Patterico's Pontifications


Update: Trump, Biden And Pelosi Moving Into Position (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The principal players are getting into position.

From the Biden camp today:

Joe Biden, in a Delaware speech today, is expected to say Congress has “no choice but to impeach” if Donald Trump doesn’t fully comply with ongoing investigations, including into Ukraine.

While the remarks are not as forceful as some of Biden’s Democratic competitors in the 2020 race, his comments mark a shift by the former vice president, who said on Saturday said he was not yet ready to call for impeachment.

“He’s going to make the point that Trump’s latest abuses are on top of all of his prior abuses,” said an aide with the Biden campaign. “He’s going to call on Trump to comply with all of Congress’ outstanding, lawful requests for information — in the Ukraine matter, and in the other investigations. And if Trump does not comply, Congress has no choice but to impeach.”

Further, facing increasing pressure from her Democratic caucus, Nancy Pelosi, who has been resisting moves toward impeachment, has been polling her leaders to see where they stand on the issue of impeachment. She is expected to make an announcement later today after discussing options with leadership:

Fox News reports that a Democratic aide said of Pelosi: “She’s all but out of options”.

And finally, this morning Rep. John Lewis called for an impeachment investigation into President Trump:

In an emotional speech on the House floor, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., called for an impeachment investigation, saying he “has waited.”

“Sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep for fear that I will wake up and our democracy will be gone, will be gone, and never return,” he said. “This administration demonstrates complete disregard and disdain for ethics, for the law and for the constitution. They have lied under oath, they have refused to account for their action and appear before (a) legislative body, who have the constitutional right to inquire about their activities.”

He added: “We cannot delay. We must not wait. Now is the time to act.”

“The future of our democracy is at stake. There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect, preserve the integrity of our nation,” he continued. “I believe, I surely believe the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come. To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation


There are now 164 House Democrats who have signaled strong support for possible impeachment proceedings. (235 Democrats and 198 Republicans are in the House, with one independent — and a majority would be required to successfully impeach the president. An unlikely two-thirds vote in the GOP-controlled Senate would be needed to convict and remove the president.)

UPDATE: Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump this afternoon:

“This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” Pelosi said.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” she continued. “Therefore, today I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

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Pelosi said she was formally directing the House’s six committees that have jurisdiction over impeachment, oversight and other related matters to “proceed with their investigations under that umbrella.”

“The president must be held accountable,” she said. “No one is above the law.”

Trump responded to Pelosi’s announcement:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Trump Withheld Aid to Ukraine Before Call in Which He Pressured Ukraine President Over Biden

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:56 am

An article in the Washington Post:

President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials.

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had “concerns” and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.

The New York Times sheds further light:

It soon became clear that the Ukraine aid freeze was different from the hold placed on other programs. Even after other foreign aid was restored, the money for Ukraine remained blocked.

So that’s the quid, and we already know the quo. Partisans say: my, we don’t know what was said on the call. We know well enough. This is the Ukraine government’s own readout:

Donald Trump is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.

Trump has admitted bringing up Biden in the call:

“We had a great conversation. The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption — all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son (adding to the corruption),” Trump told reporters.

And just this morning Trump apparently admitted putting pressure on Ukraine regarding Joe Biden, although I offer the caveat that I have not yet seen video:

And Giuliani admitted, on national television, having brought it up himself, just seconds after denying the same thing:

“Of course I did!”

The Trump administration says the money was being withheld because of concerns over corruption in Ukraine.

Well, Mr. Zelensky, you know we’re concerned about all the corruption over there, and we can’t very well send money to corrupt places. But you know, I hear you guys have the chance to show you’re serious about corruption. Don’t you have some cases you were working on that you could finish? There’s a lot of corruption, that I can tell you. Hey, one awful bit of corruption I heard about was about Joe Biden’s son. Did you hear about that one? Terrible! Anyway, nice talking to you, and I hope our relations can be better soon!

The Trump Whisperers at Fox News have a way out for Trump, disguised as criticism:

It seems like they are slamming Trump but actually they are giving him cover. Like the allegation that Trump actively conspired with Vladimir Putin, which no sane person ever believed, the allegation that Trump openly came out and said “investigate Joe Biden or you don’t get the cash” is an absurd over-accusation. When it turns out not to be exactly true, as with Trump’s Russian shenanigans, Trumpists will use that fact to excuse the actual corruption that occurred but did not rise to the level of the most feverish, over-the-top scenarios ever proffered by his most wild-eyed critics (and focused on by his defenders).

The truth is, even the Mafia knows how to put their extortion threats in a facially friendly way. As the Mafia lawyer explained to the jury in the extortion trial, he really did think they have a nice business there! Is it now illegal in the United States of America for one businessman to praise another businessman’s business?! What has the world come to?

“I don’t think it really matters . . . whether the president explicitly told the Ukrainians that they wouldn’t get their security aid if they didn’t interfere in the 2020 elections,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “There is an implicit threat in every demand that a United States president makes of a foreign power. . . . That foreign country knows that if they don’t do it, there are likely to be consequences.”

Trump on Monday repeated his denial of doing anything improper and insisted that his July 25 conversation with Zelensky was “a perfect phone call.” He also hinted that he may release a transcript of it.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley rejected claims that Trump was engaged in a quid pro quo. “But because the media wants this story to be true so badly, they’ll once again manufacture a frenzy and drive ignorant, fake stories to attack this president,” Gidley said.

It appears the Ukrainian leader came away from the discussion with a different impression. Murphy, who spoke with Zelensky during an early September visit to Ukraine, said Monday that the Ukrainian president “directly” expressed concerns at their meeting that “the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence” of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens.

Where could he have gotten that idea? I wonder.

FAKE UPDATE: Hold everything! In a Patterico exclusive, we have video of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. Trump’s remarks begin at 1:35:

Things break.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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