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    • When the W. Bush campaign was trailing McCain so they decided to press the nuclear button and do a calldown in the south asking people if they knew McCain had a black child, I thought that was the dirtiest thing I had heard in politics. Cindy McCain had adopted Bridget from Bangladesh as as a humanitarian act.

      I wondered if a politician is willing to do that, what else were they willing to do? I wonder the same when I see the infamous tweets.

      @lidja , I listened to a Terry Gross interview of the historian who wrote The War Before The War and he made a point that will forever stick with me: when civil discourse breaks down as it did before the Civil War, and as it is doing now, you discover that institutions that seemed durable are fragile and democracy breaks down.

    • I am very concerned about how Trump’s insidious bullying is impacting America. Even though it is totally obvious (and quite often absurdly infantile), it still is having an awful impact. The Bush campaign used innuendo, which is disgusting. But Trump is blatantly making physical threats and inciting mob action. This is unconscionable.

    • Looks like John Bolton is trying to taunt Adam Schiff into issuing a subpoena for Bolton to testify. (“I know way more than you have heard so far.”)

      It appears Bolton wants to eventually argue in front of the Supreme Court that White House staffers deserve blanket immunity...

      Schiff isn’t taking the bait.

    • Nikki Haley is coming out with a book and she has a point of view I’m having trouble digesting. It’s that, on the Ukraine call, it’s not impeachable because the aid flowed and the Ukrainians didn’t investigate the Bidens.

      To me that’s like trying to rob the bank but failing, so it’s not a crime. Am I missing something?

    • Not sure if Bolton was ever subpoenaed exactly, but apparently, subpoenas can be withdrawn...

      News this morning says that Mulvaney has attached himself to Bolton’s lawsuit and that Bolton is pissed. That took me down a Don McGahn rabbit hole...

      Don McGahn was the president’s former White House attorney. (I bet he is cracking up at the whole idea of Giuliani being Trump’s personal lawyer right now and thanking his lucky stars he got out when he did!) McGahn was named in a suit brought by the House challenging the executive branch’s reach to prevent former employees from testifying to the House. (This was before the Ukraine thing erupted and the House was trying to get some of Mueller’s stuff to stick.) That lawsuit probably won’t be decided until sometime next year. Bolton’s and Kupperman’s suit is essentially a copycat. That’s probably why Adam Schiff (House Cmte Ldr) has decided not to pursue it.

      Mulvaney’s jump onto the Kupperman-Bolton bandwagon (both Kupperman and Bolton are former executive branch officials) changes the whole nature of the suit, since Mulvaney is a current executive branch employee.

      Here’s a LONG-winded article (and I mean way more long-winded than TL;DR) that explores the McGahn suit and its ramifications:

    • If I was one of the house Democrats, I would definitely want to hear from Bolton. The more the merrier. So long as they have relevant information to provide. From my understanding, the White House really has no power to prevent people from testifying. The whole "executive privilege" thing has its limits. Especially when we’re talking about an investigation that directly implicates the president. 

      As for McGahn, yeah, he totally dodged a bullet! 

    • Ok, so I haven’t watched the hearings yet from today. I will. But, below are bullet points via CNN on each of today’s witnesses and why they are significant. By the way, if you already watched the hearings, by all means feel free to share your thoughts! 

      Bill Taylor: 

      · Believed Ukraine’s requests were explicitly tied to Ukraine’s willingness to investigate Trump’s political rivals. 

      ·      Says he was told there had been a hold placed on military aid to Ukraine. 

      ·      Came out of retirement to lead U.S. Embassy in Kiev. 

      ·      Distinguished diplomatic career with posts in Brussels, Kabul, and Baghdad. 

      ·      Served in Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

      ·      West Point graduate; Vietnam Veteran. 

      George Kent: 

      ·      Heard Taylor say that Trump wanted Ukrainian President to announce an investigation using the words Biden and Clinton. 

      ·      Claimed that during Obama admin he warned Hunter Biden’s business interests could make it harder for the U.S. to advocate against conflict of interests. 

      ·      High-level official who oversees U.S. policy over Ukraine at State Department. 

