Quote of the Week: “This hearing is in session.” ~ Representative Adam Schiff
Quote of the Week #2: “Always accuse the other side of that which you are guilty.” ~ Joseph Goebbels, former Celebrity Apprentice Führer contestant.
Although the public Impeachment Hearings would not start until Wednesday, they dominated Week #148 of the Trump Era, beginning on Friday when we first heard of George P. Kent, the senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine. In a preview of his televised testimony, we learned that Mr. Kent told impeachment investigators a month ago that he was alarmed at “President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine initiate politically motivated prosecutions,” the sort of thing the United States used to condemn in the world’s corrupt countries.
“Used to condemn.” Before Donald Trump began using the Federal Government as one big Dirty Tricks Squad, that is, outside the law and heedless of national loyalty, while inviting, for the second time in as many elections, a foreign country to interfere in our political process, as if he’s reading from the Tinpot Dictator Handbook.
On Saturday Trump’s own Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney decided to sue his boss when he sought to join a lawsuit seeking a court decision on whether Trump Administration officials were bound by Congressional subpoenas to testify before the Impeachment Committee, or within their rights to defy Congressional subpoenas on Trump’s orders.
With all the impeachment furor going on and the endless revelations of transcripts damning to the President, outraged House Republicans sifted through the evidence and testimony and decided to act, announcing their desire to interrogate… (!) Representative Adam Schiff. As far as the criminal charges mounting against their party’s standard-bearer? Obviously a mass delusion on the part of a score of politically neutral Diplomatic Corps professionals with impeccable records.
Trump chimed in, offering to release a transcript of an earlier call to Ukrainian President Zelenskiy, you know, the one where he does not commit blackmail and treason. That’s sort of like a bank robber defending himself by using earlier surveillance video of him just casing the joint, not robbing anyone or pointing any guns. No harm there!
As far as Trump Impeachment Defense #2, “The Biden Crime Family Did It” theory, Chairman Schiff declared that the impeachment hearings won’t include those figments of Trump’s and Rudy Giuliani’s fevered minds. On Sunday, he added that the Whistleblower won’t be testifying either. “In light of the President’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk.”
Think about that awhile, that on top of the law written to protect the identity and safety of whistleblowers, we have today a person potentially put in danger for their life, not by hotheaded partisans or thugs, but by the (!) President of The United States and Republican members of the House of Representatives. Okay, hotheaded partisans and thugs…
Also on Sunday we heard from former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of “he’s a fucking moron” fame, and Trump’s Chief of Staff General John “He’s an idiot!” Kelly tried to enlist her a couple of years ago to resist President Trump’s worst impulses “to save the country.”
She claims now (in her new book, of course) to have rebuffed those 2 august gentlemen, accusing them of setting a dangerous precedent and telling them bluntly that they should directly address the President with their concerns or resign their positions, yet at there is no record, official or otherwise, reflecting any of these sentiments on Ms Haley’s part, and she remained silent on the matter (until publication!). Her word becomes further suspect when we hear her say things like ” President Trump is always truthful.”
Much of the skepticism towards Nikki Haley stems from the currently popular but redundant revelations in another book, this one by the infamous White House insider “Anonymous” called “Fear,” describing in detail what is obvious to everyone at this point, that we have a compulsive, petulant liar with the understanding of a 6th Grader in the White House, where complex briefings are reduced to sound bites and flash cards to accommodate a slogan-length attention span combined with the memory retention of a gold fish. We got that, helpful authors, thanks just the same. Hence the Formal Impeachment Hearings.
Monday gave us more news about the muscle end of the Ukraine Operation as we heard from one of Rudy Giuliani’s 2 ever-present thugs when the attorney for Lev Parnas revealed that he was the person who told a representative of the incoming Ukrainian government that “it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid.”
His attorney is floating the idea of Mr. Parnas testifying before the Impeachment Committee about what he knows of Giuliani’s activities, and perhaps explain how it came about that Mr. Parnas considered himself (!!) “the representative of the President of The United States.” Parnas suddenly seems eager to distance himself from Igor Fruman, Tweedle Dum to his Dee until now. Being that both are facing serious criminal charges, we may yet hear a Ukrainian point of view in these hearings, although not exactly what Trump was hoping for. Careful what you clamor for, Republicans.
In more preamble to the hearings, a transcription was released of the testimony of Laura Cooper, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Russia. She told House impeachment investigators that former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker told her that “Ukrainian officials were alarmed in August that US security aid was being held up, an indication Kiev was aware of the delay earlier than it was reported publicly.” She testified that Volker urged Ukrainians to comply with Trump’s demands and publicly announce they are launching investigations.
This was Veterans Day, normally a day to play golf and pay lip service to our veterans for Trump, but sort of a peculiar day to announce that from now on the Administration would significantly limit the (!) scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations. This in a county where the meat industry is already on the Honor System (what could go wrong there?) due to lack of Federal Food Inspectors.
On Tuesday Rudy Giuliani gave us another chuckle the he inadvertently texted a reporter the password to one of his accounts. We also learned that Trump had met Giuliani’s henchmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman at least 10 times, including a quiet dinner together, the scary looking thugs with Russian and Ukrainian accents that Trump swore he did not recall, 2 men that would be as difficult to forget as root canal surgery, especially for a stable genius like Trump who claims to possess “one of the great memories of all time.”
Then Trump floated the idea of killing another messenger when he threatened to fire Mike Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, for disloyalty. No, not disloyalty to the country, but to himself. The man who admirably performed the job Trump himself appointed him to do, to safeguard the integrity of the intelligence community and American interests, found himself in Trump’s Blame-Game crosshairs for not burying the complaints of a score of intelligence and diplomatic professionals.
