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foreign policy

John Bolton, Bill Barr Just *Hate* All Those Favors Trump Does For Dictators!

And one of them might say so out loud!

The Bolton details just keep on coming. Last night, The New York Times reported that the former national security adviser and the nation's top prosecutor both agreed that Donald Trump was improperly using Justice Department criminal investigations as negotiating chips with foreign leaders, promising to interfere in prosecutions as a gift to whichever despot he was crushing on at the moment.

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, privately told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Barr responded by pointing to a pair of Justice Department investigations of companies in those countries and said he was worried that Mr. Trump had created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries, according to the manuscript. Backing up his point, Mr. Barr mentioned conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Xi Jinping of China.

While this latest revelation isn't directly related to the Ukraine shakedown scheme, it's of a piece with Trump's view of law enforcement as just one more political tool a country's leader wields in his own interests. Much like the $391 million of congressionally allocated defense aid which Bolton says Trump withheld to force Ukraine to announce a prosecutorial inquiry into Trump's political opponent Joe Biden.

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Ukraine

Lev Parnas And His Badass Weed Lawyer Dropping Fire Mixtapes Like POW!

Okay people, we're going INTO THE WEEDS!

The newest chucklefuck mixtape has dropped, and it is FIRE! Recorded live at an April 30, 2018, event for donors to Trump's America First Action PAC by Igor Fruman, the "Silent Bob" of the Chucklefuck Gang, this tape's got everything. There are donors proposing legislation to benefit their own businesses that was shortly thereafter championed by House Republicans. There's a whole lot of golf talk, including speculation about Kim Jong Un's mean game. But it's Donald Trump's order to fire ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that's getting the most airtime.

PARNAS: The biggest problem there, where we need to start is, we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration.

TRUMP: Who, the ambassador to Ukraine?

PARNAS: And she's basically walking around telling everybody wait, he's going to get impeached, just wait. It's incredible.

[Laughter]

UNKNOWN: She'll be gone tomorrow.

PARNAS: What's her name?

FRUMAN: I don't remember.

(Probably White House advisor Johnny) DeSTEFANO: So one of the things that will be now that we have a secretary of state that's been confirmed--

TRUMP: Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.

Because it's totally normal for the president of the United States to fire career civil servants based on the unsubstantiated, self-serving allegations of some dipshit at a PAC dinner, right? Particularly when that dipshit admits that he's got a financial stake in the very change he's advocating.

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Impeachment

How Many Trump Crimes Will His Lawyers Confess To Today? (Impeachment Trial Liveblog, Day Whatever!)

We are guessing 'ALL OF THEM KATIE.'

Well, hello, John Bolton, and how is YOUR mustache hanging today?

So, you mean to tell us, after an impeachment inquiry and trial where we've gotten one consistent version of the story of Donald Trump's Ukraine crimes, that John Bolton's book also too confirms that version of the story exactly and confirms Bolton's status as a firsthand witness to the whole scheme? No one could have seen that one coming, and by no one, we mean everyone.

We don't know how impeachment is going to go this week. Trump's lawyers started Saturday, and from what we can tell, they just jerked off into a cup for two hours and then went home and jerked off into more cups, but not on live TV. From Trump's tweets, it sounds like they were mad that calendars were discriminating against them by making them start Saturday.

Technically, according to the rules, Trump's lawyers could go today and tomorrow, and we know Mitch McConnell wants all this shit to be over by the end of the week, especially if Bolton's news is just going to keep breaking. At the same time, the Bolton news (and there will be more) seems to be putting some real pressure on a few GOP senators like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins to vote for witnesses and documents, which could extend things quite a bit if a number of them end up jumping together.

Of course, it's always possible that Adam Schiff will commit an act of bad Senate decorum and hurt Susan Collins's feelings so much she is forced to confirm Brett Kavanaugh again.

Point is we have no fuckin' idea and neither do you.

Shall we liveblog the things that happen as they happen?

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News

Tom Cotton, Jim Lankford Pull Sunday Lying Duty

It's your Sunday show rundown!

We begin today's Sunday show roundup with Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. Making appearances on both CNN's "State of The Union" and ABC's "This Week," Lankford did his best to be a one-man version of the "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" monkey.

On CNN, Lankford pretended to be offended that Adam Schiff referred to a report that Trump had threatened senators if they didn't stand with him while simultaneously "seeing no evil" by ignoring Trump's C-level gangster threats towards Schiff when pointed out to him. (We covered it here.) On ABC, Lankford decided to go with "hear no evil" as he told George Stephanopoulos why we shouldn't see new witnesses -- like saying that the House "rushed" impeachment by not waiting on courts to decide subpoenas. Stephanopoulos wasn't having it.

