The chaos created by Trump’s corrupt presidency doesn’t break for weekends. Setting aside the horribly tragic death of basketball legend and polymath Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash, the weekend saw several significant developments in the Trump impeachment saga, as well as newsworthy items from Trump himself.
It was reported by the New York Times that excerpts from an early draft of Ambassador John Bolton’s book-in-progress confirmed that Trump was going to hold back US aid to Ukraine until president Zelensky met his demand for an investigation into Biden. Bolton further claimed that Mike Pompeo admitted there was no basis for the claim by Rudy Giuliani that Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovich was corrupt. He also claimed to have warned Bill Barr about the famous Ukraine phone call sooner than Barr has admitted to knowing. This new evidence will increase pressure on Senate Republicans to allow witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, but even if they decline to allow witnesses, the Democrats can read parts of the book into the record. Either way it will look even worse for Trump.
Late in the day on Friday a 90-minute video tape from 2018 was released by the lawyer of Lev Parnas featuring Trump, Parnas, Igor Fruman and others discussing over dinner many topics including the Ukraine and Ambassador Yovanovich. The tape has little actual video, but the audio is fairly clear and we hear Trump being told that Ambassador Yovanovich is in the way and doesn’t like him, so Trump growls a long string of angry responses culminating in “Take her out!” But just as important, the tape exposed Trump’s lie that he didn’t know Lev Parnas. It’s becoming quite clear that Trump and his family knew Parnas well. More astonishing, it seems that Trump didn’t meet Parnas through Rudy Giuliani, but rather Trump introduced Giuliani to Parnas. So it’s another instance where pathological liar Trump was found hanging out with shady Russia-linked goons and being recorded without his knowledge. It was a national security nightmare far exceeding a few emails sent by Hillary Clinton from a private server, and yet there will be no outrage from the feckless and morally bankrupt GOP. The simple fact seems to be that no abuse of power, no amount damning evidence, no amount of confirmation or corroboration, will deter the Vichy Republicans from supporting a corrupt president.
Trump continued his impeachment Twitter-tantrum over the weekend, targeting Rep Adam Schiff with typically vile and juvenile venom, saying Schiff “has not paid the price yet for what he has done to our Country!” It was a clear threat and the kind of irresponsible language that Trump’s violent cult of followers might act upon. Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance gave my favorite response:
I honest to God still can’t believe that this is coming from the president of the United States. Removed or not, this is what a failed presidency looks like.
The Senate trial continues today with Republicans finishing their rebuttal. I’m sure they’re not happy to have to share the airwaves with the Kobe Bryant tragedy, but those are the cards they’ve been dealt. Some sad, locally relevant news; Democratic impeachment manager Gerold Nadler will miss the proceeding today because his wife was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the couple will be conferring with medical professionals.
Some happy national news for Democrats. Texas has registered a million new voters since the 2018 mid-term election, and roughly two million new voters since the 2016 election. Despite rules written by Republicans that make voter registration more onerous in Texas, Democratic groups redoubled their efforts and made great progress. More than a third of the new voters are under 25 and they skew Democratic, so this is a tremendous development. Demographers have long said that Texas will eventually go blue, and when it does it will change the presidential political map forever. Well, it’s happening. Maybe not fast enough to flip the result in 2020…but you never know.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”