W

October 12, 2019

Week 152

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

In addition to the number of not normal items surging since the start of the impeachment inquiry, Trump’s Twitter activity has proliferated — in one 25 minute span on Friday alone, he sent 33 tweets! In past weekly lists, we have covered that the potency of his tweets have had decreased, both in impact and visibility, as his time in office wears on. Also, notably, the media coverage of Trump’s frenzied tweeting has dropped off, making it harder each week to find sources that put what amounts to official pronouncements from the leader of our country into some context (and for me to link to for historical purposes).

In the past two weeks, there has been a striking shift in the country’s sentiment towards impeachment — approval of not only an inquiry, but also removing Trump, has shifted in favor. Thus far, breaking news coming from our media has done most of the fact finding and informing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is keeping the focus of the inquiry narrow, but with reporting gushing out the scope of the July 25 Trump-Ukraine call has broadened in several different subplots which are commensurately unfolding.

This week Trump abruptly pulled U.S. troops from Syria, enabling possible genocide by Turkey against the Kurds who fought alongside us, and allowing ISIS fighters to escape and regroup. It’s a calamity of our times — and yet few voices in the Republican Party, let alone the decorated military officials who served in the Trump regime, are willing to speak out. If anyone had doubts of how close we are to becoming an authoritarian state, this week’s list will remind you.

  1. On Saturday, Politico reported U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the White House to preserve records of all of Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders, including his interactions with Ukraine.
  2. On Saturday, Trump called for Sen. Mitt Romney’s impeachment, tweeting, without evidence, Utahns consider their vote for him “a big mistake,” and calling him “a fool” who plays into the hands of Democrats.
  3. Trump also tweeted, “So Crooked Hillary Clinton can delete and acid wash 33,000 emails AFTER getting a Subpoena,” adding, “but I can’t make one totally appropriate telephone call,” calling it a “Witch Hunt!”
  4. Trump also tweeted, “the first so-called second hand information “Whistleblower” got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench.” This claim is false.
  5. Trump also tweeted that the other ““Whistleblower” is coming in from the Deep State,” falsely claiming, “also with second hand info,” adding, “Meet with Shifty. Keep them coming!”
  6. On Saturday, Axios reported on a conference call with House Republicans on Friday, Trump said he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 at the urging of Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
  7. Trump claimed he did not want to make the call, signaling a new shift in strategy to distance himself. According to texts revealed in Week 151, Rudy Giuliani was the person pushing Trump to call. Perry is not mentioned.
  8. On Monday, AP reported businessmen and GOP donors used ties to Trump and Giuliani to install new board members at Ukraine’s massive state gas company Naftogaz under former president Petro Poroshenko.
  9. When Zelensky took office, Sec. Perry met with him and advanced a board slate for Naftogaz that included a past GOP donor from Texas. It is unclear if Perry’s efforts were coordinated with those of Giuliani’s allies.
  10. On Saturday, USA Today reported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is fundraising off impeachment in a new campaign ad on Facebook, saying “the way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority.”
  11. On Sunday, in an op-ed, Joe Biden said of Trump’s time in office, “It all comes down to the abuse of power. That is the defining characteristic of the Trump presidency,” adding, “You won’t destroy me” or my family.
  12. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked Joe Biden, saying, “It is INCREDIBLE to watch and read the Fake News and how they pull out all stops to protect Sleepy Joe Biden” and his “thrown out of the Military son.”
  13. Trump tweeted Hunter Biden “was handed $100,000 a month (Plus,Plus) from a Ukrainian based company, even though he had no experience in energy” and got “1.5 Billion Dollars from China despite no experience.”
  14. Trump added, “The Biden family was PAID OFF, pure and simple!” calling on the “fake news” to “stop making excuses for something that is totally inexcusable.” All of Trump’s statements in the tweets are false.
  15. On Sunday, Trump accused the House Speaker of treason, tweeting, “Pelosi knew of all of the many Shifty Adam Schiff lies and massive frauds” and “illegal meetings with a highly partisan “Whistleblower” & lawyer.”
  16. Trump added, “This makes Nervous Nancy every bit as guilty as Liddle’ Adam Schiff for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and even Treason,” adding they must “be immediately Impeached!
  17. On Sunday, NBC News reported a second whistleblower has come forward, who, according to the attorney for the first whistleblower, “has first-hand knowledge” of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president.
  18. The second whistleblower did not plan to file a separate complaint, and is entitled to legal protections for cooperating with the inspector general. On Sunday shows, Republicans brushed off the second whistleblower.
  19. On Sunday, Columbia Journalism Review reported the White House refused to send a representative on the Sunday talk shows. Host on major Sundays shows pushed back on Trump allies and their talking points.
  20. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” if the whistleblower allegations “are turned into an impeachment article,” he “will make sure” the whistleblower faces public questioning.
  21. On Sunday, in a contentious interview with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, Sen. Ron Johnson said he does not trust the CIA or FBI, and parroted Trump citing Ukraine helped Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
  22. ABC host George Stephanopoulos said to Rep. Jim Jordan on Trump’s asking of China, “You’re telling us not to believe what we’ve seen with our own eyes,” and “you still can’t say whether you think it’s right or wrong.”
