The calm before the next storm

Just moments after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the seven Democrats who will prosecute at the impeachment trial, Donald Trump tweeted “Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats. All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!” If he would actually do some work [instead of tweet, watch Fox News and play golf], the managers are to show the results from the impeachment.

The impeachment managers will prosecute the case against Trump. They will act as prosecutors for House Democrats who will outline the case against Trump in the Ukraine scandal. The opportunity to serve as an impeachment manager will offer a high-profile turn in the spotlight for whoever is chosen and the chance to elevate their standing in Congress and with liberal voters.

The impeachment managers are: House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Jason Crow, Rep. Val Demings, Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Rep. Sylvia Garcia. The impeachment articles were later delivered to the Senate by these seven people. The actual trial will begin on January 21st.

Trump is adding some lawyers to his impeachment legal defense team. This includes Kenneth Starr, the hard-charging prosecutor whose work led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and Alan Dershowitz, the constitutional lawyer. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy “Loose Lips” Giuliani, wasn’t included. I am guessing he’s not happy.

Trump commented during the Clinton impeachment era that Starr was a “lunatic” and a “disaster”. So he has no issue of using him about 20 years later. Dershowitz is also busy with a defamation lawsuit by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers where he claims the accusations against Epstein are false. Dershowitz is also accused of sex trafficking in the lawsuit.

Also on the legal team is White House counsel Pat Cipollone and outside attorney Jay Sekulow, who are still expected to deliver statements on Trump’s behalf on the Senate floor. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump’s longtime personal counsel Jane Raskin will also supplement Trump’s impeachment legal team.

Trump is asking for donations to help fund his Senate impeachment hearings and vote. He doesn’t have enough money of his own? Isn’t he a billionaire?

Trump, I’m sure will continue to whine about the “hoax”, “do nothing Democrats”, and his other comments while the trial goes on. Since it is unlikely 20 Republicans will vote against Trump [assuming no Democrats vote for Trump], Trump should easily win the trial. He will claim that he will be exonerated, vindicated, etc. However, this trial is not to see if he will be impeached – he has by the House – it is to see based on the evidence presented in the House [and by some fluke the trial allows] whether he should be removed from office based on the evidence.

This is about an equivalent of a sentencing hearing after someone is convicted. Him and his cronies will pitch this for months and his followers [who believe him over anything] will agree with what he says – no matter how true it is.

Joseph A. Bondy, attorney for Soviet-born businessman Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Giuliani, has turned over photos, dozens of text messages and thousands of pages of documents to House impeachment investigators in an effort to win his client an audience with lawmakers. Parnas is increasingly under pressure by federal prosecutors who have said they are likely to file additional criminal charges against him. If successful it could win him an audience with prosecutors and possibly leniency.

House Democrats unveiled new evidence that they plan to send to the Senate as part of their case to remove Trump from office. The evidence includes text messages and hand-written notes from an indicted Rudy “Loose Lips” Giuliani associate that add more details about the push for Ukraine to announce an investigation against Trump’s political rivals.

The documents show how Parnas sought to set up a meeting between Giuliani and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and connect with members of his government.

Parnas implicated the Trump in an interview in which he said that their efforts were “all about 2020” and not about working in the interest of the United States. “That was the way everyone viewed it,” Parnas said, disputing Trump’s claim that the push to unearth damaging information about his political rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, stemmed from concerns about corruption in Ukraine.

The records also add more details about the push by Giuliani to seek the ouster of the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Trump and cronies denied Parnas and Trump knew each other. Parnas released photos of the two of them. Reminder that Trump tends to deny he knows people who accuse him of things that he did.

The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law [Impoundment Control Act], when it withheld US security aid to Ukraine for his political gain last year that had been appropriated by Congress. Not surprising, Trump cronies denied the problem saying the GAO is wrong and not enough for evidence in the impeachment.

“While no US service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” the US military said in a statement. US military added that 11 service members had been injured in the attack. Following the attack, the Pentagon had initially said that no casualties had resulted from the 16 missiles fired by Iran.

But Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said after the attack that “Most importantly, no casualties, no friendly casualties, whether they are US, coalition, contractor, etc.” The US military defines a casualty as either an injury or fatality involving personnel.

Not surprisingly, on Sunday, Trump’s cronies and mouthpieces headed to the Sunday TV news shows, pushing what Trump said during the past in week. Case in point, they probably all said 4 embassies were being targeted – the latest version of the reason why Iranian military leader, Qasem Soleimani, was killed. But none could give any evidence that 4 embassies [originally just one] were under threat. I don’t think it gives any top secret information if giving out just which embassies were involved.

“There is no blame here for America. America stood up once again for freedom. Iran went past a red line they had not gone past before, killing a U.S. citizen. Iran shot down an innocent, commercial airliner. There’s no doubt where the blame lies,” claiming House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. Those who lost their lives, lost their freedom.

Trump tweeted “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching.” If he’s talking about the recent protesting, I’m doubting there has been a thousand who were killed but I’m sure plenty were imprisoned. The Iranian regime wouldn’t obviously announced how many have been injured, killed or imprisoned.

The Trump administration has abruptly canceled four classified congressional briefings related to the ongoing Iran crisis, in some cases providing little or no explanation for doing so.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indirectly blamed rising tensions in the Middle East for the destruction last week of Flight PS752 just after takeoff outside Tehran. “I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau said. Yes, Iran claimed that they thought the flight was a cruise missile supposedly flying to a military installation.

Asked whether the Trump administration should have warned Canada of the plan to kill Soleimani, McCarthy ducked the question by citing Iranian acts of aggression in the region. “… And Trudeau did not have to mention Iran because the facts are purely on Iran … Trudeau is right about what Iran had been doing.” Except Trudeau laid the blame on Iran and the US.

Trump said in an interview “When, during the campaign, I would say Mexico is going to pay for it [The Trump Wall]. Obviously I never said this.”

Scratching head time.] Huh? You said it many times and recorded on video.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden used Trump’s own words in an add to show that he is the candidate that should lead the Democrats against Trump.

Michael McCain, chief executive of Canadian food packaging company Maple Leaf Foods [MLF], lashed out against the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis in relations between the United States and Iran on Twitter. Someone [from the US I gather] replied to boycott the company’s products. The boycott will be useless as MLF probably doesn’t sell much to the US. If a Canadian boycott, it won’t mean much either as Canadian right wingers aren’t as [far] right as those in the US and would less likely follow.

The Secret Service has spent $588,000 renting golf carts since 2017 when Trump decided to go golfing. Maybe cheaper to own? In the first five months of his presidency, the Secret Service paid more than $250,000 to Trump’s private businesses. Eric’s 2017 promotional trip to Uruguay, where he attended a party at Trump Tower Punta del Este, cost the Secret Service close to $100,000.

In July 2015, Trump said, “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done. I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off.” Trump has spent at least 252 days at a Trump golf club, and 333 days at a Trump property since inauguration since the end of 2019.

It has been just over 300 days since there has been a White House press briefing. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham hasn’t held a briefing since taking her role in July, deciding instead to participate in interviews with friendly conservative television outlets – mostly Fox News. Nice job if you can get it. So instead of appearing in tens of millions of Americans [let alone those outside the US], her interviews is limited to one news network. Other networks will need to grab Fox News’ feed.

Apple once again is drawing the line at breaking into a password-protected iPhone for a criminal investigation, refusing a request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help unlock the iPhones of a shooter responsible for an attack in Florida in December.

Attorney General William Barr declared that the shooting was an act of terrorism and reiterated law enforcement’s plea to Apple to unlock the killer’s phones-an iPhone 7 and iPhone 5. Trump, of course, weighed in as well.

Stephen Colbert recently referred to Mitch McConnell as a pair of googly eyes glued onto a chicken thigh.

This past week in impeachment inquiry was a doozy

Donald Trump tweeted he will “strongly consider” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that he testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Pelosi suggested Trump could do so in writing. “Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump tweeted.

