As usual, Trump comes up short on facts

With apologies to Netflix.

President Donald Trump muddled the facts Wednesday on America’s withdrawal from Syria and the conditions on the ground there, as he distanced himself and the U.S. from the ongoing Turkish invasion into Syria.

He suggested incorrectly that the Syrian Kurds who fought alongside U.S. forces against the Islamic State group deliberately released IS prisoners and wrongly said Americans have been in the Syria conflict for 10 years.

A look at his claims and the reality:

U.S. INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

TRUMP: “We were supposed to be in Syria for one month. That was 10 years ago.”

THE FACTS: Previous administrations never set a one-month timeline for U.S. involvement in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Syria in September 2014. About a year later, the Pentagon said that teams of special operations forces began going into Syria to conduct raids and start up efforts to partner with the Kurdish forces. Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter made it clear to Congress at that time that the Pentagon was ready to expand operations with the Kurds and would continue to do so as needed to battle IS, without setting a specific timeline for completion.

__

PRISON RELEASE

TRUMP: Speaking about IS detainees, Trump said: “People let some go. They opened a couple of doors to make us look as bad as possible.” Later he described the IS detainees as “people that probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact.”

THE FACTS: That’s an exaggeration. There is no evidence that Kurdish forces, who fought IS for years with U.S. and coalition troops, deliberately opened prison doors to let militants out.

According to U.S. and defense officials, fewer than 100 prisoners have escaped and Kurdish fighters are still guarding the prisons. Officials say that some of the Kurdish forces have moved north to fight the invading Turks, but many remain to secure the prisons, which hold about 2,000 foreign fighters and another 10,000 Iraqis and Syrians who fought with IS. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe ongoing military operations.

__

LEAVING SYRIA

TRUMP: “Our soldiers are mostly gone from the area.”

THE FACTS: They’re actually mostly still there.

Trump is correct that close to 30 U.S. troops moved out of two outposts near the border area where the Turkish attack was initially centered. But the bulk of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops deployed to Syria are still in the country.

According to officials, most of the U.S. troops have largely been consolidated into two locations in the north, including an airfield facility in the western part of the country known as the Kobani landing zone. A small number of troops left in recent days with military equipment, and more recently the withdrawal of forces began but so far not in large numbers. Officials say the withdrawal will take weeks.

__

COMING HOME

TRUMP: “It’s time to bring our soldiers back home.”

THE FACTS: Despite what Trump suggests, American forces in Syria won’t be returning home in mass numbers anytime soon.

While the U.S. has begun what the Pentagon calls a deliberate withdrawal of troops from Syria, Trump himself has said that the 200-300 U.S. forces deployed to a southern Syria outpost in Al-Tanf will remain there. Also, while the U.S. forces are leaving Syria, that doesn’t mean they are automatically coming home. Instead, military officials are developing plans to station U.S. forces in nearby locations, including Iraq and possibly Jordan, where they will still be able to monitor and, if needed, continue to conduct operations against IS.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Dems walk out on Trump, House condemns troop withdrawal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speak with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washing his hands of Syria, President Donald Trump declared Wednesday the U.S. has no stake in supporting the Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as U.S. partners against IS extremists. Hours later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats walked out of a meeting at the White House, accusing him of having a “meltdown,” calling her a “third-rate politician” and having no plan to deal with a potentially revived Islamic State group.

Condemnation of Trump’s stance on Turkey, Syria and the Kurds was quick and severe during the day, not only from Democrats but from Republicans who have been staunch supporters on virtually all issues.

The House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal. Many lawmakers expressed worry that it may lead to revival of IS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area — in addition to the slaughter of many Kurds.

At the White House, Trump said the U.S. has no business in the region — and not to worry about the Kurdish fighters.

“They know how to fight,” he said. “And by the way, they’re no angels.”

After the House condemnation vote, the congressional leaders of both parties went to the White house for a briefing, which grew contentious, with Trump and Pelosi trading jabs. The Democrats said they walked out when the meeting devolved into an insult-fest.