  23. On Monday, House Democrats took the extraordinary steps to protect the whistleblower of considering testimony at a remote location and obscuring their appearance and voice, after repeated threats by Trump.
  24. Democrats are concerned that without precautions, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee could leak the identity. The whistleblower’s attorney is also in talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  25. On Monday, Vanity Fair reported although Sen. Romney will not primary Trump in 2020, his aides say he is casting himself as “the lone voice of conscience,” to sway other Republicans as impeachment unfolds.
  26. On Sunday, WSJ reported Attorney General William Barr is sparking discord with long-time allies Italy, Australia, and the U.K. by working outside the usual channels in his investigation of the investigators.
  27. On Barr, Sen. Graham said, “He is simply doing his job,” while ranking Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner warned, “This could put the Five Eyes relationship in jeopardy.”
  28. On Sunday, the Sunday Times reported British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in an unprecedented move, will challenge Queen Elizabeth II to fire him rather resign, in an attempt to drive through Brexit on October 31.
  29. Late Sunday, after speaking to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump for a second time in a year upended U.S. strategy in Syria, abruptly announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops, abandoning Kurdish allies.
  30. Former defense secretary James Mattis resigned after Trump first threatened to pull out troops in December 2018 after his call with Erdogan. Mattis however did not speak out publicly this week.
  31. Some senior Pentagon officials were blindsided by Trump’s decision. In a White House statement Sunday and in Trump’s tweets Monday, Trump cited the U.S. shouldering too much of the cost of fighting ISIS.
  32. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” and, “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.”
  33. On Monday, AP reported State Department and Pentagon officials held out hopes of persuading Turkey to abandon its expected invasion. Kurds had fought alongside U.S. forces for years in taking on ISIS.
  34. Sen. Graham called it “a major blunder,” and “an impulsive decision.” Leader McConnell warned “a precipitous withdrawal” would benefit Russia, Iran, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and help ISIS regroup.
  35. Brett McGurk, the former U.S. envoy for the global coalition against ISIS who resigned with Mattis, tweeted Trump “is not a Commander-in-Chief,” and, “He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation.”
  36. Later Monday, Trump tweeted, “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey.” It was unclear what Trump meant.
  37. When asked about Turkey attacking the Kurds, Trump told reporters “I have told Turkey that if they do anything outside of what we would think is humane..they could suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy.”
  38. Later, responding to widespread Republican and evangelical Christian leaders’ criticism, Trump defended himself, saying he had “consulted with everybody,” and adding, “I could name other people who are thrilled.”
  39. On Monday, former secretary of state Republican Colin Powell said, “The Republican Party has got to get a grip on itself” as GOP lawmakers flocked to defend Trump, adding, our foreign policy is “in shambles right now.”
  40. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people,” adding, “Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good.”
  41. Trump added, “any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency.” On Tuesday night, Turkish forces were seen moving into the area.
  42. On Tuesday, Trump also tweeted, “Turkey is an important member in good standing of NATO,” adding Erdogan “is coming to the U.S. as my guest on November 13th. #ENDENDLESSWARS”
  43. On Tuesday, Sen. Graham threatened Turkey on Twitter with “sanctions from hell” if they move into Syria. Graham said he could gather a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
  44. On Wednesday, Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. troops pulled back. Erdogan announced the start of the campaign in a tweet.
  45. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East,” adding, “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”
  46. Trump also tweeted, “GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE … IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!” and “BIG PICTURE! THE USA IS GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!”
  47. On Wednesday, Sen. Graham tweeted, “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” adding, “I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time.”
  48. Rep. Liz Cheney, also a reliable Trump ally prior, tweeted, “Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria is having sickening and predictable consequences,” adding lawmakers “must and will act.”
  49. On Wednesday, Gulnur Aybet, Erdogan’s senior policy adviser, told CNN Trump and Erdogan “reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is,” adding Trump “knows what the scope of this operation is.”
  50. On Wednesday, NBC News reported intelligence officials warn the 12,000 ISIS fighters being guarded by Kurds, the world’s largest concentration of terrorists, could escape, regroup, and attack America and Europe.
  51. Later Wednesday, Trump defended his decision to abandon the Kurds, telling reporters, “They didn’t help us in the Second World War; they didn’t help us with Normandy.” This statement is factually incorrect and nonsensical.
  52. Trump also said the Kurds battled alongside U.S. forces for “their land,” adding, “With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” and said it will not be hard for the U.S. to form new partnerships: “Alliances are very easy.”
  53. Asked about ISIS fighters escaping prisons, Trump said “they are going to be escaping to Europe…they want to go back to their homes,” adding, Turkey and the Kurds have “hated each other for many, many years.”
  54. On Friday, BBC reported at least 11 Kurdish civilians along with dozens of fighters were killed as Turkey moved into northern Syria. Tens of thousands of civilians fled their homes.
  55. On Friday, Sen. Graham pleaded with Trump to “change course while you still can,” adding, “the reemergence of ISIS is on the way,” and the “ability to recruit partners to fight radical Islam…has been virtually destroyed.”
  56. On Friday, AP reported as Turkey captured more Kurdish-held villages in the border region, aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis, with nearly a half-million people at risk near the border.
  57. Kurdish forces guarding prisons holding more than 10,000 Islamic State members were forced to abandon their posts. Putin said he doubts the Turkish army has resources to control the prison camps, and warned of mobilizing.
