Trump goes after Pelosi in early morning tweets complaining about impeachment

President Trump assailed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a series of tweets early Thursday, saying she should “clean up” her “filthy” and “dirty” district and suggesting she should face a primary challenger in 2020.

Trump, who repeated his earlier characterizations of Pelosi as “crazy,” continued his theme of lashing out at Democrats roughly a week after the House voted largely along party lines to pass articles of impeachment accusing him of abusing his office and obstructing Congress.

Trump has taken particular issue with Pelosi over her decision to delay sending the two articles of impeachment to the Senate until the rules for the impeachment trial in the upper chamber are made clear. Pelosi has expressed concerns that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not hold a fair trial.

“The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats said they wanted to RUSH everything through to the Senate because ‘President Trump is a threat to National Security’ (they are vicious, will say anything!), but now they don’t want to go fast anymore, they want to go very slowly. Liars!” Trump, who is on a two-week stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., tweeted early Thursday.

Trump then went after Pelosi and Gavin Newsom, California’s Democratic governor, claiming the two had ignored problems in their state.

“Nancy Pelosi’s District in California has rapidly become one of the worst anywhere in the U.S. when it come to the homeless & crime. It has gotten so bad, so fast — she has lost total control and, along with her equally incompetent governor, Gavin Newsom, it is a very sad sight!” Trump wrote.

“Crazy Nancy should clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there. A primary for N?” the president added in a later tweet.

Pelosi, who has served in Congress for more than three decades, is facing three primary challengers in California’s 12th Congressional District, though all are believed to be long shots for the nomination.

Trump is hungry for a trial in the GOP-controlled Senate, which is widely expected to acquit him of accusations that he abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit his reelection campaign and obstructed the impeachment inquiry into his administration’s dealings with Kyiv.

Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles, however, has left the timing of a Senate trial up in the air. McConnell has said he will not acquiesce to Democrats’ demands that the Senate call witnesses such as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify at the trial.

Trump has lashed out over impeachment several times in recent days, telling reporters Tuesday that he believed Pelosi would be “thrown out” as Speaker of the House over her decision to move forward with impeachment.

“She got thrown out as Speaker once before,” Trump told reporters following a video teleconference with members of the military.

“I think it’s going to happen again. She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country, and she’s not doing a great job. And some people think she doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Trump added.

[The Hill]

Trump sides with Putin on impeachment in late Friday night tweet

President Donald Trump continues to side with Russia on questions of domestic politics.

On Friday, the commander-in-chief tweeted out Russian President Vladimir Putin’s views on impeachment, adding that it is “a total witch hunt.”

Trump has received a great deal of criticism for believing the Russian military intelligence conspiracy theory that it was actually Ukraine that interfered in the 2016.

The scandal is at the heart of the impeachment trial expected to start in January.

[Raw Story]

Bill Taylor, top US diplomat in Ukraine, to depart post ahead of Mike Pompeo’s visit

The veteran U.S. diplomat who was a key witness in impeachment hearings is departing his post in Ukraine, according to two State Department sources.

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv who was recruited by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fill in after President Donald Trump abruptly recalled Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, will depart in early January.

Taylor was wrapped up in the efforts by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker, in conjunction with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy allegedly announce investigations to benefit Trump politically. While that effort unfolded, Taylor pushed back, infamously writing that it was “crazy” to withhold security assistance to Ukraine in exchange for those investigations.

That made Taylor a key witness in the impeachment proceedings in the House, which come to a head Wednesday with a vote on two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Both sources said the departure is because Taylor’s temporary appointment expires on Jan. 8, limited by law under the Vacancies Act. A State Department official said he will leave Jan. 1, while the other source said he will hand over his responsibilities on Jan. 1 and leave on Jan. 2.

Either way, he will be gone just ahead of Pompeo’s first trip to Ukraine in early January, according to the official — and after being attacked by Trump and Giuliani as a “Never Trumper.” Just last month, Giuliani accused Taylor of personally blocking visas for Ukrainians who have “direct evidence of Democrat criminal conspiracy with Ukrainians to prevent Donald J. Trump from being President,” he said in a letter to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

With Taylor gone, Pompeo avoids being seen with him in meetings in Kyiv, potentially angering Trump, whom Pompeo has fiercely defended throughout the impeachment proceedings. But it also leaves a leadership gap at a critical time in Ukraine, where U.S. support has been questioned by Trump’s efforts and amid an ongoing war with Russia in the country’s east.

