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.

10 thoughts on “What a Damn Mess

  1. Ukraine wants nothing to do with the US election. No matter what they do, they risk running afoul of a US president on a vendetta – no matter what they say! If they out Trump for what he did and Trump wins the election, they will be annexed by Moscow before Trump is sworn in. If They side with Trump and Biden wins, there will be a grudge – a family grudge because Hunter is Joe's last son – and Joe may exact revenge. 

    Parnas is not a shining example of virtue. I don't believe much that he says (even if I like it) without supporting evidence. That's the point which trips up the GOP as they diss Parnas as unreliable with a motive to get a lesser sentence. Phone records, text messages and emails can be validated and verified independently. They are REAL!

    Barr is in a VERY precarious spot. IF (I said if) Barr goes too far out on a limb to protect Rudy from prosecution and a Democrat becomes A/G with access to records that can't be deleted and those records show conspiracy to obstruct prosecution of Trump allies, Barr's going to jail. It happened with Nixons A/G who did 18 months as I recall. 

    If Barr allows prosecution, like Parnas, witnesses will sing like canaries as they try to get reduced sentences.  Related, Flynn is trying to back out of his guilty plea. If he does, then Flynn can be charged with everything instead of the limited charges he was facing. Trials would not begin until ?? well into 2020 and might not be concluded before Trump is out of office. Instead of six months, the new Flynn strategy might put him in jail for as long as Manifort. Trump won't pardon Flynn (IMO) until and unless he wins in November. 

    Yeah, as Maha said in the last post – it's all happening at once.

    •  If they out Trump for what he did and Trump wins the election, they will be annexed by Moscow before Trump is sworn in.

      You got that right,Doug. That's why Trump insists his call was perfect. He put the fear of God into them so thoroughly that they'll never make a peep of protest openly about the way they got shaken down. It would be like lodging a formal complaint of maltreatment against the Tonton Macoute.

  2. Doug, IMO Ukraine wants whatever it needs from the US to fight the Russians. They came within hours of acceding to Trump's demand to going on TV to announce the bogus investigation Trump wanted. If that meant mutzing up the election here, or invoking a powerful person's wrath downstream, so be it. Survival trumps later concerns.

    I like that the evil William Barr is skating closer and closer to prison. I can't wait.

    Parnas ups the ante. On the one hand Trump and his cult will do everything to prevent him from testifying, even though he's got no morals. They absolutely don't want to give this guy any airtime. On the other hand, everyone else is intensely interested in what he has to say.



  3. Lev (lion, in Russian) Parnas is, imo, part of the Russian/Ukrainian mob.  I think that was confirmed a while back, but I've forgotten, and am too tired to research it.

    But apparently, unlike the old Italian mob, there is no such thing as "omerta" anymore.

    Back under the old Soviet Union, and probably under Putin's Russia, like in the old mob, loose lips will get you "offed."  Death.  "Sme-art," in Russian.  So you'd better stay "tea-he" (quiet, in Russian.)  Not quite as threatening a word as omerta.

    As for the GAO report, well, that certainly eliminates the favorite Republican talking-point:  How can we impeach the POTUS when there was no crime?!?

    WHOOPS!!!  Down goes that one!  Yup, there was a crime.

    As for tRUMP's Senate trual, I think there's a chance that some witnesses will be allowed, as will some more information.

    But not enough to get the Republican Senate chickenshit's to vote what ever little conscience they may still have.

    I'd bet my last dollar – which is pretty much what I'm down to – that if tRUMP's Senate trial isn't dismissed, then he'll be acquitted. 

    And so, America as a representative democracy, will 'end – not with a bang, but with' the actions, or lack thereof, of sycophantic and whimpering stooges – afraid of their own voters.

  4. Here's a scenario: witnesses, damning evidence, a secret Senate vote, over 50 to remove, but not 67. Thus he stays in office; minority rule, the Republican SOP. Then Trump does what he compulsively does when he thinks he's gotten away with something; commits an even grosser crime. He and the R's go into November utterly discredited except by the 35%.

  5. Zelensky said not pressure right there in front of the camera shaking hands with Trump and so the truth is there was no pressure, except we now have more information there was probably extreme pressure to get him to say that. If you watch the photo op and clip, you even hear Trump interject reality distortion on top of the Zelensky statement.  

    At that point in time Trump was in all likelihood laying down cover.  Zelensky had contacted state department figures (and notes exist according to reports) because of the pressure Trump's dirt dig on Biden and cover story for Putin ploy.  That Rachael Maddow is quite the national treasure.  Link below.

    The Republicans of course are not afraid to point to the photo op clip and argue for the alternate reality that was planted.  They even tried for some time to argue for the Russian planted cover story about Ukrainian's being responsible for 2016 election interference, not Russia.  And no crime was committed they argue, except the GSA has 18 pages saying there was.  

    Now the Republicans are attacking Parnas's credibility, as he has thrown a lot of them under the bus.  Unlike O.J's glove, though, his words fit the facts while the Republican arguments consistently hold not water and are not backed by notes, corroboration, and even sometimes logic.  The Republicans cannot come clean, as way too many are compromised and involved in the affair.  They also cannot avoid the inevitable flood of information  which will paint a vivid picture of the length and breadth of the deception and corruption.  Both the Senate and the White House need to be thinking damage control for the government, the party, and the country, with the priority being the country.  Our respect on the international stage is on the line and the mess we are leaving will be a lasting monument to it. 



  6. The GOP's goal is to acquit Trump in what they can sell as a fair trial.  But they know that, with all the evidence against Trump, even without Parnas, Trump is clearly guilty to all but the least sentient of their cult followers, e.g., a solid majority of the public leans in the direction of removal from office, based on what's come to light in the House impeachment hearings.

    In a fair trial that would likely have to be the result, otherwise the fairness of it all is questionable. 

    The reason for the legal dream team of Dershowitz, Starr et al is not to prove Trump's innocence; there's too much evidence for that.  But to create the soundbites, histrionics and reality bull to give the GOP senators already set on not convicting Trump no matter what, enough political plausible deniability that they can go before the public and have some justification for letting Trump off the hook.

  7. I am accepting the caution I've seen mentioned that "Parnas has made a lot of money by telling people what they want to hear; he knows what people want to hear." 

    That said, I also agree that we should view this as "…but he don't want to go to jail for nobody!" and in an interview, mentioned Trumpie's folks went to silence him. Not to tell him "everything's fine" but to SHUT HIM UP. 

    I can't think of a better reason to flip – that screams "you're the patsy, so sad, too bad". So I'm not accepting that everything he says is golden, but I do believe that he wants people paying big, big attention to the man behind the curtain, or, to make a plea deal, and only being fair-to-middlin' honest will help in either of those situations. 

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