Mike Littwin: Get your fast-moving impeachment news here — today and for months to come
Fair & Unbalanced
Remember all the Democratic ambivalence about impeachment? Me neither. I know, it was just a week or so ago when it was still going strong, but a week in Trump-impeachment time is basically forever.
Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and others who, I’m told, used to be ambivalent now seem to want the investigation into Donald Trump and Ukraine to go as quickly as possible. But there is no quickly in this adventure, not when every day provides yet another chapter of multiple revelations that move the plot another 100 miles forward.
The big argument among Democrats now is not whether to impeach, but how much to include, and whether whistlegate is enough or whether all manner of Trumpian corruption should be incorporated.
It’s an open question that won’t be answered quickly because Trump and his team won’t allow it. And because the scum — as Trump would have it — at The New York Times and The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times and CNN and all the others will be looking under every unseemly rock.
The whistleblower told us — and the White House has since confirmed — that the word-for-word transcript of the “perfect” Trump-Zelensky call was hidden in a secret server meant to house secure matters involving national security. Does that sound like a cover-up to you? Consider this: The whistleblower also said that it wasn’t the only misuse of the secret server, which could open a whole new line of questioning. In any case, I can just imagine the smile on Hillary Clinton’s face, especially when Trump also admitted to the world he thinks the missing Clinton emails are somewhere in Ukraine.
The revelations, I promise, have just begun. And this is just the impeachment-inquiry stage. Does anyone now doubt that the House will move on the full impeachment?
Democrats can rely on the fact that Trump is a master of self-incrimination. In his talk to U.S. diplomats and others to praise the just-completed U.N. meeting, he immediately goes off track, threatening to go old-school on those “close to a spy” in the White House who leaked information to the whistleblower. I mean, don’t you have to wonder how Trump can blame those for spilling the beans to a whistleblower and still insist the whistleblower’s report, filled with those beans, is a partisan hack job?
By releasing the reconstructed transcript, Trump — to his apparent surprise — has basically admitted to the entire caper, from strong-arming the Ukraine president to help dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son to offering up the attorney general to help President Zelensky in the dirt digging. Ukraine, of course, is dependent on the United States and the European Union for its defense against pro-Russian thugs. For him to refuse Trump’s, uh, suggestions is to risk everything, meaning the quid pro quo couldn’t be more obvious if Zelensky had awakened with a horse head in his bed.
And now, with the leaks of audio and video from Trump’s close-to-a-spy speech — supplied by more near spies, I guess — you can add witness intimidation to the list of possible impeachable offenses.
Meanwhile, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who seems to be at the center of the mess, grows madder — and also angrier — with each TV appearance and print interview. He’s either claiming that he’ll be remembered as the “hero” of the plot or he’s waving his iPad as he readies to read possibly discoverable texts that show, he says, that the State Department was with him every step of the way in his true-to-life Joe Biden witch hunt.
Guiliani says these texts prove the whistleblower lied about him. He said the texts came from Kurt Volker, U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, who was already on the list of five people from State the impeachment team has formally requested to depose. According to CNN, Volker resigned his post Friday.
Three committees announced they have subpoenaed Ukraine-related documents that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has so far refused to hand over. It looks as if Pompeo, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney as well as AG William Barr — whom Pelosi has accused of “going rogue” — have some level of involvement in the Ukraine affair.
Do you wonder why so many Republican senators — and not just the ever-elusive Cory Gardner — seem disinclined to rush to Trump’s defense? They have no idea what will come next. No one does.
And Fox News’ Chris Wallace has already called “the spinning that has been done by the president’s defenders over the last 24 hours … astonishing and deeply misleading.”
It’s pretty clear that Trump and team are panicking. They, and everyone else, thought impeachment was done when the Mueller Report and Mueller testimony failed to move the needle. Trump was so certain that he made the call to Ukraine the day after Mueller testified.
And now, the day after the whistleblower report was released, The New York Times is reporting that Trump met with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre to discuss possible financial support for Trump’s political defense. The Times says it was not clear who raised the issue of money, but, in promising support, LaPierre asked Trump to “stop the games” on any new gun control legislation. Maybe the lack of agreement isn’t, as the White House has charged, Pelosi’s fault.
If you want to understand how seriously the House is taking this impeachment inquiry, the process will continue at full speed even as Congress begins a two-week recess. Meanwhile more White House close-to-spies are telling reporters that Trump is shell-shocked by the turn of events and probably by the polls now showing a plurality of Americans approve of impeachment.
In the days since Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, the political world is threatening to spin off its axis. Of course, that is always the way in Trumpworld. But now — and for the foreseeable future — only more so.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in The Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, he currently writes for ColoradoIndependent.com.
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