Taylor, whose departure was first reported by NBC News, previously served as ambassador to Ukraine under George W. Bush and was brought in because of that expertise. But he was appointed and never confirmed by the Senate, and without a nomination for a new ambassador pending, he must depart after 210 days.

The State Department official said Pompeo is going to Kyiv at this time to show the administration’s support for Zelenskiy and for Taylor’s successor. Kristina Kvien, a career Foreign Service officer who arrived in Kyiv in May and has served as Taylor’s deputy, will become the top U.S. diplomat, known as the charge d’affaires.

The Trump administration’s potential nominee for the next ambassador to Ukraine is still in the vetting process, according to the official, who said Kvien could be the top diplomat for some time and it was important for her to be seen as having Pompeo’s backing by accompanying him during his upcoming visit.

But critics say making the visit after Taylor departs undermines Taylor and the embassy and sends the wrong message.

In a scathing letter Tuesday, Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused Pompeo of “unceremoniously recalling” Taylor “in a manner similar to” Yovanovitch, which, he said, “denigrate[s] the role of our frontline diplomats.”

After being asked to stay on for an additional year, Yovanovitch was recalled in May, months before her tenure was scheduled to end and after an effort by Giuliani and Ukraine’s former prosecutor general to trash her name with allegations that the State Department has called unfounded. Specifically, Giuliani told The New Yorker magazine that he “believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way” to get the Ukrainian government to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and the energy company Burisma, as well as the debunked theory of Ukrainian election interference to support Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Despite those false allegations, Pompeo never issued a statement of support for Yovanovitch and, amid similar allegations now by Giuliani against Taylor, has remained quiet on Taylor, too.

“I am extremely concerned that this suspect decision furthers the President’s inappropriate and unacceptable linking of U.S. policy to Ukraine to his personal and political benefit, and potentially your own,” Menendez wrote to Pompeo Wednesday.

In November, after both diplomats testified in the impeachment hearings, Pompeo declined to specifically defend them, saying instead, “I always defend State Department employees. This is the greatest diplomatic corps in the history of the world.”

Menendez and all Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrats have called on Pompeo to recuse himself from matters related to Ukraine and the House investigation — something Pompeo rejected, while declining to turn over any department documents to the three House committees investigating the administration’s actions.

[ABC News]

Trump Screams ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT’ On Twitter the Day After Impeachment

President Donald Trump got on the Twitter machine to rail against “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” and “the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” now that he has been impeached in the House of Representatives.

Here’s what Trump had to say on Thursday morning:

“I got Impeached last might [sic] without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call! The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.” If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!”

Trump’s first two tweets refer to how House Speaker Nancy Pelositold reporters on Wednesday that even though the House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment against the president, she won’t send them to the senate just yet. As Pelosi invoked recent comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, she questioned whether the senate’s impeachment hearing will be fair, and suggested that the transfer of the articles could be delayed until certain assurances and rules for the trial are agreed upon.

“We will make our decision as to when we are going to send it when we see what they are doing on the Senate side,” Pelosi said. “So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us.”

[Mediaite]

Trump implies that the late Rep. John Dingell is ‘looking up’ from hell

President Donald Trump attacked Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell and her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, during a rally on Wednesday, implying the former congressman was “looking up” from hell.

“Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump said of the congresswoman, noting he was watching her on television during impeachment proceedings.

Trump said that he gave the family the “A-plus treatment” after John Dingell died, and that the congresswoman, who now holds his seat in the House, told Trump during an emotional call following John Dingell’s funeral that her husband would have been “thrilled” by the respect shown for him during his funeral and “he’s looking down” on the ceremonies.

“Maybe he’s looking up,” Trump said, drawing some moans and groans from those in Battle Creek, Michigan, about two hours away from Debbie Dingell’s district. “Maybe, but let’s assume he’s looking down.”

