Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sondland (updates, including THE FUNNIEST TWEET OF THE DAY)

I wasn't going to write anything until after the bullet-headed hotelier finished. But so far, this looks like a good day. He has said that quid pro quo existed, and he has said that everything was done at Trump's direction. And no-one can call him a second-hand witness.

He complained about not being provided with materials from the State Department, but that is pure CYA: He wants to explain away the changes in his own testimony. As Josh Marshall noted: "If I knew how much was already on paper I would have been honest sooner."

As long as he is provided means to escape from personal responsibility for any of this, he seems willing to underbus Trump, Pompeo and (especially) Rudy.

Looks to me as though we are rapidly approaching a moment when the Republicans may have to pursue a "Blame everything on Rudy" strategy. That should be fun.

Back soon.

Update: Tweet from George Conway, he of the fascinatingly strange marriage:
This is a John Dean moment. It will live forever in American political history.
Rick Wilson:
Sweet mother of God. Sondland is shoveling them under the bus wholesale.
David Corn:
More Boom! Sondland admits he told top Ukrainian official that security assistance would not come until Ukraine announced the investigations Trump wanted.
Important. No more false claims that the Ukrainians didn't know.

Oh man. Sondland confirmed the assertion that Trump cares only about "big stuff" -- that is, stuff that can help him, not "small stuff" like war, corruption or murder.

FUNNIEST TWEET OF THE DAY. This is not a parody. It comes from conservative propagandist Brent Bozell:
Listen to Sondland and you'll understand why America elected Donald Trump president to get rid of people like Sondland.
Best response:
If they elected Donald Trump president so he could first hire people like Sondland in order that he could then fire people like Sondland, that just seems like a lot of unnecessary steps.
Jim Sciutto:
Sondland just got to a core issue - Trump didn’t want the Biden investigation, just the *announcement* of the investigation: “(Pres. Zelensky) had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them.”
David Frum:
Successful real estate entrepreneur sees no reason to go to prison for unsuccessful real estate entrepreneur
More updates. I'm back from my unsuccessful effort to chase down an escaped cat. If the stakes weren't so high, I'd find Devin MOOnes' conspiracy theories to be hilarious -- although it should be obvious to all that if he had any evidence, we'd have seen it already. That JPG would be the most famous JPG in the history of compressed image files.

Believe it or not, Ken Starr has turned. He now says there will be an impeachment. As far as I can tell, he has not predicted removal, but he seems to think that Trump committed serious crimes.

Update: What a day for power to go off! Am following events away from home but can’t write easily on this device. But it’s a good day.

Sondland is
I've long had a hunch that there's a Maltese angle to Trump's criminality.

Maltese businessman Jorgan Fenech was today arrested on his yacht by military and police in connection with the murder by car bomb of Panama Papers journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Any word from Joseph Mifsud? Or is he still in "disappeared" status along with Ghislaine Maxwell?

And does anyone know whether there is a family relationship between Joseph Mifsud, former senior civil servant (chef de cabinet) at the Maltese foreign ministry, and Alfred Mifsud, former deputy governor of Malta's central bank who accused his ex-partner Anna Zelbst of passing information to Caruana Galizia?

Lines from Malta connect with Russia and also Azerbaijan.
If Trump testifies at an impeachment trial and he is cross-examined, he won't be able to cope.

At any trial, the presiding officer - in this case the Chief Justice - is authorised to order a witness to answer a question and to punish for contempt. You can't go into a witness box, address the judge as "Shitface Roberts", tell everyone who's annoying you to fuck off, and scream that they're only interested in "fake news" and don't realise how "great" you are.

If he gets cross-examined, and perhaps even during his examination in chief (apologies for the English legal term; I don't know the US one), Trump will go full-on James Forrestal. He'll kook out. He'll get 25thed.

I've asked people whether a president is required to appear at his impeachment trial and the consensus seems to be that he doesn't even have to attend, let alone give evidence or be cross-examined. Trump could sit in NYC or Mar-a-Lago, watch his own trial on television, and post furious tweets calling the Chief Justice, Democratic senators and prosecution witnesses "crooks", liars, criminal conspirators, and other filthy things.

Is there some kind of "out" that involves a contempt of Congress finding, or is the US president basically a sovereign, a monarch, for four years, at least unless the 25th amendment is invoked?
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