What a Damn Mess

I guess the Senate is now a courtroom.

This morning, before Chief Justice Roberts had been sworn in, the Government Accountability Office released a judgment that Trump broke the law when he withheld aid from Ukraine.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the decision says. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act.”

The White House quickly rebutted the charge, criticizing the agency’s decision as an “overreach” and an attempt to insert itself into the “media’s controversy of the day.”

The White House “complied with the law at every step,” White House Office of Management and Budget acting director Russell T. Vought wrote on Twitter. He also criticized GAO, saying the agency’s “opinion comes from the same people who said we couldn’t keep National Parks open during the shutdown” 12 months ago.

Regarding the national parks — just because you got away with something doesn’t prove it was legal.

If you missed Rachel Maddow’s interview of Lev Parnas last night — boy howdy, talk about throwing people under the bus. Trump, Giuliani, and Pence went first, followed by Bill Barr and Devin Nunes. Part 2 is tonight. Charles Pierce:

Let me be perfectly clear. I would not buy an apple from Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani’s running buddy in the Ukraine and (apparently) a former unofficial emissary from El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago. He is indeed under federal indictment. All of this is true now that he’s doing this very odd media tour as The Man Who Kept Receipts. I wouldn’t let him park my car.

But I believe most of what he’s been saying.  …

…  I’d say that, by and large, he’s been dealing straight with his interviewers, although Charlie Savage’s cautions on MSNBC Thursday morning are well-taken. On the events for which he already has provided documents, he seems to be telling the truth, and much of what he said were backed up by previous witnesses like Bill Taylor and Fiona Hill. He did crack open a new line of inquiry when he told kindly Doc Maddow that holding up the military aid was, in fact, the second quid pro quo demanded by the administration*. The first, he said, involved a visit that Vice President Mike Pence was supposed to make to Ukraine that was cancelled, according to Parnas, when Ukraine held off on investigating the Bidens as the White House demanded. This also seems completely consonant with what we already know.

Parnas strikes me as a guy who ain’t falling on any damn sword for anybody. This stuff is going to continue to trickle out, and not just from Parnas. If the Senate refuses to allow witnesses and documents and voters to keep Trump in office, that won’t change.

Ironically, the government of Ukraine did announce an investigation today — of allegations that Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance. Heh.