Trump’s comment about John Dingell, the longest ever serving congressman, fell mostly flat on a crowd in an important swing state that has long revered the former dean of the House. John Dingell was an iconic figure in Michigan who was admired across party lines, and was one of the most popular political figures in the state during his lifetime.

Michigan was key to Trump’s election in 2016 and appealing to Midwestern voters like those in the Great Lakes State will be important in his quest to hold onto the White House.

Debbie Dingell responded on Twitter to Trump’s attacks on Wednesday, accusing him of sharpening her grief going into the holidays without her husband.”Mr. President, let’s set politics aside,” she tweeted. “My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.

“Dingell’s fellow Michigan representative, Republican Rep. Fred Upton, said late Wednesday night that “there was no need to ‘dis’ him in a crass political way. Most unfortunate and an apology is due.”Appearing on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning, Debbie Dingell again emphasized her desire to not politicize her husband’s death but insisted she wasn’t going to let Trump’s attacks intimidate her.

“I’m going to keep doing my job,” she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “If he thinks he’s going to keep me from doing my job, I’m going to be right back at it when I leave here.

“Asked about Trump’s comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday morning, White House press secretary said she felt sorry for Debbie Dingell’s loss, but when asked to explain Trump’s attack, she replied, “you’d have to talk to the President about that.””He was at a political rally,” Grisham explained. “He has been under attack and under impeachment attack for the last few months then just under attack politically for the last 2 1/2 years. I think as we all know the President is a counterpuncher.

“Trump’s rally insults marked the second time in five days that he has mentioned John Dingell’s funeral while disparaging the congresswoman, who has supported impeachment.

“The last time I spoke to Debbie Dingell was her call thanking me for granting top memorial and funeral service honors for her then just departed husband, long time Congressman John Dingell,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Now I watch her ripping me as part of the Democrats Impeachment Hoax. Really pathetic!”Dingell told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Monday that she was “really hurt” by Trump’s tweet.”It really felt awful, you want to know the truth,” she said, her voice becoming briefly emotional. “I’m already missing him.”She added that she hadn’t wanted her husband’s funeral “to become political.”

“I was very grateful for his call, he really did care about my loss,” Dingell said of Trump. “And so it really hurt. To say to you that that didn’t shake me and didn’t bother me would be a lie.”

[CNN]

Trump suggests Schiff should be punished like ‘in Guatemala’ – laments ‘because of immunity he can’t be prosecuted’

President Donald Trump appeared to suggest House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff should be violently punished, and lamented that because the California Democratic Congressman has “immunity” he won’t be prosecuted.

The irony of the president’s hypocrisy appeared to escape Trump. In the Mueller report alone at least ten possibly criminal acts Trump appears to have committed were outlined, but because of a DOJ policy he cannot be prosecuted.

The president attacked Chairman Schiff for an early impeachment hearing in which the Chairman delivered opening remarks clearly summarizing via parody the effects of Trump’s infamous July 25 call with the president of Ukraine.  Trump and Republicans have latched on to those comments claiming Schiff was lying or somehow falsifying the record, which is untrue.

In his Tuesday remarks to reporters President Trump, meeting with the President of Guatemala, blasted Chairman Schiff.

“When you have a guy like Shifty Schiff go out and make up a statement that I made, he said, this is what he said but I never said it. He totally made it up. In Guatemala they handle things much tougher than that,” he said, referring to Schiff’s remarks.

[The New Civil Rights Movement]

Media

Trump floats taking case to Supreme Court to stop impeachment

President Trump on Monday questioned whether he and his allies could go to the Supreme Court to halt the House impeachment inquiry. 

Trump tweeted shortly after arriving in the United Kingdom for two days of NATO meetings that he had read House Republicans’ draft defense in which his allies insist there was no evidence of wrongdoing in Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.

“Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE,” Trump tweeted. “Read the Transcripts. Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”

The tweet marked the second time that Trump has raised the possibility of appealing his case to the Supreme Court to avert a possible impeachment. There’s no precedent for a president taking his impeachment case to the high court, and legal experts have previously said it’s unlikely the justices would hear such a case.

