Articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were read into the Senate record yesterday and Senators were sworn in as jurors by Justice John Roberts. The trial starts on Tuesday and it’s still unclear whether any witnesses will be called, but it’s clear that pressure is mounting on Republican Senators to resist the urge to dismiss the inquiry or treat it with contempt, especially because new evidence continues to emerge.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan watchdog agency, submitted its report yesterday on the withholding of aid to Ukraine, concluding that the Trump administration broke the law by not dispensing the aid sooner. The GAO noted that the aid was withheld for political reasons, not for any legitimate purpose in line with the directives of Congress–a violation of the law. SO when Trump and Republicans say that the president shouldn’t be impeached because he never violated the law, the GAO begs to differ. And this is a big deal. In a normal administration this alone would be a scandal but under Trump it’s just another grain of sand on the beach.
Rachel Maddow continued her interview with Giuliani associate Lev Parnas last night, and while the revelations weren’t as big as the first installment, there were several notable items. First, Parnas implicated former Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry in the scheme to pressure Ukraine for an investigation into Biden. Second, Parnas claimed that he worked for Trump’s lawyer Giuliani and in that capacity offered to block the extradition of Russian Mob oligarch Dmytro Firtash to the USA in exchange for help in undermining the Mueller probe. In addition, Bill Barr was part of these discussions. These allegations in themselves would be a huge scandal, and another instance of obstruction of justice and dereliction of duty–and perhaps criminal conspiracy. Parnas also claimed that he was in DC for two years and never left the Trump International Hotel during that time, describing the Trump inner circle as a “cult” that he was in the middle of. His decision to break his silence and give an interview was motivated by the feeling that his Trump “family” had abandoned him and he is scared that the Justice Department prosecuting him is run by William Barr, who he clearly sees as corrupt. He also said that based on all he has learned, he didn’t believe Joe Biden was guilty of doing anything wrong, noting that VP Biden was simply trying to force Ukraine to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor.
In the wake of the Parnas interview, we’ve still heard nothing from Mike Pompeo, which is especially galling in light of the Yovanovich stalking disclosures. Why has Pompeo never stood up for or tried to help a member of his own Department of State? We’ve also heard little from Colludy Rudy, probably because he’s under investigation by the Southern District. Many of the people implicated by Parnas have claimed they never knew or never met Parnas, yet photos, videos and communications with him continue to surface. It’s becoming clear that Parnas was a well known Trump insider in the group focused on Ukraine, working with Trump’s legal team and many others in and around the White House. Trump yesterday claimed he didn’t know who Parnas was, so Parnas released a video of himself with Trump at Mar A Lago. And he says he as more. Trump is a horrible businessman, but it also turns out he’s an incompetent crook.
Tomorrow is the third annual Women’s March and if you can’t make it to DC or NYC there are sister marches in our area. One will be in Woodstock NY on Playhouse Lane at 11am, and another will be held in Beacon at Polhill Park at 10am. See link for more info:
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”
Have a nice weekend.