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Impeachment

Stephanie Grisham: Why Is Adam Schiff So 'Obsessed' With Democracy?

Grisham just can't relate.

We've discussed how Donald Trump put a Twitter hit out on Rep. Adam Schiff like a common gangster. (It was yesterday. Go check it out, we'll be referring back!) The president's part time White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, tried and, as usual, failed to clean up after her boss Sunday during an appearance on Fox News. Howard Kurtz read Trump's gross tweet about Schiff and (correctly) said it sounded like a "vague threat." Grisham responded with her usual absurdity.

GRISHAM: I disagree, and this has been a theme throughout this process. People put meanings behind what [Trump] said. The president speaks in a very unique way, he's a counter-puncher, he's saying what it's on his mind.

Grisham, whose job tangentially involves communication, seems unaware of how communication actually works. Here's a quick primer: The speaker states something and the listener interprets the message. Grisham acts as if we're putting way too much thought into what the president of the United States says publicly -- sort like Beatles fans in the '60s who somehow got the idea that Paul McCartney was dead. Trump just said he's the walrus. Stop trying to play his tweets backward.

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Trump impeachment hearings

John Bolton Is Back To F*ck Sh*t Up!

Don't mess with Mustache Man.

John Bolton is going to burn down the Trump administration ... eventually. The question is whether he's going to do it on the witness stand when it actually matters, or just save it all for his stupid book. Because he's got the goods on everybody in that White House, including Bill Barr, Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, and Rudy Giuliani. And, as The New York Times reported last night, he's got Donald Trump by the short and curlies:

President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

How you livin', Mitch McConnell? Looks like that warmongering bastard just raised the stakes on that vote to sweep this whole impeachment under the rug without witnesses. Because he's got firsthand knowledge of Donald Trump personally saying YES, QUID PRO QUO, no defense aid for Ukraine until they throw dirt on Joe Biden, and he's made it clear that he'll be telling his story sooner rather than later.

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News

Trump Puts Twitter Hit Out On Adam Schiff But The True Threat To Democracy Is Schiff's Rudeness

Not breaking news: Republicans are shameless hypocrites.

Super religious man of God Donald Trump kicked off his Sunday with bitterness, resentment, and thinly veiled death threats. The president's grossness will never rest -- not even on the seventh day. Trump took aim at his personal Javert, Adam Schiff, who he believes has not "paid the price yet" for performing his constitutional duty.

Trump equates his own sorry ass with "our Country" as a whole, which is typical narcissistic behavior. He also puts the call out for Schiff to get fitted with cement galoshes, which is more of his standard mobster talk. Although, most mobsters with functioning brains avoid threatening prosecutors from their ongoing trial in front of 72 million witnesses. There are bound to be a few stool pigeons in the bunch.

Republicans were greatly offended Friday when Schiff implied that the president was an unhinged vindictive sociopath who threatened to literally get medieval on any Republican who didn't fully support him. Schiff just quoted the president's own words, which appalled Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins so much they retracted Schiff's invitation to the Bingleys' ball at Netherfield Park.

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Ukraine

Pompeo Attempts To Stick Up Reporter, Winds Up Shooting Himself In The D*ck

Ladies and gentlemen, your Trump administration.

Breaking! Achtung! Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a hot sack of garbage! Okay, that's not really news. But really, this weekend Pompeo has outdone himself.

It started yesterday when NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, who has been a national security reporter for 20 years, sat down for an interview with Pompeo at the State Department. The Secretary blurped nonsense for several minutes about how the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which caused Iran to restart its uranium enrichment program, is actually a sign of Trump's rousing success in stopping that country from getting nukes.

KELLY: My question, again: How do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

KELLY: How?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

KELLY: Sanctions?

SECRETARY POMPEO:
We'll stop them. The president made very clear – the opening sentence in his remarks said that we will never permit Iran to have a nuclear weapon. The coalition that we've built out, the economic, military, and diplomatic deterrence that we have put in place will deliver that outcome. It's important, because this will protect the American people.

Riiiiiiight.

Please note how Kelly does not just transcribe what Pompeo says and move on. Which may explain his ... displeasure at what happened next.

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Impeachment

Liveblogging The Republican Impeachment Response, Which Will Be Duuuuuuhhhhhh (Day Five)

It's Liz's Impeachment Party, grab a lei and a breakfast pina colada, and hula on in!

Good Saturday morning to you! Come on in, Jay Sekulow and Pat Cipollone and Pam Bondi and Ken Starr and maybe Not Trump's Lawyer More Like Just Some Guy Supposed to Say Some Things But NOT TRUMP'S LAWYER OKAY (Alan Dershowitz) who are all preparing very hard to wow us with some legal WHEREFORES and HEREBYS and a whoooole lotta conspiracy theory.

It's going to be SOME DUMB, we are saying! Here's a livestream! Ready? GO!

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Impeachment

TAKE HER OUT! HEADS ON PIKES! Trump Impeachment Trial Liveblog, Day Four!

The president is neither an innocent man nor a well man.

OK! Here we go! One more day of impeachment trial liveblog and then this week will be ov-HAHAHA just kidding, this shit runs on Saturdays too. Trump is upset about that, because his very good lawyers will be beginning their case on Saturday, which he says is "Death Valley" of TV. And they are such very good lawyers too!

Or maybe they are not very good lawyers?

Wow, for once in our entire lives, we agree with Matt Gaetz. Trump's lawyers are so fucked right now. Maybe it is good (for them) that they have to start their business on Saturday.

Anyway, let's see what else is happening, oh nothing except for LORDY THERE ARE TAPES. And they are ... Igor tapes?

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Impeachment

Trump Big, Peach Small! How He Will Fit Into This Roundup?

GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

Did you miss Adam Schiff's closing speech last night? It was a stemwinder and you should watch it right now if you weren't hanging out with Evan last night for the neverending liveblog.

Colonel Vindman said, "Here, right matters." Here, right matters. Well, let me tell you something. If right doesn't matter, it doesn't matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn't matter how brilliant the Framers were. It doesn't matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. Doesn't matter how well written the oath of impartiality is. If right doesn't matter, we're lost. If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost. The Framers couldn't protect us from ourselves if right and truth doesn't matter.

And you know that what he did was not right. You know that's what they do in the old country, where Col. Vindman's father came from, or the old country that my great grandfather came from. [...]

No Constitution can protect us if right doesn't matter. And you know that you can't trust this president to do what's right for this country. You trust that he will do what's right for Donald Trump. He'll do it now, he's done it before, he'll do it for the next several months, he'll do it in the election if he's allowed to. This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.

And right on time, Donald Trump's leaning on those senators to do what's right for Donald Trump.

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Impeachment

Bored Sixth-Graders Offer Tips To Help Republicans Behave Themselves At Impeachment Trial

If they hadn't already decided the outcome such behavior by a jury could be bad.

The day after Chief Justice John Roberts told both sides in Donald Trump's impeachment trial to behaaave themselves and remember they're speaking before the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, several Republican senators decided Wednesday they found the whole thing tedious, so they left their seats, ducked out to the cloakrooms, nodded off, and generally behaved like they were being forced to listen to a mandatory school assembly on railroad safety, only without even the prospect of some gory accident footage. Decorum is for losers, man. We suspect that by midafternoon today they were openly lighting their farts.

We suppose it only makes sense they'd make a great show of performing just how bored they are, like a common Fox News host would. That seems in keeping with Trump's defense team's presenting a load of Fox News talking points Tuesday, instead of any attempt to defend Trump's actual behavior.

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Impeachment

We *Think* Democrats Would Like Some Witnesses And Documents. Impeachment Liveblog, Day Three!

Hard to say for sure!

You guys, the Democrats are so fucking on message, and it is a sight to behold. As we've watched the first two days of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, we've noticed that, on top of how the Trump idiot lawyers are so outgunned and outmatched and big stupid idiot, the Democrats, led by Adam Schiff, are just brilliantly bringing the fight for witnesses and documents to the forefront every five minutes, so nobody will forget the cover-up the Republicans are trying to pull off.

"Don't you want to see that State Department cable John Bolton ordered Ambassador Bill Taylor to send? Wouldn't that be a cool document to get to read with your own eyeballs?"

Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats gave a presser this morning, and when Mazie Hirono wasn't making fun of Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone for saying Trump is a "man of his word" (she said she wrote in her notepad "what a wHoPpeR!!11!1"), Schumer and the others were blasting Trump's lawyers for how unprepared they are, and also too talking about witnesses and documents. Schumer noted that Democrats aren't even sure what the documents they are requesting say -- they could be totally exculpatory for the president! (He helpfully defined "exculpatory," we guess in case Trump was watching.)

Funny how Dems are willing to take that risk, yet Republicans are bedshitting terrified of it. It's almost like they know how guilty Trump is.

