What Did Trump Promise To The President Of Ukraine? Or Russia? Or, You Know, Whomever?
Wednesday night, the Washington Post confirmed some of the worst fears we've all had about the story Liz (your Five Dollar Feminist) has been covering all week, of the intelligence community whistleblower who came forward through the proper channels to report that SOMETHING VERY BAD had happened, something he or she found of grave enough concern to take it to Joseph Atkinson, the inspector general of the entire IC, who took it to acting DNI Joseph Maguire, who then, instead of following the law, took it to Trump's Roy Cohn at the Justice Department, who immediately fired up the cover-up machine on all cylinders.
It's about Trump. Just after we learned that the CIA had to extract our most valuable asset in the Kremlin in 2017, partially out of worry that Trump would burn the source's identity to Putin, we now learn that Trump made a "promise" to an unnamed foreign leader that was so off the chain that it's set the intel community on fire:
Trump's interaction with the foreign leader included a "promise" that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president's handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.
The sources are two "former US officials," which is interesting, since whatever Trump did, he did it very recently, so either these are two very recently "former" US officials -- Hey, former DNI Dan Coats! You make friends with a Washington Post reporter? 'Sup, Sue Gordon? -- or people on the inside are freaked out and leaking to veterans on the outside to get the news to the people.
When Intelligence Community Inspector General Joseph Atkinson received this whistle-blowing communique, he agreed with the person who lodged it that it was of "urgent concern," which happens to be more than just a feeling in his heart, but a certain legal threshold that requires the complaint be delivered to the intelligence committees in Congress, no ifs, ands, or buts. So he forwarded it to Maguire, who, according to The Law, should have delivered it to Congress within seven days. Instead Maguire went to Trump's Department of Justice. And because the Department of Justice's function under Bill Barr is mostly just doing rimjobs to Donald Trump, it invented an excuse to break the law, namely that the whistleblower complaint didn't involve somebody who was part of the intelligence community, therefore FUCK THE PO-LICE! This set people off speculating that maybe it was about the big Russian asset himself. Also, as the Post notes, the DNI's lawyer told the House Intelligence Committee that maybe the contents of the complaint were "confidential and potentially privileged," and who likes to invent "privilege" where it doesn't actually exist? Yeah.
Therefore, Joseph Maguire doesn't HAVE to give Congress the complaint (even though ACTUALLY FACT CHECK YES he does), because the entire ethos of the Trump administration is that Congress is not its real dad. Atkinson, the inspector general, remained sufficiently freaked out that he alerted House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff to at least the existence of the complaint, if not the substance. And Schiff went public a few days ago!
(By the way, according to the Post, Maguire is pained by all this, he's just agonizing over it. According to his pals, he is mad at both Justice and the White House for putting him in this terrible spot where he has to refuse to simply do his goddamned fucking job.)
(Also by the way, Atkinson is testifying behind closed doors with the House Intel Committee right this second. It will be interesting to try to decipher Schiff's mood when he walks out of that room. If his skin has gone pale, we are in a truly "oh shit" moment as a country.)
The entire internet is now trying to speculate as to what exactly is the substance of the complaint, and what kind of traitorous un-American thing Trump promised to a foreign leader. Was it a bribe? Was it just Trump selling out American national security for his own purposes? Was he giving Putin the nuclear codes? It's pointless to speculate, not that we're not about to do that very thing in just a minute.
The Post offers some clues to get us started:
The complaint was filed with Atkinson's office on Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.
Among them was a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House initiated on July 31. Trump also received at least two letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the summer, describing them as "beautiful" messages. [...]
Trump met with other foreign leaders at the White House in July, including the prime minister of Pakistan, the prime minister of the Netherlands and the emir of Qatar.
Maybe he promised Ivanka to the Dutch prime minister in exchange for a princess he's not related to. Maybe he promised Melania to the prime minister of Denmark in exchange for Greenland.
A lot of people are mentioning the possibility that Trump told state secrets to a foreign leader, but we don't think it's that, because that's not as much a "promise" as it is simply the president being a Russian intelligence asset with loose lips and a fragile ego hellbent on impressing leaders he thinks are cool. Also, as the president is the ultimate declassifying authority in the country, that might not rise to the level of "urgent," at least according to the law. However:
Revealing how the United States obtained sensitive information could "compromise intelligence means and methods and potentially the lives of sources," said Joel Brenner, former inspector general for the National Security Agency.
So there's that.
Wonkette's national security staff (YES WE HAVE ONE YOU FUCKERS) spent much of the evening in Wonkette's secret Situation Room (ALSO GOT ONE OF THOSE!) last evening wildly speculating, and we think we have come up with the two best theories. You know, unless Donald Trump promised Kim Jong Un California, if Kim would promise to make the next beautiful letter he sends Trump a scratch 'n' sniff covered in the dictator's pee. (Plausible!) Or, you know, promised to take all our spies out of North Korea, on account of how Trump hates spies and loves Kim Jong Un. (Also plausible!)
One of our theories, we notice, is not being mentioned many other places, so it may be the case that YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.
One of the calls Trump had with a foreign leader around the time in question that the Post does not mention is a phone call with the president of Ukraine on July 25. Reportedly he and Volodymyr Zelenskiy talked about Zelsnskiy's parliamentary victories and "ways to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, including energy and economic cooperation." Also:
Zelenskiy thanked Trump for keeping and strengthening sanctions against Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, kicking off a five-year war that has killed around 13,000 people.
HERE'S THE THING ABOUT THAT!