      ·      Decades of experience in Ukrainian foreign policy. 

      ·      Worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations.

    • I got caught up in listening to the live testimony today. I was quite impressed with today’s two “witnesses.” They said over and over that they were there only to report what they had heard, seen, and experienced and did not have any expectations or understandings as to how their testimonies would be used. They didn’t feel they were there for one “team” or the other “team.” Neither of them consider themselves “Never-Trumpers.” They are both career patriots you might say; they have worked through both Republican and Democratic administrations. They both testified because they had received subpoenas and they chose to obey the law. Neither of them were given access to any of the notes and files they had kept while at work—everything was taken by the State Dept. and none of it has been turned over to Congress as requested. They relayed their memories and had only their personal notes to rely upon.

      It was pretty evident that they were saddened and frustrated by what has happened in Ukraine.

    • I listened to some of the broadcast while driving and saw clips on YouTube at night, and the two witnesses gave me warm feelings that there are some good, competent people as ambassadors, not just rich political donors. 👏

    • Good analysis! I agree with what you said here. They were clearly just doing their jobs and sharing what they knew. I'm cooking up my key takeaways, but wanted to first reply to yours. I think you are on point here.

    • I thought this column in the L.A. Times was on point as well. Read the whole piece, but this excerpt was really good: 

      As New York Times columnist Bari Weiss told a startled Bret Baier on Fox News on Wednesday, “If an informant calls the NYPD and says, ‘There’s a house full of cocaine at the end of the block’ and the NYPD goes there and they find a house full of cocaine, and then we find out that the informant was biased against that homeowner, does it actually matter if the person was biased that the cocaine is there?’”

    • Upon watching the hearings yesterday, I wanted to share my thoughts in here. Once again, if you have not yet watched the hearings, I encourage you to do so. Below is a breakdown of my overarching takeaways from George Kent and Bill Taylor’s testimonies as well as what I saw from the Democrats and Republicans. 

      Overarching takeaways: The first main takeaway I had from their testimonies is that Kent and Taylor kept very detailed notes. They had nearly everything time stamped and knew when they learned certain details of information, etc. I think that part bode really well for them. 

      Secondly, we learned something new that we didn’t know after the closed door hearings. Namely, that Bill Taylor’s aid overheard a phone call between Gordon Sondland and Donald Trump at a restaurant in Ukraine in which Taylor’s aid heard Trump ask Sondland explicitly about the investigations into Biden and the 2016 election. That raises the stakes for Sondland’s testimony next week. Note: The Associated Press has since learned that a second U.S. official in Kyiv also heard the call. 

      Third, Kent and Taylor both made it clear that in their eyes, Trump was putting his own personal interests ahead of those of the United States. Taylor talked about two channels. A regular/official channel about the United States and their diplomacy towards Ukraine and an irregular/back channel being run by Rudy Giuliani and his crew. What worried them was seeing the irregular channel start to take a life of its own that was not in harmony with the regular channel and United States’ interests. Taylor feels Trump cared more about the investigations into the Bidens than he did Ukraine. 

      Fourth, both Kent and Taylor did a really good job of explaining why the United States has been so interested in helping out Ukraine over the years. They explained why the United States and the rest of the world for that matter, needs Ukraine to finally break away from the grip of the Soviet Union that has held them back over the past decades. 

      Democrats: I thought the Democrats as a whole did a good job of asking the right questions that get to the heart of why we’re having these impeachment proceedings in the first place. Their chief prosecutor Daniel Goldman really took the reins and did a fabulous job. I felt the Democrats were able to get Kent and Taylor to explain what happened. Which is that President Trump put pressure on Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce that he was investigating Joe Biden and Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election if they wanted their much needed congressionally approved aid to fight Russia. 

      The goal coming in for Democrats was to get Kent and Taylor to explain what happened. They did a good job of accomplishing this goal. If you watched the hearings, it’s pretty hard to not understand what happened. At least in the eyes of Kent and Taylor. 

      One final note is I thought Adam Schiff did a good job of setting the stage and explaining why these hearings are so important: Our democracy is at stake. He shared a quote from Benjamin Franklin about our country being a republic only if we can keep it. I thought that was pretty powerful. 

