This was really a busy week

The House Judiciary committee voted along party lines to approve two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump – 23 Democrats voted in favor while all 17 Republicans on the committee voted against the articles. Not too shocking that every known Trump backer [and those who want to keep their job past 2020] are calling the inquiry a sham.

The articles of impeachment now go to the full House for a final vote next week where it should pass easily – before it goes to the Senate where it is expected to fail as the Republicans control the majority needed. Even then he is still impeached. The Senate vote is to decide whether Trump can be removed from office.

Democrats had debated adding a third article of impeachment on obstruction of justice, which would have captured the allegations against Trump that were detailed in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

As Trump’s lead White House counsel Pat Cipollone met with Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill to discuss those details, all indications pointed toward a short and swift Senate trial that would quickly dispatch the charges against Trump.

The Republicans were complaining throughout that the Democrat lead inquiry [there were 17 Republicans at the inquiry] that it was a sham, not a real inquiry, etc. If the Republicans plan on ramming through to fully acquit Trump with very little in witnesses or any evidence. While this is considered a trial as the Chief Supreme Court justice will act as judge and the 100 member Senate as jury, it surely won’t look like it if the Republicans immediately acquit Trump.

Judiciary Committee shutdown all the Republican amendments to the articles says that they weren’t necessary, were fishing for information against the Bidens, whistleblower, etc., or other reasons. Members voted along party lines.

Republicans proposed two amendments to simply remove the first and second impeachment articles from the resolution. That means no impeachment. Another GOP amendment sought to state that Ukraine did receive aid money from the United States.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz offered the amendment to replace Joe Biden’s name in the impeachment resolution with the “well-known corrupt company, Burisma,” and Hunter Biden, saying that Hunter Biden’s appointment to the Ukrainian energy company “looks dirty as it is.” That would of killed the idea that Trump was going directly at a top contender for his job.

“He has a gun to his head,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said. “The gun is the fact that the President of the United States, upon whom he depends for military aid, for help in many different ways, has shown himself willing to withhold that aid based on what he says, based on what he’s willing to play along with the President for his own personal political goals.”

“The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our nation,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Grisham continued “The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.” No he will most likely be exonerated because the suck-ups and coward Republicans in the Senate want to keep their cushy jobs instead of actually looking at the fact. They made up their mind before the inquiry started.

It is interesting to note the first half of Grisham’s quote above. Either she made a mistake or he intends on defending himself as a witness. If it is the latter he would be forced to tell the truth or face a perjury charge.

Trump tweeted “To Impeach a President who has proven through results, including producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies ever, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness!” The economy has nothing to do with impeachment and how do you measure a successful presidency. Definitely by approval rating.

Trump says he faces “two flimsy, pathetic, ridiculous articles of impeachment.” He then added that “these two things, they’re not even a crime.” He also said “Everyone said this is impeachment-lite. This is the lightest impeachment in the history of our country, by far. It’s not even like an impeachment,” Trump said. Wonder who “everyone” is.

He argued that by not including articles of impeachment on “collusion” or “obstruction of justice,” the Democrats are “admitting” that neither of those occurred. But the Democrats are including obstruction of Congress and they are only going after the articles that they have an excellent chance of winning [like in any court case] in addition not to act high and mighty.

Getting a bit picky or dotting “I”s and crossing “T”s: Nadler introduced an amendment to change references of “Donald J. Trump” to “Donald John Trump” in the articles of impeachment.

McConnell is expected to hold a final vote to acquit Trump, should he be impeached, when a majority of senators believe his trial has run its course instead of holding a vote on dismissing the articles of impeachment.

Trump is now claiming the Democrats are impeaching him because it’s the only way for the Democrats to win the next election. If you think about it, it could also show that he doesn’t think Vice President Mike Pence is a real leader. If Trump is forced to resign prior to the election, Pence takes over as president. There could be a leadership convention to decide if Pence is their candidate in the next election.

Trump seems to want to be impeached. He is claiming his fundraising for his campaign has never been better. Of course this from a man who is a habitual liar.

The Republicans continue to say the impeachment hearings are a shamble, unconstitutional, etc. even when the White House administration were invited to send representatives to the hearing. It also doesn’t help them when the administration has blocked any current staff from testifying. This could be one of the impeachment articles.

Nadler said that he sees the Ukraine evidence as part of “a pattern” of conduct by Trump. Nadler would not commit to including the evidence of obstruction of justice outlined in Robert Mueller’s special counsel report as part of the articles of impeachment. He thinks his party’s case “if presented to a [bipartisan] jury would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.”

“We all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the President is going to be removed from office,” McConnell said. True. But he will still be the third President to be impeached. It will be a stain on his “legacy”.