Trump described Pelosi later on as “crazy as a bedbug” and “not talented”. Was she in a reality show of his?

Trump said he would like a full Senate trial if the House votes to. “I want a trial,” railing against the House Democrats’ inquiry. Trump said he wants Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff to testify.

Hmmm. If he thinks the impeachment inquiry has always been a sham, why would you go? It gives credibility to the inquiry then. Just before his tweeted that the impeachment inquiry a “great fraud.” Of course the probability of Trump participating is just a bit higher than nil.

Trump tweeted “The rules are rigged by Pelosi & Schiff, but we are winning, and we will win!” Does he have a way to measure winning an impeachment inquiry.

Trump lashed out against Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who described his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in her deposition as “inappropriate.” At one point Trump said he never met her. How is that possible? She is an aide to Pence!

US Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that there was a quid pro quo for Ukraine to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents that came from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the “express direction of the President.”

Sondland provided House impeachment investigators with emails and texts showing it wasn’t just him and Giuliani pushing for the investigations outside government channels – Trump’s inner circle knew what was going on, too. He even said he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence that the freezing of $400 million in security aid to Ukraine was linked to the investigations.

Sondland, who was appointed by Trump to be US ambassador to the European Union, testified that he had kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “in the loop” about “activities” connected to the effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Trump’s main political rival.

Sondland testified there was a quid pro quo for Ukraine to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents that came from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the “express direction of the President.” Giuliani said he “never met” Sondland.

Sondland said he and President Trump are “not close friends” and have a “professional, cordial working relationship.” trump claimed he doesn’t know Sondland well and hasn’t spoken to him much. On the question of how often they spoke, Sondland said around 20 times. In a tweet on Oct. 8, Trump called Sondland “a really good man and great American.”

But Trump has said the same thing about just about everyone who has testified. He said the same thing about Pence’s aide. Sondland was also a Trump appointee.

The Trump administration has still failed to give Ukraine all of the aid that is at the center of the inquiry.

David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine, overheard Sondland say in a phone call “Dammit Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f—s everything up.” Trump tweeted after “Never have I been watching a person making a call, which was not on speakerphone, and been able to hear or understand a conversation.”

A lawyer for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, said that his client is willing to tell Congress about meetings the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee had in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.

While Trump is still promoting a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser and Russia expert, said the debunked theory that Ukraine was behind election interference played into Russia’s hands. Trump repeated his assertion that Ukrainians might have hacked the Democratic National Committee’s network in 2016 and framed Russia for the crime.

“They gave the server to CrowdStrike, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian,” Trump said. In fact, CrowdStrike is a California based company owned by a Russian who immigrated to the Us when he was very young. CrowdStrike said it was 2 Russian hacking groups that was involved in the DNC hack.

In a classified briefing this fall, US intelligence officials told senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a years-long campaign to shift the blame away from Russia and onto Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 American presidential campaign.

Trump’s aides have explored moving some impeachment witnesses on loan to the White House from other agencies, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, back to their home departments ahead of schedule. Trump is asking anew how witnesses such as Vindman and Ambassador Bill Taylor came to work for him. He has suggested again they be dismissed, even as advisers warn him firing them could be viewed as retaliation.

“America hired @realDonaldTrump to fire people like the first three witnesses we’ve seen. Career government bureaucrats and nothing more,” the Donald Trump Jr., tweeted as Yovanovitch began her testimony.

“You elected Donald Trump to drain the Swamp, well, dismissing people like Yovanovitch is what that looks like. Dismissing people like [George] Kent and Taylor, dismissing everybody involved from the Obama holdover days trying to undermine Trump, getting rid of those people, dismissing them, this is what it looks like,” Trump tweeted. They are still employed.

He also went after former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump recalled from her post in Kyiv. Trump claimed without evidence that she didn’t want his picture to hang on the walls of the embassy. In fact, his picture only arrived in 2018 and put up shortly after. Talking about petty.

The House of Representatives is now investigating whether Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House’s general counsel said in federal court.

