Looks Like a Watershed to Me

So much has happened these past three days that every time I try to blog about it, the situation changes before I finish. It’s been an interesting week. What might happen next?

Here is as good a one-paragraph summation as I can find, courtesy of Josh Marshall:

We are seeing what started as a whistleblower complaint about pressure on Ukraine expand into something much larger. President Trump was trying to coerce Ukraine to intervene in the 2020 election or lose critically needed military aide in its slow motion battle with Russia. Now we see that Attorney General Bill Barr has been making the rounds of the world pressuring allied governments to embrace conspiracy theories about bad actors in the US government plotting against President Trump. They are also pursuing theories that Russia was framed for the 2016 interference campaign.

See also ‘A presidency of one’: Key federal agencies increasingly compelled to benefit Trump:

As the impeachment drama has unfolded over the past week, a series of disclosures has illuminated President Trump’s command over key federal agencies, revealing how he has compelled them to pursue his personal and political goals, investigate his enemies and lend legitimacy to his theories about the 2016 election.

The Justice Department has prioritized a probe that the president hopes will discredit a finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help him win. As part of that effort, Attorney General William P. Barr has met overseas with foreign intelligence officials to enlist their aid in “investigating the investigators,” as the right’s rallying cry goes, and dig into the president’s suspicions.

The State Department, meanwhile, has been investigating the email records of as many as 130 current and former department officials who sent messages to the private email account of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Trump’s 2016 opponent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defied Congress on Tuesday by attempting to block the depositions of five department employees called to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

Going back to Josh Marshall’s post — if you dig deep enough, what comes out of all this isn’t just an attempt to get retribution for Trump. It’s also an attempt to exonerate Russia.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is saying he and Trump have never been close. Make of that what you will.

The presentation of the State Department Inspector General to key congressional committee members and staffers turned out to be a bunch of unclassified and long-debunked conspiracy theories sorted into Trump hotel folders, according to Sen. Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This appeears to have been part of a project of the Secretary of State. I’m not sure why this was supposed to be a big bleeping deal, but maybe we’ll find out. Sen.Menendez said,

“These documents provide further evidence of a concerted, external effort to conduct a disinformation campaign against a career U.S ambassador, who has been the subject of baseless attacks, including by the President himself.

“We also need to understand Secretary Pompeo’s role, given that it appears that he discussed these documents with at least one of his top aides and that the documents were distributed at the highest levels of the State Department.

“As I called for earlier today, Secretary Pompeo must recuse himself from any decision making related to the Trump-Ukraine scandal.

“We cannot afford to be distracted by false information. We must ensure the American people have a full accounting of how President Trump and Secretary Pompeo leveraged the tools of foreign policy for political gain.”

Trump is losing it. Today he had an epic meltdown in a joint press conference with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö. Clips of this national embarrassment are going viral around the globe, including this bit:

“What can you learn, what can you learn from Finland?” the Finnish reporter asks Trump.

“Well, you got rid of Pelosi, and you got rid of shifty Schiff,” Trump responds.

Like that makes sense. At one point Trump also patted President Niinistö’s knee, which clearly displeased President Niinistö. The governor of California tweeted,

What else have we learned today? Trump talked to Boris Johnson for help discrediting the Mueller Report. A new book says Trump wanted border guards to just shoot migrants and had to be told that wasn’t allowed. He also wanted to install a moat full of snakes and alligators.

In other administration news, the Secretary of Agriculture, in Wisconsin speaking to dairy farmers, must have endeared himself to the farmers:

President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it’s getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”

You hear that, family farmers? Too bad for you. Big agribusiness will replace you. That’s just how it is.

We’re also in a deep manufacturing recession, a headline says. The Dow Jones has lost more than 800 points this month, and it’s only the 2nd.

So much winning.