Trump Admits He Talked About Biden With Ukrainian President

President Trump is now admitting that he talked to the President of Ukraine about investigations of Joe Biden and his son but denies there was a quid pro quo.

In a session with reporters last night, President Trump appeared to have reversed his previous denials and acknowledged that he did discuss his potential 2020 opponent former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in his talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:

President Trump appeared to confirm Sunday that he mentioned former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter in a phone call with the leader of Ukraine, as some senior Democrats revived talk of impeachment hearings over revelations that Trump had asked a foreign government to investigate one of his potential 2020 opponents.

The president and his close allies also escalated their attacks on Biden on Sunday, demanding probes into the former vice president and his son’s work in Ukraine, though no evidence has surfaced that Biden acted inappropriately and Trump’s allies did not provide any. 

Across several networks Sunday, top administration officials, outside advisers and lawmakers close to Trump repeatedly raised the specter of impropriety on the part of Biden, whose younger son, Hunter, was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that Trump pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate, according to people familiar with the matter.

The issue has surfaced because of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint, first reported by The Washington Post. According to people familiar with the matter, Trump pressed Zelensky to dig up potentially damaging information against Biden during a July 25 phone call. 

In an exchange with reporters outside the White House before departing for events in Texas and Ohio on Sunday, Trump appeared to suggest he did speak about Biden with Zelensky.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump told reporters Sunday morning. “And Ukraine, Ukraine’s got a lot of problems.”

Later in Houston, Trump appeared to backtrack, saying, “I don’t even want to mention it, but certainly I’d have the right to” raise Biden’s name with Zelensky. He also said he would “love” to release a transcript, though he added he would have to make a determination about how to do so. 

In his comments, Trump also continued to suggest, with no evidence, that Biden had acted inappropriately.

“I’m not looking to hurt him with respect to his son,” Trump said after landing in Houston on Sunday. But he continued, “Joe’s got a lot of problems. Joe’s got enough problems. But what he said was a terrible thing,” suggesting Biden had lied about communications with his son about Ukraine.

The sentiment was echoed by his senior advisers, who repeatedly suggested, without evidence, wrongdoing on Biden’s part and pushed for the highest levels of the federal government to probe the connections between the former vice president and Ukraine. 

These admissions from the President come after days during which the President denied that he had discussed the alleged Biden affair, which Steven L. Taylor explains in this post, with his Ukrainian counterpart. It also comes as the White House continues to block efforts by the House Intelligence Committee to obtain a copy of a whistleblower complaint that apparently involves the President. While it has not been confirmed, it is believed that this complaint involves President Trump’s conversation(s) with President Zelensky regarding Vice-President Biden and Biden’s son. There also seems to be the possibility that the whistleblower complaint is rooted in the contents of more than one phone call but, of course, we cannot know that unless and until we know what the complaint is about. So far, the White House is doing everything it can to prevent that from happening, which only adds to the speculation about what’s going on here.

Despite this admission, the President continues to deny that he made any effort to connect a reopening of the Ukrainian investigation of the gas company whose board Hunter Biden sat on and future aid to the Ukrainian government. One of the allegations has been that the President, either explicitly or implicitly, linked his approval of military aid to Ukraine to a reopening of the investigation. Obviously, if this is true then we will have entered some fairly serious territory that would seem to require Congressional action. Until that’s confirmed, though, we’re basically engaging in speculation while the White House and Trump’s political surrogates such as Cabinet Members and Rudy Giuliani use this as an opportunity to try to create the impression that there’s some Ukrainian scandal involving the former Vice-President when it’s clear that there isn’t.

Where we go from here depends on a lot on what happens with the whistleblower complaint and what we learn, if anything, about the contents of the President’s phone call(s) with President Zelensky. As we can already see, though, this story is following a very familiar trend with respect to this Administration and accusations made against the President. First, they deny anything happened while at the same time blocking the truth from coming out. When it becomes apparent that this isn’t working they start to slowly start to admit that the allegation, in this case, that the President used his position to have a foreign power ‘dig up dirt’ on a domestic Presidential rival, is accurate but that it was no big deal. At the same time, they attempt to divert attention to something else, here that would be the alleged “scandal” involving Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian gas company In the meantime they continue to do whatever they can to delay the truth — in this case, that means denying Congress access to either the whistleblower complaint or the testimony of the whistleblower him or herself. In the end, perhaps the truth will come out but by then so much time will have passed that few people will care and even fewer will notice.

This is why its essential for Congress to keep up the pressure and to take whatever legal action it needs to in order to enforce its rights to have access to the information requested. It’s also yet another example of how this Administration has refused to cooperate with even the most innocuous request from Congress for documents, information, or access to witnesses. It won’t be easy, but it’s absolutely essential.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    It’s funny how he admits to more than his own supporters admit about him…they must get whiplash trying to keep up with all the nonsense he says and tweets…

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Too bad trump has half of Congress in his back pocket.

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  3. An Interested Party says:

    Whatever the makeup of the Senate is, the Democrats in the House need to follow this advice…their fecklessness and weakness is getting very old…

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  4. mattbernius says:

    Since I’m sure the following will be brought up by PoTUS’s typical pwn-the-libs defenders, let me handle some of the more recent flack they put up on this.

    #1 Ukrainian Foreign Minister denies quid pro quo and pressure
    Key quote from this:

    “I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told the Hromadske media outlet. “There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

    source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ukraine-trump-zelensky-biden

    Leaving aside the inference from this quote that Prystaiko *wasn’t* present for the conversation, and the question about how direct he might be about what occurred as Ukraine is still relying on the Trump administration for foreign aide, this in no way denies that a President of the US did appear to ask for an investigation into a political rival (which ultimately is the biggest issues here).

    #2 – John Solomon says that the prosecutor has lots of details he wants to turn over to Barr.
    Former reporter John Solomon, and editor at the Hill who has been shifted from the news section of the publication to the opinion section, published a long essay that include the following apparent bombshell:

    Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

    https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/436816-joe-bidens-2020-ukrainian-nightmare-a-closed-probe-is-revived

    However, for a piece that is full of quotes from Lutsenko, Solomon for some reason doesn’t include any details or direct quotes about about what that might pertain to. Strange huh given the potential bombshell nature of the finding.

    Perhaps, *just perhaps*, it might be because Lutsenko has previously be interviewed on the record by other news organization and said something similar, but far more boring:

    “I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections,” Lutsenko said in an interview Tuesday in his office in Kiev. “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws — at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing. A company can pay however much it wants to its board.” He said if there is a tax problem, it’s not in Ukraine.”

    source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-16/ukraine-prosecutor-says-no-evidence-of-wrongdoing-by-bidens

    Again, Solomon — in his opinion piece which the Hill (his employer mind you) doesn’t stand behind — never references anything about this past statement.

    #3 – None of this matters because it appears that the Whistleblower wasn’t present for the conversation

    From the CNN report:

    CNN had earlier reported, citing a source familiar with the case, that the complaint was prompted by concerns over communications between the President and a foreign leader. The alleged whistleblower didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications that partly prompted the complaint to the inspector general, an official briefed on the matter told CNN on Thursday. Instead, the whistleblower’s concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration’s determination that the complaint didn’t fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/19/politics/intel-inspector-general-not-sharing-details/index.html

    This, if true, is interesting as it has implications from a policy perspective. However, given the corroboration of the general details from the President himself, and his personal Attorney – note not a member of DoJ – it doesn’t appear that the whistleblower got things too off in the first place.

    Aside – this is also a great example of how people who normally attack unnamed sources suddenly discover how much they love them when it fits their narrative.

    #4 – But Hunter Biden seems to be profiting from his connections to a powerful politician

    Yup. Though if you’re concerned about that, we really need to have a talk about the Trump kids and the emoluments clause.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius:

    Instead, the whistleblower’s concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work,

    I am curious about how they did in fact come across this information. Was it over after work drinks at the local watering hole? Is the place bugged by the Russians/Israelis/Iranians? Or did they just happen to find a file on the floor of an unsecured conference room? Or maybe it was just DJT jr bragging about how they were gonna tear Biden up.

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  6. drj says:

    @mattbernius:

    Ukrainian Foreign Minister denies quid pro quo and pressure […]

    Leaving aside the inference from this quote that Prystaiko *wasn’t* present for the conversation,

    It is completely irrelevant whether or not Prystaiko was in the room. He has been briefed. He KNOWS what happened.

    At the same time, an Ukrainian foreign minister (or pretty much any foreign minister – except in very, very rare conditions) would NEVER publicly embarass a sitting US President.

    Prystaiko primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of Ukraine. He is not going to intervene in US domestic politics. The risks are simply too great.

    And even if Ukraine would be bold enough to embark on some madcap scheme to put pressure on Trump, it would never, ever do so openly.

    So regardless of what happened, Prystaiko was always going to deny criminal wrongdoing by Trump.

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  7. mattbernius says:

    @drj:

    It is completely irrelevant whether or not Prystaiko was in the room. He has been briefed. He KNOWS what happened.

    I completely agree, however, it’s worth noting that other talking points rely heavily on calling things into doubt based on whether or not the whistleblower was present for the conversation or if he or she might have been briefed on it.

    At the same time, an Ukrainian foreign minister (or pretty much any foreign minister – except in very, very rare conditions) would NEVER publicly embarass a sitting US President.

    Prystaiko primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of Ukraine. He is not going to intervene in US domestic politics. The risks are simply too great.

    Completely agree.

    To that point, there’s a certain sad irony in the current Ukrainian prosecutor’s quote:

    “I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections,” Lutsenko said

    Sadly any chance of that coming true have long since passed.

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  8. drj says:

    @mattbernius:

    To that point, there’s a certain sad irony in the current Ukrainian prosecutor’s quote

    They are shitting bricks over here. Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis.

    Or, actually: between the current US government, the next (probably Democratic) US government, the Euros (who hate Trump and all his works, but lack military muscle), and, of course, the bloody Russians.

    As we speak, a Ukrainian crisis team (or two) is going without sleep.

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  9. Kathy says:

    It’s hard to get invested in this latest impeachable offense. We all know how it’s going to play out, because we’ve already seen it play out. In the end, El Cheeto can do whatever he wants, because no matter what he does to hurt the country and the world, it’s far more important to the Republican politicians that he hurt the Democrats as well.

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  10. Teve says:

    There’s a right-wing Facebook group called I ❤️ America with over a million followers that lately started pushing Trump propaganda, and over the weekend it came out that the group is run out of the Ukraine.

    Link: https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/1176104427020857344?s=20

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  11. mattbernius says:

    Also, Rudy — again the President’s personal lawyer, not a DoJ rep — keeps “helping”:

    Rudy Giuliani Can’t Say ‘100%’ That Trump Didn’t Threaten to Cut Ukraine Aid

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-23/giuliani-can-t-say-100-that-trump-didn-t-threaten-ukraine-aid

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  12. wr says:

    @Kathy: ” In the end, El Cheeto can do whatever he wants, because no matter what he does to hurt the country and the world, it’s far more important to the Republican politicians that he hurt the Democrats as well.”

    Sure, but that swings both ways. And if the House does impeach based on incontrovertible evidence of corruption and worse, every single Republican senator is going to have to go on the record as supporting or opposing corruption in high office. Probably won’t hurt those in the deep south, but I suspect there are a lot of vulnerable Republican senators who face serious trouble whichever way they vote. Time to use the Trump-toadying against the toads.

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  13. mattbernius says:

    @wr:

    And if the House does impeach based on incontrovertible evidence of corruption and worse, every single Republican senator is going to have to go on the record as supporting or opposing corruption in high office.

    Yup. This is why I’ve come around to the idea of impeachment — especially after the most recent allegations came to light.

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  14. Teve says:

    @wr: if it further humiliates Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham I’d have to support it.

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  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    We STILL have a situation where the DOJ and the ODNI are witholding the whistleblower’s complaint in clear violation of the law.

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  16. Jen says:

    @wr:

    And if the House does impeach based on incontrovertible evidence of corruption and worse, every single Republican senator is going to have to go on the record as supporting or opposing corruption in high office.

    I agree. I’ve been opposed to impeachment proceedings up until now, mostly because the vast majority of Americans (including voters) just don’t pay close enough attention to the news, and would perceive impeachment as a way to score political points rather than the Constitutional remedy that it is. This Ukraine matter is corruption in plain sight, and it must be addressed. If Senate Republicans want to go on record as voting to sustain this egregious behavior, fine–but make them go on record.

    Which actually brings to mind a question–IS the Senate forced to act one way or the other if the House impeaches? Or can McConnell just let it die without taking action?

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This episode has left me with two observations:
    1 – It’s obvious, at this point, that we all vastly over-estimated Democrats ability to do their jobs, especially Speaker Pelosi.
    2 – It’s a tragedy that the Founders didn’t provide a mechanism, in the Constitution, to deal with a corrupt, senile, treasonous bastard that might somehow get himself elected to the White House.

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  18. Teve says:

    @Jen:

    Which actually brings to mind a question–IS the Senate forced to act one way or the other if the House impeaches? Or can McConnell just let it die without taking action?

    I’ve been wondering the same thing.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr:

    but I suspect there are a lot of vulnerable Republican senators who face serious trouble whichever way they vote.

    All 3 of them. Any Republican voting for trump’s conviction on the “totally fabricated charges” the DEM House “jammed thru” despite the “mountains of evidence” that trump is “absolutely positively completely innocent” would be slitting their political wrists.

    They don’t care about “the record”, because they have the “alternative record”. Just tune into RW talk radio, they’ll explain it all for you.

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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: @Teve: “Hold his beer. Watch this!” At this point, do you really think Republicans are going to be constrained by little things like laws or the constitution?

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  21. @Teve:

    The Constitution requires the Senate to hold a trial.

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  22. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think you’re falling into the Trump infallibility trap. Yes it’s true that his hardcore supporters will never turn on him. But there are a lot of Trump voters who aren’t part of the cult. The important statistic is not that 90% of self-identified Republicans worship Trump; it’s that the number of self-identifying Republicans keeps shrinking.

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  23. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    And if the House does impeach based on incontrovertible evidence of corruption and worse, every single Republican senator is going to have to go on the record as supporting or opposing corruption in high office.

    In principle, this is so. In practice, Trump’s partisans will believe whatever their media bubble tells them to believe. Which reduces the question to: is impeachment more likely to hurt or help Dennison’s reelection chances?

    So instead of following this developing story, I spent the weekend bingeing the rest of “Star Wars: Rebels.” The episodes that lead to the finale were pretty good. Next week, I expect I’ll binge Part 2 of Disenchantment.

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  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The House, if competent, would issue a notice of blanket immunity if the whistle-blower comes forward.

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  25. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kathy: Disenchantment is awesome. The Netflix kind, that is, not the real world kind we’re living in.

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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr:

    I think you’re falling into the Trump infallibility trap.

    I don’t think you know what infallibility means. Definition: the quality of being infallible; the inability to be wrong. Seeing as I’m not sure trump can be as right as a stopped clock, I am hardly in any kind trump infallibility trap.

    You’ve totally misinterpreted what I said. I was saying no Republican can get re/elected without Republican votes. As you yourself said, “90% of self-identified Republicans worship Trump;” They get their news from FOX and Rush etc.

    Pissing off 90% of your base is a sure way to end up in the private sector.

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  27. Kathy says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    If I hadn’t been in the middle of “Rebels,” I’d have binged “Disenchantment,” as the Part 2 eps dropped here last Friday.

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The Constitution requires the Senate to hold a trial.

    And I’m sure Moscow Mitch’s fear of the Constitution Police Force will drive him to comply fully and promptly. He’d never argue that norms are off in the last year of a term. Or less facetiously, Rs have seen that stonewalling even black letter legal requirements works.

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  29. Jen says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Thanks–and perhaps this is an interpretation that I’ve missed–but where in the Constitution does it *require* the Senate to act on an impeachment vote by the House?

    I’ve got my pocket Constitution in front of me, and it says that the Senate has the “sole Power to try all Impeachments,” (Article 1, Section 3) but doesn’t state that it must act if the House impeaches.

    I hate to parse things like this, but Sen. McConnell has shown that he feels he has considerable latitude in these things (see: Merrick Garland’s confirmation process), so I have near-zero confidence in being reassured that yes, the Constitution says the Senate must act.

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  30. Scott F. says:

    @Jen:
    I would think it in McConnell’s best interest to hold the Senate trial as quickly as possible after the House voted articles of impeachment. If not, the last word to the American public would be the House’s vote and not the Senate vote that in all likelihood wouldn’t convict Trump.

    Senate Republicans would have to go on record supporting Trump’s corruption, but that would better for the party brand than an impeachment that hasn’t been rebutted.

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  31. Kit says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It’s a tragedy that the Founders didn’t provide a mechanism, in the Constitution, to deal with a corrupt, senile, treasonous bastard that might somehow get himself elected to the White House.

    I’m certainty no expert, but I have the impression that the Founders reckoned that the system they were putting in place precluded the very possibility of such a man ever being elected. I’m thinking of the EC in particular, but also something of an elitist sentiment that runs through the idea of a republic over a more representative democracy. Could be wrong…

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  32. Jen says:

    @Scott F.: It would perhaps be in *McConnell’s* best interest to hold a Senate trial quickly, but I cannot see Sen. Collins, or Sen. Gardner, or even Sen. McSally being wild about casting a vote for Trump.

    A Senate trial would put them on record, with a vote that could be used in advertising and fundraising. But if McConnell just delays or ignores holding a Senate trial, the public would have to care about not adhering to Constitutional norms for almost a year–and it’s a lot harder to design an ad around “McConnell refused to hold a vote on this so Sen. X doesn’t deserve to be reelected” rather than “Sen. X voted to support Trump after he violated his oath of office.”

    I hate that I’ve become this cynical.

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  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kit:
    I was being sarcastic, obviously. The mechanism exists, but I DO NOT think the Founders envisioned both a corrupt Senate and an impotent House.

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  34. Teve says:

    @wr:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think you’re falling into the Trump infallibility trap. Yes it’s true that his hardcore supporters will never turn on him. But there are a lot of Trump voters who aren’t part of the cult. The important statistic is not that 90% of self-identified Republicans worship Trump; it’s that the number of self-identifying Republicans keeps shrinking.

    important point.

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  35. Moosebreath says:

    @Kit:

    It’s a tragedy that the Founders didn’t provide a mechanism, in the Constitution, to deal with a corrupt, senile, treasonous bastard that might somehow get himself elected to the White House.

    I’m certainty no expert, but I have the impression that the Founders reckoned that the system they were putting in place precluded the very possibility of such a man ever being elected. I’m thinking of the EC in particular, but also something of an elitist sentiment that runs through the idea of a republic over a more representative democracy.”

    Given the Founders’ generation suffered through a Constitutional crisis in 1800 as a result of Burr (who fits both the corrupt and the treasonous description, though not the senile one) getting the same number of electoral votes as Jefferson, I don’t think it worked out as well as they expected it to.

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  36. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Jen: Those Senators could vote to impeach. Since it requires a 2/3rd majority that I still see no possibility of getting, they might decide it would allow them to burnish their “moderate” credentials. Depends on who they fear most. For example, since Collins is unlikely to face a serious challenge from the right, and while she definitely won’t LIKE either choice, she might decide to show her independence. She’s really good at that (when it doesn’t matter).

    Personally, I’ve also come around to the impeach side of things, even though a conviction is impossible.

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  37. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    That’s my reading as well. I’m going to take a big leap and say it depends more on Senate rules than on the Constitution, if there are any rules about impeachment trials.

    In any event, the Majority Leader would have to be able to schedule a trail and vote, same as a court has to schedule trials. If so, the we can be sure Moscow Mitch will schedule it to his best advantage.

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  38. Teve says:

    @Kathy:
    @Doug Mataconis:

    if Mitch McConnell gets to schedule the trial is there anything preventing him from scheduling it for the year 2079?

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  39. michael reynolds says:

    Ah, it seems like only yesterday when I said that Trump was a traitor. And the general reaction was, There goes Michael, exaggerating. Eyeroll. Eyeroll.

    Now from Republican Bill Weld:

    “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election,” Weld said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It couldn’t be clearer, and that’s not just undermining democratic institutions. That is treason. It’s treason, pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death. That’s the only penalty.”

    “The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office, and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he could work out a plea deal,” added Weld, who appeared in a joint interview with two other Republicans challenging Trump, former congressmen Mark Sanford (S.C.). and Joe Walsh (Ill.).

    White House press secretary noncommittal about releasing transcript of Trump call with Ukrainian president

    Trump appeared to confirm Sunday as he spoke with reporters that he mentioned Joe and Hunter Biden in the phone call with Zelensky — though he insisted he has done nothing improper.

    Trump has repeatedly raised the specter of impropriety on the part of Biden, whose son Hunter was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that Trump pushed Zelensky to investigate, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The call with Zelensky is part of a whistleblower complaint that the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has been unwilling to turn over to Congress, a refusal that has rankled Democrats and heightened calls for impeaching Trump.

    Weld pointed out Monday that the Constitution calls for the removal of presidents for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” and argued that Trump has now met the most serious threshold.

    “We don’t have to worry about bribery any more, although I think he’s committed that,” Weld said. “We don’t have to worry about other high crimes and misdemeanors, although I think he’s committed many. He’s such a lawless man. We’ve got treason, and we don’t have to dribble around the court. We can go right for the hoop.”

    “It’s well past time for this guy … to be carted off to save us all,” Weld added.

    So, not that I’m keeping score, but allow me to revisit things I said about Trump three years ago that earned eyerolls for my extremism or exaggeration or whatever: That he is stupid. That he is an active head of a crime family. That he is owned by Putin. That he is for sale – see MBS. That he is incapable of empathy. That he is willfully ignorant. That he is a racist and a woman-hater. That he is weak. That he is a pathological liar. And most of all: that he would not grow into the office because he’s a one-trick pony.

    Everything I said about Trump has moved from over the top to conventional wisdom. He is stupid, he is ignorant, he is a liar, he is weak, he is a psychopath devoid of empathy, he is massively corrupt and yes, he is a TRAITOR. He literally – and roll your eyes all you like – he literally deserves the death penalty.

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  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The Founders did provide such a mechanism–it’s called “voters.”

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  41. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Sure…but the Founders didn’t expect interference in our elections by foreign entities, a corrupt President encouraging that interference, and a corrupt Senate refusing to do anything about that interference.
    Yeah…maybe he get’s voted out in 15 months. But what happens if the foreign interference works, again, and he doesn’t? And even if he does get the boot, what damage will he do to the Republic in the meantime? And what kind of damage will he do if he doesn’t get the boot? And if all this overtly corrupt activity is allowed to stand…what is to stop future Executives from behaving in the same exact manner?
    Seems like you are putting a lot of hope in an election, when he already stole one.

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  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: It’s also probable that the Founders never envisioned a voting pool as large as the one we have now. Expanding the franchise to people who don’t own real property or capital would seem to be a reach to this po’ ignint cracker–and don’t even get me start on expanding it to human property–both female and black.

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  43. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Among the many things we’ve said about Trump, the other thing that often gets lost in the shuffle when considering narcissists/sociopaths is that they are incapable of thinking about the future in a rational sense. They assume everything will go their way forever. If it doesn’t, they act as destructively as possible until others back off and they get their way. The worst is yet to come.

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  44. MarkedMan says:

    @wr:

    it’s that the number of self-identifying Republicans keeps shrinking.

    I wish this were true but I’ve checked two or three times since he was elected and the (admittedly noisy) data doesn’t show such a trend.

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  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I don’t have any hope for the nation at all. I’m just noting that the tools, however broken they are, exist and are in place.

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  46. Kathy says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I tend to agree.

    The worst possible ting that can happen in 2020 is for trump to win the election.

    The next worse thing is for him to lose, because I’m 99.999% certain he’ll claim massive fraud. I’m only 99% certain the GOP leadership will go along (it goes without saying his supporters will of course believe anything he claims), and make a huge mess of things.

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  47. Moosebreath says:

    What Digby said — the Ukrainian timeline is damning.

    The Administration has been trying to create a Biden scandal for months, including a Giuliani trip in May which was cancelled when word of it hit the papers, an actual meeting with Giuliani in June, meetings with Giuliani and Bolton in August, a cancelled Trump trip to Poland on August 29 which would have included a meeting with Zelensky, and a Pence meeting with Zelensky on September 1.

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  48. Teve says:

    I had an, um, spirited discussion about political matters with a friend this morning, and among other things he disagreed with my considered assessment that Ukrainegate, if true, represented “Nixonian levels of corruption.” In fact, he saw nothing wrong with it at all. It was just ordinary politics and he figured that presidents ask foreign leaders for favors like this all the time. Oh, and why did Joe Biden want to get rid of that prosecutor, anyway?

    What’s more, he said, this wasn’t nearly as bad as all the stuff Hillary did. Nor was it as bad as Obama promising “more flexibility” to the Russians on a hot mic. It was just more Democratic witch huntery, like Mueller all over again, who proved that Trump was innocent of obstruction of justice because you can only obstruct criminal investigations, not counterintelligence inquiries.

    I wasn’t even really mad about all this. Just depressed. This is what a big chunk of ordinary conservativedom thinks, and nothing is going to change it.

    It’s pretty clear at this point that Trump realizes the truth of what happened is likely to come out. So he’s doing what he usually does: preemptively declaring that there’s nothing wrong with it and getting the entire conservative machine to publicly agree with him. I don’t know if it will work, but if Trump did what we all think he did, then he has to be impeached. It doesn’t matter if it’s politically helpful or not. It doesn’t matter if the Senate is likely to convict. It has to be done, and Republicans have to be put on the record as either approving or disapproving of his conduct.

    -kevin drum

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  49. Gustopher says:

    We have gone from “it’s fake news” to “it isn’t a crime if the president does it” to “of course he talked about Biden, so what?” to “if there is no quid pro quo it wasn’t a problem” and will soon be on “it’s not treason unless we have declared war,” once the quid pro quo is admitted.

    So many of the defenses of this administration are roughly “he’s an ephebophile, not a pedophile,” treating tiny semantic differences as if they have great importance, and often lying about whether those semantic differences even exist.

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  50. An Interested Party says:

    I would think it in McConnell’s best interest to hold the Senate trial as quickly as possible after the House voted articles of impeachment. If not, the last word to the American public would be the House’s vote and not the Senate vote that in all likelihood wouldn’t convict Trump.

    Senate Republicans would have to go on record supporting Trump’s corruption, but that would better for the party brand than an impeachment that hasn’t been rebutted.

    A thousand times THIS…after an impeachment, Republicans will be put on the spot, either exposing their moderates to be forced to vote one way or the other (they can be painted as partisan rubber stamps if they vote no or primaried by hardcore Trumpists if they vote yes) or the caucus as a whole will be exposed as condoning high crimes committed by this president…

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  51. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m mentioning this just to preempt the trolls: “It depends on what the meaning of the word is is“.

    I honestly don’t recall how much of a defense that feeble distinction proved to be. I remember I didn’t take it seriously as one.

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  52. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    Drum: “What’s more, he said, this wasn’t nearly as bad as all the stuff Hillary did.”

    …and this is why we’re totally horked as a nation. The GOP disinformation machine worked; half of Americans are totally disconnected from reality AND blaming the libtards for it. There is no recovery from that level of brainwashing, short of having them die out over the next 50 years. In the meantime, we have to live with that schizoid sibling we can’t afford the treatments for. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t end well.

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  53. Teve says:

    In the end what made America last so long was that the stupid assholes were somewhat divided by geography and technology. Once talk radio, then Fox News, and finally the internet came along, the stupid assholes, and their cynical manipulators, could unite. It was like a racist dumbass Voltron. Even though they weren’t quite a majority, their powers of Derp proved to be overwhelming.

    RIP United States of America
    1776-Early 21st Century

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  54. Matt says:

    @Gustopher: So you see no difference between a 20 year old finding an 18 year old attractive (ephebophile) and that same 20 year old finding a 6 year old attractive (pedophilia)? There’s a gigantic different in my perspective and you might want to reconsider your “example”…

    The “cult45” as MR likes to call them don’t care about any of this. As Trump said he could shoot someone on the street and his fans will love him for it and make all kinds of excuses for it.

    Are there enough reasonable people left on the Republican side for anything to be done about this?

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  55. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jen, @Teve, et al,

    Re: McConnell delaying an impeachment trial, lawfareblog covered this in January. Their takeaway? Yup, a Senate Leader with considerable gumption can absolutely pass on a trial.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/can-senate-decline-try-impeachment-case

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