👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
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1/ The House threatened to subpoena the White House if it doesn’t comply with its request for documents related to Trump’s attempts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings notified committee members that the subpoena will be issued Friday, citing the White House’s “flagrant disregard” of previous requests for documents. Cummings said the committee has “tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents” over the last several weeks, but the White House hasn’t responded. Separately, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that any efforts by Trump and his administration to stonewall or interfere with their investigation “will be considered as evidence of obstruction of justice.” Schiff joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi in condemning Trump’s tweets and his demand to “meet” the whistleblower, calling it “a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses” and “an incitement of violence.” Later in the day, Trump argued that whistleblowers should only be protected if they’re “legitimate.” (New York Times / ABC News / Axios / Associated Press / CNBC)
- Read Cummings’ full memo to the House Oversight and Reform Committee (New York Times)
2/ Trump complained that House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is “BULLSHIT” that’s “wasting everyone’s time.” Trump also called Adam Schiff a “low life,” and a “dishonest guy” who “couldn’t carry” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “blank strap” – an apparent reference to a “jock strap.” Trump also blamed the impeachment inquiry for declines in the stock market and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening in on his phone calls. Trump’s tweets came after he suggested that the impeachment inquiry amounted to an attempted coup. At a joint news conference later in the day with Finland’s president, Trump attacked reporters who asked about the impeachment inquiry, calling it a hoax and a fraud, but said he would cooperate with the inquiry, claiming: “I always cooperate.” (NBC News Reuters / Washington Post / Talking Points Memo)
3/ Trump repeatedly involved Pence in his efforts to pressure the Ukraine president at a time when Volodymyr Zelensky was seeking recognition and support from Washington. In May, Trump instructed Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, and, months later, Trump had Pence tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was being withheld while demanding for an investigation Biden and his son. Officials close to Pence insist that he wasn’t aware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information. One of Pence’s top advisers, however, was on the July 25th call and should have had access to the transcript within hours. (Washington Post)
4/ The whistleblower first contacted the House Intelligence Committee for guidance before sending the complaint to the Trump administration. Adam Schiff learned about the outlines of the whistleblower’s concerns that Trump had abused his power days before the whistleblower filed the complaint. Schiff’s office denied seeing the complaint in advance, but it also explains how Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it. Trump – without evidence – claimed that Schiff “probably helped write” the whistleblower complaint, calling Schiff “a shifty dishonest guy” and the complaint “a scam.” An attorney representing the whistleblower said that no one from House Intelligence Committee helped the whistleblower write their complaint. (New York Times / CNN)
📌 Day 970: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a “higher authority” official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee “can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials.” (Business Insider / CBS News)
📌 Day 972: The acting director of national intelligence refused testify before Congress or hand over a whistleblower complaint to lawmakers. The complaint was submitted on Aug. 12 by a member of the intelligence community involving conduct by someone “outside the intelligence community” who does not involve intelligence activity under the supervision of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had told Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, that he would not provide the complaint “because he is being instructed not to” by “a higher authority” who is “above” the cabinet-level position of the director of national intelligence. (New York Times)
📌 Day 973: The whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer was triggered by a “promise” Trump made to a foreign leader and involves a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion. The formal complaint was filed with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who “determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent.” The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, however, has refused to turn it over to Congress. While it’s unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time, White House records show Trump spoke to or interacted with Putin, Kim Jong Un, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Emir of Qatar in the five weeks prior to the complaint being filed on August 12th. Trump, meanwhile, denied that he made any “promise” to a foreign leader, calling the formal complaint “Presidential Harassment!” and rhetorically asking if there is “anybody dumb enough to believe that [he] would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / NBC News)
5/ Trump threatened to personally sue people involved in Mueller’s investigation into Russian inference in the 2016 election. While Trump did not name names, he said “I probably will be bringing litigation against a lot of people having to do with the corrupt investigation into the 2016 election. And I have every right to.” Guiliani, meanwhile, texted a reporter to say they plan to sue “The swamp. Trump v The Swamp.” When asked how he plans to sue “The Swamp,” Guiliani replied: “In federal court.” (Reuters / Vanity Fair / The Guardian)
6/ Mike Pompeo admitted that he was on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked Zelensky to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son. “I was on the phone call,” Pompeo said during a news conference in Rome with Italy’s foreign minister. Pompeo’s admission was the first time he confirmed that he was on the call — after previously evading questions about what he knew about the conversation and news reports that revealed he was on the call. (CNN / New York Times)
