Over the last two days, I’ve been trying to take stock of the quick rush of new details about this emerging Trump/Ukraine scandal. It is clear purely on the basis of what is now undisputed in the record that the President and Rudy Giuliani are guilty of a criminal abuse of power and that most or all of the President’s top national security advisors have been complicit in and quite likely participated in that criminal activity.
But before we can really understand this story in any coherent way we need to realize that many of the words and concepts are simply wrong. Indeed they pack the criminal conduct and deception into the very vocabulary we use. That makes it next to impossible to make sense of what’s actually going on.
Let’s start with the “investigation.” The standard description is that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is pressing the government of Ukraine to launch an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. This is a non-sequitur. As I noted last week, what’s being demanded isn’t an investigation. Trump and Giuliani are demanding that Ukraine that manufacture damaging and false information about Joe Biden, either directly or via his son. This is likely directly through manufactured evidence or indirectly simply by standing up a bogus investigation.
Happy Monday, September 23. As the Ukrainian/Biden scandal continues to engulf the Trump administration, he’s taking more hits from both sides of the aisle. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.
New breaking news episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast. Kate Riga and I talk to TPM’s Josh Kovensky about what we’ve learned on the Ukraine/Whistleblower front over the last 48 hours and how it connects up with Josh’s reporting going back months. If you’re interested in understanding this story I strongly recommend it. Listen here.
The lede in this new Journal article pretty much tells the story.
President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.
As part of the Covering Climate Now coalition’s week devoted to climate coverage, we published a few great Cafe pieces that really get at the politics of climate action.
All four that we published are worth a look, but we had two particularly insightful posts from political science researchers.
Over the last 24 hours, in emails and tweets, I’ve heard people say some version of ‘Hey, it’s a twofer. Maybe this new scandal will take out Trump and Joe Biden!’
Let me say that there are lots of reasons for Democrats not to support Joe Biden – ideology, mass incarceration, age, it not being his time, politics, just qualities as a campaigner. But even though these comments are semi-flippant this is a temptation Democrats should resist. This really is no different from claims that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster or Barack Obama was born in Kenya, though obviously there’s a racist component to the latter canard. In terms of being in touch with reality or not, it’s no different. Democrats are prone to being manipulated in this way. They really need to resist the urge, just as Clinton’s opponents should have resisted rightwing and Russian efforts to sow divisions among them in 2016.
President Trump has just gotten his first crack at responding to last night’s news. Asked whether he discussed Joe Biden in his conversation with the President of Ukraine, he replies: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed” and says “someone out to look into Joe Biden.”
We’re going to be focusing on this story throughout the day. We’re actually going to record a special episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast with our lead reporter on the story, Josh Kovensky, which you can download this afternoon. But I wanted to give you a basic overview of what’s transpired over the last 48 hours, what we know and where this might be going.
Happy Friday, September 20. The DNI whistleblower scandal exploded overnight, with revelations that the complaint concerned a promise that President Donald Trump made to the Ukrainian president, followed by a national TV interview during which Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that he’d asked Ukrainian officials to “look into” Joe Biden. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.