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown,” Pelosi told reporters, saying Trump appeared visibly “shaken up” over the House vote.

“We couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it,” she said.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump for not having an adequate plan to deal with IS fighters who have been held by the Kurds. He said the meeting “was not a dialogue, this was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts.”

Republicans pushed back, saying it was Pelosi who’d been the problem.

“She storms out of another meeting, trying to make it unproductive,” said House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham called Pelosi’s action “baffling but not surprising.” She said the speaker “had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues.”

Trump himself famously stormed out of a meeting with congressional leaders during the partial government shutdown last January.

In public appearances Wednesday, Trump said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to bring U.S. troops home from “endless wars” in the Middle East — casting aside criticism that a sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria betrays the Kurdish fighters, stains U.S. credibility around the world and opens an important region to Russia, which is moving in.

“We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. Syria’s not happy about it. Let them work it out,” Trump said. “They have a problem at a border. It’s not our border. We shouldn’t be losing lives over it.”

Trump said he was sending Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara to urge the Turks to halt their weeklong offensive into northeastern Syria. But his remarks, first to reporters in the Oval Office and later at a news conference with his Italian counterpart, suggested he sees little at stake for America.

“Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So, there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.”

“Let them fight their own wars.”

More than once, Trump suggested the United States has little concern in the Middle East because it is geographically distant — a notion shared by some prior to Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida militants used Afghanistan as a base from which to attack the U.S. That attack set off a series of armed conflicts, including in Iraq, that Trump considers a waste of American lives and treasure.

But Republicans, too, made their concerns clear.

The current withdrawal is the worst decision of Trump’s presidency, said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who meets often with the president and is one of his strongest and most important supporters in Congress.

“To those who think the Mideast doesn’t matter to America, remember 9/11 — we had that same attitude on 9/10 2001.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he strongly disagreed with Trump and had told the president so. But he asked, “What tools do we have” to back up that disagreement?

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told reporters he didn’t know what could be done to undo the harm he felt was resulting.

“There are some mistakes that are not easy to reverse. And there are some that are irreversible,” said Rubio, who was a Trump rival for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants to create a 30-kilometer (20-mile) -deep “safe zone” in Syria.

Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.

Trump mischaracterized the progress made thus far by the U.S. military in carrying out his instructions to withdraw all 1,000 troops in northeastern Syria. He referred to the approximately two dozen soldiers who evacuated from Turkey’s initial attack zone last week, but cast that as meaning the U.S. has “largely” completed its pullout.

A U.S. official familiar with planning for the withdrawal of the 1,000 said that they are consolidating onto two main bases but have not yet begun flying out of Syria in significant numbers. Military equipment is being gathered and flown out, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the withdrawal, which poses big security risks.

Trump downplayed the crisis that followed his decision to pull out of Syria, which critics say amounted to giving Turkey a green light to invade against the Kurdish fighters.

“It’s not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like you to believe,” Trump said, adding that he’s more than willing to let adversaries fight it out in that area of the Middle East.

In the meantime, he said, “Our soldiers are not in harm’s way, as they shouldn’t be.”

Trump did impose new sanctions on Turkey this week in an attempt to force Erdogan to end his assault. But he said Wednesday, “It’s time for us to come home.”

Even as Trump defended his removal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, he praised his decision to send more troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom defend against Iran.

Trump said the U.S. is sending missiles and “great power” to the Saudis, and “they’re paying for that.”

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

State Dept. aides reveal unease with Trump

Michael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, to testify before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The House impeachment inquiry is exposing new details about unease in the State Department and White House about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and those of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

One witness said it appeared “three amigos” tied to the White House had taken over foreign policy. Another quoted national security adviser John Bolton as calling Giuliani a “hand grenade” for his back-channel efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.

On Wednesday, a former aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived to speak to the House impeachment panels behind closed doors. Michael McKinley, who resigned last week, is a career foreign service officer and was Pompeo’s de facto chief of staff.