      Republicans: I’ll be honest here. I don’t really know where they were going. Devin Nunes started off with a tirade about this is a bogus witch hunt and that there’s nothing to see here, which I find to be absurd. If you read the transcript of the call it’s clear there’s a lot to be alarmed about. On top of that, Nunes made a host of ridiculous claims like the Democrats accusing Trump of being a Russian agent. That is not true. Also, Republicans (I believe it was Jim Jordan), accused Adam Schiff of knowing who the whistleblower is. Schiff made it clear that he did not know who the whistleblower is, but wanted to protect his identity. 

      As for Stephen Castor, the Republicans’ chief prosecutor, tried to make this all about the Bidens and add credibility to the claim that Ukraine was actually the country that meddled in the 2016 election. What hurt him is the fact that Kent and Taylor made it explicitly clear that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden and that it was in fact Russia that meddled in the 2016 election. 

      Jim Jordan from Ohio went on a tirade and acted all confused, as if what happened is so hard to follow. If you listen to Kent and Taylor, it’s pretty simple to understand what happened. It’s not complicated. Him acting confused was just a way for him to avoid asking any questions of substance. Jordan also went on the attack accusing Kent and Taylor of being “star witnesses” of the Democrats. Kent and Taylor made it clear that they were not picking sides and were only there to relay the facts as they see them. He tried to paint Kent and Taylor as partisan hacks, which quite honestly backfired. Especially when you consider their resumes. 

      Other Republicans squawked as well. Mostly notably John Ratcliffe, who represents the 4th district of Texas. He said he thought every single question Goldman asked was ridiculous and got his shorts all up in a bunch. He tried to go for a slam dunk but missed when he asked Kent and Taylor where the impeachable offense was since they were there to get Trump impeached. Kent and Taylor didn’t fall for his ploy and once again made it clear that they were just there to relay the facts as they saw them. 

      The strongest Republican talking point in my view is that the Trump administration has been providing lethal assistance to Ukraine, unlike the Obama administration. They should hammer this point home more often, but they have so far failed to do so. 

      They also can argue that the aid did come, that Zelensky said he felt no pressure, and that Zelensky didn’t actually announce any investigations. The problem is that the aid didn’t come until after the whistleblower complaint had been filed, Zelensky clearly is in a vulnerable position compared to Trump, and even though Zelensky didn’t actually go through with those investigations, does it really matter if Trump was pushing for it to happen? 

      Conclusions: Overall, I feel like the Democrats had the better day. They got Kent and Taylor to clearly explain what happened in their eyes. Kent and Taylor came prepared, able to pinpoint specific dates for when they learned about different events, etc. What Gordon Sondland says next week will be very interesting to follow. Especially with the news that he was on a call with Trump that was overheard by two U.S. officials in which Trump asked about the investigations. 

      As for the Republicans, they gotta find a way to bring more substance to the table. So far, they’re only doing a good job of keeping Trump’s base and those in their echo chamber happy. They gotta do more to get independents and moderate Democrats on board with their position. If they continue on the path they’re on, they’ll fall flat on their face. 

      Looking ahead to Friday, we’ll hear from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. It’ll be interesting to see what she says as well. We learned something new from Bill Taylor after his closed door testimony. Will we learn something new from her? We’ll just have to see. 

    • Yes, very sobering. I hope the courts and justice system holds with the flood of new right-wing unqualified judges we’re appointing. My company had a trial in East Texas once with a judge who was just like Devin Nunes; that’s why we were sued there, because everyone loses against that judge.

      So this was encouraging to me:

    • I've had the sense for a long time that Pompeo got the job and keeps it by bending to whatever Trump wants: withdrawal of troops from Syria, ending the agreement with Iran to let them rebuild their nuclear ambitions, turning dictators like Kim Jong Il into celebrities, trashing state department employees, etc. I haven't seen him take a principled stand on anything, except maybe his stand against same sex marriage during his confirmation.

    • The spontaneous applause that drowned out the obnoxious Republican’s begging at the end provided a fitting climax, I thought. Bravo, Ms. Yovanovich, bravo!