Them came (♫Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!♫) Wednesday morning, Day One of the Impeachment Hearings, as the aforementioned George Kent and Ambassador William Taylor sat side by side as the first 2 witnesses to testify, two of the experienced professionals who sounded alarm bells over Ukrainegate, and 2 of the most impressive civil servants one could ever hope for; brilliant, tough, incredibly knowledgeable, composed, decent and dedicated, forcing millions of Americans watching the proceedings on TV to wonder out loud why the hell one of these guys isn’t our President instead of the bellowing felon that is the reason for these impeachment proceedings in the first place.
They are impressive men, a credit to their nation and their complex craft, notwithstanding the childish antics of several immature loudmouth Republicans trying without success to rattle their confidence or punch holes in their compelling narratives. The 2 most prominent Trump Apologists, Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes, as usual distinguished themselves from the pack of Republicans with lies, attacks, frequent mentions of the Bidens, Obama and the Clintons, while issuing repeated calls for (illegally) exposing the Whistleblower.
It was a historical day (not cool history like the moon landing) for America, and an infuriating day for Trump, not the least of his gripes being the loss of HIS headlines to government functionaries and Democratic Congressmen. Almost no one paid any attention to his White House meeting with Turkish President (and recent slaughterer of America’s Kurdish allies) Recep Erdoğan, another lucky foreign leader who got to stand at a podium beside the President of the United States with a bewildered look on his face while Trump whined about his own country.
What did catch our attention, however, was a Court of Appeals deciding that Congress is lawfully allowed to seek eight years of President Trump’s income tax returns, a decision Trump’s lawyers vow to bring the next step, the Supreme Court.
Also almost lost in all this monumental history-making stuff on Wednesday was a typically tone deaf Trump Family exercise in poorly-timed tastelessness when we were given this tantalizing tidbit in the Trump Hotel Sales Brochure: “Tremendous upside potential exists for a new owner to fully capitalize on government related business upon rebranding of the asset.”
See, that’s one of the things the President is in trouble for. No, that that thing, or that one, or that one either, its the other thing, yeah… that one (who can keep track anymore?), the emoluments thing, that wacky clause of the Constitution that says a president is not supposed to use the power of the office as a cash register to Cha-Ching! his way to untold riches. Yes, that thing, so Junior and Eric are trying to take the heat off Daddy by unloading this particular Trump Hotel, a block away from the White House and notorious as a way to curry favor with a sticky-fingered American President, suddenly a political hot potato.
Thursday brought an avalanche of negative headlines for Trump, not only nationally but globally, once again getting “numbers like no has has ever seen.” Okay, it was a record number of people saying he is guilty as hell, but still, a record’s a record, and Trump just keeps on setting them.
Mercifully for Trump, no Impeachment Hearings were scheduled for Thursday, so he got to end his week with his usual pursuits, trying to hog all the headlines for himself and dominate Twitter with his irrational blathering, insane lies, vicious insults and incessant complaining, which is as good as we can expect from this fright-wigged, orange-faced apparition. He did manage to found time to appeal to the Supreme Court to help him keep his tax returns secret from Congress.
And then Nancy Pelosi dropped the “B” word, as in bribery charges against the President, and Trump’s dungeon-dwelling lab assistant Steven Miller grabbed some unsurprisingly sordid headlines of his own, first with his support of White Supremacist groups, then with the revelation that Miller instructed Breitbart News to go after Marco Rubio in 2016, with all the pertinent communications immortalized in non-secure private emails and social media accounts. No word if Miller plans to release transcripts.
On his schedule Thursday was a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, one of Trump’ favorite targets for abuse and, not coincidentally, the main organization standing in Vladimir Putin’s way in his quest to re-hang the Iron Curtain across Europe and make Russia a world-dominating Superpower once again. But this meeting was merely a time killer for Trump, with the meat and potatoes on his schedule being Thursday night’s KAG rally (Seriously, “KAG?” What, MAGA hat sales are stagnant?) in Louisiana, a much-needed Safe Space to throw his latest Pity Party.
The rally was nominally to support the election of the Republican candidate for Governor of Louisiana on Saturday, Trump’s second trip to Louisiana in 2 weeks to support Eddie Rispone, and he was careful to mention Eddie’s name a few times before launching into his Woe-Is-Me Hamlet act, with a longer list of slings and arrows than Shakespeare ever dreamed of, and a longer list of imaginary enemies than Darth Vader.
In short – The impeachment is a witch hunt, Democrats are ripping the country apart, everybody is lying but him, I’ve totally rebuilt our military, we’re rebuilding everything (he’s built nothing), my economy is the biggest, I’m the best president ever, nothing is my fault, everybody else is an idiot, and The Bidens are James Bond villains with a hollowed-out mountain filled with bazillions in gold that they sucked out of the treasuries of unsuspecting countries with their gold-sucking ray guns and guarded by their army of election-tampering Ukrainian mercenaries.
Or something like that, they’re pretty much all the same these days, with some being a bit more incomprehensible and fanciful than usual lately, what with all the stress of the impeachment and all. Then again, it’s pretty hard to tell with a man as completely detached from reality as Trump, and one can’t help but wonder if there’s a Moon-related cycle connected to his mania that we should know about, when it is at its zenith and when its wanes, just so we can make the proper allowances.
Meanwhile, Week #149 kicks off tomorrow with more testimony from honest civil servants who refused to help Trump commit a crime, this time representatives of the Office of Management and Budget, those people responsible for disbursing the monies voted by Congress, who will testify that withholding such funds is a crime, which they refused to commit, and for which they do not wish to be held accountable.
Nope, the accountability part is supposed to land on the desk where the buck stops, in the Oval Office, as America struggles to rebrand its biggest assets, ourselves as a people, and our country as a nation without a criminal President.