Trump’s financial documents won’t be released at this time, after the Supreme Court put on hold a lower court opinion that allowed a House subpoena to go forward. The court did not set a timeline when it will rule or release the documents, but has asked for the House to respond very soon to Trump’s request to block the subpoena.

Right-wing media personalities, in addition to Trump himself, have recently resurfaced a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails in 2016. The theory is popular in pro-Trump circles because it lets Russia off the hook for election interference, and suggests Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe was unnecessary and had corrupt origins.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “clearly asking for personal favors and using United States assets as collateral is wrong,” a swipe at Trump as the investigation into his dealings with Ukraine intensifies.

BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick hit the nail on the head with this piece: “There Are Two Separate Impeachment Hearings Happening Right Now – And Republicans Are Winning Theirs.” Broderick explained, “Nothing Republican Rep. Devin Nunes does during the hearings makes sense if you watch it in the moment. When it’s posted on Facebook later, though, it works perfectly.”

Trump’s recent visit to Walter Reed did not follow the protocol of a routine presidential medical exam as medical staff at Walter Reed did not get a staff-wide notice about a presidential visit to the medical center in Bethesda. Typically, Walter Reed’s medical staff would get a general notice about a “VIP” visit to the medical center ahead of a presidential visit, notifying them of certain closures at the facility.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump decided to get parts of his physical done early because he had a “free weekend” in Washington, but did not responded to questions about why Trump did not get his full physical exam — which typically takes 4 hours. Grisham also denied Trump had any health issue. Who does a physical in 2 parts?

But two days later, Trump’s doctor described the hospital visit as an “interim checkup,” a term physicians implied a separate visit that is not part of an annual physical. “Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed,” is what Grisham initially said.

Trump, Grisham said, underwent a “quick exam and labs.” Several experts familiar with White House medical procedures said that Trump can get routine lab work done at the White House’s on-site clinic, indicating Trump needed tests that can’t be done there. His two previous physical exams in office were announced ahead of time by the White House and noted on his daily public schedule.

You will be happy to hear that Trump authorized his doctor to release the fact that Trump’s cholesterol level is at 165 – within range for his body – if you believe his doctor. That is a 30 point drop from his previous physical. Considering he hasn’t changed his eating habits or does any physical activity [other than lifting a fork or knife], you need to wonder how accurate that number. His weight wasn’t released but in the last physical, he gained weight.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wishes the President “well” from “whatever he’s recovering from.” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s longtime cardiologist, said he remains “very skeptical” of the White House’s explanation, particularly because the White House did not disclose what exam Trump underwent beyond having blood drawn.

The Senate passed a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown as the clock ticks down to an expiration of government funding that would trigger a shutdown if lawmakers don’t act in time to prevent it. Trump could not blame the Democrats for anything as the vote was 74-20. At one point, Senate Republican leaders were still working to relieve objections on their side of the aisle to components of the month-long continuing resolution to keep the government operating past the deadline when funding expires.

Shortly after he left Texas, Trump tweeted: “Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American Workers!” Except it opened 6 years ago. Apple doesn’t even own the plant but that’s where Apple products are made. He went to Texas for a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In addition, even though the impeachment inquiry was going on the last couple of weeks, the house was still in session, passing two bills. This includes the House passing a short-term funding bill to try to avert a government shutdown.

“Since resigning as National Security Advisor, the White House refused to return access to my personal Twitter account,” former national security adviser John Bolton tweeted. “Out of fear of what I may say? To those who speculated I went into hiding, I’m sorry to disappoint!”

Trump pardoned an army lieutenant serving 18 years for ordering the murder of unarmed Afghan civilians in 2012 and he preemptively pardoned a former Green Beret officer accused of ambushing and killing an Afghan prisoner a short time after his release by military authorities. He also ordered the promotion of demoted Navy SEAL who was reported by his own comrades for shooting at civilians and posing with the corpse of a 15-year-old prisoner after accusers say he shoved aside a medic and stabbed him.

Not only did Trump make it clear he considered the Navy SEAL a hero and that the Navy might as well not bother with the prosecution, he actually lashed out at Navy prosecutors, declaring that he’d directed the Pentagon to rescind their military achievement medals. Trump has said: “You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly.”

Trump is also reportedly considering pardoning the only US mercenary punished for the wanton civilian killings the State Department’s hired guns carried out in Iraq after the 2003 American invasion. Trump is sending a bright and clear message to troops in the field: Go ahead, do what you have to do, forget the rules of war, there will be no punishment.

John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, narrowly won re-election, overcoming the intervention of Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to help Mr. Edwards’s Republican challenger and demonstrate his own clout. It was the second blow at the ballot box for Trump this month in a Republican-leaning state, following the Democratic victory in the Kentucky governor’s race, where Trump also campaigned for the GOP candidate.

Chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will have been in his job for year in January – and there’s little indication Trump is prepared to drop “acting” from his title.

Trump claims he’s the reason China hasn’t taken steps to crush pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong by asking his “friend” Chinese President Xi Jinping not to send in the military. But China has warned it will retaliate against the U.S. if Trump signs a bill supporting the Hong Kong protests. Trump says if it weren’t for him “thousands of people would have been killed in Hong Kong right now and you wouldn’t have any riots.” Sure Donnie.

In a speech Trump said “She [Pelosi] can’t even get the USMCA bill passed. OK. And every Democrat wants it — the Democrats, the Republicans, it’s on her desk for three months. And she hasn’t done anything on it.” The Trump administration has pushed Pelosi to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement but it has not sent her any legislation to implement the trade deal as the Democrats object to certain issues.

The Trump administration has sent letters to dozens of residences in California, New Mexico and Texas notifying owners that the government is going to survey their land for future border barriers, according to two US defense officials.

“Should the landowner decide not to sign the Right of Entry letter, the Army may refer the matter to the US Department of Justice to initiate a condemnation for court-ordered temporary access to the property,” said the US army spokesperson. For privately owned, the federal government needs to seek permission before surveying the land. This doesn’t give owners much of a choice.

The Trump administration has sent the first migrant to Guatemala as part of its agreement with the country to accept asylum seeking migrants from the US, according to Guatemalan officials. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador are eligible to be sent back to Guatemala under this program.

Michael Knowles, president of a local union that represents US asylum officers, denounced the Trump administration’s asylum policies during a House hearing saying “These policies are blatantly illegal, they are immoral, and indeed are the basis for some egregious human rights violations by our own country.”

The Republic National Committee spent $100,000 to prop up Donal Trump Jr’s book. If getting the typical bulk discount, that could mean up to 7,000 copies. 70,000 copies were sold in the first week.

And the public impeachment inquiry begins

[Note: As quite a bit of the public impeachment inquiry has repeated information from the part behind the closed doors, I will try not to repeat the news.]

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff made clear that the Ukraine whistleblower won’t be testifying in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry, arguing that the individual’s testimony would be “redundant and unnecessary.” House Republicans earlier Saturday had submitted a list of witnesses they’d like to testify as part of the chamber’s impeachment inquiry into Trump and Ukraine. The list included the whistleblower and Hunter Biden.

“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence … that not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower’s testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary. In light of the President’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk,” Schiff wrote to Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee.

You know that Trump will not go for this.

Rep. Liz Cheney [the No. 3 Republican in the House] said former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch “clearly is somebody who’s been a public servant to the United States for decades and I don’t think the president should have done that.” Trump “was wrong” to post tweets critical of Yovanovitch during her testimony in the impeachment hearings.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” tweeted Trump, pointing to the time she spent in war-torn Somalia and in Ukraine, where Trump said “the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavourably about her.” Yovanovitch described Trump’s tweets as “very intimidating.” Schiff suggested it was part of a campaign of “witness intimidation.”

Yovanovitch says she was told last April by a State Department official to return to the United States “on the next plane” because of concerns “up the street” — a phrase she understood to mean the White House. Yovanovitch says she had a reputation for championing anti-corruption interests in Ukraine. Maybe a reason why she lost her job.

Trump continues called himself the “most transparent president in history” while adding “It’s really sad when you see people not allowed to ask questions,” Trump said about the hearing of Yovanovitch. “I think it’s considered a joke. It’s a disgrace what’s happening.” How do you measure transparency?

So no Republicans can ask any questions? GOP Rep. Will Hurd rattled off a list of Yovanovitch’s accomplishments before going into questioning. GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik used her five minutes for questions to go after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his remarks about having the whistleblower testify. Wasted 5 minutes.

Trump said he will release the transcript of another phone call with the president of Ukraine “probably” this communication having taken place in April before the July conversation at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Unsure what this will accomplish.

Trump tweeted “The lawyer for the Whistleblower takes away all credibility from this big Impeachment Scam! It should be ended and the Whistleblower, his lawyer and Corrupt politician Schiff should be investigared [sic] for fraud!” Of course, as an expert in the legal system, he knows the chances of this being true. [And does he ignore Twitter apps’ spell checker?] Trump is claiming without proof that Schiff doctored the behind the close door transcripts.

Trump claimed that he wasn’t watching the impeachment inquiry but commented that those lawyers involved aren’t much better than TV lawyers. Then he finally admitted he has watched his impeachment inquiry. He claimed he was too busy with a White House visit from Turkish President/Dictator Recep Erdogan.

Some Republicans are pushing for Joe Biden’s son Hunter as part of the inquiry but for what reason other than for a deflection. They could ask Hunter Biden about his dealings in Ukraine but what would that accomplish as this is an inquiry for impeachment. They would then use the testimony to go after Biden if there is something illegal.

In her forthcoming book “With All Due Respect”, about her time in the Trump White House, former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley claims that she was recruited by White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to subvert the wishes of Trump. Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” writes Haley.

Trump is demanding that South Korea pay roughly 400% more in 2020 to cover the cost of keeping US troops on the peninsula. The price hike has frustrated Pentagon officials and deeply concerned Republican and Democratic lawmakers. It has angered and unnerved Seoul, where leaders are questioning US commitment to their alliance and wondering whether Trump will pull US forces if they don’t pay up.

Trump’s $4.7 billion demand came out of thin air, sending State and Defense Department officials scrambling to justify the number with a slew of new charges that may include Seoul paying some costs for US personnel present on the peninsula and for troops and equipment that rotate through. To justify the price tag, officials at State and the Pentagon expanded the costs Seoul would cover from basing, sewage, the usual things, to include ‘readiness’.

A Trump-appointed federal judge decided that Trump can’t sue New York state officials in a Washington, DC, court at this time to stop the release of his tax returns to Congress. Trump then asked the Supreme Court to block a Manhattan grand jury subpoena for copies of his financial records and tax returns, teeing up a test of Trump’s expansive claims of immunity.

Trump’s personal attorneys are expected to ask the Supreme Court with an emergency petition asking the justices to put on hold a lower court ruling that cleared the way for the House to subpoena Trump’s financial records.

Trump associate Roger Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and other charges in a case that has shed new light on Trump’s anticipation of the release of stolen Democratic emails in 2016 by WikiLeaks. Stone was found guilty on five counts of lying to Congress, one of witness tampering, and one of obstructing a Congressional committee proceeding.

Trump came to Stone’s defense after the verdict was released, calling it “a double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country.” Which double standard?

The staff at an Idaho public library spends most days helping patrons find books they need. But lately, librarians have had to become amateur sleuths — because someone keeps hiding books to prevent others from reading them. Most of the books seemed critical of Trump. Other books on LGBTQ issues, human rights, immigration and women’s suffrage have also been hidden.

“I noticed a large volume of Books attacking our President. I am going to continue hiding these books in the most obscure places I can find to keep this propaganda out of the hands of young minds. Your liberal angst gives me great pleasure,” said a comment card said. So much for freedom of speech.

[How about moving those books in a section where the staff can monitor them or maybe placed behind the counter (sounds a bit like porn at a magazine store).]

If the economy is doing so well as Trump says, why has the US household hit an all-time high of $14 trillion – student debt is at close to $10 trillion alone.