Oh yes, I remember when that happened and you’re right to cautious. Same source, same problem. Not the hill I would want to die on that’s for sure. I’m starting to think a lot of these Russia/Trump stories like this one, have become a new kind of political creepypasta.
Indeed. That’s the danger of it. We all know Trump’s in bed with Russia at some level. How deep is hard to suss out, but it makes any stories that come out about him and Russia both more believable but also potentially misleading. Thanks for the Scribd link, though, I am sharing that with folks who want to see the article but I warned about the potential untrustworthiness of the source.
Should be safe for casual viewers who just want to know what’s being said.
Judge: Indicted Giuliani associate may give records to House
A federal judge on Friday allowed a Rudy Giuliani associate indicted on campaign finance charges to turn over documents to Congress as part of the impeachment proceeding against President Donald Trump.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken granted Lev Parnas’ request to turn over to the House intelligence committee documents and data seized by federal investigators when Parnas was arrested in October.
Parnas’ attorney said in a court filing he expected to receive the materials from the U.S. Justice Department this week.
Who needs creepypasta when you can just read congressional documents?
This seems to have more on the whistleblower in question:
The whistleblower in question’s father was a Deutsche Bank executive who committed suicide, leaving him documents he’s been sifting through.
While Enrich describes Broeksmit as an “impatient, erratic, and abusive” source, he also had access to a huge stockpile of corporate secrets related to Deutsche Bank. The files included corporate emails, financial materials, boardroom presentations, and legal reports — all of which are credible, according to Enrich.
This would not be the first time a death has lead to revelations about Trump dealings and doings. A similar event happened concerning his attempt to subvert the census:
I can’t drop this into the thread I have, but it’s breaking:
‘It’s the Senate’s turn now,’ McConnell says on impeachment
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated Friday he has little interest in agreeing to Democrats’ demands for new witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and instead will work swiftly to acquit the president of the charges.
“Their turn is over,” McConnell said about the Democratic-led House. “It’s the Senate’s turn now.”
Congress convened for the new year with Trump’s impeachment trial deeply in flux and the crisis in the Middle East only adding to the uncertainty about how lawmakers will proceed.
McConnell criticized House Democrats as having engineered a “slapdash” impeachment that is the “most rushed, least fair” in history. The House last month approved charges that Trump abused his power in dealings with Ukraine and then obstructed Congress.
The GOP leader invoked the Founding Fathers’ vision of the slower-moving Senate as “an institution that could stop momentary hysteria and partisan passions.”
Trump, only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, wants not only acquittal in the trial but also vindication from his GOP allies.
While McConnell is hoping for a speedy acquittal, the Senate trial cannot begin until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivers the articles of impeachment, which she is refusing to do until he provides details on whether Democrats will be able to call more witnesses.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “We need the whole truth.”
McConnell has said the trial should start and then senators can decide the scope.
He indicated the Senate will carry on with its other business while it waits for the House to act.** “We can’t hold a trial without the articles,”** he said. “So for now, we are content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder.”
Schumer is pressing for at least four new witnesses, all of whom refused to appear in the House proceedings before the House voted to impeach Trump last month. They are Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and two other officials who were directly involved with Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in in military aide for Ukraine, which the ally depends on to counter Russia, until President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to publicly announce an investigation into Trump rival Joe Biden.
“Why won’t Trump & McConnell allow a fair trial?” Pelosi tweeted this week.
The Constitution requires that the House and Senate convene on Jan. 3, but few lawmakers were in town for the perfunctory session. But the Senate leaders’ remarks are being closely watched for signs of next steps amid the crisis in the Middle East after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general with airstrikes in Iraq.
Democrats believe their demands for witnesses are bolstered by new reports about the withheld aid and unease among some GOP senator over the situation.