The president’s comments came as the impeachment proceedings enter a new phase while he is overseas meeting with world leaders and reflected the difficulty Trump will have restraining himself from weighing in on the House hearings while abroad.

Lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee are expected to begin reviewing a draft version of the panel’s report summarizing its findings after private depositions and public hearings with a dozen current and former administration officials.

The committee will then vote Tuesday on whether to adopt the report, which would be sent to the Judiciary Committee thereafter.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry, titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.” The panel will hear from legal scholars as Democrats weigh whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles aimed at removing the president from office. 

The White House said it will not participate in the hearing, though it did not rule out taking part in future hearings.

House Democrats are examining whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that could benefit him politically, including by conditioning a White House meeting or aid for Ukraine to those investigations.

But House Republicans argue in their draft defense that the president’s actions were not politically motivated and that the evidence does not support Democrats’ assertions.

The president’s GOP allies at no point over the course of the 123-page document concede any wrongdoing by Trump, instead insisting that with proper context the administration’s actions were “entirely prudent.”

Trump himself has maintained that his much-scrutinized July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect.” On the call, Trump asks Zelensky to look into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about 2016 election interference.

Trump in April first tweeted that he would take Democrats to the Supreme Court if they tried to impeach him. That assertion came on the heels of former special counsel Robert Mueller releasing his full report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But legal experts cast doubt on the chances of the Supreme Court taking up such a case. They noted that the Constitution grants impeachment powers to the House and that Chief Justice John Roberts would be expected to preside over a Senate trial.

[The Hill]

Trump wastes no time distorting Zelensky statement

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an unmistakable rebuke to President Trump in an interview published Monday by Time and three European news outlets. Then Trump, as is his wont, declared himself totally exonerated.

According to the partial transcript posted by Time, Zelensky mostly discussed the war with Russian-backed rebels along Ukraine’s eastern border. When he got onto the topic of the United States’ role, he started by saying he didn’t want Ukraine to be a pawn in a great-powers game of chess. But then he got into how Trump and other U.S. officials had been publicly labeling Ukraine a “corrupt country” and the difficulties that this causes with global investors and businesses.

”This is a hard signal,” Zelensky said. “For me it’s very important for the United States, with all they can do for us, for them really to understand that we are a different country, that we are different people. It’s not that those things don’t exist. They do. All branches of government were corrupted over many years, and we are working to clean that up. But that signal from them is very important.”

In other words, the chaff thrown up by Trump and his allies in defense of his attempt to persuade Zelensky to announce two investigations that could help Trump’s reelection bid — “Ukraine is corrupt, and Trump was just trying to protect taxpayers’ money” — is at least as harmful to Ukraine’s new housecleaning government as it is helpful to Trump.

But that comment wasn’t the one that got Trump’s attention. It was one at the end of the interview, when Zelensky was asked the $300-million question: “When did you first sense that there was a connection between Trump’s decision to block military aid to Ukraine this summer and the two investigations that Trump and his allies were asking for? Can you clarify this issue of the quid pro quo?”

There’s a great deal of confusion over this precise point. The White House froze nearly $300 million in security aid to Ukraine about two weeks before Trump spoke with Zelensky and asked for “a favor” in the form of those two investigations. But the hold on the aid didn’t become public until Politico broke the news in late August.

Here’s Zelensky’s response, according to Time’s transcript: “Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing.… I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”

There are a million different ways to parse that, but the meaning seems clear: Zelensky really, really, really wants to get out of the middle of this controversy. Yet it’s also clear that he’s not forgiving Trump for delaying the aid approved by Congress, more than 10% of which is apparently still on hold.

Trump, though, offered a completely different read:

Nothing wrong? How about “If you’re our strategic partner, you can’t go blocking anything for us”? How about Zelensky imploring Trump to stop driving capital away from Kyiv?

But that’s how Trump operates, counting on people not to take the extra step and read the Zelensky interview for themselves.

