UPDATE: President Trump now insists that he definitely did not do that thing that he already said that he did:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied that he directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine and seek out investigations on his behalf, contradicting his own words to the Ukrainian President in the White House released transcript of the July 25 call.
Trump also contradicted sworn testimony from members of his administration and claims from his own White House acting chief of staff.
There is a LOT of impeachment news to digest these days. If it is hard for us to keep up with all of this impeachment news, it’s probably difficult for our readers as well. So, as a public service, we decided to roundup some of the top impeachment stories floating around the Internet tubes and condense them into one convenient location.
For this chapter of “Just Impeachie,” we’re getting you caught up on all things impeachment-related so that you are fully prepared to argue with your drunk uncle on Thanksgiving (or whatever it’s called now).
President Trump knew all about the whistleblower’s complaint when he made the decision to release hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine. This report from The New York Times effectively destroys one of Trump’s main impeachment defense arguments:
President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said.
The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a “quid pro quo” with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair.
Greg Sargent of The Washington Post explains why Tuesday’s New York Times story is so important to the impeachment case:
First, it refutes the absurd notion that, because Trump ultimately released the aid, this somehow shows the plot to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations to help his reelection was never corrupt. We now know Trump knew it had been exposed before the aid was released…
…But this new revelation also undercuts the “I want nothing — no quid pro quo” defense as well. It sheds light on another key subplot: the manner in which Trump appears to have corruptly directed Sondland to convey the extortion demand to Ukraine, while preserving plausible deniability for doing so…
…The whistleblower conceded he didn’t know for certain that Trump’s freezing of the aid was directly linked to his pressure on Ukraine to launch sham investigations validating the 2016 CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and the invented narrative of Joe Biden’s corruption. But he said officials were alarmed by it.
Sondland, however, did ultimately draw this direct link — and testified that he discussed it with the president himself. And that’s why the revelation that Trump knew of the whistleblower complaint fills in a crucial piece of the puzzle.
President Trump held a campaign rally in Florida on Tuesday that was largely focused on his impeachment defense (or what’s left of it).
As Maeve Reston writes for CNN, a key Republican talking point in for defending Trump against impeachment was blown up on Tuesday:
New transcripts of witness testimony and news reports revealing key details on the Ukraine scandal timeline show in vivid detail the way President Donald Trump and top officials maneuvered behind the scenes to block aid to Ukraine as the President sought an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden…
…We now know that White House budget office took its first official action to withhold $250 million in aid to Ukraine on the evening of July 25, according to a House Budget Committee summary of the office’s documents.
That was the very same day that Trump spoke by phone with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, prefacing his request for an investigation of the 2016 election with the now infamous phrase “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” Agencies had been notified at a July 18 meeting that the aid had been frozen by the President, a week before the call.
Two officials in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) apparently resigned over concerns about the holdup of military aid to Ukraine.
Former White House counsel Don McGahn received a brief respite in his case pitting the Justice Department against House Democrats seeking his testimony on impeachment-related matters.
President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was reportedly in talks to represent Ukraine’s former top prosecutor as Yuri Lutsenko attempts to recover assets that he alleges were stolen by the Ukrainian government. Talks surrounding this $200,000 contract were happening at the same time that Giuliani was working with Lutsenko to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Fox News’ talking monkey, Tucker Carlson, argues that impeachment hearings are actually making President Trump stronger. Like Godzilla, or something.
White House lawyers are debating whether or not to accept an invitation from House Democrats to participate in impeachment hearings next week.
Polls show that a majority of Americans support President Trump’s impeachment and removal from office; at least one poll indicates that impeachment support among Independent voters is on the rise. Trump is responding by inventing his own poll numbers out of thin air.
Listen to this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Republicans are turning to “The Chewbacca Defense” as they struggle to figure out a way to defend President Trump against impeachment.