Democrat Reps. Ted Lieu (CA) and Kathleen Rice (NY) Accuse Trump Of Stock Market Fraud And Open Investigation
Just Security’s bombshell investigative report (see @Pet_Proletariat’s post above) nails Trump for breaking the law by withholding aid to Ukraine. That’s an impeachable offense right there. However, there is another part of this story that, so far, has been mostly ignored. As per usual, when Trump breaks the law, he also obstructs justice to cover it up (e.g., as Mueller established, Trump attempted to obstruct justice ten times during the Special Counsel’s investigation). And here once again, in plain sight, we witness obstruction of justice. This time by the DOJ (they redacted these emails) – and the question becomes, “Did Bill Barr, Trump’s appointed head of the DOJ, redact these emails at Trump’s direction to cover up Trump’s illegal acts?” Here’s another version of the above headline that would be just as on point:
Unredacted Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of DOJ’s Cover Up
Now that we have seen unredacted version’s of these emails, we have to ask, why were these messages so extensively censored? Was it for reasons of national security? Absolutely not. When we look closely, it’s obvious that the redactions were made solely to hide Trump’s illegal acts and to cover up for his enablers who were facilitating these illegal acts.
The DOJ’s redactions were primarily directed at hiding three things:
It was Trump, and Trump alone, who held up the aid.
The Pentagon, over and over, questioned the legality of Trump withholding aid that had been duly appropriated by Congress.
The Pentagon repeatedly warned that the delays caused by withholding the aid would mean that some or all of it would expire and never be distributed.
There is no excuse whatsoever for making these redactions. None of these have anything to do with national security – only covering up crimes.
Just Security lays out many instances of redactions that fit the above three types of cover up by the DOJ – you can judge for yourself with a quick scroll through the article. I’ll just focus on these:
As frustration mounted, the Pentagon considered ratcheting up its warnings and prepared a draft letter from Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist to Vought, the acting director of OMB. [Elaine] McCusker [the Pentagon’s Comptroller] shared the letter with [Mike] Duffey [OMB official responsible for blocking the aid] on Aug. 27 just to let him know it was in the works. The entirety of the one-page letter was redacted in the emails released to CPI. Here are the key sections:
“As you know, in a series of footnotes to its apportionment documents, the Office of Management and Budget has directed the Department to pause its obligation of USAI funding temporarily, pending completion of an ‘interagency process to determine the best use of such funds.’ These footnotes make the affected funding legally unavailable for obligation during the period of the directed pause. As a result, we have repeatedly advised OMB officials that pauses beyond Aug. 19, 2019 jeopardize the Department’s ability to obligate USAI funding prudently and fully, consistent with the Impoundment Control Act .
The Pentagon’s warning to the OMB in this letter is consistent with several earlier warnings. All of those warnings were also redacted by the DOJ.
The Pentagon then reiterated the warning once again and, once again, the DOJ redacted the warning:
Talking points were hashed out and [Mark] Paoletta, the OMB general counsel, forwarded them around. The final talking point read:
“No action has been taken by OMB that would preclude the obligation of these funds before the end of the fiscal year.”
When McCusker read this, she wrote to Duffey,
“I don’t agree to the revised TPs — the last one is just not accurate from a financial execution standpoint, something we have been consistently conveying for a few weeks.”
Her reaction to the talking points was redacted in the FOIA release…
So OMB’s General Counsel, Mark Paoletta, was warned multiple times by the Pentagon that the holdups jeopardized the aid. However, Paoletta then outright lied by denying he was warned – he did this in a letter to the Government Accountability Office which was investigating the aid delays:
… the larger trove of unredacted emails, raises new questions about the Dec. 11 letter from OMB General Counsel Paoletta to the General Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional investigative office. The unredacted emails show the Pentagon’s repeated and clear warnings to OMB that by mid-August it could no longer guarantee that the funds could be fully executed within the fiscal year. But, Paoletta’s letter stated, “at no point during the pause in obligations did DOD [Office of General Counsel] indicate to OMB that, as a matter of law, the apportionments would prevent DOD from being able to obligate the funds before the end of the fiscal year.”
