On today's BradCast, Donald Trump needs a LOT of defending --- on virtually every front today. Lucky for him he's still got quite a few willing chumps, suckers and patsies willing to go down with his ship, from elected officials in Congress, to entire media networks invested in his criminal wingnuttery, to the best team of shameless lawyers his dirty money can buy. [Audio link to full show follows below.]
We kick off today with the remarkable argument offered by one his shameless attorneys in a federal appeals court in Manhattan, where a lower court judge recently ruled against Trump in his suit to block his longtime tax accountants at Mazars USA from turning over eight years of his tax and other financial documents as subpoenaed by state prosecutors. The probe is into payments made while Trump was in the White House to reimburse his then-attorney, now-convicted felon Michael Cohen for hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 Presidential election.
After the lower federal court judge virtually laughed the Trump attorneys out of court earlier this month, finding their argument that a President may not be indicted or even investigated at the federal OR state level to be "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values," Team Trump quickly appealed to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard his argument today.
During today's hearing, the 3-judge federal panel, citing an infamous quip about Trump's ability to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any supporters, queried Trump attorney William Consovoy on whether law enforcement officials would be Constitutionally allowed to investigate or do anything about it, if that literally occurred. The President's attorney said no, they could not. It's a hypothetical that I've raised several times in the past, in response to the absurd, Constitutionally-weak, decades-old DoJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion memo asserting that a sitting President may not be criminal indicted. That OLC memo, never tested in a court of law, though cited by Robert Mueller when he failed to bring criminal Obstruction of Justice charges against the President despite mountains of supporting evidence, will now almost certainly have its day before the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court in this matter.
Then, the many desperate attempts made by Republicans last night and today to try and defend the President following Tuesday's "damning" testimony to House impeachment investigators by Bill Taylor, Trump's acting Ambassador to Ukraine. The veteran diplomat rocked D.C. with his meticulously detailed recounting of how he learned that Trump was personally behind the quid pro quo pressure campaign to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless its recently elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly promised an investigation into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.
With no clear messaging campaign to push back against the explosive charges at the heart of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, Republicans from the White House to Congress to Fox "News" have been flailing over the past 24 hours. The White House Press Secretary released a statement attempting to tar the longtime civil servant and military veteran Taylor as a "radical unelected bureaucrat waging war on the Constitution"; Trump's former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker took to Fox "News" to declare that "abuse of power" is not actually a crime; and Trump's far-right allies in the U.S. House stormed a secure room in the basement of the Capitol in a faux "riot" (reminiscent of the infamous "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Florida in 2000) to stall the planned impeachment deposition of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. It is believed Cooper was to testify on the Pentagon's finding that the White House's withholding of Congressionally-allocated military assistance to Ukraine was, in fact, unlawful.
Some of Trump's defenders today have been arguing that Taylor's testimony highlighted that Zelensky didn't know about the withheld U.S. military assistance and, therefore, the Administration's pressure campaign could not possibly have amounted to a quid pro quo. That argument, however, was neatly eviscerated late today via an exclusive from Associated Press, reporting that Zelensky was aware of the White House pressure campaign and the potential of losing U.S. aid if he didn't play ball in Trump's political scheme, as early as May of this year.
Finally today, the stalled impeachment deposition was not the only hearing on Capitol Hill today. Desi Doyen joins us for some highlights from a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday in which Exxon Mobil scientists testified about the oil giant's knowledge, decades ago, that the use of their product was endangering humanity by warming the globe, even as Exxon invested millions in an "immoral" public relations campaign to convince the world that the science on the matter was in doubt...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)