It’s kind of like Trump’s fallback line, “Read the transcript.” If people actually read the reconstructed transcript that the White House released, they would see Trump telling Zelensky how dependent Ukraine is on the United States, then find him asking Zelensky to conduct two investigations that are clearly beneficial to Trump politically — including one specifically into the Democrat who’s leading the race to oppose Trump in 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Granted, some folks may not be troubled by a president using the power of his office to try to persuade a foreign government to help him win reelection. But even they would have to concede it’s something less than “perfect.”

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump repeats Ukraine conspiracy theory and more debunked lies on 53-minute “Fox & Friends” call

President Trump spent 53 minutes of his Friday morning on the phone with the hosts of “Fox & Friends” — his latest call-in to one of his favorite TV shows.

Driving the news: President Trump spent a chunk of the interview repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “That’s what the word is,” he claimed without evidence.

  • The debunked conspiracy theory — frequently referred to as CrowdStrike, the security firm at its center — is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, said during his impeachment hearing that the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is “a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
  • Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, said during her impeachment hearing that the conspiracy theory is “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Worth noting: Trump also said that Crowdstrike is owned by “a very wealthy Ukrainian,” but it’s actually a publicly-traded company. Its largest outside shareholder is Warburg Pincus, a New York City private equity firm from which Trump plucked one of his top economic advisors.

Impeachment-related highlights:

  • The president once again slammed former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, claiming she was “not an angel.” During her impeachment testimony , she agreed that it was Trump’s prerogative to fire ambassadors at will, but asked, “What I do wonder is why was it necessary to smear my reputation also?”
  • Trump said that during a Senate impeachment trial he only wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify more than Hunter Biden.
  • Trump said that he knows “exactly” who the Ukraine whistleblower is — and insinuated that the “Fox & Friends” hosts did as well — prompting them to attempt to steer the conversation away from the topic live on air.

Other highlights:

  • Trump predicted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t pass the USMCA trade deal, despite it being a priority for some Democratic lawmakers ahead of 2020.
  • He tried to find a middle ground between supporting pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and not offending Chinese President Xi Jinping as the U.S. attempts to close a “phase one” trade deal with China. “We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” he said.
  • Trump denied rumors surrounding his health after a surprise visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center last weekend, calling it “fake, disgusting news.”

2020 lightning round:

  • Joe Biden: “I don’t know if Joe can make it mentally. He’s off.”
  • Pete Buttigieg: “I don’t see him dealing with President Xi. I don’t see him dealing with Kim Jong-un. But maybe he is.”
  • Elizabeth Warren: “I think Pocahontas has come up from the embers.”
  • Michael Bloomberg: “I think his time has come and gone.

[Axios]

Reality

There was multiple fact checks some could only refer to this call as “bananas.”

Media

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY Trump says he will ‘strongly consider’ testifying in House impeachment probe

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is “strongly” considering testifying before the impeachment probe in light of recent comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said he is more than welcome to present his case personally before the House Intelligence Committee.

“Our Crazy, Do Nothing (where’s USMCA, infrastructure, lower drug pricing & much more?) Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, who is petrified by her Radical Left knowing she will soon be gone (they & Fake News Media are her BOSS), suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt,” Trump tweeted. “She also said I could do it 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!”

Speaking with CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an interview that aired Sunday, Pelosi said Trump can “come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants, if he wants to take the oath of office, or he could do it in writing.”

“He has every opportunity to present his case,” she said, adding that if Trump “has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it.”

But Pelosi, calling Trump’s efforts at having Ukraine investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election, said the president’s conduct “was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did.”

“At some point, Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognize that this could not continue,” she said.

Public calls for the president to testify before the committee have ramped up recently. After an extended rant during Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in which the Trump ally said investigators need to have “the person who started” the probe, meaning the first whistleblower, come testify, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., retorted, “I’d like to see the person who started it come testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

Speaking with Fox News on Monday, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., one of Trump’s top allies in battling impeachment, said his advice to the president on testifying before impeachment investigators would be “heck no.”

Earlier this month, Trump decried the idea of the whistleblower providing written answers to Congress, saying they would be “not acceptable.” Trump refused to supply former special counsel Robert Mueller with live testimony, instead opting to provide written answers to a series of questions related to Russian electoral interference. In his more than 400-page report, Mueller said those written answers were “inadequate.”

[NBC News]

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