He is expected to discuss concerns held by career State Department officials about the treatment of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and others who worked on the Ukraine portfolio, according to a person familiar with his testimony. A Latin America specialist, McKinley wasn’t directly involved in Ukraine policy, but as a senior adviser to Pompeo was generally aware of the situation, the person said.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters outside the closed-door hearing that McKinley was complimentary about Pompeo’s role but did raise other issues.
ratio

“I think most of this is a concern by a colleague for an ambassador that he held in high regard,” said Meadows said, declining to provide more details of the closed session.

McKinley was expected to talk about demoralization in the ranks of career foreign service officers and what many have lamented as the politicization of the once-apolitical bureaucracy, according to the person, who was granted anonymity to speak about his remarks.

The 37-year veteran of the diplomatic corps was known to be unhappy with the state of affairs although his farewell note to colleagues mentioned nothing about the reason for his departure other than it was a “personal decision.”

Another key figure in the impeachment investigation, special envoy Kurt Volker, returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. He and his lawyer were to review the transcript of his Oct. 3 testimony to investigators, according to a person familiar with his appearance who was not authorized to discuss it. Republicans say all the transcripts from the investigation should be released to the public.

Volker provided text messages to lawmakers that revealed an effort at the State Department to push Ukraine’s leader into opening an investigation of the gas company Burisma, connected to Joe Biden’s son, in return for a visit with Trump.

That effort soon escalated into what one diplomat feared was a quid pro quo for U.S. military aid. Trump has denied that, saying assistance to Ukraine was delayed to pressure the country into addressing corruption.

The testimony so far from the witnesses, mainly officials from the State Department and other foreign policy posts, is largely corroborating the account of the government whistleblower whose complaint first sparked the impeachment inquiry, according to lawmakers attending the closed-door interviews.

Trump’s July 25 phone call in which he pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate the Bidens is at the center of the Democrats’ inquiry.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite intensifying calls from Trump and Republicans to hold a formal vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, showed no indication she would do so. She said Congress will continue its investigation as part of the Constitution’s system of checks and balances of the executive.

“This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious. We’re on a path that is taking us, a path to the truth,” Pelosi told reporters after a closed-door session with House Democrats.

Democratic leaders had been gauging support for a vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry after Trump and Republicans pushed them for a roll call. Holding a vote would test politically vulnerable Democrats in areas where the Republican president is popular.

Trump calls the impeachment inquiry an “illegitimate process” and is blocking officials from cooperating.

Trump and congressional leaders will be meeting later Wednesday at the White House on other matters.

The inquiry is moving quickly as a steady stream of officials appears behind closed doors this week, some providing new revelations about the events surrounding the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. It is on that call that Trump urged Zelenskiy to investigate a firm tied to political rival Joe Biden’s family and Ukraine’s own involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the Intelligence Committee overseeing the probe, has praised the State Department officials for stepping forward, under subpoena, to shed light on the matter.

“We have learned much of this thanks to the courageous testimony of the State Department officials who have been put in an impossible situation by the administration,” which is urging them not to comply with requests to testify to Congress, he said. “They are doing their duty.”

Career State Department official George Kent testified Tuesday he was told by administration officials to “lay low” on Ukraine as “three amigos” tied to the White House took over U.S. foreign policy toward the Eastern European ally.

Kent was concerned about the “fake news smear” against Yovanovitch, whom Trump recalled in May, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

Kent told the lawmakers that he “found himself outside a parallel process” and had warned others about Giuliani as far back as March. He felt the shadow diplomacy was undermining decades of foreign policy and the rule of law in Ukraine and that was “wrong,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Connolly said Kent described a May 23 meeting at the White House, organized by Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, where three administration officials — U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — declared themselves the people now responsible for Ukraine policy.

“They called themselves the three amigos,” Connolly said Kent testified.

Kent also told them that Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney previously led, was holding up military aid to Ukraine while pressing Zelenskiy to investigate a company linked to Biden’s son.

