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.

Even on vacation, he causes trouble

Well a new year and a new decade brings more of the politics of Donald Trump. Even while “vacationing” in Florida [of course golfing!] he couldn’t help in causing more problems.

Trump retweeted an attack that included an unsubstantiated name of the intelligence community whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine scandal as part of a series of rants and conspiratorial posts recently. Trump or someone with access to his Twitter account removed the retweet. Publicly naming a whistleblower is illegal. Of course Trump may think he’s above the law.

Nearly every public official involved in the impeachment inquiry agreed that the identity of the original complainant should be protected. Some far-right media outlets and personalities have published stories claiming to know the name of the whistleblower but legitimate new media organizations have refused to name the individual.

An official from the Office of Management and Budget made it clear that the order to keep the freeze in place came directly from Trump, according to unredacted documents reviewed. It is from the documents that were released under court order last month but were either partially or completely blacked out.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, continues to stun people on both sides. He wants to testify as a witness and to help defend Trump. Of course you can’t be both. If he is thinking of being on Trump’s defense team, he probably hasn’t been a lawyer in a courtroom in 40 years.

Trump tweeted “So sad to see that New York City and State are falling apart…. Governor Cuomo has lost control, and lost his mind.” Yes. This coming from the President of the United States. Isn’t that bullying? And something his wife is trying to get teenagers not to do in school?

Joe Biden says he will refuse any subpoena from the Senate because he has no knowledge of any personal knowledge of Trump and his infamous phone call. Clearly the Republicans would ask him questions that would have nothing to do with the trial but instead to try and dig up some “dirt” against him [possibly ruining his Democratic nomination] or his son.

Trump had the military assassinate an Iranian military leader, Qasem Soleimani, and are celebrating. Meanwhile, the deputy leader took over. You think this changed anything? Just briefly slowed down any further attacks. Probably a way to get impeachment and trial off the front page [briefly]. Democrat leadership was not notified but I’m sure just about everyone in the Republican party knew.

Note that prior to Trump entering office, Iran had limited access to Iraq. About three years later, militant Iranian leader assisting the Iraqi military? The assassinated militant even had his Iraqi assistant die in the same strike. Initially the US claimed it was a drone attack while Iran says it was a helicopter attack.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo [and Trump later] said the airstrikes disrupted an “imminent attack” in the region that put American lives at risk. There is no way to verify this claim, of course.

White House lawyers — in consultation with national security officials — put together a “strong rationale” claiming that the strike against Soleimani would not lead to war and that Trump, as commander in chief, had the authority to not ask for congressional authorization over a matter of self-defense. Of course the White House lawyers have been wrong before – more than once.

At a right wing evangelist conference for the King Jesus Ministry in Miami, Trump insisted that his administration is a “peaceloving” [sic] one. “Peace loving” nations don’t generally assassinate a top official of another country [in a third country].

Interesting development. The leader was subject to a 5 year travel ban by the United Nations. If he would of complied with the ban, he probably would still be alive today. Could the Trump administration use that as an excuse [he left Iran so he was fair game]?

The US and other governments really need to look at the Iraqi government and exactly what side they are on. First letting in Iranian backed militants to enter the supposedly fortified embassy area and now Iran advising Iraq on military issues?

[While I am not against the assassination, will it actually change anything? He has already been replaced. Will tension in the area escalate? I’m sure. Were allies (Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc.) notified? I doubt it. Those US allies could feel the brunt of possible reprisals.]

From the White House Twitter feed: “At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani…” So an admission – which could be used for legal reasons.

The Selective Service website crashed hours after the announcement that Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike ordered by Trump. The hashtag #WorldWarIII was one of the top trends on Twitter the day after the assassination.

Trump had already condemned Iran for “orchestrating” the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad. He urged the Iraqi government to protect the embassy from further intrusion and attack. He also said Iran “will be held fully responsible” for the attack from Shiite militia forces.

“This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi should never have happened. This will never, ever be a Benghazi,” he said, without explaining how protesters were able to breach layers of embassy security in Baghdad to begin with. The embassy at Benghazi was stormed during a President Obama term. The State Department has said that while the protesters forced their way into the embassy compound, there had been no “breach” of the facility itself.

Not even hours before his New Year’s Eve party, he sent a series of tweets and retweets going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and French President Emmanuel Macron. He’s got nothing else to do.

Trump was seen playing golf but abruptly stopped and then said “I did NOT! [play golf]” he insisted, “I had meeting in various locations, while closely monitoring the U.S. Embassy situation in Iraq, which I am still doing.”

Trump cronies are spinning the facts saying how fast the Trump administration got the Shiite militia forces to leave the embassy area but failed to acknowledge how easy it was for them to get so close to the embassy. The embassy area [and not just the US embassy] are supposed to be in a heavy secure area in Baghdad but the militants got through too many checkpoints.

Later Trump was tweeted say that it was a “victory” for the US. Results were better than Benghazi. What exactly did the US do aside from throw some gas grenades? Can’t call it a victory when the militants got to the gates of the embassy. What happened to the security?

North Korean dictator/crazy-man Kim Jong Un is reversing all the potential deals with the US to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. On top of that Un announced on New Year’s Day that his regime will soon unveil a new strategic weapon.

Trump said Un had signed a “contract” and believed Un would abide by the “contract”. That isn’t happening. Trump doesn’t need another “deal” to fall apart especially getting so close to an election. However, like everything else he will say as part of his term that he arranged a deal with Un and not that it fell apart. Will voters remember or care?

Trump tweeted “California and New York must do something about their TREMENDOUS Homeless problems. They are setting records!” Well, when you get increased homeless, the economy is at least partially to blame. But Trump’s indicator is the stock market with more “records” set.

These are also two heavily Democratic voting states with two heavy political foes [Governor Cuomo in New York and House Speaker Pelosi in California]. Coincidence?

Trump signed a bill that increases fines on criminal robocall violations and cracks down on companies making the calls, as part of a federal push against telephone scammers. This had bipartisan support. So much for Trump saying nothing has been done because of the impeachment inquiry.

45 judges left the immigration courts in 2019. Some retired or passed away. Other went onto to other jobs. In comparison 24 left in 2018 and 21 left in 2017. The reasons why individual judges have moved on from their posts on the bench vary, but in interviews with judges who left in recent months, one theme ties them all together: frustration over a mounting number of policy changes that, they argue, chipped away at their authority.

Trump also re-tweeted about “illegal alien” Juan Sanchez, who was supposedly deported six times, was arrested after killing a mother-of-six in Denver, Colorado. That means the border guards and legal system aren’t doing their jobs. You think a wall would of stopped him? No.

Obama lists his favorite 2019 books. Maybe Trump will list his favorite comic books. Actually while Obama’s books included fiction, non-fiction and sports with none related to politics, Trump’s list are all pro-Trump books including from his son. Whether or not he actually read them is a different story.

Obama also list his favorite movies [a few well known] and 3 TV shows. Is there any pro-Trump movies or TV shows? Maybe he’ll invent some.

The Trump New Year’s Eve at the Mar-A-Lago party has nearly doubled its ticket prices for guests of Mar-A-Lago members. In 2016, just weeks after Trump was elected, guests could get in for $575. Now it is at $1000. After last year when Trump decided to stay in Washington during a government shutdown, you would of figured he’d give a discount to those who attended last year.

Trump’s 4 adult children and significant others [and in some cases children] appeared with only Eric Trump going a bit political. Others tried to avoid reporters.

According to the UK betting site paddypower.com:

  • 1/12 chances of completing his term and 7/1 chance he doesn’t
  • 1/50 chance that he won’t be convicted by the senate and 12/1 chance he does
  • 2/1 chance that Area 51 will be opened to the public during his first term in office
  • 200/1 chance Melania to run for President against Trump in 2020
  • 12/1 chance Mexico to directly fund construction of a border-wall with the US [Mexico must state this – not what Trump says]
  • 7/1 chance a US navy ship will be named after him
  • 12/1 chance a US military base will be named after him
  • 50/1 chance to surgically enhance his penis
  • 500/1 chance to surgically enhance his hands
  • 7/1 chance Trump to withdraw the US from the UN
  • 3/1 chance Trump will ban abortions in his first term
  • 6/1 chance Trump will ban gay marriages in his first term
  • 9/1 chance Trump will ban burkas or hijabs in his first term
  • 500/1 chance Trump will ban stairs [!!!] in his first term

The a web site that keeps track of how many times Trump has golfed since becoming president – 230 times – or roughly one out of every 4 days in his term.