Personal Gain

2. The storage of the call was handled differently from that of other calls, for no apparent legitimate reason.

Storage of Call

That sounds cover-uppy, but I doubt Trump ordered it. I don’t think he thinks he did anything wrong. In his mind, everyone in the world exists to serve him personally. The Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, leaders of other countries … everyone.

Meanwhile, as Attorney General Barr is mentioned in the letter as being named by Trump in the Ukraine call as one of the people the Ukraine president should speak with, the question again arises: has Donald Trump asked Bill Barr to investigate Joe Biden?

I think he has. If Trump asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, why wouldn’t he ask Bill Barr? He thinks the position of Attorney General exists to serve his personal interests; we know that from his endless ranting about Sessions’s recusal. Then there’s this:

Barr says “they have not asked me to open an investigation” but he curiously emphasizes the word “asked” and he’s clearly dancing around something he doesn’t want to talk about. What is it? Here is a statement issued yesterday by a spokesman for the Department of Justice:

The Attorney General was first notified of the President’s conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky several weeks after the call took place, when the Department of Justice learned of a potential referral. The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son. The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.

A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. While the Attorney General has yet to contact Ukraine in connection with this investigation, certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating.

I did not know until I read that statement that Durham’s mandate included looking into whether Ukraine was involved in a counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign. Is this broad enough to encompass an investigation of Joe Biden? I don’t think it should be, but maybe the investigators are treating it that way.

Note well what the statement does not say, though. It does not say Donald Trump did not ask Bill Barr to investigate Joe Biden. Again: If Trump asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, why wouldn’t he ask Bill Barr to do the same thing?

One final bit of news that shows how important the Biden issue was for Trump: discussion of Biden was a precondition for the call taking place to begin with:

But after weeks of discussions with American officials, Ukrainian officials came to understand there was a condition for any meeting with Trump, the former adviser said.

“Ukrainian officials were asking for a meeting with Trump for along time. As I remember, it was a clear fact that Trump wants to meet only if Biden case will be included,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an anti-corruption advocate and former member of Ukraine’s Parliament, who had been a former adviser to Zelenskiy but has recently been distanced from the administration. “This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”

Asked if it had been understood as a condition, Leshchenko said, “Yes.”

But I was told the mention of Biden was an afterthought!

The whistleblower’s letter provides many fertile avenues for investigation. This is not going away any time soon. That I can tell you!

UPDATE: Looks like the ABC News story was garbage.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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