IMO, Paoletta should be prosecuted for perjuring himself to government investigators. The DOJ should also be investigated for covering up Paoletta’s perjury by redacting the sections of the Pentagon’s emails that would expose his lies.
Bottom line: Bill Barr must testify in the Senate trial and explain why his department obstructed the investigation into Trump’s direction to withhold aid to Ukraine. Paoletta and Duffey from the OMB must also testify to lay out how they enabled Trump’s crime. And McCusker from the Pentagon must testify to confirm her repeated warnings to the OMB and Trump Administration which they ignored and lied about.
This story keeps getting weirder:
The part about FN’s BANK ACCOUNTS being under attack has me wondering. The fact that Deutsche Bank felt the need to directly step in and deny it is also mind-boggling.
Pelosi Statement on Urgency for Fair Senate Trial
“In December, the House upheld its Constitutional duty to defend democracy For The People, honoring the vision of our Founders for a Republic. In an impeachment trial, every U.S. Senator is required to take an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’
“For several months, the House has subpoenaed documents and witnesses which the President stonewalled. These cases are now in the courts. While the House nevertheless was able to obtain compelling evidence of impeachable conduct, Leader McConnell knows full well that the President’s obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry is unprecedented and in defiance of our system of checks and balances.
“Today, Leader McConnell made clear that he will feebly comply with President Trump’s cover-up of his abuses of power and be an accomplice to that cover-up.
“Leader McConnell is doubling down on his violation of his oath, even after the exposure of new, deeply incriminating documents this week which provide further evidence of what we know: President Trump abused the power of his office for personal, political gain.
“The American people deserve the truth. Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution. The GOP Senate must immediately proceed in a manner worthy of the Constitution and in light of the gravity of the President’s unprecedented abuses. No one is above the law, not even the President.”
This is how you act when you’re guilty as sin.
Considering how damaging the recently unredacted emails from the Pentagon to the OMB were, imagine how devastating these will be – sent directly from Trump’s right-hand man to the OMB.
The Trump administration disclosed on Friday that there were 20 emails between a top aide to President Trump’s acting chief of staff and a colleague at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget discussing the freeze of a congressionally mandated military aid package for Ukraine.
But in response to a court order that it swiftly process those pages in response to a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, lawsuit filed by The New York Times, the Office of Management and Budget delivered a terse letter saying it would not turn over any of the 40 pages of emails — not even with redactions.
“All 20 documents are being withheld in full,” wrote Dionne Hardy, the office’s Freedom of Information Act officer.
The Times’s information act request sought email messages between Robert Blair, a top aide to Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who was in charge of handling the process for releasing $391 million in weapons and security assistance Congress had appropriated to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression.
David McCraw, a lawyer for The Times, said the newspaper would challenge the blanket withholding of the documents and would ask the judge overseeing the lawsuit, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, to approve an expedited schedule for briefs and arguments given the urgent public interest in learning more about the dispute.
White House to Notify Congress of Suleimani Strike Under War Powers Act
The White House has told Congress that it plans on Saturday to send formal notification under the War Powers Act of the drone strike ordered by President Trump this week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a senior administration official and a congressional official said on Saturday.
The notification, required by law within 48 hours of introducing American forces into armed conflict or a situation that could lead to war, has to be signed and then sent to Congress, according to the officials with knowledge of the plan.
The public portion of the document is expected to lay out the White House’s legal justification for the strike on General Suleimani, Iran’s top security commander, who officials have said has been behind hundreds of American deaths over the years. It is also expected to include a classified portion, likely detailing the intelligence that led to the action.
Its contents are all but certain to animate a fierce debate among lawmakers about the reach of presidential war powers and Congress’s role in matters of military conflict. Many Democrats have called the strike against General Suleimani, which threatens to escalate tensions between the United States and Iran and reverberate throughout a violent and volatile region, illegal and unauthorized. They are already searching for ways to curb Mr. Trump’s ability to strike Iran in the future.
