ABC News has an audio tape of Trump screaming that Marie Yovanovitch must be “taken out.” Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were present at whatever event was taped. I’m seeing other news sources saying the tape was leaked by Fruman.
David Graham, The Atlantic: Republicans Are Making a Kafkaesque Argument.
If nothing else, the tape shows, again, how much evidence we still haven’t seen about the Ukraine affair. And it underscores the elaborate, slippery dance that Senate Republicans are performing. First, they vote against gathering new witnesses and evidence at the start of the impeachment trial. Second, they complain that Democratic managers are offering no new evidence. Third, they say that it is pointless to call witnesses who might provide new evidence, because the White House will simply block them. In Trump’s Washington, Kafka seems quaint.
It is possible that the president* was suggesting Parnas treat Yovanovich to a nice dinner and a movie, but I doubt it.
It is here where we all should remember that, if he had wanted to, the president* could have fired and/or recalled Marie Yovanovich himself and not given any reason at all. He’s the president*. He can do that. Of course, there would have been gossip, and some inconvenient news coverage, and Yovanovich likely would have made a lot of noise, but there would have been no doubt that the president* was within his rights to do what he did.
Instead, because he left his guts somewhere in Queens, he had to get Rudy Giuliani and his band of Volga Bagmen involved, which ultimately forced every one of them, including the president*, to lie and obstruct Congress and, thereafter, lie about how they obstructed Congress. They are the Gang That Couldn’t Obstruct Straight. So now it is clear that both Parnas and Igor Fruman, his partner in sleaze, have flipped like circus acrobats, and god alone knows what else will come out. Who knows how many tapes exist of the president* proposing who knows how many crimes? I would think, given recent developments, the president*’s relationship with Saudi Arabia might be a target-rich environment.
This may be the best column Dana Milbank ever wrote — John Roberts comes face to face with the mess he made.
Roberts’s captivity [as the impeachment judge] is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see.
Ten years to the day before Trump’s impeachment trial began, the Supreme Court released its Citizens United decision, plunging the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests. Citizens United, and the resulting rise of the super PAC, led directly to this impeachment. The two Rudy Giuliani associates engaged in key abuses — the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the attempts to force Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents — gained access to Trump by funneling money from a Ukrainian oligarch to the president’s super PAC.
Gabriel Sherman writes at Vanity Fair that Trump is unraveling.
Trump’s circle is waking up to the notion that impeachment is a serious drag on his campaign. “Impeachment is drowning out all his accomplishments,” a Republican insider said. But impeachment is only one aspect of the problem. Inside the campaign there is an intensifying debate between Trump and his advisers about whether the campaign should run on base-incitement issues like immigration or a moderate-appealing message about the economy that could win back suburban voters. “They’re all trying to get Trump to run on general election issues and not get caught up in side issues,” a source close to the campaign said. “But Trump is focused on other stuff and going after [Joe] Biden.” …
… Meanwhile, Trump has been in a particularly foul mood as impeachment drags on. Trump recently told some Republicans that he decided to say “fuck it” and kill General Qasem Soleimani, according to a source briefed on the conversation. Trump’s mood has the West Wing bracing for a new round of staff turmoil. According to sources, Trump is unhappy with Kushner’s recent Time cover story, which showed Kushner posing solemnly inside the magazine’s iconic red border. One source said there is speculation inside the West Wing that Trump may rein in Kushner by bringing in Kushner antagonist Chris Christie to replace acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. According to one source, Kushner, perhaps realizing the problems the cover could cause, lobbied Matt Drudge not to link to the article.
Susan Glasser, Trolling Day at the Trump Trial
During hours of arguments, on Thursday afternoon and late into the night, that were meant as a prebuttal to Trump’s forthcoming defense, the House managers sought to anticipate and undercut the arguments of the President’s lawyers. The best witnesses they called were all the President’s men. The managers presented video clip after video clip demolishing the President as a mere parrot of Russian propaganda, who repeated Russian-inspired falsehoods about the 2016 campaign and his Presidential rival Joe Biden, even as he withheld crucial aid to Russia’s enemy, Ukraine. There was “no information” to support Trump’s insistence that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election; it was “completely debunked,” a “fictional narrative” divorced from anything having to do with U.S. foreign policy or its national interest. Trump’s accusers were not #NeverTrump Republicans or Democrats. They were senior officials in the Trump Administration. It was devastating.
Glasser also writes that many Republican senators became excited at the mention of Biden. It turns out they were thinking this would give them an opening to subpoena Biden. Then some of them probably remembered they weren’t to allow witnesses, because Trump and McConnell want the trial over by the end of January. Can’t stomp on the SOTU, you know.