  58. On Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed the Pentagon planned to send an additional 2,000 troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia, “to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia.”
  59. On Friday, Trump told reporters, “Saudi Arabia at my request has agreed to pay us for everything we are doing. That is a first,” and, “we appreciate that,” adding, “Saudi Arabia, and other countries soon now.”
  60. On Friday, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel drafted a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to pull troops. The four-page resolution does not rebuke Trump by name.
  61. On Friday, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kobani, Syria came under fire from a Turkish incursion. Earlier an official told NPR troops were departing, as strikes were “too close for comfort.”
  62. On Saturday, AFP reported Turkey stepped up its assault in Syria, defying threats of sanctions from Europe and the U.S. The United Nations said the operation has already displaced 100,000 people.
  63. On Saturday, CNN reported the commander of the Kurdish-led forces told the Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, William Roebuck, on Thursday, “You are leaving us to be slaughtered.”
  64. On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco warned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos she could send her to jail for ignoring a court order by continuing to collect debt payments from Corinthian Colleges students.
  65. On Tuesday, Leader McConnell’s re-election campaign touted a Politico report showing his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s record of granting meetings to Kentuckians, calling McConnell a “Kentucky Asset.”
  66. The Trump regime’s Bureau of Land Management announced it would make 725,000 acres of land in California’s central coast open to oil and gas lease sales, paving the way for more fracking after a five-year moratorium.
  67. On Wednesday, the Hill reported the Trump regime eliminated a decade-old, Obama-era advisory board that advised on smart grid innovation, as part of a Trump executive order to cut federal advisory boards by a third.
  68. On Friday, Sen. Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, criticized Vice President Mike Pence for not sharing requested information on his recent stay at Trump’s Doonbeg resort.
  69. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s company canceled an event for anti-Muslim group ACT for America scheduled for November 7 at Mar-a-Lago. ACT of America said Trump’s company had “caved to the Left’s bullying tactics.”
  70. On Wednesday, Esquire reported a forthcoming book on Trump called “All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator,” includes 43 new accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump.
  71. One of the 43, Karen Johnson, told the authors Trump grabbed her vagina without her consent and forcibly kissed her at Mar-a-Lago resort in the early 2000s. She said she was afraid to come forward because of who he was.
  72. On Wednesday, a neo-Nazi killed two people on Yom Kippur, after unsuccessfully trying to force his way inside a synagogue in Halle, Germany, while broadcasting his rampage on Twitch.
  73. The WAPO Editorial Board warned of the connection to mass murders at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, mosques in New Zealand, and a Walmart in El Paso, and called for resources and attention to “the enemy within.”
  74. On Tuesday, NYT reported Western security officials have concluded an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system, known as Unit 29155, has led a campaign to destabilize Europe over at least the past decade.
  75. The unit underscores Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to use hybrid warfare including propaganda, hacking attacks, and disinformation — as well as military confrontation — in fighting the West.
  76. On Tuesday, the second report from the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee found Russians actively worked in 2016 to damage Hillary Clinton and bolster Trump, and that interference is likely again in 2020.
  77. The 85-page report, capping 2 1/2 years of work, urged lawmakers to take sweeping efforts to protect the 2020 election, including regulations that would require the disclosure of ad buyers on social media.
  78. The report found extensive Russian manipulation of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Google, and other platforms. The goal was to divide Americans, suppress the African American vote, and help elect Trump.
  79. The report found “a vastly more complex and strategic assault on the United States than was initially understood,” citing in 2016 a “broader, sophisticated and ongoing information warfare campaign.”
  80. On Monday, CNBC reported Zelensky aides dined with former Trump officials, including Sean Spicer and former State Department and HHS officials, at the Trump Hotel DC, on April 16 to establish contacts.
  81. On Monday, the three Democrat House committee chairs subpoenaed the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget demanding documents pertaining to the delay in military funds to Ukraine.
  82. The committees gave until October 15, and warned failure to comply “shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you” and Trump.
  83. On Monday, former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker stepped down as the head of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, amid fallout of his role in Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.
  84. On Monday, NBC News reported a dozen House Democrats called on Gordon Sondland to resign as U.S. ambassador to the E.U. ahead of his Congressional testimony on Tuesday, citing his Trump-Ukraine texts.
  85. On Tuesday, the White House blocked Sondland from testifying. Sondland had flown to Washington from Europe, and House committee members had returned from a two-week recess to hear his testimony.
  86. Sondland’s lawyers told House staff members that a State Department official left Sondland a voicemail at 12:30 a.m. the night before directing him not to appear before Congress.
  87. Trump tweeted, “I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify,” adding, “but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court.”
  88. Shortly after, Chair Schiff told reporters of Sondland, “we are also aware that the ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device which have been provided to the State Department.”
  89. WAPO reported the use of WhatsApp and other messaging services is fairly widespread at the State Department, but copies must be made. Officials noted the irony that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “went ballistic on Hillary Clinton for that.”
  90. Shortly later, at a news conference of Trump House allies, Rep. Matt Gaetz added, “this impeachment is a kangaroo court and Chairman Schiff is acting like a malicious Captain Kangaroo.” It was unclear what he meant.
