• Rick Perry Gets Subpoenaed
• Fox News Poll: 51% of Voters Want Trump Impeached and Convicted
• Seventeen of the Watergate Prosecutors Want to See Trump Impeached
• Trump Lambastes Jeff Sessions
• Steyer Pulls in a $2 Million Haul in Q3
• Gabbard Goes Full Sour Grapes
• Shimkus Dumps Trump
• Rep. Nita Lowey Will Retire
No, Bernie Kerik is not back to his old ways. It's worse. It's two guys who were working with Rudy Giuliani on the Ukraine-Biden-dirt project. They were arrested for violating campaign-finance laws and more. Both were subpoenaed to show up before House committees this week. It was unlikely that they would have done so even if they hadn't been arrested, but now it is certain that they won't show up, since they are going to be confined to house arrest in Florida after posting $1 million bail each.
The two men are both foreign born. Lev Parnas was born in Ukraine. Igor Fruman was born in Belarus. Both are executives of a South Florida energy company that donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC last year, two days after receiving a wire transfer of $1.26 million from a lawyer who specializes in helping foreigners buy U.S. property. Foreign nationals are not allowed to make donations to super PACs, not even if there is a straw man in between them and the super PAC. The pair also made donations to a congressman, most likely former representative Pete Sessions of Texas, but the way they did it was illegal. In addition, they (and two others) operated as straw men in an effort to funnel Russian money to Nevada state politicians from whom they wanted a "favor."
The two men were doing something with a Ukrainian natural gas company, even though they and their company have no expertise in natural gas. In fact, it appears to be a shell company with no business operations at all. So, the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan smelled something fishy.
Another thing the men did was work to get the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Masha Yovanovitch, fired, presumably because she was not happy with their dirt-gathering project and most likely tried to stop them. If and when Yovanovitch testifies to Congress, no doubt she will shed more light on the subject. She was scheduled to appear before Congress today, but no doubt the administration is going to try to move heaven and earth to stop her. It can order her not to, but short of physically arresting her, it can't stop her if she really wants to.
At the time the men were arrested, they were leaving Washington Dulles Airport with one-way international tickets. It wasn't reported where they were going, although some rumors said it was to Europe. However, they may merely have had a change of planes there.
Donald Trump, for his part, insists that he does not know either of these men. When it was pointed out that there are photos of him posing with them, he stammered a bit, and then said that he takes photos with a lot of people. We shall see how well that story holds up, though it's a tad bit difficult to believe that Trump really had no awareness of two people who were so close to maneuvering that he was monitoring closely. At the very least, there is significant irony that he and Giuliani were trying to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden's alleged corrupt connections to a Ukrainian natural gas company, and so they engaged the services of two men with alleged corrupt connections to a (different) Ukrainian natural gas company.
If Parnas and Fruman are ultimately hauled before Congress, they could no doubt tell the committees what Giuliani is up to in Ukraine, but it would be very surprising if they did. Since they have been indicted, most likely they will plead the Fifth Amendment and under the table cross their fingers and hope for pardons. This story is far from over, but it is definitely not a third-rate burglary. It's much bigger. (V & Z)
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is involved in the Ukraine story in ways that aren't clear yet. Inquiring minds want to know what his role was in pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to find or manufacture dirt on Joe Biden. Among those inquiring minds are those of House committee chairs Adam Schiff (D-CA, Intelligence), Elijah Cummings (D-MA, Oversight), and Eliot Engel (D-NY, Foreign Affairs). To encourage Perry to share what he knows with them, they issued subpoenas yesterday for some Ukraine-related documents.
It is very unlikely that Perry will comply short of a court order, and maybe not even then. Donald Trump has basically announced that no one in his administration will cooperate with House Democrats. Although there have been rumors that Perry wants to leave his post, at the moment he is still a cabinet official and is not going to cross Trump.
One item that the committee chairs are probably interested in is whether the rumors that Perry is the one who asked Trump to call Zelensky are true, and if so, what he expected the agenda to be. Also of interest is whether Perry was involved in the dirt-finding expedition in Ukraine or was merely concerned with energy issues, such as getting Ukraine to buy more American LNG. In the long run, the chairs may find out, but probably not in the short run. (V)
A new Fox News poll shows that 51% of registered voters want Donald Trump impeached and removed from office. Another 4% want him impeached but not convicted (maybe to teach him a lesson?). Compared to Fox's July poll, Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all more inclined toward impeachment and conviction.
How did Trump react to the poll? If you guessed "not well," you can pat yourself on the back. Here's what he had to say:
From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days. With people like Andrew Napolitano, who wanted to be a Supreme....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019
So Trump is now going after Fox? Looks that way. Fox's polling is probably legitimate. It is conducted jointly by Beacon Research, a Democratic firm, and Shaw & Co., a Republican firm. The news operation is reasonably separate from the opinion operation at the network, so it is not surprising that the Fox opinion side has barely mentioned it. And it's not true that Fox has never had a good poll for Trump. For example, in January 2016, Fox had him leading in the Iowa Caucuses.
The poll also asked about who and what people see favorably. Some surprising results (for a Fox news poll): more people see The Democratic Party favorably than see Donald Trump as favorable, and Hillary Clinton edges out Vice President Mike Pence. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) edges out Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and both edge out AG William Barr. (V)
Seventeen of the prosecutors who worked on the Watergate case, including the lead prosecutor, Richard Ben-Veniste, have written an op-ed in the Washington Post stating that there is already more than enough public evidence that Donald Trump has committed the high crimes and misdemeanors the Constitution requires for impeaching a president. They say the evidence consists of these general items:
- Statements Trump has made himself
- The findings in the Mueller report
- The summary of Trump's call to Volodymyr Zelensky
- Trump's refusal to produce documents that House committees have subpoenaed
- State Dept. text messages showing that Trump extorted Zelensky
The authors know a thing or two about impeachment. In the 1970s, they investigated Richard Nixon's abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Their work led to the House Judiciary Committee adopting three articles of impeachment: For abusing his power, obstructing justice, and being in contempt of Congress. Rather than face certain impeachment (by the whole House) and conviction, Nixon resigned.
The Watergate prosecutors make a case for the same three articles of impeachment for Trump. According to them, extorting Zelensky for political gain is clearly an abuse of power. The Mueller report has many examples of obstruction of justice. Finally, telling Congress to go shove it is worthy of being charged with contempt of Congress.
At this point it seems likely that the House will ultimately impeach Trump and the articles may well be the ones the Watergate prosecutors have suggested. (V)
Yesterday, Donald Trump lit into his former AG Jeff Sessions, calling him a "total disaster." He blamed Sessions for not protecting him from government investigations and praised current AG William Barr for doing so. Trump is apparently not aware that the attorney general is not his personal lawyer.
Trump's specific beef with Sessions is that the former Alabama senator recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, turning it over to then-deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein (who of course, was also hand picked by Trump for that position).
Sometimes Trump's behavior is so bizarre that people speculate that he is playing a game of 3-D chess that mere mortals cannot understand. But cases like this look more like a 5-year-old learning to play checkers. As Trump may or may not remember, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is up for reelection in 2020. If Sessions runs for his old seat, he is probably the favorite to win it. However, if Sessions is in no mood to be yelled at by Trump for a year, he may well pass on it, making it much more likely that child molester Roy Moore gets the Republican nomination. Jones beat Moore in a special election in 2017. In a presidential election year, which usually has greater Democratic turnout than special elections, Jones might be able to do it again. So by lashing out at Sessions, Trump is increasing the chances of the Democrats holding the seat. If this is 3-D chess, maybe we're just not smart enough to understand this gambit. (V)
Tom Steyer was planning on self-funding his presidential campaign from day 1, but the pesky DNC rules about who gets to be on stage in the debates forced the billionaire to try to raise money. He managed to pull in $2 million in Q3, the lowest of any of the candidates who have reported so far. Wayne Messam has not reported yet, so there is a chance Steyer won't end up at the very bottom.
Steyer has spent $30 million of his own money so far, so getting $2 million for it is not a great return on investment. In the RealClear Politics polling averages, he is tied for 11th, at 0.6%. At his current burn rate, spending $300 million might get him to 6%, which would (barely) put him in fourth place, far behind the top three.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) didn't qualify for the September Democratic debate, but she did barely make it into next week's debate. However, yesterday she released a video whining about how the system is rigged by the DNC and corporate media. After all, the DNC has scheduled a measly 12 debates this cycle and media outlets have had the temerity to publish polls, the average of which puts her in a three-way tie for 11th place (with Tom Steyer and Gov. Steve Bullock, D-MT) at 0.6%. To punish these bad actors, she is considering boycotting next week's debate, so we will all have to sit on the edge of our chairs awaiting her momentous decision.
What she forgot to mention in her video is that the two other progressive candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) together are pulling in about 40% of the vote in the polling, far ahead of Joe Biden, who is averaging 26%. She didn't explain how the corporate media are forcing both progressives to stay in the race, thus splitting the progressive vote. She also didn't note that Andrew Yang, who is running a single-issue campaign pushing the idea that the government should give everyone free money is polling four times higher than she is, even though giving everyone free government money is not a bedrock corporate principle.
This is the stuff of Tom Perez' nightmares: A marginal candidate most people had never heard of before the race begins complaining that the system is rigged, thus encouraging Democrats to tune out and stop paying attention to politics. Perez would probably have been better off setting the bar much higher much earlier to get rid of marginal candidates long ago. In any event, it is hard to imagine anyone picking her as a running mate now, so she will probably go out with a whimper rather than a bang. (V)
Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) has been riding the Trump train for a while now, but on Thursday he decided to make his exit. Sitting for an interview with radio station KMOX, the Representative said that Trump's decision to abandon the United States' Kurdish allies in Syria was the dealbreaker, declaring that "This has just shocked, embarrassed, and angered me." Shimkus also implied that, despite his past support for the President, he has never really been a supporter of the Trump approach to politics: "President Trump is a populist who wants to put Americans first and to the detriment of our allies and friends. Some people in this country like that. I do not."
Shimkus had already announced his retirement from Congress, so this isn't politica suicide for him. That said, he did also resign from his role as honorary co-chair of Trump's 2020 Illinois campaign. He is the highest-profile Republican member of the House to break with Trump so far; undoubtedly every time a Shimkus or a Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) decides to go full apostate, it brings the caucus just a little closer to the tipping point, and a mass exodus. (Z)
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) has announced that she will not run for a 17th term, even though she could easily win again in her D+7 district that covers parts of Westchester and all of Rockland County. She is arguably the second most powerful woman in government, after only Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), since she chairs the House Appropriations Committee, which decides how the government spends its money. But she is 82 and just feels it is time to go.
The district is D+7, so unless there is a strong red wave, the Democrats will hold the seat. There are plenty of ambitious politicians in the three-county district, so big primary battles are likely on both sides.
If the Democrats keep the House in 2020, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) will take over Appropriations. She studied urban planning at M.I.T. and is currently serving her 19th term in the House. Her district used to be centered around Toledo, but now stretches all along Lake Erie from Toledo on the west to Cleveland on the east. An interesting note about her is that Kaptur is co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus and has a special interest in matters Ukrainian. That could come in handy some day. (V)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct10 Graham Warns Pelosi that the Senate Won't Impeach Trump
Oct10 House Democrats Are Planning Subpoenas
Oct10 Biden Calls on House to Impeach Trump
Oct10 CBS Has Published a Memo the Whistleblower Wrote the Day after the Call
Oct10 Sanders Is Scaling Back His Campaigning
Oct10 Biden Leads Warren in North Carolina
Oct10 Impeachment Is Helping the Republicans
Oct10 Manufacturing Sector Is Officially in Recession
Oct10 Republicans Are Trying to Get the Amish to Vote
Oct09 Impeachment Battle Lines Harden
Oct09 U.S. to Pull Out of Another Treaty
Oct09 A Little Grift, Campaign-Style
Oct09 Let's Just Start Calling it the Trump National Committee
Oct09 Warren Learning About Life with a Big Target on Your Back
Oct09 Polling Update
Oct09 Almost Half the Country Wants Trump Removed from Office
Oct09 Fifth Debate Details Are Set
Oct08 Tail, Meet Dog
Oct08 China to Trump: Your 2020 Campaign Is None of Our Business
Oct08 Judge to Trump: Fork 'em Over
Oct08 Barbara Res Predicts Trump Will Resign
Oct08 Brace Yourself for 2020, Part I: Trump vs. Biden
Oct08 Brace Yourself for 2020, Part II: Ratfu**ing
Oct08 Warren Hires Texas State Campaign Director
Oct07 There Are Now Multiple Whistleblowers
Oct07 Trump Blames Perry for Call to Zelensky
Oct07 Most Republicans Still Back Trump
Oct07 The DNC Is Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Oct07 Is Dirt a Thing of Value?
Oct07 Will Trump Be Done in by a Lack of Toadies?
Oct07 Biden Donors Are Worried
Oct07 Democrats Are Worried about Who Tulsi Gabbard Will Attack Next
Oct07 Sanders Had a Heart Attack
Oct07 The Senate Races Are Becoming Nationalized
Oct07 Make Sure to Register
Oct06 Sunday Mailbag
Oct05 Saturday Q&A
Oct04 Digging the Hole Deeper, Part I: Ukraine
Oct04 Digging the Hole Deeper, Part II: China
Oct04 Digging the Hole Deeper, Part III: The IRS
Oct04 Let the Table Pounding Begin
Oct04 Biden's Q3 Fundraising Is Underwhelming
Oct04 Warren Making Inroads with Black Voters
Oct04 Lieberman Running for Senate
Oct03 House Democrats Will Subpoena White House Documents
Oct03 Pence Was Involved in Pressuring Ukraine
Oct03 State Dept. Inspector General Spoke to Congressional Committees Yesterday
Oct03 Support for Impeachment Is Growing
Oct03 Trump's Impeachment Inquiry Will Be More Divisive than Nixon's or Clinton's