___

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker, Matthew Lee, Padmananda Rama, Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in Dallas contributed to this report.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Trump defends walking away from Kurds

U.S. and Kurdish flags flutter in the wind while displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross the Syria-Iraq border
(AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

Washing his hands of America’s presence in Syria, President Donald Trump declared Wednesday the U.S. has no stake in supporting the Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as U.S. partners against Islamic State extremists.

Condemnation of his stance was quick and severe, not only from Democrats but from Republicans who have been staunch Trump supporters on virtually all issues.

The House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal. Many lawmakers expressed worry that it may lead to revival of IS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area — in addition to slaughter of many Kurds.

At the White House, Trump said the U.S. has no business in the region — and not to worry about the Kurdish fighters.

“They know how to fight,” he said. “And by the way, they’re no angels.”

Trump said he is fulfilling a campaign promise to bring U.S. troops home from “endless wars” in the Middle East — casting aside criticism that a sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria not only betrays the Kurdish fighters but stains U.S. credibility around the world and opens an important region to Russia, which is moving in.
ratio

“We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. Syria’s not happy about it. Let them work it out,” Trump said. “They have a problem at a border. It’s not our border. We shouldn’t be losing lives over it.”

Trump said he was sending Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara to urge the Turks to halt their weeklong offensive into northeastern Syria. But his remarks, first to reporters in the Oval Office and later at a news conference with his Italian counterpart, suggested he sees little at stake for America.

“Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So, there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.”

“Let them fight their own wars.”

More than once, Trump suggested the United States has little at stake in the Middle East because it is geographically distant — a notion shared by some prior to Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida militants used Afghanistan as a base from which to attack the U.S. That attack set off a series of armed conflicts, including in Iraq, that Trump considers a waste of American lives and treasure.

The current withdrawal is the worst decision of Trump’s presidency, said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who meets often with the president and is one of his strongest and most important supporters in Congress.

“To those who think the Mideast doesn’t matter to America, remember 9/11 — we had that same attitude on 9/10 2001.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he strongly disagreed with Trump and had told the president so. But he asked, “What tools do we have” to back up that disagreement?

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told reporters he didn’t know what could be done to undo the harm he felt was resulting.

“There are some mistakes that are not easy to reverse. And there are some that are irreversible,” said Rubio, who was a Trump rival for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants to create a 30-kilometer (20-mile) -deep “safe zone” in Syria.

Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.

Trump mischaracterized the progress made thus far by the U.S. military in carrying out his instructions to withdraw all 1,000 troops in northeastern Syria. He referred to the approximately two dozen soldiers who evacuated from Turkey’s initial attack zone last week, but cast that as meaning the U.S. has “largely” completed its pullout.

A U.S. official familiar with planning for the withdrawal of the 1,000 said that they are consolidating onto two main bases but have not yet begun flying out of Syria in significant numbers. Military equipment is being gathered and flown out, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the withdrawal, which poses big security risks.

Trump downplayed the crisis that followed his decision to pull out of Syria, which critics say amounted to giving Turkey a green light to invade against the Kurdish fighters.

“It’s not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like you to believe,” Trump said, adding that he’s more than willing to let adversaries fight it out in that area of the Middle East.

In the meantime, he said, “Our soldiers are not in harm’s way, as they shouldn’t be.”

Trump did impose new sanctions on Turkey this week in an attempt to force Erdogan to end his assault. But he said Wednesday, “It’s time for us to come home.”

Even as Trump defended his removal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, he praised his decision to send more troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom defend against Iran.

Trump said the U.S. is sending missiles and “great power” to the Saudis, and “they’re paying for that.”

___

AP writers Alan Fram, Darlene Superville and Ellen Knickmeyer contributed.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Trump’s traitorous actions to abandon allies in battle

The increasingly incompetent, ignorant and immoral actions by the corrupt president Donald Trump in Syria finalizes his efforts to destroy America’s foreign policy and turn the nation’s back on its allies.

Editorialized The Washington Post Monday:

Until now, it was possible to hope that the damage caused by President Trump’s terrible incompetence, ignorance and impulsivity in foreign policy was largely theoretical, and possibly reparable. That is no longer true. The cost of his latest Syria blunder is unfolding before our eyes: Innocent lives lost. U.S. servicemen and -women betrayed. Butchering dictators emboldened. Dangerous terrorists set free. A ghastly scene is playing out, and it almost surely will get worse.