  91. In texts with Sondland and Volker, William Taylor wrote, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Sondland replied hours later, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
  92. On Tuesday, CNN reported after Trump’s July 25 call, anxiety and concern spread among National Security Council staffers that what Trump had said, particularly on investigating Biden, had crossed the line.
  93. Trump made the call from the third-floor White House residence, where he watches television and makes calls before noon. A number of aides were not in the room, but were in the Situation Room, or on their own lines.
  94. About a week later, the CIA’s top lawyer contacted the top lawyer on the National Security Council. At least one National Security Council official alerted the White House’s national security lawyers.
  95. The White House lawyers later ordered the transcript would be moved to a highly classified server as part of an effort to keep most people from seeing it outside of the executive branch.
  96. On Tuesday, ABC News reported a two-page memo written by the whistleblower a day after Trump’s call said one White House official described the call as “crazy” and “frightening.”
  97. The memo also said, “The official, who listened to the entirety of the phone call, was visibly shaken by what had transpired and seemed keen to inform a trusted colleague within the U.S. national security apparatus.”
  98. Trump tweeted “the so-called Whistleblower” said the call was “crazy, frightening, and completely lacking in substance,” calling it “a very big Lie.” This is false: an official described the call to the whistleblower.
  99. Sen. Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went on the offensive, calling Giuliani to testify. Democrats said they would welcome the opportunity. Giuliani said he had not decided if he would appear.
  100. On Tuesday, Trump had lunch with former GOP congressman Trey Gowdy, who led the House inquiry into Benghazi, about joining Trump’s legal team in the impeachment inquiry. It was unclear if Gowdy accepted.
  101. On Tuesday, a WAPO-Schar School poll found 58% approve of the House opening an impeachment inquiry, 38% disapprove — the first poll to find majority support. Notably, 3 in 10 Republicans support the inquiry.
  102. The poll also found that 49% say the House should take the step of impeaching Trump and removing him from office. Among independents, 57% support an inquiry and 49% say Trump should be removed.
  103. On Tuesday, an NBC/WSJ poll found 55% support an impeachment inquiry, the highest level this year. Just 39% say Congress should let Trump finish out his term, down from 50% in July.
  104. On Tuesday, the Trump regime declared war on the impeachment inquiry, saying in a letter to House Democrats it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election.”
  105. The letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone cited the inquiry violated precedent and denied Trump’s due process rights, and saying neither he or the executive branch would provide documents or testimony.
  106. The eight-page letter said the inquiry “violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent,” and the call transcript established “the call was completely appropriate and that there is no basis for your inquiry.”
  107. The letter said there is “no legitimate basis” for the inquiry Pelosi is calling “impeachment” already underway because the full House has not voted. Trump however would not commit to cooperating if the House did vote.
  108. The letter added, “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution” Trump and his regime “cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”
  109. The move marks a complete shift from last week when Trump said of the inquiry, “I always cooperate” saying allegations were meritless, and marks a potentially precedent-setting move to non-cooperation.
  110. Speaker Pelosi said in a statement, “continued efforts to hide the truth of the president’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” adding, “You will be held accountable.”
  111. The WAPO Editorial Board said of the letter, Trump “is asserting autocratic authority to ignore the people’s elected representatives and the Constitution,” calling it “a new stage in an already dangerous presidency.”
  112. On Thursday, in a letter, University of Chicago Law School classmates of Cipollone criticized him, saying by blocking material and witnesses from the impeachment inquiry, he “distorts the law and the Constitution.”
  113. Later Tuesday, Trump quoted a headline from conservative Washington Examiner, saying “The (big deal) Whistleblower had a ‘PROFESSIONAL TIE’ to 2020 Democratic Candidate,” calling it “A Witch Hunt Scam!”
  114. On Wednesday, Sen. Graham told “Fox & Friends” he planned to send a letter to Speaker Pelosi saying Republicans will not impeach Trump over the Ukraine call, adding, “They’re about to destroy the nation.”
  115. On Wednesday, Fox News cut ties with Gowdy as he accepted an offer to join Trump’s legal team for the impeachment inquiry. As a House Judiciary Chair, Gowdy had been an advocate of Congress’ oversight powers.
  116. On Wednesday, WAPO analyzed Republicans in the Senate on impeachment. To impeach, 20 Republicans would need to join Democrats. So far, 14 have expressed concerns, 39 support Trump unequivocally.
  117. On Wednesday, a Fox News poll found 51% believe Trump should be impeached and removed, 43% disagree — a 16 point net shift from July when 42% were for impeach and remove and 50% were against.
  118. On Thursday, Trump attacked Fox News, tweeting, “I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll,” adding, “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck,” and
    Fox News “is also much different than it used to be in the good old days.”
  119. Trump also tweeted complaints about “people like Andrew Napolitano…Shep Smith, @donnabrazile…& others,” saying Fox News “doesn’t deliver for US anymore. It is so different than it used to be.”
  120. On Thursday, NYT reported Barr met privately with Rupert Murdoch at Murdoch’s home in New York on Wednesday evening. It was unclear who else attended or what was discussed.
  121. On Friday, Fox News host Shep Smith abruptly resigned during his show, after 23 years at the network since its founding in 1996. Smith said the decision was his own, but gave no explanation of why he was leaving.
  122. On Friday, when asked about the departure, Trump told reporters, “Is he leaving?” Oh, that’s a shame…Is he leaving because of terrible ratings? If he’s leaving, I assume he’s leaving for bad ratings…Well, I wish him well.”
  123. On Wednesday, NYT reported on email correspondence within the State Department, in which officials were urged to “play down” the release of Ukraine aid when it was finally released, saying, “nothing to see here.”
  124. The emails also revealed diplomats’ frustration with the unexpected freezing of funds that Congress had already approved. Emails from senior officials did not explain why funds were being withheld.
  125. On Wednesday, Trump sought to discredit the whistleblower, tweeting their facts “have been so incorrect,” and citing, “The Whistleblower has ties to one of my DEMOCRAT OPPONENTS.”
  126. Trump also tweeted, “The Whistleblower’s lawyer is a big Democrat.” The lawyer, Mark Zaid responded, saying he is a registered Independent, and that the whistleblower spent their government career in apolitical roles.
  127. On Wednesday, Pence refused to give reporters a straight answer on what he knew about Ukraine, dodging repeated questions,. Notably, Pence has not been able to say he did not know about Trump’s true interests.
  128. On Thursday, 16 prominent conservative lawyers called for an “expeditious” impeachment probe, saying Trump’s asking for Ukraine and China to investigate his political opponent violates his oath of office.
  129. On Wednesday, the three House committee chairs requested in a letter that Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill appear in a deposition on October 14, as well as turn over documents dating back to January 2017.
  130. On Thursday, NBC News reported Hill will appear before Congress next week, and plans to testify that Giuliani and Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process.
  131. Hill will testify that the two also side-stepped then NSA John Bolton, to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine. Hill is a Russian hawk, and had wound down her role before the July 25 call. Giuliani said he did not know her.
  132. On Friday, Sondland ignored State Department and White House instructions, announcing he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.
  133. On Thursday, a NPR-Marist poll found 52% approve of an impeachment inquiry, 43% disapprove. There was 19 point shift in independents, from 50–44% disapprove in late September, to 54–41% approve.
  134. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump is spending hours each day sending frenzied tweets and calling allies on Capitol Hill as impeachment looms. Trump called Leader McConnell three times a day to stress GOP unity.
  135. Aides are setting up campaign rallies in the coming weeks as a way to channel his frustration. He will appear in Minneapolis Thursday, then his campaign is looking for a venue in Louisiana for Friday.
  136. After Joe Biden came out for impeachment, Trump told reporters, reading from a script, “No American should ever face such persecution from their own government,” adding, “Except, perhaps, your President.”
  137. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the DOJ to drop a criminal case against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Giuliani.
  138. Others who attended the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office were shocked by Trump’s request. Tillerson refused, and repeated his objections to then Chief of Staff John Kelly in the hallway. The DOJ did not drop the case.
  139. On Thursday, WAPO reported Erdogan personally lobbied Trump to get the charges against Zarrab dropped when they met at the White House in May 2017. Giuliani also made a pitch to the DOJ to have the charges dropped.
  140. When Trump made the request to Tillerson, two of Zarrab’s attorneys, Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, were also in the room. The two proposed swapping Zarrab for an American pastor in Turkish custody.
  141. The case against Zarrab was launched by Preet Bharara, whom Trump abruptly fired. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein refused to meet with Giuliani, and then AG Jeff Sessions did not drop the case.
  142. On Thursday, Politico reported Graham received a hoax call in August, from a person he thought was Turkey’s minister of defense, but turned out to be two Russian pranksters, with possible ties to Russian intelligence.
  143. Graham mentioned Trump’s interest in a “Turkish bank case,” apparently referring to the case of Reza Zarrab. Graham also labeled the Kurds as a “threat” to Turkey — contradicting his current public position.
  144. On Monday, Miami Herald reported Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani allies who peddled information about Ukraine corruption involving Biden and Hillary Clinton, will not respond to a deadline for documents.
  145. The two Florida businessmen are represented by former Trump attorney, John Dowd, who also said his clients do not plan to appear for depositions scheduled for this week. House Democrats plan to subpoena the two.
  146. On Thursday, WSJ reported Parnas and Fruman were arrested late Wednesday on criminal charges for their alleged efforts to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections and influence U.S. politics.
  147. The two, both U.S. citizens born in Ukraine when it was a Soviet republic, were arrested while awaiting an international flight out of Dulles Airport, the day before one of them was scheduled to testify before Congress.
  148. The 21-page indictment alleges the two engaged in political activities on behalf of one or more Ukrainian government officials, including lobbying, targeting a GOP congressman for help, and removing Marie Yovanovitch.
  149. The indictment also alleges their political giving was funded in part by an unnamed Russian donor, and the two set up a limited liability company, LLC Global Energy Producers, to disguise the money.
  150. In May 2018 the LLC gave $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, and Fruman made donations of $400,000, misspelling his name “to evade the reporting requirements.” The two gave over $1 million to Republicans.
  151. Parnas donated to and sought help from former Rep. Pete Sessions in removing Yovanovitch. Sessions then wrote a letter to Pompeo, saying Yovanovitch was “bad mouthing” Trump in private conversations.
  152. Parnas and Fruman had dinner with Trump in May 2018. In July, Parnas and Giuliani had breakfast with Volker. According to Volker’s testimony, Giuliani mentioned investigating Biden and 2016 election interference.