Republicans have been whining about how, despite how they are all paying really good attention, except for when they keep leaving the room for long stretches even though it is against the #rules, they are just not seeing anything new, waaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAH! (They are also whining that the Democrats say too many words.) Schumer -- or maybe it was another Senate Democrat, we forgot -- noted that if they are in the mood for #NewThings, he has this idea, and it is called subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

What a novel idea, for a trial!

In conclusion, Lindsey Graham says Adam Schiff is good at #talk:

Let us go forth and liveblog!

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Journamalism

Fox News Keeps America Up To Date On Everything But Impeachment

Concerned viewers worried the My Pillow guy might be removed from office.

Fox News has met the challenge of covering Donald Trump's impeachment trial with its usual aplomb. Mostly by not covering the trial at all, because on Wednesday at least it was just boring old Democrats saying terrible things about Donald Trump, and what Fox viewer wanted to see that? Wednesday morning, The "Fox & Friends" crew advised viewers to just not bother watching the trial at all, because SO BORING and you wouldn't want to go getting any information on you that hasn't been filtered by Fox.

Steve Doocy let viewers know they could rely on Fox to show them snippets of "the good stuff," proclaimed the proceedings "unbelievably boring," and added, "I don't know how people can follow it." Because it's so very complex, unlike the wacky conspiracy theories Fox pushes. Pete Hegseth said he'd exclaimed to his wife that Tuesday's debate on witnesses and evidence was "a circus," but then she corrected him, adding that "at least circuses are entertaining." Worse, now America has "three days to endure of the House managers, the Democrats, making their case," and oh God, how will we ever survive it? Ainsley Earhardt made clear there's no need for viewers to torment what's left of their attention spans, thank heavens: "I don't think the majority of people watched. I think they just turn to us to be able to summarize it for them, because it was so long."

The Fox viewers had their marching orders -- or their couch-potatoing orders -- and the network did all it could to tell people to stay away, with anchors repeatedly warning the trial might bore them to death or even sound like "a graduate course in boring mathematics or something." Ugh. NO THANK YOU!

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News

Stupid Man Who Is Somehow US President Embarrasses Himself At Davos

'She beat me out on Time magazine,' says grown man about teenage girl.

Donald Trump's impeachment trial is underway, but he's still free to embarrass us. The Constitution doesn't cover everything. Trump showed his ass at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was a collection of Trump's worst hits that you forgot to send back to Columbia Record House in time so you're stuck with it.

Hey, did you know that Trump believes his impeachment is a "hoax" and a "disgrace"? He sure does. He also fully exonerated himself by confessing some more. His lawyers should remind him about that whole "right to remain silent," but then someone would have to tell them.

Trump also beat up on the media. He said if we could "straighten out the press" we would "have a place that would be so incredible," like presumably Brigadoon or Putin's Russia. He claimed once again that the press is "so dishonest," as if journalists aren't accountable to libel laws. Trump's evidence of dishonesty is the absence of positive stories about him.

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Impeachment

John Roberts Not Our Real Dad, Can't Make Us Be Nice. Impeachment Trial Liveblog, Day Two!

'Pettifogging.' PFFFFFFFFT.

Hola! Time for the opening arguments part of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump.

Late last night after we went to bed, apparently there was some kind of dust-up where Jerry Nadler and the Democrats were tired of the constant lying and bullshit from Donald Trump's lying bullshit lawyers, and Trump assface lawyer Pat Cipollone acted like a real dick too, and Chief Justice John Roberts felt the need to "admonish" both sides like a common Chuck Todd and "remember [you] are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body." (Objection! Asserts facts not in evidence.) Roberts even pulled an olden-timey term out of the spare gavel he keeps inside his bottom (allegedly), and referenced a 1905 impeachment trial where a guy got in big trouble for "pettifogging."

For the record, this is all Jerry Nadler said that was supposedly so bad:

"Either you want the truth and you must permit the witnesses or you want a shameful cover-up. History will judge and so will the electorate," Nadler argued.

Whatever, that is just true.

Anyway, John Roberts is not our real dad and not your real dad either and he can't tell us what to do, so we will not be nice, and we'll continue calling Trump's lawyers the lying loser assholes they are, making jokes all the way about how they are booger-staining their careers for all eternity and will be remembered in the history books just like that, as booger-stains.

Also they are bad at TV.

Shall we watch the opening arguments together? Democrats start things off, for the next three days or so probably, after which Trump's lawyers will fill up to 12 hours of opening arguments by lying and yelling "PERFECT CALL!" or something. We don't envy their position, having to defend the world's stupidest criminal.

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