Donald Trump just the other day finally stopped holding up $250 million in already approved military aid to Ukraine, aid specifically to help Ukraine fight against Russia, which he was trying to strangle in its crib for what we imagine were pro-Putin bullshit reasons. He only unfroze it because Congress -- Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham in particular -- forced him to, just like in the past he's only signed Russian sanctions because Congress forced him to. He finally lifted the hold last Wednesday, which was September 11, two days before Adam Schiff went public with the existence of the whistleblower complaint. (And reportedly the State Department is sweetening the pot for Ukraine with another $140 million in aid, maybe!)
Trump does not generally support Ukraine's resistance efforts against Russia, and he does generally support Putin's "annexation" (what a stupid euphemism that is for INVASION) of the Crimean peninsula. He runs around all the time, including at the recent G7, talking about how Putin was only kicked out of the G7 (then the G8) because he "outsmarted" Obama, when it actually was international punishment for the Crimean invasion. At other times, he's essentially argued that Putin has a right to that land, because after all, those people speak Russian, so Putin must be the real boss of them.
So what might Ukraine be able to do for Trump? Have you heard of ... UKRAINIUM ONE? AKA the fake "scandal" Rudy Giuliani has been traveling the world trying to encourage Ukraine to "investigate," as Trump has been essentially demanding the Ukrainian government open a fake investigation in order to prove "corruption" by Joe Biden? (It is such a complicated and convoluted and stupid story, but if you need to crash-course, Liz has been writing about that too. It's a made-up claim that Biden somehow forced Ukraine to stop an investigation and fire the prosecutor looking into a company his idiot son Hunter was on the board of.) Also Giuliani wants Ukraine to FESS UP and say its government only paid Paul Manafort blood money in order to do Deep State plots against Trump, God, who even knows what that senile old shitstain is talking about.
Trump has been all but saying out loud that Ukraine doesn't get the cash unless it investigates Biden, because Trump is apparently terrified of Biden, so we can absolutely see a scenario where Arty McDeals tries to Art of the Deal his way into bribing Ukraine into ratfucking Biden for him, in exchange for not cutting off this particular aid that Putin wants cut off. There have been hints in the media that Trump brought up the Biden situation with Zelenskiy.
Oh, another thing: Remember all that money Trump wants to steal from the military to pay for WALL? Rachel Maddow reported two weeks ago on how a lot of the money Trump wants to steal is specifically money allocated as part of the European Deterrence Initiative, formerly known as the European Reassurance Initiative, which the Obama administration started in 2014 to protect NATO members and Eastern European allies from the Russians.
Trump Dismantling US Response To Russian Annexation Of Crimea | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC www.youtube.com
Did the whistleblower witness or see a closely guarded read-out of Donald Trump offering an explicit quid pro quo to the president of Ukraine, wherein he'd release aid and maybe add some new aid, despite his real father Vladimir Putin's best interests, in exchange for Ukraine meddling in the 2020 election to benefit Trump?
That could be it!
Pooty Poot Poot Poot Poot!
OK, literally everyone hears "Trump promised a foreign leader something so egregious it's setting the American intelligence community on FIRE" and immediately thinks "Oh Christ, what did the traitor promise his KGB handler now?" And honestly, we do think that's almost equally as good a theory as the Ukraine thing.
Trump and Putin talked on July 31, and the US readout on the call was ... weird. It said Trump was just real upset about wildfires in Siberia, when California was also on fire at the time, so unless Trump promised Putin RAKES to RAKE THE FOREST, we doubt they just talked about that. The Russian readout, on the other hand, had a very interesting thing about how Trump's offer to personally rake the Siberian forest raised hopes "fully-fledged bilateral relations could be restored in the future." Uh, really? Is that how that works?
Here's an idea -- take everything we just said about Ukraine and invert it. Could Arty McDeals have been promising Putin something, like perhaps promising not to give that military aid to Ukraine, or maybe promising to defund the European Deterrence Initiative, in exchange for PLEASE OH FUCKING PLEASE HACK THE FUCK OUT OF THE ELECTION SO I CAN BE BIG HUGE AMERICAN PRESIDENT AGAIN SOME MORE PLEASE OH PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE? I WILL DO ANYTHING YOU WANT! I WILL GIVE YOU IVANKA AFTER THE DUTCH ARE DONE WITH HER! I WILL GIVE YOU GREENLAND ONCE DENMARK GIVES ME IT!
Trump's 2016 "election" has not been a great investment for Putin, all things considered, because Trump is too stupid and incompetent to actually deliver on any of the Kremlin's wish list. He hasn't gotten much done on lifting sanctions, which is obviously Putin's highest priority -- though Munch at the Treasury Department has done some! But regardless of whether Putin has real kompromat on Trump aside from the fact that he stole the election for Trump, Putin does seem to have Trump "over a barrel," as evidenced by the many utterly bizarre things Trump has said and done that have ZERO to do with making America great again, but have EVERYTHING to do with Putin's grand strategic vision for reasserting Russia's dominance. Maybe Trump finally thought he figured out how to help Daddy Vladdy on the Ukraine situation?
Or maybe it's something else. Maybe Trump was promising Putin that he'd deliver unto him that valuable Russian asset we extricated in 2017, the one who told us Putin ordered the ratfucking operation to benefit Trump in 2016. Maybe it's not a coincidence that we learned that guy's identity recently.
Whatever it is, the intelligence community is freaking out and Adam Schiff is freaking out and now YOU ARE FREAKING OUT.
Brian Beutler put together some very interesting names and dates and faces in this Twitter thread:
In summary and in conclusion, the foreign leader in question was the president of the Republic of Maldives, and the promise was "so much pussy you're gonna get sick of pussy."
Unless it wasn't.
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