Mr. Trump — with no consideration, no warning, no consultation with allies, no regard for the other nations that have fought alongside the United States and risked their men and women in the fight — has turned tail. In the past two years, courageous U.S. troops cooperated with our Kurdish allies to defeat the deadly Islamic State caliphate. These allies lost more than 11,000 men and women killed; the United States, a dozen. It was a rare U.S. success in the Middle East.

The president has thrown it all away. His surrender is so hasty that U.S. forces could not execute a long-standing plan to take dozens of high-profile Islamic State detainees with them; we can expect to hear from those terrorists before long, in the region, in Europe or in the United States. The Islamic State is likely to exert its malign force again. The allies who fought alongside us are being slaughtered, and noncombatant women and children, too. Iran is strengthened, which threatens Israel. The murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is strengthened, too. Russia is taking charge. America’s adversaries could not have scripted a better outcome.

In Syria, U.S. soldiers ordered to pack up and leave calls the order “a dagger to the heart to walk away from people who shed blood for us.”

“It will go down in infamy,” an Army officer who served in the Syria campaign told David Ignatius, who covered the efforts in Syria for The Post. “This will go down as a stain on the American reputation for decades.”

“What do these American soldiers feel as they watch Trump retreat from the Syrian battlefield and leave their former comrades to die? They feel sick,” Ignatius writes.

“For these soldiers, abandoning an ally on the battlefield is about the worst thing that can happen,” he adds.

To make matters worse, the orders to pull out come from a disgraced president who allies himself with vicious dictators who are enemies of the United States.

In other words, the actions of a traitor who betrayed the Constitution, the nation and the allies who trusted us.

A traitor named Donald John Trump.

____________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

 

 

What if Trump wants to be thrown out?

Trump exits stage right.

Consider this:  Donald Trump may not want to remain president of the United States, and he privately hopes impeachment removes him from office before the 2020 election hands him the one thing he cannot abide:  A loss.

Losing is alien to Trump’s massive ego. Even when he loses, he claims a win.

But removal from office by Congress give him a platform upon which he can start a new, Trump-praising cable TV news service, and use it to build more power as a dissident.

Impossible? Maybe not.

Nancy Gibbs, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, suggests just such a scenario.

She writes:

What if the president wants out? There’s much about the job he never liked, which is one reason he spends so much time watching TV rather than actually doing it. Under normal circumstances, it involves any number of things he once avoided; shaking hands with germy people, being talked at by experts who know more than he, sitting still for extended periods, being criticized no matter what he does, empathizing — all important parts of the job. He has gone to considerable lengths to reshape the role, fired the experts, cleared his schedule, kept up his golf game … but still. The campaigning was fun, but the best evidence of how little he likes presiding is how seldom he’s actually done it.

Trump escapes the frustration of failing to accomplish his agenda by not having ever had one, beyond his continued exaltation. He could count this moment as a high point: record-low unemployment, still soaring stock markets, judicial transformation. It’s easy to imagine it’s all downhill — and fast — from here. His confidence in his supreme wisdom leads him to make even reckless decisions, such as his abandonment of America’s trust with its Kurdish partners, with no evidence of regret or remorse other than disliking the criticism for doing it. But ever since the Ukraine scandal erupted, his rage-tweeting and Wagnerian self-pity suggest that the incoming fire for his misconduct, occasionally even from his defenders and enablers, has made these days even less fun than usual.

All of which raises the question: the release of the Ukraine information, the double-dare-you defiance of congressional oversight, the sellout in Syria, even the rising profanity of his Twitter stream each seem expertly suited to inflaming one constituency or another, and not just the people who have loathed him from Day One. The polls are moving for a reason: Republicans and independents, even those serving in Congress, may not agree where the line is, but they know there’s one somewhere, and it does not involve a shooting on Fifth Avenue.

Consciously or not, might he conclude that impeachment and removal is his least bad option for escaping the “great white jail”? Resigning is out; that’s for quitters. Defeat in 2020 is worse; losing is for losers. But being impeached and removed from office is the one outcome that preserves at least some ability to denounce the deep state and the quislings in the Senate who stabbed him in the back, maintain his bond with his tribe, depart the capital and launch a media business to compete with the ever more flaccid Fox News. (This all presumes that President Pence pardons him, for which there’s some precedent.) Impeachment lets him go down fighting, and he will call it rigged and unfair and illegitimate and a coup, all of which would be harder if the verdict was rendered next November by millions of voters.

Gibbs, a former managing editor at Time magazine, says we should look for signs that Trump want out.  If we see Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump leave Washington and return to Manhattan would be a big sign.  Trump renaming Reagan National Airport after himself is another (which fits into Trump’s massive ego and one to piss off the Republicans who still kowtow to him) is another.

She concludes:

When you think about it, with a choice of bad options, impeachment doesn’t look so bad, and gets you home to your gilded tower sooner. Assuming, that is, that you don’t think you can just burn the Constitution to the ground and be the last one standing.

Oh, we can dream.

____________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

 

Donald Trump is killing America

America: Drowning in Donald Trump’s toxic swamp. (Image: Mr. Fish/Truthdig)

America today can best be described as a floundering, drowning whale.

Under the control of a debased, corrupt Donald Trump, the con man who claimed he would “make America great again,” the once land of the free and home of the brave has become the toxic swamp of a madman, wannabe dictator who plunders and loots at will.

The mentally-challenged half-child who calls others “enemies of the people” should be talking about himself.

No president in the history of this once-great nation has lied so openly, so blatantly ignored both the norms and the legalities of his office or turned the White House into a mob-central with a sole purpose of serving his ego or the wallets of his family.

And he continues to plunder and pillage under the protection of a emasculated Republican party that controls the Senate and serves his impulses with no regard for the nation it is supposed to serve.

Trump is served by equally corrupt GOP leaders like “Moscow Mitch” McConnell in the Senate . Kevin McCarthy in the House and others like supportive traitors like Lindsey Graham.

A few Republicans — too damn few — have seen the light.

Former Congressman Joe Walsh, now a long-shot primary candidate for the GOP nomination for Trump’s job, calls Trump a traitor.

“I’m running against President Trump because he’s unfit and a clear and present danger to this country,” Walsh says. “There’s no way in hell I would vote for him in November. The election is about Trump, period.”

Sadly, Walsh was not much a Congressman, just like Anthony Scaramucci wasn’t much of a White House Communications Director during his brief time on the job, but even he now considers Trump a traitor.

“The American president is a traitor to the United States. He is literally the most un-American president that we’ve had probably since Andrew Johnson,” Scaramucci said on CNN.

He adds:

I would have thought that the leadership in the Congress would have broken by now, the Republican leadership in the Congress. Where is the leadership?”

Where indeed. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, now Utah’s Senator, supports the impeachment inquiry, but has not said if he supports impeachment itself.  The is enough for Trump to attack Romney.

Trump calls  Romney a “pompous ‘ass,’” who is “so bad for Rs.”  Romney is said to be among at least 10 Republicans who are learning towards impeachment — less than half of the number needed in the Senate.

The Democratic leadership of the House is in the beginning stages of impeachment proceedings against Trump, something long overdue.  Trump’s attempts to recruit the president of Ukraine to help his re-election efforts brought a formal “whistleblower” complaint started the impeachment outcry.

Involvement in Ukraine brought down former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort election and sparked the Special Counsel investigation of Russia’s involvement in helping Trump win the disputed election where challenger Hillary Clinton won the majority of the vote by a record three million ballot margin but lost in the Electoral College, where gerrymandered district overrides the wishes of voters.

Now, two Ukrainian-born clients of Trump’s equally-corrupt attorney Rudy Giuliani, were arrested as they attempted to flee the U.S. after federal investigators found they were violating campaign finance laws.  Those same prosecutors are investigating Giuliani as well.

Trump’s involvement in Ukraine is a tawdry part of his failed foreign policy.  Michelle Goldberg writes in The New York Times:

If America can be said to have a foreign policy at this debased stage of the Trump administration, it mostly consists of sucking up to strongmen while betraying everyone who ever believed in America’s putative ideals. Trump has given Turkey his blessing to assault the Syrian Kurds, America’s crucial allies against ISIS. In June, he reportedly promised China that he wouldn’t speak out in favor of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, some of whom have been carrying American flags, as long as trade talks progressed.

Here in Ukraine, a country locked in a proxy war with Russia, coping with a deluge of disinformation and propaganda and struggling to transcend a history of corruption, reformers are trying to figure out what it means when the American president sides against them.

Pro-Western reformers, the Ukrainian philosopher Volodymyr Yermolenko told me, had seen the United States as a “a perfect democracy functioning very well,” with an admirable system of checks and balances. “And now this image is crumbling and that’s very dangerous.”

Sadly, that perception is correct. America itself is crumbling and Donald John Trump is the destroyer of what once was a great nation.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Mental health pros confirm: Trump ‘mentally unfit’

Donald Trump: Mentally unfit.

Three mental health professionals say, without hesitation, America’s questionable president, Donald John Trump, “is mentally unfit” and add that no further exam is needed to prove their point.

Leonard L. Glass, professor at Harvard Medical School, Brandy X. Lee of Yale School of Medicine and Edwin B. Fisher of Global Public Health of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, wrote “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” two years ago and issued a new statement this week reconfirming their findings.

They say:

As mental health professionals, we have felt a duty to address a public health crisis: a mentally unfit person in charge of the world’s most powerful military and its nuclear weapons. We have found ample evidence of his instability and grandiosity in the president’s own words and public statements, most recently confirmed in his referring to “my great and unmatched wisdom,” coupled with yet another threat to “totally destroy and obliterate” a foreign country.

They add:

Mr. Trump’s now familiar affinity for violence is manifest in his verbal threats and his incitement to violence at his rallies. He reacts viscerally and without reflection or consultation, now claiming “treason” and an attempted “coup.” As he confronts the humiliating prospect of impeachment, his psychological deterioration represents a clear and imminent risk.

And they conclude:

Our observations are not “diagnosing” and do not refer to mental illness; rather, they speak to a lack of fitness that can be determined based on sufficient sources outside of a personal examination.

Those who witness the unstable actions of Trump in recent weeks, and his fits of insanity, should agree.

The man is a lunatic who must be removed from office.  He has destroyed the democratic republic of America, turned our nation into a laughingstock around the world, and presides over a disturbing maniacal monarchy that should be alien to all Americans who adhere to a Constitution that is being shredded and ignored.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

 

Trump lies, screams, rants again

Donald Trump. (Jim Mone/AP)

The vile, corrupt, angry, coarse Donald Trump appeared in full, disgusting display Thursday night at a rally in front of his dwindling “core” of supporters in Minneapolis.

In just three minutes, he churned out five major lies as his pitiful defense of his impeachable actions against the Constitution, the nation and its people.

He told his remaining rabid — and clueless — “fans” that Joe Biden “as only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” That, of course, brought raucous cheers from the racists who dominate his base.

His displays of outright bigotry included attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Somali-American in Congress.

Trump also mocked Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress.

“How hell did that ever happen?” he said of her election, adding: “Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.”

Rep Omar is a frequent target of a bigot like Trump.  Earlier this year, he included her in an attack on four minority Democratic female members of Congress, saying they all should “to back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

When Elaine Duke was acting director of homeland security, Trump screamed at for not doing more to “ban refugees from fucking Somalia.”

He ignored that all four of the women are American citizens and three of them were born in the United States.

Trump’s tone at the rally in Minneapolis brought outcries from social media.

“This is the kind hate rally ween in authoritarian and fascist countries,” posted Elad Nehori. “We Jews have seen this before, as have countless other minorities.”

And speaking of “totally broken and crime-infested places,” that description could easily describe Washington, DC, which is ever more so since Trump became this nation’s accidental president and Manhattan, which he is from.

Trump tirades came as more and more facts emerge on his corruption and the criminal actions of his administration.  We’ve learned how he tried to get former Secretary of State Tex Tillerson to “intervene” in Ukrainian prosecution of an ally of his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“The modern day Hitler,” said Mara McEwin  on Twitter.  The red shirts, rec caps are the new brown shirts.  Truly terrifying.”

“The special hate that Trump and the alt-right have for Somalis, above and beyond all other immigrant groups, has always fascinated and disgusted me,” posted Noah Smith.

Erin Maye Quade, a former Minnesota state rep, notes that Trump supporters bombed a mosque in Bloomington, MN, made death threats against a member of the Minnesota Congressional delegation and mailed bombs to Democrats.

“Many elected officials (with Somali constituents) were in attendance tonight,” she adds. “They should be asked about this.”

A lot of people should also be asked why they elected such a vile, despicable degenerate for president.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

 

Trump: ‘I’m above the law. You cannot impeach me’

President Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock)

President Donald Trump Tuesday declared himself above the law and is refusing to cooperate or even acknowledge the impeachment inquiry by the Congressional House or Representatives.

“To fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone claimed in a scathing eight-page letter to top congressional Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is not surprise or deterred by Trump’s latest antics.

“The White House should be warned that 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,” Pelosi’s response said in a statement. “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”

Trump’s actions come as new polls show growing support for the impeachment inquiry.  A new poll from Washington Post-School says a clear majority of Americans now endorse the decision by House Democrats and close to half of all adults say Congress should move to remove Trump from office.

Legal scholars note that the letter from the White House counsel “lacks substantive legal arguments” and repeats Trump’s “political broadsides” instead of valid claims.  House Democrats say his failure to comply with the legal requests for information bolsters their case for at least one article of impeachment.

Trump’s latest actions come just a week he promised to cooperate with the inquiry.

“I always cooperate,” he said.  “We’ll work together.”

Instead, the White House blocked an appearance Tuesday of Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, to testify on the impeachment inquiry.

The White House has put “a full halt” on any cooperation.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify,” the president wrote on Twitter Tuesday, “but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away.”

House leaders responded with a subpoena ordering Sondland to appear next week and turn over documents they are seeking.

“The president is obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need,” Pelosi told reporters. “It is an abuse of power for him to act in this way.”

Text messages provided to Congress last week shows Sondland worked with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani on a statement for the president of Ukraine committing to an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden while Trump was holding up $391 million in security aid to the country as leverage.

That effort led to the top American diplomat based in Ukraine to question Trump’s actions.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” William B. Taylor Jr., the diplomat, wrote in early September.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin later told The Wall Street Journal that Sondland confirmed to him that release of the aid was contingent upon Ukraine opening the investigation of Biden.

Robert Luskin, Sondland’s lawyer, said Tuesday that his client, as a State Department employee had to comply with Trump’s demand that he not testify, but added that Sondland was “profoundly disappointed” that he not allowed to appear and promised he would do o “in the future if allowed.”

“We were looking forward to hearing from Ambassador Sondland,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, top Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee.

Legal experts say Trump is on thin ice by trying to block what is considered a legal Congressional impeachment inquiry.

“I think the goal of this letter is to further inflame the president’s supporters and attempt to delegitimize the process in the eyes of his supporters,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, tells The Associated Press.  “It does not strike me as an effort to provide sober legal analysis.”

Philadelphia attorney Gregg Nunziata calls the White House letter a “direct assault on the very legitimacy of Congress’ oversight authority.”

“The Founders very deliberately chose to put the impeachment power in a political branch rather the Supreme Court,” Nunziata told The Associated Press. “They wanted this to be a political process and it is.”

University of Louisiana political science professor G. Pearson Cross calls the latter “an accelerant on a smoldering fire.”

“It’s a response that seems to welcome a constitutional crisis rather than defusing one or pointing toward some strategy that would deescalate the situation,” Cross added.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue