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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Trump Lied about a Deal with China. Turkey Lied about a Deal with Trump.

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Trump lied about a deal with China and Turkey lied about a deal with Trump. 

Heather Long at WP:
President Trump claimed that he struck a “phase one” trade deal with China on Friday and that the Chinese agreed to massive purchases of U.S. farm products. But nearly a week has passed, and China has not confirmed that critical piece of the agreement.

According to the White House, a key part of Trump’s initial deal is China’s commitment to buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products. But nothing was written on paper, and China’s Commerce Ministry would not confirm that figure Thursday, saying instead purchases would be made according to Chinese market needs.
CBS reports:
As the deal Vice President Mike Pence announced with Turkey to stop attacks on Kurdish forces in northern Syria came under criticism Friday, fighting continued in the region. Video showed gunfire and shelling in a Syrian city along the Turkish border.
CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata said it was a shaky ceasefire, and not everybody was happy about it. There have been serious questions about the U.S. military's role in ensuring the terms of the ceasefire are implemented.
Turkish attacks continued on the border, breaking the so-called "pause in hostilities" agreed to by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. The pause is supposed to last 120 hours, or five days, to give the U.S. a chance to "facilitate" exactly what Turkey wanted in when it launched its incursion on October 9: the removal of the formerly U.S.-allied Kurdish forces from a 20-mile-deep so-called "safe zone" along Turkey's border.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Endorsing Ethnic Cleansing, Acknowledging a Quid Pro Quo, and Announcing a Blatant Emoluments Clause Violation: "Get Over It"

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.


The Best Words

Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine.  It’s a lot of sand.  They’ve got a lot of sand over there.  So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.
But we were supposed to be there for 30 days; we stayed for 10 years.  And it’s time for us to come home.  We’re not a policing agent, and it’s time for us to come home.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

"No Angels"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty .     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Today Trump tried to justify his betrayal of the Kurds:  "The Kurds are very well protected; plus, they know how to fight.  And, by the way, they’re no angels, but they were with us.  They are no angels."

He has said that others are "no angels."

  • Senate Democrats who criticized Brett Kavanaugh: ""I watched those senators on the Democrat side, and I thought it was a disgrace. And partially because I know them. I know them too well, and you know what, they are not angels."
  • The wrongly-convicted Central Park Five: "Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels."
  • Migrants: ""These are tough people.  These are not angels.  These are not little angels."

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Hand Grenade Rudy

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump (The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday.
Mr. Bolton got into a tense exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to three people who heard the testimony.
The aide, Fiona Hill, testified that Mr. Bolton told her to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about a rogue effort by Mr. Sondland, Mr. Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the people familiar with the testimony.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at the deposition. (Another person in the room initially said Mr. Bolton referred to Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mulvaney, but two others said he cited Mr. Sondland.)
It was not the first time Mr. Bolton expressed grave concerns to Ms. Hill about the campaign being run by Mr. Giuliani. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Ms. Hill quoted Mr. Bolton as saying during an earlier conversation.
Karen Freifeld, Aram Roston at Reuters:
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges, Giuliani told Reuters on Monday.
 The businessman, Lev Parnas, is a close associate of Giuliani and was involved in his effort to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination.
Giuliani said Parnas’ company, Boca Raton-based Fraud Guarantee, whose website says it aims to help clients “reduce and mitigate fraud”, engaged Giuliani Partners, a management and security consulting firm, around August 2018. Giuliani said he was hired to consult on Fraud Guarantee’s technologies and provide legal advice on regulatory issues.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Violent Pro-Trump Video

In Defying the Odds, we discuss partisan polarization and views of Trump.     During the campaign, he openly encouraged violence by supportersThe update  -- recenty published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms, when a Trumpist addressed pipe bombs to his foes.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Syrian Debacle: "Let Them!"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley at NYT:
Hundreds of relatives of Islamic State fighters fled a Kurdish-run detention camp on Sunday morning after Turkish airstrikes hit the surrounding area, an aid group said, deepening the crisis prompted by the Turkish-led invasion of northern Syria.
The escapes raised fears that the attempts to contain affiliates of the militant group were crumbling.
A Kurdish official also said that the flag of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, had been raised in the countryside between the camp in the Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa and the Turkish border, another indication of how the Kurdish authorities were losing control of a region they had freed from the extremists only months ago.




Saturday, October 12, 2019

An Unusal Approach to International Relations

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Lloyd Green at The Guardian:
On Wednesday Bloomberg reported that Trump had pressed Rex Tillerson, who at the time was nominally secretary of state, to push the justice department into killing an investigation into Reza Zarrab, a Giuliani client, for allegedly violating sanctions designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Specifically, in a February 2017 Oval Office meeting, Trump had invited Giuliani, and Michael Mukasey, Bush 43’s attorney general and a former federal judge, to lobby Tillerson on that score.
...
Like Trump, Giuliani can engender a sense of disappointment and disgust among those who know him best. Ken Frydman, a New York-based public relations whiz and a veteran of Giuliani’s 1993 mayoral race, recently wrote: “The man I worked for in 1993 is not the man who now lies for Donald Trump.”

Frydman isn’t alone. As another Giuliani alumnus told the Guardian, “There is tremendous disappointment that a man we once greatly admired and who was worthy of that admiration has become a lapdog to a conspiracy theorist president.” The aide explained: “It’s heartbreaking in so many ways because – at his core – for better or worse, Rudy was always his own man. Sadly, he no longer is.”




Trump and Giuliani v. Yovanovitch

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Opening Statement of Marie L. Yovanovitch to the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Committee on Oversight and ReformOctober 11, 2019
  • With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.
  • Finally, after being asked by the Department in early March to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine “on the next plane.” You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that too, and I tried to find out. I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term. He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause. I departed Ukraine for good this past May.
  • Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed.
The Southern District is investigating Giuliani. Michael S. Schmidt, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel and William K. Rashbaum at NYT:
The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.
The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.
Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.
...
Mr. Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because he said he was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, when he collected the information on Ms. Yovanovitch and the others and relayed it to the American government and the news media.
POTUS:
Q President Trump, is Rudy Giuliani still your personal attorney? Is Rudy Giuliani still your personal attorney?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday, briefly. He’s a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney. Yeah, sure.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Trump v. Somalia

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of bigotryThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. This past summerhe told several Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries.

Allyson Chiu at WP: 
For roughly six minutes Thursday night, President Trump predictably singled out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) during his campaign rally in her home district of Minneapolis. As photos of Omar wearing a headscarf flashed across jumbo screens at the Target Center in the city, Trump ramped up his broadsides against the freshman lawmaker, slamming her as an “America-hating socialist” and a “disgrace.” But he didn’t stop there.

The president soon widened his attack to target Somali refugees in Minnesota, a group that includes Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the East African country. He promised rally attendees, who booed loudly at the mention of the state’s Somali residents, that he would “give local communities a greater say in refugee policy and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration controls.”

“As you know for many years leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” he said as some in the crowd jeered, adding, “You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods and that’s what you have the right to do right now, and believe me, no other president would be doing that.”
...
 In recent years, Trump also reportedly “raged” at former acting homeland security secretary Elaine Duke “asking why he could not ban refugees from ‘f------ Somalia,’” New York Times reporters Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear wrote in their new book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration.”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Constitutional Crisis

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Ian Millheiser at Vox:
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent an eight-page-long middle finger to House Democratic leaders on Tuesday, pledging resistance to the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
As a legal matter, Cipollone’s letter is nonsense. Several court decisions make it clear that the White House is not above the law. Executive privilege is real, and it sometimes prevents some inquiries into presidential behavior, but it is not an absolute privilege — especially in the context of a criminal investigation.
As a practical matter, however, Trump is likely to get away with it because there’s no one who can stop him. House investigators and others may be able to obtain a court order requiring the White House to comply with an investigation. But if Trump continues to refuse, Congress and the courts have limited options.
As Alexander Hamilton once wrote of courts: the judiciary “may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.”
The constitutional mechanism, meanwhile, for dealing with a lawless president — impeachment and conviction — requires at least 20 Republican senators to vote to remove a president of their own party.
So long as Trump believes that his fellow partisans will hang together, he has little incentive to comply with a court order.
The question of how to define a “constitutional crisis” is hotly contested among scholars. Yet one common definition, according to Georgetown law professor Victoria Nourse, is “a fight among branches of government in which neither side backs down, and there is no clear resolution within the constitutional system.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Russians Literally Uncorked Champagne When Trump Won

In Defying the Oddswe discuss social mediafake news, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

From the Senate Intelligence Committee:
The Committee found that Russia's targeting of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was part of a broader, sophisticated, and ongoing information warfare campaign designed to sow discord in American politics and society. Moreover, the IRA conducted a vastly more complex and strategic assault on the United States than was initially understood.
The IR.A's actions in 2016 represent only the latest installment in an increasingly brazen
interference by the Kremlin on the citizens and democratic institutions of the United
States. 
... 
One communication obtained by the Committee details an IRA employee's description of Election Day 2016, from the vantage of an information warfare operative: "On  November 9, 2016, a sleepless night was ahead of us. And when around 8 a.m. the most ' important result of our work arrived, we uncorked a tiny bottle of champagne ... took one gulp each and looked into each other's eyes .... We uttered almost in unison: 'We. made America great."
Further, the IRA's attempts to engage political activists by using false U.S. personas
to "communicate with unwitting members, volunteers, and supporters of the Trump Campaign involved in local community outreach, as well as grassroots groups that supported then-candidate Trump."

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Darkening Economic Skies

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax and economics issue in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. and explains why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans.

James Pethokoukis at The Week:
Just take a look at the September jobs report, out Friday. Although the unemployment rate dipped to a 50-year low, the report also showed that both job and wage growth have slowed. JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli called it a "labor market in a controlled descent." Meanwhile, major banks, including JPMorgan, are forecasting third-quarter GDP growth will be lucky to hit 2 percent, and the manufacturing sector likely continues a contraction that began in July.
In other words, the economy could use a boost — like ending President Trump's trade war. The harmful and ill-considered conflict just isn't working out. Everything that's supposed to be down is up, and everything that is supposed to be up is down. Factory jobs are down, the trade deficit is up. Business investment is down, uncertainty is up. Once again, trade wars are proving neither good nor easy to win, despite the president's promise of easy victory over China.
From CBO:
The federal budget deficit was $984 billion in fiscal year 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. CBO’s estimate is based on data from the Daily Treasury Statements issued by the Department of the Treasury; the department will report the actual deficit for fiscal year 2019 later this month.
Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit—at an estimated 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—was the highest since 2012, and 2019 was the fourth consecutive year in which the deficit increased as a percentage of GDP.
The estimated deficit is $205 billion more than the shortfall recorded in fiscal year 2018. However, that year’s outlays were affected by a shift in the timing of certain payments. Because October 1, 2017, fell on a weekend, $44 billion in outlays was shifted to September of fiscal year 2017. If not for that, the 2019 deficit would have been $162 billion larger than the 2018 amount, rather than $205 billion larger. Excluding that effect, revenues were 4 percent higher and outlays were 7 percent higher in 2019 than they were in 2018, CBO estimates.
The deficit of $984 billion is about $24 billion larger than the shortfall that CBO projected in its August 2019 report, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2019 to 2029. Revenues exceeded the projection by $11 billion but outlays exceeded the projection by $35 billion, according to CBO’s estimates.

WP Poll: Majority Backs Impeachment Inquiry, Half Backs Impeachment

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Dan Balz and Scott Clement at WP:
A majority of Americans say they endorse the decision by House Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and nearly half of all adults also say the House should take the additional step and recommend that the president be removed from office, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.
The findings indicate that public opinion has shifted quickly against the president and in favor of impeachment proceedings in recent weeks as information has been released about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to undertake an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign rival, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Previous Post-Schar School or Post-ABC News polls taken at different points throughout this year found majorities of Americans opposing the start of an impeachment proceeding, with 37 percent to 41 percent saying they favored such a step. The recent revelations appear to have prompted many Americans to rethink their position.

The poll finds that, by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans say the House was correct to undertake the inquiry. Among all adults, 49 percent say the House should take the more significant step to impeach the president and call for his removal from office. Another 6 percent say they back the start of the inquiry but do not favor removing Trump from office, with the remainder undecided about the president’s ultimate fate. The results among registered voters are almost identical.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Foreign Affairs for Personal Gain

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.


One day in October 1992, four Republican congressmen showed up in the Oval Office with an audacious recommendation. President George Bush was losing his re-election race, and they told him the only way to win was to hammer his challenger Bill Clinton’s patriotism for protesting the Vietnam War while in London and visiting Moscow as a young man.

Mr. Bush was largely on board with that approach. But what came next crossed the line, as far as he and his team were concerned. “They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow,” James A. Baker III, Mr. Bush’s White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo later that day. “I said we absolutely could not do that.”
President Trump insists he and his attorney general did nothing wrong by seeking damaging information about his domestic opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and Britain or by publicly calling on China to investigate his most prominent Democratic challenger. But for every other White House in the modern era, Republican and Democratic, the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage was seen as unwise and politically dangerous, if not unprincipled.
A survey of 10 former White House chiefs of staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama found that none recalled any circumstance under which the White House had solicited or accepted political help from other countries, and all said they would have considered the very idea out of bounds.
Meanwhile, Trump is selling out American allies to a country with which he has business ties. Brett McGurk, a former diplomat who served under Trump:

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Old Man Has Heart Attack

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Sean Sullivan and Amy Gardner at WP:
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s admission late Friday that he had suffered a heart attack three days earlier invited new scrutiny of the presidential candidate’s age, health and ability to keep up with the rigors of a national campaign.
Sanders released a video hours after he was discharged from a Las Vegas hospital, thanking well-wishers for their support and promising to return “soon” to the campaign trail.
“I’m feeling so much better,” Sanders said, his arm draped around his wife, Jane.
But neither Sanders (I-Vt.) nor his campaign offered details about how serious his condition was, leaving open the question of how soon he would reemerge and whether voters would lose confidence in his ability to serve as president.

The episode also brought new attention to a Democratic field that is dominated by three septuagenarians: Sanders, 78; former vice president Joe Biden, 76; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 70 — each of whom would be the oldest president ever to take office.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Smoking Texts

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure. October 4, 2019
Q Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don’t involve your political opponents? That is, are there other cases where you’ve asked for corruption investigations?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, we would have to look. But I tell you, what I asked for and what I always will ask for is anything having to do with corruption with respect to our country. If a foreign country can help us with respect to corruption and corruption probes, and that — I don’t care if it’s Biden or anybody else. But if they can help us — if Biden is corrupt, if his son is corrupt. When his son takes out billions of dollars — billions — and he has no experience; he just got fired from the Navy — when they do that, that’s no good
Text messages by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Bill Taylor chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine
[9/1/19, 12:08:57 PM] Bill Taylor: Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?
[9/1/19, 12:42:29 PM] Gordon Sondland: Call me

...
[9/9/19, 12:31:06 AM] Bill Taylor: The message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. Thus my nightmare scenario.
[9/9/19, 12:34:44 AM] Bill Taylor: Counting on you to be right about this interview, Gordon.
[9/9/19, 12:37:16 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I never said I was “right”. I said we are where we are and believe we have identified the best pathway forward. Lets hope it works.
[9/9/19, 12:47:11 AM] Bill Taylor: As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
[9/9/19, 5:19:35 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.

Friday, October 4, 2019

An Armory of Smoking Guns

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

-While you were sleeping, Democrats released a trove of explosive text messages between U.S. diplomats and a senior Ukrainian aide — and boy, they are a doozy. The text messages — which former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker turned over to House investigators during his deposition yesterday — outline how senior State Department officials were deeply alarmed that the Trump administration would try to make foreign aid to Ukraine (as well as a White House visit) contingent on efforts to help the president’s reelection campaign. And they also demonstrate how U.S. diplomats were pushing Ukraine to probe Biden and the 2016 election on Trump's behalf.
Democrats will likely say they’ve got their smoking gun, and will certainly use the text messages as more ammo for impeachment. But Republicans, who insist that Volker testified that Trump never sought a “quid pro quo” from Ukraine, say the texts were cherry picked and are calling on Democrats to release a full transcript of Volker’s deposition. Here is a highlight of some of the texts:
...
BUT, WAIT THERE’S MORE ... The text messages weren’t the only bombshell stories that dropped last night. Here is a roundup of some of the other important news reports that you don’t want to miss:
  • — "Trump Ordered Ukraine Ambassador Removed After Complaints From Giuliani, Others," by WSJ’s Rebecca Ballhaus, Mike Bender and Vivian Salama: https://on.wsj.com/30KFvL1.
  • — "Trump Envoys Pushed Ukraine to Commit to Investigations," per Ken Vogel and Mike Schmidt of the NYT: https://nyti.ms/359jR6z.
  • —"Trump raised Biden with Xi in June call housed in highly secure server," via Kylie Atwood, Kevin Liptak, Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto and Gloria Borger: https://cnn.it/2VdNIX5.
  • — “IRS whistleblower said to report Treasury political appointee might have tried to interfere in audit of Trump or Pence,” from WaPo’s Jeff Stein, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey: https://wapo.st/331SjhK.