Republicans are repeatedly highlighting that Schiff was absent from a hearing [even though the hearing is being convened by the House Judiciary Committee and not the intelligence panel]. Does he have to be there?

Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee got into a heated exchange with Nadler after calling for a minority hearing day. Nadler said that he is considering the hearing. The Republicans want this minority hearing to call all these “witnesses” to testify so they can dig up dirt on them.

Rep. Doug Collins sent Nadler a letter requesting eight witnesses, including Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, the anonymous whistleblower and anyone the whistleblower relied on to prepare the complaint alleging Trump solicited election interference from Ukraine. Later, Nadler has denied the GOP’s requests for witnesses.

Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel has rejected House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff’s request to declassify information “concerning the Vice President’s classified call on September 18th, 2019 with President Zelensky of Ukraine” as it “serves no legitimate legislative or impeachment inquiry purpose.”

Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders. I wonder why!

Former Attorney General Eric Holder believes William Barr is “unfit” to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. He went after Barr for “a series of public statements and … actions that are so plainly ideological, so nakedly partisan and so deeply inappropriate” for an attorney general to make. He pointed to a number of recent headline-grabbing remarks by Barr, including his comments this week that the FBI may have acted in “bad faith” when it opened an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe despite the Justice Department’s inspector general report that said the bureau was justified in doing so.

After teen climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg was named Time Person of the Year, Trump tweeted “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg responded by updating her Twitter bio to reflect Trump’s comments: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry and Hong Kong protesters were also on the shortlist for the accolade.

“I knew last year that @TIME Magazine lost all credibility when they didn’t include me in their Top 100…,” Trump tweeted in October 2012. After chose German Prime Minister Angela Merkel in 2015, “I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite.”

In 2017, a year after winning in 2016, “Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!” No. time doesn’t deny the win if they don’t agree to the interview and photos.

Then of course, in 2009, he put up a fake cover. Now that was fake news.

The Supreme Court justices agreed to resolve in spring 2020 if a sitting president should be immune from any criminal proceeding, whether related to conduct before taking office or even — to use Trump’s famed example — shooting someone on Fifth Avenue in New York. The high court also said it would determine the oversight authority of Congress in paired disputes arising from attempts by House Democrats to obtain Trump’s financial documents.

When asked if he had any concerns with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani heading to Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Biden, Collins declined to comment on Giuliani. New excuse from the Republicans is that Giuliani went on his own to Ukraine and that Trump did not know about it. Uh huh.

“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” Trump tweeted. This is his reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The 434-page report rebutted conservatives’ accusations that top FBI officials were driven by political bias to illegally spy on Trump advisers as part of the probe into Russian election interference, but it also found broad and “serious performance failures” requiring major changes. Wray, a Trump appointee, said he had ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations.

“Right now, the only soldiers we have in that area are essentially the soldiers that are keeping the oil,” Trump said of the redefined role of American troops in eastern Syria. “So we have the oil. And we can do with the oil what we want.” So you know what the US is really going after. Trump his sacrificing his soldiers to protect the oil that they want.

What made this performance especially jaw-dropping was his suggestion that America should have pillaged the oil resources of other nations. “We’ve taken the oil. I’ve taken the oil. We should have done it in other locations where we were. I can name four of them right now,” said Trump. But he didn’t name them.

“It is totally consistent with our campaign to defeat to Daesh, to defeat ISIS, and we’re going to hold on to those oil fields as long as necessary to make sure ISIS doesn’t reconstitute,” Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser said. Ya. Sure.

The Republicans have whined that with the impeachment inquiry the government is at a standstill. That is, of course, untrue. Case in point: the Democrats have been working with Mexican authorities to modify the new NAFTA agreement to the point where the updated deal will be passed by the House and Senate just before the government breaks for the winter recess. The updated NAFTA was actually agreed by all 3 countries this week and now needs approvals.

Shows who Trump relies on: Stephen Miller, senior White House policy adviser who holds hard-line views on immigration, promoted stories from white nationalist and fringe media organizations to staffers of the far-right website Breitbart, a trove of leaked 2015 emails revealed. Former Breitbart News reporter, Katie McHugh, confirmed that Miller is a white supremacist, as says she was one.

Trump is paying up $2 million after conceding that he used his charitable foundation at times as a personal piggy bank. This is to pay a court-ordered fine for misusing the Trump Foundation in part to further his business interests and 2016 presidential run. The money will be distributed to eight charities.

The New York Attorney General’s office had sought to block Trump from writing off the fine payment as a charitable donation on his taxes, but the judge in the case hasn’t ruled on that request.

Did you know that at the Trump golf course in suburban Loudoun County, near Washington, Trump’s staff put up a historical marker declaring that there had been a Civil War battle on the site – and that the adjacent Potomac River became a “River of Blood.” Historians say this battle never happened.

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.