I can't keep up with the news. You
can't keep up with the news. Nobody can. The best we can do is snatch at some
of the news as it rushes by.
has amended his testimony. The hotelier recovered his memories
: "Oh, you mean THAT quid pro quo!
I thought you were asking if I bought a used Go Pro camera for a quid. In, uh, England. Quid Go Pro."
Sondland also brought Mike Pence
into the picture.
Mr. Sondland recounted how he had discussed the linkage with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw. Mr. Zelensky had discussed the suspension of aid with Mr. Pence, Mr. Sondland said.
Pence can claim that the suspension discussion had no link to the "Get Biden" plan, but any such denial would be gossamer thin.
I said it in an earlier post: The EU ambassador may have pledged loyalty to Trump without understanding that Trump's definition of "loyalty" is "Die for me." Sondland finally understands that.
That said, it should be understood that Sondland has not truly flipped. It's complicated
In other words, while Sondland is taking big steps toward an explicit admission of demanding a quid pro quo from Ukraine for the investigations, he’s insulating his boss, Trump, from any culpability. Sondland wasn’t told that Trump said aid was contingent on investigations, according to his new assertions, just that he sort of guessed that’s what it would take.
On the other hand
This is hard to believe, but Sondland's other testimony similarly insists on his own ignorance as an excuse for questionable activity.
Sondland testified that Trump and Giuliani’s positions “kept getting more insidious,” evolving from a general interest in fighting corruption to an interest in Burisma and finally to an investigation of the Bidens. The EU envoy noted he was not a lawyer but said he “assumed” an effort to pressure Ukraine to do so, as pursued by Giuliani with Trump’s support, would be illegal.
Trump’s allies have recently begun to embrace a new defense: that Trump might have sought a quid pro quo, but that doing so is neither improper nor impeachable. In a criminal trial, a witness's legal opinion is considered irrelevant. But impeachment is a political process — and with Sondland's testimony, that talking point has now been complicated by Trump’s own appointee.
You have to take this new-and-improved testimony in context: Mulvaney, Taylor, Vindman, Morrison, and Senator Ron Johnson have all told us that there was a quid pro quo. And then there's the transcript itself, which Trump calls "perfect," and others call perfectly damning.
Yet Trump still insists on sticking to his "No quid pro quo" story. He's not even fooling his own supporters by this point.
All day, I've been flashing back to 2016. Remember when Trump got on TV and tried to convince the country that Trump Steaks was still in business? He "proved" his point with prop steaks from another supplier. Yet as he lied, his eyes shone with a crazed gleam -- and I got the impression that, on some level, he really believed
that he was still in the steak business.
Maybe he really believes
that there was no quid pro quo. Maybe he really believes
that the transcript exonerates him.
Lev Parnas may actually dish on Trump
. When we first got word that he would appear before Congress, I was cynical. I presumed that he would be more of a Manafort than a Cohen -- in other words, he wouldn't be a talker.
But Trump can't wave a pardon in front of Lev, can he? I mean, yeah, that's technically
possible, but even Donald Trump must bow to certain political proprieties.
As you will recall, Lev's former lawyer John Dowd -- also Trump's
lawyer -- suggested that Parnas is protected by executive privilege, even though Parnas doesn't work for the administration -- he works for the Dmitry Firtash crime syndicate. Trump, true to form, insisted that he didn't even know Parnas, even though strong evidence suggests otherwise. My sources tell me that the president offered three such denials, and then a rooster crowed.
lawyer (not Dowd, who lasted barely a month) says that Parnas got pissed off by Trump's denials. Hence the offer to work with the investigators.
Here's hoping that Lev Parnas will spill more beans than B&M cans in a decade.
I've heard of strange bedfellows, but this...! Who the hell is Aaron Maté?
He's considered a really important journalist over at The Nation
, a rag I stopped reading back in the early 1990s. I'm told that it's now BernieBro Central. Maté is even worse than Taibbi when it comes to insidious attempts to sell the Trump party line to liberals. This exchange with Marcy Wheeler
offers a glimpse into one of the most bizarre subcultures of our bizarre era: The pro-Tump left
(I really hope that Aaron is not related to this famous cinematographer and director
, whose work I've always admired.)
But it gets even weirder.
In an episode of the anti-fascist podcast I Don't Speak German
-- this episode
, if memory serves -- the host and guest agreed that a surprising number of hard-core, white nationalist Alt Righties have grown tired of Trump. He's like, so
five minutes ago. Believe it or not, these acolytes of Adolf are now gravitating toward Andrew Yang.
Why Yang? Because he promises a free $1000 check every month. That prospect sounds like heaven to these unlovable exemplars of the Master Race, who'd like nothing more than to spend their days "shit-posting" in the basement. Their only problem with Yang is, of course, his heritage.
Keep in mind that, like, five or ten minutes ago, most of these indolent bigots were libertarians.
So here we are: The Nation
has become a pro-Trump, pro-Putin, pro-fascist publication -- while a bunch of ultra-racist former Randroids now support a non-white candidate offering the proverbial free lunch.
And the mice no longer eat cheese. They demand to be eaten by the cat, who would rather be killed by the bulldog.
Maybe this theory
is right. Maybe we all died in 2012 and we just don't know it. Maybe that's why nothing makes sense.
I was going to write a much longer post, but I can't. I just can't. It's too damned crazy.