  153. The two set up a meeting between Giuliani and Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko. Trump and Giuliani claim Joe Biden tried to have Lutsenko fired. Lutsenko has said Hunter Biden “did not violate anything.”
  154. Since late 2018, the two had introduced Giuliani to several current and former senior Ukrainian prosecutors, and were a conduit to find dirt on the Bidens. The three had lunch at the Trump Hotel in DC on Wednesday.
  155. Giuliani, who identified the two as clients in May, told Fox News on Thursday he found their arrest “extremely suspicious,” and is not representing them. John Dowd did not respond.
  156. On Thursday, the Atlantic reported Giuliani was planning to fly to Vienna Thursday night. When Parnas and Fruman were apprehended Wednesday night at Dulles, they were also headed to Vienna.
  157. On Thursday, federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York formally announced federal campaign finance charges, and cited the importance of protecting U.S. elections from foreign influence.
  158. A DOJ official said Attorney General Barr was briefed on the investigation in February, and informed Wednesday night that the two were about to be arrested.
  159. On Thursday, shortly after the arrests were announced, the two were subpoenaed by the three House committee chairs for “key documents” that have not been produced as part of the impeachment inquiry.
  160. Hours later, the three House committee chairs also subpoenaed Sec. Rick Perry for documents related to the impeachment inquiry, giving him a deadline of October 18.
  161. On Thursday, Trump told reporters before leaving for Minneapolis that he hopes Giuliani does not get indicted, and that he does not know Parnas and Fruman, saying, “I don’t know those gentlemen.”
  162. Trump added, “it’s possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody,” adding, “maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy.” Trump is seen in several 2018 photos with the two men.
  163. Politico reported Parnas’ relationship with Trump may have begun earlier than previously reported. At Trump’s 2016 election night party, Parnas described himself as a friend of Trump who lived not far from Mar-a-Lago.
  164. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would donate the $111,000 given by the two to the House Republicans’ main fundraising committee to charity. Five Republican campaign committees received nearly $500,000.
  165. On Thursday, Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born California businessman, was arrested in San Francisco on campaign finance violations and appeared in court. Kukushkin was named in the SDNY indictment.
  166. The fourth defendant named in the SDNY indictment is David Correia. The four are accused of disguising contributions to two Nevada state office candidates from a Russian businessman to obtain marijuana licenses.
  167. On Thursday, WAPO reported Barr visited Italy to investigate a conspiracy theory advanced by Trump and Giuliani that Joseph Mifsud was a Western intelligence plant working to discredit the Trump campaign.
  168. On Thursday, in an interview with Sebastian Gorka at the Daily Caller, Trump hammered his former attorney general Jeff Sessions, saying he was “a total disaster,” and “an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama.”
  169. On Thursday, WSJ reported lawyers for the whistleblower asked Congress if they can submit testimony in writing instead of appearing in person, citing safety concerns, and that their identity may be exposed.
  170. On Thursday, WSJ reported that NBCUniversal joined CNN in not running a Trump ad using an unsubstantiated claim Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion to fire the prosecutor investigating the company with ties to his son.
  171. The ad also accuses “media lap dogs” of aiding the Democrats with their impeachment efforts including CNN and MSNBC journalists. Facebook denied a request by the Biden campaign to take a similar ad down.
  172. On Wednesday, CNN reported Matt Drudge, an influential conservative journalist, is souring on Trump. His website has featured overwhelmingly negative news about Trump and impeachment in recent weeks.
  173. On Thursday, Rep. John Shimkus, who is retiring in 2020, said Trump’s decision to withdraw troops was “terrible and despicable,” adding he told his staff “to take my name off the I support Donald Trump list.”
  174. On Friday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan became the third Republican governor to support the impeachment inquiry.
  175. On Thursday, Michael Pillsbury, one of Trump’s China advisers, told the Financial Times, “I got a quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.” Hours later on C-SPAN, he denied making the comment.
  176. FT’s Washington bureau chief tweeted an October 9 email from Pillsbury, saying exactly what was quoted. Later Thursday, Pillsbury later told the Post, “Most everything I learned was already public or well-known.”
  177. On Thursday, WAPO reported at least four national security officials were so alarmed by Trump’s actions toward Ukraine before and after the July 25 call that they raised concern with NSC legal adviser John Eisenberg.
  178. There is no inspector general equivalent in the White House. One official on the call went directly to Eisenberg. During the day, two more did. It is not clear if Eisenberg took any action after the call or from earlier reports.
  179. Also, within minutes of the call, senior officials including former NSA John Bolton were contacted by subordinates. Bolton and others scrambled to get a copy of the call transcript, which was already being “locked down.”
  180. On Thursday, Trump tweeted Zelensky said “Trump applied no pressure and did absolutely nothing wrong,” saying this should end the “Democrat Scam,” adding, “but it won’t, because the Dems & Media are FIXED!”
  181. On Thursday, CNN reported Trump’s new NSA, Robert O’Brien, told White House staff that he plans to cut the National Security Council staff by almost half, and increase the percentage of political appointees.
  182. On Monday, a federal judge rejected Trump’s lawsuit to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.
  183. Judge Victor Marrero cited, “The Court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the President above the law,” and called the assertion Trump is immune from criminal inquiries “repugnant.”
