Donald Trump, nominally the President of the United States of America, recently withdrew U.S. troops from Kurdish-held lands and greenlit a Turkish invasion of same, at Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's request. As soon as the humiliations of this outcome became clear to Trump, we now learn, he began sending threats to Erdoğan instead. Erdoğan ignored them, began his attack, and now those formerly-American bases are occupied by Syrian and Russian forces called in by the desperate Kurds. The New York Times' Katie Rogers pointed out that she "felt the need to ask" the White House for confirmation that this letter is "real". It is.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Tuesday the U.S. House is holding off on a vote to move forward with opening an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Read the rest
Trump Town is a Propublica/Columbia Journalism Investigations interactive database of everyone working in the Trump administration; the latest revision reveals that Trump has hired 281 former lobbyists to regulate the industries that used to sign their paychecks.
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The New York Times reports that John Bolton, Trump's former national security advisor, might turn out to be the loudest whistle of all in the case of Rudy Giuliani's demented efforts to get Ukrainian officials to help Trump win a second term as President.
Mr. Bolton got into a tense exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to three people who heard the testimony. ... “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at the deposition. ... It was not the first time Mr. Bolton expressed grave concerns to Ms. Hill about the campaign being run by Mr. Giuliani. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton as saying during an earlier conversation.
Giuliani is already being investigated, Xeni Jardin writes. So the appearance of this particularly sharp quote in the press suggests witnesses (such as Bolton) turning on Trump and his clique to avoid any possibility of getting caught up in it.
The funny part is that everyone just assumes it's about Trump's corrupt efforts to get foreign governments to thumb the 2020 election scales for him, but then it'll turn out to literally involve Rudy trucking cash by the kiloton out of Kiev's finest jellie labs. Read the rest
• Trump lawyer’s bank records examined
• Witnesses questioned on work for Ukraine mayor
• Feds probing efforts to oust U.S. ambassador
Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is the subject of a federal criminal investigation. Read the rest
The New York Times reported today that a video mashup depicting Trump slaughtering a church packed with his "fake news" enemies, from Barack Obama to the BBC, was shown last week to supporters at one of his Miami resorts. This 1000-view video is surely it. It's found by fixing the perspective on the oblique screengrab shown by the Times and then reverse image searching it. The Times didn't include the video in its reportage, as far as I could tell, but it did mention that it was significantly derived from something posted on YouTube.
The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. ... The disclosure that the video was played shows how Mr. Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda. Mr. Trump has made attacks on the news media a mainstay of his presidency, and he tweeted a similar — but far less violent video — in 2017. In recent weeks as he has confronted impeachment proceedings, he has ramped up his attacks on the news media, repeatedly calling it the “enemy of the people.”
It's evidently a scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service with Trump's head (among others) crudely superimposed on characters from the film. Read the rest
The White House Counsel's "crazy, ranty" legal nastygram to House Leader Nancy Pelosi over impeachment was, Noah Shachtman writes, crafted by Trump himself.
Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein, at the Daily Beast:
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Trump had also privately consulted on the letter with Rudy Giuliani, his notably pugnacious personal lawyer who is at the center of the Ukraine and Biden-related scandal engulfing the administration. Trump talked to Giuliani about how he and the White House should proceed in fighting back and challenging the legitimacy of the impeachment probe, one of the sources noted. Reached for comment on Thursday evening, the former New York mayor and Trump confidant repeatedly declined to confirm or deny this.
...but Giuliani says he is.
I'm old enough to have watched Schoolhouse Rock educational cartoons when they premiered on television. Read the rest
Four or more top U.S. national security officials were so upset by Donald Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for Joe Biden dirt that they spoke to a White House lawyer with their concerns “both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president,” the Washington Post reports tonight citing “U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter.” Read the rest
Could an arrest be imminent? Was he planning to fly to Vienna, too? So many questions.
Giuliani dealings with associates scrutinized in ongoing investigation
A judge today approved a $1 million bond in property and business for two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, along with mandatory home confinement and GPS monitoring. Read the rest
Trump gave Erdogan green light, Putin nods in approval from Moscow. Read the rest
In the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers presented evidence that Russia conducted information warfare against the U.S. in 2016 and demanded urgent action from Congress, the trump White House, and Silicon Valley to prevent the same thing from happening in 2020. Read the rest
Trump signs US trade deal with Japan
Immediately after a Federal judge dismissed President Trump's attempt to block a Grand Jury from reviewing his taxes, his lawyers appealed.
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A federal judge on Monday dismissed President Donald Trump's effort to prevent his tax returns from being turned over to a New York grand jury.
The ruling raises the likelihood that Trump's tax returns will be provided in response to the subpoena, although any material obtained through a grand jury subpoena is covered by grand jury secrecy rules, meaning it would likely become public only if it were used as evidence at a trial.
Dismissing Trump's "extraordinary" claim that any occupant of the White House enjoys "absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind," US District Court Judge Victor Marrero said in a 75-page opinion that such a position "would constitute an overreach of executive power."
An attorney for Trump filed an emergency notice of appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals minutes after the district court judge filed his decision, and the appeals court immediately ordered a temporary stay of the subpoena.