The White House delivered a formal notification of the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani to Capitol Hill on Saturday, as required under the War Powers Act, according to a senior Democratic aide and another official familiar with the matter.
Trump is using more than threats to keep GOP lawmakers in line as they consider his impeachment: report
According to a report at The Atlantic, Donald Trump is using more than threats of retaliation — via Twitter or rally attacks — to keep Republican lawmakers in line as they ponder his possible ouster in his Senate impeachment trial soon to come.
As Peter Nicholas, writes, “How has the president avoided a rebellion within his own party? No doubt congressional Republicans fear Trump because of his unshakable grip on the party’s base. That’s long been the case. But there’s another reason they’ve shielded him from impeachment: He’s wooed Republicans who can protect his interests, cultivating relationships with them in ways that are not always visible or understood.”
As the report notes, the president has focused on key influential lawmakers to flatter and groom, using them as a shield against others in his own party who differ with him on his policies and conduct.
Nicholas notes that the president might actually be getting a bigger boost for his charm offensive after ordering the killing of Iranian military official Qassem Suleimani.
“Americans tend to rally behind a president facing looming national-security crises, and lawmakers take cues from voters,” he wrote. “That could help strengthen Trump’s impeachment advantage within his party, and even Democrats from conservative states might be more sympathetic to the president in a Senate trial if Trump is overseeing an armed conflict with Iran.”
However, previous to the killing of Suleimani, the president was working behind the scenes schmoozing, flattering and bestowing favors, Nicholas writes.
“Risky as it is for Republicans to buck Trump politically, Trump has built personal ties with key members of Congress that have cemented their loyalty. Read Trump’s Twitter feed or listen to his rallies, and he comes off as an unhappy man, filled with grievances and self-obsessed. But that scabrous persona isn’t what he necessarily shows Republican lawmakers, nor is it what they care to see,” he explained. “Representative Peter King of New York is an illustrative case of a lawmaker Trump has reached out to. An independent-minded Republican who announced in November that he was retiring from Congress, King broke with his party 20 years ago and voted against impeaching President Bill Clinton.”
Writing, “King is the sort of lawmaker whose vote Trump can’t take for granted,” he adds, “And the president hasn’t, wooing him from the start: King told me that in the summer of 2017, Trump invited him aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to Long Island to give a speech about the gang MS-13. That proved to be a fateful trip. On the flight back to Washington, Trump ousted Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and replaced him with then–Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Aboard the plane, the president confided in King about the move, asking for his thoughts on Kelly.”
“’He’s down-to-earth, easygoing, friendly,’” King told me of his interactions with the president. “’He can be pretty profane about this guy or that. I have to remind myself that I’m with the president of the United States, but I feel like I’m back on the street corner in Queens.’” When he’s in Trump’s company, he added, it’s like being with “’ a stand-up comic and raconteur,’” Nicholas writes.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Sc) is also a major recipient of Trump’s largesse.
“Two potential jurors were part of his all-Republican entourage when he attended Game 5 of the World Series on October 27: Senators David Perdue of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. (Over repeated rounds of golf and meetings since taking office, Trump has defanged Graham, who once called him a ‘nut job.’ Now Graham is one of the president’s closest allies. He got a private briefing on the Iran strike while golfing with Trump in Florida earlier this week—a courtesy that doesn’t seem to have been extended to other congressional leaders,” the report states.
“Perhaps Trump’s most important relationship on Capitol Hill is with McConnell. There isn’t much warmth between them—Trump scorned McConnell’s judgment in 2017—but the collaboration has proved mutually valuable. He’s focused on one of the senator’s pet projects: stocking the federal courts with conservative judges. And Trump appointed McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his transportation secretary, and in an administration marked by endless churn, she’s held the job from the beginning,” he continues. “McConnell is now helping shepherd Trump through impeachment. It’s largely up to McConnell how Trump’s Senate trial could unfold, and the two have talked often about impeachment. Though at times the president has suggested he wants full vindication in a trial, complete with witnesses and tough cross-examination of his accusers, McConnell favors a streamlined trial that dispenses with the impeachment articles quickly. Trump seems ready to go along.”
