By Robert A. Vella
Last Friday, it was reported that the White House is in panic mode over the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s whistleblower-exposed attempt to coerce the Ukrainian government for personal political gain, and that it is worried Trump could respond erratically and become “unmanageable.” Today, it appears that their concern was warranted. Everyone knows that an animal backed into a corner will attack its pursuers viciously. Unfortunately, this is the price America will have to pay in order to save itself from a dangerous madman. Democracy, freedom, justice, and equality under the rule of law, are never given. They must be continuously fought for. When a nation stops fighting for these ideals, regardless of the rationale, it descends into the darkness of authoritarianism – and, in my view, truly deserves its fate.
Right now, Americans are in the process of deciding which way to go. Don’t blame Democrats for forcing this divisive choice upon the nation because they are only doing their constitutional duty. Republicans too, although very far from being blameless, are mostly just trying to save their party from destruction. Those to blame are: 1) Trump, who is ultimately responsible for causing this mess, and 2) the myriad of circumstances which allowed Trump to become president.
Early indications show that Americans are definitely moving towards impeachment. That’s not only bad news for Trump, it’s also frightful news for congressional Republicans who are facing a hostile electorate if they continue to support Trump and certain electoral defeat if they dare to oppose him. It’s a no-win situation, and most of them are choosing the less dire option – to rally around Trump and hope that his presidency survives reasonably intact. The numbers from a new CBS News poll reveal the movement of public opinion; and, with one possible exception, it spells trouble for Trump and the GOP. Going forward, I would expect this movement to continue.
- Impeachment Inquiry: 55% approve, 45% disapprove
- Trump’s actions on Ukraine: 41% illegal, 31% improper but legal, 28% proper
- Should Trump be impeached: 42% yes, 36% no, 22% too soon to say
- Democrats’ goals are to: 47% protect U.S. interests and investigate, 53% damage Trump and his reelection
The news today includes Trump’s increasing rage, the danger he poses to the CIA whistleblower, how his own advisors warned Trump that the Biden conspiracy theory was bunk, infighting between Trump’s “personal lawyer” Rudy Giuliani and the State Department, the likelihood that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would refuse to allow an impeachment trial in the Senate, how the impeachment process is affecting politics in Ukraine, and finally some updates on the persistent political unrest in Hong Kong and in Russia.
“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump tweeted, adding his own parenthetical to a quote from Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist preacher speaking on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.
Trump’s tweet invoking civil war marks a notable escalation in his rhetoric about the impeachment inquiry, and also highlights his close relationship with Jeffress, a pastor known for viciously attacking other faiths who holds sway over both evangelical voters and the president.
The tweet left critics, including one sitting Republican congressman, accusing Trump of stoking violence and diminishing the reality of true civil war.
“I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is beyond repugnant.”
The unidentified whistleblower’s legal team sounded the alarm in a letter, dated Saturday and made public on Sunday, to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence.
The letter, which was signed by Andrew P. Bakaj, the whistleblower’s lead attorney, pointed to Trump’s call last week for “the person who gave the whistleblower the information” to be publicly identified.
It said the president’s remarks were among the events that “have heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way.”
WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON — President Trump was repeatedly warned by his own staff that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyer were pursuing was “completely debunked” long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals, a former top adviser said on Sunday.
Thomas P. Bossert, who served as Mr. Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said he told the president there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the 2016 election and did so on behalf of the Democrats. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Bossert said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine’s president to produce damaging information about Democrats.
Mr. Bossert’s comments, on the ABC program “This Week” and in a subsequent telephone interview, underscored the danger to the president as the House moves ahead with an inquiry into whether he abused his power for political gain. Other former aides to Mr. Trump said on Sunday that he refused to accept reassurances about Ukraine no matter how many times it was explained to him, instead subscribing to an unsubstantiated narrative that has now brought him to the brink of impeachment.
President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him he was aware of his unorthodox diplomatic campaign to pressure Ukraine’s government to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
“I did not do this on my own. I did it at the request of the State Department and I have all of the text messages to prove it. And I also have a thank you from them from doing a good job,” Giuliani said on “Face the Nation.” “When I talked to the secretary last week, he said he was aware of it.”
Giuliani’s claim on Sunday echoes recent allegations that he and others, including a whistleblower whose compliant is at the center of an impeachment push against Mr. Trump, have made about the State Department’s supposed involvement in his behind-the-scenes outreach to Ukraine, a staunch U.S. ally dealing with a Russian-backed insurgency in its eastern territory.
As an impeachment inquiry officially begins in the House, speculation has quickly turned to how they might end in the Senate. Republican leadership clarified that the Senate must take action if the lower chamber approves articles of impeachment against President Trump.
“There is no way we could somehow bar the doors and prevent the managers from presenting the articles to the Senate,” stated a GOP leadership memo reportedly obtained by HuffPost. “The rules of impeachment are clear on this point.”
Some Democrats speculate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not hold a Senate trial if Trump were impeached by the House.
McConnell, who participated in the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial and declined to hold a vote on then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016, could just as equally decide against holding an impeachment trial, but notably he said in a March interview that if impeachment were to happen, “the Senate has no choice. If the House were to act, the Senate immediately goes into a trial.”
“This scandal is not affecting Ukrainian politics at all,” said Sviatoslav Yurash, a Zelensky ally in the Rada, or parliament. “American politics isn’t on top of the agenda.”
But some members of the Rada appear ready to turn up the heat. Prominent among them is Oleksiy Honcharenko, a member of former president Petro Poroshenko’s party. Honcharenko told The Washington Post on Sunday that “sources” within the government have told him Ukraine has both a transcript and an audio recording of the call — and he plans to ask [President Volodymyr] Zelensky to release them.
Another member of parliament, Alyona Shkrum, argued that the scandal really dates to Poroshenko’s presidency, when Rudolph W. Giuliani began meeting with Ukranian prosecutors and making inquiries about the Bidens. She said Zelensky shouldn’t be blamed for it.
Still, she said, the affair has put Ukraine into “a whirlpool.” She warned that the country, which has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress in its conflict with Russia, could manage to alienate both Democrats and Republicans if it isn’t careful in the weeks and months ahead.
HONG KONG —An unauthorized march against totalitarianism and Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong quickly devolved into chaos Sunday, as police fired rounds of tear gas and made arrests to stop the crowd of thousands from protesting — kicking off another day of conflict in what has become the new normal in this global financial hub.
It was among the most aggressive police responses in the 17 weeks of demonstrations, amid growing sensitivity over the rapidly approaching anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Several people were seriously injured, including an Indonesian journalist based in Hong Kong who was hit in the eye by a projectile while live-streaming the event for her publication.
As police intensify their efforts to crush the protests, they are facing more resistance from ordinary people who are increasingly joining protests and hurling abuse at officers.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – More than 20,000 Russians took to the streets of Moscow on Sunday to demand the release of protesters jailed over the summer in what opponents of the Kremlin say is a campaign to stifle dissent.
The protesters were arrested at rallies that flared in July when opposition politicians were barred from a local election. Allegations of police brutality and what many Muscovites saw as harsh jail sentences have sparked an unusual public outcry.
Several people have been sentenced to up to four years in jail, and others are being prosecuted for crimes such as violence against police officers.