Attorney General William Barr traveled to Italy to meet with Italian secret service agents and listen to a taped deposition by the professor who promised George Papadopoulos he could deliver Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Joseph Mifsud applied for police protection in Italy after leaving Link University, where he worked. He gave a taped deposition to explain why people might want to harm him. Since the completion of Mueller’s probe in March 2019, Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut have worked to undermine the Mueller investigation and investigate the investigators behind it. (Daily Beast)
📌 Day 984: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Pompeo said that he hadn’t yet read the whistleblower’s complaint, but claimed that actions by State Department officials had been “entirely appropriate and consistent” with the Trump’s administration efforts to improve relations with Ukraine. Three House committees subpoenaed Pompeo on Friday for documents related to the inquiry. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian)
📌 Day 985: Attorney General William Barr and Mike Pompeo personally participated in contacts between Trump and at least four foreign leaders. The goal those contacts was to produce stories that could damage Joe Biden or undermine the U.S. intelligence community’s 2017 assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. (The Guardian / Reuters / Business Insider)
7/ Trump called Boris Johnson to ask for help discrediting the Mueller investigation. On July 26th – two days after the prime minister took office and one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky – Trump called Johnson to ask for help gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign’s links to Russia. Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump’s call with Johnson and told British officials that he believed that information from British agencies led to the Mueller investigation. (The Times / The Daily Beast)
📌 Day 984: Trump pressured Australia’s prime minister to help Barr gather information for a Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Mueller investigation. Trump initiated the discussion – with Barr’s knowledge and at his suggestion – in recent weeks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia’s help in the Justice Department review that Trump believes will show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins. Similar to the call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, the discussion with Morrison shows Trump using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests. The White House restricted access of the transcript to a small group of Trump’s aides. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / Associated Press)
📌 Day 348: A drunk George Papadopoulos bragged about the political dirt Russia had on Hillary Clinton to Australia’s top diplomat at a London bar in May 2016. Australian officials passed the information about Papadopoulos to their American counterparts two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online. The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election following the revelation that the Trump campaign had information about the DNC’s hacked emails Trump and his advisers have dismissed Papadopoulos’ campaign role as just a “coffee boy.” (New York Times)
8/ The Justice Department told the White House that they must preserve all notes regarding Trump’s meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders. In a two-page filing, the Justice Department told a judge in Washington that the Trump administration and executive office of the president “voluntarily agree […] to preserve the material at issue pending” litigation. The question of preserving the information arose in federal court following government transparency and historical archivist groups’ emergency request to maintain the notes from the Trump-Volodymyr Zelensky July 25th call, as well as other Trump discussions with world leaders. (CNN / Washington Post)
poll/ 46% of voters said Congress should begin impeachment proceedings to remove Trump from office, compared to 43% who said they should not. 56% of voters disapprove of Trump’s job performance. (Politico)
poll/ 40% of Republicans believe that Trump mentioned the possibility of an investigation into Biden during his call with the Ukraine president even though Trump acknowledged that he had. (Monmouth University Poll / USA Today)
The House Oversight Committee is investigating whether groups — including at least one foreign government — tried to curry favor with Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never using them, and whether Trump broke the law by accepting money from U.S. or foreign governments at his properties. The investigation began after the committee received information that a trade association and a foreign government booked a large quantity of rooms but used only a fraction of them. (Politico)
Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have sold off $110 million of Trump’s real estate holdings since he took office. The Trump children have used the money to pay down an estimated $60 million in debt since the inauguration. (Forbes)
Trump’s agriculture secretary said that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive. Sonny Perdue told reporters during a stop at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI that “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” Wisconsin has lost 551 dairy farms in 2019 after losing 638 in 2018, and 465 in 2017. (Associated Press)
A federal judge in California blocked a state law that required presidential candidates to release their income tax returns before appearing on the state’s primary ballot. The judge said the law presents a “troubling minefield” and would set a dangerous precedent and become a slippery slope for other kinds of disclosures. (CNN)
Senate Democrats asked the IRS to consider stripping the National Rifle Association of its tax-exempt status after a months-long investigation that found that the NRA worked closely with Russian nationals who wanted access to the American political system. (NBC News)
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