In The Past 24 Hours Or So

October 22-October 23, 2019

  • Trump on Oct 3rd: “I spoke to (McConnell)…he said, ‘That was the most innocent phone call that I’ve read.'”

McConnell Tuesday: “I don’t recall  any conversations with the President about that phone call.”

  • Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon career official overseeing Ukraine policy, is testifying before the House impeachment inquiry. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia is appearing even though the Defense Department told Congress that it would not comply with a House subpoena to provide documents related to the freezing of US security aid to Ukraine.
  • Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) says he and 22 other House Freedom Caucus members met with Trump Tuesday to discuss impeachment, at the White House’s request. “We assured President Trump that we have his back” and that there’s “no credible evidence of an impeachable offense.”
  • Trump Tweeted. “Neither he (Taylor) or any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.” Congressman John Ratcliffe @foxandfriends Where is the Whistleblower? The Do Nothing Dems case is DEAD!”

NOTE: Taylor says Sondland told him directly that both a meeting and military aid depended on the investigations. Regardless, a “quid pro quo” is not necessary for there to be violations of election laws. All the law requires, whether or not Ukraine was aware or delivered, whether or not the communications involved a quid pro quo, is the solicitation of a thing of value from the Ukraine President in connection with a U.S. election. That is a federal crime.

NOTE: Top Ukrainian officials were alerted in early August* that $391m in US military help was frozen. This timeline undercuts Trump’s defense that Ukraine couldn’t have felt pressured to investigate his rivals if they didn’t know of the freeze.

  • More than two months before the Trump-Zelensky phone call, Ukraine’s newly elected leader told advisers he was worried about pressure from Trump to investigate Joe Biden. The meeting was recounted to The AP by three people familiar with the details.
  • Trump boasted that American incomes have skyrocketed $7,000 during his presidency.

NOTE: Inflation adjusted median income rose $1400 in the past two years (2.3% in two years). There was a 5% gain under Obama and 4.2% decline under GW Bush. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates a $970 tax reduction for middle-income earners. All of which was eliminated by Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods according to the Federal Reserve Bank of NY.

  • Oral argument is being presented before the 2nd Circuit NY as Trump lawyers argue he cannot be investigated or prosecuted while President, so DA in NY cannot use a grand jury to obtain evidence, including his taxes. A Judge is now asking Trump lawyers why, even assuming the President is immune from indictment, he should be immune from investigation. “This is just a grand jury subpoena.” The is case likely to ultimately head to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Trump’s lawyer says Trump could not be investigated while in office even if he committed a murder.
  • As Pentagon official Laura Cooper’s closed-door deposition began, a group of House Republicans protesting the process (who don’t sit on the relevant impeachment committees) walked into the hearing room with their electronics, which are prohibited in the room. Mike Conaway of Texas collected the electronics.
  • They have ordered pizza. No, seriously, they have.
  • Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill.
  • Trump referred to some republicans as “they are human scum!”
  • Trump announced that the United States will lift sanctions on Turkey, saying that the Turkish government has informed the White House that it will abide by what he characterized as a “permanent” cease-fire along the border with Syria.
  • Ukrainian-American businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested earlier this month on their way out of the country on one-way tickets, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in their first court appearance. Parnas’ attorney told the judge there may be concerns to sort out related to executive privilege due to their relationship with Giuliani, who serves as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.

NOTE: Only the president can invoke executive privilege.  Also, executive privilege does not extend to cover potentially criminal acts.

  • A protege of Devin Nunes, Kash Patel, was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to Trump, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats.
  • Secretary Pompeo has refused to brief senators on the situation in Syria and how the Trump administration is working to defeat ISIS.
  • A federal judge gave the State Department 30 days to release Ukraine-related records, including communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

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