  184. The judge also questioned the legal memos from White House lawyers in the 1970s that the DOJ had relied on, saying the arguments they made rely on “conjurings of remote prospects and hyperbolic horrors.”
  185. Trump’s lawyers appealed within minutes, saying, “For the first time in our nation’s history, a county prosecutor has subjected the sitting President of the United States to criminal process.”
  186. Trump tweeted the Democrats “have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democratic prosecutors” to go after him,” and, “A thing like this has never happened to any President before.”
  187. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court said Deutsche Bank does not have Trump’s personal tax returns. The bank does have returns “for individuals and entities named in the subpoenas,” however.
  188. NYT reported current and former Deutsche Bank officials had previously said the bank had portions of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns. It was unclear when the bank stopped retaining those returns.
  189. On Friday, a federal appeals court voted 2-1 to reject Trump’s appeal of a House subpoena for his tax returns with a Trump appointee, Circuit Judge Neomi Rao the dissenting vote. Trump will likely appeal.
  190. Later Friday, Trump’s personal attorneys filed an appeal, again claiming he is immune from criminal investigation. The DOJ filed a supporting brief, but stopped short of supporting the assertion he has absolute immunity.
  191. On Tuesday, DOJ attorney argued against turning over Mueller grand jury materials to House Democrats, citing a 1974 ruling to release normally secret grand jury materials to the House was incorrectly decided.
  192. The materials handed over in 1974 were a roadmap to Nixon’s impeachment. U.S. District Court Beryl Howell said, “Wow,” and added, “As I said, the department is taking extraordinary positions in this case.”
  193. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Trump violated federal law when he declared a national emergency in February to get millions for building a wall on the southern border, and called the proclamation “unlawful.”
  194. On Friday, a federal judge blocked a Trump regime policy set to go into effect Tuesday known the “public charge” rule, which would have denied legal residency to immigrants who rely on public welfare.
  195. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters NBA coach Steve Kerr was a “scared little boy” afraid to answer, for not giving an opinion on the on Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s comments on China and human rights.
  196. Kerr later responded, saying he has met five presidents, “And all I could think of last night was the contrast of what has happened in 35 years,” and, “It’s just sad that it’s come crashing down…and “we’re now living this.”
  197. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “So funny to watch Steve Kerr grovel and pander when asked a simple question about China. He chocked, and looks weak and pathetic,” adding, “Don’t want him at the White House!”
  198. On Tuesday, Trump attacked Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, after the mayor sought a $530,000 deposit to defray expenses of a Trump rally, calling him a “lightweight mayor,” and adding, “Dump Frey and Omar!”
  199. Frey responded, tweeting, “Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills” and suggested at a press conference that Trump should spend more time doing his job and less time “tweeting garbage out.”
  200. Later Tuesday, Trump again attacked the “Radical Left Dem Mayor of Minneapolis” saying he is “doing everything possible to stifle Free Speech,” adding, “despite a record sell-out crowd at the Target Center.”
  201. CNN reported the Trump campaign has not paid at least six cities for rally costs: El Paso, TX ($470k), Spokane, WA ($65k), Mesa, AZ ($64k), Eau Claire, WI ($47k), Lebanon, OH ($16k) ,and Burlington, VT ($8k).
  202. On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally at Target Center. The rally drew thousands of protestors chanting “Lock him up!” and holding signs. Some protestors clashed with Trump supporters outside the rally.
  203. A new department policy banned off-duty police from wearing their uniform, so the police union made red t-shirt which said, “Cops for Trump.” Trump tweeted his support, “I LOVE the Cops for Trump shirts.”
  204. Trump attacked Biden and his family, saying Biden “was never considered smart. He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”
  205. Trump called Hunter “a loser,” saying he knows “nothing about energy,” and “nothing about China,” adding, “Whatever happened to Hunter? Where the hell is he?…I have an idea for a new T-shirt…Where’s Hunter?”
  206. Trump also spent six-minutes attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar, as a photo of her wearing a headscarf flashed on jumbo screens, calling her an “America-hating socialist” and a “disgrace.”
  207. Trump also attacked Somali refugees, telling attendees he will “give local communities a greater say in refugee policy,” and, “You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods.”
  208. Trump also performed an impression of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page having sex, saying, “I love you, Lisa,” and “I love you too, Peter” before moaning “Lisa, I love you, Lisa! Lisa! Oh, God, I love you.”
  209. On Friday, on a conference call with House Democrats, Speaker Pelosi said of Trump’s comments on Biden, he “has become a potty-mouth and children are listening,” adding, “this is beyond disgraceful.”
  210. On Friday, at his second rally in two days in Louisiana, Trump lashed out at Pelosi, calling her “Nervous Nancy,” saying she “hates this country,” and comparing the inquiry to a “nonstop battle to overturn your vote.”
  211. Trump also attacked impeachment, saying “The radical Democrats’ policies are crazy,” adding, “they know they can’t win on Election Day, so they’re pursuing an illegal … unconstitutional bullshit impeachment.”
  212. During the rally, Trump abruptly switched topics and aired his grievances, attacking Democrats, including Schiff who he said “made it up,” to creating an imaginary back-and-forth between Page and Strzok.
  213. Trump also defended his decision to pull troops from Syria, saying, “I am not president of the world. I am president of the United States of America,” adding, “We reject globalism. We embrace patriotism.”
  214. On Thursday, in an op-ed, 17 former Watergate special prosecutors said Trump should be impeached, citing “there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses.”
  215. On Thursday, Michael McKinley, a career diplomat and senior adviser to Pompeo, resigned over plummeting morale at the department and Pompeo’s failure to support staffers ensnared in the Ukraine controversy.
  216. CNN reported one of the reasons McKinley resigned was over the silence in the top ranks at the State Department, who were not defending Yovanovitch.
  217. On Friday, Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors to House committees. She said a top State Department official told her Trump pushed for her removal, though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”
  218. Her opening statement said undermining loyal diplomats would embolden “bad actors” who will “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system” and serve the interests of adversaries like Russia.
  219. She said allegations circulated by Giuliani allies that she was disloyal to Trump were “fictitious,” there was a “concerted campaign” against her, and the department had been under pressure from Trump to remove her.
  220. Yovanovitch said Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan informed her Trump had lost confidence in her when she was recalled from Kiev. Later Friday, Trump nominated Sullivan to be U.S. ambassador to Russia.
  221. Yovanovitch said she had never inhibited efforts by Ukraine to combat corruption, and was not part of discussions on suspending aid, but said recent events would hamper Ukraine’s reform and defense against Russia.
  222. Yovanovitch warned private influence and personal gain could undermine U.S. interests, saying harm will come when “private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good.”
  223. On Friday, the White House accidentally sent talking points on Yovanovitch’s deposition to Democrats, the second time it did so this month on matters relating to Ukraine.
  224. The talking points encouraged turning the table and attacking Chair Schiff, and reminded Republicans not to be concerned with any information shared by Yovanovitch, because Trump “did nothing wrong.”
  225. On Friday, AP reported White House aides are disappearing amid impeachment talk, including Sunday shows and beyond. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s last press gaggle was on September 27.
  226. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has yet to hold a daily press briefing. It has been seven months since the last daily briefing. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley has also been absent.
  227. On Friday, Kevin McAleenan resigned as acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the fourth person to hold the position under Trump, who announced the departure on Twitter.
  228. McAleenan had become more isolated in recent week. He recently told the Post in an interview that he did not have control of “the tone, the message, the public face and approach” of his department.
  229. On Thursday, CNN reported the FBI and SDNY prosecutors are examining Giuliani’s financial dealings with Parnas and Fruman. Giuliani said he was not aware of any law enforcement scrutiny.
  230. On Thursday, when asked by CNN if Giuliani could be indicted, Trump said “I hope not,” adding, “You know, he’s got a lot of clients. So, I just don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Rudy about it, I don’t know.”
  231. On Friday, when asked by reporters if Giuliani was still his attorney, Trump said, “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He’s a very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”
  232. Later Friday, NYT reported Giuliani is also under investigation by federal prosecutors in the SDNY for violating foreign lobbying laws in his work in Ukraine. They are also examining his efforts to undermine Yovanovitch.
  233. Giuliani acknowledged he worked with Parnas and Fruman to collect damaging information on Yovanovitch and the Bidens, and shared materials with government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist.
  234. Federal law requires U.S. citizens to disclose to the DOJ contacts with the U.S. government or media at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials. Giuliani claimed he was working for Trump.
  235. Parnas and Fruman connected Giuliani to Lutsenko, Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who disliked Yovanovitch’s reform efforts and wanted her recalled, and saw Giuliani as a way to pass negative information to Trump.
  236. Parnas also told people Yovanovitch was blocking his efforts to pursue gas deals in Ukraine, and that one of his companies paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  237. On Friday, in the late afternoon, Trump announced from the Oval Office that he had reached the first phase of a trade deal with China. Previously, Trump had insisted on a full-blown trade agreement, not a piecemeal deal.
  238. Trump also criticized the Federal Reserve, and repeated his call that they should cut rates again, saying, “We have a great economy, but we have a Federal Reserve that’s not in step with the rest of the world.”
  239. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pronounced from the Oval Office that the next round of tariffs would not go into effect. Wall Street initially cheered the partial deal, but soon cooled seeing no real resolution.
  240. On Saturday, USA Today reported a senior adviser to China’s government said the multiple delays in reaching a trade deal have been due in large part to actions by Trump, and his concerns about the 2020 election.
  241. On Saturday, Trump tweeted the deal with China is “by far, the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country.” Both sides acknowledge a full resolution is a far way off.
  242. On Saturday, the Hill noted that after his remarks on Monday, Leader McConnell has refused to publicly comment on impeachment. He is also dealing with a growing number of GOP senators raising concerns.
  243. On Saturday, Trump tweed, “Schiff is a lying mess!” quoting a headline on “Fox & Friends” based on a Washington Examiner story that Schiff recruited two former NSC aides who worked alongside the whistleblower.
  244. On Saturday, Trump defended Giuliani, tweeting, “So now they are after the legendary “crime buster” and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC.” Giuliani formerly headed the SDNY, which is now investigating him.
  245. Trump also tweeted, “He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer,” adding, “Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is surrounded by lawyers, aides and journalists as she arrives at the U.S. Capitol October 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. Yovanovitch was invited to testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees as part of the ongoing impeachment investigation against Trump.