You can read more here.
Trump has quietly cultivated relationships with Republicans in Congress who can protect his interests, writes @PeterAtlantic, and it’s helping him survive impeachment.
Dear Colleague on Introduction of War Powers Resolution
JANUARY 5, 2020
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Last week, the Trump Administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials. This action endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.
As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.
This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate. It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.
The House Resolution will be led by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. Congresswoman Slotkin is a former CIA and Department of Defense analyst specializing in Shia militias. She served multiple tours in the region under both Democratic and Republican Administrations.
I greatly appreciate the solemnity with which all of our Members are working to honor our responsibility to protect American lives and values.
Thank you for your patriotic leadership during this difficult time.
Impeachment live updates: Trump calls for a quick end to the impeachment process as lawmakers return to town
As they return to Washington this week after the holiday recess, congressional Republicans are preparing to step up pressure on Pelosi to transmit the articles of impeachment, a strategy they highlighted Sunday.
“It’s now been almost three weeks, and she hasn’t taken any action,” Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) told Fox News. “She’s let that progressive, socialist, Democratic mob walk her into a box canyon. She’s put a gun to her own head and she’s looking for Mitch McConnell to give her a way out, and he’s not going to do that.”
Multiple Democratic officials expect Pelosi to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate as soon as this week — though Pelosi’s office said Friday that no decision has been made and declined to detail her plans.
In a letter to colleagues late Sunday, Pelosi said that the House would vote on a war powers resolution this week to limit Trump’s military actions against Iran, warning that his order last week for a lethal strike against a top Iranian commander risked a serious escalation of tensions in the Middle East. She made no mention of plans related to impeachment.
Senior Democrats, including two who appeared on the Sunday shows before lawmakers returned from the two-week congressional recess, have defended the delay in transmitting the articles.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the maneuver has been successful in highlighting the positions of Senate Republicans on the trial — and holding them accountable.
“One success this has already had is flushing out McConnell, showing he is working in cahoots with the president — that he has made himself an active participant in the president’s coverup,” said Schiff, who is expected to be named as an impeachment manager. “So the American people needed to see that, and now they do.”
Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — said on ABC’s “This Week” that Pelosi “has done a very good job here,” predicting that if she’d sent the articles in December, “McConnell could have well just voted for dismissal the day before or after Christmas.”
Bolton Says He Is Willing to Testify in Impeachment Trial
John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said on Monday that he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial if he was subpoenaed.
“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Mr. Bolton said in a statement on his website.
The development is a dramatic turn in the impeachment proceeding, which has been stalled over Democrats’ insistence on hearing from critical witnesses Mr. Trump blocked from testifying in the House inquiry into his pressure campaign on Ukraine. Mr. Bolton is a potential bombshell of a witness, with crucial knowledge of the president’s actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill out key blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case.
His willingness to tell the Senate what he knows ratchets up pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has refused to commit to calling witnesses at the impeachment trial, to change his stance. But it is unclear how the White House will respond to Mr. Bolton’s declaration, or whether the former national security adviser would defy a direct order not to testify.
If he did appear under oath in the Senate, Mr. Bolton would be the closest adviser to the president to testify about what Mr. Trump said behind closed doors as he pressured the Ukranians to investigate his political rivals as he was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid from the country.
House Intel Committee should subpoena Bolton immediately.
Greg Sargent makes the excellent point that John Bolton’s willingness to testify puts Republicans in the absurd position of actively refusing first-hand, eye-witness testimony, the exact thing they’ve been shouting that Democrats didn’t have.
John Bolton just made Mitch McConnell an offer he badly wants to refuse
Oh, and I just saw this: