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Minor footnote in the Gordon Sondland saga. His lawyer is none other than Robert Luskin! “Gold Bars” Luskin, as longtime TPM Readers will remember him. We first met him as Karl Rove’s lawyer back in the 2005 era. But really endeared himself to us because of the time he accepted payment in gold bars from his clients who were convicted of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars from Colombian drug kingpins, as one does. In his favor, Luskin has a sense of humor. When Legal Times asked him in 1999 why he was shuttering his boutique law firm he replied: “To paraphrase Hobbes: The life of a boutique is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Good one!
An hour ahead of testimony, the State Department orders Ambassador Sondland not to show up to testify and he complies. Subpoenas, fines, more articles of impeachment and jail are the only answers here.
We can’t necessarily say support is growing over the last two weeks since it’s the first survey from this poll since the Ukraine story broke. But this poll from the Post shows a substantial majority of the public supporting House Democrats’ decision to open an impeachment inquiry against the President. 58% support the decision, 38% oppose.
Jerry Falwell Jr has settled the lawsuit tied to the “pool boy”/Miami dive hostel story. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the terms of the settlement are not being disclosed. To remind everyone, the suit was brought by yet another guy, Gordon Bello, a high friend of Giancarlo Granda, the pool boy. He claimed that he’d been promised 25% of the hostel business.
One additional complexity: Bello originally sued under the name Jesus Fernandez, Jr., which was his name. Be and his father changed their names to Gordon and Jett Bello during the litigation allegedly because of threats against them tied to the lawsuit.
At the risk of appearing foolhardy several months hence, I want to say that in the last week, it has become very likely that Elizabeth Warren will win the Democratic nomination. A two-tier race, with Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders in the top tier, has become a race largely of Warren against herself.
We’ve got a great op-ed from Allan Lichtman today — a history professor perhaps best known for predicting Trump’s election.
Lichtman takes a look at Mike Pence’s track record as vice president and argues that if President Trump is impeached, Pence should be ousted along with him.
It’s worth a read — check it out here.
This afternoon we learned that Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the EU and GOP megadonor, will appear for a closed door deposition before House committees on Tuesday, October 8th. According to CBS News it will be the “same format” as Ukraine Envoy Kurt Volker’s testimony yesterday. (I take this to mean that he will appear without a government lawyer.) This seems to me to be a development of great importance.
There was of course a lot of craziness, lies and invective in President Trump’s appearance on the White House lawn a few moments ago. But remember what I’ve been saying. The centerpiece of what Trump, Giuliani and Barr are after is trying to push the conspiracy theory that he and Russia were set up. That the real collusion was with Ukraine and other allied countries plotting to frame him during the 2016 election. And here he is, during this press availability, going on a rant about the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy plotting against him during the 2016 election.
So, you’re a devoted TPM reader, but maybe you let your membership lapse. I’ve been there myself. But I want to tell you why I decided to come back.
I started my journalism career at TPM back in 2010, just as the tea party-tinged midterm elections were heating up. Carly Fiorina featured “demon sheep” in a campaign ad. Christine O’Donnell tried to salvage her Senate campaign by assuring voters, “I’m not a witch. I’m you.”
Ahh, simpler times.
It’s hard to keep track of the gross abuse of power. But here’s the critical thing to keep an eye on through this. We know about election interference of targeting the Biden’s. What was even clearer in those texts is demand that Ukraine “get to the bottom of” collusion between the DNC and Ukraine in the 2016 election. That is code for the conspiracy theory that Russia was framed for the DNC hack and actually didn’t interfere in the 2016 election at all. The “real collusion” was between Ukraine and the Democrats. The big aim here – right in front of our faces, right in the texts and transcripts – is to clear Russia of the crime.
Chairs Schiff, Engel and Cummings did a major document dump tonight based on texts exchanged between various Trump Department officials, Rudy Giuliani and a top advisor to President Zelensky. The upshot is documentation of months of efforts by the Trump officials to get Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of the Bidens and 2016 election collusion between Ukraine and the DNC in exchange for a White House meeting with President Trump and military aide to ward off Russian-backed separatists in the east.
What is important to note here is that the Ukraine-DNC collusion conspiracy theory, in addition to being crazy in itself, is in fact an exoneration of Russia. The idea is that Russia didn’t really interfere in the election. They were framed by Ukraine and the DNC. We’ve heard lots of talk about these ‘investigations’. But what seems more clear here is that the big “deliverable”, as Trump megadonor Gordon Sondland puts it in one text, is a public statement from Zelensky announcing these investigations. That in itself validates the key Trump/Giuliani conspiracy theories for domestic consumption in the United States and quite likely is the predicate for Bill Barr for announcing his own probes into the same.
It’s late. So I went through the document dump and tweeted out the key passages. I’ve assembled them together here.
Some points are so obvious they escape attention or so obvious as not to seem worth noting. Yet they are worth noting. Can anyone think of a country, out of the globe’s almost 200 sovereign states, where President Trump has called for a crackdown on corruption other than Ukraine?
I genuinely do not think there is a single example. There’s Baltimore and Puerto Rico but of course those are not countries.
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