Thursday, October 3, 2019


President Sauli Niinistö has a #MeToo moment, via.

Chairman Schiff paraphrasing Trump's message in the 25 July phone call to President Zelenskyy, via PolitiFact:
Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates: ‘We've been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what? I don't see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though. And I'm going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it. On this and on that. I’m going to put you in touch with people, not just any people. I’m going to put you in touch with the attorney general of the United States, my attorney general Bill Barr. He’s got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him. And I’m going to put you in touch with (presidential attorney) Rudy (Giuliani). You’re going to love him, trust me. You know what I’m asking and so I’m only going to say this a few more times, in a few more ways. And by the way, don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.’
Donald Trump, on Schiff's paraphrase, in yesterday's press availability with President Niniistö, via
It should be criminal. It should be treasonous. He made it up. Every word of it, made up and read to Congress as though I said it, and I’ll tell you what, he should be forced to resign from Congress. Adam Schiff. He’s a lowlife. He should be forced to resign. He took a perfect conversation, realized he couldn’t read it to Congress because it was perfect. It was a very nice conversation.
Trump paraphrasing former president Obama, in yesterday's press availability with President Niinistö:

I just thought that was funny.

Obligatory note: The not "nice" or "perfect" thing Obama was talking about, in that hot mic incident with President Medvedev at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in 2012, was his interest in building on the achievement of the 2010 New Start treaty with further missile reductions and making the planned NATO missile defense system in Europe feel less like a threat to the Russians, which indeed couldn't be done in the middle of the presidential campaign with Willard Mitt Romney denouncing Russia as America's no. 1 geopolitical foe, which was too bad, as was reported at Global Security Newswire at the time:
“What the president said in front of an open mic was unfortunate and feeds suspicions of those who are already suspicious about everything Obama,” John Isaacs, executive director of the Council for a Livable World, said on Tuesday.
“But I think it is fair to say that difficult problems such as missile defense cooperation with Russia, North Korea, Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian issues will not be solved in the current white-hot political environment,” he told GSN.  “A compromise with the Russians on missile defense that brings in Russian radars could make the phased adaptive system for Europe more effective than is likely without it.”
It had always been part of his nuclear policy, not some kind of secret, however much the Republican minority in the Senate may have disliked it, and what he was transmitting through Medvedev to the incoming President Putin was that he hadn't given it up.
“The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” [Obama] told reporters.  “Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong understanding, both between countries and within countries.”
Who knows what difference a more cooperative atmosphere might have made after Putin resumed the presidency and the Ukrainian revolution began (over the issue of Ukrainian relations with Western Europe—it's odd to realize Paul Manafort was advising President Yanukovych at the time Yanukovych doomed himself by deciding, presumably on Putin's orders, to put off signing an agreement of association with the EU)? We know Republicans made sure we would never find out, seizing on this "issue".

Nowadays rightwingers refer to it the way Trump did in the news conference, with absolutely zero idea of what it was about, as a kind of shorthand expression of their belief that Obama was in some way personally corrupt like Trump—"What about Obama's conversation, you never report that?"—and therefore exculpating for Trump. It's kind of delicious that Trump is practicing this, tarring an old enemy with a decontextualized paraphrase, on the very occasion when he is in a volcanic rage in the belief Schiff has done that to him.

There's another level of that in Schiff's paraphrase, when he has Trump asking Zelensky to "make up dirt", which I think may be what's offending Trump the most. Trump does have a sense of "making things up" about himself and his family, as we've seen when he commandeered the effort to conceal the nature of the Veselnitskaya meeting, or when he ordered McGahn to create a bogus document as "proof" that he hadn't asked McGahn to fire Mueller. But his concept of being able to know what other people are doing is very fragile, and I think he's completely willing to believe that "the Bidens" (now collapsed into a single entity the way "the Clintons" were in the 2016 campaign) are really guilty of something, or at least that there's probably perfectly good evidence for it lying around somewhere.

He can't somehow imagine the process of acquiring "dirt", which is the workers' job anyway, and requires some kind of technical skill beyond his grasp, but he absolutely distinguishes it from "making stuff up", which is really bad unless you're doing it on your own account. The ignorance as much as the guilt, and the fear of getting caught being stupid, seem to me to be behind his rage with Jeff Mason/Reuters for asking him about it in yesterday's crazy presser:

And perhaps his rage with Schiff too.

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